Author Topic: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread  (Read 88788 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

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #543 on: February 18, 2019, 12:00:00 PM »
Rise of Insanity will either frustrate or be mildly appreciated – I don’t think there’s any middle ground with this one. I leaned toward the mild appreciation side myself, but I certainly don’t consider it anything more than average. The game is also extremely short – I finished in 99 minutes, and gathered all the intel items.

Rise tells the story of (we assume) a psychiatrist who has been treating a patient and his own son with some very unique and experimental methods. Along the way, we learn that the patient dreams about killing his family, yet he doesn’t have one. And we see from the son’s drawings that there is a shadow in the family’s life. Although some reviewers said they immediately knew the final twist, I admit that I didn’t see it coming.

Rise is only one step above a walking simulator, with a couple of very simple puzzles (i.e. finding a lock number or light bulb or electric fuses) scattered throughout. Most of your time will be spent finding notes, your son’s rubber ducks, pictures, etc., and attempting to figure out what’s truly happening.

The game’s graphics are acceptable and showcase a diversity of locales including your home, a hospital, a garden, and a few other dream-like areas. Sometimes you’ll shift immediately to the next location, while others require a lengthy (minute-plus) loading screen.

Overall, Rise of Insanity is only an “okay” game, and I wouldn’t recommend it other than on a deep discount. 6.9 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #544 on: February 25, 2019, 08:08:57 AM »
The Next Big Thing has one of the oddest stories I’ve ever played in a point-and-click adventure game. In the game’s world, monsters actually do exist, and they play themselves in horror movies. However, they’re still treated as third-class citizens because of how they look.

After an odd narrator starts the story somewhere in the middle, we backtrack to the start to meet Elisa and Dan. Elisa is a features writer at the local newspaper, and she’s waiting for her big scoop; Dan is a sports reporter and could care less about the Monster Awards soiree that they’ve been sent to attend and then write about. In fact, Dan would rather stay with the car in the parking lot and drink than hob-nob with all the monsters. After the event, Elisa returns to the car and begins berating Dan when she sees someone sneaking through a window into an office. On the scent of a story, she decides to investigate.

Elisa has a number of quirks, fears, and odd behaviors, and over the course of the game, some of those are addressed. For example, she apparently has two over-achieving sisters – one of whom is a twin – who are extremely skilled in the arts, music, and more. Elisa is the dreamer of the three, always making up games and stories. And they all come from a very wealthy upbringing, so Elisa’s job as a features writer isn’t quite what her family wanted for her.

Dan, on the other hand, starts as a typical jock archetype – only caring about booze, women and sports. After sitting on his butt all night, he will only help Elisa when she promises him sports tickets to the upcoming “big fight”. However, when Elisa goes missing the next day, he grudgingly goes to look for her because a) he’ll lose his comfy sports writer gig if he doesn’t bring back a story (that Elisa wrote), and b) he still wants those tickets. Both Dan and Elisa eventually show some growth over their past, and a desire to improve in the future.

The game artwork is attractive with bright color schemes, similar to other Pendulo games. Objects are mostly identifiable, and you can use a hotspot prompt if needed to see what you can interact with, and where you can go.

I did have an issue with the user interface, which was more challenging than needed. In other adventure games of the same era, you could hit a single button like SPACE and all the hotspots would pop up. Here, you have to scroll your mouse to the top of the screen, which pulls down the Hint, Hotspot, Inventory, Settings and Load/Save buttons. It’s all a step too many.

The sound is very well done, with great voicework from the main characters and the supporting characters they meet along the way. Music plays a part in several instances, including a sound-based game and several dance types.

Speaking of puzzles, I completed probably 95% on my own (only rarely using the Hint system), and the rest with a written walkthrough. So I’d rate the puzzles an average challenge level, which is my preference. I’d rather be able to solve the majority of puzzles myself. When I have to drop out of the game to consult a walkthrough, I quickly lose interest in the whole thing.

As I said, the story was extremely odd, but definitely was a pleasure to get through in about 5-6 hours. The ending was surprising, so I also appreciated that. 7.7 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #545 on: March 04, 2019, 06:05:54 PM »
I like a good racing game, and for much of its early hours, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is pretty fun. I played solo and only within the World Tour campaign, concentrating mostly on one of the dozen or so mascot racers available. Each racer has different stats in Speed, Acceleration, Handling, etc., so you have to be pretty selective when you see yourself losing race after race.

What makes the game unique to other racers is that your vehicle will “transform” based on the racetrack – from a wheeled car to a boat to a flying vehicle with four degrees of movement. I will state that playing the flying section with mouse and keyboard is near impossible because one small movement spins you helplessly out of control. The boat sections have their own challenges with waves sapping your speed and direction, but were much easier to navigate.

At the end of each race, you earn both points (used to modify your vehicle) and stars, which open up new races. However, I found that the overall difficulty level spiked extensively. A route you might win handily on Easy difficulty (1 star) was much more challenging on Medium level (2 stars), and would require a spotless run at Hard (3 stars) to finish first. Certainly, if you don’t race at the Hard level, you will be unable to open later races.

My problem was that many of the Hard races were near impossible. For example, a “Boost” race had you hit certain waypoints within a set period of time. I chose a racer with great Boost capabilities, hit every Boost on the track, and still couldn’t get to the second waypoint. I’m not sure what else I could possibly do. And forget the Drift races, which I can never ever seem to get right.

But the races I did get to play through were mostly fun, and used a wide variety of settings and locales related to the racers. I would have liked less repetition of the settings, however.

In the end, I think the overall spike in difficulty, the extreme challenges in using mouse and keyboard (vs. controller), and the repetition of settings were a detriment to my playthrough. 6.9 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #546 on: March 11, 2019, 11:22:30 AM »
Having played the original King’s Quest series numerous times back in the 1990s, it was with some interest that I played through King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember. The first of a 5-part series is free to explore, so I figured there was no reason not to give it a shot.

In Chapter 1, we first see Graham going down a well, which long-time players will remember fondly. This section gives us a tutorial of sorts on how to maneuver Graham and interact with the objects on screen. It also brings us face to face with a dragon. Certainly the game has elements of the past series, although now translated to a modern-day aesthetic. The humor was there, and the action scenes, and the tricky (sometimes TOO tricky) puzzles.

After exiting the cave, we immediately revert to a bedroom where an elderly King Graham is talking to his granddaughter. This rebooted series makes clear that it will play as past remembrances of Graham’s exploits from BEFORE the first iteration of games. This was a strategic decision from the developers, to play on the nostalgia of the past while introducing something new, rather than just redoing all the previous games in a modern engine.

King Graham (brilliantly voice-acted by Christopher Lloyd) opts to share some life lessons with his granddaughter, so he tells her how he first became a knight. The story introduces the Kingdom of Daventry and several of its citizens. Unfortunately, the kingdom is in a pretty bad way as the story begins, with many bridges missing, not many people around, and attacks by wolves and goblins. To increase their strength, the kingdom has opened itself up to potential knights, with the understanding that the winner in the knight’s contest may eventually become king.

Graham, quite honestly, is pathetic as a knight. He is not necessarily fast, or strong, or capable with a bow or sword. He’s not particularly smart. But he does have heart, and maybe that’s enough to give him an edge over the other 4 knight contenders. Early on, he makes an alliance with fellow knight-to-be Manny that pays dividends. (Manny, by far, is the best bit of casting with Wallace Shawn (www.imdb.com/name/nm0001728/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm); you may know him better as Vizzini on The Princess Bride or even as Rex the dinosaur from Toy Story.)

The contests with the other knights include a diversity of puzzles and action scenes, including facing off against a familiar dragon, out-maneuvering a strongman (which requires some significant puzzle-solving on its own), and using a contender’s ego against him. Once past all of these, and making friends along the way, you must face off against Manny, and it’s one of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever played through, since it strongly reflects The Princess Bride. At the end, of course, Graham manages to prevail.

I enjoyed Part 1, but honestly don’t think I’d want to invest in any of the further chapters myself. 7.4 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #547 on: March 18, 2019, 09:24:40 AM »
I never watched the television show Heroes, and I didn’t even realize they had a sequel called Heroes Reborn come out. In fact, the only reason I got Gemini: Heroes Reborn is because it was on a deep Steam sale and it looked interesting! And surprisingly the game is pretty decent, if maybe it cribs a little too much from Half-Life 2’s gravity gun, Portal’s changing dynamics, and other familiar games. But it does it all without sacrificing too much.

The game starts with our protagonist Cass being led by another young man to a seemingly abandoned research facility. You receive a pair of smart-glasses that can track your location and allow you to talk with the boy when you’re separated. After some jumping and platforming puzzles (a la Mirrors Edge), you see the boy taken away by some security guards. And this is where it starts getting good.

Cass is able to somehow view a “tear” in time of about 6 years, and then she musters the ability to open that rift and go back and forth from 2008 to 2014. So if a door is closed in 2014, maybe it is open in 2008. Or if you see guards in 2008, shift to 2014 and maybe you can avoid them. As you get further into the game, and after powering up with a telekinesis drug, you realize that you can bring objects from one timeline into the other. This comes in extremely helpful when armed guards shoot at you – you can zip into the other time, open the tear to see where they are, bring a desk or chair from your current time, and then shift back to the original timeline to unleash those objects on the guards. You also can freeze flying objects including bullets and rockets, and hurl them back at your attackers.

Graphically, the game isn’t going to win any contests, even though it’s created with the Unreal Engine. But it works. And the storyline is also pretty decent and makes more sense as you continue playing.

At about 6 hours, the game is the right length for what it offers, but get it on sale. Overall, not too bad. 7.7 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #548 on: March 25, 2019, 06:06:14 PM »
Life is Strange is not a perfect game, but the overall feeling it delivers is extremely powerful – enough to get past any imperfections. Split into five episodes, this game will break your heart. It will have you regret every decision you make along the way. And it will pull you in, making you both hesitant and clamoring to play the next episode to see what comes next.

Life is Strange follows teenager Max Caulfield, who left Arcadia Bay five years ago to live in Seattle with her parents. Now she’s back at the prestigious Blackwell Academy to focus on her photography skills. But she also has to reconcile with the past she left behind, including her best friend Chloe Price.

We immediately leap into the action as Max finds herself in a nightmare scenario – wind whipping around as she attempts to climb a cliffside trail to a lighthouse that overlooks Arcadia Bay. When she arrives to the top, she sees a massive tornado bearing down on the seaside town. And then she awakes back in her classroom.

From here, it seems pretty mundane, like she just had a bad nightmare. She finishes up class, tools around in the hallway, and heads to the bathroom. While there, she sees a butterfly alight in the back corner, so she takes a photograph. While hidden in the back, a boy and girl come into the bathroom, start arguing, and the boy pulls a gun on the blue-haired girl, shooting her in the stomach.

That’s when Max’s world changes forever. She reaches out and (magically?) rewinds time to before the boy shoots the girl. With a little more effort, she goes back even further until she’s sitting in her classroom again. The same conversations and actions ensue, so Max comes to the realization that she somehow turned back time. With a couple of tests, she verifies that she has this mysterious new power, and that maybe she can even stop the shooting if she gets ahead of it.

The rewind power is what makes Life is Strange so unique. You can usually play down several down different timelines, see what you like best, and choose that route, understanding that your final decisions may have extremely serious consequences. Max also realizes that if she gathers items in the “future”, she’ll still have them if she rewinds to the past.

As we close out Episode 1, we reconnect with the blue-haired girl, who turns out to be Max’s best friend Chloe from so long ago. The reconciliation is not without its bumps, though. After Chloe’s father died in a car wreck, Max moved away, Chloe’s mom Joyce remarried, and Chloe’s other best friend Rachel Adams mysteriously disappeared 6 months prior. Chloe feels beset with loss and betrayal, and she is angry, intense and obsessive.

[Sidenote: as a father of a 19-year-old girl, I can relate to what the students in this game have to go through in today’s world.]

Chloe is excited though about Max’s new “superpower” and sets about trying to test it in a variety of ways. These are fun because you have to replay the game until you get the sequence of events right. And Chloe thinks that maybe they can find out what’s really going on in Arcadia Bay.

Future episodes up the ante significantly, with Max straining her new power to try and save a friend. She also reaches into the past to change a significant event in she and Chloe’s life. But, if you’ve ever seen The Butterfly Effect, you understand that one small change in the past can massively change the present. The mystery into what happened to Rachel Adams rachets up in the penultimate episode, with a heartbreaking finale.

We head into the final episode with Max in a very bad place both physically and mentally. However, she attempts one more time to head into the past and salvage her present. This is a glorious situation, when you finally get everything to work out just right. And then … well, to say more would ruin the surprise. But just know that if you’ve truly invested in Max’s story, you’ll get whiplash multiple times, and you will finally have to make the most important decision possible, with no backtracking this time.

As I said, the series is not perfect. My biggest complaint lies in how challenging it is to interact with objects. On the screen, people and objects that you can touch, speak with or otherwise take some action are highlighted. However, when you go to click on them (you have to hold down one button, and then mouse in one of the cardinal directions until the prescribed action takes place), the text indicating the action is often obscured by your character model. For example, if you approach an apple and look at it, the words for whatever action you want to take will be located behind your right arm. If you swivel around just right, you might be able to decipher the words, but probably not. I don’t know if this was exclusive to mouse and keyboard, but it was very annoying.

Most of the characters have great voice actors, the graphics are atmospheric and descriptive without requiring a lot of horsepower, and the story was interesting and unique, although parts of the last episode could possibly have been trimmed. The antagonist isn’t revealed until the end, which is nice, although they then became a little cartoonish.

Another fun element was taking photos (Max is trying to become a photographer, after all). You are given a scrapbook and have to figure out exactly what the book is showing you. Sometimes, you’ll automatically come across the photo opportunity, and other times, you’ll have to seek them out, or cause multiple things to happen before the opportunity presents itself.

Overall, I was very moved by Max and Chloe’s story. I wanted to see them gain some happiness, and I would try out many different variables to get what I thought might be the better (there is no “best” in this game) option. I had to deal with a potential suicide due to online bullying. I had to solve a six-month-old mystery and narrow down the suspects. And I finally had to make a huge decision that in real life I would almost never make. And now, I need a little time to decompress and pull myself back together. 9.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #549 on: April 01, 2019, 10:13:36 AM »
Mad Max is thoroughly average – it’s not a bad game; it’s not a great game – it just sits there in the middle and does what it’s expected to do. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as you know what you’re getting out of the experience.

The game is sort of a generic “Mad Max” experience, not necessarily tied to any specific actor, although it certainly took cues from the recent movie Fury Road in its interpretation of vehicles and characters. And then plopped them into an open-world game set in a brown and gold landscape of deserts, dunes and valleys.

The makers of Mad Max – Avalanche Studios – also created the Just Cause series, and the roots show in varying ways. Most notably are in the car sequences, as one of the weapons you can employ is a harpoon spear, which can rip off doors, tires and even target drivers and passengers. Driving the car can be pretty glorious, especially when you get a head of speed on and the wind is whooshing past your car. And the car battles are especially challenging as well. It’s when you get out of the car that the game tends to fall apart.

Mad Max is set in an apocalyptic wasteland (maybe Australia, but then why do the signs seem to indicate North America??), where gas and water are the staples of life. Max has to start the game without his clothes, his car and his shotgun, but fortunately gains a new assistant by the name of Chumbucket. This allows Max to build himself and his vehicle up piece by piece, which is a good opportunity for a game character to grow.

The initial locked region is a primer on how the game will play out. Max can find and board a stationed weather balloon to open up the map in each region. Then he can use his binoculars to scope out threats and opportunities, including wasteland snipers, enemy camps, large scarecrows that can be destroyed, and even racetracks. You will have to remove all threats in a region to fully upgrade your car.

After opening up successive regions, he meets wasteland leaders, who will offer him sanctuary in exchange for favors. Max will help to improve their strongholds, which in turn gives him ammo for a shotgun, water, gas, scrap removal and more. He’ll also take on various missions, which may open up ways to improve his personal effects or the new car that he and Chumbucket are building. The way forward will be locked until he reaches a certain pinnacle with the car’s build.

Driving across the wastelands, Max will gather scrap that is used for improvement projects. He’ll also visit a variety of smaller camps that might hold relics of the past (that Max will often speak about his own personal experiences), important stronghold parts, ammo dumps, and more. He’ll also encounter enemy convoys, which travel a set route. These were challenging encounters because you might face up to 8 enemy cars – all trying to take you down to keep you from destroying the fuel truck they are protecting.

Outside of the racing bits, probably the most enjoyable elements were the various enemy camps that you’d have to enter, take out the leaders and destroy their fuel depots. These camps were sometimes in really unique locations, or on multiple levels, and finding all the parts was often a challenge.

So let’s move to the negatives. Max will probably spend 90% of the game engaged in hand-to-hand combat. He can learn new moves as he gains experience, but it’s very similar to the Arkham combat style: one button to attack, one button to block, and one button to duck/avoid attack. You can build combos but you often get attacked from several angles at once, so you might block one and then get punched from the other side. But the finisher moves are fun when you can pull them off.

Another big negative is the overall grinding aspect. The wasteland looks like a wasteland, with few distinguishing characteristics to define one area over another. So basically you are constantly in a desert environment and just collecting scrap all the time, whether from buildings that you loot, or enemy threats and cars that you destroy. Scrap scrap scrap.

The story, such as it is, is extremely basic although it does attempt to give Max a heroic turn toward the end. But this is an apocalypse – there are no happy endings here.

For the $8 I paid for it, I certainly got my money’s worth over 53 hours of gameplay. There are enough positives to outweigh the negatives that I’d certainly recommend it. Just don’t expect to get more than a generic Mad Max story. 7.4 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #550 on: April 15, 2019, 09:25:55 AM »
Oxenfree is a hard game to peg down – sort of a fantastical coming-of-age sidescroller mystery, if you will. You, your new step-brother, and your best friend start the journey on a boat shuttling you to a nearby island, so that you can have a party with some other friends. It’s a right of passage, apparently, to stay overnight on the island. And your best friend Ren says there are some weird goings-on that you just have to check out.

Probably what catches your attention most is the art-style, which almost feels like a painting, but then the characters feel a bit “cartoonish” in style, and certainly in the thought bubbles that sprout from their head. But it’s an attractive enough look, at any rate.

The story follows 5 teenagers around, and feels mostly realistic of high schooler dialogue, but with some big thoughts and ideas tossed in. The introduction of the step-brother is a big issue with Ren, and you’re caught between having to “diss” him or stand up for him, even though you’ve really only just met. And the fact that he’s even in your life is due to the loss of your original brother, who dated one of the other girls on the trip. There are a lot of heady topics for anyone to tackle, let alone a high schooler.

And then things get weird.

Ren has asked you to bring a radio with manual knobs. Supposedly at certain locations on the island, you can tune in the radio to otherworldly messages. What you hear will surprise you and change the whole course of events for the night.

You do a lot of listening to your friends as you walk … slowly … from one end of the island to the other. Did you know there was a military base on the island? Or that they were supposedly doing weird experiments? Or that the rich old lady who lived in the mansion by the sea never left the island … like ever?

The game is relatively short and has some replayability so that you can perhaps uncover more of the mysteries of the island. I won’t go into spoilers, but one thing I’d recommend is that if you happen to see yourself in the past, write down the answers you give. You never know when you’ll need to remember what you said….  :lol:

Definitely worth a play. 7.8 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #551 on: April 22, 2019, 07:25:31 AM »
Man, this game is short!! Perils of Man clocks in right around 3 hours, which included at least 30 minutes or more in cut-scenes, including the whole finale, in which you walk around for 1 minute, and then it cuts into a 15-minute cut-scene where you never take the reins again.

The story premise is interesting: you play as Ana, a teenager who has been cooped up in your house for a decade since your father mysteriously went missing. Your mother, who claims to see his ghost on occasion, is afraid to let you out of her sight as all the scientists in your family – going back 4 generations – have all gone missing under mysterious circumstances. And you, as a teen, are only too happy to try and find an escape. When your mother provides a surprise 16th birthday gift that she found addressed from your father, that spurs you to try and solve those mysteries.

You must complete several point-and-click puzzles, find objects and install them in a new location, etc. – nothing extremely nonsensical, but some of the objects were more challenging to find. Eventually, you’ll make your way into a hidden lab and workshop, where you’ll reconstruct Darwin, a walking bird-robot that provides backstory, banter, and even a link with your great-great-great-grandfather Thomas. Thomas informs you that with special looking glasses, you can make an assessment of risks, and even travel into the past to change the fate of certain key disasters. You might even find your father!

Artistically, the game presents like some of the old LucasArts games, with a colorful but wonky style; i.e. extended lines, slightly off-kilter angles, cartoonish designs. I did have some significant difficulty in pixel-hunting key objects, such that I had to visit a walk-through to see what I’d missed. Later in the game, you are supposed to search an area, but the mouse pointer isn’t right on the mark; a catch-all “one-button highlight” would have been appreciated to show you all the areas where you can interact.

Another issue I had was in simple navigation. The screen is so “short” that you had to constantly click ahead of where you were walking, and you couldn’t speed up or instantly materialize to an exit by double-clicking. It was annoying enough that I noticed it and felt it was a waste of time.

After visiting two previous disasters, you finally come to the third and final disaster. At this point, you walk around for a few seconds, make the only decision possible, and then the finale cut-scene takes over. I felt the game was extremely short, and never really allowed me to connect with the more interesting part of the game – solving these disasters. But the game does actually discuss the merits of letting a few suffer in order to save the many, which was an interesting take.

Perils of Man is not a “bad” game per se, but it is woefully short. I’d only get it on a deep sale. 6.5 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #552 on: April 30, 2019, 08:17:09 AM »
I thought the last game I played was short, but Investigator clocked in at just barely 2 hours! This is a mixed bag, as gameplay mostly consists of traveling down one corridor after another. Occasionally, in some outdoor scenes, you can explore a little bit more, but not substantially.

The story finds you as a former private eye, who lost his job after a series of natural disasters rocked the world and sent humanity into a tailspin. You’ve since become a drifter, trying to find the next pot of food. We see elements of the world gone awry, with a tornado in an opening scene, decayed/moldy buildings, flooded plains, snow-covered landscapes, and empty evacuation centers. You’re on your own, in other words. The game consists of 10 chapters, which alternate from outdoor scenes to interior tunnels and hallways, so you’re never stuck in one type of habitat for too long.

Eventually, you do come across another human, and he serves as your protagonist through the majority of the game. You’ll also come across various critters that may harm you. Interestingly, you don’t ever die if something happens to you – you might move slower for the next 10 minutes if you were “wounded,” or be trapped in a location, but you don’t die. Within these scenes you occasionally have to find objects to progress the story, but you’re at least told what you need. As an example, I was in the frozen outdoors and had to warm up; I found a cabin, but needed matches and firewood, both of which I found in other locations nearby.

The shortness of the game is both good and bad. I’m not sure it would have improved if it were stretched out, but we’ll never know since they didn’t try. I found it interesting enough, and the graphics were pretty decent. It also had more than 50 accomplishments that you could go after, if that’s your thing. 6.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #553 on: May 06, 2019, 10:11:46 AM »
The premise behind Bohemian Killing is actually pretty sublime: you have committed a murder, and are actually in court trying to defend yourself. As you recount the time under discussion, you can make up a number of lies to back your account of the story. Or you can frame someone else. Or you can claim insanity and see if you can escape from prison. It’s probably worth a couple of play-throughs to test each hypothesis and see where it leads.

However, there are some known facts in the case, such as when you were seen by eye-witnesses. As the night progresses, you need to ensure you are present at the same approximate time, matching your description. For example, one witness says you are wearing a blood-stained shirt. Is this the victim’s blood? Yours? A bystander’s? The game is flexible enough to give you several options.

At key points, the action freezes, and the “judge” comes into the scene, asking for clarification on specific details – basically testing why your story doesn’t match those of eye-witnesses. You also can access a written notebook that will tell you the key times, and some suggestions about how you can alter the facts in your favor. A lawyer is available for discussion, or you can dismiss him and go on your own.

I appreciated the premise of the game, and it was relatively short. Graphically, it’s acceptable for the need, but thematically is where it really shines. Color me pleasantly surprised by this one. 7.3 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #554 on: May 13, 2019, 11:39:55 AM »
Adam’s Venture: Origins is really a “meh” kind of game, which is a shame as it attempts to ride the line between the Uncharted and Broken Sword styles. The game takes place in the 1920s and is split fairly evenly between action pieces and puzzles. However, the title character is an ass, and over 4 hours of gameplay, I found no common bond with him, or frankly with any of the other characters.

The settings are at least interesting, with Adam “venturing” into crypts and caves, exploring the mythical Garden of Eden and Solomon’s Tomb, and sneaking through Jerusalem and other biblical locales. Level design is sufficient, with some larger areas, and a couple of interesting mine-cart rides.

Puzzles run from challenging to impossible, such that I had to bounce out of the game to consult a walk-through about a third of the time. And the puzzles are prevalent throughout every aspect of the game. Want to turn on a light or a projector? You need to figure out which fuses go where, or how your spool of film will play. It’s honestly overkill, but without the puzzles, the game would only be a couple of hours, I’m sure.

Really, though, a couple of hours is all we need to spend with Adam and Evelyn – Get it? Adam and Eve exploring the Garden of Eden? Subtle enough for you? Adam is an insufferable prick for the most part, has horrible “jokes”, and demeans Evelyn nonstop for her intelligence. Thankfully, Evelyn calls him out for all of his asinine actions, but we’re not playing as her in the game. And even to the end of the game, he hasn’t learned any lessons.

Character movement is really wonky too. When you run and happen to turn a corner, Adam’s whole body leans in an angle toward that direction and then straightens up when you do. Mouths often don’t move during cut-scenes, characters stand in awkward poses – it’s all just weird.

I really can’t recommend this unless you get this for just a couple dollars like I did. I did like some of the settings, and the puzzles were often just the right amount of challenge, but the main character and the lack of an overriding story make this a miss for me. 5.9 out of 10

 

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