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First Impression: Woodle Tree Deluxe (Switch) ~ Raindrops To The End.

Woodly TreeNintendo microsite

In 2017, the developers behind Suicide Guy contacted me to ask if I would take a look at their game. Last year, they asked me to take a look at the sequel/follow-up of the game called Suicide Guy – Sleeping Deeply. Now, Chubby Pixel sent over a review copy of Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. While the developer provided me with a review copy for this game, you will find my 100% personal opinion in this article. I’m quite excited to see what this game has to offer and how different their other titles are. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Raindrops To The End

Woodle Tree 1In this game, you play as a walking log. You are tasked by the Great Tree, that looks a lot like the Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time, to bring the water back to the world. Why do you have to bring the water back to the world? Because it’s going through a draught at the moment. After the Great Tree shows you the Fairy Tears you need to collect in order for you to save the world, you get teleported to the hub world. This hub world is the home that the Great Tree for you build and there you find a backpack (it’s called a rugsack in game) and your weapon, the magical leaf.

And that’s about it in terms of story. I haven’t finished the game yet, but I think the there will be a bit more story bits after I finished the last level. Now, I didn’t expect a grand story from this game. Because the stories in the Suicide Guy games was handled in the same way. It’s all about the gameplay in these games.

Before I talk about the gameplay, I want to mention one thing that I didn’t like about the story. In this game, there isn’t a button to skip dialogues. When I started playing this game and I read the first dialogue and I wasn’t able to advance, I thought that my Switch froze. But, you have a wait for a bit too long in order for the game to advance. It sounds like a nitpick, but it would improve the game quite a lot.

With that said, let’s focus our attention to the gameplay. In this game, you go through various levels looking around for these Fairy Tears. There is no tutorial in the first level, but a quick look at the controls by pressing the “+” key on the right joycon explains everything you need to know. The controls are easy to grasp and understand.

The goal in each level is to find the tree hidden Fairy Tears and bring them to the three cups at the end of the level. If you reach the end of the level without all three tears, you won’t be able to finish the level. While the levels are quite linear, to find all three tears, you will have to explore off the main path and look everywhere.

Checkpoint mystery

Woodle-Tree-Adventures-Deluxe-2Whenever you fall of the edge of the level or get hit by an enemy, you respawn at a checkpoint. Now, at first, I didn’t understand how the checkpoint system worked, but after some experimentation, I think I understand it. Let’s say there are 5 checkpoints in a level. When you die past the 4th checkpoint, you respawn at checkpoint 4. If you die again, you respawn at checkpoint 3, die again -> checkpoint 2. So, the punishment of dying is respawning at an earlier checkpoint.

In this game, you don’t have hitpoints nor lives. So, if you are hit by an enemy, you are dead. But, you will never get a game over. Speaking about enemies, they die in one hit as well. Some will chase after you, others will stand in your way to make certain platforming sections trickier to complete. The enemies were a small point of frustration in this game for me, since the attack of your character is so slow, I ran into them quite often. Thankfully, you don’t loose your already collected tears whenever you die.

But, there is something that was ever more annoying, and that was the camera. You don’t have full control over the camera in this game. You can zoom in and out in most places. I’m extremely happy for that feature since it made certain platforming sections possible. In other sections, the zooming in or out mechanic didn’t work properly or not at all. Making some sections extremely tricky, especially when you have trouble seeing depth.

A cute cover

Woodle-Tree-Adventures-Deluxe-3This game is a port of the Steam game “Woodle Tree Adventures”. In this version, with get an additional level, the new camera system and better jumping mechanics.

Speaking about the jumping mechanics, the animation of the jump looks a bit weird. It looks a bit floaty. I think that a few more frames of animation for the jump would give it a more natural feel.

Visually speaking, this game looks very good. The world is very colorful and vibrant. The visual presentation of the game is one of the strongest points of this game. The game even looks stunning in some places. Especially some lighting effects like the sun’s rays peeking through some models, giving a sunset vibe.

Yet, underneath this cute cover, the game feels unfinished. For example, the controls of this game respond quite well but they can be quite slippery sometimes. I lost count how many times I died because my character took one or two additional steps and feel into the abyss.

Also, I felt that there was something missing during my playthrough of this game. There is barely any UI in this game. I missed an on screen counter for the collected fruits in each level. With these you can buy various cosmetic items for your character, but it’s tricky to know how much you have already collected. You can see this in one space in the hub world, but the counter isn’t visible at the location you can buy these cosmetics at.

All of this happens in the hub world. And there is another element that I don’t like about this game. The placement of the levels. To start a level, you have to hit the orb with your magic leaf. But these orbs appear randomly in the hub world without any indication of which ones you already finished or which one is new.

Overall, this game is quite easy. The only moment that this game can become difficult is when the controls become slippery or when the camera decides you can’t zoom in or out. But, it didn’t take me long to finish the first few levels of this game.

The music and sound effects are a bit lacking as well. While the music of this game is quite enjoyable, I wish there was a bit more to the soundtrack and a bit more sound effects. I think there are only 5 sound effects in this whole game. And that is a bummer. Speaking about sound effects, I noticed that the dying sound effect sometimes played multiple times when you fall off the edge.

Overall, this is a decent game. But, it’s lacking. The game could use a lot more polish and content. The concept is interesting and fun to play but with slippery controls, boring level design and especially an annoying camera, this game is hindered so much. This game could have been so much better then what’s released right now. With that said, I have a hard time recommending this game. While it has a ton of elements that work and work well, but there are just too many elements that need polishing or updating for me to fully recommend without any hesitation.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get of your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. In a matter of fact, she didn’t get of her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further question.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot on your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with get more character development.

Now, during my playthrough the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but over all I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives of a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant in the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fair. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new area’s and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. On the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and the crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid up front. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration you can go to various locations. Each location has several area’s you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and area’s takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always paid attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high quality items. For some reason, I always found mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the craft menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that promt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients where at a certain location before I actually travelled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersions reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed into the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing while the clock ticked over would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is in my opinion a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. In here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese in the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a postgame chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post game, there is no free roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during me writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

death mark

Official website

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

Alive until dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explore and read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the edge of my seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

The good:

+ Amazing atmosphere in the visual and audio department.

+ Great writing.

+ The game has a lot of text.

+ …

The bad:

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

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

And with that said, I have really said everything I could say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: How to play mobile games on your PC.

CaptureOfficial website

For some people, it isn’t easy to buy the latest and greatest phone to play the newest and greatest Android games on. Thankfully, there is a solution for that. It’s a solution I often use myself actually. There is a program called “BlueStacks” that allows you to play any Android game on your PC. I use this tool when I want to take screenshots for when I want to review an Android game. To my big surprise, the folks over at Bluestacks contacted me with more information about BlueStacks 4. So, that’s what I’m writing about today. Before I begin, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the program and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What’s new

Currently, BlueStacks got a huge update. In v4, a lot of work has been done to make BlueStacks an even better platform to play Android games on. In this infographic created by the developers, you can find an overview of the changes and improvements in this new version.

If you want to download the program for yourself, just go to the official website that’s linked higher in the article and install the program. The installation is extremely easy. Just follow the on screen steps and the installer does the rest for you. It gets even better, when you log in with the same account you use on your phone, you will be able to download all your purchased apps and install them in BlueStacks.

It’s quite impressive on how far this program has come. Back in 2011, the first version of BlueStacks was released and today it’s one of the best programs on the market to play Android games on. With this program, you can easily stream, record or create screenshots from all Android games. And you can even play them.

If you don’t like the Google Play Store, BlueStacks also has its own AppCenter. This center is a new skin for the Play Store. Each program takes you directly to the corresponding page in the App Store.

Here is the best thing of all, using BlueStacks is completely free. There are some ads in the program and you can’t customize your wallpaper. If you buy a premium account, you will be able to change your wallpaper and have no ads. You also got priority responses from the support team, if you need them. This subscription costs only 40 dollars yearly. The only annoying thing is that there aren’t too many payment options.

By doing various tasks, like loading up a game and returning daily, you earn BlueStack Points. With these points you can buy themes and various merch prizes. At the moment of writing, there isn’t a list of which actions award you points. You can also buy BlueStack Points as a sort of microtransaction. But, these points are totally optional.

Playing games in BlueStacks

Thanks to the developers over at BlueStacks, I already got the chance to play around in a development build of version 4. Since BlueStack now supports the mapping of joysticks to keyboard buttons, I decided to try it out in Corpse Party – BloodDrive. Thankfully, there are cloud saves so I can pick up from where I left off.

screen 1

When I first installed the game, for some reason, the game closed to the desktop twice. But, the 3rd launch, the game just works perfectly fine. After mapping the joystick to the ZQSD (WASD in AZERTY, since I’m from Belgium and use AZERTY.) and the other joystick to the arrow keys, I was surprised at  how accurate and fluent this works.

After that I tried to map my keyboard keys to my wireless XBOX360 controller using a program called XPadder. With this program you can map keyboard keys to one input on your controller. It’s quite a neat program actually. BlueStacks and XPadder works just fine together. While I wish that BlueStacks works with controllers like the wireless XBOX360 controller; then again, for how many games will you be able to only use the controller and not have to use the mouse to tap/click on a spot? So yeah.

If you want to set this up for yourself, you need to click on the keyboard icon in the righthand corner. This brings up a new menu where you can choose between controls for various actions. Currently the following things are supported: a tap spot, d-pad, zoom, aim/pan & shoot, Moba Skill Pad, Swipe & Tilt. You click on what you need and drag it to where the button is on screen. If you want to change the keymap, you click on the button and press the key you want. It’s as simple as that.

screen 2

After you click save, you can start playing. Now, you can hide those keys. If you click on the eye icon that’s next to the keyboard icon, have a slider to choose how transparent you want those keys to be. I have set them all as invisible for the next screenshots in this article. I usually play on BlueStacks with invisible controls actually.

The next game I tested was the port of Sword of Mana, I played this on my tablet a while ago and it’s a very great port actually.

screen 3

I quickly got used to the controls I set up for this game. While I could set up a whole lay-out for the menu system for this game, I found that the clicking through it with the mouse works just fine. Also, I found this game easier to play, since now my hand didn’t cover up parts of the screen. I think I’m going to switch to BlueStacks to finish this game since it’s a more enjoyable experience than playing this on my actual tablet.

The final game I tested was Minecraft Story Mode. At first, I was annoyed that I was unable to login to my TellTales Account. But, I quickly realized why. Since I used enter to confirm my password, I went back to the login screen. When I clicked “OK”, the login actually happened. Curious, I took my own tablet and tried the same thing on there, and I had the same problem.

Anyways, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to download and install the episodes on BlueStacks. I actually tested the download speed of episode 5 on my tablet and on BlueStacks and I found that the episode was downloaded and installed faster on BlueStacks than on my tablet.

The reason I wanted to test this game on BlueStacks is because I wanted to check if this game also has the graphical issues I experienced on my tablet or if it’s a problem with the graphics chipset of my tablet. Besides that, I wanted to test a game that didn’t have a d-pad for moving the character but relies on pressing the screen to move your character.

BlueStacks_ScreenShot

Surprisingly, this game works perfectly. I actually placed a hidden dpad and the game reacts perfectly to that. Also, I didn’t notice any graphical issues. But, the graphical issues happened so rarely on my tablet, I can’t say it’s totally fixed. Something I did experience was a small audio desync in the 5th episode. The voice acting started a second after the characters opened their mouths.

The quick time events where easily done with the mouse. It did require me to get a bit used to the new way of playing this game but it didn’t take long. It reminded me that I want to finish this game.

So, now that I tested 3 different games on BlueStacks, I invite you to test out different games. Please, tell me your experiences with BlueStacks in the comment section. What games work and where fun to play on BlueStacks and which games gave you issues?

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

Review: Monster Tale (DS) ~ Are You Ready, Chomp?

ds_monster_tale-110214

Wikipedia entry

Last week when I was writing about Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, I wanted to reference Monster Tale. To my surprise, I haven’t written a review or talked about this game in full on my blog. So, that’s why I’m going to fix that right now. Let’s tell the tale on one of the best Nintendo DS games ever made. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game. For now, let’s ready, set, go!

Are you ready, Chomp?

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In this game, you take the role of Ellie. A young girl that gets dragged into a world filled with monsters. It doesn’t take long before she meets a monster that hatches right in front of her and follows her around as if she was the mother. She decides to name the monster Chomp.

Then, Jinx, a shopkeeper explains what the world is.  There are other humans in the Monster World and they are king of their own domain.

Now, Ellie and Chomp go on a quest to try and defeat these evil Kid-Kings and try to get them all home.

The reason I stay pretty vague about the story is simple. This game is a very nicely written plot and talking about it more would spoil it. The characters might be cliche here and there, but I really liked the chemistry between the characters. To this day, I still remember the characters and their role in the story by just looking at screenshots or hearing their theme.

The story is a blast to experience from start to finish. All 10 hours of it. Yes, all 10 hours of it. This game is criminally short. You can squeeze a few more hours out of the game when you want to fully complete it.

There is voice acting in this game, but no full lines are voice acted. Some of the major characters have some spoken phrases or noises but nothing really more. Which is a darn shame since the whole voice cast is extremely talented amine dub voice actors. On the other hand, it helps with the charm that this game has quite a lot.

I especially love the grunts of Ellie and the noises Chomp make. They are so adorable and made me fall in love with this game. It’s still a mystery how the adorable and cute game can tackle serious subject matter like what’s presented in this game. So, I hope that you are ready since you and Chomp are going on an adventure.

Metroidvania

monster tale3.jpg

Back when I first played this game, I hadn’t really played a lot of Metroid or Castlevania games. I had heard about both series but I haven’t played them. That all changed when I started to play this game.

The gameplay is your typical Metroidvania game. You explore this world and fight monsters on your way. Don’t be fooled by the visuals, this game isn’t easy at all.

This game is unforgiving sometimes and you really have to learn how each move works and how to use the special items provided to you.

This game has a lot of depth as well. There are three enemy types; fire, water, and earth. These work on a rock, paper scissors theme. So, you will have to keep in mind which version of Chomp you level up and bring with you. Yes, you can level up Chomp. While it’s not 100% needed to unlock all versions of Chomp to defeat the final boss of the game, it’s highly recommended that you level up at least one form quite a lot.

During combat, enemies can drop various items like footballs, books, slingshots, ice cream, camera’s… to help Chomp level up. Some dropped items even have additional benefits, like the football bounces around on the top screen.

Now is a good time to address the top and bottom screen, since it’s used in this game to its full potential. On the top, you have the Monster World that Ellie is exploring. You can have Chomp with you for a limited amount of time. That’s what the yellow bar on the 2nd screen is for. This bar drains as soon as Chomp is in the Monster World.

You can let the bar recharge when Chomp is resting in his den, which is the bottom screen. Once there, the bar recharges and he can experiment and learn about the various items that enemies drop. There is also another catch, each version of Chomp has different attributes, abilities and special powers to play around with.

Now, I love the risk and reward system of the combat. There are a lot of ways to handle a situation. One possible option is to let Chomp handle the enemies. Another possible situation is to shoot the enemies down and another is to melee combat. Now, you would argue that the melee combat sounds useless. Well, I would agree with you there but there is a limit to your shooting ability. When the 2nd bar on the 2nd screen, the blue one, depletes; you can’t shoot anymore. You can recharge this bar at save points or by finding rare blue orbs in the world or as drops. But the easiest way is to melee defeat enemies.

Now, there is a lot more done with the mechanics of the two screens and I have to tell that I really liked it. The combat is extremely challenging to do but in a fun way. Also, no playthrough feels and plays the same since you have so many different ways to tackle the situation.

In addition to that, you never get lost on what to do next since the next spot you need to go to is always indicated on the map. I have no idea if there is an option to disable this, but I think it’s a very useful feature.

Gameplay-wise, this game is extremely addictive. There are a lot of power-ups for Ellie and various forms for Chomp. So, this game quickly becomes a balancing act on who to power up with your hard earned cash. Do invest in both, since otherwise, you will regret it later.

Control-wise, this game is solid. While in very few occasions, the ground pound move was a bit tricky to pull off, but that was a minor annoyance. Since, when you die in this game, you get quickly put back to the latest checkpoint. Now, if there is one thing I really disliked in this game is the lack of teleports.

There is a lot of backtracking in this game. That’s the biggest problem I have with this game. The Castlevania have teleport stones, but Monster Tale doesn’t have that. That’s the biggest flaw this game has. Besides being criminally short that is.

Save often!

monster tale4

So, this game doesn’t have an autosave. At certain locations, you come across a book where you can save. There, you can recharge every meter to it’s fullest potential. These rooms are highly needed since the lower your hearts, the more tricky this game can become.

Something I will never get tired of with this game is the presentation. This game looks amazing. It’s clear that a lot of love has been put in the creation of this game. The backgrounds of each zone look stunning, vibrant and have a lot of detail.

The colors pop and they build an amazing atmosphere. I especially love the beach zone since it has a lot of memories for me. As a kid, I took a lot of trips to the seaside with my family and I love to sit on the beach and watch the sea do its thing.

Besides that, the monster design is adorable. In some cases, I didn’t even want to hurt the enemies. They all have unique designs and patterns, it’s tricky to kill them. Both since they look so good and some have very unique killing patterns.

Now, the soundtrack of this game is good. While there are some tracks that I find mediocre, the overall package is a blast to listen to. It really pumps you up to continue. You won’t regret hearing these tunes during gameplay and even outside. I played the soundtrack in the background while I was writing this article and I actually heard the various enemy noises and the various other sounds in my head.

This proves that this game has an amazing audio design. To this day, I still remember sound effects and music from the game. And that’s what I mean with that this game will leave a visual impression on you. The game is not only pretty but also sounds pretty.

The animations are fluid and the game runs at a very stable frame rate. I actually don’t remember the game ever dropping frames. Also, I really like how there are two save slots. This way you have tried for two very different runs.

In terms of the UI, there is one minor thing I have to complain about. It’s actually extremely nitpicky but I really find the use of the start and select buttons to switch between the menu’s a bit too much. The start and select buttons on the DS Lite are extremely small. Besides, I wished they merged the map screen and the other menu into one option. Maybe an ability to select from the pause screen if you wanted to see the map screen or the evolution screen of Chomp.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things unexplained for when you are interested in giving this game a chance. You will be surprised. But, it’s time for the section of the review of the people who need a tl;dr. Time for the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganised a bit better.

-The harsh difficulty could be a turn off for some people.

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you highly enjoy the 2D Castlevania games, the Metroid games or any other Metroidvania game and you are looking for something more light-hearted, then Monster Tale is your game. This game looks and sounds amazing.

Besides a few minor flaws, this game comes highly recommended. It’s a big shame that the remake for 3DS actually fell through and that the original developers of this game went bankrupt.

If you see this game for sale, pick it up and play it. It’s one of the best games on the DS. I wish more people knew about it so another developer could pick up the IP and make a sequel to it.

On the other hand, the ending wraps up things extremely nicely and makes for an amazing package. Due to the various possible playstyles, this game is highly replayable. But, it’s the complete experience that will stay with you. And that’s what makes this game so memorable and unique.

Thank you for reading this article and 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.

Score: 99/100

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

corpse-party-apk.jpgGoogle Play Store link

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

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

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

The story warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to form

Corpse Party Blood Drive

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

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

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

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

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

The atmosphere man. The atmosphere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Impression: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Fatal Conspiracy (PC) ~ Ah, CSI.

csi-crime-scene-investigation-fatal-conspiracy-megjelenes-dobozkep-5f1e286a56874898ba77-largeWikipedia entry

Lately, I’m getting quite a lot into the series of CSI. I’m currently watching the original series to the end. Then the spin-offs. But the games, oh man, the games are something special. Published by Ubisoft and developed by TellTale Games. This game has mixed reviews all over the board. I have seen reviews ripping this game a new one and I have seen reviews praising this game. This is the latest PC game that came from the series. I have beaten the first two cases and I just started the 3rd case. Is this a good game in my opinion? Is this a game made for fans of the series or can it be played by everyone? Well, I took a look from both angles. So, I won’t get the criticism that I gave this game a positive review because I’m a fan of the series. So, let’s dive right into this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and or the game. 

TellTale made this

maxresdefaultIt’s quite clear that TellTale games made this game. The formatting is just like their other series. The game is 5 cases long. During the game, you get another partner every time. What seriously amazed me is that the characters from the show actually did the voice acting for this game.  This give me goosebumps. One of the goals of these games is trying to give you the feeling that you are part of the team. The voice acting helps a lot with this.

The writing is done on a very clever way. Some lines are left out. Information your brain can easily fill in. Questions you would ask if the game was voice controlled. This helps draw you in a bit more too.

Storywise, this game starts off quite interesting. The idea of having a storyline over the whole game instead of having five separate stories makes it very interesting. The only minor complaint I have here is that the pacing is a bit off. It distracts a bit from the case in my opinion. Truth to be told, you can’t avoid it.

 The individual cases are quite interesting. But they aren’t my favorite cases from the series. They are good but my favorite cases are from the second game in the series.

Why is it bad?

CSI Fatal Conspiracy Screenshot 4Visually, this game doesn’t look that well. This game has been released 5 years ago. I know for a fact that visually, games can look way better then this. Tomb Raider Legend, which released 4 years prior, looked way more cleaner then this game.

So, I played a little bit more of the game and found some blurring issues. It would surprise me if my computer is at fault here. I’m extremely sure it can run this game three times without slowing down my computer.

But for a licensed game, visually this game looks quite fine. Some things could have been animated to look a bit better. So, after closer inspection (see what I did there) the issue with the visuals is that some things like hair aren’t animated which giving the visuals a bad impression to a PC gamer. Thankfully, in an adventure game the graphics aren’t the priority. The actual adventure is a bit more important.

One thing I find a negative in this game is that you can’t walk around. In a previous installment, you were allowed to walk around on the crime scene. I was hoping they implemented this again. But now, it’s back to the old point-and-click interface. Which is quite fine by me, expect for one flaw. In the game you are scored on how thorough you are. A visual indication for this would be nice, there have been various times that I was searching on a spot that was actually clean. They did this in the previous installments.

Another thing I don’t understand is that they cut the lab into two area’s. It’s rather annoying when you need to switch between the two places. Also, it’s annoying to see a number showing with the evidence. I can understand that it’s to help you remember that are is something that needs your processing, but you have no visual indication which item you still need to take a closer look at. That number also doesn’t decrease when you investigate it with the proper machine.

Oh, I talked a bit earlier about the lab. Some instruction videos actually didn’t work and it played part of the intro for this game. This is the weirdest bug I have seen for quite a while.

The GUI (graphical user interface, the menus and such) in the lab is a bit lacking. In the past it was easier to switch between evidence. Now, you need to restart before you can continue.

Yet, the worst two issues is that you can barely alt+tab out of the game. Your screen will show some weird bars like a smashed LCD screen. And related to that, sometimes the sound cuts out on a scary way… as your headphones just popped.

What is good…?

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Apart from the visuals, I find barely any major flaws, apart from some nitpicks here and there, in the game. The soundtrack in this game feels a lot like the series. Music that won’t go to your music library but is perfect to set the mood.

The design of the crime scenes and the locations you visit are well thought out. The “hiding spots” for the evidence are sometimes so well hidden, it’s easy to look over them. This is very lovely, since this gives the game a more challenging nature.

Also, there are achievements in this game. For the people who want to 100% this game, this is some replay value. You can try to avoid making the mistakes you made in the first playthrough.

The tips system is more streamlined. Sometimes you get mails from the night shift supervisor telling you what you should do or might overlook.

Is this game perfect? Hell no, it has some flaws that might hinder the experience. Is it good? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not really. I would recommend it to fans of the series and adventure gamers. I would also recommend it to people who like to solve crimes, virtually or in the real world.

If you are able to look past a few minor issues, this game is quite well crafted. When the developers had a bit more time, this game could be a bit better polished. That’s all I have to say about this game in my first impression. If I finish it, I might write a review about it and go a bit more in depth about certain area’s of the game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this for you guys (or girls). I hope to welcome you at another article. But until then, have a nice day and game on~

Gamer’s Thoughts: 10 facts about the gameboy and gameboy color

game-boy-color-vector-material_429388Let’s do something different, not a review or a first impression. Let’s not talk about the game music or something along those lines. In this article I want to talk about the history of the gameboy and gameboy color and maybe some facts you didn’t know about yet. So, this is an experimental article. It would help me if you guys left a comment about the content and subject of this article. Let’s begin. 

Gameboy

1) Kirby’s color is white?

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Did you know, that Kirby’s first appearance in the west was actually white? The reason for that is when Nintendo USA got the code for the game in order to translate, they didn’t mention that Kirby was pink. Because his first installment was on the gameboy, it was unclear which color he had. That’s why Nintendo decided to give him a white color.

Also, there are some rumors of Kirby’s name. It might have to do with a story of a lawyer that defended Nintendo when Universal Studio’s sued Nintendo for copyright infringement on their Donkey Kong license. But that’s only a rumor… right?

2) A calculator as inspiration.

SHARP_ELSIMATE_EL-W221

Gunpei Yokoi was sitting on the train when he saw a business man playing around on his calculator. You know that stuff you did back in class? Turning the numbers upside down to try and spell out words? It didn’t take long before your dirty mind took over and you turned the number “80085” upside down.

So, that’s what gave Gunpei the inspiration to make the gameboy with the RD&1 of Nintendo. Sadly enough, the creator of the gameboy has passed away in a car accident a few years ago.

He got a few awards under his belt, but to me he will always be remember as the creator of the gameboy :)!

3) The Gameboy Advance SP wasn’t the first back-lit gameboy.

Game_Boy_LightRemember those painful days when you had to have a lamp on to play the gameboy? When you couldn’t play it under your sheets easily because the gameboy didn’t had a light-up screen?

Well, the successor, the gameboy pocket got a second release in Japan. The gameboy light was actually the solution to the issue. Strangely enough, the device only stayed in Japan. In the USA and Europe we got all sorts of crazy attachments that barely worked.

What’s an every bigger mystery is why they didn’t include this feature in the gameboy color. Yes, we had to wait until the gameboy advance SP until we had backlit gameboy screens. What a shame actually. But hey, it was fun trying to hide the gameboy and put out the lights at night to avoid your parents busting in…. Just don’t forget you lower your volume.

 4) The gameboy wasn’t the first Nintendo handheld

Game_&_WatchSo, this relates to my 2nd point about the calculator. When Gunpei started to design the first handheld game for Nintendo, he developed the Game & Watch series.

The Game & Watch series are now a big collector item. It’s even believed that some Game & Watch systems gave the inspiration to the Nintendo DS’s design.

Well, more on Game & Watch devices later.

5) Samsung sold it!

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Around the time the WO II ended, Korea actually banned products made in Japan. Which meant that the Gameboy was banned. But that didn’t stop from being sold in Korea.

Samsung Korea actually sold the gameboy under another name, called the “Comboy”. It’s not the only system that Samsung sold. I know that they sell a version of the DS as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised that they helped to sell the whole gameboy line in Korea. But notice that’s I’m doubting since I don’t know for certain.

Gameboy Color

1) The SNES gameboy “port”

Back in the day, you could play Gameboy games on your TV using the Super Gameboy. You can even play with the color.

But strangely enough, the Super Gameboy couldn’t run Gameboy Color games. The SNES would be strong enough to run those games and it has color for sure.

We had to wait until the GameCube before we would be able to play these games legally on a big screen.

2) Trivia

game-boy-color-vector-material_429388

The Gameboy color is the only system in the Gameboy series that has clear cartrigdes.

The colors in the name of the Gameboy color stand for each different color the gameboy color was originally released in.

And final part of trivia, all black gameboy cartridges are enhanced to be in color on the gameboy color!

3) Pokemon Crystal, two versions?

Pokemon Complex Crystal (v1.33)-3-full

The most popular game on the Gameboy Color was Pokémon Gold & Silver. But strangly enough, Pokémon Crystal got two releases. I discovered this when I found out that I had two Pokémon Crystal cartridges.

When I saw the area code, somehow a “-1″ was printed on it. After I researched it, it turns out that there was a v1.1 released. There is barely anything known what is patched. But hey, time to hunt a copy down for your collection!

4) Wireless.

InfraredIf you thought that you needed to use cables when it came to connecting two gameboy colors, think again. Some games actually used the infrared port on top of the gameboy.

I never used it as a kid, but it’s interesting to learn more about. Since according to my research, it was the first handheld that had wireless communication.

5) Motion Control before it was cool.

1135408995-00Oh, and it wasn’t the only first. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble was the first motion controlled game. It’s a sort of maze / Super Monkey Ball-ish game.

It actually worked with tilting the gameboy around. I haven’t played it, but I have seen video’s about it. It made me want to grab a copy of it. Since you can’t have the same experience with these kind of games on an emulator.

Final thoughts

So, that was the article I wanted to release last week. But, I was busy and tired, so I moved it to this week. I hope you enjoyed reading about the gameboy and gameboy color. If you knew all these ten facts, I hope it was a nice refresher.

I enjoyed writing this, did you enjoy reading it? Anyways, I hope to see you another time. Thanks for reading. :)

Review #028: Lili: Child Of Geos (PC ~ Steam) ~ Is this a port?

Lili Child of GeosSteam store page – Official site

A member, well more a friend of mine, from Arpegi recommend to me this game. I had this game on my wishlist before she even told me about it. So, then I decided to buy it. I didn’t do any research apart from watching some screenshots and the trailer. I only found out that this game is a port of a mobile game. And it’s not released on Android. According to the site of the developers, it only released on iOS. Now, people who read my blog often will know what I’m going to say about me, but in case you are a new reader I have something to tell about my reviews. Because I don’t have an iPhone, I won’t compare it to the original. But the most important thing here is that I’m going to take a look at this version. Since this is the version I played. (If I play other versions of the game, only then I compare.) This introduction has gone on for long enough. Let’s dive right into this game. Also, feel free to leave a comment on this game and or my article. 

Inspiration

Lili_ScreenShot_01_web

So, the developers try to sell this game with a daring statement. They say if you enjoy games like the Zelda series or Broken Age, you will have a blast with this game. Now, the “problem” I had because of this is that I had high expectations going into this game.

Sadly, the game didn’t deliver enough on that front. But is this a bad game? Well, in my opinion, this is a pretty neat game. Let me explain.

As usual, let’s start with talking about the story. I do very well know that this game is a port of a mobile game and because of that, I can safely say that the story for this game is pretty sweet. It won’t blow you off your socks or it isn’t a masterpiece but it gets the job done quite nicely.

One thing took me by surprise. This game might have multiple endings. I don’t know for sure but I have a strong feeling this game does have more then one ending. In the middle of the game you have the option to return home. I might have to play the game again to find out about that.

That is a positive thing for this game. There is replay-ability in this game. And you can make each playthrough different. I honestly think that with 2 to 3 playthroughs you can see everything in that game.

It would be quite unfair to say that the story could have been better. Since it wouldn’t benefit the game. The gameplay would be ruined if there was a deeper storyline then there is. The story is about you saving an island from an evil mayor. Every action you take will have a reaction. So, the story kind of wrote itself. The writing is pretty solid and the characters, while mostly flat, can be memorable at times.

Anyways, enough about the story. Long time readers of mine know that I can talk hours about stories, but we have a game to review!

Trying to hard?

Lili_ScreenShot_09_web

When I was playing this game, I felt like they tried a bit too hard when creating this game. Often I fell under the impression that they went for a huge amazing adventure. But in the end, it didn’t turn out that way.

I have beaten the whole game on the normal difficulty setting in 6-7 hours. This game is rather at the short side. With only 4-5 area’s to explore, this game falls into the category of a “game snack”.

The gameplay is rather interesting. While you explore, you have to fight enemies. To defeat them, you need to pull the flowers from their head. The later guardians have certain defenses. They can put thorns and bombs to try and shake you off. Lili can hang on these guardians as long as the meter doesn’t run out. The more hits you take, the faster that meter runs out.

Now, there isn’t a game over screen. Since there is no possibility to die. Thankfully the game autosaves since there is a spot where you can get stuck. At the stall where you can buy keys, there is a vase hidden behind some barrels. I was playing with my controller and kept pushing forward. Somehow, I got stuck behind the barrels. I couldn’t get out due to invisible walls.

Speaking of those, some area’s have invisible walls. I have no idea for what reason. My best guess is to avoid some minor graphical glitches. Like a hat clipping through a stair or something. For that reason they blocked off some small area’s. But it isn’t that big of a deal.

The user interface is pretty neat. It helps you to keep an overview of some achievements and is pretty good to use. I don’t have any complaints with it. They even thought of listing your side quests! Great move guys.

Mistakes

Lili_ScreenShot_10_web

What exactly are the negatives of this game? I already talked about the game being at the short side, but with the possible different outcomes, there can be a replay. This will double the playtime. So, yeah, a 12-14 hour adventure game… not bad.

Visually, the game looks stunning. Even on the low graphics. The higher settings weren’t too friendly on my old machine. So, let me know how this game looks at it’s highest settings.

The music is okay, but not good. The problem is that it isn’t catchy. I wouldn’t see myself looking to download the soundtrack of this game and listing to it while I’m on the go. Even when the theme in homes is a remix of the track they use in the Zelda games.

A big negative is that playing with a mouse makes this game way to easy. When I tried to defeat the guardians with my controller, it was actually challenging. But as soon as I started to use my mouse to pull out the flowers, the game got a lot easier. I was able to defeat the final boss with great ease.

Do you guys remember my rant about my 10 most hated things in gaming? Number ten was mistakes in the controls. And they made one of the biggest. They forgot that there are also AZERTY keyboards in the world. And the keybinds on AZERTY keyboards aren’t converted.

The biggest issue I have is with the achievements. They are broken. From buggy achievements to just silly achievements. Breaking 1000 vases? No, thanks.

Anyways, I think I’ll go to my conclusion. There are a few other things I don’t mention because I want to leave some surprises when you decide to play this game. Isn’t that a kind gesture of me?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Decent story.

+ Interesting gameplay.

+ Different outfits.

+ Visually stunning game.

+ Good user interface.

+ …

The bad:

– Forgettable soundtrack.

– Achievements need to be fixed.

– The difficulty is unbalanced between the controller and the mouse.

– AZERTY keyboards are left out.

– You can’t max out all stats when you beat the game.

– …

Final thoughts:

Alright, time to wrap up this review. So, this game isn’t one of the best games I played but it kept me entertained. It has it’s fun moments but as soon as the novelty of the unique gameplay wears off, the signs of it being originally a mobile game start to show.

The game got a an amazing upgrade to become a PC game. But, in the end, it’s nothing more then a port with a pet and hat collection quest as extra. If that’s your only addition besides updating the UI and graphics, professional reviewers won’t be very kind to the game.

While I enjoyed the game myself, I need to be objective and admit that this game lacks a whole lot of gameplay. That’s the biggest problem with this game. It’s way to short and way to repetitive if you don’t do the side quests as well.

So, I can score this game on two ways. I can give it a rather high score because I enjoyed myself and I liked the game. At the other hand, I can give the game a rather low score because of the reasons I said before. To give a fair score, I decided to score this game between the two scores. Yeah.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed writing this one. And I hope to see you in another article! Take care~

Score: 60/100

First Impression: Bully – Scholarship Edition (PC / Steam) ~ It’s a game at least.

bully-scholarship-edition-pc-boxartOfficial website

My current studies in college are teacher. So, honest, I was quite interested in this game. I was curious how they would address the problems of a bully. Knowing the developer, the first impression of this game is that this game actually gives bullying a “good vibe”. But let me explain in this article why I think the game is actually not even worth it. How they totally missed tons and tons of opportunities. If you follow me on my Twitter, you know that I tweeted out to Q that this game left me ‘meh’.  In other words, I’m not extremely interested in beating this game. There are just too many flaws in this game that it isn’t even funny. And it’s an extreme shame, RockStar games are known for amazing games but they failed on various parts in this game. I kinda feel like a real teacher now, sometimes repeating this same information but in different ways. Hah! Food for thought. Something my colleague teachers will understand. Anyways, while I do realize that I can possibly get hate on this article, I honestly only care about people who can say their opinion with respect. And I invite you to post a comment with your own thoughts on this article and or the game. 

And I haven’t played yet.

pc-09bigWhen you have games like GTA under your belt, you expect quality things from the developer. But the download on Steam was just finished and I noticed that the game was going to be a major let down.

I researched the problem and I wasn’t the only one. The game has freezing issues at the start-up loading screen. I repeat, the start-up loading screen. Yeah, and I haven’t played the game yet. And we are off to a great start. And sorry RockStar, you have no excuse! At the title screen it says “1.200”. Assuming this is your version number, this means most likely that you released 2 patches. Ignoring that issue is a shame.

Then the main menu, I seriously thought that I was going to pull my hair out. The main menu on the Steam version is terrible. It has an interesting design behind it but it barely has any options you expect from the main menu. To configure most options, apart from video (If I recall correctly), have to be done when you loaded your save.

Sadly enough, the problems don’t stop there. The game can be played with an XBOX360 controller. And honestly, I recommend playing it with a controller. Why? Because the controls feel stiff and awkward. The controller’s controls are an improvement but not that much. And how can a big studio not program the recognition of the controller? I found this out in mid-game. So, I plugged in my controller and I have to reboot the game in order for it to work. And here is the fun part, when I unplugged it mid-game, the game didn’t react to keyboard input!

Nice try guys.

bully-scholarship-edition-qdphGraphically this game is pretty okay. It isn’t anything amazing but thankfully they used some detail. But then, the developer got GTA in their heads and the designing a school got a “GTA upgrade”.

You can buy new clothes to wear instead of the uniform. I facefalmed hard right there. If you missed why, look up the definition of a school uniform. You have to wear that uniform and nothing else. Okay, it’s to rebel, I understand. But you easily get in trouble in real life if you break rules.

Now, the animation. Do I truly have to? Well, here we go then. The animation of this game is just awful. Please tell me when I can come out of hiding after the hoard of angry fanboys went by.

The game is riddled with animation problems. From twitching characters to people falling upwards, they got it all. As if this game has been thrown on Steam just to have some more cash. This game is pretty bad at hiding it’s problems. In cutscenes you can see the problems popping up. In the cutscenes! I mean, come on. If you know your engine has issues, use movies like in the old days as cut scenes.

More issues

344247-bully-scholarship-edition-windows-screenshot-picking-a-lockI might start talking again about the design and the animation of this game in this article, but if I don’t, I’ll surely talk about it in my full review if I ever write one.

Another BIG issue I have to address is the sound. From the music to the sound effects. The music, honestly, is bland. I always listen to the game’s music when writing articles. It helps my brain to get into the mood and feel from the game. But the music is nothing special. I find it hard to even remember tunes from the game. While I can easily recognize many tracks of other games I played. But that might be because I didn’t hear everything yet.

And the sound effects, my lords. Are they bad! The sound of students stepping sounds like they clapped two coconut shells to each other. Or those old plastic pots with cords that you walked around with on the playing ground. It breaks the immersion quick.  I had it happen often.

And don’t get my started about the students. They are loud and thanks to that you can barely hear what’s said in some cutscenes and what your reply was of a student you praised or said bad things too. Also, they sometimes give you awkward replies or the same one over and over again.

Is this game junk? Well, no not completely. The gameplay is somewhat interesting. But please, anything but the classes. While they could have showed the interesting part of teaching they replaced the courses by simple mini-games. And English class is such a pain for a not native speaker. Trying to make words with the letters given. I had to struggle a lot. My native language isn’t English, it’s Dutch. So, that’s a spot where they missed something they could have done gameplay wise.

Anyways, I think I’m going to leave it here. I might play this game a bit more to research it but that’s my current opinion on it. If you want to try it, know it didn’t talk in depth about the graphics, design, gameplay and control. That’s something for you to discover. But I warn my readers, think this one through before you buy it. You might be let down by the sheer unpolished elements in this game.

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

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Official website

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

Manuscript pages

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

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

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

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

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

Ammo?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well lit room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100