The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: Cinco Paus and Last Knight: Rogue Rider Edition

Happy Holidays, here’s some over-the-top fun.

Let’s go, mysterious moustache man

Cinco Paus is a bizarre puzzle adventure created by indie developer Michael Brough, aka ‘smestorp’. Players will attempt to find treasure and knowledge as a mysterious moustachioed wizard, fighting off scary animals and exploring lairs. Oh, and the wizard is carrying five wands, and he has no idea what they are or how they work.

Gameplay is a bit odd to explain. The player is able to move in a ‘real time turn-based’ movement system. Every time the wizard moves a square, any enemies present in the level will move shortly afterwards. Running into an enemy will allow the wizard to smack them with his default staff, which in turn will allow any enemies in range to do the same. Since this is not sustainable for a squishy wizard, players will instead need to use their five magic wands to defeat the enemies before they reach the wizard. But the only way to actually learn what they do is by utilizing them — and they only have one charge per room.

After picking a direction with a wand, a bolt of ‘lightning’ will strike out from it, and it interacts with enemies, objects and more. There will also be little symbols applied to detail the interaction. I have witnessed at least three dozen different symbols with their own specific mechanics and abilities. Some only destroy certain enemies. Others cause the lightning to arc in a different direction.

The true eyebrow-raising part of Cinco Paus is hinted at in the title. The entire game is in Portuguese and has no official English support. Symbols can be hovered over to see what they do, but the actual icons and witnessing their actions are the only confirmation of what the wands will do if that symbol appears. Unless you read Portuguese.

This was completely intentional, which is quite curious of a design choice. While the symbols are intuitive, it took me quite a while to even understand what the game wanted me to do. There’s an almost ‘in to the fire’ style approach of just throwing oneself in and hoping for the best. This is amplified by how quick it is to restart and how little each run affects the others outside of symbol recognition.

Whether you enjoy the design choice or not, Cinco Paus definitely asks an interesting question about the importance of player understanding of mechanics without the ability to understand the text involved. I’ll admit that I did end up searching for the wordpress that translated all the abilities by vivafringe, but by then I had started to grasp the game. If you understand or speak Portuguese, this will just be another trial-and-error puzzle game that challenges your ability to work within constraints. For the rest of us, it demands our attention at all times to even figure out how to move.

Bye bye Mr. Black Knight.

Last Knight: Rogue Rider Edition is the enhanced version of Last Knight, originally released on mobile by Toco Games, an indie studio founded by David Hagemann and based out of Germany. Players will follow the inspiring tale of a young knight as they attempt to rescue this fantastical world with their trusty steed and long wooden stick-lance.

Taking heavy inspiration from other 3D platformers while incorporating ease of use for mobile, Last Knight has players infinitely galloping forwards without stopping towards the destination. It is up to the player to guide the orientation of the knight so they don’t die instantly. The knight will jump over obstacles and barriers, weave in and out of tight corridors, destroy barricades and collect coins left behind by villains who stole them from the kingdom. However, there are some dastardly buckets remaining on the trail, which will force the knight to use their jousting abilities to progress. Or die trying.

Jousting against enemy knights is by far the most interesting aspect of the game. Players will attempt to line up the knight quickly and lower their lance to take out their opponent in one fell swoop. Failure to do so usually causes the player to die instantly and horribly unless both miss, which I have yet to experience personally. Success awards points and a satisfying slow-mo scene as the enemy knight ragdolls uncontrollably away from the player. If they land in a specific location or position, it’s even more points.

This fast-paced action keeps it in line with its mobile infinite roots, but also with the constant pressure that came with classic 3D platformers during the certain escaping missions. Since the player cannot slow down, everything needs to be either reactionary or repeated. A quick dodge will get the knight out of danger nearly all the time, but only through repeated runs (or sheer luck) will you get all the collectibles before the level ends.

This is just the core gameloop, which lacks mentioning the sheer amount of game modes and content that Last Knight provides. The campaign will be where players spend much of their time as it doubles as a learning ground for certain moves and proper execution. The Endless Journey mode puts the player in a never-ending sprint to survive. The Rogue Rider mode is a unique take on roguelike mechanics implemented for a platformer. It gives players the ability to search for power-ups, items, and more while knowing that a single death resets everything.

I am normally anti-platformer, but there is a lot about Last Knight: Rogue Rider Edition that I enjoy. It’s goofy and fun, and knows not to take itself too seriously, while still delivering solid mechanics and platforming implementations that avoid many of the genre’s pitfalls. There are so many things that can be done within this game, including the ability to alter the camera to first person if you are comfortable with being that visually close to ledges.

If you loved Crash Bandicoot’s art style and goofy approach to platforming, but would prefer something a bit more mobile-esque to iron out some issues, this is definitely one of the better titles to sink your teeth in to. Get smashing!

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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