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Wednesday
Jul102019

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review

After having such an amazing experience with SteamWorld Dig 2 I made the decision to see what else the SteamWorld game catalog had to offer, and so I took on SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, an RPG with the art style of other SteamWorld games. As you might have guessed with the word 'Quest' in the title this is of course an RPG. Actually let's take it a step further, this is a turn-based RPG with action mechanics utilized through the use of cards.

So let's give you a little bit of background, in this game you're going to be playing, the vast majority of the game, with a party of three characters. Each character has a unique set of cards that you can unlock as you go through the game. The cards fall into three different categories: Base Attack, Support, and Steam Pressured. I think the first two are pretty self-explanatory, so let's just talk about this strange "Steam Pressured" category, think of Steam Pressure as what most games would call Mana. All non-"Steam Pressured" actions will increase the pressure, which of course will in turn allow the player to unleash more devastating attacks. There is one thing that could make for an even more devastating attack and that is if you string three of the same character's cards in a single turn. Doing so will really cause a good bit of havoc on the battlefield. The story is broken into areas and chapters. The areas, after you complete them the first time, will give you a percentage of treasures found (so if you are looking for that 100% completion rate...).

There are five player characters that you will have at your disposal, and as much as I would love to tell you all about every single one of them, I'm going to be totally honest with you, as is mostly the case, with me, I stick with the party I'm given off the bat. That of course means I'm not sure if there would be any advantages to the last two characters, however the first three filled my needs. The first three fall into the following categories: Warrior, Magic User, and Tank. In my opinion that's a winning combination, so I wasn't going to mess with success. I did complete the entire game with them, so there's that.

The thing is that I really enjoyed this game from start to finish. It is the story of a wannabe adventurer (and friends) trying to prove to the world that they are actually legitimate adventurers. There's humor and stereotypes scattered through the game, and the story flows. I would recommend that you do replay some of the areas, even if you have the 100% completion for the area, it's always good to have a little extra coin on you to pay for upgrades for your characters. When the story came to a close I felt closure, enjoyment, and triumph (basically all the feelings you want at the end of the game). If you're looking for a solid RPG, this is definitely one you have to add to your playlist.

Monday
Jun032019

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

Get back to digging in the sequel Steamworld Dig 2. The story continues from the first however the main character has mysteriously vanished and it is up to the robot, Dotty (also known as Dorothy), to get to the bottom of what actually happened to Rusty (the hero from the first). You will find your way to El Machino, a city that is suffering greatly from seismic activity deep underground. You will have to dig your way down, literally, to try to get to the bottom of these mysteries (what happened to Rusty, and what is causing all these earthquakes). To do that you'll have to collect resources that you can turn around and sell back in town. Now you might be asking yourself, you speak of these resources, and you're going to be selling them, but what can you get for your hard earned money. Well it's all about upgrades. There are several different components that you're going to want to keep in mind, health, water, fire, resource pack size, abilities, and weapons.

Health, of course, is the easiest to explain, if you have health you're alive, if you don't well you die, but I will point out that death doesn't really mean END GAME, it just means that you drop most of what you have collected on your latest run down into the mines/ground/other things ( ;) ). Water at first glance probably sounds odd, however this is what is going to be powering MANY of your abilities such as your pneumatic arm, bombs, etc. Fire is basically your light during your adventures down, once the light gets too low its very hard to see and the need to return to town becomes more pressing. Resource pack size, I think that's probably self-explanatory, the bigger the pack the more resources you can gather and bring back up with you. Abilities are something that you're going to unlock as the game goes on and there are definitely enhancements that will better those abilities. The weapons part is really just powering up your pickaxe. It is the main item that you'll be using throughout the game, and of course the stronger it is the more damage you can do to enemies and tough spots in the game. There's also TONS of hidden places in the game that will give you COGS, these lovely items allow for further enhancement of your abilities/items.

The one thing that one has to look at when reviewing a sequel is simply does this game match or hopefully succeed the first, and to be honest I feel like this one was much more streamlined and I didn't feel the level or pain of grind that had to be done in the first one. I also felt like there was faster progression through the actual game (ie. the story). You're definitely going to meet some crazy characters, some a bit more than others, but I definitely felt like this game was a rather large improvement. I somehow ended up playing through this game in a single sitting (about 8ish hours), and I don't regret a single moment spent on it. If you have the chance I HIGHLY recommend picking up this game.

Wednesday
May222019

Big Name Gamer/Streamer Suing eSports Team

I will fully admit I have no real legal background, and so I'm not versed in contractual law, but this story is definitely something that has caught everyone's attention. Apparently the gamer known as Tfue, one of the biggest streamers out there, has decided to sue FaZe Clan, the team that he has been a part of, due to an apparent California law that states:

The state law requires that any person or company "who engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements for an artist" must be licensed by the labor commissioner and conform to professional regulations. By definition, "artist" includes "persons rendering professional services in motion picture, theatrical, radio, television and other entertainment enterprises."

From my understanding this revolves around the fact that Tfue can't accept solo sponsorships (those just for him and not for his team). The big on being an apparent deal with HyperX, a direct competitor of FaZe Clan's sponsor SteelSeries. One of the issues, I believe that is being seen, is that he would be able to take All the earnings for that HyperX sponsorship, whereas he would only be able to take some sort of prearranged percentage of any money made by the team.

So there's a couple of things that stand out to me, for this issue, remember I don't have a law degree, but you have a team/group of gamers that train together, play together, and of course compete together. That team has sponsorships, tournament winnings, and whatnot. Just like ANY professional team the bigger names get a bigger cut of the pie, but never the whole thing. There will of course be a certain amount that will be retained by the owners of the team, basically to keep the lights on, and then the rest will go to the other players. There is also certain teams that have exclusive contracts with a specific manufacturer of a certain type of goods. Those contracts make it so that as part of that SPECIFIC team no one can take a contract/sponsorship with a competitor (ie. Nike, Gatorade, and others).

For your "traditional sports" this approach works out rather well, especially since the money being made by the players is already a good chunk of changes, as well as the sponsorships that they are able to be a part of. The thing that makes Tfue's situation different, and makes almost all only "influencers" different is the fact that the money for being part of a time can, at times, pale in comparison with a solo sponsorship contract. There is a catch, though, at this current moment in time. Not many, if any, eSports teams can allow for single players to take on solo sponsorships. There is too much chance for conflict of interest as well as there is the potential for rigging events. I know that no one things that gamers would intentionally tank, but let's be honest, if they can make a boatload more from that "single match slip", most will do it. The best example will always be the gamer "Life" and his permanent ban from Professional Starcraft II tournaments.

How will this affect eSports pro teams in the future? What will be the outcome of this lawsuit? Who knows, but for now it appears that there is quite the pissing match between those for Tfue and those who stand with FaZe Clan.

Monday
May202019

Mount Frosty Review

Take to the slopes in Melt Games' game Mount Frosty (available now on iOS and Android). You will take control of a slightly out of control skier as you try to ski down the slopes. You will have to dodge not only trees, houses, and other obstacles, but you'll have to keep an eye out for other skiers. You will take on, currently, three different levels all with their own look and feel. Speaking of look and feel you'll also get to unlock different character skins through playing and collecting coins in the game.

It's been a while since I took on a skiing game, and to be honest I wasn't quite sure how I was going to feel about playing one on a mobile device. Now, that being said once the game started it was obvious that this was built for mobile devices and the control(s) were based around single taps on the screen to cause your character to turn one way or another. Personally I played with two fingers, one on each side of the screen as it felt more comfortable to me. This method didn't always work as tapping twice on the right side of the screen might not have the desired effect that I was looking for, but this method did help me more than hurt me. There are definitely going to be times where you're going to have to be lightning quick so that you can dodge the obstacles that are in your path, but the game is pretty responsive to those quick taps.

As stated above there are currently three levels to play around with, the first is your typical snowy area filled with trees, houses, mailboxes, other skiers and more. The second is sort of a cotton candy skin on top of the first with a couple of small changes to separate the two. The third level is the beach level, a level that has sand castles, umbrellas, palm trees, and more. All of these levels have a different soundtrack playing in the background, and to be honest it sounded like the first was actually thought out and the other two were hurriedly made because of the need for something different than the first.

So there is something about this game that truly bothers me, and after discussing this with many of my gaming friends we have reached the same conclusion. Although this game is all about trying to dodge obstacles as you ski down the mountain/hill, the way the game presents itself it always appears as if you're actually skiing up hill, or maybe gravity works differently. It just feels odd. The other thing that is mind-boggling is that each of the different character skins that you'll get to use you only get to see from the back while you play. When you couple the two together, an uphill skiing seen from the back game, instead of a downhill skiing while seeing all the characteristics of your chose character game, one really just has to scratch their head.

There's also the point/distance milestones that the players try to achieve to get stars ( a total of three) to show their dominance in the level. The thing is that after obtaining the first star, which opens up the next level (until of course you're skiing on level), there's no real reward for the player. Now having talked about the stars lets take it a step further, you have to reach a certain distance in each level to obtain said stars, but the amount (the distance) that one has to travel just feels SUPER arbitrary.

There's also the coin collecting as you go through each round. You're going to need to collect 100 coins to get to spin the prize wheel that is prominently displayed on the intro screen. In my experience collecting 100 coins is one hell of a feat, I'm lucky to have collected 3 or 4 coins per run. There is of course bonus gifts that you get after a certain amount of time, and it will give you a couple more coins, but still you're going to see that wheel and not have any interaction with it for most of your playing time.

Here's the thing, I can definitely see the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this game, but I also see that the potential of this game has not been met. This is a free-to-play game, and if you get the hang of the game, it can be fun, but for me it just seems like there's just a little too much backwards about this game, both literally and figuratively, for me to keep coming back to it.

Tuesday
Mar262019

Dead Cells Review

 

Dead Cells is one of those games that I heard whispers of great things, but I was too locked in to the games that I was currently playing to give it much thought. Then out of the blue comes this article that speaks of the ability to choose what type of food your character can eat in game. I know that this sounds quite odd, and it is, but this was truly the reason why I ended up having to check out this game. It was for the simple reason of wanting to see if these different food options (Carnivore, Vegetarian, Monster, Fruitarian, Castlevaniesque, and Baguette) actually existed. I'm happy to report that the game does sport this option, and in all honestly does it well.

So let’s get into the actual gameplay and leave the food options. This is going to play like your standard Metroidvania styled game. You're going to be thrown into randomized dungeons and will have to navigate your way through them to get through the game. There are quite a few wrinkles thrown in to make the experience different than most. For starters you're going to always be moving forward through the game. What I mean by this is that you're not going to backtrack through levels you have already completed. You're also going to find out that there's not just one path to take through the game. In most levels you will find that there are two exits that will take you to two different locations. It is from my experience that one is going to definitely be the more challenging of the two, but I leave it up to the gamer to draw your conclusions.

As the levels are random in their creation so is the selection of weapons/traps/shields that you will encounter. I haven't had a run, thus far, where every piece of equipment has been the same. Each piece of equipment has some affinity to a specific character attribute (Brutality, Tactics, and Survival), in order to truly take advantage of a piece of equipment you're going to want to have a high level in the stat it is utilizing. This of course brings into focus a very advantageous strategy which is don't try to level up all your stats evenly, you're going to want to focus on one (maybe 2) so that you can make yourself extremely lethal.

One of the biggest components and probably one of the reasons people are willing to come back again and again for potential deadly punishment is that you're going to be collecting souls during levels, as well as blueprints. Once you complete a level you go into this sort of in-between stage that allows you to spend souls on unlocking items, abilities (some of them affecting what you have when you start the game, and others affecting you through your playthrough). Now here's the thing, if you die before you get to one of these in-between locations, you're going to lose all the souls you have collected, so be careful.

There are extra layers of complexity that are added as time goes on and that gives you, the player, to immerse yourself all that much more. I'm not going to say that this is a game that you're going to play EVERY DAY or perhaps a game that you're going to be dying to play, especially after you've had your ass handed to you, but if you do play that addition run, or perhaps just start the game, you're going to find a rhythm and you'll quickly find yourself going again and again. That attribute of the game is the reason why people HAVE to take it, at least, for a spin. This is something that is solid, well made, keeps you on your toes, will punish you for being sloppy, but at the same time reward you for your success.