Hayai – The Ronin Score Attack Game (IGC Showcase)

Hayai is a pretty cool game. I played another game like it recently called Pizza Tactics, but only in the sense that the main mechanic is drawing a path with my mouse. Really though, Hayai is a full-feature game aimed at casual play. Control one of 5 Ronin, and clear hordes of enemies swarming from the sides of the map by dragging a line between the individual enemies in one long swipe. It could double as a mobile game, but I really enjoyed playing it on my computer. A huge cool feature here though, you can actually play this with a drawing tablet if you like! That is a new one for me. I am guilty of saying that I will replay a lot of games that I never do but this one is so easy that I could just open it up and play whenever.

This particular showcase was made possible with a generous showcase copy through the Indie Game Collective and publisher Chaoclypse. The game is only $1.99 on Steam though, so you don’t really need a review key to invest in this one yourself though.

The Aspects of Hayai

Hayai has 5 possible Ronin to select from with individual abilities. Kazuya, Tomoe, and Oda are the default unlocked choices. Two more Ronin can be unlocked with high scores. The game motivates with its straightforward achievements list. I completed the achievements survive and combo-master in my first session, so you can too.

I liked the black, red, and white layout. It felt very classic for this theme. The art style is quick and responsive, with 2D effects that feel like a painting that responds to your input. Even the line you draw between enemies is procedurally animated in a calligraphy-stroke style drawing.

The game is not hard unless you want it to be, but getting to higher levels does require skill. Should you be defeated, start your session over instantly, or hit escape and switch to a different Ronin.

Quick Outline of Features

  • Mouse-based combat
  • Achievement system based on technique
  • Combo gameplay
  • International leaderboards (a feature which is becoming more common in indies)
  • 3 default Ronin characters, and 2 unlockable characters
  • Support for drawing tablets (what!)

Final Thoughts on Hayai

It’s a good game, it’s cheap, and it will probably work on any computer. This game is so simple and fun it has the potential to go big. It’s so re-playable, and so easy to start that anybody can play it. Also, note, it is a combat game but it’s not gratuitous or anything; this is an art game mostly.

If you’d like to check this out, head to the Steam link below if you wish. And make sure to watch the video above where I play the game myself!

As usual, thank you so much for visiting my work on MrDavePizza. If you have a game you’d like covered let me know. I’ve got a new space to work on content here, so expect a lot more games soon! Take care.

Vesper: Zero Light Edition – Nintendo Switch (IGC Showcase)

Vesper: Zero Light Edition is out on Nintendo Switch and PC today! Players can find this new version, plus the big debut Switch release, on eShop and Steam. It’s an innovative platformer with arcane space vibes and shimmering, colorful environments. It also includes a compelling and innovative storyline told through holographic recordings and plentiful checkpoint diversions. I played the first twenty minutes on my Switch for you. I have to say it’s one of the more stylistically compelling platformers I have played a release version of.

You might be familiar with one of my other past articles on the game Hollow Knight. It has earned plentiful imitation with no resistance, in a genre of platformers that is dominating the Nintendo eShop line-up. I particularly enjoy these types of games and am grateful to give it the full treatment for this showcase. So, I’m here to share more of its treasures with you. So, here I go.

Thank you to the publisher of, Vesper, Cordens Interactive, and also the Indie Game Collective for obtaining a showcase copy.

Synopsis and Diving into Vesper: Zero Light Edition

This game is not a shadow of any predecessors at all. Early in the game. I found myself stunned by the serious and ornate structure of the game. The intro strikes like a best-running serious sci-fi drama on television. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t impress me. It felt nice to work my way up to the ability aspects of the game; after getting acquainted with the immediate state of our main hero.

The planet is crumbling, and it is up to you to escape into a labyrinth of unlikely obstacles. These obstacles cater to every ability you’re given to solve them. This is classified as a puzzle platformer, which is maybe a genre on its own now. It’s the only way I can figure out all these Nintendo Switch releases.

The game is not really big on combat–at least within the early stages of gameplay; probably not at all from what I’ve researched. You will have to hoodwink and duck, dodge, hide, and roll past sentries for lack-of-a-better-term.

Features of Vesper: Zero Light Edition

  • Beautiful game cinematography and environments
  • Paced Progression through a falling but stunning world
  • Use a device called a drive gun to unlock obstacles in the game
  • A haunting sci-fi story that can be unlocked throughout the game
  • Intuitive prompts that lead you above and beyond areas
  • Use natural insights to decide the way you’d like to solve problems
  • Encouraged exploration
  • Now on Nintendo Switch and Steam

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t believe that Cordens Interactive gave us this game for the Switch release to try. At $9.99 USD, this is a masterpiece at a discount. Do you think this could be a game you’d be interested in trying? Because I do. Hollow Knight fans should take note of this one as an addition to a growing genre of HK-inspired games. And it has platform mechanics that are innovative and compelling.

This game is found in the Nintendo eShop on your console. (eShop web link here: Vesper: Zero Light Edition.) It is also available on Steam with the same updates I’ll have a link below.

Thank you so much for reading this showcase for IGC on my blog MrDavePizza. I hope you enjoyed this feature. Please continue to look around my site to find other game recommendations to consider for your own collection. Enjoy your games.

Existensis – So This is What It’s Like To Be Entranced

Existensis is a hand-illustrated philosopher platformer game from the creative spirit of dev Ozzie Sneddon/Librarium Studios. In Existensis you play a masked character known as The Mayor, who is actually an artist. The objective is to gather inspiration in a journal so you can use it to create a tower to represent the journey of life. From situations and interactions with characters spread throughout vaulting platform areas and cities. You can learn more about your environment and gradually collect enough information/inspiration to enter swirling vortices around certain characters. They will help you teleport somewhere new and completely different so that you can collect even more inspiration. This game is beautiful, mystical, and one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played. Let me take you through it.

Also, this showcase is made possible through collaboration with Indie Game Collective and Librarium Studios. Thank you.

The Beauty of Existensis

I’m not certain still if my taste is refined enough for Existensis, but that is a compliment to the actual game. I enjoy what Existensis has to offer and feel right at home in this ethereal world of inspired souls and brilliant flowing tapestries. Right when I began, I could tell that above all else, this experience deserves accolades for its artistic innovation in gaming. For example, the plethora of fully illustrated characters, including close-ups, is in my opinion a rare and exquisite treat. These aren’t just characters either, they’re like original subconscious archetypes.

There is no shortage of philosophical and even spiritual dialogue among the cast of all communities in over 15 levels to explore. The conversations are like poetry and the art is like a Jungian fantasy. Everything is just so so breathtaking and inviting. This was made as a gift to the player and surely took ages to meticulously design.

Existensis boasts 3-4 hours worth of hand-created gameplay, branching storylines, and alternative endings. There is no game-over or harsh confrontations. Don’t get the impression that this is on autopilot though. You’ll need to think about how to find certain areas, and who to trust when looking for clues for your journal. Be alert but don’t fret. Even if you boof a level you can restart your level at any point and try again!

The Lore of Existensis

In my game session with Existensis, I realized that there is more to the story than obstacles, which is one of my favorite characteristics of games. Actually, there is an entirely unique world. No one seems to be particularly at odds with anybody else, but there is a feeling of deep history with ancient orders and magical constructs. This aspect ties together the many hodgepodged yet syncretic designs of levels and platforms. You may meet a deity on one path, and a tourist on the other. It’s a very immersive, and compelling experience. If you want to really spend some time with this, and perhaps have a philosophical/mindful video game experience, you can find that here.

Characters get so deep and practically step aside as if their superiority is not particularly urgent. This makes it feel like these spirits have all had plenty of time to work out their issues and establish that reconciliation is complete. And, especially, it makes you feel like you’re in a world that’s somehow handcrafted yet deep with mysteries and paths. That’s pretty amazing, and bold.

A Beautiful Game

This game adheres to no particular denomination or dogma, but there is plenty enough deep content that if you want to play a spiritual video game, you can actually do it there. You don’t even really have to call it spiritual. Philosophical, intellectual, creative, complex. Those words work too.

This is a really cool game, but if you’re on the fence, it has already had glowing reception elsewhere. I love the ability to support this developer, and I reckon you could too.

Thanks so much for taking part in this look at Existensis here at MrDavePizza.com. I have plenty of new content, and tons to work through since my partnership with Indie Game Collective, I have top-notch recommendations regularly, so please have a look around, and come back! Cheers.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

For an elegantly and possibly metaphysically imagined game, try Ori and the Will of the Wisps. You’ll play as creatures that live in the purple glow of a shadowed forest. With open-armed playstyle integration, you’ll be able to leap and hop through levels without too much trouble worrying about foes or obstacles. There are some bad guys, but you won’t be straight into tooth-and-nail combat.

Believe me, I drop games I don’t want to review like peanut shells in a saloon.

Ori: What’s it About

There is another game called Ori and the Blind Forest that preceded Will of the Wisps which involves similar characters and similar environments. Although I am intrigued to investigate that game, I think there is a whole lot of content in this game that perfectly compliments any other works. It’s like watching Lord of the Rings before you saw The Hobbit. If you know what I mean. I know that they look similar and have similar characters. Oh, and it has a really heartwarming and adventurous story like Will of the Wisps, but that’s all I know.

reading Lord of the Rings before you saw The Hobbit. If you know what I mean. I know that they look similar and have similar characters. Oh, and it has a really heartwarming and adventurous story like Will of the Wisps, but that’s all I know.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps Screen Capture
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Screen Capture

Gameplay of Ori

There is a particularly lengthy story intro at the beginning of this game that I had no impatience watching, it was very interesting and fun to see what I was in for here. The story mixes with I guess was sort of a tutorial as some games do. I have led me on a quest involving an owl named Hu raised by woodlands spirits that could not fly. Many heartwarming moments unfold into Hu’s wing repair with a special feather, and things take off, literally! This is where the gameplay really starts.

This is a platform-side scroller. You play a spirit, creature, or both named Ori. Ori is the one that this story is about, although there are other characters.

I don’t know if I would call it a puzzle quest, because although I spent quite a bit of time acquiring “keystones” or a magic gate, most of the action was pretty physical. Running, jumping, climbing, that sort of thing. I guess there’s probably flying too, but it seems to get taken away rather soon. Lots of creative levels here, I imagine that’s a standard theme here. I really enjoy climbing moss in the game because it’s a very vivid sensory experience to imagine.

There is some action in the game. It’s not really violent. You may be forced to fend off weird little bug things and I had to outrun a vicious, kind of scary, wolf. It’s not a combat game per se, but there are things that go bump in the night in Ori and the Will of Wisps.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps Screen Capture

Final Thoughts

Everything in this game looks pretty much perfect. It is top-of-the-line in that regard. I have no doubts that its original game was just as colorful and imaginative. I have to admit, however, because of the amazing graphics it might task your graphics card if its dated or lower benchmark. You might notice how good it still looks on low graphic settings though.

I got a great deal on this game on Steam. It seems to go on sale every once in a while at some super cheap price, I waited for it and grabbed it when I saw a sale. You can acquire Blind Forest for a very favorable price usually, an yeah I probably will do that.

I’m glad because I had kept hearing about this game but it was slightly out of my range for a game I knew nothing about. It’s nice to finally know. And now I know, it’s a premium game worth every penny. If you want an all-around “good” game. You know, hey I need to spend money now to feel good, this is the one. I can’t really think of any good reason not to play this game, so, yeah, get it!

This is Dave Pizza. Check out more games at MrDavePizza.com and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

OPUS Rocket of Whispers – This Is So Intelligent

Mysterious backstory, cosmic balance, ancestral duty. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Heavy topics, yes, but not to worry. This game is poetry, and these types of themes are in the prequel OPUS: The Day We Found Earth. It seems that there is even a theme in common between that game and OPUS Rocket of Whispers, but I am hesitant to say, conclusively, what it is.

I’ll give you a quick background on this game. It takes place somewhere that may be Earth or possibly a blue equivalent. You play two characters. Alternating as the story sees fit, John, a survivalist rocket part scavenger, and Fei, the rocket constructing witch and emotional support to John.

The title “witch” is not thrown around loosely like a support class, this is a title given to the shamanistic mystics that play a super important part in the story. Most of it is clear in the first 5 minutes, but it is thematically complex. Also, it has occurred to me that this is not really a game for all audiences. Some of the themes, although not rude, are a bit mature like John’s background. If you’re cool with that, then read on.

Genius Loci

Gameplay

Genius Loci, which means spirit of place in Latin. Fei and John’s world has a thick heavy fog of spirits and spirits who inhabit it. This is crucial to understanding the game. While making a rocket sounds like a nice escape scenario for a barren world, it’s actually project of Fei and John’s attempt to honor the tradition of their fallen civilization. This is a ritual known as “Space Burial.” It’s a rather sweet sentiment for a game story that’s given a courteous comfort zone. This doesn’t surprise me given my experiences with The Day We Found Earth. What I mean by that, of course, is that there are equal amounts of gameplay juxtaposed with backstory and the current plot–not just one long cutscene.

“Space Burial” is something spirits of these planets have had for decades. Because of the state of things, spirit inhabitants scatter throughout the land waiting for their passage into the cosmos via a rocket. Something which is the domain of “witches” from the “Church of Earthology” before the plague.

Spring Ahead in OPUS Rocket of Whispers

Here, 25 years into the future, these two characters face odd obstacles of mathematical equations, part acquirement, and John’s terribly debilitating condition of being able to hear the cries of spirits. It’s not really creepy or anything. John’s disposition is a bit troubled, but it lifts at times. I played this game for quite a bit and I did not encounter anything too disturbing. Warning though, some of the background story in OPUS Rocket of Whispers covered by the cut scenes is rather emotional.

OPUS Rocket of Whispers

John was a happy-go-lucky kid that now has to deal with a troubled past. He’s actually rather pleased when he’s not in grief though, even towards the beginning. Fei chides him for his cynicism though and the two banter in a rather melancholic way.

Gameplay in OPUS Rocket of Whispers

OPUS Rocket of Whispers

Okay, that’s enough story outline. What’s the gameplay here? Well, most of it involves a combination of actual mechanical necessity and some of it involves misdirection or more story unveiling. You’ll wander through a pixel art top-down map of your outdoor surroundings and things hidden within the general vicinity of the rocket workshop. It’s a humble environment but aesthetically pleasing.

The game’s progress requires some puzzles for collecting objects. Fairly soon, the spirits guide you to collection areas like workshop roofs and blocked ritual areas. This makes things a lot easier and also engaging. I found the quest tasks like making metal cutters or boots a challenge to me in the right ways. The ability to go anywhere new becomes encouraging because most of the story is usually in relatively close quarters.

The Emotional Message

OPUS Rocket of Whispers has pretty good intentions. The free mobile version of the game ends in terms of length and content just about as long as The Day We Found Earth. If you purchase it, either on the console or after playing for free on mobile platforms, there are about 3 more hours of gameplay with the purchased version.

OPUS Rocket of Whispers

I recognize in Fei and John something I’ve seen in myself. A friendly, but necessary banter, something or somebody that keeps you strong knowingly even though it is a struggle. A nudge to stay alert. It’s a genuine survival method, although I’m not even sure that’s it either. Personally, I’m satisfied with that level of uncertainty.

There are certain themes in life that exist continuously in the human spirit. This game fills the void of purpose in a purposeless environment. First, it’s space, then it’s civilization, then it’s humanity. Or maybe the other way around. Each one is disintegrated and sometimes rebounds regularly to keep us strong. That’s my opinion anyway. You might recognize the concept.

For Posterity

I really was hesitant to try this game, because the first one was so good. I guess I wasn’t sure if it could be repeated. It made me feel something that I haven’t felt that often though. I recently paid a visit to the developer’s website, and I’m happy to inform you that they have announced the third game in the series to be released this year called OPUS: Echo of Starsong. It looks just as emotionally complex as its predecessors, and I eagerly anticipate the wait.

Also, one other thing. The soundtrack on this is amazing. It sets an ambiance that I felt in the first OPUS. Very instrumental and relaxed. It is listenable on Bandcamp at this link if you are searching for it.

If you enjoyed this, feel free to visit other articles and topics on this site. You can find more posts by either using the menu at the top or by visiting the main page MrDavePizza.com for recent posts. You can also follow me on Twitter at @MrDavePizza.com

The Gardens Between – Just Take Each Moment One Step at A Time

The Gardens Between is a breathtaking puzzle platformer from the indie but tremendously successful studio Voxel Agents in Australia. It was released in 2018. I played it on Switch but you can find it on many platforms.

I’m not sure if the preface of this game is an homage to any other pop culture time-traveling islands, but maybe not. I had some theories while playing that maybe some kind of altered planes of existence, which had me thinking about the name. The title, The Gardens Between has a mystical ring to it, but I don’t know if that is intentional. I think it might be, but that is my own projection. There’s no dialogue or anything to reveal these things, but that’s actually okay with me because it’s super original and such an interesting gameplay experience!

We have to get back to The Gardens Between!

As I follow the rabbit hole of indie games, I’m once again blown away by the talent from another title. I managed to acquire an HD capture card so you can have a glimpse of it up above in my YouTube video. I feel comfortable in this art style, it’s sort of reassuring or something, I’m not sure why.

The Gardens Between starts right away, two friends in a treehouse, a storm, a glowing sphere. One character touches the sphere and suddenly everything has vanished into a ton of cuckoo tiny islands of stuff. Puzzle time!

The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between

There’s another island with puzzles and mysteries, Myst. Why am I saying it though? I guess I’m just trying to figure out what this style and level of crafting remind me of. Things have levers, pulleys, wheels, and bridges. But it’s not actually something that would work, you know in the nonquantum archipelago of The Gardens Between. It’s pretty neat though, and it makes for some great experimentation.

The Sands of Time

Did I mention there’s time travel? I don’t really get sick of this mechanic. You might at first think this game is about holding the thumbstick to the right, then left, but there is actually more to it. The first few puzzles will introduce you to how it works. After the second group of islands, you’ll realize there is a strategy, and it’s so cool. You might even start noticing the characters’ participation in your choices. There are lot of little details all over the place. Like when you ring a small bell that was incorrect, but you ring it again and the other character affirms it with a subtle head nod.

The Gardens Between Gif

You might wonder where the characters are going, but it’s not necessary to think about it that way. These puzzles provide a routine of puzzles solving mindfulness, and that’s all you need to know! Look at the way this sofa is rendered though. Everything is neat to look at in this game.

Final Thoughts

The Gardens Between is suitable for anybody, there’s not a single tarnish upon the game with respect to topics. So, check it out. It’s totally unique and challenging in all the right ways. Be patient, keep an open mind, and game on!

If you enjoyed this article, check back, I update regularly. I started this site in the Summer of 2020 and I’m building it up to be a sizeable catalog of self-made family-friendly video game commentary. If you want to contact me I’m at dave@mrdavepizza.com. I’m also on Twitter and @MrDavePizza. The images and gifs for this article were from the game’s official press kit. I normally post my own, but they had some really good ones.

The game is available on Switch and PC and a whole host of other platforms listed on the game’s website: thegardensbetween.com. I might be sharing more cross-platforms in a broader categorization at MrDavePizza.com soon, but I’m still trying to figure out the best way. So many games are cross-platform anyway, but it’s one of those things where I just need to think about it a little more.