First Impressions of… Dead Cells

Bloodied but not broken.

I would defy any who would suggest that after being impaled by jagged spikes, suffocating in toxic miasma, drowning in poisonous water, and being brutalised by a spiky ball I should cease my attempts to escape from this infernal prison. If anything these failures inspire me to do better. To suffer another unrelenting onslaught, but to actually be victorious this time. Not that I’ve been victorious even once. But this next attempt is sure to be the one. Dead Cells is an enjoyable journey through perilous environments, merciless opposition, and daunting boss encounters.

Of which I’ve only seen a handful.

But knowing that there are more challenging encounters in areas that I’ve yet to visit is only encouraging me to survive long enough to reach them. Which is easier said than done. Given that the success of any given attempt is dictated by the equipment that you find and its modifiers.

Reaching the Clock Room for the first time felt like a monumental success, but it was quickly overshadowed by randomising the modifiers on my weapons. Which led to me taking double damage. Which also led to me being absolutely slaughtered by the boss. And that was frustrating to say the least, but I now know that I’m never going to (willingly) take that as a modifier on any weapon. I could’ve dropped that weapon, too. Thus removing the +100% Damage Taken modifier. But these are lessons learned in hindsight, and will be worth considering when it inevitably happens again. But, knowing me, and how I’m often consumed by hubris, I’m likely to think that I’ll be able to survive those hits. So I doubt that I’ve learned anything. Especially when I’ve got Health Flasks, and I’ll believe that I’ll have a window of opportunity to use them.

For whom the corpse shatters.

But that’s what makes progression in Dead Cells unusually complex. Unlike similar experiences, you won’t necessarily be upgrading your character and making them stronger. Instead you’ll be discovering new Runes, unlocking additional Blueprints, investing Cells into passive benefits, or even acquiring Boss Stem Cells to further the challenge. None of which guarantees success. But does afford more opportunities to explore the world, and makes revisiting earlier areas much more exciting than it would otherwise be as you’re likely to discover something new.

Like the Ossuary.

A hellish domain in which one must not linger for long lest they be consumed by the nightmarish mist. But I’m reasonably certain that I’ll need to revisit its treacherous halls, as there could be new areas branching from its depths. Or there could be an undiscovered Rune there. Or both.

Surviving its harsh environment is but the first challenge. But one that I can overcome should I assess each threat as it presents itself, and not rush through the area. Something that I’m constantly reminding myself of. Not that I’d ever attest to being skilled with these kinds of experiences, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. And that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Something that’s fun. That punishes me for making slight mistakes. And that makes me reconsider the kind of person that I’ve become when that excites me. But I’m sure that we’ve all been wondering that for a while. Dead Cells has been such a refreshing experience, and has provided a consistently unforgiving challenge through its inhospitable biomes. And I highly recommend it to those that would like to be frustrated by their decisions more often than not.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… For The King

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Godsbeard, that is. Or just about any other herb that you find. Because ingesting herbs to benefit from their various properties is not something that they do in Fahrul, as they prefer to smoke them instead. Hence why every town has a limited supply. Everyone can enjoy the rich, smooth, smoky flavour of Panax with a fresh goblet of mead. Making this a fairly expensive habit, as each herb eventually becomes rather expensive.
For The King is a delightfully creative RPG featuring numerous campaigns, distinct character classes, and gruelling challenges.

Challenges bolstered by rising Chaos.

One of the many mechanics that you’ll need to be aware of, as letting Chaos amass only leads to ruination. Forcing you to fight devastating Chaos Beasts and destroy monuments dedicated to their profane master. Something that you really should try to avoid if at all possible.

You’ll encounter countless events during the different campaigns, and most require you to utilise different statistics through dice rolls. Some involve interacting with NPCs. And some others simply afford considerable boons to your current attempt. Most of these are unlocked by default, but some require the acquisition of Lore which can be spent in the (aptly named) Lore Store. This can be spent on unlocking new cosmetics, new events, new equipment, or new character classes and each contributes to increasingly diverse campaigns. Exponentially improving (and hastening) the experience with each failed attempt. It’s an interesting concept and one that perfectly suits this experience. One of braving the dangers on land, at sea, or in an endless dungeon under different conditions for different rewards.

There are pearls hidden deep in these perilous caves.

Unfortunately, it’s also an experience that seems almost entirely down to luck. Everything from moving across the world map to dealing damage in combat is a dice roll, and there are few ways to influence those dice rolls. Other than spending Focus Points to guarantee that a number of slots will be a success. But you can’t rely on having those, nor should you need to, as with reasonably decent statistics these dice rolls shouldn’t be risky, but they always seem to fail more often than not. Even when the percentages suggest that they shouldn’t be failing as often as they do.

Especially during combat.

I like the unusual status ailments, but there have been encounters where I’ve been unable to act for several turns. Due to being repeatedly slowed, shocked, cursed, and so on. Not that these encounters have resulted
in the death of my entire party, they’re just frustrating to watch.

For The King has some really interesting mechanics, but these mechanics rarely balance the absurdity that occurs during any of the campaigns. Not that I’m entirely sure whether these mechanics are functioning as they should be. I’ve sailed around for roughly an hour trying to find a quest that reduces Chaos, only to find that no-one has any available quests, only to find later that they did, but they were seeming unavailable until an arbitrary requirement had been met. Which is not to suggest that this is a terrible experience, just that I abhor investing ten hours into a campaign only to fail at the whims of luck. However, should this be the kind
of experience that you’re looking for, then I recommend For The King, as it’s such a fascinating concept that is only let down by its execution and its uneven randomisation.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Heroes of Hammerwatch

The adventuring life.

One of being eviscerated by traps, stabbed by skeletons, poisoned by giant maggots, and tormented by ghastly apparitions. One of climbing a tower to rid the nearby town of the evils that plague it, but having to pay an absurd amount of tax on any riches found within. And one of never being appreciated, despite all
that you’ve done for the benefit of others. Making it fairly analogous to every other career path. Heroes of Hammerwatch is a challenging journey through devilish dungeons, treacherous traps, perplexing puzzles, and brutal bosses.

Not that regular enemies are any less threatening.

Those can just as easily- and as abruptly- end an attempt, as became painfully apparent on many different occasions. Those failures weren’t as detrimental to my efforts as they could’ve been, though. As there were numerous forms of incremental progression that I was contributing to.

Progression that often involves The Outlook, as any resources that are recovered from expeditions can be invested into the town. Most buildings require rather costly upgrades to the Town Hall, but some only become available once an NPC has been rescued. New character classes are also unlocked in a similar fashion. With most requiring you to rescue an NPC and then unlock their associated building. Be it the Apothecary, the Tavern, the Chapel, the Guild Hall, or the Blacksmith these buildings are crucial to your eventual success. With some providing temporary buffs which last as long as the current attempt, others permanently strengthening your characters, and others unlocking entirely new progression mechanics. Exponentially increasing the chances that the next attempt won’t be an utter failure. Just a regular failure.

Be cleansed by fire!

There are a total of nine character classes, with seven available in the base game, and two available in
their respective DLC, of which five are unlocked by default and four are unlocked during your adventures. Along with the aforementioned mechanics, this results in a ludicrously content-dense experience that is enjoyable throughout. It is, however, one that requires a significant investment of time, but one that boasts considerable longevity for that investment. Progress is made slowly and steadily, but is always meaningful when it is made.

And is often immensely satisfying to witness.

Even if you’re immediately slain by something on the next floor. Knowing that you’ve made that progress is fulfilling enough. Especially when defeating a boss for the first time awards that character with a title related to their character class, which benefits every character under that profile.

Which does encourage you to invest time into building one of every character class, but that doesn’t become necessary as the passive benefits afforded by them might not be worth that investment. Such as the +% Gold Bonus from the Thief titles. You can attain similar (or better) benefits elsewhere, and those don’t require you to conceive an entirely new character build. One that you might not even enjoy playing. Or one that you might struggle to defeat bosses with. These mechanics do reward those who do build one of each character class, though. Which is great for me. I’m always doing that. But these unusual mechanics are what define Heroes of Hammerwatch as an experience, as they affect progression in ways that you might not expect. And that’s why I highly recommend it to those wishing to embrace their failures on a regular basis.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Loop Hero

Once more unto the abyss.

Gaze not into the emptiness of this nightmarish domain, lest something gazes back. Something gelatinous. Something that probably doesn’t have eyes now that I’m thinking about it. But then I don’t suppose that they need eyes, as their sole purpose seems to be endlessly travelling around this perpetual loop. And dropping cards. Cards that they’re carrying. Somehow. Loop Hero is an immensely satisfying jaunt through a post-apocalyptic universe, which features delightfully distinct character classes and surprisingly creative deck building mechanics.

Creative and deceptively complex.

Placing different cards next to each other often results in fascinating interactions. If, for example, you place a Vampire Mansion next to a Village, it results in the creation of a Ransacked Village. Which is dangerous, but eventually becomes a Count’s Land which affords even greater benefits.

Few of these interactions are solely beneficial to you, but are necessary despite the drawbacks that they introduce. The cards that you’ve placed influence the raw materials that are available on any given attempt, and the rarest materials often require increasingly dangerous, or complex, interactions. Which became painfully apparent when I tried to acquire two Astral Orbs. Raw materials can be used to improve your camp, to craft supply items, or as reagents in alchemy. New cards are unlocked by placing (or upgrading) various different things, and new character classes are unlocked by placing specific buildings. Most of these can only be built and placed once, but there are a few, such as the Farm and the Forest, that can be built multiple times (should you have the space) for multiplicative bonuses.

The hunt is upon us.

Of the character classes, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and two exhibit unique mechanics. The first, the Warrior, is the hardiest, and utilises different defensive statistics. The second, the Rogue, has unique trophy mechanics, and can dual-wield weapons. While the third, the Necromancer, has unique summoning mechanics, and relies on their skeletons to deal (and take) damage for them. Placing the Arsenal card unlocks an additional equipment slot, which allows each to utilise statistics otherwise unavailable to their character class.

Such as the Rogue utilising magical health.

It’s refreshing to see such creativity, and I can’t praise the developers highly enough for their meticulous attention to detail. I doubt that I’ll ever be able to see every interaction that exists between different cards,
and I couldn’t be happier about that. As it perfectly suits this experience.

One of constant experimentation. One of taking risks while carrying precious resources. One of embarking
on another loop even when you know that you shouldn’t. And one of being wholly absorbed in the enjoyment of these (often questionable) actions. Taking risks is a part of this experience, though. You can never be sure of what might change on the next loop, or how that is going to affect your survival. And that’s why I enjoy pushing each build to its limits. Failure is likely, but there are numerous mechanics which contribute to the longevity of this experience and keep it fresh. Hence why I’ve greatly enjoyed the time that I’ve spent with Loop Hero, and highly recommend it to those seeking exhilarating adventures on a perpetual loop. It really has been such a wonderfully engaging experience throughout.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Nexomon

One tamer and their Velokitti.

Choosing their very first Nexomon is a momentous occassion for any tamer, but when a feline species was offered, a feline species was chosen, and thus the theme for my team had been decided. They’re going to be playful felines. There aren’t feline Nexomon of every elemental type, though. So I brought Wiselie, Shermit, and Arctivore along with them. An owl, a crab, and a canine. Wiselie rekindled nostalgic childhood memories of an owl that I trained in a popular creature collecting video game, Shermit was arguably the most adorable, and Arctivore was the most devastating.

It’s a surprisingly formidable team.

And so we began our journey through wiggly bushes, vibrant locales, colourful locals, surmountable Overseers, and insurmountable Champions. Or so they’d like to think. Hours spent running between the same wiggly bushes outside of the Nexolord’s Tower would suggest otherwise.

If you’ve played creature collecting video games before, Nexomon is a very familiar experience but does introduce some interesting mechanics of its own. Notably, Stamina, which dictates how many skills a Nexomon can use, and steadily increases with each evolution. Skills also function differently. New skills are learned as a Nexomon gains levels, but you won’t need to delete any to make use of the newer ones, and they can be freely swapped around, allowing you to experiment with different types of elemental damage and effects. Or to tailor your Nexomon to a particular encounter. There’s a wide variety of skills to use, too. Everything from dealing elemental damage, to inflicting status effects, to buffing, to debuffing, and even healing. It’s an eclectic mix that encourages creativity and flexibility when battling.

Big chunky paws of fire.

Following the conclusion of the main campaign, Nexomon can also be reborn, which reverts their progression back to Lvl 5, but affords them higher statistical growth per level. You’d first do this to access the Netherworld and to battle the Wardens, as it’s a prerequisite for those events, but you can repeat the process with any Nexomon of adequate strength. Which could be useful when evolving Nexomon that you might be missing in the database, but it’s arguably easier to capture them in the wild. Unless it’s Clonky. Then it’s the rarest of all Nexomon and no tamer shall have them.

So many brown bushes. So few encounters.

Returning from the Netherworld allows myriad legendary Nexomon and the Wardens themselves to appear in the world. Of these, the Wardens are the most tedious, as you need to revisit each location to battle them, and there are sixty-five of them. Sixty-five. They’re not exactly easy to find, either.

But I’d consider these objectives optional if you’re finding them too tedious. If, however, you want to earn every achievement, then be prepared to walk around a lot. As you can’t complete the database without the legendary Nexomon and the Wardens. However, Luhava, the last entry in the database, isn’t tied to either. Encountering them shouldn’t be too tricky, though. I believe that they can be found anywhere, and that their appearance is dictated by the number of different Nexomon that you’ve captured. These moments of complexity balance the casual approach that Nexomon takes for the majority of its main campaign, allowing tenacious tamers to satiate their desire for challenging content. Resulting in a rather charming narrative-driven creature collecting experience that I’d recommend without hesitation.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie