First Impression: Abyss of the Sacrifice (Switch) ~ Puzzlerooms To Sacrifice

Age warning: This game is 16+.

Wikipedia entryNintendo.com microsite

I might be a day late for Halloween, but today on the day after, I still want to talk about a somewhat horror related game. As regular readers of my blog know, I’m an avid fan of the Zero Escape trilogy. So, when I saw this game pop up on the Nintendo Switch eShop, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I had to give it a try. I enjoyed my time with it that much, that it even slipped in my top 10 games of 2020. Why did I give this game a spot there? Well, let me explain why, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of this article.

Puzzlerooms to sacrifice

This game follows the story of 5 girls who are left in the “Foundation”. This is a strange place underground that has been built for some reason that everybody has forgotten. It doesn’t take long before our 5 heroines meet each other and strange things like earthquakes start happening. And let’s not forget, since everybody is gone from the Foundation, food and water supplies are getting more difficult to come by every day.

I don’t want to talk much about the story, since it hinges on its mystery quite a lot. It’s that sort of story where you are left in the dark about everything right from the start, but the further you go in the story the more gets explained. I do highly recommend playing this game without a break like I did. I had to restart my playthrough since I completely forgot what was going on, and I got confused.

Something that took me by surprise is the fact that this game is fully voice acted, in Japanese. Now, this makes my job of reviewing this game a bit more difficult. I barely know any Japanese, so take what I’m going to say next with a grain of salt. But, I feel that the voice acting is pretty good. I really felt the emotional performance of the voice actors and I feel they did an amazing job.

Something I really did like is how there are some cliché characters, like your doctors’ girl and the patient that went in and out of hospitals but the interaction and the backstory of these characters is handled in such a unique way, it feels quite fresh and unique. The story itself is getting quite interesting at the moment where I’m at, and I’m so glad I choose the Switch version over the Steam version since now I can take it with me on the train from and to work.

Visually, the game looks amazing. The artwork really immersed me into the world and the story. Together with the great music and sound design, I really felt like I was exploring a mystery in the Foundation. Sometimes, an important item blended into the scenery, but it gave off a small sparkle, so you didn’t have to go pixel hunting.

I really like the hint system in this game. At any time, without a penalty, you can in the menu to the “Hint” system, and you can look at the hints. Only the hints that help you to get further in the puzzle are unlocked. The ones you need later in the puzzle aren’t accessible and not even shown. The minor negative you could say that this system brings is that it somewhat spoils the length of the room, but that’s a minor thing in my opinion.

You can play this game out of order. So, each time you finish a chapter, you unlock the next entries of the story of each girl. You can play them in any order you like. To avoid getting even more confused about what’s going on, I played them somewhat in order. But, it’s a great thing that if you get stuck on one puzzle, you can stop it and go to another girl to try on that puzzle later. And believe you me, the puzzles can get quite challenging. I even had to get out a pen and paper for several puzzles to solve it.

The controls and the UI of this game is something to be praised. The only minor negative thing is that there is no real autosave, but you can save easily at any time in an overload of save slots. The amount of options is a good to have, so that way you can adjust your experience to your liking. And the easy to learn controls are shown in the options menu in case that you forgot one or two buttons.

Escape is not needed

Sadly enough, this game does have some flaws. In terms of variation, this game doesn’t have a lot of it. This game is a visual novel with some escape the room elements thrown in. But, there are some things that the visual novel sections don’t do all to well. First, the contrast of the text with the background isn’t always the best. I sometimes had trouble reading the text. Thankfully, my English is pretty decent, and I can make out the words, but I can image that it’s going to be quite annoying for people who aren’t so good at English.

Something else that really bothered me is the fact that it’s sometimes a bit unclear who is talking to who in the dialogue sections. There is no real “speaking” animation. That’s a shame, since I’m that kind of person who has a hard time remembering names. I was so glad that in World’s End Club, you had that overview screen with the names and abilities. Even in the backlog it’s unclear who is talking.

Speaking of which, when I looked into the backlog of this game… I found some strange things in the writing. This game sometimes jumps from 1st person to 3rd person writing. A great example where you can get easily confused is this one:

Suddenly, she felt a sharp tug on her arm.

"Huh?"

I didn't fall....?

As she blinked in disbelief, a voice called out above her.

That’s exactly how it appears in the game. If only a different styling was used for thoughts OR keep writing in either 1st or 3rd person, this could have improved the writing.

There were some moments of frustration as well during the puzzle segments. For example, in one room, I had to pick up a robot from the cleaning station but the area I could click to pick it up was almost completely overlapped by the “Exit screen” UI. So, be really precise with your clicks or otherwise, you’ll be stuck while you have the correct solution. Thankfully, if you find the joystick movement controls a bit too fast like me, you can use the D-pad to solve that issue.

Sadly enough, some puzzles are a bit too tricky for my liking. Even with the hint system. One time I got stuck because I tried to combine item A with B, and it didn’t work… The solution was combining item B with A. Which brings me to talk about the interface you use to combine items. This interface is a mess in my opinion. It could have been designed a lot better, since if it wasn’t explained in the tutorial section… I would have forgotten how to use it and that it was even a mechanic.

You might have noticed that I didn’t talk about the animations in the visuals’ section of this review. That’s because, there was so much more that could have been done with the animations. I really felt that the game was a bit too static and comic-book like. There could have been so much more life into the game with a bit more animations. And in some cases, I had the impression that the animations lagged while the game was anything but lagging. But, I think it’s high time to get into the conclusion of this article before I start lagging myself and go rambling.

Conclusion

This game is the perfect example of getting pretty close to greatness but missing the mark. This game has so much going for it. The amazing artstyle, the music, the concept, the atmosphere… I don’t regret my decision to include this game in my top 10 games of 2020.

Yet, this game lacks some polish which is a real shame. Since, I can truly see some people skipping this game because of it. It even makes it a bit difficult for me to recommend this game.

When I saw the scores that other reviewers were giving for this game, I was a bit annoyed. I felt that this game was getting too low scores for what’s offered here. This game tells a great story of 5 girls trying to survive and trying to figure out what happened to the world. But some technical issues hold it back. Some can be solved with a patch like the issues with the script and such, but others like the animations… That is going to need either a big patch or a remake.

But, if you enjoy games like the Zero Escape games or Corpse Party, I would say… Check out this game. Give it a chance. But, know that this game has some flaws and you best play it without too long of a break to fully enjoy this game. I personally think that this game is totally worth your time, maybe on sale. And as soon as you get use to the quirks, the negatives aren’t too bad. So, this review is luke warm, but warm enough to recommend it with caution.

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

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NekoJonez’s Favorite Gaming Music #26 – I can’t choose!

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Last time in this series, I actually was on a podcast with Alexander Sigworth. Now, after 25 articles talking about my favorite music in games, I still can’t decide which tracks are my favorite and which ones are the best. In any case, I think it’s quite clear that this series is mostly about the music in games that I enjoy quite a lot at the time of writing. For those who haven’t read an article of this series before, let me quickly explain the idea. In this series, I talk about a track from a game or I use a track from a game to talk about the game without having to write a full article about it (for now). I limit myself to one track per franchise per article and I try my best to avoid repeat tracks. Also, unless stated at the start of the article, I only pick original tracks and not remixes. Those are for special articles. And per usual, I invite you to leave a comment with your opinion on the tracks chosen and/or the content of this article and/or your favorite gaming tracks. Let’s go.

Etrian Odyssey Untold – The Millennium Girl (3DS) ~ Decisive Battle – End of the World

SoulFinalFirst impression of the game

So, because I want to talk about as many games as possible on my blog and I try to write weekly articles, I don’t always finish the games I play. This is quite annoying since sometimes I enjoy playing a certain game quite a lot.

Now recently, I started to tackle my backlog bit by bit while also trying to play other games to be able to talk about on my blog. On top of that, I still have a day job and have other hobby’s.

In any case, today I can proudly say that I have beaten my first Etrian Odyssey game. Well, I have beaten this game in late February but hey. After beating this game, I fell into a sort of “post-game depression”. Yeah, I wish I hadn’t beaten the game since I enjoyed it quite a lot. Thankfully, there is still some post-game content and I haven’t done all the quests. So, I still have some playtime left. But, what a journey it was. And what amazing music was created for the final battle which I have selected for this article. Man, I’m glad that I discovered this series since I can’t wait to see what the other games have to offer. Maybe I should finish all the other Etrian Odyssey games I have finished…

Nightmare Reaper (PC) ~ Boss Theme

nightmare reaperMy article about the game

Andrew Hulshult, you mad lad. There are a lot of retro game shooters coming out and when I see that Andrew Hulshult created the music for it, I get hyped right away. The music by itself sounds amazing and melodic but listening to it while playing the game, it fits the atmosphere like a glove.

The music was one of the reasons why I had chosen this game to be my favorite game of 2020. Currently, the 3rd chapter is in development and various teasers have been shown on Twitter by the developer. They look amazing and I can’t wait to play more. Today I was finally able to beat the second chapter after failing a certain boss battle over and over again. I also started the 2nd playthrough and I have to say that I really feel different from my original playthrough.

I’m nearing 50 hours of playtime in this game and I’m under the impression that this number will only grow once the third chapter has been released. And also, I’m trying to get as many of the achievements as possible. So, that will also increase the number of hours I play this game. Hehehe.

Pokémon X/Y (3DS) ~ Dendemille Town

Pokemon_XYMy review of the game

During my prep for the Pokémon Collector’s Catch-collab, I played a lot of Pokémon. This shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Now, when I read the article that TriformTrinity did on Pokémon X and Y, I dug up my copy of the game and I noticed that a while ago, I started a new save file and I hadn’t finished the game on that one.

So, that’s one of the things I’m currently doing. Playing through Pokémon X/Y again. And honestly, I forgot how enjoyable things are in that game. I got various nostalgic memories while playing that game.

Something strange I noticed is that when I listen to some parts of the soundtrack from this game, for some reason I can’t tell if it’s a track from this game or from Pokémon Sword & Shield. Is this just me or am I hearing things? They have a similar vibe in my opinion. But on the other hand, that shouldn’t be too crazy since this generation is based in France and Pokémon Sword and Shield is based in the UK. France and the UK are neighbors of each other… So, yeah.

Touhou – Luna Nights (Switch) ~ Stage 3 Boss – Locked Girl

The Metroidvania genre is one of my favorite genres. I just love exploring a world where slowly get stronger, unlock new abilities, and go on a great adventure. Usually, Touhou is a sort of shoot ’em up kind of game but this time, it’s a Metroidvania. 

So, this game got released in late December of 2020. After seeing the trailer, I bought the game. Now, since I have this rule in my top 10 games of the year list where I can only select games I started in that year, I waited until 2021 started before I started playing this game. Just in case that if I enjoy this game quite a lot, that I would be unable to choose it in my top 10 games of 2021. 

And I’m so glad I did. The unique mechanics and abilities in this game give a breath of fresh air to the formula and of course, the difficulty spikes you find in every Touhou game are here too. Now, I’m holding a lot of my opinions on the game back since I want to write a full-length article about this game but for now, I want to introduce you to the soundtrack of the game. I’ll say this about it, there is a reason why it sometimes plays on repeat while I’m working or doing chores. 

Wrapping up

So, these are 4 tracks that can be added to the ever-growing list of my favorite game music tracks. After writing these articles, I always check my schedule on the games I’m going to write about. More often than not, I change the schedule around to talk about the games I have mentioned in these articles. 

I really should start creating playlists and share them in this series since I really think that these playlists would make me skip fewer and fewer tracks while I’m working. But hey, maybe I shouldn’t start so many projects while I have so many others running. 

Personal things aside, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have you played any of these games and if yes, what did you think of them? But for now, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you to another one. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

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