Tuesday
Jul082014

Transistor Review

Transistor is the next game from the creators of Bastion, SuperGaint Games. In this game you are going to play the role of Red, the next big singing act in this messed up world, who somehow lost her voice. The man would protects you steps in front of a sword, transistor, just before it plunges into you. His consciousness transfers into the blade, and that is where the story begins. You of course are set on a crash course with a group of individuals who decided to attack you and also try to take over the city, but something has gone wrong. People are disappearing, and the city seems to be falling apart. You might be the only one who can figure out what is going on.

The art style was amazing. The use of color, or absence in some scenes drew me in, and it was very difficult to stop playing this game as soon as I started. You are going to see a lot of city-scape, as you try to get through this city. You are going to find yourself being attacked by quite a handful of enemies, and they all have their different attacks. Speaking of attacks I really did enjoy the way that combat worked in this game. You were put into kind of a stop time mode where you could plan out your attacks, and it was very clear, artistically, how everything was going to go down. The most amazing thing I found about the art was that it had the same rich colors and atmosphere as Bastion, but was futuristic and basically in the opposite direction of Bastion, and yet it looked like the only way I could possibly ever want to play this game.

Now comes the part of SuperGiant Games that by itself is enough to by their games, and that is the music. I don't know how they do it, but they have now knocked it out of the park two straight times. The really awesome thing, for me personally, is that I got the soundtrack with the game during a sale, and I have not been disappointed. Now I will say this, there is one thing a bit weak in this game and that is the voice of your "protector" he was a bit whiny and a little over the top, but if that's the only issue in the game, that's pretty damn good.

The controls in the game are pretty straight forward. You are going to be using either WASD or the left click of the mouse to move. You will use Spacebar when your meter fills up to go into a time stop plan mode. In this mode you are going to use the right mouse button to perform the attacks, and 1-4 to select which attack to perform.

As stated before you are going to be playing the part of Red, a rising star in this city, but something changes, something that a group of people take it upon themselves to try to fix, or perfect. They try to control something that should never be controlled. Now of course you can imagine what happens, things get out of control and the world changes, and since you have what that group needs, the transistor (or as I like to call it, sword), you are going to be hunted down. Now at the same time you are probably going to be doing some hunting of your own. As you progress through the game you are going to find more options to add to your selections. You will have the ability to open up extra slots for options, and you can also use all the options you pick up for different things. If you want to know the story of each character who has been reduced to an option what you will have to do is add it as the main option, an assisting option, or a passive option. You are also going to have to keep in mind how much memory each option takes, you only have a limited amount, and even though you might have the perfect idea for a setup, you might not be able to pull it off. Now of course as you level up you can unlock more, so have no fear.

Speaking of leveling up there's also limiters that you can add into your game to increase the difficulty but also reward you with more experience so that you can level up faster. Sometimes its worth it and other times it is not. If you do get over your head you are going to lose an option each time your health reaches zero. Once all options are gone you will have to start over again. So choose wisely.

Alright so I'm just going to be blunt, you are going to want to have both this game and the soundtrack. I loved it from start to finish. Like I said, the male voice in the game isn't the best, but it can easily be forgotten, and you can be lost in the melodies, and action of the game. So if you haven't picked this game up yet, you are going to need to correct that immediately this game gets a 9.7 out of 10.

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Tuesday
Jul012014

Richard and Alice Review

I had the amazing chance to play the game Richard and Alice by Owl Cave. In this game you are going to play the part of two individuals who have been placed in prison for various transgressions in a futuristic world where the snow continues to fall, the world is cold and almost completely dead, there are gangs roaming the lands trying to stay alive, and there are zones where if you are lucky enough, you get protection. Many people might argue over how much of this is a game, but at the very least it is a story that is filled with so many twists and turns that you have to know what is next. Now there are places that you don't get to interact with but that are free of snow but the temperature is so high in the other direction that no one would last a day.

The graphics of this game give those gamers old enough to remember 16 bit some fits of nostalgia. You are not going to be blown away by the way the world looks, but at the same time with all that is going on its not really hard to feel the extra bit of desperation because of the lack of clarity and precision in what you see. You will get to interact in a good amount of snow, a couple of buildings, a frozen lake, and of course the jail/prison that you find yourself in.

The sounds of this game are so minimal it is really only there to be a soft reminder that the wind continues to blow and at some point you can feel the chill that the characters experience. This is a world not filled with laughing children and traffic jams, this is a world where people hide, and many die. There is only silence to navigate through with a hint of a breeze as your song.

The controls are centered around the left and right mouse button. You will use them to select items and to move your character around.

I'm going to be honest with you, this is more of an interactive story than it is a game. There is a lot of dialogue to digest constantly and if you are hoping for anything fast paced, you are not going to enjoy this game. There is a lot of story in this game, and there is not much else. The interactions that you do get to partake in are rather simple and aren't going to surprise you all that much, though there are a couple of extra pieces to the game if you happen to stumble upon them. 

Part of me really enjoyed this game, I loved the story, though I don't know if love is the right word with so much hardship and depression that is poured into this story. Another part of me wish there was a little more to do in the game, I'm not going to lie while reading and having the sweet whispers of the almost white noise in the background I did have several times where I almost nodded off. There were definitely times where I felt that the shortcomings of the characters drove me mad, and I wanted to smack them for it, but that's all in the way that you tell the story, and this team told a good story.

In the end this is something that if you want something different, that has a story that reveals itself over time, and has quite a few twists, you will enjoy this game. If you are looking for something at least half fast paced, this is NOT the game for you. This is truly one of those games that you are going to either REALLY LIKE or REALLY DISLIKE. So in the end I'm going to give this game an 8.9 out of 10.

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Thursday
Jun262014

Shadows on the Vatican: Act I - Greed Review

There is something strange happening within the Catholic church, and it goes all the way up to the Vatican. You will step into the shoes of a man who once was a priest but has since gone his separate way. Now of course many years later a friend who remained in the priesthood has called you in to help him with something that worries him. Once you arrive that is when things start getting out of control. Will you be able to survive the first chapter in this game, what mysteries will you discover?

The graphics of the game were redone as this is the facelift version of the game. I will tell you this, if you keep the game on the low graphical settings it is not pleasant to look at. Then again if you pump the graphics up to maximum it still doesn't look perfect. I'm not looking for photo-realistic, but I felt that even on the top setting this game showed its age. I did like the comic book-ish cutscenes that occurred from time to time, and I kind of wish there was a bit more of them in the game. There's also a small issue with some of the animation. Now as many of you know scripted animations for characters is a fact of life, but there were quite a few of very awkward moments caused by those scripted actions. There is one scene where I'm sterilizing a needle over the stove, and yet I'm actually standing on the other side of the room while I'm doing the action.

So lets move on to the sounds of the game, I have to say that I actually really liked the music and the voice acting. My favorite had to be the elderly woman in the bank that you get to meet. The script and the voice acting made her the most believable character in this game.

The controls are a little bit infuriating. It isn't that anything is complex, its just that you have to make sure that you are constantly clicking with the left and right mouse button. Sometimes you can make actions occur with one, other times you need to try with the other. There's also the fact that there's a chance that a gamer has some intuition on a specific part of the game, but if you try to jump ahead (even if it's accidental) you are going to find that the game will block you and force you to look or interact with something that you are going to need assistance with.

This was an interesting game for me. There were moments where I felt like the game really flowed, there were other times where I felt like there were tons of avoidable obstacles in the game. I know I don't usually do spoilers in my reviews because I don't want to ruin the experience for anyone, but I have to tell you this one thing so that you do not rage out of control. When you are hanging from the scaffolding use the key chain with all the keys that you found. How that actually works, I have no idea, but it is one of the things that sticks out most in my mind, which is not a good thing. At the end of the day I know that this is an episodic series, and I've just gone through the first chapter, but I don't feel like where it ended was where it should have ended. Now of course there could be a completely new twist in the next game and then I could have an AHHA moment, but as it stands I'm not sure that I understand the choice of endings that they did.

So in the end this is definitely a point click adventure game where you're going to be solving some mysteries, combining items, and learning about all that is going on, so if you want to have a corruption in a religious organization game, much like an Angels and Demons (book by Dan Brown), then this is a game you should definitely check out, though I would wait for all the chapters to come out so that you might be able to get the full scope, and perhaps that's what I'm truly missing in this first chapter. So for that I give this game a 6.5 out of 10.

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Sunday
Jun222014

Whispering Willows Review

Some of you might recall that I actually got to sit down with David Logan and interview him about Night Light Interactive and their game Whispering Willows. In this game you are put into the shoes of a young girl who is desperate to find her dad after he disappears. He vanishes after he goes to check on a house that he oversees, a mansion of a prominent family that all met gruesome ends. You will have to solve the mystery of this mansion if you hope to be reunited with your dad, but there's something lurking that might try to not only stop you, but kill you.

Graphically I have to say that this game looked amazing, the level of detail that was put into this game, and the art style seemed to fit the game perfectly. They also were able to make you feel and see that something has corrupted this place. I also have to say that the spirit form in this game looked right out of a top notch comic book. Actually all the art could have come straight out of a comic book. I was also impressed with the use of doors that either brought you into a room in front or behind you. This made the at times very slow pace of the game bearable.

The sounds in the game definitely gave off the vibes of horror game. I do wish that the characters were voiced. I think that would have added a little something extra and pulled the gamer in that much more.

The controls were your standard affair when it came to controller layout.

Alright so lets talk game here, as you might have noticed I already made mention of the slow pace of the game, you are going to be walking the entire time. There is a time for running but it happens in such a small part of the game that you are going to wish you could do that elsewhere. I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story and the puzzles that had to be solved with the assistance of the ghosts that you could interact with when in spirit form. I also appreciated the fact that the puzzle aspect of the game required the spirit form to make things interesting. 

Now the problem with this game comes in the form of if you ever get lost or perhaps missed something big in the game, you are going to wander around, and when you do that you are going to do that in a walking form, so if you ever have a moment of clarity when you remember where you are headed you might find yourself having to do some serious backtracking/walking to get there which can definitely hurt the gaming experience. At the same time, though, if the running mechanism was in the game there's definitely a chance that you are going to miss something, either a spirit you might want to talk to or extreme danger.

One thing that I did appreciate about this game was that there were several layers to it. If you really didn't care about the story, it wasn't going to slap you constantly in the face, you could just look for the keywords in the conversations and then move on. If you were looking for an in-depth experience you could have this as well with the notes and letters lying around the game that gave you more information on the characters and the setting. There's also the middle of the road approach where you can get the story and you don't have to read those extras you find throughout the game.

This game definitely is not for everyone. There's a couple little glitches in the game when it comes to interacting with the actual mansion and triggering the chapter titles even when you are in a different chapter, but overall you're going to find a very solid game. If you are looking for something a little dark with paranormal undertones, you are going to like this game. Now there might be times where you are going to get frustrated with the walking everywhere, but if you stick with it you will find a solid game in the end. So after making it through this entire game I have to say that it deserves an 8.5 out of 10.

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Friday
Jun132014

Among the Sleep Review

In Among the Sleep, by Krillbite Studio, you will take on the role of a 2 year old child who just had his birthday. You are eating cake in the arms of your mom when there is a knock at the door. This is followed by an argument, and then your mom coming back in with a present. You then fast forward to around bedtime/nap time, I'm not really sure which. It is then that the game takes on a nightmarish overlay.

The visual look of this game felt like it fit with the character being a 2 year old. I'm not saying that it was rainbows and puppies, but there were those softer colors, even when everything was dark. The levels of this game were beyond creepy, especially for me because I have an almost 2 year old, so I could see myself in his shoes. There is a slight terror to knowing that something bad could happen right out of the corner of your eye. The levels span from a deserted play ground, a library in a forest, small sections of your house, and more. There are villains that creep around as well. All I have to say is you are going to need to hide from them, or you will suffer a restart of the section you are in. I also really enjoyed the companion, the teddy bear that helped me along. All I had to do was hug it and he would produce a little bit of light that would help me see through the darkness.

The sounds in this game are extremely creepy. Once again it was doubley so because I have a young son, and hearing those noises creep around in a dark area would scare the pants off me at that age. I also think the voice acting in this game was spot on. I could see the roles of the mother and the teddy bear in the voices given.

The controls of the game are your usual configuration with WASD, shift to run, ctrl to crawl or get up, space to climb, and the mouse to control the camera and interact with objects.

Though this game wasn't as long as I would have hoped, it definitely had enough there to keep me on my toes, and hoping that nothing was going to get me around the next corner. There is just something about this game that awakened long gone fears of my childhood, and the fear of what is in the dark. In this respect the developers did a great job. To be honest I can't really think of anything I found clunky or missing from this game. I will tell you this, the twist is a hell of one, and I'm not going to tell you what it is because you need to play this game to find out, but when the game ends everything kind of makes better sense.

There were definitely puzzle aspects to this game, most of the time it was moving objects so that you could get to a different location, but there were a couple of times where the developers threw in a mechanism just for a small section of the game that changed things up a little. A couple examples of this would be throwing objects to knock something off a shelf, or collecting a specific type of object so that you could weigh down the end of something so you could get to the other side. I'm not saying that this was a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a little bit more of these mechanics, to do them once and then seeming to throw them away made me feel like they were afterthoughts in the game creation process.

So lets get down to the part that most of you want to know, and that is should you play this game. The answer is yes, you should play this game, and you should play it in the dark, at night, and pray that no one sneaks up behind you while you are playing. This game gets an 8.9 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Jun112014

A Story About My Uncle Review

A Story About My Uncle was developed by Gone North Games, and puts you in the role of a young boy. Well that's not exactly it, but its something close to that. The story opens up as a father is telling his daughter a bedtime story, a story filled with adventure, and about something that he did when he was young. He has an uncle, a great explorer, who always seemed to find himself in a position of wonder. Now as the story begins you find yourself in a first person view in your uncle's house. This is when the game truly begins as you now step into your younger you shoes, and get to play the adventure story you are telling.

Graphically this game really gave you the feeling of movement. Sadly for me it was mostly falling to my death, but that's alright. So as I was saying, in this game you are going to be traversing your uncle's house and world beyond a portal which will take you through several different environments. To be honest with you, teh environments looked amazing, especially later in the game. The only thing that left me wanting was the character designs. They looked like a last minute push into the game. You have these amazing environments with lighting and contrast, and color, and then when you look at the characters you are interacting with its like something wasn't complete, the look flat, and rough around the edges.

I do have to say that I really did like to voice acting, sure the majority of the characters were talking in strange mumbles, but it made the game feel that much more alive. I also think the narrator, the father's voice caused that warm feeling and show of love as he unfolds the story to his daughter.

The controls in the game are very straight forward, you are going to move, jump, and grapple. There are ways to enhance all of these actions, thanks to the power of your suit that you find before going through the portal, but for the most part you are going to be doing one of those actions.

So you are a young man trying to find his uncle. You are worried because he hasn't sent his usual postcard. You decide to go look for him, and find that there's a suit that fits you like a glove. You then put the suit on, find the workspace that your uncle usually keeps hidden away, and then get thrusted into another world. Ironically this is where your uncle has been jettisoning garbage for a bit. The interesting thing is that the inhabitants of this world are utilizing the trash to create a better world for themselves. There are definite signs that your uncle interacted with these creatures, and it becomes clear that you are going to have to push further into this world if you are going to find him. You will be faced with caverns, darkness, monsters, and more. The majority of the game is spent centered around the grappling mechanic of your suit. You have a finite amount of times to grapple, though later you find that it is possible to recharge mid-grappling session, so that you can actually get through areas.

I have to say that for the most part I really enjoyed this game, though I have to say that by the end of it I was thoroughly done with wanting to grapple. There are just too many times where some of the camera angles that I was getting was giving me a sense of false depth. There were other times where you could see that certain things weren't acting exactly correctly when it came to depth as pieces of a windmill like blade would flip axes. There were definitely some parts to this game that were beyond unforgiving if you deviated from the intended path to get from point A to B, but there were a couple of times where I felt smart having beaten the game at its own game by going a route I'm not sure I was supposed to take. 

If you like a game that centers around a grappling mechanic, that has a bedtime story centered around looking for a lost relative, then this is the game for you. If you find that you get frustrated easily if you accidentally have a tendency to double click, thereby exhausting an extra grappling chance, you might have some choice words, much like I did, for this game at times. At the end of the day, this is by no means a perfect game, but there's something about it that was inviting enough that I wanted to know what really happened to the uncle. So with all its little blemishes, its huge dependency on grappling, its still a game that you might want to check out. I give this game a 7.4 out of 10.

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Thursday
Jun052014

MonoChroma Review

I have to admit, I wasn't exactly sure what I was in for when I first started MonoChroma by Nowhere Studios. The game literally starts immediately and you are thrusted into the role of a young boy wearing a red scarf, and the majority of the world in different shades of whites, blacks, and greys. Now of course there will be some red that will poke out from time to time but the majority of this game will give you the feeling of one of those futuristic and yet old noir feeling movies. You will soon find that your little brother is in this bleak world as well, and you are going to have to protect him if you are both going to survive what is ahead of you.

Graphically I have to admit that I LOVED the look. There's something to be said about not trying to make the game extremely complex. Sure there was always this feeling of depth to the areas that you are moving around, even though you will always be running from left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up, and so on. The subtle use of red throughout the game makes certain things pop. Sure most of the time the reds don't mean anything to the character, but the balance of colors, and the lack of many of the usual colors in the game drew me into the feeling of a shady world filled with unease. A world where not all is what it seemed, and a world that even though there might be pictures of happy people there was something fundamentally wrong going on that was just out of view. Now there are several different areas to this game, and I have to say that all of them make you feel like you are actually progressing through a city. It definitely does not have that rinse a repeat feeling that some games have, where they simply change a couple of assets and try to sell it off as something new and different.

The music in the game was another thing that was was subtle but definitely fit right into the game. It made me think of an old crime story. You know where you have that lonely saxophone in the background, where you know that there's some dame, or person in danger.

The controls took a bit to get used to and was probably one of the weakest parts of the game. The just didn't feel precise enough. There are times where you have to make a jump, grab a ledge, or some other feat just right to continue through the game, and it was just a smidge off, just enough where frustration could creep in, especially if after doing the exact same type of movement in the game, you got different outcomes.

Alright so lets get into the game. The thing that impressed me the most about this game is that they had challenging puzzles throughout the game. There were puzzles where you had to move platforms, you had to clear the way of something, you had to time a swing just perfectly, you had to climb, you had to sneak, you had to push and pull, and more. The thing that makes this game different from a lot of games that love to put obstacles in front of you was that there wasn't this ever growing curve of difficulty. Now I'm not saying that there weren't puzzles that were difficult, but there was something about the way that they laid the puzzles out in the game where I never knew what to expect. To me that is an even better layout. Now I'm faced with maybe underestimating the next obstacle, or maybe I end up over thinking it. There was this hidden balance where no matter the difficulty if you kept an open mind you were going to be able to complete the puzzle/obstacle.

Now I know that I mentioned the not tight enough controls, but there was one other thing that bugged me to death about this game, the load screens. It is beyond odd when you are playing the game and you are advancing through an area and then all of a sudden, BOOM, load screen. Now not only does this happen, but because it is so abrupt I feel like the developers made the decision to put in a "Press Any Key to Continue" mechanism in there so that the player doesn't just get thrown right back into the game.

Alright so all is out on the table, I would love to tell you about the story, but I'm not really sure what it was, I know that I'm trying to protect my brother, and I know that I'm running through a city. I'm not sure why I'm doing it, though I know that I have to be careful around certain corners because there are those who will chase me down if they see me. I also know that there doesn't seem to be anyone but those around the corner that seem to be around. I know that this game is supposed to try to pull at your heart-strings a bit when it comes to your brother, and I have to say you are going to see a big payoff on that piece, though I'm not telling you when in the game (that would be cheating).

Ok so lets get to it. If you are looking for a game that definitely is not your average game, that uses an art style, a bleak world, and actions that will draw you into a story filled with obstacles, this is the game for you. It is only violent when you mess up in the game, so if you are looking for blood, guts, and glory, this is not the game for you. This was a pleasure to play, and overlooking the two shortcomings of this game, I have to say that I would play another game much like this one, so with that I have to give this game an 8.8 out of 10.

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