PEGBRJE: A Day in the Woods, BloodBlast VR and Emberlight

Technically a Three today.

I don’t remember this tale being so difficult.

A Day in the Woods is a digital reimagining of the traditional sliding puzzle game made by RetroEpic Software, the studio that created the fantastic digital board game Flash Point that was featured earlier. Unlike that co-operative title, this features a young Little Red Riding Hood on her way to her grandmother’s, but instead of finding that there is a Big Bad Wolf stopping her she instead finds out that apparently every elderly individual has decided to take up residence in this forest.

Players are not actually Little Red but a sprite companion who helps move her across the forest to each house to see if it belongs to her beloved Grandma. The sprite takes up a blank tile on the grid, and switches places with the selected tile to move it, and then repeat until Red is at the house. As with slide puzzles, the tricky aspect is that the sprite needs to always find a pathway around the tiles to not get stuck within a loop while also utilizing the least amount of tile flips as given by the ‘Par’ for each map. To add the strategy, many tiles will highlight red to indicate that they cannot be moved, such as trees and rocks, so the board is rarely as available and open as it may first appear when loading in to a new level. Over time new objectives and obstacles will be introduced to help stretch the player’s focus either by having player venture to new places for bonus rewards or by creating new rules that limit how the player can maneuver. For example, achieving Par gives a single star, but collecting all of the flowers on the map by having Red get beside them will also net another star which can be used to customize the board and other items throughout. Obstacles such as the bears, spiders and fire are also introduced to alter the rules slightly, such as Red being unable to be beside a bear or bears being unable to be beside fire. These add the need for many more moves, where some have a par that exceeds 50 due to the constant need for rotating around certain points to keep that two tile distance.

Planning is crucial to A Day in the Woods, but thankfully there’s an undo button to ensure that even the best plans can be rewound in case something doesn’t pan out correctly. The wooden pieces aesthetic is a gorgeous touch to an already beautifully created game, and the level of customization that is offered if players get the stars just adds to the charm. If you’re a fan of the original, or just love sliding-centric puzzles this might be the adorably crafted game for you.

BloodBlast VR is an FPS title made by Kalinka, an indie dev specializing in VR out of France. This title follows a doctor able to scale down to the cellular world of being able to see individual blood cells and fight off infections. As some may notice, this is a VR title only meaning that I unfortunately couldn’t play it; however unlike in previous installments, I felt it best to include this title in the games section for better organization. From what I am able to understand from footage, this railshooter has players utilizing their right hand to shoot viruses and other deadly cells while their left wanded hand is for ensuring that the white blood cells don’t eliminate the player. It’s a clever way of giving a surface value understanding to the bloodstream while keeping things exciting with shooting and point collection. If you have a VR device, go ahead and try this out.

Emberlight is a tactical turn-based roguelite dungeon crawler made by Quarter Onion Games, an indie studio based out of the United States. Players will create a team of three Knights of the Ember Order to delve in to different encounters to defeat bosses, find loot, uncover the mysteries of the land and corrupt their souls — wait, what was that last one?

After deciding the three party members to dungeon dive with, players will enter a grid-like map and select the different directions that they wish to go, rather than being able to walk around. Entering treasure rooms will uncover goodies to grab, while other rooms may have shrines to grant buffs or heal. The real fun begins when players enter an enemy room, to which a turn based combat begins starting with whomever has the highest initiative. Each of the Knights has three basic abilities bound to QWE which are (going in order): Heal, Attack and Block. They also have three ‘special’ abilities that are bound to the first three numbers, and can be used when off cooldown granting a variety of boons for the party or devastating damage for the enemy. Combat continues on this pattern going from person to person allowing them to take actions until one team reigns victorious, but that is also when that little aspect from earlier kicks in.

So what did I mean by ‘corrupt their souls’ and why does that sound so ominous? Well, after a successful combat, players may notice that at the top there are abilities that were once utilized by the enemy. These are now belong to the players, and during this phase may be assigned to their party members to make them more powerful. This completely diversifies how the game is played, allowing for new strategies to come forth thanks to the enemies that one faces, just like how one needs to adapt to continue fighting onwards. Of course, there is a catch; the more abilities and the more power these abilities have, the more that Knight becomes corrupted. Constantly consuming abilities will slowly turn Knights evil during the quests, and even lead to some units morphing in to monstrous abominations that barely resemble the Knight they once were. To add even more terror, completing a quest will turn the most corrupted being amongst the allies against them, creating an evil out of one that had been good. The player won’t have to fight them at that very moment, but witness them later down the line as a terrifying monstrosity of their own creation. This is a way of balancing out a very common strategy in party-based adventures, where one party member becomes the true ‘hard carry’ over the others — players who elect to do this will find that one Knight an extremely challenging foe at later levels in the game, possibly even hard-blocking them from continuing.

Emberlight focuses on ensuring that the dungeoneering feels endless in its constant cycles, yet keeps each individual dungeon ‘run’ to under an hour at most. Finishing quests will increase a player’s ‘corruption level’ which allows them to take on more challenging encounters, while allowing for different Knight variations to be unlocked along the way. There are also two game modes to try out in Run and Challenge, where Run is a standard dungeon-crawling experience that allows for building of teams and stats while Challenge does, well, exactly that; it gives players a static team and challenges them to overcome a certain encounter. It’s definitely an interesting mechanic to incorporate enemy attacks in to the player’s build, especially with the ‘trade off’ that allies will become more powerful foes to fight off down the line. It’s super crunch heavy in terms of stats and tactical possibilities, so if you’re really in to constant math and efficiency with your dungeon crawling experiences, this may give you that run you were looking for.

Links

Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.