Review: Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ A Building Quest

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Wikipedia entry

How would I explain Dragon Quest Builders? Should I say that it’s a Minecraft clone with quests? A more interactive version of Minecraft Story Mode? Or should I say it’s a Dragon Quest game with elements of Minecraft? In any case, I mentioned this game in my “10 games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018.” article last year. Now that I have finally beaten this game, I want to talk about it, give my honest opinion on it. I played this game on the Nintendo Switch and let’s take a look at why I looked forward to Dragon Quest Builders and if it held up my expectations. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion and/or thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article.

 A Building Quest

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The story of this game takes place after Dragon Quest I. Yes, the NES original game. The world of Alefgard. But this time, the hero of Dragon Quest I actually accepted the evil DragonLord’s suggestion of ruling beside him. So, the world falls into chaos and darkness.

You are woken up by the Goddess to help rebuild the land and only the land. The Goddess reminds you frequently that it’s not your job to defeat the evil Dragonlord. Now, will this legendary builder be able to rebuild this land and fill his role or will this builder want to do more?

The writing in this game is amazing. It’s so full of character, charm, and humor. There is a lot of text in this game and there is no voice acting. This could be a problem for some, but not to me. Something I really love is that each world you help to rebuild has a different theme and different style of writing. The story itself might be generic and you might be able to predict the ending, but the presentation and how it’s delivered excuses that negative in my eyes. I got attached to some characters and when I had to move to the next world to save, I almost didn’t want too. I didn’t want to leave the people I just got to know and build this city with.

The more you read the story, the more the world gets fleshed out. You learn a lot of details about every character you meet. Your goal is to rebuild the land, and you do this with the Banner of Hope. You place this banner at the ruins of a city destroyed by the evil Dragonlord. The light that’s produced by the Banner of Hope attracts people and they will arrive to help you out in rebuilding the city.

Now, there is one catch. You are called the Legendary Builder for a reason. One of the reasons is that you aren’t the Legendary Hero that is going to take down the evil Dragonlord. The other reason is that you are the only one who remembers to create things.

So, when you are exploring the world and find new objects, you sometimes get a recipe or remember how to build a certain object. Sometimes you get blueprints for your town residents to build a certain room for them. This is one of the building quests you have to do to progress in the story.

There is some sort of replay value in this game as well. As a test, I replayed the first chapter twice from start to finish. While I finished the world quicker the second time, my city looked completely different. So, I had a different fun experience.

Where to next?

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Now, to progress into the story, you take on quests of your villagers. There are two types of symbols. One has a quest and the other is a symbol that enemies are going to attack your city. I’ll talk more about the combat later.

So, when you take on a quest, you have to rescue somebody out from the wilderness, defeat some monsters or create a certain room or object. If you have to go outside the city, a quest marker will be placed on your map.

The map system is something I truly liked in this game. You never have an overall map of the world you are in. You can only have an overhead view of your area. There is always a white flag and an arrow showing you the direction of your town. While each area you can visit is big, I never got lost.

Yes, each area. When you beat certain waves of monsters attacking your city, you might be rewarded with a portal. This portal brings you to another area. Something I really like is that the world is interconnected. If you go to the edge of the world, you might be able to see the next area. There is an invisible barrier, a strange force, that’s stopping you to build a bridge over the ocean to sequence break. (For those who don’t know what that sequence breaking means, it means doing things out of order. Breaking the intended sequence of events.)

If you visit an area where your town isn’t located, you are able to pick up a Navi-globe. When you place this object, you get another marker on your map. So, what I did is the place this marker at portal back home or at the location of a sidequest. In total, each world has three globes you can move to whatever location you want.

So, you can explore the large worlds at your leisure. Trying to find all the side quests and collecting as many resources as you can. I loved running around in the worlds since the visual presentation of this game is amazing. My favorite world was the final 4th one. I loved the conclusion of this game.

Visually, this game looks and feels like a real Dragon Quest game. While I was playing this game I often had memories of playing Dragon Quest on my PS2, DS, and 3DS in the past. There are a lot of easter eggs in this game to the earlier games. The animations of this game added quite a lot of the visual presentation. I didn’t find anything that felt out of place. The only “creepy” thing is that when you are talking to somebody, other characters could move. And villagers almost always turn their head in your direction when they are close to you.

I felt at home while playing this game. This might have to do with my love of Minecraft, but also with it playing on my nostalgic love for gaming. The best example is the soundtrack. The soundtrack of this game has no real original tunes in it. The soundtrack of this game is completely orchestrated and it is all tunes you heard before in the Dragon Quest universe. It’s like a “best of” album. Oh, and there is a music easter egg in the game for you will enjoy if you like retro gaming or the old school Dragon Quest games.

While this game has no voice acting, the sound effects in this game are good. Most of them I have heard in previous Dragon Quest games, so nothing new there. but they work pretty well. The only voice acting I have heard in this game is the sleeping, damage, and death sounds of the main characters. Which are pretty great.

Now, exploring the worlds is pretty fun. The controls of the game are a joy to work when you get used to them. And I got used to them pretty quickly. The only annoying thing is that the camera can be annoying sometimes.

I had to struggle with the camera here and there. Especially when you are in small rooms or areas. I had such infrequent issues with it, it didn’t bother me too much. But, I heard from other reviewers that it caused problems when you wanted to create a very detailed city. Since I’m not really a builder but more of a resource gathering and explorer, I didn’t experience that much camera-issues.

Speaking about camera-issues, I think I should mention this. This game runs on a quite stable 30FPS on the Switch. While I didn’t have an issue with that, I think this might be an issue for some people. So I wanted to mention it.

Just press the button

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My biggest issue with this game is elsewhere. I had a problem with the combat. The combat in this game is pretty stale. You are only able to create short ranged weapons. The situations where you can create a long-range weapon are pretty rare. The biggest issue with the combat is just what the subtitle said, it’s just pressing the button. There aren’t a lot of enemies that require a different strategy than to run at them, hit the attack button until they are dead. Sometimes you had to back up and use a healing item, but really, there isn’t any more strategy than that.

It gets even worse when your villagers are helping you in fighting enemies. I had times where I wasn’t able to see my own character. Thankfully, you are able to create your own character and playing around with the colors to make it stand out more helps a lot.

Thankfully, combat isn’t the main focus in this game. There was a mission in the 2nd world that got pretty difficult but it really helped me to understand the flow of the combat in this game. And after trying that wave for 5 times, combat just clicked for me. I got the flow of combat and I never got any major issues with the enemies in this game.

That’s why I haven’t seen the game over screen too much. When you die during exploring the world, you lose a part of your inventory. Just like in Minecraft, your items drop at the location you died. Unlike Minecraft, items never despawn.

If you die during a combat mission where you are defending your city, you can restart the fight or go back to a save. Speaking about saves, you can only save using the Banner of Hope. You have five save slots per world. I highly recommend that you save often since this game doesn’t autosave.

Whenever I saw the symbol that enemies were going to attack my city, I saved. Sometimes after a couple of quests, I saved. Now, here is a fair warning for the gamers who like to build and decorate your city who want to play this game, use the save system to your advantage. Since some enemies can destroy buildings. I admit to restarting some battles because too much of my city was destroyed. Thankfully, you don’t have to go look for new materials, since everything dropped on the floor, but I wanted to avoid the damage. So, it’s a good idea to defeat those enemies first. When you learn the patterns of the enemies, you won’t have such a hard time.

Speaking about that, this game isn’t too difficult. If you keep an eye out on your supplies during combat and learn what makes each enemy tick, you won’t have too many problems with this game. The game does provide you with various challenges but I rarely had trouble. A great tip I can give you is, that whenever you are using a healing item; stay out of range of your enemy. Since an attack cancels out the healing or when you are using the chimaera wing: the teleporting. Oh, and these wings also teleport the people who just are traveling with you.

If you always craft the strongest armor and weapons, you won’t have any issues. The weapons I loved the most in this game are the hammers. It didn’t only help in building, but it was really strong. So, if you want to make this game more difficult on yourself, just explore with weaker gear.

In addition to that, each world has a different challenge. In one world you won’t find a lot of food and in another, the enemies provide a big threat. The learning curve of this game is perfect. You learn a different skill in each world and everything comes together in the final world. The final boss tests everything you learned until that point.

Speaking about the boss battles, they are pretty good. There wasn’t any boss battle I didn’t enjoy or that I wanted to see changed. The weakest is the 2nd boss since I felt it didn’t have enough connection with the theme of that world.

One feature I really like in this game is the Big Cossal Coffer. This chest works like an ender chest in Minecraft. Sort-of. When you place it down, your inventory space gets a lot bigger. but here is the amazing thing. You can take out and put things in where ever you are in the world. I have to admit that this mechanic helped me a lot.

Now, I have mostly been praising this game. Is there anything negative I can say about this game? The game does a lot well, each world has 5 additional side quests. These side quests are only revealed when you finish the world.

So, what is something negative I can say about this game? I could nitpick about the crafting system could use a feature where you choose how many times you want to create an item. It’s one or all. Yet, I think the crafting system has an amazing feature where you don’t need to have the items in your inventory to craft the items. If they are in a chest or your coffer in your city, you can use it to craft items. So, you don’t have to look through every chest when you want to craft something.

Another thing is that I was unable to create a certain block in the final world to finish the roof of my castle. While I was researching if there was a recipe for this block, I learned it was one of the blocks that your villagers could create. Mine didn’t, sadly enough. Yet, the fact that villagers create items for you is extremely helpful. Especially when you build them a place to create food. Something that would be lovely is that you were able to assign tasks to your villagers, so who does what… but then again, you don’t lose any items while they craft for you.

Earlier I said that this game has only 4 worlds. You might say that the game is short. And yes, the story of this game was over too quickly in my opinion. Yet, when you do all the side quests and you want to completely explore the world, you can spend a lot more time with this game. And let’s not forget the free roaming mode where you can even share your creations with other players. I haven’t finished the free-roaming world, so there is still some fun to be had with this game for me.

Something that annoyed me was that when you were building blueprints, you had to start with open space and use only the blocks that the blueprint has. So, if you use wood instead of dirt for the wall, the quest won’t register as finished. Yet, nothing stops you from changing the blocks after you have finished the quest.

Another irritation with this game is that very occasionally, I was unable to have my room recognize as a room. Especially when I dug into the walls to try and escape enemies and use the sleeping mechanic to fully heal. Yet, waiting out the night to heal wasn’t too bad when this happened. Besides, the times that this happened I can count on one hand. So, it’s not that big of an issue.

Something that I sometimes wished is that I was able to farm certain blocks. Especially flowers or ivy. And the only reason for that is that I was too lazy to explore the world if check if I have forgotten to pick it up.

The only thing that I really disliked, and didn’t have a positive thing to balance it, was that some resources are extremely limited or hard to get. But then again, I only had an issue with this in the last world just before the final battle. So, yeah.

This game really hooked me. The sequel to this game looks extremely promising. There are a lot of features added that would be amazing in the original. So, I’m quite excited about that.

The only big negative I can about this game is that it isn’t released on PC or other platforms. I think that this game can get some popular when it’s released on PC and other platforms. Then again, I’m glad that this game got ported to the Switch, since trying to find a PS Vita nowadays isn’t the easiest of tasks.

Phew, that was a lot. Truth to be told, I haven’t talked about everything but I wanted to leave some things as a surprise for you guys. But I think it’s time for a conclusion in this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-The camera can be pretty annoying sometimes.

-The combat can be quite bland.

Positives:

+ Great writing and story.

+ Amazing controls.

+ Great visuals.

+ Exploring various vast worlds.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I’m so glad that I played this game. If you have a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, you owe it yourself to pick up this game and play it. Even if you aren’t a fan of Dragon Quest/RPG’s or Minecraft, this game is a lot of fun. If you truly dislike both, then I would recommend you to skip this game.

I had high expectations and hopes when I started to play this game and this game didn’t disappoint at all. There were some things that I didn’t like, but it rarely hindered the enjoyment I had with this game.

Each time I got defeated by some monsters or a boss, I got another attempt in trying to defeat them. Not only that, I felt I was drawn into the world and enjoyed the game from the start to the end.

After finishing this game, I really want to play the sequel. Until then, I think I’ll keep playing this game since every time I boot it up, I find something new to do or to improve in one of my 5 towns. Including my Free Roaming one.

I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m currently trying to finish all the side quests I haven’t done yet and experimenting with Free Roaming. I just hope I won’t run into trouble with that when the Switch Online service launches in a month.

I’m curious to hear your stories about this game in the comment section down below. And if you pick up this game, feel free to tweet me a picture of your cities or your adventures to my Twitter: @NekoJonez.

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

Score: 100/100

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Publishing: “Ship of Heroes” Successfully Completes First Combat Alpha

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First combat Alpha demonstrates successful game integration, delivers fun gameplay experience for real players.

State College, March 1, 2018 – Heroic Games announced the successful start of Alpha testing for the combat systems of Ship of Heroes, by enabling mixed teams of developers and supporters to fight three enemy groups in Apotheosis City.  Video highlights from the Alpha can be seen here.

“We’ve taken several teams through the combat Alpha, and we’ve been delighted to find that the players loved the gameplay,” Casey McGeever, CEO of Heroic Games, explained.  “They have also given us a list of improvements they’d like to see, and we’re hoping to expand that list with feedback from our forums.”

Heroic Games reports that the combat Alpha uses all of the elements they’ve been showing to the world for the last 14 months, including their signature heroes, the Apotheosis City environment, their offensive powers and powersets, enemies, UI, AI, and several other gameplay features, all of which are integrated into the Alpha version of the game.

“I’ve been following Ship of Heroes on my channel for a while and I was so hyped to be among the first to go on a Combat Alpha Run,” Brandon Cooper, gaming video blogger “Positive Gamer” said. “”As a previous City of Heroes player I am beyond excited to let you know that I finally felt at home again. Even in this development stage of the game it felt so good to flex my super hero muscles once again! There are many super hero MMO’s on the horizon, but I’ll be playing Ship of Heroes.”

This is the second Alpha test for Ship of Heroes, following the successful demo of their character creation tool (CCT) last September and October.  The devs report that they are working on an upgraded version of the CCT, which they plan to preview later in 2018, incorporating ideas from their supporters.  The same process will be employed with the combat mechanics shown in the current Alpha.  “We are developing Ship of Heroes with continuous feedback from the community, and getting feedback has been a key goal of this Alpha,” McGeever said. “We now have real supporters, not just devs, using the signature characters we made in our CCT, in our city.  We’re running a client/server arrangement with players from two continents, no lag, and high FPS, fighting and winning and getting dust and loot.  That’s not just an Alpha, that’s a very advanced and successful Alpha.”

The enemies shown in the Alpha highlights footage were all introduced earlier in the game’s development, but now they have new and interesting powers.  Each enemy group favors different tactics, and needs to be fought differently in order to win.

“We’ll be conducting additional Alpha tests during 2018.  We want to try some kind of raid test, and we also want to return to the CCT for another round of feedback and improvements.  We want to see about larger tests, with more participants, to help us assess the practical numbers of characters we can have in an instance of Apotheosis City during normal gameplay,” McGeever added.  “We’ve made a lot of progress so far, in just under two years, and we hope that this continues to be the case.  A Beta is scheduled for the end of 2018, but that does depend on the results of the intermediate Alphas.”

The Ship of Heroes team, which includes both volunteers and professional game developers, has a very good record of expanding SoH on a reliable schedule.  A growing body of gameplay videos can now be viewed on the MMORPG’s YouTube channel.  To get the latest news and influence the development of Ship of Heroes, register on their official forums.

About Ship of Heroes

Ship of Heroes is a new superhero MMORPG that combines the best elements of space and hero games aboard a generation ship traveling the galaxy 500 years in the future.  Ship of Heroes will have both PVE and PVP content, along with complex harvesting, crafting, trading, and combat features.  The game promises a family-friendly environment, along with an innovative storyline that allows players to explore the gigantic generation ship, join raids and counter-raids against alien ships, and land on multiple worlds as the Justice moves through space.  The developers began work on the title just seventeen months ago, and are hitting a very rapid development schedule; Heroic Games has already shown an impressive amount of high-quality in-game content, especially for a pre-Alpha MMO.  Visit us here.

About Heroic Games, Inc.

Heroic Games Corporation is a State College, Pennsylvania-based independent developer and publisher of cutting-edge Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs).  The firm is currently focusing on the development of a single title, Ship of Heroes, which was announced in November of 2016.

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

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

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

Signs of things to come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing combat & polish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRAGONS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Official website

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

Scared-y cat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snap those ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Halo – Combat Evolved (PC) ~ Not On The HaloBox

Halo-Combat-Evolved-Cover-Art-wallpaper.jpgWikipedia entry

If you would ask my friends and old class mates what the best shooter is, they would reply with a game out of the Call Of Duty series. But for me, that was Halo. That changed when I played the Bioshock series. I have already talked about the Bioshock series, so it’s time to talk about the original Halo game. The game that started this whole franchise. One series I can’t finish sadly since I don’t have a XBOX or XBOX ONE. So, I have only played this entry and the sequel. In any case, enough introduction! Time to talk about the actual game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the content of this article and or the game in the comment section down below. 

Cortana

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In this game, you play as a very iconic character in the video gaming world. The name is Master Chief. So, you get woken up from your slumber and go through some basic tutorials before your ship gets attacked.

You crash land on Halo. And things happen from there. The story isn’t that much present in the game. But, that’s because the game is only 10 hours long. The base game is really short, but it’s a whole lot of fun to play through. But don’t worry, if you don’t have enough Halo, you can either go and play the multiplayer or download one of several single player campaigns made by fans.

In addition to that, Bungie released in 2004 a special version of Halo with mapping and modding tools. Called, Halo Custom Edition.

The story itself is good. It’s not great since it ends with a big cliffhanger so you have to buy the sequel to know how it continues. I wish that the story got a bit more development. Since we got amazing voice acting. I love the voice acting in this game. Also, we don’t have a silent hero for once!

The writing itself is also good. But again, shame that the game is over so quickly. I do have to admit, that I played over 100 hours on Halo. I have played a lot of multiplayer and I got okay at it. I’m terrible at playing shooters online, but I enjoyed my time on Halo. Mostly with the Capture The Flag mode. I’m also surprised that after 16 years, there are still people playing this game online.

What I was even more surprised about, this game still gets the occasional update. Something quite handy is that when you have an out-of-date version of the game and want to enter the mutliplayer, you get a message to update your game and the updating tool automagically launches.

Multiplayer and such

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Like I said in the previous paragraph, I rather enjoyed my time in the multiplayer. There was also a possibility you could have edited maps, and you didn’t have to download additional mods to play on them. I rarely got lag issues.

But, for the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on the single player. The only other thing I’m going to say about the multiplayer is that it’s difficult to find the same server to play on with friends sometimes. I had several Skype calls lasting over 30+ minutes of me and my friend(s) trying to get into one server.

Visually, this game still looks pretty great in my opinion. I wouldn’t have changed one thing at all when it comes to the visuals. The animation is also very well put together. You visit various inside and outside locations. Something I really like is the consistency of the visuals. I don’t mean that every area looks the same, but I mean that a lot similar building styles return over the whole game. But, I think you will better understand that statement when you have played the game.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing that I would have changed. It would be awesome if this game had a bit more enemy variety. Since this game has the “recolor but stronger” issue you find in a lot of RPG’s. It’s such a shame. But, the campaign is such a wild ride, it didn’t bother me that much.

Something I really enjoyed in this game is the difficulty. The further you get in the game, the more difficult enemies and situations get presented to you. Another big plus in my book is that the differences between the difficulty settings are not only the amount of damage you take from enemy hits. Oh no, I have the impression that the enemies are also more aggressive in the harder modes of the game.

There were a few things I would have changed in the single player. First of all, I find it disappointing that the plasma swords can’t be used in the single player nor multiplayer without mods. This is a shame, since you can use every other weapon that your allies and enemies use.

I can’t sign.

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The controls of this game are excellent and very responsive. I also like that during the tutorial section, you get the option of selecting which camera control you would enjoy more during gameplay.

Something I didn’t always like were the controls for the vehicles. They lack just a tiny bit of weight to them.

While there aren’t a lot of different weapons to use in this game, I don’t mind it a whole lot. Since each weapon can be used in it’s own situation and it’s so fun to master a certain weapon.

Honestly, I wish I could sign along with the chanting of the soundtrack. Since the soundtrack for this game is amazing. It sets an amazing mood and I love listing to it. When I hear the main theme, I always get so nostalgic.

Speaking about that, the sound design is amazing as well. Also, your enemies use the right balance of speaking just a little bit of English, but the sounds they make when being hurt are great as well. The atmosphere the music, sound design and the visuals make is so great. I get pulled in every time. Even when I was replaying parts of this game for this review, I always played longer than I intended.

This game is that much fun and addictive. You go from place to place shooting down loads of enemies. With the help of your radar, you navigate through some various terrains.

For those who don’t know, this game has a quite unique mechanic. It’s the regenerating shield feature. When you get hurt, it goes off from your shield meter. When your shield meter is down, your health goes down. But, when you don’t get hit for a moment, your shield meter refills again. So, skilled players can beat this game without picking up one health pack if they want too.

But a feature I liked the most are the sticky grenades. They were so fun to use. Too bad, that there wasn’t anything you could do during multiplayer matches when you wanted to get them off. Well, it’s a risk you had to take.

One nitpick, I have is that the sections where you could use the enemy vehicles were a bit too short. But don’t worry, you can use these a whole lot in multiplayer. Just like the shield mechanic. This made multiplayer matches that more thrilling to play. Since you can’t easily kill everybody. You need to have more than one shot to kill somebody. Apart from fall damage, there isn’t a way to one shot kill somebody in this game as far as I know.

So, that’s all I wanted to talk about this game. I think it’s time to wrap up this article and give my conclusion (or my TL;DR for the lazy people)

Conclusion

The bad:

-The main game is way too short.

-It’s difficult to find the same server or game sometimes.

The good:

+ Fun story, writing & voice acting.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Great multiplayer.

+ The modding community.

+ …

Conclusion:

This game still holds up after being over 16 years on the market. When you want a more updated version, you could play the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition that came out in 2011 for the XBOX360 and XBOX ONE. But, I don’t own either of those consoles.

The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s way too short. Yet, due the vast amount of mods, maps, campaigns and such you can download and even an editor that’s released free of charge, you can download a lot of additional content for you to enjoy. Apart from that, the flaws in this game are so minor, they would be all nitpicking. This game is a fun ride from start to finish.

I do have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but I replayed it recently before I started writing this review. And all the nostalgic memories come flooding back. It’s quite a fun game to play and I think I might go and beat the game again when I have the time.

If you are a fan of shooters and haven’t played this game yet, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you aren’t a fan of shooters, well, I think you read the wrong article. If you have played this game, I hope this was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

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

Score: 90/100

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

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Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.