Tag Archives: story

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.

Advertisements

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

LaterLevels’ QOTM – January 2019 – The Ultimate Game: Themes

header

For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the amount of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt myself too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of my games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing worked. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this story time about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too much plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPG’s use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

retro_game_challenge_coverart

Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beaten the first three levels of a top down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat the certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and theme is this. A big open world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

cropped-oty2.jpg

If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

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

Review: Lucid Path (PC) ~ Let’s Go RPG’ing

header.jpg

Official steam page

Today I want to take a look at a game that got sent to me. The name is Lucid Path. It’s a RPG created by Grevicor. I got a review copy of this game to write this review but the developer asked me to give my 100% honest opinion, so that’s what you are going to get in this article. I’m honestly glad that I’m able to try this game, since looking at the screenshots, I’m quite interested in playing it. Also, the developer told me that this is a very short game that throws the player in unexpected and twisted situations. So, you got my attention. Let’s explore those situations then. And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Misery Loves Company

20181117175122_1The story of this game starts out quite simple. You are tired of your miserable life and you go set out on an adventure. Luck is on your side, since adventure finds you really fast. You come across a village which has a problem with a nearby dungeon. Now, it’s up to you to solve their problem.

Before I continue, I must say that the font chosen in dialogue boxes fits the theming for the game really well. But, it made it tricky to easily see the difference between some letters like the “o” and “a”. Now, I didn’t mind it too much, since I’m pretty fluent in English (…If you need evidence, in what language am I even writing then?) so, I was able to read it without a problem.

You go and explore the dungeon and try to solve the problem. You meet several characters which will aid you in your quest. In addition to that, you learn that there is a bigger problem in this dungeon than just the monsters.

The writing itself is pretty decent. You meet some other people from the village during your quest. Since the game is pretty short, I don’t want to spoil the ending or any more of the story. If you are interested, I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

Chilling in the dungeon

20181117180029_1The gameplay of this game is quite relaxing. This game is a casual RPG. The gameplay of this game consists out of playing mini games, choosing when to use your spells and improving your character. Now, what do I mean by “mini games”? When your character takes on a quest, you don’t have to do anything. You play a small mini game on an old computer. Depending on how you do in the mini-game, the faster your character is able to finish the quest.

Each time you go and explore the dungeon, you earn coins and medals. With these coins, you can buy better equipment and with the medals you can improve your stats at the castle. Now, you can also earn coins and medals by doing quests. There are 3 quests you can do. After you have done those three quests, you have to go inside the dungeon to get new ones.

Before I talk about the dungeon, I want to mention the shop. This part of the game still needs some polishing work. There are two things I disliked about the store. The first thing is that you have to drag & drop from and to your inventory to buy and sell. When you try to sell an armor piece you are wearing, that won’t work. And if you double click on something to buy, that won’t work either. This was annoying while I was using the shop. I get used to it, but I felt like I was doing a click too much.

The second thing I disliked about the shop were the colored items. It’s quite unclear with the spectrum is. The ones without a background are the cheapest and weakest ones. Followed by a green background, yellow background, blue background and those with a purple background are the strongest. Now, why not show “lv.1”, “lv.2”… ? This makes it easier to figure out and it also helps colorblind people.

Something I did really like about the store is the fact that the inventory of the store is random each and every time. You can refresh the store’s inventory by spending a few coins. I made sure to check the store each and every time before I went to the dungeon to make sure there wasn’t more powerful gear waiting for me in the dungeon.

The gameplay in the dungeon is a bit too uninvolved. The battle takes places automatically. There are two things you can influence. The first thing is when you decide to use your spells. You can store 4 spells. You have a fire spell, thunder spell, poison spell… There are a handful of them. You can only use each spell once during your session. The session ends when you are out of health. When you are out of health, you go back to the town.

Now, the 2nd thing you can influence in the dungeon is the speed of the game. Now, you can either pause, play at normal speed or play sped up. You even have a button to leave the dungeon early. The leave button isn’t a temporary check point, it’s like a retreat. When you faint and enter the dungeon again, you start at the latest checkpoint. Each five rooms, you get a checkpoint.

About the controls for controlling the speed of the game, I found it disappointing that it was unclear which button was pressed. It would be really helpful if there is a visual identification to show which button you have chosen.

Besides that, there isn’t a lot to do in the dungeon. I found this disappointing, I wish it was a bit more involved. I also felt that the AI of the monsters attacked my character more than your companion. Thankfully, upgrading and improving your character isn’t hard. Each time I trained my character and bought better items, I felt I was able to progress one or two rooms further in the dungeon.

Alright, I have to be honest about something. There are some additional things to do in the dungeon. But, I would ruin a surprise for that. So, if you want to know what that is, you should play this game. The only thing I would say is that there should be more moments like those that happen in the dungeon.

You are able to heal yourself outside of the dungeon by doing quests. These quests give green pearls that heal you. So, you each time you want to heal, you have to play a mini game. You can’t enter the dungeon without full health either.

Now, there is a more involved version of the dungeon and that is the arena in the castle. You can choose between three different tiers and with that you can win an item. Now, you have to press the space bar at the right time to deal more damage. It’s that kind of mini game that you need to press the button when the pointer is in the green area. In the arena, your equipment does not make a difference. So, it’s pure skill based in there. You do have to pay coins to get in the arena. The more difficult the challenge is, the cheaper it becomes. This makes sense, since that way you can’t easy farm the cheap items to have a huge mountain of cash to easily buy the most powerful items.

Now, if this was in the main dungeon, that would make the game a bit more interesting. Since most of my enjoyment in this game came from the times I was playing the mini games and messing around in the town…

Vector mini games

20181117195941_1Now, this game doesn’t automatically save, so if you don’t want to lose any progress… Quit the game using the menu in the town. Now, if you reboot the game in full screen, you might notice that there is some graphical weirdness going on. Just go into the options menu, click the full screen option once to go to windowed mode and click it again to go back to full screen. That fixes that issue.

The mini games are vector based mini games. The first mini game you encounter is a top down shooter that reminded me a lot of Asteroids. Each time you shoot a falling rock, the rocks’ drop speed increases. The faster the rock, the more points it gives to completing the quest. Oh, you have to actually do something in the mini games or your character won’t progress in his quest. After a few floors, you unlock the possibility to play another mini-game for a good amount of coins.

The 2nd mini game is one where you go downward and you aren’t allowed to touch the edges. I personally highly dislike these style of mini games. Now, this is something personal, but I have never been good at this mini game. Each mini game has 2 achievements. There is the “Good at” and “Great at” mini game. Each achievement is tied to your score.

The final mini game felt broken to me. For some reason, the mini game didn’t react on my inputs at certain moments making me loose it. But, that might be because it’s a rhythm-ish style mini game and I’m not that great when it comes to that.

Now the other mini games I will leave as a surprise for if you decide to play the game. They are quite interesting, but for some reason I found myself enjoying the first one the most. In this game the Asteroids one is called Planetoids.

Now, this game isn’t too difficult. Some people will find this game repetitive, but I found it a relaxing experience. It was a blast to play something where I was able to just relax and I didn’t need to take the game too seriously. The game became even more interesting after a few hours of play, it opened up more. But, I won’t spoil that. This is especially true when you think that the game is repetitive. Don’t worry, something unique and fun will happen near the end.

There isn’t a lot of replay value in this game. After you have beaten the game, there isn’t too much different in a 2nd playthrough.

This game is also really cheap. So, if you are looking for an cheap enjoyable game; look no further. Yes, I found the game enjoyable. Especially the charm of the visual presentation. It reminded me a lot of Knights of Pen and Paper. The retro feel while not using true 8bit or 16bit visuals is just pretty to me. The game is colorful and lively and just gives off that relaxing vibe. It also has a lot of charm in my opinion. A charm I can’t get enough off.

The animations might be basic, they were just perfect in this game. Like the sound effects, they fit the theming of the game perfectly. The music, well, it’s something I would like to add to my playlist of relaxing music. I really liked the soundtrack of this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game. I think it’s high time for my conclusion and final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The game can be a bit repetitive.
  • Some minor visual issues in full screen mode when booting the game.
  • The shop needs some polishing work.
  • The exploration of the dungeon can be boring.
  • Some UI improvements are needed.

The good:

+ Enjoyable writing.

+ Great music & sound design.

+ Great visual presentation.

+ Fun mini games.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

At certain times, I felt that this game could make for a perfect mobile game. At certain points, I felt like this game isn’t really meant to play in long sessions. This game could be enjoyed more in short sessions.

This game has a lot of potential. There are some flaws that could be polished and patched out but they didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the game. If you are looking for an enjoyable cheap game, I wouldn’t look any further. This is a great time wasting game.

The biggest issue I felt that this game has is that the game didn’t had enough gameplay. I wish there was a bit more to do, especially during the exploration of the dungeon. Oh well, not every game can be perfect.

I do recommend that you give this game a try and just relax and enjoy the experience. Since, that’s in my opinion the best way to enjoy the game.

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

Score: 70/100

Publishing: Heralds of the Order – A New Handdrawn Turnbased Adventure!

Heralds of the Order is a turn-based strategy game boiled down to the genre’s core principles. Utilize positioning and abilities with elaborate patterns to achieve victory! Featuring hand drawn art and over 20 story chapters.

Story

Maala, the realm without gods, finds itself on the verge of catastrophe.  Objects of ancient power resurface, triggering a race to claim them, one that promises to engulf the world in war. It is your duty as a Patronus of the Order to go forth and restore balance. Along the way you will find new allies and face countless foes, as the line between myth and reality shatters.

Key Features

  • Turn-based tactical combat boiled down to its core priciples.
  • A sprawling story that will take you on a gripping journey across Maala.
  • 8 party members each with their unique motivations and abilities.
  • Hand-drawn art and traditional rotoscoped
  • Over 20 handcrafted missions taking place in 6 unique environments.
  • Adapt your strategy! Customize your party‘s stats and choose from the numerous God Powers to overcome the challenges ahead of you.
  • Unique boss fights with devastating attacks.

Combat Features

  • Abilities with elaborate patterns.
  • Positioning, flanking and countering the enemy’s defences are the key to victory.
  • Elaborate battlefields with various boons and hazzards.
  • Unique energy management system that determines the ebb and flow of combat.
  • Devastating God Powers which can alter the course of combat.

Media

Videos

A video of me playing trough our free demoHere’s an interview we did with Eddie from Playing Indies

Character Art

Articles

“Let’s save the world of Maala in this new turn-based strategy game inspired by The Banner Saga. ” – TURN-BASED LOVER

“”Heralds of The Order” by @ArcheanGames promises richly detailed turn-based strategy. ” – CaptainD, Indie Game News

Downloads

GameJolt Archean Games Download

https://gamejolt.com/games/herald-of-the-order/366356

About the team

archean games.png

We’re a three man team, consisting of two programmers and one artist, based in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. We spent our high school years dreaming of a career in the games industry, learning the basics of game-making. When we began university we decided that it was the perfect time to try our luck in the indie scene. And so we began developing Heralds of the Order – our first major project.

Twitter – FacebookItch.io

 

 

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: Age of Mythology Extended Edition (PC) ~ And on the 7th day he gamed.

ageofmythologyextendededitionSteam store page

Ah, Age of Mythology. I got introduced to this game when I wasn’t able to understand English. It was at a co-worker of my mom’s house. I was playing the games on the PC I didn’t own. The first time, I played with the Egyptian culture, since I have quite a fondness for the old Egyptian culture. A few years later, I found Age of Mythology in a garage sale. It was a French version, but I didn’t mind. I was finally able to play that one game I played for myself. Back then, my French was better than it is now. It didn’t take long before I found a copy of the Gold Edition with the Titans expansion pack. I played the game quite a lot back then. I even dabbled in online play. Fast forward to 2014 and Age Of Mythology Extended Edition releases. Overjoyed, I start it up and have a nostalgic wave. But, is the game any good and does it still hold up. Let’s find out. 

Tale of the Dragon

To my surprise, in 2016, the game received new content. This new content isn’t too well received if you read the Steam reviews. But, I’m running ahead of myself here. First, let’s take a look at the story of this game. In this game you play as Arkantos, an admiral from Atlantis. Something strange I have to point out is that the Atlanteans were added with the expansion pack “Rise of the Titans”. 

Anyways, Arkantos gets a mission where he has to help Agamemnon in the Trojan War. Things go south right away and Arkantos’s fierce enemy Kamos tries to boycott him. The story of this game is quite long. It has over 30 missions and it will take you 30 hours to finish the main campaign. If you decide to play the additional campaign the DLC brings, you get an 10 hours additional playtime.

694637-age-of-mythology-extended-edition-windows-screenshot-ordering.png

During the story, you come across various allies and go on a big adventure. The writing in the game is good. Personally, I prefer the stories in this game more than the stories that were told in Age of Empires I & II. The way how they used the mythologies and stories to create one huge story is just amazing.

Something that still holds up from the original is the voice acting. During the story, you come across Greek, Egyptian & Norse missions and each character feels and sounds unique. My favorite missions were the Egyptian missions. The reason for that might be because I’m really fond of the Egyptian mythology.

But, would I say that the voice acting is actually good? Oh, no. The voice acting is cheesy and over-the-top. And to be honest, I love it. It adds to the craziness of the story and atmosphere. I get the impression that the voice actors had an amazing time in the recoding booth. The voice acting just clicked with me and actually made me laugh out loud sometimes.

The two base campaigns of the game are a blast to play through. I’m also glad that the downloadable short campaign “The Golden Gift” is also added in the Extended Edition. This was a 4-mission long campaign you were able to download from the official website as a short of update/free expansion.

So, I also played a bit through Tale of the Dragon for this review. While I can understand the negative reception of this DLC, I would still recommend it. Now, there are some balancing issues and the multiplayer with the new Chinese civilization is sometimes quite unstable. But, it provides some new and fresh challenge in the game. I have to admit that I haven’t experimented with them too much, since I love playing with the Egyptians the most, but from what I have played; the Chinese look like a lot of fun to play with. If you want a more in-depth review of the DLC, I would recommend that you read Moshfish’s review on it. It’s an amazing summary of what’s good and what’s bad with the DLC and I agree with a lot of it.

I want to add one thing to the Tale of the Dragons review. I don’t know if it’s just me or if other people experienced it as well, but in some missions I didn’t have background music. Also, I found it a missed opportunity to add additional Asian tracks to the soundtrack.

Something minor that I experienced as well is that when you use a God power, usually a name is display who uses it. In the main campaigns, that’s Arkantos. In Tale of the Dragon, it’s nobody… No name is displayed.

God powers and such

age-of-mythology-extended-edition-windows-screenshot-arkantos

This game plays like your typical RTS game. If you have played games like Age of Empires II or Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War, you will feel right at home. Your main goal is to build your civilization. You do this by assigning villagers various tasks to collect resources or create buildings. With these resources you can create more units to improve your economy or create an army to defend from enemies or attack them.

There are, including the DLC, 5 different civilizations to play with. The Norse, Greek, Atlanteans, Egyptian and Chinese. Each civilization has it’s unique units and quirks. For example, the Norse has a special cart, the Ox cart, that is a sort of movable drop off point for resources. The Greek need to have villagers praying to great favors while the Egyptians need to build statues of their gods to create favors. 

The best way to learn how to play with these civilizations is to play through the campaign. By the end, you will know the basics and some advanced mechanics with each civilization. But, if you are totally new to RTS games, there is a “Learn To Play” map where you get the basics of RTS gameplay. You learn how to play with the Greek civilization. The unique elements for each civilization are explains in a cinematic. Now, there is no Greek one and in the Chinese one, some bits take a bit too long.

If you ever want to know more about an unit or a building, you can just click on the portrait. You get a very detailed screen with a lot of information. This information contains the unit’s or building’s things like: strengths, weaknesses and uses. You can also click on “contents” to read a full in-game Wiki. Too bad it doesn’t have a search feature or a better menu system. If this was expanded upon, this would have been an even better tool.

You can play through the campaign on 4 difficulties. I mostly played through the campaign on the normal (moderate) difficulty. I would recommend that you play the game on the normal difficulty first and decide if the game is too easy to too hard for you and switch if needed. Overall, the game is quite balanced and I rarely had moments where I found the AI was quite unfair.

There are few unique mechanics in this game. First, let’s talk about a new unit class. Besides your typical triangle of sword, bow and horse; there is a 4th unit class. Myth Units. These units can be trained in temples and are effective against human units. Each civilization has unique to the mythology of that civilization. For example, centaurs for the Greeks and sphinxes for the Egyptians.

The second unique mechanic are the Titans. When you reach the last age, you can start building a Titan Gate. When this gate is completed, a titan unique to that civilization is summoned. These are huge and powerful units that can be used as tank units to attack the enemy. Now, you can only place this Titan gate once, so if it’s destroyed, though luck. Also, the Titan is quite weak to Hero Units and siege units. So, be careful if you use the Titan.

Now, if you have played Age of Empires III, this mechanic might be sort of familiar. When you advance to the next age, you can choose between various advisors who give you a certain reward when you advance. This isn’t different in this game. When you advance to the next age, you can choose between two minor gods. The god you choose decides which myth unit you can create at your temple and which god powers you can use.

Yes, the final unique mechanic are the god powers you can use. Each civilization has it’s own unique god powers which range from offensive to defensive powers. You can summon earthquakes, spy on the enemy for a limited time, summon a healing spring, have a moment where nobody can attack… There are a lot of them. Most of them can only be used once during gameplay. Some can be used more than once, but they all have a limit.

If you want to read more in-depth about how this game works, I recommend that you take a look at this website: http://aom.heavengames.com. It’s a huge website containing very detailed information and strategies on how to play this game.

Most of my time has been spend in this game playing random matches versus the AI of this game. In the past, I was quite skilled in this game. I knew most of the keys to quickly and efficiently create my base and build up my army. While I love the economic play in this game, I’m horrible when it comes to balancing my army. Since I played a lot with the Egyptian civilization, I don’t know a lot about the other civilizations.

If it’s not clear by now, I think that the gameplay in this game is excellent. The campaign has quite a lot of challenges but just playing on a random map versus the AI is quite a lot of fun as well. There are some things I would love to change about this game but there is a very active modding community providing a ton of mods in the workshop fixing bugs and fixing most of the issues I have with this game.

Let’s dance

694638-age-of-mythology-extended-edition-windows-screenshot-civilization.png

The soundtrack of this game is amazing. The soundtrack is orchestrated and uses an amazing mix of various instruments.

Each civilization has it’s own unique theme and unique tracks. Also, the developers enjoyed themselves way too much with naming these tracks. The main theme of this game is called “A Cat Named Mittens” and one of the most relaxed and chillest tracks is called: “Eat Your Potatoes”.

Together with very good sound effects, the audio of this game is a hit. To this day, when I listen to the soundtrack casually, I remember how the villagers sound and other sound effects. Something I really like is how the sound effects are played in stereo. So, if you move an unit from the left to the right, you will hear your unit in your left speaker.

Now, the rest of the presentation of this game isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks great and the theming is very well done but some character models look out-dated. While I personally don’t mind that much, I feel like this extended edition could have done a lot more than just a simple wide screen support. The additional visual polish isn’t much to write home about. Just look at this Imgur library created by NecessaryDerp from 2014 where the graphics from the original are compared to the Extended Edition: https://imgur.com/gallery/L8WEE

Am I saying that the game looks ugly? No, I’m not. Like I said before, the game still looks great. The improved visuals for the liquids like water and lava are quite pleasing to the eye. And to be honest, the only moment I find the graphics dated is when you are extremely zoomed into the map. Also, thanks to the magic of Steam Workshop ingratiation, you can use a lot of mods to improve the visuals to your liking.

In the past, the online community of this game was quite alive. There were a lot of people playing this game. I remember that were at least 100 different lobbies. Now-a-days, the online community of this game is dying. The day I publish this review, there were only 5 lobbies. It’s a shame, since I played some great game mods online. From King of the Hill to a sort of Dota clone.

There is one thing I really dislike in this game and that’s the save and load menu. Now, it works fine but I wish it displayed more information. For example, if you were playing a random match or if it’s a save in a mission/scenario. I haven’t found a mod that’s able to solve the issues I have with it.

A nitpick I have with this game is with the map. I love how you can rotate the map holding the CTRL-key down, but there is no identification on what position it was originally in. It’s a minor thing.

Something that frustrates me the most is that this game doesn’t receive additional patches. The updates stopped in 2016. Yet, the developers keep updating Age of Empires II HD. This game could use a lot of minor polishing updates but the focus of the developers is on their other products.

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

Conclusion

The bad:

-The visuals are just okay.

-The Tale of the Dragon DLC misses some polish.

-The in-game wiki could have been so much better.

-The save menu should display more information.

-Dying online multiplayer community.

The good:

+ A lot of unique mechanics like Titans and God Powers.

+ You can use mods.

+ Amazing and addictive RTS gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack & sound design.

+ Cheesy and over-the-top fun voice acting.

+ Good story.

+ …

Final thoughts:

I might be blinded by nostalgia and quite biased while reviewing this game. But, I think this game still holds up well. Yet, I fell in love with this game the first time I played it. I have a lot of fond memories with this game and reviewing the game just makes me want to replay the game some more.

This game isn’t perfect and could use some polish to fix those last bugs and improve some models, especially the human units. Yet, the charm of this game is something else. The over-the-top voice acting and endless replay value make this game a must play for every strategy and RTS fan.

The original reception of this game was poor, but thanks to the patches, this game has improved quite a lot already. If only Skybox Labs kept updating the game, then I would give this game a higher score.

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

Score: 70/100

 

 

Review: Repentant (PC) ~ Life Goes On

Repentant Header.jpgSteam Store page

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

Oliver goes shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drawn gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

So close

20180810160244_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The bad:

-The music should fade in and out better.

-The game is too short.

-The voice acting was sometimes hit & miss.

-In one area some minor frame drops.

-The hint system could have been more fleshed out.

The good:

+ The voice acting can be a hit sometimes.

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Enjoyable puzzles.

+ Great story & writing.

+ …

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Score: 80/100

Publishing: Repentant is releasing on the 9th Augustus 2018

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

capsule_616x353.jpg

General information

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

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

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

christina_label.png

Features

– Explore atmospheric hand-painted locations with challenging puzzles

– Enjoy an intriguing story with an unexpected ending

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

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

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

Developer info

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

cashier_label.png

NekoJonez’s personal note

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

oliver_label.png

 

Personal: My pet cat Sparta, my twinkling star

20150901_070705.jpg

Sparta

° 24/04/2008 –  † 13/07/2018

For those who don’t follow me on social media, I have to bring sad news today. My pet cat died due to the consequences of kidney cancer on 13th July 2018. I have to thank everybody who send me supportive messages over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, mail, Discord…

Sparta’s death affects me a lot. So, that’s why I decided that I wanted to write this article for her. I want to honor and thank her for everything she had done for me. Also, for everything she has done for my blog too. So, I’m going to talk a bit about her. I’m sorry if the article is a bit all over the place… Anyways, let’s not get distracted.

In my opinion, she was the mascot for my blog. She served as inspiration to my nickname. In the past, I had only “Jonez” as a nickname. But, I quickly found that was a commonly used name. As a kid, I had the bright idea to make it “Jonez001”, which was a YouTube username suggestion spit out by the registration form.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Japanese culture. So, I decided to work that into my nickname as well. At that moment, Sparta was enjoying a nap on my lap and that’s when I decided to rebrand myself to NekoJonez. Neko is the Japanese word for cat.

Icon

Sparta also served as inspiration for my blog icon. As you can see, it’s a gameboy cartridge with my nickname on and with a cat paw print. When ZoeF and I were in a call deciding how it should look, I remember me saying that I really wanted a cat paw print on it.

Besides being an inspiration and mascot for my blog, she was an amazing family cat. She was one of the most affectionate cats that I have ever met. She was also a great companion. She jumped on the sofa closest to me while I was gaming and first watched the TV when I was playing before falling asleep. Sometimes she jumped on my lap, and I remember a few times she actually started purring when I finally had beaten a level or a boss. To be honest, the fact that I started to pet her might have something to do with it.

2016-08-02 17.12.40.jpg

If the weather was clear, she spent most of her days in our garden. Watching that no other cats or animals entered the garden. She was a small cat, some people even thought she was still a kitten. But, that didn’t stop her. She attacked or scared the other cats away if they dared to enter her domain. The fact that she does this surprises me, since when she was one year old, we got another kitten. And those two became best friends. Sadly enough, that other kitten didn’t came home after a few months.

If the weather wasn’t clear and especially during the winter, she wanted to stay inside. She didn’t like going outside, besides when she had to do her “little room visit”. Something she will be remembered for is when you were sitting on our sofa underneath a blanket, she would jump on the sofa and then go on your legs and fall asleep there. She did that with my mom, my godchild, my sister and myself. And if she didn’t do that, she jumped on the nearest sofa were nobody was sitting and started to sleep there.

During her life, we had to move houses twice. And every time she moved with us. She adjusted pretty quickly after the move as well. It almost felt that she didn’t care where she was. The thing that mattered to her was that she was close to us.

Not long after Sparta was born, she became a stray. Her mother left her behind on the playground of the school were my father teaches. My dad brought her home and placed her into the garage. Not too long before her arrival, I was listing to the Mean Kitty Song by Mr. Safety on repeat on YouTube. That song actually gave Sparta her name. The song is about a very playful kitty that shows a lot of affection. The kitty bites a lot, but in a playful manner. And that’s how Sparta and I met. She actually bit me playfully and then started to play with the ropes on my sweater.

I can sit here and write a whole novel with stories about Sparta. How we found her once sleeping in a watering-can and how I helped her defending herself when she was young. Yeah, Sparta ate her food outside and she was too afraid from other cats to defend herself when they came and stole her food. That’s why I often sat down next to her while she was eating and scared all the other cats away. At night, I used a very strong flashlight my dad has to repair the underside of cars.

Also, for some stories you had to be there. For example, in my garden we have a wall covered with ivy. During the summer, the birds love making their nests in it. Sparta knew this and climbing in the ivy to get the nests out of the ivy. And yes, she even caught some birds. It was a funny sight, seeing Sparta disappear into the ivy and then suddenly appearing on top of it.

SpartaSleeping

Something I will never forget about her is that she knew our routines. On 99 out of a 100 times, she recognized when we came home or when our car arrived. When she heard that, she came out of her nap spot and sprinted towards the back door and waited to be let in for food. Very occasionally she climbed our garden wall to use the parking lot of our neighbor (which is a martial arts studio) to suddenly appear between your legs at the front door. We never expect this and when she does it, we jumped every single time.

But, seeing her running from the back of the garden when I came downstairs, actually miauwing when we shouted out her name and just being a companion is the Sparta I’ll remember.

So, thank you Sparta for being in our lives this past 10 years. When I take another cat, I’ll give a name to that cat in reference and honor to you. But, you will be missed Sparta. Nothing will be able to fill the void that you left. Now, you are going to twinkle like the star you are in our hearts, where you will live forever in memory.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you didn’t mind me writing this in honor of Sparta. It helped me mourning and processing  her death. Thank you for all the support and amazing messages I got from all of you. So, until the next time and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Suicide Guy – Sleepin’ Deeply (PC) ~ Moar Beer

header.jpg

Official website

Today I want to talk about a sequel, another chapter in a game I review last year. That game goes by the name of Suicide Guy. A game that got ported to the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 too. Now, the developer gave me a review key for this game and asked me to give my opinion. So, this article will be that, my unfiltered opinion on this game. Also, real talk for a moment. While this might be a game about killing yourself in various ways, if you are really struggling with mental health issues or thoughts about suicide, please look for proper medical help. That said, let’s take a look at this game. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article down below.

(Note, the version that’s used for this review is v1.35. Some comments might be changed with an update.)

Moar beer

In this game, your goal is to wake up. Again. But this time, you feel asleep drinking some stronger beer than usual. He wanted to drink some stronger beer since he saw a (voice acted) commercial on the TV.

Suicide Guy Sleeping Deeply Screenshot.jpgThe first level is a battle with a giant octopus. This battle introduces the mechanics of the game to new players. But, players who have played the original game will feel right at home with this one. It even has the same controls, the same issues with not recognizing AZERTY keyboards as well. If you could rebind your controls, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Because I haven’t gotten too far into the game, I can’t comment too much on the story. I’m looking forward to the promised twist in the end. The only thing, story-wise, I felt was a missed opportunity is the hub area. It would have been amazing if you were on some sort of a sinking ship, where the incoming water represented the beer falling to the ground. Maybe this is a lucky guess towards the twist ending, who knows?

The hub area of this game is the exact same as the first game. Now, I feel that there is something missing. The motivation of our main character to wake up.  You don’t have anything on the screens of the beer falling. There is, therefore, less urgency to finish the game. That’s why, to me, it feels like a level pack DLC. Then again, there is nothing wrong with that, but some of these small touches really added to the atmosphere of the original.

Earlier, I said that this game has voice acting. While it isn’t the best voice acting I have heard, it’s good. The price tag of this game is 3,29€ and you that, you would expect some cheap voice acting, but no, that’s not present in this game.

Frustration

Suicide Guy Sleeping Deeply Screenshot zwei.jpg

Now, let’s look at the actual gameplay. Like I said in earlier in the article, the goal of this game is to find a way to commit suicide and wake up from the dream. The first two levels, I really enjoyed. But the 3rd level, the Rube Goldberg machine… I have to be honest, I dislike these kinds of levels.

A level where you need to finish a whole obstacle course without failing once. Those cups near the end where the bain of my existence. I have to admit that I have quitted the game several times. This level is a bit too long, I would have liked checkpoints. One fix can help this level to feel less frustrating. If you are able to finish the jumps of a section, you could knock over a ladder that lets the player pass that section so they can try to finish that part again. And, to make it more challenging, make it that the statue can’t be obtained if shortcuts are used.

Now, it might look that I’m giving this game a bad rap because I’m unable to pass one level. Then again, I might be spoiled by games like Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat In Time, where you didn’t have to finish all the levels to continue in the game. This game has so much potential and it would be a shame if somebody would quit because they are unable to finish one level.

Besides that, I feel like this game needs some polishing work in different area’s as well. The animations in this game aren’t the best. They aren’t bad but, I felt like they could be smoother. For example, water splashes staying too long on screen at the introduction level or no climbing animation. If the developer added a climbing animation, that would make this game a lot better.

Visually, this game looks extremely good. The texture work here gets a thumbs up from me. The references and the humor of this game really shine due to the visual design of this game. While there are some area’s that look unfinished as well. For example, I found a spot where the poles of the wooden bridge didn’t connect to the ground, making the bridge floating in the air. Now, a quick email to the developer fixed this. He is also very responsive on the Steam forums so if you find a bug, don’t hesitate to report it.

The UI needs some minor polishing up to do as well. These might seem like nitpicks; one thing is that when you enter a level, you are unable to go back to the hub area. You need to go to the main menu and then to the hub area. The list of languages in the options should be alphabetically organized and there are some major issues with windowed mode.

Good but not great

Suicide Guy Sleeping Deeply Screenshot driejpg.jpg

Now, the music and audio design of this game are great. It helps to build the charm of this game tenfold. I’m really interested to hear what the rest of the game will offer when I finally beat that 3rd level.

In terms of controls, while it’s a shame I can’t rebind them, I feel like they are better in this game. It’s also possible that I got more used to them in the sequel but I felt fewer times that the game wasn’t doing what I asked it to do.

The game is good, but not great. It still needs some polishing up work to be done. Since there are still a few bugs in this game. Thankfully, the developer is quite active in polishing up the game. So, report every bug to make this game better. I might have been harsh on this game on several moments but that’s because I believe in this game. If the developer polishes up that 3rd level and adds some quality of life updates, like a climbing animation or rebindable controls, this game will be better for it. Things like that would make the game great.

If you were a fan of the original, I think it would be a shame if you skipped over this one. If you enjoy puzzle/action/adventure games, this is a great time waster. While it isn’t the most polished game, it’s enjoyable and unique. The references and gameplay is something I really enjoy. I have finished the original game, but I hope I’ll be able to finish this sequel one day. And who knows, I might even write a full review then.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

First Impression: Fort Triumph (PC) ~ How To Move?

00_conceptart_fort.png

Steam page

So, I recently bought a Switch. One of the games I want to play on it is Mario + Rabbits – Kingdom Battle. Due to budget constraints, I’m unable to play that game now. Thankfully, I found Fort Triumph on Steam. A game that plays similarly to that game. Now, is it a good replacement or not? Let’s find out in this first impression. Note, that I got a press copy of the game but the developers requested that I give 100% my opinion on this game. This game is also in early access and under very active development. Every week this game gets a patch. This review is written on v0.7.4.5 & v0.7.7 so any complaints or suggestions might be invalid later in time. So, let’s go to FORT TRIUMPH

How to move?

20180527221800_1.jpg

In this game, you play as Liandra Pageturner (or whatever random name the generator decides to spit out) and her crew of various warriors. You start out in a prologue where you learn the basics after talking to your horse. I adore the names in this game of the characters. It fits the funny writing of this game really well. While this game isn’t “LMFAO”-funny, it can crack you up from time to time and makes you put a smile on your face.

It’s a story where things aren’t taken too seriously. Which is quite surprising for this gameplay-style, since they mostly have very in-depth stories. It’s a breath of fresh air actually. A suggestion for the future development is that, in the final version of this game, you give also prologue chapters to each other character. This fleshes them out a bit more and gives the player the chance to get used to other playstyles each character brings.

So far, I have only played a few missions of the first campaign and I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I can’t wait to see where the story is going to take us. Storywise, they don’t need to make any improvements. The way it’s getting developed it perfect. Like I said earlier, a bit more introduction to the other characters would be neat.

I already mentioned this in my introduction, but this game is in early access. So, I can criticize it for bugs like freezing when you alt+tab out of the game during dialogues. These things get patched out since the developer is very active on the forums and listing to feedback from their players. It’s always a joy to see what will be changed after the next update. There is currently a built-in bug reporting tool which is extremely handy.

Now, this is a tactical combat game. At this point in time, I really think that it’s a good idea that you mention everything you think to the developers. Like, when the enemies almost never miss an attack and you seem to miss your long-range attacks all the time. There is a lot of polishing work that needs to be done. This game has a lot of potential but needs user input and playtesting.

Polishing with a cloth

fort truimph 2.jpg

This game currently has 1 and a half campaigns. In the first “campaign” you get mostly introduced the basic mechanics of the game. The only issue I have is that most of this tutorial focuses on two characters. And not on the 4 characters you have at your disposal in chapter 1.

In the first chapter, the difficulty curve is a bit, wack. At this moment in time, the game isn’t that balanced. I’m quite certain that in the future, this game will be more polished and we might get difficulty settings.

Now, before I continue, it might look like I’ll be bashing the game left and right. That I’m finding negatives all over the place. But, keep in mind that this game is still under development. There is a lot here already, the only thing the developers now need to do is to polish the game up in something quite unique. I’m not hating on the game, nor am I saying it’s a bad game. With that said, let’s move on.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I really like the art style of this game. The levels you visit are detailed and the animation is amazing. I really like how long-distance shots give you a zoom in on the action as if you were watching an action movie. Maybe it’s a good idea to disable those to give the game more fighting power on older hardware?

The UI of this game needs some polishing. Things I would love to see is, in what order you are going to move your units and the enemy units are going to move like in Stella Glow. Also, I would love to see where you could move with your character. You do see the boundaries, yes. But, I would love to see a visual representation on the ground how far you can go.

Besides that, I would love to have a sort of mini-map. And on that mini-map, you would see where certain protective places are and maybe easier see if you are in the enemy’s line of sight.

The biggest issue with the UI right now is the level up system. It works just fine, don’t get me wrong. The issue with it is, that it doesn’t jump directly in the eye. I didn’t always notice that I couldn’t continue since one of my units leveled up. Maybe a sound effect and a bit more visual flair would be great.

Now, I’m not going to review the mechanics too much in-depth since they are subject to change. For example, the leveling up system gives you two random choices of new abilities. This makes leveling up unique and interesting. But, the stats don’t increase nearly as much. I barely notice any change in stats apart from a very tiny bit of additional health.

At the moment of writing, I really don’t like the difficulty curve in this game. I’m not saying that the game is too hard. I’m saying that this game gets way to hard, way to fast. For example, some enemies drop healing items, but you can’t store them.

In addition to that, you can’t save during missions. You will lose progress. This is something I wish they changed. Now, I could possibly rant about this, but the changelog said: “added basic save game information”. So, here is my hoping they will expand this feature. 🙂

Randomised subtitle.

ss_aba24c18a952dd40a0a71ce497b2aa8f3df0bf13.1920x1080.jpg

Now, I know that this game isn’t the easiest one around. And honestly, besides some tweaks, I don’t mind it at all. Stella Glow was also pretty difficult and I loved the challenge in that game.

After I got used to the controls in this game, I was trying different strategies and replaying missions in the hope I was able to beat it this time. This game is a lot of fun to play and should be played in longer sessions. In addition to the music, this game’s atmosphere is a joy to see. The sound effects are really well done too. There should be a bit more, for example, some grunts and moans during conversations would be pretty welcome.

Speaking about the controls, I really have to get used to them. The big issue is that I played more of my tactical RPG’s on the Nintendo (3)DS and those use a completely different control scheme.

Something I would love to see is a rebind option for the camera controls. Yes, you can control the camera to see the amazing detailed world from various different angles. Now, the controls don’t recognize AZERTY as AZERTY but as QWERTY. And in the version I played, there were no options to rebind them.

So, it’s quite clear that this game needs a lot of polishing work and besides that, more content. At this moment there is only one chapter, besides the tutorial. The game has a lot of potential but needs play-testers. Please, I urge you to go and take a look at the Steam store page and if that interests you, go ahead and buy it and give it a try.

The game didn’t disappoint me at all. It made me think about things to help improve this game and drew me into its world. I can’t wait to play more in the future and see where the developers will take the game.

You have two options if you enjoy TRPG’s. You either play the game and give feedback to help the game grow. Or you either wait until the game goes out of early access and play it then. Don’t let the cartoony graphics fool you. This game is good and it’s cheap, only 20€.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. When this game is in a more complete state, I’ll take another look at this but for now: thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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

castlevania portrait of ruin

Wikipedia entry

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

No Stars For Mario

castleruinrev4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Charlotte” – “Jonathan”

tumblr_inline_nlekqyfoxY1rspbo8_400

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The castle and such

castlevaniaaa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Repentant (PC) ~ Has the Little Kite flown?

repentant_title.pngOfficial website

For those who remember Little Kite, I have talked about last year in December, I have some interesting news for you. The developer Anate Studio contacted me to announce the sequel called Repentant! Or is it a sequel? Let’s look at what’s released so far. As usual, feel free to give your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Information for the developer

It’s dramatic point & click adventure about a man who is trying to atone for the sins of the past.

The story in this game shows the events that took place after seven years after the events of the game Little Kite. The main character, Oliver, survived but suffers from pangs of conscience because of his behavior in the past. This led to the fact that his family left him and because he is obliged to continue criminal activities. But soon, he gets a chance to atone for his sins by helping another person.

Everything will occur in a small store with three characters. Oliver is a man who has a dark past. A shopkeeper decides to rob his own store, together with the help of a girl. This decision was made thanks to severe life circumstance.

Despite the characters and references to the previous game, this game can be played and enjoyed even if you haven’t played Little Kite.

The game will be available for Windows and Mac.

Video with gameplay demo:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ2xPO78kx4&t=5s

Stay tuned for news of developing progress

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anatestudio/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/anatestudio

Developers site: www.anatestudio.net

Personal thoughts

I really enjoyed playing Little Kite. Because, some parts of the story stuck with me personally. So, when a mail arrived from the developer in my inbox talking about a new game and a possible sequel to that game, you can say that a hype train left the station for me.

Looking at the screenshots and gameplay demo, a few things can be concluded. In terms of art-style, atmosphere and gameplay, nothing much is going to be changed. And that’s a good thing! Visually, this game looks amazing and I’m a big fan of the style. It reminds me about games like Hotel Dusk and older Broken Sword games.

Gameplay-wise, it looks like this is going to be a point-and-click game. Why change a working formula? The previous game in the series was also a point-and-click adventure game and a highly enjoyable at that.

While you might notice some typo’s here and there in the preview video, I’m not too worried about that. Since, the developer said that the video only has a draft version of the text and the proofreading will happen later in development.

In terms of the story, I’m quite interested. I’m honestly expecting a story where betrayal and a mystery will be the central focus of the game. While the game will take place in one place, I’m curious to see how this place is used. There is a lot that can be done with only a few rooms, that fact is proven by all the “escape the room” games that exist.

Watching the preview video, I am even more hyped to play this game. I really like details like the names of the places showing up when you go from screen to screen. This makes it a lot easier to navigate in a point-and-click game.

The only thing I didn’t really like in the preview video was one minor thing. The looping of the sound-effects inside the store with not smooth enough. If you pay attention, you can hear when the sound effect starts and when it stops. That’s all.

Real talk now for a moment, the developer is planning to possibly release this game upcoming spring. If you can create an adventure game in a year with at this quality, I have a lot of respect for the developers. Creating games isn’t easy and I really hope this game succeeded. I can’t wait to see more from this game and I can’t wait either to play it. So, if you are as interested as I’m in this game, I urge you to follow the developer on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. Thank you so much for reading 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, take care and have a great rest of your day!

First Impression: Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) ~ A Coocking Guild?

EO2U.jpg

Wiki entry

This year I went on various trips. One day, I went to Brugge. When I was walking in the shopping streets, I went into a game store and saw this game there for like 10€ second hand. Because I enjoyed Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories, I wanted to know how the sequel was like. I know that I haven’t finished the original, but I have gotten quite far. More Etrian Odyssey in my collection. In any case, I think it’s time that I talk about this game since I have put in quite some hours into it. If I may believe the activity log of my 3DS, I have put in 40 hours into this game. That’s a lot for me. So, why did I put in so many hours? Let me explain. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Side note: This game is a remake of Etrian Odyssey II for the Nintendo DS.

A Cooking Guild? 

EO2UScreen02.jpgSo, this game is a prequel to the first Untold game. You play as the Fafnir Knight, who is nameless since you decide the name for the character. On your journey, you meet up with 4 other adventurers by the name of Flavio, Arianna, Bertrand, and Chloe.

Your main objective is guiding Arianna through Ginnungagap to complete a ritual. You aren’t exactly told what the ritual is and what it means, but the further you get in the story, the more you uncover.

Each character has his or her motives to join you and be in the group. While they all fit a stereotype; the player character is the overpowered character, Arianna is the scatterbrained klutz, Bertrand is the warrior with a past he doesn’t want to reveal… The mixture of all these stereotypes makes for a great party. The writing and personality of the story are really good.

The voice acting is also pretty good. Something that surprised me is that shopkeepers start to have a small conversation with your characters if you want long enough. I actually discovered that while the game was open and I was writing this article. The conversations can be really funny and fit the personalities of the characters as a glove.

The story is keeping me on the edge of my seat. Yet, I do wish there was some log of the things that happened or what you are supposed to do next. Since there were a few times I didn’t play this game for a while and just started exploring randomly.

While you can get a vague idea by looking at the active missions and quests, I feel there should have been a location where you could ask what to do next. Even when you have downtime and you are free to do whatever you want since the next story quest requires your party to be a bit stronger.

In any case, in this game, your Guild Hall is something quite special. You operate from a restaurant. A game mechanic I really adore in this game is that the different items you find in while exploring the labyrinth all contribute to the restaurant.

And this restaurant is extremely important in your game. Regina, the cook of this restaurant, found an old recipe book from an old chef, who passed away. This chef was one of the greatest in the kingdom and Regina wants to recreate as many dishes as she can. Now, the recipe book is written in a cryptic way, so you have to read item descriptions to figure out which ingredient you need to develop the dish.

Besides that, you can let Regina cook a dish to give your party a certain buff before you go inside the labyrinth. This can be extremely helpful to when you are gearing up for an extremely tricky boss fight or when you need a certain boost to defeat some tricky enemies.

But wait, the importance of the restaurant doesn’t stop there. You can also develop the town, which will make the shops sell better items. So, you need to make sure that your restaurant is stocked up so you can create the right dish for the right area. Also, you can invest money in the town…

I think you get the idea. There is a lot of depth when it comes to the restaurant. It’s a very addictive balancing act to know which items you should sell to the stores to be able to buy certain items and which items you need to keep to have the ingredients for the restaurant.

The Fafnir Knight

EO2U-Euro-AnnBesides the great depth you have in the restaurant, the general town provides you with stores and various important locations. You can spend hours managing your party and upgrade it. Looking for the right items and the right builds for your party is extremely important. Be sure that you make your builds carefully and that you stock up on enough items before you go exploring the labyrinth.

Since this game can be quite unforgiving in the labyrinth. Expect when you play on the picnic difficulty. When you play on Picnic difficulty, you don’t get a game over when your party is wiped out. You just get kicked out of the labyrinth. Also, some items won’t deplete so you have a come casual experience with the game.

On standard, you get a pretty challenging game that is more fit for gamers who are into RPG and Dungeon Crawlers. You do get once chance to restart when your party is wiped out.

On expert mode, well, the game gets even more difficult and the game describes this mode as “for the real masters of Etrian Odyssey, or masochists”.

The difficult has barely any influence on the game, apart from you being unable to earn in the picnic difficulty. Also, you can change the difficulty at any time while you are in the town. You can’t change the difficulty while you are exploring in the labyrinth.

etrain fafnir map

The goal of exploring the labyrinth is to get as far into the labyrinth as you can. The further you get into the labyrinth, the more difficult the monsters get. Every 5 floors have a certain theme and on the 5th floor, there is a final boss that tests your abilities. This boss also fits the theme of the area extremely well. So, try to learn from the behavior of the enemies and their weaknesses.

So, this isn’t just your typical dungeon crawler. There is a reason why this game is on the DS. That is because it has two screens and a touchscreen. You see the dungeon itself on the upper screen and you have a map screen at the bottom. The catch is, with the Etrian Odyssey series, that you have to draw the whole map yourself.

You can do this in a lot of ways, but I have my own style. For example, I draw walls where I’m unable to pass. So, if there is a column in the middle of the room, well, I draw walls on that square on the map. I have seen others use another color for those spots.

Anyways, before I go on a whole ramble about how I make the maps in the Etrian Odyssey series, I do have to say that this is the mechanic I love the most in this game. A good map is important to your survival since some strong monsters are running around in the labyrinth and if you draw everything, you can also find escape routes and shortcuts more easily.

These things can help a lot with finishing quests and missions pretty easily. The side quests are a lot of fun to do and you can find them in various buildings in the town. I highly recommend that you do them since they can help you sharpen your skills and find out something you didn’t know about the labyrinth.

Exploring to explore

etrian2fafnir_03I have to admit that sometimes I just started walking around in the labyrinth because I just had so much fun. My goal was just to wander around, fight enemies and check if I found everything on my map.

When you fully explored a floor, you are able to quick travel to that floor if you place a stairway on the map. But, these things get explained while you are playing the game.

The game doesn’t work with random encounters. You are on the “clock” so to say. I’m not talking about the day and night system present in the game, but after a certain amount of steps, you encounter an enemy. But be careful! There are big boss monsters running around in the labyrinth too. When you have an enemy encounter close to such a boss monster and it notices your party, it can enter the fight as an additional enemy to make your current fight became a bit more difficult.

Speaking of fighting, each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. So, make sure that you use that to your advantage. Also, use the points you get from leveling up your character to your advantage. Since you don’t learn new skills by leveling up, you have to distribute points. Be careful how you distribute them since they matter and you can’t undo them easily.

I can talk for a while longer about the gameplay of this game, but I will say this to wrap it up. This game has a lot of depth and has so much to manage that it can become overbearing. Knowing which enemies are weak against what is a challenge and a half to remember. That’s why I’m so thankful that the characters actually give hints before a battle starts.

Because this is such an expansive game, you expect the controls to be flawless. Well, there is something I think could be improved in the drawing controls. It’s something I had a lot of trouble with in previous Etrian Odyssey games as well. That is the fact that removing placed icons is a hassle. It’s very tricky to move icons once they are placed.

Overall, the controls of this game are pretty good. Every button is used to its fullest. The UI is also great to use. There is something I think they can improve when it comes to the UI and that is a search option in the Monstrous Codex and the Item Compendium and make those list sortable. That would have been such a great help.

The visual presentation is a feast for the eyes. When I’m playing this game I sometimes just stop and look around with the circle pad to take in the gorgeous artwork and the detailed environments. The theming of this game is pretty well done. On the jungle floors, you get various patches of patches of grass filled with thorns. On the winter floors, you have a lot of the area that there are icy spots you have to slide and you can’t suddenly take a turn then.

The animations in this game are pretty decent. You can compare the style of animations in this game with a Pokémon game. It’s a similar concept. Most of the animations are present during the battles. I wish that the characters inside the towns were a bit more animated while they speak since now they are extremely pretty 2D characters.

All of this is topped off with an amazing soundtrack, a soundtrack I’m actually interested in buying it. I really enjoy listing to the soundtrack of this game that much. Together with the sound design of this game, I think you have a feast for the ears too. One of my favorite tracks in the game is “Bloody Fight – Betting it All”. It’s such a great track when you are fighting those bosses.

This game is a blast to play. If you are into RPG’s and/or Dungeon Crawlers, it would be a shame if you don’t play any of the Etrian Odyssey games. If you want to enjoy this game and don’t want to be afraid that this game is too difficult, play on the picnic difficulty.

This game can be extremely challenging if you don’t build up your party the right way. If you don’t use your upgrade points wisely, if you give bad items to characters, don’t use boosts or grimoire stones… If you want a challenge, don’t use a guide for this game. Otherwise, I think it’s perfectly fine to use a guide to help in on your quest.

I love the Etrian Odyssey series and I can’t wait to finish this game. I can recommend it to everyone who is looking for a game they can sink hours upon hours into and a game that challenges your skills as a gamer and an RPG/Dungeon Crawler fan.

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