Tag Archives: horror

First Impression: Project Zero 2 – The Crimson Butterfly (PS2) ~ A Sisterly Bond

Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly

Wikipedia entry

Ah Fatal Frame, a series I found quite interesting when I was a little child but fell in love with a few years ago when I was able to get my hands on a collector’s edition of the Wii U entry in the series. It was the 5th entry in the series and I loved it so much, I started to hunt down all the other entries in the series. Last year, I was able to get myself all the European released games on PS2, in a physical copy! While testing them out,  enjoyed myself quite a lot with Fatal Frame 2. So, I kept playing that game. It’s no secret that I enjoyed myself with this game since I gave a spot on my top 10 games I played in 2018. So what are my actual opinions on this game? Well, let’s find out! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

PS: The article was originally going to be publish on this Sunday, but because today is my 26th birthday, I decided to publish it today as a birthday special.

A sisterly bond

fatal frame II screenshot 2The story starts out with two sisters running around in the forest playing. Suddenly, the pass a stone and it looks like the duo entered another dimension. The two get terrified that there is no easy way out and even worse, the two split up. Not willing, mind you. One of the two sisters get mesmerized with a crimson butterfly that she keeps following.

So, you need to go look for your sister in a creepy and haunted town while you need to escape ghosts and try to find an exit of the city. The setting for this horror game is excellent. The voice acting in this game is really well done, the voices of the two sisters is excellent. I also loved the performances of the ghosts since they kept me on the edge of my seat in certain battles.

The story is mostly told through notes, cutscenes and the environment.  There are moments you are together with your sister and there are moments she sees that damned butterfly again.  She really likes these red butterflies. Now, the story so far has been quite enjoyable. While sometimes I feel that the story is mostly used to string levels and area’s together, it’s executed extremely well. I really felt that something strange was happening and that there were higher powers at play.

Now, I am quite curious where the story of this game will go. The mysteries are getting unrevealed slowly but I still don’t have any answers. Now, do you need to play the first game before you can understand the story of the 2nd game? Well, not at all. The story is totally independent from the first game, while a lot of story mechanics return in the second game, all the characters are new.

Also, I haven’t beaten the original game myself. Now, you might wonder why I have chosen to play this game on the PS2 and not go for the director cut on the XBOX or Wii. That has two reasons. One, I don’t own an XBOX and two, the physical copy of the Wii game is extremely expensive. Now, when I was finishing up this review, I discovered that the game got released on the Nintendo eShop, so I bought myself a digital copy.

Anyways, we are getting off track here. The story itself is interesting. It’s two fold actually. In one part, it’s about how to escape the village and in another part, it’s about saving your sister. So, I have the impression that this game has multiple endings. But, I have to beat the game to know that for sure!

Spooky Camera

project_zero_2-6Because this is a Fatal Frame game, the Camera Obscura shows itself again. If you have played any other games in the series, you know how this game plays. In this game, you have to explore an area that’s filled with ghosts. Some ghosts aren’t hostile but the most of them are hostile. In order to defeat the ghosts, you have to take pictures of the ghosts. The better they are in frame, the more damage they receive. The damage also depends on the film you use. There is an aspect of survival horror to this game since the amount of film isn’t infinite. The stronger films are really hard to find and quite rare.

Combat in this game is an awkward dance with the ghosts. You have to come close to snap a good picture. But, if they are too close, they can grab you and you get damage. So, you have to move backwards. Now, the camera you use is quite old. So, it needs to recharge after each use. You have audio and visual cues to see when the camera is recharging.

To be honest, I found the combat controls better in the Wii U game I played. In my review of Resident Evil 4, I mentioned that I had difficulty with aiming my gun on the PlayStation 2. The same thing applies here. So, each play session, I have to get used to the controls. It doesn’t take too long, but it makes me miss the Wii U controls. Maybe when I play the Wii version, I won’t have this issue too much.

Now, this game doesn’t have an autosave. Much like Resident Evil 4, you can save at certain locations. In this game, it’s a red lantern on a pedestal. You have a limited amount of save slots, but that doesn’t bother me too much since it helps me to get more points. Side note, there is an improvement over the save system of Resident Evil since there is a small picture accompanying the save file.

Yes, the better the image, the higher the points you get. These points can be used to upgrade your camera. Upgrades like shutter speed or damage output. You can also find upgrades in various, sometimes hidden, locations to get certain things up to a higher level. There is a safer way in earning points as well. If you are able to make a picture of the scripted harmless ghosts, you get some bonus points. So, it’s highly advised to explore around and not go to solve the puzzles straight away.

Oh yes, this game has puzzles. Some of the puzzles require you to analyze a photograph and try to work out where it came from. Other puzzles require you to find a certain key item to open a door or to lift a curse on a door in order to progress.

Like a lot of other survival horror games, this game also suffers from some jump scares. Now, I find the build up to the jump scares pretty good. Most of the jump scares happen a bit off screen when you haven’t encountered a ghost for a while. In the Wii U game, the jump scares were way worse. Also, it’s quite possible to miss some jump scares if you didn’t explore certain areas of the room.

Exploring the city and the buildings is made much easier with a great map system. The map draws itself while you are exploring. The area only adds itself when the area is discovered. Also, when a door is locked, the door isn’t shown in blue but in red. Now, if you unlock a door when solving a puzzle that is somewhere else on the map, I don’t know for sure if the door also changes to blue. Since, to be honest, I haven’t paid attention to that.

There are a few additional things to the combat and gameplay I’m going to keep a secret for this article. The only thing I’ll say about it is that there is a combo system and a few other features. The camera is used in so many different unique and creative ways, it keeps the mechanic from being repetitive.

 Atmosphere in the dark

fatal frame II screenshotThis game is totally worth to wear the title of horror game. The atmosphere of the game is done extremely well. While this game first released on the PS, this game still looks amazing to this day. Some models and textures do show their age, but the lighting and visual design gives an extremely creepy atmosphere. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during most of my play sessions. I even went as far as closing the curtains of my room or to play this game at night with a good pair of headphones and in the dark. Only the dim glow of my darkened LCD television to keep me company.

I have played this game without and with my headset on. I found the game better when I played with a headset or with a good sound system. I wouldn’t listen to most of the soundtrack outside of the game but in the game, it helps to build the scary atmosphere so well. Some tracks sound like wind blowing through the room or that something is chasing and/or following you. Together with the amazing sound design of the ghosts, this game is just creepy.

The ghosts don’t sound either human nor other worldly. This is especially creepy because the ghosts moan and speak in Japanese. Well, most of them speak Japanese. Some ghosts also speak English and hearing that suddenly makes it even more creepy. They even managed to make picking up items scary with playing an animation and a creepy sound effect each time when you reach down to pick up an item. You also never know what the item will be since it’s a glowing white orb on the ground. It’s also possible to find some items in various drawers and house hold items. So, explore away!

Now, the bulk of the story is told through the locations you visit. There are some cut scenes where somethings are explained, but the visuals help to tell the story. There are also some moments where you find a stone that tells some additional story to flesh out the story even more. Earlier in this first impression, I talked about how the two sisters entered a cursed village and they are trying to find their way out. In this game you explore various locations. From a graveyard to a scary forest. You also explore various typical Japanese homes to a big shrine. While I was exploring, I really felt I was exploring an abandoned haunted village. The realism and attention for detail in the visual presentation is amazing.

Something I really want to praise this game for is that lighting. The lighting in this game is one of the strongest points. Of course, the game takes place during the night. It’s never light outside. At least, so far. I haven’t finished the game after all. The various candles littered around the village help to sell the atmosphere even more. The flashlight that you can control with one of the joysticks of the PS controller works flawlessly.

So, I think it’s quite clear that the atmosphere of this game is solid. When you want to play a good horror game, I highly recommend this game. The game also provides you with some good challenges. From tricky ghost encounters to clever puzzles. Now, you can run away from the ghosts, but you’ll lose points. And if you don’t get enough points, you might not be able to defeat certain bosses easily. Since, points = upgrades.

The controls is something that some people don’t like about this game. Personally, I got used to them after a while. I already talked about the struggle I had with the aiming of the camera. But, that also helps in the immersion department in a way. Remember, you are playing as a young Japanese girl trapped in a cursed village looking for your sister and a way to escape. Of course, you are scared and you are looking frantically for a way to defend yourself.

I’m almost forgetting to talk about the animation of this game. The animation in this game gets extremely close to the uncanny valley. I’m convinced that it’s in the uncanny valley for some. Especially how certain characters react and express their emotions. For example, how the two sisters like arms when they are witnessing something scary for the first time. They are looking for comfort with each other. It still blows my mind that there was such life like animation on the PlayStation 2.

I could continue to talk about this game for a while longer but most of it will be praising the game. If you are a horror fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out this game. The quality of the Fatal Frame series is up there with the Silent Hill and the original Resident Evil games. I’ll talk a bit more in depth about the game when I write my review. Consider the things I haven’t talked about in this first impression review as nice surprises when you decide to play this game.

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

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Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

death mark

Official website

You are walking on a street and you overhear two schoolgirls talking to each other. They tell a story about one of their teachers dying in a horrible death. Her arm was found in the library of the school, cut off from the rest of the body with a red bite mark on the hand. That’s how Death Mark opens. The game I decided to play during the Halloween season because I already finished Angels of Death by then. Since I started playing the Zero Escape series and Corpse Party, I have been hooked on the horror genre. I wanted to play more horror games or games with a strong focus on horror. It doesn’t need to be survival horror like Resident Evil 4 or Silent Hill but a game that fits the mood of the holiday perfectly. Now, I know I’m terribly late with my review of this game. But, it was part of my top 10 games of 2018 list and I want to give my honest opinion on it. So, let’s talk about the PS Vita game that got ported to the Switch called Death Mark. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Alive until dawn

nswitch_deathmark_05So, the story of this game centers around the mystery of the mysterious Death Mark people have been receiving. This red bit mark appears on people’s bodies when they interact with spirits. The protagonist of this game suffers from your typical case of memory loss and doesn’t remember his past. After you heard the two girl’s their story, your own mark starts to burn and you get teleported to a mansion. When you enter the mansion, you find it to be abandoned. When you visit one of the bedrooms, a thunder crack reveals the dead body of a girl on the floor with flowers blooming from her stomach and chest. Startled, you run down starts where you meet up with a doll that explains to you that the Death Mark is quite real.

If you are unable to remove your mark, you will die by the time dawn comes. One theory that you quickly form is that you can possibly remove the mark by killing or defeating a spirit. But, how do you kill a spirit? How do you kill something that is already dead? Well, by trying to solve the grudge that is keeping them in the living realm.

After you got the explanation of the living wooden doll that lives on the sofa in the entrance of the mansion, you heard a knock on the door. You open the door and find two teenagers. They are looking for the previous inhabitant of the mansion. She is a spirit healer and they are looking for her help to get rid of the same mark you possess. It’s revealed that she was the dead body you discovered earlier. So, you try and take her place. So, now you start in trying to help the other people with a Death Mark while trying to discover who you are and which spirit gave you your Death Mark.

All of this is explained in a quite lengthy introduction. The writing of this game is amazing. If this story sounds interesting to you, I have to give you a fair warning. This game is a visual novel adventure game. There is quite a lot of text in this game. If you aren’t interested in playing a game that has more dialogue then gameplay, this isn’t your game.

I do have to say that the writing is amazing in this game. The story has it a weird charm. At one hand, the game has amazing characters and great development. It didn’t take long before I got attached to certain characters and I got quite invested in them. Yet, this game is also a horror game. So, a lot of creepy stuff happens on your journey. From finding death bodies to combating spirits, this game has it all. This game has just the perfect mix between the two worlds and I have no complaints about them. The pacing of the game is just perfect as well.

The only minor disappointment is that the characters are voice acted in Japanese. Now, I don’t mind Japanese voice acting that much, but I personally prefer English voice acting. The whole game isn’t voice acted, but quite a lot is. The voice acted that is present in the game is really great. But, I’m not going to critique it too much since I don’t know enough about Japanese to say it’s good or bad. But, from my personal experience, I feel that the voice actors always used the right emotion to what appears on screen.

This game has 6 chapters. The original PS Vita game had 5 chapters and one DLC chapter. The DLC chapter is included for free in this Switch port. There is something in terms of the chapters I’m quite on the fence about. The chapters themselves are not too long nor too short. But, if you combine all playtime to get through the game and fully beat it, this game takes around 8 to 10 hours to complete. This game is quite short, too short even.

Near the end, I was so invested in the game, I was extremely bummed when I finished the final chapter. I wanted to play more, explore the world and setting of the game a bit more. But alas. Thankfully, this game doesn’t have a lot of filler content. The story in some chapters can go at a breakneck pace and that was a refreshing experience.

Explore and read

nswitch_deathmark_04One of my favorite genres in video games is the visual novel. There are two types of visual novels; the ones with gameplay and the kinetic ones. The kinetic ones almost have no gameplay and I honestly dislike playing. This game isn’t a kinetic novel. In this game, you have to explore various areas where a spirit is roaming. During your exploration, you have to find a reason of the grudge of the spirit.

While you are exploring the area, you can come across live or death situations. You get presented with different options and if you choose the wrong option, you get a game over. In some cases, you lose soul power. What is this soul power? It’s the power of your soul, when this drops to 0, the spirit of the chapter catches you right away.

When you are in a live or death situation, you are timed. The remaining time you have, is the remaining soul power you have. During your exploration, you can find talismans that restore your soul power if it gets low. Now that I have beaten the game, I can say that there is no additional reward when you answer all the questions correctly without losing soul power. This is a missed opportunity. It would be great if this unlocked the additional 6th chapter or some character art.

Anyways, your soul power fully restores in-between chapters. So, you aren’t punished for mistakes in an earlier chapter. Personally, my favorite chapter is the 6th chapter. The moral of that chapter speaks to me on a personal level.

Now, there are two different endings to this game. The ending that you get depends if you are able to fully solve the grudge of the spirit of that chapter. So, when it comes to the climax of each chapter, think long and hard before you make your next move. Since one mistake during those battles can change the ending dramatically.

Speaking about the climax of each chapter, think carefully who you take as a partner on your journey. Sometimes you will be unable to defeat a spirit if you don’t have the right character in your party. I loved trying to work out who would be the best character to use against the spirit. Reading their character profile is even more important now than before. My advice is, save often. You are only able to save outside of dialogue sections. So, don’t be a hero and save after you made some progress. Also, pay attention that this game doesn’t automatically save. And when you are dead, you have to restart from your last save point. You can save using the “Y” button. There are a limited amount of save slots, so use them wisely.

Saving is this game is quite easy. After the introduction, you can save when you are in the mansion in a limited amount of save slots. Now, if you want to be able to restart a chapter, I highly advise you to save right after the introduction of the chapter. Since, there is no other way to start from a certain chapter. The only option in the main menu are new game, continue or a gallery. In this gallery, you can see the animation of the spirits and the images you saw during the chapter.

In terms of the UI, this game is good. I have no real complaints. I do have some minor suggestions. Especially with the inventory screen. This would feel so much better if the inventory screen had a static image of the item you have selected. Now, it’s just a boring looking list of items, like you would see in a spreadsheet.

Anyways, sometimes the story of one spirit links to the story of another spirit. In that case, you can always read a small summary in the pause menu. During that, you can watch the amazing full screen pictures that were used during the chapter.

During each chapter, you have to explore a location. You can only explore with one partner. The other partner or partners will stay at the mansion to look for clues in solving the mystery of the Death Mark. You can go at any moment to the entrance of the location to take the car back to the mansion to change partners. Like I said earlier, the choice of partner matters. If you are unable to solve a puzzle or pass through a location, try having another partner.

The locations themselves aren’t that large. It doesn’t take too long before you are able to fully explore the location. Now, there is something to do in each and every screen of the game. From small jump scares to big puzzles. Oh yes, this game has small jump scares. Most of the jump scares are rather subtle and aren’t too distracting from the exploration. To be honest, I found them used quite well. Also, it’s possible that you don’t even see all the jump scares since they are location specific.

During your journey for the truth in the Death Mark mystery, you explore a forest, a school and various other locations. Each location is extremely memorable. The detail in the artwork of each location is impressive. The atmosphere building with the visual presentation in this game is a strong point of this game. I really felt on edge while exploring certain locations. I really felt that the location I was exploring had a certain presence and a morbid history to it. In some occasions, the game managed to get underneath my skin.

Now, in terms of the animations, this game has a lot of missed potential. Apart from the spirit battles, this game doesn’t have a lot of animations. I think it would have been better if the game had a bit more animations and scene transitions. For example, a walking animation from going between rooms would aid a lot with the world building and immersion. And if you give the option to the players to turn this animation on or off, it would be perfect. Now, there is a small dialogue box that appears when you move between rooms with a sound effect, but could be so much more.

On the edge of my seat

nswitch_deathmark_03Exploration in this game is really well done. During the game, you are able to use your flashlight to investigate each and every room. I highly advise that you look around carefully in each and every room. Since every little detail can aid you in your quest to solve the grudge of the spirit. The game helps you out a bit in the investigation. When you can interact with something, you see a little sparkle animation when you hover over it with your flash light.

When you have to use an item in your quest, the item will be automatically used. Expect during the spirit battles. In those battles you have to use every item in your inventory to try and defend yourself. You and the spirit take turns in making a move. If the spirit comes too close, it’s game over.

Apart from one puzzle, the puzzles in this game are well crafted. They really test your skills in exploring the area you are in and your investigation skills. Exploring the location gets even better with the fluid controls. The flashlight is mapped to one of the joysticks of the joycon and reacts very responsively.

Now, there is one thing that could turn some people off and that is the map system. During the exploration, you have a mini-map of the location at the top right. This mini-map is nothing more than a few squares and lines how the squares connect. So, you will have to build a mental map of the location during your exploration. This is highly essential when you don’t want to get lost. A more detailed map would have been welcome, but I felt it added to the world building of the game. Remember the story? You only have the few short hours of the night to try and get rid of the grudge of the spirit before you die. So, creating an actual map might lose too much time.

The controls in this game are quite decent. Sometimes I got a bit disoriented, but that’s because my mediocre navigational skills in games. It doesn’t take long before you get used to the control scheme of this game and learn to use it to your advantage.

The exploration is added with some great sound and music design. The soundtrack sounds like a combination of the Zero Escape series, Ace Attorney and Corpse Party. The music gives of eerie vibes and fits the visual presentation like a glove. I’m actually hunting down the soundtrack of this game to add it to my music library.

Together with the amazing sound effects, the visual and audiovisual presentation of this game is a real treat. I can’t make any complaints about that aspect of the game. Before I keep repeating myself, I think it’s time that we talk about another aspect of the game.

The difficulty of this game is just right. The game is even more difficult when you don’t pay attention during the investigation. In the later chapters, I even took some physical notes to aid myself during the investigation.

Now, if you forgot to save, there is a button that you can use to fast forward the cut scenes. I rarely used this button since I was too invested in the story. I used this button only once when I forgot to save before a LIVE OR DEATH situation and I got a game over… Now, I could have used the “decide again” option to restart from the beginning of the LIVE OR DEATH situation but I lost too much soul power. So, restarting from an earlier point actually benefited me.

Also, there is a message log you can access. A minor complaint is that the button to fast forward is quite hidden in the UI. It’s the L-button.

The replay value of his game isn’t too high. Not counting replays for fun, you can play twice through the game before you have seen it all. Now, this isn’t a big issue but more endings would extend the already short overall game time.

With that said, I said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time to go to the summary and closing statement of this review.

Summary

The good:

+ Amazing atmosphere in the visual and audio department.

+ Great writing.

+ The game has a lot of text.

+ …

The bad:

  • The game is too short.
  • The game has a lot of text.
  • A bit more animations would enhance the game a lot.
  • You can’t restart a chapter without a save.

Final thoughts:

This game is not for everybody. If you don’t like a game that has a lot of text, I think that it’s best for you to skip this game. If you enjoy games like Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, Walking Dead, Corpse Party, Trace Memory… I highly recommend this game.

This game is the perfect game to play through on Halloween night or whenever you are in the mood to play more horror focused games. The writing, pacing, audio and visual presentation of this game is very well done. The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s too short. I got so invested and the ride was over before I knew it.

Now, a spiritual successor is going to be released in Japan really soon called NG. I really hope and wish that they are going to bring this game to the west as well. Since the trailer looks amazing and I really would love to play it.

I can totally see why some people would be turned off by this game. But personally I loved my playthrough. When you play this game, don’t use a walkthrough. This game gets even more fun when you aren’t using a walkthrough to guide you in every step of the way.

If you ask me, I think that this game is totally worth it’s price. This developer really convinced me of the quality games they can put out. While this game has flaws, in my eyes they don’t ruin the experience at all. But, I’m really going to hammer this home… This game would be perfect if there were a bit more chapters. A bit more content.

And with that said, I have really said everything I could say about this game. I want to 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!

Score: 90/100

First Impression: Resident Evil 4 (PS2) ~ Leon, Help Me! LEEEEOOONN!

residentevil4

Wikipedia entry

Not to long ago, I revealed my 10 favorite games I have started playing in 2018. One of these games was Resident Evil 4. Now, I shorty explained why I enjoyed that game so much in that article but I think it’s time to give a more in depth opinion on the game. I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m closing in on the mid-way point of the game. I think I have seen enough of the game to give my first impressions on the game and to give my honest opinion on the game. So, will this be the game that drags me into survival horror or will this game be the one that turns me off? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

Ashley & Leon’s “vacation”

re4_1

In this game, you take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy. A police officer that was involved with Raccoon City that has been sent to Spain to rescue the President’s kidnapped daughter. Very quickly after your arrival, you discover that things aren’t normal and that something went horribly wrong. It’s up to Leon to find and rescue Ashley as quickly as he can.

The writing in this game is excellent. Some story elements are explained in notes you can find in the world and others are explained in cutscenes. The voice acting is amazing, I especially love the voice acting during combat sections since it really helps with building the atmosphere. The only missed opportunity in my opinion is that there aren’t a lot of interactions between Ashley and Leon during your exploration. Maybe Bioshock Infinite with Booker and Elisabeth spoiled me too much there.

Most of this game is a sort of escort quest. But, Leon isn’t taking Ashley on a nice vacation to Spain, at all. Remember the start of this section? Leon came to the village to extract Ashley and get her back to the United States of the Americas.

Now, I’ll talk more about gameplay mechanics later but first I want to talk about a flaw with the story of this game. The flaw is that some parts of the story, especially some characters and events aren’t explained too well to newcomers. This game is the first Resident Evil game I’m trying to beat and I had to look up certain things. Now, at the other hand, these unexplained gaps in the story made me even more interested to play the previous Resident Evil games so that everything can fall into place.

Since I haven’t beaten the game, I won’t comment on the writing too much. To be quite honest, I feel that sometimes the story takes a bit of a backseat and is more used as a sort of tool to string different sections together. I even dare to say that you would be able to cut some sections out without it making a (big) impact on the story or the atmosphere. Yes, the notes fill in some of the gaps but since they are optional and can be skipped, the story feels incomplete to me. As if there were sections removed from the final version.

Ashley isn’t Elisabeth

re4_3

Now, I knew in advance that this game was going to be an escort mission sort of game.I have played Bioshock Infinite, so I got used to guiding a character around.

Now, there are big differences between Elisabeth and Ashley. First of all, Ashley can be kidnapped. Whenever certain enemies are close to her, she can be picked up and kidnapped. Whenever she is dragged through a door to another section, it’s game over.

There are two other big differences. The first is that Ashley isn’t helpful during your exploration. You can tell her to wait, hide and follow you. She can only hide in certain places, she doesn’t look for them herself. Now, I tested out how good her pathfinding is. Whenever I called for her when she was in hiding and I ran to a corner of the map, she was always able to find me and team up with me.

The second big difference is that Ashley isn’t invincible. If you see the screenshot I placed a bit earlier, you notice that Ashley has a health bar as well. So, you have to be careful that Ashley doesn’t take damage. Since, you need to rescue her alive. Whenever you use your healing items, you can choose to heal either yourself or Ashley.

Thankfully, both Elisabeth and Ashley rarely get in your way during combat. Elisabeth goes and looks for items while Ashley ducks so fast when you aim at an enemy behind her, it’s almost impossible to hit her. Also, whenever I threw a grenade in her direction to try and defeat an enemy close to her, she quickly gets out of the way. Thank god, I would have thrown out the disc if that wasn’t the case.

Now, I have been talking about the differences between Ashley and Elisabeth for a while now. But, how does this game play? What is the actual gameplay? This game is an adventure-exploration 3D shooter game. I even dare to say that you can compare it to the reboot Tomb Raider games to a certain extent. The big differences are Ashley and that this game focuses more on big bosses and horror than Tomb Raider.

I have to admit that I’m playing this game on easy difficulty. Because this is one of my first times I’m playing a survival horror game, I wanted to get used to the mechanics before I challenged myself and played through the genre on a harder difficulty. Surprisingly, this game keeps being challenging. I’m always thinking on how I can save the ammo of my most powerful weapons to quickly dispatch groups of enemies.

The biggest thing I dislike during the combat is that I can’t see a difference between an enemy that is close to dying and one that is full health. What is even more annoying is that it’s sometimes, and especially with the bosses, hard to read if you are hitting them or not. In one run, I was sure I hit an enemy but the enemy didn’t go down and used her chainsaw to insta-kill me. The red dot at the end of where you are aiming is too small and too little of an indication during hectic combat. Because of this, I’m sure that I have wasted so much ammo fighting bosses.

I think I can summarize it like this: the combat is a bit rough around the edges. While it’s a lot of fun, sometimes I got annoyed with the limitations of the mechanics. At one hand, I can understand where the developers were coming from. This game is a survival horror game after all and you have to fell tense and afraid, since it’s a horror game. At the other hand, it doesn’t take away that I would have loved to see a bit more polish on the combat.

Something I’m disappointed a bit by are the puzzles. I feel that most of the puzzles rely a bit too much on the “press the buttons in the right order” cliché. Almost all of the non-combat puzzles have to pressing switches in a certain sequence. Granted, I’m somewhere in the middle of the game so, it’s quite possible that the rest of the game will have a bit more unique puzzles.

It has aged

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Because I’m a retro gamer, I don’t mind it when games look dated. If you wondered why I didn’t play the HD version for this article, I can easily explain that by saying that I was able to pick up a physical copy of the original and that interests me more as a collector.

Now, the game looks fine on PS2. There is a lot of detail in the atmosphere of the game and the monster design is delicious grotesque. I especially love it when characters transform mid-battle, because then I have to think quickly and change my strategy accordingly.

But alas, the fact that this game is now almost 15 years old is starting to show. In certain sections, I feel that there isn’t enough detail. I also had the impression that in certain sections, the textures on the models were a bit too flat making certain objects like a bed in the castle look like it would belong in a PS1 Tomb Raider game. I haven’t played the HD version of the game, but from what I have seen, all the complaints I have about the visuals… well, let’s just say that the HD version looks a LOT better than the PS2 version. I even checked some comparison videos between the Gamecube, Wii and this version of the game and I have to say, that the versions on the Nintendo platforms look a lot better.

Now, I’m not saying that this game looks ugly. Remember that I said that this game looks fine? Well, I really stand by that. I love all the detail they put in the world and the animations in this game are amazing. I especially love how destructible the world is. When a huge boss throws a tree to a shack you are standing in, the tree doesn’t break on the shack because video games, the tree actually breaks the shack because realism.

The only “negative” I can say in terms on the animations are that certain death scenes are a bit too scripted. What I mean is for example, when you kill an enemy with a head shot, it doesn’t go down right away. It nearly always takes a few steps forward before collapsing. This isn’t the only example of that, but it stands out. But, after a while I got used to it and it didn’t bother me that much.

Now, besides puzzles and combat; there is one other part of the gameplay I haven’t mentioned. And that are the quick time events. In certain sections, you have to much a button as quick as you can to survive. These sections were the most annoying sections of the game in my opinion. Thankfully, they are short. So, they are over without too much hassle.

This game doesn’t have an autosave. You can save at certain save points in scattered around. You can save an infinite amount of times as long as you are at the type writer. Thankfully, when you get a game over, you don’t have to restart from your last save point. You start from the section you died at. For example, when you died during a quick time event with a boss and die, you respawn at the start of that quick time event. This is a great feature since whenever I died, I learned something new and I got a new idea on how to possibly defeat the boss.

Besides strategy, there is something else that helps with defeating bosses and that are good controls. This game has that. The only things I struggle a bit with are turning while using the knife or aiming with a weapon. Now, the turning with a knife isn’t too much of an issue. I stop pushing the knife button and press it again when I have done my turn.

The aiming of weapons is a different story. This game is one of the first games I played on a console that involves a lot of shooting. I’m quite used to being able to easily shoot using a mouse of the Wii Remote. I had to get used to aiming with a joystick. To my surprise, I quickly got used to it. When I look at the stats at the end of each level, I notice that I’m improving quite a lot in my accuracy.

To my surprise, I haven’t talked about the music and sound design of this game and it’s almost the end of the article. The soundtrack of this game is one that helps build the atmosphere quite well. Personally, I wouldn’t listen to most of the tracks outside of the game, but I enjoy the soundtrack quite a lot during gameplay.

The sound design of this game get a big thumbs up from me. The game sound just right, from the sound of the guns to enemies transforming. It all sounds like you would imagine it sounding in real life.

Well, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I know that I haven’t talked about everything but I’ll leave those things for my review, if I ever write one on this game. So, I think it’s time to wrap up this article.

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

Review: Repentant (PC) ~ Life Goes On

Repentant Header.jpgSteam Store page

Life goes on. Of course, it does. Repentant recently released and the game is a continuation from Little Kite. But, if you haven’t played the original, you can still play Repentant. Full disclosure, I got a press-code from the developer to write this article. But, the developer wanted me to give my 100% honest opinion. So, that’s what you are getting today. What is my 100% honest opinion on this point-and-click adventure game, one of my favorite genres ever! Let’s find out. And 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. 

Oliver goes shopping

The sequel of Little Kite follows Oliver, the abusive boyfriend. Now, I could try to explain the game to you, but I feel like the introduction written by the developers on the store page explains the plot of the game the best:

Experienced criminal Oliver begins to suffer from strong remorse after the terrible deeds of which his family has suffered. Unsuccessful attempts to restore relations with his ex-wife further worsen his condition and alcohol dependence.
One day in a small shop, he becomes a witness of a robbery committed by a young girl. At this moment, he gets the opportunity to atone for his sins by helping another person. But who really needs help and who is the victim? It remains to be seen.

20180810152129_1The writing in this game is amazing. The story really gripped me from the moment it started. I love experiencing stories like these since they stay realistic and down to earth. Also, it shows the other side of life, that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

The game got translated into Russian, Ukraine and into Dutch. I can’t speak about the Russian nor the Ukrian since I don’t speak either language, but judging from the quality of the Dutch translation, I can say it’s quite good. For those who don’t know, I’m not a native English speaker. My native language is Flemish, which is “a sort of Dutch”. Something like American and British is a sort of English.

The voice-acting isn’t translated, it’s only the subtitles of the game. Now, I’ll talk more about the voice-acting in just a minute, but first I want to quickly say something about the Dutch translation. Personally, I didn’t like it. There is nothing wrong with the translation, but it uses more expressions and sayings used in the Netherlands than Flemish ones. I got a bit put off by that as a Flemish-native. But, this is more of a nitpick. Compare it to, an American gamer getting annoyed at the subtitles since they are in UK English. It won’t ruin the experience, but it’s noticeable sometimes. So, that’s why I played the game in English.

So, that ramble aside, I wanted to talk about the voice-acting. This game has decent voice acting. Especially the voice acting of the girl is extremely well done. And the type of voice really matches the characters as well. Yet, the voice acting didn’t always click with me. I can’t put my finger on why I think that, but I feel like it was a bit bland sometimes, not enough emotion. Then again, I felt that the voice acting pulled me more into the story. So, yeah.

The dialogue can go, sort of, automatically. When you don’t press a button to continue the dialogue, it continues on its own after a while.

Drawn gameplay

20180810154414_1The visuals in this game are amazing. I really like the art style. It feels like you are playing the story inside a painting or a realistic comic book. If I were to nitpick, I would say that I disliked that not every sign and such was in English. Then again, I don’t think this game takes place in an English speaking country, so that adds to the atmosphere.

The game takes place in the night store. It has basically four screens where the whole adventure takes place. There is one screen that’s an exception, but talking about that would be a spoiler. I really like how the whole story is in this night store. The full-screen artwork for some cutscenes is amazing.

The visual presentation is enhanced by decent animation. There is a minor thing I could criticize about the animations. The running animation looks so unnatural. If you double-click, Oliver uses the same walk cycle but moves twice as quick. And strangely enough, this only works outside the store.

Overall, the game runs at a consistent frame rate, apart from that one scene outside the store and the storefront. The game requires 512MB VRAM, and I have 2GB in my PC. Yet, I had some frame stuttering and some frame drops. The game was still playable but it was quite noticeable during that section.

The visual presentation is accompanied by an enjoyable soundtrack. The only thing that I would have done differently is to loop the music so the player would have been unable to know when the track started or when it ended. I think I say enough about the soundtrack with this: “If it was ever released as a sort of DLC package on Steam, it would be an instant-buy for me. I would add it to my playlist for when in the mood for more relaxing music or tense music.”

So close

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While I was playing this game, I was really enjoying solving the puzzles. The controls for this game are really good. You only need the mouse to play this game.

Now, if you ever get stuck, the game has a hint system. And this hint system isn’t one of the best in my opinion.

You can click it 20 times in the whole game. It does circle all clickable areas. It doesn’t give you any other hints on how to progress or what items you need for the current puzzle. Since it also circles items you can’t pick up or need for a later puzzle. I think that this game could have used a system like in the Broken Sword series where you could ask for a clue on what to do next and when you get stuck (read, don’t progress or solve the puzzle after a certain amount of time), you get access to a clue revealing even more.

Anyways, the rest of the UI is good. The inventory system is at the top and you have your menu button at the left bottom corner of the screen. Besides the hint button. Now, you can combine items. Near the end, I discovered that some combinations didn’t get any reaction out of Oliver. Like the bandage with the kettle.

Another minor change I would have done is, change “play” in the main menu to “new game”. Since clicking that option always starts a new game and it would avoid people thinking that it’s a way to reload the latest checkpoint.

This game isn’t too difficult for veteran point-and-click players. If you have played games like Beneath the Steel Sky, Broken Sword, Monkey Island, Deponia… This game shouldn’t be a problem for you. What I’m saying here is that experience in the genre helps you to get through this game. If you don’t have experience in the genre, always ask yourself this question, what exactly is stopping me from progressing the story and what do I have in my inventory or around me to aid in solving the issue?

This game autosaves, so that means that after you have solved some puzzles, the game autosaves. You can’t save in between. At first, I found this kind of disappointing but the autosaves are so frequent that it isn’t a problem.

For 6€, you get an adventure that lasts roughly one hour. This sounds short, but it’s a great ride. I have finished this game in 2,5 hours. Granted, I have left the game running while I was writing this review for example.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game, it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The music should fade in and out better.

-The game is too short.

-The voice acting was sometimes hit & miss.

-In one area some minor frame drops.

-The hint system could have been more fleshed out.

The good:

+ The voice acting can be a hit sometimes.

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Enjoyable puzzles.

+ Great story & writing.

+ …

Final thoughts:

I have played both games in this series and I enjoyed both of these games. Personally, I found that Repentant is the better game of the two. The addition of voice acting really adds a lot to the game.

While the game is rather short, I really enjoyed myself with this game. I would love to see a third entry into the series exploring the aftermath of the situation from Mary’s point of view.

While the game could have used some more polish, I think that this game was worth the wait. I can’t wait to see what the developers are going to put out next. Since now I’m hyped for their next adventure game!

Thank you for reading this review 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 80/100

Publishing: Repentant is releasing on the 9th Augustus 2018

Repentant is a dramatic point & click adventure game with hand-painted art. 

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General information

Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Platforms: PC, Mac
Players: Single-player
Engine: Unity
Developer: Anate Studio

Experienced criminal Oliver begins to suffer from strong remorse after the terrible deeds of which his family has suffered. Unsuccessful attempts to restore relations with his ex-wife further worsen his condition and alcohol dependence. One day in a small shop, he becomes a witness of a robbery committed by a young girl. At this moment, he gets the opportunity to atone for his sins by helping another person. But who really needs help and who is the victim? It remains to be seen.

Repentant is partially a sequel to the game Little Kite, but it can be played by a person who is not familiar with Little Kite.

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Features

– Explore atmospheric hand-painted locations with challenging puzzles

– Enjoy an intriguing story with an unexpected ending

– Listen to an amazing soundtrack by Abstracode and full English voice acting

Repentant now have a steam page https://store.steampowered.com/app/874370/Repentant/

Check out final video trailer https://youtu.be/gEBn_xNvZT8

Developer info

email: info@anatestudio.net – www.anatestudio.net
www.twitter.com/anatestudio – www.steamcommunity.com/groups/anatestudio
www.facebook.com/groups/anatestudio

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NekoJonez’s personal note

I have written a preview article about this game before. I’m very thankful for the developer reaching out to me when the sequel was in development. I’m a big fan of their work and I’m going to try get a review or first impression article out when this game released on the 9th of August.

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First Impression: Castlavania – Portrait Of Ruin (DS) ~ No Stars For Mario

castlevania portrait of ruin

Wikipedia entry

Back in the day, when I just got the Nintendo DS, I decided that I wanted to try out a horror game. Castlevania was one of the only horror game series I knew about so when I saw this game on the shelves, I decided that I had to have it. Now, I have never really beaten this game, but recently I returned to it. I wanted to beat this game. Now, did I just want to relive a nostalgic game or did I really want to beat this game since I was having so much fun? Let’s take a look at this game and give my opinion about it.

No Stars For Mario

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In this game you play as Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. They are childhood friends who are going on a journey to protect mankind from evil. When an evil vampire artist revives Dracula’s Castle, the duo springs into action.

There is also an interesting twist in the story. Notice that I started explaining the story with the last names of the characters. Now, look to the cover-art and you might notice that Jonathan wields the legendary vampire-killing all evil defeating, Master Sword… whoops, wrong series. I mean, the Vampire Killer.

But Jonathan is part of the Morris family, the son of John Morris from Castlevania: Bloodlines, and not a Belmot. So, he can’t fully use the abilities of the Vampire Killer.

Now, the story looks like your generic Castlevania story at first, but the more you go into it, the more complex it gets. Most of the story is told through in-engine cut scenes and dialogue boxes. The “voice acting” in the game are various grunts and sounds to give the story more “umph”. There are spoken lines in the game, but those are mostly sound effects or lines spoken by enemies during combat.

I actually don’t mind that the story isn’t voice-acted. The only thing I really miss is a sort of log. To keep track of what story elements happened. Since, when you pick this game up after a few months and don’t remember where you left off; well, you are going to have to spend a time to find out where you need to go.

Which is, on the other hand, not such a bad thing. The difficulty in this game is pretty high for people who aren’t used to this style of gameplay. So, exploring the castle is a great idea to level up Jonathan and Charlotte.

I find the story really interesting and it actually motivates me to try to beat every monster that comes my way. If you decide to play this game, I really advise you to put a lot of time into exploring and learning how each and every enemy works. Also, there is no shame in avoiding enemies, but do know; if you do that, you will have a lot of trouble with bosses.

So, I’ll go more in-depth about the bosses in a moment. But first, I want to talk about paintings. Since, the main antagonist is an evil vampire painter, you discover various paintings in the castle. These transport you to various locations where you can advance the story. There are no “missions” like Super Mario 64. When I played this game back when it was released, I was convinced that there was an easter egg where you could jump into a painting and come out in a sort of corrupted version of Princess Peach’s castle. Yeah, my childhood imagination is interesting to say the least.

“Charlotte” – “Jonathan”

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If you can’t tell from the screenshots, the game looks amazing. To this day, I find this game one of the best looking action/adventure games on the DS. The details in the background are what I find the most impressive in this game. The world really feels alive.

I find this game not that scary. There is a lot of gothic and mythic imagery, but the game doesn’t get under my skin. At the other hand, I wouldn’t give this game to younger kids. There are some bosses that can cause nightmare fuel to young minds.

Like the boss in Land of the Fools. I won’t spoil it, but I can see how this can become nightmare fuel. If you can stomach basic horror elements, you will be fine.

The atmosphere in this game is just amazing. I really like how all bosses are based on real life myths and various enemies have an interesting spin on them. Together with really nice looking animations and a rarely a dip in frame-rate, you can’t complain.

Personally, I like to have the map on one of the screens. The map is extremely handy to have. The blue squares are teleports, the red squares are save points and the yellow square are paintings or locations of extreme interest. The only thing I really miss is that you are unable to place any notes on the map. A feature where you were able to pin locations like in The Legend of Zelda – Link Between Worlds would be been such a blessing. Since some area’s contain loot that you can only access with a certain ability, and marking them would be a great way to support your mind.

Speaking off abilities, some require you to control both characters. With just a press of the button, you can switch between the two. When you are playing as Jonathan, you switch to Charlotte and vice versa. Now, for some reason I find it pretty enjoyable to switch between both characters. They shout each others names each and every time. I’m sometimes easily amused.

You can also have both characters on-screen. The AI to control the other character is decent, but sometimes makes some pretty questionable decisions. You can also use a support ability to avoid more damage. While this sounds overpowered, know that the damage to the 2nd character also counts! So, yeah. Be careful with that.

The castle and such

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If you have played games like Monster Tale and Metroid, you know what you are getting into. This adventure isn’t that long, it can be beaten in an afternoon if you really know what you are doing. Yet, I’m not that good with the combat, so I think it will take a bit longer.

Currently, I think I’m halfway done with the game. I have died quite a lot in this game, but each time I’m making a bit more progress. The biggest flaw in this game is how slow you go from the game over screen back into gameplay.

You get a “Game Over” screen with a barely readable font, that slowly fades into the main menu. Speaking about the main menu, you might find some interesting features there. The only thing I’ll say is that there is a boss rush mode that might help you in the main story line.

The music in this game is really good. When I want to listen to Castlevania music, I always listen to the soundtrack of one of the DS games. I honestly can’t pick my favorite but, all three are my favorite Castlevania soundtracks. Together with the sound design, this game is a joy to the ears. Playing this game without sound takes a lot of the atmosphere away.

Yet, there are a few things that aren’t that good in this game. First of all, you can only attack sideways. You don’t have an attack to hit smaller enemies easily. Unless, you use a weapon like a mace. You can’t attack on top of you either. This caused a lot of unneeded damage.

Actually, that isn’t really a flaw in a way. It’s choosing the right weapon for the job. Now, if only you could swap between weapons a bit more easy, this wouldn’t be such a big problem.

There are a lot of neat touches I really enjoy. The fact you can an opening and closing sound-effect when you open or close the DS is one of them. Another one of them is, how the interface changes to blue when you are equipping items and armor to Charlotte and to pink for Jonathan.

All-in-all, this game is really solid. If you are looking for a challenging Action/Adventure RPG on the go, I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m glad that I picked up this game again since with the skills I have now, I’m able to beat parts that I had a lot of trouble with as a child. This game is a blast to play, but can be very frustrating too when you die over and over again.

Before I close off, I hope one thing. If you are interested in this game; don’t let the publisher’s name scare you away. This has been published when Konami’s reputation was a bit better.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. I’ll go a bit more in-depth about the other aspects when I review this game. But, the review will only happen if I beat this game one day.

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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Corpse Party Blood Drive (Android) ~ Let’s go 3D.

corpse-party-apk.jpgGoogle Play Store link

I love the Corpse Party series. It’s one of the first horror games I ever tried and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m terrible when it comes to horror games and movies, but the story and writing of this series kept me interested throughout the whole series. In my opinion, it’s a ghost story done right. Now, when I saw in magazines that the 3rd game in the series was going to come out on the PS Vita, I wanted to play it. But, PS Vita’s were disappearing from shelves here in Belgium so I wasn’t able to play the game. But, one night, I was browsing the Google Play Store and suddenly this popped up. I have never bought a mobile game quicker before. So, was this a 35€ well spend or did I throw my money away? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. 

Note: to avoid major spoilers, I have chosen screenshots from the first chapter.

Note: for those interested, this game is also on the iOS store, but I’m playing it on Android so, this review is about the Android version.

The story warning

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I have two big pieces of advice to give to you before you play this game. One, do not play the games out of order. Play Corpse Party: Blood Covered, then Book of Shadows and then Blood Drive.

Do complete them, since this game picks up a little bit after the actual ending of Corpse Party Book Of Shadows. Otherwise, various plot points won’t make sense in this game. If you are looking to get into the series, this isn’t the right game to start.

I’m glad that I’m able to play this game since Book of Shadows left on such a major nasty plot twist, I can finally see what effect it has on the characters. The writing in this game is in my opinion excellent. But, I can understand that it might be boring for some people. This game is a visual novel game with adventure elements. The novel sections are quite long and might drag on from time to time.

I think that two things could have improved the novel section. One, add a skip button that let you skip to the first bit of gameplay or important decision. When you are replaying the game to get to a certain ending or a name tag you missed, this would be a blessing.

Two, I think it would be amazing if they added an ability to save during the novel sections. Since this game is on mobile platforms, it’s going to be played by people who don’t always have the time. I was once on the train and when I had to get off, I was right in the middle of a novel section and I was unable to save. Some story sections can drag on for quite a while like a book. If only we were able to also use a bookmark, aka save, when we had to stop playing, that would be nice.

Those two things are actually my biggest complaints with the game. I have another one, but this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I notice that after long play sessions, my tablet becomes quite hot but when I put it in the protective sleeve, it doesn’t always become hot.

Return to form

Corpse Party Blood Drive

In terms of gameplay, this game plays more similar to the Blood Covered game but with the novel sections of Book of Shadows.  I really enjoy the gameplay in this game outside of the novel sections.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to talk a bit vague about the scenery, but the areas you visit feel familiar yet new. The puzzles in this title are good. There are some very tense horror moments that are neatly woven into the gameplay that crawled under my skin.

Now, you might have noticed an “Endless off/on” button in the screenshot. This was actually an interesting story behind it. When the game was released in Japan, the feedback on the flashlight mechanic was so bad, the developers actually patched an endless mode in. Why didn’t they remove it you might ask? Well, to give players still the ability to get a certain trophy/achievement. An interesting story isn’t?

Still, you keep picking up batteries throughout the game to power your flashlight. Now, like various others online, I do have a question. Since when do we use double A batteries to power our smartphones? It would a little bit of sense if they used a power bank that is powered by double A batteries.

So far, I’m at the 4th chapter of the game. I’m really enjoying myself. While I can understand that the visuals like the character models might put some people off; I think they still have some charm to them. They are well animated and I don’t mind it too much. The visual presentation of the whole game is just amazing. I love how you can move the beam of light your flashlight makes with the right “joystick”. It really helps with the immersion for me. The only thing that the developers should fix is that it doesn’t default to “off” when you load the game.

The atmosphere man. The atmosphere.

Corpse-Party_10-05-15Something that this game has nailed perfectly is the atmosphere of the game. Besides the gore and creepy visuals, the voice acting does a lot to make you scared at the right time.

The atmosphere is built even more thanks to the use of sound effects and the music. The audio in this game is as good as the previous game if not better in some areas. Apart from the soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, this game doesn’t have a bad soundtrack. But, I think that the soundtrack of the other games in the series is better.

In terms of the controls, this game nails it right on the head. The controls are pretty smooth in this game. And you will need them, since in this title when you get chased by ghosts, you can hide in cupboards amongst other things. Oh, and there are many traps littered around so you will have to avoid them.

In this game, the health meter has more meaning than in the two previous titles. Due to those traps, you can actually get a wrong end from dying on a trap. So, keep an eye out for cracked floors and other things like that. Also, you can find bandages in various spots to heal yourself back up.

There are other new game mechanics in this game, but I’m not going to talk about them to avoid spoilers and I want to keep some things a secret so you can find out for yourself if you decide to play this game. Let me say this: so far, I haven’t got anything bad to say about a game mechanic.

Something I really like about this game is the quick save button. You can quick save during exploration. A feature I wish was implemented in the previous games, to be honest. It makes redoing certain parts a bit easier. You can only have one quick save.

From what I read, if you want to fully complete this game, you will have to play give or take 25 hours of it. This means that there is a lot of gameplay for a visual novel. If you rush through the game, you will have a playtime of 15 hours. So, that means I’ll have a lot to enjoy in this game.

A bug I sometimes experience is that the text flies by without me touching anything. Thankfully, you have a message log and you have a button so you can replay the voice acting. But those moments fix themselves as soon as I swipe down and bring the message log up. I have no clue what caused it.

In my honest opinion, I think that this game has a lot to offer for Corpse Party fans and horror fans. I wouldn’t recommend this game as an entry into the Corpse Party franchise. Besides, I think it’s unfair to critique the 3rd game in a visual novel series that’s very plot-heavy that isn’t accessible to first-time players.

The Android version also has the achievements you have in the PS Vita version. This is quite neat. But, something very neat is the fact you can back up your save in the cloud and download it again if needed.

In terms of the difficulty, I can’t really judge the game quite yet since I haven’t beaten it. So, I will expand more on that in the review when I have beaten the game.

The load times in this game are quite short. This really surprises me. It doesn’t break the flow of the game one bit.

While the game has some flaws like too long novel sections, the inability to save during those novel sections, the overheating and the endless mode; the game has a lot of strengths like an amazing visual presentation, a lot of twists left and right and is pretty immersive.

I’m really enjoying myself with this game and I’m thankful that the developers ported this game to Android. While I can understand that some people won’t enjoy this game, I’m enjoying it. Again, the game has some flaws but it doesn’t outweigh them to not enjoy the game.

If you are looking for a way to play Corpse Party Blood Drive and you don’t have a PS Vita, don’t wait to pick this game up. I honestly think this game is worth the asking price. You get a lot of game for your buck and the Corpse Party fan in you won’t be disappointed. At least, that’s how I think about the game.

I could ramble on about this game for a while longer, but I think I’m going to leave it here. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then have a great rest of your day and take care.

First Impression: Prey (PC) ~ Pew Pew – Indian Style.

Prey_(Xbox_360)Wikipedia entry

Usually, I rarely play shooter games. There are the odd exceptions like TimeShift and Prey. I have never talked about this game haven’t I? That’s simply because I actually started playing it just recently. I got my copy when a friend of mine got this for his birthday but he doesn’t like to play shooters. Since he knew I collected games and played a lot of them, he gave it to me. I think I own this game for over 5-6 years now and I never played it. I’m quite surprised I didn’t, since yeah. It’s worthy to get an article! Anyways, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my article and or the game in the comment section. 

Pew Pew – Indian style

prey2

So, why did I choose for the title “Pew Pew – Indian Style”? Since this game is at it’s core a shooter. The game also borrows some elements from horror since at certain moments it keeps you at the edge of your seat. But believe me, while there are some moments that hint at horror, it is no horror game.

That explains the first of the title, but not the second. It’s simply that this game also has an Indian theme. While there is in America a game called Police and Robber, back in the day I used to play Cowboy and Indian…. You guys too? Anyways, that’s why it’s so crazy to me that a shooting Indian is the main character in this game.

As the standpoint of a writer, the story is actually pretty neat. It’s a story of somebody who doesn’t want to accept his family roots and he wants to save his girlfriend after being kidnapped by aliens. There are some flaws in the consistency actually. Suddenly you can see the translation of the alien writing and the can suddenly speak English. Maybe this gets explained but I was rather confused when it happened. Oh, let’s not forget how our hero is able to suddenly fire alien weapons, quite strange.

But the story isn’t perfect. I feel that some characters aren’t used at their full potential. Also, there is barely any development in the characters as far as I have seen. And I have played I until somewhere in the middle of the game. I have just beaten a boss.

Alien scum

11396062341So, let’s look at the other things in this game apart from the characters. The setting of this game is an alien ship. I’m so pleased that they didn’t went for a stereo-typical design.

The creatures all look alien, a bit scary and out of this world. Sadly, they look humanoid. This is something that I don’t really like, since then my mind wonders off sometimes that it are mutated humans, like in Half-Life. Oh well, the curse of my creative mind I guess.

 The weapons are actually quite fun to use. While it’s not clear if some weapons do more damage then others, I just enjoy using them. The fact that they made such animated guns is just amazing.

The level design is extremely linear. You go from point A to B. But the game is challenging. Some obstacles come back and can catch you off guard quite easily. This game is one of the few games where I see that weaker enemies from earlier levels come back. This gave me the feeling that the ship was somewhat alive and that you were at an actually alien ship. The atmosphere can be easily broken if the enemies only get stronger and stronger. The game gets more difficult, but doesn’t only rely on new strong enemies, they get more crafty with them.

The gameplay is just one of a kind. There are quite a few games where you are able to change into someone to solve puzzles, but the take Prey took is quite unique. You can actually leave your body to attack enemies unseen. Also, barriers won’t stop you and you can’t die while in spirit mode.

I haven’t seen the game over screen yet, since if you are quick and you can shoot moving targets quite well, it’s impossible to die. Does this take the challenge away? Not really, it makes the game more accessible to non-veteran shooter players as myself.

Just wow

screenshot2

So, the game controls quite nicely. If you press the button, the happens on screen. Something that amazed me is that this game still recognizes the additional buttons on my gaming mouse. For a game this old, I wouldn’t have imagined it would work.

Also, in some parts you can walk on walls and such. The camera follows you excellent. Also, the voice acting in this segments is just excellent, it’s just how you would react yourself. One minor nitpick is that the voice for the grandfather sounds a bit too young to me. But that might be just me.

Through-out the game, you can play mini-games. When there is a slot machine in a bar, you can actually stop your adventure and play a round. That’s some attention to detail there.

Oh, I’m almost running out of time. The final thing I wanted to talk about is the music. It sets the mood so nicely. The orchestrated music makes me tense and on my toes. You would expect from horror games a more slow, creepy soundtrack. The soundtrack for this game is anything but. It gives a Two Steps From Hell-vibe. It’s quite nice.

In any case, I think I’m going to close off this article right here. I haven’t said everything I wanted about this game but I think these things are better said in the review. You may be sure that I will write a review of this game when I have beaten it. I’m enjoying this game quite a lot. I only wish they didn’t cancel the sequel. I just cross my fingers that they return one day to make a new game in the series.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great rest of your day and hopefully until your next visit!

Review #022: Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows (PSP) ~ This Isn’t Right…

Corpse-Party-BOS-Box-art

Official website

Am I safe here? This darn school man. It’s haunting me. I’m trying to relax on my hiatus and getting my real life work done but this school is stopping me from progressing in my goal. I simply don’t understand. I have to fight this. The creepy ghost children aren’t helping. Wait, wait, wait… Haven’t I seen this before? Like some first impression I have written a some time ago. About Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows: First Impression. Nah, that can’t be. This must be an unlucky coincidence. Otherwise I could simply say that people could leave a comment with their opinion on the game and or this article. Hah! That would make life a lot easier. But no, I have to be trapped down here in this school. Again. Maybe my fate is different. Since I haven’t found the secrets. (Read, I haven’t played the secret episode. But I have finished the rest of the game.) So, I’m going to try to make a fair attempt here. Deep breaths. Avoiding spoilers and here we go!

Story

corpse2Now I’m quite sure I have … seen this before. This has an amazing story. Plot twists around every corner. This game actually got me off guard a few times and made me actually feel somewhat scared. And scared, as in it crawled under my skin.

It’s for sure better then the original. I feel that it has more depth and more interesting use of character. As if it were a sort of expansion pack for the original. You explore this hell forsaken school once more with different characters and their backstory gets more fleshed out. But where I truly applaud the creators here, is how one chapter actually took place outside of this Heavenly Host Elementary.

One remark has to be made though, some story parts are way too long. It asked nearly one full hour from me before I could start playing. While I adore long stories, this game could have dosed it a ton better. But with a healthy dose of humor, horror, heartwarming and thrilling parts… It’s forgiven.

The fact that you see unanswered questions get answered and how the characters are used to their full potential is just  mind blowing to see.  I said it before and I’ll say it again. This here, it nailed the story perfectly. I have barely any remarks to the story. And even if you have experienced the previous installment… This will have some quite unexpected turns.

Wait, what was that?

screenshot_0001_thumbSon of a gun! I’m quite sure I heard something. Maybe it was one of the amazing music tracks from the amazing sound track. Too bad that some of them are quite short.

Or might it be one of the voices? Like the amazing voice acting some have. Which brings amazing atmosphere to the table. What am I talking about? Reviewing voices? Am I going insane?

But those sounds, they are crisp and clear. Yes, they make me feel extremely scared. I’m afraid to move. It’s almost like the sounds got me extremely drawn into the game…

Damn, I saw a ghost.

Corpse-Party-Book-of-Shadows-3Maybe I’m seeing things. Maybe I’m not trapped in this school! Maybe I’m too drawn into this game. That might be it. It was such an amazing entry into the series.

And the visuals in this game blew me truly off my socks. Creepy hallways and “nicely” decorated classrooms. Every place was nicely designed.

None of the places felt unfinished. Every location had such attention to detail and some had some neat additional dialogue.

The cutscenes, are underused. The game has only a nice cutscene at the start where there a lot of images used. Here is the hard part, I barely can’t say anything about the animation of this game. Unless you take one new element into a count. The “corruption” level shall we say to avoid spoilers.

The more wrong moves you do, the longer you do to escape (a dangerous situation), the more red your screen becomes. It’s almost like you see a wave of blood passing in front of your face. And that is an amazing touch.

Gameplay

gallery_6_15_1819I think I’m safe. Thankfully. I knew that writing this article would have helped me. Now I’m sure that I’m a big fan of the Corpse Party series. And I waited on purpose with this article to give this game a special number.

And the gameplay of this entry didn’t disappoint one bit. Where you have a big limitation how you can move, you can explore every single bit of the school. Thanks to the new investigation system. It was truly such a nice thing to see.

There were also many tweaks to the game. Like the ability to replay voice acting! Yes, when you’re inside the menu, you can let the characters say their lines again in the “history” menu.

In addition to that, the amount of save slots. My lords, are there a lot of save slots. Maybe a bit too much, but I’m not complaining that much since you will need it. With the addition I mentioned earlier, you will need to save on certain locations since a screw up can be easily made.

The game can be a bit hard, but exploring each and every room to make sure you haven’t missed anything is a great way to progress. Another helpful tip I give is, explore the previous game also extremely well. If you do that, there will be additional content waiting for you in this game.

The length of this game is just mind blowing. I’m not going to lie that I was able to play this game for nearly a month. Admitted, I played various other stuff in that month in order to write some interesting articles for my blog. But to have it completed just recently, is just a great sign.

Where I have to applaud the developers here is the interesting addition of the bonus content. There are no extra chapters this time around, apart from one, when you have seen ALL the endings; including the wrong ones. You can listen to all in game music, with a sort of clunky player, and you can hear some behind the scenes commentary from the voice actors.

And with that, I’m going to leave it here for this article. While I realize that I have been vague on certain parts, I encourage you guys to play this game to find out how big of a master piece this game truly is!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Sometimes story parts are a bit too long.

– Some music tracks should have been a bit longer.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Epic audio work in both the music and sound parts that will really draw you in.

+ An amazing game with stellar visuals.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Nice bonus content.

+ Challenging.

+ ….

Final words:

This game truly held me in it’s grip. I can’t wait to replay the original Corpse Party in order to unlock everything in this gem. While I tried something different to present this 20th review of mine, I had a tough time reviewing this one. This game was perfect in my eyes and I could only nitpick.

I truly cross my fingers that xSeed games ships more of these developers over seas since they are truly worth the time and money. Since these two games were spot on classics for me. It even got me into watching anime and reading manga again. Something I stopped doing because of games.

This game series is one of my favorites. It deserves a spot on “my most influencing games of my lifetime” list. And pretty high on this list!

Anyways, it’s how I said before my conclusion, play it for yourself and you will understand that this game is made with the gamers in mind. This adventure is one that will grab you and don’t let you loose until the end!

Score: 99/100

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.~

First Impressions: Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow (3DS) ~ It’s Just Fun!

castlevaniamof

Wikipedia entry

So, my best wishes for the holidays. I have something special to announce. I got myself a wireless controller for my PC. That means that I can now play even more games than before. In addition to that, it’s the 50th article I publish on ButtonSmashers. Yes, 50th! And I’m nearing a big number on my personal blog as well. So, I’m extremely thrilled about that. But this is totally beside the point, I told you guys that I wouldn’t write any new article in 2013. I kinda lied. This is a new article, I guess. While I’m waiting for a download to finish to use my controller on, I played a bit of this game on my 3DS. It’s surprisingly better then I expected it in the first place. That’s why I decided to write an article about it. It would be lovely if you left a comment with your thoughts on this article and or on this game. So, let’s go. 

Story

castlevaniamofs.jpgIt’s going to be a shame to admit this but I know next to nothing about the story in the Castlevania series. It’s a shame really since I quite enjoy the Castlevania games. It’s actually Castlevania game I’m waiting on downloading on Steam.

The story, for as far I can understand, is pretty thrilling. The writing is pretty neat. I think it’s brilliantly written.

While I was thrown off at first by the presentation of the cutscenes, when I placed my 3D slider to the max I actually rather enjoyed the art style.

From what I have heard, this game will take place from different points of view. You don’t have to tell that to me twice to know that I’m going to play an excellent story. I have played multiple RPG’s from Konami and I was never let down by the story.

The voice acting. Wow. I mean, it just blows my mind how good it was. And actually still it. In the cutscenes, the voices add so much to the game. Yet, I’m under the impression that the game sometimes has a bit of a slowdown in the cutscenes with the 3D slider on. But that might just be me though.

“Mash”

castlevaniamo4Let me be clear on this, I hate button mashers with a passion. It broke the shoulder buttons of my original DS and I’m still kinda pissed about that. Yet, I’m glad that I learned my lesson and I don’t have to make other devices suffer the same fate.

ButtonSmashers don’t demand skill. In a sense they do, the skill to be able to tap a button very rapidly. While this game sometimes has it quick time events and it’s “mash the attack button” moments, I never really felt that they were a “mashing fest”.

Since when you aren’t careful, you’ll die. And in typical Castlevania style, the hearts don’t give back your health. You have to find fountains. And they aren’t close together. You have to react quickly and try to save your health.

In terms of controls, it’s acceptable. It’s one of the more weaker points in the game. While there is no “tutorial”, the controls are displayed briefly on the screen. So, experienced players won’t be annoyed by them.

While researching for the article, I came across an article on this game which called the combat one of the negatives. Well, here lies a problem. Since this game is a sequel to a 3D game, the combat is, of course, less bloody and such. I give them that, yet when you look at how this game works well in terms of combat as a 2D game, I think it can be excused.

Yet, something I didn’t welcome with open hands is the fact that when you die, you can get respawned in a boss fight with full health. Yeah, when you killed the boss halfway, you will respawn there.

Verdicts

castlevaniamof2Besides the weird respawning, there is something else that bothers me. The animation isn’t that great in my opinion. And before you write angry comments, let me explain.

The animation on the characters and such is great. Yet, we can’t really enjoy it that well since it’s a bit too zoomed out. It makes the game feel unfinished and that they use this technique to hide that.

While I already said that the controls aren’t the greatest, I have to talk a bit more about them. After you got used to them, they are pretty nice quality. The big issue is the fact that you need to get used to them. I wished that special powers could be done with a touch on the touchscreen.

The game is a good challenge. It isn’t too hard to be frustrating, but it isn’t too easy. This is a pureblood action adventure game. And the adventuring is really present. While you can easily see where to go next, exploring around gives you additional content. And more monsters to fight.

Defeated monsters give you XP. And when you level up, when you have enough XP of course, you unlock new moves. You can quickly check the moves list in your inventory so you have no excuse that you forgot the controls when you didn’t play the game for a while.

Also, Konami didn’t use any excuses in the art style. The game is pretty. Too bad that the game is a bit zoomed out. Otherwise, the art would have more detail in them and shined through a bit more.

I’ll probably go more in depth with my review but I’m liking this game so far. The music is also really nice. I like the soundtrack. Such a shame that no real good quality versions are uploaded to YouTube, so I could share it with you guys. In the sound department, this game is really well put together.

So in conclusion, this game would have been a lot better with some minor tweaks at the controls and a bit more zoomed in. But I think I’m going to leave it here. When I’m reaching that milestone on my personal blog, I’ll write a long special article. Thanks for reading and have a safe Christmas.

NekoJonez: Review #016: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Departure

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Official website

You would have thought that I would write my 15th game review on my blog. Yet, I decided to write it here on ButtonSmashers. Why? Well, to thank the guys for the great times they gave me and because Q gives me sometimes some free games and I think that means I need to pay him back somehow. So, I write an article on one of the best horror/adventure PC games ever made, well in the recent years. Besides, for me it’s all about reaching the milestone instead of the location. Another reason why I write it on my friends blog here is that I actually got this game for free from somebody of Arpegi. And my first impression is already on my blog. So yeah. If you want to read my first impression of this game, you can do that here. Anyways, unlike Alan here, I’m not in the dark. My dark, well black, cat is sleeping in my arms, making the time I spent on this review a lot longer then I originally planned. Oh well, the two additional collector edition episodes will have to wait. I have a game to review. In my introduction I always make it clear how I got to this game. Well, I got this game as a present. I was allowed to choose between three titles for buying someone a game. I knew the title Alan Wake from seeing it on a YouTube channel called Lazy Game Reviews. I wanted to link his video but the highly trained monkey’s of Google failed to work. (Yeah, YouTube has been bugging out for me. So, after some 500 error’s I gave up.) Anyways, enough stalling of this! Let’s get on with the review. Nothing special for the 15th, just a plain old review. And my plain old invite for you to write a comment what you think about this game and/or review. 

Manuscript pages

Wake_Barry.jpgThis game blew me out of the water. One of it’s many stronger points is the writing. It’s just an amazing story. Don’t go spoiling yourself because the ending is somewhat open ended and ready for a sequel. Yet, I haven’t finished the additional DLC’s yet. So, maybe I get my answers there.

I actually bought myself the novel version of this game. And I’m pumped to read it. I can feel Wake’s pain. He’s a writer who lost inspiration. Sometimes I have that myself. But apart from a story with deep and rich characters, it’s extremely memorable. It makes a lot of twists and turns. Even Alan starts to doubt himself from time to time. It feels more human.

The presentation of the story is what made this game for me. What’s going to happen in the (near) future of a chapter is written out on manuscript pages, some are extremely well hidden. Some provide backstory to the characters. While the pages play a very important role in the game, it’s implementation is just brilliant and how it should be.

I’m so sad that I finished this awesome story and this is one that I wished I could play over and over again without knowing the story. Where is that reset button in your brain when you need it?

Well, let’s talk about this game’s gameplay. And is it something where many game developers can learn from. You play the role of Alan Wake, like I told earlier, a writer who is in trouble. This game is a mostly linear adventure game, at some moments there are two or more paths, and it’s a shooter as well. But with a big twist. Before you can hurt your enemies, you must shine your flashlight on them. I only wish that not all enemies where male. But this is such an extremely big nitpick.

Ammo?!

cabinIn the game you use several weapons. A pistol, shotgun and a flare gun. You sometimes have flares and flash bangs at your disposal. And when you explore you can have more ammo as your reward. The additional batteries I found for my flashlight came in extremely helpful.

Yet with this comes on of my few complaints with the game. The weapon selection is not that great. When you play it, you will understand me better. But it’s as simple as putting everything under the scroll wheel. So when you wish to switch your flash bangs to flares without switching your weapon, well though luck.

And your objective is nearly always the same. Go from point A to B. Yet, the journey is always extremely different. From fighting through ambushes to driving a car to an other location, the game never feels really repetitive. This game also haves some major horror mixed in. From being in the woods with a lot of bear traps and the Taken following you to being in a hospital that is consumed by darkness.

I also love how the creators of this game hid several QR codes to scan in the game. I uncovered some GIFs with it. I’m so curious with I’ll find on my second playthrough. Yes, you read it correctly, I’ll probably play through this game more then once. Not only since the highest difficulty provides all pages to find but also because of several paths I didn’t explore and I wish I did.

One other complaint I have is that the driving is a bit broken. It’s too loose. You sometimes feel like you’re riding on ice. And with sudden tight corners in the road, this game makes the driving not so easy. Plus, your car can break down. Excellent, yet a damage meter is nowhere to be seen.

While the ammo for your weapons is extremely scare, you’ll never be without bullets. If you don’t waste them that is. With a human jump and a limited sprint, this gameplay can’t be any more talked about I guess. On to the next segment! Like in the game. It’s also in parts. And when you reach the next part, a quick recap plays. This makes being up to speed with the story such an easy task.

Well lit room

poltergeistLet’s first talk about this game’s soundtrack. I like almost every track. Some songs at the end aren’t really my style but I won’t talk bad on the game because of this. The set the mood like it should. The music gets tense when it needs to. And the music gets lighthearted when there is drama.

And the sound design is how I think it should be in all games of this genre. All weapons are such a blast to use because of this. Except, I miss a bit of a ticking sound for the flash bang. But that’s the only change I would do in the sound department.

And does this game gets tense. A full 100% yes please! The further you go, the more I got on the edge of my seat. This game provides a lot of challenge. One or two parts where a bit unfair but hey, that I can let slip.

The level design is excellent. I never really felt stuck and it was always clear in which direction I should head. Thanks to the ability to press “F” to focus on the part Alan was talking about makes that you have more control in your hands and that’s something I can only applaud. The only thin I should have dropped was the clicking to start an engine for light. One time it got a bit too difficult to remain fun.

Oh, now I suddenly remember that I should have mentioned in the gameplay section that there are various additional collectibles to find. Well, now that I mention it here, I can say that this games it’s length is great. I have beaten it on normal difficulty in 18 hours. Yet, I know that I skipped some parts and I haven’t finished the DLC. And I truly look forward to beat this game again with the developer commentary playing in my headset. Yeah, I advice you that you play this game with a headset, it makes the experience a lot better.

There are also parts in the game that you play with a side kick. And it’s AI is great. I had moments where I really was saved by the AI. And there where moments where the enemies really took me off guard. And I like how the animation helps you see enemies swarm you from different directions. This makes the possibility of cheap deaths go down so much. But before we talk about that, I want to say that I had to try some parts several times. Not because of cheap things but because I was truly taken off guard or I took the situation on with a wrong weapon. The bosses really require that you use the tactics of the weapons and ammo that you have.

So to finish this review, I’ll talk about the visuals and animation. And wow, the visuals are just mind blowing. The excellent voice work really shines through here. With nice and extremely well done locations, it’s a joy to walk around in this game’s setting. Nothing feels out of place and the developer really made it in such a way that this game might be real as well. The character’s detail is also well done.

I also like how you get a nice death animation when you kill the last enemy of the attacking group or when you die. The animation might have a hiccup here and there, it’s not really noticeable when you don’t pay attention to it or when you don’t look at it with a reviewer’s eye.

So, let’s wrap up this special longer review here and let’s get right to my conclusion, shall we?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

– The driving is a tad bit broken. A damage indicator and improved driving would be welcome.

– The switching of weapons isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Conclusion:

When even MiseryLC talks about this game, you may be sure it’s quality content. He didn’t play this game, he only saw a let’s play of the sequel. And I agree with my statement there. This game is a mindblowing experience. One that every one should play that likes adventure and horror games.

The presentation is unique. In terms of visuals and the story. It’s different yet familiar. It’s really worth to check this game out on Steam and play it right now.

I truly had trouble looking for negative parts of this game. This is one gem that should be high on everybody’s list. And it’s even a port from a XBOX360 game. Take that, a well made port.

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100

First Impression: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Questioning Reality.

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Official website

While doing research for this game I found something extremely odd. The official release of this game is 18+ yet the limited edition is 16+. Oh well, that’s the least of my concern. I don’t remember writing this first impression, yet it suddenly appeared on my blog. Alright, strange. Now something similar happened to me like to Alan. But thankfully I published some content on a blog that wouldn’t harm me as much as it did to Alan. He ran through the dark woods. Seeing a shack with a computer. On there, he bought a game for a friend of his on Steam. In return, he was allowed to choose out of a few games out of the inventory of that friend. He choose the Alan Wake Franchise since that was the game that interests him. (Personal note: that’s how I got this gem :3 ). Yet the nightmare started there. Scary things beyond his imagination started happening. He wasn’t able to finish a book in a long time. That poor writer. He felt he deserved a break and he set out to have a vacation. When his wife betrays that vacation and actually had a plan to get him back to writing, a kidnap happened. And it actually gets worse from there on out. (Feel free to leave a comment about your views of this game and/or your opinion of this “review”)

Legit scared

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Out of the introduction you get the idea to where I wanted to go with this first impression. I actually wrote this first impression again since I actually found that it was too forced. This game is all about Alan’s latest horror book coming to live. Yet, he doesn’t remember writing it. He often sees visions of him writing it and talking insane. This all happens while he is looking for his wife.

If that doesn’t sound creepy already, well then just start playing the game. Only one or two games made me actually nearly “piss my pants.” One great example is Corpse Party. But this game just did it before I wrote this article again.

I normally talk about the story first in my reviews and first impressions. And I have to applaud the presentation of the story here. During the play, you find pages of the manuscript of the story Alan was working on. This hides information like character backstory or things that happen or even happened. This sounds already like a nice set-up for a creepypasta. But the thought of you writing the future yet not being able to control it is scary.

The story is amazing. It might get a bit confusing since it uses a certain way of making it thrilling that not many people like. It doesn’t explain a lot. But seeing that this game is heavily story based, does that destroy the replay value? Lucky us, no. You can replay the game on the highest difficulty to gain access to some parts of the manuscript which rewards players that go for the hardest of the hardest.

Creative burst

507604-alan-wake-xbox-360-screenshot-after-taking-the-last-enemyWhile playing this game, I got a vibe from a game. The gameplay felt a little bit like the latest Tomb Raider. Yet, this game is extremely far from it. But both games give off a similar survival and creepiness factor.

So, the story is extremely well done with rich and deep characters, what else does make this game worth it? I must have my reasons to back this claim up. I don’t post just for the fun on my Facebook wall that this is one of my favorite games on PC.

The graphical presentation of this game is just pitch perfect. Details everywhere. Crows that fly around, shaking screens, barely visible traps… The game is creepy when it’s supposed to be and the transition is seamless.

I heard a lot of complaints about the animation on several forums. Yet, I actually disagree. I think the mood of this game and it’s animation is well done. There were only two things that bothered me. One thing is the, according to the developer unfixable, bug at the start on the boat where the scene starts shaking if you have auto aiming on. (Which is an extremely big help by the way). And the second thing is how the animals in this game doesn’t look as smoothly created as the humans.

Finish me

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I have actually one complaint with this game. I don’t really get into it’s soundtrack. The sound design is extremely well done. And it aids a lot when you play this game with a headset that supports good stereo sound. The further you go, the more faint voices become. But the music in some places is so cheesy I just wanted to finish and leave the area.

Okay, I might have yet one other complaint. And that’s how this game uses one or two jump scares. It made me jump. And in my opinion that’s cheap. Good horror shouldn’t relay on jump scares. I don’t see a monster waiting in the bushes thinking to him or herself: “Let’s wait for a second and jump in front of him and roar a bit and then attack.” Nah, it’s too cheap. And that is actually addressed in this game. The camera often zooms out when enemies are behind your back and you are at low health.

Adventure fans like myself will have to get used to some things like automatic opening doors and the jump being actually human. Yes, don’t expect being able to jump to ledges higher then you can in real life. This adds to the game an awful lot. This makes me think big time.

So, I haven’t finished talking about this game but I’m running out of time in this first impression. I try to keep these article around 1000 words to have a quick read if you are interested in the game. So, this means that for my opinion on the gameplay, length, difficulty, controls and voice work you’ll have to wait for my full review. So, thanks for reading and I hope to catch you with my next article. I’m going back to Alan, helping him finish his journey. I have spare pants ready neko’s. Don’t you worry!

First Impression: Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows (PSP) ~ It’s not over just yet.

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Link to the official website

You thought it was over after Corpse Party? Well, think again, Corpse Party Book Of Shadows shows the tale extremely different. With the opening of this game, you get the impression that this game is a sequel but once you actually start with the game, it’s clearly far from a sequel. Corpse Party was an excellent visual novel horror adventure game for the PSP, I truly enjoyed playing it and directly got myself the sequel. And I have been playing it often. The game is extremely different from the original and in this article I’ll talk if those changes are for the good or for the bad. Be warned, this article is about my first impressions of the game. I have only played a major part of the first chapter. I’m also finishing up the bonus chapters in the original, since you can unlock content with it in this game. But enough talking in this introduction, let’s dive right into Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows.

Deeper story.

In the original game I would go far if I told you that the characters weren’t developed. While it’s true that you don’t get a lot of information about the characters themselves, the actions of the characters easily shape a picture of them. But this game takes it a step further. In the first part I played of this game, I have already gasped several times.

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In this game, things that you could suspect in the original return. What’s Seiko’s deal with Naomi’s ass anyways? Well, you get the answer in this game.

This game seems to have a deeper story. You can always check back on the previous conversations by the touch of a button. And here, it’s getting in the right direction. You can scroll up and down and get to the top and bottom rather easily.

A major improvement is the ability to save anywhere you want and there are even more then just one save file! The save system is greatly improved since the original.

One thing I didn’t like is that you have to watch the introduction movie if you start the game for the first time. I honestly admit that I forgot to save the game after the first time I played it and I couldn’t skip the long introduction. Before you can get to some gameplay you will have to go through huge parts of text. I’m sure that this first part took me more then a hour to get through. Man, I wish I had a speed-up button.

The original is a joke

617350_20130124_640screen001Yes, the original is almost like a joke to this game. The visuals are kicked up a big notch. You now run in a sort of 3D world. The graphics are extremely nice made for this game. You can see the cursed school from all it’s 3D glory. And this get a thumbs up from me.

The voice acting is extremely well done too. I have had the annoying part where you tapped the confirm button way to fast that the voices couldn’t follow. Yes, the original had that slight problem. This game doesn’t have that issue.

Also, the more the cure gets to you, the more blurry your screen gets. And this is such a nice addition. I actually don’t understand the mechanics of that just yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.

The controls aren’t explained but they are straight forward non-the-less. You can search each room easily and when you can get information about something, you cursor will turn blue. Also, the parts that are timed, don’t interrupt the gameplay at all. But those didn’t interrupt in the original game either.

Time to turn up the amazing dial. 

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I gave the original game already a high score, but this game seems to run past it with ease. And I have only played the first chapter. The music is tense, and memorable.

With hints to the first game everywhere, in the music and story, this game is an improvement of the first game. I can’t repeat that enough. With the save files you can now see when and what time you made that save file.

There is one step back though, with the name tags list, they were better organised in the original. There it was per chapter and you had a little picture for each corpse. Now, both aren’t there. Oh well, that’s a minor nitpick anyways.

I realize that my thoughts in this article are all over the place but what I forgot to mention with the story is that thoughts are now no longer simply between brackets. Oh no, they are now in a different colored box. That’s great for newcomers to the genre. What’s also better is that there are more visual pictures to look at while the story is unfolding. There is less use of a black screen with a box in this game.

Have I mentioned that this game is slowly growing towards my list of most influential games in my life of all time? Only my favorites get  on that list and this game is a big blast to play. I don’t mind the long waiting times between gameplay since the story is extremely well written. The voice acting draws you in even more. The sound design is one of the better ones I have heard in a game for a while.

Music that I want to listen daily too, memorable characters, great design and a challenge for every gamer. This game is getting a high score from me already, but is the game going to keep it this game throughout the whole game. That you will read in the review, when I am done with the game. But for now, NekoJonez signing out.

Review #008: Corpse Party (PSP) review ~ The school of doom.

Corpse Party (USA)

The site of this game.

First Impressions article

Warning for gamers & parents: This game is for 16 year and older. This game contains a lot of gore, blood and foul language. This game can be extremely creepy. For those who are easily afraid, play with caution. 

I started to play several XSeed games before, and I didn’t realize things about this game since I started reviewing it. While researching this game, I learned that this game is a port of a Japanese PC-98 game made by one person. He won a competition with that, nearly 5 million yen. The game is then ported to the PSP year later. These are signs of an extremely good game. But, is it? Or is this game an experiment of that Japanese developer to check if the game is ready for western releases? It’s obvious from my first impression article that I liked this game an awful lot. Now that I finished the main story line, it’s time to give this a proper and full review. Is this game truly worth the praise I gave it? Or is the game now going to fall flat on it’s face? Let’s dive into Corpse Party. 

The ritual

corpse_party_3It has been quite some time since I got scared from a video game. Horror games are usually a no-go for me. It contains jump-scares and cheap tricks for scaring you. Games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward are major exceptions on that rule.

But I wanted to change that one night and I booted up this game, just before I went to sleep and I started to play this game with earphones in. And I am glad that I did. Like I said in previous articles, I love myself a good story. And this story really drew me in.

The game is also based on a manga. And I now want to read the manga, to see how good the recreated it. If the manga or the game was first, it isn’t clear to me, I can’t tell.

But this story made me gasp, be silent and got all my attention. The pacing is just perfect. The game is creepy. Very creepy, but it doesn’t overdo the creepiness at any point. The game is creepy if you read the text. The point here is that the writing is extremely well done.

What adds to the game is the voice-acting. The voice acting is where I think this game shines. The Japanese voices really add to the story and make you feel the emotion that they tried to show. Also, the sound of the voices matches the characters displayed on the screen quite well and I didn’t have any character where I would use another voice.

So, the story is extremely well done. And it really gets thrilling. Plot twists are around every corner. Sadly enough, it’s obvious sometimes what the fate of some characters will be but how slow or how fast it goes down really makes the game unpredictable.

Uniqueness

6289325919_6407efd37c_zThe gameplay caught me off guard. I’m quite surprised how many visual novel games have such unique gameplay.

Your goal is to escape a cursed school and find your classmates and teacher. But, at that cursed school something extremely terrible happened. And something is there to stop your progress. That’s all I can tell you without spoiling the story too much.

The game has 5 chapters. The length of each chapter continues to grow larger. With the amazing finale with over a 2 hour playtime if you don’t get stuck anywhere.

There is a twist. The game has multiple endings each chapter. And these can be triggered by one wrong move. This makes the game difficult to play. This game won’t hold your hand and you fell a sense of reward if you finish a chapter. There are points that give you hints but overall, it will be all up to you.

There is one major flaw with the gameplay though. The save system. I didn’t like it one bit. You can save by using candles placed all over the map. But some are so far out that when you get a wrong end, you get frustrated. Also, you can save your system data, which means you save the tags you found and the game also saves that you achieved a certain wrong ending. Which can get confusing. There is also a save feature that you can only use once. If you load that save file, the save deletes itself after loading. This isn’t such a great feature. For a good save file system, Virtue’s Last Reward got it right.

I’m here.

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The music and sound are extremely well done. The music does what’s supposed to do. For some players, it can feel a bit out of place but for me, it actually worked. I really gave me that Virtue’s Last Reward vibe and really got me hooked. If I can buy the album somewhere, I certainly will.

Although, on very rare occasions you can make the music glitch out and not play. And some parts don’t have music. But this is so nitpicky.

The soundeffects, something I always am very strict about, well made me zip my review mouth. Really, they are good. Everything sounds like it’s supposed to sound and it doesn’t have any sound effects too much or too little. They got it right with this game.

Graphically, this game looks dated. And is this a bad thing? Not at all. If you compare it with how it was in the PC-98 version the game got quite a big improvement in the graphics. But I love how they didn’t make the graphics become “too new”. It still has that feel of the original games without being too “ugly” for the graphic lovers. The characters look nice and the location of the game is lovely. But, there is one flaw in the graphic department.

The animation isn’t all that great. Lines where bridges need to come, walking in less then 5 frames, some characters seem to slide over the scene instead of walk. It feels extremely basic. It doesn’t take you out of the experience but it really brings the game down in my opinion. It’s a big missed opportunity.

Before I forget, this game also got the amount of gameplay and story quite right. There are parts where you need to go through large chunks of text, but you get a lengthy part to play too.

There are also 10 additional chapters. I think you can unlock them by getting the wrong ends or collecting certain tags. I haven’t played these yet, but it surely adds to the replay value.

And that’s about all I can say about this game, let’s go on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Bad-ass story.

+ Memorable characters, setting, story…

+ Graphics feel rightfully old school.

+ The music is one of the best I have heard in a while.

+ Soundeffects are well done.

+ The voice acting really adds to the game.

+ Lengthy game.

+ It will truly challenge your skills.

+ Different endings.

The bad:

– Save feature.

– Animations aren’t polished.

– The rare music issues and silent area’s.

Conclusion:

I barely score games a full 100. And this game got close. The game is really well made and got me into gaming once more. I was slowly growing out of gaming and wanting to review and write again. Yet, this game made me change my mind.

The story is unique, doesn’t exploit the usual cliches and takes twists and turns without getting too complex. The music is great and the voice acting adds to the game. I can’t repeat it enough.

If you play this game in the dark or not, it’s up to you. But pay attention, it will draw you in and hold you there for as long as you can play the game.

Apart from the major flaw of the animation and the bad save features, this game feels flawless. Leave in the comments what you think of this game.

Score: 95 / 100