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

dragonquestbuilders2cover.jpg

Official website

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

Illegal Building Is Fun!

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

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

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

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

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

Expanded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complaining out of love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may talk a bit more in depth about this game if I ever write a review on this game but for now, I think it’s about time that I end off this article right here. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get of your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. In a matter of fact, she didn’t get of her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further question.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot on your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with get more character development.

Now, during my playthrough the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but over all I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives of a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant in the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fair. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new area’s and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. On the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and the crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid up front. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration you can go to various locations. Each location has several area’s you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and area’s takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always paid attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high quality items. For some reason, I always found mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the craft menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that promt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients where at a certain location before I actually travelled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersions reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed into the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing while the clock ticked over would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is in my opinion a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. In here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese in the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a postgame chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post game, there is no free roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during me writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

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

 

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

corpse-party-apk.jpgGoogle Play Store link

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

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

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

The story warning

Corpse-Party-BD-EU-Oct.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to form

Corpse Party Blood Drive

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

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

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

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

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

The atmosphere man. The atmosphere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

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

Different game style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so much reading anymore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Sequel of the Reboot

2000900263Steam store page

I have to talk about this game. It’s the sequel to the game I started this blog with. On the 20th of March 2013, I reviewed Tomb Raider. Now, three years later in 2016, the PC port of the sequel finally arrived. I would have reviewed this game sooner, but due to the patches, my performance was going down the drain. The weakest link in my PC is my graphics card. My CPU, RAM and all other parts of my PC are up to speed with this game, but my graphics card gave me issues. So, after experimenting and trying out different things, I was finally able to play this game with a fluent FPS. Thanks to windowed mode and normal graphic settings. In any case, that’s enough of the behind the scenes stuff! Time to rate this tomb, is it really worth the adventure or is this one better left forgotten? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

The divine source

Riseofthetombraider.jpgAt the center of the story, is the divine source.  Something that Lara wants to find to prove that her father wasn’t crazy. The story uses a lot of cliches this time around. Also, some people can see some plot twists coming from a mile away.

That’s why the story wasn’t all that interesting to me. It was enjoyable but bland. In my opinion, it could have done a lot more with the story. My biggest issue with the story is that some characters didn’t get any development. Thankfully, the writing is very well done which makes up for the middle of the road story.

Something that was truly lacking, in my opinion, was the ending. The ending didn’t convince me why Lara wanted to spend her life raiding tombs. Another thing I didn’t like about the story is that at the start, it jumped around. When I got used to the desert area, I was back in the snowy area. That was a let down for me. Mostly because I feel that I’m unable to go back to check the area out after I finished the chapter. (Just found out, you can fast travel there. Odd thing, when you play the chapter… You have unlimited ammo. When you fast travel there, you don’t have unlimited ammo. That’s a strange issue)

Something that’s even better is the voice acting. The voice acting made some characters come alive! Guys and girls, if you are ever to make a sequel to this game, more of this top notch voice acting, please.

Look at that!

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-pc-scr-image-4173.jpgI have explained in the introduction of this article that my graphics card wasn’t strong enough to run this game at it’s highest settings. But, at the normal settings… This game looks jaw-dropping.

The visuals have improved an awful lot from the previous game and drew me even more into the world the developers created. Yet, I do that to point out that I had some visual glitches with the hair and bow. Here are some screenshots I took of these visual glitches:

2 arrows and the bowSnow forgot to render/how it worksLet’s shoot that climbing axe

But I have to say, that in the latest version of the game, I rarely saw these odd things happening.

The design and the animations of this game are amazing. Yet, this game had issues with performance. Between the release of the PC port in late January and today (mid-May), there have been 6 big patches to the game, mostly all to improve performance. Strangely enough, each patch, my performance wasn’t improving. But, since then, I didn’t have any PC/game crash. Yes, this game crashed so badly that it shut down and rebooted my PC.

Anyways, I’m not going to let this become a long rant about performance. The game is visually stunning and looks great. The animations are amazing as well. Also, the game feels bigger and bigger than the reboot.

There is one thing I didn’t care about in this game and that is the card collecting thing. It bugged out on me several times and I stopped caring. Why do I bring this up now? Since it’s the only negative when it comes to menu design. Such a shame, since we got such a great menu system. I really like how the game reloads your textures while you are playing when you set the visual settings higher and/or lower. It’s fun to see in my opinion. Also, I have to applaud the fact that everything is explained on the side when you tweak your options.

More of the same?

tomb_raider_pc_8.jpg

In this game, most of Lara’s abilities return from the previous game. Apart from some differences, every weapon in this game is the same.

One huge difference is made in this game. And that’s the health system. You can speed up the regen. Well, you can heal yourself. This eliminates the waiting to heal up and makes the combat a bit more intense.

This game has a very similar gameplay to the reboot. Which is great, since I really loved the reboot. But in this game, there are side quests and challenge tombs. While I have beaten the main story, this game has still a lot to offer. The main game is around the 20-hour mark, but in my playthrough, I got 60% completion. So, it’s time to go looking for the things I missed.

Also, in this game, you can learn foreign languages. So, sometimes you can’t decipher a scroll since you aren’t strong enough in ancient Greek. This little mechanic makes the game even more fun.

This game can be pretty difficult from time to time. I remember one area, I had to redo a couple of times. I have to mention, that I didn’t play on the hardest difficulty. If you are looking for a challenge, this game can give you one.

Before I forget, this game has an additional story DLC. I haven’t beaten it yet, but from what I have already played, it’s very interesting and fun to play through.

The controls of this game are excellent. Lara controls fluently and I didn’t make many changes to the default control scheme. I only had minor issues in the menus, but after I got used to them, it didn’t bother me too much.

To close off this review, I have to talk about the music and sound design. In last week’s article, I have already talked and praised the music. The music in this game is amazing. It really sets the mood for the game. Also, the sound design is nice as well. I have nothing to complain.

I played this game with a headset and sometimes I felt like I was really there. The visuals and the sound design are that good in my opinion.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Minor visual glitches

-Annoying performance issues with weaker graphic cards.

-Game crashes can cause a PC reboot.

-The story uses a lot of cliches this time around.

-The card game part. WHY?

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ The game is a good challenge. Both in combat, puzzle solving and feeding goodies.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is so close to being perfect. There are some parts of the game I haven’t reviewed. Like the 2nd game mode. The expeditions. That’s because I haven’t played enough of it to review it. So, that’s a surprise for you if you are interested in this game.

If the story was a bit more fleshed out, I would have given this game full marks. Most of the visual issues I had were fixed in the various patches this game got.

I recommend this game, but check before you buy since this game requires very high PC specs. And when you buy and play this game, be ready for a thrill ride from start to finish!

Score: 95/100

First Impression: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) ~ Zelda with a War.

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_Boxart

Official website

During my two week break, I got my hands on a Wii U. Honestly, it wasn’t really a break; I just didn’t had time due to various reasons. But let’s put that aside, since I think it’s time for a new article. Today, I’m going to give my first impression of one of the games I bought the Wii U for. Hyrule Warriors. It’s was so hard to not watch any video or read any review of it. Honestly, it paid off. The other games I bought are Zelda – Wind Waker HD and Bayonetta 1 & 2. Fun fact, when I told this to my buddy MiseryLC, he said: “Wow, I thought that those games were totally not your style.” Hehehehe. In any case, let’s begin with this article. As usual, feel free to write your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s a blast

maxresdefaultI expected a sort of hack-and-slash game. I got what I ordered. But what I didn’t expect was the amazing story.
Minor spoiler here,  but it feels like it’s the story about the big Hyrule war for the triforce that’s often mentioned in other Zelda stories.

While Nintendo published this game, the developers made sure to use the Zelda lore to its fullest extent. Koei Temco Games & Team Ninja used a lot of Zelda characters and none felt out of place for me. The new characters introduced could as well be Zelda characters, they are that good designed.

The voice acting of the narrator is a okay at best. I like my stories told with a bit more emotion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very  well done. What I really like about the game is that they didn’t give the Zelda characters voices. They used text boxes to tell the story. Very good job, since you didn’t disappoint the fans with possible badly chosen voices.

Also, when you buy the DLC for this game, it adds background stories to some characters. I haven’t played the DLC stories yet, but that will come soon. Since the game has it’s hooks in me. Since I bought my Wii U, I have played this game more then I like to admit.

Slash those enemies

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_57_Adventure_Mode_01The gameplay is easy to explain. You are in war with one or two other armies. You need to conquer keeps. You do that by first defeating the guards and then the keep boss. A keep spawns more allies. The more keeps you have, the better. In some scenarios, you have to avoid the death of some characters. This “defeat condition” made me seat on the edge of my chair various times.

The game uses some nasty tricks sometimes. When you think the character you need to protect is safe, a horde of enemies come and attack. Not only attack, but they charge towards the character you need to protect.

Various maps also have special situations that can occur. Like in Death Mountain, if you don’t conquer two keeps, the enemies throw rocks at your main base. When your main base gets destroyed, it’s game over. Same counts for the enemies. When you destroy their main base, it’s game over for them.

The only thing that they could improve on in the gameplay department is that the enemies might be a bit more intelligent or the allies for that matter. I encounter them sometimes just standing there. But truth to be told, writing code that would put AI to each and every enemy would be should a pain. You would think that the game is easy then. Well, if you keep paying attention and fight the right enemies or fight the right battles… this game isn’t that hard. Granted, I have only played on the normal difficulty now so I still have to play the “hard” difficulty.

In some other reviews I read a very valid point, this game can be repetitive. Honestly, it is. After a few hours, the game is repetitive… But I enjoy this game so much that I always want more fights and battles to play. So, I don’t mind the repetitiveness of this game.

Another complaint is that this game is a “mash buttons to win” game. Well, I have issues with that statement in general. The negative I see is that you have a way to win where there is no skill involved. But hey, using the combo’s makes a nice visual thingy too look at.

I want to talk more about the gameplay, but I will leave that up for the review when I finished the story mode and played a bit more of the other modes.

Is it good or is it great? 

maxresdefault (1)So, in the previous part, I touched upon the graphics of this game. And let me tell you, they are amazing. The areas you visit look colorful and/or have the right atmosphere. The battlefields are so well designed that the keeps are real strategic points that armies would use in a real life battle.

Apart from the game being eye candy, it’s really amazing how this game has such a fluent animation. Often, there is a lot going on, on screen but it rarely drops to a low framerate. And when it drops… It drops to 15-20 frames, which isn’t that bad. But in general, this game runs at a steady 60fps.

What blows my mind even more are the animations. There made me feel being a real bad-ass hero several times. I really like the combos you can pull off.

To wrap up, let me talk about the soundtrack. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. I adore the soundtrack of mainstream Zelda games and this game is no exception. The soundtrack is so well done, that I want to hunt down a CD of it.

So, I think I’m going to wrap up my first impressions here. I actually want to talk a lot more about this game but I’m leaving that for the review. And also, long time readers know that I often leave some parts out since I want that some parts are for you guys to figure out.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope to welcome you in at another article on my blog. But until then, take care and game on!

First Impression: Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

600px-Tomb_Raider_4_coverTomb Raiders.net entry

The year is 1999 – 2000. Young NekoJonez was 8 years old. I only had a gameboy and quite an old pc. It could run old dos games and such just fine but as soon as I started to play games that were released after 2001, my computer freaked out. So, I grew up with handhelds. Although, there is one game I played as a child while not being 100% allowed. I played Tomb Raider 5. A game I picked up at a local toy store for a few bucks. I heard quite a lot of rumors of an Indiana Jones style game on the PlayStation, and that they were able to take a peek when the big brother or parent played the game. So, curious Jonez is curious and when I played TR 5, I was kinda disappointed. The controls really threw me off. Years later, I get myself the Tomb Raider bundle after having so fond memories of Legend, Anniversary, Underworld and it’s latest reboot. So, the last few weeks I gave TR 4 a try… Did it change my opinion when I was a child? Let’s take a look at the game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Editoral note: The reason I linked to Tomb Raiders.net their informative entry of this game instead of my usual habit to link to WikiPedia or the official site is because I used their images for this article. They deserve the credit. 

Tutorial

baddies4

I choose this game since it’s one that I wasn’t able to play as a kid. When I bought two TR games, they actually messed up and put TR III on the disc where IV should be. And they put TR IV on the one which needed TR III. I still own that copy, so I might show it in a video.

TR III and TR V worked just fine. Until I tried to run TR IV. The game crashed as soon as it wanted to boot. And because I didn’t knew a lot about computers back then, I wasn’t able to fix it. Then Steam came around and offered me this bundle of all the Tomb Raider games. So, I bought it. I was surprised when I saw that my 64-bit beast of a gaming machine was able to run the game just fine.

The game opens like how I remember the other old school Tomb Raider games open. With an introduction screen with ‘new’, ‘load’,’options’ and ‘exit’. In the background you have an animation of a few levels you will encounter in the game. I adore these title screens since they give the game that much more charm.

Yet, I wasn’t pleased with the first level. Not at all. With little to no backstory, you are dropped into the tomb and you have a guide with you that explained all mechanics of the game to you. The voice acting is a bit off. There are sometimes small moments of silence between lines and the young Lara has barely any emotion put into it. (At least, that’s my opinion).

I wanted to explore the level, yet, out of the dialogue of the tutorial I felt that it wasn’t really allowed. What really made me annoyed is the fact that you don’t have a weapon in this level while there are enemies.

Tank Larabaddies1

Truth to be told, it actually let me get used to the controls. The controls that threw me off and stopped me from playing the Tomb Raider games in the past. So, this brings me to one annoying thing in this game. The menu to configure your controls. While it works fine, it doesn’t recognize azerty keyboard lay-outs. It isn’t the biggest issue though, it’s that you can barely “read” the menu. It’s quite hard to actually make out what key does what unless you take out a ruler and put it on the screen. It’s a nitpick I know, but it’s rather annoying. … Oh, I actually lied. There is an even bigger issue. You can bind one key to more then one action.

The controls are responsive yet they are outdated. Playing old games like this really proves to me how hard wired my mind is in using the controls in a game now-a-days. Yet, after you get used to it, you will be able to pull off some nice moves. Yet, there are two major issues I have with the controls… and that is how picky the game can be of your location to be able to pick up an item or pull a lever. The second issue I have is how awkward the controls are for swinging on a rope. At least to me. Maybe I’m too used to the control scheme Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine used.

 Gameplay

scenery1I think it would be unfair to judge the game on graphics and animation, in a way. They are quite outdated and on modern systems they then to glitch out a bit. Yet, I don’t think it’s an issue. The presentation brings an amazing atmosphere. It really feels you are exploring a tomb.

After the tutorial level, there is little to no explanation on what to do. Thankfully, after you solved a puzzle, a small cutscene plays showing you the general direction you need to go in.

It actually blows my mind how well designed this game is. You can explore around and find hidden areas and I rarely got the feeling of being lost. While I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about in this article, I wanted to mention the lack of an ingame map… Actually, it isn’t an issue. Since it helps to build the feeling that you are exploring a location nobody has visited for quite some time.

So, let’s talk about the music. This is actually difficult for me since I feel that the soundtrack of later games are better then the old soundtracks. Before you write angry comments trying to explain to me what is wrong with my opinion here, let me explain. What I mean is that the more action packed soundtrack fits the atmosphere more then the more calm, bit creepy soundtrack of the old school games.

Actually, I like the soundtrack of this game. From what I have heard, it adds to the creepy atmosphere you would get when you are really exploring tombs. It fits more to the style of the old school Tomb Raider games.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article for now. I know that I talked a bit too much about the controls in this game. If you didn’t get the clue, I’m quite enjoying this game. If I finish it, I’ll surely write a review article about it. I wanted to focus in this article more on the issues I have now-a-days with the controls and why they actually made me stop playing Tomb Raider as a kid. I think I should return on that topic.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I wish you an amazing day and I hope to meet you another time. Take care, NekoJonez.

Android Games you should try #3 – New phone

gooleplaySo, it has been quite some time since I wrote an entry on my blog about Android games but since I got this new phone, Samsung Galaxy Ace 3, I started play a ton of Android games again. Now, it’s time to write a new entry in this series. Time to revive it from the dead. So, because it has been quite some time, I think I have some explaining to do. In these articles I talk about several Android games that got me hooked or were fun to play. But these games are casual games that don’t have enough content to make a fully fledged review. So, I short each game extremely shortly, give you a rating and a download link. And as a cherry on the pie, all the apps are free and I try to have as less ads as possible. So, yeah. Anyways, when you have suggestions for games I should try out, feel free to say it in the comments. But for the rest, I invite you to leave a comment about this article and or your thoughts of the games or one of them. 

New things in the series

Alright, before we start the actual listing of the games, I have a few new “rules” for this series. First, I will list these under “Game Quickies” and “Game Review”. Since it’s kinda both, it’s a quick review of a game. But it’s not really a full “game quicky” since I talk about more games then 1.

Another change I do is that I’m way stricter towards the quality of the games. What I mean here, is that the game needs to be addicting and fun. In other words, I’m going to try to avoid the clones of Bejeweled and games like that.

Also, games that require constant internet connection or accounts, have a smaller chance. Unless there is a benefit to having an account.

And the games need to be free! It’s possible that I list a demo on here but the demo needs to have enough content to be enjoyable. Games that allow you to play only a few levels for free and promise an overload of levels if you pay won’t appear on this list!

Oh, and games that require Facebook or any other social media… Oh heck no! I hate them so much. I don’t want to recommend you games where you possibly have to spam your friends for lives or spam your wall. Forget it.

So yeah, that’s a heads up before we start. I think I might have been a bit too strict on the games for this article, but hey, sometimes some quality control is good.

#1: Mine To Escape

unnamedThis game is quite fun, yet very flawed. I finished this game in the course of a day or three. I’m quite sure that you’re able to finish this game in one very long sitting.

First, the negative things. The fact that you need to do things one by one makes you swipe your phone like crazy when you want to sell eg 10+ iron ore. Also, this game has only one planet. So, it’s quite short. Once the addiction kicks in, you are nearly finished with this game.

The good is that this game is challenging. You truly need to keep an eye on that oxygen. Also, sometimes ores are hard to find.

And it’s fun. You literally tap your time away. It a game like Minecraft, were you just tap one more block before you stop. While some people would find the one and only song quite annoying, I didn’t find it that. I rather enjoyed the music. But truth to be told, this game could use various tracks.

Score: 3.5/5

#2: Choice of the Dragon

ss (2014-04-20 at 10.09.09)Besides cats, I’m a big fan of dragons. Besides that, I’m quite a big fan of visual novel and adventure games.

This game tries to revive a genre thought dead. The adventure “choose your own path” genre. Basically a RPG but with lots and lots of text.

But here is the twist though, you are a dragon AND there are extremely different playstyles. Sweet no?

Don’t I have your interest just yet? Oh, you can play this game with your own music at the background. What do you want more? What, text? Deep story? Yes, this game has this!

The writing is amazing. It’s almost you are reading a book where there is somebody talking to you when the main character, in this case you the Dragon, decides the actions.

I have two complaints. The fact you can’t choose your own name and the words used might confuse non native English speakers.

Score: 4.5/5

#3: 1001 Attempts 

1001Attempts

This game, yes please! If my memory serves me correctly, this game is ad-free! And it’s big fun! This game is simple, stay alive as long as you can.

This game is easily to learn but hard to master. Each time you pick up a jewel, the game gets more difficult. It throws more and more projectiles to you and it’s not so easily to follow all the action going on.

This game doesn’t waste time with unneeded things. You can easily jump straight into the game and play as long as you want. This game is highly addicting. Since you have that “one more try” feeling.

I have no complaints about this game. So, worthy of a download!

Score: 5/5

#4: Hoplite

hopDo you want to play a simple 2D rouge-like adventure game? Well, you are in luck! This game is just for you then! This is also a puzzle game.

One word of warning though, this game isn’t easy. If you aren’t careful, you can die quicker then you can say your curse words.

But it feels so rewarding when you are able to beat a floor and move on to the next!

What I like so much about this game is how simple yet deep this game is. There is a lot of strategy involved to it.

Maybe with a bit of shame, I have to admit that I haven’t gotten further then the 5th floor. Tell me in the comments how far you got.

I haven’t found anything negative about this game. So, it gets the full 5 stars!

Score: 5/5

Closing words

This article has seen multiple versions. Now that I finally have my finished version, I’m glad that it’s done. I have added and removed a lot of games. I think that I tried at least 50 games for this article. Don’t worry, there will be new games I recommend in the future.

Leave me a comment which is your favorite game I recommended here. Or have you played one of these games before? Or which game looks interesting? Anyways, grab your phone and start playing. Oh, and if you have suggestions, please drop them in the comments as well. Maybe I’ll add them to one of the future articles in this series.

NekoJonez: First Impression: Alice: Madness Returns (PC ~ Steam) – What Happened?

AliceMadnessReturnsWikipedia entry

(Warning, this article is written in a special way. I’m done quite fine, it’s written the theme of the game more.)

Dear readers. My fantasy might be real. 75 articles published by myself on the ButtonSmashers Blog. I don’t need a doctor about that. But the negative imagery is taking it’s toll on me. It’s hard as a writer to  see people you love and care about turn in these horrid monsters. Now that I’m back fighting in this land, it’s time to set things right. Or do I want to go back? I don’t know. I thought this wouldn’t be a pretty sight. That the game would suck. But as soon as I started playing it, it blew my mind. It’s actually good that I’m doing this. Maybe I have to let go. I have no clue. Maybe this game might provide the answers for me. Maybe, if I take a look into this madness I might find answers. Yeah, it will return… the madness. And feel free to comment on this, your opinion on it or on the game. Return… madness…

Bad cover hides a good game

AMR-03_SCREENDid the intro creep you out? Don’t worry, I won’t continue to write like that for the rest of the article. It would be too hard to talk about a game like that. But I thought it would make for a nice introduction.

The tale of Alice in Wonderland is most likely not a strange or a new one to you. Although, it might be that it has been quite some time since you have seen or heard of it. This game takes a rather interesting spin on it.

From what I can gather, after several years, Wonderland got corrupted. Alice gets visions from it and goes back to Wonderland. I haven’t gotten more into the story yet since I was more focused on the game then on the story. More on that later.

From what gather from the story, it’s quite unique. If I’m right and this game shows the scenario: “What would happen to wonderland if Alice went crazy?”… Well, then the story is doing quite well.

So, the title of the part is bad cover hides a good game. What I mean with that is that EA found it needed to have a “right in your face” protection for this game. With serial keys and verifying servers and all that lame stuff. Also, at first glance, the main menu gave me a bit of “meh” impression. But it gets better once you play the actual game.

Madness… MADNESS. THIS IS SP- nope. 

70846_screenshot_07I have to admit something. I can’t judge on the keyboard controls. I saw that this game supports a controller. And when I see that, I don’t think twice about using it. Honestly, I sometimes prefer playing with a controller. It might have to do with the fact that I had keys popping off my keyboards…

Anyways, from what I can tell, the controls are smooth. I did had to adjust the default settings a bit to have better sensitivity but hey, that’s why there are options.

In this game, Alice had various power-ups. You get them through the course of your adventure. Up until now, I got a shrink power-up and a special sort of gun. And then the madness begins. Oh yes. It does.

This game offers you multiple paths with one being the correct one. But if you explore the hidden paths, you find collectables. While I have no clue in what these will be used for, it’s adds to the replay value and it’s a good thing that they implemented this.

Talking back about the controls, they are good. Nearly each button has a different feature. But thankfully it’s so straight forward, you learn which button to press after some time of play.

The gameplay consists out of various platforming puzzles. You need to kill all the enemies or find something to activate platforms. You know, the usual stuff. What’s unusual though is the fact you can’t really die. Well, I’m not 100% sure about that. When you fall off cliffs, Alice bursts into butterflies and you get right back at the platform you died at to try again. This is rather neat.

So, why is the title of this part “Madness”? Well, because of the various collectables and the very variation in the gameplay… There might be too much things going on at once. And it works for this game.

Must finish?

Alice-VistaSCREENThe game has an automatic save-feature. Thank the lords. Lately, I’m getting used to the auto-saving feature. This avoids that you are broken out of your immersion with the game.

Since I recently finished some games I was playing, I can now focus on this game. I want to finish this game because it caught my attention. The last time a PC game did that was Alan Wake.

The game has an amazing design. While it’s not going for the most detailed graphics and over the top visuals, this game shows off an amazing art style that really fits the story they want to tell.

You truly feel that you’re in a corrupted fantasy world based on the story of Alice. The animation, no complaints. I think it’s really well done. Maybe some of the PC elite may say that I’m wrong but I find this game to be quite the eye candy.

To finish this article, let’s talk about the music. It has been playing in another tab while I was writing this article. And while I haven’t heard a lot of the soundtrack yet, the music I heard truly made my fantasy go wild. What’s going to happen to Alice? How are they going to continue this game? It’s a mystery to me but once I’m willing to solve.

The sounds are fitting too. But I have to pay closer attention to give a more detailed opinion about it.

So, that was my 75th article here on ButtonSmashers. While I could have written something more special, I think that 100 articles is more fitted for that. Anyways, thanks for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. This game looks like an awful lot of fun and I can’t wait to see more.

Review #025: Alan Wake – American Nightmare (PC – Steam) review ~ The Teasing End?

Alan-Wake-American-Nightmare-Box-ArtWikipedia entry

So, before I begin at this article, I have to mention something for my readers. I found out that I made a mistake in the numbering of my reviews. I was off by 2 from number 15. So, I had some work fixing them all. But don’t worry, none of my URL’s changed. So, Remedy has released a sort of sequel to their amazing game Alan Wake. I haven’t written a first impression of this game but I had written way back a first impression of the original. To be honest, you may call this game more of an extended DLC mission then an actual game. But I’m going to review it if it were a stand-alone game. If that’s okay with you. And if that isn’t okay with you, I’m sorry, articles don’t rewrite automatically like Alan Wake can. My apologies for that. Man, I haven’t even started with the actual review and I’m already making references to the game. Anyways, my best buddy MiseryLC has watched a LP of this game. He found that this game was pretty sweet. But do I agree with my best buddy or are there some things in this game that make me dislike this game? Let’s see. Oh, like always, feel free to comment on this article and or the game. 

Compare it to the original? 

559233-alan-wake-s-american-nightmare-windows-screenshot-approachingWould it be wise to compare this game to it’s original? Well, honestly that isn’t the best idea ever. Because there are a lot of things different in this game then in the original. While keeping the same formula, this game is nothing like the original.

Let’s first talk about the story. The story is told differently this time around. Real life actors played some cutscenes. While in the original, if I remember correctly, only small parts has been done with real actors. The acting scenes are extremely welcome and add to this game.

The story in this game is rather interesting. It aids the gameplay quite well. But the end of the story of this game is extremely weak. It was a balls to the wall action story with some little twists but I feel like the first game had a way stronger story.

Let’s talk about the graphics for a moment. While my laptop couldn’t handle the highest settings very well, the normal settings gave extremely neat settings. The dark feel is back full force in this title then in the original. With some attention to detail, I barely have anything to complain about the graphics.

But, the collision detection is a totally different story. Some objects that you know can move, don’t. Yeah, ever had a chair that doesn’t move a pixel when you run against it? Thankfully, this issue isn’t that big and isn’t present with the enemies.

Nailed it!

imagesI’m so sorry for the pun. Wait, you don’t understand the pun? Let me explain, there is actually a nail gun in this game. Yes, a nail gun. Remember my review of the original where I said that the selection of guns wasn’t the best? Well, this game totally fixes that!  The interface for selecting guns is a ton better.

There is also a use in game for collecting the pages. I don’t quite remember if there was a use in the previous game for them apart from getting the backstory. In this game they are used for unlocking guns. Interesting.

This game has some changes to the gameplay as well. First of all, the health system works quite differently. You don’t fully get your health back. You can have 3 hits from the toughest enemy and you die. But your health bar is now in three parts. So, when it’s somewhere mid-way the 2nd part, it will only fill the 2nd again instead of the third as well.

Also, the compass is quite useful. It has a bit more icons then in the original. You can’t see the full picture as far as I know but certain clear icons appear when you’re close to ammo or light to regen.

This game has also various new enemies. While the design of the enemies is the same then in the original, the new enemies more then make it for it. From enemies that duplicate when you shine light on them to enemies that can divide themselves into birds. It made the game more challenging and I quite liked that.

Flaws

559229-alan-wake-s-american-nightmare-windows-screenshot-this-poorSo, before we continue this review, I have to admit that I haven’t played the survival part of this game. It looks like fun but it’s not totally my gameplay type. Yet, it’s a must have addition to the game.

Anyways, the flaws of this game. For starters, the final part of the game is a tad bit too hard. Think back at what I said earlier, the game has an incredible weak ending. So in other words, you get a little reward for that high input.

The biggest flaw this game makes is that it’s extremely short. According to Steam, I finished this game in 5 hours. While I honestly don’t believe that, I can’t deny that this game is rather short.

Another thing that might turn people off is that there are very few settings in this game. Due to the nature of the story, you will see some locations several times. The variety in this game is rather low.  That’s a sad part.

Also, I have noticed three times that the scenery moved for no reason. And it didn’t get explained either. Why does a big cinema screen suddenly move from one side to the parking lot to another side. I’m sure I didn’t get turned around or anything.

So, before we end this review, notice how I didn’t talk about the animation, music and sound effects. If you’re interested in the game, check them out for yourself. And if you want to know my opinion, they are great. I just like to don’t talk about certain things of the game so you have some surprises after reading this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Short.

– Weaker story then the original.

– Some repetition.

– Some things got unexplained that should have been explained, Dues Ex Machina’s and scenery that suddenly changes.

The good:

+ Classic Alan Wake gameplay with some tweaks.

+ Neat bonus story (while not perfect.)

+ Amazing design.

+ Unlockables.

+ Additional gamemode survival.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Great sound design.

Final thoughts:

If you want to buy this game, buy it on Steam. The low price of 9€ is actually totally worth it. Don’t buy it for a larger price. Since this game doesn’t offer more value then that.

At the start of this article I talked about how this game should have been an expansion pack instead of a stand-alone. This would have increased my final score.

If you liked Alan Wake, don’t pass on this game. It’s a great game, sadly it’s short.

Score: 70 / 100.

Score, if it had been an expansion pack: 80 / 100

First Impression: Nickelodeon – Avatar: The Legend Of Aang (PC) ~ A messy pile of junk.

Image from Spong.com

Image from Spong.com

Wikipedia link to the multiplatform game article.

I’m going to not mess with you guys. This game is a pile of junk. I saw scores of 5 out of 10 for this game but that’s way to much for this disaster. Honestly, I own also the PS2 and GBA version of this game and it’s a lot better then this game. The PC game nearly feels like an insult to the series, gamers and fans of the show alike. I’m even surprised that THQ published this train wreck.  Never have I seen this bad of production quality for a game released in 2007. Yeah, it made me facepalm several times. I bought this game as a free game along two other games and I kind of regret paying my hard earned cash as a student for this game. For any parents that want to buy an Avatar game for their kids, stay away from this game. I’ll fully play this game but it’s already clear to me that this game is going to get an extremely bad score. Let’s dive into my first impressions of this “game”. 

Signs of bad things to come.

I wished I had seen this at the store but the box-art betrays already that this game is actually a bad game. The first thing that betrays the bad state of the game is “Journey through 6 exotic locations.” Yup, six of them. And here is the cherry on the cake, it’s the very first sentence on the box after the expected: “Water. Earth. Fire. Air.” So, the game length must be short. But I can forgive that for a game based on a TV-show since they are mostly meant to milk money out of your pocket(s).

But then I look to the system specs. And this made me drop my jaw. What I saw may shock you. This game, released in 2007, can run on Windows 98/ME/2000 and XP. No mention of Windows Vista, that was released a year before this game. The low system specs really made me worry. avatar1

Then I opened the box. No instruction manual nor advertisements. Odd considering it’s from a TV-Show. But for whatever reason, the developers decided that it’s a good idea to put the installation instructions on the disc itself. I’m quite serious, it’s on the disc. What you need to do when the game doesn’t start automatically.

And it made me skin crawl reading it. Most computers have DVD drives for a while now, and they still use CD’s? Yes, this game is using a CD-Rom. It isn’t shy to hide it. It display this on the disc itself. I had to take other games to actually confirm that other games didn’t have this and some big games didn’t have the CD-Rom logo.

It gets worse.

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The lack of (decent) screenshots, I can explain. I had to go and make screenshots myself. This game is actually skipped by a lot of reviewers and that’s another sign of how bad this game is.

In addition to that, the game has no option menu. So, you can’t adjust the controls, or change your screensize. Oh no, that’s too advanced for the developers of this game.

What’s also to advanced is creating an acceptable installation program. It’s as basic as you can get. Even the name is slapped with red letters, almost with paint. With annoying background music. The installation is annoying. Plus the disc spins so fast that I was afraid my disc was going to be damaged.

Then to the launcher. The game is even bad there. It has an option to re-install the game. Sigh, what’s the use? Let’s go to the actual game. Let’s not rant about the bad menu and the possibility to replay the introduction movie. And that the extra button doesn’t have an animation.

In game.

The controls are awkward. You barely use the keyboard. Walking goes extremely slow. The game plays like a point and click game. The dialogues are extremely cheesy and not enjoyable. The tutorial is basically in a conversation and it made me sigh extremely deep. Plus, you can’t click anywhere to go to the next lines in a dialogue. Nope, you need to click exactly on their arrow. Lucky us, that the space bar skips it too.

Above that, they don’t use the buttons on your keyboard. Nope, mostly everything is done with your mouse.

The graphics are a joke. It’s almost made for a portable system. The above view doesn’t help the game visually. But visually it’s even worse as some characters look the same.

The voice acting sounds bad. I even think that it isn’t the original cast that did the voices. And if they did, I’m confused and I can’t believe it.

Invisible walls are everywhere. Even on some places where it isn’t supposed to be.

Plus you can’t sit on an air cloud when trying to attack. Nope, not going to happen.

And finally, you don’t have any visual representation of when the game saves.

I’m going to leave it here. I’ll torture myself with finishing this game but I think I’m clear already, avoid this game. It isn’t worth your money. At all.