dead cells as run n gun, which isn't.... bad... but not what i really look for, personally? lots of currencies for different skill trees for grinding upgrades so you can slowly chip away at the infinite levels and the infinite challenges in order to be the someone's forever game. not me! the concept is mildly cool. maybe i'll come back to it. but like.... yeesh.

super cool aesthetic, i liked the gentle transition from exploring to a slightly more involved puzzly-platformer thing. unfortunately i got stuck? hit a bug? and due to a lack of autosave lost about an hour of progress and that totally killed it for me.
again, great aesthetic from the art design to the way the characters talked. loved it. it just couldn't carry... the rest.

(approving) this says a lot about society

I liked the combo building, I liked the variety of characters, and I even got used to the plane-switching mechanic.
I didn't adjust to the difficulty curve. I didn't like that new weapons and characters - which significantly changed the way you played, to the point of being requirements for some levels - were expensive to the point of deterrence. So I got stuck, and I got bored of grinding, and now I'm done.
It's cute, it's cheap, it's fine.

Overall I think this game is doing interesting things, even if it falls over suddenly at the last minute with a poorly broadcast ending and the combat is distinctly uninspired at this point. I'd recommend it (and I would anti-recommend playing XBC1 and 2 first, as it's actually more confusing trying to understand why these characters are relevant and showing up and if they're going to do anything related to their games), but all the good stuff is in the sidequests. It's the kind of game that really electrifies me: it has ambition and can't quite realize all of it.

taking money and traffic management out of the citybuilder reduces tedium and increases pleasure. this is a brilliant change. replacing it with conditional upgrades based on surrounding tiles is even better. keeping up motivation through a series of objectives to tick off also helps direct a traditionally directionless genre.
yes, the game lacks some polish. i would like some more overlays indicating existing building radiuses, for example. but the important information is clear enough, and mistakes are relatively easy to correct. this is an easy-going, chill, engaging game that instantly became one of my favorite entries in the genre.

went back and actually finished it. it left me with a worse impression? so much stuff is non-obvious ("curses" are never explained anywhere I found), easy to miss, or just janky (I bought more buildings than are actually possible to build). There's auto-scaling but not for the loot you get so you will fight for your life to get a shitty tier 1 unique when you're on tier 3. and the ending did not satisfy me at all.
I like the concept of like "hey you're in the perspective of a Prince not just a murderhobo" and there is legitimately good roleplaying in there. there are interesting design decisions. they just don't work over the whole course of the game. the good news is that the core tactics RPG fighting is still pretty OK? it's relatively quick. it's interesting. managing your meagre resources is good, wiping out a clustered group of enemies with a single fireball feels awesome. it's just the less-OK news is that the long term game makes that feel repetitive. by the end i was eager to click the "Yup, let's make a deal and get out of here" button.

on the one hand, i feel like this game has a much more relaxing core loop than house flipping simulator or computer repair simulator. on the other hand, i think i gave myself an rsi because the controls are so repetitive. i'd rather do this than power wash for real (messy! wet! cumbersome! exhausting! outside! climbing on roofs is dangerous!) , but also a game about manual labor almost gave me a manual injury for real, so. life is about balance. clean and dirty. virtual and real. games about hitting dragons with swords, and games about washing surprisingly filthy suburban patios as a profession.

the first like 5 hours, i was totally into it. i liked a lot of changes from the previous Spiderweb formula, especially no more fiddling with trash in fear of missing a magical set of boots, and i'm always up for some city building in my RPGs.
going into dungeons to get the right resource for my fort, building shops, and earning new equipment as i built more forts was really fun! battles felt tough but fair.
and then i hit a wall. i lost too much to theft, and building the anti-theft buildings took too much upkeep for me to build new buildings. i cranked down the difficulty so i could proceed through more of the story and through some truly ridiculous gauntlets. my goals for my fort started feeling more abstract, the skill trees on my characters seemed limited, and i couldn't keep half the factions straight.
it's not that the game is bad, it's just the interesting, new stuff didn't quite work and so the old formula took over.
side note: there's an author's statement about how this game represents how he feels about relationships and politics and how he wants to express the inner lives of his characters and, uh, that goal was not achieved. the writing isn't bad - it is compact and evocative - but your family treats you mostly with contempt. the politics are the same "easy immoral choice to allow slavery vs hard pro-moral choice to stop slavery" you can find in literally any other fantasy RPG. i found that disconnect between what the author intended and what was achieved deeply weird.

i wanted to love this game so much. it is kissing at greatness. i genuinely feel it is on the brink. goblins are the hot aesthetic and the game calls your units "gobs" and you collect shiny stones while you crouch-skate down hills. combat is about sneaking behind people and knocking them around so much their turn never comes. you have a patron spirit the size of a mountain who speaks in riddles. the maps specifically warn you they are not magically altered to indicate your current location. it's winking, it's greedy, it's mystical and really invested in Gobs.
i really like part of it! I like wandering the overworld and sliding down hills and scouting by turning into a bird! I am totally captured by the way the story is told and the weird simulation going on in battles where plants grow on top of me.
i just don't like the battles. i'm too impatient for them, i can't get the hang of the interface, and the upgrades feel uninteresting and complicated (I accidentally removed attack from all my units one time). There's no undo button for when you move without checking range or end a turn facing the wrong way because your finger slipped. and the battles are really the whole game. so, like, vibes: impeccable! actual act of playing for me: i really wish this was a walking sim / peaceful exploring / rpg game instead lol

i have no idea how something which should be right up my alley - explorable shooter with upgrades and humor - ends up not clicking with me at all, but i completed a few objectives and felt totally empty inside. i felt incentivized to proceed at a snail's pace, chipping away at rocks to mine gems to incrementally upgrade. slowly pulling enemies away from the center. absolutely no sense of momentum.

i mean, it's fine? the DNA system immediately shouted out "HEY THIS IS COOL" and then all my "choices" locked in and I felt stuck. and then i got a bunch of undesigned levels slammed together by "procedural generation" where i occasionally got to use the very cool weapons i picked up. nice enemy variety, probably a good weapon variety, i liked the premise, but this mostly seems like whiffed potential.

yea those are some cards. i kind of liked the over-the-top acting, and while it's interesting that the powers can hurt you as much as they help you in some cases, i would rather it just... helped you? does that make me uncool? sorry.

2020

i'm sorry but the world absolutely does not need another pixel art survival game with crafting, and if you are going to make one anyway it should be more polished or have a better crafting experience or something.

i really wanted to love the weaving mechanic! I think it's unique and fun. but i got distracted by performance problems, and trying to decode what to do next, and then i hit a particularly tedious and annoying puzzle and that was just my limit.
sorry, beautiful and interesting looking game. i hope you get some patches and a sequel?