Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge, Steam Gaming

Steam Challenge: Guild of Dungeoneering

Game: Guild of Dungeoneering
Time: 40 Mins (But Will Play More!)

One of my goals for this month is to get back to trying one new Steam game from my backlog each week. I started this month with this game – Guild of Dungeoneering. I think I picked this up in a bundle somewhere, but it looked interesting, so I gave it a try.

I really wanted to put more time into it before I wrote a post about it, but I feel like I have enough of the gist of all the major ideas and systems in the game. Actually, the whole game is a set of inter-working systems. But it’s easy to look past that because it’s just so darn charming.

I mean, just check out this intro song:

What is it?

The game’s Steam page describes itself as this:

Guild of Dungeoneering is a turn-based dungeon crawler with a twist: instead of controlling the hero you build the dungeon around him. Using cards drawn from your Guild decks you lay down rooms, monsters, traps and of course loot!

This does a good job of describing the game at a high level, but I want to go a little deeper into it than that.

The first thing I noticed was the cute, hand drawn art style and the fun tavern-song music. These tavern songs are woven between scenarios, usually on a loading screen, and are often quite amusing. I knew I was in for a quirky ride with this game from the get-go, and it didn’t disappoint.

So, the story begins as you decide to break away from the official Guild to make your own. I mean… you can do it better, right? This includes building up a guild hall of various rooms, and hiring adventurers to do your dirty work for you.

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You then send your hired hands out into dungeons. These dungeons have objectives to fill.

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Sadly, poor Mervin didn’t get very far before he met his end. It took me a few hirelings to realize that bats (which can sap life) are not a choice enemy in the beginning.

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But all is not lost — when one dies, another immediately takes their place. Also, the gold the first adventurer brought home remains, and you can use that to build up your guild hall like so:

20180308074538_1 There’s even a nice little grave yard to remember them by…

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Building up your hall unlocks new types of hirelings…

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And also increases the loot pool for each fight you win.

Build Your Own Dungeon

Let’s take a moment to talk about the dungeon building aspect of this game. It’s pretty cool! And in the end, if your hireling loses the fight, you’ve only got yourself to blame. You built it for them, after all! 😉

So, when you enter a dungeon, it’s only half built like this:

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The random cards you get in the bottom corner are what you use to build the dungeon, and connect the parts. Usually the goal of the dungeon is on the part that you can’t reach yet. You can place up to 3 cards per turn, or end the turn early.

You can also place treasure cards (if you have one) and enemy cards in the rooms. So, really, you pick your own encounters to a certain extent.

When your hireling goes to battle, it’s a different sort of card game.

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The cards you can get in your hand are directly related to the gear that your hireling is wearing (I’ll show that in a moment). The blue cards at the top are your pool – you get to play one card per turn.

The outcome of the cards are indicated by the icons. For example: the red fist is an attack that will take away one enemy heart. There are cards that cast magic, that restore health, that block enemy attacks… all sorts of things.

When you beat an enemy, you get your choice of loot:

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Each of these items will add a new kind of card to your deck, influencing the skills you can use. If you don’t like any of your choices, you can take gold instead.

Again, as you build up your guild hall, you can purchase an expanded loot pool that gives better drops each time you beat an enemy.

So, basically, you send a hireling in. You build a dungeon, place risks and rewards, and choose the loot that will help them beat the quest. Then you take the gold they earned back, build up your guild hall, and repeat.

It’s a neat little set of systems, and the dungeons are short. So you can pick up and play in spurts if needed. It has a quick tutorial, and eases you into the game without too much of a learning curve. However, seeing that my first few adventurers died on the first dungeon (darn bats), it’s not a total pushover, either.

Recommended: 

yes

Give it a shot if this sounds like something you’d enjoy. I’m sure you can get it at a good price during a Steam sale, if nothing else.

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Nintendo Switch, Steam Gaming

November Gaming Goals

It’s hard to believe this year is almost coming to a close! November is here, and I’m trying to set a wider variety of gaming goals this month.

I know I’ll have a couple of snags in November — the Sims 4: Cats & Dogs expansion drops next week, and later in the month, the new Animal Crossing app releases. I know these will demand some of my time. But aside from that, here’s what I’d like to do this month!

FFXIV

  • Level Paladin (Beast Tribes/Quests/Hunts) ✓
  • Level Machinist (Alliance Raid Roulette) ✓
  • Level Crafters
  • Clean up Stormblood quests ✓

This month, rather than spread my attention across different characters, I want to focus on leveling a few different jobs on my main. I also want to mop up some of those unfinished Stormblood quests because they are seriously cramping the map with all those icons at this point!

Switch

  • Play Mario Odyssey ✓
  • Beat 3rd Divine Beast in BotW
  • Complete Octopath Traveller demo

I’m making these goals in order to remind myself to stick to my Switch games. I picked up Mario for a short time last week, but I don’t want it to fall by the wayside. I also want to start to progress in Zelda: BotW again. I lost momentum in this game back when I had to send my Switch dock for repairs, and haven’t played it a whole lot since. Finally, I downloaded the Octopath Traveller demo back when it first launched, but haven’t played it. Need to fix that!

Steam

  • Try 1 Steam game from my backlog each week ✓

A conversation that fell on Steam gaming and backlogs from the other night reminded me that I’m falling behind on backlog clearing yet again. I actually picked up a couple of bundles lately (mostly because I just wanted one game from them), but I haven’t entered any of the keys into my Steam account out of shame. XD

Interestingly, I’ve noticed a trend where I’ll hear of a game on my Steam wishlist releasing for the Switch, and I’ll drop it from Steam for the Switch version. But this means my Switch is starting to see a tiny backlog beginning to build up, too. Noooo!

 

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: One Year Later Review

Back when No Man’s Sky launched a year ago, I wrote a post about my first impressions of the game. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. I even wrote up a list of suggestions that would make the game better.

I stumbled on this post and realized that a LOT has changed in NMS… so I wanted to do a round-up and take a look at how many of my concerns and suggestions were addressed. So, here we go!

My Annoyance List

Long… long… long… loading screens.

This hasn’t changed, mostly due to the fact that the game has to load shaders and stuff when warping and loading the game. I’ve learned to live with it.

Slow. So very slow.

Just walking (which you do a TON of) has two speeds: snail-slug slow and a little less slow. The “running” doesn’t feel like running, just a slightly faster walk.

Interacting with aliens starts to feel like it takes an eternity. You get something like a cut scene, then the alien takes forever to speak to you and then the relevant game text slowly fades in.

They’ve added ground vehicles to let you get around faster now. Walking and running are still slow, but at least there’s another option.

They actually fixed the alien cutscene and talking slowness pretty early one. You can choose to skip through the Milestones pop-ups and you can now click to speed up the loading of alien text. This was a huge improvement!

In addition to that, you can now insta-warp to space stations from your base, plus the use of portals (which I haven’t done yet).

Inventory constraints.

Just bad. I know you slowly increase your slots, but that seems to be the only real progression when it comes to ships and suits. There is never enough room for any of the things you find.

Inventory is still tight on ships and suits, however, now there is a designated section of slots for upgrades vs. cargo, which helps a lot. Also, you can put holding containers on your base and own your own freighter!

So inventory options have improved a lot, though you have to work to achieve it.

Lack of quest clarity.

I’m okay with a game that doesn’t hold my hand, but I feel like the the little bit of tutorial we do get is not very clear.

There’s still some wonkiness with quests, but the addition of a log makes the experience much better. The new storyline also works as an extended tutorial, and has been pretty solid so far.

Exploration starts to feel redundant.

You do the same sort of thing on every planet – find discarded ships, fix them up to upgrade your ship. Find new upgrades for your weapon and exosuit.

There’s SO much more to find and do now. Many more biomes were added over the last year, plus different kinds of points of interest and different ways to locate them. It’s much easier to be able to build your own signal booster to find what you’re looking for.

I also noticed that there are some things you can’t mine or gather until you have specific upgrades. Some plants require a hazmat type protection while some minerals require advanced mining tools. So, there’s a variation in all of that.

My one major wish is to see more variety in animal life now.

Constantly pacifying Life Support.

There’s no eating in this game, but you have to “feed” the life support to keep your exosuit systems online and not die.

This is still a thing. HOWEVER. They added a creative mode that allows you to play the game without this bothering you all the time. So, now, you have an option.

No way to easily toggle UI to take nice screenshots.

So there is a way to completely turn off the HUD in the PC version, but it requires you to go to the Options menu and turn it off in a setting every time you want to take a screenshot.

I’ve just recently discovered the camera mode, and it is fantastic! Pressing X allows you to toggle between tools, including the camera. When in camera mode, the world freezes and you can change several aspects, such as your camera view, the time of day, that sort of thing. It’s really above and beyond what I could have hoped for!

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My new base, taken with the camera mode, which allows me to see it from above.

 

Space Pirates.

They haven’t killed me yet, but man, they’re a pain in the behind.

They’re still there. BUT. You can now choose to call backup from the local space station, or even pay off the pirates to leave you alone. Shooting them down is worth a lot, however…

Ship navigation.

I like that you can’t crash your ship… or I’d be doing it all the time. But it bugs me that I can’t fly down lower over the surface of a planet, and how much a pain it is to estimate a landing on a planet.

Low flight was added in Atlas Rising patch! This is truly wonderful… I had actually been using a mod before this to achieve the same thing.

Static world.

No Man’s Sky feels like a very static world in that you never see aliens just going about everyday life. You dock in the space station or trade outpost and its always empty of activity… until you’ve been there a little while.

This is still a thing, though it’s getting better. It seems PoIs and space stations feel a bit more lively than they used to. There’s still no aliens to be seen outside of trade posts, or daily life, but having your own base and putting NPCs there helps.

My Suggestions

So I made a list of suggestions that would improve the game, IMHO. Let’s see how things look now.

Building!

I need to build things and make something of my own. Right now, I just drift from world to world, but nothing has any personal worth to me.

Bases were added last year. I am just starting to explore base building, but I like what I see so far!

Land vehicles!

Let me build a little moon rover or hover bike or something.

Yep. They added them. Again, I haven’t built one myself, but I’m looking forward to playing with one.

Give life to NPCs.

I love learning the alien languages and earning reputation with different races. But see above for all my complaints on how static the aliens are right now.

I feel like the game is moving that direction. The Atlas Rising story helps put names and stories to NPCs, which is a good thing. Recruiting NPCs for your base also helps.

Bookmarks, maps or quick return.

I need a way to be able to mark and return to places I’ve explored before.

You can create waypoints to systems you’ve explored before, though I haven’t messed around with that much.

You can also now warp between your base and the space station, which is really nice.

Portals were just introduced in Atlas Rising, but I’ve yet to play far enough to see their functionality.

Also, ships can now be summoned to certain locations. I was stoked when I saw that my ship portaled with me between my base and the space station!

Better inventory management!!!!

Separate upgrades from inventory.

Yep, they did this.

Online encyclopedia.

This is a pipe dream. But what’s the point in discovering all these cool things if you can’t show it to someone else? I’d LOVE an online encyclopedia of your discoveries — a webpage that you can pull up that shows the worlds and creatures you discovered. Something you can link to and send to other people.

While this is still a pipe dream for the overall game, the community is actually working on doing this through the Hub Project. Good work, guys!

So…

Well, dang. It sure does look like No Man’s Sky has either completely addressed or has improved on areas that I had issues with when I first played the game a year ago. That’s pretty crazy, if you think about it.

We all have lists of things we hope that our favorite games will do, but rarely have I seen a game turn around and actually handle almost all of my complaints and issues. Not only did NMS deliver, but it often went beyond what I hoped for… all in FREE patches.

Now, instead of wishing for improvements, I can start looking forward to being delighted by the development to come. Good job, Hello Games!

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Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: Space Adventure Continues

I’ve been in the mood for chill gaming lately, so I keep coming back to play No Man’s Sky. Thankfully, as of my last post, I did find a graphics settings tweak that fixed the blurry texture issues I was having. I can’t run the game on Ultra due to settings restraints, but at least it’s a whole lot better to look at than it was.

The team at Hello Games has been hard at work putting out patches for Atlas Rising, putting the game at version 1.33 now. I don’t know if all the major bugs have been taken care of, but they are certainly trying hard to fix what they can.

NMS Progress

I finished up some missions and raised my standing with the Gek to move on to the next part in the story line. This has me searching for help to pinpoint Artemis’ location from a lifeform named Apollo.

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I have to say that even though this story remains a tutorial so far, the writers continue to do a good job at keeping things mysterious and interesting. The story has me curious, and has started rewarding me along the way with things such as the Terrain Manipulator.

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I haven’t tried using it yet, but at least I can dig out the crashed freighters if I find one again.

The quest had me leave my previous star system, which was okay with me. Most of the planets there were either too hot, too cold, toxic or had terrible storms which prevented me from doing much exploration.

I was of a mind to head back towards my base planet, anyhow. Then, in the next system, I stumbled upon this interesting “bountiful” planet.

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It’s really a lovely place with bright blue skies, and bulbous grasses that gradient from deep purples to soft greens. I haven’t completely made up my mind yet, but I might be moving my base here. I’m a little concerned about doing that, though, because there still might be a chance I could mess up my story line (though they patched it, and that shouldn’t happen).

I’m not sure, but I feel like the story may have skipped the whole base building part, anyhow. One moment, they’re handing me the matter manipulator, another moment they’re telling me to strap in and look for a means to open a portal. Apollo even noted that I had a base, and that going through this portal might mean I wouldn’t see it for a long time.

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Gonna be very careful about this.

Oh, and remember how I mentioned I had this really cool carrier ship, but I’d forgotten to take a screenshot of it? Here it is!

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I’m still working on paying to unlock the slots on it, but finding a random 29 slot ship is pretty sweet (considering my previous ship was 17 slots).

The space adventure continues!

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: 1.3 Atlas Rises Patch

So while I’ve been talking a lot about GW2 this week, the truth is, over the weekend I mostly played No Man’s Sky’s newest 1.3 patch – Atlas Rises. This marks the game’s first year anniversary and it’s still on sale for $24 on Steam right now if any of this catches your interest.

This patch was really an incredible leap forward for NMS. Much of the community now feels that the game is finally at a point where it is what it was originally advertised to be. Yes, it’s bad this wasn’t out at launch. BUT – the devs didn’t abandon the game, and kept working until it was in a much better shape.

Now we have so much, from base building, rovers, low flight on ships, missions, farming, a new economy and trading system, and a brand new storyline. Really, there’s too much to list…

Oh, and yeah. The sorta-multiplayer was added, which really excited players. It’s very rudimentary, but it’s a foundation for something more, I hope.

Changes in the Universe

The universe was also restructured because many new and unusual biomes were added to the planets. This meant that your home base planet may have changed, for better or worse.

I did start to build a base during the last patch, but didn’t get super far with it. When I left the world, it was this pinky-purple planet, which was kinda pretty.

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Before 1.3

When I returned to my base planet, it had all turned green instead. Which is also kinda pretty.

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After 1.3

Thankfully, this was a positive change. I’ve read a lot of people who had a great home base planet that turned into snow or toxic waste biome. So, I can’t complain too much.

Texture Troubles

The one thing that did eat up a lot of my time was trying to troubleshoot the game’s texture loading issues. The last time I played the game, I was using my old Nvidia graphics card. Since then, I upgraded to a much more powerful AMD card.

I’d forgotten the posts that said NMS had issues with AMD cards. And, well, mine had issues loading the textures that I never had on the previous card. The game played well enough, but all the textures were on low quality, no matter what setting I put the graphics on.

I’d played the game enough to recognize this was NOT how it was supposed to look:

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Everything from the grass to the texture on the rocks to the building… yeah.

So I updated my drivers as a first step, and this actually cleared it up long enough to get those comparison pictures above. But after playing a bit, warping around, maybe turning the game off and back on again, it went right back to being blurry.

I started doing research.

Someone suggested a complete driver cleaning and uninstall/reinstall from a manual download. I did this, and again, it helped for a little while.

I went through several suggestions on the Tech Support forum. I got it to work partways, but still not 100% of the textures load. I may go back and mess with some of these settings again, but I eventually just gave up and played with mostly-loading textures.

It was better than none.

New Storyline

So, there’s a new storyline. It’s not super captivating or anything — mostly the story of an alien who has crashed and is stranded. You have to help them out.

But what the storyline does fill is the huge blank where a tutorial or guidance system was missing. In fact, it feels a lot like a tutorial, which is there to introduce the player to all the different features of the game.

It teaches you to build signal beacons, how to find specific locations, how to earn reputation, how to learn language, and (at this point for me) how to find the new mission feature. Eventually, I heard it prompts you to build a base (which gets bugged out if you happen to move your base’s original location, so be careful!).

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The game’s writing uses the illusion of mystery and grandiose language to try to make the story feel bigger than it actually is (a tutorial). It does cover this well, but the reality is, it’s just sending you on a bunch of menial tasks.

This is fine. I wish the story was a bit deeper than just a story masking a tutorial. But it’s better than nothing, and players seem to like it. I’m going along for the ride since it’s been so long since I’ve played that I don’t know most of what I’m doing anyhow. XD

It’s nice to have a mission-oriented journal type thing that helps you keep track of where you are and what you need to do, too. This might have been patched in back when bases were introduced, but it’s not until now that I actually started to rely on it consistently.

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Overall

The community has really rallied behind NMS after this update. Heck, even before this update, this game had a very dedicated group of players who even worked to create a whole Galactic Hub in order to meet up and map a common system. This is very, very cool, and you should check it out!

Even better, the recent Steam review ratings have gone from Mostly Negative to Mostly Positive as players give recognition where it’s due. There will always be haters, of course, but even I tossed in a positive review for the game (I rarely write game reviews on Steam) because I’m impressed by the dedication of the dev team.

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Despite the technical difficulties I’ve had, I also had great fun playing over the weekend, and hope that I can maintain a momentum to actually build my base this time around. I found this really cool crashed ship — I discovered it was a Hauler — that took me from 19 slots to something like 32 in one shot. (I wish I had a screen of it.)

I still have to raise the money to actually unlock the slots on the ship, but I was so stoked to repair it and get it flying. It might be a good introduction into learning how to haul and trade materials between systems. Maybe?

I’ll have to find out!

Posted in Gaming, Steam Gaming, Uncategorized

Steam Gaming: Pixel Shopkeeper

Between FFXIV and my Nintendo Switch, I haven’t really been doing a lot of Steam gaming. Thankfully, I haven’t been doing that much Steam buying, either. In fact, though I haven’t forgotten nor given up on my Steam Challenge to overcome my overwhelming backlog, I’ve decided not to call this post part of the challenge, because it’s not.

I very rarely make impulse purchases on Steam. In fact, I rarely go to the Steam site to browse when a big sale isn’t going on. I’m not sure why I did yesterday, but I noticed a little game called Pixel Shopkeeper was on the front page of the New and Trending section.

Now, I have a huge soft spot for shopkeeping games. I also put some time into Recettear,  but not enough to really explore it deeply. I liked what I saw of Recettear, but it was one of those games that felt slightly overwhelming in terms of systems when I was trying to learn it.

Pixel Shopkeeper is straightforward. It feels like a mesh of smaller mini-games, all easy to figure out. It’s an idea game to pick up for short bursts as both the adventure side and shop side only take a few minutes to complete. It would actually be a great tablet game (dare I whisper).

What’s It About?

You’re a graduate of Pixel University, but you’re carrying the burden of a school loan (too close to RL for comfort). So, you open a shop to pay it off.

There’s a small character creation bit, with a few customizations. This is not a major focus of the game, of course, but a nice little touch.

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The game is light-hearted and humorous, embracing common net language, memes and fantasy RPG tropes. It’s not ashamed to toss “Generic NPCs” and “Generic World Maps” at you. And all this is completely fine.

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The game gives you freedom to do whatever you like with the stipulation that at the end of the week, you have a certain amount due on your loan payoff. There are two parts of the game: the adventuring part, where you fight to secure loot drops, and the shopkeeping part, where you sell your loot drops.

Battle for Loot

If you have no loot, you can’t sell anything. So it’s important to train to increase your stats and abilities, and head to the fields and dungeons to gather stuff to put up for market.

The interesting part about this is that your character battles on their own. The only influence you have over their fight is whether you’ve trained them, geared them up, and if you keep them healed (by dragging herbs to them when herbs drop as loot).

As drops appear, it’s your job to fit as much loot into your bag as possible. This is done in a Tetris mini-game manner, which I found fun and sometimes challenging. Over the course of the game, you can earn or buy different types of bags with different shapes and features.

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If your character is defeated, you lose all the loot and the day that you spent trying to earn that loot. If you win, you get to keep everything you bagged on top of treasure from a random chest you choose at the end of the run.

Sell That Loot!

The other half of the game is what happens at your shop when you go back to sell the loot you earned. Your shop starts out small, allowing you to furnish it with tables and stands to place your loot for sale.

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As you sell more items, more furnishings become available, some with buffs to item prices and other perks. You also unlock other smaller support systems, such as the ability to polish your loot (makes it more desirable), advertise your shop, buy from other merchants, plant a garden, and even craft new and better loot to sell.

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As adventurers walk past your shop, you can click on them to increase the chance they’ll stop, browse, and hopefully buy. You can also click on birds and tumbleweeds to earn extra coins, and sometimes crafting materials. You need to make sure that you keep the displays in your shop clean (just click on them repeatedly), or you may lose a potential sale with the dirty state of your shop.

At the end of the day, you get a summary, and options of what to do next. If you still have plenty of loot to sell, you can set up shop for the next day. If you need to gather more loot, you can head out to tackle monsters.

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It’s a pretty simple game, as I said, which slowly introduces new features in small bites. I’ve only spent an hour with it so far, so I’m sure there are a number of other secrets to unlock.

The other thing I lik about Pixel Shopkeeper is the support that the developer is giving this game, despite having already released it. I saw him being very active and receptive to player feedback on the game’s Steam forum. In fact, he has already released two new difficulty levels (a chill mode and a sandbox mode) based on the fact that players found the normal mode a bit too challenging.

It looks like the game is going to get another large patch today, as well. So cheers to the developer for making his customers happy! In fact, I missed the launch sale of this game, and still paid full price for it (a rarity for me), because of all the positive feedback for both game and developer.

Shopkeeping games may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For those who enjoy this little niche of RPG slice-of-life, this is a game to keep your eye on.