Hello, hello, hello and welcome along to Parcival Plays. This site is a place for a Scottish guy in his 30's to share some of the games he is playing. This will be a variety of older games and more recent titles with most of these being by smaller or indie teams. Please feel free to comment on posts or follow me on Twitter and to drop me an email using the buttons on the right.

For more please check my About page.


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

No Review Again? What's Going On?

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to check in and give you all a bit of an update on the blog, particularly those who are not in the Discord.

Over the past six months I've been posting and building the site and recently was trying to increase my content output.  This along with some ongoing things I'm working through (work, health and family health) means that I've managed to get myself a little bit burned out.

Last week I sat down to write a number of times, and even started a number of articles, but just couldn't get into the usual swing due to everything going on.  As a result I decided not to push out an article I wasn't particularly happy with last week.

This past week I've taken some time to play some games just for the sake of playing and not stressing about whether I'm able to write and article, or it being of a quality I'm happy with.

This is something I've been needing to do for a while and I feel that it has been a really good thing for me personally.  Because I've been taking this time to regroup, I obviously don't have a review ready for this week.

So what's happening from here on to make sure I don't burn out again?  Well, firstly I'm going to be trying not to stress out about the content too much.  This is a hobby and not something I make anything from other than enjoyment, and I intend to keep doing it as long as I am still enjoying it.  From next week I'll be back with the regular weekly content but I'll be trimming back on the supplemental content.  This means that Flashback Friday and Mobile Monday won't be happening, however Discover Indies will stay for now.

What you will see is a bit more of a mix of things in the regular content.  Some weeks I'll be covering current indie games as has been the trend so far, but I will also be mixing in some of the older games and potentially some mobile reviews too.  I'm hoping that this will both relieve some of the strain from myself, and also keep some of the content coming more fresh and varied.

Thanks again to everyone for your views and ongoing support.  Remember that I'm almost always on Discord (even if I'm set to offline I'll probably actually be about) if you want to chat and the community there is growing and becoming more and more active.  Also, please do let me know what you are thinking of the articles, simply by commenting or retweeting the links.  As usual, I'm always looking for feedback and games to try out so please do reach out and let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Thea: The Awakening

A big thanks to MuHa games who very kindly gave me a copy of the game to have a look at this week to coincide with the launch on Nintendo Switch on 1st of February (this article is based on the Steam version).  The game was developed my MuHa and initially released on PC in November 2015 and was ported to Switch by Monster Couch.

Thea: The Awakening is a survival game which combines elements of colony builder, turn-based strategy and tabletop card gaming in a cohesive package.  You will take on the role of a God who will direct their settlers in gathering, exploration, combat and, ultimately, survival.  The game is story rich, with a lot of inspiration from Slavic mythology, and has wide and varied gameplay, allowing for a variety of play styles.

Selecting the God you wish to play as, more become unlocked as you reach
various milestones, increasing replayability
 To begin you will need to select your playable character which will have some overall effects on your settlers.  Initially you have 2 from which to choose, Zorya, dual Goddess of morning and evening stars, who will give and XP boost to your settlers, or Mokosh, the Mother Earth, who will give a boost to the gathering speed of your followers.  As you play as each of these characters you will level up and unlock further bonuses and playable Gods.  You can also select your main focus at this point - will you guide your followers to be great gatherers, warriors or craftspeople?  For the purposes of this article, I decided to play as Zorya and focus on warriors.

When you start the game you are introduced to the world of Thea by a guide called Theodore.  You can then choose whether to work through a fairly comprehensive tutorial, or to just go for it.  Due to the deep and complex systems, particularly with the card based combat, I'd recommend going for the tutorial.  Theodore tells us that Thea has become broken and that the Underworld is closed with undead roaming the Overworld.

Our starting village with party having moved to Theodore's tower
When you enter into the game properly, you are presented with a beautiful game world.  You will see your starting village with a small expedition group just outside the gates.  You can also see that the world is divided into hexes giving away the TBS elements.  In a turn you can do various tasks either with your village or your expedition group.  You can set your villagers to gather and craft items, move your expedition group or set them up into a camp.

Through your exploration of the world, various events will take place.  These can simply be conversations but can include combat and other encounters.  These often have more than one way in which they can be completed depending on the skills available in your party, for example when you encounter a group of wild animals you can try to do a straight combat, but you may able be able to apply some hunting skills to prevent harm to your party.  You also have the option when you have these encounters to play them out manually in the card based play, or you can have the game do the calculations and auto-resolve the encounter.

A card based hunting encounter
These encounters are a fairly complex aspect of the game.  As with most table top games your cards have different stats.  These include your health, any defence bonuses and attack power.  Your deck (made up from the members of your party) is split into an offensive stack and a tactical stack.  Your offensive cards will deal the damage, whilst your tactical cards will allow you to use certain abilities.

In the set-up phase, the player and computer take turns to play their cards, laying these from left to right.  Once both the player and AI skip a turn without placing cards, you move to the attack phase.  In this phase, the play progresses from left to right, with each card attacking the closest enemy, be that to the left or right.  Don't think that by choosing not to play cards they are immune however, as damage will be dealt to cards in the hand and discard pile once cards on the battlefield are defeated.  Any damage incurred during a fight encounter will be carried forward, damage received during an encounter such as a feat of strength will not be carried.

Moving the party to a cell farther than they can reach on this turn
Movement is done simply by selecting your party and right clicking on the cell you wish to travel to.  A yellow border shows the edge of the cells you can travel to in this turn.  You can select a further cell, but you will need to wait until the next turn to reach it.  There are also other options available when you select your party, such camping which allows you to regain health, gathering of resources you can't get at your village, or interacting with an event.

Within the village there are a number of tasks you can undertake.  These include gathering of whatever resources are nearby, crafting of tools, food and equipment and construction of buildings.  To complete these you will need to assign people to the tasks, ensuring that you choose people with the correct skills to optimise the tasks.  As time passes you will also have children in the village who will grow up to provide you with more workers and warriors.  The game also features an extensive research system which allows you to access more resources, crafting recipes and buildings as you earn research points.

As something which I would not normally pick up, this has been really refreshing, although I will admit that it took me a little bit of time and a couple of failed attempts before I really got into the game.  The game is extremely solid and I noticed no issues with performance or any bugs (granted it is a game that is now over 3 years old).  The game is visually pleasing, although it would be nice if the cards had a bit more detail or colour rather than simply appearing as a piece of parchment with a drawing.  The sound is also done very well with an atmospheric soundtrack and well executed SFX.

The game has not only spawned the recent Switch port, but also had 3 free content packs (one of which introduced multiplayer co-op) and has a sequel which entered Early Access on 30th November last year.  Even at full price of £15.99 for Switch and £14.99 on Steam I would not hesitate to say that this is a great game and well worth to money asked.  At the time of writing, however I'd say this is a great time to pick it up as there is a 10% launch discount on Switch (£14.39) and the game is in the Steam Lunar Sale with a massive 60% discount down to £5.99!

If you enjoy my content, please consider becoming a Patron giving you access to exclusive roles and channels in the Discord server.  Also please follow me on Twitter for updates about articles and games I am following.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Pepper's Puzzles - #discoverindies

Discover Indies is an initiative devised by Indie Gamer Chick.  Content creators are urged to play a small indie game without a large media footprint which they have never heard of, and produce content on the first Friday of each month through 2019.  I will be using this as an opportunity to possibly try out some different genres, and games I generally wouldn't normally play.

This month, we are taking a look at Pepper's Puzzles by Emad.  The game released in August of 2017, and even had a recent patch, and features a variety of logic puzzles.  

Pepper guiding us through our first puzzle
The game is split into three game modes: Classic, with over 200 puzzles to test your grey matter; Time Trial, where you need to solve procedurally generated puzzles as fast as possible; and Mosaic, where each puzzle represents a tile in a mosaic.  There is also a level editor bundled with the game, allowing you to make your own puzzles which you can then share to the Steam Workshop, currently with over 60 additional puzzles.

The puzzle of choice for this game is the Nonogram, or Picross, puzzle.  These puzzles hail from Japan, and were invented in the mid-1980s, with the first book of these puzzles being published in 1993, and the first electronic versions a couple of years later.  These puzzles present you with a blank grid and numbers by each row and column.  Using these numbers, you must deduce which squares need to be shaded with the end goal being to reveal a picture.

Puzzle selection menu in Classic Mode
If you are unfamiliar with these puzzles, the games has a really good, in-depth tutorial.  This walks you through 4 increasingly difficult puzzles before letting you solve the fifth on your own.  Then you are unleashed onto the 'meat' of the game.  Unsurprisingly this game isn't going to be a hardcore game, however will eat up your time.  It's very much a case of 'one more puzzle' and it's suddenly 2am!

The puzzles are split into categories, such as warm-up, food, animals, science fiction etc. with each category getting progressively more difficult.  The puzzles in the categories are also listed by difficulty.  There is no 'progression' system however, with all puzzles being unlocked.  This means that if you are a veteran of these games, you can dive in at the deep end to get a challenge, or you can start with the simpler ones an work your way through them if you are less experienced, or just need a quick puzzle fix.  For newer puzzlers, there is also a hint system, however this is only available in the first two categories whilst you are still learning the ropes.

In the process of solving a puzzle
The controls are extremely simple, with a left click marking a cell you wish to colour.  As you fill in the grid, some of the clues become greyed out as you complete them.  This can also allow you to mark cells you know which must be empty by using right click.  If you make a mistake, you simply left click on the call the clear it - very much like minesweeper.

Whilst not something I would usually play, even though I have played them on paper before, I had really enjoyed this game.  It has been a nice change of pace where you challenge yourself in a different way.  The gameplay is solid with no bugs experienced in the couple of hours I've played it recently.  The soundtrack, with over 1 hour of relaxing music, is also wonderful and helps with escaping into the game.

Starting to uncover an image in Mosaic mode by solving puzzles to fill each square
Overall, I cannot fault the game in any way - it has great art, a great difficulty balance and wonderful music.  I have no hesitations recommending this game.  Whilst it won't become your next 500+ hour game, it's a nice addition to your library when you either want something different, or only have a short time available to play.

You can buy Pepper's Puzzles for £4.99 on Steam.

If you enjoy my content, please consider becoming a Patron giving you access to exclusive roles and channels in the Discord server.  Also please follow me on Twitter for updates about articles and games I am following.