A busy week this week, with one game that has been played daily without fail since I got it and a pretty decent supporting cast. So let’s get to this week’s indie round up for week 8!

Furnish Master

DEVELOPER: Alex Blintsov
PUBLISHER: Alex Blintsov
Platform: Steam
Steam Deck: Unknown (It plays, but has issues – See below)

Credit: Furnish Master

Since getting into the likes of House Flipper, Powerwash Simulator and the likes, I’ve really found a love for games that are essentially BBC afternoon TV: The Game! Renovate, clean, decorate, etc. What I really like about Furnish Master is that it kind of lays somewhere between those games and also the excellent Unpacking.

Instead of giving you a fully realised 3D first person environment, you instead get presented with some lovely looking dioramas. Within these you are tasked with rearranging and placing furniture, decorating, tidying and more besides. Including some cool little distractions, like needing to find hidden puzzle pieces and complete a puzzle that hang on the wall.

It blends together a freeform experience with that of a puzzle game. There are ways you should complete tasks and progress the game, but there is also a openess that encourages you to play around and discover. I am all for games that are happy to guide you, but also let you have a bit of freedom.

There are issues though. Whilst I like Furnish Master overall I found if a chore to play on the Steam Deck. There are no ‘controller’ options, relying on keyboard and mouse, which isn’t an issue in and of itself, because of the excellent control mapping on the Steam Deck.

The issue comes from an annoying bug where the mouse pointer can disappear at the start of each level and in certain situations. Now for the most part, clicking the ‘left click’ will bring it back and is only mi;d;y annoying. There are situations though where you are forced to use the touch screen on the Steam Deck as that pointer is not coming back. Whilst getting SMS messages being a prime example.

Hopefully something that gets fixed along with getting proper controller support. Because I really like the concept and the moment to moment gameplay. But not being able to relax on the sofa with such a cozy game is a bit of a downer.

Matchmaker Agency

DEVELOPER: Niji GamesMelonCat
PUBLISHER: Soft Source Pte. Ltd
Platform: Steam
Price: £16.75
Steam Deck: Unknown (Fine, but needs controller editing)

Credit: Virtual SEA

So technically this is a little late as I wanted to do this for Valentines, but I forgot it was the 14th, because I don’t actually care. So here we go a week later and time to do some matchmaking!

Matchmaker Agency is a fun concept, where you suck at dating and romancing, so instead you set up an agency to help others find their match! You get a regular conveyor belt of clients who you will read up about and then send them on a date with their ideal match.

MelonCat have created something that whilst not completely unique, manages to blend genres wonderfully. Matchmaker Agency is part visual novel, part time manager, part puzzle (in a way). There is a lot of reading to do here as you get to know the quirky character you will meet, who for the most part are procedurally generated. However there are some unique clients who will have fully fleshed out backstories that are pretty interesting to get into.

The time management comes from finding the match, scouting locations, planning the date and more. It blends really well into thr visual novel stuff and whilst this isn’t a game I will be playing daily, it is one that I would be happy to install and play every now and again.

This comes from thus far not having anything really repeat in terms of what you need to do to get the best match and best outcomes. In addition to the characters you meet all being genuinely interesting, for the most part. There is the odd dud, but that is by design, because not everyone can be a casanova.

I really fun time best played in small doses.


PUBLISHER: Playstack 
Platform: Steam, Switch, Playstation, Xbox
Price: £12 (ish)
Steam Deck: Unknown (It will get verified)

Credit: GameTrailers

I will talk, write, do videos of this throughout the coming year because you literally do not need to read any further than the first paragraph. Balatro is outstanding… buy it now, play it and get sucked in! This game is special!

Still here? Nah I’m now speaking tot he void!

Balatro is a roguelike deck builder based around poker that desrves to stand with the Slay the Spire as a 100% best in show and quite possibly could become standalone the best of all-time in the genre. Because unlike Slay the Spire, Monster Train, etc, Balatro is so much easier to pick up and play.

You see, everyone (not literally everyone of course) understands what a deck of cards is. We get the suits, we get card run from Ace to Kind with an Ace being high or low. We get what a hand is, that you can make a hand with a pair, two pair, all the way up to a royal flush. The basic concept is simple to grasp and therein lies the hook.

You need to go through a series of levels (blinds’ of increasing difficulty, where you must reach a higher score each time to progress, with the odd boss level in there, which adds in special rules designed to hinder you. Such as making certain suits not score at all, or not being able to repeat a hand.

The scoring is simple too. Each hand gets a base score, plus a multiplier. So for example a pair will get 20 points x 2, but you also get the card used added. So essentially a pair of 10s will get you (20+10+10)x2=80. Whereas a pair of 2s will get you (20+2+2)x2=48. The starting blind sees you needing to get 300 points in no more than 4 hands!

A reachable target the moment you use something like a flush or a straight. But which becomes harder as the next level needs you to get 450 points, then the first boss blind 600 points, with a modifier thrown in such as ‘Spades are debuffed’ meaning any spades cannot be used to score card points.

So to combat that you get an absolute myriad of upgrades available. The most common being in the form of ‘Jokers’ which can add bonuses, such as +10 multiplier if your hand contains a pair. So that previously mentioned pair of 10s (20+10+10)x2=80 instead becomes (20+10+10)x12=480. Just with that one Joker card.

There are also tarot cards, planet cards and more which can add other effects such as giving bonuses to individual cards, increasing the scoring level of a hand and much, much, much more. So a pair could go from early in the game getting you 80 points, to later netting you a cool 78,000+

The potential combos you can build feel limitless and the game encourages you to experiment with amazing balancing that means no run ever feels the same as another, but at the same time you learn how to plan and react to the cards you are dealt.

I’ve had a run that saw me get a deck that including 25 spades, as I converted most of my diamonds to spades, which increased my odds of getting a flush, I then upgraded my flsuh hand scor9ing level to like level 9, which meant I got some mega scores. Especially as I buffed numerous cards to give 4x multi, +30 chips, retriggers, +4 multi is scoring cards are even.

A run that made me feel invincible… until I hit a boss blind that debuffed spades and meant I failed miserably. But that gave me the knowledge for next time I got a similar build, picking up a voucher that allowed me to re-roll a boss blind and try to avoid the same thing happening. Yet then getting sucker punched by another modifier that halved my base scoring and multiplier.

Honestly I could go over some of my best and worst runs in Balatro for days and not get bored of telling you all about it. But I leave you with this for now. Just buy Balatro, do not sleep on it, do not second guess yourself. Just get it and enjoy something special!

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