Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: The Novelist

It’s safe to say in the realm of games, that I have not really played anything else like The Novelist. It follows the Kaplan family as they stay in a house during the summer. Dan is the main character and a novelist, his wife is a stay at home mother and artist, and their son is starting to grow up and develop as a child. Each character has a big problem. Dan is starting to really struggle with his writing, especially with his current book. The wife wants to desperately get back into the art world, and is thinking about leaving Dan. Their son is struggling in school and starting to feel like he doesn’t belong in the family. You as the gamer play an unknown force that moves around the house and is trying to influence what happens to the family.

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Each week a situation will arise. Each member of the family will have what they want to happen. You discover this by looking for clues around the house, and reading the memories of the three people. Once you have discovered what each of them want, you then get to choose the outcome. So for instance the wife’s grandmother dies. She wants the husband to come to the funeral. That same week the husband is asked to give an interview about his book. The son that week also wants to go to an air show. If you choose to have the husband go to the funeral that means the husband and son will be disappointed. You can also pick a compromise in these situations so that at least one other character will get part of what they want, but one of the three will always be let down.

It requires you to really balance how much effort you put into satisfying each character. You can in fact focus on the family, but this means that Dan’s book will suffer and you can even get an ending where he gives up writing all together. On the other hand the book could be your focus, but the wife might leave Dan as a result. Balance is the key word to trying to please everyone.

There are two gameplay modes, story and stealth. In story the spirit can free roam to look for clues and read memories because the Kaplan’s can not see it. In stealth you have to actually stay out of sight, if you are caught the game ends and picks up from the last save. Stealth doesn’t really seem needed to me. It adds challenge, but The Novelist isn’t really about the gameplay as much as it’s about the story of the family. Stealth just doesn’t add that much to me.

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The other issue I have with the game is that some of the desires vs compromises just seem a bit silly. One week the son’s reading will start to suffer, while the husband wants alone time, and the wife wants more family time. If you choose the son it says that every morning Dan, and his wife sit down with the son, tutor and spend time with him. Yet somehow the wife can still end up angry that the family isn’t doing anything together that summer. Little moments like that clearly don’t make sense.

Despite those few moments the game is still really interesting. Trying to get a “perfect” ending (good ending for all three characters) became a bit of an obsession of mine because every time one of the characters would suffer I honestly felt for them. You want the Kaplan’s to be happy, and you can relate to them. There is also something to be said for experimenting with the endings. What happens if you just focus completely on the son? Can Dan be happy even if he stops writing? It is also fairly harsh, there is a certain reality that has to be faced, that the entire family cannot get everything they want.

Bottomline:

The game is not perfect, as mentioned stealth seems completely unneeded, and a few of the compromises make no sense. It is still very interesting and has a vast number of different outcomes to keep it worth playing multiple times. If story driven games are something you enjoy I would highly recommend it.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: PvZGW2 Trials of Gnomus DLC

We may be a little late to the party on this DLC, but we have finally experienced it. Trials of Gnomus is the newest DLC for Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2. The main feature of the DLC is community events. Now PvZ has already played around with this feature in the past. They have given a few events for the community to work on, like everyone getting a total number of healing, or fire kills. Trials of Gnomus takes it a step further. In addition to those types of events it also has random gameplay types.

So far we have seen Dinos vs Cats. In this you take over the Dinos and Cats from the infinity gameplay and do sudden death team vs team matches. There are also boss hunts, as well as just random plays on standard gameplay types (for instance team vanquish where you don’t pick what character you respawn as). To reward people for this they have introduced a new star system, rainbow stars. Each time one of these events is happening you get stars for participating and can open a 10 star, 30, star, and 50 star chest.

All of this is really fun, and a very smart way to keep their community coming back. It’s a huge ‘hey everyone make sure you are signing into PvZGW2 regularly to get to play these new game types and get special rewards. The execution leaves a little to be desired however.

First and foremost the events themselves are inconsistent at best. While they claim to have a calendar that helps with this, it’s been unreliable. Second they are very short lived, with no consideration for the fact that the community itself is so diverse. If you want a game that reaches all ages, and want to encourage that community then power to you. Realize however doing these events in the middle of the week when many people can’t participate is not wise. Also making them all only 3 days long, which then requires people to be very dedicated during those 3 days, can be rough. To add to that the servers are clearly not able to handle the events themselves. While normally play is only partially affected when these events happen, the events themselves are shaky. If you are even able to get into one of them (and that is a big if) you will still have to contend with drops, and major bugs.

Lastly many of the events sort of require that you come with your own friends/community to play with. Boss hunt is hard, even on normal it’s extremely challenging. Attempting it with random players is an exercise in madness. You still get a descent star reward for participating at all, but it would be nice to be able to win without having to work out bringing in your own people. Especially given again how random the events are, and that they don’t last very long.

In the end my solution is simple. Make the events last longer, and have a shorter down time in between. It shouldn’t be 3 days of an event and then a week off. It should be closer to 3-5 days for an event then 1-3 days off. Keep them coming, keep them consistent. Next drop the difficulty on the events that pit players against AI. Normal boss hunt should not be as challenging as garden ops on hard (or even crazy). Lastly, and probably the most important, make sure your servers can actually support this.

Otherwise there is not a lot to say. I am a fan. It’s a great way to keep the community involved. The rewards are worth going for. The events are interesting enough, and it does effectively keep me coming back to the game to play more.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Valley

Valley is the newest game from Blue Isle Studios. They are a rather untested company, with Slender: The Arrival, being their only other major release. After hearing little about it I found myself being drawn to Valley based on a trailer that launched close to release. The marketing for the game was, almost completely non existent, which shows in the many people asking, “What game is this?”. I hate to call myself an easy sale, but I truly am. One good trailer is usually enough to sell me on something, and Valley had that.

It promised a game with a beautiful Valley, open exploration, and a story that challenged technology vs nature, and how far is too far. For the most part Valley lives up to those promises, almost entirely in fact. The game offered something pretty simply yet beautiful, so with managing to live up to that why did I still struggle to enjoy it?

Valley starts rather plainly, you listen to a voicemail your character received. Your “friend” explains that you are crazy to go to Colorado in search of the life seed, because after all it doesn’t exist. He then compliments your bravery and sense of adventure. Flash and your character has gotten in a wreck and is stranded in the Rockies. It is not the most convincing opening, in fact it feels a little lazy, however that is quickly forgotten when you actually get into “The Valley”. It is a beautiful place, and consistently the thing this game does right. Your setting is filled with atmosphere. The music matches perfectly with everything you do. Calm and serene when you are simply looking at the beautiful landscape. Fast and joyful when you are jumping around and exploring. Dark and foreboding when things get dark and foreboding. It’s easy to forgive the lack of explanation as to why your character or anyone else has ever come to this valley because it’s such an easy place to enjoy.

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As you explore you discover a L.E.A.F. suit. This grants you many abilities, including running faster, jumping higher, and the ability to come back to life. The suit was part of a government experiment that was apparently taking place in the valley during WW2. As you progress forward looking for the life seed that brought you there, you listen to a number of recordings that help uncover the secrets of the valley and what happened there.

You also are taught that everything about the valley is a balance. You die and can come back only because something else dies for you. You need energy, but getting it can cost of the lives of the trees and animals around you. This theme is there from start to finish. When you die you see a life meter for the valley itself be affected. It makes a rather large impact, dying only to return and see more death around you lingers. The consequences for failing in this game feel so much worse because it is not your characters life that is really changed by this.

The rest of the story unfolds with less than perfect pacing. You are sometimes given an overload of information, and sometimes given far too little. The recordings often leave more questions than answers. Beyond just that, a few of them feel forced in to quickly give explanation to something that might otherwise not fit at all in the context of the game. For instance it will be fairly far into the game before you see your first real “enemy”, all explanation for them is rushed and most of it makes little sense. On the reverse of that you are overwhelmed with papers, recordings, and thoughts of your main character asking the question of whether or not the army’s presence is killing the valley. You will stumble on the answer to that question and then still be hit over the head with it. This awkward pacing kind of undercuts what is otherwise a really well thought out story. It’s something we’ve seen before, a fight for a place and one man’s obsession with power. It might be a cliché, but it is because it’s something we can enjoy.

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The other major issue is the gameplay itself. Valley has such a good idea. Put you in the suit, give you powers, then let you explore a beautiful location. The problem is the controls are clunky, and sometimes just outright don’t work. You spend more time fighting your character than actually enjoying the fast, free form, experience you are supposed to have. You will be presented with areas where you are simply supposed to run, you build speed and it’s pretty impressive. The problem being every time you turn with the course your character will completely run off track, slowing these moments down. There are also slingshots which when they work are a true moment of high flying and movement, the problem is they almost never work. Major sections of exploration are dependent on these slingshots and they become frustrating and annoying. Beyond that even just walking can feel like you are fighting your character.

What’s the problem you might ask? I’ve been known to like games with questionable gameplay before. The problem is that exploring the valley is a central part of the game. Being in this beautiful setting, discovering it at your own pace, and really immersing yourself in the experience is what is supposed to make this game what it is. Failure to do so leaves you feeling disconnected and unable to truly enjoy what is offered.

In spite of all my complaints I really want to love this game. It’s beautiful soundtrack, solid story, and the beauty of the valley itself. All of this pulls me to really want to enjoy this experience, which makes the disappointments only stand out more.

Bottomline:

Valley is not a bad game. However, what easily could have been something truly amazing knocks itself down to simply good because of it’s issues. The pacing in the story could have even been ignored if the controls and gameplay had only been tightened up. It is unfortunate that I cannot praise the game more, and simply say look for it to be on sale at some point.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Bound

Something like Bound is a bit difficult to write a quick impression of. It’s something that really lies in the experience, and it is difficult to find words for it. That being said I will attempt the best I can. Bound follows the story of a pregnant woman as she reflects on her childhood. You take control of her as she walks along a beach with a notebook. Every few feet she stops, and you choose a page from the notebook to play.

Gameplay is done platformer style, however movements of your character are inspired by dancing. As you make your way through the world, you will do various dance moves to go over obstacles, like moving platforms. You will sometimes have to “dance” creating a shield around yourself as you do so in order to keep your character from being attacked. That seems simple enough you are probably thinking, and honestly gameplay is the most simplistic aspect of this. It is beautifully crafted however, and watching your character move makes the game worthwhile on it’s own.

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What makes the game so hard to describe is the story and visuals. You know that you are playing the young girl, you can identify the character meant to be the mother, however the brother and father figures are a bit more difficult to place. The two boys are represented by large creatures, one angry and sort of the antagonist of the story, the other with motivation that is hard to follow. Depending on how you pick your chapters you might come across an idea of what is going on faster than others, but it’s ambiguous to an extent no matter the order. Sometimes the brother seems a bit negative, sometimes the father, sometimes the mother herself seems to fill the role of the screaming monster. All you know is that something is playing out, and given that one member of the family is represented so negatively that there is not a happy ending. Honestly as I am writing this I am not even sure that I put together all the pieces of the story correctly.

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The art design is equally as challenging as the story. The characters themselves are hard to get a read on. The characters all have helmets, and their actual bodies vary from human to entirely animalistic. It’s hard to describe actually, but rather interesting and equally appealing and unappealing. The same can be said for the levels. They are colorful, and can be beautiful but then very jarring. The world also builds itself around you as you progress forward so it can be shocking and disorienting. Most of my deaths were caused by my inability to actually see where platforms were, or lack of understanding of how things were being built around me. Going even further the perspective changes often, and sometimes without warning. You will be walking then pass through a door and upside down, then on your side, etc. Beyond that the actual background (not what you are moving on) is in constant movement. It’s geometric, fast, and like a lot of this game beautiful yet not. Saying it’s not beautiful is not an insult though, it’s exactly what the game needs. Something like this stands out as unique because it’s not a perfectly lovely game, instead it’s equal parts beautiful, ugly, relaxing, stressful, and because of this phenomenally artistic style.

My biggest, and arguably only compliant is the soundtrack. The music that is present is beautiful, but it’s not there enough. Whole sections of the game will be silent, and the music often takes far too long to build and then passes quickly. I can understand the choice to do this, to an extent. However I feel the game suffers for it rather than shines. I really feel gameplay would have reached another level had the music been more present, and I am disappointed it was not.

Bottomline:

This game is a unique and wonderful experience. It is short, but can be played multiple times without getting repetitive. It can be difficult at times with the more jarring aspects, but something about the combination of that difficulty with the beauty of it makes it more appealing. If you like more artistic games you need to play this. If you are on the fence, I would highly suggest giving it a go.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Abzu

Abzu is a unique journey brought to us by Giant Squid Studios. Giant Squid was founded by Matt Nava who was the art director for Flower and Journey, so he a has proven himself before with unique indie games. Little was known about the game before it’s release other than it was an underwater adventure of sorts. The game is finally out and it’s, well hard to put into words exactly.

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Abzu starts with your character floating on the surface of the ocean. You are told to dive and little else. From there you guide your character through various chapters representing some of the different biomes of the ocean, as well as wholly unique areas. How to play, what your objectives are, and what the story is is never plainly stated. You move forward, follow the clues in the way each of the areas are developed and laid out, and the rest is up to you. It’s a simplistic game, but that’s hardly a flaw. The beauty of an experience like this lays in it’s simplicity. You can’t die, objectives are not difficult, instead of focusing on those aspects of gameplay it allows gamers to just experience. The game is peaceful, ethereal, and a delight for people that love the ocean and marine life.

Controls are solid. Water levels are notorious for being difficult to control in other games. Abzu separates itself solidly from that reputation with very tight and smooth controls. I only found myself struggling with the awkwardness of being underwater one or two times, and they were likely more my fault than the game itself. It may not seem that important, but the reality is it could make or break this game. If swimming was a struggle (as it can be in games) then it would have seriously harmed the overall experience.

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The art design is amazing. While everything has a rather artistic touch there was great care in making the marine animals look at least partially realistic. They aren’t ripped out of the pages of a science text book, but there was important attention to detail to help them reflect the actual animals, while still fitting into the setting. The environment itself varies. Some are more reflective of our oceans, just with a more imaginative touch. Other areas step away from that realism even more and go straight into a dream like place. The music blends in perfectly, it’s very poetic and drives the momentum.

Frankly it’s hard to really describe the game, as it’s meant to be experienced. It is something that you can easily get lost in. If I were to complain I would say it’s a little short, and a little too guided at times. That being said it is something that you could repeat, and revisiting chapters to see what you might have missed is worth it.

Bottomline:

If you like more artistic games, this is for you. It’s a game that focuses more on the experience than actually being a game. It’s compelling and lovely. If you like your games with a bit more meat you might want to wait for it to go on sale.

Impressions, Video Games

Riders of Icarus Closed Beta 3 Review

Some small gameplay spoilers may be revealed through screenshots. Please note that Riders of Icarus was in closed beta 3 at the time of this review and the game is not finalised.

Neat character design? Yup. Dragons? Yup. Aerial combat? Yup. Welcome to Riders of Icarus, an upcoming massively-multiplayer-online rpg (MMORPG) that is currently in it’s third and final closed beta test. Icarus was developed by WeMade Entertainment, the creators of The Legend of Mir series, and published by Nexon, a purveyor of free to play online games.

Icarus caught my eye about a month ago when my cousin linked it to me via Steam. I am a huge mount/cosmetic collector in almost any game that allows it, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of mounted combat – something that is never really offered by any game, and certainly never fleshed out very well. After watching the introductory video, I was convinced that this was a game I’d need to try out, and I picked up a Founder’s Pack and waited.

On June 3rd 2016, Icarus released beta keys for it’s third and final closed beta before open beta begins. After installing (yet another) launcher, I had the game downloading – around 10gb – and was ready to play.

Icarus doesn’t break the mould where MMOs are concerned. There are 6 classes, none of which travel very far from tradition, and while character creation is more detailed than some, you don’t dive into every little nuance as you would in a game such as Elder Scrolls OnlineUpon finished your character, you are offered one of two types of fighting style (this is able to be changed later on) – a more traditional target ‘n’ cast MMO style and a more fluid melee combat, action style. It is recommended by the game that those playing casters stick to tradition, while those playing more up-in-your-face melee may prefer the second option. I chose standard, since it is what I am used to.

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The game starts you in a short tutorial in which the basics are covered – this is how you loot, this is how you interact with others, this is how combat works, and so in. It introduces mounts and flying at the end – a small taste of what is come, and something that I found to be pretty enticing. After all, one of Icarus’ main selling points is the ability to fight while mounted.

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Icarus‘ storyline is introduced quickly, being set up from the tutorial. You’re given a main objective to work toward, with typical side quests thrown in. While these are, kill x of these, collect x of this, the numbers are quite small and the quests reward enough experience that it doesn’t make it seems like an endless grind of rinse, repeat. I delighted in the side quests that allowed for interaction with mounts, taming and flying, and these are not as few and far between as I would have thought.

While I did not managed to level enough to unlock mounted combat, I did earn my first flying mount (due to the teaser “daily rewards” system that was implemented, presumably to encourage the purchase of Founder’s Packs), and while it was fun to fly, the game from the sky seemed very flat and empty. There was a lack of texture throughout the world, and while this could become apparent from the ground, it was far worse from the sky.

Overall, Riders of Icarus provides the same MMO experience that you would be used to, introducing a fresh perspective from the point of taming and collecting your mounts and companions. While the graphics are polished, they are, at times, disappointingly low-res. Once the game comes into open beta, and finally, release, I am excited to explore the world more and get experience in combat and max-level content.

-Tenneiyl

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Impressions, Video Games

Overwatch – First Impressions

… from a person who doesn’t player FPS games.

This review is for the PC version of the game. Tenneiyl can’t comment on the console version performance.

Blizzard Entertainment has made games that have defined most of my gaming career. I’ve been involved with Warcraft since a young age, beeng playing Diablo 3 excessively since it’s release and have played Heroes of the Storm from a casual player standpoint. When Overwatch was announced I was a little sad – it’s certainly not my kind of game. Shooters and I have a history of bad relationships and I’ve never been able to get into them.

I gave it a try anyway.

There were two open beta weekends where the game was stress-tested and in the second one, I finally decided I’d give it a go. I’d seen the hype, I’d watched the little icon appear on my battle.net launcher and so there really wasn’t another choice. Frankly, I was pretty astonished. I pre-purchased the game, and waited for a chance to play again.

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The final product was highly polished, and the launch night went without too many hiccups. I was impressed with how short of time it took for me to go from “entering game” to “finding a match”. The initial tutorial is short, simple and lets you take as much or as little time you feel you need. The graphics are bright, clean and show an attention to detail in level design and character design. This is a world I want to spend time in and explore. It’s realistic enough that I don’t feel like I’ve severed ties with reality, but in the same vein, the futuristic aspects of the Overwatch universe lend to it a quality that makes me want to learn more and know more.

Gameplay is where I felt the game excelled. Coming from a background of RTS and RPG games, shooters are absolutely not my thing. I can’t aim, I’ve got terrible reaction times and I am generally a sitting duck for my enemy. Overwatch did something different here: there’s unlimited ammo so there’s no need to feel hindered by your lack of shots – you just keep shooting. There are healers, there are specialists, heroes that excel at being timed precisely, and heroes that you can just aim, hold the mouse button and hope for the best. It’s fun, it’s easy to learn and Blizzard helps you out with a shortcut hotkey to remind you of all the things your character can do – since it’s unique to every other hero in the game.

It is through this level of accessibility that I think Overwatch will really flourish. It’s the perfect combination of low skill floor/high skill ceiling with short matches and an intuitive display of your end of game stats, with the option to earn Play of the Game and/or have your teammates and enemies vote for various aspects of the game’s play and the people who made that happen. Loot crates are earned upon leveling but can also be purchased through the in-game shop. These are filled to the brim with cosmetic items – skins, hero emotes, different animations that will play at the end of the game if your team is the winner. From the perspective of a person who just loves to collect things, this goes a long way into making sure I keep coming back and earning all of the neat skins that are available to preview.

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Overwatch is a polished game with a lot of sparkle and an easy to pick up mentality. It’s quick game time and multiple game modes leads you to say “just one more” until it’s 4am and you realise that tomorrow is Monday.

-Tenneiyl

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: DOOM

2004’s DOOM 3 was a major disappointment to many gamers, and actually considered the death of the then popular franchise. However id Software is back, this time with a new publisher (Bethesda) to try to breath some life back into the game. But after so long, can the franchise really be saved?

Story:

It is fair to say that story is not the top priority for DOOM. There is an interesting enough of a story, to help give the gamers a reason to go from point a to point b. You play as an unnamed character who works for the Union Aerospace Corporation. UAC has been using a portal to hell in order to solve an energy crisis on Earth. A scientist goes a bit mad, releases a lot of demons on the UAC killing most of the people there. At first you are chasing her down as she attempts to open a major portal, you fail however. From there you bounce back and forth between Mars and Hell trying to close the portal.

Impressions:

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DOOM goes away from DOOM 3’s more slow paced survival horror, and back to being a very fast paced first person shooter. Bethesda and id Software made no secret of the fact that they wanted this game to be a throw back to DOOM and DOOM 2. The game throws a lot of enemies at the player, demanding them to move quickly, and fight wave after wave of enemies. You are given a variety of weapons to handle this, almost entirely based on weapons from the original games. There are a wide range of different weapons, and each one can be upgrade. This allows players to truly find their own way to fight and handle the enemies. Experimentation is the key when it comes to tight spots.

It’s twitch shooter to the extreme, and frankly enjoyable at that. It’s unfortunate then, that it shoots itself in the foot. If you aren’t involved in fast paced fights with many enemies you are then slowly platforming around. I have ranted in the past about my dislike for platforming and jumping areas in first person shooters, and DOOM is no exception. Unless the game is specifically designed with this type of gameplay in mind (Mirror’s Edge) these areas just don’t belong in the first person perspective. Aside from it being difficult, it is equally disappointing because it stops action. I do understand that the entirety of DOOM can not be super fast paced with wave after wave of enemies. However there is a bit of a disconnect from going from a lot of action to absolutely no action while doing some tricky jumping bit. It doesn’t flow correctly and throws off the pacing a bit.

However the game does manage to honor the originals and take a lot from them. There are a lot of extra areas, and upgrades to be found in the world of DOOM. Some have complained because DOOM and DOOM 2 were more straight forward, I argue those people must have not played the original games in awhile. For it’s time DOOM and DOOM 2 were actually fairly large maps, with a number of hidden areas to find. This version of DOOM manages to bring that general idea to the new generation, and does so well. You can get through the game doing the bare minimum, but you will miss a lot in doing so.

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As above I mentioned weapons being inspired by the original game, the same goes for enemies. There is a new coat of paint on everything, but it’s easy enough to tie them back to the enemies from the older game. AI could be polished, while AI is not horrible they can get stuck on their paths which can mean that certain enemies never fully feel like they are involved in the fight. However in areas with more enemies coming at you than you feel like you can properly react to this can be considered a good thing almost.

The sound track is loud and in your face, much like the fights. It fits perfectly and adds to the heart rate increasing experience. Some enemies sound very unique, but others seem a bit copy and pasted from each other. A little more polish on sound would not have gone amiss.

Multiplayer is probably my biggest disappointment with this game. It’s not bad, and will offer some form of entertainment. Warpath and Freeze Tag are also two pretty unique game types. However this game cries out for a more simplistic approach to multiplayer. Like all modern shooters it now has a ranking system with unlocks, and it’s disappointing. Going back to a Halo 3 style where ranks only helped balance matches, but weapons, upgrades, etc were part of the maps is exactly what this game needed. I am extremely let down that it seems that no development team understands the value of that format, and it would have worked so perfectly with a game that is attempting to reboot an older series. That’s not to say there is no fun to be had with multiplayer, but it’s not winning the game any major points.

Bottomline:

DOOM is not great. It needs tweaks to pacing, and multiplayer is too much of an after thought/let down. However DOOM is entertaining, solid, and frankly fun. The game is very close to being something more, but ends up just being good. I feel like it could really breath some life back into the franchise, and it does set up a sequel. With some more attention paid to certain aspects, the sequel could actually be a great game, for now I will enjoy my good one.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain is point and click adventure game, inspired by the genre from the 90s. It attempts to connect with point and click games from the time by actually setting the game in the 90s, making sure that the plots, settings, and puzzle solving, stays in line with older point and clicks. This genre has gotten a resurgence, especially for indie games, so how does Kathy Rain stack up?

Story:

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Kathy is an apathetic journalism student who finds out about the death of her estranged grandfather. She decides to go to the funeral, and in the process reconnects with her grandmother. What she uncovers is unexpected, her grandfather was in a mysterious accident, and in a vegetative state for years. Kathy begins to investigate his death, and in the process discovers a conspiracy, involving a cult, and many other people in the small town she once called home.

Impressions:

Kathy Rain does a great job of honoring old school point and click games, while still feeling like something fresh and unique. A lot of it has to do with the great work spent with writing, characters, and voice acting. Kathy herself is an interesting character. She is a tough, and clearly troubled, young woman. Digging deeper though she is also very caring and passionate when she finds the right thing. Surrounding her are a number of unique, and compelling characters. Everyone, even the most background of characters, have their own personality points. It really helps to sell the overall experience. My biggest issue with the title character is the “not like other girls” complex that is given to her.

Voice acting is on point. Every person does an amazing job. All voices are unique, and the only “stiff” performance given was clearly meant to be. On top of that the soundtrack is wonderful. All the songs are well done, and it’s a treat to listen to. Point and click games can take a long time, as such you can occasionally get sick of the music. That never happened with Kathy Rain.

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The story itself is intriguing, though goes a little further towards the supernatural than I would have personally liked. It starts as a seemingly simple investigation, but as each clue is revealed yet another piece of what ends up being a rather massive puzzle is given to us. As time goes on I found myself completely blown away by how complex the story was, yet how interconnected everything seemed to be. As each day passes (there are a total of 5) the game pushes into the supernatural more and more. I would have liked to see the case more grounded in reality, but that is personal preference. The story is fleshed out, and remains entertaining all the way. So despite what I might have wanted to see, I can hardly complain about what I got. There was one part of the story that greatly bothered me however, and you can see that complaint below (it is tagged for spoilers).

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The gameplay itself is solid. There are not the standard “push, pull, etc” that you see with most point and click games. I actually really liked this, because the game play is boiled down to the basics. You interact with what you can, and can combine things in your inventory. Otherwise pretty much everything comes down to the basic ‘you point, you click’. The game instead focuses on having a wide range of puzzles with these simplified controls. Some include finding number combinations, you have to put together a fake voice message in order to call and fool someone into giving you information, you even at one point help a computer hacker. The variety of puzzles is nice, you never really feel like you are repeating anything. The biggest issue is the difficulty difference between them. Some puzzles are easy, almost too easy, while others can be extremely frustrating. It remains entertaining overall, and one of the more enjoyable point and click games new or old.

Overall

I do have a few complaints, but other than one major issue those complaints are few and far between. The game is entertaining, both gameplay and story. Point and click fans will enjoy how it honors the old, but still remains new. People new to the genre will not go wrong being introduced this way. I am extremely hopeful that the implied follow up happens.

SPOILER and WARNING

I do have to complain about one point though. The issue of abortion is brought up, and frankly mishandled in my opinion. With such a sensitive issue there needs to be great care in how it’s dealt with. The implied guilt, as well as the actual depiction of a child were problematic to me. The ending of how it’s dealt with I was fine with. I feel subjects like this are about more than just a conclusion, but are a sum of their parts. In the end it was handled well enough that it didn’t ruin the experience for me, but I would have preferred it be left out.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Ratchet and Clank (2016)

Releasing along side of the Ratchet and Clank movie, Ratchet and Clank is referred to as a re-imagining of the PS2 hit. Can this really be any more than just a remake/reboot? Or does Ratchet and Clank manage to find a new home on the PS4.

Story:

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Much like the PS2 version of the game, this story follows Ratchet, a lombax, and the robot he ends up finding and saving, Clank. The two team up with Qwark’s Galactic Rangers in order to stop Chairman Drek and Dr Nefarious from destroying various planets around the galaxy. It’s a combination of the original plot from the 2002 Ratchet and Clank, but brings in characters and plot lines from the later games, to create a new rebooted story.

Impressions:

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Gameplay is what you know and love from the series. It brings in a combination of platforming features, with a lot of action and guns. The game is fast paced, and is always bringing something new. Ratchet collects various weapons and gadgets in order to help with gameplay. They range from a gun that turns enemies into sheep or one that distracts all enemies with the power of disco, to more standard weapons like grenades. It’s this blend of what we are used to and totally quirky things, that helped to make Ratchet and Clank such a beloved hit in the first place.

Weapons can be upgraded by using them, and then investing points to upgrade trees. Maxing out a weapon makes them more powerful, ammo last longer, and will add other special features. This is nice because it encourages using a blend of weapons, instead of just sticking with one or two favorites. There are still gold bolts to collect, and now cards. Each card comes in a set and unlocking a full set gives bonuses to weapon upgrades, how many bolts you earn, and other various helpful things.

Ratchet and Clank also brings back challenge mode. When you complete the game you can start what is basically new game+ you retain your weapon levels, and play the game again on a more challenging difficulty. The difficulty is ramped up a bit. While you can still choose to play challenge mode in say, easy difficulty, there is a jump up. Easy on challenge, is more like normal.

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Most of the levels are from the original game, but have been updated for the new hardware. They look very similar, and have similar missions, but the new coat of paint serves the game well. It’s a great blend of “wow I remember this place” but with new technology.

The story is a little disappointing. While on the one hand it’s nice that Ratchet is no longer the reluctant hero (and no longer rude to Clank), it also feels a bit lacking. Ratchet’s character doesn’t really need to develop, and there is no real development in his relationship with Clank. While it bothered a lot of people that he could be so mean in the original game, what’s left is just lacking.

Overall though this is a great update. It does work as a re-imagining. Neither exactly a reboot, or a remake, but something rather unique. There is a great blend of nostalgia to be had, but new things as well.

Bottomline:

This isn’t something I would call my game of the year, but it’s darn entertaining. It’s fun, silly, challenging, and enjoyable from start to finish. The story takes a bit of a beating in the update, but otherwise this game is pretty much wonderful. Fans of the PlayStation 2 game will find a lot to love, and new fans can enjoy this as an introduction to the series.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: The Descendant Episode One

The Descendant is an episodic game by Gaming Corps AB. It follows the Telltale formula, of point and click adventure meets QTEs. Now that the first episode is out, what did we think? And our we excited for episode 2?

Story:

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The Descendant is really two stories. Set in the future, a hand full of people are chosen and put in cryogenic stasis in a number of underground vaults. One story follows a woman who’s job it is to watch over The Descendants in one vault, until such time that they can be woken. Story number two follows a man who is sent to the vault many centuries down the road, to discover it’s fate. The story switches back and forth between the two, giving gamers only small amounts of information at a time. By the end of the episode there are more questions than answers.

Impressions:

The Descendant has a solid idea. The two different stories present something rather compelling. You know something has gone horribly wrong, but you are only given so much information at a time. It makes you very curious to see what exactly happened, and what the fallout really is. However the execution doesn’t exactly live up to expectations.

Overall the episode felt very stiff and incomplete. Yes I realize it’s an episodic adventure, so there will be some level of it being unfinished. However, the game feels more like half an episode rather than a full one. It’s very short, easily finished in a quick sitting, with almost nothing given. Throughout the game you will have to solve one problem, otherwise gameplay consists mostly of walking forward.

The foundation of the story is so interesting, but nothing is really built on it. The intro to the game is short and rushed. Character development and conversations are non existent and even the world you are in can’t really be explored. It’s a very linear game, which doesn’t really fit in with the point and click style it’s attempting to achieve. I found myself just wanting more, anything more really. Instead I felt like I played the set up to a set up.

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The stiffness comes in animation and voice acting. Nothing really seemed to pull together or feel fluid. Conversations were choppy, and wooden. Character movements feel very slow, and not exactly natural. It’s not horrible, it’s just not good. Looking at the animation detracts from the actual interesting art style that manages to come through in backgrounds. Audio being edited the way it is, undermines what is solid enough voice acting.

The one area in which the game really surprised me, was that you could fail at the one major task given. It is bad that there is really only one task in the game, but interesting that no succeeding at it is an option. Failure to complete this task makes you directly responsible for the death of at least a few of The Descendants. At the end of the game you are confronted with this, and the game shows you a short animation declaring that failure to do x resulted in the death of the following people. Failure actually being part of the game is really interesting. However you can’t have multiple saves, so there is no way to carry over and see the difference in episode 2 based on success or failure.

In spite of my overall disappointment I find myself still very excited to look at the rest of the game. I really do want to know what has happened in this underground vault. That’s what makes it so sad though. With a plot line that can grab gamers, it’s sad that gameplay detracts so much from it.

Bottomline:

Episode 1 is not bad, but it is disappointing. The most positive thing I could say is that it’s a sub par set up to something that has potential. The game has a lot of work to do to live up to the groundwork they have, though if this is a model of what’s to come we are working up to a very forgettable, average, game.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Day of the Tentacle Remastered

Day of the Tentacle first released in 1993, and was the follow up to Maniac Mansion. It is largely considered the better of the two games, and has remained popular over the years since it’s release. The game has been remastered and re-released. Tim Schafer is no stranger to this process, having already done it with a number of his other adventure hits from when he was with Lucas Arts. However it has been over twenty years, so how has the game aged?

Story:

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Day of the Tentacle is set five years after the events of Maniac Mansion. While there are a number of characters in both games, and the events of the first are mentioned, it’s not entirely necessary to actually have played both games. Most of what is absolutely needed to know is explained at some point during the game. The game opens with Green and Purple Tentacle come across a river of sludge. Purple drinks it. Doing so gives him the ability to grow arms, and the desire to take over the world. Green warns Bernard about this and he and his two friends return to the mansion to see if they can help. In order to stop Purple they attempt to go one day in the past. However they all end up in different points in time, and mania ensues.

Impressions:

The difficulty with giving impressions for a remastered version of a game is that you have to speak to two different levels. Gamers who never played the original, and gamers that have. Does this game stand on it’s own? And is it a good retelling?

Separating out the two elements would probably be best. Looking at Day of the Tentacle from a new perspective, it’s a relatively solid point and click adventure game. The story is zany, the characters unique, and the gameplay solid. You switch between the three leads as they each explore their own point in time. Gamers are challenged to solve puzzles that stretch across all three characters. For instance in order for Laverne to move freely in the future she has to get help from Hoagie in the past. Hoagie in order to offer his step might need something from Bernard in the present. What you end up with is rather interesting puzzles that take you a bit away from the standard point and click gameplay.

The problem is there is no hint system in this game. It is something I have ranted about before, and I will do so again. Point and click adventure games are not nearly as popular as they used to be. People picking up this game might actually experience their first point and click adventure ever. This creates a problem, because many people won’t understand what steps to take in order to figure out what you are supposed to be doing, and then do it. The lack of guidance will probably frustrate a lot of newer players, if not completely chase them off. However, those that stick around will be pleased at what they find here. The game is entertaining, challenging without being over the top, and compelling from start to finish.

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The next question is how does this compare for people that do already know the game? The answer in short is it’s great. Tim Schafer has now been involved in “special editions” for a number of his games, doing it slightly differently each time. Day of the Tentacle keeps all of it’s original charm. The animation style remains totally intact, just with a much needed fresh coat of paint. Backgrounds were updated adding movement, texture, and more detail. Audio is also given some polish, making it smoother. What remains is a game that very much feels like you are playing the 1993 version, without having to be punished by the graphics and audio available at the time.

It’s actually really a great update. The problem with Secret of Monkey Island is the updates changed the game too much, Day of the Tentacle rises to that challenge, keeping it’s classic feel. Even returning gamers might be annoyed by the lack of hint system though. On the one hand it does give the experience more authenticity. On the other, no one would have been hurt by adding it so why not?

The humor is still great, some of the jokes might have suffered a little with age. Overall though the game will still give people some giggles, and it’s safe to say it retains it’s uniqueness well. There are also extras in the game including concept art, and commentary.

Bottomline:

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The game is fun. Despite my complaints about the hint system I would still highly recommend this. It’s aesthetically pleasing, and massively entertaining. It has nostalgia for people that miss the Lucas Arts games of the past, but enough updates to bring in new gamers as well. If you like adventure games, humor, and stories that stand out as being singular then there’s no reason to pass this game by.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: D4- Dark Dreams Don’t Die

D4 is an “adventure” game from Access Games. I put “”s around adventure because it’s a bit of a unique experience. The game is series of episodes that rely on finding clues, solving puzzles, and a series of QTEs. It’s a bit hard to compare it to one game, or genre of game.

Story:

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D4 follows David Young, who is a private investigator. He is very talented at his job, due to his ability to travel through time. Being able to do so allows him to influence and solve crimes. However he got this ability on the night that his wife was murdered, and David himself can remember nothing from that night. David is asked to help solve a case for a liaison from the police department. In doing so the new case starts to connect with his wife’s murder, driving David. It is worth noting story wise that D4 was never meant to be a stand alone game, so the story is not complete by the time you finish it.

Impressions:

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D4 was designed for the kinect, which kind of turned me off of the experience. However the game is easily played without the kinect, and the controls work well. They aren’t as tight as they could be, but you won’t be punished for choosing to just sit down and play. That is a major thing in favor of this game. Most of the gameplay involves you using David to find clues, or complete QTEs. Clue finding works the way any other game like this would. You look around the area, collect various things, and you have a special vision to help if for whatever reason you can’t solve things yourselves. QTEs will come up when fights happen, or David has to get through a tight spot.

While looking for clues to solve cases, you meet various other characters. Most of them have side quests for you, some will want you to solve puzzles, others answer questions. The most unique aspect of gameplay is David’s ability to dive in and out of time. Some cases actually require it. You will be asked to search for something and have to dive to another time period, then go back. It’s a pretty interesting idea, that is sadly not used enough in game.

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Gameplay aside, what really stands out with this game is just how zany it is. D4 comes with a strange cast of characters, over the top story telling, and many moments that will just leave you speechless. The characters range from a cat woman (like a woman that literally behaves and seems to be a cat), to a riddle telling strange man that follows you around, and a drug taking rage heavy flight attendant. Everyone you meet is just as in your face and over the top as the last. The art is done in cell shading, which works perfectly for the game. The overall graphic look punches up the crazy moments that never seem to leave you alone.

It’s actually really hard to find the words to describe this game. It’s crazy, yet charming. Ridiculous, yet compelling. If nothing else, from start to finish it manages to be entertaining and rather unexpected.

Bottomline:

The largest complaint I have about this game, is that the sequel is likely to never happen. The game ends on a massive cliffhanger, and frankly I want more. It’s short enough that all the craziness never gets to be too much. You can play it easily in one or two sittings, then decompress from it. It’s a solid adventure game, that is unique and interesting. I just wish I could know how it was all meant to end.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a new indie game from developer Eric Barone. It is based on the Harvest Moon series. Like Harvest Moon it borders between a farming simulator game with RPG elements and a bit of a “life simulator”. It has already received a decent amount of hype from the gaming community, so we took a look at it.

Story:

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The story of Stardew Valley unfolds at the pace of the player. While there are some more “scripted” events, for the most part how the gamer plays will determine what you unlock and when. You start off as an overworked person, tired of being a cog in the machine. You choose to go to your grandfather’s farm and take it over. As you rebuild your farm, you also meet the people in town. Slowly the story unfolds, allowing you to find out about the people, and the history of the town.

Impressions:

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Stardew Valley is mainly a farming simulator. All the other elements really work together for the farming. Through the game you clean up your farm, attempting to make improvements to the over grown land. Each season allows you to grow different crops and trees. With each passing season you will learn the best time to plant, and improve your farming. Things like fishing, mining, and collecting help to supplement your income, and improve skills. In order to be a better farmer, you will need better tools. That is not to say these elements can be completely ignored, nor are they under developed. While farming may be the main feature, all the others are enjoyable and important. Fishing could probably use better controls, but with time people do get used to it.

The town itself is filled with interesting characters. They are each unique, and while some are more fleshed out than others, no one feels entirely forgettable. Not only that but as you work on making improvements everyone seems to show themselves a little more. There is also the interplay between the town and the big corporation. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on it, and it’s not hard to get sucked into it too.

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Honestly there is nothing entirely new here. Most of the elements have been used in other games. That being said there are a lot of different elements that are combined in this game. Not only that but the game brings a lot of personality with it too. The music and graphics are aesthetically pleasing. While certain elements can be on their own compared to other games, the entire thing coming together the way it does is rather unique. You can say a few parts are like one game, a few parts are like another, but nothing really stands out as having done everything this game manages to do. It’s also insanely addictive, it’s not hard to sit and play the game for hours and hours without realizing you’ve done so.

Bottomline:

Stardew Valley is just a fun game. It might not be your game of the year, nor did it reinvent the wheel. However it’s fresh, entertaining, and has a lot of appeal. Aside from the fishing I find myself unable to complain about anything when playing this game, and even that element can be worked around. If you like simulators this game will likely appeal to you. It’s got a lot to offer and at the end of the day is just plain fun.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is the follow up to the 2014 Garden Warfare. Garden Warfare was a bit of a surprise to many gamers. It took what was a tower defense game, and turned it into a 3rd person shooter and multiplayer experience. In spite of that the game ended up being a hit, and people have been anticipating it’s sequel.

Plot Summary

There is not much to say as far as story, as there isn’t really one. The basic premise is what we’ve seen before with Plants vs Zombies. Zombies are trying to destroy everything, plants some how have the power needed to stop the zombies. It’s silly and wonderful.

Impressions

Garden Warfare 2 proves that companies can actually learn from previous games and improve. Almost everything that gamers asked for after playing Garden Warfare is here. The game is significantly more balanced. One of the biggest problems people had with the previous game, is there was more to do as plants, as such plants tended to level up a lot faster. This game does away with that issue. If you can do it as plants, you can do it as zombies, and vice versa. There are offline quests for both factions, which help you learn the characters, and allow you to level on your own. Garden ops makes it’s return, as does graveyard ops (essentially the same but for zombies).

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In addition to the factions being balanced, the leveling process has been stream lined. Instead of leveling being determined by preset (virtually un-skippable quests), it is now a balance between xp for using characters, and quests. Quests do make a come back, but you are no longer forced to take them on, nor are you stuck if you can’t beat one, just drop it and move on. That being said, leveling will take a lot longer because instead of classes leveling each and every single character has their own level. That means each peashooter has to be leveled, each scientist, each chomper, etc. While leveling itself is now easier there is a fair amount of tedium that will go into leveling each character, and most likely many characters will be forgotten by a number of gamers.

Multiplayer game types have a good range. Most of the past game types made their return, the only missing was the Taco game, but it was basically the same as Gnome Bomb so it’s not really missed. Turf takeover replaces Garden and Graveyards, but is improved over the other, so it’s a welcome replacement.

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There is really only two things that bothered me with this game. 1) Server issues. This is to be expected, but I don’t think it should be. I feel is companies are going to do online games then getting their servers in working order for launch should be top priority. 2) Imbalance in matches. There seems to be no set formula for who gets matched with whom, so my first match out I was matched with people that had clearly been grinding the game and were already rank 50 or above. Rank system in multiplayer games can be good, but it can also present an unnecessary challenge to lower ranked gamers.

Bottomline

Honestly I have to say the game is pretty much exactly what I wanted. Missing elements from the first Garden Warfare were added. The new classes and game types are fun and entertaining. There is so little to be upset about here. If you are going to make a sequel, if you put this much effort into improving on the first game then you should be solid.

Impressions, Video Games

Deathtrap Impressions

Previously published on geekspective.net, a no longer active site, written by Megan E. Pearson

For tower defense fans, Deathtrap is a new game that combines Tower Defense with Action RPG elements. You play one of three heroes that must work through various stages, building traps in order to protect your portal. It plays like a fairly standard tower defense game in that sense. You can see the path that the waves of enemies will go across to get to your portal, and build up your defenses along that path. There are multiple different types of traps, from ground traps, support towers, normal towers, and even traps that summon various things to help fight. Traps can also be upgraded. All of this is pretty standard fare for tower defense games.

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In addition to traps protecting the area you also have a hero character that can attack and fight with the traps to help with defense, this helps to set it apart from some Tower Defense Games (though it’s not the first to use this). Your character levels up, can get new equipment, and really plays like an action RPG character. There are three classes and they each have unique powers and play style. There is no real advantage or disadvantage to the characters so it’s really up to the play style of each person. There is also co-op that allows players to go through each of the levels with friends.

In addition to co-op there is also a versus mode that unlocks when you get a character to level 10. People can also create their own maps for people to download. As with all games the multiplayer aspects are hit or miss. Some of the user created maps can feel mislabeled, or be rather boring. Versus others that can be fun or frustrating depending on who you play with. However hit or miss it might be, it is nice to have these aspects.

The soundtrack is very nice for the game, and voice overs are also solid. The game has a fantasy setting, and while not overly detailed because of the top down view it does look nice. The story is fairly standard, nothing too exciting, but it’s not really the focus of the game. The game is more about the gameplay, either soloing through the map or experiencing it with friends.

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Overall Deathtrap is a solid tower defense game. It includes a lot of what is already in other games, but does a good job with these aspects. It’s enjoyable and has re-playability with the different characters and different difficulties for each of the map areas. If you don’t like Tower Defense games this probably won’t convert you, but the inclusion of the character does add some fun and makes it more approachable for new comers to the genre. If you are already a fan of the genre this is a solid game that you can enjoy and add to your library of games.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Decay: The Mare

Decay: The Mare is an episodic point and click horror game. Each episode is meant to be played in roughly an hour challenging gamers to solve a number of puzzles. The challenges of the game vary from simple gathering, to mazes, to tracking down multiple clues. It’s challenging, atmospheric, and scary.

Plot Summary:

Part of what makes this game so interesting is how the plot reveals itself as you play. In other words to give too much of a plot summary would completely destroy the experience. The general idea of the game is that you play Sam, who goes to Reaching Dreams because he is an addict. However not long after he gets there he realizes this is no normal hospital, and his dreams begin to get twisted. What is wrong with the hospital, Sam, and everyone else there reveals itself over the course of the episodes.

Impressions:

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Decay: The Mare is a point and click game, that is a call back to older computer games. Controls are simple, and straight forward, the core of the gameplay depends on the puzzles and gathering clues as opposed to more action based gameplay. This works well for the atmosphere the game is attempting to cultivate. There is a sense of dread as every time you progress the world only seems to get more messed up, yet you are forced to push yourself forward. The game exists in a really good space of challenging without being overly frustrating. The puzzles themselves take time to figure out, but you shouldn’t be stuck for too long. There is a pretty impressive hint system that will range from small hints, to walking you through parts of the game to help those that get lost. It’s refreshing as some point and click games can get overly frustrating, this game gives enough help without taking away the challenge.

What this game really shines at though is atmosphere. The setting is very creepy, and despite each game having small locations the developers did a lot with them. Little details are added to each space to help create a scary environment. Every room you walk into has something that you will dread coming into contact with. Not only that but there are enemies chasing you through the game, each window, painting, door, etc could have a jump scare waiting behind it at any given moment. Now many people might think that jump scares aren’t really scary, however this game combines them with a strong suspense and a truly terrifying atmosphere. It keeps you on edge from start to finish. The soundtrack is wonderful, with one of the most haunting title scores I’ve ever heard. The detail put into this game is what makes it shine so much.

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It’s this aspect of the game that makes it truly stand out to me. No it’s not a long game, nor does it have the most up to date graphics (in fact it looks very much like a call back to older horror pc games), but there is so much effort into making the product not feel limited. Focusing on an oppressive atmosphere and a few truly creepy and terrifying moment serves the game well, and will spark fear in the gamer.

In addition to the effort put into the atmosphere, there is a lot put into the story. The story is confusing to say the least. You are given just enough to keep your curiosity alive, but not so much that the mystery dies. The story has excellent pacing and is extremely well written. It’s worth driving forward and dealing with the fear in order to unlock the pieces of this puzzle.

Bottomline

The game is not perfect but it’s really enjoyable. Good story, amazing atmosphere, and solid gameplay. It’s a nice indie horror game that balances jump scares with suspense, and well worth checking out.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: The Park

The Park is a spin off of the Secret World. Set in Atlantic Island Park, an amusement park that has been closed down. It’s a short horror game, that requires players to reach certain checkpoints to continue and advance the story. (see micro horror as talked about in My Bones).

A WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Plot Summary:

Lorraine is looking for her son in an abandoned, overgrown amusement park. As she looks for him she reveals more of her troubled past, her lost lover (the father of her son), and her own issues dealing with being a mother. There are also notes scattered about explaining that the park is tied to some supernatural occurrences.

Impressions:

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The first thing I feel I have to say about this game is that it’s short. The game can easily be beaten in an hour and a half, maybe even faster for some people. With a ten dollar price tag (on sale) I would be pretty hard pressed to be satisfied with that little gameplay. I know that there is something important to “quality over quantity”, but for ten dollars and 2 hours, I would expect something mind blowing. The Park is not mind blowing.

The setting itself is creepy, but is very small and lacks in details. Each area gives you a few things to discover to help you complete the story of both The Park and Lorraine. The back story to the park is not fully fleshed out. The Park is supposedly connected to some power, and somehow drove one of the workers to be a killer. Both of these plot lines are rushed and not fleshed out. Moments where the evils in the park seem to be interacting with Lorraine are more confusing than anything else because of the lack of information given.

Lorraine’s story is the main focus of the game. The pacing for her story is completely off though. She goes from extremely concerned about her child to clearly angry to ever have been a mother. You get clues that something terrible happened with her father, but it’s just thrown in and does not stand on it’s own. You aren’t given full details on Lorraine’s own fall, just that she was suffering from various experiences, got EXTREME therapy for it, was fine, then not.

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By the time the story ended I felt pretty disappointed. The story doesn’t feel like it has these holes to make it more mysterious, it feels like it has these holes because it’s not a complete story. Details of Lorraine’s life are left vague, and then casually thrown in then forgotten.

I know it sounds like I am being negative about the game. It’s not a horrible experience. The story, for all it’s lacking, is interesting enough. The setting is very terrifying with great graphics and lightening to support it. The game offers a few well placed scares. There is fun to be had here.

The problem is what’s missing stands out all the more because there is so little. If you have a game that is only 2 hours long everything that’s lacking becomes more apparent. What’s lacking in this game is a fully fleshed out experience.

Bottomline:

I wanted to be happier with this game, but in the end I felt I was overcharged for something incomplete. With just a little more detail added here and there, and better pacing the game could have really been something great. Instead I am stuck feeling that it was just ok.