The Bromantic Bro-venture in Grid-based Gaming - Folklands (Steam) Impressions

Tales have been told of the legendary triple threat in the entertainment world – the Jonas Brothers, the Bee Gees, and now, rising up in the ranks of indie gaming, the brothers behind Bromantic Games. With genes presumably infused with pixels and a shared joypad since birth, these three siblings have conjured up a delightful game into the world of settlement building: Folklands.

Discover the next indie gaming sensation on Steam with "Folklands" by the talented Bromantic Games trio.

Build, Relax, and Thrive

As the saying goes, "Everything old is new again," and Folklands embodies this motto perfectly. Its grid-based mechanics are a nostalgic nod to classics like the original Settlers, making many a millennial reminisce about those 90s Amiga gaming sessions. Yet, it adds the subtle gameplay elements of the venerable Age of Empires, minus the clash of swords and clang of shields, of course.

As you start on this tranquil builder, your primary focus are your townsfolks who are the lifeblood of your growing settlement. With each new woodcutter's lodge or stonecutter encampment you build, you're not just adding infrastructure, you're laying the foundation of a bustling, and hopefully, a thriving society. Want to give your folks a place to call home? Craft a few houses. Looking to quench their thirst and fill their bellies? Dig a well and set-up a berry shop. And for those particularly hot Summer nights, ensure the town's safety with a trusty fire depot.

Begin your Folklands journey here on Steam.

Discover the next indie gaming sensation on Steam with "Folklands" by the talented Bromantic Games trio.

Canvas of Dreams

On the graphical side, Folklands strikes that rare balance of simplicity and charm. The tiny sprite figures evoke a sense of nostalgia, yet are rendered with a contemporary flair that feels and looks fresh. The world is vibrant, and though its citizens may be tiny, their presence is mighty.

Now, let's talk about the music and sound effects. Gentle, melodic tunes set the tone, giving the game a feel somewhere between a zen garden and your favorite department store elevator. The ambient sounds, which includes the chirping of birds, the splashes of water, and industrious banging of metal on rock immerses you deeper making it feel like there really is a tiny world inside your monitor.

Yet, despite all of its promising features, no game is without its quirks and Folklands, while captivating (so much so that a supposed quick session stretched into a 3-hour marathon for me), could use some sprucing up.

For one, road connections occasionally throw tantrums, refusing to link up, and the delightful structures could benefit from some extra animated zest, like spinning wheels and billowing chimneys. Plus, imagine the charm of squirrels or small critters running about the landscape, or the poetic fall of leaves as a tree meets its lumbering end.

Discover the next indie gaming sensation on Steam with "Folklands" by the talented Bromantic Games trio.

Where Serenity Meets Strategy

All-in-all however, Folklands feels like a captivating book that you planned to read just one chapter of before bed, but ended up finishing at 2 am. It pays tribute to the classic charm and strategy of Settlers, infused with the Bromantic touch. With a bit more animation magic and some adjustments to the gameplay, Folklands has the potential to become the hidden gem that we never knew we wanted.

Note: The impressions above is based solely on the recently released demo on Steam.

Looking for more indie gaming recommendations? Check out our Indie section here.

Arcade Classics Meet Modern Artistry - Paper Planet (Steam) Review

Merging the whimsy of hand-drawn heroes with the thrill of roguelike challenges, Paper Planet turns the humble doodle into your mightiest ally.

Planet Paper is one of those games that takes the best of Gyrus and Tempest and rolls them into one fun and challenging game. For the uninitiated, Gyrus and Tempest are classic arcade games from the golden age of gaming. Gyrus, with its tubular space shoot-outs, and Tempest, with its dizzying vector-based vortex gameplay, have found a beautiful marriage in Doodle Games' recent indie offering.

Every Sketch Has Its Day

Paper Planet is to visuals what pop-up books are to literature: simplistic on the surface, but unfolding layers of complexity as you dig deeper. Comparing the game's aesthetic to origami feels about right as the intricacies lie in the folds, where the mere crease of a paper can breathe life into a character, or in this case, an entire world.

The world of Paper Planet is almost like your childhood art class coming to life. Remember the joy of making those stick figures dance across the pages of your notebook? This game captures that very essence, presenting a universe where doodles evolve and engage, all while dancing to the rhythm of bullets, explosions, and chaos.

Drawn to Danger

At its core, Paper Planet is a rogue-lite, bullet-hell extravaganza. Situated at the center of a vast galactic space, players are tasked with defending their paper-crafted planet from a barrage of alien invaders. Each alien downed contributes to a points tally, which, when saved up, can be spent on upgrading your arsenal and bolstering your defenses. Weapon progression is paramount here, as complacency will see players swiftly overwhelmed by the ever-increasing onslaught of doodled doom.

And the gameplay is not merely based on obliterating hostile invaders either. Your defensive tactics must be as varied as the threats you face. For example, while your planet can shrug off the blows from yellow missiles, your turret cannot, necessitating a dance of precision shooting and evasive maneuvers.

On the flip side, red missiles leave your planet utterly defenseless, compelling you to activate its protective shield. These elements elevate the gameplay from a typical bullet-hell frenzy to a more tactical ballet of strategy, demanding both finesse and forward-thinking for survival

The game also features a local co-op mode accommodating up to four (4) players, which significantly amplifies its replay value. However, as this review pivots on the single-player experience, I'll reserve judgment on the multiplayer dynamics at another time..

Merging the whimsy of hand-drawn heroes with the thrill of roguelike challenges, Paper Planet turns the humble doodle into your mightiest ally.

A Few Creases in the Folds

Despite how good the gameplay is, no game is without its flaws, and Paper Planet has a couple tucked beneath its paper folds. First, several of the powerups feel disproportionately overpowered, turning levels into lopsided affairs as you can simply sit back and just hold down the fire button and eliminate all the threats on screen.

Secondly, while the journey is packed with chaotic pandemonium, the destination arrives a tad too soon. A few more sittings, and players might find themselves yearning for an endless mode or more menacing bosses to challenge their doodle defending prowess.

While both the classic keyboard/mouse combo and the controller strut their stuff commendably, there's an undeniable charm to the tactile feel of a controller. The feel of its motion marries flawlessly with the game's orbital mechanics, making you glide seamlessly through the most heated stints of cosmic chaos.

And yet, in a twist of tech irony, my first try with the controller setup played hard to get. It took a few rounds of plugging-then-unplugging before the game was able to recognize my controller. Here's hoping for a quick fix to resolve this minor nuance.

Merging the whimsy of hand-drawn heroes with the thrill of roguelike challenges, Paper Planet turns the humble doodle into your mightiest ally.

From Scribbles to Supremacy

All-in-all, in a gaming universe brimming with newly released titles, it's a breath of fresh air to play something that harks back to simpler times, yet doesn't feel dated. Paper Planet seamlessly fuses the nostalgia of childhood sketches with the thrill of arcade classics.

Yes, it could do with a few more folds and creases to enhance its longevity, but as it stands, it's an experience that's undeniably worth the, um, paper it's drawn on. So, if you're looking for a visually striking, gameplay-packed joyride through a world of pen and paper, Paper Planet is the cosmic journey for you.

Looking to read more indie reviews? Check out our review page here.

PixelArt Interpretation: Autumn Leaves

Title: Autumn Leaves
Artist: @prantare

Standing before this old house surrounded by trees with their leaves gently floating down upon its roof is a truly magical experience.

This breathtaking image is a beautiful tapestry of oranges, yellows, and browns, with each hue forming a distinct pattern yet blending seamlessly together.

I can almost feel the gentleness of the leaves as they rustle against the roof creating a calming reminder of the cycle of life.

From the leaves that once grew and flourished in the Spring, to their death and rebirth every Fall.

At this moment, you feel a deep sense of tranquility and peace as the beauty of nature comes into focus. It is a special sight that represents a place where one can find solace and peace in the ever-changing seasons.

This one scene will stay in my heart and mind for a long time.

PixelArt Interpretation: The Pond

Title: Pond
Artist: @smolodev

The still surface of the pond mirrors the serenity of the surrounding landscape, with red rose petals floating gracefully atop its crystal-clear waters. Yet something is strangely missing in this idyllic scene; the presence of life, as not a single fish or aquatic creature can be found swimming beneath the water's mirrored surface.

I suppose it is in this absence of movement and clutter that true peace can be found. A somber place that transcends fleeting moments of activity, and instead, dwells in a state of tranquil stillness.

Each red flora, symbolize this stillness, with its beauty amplified by its solitude, as the soft ripples they create gently disturb the calm surface. Just beneath the water, reflects the shimmering shadows that hide upon its facade, like drops of blood staining an otherwise pure canvas.

This type of serenity, perhaps, reminds us to slow down and take time to savor these quiet moments of peace brought to us by the beauty that only life and nature can provide.

You can read more of my PixelArt Interpretations here.

Art Interpretation: Little Girl Gazing

As I look at this image of this innocent little girl with her curly hair tied on both sides of her head, I am inspired by the endless possibilities etched into the curiosity on her face. She looks up at the sky with wonder, perhaps dreaming of what she can do or become in life.

The portrait here serves as a reminder that every child, regardless of race, color, or background has the potential to reach for their dreams and achieve greatness. The limitless expanse above her serves as a metaphor for how high they can soar if they are given equal opportunity, support, and access to resources.

This image captures both the innocence and determination of youth, reminding us all to strive for a world where every child is supported in reaching their fullest potential. This little girl's gaze is a testament to not letting any obstacles hold us back from chasing our own aspirations and making our own mark on the world.

PixelArt Interpretation: Adopt Me?

Title: Adopt Me?
Artist: @AemAsca

As the young girl kneels on the ground, staring into the cardboard box, we can't help but feel a flood of emotions going through us. Within the confines of that small space, a gentle head peers over and waits to be welcomed into a loving home.

The words "Adopt Me?" written on the box not only call out to the little girl but to anyone who sees this scene unfold before them. With those subtle words, we are reminded of our immense capacity to love and to do so with compassion, and how even the smallest of God's creatures can touch our hearts in so many ways.

And yet, this simple image also highlights the harsh reality of animal overpopulation, homelessness, and cruelty as each year countless animals find themselves abandoned and without a permanent home to call their own.

As we witness this little girl's desire to offer refuge and care for this small creature, we are faced with the following question: what can we do to help more animals find their forever homes? This touching scene serves as a reminder that every gesture counts and that we have the power to make a difference in an animal's life.

Pixel Art Interpretation: This Old PC

The old PC sits neglected and forgotten, covered in dirt and vines, and yet, despite its dilapidated exterior, it still somehow manages to function. With a snap of a finger, the monitor flickers to life, displaying a game that transports the player to a world unimaginably different from the one in which the machine resides.

As I gaze upon this PC, it continues to perform its designated task and I cannot help but think about the power of technology. In a single moment, it can whisk us away from our current reality and transport us to an entirely new world full of boundless possibilities. And yet, as time marches forward and newer technology emerges, we so often cast aside our old, but loyal machines without a second thought.

This old and forgotten PC serves as a poignant reminder that just because something may appear outdated and tarnished on the outside, it does not mean that it has lost its value or purpose on the inside. So let us remember not to discard those who are no longer shiny or new, for they too, in their own humble ways, possess their own unique beauty and worth.

Pixel Art Interpretation: A Cold Beer

Before us, is a mug of cold beer, with its frothy white foam cascading over the rim, which can symbolize so much. It represents, to me, the basic human need for nourishment and satisfaction, as well as the beauty and simplicity of enjoying a cold beverage on a hot day.

But it also represents something deeper, as the bonds that can be formed over a shared love of beer and the camaraderie that comes with sharing a drink with friends. When you look at this piece of art, It is a reminder to slow down and savor each moment, each sip, each taste of rich malt and hops.

The overflowing foam serves as a visual metaphor for the overflowing joy and contentment that can only come from simply indulging in a cold brew at the end of a long day. Within that foamy mug lies, not just refreshment, but also connection and meaning.

Art Interpretation: Medusa

Medusa, with her serpentine locks and deadly gaze, represents the duality of women, as creatures and seductresses, nurturers, and destroyers.

Medusa, with her serpentine locks and deadly gaze, represents the duality of women, as creatures and seductresses, nurturers, and destroyers. Throughout history, she has been demonized for her power and sexuality, deemed a monster for exerting control over her own body and destiny.

Yet, is it not men who fear and revile her, who try to confine her within the narrow confines of their own limited understanding? Medusa's true power lies in her refusal to be reduced to a mere object of male desire or domination. She challenges societal norms and upends expectations, refusing to conform to society's standards of femininity and beauty.

In many ways, Medusa represents the strength and independence that all women inherently possess. So let us embrace Medusa in all her fearsome beauty, for she represents the power of women to defy expectations and carve out their path in a world that seeks to silence them.

Pixel Art Interpretation: Universe

This pixel art piece by @xxrednijaxx96, shows a bustling city below, with its bright lights and tall buildings. Above, the stars twinkle serenely in rhythm with the moon as the planet Saturn with its rings is visible in all its celestial glory.

When I look at this artwork, I am reminded that despite our busy lives, we are just a small part of something much greater. The pixelated style adds to this feeling of insignificance in the grand scheme of things, and that our existence is simply a tiny pixel in the universe. It, however, also tells us that each pixel, representing each individual person and thing, is an integral part of this larger picture and cannot exist without each other.

This artwork serves as a reminder to appreciate the beauty and interconnectedness of our own world and the wonders around us.

PixelArt Interpretation: #Ukrain

The pixel art of this once-thriving building in Ukraine used to bring a feeling of tranquility and peace as its occupants went about their everyday lives. However, that peace was shattered by the invasion of Russia and those dreams lie scattered amidst bullet holes and rubble, a stark reminder of the destruction brought by one man's ability to tear apart peace.

The scene is a tragic reminder of the devastation war can bring, yet also a testament to the unwavering courage of the people who fight against it. A few windows still burn bright, others remain in total darkness serving as a poignant reminder of the lives forever lost.

Amongst the wreckage, the passage of white clouds against the blue of the sky offers a glimmer of hope, faithfully indicating that one day, this conflict shall too pass. As we gaze at the dilapidated building, we are forced to contemplate our own actions and the consequences they may bring. The image here may never be restored to its full glory, but perhaps with careful consideration and forethought, future conflicts can be prevented.

PixelArt Interpreation: View

From deep space, our planet looks like a tiny pixel of blue amongst the endless expanse of darkness. The white swirls of clouds mesh with the delicate blue haze of Earth's atmosphere, protecting us from the harshness of the unknown.

Yet, as insignificant as we may seem in comparison to the vastness of the universe, our world is a fragile creation. And as we continue to harm this precious pixel in our cosmic artwork, it is important to remember its fragility and strive to protect it for future generations

But just as pixels come together to form beautiful works of art, humanity must come together to protect and preserve our world. As inhabitants of our blue planet, it is up to us to defend and nurture its delicate balance and to be responsible stewards of this tiny speck floating amongst the stars.

Pixel Art Interpretation: October with Rusty F

I actually like this little piece of artwork as it shows the dichotomy of two worlds. One is nurtured by nature's hand, the other forged by the brute strength of man, and yet, both find themselves together at the end of their existence.

The pumpkin, riding in the back of the truck, to me, symbolizes the cyclical nature of life. As a seed, it has spent its days growing and soaking up the sunshine, before being harvested and brought to its final destination. And at the end of its life, it breaks down and decomposes, slowly becoming nourishment for new life to grow.

The pick-up truck itself is a symbol of hard work and adventure, traversing dirt roads and gravel on a journey toward an unknown destination. Together, these two symbols illustrate the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things and the impermanence of life.

So next time you pass by a pickup truck with a pumpkin in the back, take a moment to contemplate the deeper meaning of its existence. Or just enjoy the fall vibes of Halloween - whichever works for you.

PixelArt Interpretation: Silence 2

The soft glow of the lone streetlight illuminates the deserted street, a stark contrast to the chaotic swirl of snow enveloping everything in its path. The empty buildings that stand on either side seem to contemplate this small beacon, a reminder of civilization amidst the harsh and unforgiving elements of nature.

The tranquility of this scene is both haunting and mesmerizing as if frozen in place like a pixelated work of art. As humanity continues to plunder and destroy our natural world, moments like these serve as a reminder that we are but a minuscule part of something much greater and more powerful.

Yet even in our insignificant ways, we possess the capacity to create light amidst the darkness, warmth amidst the cold, and hope amidst despair. Great job at conveying such a mood.

Pixel Art Interpretation: Isolation

Some people are forced into a state of loneliness. Others, perhaps, choose it.

For this young girl, it's a combination of both. As she sits at the bus stop in the middle of the night, she is reminded once again of her constant state of isolation. Surrounded by darkness with just a flicker of light, she wonders how she got here. Did she take a wrong turn? Did someone lead her astray? Or did she make her own series of poor decisions that landed her at this lonely intersection of obscurity?

The truth is, it doesn't matter. What is important is finding a way out - a path that leads to connection, purpose, meaning, and salvation. But for now, all she can do is sit and wait for the next bus to arrive, hoping it will take her somewhere - anywhere - but this desolate spot.

As another hour ticks by, she will wonder if anyone will notice or care enough to ask if she's okay. But somewhere deep inside, she already knows the answer.

PixelArt Interpretation: Colder Days

Title: Colder Days
Artist: @PixelArtJourney

This image, to me, tells a story of two worlds and the people that live in and out of them. On the outside, the headstone lining against the freshly fallen virgin snow, reminds us, of where life ends while the humble log cabin depicts where it begins.

The serene and fragile landscape represents the separation of both worlds through the use of vivid lighting and shadows and is elegantly expressed by those living and by those, through reflection, who have had their lives taken.

The pathway does not go all the way up or down, perhaps, to remind us that our physical life is temporary and that the spiritual one is eternal, and for us to enjoy life to its fullest.

Pixel Art Interpretation: 'The Archer'

Title: The Archer
Artist: @_ruskom_

I'm fascinated by this image as we glimpse at the aftermath of a battle we did not witness nor were we prepared for. The Archer stands guard, eyeing the landscape for further threats with confidence oozing from his every pore as he swaggers to prep his bow. The landscape is calm, the environment quiet, yet we know through our own experiences, that nothing is ever what they appear to be.

The image was made with sublime contrast and breathtaking artistry without the need for special effects, sensational lines, or colors. The layering background represents, to me, an endless wave of uncertainty that our hero must and will face.

Today, he survives, but tomorrow is another story.

Pixel Art Interpretation: Chill Vibes

Title: 'Chill Vibes'
Artist: @pixeljeff1995

To me, Chill Vibes encompasses a scene of love, loss, regret, and sadness that can be evoked not only through pixels but through the artist himself. It is all melancholy and loss, and delightfully somber, with enough but not too much magic realism. This one scene, as it stands, could be the start, or the end, of a love story.

Chill Vibes opens with a spellbinding, wordless sequence of a young woman peering through an open window. The coolness of the air outside commands that darkness approaches. The colors used make Chill Vibes one of my very favorite scenes in which to gaze upon.

From certain angles, you can see, barely, the woman's determination, ambition, and sadness. We are left to guess what she is actually feeling and the artist does a brilliant job of focusing on those angles without revealing too much. The atmosphere is enhanced by the wisp of a gentle breeze and interrupted only by the subtle charge of her cell phone.

Such a striking scene of a woman all dressed up, and yet, has nowhere to go.