Outer Wilds Review


When I first started playing Outer Wilds I knew exploration was going to be a big focus of the game,  but I did not expect how focused and well implemented exploring would be to its entire gameplay. Every tool you use from your space ship to a fancy alien translator is essential for discovering the mysteries hidden in the Outer Wilds beautiful and dangerous solar system. And be warned: time isn’t on your side.

You take control of an unnamed blue skinned four eyed alien on a planet with fellow aliens like yourself. It’s the day of your first flight day into space. But strange things begin happening after the discovery of a statue of a long dead alien race, known as the Nomai. As soon as you take off a time loop occurs. When you die or go through the universe’s 22 minute time limit the game returns you back to the beginning, after the sun goes supernova, waking up looking at the stars again. 

There is a lot going on in Outer Wilds gameplay-wise. First and foremost, is the time loop mechanic. It is very reminiscent of Majora’s Mask time travel mechanic. You retain what has happened in your last run and you sort of maintain the “progress” you make. And your main form progress in the game is information gathering. 


You can gather said information with the help of three very handy tools. A Nomai translator to read the experiences of a small group who have explored the very same solar system you live in. Much of the information you find is through these translations. 

You are also given a signal scope to pick up on different frequencies you find throughout the solar system. Some of them belong to the fellow travelers of your space organization. Other sounds and signals are of a mysterious rock shard associated with a strange moon that disappears and reappears throughout the solar system.

Lastly you can use the scout launcher, a launchable camera to take pictures of distant places and things. It is particularly useful for places you can’t reach and survey the area. You can explore some even further places and areas of mystery if you find the right clues. 

All of these tools are easy to use and control, comfortably allowing you to explore the solar system. 


They also all help you find information which get added to your ships log. Each discovery you make adds a new ship log entry. These entries are organized into the specific discoveries you’ve made like specific quest entries in other games. Much like real life discoveries and exploration you follow the thread of information to expand each log entry. Outer Wilds is very helpful guiding you subtly to the next clue with notifications and highlighting certain sentences in orange in the entry. 

It’s a very compelling and immersive way of getting the player to explore the world. Seeing the branching connections of your discoveries helps to provide depth to the solar system your exploring and gives you the sense you are uncovering a deep mystery. And with each discovery more questions rise making you want to eagerly explore the next clue to find out more.

I love this method since it helps you when you’re lost, but doesn’t shove a marker on the HUD in your face. This makes less clutter on your HUD and gives you the freedom to switch up priorities, letting you explore as you please.


Outer Wilds solar system is wonderfully rendered in a cel-shaded, cartoon-y look. And well made cel-shading. Each planet is well crafted and unique in its look, making for a small, but well lived in solar system. One planet is cracking apart with a black hole at its core. Another is wracked by storms and covered in oceans. Several of the planets even feature well constructed and beautiful Nomai ruins. 

Outer Wilds is wonderfully successful at using all of its mechanics to make exploration highly rewarding. It makes the moments of discovery on each planet and object in the solar system unique, awe inspiring, chilling, scary, or even perplexing. Outer Wilds maintains such a great level of mystery to its universe it makes you want to explore every bit of it. And it is worth bit of your time to do so.

Image source: mobiusdigitalgames.com press documents

No Man’s Sky Review



*Note: I played the PS4 version of this game which has huge performance differences compared to the PC version.

No Man’s Sky is a game with a very complicated history. Like it or not the game garnered a huge amount of controversy due to the developer and creators over hyped talk of the game as it leads up to launch. And when it finally came out it failed to deliver on most, if not all, of its promises.

My own experience with the game wasn’t nearly as devastating as some folk’s experiences. I kind of enjoyed my time with it, but everything about the game at the time was so shallow I got bored with the game very easily. Since then there have been several free updates and with the release of No Man’s Sky: Next the game received a huge booster to the games overall life and playability. I’m finding myself loving what the game has to offer now that it has reached its full potential. Granted some of it can feel quite tedious at times.

Maybe the only thing that hasn’t entirely been improved in the game is its story. It still feels like background fluff that doesn’t feel like I need to interact with it. The only obligation I ever have to complete the main quest stuff is for the sake of completing tutorials. There is still a ton of mystery behind the story, which can draw players in, but not enough maybe to keep them interested in the game.

There are several new core stories though that you can become involved in however. They are a tad bit more intriguing than the Atlas path, but there is a whole level of tedium that can get frustrating. Especially, having to manage all the games resources to travel between solar systems and planets.

Gameplay is also greatly expanded upon compared to the base game. There is now a whole host of content you can partake in to engage with the game. The five big additions to the game are the base building, freighter/fleet command, mission boards, character customization, and the recently added deep sea exploration.

cozy cabin home
You’re introduced to No Man’s Sky’s base building mechanics very early on in the game. The building mechanics feel very smooth and intuitive as building pieces seamlessly snap together. I only built a simple cabin in the tutorial, but it instantly felt satisfying constructing my own little home out in space.

Further expanding upon your property ownership in the game you’ll be able to own your own freighter ship. You heard correctly you’ll be able to own one of those giant freight ships you saw warping into the system. You’ll be able to dock aboard it, construct rooms with in it and even send ships in your fleet out into the galaxy on missions. These missions can help collect resource, trade items for currency, and even combat missions. And you can expand upon your fleet by recruiting more ships.

There are now mission boards in every space station. You can pick up simple missions you can complete to gain favor with either one of the three races or with the different guilds. It’s a nice bit of side content you can accomplish at your own pace to facilitate both rep and funds. But, nothing new to the concept of a “bounty board”.

my buddy

The final and latest addition to the game is the deep sea exploration. Much like many of No Man’s Sky’s content you are guided through a tutorial quest to learn how to explore and build under water. The base building and crafting are the same as the base you have built on land. You establish your base then start constructing the different parts to make your base. It’s just as intuitive and simple as the regular base building.

But the unique addition you get from the deep sea exploration is the ability to construct and helm your very own submarine called the Nautilon. With your little submarine you can use your sonar to find wreckage of all sorts. Crashed freighters and starships can be found amongst the seaweed and sea life. There are also sunken buildings and ruins down in the deep as well. All which function like space exploration as you discover and search them. You’ll find terminals to hack, items, and new mysteries to uncover. The deep sea exploration adds a nice layer of exploration to those who can’t get enough exploring out in space.

No Man’s Sky FX and music are probably one of the few things to still have no changes made to them. All the games sound and music have all stayed the me since its release as far as I can tell. That being said, they are still immersive and fitting for traveling an expansive sci-fi universe.


The best improvements, or at least the ones I was happiest to see were the visual and graphical improvements that were made to the game. And, holy hell are they huge improvements. There is actual detail and variety in…well, everything. Environments are insanely varied from planet to planet. The games flora and fauna now have defining characteristics instead of copy paste parts just stuck together. They all appear interesting and unique.

And places like space stations are actually populated with other lifeforms. When No Man’s Sky first came out the space stations were sparsely filled with only four to five aliens occupying the station. Now there are about 11-20 with several of them occupying vendors giving the area’s space a feeling of being lived in. And this goes for nearly all the environments in the game. No Man’s Sky’s universe now feels like a fully fleshed out sci-fi galaxy.

Hello Games went ahead and accomplished everything they meant to accomplish when they first showcased the games varied worlds in its first trailer. I can understand those who saw that initial trailer felt mislead.

bright orbs
Horrendous frame drops do happen in the in some of the game’s more intense moments such as entering the atmosphere of a planet or travelling between galaxies. It isn’t massively disruptive to the experience, as the frame dropping goes back to normal after these occurrences. But, it isn’t exactly pleasant to witness either.

No Man’s Sky has finally become what it was meant to be when it was announced three years ago. As someone who enjoyed the basic idea of what the game was about I’m glad that Hello Games fully fleshed out the game to what it was meant to be in the first place. However, I don’t expect to those people who felt lied and cheated to by Hello Games hype, to come around even with the improvements. Sadly, you can’t win everyone over after such an immense screw up on the developer’s part. While I don’t think Hello Games has fully redeemed themselves, No Man’s Sky itself is far better and far more fun. It is fun and worth playing again if you can forgive its past faults.

Moonlighter Review

Developer: Digital Sun

Publisher: 11 Bit Studios

Rogue-lites have very special place in my heart. I love the quick action, immense challenge, and inevitable death. In the end it was met with satisfying reward. But what I remember the most is the quick runs and intense action. In Moonlighter, however, the game decides to take a slightly slower pace and adds an additional layer of gameplay. Because in addition to the dungeon crawling you’ll be managing your own item shop as you search for items on your dungeon runs. All which is beautifully rendered in by some of the best pixel art I’ve ever seen.

moonlighter shopIn Moonlighter, you take the role of a shopkeeper named Will. At night Will moonlights (get it?) as dungeon explorer. He explores these dungeons to collect resources to sell, as well as to create new items to also sell. Will is seeking to get into the fifth dungeon which appears to be important due to how elaborate and big the door is. Of course, Will needs to make his way in there. It isn’t the most exciting or deep storytelling, but it still keeps you engaged.

Moonlighter’s gameplay loop consists of the two different parts of Will’s life: running the shop during the day and dungeon crawling/adventuring at night. You can also adventure during the day, but it means no shop time, which means no money. Also, loot drops aren’t quite as good during the day.

Some items are cursed and may destroy items within a specific direction of an item in your back pack. This creates an additional challenge in managing inventory and getting items back from the dungeon to your shop. It makes for some fun puzzle solving while in dungeons, but it can also unnecessarily slow the game down. For those players who don’t have the patience or attention span for all of this, the gameplay loop can get very tedious.

moonlighter combatMoonlighter’s combat is simple. You have a standard three swing combo no matter the weapon. But, there are plenty of weapons you can either pick up or create to offer a little more variety to the combat. It does take some time to build up the materials to build new weapons. Once again for people who may find this kind of collecting grind very tedious may not have the patience for it.

The selling and shop running in the game are fleshed out and very engaging. Materials you gather in dungeons can be sold in your shop and can be used to create items that you can also sell. Say you have several bits of iron you collected from a dungeon crawl. You can take those to the town blacksmith and have them forged together to create a sword you sell in your shop or use for yourself.

moonlighter inside shopNow you may think you’re all set and you’re a shop running pro, right? Well, Moonlighter has mechanic that makes things a little difficult for your life as a shopkeeper. The game has a working economy in which the more frequently you sell an item its value begins to depreciate. So that iron you were making a bank can soon flood the market and customers won’t be willing to buy. Or at the least not buy it at the price you’re selling it for. This adds a nice layer of challenge and variety to selling the materials instead of repetitively selling the same items.

Good, catchy music. Cute shop music and intense, dramatic dungeon music. No matter which part of Moonlighter you’re involved in the music is fitting for the setting and immerses you in the game. Monster noises and sounds are nicely varied. Weapon swings have the proper sounds that give them weight and swinging power.

moonlighter inventory screenMoonlighter manages to accomplish a lot of interesting things with its mixture of mechanics as much as it maintains itself as a rogue-lite. But it will still come down to the pacing of the game that may prevent some from playing. I love it for that fact, though. It may not be a crazy round after round, constant action rogue-lite, but those restful moments in such a beautifully rendered game gives Moonlighter its own unique personality. And, one that players who enjoy this kind of pacing will thoroughly enjoy.

Overdue Review: Hyper Light Drifter

Welcome to the Stick And The Button’s first Overdue Review where I play and review a game from my back log or something I missed that came out ages ago. First up is the intriguing and beautiful Hyper Light Drifter.

hyper light drifter title screen

There was a lot buzz around Hyper Light Drifter before it came out. The art style and story gathered a lot of attention from many players, but when it came out it was met with very mixed receptions. The game’s detractors took issue with the game being locked at 30 FPS creating a slow and sluggish experience which made the games combat feel unresponsive. Now, this left me kind of unsure about checking out the game despite it being the type of game I would enjoy. But, after snagging the game on sale I finally decided to give it a shot and come to my own conclusion.

You take the role of a mysterious, um, knight I guess would be what best describe the character. The intense cutscene at the beginning implies a terrible catastrophe has befallen the world and your character may be the cause of it all. He also appears to be ill with some sort of disease. Other than those tidbits of story telling the rest of the story is fairly vague. There is no dialogue to the point where when you “speak” to other characters their speech bubbles are filled with pictures to tell a story. None of it is explicit and it’s up to you to figure.


I love this sort of mysterious story telling in games where you must figure out the story with the visual context clues to figure out. It’s why I love the Soulsbourne series so much, but Hyper Light Drifter takes it to a different level with no dialogue or text whatsoever. I know there are plenty of people out there who also hate this type of story telling and if you’re in that camp you might find the vagueness incredibly grating.

Hyper Light Drifter takes a lot of its mechanics from several ARPGs. Combat is a mix of Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls. You combo together sword swings, dodge enemy attack, and even get a gun whose use is very reminiscent to Furi’s gun. In other words you must hold down the R2 button to aim and press a separate button to fire your gun. Dodging doesn’t provide i-frames like Dark Souls does

Along with similar ARPG combat mechanics the UI will also be familiar to many players. Your health bar is divided into five squares similar to The Legend of Zelda heart health meter. However, if you get hit in Hyper Light Drifter you’re going to be losing the whole square of health. No halves or quarters damage losses, you just lose the whole thing.

hyper light combat

Hands down the art and pixel graphic design in Hyper Light Drifter is what I love the most. The beginning opening cinematic is striking with the main character appearing as we also witness whatever catastrophe has befallen this world. The games use of a pastel palette of colors meld together to create some very eye-catching visuals. A lot of pinks, teals and purples are used to make some very dramatic visuals. There are still some grays, greens, and other standard color palettes to flesh out both the natural and civilized areas.

Hyper Light Drifter also knows how to establish a great sense of scale in the game. Right after you make your way through the tutorial area you come out to clearing and a cliff with a city off in the distance. Some who have played the game will already know the area, but for those who haven’t played the game, yet, hopefully you’ll be just as awe struck as I was. It filled me with a desire to explore this world. And it is very much worth it to explore.

The second moment this feeling struck was when I first received the world map. As soon as I opened it I was taken a back not only by the size of each of the areas, but also by the habitats each of the four areas represented. A massive desert, a tangled and beautiful forest, a tranquil, yet terrifying, temple surrounded by water, and a tall mountain peak can all be fully explored. There is a lot to explore and all of it is very rewarding.


Now this last part of the visuals isn’t entirely relevant to Hyper Light Drifter’s visuals. This is regarding the game’s 30 fps framerate when it first launched, which many players (not all) felt it was slow and sluggish, making the games combat unresponsive at times. Heart Machine has since updated the game to 60 fps while still offering a 30 fps option. Seeing as this is an Overdue Review I wanted to see how the game ran at 30. And, well…the game becomes incredibly unresponsive and slow. I typically never have too much of an issue with 30 fps in some games, but in Hyper Light Drifter it felt like moving and fighting through molasses. Thank god Heart Machine updated it and runs smooth now.

After hearing mixed things about Hyper Light Drifter (and that super dope pixel art) I finally decided to play it. Though I am playing the fully optimized version, being able to go back to playing at 30fps kind of shows the initial problems of the game. But, it now runs at 60fps and this game is beautiful, intriguing and has great and familiar gameplay especially as a Zelda fan. I haven’t been this enthralled and filled with wander-lust in game in a long time. With the additional polish they have added to this game, it is wonderful and everything I want in my ARPGs.

Hob Review

Forest_1AHob first grabbed my attention when I saw the developers behind it was Runic Games. I loved their Torchlight series because I’m a big fan of Diablo and really any game involving looting and action rpg mechanics. But, Hob took a page out of another beloved action rpg: The Legend of Zelda. The game has lock-on combat mechanics, collectible upgrades, and plenty of tiny dungeons dotted throughout the world. But these dungeons house immense puzzles and these complex, yet intuitive puzzles is where Hob shines. It is also, sadly, the company’s final game, before shutting down late last year.

You play as a mysterious (but, cute) figure in a world falling apart due to a strange infection. Through a series of puzzles  Usual, but still engaging action rpg combat with deep and highly layered puzzles and a nice dash of semi worthwhile exploration to boot. There are collectibles, upgrades, and abilities available, so you can improve the main character and their tools.


The puzzles in Hob are outstanding and definitely the highlight among the game’s  other mechanics. The entire game world itself seems like one giant puzzle and most importantly they are very well designed and intuitive. There is that perfect level of challenge where you may find yourself stumped, but consistent puzzle mechanics help move you in the direction of the solution.

It isn’t always perfect in directing you to the next part of the puzzle as I spent a decent amount of time in one dungeon trying to find my way to the next part of a the puzzle. The main problem was similarity in room structure. It looked very much the same as a previous room earlier in the dungeon. So, when the game was trying to point me in the direction of the exit I ignored the exit, got lost, ended up stumped until I returned to the room. I headed through the

Combat mechanics are what you would expect from an action RPG. You can string together combos to do damage, lock-on target enemies to tactically fight them, and dodging and blocking abilities to defend yourself.

The only unique aspect is the use of a glove you receive at the beginning of the game. This can be used in combat as your shield and a knock back tool. The main use of the gauntlet is to help in solving the games numerous puzzles. You can also use it to navigate by knocking out walls and teleporting through blue glowing platforms. Said orbs are also puzzles themselves.


You’re provided with standard health and mana bars both of which can be permanently improved with items. Health is upgraded with red blocks you find tulip bulb looking plants you pry open. Collecting two blocks will complete a new health bar, a la Zelda just with fewer pick ups to complete bars. Mana bar improvements look like a gear and require about five of them to increase your max bar.

Hob uses vague story-telling and in game mechanics to tell the story. All I can gather thus far about the games story is it seems you are some sort of guardian/custodian of this lush and slightly mechanical world. Your good robot friend summons you from your enclosed chamber. Why you start here is a mystery. Some strange corruption marked with thorny vines and purple goop, is spreading and you are tasked with stopping its spread.


The visuals in Hob are executed in a beautiful cel-shading art style and Runic games are able to use it to express it in bright colors and dead dull colors effectively. The world is a perfect mix of lush and green nature and grey, metallic machinery. Fluorescent blue light shine in the underground dungeons along with gorgeous rock formations. Even corrupted areas fit in perfectly. Dried out, yellow grass and thick overgrown thorny vines merge together seamlessly with the games brighter and healthier environments making the corrupted areas striking when they make an appearance.

I truly was not expecting to enjoy Hob as much as I did. The puzzles in Hob are not only enjoyable in a game, but also challenging and satisfying to solve. Making the gorgeous, cel-shaded world one big puzzle is creative and effective and watching all the pieces fall into place is very gratifying. While its other action RPG mechanics are nothing outstanding, they are still implemented well. This is an excellent final game for Runic Games and showcases their amazing ability to make great ARPGs,

Pyre Review

pyre cast

Platforms: PC, PS4

Price: $19.99

My first experience with a SuperGiant game was Bastion. While the game had stunning visuals and great music, the games mechanics were not particularly memorable. They weren’t terrible, it didn’t really do anything new compared to most action RPGs. Transistor on the other hand took its combat mechanic in an interesting direction. Players were able to pause time and set up a series of actions to execute. With their latest game Pyre, SuperGiant has implemented some of their riskiest and unique mechanics, in both gameplay and story, and they executed it impressively. Also, it’s still gorgeous as hell and Darren Korb’s music will stick with you after you’ve finished the game.

Pyre brings the company’s beautiful art style and excellent music talent back with an RPG game whose main gameplay combat is essentially 3 on 3 fantasy basketball. You take the role as a fellow exile whose crime was knowing how to read. Literacy is outlawed in this world and you’ve been cast out into the Downside, a wasteland of sort with a few areas that still have some hints of life to them.


In typical SuperGiant fashion the games aesthetic is vibrant and colorful. The character animations are incredibly fluid. The detail put into the worlds environments make them all gorgeous and memorable. Plains are lively with bright colors and verdant green fields and a deadly lava ridden area is flows with orange glowing lava and embers. Everything in this game is beautifully rendered and created.

SuperGiant has decided to move towards more of a text based narrative. There is still a narrator, but they only appear when a rite takes place. Players can hover their cursor over certain words of the text to gain additional lore on places and characters. I personally enjoyed this, but fans of Bastion and Transistor with their excellent narrators, may not enjoy how wordy the game can be. And it is a lot. Between rites are only conversations either through the natural progression of the story or side conversations with the characters you have in the wagon.

Also, be prepared for a lot of feels from this game, even before you reach the end.

This is the strongest (and best) aspect of the game. Taking part in the rites is like playing a 3 on 3 fantasy sports game. As the rite begins a magical orb slams into the center of the arena. The player must grab the magical orb in the middle of the arena and transport or throw it into your opponent’s pyre until it is extinguished. The pyre’s strength is represented by a counter inside the pyre.

But it’s the different player types who offer the real depth to the base mechanics. Every type has an aura surrounding them. The size of the aura varies in size depending on the class you’re playing. The giant daemon’s for example is massive, while the cur’s is fairly small.


Each class can also launch their aura forward to attack enemies. Well, not all of them are launched forward, but the idea is still to obliterate your opponent, temporarily removing a player from the rite. This also occurs when a player jumps into the pyre to score.

You can improve each players stats and abilities as they level as well as improve said abilities with talismans you can pick up as you explore the world or purchased with gold from the Slugmarket. This lovely little market and its strange owner will offer talismans and consumables before rites.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Pyre. The game’s vibrant art makes the world worthy of exploring and enjoying. And in typical Supergiant fashion the music is incredible and sticks with you even after you put the game down (I highly recommend buying the soundtrack. It’s amazing in its own right.) I know some may be bothered by the absence of a constant narrator, but I enjoyed the text based narrative and found it just as engaging. If you’ve been a long-time fan of Supergiant you’ll love Pyre and should experience this beautiful game.