For the Week of April 15 – 21

Click here to see the games I played last week

This week’s edition features three 2024 releases. I also got to try both games that are currently available for free through the Epic Game Store. Of the 2024 releases, one will be getting a featured blog post later in the week.

A battle section in Mighty Doom

April 15 – Mighty Doom

Mighty Doom has been on mobile for a while but I never played it when it first came out. There was no particular reason why I didn’t play it. At the same time, there was no reason why I decided now was the time. For now, I’m having fun playing through the different stages.

I’m not too big on the cartoony style. This look reminds me of Gears Pop!, a game I played a lot while I was working at The Coalition. It was a fun game that probably would have fared much better had it not been for the Pop! Figures aesthetics. I bet that sentiment is the same for Mighty Doom. You change the aesthetics to look a bit more “realistic” and it appeals to a much different audience.

After going through a few chapters, and improving my Doom Guy in a couple of aspects (weapons and armor), I can see this being the kind of game I return to every once in a while to waste a few minutes. If as you progress the enemies become more varied and the stages get more elaborate, I can see myself getting obsessed over the ways of winning a battle. At the same time though, I could see this falling the way of many other mobile games and being discontinued at any moment.

Pepper Grinder

April 16 – Pepper Grinder

After following the buzz around Pepper Grinder, I decided to play the demo. Immediately after finishing the first level, I was convinced and decided to buy the game on my Nintendo Switch. I’ve just wrapped up the first world and while the platforming is fun, that first boss battle was annoying.

I ended up dying a few times before I decided to go to the game’s shop and buy the temporary health boosts to help in the fight. But, even with the extra health it still ended up being a fight that I think was a lot harder than it should be.

I don’t know if there is an upgrade path for your character, but I do hope there is one. If it requires collecting the coins that are hidden across each level, then I’m going to be in trouble. From the first few levels, those coins have been hard to find and most are hidden in such a way that you have to stumble upon them. Because the level design naturally has you digging and moving at a steady pace, there are few opportunities to go off the beaten path to discover potential secrets.

Based on what I’ve read, this is a short game (only a couple of hours), so perhaps they want you to go back and play levels again to find those hidden coins. In any case, I’m eager to see what else this game offers, as the gameplay hook is delightful and easy to grasp.

April 17 – DragonHeir

After last week’s failed attempt to play a game on my M3 Macbook Pro, I tried it again and it was successful. This week, I played DragonHeir a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired free-to-play game that looks incredible on the Macbook. It’s not a bad game, just unremarkable.

The biggest problem I’m noticing with many F2P action games is the reliance on auto-play. Astra: Knights of Veda had it, as does DragonHeir. When the game plays for you, it takes away from the fun you’re meant to have. Because of that, the strategic elements in each battle feel unimportant.

DragonHeir is a game that Apple is actively marketing in the App Store. That’s how I learned of it and why I decided to download it. Again, it looks incredible but it’s not going to get people to play games on a MacBook. Apple Arcade lacks a must-play App (in my opinion) and no major releases are slated for the MacBook. I want to play more games on it, but I don’t want only to play older games.

Cutter Slade running in a towards a mountain in Outcast: A New Beginning

April 18 – Outcast: A New Beginning

Two weeks after playing the original Outcast remake, I got a copy of the game for Steam. The game’s start doesn’t shed much light on the hero, Cutter Slade. It’s hard to tell if this is a reboot or a sequel. It doesn’t introduce Slade, so you should understand what happened in the first game. At the same time, there is some unexplained stuff in the beginning that is probably revealed the more you play.

Like the first game, Slade arrives on a mysterious planet and its people believe he’s a savior meant to protect them from a group of invaders. You still need to help solve their problems to get them to help you. I don’t want to go into too much detail with the story because I’m still learning. At the same time, I’m pretty certain there are going to be one or two “plot twists” along the way.

As I managed to get a copy of this game from its PR firm, I’ll do a more in-depth blog piece later in the week as I get more time with the game. For now, I’m a couple of hours in and there is still a lot for me to discover. I enjoyed my time with the remake, and this feels like a better game. It’s not without its quirks but I’m looking forward to playing more and sharing those thoughts soon.

Your character in The Big Con in a clothing store

April 19 – The Big Con

The first of two free games from the Epic Game Store is The Big Con. To be fair, I didn’t get too far into this one as it couldn’t keep my interest for too long. You play as a character who needs to scrounge up almost $100K to help save your mom’s video rental store. The store takes place in the 90s and there are some nice nods to the times.

Unfortunately, the start of the game isn’t that appealing. The mini-game to pickpocket people on the street is fine but that’s all you do. I got to the first section after you leave your hometown. I’m currently wandering a shopping mall, trying to scrap up enough money for a train ticket. But it’s just the same thing again: walk around and try to get enough money to progress. I don’t see myself playing any more of this.

The victory screen in Town of Salem 2

April 20 – Town of Salem 2

The second of the two free games from Epic Game Store is Town of Salem 2. This is more-or-less the game Werewolf/Mafia but played on your PC.

You are added to a room with other random players and then everyone is assigned a role. The role you get dictates your objective and the actions you can perform. If you’re a regular member of the town, you want to avoid getting killed and figuring out who the enemies are. If you’re an enemy, you want to avoid detection while meticulously killing the people in town.

This is fine but there is very little gameplay. In the two matches I played, I did very little. In the first one, I was the executioner but was killed when I was accused of being the serial killer (the executioner is a neutral character who can influence guilty verdicts). For my second match, I was a member of the Coven who could poison people. While my killing was indirect, it was pivotal in my team’s winning that match.

During COVID times, this would have been a perfect remote play game. It’s probably a lot more fun with people you know. With strangers, you’re mostly silent and the lack of interaction makes the matches feel longer than they ought to be.

Harold sitting on his bed from an early section of Harry Halibut

April 21 – Harold Halibut

This week’s notable release is the adventure game, Harry Halibut. I went into this one with very little knowledge except for hearing some of the connections to BioShock. Like the 2007 classic, this takes place in an underwater society. Unlike it though, this doesn’t appear to be dystopian chaos.

This one starts slow. As Harold, I’ve spent most of the game wandering around Fedora 1, doing a few tasks, and interacting with the other citizens. I went for a jog, tried downhill skiing, and now I am trying to find an old rock to examine.

It’s not clear where the story is going to take me. This feels like a game that will slowly reveal its overarching storyline, but you have to invest the time to see it through. Even with the slow pacing, I’m curious to see where the story takes me. It helps that the claymation visuals are impressive and the characters I’ve met so far are interesting.

There are a few new releases I’m interested in trying in the coming days. Eiuydien Chronicles is a game I’ve already downloaded via Game Pass. I’m also super curious to try Sandland, as I’m enjoying the anime. Also, I may try out Tales of Kenzera: Zau. Although EA is publishing that game, it wasn’t developed in-house.

As an EA employee, I’m allowed to play our games, I’m not allowed to profit from them. Since I don’t make any money doing this blog, there shouldn’t be any problems featuring it and other EA games in the future (there are a ton of classic EA games I’d love to try that I missed out on back in the day).