Tag Archives: visual

First Impression: Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe (Switch) ~ Let’s Explore For Tears

WoodleTree2Deluxe-featured

Nintendo.com microwebsite

I remember when ChubbyPixel asked me to review Woodle Tree Deluxe on the Switch in March. I felt like there could have been done so much more with the concept of the game. Recently, the company released the sequel to the Nintendo Switch. Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe. An expanded version of Woodle Tree 2: Worlds on Steam. Now, the asked me to take a look at the sequel as well. While a review key has been provided to write this review, I’ll give my 100% honest opinion on this game. And 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.

Let’s explore for tears

WOODLE TREE2

The story of this game is a direct follow up to the original. In this game, you play as a son of the hero of the original game. Now, the powers of evil have taken over the Wood Lands as revenge. It’s up to you to save the Wood Lands and find the tears again.

The way the story is being told and paced is a lot better than the original. In the original, you have a small cut scene at the start and you got thrown into the hub world. Now, the whole world is the hub world and there is a central place that acts as a sort of overview place where you can buy upgrades and cosmetics.

Before you can go explore the whole map, you go through a sort of tutorial section. The tutorial is quite decent. It teaches you the basic mechanics of the game without being too punishing.

After you have saved the three first tears, you will be allowed to find all the other tears. Right on the map screen, you can see that the game is divided up in several area’s where you can find three tears each. Right there on the map screen, you can also notice that the checkpoints you activate also can be used as warp points. That’s pretty neat.

So, in each area, there are three tears and at least 80 blueberries. You can find your progress of that collection on the mini-map. There are also red berries but there is no counter for that on the map screen. The map screen is quite useful since it tells you where in the world you are and which level it is. The only thing I miss on the map screen is a sort of zoom-in feature that you can use to have a better idea of the current area you are in. Also, it would be extremely handy that you could move the cursor freely around without being restricted to only being able to choose the warp points.

You can bring up the map screen by a simple press of the (+) button. If you use the shoulder buttons, you can use the pause menu. The menu after the map screen is the options menu. Where you can adjust the camera sensitivity, the volume if you want to invert the X-axis or the Y-axis if you want or don’t want anti-aliasing and the language. The controls are listed in this menu, but you can’t change them. In the most recent update, the developers added a lot of languages!

The 3rd and final screen in the pause screen is a total overview of your adventure where you can see how much red berries, blueberries you have and how many tears you have collected.

Now, most of the story is being told through text bubbles. There is no voice acting nor are there any “voice noises” in the game. There are sound effects, but I will talk more on that later in this review. You can easily notice when somebody has something to say because there is a text box floating above their heads. Now, you don’t have to worry to approach them from the wrong side since the text box sort of follows your character while staying on top of the character that’s speaking. The only thing is that the character itself doesn’t follow you.

Wall jumps and double jumps

WOODLETREE

If you played a platformer or the original, you will be right at home playing this game. The idea is that through platforming, you find the three tears. In this game, Woodle has few new moves in their arsenal. You have a double jump and a wall jump. You can also use your leaf to float around and to catch water droplets to water dead trees. To easily find your way around in the world, you can also use a telescope. Sadly enough, there isn’t a run button insight.

It’s not that your character is moving slow, the world is a tad bit too big. It would be extremely helpful that you had a run button or some way to make traveling faster. Thankfully the warp mechanic is really fast, so once you unlocked the waypoints, it’s easy to get there fast. It also helps you out in a pinch. Just take a look at this tweet. Yes, I got stuck inside a house I wasn’t supposed to get into. Or the moment I was able to let the character do a sort of moonwalk.

Now, the reason that I called this section, wall jumps and double jumps are because I feel like there is some sort of conflict in the code. I found it a bit difficult when I wanted to use my double jump to get onto a higher ledge because I jumped away from the wall since a wall kick was used.

This caused me a few deaths. Thankfully, there is no life system in place. After a few hits, you respawn at the checkpoint you used last. Checkpoints are also used as save points. So, whenever you need to save, you can easily warp to a checkpoint and the game automatically saves your progress. Now, the game only has one save slot, so it’s impossible that two or more people have their own playthrough at the same time.

Overall, the controls are quite responsive. While I sometimes have to fight the camera, I don’t think that the controls are that bad. They could use some polish, especially in the above-mentioned wall jump mechanic. Now, the game drops the ball in two other areas.

First of all, the visual presentation is something that needs some work. Overall the game looks fine and the animations are decent. Visually the game looks amazing for being a budget title. But, there are multiple popping issues and in some area’s I even had some major frame drops when the area was loading in. And in some areas, the place suddenly totally changed like in this video/tweet.

The character is sometimes quite jittery, especially when you are floating down. You can attack during your floating down without losing height or momentum. Textures and models pop in and out. The leaf you use sometimes just turns white, like when you are floating down… The game needs polish in the performance of the visuals.

Speaking of the visual presentation, the lighting is extremely off. Now, I can understand that when the enemies come and attack you, the scene goes dark. It is the powers of evil after all. But, for example on the beach, the lighting is so strong… the yellow that’s used for sand was sometimes quite painful to look at. Besides that, I had different lighting in a similar area without any rime or reason. I also posted that in a video on Twitter.

A final thing in the visual department I think that could have been improved is the design of some enemies. At first, I wasn’t able to tell some enemies apart from NPCs. This was a problem during the tutorial since I was attacking an NPC that looked an awful lot like an enemy from the original game.

Now, a great thing about the visual department is how your health is being displayed. The size of the leaf is basically your health. How smaller it is, how closer you are to death. Unlike the first game, you can be hit multiple times in this game. This makes the game more forgiving and more fun to play.

It’s a shame really since the game is looking quite charming and fun to play. If only these issues with the visual presentation weren’t present, then the game could have been so much better. Sadly enough, this isn’t the only major issue with the game.

Spooky silence

WOODLE TREE 3

The game itself isn’t too hard. When you get used to the controls and the mechanics of the game, you are able to find your way around quite easily. Enemies can be easily avoided and sometimes just buying an upgrade can make the game a literal walk in the park.

Now, the 2nd big issue with this game is the audio design. Don’t misunderstand me, the music and sound effects of this game are all quite well done but there isn’t enough. Some things are lacking sound effects like hitting switches or elevators. But the biggest issue is the music. The music is amazing but there are a lot of areas where the music doesn’t play and you hear silence. You only hear the sound effects of the game.

It’s a shame since each area has its own unique musical theme that really fits with the atmosphere of that area. But the area’s in between stay silent. But, sometimes the music just loops wrong as well. There are these flowers you can run into to get a speed boost. Each time you hit a flower, the musical jingle restarts. This is quite annoying in my opinion. I wish it just extended playing the jingle. And let’s not forget to mention that the animation is quite inconsistent with these speed boosts. In some areas, a roll animation starts playing and in some area’s it looks like you are gliding over the ground.

Should I be so harsh on this game? The game is fun, has a lot of love and creativity in it. The game costs 12 bucks and is quite often on sale. The developers are quite responsive and if you find a bug and report it to them, they fix it in the next patch. Even when another game has come out. Still, I see the potential that this game has and I just wish that the game was more polished.

Something that I’m quite content with this game is the fact that this game shows a lot of potential for the following games of the studio. I have been working with this studio since the first Suicide Guy game. I have seen the quality of each of their titles improve and grow. And this game impressed me quite a lot. I’m quite thankful that I got a key from them to review this game since I think that this game shows a lot of potential for the future.

Now, something that I would love to see in a sequel to this game is less technical issues and more things to do besides looking for blueberries and the tears. Expand the game and the universe. Maybe have a cross over with the Suicide Guy series, besides being it as an easter egg.

So yeah, I think I’m going to continue playing this game. The charm of this game really has won me over. I can recommend this game to other players, but keep in mind that this game has some technical issues in its current state. Maybe some future patches will improve on this, who knows.

And that’s for now, everything that I have to say on this game. 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.

First impression: Sanator: Scarlet Scarf (PC) ~ Who wears that scarf?

Steam store page

Hi, NotThatAlice here. NekoJonez asked me to review this game and I gladly agreed. Unfortunately, due to bad mental health, I put off reviewing this game until the last moment… Today I’ll be talking about a visual novel game called Senator: Scarlet Scarf. For this review, the developers provided me with a review code. As requested by the developer, you will be able to read my 100% honest opinion in this article. As usual, just leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the section down below.

The story

The story of this game is based upon the legend of the Plague Maiden, a Norse mythological creature. A woman can become a plague maiden when she didn’t get a proper burial after she was murdered on her wedding day. Now, this legend is also used in German-speaking regions when the bubonic plague was happening.

In this game, you explore the world that has fallen twice and has an unclear future. You dive right into the mystery of a dying city with the fate of the Senator in your hands. Are you able to stop the calamity before it’s too late? Because this is a big story-based game, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum in this review.

Now, if you are a fan of text-heavy games, you will absolutely love this game. Personally, I prefer action-packed games more but I believe that everyone has its own favorite game style. One of the great things about this game is that you can use your imagination, you don’t have to do what the game tells you to.

One thing you need to play this game is patience, it takes a while before you can decide something in the game. This also means that the game can have more than one end so it has some replay value to find out what the other decisions have as an outcome.

The game sometimes uses unknown wordings, that something to get used to. It has some kind of codex but not every word is explained. On the other hand, they are talking about a plague that is killing tons of people, that is a real thing from the middle ages. I also recognized the crow mask as a mask that was used in the middle ages by doctors in times of the plague. (I totally didn’t learn this from watching Beauty and the Beast, Disney-fan talking :p )

A little side note, something that NekoJonez didn’t like was the fact that some text was extremely close together. This can be seen in the codex. He said that sometimes an enter or two could have helped.

The text settings in the game are quite simple. You can choose to remove the text from the screen so you can see the full picture, you can change the text shading,… I would’ve made the text a little bigger though, it kinda made my head hurt a little.

Even though the game is read-through, you can enable voice assistance. This means you can still read the text but it is also read to you. One thing I would maybe change to this feature is that the text is only read to you when everything is on the screen and not while the text is written. This means you have to wait a while before you hear what is being written. It is also all in the same voice, which means you have to concentrate on who’s talking. If only the text and dialogues were color-coded, that would help quite a lot.

Technical thingies

I really liked the visuals of the game, even though there isn’t a lot of animation. The style of the game is like it is painted on your screen, with paint strokes and darker colors. This makes the game a little extra special since it isn’t just an average animated game.
The background music gave me chills. The music is kinda monotonous but at the same time, it gave me the feeling that something was about to happen… The music also kinda resembled that of the Zero Escape series, which made it even scarier to me.

While playing through the game for the review, it really made me want to play on and on. The beginning may be a little slow but it you keep going until Syl tells her story you might be as restless to advance as me. This makes me admire the writer of the story a lot. I have read a lot of books, but if a book started slow, it makes me stop reading it. This game doesn’t have that problem at all.

One thing I accidentally did while first starting the game has put the game in Russian. I kinda was impatient and just pressed the first thing I saw. Maybe it’s easier if the language settings on the screen instead of only lighting them up if you move your cursor over them. I had to look up how Russian was written in Russian to find out where I had to click next. Now I kinda think it’s funny that it happened though.

Something I think that could have been improved was how the demo was handled. The demo of this game is a stand-alone package. But here is the thing, it’s a bit unclear that the demo is a prequel to the story. I think it would have worked better if the demo was implemented into the full game as a sort of the first chapter. Maybe as a sort optional chapter for those who already played the demo. What I thought when NekoJonez started playing the game at his place was that the demo actually looked like the beginning of the actual game. I don’t know if that was intentional or not.

I think that the price of 8,19 euros for the game is a good price. If the game only had 1 ending it would be a bit much but the game can be played several times, as I said earlier. There is some replay value in this game.

If you play the game, always remember to save your progress. The game doesn’t autosave, and when you exit, it doesn’t give you a prompt to save. This means all unsaved progress will be lost. Also, I found it a bit annoying that you can’t name your saves. The name of the save is simply the date from when you made the save. So, if I wanted to go back to a certain point, I had to remember which save file it was.

The settings of the game are quite simple, you can choose between windowed and borderless mode, you can change the volume of the music and sound and, which I thought was a nice extra, you can change the mouse cursor in the game. There is also an option where you can easily listen to the whole soundtrack that the game has. Besides that, you can also choose to darken the text that isn’t part of the current paragraph or on which side of the screen the text will appear on. I could nitpick that the arrow buttons weren’t the best symbol for this since it almost gives you the impression you can move the text window to your heart content… to the middle for example.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I have fully finished the game, I might write a more in-depth review of this game. I want to thank the developers for the opportunity of reviewing this game. I also want to thank you, the readers for reading this article. Feel free to let me know if you enjoyed reading this review 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.

Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

death mark

Official website

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

Alive until dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explore and read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the edge of my seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

The good:

+ Amazing atmosphere in the visual and audio department.

+ Great writing.

+ The game has a lot of text.

+ …

The bad:

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

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: 90/100

Publishing: unmemory – A mystery game you can read. A noir novel you can play.

logopositivounmemorytrans

“An innovative proposal of interactive fiction that immerses you in the story through a masterful mix of puzzle and reading” – Iván Fernández Lobo, Founder & Managing Director at Gamelab.

A new storytelling format

unmemory lives at the intersection of literature and game, blending narrative, interactive means and game mechanics to immerse yourself in a thriller story of memories and revenge.

The Killer Kittens are a band of sexy thieves. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you can’t remember anything.

Use your logic, deduction and discovery skills to overcome challenging puzzles and move forward. Bring order to your memories to solve the mystery and discover an uncomfortable truth.

More information

http://unmemory.info
Instagram: @unmemory.game
Facebook: @unmemory.game

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

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Wikipedia entry

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

Are you ready, Chomp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metroidvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save often!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganized a bit better.

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

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Score: 99/100

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

corpse-party-apk.jpgGoogle Play Store link

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

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

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

The story warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to form

Corpse Party Blood Drive

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

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

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

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

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

The atmosphere man. The atmosphere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publishing: 50 Best Bows and Crossbows in Video Games – Precis 1

Over the years a good portion of the huge selection of video games available have included the good old bow and arrow and the trend is on the up. The bow is a weapon historian have found in settlements dating back to around 9000 BC. Pop culture loves the bow and arrow and there’s also a good slice of the movie that’s taken up the gauntlet with heroes like Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen wielding them.

There are a comprehensive top 50 of the best bows (and crossbows) ever in video games over at targetcrazy.com and with their permission, we’ve reproduced the top picks here, but if you want to see the whole list, take a look at the article in the link.

Best Retro Game Bow – Kid Icarus – The Sacred Bow

The favorite bow from older games is the enhanced Sacred Bow wielded by Pit in Kid Icarus. While he starts out wielding a short-range bow, the Sacred Bow lets him fire arrow much faster and farther. Pit has an unlimited supply of arrows and can use Fire Arrows to deal more damage. By the time Pit returned in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the bow was only one of many weapons he used, but in the original two games, it was his primary weapon of choice.

The Best Crossbow – BioShock

Do crossbows count? They are bows, after all, some might say not really but the top pick for the crossbow in a computer game is BioShock. Not only is the crossbow in BioShock one of their favorite video game crossbows, but it’s also considered by many players to be the best BioShock weapon. It deals excellent damage with multiple types of ammunition, it is powerful at both short-range and long-range, and a headshot from the crossbow will kill a Splicer in one hit on any difficulty setting. If that’s not enough, its bolts can often be recovered intact (and you can upgrade it to make this more likely), which means it’s an incredibly powerful weapon with a ready supply of ammo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Magical – Bayonetta 2 – Kafka

Some are magical some are just plain weird. Bayonetta is here to prove bows can be very strange. The Kafka, a new bow added in Bayonetta 2 and named in honor of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” has a dragonfly-like appearance and shoots poison arrows. According to its in-game description, the bow comes from a man who metamorphosed into an insect and lives on inside the weapon to fire arrows made of venomous bugs. Indeed, if you perform an Umbran Climax while wielding this bow, it fires massive, demonic dragonflies at the enemy. A bow that shoots demonic dragonflies instead of arrows? It doesn’t get much weirder than that.

SciFi! – Crysis 3 – Predator Bow

You can’t beat an auto-loading compound bow! The Predator Bow from Crysis 3 is a fan-favorite, with three draw weights you can switch between and four different types of arrows to fire: carbon-impact, electro/shock, airburst fragmentation, and super-thermite. In single player, it has its own weapon slot, and it is also the only weapon you can fire while Cloaked without using energy. In short, the Predator Bow is one of the best bows in video games–science fiction or otherwise.

Better Than Real? Best VR – QuiVR

QuiVr is a multiplayer wave shooter designed specifically to be a fun, accurate archery game. Your trusty bow will let you take down wave after wave of enemies, with physics designed to feel like actual archery. QuiVr isn’t the fullest gameplay experience out there yet, but if you want to feel like you’re wielding a bow and take down enemies at the same time, this is the VR bow we like the most.

The Top 5 Best Overall Bows in Video Games

Some of these bows are in games where archery is the main focus, while others just happen to have a good archery component, but either way, these are the top 5 bows in video games and some of the games you most want to seek out if you’re looking for a fun archery experience.

Middle-Earth – Shadow of Mordor – Azkâr  – Azkâr is a special bow originally made for Celebrimbor, but Talion can use it in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor when he enters the Wraith-world while in Ranged mode. This bow can be upgraded with Runes to gain special bonuses, and Shadow of Mordor is another game where archery is generally enjoyed by fans. You may not use it often, but between its gameplay and its connections to Lord of the Rings lore, we feel Azkâr deserves recognition.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – Bow of the Dragonhorn – The Bow of the Dragonhorn available in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is one of the most powerful bows in the game (especially against undead enemies), but that’s not why it has such a high spot on this list. Instead, we picked it out because many players consider Dark Messiah to have some of the most realistic and satisfying archery in video games, with realistic aiming and physics.


Mount & Blade: Warband – Khergit Bow – Okay, the best bow is pretty divisive among fans, but whether you favorite the Khergit Bow or one of the others, Mount & Blade: Warband is a must for satisfying archery combat. Just the fact that so many different bows can be considered the best depending on your style and preferences points to how strong its archery is. Not only that, but it has fairly realistic physics and aiming. In general, using a bow in Mount & Blade: Warband finds a nice balance point between realism and fun.

Tomb Raider – Compound Bow – As of the Tomb Raider reboot, the bow has become Lara’s standard weapon. There are many different types of bows you can use, as well as various special arrows, but as long as you don’t mind its slower rate of fire, the Compound Bow is one of the best. It deals heavy damage and is a great choice for stealth. Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider don’t have the most realistic archery combat, but they do make it fun, so give their bows a try.

Age of Chivalry – Longbow – Age of Chivalry is a free total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 focused on medieval combat between two fictional orders. The team eventually made a full game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Archers in Age of Chivalry can fight with a longbow, a crossbow, or a javelin, and the longbow’s fast pace and long range makes it our pick. Not only is archery a strong focus, but it’s also fairly realistic–Age of Chivalry is another go-to game for players interested in bows that try to feel realistic.

For those that like pictures….

Here’s the whole list in a nice infographic for those of you who like that sort of thing!

20 of the Best Video Game Bows Ever
Source: targetcrazy.com

 

Preview: Pillars Of History (PC) ~ Time for History!

poh_logo

Official website

Today, it’s time to take a look at a game that’s still in development. A game that interested me as soon as the developer emailed me about it. Tritan Studio presents an Action RPG in medieval Europe. And in this article, we are going to take a look at the game and I’ll tell you my wishes for the game as well. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article. 

Personal note

Before we start, I want to stress that this isn’t a paid article. This game interests me so much, that I decided to write an article about it.

Also, the studio is going to start a KickStarter campaign for this game. I advise you guys and girls to take a look at it. Since this game is going to be worth it from what I have seen in the trailers and screenshots they released on Facebook.

Check their website/facebook page on the 20th June 2017 for more information about their KickStarter.  The KickStarter will run for a bit more than a month. So, please support them. Game development is hard and costs a lot of money.

You can also follow the development on their YouTube channel and their Twitter.

What is this game about?

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So, you choose between one of seven characters that each have their unique storyline and background. Since this is an RPG, the actions you take decide the fate your character.

Your character development is based on your level progression. There will be also a class-system. Each class has its own basic stats, perks, and weaknesses.

But, you can also develop skills. You can improve these skills with skill points you earn from leveling up. So, you will have to choose wisely on which skills you spend them on.

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There will be an exploration system. Since this is an RPG, this is a given.

Remember, like I said in the introduction, this game is set in the Medieval times. What were we doing back then? Of course, we were exploring new territories, nations, acquiring knowledge and such things.  In this game, you will be able to explore settings based on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. And here comes the first interesting catch. When you treat somebody badly, he or she can be serious trouble if you enter their homeland. So, be careful who you anger.

Of course, since we didn’t have the same technology back then, then we have now, exploring is a risky business. You will have to take care of yourself, your horses and your stock. Also, you might have to rely on a pathfinder or other people. So, that will be interesting.

What would an RPG be without interactions? A boring one, no? Like I said before if you anger somebody, it’s quite possible that you aren’t allowed access to a rich town that sells strong weapons or great items. Also, it will be possible in this game that if you play the nice guy, you will receive great rewards and serious discounts.

You will also have to survive from the land. That’s why the Tritan Studio focused heavily on this aspect. There will be a stamina system that can be recovered by rest and food. Nowadays, this might sound easy, but remember, we are back in the time of castles and knights.

So, what happens when you die? Well, you get robbed. Sort of. You lose part of all of your belongings. It’s better than losing your life isn’t?

Finally, let’s talk about the equipment. This will be quite important to your quest. Since, what’s the point of putting so many points in a sword skill, if you aren’t carrying swords? That’s common sense. But be careful, since the class that you choose can change which equipment you can use. For example, priests can’t use the heaviest armor, since they lack the training for that.

My wishes

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So, this game has elements from games I really like. For example, the survival and stamina mechanics reminds me to the stamina and survival mechanic in The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild. The losing of money and gear upon death reminds me of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. Other games that come to mind are the Elder Scroll games, FallOut, Europa Universalis IV and others.

The reason why I’m so interested in this game is that it mixes elements from games I like to play. So, I’m quite sure it will turn out quite fun.

Another reason is that I’m interested in the history of Europe. When I go on a city trip or on vacation, I love to visit historical sites. As a child, I often imagined living as a sort of superhero in those times. Yeah, those were fun times.

Because the concept of this game interested me when I read the mail, I wanted to write an article about this. But as soon as I saw the screenshots, development videos and other released material… Well, I think I’m getting somewhat hyped for this game.

So, here are something I hope that will happen in the game. The following things are my suggestions to the developers. This might or might not be in the game.

I think it would be amazing if there was mod support for people to create their own quests. This would be an amazing way to give the game some love and make it more alive.

Also, I think it would be great if there is a system to “sort quests”. The mechanic in The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild is perfect in my eyes. You have a list of main quests, a list of side quests and such. And you can select a (side) quest and this will give you a marker on your map.

If there is a map system in place, it would be amazing if the map system looks like a map drawn on old parchment. Maybe even a feature where you can draw on the map. But you can’t erase your mistakes, since how are you going to erase ink in those times? So, that would mean that you have to buy a certain map again if you messed up.

A fast travel system would be interesting as well. But make it risky. I think it would be an interesting mechanic if you gave the fast travel mechanic seen in this kind of games a spin. For example, you might loose a horse traveling to a far off location in the mountains. Or, that you need a certain amount of resources to travel to a certain place.

The developer told me that this game will help you to learn a thing or two about history. I think it would be a great idea if you were able to play through some of those stories instead of finding scrolls of those tales.

What I have seen so far, the game looks amazing. The game will be playing in a 2,5 top down view. I can’t wait to play a demo build of this game. This game is certainly going on my wishlist.

Check out their social media and their website if you think that this game looks interesting. Help the developer out by sharing and giving a like if you like the content. I’m looking forward for more screenshots and maybe even a demo. All their links are at the top of this article. But, here they are once more:

WebsiteFacebookTwitterYouTube

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

First Impression: Ace Attorney 6: Spirit Of Justice (3DS-eShop) ~ Emotional Trip

ace-attorney-spirit-justice-logoAce Attorney Wikia entry

Of course! I was going to talk about this game. I kind of spoiled that on my Twitter. Actually, I was going to write about this game last week. Yet, my schedule didn’t clear up enough to be able to write this article. In any case, if you have read my blog before; you should know that I’m a big fan of the Ace Attorney series. It’s one of my favorite visual novel/adventure games ever made. I was hyped for this game. I tried to avoid the news about this game so I could go in without any spoilers. I’m currently mid-way the game. If you worry about spoilers, don’t worry. I tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible. Oh, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Go and visit (trouble)

pwaa_spirit_of_justice_screens_06_bmp_jpgcopy_thumbIn this game, Phoenix goes abroad and visits the kingdom of Khura’in. Phoenix is goal is to visit his old friend Maya after she finished her special training.

But you guessed it, it doesn’t take long before Phoenix finds himself in a courtroom. But in the country of Khura’in, there is a lot of hate towards lawyers.

The plot of the first and second case are amazing. While it’s a shame that the killer is spoiled in the first case in the intro, the build-up is very good. I loved the set-up of the second case. And the start of the third case made me tear up. If you played the whole Ace Attorney series over the years and then play the third case, you will understand what I mean. The character reveal and the music that starts playing is just lovely.

The writing in this game is very good. If you like how the other Ace Attorney games are written, you will love the writing of this game for sure.

Compared to the previous game, there is a lot less voice acting in this game. The voice acting is mostly reserved for some small scenes, the “hold it”/”objection” shouts and the anime cutscenes. The voice acting is superb in this game. Yet, there is one voice that I didn’t 100% like. It’s the prosecutors voice of the first case. He sounds too feminine to my liking. But hey, that’s nitpicking. So far, so good in the writing and voice acting department.

Familiar yet fresh

20160512_005526_thumbThe soundtrack of this game is in my opinion good. It offers a lot of remixes of older tracks, but it also offers some new tracks. So far, there isn’t one track that I didn’t like.

I think I might try and hunt down the soundtrack of this game to add to my collection. It’s lovely to listen to while I’m writing or researching for articles.

The sound design of this game is top-notch. The music sounds great and all the sound effects sound great too. They both add a lot to the atmosphere.

If you play this game, I personally recommend headphones. Since it adds a lot to the atmosphere of this game and it makes the impact of some scenes even better in my opinion.

Something I have to praise this game for is the visual presentation. The characters and environment are just eye-candy. The animation in this game is very good as well. There are even little details in the animation that make it even better. I have played only a little bit with the 3D feature on, so I’m not going to comment about that.

The only thing I would have changed is that some text boxes display their text a little bit too slow. I was mashing the buttons of my 3DS to try and speed it up. Thankfully, there is a message log so I can read the text again if I skipped it too fast.

The controls of this game are almost perfect. I would only add an option to move the investigation cursor with the D-pad, but that’s a nitpick. The controls in the Ace Attorney game have been and are always great.

Is it this statement?

010330s007There are two sections to the gameplay. You have the investigation section and you have the trail section. This is like every other Ace Attorney game. The special abilities of every character return in this game.

I’m so glad that this game doesn’t force experienced players to read and sit through an explanation of the mechanic. You get the option to get a “refresher course” or not. I personally choose to have the refresher course each and every time. The way the writers wrote the tutorial in… well, it made some rather funny dialogue.

There is one new game mechanic. I honestly think it’s a great addition. It mostly helps to build tension in the story. I’m looking forward to play around with the mechanic in the rest of the game.

I have one nitpick with the investigations is that some spots are so tiny and easily overlooked, I got stuck once for almost an hour because I missed one spot. But hey, after I found it… I could slap me on the head for overlooking it.

The difficulty in this game is very balanced. Each case gets more complicated and each case gets more difficult. When you are stuck during the trail, you can get a hint. Your partner will tell you which statement contains a lie. It’s for you to figure out which piece of evidence proves that the witness is lying. And if you don’t want this feature, you can disable it in the option menu.

The last thing I want to talk about in this game is the UI. And it’s good. The only complaint I have is that I don’t find the option easily to apply the costume DLC.

To wrap up, I think that the things I would change in this game are rather minor. So far, this game has been a blast. But, this game is not for everyone. If you dislike reading long dialogues between characters; stay away from this game. Because it has lots of that.

So far, the game is amazing. I hope that the second part of this game doesn’t ruin it. But hey, if it does, I’ll complain about it in my review.

So, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS) ~ Let’s play a game, shall we?

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

If you didn’t expect this game to get an article this week, you might have missed all my clues on Twitter. I was extremely hyped for this game and it’s finally here! This game has got a rocky development and it was almost canceled. For the people who don’t know this series, let me quickly introduce this game. This game is the 3rd installment in the excellent Zero Escape series on (3)DS and PSVita. It’s a horror visual novel game with escape the room puzzles. These games should be played in order to fully enjoy them. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons and 9 Doors was the first one. The second one was Virtue’s Last Reward. Both excellent games. This game is on the 3DS eShop, PSVita and also released on the PC. In any case, enough rambling in this introduction. It’s time to talk about this game and what I think about it. Was it worth the hype & wait or does it stink? Let’s find out. Keep in mind, I’m playing the 3DS version and I don’t own the other versions. Oh, and don’t worry, I selected the screenshots and wrote this article to be as spoiler free as possible. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Different game style

The story this time around isn’t about a nonary game like in the previous entries. While it isn’t 100% needed to play the previouzero time dilemmas games, but it’s highly recommend. Since a lot of references and explanations will be very confusing otherwise.

Something that I found really surprising is that this game isn’t linear, at all. You can play sequences out of order. You would think that this would make a confusing story, but thankfully… They thought about that. There is a story mechanic that helps playing this story driven game out of order.

I have played this game for a bit now and I’m nowhere near finished. The current plot points and twists I already saw were mind-blowing. The writing in this game is truly amazing. It pulls me into its world with ease. One time, I was so focused on the story, I almost missed my stop. I had to dash to get outside the train.

I’m really curious how the story will wrap up, since Virtue’s Last Reward ended with a huge cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to that.

The final thing I want to say about the story is that I’m really thankful that some terms and mechanics of the previous games are quickly explained. It helps me when I had forgotten something from the previous games.

In the previous entry, Virtue’s Last Reward there was a nasty saving bug. It was, as far as I know, only present in the 3DS version. It happened in one room and in certain situations. If you saved then, your save would get corrupted and you had to start all over.

Thankfully, Aksys learned its lesson and implemented three save slots in this game. But so far, I haven’t encountered any problems with saving. Also, three save slots make sense since you can play this game out of order.

The music in this game is very good. While it uses a couple of tracks from the previous game, the new tracks are pretty nice to listen too. The music feels similar but is unique too. It fits the scary and tense atmosphere the story is trying to set.

The sound design is pretty well done, I have no complaints there. So far, so good. The only complaint I have is that, on the default settings, the music overpowers the voice acting from time to time. But it’s easily fixed with putting the volume of the music a bit down.

Not so much reading anymore?

zero time dilemma 2In the two previous entries, you could read everything. From time to time, it was more a novel then a game. But not in this game, almost everything is voice acted. The parts that aren’t voice acted are the dialogues inside the puzzle rooms.

I’m not 100% happy with that. Honestly, I’m 90% happy with it, but sometimes I miss the atmospheric writing that detailed how the main character felt or gave more details about the situation.

I have to praise this game for its voice acting. I’m playing this game with the English voice acts and they sound awesome! Sometimes, the emotions of the characters really shine through. I really felt that the voice actors really put a lot of effort into this game and gave it more than their best.

Something I think is the weakest point in this game is some visual issues. In some cutscenes, I felt that the characters were too static. I honestly think, that if Uchikoshi (writer / developer of the series) had more staff and money, it would look a whole lot better.

Also, some textures could have been polished up a bit more. For example, there is an emblem on one of the characters his shirt, and you can barely make it out what it is. Or in another scene, somebody looks at a carpet on the floor. When the camera looks down, I almost felt that they used the fill tool in a paint program. Or in some cutscenes, the hair or eyebrows of some characters are clipping with something. Which is a shame.

All in all, the finer details could have been polished a bit more. While the animations are pretty good, there is barely any animation where two people do something together.

Don’t get me wrong here, visually this game looks stunning on the 3DS. While some people found it a bummer that they dropped 3D support, I don’t mind. Apart from lacking some polish; the escape rooms, characters, cutscenes and environments look crisp and detailed. I also truly love the style they used in this game.

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

So, this game is still a puzzle game. The escape rooms are really challenging this zero time dilemma 3time around. In the previous games, I almost never got stuck in a room or on a puzzle. But this time around, some of  the rooms are real brain teasers in my opinion.

This game can be very difficult if you don’t see the solution to the puzzle. I do have to agree with the other reviewers, this game really lacks a hint system. Like the “Easy mode” in Virtue’s Last Reward, where some of your companion characters almost literally explained what you needed to do.

The controls of this game are very good. Apart from some minor issues I had in some rooms with the touch screen, I found that the controls were, like I said earlier, very good. A small piece of advice from me, I feel that the buttons work a bit better when you need to move the camera from point a to point b. When you need to press something finer, use the stylus. That’s the best way to play this game in my eyes.

From what I have seen, this game is a very long game. This is a very good thing, since this game has it’s hooks into to me.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I also like to talk about the UI/menu systems. Since I feel that they are important. The menu system in this game is almost perfect. Something that bugs me is that you can use the d-pad to navigate the general flow chart, but if you switch to the 2nd flow chart (where they display pictures of the event), you suddenly can’t do that anymore.

There was also one time that I had to input a few passwords that were said earlier. I forgot to wrote them down and suddenly I was unable to open the logs. So, I had to restart that segment.

In first impression of this game is pretty good. The game we got is amazing. Yet, the fact that this game was made by a small group shows its signs. I honestly think this game would have looked a lot better when they had a bigger team and a bigger budget. Maybe this game gets some polish with a patch or two. But honestly, I don’t think the game NEEDS it. Since it has a certain charm that I think would get lost.

@Uchikoshi, if you or somebody on your staff reads this… I have a message for you guys and girls. Thank you for creating this game. I bought it on day one and I’m really pleased with it. While there are somethings that could have been improved, the end result is an amazing game. I wish you girls and guys the best. Here is to a 4th game in the series or an equally awesome new project. I really love the series you made! If you don’t make a sequel, I’m hoping that you make a new game and/or series. I’m so looking forward to it.

I wish I could say more, but then I would go into spoiler territory. Also, I haven’t finished the game so my final opinion might change. I’m planning to write a full review when I have beaten this game. So yeah, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!~

 

Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

Fantasy_life_e3_2014_screenshot3

So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

2

The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: The Visual Novel

Photo-2014-08-21-17-31-45Lately, I see various games appearing on Steam. Visual novels. That interests me quite a lot. But the let down is huge when I find out that it are kinetic novels. What is a visual novel actually and why is it such an underrated game genre? I want to talk about my favorite game genre in this article and hopefully make some of you guys interested in the visual novel genre. As usual, feel free to write a comment about the visual novel games and or the content of this article.

What makes a game a visual novel?

999-.9.Hours.9.Persons.9.Doors.full.934360So, when is a game a visual novel? It’s quite logical that a visual novel is more of a novel then a game. When the novel isn’t interactive, you have a kinetic novel. A kinetic novel is a novel that a movie you can read.

A visual novel has interaction. Sometimes “repetitive actions” and sometimes not. Virtue’s Last Reward for example always has the same gameplay. Solve the puzzle to find the solution to open the safe. Corpse Party on the other hand isn’t repetitive. You have to try and find the other survivors.

A visual novel could be easily confused with a very heavy story driven RPG. Those two genres are two similar, yet different genres. Since visual novels play more on the imagination of the player instead of the skills. If you have ever played an Ace Attorney game, you might have noticed that there isn’t much animation outside the characters. It’s the writing that pulls people in.

Underrated

screen_pacifist

What do I like so much about visual novels? I can’t really explain. I think the reason is that I feel more as the main character of a story. I feel that my fate is already planned out and that I have to look for the right path.

Now visual novels nearly have always one solution. Even when a game has different endings, you will most likely come across the final true ending.

Games nowadays are getting “lazy”. The graphics try to paint the most beautiful picture and the sound and music tries to blow you off your chair. But visual novels, that isn’t the goal. You don’t get fancy graphics, you mostly get static images and text boxes.

Somehow, visual novels have the power to make you come invested in a story more then other games have. I rarely felt touched by an amazing game when there wasn’t a deep story. When I’m playing a visual novel, it’s very hard for other games to distract me out of that trance. Visual novels are that good in my opinion.

 Visual novels try to pull the gamers in with clever writing. They don’t try to make it a massive big show, they create an interesting plot line. Think about it this way, how many times did you start to loose interest in the side quests or the side goals and started to go for the main goals in a game?

Maybe it’s just my interest. My favorite game genre is adventures and my favorite subgenre is visual novel. Since I’m interested in interesting stories and such. I can’t honestly really answer why, but I think that visual novels deserve more credit then they get. It has it’s issues of course, like for some people there is too much text, but hey, name me one genre that doesn’t have issues.

Anyways, to close off this article, let’s take a short look at 2 great visual novels I played in my life.

Examples

The Walking Dead

The-Walking-Dead-Game-Dev-Wants-Suggestions-for-Potential-Second-Season-2

Even when I’m not a fan of the series, you got to give it to this game. TellTale Games makes excellent modern visual novels. While the typical text boxes aren’t there, the main focus is the story and how your choices influences the outcome.

It’s a great and modern example of an excellent visual novel. Too bad it doesn’t interest me as much as other visual novels do. If you want to know why I’m not such a fan, you might want to read my first impression. But my buddy Zach (aka Dark_Legend) is a big fan of it, so you might want to read his articles about it.

Ghost Trick

Ghost_Trick_EU

In this game you play as a death cop and you have to solve your own murder. The catch is that you can rewind time to save somebodies life. With this power you try to figure out who wanted you dead.

This game is tricky to place. It’s a visual novel alright but the gameplay… is it a puzzle game? Action game? Adventure game? I don’t really know.

I wish CapCom announced a sequel of this game since it’s a good game. Not only the story but the gameplay was rather interesting. I liked the idea very much and I wish the game was a bit longer.

Closing thoughts

Most visual novels are rather lengthy. I haven’t seen a visual novel you would be able to finish in a week. Actually, I have seen one as the exception on the rule. Time Hollow.

The most irritating thing is getting stuck in these games. Since you don’t have to grind or anything of that nature, getting stuck can get even the most veteran visual novel player to put down the game.

It’s quite clear that I’m not done talking about visual novels. I have some other things I want to mention but that will be for another article. I want to compare the visual novel genre with other genres. Or it might be an idea for a podcast.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading and hopefully I can welcome you at another article. Take care.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Pokémon Rom Hacks

Game Boys Advance So, this month I’m not writing a special for the game music. So, I decided to write another special article. Since I did some research on the GBA rom hacks already, I decided that it’s maybe a great idea if I wrote an article about GBA Pokémon rom hacks. I promised it various times on Tumblr. But then some setbacks happened and I decided to delay the article. So, today it’s finally getting written. The first part of the possibly multiple parts where I take a look at Pokémon Rom Hacks. 

Pokémon Light Platinum

Pokemon_Light_Platinum_BoxArtSo, when I was first preparing for this article I wanted to first write a full game review of a Pokémon rom hack. But since my save file of Pokémon Light Platinum kinda corrupted on me, my motivation for this article went out of the window.

Now, I do want to start over with this game. I remember that it was quite fun to play. This hack used the already existing Pokémon to it’s advantage by including new Pokémon. Well, not exactly new… I’m quite sure that the creators of the hack overwrote some Pokémon since the version I played had messed up Pokémon cries.

If you read about Pokémon rom hacks, this hack is one of the most popular ones. While I think some idea’s should make it to a real Pokémon game, honestly… I don’t think that would be a great idea. I’ll explain in my next paragraph why.

Can Nintendo learn from the hacks?

thumbs_pokemon_flora_sky_05

In a way, they can learn from the Pokémon rom hacks but they shouldn’t borrow ideas from them. It’s a strange thing to say, but hear me out out. A hack hasn’t always balanced gameplay, what mainstream Pokémon games generally have.

Honestly, I can’t really put my finger on it why, but my writer-gut-feeling is shouting NO while my gamer-gut-feeling is shouting YES. Things they could learn is that there are people working creative with the universe and maybe do some fan-service by putting in an easteregg in a main series game.

The sad thing is that most Pokémon rom hacks are never finished. They are always buggy. From strange graphical glitches to bad sounds. So, trying to get the actual ideas out of the games, polishing them up and putting them in a main series game would maybe cost too much time.

What I’m happy about is that Nintendo isn’t trying to stop this from happening. Think about it, it’s a good way to keep people hooked on the series. Honestly, I never played so much Pokémon games in my life since I started playing Pokémon rom hacks. But not all rom hacks are the same, in my opinion there are roughly 4 categories.

1. Crappy hacks

2. Visual hacks

3. Full hacks

4. Full hacks with visual hacks.

Maybe some of you guys figured out what the difference is between the 4 categories. Don’t worry if you haven’t done that already, I’ll explain in the next section of this article. You ready?

 Categories of hacks

Pokemon Underworld 1.0 Beta

The first kind, the crappy hacks are hacks that aren’t challenging or fun to play. Hacks where they change the starter Pokémon to a legendary one so that you blast through the whole game, that takes the experience out of the game. Crappy hacks, those are the ones you need to avoid.

The 2nd kind are visual hacks. While I haven’t seen many for the gameboy advance, I found a lot for the old 1st and 2nd gen games. Hacks where all the human sprites are changed with Pokémon sprites. Those can be okay, but I get bored of them.

The 3rd kind are the best in my opinion. Ones where they made a new world to explore but didn’t change may Pokémon around. If they added existing Pokémon, the game still falls into this category.

The 4th kind is such a balancing act. Hacks with new worlds that add made-up Pokémon. I have played a Pokémon hack that added anime characters instead of Pokémon. It was fun, but then the references started and I was completely lost.

My thoughts on hacking a game

Let me be clear here. I’m not talking about hacking a game in order to cheat your way through. That’s something completely different and a subject for another article. Honestly, I think that hacking a game and making your own game is a great thing.

It helps to expand the lifetime of a game before it becomes boring in the fans their eyes. You get to play the adventures other people crafted in the universe.

But most of all, it boosts your skills when you make a hack yourself. You learn to program and fix bugs. You learn to manage a project, which isn’t always easy.

But there is also a negative side to this trend. It opens the world of emulation to people who weren’t aware that it existed. It can also be used to make fun of Pokémon and many other things.

What makes a good hack?

I have played many hacks before I started writing this article. I have come up with some rules that make a good Pokémon hack in my eyes. First of all, you need to have good basic English. If there are typo’s or grammar mistakes, that isn’t so bad… But I when you play hacks with broken English, the immersion and progress comes to a halt.

Secondly, try to pay attention your game design. What I mean here is that you make a game that’s playable and fun. Not one where you need to search for a walkthrough online each and every town. Balance your game and have some variation in your game. Some people play Pokémon hacks to play something different, yet similar to the Pokémon games. Don’t go overboard with the legendary Pokémon either.

Something that adds value is that when you add your own HM’s or TM’s, that they can be used in more then just one cave. Otherwise I feel that they are a missed oppertunity.

Anyways, I think I have talked enough about this subject for now. While I know that this an abrupt ending, but I want to do even more research before I come back to this subject. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to talk about my thoughts in the comments, I will reply to every one. Also, don’t ask me how to get any Pokémon hacks, that is something you will have to Google. Since there is one part in playing Pokémon hacks that’s illegal, which is downloading a rom. Yeah.

Anyways, thanks for reading and hopefully until another article.

Review #032: 999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors (DS) ~ Zero Escape

999Wikipedia entry

How can I forget to write a review about this game? I have reviewed the sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward quite some time ago. I might have talked about this game here and there, and I might even have selected a track or two for my favorite music tracks ever in games. But, I never wrote a full review on it. Let me fix that. The reason why the title says “Zero Escape” is because this game is the first game in the Zero Escape series. I’m truly crossing my fingers that there will be a third entry into it. I remember that they are actually working on it. So, to support this series and to celebrate this month’s theme: (3)DS games, let’s take a look at the game that started this series. And feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. Warning, this game is a visual novel puzzle-adventure game. Because of the game being very plot-driven, I have posted screenshots and wrote this article with avoiding spoilers as much as I could. 

Numbers

gfs_174053_2_60The story in this game is simply the best part in this game. I already said in the introduction, that this game is very story driven. So, I will only give you a brief introduction. You play as Junpei, who is kidnapped and trapped in a room. As soon as you wake up, you have to solve a puzzle to escape your room. When you run into the main hall, you discover that you are trapped with 8 other people. You are able to be part of the Nonary game. And if you break the rules of this game, you will die or rather, explode. Oh, and don’t forget, the actual mastermind behind all of this is one of the group.

If you read the intro, you might have a lot of questions. But do yourself a favor and don’t look up more of the story then what I just told you. The story is really tense, memorable and a blast to read through. The best part is that this game is replayable. Since you will need to make crucial decisions that will change the ending of the game.

When you have a certain ending, it’s quite possible that you get some sort of cryptic bonus video. But, here is a small tip. That video is more then just a bonus video. Analyse it well, and you will understand what I mean.

What can I say about the story without spoiling it? I already said that it was very thrilling and a blast to read through. The characters are really memorable and there will be some you will start to love and others you will start to hate. The most fun thing in this game is trying to discover who Zero is. Since you have to play through this game multiple times, you will have more information then Junpei, but I have to admit, that I was off when the actual conclusion came around.

The game in a game.

51427-9_Hours,_9_Persons,_9_Doors_(U)-5

So, the gameplay. This is how escape games on Android should be. In each room, you will be presented with a puzzle. In this puzzle, you will be challenged to escape the room. Even when you played through this game several times, it’s quite possible that you can get stuck on a puzzle you solved earlier. Because there might always be that one item you look over each and every time.

I had a lot of fun playing through this game when it was released and I had a lot of fun playing through this game when I was replaying it for you guys. The puzzles keep being challenging. They are one of the best puzzles I have seen in a visual novel game in quite a while.

The major issue, that was thankfully fixed in the sequel, is that when you want to try and go for another ending. Then you have to replay the whole game. The story tree of the sequel is an amazing help. Since it’s a bit confusing because some routes end up at the same ending.

I do recommend playing through this game to unlock all endings. Even when you have seen the true ending. I have heard people reaching the true ending on their 2nd or 3rd try. I have my doubts that’s possible, but I think I’m wrong on that. Thankfully, there is a handy way to keep track of which endings you have already seen in the game on your save file. That’s a handy feature.

Perfect?

999_screenshotYes, this game comes so close to be a perfect game on DS. I already talked about how the game has some issues when playing through for each playthrough beyond the 2nd.

The final puzzle of the true ending is very anti-climatic. I won’t spoil what it is, but the build up of this puzzle is just lame. If you see it, you will totally get what I mean. I actually face palmed when I saw it.

What shows that this game is nearly perfect is the music. I totally love the soundtrack of this game. It’s really tense and it builds the right atmosphere. When I hear it today, I get the chills. The memories of what happened in the game. Man, it’s nice. If the music of a game can be that strong.

The game can be a chore for people who don’t like to read long dialogue parts. If you are somebody who skips cutscenes or goes to the bathroom while a dialogue happens, this game might not be for you.

Also, when maths isn’t your strong point, you might want to use the calculator that’s build into the game often. Since various puzzles require solving a math problem.

Anyways, I have said everything I wanted about this game. Let’s get on with the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Replaying through the whole game just to get the other endings.

– The final puzzle is very anti-climatic.

(- The voice acting in the sequel just builds the atmosphere that much more.)

The good:

+ Memorable soundtrack.

+ Epic story.

+ Fun gameplay.

+ They made a visual novel replayable!

+ Memorable characters.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

Since I listen often to the soundtrack of this game and I look forward for more news on the Zero Escape series, I think it’s well deserved that this game gets the highest score. Since all the flaws are crushed by the positives elements of this game! You owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this game and give it a try. Any good gameshop now-a-days has warranty on their products so if you don’t like it, you can give it back.

The story, the music, the setting, the puzzles and the design. These things just all fit together to make an excellent visual novel experience worth every penny.

I can understand that people find the game repetitive in some areas or that the game is too full of talking, but I honestly think that the game is one of the best games ever made on the Nintendo DS.

Score: 100/100

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

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

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

I open my eyes, to another day.

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

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

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

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

Taking back what was mine.

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

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

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

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

In the end

3196a

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

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

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

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

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

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

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

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

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

Score: 75/100