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Sunday
Nov022014

Wasteland 2 Review

Wasteland 2, by inXile Entertainment, puts you in the shoes of a group of trainees trying to prove their worth to an organization called the Desert Rangers. You see this group is about the closest thing you have to a police/military force that is out of Arizona and is willing to try to help all of those who are in need of help. The thing is there's a little something extra that is going on, that you are going to be thrusted into, and if you have the right people in your party, and you make the right decisions, you might be able to figure out what the hell is going on.

Graphically this game reminds me a lot of Baldur's Gate, except in a post-apocalyptic, highly radioactive, world. That's not to say that the graphics look dated, its just that the feel, the look, and the camera angle reminds me of BG. Now let me talk about the camera real quick, before I forget. I fought many a battle with the camera when it came to trying to keep the camera centered on my characters when in combat where the terrain was uneven. This was by far the most frustrating thing about this game. 

Now lets get back to the graphics of the game, I did like the personalized photos of the characters that you interacted with, throughout the game, I just wish that it carried over, EVEN A LITTLE BIT, to the character models that you interacted with. The thing is that the majority of the character models where the same for specific type of gender in a specific area, so I understand the need to personalize them with the conversation system, but it constantly made me double take on who I was actually having a conversation with. Speaking of conversation system, I did really like the way it worked. Not only were you able to click on a selection, but you could also type it in. Now there were a couple of cases where when give the conversation prompt you HAD TO type in an answer, and that to me actually made me feel good about paying attention to what might have been a nonsense conversation that I had.

Now lets get into the voice acting, or mismatch of voice acting. This of course is one of my biggest pet peeves, if you are going to voice a character, voice them all the way. Don't half ass it and have some of the dialogue choices voiced and others you just had to read. I understand that it is a huge undertaking to voice everyone, and with such a vast amount of characters you could talk with, I can understand the enormous cost that could incur if you were to voice them all, but if you are voicing a character, just voice them completely.

The controls in the game are very straight-forward, you are going to point and click. You will also have some hotkeys for special abilities, that you will definitely need to employ. One HUGE recommendation that I have for any gamer that takes on this game, is make damn sure your entire party is selected when you are exploring over great distances in an area, and make damn sure you have all your party gathered together right at an entrance/exit before you go through. First you might be screwed because you will enter combat solo, and there's no way to come to your rescue, and second off the game doesn't do well with finding your other characters if they are in a slightly different area, even if you are not in combat.

So this is a very nice, layered, RPG. You will have tons of skills to master, weapons to upgrade, and of course things to find. I wouldn't call this an open world game, but its pretty damn close to it. There's definitely a story you need to stick with, if you are going to advance the game, but for the most part, as long as you have water in your canteens (VERY IMPORTANT), and a rad suit (to fend off the radiation), you can go wherever you please. Now I will admit that you might want to pay a bit closer attention to the conversational choices, or prompts that characters give you, otherwise you might end up accidentally massacring a TON of people that really didn't have to die, but ended up dying because you accidentally didn't heed a warning, or were trying to hard to advance a quest. 

This game utilizes a five person party system, and I will tell you this right now, make sure that all your characters have their weapon of choice, and make sure its different. Ammo is hard to come by and it really sucks if you have two characters highly proficient in a specific type of weapon, and you seem to be running through bullets at an alarming rate. The problem is that you have to be at least level 1 proficient with a weapon, otherwise its basically useless in the game. I learned that one the hard way when I had not only two, but three people using pistols. There's also some other skills that will definitely come in handy. Make sure you have a weaponsmith, it is actually very interesting how many weapons you come across, and of course if you are not careful you will encumber your party members, so why not try to scrap it and see if you can't get a couple of upgrades to use on your parties weapons. Another thing that you will want to have, in combination, is a shovel and perception. The shovel is a hell of a tool to have and will allow you to dig up a lot of good items, and if you are interested, it can also dig up graves. The perception part is to make sure that there's no booby traps, I can't tell you how many mines blew up my characters for serious damage.

There's one last thing that I want to give you a heads up about in this game. Early on, at least for me, I found that I was collecting a ton of clothes. Well don't sell them, store them at the Ranger headquarters, there's a certain weapon that gets introduced in the game that will literally blow all your clothes (minus undergarments) away.

So I guess the final thing is this, should you get this game? Well that all depends, if you are looking for an RPG with depth, in a post-apocalyptic setting, then yes get this game. If you yearn for the days of old (Baldur's Gate-esque) get this game, as long as you are comfy with the guns instead of bows and crossbows. If you are looking for a game that gives you hand holding when it comes to the story, this is NOT the game for you. There is a portion of the game that if you miss the radio transmissions the first time, it becomes damn near impossible to figure out, until you start going over EVERY inch of the world. This game, even though it has its flaws, its ramping difficulty (yeah it gets pretty hard as it goes), and camera issues, its still a solid game, and I'm sure that it would be a nice addition to gaming collections. This game gets an 8.3 out of 10.

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Tuesday
Oct282014

Sproggiwood Review

Sproggiwood, developed by FreeHold Games, puts you in the role of a Cloghead individual who has been pulled from another dimension to give this world another shot. Apparently someone has enough pull for a redo. This is a rouge-like adventure game in which you will have to take on many dungeons to see if you can make this world thrive instead of waste away. The problem is that you are not the only being running around, it turns out that a race of Mushrooms is also taking up residence in this world, and it would appear no matter how many times you interact with them you are always going to cause more damage than good.

Graphically this game is a 3/4 view 3Dish game in which you will thrive, or die, in a square grid world. The thing about this game is that since it is rogue-like, you are going to deal with randomized dungeons. That's not to say that the game length with change dramatically between playthroughs, but the levels will always look different, and might contain different enemies that you will have to deal with. Speaking of enemies, I have to say that I like the simple, yet strong design. Yes there are a lot of gelatinous cubes moving around, but the subtle differences in color (yellow, pink, black, blue, etc) can mean a ton of different effects that might make your adventure a bit more perilous. The color scheme is definitely light-hearted, you are not going to get nightmares from playing through the game. Well at least not the look of the game, you might end up having nightmares of being surrounded by enemies that tear you to shreds because you were not careful enough.

To stop you from being torn to shreds you will have the ability of collecting items in your journey. Now the one thing that you have to watch out for is that since this is a rogue-like game, when you enter a new dungeon it is essentially a new you, you are going to start back at level 1. The thing is that the items (potions, armor, weapons, scrolls, etc) they can be purchased so that you can start at a slight advantage in the next dungeon you find yourself in. Since we are talking about items and weapons, and whatnot one of the BIGGEST things for me when I think of changing equipment, is I want to see an actual change in the character, and this game delivers. Are you wearing different armor, well then you are going to look different. Are you using a new weapon, well your weapon will look different. The little things, like this, usually make the game that much more solid.

Now lets get into the one thing that was a bit of a letdown for me, and fortunately or unfortunately it is not a bug. I'm talking about the music in the game. I liked it, in every level, I thought it was subtle, blended well with the game, and wasn't abrasive to hear in a loop. The thing is that design-wise the music is set to drop out and come back after a certain amount of time, which will leave you playing your game, in which all the rest of the sounds work, in silence.

The controls of the game are REALLY easy to pick up, you are going to move left, right, up, and down. You are going to use the 1-5 button for skills, and any choices that require other button presses will be clearly labeled for you so that there is no confusion. Oh and the space bar is your friend if you want to wait a turn and have the enemy move that one extra spot so you don't have to take damage first.

So I don't know what I was expecting out of this game, but what I got was something that I couldn't put down. I decided to test this game out as one of the games I would play during my Extra-Life, 24 hour game-a-thon. The thing is that I kept coming back to this game. It wasn't that it was too easy, in fact there are still many levels that I'm not able to defeat with specific characters, but it was the fact that I knew what I was getting into, I saw the challenge, and it was an easy one to accept over and over again. You see the ease in the ability to pick up the game, understand the game, and play it, made it so that I just had to keep coming back to see if the little bit of time I took off would be enough for the gaming gods to look down upon me and guide me through another level so that I could unlock more of the game.

Now it is possible to play the game all the way through with just one character, but where's the fun in that. You start of as the farmer class, and although it does have some fun special attacks, it is not my favorite class to play as. You also have the warrior, archer, thief, vampire, and wizard. Personally I'm all about the warrior with his attack that will attack every square around him, this has saved my bacon more times than I can count. It also helps to have the shield ability which can absorb a couple of rounds of damage when your life is on the line. I do want to point out, however, that all the other classes are excellent, and well balanced. I do enjoy playing as the thief, and the rest of the gang. If you play this game, you should too, especially since for each class you get through a level you get a bonus of gold, which in turn can greatly help you.

So lets talk about the gold, the gold is the magical substance that will allow you to level up your buildings which in turn will help your character level up faster, have more hit points, interact with more unique items, etc. You also can use the gold towards unlocking items, weapons, armor, and more so that you can choose to start off with it at the beginning of a level.

Look here's the deal, if you don't really like turn-based, RPG, randomized dungeons, which I can't for the life of me figure out how you couldn't like those things, then this is not the game for you, but if you like those things, as I believe most should, then you need to get this game pronto. It is solid, challenging, fun, and I personally can't wait to dive right back in to see if I can't get another class through a level that I have sadly not conquered with yet. This game gets a 9.5 out of 10.

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Thursday
Oct232014

Endless Legend Review

Endless Legend, developed by Amplitude Studios, is a turn based strategy of conquering, discovering, and surviving. You will get your choice of seven preset races, and each of them have benefits and shortcomings. It is all in how you choose to take on the game when it comes to selecting one of these races. If you are a warlord there is a race for you, if you want to be the scientist, there's a race for you, etc. There are also different conditions to win in the game, some are for conquering your enemies, some are for taking over enough of the world, and I think you know at this point that there are even more ways to win.

Graphically this game looks amazing. I love the fact that as you zoom out the map becomes simpler, but doesn't lose any of its importance, and that of course is the boundaries of your cities. Until you play the game you will never know how important those can be. I just have to say that I was blown away on all fronts when it came to the look of the game. The differences in land type, the units that you will be using in the game, the buildings you will explore, protect, and create, all of it looks polished. There's also something else that looks amazing, and is usually a sore eye when it comes to games, and that is the load screen. It will depict a scene for the race you are currently playing as, and it looks amazing. So I guess what I'm saying is that graphically there's no way you can be disappointed in the game.

The sounds of the game seem to blend in to the game. I can't say that anything blew me away, but I can tell you that I had no issue keeping the volume on in this game. I say that because there are definitely games that when you put a serious amount of hours into, you are ready to mute the game because of repetition, this is not the case with Endless Legend.

The controls consist of hotkeys to get to different game screens, such as your research screen, your unit screen, the marketplace, etc. You will be spending the majority of the time armed with your mouse to make decisions ranging from selecting what to put in your research queue, building queue, and of course where you want your units to move.

There really isn't a story to this game, I mean everyone is out there trying to carve out something for their race. It's really up to the player to determine how the story goes. You maybe the savior of your race and you'll be able to protect your borders and slowly grow your foothold on the world. You may also be a tyrant who only sees red and all that lie before you must be destroyed. The thing about this game, and most turn based strategy games, is that it all relies on the strategies that you employ. Now of course this is more than just a war game, there are other aspects to the game that should not be ignored.

One of them is research, this is where you can set a certain path to show what you are trying to accomplish. You will get to choose what your race researches and what upgrades or enhancements your race will receive once the research is done. The only thing that I didn't really find that impressive about this was that I was either spoiled or trapped by the way Civilization does its research and I felt like Endless Legend's way was as sophisticated or complicated with prerequisites and what not. All you really need to do in this game is research enough subjects to advance to the next ring of subjects.

Another thing that you are going to need to pay attention to in the game is that each race has a set of units, and you are not going to be replacing them as you go along with brand new units. What you will be doing is retrofitting old units with new stuff. In something that I really enjoy, you get to customize your units with newer armor, weapons, and trinkets. You also get to do this with the heroes that you hire during the game. Not only can you customize your heroes this way they also have different upgrade tracks that will allow them to not only level up but become specialized in a way that you choose.

This is a solid game throughout, and the really cool thing is that this is also a game that is ever evolving. What I mean by that is that there is still stuff getting tweaked and added by the developers, but the really cool and interesting thing is that they are doing it based on gamer feedback. So I guess in the end if you are looking for a fantasy themed turn based strategy, where you are definitely going to find yourself locked into playing the game, you are going to want to get this game immediately. This game easily gets a 9.4 out of 10.

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Wednesday
Oct222014

Sinister City Review

Sinister City, developed by JetDogs Studios, puts you in the shoes of John, and man who is sent on a quest to chase after his Fiancée Nina. The thing is that Nina just up and left John to go to a strange city of darkness and vampires. You will have to find your way through hidden object puzzles, collection puzzles, and many more different types of puzzles if you hope to rescue Nina.

Graphically it feels a bit dated, but then again judging from some of the wording used in the game I'm going to say that this was a port of a tablet game. That being said there's nothing wrong with the look of the game. You will be interacting in a 3d environment broken down into five main areas, and of those areas there are several "rooms" you wil get to interact with in order to advance the storyline. The vampire modeling makes the game feel like a cheesy B-movie, but I think that's what the developers were going for, so in other words they nailed it.

The voice acting was interesting. Almost every character sounded like they were just reading lines, and it just didn't feel like there was any energy put into it. The only character that was really believable was the vampire that was supposed to be the TV star. 

You are going to use the mouse for everything in this game, when it comes to controls. Basically you are going to click and drag, or just click your way through this game.

So here's the deal, as cheesy as the storyline was I enjoyed the game, when it worked, and that was the problem with this game. There were several times where after I solved a puzzle and I tried to go on to the next puzzle or thing, I had issues. For example when I am trying to collect items after solving a puzzle, I would go into the next piece of the game where several items are present and after clicking on the screen, anywhere, I automatically exited back out to the area. Then there was the issue of this game only has autosave, which is fine, but I really wish there was a reset button that would reset the scene of a certain piece of the game because during one of the times I had to collect several different items, I was unable to collect the last one, even with the hint indicator highlighting it. I tried restarting the game, steam, and lastly my computer. None of these things work, and so I had to start the game all over again from scratch.

There's also the subtitles, or text that the characters are supposed to be saying, you know when you hear the audio how it is supposed to line up to what is written on the screen? Well its all over the place, sometimes its correct, but most times its hit or miss. The context might be mostly the same but the phrasing and words are completely different. At the end of the day I'm going to have to say that even though this game was enjoyable there were just a couple too many bumps in this game to make it worthwhile for anyone who isn't willing to wrestle with the game doing strange things. So with that I have to give this game a 5.3 out of 10.

 

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Tuesday
Oct212014

Mine Cart Master Review

Mine Cart Master, by Collected Worlds, is an Android game in which you will be tilting your device back and forth to control a mine cart connected to a train to try to collect gems and power ups falling from the sky, but be careful not all items are good, and if you try to collect the wrong type too many times you will ultimately end your game.

Graphically this game is not going to blow you away, but I don't think this game was ever meant to do that. Each item has its own shape, and collection of colors, so its pretty easy to distinguish between them. There is a little bit of distortion happening when the items start falling faster, but I don't think that there's really any way to really, truly, completely smooth that out. 

I hope you like banjo picking, country-style music, because that's what you are going to get a lot of in this game. There's also a coin sound for good pick ups, and explosions for bad pick ups.

The controls as stated before are you tilting the device side to side. You will also get to use power ups, if you currently have any by tapping their icon on the screen.

So let me start off with the power ups. It is always a good idea to give the player something to give them an advantage from time to time, but it would be even better if the player didn't have to trial and error through each on to figure out what they do, to make it easy for everyone I'm going to give you the list of power ups, and my description of what they do:

 

  1. TNT barrel - blows up screen (causes really weird white box to flash on screen)
  2. Mushroom - slows everything down for a small amount of time
  3. Pickaxe - turns all good gems to the color indicated by the cart for maximum points

 

One of the nice things is that if you pick up any of the above items in a playthrough, they will be added to your current collection. So you retain them if you don't use them. Another thing that you want to constantly be on the lookout for, especially further into the game is lanterns, they are your health(3 max) and they can definitely elongate your gaming session. There's also wooden crates, not sure what they do except give you extra points. Oh that goes for the key as well.

The nice thing is that you can get this game for free, but there's going to be a small ad at the top of the screen. There is some micro transactions in the game, but thankfully they are not a pay to win type of scenario. One of them will get rid of the ads for good. The rest will give you extra mushrooms, TNT, or pickaxes.

Now I know that this game seems pretty simple, but isn't that the point. It is easy to pick up, it ramps up in difficulty at a good pace, and because of the randomized pattern of things falling from the sky, no two games will the same. I will give you this advice though, as you collect good stuff you're going to be filling a meter, once it is filled everything is going to go faster. So to maximize your points try to only collect the gem that is currently on the side of the cart (you get extra points for that), and of course the crates and keys. Oh and missing something doesn't have a negative effect on you, so if you want to dodge everything, you can do that, its just not all that entertaining especially since this is a game built on try to get higher and higher scores. So with that I need to give this game a grade, and I think I'm very comfortable with giving it an 7.6 out of 10.

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Sunday
Oct192014

Back to Bed Review

Back to Bed, by Bedtime Digital Games, on the OUYA, puts you into the role of a sleepwalking, narcoleptic, man name Bob's subconscious. Your task is to navigate Bob through level after level of dangers, twists, turns, and of course oddities. This is a puzzle game where the name of the game is affecting Bob's path so that he can sleepwalk his way back to his bed. The problem is that since you are going it in a dream realm you are going to have to do it over and over again to make sure that Bob gets to the dream land that he should be at.

Graphically this is a game that stands out so much with its Escher level design, and Dali themed set pieces. This might not be the game I would recommend before you go to bed, but the design of the levels, and the different elements to be aware of, or interact with will definitely leave an impression on you. I do have th admit the dog-like creature that you will be controlling, with the face of a man, is a little bit jarring, but it works for this game.

The sounds of the game are minimal as you are playing a game where you have an individual sleepwalking, and it would be quite odd if it was heavy with sounds. Sure there are sounds, but they are the soothing type, it actually plays right into the theme of the game, its soft, calm, peaceful, and would definitely help keep someone who is asleep, asleep.

The controls for this version of the game are pretty straight forward, you are going to use the left analog stick to move your character around, and you are going to use the O button to pick up different objects, such as apples and fish. You can also use the right bumper to speed up the flow of time, which I have to say definitely helps when you have already setup the successful path for Bob back to the bed.

So as stated before you are a subconscious creature that looks like a dog with the face of a man. There's level upon levels that you will have to navigate Bob through. Sometimes there are obstacles that will wake up Bob causing you to restart the level from scratch, but there are also times where Bob will just restart where he started the level, but the rest of the level will remain the same from when he fell off the level. There's also different obstacles such as the blowers that will push Bob around, but allow him to continue to walk in the same direction that he was walking. This is definitely a puzzle game that makes you think on your feet and be prepared to change strategies on the fly. There is no truly planning mode in this game, once Bob starts walking he's going to walk until he runs into something that makes him change directions, wakes him up, or he falls into bed. 

Personally I've actually had a blast with this game simply because I can put an extra controller in the hands of my 2 year old son, and let him think that he's playing. It flows so well and isn't overly complicated in its appearance that my son can follow along and feels the accomplishment right along with me. That's not to say that this game is not complicated or difficult, it definitely has some serious difficulty, and there are definitely frustrating moments where you almost have the thing solved but you forget to put down the apple, or you don't move fast enough and Bob has to restart causing you to restart the pieces that you have used in the level.

I think that this is definitely a game for those who are looking for a challenging puzzle game that definitely uses all types of directions, and orientations. This game will definitely give you a sense of accomplishment every time you completely a level. This is also a game that you can find on several different platforms, just in case you do not have an OUYA at your disposal. So if this sounds like a game for you, don't wait, go ahead and get it, and start conquering the levels. This game gets a 9.2 out of 10.

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Sunday
Oct192014

Last Knight: Rogue Rider Edition Review

Last Knight, developed by Toco Games, is a PC game in which you will take on the role of squire, or knight in training. You will be faced with many different challenges, as well as many different modes to play in. This is a 3D rogue runner game. What I mean by this is that the levels are always going to be randomly generated, and you, on your horse, will constantly be going. You will have to joust enemies as they block your path. You will need to collect coins, and in some modes food. 

Graphically you are looking at a game that looks very well polished. There's definitely some roughness to the polygons used, but that just fits the game. There's also an impressive amount of different play modes, when it comes to the story portion of the game. You will get to see the game from 3/4 view, 1st person, and top down. Making sure that all of these different views felt polished is quite impressive. There's also the fact that the levels are randomly generated, and the differing areas, path, cave, forest, etc flow seamlessly. 

The music of the game is a very uplifting, medieval themed soundtrack that will have to getting into the game as you dodge the obstacles, take out the enemies, and collect the rewards.

The controls of the game are your WASD combo, well most of them. You are going to be using W to bring your lance down, and A and S to move from side to side. You will also use the space bar to jump, but in this game timing is everything, so you are going to have to be mindful of when you jump.

Alright so there's a lot to this game. There's really three complete modes in this game. You have an endless runner mode where you will basically try to last as long as possible in one shot. You will gain quests to complete, and you will of course be trying to collect as much treasure as possible. I will tell you this, though it is not clear, to complete the quests you receive you have to have the correct rider unlocked. That's one of the reasons you are collecting treasure, there's also power ups that can help you, but you will first have to gain enough coins/treasure to unlock those as well. There are several different modes within this mode, and they increase in difficulty and also have pre-requisites before they can become unlocked.

The second overall mode is the story mode. To truly master this mode you will have to play all the levels in the 3/4 view, 1st person, and top down. Each mode has the same overall story, but you will have to beat the levels in each mode. Unfortunately you can't pick the mode that's most comfortable for you, once you've unlocked it and continue the story from where you left off. There's going to be tons of knights, spiders, frogs, dragons, skeletons, and more that will stand in your way of saving the kingdom, but if you can make it through it all, a special prize awaits you.

The third overall mode is probably my favorite, as well as being the most frustrating mode. In this mode you will see the truly rogue-ness of the game. An entire world will be randomly generated for you, and you will have to navigate through said world, but if you die, the entire world goes boom. So there's no redos, there's no chance of continuing on after you have defeated 7 regions, you will have to start from scratch, even in the armor and items department. So as you can see it's amazing to have this randomly generated world where nothing is the same during any playthrough, but if you die the entire thing goes out the door, which to me causes me much stress. I would love to have the ability to be able to come back from a death, perhaps with a penalty, and continue on in the world. It just seems like such a waste of design to throw away something like that so quickly. There is one other thing that is a bit frustrating about this mode, and it doesn't really have to do with the gameplay, its the freaking overworld map, I can't seem to smoothly look over it, its always crooked and I feel that there's some magical stopping point for the camera which makes looking at different sides of the castle damn near impossible, or just selecting the next realm you want to be in.

So here's the deal, this is a game that is really easy to pick up and get lost in for a good chunks of time, most of these modes are quite rewarding, I just wish the last one felt that way. That being said this is still a very well put together game, and for those who like the runner style games, this is definitely something you have to get right away. There's a ton of content, and I think that anyone who gives this game a try will find that its more than worth the price tag. This game gets an 8.9 out of 10.

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