TN’s Indie Impressions – CrossCode

A 16bit era styled ARPG?  You would think this would be right up my alley.  I certainly hope I dont get eggs on my face…or balls.

Prolly Balls.

And always remember…STAY NERDY!

CrossCode on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/368340/CrossCode/

Path of Exile Delirium League: Thoughts & Speculation

Its time for another discussion about Path of Exile (I write about this a fair amount, don’t I?) and I hope you don’t mind gentle readers.

Today, I wanna talk about the upcoming announced Delirium League, launching on March 13th! Its time for RAMPANT SPECULATION YET AGAIN! That is what this is by the way, speculation and theories!

First, lets give ya the trailer (its wild everyone)

Madness am I right? Now, you can view the official launch page right here which will give you a starting point for discussion. But lets break down what we know so far.

First, obviously, we have new skill gems. This comes with every league, however, unlike previous leagues which focused on specific gem types (spell, melee, bow, ect) this time the developers have apparently been given carte blanche to do what they want. Thats why we are getting things like Kinetic Bolt which is apparently a chaining wand skill gem attack (that is supposedly available at level 1) and Blade Blast, which will detonate blades that are now left behind from other skills like EK and Bladefall. Nothing has been said about upcoming new supports at the time of writing this so I can’t speak on those. We also have new uniques which are kind of interesting, like Perfidy, which allows you to use 2 Banner skills at the same time and speeds up their charge generation.

Then of course we have the league mechanic. The basic premise is as follows: you find this “Mirror of Delirium” in a zone and walk through it. By doing so you enter a warped world where monsters are given new abilities, league mechanics from previous leagues become modified, and you can find unique rewards within it. There is also mention of “going deeper” into the madness, which I assume means that after you go far enough away from the starting point things get harder and harder, with better rewards in exchange for the risk. However, I am not sure how we leave the madness at the moment. Is there a kill counter? Is there a timer? It doesn’t way in either the trailer or on the website.

There are also indications of items that will let you “Corrupt” maps at the end game coverting them into pure Delirium Maps, which will alter the rewards of the map as well. I assume this is how you will get access to the new endgame encounter the Simulacrum, which sounds like its going to be a copy of SOMETHING that you have to fight against (thats kind of what the word Simulacrum means, my guess is you will fight yourself. What is the greatest enemy of a person? Themselves Exile…themselves…their own fear and madness!)

I like the look of this mechanic, personally. I always enjoy “breach style” encounters, especially when they are optional. I am also curious how it will interact with things like breach, the temple encounters, and especially the Blight ones! Can you imagine doing a Blight tower defense encounter while inside the Delirium Mist? Dear god in heaven Exile that is going to be, well, madness!

However, the single biggest thing that excites me about this league over all are the new “Cluster Jewel” items. These things are in a word “Bonkers”. So anyone who has played Path of Exile has run into a Jewel. These are items you socket into your passive skill tree in order to add effects. An example of a normal jewel would be this!

However, Cluster Jewels are are something special. Added specifically to Delirium League, these jewels only function when placed in a jewel socket on the OUTSIDE of the passive tree. And what they do is GIVE YOU AN ENTIRE NEW SECTION OR BRANCH ON THE PASSIVE TREE WITH NEW NODES! You can even chain the Cluster Jewels going from Large, to Medium, to Small creating new paths with unique nodes. They have a good example of this on the website, but let me show you an image with some added text giving you an idea

Cluster Jewels!

These jewels appear to come in Magic, Rare, and Unique types, meaning you can get Cluster Jewels rolled with all sorts of strange combinations. There are also roughly 280 new “Notable” nodes, which are listed on that site. I am very excited to see just what sorts of combinations you can get, and this will encourage people I think to path to the outside of the passive tree JUST so they can use these nodes. I do imagine, however, you will need to spend skill points to path thru the nodes. I also wonder what would happen if you socket a jewel, and then remove it after spending said skill points. Do you get the points back as if respeced? Do they vanish?

We need more concrete info as to just how these Cluster Jewels will work in practice. The ones listed on the website are fascinating to look at. The Large Rare jewel listed there for example adds “10 New Passive Skills” and 2 brand new Notables, all focused on attack damage (so a weapon based physical build would love it) for instance. The Unique “Voices” listed there is one I imagine EVERYONE will want as it specifically adds 3 Jewel sockets + 1 small node that does nothing, meaning you can chain a TON off it! It being a large means you could connect 3 different medium or small nodes, and if you manage 3 rare Mediums you could then in theory, assuming any add sockets of their own as shown in that image above, chain more off them.

Finally they are making improvements to the Atlas of Worlds to make it more deterministic. I got bored with my build last league but I did make it to maps and actually completed 2 of the new fights, so there is that.

I am excited to yet again dive into a new Path of Exile league, and Delirium is looking to be something amazing. It releases on March 13th, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Hope to see you there Exiles!

TN’s Indie Impressions (EA) – UnderMine

The peasants are digging deeply and greedily for their Arcane Corporate Overlords! There are quakes a plenty, dangers untold, and loss of life limb and riches to be had in the depths of the UnderMine.

Is this cute cartoony roguelike worth your time digging into? Find out here!

UnderMine on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/656350/UnderMine/

And always remember…STAY NERDY!

This Indie Impressions video is also now available in Podcast / Audio form! See the links below to listen and subscribe!

TN’s Indie Impressions (EA) – Hades

Time for another Early Access game, and this time I look to tackle Supergiant Game’s latest entry into the world of Roguelikes: Hades. Steeped in Greek Mythology with some unique spins on classical characters, how does Hades hold up in the world of Early Access? Does it need to cook longer in the fires of the Phlegethon or is it worth paying the boatman to cross the river Styx and play? Lets find out together!
And always remember…STAY NERDY!
This Indie Impressions video is also now available in Podcast / Audio form! See the links below to listen and subscribe!

Magic the Gathering Legends: Game Informer Trailer Breakdown & Rampant Speculation!

Today 1/9/2020 Game Informer released a 10 minute Gameplay Trailer showing 2 of the 5 classes for Magic the Gathering Legends, along with 2 of the Planes we will be travelling in this upcoming Free to Play ARPG coming from Cryptic Studios.  Game Informer in fact will doing a full month of coverage for January!

When this game was announced I was super interested.  We havent had a game set in the MTG universe since Shandalar, which was released back in April 1997 for Windows 95.  That game by the way was an open world RPG where you built a deck of cards and beat up wizards who represented the 5 colors of magic.

Since then the only digital games for MTG have been card games (MTGO, MTG Arena, the Planeswalker Duel games, ect) but an ARPG set in the plane of Dominara?  That had my interest from the moment I found out about it.  Since then I have learned its being described as a “Deck Builder Action RPG” which is…odd to say the least.  But I am willing to try it.

So, lets have some fun and using both the official MTG Legends Website and the Game Informer Gameplay Trailer generate some wild speculation about whats coming and how things are going to play out.  First, lets link the Trailer Article and the Game Informer Hub for Legends.  I am going to do this bullet point style for what I notice.

  • Early on you can see two mana types on the bottom, white and blue, filling up under the healthbar. The LB and RB hold some sort of abilities. Controller based control scheme.
  • UI is super clean right now, easy to read and understand. I like it.
  • The lower right has 4 action buttons, some of which are summons, some are abilities, seems like the spells change. Deck based.
  • There is a small icon below the 4 buttons that seem to be your next “card” from your deck. Not sure how “random” drawing is gonna feel
  • Deck is 12 cards, you “draw” from your deck and use the card mapped to your buttons
  • Decks are separate from your class, and you can mix and match spells (so you can do Red / Green / White maybe?  All 5 colors?  Will there be Artifact / Colorless I wonder)
  • Looks like there is some sort of auto attack as the base pulse the mind mage is using is NOT draining his mana NOR rotating a card
  • Class might dictate your auto attack and your escape ability. Unless everyone has that magic pulse….
  • Every class has an escape ability. The mind mage makes a doppleganger (Classic blue trick). That seems to be LB, not sure what RB is. Self Buff based on class?
  • There is an AI Director that will make things harder / challenging on the fly?!
  • There is some sort of “mana” pickup. Is that for the character

Now that we have discussed the trailer and what is shown there, lets discuss the website itself which has some choice tidbits!  Also, they are doing alpha/beta signups on there so you might want to consider jumping in.  I did the second day it was available.

Now there is not too much on the website that bears discussion….except we have 5 symbols representing the 5 Mage Classes and a number of slides that show potential areas we will be exploring!

Two of the symbols have already been revealed: That of the Mind Mage, and the Geomancer.  Now MTG has 5 colors (Blue, Red, Green, Black, and White) each one representing a style of magic. Blue, for example, is all about control and manipulation.  Red is all about direct damage and speed.  Green is about growth, big creatures, and buffs.  Black is about life manipulation, undeath, and risk/reward.  White is about life, protection, and defense.

The Mind Mage, based on both the color scheme and the themes listed on the website is very clearly the Blue Mage of the team.  The Geomancer is clearly the Red Mage (again, colors and themes).  But what about the other three symbols?

Well the first symbol is a Skull.  That screams Black, and most likely is a Necromancer typed mage.  I am going to suggest they deal with draining life, and maybe even raising an army of expendable minions.  Most ARPGs have a minion master archtype anyway, and Black fits that bill.

The next symbol is a beastial one, with horns and a muzzle.  That screams Green to me, and given what I am seeing with the others is prolly going to be our Druid type.  Nature spells, some buffs, and most likely shape shifting into wild creatures.

Finally, we have a pair of angelic wings.  Thats a white mage, no bones about it.  My guess is this will be the class comps healer, with some buffs, defensive spells, and probebly holy magic.

Obviously I could be way off here but we got 5 classes, 5 colors.  It makes sense especially given what I personally know of MTG (I played from about 1993 and 4th Ed up through about 2007ish).  It could be that the spells each class gets access to base wise represent those “archetypes” but with both a class AND deck going on I wonder just how much one will affect the other.

Now the potential areas are interesting as well.  SO far, we have Shiv and Benalia.  Shiv is traditional associated with Red magic, so my guess is that will be a red magic themed area.  Benalia however has always had a close association with White mages (Benalish hero is a very old white creature card, for example).  And wouldnt ya know it, but there are 3 more areas….and 3 colors that are not represented!

My guess is Phyrexia or Urbog will cover the Black one.  Most likely Phyrexia as that I believe is part of the Dominaria sphere.  I cannot however recall what areas would be associated with Blue or Green off hand, but clearly we are going to have Black, Green, and Blue regions in addition to Red and White.

Overall I am very excited about this game, and while Cryptic themselves has a bit of a reputation among MMO players, I am pretty sure that being involved with a license as large as Magic the Gathering and Wizards of the Coast will help keep things on an even keel.

There are no confirmed alpha, beta, or release dates at this time for Magic the Gathering Legends.  I for one an eagerly awaiting it!

Path of Exile: Conquerors of the Atlas is changing the End Game (For the Better)

It’s been a bit since I spoke or wrote about Path of Exile. On my podcast I am going to go into the concept of Conquerors briefly, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss what it’s doing, and how big of a deal this is (At least to me) and what this potentially might mean for casual players like me.

First, let’s show off the official trailer:

Now, when I first saw this I was confused as to how this would interact with the current endgame Map / Atlas system. Right now, when you finish Act 10 you meet up with Zana, who asks for your help mapping out the Atlas of Worlds, finding the Shaper of Worlds and the Elder. The big eventual goal of the game (if you are good enough to manage it) is to face the Uber Elder fight, where you fight Shaper and Elder at the same time. Only the best players tend to make it this far, as it requires a massive amount of grinding. Hell, even facing Shaper alone requires a ton, as he sits in the dead center of the Atlas, and its RNG gated to a point on getting to him (Dependent on map drops and trading maps). Elder is a little easier as there are white, yellow, and red versions of him you can do.

Sadly, I have never personally faced either. I have managed to get to Red maps a few times, but my RNG is always poor when it comes to Elder spawns and map drops, and I am too busy to ever grind out to face these foes.

However, with the upcoming Conquerors of the Atlas expansion all of this is changing, in a very massive way. And this is not the first time Grinding Gear Games has done something like this. Originally, the Maps ended with JUST the Shaper fight. Then, in War of the Atlas they ADDED Elder and the entire end storyline changed to reflect it.

But now?

Now Elder and Shaper are going away (mostly). You will still be able to face these foes if you so desire, but they are no longer the focus. In fact, the timeline has, in effect, advanced.

Turns out, if you watch that trailer, that our “exiles” have sorta kinda gone mad from diving into the Atlas in search of loot and power. 5 Exiles specifically (which apparently will be built to copy meta builds from POE’s history) got so power mad and corrupted that Zana collapsed the Atlas of Worlds and trapped them inside. This was AFTER they helped her defeat both the Shaper and Elder.

And now they have found a way out, and they want revenge.

You can see in this forum post the exact changes coming but its a lot.

The High Points:

  • We no longer start in one of the corners, but the center.
  • The Atlas is divided into 8 Regions
  • All maps in a region will be the same tier at all times
  • By defeating a Conqueror we will get a Watchstone
  • Conquerors will appear in Strongholds in a region as part of the progression
  • Socketing a Watchstone in a region will increase the tier of ALL maps in that region up to max tier
  • Socketing a Watchstone will ALSO reveal more maps
  • We can repeatedly kill Conquerors for their Watchstones to upgrade all 8 regions
  • Sextants will now apply to a Watchstone, and effect the WHOLE REGION and not a radius

These are huge deals. The fact that as a casual player I might actually encounter a Conqueror early on means I can experience the boss fights that are a big part of endgame. Further, having ALL maps upgraded means if you got a few favs you can just focus on those without feeling like you are not progressing far.

The sextants change is also great. I also had issues making the most of em as a casual player, because my map pool was always thin. Having them apply to an entire group of maps makes it much easier while still allow for customization of the endgame experience.

Also I love the fact that our loot hungry exiles repeatedly doing Maps is now the canon reason we have gone mad with power and our new exiles have to go take em down. The timeline will obviously make more sense come Path of Exile 2, which advances the overall timeline by 20 years.

I am very much excited about these changes, and the new league accompanying them (Metamorph), and am looking forward to the update which goes live on 12/13/19 (both Conquerors and Metamorph)

TN’s Indie Impressions – Sparklite

Full disclosure, I got a key for this from Evolved PR. Additionally, I had been waiting for Sparklite to come out since I saw early GIFs on it on /r/indiegaming.

Sparklite is an Action RPG Roguelike created by Red Blue games, and published by Merge Games. In this you play a young mechanic named Ada, accompanied by a robo friend as you try to help save the world by defeating the 5 Titans of Industry and their evil Baron. Was this game worth my hype leading up to it? Well, lets find out.

Sparklite on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/943140/Sparklite/
Sparklite on Switch: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/sparklite-switch/

Also thanks to Evolve PR, I was able to ask the Developers of Sparklite a few questions.  Here are my questions their responses:

Me: What are some features you wish you could have added to it that you did not have time for?

Red Blue Games: I love this question. Cutting features is one of the hardest things to do. We had a cool NPC planned that would send you a photo of a location in the world with hidden buried treasure. You’d have to match that photo with where it is in the game world to find the treasure. There are so many little things like that. As for major features, we had second phases for bosses planned but did the first phase first and realized that it would just take too much time to put in a second phase for everyone

Me: What are some features that were added that you did not expect to originally implement?

Red Blue Games: The coolest example of this is the robot companion’s role. Originally all of the gadgets were controlled by Ada. But one of our level designers suggested that some of those things could be done by the robot. We had our artist Rafael do some mockups and it was just so cool to see the robot with his own set of tools to use. So we were able to fairly cleanly repurpose some gadgets as Wingut gadgets which also gave the second player a lot more to do than we originally expected.

Me: Any plans for post-launch support in the way of DLC or Free updates?

Red Blue Games: We’d love to shoot for a content patch soon, but it largely depends on the reception of the game. In the meantime, we’re hanging tight during launch to see if we need to address any hotfixes or UX improvements for things that our players might find unintuitive, but over the course of development, we’ve had a lot of ideas for features that would make for great content updates, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to make them happen.

Me: What games did you draw inspiration from for this title? Visually, mechanically, or thematically?

Red Blue Games: Visually: SNES games in general were a huge inspiration. One of our early artists quotes Secret of Mana as his favorite game and people say they get a ton of those vibes from our art. But we also didn’t want to be totally retro so we break plenty of rules regarding our color palettes, particle effects, and even motion blur on the camera.

Mechanically: Well Bastion was a big influence for top-down combat, though we decided not to do any z-targeting. SNES gameplay was great at the time and still has its place but we didn’t draw a ton from those on gameplay mechanics since we wanted to feel more modern.
Thematically: Well Zelda has to be mentioned at some point in this list. The themes of adventure, exploration, and the whimsical tone all are inspired by Zelda. But the game world itself is worth its own explanation too. We wanted the world of Geodia to also serve as a commentary on real life that would help shape people’s opinions. Maybe that comes from pressures from our family to be doctors instead of gamedevs haha. But we do hope that some of the celebration of science and caution against greed will resonate with players.
Me: What is your favorite creature or boss in the game and why?
Red Blue Games: My favorite boss is Timbert, who’s the Boss in the forest. He was the first we developed and he just set a great bar for the other bosses. I think his gameplay is solid and I love his personality – he’s so mad at his machine malfunctioning!
Me: How long do you expect a normal playthrough to take?
Red Blue Games: We’re getting reports of 12-15 hours or so, and we expect that to vary some based on player skill level. We have additional content for completionists that should take longer than that (getting all of the Beats, for example), and we’d like to do more to highlight the completionist aspects of the game in the future.

TN’s Indie Impressions – Timespinner

Lets go back in time. Back to an era of fantastic pixel artwork, rocking soundtracks, and action platforming goodness. No I am not talking about Castlevania Symphony of the Night, but rather a clear homage to such a great game, and in itself a fantastic experience. That game, is Timespinnner.
And always remember…STAY NERDY!

TN’s Indie Impressions – Greedfall

A bit of Poison on my blade…and GO! Get used to hearing stuff like that as you explore a hostile island full of natives who call it home, and try to improve relations with them while your country and two other countries basically treat them like dirt.

Welcome to Greedfall. Tis an unhappy, violent place, and reminds me very much of Dragon Age Inquisition. Which is a better game, not that this one is bad or anything honestly.

Greedfall on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/606880/GreedFall/

TN’s Indie Impressions – Moonlighter

A cute little game where you run a shop while also delving into horrible dungeons full of horrible monsters in search of loot to sell at said shop.

No I am not talking about Recettear, but rather the indie game Moonlighter, the focus of Episode 11 of Indie Impressions!  Will I be able to amasses massive piles of gold while also being a hero? Maybe!

Buy Moonlighter on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/606150/Moonlighter/