Author Topic: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread  (Read 85670 times)

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #540 on: January 28, 2019, 10:43:17 AM »
ICARUS.1 is a unique mix of a walking first-person simulator with light puzzle elements, set in a deep-space freighter, and all with a slight horror tinge to it. You play as Sam, and have been sent to board a derelict freighter called ICARUS.1. Accompanied by your AI David, you embark on your mission. Unfortunately, a faulty docking procedure damages your craft, as well as initiates a local lock-down. Your only way off the ICARUS is to find another shuttle.

The first thing you note upon starting the game is that you have no idea what keys do what. It would have been helpful for at least a small tutorial section, or at a minimum just listing the actual key bindings in the User Interface. Even if I can’t change them, tell me what they are somehow, somewhere. The other gripe I had was the lack of a brightness slider to offset some of the really dark areas encountered.

But once you figure out WASD and a few other keys, it’s time to move onward. Gameplay is pretty simplistic: enter an area, a door shuts behind you, and you have to open a new way forward. Everything you need will be nearby: maybe a wrench to loosen some bolts, or a pump to engage some hydraulics, or a fuse to raise/lower a lift. It’s worth looking everywhere for ID cards and records of what the ICARUS crew experienced. Move into a new area, rinse, repeat.

The story is a bit nebulous, but it appears that the crew was on a sharp deadline to get the ICARUS “seaworthy” so that it could be used for human expansion throughout the galaxy. Problems with power and especially plant growth caused some significant headaches, and the need to take more dire risks.

Other than these records, you never really experience any other human connections. The ship – while an homage to the movie “2001” or other 1970s era constructions – feels a little too empty and barren. What happened to the other crew? Did they all perish on board, or did they escape?

Set within 5 manageable “episodes”, ICARUS.1 is a relatively quick play, and for the most part is a simple, but pleasurable game. I think you got most of the gist of what happened in that short play time, but I would like to see the story expanded to see what happens next. 7.7 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #541 on: February 04, 2019, 10:08:25 AM »
Unfortunately, the final game in the Deponia series – Goodbye Deponia – is ultimately a let-down, despite going for broke in all ways.

While it did answer some lingering questions, especially why Rufus is the way he is, the difficulty factor increased way above normal. I was so confused, I spent probably 80% of the game following a YouTube walk-through. And even though you could skip certain challenging sections, such as making cameras follow you, the only way you’d be able to solve those sections is through random chance. And I don’t like my adventure puzzles to be random.

The story follows on from Chaos on Deponia, and features an excellent art style, and great sound and voicework. It also decides to go over the top (which is saying a lot for this series), by splitting Rufus into three clones and giving each of those their own story. Unfortunately, that’s part of why the game doesn’t really work. Basically, you follow one Rufus all the way until you get stuck, and then switch to the next Rufus until you either get stuck, or are able to transfer items from one to the other. (This is an interesting device and reminds me a lot of LucasArts’ Day of the Tentacle, when you passed objects from the past into the future, etc.) But there are so many challenges to do this – you literally would have to transfer everything to realistically know what the next step was, or how to apply that object to the newest circumstance.

And then the logic leaps were pretty heavy. You have to gather 3 objects and somehow realize that you then need to use those objects on one of your team to get the appropriate answer to a puzzle you didn’t even realize existed.

The game also came across as extremely mean-spirited, sexist, racist and misogynistic – more so than almost any other adventure game I’ve played in the past decade. Rufus insults several women – one of whom appears to be transgender – that they aren’t “strong enough” to fight in a war. He sells a black woman into servitude to play a “monkey” in sexually revealing attire. He shows a drawing of a child-molester’s penis to small children. He consistently pushes everyone to such a breaking point – and then revels in the act – that they literally have a mental breakdown. And then we’re expected to believe that Goal, the object of his nefarious affections, has somehow fallen in love with him despite these horrible traits?

I realize that the character of Rufus is intended to be a Molotov tossed into every situation – “Situation not bad enough? Let Rufus take over and see how much worse it will get!” – and comedy can certainly be mined from those situations. But maybe leave out things that are just really over-the-top low-class.

I was glad to see what made Rufus, and to eventually see his changing stance by the end of the game, but that ending felt rushed and unearned. Featuring some truly horrific puzzle designs and some extremely hateful conversations, the third game in the Deponia series is unfortunately its worst. 6.3 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #542 on: February 11, 2019, 09:50:00 AM »
Built in CryEngine3, Lichdom Battlemage is definitely a gorgeous first-person game. But all the eye-candy in the world cannot cover up extremely shallow gameplay.

Here’s how the game plays: enter a long winding culvert, with canyons on both sides, and an occasional slight turn-off spur to which you’ll have to return. Cross an unseen line and face groups of foes peppering you up close and from afar. Kill them, gather power-ups that they were hiding, and move further down the canyon.

Even though that “canyon” is extremely detailed, you’d get the same experience from just going down an actual in-game canyon. Yes, there may be tables with books over on one wall, but you can’t interact with them – they’re essentially props inside the canyon.

The story starts strong but ultimately fizzles out. The whole reason for your journey is to try and find your sister, who was taken by an evil mage. An opposing party has gifted you with magic gauntlets and asked you to do their bidding to take out the evil mage and find your sister again. This all seems great, but then you get stuck in exposition hell for the rest of the game. If you’re not unlocking previous memories from your benefactor and his former employees, then you’re getting an info dump every few minutes from a pretty worthless spy who can magically turn into a crow. You never directly see anything happening that affects your goal.

The best part of the game luckily is the magic that you wield in battles, starting with flame magic and then moving on to ice magic. Eventually, you get to slowly add additional magic types such as necromancy, lightning, decay, and others. The more you use a specific magic type, the stronger you get in it. Along the way, from destroying magical artifacts to collecting orbs, you’ll get additional “slots” that you can use to upgrade your existing spell. It was overly complex, but after you collect so many lower-tier upgrades, you can combine them to form more powerful rare and legendary upgrades.

Attacks include lobs/missiles/rays aimed at individuals, area attacks hitting multiple foes, and a shield/bracer that if timed correctly when a foe is hitting you, you can cause a supernova in return. If you hold your attack for a couple of seconds longer, it manifests at a higher damage value.

You really do need to concentrate on 3 main magic types and then upgrade those throughout the game. I mainly stuck with Fire, Ice and Necromancy. I would hit foes with Necromancy at the start; if I had already “retained” up to three dead allies (consisting of warrior, crossbowman or mage), those would show up and start helping me out – if not, whomever I killed might then arise as my next ally. After that, I would pump some Ice area attacks on far-off foes, and then if they got close, I’d freeze them with a direct missile or ray. Once frozen, I’d hit them with Necromancy to bring them back on my side, re-freeze them, and then hit with a Flame super-missile for maximum damage. If they’re still alive, refreeze and reburn – ad infinitum.

I admit that I was on the verge of quitting multiple times due to the game’s monotonous gameplay, but I did stick it out and finish. It was pretty awesome to freeze foes and watch them shatter to bits upon being hit. But the whole affair was really challenging to motivate myself to continue. Pretty but boring, in other words. 6.8 out of 10

 

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