First Impression: Pokémon Scarlet & Violet (Switch) ~ Closer To Good

Pokémon.com micrositeWikipedia

It has been a while since the latest Pokémon game came out. Honestly, I expected myself beating this game a lot sooner. But, we are now over half a year later, and I haven’t beaten the game yet. What’s going on? Is this game the first Pokémon game I’m going to drop or did I get distracted? Well, I have some opinions on this game and I wanted to talk about this game… but, I was unable to find the right words or a great angle to write about this game. So, this week I decided to give myself time till my writing day and then sit down and give my opinion on this game. In the meantime, I have almost completed the game but since I haven’t, this is going to be a first impression. And of course, I’m going to invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of this article. Since, this game is something else… It split the fanbase into two camps, and I want to talk about it.

There is a story?

In this game, you play as a student who enrolls into the local Academy. It doesn’t take long before your usual adventure in the Paldea region starts. The introduction in this game is something you’d expect from a Pokémon game.

After the headmaster visits you, you can pick your starter Pokémon and go attend school. You meet your rival on your way to school and not too long after, you get introduced to the actual main story of this game. The treasure hunt.

This treasure hunt is sort of a final exam / field expedition. Whilst you want to start your treasure hunt, you get introduced to the three different story lines that will go on.

Two out of the three story lines are your typical Pokémon affair. The first story line is your journey to become a Pokémon Master, by defeating the 8 gyms spread across the region and then taking on the Pokémon League. The second story line is what I call the “Team Rocket” story line. Basically, taking on the evil team of the game. But, in this game, we also have a third story line. This is a nice change of pace and adds a bit more depth to the game.

In terms of writing, this game is fine for what it sets out to do. If you expect a more mature Pokémon game story, you won’t find it here. The story is more aimed at young children and teens. My biggest problem with the story is that it’s too tame most of the time. There is no real tension, no real line to pull you into the story.

Yes, the evil team this time around isn’t just your cheerleading squad for one of the major side characters. Looking at you, Sword and Shield. No, this time it’s a team of students that ran away from school. Delinquents, if you will. If only they did a bit more to stand out. Besides your first interaction with them, they barely do anything outside their bases. On top of that, their bases are generic, I have a hard time telling their bases apart.

I totally understand that it’s difficult to create an open world game and having a story that really pulls you in. Since, you never know where the player is going to go next and if you lead the player too much, they might feel that the game is too linear and scripted. But, I’m convinced that you can do more than what this game does.

Let’s keep with the evil team, Team Star, as an example. Your first encounter is at the school gates. You fight two grunts that are causing a small bit of ruckus. After you have beaten them, you get some backstory and during the start of the treasure hunt… You get challenged to take down their bases. That’s cool, great setup. But, the annoying thing is that the gameplay behind that turns into almost additional gym battles.

We never see Team Star take over a village or do something. There is no actual reason to interact with Team Star besides for the story. When will we see the evil team actually being evil or being a danger to the player? That’s what I feel that the story in this game is missing. It feels like an afterthought, a way to get the player to point A to B. I feel that The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild did it a lot better. In that game, we as a player have a reason to go out and explore. We need to gear up to defeat Ganon and save the world.

In this game, we … Explore the world because it’s “homework”. I’m sorry, but the story is swinging a miss in this game. Maybe I’m a bit too old, or maybe I’m being too critical, but it’s too safe. Yes, you have three separate story lines, and they are fine, but they never cross paths with each other and there are not of hooks for the player to want to follow along and continue the story. I really don’t get what other reviewers are seeing in this story.

After a lot of thought, I think I can explain why I’m not clicking with the story. First, like I said, it’s too safe. There is no lurking threat in the world that make you want to save this world or want to see what happens next. The closest of the three story lines is actually the new story line. Where you help heal a sick Pokémon.

Secondly, it lacks a lot of progression. Most of the tension of the story stays on a flat line. For example, let’s take the Team Star story line. There is no real worry in Team Star after you defeated the other bases. I mean, I don’t notice anything different when I have defeated one or three bases. Yes, the interactions at the start and after beaten the base are a bit different… But, you have the gameplay loop is always the same in the bases.

And third, the gameplay is working against it. For an example, you can read the paragraph above. Another example is that the trainers on the routes don’t notice you anymore, like in the previous games. Yes, you have to interact with them before they start a battle. So, you don’t naturally level up anymore and that way you have to grind… And that way, the player is more focused on the gameplay than on the story. Also, the dialogue isn’t different if you are rematching a gym leader after being defeated by the leader for one or more times… I mean, come on, things have to work in tandem for it to work.

Re-heated dinner

One of the best ways I feel to describe this game is that it’s a re-heated dinner. Of course, those dinners can still be extremely tasty, but it isn’t fresh anymore, and you don’t know which parts are heated enough or need more heating.

This game has a lot of going for it. I love the fact that this is one of the first main line Pokémon games that isn’t linear. You can choose where to progress and decide your own pace.

Sadly, I have to mention the elephant in the room. This game has a lot of issues in terms of performance. The frame rate can dip in some areas, but the texture pop-in is awful.

You can mostly see this problem in large area’s. You see the environment loading in, in the distance. It’s like the render distance is too far to begin with. If this was created by a small team of developers, I could understand. It’s an ambitious big open world and some areas might be rough. But, this is Game Freak we are talking about. I feel that they stretched themselves too thin. Since 2010, we are roughly getting a Pokémon game every year. And we got two big titles last year.

The more that I played this game, the more I got the feeling that the ambition for this game was too big. I’m just glad that this game doesn’t have a lot of game breaking issues. Or at least, I haven’t encountered any. According to this article from the Sun, the raids might be broken… But to be honest, I don’t really bother with the raids. I don’t like the gameplay loop of raids and I feel like it’s a boring, very optional activity.

Just like the camping and sandwich mechanics in this game. Sure, it’s amazing they are in this game and add some depth we Pokémon fans are asking for… But, it feels undercooked. I have to be honest, I haven’t bothered using the camping at all. I had even forgotten that it were mechanics in the game.

Now, a mechanic that really hits its mark in my opinion is the gimmick mechanic of this region. Terastallization is such a unique idea, and it works extremely well. The gist of the gimmick is that Pokémon can become a crystal form of themselves. Depending on the Pokémon, they either hold their typing or change into a different type. This adds another strategy layer upon the game. I really like this mechanic over some of the previous gimmicks. You can even change the Tera type of your Pokémon to obtain an edge in battle. I’d explain it all in depth, but I’ll let this amazing NintendoLife article handle that.

Something I also really like is how you get a fast way to explore this quite open landscape. The world feels real and is a lot of fun to explore. The bike legendary Pokémon you get is a godsend. To be honest, I would have complained quite a bit if you only could walk everywhere. Since the walking speed isn’t that fast. It’s also cool that you can upgrade the abilities of your ride during the story.

But, then again… The world feels too empty. There are areas that are just devoid of anything. Barely any wild Pokémon walking around, items to find or trainers to battle. Yes, wild Pokémon walk around visibly and they are to scale. You can let the Pokémon that’s first in your party also run around to battle and gain XP automatically. Too bad that your partner Pokémon is too slow to keep up with your ride.

There are also different type of items in the world. There are materials and items. The items are just like in previous Pokémon games where you have potions, healing items, TM’s, Pokéballs… to name just a few types. But you also have materials you have to use to craft TM’s. Yes, craft TM’s. They are finally single use again but you can stop at Pokémon Centers to go to the TM machine and craft a TM again if you have the needed materials. And you can find materials to craft new sandwiches too.

I feel like Game Freak had a long list of things they wanted to implement. But in some areas they didn’t succeed. For example, the Pokémon Centers are just a joke now. They feel like a gas stop at the side of the road, if that even. A small food truck is a better description. Each Pokémon Center feels copy pasted everywhere. There are also barely any unique characters around in the Pokémon Centers…

Also, healing with healing items is a bit broken. You have to use each potion one by one while you can choose to use more than one XP candy at the same time. Oh, and when you want to heal more than one Pokémon, you have to reselect the healing item.

What the future holds and gives

I have to be honest, I have written a lot of drafts for this review. There is so much this game does right but there are also various fundemental things where this game swings a miss. Let me give another example: It has a more expansive story but all the characteres are still silent. Not even small grunts like in Breath of the Wild.

The fact you can finally control the camera during Pokémon battles to a degree is great fun… But, the visual mess you can create sometimes is just shameful.

There are so many buildings in the villages now but so many of them are just set decoration. To the point where there is barely any additional lore to be found. No unique thing that sets the villages apart, apart from their geographical location. And all special locations are visited during the story at some point… So, yeah.

The controls are extremely responsive in this game, but the map screen is a nightmare to use. It’s a bit too easy to zoom in and out, there is no easy way to center the map or to go to your location. A lot of times I had to rotate the map since I wasn’t sure where I was in the region.

The music in this game is something where I don’t have any complaints about. The music in this game has the amazing mix between new and oldschool Pokémon music and it does quite a lot for the atmosphere. I highly recommend that you play this game with a good sound system or a good headset. Since, that’s what is giving the areas some more atmosphere and brings the game more to life.

There is also a day and night cycle in this game that isn’t linked to the real life day night cycle. It’s just like in Minecraft, but in this game the length of the cycle is a lot longer. It’s almost an hour and twenty mintues, give or take. This makes it enjoyable since you don’t have to devote time at a certain part of the day to try and catch a night Pokémon. Then again, it looses that charm too… So, it’s a double edged sword with no right answer.

Listen, I could keep talking about this game for a while longer but I think I have talked about the biggest things I wanted to talk about. I think I have explained why this game split the fanbase into two. There are some people who dislike this game because of all the technical problems and some of the shallow parts of the game… yet, there are people who like this game because it’s that big open world Pokémon game that finally dares to take the plunge into doing something new instead of holding to the “8 gyms and defeat evil team along the way” story from all previous gens.

It finally has more mechanics, more depth but parts are unpolished and we don’t know if that polish is going to come or if they are more focusing on all the DLC and/or this year’s big Pokémon title. Personally, I’m curious to see where they are taking the series next. If this was their first attempt on the open world Pokémon game… I have to say that it was a nice attempt.

My personal advice for the next game is to scale the scope down by a lot. I’d rather see a polished and well crafted game then a game where there is a lot to do but nothing has depth. Like, you have two types of currencies but you can use both of them for everything. (Thank god by the way that you don’t make these microtransactions, or all hell would have broken loose.) Make your mechanics unique, meaningfull and fun to use. Focus on that and on the technical aspect and the rest will come. You can always add more depth in updates and/or DLC.

Before I start rambling about this game for too long, I think it’s high time to write the conclusion. What do I think about this game? Well, I think that this is your typical 7/10 game. It has a lot going for it but it’s rough. Very rough sometimes in the technical department. But, it isn’t unplayable or unenjoyable… it has just some (very) low moments and these make the high moments sometimes taste bittersweet. I’m enjoying myself while playing this game, but it was a good idea to enjoy this game in chuncks since it came out.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I’m rather curious what you think about my article. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. I also 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.

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The Top 10 Games NekoJonez played in 2022.

It’s that time of year once again. The year is coming to a close, and it’s time to look back at what I played in 2022. This year has been an extremely busy year for me and that’s why I didn’t write as many articles this year as I usually do. Also, I started spring-cleaning on my blog and working on things behind the scenes to make my blog even better. Besides playing “new” games, I have been focusing as well on finishing unfinished games and also improving my speedrunning records. Anyway, before I forget to mention this… My top 10 games of the year list is special. In this list I talk about the games I enjoyed playing through the year, and it doesn’t matter if they were released this year or earlier. The only thing that matter is that I started playing it this year for this first time. Otherwise, it doesn’t count. That way I’m sure I can talk about ten new games every time at the end of the year. It’s both to challenge myself and to make the article more interesting for you to read since you never know which games will appear on here. So, what’s your top 10, and what do you think of my list? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions. And yes, this is my personal list, so yours’ll be different.

#10 – Wolfenstein – A New Order (PC ~ Steam) (May 2014)

Sometimes, all that I need is a good shooter that’s just fun to play. The new Wolfenstein games were on my backlog for so long and this year I decided to give it a go. And I’m so glad I did. The new Wolfenstein games are amazing to play and are what I’m looking for in a shooter.

While a military shooter like a Call of Duty can be a lot of fun as well… I do like games like Wolfenstein or Outlaws, where the gameplay is more than shooting alone. I love exploring the environment and solving puzzles. And that’s something I sometimes miss in more modern shooter games. It’s almost always going from one shooting room to the next.

Something I adore in this game as well is the “what if” scenario and how the game embraces its weirdness without a second thought. I mean, the machines and everything that the Nazi’s are using in this game are just silly.

It’s a game that gave me a breath of fresh air and showed me again that I don’t need to play the newest and latest games to enjoy myself. Even a game I skipped 8 years ago can be a lot of fun to blast through then a game released a week ago. Now, I still have to finish the game… Maybe another round after writing this article won’t hurt?

#9 – Powerslave Exhumed (PC ~ Steam) (February 2022)

A second shooter on my top ten games of the year list? Well, yes, my friend. And in this shooter, we visit Ancient Egypt to fight our way to victory. And on top of that, it also has great puzzles and is just a real blast to play.

Lately, I don’t always have the time to find the right retro game for me, so when a remake/remaster or a modern port gets released… Yeah, I have the perfect excuse to play “retro” games. One thing I really like in this game is the fact that in terms of health and ammo, there are only two pick-ups. One for your health, and one for your ammo. But, not all guns drain the same ammo pool. So, when picking up ammo, you have to be careful to have the right gun equipped.

This game is an amazing balancing act between an old school 3D shooter, puzzle game and strategy game. The Egyptian setting is more than just set dressing. You really go through old temples of gods and pharaohs like it’s almost real. I always get the feeling that I’m Indiana Jones running around in these tombs trying to find the next artifact to progress in the story.

The only thing I dislike about this game is that when you put it down for a while, it’s a bit unclear what the next level is. Thankfully, you can get a hint when you go through the intro level again… But, this could have been handled a bit better. But, overall, that’s a nitpick about an amazing game I can’t wait to find more time for. So, I can finish it and put it out of my backlog and finally give it a full review on my blog.

#8 – Gas Station Simulator (PC ~ Steam) (September 2021)

My review

So, if you had told me a few years ago that a simulation game about gas stations was going to be in my top ten games of the year list… I mostly likely declare you crazy.

Yet, here we are. Gas Station Simulator gets the number 8 spot in my 2022 list. Simply because it was the perfect wind down game for me.

While I wrote my review, the big performance enhancing patch hadn’t dropped. But, now that it did, and some additional features were added, the game is even more fun. I’m oh so curious what the developers have in store for the next patches and DLC, but that’s something that we shall see next year. I’m mostly curious on how they are going to combine the other games they have announced to work together. Games working together is something I have only seen in The Legend of Zelda – Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons and I found it really underused back then. Now, I hope they didn’t bite off more than they can chew… But, that’s something we’ll find out when it’s released, most likely. But for now, I have seen the first great stepping stones for an amazing tycoon universe. Here is to hope they don’t overcomplicate it!

I also wrote a review about it, so if you want my opinion… Feel free to check out my review. But know that it was written before the big preformance patches.

#7 – The Last of Us Remastered (PS4) (July 2014)

I’m such a big fan of the Tomb Raider & Indiana Jones games… I just love a big adventure game where you go from place to place, to find an ancient artifact. Now, we have confirmation that a new Tomb Raider game AND a new Indiana Jones game is in the works. But when will they release? We don’t really know yet. We don’t even know on which platform(s) they will release.

Now, with that kind of intro… You’d expect an Uncharted game to fill this spot. But, no. It’s another amazing series from the same developers. The Last of Us surprised me in many ways. It scratched that itch of exploring a world, trying to survive and find a way forward.

While I’m not too big on zombie or infection stories, I’m so happy that this game doesn’t focus too much on your cliché things that those stories usually focus on. Expect, you get a game about a bond between two people in an apocalyptic world.

Currently, I’m quite close to the end of the game. There is this one section I can’t get passed, but one of these days I’ll. And then, I can start working on the review for this game. But, the fact that I’m almost done with the first game makes me a bit sad since it’s such a nice experience to go through. But, I think I’m going to save my full opinion on this game for when I eventually review this game.

#6 – Coromon (Switch) (March 2022)

My article

I totally understand that 2D Pokémon games are something from the past. But, I still miss them. So, when I started playing Coromon… I got such a nostalgic wave over me.

Finally, I was able to play a totally new Pokémon-ish adventure in the style of my childhood with more modern things.

On top of that, I was blown away by the unique mechanics in this game. Also, the unique puzzles and style of this game made me appreciate this game even more.

I really think that this is one of the better indie games I have played all year, and I can’t wait to see what the developer of this game does next. But, maybe I should take a look at Coromon in a few months, since in various articles the developers said there might be new content added via patches. So yeah, if you want to know what I think about this game… I have written a nice review of the game and I highly recommend you check it out.

#5 – Silent Hill 3 (PS2) (May 2003)

In February, I’m turning 30 years old. And in the past years, a lot of people recommended the Silent Hill franchise to me. Currently, I only own the first 4 Silent Hill games and Homecoming. In 2018, I gave Silent Hill 4 a chance. Yet, it was so close to getting a spot in my top ten games of the year list.

Now, I do enjoy playing horror games once in a while and while I have been more “distracted” by games like Fatal Frame and Resident Evil, this year I finally gave Silent Hill 3 a chance. And man, I’m so glad I did.

Silent Hill 3 is one of those games that is exactly what I’m looking for lately. A horror game that’s less focused on combat but more on puzzles and world building. Something I really love is how there are different difficulty modes for the actual game and the riddles in some Silent Hill games and this is one of them. So, you can tune the game to how you want. Do you want to a more combat-focused run or a brain teaser… Or both? That’s totally up to the player. And best of all, these difficulties don’t gatekeep endings.

Anyways, I still have a lot to play and go through before I can even write a first impression of this game. But, I’m so glad that I’m giving this game a chance. I can’t wait to see how this game is going to impress me next or what twists and turns it will take. And because of that, it gets a well-deserved fifth place on my top ten games of 2022 list.

#4 – AI – The Somnium Files: Nirvana Initiative (Switch) (June 2022)

My review

Kotaro Uchikoshi is one of my favorite game directors. He is one of the minds behind the Zero Escape series. A series I love and still quote to this day.

After the Zero Escape trilogy, Kotaro started work on his next big project which is the AI: The Somnium Files series. And this year, we got the 2nd game in the series, the Nirvana Iniative.

While this game isn’t as strong as the original game, it’s still an amazing game. I felt that this sequel played it a bit too safe in certain areas. But, maybe I’m judging it too harshly because I loved the first game so much. Like how fans of the game always expect something bigger and better then the first game for a sequel but are then angry if it’s too different or not different enough.

Something that did this game also no real favors is that the first game’s story had no real loose ends. So, what could a sequel build on apart from throwing in a lot of new characters? Surprisingly, this game also re-uses some of the background characters of the first game and gives them more depth.

I might expected a bit more for this sequel, but it’s an excellent game in its own right. It also has a built-in spoiler filter to avoid players who start with this game, to not spoil the original game. So, that’s something I love to see in these kinds of games. Especially since there isn’t anything in title to indicate that this game is a sequel.

#3 – Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (Switch) (December 2021)

I remember that at the end of 2015, I started the Bioshock trilogy. And then, in 2016, I played Bioshock Infinite. And the final part of that trilogy was such an amazing part of the trilogy, it even scored a spot as my most favorite game of that year.

Late 2021, I started playing the Danganronpa games. Last year, the original Danganronpa scored game of the year for me. And this year, I played two Danganronpa games. I have only played the start of Another Episode, but I have finished the amazing 3rd entry in the series in January.

Apart from some major slowdown issues in some parts, this game is fantastic. Explaining why would ruin so much of the story. Let me just say, it’s a worthy ending of an amazing series that I didn’t want to end just like the Zero Escape series.

So, thank you Kazutaka Kodaka and your team for creating this amazing franchise and porting it over to the Nintendo Switch. I heard so much about it and always wanted to try the whole series and now that I finished the original trilogy, I have to say that if you enjoy the Zero Escape series, these games are a must play. Now, to finish the two spin off games and I’m … finished … with the series. Wait.

#2 – Persona 5 Royal (PS4) (October 2019)

This year, I tracked down a PSVita and a PS4 Pro. Mostly, because there were various exclusive titles for those systems I wanted to try and play. One of those was Persona 5 Royal. So, I buy a second hand PS4 Pro just before the summer and I buy myself a copy of Persona 5 Royal… Not knowing that in a port of Persona 5 Royal released in October of this year. But, that’s totally beside the point. It’s easy to judge ourselves in the future for actions in the past.

I expected to enjoy Persona 5, since I already bonded with the characters in Persona 5 Strikers last year. But something that I didn’t expect is how Persona 5 made me fall in love with the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series. After beating Persona 5 and close to beating the extra chapter, I went onto a spree playing various other Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games in my collection.

But, Persona 5 really clicked with me. This game was my summer jam. While I bought a whole load of other games that summer for my PS4, I always went back to Persona 5. I don’t want to know how many hours I already spent in my two playthroughs of the game. Especially, since this game is over 100 hours long.

Yeah, not joking about that. This game is anything but short. You’ll get your money worth out of it and then some. I especially love going through the game after I have beaten the story to try and unlock even more and see everything. Since, it’s close to impossible to see everything on your first playthrough unless you have a great guide and you aren’t playing this game casually.

The big issue is that I’m still looking for an angle to review this game. But, I have a feeling that in 2023… A Persona 5 Royal review will appear on my blog, where I can take you more in depth on my thoughts and opinions on this gem of a game. Since, I highly recommend this game to everybody who enjoy JRPG games. This should be a must play.

Honorable mentions

It would be weird if I only played ten new games this year or if all the other new games I played this year weren’t in the running for this list. So, here are the honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut this year. All of them are amazing games, but for one reason or another… They didn’t make the cut for this list. Also, if a game I played and isn’t on these honorable mentions list, it’s by no means a bad game. I have to limit it somewhere.

Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch), Soul Hackers 2 (PS4), Pokémon Scarlet & Violet (Switch), Pokémon Arcues (Switch), Danganronpa – Another Episode (PC ~ Steam), House Flipper (PC ~ Steam), Sherlock Holmes – Crimes & Punishments (XBOX360), YuruKill (PS4), Turok (PC ~ Steam), Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (Switch), Evil Within (XBOX360), Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (3DS), Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PSVita), Uncharted – The Lost Legacy (PSVita), Kirby and the Forgotten Lands (Switch)

#1 – Desperados III (PC ~ Steam) (June 2020)

My review

When I finished this game, I was left in awe. Desperados was one of my favorite childhood games but I found it a bit too difficult sometimes.

While Desperados III had some moments where I almost pulled my hair out, I kept sticking with it. The quick save and load feature of this game is a godsend. While, this feature was in the previous games as well, I felt that the implementation in this game is just perfect.

Also, the unique mechanics in this 3rd gem of a game are fantastic. No more endless bullets to corridor shoot down the enemies. You have to be wise and use all items and mechanics at your disposal. Something that’s tested more in depth in the additional challenges you can do.

I can talk for quite a while about this game. While writing my article about this game, I had a real hard time coming up with negatives for the game. Apart from some big difficulty spikes, this game made me want to play even more Desperados. I’m so planning to replay this game next year to try and improve my score and try to do some of the harder achievements.

Also, I still have the original games to play through. I find them too difficult as a kid and maybe with my current skillset these games might be a bit easier and maybe I’m able to finish them. In any case, Desperados III is an amazing game that I kept playing on and off this past year and a game I didn’t want to beat. Since, I knew that I wanted to keep playing it and discover new maps, new content and new things. But everything must have an end, even this year. And I’m glad that Desperados III, the gem of a game, was in my 2022.

Conclusion

2022 is a beast of a year for me. To be brutally honest, I’m so happy that the year is almost over. The amount of things that were packed into this year were simply a bit nuts. A lot of amazing things happened like me getting a fixed contract for my current job which is my dream job…

But, a lot of other things happened in my private life as well. Sometimes I really had to do a balancing act to stay on top of things. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to write for my blog or do other things. But hey, a lot of things are coming to their conclusion and 2023 has a lot of amazing things to look forward too.

But something that’s surprising to me is that, even with the drastic drop in amount of articles this year, I still grew a slight bit in 2022. Yes, the amount of views/visitors in 2021 was 7,3K and now I’m getting close to 9,5K. After so many years in the blogging world, I still enjoy being a part of it and with the plans I have for the upcoming year, I can’t wait.

I just hope that next year, I have more time for writing and my blog since I really missed that this year as my creative outlet. If you want to stay on top of things, I recommend that you follow me on my Twitter. I post the latest updates on there and I also post on there if I’m doing something else like spending time on my speedruns of Indiana Jones, streaming with friends or other things like that.

Besides all that, I still saw a lot of amazing games this year and as usual… It was far from easy to put this list for me together. I have moved games so much around and there are a lot of amazing titles that aren’t on this list. For some strange reason, I’m always afraid that I’m replaying too many games instead of playing new games and that the list is way too small. But, I’m always surprised at the amount of games that are on my list each and every year.

I’m quite curious to see what you all think about my list. And with this being one of the final articles for this year, I want to wish you all an amazing new year and with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this year for now. 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/year and take care.

Review: AI: The Somnium Files – The Nirvana Initative (Switch) ~ Let’s Dive Again

Official English websiteWikipedia page

One of my most favorite genres is an adventure visual novel. A game with a deep story with memorable characters and unique gameplay that draws you into the world of the game. Examples are Corpse Party where a cursed school plays tricks on your mind or Ace Attorney where you play as an attorney that takes on the strangest cases. I could list examples here for quite a while, like Time Hollow, where you get a pen that can mess with the past in certain circumstances. My favorite series in this genre are the Nonary games. I sometimes quote various moments to this day. I was beyond excited that after the trilogy ended, a new series by the same writer started in 2019. AI: The Somnium Files. Now, after I finished that game, I couldn’t wait to see what Kotaro Uchikoshi and his team were going to turn out next. And that is a sequel to AI: The Somnium Files, which picks up 6 years after the original game. But is it any good, or is this a sequel that we should avoid? Well, that’s what I want to talk about in this review. This review is spoiler free, so if you haven’t played the game… You shouldn’t worry about that. But in any case, let’s dive right into the game while I welcome you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions on this game and/or the content of this article.

Editoral note: this game also released on all other major platforms. I chose to play this game on Switch since I played the original on Switch as well.

Have you played?

In the original game, you took on the role of Date. An investigator at ABIS with a special AI companion implanted in his eye. Now, in this game, that isn’t really the case anymore since the focus is more on daughter Mizuki. In this game, you also play as Ryuki who is another investigator at ABIS. Both these agents are involved in a cold case which they are trying to solve for their own reasons. After the case going cold, suddenly 6 years later a new clue is found that totally reopens the cold case. So, why did the case turn into a cold case and why suddenly after 6 years are there new clues found?

In terms of explaining the story, that’s all I’m willing to say to avoid spoilers. I know I might be cutting it a bit short or being extremely vague, but this is a sort of game where you should go in as blind as possible. The story in visual novel adventure games like this one are best experienced as blind as possible. At least, that’s the way how I enjoy it the best. And sidenote, to avoid spoilers I’m going to explain some things in this article with rather generic terms instead of the in game terms.

Something that really surprised me in the opening few minutes of the game is that there is something implemented that is something I think should become a standard in other visual novel games. A sort of check to avoid spoilers of the original game. Since this game is a sequel, there is a potential that people start with this game before the original. And if you won’t get yourself spoiled on the previous game, certain pieces of dialogue are changed if you are unable to answer the questions about the ending of the previous game. Then, it skips over the dialogue that spoils parts of the previous game. Apart from a few lines, it doesn’t change too much, so you won’t be missing out if you answer the question or not.

In terms of writing, this game really delivers. The new characters don’t feel out of place at all. I honestly sometimes felt that the new characters were background characters in the original game… The voice acting in this game is one of the strongest points of this game. They make the characters come to live and pull me in the game’s world so hard. There are some weaker moments in this story, but overall, these are far and few between. In general, this pacing and story of this game is good.

Something that’s really great in this game is that there is a sort of glossary. When you forgot who a certain character is or what a certain word means, you can easily look it up in your file. There is some amazing value in there as well. So, I highly recommend reading through it.

Explore the dreams

Just like in the previous game, in this game you have to explore people’s dreams to find answers and clues for your investigation. If you played the previous game, it’s very familiar. In these explorations, you have 6 minutes to unlock the mental locks of a person to find the big clue that’ll let you progress into the game. Each interaction costs a certain amount of time, so you have to be careful and really think your actions through.

You do have 3 “retry coins” you can spend to travel back to a previous checkpoint. So, if you mess up, and you want to restart a certain section with a bit more time, you can travel back. If you don’t have enough retry coins or game-over, you’ll have to restart from you’re the start of the exploration. Also, in these explorations, it’s possible that the story splits into two paths. Now, I highly recommend that you explore all paths to the end before going to another path.

There are some additional mechanics during these explorations that can influence the time used, but that mechanic is somewhat underused in this game compared to the original. I played this game on the highest difficulty setting and to be honest, while the puzzles are interesting and a blast to figure out… I found them a bit too easy. Furthermore, I have to admit that I had to write some puzzles down on a piece of paper, but rarely did I get stuck or didn’t know right away how to solve a puzzle. The original game was more challenging.

With that said, it doesn’t mean that with easier puzzles that this game is less fun. Maybe I got lucky in figuring them out, or the experience of solving these puzzles from the previous game helped me out here.

Something I really like is when you full beat one of these dives, you unlock that dive without any time limitations. So, I can find out what the dialogue is in the wrong options and enjoy more of the enjoyable writing of this game.

This game controls extremely well. I don’t have any complaints on how this game controls. There is one minor complaint I have. There is one mini-game in the pause menu, which you can’t select by going through the menu. For the longest time, I thought I was able to only play this in handheld mode, but you just have to press the minus button on the controller to enter it. But I’ll talk more in depth about the mini-games and such later in the article.

So, these explorations in people’s minds isn’t the only mechanic in this game. There are also reconstructions you have to do. This is where you have to search for clues in a crime scene to answer a question. These moments are a lot less punishing since they don’t have a time limit.

These moments are a nice distraction to the game. Since, they help to sell that there is actual investigation work going. Yet, some of the hardest puzzles are in these sections. But, if you get stuck, the biggest hint I can give is to write the puzzle down. In these sections, there were one or two puzzles that would work a lot better if you were able to look at the clues, so that’s why I highly recommend you to write them down.

Another gameplay section of this game are the moments with quick time events. These moments are easily the weakest link of this game. I found these moments a bit boring since they are basically an interactive cutscene. You know when they are coming and these moments would have been so much more fun if they weren’t quick time events since they slow the scene down when they happen and these scenes are supposed to be fast paced actually. I’m sorry, but the implementation of the quick time event scenes in this game isn’t the best in this game. All these moments blend in with each other a bit too well.

Now, you can change the difficulty of the quick time events and the exploration moments. So, if you want to focus more on the story instead of the gameplay, that’s totally possible. Lowering the difficulty makes the game easier since it has less penalties for you. The game doesn’t lock any content away from you by lowering the difficulty.

The final gameplay section you have in this game is the investigation section. Where you go from place to place, so you can talk to the various characters to gather more information. During these moments, you can look around and investigate the environment for additional world & character building, jokes and dialogues.

These moments are just the right length. I never really felt that the conversation went on for a bit too long. Also, you can save during at any time during these moments, so when you have to leave the game and want to come back, you can comeback to a save point. This game also saves automatically. But speaking about saving and loading, this game has only one save slot. So, don’t forget about that.

Costumes and such

The music and sound design in this game is quite enjoyable. The music fits this game as a glove. I have already added it to my playlist, so I can listen to it while I’m working.

In terms of sound effects, the high quality is there as well. I don’t have any complaints about them. Most of the sound effects are just like the previous game, and they worked extremely well there.

Visually, this game looks excellent. There are some very minor rough spots, especially in low lighting, but they didn’t bother me too much. Overall, the visuals fit the atmosphere of the game extremely well. The new locations created for this game fit extremely well in the world. The animations in this game are great as well. I did notice some minor animation flaws here and there, especially with the mouths not always closing after some dialogue. But on the other hand, they help put the expression of the character come to life.

Now, let me talk about the performance of this game. Overall, I noticed barely any performance problems during my playthrough. There was some minor slowdown here and there and I felt like some cutscenes ran at a bit lower framerate compared to the rest of the game but overall, nothing really major in that regard. The game did crash on me. Three times even. Thankfully on moments where I didn’t loose to much progress but it did happen.

This game took me around 35 hours to complete and also to see some of the additional content. So, I think that the price is totally worth it.

One of the last things I want to talk about are the mini-games and the DLC. There is DLC for this game in the forms of alternative customes for the AI assistants in this game. Overall, the additional content is quite cheap but it’s 100% costmetic. If you are a fan of silly alternative customs, they are the right fit for you.

Now, during the game you can unlock eyeballs. With these eyeballs you can purchase the unlocked costmetic items via the bonus menu in the main menu. You can also unlock concept art and other materials. Some of these items even have some easter eggs in them!

What you can buy with these eyeballs depend on your progress in the game. Now, something I really like is how you are unable to unlock everything when you have seen the true ending of this game. You’ll have to go back into the game to go in alternative routes and maybe try the wrong options to have a new evalution. There are in total 40 evaluations to unlock and completing the true ending, I still had 16/40 left to find.

The only dissapointing thing is that there are barely any hints in the game to find these remaining endings. I think it would be a nice feature if you are able to see on which day you can unlock that evalution after you have seen the true ending. This doesn’t take away the challenge of searching for the ending since each day has a lot of content to go through.

There are two “mini-games” in this game. One is a sort of advice room where the AI assistant of the character you are playing as plays a sort of shrink for you as the player. I rarely used this mode apart from it also being the dressing room of the costumes you bought. The combinations you can make with dressing up your AI ball are numerous. I just wish that there was a button to “sync” costumes between them.

Anyways, there is one other mini-game I have to talk about. This is a sort of Tamagochi where depending on how you answer the questions, your tamagochi AI-ball evovles into different AI-balls. Each 20 minutes you get a question. You have four different possible replies. Depending on your replies, a certain stat increases and you can get another creature. Since, it all depends on the stats you increase. You can also unlock a guide when you reach a certain type which can help you unlock all the others. It’s an enjoyable destraction to the game but apart from it being a nice source of eyeballs to purchase costumes, I found that there is nothing really to it. While I can totally see some people enjoying this, I’m not one of those.

Overall, in this article I have mostly praised this game. But, there are a few things that don’t work at all and can be improved in a patch or a sequel. The first big thing is the small font of the option menu. If you play this game in docked mode and sit a meter of two (which is +/- 6 feet), the option screen becomes close to unreadable. Thankfully, there is a zoom feature on the Switch and the top right infobox gives some hints… But still, that menu is too small. If they wanted to keep the same visual design, just make more pages with a bigger font.

A nitpick I have is that when something is added to the file, and it’s in the manual… The green dot is so close to the binder of the manual that you can barely see it. I think changing the color of the manual in the file would have been a great move.

Another nitpick I have is when you go to the bonus section from the main menu, you only see Aiba there. I have never seen the other AI-ball there. I found this a missed oppertunity. It would be kind of fun to have a random chance to see either Aiba or Tama there.

The final thing I dislike about this game is that there is no real run button in this game. You do have a skip button, that’s pretty close to the “auto” button, but you can’t run in explorations. I would even not mind it with having a run button and it costing twice as much time to move around… Since, the walking speed is a bit slow when you are playing again to find the other endings.

So, with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, I think it’s high time to wrap up this article in a nice conclusion so people who are looking at this article to know if this game is any good or not and don’t want to read everything have something to quickly read.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Enjoyable story where you can avoid spoilers of the original.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Creative puzzles.

+ Great controls.

+ …

The bad:

-Some slowdowns/crashes can happen on the Switch version.

-Too small options menu.

-Missed chances with quick time events.

-Some minor issues in terms of polish like one of the mini-games being reachable with a button instead of it being highlighted when scrolling through.

Final thoughts:

To answer the question I posed in my introduction, I think that this game is a worthy sequel to the original game. The game is quite a lot of fun to play and I had a blast playing it. The game has it’s weaker moments but those overall are no big issue compared to the overall package. This sequel can also be a great entry point into the series and there are a lot of winks to veteran fans.

There are some issues for sure and the story has some weaker moments but I might repeat myself but the positive and fun moments far outweigh the negative moments. I enjoyed this game so much when it finally released here in Europe that I even pulled an all nighter during my summer break while playing this game. It’s so much fun.

Thanks to it releasing in my summer break, I have already beaten the game and now I’m looking for the things I missed but so far, it’s one of the best games I have played all year.

Personally, I highly recommend this game to everybody who enjoys adventure and/or visual novel games. This sci-fi thriller story is a blast to play through. This game comes also recommended if you enjoy playing mystery solving games. The original game now has a demo as well on the Switch eShop and if you enjoy that, this game or the original are going to be such an amazing time!

With that said, I really have said everything I wanted to say about this game. 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 welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 90/100

It’s almost there! 2022. It’s TOP 10 TIME!

It’s that time of the year again, it’s time to create lists. For the 11 years I have been blogging right now, I have created a tradition of writing two lists at the end of the year. A list of my favorite games I have played in the past year, and a list of the games I’m most excited about in the upcoming year. Today, it’s time to talk about what I’m so hyped to play next year. Since some amazing titles are coming out next year and I can’t wait to play them and/or review them on my blog. So, this is going to be my top 10 list of games I want to play in 2022. What’s your list? Feel free to leave it in the comment section down below, and let’s see how much better we are going to be playing in 2022.

#10 – Sports Story (Nintendo Switch – TBA)

I’m a huge fan when it comes to playing RPG/adventure games that put a spin on your typical “fight the enemy” or “save the world”. Now, when I learned about this game, I was hyped right away.

The reason I placed it so low on my list is that I’m afraid that a lot of the sports gameplay is going to be rhythm or reflexes based, which are two things that I’m not too good at in games and that might ruin it a bit for me. But, then again, looking at the trailer and the promotional material, this game looks quite promising.

Now, I know that this game doesn’t have a release date set in stone yet, so it might be not for 2022… But hey, if this one comes out in 2022, you can be sure that I’m going to play it!

#9 – Yurukill: The Calumniation Games (Nintendo Switch, June 10th)

I wish I could put this game higher on my list. But, the bullet hell gameplay worries me a bit. I easily get frustrated by bullet hell games, but I still enjoy playing them.

But, this game is an escape game that gives off a lot of Zero Escape and Danganrompa vibes and I love it. Also, it’s being developed by the creators of Death Come True and World’s End Club.

I’m quite curious to see what’s going to become of this game. How much they are going to blend the escape-the-room style of gameplay with bullet hell… It is two very different gameplay styles that don’t fit at all, and this might be crazy enough to work.

And even when I’m afraid that the bullet hell sections might frustrate me, since I’m not that good at them… Still, I want to see the end result. And who knows, maybe by playing this game, I might become interested in bullet hell games… We’ll have to wait and see.

#8 – The Cruel King and the Great Hero (Nintendo Switch, March 31st)

You know that moment when you see a trailer, and you fall in love with the art style, setting, and atmosphere right away? This is one of those games to me.

This game looks like a simple, charming RPG game that’s going to have a coming-of-age story.

At first glance, it might look mediocre and a game you might skip. But I think that would be a shame. Since this game looks adorable and charming, and it reminds me how I fell in love with Fantasy Life on the 3DS. A game can also be charming, enjoyable, and relaxing to be fun. And I’m sure this is going to be one of the games I’m going to play next year to wind down after a long day at work. And that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m looking forward to this game.

You know what, it also reminds me off? Like a storybook game. Where you go from location to location and stories are told to children to teach them life lessons. A bit like the core story concept of Blossom Tales.

#7 – Mario + Rabbids – Sparks of Hope (Nintendo Switch, TBA)

Throughout this year, I have been slowly chipping away at the Mario + Rabbits game. I have been distracted by so many other games, I didn’t finish the original.

But, then out of nowhere in a Nintendo Direct, this game got dropped. And I’m so happy to see this happen. The original game is an amazing mash-up of both worlds, and it would be a shame if it was a one-time spin-off.

And now we are getting a sequel. I feel it’s more than well deserved. The passion and love put into the first game… So, I have some time to finish the first game, so I can dive right into the next game next year. So, I know what I’m going to play right after this article is published.

#6 – Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp (Nintendo Switch, Spring 2022)

The amount of times I wanted to start playing Advance Wars 1/2 or purchase my own copy via a second-hand website, is just crazy. I always wanted to give this series a try after I heard so many amazing things about it from other people I follow and YouTubers I watch.

But, next year is going to be my chance. I’ll be able to play both games and more in the remake. A big turn-based strategy game that started on a handheld that helped shape my childhood, the Game Boy Advance, is going to come to the Nintendo Switch.

And maybe, with a subtitle like “Re-Boot Camp”, it might mean we get an Advance Wars 3… It might be the reboot we are waiting for. So, I’m ready to enter the tanks in the Spring of 2022 and fight alongside Andy and the others.

#5 – The Stanley Parable – Ultra Deluxe (PC – Early 2022)

This game has been delayed since 2019 till early 2022. I honestly think that each and every time, the developers had more ideas and wanted to improve the game even more.

Now, as a writer and a gamer, I’m in love with the concept of the Stanley Parable that turns the story-telling in games on its head. So, the promise of seeing more of this, well, you don’t have to tell me twice.

So, I already wishlisted the game on Steam. The only thing I can do now is wait… Right Stanley? Did I follow the correct path? I think so, I haven’t taken a wrong turn anywhere…

#4 – Kirby And The Forgotten Land (Nintendo Switch, Spring 2022)

The last mainline Kirby game was Kirby Star Allies, way back in 2018. We got two spin-off games in the meantime, but Kirby is going to be back in 2022. And not only that, it’s going to be one of three open-world games from Nintendo in the upcoming year.

Yes, I couldn’t believe my ears. An open-world Kirby game. And yes, one of three. Anyways, I always wanted to play an open-world Kirby game. Well, honestly, I wanted to play a 3D Kirby game where you can explore the whole world.

And with this entry in the Kirby series, my wish came true. We shall be able to explore the forgotten lands and together with Kirby we shall uncover the secrets of the Forgotten Land.

#3 – Pokémon Legends Arceus (Nintendo Switch, January 28th)

I honestly think I don’t have to explain myself why I’m so crazy hyped about this game. It’s what Pokémon fans have been asking, begging GameFreak and Nintendo for years. Ever since the first generations, we always wanted a 3D Pokémon game where you can run around and catch Pokémon. Something more than what the main series is offering. Something where you can explore a world freely and maybe use Pokémon to your advantage.

And Pokémon Legends Arceus promises to deliver that. A sort of Breath of the Wild version of Pokémon. I’m really avoiding all released press materials, so I can go into this game as blind as possible. The only thing I have seen is the initial trailer and I also read the news that new materials have improved the frame rate of the game.

While I’m fully aware that we all have an extremely high bar set for this game… I’m going to play it with an open mind. I’m going to try and silence my critical voice in my head while playing this game and let this game’s atmosphere do the work. Since, I’m also silently hoping that this style of Pokémon will be a spin-off series or maybe… Even more. The next generation of gameplay.

#2 – The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild 2 (Nintendo Switch, TBA 2022)

I’m crossing my fingers so hard that this game doesn’t get another delay. Since, I really want to play this game. It’s the 3rd open-world game scheduled for 2022 by Nintendo, and it’s one of the most anticipated games of Nintendo so far.

While I personally miss the top-down Zelda gameplay and first, I wasn’t too fond of the changes in Breath of the Wild, I have to admit that the game grew on me. It added so much more freedom to explore the unique mechanics and gameplay, instead of some items being under-used.

And from what we have seen from the sequel, this game is going above and beyond. From going through floors, skydiving and rewinding time… Man, the possibilities for puzzles and challenges is just huge. I can’t wait. But, if a delay is needed to polish up the game and/or iron out bugs… I wouldn’t mind a delay but on the other hand…

#1 – AI The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative (Nintendo Switch, Spring 2022)

Creating this list, and especially the top 5 was extremely difficult. There are so many good games coming out in 2022, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to play all the games I want to play.

Now, why did I put this game on top? Well, since I have the feeling that this game is going to be one of my favorite games I’m going to play in 2022.

When I played the original game, I was so impressed and blown away… I mean, it was almost my favorite game of 2019.

I’m a huge fan of Kotaro’s Uchikoshi’s work. Especially after the Zero Escape series, which I tend to quote in real life sometimes. And seeing a new game from him, made me extremely happy.

Which mysteries is this game going to bring? Since, you would think that the original game wrapped up everything with a nice bow on top of it. But nope, our beloved cast of characters is coming back and we are going to have a new adventure. I’m so ready!

Final thoughts

You might have noticed that my whole list is almost only Switch games. That’s because due to my busy personal life and events, I mostly play on my retro consoles or on my Switch. Currently, I have no major interest in buying an XBOX or PS5, since there aren’t enough games for me to justify buying those consoles. The same with PC games, the new PC games don’t grab my interest enough for me to upgrade my setup.

Maybe the ports of God Of War and Uncharted might be the games that make me consider upgrading my setup… But then, you have a sequel to Blossom Tales or Coffee Talk and then I get even less interested in upgrading my setup.

Then again, you have the Vampire: The Masquerade sequel… But that’s also coming out on Switch. And I also keep forgetting that huge pile of retro games I still have backlogged. 2022 will be a big year in gaming and for me personally, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me. So, 2021 is almost over and it’s time to wrap it up in the next article(s) and prepare ourselves for 2022. Since, it’s going to be big.

With that said, I want to thank you so much for reading. 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.

First Impression: G String (PC – Steam) ~ Personal Robots Got Too Real

gstringSteam pageOfficial website of publisher

I won’t blame you if you look at the title of this game and wonder what I’m going to talk about today. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about that sort of adult game and I hope that the SEO won’t bring in that kind of traffic either. Today we are going to talk about a game named “G String” developed Eyaura. This game started life as a Half Life 2 mod just like another game “The Stanley ParableI took a look at in the past. Now, the Stanley Parable is an amazing game in terms of story telling in games so I have high expectations for this game. Is this standalone game going to live up to it’s expectations or is this game going to fail and disappear in SEO-hell with it’s name? Let’s take an 100% honest look at this game with the developer provided press code I got for this game and let’s talk about my opinion. Meanwhile, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Editornal note: The latest patch for this game has been released on December 23th.

Personal Robots Got Too Real

human_waste60040This game is a passion project of the developer Eyaura who worked on this game for the past 13 years. According to the press kit, this game is 10-ish hours long and is a single player Cyberpunk FPS game that aims to envoke the feel of old science fiction films from the ’70 – ’90.

In this game, you take on the role of a young Korean girl named Myo Hyori. After a sudden earthquake, she is able to escape in her standard issue biosuit into the dystopian world. During your exploration, you learn more and more about your missing parents, what happened to the world and the personal robots and much more. 

Due to the nationality of the character, I think this game takes place in Korea. The reason I mention this is because there is voice acting in this game. Dialogue between characters is in English but the suit talks to Myo in another language. I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s in Japanese but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in Korean since the main character is Korean. 

The voice acting is decent and adds a lot to the world building, tension and atmosphere of the game. But, on several occasions, the suit and a character were talking at the same time which made it a bit annoying to follow the voice acting. Thankfully, there are subtitles, so I was able to read what was being said. 

During this adventure, you go through various locations. You also fight various enemies like soldiers and personal robots. You also meet various other characters that all play a vital part in the story. On the store page for this game, there is a beefy “Quick Reference” guide that contains quite a lot of lore and story details. Don’t read that if you want to go in the game blind. Yet, if you enjoyed this game, I would highly advise you to read through this manual and download it to add it to the collection.

Because I haven’t finished the game, I’m not going to talk too in depth about my opinions on the story. But, so far I have been enjoying the story. While I find it a bit cheesy at certain points, it’s still a good enough story to play through the game.

Let’s survive this world

20210118204153_1

So, due to a catastrophic event nicknamed the “Friday Floods”, the world got quite dangerous to life in. So, you need to be careful while exploring in this game that you survive the dangerous surface world. 

While playing this game, I didn’t really know under which style to categorize this game. On one hand, I would call this an action packed survival horror and on the other hand, I would call this a story driven FPS. In the end, I would say it’s more an adventure game with heavy influences of the FPS genre. The best game to compare it too is Half Life in a matter of fact. In that game you also have moments of puzzle solving and moments of action. 

During my playthrough, it was quite clear to me that a lot of love has been put into this game. But, it pains me to say that there are some things that are a bit rough around the edges. A first example is the controls. The controls are great and responsive and are quite quick to learn. But, sometimes they act quite strangely. I especially had problems getting up when I got out of a vent. Sometimes, I was unable to move and I had to jump to get into the right position. Also, ascending and descending on ladders is too fast in my opinion. 

A second example of this game being a bit rough is that there is some cheap enemy placement. Especially those exploding floating balls. Some of them come in the most inconvenient moments when the game is quite tense or you are trying to avoid a sniper shooting at you. Speaking about these snipers, I have seen in a gameplay video that you are able to take them out. I was unaware of that because they barely give any feedback when you hit them. I wonder if I could destroy these turrets, but I highly doubt that since they don’t seem to get damaged when I unload a complete magazine on them. 

So, a great advice from me is to quick save often. Especially after an encounter, since you never know when something happens and you need to load a save. Now, this brings me right to the difficulty of this game as a third example of this game being a bit rough. I started two playthroughs in this game. One on the medium difficult and one of the easy difficulty. Maybe it’s just my playstyle but I barely felt any difference between the two difficulties. Those flying orbs still gave me as much trouble on easy compared to normal. I think that if those flying orbs weren’t an instant kill, it would be a lot better.

Let’s talk about combat. You have two types of enemies. The robots and the soldiers. Only the turret and the soldiers don’t use melee attacks. All the other enemies use melee attacks. You can play this game without firing one bullet to an enemy since you have a fireball attack. Now, to be quite honest, I rarely used this attack since I found it a tad bit tricky to use and I always ran into my stray fireballs and got damage. 

Most of the enemies are quite beefy and require more than one bullet to take out. Rarely I was able to kill an enemy in one shot. Apart from when I got lucky and found some explosive barrels around and use my telekenis powers to throw it at my enemies. The combat is quite enjoyable and if you are a veteran in the shooter genre, I think you will feel right at home here. 

Destruction Of The World

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I don’t really recommend that you play this game with the default visual settings. I highly advise you to play around with the visual settings since otherwise you will have some issues like textures looking a bit rough or the lighting being too harsh. 

It would be a shame since the visual presentation in this game is well done. Of course, you will see some area’s where it gets a bit rough or where it feels like you are playing a game from 2010 instead of 2021, but in my opinion, as long as the presentation of the game sets the right mood without having too much visual glitches or clashing art styles, I think it shouldn’t matter if the game looks like you need the latest graphics card or your old laptop from when you were younger. 

Occasionally I had some moments where I felt that the visuals felt a bit more rushed or unpolished like the rest of the game. But, I didn’t focus on these moments since the charm of the world kept pulling me in and I didn’t stop enjoying this game at all. 

In terms of animations, I was quite impressed. It’s a shame that sometimes small objects like planks do glitch out a bit but that’s more a problem with the engine then the animations. The only thing I feel that would improve in terms of the animations is a bit more visual flair when you are using your telekenic powers. 

At first, I felt that the soundtrack of this game was totally disconnected from the game. I felt that it didn’t match at all. But, when I gave it some thought, I started to understand what the developer was going for. The soundtrack really fits the world before it was destroyed. Now, there are a lot of silent moments in this game that helps with the tense atmosphere but when the music kicks in, you get the feeling that you are destroying the world which gives an even more creepy vibe. 

Let’s go from talking about the soundtrack to talking about the sound effects. The guns feel great to fire and they sound amazing as well. The only thing I would add to the game is a bit more grunts to the enemies since it was a bit jarring sometimes when I entered a room with a lot of enemies that after their first shot started with their grunts. 

In terms of visuals and audio, this game does a lot right but it needs some polishing in some area’s to get the game to the next level. It would improve the game so much if there was a bit more visual polish and if the sound effects gave a bit more hints to the player on how to solve a puzzle or when there are enemies nearby. 

Now, in terms of the visuals, I would like to mention one thing. I think the option & FX UI is somewhat broken. Sometimes I didn’t display the background, sometimes it didn’t even pop-up and sometimes it was a combination of the two. But, I think this something that can be fixed in an update. 

In conclusion, I think that this game is a prefect example of a diamond in the rough. All the elements for this game being amazing are there. But, the rough area’s hold the game back. Thankfully, most of the issues have to do with the lack of polish in some area’s. The issues aren’t game breaking and shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment of the game. Well, unless you feel that jank in games is something you don’t want of course. 

Would I recommend this game? Oh yes, I would recommend this game to everybody who enjoys more story based FPS games like Half Life or Alan Wake. This game is quite enjoyable and for the low price of 14€, I think you get more than your money’s worth out of this game. While the game is a bit rough in some area’s at the moment of writing but the future patches will improve the game quite a lot. 

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

NekoJonez’s Top 10 Games of 2019

my personal top 10 games of 20192019 has been a very special year for me. A lot of things happened in my personal life like job changes. Now, I might have written fewer articles compared to 2018, I still have a top 10 games ready for you! If you haven’t read my top 10 games of the year lists before, let me explain something to you. I’m not that big of a fan on top 10 lists where all the games came out that year because you nearly always get the same games on that list. Besides that, I’m a retro gamer and I play a lot of retro games and I find that those also can be my pick for game of the year. So, that’s why I can pick ANY game for my game of the year. The only rule I had to start playing the game in 2019. Games that I started in 2018 or earlier don’t count. So, I can’t pick games like the Zero Escape since I replayed them with a friend this year because I played those games in the past. So, what games did make my top 10 list and which games didn’t make the list? Let’s find out together! Also, remember that I haven’t played every game that came out and that this list is my opinion. So, if you disagree, feel free to leave a respectful comment. But, in all other cases, also feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games, the list, the content of this article and/or your own list.

Editoral note: Some of the games I have already reviewed, if that’s the case, the link will go to my review or article. If that isn’t the case, the link will take you to a store page.

Number 10: Degree of Separation (Switch) (2019)

degreeofseperationI have only started to play this game at the start of December. But, the mechanics and gameplay made such a big impression on me that I decided to place it on my top 10 games list I played this year. While I know you can play this game as a single-player game, I’m going through the adventure together with a friend. We started to play this game right after we finished Tick Tock: A Tale For Two. We wanted to play another co-op game.

This game is a co-op game where you have to help each other to reach the end of the section. Meanwhile, you have to solve various puzzles to collect scarfs. One player plays as an ice prince and the other player plays as a fire Princess. Both characters have very different abilities that you have to use together to solve the challenges of the game.

The mechanics that there is a separation and a bond between the characters are just amazing. I’m tempted to finish this game in single-player but I’m holding myself back from doing that since it’s such a great game to play with a friend that I want to fully complete the adventure with her. It helps me to create amazing memories with her and I can’t wait to create even more. Speaking of which… one of the other co-op games is one of the honorable mentions.

Number 9: Etrain Odyssey Nexus (3DS) (2019)

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The most likely final entry in the Etrain Odyssey series has been released around my birthday. I’m a huge fan of the series and whenever I have the time, I’m trying to make progress in one of the Etrain Odyssey games I own.

I haven’t gotten around to writing a review or an article about this game just yet, but I’ll make sure that next year will see an article about this game.

Since it’s bittersweet knowing that no new games will come in this amazing franchise. The reason is that the gameplay was created with the DS and the 3DS in mind. On the top screen, you were exploring the brutal dungeons and on the bottom screen, you were creating your very own map.

This game is an amazing finale to the series. It combines all the amazing aspects of all the previous games and it’s a great way to finish the series. Personally, I don’t recommend this game to a newcomer to the series since it might be a bit overwhelming.

On top of that, it’s one of the final big new games on the 3DS. While I’m totally not done with playing games on the 3DS just yet, this swansong feels even more strange because of that. So, thank you Nintendo for the amazing memories with the DS and 3DS. I’m so grateful that you developed this hardware and made it possible that this amazing series got created.

Number 8: My Big Sister (Switch) (2019)

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So, this game is an RPG Maker adventure game created by Stranga. While the gameplay isn’t anything too special since the game isn’t too difficult nor it is it quite long… The game’s story is quite well written.

The charm of this game reminded me a lot of Angels of Death, which was one of my favorite games last year.

The story tells a tale about a special bond that two sisters have while going through some troubling times. It has quite a lot of symbolism and after it was finished, I needed some time to let it all sink in. Recently, I have started one of the other games from this developer and I’m quite enjoying my time with that game as well. So, thank you for this game for introducing me to an amazing indie developer that I’ll be following from now on.

Number 7: Uncharted – The Lost Legacy (PS4) (2017)

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So, I can’t hide the fact that I’m a huge fan of the Tomb Raider series. So, I knew that the Uncharted franchise existed but I have never played any of the games.

Now, a good friend owns almost all of the games and one of the first times I came over her place, we played Uncharted – The Lost Legacy together. She was stuck at a puzzle and I wanted to help her out.

It didn’t take long before I was hooked at this game and I finished the remainder of the game. Not long after that, we went on holiday together and after that, I lent her PS4 for a short while. During that time, I finished the campaign I hadn’t played yet and I knew one thing for certain. That this game will be on my top 10 games of 2019 list.

While I enjoyed the modern Tomb Raider games a little bit more, I still think that the Uncharted games deserve recognition. Now, I can’t wait to start playing the other Uncharted games. So, maybe next year you might see a review or two from other games in the series…

Number 6: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4) (2017)

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Ever since I heard about this game, I wanted to give this game a try. This game looked extremely interesting to me. Now, I don’t own a PS4 but my a friend of mine does.

So, when we saw the base game on sale in our local game store, we bought it right away and started playing it. And I fell in love with the game right away.

The story and atmosphere reminded me to the amazing time I had in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Breath of the Wild.

While I haven’t played a lot of this game, I can’t wait to play more and actually finish this game. It’s one of the best games I have been playing on the PS4 and it made me want to buy my own PS4. If only I had the budget to do that…

So, thank you Horizon Zero Dawn for taking me on a journey that reminds me of two of the best games I have played in the last two years. I can’t wait to see where the adventure is going to take me next since the world is calling me back in.

Number 5: Ion Fury (PC) (2019)

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If you look through my blog, I’m quite a big fan of retro titles. When one of my favorite YouTubers introduced me to this game, I was quite interested.

Yes, I bought the game right after watching that review and I was unable to put the game down for a few weeks. It was almost the only game that I played during that time. The old school shooter games were back in business!

Now, the game gets frequent updates that add improvements and even new content. So, that’s why I’m currently putting this game a bit on hold. I’m going to give this game another shot really soon to see what has been changed and try to beat this game again and find even more secrets. And I’m also thinking to dip my feet into the mods that the community is creating for this game since I have seen some interesting things that might make this game even more enjoyable.

Number 4: Bloodstained – Ritual of the Night (Switch) (2019)

H2x1_NSwitch_BloodstainedRitualOfTheNight_image1600wYes, yes,  I haven’t played the best version of this game. I know that the other versions have a better performance. But, honestly, I still think that this game is a blast to play.

I really missed playing a great Metroidvania game ever since I had beaten Monster Tale on the DS.

And this game just exceeded my expectations. I was really worried that this game would crash and burn like Mighty Number 9. But thankfully, this Kickstarter game delivered on its promises and turned out great.

I have talked more in-depth about this game in my review, so when you want to know more, I advise you to read that article. Currently, I’m considering if I should start over or not since a big patch is coming soon to the Nintendo Switch version. Now, that’s up to me to decide when the patch comes out in a few weeks.

Number 3: Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch) (2019)

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Well, well, well. Here is a surprise. One of my most anticipated games of 2019 is only number 3 in my Top 10 games of 2019 list.

After I had beaten the original game last year, I was really hyped for the sequel. I was waiting to see a release date appear on various outlets and when it got announced, I pre-ordered it right away through my favorite local game store.

The game didn’t disappoint at all. It was an extremely enjoyable ride from start to finish. While I still have a ton of postgame content left to do, I’m currently on a break from this game. I have spent over 100 hours in this game, so yeah…

Now, I have been playing this game with friends as well and while the multiplayer is somewhat limited, it’s quite a lot of fun. Maybe one of these days I might return to this game with her and start playing the post-game content and improving my Ilse of Awakening even more to have a better-looking island. Since now it’s a huge construction zone…

Number 2: AI – The Somnium Files (Switch) (2019)

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This game came out of nowhere for me. After the amazing Zero Escape series, I didn’t expect that Kotaro Uchikoshi was writing a new horror-themed visual novel game with its own unique twist.

So, I was counting down until the release date hit and I even patiently waited until I could start this game with a good friend of mine since she is a big fan of Kotaro’s work as well since we had beaten the Zero Escape series together this summer. Well, she finished the games since I was replaying them with her.

When the game started, we noticed all the little nods to his previous work. The subtle references in the story and the sound effects being reused. It was an amazing feeling.

At first, the story was a bit mediocre. But, then a sudden plot twist changed everything. That friend wasn’t interested in the game after a few play sessions but when I told her the twists the game took, she wanted to see them.

I remember the time we finished the game during my week off in November. A few times, I had to put the controller down because the story just blew my mind. It’s an amazingly written story if you let yourself get drawn into it. Now, a ton of people argues that it’s not his best work. I see where they are coming from, but that doesn’t mean that the story in this game is bad at all.

The issue is that when you know Kotaro’s style of revealing plot details and that even small details mean quite a lot, you can see some twists coming from a mile away. But, it didn’t bother me that much. The suspense then is, how are the characters going to find out the truth you knew all along. And that’s where this game shines in the story department. If only this game didn’t wrap up the story so nicely, then we might have some sequel potential. The whole dream concept of this game and the gameplay is just amazing. But, I’m equally as hyped for the next games of Kotaro. Keep on creating my dude! I fell in love with your games since the Zero Escape series and now I want to play even more games from you and your team.

Honorable mentions

Before I reveal my number 1 of this year, my game of the year if you will… I think it’s time we talk about honorable mentions. Games that I loved playing this year but didn’t make the top 10 for some reason. Also, keep in mind that this isn’t a complete list of games that I played this year that fit the rules of this top 10 but it’s more a list of games that I want to mention that fit the rules but didn’t make the top 10.

Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes (Switch), Fire Emblem – Three Houses (Switch), Resident Evil 7 (PC), Silence (PS4), Peggle 2 (XBOX360), Halo 3 (XBOX360), Call of Duty – World At War (XBOX360), Resident Evil 1 (PS1), Life is Strange (PS4), Adera (PC), Chrono Trigger (Android), Forager (Switch), The Legend of Zelda – Links Awakening (Switch), Wii Sports Resorts (Wii), Mario + Rabbits: Kingdom Battles (Switch), Atlantis (PC), Pokémon Sword & Shield (Switch), 2048 – Read Only Memories (Switch), WarioWare Gold (3DS) and Asterix and Obelix – XXL 2 (PS2).

Man, I do have to say that choosing my top 5 this year was extremely difficult. Usually, I start putting this list together by either late October or early November. I have a text file with the games and I change the order around in November and December and add games I really enjoyed during those two months if that is needed. I start writing the article in middle December and I finalize the article in the last week of the year. So, this article went through a ton of revisions.

Last year, it was an extremely easy decision which game should be number 1. This year, I had to choose between 5 games I enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s quite possible that I want to change the order around the top 5 in 2020. But, I’m not going to change the order around in this article, after a lot of careful consideration, I decided which game should be my number 1. And I’ll explain why right now:

Number 1: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) (2019)

81EBL2k3XTL._AC_SL1500_So, why is this game my game of the year? Out of all the games I could have chosen, why did I choose a rather niche Japanese horror visual novel adventure game. Well, let me explain. One of the big reasons is the story. The story is about a guy taking care of his sister. Well, technically, she isn’t his sister but his niece. But, she addresses him as “big brother” so I think it counts. I care a lot about my younger sister. So, the story spoke to me emotionally.

Both my numbers 2 and 1 have amazing stories in my opinion. But, the story is one of the reasons that made my decision. My 2nd reason for picking this game as my game of the year is simple. The different endings are just amazing. There is a chance that there is going to be a sequel to this game and I’m really curious which ending the 3rd game will take to build upon. The good or the bad ending, since both have amazing story potential to continue the franchise.

I’m crossing my fingers that the crowdfunding campaign is going to be successful for the next entry in the series. At the time of writing, it’s extremely close to its goal. More information about the sequel can be read in this Siliconera’s writeup.

So yeah, this game didn’t only improve on the mechanics of the previous game Death Mark, it blew that game out of the water. Sadly enough, the performance issues on some platforms kept the game a bit back, but those were quickly fixed by the developer. Thank you Experience for this amazing game, the amazing experience. If only I could understand Japanese so I could play your other games. Then again, most of your games got localized, so I know which studio I’m going to keep an eye on next year.

Conclusion

Like I said before, this article was extremely difficult to write. It was extremely difficult to choose between NG, AI, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Ion Fury and Bloodstained. These 5 games were the most memorable games for me this year.

Now, this list underwent a ton of changes. I have looked to the number of revisions in my Dropbox of the draft document of this article and I have around 20 revisions where either the order of the games changed or I swapped out a game from the top 10 for another one.

So, most of the games I played in 2019 took me on an amazing story journey. Almost half of the games on this list, I fell in love with the story and/or the world of the game. And some games even pulled some emotional strings.

I can’t wait to see what 2020 is going to bring and what games I’m going to play. I have seen a lot of games that I’m looking forward to playing next year but lately, I’m finishing a lot of games that I started. Mostly because I’m enjoying my collection quite a lot.

Anyways, thank you for taking the time out of your day to take a look back at 2019 with me. I’m quite curious about what you people think about the games I have chosen for this year’s list. Do you agree or disagree with my list? I would love to hear it in the comments.

Thank you for all the support for my blog in 2019. Due to a lot of personal things going on, I haven’t written a lot of articles but I feel that the quality of my writing improved quite a lot. I can’t wait to keep on writing and improve my skills and entertain you guys and girls with new content.

Before I write my usual ending phrases, I have a question for you, the reader. What games or series did you discover through my blog this year or in the past? I’m really curious about that. Anyways, here is the usual ending of my articles:

Now, 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!

First Impressions: AI – The Somnium Files (Switch) ~ Kotaro Uchikoshi Is At It Again.

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Official website

One of my favorite horror series is the Zero Escape series. I have reviewed every game here on my blog. I have played through all of these games again this year since I introduced the series to a good friend. When I’m reviewing adventure games or visual novels, I often find myself referencing 999, Virtue’s Last Reward or Zero Time Dilemma. Now, sadly enough this trilogy of games has ended with Zero Time Dilemma. Now, last month I learned that the director and main writer of the series were finishing development on a new game. Ai: The Somnium Files. When I saw Kotaro Uchikoshi’s name in the promotion material, I got extremely hyped. I honestly pre-ordered the game right away. Now, do I regret that pre-order or was it worth it? I’m going to give you an answer to that question in the form of this first impression review of the game. And before I start, I always say: feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game itself.

Date and Aiba

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In this game, you play as special agent Date who is investigating a gruesome murder. Now, this is unlike any detective game because Date has a special ability. His left eye is quite special. In this left eye, an AI lives. This AI is called Aiba and helps Date to make phone calls, access databases, x-ray vision, zooming and so much more. On top of that, Date can explore people’s somnium, which is created by their dreams. These dreams can help in the investigation whenever you need to get information out of a witness that refuses to give testimony.

The story is quite complex and takes a lot of twists and turns. Like the previous games that Uchikoshi worked on, this game has branching paths as well. Depending on certain actions you take during the somnium exploration, the story can go in very different directions. Now, I have already seen one ending of the game and it even got me a bit emotional while playing it. The writing and pacing of this game are wonderful. While there is some dry and lame humor in this game, the actual jokes work quite well and made me laugh out loud more than once.

I’m leaving quite a lot of details on the story out on purpose since this game is better experienced without a lot of knowledge of the story. Go in this game as blind as possible. Since the twists are better without knowing them in advance. Which honestly, speaks for itself don’t you think? Now, something that I quite liked is the various nods to the Zero Escape series. Certain sound effects and visual cues come from or are heavily inspired by the Zero Escape series.

Now, before I talk more about that comparison, I want to talk about the voice acting. While you can play through this game with the original Japanese cast, I’m playing through this game with the English voice actors and I have to say that the dub of this game is amazing. The cast has been cast quite well. Maybe I might be a bit biased since I’m heavily invested in the story and now I’m quite used to the voice work of the voice actors.

He is at it again

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The gameplay in this visual novel is quite varied. This isn’t a visual novel where just choosing between a few options makes the difference. In this visual novel, there are various puzzles to solve and dialogue trees to explore. The first gameplay type is simply one where you explore a location. This can be a crime scene or the house of a suspect. In these scenes, the Date doesn’t move around. You explore your surroundings to find various clues and leads. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, whenever the text turns green whenever you move over the cursor over something, that means that there is still some interaction to be done. If the text turns gray, you have done every possible interaction.

So you go through various dialogue trees where you get new information. Whenever you missed something, you can quickly bring up the log and replay the voice clips. Something that I found a bit missing, is a sort of summary of the events that happened. Since very different things happen in the story depending on the path you take. So, a quick summary of past events might be helpful. Especially since there are character bios and a word list where various terms are explained.

Speaking of these character bios and terms, these are handled amazingly. The various hidden jokes and references add so much to the atmosphere of the game. Especially the way how some explanations are written, it’s almost like writers are talking to the player directly. Sometimes even saying that if you want more information that you “have to look it up on the internet.” And as an IT guy, I found the binary joke in one of the character profiles an extremely nice touch.

Now, the exploration in this game is quite limited and somewhat linear. While you can choose which location you visit first, it doesn’t make a difference in the story if you go in order or out of order. So, this is quite linear. Now, the dream sequences are something completely different. Now, if you played any game in the Zero Escape series, you will quickly get used to these sections. These dream puzzles are the escape rooms of this game, but the big difference is that you can move in the whole area.

If you compare the gameplay of this game with any game in the Zero Escape series, I have to compliment this game for improving the dialogue sections of the game. The dialogue and story sections are more involved now and you can choose in which order you experience it. This makes the game more accessible and doesn’t dump a lot of text and story on you all at once.

That said, now the dream sequences and puzzles are a blast to play through. Some of them are a tad bit too easily to my liking, but the later puzzles more than makeup for it. For one puzzle, I even considered using a walkthrough but after a lot of trial and error, I figured it out and it gave me such an amazing feeling.

In each puzzle, you have to unlock various mental locks. You can do this by exploring and interacting with the dream. Because you are exploring a dream, extremely strange things can happen. So, you have to make sure you understand why and what is going wrong. There is a catch, you have 6 minutes to solve the whole puzzle. If you don’t, you get a game over. You can use 3 tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. If you go back one checkpoint, you use one token. If you go back two checkpoints, you use 2 tokens.

Now, you have to plan your actions right since each action uses a certain amount of time. With some actions, you earn special bonuses that can increase or decrease the used time in the game. It’s very important that you plan ahead and that you are sure of the option you pick. Now, whenever you are standing still, your clock ticks down slower than when you are moving. Take this time to plan out your moves and make sure you aren’t losing time by walking in the wrong direction.

This whole mechanic gives the game a very tense atmosphere. Am I going to have enough time to crack the other mental locks or have I lost too much time in the previous sections? Sometimes it’s better to restart the whole puzzle instead of using your tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. Now, you can also use these tokens during gameplay. The time you had on the clock is the time you have when you return to that checkpoint. You get 3 tokens for each puzzle and they reset whenever you restart the whole puzzle.

I was pretty interested in the game whenever I saw the teaser trailer, but the gameplay is not disappointing me at all. It’s one of the best games I have played this year. And to be honest, if the quality of the game keeps up during the rest of the game, I think there are big chances that this game might be my Game Of The Year. And yes, maybe my bias towards the author and director of this game might have some to do with it, but you still have to deliver a great product and gameplay and story-wise, I think they more than succeed here.

Pretty and funny

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Visually, this game looks amazing. The detail in the character models and the environment are just amazing. Compared to Zero Time Dilemma, the animation work got a huge overhaul. The character portraits are no longer static, they have the same animation as the actual characters on screen. That way you can still see their animations whenever you missed their animations because you were looking around.

The little details in the animations are mindblowing. For example, there was a scene where a teacher was talking about a student and when she was talking about the student, her head actually moved towards the student itself and the student broke her idle animation and looked at her teacher. These things might be small moments but are moments that give just that bit of extra flavor and atmosphere to the game.

On top of that, the audiovisual presentation of this game is equally as good as the animation. Some parts of the soundtrack reminded me of a lot of the music that’s used in the Zero Escape series. Now, there are some sound effects that are exactly the same from the Zero Escape series like the save sound and some other sound effects. If it’s intentional, I found it a great easter egg for people who played the previous games. Now, it’s also quite possible that they used the same sound library to save some development money and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Surprisingly, the composer of this game also wrote the music for BloodStained and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games on (3)DS. The Zero Escape series’ soundtracks were composed by Shinji Hosoe who wrote music for Fate/Extra and Tekken 6. The composer of this game is Keisuke Ito and he did an amazing job with his team to create this soundtrack.

One of the biggest shames of this game is the fact that sometimes those games have some stuttering or some major slowdowns during gameplay. Thankfully these don’t have that often and it only affects the Visuals and not music nor the voice acting. Most of these slowdowns happen during dialogues or when a lot of animation is playing. On these moments, the fan of my Switch didn’t blast me away like in Dragon Quest Builders 2.

If I’m allowed to nitpick just a minor bit, I can’t remember exactly where but there are just 1 or 2 lines that aren’t voice acted. These are very short lines and if you are just following the story, you might not even notice them. I clearly remember that one of these lines was said by Date somewhere in the first few sections of the story. I think it was in a conversation between Boss, Aiba, and Date. But given the whole script of this game, just one or two missed lines is something that isn’t THAT bad and can be easily looked over.

This game has only one difficulty level. The overall difficulty of this game is quite well done, the difficulty scaling is very well done. Some puzzles require some trial and error but once it clicks, the whole thing makes sense. The biggest challenge is in the exploration of the dreams since you need to think fast and think about the time limit.

The controls of this game are almost perfect. The only thing that’s missing is touchscreen controls. But hey, that’s huge nitpick since the controls are quite responsive and easily mastered. Thanks to the amazing UI, I can find any negatives about the controls and UI. Apart from maybe one minor thing. I find the text in the word list and character bios a little bit too small to read when I’m playing in docked mode and when I’m sitting a bit too far away from the screen. All the other text can be read just fine, apart from that part.

I’m also forgetting to talk about something quite important and that’s the save system. While there is an autosave system present in the game, you also have three save slots you can use. Thanks to these three save slots, I’m able to continue to play the game by myself but also save at the point me left off so I could pick up the game right where I left off when I played it for the next time.

Now there is some minor replay value when you want to unlock everything. During each Somnium, there is an eye hidden that when collected and finished the Somnium without failing; you unlock additional concept art. These are quite fun to watch and a great reward for people who explore the game to the smallest detail.

Now, this review is already getting extremely long for a first impression. It’s quite clear what I’m thinking of this game. I think it’s high time to wrap this first impression up. This game comes highly recommend to everybody who enjoys adventure games, puzzle games, mystery games, visual novel games and games like the Zero Escape series. This game is one of the best games I have played in 2019 and I can’t wait to see how this game ends. Apart from some minor flaws like the slowdowns, this game is in my eyes as good as perfect. It’s such a shame that this game doesn’t get the publicity that it deserves. I hope that with this article more people give this game a try and give it the audience it deserves. 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.

One minor side note, this game is also on PS4 and PC.

Publishing: The Evolution of AI in movies Infographic

AIinfographic.jpg

If you want to read more and know more about the authors of this infographic, you can visit their site at https://enlightened-digital.com/ai-goes-to-the-movies-a-history-of-artificial-intelligence-in-film/