Blackbox: Review

If you’re a fan of frustrating games and beyond-meta challenges, then undoubtedly you will have heard of Blackbox. In a nutshell, it’s a puzzle game which uses iPhone features in ways you didn’t even know you could, bending your mind and ruining your life as you play. It is definitely one of the best puzzle games out right now, so let’s get into this review!

Gameplay

The aim in Blackbox is to turn on all the ‘lights’, which are little squares with rounded
edges. To light them up, you must complete the puzzle inside of that light. Simple enough,

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Midday is a great time to play Blackbox.

right? Wrong. These aren’t crosswords or word searches, these are problems solved by literally using your phone. They range from using your camera, your microphone, even to the buttons on the phone itself, not to mention things hidden outside of the app too!

 

One criticism we do have is that some of the puzzles are actually too easy! For example, there’s a puzzle in which the solution is holding your phone still for a short while. This doesn’t take a huge amount of brainpower to figure out, just a steady hand, and such simplicity takes away from the satisfaction of the solve.

Graphics

Blackbox features incredibly simplistic, minimalist, graphics. There are no intricate details, (unless you count the puzzles themselves), and most of the designs are made up of simple vectors, which is quite ironic considering the complexity of the game. This gives it a lovely, clean look, so 10/10 for aesthetics!

The colours chosen for each puzzle work great together on the home screen, especially

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It’s not always good to have such a great connection with a game.

set against the dark grey background, and make it much nicer to look at, especially when you’ve completed them all!

 
Now, the animations. Are they good? Yes! Of course, they’re very simplistic, just like the art style, so they fit in perfectly with the rest of the game’s aesthetic. So, they look great, and perform very smoothly. Unfortunately, however, nothing’s perfect, not even the puzzle game by Satan. One improvement we’d suggest would be to optimise their performance on the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c, as they’re not the best they can be, especially when compared to those on an SE or higher.

Music/Sound FX

So, what kind of music can you expect from one of the best puzzle games the App Store has to offer? Nothing! That’s right, Blackbox is as devoid of music as the developer is of emotion! However, what it does have are some lovely little sound effects, so let’s talk about those.

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Gyroscopical!

Blackbox has a multitude of different effects, with most of them like a sort of ‘click’ sound. One of the best things about them is that they are very satisfying to listen to, especially the ones that play when you open and close the hints section of a puzzle!

In this particular aspect of the game, we have only one criticism, which is as kind of scratchy sound that plays just after the click effect when you open a puzzle. Of course, this might be an intentional effect, but either way, we feel as though it could be improved by being taken out.

 

In conclusion, we love Blackbox. It makes for a fantastic puzzle game, and certainly tests your intelligence, making you use your iPhone in ways you couldn’t imagine you could! So, if you have an Apple device, we would highly recommend you go for this app, and convince your friends to as well! Seriously, get your friends to. You’ll understand later.

Oxenfree: Review

Oxenfree Review

Oxenfree is a 2.5D supernatural adventure, developed by Night School Studio in 2016. The premise, you ask? Well, the game is set on an abandoned island, where the main character Alex has travelled to for a party. Y’know, like all teenagers do. However, strange things start happening, and it is your task to solve the mystery!

Gameplay

The main gameplay consists of the choices you make as Alex, which can affect the entire game. Another large aspect of the gameplay is the puzzles you solve with Alex’s radio, which are done by tuning it to the correct frequency. What’s more, instead of long cut-scenes, Oxenfree incorporates use of speech bubbles popping up over character’s heads, which we prefer.

There are multiple endings too, which is a nice addition, and definitely emphasises the importance of all of your choices. Multiple endings make everything better (or worse)!

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One annoying thing with the gameplay is the vague choices you’re given when responding to things. For example, someone will say something, and you’ll pick a response, and it will end up way different to what it looked like! This can spit out loads of unintended consequences, especially because of Oxenfree’s multiple ending system.

Graphics

The graphics of the game are lovely. The characters are 3D models set against a 2.5D background, which adds a nice sense of depth to the game. What’s more, after each chapter, you get a Polaroid photo, which gives you a more detailed look at the characters. However, when you look a bit closer, these polaroids make the game a lot more sinister…

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We have no complaints about the graphics here! They’re pretty fantastic, and we love the 2.5D effect.

Music/Sound FX

The voice acting is one of the greatest things in the game. The characters feel real, and the dialogue can be pretty funny!

The soundtrack to the game is incredible, and extremely atmospheric. The sound FX are fantastic too, from the static of the radio to the creepy noises in the background! All of these little effects definitely enhance your gameplay, making it a much more enjoyable experience. What’s more, the soundtrack is available on Steam as DLC too, which is pretty neat!

One criticism we have with the noises and effects is the volume they’re set at. For example, sometimes, the music will get really loud, which is annoyingly obstructive to your gameplay. As well as that, in loading screens, the volume drops way down, when really it should stay the same volume all the way.

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In conclusion, we really like this game. It is an amazing experience, and would definitely recommend it if you are into puzzling, atmospheric stories!

N++: Review

If you’re a big fan of platforming games, then you will definitely have heard of the “N” franchise, a game series that revolutionized platform gaming. N++ is the third and final instalment to the award-winning series, and is definitely the hardest. So, is it worth your money? Read on and find out!

You start off, as many platform games do, with a level selection screen. What’s new in N++ is that instead of having one big expanse of levels, you have 3 different sections: Intro, N++, and Legacy. Each of the sections consists of several different chapters, with each one containing 5 different levels. Each episode’s levels range in difficulty, going from easiest to hardest, making each chapter unique.

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But what makes N++ different to its predecessors? Well, the biggest difference, apart from the lovely new design, is really is the huge amount of levels that come with it, as it features 2360 levels. Yeah. And that’s without factoring in the online levels, of which there are thousands!

What’s more, Metanet have made sure that not all its levels are the same things over and over again, as they consistently find different ways to have you play, be that introducing a new enemy, or even just with the layout of the level.

As well as that, each level has a name, most of which are funny! For example, one of our personal favourite levels, “Intro to accepting your limitations?”, is a room filled with gold. Not too hard, right? However, as you try and collect all this gold, you realise that the ones placed in the middle of the ceiling require some precisely timed jumps to acquire.

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This level took us ages…

Gameplay

Gameplay. The most important part of every game, and pretty much determines how good it really is. So how good is N++’s gameplay? We think, pretty good.

Of course, there’s only so much you can do to make a platform game’s controls the best they can be, because, let’s be honest, they’re mostly the same every time. N++’s controls are pretty standard: left, right, and jump. No sprinting, no crouching, and no special powers, which is what makes it such a tough game. It all depends upon the skill of the player. And the durability of your controller.

N++ comes with 3 different game-modes: Solo, Co-op, and Race, with each section containing tons of levels to play. So, what do you do in each of these game-modes? Good question! Here’s an even better answer.

“Solo” is the game-mode for most platform games, where, you guessed it, you play by yourself!

“Co-op” is also pretty self-explanatory. You play with up to four of your friends in local multiplayer! Of course, if you have any…

“Race” is the game-mode very similar to co-op, except instead of working with your friends, you’re racing against them!

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Of course, there are a few little tricks you can do. For example, more experienced players will be using what’s known as “corner jumping” to enhance their gameplay, and even skip parts of levels with it! If you hadn’t already figured it out, corner jumping is where you jump off the corner of a block. You didn’t really need an explanation. It’s not too hard to do, and only requires a little bit of practice, but it can make beating levels a lot easier, and is incredibly useful whilst speed running.

Another little technique is slope jumping. Yeah, we just made that name up then and there, but it pretty much describes what you’re doing! Sometimes, levels will have a slope in them, which the player will use to launch themselves off and over some kind of death inducing obstacle. By running and jumping up that slope, you’ll gain an incredible amount of speed, and you will fly across the gap!

Our main criticism with the gameplay is the restarting aspect of it. For example, if you’re halfway through an episode, and then quit, reloading it doesn’t place you back into the level you left from. Nope, you’ve got to replay the entire episode again, which becomes incredibly frustrating when you’re playing some of the much harder episodes, such as those in the legacy section.

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What’s more, another criticism we have is the progression aspect. Currently, in both versions of N++, you have to beat an episode level by level. This can really slow down your gameplay, especially with the really tough levels, as it can take you ages to complete. Of course, you can always move onto the next chapter and play in that section. Maybe it’s just us, but it’s much more preferable to beat the levels in a linear fashion!

Graphics

Interesting levels and fluid gameplay is all well and good, but how does it look? In N++’s case, pretty damn great! Metanet chose to use vector shapes and a flat UI to create a clean, sharp environment for their little stick figure to leap around in, and with over 8000 colours and 50 colour combinations, the levels look even more fantastic.

But it’s not just the flat shapes that look awesome: it’s the animations too. The fantastically fluid effects look lovely set against the minimalistic design, and it really shows you how much time and effort the devs put into making this game perfect.

We absolutely love the colours and art of N++, and honestly have no criticisms. They’re brilliant.

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Music

Ok, we’ve got some neat graphics, well designed levels, and smooth gameplay, but what about the music? Does N++ lay down some sick beats to run and jump to? The short answer: Yes. Definitely. Absolutely! Featuring just over 40 artists, N++ has a great soundtrack to run, jump, and explode to, and will have your blood pumping as fast as your stick figure is moving!

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Rival Consoles’ “I Left The Party” is our favourite!

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and for N++’s soundtrack, one of the things we’d like to see improved upon is just the overall feel of many of the songs. We have no problems with how they sound, not at all, just that when you’re sprinting through obstacles, you don’t want slow music to go along with it. Although the songs do pick up their pace, it would be great to see some more super-fast music with it, such as some of F-777’s tracks.

Apart from that, we’re fans of the soundtrack, and would love to see a digital/hard copy of it!

Online Features

Beaten all of Metanet’s pre made levels? Well, pop over to the online levels section, and browse some of those! There are some incredibly tough levels on there, so you’ll definitely be provided with a challenge!

But how did people make those? Why, the level editor of course! The level editor in N++ takes a little while to get used to, especially on console, since so many buttons do different things! However, once you master it, you’ll be creating and sharing awesome levels in no time.

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Unfortunately however, the level editor does have a few flaws. For example, the biggest, most annoying flaw, is the fact that you don’t need to verify levels before they’re uploaded. So, essentially, you could upload an impossible level. This can be pretty annoying, as we don’t want the online levels to be filled with a load of unbeatable ones.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we are huge fans of this game, and the franchise as a whole. We love the graphics, the music, and the gameplay in general, and would strongly recommend N++ to anyone looking for a challenging solo platformer, or some friendship testing local multi-player!

 

 

Want to check out the game yourself? No problem! Go here to buy it on steam, or go here to buy it on PS4. Oh, and if you’re interested in some more of N++’s art style, just visit their Tumblr, here! It’s filled to the brim with development graphics, early design ideas, and some awesome gifs!

The Obscure Number Game

“The Obscure Number Game” is a small, python made game, which, essentially, is a guessing game. But better!

The idea is the computer thinks of a number, and then asks you to guess it! It’s not meant to be a super fun, riveting action game, as all we really wanted was to test our skills in coding, and write a little game. Which we did.

Don’t worry though, it’s not completely stupid! There are 4 different game modes within it, which range in difficulty, so you can have MINUTES of fun until you realise what a real waste of time this really is!

Oh, you’ll also need python to run it. Fortunately, python is free (here), and is a really great program to learn how to code on.

 

Download The Obscure Number Game here!

It says “this type of file can harm your computer”, but we can assure you it won’t! It’s just a .py file!

Dishonored: An Overview [Part 4]

We’ve run out of little intro ideas for this mini-series. It’s part 4.

You reach an island that the Lord Reagent had been making and is now inhabited by those who betrayed you and a couple hundred guards. Y’know the usual sorta stuff.

If high chaos: more guards, all the dudes are alive and at each other’s throats, higher defence, you must literally save Emily from the Admiral’s grasp. If you save Emily (yes, it is possible to let her die) she asks if the rest are dead, and reveals she is a lot less innocent than she was, and is a lot tougher than you thought.

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yay! you’ve saved our not so innocent little angel!

If low chaos: fewer guards, only the Admiral is alive, Emily is just locked in her room, still innocent. A lot easier than high chaos.

At the end of the game, you get some 3D freeze frames with the Outsider narrating them. If you went high chaos then everything sucks; Emily dies, everything sucks even more, and you just run away in a boat, but if you went low chaos everything is great. Yay. The credits roll, and an awesome song plays over them.

Overall, it’s a pretty epic game, and we would definitely recommend you play through this incredible story.

 

Dishonored: An Overview [Part 3]

Here we go again! Part 3 of our overview!

Turns out, in an amazing twist, the people who were helping you have turned on you, and forced the ever-friendly old man Samuel to spike your drink and kill you!

They now intend to heavily influence Emily’s reign and turn in your dead corpse for the prize money. Luckily for you however, after they finish gloating over your body, they leave before you are confirmed dead.

Samuel reveals to you that he only put in half the poison, to keep you alive (just), and takes you away to set you adrift in the Flooded District. You are then picked up by assassins, which you see between slipping in and out of consciousness, till you finally meet Daud- the man who killed the Empress. He proceeds to throw all your stuff down a hole and you get knocked out. Fun. Here you were thinking this was going to be a short game.

You wake up in a poorly made cage with a rat and a rat tunnel for you to go down, or some bricks to throw at the top of the cage. That the professional assassins made from some brittle wood. They aren’t very good assassins.

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i mean really

So, you escape, and embark on a long, infuriating journey to go deal with Daud. Once you FINALLY get there, you can either kill him or steal his stuff and leave him alone. After stealing his stuff/murdering him you head to your previous HQ to murder/not murder those who betrayed you and save Emily.

When you get there, you meet with one of the maids, who tells you what happened. The guys told all the staff they were getting a reward.

The reward of death!

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what a great reward

Though if you went pacifist, and if you saved Callista’s uncle, she doesn’t die. Yay. Two other people do though. Another maid is hiding in the tower where Emily was kept, and tells you to contact Samuel using a flare once everyone is dealt with.

You use the open window that all the masses of guards know nothing about and didn’t check for to talk to Anton and Pierro who have trapped themselves inside there, and tell you that there is a contraption on the roof that can either kill everyone or knock them all out. All you have to do is find some instructions for the machine then take a whale oil tank up to the machine and watch the magic happen.

Then you go search for the information about where the guys took Emily so you can go murder/not murder them. Signal Samuel, then go to find and take your revenge!

Dishonored: An Overview [Part 2]

Yes, that’s right, there’s more! Here’s part 2 of our Dishonored Overview!

You wake up and your next mission is set, as you must find a guy, who knows a guy, who helps this guy bug all these other guys, a.k.a. the royal physician, or as most players know him, the guy who makes the health potions and terrible paintings. Speaking of which, he painted the guy/gal who is helping find Lord Regent.

It’s a cool level, as you must do is infiltrate a fortress. You work your way towards your victim, turn off the lights, kidnap the guy and escape. Done. Easy. Sleep now.

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not anti-social at all

You wake up, the royal physician is cranky, so you’ve got to give him his bottle of fancy booze that you have to buy from Pierro. So, you go look for Pierro and– wait, Pierro, what are you doing? Excuse me, how dare you snoop on poor maid no.3! That’s just rude sir! Rude! Moving on. You buy the stuff, give it to the royal physician and learn that the person who is backing the Lord Reagent’s greenlight project is Lady Boyle! Only problem is there are 3 Lady Boyles and even the guy doesn’t know which one it is, as he painted her from behind, the creep.

So, you now must invade their party, where they will all be dressed the same, but in different colours. Easy, right? At this point you’re probably saying, “oh, I watched a walkthrough on this, I know exactly which Boyle it is!”

Nope, because in each playthrough, the Lady Boyle you must eliminate is different!

Here’s a little factoid: that mission got a lot of positive feedback, and inspired one of the levels in Dishonored 2! The premise of it is that you can either ruin the party OR blend in. It’s great. And, of course, there’s the usual stuff, side missions, opportunities, lethal and non-lethal methods. The non-lethal method is great, because you just hand her over to a creeper (probably) and the lucky woman gets to spend the rest of her life with him. Forever. Isolated. Alone. Fun!

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corvo ain’t no lightweight

After coming back from a night of either not drinking or heavily drinking (you can play any way in Dishonored, Corvo ain’t no lightweight) you are finally ready to take down the Lord Reagent. His reign has been a long one, but it is time he met the end of your blade.

So, you enter the level as you did at the start of the game, but this time the entire tower is slightly harder to get into. There’s a lot of security, and depending if you went high or low chaos, the Lord Reagent could be in a multitude of places.

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spooky

Anyway, the non-lethal method has you talking to a guy in a broadcasting tower, stealing an audiograph and giving it back to the guy in the broadcasting tower, then leaving the tower to see the Reagent taken away by ye olde timey police force. Because, y’know, he ordered the death of the Empress. Now all you need to do is escape. Job done!

Back at your HQ, everyone has a toast and you pop off to bed, after a job well done! Wait a minute… what’s… what’s this feeling… I don… fel tooo good-

*collapses*