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

First Impurressions of… Cat Quest II

Tales of a mewsical mewgician.

Who tours the flourishing fields of Felingard strumming their lute, opening gravitational rifts, and summoning lasers from space. Who traded the majority of their health for ranged magical damage, and who now relies on their trusty canine companion to deal physical damage while they frantically skirt around enemies. Cat Quest II is the wonderfully fun and mechanically diverse sequel to Cat Quest, which purrfectly illustrates how cats and dogs can coexist peacefully. Or could if they weren’t embroiled in a meaningless war being fought to prove the superiority of their species.

Magic has been greatly expanded in the sequel, too.

Which affords greater build pawsibilities, but equipping a magical weapon, such as the Bard Lute, drastically reduces your maximum health. So you’ll be trading survivability for heightened damage potential. However, there are a few weapons, such as the Stormbringer, that allow you to have both.

Due to the co-operative mechanics present in the sequel it’s pawsible to build towards both magical and physical damage, as you can easily switch to your canine (or feline) companion to defeat foes unaffected by either damage type. Of which there are quite a few. The individual damage types matter, too. As some enemies are entirely resistant to fire or arcane damage, but are susceptible to ice damage. Which encourages you to keep multiple magical weapons upgraded. While most magical armour will increase a certain damage type by 15% per piece, allowing you to deal 45% more damage if using the appropriate magical weapon as well. But you can also combine different sets for their statistical bonuses. Such as the Bard set which increases mana regeneration, or the Gentle set which reduces the mana cost of spells.

Those who set paw in this tomb will become terriers.

Until I reached Lvl 100 I always had my companion wearing the Dog Soldier set, which is interchangeable with the Cat Soldier set, depending on whether you favour health or armour, and increases experience gained from defeating enemies by 20% per piece. It feels as though equipment has been significantly rebalanced in the sequel, making it harder to choose between raw statistical bonuses and pawerful passive effects. Wearing the Arcane Mage Hat would’ve afforded higher arcane damage, but the Skeleton King Crown granted additional armour and increased survivability.

Which I was in dire need of when using a magical weapon.

Upgrading equipment has been simplified, too. Rather than opening chests and randomly acquiring upgrades, as you would in Cat Quest, you now visit Kit Cat (for armour) or Hotto Doggo (for weapons) to upgrade specific equipment, which costs slightly more but has a guaranteed result.

Cat Quest II is an incredibly impurressive sequel that revisits previously established mechanics and implements more intuitive iterations of them. Everything from equipment choices to enemy variety has more depth and feels more complex, which results in a greatly satisfying experience that’s delightfully fun. It’s also littered with just as many (if not more) cat puns. As is this post. With the release of the Mew World update the experience is at its best, with Mew Game being reintroduced alongside the Meowdifiers which make revisiting the campaign even more fun than it would be otherwise. Or more challenging. Depending on which approach you decide to take. I would highly recommend Cat Quest II to those looking for a light-hearted, enjoyable, feline-themed ARPG experience. Especially if you love cats as much as I do.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Operencia: The Stolen Sun

An unending darkness veils the land.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun is an ambitious old-fashioned dungeon crawling experience with modern sensibilities. It features numerous innovative approaches to traditional mechanics, notably when brewing potions, as gathering raw materials won’t be necessary, but you will need to discover and decipher the recipe. Potions replenish each time you rest, too. So you won’t need to repeatedly brew potions as you use them. Resting is accomplished via camping and is limited by the amount of firewood that you have, which encourages planning ahead and utilisation of different resources.

Exploration is generally pleasant while the majority of puzzles are logical enough.

However, party management is crucial, and that’s where this experience feels most flawed. Companions can be incredibly helpful or remarkably mundane, with the only capable healer being the last companion to join your party. Building anything but a Mage also feels extraordinarily ineffective.

As there are few companions that can cast magic, and ironically the most capable is the aforementioned healer. But only with lightning damage. There’s an abundance of companions that deal physical damage, though. But there’s only one companion built for ranged weapons, and his skills are limited in effectiveness. Which was one of my only sources of elemental damage while exploring the first few areas, as I’d opted to build a Warrior. As I (obviously) would. That’s not to say that companions aren’t useful. They are, but they can be confusing as sometimes their attribute points reflect completely different proficiencies than their skills suggest. Jóska has ridiculously high Agility, but doesn’t really seem to benefit from it as he has few skills requiring the use of a bow. I’ve honestly found his Stealth tree to be the most useful.

We’ve not once questioned the legitimacy of their claims, and now we’re just going to open an ancient portal?!

I’ve got mixed feelings about Operencia: The Stolen Sun. It’s definitely an interesting and entertaining dungeon crawler when you’re exploring the world, discovering secrets, and revisiting areas. But combat feels so wildly unpredictable, and certain skills, like those that stun enemies or put them to sleep, seem pointless to even invest in as the majority of enemies are immune to them. Which is absurdly annoying when an enemy spawns other enemies, as you’re unable to interrupt that process. So you quickly become outnumbered as they spawn one new enemy with every turn that they take.

It certainly feels like something went awry at some point.

When customising the difficulty I did set the (strangely named) Betyár setting to hard, which affects combat difficulty, but I doubt that has fundamentally changed how combat feels, as the aggressiveness of enemies (and their damage) is not an issue. It’s how unbalanced most encounters seem to be.

I’ve no issue with criticising something that doesn’t seem to be working as intended, but I don’t like to be inherently negative about something. So I hope that this post doesn’t read that way. As I’ve been enjoying the majority of my time with Operencia: The Stolen Sun, and it has the potential to be something truly wonderful. But certain things significantly detract from the experience. Not that it seems that it was always this way, as earlier information suggested that combat was unpredictable but not to this extent. So this could be the result of balancing which could change again in the future. I can’t really fully recommend Operencia: The Stolen Sun, as while it is an engaging RPG experience, it is unfortunately marred with inconsistencies in combat, but I’m hopeful that the developers will address these issues in a future patch.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown

To break an ancient spell.

Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown is a wonderfully charming grid-based movement dungeon crawler featuring extensive character creation, multiple character classes (including racial classes), numerous quests to undertake, and an expansive world to explore. You’re encouraged to trek across the land to uncover its secrets, and to delve deep into dungeons to acquire exceptional equipment. It’s a somewhat simplistic approach but it’s so incredibly satisfying. As it perfectly encapsulates the overflowing sense of wonder you get when exploring a vast open world for the first time.

It truly is a wondrous experience.

Rather surprisingly there are fast travel mechanics, too. They’re not immediately available, but it shouldn’t take you too long to gain access to them. Unless you do what I did and fight the troll on the bridge. If you do, then you may not fully understand how that particular boat will benefit you.

Not that there are any drawbacks (that I’m aware of) to owning different boats. Other than remembering where you’ve left them all. Or randomly discovering a new island overflowing with colossal creatures which decimate your fledgling adventurers, but that’s why exploring a vast open world is so fun. You’re going to find dozens of things that you’ll need to come back to. There are no quest markers, either. So you’re relying on what people have told you, what you know about the world, and the information in your quest log to guide you. Thankfully, quest items don’t (mysteriously) spawn into the world once a quest has been discovered. So you’re able (and encouraged) to explore locations as you discover them. It’s a refreshing approach, and greatly reduces how often you’ll need to revisit locations to complete quests.

The fearsome red dragon protecting their cave of treasures.

While there is an abundance of combat throughout, revisiting locations is relatively safe as enemies don’t respawn once they’ve been defeated. Which means that you won’t need to trudge through countless random encounters while exploring. This certainly accelerates the pace at which you can collect quest items, discover new locations, and progress through the main campaign. On the other hand, it also means that you won’t be able to farm random encounters to level up. This is likely to affect higher difficulty levels, where the amount of experience points required per level is greater than usual.

So higher difficulty levels should be consistently challenging.

While character creation is extensive, character development is fairly simplistic. Once you’ve gained enough experience points simply visit a town and speak to a trainer. The character classes dictate statistical growth and skill acquisition, while bonus attribute points can be invested as you see fit.

I’ll admit that I’ve been consistently surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying this casual RPG experience. Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown doesn’t necessarily do anything that you’ve not seen before, but what it does do it does capably and it does so by sculpting an enchanting world to explore. An enchanting world which is peppered with castles, caves, fortresses, and towers of every description. An enchanting world which is teeming with great treasure and even greater dangers. It’s arguably one of the oldest (and simplest) concepts for RPGs, but one that is also painfully absent from the majority of modern releases. While this experience could be considered an acquired taste, I feel that those who enjoy RPGs will find something to enjoy here. For that reason, I highly recommend it to fans of RPGs old or new!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie