Thursday, August 12, 2021

"Wingspan" Review

An ultra-complicated, often confounding and ultimately rewarding card game, "Wingspan" is set among the world of birds.

Sounds boring, right? Not so fast. Every bit as intense and nail-biting as a game with spells, crafting and summons.

Aiming to establish the most gorgeous, diverse and thriving wildlife preserve, you gather eggs, deploy bird species and strategize ways to edge out rivals.

The dev squad at Monster Couch deploys a labyrinthine swirl of rules, guidelines and subsets that are as difficult to grasp as it is to catch a feathered friend in your hands.

Once you get the hang of it -- an extended tutorial and frequent referrals to walkthroughs don't hurt -- you'll find yourself obsessing over the permutations of diets, eggs, habitats and subspecies.

There is a lot to digest here -- too much for the armchair dilettante -- but a rich tapestry in which to delve for those who like to find themselves lost in the clouds. It may be tough to find similarly-minded avian devotees, but should you find your flock, you're experience will no doubt take flight.

Anyone else needs to be content to peck it out with the punishing A.I. That mode is for the birds.

Publisher provided review code.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

"Inbento" Review

An inventive, therapeutic puzzler, "Inbento" has you mix, match, flip and remove overlaying titles in order to match a preset image. 

The devs at Afterburn milk their lighthearted concept for all it's worth, conjuring exponential ways to trick and tease your mind whenever it reaches a comfort level with a concept. 

The act of manipulating the tiles is so simplistic that it seems somewhat condescending, but the sheer depth of the permutations in which you can go wrong give the game a sometimes diabolical edge.

While I played, my wife commented that it looked like a game for 2-year-olds. That only accentuated my embarrassment when I got stuck and had to resort to online walkthroughs. I recommend against retreating to that route, because it robs you of the sheer satisfaction of the breakthrough.

The content -- which includes more than 100 bite-size levels -- is a bit thin, especially if you get a feel for the puzzle design and start plowing through each one in seconds. If you start to struggle then your playtime, as well as frustration level, can considerably increase.

"Inbento" does little to evolve past its mobile game roots, but its relaxing, methodical feel is a rare pleasure in a time of hectic shooters and trying RPGs. It takes a special magic to make failure seem fun, and that's what this game manages to achieve.

Publisher provided review code.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

"Within the Blade" Review

Hack-and-slash ninja combat comes by the bushel in "Within the Blade," a fast-paced beat-em-up with a rapid buildup in difficulty.  

Set in 16th century Japan, you play as part of the Black Lotus ninja clan, which stands as the realm's best chance to fend off an assault from a warlord and his minions.

Hand-to-hand and projectile weapons and power-ups are around for your upgrading and crafting pleasure. A mix of stealth and daring assaults are your best bet for survival.

Speed and stealth are at a premium, with slick moves and continued momentum needed to rip through levels.

The dev team at Ametist Studio prioritized quantity over quality when it came to level design, adding marginal changeups to keep your reflexes and skills honed. There are shades of "Mark of the Ninja" here.

"Within the Blade" rarely lacks in excitement or intrigue, and those who are content with bashing through the repetitive content -- especially in NewGame+ mode, will find a trove of ninja thrills to enjoy.

Publisher provided review code.