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First Impressions: Bloodstained – Ritual Of The Night (Switch) ~ Middle Ages Magic.

Official websiteNintendo Microsite

So, a new Metroidvania game has been released. The Metroidvania genre is one of my favorite style of games. When I heard that Koji Igarashi of Castlevania fame was the director of this game, I was beyond hyped. I even mentioned this game in my top 10 games I wanted to play in 2019. And, yes, the game was even twice on that sort of list. Anyways, this game was a Kickstarter game were major flops like Mighty Number 9 and major hits like A Hat In Time. Where does this game fall? On the major flops or on the amazing titles part of the spectrum? Let’s find out in this first impressions article. Also, feel free to give your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. A small editor note I have to make is that I have played this game before and after the visual improvement patches applied, and I will keep this in mind for this review.

Middle Ages Magic

During the Industrial Revolution, the Alchemy Guild got scared of losing their followers and patrons. So, they decided to create Shardbinders. These are humans who are forcibly fused with demonically charged crystals. Thanks to these crystals, the Shardbinders obtained magical powers. Everything was peaceful until the Fire Nation attacked, well sorta. Kinda. The Shardbinders were sacrificed and abused to summon demons from Hell (let’s be honest, this is a sort of Fire Nation. 😉 ). Now, this whole plan backfired and brought mass destruction over the whole of England. Thankfully, the Church was able to intervene and save some areas of destruction.

Two shardbinders survived the whole massacre, Gebel and Miriam. Ten years after the incidents, Miriam wakes up from her unnatural slumber and finds out that Gebel has summoned another demon to continue the revenge of the Shardbinders on what the alchemists did to him. Miriam starts her journey accompanied by Johannes, who is a former member of the Alchemy Guild. Miriam wants to stop Gebel before the whole world is destroyed.

The story itself is nothing that special. To be quite frank, the story didn’t really grab my attention. Now, I have reviewed two Castlevania games in the past: Castlevania – Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow and of both these games, I don’t remember a lot about the story. It’s a shame since the story has quite a lot of potential to go quite in-depth and in different directions. The story takes a backseat in this game, to a point that sometimes the story is used as a sort of in-game guide. Like, when you have defeated a boss and you talk to one of the members of the Church, she straight up tells you (this isn’t an exact quote but it’s quite similar): “I have heard rumors that one of the high ranking officers can jump again in the air. (…) You need to look for a tower where…”

Now, the cast of the voice actors of this game is just mindblowing. Miriam is voiced by Erica Lindbeck who voiced Barbie herself in a few movies and also voiced one of the leading characters in Fire Emblem Echoes. Gebel is voiced by Ray Chase who’s a voice you can also hear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as Roy and in Final Fantasy 15 as Noctis. Zangetsu is voiced by a voice acting legend by the name of David Hayter who is famous for his voice work on Solid Snake. You can dig deeper into the voice cast using this page from Behind the Voice Actors. With so much talent on board and pretty good direction, you can be sure that the dub of this game is pretty well done.

Now, what could have improved the story? Well, first of all, a bit more character development. Some characters are quite two dimensional. I barely notice any progress in these characters. Secondly, I feel that too many stereotypical characters were used. A more diverse cast of characters or characters that broke their stereotype would be a great twist in the story. And finally, be a bit less hand-holding. If you want to guide the players to a certain location to gain a new power-up, you can do that by other means. I loved the system the developers used in Monster Tale on the DS. In that game, you also have a guide to where you need to go, but it’s up to you to fight through the enemies and find your way there.

Metroidvania at its finest

In the previous section, I have already mentioned three games I have reviewed that were in the same style as this game. The two Castlevania games and Monster Tale.

If you have played games like Castlevania, Metroid, Monster Tale or Axiom Verge then you’ll know what to expect in this game. In this game, you explore a huge map, defeat different bosses, learn new techniques to make exploring easier and access unknown areas. Meanwhile, you have to fight through a lot of enemies and try to balance your items right in order for you to stay alive.

Most Metroidvania’s are anything but easy. This game is no exception. This game can be quite difficult. But, the difficulty is fun difficulty. Sometimes you aren’t strong enough or don’t have the right gear to survive the encounters. Now, some people would enjoy the challenge of this game and try to defeat this game with the weakest gear possible. Now, this means that this game has some minor forms of grinding to improve your stats and defeat some bosses easier.

Now, the map of this game is quite huge. Thankfully, there are several warp points that allow you to fast travel to other areas in the castle. These warp points are in special rooms marked in green on your map. A minor nitpick I have is that the warp point to the central base of the game is outside right after some enemy encounters. I think that it would be better inside so I can go with full health to the boss. Yeah, I’m that kind of a player. So, that’s why I mentioned it as a nitpick.

Anyways, the warp rooms aren’t the only special things on your journey. You also have to save rooms. This game doesn’t have an autosave feature, but you can save (and heal your HP/MP) at the various save rooms that are shattered around the castle.

I really love the freedom of exploration in this game. While the story is a minor disappointment to me, the gameplay more than makes up for it. Exploring the castle and the areas around it is a ton of fun. Trying out the different mechanics and abilities of Miriam is just a great experience to have.

Together with the decent controls, this game is a blast to play. Now, I have read in different reviews that the controls of this game have a bit of input lag or are a bit floaty. Thankfully, I find that they improved them a lot in the patches that the game received and I think that the future patches in November 2019 will improve the game even more.

Visually underpowered

Allow me to address the elephant in the room. Look, there it is. His name is Dumbo and he has a movie made about him. Now, let’s be a bit more serious. Visually, this game doesn’t look that great when you compare it to the other versions on PlayStation or PC. The publishers even posted a statement on the rather spotty technical performance. Now, I think that’s a great move to improve technical performance through patches. On the other hand, delaying the Switch port to work on the technical performance would have been an even better move in the first place.

While the Switch is quite powerful, compared to the other consoles on the market today… Well, it’s underpowered. So, I can understand that the Switch version has some fewer animations or visual effects. Something I think that I don’t understand is the inconsistent performance of the game and the input lag in certain areas. Now, these things will be addressed in the patched that is scheduled for November. This is a shame since this game would be an amazing title to play on Halloween night, but they will miss the mark on that completely.

With all that talk about the Switch version having a spotty performance, I do have to say… I don’t find it that bad. The issues are the worst when you play the game in undocked mode. When you play this game in docked mode, this game plays just … decent. In very rare spots, the game has a bit of frame or input lag but nothing game-breaking.

In its current state, the game still looks quite good. I think the visual presentation is great and the animations are quite good as well. Together with the amazing music and enjoyable sound effects, the audiovisual presentation still gets a pass from me. So, I’m a bit mixed on this whole thing.

The game is a blast to play and has some extremely helpful features like the ability to leave markers on your map so you can remind yourself to visit these areas later. The game even has a lot of depth with its own crafting system, various shops, various unlockable skills and builds you can make… Even when you change your outfit in the menu’s, Miriam wears the armor and outfits in the game, during gameplay, and during cutscenes.

But, the whole game is held back by the lack of polish that is now coming in the form of patches. It gives the game a wrong first impression to a lot of players. Not everybody knows that this game’s performance and visuals are going to improve. Also, I have stopped playing this game because I want to replay this game when all the patches have been released so I can experience this game in it’s the best form. And that’s what’s so disappointing to me. I’m already halfway the game and now I have to restart the whole game. Well, then again, it’s my own choice…

So yeah, this article is going to be continued. I think it would be a bit unfair to fully judge the game right now when I know that there are patches to improve the visuals, the controls and the gameplay in the near future. But, I still wanted to talk about this game so here we are. So, for a full review, you will have to come back a few weeks after the patches have been released. If I don’t forget, I’ll also link the updated article here: [TO BE ANNOUNCED.] And maybe I should go more in-depth about the gameplay in that updated article as well.

And that’s everything I currently 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 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: Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS – eShop) ~ Let’s Play This Match

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club_(GER)Official website

From time to time, I tweet about a match I’m watching or I just watched. I’m a casual soccer fan. When a game is shown on TV, I go to my grandfather to watch. Apart from that, I don’t follow a lot of soccer. When I saw a Nintendo soccer game a few years ago on store shelves, I was interested but never bought the game. Until a few weeks ago, when it’s was on sale in the Nintendo eShop and I bought it with the money I had left over. And now, it’s time that this game plays it’s most important match, the review match. I’ll be the referee of this game, so I hope you are ready! If you want to shout something to the referee; especially your opinion on the game and/or my decisions in this match, go ahead in the comments! 

The goals

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club 2

So, this game scores a few goals. Let’s take a look at what goals this game scored.

In the first few minutes, this game scored with the visual presentation of this game. The artwork and the sprites blend together quite well. While the animation during the matches can be somewhat lacking sometimes; I think that changing them would destroy the charm of the presentation. That makes the 1-0 for the game.

The game scores a 2-0 with the overall gameplay during matches. Each match can go in many different directions. One time, I didn’t save after a match, restarted the game and replayed the same match. I did this five times, each time I got a different outcome. You will never know what you will get. During the matches, the game can be very tense. It’s a balancing act in when to substitute players, changing tactics and hoping for the best. There is an additional layer of strategy since you can only change your strategy when you substitute your players or during the break period of the match. And during the break period, you have more options to change your strategy so your decision will count.

Not only that, you need to balance your team as well. The 3-0 goes to the training system. This is done with trainer cards, which I will expand more on later. But, you need to make sure that you don’t lose players since they rarely played or played too much. To manage your team well and who knows, you might be able to transfer more expensive players to your team.

The 4-0 is scored by the random element in this game, called the trainer cards. During a match, you gain a certain amount of random player cards. You can use these player cards to improve your players. If you combine them, you can make special combos which improve the player’s stats more than if you would use them separately. Also, you need to think about what stats you need to improve. For example, you don’t need to learn a keeper how to dribble, since he almost never needs to dribble. But, it’s a great idea to improve the jump stat of your keeper.

Surprisingly, the game scores a 5-0 with the sound design. Personally, I wish that there was music playing during the matches, on the other hand, I’m glad that they didn’t. Since it adds to the realism of the game. The only complaint I have about the sound design is that the goal scoring jingle doesn’t always play when your team scores when you are the “away” team. Minor nitpick really.

The game also scores a 6-0 with an interesting in-game manual. The game also explains some terms for players who aren’t that well known with soccer. Neat.

The 7-0 is a goal with the customization of the game. You can design the shirts of your team, the logo, and the name. When you want to redesign or rename your team, you can do that when you want, when you aren’t playing a match.

The kicks to the woodwork

npfc_13

So, this game could have scored more points but they missed a few chances in this game. Let me start with the first one.

The backing system is where they had a missed opportunity. While I really like the concept, I’m really displeased with the fact that you loose backing when you play either a draw or lose a game. Personally, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you draw a game. Also, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you lose a game on certain occasions. For example, when you lose 1-0 from a team that is placed in the highest league when you are in the lowest league, that’s a big accomplishment of your team that shouldn’t go unnoticed, since, in the real world, fans would be happy with the play of their lower ranked team.

The game also hits the goal post with the trainer cards. While they are quite interesting to use, you don’t have a list of what cards make a combo. When you select a card, other cards will sparkle if you used them to make a combo in the past. But, when you have never made that combo, you won’t see them sparkle. Also, on my playthroughs, I noticed that I get a lot of the same cards each and every match.

Something that isn’t present is an autosave feature. Which can be a be a blessing and a curse. To me, it’s a blessing since I can restart a game when I’m not happy with the outcome of a match. But this can be considered cheating too…

The goals of the opponent

nintendo_pocket_football_club

Sadly enough, the game got a few goals in their own goal as well. Let me talk about those.

The 7-1 is scored due to the lacking controls sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this game has unuseable controls in any sense of the word. But, sometimes the controls are so picky that you lose a lot of time with it.

For example, you need to confirm when you change players from a location in the field. Also, on the screen where you decide to swap players, the “L” button bugs out sometimes. When you go the bench with using the down arrow, the prompt of the “L” button changes when I’m at the 3rd player.

The 7-2 is scored because the UI lacks some information sometimes. While the UI is very well put together, I really wish I was able to see the stats of the player I wanted to replace. But, you can only see the stats of the player your cursor is on. In addition to that, when you use the “Y” button to swap players, you can’t see the stats of the players.

Outside of the matches, the UI can be annoying sometimes. I think that the biggest issue is that the game lacks some information screens. Like, how many times a player scored in the “players to watch” screen. Or on the screen where the players ran, you can’t see where the keepers ran.

The 7-3 is scored because I think that the offside rule is programmed a bit strangely. I’m under the impression that when a ball is going towards another player and when a player is running offside, the fault of offside is given. This is very frustrating.

After that, this game suffered another goal; making the score 7-4. This is due to the lack of options for the game. You can’t change the length of a match. When you leave a match early, you don’t get a lot of player cards and most of the times, your team automatically loses. Also, you can’t see in the history of a rival team to see how strong other players are and who to watch out for. You need to base your judgement on the stats of the players that you can only see at the start of a match. Oh well.

It can be very repetitive when you need to sit through each and every match. The 7-5 is made by the lack of “simulating” the match or just give you the result.

But, the biggest flaw of this game is the 7-6, that’s the extremely harsh difficulty curve. What I mean here is that you don’t get enough information out of the game to improve your team and find out where your team is lacking. Minusworld says that’s it’s an uphill battle sometimes.

The game can be very difficult and unforgiving sometimes, to the point that I wish there was a rollback feature. Sadly enough, this isn’t present.

The 7-7 is scored because I feel that the game doesn’t explain some mechanics enough. How do you make a player not have the “balanced” play status? What’s the best combination for a midfielder? Those things are for you to find out and you don’t get any hints for the game about this. This should have been handled better.

And that concludes the match, now it’s time to give the final analysis of this game.

Final analysis

So, due to the structure of this review, I won’t be listing off the positives and negatives like I usually do in other reviews. I’m going to close off this review with my overall thoughts on this game.

I think that this game isn’t great nor bad. The game sits somewhere in the middle for me. If I would need to give points, this game gets a 65/100 for me. While I expected more about this game, I really had a fun time trying to survive with my team and try to find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Each playthrough, you learn more about the pitfalls of the game and you learn more mechanics. While the game can be repetitive from time to time, watching those matches of your team makes the game exciting.

A very important thing to remember is something that MinusWorld also said in his article about this game. You need to remember that you aren’t 100% in control of your team. You can set the general strategy and such, but you don’t play the matches themselves. If you look at this game more as a sort of casual-ish football club manager sim than a football game, I think you will get more enjoyment out of this game.

This isn’t a bad game, but the harsh difficulty and the lack of explaining certain game mechanics can be a real deal breaker for some players. Give the demo a chance and decide then if the game is for you or not.

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

Preview: Spinnortality (PC) ~ Immortal Empire

spinnoralityOfficial website

Today we are going to take a look at a game that lets you build a huge empire. A game where you can become immortal and conquer the world. The game currently isn’t released to the public, but I got the chance to play the development version. The game will also release on Steam, since it got greenlight. I also want to stress that this article isn’t a paid review or promotion. In this article, you will find my honest opinion on the game. Also, beware, since this game is still under ONE MAN development, things I mention here might change and/or improve in the final version. But enough introducing of the game, it’s time to give this cyberpunk tycoon adventure a start.

The current planned release this is 31st August 2017, but this is subject to change.

Control it all

spinnortalityThe goal of this game is to become immortal and conquer the world with your empire. In this game, you can control everything that your mega-corporation does.

Want to get a special law passed in a country? This game has it. Want to control media? Yes, this feature is in the game! Want to rig elections? Guess what, this is also a feature in this game. There is a lot more to do in this game, so it’s advised that you play through the tutorial.

In the press build, I think the tutorial could use some improvement. Since there is a lot you can do in this game, I honestly think that it would be better if you were able to replay certain tutorials. Basically, that you have a list of missions. Each mission is a tutorial. This way a player can replay a tutorial if they want more explanation about a certain part of the game or when they forgot how something worked.

After I played the tutorial sections, one thing was clear to me. This game isn’t for casual players. There is a lot of things you need to keep track of. Since this game is turn based, you could argue that you could play this game in short bursts, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

The gameplay of this game is simple on the surface but it’s very in-depth. The only thing you will need for this game is a mouse. You rarely need the keyboard, only to input your name at the start and/or the name of your save file.

Too much for me

spinMy first few playthroughs of this game left me confused. I honestly think there is too much to do from the start in this game.

After some time, I got used the mechanics of this game. I learned how the game worked after replaying the tutorial for a few times. Again, read the tutorial carefully. I think this game would be improved if there is a “Help” button, where certain things are explained that were explained during the tutorial or like a “What does this thing do?”-sort of button. Where you need to click on and then you click on another button to get some explanation.

Basically, I think the biggest issue in this game is that the game is a bit overwhelming to new comers. If you don’t play a lot of management games, you will get lost in everything you need to keep track off in this game. The game is fun and well put together, but like I said, it isn’t newcomer friendly.

Also, you need to take your time to play this game. If you click on everything just to advance your turn, you will lose all your money before you know it. Take your time and think everything through while playing this game.

In the press build, there were a couple of bugs. But, I’m not going to hold this against the game since I told them all to the developer so he can fix them before the game launches. Most of the bugs were minor things that could be improved.

Spin that globe

spinnySo, now that I have talked about the gameplay, I think it’s time to talk about all the other aspects of this game.

I love how you can save and load your game at any time. This is very handy since when you made a wrong move, you can easily load an older save file to try and fix your mistake.

Visually, the game nailed its theme. The game looks quite good for being created by one man. I really liked the animation of the moon going around the globe, very well done. While there is a lot to keep track off, the UI is very well built too. All icons give a great representation of what options you could find where. The only thing I would improve is to make sure you can easily see what’s a clickable feature and what not.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the music. I really enjoy melodic music, and this game doesn’t have that. Is the music bad? No, I have heard and played games with much worse music. The music adds a lot to the theme and presentation of the game, but it isn’t my cup of tea. Some tracks were enjoyable like the menu theme, but some tracks used in this game weren’t to my liking.

During my play sessions, I had one idea I would love to see implemented in the game. When you start a new game, you can choose a region where you start. This will also decide your currency. You could take this idea even further with making it more tricky to change laws in other parts of the world. For example, a European based country has it more difficult with changing a law in the North America.

But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts.

In conclusion, at its current state, I don’t think it’s ready for release just yet. It needs some polish to be “easier” for non-management gamers to understand the game. Apart from some minor bugs, everything works pretty well.

The game is interesting and unique. Would I recommend this game? Currently, I would recommend it to people who enjoy games like Europa Universalis IV and games of that nature. Otherwise, this game isn’t for you and you might not enjoy this game at all. This game truly has potential to become a great game, but it still needs some work.

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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Note: The developer told me that he will work on making the experience better for newcomers when the game is released.

Gamer’s Thoughts: How do I write my first impressions and reviews?

Arpegi BackI have written a lot of first impressions and game reviews. In today’s article, I’m going to talk about how I create one of those articles. Consider this article as a sort of “behind the screens” look into my creative process. How I try to get an article ready every week. The focus of this article will be how I analyze a game. How I look at it’s nuts and bolts and how I translate that to words. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with how you prepare for your articles and/your thoughts. So, I hope you are ready since here we go! 

Preparations

380kvPersonally, picking a subject for the article is one of the hardest parts to me. I have a lot of ideas but often I change my mind at the last minute.

Quite common is that I write an article about the game I have been playing recently. It’s easier since the memories of the game are quite fresh in my mind.

Sometimes, when I don’t have an idea; I look around in my collection for a game to take a look at. And when I don’t feel like writing about a certain game, I try to find an interesting subject to write about. In most cases, I write an article in one of my series like Gaming Nostalgia, Gamer’s Thoughts or Gaming Music.

When I decided which game I’m going to talk about, I start playing it. I always have my tablet or a notebook close to me. Truth to be told, I don’t take many notes. Since I feel that writing an article with the impressions you have gives a stronger article.

So, my notes are mostly things that I don’t want to forget. Like certain moments or certain frustrations.

This way I find that you can give a more general impression of the game. This way I can focus more on the game instead of going too much in depth about one aspect.

The research part

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So, right before I start writing the article, I thinking of a good title and look up some other articles about the game.

I always give my own opinion on my blog. Even while other critics disagree with me. Besides, I’m not that good of a liar anyways.

But, it’s always interesting to see what other people write about the game. It gives me another angle on the game. It can also give me some ideas on how I should write the article.

It also gives me some background information about the game. This is rather helpful for finishing the article. To check if all my facts are correct. Also, I’m extremely interested in the history of gaming and the development. So, yeah…

The analyzing of the game

logo_samaxreviewsmoviesStory

How does one judge a story? Well, that’s very tricky. I used to write a lot of stories in the past. But nowadays, I write a lot about games.

So, I look at a story in a very different way. I look at how it’s written, how it’s structured, how it draws in the player and how it actually works. A good story must make you smile here and there and/or put you on the edge of your seat.

In my early gaming days, I used to never play games without a story. When a game didn’t have a story, I skipped it. With some exceptions like Tetris and Pac-Man of course.

The story is something that is the most important to me in a game. The better the story is, the more fun I have playing the game.

Presentation

The presentation of a game is something I can look past that, to a certain extent. I honestly don’t really care of some enemies are generic. I see it as a positive if they try to do something new with it.

Yet, there are two aspects of the presentation that I pay a lot of attention to. That are the menus and the controls.

A menu in a game should be easy to navigate. Also, a certain task shouldn’t require a “million” clicks before you can perform it.

And about the controls, it’s quite self-explanatory I think. Would you play a game with bad controls? Controls that work against you? Not a lot of people would enjoy themselves!

Difficulty

I love games that are challenging but aren’t too difficult. The more brutal a game is, the less fun I have with it.

Don’t understand me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with difficult games, I just don’t like them.

Truth to be told, reviewing the difficulty of a game is pretty tricky. Something that I find difficult in a game can be easy for somebody else. And it can work in the other way too.

Music and sound

The music of a game is quite important to me. The prove of that is the fact that I write a series about gaming music. Sometimes, some of my favorite songs are actually my ringtone.

At work, I listen to a lot of gaming music as well. Since it helps me concentrate. But in some cases, it can be a distraction since the memories come back from the game.

That’s why I listen to the soundtrack of the game while I’m reviewing or writing the first impression of a game. It helps me remember the game. 🙂

Closing off

So, yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I tried to give a general idea how I make my articles. If you guys and girls want to know more, feel free to leave me a comment. Maybe could turn in a new article.

While I love writing articles like these, I love writing about games more. This makes it quite hard to pin down exactly what I look at while reviewing or writing a “first impression” article.

In any case, before I ramble too much… I think it’s time to wrap up this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! I hope to welcome you another time on my blog but until then, take care! Have a great rest of your day.

Review #001: Tomb Raider – Survivor (PC) ~ Dark game about the sun.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link to the official site. (For more details of this game).

“A famous explorer once said.” is the very first line that you hear in this game. The opening of this game is beautiful enough to keep your attention but is it good enough? This series got a reboot after the negative reception of Underworld, which is still in my eyes a darn good game. In this reboot, you play as, who else, Lara Croft. Yeah, only younger this time around. I realize that I’m late with this review and that many played this game already. But I have only recently gained interested again in reviewing. So, yeah. A messy introduction is messy.

“Not who we are.”

Hardcore Tomb Raider fans will actually feel right at home with this game. There are many tombs to explore and raid, all in a nice package of amazing graphics and the athletic Lara. But there is a difference this time around. You can’t go shooting all you want. Ammo isn’t unlimited.

Many people give this game the subtitle of “Survivor”. Since it’s a survival game. Well, partially. Okay, not at all. There is a mission to collect food, but that only gives XP. You can hunt on animals but all she does is slice them open. And before you tell me that it would be too “cruel” to animate her eating her prey; well, think again. This game is Dark, with a capital d. Some scenery isn’t for young eyes.  So I see a missed opportunity there.

The only survival part about this game is that you need to find ammo since, in the battles where you need to survive, you’ll quickly run out. You don’t have a health bar. Nope, this is replaced with the “Call Of Duty” style of health bars. Where the screen becomes redder when you take hits. What’s nice in this game is that the screen becomes gray when you are one hit away from death.

“Adventure found me.”

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The earliest design sketches that where posted featured a lot of content that didn’t make the final cut. So which adventure did Lara find? Like I said, the game looks amazing. The graphics are really neat. For the most part. Some areas of the game will feel a bit unpolished. It could have been my graphics card but some pits their textures were too big.

And the water isn’t all that great. Since sometimes it stops caring. I had several times that in the game the water texture was glitched up and looked more like boiling mud. Or that a 9-year-old discovered a distortion filter in Photoshop.

The game is said to have an open world. What an empty promise that is. The world is “open”. The game is extremely linear. And yes, even backtracking to old locations appears in this game. The level structure might be gone, or that is what you think at least. It’s simply replaced by areas.

In each area, you have several secrets, treasures, food plants… to find. This is lovely since it makes me coming back even after I finished the game. The replay value is high in this game. Sometimes you have even enemies who respawn so that you have something to shoot with your collected ammo.

The gameplay is pretty neat. Again, for the most part. Like many other reviewers will tell you, get a sturdy keyboard to play this game. Since there are a lot of quick-time events. They break the pace of the game often and are in some cutscenes rather unwelcome. I even think that in some of the cutscenes the quick time events are responsive. And in some, your timing needs to be better as in other cutscenes. Hrm, great to be consistent.

Bomberman Croft

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There is no area without an explosion. Really, the game is on a deserted island and there is sure a lot of bombs, explosive material and other stuff that can go boom around. The developers got a tad bit lazy and made the area where some cutscenes of the story is triggered unreachable after you passed it. Either by a ladder that broke down or a building that goes boom.

Even the very first puzzles require you to blow up parts of the cave where Lara is held. But why is she held there? A good question to introduce the part of the review where I talk about the story.

The story is mediocre at best but gets extremely “meh” at the end. The Tomb Raider games never really got me into the story. And this game is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a unique story that I enjoyed but it didn’t leave an impression on me. I skip the cutscenes in my 2nd playthrough since I didn’t want to be bothered by the story and just play. Some RPG or big story-driven games can smell the plot twists from miles away.

But the disappointing story actually gave me hope of something else. Voice acting. I loved the voice acting in this game. It’s top-notch. The sound in this game is amazing. I really advise playing this game with a good headset. I played this game with a headset and it makes the game way more intense than with speakers. The music is amazing. I truly enjoyed the music in this game. Although, I felt that the silence of some areas was a nice choice too.

Steam

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For a long time, I didn’t have steam. But thanks to this game, I got an account. I am glad that I di since I got easy access to the updates for the game.

In the game, you can collect salvage to upgrade your weapons. It’s possible that you can finish the game without upgrading all your weapons.

You can also get new skills with skill points. You get a skill point when you have enough XP after killing enemies, emptying out tombs, being a meanie to a rabbit…

The animation in this game of the characters is amazing and well done. Even with my weak laptop, I had to put this game on low settings, I really saw that a lot of work went into this game’s animation. Some death scenes may be disturbing, but it adds to the game.

Before we go to the overview, a quick rant. Why do the bodies of the enemies despawn so quickly?

Oh yeah, multiplayer. I didn’t care much for it. I’m not that good in multiplayer. Sorry guys.

Overview

The good:

+ Good length.

+ Replay this game, sign me up.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Strong animation.

+ Amazing music & sound.

+ Good gameplay.

+ Visually an eye-candy.

The bad:

– Mediocre story.

– Some graphics tweaks are needed.

– The enemies may respawn but too few to be of any danger.

– Framerate issues.

Conclusion:

Do you need to buy this game? Why are you asking me this question? Yes! Yes, you should. It’s a great game and I found this game very enjoyable. The flaws of the game might get a bit in the game, and the multiplayer is decent.

But for the great gameplay and the amazing visuals, the game is worthy of a playthrough. Even if you have to sit through annoying quick-time events.

In any case, 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, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 80 / 100