There seems to be a major new release almost every day during these weeks, but we also like to look at titles that were released earlier but are now finding their way to new platforms. Here are four that recently made the jump to (new) consoles: Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy, The Dark Prophecy, Blood Waves and Maggie the Magnet are all featured.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy review (PS4)
Publisher Big Sugar launched Ludomotion’s Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy back in May on PC, and the game’s now made it to consoles. It’s not just a good example of a procedurally generated roguelite, but also a testament to the fact that it’s not always bad to have to wait a while for a port to arrive.
The roguelike/roguelite genre is one of the most densely populated ones in all of gaming – partly because it lends itself so well to the smaller teams indie development that can reuse environments or generate them procedurally to save precious time. We’ve seen plenty of generic takes by now, but also the runaway success of games like Hades, Rogue Legacy and Spelunky. While there are some hardcore examples in the genre that really emphasize a punishing amount of difficulty, we tend to lean more towards the more accessible roguelite, which is where Unexplored 2 falls – even though you can choose to make the game harder with a few risk/reward mechanics that relate to what you want to keep for your next run.
What immediately stands out when you start Unexplored 2 is its sense of style. With a combination of hand-drawn art and cel shading, it’s gorgeous to look at, and it’s a showcase that demonstrates that this style can work very well from a top-down perspective as well. The game takes places in a fantasy setting and focuses on exploration, so you’ll be seeing plenty of the world on your quest to destroy the “Staff of Yendor”. That alludes to a lore-heavy story, but Unexplored 2 never quite feels like a narrative-driven experience.
That’s to be expected of course, as the environments are procedurally generated, but it’s more nuanced than that. What the game does well is to drip-feed the player with elements of its lore over the course of each procedurally generated run – so in essence you’re connecting your own dots and forming your own story and world view rather than having it presented to you in a linear fashion. It’s here that exploration starts to work in the game’s favor from a narrative point of view, even though your character gets replaced for every run so there’s much less in terms of character development.
Early player feedback based on the PC version indicated that the 1.0 build needed a bit of polish to iron out a few bugs, and this is where the half year wait for the console version helps – it features all of the improvements made to the PC version and we had a smooth experience with it. As with many top-down roguelites that aren’t twin stick shooters, combat can feel a little generic, but the exploration and worldbuilding elements makes Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy more than worth the journey, especially when you consider how attractive and unique it all looks and feels.
The Dark Prophecy review (PS4)
We always love a nice retro style adventure game, and that’s exactly what The Dark Prophecy was aiming for. It released on Steam at the start of the year through Start Warp and Meridian4, and has now made the leap to consoles with the help of Ratalaika Games, who of course regularly feature when we discuss videogame ports.
As you can probably infer from the title, The Dark Prophecy introduces players to a fantasy setting in which you play as a young boy called Jacob. You have to reach out to Merlin about an ancient prophecy, but getting there isn’t easy – turning into a quest of its own. But unfortunately, when you think you’ve gotten to a point where the game picks up speed and branches out to a wider narrative, it quickly ends, with barely an hour and a half of gameplay on the clock.
It’s a real shame, because in multiple ways The Dark Prophecy manages to capture the spirit of the classics it was inspired by. There’s a lovely retro art style and nice music, though it’s lacking when it comes to sound effects and voice acting. And despite its short length, it’s a bit rough around the edges as well, with underdeveloped characters, localization errors and a few small glitches that take a bit of the shine off a game that’s so visually attractive for retro adventure game fans.
With so many classic adventure games available on modern platforms (especially on Steam), it’s hard to recommend The Dark Prophecy when 30 year old games feel like a better alternative. We’d love to see the developer come back with a larger and more polished game though, as their love for the genre is clear.
Blood Waves review (PS5)
When it released for PC in 2017 and then for consoles in 2019, Blood Waves was extremely poorly received, so we were surprised to see it get a next/current gen console release. At least there’s a 50% discount for those who already own the previous generation’s version, but is it worth picking up?
For a game in its price range, Blood Waves looks somewhat impressive in that it does its best to echo the production values of large AAA games. But when we say echo, we really mean it blatantly tries to copy the look and feel of third person shooters like Strange Brigade while infusing it with a heroine that bears more than a passing resemblance to Lara Croft. It’s far rougher around the edges and it all looks way too generic, but it does stand out from the budget game crowd.
It all feels like a poor man’s version of much better games though, with wave-based levels where you clear out zombies and then just do it all over again – in the same location. There’s no narrative, the gameplay doesn’t evolve, and there’s no real diversity in enemy types either. It’s easy to understand why the release was poorly received back in the day, and the new-gen version doesn’t redeem the experience either. It runs quite well though, so kudos to the developer and port by Sometimes You for that at least. Unless you’re interested in the associated trophies, we’d recommend skipping this one.
Maggie the Magnet review (PS4)
Eastasiasoft is always ready to deliver when it comes to console ports, and Khud0’s Maggie the Magnet has now made the leap to consoles after a PC launch back in July. It’s a physics-based puzzle – though many of the puzzles are more skill and timing-based than they are logic-based. It’s got that “one more level” quality though, which is always a plus.
The core concept of Maggie the Magnet is incredibly simple. As Maggie, the only way you can move is by activating your magnetic powers, which pull you closer to a rotating central magnet – thus flinging you across the room. Doing so, you’ll have to pick up gears, flip switches and exit the level – letting magnetism and gravity do the work for you.
Maggie the Magnet’s simplicity can best be illustrated by the fact that this is a one-button game, and combined with the fact that it features an impressive 150 levels that are very short when mastered this would be a great mobile title as well. It reminded us of 10tons’ King Oddball – another game that combined one button controls with physics and expert timing.
Besides the urge to push on, you can also go back to previously completed levels for a better rating or to find some of the secrets hidden within them. With simple and colorful graphics this isn’t the most ambitious game out there and if you had told me this was originally a mobile title I would have believed it, but it works its deceptively simple concept very well and this is a lovely time waster.