The Mommy Gamers

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Indie Game

    Book of Travels: First Look

    illustration of farmers relaxing in the field

    Well, well, well, what have we here? Another absolutely gorgeous game? Correct! Book of Travels is a brand new game from Might and Delight, a small studio out of Sweden with a knack for creating art. I’ve been eyeing this game for a few months now and am happy to be able to try it out and give you my two cents at launch! So, let’s dive right in.

    Venture out into a living, breathing fairytale world. Craft a character with its own unique personality and explore the open land however you choose. Set your own goals and shape your adventure alone or with the others you find in this serene online TMORPG (tiny multiplayer online).

    Might and Delight

    What is this game?

    Book of Travels is a multiplayer game but you won’t see as many people as you’re used to like an MMO. Instead, the game focuses on roleplaying and individual playstyles giving you the freedom to craft your own journey in the world. You will run into many randomly occurring events that make your play-through of the game unique and different every session.

    The game takes inspiration from “old-world fairytales, Eastern mythology, and early industrial eras.” There are tons of special secrets, items, and features to unlock as you play. 300+ abilities, magical skills, and passive feats to unlock and master will give you numerous ways to experience the game.

    And of course, this game is a playable piece of art. It has click-to-walk movement like old-school RPGs but with 3D depth.

    A solid first impression

    One early annoyance is that while the game launches from Steam it then launches a launcher for you to press play and then you have to also log in when the game itself launches. While none of this is difficult it’s just more steps in a process that should be more seamless. Hopefully, it’s something that changes in the future.

    Character creation for Book of Travels is an interesting process that felt more akin to creating a character for a tabletop RPG than your usual MMO or modern RPG. You immediately have portions of your character to flesh out on your own, completely freeform, to get you in the right mindset of creating an actual character outside what they look like or what their skills are. It’s a great first step to setting the mood.

    Character Creation screen for Book of Travels - first portion with the explanation of "Form"

    After getting into the game proper, it was interesting to see how the mechanics would work. Visually the game looks 2D until you start moving around into the back and foreground. The transition is so smooth and it absolutely amazes me. Sometimes pathing gets a little odd because of terrain that isn’t actually traversable but you’re never waiting on it long.

    As you might expect, if you’ve ever seen me play a game, I immediately went off into my own direction exploring instead of going where I was told to go. So I haven’t gotten past the first few areas. However, I’ve gotten pretty good and picking out what in the scenery is an interactable item! I did eventually make it onto the path the game wanted me to go down. I talked to every person and pet every animal along the way too. Which made me realize I wanted a space in a journal or something to write notes since there’s already functionality in the game to put your own text in things like background/appearance/etc. it’d be nice to implement something for us to keep notes on our character for what/who we encounter.

    Should You Add Book of Travels to Your Library?

    I had a great introduction to the game and there’s a lot for me to continue uncovering in the hours of gameplay to come. You should definitely head over to Steam and add it to your wishlist/follow it. Give Book of Travels a shot if you enjoy roleplaying games or if you think the art is striking. If you do give it a go, be sure to leave me a comment about your experience! Book of Travels releases October 11, 2021. I will report back once I’ve gotten further into the game, so look for a part two!

    Summer Catchers

    Time for an epic road trip!
    Summer Catchers title screen image, a silhouette of a girl looking out on the beach with sun and seagulls

    Jump in Chu’s wooden car for an adventure in Summer Catchers, a beautiful little game from Noodlecake Studios. Venture from the cold, snowy north down south in pursuit of warmer weather and sandy beaches. The best part is that you can pick your platform of choice: PC (Steam), Mac, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, or Android.

    Since I’ve been without my PC for a while, I requested a copy for the Switch to review (Thank the gods for mobile solutions!). I honestly didn’t have any idea what kind of game to expect, I was just drawn in by how pretty the screenshots were. Sue me, I like pretty games. And after playing several hours of it, I can report I am not at all disappointed!

    Chu from Summer Catchers meets a spectral elk in the forest. Text reads: "You met a beautiful sparkling spirit. What will be your next move?" Choice selections are "Close your eyes, trying to hide yourself" or "Come closer, trying to say hello"

    Pros and Cons

    Obviously, the biggest draw to this game is how gorgeous it is. I mean, look at it! Each of the different segments in the road trip has a different atmosphere and the art never stops being satisfying. The interface is clean and fits in with the style so well.

    The only con I can find to Summer Catchers is the repetitive nature of it. You race through different areas to complete tasks before moving on to the next segment of your journey. I feel this type of gameplay is really good for mobile applications and the Switch is definitely the largest platform I’d want to play something like this on. I’ve found it to be a great game for short spurts (under an hour) when I am just wanting to chill or waiting on something. I imagine it would be really good on a phone as the UI seems designed well for touch input.

    TLDR

    Gorgeous game! Pick up a copy of Summer Catchers on your phone or Switch to make waiting on your next appointment more enjoyable. Be sure to come back and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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    Academia: School Simulator

    Can you make school not suck?
    Art for Academia School Simulator of students in their classroom at their desks, chatting at listening to the lecture.

    Ever wanted to see if you could do a better job running the education system?! Well now you can with Academia: School Simulator! Let’s see if you can make it suck less than your actual high school did. Academia gives you all the tools you’ll need to design, build, and welcome in students, teachers, and staff. You’ll work towards goals to earn grant money and increase the reputation of your school, passing up any rival schools in the rankings (I hope). The game just released on steam so grab it while it’s fresh!

    First Impressions

    If you’ve watched the trailer or seen the game at all you’ll of course get some very familiar vibes from a game called Prison Architect, which is developed by a completely different company but has the same artist Personally, I haven’t played it and have limited experience watching the actual mechanics so I’ll have to leave it at face value. From what I’ve seen, however, I’d say Squeaky Wheel has done a good job of taking the style and making it their own.

    I really like this style of game. I like the art, I like the challenge of it, and overall I had a lot of fun playing it. I’m looking forward to playing a lot more of it and hope they continue adding to it over the months to come.

    Academia School SImulator setup screen

    Gameplay

    At the beginning of the game, you are able to choose all your school’s basic attributes: title, motto, colors, uniforms, principal type, and difficulty level. There is a decent amount of customization to change the gameplay and I started on just normal default to test things out. I didn’t really see a lot of tutorial type pop-ups or guidance but that could have been me not paying close enough attention. As a result, I felt a little thrown into the game ut since it’s not my first time playing a builder game it wasn’t too much of an issue. If you aren’t however it might take you a few minutes to get acquainted with the UI and hotkeys before you feel comfortable.

    Large school map for a build in Academia School Simulator

    In order to make money in the game, you will have to select grants and do the objectives to earn funding. You’ll have more money to start building with if you start on easy mode, which I highly recommend if you’re new to this style of game.

    The first thing you’ll need to do is build an office and hire your principal. There will be 15 students in each class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) so you’ll build 1 classroom for each and hire a teacher for each school subject. Be sure to pay attention to the grants in your list so you know what you should be building/aiming for. Be sure you read everything because that’s where to tips are on how to find things in the UI!

    Check! Done! Woo!

    Do you like that dopamine hit of accomplishing goals and checking things off lists? If so you’ll love this game! Seriously, I was plowing my way through objectives for grants for the few hours I played. It felt gooooooood y’all! Very satisfying. I totally built my school in perhaps the most inefficient way possible but hey, it was still a fun time. Lessons were definitely learned for playing through it next time.

    End of year results for Academia School Simulator

    In addition, there are little scenarios and events that pop up throughout the game that give you a little extra to break things up and add something new. You’ll get an end of the year report to give you stats of how you did in several categories and give you a rank. A lot of information can be found out during the year via the different UI and charts.

    Aesthetics

    I really do like the graphics in this game. Everything is simplistic but nice and clean. Text is easy to read and nothing hurts my brain. There’s even a warning at the title screen which is animated to make it static to avoid dizziness/illness – something I greatly appreciate as someone who’s got pretty sensitive sim sickness.

    Grab yourself a copy!

    Grab yourself a copy on Steam or via my Humble Bundle (Disclaimer: I get a kickback, thanks guys)! Academia: School Simulator on sale for 30% off for the next 5 days!

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    Pode – Nintendo Switch Review

    Catch This Falling Star and Keep it in Your Pocket
    Pode Game Nintendo Switch Review The Mommy Gamers

    In the long line of Nintendo Indie games (adorably named “Nindies”) there are a few really standout games that have been coming out. One such game, Pode, is that about a Star who has fallen out of the sky, and just wants to go back home.

    Our little hero, Glo, has crashed landed and met up with a rock named Bulder. Together the two make quite the pair as they solve puzzles, and embark on a (sometimes emotional) journey.

    Pode Nintendo Switch Game Review Mike Robles

    Pode is, at it’s core, a co-op game. While the game can be played in a single player mode, Pode really benefits from having a partner to play with. Glo and Bulder each have their own characteristics that make Pode unique. Since Glo is a star, they can glide across water no problem where as Bulder, the rock, will sink to the bottom. This is part of what makes Pode so unique as players will enjoy figuring out the right character to use in the right situation.

    Pode Game Screenshot The Mommy Gamers

    What makes Pode stand out is it’s unique presentation. It’s hard to describe without sounding contradictory. Dark, yet colorful. Dim, yet bright. Glo can use their light to shine areas and make the plant life grow. There are some wonderfully animated cutscenes that show the relationship between Glo and Bulder and it’s just.. it’s just the most precious.

    Pode Game Review Nintendo Switch co-op puzzle game

    Pode is a real treat for anyone with a Switch and a friend. I mean… having a friend is a treat anyway. But having a friend you can play Pode with, is the best treat.

    The author was given a retail code for Pode for review purposes

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    Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins – Xbox One Review

    Albert & Otto review Mike Robles The Mommy Gamers

    Limbo and Inside helped usher in a string of Indie games that all centered around the same aesthetic: small child in a creepy environment dealing with monsters and puzzles while being viewed with high contrast colors. I loved Limbo. I loved Inside. Would I love Albert & Otto? The only way to find out was to play it.

    Developed by K Bros Games and published by Digerati Distribution Albert & Otto was originally going to be a four-part narrative. Lack of funding prevented the other episodes from ever being made so they released Episode 1 – The Adventure Begins on PC and eventually Xbox One and Playstation 4. The gang at K Bros Games are hoping this new audience will help fund the rest of the episodes.

    Albert & Otto stars young Albert. A boy set out to search for his sister in 1939 Germany. Right away the atmosphere is unsettling. Cold machinery and metal clanking fill the backgrounds as the wind howls. The sound design in this game really makes you feel small and insignificant in a world ravaged by war.

    Adding to the atmosphere is the contrast in colors. Black, white, and shades of grey fill your screen as Albert makes his way through the world. While venturing you stumble across Otto, a bunny that used to belong to your sister. When you find Otto you gain new abilities like a double-jump. You can also place Otto down to help trigger platforms and solve puzzles.

    To help combat the massive giant crows that attack you, Albert has a gun… because… why not? Honestly I am a little confused about the gun because in a platforming game with puzzles a gun seems out of place. Maybe in future episodes the gun will have a more significant role but for right now it doesn’t do much except kill birds.

    Throughout the game letters from your sister are scattered about and it becomes increasingly clear that something more sinister is happening. Cryptic messages and creepy imagery appear as you progress through the game.

    The controls are decent. Albert’s jumps don’t always make him land where you think he’s going to land. This lead to a lot of missed jumps which was frustrating while trying to defeat a boss. Albert can only take one hit before he dies and you have to start over from the last checkpoint. The difficulty isn’t too bad but the game is pretty repetitive. Puzzles are clever and there are some great moments where you send poor little sheep to their death. No I’m serious, you can light a sheep on fire to use it as a torch. Which I will admit, made me feel like a real jerk.

    Albert & Otto is a welcome addition to the “small-child-in-a-creepy-black-and-white-world-puzzle-plattformer” genre. You just have to get used to the jumping controls.

    *The reviewer was given a copy of Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins for Xbox One

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