A Stirring Abyss is to blame for my Hellist (Quart) assessment of the Steam Game Festival.

The rainy, cold and dampy weather couple with a week of vacations soon to follow brings with it that unnatural urge to lay low, stay home, boot up my computer and get up to date with this high-season of gaming content. I haven’t got much time left to write this so let’s jump right into it.

The first one on the chopping block is Partisans 1941– a wannabe vodka-chugging Commandos that lets itself down by a boring introduction. The awful voice acting and an uninspired setting failed to relate me to a genre that usually ranks amongst my favorites. The overarching and overused Eastern Front theme seems like a missed opportunity when the game could have zoomed in German-occupied France instead. Sacrebleau!

Fast forward a couple decades and crash straight into the Stirring Abyss– H.P. Lovecraft is definately riding the high on the list of most influential horror writers of all time with its existencial dread dripping from every barroque-esque paragraph into the gaming scene. Few games do Lovecraft right and Stirring Abyss doesn’t seem to be the one to make amends to that but what it lacks in terror makes up for in charm and mis(t)ery. Gorgeous ink-drawn submariners risk mind and limb rescuing one another and trying to find a way to power up their broken tube all the way back home. Explore the depths, uncover sanity defying truths and fight the horrors from aeons past in a unforgivable turn-based grid combat. Stirring Abyss made a terrific impression by mashing together terrifying context and combat.

We’re three quarters of the way through so let’s take a peek at this Hellish Quart– The most curious of the bunch, if you’re the one to enjoy fencing and miss the viciously-bloody&blocky sword fighting from the 1997 classic Bushido Blade. Hellish Quart is the 2020 equivalent of it but with less anime-ninjas and more musketeers and cossacks- and if there’s something I can respect is a man that is able to grow a mustache so long that it actually goes behind(!) his ear. Insert auto-deflect and add a focus on precise, single strikes and follows-ups and they end up creating short-lived battles that can go to extreme levels of intensity as both contestants parry each other strikes waiting for a deadly opening on their offense. It all comes to a sudden halt with a single hand or leg snipe that disarms or disables your opponent. It feels very organic. No fancy combos or timed parrying- just really fast and conservative strikes. Turns out real people spend more time avoiding getting killed than doing fancy shit in a duel. I can wholeheartedly recommend Hellish Quart when it launches December 7th.

Fight in Tight Spaces was one hell of a Jonh Wicked disappointment. The subject matter of beating people into a red mist just doesn’t bode well with the randomness of a deck building system. In one turn you’re strifing and jump-kicking figurines into the after-life and in the next the man in the black suit that is totally not Keanu Reeves is now unable to do jackshit just because the card you have doesn’t allow you to move one square to the either way when the enemy is just RIGHT THERE. Imagine watching a Jackie Chan movie where Jackie single handed woops 10 guys straight and then stops for 15 seconds to get slam-dunked because he randomly forgot how to use the frontal lobe of his brain. It makes absolute no sense. The idea sure is interesting but the system needs a bit more consistency to work as a coherent whole instead of random ideas slushed together expecting to get carried by a stylish aesthetic. The one thing I could see redeeming this incoherent mess would be the insertion of a real-time option to review the actions you took in turn, imagine SuperHot.

The ancient Egypt hasn’t fascinated me since the 7th grade but Builders of Egypt sure got my attention. Too bad I just got around to tip-toe into the sandy shores of Nile and that doesn’t allow me to have any kind of fair insight into what it’s trying to be but it’s looking good so far. I just found out that you can play the prologue so I’ll be back with some new insights.

Thanks for reading!


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