Monday
Jan192015

Smite - Early Thoughts

 

After attending the Smite World Championships, I've finally run head first into the world of Smite.  I've only played about 15 games of Smite, all Conquest, and all on a ranged mage or hunter class.  Woe is me to try a melee class - I had tried in League of Legends, and it always failed spectacularly.  Charlie mentioned it in the previous podcast, and it's kind of funny- I've been deep into the world of PvP in some gaves, whereas Charlie tends to eschew the PvP in favor of not PvPing.  I've also heard Charlie curse enough to make a pirate blush, and I now understand why...

While Smite is certainly a fun MOBA game and I enjoy playing, the effects of ONE shitty teamate in a game of 5 v 5 can be catastrophic to the enjoyment for all.  Take a game I encountered last night.  Player A wanted to to Jungle, and claimed so in Lobby chat.  Enter gameplay, and player B uses a Jungle build.  At this point, let's be serious.  This is the casual league.  It's not like we're playing for money or a prestige league.  I could care less if we have 4 Junglers.  And, hell, teams could probably win with 4 Junglers or at least make it competitive is all PUG games.  At this point, Player A LOOSES it and trolls, "I claimed Jungler.  I am now going to feed [give opponents easy kills] the other team."  He proceeds to have something like 1 kill to 23 deaths.  Intentionally.  Which, in a game like Smite, only makes the other team increasingly more leveled and rich compared to ours and just not fun.  Then you take a number of other games where 1 or 2 player from either team disconnects.  In all these cases, the enjoyment of a match is severly diminished.

In these matches, which are all conquest and generally take :25 to :45 to complete, I'd estimate a full 1/3 of matches of have had some kind of disconnect or asshat ruining the fun.  In a game that's all about the people, that is an alarmingly hi right of trolling.  Going back to our Jungle situation, we all said we're going to report, to which he responds, "I don't care, I have 6 accounts!"

Point is, I've enjoyed playing Smite.  But, the all to often toxic and trolling community is severly hampering my ability to enjoy the game.  It is a fun game when all 5 players are there and not being trolls.

I'll continue to give the game a try and hope things get better with the human element; maybe I just got bad lack with my first week if playing?

Thursday
Jan082015

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, developed by The Astronauts, follows a detective name Paul Prospero as he takes on his last case, the case revolving around a young boy by the name of Ethan Carter. Ethan has mysteriously vanished, and so too has his entire family. It will be your job to place all the pieces back together. Have no fear you do have one thing that most detectives don't have and that is the ability to be able to play out scenes from the past. All you will have to do is set the scene back up to what it was like before the events that you will be viewing occurred. You know that this game is something different when it points out to you that there will be no hand holding in this game. What that means is that you will have to make it through the game on your own skills, there are no hints, no easy shortcuts.

Graphically this game is stunning, and I have to say that I was beyond impressed with the simple fact that there were no load screens. Well I take it back, when you go from the title screen to the actual game, there is one, but the rest of the time you are going to experience an uninterrupted experience that keeps you in the game and blows you away with what you get to see. You will have to hike through the hills, through abandoned houses, through an old mine, through a maze, and more. All of these scenes will have you sucked into the game. The character design is also top notch, you can feel the characters through the screen, they have dimensions and depth to them that shows through not only in the way they look, but in so many other ways.

One of the biggest ways is the voice acting, you will get Paul narrating, you will get to take glimpses of previous conversations hand in different areas that will reveal more about what is actually going on. You will hear and feel the fear, the anger, the torment, and so much more. There's also the soft music that plays in the background, it is not there to distract but to pull you further into the game.

The controls are something that you are going to have to figure out, though its pretty basic stuff. If you want to walk you will be using the standard WASD. If you want to interact with an object you are going to use the left mouse button, and of course the mouse controls the camera. You will want to use shift to run, and don't worry Paul is apparently in the best shape a man can possibly be because he won't tire or running. You might also want to know that CTRL will allow you to squat down.

So I remember hearing about this game, and wanting to play it, and then for some reason it fell so far off my radar that I'm embarrassed to say that I missed its release. I found it on Steam and HAD to try it out. Although this game isn't very long, it clocks in at just under 3 hours, it is something that once you start you are going to want to see it through to the end. I will fully admit that it took a little bit of time to understand a couple of the core mechanics in the game, but once I figured it out the game had me completely.

The main mechanic is solving the scenes that you come upon. There are ten different scenes. You can definitely run right past some of the scenes and find out later that you have to back track, but here's a hint to help you stay on task. If you run into a scene that has objects to interact with, then you are going to want to stay in that area, if you stumble too far away and it starts to feel like you have entered a new scene, I'd recommend, doubling back. You can technically go back later, but it will definitely help reveal the story in the correct order if you solve the scenes as you come to them. 

Now I really wish I could talk about some of the twists to the story, but to do so would be terrible, and would ruin it for future players. So what I will say is don't be surprised when the twists keep on coming, and if you are like me you might get that feeling that there's a huge twist taht is just outside your grasp. Hopefully that should excite you enough to dive into this game. I do have to say that in the end even though there was some closure I do kind of wish that there was more game for me to get lost into. I think that says something about the way the game was made. 

I know that its not even 3 hours long, but I believe that it is worth every second you get out of this game. To be honest you might just want to walk around in the world, not solving anything and get lost in the landscape and the soft music to go along with it. This game is easily one of the best put together games I've seen in a long time. It gets a 9.4 out of 10.

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Monday
Jan052015

Elegy for a Dead World Review

Elegy for a Dead World, developed by Dejobaan Games, LLC and Popcannibal, is a unique experience to be had by anyone and everyone who has or had aspirations of becoming a writer. You will take on the task of writing the stories of this Dead World. You can either take on pre-created stories with fill in the blanks, or you can strike out on your own in several different areas and create a masterpiece with only your mind as the guide.

Graphically you are given a soft and colorful world, devoid of any body, minus you. There are several different areas that you will be interacting with, and each piece can be the key to the next part of your story. If you are going the pre-created story route you will notice writing quill symbols appear where the next part of the story will take place. You will also be presented with a side scrolling flow, which is fitting since you need a beginning, middle, and an end. The really nice thing though is that there are different levels in the scenery, so there's a feeling of depth to the worlds that you will be walking through. To guide you along your journey you will be walking a person in a suit through the areas. To be honest weakest piece of this entire experience is the person that you will be controlling, especially when it comes to time to write something into the story, the arm just doesn't seem to act the way it should on the being, but serious that's about it for weakness.

Since you will be penning much if not all of the story there's not going to be any voices to work with, unless of course you want to lend your voice as you type the story out (but of course that will be just for you, there's not option to record voices). There is, however, music, and it is truly haunting. I believe its that way to help add to the atmosphere of where you are, and allow you to think about what the next piece of the story will be.

The controls are quickly explained to you, you are going to be moving from left to right, and you will need to hit tab to enter a writing piece. You will also need to press up in you want to go into structures, or down into different areas.

You might have noticed that I've been shying away from the term game because this, to me, isn't a game, its a tool, and experience, that definitely deserves some attention. This is really a writer's sandbox. Sure there's a couple of boundaries you can't really break out of, the setting, and the overall theme (all though I'm sure if you really put your mind to it you could change the theme to whatever you want it to be). I've written a couple of stories, and to be completely honest every time I finish one I'm ready to write another. The experiences I have within these worlds stirs up my creative juices and I feel like I have to get more words out.

Now that being said if you don't like reading and writing when you don't have to, then this is definitely not for you, but for those who want to see where your creativity can take you, you have to try this out. Seriously, I was a little hesitant when I heard about Elegy for a Dead World, and wondered how well it would allow me to write my own stories, but after going through the pre-created stories, I have to say that I'm not only impressed but blown away. The greatest thing is that it digitally publishes your work to their own little cloud where others can read it and then comment on it. It also gives you a story book form where people don't have to traverse the world to read your story, but do get what you are trying to convey through words and pictures of the area where you wrote pieces of the story. 

I truly hope that this takes off and that stories come pouring out of this. I would like to see more worlds to put my stories into, but as it is, this is definitely something that I highly recommend. This EASILY gets a 9.3 out of 10.

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Monday
Jan052015

Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends Review

Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends, developed by JetDogs Studios, puts you in the shoes of Eva, a girl who is just trying to find out a little about her past when she receives a letter to come to Prague to meet a man who has something to tell her about where she came from, and her family. This is a hidden object game with a dash of adventure thrown into it.

Graphically the game looks like your middle of the road type of game. It looks good, but it's not going to blow you away. You are going to find yourself in different rooms and locations, all of which you will basically be standing in the middle of and will be rotating to the left or right. By rotating left or right you will see more of the room or area and will be able to interact with different objects. Sometimes these objects will be accompanied with a little magical glitter to point out to the player that you can interact with them. You will get to look around a cafe, an antique shop, a house with four different rooms, a graveyard, a crypt, and a couple other places that I can't give away (it would ruin the story).

There is one HUGE graphical glitch in the game that drove me crazy and that was the journal, in game. In most games, when a journal is involved it, of course, keeps information about what is going on in the game, and sometimes hints to what to do next. Well the issue is that I could barely ever read the journal because of the color choice for the text. Not being able to read something to help figure out an answer, or perhaps where to go to next lead me to lean HEAVILY upon the hint button.

The voice acting in this game was all over the place, to me it felt like half the people wanted to voice the characters they were voicing, and the other half mailed it in. The ironic thing was that it was the smaller parts in the game that actually seemed to be the best. The lack of emotion portrayed in some of the voices really hurt the game.

The controls in the game are really straight-forward it all comes down to the mouse. You will pick up, select, and find objects with the click of the mouse. This is about as point and click as you can ever get.

So as stated before you are Eva, a girl on the look out for something, anything, that would tell her a little something about her past. She will meet a small group of characters, some good, some bad, and it is the adventure that she is unwittingly put on that will allow her to uncover some unsettling, and startling secrets about who she is, and where she came from. For the most part this game chugs right along, there are times, however, where I was completely lost on what to do next and it was only through either checking, usually in vain, the journal, or clicking on the hint button over and over again. You see the hint button, when not near something that you can interact with, will give you freebie hints on which way to turn in a room, and perhaps even where to exit out a room/area. There are also a good number of non-hidden object puzzles that sometimes take a bit of time to work out, but if you get lucky you might stumble upon something needed to help you along.

One interesting component to the hidden object portion of the game was that there were several times where you were not going to be able to completely find all the items because one of the items required a piece that wasn't even in the scene that you were looking over. It might not even be in the same area as the puzzle, and this is when it gets a bit frustrating as you are sent back tracking through areas to find something that will allow you to advance the game. I understand developers want to allow the players to get the most out of their games, but having to constantly back track, especially for something that just magically appeared just then, gets a bit frustrating.

So here's the deal, this game isn't going to blow you away. The story is average, the graphics are average, and it took about 3 and a half hours to beat, but it definitely had some charm, and I did want to finish it. Oh and that's the last thing I want to talk about, the ending, ABRUPT!!! Holy crap, what in the world, you have this little engine that could type of pace and then its like the train just decided to dive bomb into the ocean. The ending happened so fast, and of course had the expected twist at the end. So in the end this game gets a 6.9 out of 10.

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Tuesday
Dec232014

Vindictus Playthru

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Monday
Dec222014

Randal's Monday Review

Randal's Monday, a game developed by Nexus Game Studios, puts you into the shoes of the man Randal, himself. You will be challenged to find a way to break out of a strange cycle you find yourself in after snatching something off your friend. Little do you know, the ramification of that action, and what turns out to be a Groundhog Day effect, as you will be forced to live the same Monday over and over and over again, but there is something odd that seems to be going on, the day is the same but things seem to be changing from Monday to Monday. Will you be able to make everything right, or will everything fall into chaos?

Graphically this game reminds me of the Deponia series. It has the same depth of field as well as the cartoony look to the characters. Speaking of characters, you are going to meet all minds of characters, and just like everything else in the game, each time you see them, well each Monday, that is, there might be slight changes to them. You will get to explore a comic book store, a bar, a nerd convention, a therapist's office, your apartment, your friend's apartment, a pawn shop, and more. Each area has some very unique individuals that you will get to deal with, and of course they all look like they feel out of a nerd convention. Oh and did I mention the posters, and items that have been placed throughout the game that scream nerd-cred. I'm talking lightsabers, Watchmen posters, energy blades, Hal 2000, and of course soooo much more.

The sounds of the game basically continue with the nerdy theme. The voice acting is also something that really makes this game. It doesn't hurt to have the voice behind Randal in the movie Clerks, voicing the main character by the same name, but the dialogue and the rest of the choices for voices definitely make this game highly enjoyable.

The controls for this game are pretty straight forward. We are talking about a point click adventure game where the majority of the game will be spent pointing the mouse and clicking. Now of course you will have to be on the lookout for opportunities to combine items from your inventory together, or with objects in the world.

So I think I personally built this game up a little too much in my head. I knew it was going to be oozing nerdy, and it did just that, but there is something about this game that started to grate on my nerves, and that was the constant need to go back and forth for little items. Of course these items would then be used to advance the game, but there were plenty of times where only a person who constantly did patrols of each location opened with the current iteration of the game, and trying all items on everything would be able to not miss a thing. Saving grace of this game is the hint section. Now of course, apparently, uncovering a hint kills a kitten, but sometimes it just has to happen, otherwise you will get so lost that the frustration will be too much to take. 

I just feel like this game just misses the mark, not by much, but enough that this might not be the game that everyone expected. That being said it is a fun game, with lots of humor in it, and definitely deserves a look. This is a point and click adventure game, and yes I know that back in the day this  you never know what items you might need was just the norm, but I guess with the evolution of gaming, and the genre in general it just feels off. Now of course I'm not expecting everything to be handed to me, but some of the stuff is still a far stretch to connect the dots. So for this I've got to give the game an 7.8 out of 10.

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Reagan Gorbachev Review

Reagan Gorbachev, developed by Team2Bit, puts you into an alternate universe, one in which the US President, Ronald Reagan, and the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, have to team up to battle a radical militaristic group who have stupidly kidnapped both of these leaders. In this Co-op game for the OUYA, you will get the chance to either play as one of these historical figures, or as both. This game does require that both characters be active in a level, and if one dies the level is over, but at the same time there is the option to toggle between the two so a single player can enjoy the game as well.

Graphically you are looking at something that screens old school, you are going to notice that this game tries to simulate the actual time in history that this game is taking place in, so the graphics are going to act accordingly. This is a top down game, and most of the game is really well laid out, and from the bird's eye view you get while playing you are going to find that the layout of the each level is easy to navigate, and you won't be surprised by anything that could cause you frustration. What I mean by that is that the answer to getting through a specific part of the game is not obscured by the way the game is laid out. 

The music goes hand in hand with the graphical style, so don't expect voice acting, or crazy new beats, but what you do get is something that fits right into the rest of the game, so enjoy it as you progress through the game.

The controls of the game really depend on what style you are playing, if you are playing single player you're going to have to use the toggle button so that you can move both around the level, though have no fear there is no screen lock, so you don't have to worry about that. You'll also need to know the attack button, the pick up button, and of course, for Reagan the lock picking, and Gorbachev the computer hacking (quite bizarre, right?).

So as stated previously you are in an alternative universe/history where these two fabled leaders actually have to fight together, one with a samurai sword (Reagan), and the other with deadly darts (Gorbachev) to not only free themselves from their imprisonment, but to also foil the plans of this radical organization that is trying to throw the world into chaos. Now I know that this might be slightly spoiler-ish, but I think it is safe to say that there's going to be potential nuclear consequences to be had if these two can't work together and save the day. 

I do like the fact that there is a little bit of a mini-game after completing a level, which tests your knowledge/luck when it comes to knowing information about these two leaders. I'm not sure what, or if you get anything out of it in the long run, but it was fun to find out a bit of trivia about those two, and most of the time guess correctly on the question (I mean it is a 50/50 shot).

So I guess to kind of wrap this review up, if you like a little bit of cheesiness, own an OUYA, are willing to deal with alternative histories (cough cough, Jesse). You might want to check this game out. I will say that there sis a bit of a learning curve when it comes to figuring out the best strategy for the level you find yourself in, but this is definitely an enjoyable game, and as long as you can keep both leaders alive you are in for a good experience. So lets give this game a score, shall we, and that score will be an 8.7 out of 10.

 

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