I rate games completely subjectively based on my own experience and impressions.
I mostly play modernish indie games, recently have taken an interest in immersive sims. I tend to like games with a strong focus on atmosphere, exploration, player freedom and with some amount of difficulty. Games rated the highest tend to be ones that made a really strong impression on me in some way.
5 - basically perfect to me, games i hold dearly and love everything about.
4.5 - amazing games that are really engaging all around with next to no notable shortcomings and some potentially outstanding elements.
4 - really good games which manage to do what they're trying to do very well with few flaws.
3.5 - good games i enjoyed my time with, though may fall slightly short in some ways.
3 - alright games i have some gripes with.
2.5 - mixed opinion or meh games.
2 - i didn't like it much, its flaws overshadowed the good.
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Favorite Games

Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds
Rain World
Rain World
Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium


Total Games Played


Played in 2023


Games Backloggd

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Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II

Sep 26

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sep 23

Hypnospace Outlaw
Hypnospace Outlaw

Sep 05

System Shock: Enhanced Edition
System Shock: Enhanced Edition

Aug 29


Aug 28

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Comparisons to dark souls are probably one of the biggest cliches of game reviews, to the point that they've become a joke. They're often misused and add nothing to the conversation. With Salt and Sanctuary however it feels like this comparison cannot be avoided, because it adapts near every mechanical aspect of dark souls and carries it over into 2D. It's all there, from the basics to the more niche things, spare save points which restore healing and losing xp on death, the slow stamina based combat, stat leveling, resistances, a bunch of possible builds, from dex and strength to magic and wisdom, a bunch of these in isolation arent really the most telling but when so many of them are in one place, it becomes hard to see it any other way. Especially when the world of the game is in the same dark fantasy grim medieval atmosphere vein with npc's scattered around the world, the lore being told obtusely through item descriptions and there's even a covenant system. And even further on top of that there are light online mechanics with bloodstains and messages. If you name a mechanic from dark souls, there is a high chance that there is a similar one here.
I'm saying all that to illustrate that i think the comparison is inescapable because it feels like this game was made with the "dark souls in 2d" aim from the get go. And since it feels so central to the making of this game, it will also be pretty central in this review. I enjoy the souls games I've played quite a bit, so there's definitely worse games this could be biting from, the question is, how well does it make that transition?
It is a mixed bag, but as you can tell from my rating, a lot of it isn't all that succesful. There are a few mechanics that, whether by coincidence or not, are the same in souls yet work much less well here. For starters, the combat is very much in that same vein of rolling to dodge with iframes, having to time your attacks well etc. The game however rarely shakes it up with any of the strengths a platformer could have and instead sticks to the ground for the majority of the bosses, leading to your only responses to attacks being roll through them, away from them, or occasionally jump over them and the positioning on a straight line is much less interesting than on a flat plane. Most fights early game are very stale because of this since despite some different designs they feel very samey. The game sometimes attempts to shake this formula up but this more often than not backfires, with some pretty bad bosses(the tree of men and the mad alchemist as examples). In general the combat leaves a fair bit to be desired. First off there's the aformentioned movement limitation, which already makes it less dynamic, but there's also the fact that enemies have an annoying tendency to instantly turn around AND sometimes start up an attack without any delay upon turning around. This leads to another point, that being that enemy tells often just don't convey the weight of the attack and sometimes come too quick for the speed the game operates at. S&S really made me appreciate the animation work that has to go into a game like this since here it is sorely lacking with many enemies. It doesnt help that there's plenty of grab attacks with little tells that can also be chained together, leading to further frustration. There isn't a map, which makes navigating some of the areas and backtracking a confusing chore, and especially hurts it as a metroidvania making it much harder to keep track of every place you cannot progress through yet. This isn't so bad at the beginning but worsens as the game goes on and discouraged me from trying to explore more thoroughly since i'd usually end up just going back to places i already was and risked getting lost with all the salt i had accumulated. Not having any landmarks to recognize and orientate yourself from a distance or even really an objective makes the lack of a map really felt later in the game. Speaking of it being a metroidvania, it isn't really a good one either. 4/5 of the abilities you unlock serve pretty much only as glorified keys to get past their respective "doors" and are scarcely used as anything else. The wall jump sucks and as far as I'm aware can't even be used to scale down walls and only the air dash which you get as your very last upgrade serves a purpose beyond just gating progression. The game tries to include some sections focusing on platforming, and to be completely frank, it is not a good platformer. Ledge grabs and wall jumps can feel janky, the character movement isn't anything worth writing home about and worst of all, fall damage can be lethal and it's hard to tell what's death pit and what isn't, and many of the levels have vertical designs which often have plenty of those. This is another aspect it shares with souls that i think is a pretty frustrating inclusion in this context.
Now I'll admit, many of those are nitpicks that by themselves wouldn't amount to much. I'll also admit that it's not like dark souls is without its shortcomings, cheap moments and annoying sections and design decisions. The issue i have here is that many of these small things pile up and make the game more and more frustrating as it goes on and there's not really any saving grace that could make me tolerate these moments. I struggle to name an enemy or boss i found enjoyable to fight, the best i get to is an "it was alright". There's also the additional feeling that what I'm playing is pretty much an inferior version of something i enjoy more. I could maybe overlook these issues if the game was doing something of its own, or if at least it had some strengths that overshadow it, so does Salt & Sanctuary have anything that could serve that purpose?
Well, one of the strengths of it is the game's world. Despite my complaints about the lack of a map, which do still mostly apply, the world has a ton of interconnectivity, shortcuts and links back to previous areas, which are often unexpected and pleasantly surprising, partially thanks to how lost the game can make you feel so finding familiar ground can be quite relieving. This is the only aspect where the lack of a map almost works to its advantage but it isnt really worth all the issues it causes. The game could've had a chance to set itself apart with its world, aesthetic, areas and lore and while it sometimes tries to do something unique, there is one moment which completely broke my suspension of disbelief.
Late in the game there is an area called Siam Lake, and it is pretty much an exact copy of Ash Lake from DS1. This moment completely baffled me, since despite the game already biting from Dark Souls so hard, I wasn't expecting it to straight up copy an existing area. This is the moment that made me mentally check out from the game since while i was willing to give the game some credit before, it felt like it had stepped over a line here and in the process completely gave up its own identity. Not only was it taking most of the mechanical base from souls, it was now directly taking its aesthetic too. At that point, what does the game have to set itself apart at all and not just permanently exist in the shadow of its inspiration? Worse still, it planted an idea in my head that if the game was willing to go so far as to copy an entire area, what else could it have copied that i didn't know about? What if something else that i thought was cool was just ripped from a different game that i haven't played? It is a pretty insidious thought but if the game did it once i wouldnt even be surprised if it repeated that.
As a side tangent that i couldn't cleanly fit elsewhere, while the aesthetic is something a bit different, i think the game kind of drops the ball on music and visual variety. While there's different areas and some are neat, it feels like there's too many dull shades of gray, brown and green that make it tiring after a while and there's only 2 different boss themes and 3 background tracks that play at random in the world. Both of those arent bad on their own but they get old when repeated so much, especially some of the background ones. This all just further added onto my fatigue with the game's mechanics.
So all in all, my experience with Salt & Sanctuary has been mostly negative. I find playing it a slog, its influences are so obvious that they're impossible to ignore, yet it is completely overshadowed by them in near every aspect and ends up with almost no identity of its own. There are some moments and ideas that show some spark of potential and a few things that are carried over from its influences still remain engaging but when they're put in a game i find as miserable to play as this, i find them to have little value.

The first thing that strikes me about System Shock 2 is how hostile everything in it feels. The odds are stacked up against the player, there's very little ammo, guns are constantly on the verge of breaking, near everything has a skill requirement which you often won't meet and the station keeps pulling out new tricks and ambushes constantly. It's a fight of one against many, and it gets tough, especially in the early game. The survival horror elements are at their most prevalent here and combined with a constant unnerving atmosphere and with the unpredictability of enemies which could be around every corner the tension never quite goes away.
And while the game did constantly keep me on my toes, it is also a game that feels like it can be conquered, as i built my character and as more and more options became available, the odds became more manageable, even if the game didnt ever let me get completely comfortable. Playing smart is rewarded and there's an immense satisfaction in cleanly taking down an enemy who was a nightmare beforehand without even taking damage. The character building is one of the most enjoyable parts, slowly growing an arsenal and a defined playstyle, being able to choose how to go up against the constant threat of the Von Braun in your way. All this makes for an exceptionally engaging game, each deck a battle for survival, listening out for enemies, weighing the options of what's the best way to take them down with what's available, thinking forward about what's the best skill to invest in next and scavenging for resources that are crucial to making it out alive. The reconstruction machines also help make the gameplay loop a bit smoother instead of the usual quick save quick load fare. I almost kinda wish that there was a harsher punishment for death in the later game than the at that point very insignificant 10 nanites, but i also am not sure how that could be balanced well so it's not a huge issue. The game also has quite a bit of replayability, with how many ways one can go about its upgrades.
This constant uphill battle is supported by the great presentation, especially on the audio side of things. Enemies are often heard before they're seen and there's a constant droning cold ambience through the ship's sometimes sterile and eerily empty, sometimes disgusting and fleshy halls. The soundtrack has a harsh contrast of energetic techno and dnb up against slow brooding dark ambient and it ends up working surprisingly well. The aggresive electronic tracks are like a boost of adrenaline, both mirroring the onslaught of enemies and pumping up the player to deal with them. Plus all of them ABSOLUTELY bang. But when those tracks stop and only quiet unnerving ambience is left, the paranoia settles in and the harsh contrast honestly made me feel it even more.
The many are a perfect antagonist for a game like this, they mock and pity the player's loneliness, and it feels like they're always watching, an ever present threat that there's no escaping from and which even occasionally speaks to the player directly in their choir of voices. Finding audio logs of crew members converted to their cause is always chilling. The scariest thing is how at times, it does really feel like they are superior to humanity, how they could really end all our discord. To quote a log found near the end of the game: "With only a few short years of evolution, they've been able to conquer this starship, mankind's mightiest creation. Where were we after forty years of evolution? What swamp were we swimming around in, single celled and mindless?" The voice acting can be hit and miss but i think it works very well for the vast majority and there's a lot of really interesting bits that add a lot to the overall atmosphere of the game. Shodan's role in the game can feel a bit passive in terms of what she actually does, but she has an immense presence otherwise in her voice acting especially and is absolutely a memorable antagonist.
There's a bunch of design decisions i feel don't work as well, some weapons and abilities will become available very late game and by the time the player is likely to get them it feels like they aren't really nearly as useful, especially considering the point investment necessary into them (though there are probably builds that could make them work). This leaves a bunch of potential on the table that isn't fully used which i think is a bit of a shame. Some skills are also notably less useful than others. The game also has a slight decline in quality after getting to the rickenbacker and the following areas, the first 5 decks were definitely the most engaging parts for me, even if the latter parts do still have their high points. The ending is admittedly stupid and strange but it's also kinda funny in just how abrupt the tone shift is. It feels as if a joke ending was canonized and i honestly in some weird way love it for that? It's certainly memorable if nothing else.
System Shock 2 is an amazing game that still holds up very well today. It can be difficult to get into but that hostility is an essential part of the experience. It is a game which works exceptionally well in how its mechanics enhance the atmosphere and overall tone without sacrificing any of their depth. It has sunk its hooks into me and despite finishing it not that long ago i am already thinking about giving it another shot, likely to finally tackle the higher difficulties.

This review contains spoilers

(huge spoilers for pretty much everything)
The original Rain World is a game i would consider more or less perfect. It is stunning in near every aspect and it is also one that feels like it specifically appeals to me in many many ways. While the magic of the initial impression isn't really comparable, it is also a game that i've played a lot of and at some point i inevitably started modding it. So going into this i am far from unfamiliar with modding. But while i'm used to it, it also feels a bit different to have one implemented into the main game as paid content like this as well as a mod having this kind of scale. As the release drew closer i got a bit worried about how it'd turn out, even though i was inevitably excited for it considering it is a follow up to a game i hold as highly as i do.
And well, while i do like it, it does suffer exactly from that issue, how the hell do you follow up a game like Rain World? Retreading the original survivor experience wouldn't capture the initial effect that the game has, and since this is an expansion and not a sequel, it does stick to the same general world. So i assume the natural stepping point was hunter, taking that base experience and making it more difficult as well as making the player more powerful to go up against the increased challenge. I think Hunter is a great gamemode for a variety of reasons, it switches up the ecosystem and your place in it in a way that fits perfectly and is quite engaging after playing as survivor, but it also requires a lot of knowledge about the game's systems and world to get through succesfully because of the cycle limit, so it fits as a gamemode to be unlocked. The step up the slugcats in this dlc take is one that feels less grounded both in abilities and in the ways they are placed in their world and stories and as such it has a different overall feel to it. Becoming a predator isnt really the same thing as having an explosive double jump. Another issue that became apparent for me after a while is that map knowledge makes these campaigns a lot more repetetive. The player knows where to go and as such exploration becomes a question of when the player feels like going to pebbles and/or moon which is an aspect i couldn't really get out of my head whenever starting a new campaign and one that i think drags the dlc down a bit, even if it's one that isn't easy to avoid, because yet again, it is building off the base game and set in the same general world.
Despite all this i do have to say that pretty often the new campaigns do highlight great things about the base game and expand on them in some very engaging ways. Each one focuses on a different aspect and takes it to its extreme, whether it be movement(rivulet and saint), combat(artificer and spearmaster) or the survival mechanics (gourmand, for lack of a better term to sum it up). And at its best, downpour did make me realize just how great a lot of these mechanics were and utilized them in a way that may not be entirely in line with what the original game set out to do, but is great nonetheless as a way to push their possibilities to the forefront. And some new changes are welcome, since the player isn't approaching the world with the same mindset they were before. Artificer is an absolute joy to play, with rain world's scrappy freeform combat being put to use in the best way possible. Even if i said that an explosive double jump may not be in line with the original game, it is still an explosive double jump and those tend to be pretty sick, and that's kind of how i feel about the whole campaign, it may be comparatively over the top at times, but it is so consistently engaging that i don't mind at all. Pretty much all combat that would be too risky in the base game is now on the table and it's an absolutely wonderful showcase of those mechanics. The story is fairly straightforward, but it fits in well as a clear driving motive and the downpitched dream jingles later on set a fittingly darker mood as artificer becomes more and more caught up in violence. The karma limitation works thematically and while it can get annoying in a few regions with limited scavenger populations or high karma requirements, it makes crossing a karma gate feel less like grinding up food and more a challenge of your hunting skills. Metropolis is a very obvious region addition, but it is still a stunning final locale (with amazing threat music) to go through and is overall very well executed, even if i have mixed thoughts on the inclusion of a final boss. Gourmand on the other hand excels in many different utilities and a different approach to gameplay which is generally slower paced as well as more item focused with crafting mechanics. Those can sometimes have pretty ridiculous results (being able to craft living creatures and some other more ridiculous items) but mostly feel fairly fitting and interesting to experiment with. I like the change the higher damage higher risk spear throws bring, it feels like a fresh twist on combat that requires a more careful approach. It's a campaign i appreciate a fair bit for its lesser narrative ambitions and for a lot of fun little mechanics which add new possibilities and encourage creativity, especially how a lot of region unique items can now be crafted on the spot with a bit of resourcefulness. I also appreciate the food quest as something to help with the problem about exploration i mentioned before. Outer Expanse is another really well made region and the entirety of gourmand's campaign was an enjoyable change of pace, a surprisingly lighthearted one centered on curiosity and experimentation, and i can appreciate that. The only thing i was worried about was that the existence of outer expanse would retrospectively undermine survivor's journey to ascension, but the alternative ending actually handles this very well, outer expanse now being seemingly empty with the question of where all the other slugcats disappeared left unanswered. The ending doesn't feel like just a simpler "good" alternative, but is instead a more bittersweet one.
The other slugcats' campaigns are a lot more Lore Heavy, which comes with some mixed results. There's a fair few ideas i found interesting and enjoyable, but it gets more messy from here. Spearmaster's campaign feels like a slight retread, considering it covers known events leading up to the main game which i don't think adds much. What it's left with is a less interesting characterization of the iterators and a pearl fetch quest for most of the campaign. This feels especially strange given that spearmaster is the only character unable to store pearls in their stomach and because of this the whole campaign feels a lot more restrictive. It also nullifies the dual wielding ability which could've made for some engaging combat scenarios but instead makes them better to avoid. Rivulet has some similar trappings but pulls off most things better. Their movement capabilities are pushed to ridiculous extremes, which for a game with a movement system as in depth as rain world's leads to a very fun character. Their short cycles and periodical rain showers pair well with this for a tense campaign all about speed and finding enough food to satisfy your fittingly fast metabolism, all of which does a good job highlighting the traversal in the game, similarly to what artificer did for combat. The story has some compelling ideas, Pebbles' decision to help moon does make for an effective moment. I especially like the music pearl he has as the only thing to keep him company. Most of the campaign does also involve a fetch quest, but mechanically it is a better fit than spearmaster, as the energy cell rivulet carries enhances their already insane movement capabilities even further and riv is not really focused on combat anyway. I'm not completely aboard with everything that's done with the story here, the context of the fetch quest itself feels a lot more contrived than i'd like and again not always a fan of all the iterator characterization here. Along with this, they show another influence hunter had, that being the idea of closer iterator slugcat relations as well as ones specifically engineered by them. It took me a while to figure out what exactly bothers me here, but i think it comes down to spearmaster and rivulet's campaigns being entirely centered on the narrative surrounding iterators, the slugcats themselves have next to no motivations, they don't have their own plight, there's next to nothing to them besides existing to let the player see plot points/make the plot move along. And despite some good ideas and moments, i can't say i find the plot itself interesting enough to justify this change.
That leaves only saint's campaign, which i have very, VERY mixed thoughts on. It changes the world in the most significant way, and is often very beautiful and atmospheric. Saint's pacifism adds a certain sense of tranquility to it all and the altered echo monologues are mostly great. Undergrowth was one of the highlights, seeing a previously gray and seemingly dead area coming to life deep underground where the cold can't reach it. Seeing pebbles' barely alive puppet was also a very effective moment. All this was somewhat hampered by an excessive amount of predators in a world that seems to be on its final breath and yet has way too many predators, especially in some regions. The karma 10 ability was also a shift of tone i was mixed about, being a very drastic change from what so far has been one of the more understated campaigns, but i was willing to see where the game would go with such a major change. However any positive thoughts i had were shattered in rubicon. Saint's final area kills the tone in the worst way possible. It for some bizzare reason changes the most mysterious creatures and location in the game into means for locked arena combat? With the pacifist character who's "combat" mechanics are the least interesting out of the bunch??? The inclusion of rubicon in the game is completely bizzare to me, as it seems to go against every aspect of rain world i find interesting. It's an overlong uninteresting combat gauntlet that feels painfully grounded in very "gamey" design choices with some admittedly interesting visual work that leads to a cryptic ending which despite some potentially interesting aspects tries to do a bit too much and just can't quite make me overlook what preceeded it. Rubicon is my least favorite part of downpour and possibly one of my least favorite final areas in any game. Which is really quite a shame because of just how much potential saint had to be a favorite of mine and because it finished the dlc on quite possibly the worst note it could
Now for the miscellaneous things, the dlc also adds a few additional modes. Expedition appears to mostly have the same base i remember from when i played it as a non official mod, just now with extra unlocks and polish. It is a fine gamemode if what you're looking for is just playing more of the base gameplay loop the campaigns offered with some extra twists. Challenges provide shorter, well, challenges that mostly take after the arena mode. Their quality can vary a ton, from some being fun little tasks or puzzles that focus on some aspect of the base game or have some twist to them, to some pretty bad ones driven by rng. I think rng is barely ever a problem in campaigns, and generally strengthtens the game with variety and liveliness, but there your tasks of find food and shelter are very general and can be achieved with so many ways that rng rarely screws you over completely. In Challenges the arenas are small and the tasks specific, which can lead to a lot of frustration and inconsistent difficulty where some challenges can become near impossible one run and completely free on another, and some others rely on inconsistent mechanics. There are still some highlights here, but it's barely worth digging through it all unless you're a completionist, especially considering that the last challenge is a horribly misguided boss fight both in mechanics and theming and is similarly disappointing to rubicon. The last alternative gamemode is safari which is really cool as an idea, being able to play as any creature, but it also is left at just messing around as the various critters so it's largely just what you make of it. I tend to like having some kind of goal in games, so i can't say i got that much out of it.
Throughout my talk of the campaigns, i often mention a single region along with each slugcat and this brings me to another point that i'm a little disappointed by. Nearly each campaign now has an exclusive region or two, which is a cool idea, combined with the timeline making some regions change. The problem for me arises from these regions very often being dead ends that serve as just finales to the campaign. There is very little interconnectivity and while a lot of the regions by themselves are very solid and well made, it does worsen my problem with exploration even further, since almost all campaigns, even the ones i like, just involve going to moon or pebbles, seeing what's up with them and being directed towards where you need to be with a new region there where the campaign finishes. I previously played many custom regions, because i simply really liked exploring, but one limitation i always found was how most of the time, each region is self contained with a few exits to the vanilla regions and as such there wasnt really the same sense of being lost. This was one of the most exciting things for me about this dlc, being able to get lost in something new once more, but most of the new regions dont really improve upon this. This may have partially just been wishful thinking, but it does feel like a missed opportunity when there's only really one brand new region that is integrated more seamlessly rather than sticking out at the edges of the map. And that region is a good addition, Pipeyard connects a lot of far away edges of the map and makes for a route i used a few times to get to places as a fresh alternative and it worked very well, so i find it a shame that it's the only region of its kind. I do however like the addition of alternative paths and subregions, mainly in sky islands as well as the gutter in chimney canopy. The new creatures also feel a little lacking. Another aspect that i was hoping to see expanded upon was an addition of more passive critters or generally new creatures, but the majority of what was added just ended up being slight variations on existing predators. Yeeks and Mother Spiders are my favorites, yeeks being some of the more uniquely designed creatures as well as one of the only truly passive ones, while mother spiders are interesting both because they're presented as taking care of their young (noodleflies are one of my favorites in vanilla because of this), thus feeling more grounded as a living creature as well as being mechanically interesting with the danger of killing one way too close constantly having to be taken into account. Inspectors and Giant Jellyfish are more unusual and aren't as directly integrated into the world but both are really cool designs and discovering them was a memorable moment.
In the end i do see that downpour has a lot of ambitious ideas and clearly a bunch of passion went into it, but not only is some of the execution mixed, i also find that some of the ideas it has arent what i was interested in seeing in rain world in the first place. What made the original game stick as much as it did for me was its massive, mysterious and inspired world that i find fascinating to this day. The quiet reflective moments contrasted with the skyscraping heights it would occasionally reach, both being equally important to the overall impression. The whole world felt alien and all the greater concepts hard to get a grasp on from the player's limited perspective as a lost animal, caught up in your own struggle and only barely ever managing to see beyond it, that perspective especially was what stuck with me. There are a lot of things left up to interpretation, so it is not surprising that this is what the community would focus on, but it's also something that i don't think will stick with me nearly as much. 6 of the new regions focus on or are related to those heights mentioned (mainly to iterators), and as stunning as those are initially, this fixation made me realize that what downpour does is just not really what i was looking for. There is a lot of ambition here, and it has a bunch of interesting iterations on the ideas present in the base game, but in its pursuit, it loses a bunch of the little things that i found most appealing in the original. But even with all this it is still pretty darn good generally! After all, i am inevitably comparing it to my favorite game and it isn't really easy to come up on top in that comparison. Rain world is an extremely hard act to follow. In a way i do appreciate downpour both for its flaws and its successes. Rain World is a game i've spent so much time with to the point where a lot of things are easy to overlook and may have gotten stale, and the dlc provided me with a fresh perspective on it and made me appreciate it more. Through its successes i remember why i fell in love with the game in the first place and in its shortcomings i can often see what made rw such a standout game to me. So despite some of my misgivings, i am glad downpour exists and i am also glad that with it, rain world is getting the attention it deserves.