Extra-Life

Wednesday
Oct082014

Enola Review

Enola is a game developed by The Domaginarium, and puts you into the shoes of Enola, the lover of Angelica, right before you go through an emotional, twisted, dark vortex. You will have to take on the projected world of Angelica as you learn what has happened to her, throughout her life, and what twists and pitfalls have shape her life to what it is today. This is not a game for the weak of heart, and this is definitely a game that deals with mature subjects.

Graphically I have to say that this game is about on par for the first person horror/thriller type of game. You will find yourself in a monastery, a house, a bar, and other locations, all of them created out of Angelica's fears, nightmares, and emotional roller coaster. I do have to say that even though the graphics didn't blow me away, there was something about those moments of catching stuff out of the corner of your eye that will definitely keep you on high alert.

Most of the sounds in the game are ambient sounds, or those of things you definitely need to be careful around. One that seemed  to catch me off guard a couple of times was the sound of the spinning blade that happened to be in a wall, right around the next corner. There are times of music, but its in the background, and definitely comes off with a creepy vibe. Sounds are both your friend and most definitely one of the things you will dread to hear as you go through the game.

The controls are pretty straight forward. You are going to be using the WASD setup to move, the mouse to move the camera, and of course the left mouse button for interactions.

Alright so I had no idea what I was going to get myself into when I started this game. There was a moment of this should be interest, its someone's nightmare. What I didn't know is that this person is probably the most scarred individual that I have ever had to deal with. This is a game a layers, and throughout the entire thing you are peeling away layer after layer, what you find is more knowledge about your girlfriend/lover, but you also find out how messed up and tragic her life has been. There are definitely some VERY dark topics that are brought up through the game, so you better be secure in dealing with uncomfortable situations or topics that befall a girl as she is growing up.

One of the things I liked and disliked about this game is that it definitely gave you that slightly open world feel to it. Sure there was a world with boundaries, but there was definitely also the ability to go explore it all if you want to before really advancing the story. That being said, this philosophy also seems to apply to the areas that are meant to further the story. There is a lot of stuff that you might miss, small objects on the floor or seen if only you looked at  a slightly different angle in order to advance the story. Too many times I found myself going in big circles in an area trying to desperately find that one thing that I missed, or perhaps more than one thing, that will help me move on with the game. I understand that this is supposed to be suspenseful, and scary, but it became a bit too agitating at certain moments when the items required for a solutions were a little too well tucked away.

There are a couple of bugs too that might get to you, if you are not careful, but the developer has been really good about releasing new patches out to clean up the bugs as they solve them. That is not to say that this is a buggy game, its just when you find a bug its kind of hard not to notice.

Oh and here's the biggest thing that I found frustrating about the game. I don't think the developer knew where to put in checkpoints in the game, so they are bunched together in very random places. There was a series of three of them, where I was literally walking down a couple of halls, no outside action ever occurring. Then in the next segment of the game, in a place that they would be useful in case you forget about the spinning blade at the next corner, it would be nice to have so that I didn't have to do the 5 minutes leading up to that one part.

So here's the deal, if you are willing to get lost in a game, and have the patience to find your way out especially when the answer is 100% clear, you will enjoy getting creeped out by this game. I'm not going to lie this game is definitely rough around the edges, but there was something about it that made me want to come back to it. I'm think it was the tragic story of the lover, and a sense of "god it can't get much worse for this girl, can it?" So with that let me deal out a score, and that score is going to be a 7.1 out of 10.

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Monday
Oct062014

Neverending Nightmares Review

Neverending Nightmares can be found on different platforms, but for this review we are talking about the OUYA flavor of the game. This game was developed by Infinitap Games. In this game you will be playing the part of a character by the name of Tommy. Now as the title would suggest you will be waking up from a series of nightmares that seem to build upon one another, or is it devolve through one another. Either way you are going to be walk through a game filled with darkness, shadows, and things that might bump in the night.

Graphically this game is so simple, and yet so elegant. Here's the deal it appears hand drawn, and to add the shadows its as if someone took a thatch pattern that they were doodling and added it to the top layer of the game. The thing is that this is the feel of the game. I don't want to say the game is made up of doodles, but you definitely get that drawn by pen feel, and it holds truth throughout the game. You are going to interact with several different environments, all very well drawn out, and though sometimes it isn't immediately obvious why you can't go any further in a certain direction, you will have an ahha moment. That being said they artist(s) definitely did a good job to draw attention to certain things. Most of this game is black and white, but there are times where there are points of interest that have thicker outlines and/or have additional colors to add to the scene. Oh and the things that go bump, some or monstrous, some are quite frightening, and last but not least your character's worst nightmare.

The music in the game is very subtle, but definitely gives you that suspense feel of moving around  at night where anything could potentially come out of the shadows. I also have to say that the ambient noise definitely added a level of extreme unease. I found out the hard way that if you play this game from start to a finish you are going to be very tense after listening to sounds of potential doom or injury.

The controls are really easy, but don't think that the game will be easy in turn. You are going to be using the analog stick, or the directional pad to move around. You will have the right shoulder button to run, but be warned you will run out of breath if you are not careful. Finally you have the O button which is your interaction button. This will allow you to save your life, get a bit more creeped out, and interact with objects such as doors, pictures, candles, and more.

So I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started playing this game, but I have to say that after playing it I'm probably going to have a little bit of trouble falling asleep tonight. This is not a game filled with gore, but there is definitely violence, death, and a very uneasy sense that permeates every step you take. I do have to say that my character being very apparently asthmatic grated a bit on my nerves sometimes especially when you are trying to move fast because the story dictates it. That being said it definitely adds a bit more strategy and urgency when there's nothing you can do BUT run. One of the things I found out at the end of the game is that there are branches of the game you do not get to play when trying to play from start to finish. There are different pieces to the story that will give you a different ending, though I cannot promise you that you are going to get a better ending.

After playing this game part of me felt like I just stepped into a story created for a character in a family in the card game Gloom. That's actually a very good analogy, at least for me and for those out there who have played Gloom. Do not expect to find rainbows and puppy dogs in this game, but do expect to find that once you start this story, you are not going to want to put it down until you have found the end, whatever it may be. This game gets a 9.2 out of 10.

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Monday
Oct062014

Gauntlet video gameplay

Today, Zealeus gives a little live footage of the new Gauntlet game

Wednesday
Oct012014

Hunters of the Dead Review

Hunters of the Dead, by Traptics, is a monster hunter, tower defense, rogue-like game. In this game you will start with a base of operations, and a randomized grid of city buildings that will enhance your ability to survive monster attacks. The catch is that the layout is always going to be completely random, as is the times when clearing a section of the city causing a fight to occur. Now of course the biggest and baddest of old school monsters will definitely keep you on your toes through the duration of the game that you can survive, and that of course is Dracula.

Graphically this game defintely gives off the feel of what city buildings in a dark age town terrorized by monsters should look like. There are pieces of the art, especially the battle area, that feel a bit rushed. This also goes with the hero character designs, I feel like they are trying to make a serious game and at the same time try to do a parady of what they are doing, which is really confusing. 

The music in the game definitely gives you the monster hunter vibes. The voices in the game are interesting, it's hard to peg them down. The thing is that voices are randomly given to your units so you never know which of the 4 or 5 voices your units are going to have. Some of the voices get old really fast, others well they just kind of go away after a while because you hear them so often. I will tell you what though, when I hear Dracula speak I do have that instant feeling of dread, probably because I'm about to lose everything in the fight.

The controls are really simply, its a point and click system, though it is in real time for the battles, so depending on the speed of the enemies you are facing, you either can wait a while or have to move fast, and sometimes you are not going to be fast enough.

This is your definition of a grind game. You are going to fail completely A LOT of times before you actually feel like you are getting anywhere in the game. One of the cheats that I like to use, to help prolong my game sessions is, when I hear Dracula's speech I immediately exit to the main menu and select the continue option. This will place you back in the game right before you selected that game tile that caused the Dracula attack. Hell if you really want to this is also one hell of a way to avoid fights until you are ready. 

Speaking of ready, this is the biggest qualm I have with the game, your units have a set number of action points. They do not replenish after combat, it takes 2 for them to be entered into combat, and additional ones if you want to move them around in combat. The problem is that when they run out they go and rest. Now there are buildings that you can "gain" that will help keep down the number of rounds you have to rest before a unit comes back, but if your unit was on its last leg, health-wise, its going to be the exact same after resting. So in order to get your unit back to where it needs to be you will have to send them home to rest and then select an amount of turns for the unit to then visit the hospital. This is also the only way to get your units healed.

There are many buildings in the game, and they are all vital to you surviving. There's the tower which will add to your base's current defensive number. There's the houses which will add a unit to your cause, all of them will be found at level 1.  There are the cemeteries thatare used to train units. There's the goods store, which decreases the amount of turns need for resting a unit. There's the gun store which will give you a randomly selected weapon, that if you have a regular unit will be equipped to them (machine gun, shotgun, sword, sniper rifle). There are hospitals that will help heal your units when they are sent there. Finally there are the gadget stores, which apparently help out your units, but I've never figured out in what way really.

I am going to just tell you right now that I went ahead a played this game over and over again so that I could accumulate the money needed to unlock all the upgrades. You see, an interesting aspect of the game, is that the money you accumulate in game sticks around even after a complete defeat. Now after you have unlocked everything, you are going to find that the game is still probably going to chew you up and spit you out. In my opinion there's so much micro-managing and guessing that the fun gets sucked out. There's also a ton of questions that are felt while playing this game. The main one is, why the hell is it that when I'm 6 buildings away from my base I'm magically attacked at my base? Should I have not been able to detect the enemies moving towards my base and maybe plan accordingly so I'm not left with a single level 1 unit and everyone else is off training, resting, or healing? There's also the question, that crept into my mind after way too many playthroughs of, is this game actually beatable? I have tried my best to gear up for a Dracula attack, and I'm going to be honest, I don't think it is possible to survive and kill him. Sure there's the chance his hit on your base doesn't take you to zero, but to actually kill the warping all over the battlefield, Prince of Darkness, I just don't see it.

This is an interesting game, and there's a lot there that will have you coming back, trying different things, and hoping that the city layout will help you survive long enough to have units strong enough to take on all that will be dished out, but in the end there's just too many frustrating pieces for this game to contain the entertaining aspects of this game. So with that I have to give this game a 7.4 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Oct012014

Save the Comet Review

Save the Comet is an Android device game, developed by MogaMecha. In this game you will be playing the part of the protector of a comet. What I mean by this is that you have a comet that is flying through space in the center of the screen and it will be your fast thinking and movements that will prolong the life of this comet. There is infinite playability in this game.

Graphically this game gives you the feel of 3D in a 2D space. The best thing is that it works. There's definitely a simplicity to the look of the game, but you can definitely tell that there was a lot of attention put into this aspect of the game. One of my favorite rewards/features is that after playing the game for a while you will accumulate enough points to be able to customize the planets you are interacting with and the appearance of the comet that you will be protecting.

I'm going to be completely honest with you when it comes to the sounds of the game, I always found myself playing the game on mute, I do that for most of the Android games on my tablet, so I'm going to have to plead ignorance on that aspect of the game.

The controls for the game are both simple and tricky at the same time. You are going to be tapping and holding your finger down on the screen. You are doing this to bring planets close to the comet for it to take on stardust, doing this will also cause the direction of the comet to change. You can also use planets to destroy other planets that might be in the comet's path. 

So here's the deal, this is the type of game that is simply rinse and repeat. It's an endless runner type of game that takes on a slightly different look and feel. The whole objective of this game is to try to last as long as you can. Now of course there's also the star dust collection component to the game, but I've never been able to accumulate all that much to actually unlock any of the special stuff. I found that the majority of my hands on playing of this game revolved around just trying to survive as long as I could, and not worrying about collecting the dust.

This is definitely a game that you can pick up pretty quickly, and it doesn't take all that much time to get through a round of the game. Now of course you could go on an unprecedented run and last for a good amount of time, but its not a game that you are going to need to sink hours into per gaming session. I do kind of wish that there was a little more instruction on some components of the game, but in the end this is a solid enough game that you should check it out. This game gets an 8.1 out 0f 10.

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Wednesday
Sep242014

Magnetic by Nature Review

This OUYA game, created by Tripleslash Studios, has you navigating through a world of fallen robots. Could you be the last one standing? Well if you are at least you have one hell of an advantage, you see you have the ability to utilize positive and negative magnetic pull. You will need to utilize quick moves and changes between magnetic pulls to get through this game.

From a graphics stand point I have to say that this game stands out. Even though it does appear simple with the color schemes and 2D look, there's something about this game that shows you that even though there's not 3D full blown art, that this as been well refined, and flows well throughout the game. Also appreciate the fact that as you progress through the game you are seeing the environment change, you are not looking at the same stuff through the entirety of the game. 

The music in the game is something that I can definitely listen to all day. It's got a nice flow to it, and because there are no lyrics it blends in nicely with anything that you are doing. So when you are playing the game the music blends in with the game flawlessly and in my opinion is a big part of the game.

The controls of the game are pretty straightforward you are going to use the left analog to move your character, and then you are going to use the shoulder buttons for positive or negative magnetic pull.

So lets get into game play, shall we. You are going to notice that magnetic forces are the centerpiece of this game. In a way its a 2D grapple game, but it is also a bit more than that. Through out the levels that you will be taking on you will notice that not only are you trying to pull your character towards a magnetic point, but you will be also using them to catapult you away from certain points. As you move through the game you will also notice that there's a bit more creativity required to get through the levels successfully. Now of course the on thing that will have you in fits is that when you die you have to do that specific level all over again. I know I have lost my life many times trying to get the extra piece in the levels instead of just forging ahead, but when you have the chance to get everything in  a level, you have to, right? So the one thing that took me WAY TOO long to figure out and almost caused me to never get into this game was the fact that I didn't know what to do as soon as you load in. I didn't pay attention to the fact that you have to walk up to a downed robot and you will then be given levels that you will have to complete to advance the game. Once I figured that out it was the kind of game that I couldn't put down.

There's definitely enough in this game to keep you entertained, and challenged for quite a while. There are definitely some levels that will have you screaming profanity as you just missed that one magnetic pull or push, but in the end you will come back to this game. Now let's get to the biggest piece, I know that not everyone has an OUYA, and I'm sure that there are those out there who wish this game was on other platforms, well it turns out they are aiming for PC/Mac/Linux. So here you go, this is definitely a game that ramps up in a very challenging way, but its also the type of game that you want to come back to, with that said this game gets an 8.9 out of 10

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Sunday
Sep212014

Monkey Tales Review

Monkey Tales, by Larian Studios, is a game geared towards kids in grades 2 through 6. This is actually a collection of games, by the same name, brought together to give you all those different grades in one nicely wrapped package. In each of these grade levels you will get to select a character that will be used to traverse through different levels. You will not only get to follow along with a story, but you will also find that you are on a 3D adventure that actually teaches you along the way. In every single grade section you will have to journey through levels filled with traps, obstacles, bananas, and of course troublesome monkeys. Each section is comprised of many levels that you will have to conquer, and the only way to accomplish that is to defeat the monkeys in educational games.

Graphically this looks like a very good looking game. No offense, but most educational games aren't known for looking cool and interesting, but I do have to say that with the added elements of collecting the bananas, taking on the other puzzles of the levels, and just the though and touches put into each level makes this look like an actual game that has some educational components to it, and not the other way around. You will find yourself in all kinds of different settings through out the game, but there is one constant. You are always in a locked area/room, that you cannot get out of until you face off against the monkey. 

Now lets get down to the music and sounds of the game. Once again, just like the graphics that went into the game it feels polished. You have a helpful guiding voice that will make her presence known when need be. You also have music that fits into the area that the current level you are playing on.

As stated before this is an educational game that is centered around math. This is definitely a workout for kids in grades 2 through 6, and I have to admit that a person of my age is going to have a workout as well. You see there's more to it than just knowing the answers, this game makes you formulate the answer in a speedy fashion. You see the games you are playing against the monkey are not turned based, but real time games. You do not only have to figure out the answer, but you are going to need to select/find the answer before the computer/monkey does. You you will battle the monkey until one of you gets the desired amount of points for victory. If you end up being the victorious one, you will find that the door to exit the area that you are currently in is now open.

Now I do want to say, since I did point it out previously, that there's also another more game component to this, and to be honest the more I think about it, the more I can see that this is problem solving of a different type. When you find yourself in the area/level, you will notice that there are bananas that you can collect, I highly recommend that you collect all of them on each level. Now in order to do that you are going to have to have to figure out the puzzle of the level. Sometimes its just a matter of navigating around the area/level, but most of the time you are going to have to activate magnets, move boxes, dodge laser beams, and more. So if you are looking to have your child, or yourself, given an even greater challenge than just the monkeys, try to solve the entire area/level, and collect all the bananas.

Each grade section has a different story to tell, and different levels and areas to navigate through. My one wish is that we did not have to see the progression on the map between each level. At first you can definitely see it as a rewarding look at how you are progressing, but after a while, especially since you have to load to that screen, and then back in without really doing anything but watching your character move an inch or two on the map, it really takes away from the game. There's also a zoo component to each of these grade sections, this is where the monkeys that you have defeated are located, at least that's what you are lead to believe, but in reality once you have solved enough of the area/levels you will notice that the number of monkeys no longer increases, which kind of confuses players/students of all ages.

Now with all of this said I have to say it is refreshing to see a game with this kind of educational value potential formed in a way that will be fun and exciting for students/players. I remember playing games like this when I was in school, and it is good to see that there are at least some developers out there who understand that to make a game educational you don't have to make it bland, you can make it feel like an adventure in which a person can feel accomplishment, and have fun learning and honing their skills. This game, or I should say bundle of games, gets an 8.9 out of 10.

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