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Game Review: “Axiom Verge”

Posted on: April 19th, 2017 by Obey

In this post, I will review the Steam platformer “Axiom Verge”, which is regularly priced at $19.99 on Steam, and has overwhelmingly positive reviews. That price might be high for a platformer, but the game delivers if you crave games that remind you of Super Metroid.

A Worthy Successor to the Genre of Metroidvania Roguelikes

For a one-man game development studio, Axiom Verge is quite frankly an awesome game, delivering a fun action game with as much as polish (and perhaps a better soundtrack!) as its ancestors, Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. “Metroidvanias” are side-scrolling action games (“platformers”) with an emphasis on exploring a map, gaining items to increase combat and maneuvering ability in order to access new parts of the map, and lots of secrets waiting to be found.

AV 1

In Axiom Verge, you control a scientist who somehow appears on an alien planet, where an alien voice telepathically calls you for help. You’ll search for a dozens of guns that have specific strengths to take down certain enemies, unlock doors, or grapple across the map. There are a few powerups to be found, as well as notes that give clues about your current situation as well as the aliens you’re allied with (some of which are in languages that must be deciphered).

AV 2

A simple, classic formula, but Axiom Verge delivers with a nostalgic retro twist in several ways. Not only do the graphics and sound remind the user of classic platformers, but the creator uses glitches as an intentional animation method. You carry a secondary weapon that is essentially a glitch gun which you can use to change the behavior of many enemies. Walls that have the occasional glitch blink to give you hints as to how to move forward. Later abilities allow you to glitch (or teleport) around or through certain objects.

AV 5

What’s more, the game’s map has several “glitch worlds” which you can only find if you happen to venture near a randomly-placed entrance, when you might find the game’s graphics change subtly.

AV 4

The game is about the same difficulty as the metroidvanias I mentioned above, taking about 10-12 hours to complete. The designer added several features for replayability: a time attack mode, achievements for acquiring all of the items–or beating the game without getting too many items. Also, not all of the weapons in the glitch worlds can be earned in a single playthrough.

AV 3

Finally, the game’s story can be a bit of a mindfuck; without spoiling the ending, I can say that you’ll be led to wonder who your allies are.


[N] Obey

Game Review: “Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale”

Posted on: April 19th, 2017 by Obey

For this post, I review the animated action game, “Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale”. It has overwhelmingly positive reviews, and is normally priced at $19.99 on Steam–a price that I think is fair, but worth waiting for a sale.

A Cutesy Anime Roguelike with an Item Shop Sim

Recettear is an animated action game where you delve through dungeons, and then sell your loot in your very own item store!

Rece 3

The title of the game, Recettear, is a combination of its two main characters: Recette, a short girl who has been living by herself since her Papa left on a quest, and Tear, a fairy who works for a credit company that has alarmed Recette with her father’s substantial debt. In order to pay off the debt, Tear tasks Recette with using her father’s house as an item store to serve the various townfolk. Your task is to earn enough profit to make the substantial payments to pay the debt off in only five weeks.

Meanwhile, adventurers are drawn to the town to search for loot in the nearby dungeons. Girl and fairy recruit and accompany these adventurers, whom you control, as they fight their way through randomized levels and decide which loot is worth carrying out of the dungeon. You will need to choose between items that are profitable, which can be combined into better items, and items that will improve the adventurer’s combat skill and/or survival.

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In this game, you will spend most of your time doing four things: shopping for items to buy, opening your shop to sell items, adventuring in the dungeon to earn free items, and encountering the occasional story bit. You can buy items at the market or guild hall at a wholesaler’s price, so that you’ll usually profit when you then sell the items, but timing is important as some kinds of items, such as weapons or candy, can go temporarily up or down in price due to special events. You can also redecorate your store with different walls or counters, vending machines, and other objects that will affect what your customers will desire when they stop by to shop.

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You’ll place items for sale onto a limited number of sales counters in your store, with the ones by the window always attracting more customer attention than the others. When you open your shop, a group of customers files in, provoking a series of sales encounters. Each sale (or purchase, or placement of a order for future pickup) is a haggle, so you must judge how much to charge each customer. Succeeding in strings of successful sales encounters increases your Merchant Level, which grants you various special abilities in the game, such as moving your sales counters or carrying more items out of the dungeon.

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The adventuring bit is straightforward: Choose an adventurer to recruit, consider items to bring along to assist said character, then choose a five-level dungeon portion to begin your excursion. Every fifth level is a boss fight, after which you can leave the dungeon with your items, or possibly venture deeper into the next set of five levels. These levels are of the “magic dungeon” variety, with randomized dungeon layouts, monster placement, treasure, plenty of traps, and other encounters. Dungeons carry plenty of randomness and risk, and you’re going in solo, so leveling the adventurer and getting good at attacking and evading enemies is required. These dungeon trips can take from ten minutes to perhaps an hour, so Recettear is a good game to play in short periods of time, and you can restore to the last save if you fail to acquire much of value or get knocked out.

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You only have a week to make each payment, and you need time to buy items, to adventure, and to open your shop, so you’ll want to restore to previous saves occasionally. Despite the cutesy anime, the payment goals are a little tough and the combat will challenge you at times, so you’ll feel the pressure as the deadline gets close; oftentimes a fortunate sale of a valuable item will help you succeed (but you’ll wish you could have given it to that one character…).

Games by Carpe Fulgur are usually cutesy and simple, but tend to get as difficult as Dark Souls (or an old-school Nintendo action game) toward the end. Recettear is not as difficult as their other titles; although you will be challenged at times, the game isn’t as frustratingly difficult.

Audience Note: This game is okay for virtually any audience. Except for references to drinking, there isn’t hardly anything that could be construed as offensive or gory. It can be challenging for ten-year-olds, but saving into a different save slot will allow the player to go back in time and make better decisions.

Accessibility Note: I completed the game with a wireless keyboard, even though it is probably ideal for a keypad. Launching the game allows you to choose a configuration menu where you can assign buttons before you begin.

One Last Thing: Once you beat the game, you can continue on in an “Endless Mode” as long as you wish. There are also multiple Survival Modes where you play a harder version of the game, just trying to keep the shop open as long as you can before the eventual debt forecloses on you!

[N] Obey

A Sneak Peek of the Pyro Update

Posted on: March 5th, 2017 by Obey

Look! Actual TF2 news…!

Oh, here’s a couple of tidbits before the actual Sneak Peek:

  • Login to the TF2 Newbs’ Forums and let us know what you’re playing lately, or read up {N} Olse’s ongoing XCOM 2 narrative.
  • This TF2Newbs Blog surpassed 300,000 lifetime hits earlier this year! Thanks for the scratches!
  • If you’re a TF2 noob, read this popular FAQ about all the different TF2 items. This post alone has earned over 28,000 hits.

Valve has been making the rounds in the media, dropping hints on what they’re working on in TF2. You can read Game Revloution’s short piece here, but here are the highlights:




Pyro Rebalance

Valve is currently busy with rebalancing the Pyro. It’s not clear if there are any new weapons, but you can be sure that some existing weapons are being tweaked, and so Valve is testing how such changes could affect they Pyro’s role and the game environment as a whole.


Contract Campaigns Will Return

Heavy Contract

Feedback that Valve has received demands more player choice in what kind of contracts to complete during these campaigns, so Valve is learned toward a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style of contract selection and completion. So it’ll feel more like a mini-quest? A skill tree? A treasure hunt? Eh, we’ll see. Hopefully this means you won’t be playing anything but stock Sniper because you have a contract that demands headshot kills.


Elo is Coming

The Electric Light Orchestra? No, the Elo rating system.


Valve has been working on an (assumably Valve-made) rating system improvement over the play-to-win Rank system in TF2′s Competitive Mode. Elo is shorthand for saying that your overall win-loss record and/or your recent record of play will define an estimate of your playing skill, but only for the use of ranking you against other players in order to find players of (hopefully) similar skill to play against. Plenty of other gaming communities use it.


You see, TF2 has long been home of the casual, tryhard-but-not-elite gamer that can usually find a server to enjoy the game without being constantly steamrolled by gaming elites. (Well, that has been the goal anyway.) Valve is trying to bridge those elites back into TF2 with a more familiar Competitive Mode, links to following other elite gamers, and ranking systems, while also giving us tryhards tools to be, you know, more competitive. Where before they were trying to cater to two different groups, they’ve realized that we’re one community with members of many different skill levels.


Welcome to the Jungle

As I’ve said previously, Valve has been working for months on jungle-themed terrain models in preparation for a new Valve-made map. Of course, community-designed cosmetics have been requested by Valve for some time now. Don’t forget to jump into the Steam Workshop and have some say in what virtual cosmetics you can buy in the near future.


Gee, wouldn’t a jungle theme fit in great with a Summer Sale?


Steam Greenlight to be Reworked as “Steam Direct”

Later in the same interview, Valve discussed the bottleneck of indie games trying to get published on Steam. Valve intends to greatly simplify the process by passing a simpler validation process, rather than having gamers bother to rank a few of the many games they would like to see supported by Steam. That includes improving the Discovery Queue to target the user with games they would like based on their preferences, browsing, and other gathered data.


Anyway, expect Valve to put up a blogpost announcing changes–it has promised to communicate much more and gather feedback, rather than simply posting the day before a major update. (Again, Valve Time, but we’ll see.)  Valve has said officially that there are five coders assigned to TF2, part of a team of sixteen Valve members currently involved.

More sources/reading material:


[N] Obey

P.S. Don’t be surprised if TF2 updates to the Source 2 engine a couple of years from now. That’s the gaming software that Valve is trying to get their entire staff working with.

P.P.S. Valve is one company, made up of many employees. It’s singular, not plural. The journalistic community has changed their minds and started referring to companies and groups as a plural noun and not the correct, singular noun. Dudes, use the singular noun. If you make me say “Valve are” or “Valve have”, then I’MMA FIGHT YOU.  (This postscript has been approved by Saxton Hale.)


Steam Update, Jan 19, 2017

Posted on: January 19th, 2017 by Obey

Not a lot of news with TF2 since the smallish Christmas Update and the Winter Steam Sale. The January 16 patch had a few very minor fixes. A Steam Update today had a few changes as well.


Steam Update

This isn’t the complete update notes for the client, but I’d like to draw attention to a few things you may have missed:

  • You can now reassign where your saved games are stored, by changing the default pathing under the Properties > Local Files menu.
    • Some third-party games like Terraria have been stored in your Documents > Saved Games folder under your Windows User account, while the rest were stored within the individual game folders of your Steamapps folder. Now you can manipulate them all into a single location if you wish.


  • Added support for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Generic X-Input (third-party Xbox style) controllers.
    • Note that individual controllers are not recognized at this time, so any controller can be set up to any saved custom settings.


  • You can now assign a trackpad to function as a single large button. Need another button to bind the cycling of your Vaccinator’s resistance type? Slap it onto your trackpad.


  • Added support for some third-party PS4 controllers by certain brands.
  • Fixed a bug where PS4 triggers had a “hair trigger” by being scaled incorrectly, so that they hit their max value too soon.


Comics #6 is out

In case you missed it, the crazy TF2 story continues in comic book format! In this issue, did the Medic die? And will it tell us the story reasons how respawning works? You’ll have to read to find out!


[N] Obey

TF2 Smissmiss 2016!

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by Obey

By the way, 2fort servers #04 (and sometimes #05 and #18) have been regularly starting up most evenings, usually around 6PM EST/3 PM PST, and are active for a few hours. If you’re looking for some 2Fort action without hackers or grossly unbalanced teams, just type “connect” into your console; no password required.

Meanwhile, the ever-expanding adventures of the Newbs’ XCOM 2 saga can be found on our forums. Read up while you’re powering through all that fruitcake.

Speaking of fruitcake, server admin Packhead is streaming free Christmas music! Find that link on our forums as well.

Winter 2016

The short version of the latest Holiday Update:

  • The Steam Winter Holiday Sale started today!
  • No new contracts, maps, or weapons this season. Definitely a simpler update this holiday season.
  • Logging in to TF2 during this event scores you a Gift-Stuffed Stocking tool item.
    • If used, it contains 2-3 random weapons, paint can, name tag, description tag, backpack expander, giftapult, and occasionally other random items such as cosmetics. These items are untradeable.
  • The keyless Winter 2016 Cosmetic Crate drops new community-made cosmetics.
    • Instead of buying a key and dropping/buying a crate, you just buy the unlocked crate.
    • Crates don’t expire, but they can only be bought for a short time.
    • Crates have a chance of also dropping a Festivizer tool that makes an item festive.
    • Festivizers now work on more items.


  • Mann Co. Store is having a 20%-75% off sale, highlighting tools and cosmetics.
    • Sale now thru January 11th.
    • Valve Winter Sale hasn’t started… yet.
  • Matchmaking changes (see below)



Matchmaking Changes

At the end of a Comp or Casual match, the following happens:

  1. Players are automatically formed into a rematch with the same teams of players.
  2. Server then prompts map vote of current map or two others, based on searched maps of player prior to match.

Casual now has a new, voluntary version of the old autobalance system. During a match, you may be prompted to switch sides if teams become unbalanced because of players leaving games. If you volunteer, you will earn bonus XP during the match; you are not required to switch, and no one will be forced to switch sides.

Also, you can now set a maximum accepting ping for Comp or Casual matches but selecting the gear icon in the Matchmaking lobby.


Full Patch Notes: Dec 21, 2016

As always, full patch notes courtesy of the excellent Official TF2 Wiki.

  • All players who play TF2 during the event will receive a Stuffed Stocking as a gift! Stockings contain goodies for good little Mercenaries.
  • Added the limited-time key-less Winter 2016 Cosmetic Case to the Mann Co. Store
  • Added 3 new taunts to the Mann Co. Store
  • New weapons for the Festivizer!
  • Mann Co. Store winter sale!
    • Look for 20%-75% off selected unlocked cosmetic crates, taunts, and tools in the Mann Co. Store through January 11th, 2017
  • Matchmaking Improvements
    • At the end of a Casual match, players are automatically formed into a new match with the same players and teams
      • Players get to vote on which map the new match will take place on
        • There are 3 maps to vote on, chosen based on the maps everyone in the match had selected when they began searching for a match. The current map is always the first option.
      • This replaces the Rematch system
    • Players can now set their maximum acceptable ping by clicking the new gear icon in the top right of the Casual and Competitive matchmaking lobby screens and choosing “Ping Settings”
  • New autobalance system to help with balancing teams when players leave a match. The system will ask players to volunteer to switch teams.
    • Automatically enabled for all Casual match servers
      • Players who switch will be able to earn bonus XP as a reward
    • Community servers can enable this new feature by using “mp_autoteambalance 2″


  • Fixed security issue reported by Justin G. (sigsegv) and Linus S. (PistonMiner)
  • Fixed not clearing the teleport condition for players who have their teleport interrupted before the teleport is complete
  • Fixed PASS Time exploit related to bonus points
  • Updated mat_monitorgamma so it can be adjusted in Competitive mode
  • Fixed the ShouldPreserveSquad flag not being parsed correctly in Mann vs. Machine mode
  • Fixed a bug related to bot Engineers and teleporters in Mann vs. Machine mode
  • Fixed not being able to transfer Strange stats between versions of Jarate and the Sapper
  • Fixed incorrect particle position for Unusual taunt effects when using the Racho Relaxo(sic)
  • Added the ESA Rewind tournament medals
  • Added the Winter Wonderland 2016 community medals
  • Updated the Dalokohs Bar to fix a bug related to the health buff
  • Updated cp_metalworks to fix a texture problem
  • Updated pd_watergate
    • Respawn times will now change depending on which team is in the lead: 8 seconds to leading team, 4 seconds to trailing team
    • Moved the current beer amount to the center of the HUD
    • Added a jump to low spawn route to give respawned players something to do en-route to mid
    • Added a light to illuminate roof-snipers better
    • Adjusted some clipping[N] Obey