Tag Archives: Steam

Strikey Sisters Review

Strikey Sisters is a modern day brick breaker by DYA Games. Though this genre has largely been left behind to gaming’s yesteryear, Strikey Sisters does a great job at reminding players why such a simple genre can be so appealing, not to mention addictive.

The goal of each stage in Strikey Sisters is to eliminate every block and enemy on a stage, with the blocks needing to be destroyed first, as their presence allows the enemies to respawn. Once the blocks are dealt with, knock out all the enemies and you’re ready to move on. It’s simple enough in concept, but Strikey Sisters throws enough curveballs to make for quite a challenging experience.

As is often the case with games like this, the players can only move left and right at the bottom of the screen, with one or two players being able to control either of the titular sisters. In order to break the blocks and defeat enemies, the sisters have to repeatedly strike magic balls, which then bounce around the stage dealing damage to enemies and chipping away at the blocks. Each sister has three hit points to start with, which are depleted if they are either hit by an enemy attack, or if they miss their ball and it falls off the stage. Things get all the more hectic with two players, because if both players strike the same ball (something that will be inevitable), then it belongs to both players, meaning if it goes off course, both characters lose a heart.

The pinball-meets-Kirby’s Block Ball set up is a lot of fun, especially with two players, and it’s made all the better by the inclusions of power-ups that mix up the gameplay. You can get bombs that target all on-screen foes, or lasers that will destroy any block or enemy in its path. You can even get an item that slows the balls down so they’re easier to hit and keep track of. The best such power-up, however, is the iron ball which – as its name implies – turns the magic balls into iron, allowing them to plow through enemies and blocks with a single hit for a limited time. Strikey Sisters also features some pretty tough boss battles, who bombard players with repeated attacks, making their stages all the more difficult to complete.

Should you get stuck on a particularly difficult stage, multiple levels usually unlock at once, so you can always move on to something else and come back to a tough stage later. Additional replay value is added to the stages by the inclusions of gems and character cards. A level isn’t fully complete until you grab a gem that will appear from one of the bricks, and manage to collect a card of every enemy type that appears on the stage. To collect a card, just grab the card power-up and throw it at an enemy. These are simple additions, but they do add that little something extra for completionists.

The game is also an aesthetic treat, with graphics that are reminiscent of Saturn Bomberman, music that sounds like a cross between Kirby and Nights Into Dreams, and sound effects that echo Mega Man Legends. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the visuals and audio really make Strikey Sisters feel like a love letter to the Sega Saturn and PSOne.

Indeed, fans of 2D gaming’s final run in the early years of the 32-bit era (before they saw a resurgence this last decade) are probably who Strikey Sisters is geared most for. Though any fan of simple gameplay, steep challenge and replay value can have a good time, especially if they bring a friend along.

 

8.0

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Killing Floor Review

Killing Floor

Killing Floor began its life as an Unreal Tournament mod in 2005, before getting an official release in 2009. Killing Floor is a first-person zombie shooter, and a pretty decent one. It may not bring the same kind of depth to the genre that made the Left 4 Dead games so great, but it does provide some solid fun and suspense.

Killing Floor has two primary modes of play, one of which bares the same name as the game itself, and sees players fighting to survive hordes of zombies, with short breaks in between waves allowing the survivors to purchase weapons and upgrades. The other mode is Objective Mode, which sees players race to meet certain objectives all while fighting off zombies.

It’s simple stuff, with the usual first-person control scheme, but it works. And Killing Floor finds some fun little details that add to the experience, like being able to weld doors shut in order to slow the zombies down, as well as a short list of selectable classes which you can level up by continuously playing as them, which unlocks more features for said classes.

As simple as it is, it can be really fun and suspenseful, with the game being at its best when playing multiplayer, as the team-based setup makes fighting hordes of zombies more manageable. Plus, having different players as different classes playing together means that you each player brings something different to the table. Not to mention some of the boss zombies are just ridiculously difficult when going solo.

The maps featured in the game also add to the game’s creepy, suspenseful atmosphere, with broken down amusement parks and abandoned freight yards serving as good backdrops for the action. There’s even a recreation of Aperture Science from the Portal series as one of the stages, which gets extra points because Portal 2 is one of my favorite games of all time.

Unfortunately, Killing Floor does have some annoying features that can hamper the experience a little. While the visuals of the game look nice, there are some special visual effects that take place at certain times that are intended to give things some cinematic flair, but become a little distracting. For example, the closer you get to death, the darker and blurrier your vision becomes. I suppose that actually makes some sense, and I get what they were going for, but after a certain point you can barely see what’s in front of you, which just makes the situation more difficult. At other times, when you’re taking out several zombies, the game may go into slow-motion, and when some zombies get too close, the camera brings your gun to the front and center of the screen. These aren’t big complaints, but and you can appreciate the effort that went into trying to make it a more cinematic experience, but these visual effects can make things more difficult than they need to be.

You might also find yourself questioning the game’s longevity. Again, if you have multiple people to play with, you might have some good fun, but the gameplay can get pretty repetitious pretty quickly, so if you’re playing solo there’s only so much to see. And even if you are playing with others, I do have to point out that there are better options in this same genre (Killing Floor was released the same year as Left 4 Dead 2, which is a more complete experience). So while Killing Floor may be fun, it doesn’t have a whole lot of replay value.

All in all, Killing Floor is a solid, capable game, if an unspectacular one.  It does have a good balance of fun gameplay and horror elements, but what it has to offer is pretty short-lived, with single player in particular probably only holding your attention for a couple of sessions. Still, fighting zombies with some friends in Aperture labs? Sounds good to me!

 

6.5

Dead Sky Review

Dead Sky

Dead Sky is a top-down zombie shooter game released on Steam by Shoreline Studios in 2013. Though the game shows some polish, its more frustrating elements can prevent it from feeling like anything more than just another zombie shooter.

On the surface, there’s nothing really bad about Dead Sky. It’s a decently fun top-down shooter that provides players with the satisfaction of destroying hordes of zombies with a variety of weapons. The game is probably most notable for its multiplayer modes, which can actually be pretty fun with their mindless simplicity, but the game also features a single-player campaign.

The campaign itself is pretty short, and can probably be completed in a little over an hour, but the game tries to squeeze in some nice variety while it lasts. While most levels see players fighting their way through zombies as they progress through them, other levels work as an endurance test, and have you fighting off waves of zombies for an allotted time, while others work as driving stages. One level even sees you using the chain gun aboard a helicopter, and defeating a set number of zombies (as well as a giant sandworm) from the skies.

It’s a decent campaign, but there are some annoying drawbacks to it. For one, the cinematics are unskippable, and every time you die you have to start a level all over again with no checkpoints (this includes watching the cinematics again).

Other big drawback is that you can only carry one gun at a time. You have a pistol which has unlimited ammo, but once you pick up a shotgun or machine gun, you have to use it or lose it, you can’t even switch back to the pistol. And most of the other weapons don’t have that much ammo, so it almost feels best to just keep the pistol, even if it is a weaker weapon.

Another small quibble is that you don’t automatically reload when you use up a whole clip of a gun. It may seem like a small complaint, but these days it seems like every shooter has your character automatically reload when a clip runs out, so it just feels kind of annoying when you’re being surrounded and run out of ammo, as you often forget you have to manually reload. It may be a small complaint, but combine it with the aforementioned one gun at a time setup, and it gets a little tedious.

All these complaints may sound minor, and in a lot of ways they are. But the sad truth is that Dead Sky, as a whole, just isn’t that spectacular of a game. It provides some good fun (especially multiplayer), but it doesn’t really stand out from any other zombie shooter available on Steam. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing special.

Still, if you just want to see some zombie heads explode, you could do a lot worse.

 

5.0