With Varney Lake (the follow-up to Mothmen 1966), the arcade port of Cannon Dancer and the Cyber Neon Bundle by QUByte, we’re diving into the weekend with a trio of smaller releases.
Varney Lake review (PS4)
Varney Lake is a narrative-driven adventure game developed by LCB Game Studio and published by Chorus Worldwide Games – their follow-up to the impressive Mothmen 1966. The game offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane, blending mid-20th century pulp fiction storytelling with 80s home computer-inspired graphics. Players take on the role of paranormal investigator Lou Hill as he delves into the mysterious events that took place during the summer of 1954 at Varney Lake. The game offers branching narrative paths, “Choose Your Own Adventure” style gameplay, and engaging puzzles that allow players to unravel the truth behind the story.
One of the biggest positives of Varney Lake is the game’s strong storytelling, aided by a striking visual style. The game’s narrative is deeply engaging and keeps the player hooked from start to finish. The branching narrative paths provide an added layer of intrigue and make the game feel like a personalized experience, with some replay value involved as well. The game’s puzzles are accessible and well-designed, offering a satisfying level of challenge without feeling frustrating or overly complicated.
Another strength of Varney Lake is the game’s visual style that we mentioned. The 80s home computer-inspired graphics perfectly capture the nostalgic vibe of the game, while the rich, evocative illustrations add an extra layer of depth to the game’s storytelling. The game’s music and sound design are also noteworthy, adding to the game’s overall atmosphere and immersion.
However, Varney Lake is not without its flaws. The game is rather short, and we were able to complete it in just a few hours. Additionally, the retro approach for the audiovisual delivery means there is no voice acting, which is going to feel like a change of pace for players who prefer a more cinematic experience.
Overall, Varney Lake is a well-crafted and engaging adventure game that delivers on its promise of nostalgic storytelling and brain-tickling puzzles. While the game may be short and lacking in voice acting, its captivating narrative and charming visual style make it well worth checking out for fans of the genre, especially if you enjoyed the first game.
Cannon Dancer review (PS4)
Cannon Dancer, also known as Osman, has finally made its way to modern consoles almost 30 years after its original arcade release. Developed by ININ Games in collaboration with two key members of the original development team, Kouichi Yotsui and Utata Kiyoshi, this new version of the game boasts several enhancements and features not available in the original arcade version.
One of the major enhancements is the addition of save states and a rewind feature, which allows players to easily retry difficult sections of the game without having to start from the beginning. The game also features customizable controls, graphic filters and shaders, and in-game English language or the original Japanese with both being playable in standard and challenge mode. The actual gameplay owes a lot to the Capcom classic Strider (which isn’t weird when you consider the people behind it), so in terms of mechanics you’re certain to enjoy Cannon Dancer if that style appeals to you.
While Cannon Dancer is a faithful port of the original game, it is also quite difficult, requiring precise timing and execution – though the rewind feature of course alleviates this to a large degree. However, for fans of classic arcade-style platformers, especially challenging ones, Cannon Dancer is a must-play game that delivers intense action and that you’ll want to play without the modern tools that this port offers.
Overall, Cannon Dancer is a great addition to any retro game enthusiast’s library, with its enhanced features and faithful port of the original arcade version. Its challenging gameplay and high level of difficulty may not be for everyone, but those who enjoy a good platformer with precise controls and mechanics will find plenty to enjoy in Cannon Dancer.
Cyber Neon Bundle review (PS4)
QUByte Games’ Cyber Neon Bundle just released for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PS5, and despite its budget price point it consists of not one but two retro-style games that bring back the classic arcade gaming experience on modern consoles in a minimalist but neon-drenched kind of way.
Razortron 2000 is a top-down endless retro racing game that takes inspiration from classic racing games of the 80s and 90s, such as Road Fighter and Spy Hunter. Players can unlock new cars and climb up the leaderboards in this tribute to coin-eating arcade machines. With procedurally generated paths and traffic, each car changes the entire game’s color scheme, creating another variation of the experience. The game’s retro pixel art and general aesthetic adds to the nostalgic feel of the game, giving it a real 80s vibe.
The second game in the bundle, Cyberhunt, is a retro procedurally generated twin-stick shooter that also takes players back to the era of arcade machines. The gameplay is inspired by classic arcade games like Asteroids, Galaxian, and Space Invaders – going back about forty years in time. The old-school pixel art graphics also respresent this era, though the game does support modern conveniences – giving you access to trophies as you blast enemies out of the sky.
Overall, Cyber Neon Bundle by QUByte Games is a nice little bundle for fans of retro arcade games who want to relive the nostalgic feel of classic arcade gaming in modern consoles at a relatively low price point. With the procedurally generated paths and traffic and the endless gameplay of Razortron, and the old-school pixel art graphics and gameplay of Cyberhunt, the bundle offers a fun little diversion for players of all ages – though if you’re looking for a real steal you’ll find that these games are even cheaper on Steam. However, it’s hard to find two fun games bundled together at this price point on consoles.