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Donut County – Review

Donut County is a unique indie puzzler, featuring an adorable racoon intent on stealing trash and a town full of animal residents just waiting to be stolen from. Released over a year ago, does this award-winning indie adventure still hold up, or does age expose some previously unseen holes?

A hole lot of fun:


The player is dropped intoin the life of BK, a young racoon who has recently landed a new job at a start-up company that collects trash by the careful manoeuvring of portable remote control holes. Each level begins with the player clicking somewhere to summon a hole which, although initially tiny, gradually grows and grows in size with the more objects (and even unlucky Hole County residents!) that end up sucked into it.

Larger holes reward your progress by allowing you to swallow even larger objects which in turn help to increase the size of your hole, creating a supremely satisfying gameplay loop. This satisfaction is further amplified by the fact that your hole-size is reset in-between each of the self-contained sandbox levels. Working your way up from a tiny rabbit-hole that struggles to suck up even a few blades of grass to a colossal sink-hole that effortlessly absorbs entire skyscrapers just doesn’t get old no matter how many times it is repeated.

As the game progresses, you gradually unlock new abilities for your hole – such as a catapult which allows the player to hurl certain objects back into the air. These are used to facilitate the majority of the puzzles found throughout the game. Whilst these puzzles are not particularly difficult, even I who considers myself extremely puzzle-inept never had to resort to an online guide, they are spread-out enough and provide just the right level of mental stimulation to keep what would otherwise be a fairly simplistic game engaging throughout.

Heart and design:


A soothing yet upbeat soundtrack compliments Donut County‘s pleasing pastel aesthetic which is just soft enough to evoke feelings of calm and warmth yet still vibrant and quirky. It’s a perfect fit, and one that makes playing a highly relaxing experience. Although minimalist in design, levels each have their own unique and memorable look – usually matching the personality or appearance of their associated characters. Moving from a rural countryside farm to the likes of a desert to a city street helps provide a much needed pallet swap every now and then.

This colourful coat of paint makes Donut County perfect for younger gamers. It’s not too difficult, and they would certainly enjoy the charming design and appreciate the pleasing tactility of the physics engine.

This colourful coat of paint makes Donut County perfect for younger gamers. It’s not too difficult, and they would certainly enjoy the charming design and appreciate the pleasing tactility of the physics engine.

Not without its holes:


I found these cut scenes often overstayed their welcome – an issue amplified by the lack of voice acting. Reading dialogue boxes accompanied by randomised babble, à la Animal Crossing, simply isn’t engaging enough to carry a game that tries to focus so heavily on story. Sometimes the humour was a little jarring too. In comedy it’s natural that for every laugh, there are a couple of jokes that fall flat. In most circumstances is not an issue but when the vast majority of dialogue is comprised of jokes, it starts to feel like every other line is yet another wearisome punchline.

There are also long “texting” scenes in which you sit and watch your character receive SMS messages, stirring occasionally to either send a duck emoji (which does nothing) or clicking a single on-screen prompt to reply. Without the colourful aesthetic of the over world or the animated bouncing of characters to keep your mind occupied, these scenes are quite frankly monotonous. They also seem like a bit of a missed opportunity. Implementing an option to choose which reply you send would be a great way to add a small element of replayability to the game.

This lack of replayability is probably the biggest issue with Donut County. Clocking in at slightly over two hours, this short length is simply not enough content for the over £10 PC price-tag and the total lack of replayability and reliance on a linear story makes this a title harder to recommend than it otherwise would be.

The hole picture:


Despite its flaws, Donut County is nevertheless a charming and memorable adventure. In spite of the fact it may struggle a little to wholly justify its hefty price-tag at its rustiest points, frequent half-price sales since launch make this title just a little too tempting to pass up, even for those who don’t feel wholly convinced. As a little bonus, the low seasonal sale prices make Donut County a great option as a Christmas gift for your Steam friends.

Speaking of sales, as if by magic, Donut County is on a half-price discount for a few days! You can check it out by clicking on the link below.

3 great mobile titles the challenge the stereotypes

As I’m sure you’re aware, our mobile app, the Arcadeberry – Mobile Website Hub, has recently launched for Android and Amazon devices! Although we’d highly recommend you immediately go and download our app (you can even pick up reading this very article on it!), all this talk of mobile apps has got us thinking:

It’s an unfortunate fact that the mobile game app market has quite the poor reputation, especially on the gaming front. It’s an even more unfortunate fact that this reputation is actually quite well deserved. Most mobile titles are vacuous, surface-deep money-grabs. With countless asset flips and endless in-app purchases, many of us have simply just given up trying to find good games on the appstore.

That’s why we decided to wade into the practically infinite appstore library to try and pick out some diamonds in the rough. Although there a certainly more great games to be found on the appstore, and this list is definitely not exhaustive, these three great titles might be a place to start rebuilding your trust with mobile gaming.


3: GameStart Pixel Battle

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Price*: Completely free

Developer: Eliphant

It may have just been released as a little promotion for GameStart, a Southeast Asian gaming convetion, but GameStart Pixel Battle is actually a surprisingly excellent game.

You play as Alyse, the convention’s mascot, in a battle against a mysterious figure who has been sabotaging games. There’s a plethora of levels to play and numerous unique playable characters to collect as you go. If you’ve played any Mega Man title, you’ll likely be familiar with Pixel Battle‘s blend of 2D side-on running and gunning.

It’s not surprise considering the fact the developer, Seow Zonghui, worked on the Capcom endorsed fan-project Street Fighter X Mega Man. Pixel Battle may just be a Mega Man game at heart, but it’s an excellent Mega Man game at that. Best of all, it’s a Mega Man game you can carry around in your pocket, and is downloadable completely for free! That’s right, no pesky in-app purchases or even a single advert to be found.

With a small file size of 50M, GameStart Pixel Battle is a great little offline title to keep on your phone for when you need your gaming fix out and about.

You can click here to open GameStart Pixel Battle on Google Play.

 


2: Cytus II

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Price*: £1.79

Developer: Rayark Iternation Limited

Set in the near future, Ctyus II takes us to cyTus – an online virtual city – in the shoes of Aesir, a famous DJ hosting a virtual concert.

A solid rhythm game which has players frantically tapping notes as they pop up on their screens, Cytus II features 35 base game songs from a variety of composers and in countless genres. With electronica, rock and even classical music to choose from, Cytus II offers something for everyone.

Although the game does include song pack purchases, with which you can expand your repertoire, these are wholly optional. You nevetheless get an awful lot of high quality content for the entry price of £1.79. The music is great, and songs offer different levels of difficulty and a comprehensive scoring system which both serve to offer much replayability. If you want a cheap and cheerful mobile ryhthm game to keep you occupied on the go, you don’t get much better than this.

You can click here to open Cytus II on Google Play.


1: OXENFREE

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Price*: £3.89

Developer: Night School Studio

A gripping mystery set on a dark island, OXENFREE is like the adventures of The Famous Five gone horribly, horribly wrong.

The plot is excellent and, as it is best experienced first-hand, I will try and keep details to a minimum. Just be sure it’s intense and excellently written with a handful of shocking and memorable moments.

Although a strictly linear game, your dialogue choices offer a comprehensive degree of choice and a variety to your play sessions. The game is easy to control, and presented in a charming and unique graphical style.

Our only complaint with OXENFREE is that it’s just so good you might not be able to put your phone down until you and your friends have uncovered the sinister truth of Edwards Island.

You can click here to open OXENFREE on Google Play.


*Prices are Google Play prices (excluding discounts or sales) as of January 2020.

Soundcore Life P2 – Review


To aid this review, Soundcore Life P2 Headphones were provided free of charge by ANKER


The Soundcore Life P2 is a new release from ANKER‘s subsidiary Soundcore. Despite achieving success as a manufacturer of quality chargers and portable power-banks, ANKER has little experience in the headphone field. Do the Soundcore Life P2s manage to avoid some of the teething problems emblematic of a manufacturer’s first foray into the headphone world and deliver an excellent experience at a budget price?

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What’s in the box?

The Soundcore Life P2‘s relatively compact packaging, approximately 18cm x 10cm x 3.5cm, comes packed with a surprising number of goodies. As expected, the each earbud and their charging case is present, neatly secured in a plastic tray with the charging cable (USB-C). There is also a feedback card, a simple quick start guide and a little booklet of legal documentation in only occasionally dubious English.

The inclusion of ten differently sized rubber eartips is a nice touch. With sizes XS/S/M/L/XL included, pleasingly arranged on little plastic pegs in the packaging, every user is sure to find that perfect fit. It would be great if some manufacturers would learn from ANKER and begin including a larger variety of eartips in their budget, and even sometimes premium, headphones.

Set up:

As the quick start guide would suggest, the set-up process is quick and painless. First, You simply charge up the case with the headphones inside, the LED indicators in both the case and the headphones helpfully tell you their battery life and when they will be ready to pair.

Paring is as simple as removing from the case once they are suitably charged, which prompts the headphones to automatically enter pairing mode, and selecting “Soundcore Life P2” on your phone’s Bluetooth dashboard.

It is worth noting that the instruction manual suggests some phones will have more trouble pairing than others. Due to the “Qualcomm True Wireless Primary-Secondary pairing names”. This means your phone may mistakenly suggest that only one earbud is connected. Luckily, the instruction manual assures us, “it will not influence the using”.

Design and build quality:

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The design of the Soundcore Life P2 is functional, if not a little unoriginal. In the shape of traditional wired earbuds, just without the wires, these headphones will have no trouble staying in your ears. This particular shape is certainly tried and tested and, thanks especially to the plethora of included eartips, will have no trouble staying in your ears.

Despite not be sold as such, the Soundcore Life P2 is an excellent sports headphone. The secure fit makes it hard for them to fly out of your ears, even while performing the most rigorous exercise, and the waterproofing (rated IPX 7) means you won’t have to worry about sweat or other moisture damaging your headphones.

The inclusion of physical buttons, to pause and skip your music, instead of touch sensors also improves this proficiency for sports. Although they can sometimes cause your earbuds to painfully dig into your ears over a long period of use, you won’t have to worry about sweaty hands rendering your headphones unusable

The construction is very light, even including the charging case, which makes carrying them around in a pocket on the go pleasingly unobtrusive. The light earbuds also contribute to the great level of immersion one can have listening to these headphones. It’s quite easy to forget you’re even wearing them, a testament not only to their light weight but also their great in-ear comfort. Just make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself frantically searching your pockets for your headphones when they’re in your ears!

A side effect of this light weight is the plastic construction of the case, which is prone to scratches and scuffs and the fact that the magnetic lid feels somewhat flimsy. Although it’s definitely not overtly fragile, I’m sceptical whether the lid would survive being left open in a bag or a pocket for too long. 

Sound Quality and microphones:

Although sound quality is, to an extent, a matter of personal taste, I found the sound quality to be good overall. It won’t blow you away, but for a budget pair of wireless earbuds it is perfectly pleasant, although the bass does sometimes lack some punch it is made up for in crispness and overall clarity.

The volume goes suitably high and adjusts at good increments, although at the extreme lower end of the volume scale the audio quality does noticeably drop. Luckily, you likely won’t have the headphones on too quiet a setting as the passive noise cancellation leaves a lot to be desired. Despite doing an okay job of drowning out audio, they don’t fair to well  in a particularly loud train car or busy room.

On the other hand, the audio for phone calls is second to none. Featured most predominantly on the front of the box, ANKER is clearly proud of th P2′s “crystal-clear calls” – and for good reason. Our tests, which you can hear below, simulated speech in first a silent and then high-noise environment over a phone call and recorded the results via a second phone. 

In a silent room the quality is incredible and sounds far better than some full-size microphones we’ve tried. The second test, which featured deafening background noise on the speaker’s end demonstrated the excellent noise cancellation. Although there is distortion, it should be considered that the speech was being played amidst painfully load background audio.

If your main concern is how you will sound over the phone, stop reading and buy these headphones immediately – you simply can’t get better than this at this price.

Battery Life:

The battery life amounts to an approximately seven-hour play time, with an additional thirty hours carried in the battery of the charging case. This is more than enough, and means that, with moderate use, you will only have to charge these headphones about once every two weeks.

Charging is done through the included USB-C cable, although any old USB-C cable will of course work. Don’t worry though, if you forget to charge you headphones and need them in a pinch the Soundcore Life P2‘s boast an hour of playback in only ten minutes of charge.

Gaming performance:

Unfortunately, the separate headphone drivers, which have the left and right earbuds appear as separate Bluetooth devices, makes pairing the Soundcore Life P2 with a desktop PC a hassle. Don’t expect to be able to benefit from the pair’s excellent microphones on your desktop without a bit of fiddling.

However, the mobile gaming performance is superb. There is little latency between the headphones and on-screen action. Playing the excellent mobile rhythm game Cytus II, which is highly dependent on timing, was a blast and the bud’s great microphones let you step up your sound quality in games with in-game voice chat, such as PUBG Mobile.

Verdict:

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Although it certainly won’t win any design awards, the Soundcore Life P2 certainly manages to make up for this in the technical department. The microphone quality is incredible and, for budget earbuds, the sound quality is a good all-rounder. The inclusion of some modern high-end features, including USB-C charging and separate earbud drivers, means that you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck.

How to download and set custom Steam game covers

If you’re like me you absolutely loved the new Steam UI overhaul.With games presented like boxes sleekly displayed on a Blockbuster rental shelf in the bygone days of yore, and a simple click pulling up slick new banner artwork and enhanced social statistics, the new game library is a perfect much needed modernisation of a previously antiquated system.

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In spite of the lovely new design however, some issues still persist. As outlined in this article, some games simply don’t have the required assets yet. Although Steam tries to make do with some auto generated placeholders, this lends itself to a library that looks stilted and uneven. Not to mention the fact that non-Steam games added to your library lack even these placeholders all together.

Luckily, the inclusion of a few key, and very much appreciated, features allows you to fix these annoying inconsistencies. Although it can be a bit of a faff, this simple guide aims to simplify and streamline the process as much as possible.


1: Head over to SteamGridDB and download your covers

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Much like the name would suggest, SteamGridDB is a site that aims to assist in customising your Steam games library (or grid). It contains a wide collection of user-made Steam game assets at your disposal. Some closely mirror their official counterparts, whilst others provide colourful alternatives if you want to give your library a bit of pizzazz.

Even fancier are the animated covers, which are saved in the aPNG (animated PNG) file format – effectively the PNG equivalent of a GIF – and can really help bring your favourite games to life. If you are downloading an aPNG cover the process is no different – so read on.


2: Download your required covers

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Type the title of the game you want to customise into the search bar and hit enter. This will pull up a selection of covers for you to browse. Pick whichever cover you like the best – although for best results we would recommend only using covers listed in the 600×900 resolution – and press the download button.

The cover should save as a simple four digit number. In the case of our Mirror’s Edge cover; “1553”.


3: Apply your selected cover

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Simply located and right click the existing cover you want to replace. Select “Manage” and then press “Set custom artwork”. This opens a windows dialogue box allowing you to choose a file. Navigate to your downloads folder and select the file you have just downloaded and just like that, you have a shiny new cover!

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This process can be used to customise as many games as you would like in your library, and even non-Steam games you have added as links.

Just one last thing to note is that any changes you make to your library artwork are sadly only stored locally. If you log in to Steam on another machine, or reset your operating system, you will lose all of your changes – so be careful!

Receiver 2 promises to bring the most realistic firearms we’ve ever seen to the new decade

We can’t blame you if you missed Wolfire Games 2012 title Receiver. It was given away free of charge with a purchase of their long anticipated rabbit beat-em-up Overgrowth and after waiting almost 10 years for that game to be released, it’s understandable that a lot of players simply overlooked Receiver and left it to collect dust in their steam libraries.

Although at first only created as part of a 7-day game challenge, Receiver manages to be a fun little game that, although understandably lacking in features, is surprisingly revolutionary in what it has.

A series of randomly generated cybperpunk levels in which the player is tasked with collecting a set of tapes provides an excellent framework for the game’s superb gun simulation. In Receiver, your gun is your most important tool – but it’s also the hardest to master. Intricately modelled, each gun operates almost exactly like a real firearm. You can pull back the slides, cock the hammers and even flick the safety switch. With no on-screen UI, the only way to check something as simple as your magazine capacity being to manually remove it, and one-hit kills firefights with your robotic adversaries are short and extremely tense.

Once you’ve mastered all three available weapons and completed a couple of the levels, Reciever does begin to drag and won’t maintain your interest for more than 5 or 6 hours at most. Wolfire have done an admirable job keeping Receiver up to date, with performance fixes and the occasional minor addition to the game. As a tech demo, Receiver is excellent, but lacks far too many features to truly be considered a “fun” game.

As a result, I was ecstatic to see the Receiver 2‘s announcement appear on my feeds seemingly out of the blue. A snazzy trailer showcases vibrantly enhanced graphics rich in floods of primary coloured light and some truly beautiful cyberpunk scenes that put the original’s blocky aesthetic to shame.

Boasting eight new firearms, “including the Beretta 92FS, Colt Single-Action Army, and the iconic Desert Eagle”, and with an increased level of detail, promising to simulate every “single internal mechanism”, Receiver 2 certainly looks like it will turn out a worthy sequel.

turret_shadow.pngI am certainly very excited to see what Wolfire has in store for this sequel, and how they will apply their wonderful gun simulation technology to a game for the new decade!

Releasing in early 2020, you can keep up with Receiver 2‘s progress by adding it to your wishlist here on Steam or by subscribing to the official newsletter.