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Average User Score: tbdSep 16, 2018If you grew up in a household with more than one kid, you know the struggle. You're sitting down for a nice game of Goldeneye 64 and then inIf you grew up in a household with more than one kid, you know the struggle. You're sitting down for a nice game of Goldeneye 64 and then in walks your little brother, whom wants to join in on the fun. The next thing you know, you're sitting in a bathroom stall with the only entry point covered in proximity mines while kicking back shoving handfuls of Doritos in your mouth, waiting for the inevitable meltdown. Sure, you could play something cooperative, but how can you torture your younger sibling if you are required to work together? Enter Ratalaika Games' newest release, Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition.
The title follows two robots, whom are tasked with completing a number of timed trials or face certain death as all service bots do at the end of their service (sounds like a career in customer service to me). Failure leaves them in the scrap heap, whereas success will set them free. To complete the puzzles, you'll need to work as a team (or solo if a player two isn't available) as each player must carry their own weight to make it to the end of the level. I know, this doesn't sound all that torturous yet, but we'll get there.
At the beginning of each level, one of the two bots will be locked behind a gate, with an ever descending ceiling that slowly creeps down on the secondary player. The free bot will have to quickly move forward through the level to seek out the large red button that will release the second character. Once both of the players are free, you'll simply need to book for the exit. While this is extremely basic, the fact that both robots will have to manage their battery life adds the true challenge.
Before sitting down to play this with a second player, you'll need to evaluate their skillset. Is this person someone who can sit calmly and wait their turn? If the answer is no, you'll likely want to play solo, since doing any action, be it walking, running, or jumping depletes your battery. There are a few ways to combat this, such as walking on any of the brightly lit tiles on the path to the exit, collecting one of the few battery pick-ups tucked away within the environments, or by simply giving some of your energy to the other player, which can be done wirelessly from any distance. The kicker is the exit will require a fair amount of energy to unlock, putting real weight on decisions and deterring you from making needless actions. Since my young, slightly impatient child was my co-op buddy on this venture, it's needless to say I found the solo mode to be more enjoyable simply due to the fact that he couldn't sit still when it was his turn to be locked away in the tube (Not So Fun Fact: Jumping into the platform that works as a creeping death will also result in an early demise).
The game falls on the easier end of the spectrum when it comes to the difficulty, with many levels only having a hazard or two to evade on your way to the exit. The short levels fail to hit their stride until late into the game, which comes all too quickly due to the fact that the game has just over 20 levels which can be completed in a matter of minutes. Once completed, there isn't much to revisit, unless you wish to seek out 100% completion on each level by collecting the batteries or activating each of the floor plates. The completion time for each level is tracked albeit fairly useless, since they serve no purpose outside of a few achievements associated with beating specific levels within a set time.
The only weak point in the gameplay is the drag mechanic that comes into play late into the game. Most platformers use this as a tool to allow you to complete puzzles or reach secret areas - that is the same here, with the single exception being that the boxes or cubes are too light and often will move when you try to jump on them, effectively making them useless and requiring too many actions to properly move vertically, resulting in a drained battery more often than it should.
The presentation is similar to previous Ratalaika Games releases, with blocky features and characters making up the bulk of the visuals. This suits Twin Robots well, but is nowhere near awe inspiring. Towards the end, I was growing weary of seeing the same color scheme and assets that are repeated throughout the game. The same can be said for the sound effects and music. The one standout feature is the responsive controls which make breezing through the levels enjoyable, even if they are over all too soon.
Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition is a decent platformer even though it is on the short side. I would have liked to see more of the later levels come into play earlier in the game, making room for greater challenges, but I think this is a good starting point in what I hope to be a long running series that I can revisit with my son once he learns patience... or gets the opportunity to torture a sibling of his own.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Sep 14, 2018Shotguns, assault rifles, pistols, SMGs, and pretty much any type of artillery you could ask for are present and in huge numbers. With theShotguns, assault rifles, pistols, SMGs, and pretty much any type of artillery you could ask for are present and in huge numbers. With the exception of the range, the guns are an enjoyable means to an end and pack a decent punch at close to mid-range. Unfortunately, even the sniper rifles lack much in terms of their effective distance (shooting too far away made me feel like the guns were loaded with crayons), often requiring the player to get closer than they would like. Knowing this, the assault rifles are likely going to be your default. Meticulous exploration will net you guns regularly (I had upwards of ten before completing the tutorial area), with random drops present, akin to the Borderlands franchise, and you'll likely never receive the same gun twice. Each of the weapons bring something different to the table, but can feel like situational options as the game handles them in a less than thrilling way deterring experimentation.
At the onset of the game you'll have to create your character, utilizing a decent amount of customization options while selecting one of a wide range of classes that are more or less adept with certain types of guns. Initially, I went with the Marksman class, assuming that more range would suit my playstyle, allowing me to casually sit back and pick off enemies from a distance. I could not have been more wrong. The enemies you'll face will gladly take a few hits to the head and keep coming at you like a dimwitted school yard bully who's had too many steroid infused chicken nuggets. While you can interchange your arsenal with weapons geared toward the other classes, the game tends to drop items early into the game that are more pertinent to the class you choose. After struggling my way to the first boss encounter, dying plenty of times along the way, I came to the realization that my class may not be the best option and started over with a more rounded class. Much to my chagrin, the game only permits you to have one active character at a time, resulting in any progress should choose to sample one of the other classes to be lost. I found this limitation to be a huge disappointment as it discourages leaving your comfort zone.
You'll spend the bulk of your time exploring the game world seeking out obelisks that function much like the campfire's from DS, with some pretty hardcore changes. You'll need to visit the obelisks often to save, change out your loadout (insert sad face), level up, refill your ammo or health potions (only the latter can be found in the game world), and in the event you die, these work as a respawn point. Unlike most games, you can't manipulate the save system to ease your way into the game world, as each and every time you leave a small room or area, the enemies will respawn in the exact same place, whether you die or not. Like the games that inspired it, death is not the end, but merely a small hurdle that you will face time and time again, with little consequence since your inventory and most of your progression is kept intact, sans your scrap.
Scrap is used to do pretty much anything to your character within the game world - if you want to upgrade your character or gun, you'll need pretty crazy amounts of it - so much so that you'll often wonder if you are really making any progress at all. In the event you suffer a premature demise, you'll lose all of your scrap and be forced to either forfeit it or carefully backtrack to where you died to reacquire it. Dying en route will cause all of the previously stashed scrap to be lost completely, making the loss that much more disappointing. The static enemy placement makes this a bit more forgiving, albeit at the risk of repetition or boredom setting in, since you can easily change up your tactics on subsequent attempts with the knowledge of what you're up against being available. What doesn't work as well here is the ammo usage, due to the fact if you run out, you're out until you find another obelisk and will often have to backtrack, avoiding the same enemies time and time again just to refill it.
Your ammo count is just as important, if not more so than your stamina or health bar. Offering meager amounts that feel more in line with a survival horror game such as The Evil Within or Silent Hill, each and every shot is important. Sadly, the aiming mechanics are a bit clunky and imprecise, essentially requiring the optional aim assist to be turned on to avoid wasting the precious commodity. Because of this, you will have to rely on the not so great melee attacks more than you rightfully should. Outside of the melee attack being sluggish and lacking any true feeling of power, the controls are passable.
The reliance on the ranged combat brings something new to the table, while adding some new features that skew the difficulty here and there to make Immortal: Unchained feel new and accessible, yet retain the challenging gameplay the genre is known for.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Sep 11, 2018Admittedly, I've never been too into the Souls series. I understand the appeal of them; I was one of the believers, owning the first printAdmittedly, I've never been too into the Souls series. I understand the appeal of them; I was one of the believers, owning the first print special edition of Demon's Souls before launch day courtesy of Amazon. I know plenty of people that love the games, with my brother getting the platinum trophy in each he has played. But something has always felt off for me in them, and the more difficult 2D games that follow a similar path fail for me in a similar manner.
Death's Gambit is a game that may seem like the aforementioned series to someone that doesn’t have a whole lot of experience or time sunken into one of the now extremely popular Japanese games. It's amazing to see how far From Software has gone, inspiring a new subset of genre often referred to as Souls-like. Similar to Metroidvanias, these don't necessarily play by all the same rules, but certainly take inspiration. Technically speaking, this is closer in relation to Salt & Sanctuary, but my experience with that game is even more limited, so I can't speak to that with much authority. So let's jump into the game.
Starting out you'll find that you've been resurrected by death incarnate and are to avenge those who have fallen, more or less. I was taken aback that the game had voice acting, and is pretty good to boot (for the more prevalent characters). The art style is the definitive high point of the game, both in character design and environments. Knowing nothing about this game, the attached screenshots would've intrigued me enough to buy this. But art is hardly enough to make the game enjoyable, and for that we need to discuss the gameplay.
Death's Gambit is no stranger to the idea of killing you. If you're familiar with the You Died screen, you'll feel very much at home in this. The difference here is that it's not always seemingly your fault. There are plenty of games where people will exclaim the game has cheated, and I don't doubt that this will have people doing the same. Deaths are not always seen as fair, and that frustration will certainly translate to how enjoyable the game is for the player. I don't shy away from difficulty in games, but when the odds are stacked against you without enough reward for the duration of the frustration, it's hard to justify playing it.
Something that I've only really seen in the likes of Shadow of Mordor (likely in Shadow of War too, but I couldn't be bothered to play past the tutorial) that makes this unique is the reaction to your character's death. For example, I fought a woman (I believe she's the first "boss" you encounter, if I remember correctly) who got the better of me, and when I ran back into the room after respawning she was confused and accused me of being one of the many undying demons. The game uses this mechanic to almost encourage death to see what will be said, as it fleshes out the world a bit more. But many of the game’s bosses will provide less of a challenge for you than just wandering around the world early on. I played as an assassin class, and the dodge behind and attack method worked without fail on the bosses, often being hard up to provide any challenge whatsoever. Perhaps the other classes that require different strategies would offer a bit more difficulty - for those that want to stick to their class though, the game has a heroic mode of the boss after leaving the room and coming back in.
In the past couple of months, we've gotten a wide assortment of 2D Metroidvanias that range from good to great, such as Chasm, Guacamelee 2, and Dead Cells. At a glance, this looks like it'll be joining them, but it ends up being quite a different beast altogether. While aesthetically stylish with a world you'll backtrack through, many of the elements feel unfinished or rushed. The game’s platforming is pretty standard and borderline boring at times. As mentioned previously, the difficulty seems to be falsely implemented for the sake of taking your time opposed to creating a sense of accomplishment. I also ran into a number of technical problems while playing it, but they may have been patched by the time this review goes live as that was closer to launch.
In theory, Death's Gambit should be an unrequited success. On paper it sounds wonderful, but the execution is flawed and at times unappealing. There are plenty of things to enjoy in this, especially if you are coming to it for the RPG aspects, but for those that want a solid Metroidvania platformer will find it to be a bit lacking. With future patches this can be something that shines, and White Rabbit's next game may very well send people down the rabbit hole, but this one falls just short of it.… Expand
Average User Score: tbdSep 7, 2018The story takes place in the future, where a biological disease has struck all of the world’s youth including your own child, resulting inThe story takes place in the future, where a biological disease has struck all of the world’s youth including your own child, resulting in them turning into vicious savages. The only known treatment is to essentially turn them into soulless husks of their former selves. While I don’t quite understand why this was an alternative solution, the powers that be send a shuttle named the Pilgrimage to a newly discovered planet in hopes to start over. Unfortunately, your husband Ethan is on the shuttle and it has lost all communication with the known world. Thirteen years later, you find yourself on a rescue operation to find out the where or what caused the team to go missing.
The story will take you across multiple locales, some more straightforward than others. The early stages task you with navigating your futuristic home as a pregnant Elea during a pretty wicked storm, while the later segments take place on the ship en route to the last known location of the Pilgrimage, and others taking place in…. well I don’t really know how to explain it, but they’re quite different. Throughout your time with Elea, you’ll wonder if there is an otherworldly force that is causing hallucinations, or if Elea is simply going mad due to the loss of her family. Over the course of the story, you’ll experience glitches, flashbacks, and mysterious visions that are thought provoking yet unnerving. The game rarely ventures beyond the hard sci-fi story into horror, yet I was regularly feeling uneasy, thinking something was just around the corner. This can be attributed to the amazing overall visual and audio presentation.
Almost every visual asset looks amazing: bricks show so much detail that they feel as if you could reach out and touch them; metal shines with reflections that look photo realistic; the ocean scene early into the game is downright breath taking. Even the previously mentioned glitches look spectacular, with only mild tearing that doesn’t appear to be part of the visual change rarely breaking immersion. The few exceptions to this are various items that you can pick up and inspect, often looking flat or overly cartoonish, making them stand out much more than they should. The character models could have used a bit more work as well. The human characters all look as if they were taken straight from a wax museum, with overwhelmingly shiny yet flat looking facial features. The ambient sound effects only add to the already immersive experience. Sadly, the writing doesn’t give the voice overs much to work with, leaving yet another weak link in what could have been an amazing chain of events.
The first segment in Elea’s home takes place primarily over the phone, or this world’s version of one, with her husband. Around the five minute mark, their constant use of pet names and loving phrases made me want to gag. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but their conversation was never ending and made me want to run as quickly as possible to the objectives. Much to my disappointment, the developers stuck to reality here and decided that letting a pregnant woman sprint was a bad idea. What I don’t quite understand is why the option is only permitted here and there throughout the rest of the journey, which can be a bit of a slog.
Through the bulk of the game, you’ll be walking as if you’re a geriatric snail, making what would be a quick jog down a hall into an unbearable slow mess. The remaining controls are even more atrocious, with many of the buttons being unresponsive and the look controls being stiff or lacking precision, making interacting with the world a chore. You will have to regularly interact with control panels or door controls, all of which require you to hit the overly small sweet spot to get the icon to pop, letting you know you can interact with it. Most of these actually require you to remain still and stare at the button while a small circle rotates, almost as if the door has to load. Since this is a walking sim with little gameplay, this is a problem.
While Elea looks simply amazing and offers a thought provoking story, the overall experience feels a bit lacking and needs some additional polish before the additional chapters are released. I really wanted to like this game, but by the end of the chapter the feeling was more forced than anything I’ve experienced in recent memory. If you’re into some of the weirder walking sims, such as North or Asemblance, this might be up your alley. I for one hope the next chapter resolves some of the lingering issues so we can see out Elea’s journey to its climax.… Expand
Average User Score: tbdSep 7, 2018The story follows our hero Sigi, the love child of Ghost n’ Goblins’ Arthur and everyone’s favorite Italian plumber Mario, on his quest toThe story follows our hero Sigi, the love child of Ghost n’ Goblins’ Arthur and everyone’s favorite Italian plumber Mario, on his quest to save his beloved from the clutches of evil. While the story is not overly original, the writing contains enough fart jokes to keep even the most stoic of gamers laughing. If you were going into this expecting Shakespeare, I hate to burst your bubble, but the name should’ve given that away. On the opposite end of that gastric system, I didn’t hear any of the raunchy sound effects I was hoping for, which will likely be just as much of a disappointment to those looking for a gross Boogerman successor.
The game comes across more as a remaster of Ghost n’ Goblins than an original IP. With little introduction, you’ll pick up on the basic (yet responsive) controls, having our hero throwing spears or other upgraded weapons at the undead, all while collecting coins and letters strewn across the game’s 24 levels. The biggest change is that it’s extremely accessible; GnG is one of the most difficult NES era games I’ve ever played (I’ve never beaten the first level). Sure, the difficulty increases as you progress, but even the last level of the game compares in no way to the first encounter in GnG. If you happen to meet death mid mission (likely due to a failed jump, as the enemies pose little to no threat), there are plenty of checkpoints in place, not to mention a crazy amount of extra lives you can acquire. Per the standard set by Super Mario Bros., you’ll earn an extra life every 100 coins you collect and as a bonus, by finding all of the letters making up SIGI in each of the levels. By the time I reached the fifth level, which contains the first boss encounter, I had over ten additional lives stored up.
What the game doesn’t tell you is that the standard levels are so easy to allow you to save up lives for the often challenging boss battles. Each of these are varied and offer up unique enemies to battle, with standard patterns that can easily be overcome once you hit your stride, even though you’ll likely progress into the next arena with only a handful of lives. This makes the game much less frustrating to play than its NES inspiration, although the grind associated with going back to earlier levels and earning more lives in preparation for the next boss battle is a bit of a pain due to how basic the levels are in terms of difficulty.
The game provides some replayability, tasking the player with achieving 100% completion by locating the complete name on each level. Outside of this and trying to speed run the game, you’ll likely see the end credits in just over an hour (depending on how often you need to go back to earlier areas to grind out lives), and then end up leaving this like a fart in the wind. Sure, most of these old school styled games are meant to be replayed time and time again to make up for the length, but in this case, the visuals left me less than eager to jump back in once I completed the game.
The individual levels you play are varied in terms of the platforming sections and enemies you face, but all of the backdrops are repeated much too often, leaving you in what feels like a perpetual first level throughout the game (with a few of the boss encounters being the only exception). I found the art style to be pleasant to look at and not overly distracting from the gameplay, but the repeated backdrops come across as lazy and ruin what would otherwise be a great experience, even if you run through it a single time. Should you take into account the lack of proper gassy sound effects, the presentation is a bit dull, especially when taking into account all of the missed opportunities had they taken the time to run with the material. Why doesn’t Sigi fart when he jumps? Why is there not a gas based NPC? Maybe an AoE attack where he rips one after eating one of the many fatty foods? Maybe I am a bit obsessed with farts, but all of these were expectations the title put forth but never delivered upon.
At the end of the day Sigi – A Fart for Melusina is a fun little platformer, even if it does not meet all your gross expectations. If you found Ghosts n’ Goblins to be too difficult for you, this is a great alternative that provides a similar experience without the frustrating difficulty.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Sep 7, 2018The game offers a story mode that follows any two of the game’s fighters as they’ve been taken captive by a mysterious villain (who looksThe game offers a story mode that follows any two of the game’s fighters as they’ve been taken captive by a mysterious villain (who looks eerily similar to Destiny‘s Xur on a night on the town), and in Terry Bogard’s case, turned into a woman. Even though this mode is only six fights per team, it’s mostly forgettable, but always strange and hilarious. Between fights you’ll find short, poorly animated (we’ll come back to this) cut scenes that consist of your chosen fighters trading some of the worst banter I’ve ever seen, with trendy words such as “bae” (I feel dirty just quoting that) being the norm. In many cases, the secondary character’s reply might as well have been “I like goldfish,” because the conversations just don’t add up. With the exception of the scenes at the midpoint and end of the mode, which are the same regardless of the character, all of these scenes play out in a voyeuristic manner, appearing to be filmed via a CCTV with the operator fixated on the all-female cast’s naughty bits. In addition to the story mode, the token survival, versus, and practice modes are in place for offline play, and a few online options.
The game changes up the tried and true tag team fighting mechanics with a few variations, but whether they work for you will depend on the player. The biggest thing that stood out to me is almost every move in any of the character’s move list can be pulled off by simply pressing one button and a directional button for variations, making this the perfect fighter for the participation trophy generation of today. Want to tag out? Yup, just one button (I’ll let this one slide, since tagging is often a chore in other fighters). Oh, you want to do the crazy, super ultra-move? You got it, just hit R2. Even the standard special moves that used to require quarter circle motions in past entries are dumbed down to simply pressing the O button on the PS4. Call me crazy, but I feel like fighting games should present more of a challenge, be it in the actual combat or mastering specific characters. This could be attributed to me making the quarter circle motion in the womb, but who knows.
The one button method makes the next change a bit more manageable, as instead of simply reducing the opponent’s life bar, causing the round/match to be over with everyone going on about their day; you have to complete the super move as the final attack to end the match. Failing to land this attack will require you to either tag out or wait it out until your character has enough stamina to bust out the move again. Initially, I took this as a cheap way to make their fighter more accessible, which is still kind of is, but the mechanic works to give the lesser skilled players a chance, when other games would simply see them hit the pavement over and over again.
The last “new” mechanic is less drastic, as you’ll find small yellow bubbles pop into the play field regularly, akin to the Infinity Stones used by Capcom in their Marvel Comics based fighters from the past. Hitting one of these will allow you to use one of many items, which are mostly throwaways that often inflict damage on those who activate them. I found myself simply using most of the ones that did not provide a health bump immediately, just to get rid of them hoping for something substantial to come along.
The roster of 14 characters are mainly busty (to the point that they all would probably suffer from more back problems due to their chest than the actual combat) women from past SNK games, giving the DOA girls a run for their money in terms of their bouncing “physics.” Of the 14 characters, there are only a few that really stand out as memorable combatants, and even less that feel much “different” in terms of playstyle. When so many other fighters on the market offer twice, if not more fighters out of the box, the roster a bit disappointing to say the least, especially when SNK has a huge roster of characters. Each of the fighters can be outfitted with accessories or costumes (*gasp* not requiring DLC?!?!?! I’m sure there will be plenty), essentially allowing players to play dress up using items they’ve unlocked by using the gold earned across any game mode. The level options don’t fare much better in terms of options, with only seven choices available, all of which are from the same mansion that remind me of an anime inspired version of the Spencer Mansion from Resident Evil.
SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy looks dated and has some wonky, poorly implemented mechanics, but at its heart is a solid fighter that has a nice middle ground allowing casuals and masters to compete. I highly doubt we’ll see this game on the next EVO lineup, but it’s a fighter that offers some fun, even if it’s from laughing at its many shortcomings.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.0Sep 4, 2018You’ll begin your journey as an unnamed spaceman that I will refer to as Jim, who early into the game is set loose to explore a strange world.You’ll begin your journey as an unnamed spaceman that I will refer to as Jim, who early into the game is set loose to explore a strange world. How did he get here? What/Where is here? Did he leave the coffee pot on? Most of these are questions that, to be quite honest, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions for. The game does not hold your hand, mechanically or in reference to the narrative, requiring you to fill in the blanks. A brief tutorial will give you some minor hints as to the fact that Jim can control time – not in the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time kind of way, but more like just changing the time from day to night and vice versa. I know, this sounds like a lame power, right? Well, Jim uses this ability to essentially control or manipulate the otherworldly flora and fauna to his advantage. Can’t find a way forward? You’ll probably need to change the time of day, forcing freakishly large mushrooms to form a pathway, or psychedelic flowers to bloom giving Jim super speed for a short period of time, allowing him to gain momentum for a long jump. This ability is really easy to use and is explained quite early into the game, but is used so infrequently during the first half of the game that I actually forgot it was even a thing and that it was limited to pressure pads.
The first half of the game is primarily focused on stealth and platforming with some light puzzle solving, while the second half makes use of the time alteration. You’ll spend the early hours evading robots that are also visiting the planet, but seem to be dead set on destroying each and every last living creature. There are also plenty of animals and in some cases plants that think Jim looks like a tasty snack, so be weary of those as well. The enemy forces are quite varied, requiring you to often think outside of the box to either evade, distract, or destroy the well-designed bad guys who come equipped with a better than most AI presence. There is a single weak link in this area, and that is the gigantic hornet who looks like he ate the meth, meth lab, cook, and RV in one swoop. While meth-hornet normally sleeps all day, as meth addicts tend to do, they will often ignore their own instincts (or game mechanics), requiring you to either run head first into death just to respawn, or sit there patiently changing the time from day to night, hoping they break free of whatever trance they are in. In addition to this, their sting can’t seem to decide if it wants to be lethal or not, often allowing you to be stung three or more times and still make a clean getaway, whereas others a single prick is the end. I know, I know, “the suspension of disbelief” and “it’s just a game;” I am all for imagination time, but if you’re going to make the game’s rules, I need you to stick by them.
The sneaking and platforming mechanics work extremely well, with the jumps often feeling overly forgiving when compared to similar games. The controls are precise yet accessible and the puzzles are intuitive, using simple common sense or physics in most cases, with the only point of frustration stemming from a few segments later into the game that require you to use momentum to make some extremely long jumps, requiring extremely careful planning before you can even see them coming. I found myself dying repeatedly in these areas, requiring me to take notes or even memorize the pattern to progress. Death is merely an afterthought in the world of Planet Alpha, with frequent checkpoints being the norm. The checkpoints come so often (it feels like you receive one every time your feet hit the ground) I found myself jumping off into the nothingness below in an effort to find secrets tucked away within the beautiful levels.
The stealth gameplay functions beautifully, with most of the enemies providing visual or audible tells that they are searching for you, patrolling the grounds as a normal guard would. High grass is plentiful, allowing Jim regular points to hide in. Functionally, sneaking is well executed, but a nagging glitch I encountered saw this tall grass randomly jerking and twisting about as I moved between cover, not flowing as it normally would (or does during most of the game) and breaking what would otherwise be a very immersive experience.
Planet Alpha, Team17’s 100th release since inception, is an amazing visual treat, offering outstanding gameplay that is just shy of perfection due to its underwhelming conclusion. When I started playing the game, my initial thoughts were that this is just a prettier version of Limbo. After taking in the entire picture, this is the game that Playdead should be taking note of when making their next release. Meanwhile, I will sit back in anticipation for what Planet Alpha ApS brings us next.… Expand
Average User Score: tbdSep 2, 2018This opens with a few old school styled cut scenes that are my biggest, yet insignificant complaint. The text is downright ugly; I’m not sureThis opens with a few old school styled cut scenes that are my biggest, yet insignificant complaint. The text is downright ugly; I’m not sure if it’s just too big for the area they allotted for it or merely a poor font choice, but I found it hard to read and simply quit trying to after just a few frames. Additionally, when starting a new game you’ll sit through this each and every time, and much like the impatient me at seven years old, I sat there mashing the button trying to jump into the game as quickly as possible.
Our young heroes have a rather deep toy box when it comes to their movesets, more so than any other NES game that I can recall. There’s the standard attack, a number of specials, rolls, and jump attacks, among others (with each hero having their own specific moves, which feel the same yet are different enough to add some variety) that can be used to deal with the undead menace plaguing the town. These attacks are pulled off with relative ease and most offer up satisfying results, with the specials only requiring a short series of directional moves prior to the attack button. The weakest link is the standard attack, which lacks any real umpf in the power department. My initial playthroughs had me crouching just out of reach and punching the zombies in their decrepit junk, which is a tactic that takes forever. Much like any zombie game in the history of zombie games, you’ll want to aim for the head for success. Over time you’ll quickly learn which attack works best against which type of enemy, as some are completely immune to specific attacks.
The amount of options available to you early into the game will be decided by the difficulty you choose, with easy, normal, and hard being the options available to you off the rip; the easy setting is the same as normal except that it offers all of the moves from the get go. Having sampled each of the settings, this appears to be the primary difference outside of the number of enemies thrown at you at any given time.
Remember that handy HUD option that 99% of games offer as a tool to let the player know where they land with their current health, score, and lives? This game replaces this completely with the character’s skin tone reflecting their current health, with a few shades of green in place prior to death. Each character has their own respective health, which is retained between levels. To add longevity to each of your limited lives, you can swap between characters on the fly. While I found the mechanic useful, once you learn to make the most of it, death becomes a bit of a joke, taking at least seven enemy attacks to kill your duo. Once you get your bearings straight, most of the standard enemies will be nothing but mild distractions, most of which are easily evaded if combat isn’t your thing. The exception is the boss encounters, which are varied and task the player with breaking down their patterns and determining which attack(s) will work prior to dying.
Death is fairly forgiving in this title, with a higher than average life count given on each run and checkpoints being activated upon each level transition. I was a bit disappointed there are no continues, leaving the password option as your only method available to skip past the opening chapters. Sadly, the game fails to provide any of these passwords during normal gameplay, so I am unsure how they are unlocked/earned. Since we are talking about a game that can be played on the original system, I am not scoring off for this, but feel like a save feature would have been a nice touch.
The overall presentation is amazing when comparing the game to similar offerings from the NES era, even going as far to include one of the solid blue screens that would often be the first thing you’d see when loading a dusty cartridge into the old school system. The same love and care was clearly used on the remainder of the package, with each and every tiny detail working in tandem to deliver an experience that is both familiar and new. Sure, you’ve worked your way left to right using mild platforming mechanics time and time again, but the shot of adrenaline you get when you make a flawless run through a never ending stream of zombies, all while uppercutting each of their heads off without missing a beat was often missing from most NES games. The music, while forgettable, does help paint a stunning picture fueled by nostalgia that truly made me forget on multiple occasions that I was playing a new release, opposed to something from my childhood.
HAUNTED: Halloween ’86: (The Curse of Possum Hollow) succeeds at not just being an amazing example of how a throwback game should be made, but works on all fronts to deliver a strange feeling of nostalgia while being brand new, redefining what a retro title should be. Don’t let the primitive visuals fool you, this is a game that isn’t to be missed, whether you’re a retro fan or otherwise.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.1Aug 28, 2018The story follows an alternate version of Europe where America did not intervene during the Second World War and much of the country is inThe story follows an alternate version of Europe where America did not intervene during the Second World War and much of the country is in shambles. To combat depression, the powers that be fed the masses a drug called Joy. Joy makes you happy whether you are or not, and in a unique way, changes how you view the game world and takes away any negative thoughts that plague you, essentially erasing them from your memory. If you decide to take the drug at some point, the world will appear clean and orderly. Off of the drug, you see the truth - everything is in disarray and the population has completely lost their minds and treats others that they discover not on the drug as criminals, calling them "downers." If you're discovered as one of the dreaded unhappy people, you'll be bludgeoned into submission and left to die. The story follows three protagonists in an intertwined tale of loss and how each of the characters is trying to piece together their own mysteries. The story is well crafted and drives the player to want to explore the world, but sadly, everything else sucks the joy out of the experience.
The game blends scripted events with randomized sandbox/survival mechanics. The scripted areas, such as the opening that was included in the original demo, are great; it's everything in between that is awful. The majority of the open world gameplay will involve trying to locate specific items within a randomized game world, which wouldn't be that bad if the world didn't have a habit of changing mid game, also resulting in one of the longest loading screens I've ever encountered. On more than one occasion, I thought the game locked up during this only to have a sliver of the bar fill up a second before rebooting the software. This will occasionally work in your favor, moving one of the items closer to your current position, but often results in meandering around one of the most frustrating open worlds in recent history.
On top of the survival mechanics, you'll have to manage your inventory in a careful manner, as crafting is a huge part of the game and many districts within will attack you simply for wearing the wrong clothes. In other situations they'll attack you because, well... I honestly have no idea, but when they do, the enemies come in huge swarms and are relentless in their pursuit. Sure, you can fight back (good luck if you're dealing with more than a couple of them) or hide in various containers, but all of the dastardly Joy users seem to have acquired X-ray vision as a side effect of the drug. You can try to sneak around the enemies, but the randomized areas make trying to experiment or find alternate paths fruitless, as failure results in a new area being loaded. Once frustration set in, I simply found myself running from point A to point B, hoping for the best with a trail of enemies following me.
If you've played the demo or Early access version, very little has changed in terms of presentation. The abstract character and level design works well and succeeds at making We Happy Few feel like a spiritual successor to Bioshock or Dishonore;, however, the comparisons end there, with the game feeling like an utter failure on every other front. The fetch quests are boring, the crafting is never-ending, and the overall mechanics fail to impress, with combat being the weakest link. As I mentioned previously, our protagonists are barely able to defend themselves against the hordes of enemies, even when armed and going up against enemies who are using their bare fists - this is due to your attacks feeling as if they lack any power and are often heavily delayed. With this being said, the game would've been better off taking the route Outlast and countless other titles have done, which is simply removing combat entirely and requiring you to hide.
While the scripted elements and story are worth taking note of, We Happy Few is anything but a joyous romp through an alternate reality that could have rivaled the games it clearly drew inspirations from. The game still feels unfinished, despite the Early Access phase having ended, leaving an empty, joyless shell in the place of a title that many, including myself, were looking forward to as "the next Bioshock." Even at a deep discount, I would strongly recommend leaving this game in the gutter with all of the other downers on the market.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.9Aug 28, 2018Upon booting up the game you’ll have to provide your email address, which is cool, whatever; send me emails that’ll likely sit in my spamUpon booting up the game you’ll have to provide your email address, which is cool, whatever; send me emails that’ll likely sit in my spam folder to die until I change providers every so many years. This requires you to activate your account, and failing to do so will prevent you from logging back into the game. I actually tried to do this, even having the email sent additional times and clicking the link, getting a message that I was good to go, and then yet again, receiving the same error message upon logging in. Having the email resent gives me another error that I have already registered the account. This is the loop I have been stuck in and have honestly spent almost as much time trying to get into the game as I did playing it.
If the title didn’t give it away, this is based upon the popular table top board game Warhammer 40,000, which I honestly have very little experience with outside of a few past games from the franchise. If you’re like me, this probably isn’t the best jumping off point into the world story-wise, as I was lost before the initial cut scene was completed and the mid mission information provided only made things worse, as it is presented in an awkward manner. You’ll receive updates regularly from commanding officers, who apparently are only able to send emails, since there was no voice over present (I’m unsure if this was a glitch or how the game was intended, but it was uniform throughout the missions I was able to complete), yet they can hear your character’s verbal responses. Don’t get me wrong, I am not affected by adult illiteracy, I simply came here to kick butt and take names, not read long winded love letters.
The game is akin to a Diablo clone more than a twin stick shooter, but includes the option of taking cover at any time within the game world. This was a strange combination of past games in the franchise. I struggled to wrap my brain around this having played Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, which was a legit Gears of War clone, as well as Kill Team, which was a twin stick shooter that I simply loved during the days of the Xbox 360. The cover mechanic works as it should, but is unnecessary as I would’ve preferred the freedom to use the second stick to free aim as I mowed through enemy waves. The developers seemed to think that walking head first into the direction you wish to shoot was a better use of resources, but I found this change to be extremely hard to adapt to. On the plus side, the characters are fairly bullet spongey and have decent auto aim abilities, making the cover mechanic almost pointless. Even during more challenging encounters such as boss battles, I rarely found myself in danger of dying on the standard difficulty, even when ignoring the mechanic altogether. The missions themselves are fairly short, each running between five and fifteen minutes, and require somewhat lengthy load screens from the main menu, as the title skipped the open world train. These missions are uninspired but passable, featuring the standard tropes for the genre, such as killing X number of enemies, protecting specific NPCs, flipping a switch, or destroying something.
Much like any Diablo inspired game, there are a few different classes to choose from when selecting a character, but outside of the class and sub class, the customization options are limited to renaming the character. Regardless of the sub class you pick, you can interchange items seemingly without issues having selected a shotgun/sniper rifle proficient class from the get go. While I stuck with the vanilla build for a few levels, I quickly found that the automatic and laser rifles were more my speed. Following the typical formula of dungeon crawling games, you will also have a skill tree to throw your earned XP towards, unlocking class specific abilities. While there are plenty of options to be found, none of the ones I acquired felt overly original.
The visual presentation is a mixed bag, with highly detailed environments ripe for exploration and mediocre character models, so much so that I often felt they were ripped from a PS3 era game (at best) and incorporated into the much prettier backdrops. This doesn’t stand out much during actual gameplay due to the panned out view that makes the lack of detail the character models offer to be slightly less ugly, but the game looks atrocious in any of the cut scenes rendered using in game assets. While the actual models are passable, when compared to the small details that other games get right, this fails miserably. The biggest callout was my character’s ponytail (again, I didn’t pick the look, just the abilities). It looked like a broken compass pointing any which way it wanted opposed to locks of flowing hair, rivaling the hair physics from the original Tomb Raider.
If you want to take the plunge, I say you should wait for a sale and be sure you resolve the email registration issue early on to avoid losing progress.… Expand