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If you want to expand upon some of the fun of Pocket Paragons and get your comic book hero on, then you should join the Sentinels of the Multiverse. It’s up to you and your friends to protect the world from certain doom in this cooperative card game. Some scenarios are all glory and gusto, but others are a bit more horrifying because some of those comics and comic book characters are outright dark. So I thought I’d review this game here on Haunted MTL for November.

Sentinels of the Multiverse box
Sentinels of the Multiverse box

Sentinels of the Multiverse hails from Greater Than Games and brings all of the comic book action right to your game table. Sure, this means that you could have the goody-goods battling the baddies old school superpower versus superpower to the end. But it wouldn’t be a good story series if there weren’t some twists and turns while flying by the seat of your pants. As any good comic book hero will tell you after all, you’ve got to keep your avid readers and fans awaiting the next issue with bated breath…

Essentially you and your friends are teamed up as superheroes trying to save the world from one of the many villains in one of the crazy environments. Ever since we started playing this game, I’ve pretty much always been Fanatic, the angel, but there are a lot of characters to choose from with a lot of superpowers. Different heroes balance one another in different ways, some providing more mystical support, others tanking it up, and others being more quick on the draw of the cards or battle-focused. Every one of them is unique with different strengths and weaknesses.

Some Sentinels of the Multiverse hero character decks and setups with Fanatic, Haka, and The Visionary
Some Sentinels of the Multiverse hero character decks and setups

As you duke it out with the villain and their minions, relics and following, you also have to deal with environmental hazards, ongoing effects and your team’s decisions. Everything is card-based with hero and villain characters and environments each having their own deck. Different cards grant different powers bringing both benefits and drawbacks. Card-based actions dish out the damage and whittle away at the baddies. Turn order remains consistent with the villain(s) going first, then the heroes in whatever order they choose, and finally the environment.

The game play really does mimic the comic book feel of battle well. You are literally fighting to the finish, with cards. The villains each pose different and interesting challenges and can totally own your ass if you are ill-prepared, or are part of the wrong team for that particular battle, or if the environment screws you over; you know, just because it can. And even when you defeat the baddies, you may not actually meet win criteria which just leaves the question open of what really happened to them and will they come back, as so many arch-nemeses do. It becomes a story for another time, continuing the saga…

Some of the Sentinels of the Multiverse villain and environmental challenges, as set up at Pike Industrial Complex with Gloomweaver and his Zombie Hordes
Some of the Sentinels of the Multiverse villain and environmental challenges

I’m giving Sentinels of the Multiverse 4.0 Cthulus. It’s a fun game, the art is superb, and it is very well designed, even down to how it fits in the box. You really do feel like you are a superhero from a long-standing series of comic books, and this is further enhanced by the flavor text on the cards themselves.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

But no matter how much my friends and I try to keep from overthinking it or getting caught up in planning, the game runs long. Sometimes the win conditions are very specific and are buried at the bottom of the villain deck so it can be a bit of a slogfest to get there. Sometimes different card combinations render a lot of actions ineffective in one or more directions simultaneously, so that you feel like you’re just slapping your kid brother back and forth in the rear seat of your parent’s ride without actually doing much of anything to one another. And sometimes the game will kick your ass in slow motion, nickeling-and-diming you to death over hours of playtime. But nonetheless, it’s still fun.

Preview of the Sentinels of the Multiverse box layout with some of the heroes, villains and environments to choose from.
Preview of the Sentinels of the Multiverse box layout with some of the heroes, villains and environments to choose from.

There are a lot of versions of this game and a lot of expansions. The version we own combined some of these variations together as part of a Kickstarter awhile back, but the newer versions have much the same flavor from what I can tell.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

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The Sinking City Review: Sunken Lovecraftian Lore

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The Sinking City is an open world third-person shooter developed by Ukranian developer, Frogwares, and published by Nacon. In this game, you play as a private investigator who has come to the city of Oakmont. In this half-submerged city you hope to find the cause of your maddening dreams and the mass disappearances plaguing the city.

Inspired by several H.P. Lovecraft stories, The Sinking City is a love letter to Lovecraftian lore. However, it takes the time to condone problematic themes in Lovecraft’s writings which is always appreciated. It has a massive open world that lets you explore the haunting world of a city driven partially mad. The neighborhoods are painstakingly designed and the found objects tell an enrapturing story. Riding a motor boat through flooded streets was mesmerizing. I also am fond of the novel detective mechanics. Even if they are a little basic, they are still interesting and tell a good story. 

A screenshot of gameplay from The Sinking City, showcasing a great character model.

I cannot stress enough that I wanted to love The Sinking City. The premise and the atmosphere were everything I wanted from a Lovecraftian horror game. But, the game just fell flat. Frustratingly enough, most of the issues with the game are simple quality of life improvements. I had consistent bugs, performance issues, and visual hiccups that prevented the game from coming into its own. The enthralling environments were tarnished by enemies appearing and disappearing and character animations not functioning properly. While the character models were exquisite, the dialogue was comically tacky, once again ruining the mood. I also wasn’t a fan of the combat, which felt undercooked in its difficulty and stealth mechanics. The Sinking City feels like the alpha release of what could be an amazing game. But in its current state I found it to be semi-unplayable.

That being said, the game has an amazing mod community on Steam. They have created community content to fix a lot of the issues I have with the base game, so I recommend checking that out if you already own the game. I have also heard that the game has better performance on consoles instead of on PC, where I played it. So that may be another avenue for enjoying The Sinking City.

Another unfortunate reason I can’t recommend the game at the moment, is current legal battles against Nacon the publisher. Nacon has been accused by several of its developers, including Frogwares, of pirating their game and uploading it illegally to Steam. The legal battles have yet to be resolved, however, it is unfortunate that these accusations have happened twice now by two independent developers.

Maybe one day we’ll have a good Lovecraftian horror game. But, it is not yet that day. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

However, in honor of Frogwares please consider donating to a Ukrainian Relief Fund as they actively fight on the front lines to keep their country safe. Additionally, consider supporting their new game Sherlock Holmes: the Awakened.

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Röki Review: Family & Scandinavian Folklore

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Röki is an adventure puzzle game developed by Polygon Treehouse and published by United Label and CI Games. In the game, you play as Tove, a young girl on a hunt to save her kidnapped brother. She must engage with creatures from Scandinavian folklore as well as her own guilt surrounding the death of her mother in order to save her brother from a grim fate.

This is a game with an immense amount of heart. From the art to the story to the sound design, you can feel the soul and care that went into Röki. And for the most part, it pays off. I invested emotionally into all of the characters as I played. I was also enraptured by the depth of the story and character interactions as the game progressed. The gameplay is similar to that of a point-and-click adventure game, where you collect items and drag them onto environmental objects to solve puzzles. The items and environments were intricate and satisfying to engage with the majority of the time. Especially in the first third of the game, I delighted at uncovering little secrets and talking with the inhabitants of the forest. When the game was rewarding, it really felt rewarding.

A screenshot of gameplay from Röki.

Despite its enchanting nature, the middle third of the game was a definite low point. As a game that took me about 10 hours to play through, about 3 of those hours were exhausting. The puzzles were especially tedious, requiring a significant amount of backtracking and/or convoluted solutions. Instead of feeling rewarded for solving the puzzles, I just felt thankful I could move on. The biggest issue wasn’t the solutions or placement of items, it was the annoyance that I knew exactly what I needed to do but had to spend at least fifteen minutes stuck in unskippable animations to complete it.

Röki is a gorgeous adventure game that immerses you in Scandinavian folklore through a combination of story and puzzles. However, if you don’t have patience for unskippable dialogue or frustrating puzzles you may want to try a different game. Additionally, I find the price of $20 a little high for how frustrating a third of the game is. But I would consider it a must-get for puzzle fans during a sale! Find Röki on Steam here.

3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

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Ring of Pain Review: An Addictive Dungeon Crawler

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Ring of Pain is a rogue-like dungeon crawler developed by Simon Boxer and Twice Different. In the game, you travel through layers of a dungeon collecting loot and killing monsters. Each layer holds a series of cards containing enemies, curses, boons, and exits. As a character, you gain equipment, spells, items, and stat increases that help you defeat your enemies (or just run away better). 

Ring of Pain is a fantastic game. I received it in a charity game bundle, but it had sat untouched in my Steam library for a year. On a whim, I decided to try it out, telling myself I would play an hour or two and then review it. I ended up playing for four hours, only stopping because I had prior engagements. Every time I sat down to write this review, I instead played another couple of hours in Ring of Pain. The point of this story is not my weak will, but instead the highly addictive nature of Ring of Pain.

A screenshot of gameplay from Ring of Pain.

The gameplay had a good mix of strategy and luck, making it rewarding to succeed. There are also many viable strategies to pursue, which means there are many ‘correct’ ways to play the game and still see success. As someone who can get frustrated with rogue-likes, I liked how each run was relatively short but rewarding. This meant that I didn’t feel like I was sinking hours into gameplay that led nowhere. Also worth a mention is the absolutely stunning artwork that masters being atmospheric, creepy, and comical. 

My biggest gripe is that I wish there was more diversity of items. I sometimes felt as if I was just getting the same boring equipment over and over again. That being said, the developers have been consistently adding new content to the game since it released. Therefore, my largest issue is being addressed. 

Ring of Pain is a great game, and I highly recommend it for those who enjoy quick rogue-likes with dungeon-crawling elements. However, try another game if you get frustrated by random generation that could be impossible to surmount. 

Available on Steam for $20, I would say the price point is a little steep for the diversity of content. However, it’s a must-get during a sale!

4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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