Tag Archives: dead

Game Quicky: Sweet Witches + Swaps & Traps (Switch) ~ Sweet Traps?

Today I’m going to do something special. I’m going to write a game quicky about two games. The reason for that is that I got both games from the publisher at the same time, so I’m going to review them at the same time. Earlier this year, my girlfriend reviewed another game they published called Dead Dungeon. So, let’s take a look at their latest offering on the Switch. Sweet Witches & Swaps and Traps. Disclaimer, the publisher asked me to give my 100% honest opinion on these games, so that’s what you will find in this article. If you are unfamiliar with the Game Quicky series on my blog, these articles are a quick review of the game. I also use this series to review smaller games that don’t have a lot of stories or are rather short. In any case, let’s start with one of the games. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down in the comment section with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the games.

Sweet Witches

Nintendo UK microsite – Publisher website – Developer website

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The gameplay

You play as one of two witches and try to plant flowers in order to earn candy.

Each level plays on one screen where you need to avoid enemies to pass each soil patch once to plant a flower. When you planted a flower on each soil patch, you can continue to the next level. Some enemies can even destroy your flowers, so plan out your route carefully. That’s the basic gist of this game.

The good

NSwitchDS_SweetWitches_02When you boot up the main menu, the charm of the game is quite clear. A lot of love went into the game. The visual presentation is amazing in this game. The artwork looks a bit creepy and cute at the same time. In addition to that, the animations are quite well done.

Depending on the difficulty setting you choose, you can adjust elements of the game. In the easiest difficulty: you can adjust the number of lives, the speed of the enemies and friendly fire. Since you can choose to play this game alone or even in co-op mode. Besides that, you even have a multiplayer mode. I’ll talk about the single-player a bit later but the multiplayer looks like a lot of fun. If you are looking for an interesting multiplayer game, this is the game you should take a look at. The idea is that you play a level but try to get as many of your own flowers planted. The more the merrier. You can also change the flowers of your opponent in your own flowers by simply walking over them. In addition to that, your opponents can attack you and you also have to dodge enemies.

The UI and controls of this game are responsive and good. I would change two things. The first thing is that you can use the (+) button in the game to go to the menu to adjust settings or go to the main menu. The other thing is that it’s unclear when your game is saved and if you choose the story mode if you are going to continue or start a new game. But, besides these two things, the UI is pretty good. The controls are easy to get used to and are useful in hairy situations.

The bad

NSwitchDS_SweetWitches_01While the animations and visual presentation are quite amazing, there is so much they could have done to improve this game even more. For example, it would be extremely handy if the soil changed when you planted a flower on it. During some levels, I had trouble to see which patches I missed. Another example is that after the screen transition to the new level, you have to quickly scan the bottom of the screen to find out where you spawn. It could use a bit more fine-tuning.

Something that seriously disappointed me in this game is the sound and music department. Now, the music itself isn’t bad by any means but it totally doesn’t fit the theme of the game at all. The whole soundtrack is from Kevin Macleod, the guy who provided a lot of music that can be freely used in videos and games. But the music selection, oh boy. It’s the generic music I hear in a ton of other YouTube videos and to be honest, I have heard them a bit too much.

On top of that, there were a lot of moments where I felt that there were sound effects actually missing from the game. From completing a stage to ladder climbing sounds. If there is one area where they dropped the ball, it’s in the sound and music department.

To be quite honest and frank, the single-player isn’t too much fun. It got old pretty quickly for me. There is no jump button, so avoid enemies gets quite tough. Very often I got stuck between two enemies and I was unable to escape with a ladder or stun them. Speaking of stunning enemies, you still lose a life when you walk passed a stunned enemy.

The game is also quite unforgiving. There is no way to earn additional lives and if you get hit once by an enemy, you lose a life. Thankfully, you don’t have to redo the whole stage but if you lose all your lives, you do have to redo the whole world. And because you don’t know how many levels are in each world, I got frustrated when I reached the 6th level and suddenly I lost my last life due to a stupid mistake.

This game could have benefited from a bit more variety. Let the player do something else then always planting flowers. For example, getting rid of flowers of the bullies or trying to kill all the enemies in one stage. The repetition of the game is a bit too much. Besides that, the enemies’ AI is so unpredictable you can barely plan out your next move.

I understand that the game is hard to mimic the old school Amiga, but due to that derpy AI, the game gets a bit too frustrating. But, that might just be me.

Conclusion

This game is bittersweet for me. There is a ton of potential for this game. Visually this game looks amazing. But, it’s clear that this game is somewhat rushed on the Nintendo Switch. Personally, I didn’t like the single player that much, but I’m happy that I have this game since I’m quite sure that this game will be a lot of fun at parties. Maybe I should give the co-op game mode a try with my girlfriend.

If you are interested in a cheap and challenging puzzle adventure game, this is the game for you. But do know that it lacks some polish and that there could have been so much more if this game got a better soundtrack and a bit more sound design.

I just think that the reason that I’m disappointed with this game is that I see the unused potential and only wished that they delivered that game instead of what we got. Maybe they can improve this with some patches or a sequel, but only time will tell.

Score: 5/10

Swaps and Traps

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Nintendo UK microsite – Publisher website – Developer website

The gameplay

So, if you remember Dead Dungeon, you will be quite familiar with the gameplay of this game. The idea is that you get a key to open the door to the next level. But, there is a twist. When you get the key, the antagonist “The Divider” actually swaps part of the level. So, you have to figure out how to jump while getting parts of the level and pasted elsewhere. This game really challenges your spacial awareness.

The good

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The unique mechanic of this game is just amazing. You really have to think about how you are going to parkour your way around to beat the level. It’s also really confusing because you would think the actual level geometry swaps places as well, but it doesn’t. The original layout of the level stays the same. But the location on the screen changes. You can press the “B” button to see a picture of the level before any swaps occur.

This game is a great game to speedrun. The developers actually knew this and added a speedrun timer. Your overall time and amount of deaths are visible on the pause screen. I only wish that this was also kept somewhere after I had beaten the level. Then again, this might over clutter the UI, so I don’t think that’s a good idea. There is also a leaderboard per level where you can compare your time with the time of other players. I honestly wonder if these are the times of the PC players are also included. But the fact that there are icons of the Nintendo Accounts next to the names, I think it’s the Nintendo Switch version only.

The audio in this game is really nice. The music and the sound effects really help sell this game. I really liked the soundtrack in this game. The voice acting in the cutscenes is really corny and it really fits the atmosphere of this game.

The controls of this game are simple and work almost perfectly. In almost every case, I felt that every death was my own fault. And due to the quick respawning, I was able to quickly give the level another shot. Since this game hooks you in with that: “Just one more level and one more try” mentality.

I adore the UI of this game. Especially on the pause screen. You have quick access to the sound and music settings and you see all the info you need. It’s quick and easy. Great job on that!

The bad

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The leaderboard could be so much more. If only there was a section where you can see the time of friends, that would be amazing.

The fact they ported the achievements over from the Steam version into the Switch version is a bit pointless. I can understand that some players love to try and unlock every achievement but to me, it’s rather pointless. Since you can’t display them on your profile. If only Switch games took achievements a bit more seriously and have them display on your profile screen. But, is this a negative of the game…? Well, yes and no. Let’s not forget that I didn’t even know that I unlocked an achievement when I did since it showed a small icon in the bottom right corner with barely readable text.

This game would be even more amazing if you were able to remap the jump button and the “show picture of the level” button. More often then not, I wanted to jump and I hit the other button. But this is a minor complaint and might just be me.

Conclusion

While this game is extremely confusing and frustrating, it’s a lot of fun to play through. I really enjoyed my time with Switch and Traps and I think it’s a great puzzle platformer.

If you enjoy puzzle platforming games or really hard platformers like Electronic Super Joy or Super Meat Boy, I really think that you should give this game a try. I even had trouble finding negatives for this game. For the price, this game is totally worth your time and money.

Score: 8/10

Closing off

And with that said, I have to thank the people at Drageus Games for providing me with press copies of these games. I actually really enjoyed myself with these games and I enjoyed writing this article and reviewing two games.

I don’t know if I’ll review two games at once in the future in the Game Quicky series but who knows, maybe I might review two small games that are sequels of each other or something. I have to think about that.

Now, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope that I can welcome you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

 

First Impression: Dead Dungeon (Switch) ~ Platforming Your Way

Page on Nintendo.com

Today is an exciting day for me, NekoJonez gave me the chance to write my first, first impressions article. So, any feedback on my writing is welcome. I also got the honor to write an article about a game I got a review copy of from the developer. The developer asked me to give my full honest opinion on the game, so that’s what you are going to read in this article. 

Storytime

The goal of the game is to exit the dungeon that you entered to recover your stolen candies. At every level, you need to collect a key (or in this game, a ghost) to be able to open the door to the next level. It’s somewhat unclear what the purpose is of the donuts are in the levels so I just didn’t collect them.

If you read the description of the game on the Nintendo eShop store page, you discover that you need to bring back the sweets and lost souls, which makes the goal of the game very clear.

Every level of the game is on one screen, you only need to jump from left to right. (And of course up and down) This doesn’t mean that game isn’t complicated though. In some of the levels, you really need to time your jumps to avoid being hit by moving spikes/traps or enemies.

Controls

The controls of the game are quite easy to figure out. You can either use the joystick of the buttons. I preferred the buttons, the joystick is a little harder not to use to much power which makes you die easier.

One thing that I missed was the option to shoot down the enemies, you really had to jump on their heads. Just like a certain plumber.

Design and animations 

Dead Dungeon is a 2D game. This means the game looks very simple. I think the fact that the game is 2D made it more enjoyable to play. The simple look made me feel like I was playing a retro game. Somehow, the character made me think of Courage, the cowardly dog, which hit me with nostalgic feelings.

Even though the game is in 2D, the game doesn’t seem to lack animations and extras to make it look more appealing.

One thing I noticed, was that the levels always had a different color which gave it a little more sense of a designed game.

Difficulty and frustrations

In this game, the goal is to jump from platform to platform and back. The game isn’t that easy and you’ll need a lot of patience. I often felt like throwing my Switch away, but a minute later I started trying again. This game has that “just one more try” mentality. I’ve often played games that made me feel annoyed at not being able to finish a level and just stop right there and then.

Every level has a different design, sometimes you just have to jump without avoiding traps, sometimes the level is full of traps. I will surely keep playing this game to try and finish it.

The difficulty of the game also isn’t really clear, sometimes the levels are easy and sometimes they are kinda difficult which makes it hard to finish.

Music and sound design

The music and sound of the game didn’t really annoy me. After a while, it started to sound a little bit monotonous.

One thing I missed was the sounds when you jumped, died,… These would give the player some more information to work with or time their jumps better.

Overall opinion

When I first opened this game, I thought: “oh well, this doesn’t look too difficult”. Let’s just say, I was very wrong. The fact that you don’t get a lot of text after each level also is a good thing, I don’t really like text-heavy games.

I didn’t really get the goal of the game at the beginning, but that didn’t really keep me from playing. You don’t really need to know the story to be able to play the game.

Jonez and I noticed that it is better to play handheld than docked. In the docked mode, some controls are delayed which makes it hard to finish a level.

People that like old-school games like ink and super meat boy will really like the vibe of this game since it gives you an older vibe and older music.

Thank you for reading my first game review, well, my first “first impression”. I hope you enjoyed reading it. If you have any feedback for me to write better articles in the future, I’m happy to hear it. Otherwise, I hope to welcome you in another article or enjoy another article of Jonez in the near future 🙂

Publishing: Thousands dead in LostHero, new souls-like hardcore RPG

Prague, November 11th – LostHero public alpha strikes hard, with casualties reaching into the thousands. Body count rising each day.

“The recently released Public Alpha of the hardcore action RPG, LostHero, has been smashing all cherished institutions like no game before,” reports a T’grank informer with connections to the game. “We’re loving it. Instead of players smashing dozens of enemies with a single sword swing, they’re finding LostHero hopelessly difficult, dying left and right as they try to reach the end of the level. It’s glorious.”

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The informer reports that the difficulty levels in LostHero are creating multiple hardships for players, but that the game itself has kept them foolishly coming back for more. The non-stop slaughter would appear to be an addiction, though independent sources confirm that’s likely not the case. The game is simply fun to play.

“We’ve been watching this very closely,” says the T’grank informer, “and our statistics don’t lie. We show that it takes more than 50 tries to reach the end, and this is just the beginning! Imagine the misery and chaos that will come with the Early Access release planned for December. And, God help these miserable players, imagine the final release!”

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The informer, the unofficial representative of the T’grank, went on to suggest someone, anyone, must step in to stop the madness before their cemeteries overflow with bodies. According to the informer these so-called LostHeroes are in control of the power of reincarnation, so no real damage is done to their souls, but the smell of the bodies has become overwhelming. “Who could withstand anything like it?” he was heard to lament.

After almost three years of development, GoldKnights studio has started a Public Alpha of LostHero – a hardcore souls-like RPG with a sci-fi twist and co-op mode for up to 4 players. The Alpha is free to play to anybody who subscribes. Players can register and subscribe to the official LostHero site.

In case you are interested in becoming fodder for this brutal campaign, please visit LostHero.com to learn more. There you can also find a complete presskit with all the necessary resources.

Let us know if you need anything else and hit us with an e-mail if you’d like to check out our Early Access prior to its launch – we’ll put you on our preview list. Also, note that our currently available Alpha build will be undergoing huge improvements in the upcoming week or two.

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Contact: Viet Tran – Junior PR Assistant @ LostHero.com – m.tran@lostherogame.com
Twitter @MarekTV

PS: December Early Access is coming and our goal is to attract as many players as possible to the free Public Alpha prior to that date. It is available now and ends before the Early Access launch. We appreciate any line you can drop about us and our Alpha program. We’re also looking for media coverage for the December release.

ABOUTLOST HERO: LostHero is about an outcast hero, a mercenary of a secret order, who fights against the dark forces of chaos in a world fractured by eternal war. Three dominant races set the stage for his journey. The game can be played alone or in 2-4 player co-op mode. Traveling the dark worlds, players destroy their enemies in a complex skill-based action combat system, collecting resources along the way to craft and improve their arsenal. The more deadly players become, the more successful they will be. And the longer they will survive.

 ABOUT GOLDKNIGHTS: LostHero is developed by GoldKnights. Founded in 2015, we are a small indie studio of 10-20 people situated in Prague, Czech Republic. LostHero is our first comercial title, although majority of team members has a previous game development experience, especially RPGs, dungeons and adventures. Some of us also have a background in medieval swordfighting techniques, which we use to give the fighting system more realistic look and feel.

Personal: My pet cat Sparta, my twinkling star

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Sparta

° 24/04/2008 –  † 13/07/2018

For those who don’t follow me on social media, I have to bring sad news today. My pet cat died due to the consequences of kidney cancer on 13th July 2018. I have to thank everybody who sends me supportive messages over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, mail, Discord…

Sparta’s death affects me a lot. So, that’s why I decided that I wanted to write this article for her. I want to honor and thank her for everything she had done for me. Also, for everything she has done for my blog too. So, I’m going to talk a bit about her. I’m sorry if the article is a bit all over the place… Anyways, let’s not get distracted.

In my opinion, she was the mascot for my blog. She served as an inspiration to my nickname. In the past, I had only “Jonez” as a nickname. But, I quickly found that was a commonly used name. As a kid, I had the bright idea to make it “Jonez001”, which was a YouTube username suggestion spit out by the registration form.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Japanese culture. So, I decided to work that into my nickname as well. At that moment, Sparta was enjoying a nap on my lap and that’s when I decided to rebrand myself to NekoJonez. Neko is the Japanese word for cat.

Icon

Sparta also served as inspiration for my blog icon. As you can see, it’s a Gameboy cartridge with my nickname on and with a cat paw print. When ZoeF and I were in a call deciding how it should look, I remember me saying that I really wanted a cat paw print on it.

Besides being an inspiration and mascot for my blog, she was an amazing family cat. She was one of the most affectionate cats that I have ever met. She was also a great companion. She jumped on the sofa closest to me while I was gaming and first watched the TV when I was playing before falling asleep. Sometimes she jumped on my lap, and I remember a few times she actually started purring when I finally had beaten a level or a boss. To be honest, the fact that I started to pet her might have something to do with it.

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If the weather was clear, she spent most of her days in our garden. Watching that no other cats or animals entered the garden. She was a small cat, some people even though she was still a kitten. But, that didn’t stop her. She attacked or scared the other cats away if they dared to enter her domain. The fact that she does this surprises me since when she was one year old, we got another kitten. And those two became best friends. Sadly enough, that other kitten didn’t come home after a few months.

If the weather wasn’t clear and especially during the winter, she wanted to stay inside. She didn’t like going outside, besides when she had to do her “little room visit”. Something she will be remembered for is when you were sitting on our sofa underneath a blanket, she would jump on the sofa and then go on your legs and fall asleep there. She did that with my mom, my godchild, my sister and myself. And if she didn’t do that, she jumped on the nearest sofa were nobody was sitting and started to sleep there.

During her life, we had to move houses twice. And every time she moved with us. She adjusted pretty quickly after the move as well. It almost felt that she didn’t care where she was. The thing that mattered to her was that she was close to us.

Not long after Sparta was born, she became a stray. Her mother left her behind on the playground of the school where my father teaches. My dad brought her home and placed her into the garage. Not too long before her arrival, I was listing to the Mean Kitty Song by Mr. Safety on repeat on YouTube. That song actually gave Sparta her name. The song is about a very playful kitty that shows a lot of affection. The kitty bites a lot, but in a playful manner. And that’s how Sparta and I met. She actually bit me playfully and then started to play with the ropes on my sweater.

I can sit here and write a whole novel with stories about Sparta. How we found her once sleeping in a watering-can and how I helped her defending herself when she was young. Yeah, Sparta ate her food outside and she was too afraid from other cats to defend herself when they came and stole her food. That’s why I often sat down next to her while she was eating and scared all the other cats away. At night, I used a very strong flashlight my dad has to repair the underside of cars.

Also, for some stories, you had to be there. For example, in my garden, we have a wall covered with ivy. During the summer, the birds love making their nests in it. Sparta knew this and climbing in the ivy to get the nests out of the ivy. And yes, she even caught some birds. It was a funny sight, seeing Sparta disappear into the ivy and then suddenly appearing on top of it.

SpartaSleeping

Something I will never forget about her is that she knew our routines. On 99 out of 100 times, she recognized when we came home or when our car arrived. When she heard that, she came out of her nap spot and sprinted towards the back door and waited to be let in for food. Very occasionally she climbed our garden wall to use the parking lot of our neighbor (which is a martial arts studio) to suddenly appear between your legs at the front door. We never expect this and when she does it, we jumped every single time.

But, seeing her running from the back of the garden when I came downstairs, actually miaowing when we shouted out her name and just being a companion is the Sparta I’ll remember.

So, thank you Sparta for being in our lives these past 10 years. When I take another cat, I’ll give a name to that cat in reference and honor to you. But, you will be missed Sparta. Nothing will be able to fill the void that you left. Now, you are going to twinkle like the star you are in our hearts, where you will live forever in memory.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you didn’t mind me writing this in honor of Sparta. It helped me mourning and processing her death. Thank you for all the support and amazing messages I got from all of you. So, until the next time and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles (PC) ~ Is Lara dead?

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Wikipedia entry

If my nickname doesn’t give it away, I’m quite a big fan of Indiana Jones. When I played Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, I wanted to play more games where I raid tombs and have large adventures. It didn’t take long for me to find a cheap copy of Tomb Raider 5 and install it. And, I wasn’t good at playing this game as a kid. I barely survived the first level. Yes, shame on me. But several years later, I decided to put the game in my Windows98 machine again. And I have to say, my feelings towards the game changed. But I’ll go more in-depth about that in my article. Nowadays, I’m a big Tomb Raider fan and I keep up-to-date with the latest releases. So, is this game any fun and good to play. Let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Let’s tell stories

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Usually, each Tomb Raider game has an overarching story. You go searching for a treasure and visit a ton of interesting locations. But in this game opens right after, what appears to be, the funeral of Lara Croft. Winston, her butler, and two of his friends recollect and tell stories of her adventures. Now, you might have guessed this, but the stories are the levels you play.

This is a very interesting way of telling the plot of this game. Since you go on little side adventures that might never get a full game. It almost feels like the developers had so many ideas for this game, they threw it all together in one nice flowing narrative.

The voice acting in this game is really excellent. As a kid, I was convinced that the characters were real. The voice acting is that good in my opinion.

While I know that the technology and animation were very limited back then, but the mouth animations weren’t that good in this game. Games like Half-Life and Deus Ex had better mouth animations. This might look like a detail that I’m talking about, yet there were moments that it distracted me from the game.

Less ropes!

tomb-raider-5-screen-2 Something I truly didn’t like in Tomb Raider 4 was the parts with the ropes. Thank god, this is way less present in this game. But, let’s focus on the gameplay of this game. In this game, you explore 13 levels filled to the brim with puzzles of the solving and jumping variety.

All levels are quite lengthy, apart from one…. and that one was quite difficult to finish in my eyes. Something I truly liked in this game is all the differences between the levels. You play through 4 different adventures and each adventure has its own gimmick. Like the levels I’m currently at, you play as a young Lara. So, she doesn’t have any guns.

Visually, this game looks dated. But, it looked dated in some places back then. But, if I compare games from that time period to this game, the reason why this game looks so dated are the character models. If there is anything that could have been improved back then were the character models.

But hey, the setting of the game and animation look all quite nice, apart from the mouth animation that is. Also, if you think that this game looks ugly, well… if it would be released today, it would. But, it doesn’t look ugly in my opinion. Even nowadays.

This game can be quite challenging. I have to admit, I have used a guide in some places to finish the level. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you save often. You will thank me for that.

If you look at a let’s play of this game, you might think that this game is quite difficult with all the jumping. But take it from me, an amateur when it comes to jumping puzzles, it’s possible and it’s so rewarding when you get a jump from the first try!

Pew pew pew

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As a kid, I always dreaded the rope sections in this game. Walking on the tightrope is a new ability of Lara Croft in this game. But, somehow my kid brain wasn’t able to beat the rope. I was so happy when I crossed it successfully. But when I played through this game as an adult, I have no problem with it.

The controls are almost always very responsive. I had a few times that Lara didn’t grab a ledge or didn’t jump in time. Perhaps, I didn’t press the right buttons in time.

Something that made me replay the levels I had finished are the secrets in this game. In this title, various golden roses are hidden throughout the levels. The sound that plays when you find a secret is as addictive as the sound of Link finding a new item.

Speaking of sounds, the sound design and the soundtrack of this game is excellent. I felt rewarded when I got a music cue or some music. Actually, that’s something this game lacked as well. There wasn’t enough music in this title. I can understand that this is done to build the atmosphere of the game, but I personally would be happy with a bit more music. The whole soundtrack is about 25 minutes long. And that’s quite short for an adventure game like this.

So, the sound design of this game is pretty well done. Like I said earlier, the voice acting is very well done. Also, there isn’t one sound effect I would have changed or that would improve the game. I played this game using a headset and thanks to the sound design, I was really pulled into the game.

If I was allowed to change one thing, that is the loading of save points right after death. It’s so annoying that the main menu first has to load and right after that, the default option is “new game”. I can’t count on one hand how many times I have started a new game when I wanted to load a game. Yet, I wish I was able to change two things. The second thing would be the autorun feature. It’s broken. It autoruns the game yet you are unable to save your game. That’s an annoying bug!

Also, I have to praise the game for something. The optional tutorial section is such a great idea. At the start of the first level, you can go straight ahead or to the left in a building. If you go to the left, the basic controls are explained in a quite safe area. If you go straight ahead, you continue on with the level. If my mind severs me correctly, there are no secrets hidden in the tutorial area. Yet, there are various useful items hidden there. So, I advice you all to go and explore there.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I have some other things I want to talk about with this game but I’m leaving those for the review. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

And the Award for Worst DLC Goes To…..

Fallout: New Vegas- Honest Hearts

I know what you’re thinking: this is bad writing. You shouldn’t reveal the answer immediately. Build some suspense! The reason I chose to do so anyway is not because some people like a tl;dr version, or because I’m pretentious and I do whatever the hell I so desire. No, it’s because I’d like to talk about Fallout first, and why this DLC was so disappointing. Prepare yourselves, because I have a feeling this’ll be a long one again.

In all honesty, I have not played the first two major instalments, though I did acquire them through GOG.com a while back and plan to play them some time. My first introduction was with Fallout 3. It didn’t run well, especially its DLC had serious performance issues, but I revered it nevertheless. It was so much fun. The engine used by Bethesda, its developer, has never been well optimised. Not for PC, not for consoles. Not for Fallout and not for The Elder Scrolls. But this is not a performance analysis, so I won’t go in-depth right now.

I fell in love with the world. Set some 250 years in the future, in a world where people in the fifties thought “Well, this is it: he pinnacle of art, style and technology.” Everything is inspired by old technology and the styling of the fifties. Monochromatic computer screens, old jazz and rhytm & blues music, clothing (what’s left of it), … Even futuristic items seem old. It just oozes with charm.

Story-wise I prefer the third instalment over New Vegas, hands down. I plan on comparing the two in a later article at some point in the future, so I’ll keep it at that for now. I even liked the five DLC-packs that were released. Broken Steel continued the story. It wasn’t incredible, but it was serviceable. Operation Anchorage was fun and brought a tonne of nice, new items to the party. Mothership Zeta was interesting and fun, though the story didn’t grab my as such. Point Lookout was my favourite, with it’s unique swamp location, barely touched by the nuclear bombs, and interesting storyline. And The Pitt was my least favourite, though still well above the quality of the DLC in New Vegas.

In New Vegas, we have four DLC packs, instead of the five in Fallout 3. I maintain that I prefer quality over quantity, so I didn’t complain from the start. But neither really rocked my boat. Maybe I felt less invested, because I find the world of New Vegas less intriguing to begin with, but regardless I should have had some investment.

The first two I played were Dead Money and Lonesome Road. The former annoyed me so much, I considered dropping out of the game entirely. Nothing else in both games gave me this feeling, ever, but this story was uninteresting, and the location was highly unappealing. I take it it was the intention to look unappealing, but it should not be revolting or appalling. I was relieved to finally finish and return to the Mojave.

The latter started very promising, in what looked like an abandoned nuclear missile silo. It was slowly paced and there were very few enemies. It almost seemed like this was created so the player would get invested in the story and atmosphere. A mostly non-combat DLC to teach us more about the world. But things quickly turned around once I progressed and got out of the silo. More combat, a mysterious figure that I couldn’t care less about on the radio, and nothing innovative in terms of world building. Like an Olympic diver performing a perfect reverse two-and-a-half somersault and landing flat on his stomach; promising, yet disappointing.

Then there were two more: Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. The latter had an interesting world in which scientists were isolated in a crater full of interesting locations, where not-so-ethical experiments had been performed. The story was decent and the “fifties-mad-scientist” vibe was fun, but after having been let down by most of the rest of the game, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have.

 

Which brings me to Honest Hearts. Set in Utah, an area barely touched by the nuclear war of before, it had a decent setting. That part reminded me of the Point Lookout DLC from Fallout 3. What’s the story like? I couldn’t tell you. I beat it and I have no idea what it was about. How’s that possible? I’ll tell you: poor game design.

Let’s go back to Old World Blues (and in essence, every other map in Fallout for that mattar) for a second. Fallout has always been about exploring, as have all the Elder Scrolls games been. You could freely walk around the map and explore. You’d find new locations and some gave me new side quests, but none of them interfered with the main storyline of the game or any of its DLC.

(Map of Fallout 3, with all discoverable locations)

In Honest Hearts, I immediately became confused when the party I was travelling with all died within two minutes of arrival, and not ten minutes after first being introduced to them. I failed about half a dozen quests because of that, so I decided to load my previous save and try again. They all died again and the same thing happened where I failed a bunch of quests. Slightly aggravated and confused, I decided to look up if I was doing something wrong. Turned out it was a scripted event and could not be prevented, which means it was part of the main storyline.

Now why would I fail half a dozen quests for that? Why would the developers give me the impression that all the members in my party had little side quests they could’ve given me? The only quest remaining right now, was (verbatum) “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”, pointing at a location all the way in the utmost North-Eastern corner of the map, with me all the way down South.

Everything felt like this was created by a fan or something, not by the actual developers. A mod, maybe. The writing and phrasing of the quests felt off and confusing. And then, a colossal error in judgement… The maps in the DLC are usually not that big, with thirty or so locations, allowing you to explore them in only a few hours. So as I often did, I explored the whole region first. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially considering the only quest available right now was “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”

This has never been an issue. EVER. Not in Point Lookout, not in Old World Blues, not in any of the huge maps of the main storyline of the game. On my travels through the map of Honest Hearts, I encountered a few NPCs who had specific names, not just “Raider” or something else vague. Usually, these are people who are important in some (side) quest. Now in the main game, or any the other DLC packs, if you encounter a place where you find someone with a specific name, they will rarely attack you before engaging you in conversation. This makes sense. It allows you to get involved in some quest or back out of the situation, without killing that person and locking yourself out of a quest.

Not in Honest Hearts, though. I encountered two or three people with an actual name, who all attacked me on sight. I had little choice but to retaliate. They didn’t have any important items on them, like notes are keys to something, so at first I figured they were just minor characters. Why would I assume otherwise, when this game and its predecessor have never worked like that? I figured wrong. They were vital characters; leaders of local tribes. So when I finally explored the whole map and recovered the map of Zion Canyon, my screen went black. I thought the game crashed for a second, until a video started playing about how I had influenced Zion by killing these characters. Tribes disbanded, influences changed, and so on. It talked about everything I had done and I hadn’t done anything yet but explore and recover a map!

FNV

I can’t be the only one who explored before continuing the quest and be surprised by a sudden cut-off. Guess what, turns out I’m not. Turns out more people were kind of angry and confused. Turns out that in the beginning of the story, right after your party members have been killed, a character important to the storyline is somewhere behind or among the attackers and shoots one of them in the back (on the picture above marked with a red box). Me, being all worked up because of the battle, not realising he’s important and since he’s some distance away, I shoot him down. Since this is in the middle of a fight with half a dozen of people at the same time, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he had a specific name. Killing him causes his tribe to turn hostile and in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the whole community of tribes, causing their leaders to attack me on sight too.

I guess, “technically”, it’s my fault for not paying attention to every single person on screen during a battle and thinking “Ooh, is he an enemy or someone important?”. I apologise for being kind of busy fighting for my life while bullets whiz around my head. I also apologise for having been confused by the demise of my recently acquainted party members, including the leader, who I though would be integral to the story and with me for the most part of the game. I should have played this open-world game more linearly, and I’m equally sorry I could not resist the urge to explore first, rather than ignore the world the developers have so painstakingly created around me, and just hurry through the quests.

Oh wait, no I’m not. This is crap and they should be ashamed.

EDIT: This, of course, is not the worst DLC ever and I’m sure plenty of people enjoyed it, but it felt really frustrating, and I do maintain the beginning of this DLC is highly confusing from the beginning and that little mistake at the beginning ruined the whole storyline for me. That’s what bothers me most and it’s poor design.

First Impression: The Walking Dead – Season 1 (PC) ~ Overhyped?

TWD-game-cover

Official website

Deep breaths, Jonez, deep breaths. I might have to hide after this first impression or a horde of fanboys might come and attack and bite me. I’m scared to talk about my first impression with this game. I just finished the first chapter out of five from this game and it’s not what I expected. I’m going to warn you, this game might shock people, and this first impression might give me tons of bad comments. But please, keep in mind that this is my opinion on it and if you want to discuss my opinion, do it in a civilized manner. We have to stick together when we try to survive the horde of bad games lately. I got this game a week ago for an extremely low price. And it’s an adventure game from TellTale, a company that made the excellent Tales Of Monkey Island. And point-&-click / adventure games are my favorite genre ever. But does this game live up to the hype I created for myself or was this a big mistake to hype? Well, let’s make the harsh decision and let’s take a look at it. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game or / and this article. 

The story, such a weird thing. 

2290916-the_walking_dead_05194_screen

Indeed, used a screenshot from GameSpot

Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Q about this and I already talked about this. Because I was able to verify my fears, I think I can talk about this with more comfort. The story of the Walking Dead game isn’t as good as people claim it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. The setting and idea behind it is pretty nice but there are a few things that made me shake my head pretty bad. There are some major flaws with the story.

The first thing were this game falls flat on it’s face is the fact that you know that there is going to be a victim. Sometimes you have the illusion that you can choose while in reality, the outcome doesn’t change.

Some choices just give you a different dialogue part while the main storyline is pretty much the same.  I can be wrong on this but from what I have played, my impression isn’t the greatest in terms of story.

Most characters die a bit too quickly as well. You barely get any connection time and a poof, they are death. And that is just lame in my opinion.

The second thing that makes me not really like the story is the fact that it exists out of some cliche things. Arguments and zombie attacks. Some things happen to have some gameplay but don’t make sense story wise. There is a moment were you are a in heated argument, somebody collapses and you are allowed to take charge. Ehrm, is it just me or did we make an awkward jump in terms of story here?

Something else that bugs me quite a lot is the fact that you are on a quick time limit. I understand the idea behind it, in real life and at those moments you wouldn’t have time to think about it as well… But when you play through the game for the first time it’s just a annoying thing. Since you barely get any time to read each option. And by the time you have read them, you have to decide quickly before you stay silent or do nothing.

Is the story bad? No, it isn’t bad. It has it’s memorable moments. The writing is nicely done but the execution isn’t the best for a game. I always feel that some main story is taking place and that you simply decides which character is going to die now or later on the road.

And the rest?

The-Walking-Dead-Game-Dev-Wants-Suggestions-for-Potential-Second-Season-2Usually I keep my story segment short, but for this game, I made an exception. Honestly, I think that the story isn’t the strong point of the game. The gameplay is. The last thing I’m going to say about the story is that for what I have seen now, the characters are a bit … well, paper thin. Like in episode two, suddenly another guy popped up out of nowhere. No explanation at the start. Just poof, he is a part of the group.

Anyways, enough “ranting” about the story. Let’s talk controls. And they are awkward at best for adventure game veterans. The simple fact you need to scroll when you want to talk or use an item on somebody is unnatural. Nearly every adventure / point-&-click game have a handy inventory where you can drop and drop the items from.

It’s possible to get used to the controls but with some animation flaws, they aren’t pretty good. Try holding the arrow keys and walk into the wall. Yes, the old shacking screen is there. TellTale, you disappoint me here. I know you guys can do better!

Do I have different complaints about the Walking Dead? Yes, yes I have. I’m under the impression that this game is quite short. A normal adventure game takes you on a lengthy adventure that takes you in tons of different places. But after a small 1,5 hours I was done with the first out of 5 chapters. Hearing from a close friend of mine, who has beaten the whole first season, each chapter is around 1,5 hours long. And trust me, veteran adventure gamers won’t get stuck easily. So, a short 5 – 10 hour game. That’s something I finish in an afternoon, and that’s not such a good thing for an adventure game.

So, this first impression sounds extremely negative. It’s almost like I’m about to say that this is a bad game. And trust me, it isn’t. This game suffers from too much hype. Everybody talks how awesome and amazing this game is and don’t look at the flaws this game has. While this game has flaws, it doesn’t make this game a bad game. The charm of the game is that the flaws get hidden behind a well crafted game. I have to give TellTale that.

The story has good voice acting and is graphically extremely well done.

Thinking about it, this game is actually more meant to be discussed with friends. Also, watching to a let’s play of this game is a tad bit more enjoyable then actually playing it. Since the surprise of what’s going to happen is then lost. I’ll finish this game for sure and I’ll write a full review about it. By then my opinion might have changed. And then I will also talk about some other things I didn’t had the time to put in this article.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I’m working on a few new articles and I hope to see you guys there. Be sure to also check out the podcast I did with Allahweh! It’s the previous article.