Every Christmas since 2011, one of my favourite content creators The Yogscast have organised the “Jingle Jam” charity games bundle, which finishes today. Here’s part 2, with games 31-60.

5/5 Games

Danger Scavenger

I’m amazed I’ve never heard of this game, it’s one of my favourites in this entire bundle!

Danger Scavenger is a roguelite dungeon crawler in a cyberpunk setting, with plenty of enemies, weapons, upgrades, etc. Each run unlocks new weapons whilst also letting you keep some of your equipment. I particularly liked how flexible the combat was, with my initial choice of shotgun being easily replaceable later on when a revolver proved far more useful.

At specific points in your run, you’ll have a chance to make a very tempting risk vs reward gamble. If you accept a debuff, you’ll be given a specific item. Some of these deals are much more reasonable than others, with the very best rewards requiring crazy risks like “Any damage kills you”!

The gameplay is very, very smooth, with the ability to peek at where enemies are and get shots in, or risk trying to use environmental weapons like explosive barrels. There’s also multiple characters with their own specialities, and I’m very, very interested in how the gameplay differs between characters.

I’ll absolutely be playing more of this, I’m very interested in what unlocks later on!

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
73.13% - Store page £7.19 Roguelite March 2021 40 (June 2020)
Combat Shop Risk v Reward

Lost Nova

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
86.44% - Store page £11.39 Adventure May 2022 130 (May 2012)

This reminds me of Turnip Boy from the previous post, but with a lot more complexity and gameplay. In Lost Nova, you spend your time helping various people with their quests, whilst farming resources for upgrades to your broken ship as you go. You’ll be using your laser to destroy obstacles, jump distances, and solve puzzles.

The same currency is used for almost all purchases, forcing you to choose between immediately helpful upgrades (e.g., extra energy), story progression (e.g., a ship part), or convenience (e.g., a shortcut). There’s also plenty of replayable quests such as hunting down a bear’s lost kids that ensure it’s always possible to get more currency if you need it.

I played for around 90 minutes, and unfortunately experienced a bug where I became stuck in a rock and couldn’t jump out. Before this I hadn’t experienced any problems, and the movement and gathering mechanics felt very smooth. Finally, I’d like to compliment the dialog, which was entertaining, just detailed enough to provide the necessary context, and skippable.

Town Desert Puzzle solving

Ancient Enemy

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
85.18% - Store page £11.39 Card April 2020 177 (April 2012)

I’m an absolute sucker for tripeaks solitaire. This uses that as a basic mechanic, then builds all kinds of RPG elements on top of it, absolutely perfect!

Before each battle you select your cards accordingly (e.g. don’t use fire cards on an enemy with fire resistance), load up on any consumables, all of which help give you an edge. Interestingly, clearing the board isn’t how you win the battles, it’s killing the enemy. Of course, emptying the board gives you a new board, so is likely a good idea for new cards anyway.

In my hour or so of gameplay I got to the end of Chapter 3, with the bosses noticeably becoming more challenging to beat. At the default difficulty your health carries over between each battle, meaning each of them is a chance to heal up or accidentally lose health. Having lower health makes the tactical elements much riskier, but usually still possible. For example, I entered the Chapter 3 boss battle with < 25% of my health, and still managed to win! This was due to wildcards being stackable, and working through my stash.

Between each chapter new cards (attacks, passive perks, active perks) can be purchased, and the currency required for these are pretty easy to obtain so long as you complete all side missions. Rushing straight for the boss would be much quicker, but a bit too risky. Additionally, there’s quite a few mechanics that keep each battle feeling fresh (locked gates, gates requiring card matches, instant damage cards, stats boosting cards).

The default difficulty is perhaps a little easy, but I’m looking forward to coming back to this and completing it!

Combat Boss Fight Map



Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
93.67% - Store page £14.99 Casual August 2022 12.4k (September 2022)

Full disclosure, I’ve watched easily 100+ hours of this game being played, and I love watching others play it. However, I was sure I would not like playing it myself, hence why I hadn’t bought it yet. After trying it myself, I was correct!

The game design is great, but it is a very multiplayer-first restaurant management game. This works excellent for streams (especially with the Twitch integration), but when playing alone the time taken to move is just a bit too frustrating, and my little brain can’t keep up with everything.

I’m very envious of people like Pedguin who can build up insanely complex restaurants with automation, I struggled to even cook steaks to the correct rarity! If you have friends, definitely pick this up, but for solo players who don’t like timers it’s maybe not what you’re after.

Simple gameplay Slightly less simple gameplay Upgrading restaurant

Chroma Squad

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
89.46% - Store page £11.39 Strategy April 2015 949 (May 2015)

What a great lightweight tactical RPG! You essentially play as the power rangers, fighting a mixture of real and fictional enemies. There are various mechanics to let your team members perform attacks together, and the core gameplay mechanics are simple to understand but hard to master.

The writing is pretty good, but even more importantly there is a built-in option to fast-forward through all of it! Character customisation is solid, and the overall progression is satisfying. If even an amateur like myself can make decent progress, anyone can.

In short, whilst this may not be the deepest or most realistic tactical RPG, it’s well worth a few hours of time.

Combat End of level Shop

Aporia: Beyond The Valley

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
79.95% - Store page £13.49 Adventure July 2017 96 (May 2018)

A slow, but very beautiful adventure / puzzle game.

The puzzling is fairly simple and minimal, with the main challenge being figuring out which way to go next (or how to read the map). The basic controls are intuitive enough, but those unlocked later on can be awkward at times.

Unfortunately the game had a few technical issues whilst I played it. Most of these were relatively minor (lighting lamps through walls accidentally, weird water reflections), but my experience culminated in the game freezing up entirely and crashing. Still, despite these issues I’m intending to come back to this and finish it.

Treetops Forest floor Story projection

Bonfire Peaks

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
87.70% - Store page £15.49 Puzzle September 2021 57 (October 2021)

This is a just a very solid puzzler. Each level you need to get your box of belongings into the fire (don’t ask), with this usually requiring climbing up a few levels. Of course, if your box is in front of you, you can’t climb moving forward, hence the complexity.

To get around this, you’ll spend most of your time rotating yourself and your box and shuffling crates around to make your way up to the fire. The difficulty ramps up gradually, with all the puzzles hitting that perfect sweet spot of requiring some thought, but always feeling possible. Due to this excellent game designs, I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming back to this once my brain has recharged a bit!

Overworld Puzzle example 1 Puzzle example 2

Moon Hunters

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
76.91% - Store page £1.13 Roguelite March 2016 324 (February 2017)

I only did 1 run of this RPG / roguelite, but got hints of a much, much bigger world with far more complexity. The combat was challenging, but it never felt unfair or unbalanced. It was always a matter of balancing the abilities against their energy cost and effect on movement. The story went over my head a little bit, but I could easily see myself giving this a few more runs to try out the different classes, and the new cosmetics / features unlocked after each run.

Most of the negative reviews mention low replayability, and an almost requirement of multiplayer for later levels. Whilst those do sounds like major downsides, I didn’t get that far!

Screen effects Bullet hell Damage areas


Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
89.36% - Store page £11.39 Platformer February 2020 130 (February 2022)

A solid Metroid-style platformer. Tight controls, a straightforward story, and satisfying platforming.

There’s plenty of secrets (coins / talismans for bonus health) hidden away in corners, rewarding those that backtrack and hunt down newly accessible corners. The only downside is that backtracking across large areas of the map can be a bit time consuming.

Finally, the art style is atmospheric and beautiful, with the particle effects being noticeable without distracting. Fully intend to come back to this game later.

Platforming Boss fight Map view

Maiden & Spell

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
91.02% - Store page £10.29 Bullet Hell February 2020 130 (February 2022)

Whilst the overall design of this game definitely isn’t my thing (“magical girl battle game, set in a cutesy fantasy world”), the gameplay here is an engaging iteration of the bullet hell genre.

I played this on keyboard, and holding down “Z” for the main attack the entire game felt a bit pointless. The additional attacks were somewhat awkward to activate, with the keys being Shift, Z, X, C, and V. These are not easy to press reliably! I frequently pressed the wrong attack, dodging when I wanted to do a strong attack and vice versa.

The story was very much not my thing, but ignoring it and the aesthetic reveals a pretty good bullet hell game underneath. Finally, most of the other reviews focused on the apparently great online multiplayer mode, which I imagine has an absurdly high skill ceiling! I only played the offline story mode.

Screen effects Bullet hell Damage areas

Concrete Jungle

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
82.10% - Store page £5.19 Puzzle September 2015 130 (September 2015)

What a lovely puzzle game! You’re tasked with building a city, row by row, keeping track of the points required whilst also balancing the “cost” of each building.

This is made challenging by the changing nature of each level. Each building has a varying “positive” cost (used to access the card shop), and “negative” cost (automatically making higher requirements per column). Additionally, some columns will have buildings already existing, taking up space. Each level can be challenging, but never feels impossible. There’s no undo, but there are “lives” that let you delete a failed column.

Finally, the aesthetic of the game is very appealing, with lots of details revealing it is a labour of love. Each building placed becomes a named, unique structure, with lots of potential appearances. This makes placing each building satisfying, especially when 2 of the same buildings are placed next to each other, forming a merged “block”.

Concrete Jungle is a great puzzle game, easy to get into and relaxing, yet also challenging.

Gameplay Zoomed out Card shop


Chaos Reborn

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
89.46% - Store page £2.09 Strategy October 2015 346 (October 2015)

Chaos Reborn is an interesting mashup of a complex chess game and a card based battler. Positioning is as important as the luck of the draw, with the combination of both being required to win a battle.

Initial impressions are that the game is very, very hard. There is a lot going on, a lot of interlocking systems, and even complex geography and lines of sight to consider at all times. On top of these, there is the ability to “bluff” that you have summoned a creature, with the intention of forcing your opponent to change their strategy.

This is evidently a deep, challenging game that will take at least a few hours to get to grips with. I suspect it’s probably worth the effort, if you can handle the complexity!

Battle 1 Battle 2 Character creation

Lucifer Within Us

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
73.66% - Store page £7.49 Mystery October 2020 90 (October 2020)

Lucifer Within Us was quite unlike other detective / mystery games I’ve played, in that it really was almost entirely about the evidence and any contradictions, instead of interrogation minigames etc. The core gameplay is focused around a timeline, as told by all potential suspects. Elements of this can then be investigated, and compared to other suspects’ testimonies.

Whilst I did like the mostly mental challenge behind the investigation, some elements were too unpredictable or unknowable. For example, at several points during the investigation I got stuck, until eventually I discovered the character’s “psyche” needed to be clicked on, to gain an insight into their mind. This could then be used as part of the investigation process. This very game-y element took away from the usually logic based challenge, but wasn’t a major issue.

Overall the replayability is pretty much zero, and whilst the story is somewhat interesting there is not much motivation to continue investigating murders. The supernatural / demonic possession elements feel a little out of place, and I’d be interested in this gameplay style in a more contemporary setting.

Early timeline Late timeline Inside a mind

Absolute Drift

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
84.95% - Store page £2.69 Driving July 2015 352 (June 2016)

This is a tricky game to review. If you like drifting a car through (mostly) 2D environments then this is the game for you. If you want anything else, it doesn’t have it.

The controls are pretty simple if you’ve done much drifting in other games, it’ll be the usual mix of feathering the throttle and careful steering. “Free play” is definitely the mode to play, with the tutorial and all progression being shown in a gradual and natural manner. Overall it’s a pretty simple game, but implemented well.

Gameplay 1 Gameplay 2 Menu

Men of War: Assault Squad 2

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
89.21% - Store page £19.99 Strategy May 2014 9.7k (March 2015)

This is another one of those games that (at least based on reviews) is probably pretty good, but so far outside of my interest zone that it’s impossible for me to rate it highly.

Playing this game was a bit of a trial by fire, with no tutorial on movement, unit selection, etc. I think I figured the basics out after a little bit of confusion over right / left clicking, but throughout the tutorial mission I never had much control or confidence in my actions.

The unit AI seemed pretty creative, with troop movement offering various options for taking decent firing positions, and troops covering each other automatically if they came under fire. Overall, it’s a popular game but I’m not into RTS!

Combat Close-up Movement positioning

Orbi Universo

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
73.28% - Store page £16.75 Strategy January 2020 256 (December 2022)

Orbi Universo is not a game for those easily overwhelmed. Similar to strategy games like the Democracy series, your goal is to grow your civilisation via various “levers”, whilst preventing anything catastrophic happening. For me, I ran out of money, panic-collapsed my entire civilisation to prevent civil unrest, and the resulting instability resulted in total societal collapse. Oops!

This is a very, very hard game to keep track of. Whilst you can organise your “bubbles” into groups, all the bubbles try to auto-position themselves that quickly results in an overlapping mess of bubbles, all influencing each other. For example, I found “Population” connected to many bubbles, so it was impossible to not have it surrounded by a mess of overlapping cables.

Luckily, mousing over your coins, political capital, or any attribute will show what affects it. Of course, due to the complex interactions between all the elements, it’s still pretty hard to actually fix anything that is wrong. Additionally, the tutorial ends a bit too early for my liking, it would be good if it walked you through a bit more of the societal balancing aspect, not just the basic controls.

Whilst I enjoyed my brief time with Orbi Universo, I spent most of it in a confused and overwhelmed state, mostly due to the user interface. There’s probably a good game hiding in there somewhere!

Simple start Complex later game Post-game stats

Plague Inc: Evolved

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
92.72% - Store page £4.07 Strategy February 2016 17.8k (January 2020)

No prizes for figuring out why this pandemic simulator has been popular the last few years!

I played a fair amount of similar games back on Kongregate ~15 years ago, and perhaps that burnout was partially why I wasn’t as impressed by Plague Inc as most other reviewers. The gameplay is very simple, click bubbles that appear on the map to earn points to upgrade your disease. Whilst there is a balance between infectivity and lethality, the strategy is very, very simple.

The outcomes of games felt fairly random, with the gameplay almost feeling like a sandbox that I was only slightly influencing at times. Whilst the game is very polished, and has an impressive amount of gameplay variants and achievements, the core gameplay is very repetitive.

Plague Inc might be fun for a few hours if you can include the slightly too-close-to-home subject matter, but ultimately it’s a bit too shallow to become a long-term game.

Main map screen Disease info Country info

A Total War Saga: TROY

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
69.83% - Store page £34.99 Strategy September 2021 4.7k (September 2021)

Whilst strategy isn’t usually my genre, especially not long-running established series like Total War, I can see the appeal.

There’s a very immediate and rewarding payoff to moving units around freely, and having each individual soldier battling. Most strategy games abstract this away into a single representative, or a grid, making the strategy more about knowing game mechanics.

With Total War, whilst mechanics are obviously crucial, using realistic tactics like flanking are effective, and work as planned. TROY specifically seems to be similar to other Roman empire-y strategy games, but has elements of mythology thrown in. I could see myself getting into Total War in general, but this might not be where I’d start, given the excessive DLC pushed throughout.

Battle Area map Post-battle results


Dark Nights with Poe and Munro

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
75.51% - Store page £9.99 Adventure May 2020 50 (May 2020)

This isn’t really a game, it’s a slightly interactive TV show in the style of Netflix’s Bandersnatch.

The story is straightforward and simple, the acting and cinematography is alright, but not a TV show I’d actually watch. The choices are very limited, with the first episode (1/6th of the game) only having 8 interactions in ~15 minutes of video. That’s approximately 1 click every 2 minutes. These decisions did seem to have real impacts, but it’s hard to tell without multiple playthroughs.

If the story sounds interesting to you, then you might be able to enjoy it as a made-for-TV movie. It’s not much of a game though.

Poe Munro Episode 1 choices


Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
92.43% - Store page £10.99 RPG August 2020 4.8k (September 2020)

Chronicon looks like it might be a fun RPG, but I really didn’t get on with it. The movement and combat felt pretty clunky, and interfaces / inventory management was like a puzzle all by itself.

It seems to have plenty of depth, but I couldn’t work my way past the interfaces and general jankiness.

Starting castle Combat Skills

Crazy Machines 3

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
91.99% - Store page £7.99 Sandbox October 2016 1.1k (March 2021)

It’s hard to judge this game, as it isn’t really a game. Instead, it’s a sandbox of physics objects, and semi-realistic interactions with each other.

Sure, these interactions are reasonable. A ball knocks another ball. But in terms of actual gameplay, there isn’t very much here. A small collection of minigames, some physics puzzles that have already been reproduced in tens of other games, and then you’re out of content.

Whilst the lifeblood of this title is clearly the Steam Workshop, the built-in content is still very lacking. It’s hard to recommend this game when so many physics simulators exist, but just happen to be less popular.

Menu Puzzle level Minigame level

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
78.13% - Store page £41.99 Strategy August 2019 10.4k (August 2019)

This game didn’t give off a great impression from the start. It required a standalone launcher, required patch downloading, then encouraged making an account, then a 60s+ loading time.

But, after that, the game itself seemed… fine, I guess. It’s yet another hex based 4X, with all the usual resource management that comes along with it. This had nice unit on unit battles, where the gameplay “zooms in” to a strategic battle. I can imagine this would get a bit frustrating for larger battles, as even a small battle took far too long to complete.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad game, it’s just not my genre, and seems to demand tens of hours of investment to understand all the nuances.

Overworld Battle Tech tree

Aeronautica Imperialis: Flight Command

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
46.41% - Store page £1.89 Strategy May 2020 142 (May 2020)

This is a rough game, with a very early-access feel. UIs are very basic, and there’s no voice acting or ambient sound leading to creepily quiet air battles. These are usually quite noisy environments! There are no cinematics, and the UI impressively stutters on simple tasks like assigning a new pilot attribute.

I didn’t realise this was a Warhammer 40k game until I read Steam reviews, nor did I realise it was based on a tabletop game which explains some odd elements of the gameplay. For example, planes will often intersect each other completely when performing moves, with no physics interaction.

The post-move camera is a bit of a mess, with quick cuts all over the place. There is a way to view the entire move from a static position, but this preference resets after every turn! Same with boundary visibility, targeting arcs, etc. Finally, the tutorial was longer than it needed to be, whilst explaining very little.

Unfortunately not much fun.

Move planning Move combat Overall UI

Mad Experiments: Escape Room

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
70.52% - Store page £9.68 Puzzle November 2020 58 (July 2020)

Getting it out of the way upfront, I’m not a fan of escape rooms. I played this room alone, and perhaps having other players around would have made it a bit easier. As it was however, it was a frustrating experience of blundering around, occasionally finding something unexpected, then blundering around until I worked out what to do with this information.

The game itself only consists of 3 escape rooms, with zero real replayability (the solution is always the same). Whilst there is DLC, it only consists of cosmetics masks and a soundtrack, instead of any actual new rooms.

There are plenty of escape room games, and it’s the kind of genre that from my experience loses too much when translated into a game. I’d recommend a VR solution over this, or the real thing ideally!

Lobby Escape Room Clue?

Mech Mechanic Simulator

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
65.82% - Store page £16.99 Simulator March 2021 609 (March 2021)

This is a pretty simple game. Accept a job, take off mech part, take it apart, replace faulty parts, put back together, and repeat.

Whilst mech part repair does open up later on (instead of just replacement), there’s really not enough here to justify the work required. Navigating the repair shop is a chore (no jumping barriers, no sprinting, etc), and the actual gameplay is mostly annoying without any challenge. You’ll just be clicking the green parts until you can access the one you need to replace. That’s it.

I can’t really recommend this unfortunately, some kind of overarching story would be a great way to improve this. Any element of a sideplot or subplot would have helped.

Mech cleaning Mech disassembly Parts shop


Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
79.22% - Store page £7.99 Arcade March 2018 243 (March 2018)

This was a game where every single noise hurt my ears. Each screen is a simple puzzle, a self-contained point and click adventure. The solutions are extremely convoluted, with the only real approach being trial and error clicking on objects, making this a game a bot could complete as easily as a human.

Yes the art style is unique, and I can see how it would be appealing to some. For me, I found it too oh-so-quirky without much actual gameplay underneath the polish. Each screen only has 3-4 things on, just click them until you’re arbitrarily allowed to leave.

I noticed the developers previously created 3 games I’ve enjoyed with a lot of similarities: Machinarium, Botanicula, Samorost. Whilst all of these games have a lot in common, somehow the previous games seemed to have more of a cohesive / engaging story, whereas CHUCHEL felt more like I’d wandered into a kid’s TV show.

First puzzle Second puzzle Third puzzle


Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
74.53% - Store page £26.99 Multiplayer September 2021 28 (December 2022)

This is a pretty shallow game: put coloured materials into the machine to craft ammo to fire at the enemy tank.

There’s an unnecessary conveyor belt mechanic, tank loadouts, but in general if you’ve played 1 level you’ve played them all. Perhaps more fun with friends, but alone it’s very repetitive and mindless. As a positive, the art style is appealing without being too childish.

Loadout Level Battle start


City Climber

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
71.18% - Store page £5.19 Arcade February 2017 92 (January 2022)

This isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it isn’t a complete one. City Climber is a casual arcade game where you control your left and right hands, and try to climb walls or complete challenges.

Levels are either pointlessly easy, impossibly hard, or based entirely on how the physics engine decides to throw your ragdoll. There’s no sense of accomplishment or problem solving after each level, just a vague relief it’s over. Whilst this is obviously from a solo developer, there’s a few typos and confusing interfaces that really should be fixed 5 years after release!

Overall this feels more like a free mobile game than a paid-for PC title.

Story level Challenge level Level select

Big Crown Showdown

Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
63.88% - Store page £9.99 Multiplayer December 2018 8 (December 2022)

This is a multiplayer only game that seems to have no servers, and has never had more than 8 players online at once.

I tried every menu option to try and actually play the game, and eventually had to just add myself twice to the party (keyboard + mouse) and play an offline custom game. The levels were pretty simple, and there was no challenge to complete them, so I started controlling 2 characters at once just to try to have some fun. I actually initially thought the levels were procedurally generated, but no, they just use the same few assets repeatedly.

As a far more minor complaint than the whole “there’s no game to play”, there are zero(!) cosmetic options available on first launch, despite a whole shop full of hats that can be purchased.

If you have someone sitting next to you, maybe you can find some fun here. I couldn’t.

Ice level Castle level Server issues


Steam rating Price Genre Released Peak players
78.01% - Store page £15.99 Multiplayer April 2021 3.6k (May 2021)

I can’t review Cryofall as it doesn’t work for me whatsoever. Starting it up let me pick the language, then endlessly connect to the main server until I Alt + F4 the game. This happened every time I started it.

If only there was some sort of offline mode, huh? Based on the other reviews it looks like it might have been interesting.