If you didn’t know, Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw is a British games journalist, games designer and writer (amongst many other things I’ve probably forgotten). He is the sarcastic and quick-spoken voice behind Zero Punctuation, if nothing else.
I bought his two latest creations through Steam and they’re pretty much on opposite sides of the spectrum; Hatfall is a quick, quirky and fun game, whilst The Consuming Shadow is a Lovecraftian-themed, 2D horror game with some platforming and roguelike elements.
The premise behind Hatfall is simple: run into a shadow and catch a falling hat, then you win. Unless it’s not a hat, then you die. Sometimes, it’s a Wizard’s hat and you shouldn’t go around stealing those glorious, pointed headdresses.
The difficulty of the game is in the AI. As you progress, very similar looking characters will start filling the room with you, darting back and forth in a vain attempt to catch your hat. As you collect more hats, you can buy various appearances that change them to make your crazed flailing a little easier.
When you do, inevitably, fail this incredibly simple task, you have the opportunity to buy special items to decorate the office with: a picture of a horse, tires, a satellite targeting dish… Most of these add a little minigame to numb the sting of failure, ribbing on different genres and – honestly – making my girlfriend and I laugh until we cried.
For a few quid and a few minutes of time, Hatfall is brilliant. It’s available on your phone as well, so you can laugh your way through the tedium of transit.
The Consuming Shadow
Set in not-quite Britain, you are tasked with preventing an Ancient from entering our world at Stonehenge (obviously). One of the very first options in the game is to ‘Kill Yourself’, so that gives you a good indication of what’s to come.
You’ll need to traverse around ol’ Blighty, picking up clues and trying to figure who’s coming and what the banishment ritual to stop them is. In some of the towns you come across, you’ll find randomly generated dungeons where you’ll find the clues you need to be successful. This rogue-like aspect of the game can leave you scrabbling for answers at times, watching your Health and Sanity slip away as you jet off aimlessly to another town and piecing together the clues in your Notes, when you have a moment to spare.
The combat is pretty simple to pick up, you have a button to shoot and another to melee. However, resources are costly and sparse to find so you need to weigh up a shot and not fire blindly. You also have access to a number of spells which you can piece together as you progress, which has an interesting casting system that can be tough to accomplish quickly.
I’ll admit that I haven’t managed to successfully complete this game so far now. In my last run, I’d pretty much driven myself to the point of madness, as well as drug addiction in efforts to combat this, and eventually fell prey to insanity.
It’s a maddening game, coming to surround you as you progress and throwing you off-balance at every opportunity. One day, when I have my wits about me, I will complete a run of The Consuming Shadow.