q2covernxgAmelia Cross wakes up in a strange environment. She has no recollection of how and why she got there. Luckily, her radio springs to life with the voice of commander Emma. The commander is there to help Amelia to the exit. She lets slip that the strange environment is actually an alien planet. Amelia will have to use her wits to find a way home.

And so, I, playing as Amelia, start wandering through the pristine white corridors on the planet. Which proves to be a tad more challenging than expected. In almost every room, there’s a puzzle waiting. One that needs to be solved, before I can progress to the next room. Behold: the gimmick of Q.U.B.E. 2!

The game is entirely in first-person, a POV which is usually reserved for shooters. But in Q.U.B.E. 2 there aren’t any guns to be found. Amelia’s suit has the ability to change the color of certain ‘interactive’ panels of the rooms with a simple hand-gesture. Three colors are available. Green makes a cube appear. Blue acts as a springboard and red brings forth long beams. Combined, these three abilities help us past hazards and hurdles. Reaching higher ground, avoiding huge fans and laserfences or activating pressurepads  suddenly becomes child’s play.


Which is exactly what makes Q.U.B.E. 2 so brilliant. The gameplay is just simple enough to pick up right away. There wasn’t a moment I felt frustrated at the difficulty of a particular puzzle, because, using an ounce of common sense, solutions are as clear as the light of day.


Which is, regrettably, also a minor gripe of mine… The puzzles seem a tad too simple. It feels as if Amelia’s running from room to room, without ever facing a real challenge or threat. The puzzles also start feeling repetitive in the long haul, because of that.


Luckily, there’s still the well-penned story, the excellent voiceacting and the stylish design of the planet, tickling my minimalism-loving brain just the right way. If you ever feel like picking up a nice looking, none-too-challenging puzzler, then Q.U.B.E. 2 is the way to go.


The Final Station (SWITCH)

fscoverA long time ago, humankind was attacked by a malevolent alien invasion force in an event that came to be known as the First Visitation. Large areas of the planet were destroyed and contaminated, and humans were forced to relocate to different areas under new leadership. This Council of new leaders vowed to be prepared for the Second Visitation and started construction of a giant battlebot: the Guardian. Just as the Guardian nears completion, the Second Visitation occurs. One dashing trainoperator is tasked to pick up the remaining parts of the Guardian and to bring them to their final station.

And with that, my grand train adventure is off to a start! I play as the traindriver, and on my way to the final station, my train is stopped at every station along the way. Every time I pull into one, the train is immediately clamped down with a lock, and I need to find the code that opens it. So off I go, on foot. And let me tell you, finding a piece of paper with some numbers scribbled on it, is not as easy as it seems. Especially when it’s hidden somewhere in an urban wasteland crawling with infected people that want to drink my blood. Fortunately, there’s weapons to be found, but often a more stealthily approach is advised…


Looking for the code, I come across a bunch of other stuff too. Food, ammunition, first aid kits or scrap to build those three things from scratch. And sometimes, even other survivors pop up and they’re aching for a seat on the train.


One an area is cleared,and the code is found, the train can move on. During the ride, passengers will speak with one another, revealing parts of the plot. But the traindriver can’t just sit around and listen to them, because they and the train require constant attention. The passengers go hungry, or need medical attention. It’s up to players to feed them and heal them otherwise they die. When that happens, the bonusses they carry with them can’t be collected… Same goes for the train. it has some key components that need constant cooling, or voltage distribution. In short: the driver has his work cut out for him.


The Final Station is 2D, 8-bit and linear. Really retro in other words. But longtime readers know I like nothing more! Add to that mix an exciting, mysterious story set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, and an extra DLC episode and you know I’m sold!


Little Triangle (SWITCH)

ltcovJust when I thought I was through with breaking controllers in half and rage-quitting, they throw Little Triangle in my lap. And it’s back to square one.
In Little Triangle, players control one of many delightfully cute triangle-shaped people. Their world was just invaded by alien evildoers, and many of their kind were kidnapped. It’s up to players to rescue hostages and beat evil robots armed with only their quick reflexes.

Throughout a wide array of increasingly difficult levels, all I need to do, is guide my little pyramid shape to the exit. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! These levels are riddled with deadly spikes, acid pools, relentless enemies, spinning sawblades, deadly laserbeams… And here I’m stuck with a little dude who’s only notable skill is jumping.


Yet playing is oddly fun. Trying to overcome obstacles, succeeding only to meet a gruesome end right after succeeding and trying again has never been more entertaining. I soon find myself leaping from checkpoint to checkpoint, rescuing the odd hostage along the way and collecting diamonds strewn about. Just by skillfully jumping around.


Visually, the game is stunning. Sure, animation is just basic, and the triangles and their world are drawn in an almost childlike way, but I still like the simplistic style a whole lot. Somehow any other style wouldn’t seem to fit the little triangular creatures.


I had just one minor gripe during my playthrough. The controls seem a bit too fiddly. You know what I mean? That ‘I need to make this timed jump extra precise, but my character won’t stand still after landing’-feeling you sometimes get when steering a digital character? Yep, precisely that. Either that or I’m in need of a new controller after rage-throwing it around the office…


Dragon Sinker (SWITCH)

DraSin – afbeelding 1A good RPG is always a reason to celebrate. Especially when it comes to JRPGs. Dragon Sinker blends the best elements from tried games, gives them an extra twist and puts a giant cherry on top.

The folks at KEMCO and Exe-Create know what they’re doing. Just a few minutes in this game prove that an 8-bit retro-adventure is still as exciting as it was yesteryear. The look and feel of the very first Dragon Quest, a story which reminds of Lufia and a gameplay not unlike the job system from Final Fantasy V. Still interested? Read on!

A long time ago humans, elves and dwarves united forces and defeated the evil dragon Wyrmvarg. He wasn’t very keen on taking things lying down. So after many years he stood up again, demanding sacrifices. Now a new generation of heroes rises in search of the legendary weapons to put a definite end to His Scaly Evilness.

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Expect to lead a colorful cast on a journey throughout all corners of the world. Grassy plains, dark caves, high mountain tops and other exotic locations await you. You’ll fight turn-based battles against monsters and bosses, stay at inns and raise the troops morale and their stats with new weapons and shiny equipment. Speaking of your allies: each and every one of them has its very own job class. Warrior, thief, priest, baker… Don’t care for a particular job or mastered it completely? Why not have your mage transform into a bard?

And here ends the well-trodden path. Dragon Sinker adds depth to the genre by forcing you to compose several teams. Control up to three parties of max four characters each and exchange them when needed. Even during battles, you’ll need every skill set you’ve got! Some enemies are particularly vulnerable against certain attacks and character types. Not unlike Pokémon: you don’t take a Pikachu to a ground-type fight. That’s common logic. And it runs even deeper than this: the more dwarves in your team, the less chance one of your allies succumbs to paralysis, blindness or a poison attack. Elves protect against status debuffs. Combine this knowledge with more than 16 different jobs and you’ll soon realize that Dragon Sinker brings a lot of interesting strategic options to your battles.

As the silent protagonist you even have a say when it comes to dialogue choices. The phrases you pick don’t change the outcome of the game. However, they do get funny reactions from your allies.

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Don’t be fooled by the retro-animation, nor by anything you may have picked up from other RPGs: Dragon Sinker throws mean adversaries at you. The game constantly lulls you into a false sense of security. Even when you have been training your characters. Gamers who don’t pay attention, see their party pay the ultimate price. There are no save points to be found, but progression is saved whenever you like. Your allies are so considerate as to point out a nearing boss fight. Still lost a battle? Even one that didn’t look like quite a big deal until a small fry used a mass attack spell against your party? Don’t fret: the game lets you start over the battle. As long as you don’t give up, nothing is lost.

Once a while you will need a bit of level grinding before tackling the next area. This never feels like a chore. The many sub quests on offer in towns and cities, have you backtracking just a bit. Ideal for getting those extra needed experience points. Don’t miss out on the rewards for completing these quests: powerful weapons, rare potions and new characters/jobs!

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It’s not hard to get hooked on Dragon Sinker. If unforeseen circumstances do force you away for a while, it’s easily to get into the game again: controls are intuitive, the map always points to the next main goal and a story summary retells your previous adventures.

Even now RPGs from yesteryear celebrate their golden era, like it never passed away. KEMCO successfully translated their formula to current gameplay standards. Rest assured: Dragon Sinker is a valuable addition to your game collection.


Rad Rodgers (XBOXONE)

rrcovernxgRad Rodgers is in trouble. He was sucked into his tv at night, only to awaken on the other side of the screen in a weird, video-gamey looking world. He has to find a way to get out and find his way home, before his mom gets angry… Luckily, Rad doesn’t have to face the dangers of this world alone. Along with him, his trusty game console Rusty was sucked into the tvas well. Rusty’s not the same though. He changed into an antropomorphic, potty-mouthed version of himself…

And off I go, provided only this meager bit of plot, straight into the first level. Rad clasps Rusty to his back and gets gifted a big blaster. Before I can even say ‘Boom’, I encounter the first enemy. With the gun and Rusty’s fists said enemy is pounded into dust pretty soon. This is fun!

Rad Rodgers reminds of the platforming greats from yesteryear, like Heart of Darkness and Commander Keen. That last one shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Rad came from the same creative minds that birthed Keen.


Gameplay couldn’t be any more straightforward. Rad needs to find the exit of every level, but before that opens, Rad also needs to find four hidden pieces of a medaillon. I run through the levels, frantically searching around, blasting enemies left and right and aughing all the way at Rusty’s blue remarks…


Some puzzles can’t be solved by just blasting at them. Some software glitches cause platforms to disappear or walls to pop up. When Rad encounters such a glitch, it’s up to rusty to enter it. Inside, Rusty will have to avoid corrupt pixels and try and repair the glitch. It’s minigame fun!


I simply love me a good platformer like this. I can just play hours on end, and I will no doubt do so. There’s always more secret areas and extra hats for Rad to be found somewhere!


Aqua Kitty UDX (SWITCH)

aknxgA sudden shortage of milk has Earth’s cat population in a panic. The furry felines are forced to look elsewhere for their source of calcium and discover a rich milk vein underneath the oceans. A team of cat-divers goes out to see, accompanied by a catpain (Yes, I know that’s a silly pun, but I couldn’t NOT make it.).

I can hear you all thinking: “It doesn’t need to get any goofier than this.” But beware: it gets goofier than this. My job, as a cat-aquanaut, is to protect the little pussies that are pumping the milk from all the dangers that are lurking on the bottom of the ocean. Mysterious sea-monsters are trying to kill them, and even stranger jellyfish are trying to abduct them. Luckily, my submarine comes equipped with all kinds of weaponry and power-ups are strewn about the seabed.

Playing is a blast. The sub dashes left and right to blast the fishes to bits. Steering works like a charm and the turbo fire mode makes sushi of the biggest enemies with ease. The difficulty level shoots up pretty quick though, and more than often I find myself lamentig the one kitty I failed to save.


Replay value is quite high, what with all the cats I’m trying to save, but there’s also an added arcade mode. In this mode, players only get a set number of hearts, and once they’re gone, it’s game over man! Restart from scratch. Luckily, there are diamonds to collect, wich can be used to buy upgrades for the sub, all while playing.


On top of that, there’s also the Dreadnought mode. Here the objective is to destroy a giant ship, One that’s bristling with guns and swimming in enemy-infested waters.


And there’s more! In infinite Espresso players are set loose in a dark ocean where endless streams of enemies are unleashed upon them. The aim being to stay alive as long as possible. Luckily, there’s no kittens here to concern myself with…


Add to all that a charming retro 8-bit look and soundtrack, and you’vegot yourself a winner in my book! Aqua Kitty UDXis a must-have, especially considering how cheap it is.


Quest of Dungeons (SWITCH)

qodNXGYet another dungeon crawler?  You bet! The genre crawled back into existance, got a make-over and deserves your attention. If you ever decide to give it a shot (again), go for Quest of Dungeons.

In Quest of Dungeons you assume the role of a hero. The choice seems limited to four typical character classes (Warrior, Wizard, Assassin and Shaman) but determines the way the game will play out for you. After a short and absurdly funny intro to the story, you get dropped into a dungeon that’s vastly different every time you decide to pay it a visit. Rooms, enemies and loot are randomly generated and never found on the same spot as during your previous play. And then it’s business as usual. Fight your way from floor to floor, defeat enemies to earn experience points and strengthen your character, plunder loot to go shopping with… And once you’re bested, you start all over again. Come again? Yes, all over again. No checkpoints, no save points, no pity.

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Actually, this is not another dungeon crawler. Quest of Dungeons has so much more to offer: a real challenge, funny wordplay jokes and a lot of replay value. Worth your while. Upfall Studios has done its utterly best to deliver a stand-out gameplay experience that will have you doing a standing ovation. The 16-bit graphics are obviously retro with their limited animation and oversized pixels, but that’s all a game like this really needs. What you need while playing, is your thinking cap. After all, enemies around you only move when you perform an action. Any action. It pays off to stand still and have a look at your surroundings instead of hacking, slashing and magicking your way through the dungeon. There’s a lot of satisfaction in luring an enemy into a bear trap or into the spikes you nearly avoided. Keep your eyes peeled at all times: it takes little effort to get surrounded by a deadly horde and to be forced to start the dungeon from square one. Lucky for you, tomes offer knowledge of new character skills, optional quests net you extra experience points for finding lost relics and defeating minibosses and when the need arises, just close doors to block enemies. Because enemies stalk you once they get their sights on you, but they can’t handle doorknobs. Can’t find any weapons, armor or potions? Buy them with your hard-earned cash and treasures at local shops. Loot, by the way, is easy to find. In the bloody remains of defeated enemies, contained by treasure chests (what else would they hold?) and by breaking randomly placed furniture.

Newbies don’t need to feel any shame for choosing the ‘easy’ difficulty setting. The game is quite punishing to even the most seasoned dungeon crawler. But do try ‘hard’ or ‘hell’ when ‘standard’ is like a spring breeze to you. No matter the difficulty setting, you will find yourself level grinding or returning to a previous floor. After all, randomly generated floors easily get the best of the ignorant gamer. Before you know it, you are trapped with a miniboss that’s just too strong. No matter the preparations you took. During your first dungeon visits, you’ll often see the title screen… Again and again and again. Demotivational messages during loading screens and by enemies do soften that last blow to your head and secretly force you to pick up your sword, wand, bow or staff once again. And you should, because high scores get posted on online leader boards.

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The story, the dialogues and item descriptions are all directed by an absurdly funny sense of humor. Real gamers will recognize the many references to other games. Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Resident Evil IV… Even popular memes. Sound is a bit below par: it seems like the grunts and groans from enemies and bosses were recorded in someone’s kitchen. But the music will linger in your head for days. Replay value a plenty! As long as you don’t stick with your favorite character. The game challenges you to complete a set of feats. From opening your first treasure chest to beating minibosses and for completing one of the dungeons. The first one is quite a challenge. Don’t be fooled by its looks! Oh, and the reward for finishing the first level is a character from another recently released indie Switch game.

Whether you’re a casual player or finish four dungeons before breakfast, Quest of Dungeons will keep you hooked for a long time. And now it’s on Nintendo Switch, you can play anywhere!


Steamworld Dig (SWITCH)

swdcA while back I was gushing over Steamworld Dig 2 on Switch. Despite having never played a previous installment of the franchise, I got sucked in right away. I loved the game’s art style, gameplay, story…  Everything about it just clicked. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to review the Switch remake of the game that started it all: Steamworld Dig.

I play as Rusty, a new bot in town. I’ve been called here by my uncle, who needs help in the mine. Rusty soon discovers his uncle is a goner, and that there’s more at play in the mine than your random ore-digging.


The game’s mechanics are simple: I dig deeper into the mine, beat enemy critters and salvage ore and diamonds. Whenever my bag of holding is full, I venture back up to the surface, sell the ore, buy upgrades for my gear then venture off deeper into the mine once again. It may sound like a drag, but it’s all very entertaining. The deeper I go, the harder the game becomes. New enemies pop up, and more than once I foolishly lose track of where I’m going. Or rather: where I was coming from. It’s impossible to dig upwards and with my eyes on a shiny price, I often dig myself into holes too deep to climb out of.


But with some tweaking, and some clever upgrades, Rusty slowly becomes unstoppable. Thicker plating, pneumatic drills and jackhammer fists, all kinds of steam-powered goodies… Whatever I need, the stores in town are probably selling.

I simply love the Steamworld series, even though I started in the wrong order. Steamworld 1 feels just as fresh and new as its successor. And it never gets boring. In fact, I can hear the ore calling to me now. The need to dig is becoming strong… Too strong… Someone send help, I just can’t stop!


Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PS4)

bf2nxgY’all know I have a Star Wars… thing. Let’s not call it an addiction, that’s too confronting, even though it is. I want to inhale Star Wars. Have it shot into my veins and projected straight into my eyeballs.
But until such a thing is legally and medically possible (and allowed by Mrs. NerdXGeek), I need to keep myself content by other means. Battlefront 2 being one of them.

Early on, gamers were promised that Battlefront 2 would address all shortcomings of its illustrious predecessor. The main shortcoming being the singleplayer campaign. Or lack thereof. With Battlefront 2’s Iden Versio and Inferno Squad wre can now finally experience the joy of blasting rebel scum solo (and offline!). Inferno Squad is a division of Imperial Special Forces. Following the destruction of the Second Death Star over Endor, the Emperor’s contingency plan is set into motion. Versio and her companions follow the late Sith Lord’s orders to the letter, but their convictions soon start crumbling…

Since I’ve been longing for more content that takes place in the years between episodes 6 and 7, this new storyline is like a breath of fresh air. It’s enthralling, and very well-written. No sooner than you can yeel “No blasters! No blasters!” I’m blasting my way through the campaign, flying TIE’s and gawking at all the wonderfully detailed scenery. Because visually all the stops are pulled. I can even count the pores on the commanding admiral’s pitted face. It’s like I’m wandering through the movies.


Time to see if multiplayer is just as much fun. Battlefront 2 has been marred by controversy from launch. The random lootboxes and starcards, and the grinding needed to get new characters was frowned upon by many. And, even though adjustments were made, I can get what wound people up in the first place. Whichever mode I play, surviving for more than one minute at a time seems impossible. As soon as I set foot in the arena, I get murderised by a more experienced player. And wether or not the experience comes from just being better or from ‘buying’ upgrades, remains a mystery. The game does let us know what upgrade my murderer was carrying. So I can buy it for myself later on. Or grind for it.


Still, I’m having a blast. The same visual splendor from the singleplayer is all over the multiplayer too. Everything just breathes that typical Star Wars vibe. I’m sightseeing more than I’m firing blasters in the enemy’s general direction.


Battlefront 2 is just right on target with everything. Visually, story-wise, Star wars-vibey, singleplayer, multiplayer… It’s just a shame that the wonky lootbox and starcard system controversies drag the rest of the game down with them.


Need For Speed: Payback (PS4)

nfsnxgThe latest addition to the Need For Speed franchise is all about revenge. Tyler and his crew of streetracers were betrayed by The House, a criminal organization with ties in streetracing, gambling, and just about everything shady. Tyler, Mac and jess thirst for payback, and team up with a wealthy casino owner to take down The House. In order to do that, they need to start out at the bottom…

Payback has about every feature I want in a racing game. There’s shiny supercars that are upgradeable. A gigantic open world littered with races and challenges. Worshops where cars can be repainted, refitted and get stickered. Collectibles strewn about. There’s just so much to do!

The controls are so straightforward, driving a supercar was never easier. In no-time I’m swooshing through the vast landscape. As always, pedal to the metal, drifting, handbraking and boosting with nitro blasts. Good old fun. Each of the three main characters has his own style, so there’s different types of races to compete in. Drag races, offroad, regular streetraces, police chases… Add all that to the many optional events to be found and there’s hours of fun to be had.


I do have some gripes story-wise however. Take that flimsy plot for instance… I didn’t expect Shakespeare, but anything with a bit more depth and a little less clichés would’ve been nice. Same goes for the voiceacting. I don’t know if it’s the actors or the subpar dialogue, but there a so many cringeworthy moments. Onliners like “Nighttime. This is when I come to life.” Uttered in different variants by the main characters are so full of cringe, they made me burst out laughing nearly every time. The whole plot sinks to the level of a bad B-movie. Which would be fun, if it was meant that way. But unfortunately, Payback takes itself way too seriously.


But let’s not forget the main reason for playing: racing! I can ignore the story, even though there’s so many cutscenes interrupting playtime. Not only plotadvancing scenes, but also action sequences. Nice, but I would’ve rather played through these action scenes myself. Now I’m getting the feeling I’m only allowed to drive from stunt to stunt, but not allowed to perform one.

Let’s stick to racing then. Which is great fun on its own. With each victory I come closer to taking down The House. I need to beat other crews first, and every race has a level assigned to it. If my car’s level is lower, my chances of winning are small to non-existant. I can level up by replaying earlier races. Again and again and again and again… If that’s too tedious, I can also whip some real cash out and buy my way up via microtransitions…


Payback also found a new way of upgrading cars. Where I expected having to buy and fit parts to my car, there is now the speedcards system. After a victory, I’m allowed to draw a random card. That card is an upgrade for a random part, of a random level and a random brand. If I have no need for the card I’ve just won, I can sell it. It’s all great at first, but further in the game, getting that specific card I need depends too much on luck. It degrades the whole upgrading from an art to a base level of gambling.

What to do with Need For Speed Payback. On the one hand, I like nothing better than racing through the open world with its vast landscapes and detailed vistas. On the other hand, the story, the grinding and the wonky upgrading throw a spanner in the cogs.
One and a half thumbs up, one thumb down.