First Impression: Europa Universalis IV (PC ~ Steam) – Thank you Mizari.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedLink to the official website

For the people who read my blog often, they might know that one of my best friends is Mizari. I often call him MiseryLC or anything among those lines. One of his favorite games is Europe Universalis IV. Recently I decided to give it a try with him myself. The gameplay and the genre looked interesting to me, so I bought it while it was on sale. After playing almost 40 hours in about a week or so, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having quite a lot of fun! So, shall we take a look at this game and what first impressions it left on me? The issue is, in order to write a review for a game, I have to beat it. While you can “beat” this game, you can restart it with and play it in another way. So, I think I’ll write a review after I played around 150+ hours of this game. So, that said, it’s time to start talking about this game, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Age of Empires?

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When it comes to games where you need to build your own empire(s), I prefer the gameplay of Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. So, when I first started to play this game, I was quite confused. I might have looked over the tutorial but I haven’t seen one. Thankfully, Mizari is showing me the ropes. It’s quite handy to have a friend to play this game with.

When you start to get the hang of the game, it gets quite interesting. There isn’t any story in the game as far as I have noticed, since it’s one that you can make yourself. In our multiplayer sessions I play as Russia and he plays as the Ottomans. I don’t think that the Russians and the Ottomans ever formed a friendship.

 Numbers game.

2015-03-08_00001At first, I thought that most of this game would be a number game where higher stats would mean a better country. Let me tell you that it isn’t the case. Your goal is not only to manage a country but also you need to manage the relationships with other countries and such. When you don’t improve it at frequent intervals, you could get into trouble.

In my early multiplayer sessions, I regularly got attacked by other countries. I wasn’t that careful in managing my military points so I got attacked. But when countries that were afraid of MiseryLC’s empire also started attacking me, all I had to do was improve the relationship with his country and the attacks stopped. This makes it more then just a numbers game. It gives a realistic vibe to the game where time is just indicated by numbers.

The big issue is, that when you are just a beginning player there is way too much to play with. I found the tutorial when I wrote this part of the article, and only seeing three lessons, made me facepalm. The depth of this game, you can’t really explain that in three sessions. Well, you could but you might risk that you overflow the new player with too much information at once.

If you want to start playing this game, I highly recommend that you first play the game with a sort of guide. Don’t play in IronMan mode, since you can’t “roll back” choices. Speaking about that, there is one thing that is disappointing to me. You can only unlock achievements in IronMan mode. I think it would be better otherwise. I might be looking over a logical reason for why it’s ‘Ironman only’… but I hope that isn’t the case.

Nitpicking

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This game updates a lot, which can be annoying sometimes. During my play sessions I had a few nitpicks. Recently, MiseryLC and I started a new game where we would play content from the quite recently released DLC “El Diablo”. It’s kind of neat that somebody who doesn’t own the DLC is able to play the game and it’s content then as well. But you play with a very unstable game then. My game crashed 3-4 times in 20-ish minutes.

I was able to fix it by buying the DLC myself and then play with him. While there is a lot of DLC for this game, various ones are simply cosmetic. Now that I think of it, a handful are just music packs.

Talking about that, the music for this game is outstanding. In my previous (music) article I actually talked about a track that I really liked. But often, I had moments where my country was in war and relaxing music was playing. This actually took me out of the experience. But a neat kind of hidden feature is that when you hover over the date, the title of the song actually is shown.

So, this game is amazingly polished and I already lost various hours to it. I plan to play it for even more and probably write a more in-depth review of game. But there is so much to cover, the length of my usual “first impression” articles don’t quite cut it.

Apart from some irritating bugs, that sometimes get patched a few hours after they have been found, and some odd things here and there… The game is quite fun. Also, the search option to look for provinces is such a god send. Without it, I would had more rebels in my country then there are M&M’s in a M&M bag.

Anyways, I think I have said most of the things I wanted to talk about this game. I hope you enjoyed my first look at this game and if you are interested in the game, I advise you to not buy it with the DLC included. Since those can add some new gameplay layers that might make the already quite overwhelming game even more overwhelming. But once you get used to how the game plays, the hours can fly by really quickly. Just giving you that warning.

Review: Evoland (PC – Steam) ~ I’m Sorry Smashy.

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Official website

Alright, after such a long time of teasing this game… I’m going to review it. I’m sorry Smashy for two reasons. One, that I didn’t finish the series. Yeah, that Smashy in the series’ll be disappointed. And two, sorry NekoSmash, brother that we didn’t have the planned co-op review. I wanted to get this review out of the way. Maybe we write something better together. I have something in mind. Anyway, Evoland. What an evolution. Puns. Okay, I’ll stop. Let me know in the comments what you think of this game and / or this review. But without further ado, here is the review.

Evolution in RPG’s.

624041-evoland-windows-screenshot-unlocked-mode-7-a-somewhat-popularThe first thing that falls victim to my criticism is the story of a game. If there is even one. Most RPG’s have a generic story like: “Save the princess” or “Kill evil dude X”. Yet, the way how it’s written is always different. And in this game it’s a lot different.

The game is based around the evolution of RPG’s. And some dialogue is based around that. The story gets from extremely simple to a deep story. And I like it. It’s fascinating. While it’s nothing unique in terms of new stories, it mixes a lot of great and memorable scenes from big legendary RPG’s.

The game raises a lot of funny moments when you play it. I had moments I’ll never forget. References to famous game creators and various references to RPG’s. From Zelda to Final Fantasy. A bit of Golden Sun even. And Dragon Quest. I adore the style of this game. And what blew me away is that there is a Diablo part!

Yet, with the story comes already one issue with the game. It’s on the short side. This game could have been longer. A lot longer. Sometimes it jumps a bit too quickly from one generation to the next. As a retro game addict, I know when there is something skipped or gone over too fast. I wish they paid a bit more attention to certain parts.

Frustratingly easy, I mean difficult… Ehrm, no easy.

624053-evoland-windows-screenshot-kaeris-apparently-is-a-healer-whichIs Evoland easy? Well no, at some places it’s really harsh. And that has to do with the controls. Maybe it’s just me not being used to PC RPG’s, but the controls feel strange to me. It feels like I’m playing a game on an emulator. It doesn’t feel natural. I’m used to playing my RPG’s on my PS2 or DS.

But even with the free movement update, the movement feels a bit stiff. And this has mainly to do with moving extremely slow. Well, not extremely slow. But the speed of yourself is sometimes a bit too slow. And this is an issue because some enemies are so fast they can drain your life easily.

Another issue with the game is the save points. I absolutely hate it in RPG’s. I can see them used in platformers, action games or adventure games but not in RPG’s. Why? Because grinding that’s why. And the battles are sometimes brutal. The enemies hurt a tad bit too much. One or two bad moves and you can die. Okay, you can level up. But you can barely see the stats. What’s the point then of placing stats while leveling up?

Where I pull the hair off my head is one of the biggest irritations I have with this game. Potions. Yeah, because of several reasons. One, you can heal your enemies… Two, you can only use it in battle. And three, you can’t use it at the parts when there are hearts. Speaking about hearts…

They are a bit flawed as well. Enemies can hit you for one heart. And when you pick up a heart, it fills up just 1/4th of a heart. Well, wait what? This doesn’t seem right.

Sadly enough, that’s not all…

Let’s take a look at this… messy diamond?

624054-evoland-windows-screenshot-oh-3d-graphics-and-16-bit-musicIt almost seems that I try to rip apart this game. I’m actually not trying to do that. The gameplay is extremely excellent. It takes you on a nice trip. Yet, it’s clear that this game isn’t for everybody.

Some secrets are not that well hidden for veteran gamers. Yet, some options are locked until nearly the end of the game. And that’s something that could have saved this game a lot.

The upgrades and treasures are given to you with chests. There is a reason to replay the game since you have collect-able stars. And the card game is lovely. And like I said earlier, the witty writing benefits the game a lot.

If you have played various older generation RPG’s, you’ll find this game even more fun. I loved the references. But truth to be told, I have something for references. It always puts a smile to my face.

One of the best things in this game is the music. Man, they may claim that they top the charts since the release of the game. But I wouldn’t be surprised they do. The music is lovely. I would even call it perfect for this game. The sound design is also great. I have nothing to point out that is bad about it.

The animation is pretty. It fits the generation, and it doesn’t try to break the immersion with the newer generation. I think games loses their charm when you try to make some new generation effects in an 8 / 16 bit style game. A problem that the Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures suffers from. It’s almost like the developers couldn’t decide which generation to put it in. Or which theme to take.

Lastly, the graphics. I can’t really judge them since they change an awful lot in the game. But in short, they are spot on for this game. I loved them from the start to the end.

Oh, one last thing. You know what would be amazing? If you finished the game, that you could play the original flash browser game as a bonus. But now with save points or something. Just an idea though.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Challenging.

+ Has good replay value.

+ Unique gameplay concept.

+ Amazing music!

+ Amazing graphics.

The bad:

– Some gameplay flaws ruin the game.

– Mediocre controls.

– Way too short.

Conclusion:

So honestly, this game isn’t half bad. Some reviewers hold this game high in the ranking. Others go rip it apart. My opinion? Well, it’s an incredible game. I loved the experience a lot. But I can understand why people dislike this game.

It has some issues with its gameplay. Like I forgot to mention that you can’t change the options in game. Or like I heard in another review with my research, this game hasn’t an identity of its own.

So, in short: this is a great game IF you can look or agree with its flaws. Otherwise, it’s the best that you play the original flash game. If I remember correctly, it’s on their website.

Score: 70/100