Game Review: Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition

I haven’t played a good RTS for a long while. It is a genre of game that doesn’t get a lot of love these days, especially on consoles. I grew up playing RTS games. The likes of Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, Mega-Lo-Mania and the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, were games that swallowed my free time as a teenager. Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is an RTS game on consoles, developed by Gentlymad Studios and published by Assemble Entertainment.

“In 2021, a group of terrorists blew up nuclear power plants around the world and plunged the world into chaos. Only few were able to escape into underground facilities called “Endzones”. 150 years later, mankind returns to the surface – under your command! In an extremely hostile environment full of radioactivity, contaminated rain, extreme climate change, and people dreaming of a better life, you’ll have to prove your worth as a leader. Dedicate yourself to great ideas and guide your people into a period of prosperity and new inventions.”


So then, as the blurb up there tells you. You are leading your people and fighting for survival following nuclear fallout. Though I mentioned a few RTS games in the intro up there, they were mainly ‘construct buildings and attack your opponents’ type titles. However, Endzone: A World Apart plays more like a SimCity  crossed with The Settlers RTS game over a build an army and destroy your enemies one. Though there are a few fights in this, they are not the focus. Here, your main goal is simply to survive and keep your little peeps happy. The main gameplay with Endzone: A World Apart centres around town management and maintenance.

Begin with a bare basic settlement and a few civilians and start out by gathering the essentials. Water is always a good thing to have and certainly a much-needed commodity. So, build a jetty on a body of water so your people can gather water. Then you’ll need a cistern to store your water for use. Still, before all of that, you’ll need builders and water carriers. See, that is just one resource, something as simple as water and you already have several elements that you need to manage to obtain and maintain it. Times that by the many other resources in the game, 90-odd buildings, the numerous jobs your little people will have to do and you have a pretty involving game here.


Endzone: A World Apart is not a simple game at all. Let me put it this way, this comes with a tutorial that will take you a good few hours to reach the end of, in itself. Your town can grow from that bare basic settlement, to a bustling mini-metropolis over time. Time that you will be spending by managing and micro-managing every single aspect of your town as your lead your people to survive everything that a post-nuclear fallout brings.

Check the land for radiation and moisture to see if it will make good farmland to grow crops, decide which crops to grow, research new buildings and tech, rediscover electricity and more. Your people will soon start to have children that will need education, so you’ll need to keep on top of that and build a school. Your population will grow and so, you’ll need more buildings and better resources to keep everybody happy. Endzone: A World Apart just keeps throwing layer upon layer at you, unpacking more for you to do and manage as you play. As I say, this is more like SimCity or The Settlers than a Command & Conquer RTS, so you really do need your best management head on.


Now, Endzone: A World Apart was released last year on PC. This updated console version, Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is the base game, all of the DLC and a few other tweaks to help with smoother play via a controller on consoles. Outside of the standard survival mode, you also get several scenarios to play around with, each with their own stories to follow. The game also comes with some impressive difficulty setting options where you can tailor pretty much every aspect of the game to find a setting that will suit your gameplay style.


Coming with a hefty £45 price tag, but that price does include a piece of DLC and this is a huge game that will eat up many an hour. Still, there are actually two DLCs available and you really would think this version would have all of the DLC, especially at this price. Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is not a game that everybody will enjoy. It is slow, methodical and you do have to take a lot in. The tutorial is very in-depth but it’s also pretty imperative to play through… which can take a good while. This is a very deep and involving city-building RTS and these things just plod along at a slow and steady pace. So if you are looking for something with a bit more ‘action’ then you’re just not going to find it here. However, if you do have a soft spot for an in-depth RTS game (on console), then you’ll be hard pushed to find one much better than Endzone: A World Apart. A recommendation from me if you don’t mind that £45 dent to your wallet.

Game Review: Deadly Days

I’m a gamer with a wide and eclectic taste in gaming genres. I like simulations that require your full attention. I like story-driven titles that demand that you keep up with the plot. I like puzzle games that test the old noodle and more. But sometimes, you’re just in the mood to shoot the crap out of anything that moves. From developer Pixelsplit and publisher Assemble Entertainment comes such a game. This is Deadly Days.

Okay, so this isn’t quite just shoot anything that moves… though you most definitely do that. There’s actually quite a decent amount of strategy and thought going on in Deadly Days too. But before I get to all of that, a (very) quick synopsis of the plot.

So, a fast-food franchise called MKing have introduced a new burger. This burger has a top-secret ingredient that is super addictive and keeps the customers coming back for more. Oh yeah, it also turns people into zombies that just want more and more meat, even if it’s human meat. Soon, most of the world becomes infected and you find yourself in a zombie apocalypse. There’s only one thing to do… survive and kill countless zombies. Okay, two things to do. Oh and destroy the burger restaurants to try and stop the zombies. Three things then.


Right of the bat, this game is rock solid hard. You will die and die and die and die and die… a lot. Thankfully, this is a rogue-lite game, so even though you will die (a lot), you’ll carry over some elements from previous attempts. As for how it plays and the basic gameplay? Well, do you remember the classic Cannon Fodder from Sensible Software? If so, it plays a lot like that. If you don’t remember Cannon Fodder, it still plays a lot like it.

You control a small team of survivors and you have one in-game day to leave the safety of your camp to go and scavenge what you can to stay alive. Aside from shooting endless zombies, and they are endless. You’ll have to search buildings, etc to find anything to keep yourself alive. Your main source of income is scrap. You use this scrap to repair and upgrade weapons and skills… of which there are loads. You’ll also need to keep a steady supply of apples too as these are your food that will keep you from dying of starvation. As an example, let’s say you have four survivors in your team but only two apples in your camp, then two of your survivors will die at the end of the in-game day.


At the start of each day, you get to select from three randomly generated missions. These vary from basic scavenge ones, to rescuing a survivor to join your team, specific building raids (warehouse, hospital, supermarket) and even missions to destroy one of the burger restaurants turning people into zombies. When/if you do manage to take out one of the burger places, you’ll be given a piece of a map. Get all four pieces of the map and locate the source of the infected burgers and destroy it to win.

Then, each of the missions have their own statistics that you’ll need to keep an eye on too. Map size, how much loot and difficulty are all displayed before you pick a mission. Then, missions can also feature random events that you will have to contend with. There may be a special zombie on the map that will drop some impressive rewards if you manage to kill it, maybe they’ll be an abandoned bus with extra loot? Maps can hold either nice and rather unpleasant bonuses, there may be a map with an abundance of apple trees for you to gain some much-needed food, or the map could be overrun with rats that will continually attack you. There really is a lot to think about when you do pick your mission at the start of each day. I mean, let’s say you are running low on apples. It might be a good idea to go for a high loot map or one with a supermarket to raid, as this will increase the chances of scoring more apples. This is where some of that strategy I previously mentioned comes into play. You really have to plan and think about your next move like a chess player, think if the risk is worth the possible gain. Even though the core of the game is shooting hundreds of zombies, there’s still a decent level of strategy here.


When on a mission, you only get 1:30 of real-time before night comes. The time limit is tight and you may have to pick and choose what to loot as the bigger the building, the longer it takes to search it, which will eat up your very limited time. But going for bigger buildings will get you more and better loot. Plus, there’s the fact that most of the maps (unless you get one with a bonus) are shrouded in that classic gaming trope a fog of war, so you also need to uncover the map as you go. It really becomes a balancing act of you between trying to grab the loot you need to stay alive and trying to get out alive. See, when the day ends and night falls, the zombie presence increases and they get stronger. The longer you stay out at night, the more numerous and stronger the zombies become. You’ll soon be overwhelmed, so you really don’t want to spend too much time on the maps at night if you can help it.

To escape each map, you need to get back to the bus that you arrived in. Even something as simple as that is not that simple. When you first arrive on a map, your bus needs to ‘cool down’ before it can be used again, then you have to start the engine and that takes several seconds too. So even just getting back on the bus to escape eats into your very limited time. How the game actually plays when on the map and killing zombies is very much like the previously mentioned Cannon Fodder. Move your small team around the map, shoot zombies, buildings and scenery, etc. The controls are simple and basic. Your team will actually auto-attack, though you can also directly control that yourself with the touch of a button. Press a button to loot a building, other buttons use the various skills. Very simple, very basic but very effective and the controls really do work well.


When back at your camp (if you survived), there are numerous things to mess around with. Any new weapons you found will need to be repaired with the scrap that you (hopefully) salvaged. Then, any unwanted weapons can be turned into spare scrap too. You also have different skills that can be upgraded and at the start of every new game, you get to choose from one of three (and one locked) skill sets. The more you play and survive, the more you’ll unlock on each of those skill sets. You can also build various rooms that will add numerous bonuses, upgrades and weapons.

The game is very fast and frantic. I died a lot without even finishing one map at first. But the more I played, the more I got used to the game’s mechanics, everything soon began to fall into place. The balance between trying to loot all you can to survive and trying to get out alive is tight but fair. Visually, Deadly Days has that pixel-art style that is very popular with indie games right now. Though the maps can tend to feel a bit ‘samey’ after a while as most of the action takes place in the same city. Even though the maps are randomly generated, you’ll still see the same assets over and over. There is some slight variation depending on the mission you choose at the start of each day, but not a great deal.


To finish, do I recommend Deadly Days? First, it is price-tag time and this one is currently being sold for around £16/$19 on consoles (slightly cheaper on Steam). For that cost, you do get a lot of game for your money and this is really addictive with that ‘one more go’ feel to it. However, I do need to reiterate how damn difficult Deadly Days is. This is a rogue-lite and they are notoriously tricky-dicky with hundreds of deaths and game over screens before you make any serious progress. Still, I do love a good rogue-lite and I think this is up there with the best of them. There’s loads of gameplay to be had here from trying to survive the maps to the fuck-tonne of weapons, skills, upgrades and base building to experiment with too.

When I first played this, I admit to not really feeling it. As much as I love a good rogue-lite, Deadly Days just was not doing anything for me. Still, after a couple of hours, I was hooked. The game began to make a lot more sense the more I played, the more I mastered the day/night cycle of the main action. The more I experimented with the various skills and dabbled with the upgrades. As I began to unlock more weapons, items and survivors, Deadly Days just clicked. Yes, I recommend this to those who, like me, enjoy a good rogue-lite with a steep learning and difficulty curve. This may be as hard-as-nails, but it’s also immersive and immense fun.

Game Review: The Innsmouth Case

The text-adventure game is almost as old as gaming itself, it is also a genre that is pretty much dead now. For those not in the know, a text-adventure was a genre that was basically an interactive book. Lots of reading and you would guide your character via typing in commands on the keyboard. Occasionally, they would even feature graphics at the top of the screen to accompany the many written words They generally looked like this…


I owe quite a lot to those old text-adventure games as I learned to read and write from them far more than I ever did in school. I guess you could say that those games kick-started my love for writing. Anyway, with the text-adventure genre being all but dead, you don’t really expect developers these days to be making them. I present for your eyes The Innsmouth Case from Robot Pumpkin Games and Assemble Entertainment. An old-school text-adventure with a very strong H.P. Lovecraft vibe. As the game is described:

“A desperate mother, a missing girl and a mystical place – a case could hardly be more challenging. To solve the enigmatic disappearance of little Tabitha Marsh, however, the toughest and cleverest detective of all is wanted… but he does not have the time – and so the job goes to you. This mysterious assignment takes you to the remote fishing village of Innsmouth, where nothing is what it seems…

Save the girl, solve the case, survive Innsmouth!

The Innsmouth Case is a detective adventure in the style of an interactive book inspired by the fantastical works of horror legend H.P. Lovecraft. The unique mixture of horror and humor makes The Innsmouth Case the first scary-comedy-text-adventure of its kind. A game in which every decision counts, and there is far more than one way to successfully solve the case… or fail miserably!”

So yeah. This is some old, old, incredibly old-school gaming right here. No mass open-world maps, no gaining XP and levelling up. Just you, a book and lots of text. I mean, this is what a typical screen looks like in The Innsmouth Case.


Yup, that’s it, that is your view for the entire game. A small picture (sometimes animated), text to read and then you get to pick from a number of options as to what to do and say. I guess this is very much like a classic Choose Your Own Adventure styled book… in digital form. What Robot Pumpkin Games have done is take a lot of what makes Lovecraft’s work so popular and famous, to then parody it. The more OTT and excessive elements of Lovecraft’s writing are played up for laughs in this game. That parodying and making fun of in The Innsmouth Case isn’t at all malicious or nasty either, it all feels very genuine as coming from a place of love and respect. Everything adds up to a very well-written and brilliantly observed satire of Lovecraft. A melding of old-school gaming, Choose Your Own Adventure and of course, H.P. Lovecraft.

While the basic look, style and graphics for the game are well… basic, they’re also very well done and presented. The characters you will meet and interact with have this cartoony, caricature, grotesqueness aesthetic to them. Kind of like the stuff that Tim Burton used to do before he went crap. The whole art style is deliciously deformed and what starts out as a simple find a missing girl case for the down on his luck private detective you play as, soon evolves into a wonderful, multiple-branching path story that gives you plenty to play around with. When you do finally arrive in the town of Innsmouth, the story hits high gear and the bizarre but sublime characters really come into their own.

As this is a game with a branching story narrative, some of those paths can lead to certain death. Not to worry as you won’t have to start your story from the beginning as The Innsmouth Case includes a kind of checkpoint system where you can go back and try a different path. Pretty much every decision you make in the game will affect how the story pans out and lead to multiple different endings. So even when you do see the end credits, there’s plenty of reason to go through the whole thing again and try a few different things. If there is one niggle I have with this idea, then that is that the whole multiple paths and endings thing means that the story is relatively short. So, the mileage you’ll get from the game will most definitely stem from whether or not you’re likely to want to play through multiple times. Personally speaking, I do. Still, it would’ve been great if there was more than one case/story in the game for you to enjoy.


With a £12.49 (Xbox), £11.99 (PlayStation) price tag, the game will most definitely split opinion. Not everyone will appreciate the slow pace, constant reading and Choose Your Own Adventure style gameplay. For me, I loved every second of The Innsmouth Case and the game really took me back to tapping away on my Commodore 64 keyboard, playing those text-adventure games that I loved so much back then. It’s an interesting take on Lovecraftian lore, a well that many games have drawn from in the past. Usually in the overused survival-horror and FPS genre of games. Yet The Innsmouth Case does something rather unique with H.P. Lovecraft’s work that is deeply rooted in classic gaming history. Very much recommended from me, though I do know that this is very much a niche game that most probably won’t click with a lot of people like it has with me.

Game Review: Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice

Man, I’ve not played a Leisure Suit Larry game for ages. To be honest, I didn’t even know they were still being made. When this came up for review, I jumped at the chance for two reasons. First, I really needed a laugh after some particularly bad news recently. Second, I wanted a trip down memory lane. I remember my older brother having the first Larry game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, back in the eighties. For those not in the know, it was a graphic-adventure game from Sierra. Now, Sierra made some brutal adventure games, they were famed for their deaths and would punish you if you didn’t save regularly. I mean, here’s a screenshot of the very first screen of the first game back in 1987:


If you walked into the road, a car would run you over and kill you, within seconds of starting the game. Aside from the numerous deaths that were hardly ever pre-warned. The game was a bit ‘risque’ shall we say? The basic plot had you playing as Larry Laffer, a fast-approaching middle-aged loser of a man who is still a virgin, an issue he wants to correct ASAP. Yup, the game was basically you trying to get Larry laid. There were five women in the game that Larry could ‘woo’ in his own unique style. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was quite infamous back then for its adult content.

The pixelated nudity and sex that the game offered is really quite tame by today’s standards. But it caused all sorts of outrage back in 87, with many places refusing to sell the game due to its adult nature. Anyway, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards went on to be a hit and spawned a very successful franchise with numerous sequels over the years. The last one I remember playing was Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work… Which was very confusing at the time as there never was a Larry 4 game. The lack of a fourth game is kind of weaved into the plot of the fifth one in a little meta humour thing. As I said, the fourth (fifth) game was the last Larry title I played, and that was back in 1991. So I’ve not really kept up with the series for a long time now.

Anyway, from developer CrazyBunch and publisher Assemble Entertainment comes the latest in the very long-running franchise, Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice. This is a direct sequel to the previous game, Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry, from 2018… Which I never played. But this new game starts out with a recap of previous events to get you up to speed with the plot. Speaking of which, Larry is stranded on the exotic island of Cancúm (this is about as highbrow as the humour gets in these games by the way). Facing a forced marriage to the island’s chief’s daughter, Larry yearns to be with his true love Faith. Now, Faith has gone missing, following the events of the previous game. So Larry sets out to find her… And that’s basically it for the plot.

As I previously touched on, these Larry games are rather smutty and very lowbrow. It really is puerile and childish humour throughout these games, even though they are aimed at adults. Now, I’m not actually knocking that at all, I love all that stuff. Just pre-warning those that do not know just how salacious and indecent the game can be. I mean, if you just look at some of the background details of the graphics, you’ll see rocks and plants shaped like cocks. As an example, there’s a part in the game where you have to help a giant vagina plant grow and ‘blossom’.


So don’t expect any deep and meaningful content here. This is knob gags and boob references from start to end. Sticking with the original game’s graphic adventure gameplay, this sequel is very much one of those classic point ‘n click type games, a genre that is sadly vastly overlooked these days. As for the more direct sexual content of this, Larry does get his end away with a few of the women in the game and that sex is shown too. Only it is very cartoon and comical, usually ‘censored’ by foreground graphics so you don’t see any ‘details’. No digital nipples or intimate lady bits here (unless used as a joke to grow a giant vagina plant…). The sex is more on the funny side over actually being sexual. But despite the smut, the main thing to ask is if the game is actually any good?


Quite honestly, I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. There are a couple of very ‘stubborn’ puzzles in the game that really had me looking for a walkthrough online out of frustration. One involving a very infuriating maze-thing near the end that just drags on and on. Then there’s a Flappy Bird parody mini-game that’s even more annoying than Flappy Bird ever was, thankfully it is skippable. But generally speaking, I didn’t have too much of an issue getting to the end credits and more often than not, a little lateral thinking got me past some of the more taxing puzzles.


If you’re used to how these graphic adventure games work, then you should slip into Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice with relative ease. The graphics are bright and bold and there’s a nice gameplay feature that allows you to highlight items on the screen that can be used/picked up. This really helps you to progress through the game with  none of the ‘click everything on the screen’ tactics we used to use back in the good old days. The controls using a pad (I played the Xbox version) overall work very well, with various shortcuts to save you moving a cursor all over the screen and wasting a lot of time.

Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice is not just crammed with not at all subtle innuendo and sexual references, it also has some really well-placed references to classic games of the same genre. The likes of The Secret of Monkey Island and others get some (non-copyright infringing) nods and in-jokes… See the three-headed monkey in the pic above. If you’re a fan of the point ‘n click adventure game, especially the classics, then you’ll definitely get a lot more of the jokes. The humour (as covered) is very lowbrow stuff, but I really got a good few laughs out of it. Stupid and puerile sure, but still funny. There’s meta humour, 4th wall breaking jokes and pop culture references (most of which have dated badly I admit), all mixed in with the knob gags.

I was actually ready to really lay into this, tear it apart, call it out for being an outdated dinosaur, release a lot of vitriol onto its dated and immature gameplay… But I just can’t. I actually ended up really enjoying myself. Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice is a really good graphic-adventure game. As I previously mentioned, I’ve not kept up with this franchise and not played a Larry game in three decades now. But I am genuinely impressed with how CrazyBunch have revived the franchise and kept its style and tone pretty much consistent, all while making a very playable game. The sexual content isn’t as impactful as it was back in 1987, what with the fact you can see as much sex and nudity as you want thanks to the interwebs now. So, whereas the original Larry game really caused some controversy over its content back then, the same can’t be said for the modern-day and it all comes across as very mild now… Still funny though.

Overall, Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice is a funny and worthwhile point ‘n click game worth seeking out if you’re a fan of the genre, and especially if you’re a fan of Larry Laffer and his antics.