Author Topic: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread  (Read 88786 times)

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #510 on: July 09, 2018, 09:41:22 AM »
I’ve never really played many hidden object games before, but I got this for cheap and was intrigued in the story, so I thought I’d give Melissa K. and the Heart of Gold a whirl. Full disclosure: I did choose the easiest difficulty level, so that I wouldn’t get stuck needlessly in some challenge.

The story is one of the strongest elements of the game, immersing you in 1947 Thailand, and an interesting plot involving a young monk that you have come to tutor. You serve as the main protagonist Melissa K. Young – an up-and-coming archaeologist (in the vein of Indiana Jones, complete with the fedora!), so your skills will come in handy with all the puzzles you will face. The story eventually comes to fruition as part of a larger scheme involving reincarnation of some bad folk, as well as reacquaints you with Melissa’s former professor (and love interest?).

I liked the mix of actual puzzles and “find-the-object” challenges, because things were always fresh. However, you require a good memory of how and where certain objects may be used, as you’ll be doing a lot of backtracking.

Most importantly, the game offers a hint system on where to go next, and points out specific objects within challenges. Since I was new to this type of game, I really appreciated it.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this game and could recommend it for an afternoon session. 7.6 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #511 on: July 16, 2018, 11:39:03 AM »
I prefer my driving games more “arcade-y” than realistic – nothing sucks more than trying to drive around and getting your fender caught on some railing, or spinning out when you’re trying to turn. So, I’m pleased that F1 2015 offers both options to play. Arcade-like for knuckleheads like me, and realistic for true racing enthusiasts.

F1 is more challenging than other driving games I’ve played in that you have lots of deep turns where you have to drop down to 1st or 2nd gear to make the turn, before opening up the throttle again on a quick straightaway to blast away from the other drivers. Other driving games (such as Trackmania) seem to have more gradual turns that you can take at top speeds. Race locations included real-life tracks as well as cities such as Monaco and Singapore.

For the F1 series, you can take some practice laps for a certain amount of time, after which you get a qualifying run to determine your race position. After that, at least in the Championship Season of 19 races, you race anywhere from 5 to 14 laps. In between, you can tweak your car to maximize your efficiency.

I did play on the “amateur” level, so things were definitely less challenging. The game does have lots of options however. For example, you can turn on “race line” arrows to help you determine what arcs to take as you’re making turns, and how fast you’re approaching. I also chose not to take any practice runs, but to go straight to the qualifying lap. And finally I chose to take just 5 laps, as I’ve had too many times where I’m leading the pack, and then all of a sudden, in race 12 of 15, I screw up, and everyone takes off around me, never to be passed again.

In the end, I took third in the Championship Season, with a number of pole positions and first-place finishes. And the two-person team that beat me were apparently the previous season’s real-life winners, so I was pretty pleased overall. The game does have some other modes, such as a Pro Season without any assistance, and multiplayer (but I’m sure that scene is dead by now).

A little more hectic than most other driving games I’ve played, I still rate F1 2015 as a 7.9 out of 10.

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #512 on: July 23, 2018, 09:38:32 AM »
Sorry, this one will be more of a full review than a mini-review....

After falling in love with the adventure game Dreamfall, and enjoying its follow-up Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, I was eagerly anticipating game developer Funcom’s next adventure The Secret World (TSW) – a journey into the deep dark fears of our subconscious come to life. Unfortunately, in July 2012 the game went on to become a multiplayer proposition, and I generally don’t play well with others, nor want to pay a monthly server fee. TSW attempted to make this model work for several years, but changing dynamics in the marketplace, as well as gamer fatique, caused a decline in the overall player base. The game still had its proponents, but once people stop paying the server expenses, a game is dead in the water, causing many promising multiplayer games to disappear over the past few years.

Rather than giving in and calling it quits, Funcom chose to revamp the game. They retooled the mechanics to be a FREE-to-play RPG model with a stronger emphasis on single-player gaming. And they gave it the new name of Secret World: Legends, which is now available through Steam.

After accruing more than 190 hours (!!!) in finishing up the free content including a partial finale and epilogue, I did like it more than I disliked it, but these are a few things to point out:

1. The game is particularly grind-heavy, but maybe no more so than other RPGs I’ve played such as Kingdoms of Amalur. Basically, you fight a foe (or small group of foes), and then progress 30 feet. Then you come upon another foe (or small group of foes), go 40 feet, ad infinitum. It really is wearying as a player to be constantly under assault and not feel like you have any “safe spaces” to simply just stop and take a breath. Later in the game, you learn how to maneuver at just the right distance from foes so that you don’t engage them, and then it was much easier, and you just play out the story.

2. Battles consist mostly of circle-strafing and walking backwards, although some magical builds finally allow you to one-stop-kill masses of foes. I imagine every experience is different, but I think to play the game most effectively, you probably need to select and stick with two main weapon attributes selected at the start of the game. I initially chose chaotic magic (including flame, ice and lighting attacks) coupled with a sword – what I was hoping to be a mix of distant and up-close attacks. Generally, these worked favorably for my play-through, but after reading up (way, WAY late in my play-through), I learned that the sword attacks weren’t the most effective capability, and the recommendation was to have double-pistol attacks instead. Just for giggles, I switched over, and I honestly felt like my starter Level 1 pistol attacks were as effective, if not more so, than my Level 40 sword attacks! So then I started upgrading pistols.

3. Upgrading your gear is labor-intensive. Probably as part of the free-to-play model, the developer intentionally made this process pretty time-consuming, to urge people to pay a premium to skip it and move ahead. But for each weapon, talisman (basically protective gear like rings, bracelets, etc.), and glyph (used to modify your weapons and talismans), you can “fuse” or stack similar objects on them to upgrade their power level. For example, if you want to upgrade your ring, another ring gives you a higher boost, but you can mix in other talismans like bracelets for a smaller boost. After you hit a certain number, the ring boosts to the next level, which in turn boosts its stats for your protection. Now imagine that the base Level 1 item can be upgraded 20 times after which it maxes out. You can then take ANOTHER same item and upgrade it 20 times, so you currently have two base Level 1 items at 20 upgrade. Now you can fuse those two together to make a single Level 2 item, which upgrades 25 times, so then you go back and upgrade two Level 1 items each to the 20th upgrade, fuse those, and then take that second Level 2 item up to the 25th upgrade. NOW you can fuse those two items to become a Level 3 item, rinse, repeat from the start with four Level 1’s to make two Level 2’s to make one Level 3, upgrade to the max and then fuse both to earn a final Level 4 item. Sheesh….

4. Each “act” of the game could have been a game in their own right. SWL offers three distinct story arcs, and then a final “endgame” arc that ties much of the previous work together, and (at the time I played this) an epilogue. Act 1 features three maps set in New England, and concentrates on the Cthulhu mythos with mer-people, squid-faced people, sasquatch and other “North American” anomalies. This act took the longest, because I was building up my character to Level 50, taking every mission and killing every critter I came against to bump up my points. Act 2 takes you to Egypt across two distinct maps, so you’ll face off against mummies, djinn and large scorpions. Act 3 ends in a Russian-controlled Transylvania, with an obvious emphasis on vampires and werewolves across its three maps. The final endgame map takes place in Tokyo, with lots of robots, ghosts and demons. The epilogue is a relatively short add-on that takes place in South Africa, but since you’re in a compound the whole time rather than in a specific environment, it could honestly be anywhere. And each of the larger maps may contain smaller dungeons that you can travel to during certain missions.

5. Fortunately, the story is dense and the characters you’ll meet are interesting. Basically, any type of story about the unknown will be touched upon throughout the game. You can collect “legends” that will give you lore about what you’re experiencing, or about your destination. You’ll also get voiced missions and cut-scenes that provide a personal perspective on how your actions affect everyday folks. As mentioned, each Act has its own structure and focus, so that by the end levels in Tokyo, it was challenging to unify everything, but they mostly did it.

6. The investigation missions require you to do actual homework! This is a thinking-person’s game (or a cheater’s game, in my case). You will collect missions that actually require you to visit real and fake websites OUTSIDE OF THE GAME to gain information, to learn the length of songs or to find their lyrics, to play old-school text adventures similar to Zork, and many many more options. If you have the time and desire to search out these clues, you’d easily pad your game time by another 20-30 hours. I didn’t have that kind of extra time, so I would jump into the Steam overlay, pop up Google, and type in whatever mission I was on. And some of the answers were HARD!! So I tip my hat to folks who can solve them without the aid of assistance.

7. The graphics are generally very good. SWL has cut-scenes – lots and lots of cut-scenes, that feature your character listening to other characters as they give out a new mission. What I loved is that my character never speaks – just stands and listens stoically and occasionally emits some emotion like surprise. The textures on clothes and faces are sharp, and during gameplay, everything looks good. And for people who like to generate unique characters, I think you’d have thousands of choices to use.

8. The game is single-player, but sometimes it can morph to cross-play. You will see hundreds of other characters dashing around the game, all with their own missions to accomplish. Occasionally, I would tackle a mission at the same time as someone else, and without prompting, we would sort of assist one another. For example, I was following a hurt werewolf, and caught up to another character doing the same. We both would enter a zone where we were attacked, but could assist each other in fending off our attackers. Then, at the end of the game we fought a boss together, and after that they departed their own way. If you truly do want to engage in multi-player content, there are some PvP zones, and also some exclusive dungeons that large groups can tackle.

9. You get your money’s worth (especially if you didn’t pay anything and got it for free like me)!! The only game I’ve ever played longer than SWL is Left for Dead (1 and 2), with a total of not quite 500 hours. Other than those, the longest single-player game I’ve played is Batman Arkham Knight at 85 hours, which I thought was too long at the time. So to spend 190 hours on a single-player game is incredible. And quite honestly – too long for me. The only reason I stuck it out was to see where the story went, so kudos to Funcom for keeping me interested. [Side note: if the original game cost $50 USD plus at least 3 months play time at another $15/month, then Funcom originally was netting around $100 per player. So you're getting a $100 game for free!!]

10. Sadly, there is no “end” to the game. I suppose there sort of was at the end of your Tokyo missions, but then Funcom created a small Epilogue in the South Africa compound that still doesn’t provide complete closure to all your foes and history. After that, you’re supposed to just keep grinding all your weapons into super status, and then you can take on some really hard dungeons in both single- and multi-play. Or just go through the whole game again with all your powers intact (you level out at 50) and wait to see if they release any other content. I suppose that’s fun for some folks, but for me I was already busting at the seams to finish it up.

Overall, Secret World: Legends is a really good game, although overlong in my opinion. The story, locations and characters are all fascinating and definitely worth visiting once. And I don’t know that you’ll ever find such a lengthy single-player game again in our lifetime for absolutely FREE. 8.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #513 on: July 30, 2018, 06:32:54 PM »
I should be the target audience for The Swindle as Thief, Splinter Cell, Hitman, Dishonored, Deus Ex and more robbery and infiltration games all fascinate me. The steam-punk vibe and design aesthetic are really neat. But with a one-hit kill mechanic and a countdown timer requiring you to stash away significant amounts of cash just to get to the end level, the sheer challenge of this game make it impossible to recommend to casual gamers. This may be a 2D game, but it requires a huge amount of strategy and excellent hand-eye coordination to get through it.

For me, I’ve got too many other games calling me to waste my anger on this one. 4 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #514 on: August 06, 2018, 02:23:35 PM »
Overall, Bedlam is not a bad game. It’s not a great game either, but it does try to do something different in the FPS genre.

Based on a book by Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre, the game starts with you as the protagonist showing up in a Quake 2-esque shooter and wondering how you got there. From there, you go on an interesting journey through the proverbial FPS rabbit-hole, with a “greatest hits” approach to the types of environments you’ll encounter. After Quake 2, you enter a rocket arena a la Quake Arena, then Call of Duty, and an Everquest clone. From there, you take a step backwards into the 80s with a 3D version of both Pac-Man and Space Invaders, before emerging into a Company of Heroes tank battle and then finally into a futuristic world akin to Halo. The journey is interesting, and you get tidbits of the backstory along the way, with a full reveal towards the very end.

The game does a good job of name-dropping various titles, as well as using various FPS and game tropes – sometime quite amusingly. It probably could have done a better job of integrating all of these elements, but the final map does deliver all the antagonists from the aforementioned games to try and stop you from the “ultimate boss battle.” You also can find some secrets throughout the map, which also were a mainstay on older games.

My biggest gripe with the game unfortunately was the voice-acting, including your female protagonist. I have no problem that the actors were all Scottish, but the brogue on many of them was near-impossible to discern, and they often spoke so fast that I couldn’t read the on-screen text because I was right in the middle of a firefight. I understand that the author was Scottish and he probably wanted to bring in Scottish actors, but he probably should have used actors with more distinct diction.

Graphically, the game does look similar to maps from the 2000s, so it did accomplish the callback to that era, but that means the visuals suffer from today’s games. I can’t fault it on that point, because it was setting up an homage to the past.

Bedlam had some interesting ideas, and the “big reveal” was handled pretty well. I can recommend this on sale. 6.7 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #515 on: August 13, 2018, 10:52:51 PM »
Attractio is yet another Portal clone but does take strides to differentiate itself through the use of gravity, and the introduction of three separate characters. Unfortunately, it copies the Portal storyline nearly verbatim while also overcompensating with an increasingly complex difficulty factor.

Attractio offers an interesting concept: in a televised “game” a la “The Running Man,” three competitors vie to finish unique gravity-based puzzles in order to win a pardon (for a convicted murderer), new technology (for an earthquake victim’s community), or cold hard cash (for a steel worker). You alternate maps as each of these characters until toward the end, where two of the characters (still played by you) team up to face down the third.

Each map is a distinct Portal-like area, with walls and boxes and buttons to depress until you can exit the map to the next level. You have several unique skills. These include: 1) flipping gravity on the go from up to down (although you can’t walk on side walls), 2) using a “gravity” gun to change the gravity of boxes in any of 6 directions (up, down, forward, back, left, right), and 3) pausing time to grab objects that are moving at a high rate of speed (although this honestly was underused since it also slows you down at the same time). As you can imagine, early levels are relatively easy until you get to the middle of the game, at which point the difficulty ramps up almost unfairly. [I actually gave up around this point, because the intricate maneuvers were way beyond my personal skill level, but I did watch a YouTube video to see how the game ended.]

You gradually come across hidden e-mails that clue you in that something isn’t quite right with both the game, and its sponsoring organization. These moments are punctuated by the game host decrying these terrorists. I won’t go further to save any spoilers, but Attractio definitely follows the Portal model of a dystopian future with someone playing games with the player. I wish we could see something different in this mode to really surprise us again, but not quite sure what would work.

If you like Portal puzzles, are a masochist for really hard and thought-provoking gameplay mechanics, and don’t mind that you’ll figure out the story's ending a mile away, then Attractio might just be attractive to you. 6.1 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #516 on: August 20, 2018, 03:19:19 PM »
Other than some sub-par CGI, you wouldn’t know that Runaway: A Road Adventure is 15 years old. One of Pendulo Studios’ first adventure games, Runaway stands up really well.

The game starts with our protagonist Brian talking direct to the camera about a big adventure he had, after preparing his whole life to go to work at University of Berkeley in California. By circumstance, he comes across a woman running into the street … and that’s where the story begins. The woman in question – Gina – says that she’s escaping from some mobsters and that they will probably try to kill her for an object that her father gave her. She asks for your help, and after the first 15 minutes of cut-scenes, we finally get to play!

Runaway is a typical adventure game where you find objects (sometimes a little hard to discern against the background) to combine or use in some fashion. Most of the time, the objects and their uses make sense, but I did have to fall back on a walkthrough a couple of times when I’d hit a dead end. Additionally, you may have to re-speak to people or re-search areas after certain key situations have been achieved. I generally dislike this, as I’d prefer to have all my answers at once, but I can see why developers use this method.

From New York City, you make your way to the Chicago Museum of Natural History and then to the Southwest – all the while trying to figure out the object in question, and why the mobsters want it. Eventually, there is a twist to the story that ties many of these threads together, and I can say it was unexpected. Along the way, Brian meets a host of characters, and I feel like most were not treated as caricatures. Notably, you meet a group of drag queens, but the game never pokes fun or uses them as the butt of a joke, which I thought was admirably restrained. Unfortunately, the same can’t quite be said about an Asian man you meet whose physical representation harkens back to the worst concepts of racist yellowface, including buckteeth.

Regardless, Runaway is a pretty solid game overall. In-game graphics hold up well, although some CGI in cut-scenes is definitely first-generation kind of computer animation. Voice work is well done, and some of the theme music is actually pretty catchy. A solid start to the Runaway franchise. 7.5 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #517 on: August 27, 2018, 10:06:36 AM »
I’m sure there is a perfectly serviceable game at the heart of DreadOut, but it just didn’t appeal to me. I gave it a couple of hours’ time, and played through the prologue and into the first chapter, but the mechanics and the overall difficulty did me in.

In DreadOut, you have a cellphone camera that you have to bring up manually to see certain apparitions. When they get close enough, you can snap a photo, which might damage them slightly before they start attacking again. When you have the camera up, you can only move a couple of inches, so to get away from something, you have to lower the camera, spin the mouse away to run off, and then bring up the camera again just in time to snap another photo to damage the ghost. All of this truly sucks, especially since if you get hit by a ghost, you may be stunned nonstop until you die.

In the first chapter, you enter a school, and besides everything being overly dark, I couldn’t figure out how to get a key off a hippo-ghost. Then I got mass-spammed by a shrieking ghost and couldn’t get away before it would keep draining me. When I kept getting attacked by waves of this one particular ghost, it just got old really quick. Plus the shrieking gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Graphically, DreadOut feels last-gen in its presentation but it is effective in pulling off creepy and scary situations. Kudos there.

However, it just didn’t feel like a game that I wanted to play. Your mileage may vary. 6.1 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #518 on: September 03, 2018, 03:37:53 PM »
Black Sails: The Ghost Ship – not to be confused with the TV series Black Sails – is an adequate adventure game, but only has a few redeeming features to make it worth your attention.

The game starts with the sinking of your cruise liner in the late 1880s. Your character Anna survives by holding onto some floating wood, and is later joined by a young man named Lex. The two of you manage to spot a drifting ship and clamor aboard. It is here that the issues start. Lex is truly the most assholic character I’ve ever met in a game. He is rude, mean, petty, and all-around a huge jerk. So to require his assistance, or to assist him when he’s injured, is infuriating.

You have the choice of how you respond to Lex in conversations, and some of these choices make a difference to the ending, but man was it painful to be nice to him.

Ana is our protagonist, and must search out the ship to learn what happened to the crew. Upon entering a certain area, she has a dream about a little girl on the same ship. I won’t get into the reasons why to avoid any spoilers, but you now take on the little girl’s point-of-view to solve challenges.

Probably the variety and type of puzzles is the highlight of the game. You’ll need to figure out how objects you’ve gathered can be appropriately used to escape. I figured out most problems myself, which was nice.

Sound is the other real highlight. The character voices are spot-on, and that’s actually what makes Lex so disagreeable. The ambient sounds are creepy but never overpowering.

The story also has a nice twist at the very end that I didn’t necessarily see coming.

Black Sails is a decent game and relatively quick to play, but I’d recommend getting on sale. 6.8 out of 10

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« Reply #519 on: September 10, 2018, 11:27:20 AM »
As an adventure point-and-click game, Between Me and the Night doesn’t fully gel. I think there are supposed to be some ties to how a person’s perspective changes from adolescence to teen to adult, but I didn’t quite get it.

You awake in your bedroom, with lots of “kid stuff” around you – books, games, toys. You can pick a limited number of these up – some of which have purpose and most which don’t. But you have no idea what you’re supposed to accomplish, so the free-form play isn’t effective. I did walk down to the kitchen and get a note from my ghostly mom to feed the cat and mow the yard, but in the first act, that was the only objective I received. Everything else is a lot of guess-work.

Once you’ve guessed properly, you reach a coda of sorts, that ties all your timelines together: you enter a hack-and-slash arcade game with a different color tone and perspective. As this knight – which perhaps is supposed to be the embodiment of you as a hero in this fantasy world when you can’t be a hero in real life – you traverse a mountain, cross rope bridges, and take down foes with your trusty sword. In the final act, you also unfortunately have to conduct a timed platforming section that was a real beast to get past.

Controlling your character is really atrocious. Keys are too tight or loose when you change directions, and you weirdly have to right-click on objects to move them, but then left-clicking brings a close-up of items that can only exit when you left-click again. It’s all very awkward, and especially the last platforming level is made extremely difficult by the controls.

This game strives to be a little artsy and say something about how we change (or actually don’t) as we get older, but the lack of objectives that force you to guess your path, and the wonky controls, really hurt the final product. 6.6 out of 10

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« Reply #520 on: September 17, 2018, 09:02:57 AM »
I’ve generally liked games from the developer Spiders, so I opted to give one of its earlier games Faery: Legends of Avalon a shot when I found it on sale.

Faery allows you to craft your male or female fairy with lots of little perks. I was actually surprised by how strong the creation aspect was to change hair/eye/body color, add tatts, etc. Later on, you can add more physical changes by how you distribute your experience points.

Yes, this game is an action-adventure RPG. You awaken from stasis, unsure of how you got there, but the Faery King explains that he needs your help to fix the flow of magic between worlds. Your first task is to gather two associates before venturing forth. For this, you’ve got to help out people to gain their trust, which generally means fetch missions or battling their enemies.

Either way, you get experience points for each successful battle or objective you reach. With these points, you can add new skills and spells. And each of these enhancements also changes how your character looks, like adding a new tattoo, horns, or even a scorpion tail.

The game excels in providing interesting and memorable characters, and although they are not voiced, their narrative on-screen is generally intriguing. Everyone you speak with will have a part to play in your journey, so it’s best to treat everyone (barring one specific person) with respect. And their tasks are not overly onerous, and can sometimes be accomplished in different ways, such as a hornet nest threatening a sacred tree – you can attack each enemy separately, or you can gather materials to create a smoke screen that will drive off most of the hornets.

Battles revert to a turn-based JRPG model, lining up your enemies on one side, and your team on the other. Both sides take turns attacking, and hopefully you’ll win. You can attack with either physical or magical attacks, and one might be more effective over the other, depending on the enemy. Your allies also have different attacks, like they may be more focused on water, wind or fire-based magical attacks. So who you draft into battle has an impact on how long these fights take. However, the longer you keep an ally on your active team, they may actually offer you a gift, or be able to level up some of their own attacks.

Faery will have you visit several distinct realms: a small island, a spirit tree, a pirate’s ship, and even a desert city housed on the back of an enormous dung beetle. Sometimes, your small size as a fairy will be evident against a human-sized foe or feature. But the majority of the characters you interact with are similar in size.

For these worlds, which are rightfully constrained in size, you can dart quickly away in flight to get a broader perspective of where you need to go next. Many relevant items are highlighted with a sparkle that you can see. Visually, the menu itself suffers slightly from some weird lag or overlay – descriptive text doesn’t always seem like it is in the right place when you point at it, or it has a shimmering effect. But in-game, the graphics are pretty good overall.

Faery provides an engaging storyline that will have you wanting to see what’s next. Goals are readily identifiable, characters are engaging, your power-set is fun to fight battles, and zipping around is a unique way to move. It would have been nice if each world were larger and had more to do, but as a shorter, small-scale game, Faery succeeds. 7.3 out of 10

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« Reply #521 on: September 24, 2018, 09:11:48 PM »
Dead Secret is an interesting first-person adventure mystery. It is definitely built for VR applications, as seen in the menu, and in how you view certain objects. Also, you move via jumps rather than simply moving forward one step at a time. But overall it works.

Graphically, the game is solid but simplistic. Character models and items look fine, and the small farmhouse and attached barn that you explore are interestingly detailed.

At the heart of it all is a murder mystery. You are a small-town reporter who is eager to jump to the big leagues by cracking open this case in the heart of the Kansas countryside. Once you enter the house, however, things don’t necessarily go as expected, especially since you have 6 potential suspects. It does have some puzzles but they’re honestly pretty simple – probably so that the VR people didn’t have to do so much manipulating of objects.

The game is only 3-4 hours in length, but in that time, you’ll need to figure out what the murdered doctor was working on, who had a motive to kill him, and the identity of the actual killer. Along the way, you get little pop quizzes to see if you’ve been paying attention. Occasionally, the killer will stalk you, so you have to find a way to hide or escape – those were actually kind of frightening, especially when I was found.

The VR thing is a bit detrimental to the overall non-VR version, especially when you have to access your inventory, which throws a circle of items on the screen that you have to roll your mouse all around to see everything. I understand they did it for multiple applications, and that’s okay, but it’s still not ideal for the version that I played. I didn’t guess correctly the first two times or quite understand the reason why exactly our victim was killed. I also never quite understood exactly what the device was created to accomplish. Maybe I should have read my notes a little better.  :turnhappy:

But otherwise, I can recommend Dead Secret. A few changes and it would have scored higher in my estimation. 7.9 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #522 on: October 01, 2018, 10:20:53 AM »
UnderDread is one of those games that is definitely not the game you thought you were going to be playing. From the teaser trailer and screenshots, it appears to be something akin to Thief, where you are sneaking around and picking up loot. And I suppose there is some truth to that, but in practice, the game is completely different.

UnderDread starts with a voiceover that your daughter is missing and the only one who might have a clue to where she’s gone is a detective, who last visited a local castle high up on the mountainside. We then start the game inside the castle proper with no real transition. The opening map basically tells you how everything works. You open up drawers to find objects you’ll need, or hints and notes from the detective. You also get the first glimpse of a ghostly apparition, that you can scare away by using a certain scroll. Then you quickly move to the dungeons – the second of three levels.

After arriving in the dungeons, that ghostly apparition will return, except you can’t get rid of it now. Instead, you have to crouch behind specific pillars until it goes out of sight, upon which you can move to the next location before crouching again for a minute while it passes, before moving to the next location…. All the while, the ghost skeleton sounds like a … whale song, maybe? There’s no deathly shrieking (thank God) or moaning, but believe me, you will hate whale song by the end of this game. And there’s really not much reasoning to some of the locations you can crouch – some are acceptable while most are not.

Here’s where the game starts to falter. This is a first-person adventure game, but unless you spend one of your hard-earned Hint scrolls, you almost never know what you’re supposed to do next. First up, you have to lower a statue by flicking levers from green to red. I kid you not – there are probably 40 of the G-D levers that you have to search out on the ground, on ledges, on bookcases, inside dozens of treasure chests – there is no rhyme or reason to where they are located or whether they could even be connected physically to the statue.

Along the way, you’ll find hundreds of different colored bottles, jewels, large coins, knives and more. But you can’t touch them or pick them up right now. Instead, you have to wait until you access the next objective – which is to find an undetermined number of knives – before you can pick them up. After the knives, you access a new area in the level that is sort of a safe room (remember, that stupid whale-singing ghost is still roaming all around and you have to stop every minute or so to wait for it to go past).

After the safe room, you find a pit on the bottom floor, which says you need “a lot of holy water”. Again, you have to go ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE START OF THE LEVEL, sneaking past ghost-boy the whole way, to pick up all the holy water vials that you’ve seen dozens of times before. But of course, you won’t find all 6 vials that you need, so you’ll have to waste some of your hint scrolls to find them. And I know this is spoiling the experience, but once you accumulate all the holy water, you can finally kill that bastard and shut him up.

Only to learn that you need EVERY SINGLE COLORED BOTTLE REMAINING IN THE LEVEL to create an acid to escape -- all of which you have passed by a million times before….

….

….

….

Oh, we haven’t even gotten to the WORST part of the game yet!! No, that honor is left for the third level, in the mines beneath the dungeons.

[Sigh] … breathe … count to 100 slowly and exhale ….

In the mines, we have to cross a chasm to obtain a book. But the boards to cross the chasm are found in several different places. This would be simple, but instead of our ghosty associate, we now have a party of dozens of dead men ambling by, complete with ghastly shrieks and moans. The whole thing looks like absolute crap. It’s literally a slide show of 5 slides that creeps down the hallway toward you, and if you somehow get stuck in the accompanying red mist, you have to start over from the last autosave (which in themselves are rare and spread out).

So you have to remember a lot of safe areas to get around this enemy type, and there’s even fewer of those than the previous level. Find the book and return it to the miner’s camp. (And remember that you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing because unless you spent a hint, you’d never know.) After this, another passage opens up and you can escape the mines to a small room where your daughter had been held, but that you need to leave to find her. And then end the game with “… to be continued” BS.

I could go on about how you can barely run faster than your walk, and that if you do, your stamina meter is agonizingly slow. I could talk about the stupid apparitions that just cover your screen indiscriminately for no reason. I could mention the random jump-scare sounds that assault you so much that you get numb to them after about the 20th time. I could certainly elaborate on how you will find dozens of the same notes you’ve already found. I could write about how annoying it was to scour levels from start to back for items that I had already passed dozens of times.

But I won’t. Instead, I will simply tell you to skip this game, as it’s not the game in play that it appears to be in the trailer. 5.8 out of 10


[P.S. I did find a secret, but never went all the way through with it. On the second and third levels, you will find large coins. If you find the right receptacle (1 near all the treasure chests in 2nd level, 1 in 2nd level’s safe room, and 1 in the 3rd level in the farthest tunnel on the book’s side of the chasm), you can place 4 to 5 coins in each one to enter a secret room. Inside the room is a key. Get all three keys, and you can open a cell in the final room. Unfortunately, I didn’t find enough coins on the last level to get a key, but I’m curious who the skeleton is in that cell – maybe your daughter??]

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #523 on: October 08, 2018, 09:35:21 AM »
In honor of the impending death of Telltale Games, I present this review. I’ve played most of Telltale Games’ entries starting with The Walking Dead, which I gave a perfect score, and most have been very good to excellent “stories”, but have faltered as “games.” Unfortunately, The Walking Dead: Michonne is my least-liked of the new crop.

Michonne follows the title character through a shortened 3-episode jaunt in The Walking Dead universe. Each episode is also shorter than other Telltale titles. Because of this, you really never get to know any of the characters in any meaningful way. I just played the original TWD title for comparison, and in that one, I did everything I could to ensure that Clementine was safe. As Lee, I got to know the quirks and foibles of especially Kenny, but also Doug, Glenn, Lilly, Ben, Christa, Omid and many others. In Michonne, there’s a bad lady named Norma, and a girl named Sam and … a bunch of cannon fodder.

Michonne attempts to make us feel something for these others, but from the first scene, we are introduced to a bad-ass lady who has no problem killing zombies. And unfortunately, because her daughters are dead, she also has no reason to live. So I spent the rest of the game essentially playing a Chaotic Neutral character: if it didn’t impact me directly, I generally didn’t care. I’d throw people under the bus, say whatever I felt like, and generally court death every chance I could.

When you play as such a character, there’s really no need to get to know anyone else, because they’re all going to get killed soon anyway – either by me or by the zombies. And those that sacrificed themselves for me, I didn’t really care, because I was just going to walk on afterward. So no real character development to Michonne, although she does reach some closure by game’s end.

One huge gripe: the technical side of the game was really poorly optimized. I read forum after forum entries about how people couldn’t get the game to set itself in 1920x1080 widescreen mode, or to get out of windowed mode. I encountered this several times, so the only suggestion was to Alt-Enter and put it back in windowed mode of 1600x1200. This of course stretched out the images incorrectly, and the window frame was of course obnoxious. Toss huge load times into the mix, and I got the feeling that the game just wasn’t built correctly.

The other gripe I has was with the new “interactive” mechanism. You had to mouse over an area, and then it would give you 1 to 3 options, like “Look”, “Talk”, “Open”, etc. This was extremely clunky, especially since the original game seemed so smooth in how you interacted with everything.

Overall, even though Michonne was much more active than other Telltale Games I’ve played, I just don’t know if I’d recommend it other than on a deep sale, and if you’re a real fan of the show. 7.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #524 on: October 15, 2018, 12:24:27 PM »
I was pleasantly surprised by Clandestine. It has elements of better games like Deus Ex, Splinter Cell and Alpha Protocol, in that it allows your character to sneak and hide, with the support of a hacker (which can be played by another co-op player) to shut off cameras and open doors on your behalf. (You also must take on the hacker role in a single-player game.)

You are a new female agent who is conscripted to free another agent after a huge security breach identified a number of spies around the world. So the first mission shows you how to bounce back and forth between your agent and the hacker supporting you. You learn how to turn off cameras, open doors, and hack special equipment, while also sneaking around, knocking out foes, and collecting information. You will often have to act quickly to turn off a camera, move into its view, and then turn off another camera while exiting the last one’s view. If you’re too slow, an alarm will alert nearby enemies that you’ll have to either hide from, incapacitate, or even kill.

After the mission, you return to a new headquarters, where your boss and his associate debrief you and get you ready for the next mission. Within the HQ, you can talk to other agents, get training and gear, and read reports. Your goal is to find the entity that leaked the spy network, and take him into custody. But you’ll need to get information from his associates first to even figure out who that person is. Along the way, something doesn’t quite feel right with your new circumstances….

Subsequent missions take you to fancy homes (where you must constantly avoid someone who knows your identity), construction sites, embassies, underground lairs, office buildings, and more. You can choose to leave foes alive or to kill them, with some of them possibly affecting later story elements. If you successfully avoid incidents like camera alerts, hacking alerts, and even deaths, you gather a “Low Footprint” rating, which means you’ll face fewer foes in the next mission. So it’s always best to sneak around, turn off cameras, drag bodies out of public view, and refrain from physical and environmental kills.

Maps aren’t too small or large, the branching storyline is interesting and drives the plot, and the main two antagonists have complete arcs and backstories. The debriefing cut-scenes are a little wooden, but overall voice work is nicely done.

I enjoyed Clandestine, and can recommend it if you like any of the games previously mentioned. 7.9 out of 10