Starward Rogue: AuGMENTED Expansion. Mech Themed Bullet Hell Rogue Like Action From Arcen Games

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

Greetings and Salutations I'm briefly breaking my hiatus today with the hopes that I continue to produce more posts in the foreseeable future, though I am still in hospital undergoing cancer treatment and preparing for possible Stem Cell treatment.
Before I begin I wish to thank Chris Lee and those at Arcen games for providing this pre release copy of their latest expansion Starward Rogue: AuGMENTED.
For those of you unfamiliar with Arcen Games it is a tiny video games company founded in March 2009 by Christopher M. Park – CEO, Lead Programmer and Lead Designer, the company is best known for its real time strategy game AI War: Fleet Command though in recent years the company has undergone financial difficulty due to poor sales in its last two releases, TheLast Federation (an absolutely fantastic Strategy in my option and one of Arcen's best see my first impressions and review Here & Here) and Starward Rogue a scifi themed bullet hell roguelike combination set in the same universe and with the protagonist of The Last Federation.
While both games were of excellent quality their low sales highlighted one of the many issues small companies face through digital distribution through platforms such as Steam and how difficult it can be to advertise. This was especially true in the case of Starward Rogue which had the unfortunate issue of its release coinciding with a time when the roguelike genre was been flooded with low quality, low effort Steam Greenlight games which swamped the front pages of Steam.
Thankfully Arcen Games returned to their diamond in the rough with regular updates and content patches cumulating with with this latest expansion.

Available from January 24th 2018 for $6.99 Starward Rogue: AuGMENTED boasts a new floor type named the gold floor with unique challenges and rewards and in addition also has:
  • 4 new music tracks composed by Pablo Vega and The Overthinkers.
  • 3 new mechs: The Zephyr, The Paladin, and the Warhog.
  • 90+ new items.
  • 30+ new enemies.
  • 125+ new rooms.
  • 8 new room obstacles such as the pulse trap and the flamethrower turret.
  • 10+ challenge rooms, a new room type exclusive to the gold floors.
  • 6 new minibosses.
  • 9 new bosses.
If you'd like to learn more please watch the video below or continue reading for a more detailed review 


Arcan Games have always simple “less is more” approach to sprite design which is heavily evident in Starward Rogue, each player mech and enemy has been designed with bold simple colours and thick outlines which really helps them stand out from the darker backgrounds and glowing energy bullets.
Whilst it gives them a simplest appearance artistically from a design standpoint it is an elegant solution to a common problem within most bullet hell games, even so each of the mechs really stand out individually and the various droids the player battles whilst having a unifying theme are quite unique with a minimum amount of use of recolours by the designer (about 2-3 with most droids). Though if I have one gripe its that several of the invincible turrets don't really stand out from the droids to a new player.
The most identifying feature about each droid are their attack patterns and the variety of colours and shapes that make up the various attack patterns, resisting the current tend of over the top effects and giant particle effects Arcen has once again kept things simple. Instead the neon glow of the bullets is a suitable level with the effects not extending outside of the hitbox (something that far too many game do), also Arcen have not limited themselves to the typical circles, lines and triangle type of bullets there are some very large and weird shapes that you'll find yourself running from.

Focusing once more on those aforementioned backgrounds the artwork tends to be better shaded and detailed than the interactive elements of the game giving them a somewhat cartoony appearance in compression which may put off some but to me was very reminiscence of the run and gun games of the 80s and 90s such as Alien Breed for the Amiga but with much clearer HUD design that doesn't interfere with gameplay. 

Again both these design choices seems to be focused on ensuring enjoyable bullet hell style of game play by minimising many of the common visual problems associated with the genre which I personally appreciated whilst playing. Believe me nothing is more frustrating in a bullet hell style shooter then dying because the bullets were not visible because they blended into the background or losing of the player character for similar reasons.

With only 4 music tracks for the levels (not including the boss battle theme) Starward Rogue did need some additional tracks, while the small number of floors for each run (5 & 7 respectively) did mitigate this somewhat it does become noticeable if doing several games in a row.
Starward Rogue: AuGMENTED addition of 4 more tracks is very welcome and personally prefer these new songs to the originals with EMT-ChillBronze been a particular favourite, but overall when playing you'll usually be too busy with the action to truly listen to the music and instead the rhythm encourages a fast paced style of play.


As you may have gathered from the review so far Arcen have tailor the experience of Starward Rogue to focus on smooth fast paced gameplay and the attention to detail really shows.

More insane than Boatmurdered is a claim not to be taken lightly
The controls are responsive and intuitive whether using keyboard and mouse or Xbox controller, a failure to evade is always in the hands of the player (or bad luck) and if a weapon is slow to fire then it is a purposeful property of the weapon. There is no artificial difficulty via slippy movement or button delay which is a welcome relief from some of the other examples of the bullet hell genre I've played, difficulty comes at less player health and fast complex bullet patterns. (Don't let the video fool you I was playing very easy mode and the enemy bullets are slowed at that setting.)
With the three new mechs the Zephyr, the Paladin and the Warhog bringing the total number of available mechs up to a total of 12, each with a unique set of abilities and level up options. Those wanting to challenge themselves will find plenty of new opportunities to experiment with play styles for these new mechs as each takes an existing play style and adds a twist to the gameplay.

The light armed and armoured Zephyr emphasizes fast gun and run game play ideal for speed runners, the beginning each level with a slew of bonuses that slowly tick down each minute until they are completely gone after 5 minutes forcing fast reactions and a rush to the boss.

The poster boy/mech of AuGMENTED the Paladin is another close range fighter to join the Flame Tank though its energy sword allows for greater range with its beam projection actually striking the enemy with the sword does far greater damage. Its secondary weapon is an energy shield to soak up the hits as you move in closer to engage and each floor you begin with an healing item however you lose 10% of your credits, making it difficult to save up for various upgrades.

Last but not least is the Warhog who sacrifices speed for attack power and begins play with a powerful shotgun, the ability to place a pair of turrets and a single missile launcher attack that grows more powerful with each missile collected before its ability of reducing all damage by 1 is taken into account. This allows the Warhog to steamroll its way through easier early levels however in the later game or harder difficulty settings where evasion is key to survive the Warhogs reduced speed makes surviving a difficult challenge.
This is not taking account of all the various weapons and upgrades that be found in the game, Starward Rogue already had an impressive array of available weapons and items and AuGMENTED simply builds upon this whilst also patching several of the more buggy items (range extending/reducing items have all but been removed).

I personally highly approve of the energy system that the game implements for its secondary weapons, in many shoot em ups special weapons are things to be conserved but in Starward Rogue the energy for these secondary weapons replenishes each floor which actively encourage experimentation and replayablity.
Likewise the new enemies and floors some of which were designed by Arcen games own Starward Rogue community all further this aspect which is Starward Rogues greatest strength though this does come at cost.
At its heart Starward Rogue is a very short roguelike favouring short gaming sessions rather than the long playtimes or endless grinds other roguelikes often prefer, only 5 floors of action or 7 once the game has been successfully completed three times. This one huge unlock contains lots and lots of new content within the game but then there are only a few other things with no visual feedback when the player finally unlocks them.
However this new content is most focused on additional enemy variants and the developers are on record stating “ That's something we'd like to improve in the future, if we can.” AuGMENTED fills the gap with its new golden floors and new challenge rooms but overall there are still a few weaknesses.
While the story for this style of game is usually a excuse plot Starward Rogues initially builds up to be something more, unfortunately this suffered from the funding issue during the development and now there is still no real plot or explanation within the game of Rodney or the monolith even to the ending which was lacking. The developers had expressed a desire to fix this with AuGMENTED if time and funding allowed but from my experience no development has been done however if sales do well I certainly see Arcen games returning to Starward Rogue to finally fix this detail due to their respectable history of support for their older games.
Overall Starward Rogue is a game that wants the player to enjoy the journey than focus on the finish, players expecting a grand epic of a roguelike may be disappointed by the lack of story detail and simplistic level system but those wanting a arcade style of play more reminiscent of the bullet hell genre will not be left wanting. This latest release of AuGMENTED really does help fuel the adrenaline fuelled action in this quirky combination of genres.
  • Well developed blend of genres taking best elements of the bullet hell and roguelikes while removing the worst.
  • Unusual genre combination (originally) and is still one of the best examples of the style to date.
  • Wide array of weapons and foes to test them on without the worry of ammo constraints.
  • Catchy fast paced music that suits the games theme and feel well.
  • Great for short gaming sessions.
  • Good modding community with developer feedback.

  • Visual style can be unappealing to some with its simplicity.
  • Story features not implemented due to lack of funding during initial development but may be patched in depending on success of latest release.
  • Due to point 2 completion of game may feel unrewarding for those wanting more beyond the gameplay.
  • Success can be luck based.
  • Level up system may feel primitive to those wanting or used to a more in depth system
  • Relatively short gameplay for each individual run with no apparent unlocks for completion of the runs (beyond unlocking a 7 floor run).

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Temporary Hiatus Until New Year Due To Health Issues

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category:

Greetings & Salutations, this is not an easy thing for me to write today but I feel that this choice is needed to ensure that the blog simply doesn't stop entirely.

When I initially began this blog I was in a bad place mentally but the writing allowed me a focus and outlet while giving somewhere to store and share many of my old notes though dues to the damaged and sketchy nature of many of them that didn't occur as often as I expected.
The blog itself never became hugely popular though this was never its goal but for a period certain articles were attracting hundreds of people on a daily basis and it was nice to see that some of my effort was helping others, as time has went on I didn't Dungeon Mastered as frequently as I had planned leaving me with little custom content and thus I begun to widen my areas into other areas of interest bringing attention to things that I thought deserved recognition.

Some may scoff at this but writing adventures in presentable format that someone other than yourself can understand is quite difficult and time consuming even before you consider creating maps and issues such as open game licences. Apart from a handful of individuals such as my close friend who writes the Buzy Bobbins blog, Hax Monster and my housemates I didn't really have much help in creating content and I began to burn out under the strain.

This is what led me to start consider writing for simpler under supported games I enjoyed such as KAMB and why I moved away Pathfinder & Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.

Unfortunately for the last 2 months I have been suffering increasingly worsening health issues concerning my back, I am in near constant mild pain at best and sickeningly intense paralysing pain at worst. This has led to sleep and energy problems leaving me fatigued, just living day to day has become exhausting before I even take into account the various job searching I need to do, this pressure has greatly diminished my creativity and even when I do have ideas just sitting at my computer desk causes me pain killing my motivation to write.

At this time I am seeking medical aid but with the Tory government underfunding the NHS and the service beginning to feel the pressure of oncoming winter there is no guarantee that I will be able to receive any meaningful treatment any time soon.

So rather than post sporadically I am going to begin making drafts in the upcoming months and then begin posting regularly again sometime early in the new year which may be affected by whether or not I am employed again or if the introduction of Universal Credit has left me destitute due the utter screw up of a system it is.

Anyone who might be interested making some posts or would like me to take a look at anything in particular please leave a message below in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Otherwise thank you for reading and I wish the best.            

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Kobolds Ate My Baby: Quickstart Adventure: You Iz Kobolds?!

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Greetings and salutations the first thing I wish to say that today's post is only possible due to a kind soul sending me a copy of a homemade PDF of this free adventure by 9th Level Games, I have been searching for copy of You Iz Kobolds?! for several years and even tried contacting 9th Level games directly but like every other enquiry I have made to their customer service email there has been no reply but stony silence.

You may be wondering just why I have been trying so hard to obtain it, for the last few years I have own both KAMB Deluxx Edition and more recently in KAMB in Colour, while I love the concept and the system itself I had issues when trying to introduce the system to others or create games.

The game has practically no online community in spite of its generally well known brand due to its Beer and Pretzels "make it up as you go" nature and the developers have offered little to aid this. The Kobolds Ate My Baby website has been a abandoned mess for years and while 9th Level games have been updating their blog it acts as nothing more as a shout for "Buy Our Stuff" and ignore all contact that is not directly about giving them money for Kickstarter or booking conventions.

The biggest hurdles I have found in the past are that:

  • The lack of consistency in map scale examples and player movement makes it difficult to design locations for players to explore, thankfully this has been addressed in KAMB in Colour. (1 big square on a large map or 25ft on a standard map)
  • A complete lack of Free Pre written adventures and quick start rules to act as an example for beginning DMs and to introduce new players to the game. Whilst trying to create my own quick start rules I found that it ended up a bloated mess due to the large range of skills available.
I discovered in 2016 that 9th Level released a Kobolds Ate My Baby Adventure “YOU IZ KOBOLD!” a year earlier but it wasn't available in my area and there didn't seem to be a PDF of it available anywhere. Why 9th Level haven't supplied it on their website themselves I don't know as it would help attract people to purchase their game, but then again it smacks of laziness and greedy businesses practices not supporting the game past its initial burst of sales to instead focused on creating many other short lived products through Kickstarter.

My goal with all my previous is to give this game at least some support here on my own blog, to help people who bought a copy of KAMB but were never sure how to run it or were always interested in trying their hand at DMing. If I help even one group have a try at this fun little system then I consider it a succcess.

So today as 9th Level games have failed to do so I am giving them the middle finger salute and hosting a copy of You Iz Kobolds?! because they are too caught up in making a quick buck to do so themselves. 
Even if you already own a copy of Kobolds Ate My Baby In Colour I recommend taking a look at You Iz Kobolds?!, the general rules are much clearer in than in the main book and it makes a excellent player reference guide.  

Download Here or from the Downloads page.

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Kobolds Ate My Baby: Snack Bowl Outfits

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , ,

"I'm Jamie Dodger and with me as always is former Snack Bowl Legend Duncan Bisket. For those of you joining us for the post game analysis of Tabriz Terrors versus the Cube Crushers you missed a heck of a game.. How would you describe it Duncan?" “Delicious Dodger, simply delicious.” “From the happy look on the faces of the crowd I think they agree with you Duncan, most of them will be going home with a full stomach today.” “Indeed, Snack Bowl fans are nothing if not voracious, something the teams learned today. Lets hope there is enough left of them for the rest of the season, or seasoning's for that matter.”

Greetings and salutations and welcome to another Kobolds Ate My Baby special, this article will be expanding upon the Snack Bowl adventure for those of you wanting more Kobold sports mayhem.
Specifically I'll be covering the Star Player Outfits, while in future updates this will be expanded with several alternative game rule sets and finally a few particular opposing teams.

As always I'd love to hear feedback, ideas and comments below for further rule sets or adventure hooks you'd like to see in the future.

I don't believe my eyes, it looks like one of the Tabriz Terrors thrown out of the arena earlier has made his way back!” “Wasn't he the one that got snatched by by that pair of orc fans?” “Yes he was Jamie and he looks like he brought what is left of them back for a snack, now there is Star Muncher material right there.” “Well lets hope the furry blighter does just as well on the pitch in the future Duncan, the Tabriz Terrors really need that iron stomach if they want to reach the finals again this year.”

The Outfits for Snack Bowl work in a similar way to regular Kobold outfits though with somewhat narrower requirements and a progression system though they still cost 9 Victory Points.
While Evil Apprentices, Kobold Veterans, Short Order Cooks and the other various skilled Kobolds are always welcomed by any Snack Bowl Coach, would be Snack Bowl Pros are those Kobolds willing to live (& die) on the pitch for the reward of tasty food and the cheers of the crowd (though the wild after game parties are also a big incentive).
This does not stop Snack Bowl players getting into between game mischief and disaster however because if King Torg (All Hail King Torg) says “Fetch Baby” you fetch baby.

Pro Rookie

Congratulations you beat the cut (or the chomp if the case may be) and manage to survive at least half a game, that makes you superior to 75% of other kobolds and worth been given an actual uniform. Keep it up and you might even get your own playing card but be careful your new status will attract plenty of jealous attention.

Requires: Surviving half a Snack Bowl game (Been sent off or taken out of the match counts if you make it back alive for the next game.)

Flair: Team Jersey (3 Armour Hits), this can be worn in addition to a helmet.

Bonus: You gain the Perform Skill and can perform Grandstanding to gain a Victory Point, if you do this after performing a feat of remarkable skill (or more likely luck) such as eating a giant creature, fighting off multiple foes alone and winning or preventing a opponents Chow Down you don't take a Horrible Death Check. If you already have the Perform Skill gain 2 Luck instead for actually having this normally useless skill.

Bonus: If your armour is destroyed you can get a new Team Jersey at half time, otherwise you'll have to wait until after the game or can sneak back to the locker rooms.

Penalty: While Grandstanding anyone trying to hit/shoot you gets a 1 die bonus to clobber your smug little face.

Pro ?

Wow your still alive and you've been pushed to your limits time and time again, but you've made it out there by been tougher, stronger, faster, HUNGRIER than all those others. The fans know who you are and cheer your name, while your rivals want to Chow Down.. on your skull.

Each Pro speciality has its own unique additional requirement but below is the general bonus and flair all PRO's receive.

Requires: Surviving a Snack Bowl game as a Pro Rookie (Been sent off or taken out of the match counts if you make it back alive for the next game.)

Flair: You've got your own Snack Bowl collectors card and collectable card case necklace. It is worth 2VP if traded in to any Cave Bazaare Shops but you'll have to spend 4VP if you want a new one. (This can be stolen or taken from your still warm corpse). You also keep your Team Jersey.

Bonus: You remove 1 Horrible Death Check as Snack Bowls greatest patron Vor The Big Red Angry God takes an interest in your career (for better or worse).

Pro Dinesman

Everyone knows that Kobold is tasty and after years of trying to resist the urge to devour those around you the life of a Snack Bowl player gives you all the excuse you need to let loose, in any other civilisation you'd be recognised as the cannibalistic little monster you are but here the fans love it.

Requires: Eat 3 other players (either side, the fans ain't picky).

Flair: Great Spork (Dam 4, +Cook +Bash -Big -Bulky) or Wok Shield (Armour 4, +Cook +Bash -Item), the referee would argue your breaching rule 4 'Teams will not bring weapons onto the pitch' but since you debated/threatened that eating contests are a sport this is been overlooked for now.

Bonus: You gain a additional 3 Hits whenever you eat Kobolds (instead of 2) or + 2 Hit for any other small races such as Halflings, Goblins and midget clowns.

Penalty: Taste like Kobold checks are now a 2 Die Ego roll, you horrible little creature.

Pro Muncher

The Dinesmen may get to eat first, the Rollers may get the glory and the Flingers may get to stay the heck out of danger but you are the mighty serving dish of the team upon which all other ingredients for success are placed. If it wasn't for you chomping down on those pesky opposing Rollers and all those wanting to squish your Rollers and Flingers you'd all end up in the coaches cook pot after losing the game.

Requires: Prevent a opposing Chow Down within 2 squares of the scoring area or Wrassle 2 other players attacking your teams Roller or Flinger into your mouth. (Not necessarily at the same time but if you do gain a VP for enthusiasm.)

Flair: Spiky Shoulder Pads ( 2 Armour Hits, + Pokey), this can be worn in addition to other armour. Also between games your given access to special treatment to ensure those fangs and claws of yours stay in perfect condition for maximum chomp to surface area ratio.

Bonus: Gain a bonus Die to all Wrassle Checks, you also do +1 Dam whenever you use your teeth or claws to attack or chew.

Pro Flinger

It may have been fluke, it may have been skill (come on we all know it was a fluke) but your well timed boot of the ball has brought you fame and a significant confidence boost. For whatever reason you seem to have gotten much better at hitting your mark, maybe you just needed to believe or perhaps its these new glasses making everything much less fuzzy?

Requires: Score a Chow Down by Shooting the ball to a fellow Kobold in the scoring area.

Flair: Oversized Goggles or Glasses.

Bonus: Gain a bonus Die to all Shoot Checks and now can shoot 4 squares before taking penalty Dice.

Pro Roller

Your in this game for one thing and one thing only, those glorious moments when you Chow Down. Whether its Baby, Badger or some poor bugger stuffed into the ball your going to eat them all and your not going to let anyone stop (or catch) you before you can. So you been working out sprinting through the cavern between games and even managed to make yourself a pair of running sandals to avoid anything nasty underfoot.

Requires: Score 3 Chow Downs.

Flair: Running shoes or Sandals

Bonus: You can now move 6 squares as normal movement instead of 5.

Bonus: Gain a bonus Die to all Wiggle Checks and ignore minor foot hazards like sharp rocks and caltrops.

Pro Cheat

Deception, theft and downright dirty deeds are your weapons of choice and lets be honest you love every moment of it as does the crowd, the referees may hate you but with your life (and dinner) on the line your willing to do whatever it takes. Taking inspiration from other dastardly plotters you've grown quite the impressive moustache and find the occasional twirl helps you think of all new ways to confound your fellow Kobolds.

Requires: Cheat 3 times.

Flair: A long handlebar moustache.

Bonus: You ignore 1 Horrible Death Check for been spotted cheating, this recovers at half time (meaning you can reuse this ability if you already used it before half time).
To use this ability the player must pretend to twirl a long handlebar moustache, cackling is also advised.

Bonus: You gain an additional bonus VP for each new way you cheat.

Seasoned Pro

Some Kobolds tend to focus on a single role during a Snack Bowl game (usually eating) but you've shown that if push comes to shove and your teammates prove useless your going to step in and get things done. Coach has noticed your hard work and provided you some relaxing spar treatment or at least that is what he told you, your not sure how relaxed you are after been sat in a extremely tasty marinade overnight but your certainly hungry.

Requires: Own two different Pro Outfits

Flair: Both flairs of Owned Outfits and a tasty marinade rub down.

Bonus: You can wear both Pro Outfits and gain their bonuses and penalties.

Penalty: That seasoning smells sooo good, gain the bogie – Taste Like Baby also anyone who eats you gains 2 + 1d6 additional Hits.

Snack Bowl Legend

You done it, you've gone the distance with the eye of Owlbear, you float like a Beholder and sting like a Stirge or something like that. Regardless of just how you've managed to reach these lofty heights of stardom your name and deeds will be remembered in Snack Bowl records for all time including your future inevitable humourous and embarrassing death. For now however you plan to live large and eat well with all the meals and cheer squads you can get your hands on, enjoying your debauchery while it lasts. 
Requires: Survive 5 games of Snack Bowl and be a Seasoned Pro or Survive falling all the way into the Horrible Screaming Pit Of Tentacle Death.

Flair: Customised Snack Bowl Helmet (3 Armour Hits), this can be worn in addition to Armour that is not a helmet (no stacking hats). Your own Snack Bowl collectors card is now worth 4VP if traded in to any Cave Bazaare Shops but you'll have to spend 8VP if you want a new one. (This can be stolen or taken from your still warm corpse). You also keep your Team Jersey if you wish.

Bonus: For a single VP you may select any item on any of the Sports Equipment Charts while in the Locker Room though you still take a Horrible Death Check if you use the Dangerous! Charts.

Bonus: Gain the + Extra Padding Edge even if you already have it (yes you chubby Kobolds will roll 2d6 additional Hits).

Bonus: If you are a Seasoned Pro you retain your Seasoned Pro bonuses and penalties, if you got this outfit by surviving falling all the way into the Horrible Screaming Pit Of Tentacle Death you instead regain a single Luck point for each further game you survive (up to initial starting Luck determined by your Extraneous stat)

Bonus: Choose 2 stats to gain +1 Stat Point in as long as your a Snack Bowl Legend.

Bonus: You can choose to gain one of the following skills Bully, Duel, Shoot, Dungeon, Fast or Wiggle. Should you somehow already possess all these skills (you talented little Kobold you) pick a skill to gain a bonus Die in to all its checks, (this does not stack with other Outfit bonus die and anyone trying to minmax in such a fashion takes a Horrible Death Check).

Penalty: Vor The Big Red Angry God wants you for his personal star team collection, +1 on the result of any Horrible Death Check or Chart Roll.

Penalty: Should you be eaten (& presumably killed) during a Chow Down the opposing team gains 5 points.

Card Collector

Usually a hobby for those simply watching the game, your desire to complete your collection drove you to take to the pitch retrieving those First Edition Print cards from around the necks of the players themselves. After all its a dangerous game and these valuable pieces of Snack Bowl history would be much safer in your King Torg (ALL HAIL KING TORG) Certified Snack Bowl Collectors Cardbook tm.
Requires: Have 5 Snack Bowl collectors cards.

Flair: You gain a King Torg (ALL HAIL KING TORG) Certified Snack Bowl Collectors Cardbook tm (Dam 2, +Ricochet +Bash, -Big)

Bonus: You can choose to gain one of the following skills: Fear, Sage or Bard, you may also use Sage once a game without taking a Horrible Death Check (unless the other players give a thumbs down).

Bonus: You gain a Bonus die in against anyone whose card is in your collection.

Bonus: If you somehow receive a replica card you can trade this in for 1 addition VP to its normal worth.

Penalty: You can't bear to part with your collection and thus unable to trade unique cards in to any Cave Bazaare Shops and must attempt to recover your Snack Bowl Collectors Cardbook if you somehow lose it. (If it is lost permanently somehow you lose the ability to wear this outfit)

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Silverain Reviews: SakuraGame: Hell Girls

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: ,

Greetings and salutations over the last few years Steam either listening to its maturing user base (or simply motivated by money) has become slightly more lax in regards to more adult rated games that focus on sexual rather than violent content.
In this series of reviews I am going to be focusing on a small publisher SakuraGame (not to be confused with Winged Cloud who create the Sakura series of games), this small publisher has released a variety of cheap content of various genres ranging from simple erotica to undoubtedly a hentai game with quality wildly fluctuating between its smaller developer studios. 

Hell Girls is a R18 puzzle RPG created by SakuraGame that prioritizes match 3 strategy over speed, in a similar vein to other match 3 games such as Puzzle Quest the game is heavily focused around turn based combat by matching icons to perform certain attacks.
Coining a term from a fellow reviewer Athravan Hell Girls match system could be described more accurately as link & match in that you can make long chains of matches going in any direction with a simple premise of longer the chain, greater the effect. However simply creating a long chain is not enough each of the three available characters has a unique bonus that triggers from the special spellbooks that are created from long chains and often it is more tactical to make chain the length of the spellbook you need.
I certain agree with Athravans own comment that 'Making combos and setting up the board for something massive is genuinely entertaining', it adds a level of tactical depth to the match 3 genre that is often lacking. In addition each character is focused on a element and attack style theme with the ability to learn and equip various usable skills which add further options and variety, this also applies to the various mixture of foes who usually have 2 to 4 different methods of attack each making each monster encounter tactically varied and rather challenging when these monster types are grouped together in a string of fights in a single encounter.

Not all the mechanics are great however, the additional RPG element comes in levelling which increases your stats such as defence and damage as expect, as experience points are spent individually by each character while supporting varying ones play style it leads to a long grind for Soul and Money. It is also responsible for the sudden spikes of difficulty where certain encounters are simply impossible until the character has progressed several levels forcing you to replay levels even further.
Each level does have a series of typical challenges such as moves taken, items collected and number of enemies defeated so occasionally this does force a player back to these levels once their characters have developed to achieve a better rating. 
Further unlocks include alternative costumes mostly in the design of bikinis and other fan service outfits though each has its own powerful effect and downsides. There is no mandatory requirement to use these however and the default armour will serve quite fine.
The story in game is told sporadically and honestly rather badly if it wasn't for the steam store description I really would not know anything about it and even then it is rather vague:
Three mysterious families are blessed by the gods to give birth to girls with powers over fire, ice, and lightning every century.
Their powers are unknown to others, but they will be called by the gods to travel across Hell and Earth, slaying monsters to save the world from being swallowed by Hell’s corruption.
In game they have been referred to as angels by various NPCs or just hired as mercenaries by more eccentric ones. The little dialogue is cliché with cumbersome attempts to add sexual undertones and humour. One NPC I encounter was a budding alchemist who needed Orc 'fluids' with heavy suggestions that they fluid was semen. Given the (admittedly tame) fan service in the game I half expected one of the six images in the game to be of this 'collection'. Instead I was pleasantly relieved that after defeating the orcs she simply said thank you and taught my character a skill (though that adds all new questions of if these girls are the only ones with magic how are other teaching them magic skills).

Finally the visual in the game are quite good in all honesty, the 3d models for both the girls and the enemies are quite detailed with minimum clipping observed. The few scenes with artwork are of high quality but it is just a shame its all fan service and drives away more customers than it attracts.

  • Good quality if cliche artwork and character design, with impressive 3d model detail for its production value.
  • Enjoyable and varied mechanics with various levels of customisation.
  • Art gallery options.
  • Reasonable game length.
  • Easy to pickup and play, no punishment for failure.
  • Energetic and upbeat music.
  • Variation on the match 3 genre.
  • Publisher gives acknowledgements to those who helped with the game.
  • Steam Cards and Achievements.

  • Fan service is laughable and sadly stereotypical in design, too much and embarrassing for the average player and too little and tame for those looking for a more adult game.
  • Level grinding required.
  • Mechanics have variety but are rather shallow and many enemies are recolours with higher stats.
  • Sudden difficulty curves due to RPG elements.
  • Game occasionally forces you to play as particular characters against enemies that their playstyle is weak against.
  • Steam recommendations feed changed to focus on anime from playing this one game.

If you'd like to see more check out my video below:

If your looking for the decensor patch it can be found on the download page.

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