Every December since 2011, The Yogscast have organised the “Jingle Jam”, a collection of streams with an associated bundle with £1100+ of great games to raise money for charity. I’m reviewing all 75+ of them, hopefully finding a few new favourites! Here’s part 1 with the first 30 games.

Rating system

I’ll be using the same rating system as last year, essentially it’s purely how much I personally enjoy the game, not whether it’s good or not. As such, a great game might get a 1/5 if it’s not a genre I enjoy, and vice versa. It’s the only way to give an honest review!

  • 5/5: I had to stop myself playing this game, I’m very likely to replay this later and complete it.
  • 4/5: This was a good experience, but maybe had problems. I’ll likely play it again for a little bit eventually.
  • 3/5: The game was OK. Maybe it was a bit flawed, or just obviously bad game design decisions. I’m unlikely to play it again, but didn’t actively dislike it.
  • 2/5: This was not fun. Maybe it has some positive parts, but overall I didn’t enjoy my time playing.
  • 1/5: The game experience was actively unpleasant. I had to force myself to play more than a few minutes of it, and was relieved when I finally closed the game.

I played most games for at least an hour, but some are pretty small and understood / completed after 15-20 minutes. Information on peak player count are from SteamDB.info.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series: Games 1-30, 31-60, and 61-75+.

5/5 Games


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
85.34% - Store page £12.39 Photograph Cute Creatures June 2021 14 (June 2021)

It’s Pokémon Snap, but remade!

I’m an absolute sucker for these kind of games, where the core gameplay is very chill and straightforward but the occasional minigame adds complexity. Alekon has 2 main gameplay areas:

  1. Photography locations, where you take pictures of cute little creatures in their natural habitat.
  2. The overworld, where you complete challenges for the unlocked characters.

The photography location gameplay is almost identical to Pokémon Snap, even down to throwing rocks donuts! The overworld quests are varied and interesting, with a mixture of reaction minigames, logical minigames, and dialog minigames.

It’s hard to explain why the “simple but engaging” games are so enjoyable, but this definitely hits all the right spots. Small attention to detail bits like automatic photo management and unlimited camera reel gets rid of the annoying bits. For example, if you take a better photo of a creature, it automatically replaces the past photo.

I’ll almost certainly be coming back to 100% this, I’m around 20% through so far!

Progress screen Taking photos Overworld quest

A Short Hike

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
96.52% - Store page £5.79 Chill Cozy Climbing July 2019 229 (September 2021)

This is an absolutely lovely adventure game, and whilst it’s relatively short it has so, so many little bits and pieces hidden for those that like to explore. Essentially you’re a little bird making your way up a mountain, meeting lots of new friends and completing miniquests on the way.

The dialog is well written, with character’s personalities being expressed in just a few messages. It’s usually worth speaking to a character multiple times, since you’ll get extra snippets of dialog or even completely new quests.

I actually already owned this game from a giveaway a year or two ago, and pretty much 100% completed it. As such, I didn’t take play through it all again, instead here’s Yogscast’s Angory Tom playing it a few years ago!

Cat Quest

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
92.12% - Store page £9.99 Cat Combat RPG August 2017 1,651 (September 2019)

Admittedly I was initially interested in Cat Quest due to the cat theme but… the game is great too! Combat is a pretty standard “melee + dodge + spells” affair, with the gameplay flowing very smoothly if using a controller. The ability to “zoom out” and get an overview of the surrounding area was much appreciated, and helped when navigating to off-screen locations.

All the concepts were immediately understandable, with equipment perks always showing nice low numbers (e.g. +2 health instead of +150). Additionally, dungeons warn you beforehand the approximate combat level you should be, allowing the in-dungeon UI to be very minimal, with no combat levels or stats.

Cat Quest didn’t seem to do anything especially new, but it did deliver typical RPG elements in a very polished manner. The writing was minimal, but intelligent and entertaining without being embarrassing. I’ll definitely be coming back to this one after the Jingle Jam to finish it off.

Interestingly, there seems to be a very similar, but better, sequel: Cat Quest II. There’s even a third game coming out next year, unsurprisingly called Cat Quest III!

Dungeon exploring Zoomed out map Equipment

Feed All Monsters

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
89.09% - Store page £3.00 Monster Feeding Puzzling June 2023 35 (June 2023)

What an underrated puzzle game! Feed All Monsters is super easy to understand, then ramps up the complexity over time until you’re squinting at the screen to figure out a solution.

The aim of the game is… feed all the monsters. Obviously. To do this, you have 3 different characters, each of which has a different balance of tiles moved and food distributed. By combining these characters, you must surround every monster with at least enough food to match the number above it’s head.

Whilst the concept is so, so simple, the puzzles are expertly designed. Additionally, the simple UI shows you just enough information to be helpful without overwhelming. I completed the first island (30 puzzles), there’s 5 more islands to work through!

Very cute, very logical, very fun. Interestingly, this is the same developer (DU&I) behind Cats Organized Neatly which is a cute, logical, fun puzzle game that I completed last year. I’m sensing an expertise here!

Solving a puzzle Level select Boss fight

4/5 Games

8-Bit Armies

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
78.86% - Store page £12.79 Blocky Pixel Strategy April 2016 600 (May 2016)

I’m generally not a RTS fan, but this simple and intuitive voxel-based game was instantly understandable and enjoyable. It reminded me a lot of a demo I played endlessly back in the 90s(!) of “WarGames”, due to the very similar methods of building and moving units.

I only played a few of the campaign missions, and they were obviously ramping up in difficulty. Even in the very first non-tutorial mission, the enemy will start scouting your area, testing your defences etc. I didn’t get a good enough feel for the AI’s intelligence, but it definitely seems like it won’t just turtle and wait for you to attack.

However, whilst the gameplay is fun, there are a few odd areas. For example, “supply crates” are scattered all over the map, and opening them seemed to give me 5 troops every time. The tooltip warned they can contain negative rewards, but when the vast majority of my army were free crate troops, it made building up my troop producing capability almost pointless. Seemingly the best tactic is to just scatter infantry everywhere and open boxes!

Whilst on the topic of infantry, during one mission I charged my 20 or so troops at the enemy’s base. They were then almost entirely killed by a supply truck blindly driving through to pick up supplies. Why is a non-controlled resource gatherer unit more powerful than military troops with rocket launchers!? I get vehicles can run over people but… why didn’t my guys shoot? They just lined up and got squished.

This unfortunately isn’t the only issue. The game features a “battle cam” that somewhat randomly provides a cinematic view of a battle. I couldn’t figure out how to make it actually focus on anything useful, and the game crashed at one point whilst using it. Not ideal.

Despite this I still had a good time, and I can easily see it being a decent game to play PVP. 4/5 is probably the highest I can ever rate an RTS!

Combat cam Attacking enemy Map loading screen

Aces & Adventures

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
87.95% - Store page £14.28 Deal Life and Death February 2023 2,455 (February 2023)

This was one of the bundle games people were most excited about, and it’s even published by Yogscast Games! I’ll openly admit that despite playing plenty, I’ve always struggled to enjoy monster card-based games like Hearthstone. However, I’ve absolutely loved games like Sword & Poker waaay back in 2010 on iOS. What makes these games different is they use a regular deck of playing cards as a starting point, instead of a completely new deck of abilities and monsters.

In Aces & Adventures’ case, you take it in turns to play a number card (and potentially an ability or two). Rhe number on a playing card determines how useful it is, as you have to match or beat each other’s number. You’ll also have abilities that require specific cards (e.g. drinking a health potion requires sacrificing 2 heart cards), meaning every turn requires balancing risk vs reward to deal damage whilst still being able to protect yourself.

This is all wrapped up in a rogue-like bundle, with even the story and route planning being told via cards! I really appreciate this dedication to being card-based, and makes the card gameplay feel like the core part of the game, not some sort of minigame.

This is close to a 5/5, however I found myself a bit “lost” due to no overworld map, and an odd “forest clearing” main menu. This also made it a little hard to know why I was fighting things, I seem to have stumbled across half of them whilst they were quietly chilling!

Oh, and everything is voiced. Excellent.

Main menu Duelling Decision making

Cosmo’s Quickstop

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
84.85% - Store page £15.49 Frantic Alien Cleanup August 2021 28 (August 2021)

Cosmo’s Quickstop is very, very frantic, and very, very fun. You’re an alien completing menial tasks for customers to a space gas station, and there’s always tasks to do!

None of these individual tasks are hard (pump some gas, press a button combo, restock the vending machine, clean the toilet, etc), but when there’s 5 things at once that want your attention, prioritisation is tricky. For example, you might be halfway through cleaning the toilets when an asteroid alarm goes off, whilst 2 ships are starting to run out of time. Oh and some other customers need directions.

I found that I was really bad at giving people map instructions (direct their ship to the planet without any asteroids), since they’re located between the docking stations. As I rushed between areas I completely missed them!

The base gameplay is pretty good, and is improved by an upgrade system that lets you make your weak tasks easier, adds new functionality, or even add new utilities entirely. I noticed in a loading screen that the game eventually goes up to 8(!) docks, I was barely managing to handle 4!

Out of morbid curiosity, I found some “speedrun” style videos, and they do a really good job of summarising the frantic madness within the game. The player is running around doing things constantly, and it looks like a planned a speedrun until you realise everything is random, so the player is dynamically adjusting their plans. Watching it, I can’t even keep track of where they are in the space station, let alone what they’re doing.

I can definitely see myself coming back to this game when I need to “fill my brain” up for a bit, and stop thinking about something else. 👽

Upgrades Home Station

Death and Taxes

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
85.48% - Store page £10.99 Grim Reaper’s Office Job February 2020 802 (August 2023)

What if Papers Please turned into a stylised afterlife simulator instead, and removed the time pressure? You’d have Death and Taxes!

Each day, you decide which of today’s candidates will live and die. You’ll have some information about them, as well as demands from your boss. Balancing the two is the tricky bit. For example, your boss might tell you all candidates with a scientific background need to die. Seems simple enough, so long as you ignore your phone’s alerts about some sort of pandemic… it’s just a job, not your problem right?

Between days of work, you can hang out in the bar, purchase clothing and new functionality, talk to your boss to get a paycheck, and try to find out more of the world’s story. I really appreciated how there’s no time pressure, and your decision making is more of a moral or logical question than skill based.

The writing is excellent, with the characters all being distinct whilst relatable. Additionally, the snippets of information about the game’s setting are revealed subtly, instead of long paragraphs of text. I passed my probation week, and will be coming back to find an ending.

Dialog Choosing who will die Office

Eyes in the Dark

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
72.72% - Store page £11.39 Black & White Roguelike July 2022 49 (July 2022)

Who doesn’t love a good roguelike? Eyes in the Dark’s unique black and white style reminds me of Don’t Starve, and is clearly heavily influenced by old silent movies. Very cool.

Whilst the combat starts off simple (jump around, use dodge immunity, fire your flashlight to hurt monsters), it gets more complex with various torch (and slingshot) upgrades. For example, I found aiming accurately tricky whilst bouncing around platforms constantly, so I purchased a “wave” bulb from a shop run by a crow. This fires light in arced pulses instead, letting me focus on movement more.

I managed (just) to kill the first boss, but did the classic “die at the same time” trick so my run ended anyway! Ah well, I’m still counting it as a win. Looking at The Bookshelf (perk shop), there seems to be a pretty deep upgrade system. Even within my short time with it, I tried out multiple bulb types and found 4-5 different enemy types.

I’m not sure how much I’ll play this again, since the unique selling point is also a downside: the visuals. The complete lack of colour or voice acting does leave the game feeling a little flat and lifeless, I’d have loved colour to be used sparingly to highlight enemies or projectiles.

Perks Combat Shop

Glitch Busters: Stuck On You

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
78.55% - Store page £14.38 Glitchy Bug Busting May 2023 48 (May 2023)

There’s 2 ways to interpret Glitch Busters: It’s either a simple platformer / shoot-em-up with solid combat, or it’s got a whole message about trolls? YouTubers? AI? The internet?

I’m going to go for the first interpretation and… I enjoyed it! The shooting is satisfying, the platforming and enemy placement is tricky but achievable, and boss attacks are telegraphed and dodgeable.

The game was clearly designed for 4 players, with some sections adding AI companions to help you out. These are alright, but obviously not as effective as real players, even with simple “come here” and “go away” commands.

Interestingly, you don’t unlock the main hub & training maps until you’ve completed a tutorial mission that takes 10+ minutes. These training missions are a very different vibe, and almost feel like areas for testing the game, before any story or landscape was added. Luckily, the main game itself is fun despite the scattered story and odd magnet / glitch / virus based theme!

Combat Boss Fight Shop

Final Profit: A Shop RPG

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
86.12% - Store page £12.79 Item Shop Tycoon March 2023 34 (March 2023)

I’ll admit I’m kind of burnt out on 2D RPGs. I wasn’t expecting to like Final Profit but… there’s something noticably well designed about it?

Whilst the opening cutscene is pretty standard royal / magic melodrama, the actual game design is sensibly done. Perhaps you find a chest that requires slightly more apples than you have currently, encouraging you to loop back in a bit when you’ve explored more. Perhaps there’s some interesting golden fairies that give you a side quest.

Or, in my case, perhaps you notice a horse rotates weirdly when you interact with it, so you spam interact with it literally 50 times… and unlock a secret fast travel network! Excellent! The game consistently rewards players who find their way down hidden nooks and crannies, which I’m always a massive fan of.

The actual game is about selling items in your shop, but it’s heavily story driven. Interestingly, you buy your produce with different currencies (mana, coins), meaning you’re actually somewhat limited on what you can actually sell. Maybe you need to sell some lootboxes to buy some alcohol to refill your mana to buy some more hats to sell. You get the idea.

Secret zone Item selling Cutscene

3/5 Games


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
82.30% - Store page £11.39 Bug Auto-battler March 2022 257 (March 2022)

Buggos is a pretty straight-forward “build a bug empire and squish the humans” style game (is that a genre?). There’s all the various classes you’d expect for your (alien) buggos, such as ranged units, builders that can build spawners, etc. The enemy humans have guns, flamethrowers, and defenses.

Gameplay is very simple, turtle in your corner, defending as necessary, then zerg rush the smallest accessible enemy outpost. Repeat until there are no humans left. Interestingly, you can’t control individual units, only put a pin where you want all buggos of a certain time to navigate to. This limits any advanced movement e.g. flanking, instead “rush as a horde” is the only tactic possible.

Admittedly this makes sense for bugs, but it still felt like a lot of the game I wasn’t doing much beyond waiting. You can also set all of your bugs to be in “spawn”, “fight”, or “gather” mode, providing a slight boost to different attributes. There’s a fairly detailed upgrade tree (see screenshot), but all of the upgrades felt very incremental not game-changing.

I played through the first “world” (7 levels), and they were all very straightforward. After beating it, I loaded up the hardest level in the 2nd world and it was unfortunately just more of the same. Sure, more enemies, more defenses, more enemy spawners, but nothing was really different. Not sure I’ll be picking this up again.

Upgrade tree Gameplay Map

Beyond Blue

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
83.45% - Store page £15.49 Deep Sea Exploration June 2020 303 (June 2020)

In a world where Subnautica didn’t exist, this game might have been massive. Unfortunately, Subnautica does exist, and seems to do almost everything this game does, plus an absurd amount more.

I completed the 1st dive (of 8), and the only gameplay was swimming to areas and pressing “A” or scanning fish. No challenge, no excitement, just meandering around scanning fish. I tried headbutting a shark to no avail.

This game is evidently more story driven than other sea games, but the story elements are completely disjointed from the gameplay. Whilst the dive is mostly alone, with occasional voice comms, once it’s over you end up in a tiny submarine, with a few voice calls to work through.

Beyond Blue seems to emphasise conservationism, containing various interviews with real world ocean experts. It also has a bizarrely high profile voice cast:

Experience an evocative narrative with full voice cast - Anna Akana (YouTube), Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Black Sails, Hotel Rwanda), and Ally Maki (Toy Story 4)

The swimming movement is somewhat smooth, although navigating through tight spaces can be a little frustrating. I’d really recommend Subnautica instead, sorry!

Inside the sub Fish! Whales!

Candy Disaster

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
79.07% - Store page £10.99 Trap Tower Defence November 2021 144 (Nivember 2023)

It’s hard to love or hate Candy Disaster. If you played games like Bloon Tower Defense a decade or two ago, you know how this goes. One slight variant is that “traps” are used instead of towers. This does add a bit of complexity, since you’re also trying to move the incoming enemies not just damage them.

A pretty successful tactic is to use movement & blocking tiles to group enemies up as much as possible, then do extremely high damage with spike traps. If this is done well, enemies will barely get a tile or two into your maze.

However, I’m sure by now every possible variant of Tower Defence has been made already, including this. A slight change in how towers work is not enough to make this a good game, it’s just yet another TD game. If you haven’t already, I do recommend trying Sanctum, a better looking, better playing, deeper, and cheaper FPS/TD hybrid released 12 years ago.

Anyway, back to Candy Disaster. There’s typos in the store page, tower descriptions, achievements, and just a general lack of attention to detail everywhere. The store page advertises “35 bases”, which considering their simplistic tile based design, is… really not many. Why not add Steam Workshop maps, or a level generator, so it has a chance of success?

Oh, right, because it’s actually a mobile game with microtransactions. That explains it.

Gameplay Leaderboards World map

Deepest Chamber: Resurrection

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
77.25% - Store page £10.29 Gritty Card Battler February 2019 136 (February 2019)

I don’t like card battlers. Deepest Chamber seems like an OK one, with a shop, varied enemies, and some interesting mechanics… but I just don’t like card battlers!

I did a couple of runs, and they honestly all ended up pretty similarly. I crushed a few weak enemies, comboed my cards, then eventually ran into something that was clearly going to crush me from the start… and did. Fun.

The controls were a little awkward, partially due to having multiple characters to look after (yet one hand of cards), and partially due to weirdness around how cards are deployed.

Looking at Steam reviews, lack of depth seems to be a common concern. Still, at least the graphics were alright, in a retro-y Skyrim-y way?

Combat Main menu Map


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
70.16% - Store page £24.99 Indie Retro JRPG March 2018 142 (July 2020)

Whilst the story for EARTHLOCK seemed reasonably well written, the actual questing and gameplay was way too dry for me. It’s pretty similar to all the retro JRPGs from the 90s and 00s, right down to the large open areas that take forever to actually walk through.

Combat is pretty dull, exploring is slow and not worth it, quests are simple “Go to X, do Y”. This wasn’t a bad game, but it’s perhaps for someone who is ready to invest 10s of hours and hope the game becomes worth it. Based on the Steam reviews, players who took this gamble seem split on whether they actually recommend it or not!

Combat Menu Overworld

Fly Punch Boom!

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
82.89% - Store page £12.99 Insane Anime Brawler May 2020 34 (May 2020)

This game is not even slightly for me, but it deserves a dedicated audience somewhere.

It’s an extremely frantic combination of Super Smash Bros and… a rhythm game? A reaction tester? I’ve no idea. You’re flying around, performing combos on each other, and trying to react to the opponent’s combos.

Halfway through the tutorial, I could tell I was never going to be able to play this. I struggled to even finish the tutorial, with some of the combinations (brawl enemy, time a filling bar, teleport behind, punch) breaking my brain a bit.

On top of this frantic, visually baffling gameplay is a very “memey” sense of humour / style that seems like this game is from at least 10 years before the actual release date. I suspect it might have landed better if it came out earlier, as the facial expression and art style are very “Newgrounds-y”.

I tried playing an online game to see if a stranger could absolutely crush me, but sadly nobody else seemed to be playing. I could easily imagine this becoming a competitive game, although I couldn’t watch it for more than a few minutes without my head exploding!

The trailer does an excellent job of showcasing the Flash game aesthetics, and the completely baffling combat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMu-B77NJPA

Unlocks Combat 1 Combat 2


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
70.03% - Store page £7.49 Minigolf Roguelike January 2023 175 (January 2023)

Another Yogscast game! This is unfortunately one of those experiences that I would really rather watch than play myself. I’ve watched the Yogs play it quite a lot, and the frustration of a tricky shot is definitely more entertaining when someone else is experiencing it.

In Golfie, you pick your powerups and try to use them to y’know, complete the hole. This is much easier said than done however, as the powerups are surprisingly tricky to use. For example, the “Jetpack” boost requires an awkward button press, and sends you absolutely flying into the sky. This adds a bit of risk vs reward to powerups, as the predictability of a regular unpowered shot can often be a better option.

Cards also have a “heat” level, essentially a mechanic whereby using too many cards can cause your little robot to break. This can sometimes mean you have a great card, but using it isn’t an option at the current time. A little frustrating.

I found the shots a bit too clunky, and it didn’t have the satisfying predictability of something like Golf With Your Friends. Golfie seems like an alright game, but I’m not sure I enjoyed my time with it.

Tricky shot Map picking Card picking


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
62.35% - Store page £34.99 Godly Extravagant Brawler April 2022 1,762 (April 2022)

You know that current trend of asking AI image generators to make an image, then repeatedly make it more X? Godfall is that, if you asked an AI to make a melee brawler, then make it more “epic”. More. More. More.

An absurd Lord of the Rings style cutscene is followed by a visually stunning tutorial. Everything is gold plated, everything is sparkling, everything has particle effects. It’s a little overwhelming.

Anyway, as hard as it is, let’s ignore all the visuals. The combat felt a bit… meh? This is supposed to be the main part of the game, yet it ends up being a not-as-good copy of something like Assassin’s Creed. Guard, do a quick attack, dodge, do a heavy attack as the enemy recovers, and repeat.

Enemy attacks are also hard to predict, especially for new enemy types. They’ll just kind of sprint at you, and then do something to you when they get close. Will they defend against your blow? Do an area effect? Slash at you? Who knows, but good luck predicting it.

I can’t comment much on the weapons, as my eyes were melting a bit too much after finishing the first boss. Overall the game seems to have maxed out the visuals slider, and forgotten about the mechanics. Oops.

Cutscene Combat Weapons


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
80.98% - Store page £15.10 Cute Point’n’click October 2021 17 (October 2021)

I’m kinda dumb. Growbot is a very aesthetically pleasing game, yet I can’t help but find the solutions in point and click games too arbitrary.

Growbot is a pretty standard “click everything possible, eventually figure out which things can combine” game. Writing seems OK, the solutions don’t seem too contrived but… it’s a point and click game, y’know? Not my thing.

Took me half hour to get past the first 3 screens and through the first locked door!

Locked door Flower arranging Inside the door

Harmony’s Odyssey

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
86.87% - Store page £11.39 Cute 3D Puzzles October 2022 30 (March 2023)

Harmony’s Odyssey is an odd contradiction. On one hand it’s full of cutesy puzzles with a small girl & cat main characters, and lots of bright visuals. On the other hand… how do you navigate the menus? Did I spend… something… on upgrading… something? No idea.

The puzzles themselves are fun enough, and it’s somewhat interesting playing traditional 2D puzzles in a 3D space. However, there doesn’t seem to be too much to the game. Lots of little puzzles, a few minigames, but I didn’t see anything particularly challenging.

I could maybe see myself coming back to this one day if I wanted to just play brainless puzzles for a bit, but otherwise I think it’s hard to find the game too engaging as an adult.

3D Shuffling Wand upgrading? Item finding

Homeworld: Deserts or Kharak

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
79.65% - Store page £29.99 Desert Strategy Sim January 2016 7,326 (January 2016)

This seems like a good strategy game, but… it’s a strategy game. I just can’t really enjoy them.

Selecting and moving units seemed logical, the setting was appealing, and I liked the ability of call in air reinforcements etc. I like being able to zoom into a random unit and zoom out to see the entire battlefield, feels a lot like Total War. I won’t be playing any more, but I definitely preferred it to the space based Homeworld games.

Base Sensor view Desert fighting

2/5 Games

A Story Beside

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
88.88% - Store page £11.39 Heartwarming Cozy Journey May 2022 20 (September 2019)

This really wasn’t for me. I found A Story Beside exceptionally slow, with essentially no actual gameplay. Whilst it looks like a typical RPG, it’s actually extremely linear. Walk to the place you have to walk to, listen to a dialog, and move on. This might imply the game is focusing on dialog decisions, like The Walking Dead, but… nope, these don’t matter either.

For example, one of the 8 decisions (e.g. the only gameplay) I made in the first chapter was whether I gave food to the brown-tinted goat or the black-tinted goat. Who cares? They’re just identical sprites with different colours.

There is occasional voiceover by a narrator, but all of the in-game conversations will be text only besides generic “surprise” noises etc. This made skimreading the dialog very dull, especially when combined with having to press “A” many times between each message, occasionally wait for an exclamation mark to appear above a character’s head etc. Half hour in, I just didn’t care about any of the characters.

Finally, for a game all about interacting with the environment, it seems entirely guesswork based. There’s no way to know if something will progress the story, display some information, or do nothing, without walking up to it. This means you’ll be running around houses staring at chests that do nothing, items that can’t be picked up, doors that are locked, etc. Early on in the game you have to find a hiding spot, and I found the correct hiding spot… too early, so had to visit a “bad” hiding spot first. What a waste of time.

People seem to enjoy this, but I do not! Perhaps it should have been a short film or a book instead.

Chapter 1 results Dialogue Cutscenes

Arcade Spirits

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
88.30% - Store page £16.99 Retro-gaming Dating Sim February 2019 136 (February 2019)

OK so I was never going to enjoy a dating sim, regardless of the theme. It was doomed from the start.

The dialogue is extremely simplistic, and there’s so many words to actually say anything. I was spamming the space bar throughout and could still easily read all of the story. The target audience is obviously much, much younger than me.

The actual gameplay is what you’d expect. Read many words, make a minor A or B decision that influences your “score” in various areas. Flirty answer influences your relationship, logical answer influences your logic score, you know how this works. To see what happens if you max out, I always chose Naomi’s romantic options, hence the final full bars. The result? Well, nothing.

I only played the first chapter, so I presume the story will deepen beyond the extreme shallowness I’ve seen so far. I personally couldn’t stand how hard every single character was trying to be as quirky as possible.

Oh, and I “lost” the game at my very first decision by deciding to go look for a job normally, not waste my time with a virtual assistant app my (quirky, of course) roommate recommended. This resulted in the naive teenage viewpoint of “yeah you got an office job, a stable life, a wife and kids, but you were SAD so you LOST”. I then had to restart. I kinda knew by then the game wasn’t going to have a similar viewpoint to me!

Chapter 1 results Dialogue Decision making


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
78.11% - Store page £12.79 Build Bots Assemble September 2013 17 (November 2023)

What an infuriating game. Astronimo is primarily a platformer, with a vehicle builder shoved inside. I’d like to think I’m okay at understanding tutorials, yet multiple parts just didn’t seem to make sense (such as trying to lift a box over my head… that I need to stand on?). Despite this, I made it most of the way through the tutorial world, before the awful swinging controls made me give up.

On the Steam page I saw some element of “sharing worlds” is available, so I tried to play some workshop maps in case they were less painful, but… there didn’t seem to be an option. The game also has a “lane” based system, but only seems to remember it exists occasionally. Same with currency. Same with zooming out to view other planets.

The construction seemed basic (grid based, move components and connect them), none of the physics interactions felt right, and overall I just didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s hard to quantify why it felt so unpleasant, perhaps it’s the combination of very childish UI & design, plus confusing controls, making the target audience a mystery.

The game has only just entered early access, so perhaps it’ll be a better game after a few rounds of improving & simplifying.

Construction Gameplay Planet overview

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
81.20% - Store page £33.50 Space Ballet Shooting August 2017 2,143 (April 2023)

I cannot stand this style of strategy game, where you plan all your ship’s movements in 3D space, then all the actions are taken at once. There was a similar one I reviewed from last year’s Jingle Jam (“Aeronautica Imperialis: Flight Command”), and they feel identical.

Even a quick skirmish takes countless repetitive turns. You have very limited options, all the ships are essentially just dancing around each other in space, it’s the most dull representation of space combat possible.

Upon first opening the game – that would have been pretty expensive if not in the Jingle Jam bundle – I was met with an advert to buy other games. There were also adverts for various DLCs. There was also no story, cutscene, engagement, anything to grab my interest.

Once I closed the various adverts, I was thrown into the emptiness of space with a couple of ships. Who am I? Who am I fighting? Why should I care? Does this have any link to the Battlestar Galactica TV show I’ve watched? Who knows.

As with many strategy games, people seem to love this! Good for them! I don’t, and was hoping for so much more. Perhaps it’s one of those games that only gets good tens of hours in. I won’t be finding out.

Firing missiles Tactical view Oops I crashed

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
87.65% - Store page £15.49 Cooking Typing Management October 2020 491 (January 2020)

This game started with a fully voiced, impressive cutscene. There was a story, corporate drama, robots, all looks great!

Oh, and then it revealed itself to be one of those “create the requested food” cooking games. Y’know, the Flash games that used to be super popular 15-20 years ago. Whilst the keyboard / controller controls were smooth (e.g. using trigger + button to select a topping), it’s just too painfully dull for me. This does seem like one of the better games in the genre, but it’s not a genre I can ever enjoy.

There is an impressive variety of dishes here, but the “cooking” of them is always just going to be pressing a few buttons in the correct order. I also experienced a few bugs during gameplay, with screenshots not working, and some UI elements getting stuck for a bit.

Travelling Preparing Serving

Homeworld Remastered

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
86.28% - Store page £26.99 Space Strategy Sim February 2015 17,790 (February 2015)

Note: I only tried Homeworld 1.

This is clearly an extremely popular game but… I didn’t get on with it. The first thing I saw in the game was an advert. Next, the tutorial glitched halfway through, and I could never navigate to my ships.

OK, fine, restart the game and try again. It works, and is the kind of space RTS you’ve played a hundred games elsewhere. The complexity is solid, and the UI is detailed, but the age is showing.

Whilst the Steam release date of the remastered edition is 2015, the original release seems to be 2019. This explains a lot. The gameplay is fine if a bit clunky, about what you’d expect from a 24 year old game.

If you’ve got nostalgia for this series you’ll presumably love it, otherwise other games have done the same thing better.

Ships in space Ship in space Big ship in space

1/5 Games


Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
77.53% - Store page £0.44 2.5D Arena Shooter April 2018 156 (January 2019)

This game was hard work. The first 3 times I tried to launch it, the screen froze and I had to close the game. Steam also never seemed to know if it was running or not. Luckily, I tried launching it with my controller unplugged, and it finally actually loaded! Whilst I can’t prove DEPLOYMENT is to blame, after my first and only session with DEPLOYMENT my Steam actually reported a critical component had failed and Steam had to restart. It then had to reinstall some sort of key Steam service. Great.

As an obviously multiplayer first game, I queued up for deathmatch and team deathmatch… both of which had 0 other players. I was put into a 2v2 game with 3 obvious bots, and the difficulty was essentially zero.

My AI companion spent the entire time running in a circle shooting at walls, whilst the enemy spawned and blindly charged at me every time. It was very easy to claim the powerups and slaughter the AI enemies. Fun for a minute or two, but there’s no challenge.

The game has a couple of elements that could be good, such as powering up turrets to provide area abilities, and entering an “ultimate” mode to deal more damage. This is countered by the extremely limited options (only low or high graphic settings with high providing less than 60 FPS), zero playerbase, and technical bugginess. For example, finishing a game provides almost no information on how you performed, accuracy, etc.

I’m rating DEPLOYMENT especially low due to a simple controller breaking it, the endless technical problems, and there being no interesting gameplay without other players. A short single player campaign would have made this somewhat enjoyable, ah well.

Queueing Gameplay Upgrades

Heavy Burden

Steam rating Price Description Released Peak players
79.19% - Store page £1.49 Godly Walking Simulator September 2023 800 (September 2023)

Where’s the game? Load into a level, read some weird preachy text, carry your brick to the end, go to the next level.

Boring aesthetic, boring gameplay, you’ll spend almost the entirety of your time bored. At least it’s cheap.

Market Landscape Clue?