Movie Review: Last Radio Call, 2022 - ★★
Previous Authors in Isolation: LiAnne Kay
It’s been quite a while since I continued this series, isn’t it? It’s a new year, and more games than ever are being released. 2022 looks like it could be one of the biggest years in gaming in a long time, and already we’ve seen some pretty cool stuff, both on the indie and AAA front. I’ve continued installing and purchasing games while working on coding in Gamemaker studio. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a little article about my experiences with it in the future.
I have also started work on a massive project, where I create a gigantic resource spreadsheet covering in my eyes the greatest and most unique indie games you can find on the market today. I’ll talk about it more when I have more information. But yes. I’m continuing to play more games.
Awkward coughs, looking at the 120 games currently installed on my laptop
Well, as usual on here, I have a lot of interest in the indie scene, and intriguing titles release all the time. We’re on Episode 6 of this series now, but I feel we could be doing this forever. Which is great! More indie games for everyone. Today’s segment will only cover two games as I get back into writing more gaming articles and reviews, but I’ll make up for it next episode with a bigger segment!
The Lost King of Avallon
This thing released back in November, and it’s an interesting little gem. I love the concept of open ended sandbox games. They are hard to do right and incredibly difficult to do well. There’s a reason why there’s few dedicated ones on the market. The Lost King is another entry into the genre, blending sandbox with strategy and roguelike elements in a turn-based combat system. It’s simple enough in theory. Very simple, in fact. It’s getting some mixed reviews for that reason, but I don’t regret picking it up. As someone who has been involved in the industry for a few years, these kind of projects fascinate me and I’m always happy to support them.
Okay, there may not be too much of a game in here right now. It’s one of those Early Access releases. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It has most of the core features implemented already with some quests, with more to come over the coming months. It’s simplistic, and I admit it’s a bit repetitive. However, I believe in the game’s potential, and I’m enjoying it a lot despite its lack of complexity.
With a team of four, the player ventures the world of Avallon, completing quests, managing their team and defeating creatures and other factions. There’s plenty of items and equipment to buy and the dungeon crawling is surprisingly enjoyable, offering loot and consequences if the player decides to leave early without finishing the dungeon. City hubs are there to buy items, rest the party or take on quests.
It’s one of those engrossing games which doesn’t take too much energy to play. It reminds me a lot of Battle Brothers, but very casual and less refined. Of course, it’s a little unfair to compare Avallon to Battle Brothers due to the latter having years of experience and updates to fall back on, but the comparison needs to be made. Games do not evolve without this.
After a few hours, I’ve seen pretty much everything in the game. The quests end up repeating themselves; simple tasks which exist to keep the gameplay loop going. There’s not much to them right now, but that’s to be expected for a game early in development. The combat is a two click mechanic where party members move or attack. Nothing as in-depth as XCOM or Battle Brothers, but it does work and it’s interesting enough.
While it has its flaws, I really like the ideas The Lost King has. I’m a fan of the open ended sandbox mechanics, and even in a rudimentary state I’m enjoying myself enough. It needs work of course, especially in the mission design which feels lackluster in its current state. I’d keep an eye on this game in the future. It may end up surprising a lot of people. All I can say to the developer is to keep it up.
Cloudpunk – City of Ghosts
This is one impressive piece of DLC.
Cloudpunk was one of my favourite games released in 2020. While it’s more of a delivery driving sim with some patchy writing and voice acting, the game excels in visual design and worldbuilding. Playing as a Taxi driver in the cyberpunk city of Nivalis, it was an enjoyable, yet short romp which grew on me the more I played it. It has its weaknesses and I wish it had more dynamic things to do, but Cloudpunk is one of the most underrated indie titles on the market for its immersion alone. Being able to play the whole game in first person thanks to a late 2020 driving patch is what did it for me.
The Cloudpunk devs Ion Lands released a full-sized expansion in May 2021 called City of Ghosts. I got a copy of it for my birthday thanks to some lovely friends and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. I’m only a couple of hours into the expansion so far, but I feel it’s a major improvement over the original. Taking place two months after the ending of the original game, you play as Rania and a new character Hayse in a more dangerous and interactive story, providing car races and car customization.
The DLC improves in two major parts: story and world design. While the main world is basically the same as the original (though operating in its own seperate save file), there are major improvements to how the world setting is done. In the original areas like shop interiors were placeholders, blocky and relatively poor in visuals which did let down the games impressive immersion. City of Ghosts improves this considerably. While you still can’t go inside any of the buildings unless it’s part of the quest, they look nicer on the backdrop, and I can see many aspects of the world being improved as I play. The car interior looks sleeker and better designed as well.
One major critique I had of the original Cloudpunk game was that the writing and voice acting was subpar. Being a small indie team this was understandable and because most of the characters are AI drones or robots, having bland voices was somewhat realistic. I therefore found myself quite surprised when the expansion started off with much stronger voice acting. Rania was only a middling protagonist for me in the original but the voice acting has vastly improved for her during the development cycles as now, I’m more drawn to her and the surrounding characters. Early days yet in this expansion, but so far, I’m impressed. It’s rare for a piece of DLC to come with nearly as much content as the base game, if not more.
Ion Lands are working on an immersive sim called Nivalis. If they keep up their excellent visual design as well as blend interactive gameplay and environments, they have unlimited potential. I certainly recommend both Cloudpunk and City of Ghosts. Neither are too expensive, give them a go!