Tag Archives: journalist

First Impression: Accident (PC – Steam) ~ Let us Learn About Saving Lives

Steam store

For those who do not know yet, I work as an IT Admin in a big art high school (secondary school) in Belgium. Also, I have a lot of games in my PC collection that are part of the “edutainment” genre of games. So, when Duality Games offered me a free press copy of their newly released “Accident” game, I was extremely interested. As usual, the developer asked me to give my full 100% honest opinion, so that is what you are going to get in this article. So yeah, does this game hold up while being reviewed by somebody who is working in the education sector for 7 years now? Let us find out and let us find out if it is fun to play as well as a game. Personally, I want to find something out as well from you, the reader. I want to find out what your thoughts and opinions are on the game and/or the content of this article so feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.

Reviewed version: Build 1.05

Let us Learn About Saving Lives

In this game, you play a nameless person who is working for a nameless company that started a new project called “Roadside Heroes”. In this VR-experience, you are set in the shoes of a person who encountered a traffic accident and it’s to you to make sure that the people in the accident make it out alive.

In terms of story, this game is a bit lacking. Since it’s unclear if you are working for a game company who is working on a VR-game about traffic accidents or if you are a part of your police training or if it’s for the emergency workers or if it’s part of a recreation program for reports and journalists… It is all a bit vague. On one hand, this can help to insert yourself in the game and make the story whatever you want but on the other hand, I felt a bit disconnected from the game since the story didn’t immerse me. (Now, I am going to completely ignore the fact that the store page gives more story since I mostly focus on these articles on what is told to the player through the game itself.)

While writing this article, I was asking myself: “Should this game even have a good story?”. And this is a tricky question to answer. For reasons I will explain later, this game can be a perfect teaching tool to help people what to do in the event of a traffic accident. It can also be a great “shock game” for people who feel that traffic laws are only a suggestion. So yeah, in that case, the fact that this game does not have a too in-depth story is a good thing since it does not get in the way of the actual intention of the game.

Most of the story is being told through your phone on your desk. After completing a case, you get a text from Mark telling about the next case. A neat detail in this game is that the clock on the mobile phone matches the real-time of the system clock.

In terms of writing, this game is decent even for a “lacking story” (which again, is not a negative for this game for the reason I explained earlier). There is some minor voice acting and voice work but most of it is nothing special to write home about.

So, this game starts off with a tutorial case. In this case, you learn the basic operations and mechanics in this game. It teaches you the controls and the steps you should take during the other cases. The tutorial is a little bit hand-holdy, but I noticed that this only happens during the tutorial since you are mostly on your own during the other cases. You do have objectives to complete, but it is up to you to find out how to complete these objectives with what you learned during the tutorial. So, let us dive right into some cases and start saving lives.

Teaching tool?

Each case starts the same way. You drive towards the site and you call the emergency services. The reason why I feel like this game can be a great teaching tool is that in various moments, a non-intrusive box appears on the top in the middle of your screen with the reason why you would do such actions in real life. For example: “Turning off the engine will stop the chance of engine fires in real life.” This can be very helpful advice and maybe save lives in the real world. This is not the only occasion that this happens.

This game can teach you a lot of things but there is no backend for the teachers. So, there is no way to see how your students reacted or if they had to redo certain cases or how they failed… Honestly, if this would be added to the game, it would make this game a very powerful teaching tool for those traffic lessons. But teachers can be creative and maybe this can be used in group work.

Before I ramble too much about that, let us put the focus on reviewing this game as a game. This game has been localized in different languages. You can play this game in English, French, Chinese, Polish, German, Spanish, and Russian. Since I know some French, I tried this game in French and I can tell you that the translation is done extremely well.

So, what do you have to do in this game? Well, you play the role of the guy or girl who was the first person that intervened when the accident happened. You must call the emergency services and provide first aid to the victims if needed. After that, you must piece together what happened and why the accident happened.

There is something unique about each case. In one case, you are knee-deep in the Russian winter, and in another case, you are in the extremely hot desert. If I have to give a genre to this game, I would say that it’s a puzzle game since you need to find out what the right steps are to finish the case with the least amount of deaths. Sadly enough, when you did not provide the correct aid and somebody died, it is game over.

On one hand, I dislike this mechanic and on the other hand, I don’t mind the mechanic too much since you can rewind time at any moment to redo a certain part in case you can do it better or faster. When you press “R”, you can rewind time to a previous decision point. The longer you press “R”, the further you go back.

Sadly enough, this means that there is only one way to complete each case. I silently hoped that this game would have worked with some sort of rating system where you could see if your actions saved the most lives or were the best way to handle the situation.

The whole package

If you look at the credits of this game, most of this game is created by Paul Dyvel apart from the music and the 3D art in this game. I must be honest, for the result is rather impressive. Let us first talk about the controls of this game. Thankfully, I was able to rebind them since this game does not recognize the keyboard layout “AZERTY” from Belgium and France… But that is a nitpick I have in almost every game.

Sadly enough, I do have to complain in terms of the controls. The first complaint has to do with putting out fires. I feel that this is a bit too pixel perfect. I had to redo the tutorial several times because I was unable to put out the fire. I honestly do not understand how to put out the fires since there is not enough feedback to the player in my opinion to tell them if they are actually putting out the fire or missing it completely.

The second complaint is about CPR. It took me a while to get into a correct rhythm for the chest compressions but when I learned that the heart rate graph is a nice indication to get in the correct rhythm, I didn’t have problems with chest compressions anymore. But here is the most annoying issue. It is the breathing mask and its controls. You must drag your mouse up and down. But that dragging up and down… Well, I know I have a small mousepad, but I almost must drag it all the way up my desk. It is a bit much. Also, as soon as you let go of dragging up, you must restart that breath… It is a bit too finicky. Apart from those two issues, the controls are quite responsive and easy to learn.  

Let us talk about the audio-visual design. In this game, the music is created by artists over at SoundStripe.com. It is extremely kind of the developers to list in the credits which artists were used. But I am unable to track the actual tracks down. It is a shame since I really enjoy listing to the tracks, and I would love to hear more from the artists. In terms of sound design, I think Paul did a very nice job. I have to say, I highly recommend that you play this game with a headset since it enhances the sound design and the music so much more.  

Something else I would like to talk about is the difficultly of this game. This game rides that fine line of being too easy and too challenging. Some scenarios are a bit too easy in my opinion. The scenario in America was over before I knew it while the two other unlocked scenarios were trickier to finish.

It is time now to talk about the visual presentation of this game. This game looks amazing for being created by such a small team. The models look extremely detailed and they are nicely animated. I love that there is some attention to detail like the chest slightly moving when you check if the victim is breathing or not.

It pains me to say that in some cases, I noticed that some corners were cut. For example, the textures for the clothes look less detailed than the other parts of the game. Another example is the car mirrors, it is quite clear that a less detailed version of the road is playing in it.

While this game has high attention to details, there are a few mistakes in terms of details that can break immersion. For example, the Wi-Fi symbol on the phones while there is no Wi-Fi access point nearby. Or the fact that the kilometers per hour do not make any sense on the dashboard of the car, I have even seen it go into the negatives several times during the Russian case. And let us not forget to mention that you can enter cars while holding victims without an issue.

Thankfully, these are small little things that are not a big deal breaker in terms of immersion and gameplay. Since overall, the atmosphere and the visual design of this game are good. The environments like quite real and apart from what I mentioned above, I barely have any complaints or suggestions to improve.

This brings me to the final part of this game I want to talk about. And that is the UI. There are a few things I would like to say about the UI. Overall, the UI is pretty good apart from several minor issues that give the game an unpolished feeling. Let me give you a few examples. Granted, some of these examples are visual issues combined with UI things.

Number 1: the “return” button can clash with the feedback button. This results in being able to return from the accident screen and opening the feedback screen.

Number 2: the feedback screen is strange. You do not get a message if your feedback has been sent or not and you have to select a thumbs up or down when you want to report a bug…

Number 3: you are unable to open the pause menu during the rewinding of time.

Number 4: there is no “reset to defaults” button in the video settings of the options menu.

Number 5: the credits text is a bit hard to read. Speaking about the credits, they do not wrap. So, you must scroll up to restart them. And the strange thing is, that this does not always happen… Sometimes I can easily read the credits. I think it depends on the resolution.

Number 6: when you complete a case, the complete sticker appears over the name of the case. Making you unable to read it.

Number 7: you are unable to skip the intro to each case.

Number 8: you are unable to scroll in dropdown menus.

Number 9: you do not get an error message when you try and double-bind keys.

Number 10: you are unable to save during a case. You must do them in one sitting. But after finishing the case, it autosaves.

So, in general. What do I think about this game? Well, I honestly think that this is an enjoyable game and a nice concept. I think it would be a shame if this game does not get more cases or some sort of a sequel. Thankfully, there are high hopes for that! Since this game is in early access now. There is a demo version available but reading from the reviews, that’s less polished than the final product.

Would I recommend this game? Yes, I would. I think this game is a great adventure/puzzle game that also teaches you several things about car accidents. While the game takes some liberties on how to save people, the game always tells you when the game and reality conflicts. Also, each country works quite differently… But that is a whole other can of worms where I do not have the right knowledge and specifications to discuss. So let me say this, always call the emergency number when you come across an accident and ask what you should do and follow their instructions. 

So, I am quite curious about which improvements this game will get when it is in its final state. There are going to be more cases, tweaks, and improvements. If I have the time, I will write a follow-up article and review this game but for now, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, with that said: thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article 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: A Hat In Time (PC – Steam) ~ Time Pieces Everywhere

Ahatintime.jpgOfficial website

I could start this introduction to this game with talking about how this game took a long time to develop, how this game started on Kickstarter. Yet, that wouldn’t be needed, since that’s a well-known fact about this game. While I have beaten the game, I haven’t 100% it. I’m pretty close, but that doesn’t stop me from writing a review of this game. I played this game on PC, using a wireless XBOX360 controller. So, I hope you are ready to dive into this game since I’m ready to review it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

“Mafia is here to collect”

a hat in time.jpg

In this game, you play as Hat Kid. She is flying home in her spaceship. When she gets into trouble with a mafia dude messing with her spaceship, Hat Kid’s timepieces drop down to the planet below. It’s your goal to find them and collect them all so you can get back home.

The main story of this game is really light-hearted, but it does the job pretty well. The writing of the characters is just amazing. All the characters you encounter on your journey are pretty memorable.

In addition to that, the voice acting is just perfect. Sometimes I really felt that these characters were real. The voice actors may pat themselves on the back for this. I really enjoyed that part of the game.

The story made me laugh several times and made me smile over and over again. The charm and attention to detail in this game is just astounding. In one outdoor level, rain is falling. And Hat Kit is wearing a raincoat in that level.

While the final boss shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who played the first few levels of the first world, the way how the ending is handled and the motivations of the characters wraps up the game nicely. There was even a moment I had to pause the game and put my controller down. The game had hit a personal chord with me. I’m not going to explain why and how to avoid spoiling the end but it’s just great.

Something I really like about this game is how no cutscene drags on for too long. You are right into the gameplay after a few minutes. This is a feeling a lot of other reviewers share with me.

Pretty worlds

A Hat in Time2I could continue to talk for quite a while about the writing, but a review of a game should talk about more than just that. The writing brings so much charm to the game just like the visual presentation. The game just is eye-candy.

The atmosphere that’s created with the visuals is just amazing to look at. I had several moments where I was in awe just finding little secrets in Mafia Town. The world feels alive. Just like the writing, the visual presentation adds so much charm and personality to the game.

Something I only noticed when I watched Nitrorad’s video about A Hat in Time was the different idle animations Hat Kid has. She is so cute and adorable. If I could, I would love to have her in my friend circle without a doubt.

So, the visual presentation, animation, and writing all help build an amazing world. While there are only 4-6 worlds in the game currently, depending if you count the final boss level and the hub or not. This might seem that the game is rather short, and it is.

The game can be beaten in one day if you know what you are doing. Yet, there are rumors floating around that there is more content coming in the future. I also heard that this content is going to be free. Yes, two new free worlds! I can’t wait to play them. If you can’t wait, there is a Steam Workshop and mod support in this game. So, you can play a lot of player created content to ease the wait.

I’m playing this game casually and taking my time with it. I’m taking everything in and think I can complete the game in 20 hours. But, I don’t want the game to be over. I just want to continue to run around in the unique worlds and explore each level as much as I can.

The theming of each world is just amazing. While a lot of people say that their favorite world is the 2nd world, the Bird Studio world, I have to disagree. In that world, there is too much focus on stealth. A game mechanic I don’t really enjoy. I really loved the 3rd world. The more creepy world. Something just clicked more with me in that world.

I can’t put my finger on just why, but maybe the music has to do with it. The soundtrack and sound design of this game are just wonderful. I even bought the soundtrack and I put it on my phone in my day-to-day playlist. It’s that good.

This game is mostly an adventure/platformer game in the style of Super Mario 64/Mario Sunshine. For those games, you need great control or otherwise, you won’t be able to fully enjoy this game. For no special reason, I started playing this game with a controller and to be honest, it clicked. While I think you would enjoy this game with mouse & keyboard, I think that playing with a controller is the way to go for this game.

The attention to detail in the game continues with the controller actually. I have seen so many games where when you boot it with a controller, keyboard input is disabled. This isn’t the case in this game. Also, when you boot the game with a controller and press a key on your keyboard, the on-screen button prompts change to the keyboard layout and give a quick pop-up at the side: “new input found: keyboard”. That’s a great feature.

The control is really great for this game. The only thing I had to get used to is the wall jump mechanic. Hat Kid can climb a little bit up instead of sliding down. But, in order for this to happen, you have to press the button to move forward. The times I pressed the jump button and fall to my doom… Well, it happened more often then I dare to admit.

While I had an issue here and there with Hat Kid not being able to jump when she is under a ceiling, the patch that arrived earlier this week fixed a lot of those instances. Whenever you report a problem, the community is really helpful to try and solve it. Also, the developer actively reads the Steam Forums and tries to create a patch as soon as they can. I wish more developers did this.

The UI of this game is just excellent. I really enjoy how simple and to the point the UI is. I have nothing more to say about that.

What is this game exactly?

HatinTime3

So, I have been praising this game to the heavens and I haven’t talked about what you have to do this in this game. Well, let me fix that.

If you know how Super Mario 64 works, you know how A Hat In Time plays, somewhat. You have 4 different worlds that feature different levels each. In each level, you have a certain goal to achieve and your reward for completion is a timepiece. In some levels, you can also find a time rift. These bring you to special raw platforming stages that reward you in the end with a timepiece. You will have to find these time rifts since you only get a photo of the area where it is, so you will to explore the world to find the timepiece.

A minor complaint I want to bring up is that when you find a time rift and find the timepiece, you go back to the hub. The issue here is that you aren’t able to return to the world you were in, where you found the timepiece. And one time, I nearly finished a level and I hit a time rift by accident. For those curious, it was the lava level in Mafia Town.

Apart from each world having a unique theme, they also have unique gameplay styles. For example, in the 2nd world, there is more focus on stealth. While in the 3rd world, you have to do chores for the demon of the forest.

I really like the diversity the game brings to the table. Each world and level puts your skills to the test and challenges you with great challenges. You will have to use all your hat abilities multiple times. I felt that nothing went underused in this game.

I really enjoyed collecting the yarn balls to craft new hats. I really enjoyed collecting the green gems to buy new badges to further expand Hat Kit her skill set. You even have a badge that makes the game even harder, one that gives you one health point for example. You can quickly change between hats. Also, time slows down when you switch between hats.

Speaking of challenge, the part that gave me the most challenge were the bosses of this game. They are all unique and have different attack patterns. Something I recommend that you do when you are stuck with a boss is trying to figure out their patterns as soon as you can.

This game isn’t too challenging. The penalty for dying is starting the stage over from the last checkpoint. And the game is very forgiving with health pickups littered all over the stages.

All in all, there is a lot to experience in A Hat In Time. The gameplay offers quite a lot and I can’t wait to see what the end worlds will offer. I think it would be cool if we have an Egyptian or Greek themed world. But, we will have to wait and see until more information is released.

Another big positive of this game is that the game only costs 28€ here in Europe. Believe me, I find this really cheap for the content you get.

Now, is this game perfect? So far, I have sung a lot of praises about this game and I haven’t mentioned anything negative about this game apart from the game’s short length and the nitpick about time rifts.

One flaw this game has is that the camera can be really annoying to control. Something a lot of other reviewers mentioned as well. I do have to agree with them, the camera can be annoying sometimes. But, it works amazingly more often than not.

Another flaw is how underdeveloped the time rift tokens are. You find them in hard to reach or hidden places. You can use three of them to spin a roulette wheel for new visual costumes/colors/remixes of songs. Now, when you exit out of the roulette wheel without picking a price, you lose your rift tokens. Besides that, when you want to unlock everything, you can’t. Since there are more things you can unlock than there are rift tokens.

I also don’t like how the game completion percentage only tracks the number of timepieces you have. It would be cooler if it also counted if you have unlocked all the hats and things like that.

The only minor issue I have with the UI is the fact that sometimes it didn’t display when I reached a checkpoint in the game. It didn’t happen once or twice, and it’s a real bummer.

One of the biggest things that annoyed me in my playthroughs is the hat changing. Now, this is a minor flaw and a nitpick; but it’s something I would love to see changed. Sometimes, when I quickly changed a hat while I was using the controller, the game didn’t register it. I have to wait a little bit longer before the hat is changed. Now, this issue isn’t present when you play with a mouse and keyboard since you see a visual line going to the hat when it’s selected. This isn’t present when you are playing with a controller.

Here is another nitpick. When you alt+tab out of the game, the music is still playing.

The biggest issue is the occasional glitch in this game. There are a few things that bug out, like Hat Kid getting stuck on walls while she uses her grappling hook but these things are easy to recover from. Also, with the frequent updates, a lot of these bugs are fixed as long as you report them.

But, I think you see my point here. The issues with the game aren’t game breaking or made me enjoy the game less. I do admit that the game isn’t flawless, but the flaws that are present are more minor problems.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. There are a few features and things I left out this review about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts on this game in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-There are some occasional moments where the game glitches out.

-Switching hats with a controller don’t always work when you do it quickly.

-The camera can cause some issues here and there.

-The game is way too short in its current condition.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Fun and lighthearted story.

+ Great level design.

+ Amazing variety.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Apart from Super Mario 64, I haven’t played a lot of games in this style. When Yooka Laylee released earlier this year to mediocre reviews, I didn’t have a high expectation for this game.

After a few minutes of playing this game, I was hooked. The charm and atmosphere of this game are just so addictive. I really enjoyed my time with this game. A Hat In Time has grown on me. I wish I did back the Kickstarter for this game back in 2013.

This game is so much fun to play and I can’t wait to fully complete this game. After I have beaten the game, one thing is for sure, I’m going to try out the community created mods and wait for the new worlds to arrive.

This game is one of the best games I have played in 2017. The amount of effort this small time put into this game is just mind-blowing. This game has no major flaws and it comes highly recommended from me.

While some people would say that this game does nothing innovative, I think you shouldn’t hold it against this game. It’s clear that this game is highly inspired by other titles but it’s a great homage and it does everything in such an amazing execution.

The game has flaws, yes. But, the flaws didn’t stop me from enjoying the game an awful lot.

Thank you Gears For Breakfast for delivering such an amazing game and I can’t wait to see where you take this game. I also hope you guys are also thinking about either more worlds or a sequel since I’m hungry for more Hat in Time! You have put a smile on my face from beginning to end.

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

Score: 100/100