First Impression: Minecraft Story Mode (Android) ~ Tappin’ That Adventure, yo!

Minecraft_Story_Mode_Logo.pngOfficial website

Back in 2015, when I was at Minecon, I saw the trailer for Minecraft Story Mode. I actually attended the panel as well. And truth to be told, the game didn’t interest me at all. Which is really strange since I enjoy adventure games a whole lot, but this game didn’t grab my interest enough for me to put it onto my “to play” list. But in November 2016, I bought this game in a sale on the Android store. And now, I have to explain why it made it on the list of best games I played in 2016 as an honorable mention… So, let’s dive right into my first impressions of this game. When writing this article, I’m halfway into episode 4. There are 8 in total. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

This isn’t Minecraft!

Minecraft-Story-Mode-9-840x525.pngFor those wondering, I’m playing this game on my Asus ZenPad 8S. So, yeah. In any case, let’s talk about the story as spoiler free as possible.

At the start of the game, you get to choose how your character looks and the gender. Right after that, you are thrown into the game. In this game, you go to a building competition to decide who goes to EnderCon. But, it doesn’t take long before something horrible happens. A monster gets loose that tries to destroy the world.

Before I take a better look at the story, I have to say, that I find it sad that people bash the story and the game because “it isn’t Minecraft”.  Minecraft is a sandbox game, a game where you have full control of the situation. But that’s a rant for another time.

This story is made more interesting thanks to the subplots that are going on. Since for most of the story that big monster “takes a backseat”. The whole story is written pretty well in my opinion. I enjoy how the dynamic works between all the characters. And how each action you take, changes the dialogue of the game. And something I truly like is that at certain points, the story branches off. Like you could choose between two heroes you could save, and your start of the next episode would be totally different. But that’s to be expected with a TellTale game.

Something that makes the writing even more interesting to me is that the developers made an interesting attempt into trying to implement all the subcultures of Minecraft into one story. The Redstoners, YouTubers, Builders, Adventures… they are all present in some way in the game.

About the story, there is one thing that I think would improve the game, in my opinion, is a sort of skip button or speed up button. I think that would be a great option for people who are playing through an episode again.

Sit through this game

Minecraft-Story-Mode-51-840x525.pngSomething I saw other people be disappointed with is the fact that this game has way less gameplay than Minecraft. But, that isn’t a bad thing in my eyes. That isn’t the main focus of this game. The main focus of this game is to tell a story using the Minecraft setting and lore.

The gameplay is your typical adventure genre gameplay. It’s very close to point and click gameplay. So, the first gameplay element is the dialogues. You can choose between 5 dialogue options to react to a certain situation. The 5th option is pure silence. That isn’t available in every dialogue, but hey, it’s there. The only nitpick complaint I have with this is that in some cases, that time runs out way too quickly. By the time I have read the options, the time is nearly up and then I still have to decide which reply to go with. Thank you for the pause button at least!

The second element of gameplay is the exploration. I have to admit, I would have loved a bit more exploration in the game. The exploration parts are way to easy in my opinion. Yet, I can forgive the game for that, because you can beat various situations in different ways. This gives the game more replay value. You also solve puzzles in this game and so far, no puzzle has really stumped me. Maybe in the later episodes, I have some harder puzzles, but so far, I haven’t gotten stuck at all.

And the third gameplay element is the quick time events. Oh dear lord, the quick time events. I have nothing more to say that they are sometimes pretty annoying to play.

So, the final gameplay element is the combat. And I have to say, this isn’t great on Android. The combat is slow and when you miss an attack, you can’t attack again before the animation is finished. I don’t enjoy the combat sections very much.

The rest of the package.

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Now, let’s talk about the other parts of the game. First of all, the music and sound design. The music is good, but this soundtrack isn’t one I would listen to outside the game. It loses its charm without some visuals.

The sound design is pretty well done. Because most of the sounds are from the great sound design by C418 for Minecraft. So, no complaints there. Also, the sound packs way more punch when you play this game with a headset.

The voice acting in this game is pretty good. I have played this game once while I was on the train and I forgot my headset, and I truly missed the voices. Yeah, they are that good in my opinion.

Visually, this game is pretty good but not perfect. Maybe it has to do with my tablet, but sometimes things didn’t render for me. I remember one scene pretty well.The gang was feeling on horseback, and the horse for the main character didn’t render always. So, the main character was floating away. Apart from the very few creative liberties the designers took, the game looks like an adventure map built in Minecraft. And I have to applaud the designers for that!

The atmosphere and visual presentation of the different areas you visit are pretty great. There isn’t a place I would change or adjust.

So, I have to praise the controls for the most part in this game. I was afraid that this game would control pretty poorly on Android, but I was surprised. This game controls pretty great on my tablet. The only problems I had with the controls were during the quick time sections, but thankfully, I was able to redo those sections and not make my mistakes.

Oh, before I forget, there is something truly annoying in this game. The download speed for the episodes is just way too slow. At first, I thought it had to do with the download speed of my tablet, but no. I have tested it with various speed tests and downloading large files from the internet. It has to do with this game, I’m sure of it.

I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I have left for the review, but nothing that special. In any case, it’s time to wrap up this article up.

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

Review: Bioshock Infinite (PC) ~ Columbia High

162247_front.jpgOfficial website

At the end of last year, I took a look at BioShock. A game that started an amazing series. While there are rumors of a 4th game in the making; I’m pretty excited. Look up BioShock Advent if you want to read more rumors. But for now, I think it’s time to take a good look at the last game in the series. BioShock Infinite and the Burial At Sea DLC. Also, this is my opinion. I know that this game is seen as a masterpiece by many. So, yeah. I played this game right after I finished BioShock 2. (Which is a fun game in my opinion). I tried to avoid spoilers in this review, so if you haven’t played the game yet; don’t worry, this one is as spoiler-free as possible. In any case, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Pay off the debt

2013-08-03_00027.jpgIn this game, you play a man called Booker DeWitte. (Fun fact, when you translate this name from Dutch, it’s “TheWhite”). You are transported to a lighthouse to pay off your debt. When things go wrong, you suddenly end up in the city in the sky called Columbia, which is the Rapture in this game.

And that’s all I’m going to say in terms of the story. The story is one of the best-written stories in the BioShock series in my opinion. It stuck more with me than the previous games in the series. That’s because the interaction between the two main characters, Booker and Elizabeth, are just amazing.

To some people, the ending of this game is pretty confusing. I understand where they are coming from since the pacing in the end of this game isn’t that good. The last half hour of this game is a big exposition dump. It wraps up the story nicely, but when you don’t understand what they are saying… you get lost in the meaning of it all.

The story in the DLC, Burial At Sea, wraps up the trilogy nicely. Be warned, the plottwists in this game are extremely well done. You will get your money’s worth from the DLC’s.

The voice acting is pretty well done. I felt that the voice actors really loved to play their characters. This charm pulled me into the game even more. Even the voices for the enemy characters are pretty well done.

A side note for the people who loved the choice system from the first two BioShock games, there isn’t that much too choose in this game. So, be warned for that. This game has only one ending instead of various ones like in the first two games.

Same but different

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Plasmids return as vigors. Audio logs return as well but in more time appropiate. This game has a very similar vibe as the first two BioShock games but it stands on it’s own two legs as well.

Visually, this game is mind blowing. This game takes place in a very detailed city.

Each area is extremely well designed. This way, every fight feels different since there are so many options to take.

But what I really love in this game is the attention to detail. When you are at a point in the story you made Elizabeth mad, her expression shows that. Sometimes I even felt that she was a real person. It’s that well done in my opinion.

Each area you visit is varied and feels real. I didn’t notice many “this needs to be here since a player needs this to progress.” stuff.

The visual presentation and pacing of this game made the story come alive even more. When I hear a song of the soundtrack of this game, my mind wonders back to the city of Columbia and the memories I have playing this game.

Speaking of the soundtrack, this game uses various famous songs. Songs that were created in that time period. Anyways, the actual soundtrack to this game is very dynamic. In this game, you have sad songs and happy songs. Tense songs and scary songs. It all depends on the situation. There wasn’t any track I didn’t like.

Before I forget to mention this, I finished this game on normal difficulty. This game gave me a great challenge. When you die in this game, you loose money. And believe me, without money, you will have a very harsh time. The harder the difficulty, the more important money is.

There is also a challenge mode in this game. In this challenge mode you test your skills with this game. And the challenges it sets can be pretty tough and unique.

Almost there…

 bwbb_ONLINE_large._V376368071_.jpgThere are a few things I think this game could improve.

The controls of this game are pretty well done. They are very responsive and feel logical to use. But I have one issue with them. Why do you have to change the pick up buttons between the main game and the DLC? This is a real shame since it confused me an afwul lot when playing the DLC chapaters. When I’m used to press “E” to pick up items or loot… Why suddenly change it to “F” in the DLC chapters?

The menus in this game are pretty good, but some minor tweaks would have made them even better. When you have a list, there is no way to scroll up and/or down with your mouse. This is a shame, since this would have been useful. Also, when there is a list (like in the “Choose Chapter” option), there is no scroll bar. So, you have no idea where the list starts and where it ends.

One of the best features in the game is that Elizabeth searches for supplies during fights. This saved my skin serval times. But there is one nitpick that kind of ruins it for me. When Elizabeth wants to throw you something and the fight is over… You can’t receive it. I experienced this various times.

Also, there is only one autosave slot. This is a shame, but not a big deal in my opinion.

This one is a nitpick, but I really wish was possible. When you start an attack with your vigors, there is no way to stop the attack. So, if you use it at the wrong time, it’s lost energy for you.

In any case, this game is almost perfect but there are here and there some small issues. Issues that could be fixed with a patch. But I honestly think they shouldn’t be patched. Since this game is perfect with it’s minor annoyances. Since they don’t bother the experience of this game that much.

Anyways, it’s time for the conclusion of this review. Since I said everything I wanted to say about this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

-A few minor issues like no scroll bars or changing the controls slightly for the DLC’s are present.

The good:

+ Amazing story and voice acting.

+ Beautiful visuals.

+ Perfect attention to detail.

+ Fun gameplay with the vigors.

+ Enjoyable soundtrack

+ …

Verdict:

This game is a must play for people who like very story heavy shooters. This game has some amazing moments that will stick with me for a long time. I even boot this game up from time to time to play a random chapter. To try out a new strategy to finish the chapter.

This series and this game has me hooked. The praise this game gets is really well deserved. When this game hooks itself into you, it won’t let go.

I enjoyed myself with this game and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Anyways, I’m going to wrap up this review. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. Have a great rest of your day and I hope to welcome you another time on this blog! Take care and game on :).

Score: 99/100

First Impression: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) ~ So Close…

250px-Super_Mystery_Dungeon_EN_boxartOfficial site

I’m a big fan of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. I dare to say it’s one of my favorite Pokémon spin-offs ever made. A few weeks ago, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon released here in Europe and I have played it, but not yet finished it. Is this is good or a bad sign? Well, it’s time to take a look at this game. Since this game gets a very mixed reception. Is it a mediocre game or is it more then that? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Short game?

pokemon-super-mystery-dungeon-screenshot-05When I reviewed the previous 3DS entry, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity, I first wrote a rather lengthy rant about it. It had added a lot of features while cutting a few amazing ones. But thankfully, most of those are back in this game.

Something I applaud Nintendo and ChunSoft for in this game is that the personality quiz is back, but it’s optional. This is the perfect way of making both worlds happy. I loved the personality quiz and love to roleplay in the game. Yet, I do understand that some people don’t like it and want to play as their favorite Pokémon. So, now they can do that more easily.

The story of this game is rather interesting. The main plot is that Pokémon are turning into stone. But there is a big problem with the story. While that is going on, the story you play is the story of the main character. The story is something I’m happy and disappointed with at the same time. The writing is solid and the characters are memorable, but at the other hand, I feel that some story arcs don’t receive enough attention.

The biggest issue I have is that I get the impression that this game is pretty short. Notice the word “impression” here. Like in previous titles, this game shows the already defeated bosses on your file before you load it. I have still to defeat two bosses and I have put 14 hours into it.

The game has 20 chapters, I’m now at chapter 14. But, I haven’t done every quest and mission that there is in this game. So, the main story is rather short but the actual game is pretty lengthy. I have seen 70 out of the 720 Pokémon in the game. This means that the story doesn’t have too much filler story. Which is a shame in my eyes, but I see it appeal to some people. Just keep that in mind.

Less cuts

pokemon-super-mystery-dungeon-ss-2-enThis game is a hybrid between the DS and 3DS titles. The hunger system is back, but with a twist. When your belly is full and you eat perfect apples, you gain more health in that dungeon. Also, when you heal using a berry, your belly fills a little bit. Also, you can take multiple quests at once again. This was one of my biggest issues with the previous game.

But this game brings also some really nice features to the table. You can change your name mid game! Yes, when you named your ally, your ex-girlfriend’s name for example… You can change that.

Also, this game has a more expansive feel. In the middle of the game, you get access to Lapras. This Pokemon can take you to other islands. Each island is themed. Not only the dungeons, but the town accompanying it as well.

This game has the features the previous game should have had. I haven’t talked about every feature in this game, since that’s something you should discover yourself. I haven’t talked about the new party customization features or the special powerups you can have.

Anyways, the visuals in this game are pretty amazing. The world and the characters are quite colorful and the game gives off a happy and fun mood. But be warned, this game has a few moments that can pull at your emotional hart-strings. One of those moments happened on a pretty crowed public train. Yeah…

The worlds pop out and this game has pretty well done 3D effects. The animation is also pretty well done. I rarely encountered frame drops. This game runs pretty smooth alright.

Yet, so close…

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The biggest flaw in this game are the controls. Don’t get me wrong, this game controls pretty amazingly but they made some pretty awkward decisions for this game.

Some buttons have multiple functions. When you aren’t used to the controls, be prepared to make a couple of wrong moves.

One thing I’m quite on the fence about is the pushing mechanic. While this helps you move allies over a wonder tile when their stats have dropped, you can do that with leader switching feature. I don’t see a lot of use for the pushing mechanic. Also, it drains your belly quickly.

This game has a an amazing soundtrack. Some boss themes are slowly becoming my favorites. The soundeffects are quite good as well. Only minor issue is that when you use a team attack, it overpowers the music.

At the other hand, the menu design is quite well done. When you use your attacks, you can easily see which ones are going to be effective and which ones not.

The last thing I want to talk about is the AI in this game. The AI of your allies has some nice improvements. When there is an item in the room you are in, your ally is going to get it for you. Also, when you are low on HP, your ally can use it’s turn to heal you. This tweak is one of the best additions to the game.

So, this game is a big improvement over the previous 3DS entry. While the main story is rather short and some controls could use some polish… This game is a must have for every Pokémon fan!

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article here. while I haven’t said everything about this game I want to say… I have to leave something for the review. Otherwise, the review will sound like a copy paste of this article with some added parts.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m quite curious about your opinion of this game. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. Have a great rest of your day and until the next time! Game on~!

First Impression: Bioshock (PC – Steam) ~New DNA

BioshockBoxOfficial website

So, I have been through the usual “end of the year” articles. So, why did I pick this game? Does this game have a special reason to be the final article of 2015? Well, surprisingly enough, it actually has. If you follow my blog or know me in person, then you might know that I’m fascinated by stories that are about people staying people but getting superpowers. That’s one of the main reasons I love games like Majora’s Mask so much. Anyways, what’s the main mechanic in this game? Apart from the little sisters and their … ahum, big daddy’s? That are the plasmids. They allow you to attack your foes with electricity or fire. The concept is just amazing in my opinion. But back when it released, my computer couldn’t handle it. My CPU wasn’t strong enough but I had enough RAM. Then the game went a bit under the radar for me. I mostly got into adventure games like Broken Sword or RTS games like Age Of Empires series. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game. Since in this Christmas Sale of Steam, I finally bought the whole trilogy and the DLC. So, yeah. Enough stalling, let’s dive into Rapture! As usual, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Story – Two kinds of them

bioshock1So, in this game there are two kinds of stories. Depends on how you look at it. While the audio logs and the actual story of the game are kind of “one and the same”… I see them as two different stories. The audio logs are more a back story to the game. This is something I wished the game handled a bit better. I’m not saying that the audio logs or the story is bad. No, not at all. The main issue I have is that some dialogue of the audio tapes can overlap with the dialogue of the enemies. You could argue that you don’t listen to the audio tapes when you near enemies, but you can’t avoid that. But that isn’t a problem exclusive to the audio logs. I missed some story dialogue due to the enemies talking way too loud.

Because of this reason, I’m more fond of diary entries to build a world instead of audio tapes. While I’m a big story guy, I found myself skipping over the audio logs. The world of Rapture drew me in enough already. I wanted to fill in the backstory myself. Here and there I played an audio tape, but not every one of them. I think they were placed to close to each other and too many in one area. In nearly each and every section of the game, I recall finding 2-3 audio tapes.

The last thing I will say about the audio logs, is that you can re-listen to them. But, in some cases… It’s about something in the room. Or a hint how to continue in the game. Then the power of audio logs is lost since you aren’t in the right context anymore. (Unless you go back to the room you were in when you found the audio log.)

So, let’s talk about the actual story now, for what I have experienced (I’m mid-game), it’s a decent story. The build up is quite nice but I have to praise the voice actors for this game quite a lot. Since they did an amazing job creating this world. It’s one I get lost in.

Moral things

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Something I really like is that this game has quite the replay value. Since this game offers a moral choice system. Do you harvest the little sisters or not? If you harvest them, you can buy stronger perks. If you don’t harvest them, you get here and there some really handy perks. Both paths have some really nice rewards.

Currently, I’m saving the little sisters. It’s an interesting path really, but I wish that the story reflected it a bit more. At the moment you get the first choice, a guiding character is telling you to harvest it. But, after you save the girl… That character doesn’t change in personality.

Let’s talk about the visual aspect of this game. Because that’s something that’s in my opinion, it’s good. This game shows some traces of early HD textures. The biggest issue is some humans look strange. Like the hands of some characters, the fingers are two blocks. While the world design is quite nice to look at, some minor polish on the details would have been welcome.

 

Negatives?

bioshock-01Now that we are talking about the negatives in this game… Why is there a warning on some parts of the option menu that you will lose your progress? I have that never happen to me. This message made me paranoid the first time.

Also, there is no autosave in this game. Well, there is; after you finished a level. I have to manually save. But after playing this game for a little bit, you will get used to it. At least, I did.

Oh, some things are quite unfair. When I was looting a present left behind by the little sisters I saved, an enemy threw a bomb while I was in the menu to put a perk in one of my character slots. The menu closed and I lost the perk. I had to reload my save file. This issue happened to me twice.

One other minor complaint is that the map was a little bit at the confusing side for me. Mostly when you switch between floors in the same room… It gets confusing since you jump to another map.

Oh, and here is a minor annoying thing… You can’t skip the harvesting/free-ing of the little sisters. At least, I’m not able too.

The last complaint I have is that the elite Big Daddy’s are a tad bit overpowered. What I mean here is, when they back you into a corner… There is a big chance you get stuck. This issue can cost you your life. It’s also seriously annoying when you hypnotize a big daddy and it gets in your way.

In conclusion, this game is a very fun and enjoyable experience. While some parts could have been improved and would have benefited from some minor polish. I realize that I haven’t talked about everything this game has to offer; but I have to leave something for the people interested in the game and for my review.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you on another moment on my blog. Have a great end of the year and until 2016! Take care~:)

 

First Impression: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) ~ Zelda with a War.

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_Boxart

Official website

During my two week break, I got my hands on a Wii U. Honestly, it wasn’t really a break; I just didn’t had time due to various reasons. But let’s put that aside, since I think it’s time for a new article. Today, I’m going to give my first impression of one of the games I bought the Wii U for. Hyrule Warriors. It’s was so hard to not watch any video or read any review of it. Honestly, it paid off. The other games I bought are Zelda – Wind Waker HD and Bayonetta 1 & 2. Fun fact, when I told this to my buddy MiseryLC, he said: “Wow, I thought that those games were totally not your style.” Hehehehe. In any case, let’s begin with this article. As usual, feel free to write your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s a blast

maxresdefaultI expected a sort of hack-and-slash game. I got what I ordered. But what I didn’t expect was the amazing story.
Minor spoiler here,  but it feels like it’s the story about the big Hyrule war for the triforce that’s often mentioned in other Zelda stories.

While Nintendo published this game, the developers made sure to use the Zelda lore to its fullest extent. Koei Temco Games & Team Ninja used a lot of Zelda characters and none felt out of place for me. The new characters introduced could as well be Zelda characters, they are that good designed.

The voice acting of the narrator is a okay at best. I like my stories told with a bit more emotion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very  well done. What I really like about the game is that they didn’t give the Zelda characters voices. They used text boxes to tell the story. Very good job, since you didn’t disappoint the fans with possible badly chosen voices.

Also, when you buy the DLC for this game, it adds background stories to some characters. I haven’t played the DLC stories yet, but that will come soon. Since the game has it’s hooks in me. Since I bought my Wii U, I have played this game more then I like to admit.

Slash those enemies

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_57_Adventure_Mode_01The gameplay is easy to explain. You are in war with one or two other armies. You need to conquer keeps. You do that by first defeating the guards and then the keep boss. A keep spawns more allies. The more keeps you have, the better. In some scenarios, you have to avoid the death of some characters. This “defeat condition” made me seat on the edge of my chair various times.

The game uses some nasty tricks sometimes. When you think the character you need to protect is safe, a horde of enemies come and attack. Not only attack, but they charge towards the character you need to protect.

Various maps also have special situations that can occur. Like in Death Mountain, if you don’t conquer two keeps, the enemies throw rocks at your main base. When your main base gets destroyed, it’s game over. Same counts for the enemies. When you destroy their main base, it’s game over for them.

The only thing that they could improve on in the gameplay department is that the enemies might be a bit more intelligent or the allies for that matter. I encounter them sometimes just standing there. But truth to be told, writing code that would put AI to each and every enemy would be should a pain. You would think that the game is easy then. Well, if you keep paying attention and fight the right enemies or fight the right battles… this game isn’t that hard. Granted, I have only played on the normal difficulty now so I still have to play the “hard” difficulty.

In some other reviews I read a very valid point, this game can be repetitive. Honestly, it is. After a few hours, the game is repetitive… But I enjoy this game so much that I always want more fights and battles to play. So, I don’t mind the repetitiveness of this game.

Another complaint is that this game is a “mash buttons to win” game. Well, I have issues with that statement in general. The negative I see is that you have a way to win where there is no skill involved. But hey, using the combo’s makes a nice visual thingy too look at.

I want to talk more about the gameplay, but I will leave that up for the review when I finished the story mode and played a bit more of the other modes.

Is it good or is it great? 

maxresdefault (1)So, in the previous part, I touched upon the graphics of this game. And let me tell you, they are amazing. The areas you visit look colorful and/or have the right atmosphere. The battlefields are so well designed that the keeps are real strategic points that armies would use in a real life battle.

Apart from the game being eye candy, it’s really amazing how this game has such a fluent animation. Often, there is a lot going on, on screen but it rarely drops to a low framerate. And when it drops… It drops to 15-20 frames, which isn’t that bad. But in general, this game runs at a steady 60fps.

What blows my mind even more are the animations. There made me feel being a real bad-ass hero several times. I really like the combos you can pull off.

To wrap up, let me talk about the soundtrack. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. I adore the soundtrack of mainstream Zelda games and this game is no exception. The soundtrack is so well done, that I want to hunt down a CD of it.

So, I think I’m going to wrap up my first impressions here. I actually want to talk a lot more about this game but I’m leaving that for the review. And also, long time readers know that I often leave some parts out since I want that some parts are for you guys to figure out.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope to welcome you in at another article on my blog. But until then, take care and game on!

First Impression: Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Rip-off With A Twist

Giana-Sisters-reviewOfficial website

Sadly enough, my week off is nearly at an end. I enjoyed my time off quite a lot. But at the other hand, I did some work for my personal life. The consequence of that is that I could barely play games… But hey, I will have more time in the (near) future to write articles again. I also promised to write two articles this week. Perhaps three even. In any case, before I’m going to take a look to this title, first some small history lesson. This game is a spiritual successor to the original Giana Sisters. Why is it not the real sequel? Well, it’s more of a reboot of a controversial series. The original PC game was a Mario rip-off. It was called the Great Giana Sisters. I linked to a Wikipedia article that explains the gist of the history behind this game. When I saw this game on Steam (a while ago), I was impressed. I thought it would be a sort of HD remake. But it’s far from that. This is a reboot with new gameplay ideas, story and it’s own personality while not loosing the charm of the original. But what did I think of it…? Let’s find out, time to write a first impression after playing the first few levels. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Kickstarter

2015-10-11_00002Like a more famous game called Shovel Knight, this game started out on KickStarter too. From what I read, this game was actually a re-imaging of a remake that was made of the original Giana Sisters. Which makes this even more interesting, since the remake was released on my favorite platform of all time: Nintendo DS.

When I found this game on Steam, I was quite interested since it was different from what I played on the DS. In the DS game, it was more a sort of hard Mario-ish game with sisters instead of brothers.

The atmosphere was something else, the story was kind of basic… well, it was so similar to your typical Mario story it kinda hurts. But in my opinion, platformers like these have no real need of a story or can be excused when the story is rather at the generic side. Yet, the story in this game threw me off the hook. Like in the original, the story is barely explained. You had to make it out from the scenery and from the introduction cutscene. This left a lot open for the imagination of the player. How they did it, probably just good game design, the developers of this PC game made it work in Twisted Dreams.

The big twist here is that you can play as both sisters without having to depend on a power-up. In the original game, you had to find a candy hidden in a block (like a mushroom in Mario.) to change into the other sister that could shoot fireballs. Well, in this game, with a simple tap of the button… You change into the other sister.

Changing

2015-10-11_00001Changing in the other sister changes up the gameplay quite a lot. Not only the visuals change from bright & happy to dark & gloomy… The music changes and the whole atmosphere. I got the urge to try to look for a deeper meaning. If a game can pull this off, that means it’s drawing you in. Which is a damn good thing. I usually get easily bored of platformers. But when there is an interesting mechanic involved, well… That gets my attention.

Yet, there is a major flaw with this game and the are the keyboard controls. It might be a lot better on an usual QWERTY keyboard, but on an AZERTY keyboard it bugs out. The following issues I have with the keyboard controls:

  • The up arrow is JUMP. (Which is a crime in itself.)
  • The “W” key is to swirl around. On my keyboard that’s the “Z” key… Why display the “W” and confuse me?
  • A very handy feature to switch from sister to sister is missing from the keyboard controls. (It are the trigger buttons on a controller.)
  • The game showed the wrong buttons often. And what I mean here is that the tutorial showed how you can control the game with a controller…. While I was playing with a keyboard.

At first I thought, you weren’t able to change the controls. But it appears you can. You can change them from the splash screen. Kind of hidden, but okay… I might have gone off on a ramble there. In short, this game is best played with a controller.

The other stuff


2015-10-10_00001This game has two styles. This is a very interesting concept. From the games I have played, I haven’t seen many games do this. First let’s start with the visuals. This game looks very nice in my opinion. Both the colorful and dark side. It gives each sister their own personality. While I would have switched the styles around for the sisters… It works real well.

The level design is brutal in some areas. This gives the player a nice challenge. The developers where kind enough to not work with a life system but with a death counter. The amount of times you died, counts to your final score on that level.

Gameplay wise, this game is a platformer where you switch between two sisters. Each sister has her own abilities and uses. Sometimes you need to switch between the sisters to solve interesting puzzles.

This game has also a mindblowing soundtrack. It’s something I would seriously listen to from time to time. It’s catchy and melodic. I love how one song can sound so good in two different tones. (Like I said earlier, the music also changes when you switch between sisters.)

I would like to say a bit more about this game, but I’ll leave that up for the review. What I personally think of this game right now is that it’s an amazing game and that I can’t wait what they do for the sequel. But I truly hope that they don’t mess up the controls. If you like a platformer with some good challenge and an interesting switching mechanic, this game is right up you alley. I just hope that only AZERTY keyboards got this many issues with the controls… If I’m wrong, play this game with a controller, just to be on the safe side. Oh, and I reported the controls issues to the devs on the Steam forums. Who knows, maybe it’s fixed in a patch rendering my issues with the controls something of the past.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this first impression here. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you and another artilce. Also have an amazing rest of your day and game on~!

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: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Strangely Fun.

Fantasy_Life_box_artNintendo.com entry

I was very surprised that Level5 published a game like this. While I was silently hoping to a sequel of Professor Layton, or a spin-off, they published a game with similar graphical vibe. But don’t let it fool you, the fantasy and the life is quite different in this game. After playing 3-ish hours of it, it’s time to write an article about it since I’m quite enjoying myself. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Graphically Layton?

HNI_0029

Maybe it’s only me, but this game gave me a Professor Layton feeling. At least, on the surface. Possibly the used some assets from the Layton game. But hey, let’s not think about the biggest series this developer created, in this article we are talking about Fantasy Life.

This game must have been a nightmare to develop. Since all the different classes play differently. I’m quite curious if the overall story stays the same in the different classes. Also, the fact that you can change your class in mid game, is just mind-blowing and quite a risky move of Level5. I hope the game stays challenging and doesn’t make the mistake that The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds made. That game was also more free then other games, yet the difficulty curve was off.

While the story has some plottwists, I was able to see some coming. But I’m quite sure that to a child or a casual gamer, the plottwists might come more as a surprise. Overall, the writing is excellent. The characters can be a tad bit generic in some cases, but they are written so well that I had a few moments that made me smile, not only as a critic but also as a writer.

Quests

112518_3DS_FL_Character_UK_01

I was on the fence for buying this game. I actually had it pre-ordered but cancelled my pre-order since I lost interest in the game. But now that I gave it a chance, I was quite surprised. The gameplay is nothing what I expected. If you aren’t doing a story quest, you can roam around freely and solve people’s daily needs.

The quest system, while quite fun, isn’t 100% perfect. Sometimes quite important information isn’t in the quest log, the quest log is out of order and you can’t have a map where all the accepted quests are located. The quest logging could have been done better in my opinion. While I’m beating it, I’ll surely try out all features of the quest log. Maybe I’m overlooking some things and bashing it, while it’s not needed at all.

You have three sorts of quests. Each give you a different reward. From dosh (currency) to stars (allow you to grow in your class) and bliss (expand the game.). The different quests yield so many different yet satisfying rewards that I explore the world in quite more depth then I usually would. Then my coin dropped. (Dutch expression for releasing something.) This was totally the designers intention to help you explore the world. It’s quite deep honestly. Apart from some aspects that is.

At the moment of writing, I’m in the magic class. They actually passed on a great oppertunity for the magic combat. When you use fire attacks on forest mobs, they don’t increase the damage. Also, your mana replenishes so slow, it’s painful. And the quite expensive potions only give you 10 mana back. Yup, only 10 mana. And the free water bottles you pick up, give 5. That’s so not enough!

So, the magician is long ranged combat. What I love about this game is that the target system works so nicely. I can easily circle around my enemy while trying to defeat it. If only there was an easier way to switch weapons. It would have been less of a pain when I would have been able to quickly switch to my dagger if my mana ran out.

Gamesystems

02_b8sw

In the last section of this article, I want to talk about the overall game. I can’t judge on the box and such, since I own this game thanks to the eShop.

The game controls quite fine. While I sometimes have the impression that they switched some buttons around from similar games, I can easily adjust.

Graphically, this game is just amazing. This game gave my impressions of Professor Layton, while it’s really nothing similar. The look, the animation, color pallet and level design is just really well done. Maybe they should have planned out the shops a bit better. Like the furniture shop closer to the wallpaper and flooring shop. Also, why can’t I sell furniture?  I bought by accident two items when I needed one. -sigh-

Something I would have done differently is the icons on the touch screen. They take up quite a bit of space on the map. While it’s not a big deal, I honestly don’t like various icons on my map. I would have made a bar at the bottom of the touch screen with the buttons on it. That would have been way easier to organize. Speaking about the map mode, it’s quite handy. I can safely say that it helped me out of some tricky situations. It’s clear and you can’t get lost thanks to it. If only you were able to have an overview map. Since if you tap on the map button, you get an overview of the map of the whole game. Thankfully there are buttons to quick travel.

Anyways, I’m nearing my usual article limit. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. I still have quite a lot to talk about, but I will keep that for my review if I beat this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can honestly recommend this game to you. Also, feel free to drop by on a later date! I try to publish an article each week. So, maybe until next week.

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?

2015-03-09_00001

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

2015-03-08_00002

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.

BSP S3E14: is digital gaming bad for the industry?

http://thebuttonsmashers.com/2014/07/bsp-s3e14-is-digital-gaming-bad-for-the-industry/

This is the season finally of the Button Smashers Podcast, and as such we have taken the time to explain the changes that will come in the upcoming season. I was lucky enough to have the company of  Neko who’s article is the basis of the main topic on this episode. During this podcast we both took different sides on the debate about whether digital games are good or bad for the industry. So as always click that play button, leave a comment and enjoy.

Link to shadowgun: Deadzone: Link (mentioned during this episode)