Just about back on track with the weekly Round Up and a couple of games that may well go under the radar, but are well worth a look.

SKALD: Against the Black Priory

DEVELOPER: High North Studios AS | PUBLISHER: Raw Fury
Format: PC | Price: £12.79
Steam Deck: Unknown (Playable enough)

Trying to make a retro inspired game in the modern day can be a difficult balancing act. Especially as you try and appeal to fans of a particular original game, but try and also market to a modern audience. SKALD: Against the Black Priory manages to absolutely nail that balance.

Inspired by 80s RPGs, it hits all the right notes of nostalgia. The 8bit visuals, the core gameplay loop and the sounds all feel and look the part, but what it does really well, is look at which of the restrictions of the day can be sidelined and replaced.

It mixes gothic and Lovecraftian horror perfectly with some really approachable and challenging gameplay that managed to draw me in, in a way I just wasn’t expecting. The party based RPG isn’t usually my thing and I bounce off quite hard.

Yet in SKALD, I found myself coming back daily and having to force myself off to play other games. I would argue, that I found older RPG game a bit impenetrable at times, whether that be the setting, the gameplay or something else. Here though it just get the balance spot on.

I did wonder if this is something that might not resonate with the core crowd, but I have checked other reviews and the overwhelmingly positive reaction on Steam is very much deserved. I don’t think this will make me try more games like it, but SKALD is one that will keep me engaged for a long time yet.

Star Stuff

DEVELOPER: Ánimo Games Studio | PUBLISHER: Astra Logical
Formats: PC | Price £12.79
Steam Deck: Unknown (Perfect on Deck)

If SKALD wasn’t my usual type of game, then Star Stuff is right in my wheelhouse. A puzzle based logic adventure is my jam! Star Stuff is a joyous experience from the very start and will keep you captivated throughout.

There is an element of programming to the core gameplay loop, which could maybe be offputting at first glance, but it is done in a way here that makes it simple to understand and easy to follow. The concept is, that you need to fix a star factory.

This is done by automating bots to perform tasks in individual puzzle based levels. Using programming to give instructions to solve each level. The thing that I really like is that the game encourages trial and error along with using logic. There is no ‘fail state’ as such, which means the game becomes a really relaxing affair.

My main worry was that there would be a lack of variation across the 150 ish levels on offer, but that is far from the case. I found myself having to take a moment to think about my apporach every time and that I could look at new ways to solve.

Star Stuff is one of those games that works well as a family game. I sat with family members, with me at the controls but everyone having input. It did lead to the odd ‘disagreement’ but in the main it felt brilliant to work things out as a family.

We aren’t talking Game of the Year contender of anything like that, but for a few days of pure fun, then this a great game to have and could save you on a boring day during the school holidays.

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