Feburary 2020 Reviews – Ace Combat 7, Yooka Layle and the Impossible Lair, and Outer Wilds

Hello. I’m Kinglink and today, we’re going to do a review wrap up for February 2020.

If you’ve been a fan of my channel for long, or at least read my user name, you know I started this channel by reviewing games. Recently I have begun to cover game mechanics more and talking about what really makes a game stand out in its genre or from other games.

At the same time, I still enjoy playing games and reviewing them. Along with my game mechanics videos, I think I’m going to try to make time for a review wrap up, talk about what I’ve played in the last month or two, as well as recommend some games, and tell you which I would avoid.

We have eleven games this time, and the idea should be to go through this relatively fast. This is more the Humble Choice videos than a standard review and it means I can tackle new or old games as I want. It also doesn’t mean I have to fully complete a game to talk about it here.

With that said, let’s get started with a visual novel. Subsurface Circular. I actually had a full review of this game ready, pulled the ripcord at the last moment on it. Subsurface Circular is extremely well written and interesting. It is made by Bithell Games who previously made Thomas Was Alone, Mike Bithell. Thomas Was Alone had an excellent story and with a visual novel, the story will be what matters.

There are some great narrative choices here, and the fact that the player is limited to a single subway car while being a detective is an odd move, but I think much of this game works because of that strange limitation. There are small but solid puzzles, interesting characters, and it kept my attention.

Though at the same time, it is a mostly linear story with a simple choice at the end. I hate giving that spoiler away, but it defines what to expect from this visual novel. I recommend this one.

Side note. I actually did know someone who worked on this game, Tim Borelli, and I’ll also say he’s a fantastic animator, so keep an eye out for whatever he works on.

Next up we have an Epic Game Store title, Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair. This is the sequel to the kickstarted game from 2017 and once again it is from Playtonics. But it’s also a very different game, though I kept calling this Yooka Twooie.

Where the first game was clearly based on Banjo Kazooie, this is actually based on Donkey Kong Country. It’s a strange choice to go to a different genre, but I’ll be honest, I think it worked for Playtonics this time. It’s a far better game, and they have an interesting system where each level has a different version. Unlike most games that will use the same type of conversion for multiple levels, this time there are 20 levels in the game, and there are 20 unique conversions for the levels. So one level might freeze, one level will flood, and so on.

The overworld map though is fantastic, and easily the best part of Yooka Twooie. I could have spent a six-hour game just on that map and probably called it an amazing game. The levels here are particularly good too, and there’s some challenge…

The final level though is brutally hard, and honestly, I have a lot of opinions on that design, however, these shorter reviews don’t really allow that, but they should have divided that level into fourths with the full level for completionists… I mean come on. Overall though I do recommend Yooka Twooie or Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair strongly, even if you didn’t like the first game, honestly I didn’t either and I’m glad to play this one.

Next up Graveyard Keeper, and I recently covered this game while talking about Stardew Valley and My Time at Portia. It’s a really solid game and has a great twist on the farm simulator or life simulator genre with darker humor.

The game is grindy, but that’s what the genre is and I found it kept moving at a pretty brisk pace, so you might have to do some repetitive tasks but you’ll always have a lot of goals in the game to chase at your own pace.

There’s also a lot more story than I expected and I was really impressed with that. I think it’s probably my third favorite out of those games. Both Stardew and Portia beat this one by a decent amount, but I also think it’s well worth playing.

Outer Wilds. Another Epic Game Store Title. Honestly, I don’t want to say too much here, this is guaranteed to be talked about in the next month. It’s an incredible game, with a focus on exploration and it does exploration right.

There are some very minor issues with Outer Wilds but it’s a game you’ll want to play fresh, so I would recommend playing it without seeing any spoilers or anyone discussing the main mechanic of the game. I’m leaving that off here.

At the same time, this game is really solid, and I think it’s deserving of a ton of praise. Though I .will give one caution, it’s an exploration game, there’s no combat, so if you need to have combat… this really isn’t for you. Otherwise, check this one out, and I’ll be back shortly to talk about this.

A small indie game that I played this month was Snake Bus. I heard about it from Writing on Games, and I had to give it a shot. It’s a fun and unique game, that takes the old concept of Snake that everyone has played at some time and revitalized it by adding a third dimension and the concept of public transportation.

Really you’ve seen most of the game already by watching me play. You get passengers you drop them off, there’s a lot of different level designs and unique bus designs, but at the end of the day, it’s Snake Bus

I don’t think there needs to be much more to the concept and you can pick it up for a couple of bucks and enjoy it for hours.

Next up, Punch Club, I randomly chose this game without realizing it’s also made by the guys who made Graveyard Keeper. I’m going to be honest, I just don’t like it. It seems like there’s a lot you can do in Punch Club with a huge story, however, the game does suffer from a very strict training regiment.

I’ve gotten back into working out recently, but the thing is, if you gain muscle and don’t work out for a day, a week, even a month if you’re very sick, you’re not going to lose a ton of muscle. There will be losses but in Punch Club, you lose like half your muscle mass every day. You have to constantly chase certain goals to stay strong in some ways.

The other side and the more important part of the game are that the fighting is not that interesting. You have very little agency over the actual punching part of punch club and instead, you sit around, assign abilities, and hope it works out. Overall though… I found this to be very dull.

Then there’s Ace Combat 7. I forget which Ace Combat was my first, but this is a series that I’ve been a big fan of. The odd thing about this series is it’s always had an anime story along with the pseudo-realistic plane combat.

However, the story in Ace Combat 7 really doesn’t focus on our main character that much and instead, seems unrelated to the actions the player takes for much of the game. Eventually, the main character works into the story, but it’s poorly done. There’s also a huge problem with the story being a hero’s story where the main character is the only one who can do anything of value while flying?

The combat though is really solid and fun and there are some good missions and great battles. It’s better than Ace Combat Assault Horizon, but it’s Ace Combat which means it has a lack of realistic controls and a focus on lining up a shot rather than worrying about flying a plane. It is still fun if you want to try out the series.

Metal Slug. I played the first game of the Metal Slug series and had a good time. It is still a fun and inventive game with a lot to offer. However, this is the second Metal Slug game I’ve played on Steam and it has the same issue the first game I played had. While Metal Slug is very well done. This game was originally designed to swallow quarters.

Now with unlimited quarters in the remake, it loses a lot of what made it special. There are still great moments, but unless you have someone to play it with, or really want to master the game, you’ll beat these games in a couple of hours and move on. Skippable, but also fun to play.

Void Bastards. I just did a video on this one, and I was thrilled to play this game. There’s a lot of solid game design that benefits the player and now the addition of the challenges means there’s a perfect reason to come back and try it again.

It’s not really System Shock, I know people call it that, the same way they call Prey System Shock. That’s a horrible thing to do because it makes people expect something and get something else. With that said, I enjoyed Void Bastards, I think it’s a great entry-level Roguelite and quite welcoming. Definitely worth checking out.

Shovel Knight, so I recently decided to play through this game again as I have wanted to check all the DLC out and now it’s a complete game. Honestly, there’s a ton of value here for forty bucks with at least four games for the price of one because each character plays so differently. The Smash Brothers mode is also a nice touch.

At the same time, I’m probably going to cover this in the next month. The quick version for this video is that it feels a bit like an updated Mega Man game and that’s a great thing. You fight different bosses, collect different powers and so much of the game feels very well designed.

Overall though, I like it, I’ll play more and while I finally ran out of steam on the King of Cards expansion, I had played 35 hours, through 4 different campaigns. This is a great value proposition and I keep picking up the game for a little more time when I need a fast run.

Finally, we come to a game that really disappointed me. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. This is one of the reasons I like this format because I haven’t played the whole game, but Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 got me to stop playing after a couple of hours. It’s just not a very exciting game, and I’m a huge Marvel fan, but this isn’t enough.

A big problem for this game is the absence of Fox properties. No Wolverine, no Deadpool yet Gwenpool, no X-men at all, no Fantastic Four? I mean come on. This is the same problem that Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite had though hardly the only one. After a couple of hours, I just wasn’t loving the story, and I stopped after the second mission. Players really have to buy into the property at the core of a Lego game. In this case, I just couldn’t.

Personally, I liked Lego Jurassic World, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of these games, but this one just didn’t do it for me. I’d say save a few bucks and grab the first Lego Marvel Super Heroes instead if you just had to play a Lego Marvel Super Heroes game.

So that’s my opinion on a bunch of games. We’ll just finish it up with the best and worst of the month.

This month had a few bad games, but the one that I just like the least was Punch Club. It really needed a little more interaction. It had the story and style, but it felt extremely grindy and that happened way too early.

Best of the month, I actually want to give this to Void Bastards, or Ace Combat, but Outer Wilds was just fantastic here, and worthy of praise. It won some awards last year, and I understand why. It’s a prime candidate for the best of this year.

So anything you think I should check out in the next month? Feel free to drop me a comment, and we have the Humble Bundle for March 2020 coming right after this, I’m sure. And then we’ll be talking about the game design once more.

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I’m going to link my new How Stardew Valley Works and How Void Bastards Works. That’s my new format and I think it’s doing well for itself.

Until then I’m Kinglink and I’ll see you next time.