The Dark Steam Hunt Volume Two
Updated: Jul 21
Greetings to thee once again, as you might remember I might have gotten a little angry in the first Volume. Extremely angry in fact. This time things will be a little bit more professional (not too much, don’t want it to be boring). However there will always be bad Steam games that I play for the two hour minimum so you can avoid having to spend money and time on trash. (Please check out the Hall of Fame to find great games). I do this for you beautiful people out there at the expensive of my sanity (not really). Please keep in mind this series does not have a definite schedule as I have only so much time within a week.
On with the show:
I have to admit the idea behind 16bit Trader is rather interesting. Role playing as a trader who travels the land buying and selling products in order to gain profit, where all you have in terms of gameplay is economics and your wits in order to survive.
There are some games that come close to this idea such as Moonlighter (Rogue-like RPG where you can see items you pick up on your adventures in your shop) and Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale ( A shop management Sim with a top down dungeon crawler with RPG elements).
Both are not solely based around the economics of trade but rather an aspect of a much wider game (If I am wrong please let me know because I could not find any). This makes 16bit Trader unique and an interesting take on the grene that could have made a great game. The problem is that 16bit Trader is not a good game.
16bit Trader’s story is not the best, less of a deep involving story but rather a reason for you to be doing what you are doing. You are the son of a wealthy merchant who loses all his money to some greedy man-creature after he dies and you have to get the money back in order to pays. This is fine to be honest. It gives enough of a reason for you to continue playing and a win state of 1,000 gold. There are a number of side quests that become available but they amount to taking a person to a place about three times then get paid. It’s not really compelling but it offers some spice to what would be an otherwise bland setting.
In theory the gameplay could be fun. You have an entire map’s worth of towns, cities, mines and more to explore and exchange goods and services (mostly goods). Each town has a market place where certain items can be bought or sold while others can simply be sold. Quests unlock at various points in the story (?) That if completed can give a lot of gold.
However there is one big problem that comes in the form of lack of control and RNG (Random number generation). You have no control over the prices, either buying or selling with no kill or opinion to try and haggle or discover what prices people are willing to buy products. It amounts to finding out how much you can buy and selling enough to not go bankrupt.
Those bloody bandits:
This is not a bad thing in theory if it were not for the random events that happen, each time you leave a place it will cost you a number a days and a certain amount of money depending on the length of travel. This is not that bad of an idea until the game randomly throws a toll gate that deducts a certain amount of coin.
You never see them coming or have any way to prepare asides from the happy coincidence of maybe having enough money to pass though and not be bankrupted. That is to not say anything about the random bandit raids where you have no means of defending yourself. The game just rolls a dice and decides to take some money from you. You can reduce this by hiring body guards but they take so much money in so little time that it will bankrupt you regardless. It does not save you from the random toll roads or the cost of travel. It just adds to it.
Diggy diggy hole:
Because you cannot affect the prices of your goods nor do prices of goods rise or fall like in most normal economies. There is no incentive to hold onto goods or trying to sell them in a different town because price never changes. You might as well just buy as much as you can and sell them only when you run low on money. You can look for diamonds that can be sold for high prices.
In order to get diamonds you have to mine them. The problem is that some mines won’t give you the diamonds unless you have a map, which you need to get from talking to people in the pub. It does not tell you anything about this. There is no skill involved in the digging regarding how many diamonds are dug up or even if you can get diamonds. A button is pressed and it’s up to the dice roll. If you stumble on the diamond mine that needs a map then you will waste money on two trips, that’s without the random dice roll plotting to steal your money.
Thou die killth thee:
The side quests are egregious of this to the highest degree; you just have to go from place to place, losing money for no good reason, until it ends. The money given to you is large but it never lasts. The game always ends in bankruptcy. The game plots to destroy you financially not because of failure on the player’s part but rather on the flip of a coin. The lack of control from the player is not an enjoyable experience. Why should I keep playing when I could lose because the game decided to take money more from with for no reason?
One might say it is meant to be realistic, and that is true as life can throw you a curve ball that bankrupts you at no fault of your own. I doubt that was the intention and even if it was, it’s neither compelling nor is it fun. It’s aggravating to just lose over an hour’s worth of process to the roll of a dice.
Art-style and Graphics:
If you were going into this game expecting the graphics and art-style of the 16 bit area (Chrono Trigger, Mortal Kombat or Metroid) then expect to be disappointed. It has something along the lines of a paper craft cartoon. It’s not bad, the style does have a particular charm to it even if it does look rather cheap.
It runs fine, no crashes or lag or bugs of any description. By most standards it should stop there. However there is the interface. You should be able to click the button with the mouse, you should not have to click the space to the right of button in order to activate it. I am astounded by how this was able to appear and how any one on the dev team thought it was an acceptable thing to ship in the final product or that no one seemingly never questioned the idea to not fix this glaring problem is damning.
16bit Trader could have been a decent game, maybe even a great game. However it’s over reliance on RNG and a broken interface make it a tedious waste of time. Don’t play this game please. Try one of the other business management I mentioned here until something better games around. 16bit Trader is not worth any investment.
I love a good platformer as most of you wonderful readers will know. (Hell there are two in the Hall of Fame). Platformers as a genre have given some of the most enjoyable experiences in gaming history. Mario 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, early Sonic, Psychonauts and of course Rayman Origins/Legends among many others too numerous to mention have been a core part of entertainment and joy for adults and children alike. But this is not about those games; this is the Dark Steam Hunt wonderful reader.
“Abandon all hope ye who enter here....”
(Okay that was a little melodramatic)
You play as a....creature named Kabitis who is running after a robot that has kidnapped some non animated humans for reasons. I don’t know what the story is about or who any one is so I will leave the screen short of what passes for a story in this game and you can tell me what Kabitis is about.
I would like to draw your attention to the main thread bare store page of Kabitis. “Platform game with new features”. I cannot for the life of me see what the new features are. It’s as barebones a platfomer you can get, all you need is the arrows on your keyboard. Even then the controls sluggish and often refuse to work normally.
I should expect when I jump on a foe it stops moving but is too much for Kabitis who sometimes loses a life for no good reason. The game does not explain what the bottles (I assume they are powerups) do nor does it really explain any of it’s mechanics. Why, if I touch a top half of pair of spikes a skull appears that gradually fills up? And when it does it instantly kills me? Why is there a time limit of three minutes that kills me when it reaches zero? Why is there a time limit at all asides from adding another annoying element that adds nothing to the experience?
A level downward:
Maybe it wouldn’t be so pointless if the levels won’t so blandly designed. The levels are just you moving the character from one side to the screen to the other with no change of scenery or change in momentum. The beach levels are the most insulting in regards to level design. All you do is work on a straight even beach for the entirety of the levels. You might jump half heartedly to get stuff but all you do is go in one direction, never changing. It is amateurish level designs that make my custom levels in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 level editor look like Rayman Legends.
A sinister plot:
I have not finished Kabitis and I never will because of two major flaws. There are no check points in any of the levels nor does the game save itself after you close. (If there is then the game does not say or show me.) That means that if you die (and you will, a lot) you begin back at the very start of the level which is annoying. But if you quit the game for whatever reason (like dinner or spending time with loved ones) the game starts from the complete beginning.
This is stupid for a number of reasons. First of all if the game crashes and you are a decent way through the game then you are screwed, if you have to do anything else then your progress is gone. This is an unforgivable design over sight for the game to make. This lack of saving is even more egregious when the game throws in RNG boxes that either kill you or help with no skill or timing on your part.
You just roll a dice and the game may or may not kill you or hinder you in such a way (like stripping a minute from your time or have a bee chase and kill you). It is neither fair nor is it fun. Just cheap difficultly thrown in with all the care of a dumping site. The inconsistent hit boxes make the platforming even more tiresome, as explained two paragraphs ago, I should not have to worry about losing HP for no good reason one moment when I do the same thing again with a different result.
Art-Style and Graphics:
The game looks hideous; animations are stiff with a makeshift stop motion style that looks awful and cheap. The Kabitis itself is one of the most unpleasant platforming...things I have seen. I can’t tell what it is. The yellow and red colour with black eyes all come together to make it unappealing visual that you cannot escape from. Every enemy is a boxy thing that look terrible and as pleasant a visual as a pile of rusty nails.
I will give Kabitis the credit, it run very smooth. I have nothing to complain about here.
Kabitis might run well but it’s a ugly game with pathetically weak patforming and level design. The RNG is out to get you and the lack of any save system will damn this game to hell forever. Don’t buy this game please.
From the creators of Zombie Carz, Tisnart Tiles and Tenshu General (I have not played any of those) comes Taiku Mansion. A....thing that harkens back to point and click escapes rooms. It’s....underwhelming to say the least. And short, so very short.
The story is pitiful. You are an unnamed voice who arrives at sinister mansion because an unnamed dead friend told you to. However once there you are trapped in the mansion and a sinister hooded thing that passes for an antagonist demands you to escape the mansion before sunrise. Once you do (because tomorrow never comes) the game ends on a limp cliff-hanger that it does not deserve or need. One might think that with the suggestion of time that the game is setting up some sort of time limit. That if you cannot solve the puzzles in time the game does...something bad. But there is no such thing; you will always escape before dawn. There are no narrative stakes or no reason to fear the nameless, motiveless captor. There is no tension within the story and it’s so thin it is impossible to care.
With no risk of failure, the only thing that could offer some sort of challenge would be the puzzles. Unfortunately there are a lack of clues for each puzzle making them either extremely easily or you have to guess what the developer is thinking. The most blatant example of this was with a certain puzzle that needs you to know a number sequence from Metal Gear Solid. The only clue you have is that it is from another game. Another game could mean anything from Dragon Age Origins to Bioshock. There is no other clue, this game is impossible without a guide. The puzzles are obtuse beyond repair. One can say it was a means to pad out the running time because if you know the solutions the game takes fifteen minutes to complete.
Graphics and Art-Style:
It’s rather low resolution but not really ugly either. It reminds me of point and click (that Taiku Mansion I suppose is basing itself on) games. It is not visually hideous but not really enjoyable either. It’s just mediocre.
It runs fine, nothing wrong with the game.
Taiku Mansion short length might make the game a harmless buy but the obtuse puzzles that want to waste your time make it an unrewarding time sink.