Extra-Life

Tuesday
Aug122014

Ghostship: Aftermath Review

Ghostship: Aftermath is the creation of a one man team, and is a very ambitious undertaking that takes your character into the deep reaches of space where you have been sent to see what went wrong with a ship called Goliath. Now the rest of the story is a bit hard to explain, that's because no two adventures are the same. You see the developer decided to allow for infinite playability in this free roaming sc-fi horror game.

The graphics in this game look pretty solid, and you can definitely tell that this game was developed first for a VR device, and then pulled back to allow others to enjoy the game. It does utilize the Unreal engine, though I have some serious questions about the hardware that this game was being developed on. There are several different areas and levels of the ship, most requiring you to move between pressure holds, aka the loading screen. The odd thing is the constant appearance of these pressure holds. I was not aware that the Unreal engine was killing my processor so much that it required very small bite sized chunks of a world to be accessible between loading screens. The enemies that you will face, of course are of the alien variety, and you will be utilizing very generic looking weapons.

The sounds of the game have a very deep space spooky vibe, and you will notice that things that are supposed to be voiced, are indeed voice, if not VERY LONG WINDED. There is the ability to cause two audio dialogue tracks to play one after another, which of course destroys whatever information that you were listening to and have just triggered.

The controls are the usual WASD for movement, SPACE to jump, use the mouse for camera movements, to aim and to fire.

Alright so here's the deal, as I stated before this is a very ambitious project, and I like the fact that the developer wanted people to have a unique experience every time they played, the only problem is that I have yet to have that experience where I am DYING to continue deep into the game. Well let me correct that, I've died way too many times, with very limited ammo, yes survival game, but once I'm out of ammo, the only thing I can do is run to the pressure holds, which what am I going to do then? Oh there's one fun little fact about the pressure holds. It is a one way in, one way out type of system. So lets say you accidentally go into the wrong pressure hold, you were supposed to go to floor 5 but accidentally went in on floor 4. Well what you will have to do is actually exit the pressure hold, and then re-enter it, you can't just turn around and take the door that just a second ago, before a brief load screen was active. 

As far as I can tell there is no melee combat in the game, you HAVE to use a gun, and if you don't have one, well I'm not sure what you are going to do, but the game will hold your hand to get your first gun of the game.

There are so many variables in this game that its a bit too much. To be honest I think that the developer probably should have made one hell of a solid storyline, making sure all the pieces of the game work to perfection, and then started to add little random stuff into the game. As it is now, its very cookie cutter, and there's not a whole lot that keeps one's attention, besides the frustrating pressure locks. Oh and if you die in the game, that becomes where you saved your game and so you can NEVER start back at a checkpoint. That reminds me of something else, while we are on the topic, the in game menu, is completely useless, and has a delay on it after you make a selection. Let's say that you accidentally call it up and then you just want to click on Resume game, well that menu is going to stick around for a bit, and of course the cursor is still going to be showing, so you will think that its broken, and I have successfully locked up the game by clicking rapid fire between the only two options on the menu, resume or exit game. With a game this complex there really needed to be a control layout, and perhaps a log/journal to help the player in the game. I still have no idea how to do many of the actions. Yes I have looked at the information from the start screen, but its a completely different ball game when you are in game, and all of a sudden you need to use a key/button that you haven't used yet, and now you have no way of figuring it out short of hitting every key/button.

Unfortunately I think the scale of this project was a little too big, and so this game doesn't really do it for me in the end. I was really hoping for maybe a Dead Space lite type of game, but this game has some enhancements and fundamental improvements before it gets there. This game gets a 4.3 out of 10.

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Saturday
Aug092014

Third Eye Crime Review

Third Eye Crime is a game developed by Moonshot Games. In this game you will be taking on the role of Rothko a thief with a special advantage. He has the third eye, he can see where people are looking and he can also see the most likely places that people are going to look for him as he tries to stealthfully make it through 120 levels.

This game definitely has that Noire vibe, all though there's a bit more color that the normal Noire theme, you can definitely feel the sexy number who is all kinds of dangerous, but you feel the need to help her, and of course you quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble. The level designs vary to a degree that you are going to have to constantly be thinking of new ways to distract, mislead, and get away from the obstacles in the level.There's also something about the slide comics between levels that speak to me. It just further pullls you into the world, the environment, the pulse of the game.

The music, I know this is not going to be a big surprise, but it is the type of music you would have heard in one of those old detective movies, where you see the PI's door, and a tendril of smoke curling from the PI's desk.

The controls definitely show off the fact that this game can land on several different platforms. It is all about path planning. You will click on your character, Rothko, and then draw the line of movement that you will be taking to try to get through the level. There are also power-ups, or helpful distractions (that's what I like to call them) that you can place or use throughout a specific level to help you achieve your goal of finding the door.

What I will say about this game is that it doesn't completely swallow you in story, but it definitely has enough that you know what is going on, and what the twists and turns are in the game. The interesting thing about this game is that the difficulty of the levels, I believe, depends on the type of gamer that is trying to conquer the level. In my experience with the game there was definitely not a constant building difficulty to the game. There were some levels that I breezed through, but the very next one stumped me to no end. I do have to say that I enjoyed the fact that you could skip a level after failing a couple of times, but I will warn you, there is a very good chance that you are going to have to come back and beat that level anyways. You see there's a certain amount of levels in each chapter, and the only way to advance is to complete enough of the levels in that chapter. 

To me probably the most difficult twist that they throw into the game, and don't worry its not going to give anything away, is the fact that you are going to get to a part of the game where you are going to have to help more than just Rothko to escape the level. That is where it really gets tricky for me. I apparently was always able to get one or the other out of the level, but never both. Oh speaking of ramping difficulty you will see a progression in the enemies that you are trying to avoid you will start with slow moving guards, but don't be surprised if and when the enemies that you are facing off against can gun you down, which of course makes the chances of outrunning the enemy damn near impossible.

There is one more thing that was added to this game that will of course have the perfectionists going wild. In each level there is a set of three badges. It of course is possible to complete the level without achieving any of the badges, but there are those out there, I know, who will want to get the perfect completion of the level. Some of the badges range from getting through the level in a specific amount of time, never being seen by an enemy, using one continuous path through a level, not taking a bullet, and so much more. Now I will be the first to admit that I have probably completed about 20ish% of the levels to perfection, so I don't know if there's anything special other than feeling accomplished, but you never know.

Alright so lets get down to the nitty gritty. This is a puzzle game that will have you tested in your skills of stealth. I will admit it is not for everyone, but if this seems even slightly in your wheelhouse you need to at least check it out, hell just go ahead and get the game, it is that good, and that challenging that when you come out the other end you will feel like a rockstar. So with that I have to give the game a 9.0 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Aug062014

Toxic Bunny HD Review

 

Toxic Bunny, by Celestial Games, is a fast paced platformer game that will allow you to step into the role of one really pissed off bunny who is ready to take matters into his own hands when toxic waste is dumped all over the area that the cute woodland creatures live. You will be shooting, collecting, kicking ass, and sprinting through level upon level in this game.

Graphically this is a very well put together game, I like the enemy design, I like the derangedness of the main character, and even the pick ups (both the one's you want to pick up and don't want to pick up) are very well done. The levels are full of twists and turns and it definitely gives you a maze type of feel with the complexity of the levels.

The music in the game makes you want to head bang through the whole game. I do like the narrator's voice as well, it definitely gives you this almost mother goose vibe, which of course is polar opposite to the type of music and gameplay that you will be experiencing.

Now for the controls. Let me just go on record and say that you should save yourself some trouble and just play the game with a controller, though you will have to get it mapped out in order for it to work. Yes there is re-key binding in the game, but no matter how I moved things around it just didn't feel right. This game screams PLAY WITH CONTROLLER, but there are no defaults for the controller, which I have to say I find quite odd. 

So lets get into the game, if you are going to play this game the way it is meant to be played, in my opinion you are going to want to play the game almost at a constant sprint, this is the only way to truly traverse a level, especially if you are playing over and over again. Speaking of traversing the level, whomever was in charge of collision detection in this game needs to calm down. The amount of collision experienced on slanted pieces of the level is insane, it never felt smooth and there was a couple of times that if you are not sprinting your character will get stuck going up a diagonal. Now here's the odd thing, I wonder if the same person was in charge of collision detection for the enemies. There are some small enemies that you have to deal with that will constantly be at just a couple pixels below your gun, or weapon, and so they will literally eat you alive. There is no way to crouch so you are going to have to hope that their AI pathing will take them that couple of pixels up so that you can actually get rid of them. Alright now back to the level design, for the love of everything holy I know that the developers wanted to have fun stuff to collect in a level, but dear god the amount of stuff that is there distracts more than enhances the gameplay.

Perhaps that is what they were going, for a game where collecting stuff is out of this world, where the collision detection is supposed to be suspect, but hardly noticable if you are constantly traveling at high speeds, and build levels as if they were mazes. Speaking of which looking at the level map during gameplay sometimes does not clearly show you how to get to the next objective, which by the way feels like you are running to each corner so that you have to see all of the level. There are also jumps that because of the collision are damn near impossible to hit, and when you do miss, and you are going to a lot you are going to find that you are going to have to run a gauntlet over and over again. It's not like you miss the jump and get to just go back to the jump, no there's usually an opening that will make you fall further down. Oh speaking of which if you fall just far enough you can take serious damage, which makes the lack of precision when it comes to jumping that much more frustrating.

At the end of the day I have to say that this is not the game for me, so I can't really recommend it. There was definitely a lot of good things about this game. I liked the graphics, the characters, the look of the levels, and of course the story, but it's definitely missing that cohesion of all pieces that would make this game completely solid. So with that I have to give this game a 5.8 out of 10

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Saturday
Aug022014

Toto Temple Deluxe Review

Toto Temple Deluxe is the next big game from the company that brought you Knightmare Tower. Again you will be able to play this game on the OUYA. Now to show the world that this developer is not a one trick pony, they bring you a party game. You will get to play with 1 to 4 players. The object of the game is to reach a certain score first, and then you or your team wins the game.

Graphically you can see that this has the engine that was used in Knightmare Tower backing it. In this game you are presented with several different levels, all with their own little twist. You will find some levels will have some moving pieces, and there are still other levels that possess some slightly hidden twists. Now they have decided to go with the color code method to distinguish between characters, which actually really works, not once did I not know where my character was in comparison to others. The most important piece of the game, the goat, has its own little cuteness. There was a couple of small tweaks that I would have liked to see to the HUD, and that was to see everyone's score at the same time, instead of just showing who was in the lead and how close they were to meeting the goal.

The music in the game was kind of this simple jungle style music, but it didn't need to be complex since most of the game is all about trying to move around the level and capture the goat and coins.

The controls in this game are pretty straightforward, you are going to be using the O to jump, the U to dash (when you do not have the goat) or call up a temporary shield (when you have the goat). You do have the ability to double jump, and when you combine the U button with a direction that is the direction you will dash in.

I have to say right off the bat when I heard that this was going to be a party game, I became a little depressed, even though it is nice to see that Juicy Beast can make more than just one type of game, I was really hoping that the next game was going to be in-line with Knightmare Tower. I was happy to see that there was a mode to play that allowed for 1 player to have at it. There are currently three modes, with more on the way.

The mode that allows 1-2 players is more of a practice mode. In this mode you will be aiming for the targets and working together to try to get the highest score. You will have the option to play one of the many levels available in the other modes, so not only do you get to play around and try for a high score, but you also get to learn some of the quirks of the levels.

There is also a classic battle mode which is 2-4 players. In this mode you will select a level and then have at each other to see who can get to 3000 points first. Now have no fear it is a best of three contest, so if you just lost, you can have vengeance.

Then there's the team mode 3-4 players. In this mode you will be playing as either a solo player or a team player. Now there is a slight twist to this version of the game, and that is that if you have a team mate and they have the goat you too lose your abilities as if you have the goat, but have no fear an opposing player can't steal the goat from the team mate that physically does not have the goat.

Alright so this sounds like a pretty solid foundation on which a fun party game can stand. Well the problem is that's it. There is no way to mess around with colors. There's no way to change a match to last longer (either by points or by best of). After you complete a match you are thrown back to the choose a game type screen, what I would have liked to see is that it stayed in the mode that you were just playing, especially if you are playing with friends. It is a bit annoying that you have to do the special way to change the highlighted option after each match. I would have like to be able to see a tournament style, especially in teams, where you get to setup a series of levels to see who the best team was.

I do have to say that I really did enjoy the power ups or power downs that the game had included in the game, but I really would have liked to have some sort of in game manual to tell me what exactly some of them did. Some of the power ups were visually pretty easy to figure out, the gold magnet draws money towards you, the grey one causes money to avoid you.

So at the end of the day I'm looking at a game that isn't complete. Hell the developers have even stated it throughout there game by putting up the more to come signs all over the place. This is a great start to a game, but it is not a game, that in its current state, I can really recommend as a solid party game. Now the difficult thing for me to do is give this game a score because I can see SO MUCH potential, but who am I to say if it will actually get there or not. So with that I have to go with what the game has to offer as of right now, and that's going to earn it a 6.7 out of 10.

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Friday
Aug012014

Sokobond Review

Sokobond is a puzzle game with a learning twist. You see not only are you trying to reunite, or combine the different objects in the level, but these objects are actual periodic elements, and you are putting them together to create different chemical compounds. All I have to say is who knew science could be so fun? You will be faced with level after level of differing elements and obstacles to overcome. If you successfully put all the elements together not only do you unlock additional levels, but you get to learn about the compound you just created.

Graphically you are not going to see anything 3D, but in this puzzle game, the beauty of the simplicity of the graphics shows that this is definitely more about the elements. All the colors are varying subtle colors such as red, green, yellow, blue, etc. The levels are laid out in a grid base format where you will be trying to combine the elements by moving up, down, left, and right. The little added pieces to the game also come off as subtle, but are very recognizable after you use that functionality the first time. The pieces I'm talking about are the - and + which will take away bonds, or add bonds.

The music and sounds follow the same path as the art style. It is a soft sound that gets other sounds added in when you make a bond, or lose a bond.

The controls, as described before, are simply moving up, down, left, and right.

So here's a game that has no story, but has many rewards to be had. The rewards you gain are that you complete a level, open up other levels, and if you so choose you can learn something about the compound you just made. As the levels increase, the difficulty increases. There are many many levels to sink your teeth in, and for those parents out there you can not only educate your kids with this game, but you can secretly help out if you have a controller plugged in. The best part about this puzzle game is that the developers did not want to stop the chance for someone to learn about all the different compounds, so there is an option in the menu that allows you to unlock all the levels.

I personally found this game a breath of fresh air, I did not have to worry about monster attacking, or having to watch certain statistics to make sure I could survive a level. I was able to play at my own pace, and hell I actually relearn some stuff that I had long forgotten about. So with that I have to give this game a 9.5 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Jul232014

Vlad the Impaler Review

Vlad the Impaler, a game created by Section, is a game in which you will select one of three character types, and it is through your choices in the game if you live to see the ending or if you too become a victim of the darkness that seems to be blanketing Istanbul. You will have the ability to change your stats throughout your adventure and choices, but know this, you only have 15 decisions you can make, and many options to choose from. The question is will it be enough, or will you get lost, or worse.

Graphically this is an amazingly artistic game. Yes there is no real movement in the game, it does look like a choose your own adventure when stills being used to add a little extra to the story, but what looks like hand drawn pictures add something special to the game, and add that little extra bit of darkness as you are reading the text that displays upon choosing your action. The artist of this game is beyond skilled, for that you can be sure, and I really would like to see more of their work.

The music is that creepy music you would find in an old school vampire movie. It is that dark foreboding type of melody that blends in perfectly with the game.

The controls are simply click to make your choice.

So you are sent to Istanbul by your old friend Vlad. He writes you and says that there is something that is corrupting Istanbul, and you might be the only person who can stop it. You will get to choose from the Explorer, the Soldier, and the Mage. Each of these has their own little twist in the overall course of the game. You are then thrown into a city map that gives you different options to check out. It also shows, clearly, the amount of turns you have left before the game goes into its final act, and of course your current stats. You have the choice of selecting the same place over and over again, I seemed to gravitate to a couple that I pursued over and over again. There are many paths to take in this game, and there are many actions that will either take stats away or bolster them up. I've played through this game a couple of times and can honestly tell you that its hard to predict how the game is going to end up for you, but I will tell you this, overall the game is pretty short. The thing that takes the most time in this game is the reading of the story when you select an area so that you can make an informed decision about the action you will take.

There is something about this game that is very appealing. It is a game that you can definitely take at your own pace, and you don't have to worry about waiting too long to make a choice. The game goes at your pace as you are simply making choices. I do wish that the story did not feel so disjointed as it came to the continuation between the end of one chapter and another. That was really the one constant that you were assured to get in the game. It threw me into a place where I had no idea what was going on. I would be saving someone one moment and the next thing, after getting a breakdown of stats for the chapter, apparently I'm in a duel with someone on a roof.

So lets get down to it shall we? If you are looking for an action packed game, this is not going to be for you, this is a very slow, soft moving game, but man is it dark. There is so much potential in this game, and I kind of wish that the whole, you only have 15 turns thing was dropped to allow the player to get further into the world. As I stated before ending and chapter and beginning the next one was very jarring and left me feeling like I was constantly getting ripped out of the story and having to get myself back in. If you really want to play the game you can get through it in about an hour, and less if you choose actions that end up taking you to a piece of story that you have done previously.

In the end I hope that I get to see more of this from the developer, and that they improve on what they have. Also that they keep letting this artist create the amazing art that was used in this game. In the end, though, I have to give this game a 7.1 out of 10.

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Tuesday
Jul222014

Age of Zombies Review

Age of Zombies, for the OUYA, created by HalfBrick, is a game in which you will take on the role of Barry Steakfries a gun toting no nonsense man only looking to kill what is bad in this world. You might remember him from his debut role in Jetpack Joyride. Now in this game an evil scientist has created a time vortex that is allowing zombies to enter different historical points, and of course you are going to have to step in an save the world if there's going to be a tomorrow.

Graphically you are going to see what looks like a very well polished cartoony looking game with a variety of zombies. You are going to see ninja zombies, gangster zombies, your average zombies, cyborg zombies, zombie George Washingtons, cowboy zombies, and more. In this game you are going to find yourself in several different areas, each with about 3 to 4 levels to play around with. They will be themed for pre-historic times, the roaring 20s, feudal Japan, the Wild West, the future, and more. Every single piece of this game, artistic wise looks very well polished. Yes they are using sprites, and the game is in 2.5D, but at the end of the game this game, graphically flows.

The music of the game fits the comedic yet zombie killing rampage that you are going to cause. The thing is you are not going to be hearing much of it as the bullets will be raining, zombies will be gasping their last breath, and explosions are going to take lives.

The controls are really straight forward. The most common way I've seen the game played is through a dual stick approach, you can use just the left analog and then use a button to fire, but I find it more enjoyable going the dual stick route. Now there's also the shoulder buttons that you can tap to cause the secondary attack to occur, this is usually grenades, dynamite, and such.

This game really boils down to killing a ton of zombies while trying to stay alive. You are going to have several different weapons that you can use during the levels. You will notice that there's a gauge at the top of the screen that gives you an idea of how many more zombies are going to come at you, or how much more health the boss has before you can beat the level. I do kind of wish that there was some change in the gun's appearance when you pick up the flamethrower, SMG, rifle, and other guns, but it always stays the same. The only time I've seen it visible change was for the buzz saw. Funny thing about the Buzz Saw, and for those who don't want to know you might not want to read the rest of this sentence, but if you use it on a Boss, it is instant death to them.

So you are going to be traveling around trying to stop the zombie outbreak before it can take over the world. You are going to meet some interesting characters, and at least one will have made a previous appearance in another game. If you are looking for a hardcore storyline, this is not the game for you. If you are looking to kill wave upon wave of zombies, with no repercussions, this is the game for you. The main gun has unlimited ammo, and as soon as you pick up a different gun you gain it and can use it until the ammo runs out. I do want to point out that if you just picked up a SMG, and then immediately pick up a shotgun, the SMG is gone for good until you find another one, so use your more powerful weapons wisely.

There's also a ton of fun achievements to try to get, and I have to say that even after beating the game there's always survival mode, and the fact is that killing lots of zombies never truly gets old if you need a little stress relief. Is this game super difficult, no not at all, but that's just why I can come back to it and kill a ton more zombies. It is a the kind of game that you can pick up at any time and get right back into it. So in the end I have to say that this game is a solid 8.8 out of 10.

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