Deiland (PC) Review

Developer: Chibig | Publisher: 101XP || Overall: 9.0/10

Deiland is a fantastic game.  Think 3D Harvest Moon in space, or a more timely analogy, Stardew Valley in space.  Though, not as complex or farm-focused as these titles, Deiland takes a more streamlined and narrative approach to the farming sandbox genre.  An extremely charming and interesting game unfolds as you perform your typical farming/crafting tasks.

The basics of the game are pretty easy to grasp.  You have three plots of land to plant food.  You plant trees to cut them down and gather wood.  You hit rocks and get stones.  You use these resources to build.  Where it gets interesting is that there is actually not that much to worry about when it comes to how to build your farm, or what things to plant, or where to put things.  You can certainly pay attention to those things, but the way the game treats them is much more in the guise of “accomplish these quests/tasks” rather than the “customize it and make it look good” thing that most titles in this genre emphasize.

There is a greater sense of purpose in doing the “normal sandbox tasks” that you see yourself doing.  You’ll meet around ten different visitors/friends to do quests for, making you figure out how to use the tools you have been given in pursuit of completing them.  Nearly every quest teaches you a new item to craft, and as you gather more materials, you’ll learn more about the visitors themselves.  Since they actually “visit” your planet at random times, they can also overlap, which allows them to interact with one another; this gives the little planet of Deiland a much more communal feel to it.  You’ll also visit a couple of different locations off the planet, such as another planet called Ankora, so it gives the game a bigger feeling; though you’ll feel homesick for the quaint life of farming carrots in short order.

By far the most unique aspect is the planet of Deiland itself.  Your entire planet is your “farm.”  The planet is also very small and you can run around it in less than a minute.  You have all of your normal sandbox features, such as a mine, plots of land to plant food in, and a lake to fish in.  There’s plenty of empty space to plant as many trees/bushes as you like.  Your house is upgraded to include more types of items to craft, along with upgrading your tools.  All of the upgrading and new crafting items occur through the story, so as you progress through quests, your planet will develop further.  Meteorites will hit the planet as well, creating a mini-game where you have to rotate your planet so that the meteorites don’t hit anything valuable, or they will get destroyed.  When it rains you can also rotate your planet or the clouds themselves over your plants to make them produce faster.

A much appreciated quality of life inclusion is contextual actions.  For example, if you go over to a tree, you will immediately use your axe to cut it; same with stones, you will immediately use your hammer to hit them.  There is much less fumbling around with selecting tools than in Stardew Valley, and for this reason alone I generally enjoy playing Deiland more, which is a pretty big compliment.  Why this wasn’t an obvious design choice in other games, I can’t answer, but I really do like it.

While most of the quests can be completed by creating something on your farm, you can also buy your way through many of the quests by trading with the different visitors.  Each visitor will buy particular things at a higher price, so it is good to wait to sell certain things until you visit a particular character.  The characters themselves are all interesting in their own way, and about half of them don’t actually have models — they are just character art hiding inside of their spaceship or a building.  This isn’t a big deal for me, but it would have been nice to see all of them have their own models and give more personality to the characters you befriend.

The mystery of the player’s character, Arco, is slowly unfurled as you progress through the storyline.  You find several pages of the Prince’s “story” which alludes to the main villain. The story is a bit dark, with an unknown entity communicating to Arco through his dreams, saying creepy things.  You also learn about previous “Princes” and the fact that your best friend, Mun, may have ulterior motives.  It took about 10 hours for me to complete the main story, but unfortunately the ending is a bit sudden and you don’t expect it to be the end.  Supposedly, there is free DLC planned for December, which gives at least some hope that the story is planned on being concluded in a satisfying way.

As far as the bad things about the game, there isn’t too many, but there is some obviously underdeveloped aspects.  It would have been nice to have a couple more buildings to build on your planet.  After upgrading your house and building the barn there isn’t very much to invest your most common resources, Wood and Stone, into.  The fighting system is also pretty barebones, as your character basically only has one attack animation.  Having to kill enemies feels more like a chore than something fun.  Additionally, a few substantial ability unlocks occur at the end of the game, at which point you’re pretty much done playing, so new magic spells, for instance, have very low use.  For some reason you’re also not allowed to even use magic in the “boss stage” which doesn’t make much sense.  If you aren’t going to use it then, when would you want to use it?  Not that this is required, but there isn’t any sort of “endless dungeon” or meaningful combat progression system, so there’s not as much emphasis on the combat aspects despite being something you have to do a lot.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the game’s story conclude with whatever free DLC is being planned.  While I’m not a fan of releasing unfinished games, Deiland is far from being unfinished — there’s plenty to do and I had a lot of fun for the time I put into it.  It would have been nice to at least know that something more was coming immediately rather than having to research online about it.

Deiland is can be purchased on Steam.

 

Morphite (PC) Review

Developer: We’re Five Games/Blowfish Studios/Crescent Moon Games | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games || Overall: 8/10

Morphite is more than a game.  It’s about finding your purpose in life.  What is the meaning of your existence?  What is the point of anything?  Moreover, what is the point of Morphite‘s procedurally generated universe full of random planets?  I don’t know.

In a nutshell, Morphite is like a less ambitious version of No Man’s Sky.  You have plenty to “do” but there’s not really any motivation or purpose in doing “it.”  Outside of a single player story that has you finding out about the main character’s past and how it relates to the mysterious element morphite, there isn’t much impetus to “explore.”  You’ll want to find resources to upgrade your armor and ship, but the resources aren’t plentiful enough on planets to want to go grind for them.

Morphite has a full universe to explore with procedural planets, which is appealing to hear on its surface.  However, it would be hard to qualify these as actual “planets” considering their size and access, and its best to refer to them as “levels” instead.  In addition, the procedural planets aren’t anywhere near interesting or rewarding enough to warrant the effort of repeatedly visiting new ones.  I only ever wanted to run in one direction, hit a dead end, then leave.  The fauna is quite interesting and I hadn’t run over too many duplicates of creature models as I progressed through the storyline and visited a few of the random planets.

The story itself has hand-designed planets and boss battles, and they are usually way more fun to play on than the procedural levels.  The story takes about ten hours to complete, and there isn’t a point where the game says “ok, now explore” until you finish the story; outside of the random side missions you might come across until then, there honestly isn’t any point to exploration.  On the bright side, if you did want to explore every planet in the game, it will take you 5.9 x 103932349029302909530490394 hours, give or take a few exponents.  When you complete the game you’ll gain a significant buff to your ship’s capabilities, so if you are interested in experiencing more of the random levels, its probably better to wait until then.  Though, I haven’t seen much of a difference in levels the further you fly away from your origin point where all the story takes place.  So, your mileage will definitely vary, as once the story is over there’s nothing left to do but to visit these randomized levels.  On a more meta level, the long-term goal is to increase your character’s power by upgrading.  You are able to unlock new abilities by scanning plants and animals that pop up as rare, and have a special ability; using this scan in tandem with your other resources unlocks your potential.  With more upgrades, more planets become available for exploration, where you’ll continue scanning more and more.

Gameplay is your run of the mill first person shooter with different guns and explosives.  As you find more of the “elusive” morphite, you’ll get more weapons, as they morph into your new equipment.  Platforming and light puzzles will be the main activity other than shooting, but nothing usually on the scale of frustrating; some of the later story missions have interesting puzzle design.  You’ll occasionally run across items that will buff your character in small ways, such as a bracelet that gives you more health.  Ammo randomly spawns in boxes and you’ll probably be hurting for ammo at the beginning of the game when you only have a couple of weapons to use.  Later on there will be a lot more boxes to shoot open and more weapons to use, so this problem goes away eventually.  You can restock a moderate amount of ammo at the pod you used to land on the planet, but you’re usually going to be far away from the pod by the time you need it.  When you run out of ammo completely, your weapons will recharge up to a certain point, but anything over that number will require extra ammo drops.  Considering your ammo doesn’t recharge very quickly, this hinders your gameplay experience in the shooter department as you’ll have to run away a lot as there are no permanent melee weapons.  Relying on Puggles, who is a dog with a laser cannon on his back, to do most of your dirty work is the best way to conserve ammo.

Collecting resources to upgrade your stuff can be a grind, but the resources are so scarce its forced to become an afterthought usually.  Its also hard to monitor how much you have if you have the opportunity to buy more resources or the time to upgrade comes around.  No numbers fly up telling you what you’re currently at — you’ll have to menu hunt to see your current stock.  There’s also some story encounters while traveling from system to system where you’ll either get lucky or unlucky.  You may fly into an asteroid field where you actually get to control your ship for a bit, or lose resources due to pirates, or run across a trader from whom you can spend “Chunks” at to buy resources.  Chunks are the currency in this universe, and the primary way of earning Chunks is through selling “Common Scans” of plants and animals, whereas “Rare Scans” are used to upgrade yourself (or you can sell for a much higher price).  Unfortunately, scanning is pretty fucking awful until you upgrade it a bunch of times, and even then its sad that this is the only way to really make money in this game.  Resources are not found nearly as often to want to ever sell them, and the amount of Chunks you get from ammo boxes and the like is usually very low.

When traveling from system to system, you’ll also have to wait for your fuel to recharge.  This forces you to go space stations (which are available in every system) to refuel, or you can waste time and wait for it to refill automatically. You can use this time to explore a random planet, or do your laundry.  It’s your choice what you think is more productive.  The side missions I came across were also not appealing to try and complete as the rewards they offered were usually not that exciting.  I only ran across one side mission that I could complete then and there; most seem to want to send you out into another part of the universe to complete and I’m not about that life.

The standouts here are the art style and the music.  The art is actually quite fun and reminds me of old 3D DOS games, but obviously this title is much more detailed in certain aspects than that.  Low Poly definitely has its benefit when it comes to space as detail can often be left to the imagination.  The ambient music also fits the space theme accordingly and I was really digging everything I was listening to, which seemed to be at least ten different tracks.  The variety of music is done well and each song sounded was good in its own right, I would probably listen to this soundtrack on its own.  There was also weird sound mixing with the voice overs, sometimes the music would overtake the voice over and you could only understand what they were saying by reading the subtitles.

User interface is another story, however.  The space navigation screens, typography, and the menus all seemed like afterthoughts.  The spaceship cockpit distracted me in a way that felt as if it looked unfinished and they forgot to put some more polish into making it look good.  It’s quite odd, because you arguably spend the most time seeing your spaceship and the menus, but everything else about the game looks great.  Besides that, the usability of the user interface is much more clunky than I’d like and its a pain to use a controller to navigate it.  Considering this title is meant to be released on a phone, you can see some of the design decisions were not built for a controller, and too spread out for mouse/keyboard.  Its also a huge pain to switch weapons — how you can screw this up in a first person shooter is beyond me, but there’s no easy and quick way to switch to your weapons with a controller, and you are relegated to another menu hunt to switch logically.  This becomes increasingly exacerbated as there will be puzzles that require you to switch between three different weapons over and over.  Keyboard/Mouse isn’t much better and you’ll have to remember which weapon is assigned to the numbers on the keyboard.  You can also use the scroll wheel to go one by one, or menu hunt then click “equip” once you find what you want — there are N64 games that are easier to switch weapons in.

Admittedly, its hard to get too excited about Morphite, but it is fun while your interest holds.  The story isn’t too long and I don’t think it overstays its welcome.  The ending is anticlimactic and the boss battles tend to be a bit on the easy side.  The mystery of the story is good while it lasts, and it never takes itself too seriously, not to mention it takes a dark turn towards the end that I wouldn’t have guessed would be part of the story.  Coming into Morphite thinking you’re going to be playing an indie sci-fi shooter is a better way to go about it than thinking its anything related to No Man’s Sky.

 

Joke #21192: Astronomy Notes

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the planetarium where we’re going to have another great day of astronomy notes. Looks to be a promising day as I see class hasn’t even started and a kid to my left, the teacher’s right, has already fallen asleep. OK, so class is now underway and his first issue of discussion is yelling at some kid for reading the BG News in class. Talk about taking the bull by the horns. Now we see him display information on the overhead. Personally, I see two things wrong with this. 1) It has words and number on it that no one in this class understands, and 2) The fricken print is about a size six font, it’s too small to even read! How are the students taking to this? Well, the one kid’s still asleep and another is playing games on his calculator. He’s obviously been in this class long enough to know how to pass the time. Kudos to you young man, kudos to you. Back to class at hand though. Let’s listen in with our in-class mic we have secretly attached to the professor. “Be glad you don’t live on Jupiter because if you did, you wouldn’t have a surface to live on, you would weight 2 1/2 times more than what you do here, and you would have about 25 more moons to memorize.”

Well that’s some good information. Obvious. But good. I tell you what, if I didn’t have a surface to stand on, I sure wouldn’t want to live there. Ah, now we see some information we can actually read. This has caught some of the students. One point for the teacher. I believe the students are still in the lead 3-1 however, due to the two kids sleeping and the calculator playing fellow. Well I’ve been part of some boring astronomy classes, but wow. Today’s is just bad. I see some desperate measures are being taken now by the professor as he has resorted to his slides, flipping from one to the next in a flee of unorganization. That’s going to be scored as minus one point for him. Bad form. During his search for the right slide, I believe I heard someone mutter a “Boring.” What a horrible display of teaching skills. And now he shows us a slide of a picture of a planet’s moon and shows his fascination with how it looks like the Death Star from Star Wars. I believe it is time to end this. This day of class has been ended prematurely due to the teachers own stupidity. I can’t even write anymore. I quit. Enjoy the rest of your day, folks. Your final score is…

Well, honestly, who cares?.

 

The Mammoths In the Ocean

Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent civilization under the sea.  While you might be thinking it is a society of merpeople or single fish, you are wrong.  This society was created by mammoths. Mammoths wearing scuba gear.

Everyday they would refill their oxygen tanks at the Oxygen Station.  They would comb their hair and eat pop-tarts for lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast.  They would eat water for breakfast.

So, anyway, humans evolved and started shitting on the ocean and dumping their Twinkie wrappers in the middle of the Pacific like assholes.

This soon created a Trash Island that became as big as the Pacific itself.  Eventually, the Insectoid Empire declared the Trash Island as their sovereignty and announced war against the humans.  After a long, arduous game of Monopoly, the humans lost and agreed to fly to the moon and remake their society there since no one gives a shit about that place.

The Insectoid Empire enjoyed a long and prosperous reign on land but they wanted more.  The Ocean Mammoth embassy on the Trash Island gave the Insectoid Empire an idea.  Why not take over the Ocean Mammoth civilization?

A surgical strike at the mammoth’s Oxygen Stations sealed the deal and soon enough the streets of the Ocean Mammoth civilization were filled with drowned mammoths.  Eventually large schools of barracudas and piranhas came and ate all of them and destroyed all of their inventions, losing all of their technology forever.

The Insectoid Empire relished this victory and soon became an imperialistic power taking over one planet after the next.  They were parasites after all.

Moral of the story:  Foreign dependence is bad.

 

The Big Slap Theory

See the world didn’t begin with a big bang, it began with a big smack. God smacked the devil because the devil was beating him at twister. So god, with his bad sportsman ship and all, said: “I condemm you to be a Human” and the devil said: “NOOOOOOOOO oh well, as long as I get blunts and girls and superbowl’s” So then God smacked him and it created the devil to fart 9 times, each fart let out a planet. (Of course, he farted out venus first cause he just ate a chilly dog with extra cheese) and earth was the last one to pop out. Then god smacked him down to earth and thats how it all began.

 

Time Warp

One day a person named Ed was serving someone at Good Burger. The customer said, “I’d like to have a Good Shake please.” Ed said, “OK” then Ed shook him. The customer said, ” What are you doing? I’m going to Mondo Burger.” Then 2 aliens with 3 hands each came in. Ed said, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?” One alien said, “We want your planet……how much is it?” Ed says, “One Good Earth. That’ll be 8 bucks.” The alien said, “Thank you for selling your world for 8 bucks. We’ll send you to anytime in the past.” Ed said, “Cool” then he started shaking their hands in the middle of their stomachs and accidentally ripped them out. The alien said, “You have pulled out our hands from our stomachs!” Ed said, “Uh no.” “We will transport you to the midevil times now.” Then there was a circle over Ed. The circle sucked him up.

Meanwhile in the midevil times the evil God was about to kill the king. Then out of nowhere Ed fell on top of the evil God who died because the sword went through his head. Then Ed said, “Uh no.” The king said, “Thank you. You have saved me. I will grant you anything you want.” Ed said, “I want 8 bucks.” The king gave him 8 bucks and they lived happily ever after after Ed killed the king accidentally.

THE END

Moral: Violence don’t play that game.

 

Star Compactor

Prologue

I have a three day weekend coming up after finals. I’m going to play video games the whole time. It will be so relaxing. I won’t even have to tink! I can just sit in my room and stare at the TV. I can’t wait. Actually, that will probably never happen. So…anyway, you can read this story I wrote, if you want.

Chapter 1

“Yes, I have finally done it! I have constructed a trash compactor so large, that I will be able to crush the earth with it!” thought Ted, the repair guy from Venus. Ted was a simple man. Well, he was. One day a couple very rich peoplecame and told him to repair all 50 billion of their trash compactors. Ted just snapped. He was used to maybe one or two jobs a month, but this was too much. Ted took the trash compactors, and used them to create a giant trash compactor big enough to crush the Earth.

“Why the Earth, and not Venus?” you might ask? Well, one day he decided that the Earth was much too big, and it would be more efficient as a small cube. He would do the same to Venus, after.

Chapter 2

Bill was walking down the street having a normal day on Earth. He was going to buy a newspaper, then go home and read a book by the fire. The newspaper was for kindling. Suddenly, there was an eclipse. Bob looked up and saw the outline of something very huge that was blocking the sun. It looked a bit like the trash compactor in his kitchen that he used all the “pets” his kids brought home, only much bigger, obviously. Bill could hear a voice coming from the giant thing. This is what it said:

“Hello everyone. This is Ted the repair guy and yes, I am flying a giant trash compactor. Do not be alarmed! I come in peace….well, no, actually I don’t. I’m going to crush your planet into a small cube. I’m sorry if this has caused any inconvenience.”

Bill shrugged and said, “I never thought you could do that with a trash compactor…maybe I’ll crush the moon sometime.” And with that, Ted crushed the Earth and killed everything on it.

Chapter 3

The people of Venus were talking. They were talking about launching nuclear missles at the giant trash compactor. The problem was that they talked too much and Ted crushed them all before they had a chance to stop talking.

Epilogue

This story had one point. Never use trash compactors. You just heard how dangerous they are, so why use them at all? Trash compactors are just plain bad, and that goes for garbaged disposals too. Those things slice and dice things to peices. I can only imagine how many people die each year from the use of garbage disposals. Both of these things are dangerous, and you should avoid them at all costs

 

The Melon Conspiracy

The magical world of Melone. Melone was beautiful place. So green, free from corruption. And so beautiful. From far away, the planet looked like a Honeydew Melon, orbited by a watermelon moon.

The technologically less superior planet of Squashe resented the happiness of Melone. When Melone had all these nice shapen melons, Squashe’s squash was in all messed up shapes, and most looked like huge penises. It wasn’t a very comforting fact to know that you are eating a limp penis. Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini. The list goes on and on, and no one liked it. People treated Squashe like Squash. They passed it around the table, taking pokes at it and then pass it onto a gullible bastard who would eat the squash. No one liked Squashe. Not even the Squashens.

Squashens absolutely despised the Melonies, and often poked fun at them, even though none of their jokes were even funny. One was: What is the name of a male living on Melone? Melanie!

See? Its-not-funny. Anyway, RoboCop, the leader of Melone, decided enough was enough and RoboCop got all the Melonian armies and whupped Squashe’s ass. Yeah! Alright yessssss! Squashe stinks!!

RoboCop placed Melone’s flag on the highest point of Squashe. And so began the Melonian empire! This is what the flag looked like:

The END