Tag Archives: Minecraftian

REVIEW: Death Quota R

If I’m going ahead and making grand assumptions1 here, I’m going to assume that the ‘R’ in Death Quota R ($1.00) almost certainly stands for Robots, as they are your main antagonist in the game. Which is a nice break from the usual zombie menace that developer Edelica Digital Bros. goes to whenever a new Death Quota must be met. Evidently, that quota is about to be reached, as this game represents the developer’s last project on XBLIG.

This also marks the third title in the series, an FPS buried under a Minecraftian layer of blocks. Yet you shouldn’t assume that you’ll be doing any crafting or remodeling here; the ‘levels’ in Death Quota R boil down to, more or less, collect-athons. Each stage finds you— or with a friend in local co-op— gathering a certain number of ‘powercores’, dodging flying drones and mowing down robotic patrols as you go (past games in the series had a similar objective). Once you’ve secured the amount that stage requires, a helicopter is summoned and sent for your extraction.

The entirely of this race to collect things takes place on a medium-sized island, teeming with alien structures and dark interiors, serene beachfront property, and… trees. Lots of trees. It’s also really familiar. Edelica has been getting quite the mileage out of that solitary map, as it’s been more or less the same since ZDQ 2 and the original Zombie Death Quota. Regardless of that familiarity, the map handles the task of hiding the powercores you seek in some out-of-the-way places without being overly annoying about it.

Combat remains as solid as ever. Besides your trusty, infinite-ammo-having handgun, you’ll have a handful of standard weapon types to switch up the killing (the loadout changes slightly for each stage), as well as scattered crates that appear periodically and / or get dropped from defeated enemies, netting you additional ammo, health kits, and powercores. If you tire of the short campaign (six levels), there’s always online battles for up to six players.

Death Quota R - Screen

That multiplayer will be hit and (mostly) miss, however, as XBLIG is perpetually vacant in its online lobbies. That leaves you with the single-player campaign, which gets highly repetitive after the first couple stages of collecting, and collecting, and collecting. Sometimes you collect more, sometimes less. The robotic sentries, too, will gradually get on your nerves, with their constant teleporting and shielding (more like taunting, the metal bastards).

It’s hard to shake the feeling of familiarity. The game looks great and handles just as well, but Death Quota R is really just more of the same idea already realized, under a semi-new coat of paint. Newcomers to the series will probably appreciate it for what it does, but if you’ve played a Death Quota game before this, don’t expect much refinement in Edelica’s XBLIG denouement.


  1. ‘Grand assumptions’ account for like, 85% of the decision-making in my life. You can probably guess how well that’s worked out for me. 
Advertisements

REVIEW: Deadburg

Similar to DayZ— or XBLIG’s own ApocZReanimated GamesDeadburg ($1.00) is a zombie survival adventure set in a sprawling, completely explorable world. Visually, it’s a cross between Minecraft‘s blocky environs and a more realistic look for its items and zombies1, meeting nicely somewhere in the middle of the two styles. Its idea is well-worn by now, but the end result is one of the more playable crafter / shooter types you can find on the service.

Deadburg - Screen

Staying true to the genre and those aforementioned games, your objective in Deadburg is survival. This requires the obvious finesse in combat, battling undead hordes and watching your health, but also in monitoring your food and water situation. Strangely, this zombie apocalypse overfloweth with water bottles and canned goods, making this less of a serious concern about micromanagement and more of an annoying, ‘Don’t forget to to eat and drink’ bit.

Regardless, you will certainly have no shortage of houses and stores to search for said gear. Each world ‘seed’ is procedurally-generated, granting you hundreds2 of options to loot out life-saving bandages, firearms, items, materials, etc. In fact, it’s quite overwhelming at first glance. Multi-storied homes and abandoned businesses line the zombie-filled streets. Huge skyscrapers and buildings loom in the distance, erupting upwards into your game world all Inception-like, promising their own rewards and surprises.

Deadburg - Screen2

And dangers. Zombies are keen to taste human flesh, of course, and Deadburg offers up a large collection of melee weapons and guns, ranging from sledgehammers (which doubles as your ‘pickaxe’ to break apart the buildings / blocks) and golf clubs, to pistols and assault rifles. Each comes with their own durability and damage output (or limited ammo), necessitating that usual carrot-on-the-stick strategy of continuing to explore and look for better gear.

Your avatar can effectively ‘level up’ as well, buffing skills like strength and stamina, or various attributes that will, say, give you an edge in combat, grant you night vision, or increase your odds and talents in crafting. The Minecraft-ian hook is more than just an excuse to design and / or wreck the environments, too. Build makeshift bridges to cross rooftops and avoid a fight, or stack together a barricade to block off a pack of zombies. Options abound.

Deadburg - Screen3

Pertinent info aside, the online play— seemingly one of Deadburg‘s most popular features— remains sketchy even a month after release. Up to three players can join a world (or host their own)… when that game world is stable. Lag / stutters create some issues, as does the lack of an in-game map, making it hard for players / friends to find each other and team up. The zombies, too, are literally hit and miss, featuring some wonky AI where they’ll just kind of stand around looking at you until you get close. To counter this, the game does boost their collective stats, making them stronger and more resilient with each passing day / night cycle3.

These are minor bumps in the road, however. The game gives you plenty to keep you busy and exploring, finding new crafting recipes and better weapons, and leveling up to meet the challenge. Deadburg feels ambitious, massive, and involving, its environments larger and more varied than ApocZ. It’s ultimately missing the apocalyptic presentation and the ‘human element’ of something like Survivalist, but if you’ve yet to fully scratch your ‘zombie survival’ itch, Deadburg is certainly worth a look.


  1. Some of which look like an undead Vladimir Putin, curiously. 
  2. The game’s description says ‘thousands’ of explorable buildings / homes, but I’m leaning more towards the conservative side until proven otherwise. Not that it matters; you literally won’t run out of property to search or stuff to pick up. 
  3. There’s been other issues as well, including crashes and other gameplay bugs, but the developer is working on another patch to address some of those outstanding issues. Even better news, they’re working on a new ‘Defense’ mode and other tweaks / options that will be added in a future update. Keep an eye on their site for details. 

REVIEW: Survival Games: Season 1

Given XBLIG’s recent plight, its various brushes with death, and the lack of new games worthy of a look, it’s been rare to come across a release that you can truly be excited about. Survival Games Season 1 ($1.00) is certainly unassuming at first glance, easy to pass off as another Minecraft clone. However, I can say— unequivocally— that this is one of the better games to hit the indie marketplace in 2014.

Survival Games comes across as Minecraft meets Hunger Games meets Stephen King’s Under The Dome1 meets a first-person shooter2. Yes, that’s a mouthful. It’s also a cocktail of awesome, a mashup of different styles and scenes that work rather well together. The scope of this game is impressive by any standard, but especially so for an indie. Developer 2.0 Studios has experience building crafters on the service, but they’ve truly created something great here that everyone should play. When it all runs smooth, that is.

Survival Games Season 1 - Screen

To start with, Survival Games is not a ‘block world crafter’. Despite its appearance, despite any inferred comparisons, you are not building square worlds of your own design here. Survival Games is a first-person shooter first and foremost, specializing in online PvP battles for up to sixteen players3 across a large and random landscape. All that said, it’s not the FPS components themselves that thrill, but rather the ancillary parts that join together and compliment it. While your main objective is to eliminate other players and be the last player standing (YOLO is the theme here, almost roguelike), there is more to the matter of surviving than just, well… surviving.

As the title implies, your survival depends on a multi-pronged approach. Other players aren’t your only concern. You’ve also got to manage your hunger and sleep levels, as well as a stamina meter directly tied to your actions. Things like running, jumping, and attacking all use stamina, forcing you to strike a balance and constantly look for ways to improve your lot. Survival Games is nothing if not accommodating… to an extent. You’ll have to hunt animals for food, look for berries / mushrooms in the environments, even take a nap when your energy runs low (and the coast is clear, natch). Customizable perks can mitigate some of this, or give you an advantage in other instances. A playable tutorial acquaints you with the basics, and a few matches in, you’re already (mostly) a pro.

Foraging for food applies to your weaponry and equipment as well. The randomly-drawn world contains scattered loot chests, holding a number of swords, guns, grenades, and armor, among dozens of other useful (and sometimes not-so-useful) items. You can equip new clothing to your character, playing dress up and giving a boost to certain stats, or go the ‘hypochondriac’ route and carry around a stockpile of food and / or healing items in your backpack.

All of these items are coded according to quality, including rare and epic weapons / equipment. You can draw a Ghillie suit from one, say, or a pirate outfit and eye patch from another. Night-vision goggles will give you an edge at night, as do torches, and there’s even a Harry Potter-style map that fills in as you walk and tracks other players in real-time4. While exploration and improvisation are key, combat is inevitable. To that end, the game has a ‘sudden death’ option, speeding up the fight as the dome slowly closes in on you (pro tip: don’t mess with the dome) and the other combatants.

Survival Games Season 1 - Screen2

The resulting gameplay is incredibly dynamic, allowing for a number of clever events’ and firefights. Just take this montage of moments I’ve had with the game so far— 1. Finding a hidden weapons cache behind a waterfall, Zelda-style. 2. Setting up a bear trap just inside the house I was sleeping in, killing my would-be intruder. 3. Lighting a campfire in an open field at night, then hiding in the woods and waiting for players to show up and ambush them. 4. Being killed by the very same wildcat I was hunting just a moment prior to my death. 5. C4 on a castle bridge = awesome escape from other players.

Of course, all of this requires a community to be effective, and Survival Games has the beginnings of one. As host, you can tweak a number of game factors, including starting loadouts, map size, player counts, and modifiers to the hunger / sleep component. On the flip side, this amount of choice, as well as its ambitious design, comes with some serious drawbacks. I was routinely dropped from matches (particularly those with more players), the game crashed on me a few times, and there’s noticeable lag that can pop up at any time. These issues will undoubtedly be settled in future updates, but it’s worth noting the game is far from perfect in its current form.

Online hiccups and other issues aside, Survival Games Season 1 is the best reason in a long time to come back to XBLIG. While its options and game modes may ultimately be finite, its more unique elements and random outcomes promise almost limitless possibilities. Fun is a constant. If you have a dollar, a few friends, and a bit of patience, you owe it to yourself to spend it here.


  1. The book, anyway. It’s 1,000 pages long, but an excellent read. I can’t vouch for the ongoing TV series. 
  2. I’m sure there’s plenty of mods / tweaks for Minecraft on PC that do this already, but it’s a console first, as far as I know. Yes, Avatar Survival Games did the Hunger Games first, but nowhere near the size and scale that’s on display here. 
  3. I regularly found games with five to six players, even a few that ran up to ten(!). By XBLIG standards, this is good. 
  4. Mischief managed. 

REVIEW: DownGate Deathmatch

One of the better games to come out of the last Indie Uprising was XenoMiner. Undoubtedly, new takes on Minecraft have been done to death, but in giving the game an extraterrestrial base and a heavy survival aspect, it managed to eek out a niche. Though it was successful on its own, and plenty of updates / add-ons have been released, developer Gristmill Studios is taking a stab at something different for its latest, DownGate Deathmatch ($1.00).

DownGate Deathmatch - Screen

And what better way to broaden your audience (and earn a little extra revenue) than with a first-person shooter set in that same universe, right? Right? Well, that is the plan. You see, combining FPS and Crafting is old hat, too, leaving DownGate Deathmatch in the precarious position of having to prove itself equal to (or better than) existing examples, or risk looking like a cheap, me-too knock-off.

Taking stylistic inspiration from classic run-and-gun types like Unreal and Quake, the game certainly doesn’t want for options, granting you complete customization over your choice of ExoDrone (that’s fancyspeak for ‘Space Marine’). You really can be a beautiful, unique snowflake in space. From class designation to outer appearance, to weapons, equipment, perks, and even ammo type, the total number of possible outfit combinations is impressive.

Ditto for the traversal options once you’re in-game. DGD supports up to sixteen players online, and the maps are at once intimidatingly-large and expansive enough to accommodate the number of players. You can remove and / or add blocks to create defenses. Jet-packs can get you both vertical and around the level in a hurry, while gravity boots can literally change your perspective of the world on the fly, with the floor becoming the ceiling and vice-versa. All of which introduces several different ways to play.

DownGate Deathmatch - Screen2

…but not the first-person shooter you need.

Unfortunately, all the front-end work and thrilling bits sound better on paper. In practice, it plays average at best, with the crafting and gravity features reduced to novelty tricks. Combat lacks oomph!, and hit detection is non-existent, making it impossible to tell if you’re doing damage to other players. When you can find them, that is. The transient nature of online lobbies means you likely won’t find more than two or three players at a time (thus making the maps too big), while the terrible single-player AI guarantees you won’t have much fun solo either.

If you could judge a game purely by its possibilities and eagerness to please, DownGate Deathmatch would rank highly. To do so would be ignoring some pretty serious faults, though, and the fact that the game simply pales in comparison to other titles like it. It looks the part, but feels like a clunky, bland-playing FPS that does little to help or expand the universe it is set in.

REVIEW: Giant Hunter

Noticing how feeble we are as Humans in relation to, say, ten-story-tall dragons, or skinless Titans, is kinda back in vogue. As is the art of taking down said monstrosities, and scoring one for the little guys. Sony’s own recently-re-released Shadow of the Colossus is the crème de la crème of an interactive David versus Goliath, and plenty of king-sized homages to the game have already been made in Minecraft-ian boxes. As for a fight, Giant Hunter ($1.00) turns that blocky prospect into reality.

Giant Hunter - Screen

‘Hunting’ at night; cool, but not advised.

Though you have to mine materials in order to craft weapons and tools, it’s not a chore or the game’s focus. To damage a giant, you need a crossbow made of wood, and explosive arrows. Using the ‘village’ as your home base and safe zone (some rather annoying bandits roam the countryside at night), you can dig and find all the necessary components in under a half hour.  After you’ve crafted enough items to sustain you, you’re ready to set off and look for your first giant. Following the ‘lighted’ beacons on the tops of surrounding hills will lead you to them.

Much like the terror you felt the first time seeing a colossus come into view, your first encounter with a Giant is pretty awe-inspiring. Suitably epic, for blocks, that is. Shaking your screen, roaring its disapproval, and smashing the landscape with each move (do watch your step; the craters left behind can trap you), the giants can make for a tough and intimidating fight. You won’t be scaling these beasts, however, just shooting some very noticeable weak points. While their ‘skin’ is otherwise impenetrable, you’ll see each giant has orange blocks over certain areas of its body, signaling where to hit it with your explosive arrows.

Sounds easy enough, but given the ‘shifting’ nature of the giants as they walk, your target areas are constantly in flux. Some strategy is required. You will have to circle around enemies to gain perspective and sometimes retreat after hitting them, given the giants’ penchant for chasing you down and stomping you into dust. Giant Hunter‘s continue system is forgiving, respawning you at the site of your death, though you will lose your equipped item. Once you’ve felled a giant, you must ‘mine’ their heartstone and place it on the altar back at the village. Doing so allows you to upgrade your characters’ attack, speed, or mining prowess.

Giant Hunter - Screen2

The game does support online co-op up to four, although hunting with friends may lessen the experience and challenge. It’s best to move onto that after finishing the game solo. After you’ve taken down the five different giants, you’re left on your own to craft or build (the game uses limited block styles) as you like. A tad anti-climatic after the battles you’ve seen, but at least it’s something to do for any budding world-builders.

What Giant Hunter does best, though, is faithfully recreate the thrill of a fight with an enemy several times larger than you. With the mining / crafting of your arsenal beforehand, and the buildup to each encounter, it’s a welcome hybrid of two game’s styles that completely succeeds in its mission.