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Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Trinity Awaits You.

Tomb_Raider_raid

The logo for this project is created by The Well Red Mage

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collabarative project. In this project various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look on every game in the main series. You can read more in the hub article here.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

I remember the day that the picture leaked of the guy working on a powerpoint presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the metro. I was so hyped for the 3rd Tomb Raider game. I quite enjoyed the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted to see how the trilogy ends. I pre-ordered the game as soon as I could. Of course I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I was able to play this game 48 hours before the official release. Now that I finished the game, it’s time to give my honest opinion on it. Is the game any good or should you skip it? Let’s find out. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Trinity awaits you

20180912191126_1If you are planning to play this game, I highly recommend that you play Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider before this game. The story in this game continues on the story of those two games. While you will be able to understand and follow the story in the game without much problems in this game, the impact of the story will be stronger if you played the first two games.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep some parts a bit vague in my plot description. So, in this game, Lara and Jonah are exploring Cozumel in Mexico for a piece of the artifact that Lara’s rival gang Trinity is after. It doesn’t take long before the duo finds Trinity and they discover something huge about Trinity. This leads Lara to a nearby temple where she finds a dagger that sets off a chain of events that might spell the end of the world but this might help Trinity to succeed with their plans. Now, will Lara be able to stop Trinity and save the world? Since Trinity awaits you in this game…

The story of this game is your typical adventure movie story. Personally, I enjoyed the story in this game quite a lot. The writing is pretty well done. I grew attached to the characters in this arc and it kept me engaged. While I was able to predict some plot points and twists from a mile away, I was entertained by it. The pacing of the plot is so good, I was less distracted by side quests than in the previous two titles.

The story takes you on various locations in Mexico and Peru. There is one section of the game that will put a huge smile on veteran Tomb Raider players, but I won’t spoil that one. While a lot of the game takes place in the jungle, the scenery never gets boring. I totally loved exploring the world after I had beaten the main story and I can’t wait for the additional content that they are going to release in the upcoming months.

Something I would love to talk about is that this game had two different epilogues. In this article, I want to focus on reviewing the game in its current form but if you want to know more, Kotaku has a great write-up with developer commentary.

The writing and pacing of this game is excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors where giving it their all while creating this game. When Lara gets mad, she really sounds mad. Something I think is amazing is that the NPC’s can either speak English or speak in their native language. This setting in the option menu is such an amazing immersion feature. It really adds to the charm of the voice acting.

Now with the reboot plot wrapped up, I’m quite curious to where they are going to take Lara next. Which adventures will Lara have next? Will they create a new game when Lara is older or will they create a story that takes place right after this game? Only time will tell.

Take a jaw dropping picture

sotr.jpgWhen I saw the minimum requirements of this game, I became worried. In order to play this game, you need to have an i3-3220 Intel processor or something similar of AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has a i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660. So, my computer fits the requirements of the recommend system requirements besides my graphics card. I was so afraid that I would be bottlenecked due to my graphics card. I was afraid that I had to put everything at the lowest settings to even get a playable framerate out of the game.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  I was able to play the game at medium visual settings at somewhere between 25FPS to 66FPS. The framerate was quite stable as well. While I was playing, I ran MSI Afterburner on my 2nd monitor to keep track of the temperatures of my GPU and the usage. Since that caused issues in Rise of the Tomb Raider for me. In this game, I only experienced three game crashes in that 48 hour pre-launch period but a quick restart of the game fixed the issue. And since the patch released on launch, I never had those crashes again.

25FPS might be too low in some people their opinion but I don’t mind it that much. 30FPS is still an acceptable frame rate for me and I don’t mind it that much, I understand that a lot of people prefer 60FPS, but I’m just glad that I have the game at a playable and stable frame rate.

I’m happy that my computer can run this game since this game takes you on an amazing journey. You come across gorgeous landscapes that are begging you to use the photography feature built in this game. This is even a small basic editor included. I only used the photography mode once, to test it out. If I ever replay this game, I have some spots that I totally want to use this feature on and create some amazing wallpapers.

While the visual presentation is amazing, I did experience some tearing issues and I saw some clipping. But, this happened so rarely and fixed themselves so fast, they weren’t a big issue. Most of the tearing issues were just for a few seconds here and there in a cutscene. I have to admit that updating my graphics card to the latest driver made me have even less tearing issues. So, if you are experiencing them too, check if your graphics card is up-to-date.

Visually, this game is jaw-dropping. While exploring the packed jungle, hidden cities and various tombs; you get even more eye candy with the animations in this game. From Lara jumping down to make a stealth kill to two characters speaking to each other in a cutscene, the animations are extremely well done. One minor complaint I have is that some death scenes felt a bit reused from the previous two games, but some look even better than before.

Yet, there are a few things about the visuals I thought weren’t the best they could be. The first problem with the visuals is that sometimes when the game reloaded after I died, the visuals went to a lower setting. This happened to me 5 times out of nowhere. Yet, after a patch, I didn’t experience this issue so I guess that might be fixed.

A 2nd complaint I have with the visuals is that the liquids in the death scenes became see through. It might be a nitpicky complaint, but I felt that it was rather awkward. It didn’t feel quite right. It would have looked a lot better if the camera zoomed out with Lara’s scream fading away as if she drowned.

Now, let’s talk gameplay. Since the reboot, the gameplay of the Tomb Raider series changed quite a lot. There are more action sequences in between puzzle segments and the exploration of tombs. Lara has a few new abilities compared to the previous two games. Outside of the expanded moves with the grapple axe and the stealth mechanics, all these mechanics are underused.

For example, some enemies have heat goggles. These enemies appear so frequent, it’s a gimmick. Another example are the underwater creatures, like eels and phirans. These can provide for some unique swimming puzzles but they are rarely used or are quite easy to avoid. Also, there are some tripwires that can activate traps. But, these traps are always the same trap and the same way of disabling them. It’s sad to see these mechanics under used so much.

Something that really annoyed me is that when you used the explorer sense, Lara almost always gave the solution of the puzzle away immediately. She spells out what you have to move to where. Even this sense sometimes provided the solution to the puzzle. This made some puzzles in this game too easy. I preferred it when Lara didn’t gave the solution right away. It was especially frustrating when she talked over dialogue. In one tomb, Lara and Jonah were exploring. While they were talking about the room they were in, I pressed the explorer sense button. While Lara and Jonah were having their chat, Lara spoils the solution of the puzzle. That way I didn’t hear what Lara and Jonah said. It would have been much more fun to solve the puzzles when Lara didn’t give away the solution away so quickly. It should work like those special mushrooms in the latest Mario games, that it appears when the player keeps failing to solve the puzzle or is stuck in the room for some time.

It’s a shame, since the puzzles are very fun to solve. They are well crafted and I enjoyed solving them. Thankfully, the issue of Lara spoiling the solution doesn’t happen with the platform sections. These were amazing to play through. I can’t wait to see what the new challenge tombs will bring in the upcoming months. On the 14th of November, a new tomb will release. I can’t wait to explore it.

Anyways, when I changed the puzzle difficulty to hard, Lara didn’t do this. I wish I knew this earlier, before I had beaten the game. Since, I had chosen the “Rite of passage” difficulty. It would have solved one of my major gripes with this game. I did have to set it to the hard setting, and that took away a lot of things in the explorer sense as well… So, I’ll stick to normal and just not use explorer sense only if I’m stuck.

Something I really love in this game as well is that you have more than one indicator on the map and in the explorer sense. You have the yellow marker that guides you to the next story point, the green one for the side quest you are doing and the blue one for the marker you set in the map mode. This is so handy and helped me to keep track of certain things. Great feature!

Orchestral exploration

20180912191114_1This game has an orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack has been composed by Brian D’Oliveira and he created something amazing. The soundtrack adds so much power to the cutscenes and the game.

I also added the soundtrack to my music library. It’s a great soundtrack for when I’m writing various articles or when I’m playing other games like Minecraft or Europa Universalis IV.

It was especially tense during the stealth sections. I’m the type of player who usually goes all out and doesn’t use a lot of stealth. In this game, I highly recommend that you are careful while you have enemy encounters. They can quite easily overwhelm you if you go out of hiding too quickly. Also, in this game, the traps like flaming bottles and smoke bombs are way more useful than in the previous games. They helped me quite a lot. The music is a great help in these combat sections, since it’s your guide if there are still enemies around or if you have defeated them all.

Together with the great soundtrack, the sound effects and sound design of this game is extremely well done. I played this game with headphones. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you use a decent pair of headphones or speakers. The sound effects and the music add so much to the experience and the immersion, it’s essential in my opinion. It made my heart pound at certain moments and I felt so relieved when I was finally able to beat that section that gave me problems earlier.

The controls in the game are good. I do have one complaint and that is that I find the controls for the crafting system a bit awkward to use. I got used to it, but I preferred the crafting system in the previous game where you were able to map the crafting of (special) arrows or ammo to a single button. Now you need to use two for them. Then again, I see the benefits of the current system, so I think it’s a personal complaint.

I never had any major issues with the controls. Maybe once or twice that Lara didn’t grab a ledge, but these things happen in games all the time. The checkpoints in this game are frequent enough that you don’t lose a lot of progress. The game also has an autosave so you never have to worry that you lose progress.

Earlier, I talked about the extended mechanics or the grapple axe. The grapple axe is an essential tool in Lara’s arsenal in this game. She uses it as a sort of whip to swing across gaps, Indiana Jones style. She also uses is it for stealth killing, climbing almost vertical walls and using it as an anchor point when she needs to go down. There are certain moments when you hang on a wall right above the entrance of a tomb and Lara has to lower herself to either safe reach the ground or to swing back and forth to create enough momentum to jump to the platform that leads to the entrance of the tomb. Rappling down was always a great joy to do.

Now, there is one mechanic that actually returns from a previous Tomb Raider game. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, there are certain sections while you use your grapple you run on walls. This mechanic returns in this game. It’s used in combination with the lowering down mechanic I described in the previous paragraph.

These mechanics were fun to use. Slowing going down and seeing the big temple appear in the distance were my favorite moments in this game. It really made me feel like I was exploring the area. Paired with the amazing visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed myself quite a lot. Speaking about those visuals, sometimes your path blended in with the environment so well, it was fun to explore. Trying to find the path you had to take to find your way back from a tomb. Also, in some platforming sections, especially when you are escaping from a crumbling building, the visuals make it even better to play through. You have rubble falling just past you or poles you bending the right way for you to continue. The adrenaline in these sections was amazing for me.

Now, this game took me 20 hours or so to beat. On Howlongtobeat.com, there are people who have beaten the story in 13 hours. I think I might complete this game, so I have a few additional hours in this game. The difficulty of this game really depends on the abilities and outfits you use. The fewer abilities you unlock and if you don’t use the benefits of your outfits, the game gets a lot harder. But, I found this game not that difficult. There were a few moments that I had to redo, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times but each time I learned the patterns of the enemies or where I needed to go. The game provides some challenge but once you get the mechanics down, you breeze through this power fantasy.

Now, about the difficulty. There are a few different options. Something I really like is that you can set the difficulty for combat, exploration and puzzle. So, if you find something too easy and you want more challenge, just change that in the gameplay section of the option menu. The only nitpick I have about the menu is that there should be a “confirm” button. Since it felt kind of strange that the changes happen right away to me. Then again, that might be just me.

Also, if you are quite nostalgic like myself, there are outfits that even remodel Lara’s character mode to look like in the earlier Tomb Raider games. I think that I’m going to use those outfits to complete the game now that I have beaten it.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat in this game quite a lot. Outsmarting your enemies and silently killing them before they can group up on you to overpower you was enjoyable. I felt my heart pounding when I was finally able to beat that one section I had to do over and over again. These sections made me consider playing other more stealth focused games in the future.

A big plus in this game is the in-game store. In the two previous titles, ammo could become a bit too rare to find in the post-game. This is solved by merchants in the villages you visit. There you can buy gear and ammo. You can also sell your materials for coins. This is a great mechanic since you really need to think on what you can sell if you want to complete this game.

The final fight in this game really took me back to the old school Tomb Raider boss fights. I only wish that it was a bit more challenging. I was able to beat the final fight with only dying twice. This time it felt like a proper final fight and not a gauntlet of enemies. It’s the best final fight in this trilogy.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of my review.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

-Sometimes some minor visual issues like tearing and clipping appear.

Final thoughts:

As a veteran Tomb Raider player, I wasn’t disappointed in this game. While I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, it did click with me. I enjoyed myself while playing this game and I think that this game turned out amazing. The biggest flaw of this game is that some fun mechanics go underused. Maybe these mechanics might be more used when I up the difficulty in my next playthrough.

I enjoyed playing through this game so much that I’m going to play through this game again for sure. The visuals are extremely well done, the animations, soundtrack, sound design… it all pulled me into this game. If you really enjoy playing adventure games like the 3D Indiana Jones games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider or games of that nature, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.

In my opinion, this is one of the best Tomb Raider games I have played in recent years. It reminded me why I enjoy playing through this series so much. The adventure is just so much fun and it reminds me of watching Indiana Jones when I was younger.

I can’t recommend this game enough. If you can, buy the season pass. I know that this makes the game more expensive but the additional costumes and the additional challenge tombs that will be released in the upcoming months will be more than worth it.

Thank you Square Enix, Eidos Montreal and all the other companies who helped develop this trilogy. I hope you continue creating adventures for Lara Croft. The quality of this game is amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for the journey and I hope this won’t be the last stop. You thanked your fans in the credits, allow me to thank you and your team for this amazing experience! Keep on creating those tombs and we shall keep raiding if it’s this amazing of a game.

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, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

Review: Angels Of Death (Switch) ~ Halloween Adventure

Wikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game that’s perfect for Halloween night. Since I played and fell in love with the Corpse Party series, I have high expectations when it comes to playing RPG horror themed games. So, what did I think of “Angels of Death”? Did it live up to the fun I had with Corpse Party or did it fall flat on it’s face? That’s what I want to talk about in this review. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the game and/or the content of this article.

“I saw a murder”

Fair warning for everybody who wants to play this game. This game is quite story based and try to avoid reading too about the story to avoid spoiling the whole game. To avoid ruining the game for those who want to play it after reading this article, I kept the spoilers to a minimum and the screenshots of the early game.

That said, in this game you take on the role of Rachael “Ray” Gartner. A 13-year old girl who claims to have seen a murder. She is taken to a hospital for counseling. However, she finds herself waking up in an unfamiliar basement. Now, she has to escape since she heard over a speaker that she is a sacrifice, what ever that might mean.

And that’s everything I’m going to say about the story. The story takes various twists and turns and it’s a wild ride. The writing and pacing is top notch. Personally, I loved the writing in this game. The characters are memorable and quirky. I loved every single one of them.

This game contains a lot of dialogues. If you aren’t into those games, I would recommend that you skip this one. Since none of the dialogues are voice acted. But, after I had finished the first chapter of the game, I watched the first episode of the anime and I have to say, that those voices just played in my head while I was playing the game.

The writing made me laugh and sit on the edge of my seat. It’s a great story to play on Halloween night. It’s a game that takes the horror route without using too much gore. The only sad thing is that this game is only 8 hours long. The game doesn’t have any replay value or multiple endings, so I felt empty after those 8 hours. Empty for more.

This game touches upon a few themes that could be a trigger for some people. From murder, a whole range of cuss words to religion. In my opinion, the game never went into offensive territory but if you are easily triggered about these subjects, keep an open mind if you are playing this game.

“Exploration of the basement”

At it’s core, Angels of Death is a puzzle game. If you have played Corpse Party or a game from the Zero Escape series, you will be right at home playing this game. The goal of each chapter is to escape the floor you are trapped on. In order to do that, you have to solve various puzzles while exploring the basement.

The game is quite linear, so there isn’t much room to explore the basement. I never got stuck in this game and I never needed a walkthrough. This game is quite easy to finish. It does provide some challenge but if you use the save system like I did, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget that this game doesn’t automatically save your game. You have to manually save the game. You can do that whenever you want, expect from a few special moments like chase sequences. When these moments happen, the game gives you the chance to save right before they happen. You have 99 save slots, so you won’t run out of slots. And yes, you can save over a slot.

This game has 4 chapters, so 4 puzzles for you to complete. To be honest, you don’t need to play this game for the puzzles. Some of them were too easy and I didn’t even notice that I was solving a puzzle. The flow of this game is a bit too streamlined. Yet, it didn’t pull away from the experience. Besides exploration, there are a few sections that provide some variation in the gameplay. There is even a section where you have to shoot something to clear out a room. These sections were too short.

This is the big issue I had with the game. The game is a lot of fun to play but it’s too easy. The story is amazing and has the right length and pace so more gameplay would have made the story unnecessarily longer. So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

During the various sections, the controls never failed me. I mostly played this game in handheld mode or in docked mode. The controls are easy to understand and quite quick to learn. I never had any issues with them.

In terms of the UI of this game, I think it’s quite good apart from one minor thing. In the “load” menu of the game, I wish there was a bit more info on the save slot. For example, in which room I saved. Oh well, that’s a nitpick.

“Zack’s laugh”

The visual presentation of this game is great. It’s quite clear that this game uses a version of RPG Maker for this game and it uses it quite well. Each map is quite detailed. The visual presentation really added to the atmosphere of the game. The animations as well, I really loved the animations during story segments. They made some characters come to live.

Some parts of this game are hand drawn like the character models. This adds a lot of charm to the game and they reminded me of the anime I still have to finish. My favorite character in this whole game is Ray. I can’t explain why, since that would mean I would spoil the whole game.

Something that adds quite a lot to the game is the soundtrack and the sound effects. The soundtrack of this game consists mostly of techno and orchestra tracks. I’m so glad that I also bought the Steam version so I could add the soundtrack to my library. It’s a joy to listen too.

The sound effects are amazing as well, to such a degree that a lot of people miss the sound effect of Zach’s laugh in some tracks. I have to agree since I always heard his laugh in the track while it wasn’t there. The story had such an impact on me.

My only complaint is that the music tracks are a bit too short. Some are only one minute long and I like them quite a lot. I wish they created an extended version that wasn’t looping the song three times over. Oh well, this again might be a nitpick.

This game has the perfect price in my opinion. You can buy this game for 15€ in the Nintendo EShop. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time we wrap this article up and go for the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Too short & easy.

The good:

  • Amazing story.
  • Amazing soundtrack.
  • Amazing art & animations.

Final thoughts:

If you enjoy RPG-maker games that give you more of an adventure like Corpse Party or the Crooked Man, this game is for you. If you want to play a short and fun game during Halloween night, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Personally, I loved the writing in this game so much that I want to replay through the whole game while I even know how the game is going to end. I understand that this game isn’t for everybody. With the large amounts of dialogue, the easy puzzles and the short nature of this game, some people can get turned off this game. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game.

I was glad that I had this game on the car trip during my family weekend. It was such a blast to play. My only regret is that I didn’t keep this for Halloween night. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, this game is also on Steam. So, go grab it and enjoy it!

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 (spooky) rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

Review: Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ A Building Quest

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Wikipedia entry

How would I explain Dragon Quest Builders? Should I say that it’s a Minecraft clone with quests? A more interactive version of Minecraft Story Mode? Or should I say it’s a Dragon Quest game with elements of Minecraft? In any case, I mentioned this game in my “10 games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018.” article last year. Now that I have finally beaten this game, I want to talk about it, give my honest opinion on it. I played this game on the Nintendo Switch and let’s take a look at why I looked forward to Dragon Quest Builders and if it held up my expectations. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion and/or thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article.

 A Building Quest

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The story of this game takes place after Dragon Quest I. Yes, the NES original game. The world of Alefgard. But this time, the hero of Dragon Quest I actually accepted the evil DragonLord’s suggestion of ruling beside him. So, the world falls into chaos and darkness.

You are woken up by the Goddess to help rebuild the land and only the land. The Goddess reminds you frequently that it’s not your job to defeat the evil Dragonlord. Now, will this legendary builder be able to rebuild this land and fill his role or will this builder want to do more?

The writing in this game is amazing. It’s so full of character, charm, and humor. There is a lot of text in this game and there is no voice acting. This could be a problem for some, but not to me. Something I really love is that each world you help to rebuild has a different theme and different style of writing. The story itself might be generic and you might be able to predict the ending, but the presentation and how it’s delivered excuses that negative in my eyes. I got attached to some characters and when I had to move to the next world to save, I almost didn’t want too. I didn’t want to leave the people I just got to know and build this city with.

The more you read the story, the more the world gets fleshed out. You learn a lot of details about every character you meet. Your goal is to rebuild the land, and you do this with the Banner of Hope. You place this banner at the ruins of a city destroyed by the evil Dragonlord. The light that’s produced by the Banner of Hope attracts people and they will arrive to help you out in rebuilding the city.

Now, there is one catch. You are called the Legendary Builder for a reason. One of the reasons is that you aren’t the Legendary Hero that is going to take down the evil Dragonlord. The other reason is that you are the only one who remembers to create things.

So, when you are exploring the world and find new objects, you sometimes get a recipe or remember how to build a certain object. Sometimes you get blueprints for your town residents to build a certain room for them. This is one of the building quests you have to do to progress in the story.

There is some sort of replay value in this game as well. As a test, I replayed the first chapter twice from start to finish. While I finished the world quicker the second time, my city looked completely different. So, I had a different fun experience.

Where to next?

DragonQuestBuilders3

Now, to progress into the story, you take on quests of your villagers. There are two types of symbols. One has a quest and the other is a symbol that enemies are going to attack your city. I’ll talk more about the combat later.

So, when you take on a quest, you have to rescue somebody out from the wilderness, defeat some monsters or create a certain room or object. If you have to go outside the city, a quest marker will be placed on your map.

The map system is something I truly liked in this game. You never have an overall map of the world you are in. You can only have an overhead view of your area. There is always a white flag and an arrow showing you the direction of your town. While each area you can visit is big, I never got lost.

Yes, each area. When you beat certain waves of monsters attacking your city, you might be rewarded with a portal. This portal brings you to another area. Something I really like is that the world is interconnected. If you go to the edge of the world, you might be able to see the next area. There is an invisible barrier, a strange force, that’s stopping you to build a bridge over the ocean to sequence break. (For those who don’t know what that sequence breaking means, it means doing things out of order. Breaking the intended sequence of events.)

If you visit an area where your town isn’t located, you are able to pick up a Navi-globe. When you place this object, you get another marker on your map. So, what I did is placing this marker at the portal back home or at the location of a sidequest. In total, each world has three globes you can move to whatever location you want.

So, you can explore the large worlds at your leisure. Trying to find all the side quests and collecting as many resources as you can. I loved running around in the world since the visual presentation of this game is amazing. My favorite world was the final 4th one. I loved the conclusion of this game.

Visually, this game looks and feels like a real Dragon Quest game. While I was playing this game I often had memories of playing Dragon Quest on my PS2, DS, and 3DS in the past. There are a lot of easter eggs in this game to the earlier games. The animations of this game added quite a lot of the visual presentation. I didn’t find anything that felt out of place. The only “creepy” thing is that when you are talking to somebody, other characters could move. And villagers almost always turn their heads in your direction when they are close to you.

I felt at home while playing this game. This might have to do with my love of Minecraft, but also with it playing on my nostalgic love for gaming. The best example is the soundtrack. The soundtrack of this game has no real original tunes in it. The soundtrack of this game is completely orchestrated and it is all tunes you heard before in the Dragon Quest universe. It’s like a “best of” album. Oh, and there is a music easter egg in the game for you will enjoy if you like retro gaming or the old school Dragon Quest games.

While this game has no voice acting, the sound effects in this game are good. Most of them I have heard in previous Dragon Quest games, so nothing new there. but they work pretty well. The only voice acting I have heard in this game is the sleeping, damage, and death sounds of the main characters. Which are pretty great.

Now, exploring the worlds are pretty fun. The controls of the game are a joy to work when you get used to them. And I got used to them pretty quickly. The only annoying thing is that the camera can be annoying sometimes.

I had to struggle with the camera here and there. Especially when you are in small rooms or areas. I had such infrequent issues with it, it didn’t bother me too much. But, I heard from other reviewers that it caused problems when you wanted to create a very detailed city. Since I’m not really a builder but more of a resource gathering and explorer, I didn’t experience that much camera-issues.

Speaking about camera-issues, I think I should mention this. This game runs on a quite stable 30FPS on the Switch. While I didn’t have an issue with that, I think this might be an issue for some people. So I wanted to mention it.

Just press the button

DragonQuestBuilders1

My biggest issue with this game is elsewhere. I had a problem with the combat. The combat in this game is pretty stale. You are only able to create short-ranged weapons. The situations where you can create a long-range weapon are pretty rare. The biggest issue with the combat is just what the subtitle said, it’s just pressing the button. There aren’t a lot of enemies that require a different strategy than to run at them, hit the attack button until they are dead. Sometimes you had to back up and use a healing item, but really, there isn’t any more strategy than that.

It gets even worse when your villagers are helping you in fighting enemies. I had times where I wasn’t able to see my own character. Thankfully, you are able to create your own character and playing around with the colors to make it stand out more helps a lot.

Thankfully, combat isn’t the main focus in this game. There was a mission in the 2nd world that got pretty difficult but it really helped me to understand the flow of the combat in this game. And after trying that wave 5 times, combat just clicked for me. I got the flow of combat and I never got any major issues with the enemies in this game.

That’s why I haven’t seen the game over screen too much. When you die during exploring the world, you lose a part of your inventory. Just like in Minecraft, your items drop at the location you died. Unlike Minecraft, items never despawn.

If you die during a combat mission where you are defending your city, you can restart the fight or go back to a save. Speaking about saves, you can only save using the Banner of Hope. You have five save slots per world. I highly recommend that you save often since this game doesn’t autosave.

Whenever I saw the symbol that enemies were going to attack my city, I saved. Sometimes after a couple of quests, I saved. Now, here is a fair warning for the gamers who like to build and decorate your city who want to play this game, use the save system to your advantage. Since some enemies can destroy buildings. I admit to restarting some battles because too much of my city was destroyed. Thankfully, you don’t have to go look for new materials, since everything dropped on the floor, but I wanted to avoid the damage. So, it’s a good idea to defeat those enemies first. When you learn the patterns of the enemies, you won’t have such a hard time.

Speaking about that, this game isn’t too difficult. If you keep an eye out on your supplies during combat and learn what makes each enemy tick, you won’t have too many problems with this game. The game does provide you with various challenges but I rarely had trouble. A great tip I can give you is, that whenever you are using a healing item; stay out of range of your enemy. Since an attack cancels out the healing or when you are using the chimera wing: the teleporting. Oh, and these wings also teleport the people who just are traveling with you.

If you always craft the strongest armor and weapons, you won’t have any issues. The weapons I loved the most in this game are the hammers. It didn’t only help in building, but it was really strong. So, if you want to make this game more difficult on yourself, just explore with weaker gear.

In addition to that, each world has a different challenge. In one world you won’t find a lot of food and in another, the enemies provide a big threat. The learning curve of this game is perfect. You learn a different skill in each world and everything comes together in the final world. The final boss tests everything you learned until that point.

Speaking about the boss battles, they are pretty good. There wasn’t any boss battle I didn’t enjoy or that I wanted to see changed. The weakest is the 2nd boss since I felt it didn’t have enough connection with the theme of that world.

One feature I really like in this game is the Big Colossal Coffer. This chest works like an ender chest in Minecraft. Sort-of. When you place it down, your inventory space gets a lot bigger. but here is the amazing thing. You can take out and put things where ever you are in the world. I have to admit that this mechanic helped me a lot.

Now, I have mostly been praising this game. Is there anything negative I can say about this game? The game does a lot well, each world has 5 additional side quests. These side quests are only revealed when you finish the world.

So, what is something negative I can say about this game? I could nitpick about the crafting system could use a feature where you choose how many times you want to create an item. It’s one or all. Yet, I think the crafting system has an amazing feature where you don’t need to have the items in your inventory to craft the items. If they are in a chest or your coffer in your city, you can use it to craft items. So, you don’t have to look through every chest when you want to craft something.

Another thing is that I was unable to create a certain block in the final world to finish the roof of my castle. While I was researching if there was a recipe for this block, I learned it was one of the blocks that your villagers could create. Mine didn’t, sadly enough. Yet, the fact that villagers create items for you is extremely helpful. Especially when you build them a place to create food. Something that would be lovely is that you were able to assign tasks to your villagers, so who does what… but then again, you don’t lose any items while they craft for you.

Earlier I said that this game has only 4 worlds. You might say that the game is short. And yes, the story of this game was over too quickly in my opinion. Yet, when you do all the side quests and you want to completely explore the world, you can spend a lot more time with this game. And let’s not forget the free-roaming mode where you can even share your creations with other players. I haven’t finished the free-roaming world, so there is still some fun to be had with this game for me.

Something that annoyed me was that when you were building blueprints, you had to start with open space and use only the blocks that the blueprint has. So, if you use wood instead of dirt for the wall, the quest won’t register as finished. Yet, nothing stops you from changing the blocks after you have finished the quest.

Another irritation with this game is that very occasionally, I was unable to have my room recognize as a room. Especially when I dug into the walls to try and escape enemies and use the sleeping mechanic to fully heal. Yet, waiting out the night to heal wasn’t too bad when this happened. Besides, the times that this happened I can count on one hand. So, it’s not that big of an issue.

Something that I sometimes wished is that I was able to farm certain blocks. Especially flowers or ivy. And the only reason for that is that I was too lazy to explore the world if check if I have forgotten to pick it up.

The only thing that I really disliked, and didn’t have a positive thing to balance it, was that some resources are extremely limited or hard to get. But then again, I only had an issue with this in the last world just before the final battle. So, yeah.

This game really hooked me. The sequel to this game looks extremely promising. There are a lot of features added that would be amazing in the original. So, I’m quite excited about that.

The only big negative I can about this game is that it isn’t released on PC or other platforms. I think that this game can get some popular when it’s released on PC and other platforms. Then again, I’m glad that this game got ported to the Switch, since trying to find a PS Vita nowadays isn’t the easiest of tasks.

Phew, that was a lot. Truth to be told, I haven’t talked about everything but I wanted to leave some things as a surprise for you guys. But I think it’s time for a conclusion in this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-The camera can be pretty annoying sometimes.

-The combat can be quite bland.

Positives:

+ Great writing and story.

+ Amazing controls.

+ Great visuals.

+ Exploring various vast worlds.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I’m so glad that I played this game. If you have a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, you owe it yourself to pick up this game and play it. Even if you aren’t a fan of Dragon Quest/RPG’s or Minecraft, this game is a lot of fun. If you truly dislike both, then I would recommend you to skip this game.

I had high expectations and hopes when I started to play this game and this game didn’t disappoint at all. There were some things that I didn’t like, but it rarely hindered the enjoyment I had with this game.

Each time I got defeated by some monsters or a boss, I got another attempt in trying to defeat them. Not only that, I felt I was drawn into the world and enjoyed the game from the start to the end.

After finishing this game, I really want to play the sequel. Until then, I think I’ll keep playing this game since every time I boot it up, I find something new to do or to improve in one of my 5 towns. Including my free-roaming one.

I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m currently trying to finish all the side quests I haven’t done yet and experimenting with Free Roaming. I just hope I won’t run into trouble with that when the Switch Online service launches in a month.

I’m curious to hear your stories about this game in the comment section down below. And if you pick up this game, feel free to tweet me a picture of your cities or your adventures to my Twitter: @NekoJonez.

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.

Score: 100/100

First Impression: Across The Moment (PC) ~ Let’s Go On A Journey!

Across the moment logo

Official Steam Page

Today, I want to take you on a journey. The journey that the game “Across The Moment” tell you. Currently, the first episode is out. There will be 4 episodes in total. The three other episodes will come as an update in the future. To write this review, I got a review code from the developer. The developer also gave me full control in what I could write in my article. So, this is completely my opinion. In any case, enough introduction. Time to get reviewing this moment. Well, “Across The Moment”. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Note: While I have almost finished the first episode, I’m not going to make this a review since not all episodes are out.

Artstyle tells it all

Across The Moment (2)When you look at the promotional screenshots of this game, one thing is quite clear. This game doesn’t look like your run of the mill adventure game. And it is, this game is trying to tell a grim story about somebody falling into a depression and doing something. I won’t talk about it since it would spoil the game a bit in my opinion. But believe me, this game talks about some heavy subject matter. It also has some social commentary that really made me think about how our lives currently work.

The story gets more power from the voice acting. While the voice acting didn’t click with me at first, after the story started to get more and more clear, I started to understand and appreciate the voice acting and the direction it got.  The only thing I shall say is, imagine it’s somebody telling his life story about he fell into a depression and how defeated he felt. It really comes through in the pacing and voice acting.

Apart from the dialogue, the story is also told by the journal. Whenever something happens, it gets written down in the journal. From story bits to observations of the world you are in. I really like how this game is written. It clearly shows a passion for the story that the creator wants to tell with his game.

Everything is documented from the game, so when you take a break from the game for a while or when you need a refresher on what happened in a certain place or world, you can look it up in the journal. It’s an extremely handy tool.

Thanks to the dark artstyle with bright colors, the story gets even more meaning. The only issue I have with the art style is that sometimes the game is a bit too dark and you barely see where a wall is.

Visually, the game succeeds in setting the required atmosphere. I really liked the world building and the story is told through symbolism. The animations are great too. The use of color really helps to guide the player to where to go next. If I may change one thing in terms of visuals is that more items you can pick up like the screwdriver or the belt are in a different color, even a different shade of grey. Since it’s not always clear if there is an important item you missed or not.

Let’s Go On A Journey

Across The Moment (3)The first episode takes about 1 and half hours to complete if you really know what you are doing. If the other chapters are this long, I think you have a 12-hour game on your hands. But, let’s keep our focus on the current released episode.

This game is a 3D adventure game. It’s more of a walking simulator with a lot of puzzles and exploration. So, basically, it isn’t a walking simulator at all. In this game, you have to solve puzzles to be able to open doors and progress to the next area. Here is where some issues are with the game. My biggest complaint is the inventory. In my honest opinion, the inventory system is decent, apart from one thing. The system that is used to combine items is just annoying to use. Perhaps it’s a limitation of the Unreal 4 Engine being used, but it’s annoying to use. You must click on the ying-yang symbol, drag one item in the left box and the other item in the right box and click on the misaligned “yes” to try and combine them. You don’t even get any feedback if you can’t combine the items. It makes controlling the game annoying.

Which is a shame, since the controls for this game work fine for the most part. I wish that the controls were rebindable. Since, just like various other indie titles, they don’t know that “AZERTY” exists and now I must put my fingers weird again.

Just for you QWERTY-users, a reference. To move forward, I must use the Z key. And to move backward, the Q-key. The S & D-keys do their job fine. Anyways, let’s get back to reviewing this game.

There are two other things I want to point out about the controls. One is there is something odd you can do while you open your inventory. You can still duck, stand up and jump. Also, when you hold any of the movement keys, you hear the walking sound effect.

The second thing I want to talk about in terms on the controls is the jump. Besides having a great jump arc, the jumping is stiff in my opinion. I noticed that when you jump first and then press the move forward key, you don’t reach as far as you jump after you have moved forward a bit.

The jumping mechanic needs some polishing up. I found it frustrating and unreliable to use, especially in the platforming segments of the game. There was one segment in the game that took way too long to make. It would be great too if there were some checkpoints between the jumping segments. There is nothing more frustrating than being almost at the end of a jumping segment and falling all the way down for just one minor mistake.

Symbols

Across The Moment (1)In terms of the music, the soundtrack is good. The style of the soundtrack isn’t 100% my thing, but I love how it adds to the atmosphere of the game. The sound design is decent. While I wish there were a bit more sound effects for when you jump or when you land, I think the sound design is like I said: decent.

The difficulty in this game really depends if you can see the solution or not. Sometimes, the solution isn’t that clear and you are overlooking one thing. Really experiment with your environment and your inventory if you are stuck. Try the “everything on anything and combine everything with everything” tactic if you are stuck.

This game is also available in Chinese and Russian. It’s still a mystery to me why this option isn’t in the options menu but in the main menu. I think it would be more helpful if you move this option in the options menu, to be honest.

I do have to say, this game is only 3€ on Steam. I think that you get more value for your money when you buy this game. If you are interested in this game, I think you should buy this game.

There are also Steam Achievements and trading cards for people who are interested in that. There are 4 card drops for 6 cards to create a badge. Good luck.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I can’t wait to see the second episode of this game since I really want to know where the story goes next. Thank you so much to the developer for giving me a key to try out this game. I really enjoyed my time with this game. I hope you also 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.

First Impression: Ever Oasis (3DS) ~ Sunny Desert Adventure

Ever Oasis.pngOfficial website

So, Nintendo released a new IP. It’s called Ever Oasis. I honestly pre-ordered it and currently, I’m over half way with this game. In this article, I’ll tell you if this game is worth to be bought and be in your collection. I pre-ordered this game since I got very interested when I saw it in the E3 2016 and E3 2017. But enough introduction, is this game a good or a bad purchase?  As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Sandy Dunes

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(2)

In this game, you play as an Oasis Chief. The main character has no real name since you can decide it for yourself at the start.

When I started this game, I was disappointed by one thing from the start. This game has no voice acting nor any sounds that the characters make while they speak. This is a true shame since a bit of the charm of this game is lost because of it.

Anyways, the story itself. You start out in the oasis of your brother. You learn some basic things about what an oasis is. The oasis is a very calm and peaceful place. But, that all changed when the fire nation— I mean Chaos attacked. This “Chaos” turns innocent creatures into nasty monsters and expand the desert. Your brother transports you to safety while he deals with trying to his oasis. You end up at the last Water Spirit and you start your own oasis together. Your main mission is to try to defeat Chaos before it does any more harm to the world.

The writing in this game is really enjoyable. Due to the lack of voice acting, I wasn’t too immersed into the story. Well, there are some sound effects when the characters talk but it isn’t enough to give character to the characters. It just didn’t click enough with me.

Also, during most of the game, the story plays it a bit too safe. I wish a bit more things happened instead of the repetitive nature of the story. At first, I had trouble explaining why the story wasn’t clicking with me. The writing was enjoyable, so that couldn’t be it. Then, I suddenly realized it. There are two big issues with the story.

There is a serious lack of character development. You barely get to know the people of your oasis. There is no real struggle that can happen in your oasis. No shop keepers that can get jealous of other shop keepers or arguments you have to fix. When you finish a quest for somebody, they rarely to never ask you something again. This makes characters somewhat forgettable and that’s a shame.

The second problem with the story is the pacing.  I’ll expand on this a bit later, but due to the pacing, the story always continues forward in a straight line. Like I mentioned in the previous part, there is no character development. Each time you solve somebody’s problems, a new character gets introduced.

Too short?

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(6)

Due to the pacing, you got through this game at a pretty fast pace. This gives me the impression that this game is rather short. But it isn’t too short. An average playthrough of this game can last you 30 to 40 hours to complete the game.

The pacing could have been better if there was more downtime between the main story elements. Since then, I could explore more of this game at my own pace. But, that main story arrow is always grabbing my attention.

Something I really like about this game is that this game looks amazing. The animations of the game look amazing as well. The visual presentation of this game is just great. You really feel you are in some oasis-type area with a lot of Egyptian-looking areas and caves to explore.

Also, the map of this game is rather big. Thankfully, you have some quick travel points that you can use to quickly travel to some place if you need to be somewhere for a quest and you don’t want to go the long way.

When you play this game, you will quickly realize that this game took inspiration from the old-school Zelda dungeons to make its own dungeons. When you are a big Zelda fan, you will feel right at home in these dungeons. The only big difference is that you have to make use of each character their special abilities if you want to find each secret chest.

Yet, the exploration could have been improved by two things. The first thing is a sort of ‘note system’. Like the beacons in The Legend Of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Like, I want to explore this part of the cave later with another character. Thankfully, there is the Aqua Gate mechanic. This warps you and your two allies to the oasis so you can switch characters easily and warp back to the spot you warped from. So, this isn’t too big of an issue, but it would be a lovely feature.

But the second thing that could improve the exploration is to get rid of the only 2 allies limit. You can only bring 2 allies on your journey at once. But, the caves and areas you explore have sometimes more than three things that can only be activated by special abilities at once. So, I have to use the Aqua Gate too much to finish a dungeon.

Hiya!

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(4)

This game allows you to play every ally you have during your exploration. By simply tapping down on the D-pad, you can take control of the other character.

The controls itself are excellent. I rarely had problems controlling my character nor would I change anything.

The difficulty of this game isn’t too brutal. If you know what you are doing and how each character fights, you beat each enemy you come across. But, use your healing items wisely. Since they are a bit too grindy to craft and they are pretty rare to come across in the wild.

There is a mechanic that makes a fainted/dead character more interesting. As soon as a character runs out of energy, it gets healed back up automatically. But, you can speed up this process by spamming the “A” button near the corpse. This is dangerous to do however since you leave yourself open for enemy attacks. Something I truly like in this game is that it isn’t an automatic game over when the main character dies. You automatically switch over to another character.

One of the most interesting features of this game is how much health you have and how a character gets stronger. Let’s first talk about health. Each character has his or her own base health. But, you get some additional health depending on how well you clean up your oasis and how stocked you keep the shops in your oasis. The better you upkeep your oasis, the more additional health your characters get.

Let’s talk about how characters level up or better said, get stronger now. You only get experience points when you return to the oasis. This makes grinding a bit more annoying since you don’t know when to stop. But, this makes it more interesting since you don’t know when you need to stop.

Lastly, I want to talk about the soundtrack of this game. I really enjoy listing to it. I even consider adding it to my soundtrack playlist. It fits the theme perfectly. It adds so much additional character to the game.

In conclusion, at this moment in time, I think that this game is worth a playthrough if you like adventure games like the Zelda series. But, this game isn’t perfect. It’s sad to see that there is so much potential with this game. Maintaining the oasis feels more like a side part of the game than an actual part of the game. I honestly think that I expected more from this game and also I expected more focus on the oasis than on the exploration.

I do have to beat this game before I can form a final opinion on this game. There are two save slots so I can restart this game easily when I want to mess around a bit in this game.

In any case, thats everything I wanted to say about this game. 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!

First Impression: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) ~ Hyping Hype

Official websiteBreathoftheWildFinalCover.jpg

Hype, hype and even more hype. That was the internet right before this game dropped onto store shelves. While many reviewers already finished the game, I’m only 10 hours into the game. But, I have played enough to talk about this game. While this game was in development, I tried to read as little press material as I can. To avoid spoiling myself. But I couldn’t avoid it, every social media I went to was full of the latest rumors and articles about this game. In any case, I picked up this game right after the launch weekend. During the launch weekend, I was out of town. For those who missed it, why I’m not playing this on the Nintendo Switch. Well, that’s because budget reasons and I’m waiting to buy the Switch until more games have been released on it. At the moment of writing this article, there are too few games being released on the Switch that I actually want to play. And because I already own a Wii U and the game has been released on the Wii U, why not.  Also, this article will be spoiler-free. Since, honestly, I haven’t finished the game myself. So, yeah. No worries about that. So, enough rambling… two weeks after the release of the game, it’s time to talk about my first impressions of this game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Stop that hype train?

 

When this game was announced, the hype train was real. Everybody and their dog were hyped for this game. An open world Zelda game that took inspiration from games like FallOut and Skyrim, what’s not to love. Well, To be really honest, I wasn’t hyped. I honestly was disappointed.  At first, I was afraid that Nintendo was making a Skyrim-clone in a Zelda coat of paint.

Maybe I’m unable to let go of the past, the at first, this game didn’t feel like a true Zelda game. In my eyes, a typical Zelda game was like the old-school Tomb Raider games. A linear adventure game with a big central world that you could explore. But after a few hours of playing this game, something started to click in me.

If you are skeptical of this game and you are afraid it changes way too much from the Zelda-formula; don’t worry too much. Since this game changes a lot of things but some changes are for the better. Something I truly love from this game is how you can do dungeons and quests out of order.

But, something that was truly lacking, a more alive overworld. Everything has been made more interesting in this game. But, I’ll talk more about that later in the article. Let’s take a quick look at the story first.

I was pleasantly surprised how this game is able to tell an interesting Zelda story. Especially since you can explore wherever and however you want. The story of this game has all your typical Zelda lore. The narrative is present wherever you go. You decide the pace of the story. When you want more story, you do the main quests. When you want to take a break from the story, you do side quests or explore.

Something I was both hyped and let down by is the voice acting. While the voice acting is very well done, I’m let down that it’s underused. It feels like every voice actor only had one or two sheets of papers with lines, and that was it. And so far I have seen, it’s all a monolog talking to Link. What a missed opportunity there. But, maybe I haven’t advanced far enough into the main story yet, but so far, I find that the voice acting is underused. But when it’s used, it’s amazing.

Run around

In the past, I stopped playing games like Skyrim because I was too overwhelmed by the skill and tech trees. Where was way too much to do in that game. But, in this game, you get a sort of tutorial in the first area. You get your first taste of the shrines, the world, the story, the gameplay and the controls. Right after you have beaten the first four shrines, you get the paraglider. And then, you can go out into the world and explore your heart’s content.

So, in this game, you play as Link. And in this title, he is equipped with a lot more abilities than before. You don’t have to wait to unlock the spin attack or something amongst those lines, Link can do them all from the word GO.

Honestly, I was able to learn the controls quite quickly in this game. The more advanced tricks were learned naturally or with a quick tutorial. The controls of this game are quite responsive and I rarely have trouble with them. Apart from some gyroscope puzzles in some shrines, I don’t have any issues with them. The only thing I always confuse are the buttons for your inventory and your map. I can’t count on one hand anymore how many times I have opened my map in the middle of a battle when I only wanted to change my weapon.

That reminds me, the combat in this game is almost perfect in my eyes. Apart from some weapons doing way too much damage, it’s quite alright. Something that frustrates be beyond believe as well is that some weapons do so much damage and when you pick them up, they are weaker then your current weapon. Annoying spears, ugh.

Time for nitpicking

 In general, I think this game is pretty great. While it’s not 100% Zelda in my eyes, it’s growing more and more in my heart every hour I spend on it. I start to notice the attention to detail the developers put into this game. To create a living and breathing world that every Zelda fan would feel home in.

Something that also helps are the gorgeous visuals and the amazing soundtrack. Seriously, the presentation of this game is perfect. But, it does come with a price. The frame rate isn’t always stable. In some cases, the game drops under 30fps. And one time, I almost had a game crash. While the game always quickly recovers itself, it’s a letdown. Maybe with patches in the future, this improves.

Oh, that reminds me. Something I wish is also improved in a patch is the loading times when you enter and exit a shrine. The loading time isn’t that long, but it breaks the immersion. If those loading times could be improved, I would be so thankful. Something like an unskippable animation like in the older 3D Zelda games would do just fine.

Speaking about loading times, I wish you had an option to have to press a button when you want to re-enter the game. I had more than once, that I was reading the tips and the game loaded and I was thrown right into the game. I wasn’t done reading those tips just yet.

While I have a lot more to say about this game, I think I’ll leave those things for the review when I have finished the game. But in conclusion, give this game a chance. Sure, this game has flaws and changes a lot of the traditional Zelda formula, but it presents the original Zelda formula with a lot of improvements. Veteran Zelda players will feel right at home and enjoy themselves with the setting and the story. Everything feels so alive and much more realistic. I recommend this game already, but I’m curious if the game holds up when I have beaten it. Like I told earlier, at first, I wasn’t a big fan of the concept of this game. But, it’s winning me over. The charm of this game, it’s something I didn’t know I was missing from my Zelda gaming life.

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

Game Quicky: Sphetory (Android) ~ Ball Thrown

Sphetory_1024x500_4pda.pngDownload link from Google Play Store

This week, I had a cold during a heatwave. So, I didn’t play a lot of games this week. Yet, one Android game caught my eye. I played it several times. I found it strange since I rarely play Android games. The only time I play Android games is when I have to wait for the train or something along those lines. I haven’t gotten too far into the game but I still think it’s worth talking about it. If you are interested in this game, I personally recommend a tablet or a smartphone with a big screen. Since you will need it. In any case, enough rambling! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The bad

Sphetory_2.png

So, these are the reasons why you shouldn’t play this game:

The soundtrack is a bit lacking. I have only heard one song after three levels. While the song really helps to set the mood and atmosphere, I wish it had one more song to change it up here and there.

When I was in the options menu, I wasn’t able to adjust the sensitivity. It stayed at 4. Speaking of the option menu, you are unable to adjust the options when you aren’t in-game. You can change the language in the main menu, but not in the option menu.

Looking at the “Select Level” option, you will find out that this game is rather short. Honestly, I wish it had a bit more content. Since the potential is there.

The good

Sphetory_3.png

This game is a puzzle platformer. In the first level, you get a ball you can throw. It bounces around when it hits a wall. In the first level, this is used to hit switches so you can progress.

In the second level, a mechanic is introduced. When you throw the ball, you can press “B” at any time. Then you will move on the traveled path of the ball. As soon as you press B, the ball will stop traveling. So, you will have to time your throws so, you don’t press B when the ball left the platform. Since then, you fall to your doom.

Something that’s even more interesting is that the path stays. So, for example, you throw the ball in a straight line. When you press the B button after you landed, you don’t have to throw the ball again, since when you press the B button again, you travel on exactly the same path.

The punishment of failure is somewhere in between. When you fail a jump, you are sent back to the start of the puzzle. While I wish I wasn’t set back that far in certain sections, I wasn’t set back to the start of a level.

Also, in this game, you can slow down time. This is very handy to move over certain moving platforms.

I was able to quickly get used to the controls. When you press on the left-hand side of the screen, you move your character. When you press on the right-hand side of the screen, you move the camera. The A button throws the ball, the B button travels on the ball’s path, the clock button slows down time and the pause button… well take a wild guess.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the atmosphere in this game. It feels empty yet safe. It feels cold yet colorful and warm. And for those who are interested, I rarely experienced any lag or major slowdown in this game.

Also, surprisingly enough, this 3D game isn’t a big battery drain. It didn’t drain my battery too much. I only saw a decrease of 10% on my ASUS tablet.

One big amazing plus in this game is that this game is free of charge. And I didn’t find any annoying ads between gameplay!

The conclusion

This game contains a lot of trail and error. Yet, it feels very satisfying after you have beaten a level. I highly recommend this game for people who are looking for an interesting experience on Android.

While this game is playable on small screens, I don’t recommend it. Since it’s a big advantage when you see the whole room.

This game took me by surprise. Since this game is something that works very well on mobile devices.

While this game has some flaws, I think this game is really worth your time.

Anyways, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Feel free to drop by in another article, I’m looking forward to it. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Venture Forth (PC) ~ Alpha Peek

logoOfficial website

First of all, this is an impressive project. This game is made by a small indie developer and has been in development for over two years. They mailed me because they wanted me to take a look at this game after I wrote about Delver. Since this game is in the same style, they thought I might be interested in it. Indeed, I am. While it took me a while to take a look at this game since I was extremely busy, I finally found the time recently. So, let’s dive right into Venture Forth. This article is written on an unfinished build of the game, this is also mostly meant to hype the game a bit and give some feedback to the developers. Ready, let’s go! Alpha build of the 4th July, here we come!  (And as usual, feel free to give me a comment with your opinion of this game and/or the content of the game.)

Warning: This game is in one of my favourite genres. Also, I wasn’t able to make time to write this article, so I had to push it back for almost two months. And also, when I’m asked to write an article, I try to give the best feedback possible. So, prepare yourself for a longer article then you are used of me.

What needs more work?

Labyrinth 2015-03-02 00-47-36-09

The developer said to me that some of the visuals are place holders. So, I’m not going to talk too much about that. While I honestly think that some items and 3D textures look mighty fine already, others like a potion is just an arrow in this current build.

Most likely, the fact that we are missing a menu for options like key-bindings, starting a new game and all that is something that is still in development. If it’s not, please would it be possible to give the player the option to change how they want to control the game? I live in one of those weird keyboard countries where the lay-out of my keyboard is not qwerty, but azerty.

An annoying bug I found in the game is that when you want to switch from full screen to windowed mode, it kept running in full screen. This game uses the usual enter+alt method, which is no big deal. But they might want to look into this bug. Hopefully it’s not because of my own made pc.

This is just a feature suggestion of mine. The map is set up quite interestingly, but what if you give each area a different colour on the map. Makes it easier to see which area ends where. Just a minor thing.

Something that’s not that minor is the lack of lighting in some areas. Don’t read me wrong, I think it’s nice that they went for the realistic approach and make the areas where natural light can’t come through, it’s extremely dark. But when you use a torch, it gives off barely enough light to even properly navigate the dungeon. The area “The Nest” was a perfect example of this.

Labyrinth 2014-10-22 02-49-56-15I could complain about the lack of a tutorial yet, the game controls and plays like any other typical dungeon game. One thing I think they should really change and that is the starting area. You start out having to jump down a ravine. Not once, but if I recall correctly, about three times, you loose some health and this will set off a handful of players to not play the game. It’s not really inviting and it gives the game the first impression of using cheap tricks. At least in my opinion.

Same with some puzzles. This game uses a few puzzles where you barely get any hints. Without spoiling too much, let me tell you. When you are stuck and have nowhere to go, try a staff. It took me way too long to figure this out. I’m not saying it wasn’t rewarding to find this out, but a subtle hint when you enter the area would be nice. But really subtle. In the current version of the game, it was a nearly see-through wall. Hinting that there is something at the other side. But before you got there, it was a long hallway. Maybe put in the rocks an image that looks like the staff somewhere in that hallway? That’s what I mean with subtle, something you wouldn’t notice or easily miss.

Before I move on to the more positive parts of the game, I want to talk about something that won’t help with the first impression as well. The first enemies you encounter are a bit too strong in my taste. Actually, that’s just a nitpick, since if you know what you are doing, the enemies can be quite the pushovers.

What is already good?

Labyrinth 2015-06-04 19-04-46-54

I’m not going to give criticism on the music. Well, honestly, the ambient music that’s playing in the background. The reason is that it helps building the atmosphere quite well. That there is only one melody/track that plays, I can understand. It’s an Alpha after all. If they weren’t planning to add some more music, then a problem could arrive. Some players would get annoyed by the repetitive music and this would turn up as a negative in various reviews.

Earlier I talked about the map system. As a fan of these style of games, I could start complaining about the difficulty to see rooms and all that… Honestly, I think the map is one of the best features in this game. It’s a fully 3D view of the world you play in. It also shows some hidden things in the map, most likely put there from the developer to control the game. (read: spawning enemies or helping with the lighting of an area.) Which is a really cool touch.

That the enemies aren’t shown on the map is something I’m on the fence about. On one hand, you could say it’s annoying since you can’t plan your strategy. On the other hand, it really helps build fear into the game. You never know if an area is safe to cross or not.

The game runs quite smooth already. I got a steady 60fps, which is quite nice. The sound effects are actually perfect for this game. There weren’t many sound effects I would change. I would add a few here and there like for when an enemy switches equipment.

Yes, that’s a thing. Later in the game, the enemies will switch weapons. Long range combat, they will use a bow. Short range? Well, prepare for a sword fight. In this game, you can also prepare a few load-outs. Choose carefully though, since this game doesn’t offer an inventory system. So, that means, when you want to use your potions, you will have to use a load-out. You can also equip two items and armour. Logical, since we only have two hands. This is the reason why you need to plan out your strategy quite well.

Labyrinth 2015-05-10 05-04-07-93

So, the actual controls are mighty smooth. While I think they should add a run button in the full release, the aiming and such is extremely nice for an alpha. Also, this game would benefit from a crouch move where you can’t fall off ledges, like in Minecraft.

I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about so it’s time to wrap up this article.

Conclusion

I really love where the game is going. I understand that this game is still in alpha and needs some polishing. But truth to be told, the base game is there. The core idea is present and it puts a new spin on exploration. It’s not simply a clone or just an explorer game. It tries to do something new with the different load-outs you can easily switch between and the amazing map.

It can become a great game, if they worked on expanding the first impressions that the game gives you. If I would give it a score in it’s current state, while keeping in mind that it’s an alpha build, it would be around a 7/10.

Thanks for letting me play this game, I actually enjoyed myself. Don’t be afraid to send me a review copy when it’s fully released guys, I will for sure write a full review about it then.

Anyway, I think I will leave it at that for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed preparing and writing it. And please, give their official site a look, they deserve it.

Review #029: Time Hollow (DS) ~ DAT Themesong.

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game. 

I open my eyes, to another day.

time-hollow-1In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.

But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.

At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!

Taking back what was mine.

Ethan_Vin_Chronos_dialogueAlso, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.

Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.

So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.

It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!

In the end

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The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.

Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.

So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.

Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.

I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!

Score: 75/100

Review #015: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS) ~ Dat Ending.

PMGTI

Official website

It has been coming. After a long time I finally finished the main story of this game. This game is actually the game that started off my rants here on my blog. I talked about the cuts and adds that this game did. Feel free to read it here. But I’ll address most of it in this article. This review will be a big one? Why? Well, I have a lot to talk about! Plus, this game actually did some things why I hold this game high in my list of best games ever. I thought a lot about special things to do for this review. From me being trapped in a dungeon and that each floor was a part of the game that I wanted to review but no idea really worked out the way how I wanted. So, that’s why I settled down upon a normal style review. I remember till this day pre-ordering this game. I was so excited that there was going to be a 3DS entry. It was a long time since this series saw an entry. The Japanese people got lucky with a WiiWare title that never saw international release. But ChunSoft gave us this game now. Yes, this game is not only made by GameFreak & Nintendo. ChunSoft actually has a great influence in this series. Anyways, let’s look at this game. Is it really worth the praise I give it or is it just that some elements really make me want to play this game? Let’s review! (Oh, and feel free to post a comment about my review and/or your views on this game.)

Paradise.

pmd_gti_ss6Let’s first tackle the biggest thing of this game. The story. In this game you wake up in a forest without knowing that you suddenly turned into a Pokemon. But this time they take things differently. Instead of the obvious thing to join a big rescue team or to become one, the main focus is actually somewhere different. The main focus is on you making a paradise for the Pokémon in Post Town.

And this is already a great improvement in my eyes. The story feels extremely fresh. And I actually really enjoyed the story. The characters were great, the writing is well done and I barely made complaints on the story while playing. There were some close calls of a Deus Ex Machina (for those who don’t know the word, it’s a sudden solution that comes out of nowhere and solves everything.) but lucky for this game, they were avoided.

The only thing is dislike a bit is that they removed the personality test at the start. I actually enjoyed it and never really cheated my way towards the Pokémon I wanted to be. You actually can directly select your Pokémon that you want to be now. This makes the game feel less personal but this short coming has been made up big time by something else.

But, I am not done yet with talking about the story. Where this game wins some big marks is the fact that for the 3rd entry in the game, the ending actually made me tear up once more. The ending, while it’s highly similar then the previous entries, is written in such an amazing way that it manages to to it’s job. I won’t spoil it but for emotional people, this will be a tough one. But that’s not all. The biggest marks are won with the addition of a story after the credits. I was so surprised when I saw that “and now you play as your partner to see how the story concludes.”. This gives the game a bigger reason to keep playing after finishing it.

Downfall

imagesBefore I continue with praising the game, I want to talk about what made this game not that much fun for me. Which elements made me want to avoid this game?

First off, there is DLC! Why? Just, why? Downloading additional dungeons is fun, but asking a small price for them is just silly. You basically download a dungeon with a name and some new textures. As if the extensive list of already available dungeons wasn’t good enough already.

Also, I know it’s meant for the safety of your health but the message: “You had a great adventure today. You should take a rest before you continue to play.” is just silly. I’m bummed out that there isn’t an option to disable this message.

Also, this game doesn’t like you checking the message log. The way to look at the message log is so hidden, it really makes me irritated when I want to check something I missed.

Something I really like is the fact that when you take a weak level Pokémon with you, it will grow to the level of the other Pokémon when you enter a high level dungeon. Take that your Pokémon are all level 30 and you take a level 10 with you for the ride. It goes to level 30 right away. But here comes something extremely annoying. You must go through all the moves the Pokémon can learn with that high level jump. One by one. Yes, one by one. That’s no fun at all. Why couldn’t you just program in a list for it?

Inventory management has also a small issue with it. When you want to take something out of your box, you can only take one item. Unless you first press “R” to input the amount you wish to have. This is an additional step that shouldn’t be there. When you select an item that you have multiple times, you should be able to directly say how much you want of it.

This game makes also one major mistake. One of the biggest flaws in this game is the fact the you only can do one mission each time you set out. And that is such a pain. This really pulls out a lot of the fun of doing multiple missions and trying to survive a dungeon because you need to do another floor.

A nitpicky thing is, and this might just be me, is that the running isn’t endless anymore. After a short while you stop running. And this is really annoying since you need to let go and press the B button again. Also, the running is a tad bit to fast. Running around corners is such an annoying thing in this game.

And this might be just me as well, but I felt like the final three bosses where way to weak and easy. Or I might just have grinded my Pokémon to a pretty high level and/or had a great inventory to beat them.

Before I forget, I want to add this to the bad list. A TM can be used multiple times. I liked the way of the previous entry more where you had to collect certain items to repair it before you could re-use it.

Great.

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-1At first I was really doubting to put this in the bad thing section but then I realized something. You can play as one of your team mates to take a break from the story. Yet, thanks to a box system, you can transfer over items from the companion mode to the main story mode. This gets rid of the annoying being stuck in a hard dungeon with no good items. Yet, it makes the game a bit easier. But it doesn’t get too easy either. You really need to finish requests to get those items.

In addition to that, good items are rather expensive and not always available in the shops. This makes creating a great inventory to finish bosses and/or beat big dungeons that more rewarding.

I touched upon the fact that you can do only one mission at a time. Such a big deal isn’t it really since the rewards you get are sometimes enough for expanding your paradise. The fact that you can upgrade, recolor and put more things and you have space makes the replay value high. Also, in the paradise there is a lot to do. Prize tickets and even two mini-games I know of. And they are extremely fun to do.

The hunger system is gone in this entry. But something else came in it’s place. The so called “V-Wave”. This makes a certain type more stronger and therefor more dangerous. You can change the “V-Wave” from a certain point in the story but I never did. I enjoyed the challenge.

The gameplay is still the same as before. You explore randomized dungeons and you try to get to the top. Using your attacks at corners is still extremely buggy. Speaking about attacks, they made an amazing change that is extremely helpful in this entry. When you press the “L” button you directly get an overview of all your Pokémon’s attacks! And you have to simply press the according button to execute the attack. This saves time since you don’t have to go into the menu to change your attack and you also see how much PP is left.

Also, attacks get stronger over time. The more you use them, the stronger they will get. But pay attention, the attacks of the enemy’ll be stronger then as well. So, if you upgrade tackle to level 2, the power of tackle of the enemies will be level 2 as well.

The dungeons are improved as well. Some dungeons have an “overworld” part where you have to cross a bridge or solve a small puzzle before being able to continue to the next floor. Thanks to this, dungeons are way less boring then in all the previous entries of the series. Inside dungeons there are also shortcuts. But I can’t tell more about them since I hadn’t been able to have the right key for unlocking the door.

Another great improvement is the fact that you can save everywhere you want! The menu system is better but not perfect. The fact that it’s not anymore a simple text box menu but something in the lines of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where the buttons are on the button screen after a press on the menu button is such a great feature.

Visually this game is a masterpiece. It’s the best I have seen in the whole series. I actually regret not putting the 3D slider to max at certain points. This game really benefits from the 3D. It looks pretty. The rare cut scenes look amazing and are a marvel to look at. It’ll really stick with you how some area’s looked in 3D. And with great visuals comes one of the best animation I have seen in a while. Nothing bad to say about that.

The sound design is well done. It really pulls you inside the game. There are no Pokémon cries in the game but that’s actually a great thing, since this makes me enjoy the amazing soundtrack of the game at it’s full glory. Some tracks in the previous entries really got on my nerves after hearing them multiple times. But not with this game. This game really nailed it.

And I think I’ll leave it here for this review. Skipping the multiplayer and the possibility to find new dungeons around your home, it’s time to make a conclusion for this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Attacks at corners don’t work.

– The running is a bit broken.

– One mission at a time.

– The end bosses are a bit too weak.

– DLC.

– “You should rest.”

– Leveling up too fast makes for an irritating move learning “5-minute”

– TM can be used multiple times.

– Inventory management needs some minor tweaks.

– Removal of the personalty test at the start.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Visually amazing.

+ Great animation.

+ Randomized dungeons = high replay value.

+ Overworld parts in the dungeons.

+ Great sound design.

+ Benefits from the 3D.

+ Multiplayer.

+ Companion mode.

+ Sharing inventory makes the game way better.

+ Great controls.

+ Story after the credits.

+ It’s not only dungeons you can do in this game, the paradise opens up so many possible things to take a break from the dungeons.

+ Improved menu’s and combat.

Final words:

This game made some major improvements when you compare them to the previous entries of the series. Some things had to be payed for that, but actually in the long run, the game strong points really make up for it.

The game isn’t less fun, it’s as much fun as the previous entries but for a totally different reason. It still feels rewarding and fun but now because you make an amazing paradise that’s unique to you. Since you can choose a lot.

It really surprises me that this game really expanded on the previous entries so much. You have a lot more to do, to keep track off. And there isn’t only more depth to the game! They addressed issues to make the game more fun to play.

This game is one of the best spin-offs of Pokémon period. And I’m so glad that I finished this game and looked passed the flaws since then you see where this game actually truly shines. And then this game, you don’t want it to be over soon. But the length and replay value will keep you busy for a long while.

So, too long didn’t read version. Is it worth all it’s praise. Yes, if you don’t compare it too much too the previous entries of the series but take it as a new reboot-ish game of the series.

Score: 85 / 100

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

escape-from-monkey-island-cover683213

Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

images

This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

Herman2

Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.

First Impression: Tales Of Monkey Island (PC) ~ The pox.

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Game’s website

Since I finished Corpse Party, I started a new game. I got introduced the Monkey Island series by the PS2 game, Escape from Monkey Island. When I saw this game I had to play it. I started to play and really got into it. I finished the first chapter and then got distracted by guess, yeah, Corpse Party. This game is created by TellTale Games. The original creator of Monkey Island said it was probably his last game, since he feels he got to old to create games. Also, the original cast returns for the voice acting in this game. This game was released in episodes and my current progress is that I’m at the final part of the 2nd chapter. After that chapter, I’ll of course write a full review of this game. But for now, let’s dive into this game, and the first impressions it made on me. 

The pox.

This game is a nicely crafted adventure game. Yet, it annoys me that this game is in several episodes. When you save in episode 1, you can’t start that save in episode 2. It makes a lot of sense but here is the thing. When you install the game now, all the episodes are unlocked to actually you can start playing at the start of the last chapter and beat the game that way.

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This game’s story really made me think. What if the bad guy actually becomes the good guy, well sort of. Up until now, I found the story rather enjoyable. It’s funny like you expect from a Monkey Island game. It made me laugh several times. Not to sound like a soulless person but I barely start laughing with games. I makes me smile at most. Since it mostly uses American humor and I enjoy European humor more. But this game actually has some funny parts for each culture.

The way the story is told is classical adventure game. Lucas Arts (rest in peace guys) has perfected this trade and a big hint in this game is that you need to think literally and out of the box in order to continue.

One thing that is a let down is the control. Instead of clicking where you want Treepwood to go, you need to hold the left mouse button and you start to move. Awn, that’s a let down. Also, bad TellTale Games! Not making the ability to drag & drop items to combine them? Making a separate option for that. Tsktsk.

Oh noes!

monkeyislandtales_screen2What I like in this game is that the main story line is more then just the main story line. It has several side plots that I want to see unfold. I’m extremely excited to see where the story is going to take me next.

Is it going to take me towards new colorful places? I hope so. The gameplay is actually a long chain of manipulating items to fool or trick people. And yes, I find this a fun way to be a pirate. As unbelievable it may sound, you play as a pirate. Which I still have trouble believing that our main character is a mighty pirate.

The world of Monkey Island is well made. Graphically the game is colorful and inviting. But the islands, well, they could  use a bit more variation. The two parts I played now have both a jungle part. Come on! That’s recycling. That could have been avoided.

I’m extremely thankful that you can save everywhere you want. It also gives a short summary of what the story is currently about. For in case you took a break and want to replay the game.

The voice acting is good. Sometimes it feels a bit out of place here and there but most of the times, it works. I would personally have said some lines stronger or else. Maybe I have still the amazing voice acting from Corpse Party haunting my judgement now.

What I expect

full20090730213938I expect this game to rock me off my socks. For now, this game has successfully drawn me in to it’s world. If I’ll let me go, we shall see about that. It might actually, but that’s the way how I play adventure games.

The music and sound has been great until now. Nothing to remark at the moment.

The animation is actually where I love the game the most for now. The detail that went in the art is great. The camera work in the swordfighting scenes is amazing enough to display the hard work the designers have put in this game.

Now, I would give this game surely a 7 out of 10 points. I’m going to finish this article here and I’m going to play this game further. To further judge this game. Maybe it goes up in points and maybe it goes down. We will see. Alright, thanks for reading. But before you leave, what’s your favorite Monkey Island game or moment? Discuss it in the comments.

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

Review #001: Tomb Raider – Survivor (PC) ~ Dark game about the sun.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link to the official site. (For more details of this game).

“A famous explorer once said.” is the very first line that you hear in this game. The opening of this game is beautiful enough to keep your attention but is it good enough? This series got a reboot after the negative reception of Underworld, which is still in my eyes a darn good game. In this reboot, you play as, who else, Lara Croft. Yeah, only younger this time around. I realize that I’m late with this review and that many played this game already. But I have only recently gained interested again in reviewing. So, yeah. A messy introduction is messy.

“Not who we are.”

Hardcore Tomb Raider fans will actually feel right at home with this game. There are many tombs to explore and raid, all in a nice package of amazing graphics and the athletic Lara. But there is a difference this time around. You can’t go shooting all you want. Ammo isn’t unlimited.

Many people give this game the subtitle of “Survivor”. Since it’s a survival game. Well, partially. Okay, not at all. There is a mission to collect food, but that only gives XP. You can hunt on animals but all she does is slice them open. And before you tell me that it would be too “cruel” to animate her eating her prey; well, think again. This game is Dark, with a capital d. Some scenery isn’t for young eyes.  So I see a missed opportunity there.

The only survival part about this game is that you need to find ammo since, in the battles where you need to survive, you’ll quickly run out. You don’t have a health bar. Nope, this is replaced with the “Call Of Duty” style of health bars. Where the screen becomes redder when you take hits. What’s nice in this game is that the screen becomes gray when you are one hit away from death.

“Adventure found me.”

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The earliest design sketches that where posted featured a lot of content that didn’t make the final cut. So which adventure did Lara find? Like I said, the game looks amazing. The graphics are really neat. For the most part. Some areas of the game will feel a bit unpolished. It could have been my graphics card but some pits their textures were too big.

And the water isn’t all that great. Since sometimes it stops caring. I had several times that in the game the water texture was glitched up and looked more like boiling mud. Or that a 9-year-old discovered a distortion filter in Photoshop.

The game is said to have an open world. What an empty promise that is. The world is “open”. The game is extremely linear. And yes, even backtracking to old locations appears in this game. The level structure might be gone, or that is what you think at least. It’s simply replaced by areas.

In each area, you have several secrets, treasures, food plants… to find. This is lovely since it makes me coming back even after I finished the game. The replay value is high in this game. Sometimes you have even enemies who respawn so that you have something to shoot with your collected ammo.

The gameplay is pretty neat. Again, for the most part. Like many other reviewers will tell you, get a sturdy keyboard to play this game. Since there are a lot of quick-time events. They break the pace of the game often and are in some cutscenes rather unwelcome. I even think that in some of the cutscenes the quick time events are responsive. And in some, your timing needs to be better as in other cutscenes. Hrm, great to be consistent.

Bomberman Croft

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There is no area without an explosion. Really, the game is on a deserted island and there is sure a lot of bombs, explosive material and other stuff that can go boom around. The developers got a tad bit lazy and made the area where some cutscenes of the story is triggered unreachable after you passed it. Either by a ladder that broke down or a building that goes boom.

Even the very first puzzles require you to blow up parts of the cave where Lara is held. But why is she held there? A good question to introduce the part of the review where I talk about the story.

The story is mediocre at best but gets extremely “meh” at the end. The Tomb Raider games never really got me into the story. And this game is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a unique story that I enjoyed but it didn’t leave an impression on me. I skip the cutscenes in my 2nd playthrough since I didn’t want to be bothered by the story and just play. Some RPG or big story-driven games can smell the plot twists from miles away.

But the disappointing story actually gave me hope of something else. Voice acting. I loved the voice acting in this game. It’s top-notch. The sound in this game is amazing. I really advise playing this game with a good headset. I played this game with a headset and it makes the game way more intense than with speakers. The music is amazing. I truly enjoyed the music in this game. Although, I felt that the silence of some areas was a nice choice too.

Steam

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For a long time, I didn’t have steam. But thanks to this game, I got an account. I am glad that I di since I got easy access to the updates for the game.

In the game, you can collect salvage to upgrade your weapons. It’s possible that you can finish the game without upgrading all your weapons.

You can also get new skills with skill points. You get a skill point when you have enough XP after killing enemies, emptying out tombs, being a meanie to a rabbit…

The animation in this game of the characters is amazing and well done. Even with my weak laptop, I had to put this game on low settings, I really saw that a lot of work went into this game’s animation. Some death scenes may be disturbing, but it adds to the game.

Before we go to the overview, a quick rant. Why do the bodies of the enemies despawn so quickly?

Oh yeah, multiplayer. I didn’t care much for it. I’m not that good in multiplayer. Sorry guys.

Overview

The good:

+ Good length.

+ Replay this game, sign me up.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Strong animation.

+ Amazing music & sound.

+ Good gameplay.

+ Visually an eye-candy.

The bad:

– Mediocre story.

– Some graphics tweaks are needed.

– The enemies may respawn but too few to be of any danger.

– Framerate issues.

Conclusion:

Do you need to buy this game? Why are you asking me this question? Yes! Yes, you should. It’s a great game and I found this game very enjoyable. The flaws of the game might get a bit in the game, and the multiplayer is decent.

But for the great gameplay and the amazing visuals, the game is worthy of a playthrough. Even if you have to sit through annoying quick-time events.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article 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!

Score: 80 / 100