Tag Archives: diablo

Review: Path of Exile – Free to Play Done Right

A year or so ago, I was looking through the free-to-play games available on Steam. A lot of games there are good examples of your typical free-to-play game. You CAN play for free, but paying gives you a real edge. That’s why people often refer to these kinds of games as “pay-to-win”, since these games almost punish you for not buying any content. But not Path of Exile. Oh, no. It’s marvellous.

Image result for path of exileIf you started playing Path of Exile, your first reaction would probably be “Oh, this is like Diablo.”, and you’d be right. Like Diablo, you can pick your character from different classes. In this case, you have the usual three attributes: Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. There are seven characters available; three who specialise in just one attribute, three hybrids specialising in two attributes, and the Scion, who is a balance of all three.

People often get discouraged as soon as they see the skill tree in this game, thinking it’s too much to handle. Trust me, it isn’t. I don’t like complicated and convoluted things, and this is far less complicated than it looks. Each character has a starting point, with the Scion in the middle. In the case below, you see the Marauder (Strength) as a starting point. From there on out, every time you get a skill point, you can choose which direction you’d like to go with your character. Do you want to use a shield or not? Do you prefer a weapon in each hand or a two-handed weapon? You can find bonuses for all those things and mould you character as you see fit.

The story won’t blow you away, but it’s decent enough. It’s serviceable to progress the game. Each character has a slightly different back story as to why they have been exiled, but the principle remains the same. You have been exiled from your homeland Oriath and the ship you were on capsized, leaving you on the shores of Wraeclast where your story begins.

Graphically, the game looks very pretty. It has a nice style to it and a distinct aesthetic. Animations are fluent, combat effects are beautiful and the dynamic lighting brings environments to life. Rarely does it feel like the screen is cluttered with enemies or effects, allowing you to always keep a clear view of things. It’s also light on resources, allowing it to be played on “grandma’s old computer” too. The initial loading time is very long, I’ll admit, but once the game is beyond that, it plays smooth as silk.

Another thing I really like is that you’re playing by yourself for most of the game. Each of the three maps has a central hub; a small village or encampment. You only encounter other players in those encampments, where you can trade or talk to them if desired, so for most of the game you can play uninterrupted. You can also create a party with friends who will then join you once you are outside of an encampment, so it’s also a great co-op game.

In honesty, I can’t really say any truly bad things about this game. Its story is probably its weakest point, but truthfully, you won’t be playing it for its amazingly intricate storyline. Its strong gameplay is what’ll get you hooked. It took me around twenty hours at a leisurely pace to beat it, and it’s fun. So fun, that I jumped right back in after my first playthrough. I love the combat, I love the locations and the visual. Mostly, I love that this game looks, plays and feels like a game designed by a passionate team. It feels like it’s a full priced, retail game all for the low price of nothing at all.


Now what does this game do that makes it stand out over other free-to-play games (aside form great gameplay)? Pretty much every micro-transaction you can buy does not influence gameplay at all. The only thing you could consider having any actual use are more tabs in your chest, allowing you to store more items. To be honest, I never even filled up my chest, so I never felt that the standard space given was unfair. Everything else you can buy is purely cosmetic. Different weapon effects, skins for weapons and armour (not changing its stats!), pets, the ability to dance, and so on. No one has an edge. No pay-to-win.

I have played Diablo. Not every iteration, but the first one, Diablo III and its DLC: Reaper of Souls. I played Diablo III after I discovered Path of Exile and every step along the way I kept thinking of PoE and how I’d much rather play that than Diablo. I think that’s a testament to how great this game is. Best of all, it’s free, and how can you beat that?

(EDIT: Just an afterthought and little tip if you do decide to play this game. The game files are packed in a single 6GB file and when it updates (which it does regularly), it tends to get very fragmented. Especially after a few updates. Make sure you defragment your disk/folder regularly.)

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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 #020: 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 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. Anyways, 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 extremely interesting. 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 payed 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 at 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 play 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 of 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 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 amazing game. I loved the experience a lot. But I can understand why people dislike this game.

It has some issues with it’s 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 it’s own.

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

Score: 60 / 100