First Impression: Resident Evil 4 (PS2) ~ Leon, Help Me! LEEEEOOONN!

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Wikipedia entry

Not to long ago, I revealed my 10 favorite games I have started playing in 2018. One of these games was Resident Evil 4. Now, I shorty explained why I enjoyed that game so much in that article but I think it’s time to give a more in depth opinion on the game. I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m closing in on the mid-way point of the game. I think I have seen enough of the game to give my first impressions on the game and to give my honest opinion on the game. So, will this be the game that drags me into survival horror or will this game be the one that turns me off? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

Ashley & Leon’s “vacation”

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In this game, you take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy. A police officer that was involved with Raccoon City that has been sent to Spain to rescue the President’s kidnapped daughter. Very quickly after your arrival, you discover that things aren’t normal and that something went horribly wrong. It’s up to Leon to find and rescue Ashley as quickly as he can.

The writing in this game is excellent. Some story elements are explained in notes you can find in the world and others are explained in cutscenes. The voice acting is amazing, I especially love the voice acting during combat sections since it really helps with building the atmosphere. The only missed opportunity in my opinion is that there aren’t a lot of interactions between Ashley and Leon during your exploration. Maybe Bioshock Infinite with Booker and Elisabeth spoiled me too much there.

Most of this game is a sort of escort quest. But, Leon isn’t taking Ashley on a nice vacation to Spain, at all. Remember the start of this section? Leon came to the village to extract Ashley and get her back to the United States of the Americas.

Now, I’ll talk more about gameplay mechanics later but first I want to talk about a flaw with the story of this game. The flaw is that some parts of the story, especially some characters and events aren’t explained too well to newcomers. This game is the first Resident Evil game I’m trying to beat and I had to look up certain things. Now, at the other hand, these unexplained gaps in the story made me even more interested to play the previous Resident Evil games so that everything can fall into place.

Since I haven’t beaten the game, I won’t comment on the writing too much. To be quite honest, I feel that sometimes the story takes a bit of a backseat and is more used as a sort of tool to string different sections together. I even dare to say that you would be able to cut some sections out without it making a (big) impact on the story or the atmosphere. Yes, the notes fill in some of the gaps but since they are optional and can be skipped, the story feels incomplete to me. As if there were sections removed from the final version.

Ashley isn’t Elisabeth

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Now, I knew in advance that this game was going to be an escort mission sort of game.I have played Bioshock Infinite, so I got used to guiding a character around.

Now, there are big differences between Elisabeth and Ashley. First of all, Ashley can be kidnapped. Whenever certain enemies are close to her, she can be picked up and kidnapped. Whenever she is dragged through a door to another section, it’s game over.

There are two other big differences. The first is that Ashley isn’t helpful during your exploration. You can tell her to wait, hide and follow you. She can only hide in certain places, she doesn’t look for them herself. Now, I tested out how good her pathfinding is. Whenever I called for her when she was in hiding and I ran to a corner of the map, she was always able to find me and team up with me.

The second big difference is that Ashley isn’t invincible. If you see the screenshot I placed a bit earlier, you notice that Ashley has a health bar as well. So, you have to be careful that Ashley doesn’t take damage. Since, you need to rescue her alive. Whenever you use your healing items, you can choose to heal either yourself or Ashley.

Thankfully, both Elisabeth and Ashley rarely get in your way during combat. Elisabeth goes and looks for items while Ashley ducks so fast when you aim at an enemy behind her, it’s almost impossible to hit her. Also, whenever I threw a grenade in her direction to try and defeat an enemy close to her, she quickly gets out of the way. Thank god, I would have thrown out the disc if that wasn’t the case.

Now, I have been talking about the differences between Ashley and Elisabeth for a while now. But, how does this game play? What is the actual gameplay? This game is an adventure-exploration 3D shooter game. I even dare to say that you can compare it to the reboot Tomb Raider games to a certain extent. The big differences are Ashley and that this game focuses more on big bosses and horror than Tomb Raider.

I have to admit that I’m playing this game on easy difficulty. Because this is one of my first times I’m playing a survival horror game, I wanted to get used to the mechanics before I challenged myself and played through the genre on a harder difficulty. Surprisingly, this game keeps being challenging. I’m always thinking on how I can save the ammo of my most powerful weapons to quickly dispatch groups of enemies.

The biggest thing I dislike during the combat is that I can’t see a difference between an enemy that is close to dying and one that is full health. What is even more annoying is that it’s sometimes, and especially with the bosses, hard to read if you are hitting them or not. In one run, I was sure I hit an enemy but the enemy didn’t go down and used her chainsaw to insta-kill me. The red dot at the end of where you are aiming is too small and too little of an indication during hectic combat. Because of this, I’m sure that I have wasted so much ammo fighting bosses.

I think I can summarize it like this: the combat is a bit rough around the edges. While it’s a lot of fun, sometimes I got annoyed with the limitations of the mechanics. At one hand, I can understand where the developers were coming from. This game is a survival horror game after all and you have to fell tense and afraid, since it’s a horror game. At the other hand, it doesn’t take away that I would have loved to see a bit more polish on the combat.

Something I’m disappointed a bit by are the puzzles. I feel that most of the puzzles rely a bit too much on the “press the buttons in the right order” cliché. Almost all of the non-combat puzzles have to pressing switches in a certain sequence. Granted, I’m somewhere in the middle of the game so, it’s quite possible that the rest of the game will have a bit more unique puzzles.

It has aged

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Because I’m a retro gamer, I don’t mind it when games look dated. If you wondered why I didn’t play the HD version for this article, I can easily explain that by saying that I was able to pick up a physical copy of the original and that interests me more as a collector.

Now, the game looks fine on PS2. There is a lot of detail in the atmosphere of the game and the monster design is delicious grotesque. I especially love it when characters transform mid-battle, because then I have to think quickly and change my strategy accordingly.

But alas, the fact that this game is now almost 15 years old is starting to show. In certain sections, I feel that there isn’t enough detail. I also had the impression that in certain sections, the textures on the models were a bit too flat making certain objects like a bed in the castle look like it would belong in a PS1 Tomb Raider game. I haven’t played the HD version of the game, but from what I have seen, all the complaints I have about the visuals… well, let’s just say that the HD version looks a LOT better than the PS2 version. I even checked some comparison videos between the Gamecube, Wii and this version of the game and I have to say, that the versions on the Nintendo platforms look a lot better.

Now, I’m not saying that this game looks ugly. Remember that I said that this game looks fine? Well, I really stand by that. I love all the detail they put in the world and the animations in this game are amazing. I especially love how destructible the world is. When a huge boss throws a tree to a shack you are standing in, the tree doesn’t break on the shack because video games, the tree actually breaks the shack because realism.

The only “negative” I can say in terms on the animations are that certain death scenes are a bit too scripted. What I mean is for example, when you kill an enemy with a head shot, it doesn’t go down right away. It nearly always takes a few steps forward before collapsing. This isn’t the only example of that, but it stands out. But, after a while I got used to it and it didn’t bother me that much.

Now, besides puzzles and combat; there is one other part of the gameplay I haven’t mentioned. And that are the quick time events. In certain sections, you have to much a button as quick as you can to survive. These sections were the most annoying sections of the game in my opinion. Thankfully, they are short. So, they are over without too much hassle.

This game doesn’t have an autosave. You can save at certain save points in scattered around. You can save an infinite amount of times as long as you are at the type writer. Thankfully, when you get a game over, you don’t have to restart from your last save point. You start from the section you died at. For example, when you died during a quick time event with a boss and die, you respawn at the start of that quick time event. This is a great feature since whenever I died, I learned something new and I got a new idea on how to possibly defeat the boss.

Besides strategy, there is something else that helps with defeating bosses and that are good controls. This game has that. The only things I struggle a bit with are turning while using the knife or aiming with a weapon. Now, the turning with a knife isn’t too much of an issue. I stop pushing the knife button and press it again when I have done my turn.

The aiming of weapons is a different story. This game is one of the first games I played on a console that involves a lot of shooting. I’m quite used to being able to easily shoot using a mouse of the Wii Remote. I had to get used to aiming with a joystick. To my surprise, I quickly got used to it. When I look at the stats at the end of each level, I notice that I’m improving quite a lot in my accuracy.

To my surprise, I haven’t talked about the music and sound design of this game and it’s almost the end of the article. The soundtrack of this game is one that helps build the atmosphere quite well. Personally, I wouldn’t listen to most of the tracks outside of the game, but I enjoy the soundtrack quite a lot during gameplay.

The sound design of this game get a big thumbs up from me. The game sound just right, from the sound of the guns to enemies transforming. It all sounds like you would imagine it sounding in real life.

Well, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I know that I haven’t talked about everything but I’ll leave those things for my review, if I ever write one on this game. So, I think it’s time to wrap up this article.

Thank you so much for reading this article! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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NekoJonez’s looking forward to these 10 games in 2019

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The year of 2018 is almost history. The final moments are happening when this article was in the process of being written. Like each year, I want to take the time to look to the upcoming year. Since I’m writing a gaming blog, I especially want to take a look at 10 games I’m quite excited about that currently have a release date in 2019. If you want to know what the 10 best games of 2018 for me where, I have already written an article on that subject. Before I start talking about my list, remember that this list is my personal opinion. It’s quite possible that the games you are looking forward too aren’t on my list. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, my list and/or with your list. And now, it’s time for the actual list in no particular order. 

#10 – Minecraft Dungeons (PC)

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Announcement blogpost

To be honest, Minecon Earth passed me by this year. When I heard about “Minecraft Dungeons” I honestly thought that it was another skin pack for the console edition. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s actually a new game in the Minecraft universe.

From what I have read on the Minecraft website, the game looks like a dungeon crawler game like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac in concept. Now, it looks like it’s a multiplayer game, but I hope there will be a single player component to the game as well.

I have started playing Minecraft in late 2011 and I play the game here and there today. While I play less Minecraft today then I did in the past, I still hold Minecraft very near and dear to my heart. Now, I’m quite interested and hyped to see what the Mojang team has in store with this new game and how they are going to use the actual Minecraft mechanics in this new game or if they are going to introduce new mechanics. Maybe, the new game might link to the original game in a way… maybe. We shall see. Currently, there is no release date announced, apart from somewhere in 2019. The only thing we know for sure is that this game is going to release for PC.

 #9 – Desperados III (PC)

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Official Steam page

I remember the day I got introduced to the Desperados games when I visited a coworker of my mom. He introduced me to the game and actually made a copy of his disc for me to play at home.

Yes, I started to play this series illegally. Year later, I actually bought myself a legit copy on Steam and I bought all the other entries in the series. I really love the gameplay of these games. The game is extremely challenging and I haven’t beaten the games until this day. I have come quite far. I was in the final three levels of the original game.

When I was installing Desperados on my laptop, I suddenly noticed that the game got a new post in the news section. To my surprise, a new reboot/sequel got announced and to blow my mind even further, the game was coming in the summer of 2019!

So, I know what I’m going to do this upcoming summer. I’m going to play the first two Desperados games to refresh the story and lore of the series so I can get right into the new game. I’m quite excited to relive my childhood and finally beat the games I wasn’t able to beat as a child.

#8 – Fire Emblem – The Three Houses (Switch)

Nintendo.com Mini-site

H2x1_NSwitch_FireEmblemThreeHouses_image1600wI was playing Fire Emblem Warriors at the time this game got announced. When I saw this game during Nintendo’s E3 presentation, my mind was blown.

When I was watching the trailer, I got the impression that some elements of the Fire Emblem Warriors game actually made it into the actual main series, while staying true to their roots. It also looked like the game got a lot of new mechanics compared to the games I have played on the 3DS.

Now, apart from the Fire Emblem Warriors spin-off I haven’t finished any Fire Emblem game. And all the Fire Emblem games I have started playing were the handheld games. I have never tried a console Fire Emblem. Then again, the Switch is a hybrid; both console and handheld.

Nevertheless, when Spring 2019 rolls around, the game will finally hit the shelves. You can count on it that I’ll have some budget to spare to get myself a copy of this game and give it a try. I want to give this Fire Emblem game a try. Maybe this is the game that convinces me even more that I should finish all the other Fire Emblem games in my collection.

 #7 – Final Fantasy remakes (Switch)

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IGN article

I know for a fact that there are going to be people that are not going to like the following confession from me. I have never finished a Final Fantasy game in my life. I have started a few of them but I haven’t gotten into them at all.

I have Final Fantasy 7 on Steam and I have Final Fantasy X and X-2 on the PS2. I also played a few Final Fantasy remakes on my DS but I haven’t gotten further than the introduction chapters.

They are all extremely interesting and I loved my time playing them but I always got distracted with other games. So, I’m going to grab my chance to change that in 2019. A few of the biggest titles of the Final Fantasy series are getting a HD facelift and are coming to the Nintendo Switch. So, I can take these games on the go and finally finish them. Now, let’s hope I don’t get distracted by other games on my backlog or coming out in 2019.

#6 – Etrain Odyssey Nexus (3DS)

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Etrain Odyssey series on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. When I learned that Etrain Odyssey 5 was going to be last game in the series on the 3DS, I was disappointed yet I was very understanding. There isn’t a good way to actually re-create the gameplay on another system then on the DS or 3DS. Well, you could argue that tablets could work, but still…

Now, the gameplay isn’t unique at all. It’s a challenging dungeon crawler RPG like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac. What sets this game apart is the fact that you don’t have random dungeons AND you have to draw your very own map. This makes the exploration so unique and personal. It’s highly possible that you miss a pathway because you drew a wall in that place.

But, Atlus gave me two big surprises this year. The first one was that the series is going to get a new life on another platform. Possibly the Nintendo Switch. Only a teaser has been published but I haven’t found to much more information.

The second big news was that Etrain Odyssey X, a game which I honestly thought would stay in Japan for ever, is coming to the west. And sooner than I thought. The game is going to release a bit short of my birthday. On the 5th of February. Man, I can’t wait to play this new entry into the series. Now, I still have to finish all the other games in the series but I’m just so happy that I will have more Etrain Odyssey content coming my way pretty soon. And yes, I pre-ordered myself a copy for my birthday already, which is the 7th of February.

#5 – Animal Crossing (Switch)

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Nintendo.co.uk microsite

Often when I was video’s of Nintendo YouTubers, they all have a story about playing a version of Animal Crossing on either the Gamecube, DS or Wii. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the Animal Crossing series until Animal Crossing New Leaf got released in 2012.

When I started playing the game, I started to understand how people love this series so much. To be honest, I started to fall into love with the series myself. I have spent countless hours on my 3DS manging my town, running errands and doing favors for my towns folk.

This year, I was able to add Animal Crossing: City Folk to my collection. Well, here in Belgium it’s called “Animal Crossing – Let’s Go To Town”. While I didn’t have a lot of time this year to play a game like Animal Crossing, I’ll have more time in 2019 to give the new Animal Crossing title a go and explore the new town I’m going to build.

The reason I love the series so much is that it provides a more relaxing experience. It’s a game I can play to wind down after all the more action packed games or the events in my day. So, I’m looking forward to the version on the Nintendo Switch. And I’m convinced that I’ll see even more people playing their Nintendo Switch on the train once it’s released.

#4 – BloodStained – Ritual of the Night (Multiplatform)

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Yes, I know. This game was also on my list last year. But the game hasn’t been released this year. It’s going to be released in 2019.

We got a spin-off mini-game under the title of BloodStained: Curse of the Moon this year, which I haven’t finished nor played yet.

I have explained in the article from 2017 why I’m so excited to play this game. I’m really looking forward to a new game in the Metroidvania style, since it’s one of my favorite genres and I really feel that not enough games are released in that style.

Now, here is hoping that the game doesn’t get another delay and that I’m able to play this game in 2019.

#3 – Town (Switch)

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Teaser from E3 (Thanks GameExplain)

A new game from the developers who brought us Pokémon? Where do I sign up? While an exact release date hasn’t been announced, I’m sure we going to see more of this game in the upcoming year.

There isn’t too much known about this game. The only things we know are from the teaser that we got in the E3 presentation of Nintendo this year.

Now, I’m getting the impression that this is going to be a sort of tower defense style game. A game where you need to develop a village so you can get the right skills and equipment to fend of the monsters that are going to attack your village. To a certain degree, the game reminds me a bit of Ever Oasis. Now, we will have to wait and see how this game is going to play and more details of the actual gameplay. But, I’m already quite interested after seeing the 40 second teaser.

#2 – Pokemon (Switch)

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So, GameFreak released Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee this year. Personally, I’m a bit mixed on the games. I feel that they made it too accessible and a bit too stripped down for my liking. Now, I’ll save that for my actual review of the game.

But, we were warned that Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee were going to be stripped down versions of the games. In 2019, we are going to get the next generation of Pokémon. My biggest hope is the new game will be more like the Pokémon games of the past like Sun & Moon and less like Pokémon Let’s Go.

Anyways, I think we will have to “wait and see” on this one. While I’m still quite excited for the new Pokémon generation, I have a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth because of Pokémon Let’s GO! But, I have faith in GameFreak. Let’s hope they don’t shame it.

#1 – Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch)

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Dragon Quest Wiki entry

This game is already released in Japan, but the western version is going to be released in the future. According to Forbes, the release date of this game will be somewhere in 2019.

If you have read my review of Dragon Quest Builders 1, I think it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this game on this list. I enjoyed the original game so much, I wanted to play more. And, next year I’ll get more.

While not everybody agrees with me on this, but I find that Dragon Quest Builders mixes the Dragon Quest formula perfectly with open world building games like Terreria and Minecraft.

In the sequel, I’ll be able to play with even more features and mechanics then the original. From swimming and waterfalls to gliding through the air. While I’m extremely tempted to watch let’s plays of the Japanese version, I have decided that I’m not going to watch nor read anymore on this game until it’s released. I want to be as spoiler free as possible. But, you can be sure that whenever this game releases here in the west, I’ll be playing it as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Closing words

So, 2019 is almost here. To my surprise, there aren’t a lot of games announced for 2019. I’m rather curious to see what next year is going to bring. I have a gut feeling that 2019 will be a slow year for gaming that’s going to build up for a special 2020. There are a few games in 2020 I’m also really hyped for like Age of Empires IV and Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Then again, 2019 hasn’t started yet. It’s quite possible that a lot of games are going to be announced and that 2019 will still be an amazing year for gaming after all. Only time will tell.

In any case, I’m not going to ramble too much here. 2018 was an interesting year for me, but 2019 shows a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to the challenges that’s life going to throw my way in the upcoming year. Of course, I’ll still be playing games and you will still be able to read about my adventures on my blog. So, thank you for taking your time into reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

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So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

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Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Gamer’s Thoughts: How to play mobile games on your PC.

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For some people, it isn’t easy to buy the latest and greatest phone to play the newest and greatest Android games on. Thankfully, there is a solution for that. It’s a solution I often use myself actually. There is a program called “BlueStacks” that allows you to play any Android game on your PC. I use this tool when I want to take screenshots for when I want to review an Android game. To my big surprise, the folks over at Bluestacks contacted me with more information about BlueStacks 4. So, that’s what I’m writing about today. Before I begin, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the program and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What’s new

Currently, BlueStacks got a huge update. In v4, a lot of work has been done to make BlueStacks an even better platform to play Android games on. In this infographic created by the developers, you can find an overview of the changes and improvements in this new version.

If you want to download the program for yourself, just go to the official website that’s linked higher in the article and install the program. The installation is extremely easy. Just follow the on screen steps and the installer does the rest for you. It gets even better, when you log in with the same account you use on your phone, you will be able to download all your purchased apps and install them in BlueStacks.

It’s quite impressive on how far this program has come. Back in 2011, the first version of BlueStacks was released and today it’s one of the best programs on the market to play Android games on. With this program, you can easily stream, record or create screenshots from all Android games. And you can even play them.

If you don’t like the Google Play Store, BlueStacks also has its own AppCenter. This center is a new skin for the Play Store. Each program takes you directly to the corresponding page in the App Store.

Here is the best thing of all, using BlueStacks is completely free. There are some ads in the program and you can’t customize your wallpaper. If you buy a premium account, you will be able to change your wallpaper and have no ads. You also got priority responses from the support team, if you need them. This subscription costs only 40 dollars yearly. The only annoying thing is that there aren’t too many payment options.

By doing various tasks, like loading up a game and returning daily, you earn BlueStack Points. With these points you can buy themes and various merch prizes. At the moment of writing, there isn’t a list of which actions award you points. You can also buy BlueStack Points as a sort of microtransaction. But, these points are totally optional.

Playing games in BlueStacks

Thanks to the developers over at BlueStacks, I already got the chance to play around in a development build of version 4. Since BlueStack now supports the mapping of joysticks to keyboard buttons, I decided to try it out in Corpse Party – BloodDrive. Thankfully, there are cloud saves so I can pick up from where I left off.

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When I first installed the game, for some reason, the game closed to the desktop twice. But, the 3rd launch, the game just works perfectly fine. After mapping the joystick to the ZQSD (WASD in AZERTY, since I’m from Belgium and use AZERTY.) and the other joystick to the arrow keys, I was surprised at  how accurate and fluent this works.

After that I tried to map my keyboard keys to my wireless XBOX360 controller using a program called XPadder. With this program you can map keyboard keys to one input on your controller. It’s quite a neat program actually. BlueStacks and XPadder works just fine together. While I wish that BlueStacks works with controllers like the wireless XBOX360 controller; then again, for how many games will you be able to only use the controller and not have to use the mouse to tap/click on a spot? So yeah.

If you want to set this up for yourself, you need to click on the keyboard icon in the righthand corner. This brings up a new menu where you can choose between controls for various actions. Currently the following things are supported: a tap spot, d-pad, zoom, aim/pan & shoot, Moba Skill Pad, Swipe & Tilt. You click on what you need and drag it to where the button is on screen. If you want to change the keymap, you click on the button and press the key you want. It’s as simple as that.

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After you click save, you can start playing. Now, you can hide those keys. If you click on the eye icon that’s next to the keyboard icon, have a slider to choose how transparent you want those keys to be. I have set them all as invisible for the next screenshots in this article. I usually play on BlueStacks with invisible controls actually.

The next game I tested was the port of Sword of Mana, I played this on my tablet a while ago and it’s a very great port actually.

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I quickly got used to the controls I set up for this game. While I could set up a whole lay-out for the menu system for this game, I found that the clicking through it with the mouse works just fine. Also, I found this game easier to play, since now my hand didn’t cover up parts of the screen. I think I’m going to switch to BlueStacks to finish this game since it’s a more enjoyable experience than playing this on my actual tablet.

The final game I tested was Minecraft Story Mode. At first, I was annoyed that I was unable to login to my TellTales Account. But, I quickly realized why. Since I used enter to confirm my password, I went back to the login screen. When I clicked “OK”, the login actually happened. Curious, I took my own tablet and tried the same thing on there, and I had the same problem.

Anyways, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to download and install the episodes on BlueStacks. I actually tested the download speed of episode 5 on my tablet and on BlueStacks and I found that the episode was downloaded and installed faster on BlueStacks than on my tablet.

The reason I wanted to test this game on BlueStacks is because I wanted to check if this game also has the graphical issues I experienced on my tablet or if it’s a problem with the graphics chipset of my tablet. Besides that, I wanted to test a game that didn’t have a d-pad for moving the character but relies on pressing the screen to move your character.

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Surprisingly, this game works perfectly. I actually placed a hidden dpad and the game reacts perfectly to that. Also, I didn’t notice any graphical issues. But, the graphical issues happened so rarely on my tablet, I can’t say it’s totally fixed. Something I did experience was a small audio desync in the 5th episode. The voice acting started a second after the characters opened their mouths.

The quick time events where easily done with the mouse. It did require me to get a bit used to the new way of playing this game but it didn’t take long. It reminded me that I want to finish this game.

So, now that I tested 3 different games on BlueStacks, I invite you to test out different games. Please, tell me your experiences with BlueStacks in the comment section. What games work and where fun to play on BlueStacks and which games gave you issues?

And with that, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Suicide Guy – Sleepin’ Deeply (PC) ~ Moar Beer

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Official website

Today I want to talk about a sequel, another chapter in a game I review last year. That game goes by the name of Suicide Guy. A game that got ported to the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 too. Now, the developer gave me a review key for this game and asked me to give my opinion. So, this article will be that, my unfiltered opinion on this game. Also, real talk for a moment. While this might be a game about killing yourself in various ways, if you are really struggling with mental health issues or thoughts about suicide, please look for proper medical help. That said, let’s take a look at this game. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article down below.

(Note, the version that’s used for this review is v1.35. Some comments might be changed with an update.)

Moar beer

In this game, your goal is to wake up. Again. But this time, you feel asleep drinking some stronger beer than usual. He wanted to drink some stronger beer since he saw a (voice acted) commercial on the TV.

Suicide Guy Sleeping Deeply Screenshot.jpgThe first level is a battle with a giant octopus. This battle introduces the mechanics of the game to new players. But, players who have played the original game will feel right at home with this one. It even has the same controls, the same issues with not recognizing AZERTY keyboards as well. If you could rebind your controls, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Because I haven’t gotten too far into the game, I can’t comment too much on the story. I’m looking forward to the promised twist in the end. The only thing, story-wise, I felt was a missed opportunity is the hub area. It would have been amazing if you were on some sort of a sinking ship, where the incoming water represented the beer falling to the ground. Maybe this is a lucky guess towards the twist ending, who knows?

The hub area of this game is the exact same as the first game. Now, I feel that there is something missing. The motivation of our main character to wake up.  You don’t have anything on the screens of the beer falling. There is, therefore, less urgency to finish the game. That’s why, to me, it feels like a level pack DLC. Then again, there is nothing wrong with that, but some of these small touches really added to the atmosphere of the original.

Earlier, I said that this game has voice acting. While it isn’t the best voice acting I have heard, it’s good. The price tag of this game is 3,29€ and you that, you would expect some cheap voice acting, but no, that’s not present in this game.

Frustration

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Now, let’s look at the actual gameplay. Like I said in earlier in the article, the goal of this game is to find a way to commit suicide and wake up from the dream. The first two levels, I really enjoyed. But the 3rd level, the Rube Goldberg machine… I have to be honest, I dislike these kinds of levels.

A level where you need to finish a whole obstacle course without failing once. Those cups near the end where the bain of my existence. I have to admit that I have quitted the game several times. This level is a bit too long, I would have liked checkpoints. One fix can help this level to feel less frustrating. If you are able to finish the jumps of a section, you could knock over a ladder that lets the player pass that section so they can try to finish that part again. And, to make it more challenging, make it that the statue can’t be obtained if shortcuts are used.

Now, it might look that I’m giving this game a bad rap because I’m unable to pass one level. Then again, I might be spoiled by games like Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat In Time, where you didn’t have to finish all the levels to continue in the game. This game has so much potential and it would be a shame if somebody would quit because they are unable to finish one level.

Besides that, I feel like this game needs some polishing work in different area’s as well. The animations in this game aren’t the best. They aren’t bad but, I felt like they could be smoother. For example, water splashes staying too long on screen at the introduction level or no climbing animation. If the developer added a climbing animation, that would make this game a lot better.

Visually, this game looks extremely good. The texture work here gets a thumbs up from me. The references and the humor of this game really shine due to the visual design of this game. While there are some area’s that look unfinished as well. For example, I found a spot where the poles of the wooden bridge didn’t connect to the ground, making the bridge floating in the air. Now, a quick email to the developer fixed this. He is also very responsive on the Steam forums so if you find a bug, don’t hesitate to report it.

The UI needs some minor polishing up to do as well. These might seem like nitpicks; one thing is that when you enter a level, you are unable to go back to the hub area. You need to go to the main menu and then to the hub area. The list of languages in the options should be alphabetically organized and there are some major issues with windowed mode.

Good but not great

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Now, the music and audio design of this game are great. It helps to build the charm of this game tenfold. I’m really interested to hear what the rest of the game will offer when I finally beat that 3rd level.

In terms of controls, while it’s a shame I can’t rebind them, I feel like they are better in this game. It’s also possible that I got more used to them in the sequel but I felt fewer times that the game wasn’t doing what I asked it to do.

The game is good, but not great. It still needs some polishing up work to be done. Since there are still a few bugs in this game. Thankfully, the developer is quite active in polishing up the game. So, report every bug to make this game better. I might have been harsh on this game on several moments but that’s because I believe in this game. If the developer polishes up that 3rd level and adds some quality of life updates, like a climbing animation or rebindable controls, this game will be better for it. Things like that would make the game great.

If you were a fan of the original, I think it would be a shame if you skipped over this one. If you enjoy puzzle/action/adventure games, this is a great time waster. While it isn’t the most polished game, it’s enjoyable and unique. The references and gameplay is something I really enjoy. I have finished the original game, but I hope I’ll be able to finish this sequel one day. And who knows, I might even write a full review then.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

First Impression: Fort Triumph (PC) ~ How To Move?

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Steam page

So, I recently bought a Switch. One of the games I want to play on it is Mario + Rabbits – Kingdom Battle. Due to budget constraints, I’m unable to play that game now. Thankfully, I found Fort Triumph on Steam. A game that plays similarly to that game. Now, is it a good replacement or not? Let’s find out in this first impression. Note, that I got a press copy of the game but the developers requested that I give 100% my opinion on this game. This game is also in early access and under very active development. Every week this game gets a patch. This review is written on v0.7.4.5 & v0.7.7 so any complaints or suggestions might be invalid later in time. So, let’s go to FORT TRIUMPH

How to move?

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In this game, you play as Liandra Pageturner (or whatever random name the generator decides to spit out) and her crew of various warriors. You start out in a prologue where you learn the basics after talking to your horse. I adore the names in this game of the characters. It fits the funny writing of this game really well. While this game isn’t “LMFAO”-funny, it can crack you up from time to time and makes you put a smile on your face.

It’s a story where things aren’t taken too seriously. Which is quite surprising for this gameplay-style, since they mostly have very in-depth stories. It’s a breath of fresh air actually. A suggestion for the future development is that, in the final version of this game, you give also prologue chapters to each other character. This fleshes them out a bit more and gives the player the chance to get used to other playstyles each character brings.

So far, I have only played a few missions of the first campaign and I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I can’t wait to see where the story is going to take us. Storywise, they don’t need to make any improvements. The way it’s getting developed it perfect. Like I said earlier, a bit more introduction to the other characters would be neat.

I already mentioned this in my introduction, but this game is in early access. So, I can criticize it for bugs like freezing when you alt+tab out of the game during dialogues. These things get patched out since the developer is very active on the forums and listing to feedback from their players. It’s always a joy to see what will be changed after the next update. There is currently a built-in bug reporting tool which is extremely handy.

Now, this is a tactical combat game. At this point in time, I really think that it’s a good idea that you mention everything you think to the developers. Like, when the enemies almost never miss an attack and you seem to miss your long-range attacks all the time. There is a lot of polishing work that needs to be done. This game has a lot of potential but needs user input and playtesting.

Polishing with a cloth

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This game currently has 1 and a half campaigns. In the first “campaign” you get mostly introduced the basic mechanics of the game. The only issue I have is that most of this tutorial focuses on two characters. And not on the 4 characters you have at your disposal in chapter 1.

In the first chapter, the difficulty curve is a bit, wack. At this moment in time, the game isn’t that balanced. I’m quite certain that in the future, this game will be more polished and we might get difficulty settings.

Now, before I continue, it might look like I’ll be bashing the game left and right. That I’m finding negatives all over the place. But, keep in mind that this game is still under development. There is a lot here already, the only thing the developers now need to do is to polish the game up in something quite unique. I’m not hating on the game, nor am I saying it’s a bad game. With that said, let’s move on.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I really like the art style of this game. The levels you visit are detailed and the animation is amazing. I really like how long-distance shots give you a zoom in on the action as if you were watching an action movie. Maybe it’s a good idea to disable those to give the game more fighting power on older hardware?

The UI of this game needs some polishing. Things I would love to see is, in what order you are going to move your units and the enemy units are going to move like in Stella Glow. Also, I would love to see where you could move with your character. You do see the boundaries, yes. But, I would love to see a visual representation on the ground how far you can go.

Besides that, I would love to have a sort of mini-map. And on that mini-map, you would see where certain protective places are and maybe easier see if you are in the enemy’s line of sight.

The biggest issue with the UI right now is the level up system. It works just fine, don’t get me wrong. The issue with it is, that it doesn’t jump directly in the eye. I didn’t always notice that I couldn’t continue since one of my units leveled up. Maybe a sound effect and a bit more visual flair would be great.

Now, I’m not going to review the mechanics too much in-depth since they are subject to change. For example, the leveling up system gives you two random choices of new abilities. This makes leveling up unique and interesting. But, the stats don’t increase nearly as much. I barely notice any change in stats apart from a very tiny bit of additional health.

At the moment of writing, I really don’t like the difficulty curve in this game. I’m not saying that the game is too hard. I’m saying that this game gets way to hard, way to fast. For example, some enemies drop healing items, but you can’t store them.

In addition to that, you can’t save during missions. You will lose progress. This is something I wish they changed. Now, I could possibly rant about this, but the changelog said: “added basic save game information”. So, here is my hoping they will expand this feature. 🙂

Randomised subtitle.

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Now, I know that this game isn’t the easiest one around. And honestly, besides some tweaks, I don’t mind it at all. Stella Glow was also pretty difficult and I loved the challenge in that game.

After I got used to the controls in this game, I was trying different strategies and replaying missions in the hope I was able to beat it this time. This game is a lot of fun to play and should be played in longer sessions. In addition to the music, this game’s atmosphere is a joy to see. The sound effects are really well done too. There should be a bit more, for example, some grunts and moans during conversations would be pretty welcome.

Speaking about the controls, I really have to get used to them. The big issue is that I played more of my tactical RPG’s on the Nintendo (3)DS and those use a completely different control scheme.

Something I would love to see is a rebind option for the camera controls. Yes, you can control the camera to see the amazing detailed world from various different angles. Now, the controls don’t recognize AZERTY as AZERTY but as QWERTY. And in the version I played, there were no options to rebind them.

So, it’s quite clear that this game needs a lot of polishing work and besides that, more content. At this moment there is only one chapter, besides the tutorial. The game has a lot of potential but needs play-testers. Please, I urge you to go and take a look at the Steam store page and if that interests you, go ahead and buy it and give it a try.

The game didn’t disappoint me at all. It made me think about things to help improve this game and drew me into its world. I can’t wait to play more in the future and see where the developers will take the game.

You have two options if you enjoy TRPG’s. You either play the game and give feedback to help the game grow. Or you either wait until the game goes out of early access and play it then. Don’t let the cartoony graphics fool you. This game is good and it’s cheap, only 20€.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. When this game is in a more complete state, I’ll take another look at this but for now: thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim (PC) ~ Where do I need to go next?

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Official site

Skyrim, a game like Minecraft that’s being ported to every system under the sun. Now, this game has been reviewed to death. I know that I’m extremely late to the party. Skyrim is one of these games that has an extremely big and loyal fanbase. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be too excited for a portable version on the Nintendo Switch. Now, if you wonder, I play as a Khajiit, a beast man. Yeah, I play as a cat-man. Currently, I’m level 9 and I have started the first missions of the main story. Most of my time spent in this game is wandering around. Also, the three official DLC’s are installed. Also, there are no mods installed for this review. Now, that the context is set, let’s give my first impressions of this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below. 

Where do I go next?

Now, you start off with your character being transported to a village with other prisoners. It doesn’t take long before you realize that you are on death row and you are about to be executed. Right before your execution, a dragon attacks the village and you manage to escape. Then, you discover that you are a Dragon Born. Somebody who can use the power of the dragons. What happens next, is for you to decide. If you play this game, you can create your own story like in Minecraft.

 

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The biggest complaint I have about the story of Skyrim is that in my opinion, you are a bit to free to explore around. What I mean with this is that every time I come around a new village or ruins, I’m afraid of defeating attackers. I don’t know if they are essential for a quest or for later in the game.

The story of this game is good but I honestly don’t like the overload of exposition in some areas. When some people are talking, I never know for sure what they are referring too. Maybe I need to get used to the world more, but honestly, I found the open world of Breath of the Wild easier to get into and learn the world.

Now, why do I feel so lost in this world? I love the exploration system in this game. Only the areas you discovered appear on the map. Areas that you discover through conversation and books do too, but you can’t fast travel to them. So, you would think that even with a map system, I wouldn’t get lost or confused where to go next in the world?

Well, I do. I find the compass pretty difficult to use. A mini-map would have solved this issue. I really like the minimap system in Breath of the Wild. Or, if a minimap is too much to ask, a button to get more quickly to the map screen would be very welcome.

The UI is something I really dislike in this game. I find it very annoying to use. This could have been streamlined a lot more. The inventory is a mess in my opinion too. I would have loved a screen where you can equip spells or weapons easier. Now, I have to go through various menus to get that equipped. So, if anyone who is reading this and knows some good UI-mods to make it easier to manage your inventory or have more map functionality, I’m all ears.

Click to fight.

20180506154416_1Now, let’s talk about the gameplay of Skyrim. The freedom in this game is amazing. But, it’s also a downfall of the game. To be honest, this game is a bit overwhelming. In my opinion, there is a bit too much going on from the beginning. I think it would be better if the game introduced all it’s main elements to the player a bit more before it threw you into the big world.

Now, at the other hand, it’s quite fun to discover and learn the elements of the game. How crafting and magic works for example. Or how cooking works. How you can optimize the whole system to easily get the best weapons and armor and how to get the best healing items.

It’s a balancing act, where you need to think if you would be able to go to a certain place or you need to find more items to progress.

Exploring the world is great fun too. Now, during the exploration, a lot of enemies will cross your path. The fighting mechanics could have been improved as well. The combat mechanics are fun, but the big issue is that if you want to switch between bow & arrow or magic or 2hand combat, you have to go clicking through those pesky menus.

That’s why I mainly focus on 2-handed combat weapons which make the combat unfair in some situations when you are up against some heavy magic users and they burn you alive in oil.

Now, I’m playing the game on an easy difficulty. This is my first time playing Skyrim and lets me tell you, I’m glad that I’m playing this game on easy for the first time. The game still is challenging in some areas but it’s an ideal way to learn the ropes of the game and later restart the game with a higher difficulty setting.

This game’s replayability is through the roof. So, if I replay this game on a higher difficulty setting, my playthrough will be completely different. This will be interesting. You can change the difficulty settings whenever you want in the options menu.

Speaking of the options menu, something I really like is when you run Skyrim for the first time, the game sets the most optimal visual settings for you. I notice the difference between playing Skyrim on my laptop and on my gaming desktop, but it’s a very helpful feature to have.

As well as the cloud save. Yes, if you play Skyrim on different devices like me, you don’t have to move save files between computers. You can download Steam, then Skyrim and voila, you can continue playing Skyrim.

One thing that I would add in terms of the save files is “save slots”. It would be amazing if I would be able to have different playthroughs with different characters without having to juggle between my save files of which character is which save file…

Mods and such

20180506164810_1.jpgVisually, this game is great. The world of Skyrim is detailed and very well made. There is even an HD-texture pack for people who want more details and better textures out of the game.

So far, I have seen only the tip of the iceberg in this game. Almost literally, since I have been mostly exploring the snowy areas of the game.

The controls of the game are great. I have been playing with a mouse and keyboard but I have played this game with a controller as well. It doesn’t matter that much, this game is optimized for both input devices.

Now, one thing is clear. This game asks to be modded. So, dear reader, I have a question for you. Should I mod my game before or after I have beaten it? Which mods do you recommend?

The music in this game fits the atmosphere as a glove. Together with the sound effects and great animations, it helps me to immerse myself in the world. The things that stop me from immersing in the world is the tricky UI like I talked about at the beginning of this article.

I really see the potential of this game and I really think that this game is something for me. But I feel that the UI is holding it back for me. Ever since I got interested in open world games since I played Breath of the Wild, I feel that some features in that game spoiled me. There are some features that I wish I could bring over to Skyrim.

Now, do I think that Breath of the Wild is a better game? Well, no. They are both completely different games and I think it’s unfair to compare them.

But, one thing is for sure. Ever since I started playing Skyrim, I want to give Oblivion and Morrowind a second chance. I got Morrowind years ago for my birthday and after playing it for a bit, I quit playing it. Oblivion I found at a garage sale.

That’s saying something. If a game makes you want to play the previous games in the series. This game makes me want to play more, even with its various flaws. I totally see where the high praise is coming from. Maybe if I continue to play this game, I might get more into it; but for now, I’m quite happy in playing this game between other games when I have the time.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I’m leaving some things for the review if I ever finish this game. There is a 40 hours adventure waiting for me and I have only beaten the first act.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a future article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Castlavania – Portrait Of Ruin (DS) ~ No Stars For Mario

castlevania portrait of ruin

Wikipedia entry

Back in the day, when I just got the Nintendo DS, I decided that I wanted to try out a horror game. Castlevania was one of the only horror game series I knew about so when I saw this game on the shelves, I decided that I had to have it. Now, I have never really beaten this game, but recently I returned to it. I wanted to beat this game. Now, did I just want to relive a nostalgic game or did I really want to beat this game since I was having so much fun? Let’s take a look at this game and give my opinion about it.

No Stars For Mario

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In this game you play as Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. They are childhood friends who are going on a journey to protect mankind from evil. When an evil vampire artist revives Dracula’s Castle, the duo springs into action.

There is also an interesting twist in the story. Notice that I started explaining the story with the last names of the characters. Now, look to the cover-art and you might notice that Jonathan wields the legendary vampire-killing all evil defeating, Master Sword… whoops, wrong series. I mean, the Vampire Killer.

But Jonathan is part of the Morris family, the son of John Morris from Castlevania: Bloodlines, and not a Belmot. So, he can’t fully use the abilities of the Vampire Killer.

Now, the story looks like your generic Castlevania story at first, but the more you go into it, the more complex it gets. Most of the story is told through in-engine cut scenes and dialogue boxes. The “voice acting” in the game are various grunts and sounds to give the story more “umph”. There are spoken lines in the game, but those are mostly sound effects or lines spoken by enemies during combat.

I actually don’t mind that the story isn’t voice-acted. The only thing I really miss is a sort of log. To keep track of what story elements happened. Since, when you pick this game up after a few months and don’t remember where you left off; well, you are going to have to spend a time to find out where you need to go.

Which is, on the other hand, not such a bad thing. The difficulty in this game is pretty high for people who aren’t used to this style of gameplay. So, exploring the castle is a great idea to level up Jonathan and Charlotte.

I find the story really interesting and it actually motivates me to try to beat every monster that comes my way. If you decide to play this game, I really advise you to put a lot of time into exploring and learning how each and every enemy works. Also, there is no shame in avoiding enemies, but do know; if you do that, you will have a lot of trouble with bosses.

So, I’ll go more in-depth about the bosses in a moment. But first, I want to talk about paintings. Since, the main antagonist is an evil vampire painter, you discover various paintings in the castle. These transport you to various locations where you can advance the story. There are no “missions” like Super Mario 64. When I played this game back when it was released, I was convinced that there was an easter egg where you could jump into a painting and come out in a sort of corrupted version of Princess Peach’s castle. Yeah, my childhood imagination is interesting to say the least.

“Charlotte” – “Jonathan”

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If you can’t tell from the screenshots, the game looks amazing. To this day, I find this game one of the best looking action/adventure games on the DS. The details in the background are what I find the most impressive in this game. The world really feels alive.

I find this game not that scary. There is a lot of gothic and mythic imagery, but the game doesn’t get under my skin. At the other hand, I wouldn’t give this game to younger kids. There are some bosses that can cause nightmare fuel to young minds.

Like the boss in Land of the Fools. I won’t spoil it, but I can see how this can become nightmare fuel. If you can stomach basic horror elements, you will be fine.

The atmosphere in this game is just amazing. I really like how all bosses are based on real life myths and various enemies have an interesting spin on them. Together with really nice looking animations and a rarely a dip in frame-rate, you can’t complain.

Personally, I like to have the map on one of the screens. The map is extremely handy to have. The blue squares are teleports, the red squares are save points and the yellow square are paintings or locations of extreme interest. The only thing I really miss is that you are unable to place any notes on the map. A feature where you were able to pin locations like in The Legend of Zelda – Link Between Worlds would be been such a blessing. Since some area’s contain loot that you can only access with a certain ability, and marking them would be a great way to support your mind.

Speaking off abilities, some require you to control both characters. With just a press of the button, you can switch between the two. When you are playing as Jonathan, you switch to Charlotte and vice versa. Now, for some reason I find it pretty enjoyable to switch between both characters. They shout each others names each and every time. I’m sometimes easily amused.

You can also have both characters on-screen. The AI to control the other character is decent, but sometimes makes some pretty questionable decisions. You can also use a support ability to avoid more damage. While this sounds overpowered, know that the damage to the 2nd character also counts! So, yeah. Be careful with that.

The castle and such

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If you have played games like Monster Tale and Metroid, you know what you are getting into. This adventure isn’t that long, it can be beaten in an afternoon if you really know what you are doing. Yet, I’m not that good with the combat, so I think it will take a bit longer.

Currently, I think I’m halfway done with the game. I have died quite a lot in this game, but each time I’m making a bit more progress. The biggest flaw in this game is how slow you go from the game over screen back into gameplay.

You get a “Game Over” screen with a barely readable font, that slowly fades into the main menu. Speaking about the main menu, you might find some interesting features there. The only thing I’ll say is that there is a boss rush mode that might help you in the main story line.

The music in this game is really good. When I want to listen to Castlevania music, I always listen to the soundtrack of one of the DS games. I honestly can’t pick my favorite but, all three are my favorite Castlevania soundtracks. Together with the sound design, this game is a joy to the ears. Playing this game without sound takes a lot of the atmosphere away.

Yet, there are a few things that aren’t that good in this game. First of all, you can only attack sideways. You don’t have an attack to hit smaller enemies easily. Unless, you use a weapon like a mace. You can’t attack on top of you either. This caused a lot of unneeded damage.

Actually, that isn’t really a flaw in a way. It’s choosing the right weapon for the job. Now, if only you could swap between weapons a bit more easy, this wouldn’t be such a big problem.

There are a lot of neat touches I really enjoy. The fact you can an opening and closing sound-effect when you open or close the DS is one of them. Another one of them is, how the interface changes to blue when you are equipping items and armor to Charlotte and to pink for Jonathan.

All-in-all, this game is really solid. If you are looking for a challenging Action/Adventure RPG on the go, I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m glad that I picked up this game again since with the skills I have now, I’m able to beat parts that I had a lot of trouble with as a child. This game is a blast to play, but can be very frustrating too when you die over and over again.

Before I close off, I hope one thing. If you are interested in this game; don’t let the publisher’s name scare you away. This has been published when Konami’s reputation was a bit better.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. I’ll go a bit more in-depth about the other aspects when I review this game. But, the review will only happen if I beat this game one day.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Mind the Vikings (PC) ~ Very Alpha

mind of the vikingsOfficial Steam page

The game I wanted to talk about today is already released in an early alpha stage of development. The name of the game is “Mind the Vikings”. This game has been released in early January on Steam. While I got a review code from the developers, they wanted that I wrote 100% my opinion, and that’s what you will be getting. For this review, I played version 0.4.1. The game was also updated with various new features while I was playing this game for this review. In any case, let me talk about my first impressions of this game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Vikings in a sandbox

20180128213340_1Do you remember the first night you had in Minecraft? The time you are dropped into a sandbox with a world to explore. Well, I got that feeling when I first started to play Mind the Vikings. Like Minecraft, this game doesn’t really have an overall story.

This is a breath of fresh air for me. If the developers are planning to add a story in the full release of the game, I hope that they make it a separate mode to the main game. In this game, you start in a randomized land and you must decide where you place your main base.

When you decided on a spot, Vikings start to join you. The goal of the game is to create a base for them and decide which jobs they do. Also, you should maintain peace, to a certain degree, in your clan.

Something I decided is that I want to know as little about the future of the game as possible. I really think that this game will be much more exciting if I don’t know what other features this game will bring. There are already a bunch of hints on the Steam Store page and they all sound interesting.

It didn’t take long before I had a small Viking village up and running. Various lumberjacks gather, and miners were gathering resources. At first, I was going to complain about the lack of the tutorial, but I think the game doesn’t really need one at this moment. If the developers decide to make a tutorial, I think it would be a great idea to do something like Minecraft and the achievements. Where the achievements are there to guide the player but if you want to learn to play this game by playing it, you can ignore the achievements.

Early Stages

20180128210813_1At this moment in time, the game is in pretty early stages of development. There isn’t too much to do in this game, but I do have a few things they can polish up already.

First, the camera is pretty good if you have a QWERTY-layout. The game didn’t recognize my AZERTY-layout. You can also move the camera with the arrow keys, but I much more prefer the ZQSD keys, since around there, the buttons to turn around the camera are located.

Secondly, I want to talk about the “exit menu”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the strange name the “pause menu” has. Something I found strange is that you can still interact with the game to a certain degree while the pause menu is open. Two examples: you can recruit new Vikings or click on a house and navigate to the location of the Viking who lives in there. I think it would be better if the pause menu appears in the middle of the screen and makes you unable to do interactions like that. Because this menu appears in the top right of the screen, underneath the gear icon, I didn’t always know if the game was paused or not.

Third, I think it would be helpful more things in the UI had visible “quit” buttons. A button to close the options menu for example. I know that this menu is closed by using the right mouse button, but I have a feeling not everybody will realize that.

Fourth are two minor things. Why do I always see the company’s logo when I go back to the main menu and why isn’t there a load option on the pause menu? Two minor things which would be a great improvement of the game is this is fixed.

Fifth, put an invisible wall at the end of the map where the camera can’t go past.

So, when you are reading this, you would think that this game isn’t that good and is rough around the edges. You would be right about one thing; this game is rough around the edges. That’s why feedback for this game is so important. The developers ask for feedback like this on their Steam page. So, if you start to play this game and find a bug or have a suggestion, please go to their Discord server or on the Steam forums and talk about it. You will help to improve the game.

The right track

20180128204023_1When I read the description of this game, I thought that this game would be full of action and split-second decision making to raise towns and fight various big battles on the sea. Well, that you don’t get in this game at this moment. Maybe in the future.

Instead, you get a rather relaxing game where you have to manage your civilization. In terms of gameplay, you can compare this game somewhat to Age Of Empires with a bit of The Sims sprinkled on top. I do have to say that I got myself relaxed while playing this game.

Even while this game is in early stages of development, this game does somethings pretty good already. For example, the music. It fits the game like a glove. The music is more ambient and relaxing like the music you can hear in games like Minecraft. I tested out this game with Minecraft’s soundtrack playing in the background and I must say, I think they made the right pick in terms of music.

Visually, this game is extremely well made. I really like the world and animations this game brings to the table. If this is the style the final product will be in, I’m quite pleased with the result.

Something I also really like is the way how you can build paths and how builds align themselves to the paths. When you built a path, you click somewhere to start a path. When you click again, you can make the path turn into a different direction. You must use “enter” to place the path. Now, it sounds confusing when I write it down here, but trust me, it’s so easy and great to use in the game.

At this very moment, the game isn’t difficult nor easy. This is because there isn’t an end goal for this game. And to be honest, I think that’s okay for now. This game should have a possible end goal like conquering x-number of villages or owning x-amount of land or defeating a certain general, but I think that this game will be better if it doesn’t have that.

While I could continue to talk about this game for a bit longer, I think I’m not going to do that. I’m going to follow the upcoming patches and new things added to the game. This game has a lot of potentials to become an amazing experience. I’m having a lot of fun playing this game and seeing it develop. I love to see the community around this game helping the developers out and making this game even better. At this moment, this game has an asking price of 11€. If you want to see this game get further developed, I encourage you to buy this game, play it and give feedback to the developers! I really want this game to grow to its fullest potential.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Dragon Of Legends (PC) ~ DRAGONS!

dragon of legendsSteam pageOfficial website

Today I wanted to talk about a game that drew my attention instantly when I saw the pitch. The name of the game is “Dragon of Legends”. Now, I can’t explain why, but I have a big fascination for dragons if they are used right in stories. This interest led me to play a lot of interesting games like the before mentioned Legend of Dragons. So, when the developer of this game and I mailed a bit back and forth, he gave me a Steam Press key to try out the game. I want to make one thing clear, he said that he didn’t want to read the article before it went up since he didn’t want to influence me or my opinion. So, this will be my opinion. So, this game is still in early access and under active development. So, that means that the issues and things I talk about in this article will be irrelevant or changed when you read this article in the future. For this review, I played version 1.01 released on 22nd December 2017. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

PS: on this date, the game has been released on Steam for one month! Congrats to the developers!

Signs of things to come

20180107181728_1In this game, you play as a character you make and name yourself. In this game, you shipwreck on a beach and you find your mentor, Aldar dying. He provides you with his book and you set on a journey to unlock the secrets of that book. In addition to that, you must clear you and your mentors’ name for a big disaster.

That’s the story of the game for now. I wonder if the introduction will be changed in the final version, but I honestly like that there isn’t too long of an introduction. You get right into the game without any delays instead of having to sit through a long-winded introduction.

Before I talk about the game, I wanted to mention a strange issue I had with the main menu. The game usually boots in a windowed mode. If I full screened the game in the main menu or the adventure menu, the UI glitches out and made some buttons hard to click. Yet, after I loaded my character, it fixed itself. This was so strange. It’s something you will only experience in the main menu and the character menu. Since the issue was back when I went to change character on the load screen.

20180107173913_1In any case, in this version, we can choose between three character classes. A mage, a warrior, and a ranged character. The editor to create your character has quite a few options, but the female characters aren’t in the game at this moment in time.

After I created my character, I was on my merry way, exploring the beaches my character just stranded on. A short explanation happens when your mentor dies and you must take his place. This is how your quest starts.

The story is far is rather enjoyable. The writing in this game make the world come alive have a unique atmosphere. You really get the feeling you start your adventure small and you work your way up to improve your skills.

While the controls of this game are currently hardcoded into the game, the developer actually said in the Steam Forums that you will be able to rebind the keys in a future version. So, for now, I must awkwardly switch between AZERTY and QWERTY. This isn’t a big problem at all since it will be fixed in the future. So, the game will be polished in the future.

Balancing combat & polish

20180106173521_1Something I found surprising is that in single player, the game isn’t paused when you open the pause menu. This will be most likely a bug, but I hope this will be fixed in a future version of the game. If you want to play this game, remember that this you will be playing a very early build. The game lacks a lot of polish and not everything is implemented into the game yet.

Something that should be polished is the combat. Maybe it’s just me or the way how I play RPG’s like this but the combat is broken in my opinion. One of the first quests is to defeat 5 wolfs and 5 boars. Both enemies charge at you, making range combat difficult.

Something that could help is that you aim where you point your mouse instead of where your character is oriented. This could avoid unnecessary damage, in my opinion. Since I feel that it is cheap hits if you have a mouse pointer and you attack in the direction you are facing. It would make a bit more sense in my opinion.

Also, the difficulty for the first quest is a might be a bit too high in my opinion. The enemies hit a tad bit too hard for the introduction quest of the game. Or that might just be me.

If you died during a quest, you need to restart that quest. I think that it would be a bit more interesting if the stakes were a bit higher. What I mean is that you should lose some items or some money instead of just respawning at the latest spawn point you activated.

20180113162841_1Gameplay wise, this game plays an RPG. While it’s currently quite rough around the edges, the game is still in early alpha. While it was tricky to figure out how I could equip armor and find things in the UI at first, as soon as I got used to it, I was able to do everything.

Other things the developer could do to improve this game is adding more sound effects. In the build I played, there was a huge lack of sound effects. I can understand that it’s an alpha build, but the world and game come way more to life if the right sound effects are used.

Some additional visual effects might be a great idea too. For example, you get a sound effect that plays when you level up, but a visual effect would be nice too. To remind the player that they leveled up and can spend points to upgrade your character.

I touched upon this earlier, but the game isn’t paused when you press “ESC”. Well, this is a lot of the UI. If you open the quest menu, you open a book with your quests. I understand the design choice since it has story context. But, at least, pause the game so the player can read what to do.

In this version, some bugs are present. Of course, it’s an alpha build after all. For example, you can walk next to doors and you enter the building. While you are doing this, you clip through the building.

Another example is, if you start a dialogue with somebody and you run into another direction so the character is off screen, the dialogue box will follow you and disappear after a while. This can be fixed in two ways, either you lock the movement of the player until the dialogue is over OR you avoid that the text boxes move when they are off-screen.

The final example I want to give is the fact that you can use potions to heal when you died. I can go on for a while, but these things are things you can patch out in future development versions. That’s why this game is released in alpha, to iron out the bugs and add additional content. (Like, where is the potion shop?)

So far, I have beaten the first quest and tried to find as many bugs or issues with the game as I could. While there are a lot of things that could improve, most of them are not that game breaking. The game that’s currently here is solid and enjoyable to play.

DRAGONS!

20180106173045_1The visual presentation of this game is right up my alley. The pixel art and 16-bit inspired look, I find amazing. It’s no secret that I enjoy playing a retro game occasionally, and I get nostalgic seeing this artwork.

There is one minor thing I would change in terms of the UI, and that is the portrait in the top left of the screen. It would add so much if that portrait changes into your character’s face. If that’s planned for a future release, please do it.

If I could change one thing in the game, that would be the font. I mind opinion, in some places, the font looks blurry or badly rendered. Also, it made me think of some places there were some black bar or white spaces between the UI.

The animations are good. While some of them lack impact due to not having sound effects yet, some require just a bit more work. Like, the stunning animation. I would think it would have more impact if the character wobbled a bit.

So, in terms of the presentation, you also have the music. The music is rather calm and melodic. I really enjoy this music and I think it really fits the game quite well. Maybe this might be just me, but it makes me nostalgic for the MIDI-music from back in the day. If the soundtrack would be sold for a cheap price on Steam, I wouldn’t mind buying it and add it to my playlist when I’m relaxing.

The game does autosave, I think. I have no idea at what points it autosaves though. So, I think adding an animation for that would be nice. Like a map screen, that would be a handy feature to have as well.

20180113162841_1Trying to review an early access/alpha game is a tricky thing to do. On one hand, you know that there still some work that needs to be done to finalize the game while on the other hand, I want to review the experience I just had. At its current state, the game needs a lot of improvement, but it’s on the right track.

Personally, I believe that if the developer continues with the development and improving the game, I think this game might become even better. At this moment, the game is a bit rough which makes the 10€ asking price a great price to try the game out.

If you enjoy or find interesting what I have talked about, give this game a shot. It comes recommended from me. It has quite a lot of potential. I’ll certainly keep an eye on this game while it develops further since I enjoyed this game quite a lot.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Gamer’s Thoughts: Giving out Blogging Advice

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So, a few days ago, I got asked on Twitter how I was able to write an article each and every week. In that same tweet, I got asked how I found the time and energy to even write two articles a day for two weeks. That kept me thinking, maybe I should write an article where I talk about some blogging advice I would give to people who want to start blogging and want some pointers or some stories from experienced bloggers. If you look in previous articles of my “gamer’s thoughts” series, you will find various other articles where I talk about the life of a game blogger. I even talked about my whole process how I work an idea for an article. Yet, here are some more pieces of advice I can give you as somebody who has been blogging for 7, 5 years about games and isn’t sick of it in the slightest. Also, don’t take this advice as gospel. These are the things I would say to new bloggers, but take these more as things that could help you blogging instead of things you have to do to have a good or great blog. In addition to that, any questions or other suggestions, that’s where the comments are for!

Side note: Since I have been a gaming blogger all my life, I will mostly talk as a game blogger.

Work out a theme

A great thing to start with is a theme for your articles. The theme of my blog is my journey as a gamer through life. I write articles about the games I played or subjects I want to talk about. In addition to that, I’m a retro game collector and I enjoy playing games that not too many other gamers play. If you are worried that your personality might not be interesting enough for people to start reading your blog, don’t worry. Think first about what you want to write about and then start blogging.

Also, make the theme on your blog clear enough. Blogs without a general theme don’t have any selling points for other people to start reading your blog. For example, I enjoy it when people say to me that they discovered a new game because I talked about it.

A great example of a theme is blog run by the Well Red Mage. He has a whole blog setup where everything is themed where each writer is a mage in a sort of fantasy RPG called the life of a gamer. It’s really enjoyable to read in the right mindset and I think it’s a great example for a theme.

 

If you are thinking of a theme, and this will sound quite logical, but take a theme that fits you and isn’t something you will regret about later. I enjoy talking about the games I add to my collection and I can still do some little tweaks here and there to my theme, but I feel comfortable with the theme I have on my blog.

While I’m talking about a theme, branding is everything. Look for a name and something that can stick. Make a logo and banner for your blog and social media where people can easily recognize you and what you are about. For real, branding and a right theme can help you quite a lot to write.

Do NOT overdo social media

So, do you need a Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, DevaintArt, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat…. for your blog? Well, while it can be quite useful to have some presence in the social space; it can also hurt your blog in the long run. If you have too many dead social media accounts or accounts only used to spread your articles, people won’t be interested in it. There is a reason why I only have a Twitter & Tumblr for my blog.

I use Twitter to quickly post updates on my blog for when I’m unable to write an article or when I want to share a quick thought. I use Tumblr to share things that are too long to put into a tweet, like when I want to share a list of games I’m thinking about reviewing or some blog updates I did. But, every post I do on Tumblr is shared on Twitter. So, there is one account people have to follow and can get all their information from. Otherwise you might create the illusion that information can be spread over various accounts that are mostly inactive.

So setup only the social media accounts you are planning to manage. Don’t set up social media accounts just to spread your articles or your online presence. You will divide your audience even more and it has the potential to cause an even bigger headache.

Something that is extremely handy for a blog is a contact page. Make your contact page inviting but also state rules of contact. For example, take a look at mine, I clearly state that if game studios want me to review their game, I have to be interested in it. I don’t promote things that I don’t feel comfortable with. Why should I promote things I don’t even believe in myself?

Worrying about numbers

In my honest opinion, I don’t worry about the numbers of my articles too much. The main reason why I blog is to have fun and have the ability to write about my thoughts and opinions. I think that you only should worry about the numbers if you are making money from your blog. If you are doing it as a hobby and you don’t want to make it a job, do not worry too much about the numbers.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay any attention to the numbers of your blog. I find it very flattering when people enjoy my content and write comments, like and share my articles. Personally, I aim to have at least one like on my article. Even when I don’t get any likes on my article on WordPress, if somebody favorited the tweet of the article, I’m happy. That way I know that the article was good enough to be enjoyed by somebody. And that is my main goal, entertaining people.

Use the analytics to draw conclusions. Look at the articles that pull in a lot of views and analyses them why they work. What did people like about it? For example, I wrote an article in the past about one of my favorite Dutch edutainment games, but it didn’t pull in too many views. This means that if I want to talk about other games like that, I could write about those games when I have some other big articles in the works people are excited for. As a “filler article” you know?

In my experience, I find that thinking about if an article will bring enough readers limits my creative freedom. Since I love talking about games that I play and in most cases, they aren’t the mainstream games.

All I’m saying here is, as long as your blog is a hobby, don’t lose sleep over the fact that sometimes your numbers will be low.

Write how you want

There are literally millions of tutorials out there on how you can start creative writing. While they are interesting to read, I highly advise you to not follow them to the T. Just like drawing, writing is an art form you learn by practicing. While I realize that some people have the natural talent to write stories and articles like it’s nothing. Take it from me, a guy who has written stories all his life since childhood, natural talent can take you only so far as you allow it to go.

I taught a lot of my writing skills by analyzing other writers their work and not only written works. I looked at the story in games, movies, comics amongst other things. Why did they first reveal this before they revealed the other thing? Learn from other creators and use this as a base for the way how you want to write. It took me quite a few attempts to find out how I want to write. I usually first lay out how I want the article to be, then I look for good screenshots and then I start to write the actual article. I always listen to music while I’m writing.

Something I can’t stand while writing is a podcast or watching a video. For some reason, that distracts me too much from what I’m writing and I tend to write about what I’m hearing instead of what I wanted to write about. Also, I tend to try out different programs to write in. Some articles are written directly in the editor of WordPress, some articles are written in WordPad on one of my retro gaming computers and others are written in Notepad++. I enjoy changing things up once in a while, to have a different mindset while writing.

Personally, something I find dangerous to look at is the word count. I know so many articles that could have been so much better if I didn’t limit myself to my usual 1000-1500 words limit. Sometimes you need more or fewer words to get your point across. If you want to write walls upon walls of text, go ahead. But beware, the longer you make an article, the smaller the chance is that it will be fully read.

Also, whenever you are writing and you feel that something doesn’t work, rewrite it until you feel happy with it. Know that the first version of most articles will most likely be the worst version of it. Even I had to always make edits after I finished the first version to make the article flow a bit better.

Avoid burning out

Don’t ever force yourself into writing an article. It’s a golden rule that you can take from me. When you don’t feel like writing, just don’t write. I can personally read an article when I forced myself to write about something. Rarely do they come out good and I rather delete it then continue to write it. There are so many articles that I started to write but halfway deleted.

But how am I able to write an article each week and sometimes even two articles a day? Well, ever heard about writing articles in advance and storing them for later? Or, in one of the past weekends, I had a writing session where I wrote around 10 articles in two days. Know that the actual writing process takes around an hour and a half for me. Yeah, I had a writing marathon. I enjoy writing so much that I write to relax.

If you want to start a gaming blog like myself, start writing the article in your head while you are still playing the game or doing research. Have a notebook or a tablet nearby where you can put quick thoughts and notes in. Even start writing paragraphs in it.

Also, look to your day and how much time you lose by doing literally nothing. If you have the downtime, use it to think about your writing. Not all the time of course, since that will possibly cause a burnout. If there is anything you should avoid that is burning out in writing. Like I said earlier if you have to force yourself into writing, don’t write. I have been there. It’s better to take a break from writing and try again later.

Conclusion

So, that is all the advice I have to give for now. My biggest advice is, write how you want and about what you want. If you keep enjoying writing, you will put soul into your work and you will automatically attract readers. Together with a theme and an active social media presence, you will get far. Also, remember that is an extremely fun but time-consuming hobby. While most of this advice is catered towards the people who wanted to start blogging for fun, I think this article has also some advice for more professional people.

If I explained anything unclear or you have some questions for me or other bloggers, go down to the comments and start a conversation. I’ll do my best to helping you where I can.

In any case, I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you had as much fun as I had writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) ~ A Coocking Guild?

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Wiki entry

This year I went on various trips. One day, I went to Brugge. When I was walking in the shopping streets, I went into a game store and saw this game there for like 10€ second hand. Because I enjoyed Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories, I wanted to know how the sequel was like. I know that I haven’t finished the original, but I have gotten quite far. More Etrian Odyssey in my collection. In any case, I think it’s time that I talk about this game since I have put in quite some hours into it. If I may believe the activity log of my 3DS, I have put in 40 hours into this game. That’s a lot for me. So, why did I put in so many hours? Let me explain. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Side note: This game is a remake of Etrian Odyssey II for the Nintendo DS.

A Cooking Guild? 

EO2UScreen02.jpgSo, this game is a prequel to the first Untold game. You play as the Fafnir Knight, who is nameless since you decide the name for the character. On your journey, you meet up with 4 other adventurers by the name of Flavio, Arianna, Bertrand, and Chloe.

Your main objective is guiding Arianna through Ginnungagap to complete a ritual. You aren’t exactly told what the ritual is and what it means, but the further you get in the story, the more you uncover.

Each character has his or her motives to join you and be in the group. While they all fit a stereotype; the player character is the overpowered character, Arianna is the scatterbrained klutz, Bertrand is the warrior with a past he doesn’t want to reveal… The mixture of all these stereotypes makes for a great party. The writing and personality of the story are really good.

The voice acting is also pretty good. Something that surprised me is that shopkeepers start to have a small conversation with your characters if you want long enough. I actually discovered that while the game was open and I was writing this article. The conversations can be really funny and fit the personalities of the characters as a glove.

The story is keeping me on the edge of my seat. Yet, I do wish there was some log of the things that happened or what you are supposed to do next. Since there were a few times I didn’t play this game for a while and just started exploring randomly.

While you can get a vague idea by looking at the active missions and quests, I feel there should have been a location where you could ask what to do next. Even when you have downtime and you are free to do whatever you want since the next story quest requires your party to be a bit stronger.

In any case, in this game, your Guild Hall is something quite special. You operate from a restaurant. A game mechanic I really adore in this game is that the different items you find in while exploring the labyrinth all contribute to the restaurant.

And this restaurant is extremely important in your game. Regina, the cook of this restaurant, found an old recipe book from an old chef, who passed away. This chef was one of the greatest in the kingdom and Regina wants to recreate as many dishes as she can. Now, the recipe book is written in a cryptic way, so you have to read item descriptions to figure out which ingredient you need to develop the dish.

Besides that, you can let Regina cook a dish to give your party a certain buff before you go inside the labyrinth. This can be extremely helpful to when you are gearing up for an extremely tricky boss fight or when you need a certain boost to defeat some tricky enemies.

But wait, the importance of the restaurant doesn’t stop there. You can also develop the town, which will make the shops sell better items. So, you need to make sure that your restaurant is stocked up so you can create the right dish for the right area. Also, you can invest money in the town…

I think you get the idea. There is a lot of depth when it comes to the restaurant. It’s a very addictive balancing act to know which items you should sell to the stores to be able to buy certain items and which items you need to keep to have the ingredients for the restaurant.

The Fafnir Knight

EO2U-Euro-AnnBesides the great depth you have in the restaurant, the general town provides you with stores and various important locations. You can spend hours managing your party and upgrade it. Looking for the right items and the right builds for your party is extremely important. Be sure that you make your builds carefully and that you stock up on enough items before you go exploring the labyrinth.

Since this game can be quite unforgiving in the labyrinth. Expect when you play on the picnic difficulty. When you play on Picnic difficulty, you don’t get a game over when your party is wiped out. You just get kicked out of the labyrinth. Also, some items won’t deplete so you have a come casual experience with the game.

On standard, you get a pretty challenging game that is more fit for gamers who are into RPG and Dungeon Crawlers. You do get once chance to restart when your party is wiped out.

On expert mode, well, the game gets even more difficult and the game describes this mode as “for the real masters of Etrian Odyssey, or masochists”.

The difficult has barely any influence on the game, apart from you being unable to earn in the picnic difficulty. Also, you can change the difficulty at any time while you are in the town. You can’t change the difficulty while you are exploring in the labyrinth.

etrain fafnir map

The goal of exploring the labyrinth is to get as far into the labyrinth as you can. The further you get into the labyrinth, the more difficult the monsters get. Every 5 floors have a certain theme and on the 5th floor, there is a final boss that tests your abilities. This boss also fits the theme of the area extremely well. So, try to learn from the behavior of the enemies and their weaknesses.

So, this isn’t just your typical dungeon crawler. There is a reason why this game is on the DS. That is because it has two screens and a touchscreen. You see the dungeon itself on the upper screen and you have a map screen at the bottom. The catch is, with the Etrian Odyssey series, that you have to draw the whole map yourself.

You can do this in a lot of ways, but I have my own style. For example, I draw walls where I’m unable to pass. So, if there is a column in the middle of the room, well, I draw walls on that square on the map. I have seen others use another color for those spots.

Anyways, before I go on a whole ramble about how I make the maps in the Etrian Odyssey series, I do have to say that this is the mechanic I love the most in this game. A good map is important to your survival since some strong monsters are running around in the labyrinth and if you draw everything, you can also find escape routes and shortcuts more easily.

These things can help a lot with finishing quests and missions pretty easily. The side quests are a lot of fun to do and you can find them in various buildings in the town. I highly recommend that you do them since they can help you sharpen your skills and find out something you didn’t know about the labyrinth.

Exploring to explore

etrian2fafnir_03I have to admit that sometimes I just started walking around in the labyrinth because I just had so much fun. My goal was just to wander around, fight enemies and check if I found everything on my map.

When you fully explored a floor, you are able to quick travel to that floor if you place a stairway on the map. But, these things get explained while you are playing the game.

The game doesn’t work with random encounters. You are on the “clock” so to say. I’m not talking about the day and night system present in the game, but after a certain amount of steps, you encounter an enemy. But be careful! There are big boss monsters running around in the labyrinth too. When you have an enemy encounter close to such a boss monster and it notices your party, it can enter the fight as an additional enemy to make your current fight became a bit more difficult.

Speaking of fighting, each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. So, make sure that you use that to your advantage. Also, use the points you get from leveling up your character to your advantage. Since you don’t learn new skills by leveling up, you have to distribute points. Be careful how you distribute them since they matter and you can’t undo them easily.

I can talk for a while longer about the gameplay of this game, but I will say this to wrap it up. This game has a lot of depth and has so much to manage that it can become overbearing. Knowing which enemies are weak against what is a challenge and a half to remember. That’s why I’m so thankful that the characters actually give hints before a battle starts.

Because this is such an expansive game, you expect the controls to be flawless. Well, there is something I think could be improved in the drawing controls. It’s something I had a lot of trouble with in previous Etrian Odyssey games as well. That is the fact that removing placed icons is a hassle. It’s very tricky to move icons once they are placed.

Overall, the controls of this game are pretty good. Every button is used to its fullest. The UI is also great to use. There is something I think they can improve when it comes to the UI and that is a search option in the Monstrous Codex and the Item Compendium and make those list sortable. That would have been such a great help.

The visual presentation is a feast for the eyes. When I’m playing this game I sometimes just stop and look around with the circle pad to take in the gorgeous artwork and the detailed environments. The theming of this game is pretty well done. On the jungle floors, you get various patches of patches of grass filled with thorns. On the winter floors, you have a lot of the area that there are icy spots you have to slide and you can’t suddenly take a turn then.

The animations in this game are pretty decent. You can compare the style of animations in this game with a Pokémon game. It’s a similar concept. Most of the animations are present during the battles. I wish that the characters inside the towns were a bit more animated while they speak since now they are extremely pretty 2D characters.

All of this is topped off with an amazing soundtrack, a soundtrack I’m actually interested in buying it. I really enjoy listing to the soundtrack of this game that much. Together with the sound design of this game, I think you have a feast for the ears too. One of my favorite tracks in the game is “Bloody Fight – Betting it All”. It’s such a great track when you are fighting those bosses.

This game is a blast to play. If you are into RPG’s and/or Dungeon Crawlers, it would be a shame if you don’t play any of the Etrian Odyssey games. If you want to enjoy this game and don’t want to be afraid that this game is too difficult, play on the picnic difficulty.

This game can be extremely challenging if you don’t build up your party the right way. If you don’t use your upgrade points wisely, if you give bad items to characters, don’t use boosts or grimoire stones… If you want a challenge, don’t use a guide for this game. Otherwise, I think it’s perfectly fine to use a guide to help in on your quest.

I love the Etrian Odyssey series and I can’t wait to finish this game. I can recommend it to everyone who is looking for a game they can sink hours upon hours into and a game that challenges your skills as a gamer and an RPG/Dungeon Crawler fan.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

First Impression: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) ~ Festive Fighting

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Official site

So, today is a day of celebration. It’s Christmas. So, let’s celebrate that with some festive fighting! For those who don’t know yet, this game is a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, in some weird hybrid way. Now, I have played Fire Emblem games in the past, but I haven’t played a lot of Shin Megami games. But, let me tell you, that isn’t a problem when you want to play this game. But, is this game worth your time and money to invest in or this is a game you should avoid as a bad concert? Well, let’s find out in this article. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Mirage Masters

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The main character in this game is Itsuki Aoi. A young lad who was going to a concert with a friend of his. Actually, it was to see her perform.

His friend goes by the name of Tsubasa Oribe. She is in a competition and made it to one of the final rounds. When the winner gets announced, the presenter goes into a total crazy mode and starts attacking everybody together with weird creatures that came out of nowhere. When a portal appears in another dimension, where Tsubasa is sucked into, Itsuki gives chase and you find yourself in a strange world.

In there, you have to find your way through various labyrinths. It doesn’t take long before you meet a mirage. You start fighting alongside this mirage to conquer the strange world you are in now. After various things happened in the labyrinth, you find out that your friend, Touma Akagi, who wasn’t able to make it to the concert was in the same strange world as yourself. You rescue Tsubasa and escape. Now, Itsuki is a mirage master. Just like Tsubasa and Touma.

It doesn’t take long before you are picked up by a talent agency and Tsubasa’s dream of becoming an idol becomes true. Besides that, Itsuki has to undergo the same training as well. But, it doesn’t take long before even more portals to the strange other world appear and the gang must go inside to undo the world from harm of the strange force invading.

That’s everything I want to say about the story. So far, I’m at the final boss of the second chapter. And I have to admit, the story of this game has a real Saturday morning anime vibe over it. Each chapter is a story in itself while the overall story is progressed. This fits the game like a glove. It wraps up each chapter nicely while it progresses the main story just enough to have some more tension for the next chapter.

There is also a lot of voice acting in this game. Almost all of the dialogue during cutscenes is voice acted in Japanese. There is no English option. There are subtitles though and the Japanese voice acting is just amazing.

Since this game takes place in a more modern time, the characters talk a lot back and forth using their smartphones. The Wii U gamepad is the character’s smartphone. It’s impossible to play this game without the TV. This is somewhat of a bummer in my opinion. But, the Wii U gamepad screen has used a sort of a second screen like the Nintendo (3)DS to display the map or display more information on the screen.

Festive Fights

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Exploring the labyrinths reminds me a lot of the Etrain Odyssey series and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. This game is an RPG-Dungeon crawler.

The battle system has some unique surprised up its sleeve. At first, enemies can appear randomly during your exploration. You have a meter on the top left of your screen when an enemy is nearby. But, you don’t see the enemies itself roaming around, you see mirages roaming around.

These are different colored ghosts floating around that have a different color depending on what type of enemy they are. For example, red is your “normal” enemies and gold are the extremely rare enemies.

When you let them catch you, they get the first move. When you run into them, it’s a random chance who goes first. But, if you slash them and then run into them, you get the first move.

The battle themselves take place on a stage, with a crowd cheering you and the enemies on. If a weak spot can be hit, a session can be performed. This means that the allies can attack as well. Notice how I didn’t specify on how can do that in my previous sentence. Since both you and your enemies can do that.

So, that means, if you are facing off against a fire type enemy and one of your characters is weak to fire; well, prepare to defend that character and heal were needed since a session attack can hit pretty hard.

As a side note, this game doesn’t autosave. You get promoted here and there with the question if you want to save your game, but you can save anywhere and anytime outside of battles and cutscenes, by using the main menu.

So, session attacks. How do you know which enemy is weak against what? Well, as soon as you hit an enemy with a certain type of attack, the result will be noted down. On the gamepad, you can always see an overview of which enemy is weak for which attack.

Choose your fights wisely, since you can only enter three characters into combat. Something I really like is how every important character lays down on a grass field in the main menu.

Gimmicks and stuff

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So, each labyrinth has it’s own gimmick that fits the story perfectly. This adds a lot to the visual presentation of the game.

And I do have to say that I think this game looks amazing. The game is colorful and pleasing to the eyes and runs at a steady frame rate. I haven’t seen any slowdowns or notice any moments that the frames get dropped.

The animations are also nice to look at. While you can skip most of them, I don’t always skip them, since they are so pretty to look at. This game is just eye candy and I think that this is one of the game strong suits.

The soundtrack of this game is really great as well. Besides creating an amazing atmosphere, I also put the soundtrack in my playlist to listen to while I’m at my day job doing work. It’s that good to listen too. If this soundtrack comes out on CD, I would love to buy it. Since it would be amazing to have in my collection.

The sound design is pretty great as well. I love the sound references to Fire Emblem, when you level up, for example, that’s the sound effect used in Fire Emblem.

So far, I have mostly sung praises for this game. Is there something bad about this game? Well, there are a few things that I don’t like about this game. First of all, the difficulty curve can be a bit unforgiving.

I rarely skip fights while I’m playing an RPG, since I know if I do start skipping fights, my characters might not be strong enough to fight a final boss. But, sometimes a final boss has some extremely strong attack up its sleeve, that comes out of nowhere and destroys my party. There is grinding in this game and not the enjoyable type of grinding. In addition to that, I noticed that there isn’t a way to easily fully heal before a big boss fight happens. That’s a shame. So, stocking up on items is a good idea.

A second thing that I don’t like is how easy it is to get disoriented in the labyrinths. When I want to go somewhere, I’m not able to follow the map I can view on the Wii U gamepad. I wish it was a bit more clear which staircase led to where. An easy solution would have been, if you touch a stairway on the gamepad, you get taken to the stairway on the other floor.

A 3rd thing I highly dislike is how difficult it is to get the golden enemies to spawn, catch or defeat. While I know their locations, they are sometimes too quick to even have a chance of battling them and they tend to run away. I noticed that if they run away, you are unable to get them to spawn again while exploring that labyrinth. Exiting and entering back doesn’t always help.

A 4th thing I don’t like is nothing said in Japanese during the battles is subtitled. I feel like I’m missing out on interesting dialogue on puns because I can’t understand a word from what they are saying.

A 5th thing I dislike about this game is a nitpick actually. But, why is the main menu button “Y”? I had a few times I wanted to press “X” to attack and instead I pressed “Y” and opened the main menu. This could have been avoided when the main menu button was the “Start” button.

And the 6th and final thing that I dislike is how rare items are to heal your SP. You can’t even buy them in the shops for a crazy price. So, if you want to save your SP up for a boss fight, you will need to use the teleporters or save up those items.

In any case, besides those 6 issues I have with the game, I’m greatly enjoying my time with this game and I want to finish it. I can’t wait to see what the other chapters are going to throw at me and how the side quests will play out.

But for now, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Project Zero – Maiden Of The Blackwater (Wii U) ~ Snap Those Ghosts

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Official website

While I know that Halloween is over and that we are extremely close to another holiday, that is supposed to bring happiness and joy to people, that doesn’t stop me from talking about a scary game. I had heard a lot about this game and also a lot about the franchise, Fatal Frame. In fact, this is the 5th entry into the series. Thankfully, you don’t need to know about the previous games in this series to enjoy this game. When I saw in my local game store that I was able to pick up the collectors edition with everything in it for a cheap price, I don’t hesitate. I mean, I’m a game collector after all. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game since this game did something with me. Do I regret buying this game or have I been enjoying it? Let me explain while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Scared-y cat

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So, I’m not that good with horror games. I get spooked too easily and generally, my play style doesn’t fit the more careful way of planning and strategizing that you need to survive in horror games.

Now, in recent memory, there were a few horror games that actually made me want to play horror games. First, there was this psychological horror game called 999: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors then there was this, somewhat over the top, horror visual novel adventure series called Corpse Party. Then I noticed something if I’m able to get invested in the story, I tend to enjoy myself. Also, I tend to enjoy Japanese horror games more than western horror games.

That’s what happened almost right away in Project Zero. The story is pretty well written and takes various twists and turns. Some I had seen coming, but the pacing and execution are great.

You play this game in chapters, called “drops” in this game where you visit a cursed Japanese mountain. You can play as a few different characters, but there are no big differences between them gameplay-wise. The difference is in the story.

In this game, you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting. I honestly tried both and I think they are both great. For my overall gameplay, I tend to choose the English voice acting since I enjoy looking at the cutscenes on my big TV and the subtitles are just a bit too small on there.

So far, I’m at the 5th drop and I have been enjoying the story. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has to throw at it. I also like how you can get some backstory with the various notes you find. While some people don’t enjoy reading huge walls of text, in this game there aren’t too many and they aren’t too long to read either.

Snap those ghosts

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Something I really like in this game is that this game doesn’t have a limited amount of ways to defend yourself and still stay challenging.

In this game, you solve different cases related to the haunted mountain. While you can explore the mountain, most of the game is somewhat linear. You can do some exploration but not too much.

During your exploration, you can get attacked by different ghosts. Now, you can choose to avoid most of them, but others you will have to “kill”. This you can do by snapping various pictures of them. The better you get the ghost and it’s face into the frame, the more damage you do.

There is also a point system and these points can be crucial to your survival. The better pictures you take and the better combo’s you make, the more points you earn. You can use these points to not only upgrade your camera to do more damage and defeat the boss or the stronger ghosts more easily. You can also use your points to buy various healing and supportive items at the start of a chapter. So, if you need more healing items or supportive items AND you want to upgrade your camera, you better make good pictures of the ghosts.

There is a “risk and reward” system here. If you let the ghost come close, you will get damaged, but you also do more damage. So, you really have to think wisely when you get in to combat.

While you are exploring the area, you can choose if you have your screen mirrored on the Wii U gamepad or if a map is shown. Something I really like during combat is how the game shows a more general view on the TV screen and a more zoomed in view if you look through the Wii U gamepad. You really get the feeling you are snapping pictures of those ghosts using the Wii U gamepad as a camera.

The camera is a game mechanic used to it’s fullest in the game. You will also need to use it to bring items from the ghost world to ours. There are a few other mechanics too, but I leave those for you to discover if you decide to play this game.

Shivers

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The visual presentation of this game is extremely well done. The game looks amazing on the Wii U. The game really drew me in with its visuals and animations.

While I have seen some clipping in the animations, when it comes to humans picking up objects, there are a few moments where I thought the game could use just a bit more visual polish. Especially the animation of the hair I found lacking. Almost everything on the body is well animated, even down to a shaking hand to simulate shivers in the characters when they are picking up objects. But, the hair mostly stays static, as blobs to the head of the characters.

Also, there are some invisible walls in this game. While I understand that there are some invisible walls to avoid players running off cliffs, sometimes they are used in places I think they weren’t needed. For example, there was one place where you had a room with an altar and a pool in front of it. You were unable to go to the altar since in the middle of the pool, there was an invisible wall.

Those are the only complaints that I have when it comes to the visual presentation of this game. And most of them, don’t really bother me that much. I really think they did a great job when it comes to the visual presentation. It even creeped me out sometimes.

Besides the visual design, the sound design does a lot to creep you out too. In most cases, when a spook happens, some loud noise or sound effect plays. That’s not always the case in this game. This game can play tricks on you with moving dolls or just putting silent ghosts just right around the corner.

The sound design also helps out in the cutscenes and regular gameplay. You get additional sound effects playing through the speakers of the gamepad, making some situations even more creepy.

Overall, I think it’s quite clear with all the praise I’m giving the game, that I’m enjoying this game. But, there is one thing that I think really brings this game down. Sometimes, the controls in combat aren’t as smooth as they are supposed to be.

I had times where my gamepad lagged behind what was happening on the screen or the other way around. Also, the gamepad didn’t always follow my movements when I went from side to side. This caused some damage that could have been avoided. While I write it off as my character packing and being flustered, I can see some gamers being frustrated at this and stop playing the game altogether.

The game has two difficulty levels. You can play this game on easy and on normal. Maybe, you unlock a higher difficulty when you beat this game, but I haven’t done that yet.  In addition to that, I assume that you unlock the costumes also at the end of the game. Since I’m at the 5th drop and not one costume unlocked. Maybe, I’m overlooking something here.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I left out in this review since I think it would be more fun for you to discover while you are playing the game for yourself. This game is totally worth playing if you enjoy adventure games and games with a good story. But beware, for spooky moments.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

First Impression: Iubes 2 (PC) ~ Death To All Cubes?

iubes 2Official website

For this game, there is a death counter on the website that keeps track of how many iubes were killed in action. What are iubes? Well, these are intelligent cubes fighting against other intelligent cubes. So, you will start in one house without any allies and you will have to fight for yourself in this interesting online strategy game. It’s a game where you can’t micromanage your party, but you have to macromanage it. And if you defeat other players, you can become the new king. Interested? Good, I’m too. So, let’s dive right into my first impressions after playing a few matches in Iubes 2. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Survival of the cubes

Iubes 2 (1)So, this game doesn’t have a story to speak off. Well, if you can call the fact that there are 4 factions a story, then there is a story. But each faction has the same abilities compared to the others, so the color you choose only matters to which color you are fighting for.

Something I really like about this game is the UI. The humor put into the UI is really great. Especially the menu system. I really love the design. Also, I really love how there is a button to switch between windowed mode and full screen. This is a really neat feature.

There is one bug I have to mention, that might be fixed when I release this article but switching between monitors in the options menu crashed the game for me each and every time I tried. But, when I launched the game again, it displayed on the screen I had chosen.

The first thing I have to warn players about is the fact that the camera system is something you need to get used too. Since the world is spherical, the camera system is special. At first, it might be a bit disorienting. But don’t worry, you will get used to the camera system after messing with it for a bit in the tutorial.

The tutorial can be replayed whenever you want by going to the help menu and clicking the “tutorial” button. Also, the tutorial helps you get through a basic round of this game and explains everything in detail. But, it only has one opponent. So, you learn only the basics in this tutorial. The help feature isn’t far away if you need it.

RTS with a twist!

iubes 2 (2)At its core, Iubes 2 is a hybrid game between RTS, Strategy and an action game. The game plays like an RTS, but the benefit is that you don’t have to micromanage everything. Unlike games like Age Of Empires and Rise Of Nations, you don’t have to create a boatload of villagers to gather stone, food, wood… for you. The cubes are smart enough to do that for themselves.

This means you can focus on building the right buildings and preparing yourself for war in defeating the other players. While the gameplay is more focused on online play, there is also the ability to play this game offline.

I’m going to come clean and say that I haven’t played this game online yet. Since I’m not the best in online games and I enjoy playing my games more offline, to be honest. I did test out the online game for a bit and I have to say that I haven’t experienced any major issues. So, for this review, I’ll focus more on the offline side of things. If that’s fine with you.

After beating the tutorial, I played several rounds on the easy difficulty. I do have to say that after playing various rounds of other RTS games, this is something you need to get used too. If you enjoy RTS games and you want to play another RTS with some unique mechanics, look no further then Iubes 2.

The fact that I don’t have to micromanage is a godsend. This makes the game fast paced and fun. After I got used to the camera system and the gameplay, I was defeating the AI on easy without any care in the world. It’s true what they say in the Steam reviews and in the game itself. Matches between experienced players can last up to 25 minutes or less.

Visually round

Iubes 2 (3)So, the game is a very pretty game. I really like how the world is designed. The polygon graphics really pop due to the chosen color scheme. While all worlds are randomly generated, I really love the effect that you get when staring down the tube and seeing the hills and trees in the distance. It’s really impressive how optimized the game is too.

The game doesn’t require a lot of resources so it can be played on low-end devices. This gets a thumbs up from me.

Together with the amazing visual design comes an amazing soundtrack. For real, I wish I could buy this soundtrack. Sadly, that isn’t an option right now. I really love the techno-style soundtrack that this game has to go. If I was able too, I would love to add this to my day-to-day playlist actually.

The sound design is good. While I wish there were a bit more sound effects for when thunder would strike or your warriors would attack, I think that the sound effects that are already present in the game do their job pretty well.

So far, I have only been saying praises about the game. Are there any negatives about this game? Well, yes there are. The biggest complaint I have is, there is no save feature in the single-player mode. Yes, you can’t save a match and come back later. So, if your game crashes or automatic updates happen… tough luck, you will have to restart. I understand that this isn’t present since the games are pretty quick to finish, but an autosave from your latest games would be helpful to have the two example situations I talked about earlier.

A second complaint I have is that the tutorial doesn’t explain everything. Don’t get me wrong here, the tutorial is short and to the point, but only explains the usefulness of three buildings. I wish there were more tutorials to explain the other buildings. Or the tutorial could be expanded just a little bit longer to talk about what each building is used for. I feel that this is a missed opportunity. Like, the game has so many features but the tutorial only explains so little. On the other hand, I’m happy that the tutorial isn’t forced upon the players so you can explore and experiment with your heart’s content.

My 3rd complaint is something that can be fixed in a future update. A button to quickly go to your tower when you are either lost or you need to defend it.

And that is all my complaints really. I think that this game is pretty well developed. The game actually feels finished and polished up. I said it before, if you are a fan of RTS games, give this one a go. It’s RTS but with an interesting twist. If you are a fan of strategy and action games, this game is something for you. The game is currently 19€ on Steam. The game only works on Windows and MAC. Surprisingly, this game can run on Windows XP. Oh well, that’s just my nostalgic bone tingling.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to talk about for this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!