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Review: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) ~ Let’s Play A Ghostly Game, Shall We?

Official Nintendo subsite

I have to admit that this year was an extremely crazy year in terms of games for me. So many amazing games have been released and still have to release. When I reviewed Death Mark last year, I was extremely hyped when I learned that a sequel was in development called NG. It was extremely difficult to find even a shred of information about this game since the abbreviation NG stands for various things like a name to companies. In any case, I didn’t have high hopes that this game was coming to the west. Image my surprise when I saw this game in the “Coming Soon” section of the Nintendo Switch eShop. I patiently waited until the release date and when the release date came, I bought it during my break and let it download while I was at work so I could play it right away when I came home. Now, was it worth it? Is this game as good as the previous game or should you skip this game? Let’s take a look at this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s play a Ghostly Game, shall we?

This game is the 2nd game in the Spirit Hunter series. The first game was Death Mark. This game isn’t a sequel of that game nor is it a continuation. This game just takes the whole gameplay concept and puts it into a new story and setting.

The story of this game is quite interesting. You play as the protagonist, that you can name yourself. His mother died a few years prior to this game and now he is living alone. His aunt took him in. She is a horror novel author and she runs a bar on the side. Her daughter became quite good friends with the protagonist. One evening, the protagonist finds a black postcard at his doorstep inviting him to play a game with a Princess. He simply ignores this because he thinks that it’s a simple prank.

But, that’s a mistake he is going to regret since not too long after he encounters his first ghost. After that, a ghost kidnaps his cousin and invites him to play a game. If he doesn’t play along, the curse will kill him.

Now, if you have played Death Mark, the curse works quite similar to the Death Mark of the original game. This curse is a sort of time limit in which you have to solve the case of the spirit you have to defeat or purify. Unlike the previous game, the protagonist doesn’t have one evening to deal with the spirit, but he has a bit more time.

While I would love to tell you more about the story of this game, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Since the story is that more enjoyable the less you know in advance. The twists and turns of the story are just amazing. The writing, the jokes, the pacing, the horror… everything comes together quite nicely in this game and I’m bumped out that I have finished this game.

There are some mechanics in this game that even give some replay value to this game. Now that I have finished this game, I want to replay this game and take it in a totally different direction to see where I end up.

This game has some minor Japanese voice acting as well. This isn’t overused at all and it’s used to add some punch to certain dialogues. The voice acting itself is done quite well, the voice acting of the ghosts are personally my favorites. The creepy effects and distortion the developers added to the voice acting is just amazing.

The slider of spooks

An extremely nice feature is the different modes you can play the game in. Like Death Mark, this game contains some jump scares and spooks. They are extremely well crafted and in most cases fit the story nicely. Also, they trigger when you investigate certain sections so it’s quite possible to miss multiple spooks. Some spooks mess with the text or the screen instead of a ghost popping up.

These different modes affect the amount of jump scares and spooks that happen. When you dislike these spooks or jumps scares, you can tone them down and even turn them off completely. I played through this game with all the jump scares intact and I have to say that it added quite a lot to the atmosphere of this game.

The atmosphere is quite creepy, to begin with. The writing draws you into the game and the amazing artwork and illustrations make the world come alive. There isn’t a lot in terms of animations but the beautiful artwork more than makes up for it. For example, the artwork of some death scenes is just extremely well done.

The character portraits, the design of the spirits, the design of the environments… It’s clear that quite a lot of thought and detail has been put into it. I’m quite thankful that the developers added a button to hid the on-screen UI to take screenshots of those amazing scenes to make them even more memorable.

Something that I find a tad bit irritating was the decision to make the “L” button the skip dialogue option. I think that another button like one of the arrow keys on the D-pad would have worked better. Since I can’t count on my two hands anymore the number of times I accidentally pressed the button and skipped a bit of the text. Thankfully, there is an easy way to bring up the log and you can re-read what you skipped.

Everything goes in that log that appears on the screen. From you trying to use an item to decisions you have to make. For some reason, I wasn’t always able to bring up this log easily. In most cases when the log refused to open, I was trying to investigate something. So, quickly going out of investigation mode was the solution.

Speaking of this mode, this is the only mode that allows you to save your game. You are unable to access the save menu while in a dialogue section. Thankfully, the dialogues aren’t Corpse Party Blood Drive long, so an investigation section can be right up the corner.

One thing that I found a real shame is some minor bugs in the UI of the options menu. In one option, the text overflows its checkbox and in another option, they forgot to remove a character at the end of the description. These are minor mistakes that can easily be patched out.

Gameplay-wise, this game is quite addictive. You have to explore the different area’s to either purify or destroy the spirit haunting the place. In order to do this, you explore at night with a partner and search for different subsections of this area.

You explore parts of a town, an office building, and various other locations. You search these locations for clues and items to learn more about the spirit and try and defeat/purify them. The better you explore and investigate the area, the more information you have in the fight with the spirit. If you have played Death Mark, you will feel right at home since it looks quite similar.

I found the gameplay of this game quite addictive. I wanted to keep playing and experience the story to it’s a full conclusion. And yes, now that I have beaten the game, I’m considering playing through the whole game again and trying to take a different route to see where it leads me. I know that this game has multiple endings, but I would love to see how much endings there are.

One extremely welcome improvement over Death Mark I have to mention is that when you want to swap partners, you can do that more easily now. You don’t have to go the whole way back to the mansion, you can easily go to the start of the place you are searching and ask the person directly.

Think quick!

There are some more things to do in this game compared to Death Mark. The items you choose still decide the outcome of purification of the spirit of destruction, but there are more things that matter now. Speaking about that in more detail would spoil certain story sections.

The whole spirit fighting mechanic has been reworked. Now, you don’t have to combine items anymore to attack the spirit, but you have to use your items in the area and analyze the situation. I love these spirits fights a whole lot more compared to Death Mark. The improvements these fights bring to the table are just amazing. It brings a bit more challenge to the table.

On top of that, there are now 2 styles of quick decision-making sections. Both work extremely similar and have the same outcome when you fail. A Game Over. One of these styles is a crisis choice, as you can see in the screenshot in this section of the article. Like Death Mark, the “1000” ticks down as soon as you are able to make a selection. Unlike Death Mark, you can’t find charms to increase this time and it also resets back to 100 each and every time you encounter that section.

Now, this game is quite lengthy. To beat the game, you will need to put give or take 20 hours aside. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that this game is somewhat replayable due to the “emotional reaction system”. Now, you can react with different emotions in certain sections. I have no idea if this makes a difference to the story. But, I have tried it one and it makes the characters react quite differently.

Something that does matter is during some sections you have to make harsh decisions that affect the story to a big degree. I wish I could talk about them, but that would spoil the big parts of the story and that’s something I’m trying to avoid in this review.

Another interesting game mechanic is the “D-Man”. This strange man texts you riddles that you can solve to find cards. These cards contain throwbacks to the previous game or add to the lore of the game. These are a joy to read but contain some spoilers of the previous game. Thankfully, only about the DLC bonus case, so it isn’t THAT bad. Now, the search for these cards works in a very unique way. As soon as you get the text, you have to look around in the area you are in. As soon as you exit the area, you will be unable to search for that card again. You’ll also lose the items you obtained and needed to find the said card. So, be careful.

An easy question to ask is, how difficult is this game? Well, this game is tricky. There are some sections that took me several attempts. In most cases, it was because I overlooked one item or didn’t check my area thoroughly enough. Thankfully, the game is quite forgiving with checkpoints and when you fail a crisis choice or spirit encounter, you can easily restart the whole fight by selecting the wanted option in the “Game Over” menu.

One of the biggest mistakes in this game is the save system in my opinion. I feel that it’s a downgrade compared to the system of Death Mark. There is no autosave, there are fewer save slots and there is less information on the save/load screen compared to the previous game. This is something I wish that will be improved in the possible sequel. Yes, a sequel has been sort of announced/confirmed. You can read more information on the article that Gematsu published a month ago.

The controls of this game are quite simple. They are easy to grasp and master. The only minor thing is that in some areas the spotlight isn’t bright enough to see where the spotlight is on the background art. Thankfully, this happens in only a few places, so it isn’t THAT bad.

Something I’m a bit mixed about is that this game doesn’t have a lot of music. Most of the music is also re-used from the previous game or sounds extremely similar. The music is amazing in this game and I wish I able to buy the soundtrack somewhere. Since I want to add this soundtrack to my music library when I’m relaxing or writing other articles.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I have left out a few things so they can be surprised at you when you play this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article, don’t you think?

Conclusion

The bad:
-Some minor UI elements that could easily be fixed.

-The save feature could have been expanded quite a bit.
The good:

+ Amazing writing and story.

+ Great visuals.

+ The ability to disable the jump scares if you dislike them.

+ Great challenging puzzles

+ ….
Final thoughts:
This game is quite an improvement over Death Mark. Last year, Death Mark was one of my favorite games of 2018. This game is one of my favorite games of this year. This game is the perfect game to play during Halloween. I can’t recommend this game enough for fans of Death Mark, fans of horror games and fans of visual novels. I would even recommend this game to fans of adventure games.

This game is one of the best visual novels I have played in a while. And it’s up to high competition like Ai: Somnium Files. This will be quite interesting in my “Top 10 Games of 2019”. Take it from me, give this game a try. Because it’s totally worth playing and experiencing this game.

Of course, this game has some shortcomings like the bare bones save system and some minor annoyances with the controls but these are easily overlooked and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game too much or even at all.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this game 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!

Score: 100/100

Review: Kirby – Planet Robobot (3DS) ~ Kirby Goes High-tech!

kirby_planet_robobot_box_art.jpgOfficial website

Last week, when I was working on the review of Kirby Epic Yarn, I have beaten the newest Kirby game called Kirby Planet Robobot. So, I thought, why not review it. Two Kirby reviews in a row, why not? This game is the 14th main installment in the Kirby series. It’s based on the engine of the previous Kirby game on 3DS called Kirby Triple Deluxe. A game I’m planning to review soon too. In any case, I’m getting off topic. Time to dive into this high-tech Kirby game and let’s see what it’s made off. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on this game and/or the content of this article.

No different planet

Screenshot (56)In this game, Kirby’s home planet gets attacked robots. In contrast to the title of this game, Kirby doesn’t travel to a different planet.

In this entry, the story is a bit disappointing. I’m not saying it’s badly written. It’s badly paced. Apart from the opening scene and some dialogue in some boss fights, the actual story opens up right at the final boss of the game. This is a huge let down in my eyes. Since it feels absent and felt forced into the game. So, there was a lot of missed potential with this game!

Also, you will miss some jokes if you aren’t familiar with the Kirby games. If you don’t know who is who in the Kirby series… Well, some dialogue before the boss fights won’t make a lot of sense.

This game consists out of 6 worlds. Yes, only 6 worlds. Well, six and a half. Since there is a world 7, but that’s the world for the final boss fight. This game is very short in my opinion. I was able to beat this game in under a week. While the Kirby games are known for being easy platformers that kids can get into, this game provided almost no challenge. Also, normally a Kirby game has 7,5 – 8 worlds. I feel that some content is cut here.

The challenge came from trying to collect all the tech cubes. While some are pretty well hidden, others are in plain sight and easy to grab. And when you grab one or two cubes in each level, you are able to get to the final boss.

Speaking of which, I found it quite annoying you were unable to see how many cubes you had to collect in order to open the boss door. You were able to see it when you were right in front of it.

The gameplay in this game is quite similar to Kirby Triple Deluxe with a few changes. Instead of the Super Nova Kirby, you have a Tech Kirby. Kirby that rides a huge enemy robot. In some levels, there is another style of gameplay. When Tech Kirby acquires the Jet power-up, you can fly away and play a sort of side-scrolling shooters. These levels were the most fun in my eyes.

Potential

Kirby-Planet-Robobot-1Like I said previously, the gameplay is quite similar to Kirby Triple Deluxe. So, that means that this game has quite similar controls.

I liked the controls of that game, so I found no issues with the controls of this game. Well, no major issues.

I found the copy ability of Tech Kirby quite annoying to use. You had to stand a certain distance in order for you to copy their ability. That’s the biggest issue I had to with the controls.

Another issue I had with this game is when you sucked up two enemies from which you can copy the ability. In almost every previous Kirby game you got a random power. That random power could also be a different one than the ones you inhaled. In this game, that doesn’t happen. From what I have seen, this game picks the first enemy you inhaled.

The visual presentation of this game is amazing. In this game, you play on Kirby’s home planet that’s invaded by robotic creatures. So, you get a planet where technology is slowly creeping in. And the presentation shows that nicely.

The animation in this game is high quality as well. Not only the animation of the enemies, bosses and everything in the foreground. The animation on the background visuals makes the world come alive and feels real.

Tech Cubes

311314f77344b842a6c28d9415ae7dd2The soundtrack of this game is amazing. With familiar and new tracks, this soundtrack is one I might add to my library.

The sound design is amazing as well. Because I played most of this game on the train to work, I played this game with headphones on. And it helped to pull me into this game.

The UI is quite well designed in my opinion. I have only one minor nitpick. That’s that there is a useless button on the touch screen. That is: “Drop ability.” Since the X-button does the same thing. You use the other buttons anyways, so why tap the button on the touch screen?

Another minor issue is the steps you need to take in order to return to the mode selection screen. When you are in a level, you have to press start 3 times before you are back. A simple pause menu might have solved this.

The mini-games in this game is a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun to play, but there is so much missed potential. Both of them are quite short and can be beaten in a half hour. I hope that they expand on the mini-games like they did with the ones of Kirby Triple Deluxe.

Something I’m on the edge about is the stickers. You can collect them throughout your adventure. And you can collect each sticker twice. When you collect a sticker in a level, you don’t know which one it is. It will get revealed after you have beaten the level. You can also stick them on Tech Kirby’s robot. So, those sides change in cutscenes. This is a real nice idea. But it’s all for show. There is no gain to it. There are some people who like that.

After you have beaten this game, you get similar rewards than in Kirby Triple Deluxe. You can run through a remixed version of the Kirby with Mecha Knight and you open up an arena.

The arena is just a boss rush mode. I got bored of it rather quickly. But I loved the Mecha Knight mode. Since it provides a bit more challenge to the gameplay.

The two new copy abilities in this game are doctor and ESP. While I found them fun to use, I didn’t use them during boss fights. Since I found them difficult to control in tight situations and didn’t fit my playstyle at all.

In any case, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, it’s time to wrap this review up and head to the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The good

+ The Tech Kirby was fun to play with.

+ Amazing presentation.

+ Fun mini-games.

+ Great soundtrack and sound design!

The bad:

-Some repetition in the levels.

-Way too short. Both the main campaign and the mini-games.

-Stickers are underused.

-Tech Cubes and opening the boss door…

-Lacks some minor polish in the UI and controls.

Final thoughts:

This game is fun to play and provides some quality entertainment but it’s isn’t the best game I have played all year. I have played a better Kirby game on the 3DS, called Kirby Triple Deluxe.

This game is fun in short bursts. It’s perfect when you are on the bus or waiting for something.

There is a lot of missed potential with this game in my eyes. There could have been a lot more to this game. I could expand on this, but the start of these final thoughts have explained it all pretty well.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day! Take care~!

Score: 70/100

First Impression: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (PC – Steam) ~ Mediocre Adventures

The_Testament_of_Sherlock_Holmes_cover

Read my new creepypasta here. I let it publish on a friend’s Tumblr.

Note: I’ll publish the creepypasta in a few days here.

Page on official website

I recognize mediocre games as soon as I play them. This game had a lot of promise when I watched the trailer. Yet, this game falls flat on it’s face in some departments. While I’m mid-way through the game, this game has some charm for me in order to keep playing it. In this article I’ll talk about what the game does right and what it is wrong. I did play the Steam version of this game. I’m surprised that there are also XBOX360 and PS3 versions made of this game. The adventure / point and click genre’s home is on the PC, DS, Wii and portable devices. Not the XBOX360 and PS3. But that’s a rant for another day. Let’s dive right into this “meh”-fest. Feel free to leave a comment what you think of this game and or this first impression. 

Laughable animation

images

IGN gave this game a 8. Honestly, I think this game doesn’t really deserve that. One reason is the animation. For a game released by FrogWare, who has a good catalog of adventure games, the animation is just bad.

To explain my point, when a lady needs to get out of her chair to get the prison director, the fade to black and then they show an animation of the woman walking through the door. Hold on a moment here, did she just magically teleport?

Also, when I needed to sound an alarm, the arm didn’t even visibly move towards it before I got the reply of Watson that the alarm was busted.

The running animation is just pretty lame. It’s more like a walking really fast with waving your arms back and forth. With bend arms.

And something I saw just recently, before I went back to studying for my college exam is the lazy scene where you need to let a cart roll towards a broken bridge so the cart can connect the bridge back together. The cart wasn’t properly on the bridge but Holmes didn’t care, he walked right over it as if it were solid. And when the animation of Holmes dropping down needed to happen, they go to your point of view.

While this game has some interesting visuals, these visuals aren’t great. For a game released just last September, the visuals could have been a whole lot nicer. Compared to more recent games, this game’s visuals are just running a bit behind.

In conclusion, I think that the visuals and animation are the big weak point of this game. It’s one of the biggest things annoying me in this game. Maybe the quality might improve near the end. And if it does, I will surely mention it when I decide to write a review about it.

Only bad thing?

the-testament-of-sherlock-holmes-reviewIt might look that I’m ripping this game a new one. And I kind of am. I’m a big fan of this game’s genre. The Broken Sword series is my absolute favorite. But something this game tried, but failed at, are it’s controls.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. They controls are interesting. And the ability to switch between three modes is an amazing idea. But here on the PC guys, we have a mouse. Which gives us an arrow. Please use that instead of indicating hotspots for us. It kinda kills the feeling of freedom.

The mouse is used in another way. You can cancel with the right mouse button. Now that’s something neat. But why did it have to be cancel? Why couldn’t it be the button used for secondary features in puzzles, like turning a piece of paper.

Another thing that annoyed me is that you have the 6th sense. It’s your hint system. But it doesn’t really work that well. It only shows hotspots you haven’t interacted with when they are inside the screen area. I personally think this could have been implemented better.

One of the last points that made my irritation feelings rise is the stupid tracking AI. They move so much slower then you do which makes you sometimes being stuck inside a doorway. Yeah. Let’s not mention the extremely linear paths and the invisible walls. Otherwise the developers had to make more animations. Oh my God! The thought.

Not crap though.

TheTestamentOfSherlockHolmes_0001When you can look past the things I mentioned above, the game is actually pretty neat.

With charming voice acting and a great plot, this game caught my interested. You truly solve a crime the old fashioned way. You don’t have any gadgets that aid yourself to solve the crime.

The tutorial starts with a small case of a stolen necklace. You find it but moments later, you get tangled up in a new big case. A bishop has been murdered. Quite cruelly. And the game got rightfully it’s 16+ mark for that. Yet, from what I have seen now, 12+ could have worked as well.

The story is thrilling and with well done music and nice soundwork, this game is a pretty neat run. What I really like are the puzzles. They are fun. While they aren’t really unique, they are self-explanatory. Apart from the chemical analysis, I do think that this game works.

A minor flaw which the developers can still patch out is the freezing / frame drops whenever the autosave is saving or when you solve a puzzle. But after a small while you get used to it, so it doesn’t bother me that much.

The fact that this game has auto-saving is already quite great. And it doesn’t save over your last auto-save. Oh no, it saves in a new file so you can easily go back to earlier spots to get the achievements. Nice move guys.

There are various achievements, which makes the replay value have … well some value. Adventure games have actually zero replay value. Unless you really like the story, gameplay or something in the game. For me it’s the style of the story. It’s interesting and it’s a great introduction to the series. It’s the 6th game in the series. And looking into it, the last game wasn’t well received. This game gets better reviews so that’s a good thing.

So, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article and the creepypasta I added at the top. I promised my friend Inunah for a long time a creepypasta exclusive for her nice creepypasta tumblr. And I wrote “Player 2 is missing.” for her. Anyways, I think that’s everything for this article. I hope to catch you another time. And take care.~