Quick-fire September 2021, Part One

Black Book
Developed by Morteshka and published by HypeTrain Digital on the 10th of August 2021, Black Book is available for PC via Steam, Epic Games Store and GOG, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Black Book is a dark RPG Adventure, based on Slavic myths, in which you play as a young sorceress. Fight evil forces in card-based battles and explore the world, where humans live alongside mythological creatures.

Black Book is a story of a sorceress named Vasilisa who seeks power of Black Book to resurrect her significant other. You will be fighting opponents in card-based battles and exploring the world of the late 19th century. It features a complete English voice-over and an enormous amount of story dialogues that feature more than 150,000 words and span over twenty hours of gameplay. There are seven chapters to complete, each with its own narrative that includes multiple side-stories. You will collect cards that are going to be used in a deck-building battle mechanic, and you will recruit demonic entities and use their powers to become stronger. During the game you will also encounter different types of friendly characters, all the way to a talking cat. Black Book’s game mechanics are fun and will make you craving for more, while the lore and writing are consistent and appealing. While extensive, the voice acting could be better in some instances. Nonetheless, the game is very fun to play and it fits into the “choose your own adventure” category. That is what you will do by deciding what to do next in many opportunities. The story is broad and detailed pertaining to the Russian folklore. I recommend it, and it is a must buy for all of you who like deck-building games that include interesting stories.

Crimson Spires
Woodsy Studio’s Crimson Spires was already released on Steam and itch.io on the 27th of October last year, but was brought to the consoles by eastasiasoft on the 11th August 2021. It was made available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. This otome-style visual novel blends eeriness and romance into a compelling drama. A ring of deadly towers traps you in the small mining town of Bataille, Missouri with extreme conspiracy theorists, a serial killer, and wealthy vampires. Choose your partner wisely.

Crimson Spires is a story of isolation, mystery and romance released in a visual novel format. It is developed in UE4 engine and blends the visual novel style with 3D environments. You will follow a story of two missing teenagers, and will search for the truth as Sheriff Erika Wright, a former FBI agent. During your crime solving you will also be able to romance a partner of your choice, and each of your opportunities will reveal unique secrets. Crimson Spires’ script includes more that 250,000 words which are used for four different romances and story paths you will choose. Selected scenes also feature a cast of English voice actors that will make the game even more interesting. The game is made by a two-person development team from Missouri, and it is very well made for such a small studio. It also features an atmospheric dynamic soundtrack by Jenny Gibbons, which fits the game perfectly. The updated console version includes New Game Plus content that unlocks after completing all other story routes. It is a great feature that will extend your experience with added story content. All in all, Crimson Spires is an enjoyable visual novel with great artwork and background music. The voice acting in some scenes is also on-par with the rest of experience you will be indulged in. Replayability options are definitely present, so you will be able to play through it more than once. Recommended.

Fallen Knight
Fallen Knight was developed by FairPlay Studios Co. and published by PQube Limited on the 20th of July 2021. It is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, while also being backwards compatible on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Take the role of an elite knight and battle your way through action-packed levels with intense sword fighting gameplay in this neo-classic side scrolling action platformer. Save the city from a deadly terrorist organisation hell-bent on exposing the truth you were sworn to protect.

Fallen Knight is a side-scrolling hack ‘n slash action platformer in which you battle against old allies and new enemies. It is a futuristic knight’s story in which you take over the control of Lancelot – honourable knight of the round table, or Galahad – an elite assassin. There are different paths you can take as Lancelot, providing multiple endings of the game, while controlling Galahad brings out the rogue-like gameplay, as you will have only one life and will have to restart the game from scratch when failing. Gameplay-wise the game reminds of Mega Man-like games, as it is a right amount of challenging. Fallen Knight features fast-paced sword gameplay filled with tons of action and platforming. There are different play modes available, with Casual mode serving for a more relaxed experience and a bigger emphasis on the story, Normal mode that is offering more challenge, and Boss Rush mode which will unlock after you will complete the main story on any of the previously mentioned difficulties. In Boss Rush you will be fighting all of the game’s bosses back to back which can prove very challenging. Each of the bosses holds their own challenge and different trials for players that will encounter them. The visuals of Fallen Knight are nice and the artwork is well presented, but the game has some problems with animations that go on even after you finish running, which renders in imprecise movement. That is a huge problem when we are dealing with platformers, and that is somewhat disappointing. Discrepant controls are not fun and can cause a lot of frustration for players, which can be a big factor in providing amusement with the game. If you want to try it out anyway, I recommend you buying it on sale.

Jonas Manke’s (Studio Inkyfox) indie adventure Omno got released on the 29th of July 2021. It was published by Future Friends Games on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A Switch port is scheduled for later in the year. It is a single-player journey of discovery through an ancient world of wonders, created by solo developer Jonas Manke.

Omno is the debut project by a former professional animator Jonas Manke, and it was in the making for five years. It is a single-player adventure game that is filled with puzzles, secrets and obstacles to get through. The puzzles are optional and are not required to be solved to be able to progress through the game. The world of Omno is beautiful and inhabited by strange lifeforms. You will encounter atmospheric landscapes that span from jungles to islands in the sky. In them, you will uncover a story of sacrifice and self-discovery while finding the truth behind your pilgrimage. The gameplay includes but is not limited to running, gliding, dashing, surfing and teleporting. There is not combat in Omno, as you will peacefully befriend a variety of mythical creatures. The movement of said creatures is very fluid, and you can see the developer has a lot of experience in animation. The playthrough of it will take you around five hours, but it is a wonderful experience even if a bit on the short side. You will be playing in third person as you will retrace the footsteps of your ancestors. I would recommend Omno to gamers of all ages, as it is a very relaxing experience filled with great visuals and a soundtrack to go with them. The landscapes are a sight to behold and the animals are also drawn very well and are perfectly animated. Get it and get away from the hardships of your everyday life, at least for a few hours.