Tag Archives: voice

Review: Captain Disaster in: Death Has A Million Stomping Boots (PC) ~ In Outer space We Click

captain disaster death has a millionOfficial Itch.io page

Besides visual novels, one of my favorite genres is the adventure & point-and-click genre. Games like Broken Sword, Another Code R, Time Hollow and Adera to name just a few are amazing games. When I got invited to take a look at an indie point-and-click game, I didn’t hesitate twice. The game is a labor of love created by two developers, which makes it even more impressive. While I got a review copy of this game, but the developers wanted that I give my 100% honest opinion. And that’s this article, my 100% honest opinion. In any case, the captain needs us. Since he is going on another wacky adventure. And per usual, feel free to leave a comment about the content of this article and/or this game in the comment section down below.

 In outer space, we click.

Captian Disaster 3As I already mentioned, this game is an adventure point-and-click game. The game is similar to games like Escape From Monkey Island or Broken Sword were the focus is less on the story but more on solving the puzzles in your way to progress the story.

In this game, you take on the role of the quirky Captain Disaster. He is tasked with delivering a package from one planet to another. Now, what the Captain doesn’t know is that the package is actually quite dangerous and has the potential to bring the whole galaxy in a lot of trouble.

It’s quite obvious that this game drew a lot of inspiration from the old school LucasArts and Sierra games. The humor is very similar to a game from Monkey Island and some parts even reminded me of Revolution Software’s Broken Sword series.

The story of this game is one where you don’t need to take it too seriously. While there is a lot of sci-fi in this game, the game doesn’t go overboard with exposition dumps or trying to explain every single detail or mechanic in the world. It’s a breath of fresh air to not have to learn a ton of new terms to be able to understand the game and/or the world.

Now, I know that this game didn’t had a huge development budget. It’s even referenced in the game itself. But I feel that the voice acting could have been better. The voice acting is not bad nor is it good. There are a lot of great moments in the voice acting. For example, the alien language and sounds are consistent and sound like an actual language. But, the voice acting makes in my opinion a fatal flaw.

Besides playing games and writing articles for this blog, one of my main hobbies Is acting in stage plays in a folk theatre group. One thing I learned is how to put intonation in your voice. When I listened to the voice acting again as if I was watching a stage play, I noticed with the voice acting sounded off to me. Some parts of the voice acting is too monotone. Now, the actual voices and accents of the voice work is well done but I felt the voice actors could have put a lot more intonation in their voice work. Especially when a whole dialogue is spoken at the some tone for minutes, then a bit more intonation would have been welcome.

Compare it to a teacher that’s explaining a subject in class. A good teacher puts intonation in their voice to try and get the attention of the students. When a teacher constantly speaks in the same tone, the students will get bored or worse, fall asleep.

Also, in some area’s… some dialogues weren’t audio mixed too well. I had a few spots were some voice over was louder then all the other voice overs.

Now, if you don’t like the voice acting, you can turn that off in the options menu. You can choose between either subtitles, voice over or both. I played throughout the whole game with both. I only noticed in the introduction of the game that two lines of voice over didn’t have a subtitle. Right when the lights go out.

In this game you explore various locations like a rubbish dump, a robot bar and your own space ship. The pacing of this game is rather well done. Except, one minor thing bugged me. The lengths of the acts are a bit off. The second act was extremely short. One you knew what to do, you were able to blaze through it. While the first and third act took me a bit longer.

Now, in outer space we click. And we don’t only click, we find a lot of references. There are a lot of references to franchises like Futurama, Star Wars, Jaws and Space Odyssey to just name a few of them. To be honest, there are a bit too much references for my taste. But, it’s something personal since I’m not that familiar with all the source material it’s referencing. I have played other games with a lot of references like The Legend of Zelda – Spirit Tracks that had a lot of references to previous games in the series and I quite enjoyed that. So yeah, I wasn’t the right crowd for all the references but I’m sure that fans of sci-fi will get a kick out of them.

Look, I’m an artist!

Captian Disaster 2You might have noticed it from the screenshots but the visual presentation gives off a dated impression. And this is on purpose. The visual presentation is a throwback to the older point-and-click games like Space Quest and King’s Quest. In my opinion, the visual presentation has a certain retro charm to it. It really adds to the atmosphere and charm that the developers wanted with their game. It really fits the game as a glove. Now, the trade off for that is that this art style will turn off some players. It’s a shame really.

The animations as well are pretty basic. But, this isn’t a bad thing. It still adds to the charm. I really like it when games that have a retro inspired art style don’t use animations that wouldn’t be possible in that area. So, great job on that!

There are a few minor visual things that could have been improved. For example, the arrows to the sides don’t always change when there is more in your inventory then what’s able to be displayed. Another example is that the “BACK” button in the pause menu, the “K” looks a bit too much like an “H”. And a final example, the “L” in the title cards of the acts miss the top line of the texture which make them stand out a bit too much. Now, all in all, these are minor things. These don’t hinder the experience of the game too much in my opinion.

Yet, there is one part of the visual presentation that could have been improved. At the start of the second act, I got stuck. I didn’t realize you were able to go the left to another area. It would be quite helpful if either the arrow point changed or if there was something visual to show that there was a door. There are a few area’s that have this issue. In the Robot Bar for example, I didn’t know you had another room to the right you could go right away too. Since the area looks like it’s roped off. Yet, sometimes when I go to the edge of the screen, the game tells me that I can go to another area.

Another minor nitpick is that when you click on an item and you click on the menu, the item will still be in use. But, this only happened to me twice during the whole playthrough.

ZB, Come in! We have a puzzle here!

Captian Disaster 1In this game, you will get a lot of crazy things in your inventory. If you ever get stuck, the method of trying everything on anything always works. Some puzzles were quite annoying to solve. For example, there is a puzzle where you need to place 5 things on a motherboard, but when you click on a place where the components won’t go, you will need to reselect them.

All in all, this game isn’t too difficult and not too long. This game took me around 4 – 5 hours to complete. I was able to fully complete this game without touching my keyboard apart from giving a name to my save files. Now, this game does have an autosave but I saves on some weird locations. For example, it saves right near the end of the first chapter but it doesn’t save automatically at the start of the second chapter. So, do yourself a favor and save manually.

The controls for this game are quite simple. You click with the left mouse button to interact with the world. You can use the right mouse click to inspect an item. You will need to inspect a lot of things for clues on what you need to do in order for you to progress. Also, you will need to combine some items. Personally, I kept some notes on what I needed to do in order to progress. It helped me to get through a lot of puzzles.

Now, something I really missed was the ability to move the captain with something else then the mouse. There are a few timed puzzles and it would have been a great if I was able to move him with the arrow keys. It would have been especially helpful with the last section of the game since you needed to go off screen and it wasn’t always clear if the captain was still walking or not.

Most likely due to the engine of this game, ALT+F4 and things of those nature doesn’t work. You can ALT+TAB out of the game but if you want to close the game, you will have to go through the very easy to use menu system. You can open the menu system by clicking the gear icon in the upper right of your screen.

The music in this game is hit and miss in my opinion. There are a few tracks I really liked but there were bits of the soundtrack that I didn’t like at all. Thankfully, there were no sound effects that are bad. These were all pretty good.

Before I go to my final thoughts of this game and this review, I want to mention something funny. Some games have this quirk while others don’t have this quirk. When you need to move a character with your mouse and the animation is bound to the mouse click, that means if you spam click, the animation resets. It was quite funny to see the captain sort of floating or shuffling instead of walking when I spam clicked around.

If you think that this game is interesting, this game only costs 9 dollars. But, if you want to try it first, there is a demo of the first hour of the game up on the official website of the game. Go and check it out. But now, it’s time ZB. Time for my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The automatic save system could have been better.
  • The visuals on where you can go aren’t always there.
  • The voice over work could have used a bit more work. Sound mixing and a bit too flat and monotone.

The good:

+ Charming visual design.

+ Great puzzles.

+ Goofy story.

+ The amount of references.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Now, is this game bad? No. Is this game good? Almost. If there was a bit more polish to the visual presentation and the voice over work, I would say that this game is good. Now, I found it a pretty decent point-and-click adventure game.

It’s not the worst nor is it the best I have ever played. But, I still do recommend this game to avid fans of retro games and especially of old school point-and-click adventures. It’s impressive that most of this game is created by two developers and it got this result. It clearly shows that this game has been created as a labor of love. It actually made me want to play and take a look at the other games in the series.

I want to thank the developers of this game to introduce me to this game. It was a great ride to play this game. I think you are on the right track in making amazing games but there is still a lot of room for improvement. I think you are ready to push the next games of the captain even further. To make them even better and to give him an even crazier adventure.

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

Score: 70/100

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Review: Adera (PC) ~ Let’s Rescue Grandfather!

AderaSteam store page – Microsoft Store

During a spring cleaning, my mom found her old Windows Surface RT tablet back. She didn’t need it anymore but I saw some use in it. After I reset the tablet to it’s factory settings, I set the whole thing up. It would be a tablet I used to start writing articles while I was on the go and also to take notes during gameplay. I have an Asus Zenpad 8.0 S for that as well, but this tablet was bigger and had Word built in. Now, this tablet can also play games. And that’s a second reason why I saw a use for this tablet. And a 3rd reason is because I just enjoy toying around with old hardware and tech. Now, one of the first games I started playing on this tablet was Adera. I recently finished this game and today I want to talk about it. Let’s go and have that adventure in the Adera. 

Let’s rescue Grandfather!

Adera - 1In this adventure hidden object game, you take on the role of Jane. Jane’s grandfather got himself into trouble and sent a distress letter to Jane. When Jane goes to try and find him together with her partner Hawk, their helicopter crashes in the middle of a desert. It’s there that Jane’s adventure starts. Together with the mysterious orb that she received from the package of her grandfather.

The story of this game is decent. The writing is well done and the pacing as well, but if you have played fantasy adventure games, the story won’t bring a lot new to the table. Now, I did still enjoy the story in this game. My biggest complaint is that it could have been so much more. The world and the setting have so much more potential to be explored.

Now, if you decide to play this game, I highly recommend that you play this game with the original voice acting. The English voice acting is quite well done in my opinion. But, most likely because of the region settings of my Microsoft Account, when I play this game on my desktop instead of my Surface, the voice acting is in Dutch. Now, I have nothing against the Dutch voice actors in this game but after I had experienced the English voices, I found the English voice over a lot better.

The following issue with the game is most likely because of the aging Windows RT hardware, but I had moments where the game’s text was sometimes in English and sometimes in Dutch. But, when the menu appeared in Dutch, some text was repeated several times. Take a look at this screenshot for example:

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At the bottom left, it says: “Rate Adera!Rate Adera!Rate Adera!”. And there are a few other sections in the game that have the same issue. So, to avoid visual messes like that, I highly recommend that if you are interested in this game, that you buy it on Steam. You won’t have the issue where the game tries to display in another language and you have the best voice over work. I even bought the Steam version of this game for this review to do some further research.

But this review will mostly focus on the Windows Store version because that’s the one I played and finished. Now, something I can’t hold against the game was the fact that I played it on aging hardware. I played this game on the Windows Surface RT running Windows 8.1. Due to a bug in one of the updates, the Windows Store doesn’t work, so I had to reset the tablet multiple times. Each time, I had to download each and every episode. Now, the downloading and installing of these episodes took a long time. Maybe because the WiFi card and the hard disk inside the tablet is quite slow.

Thankfully, this game has an autosave in the cloud when you connect this game with your XBOX account. So, even when I had to reset my tablet to factory settings, download and install the game and the episodes all over again, I didn’t loose any progress. This is quite surprising to me and a very nice feature.

Now, I want to talk about something but I’m going to spoil something of the ending. If you are alright with that or if you have finished the game, feel free to highlight the following part. Otherwise, just scroll a bit down so you can skip the spoiler. So, here comes the spoiler: Something that really annoys me is the fact that there is a “season 1”. This implies that the game is going to get a season 2 or even 3. Because the cliffhanger at the end and multiple unanswered questions, the game feels incomplete. Now, the game is released in 2015 and the social media accounts have gone silent. So, I don’t think we will ever know what happened to grandfather after he got kidnapped… again. Now, the game got a re-release on Steam in 2018, so there is hope that we get a continuation of the story in the future… Who knows.

Windows Surface RT

Adera - 2Now yes, I might have played this game on aging hardware, but I actually enjoyed the fact that I was able to make use of the unique feature of this game. I think this feature is also in the Android and iOS versions of the game but the fact that the game supports touch controls is just amazing. Also, the fact that there are gyrocontrols for this game is amazing. When I moved the tablet around, the in game camera moved around as well. It was almost like I was controlling where Jane was looking by physically moving the tablet. The Steam version does not support this. Well, I might support it, but I don’t have a laptop has supports this kind of feature.

Anyways, because this game focuses on touch controls, the controls are a bit awkward when you decide to play this game with a mouse. Because you either swipe or physically move your device to look around in several area’s in order to find items and solve puzzles. That’s something that isn’t easily done with a mouse. Now, you can simulate a swipe with the mouse, but it feels different. Yet, I was able to get used to it while playing around with the Steam version after a while.

Now, let’s focus on the gameplay of Adera for a moment. If you have ever played those adventure games with hidden object scenes, you will feel right at home in this game. There are a few types of puzzles in this game. The first type of puzzle are the hidden object puzzles. In these puzzles, you are tasked with finding a handful of items in picture. There is a punishment when you spamclick on the picture. The screen will “break” and you are unable to click for a certain amount of time.

A second type of puzzles has to do with the mysterious orb that Jane received from her grandfather. This orb can do some strange things but in order for it to do that, you have to solve different puzzles. Speaking of the orb puzzles, there was one style of puzzles I truly hated with a passion. There is a puzzle where you have to tap the symbols at a correct time. When you tapped them at the correct time, you were able to progress one space in the puzzle. But, if you tapped them too early or too late, that means one space back for you. Thankfully, you are able to skip these puzzles. This means that I’m unable to complete some achievements, but rather that then being frustrated at a puzzle. Now, why did I hate this puzzle? Because for this puzzle you need to have a certain sense of rhythm and that’s something I don’t really have. The puzzle itself works just fine.

A third type of puzzle in this game is the fact that there are a lot and I really mean, a lot of hidden items in the game. There are close to a 180 optional items hidden all over the game.  From masks, pieces of clothing, coins, artifacts, butterflies to special items. There are even more items to collect. You can always see the items you have collected in the collection section of the main menu. These are separated in different sections giving you a hint in which episode you missed an object. And these items are truly hidden. After I had finished the game, I only found a bit over 80% of all the items. And I thought I was very good in finding these objects. To be honest, this is an interesting way to add a little bit of replay value to this really linear game.

The fourth and final type of puzzle are the fact that certain obstacles block your way. In order to progress you will have to find items. Some of these items are hidden in the hidden object puzzles and some can be found by exploring the area. The best way to compare these puzzles is with the gameplay of games like Broken Sword.

The game might be more on the casual side of things, but that doesn’t take away that the game is rather enjoyable. I really liked exploring the areas the game threw me in and finding the items to solve the puzzles. All the while I was looking around for hidden collectibles. I have played a lot of hidden object adventure games and this game is one of the better I have played. The fact that there are additional things to do like the hidden collectibles and the various achievements you can get is refreshing and great fun.

Something I really liked about the Windows Store version is the fact that I bought the collectors edition of this game. In this collectors edition of the game, there are various wallpapers and pieces of concept art. The whole soundtrack of the game is also included for your listing pleasure. In addition to that, there is a very short but quite humorous gag reel. There is also an ad for the eBook variant of the game.

These bonus additions are nowhere to be found in the Steam version. In addition to that, something that I found quite helpful was the fact that I was able to zoom in during the hidden object puzzles. There is no way to do that in the Steam version.

Now, something that the Steam game does better is the fact that the game is really full screen. This is only an issue when you play this game on a Windows 10 computer or laptop instead of on a Microsoft tablet. If you play the game on a computer, blue bars will fill the top and bottom of the screen like in the screenshot here:

Adera 4.png

This is a shame, since there is so much unused space and the game can run in full screen, since this is something that the Steam version shows.

So close, yet so far

Adera - 3

It always pains me when I have to write in a review that a game is so close to being a good game. Adera has a ton of amazing elements but it also makes a few mistakes.

Now, this game will take you roughly 7 hours to finish. It’ll take you a few more hours in order for you to complete. Yes, this game is somewhat short but when you compare it to other games in this genre, this game is actually rather lengthy. It also has replay value and for the price of 10€, you can’t complain in my opinion.

This game isn’t for everybody. When you dislike puzzle games or casual games, I don’t think you will enjoy this game. Which is a darn shame, since you will miss out on the lush environments and the amazing artwork. This game looks amazing. The animation is also pretty well done. You can skip most cutscenes, but you will miss out on the plot and the great animation. Now, the only thing that could have been improved was there was a bit more animation on the characters during gameplay. The characters are quite static outside of cutscenes.

The controls of this game do something unique. Usually, when you click or tap just above the middle of the inventory bar, you go to the previous location. This isn’t the case in this game. Because this game has a back arrow. This has it’s advantages. For example, now I don’t return to my previous location when I tap a bit too high by accident. But, this arrow works a bit inconsistent. In some cases, you are able to move to that location without the aid of that arrow and in some cases, you can only go to that location with the down arrow. It’s tricky to explain by text, but it will make more sense once you play the game. While I got used to the mechanic after an episode, it was annoying that the down arrow to move backwards wasn’t consistently used for the same thing and in the same way.

In terms of the UI of this game, it took me a while to get used to the Windows Apps interface style. Because I rarely used Windows 8(.1), I wasn’t used to the fact that you had to do certain swiping actions to bring up the menu system. This is something that the Steam version does a lot better. It was also confusing that the settings of the game were somewhat outside of the menu system of the game.

Now, in terms of the UI. Something I really disliked was when I replayed parts of the game on my PC to write this review, I noticed that the swiping doesn’t work in the menu’s. I had to use my scroll wheel. Another annoying “feature” of this game is that when you go to any menu during gameplay; to for example the collection menu, the back button in the menu system brings you back to the main menu. It would have been so much easier if this back button brought you back to the game to continue your playthrough.

While the game saves automatically and quite frequently, I found the load feature a bit lacking. Now, it works perfectly but when you continue an episode, you don’t know where your save file is at. When you finish an episode, the game saves right before the cutscene that plays as the cliffhanger for the next episode. Now, the thing is, the game uses cloud saves when you sign in with your XBOX account. So, when I clicked continue on the first episode on my PC, the end cut scene of the first episode started playing. It would be lovely if the load feature told you where the game saved. In addition to that, when you click on the “play now” buttons in the main menu with the episodes, the game directly loads your save file. So, if you want to start from the beginning because you think you skipped some collectables, you need to go to the “episode” section of the main menu and start it from there.

It’s a shame really, the UI could be so much better. There are just of bad design decisions. Thankfully, most of them are fixed in the Steam version where you don’t have the Microsoft App UI on top of the game. But, that version misses quite a lot of features of the collectors edition.

Something I haven’t mentioned or talked about is the music and sound design. The soundtrack of this game is quite well done. The only complaint I have is that some tracks are a bit too short and because they are played quite often, the loop started to annoy me in some puzzles. Yet, the soundtrack is one that I’m going to add to my music library so I can listen to it while I’m writing or relaxing. It’s that good. It’s a relaxing but mysterious soundtrack that’s fully orchestrated. Together with amazing sound effects and sound design, this game really shines in it’s audio visual presentation. Now, one nitpick is that I feel that the music for the main menu is a bit too quiet, a bit too mysterious. Sometimes I felt there wasn’t any music in the main menu.

Now, is this game difficult? Not really, this game can be extremely easy and quite challenging depending on the difficulty setting you pick. There are three settings. Depending on how difficult you make the game, the more supporting features are disabled. On the “EASY” setting, active hidden object or puzzle locations are revealed with sparkles and the hint and skip buttons recharge quite quickly. On the “NORMAL” difficulty setting, the sparkles appear less frequently and the hint and skip buttons recharge slower. And finally, on the highest difficulty, also known as “EXPERT”, no sparkles and the hint and skip buttons are disabled. You can change the difficulty setting at any time while you are playing an episode.

Speaking about the hint button, I really liked the way this game gives you hints. When you click on the hint button the first time, you get a clue to what is the next step you could take. There is an additional button on the hint pop-up and if you click on that button, you get the exact solution you are looking for.

During this review I have talked about various things that this game does better compared to other hidden object adventure games like for example the length, the back button and the replay value. But, there is one thing that this game doesn’t have compared to newer games that would have been a great addition in this title. The custom difficulty setting. With these setting, you can adjust which supporting options you want to enable and disable or how long you want to the hint and/or skip buttons to recharge for. But, this might have been too tricky to program with the ability to change the difficulty settings on the fly. The other thing that this game doesn’t have is a map screen. Usually, in these map screens you can see the locations you have visited and where actions can be done. This would have been helpful with some of the longer episodes.

With that said, I think it’s high time to close off this review. It’s time for the closing thoughts on this game!

Conclusion

Note: While I talked a lot in this review about the Steam version of this game. The conclusion applies to the Windows App Store version of the game that I played on the Windows Surface RT tablet.

The bad: 

  • The UI could used some more polish.
  • The Dutch translation has some text bugs.
  • There was no way to choose the language of the game.

The good:

+ Amazing audiovisual presentation.

+ Replay value in a hidden object game!

+ The collectors edition has a lot of amazing bonus content.

+ Amazing artwork.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Man, this has been a tricky game to review. I have played parts of the Steam version and the Windows App store version. I’m certain that the versions for Android and iOS have some differences but will most likely play similar to the Windows Surface RT version.

While the Steam version has a better UI, it lacks all the additional neat features of the collectors edition that can be found on the Microsoft Store. But, the version of the Microsoft Store has a lacking UI.

Now, this game isn’t perfect and isn’t for everybody. But what it does, it does very well. I highly recommend this game to fans of the hidden object genre or fans of the point-and-click genre. This game is quite underrated and should deserve more recognition. It was the first game I started playing on the Windows Surface RT and it was the first game I had beaten. Sometimes I replay a bit of the game in the hope I find the collectibles I missed.

The game gives you the impression that there are going to be more seasons, that the story of Adera will continue. With the game getting a Steam port last year, I have hopes that we will see another season in the (near) future. But, I highly doubt it will happen since there is no mention of seasons in the Steam version. Then again, it could be possible that the second season will start with episode 6 or something.

So, if you want to give this game a chance and you don’t mind a bit of messy menu UI, I highly recommend the Windows Store version. If you want a better menu UI, play the Steam version but know that you will miss out on the collectors edition content.

Personally, I really enjoyed playing this game and I’m happy that I discovered it. Now, I’m quite curious to see if somebody who reads this article is going to pick up this game. If you do, please let me know in the comments which version you bought and what you thought of it.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to 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 the next article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 70/100

Publishing: Repentant is releasing on the 9th Augustus 2018

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

capsule_616x353.jpg

General information

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

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

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

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Features

– Explore atmospheric hand-painted locations with challenging puzzles

– Enjoy an intriguing story with an unexpected ending

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

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

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

Developer info

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

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NekoJonez’s personal note

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

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

Metroidvania

monster tale3.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save often!

monster tale4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganised a bit better.

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

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Score: 99/100

Review: Bioshock 2 (PC) ~ Daddy, please!

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Wikipedia pageOfficial website

Back in late 2015, I wrote an article on Bioshock. Then, in middle of 2016, I wrote my review of Bioshock Infinite. Now, today I want to talk about the 2nd game in the series, Bioshock 2. It’s no secret that I love the Bioshock series. It’s one of my favorite game series. Weirdly enough, this game is pretty well received by the press, yet some Bioshock fans and gamers hate this game. Now, in this review, I’ll tell you my honest opinion. Is this game good or is it bad? So, let’s go to Rapture again to try and crack this case. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. 

Footnote: for this review, I played the original version. I have beaten the original but I haven’t beaten the remaster yet.

Daddy, please!

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8 years after the events of Bioshock, Subject Delta is woken up by little sisters. You thought that all little sisters were saved in the original Bioshock? Well, some things happened and now, you play the role of Subject Delta and you have to save the day. Not only that, you are a Big Daddy without a Little Sister.

This time, the plot is quite different from the original Bioshock. Personally, I think it’s well written. It touches on some subjects that make the story quite interesting. There is also a section where you play through the eyes of a little sister. This was a great idea. It made the setting of Bioshock more real to me.

The voice acting was, to be honest, hit or miss. There were moments that the actors delivered the line perfectly. But some lines could have been directed better. In those moments, the voice acting missed the soul of the character or the game. But, this problem might be because, like many others, I compare it to the original Bioshock. The voice acting in that game was exceptional.

The biggest issue with the story is that it’s bland at some points. I remember the introduction and the ending part of Bioshock 2. But, I don’t remember a lot of the middle section of the game, in terms of the story that is.

A bit more of Rapture

BioShock2

In this game, you discover a bit more of Rapture. You visit locations that you haven’t visited in the first game. Some locations are quite memorable. Yet, like I said before in this review, I don’t always remember what happened in those sections of the story.

One thing I don’t remember is multiplayer. Simply because I haven’t played any match online. But, when I read on the Bioshock Wiki, it sounds interesting. The only thing remember is that there aren’t a lot of players online though.

Visually, this game still looks great. If you find that the game needs a visual upgrade, the remastered edition. But be warned, the remastered version of this game lacks the multiplayer.

The animations in the game look amazing. The animation quality of the original Bioshock has returned and still looks as great as ever in this game. If it works that is. What I mean here is that sometimes, the animation bugged out for me and repeated three or four times before ending. Especially when the Splicers opened a door with a blow torch. In various occasions, the animation kept playing where it ended.

Overall, the visual presentation is pretty great. If you can stand the occasional visual glitch, that is. I especially love the design of the Big Sisters. This is a new type of enemy that you encounter in this game. They are pretty scary enemies to deal with since they are even more powerful than the Big Daddy’s. They can hurt you pretty bad.

If you want to beat this game, you will have to give or take 15 hours of game time. If you rush this game, you get 11 hours. This game has some replay value since you can explore various areas for missed tonics and plasmids.

Gameplay-wise, this game plays very similarly to the first Bioshock.  This game is a shooter as well. You will have various tonics at your disposal to play around with. There is also a new gameplay section in this game. Since you play as a Big Daddy, you can drop off your Little Sister at “an angel”. At this moment, you drop off your Little Sister while she collects ADAM. Then this game turns into a “defend the point” shooter. A lot of enemies come in various locations and attack you. If they reach the girl, she doesn’t continue to gather the ADAM. I think this would have been better if you had the possibility of losing your little sister then. That would make this section tenser.

You are a Big Daddy now

433323-bioshock-2-windows-screenshot-hacking-a-vending-machine-for

There is one gameplay change I like but hate at the same time. I’m happy that they changed the hacking mini game into something else. But, I hate what they changed it into. They changed it into a reaction based

You have to press a button while the arrow is in the green section to continue hacking the machine. The issue I have with it is that the landing areas get so small, it gets very hard. I don’t have the best reflexes or rhythm and I tripped more alarms than necessary.

In this game, you also play with a lot of new weapons compared to the original game. Of course, you are a Big Daddy in this title.  The same counts of plasmids and tonics. I loved the “Hypnotize” and “Electro Shock” plasmids a lot. I have used them the most.

The “Decoy” plasmid was pretty handy as well in the sections where you needed to protect your Little Sister. Switching between plasmids and weapons is pretty great. Like the controls of this game. I didn’t have any issues with them.

Something I didn’t need to complain about was the UI of this game. Every option was easy to find and everything that needed to be displayed was displayed. You can also disable parts of the UI if you want a more immersive experience.

The difficulty curve in this game is pretty good. There were some sections that were pretty tense, but I enjoyed the gameplay a lot. While the adventure itself might be short, there are so many different ways to kill your enemies making it a somewhat unique experience each playthrough. You can also research Little Sisters after you killed the accompanying Big Daddy.

Sadly enough, the whole ride isn’t enjoyable. Some moments of the gameplay are quite boring. There are sections where you need to go from point A to B under water. I hated those parts since they felt as filler gameplay. But, I can understand the inclusion for two reasons.

One, the add to the character of a Big Daddy. You saw them repairing broken parts of Rapture in the original game in the ocean.

Two, they can be used as what developers call a “Loading Gate”. These moments give the game time to unload the old part of the game and load in the new part of the game. This is a trick to save resources.

The soundtrack of this game is pretty decent. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the music from the time period that Bioshock takes place in, but the themes played during the combat and exploration sections are lovely.

The sound-effects of this game are pretty well done as well. I played this game with some gaming headphones and I have to say, that they really helped to immerse me into the game. Thanks to the sound design, I jumped out of my skin quite a few times when I didn’t see an enemy coming or when I was battling with a Big Sister.

Also, this game got a DLC with one additional story. It’s called Minerva’s Den. This DLC adds a 5-hour campaign to the main game and it’s pretty decent. I have seen and played worse DLC’s. I haven’t completely beaten it yet, but I’m near the end of the DLC. If you are planning to buy and play this game; I highly recommend that you buy the DLC as well. You will get more out of your game.

That said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to get to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Sometimes the game can be pretty buggy. Mostly the animations suffer from this.

-The voice acting is not good.

-The new hacking minigame is just bad.

-Parts of the story aren’t memorable, which is a shame since it’s an interesting story.

-The multiplayer is removed in the remaster.

The good:

+ Addictive gameplay with the new plasmids, weapons, tonics and Little Sisters.

+ The game looks still pretty great visually.

+ Amazing sound design and a great soundtrack.

+ Longer than your typical shooter.

+ …

Final Thoughts:

Is Bioshock 2 a bad game? Not in my opinion. Let me explain it this way, Bioshock 2 isn’t like Half Life 2. The sequel isn’t better than the original game.

Sidenote: let me be clear with calling Half Life 2 better than Half Life 1, I hear more praise for the second game compared to the first. That’s all.

Bioshock 2 has problems, it lacks polish in some areas and you can hear that in the voice acting and see that in the various minor bugs left in the game. On the Wikipedia article, you can read an interesting development history of this game. The developers had quite a big task ahead of them. How are you going to follow up the amazing Bioshock?

I personally think that this game is an amazing sequel that has some flaws. If you enjoyed Bioshock, there is a chance you might enjoy the sequel. Give it a chance, since this game has some amazing moments. And if you want the best visual experience, you can play the remastered version. About the remastered version, Drakulus wrote a pretty interesting article on the remaster of the original. You can read it here.

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

Score: 70/100

Gaming Nostalgia: Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Tales from paradise park

Wikipedia entry

512ZFPC4MCLAs a kid, I played a lot of children’s and educative games. Well, not all the time of course, but I have a lot of fond memories of it. When I went to MiseryLC’s place the other day, he was actually so kind to lend me his copy of “Skipper en Skeeto 1 – Pretpark” which translates to “Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Funfair”. It’s a very nostalgic game for us both, and I decided to write an article about it. So yeah, here we go! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Rare game

61QY3X94DTLIf you are from America and you haven’t heard from this game, I won’t blame you. The creator of this game is actually from Denmark. While there is an English version, I grew up with a version in my mother tongue. I actually only just found out what the name of the game is in English.

I have fond memories of actually acting out this game with my sister. We hid objects to solve puzzles around the house and we played out the story with our own characters and objects.

Sadly enough, my copy got lost one day and I forgot about the game. After a couple of years, I started to play another game from my childhood again: Freddy Fish. Then, I wanted to play this game again. So, I went on a search on the internet to find a copy of this game. Then I learned how much this game went under the radar. I found various versions of this game in the original language, but I wasn’t able to find it in a language I could understand.

New copy

61AHHC15BXLIt’s a shame to admit that I haven’t played my “new” copy yet. I really should do that and write a sort of (quick) review of this game.

While the boxed version is extremely hard to find, the more common version you would find in Belgium is actually a version that was given away for free with a Dutch magazine for females. It still exists to this day. It’s called Libelle, and it’s full with topics ladies would read from the age of 18 and up.

It came in a jewel case with a little booklet telling you about how to install and the warranty. The usual stuff. Thankfully, the magazine hasn’t placed their logo all over the jewel case or disc (or in-game even.) The logo of the magazine is just in the top left corner once, and that’s it. Nicely done.

There are 11 mini-games in this game. All these games are optional and you don’t need to play them. But all the games are educational, for example, if you would click on the globe that you see in the screenshot (in-game of course), you would play a geographical quiz where you needed to guess where certain countries are. I actually remember some of them vaguely while writing this article. This is quite mindblowing if you realize that you haven’t played this game around over 15 years.

Wrapping up

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While I have memories of the sequel of this game, I think I said mostly everything I wanted to talk about of this game. It’s always difficult to write these articles since you want to write a quite in-depth look about a childhood game you remember, but there isn’t enough content for that.

While I could talk about the animation, voice-acting and other things, I think I will save that for the review I’m going to write when I have replayed this game.

 I wish I played more entries in the series or even bought more of them, since they are now quite rare and unrated. They are quite well done educational games. I even dare say that they rival the quality of Humongous Entertainment! So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this short article about Skipper and Skeeto. I also hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then game on and take care~

Review #008: Corpse Party (PSP) review ~ The school of doom.

Corpse Party (USA)

The site of this game.

First Impressions article

Warning for gamers & parents: This game is for 16 year and older. This game contains a lot of gore, blood and foul language. This game can be extremely creepy. For those who are easily afraid, play with caution. 

I started to play several XSeed games before, and I didn’t realize things about this game since I started reviewing it. While researching this game, I learned that this game is a port of a Japanese PC-98 game made by one person. He won a competition with that, nearly 5 million yen. The game is then ported to the PSP year later. These are signs of an extremely good game. But, is it? Or is this game an experiment of that Japanese developer to check if the game is ready for western releases? It’s obvious from my first impression article that I liked this game an awful lot. Now that I finished the main story line, it’s time to give this a proper and full review. Is this game truly worth the praise I gave it? Or is the game now going to fall flat on it’s face? Let’s dive into Corpse Party. 

The ritual

corpse_party_3It has been quite some time since I got scared from a video game. Horror games are usually a no-go for me. It contains jump-scares and cheap tricks for scaring you. Games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward are major exceptions on that rule.

But I wanted to change that one night and I booted up this game, just before I went to sleep and I started to play this game with earphones in. And I am glad that I did. Like I said in previous articles, I love myself a good story. And this story really drew me in.

The game is also based on a manga. And I now want to read the manga, to see how good the recreated it. If the manga or the game was first, it isn’t clear to me, I can’t tell.

But this story made me gasp, be silent and got all my attention. The pacing is just perfect. The game is creepy. Very creepy, but it doesn’t overdo the creepiness at any point. The game is creepy if you read the text. The point here is that the writing is extremely well done.

What adds to the game is the voice-acting. The voice acting is where I think this game shines. The Japanese voices really add to the story and make you feel the emotion that they tried to show. Also, the sound of the voices matches the characters displayed on the screen quite well and I didn’t have any character where I would use another voice.

So, the story is extremely well done. And it really gets thrilling. Plot twists are around every corner. Sadly enough, it’s obvious sometimes what the fate of some characters will be but how slow or how fast it goes down really makes the game unpredictable.

Uniqueness

6289325919_6407efd37c_zThe gameplay caught me off guard. I’m quite surprised how many visual novel games have such unique gameplay.

Your goal is to escape a cursed school and find your classmates and teacher. But, at that cursed school something extremely terrible happened. And something is there to stop your progress. That’s all I can tell you without spoiling the story too much.

The game has 5 chapters. The length of each chapter continues to grow larger. With the amazing finale with over a 2 hour playtime if you don’t get stuck anywhere.

There is a twist. The game has multiple endings each chapter. And these can be triggered by one wrong move. This makes the game difficult to play. This game won’t hold your hand and you fell a sense of reward if you finish a chapter. There are points that give you hints but overall, it will be all up to you.

There is one major flaw with the gameplay though. The save system. I didn’t like it one bit. You can save by using candles placed all over the map. But some are so far out that when you get a wrong end, you get frustrated. Also, you can save your system data, which means you save the tags you found and the game also saves that you achieved a certain wrong ending. Which can get confusing. There is also a save feature that you can only use once. If you load that save file, the save deletes itself after loading. This isn’t such a great feature. For a good save file system, Virtue’s Last Reward got it right.

I’m here.

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The music and sound are extremely well done. The music does what’s supposed to do. For some players, it can feel a bit out of place but for me, it actually worked. I really gave me that Virtue’s Last Reward vibe and really got me hooked. If I can buy the album somewhere, I certainly will.

Although, on very rare occasions you can make the music glitch out and not play. And some parts don’t have music. But this is so nitpicky.

The soundeffects, something I always am very strict about, well made me zip my review mouth. Really, they are good. Everything sounds like it’s supposed to sound and it doesn’t have any sound effects too much or too little. They got it right with this game.

Graphically, this game looks dated. And is this a bad thing? Not at all. If you compare it with how it was in the PC-98 version the game got quite a big improvement in the graphics. But I love how they didn’t make the graphics become “too new”. It still has that feel of the original games without being too “ugly” for the graphic lovers. The characters look nice and the location of the game is lovely. But, there is one flaw in the graphic department.

The animation isn’t all that great. Lines where bridges need to come, walking in less then 5 frames, some characters seem to slide over the scene instead of walk. It feels extremely basic. It doesn’t take you out of the experience but it really brings the game down in my opinion. It’s a big missed opportunity.

Before I forget, this game also got the amount of gameplay and story quite right. There are parts where you need to go through large chunks of text, but you get a lengthy part to play too.

There are also 10 additional chapters. I think you can unlock them by getting the wrong ends or collecting certain tags. I haven’t played these yet, but it surely adds to the replay value.

And that’s about all I can say about this game, let’s go on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Bad-ass story.

+ Memorable characters, setting, story…

+ Graphics feel rightfully old school.

+ The music is one of the best I have heard in a while.

+ Soundeffects are well done.

+ The voice acting really adds to the game.

+ Lengthy game.

+ It will truly challenge your skills.

+ Different endings.

The bad:

– Save feature.

– Animations aren’t polished.

– The rare music issues and silent area’s.

Conclusion:

I barely score games a full 100. And this game got close. The game is really well made and got me into gaming once more. I was slowly growing out of gaming and wanting to review and write again. Yet, this game made me change my mind.

The story is unique, doesn’t exploit the usual cliches and takes twists and turns without getting too complex. The music is great and the voice acting adds to the game. I can’t repeat it enough.

If you play this game in the dark or not, it’s up to you. But pay attention, it will draw you in and hold you there for as long as you can play the game.

Apart from the major flaw of the animation and the bad save features, this game feels flawless. Leave in the comments what you think of this game.

Score: 95 / 100