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Review: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) ~ Let’s Play A Ghostly Game, Shall We?

Official Nintendo subsite

I have to admit that this year was an extremely crazy year in terms of games for me. So many amazing games have been released and still have to release. When I reviewed Death Mark last year, I was extremely hyped when I learned that a sequel was in development called NG. It was extremely difficult to find even a shred of information about this game since the abbreviation NG stands for various things like a name to companies. In any case, I didn’t have high hopes that this game was coming to the west. Image my surprise when I saw this game in the “Coming Soon” section of the Nintendo Switch eShop. I patiently waited until the release date and when the release date came, I bought it during my break and let it download while I was at work so I could play it right away when I came home. Now, was it worth it? Is this game as good as the previous game or should you skip this game? Let’s take a look at this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s play a Ghostly Game, shall we?

This game is the 2nd game in the Spirit Hunter series. The first game was Death Mark. This game isn’t a sequel of that game nor is it a continuation. This game just takes the whole gameplay concept and puts it into a new story and setting.

The story of this game is quite interesting. You play as the protagonist, that you can name yourself. His mother died a few years prior to this game and now he is living alone. His aunt took him in. She is a horror novel author and she runs a bar on the side. Her daughter became quite good friends with the protagonist. One evening, the protagonist finds a black postcard at his doorstep inviting him to play a game with a Princess. He simply ignores this because he thinks that it’s a simple prank.

But, that’s a mistake he is going to regret since not too long after he encounters his first ghost. After that, a ghost kidnaps his cousin and invites him to play a game. If he doesn’t play along, the curse will kill him.

Now, if you have played Death Mark, the curse works quite similar to the Death Mark of the original game. This curse is a sort of time limit in which you have to solve the case of the spirit you have to defeat or purify. Unlike the previous game, the protagonist doesn’t have one evening to deal with the spirit, but he has a bit more time.

While I would love to tell you more about the story of this game, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Since the story is that more enjoyable the less you know in advance. The twists and turns of the story are just amazing. The writing, the jokes, the pacing, the horror… everything comes together quite nicely in this game and I’m bumped out that I have finished this game.

There are some mechanics in this game that even give some replay value to this game. Now that I have finished this game, I want to replay this game and take it in a totally different direction to see where I end up.

This game has some minor Japanese voice acting as well. This isn’t overused at all and it’s used to add some punch to certain dialogues. The voice acting itself is done quite well, the voice acting of the ghosts are personally my favorites. The creepy effects and distortion the developers added to the voice acting is just amazing.

The slider of spooks

An extremely nice feature is the different modes you can play the game in. Like Death Mark, this game contains some jump scares and spooks. They are extremely well crafted and in most cases fit the story nicely. Also, they trigger when you investigate certain sections so it’s quite possible to miss multiple spooks. Some spooks mess with the text or the screen instead of a ghost popping up.

These different modes affect the amount of jump scares and spooks that happen. When you dislike these spooks or jumps scares, you can tone them down and even turn them off completely. I played through this game with all the jump scares intact and I have to say that it added quite a lot to the atmosphere of this game.

The atmosphere is quite creepy, to begin with. The writing draws you into the game and the amazing artwork and illustrations make the world come alive. There isn’t a lot in terms of animations but the beautiful artwork more than makes up for it. For example, the artwork of some death scenes is just extremely well done.

The character portraits, the design of the spirits, the design of the environments… It’s clear that quite a lot of thought and detail has been put into it. I’m quite thankful that the developers added a button to hid the on-screen UI to take screenshots of those amazing scenes to make them even more memorable.

Something that I find a tad bit irritating was the decision to make the “L” button the skip dialogue option. I think that another button like one of the arrow keys on the D-pad would have worked better. Since I can’t count on my two hands anymore the number of times I accidentally pressed the button and skipped a bit of the text. Thankfully, there is an easy way to bring up the log and you can re-read what you skipped.

Everything goes in that log that appears on the screen. From you trying to use an item to decisions you have to make. For some reason, I wasn’t always able to bring up this log easily. In most cases when the log refused to open, I was trying to investigate something. So, quickly going out of investigation mode was the solution.

Speaking of this mode, this is the only mode that allows you to save your game. You are unable to access the save menu while in a dialogue section. Thankfully, the dialogues aren’t Corpse Party Blood Drive long, so an investigation section can be right up the corner.

One thing that I found a real shame is some minor bugs in the UI of the options menu. In one option, the text overflows its checkbox and in another option, they forgot to remove a character at the end of the description. These are minor mistakes that can easily be patched out.

Gameplay-wise, this game is quite addictive. You have to explore the different area’s to either purify or destroy the spirit haunting the place. In order to do this, you explore at night with a partner and search for different subsections of this area.

You explore parts of a town, an office building, and various other locations. You search these locations for clues and items to learn more about the spirit and try and defeat/purify them. The better you explore and investigate the area, the more information you have in the fight with the spirit. If you have played Death Mark, you will feel right at home since it looks quite similar.

I found the gameplay of this game quite addictive. I wanted to keep playing and experience the story to it’s a full conclusion. And yes, now that I have beaten the game, I’m considering playing through the whole game again and trying to take a different route to see where it leads me. I know that this game has multiple endings, but I would love to see how much endings there are.

One extremely welcome improvement over Death Mark I have to mention is that when you want to swap partners, you can do that more easily now. You don’t have to go the whole way back to the mansion, you can easily go to the start of the place you are searching and ask the person directly.

Think quick!

There are some more things to do in this game compared to Death Mark. The items you choose still decide the outcome of purification of the spirit of destruction, but there are more things that matter now. Speaking about that in more detail would spoil certain story sections.

The whole spirit fighting mechanic has been reworked. Now, you don’t have to combine items anymore to attack the spirit, but you have to use your items in the area and analyze the situation. I love these spirits fights a whole lot more compared to Death Mark. The improvements these fights bring to the table are just amazing. It brings a bit more challenge to the table.

On top of that, there are now 2 styles of quick decision-making sections. Both work extremely similar and have the same outcome when you fail. A Game Over. One of these styles is a crisis choice, as you can see in the screenshot in this section of the article. Like Death Mark, the “1000” ticks down as soon as you are able to make a selection. Unlike Death Mark, you can’t find charms to increase this time and it also resets back to 100 each and every time you encounter that section.

Now, this game is quite lengthy. To beat the game, you will need to put give or take 20 hours aside. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that this game is somewhat replayable due to the “emotional reaction system”. Now, you can react with different emotions in certain sections. I have no idea if this makes a difference to the story. But, I have tried it one and it makes the characters react quite differently.

Something that does matter is during some sections you have to make harsh decisions that affect the story to a big degree. I wish I could talk about them, but that would spoil the big parts of the story and that’s something I’m trying to avoid in this review.

Another interesting game mechanic is the “D-Man”. This strange man texts you riddles that you can solve to find cards. These cards contain throwbacks to the previous game or add to the lore of the game. These are a joy to read but contain some spoilers of the previous game. Thankfully, only about the DLC bonus case, so it isn’t THAT bad. Now, the search for these cards works in a very unique way. As soon as you get the text, you have to look around in the area you are in. As soon as you exit the area, you will be unable to search for that card again. You’ll also lose the items you obtained and needed to find the said card. So, be careful.

An easy question to ask is, how difficult is this game? Well, this game is tricky. There are some sections that took me several attempts. In most cases, it was because I overlooked one item or didn’t check my area thoroughly enough. Thankfully, the game is quite forgiving with checkpoints and when you fail a crisis choice or spirit encounter, you can easily restart the whole fight by selecting the wanted option in the “Game Over” menu.

One of the biggest mistakes in this game is the save system in my opinion. I feel that it’s a downgrade compared to the system of Death Mark. There is no autosave, there are fewer save slots and there is less information on the save/load screen compared to the previous game. This is something I wish that will be improved in the possible sequel. Yes, a sequel has been sort of announced/confirmed. You can read more information on the article that Gematsu published a month ago.

The controls of this game are quite simple. They are easy to grasp and master. The only minor thing is that in some areas the spotlight isn’t bright enough to see where the spotlight is on the background art. Thankfully, this happens in only a few places, so it isn’t THAT bad.

Something I’m a bit mixed about is that this game doesn’t have a lot of music. Most of the music is also re-used from the previous game or sounds extremely similar. The music is amazing in this game and I wish I able to buy the soundtrack somewhere. Since I want to add this soundtrack to my music library when I’m relaxing or writing other articles.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I have left out a few things so they can be surprised at you when you play this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article, don’t you think?

Conclusion

The bad:
-Some minor UI elements that could easily be fixed.

-The save feature could have been expanded quite a bit.
The good:

+ Amazing writing and story.

+ Great visuals.

+ The ability to disable the jump scares if you dislike them.

+ Great challenging puzzles

+ ….
Final thoughts:
This game is quite an improvement over Death Mark. Last year, Death Mark was one of my favorite games of 2018. This game is one of my favorite games of this year. This game is the perfect game to play during Halloween. I can’t recommend this game enough for fans of Death Mark, fans of horror games and fans of visual novels. I would even recommend this game to fans of adventure games.

This game is one of the best visual novels I have played in a while. And it’s up to high competition like Ai: Somnium Files. This will be quite interesting in my “Top 10 Games of 2019”. Take it from me, give this game a try. Because it’s totally worth playing and experiencing this game.

Of course, this game has some shortcomings like the bare bones save system and some minor annoyances with the controls but these are easily overlooked and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game too much or even at all.

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

Score: 100/100

First Impressions: AI – The Somnium Files (Switch) ~ Kotaro Uchikoshi Is At It Again.

Official website

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One of my favorite horror series is the Zero Escape series. I have reviewed every game here on my blog. I have played through all of these games again this year since I introduced the series to my girlfriend. When I’m reviewing adventure games or visual novels, I often find myself referencing 999, Virtue’s Last Reward or Zero Time Dilemma. Now, sadly enough this trilogy of games has ended with Zero Time Dilemma. Now, last month I learned that the director and main writer of the series were finishing development on a new game. Ai: The Somnium Files. When I saw Kotaro Uchikoshi’s name in the promotion material, I got extremely hyped. I honestly pre-ordered the game right away. Now, do I regret that pre-order or was it worth it? I’m going to give you an answer to that question in the form of this first impression review of the game. And before I start, I always say: feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game itself.

Date and Aiba

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In this game, you play as special agent Date who is investigating a gruesome murder. Now, this is unlike any detective game because Date has a special ability. His left eye is quite special. In this left eye, an AI lives. This AI is called Aiba and helps Date to make phone calls, access databases, x-ray vision, zooming and so much more. On top of that, Date can explore people’s somnium, which is created by their dreams. These dreams can help in the investigation whenever you need to get information out of a witness that refuses to give testimony.

The story is quite complex and takes a lot of twists and turns. Like the previous games that Uchikoshi worked on, this game has branching paths as well. Depending on certain actions you take during the somnium exploration, the story can go in very different directions. Now, I have already seen one ending of the game and it even got me a bit emotional while playing it. The writing and pacing of this game are wonderful. While there is some dry and lame humor in this game, the actual jokes work quite well and made me and my girlfriend laugh out loud more than once.

I’m leaving quite a lot of details on the story out on purpose since this game is better experienced without a lot of knowledge of the story. Go in this game as blind as possible. Since the twists are better without knowing them in advance. Which honestly, speaks for itself don’t you think? Now, something that I quite liked is the various nods to the Zero Escape series. Certain sound effects and visual cues come from or are heavily inspired by the Zero Escape series.

Now, before I talk more about that comparison, I want to talk about the voice acting. While you can play through this game with the original Japanese cast, I’m playing through this game with the English voice actors and I have to say that the dub of this game is amazing. The cast has been cast quite well. Maybe I might be a bit biased since I’m heavily invested in the story and now I’m quite used to the voice work of the voice actors.

He is at it again

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The gameplay in this visual novel is quite varied. This isn’t a visual novel where just choosing between a few options makes the difference. In this visual novel, there are various puzzles to solve and dialogue trees to explore. The first gameplay type is simply one where you explore a location. This can be a crime scene or the house of a suspect. In these scenes, the Date doesn’t move around. You explore your surroundings to find various clues and leads. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, whenever the text turns green whenever you move over the cursor over something, that means that there is still some interaction to be done. If the text turns gray, you have done every possible interaction.

So you go through various dialogue trees where you get new information. Whenever you missed something, you can quickly bring up the log and replay the voice clips. Something that I found a bit missing, is a sort of summary of the events that happened. Since very different things happen in the story depending on the path you take. So, a quick summary of past events might be helpful. Especially since there are character bios and a word list where various terms are explained.

Speaking of these character bios and terms, these are handled amazingly. The various hidden jokes and references add so much to the atmosphere of the game. Especially the way how some explanations are written, it’s almost like writers are talking to the player directly. Sometimes even saying that if you want more information that you “have to look it up on the internet.” And as an IT guy, I found the binary joke in one of the character profiles an extremely nice touch.

Now, the exploration in this game is quite limited and somewhat linear. While you can choose which location you visit first, it doesn’t make a difference in the story if you go in order or out of order. So, this is quite linear. Now, the dream sequences are something completely different. Now, if you played any game in the Zero Escape series, you will quickly get used to these sections. These dream puzzles are the escape rooms of this game, but the big difference is that you can move in the whole area.

If you compare the gameplay of this game with any game in the Zero Escape series, I have to compliment this game for improving the dialogue sections of the game. The dialogue and story sections are more involved now and you can choose in which order you experience it. This makes the game more accessible and doesn’t dump a lot of text and story on you all at once.

That said, now the dream sequences and puzzles are a blast to play through. Some of them are a tad bit too easily to my liking, but the later puzzles more than makeup for it. For one puzzle, I even considered using a walkthrough but after a lot of trial and error, I figured it out and it gave me such an amazing feeling.

In each puzzle, you have to unlock various mental locks. You can do this by exploring and interacting with the dream. Because you are exploring a dream, extremely strange things can happen. So, you have to make sure you understand why and what is going wrong. There is a catch, you have 6 minutes to solve the whole puzzle. If you don’t, you get a game over. You can use 3 tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. If you go back one checkpoint, you use one token. If you go back two checkpoints, you use 2 tokens.

Now, you have to plan your actions right since each action uses a certain amount of time. With some actions, you earn special bonuses that can increase or decrease the used time in the game. It’s very important that you plan ahead and that you are sure of the option you pick. Now, whenever you are standing still, your clock ticks down slower than when you are moving. Take this time to plan out your moves and make sure you aren’t losing time by walking in the wrong direction.

This whole mechanic gives the game a very tense atmosphere. Am I going to have enough time to crack the other mental locks or have I lost too much time in the previous sections? Sometimes it’s better to restart the whole puzzle instead of using your tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. Now, you can also use these tokens during gameplay. The time you had on the clock is the time you have when you return to that checkpoint. You get 3 tokens for each puzzle and they reset whenever you restart the whole puzzle.

I was pretty interested in the game whenever I saw the teaser trailer, but the gameplay is not disappointing me at all. It’s one of the best games I have played this year. And to be honest, if the quality of the game keeps up during the rest of the game, I think there are big chances that this game might be my Game Of The Year. And yes, maybe my bias towards the author and director of this game might have some to do with it, but you still have to deliver a great product and gameplay and story-wise, I think they more than succeed here.

Pretty and funny

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES_20190905202822

Visually, this game looks amazing. The detail in the character models and the environment are just amazing. Compared to Zero Time Dilemma, the animation work got a huge overhaul. The character portraits are no longer static, they have the same animation as the actual characters on screen. That way you can still see their animations whenever you missed their animations because you were looking around.

The little details in the animations are mindblowing. For example, there was a scene where a teacher was talking about a student and when she was talking about the student, her head actually moved towards the student itself and the student broke her idle animation and looked at her teacher. These things might be small moments but are moments that give just that bit of extra flavor and atmosphere to the game.

On top of that, the audiovisual presentation of this game is equally as good as the animation. Some parts of the soundtrack reminded me of a lot of the music that’s used in the Zero Escape series. Now, there are some sound effects that are exactly the same from the Zero Escape series like the save sound and some other sound effects. If it’s intentional, I found it a great easter egg for people who played the previous games. Now, it’s also quite possible that they used the same sound library to save some development money and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Surprisingly, the composer of this game also wrote the music for BloodStained and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games on (3)DS. The Zero Escape series’ soundtracks were composed by Shinji Hosoe who wrote music for Fate/Extra and Tekken 6. The composer of this game is Keisuke Ito and he did an amazing job with his team to create this soundtrack.

One of the biggest shames of this game is the fact that sometimes those games have some stuttering or some major slowdowns during gameplay. Thankfully these don’t have that often and it only affects the Visuals and not music nor the voice acting. Most of these slowdowns happen during dialogues or when a lot of animation is playing. On these moments, the fan of my Switch didn’t blast me away like in Dragon Quest Builders 2.

If I’m allowed to nitpick just a minor bit, I can’t remember exactly where but there are just 1 or 2 lines that aren’t voice acted. These are very short lines and if you are just following the story, you might not even notice them. I clearly remember that one of these lines was said by Date somewhere in the first few sections of the story. I think it was in a conversation between Boss, Aiba, and Date. But given the whole script of this game, just one or two missed lines is something that isn’t THAT bad and can be easily looked over.

This game has only one difficulty level. The overall difficulty of this game is quite well done, the difficulty scaling is very well done. Some puzzles require some trial and error but once it clicks, the whole thing makes sense. The biggest challenge is in the exploration of the dreams since you need to think fast and think about the time limit.

The controls of this game are almost perfect. The only thing that’s missing is touchscreen controls. But hey, that’s huge nitpick since the controls are quite responsive and easily mastered. Thanks to the amazing UI, I can find any negatives about the controls and UI. Apart from maybe one minor thing. I find the text in the word list and character bios a little bit too small to read when I’m playing in docked mode and when I’m sitting a bit too far away from the screen. All the other text can be read just fine, apart from that part.

I’m also forgetting to talk about something quite important and that’s the save system. While there is an autosave system present in the game, you also have three save slots you can use. Thanks to these three save slots, I’m able to continue to play the game by myself but also save at the point me and my girlfriend left off so we can pick up the game right where we left off when we play it the next time.

Now there is some minor replay value when you want to unlock everything. During each Somnium, there is an eye hidden that when collected and finished the Somnium without failing; you unlock additional concept art. These are quite fun to watch and a great reward for people who explore the game to the smallest detail.

Now, this review is already getting extremely long for a first impression. It’s quite clear what I’m thinking of this game. I think it’s high time to wrap this first impression up. This game comes highly recommend to everybody who enjoys adventure games, puzzle games, mystery games, visual novel games and games like the Zero Escape series. This game is one of the best games I have played in 2019 and I can’t wait to see how this game ends. Apart from some minor flaws like the slowdowns, this game is in my eyes as good as perfect. It’s such a shame that this game doesn’t get the publicity that it deserves. I hope that with this article more people give this game a try and give it the audience it deserves. With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

One minor side note, this game is also on PS4 and PC.

First Impression: Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch) ~ Illegal Building Is Fun!

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Official website

When I played Dragon Quest Builders on the Nintendo Switch, I was highly surprised by the quality of the game. Now, granted, not everybody enjoyed the game and some Dragon Quest fans even disliked the game quite a lot. Take for example my buddy Drakulus, who gave the game a 5/10. Another friend of mine, FalconGameReviews wrote a more lukewarm review of the game. And then you have me, giving the game the full marks. While I won’t deny that the original had some flaws like the lacking combat, I heavily enjoyed my time with the game. After I had beaten the original game, I certainly wanted to play more and when I saw the trailer for the sequel, I was extremely hyped. So, now that I was able to play the game for a while, I can give you my first impressions on it. So, what did I think of the game so far? Let’s take a look. 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.

Illegal Building Is Fun!

dragon-quest-builders-2-11The events of the original game took place in an alternative universe of the ending from the original Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place a few years after Dragon Quest II. In the 2nd Dragon Quest game, the hero Erdirck takes on Hargon and Malroth. Their followers, the children of Hargon want revenge and make sure that nobody is allowed to create anything. But during the story, you teach the brainwashed citizens that building is still fun while trying to avoid being caught by the children of Hargon.

So, they paint builders as a sort of criminal. You start on a ship where you learn the ropes of the game and get a tutorial on the basic game mechanics. When the ship actually crashes, you wake up on an island together with a person named Malroth, that has no memories of his past.

The story so far has been quite enjoyable. The charm of an actual Dragon Quest game is still here. The humor and great writing are still here. Also, in this game, the story is a bit more in-depth. It takes some various turns and it’s more expansive than the original one. Story-wise, I personally think that the story of the sequel is a lot better than the original. It plays more on the central theme of the story but it also has a lot of side stories and side quests to keep you occupied.

The only negative about the story is that the pacing is a bit slow. Personally, I don’t see this as a big deal but I think that this can be a turnoff to some people. Sadly enough there no way to skip the dialogue outright. Or there is no way to look at the previous dialogue, like if you accidentally pressed a button and skipped a part of the dialogue while you were reading.

Now, while I was enjoying the story, I noticed something that worried me a bit. While I was playing the game, either in docked or in handheld mode, the Switch’s cooling fans kick into high gear. My Switch actually got extremely hot in the middle. Also, the Switch is blowing out hot air, which was an unwelcome thing while I was playing this game during a heatwave…

Expanded

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A ton of mechanics in this game got expanded to aid you in building the town or doing your quests.

First of all, you don’t need Chimera Wings anymore to fast travel back to your base. There is a new fast travel mechanic that makes life a lot easier. It’s a huge improvement over Dragon Quest Builders 1.

The gilder feature is a godsend. I loved it in Breath of the Wild and I love it in this game. It’s an amazing feature that aids a lot with traveling and exploring the vast and open world in this game.

The Builderpedia feature is an extremely welcome feature as well, it’s a sort of mini wiki inside the game that can help you when you want to build a certain room in your base and you don’t know which items you need to have in your room in order for it to register as a certain room.

The new builder tools like the handy builder’s glove is also an extremely welcome feature. When you misplaced a block, you don’t have to mine it out anymore. You just pick it up again with the glove and place it where you want.

A big complaint about the original game was the camera. Now, the issue was that in tight spaces or in buildings with multiple floors, it was sometimes a struggle to center the camera on your character. In this game, they have a brilliant solution to that problem. With the simple press of a button, you can go into the first-person mode and more easily explore around.

Another great feature is the autosave. The game autosaves after a while of playing. Also, you don’t have to go to the village center to save it anymore. You can easily do that from the menu.

There are a ton of amazing other additions in this game that make this game even more enjoyable to play. From more easily creating rivers and lakes to changing walls into another block with the click of a button… If I would be talking about all the new mechanics and how they improve this game, I would be here all day.

Now, there are a few things that got downgraded. First of all, cooking. While it’s unique and somewhat fun that you need to cook your food on a campfire, you can’t cook in bulk anymore. Meaning that you are unable to easily get all of your food cooked.

While that is negative, the new cooking system allows for more experimentation. Since in some cooking stations you are able to throw ingredients together to make something unique like in Breath of the Wild.

Something I also missed from the original game was the fact you could keep blueprints in your inventory after building a certain room. It would be so handy if I was able to just reuse a blueprint somewhere else. For example, when I wanted to rebuild a certain bar from the main story on the Isle of Awakening, I had to either take screenshots or reference the Builderpedia several times.

Complaining out of love

Dragon-Quest-Builders-2-Boy-Malroth-Windmill.jpgIt might seem that I’m complaining a lot about this game. That’s because I’m highly enjoying my time with this game while still being a bit frustrated at several mistakes that make this game less enjoyable. Now, if I would score the game, I would still give it full marks.

One of the reasons why this game gets full marks is the visual presentation. This game looks amazing. I’m so glad that there is photo mode and a screenshot button on the Switch so I can make screenshots of the amazing landscapes and gorgeous visual presentation of this game. Together with amazing animations, this game really comes to life. I especially like little details like when you move the camera from under weather to above weather, the camera appears wet and various water droplets roll off your screen.

Like every Dragon Quest game, the music in this game is fantastic. I haven’t played a Dragon Quest game where I didn’t like music. That said, I do have to ask the Dragon Quest fanbase a question. Does the soundtrack of this game have original songs or does it also reuse classics from the previous Dragon Quest games, like the original Dragon Quest Builders? I was unable to find more information on that.

Together with amazing sound effects, the audiovisual presentation is excellent. In addition to that, the stable 60FPS framerate of this game is just a blessing. The game runs and plays extremely smooth. I can even say that I rarely had a slowdown. In some rare situations, I didn’t see the animation of a block-breaking but that happened so rarely, I don’t think it’s a huge problem.

Now, let’s talk about the controls of this game. The controls are still excellent. While I played the original with the Nintendo Switch Joycons, I did play this game with a wired Pro Controller. And I have to say it’s great fun.

Even with great controls, the combat is still quite generic. Not a lot changed when you compare it to the original. Now, when I read other reviews, I see a lot of people complain about basic combat. To be honest, personally, I don’t see this as that big of a problem. The game isn’t focused on combat with enemies, the game is more focused on building and crafting a world and your town. So yeah, the basic combat doesn’t bother me that much.

Something that did bother me and got me in a lot of trouble was the fact that I was sometimes unable to eat my healing pots during combat. I’m under the impression that there is either some delay on it during combat or some sort of cool down. Quite often I had to walk away from a battle to eat a healing pot.

Now, a feature that I love quite a bit is that after scripted battles, your citizens actually repair your city. Yes, if monsters manage to destroy your city or parts of it, it gets fully repaired to the way you actually build it. This is an amazing tweak and one that saved me a lot of headaches. Since one time I actually rage quit a boss in the original game simply because it destroyed around 75% of my town.

This might be just me, but I have the impression that this game is easier than the original. So far, I have fought several bosses in the game and quite rarely the gave me trouble.

A minor complaint that I have with this game is that there is only one save slot. Compared to Dragon Quest Builders 1, you had 5 slots per chapter. Granted, this game isn’t split up into chapters, but I really miss the 5 save slots. Since now I can’t really lend out my Switch to my girlfriend without me fearing that she saves over my save for example.

This game is an excellent sequel, it builds upon the original game quite a lot. From a central island where you bring all of your befriended villagers and build your own paradise to unlocking new blocks and various other things with the gratitude you receive. There are also monsters you can tame and ride, you can swim… You can quite easily change your look in-game and let’s not forgot to mention the multiplayer functionality that this game has.

It’s no wonder that various people who are playing this game got addicted to this title. For me, it got to the point that I even put other games aside. Games like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Fire Emblem – The Three Houses… While this game came out, I was lending my girlfriend’s PS4 since she has Uncharted, a game series I always wanted to play. And nope, I kept playing Dragon Quest Builders 2.

But to whom do I recommend this game? Well, easy. I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys open-world games like Breath of the Wild or Skyrim. I also recommend this game to people who enjoy Minecraft, Terarria or games of that nature. If you have enjoyed the original Dragon Quest Builders, this game is for you as well. The biggest issue, in my opinion, is the overheating of the Switch. The other negatives don’t affect my enjoyment with this game that much.

So, yeah. I’m in love with this game. There are high chances that this game will be in my top 10 games I played in 2019 list. To be honest, so far it’s even on my list as a contender for Game of the Year. But let’s just wait and see, the second part of 2019 has a lot of amazing titles that will come out. And also, the game will receive DLC later this year, so my opinion might change on that…

I may talk a bit more in-depth about this game if I ever write a review on this game but for now, I think it’s about time that I end off this article right here. I 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.

Gaming Nostalgia #2: A story that started my career as leader

downloadWell, it seems that I’m sick again. Thank the lords that I’m able to do various things. I have mostly a pretty stuffy nose and sometimes a heavy headache. But I’m healthy enough to go to college and write articles. Thanks to my medication. At these times I try to write a ton of articles or I look back to the past. In this case, I combine both. This second article in my gaming nostalgia series will be quite different than the original. Since I’m telling a quite personal story. Let’s just start the story I hinted at various times. All while I’m listing to amazing music. So, without further ado, here is the second gaming nostalgia article. 

My life as a child

Nintendo GameboyBefore that trip my life was extremely simple. I wrote small stories I rarely shared with friends. It was a kind of secret hobby. I was obsessed with creating my own games. Back then, the stories I wrote were more in the style of a series, movie or game. When I look back at the drawings and notes I made, I’m blown off my socks how simple and great the ideas are. I even made my own Pokémon game named Pokémon Black, White and Grey years before the actual games came out.

My biggest addiction was, and somewhat still is, the gameboy. I played the crap out of every game I owned. I’m now 21 years old and I still own nearly every game I owned back then. So, I was that child who made amazing things but had just a few friends. Somebody with a much potential but it wasn’t used. Why that is, let’s say that those things are rather private. M’kay?

I didn’t know that I was actually a natural born leader. Somehow, I’m able to lead a group of people who share the same passion or some similar interests. I wasn’t aware of it myself until that trip. My life changed then. I went from that child who barely made any friends to the most popular kid in the hotel. Sadly enough, I don’t think anybody remembers the time from back then. But if you recognize yourself in this story, feel free to contact me.

The trip

tumblr_mdlu4cepy01qh0t50o1_500You probably had it happen to you several times in the past. Your family takes you on a trip to a place a long distance away and you decide to travel by car. As a kid you were allowed to buy a new game you were allowed to start when the trip started. I still remember a few games I played at the backseat of my dad’s car back then.

When I arrived at the hotel after a 15 hour car ride, I finally settled in. I played a lot on my Gameboy Advance SP. Since I remember that I didn’t own a DS. Somebody there owned a DS and he was so kind to lend it to me. I was hooked and I tried various things and times to get one myself.

After the first day, I started playing with some friends I made in the bar on our gameboy’s. By our surprise, some kids came to us and asked if they could play along. We agreed and we played as long as we were allowed on our gameboy’s. At the end I asked to meet again the next day. They agreed and they said that it might be possible that they bring other friends. I agreed and I had no single clue what I actually agreed too.

The Gameboy Club

The first night, I was in a group of, let us say… a 5 kids. Myself included. The next day, we were suddenly with 10. Alright, that’s epic. But the following days, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. The number kept growing and growing. By the 4th day we had over 40 children playing together on their gameboy.

Everybody brought their own gameboy, games, batteries and cables. Believe it or not, we even got an extension cord from the hotel management since there weren’t enough outlets.

Our group had a place at the bar. The people at the clubs that were looking over me and my original friend group allow us to leave a few minutes before the activity was over. That way we were able to prepare our spot at the bar. It was a big circle with tables in the middle so everybody had a place to put their stuff.

On the 6th day we had almost every kid who had a gameboy or something to play with in the “Game Club”. I remember some parents coming to talk to me for information. For some reason, I was seen as a leader. And when one day a game was missing, I was actually questioned by the hotel staff in order to find it back. Thankfully we found it back thanks to my list.

Wait, what list are we talking about here? Well, the day before I started to make a general list of the games everybody brought. It was a big chunk of work but I didn’t care. I felt it was pretty useful and that way kids could see who had which game. So, if they wanted to play an old Pokemon game, they just had to look to the list.

From the 6th day on, kids came to me and asked when we started with the “Game Club”. It was an extremely sweet experience. I still remember walking around in the group checking if there weren’t any arguments that needed to be solved. I also explained to new kids how our system worked. Parents were extremely happy to see how such a big group of kids actually came together without them having to do one thing.

The final days

Although, I had some things that parents didn’t like. I still remember some parents being displeased that their child was looking forward to play games with us. They said those typical things like “addicted to games” and “it’s not good for you, playing so much.”. I still have the same motto from back then. I even made it into my current tag line. “Addicted? Nah, passionate.” What I mean with that, is as long as you know when to stop and where the limits are, is that’s a big passion.

Near the last days of my trip, I had to ask somebody else in order to manage the group. I still have papers were I wrote questions about games. Back then, I already knew more then I normally should about games. I knew small things about programming and gameplay. I even dare say that I was a young reviewer already back then. But keep in mind, I was around the age of 10 back then.

The questions I asked were about things like: “How many Pokémon games do exist?” and “Name me three platformers”. I was less crazy back then it seems.

Sadly enough, it’s all I remember clearly. Here and there I have some vague memories. Like I know that one time a parent actually purchased me and my crew a drink for all our hard work. I also remember that I didn’t had much time to actually play and enjoy the games at the last days since I had too much managing to do. Somehow it didn’t bother me. It felt natural.

But I know for sure that since that day, I wanted to entertain people. I started to talk about my stories with friends and a few years later I even started blogging and making my own games. While I don’t have any files of those games I created myself anymore, those experiences helped me learn quite a lot about the gaming culture.

I think it’s time to wrap up. I don’t want to write an additional part where I talk about how this changed my life. I think it’s quite clear. My passion grew and grew. Maybe in another article I might talk about other influential events in my life that made me start blogging and such.

So, that was the story about my first leadership. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article and remembering those fun memories. Thanks for reading and until the next time.

Game Diary #2: A day at school ~ GBA games

Arpegi Back

When I posted the game diary yesterday on my blog on my forum, a lot of amazing replies came. One of them even asked for more of them. And you guys are in luck, I felt like making another one today. So, in this blog game, I write a fake story as a sort of diary entry. In this story, I hide several game names or obvious game references. Each entry has it’s own theme. Like last entry was one where 10 NES games where in hidden. I realize that I made a flaw and put a SNES game in by accident. Thanks Muddy for pointing that out on the forums. Speaking about the forums, the global moderator Light made this picture meant for a wallpaper. It’s amazing. Anyways, feel free to post your solution or the ones you find in the comments. So for those playing the game, pay attention when reading the comments. So, here we go. In this article I have hidden 10 GBA games. Based on this list. If I made more then 10 references, feel free to comment to. Those one weren’t on purpose. 

The entry

Hiya there diary,

Today my mom went out to the garage. Both my parent’s their cars broke down. Hopefully they get them repaired soon. But the gods are with us. That’s for sure.

Today I dreamed  away. I was looking to the golden sun. Yeah, it’s not yellow for me. I always thought the sun had a more golden color. I should have been studying history actually. But things like Napoleon and robots don’t really interest me. I also never understood why there where robots in my history book anyways.

Today it was a truth or dare with my friends. Silly questions where asked, like if Johnathan is actually in love with Cindy. If that was only true. But Cindy would never start a relationship with him. Only if pigs grow wings. Or better said, when they can fly.

 While I am writing this, I would love it if the guy with the drill would shut up. He is causing me headaches and I can’t study for anything. But then again, I prefer that sound over the sound that comes from my sister’s room. How she can watch that show American Idol, I truly don’t understand.

The field trip of tomorrow goes to the Rocky Mountains. I can’t wait! It’ll be a whole lot of fun. Hiking through the woods. I can give some teachers a payback of giving me back marks because I gave up at the running test.

Well, I’m too tired to continue to write now. I’m going to dive into my pillow fortress and maybe catch a nap.

See you laterz,

Jonez.

The solution

  1. Cars, from the movie Cars.
  2. Gods, it’s a port of a Sega game.
  3. Golden Sun, yeah, it’s a present.
  4. Napoleon, it’s a game title yes.
  5. Robots, I even mentioned it twice. 
  6. Wings, it’s a GBA too.
  7. American Idol, like the TV show.
  8. Rocky, yup, the boxer has it’s own GBA game.
  9. Payback, it’s a GBA game too.
  10. Fortress is the last game I referenced. 

Final notes

This was harder then I expected. I know a lot about Nintendo, but hiding the games into a story for GBA games, it wasn’t easy. I did it, but I feel like I made some easy use of some game titles.

Anyways, I enjoyed challenging myself with hiding the game titles in here. How many can you guys find? Let me know. But the next article will be something else.

Review #005: Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ But you promised…

Virtues_Last_Reward

Link to the official English site.

You are locked up. You don’t know where you are or what your goal is. It’s time to play a game. No, not with a Saw but with a bunny. Yes, Zero Junior. You thought you could escape in the previous game, 9 hours 9 people 9 doors (For the DS, I’ll review this game one day)? Then think again. This time, you will have some major trouble. The game will go totally different now, and you will have a lot more explained.  Are you ready for an adventure? One that you rather didn’t have, one you regret living for? Okay, enough of that. This game got me extremely excited to play, I even didn’t know this game came to Europe. But when I saw it in my local game store, I bought the game with the little money I had and that night I didn’t sleep. But why? Is this such a good game and if it is, did it deliver? Or  was my sleepless night because of the terrible game I had to play? Well, let’s dive into this game and let’s check if it’s actually worthy to be played.

Zero III.

VLR_Screen_1

This game isn’t your regular game. Oh no, it proves that the 3DS has games that aren’t for kids. This game is for 16 and up and for a good reason, it’s a scary game. Not supernatural but the scenery and the story is pretty creepy.

The game’s story is amazing and is extremely well done. It can be a bit cheesy here and there but I can forgive that. Some reviewers will tell that those points in a story are boring and all that, but those things actually aren’t all that bad, they don’t take you out of the experience.

A big improvement is that you can now jump inside the story. The game has several endings and to unlock the final true ending, you need to have seen most, if not all, other endings. If you are playing with breaks, the story can get confusing when you jump though, so pay attention.

If I talk about the story, I might spoil it for you. But it’s a great story. For the people who follow me on Twitter before I started this blog, you might have noticed that I tweeded this game to some Youtubers who looked for new games on their 3DS.

Even talking when this game takes place in the series in a spoiler. But the new UI in this game is a vast improvement over the last interface. Like I told earlier, this game’s jump manic in the story helps out a lot, so you don’t have to redo parts of the story like in the original. Also, it’s more clear which path you need to take to unlock a new ending, so the danger of running into a same ending twice is gone.

What pissed me off in game, but is an extremely nice touch is that some endings have a story lock. Yes, you need information from another ending. Confused? Well, I was too. But it gets extremely well explained in the game and I advise you to play it for the story alone.

I want to get out!

VLR_Screen_5

The game is a mixture of visual novel and puzzle game. Your goal is to escape a certain room and find more clues. What’s unique in this game is that when you do it without getting hints, you unlock developer content. This makes for a lot of replay value in a visual novel game. Yes, they succeeded into getting replay value in a game that’s extremely story driven. Most visual novel games collect dust after they are finished.

The animation is extremely well done. Each character has their unique expressions and makes the story come more alive then the previous game. Even in 3D, the game is extremely awesome to look at. The location of the game itself is well done. You truly get the feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape.

The puzzles you need to solve aren’t that easy. Most puzzles require you to use that thing up in your head, your brain. The game will challenge you with sliding puzzles, logic puzzles and much more. A great tip is that you need to carefully look around in a room to not miss anything.

No area is repetitive. Each one has unique puzzles related to that place. I even didn’t find any similar puzzles from the previous game. The story and gameplay is also way different, except the escaping parts. In this game, the door to escape is right in front of your face, yet, the “key” isn’t.

The music is, are you ready for this, epic. I can’t find any bad song in the game or any tune I didn’t like. Often, I start a playlist on Youtube and listen to the music while I play games like Minecraft. The music gives the right vibes on the right moment. Surprisingly there are a lot of different tracks and all are of a decent length. Most of the tracks even have one word long names. Which is a nice touch of the developers.

Some parts in the game have even voice acting. This makes the game feel alive. You feel that you grow a bond with the characters and this makes you want to play more.

virtue-s-last-reward-nintendo-3ds-1358438633-030_m

Perfect?


This game is extremely close to being perfect to me. The music, animation, story, gameplay… It’s all there. Yet, I found some flaws in this game that really made me wonder. Are they going to address these issues in the sequel?

The first issue is the disappointing save file corruption glitch on the 3DS. Yes, I truly advise you all not to save in the puzzle rooms or your data can get corrupt. I learned it the hard way. The developers have yet to come out with a patch sadly enough.

In my opinion, the sound effects are lacking. Not that they aren’t good, they are pretty well done. But the same is silent without the music and really could use a bit more on the sound department in my opinion.

Also, some puzzles, the one with the liquor especially, are a bit tedious. Changing liquor and changing and more changing, it gets boring extremely quick.

Another small flaw is that the story becomes a bit predictable in the yet to unlock endings if you finished others. Either you already know some information or a similar path is walked on. But it helps with the continuity of the story though.

As a final remark, this game has a flaw it can’t fix. This game’s story will leave you with an empty feeling when it’s done. You don’t want to see “The End” anytime soon. This game is extremely good and the length, well it’s a long game. But when it’s over, you want more. More  escaping…

Conclusion

The good:

+ Epic story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Amazing gameplay.

+ Various and many improvements over the original.

+ The new elements in the game really helps the game.

+ Voice acting.

+ Additional content.

The bad: 

– Sounds, could be done a bit more.

– Save file corruption.

Conclusion:

This game is really close of getting a 100 of me. Did I enjoy this game? Of course I did. I was sad when the game was over and I actually plan to replay the game this summer. I might already know what is going to happen and how it will end, but the puzzles and the whole game are so fun to play through.

This game isn’t for everyone though. But once you get into the gameplay, you won’t let this game go easily. It’s such a well done game, I wish I still could play it a bit more. I normally don’t care about additional content like texts of the developers but in this game I did. Can you unlock them all?

Score: 99/100