Author Topic: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread  (Read 98877 times)

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #570 on: October 28, 2019, 10:22:04 AM »
Shadowrun Hong Kong returns to the very successful setting of the Shadowrun universe as established in Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun Dragonfall. At its core, SHK is a top-down isometric role-playing game where elves, trolls and dwarves exist in a universe with cyberpunk aesthetics. You get to choose your race, sex and some preliminary traits, and as you play can narrow down what type of character type you wish to play: hacker, brute, wizard, etc. I eventually honed my rifle and hacking skills, although I was able to develop a team with all sorts of characters to bring along on my adventures.

SHK immediately throws you in the deep end, as you depart a boat after being released from prison, and meet your foster-brother in Hong Kong – all to satisfy a request of your foster father to find him. Within 5 minutes, a firefight kills your main contact and puts you and your foster brother on the run from everyone. Your only hope for survival is to become a Shadowrunner for a Hong Kong kingpin. And she has certain goals for you, in order to pay off the debt for saving your lives.

SHK has a deeper storyline than just simple Shadowrunning tasks of murder and mayhem, but this arc doesn’t come to the forefront until later in the game. In the meantime, you’ll need to meet up with folks, grab information, make some examples, and uncover the truth of the underlying mystery: what happened to your foster father, and why did he want you to come to Hong Kong? The story takes a strong supernatural turn in the finale and gives you several endings to contemplate.

The home base port is full of characters that you can chat up, and eventually help them come to a conclusion – good or ill – for their own personal lives. Some folks provide helpful information or gear, based on your interactions. And this is where SHK excels – in giving you a variety of ways to relate with others: maybe you have a high persuasion skill and can bluff your way through a situation. Or maybe your strength or hacking skills allow you to brute force the scenario. I loved that I could actually get out of fights just by saying the right thing.

But when fights did arise, the game switches to a turn-based arena, where you have a certain number of action points and can move, fight, cast a spell, heal, hack, etc. within that time. Early in the game, until my own hacking skills were up to snuff, I generally brought a hacker, a decker who controlled a drone (as this provided an additional “man” on the team”), and a soldier. Later, I switched the hacker out for a mage, who could heal, make the team move faster or aim better, and cause area-of-effect spells.

You also can hold conversations with your individual team members (or hire outside mercenaries for missions, which I never did). Doing so allows you to advance their own stories, giving you new missions pertinent to them, and makes them more effective with their weapons and skills. It was also cool to hear what made them who they were. Unfortunately, the only way to really get the most out of your conversations was the “honey” approach – to tell them what you thought they most wanted to hear. If you went the “vinegar” route and crapped on all their ideas, they wouldn’t warm up to you, and you’d lose out on the extra missions.

Within missions, you can occasionally jack into the “Matrix” – an online landscape with its own foes. Sometimes you can sneak past, but generally you would have to fight several enemies. Here’s where an experienced hacker comes in handy, because they have sufficient life to both fight their foes and then break into closed areas to download pertinent information or to turn on/off outside elements such as alarms, elevators, doors and vents. Breaking in consists of either knowing a password from something found in the “real” world, brute-forcing a break-in if you have enough life left, or playing a dual game of numerical Simon Says with a match game – all with a decreasing timer in the background. The Matrix sessions were mostly fun, but I hated the Simon Says portion because you have to memorize from 4 to 8 numbers and instantly regurgitate them.

After the finale, I played the add-on “Shadows Of Hong Kong” – a 6-hour addition to the 48-hour main campaign. Shadows answers a number of lingering questions from the main campaign and introduces a new threat to Hong Kong that you and your team must solve. Beware though, because actions you take at the end will mean you lose some of your team forever. It’s a poignant turn to your story.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and flow of Shadowrun Hong Kong – you have a diversity of mission types, you can choose to fight or maneuver around obstacles, and the characters – both on your team in out in the world – are interesting and add depth to the story. 8.7 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #571 on: November 04, 2019, 11:21:16 AM »
Zombi originally came out as a WiiU exclusive, and the PC port still shows those roots. The game is a decent entry into the first-person zombie genre by providing the unique setting of London and a new perma-death mechanic incorporating “new” protagonists. But the gameplay and graphics are hampered by the WiiU roots.

The game starts with your recruitment by a survivalist who calls himself the Prepper. He has access to most of London’s CCTV cameras, and provides access to a safe room in a local Metro subway station. Your first task is to turn on the generator and clear out some of the zombies who have managed to get in, with a cricket bat, pistol and flashlight (or “torch” since this is London) as your starting gear. Zombi’s zombies are mostly of the shambling type, and can fling themselves over small walls or crawl along the floor – no true “fast” zombies here, fortunately.

So after you get the safe room cleared out, the Prepper will ask you to complete other tasks to boot up more of the cameras to which he doesn’t have access, gain food supplies, gain petrol to keep the generator running, and more. He also espouses his views about how the plague that has overtaken mankind is essentially necessary to ensure humans don’t cause significant damage to the planet. While away from the safe room, you also are contacted by a military channel, and their view is greatly at odds with the Prepper. They think they can develop a cure for the pandemic, but they need your help as boots on the ground.

Along the way, you are able to gain better gear, including more effective melee weapons, and all manner of rifles, assault weapons and sub-machine guns. You also receive a scanner/radar, which allows you to target items of interest, including enemies, doors and items for pick-up. C-4 charges, which are hard to find, allow you to open blocked passageways – sometimes you’ll need to do this to open up the next location, or maybe you’ll just find some new rare items.

Your pistols and rifles can be modified with special items to make them more effective. Unfortunately, ammo is relatively rare, so you might not even find additional bullets for certain weapons even if you enhance them. This is perhaps a more realistic tone to take with a large city under zombie siege.

It also means you’ll have to get close and personal with many zombies, because you won’t have any range weapons. This whole facet of gameplay is probably where I had the most physical challenge. You see, to wield any weapon – melee or gun – you have to first bring it up and constantly “hold” it with the Right Mouse button, and then you have to “attack” with the Left Mouse button. Having to constantly manipulate 2 buttons to simply attack your enemy got me killed several times, because I just couldn’t act fast enough before I’d get overwhelmed and bitten. This mechanic was definitely a holdover from the WiiU format.

But death also brings about an interesting new dynamic. When you die, you become a zombie, with all your gear that you are carrying. The Prepper, meanwhile, will attract another survivor to the safe room, and you then take over this new character. You can opt to just use the gear in your storage cache at the safe room, or you can go attack your former self and get all your gear back that was lost. I thought this was a really neat way to use perma-death as a punishment and a reward.

Graphically, the game really suffers and shows a lower-gen look. I could never get the graphics to look very sharp and the whole thing appeared a little “muddy”, for lack of a better term. The light/dark zones were very hit and miss, because if you aimed for a dark black shadow, then you effectively can’t see anything on your sides. So I basically went with about 65 to 70 percent brightness.

The game separates into about a dozen or so zones, that are accessible by transition levels that are exactly the same layout. As you play through each map, you might find a sewer exit that then grants fast-pass access to other sewers or even to the safe room. You’ll also occasionally find both beds, where you can sleep and save your game, and workbenches, where you can modify your guns. Take note that even if you pass into a new zone, the game doesn’t save! So I would constantly return back to the safe room or a bed to save, if I was about to enter a new area.

The story is fine, and there are some legitimate scares, but mostly because you’d get attacked and not have your weapon at the ready. The London setting was not really used to its fullest, as the game felt like it could have literally taken place in any location. There was a nice swerve toward the ending that was unexpected and threw me for a loop, and the actual ending is somewhat frantic.

So overall, kind of an average FPS and zombie game. I would probably recommend something like Dead Island or Dying Light instead, unless you really need to play another zombie game. 7.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #572 on: November 11, 2019, 10:12:47 AM »
When I was younger, I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but never got into Agatha Christie’s titles with Hercule Poirot – possibly because I didn’t know how to pronounce his name. But my recent playthrough of Microids’ Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders showcased a decent point-and-click mystery.

The story follows a murderer who is targeting people by their name, linking the letters to a similar-lettered town – like killing Abigail Adams in Aberdeen. The assailant sends Poirot a letter, and leaves a copy of the train schedule as a calling card after each murder. At this point, Poirot investigates the crime scene and begins to stockpile clues and suspects for the final showdown.

Upon gathering sufficient clues – some of which may require completing mechanical logic puzzles like opening up locked boxes – Poirot will segue into a logic session. He then asks himself a question, and you try to solve it with the clues you have, some of which may be red herrings, and some of which may not pan out until the ending.

Using these logic sessions, Poirot can narrow down the list of suspects, and actually pulls all of them into a single room to unmask the perpetrator. Some of the suspects may match a significant number of the clues, but only one matches all the clues.

The cel-shaded art style is very unique, with layers placed upon each other to generate a 2.5D background. The locales are nicely developed and the up-close models are also nicely done. Sound is generally good for Poirot and his assistant, but some of the other characters don’t fare as well.

Overall, this was a quick but pleasant murder mystery. 7.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #573 on: November 18, 2019, 05:11:14 PM »
What started as a truly unique game premise quickly spiraled downward the longer I played. INFRA is a first-person structural analysis simulator, developed in the Source engine. Throughout my gameplay, I was constantly reminded how much the game felt like a Half-Life 2 mod – mostly because of the assets used, but also due to the mechanical puzzles you’d have to solve, and the vast number of challenges that constantly assail you.

INFRA takes place in the city of Stalburg (possibly in Germany, or at least in Eastern Europe). Your name is Mark and you work for a company that has been hired by the city to monitor and correct structural integrity issues throughout the city. Your assignment for the day is to visit the water treatment zone and see what, if anything, needs to be repaired. What transpires is the longest day EVER, with you having to repair, and oftentimes escape catastrophe.

I really loved the premise, that this is a non-violent first-person game where all you do is take photos to document things that need to get fixed. But unfortunately, the rest of the game is non-stop electrical and mechanical puzzles – some of which are truly esoteric and near-impossible to decipher without a guide. The main puzzle of starting the water pumps system is required to access a very important secret area later in the game.

The game also is too long, for my personal tastes. It could have stood to be half the length to really be something special that stood out. But the length made me hate to play the final chapters because of how taxing the puzzles were, and how something was always breaking down that you’d have to figure out how to fix.

The game did have some truly unique destinations, and when you did figure out the puzzles on your own, it was a truly magical experience. But everywhere you look, something needs to be fixed. And this is the heart and soul of the overarching storyline, which I won’t share because it’s a bit of a spoiler. Everything that is going wrong should make sense once you gather sufficient evidence.

Graphically, the Source engine is looking creaky, but the developers really eke every bit of mileage they can out of it. Some areas do have a HL2 feel, while others have different textures not seen before. The developers also tried to create some awe-inspiring vistas and areas to visit, with occasional teases of what is to come. Within the game, there are hundreds of repair spots, documents, GPS caches and more to find. If you gather sufficient repairs and documents, you can enter a secret area at the very end, but I was unable to do so myself.

Other than the game’s length, my other huge gripe was the protagonist Mark’s voice. It was really, really bad and totally took me out of the game every time he would speak. INFRA has a stellar idea as its core basis, and the mechanical and engineering puzzles are nicely integrated throughout each level. But the sheer length of the game and the poor voice work were detrimental to the overall package. 7.3 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #574 on: November 25, 2019, 07:53:23 AM »
Virginia provides an interesting gaming conceit by going completely without any dialogue – written or spoken. All context comes from the characters you meet, and clues in your vicinity. And as such, it can often be challenging to understand what is truly happening within the story.

You are Anne Tarver and have just joined the FBI as a field agent. For your first case, you need to look into a murder committed several hours away in a small Virginia town. But your superior also tasks you with conducting an internal investigation on the side into fellow agent Maria Halperin. Although Maria initially greets you with a cold shoulder, over the course of the investigation, she opens up a little at a time. By the end, you have come to know what secrets she is harboring, and must make your own decision on whether to report her indiscretions. The murder case itself is also a bit of a surprise ending.

The graphical style is simple but engaging with warm color tones. Although not photo-realistic, the characters are expressive, so that even without words, you mostly understand what they are implying with their actions. And the music is hauntingly gorgeous.

I regret that the game is little more than a walking simulator and click-fest, but the short story (about 2 hours) may deserve a second playthrough to gain a fuller understanding of everything you experienced. 6.8 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #575 on: December 02, 2019, 03:44:46 PM »
Color me surprised by this one!! Valley offers fast-paced gameplay interspersed with a unique and original story. And the game shines graphically, with some gorgeous level design.

You are a researcher who thinks they have found a mysterious “Life Seed”, only accessible in a particular location in the Rocky Mountains.  Upon arrival, you are trapped and wander out of a cave into a stunning valley filled with life and unique creatures. Very quickly you find a LEAF (Leap Effortlessly though Air Functionality) suit, which was created toward the end of World War 2. With the LEAF suit, you can run faster, leap higher, and even take or restore life to other living plants and animals. The LEAF suit allows you to access new locations, and it can be enhanced over time with new features, including supersonic running, double jumping, rope swinging, running on water, and more. And if you happen to die, the LEAF suit will suck up life from your surroundings and bring you back.

You’ll quickly start hearing messages left behind by previous occupants of the valley, and can seek out additional scattered writings to glean more information on what happened to everyone. Most notably, the Life Seed you are seeking was at the heart of many experiments in this particular valley – all designed to gain more warfare capacity and help the Allies win WW2. Unfortunately, grandiose egos pushed the valley’s resources to the limits, only stopping once saboteurs were able to act.

The first-person platforming elements are challenging but mostly fair – when you get past them, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. And when you can run down hills or along a supersonic electrified track, you feel a whiff of speed like I haven’t seen in many games before. Combine the speed and jumps with the opportunity to swing from cables, and you’ll feel like a superhero by the end.

Collecting orbs to ensure your LEAF suit works properly does grow tiring, but it at least gives you an excuse to seek out hidden notes and power-ups. You’ll also come across a few enemies that can be banished by using the LEAF suit’s “remove life” function. And when enemies and trees drop acorns, those can eventually be traded in to open locked areas that lead to more notes and power-ups.

The game moves along pretty quickly, with gorgeous scenery throughout, and the constant story reminders will keep you on track with your next move. I enjoyed jumping through the air with a resounding thud when I landed, and the breakneck speeds that I achieved in an underground mine. And by the end, I understand how special this Valley was, and what needed to be done to protect it. 8.1 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #576 on: December 08, 2019, 11:23:46 PM »
The first Mirror’s Edge (which I reviewed here) had a unique premise of first-person parkour in a proto-futuristic setting. At the time I griped that the game should have let you spend more time playing about in the open game world, removed the challenging gunplay, and lowered the need to fight every guard you see.

The newer Mirror’s Edge Catalyst took some of these concerns to heart and offered up a revised prequel that shows us how Faith from the original game earned her skills in the city. Catalyst clocked in at 34 hours playtime for me, and I was probably at 75% of the full game’s potential -- having run through the story missions but skipped some of the optional side missions.

Catalyst has structure in the story missions that are parceled out, but it also gives the player agency to seek out a variety of other missions that generally are timed, get from Point A to Point B scenarios, but sometimes also toss in a fragile object that you have to keep safe while traversing the City. You also can pull security cards from wall-mounted units and collect floating spheres scattered about. An optional challenging puzzle required Faith to reprogram video screens, and sometimes this was an exercise in both logic and precise jumping skills. Although all these various tasks could get monotonous when you failed, you could try alternate routes to improve your overall finish times.

The actual parkour is pretty smooth and you can upgrade your skills by doing the various side missions and earning credits. For the first time, I actually got a little nauseous with the first-person view when Faith had to climb higher and higher, looking down below. The graphics engine does an incredible job of keeping everything in perspective.

Per the story, you have just been released from a stint in juvie, and your previous handler wants you to come work for him again. Along the way, you’ll find out more about your own personal history, what happened to your parents, who the good and bad folks in the City are, and how to navigate through the City’s diverse districts.

Catalyst does require Faith to engage with guards throughout a variety of locales – some who are unarmed, some armed with guns and rockets, and some with electro sticks. You cannot pick up a weapon so each of these foes requires a specific way to disarm and knock them out. Some of these instances feel like arenas with guard after guard coming after you. But nothing feels so good as when you jump off a wall and plant a foot right in their face, breaking their helmets or stunning them into unconsciousness.

Catalyst provides an engaging world, fun and thrilling side tasks, and gorgeous graphics to back up a lengthy story. Definitely an improvement on the original, and I hope they’ll consider a third. 8.4 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #577 on: December 16, 2019, 01:27:28 PM »
What Remains of Edith Finch is yet another walking sim, but it does break the mold slightly with a diversity of side stories as you move forward in the story. We play as Edith Finch, a young woman who left home several years prior, and is now returning to her family home to reconnect with her past.

Edith is a pleasant narrator, and as she engages with the history of her diverse and offbeat family members, she relates the tale of the “Finch Family Curse”, which has taken all her family from her, one by one. The Finch family have a bizarre backstory, arriving as immigrants and then building a home with elaborate but cozy rooms all on top of one another, which are eventually sealed shut as each member passes. The most enjoyable part of the game is to explore a new room via the secret passageways that line the house. And within each room, you can see how the family members lived, and then explore their story personally, as you get pulled into their lives to live out specific moments before returning to the present.

These stories provide a mix of play-styles. One family member turns into a host of animals that leap, fly and swim. Another puts you in the shoes of a horror movie actress. Another confuses reality with daydreams. But each story is unique and different. Once you live through their stories, the family member is inked into a family history that you are preparing and narrating.

The graphics driving the game are really gorgeous, and use different methods specific to each family story. In between the stories, you get to explore the house and its environs, which are rendered nicely.

This is a poignant short story, but the graphics and individual stories make this a must-play. 7.8 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #578 on: December 23, 2019, 10:45:38 AM »
Sagebrush is a quick (90-minute) narrative adventure FPS, set at a former religious cult’s compound in New Mexico. You can pick up a few items along the way, but you mostly need to be observant and follow the provided clues.

The pixelated retro graphics are minimalist but this does allow the story to be more relevant. And it’s a haunting story, told through tape recordings and a few cut-scenes. It’s the story of an idealistic young woman who graduated with a degree, but found she couldn’t find a job. As her depression grew, she turned away from her family and her religion, and she ran away. But then one day she found Perfect Heaven, and she was accepted into a new family and able to contribute to its success. Until one day it all came crashing down. Now you – as an older, wiser version of that young woman – have returned to take stock of what happened during that pivotal time in your life.

Sagebrush takes some liberties with cult-like followings, but does effectively detail what life is like under a charismatic leader who eventually starts to bend the wrong way over time. You must look around, find keys, listen to recordings and read notes, to find your (mostly) direct path. Over time, you unlock the entirety of the ranch, and explore locations that filled you with fear and with gladness. You also see the depravity that was unleashed, accompanied by a haunting score.

At times, the pixelated artwork does get in the way of finding small items, especially at night. However, Sagebrush is worth the short time commitment, and you may find yourself wanting to know more about Perfect Heaven and the other stories it could tell. 7.9 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #579 on: December 30, 2019, 12:44:30 PM »
Some more recommendations from Steam’s Free Games selections, and my highest recommendations marked by (*).

Plasticity is a 2.5D side-scroller with an environmental message. Run, jump, pull/push items, and throw trash in trash cans.

Haunted Gas Station is a short but effective first-person horror game with great jump-scares. Can you make it out alive?

(*)Perspective is just as clever as the original Portal. You have an on-screen avatar that can become larger or smaller depending on your distance to it (or its “perspective”). Further, this avatar is able to walk on blue lines, so if you move around the room and line up specific objects, you can move your avatar across the room with ease. This game defies easy explanation, so just go play it!

Vital Demo is akin to Qube and similar first-person puzzle games, except you use spheres to enlarge, shrink, rocket and destroy objects. You are located in a fantasy setting of floating islands, and need to get across the gap using these tools.

Cubico is a marble-roller game, but set in a huge, funky, candy-colored playground. Besides rolling, you also can raise/lower select areas to get you from a lower location to a higher one, or even to protect you from harm.

Dreamscaper Demo is a hack-and-slash set within a young woman’s mind, where you’ll fight demons that affect her mental state. Each “run” is randomly created and consists of small, interlocked levels – some with foes, and others with puzzles or lockboxes that you can use a key to get a random piece of gear.

Lust in the Dark: Prologue is a wholly separate small story that gives you a taste of the full game coming out in 2020. You serve as a member of a cult that savors carnal desires, but which also has a link to another dimension of fear, desire and pain. In this prologue, you’ll play a short adventure to gather some items, learn about the cult, and visit that other realm.

Einar is a first-person hack-and-slash set in a Nordic environment. Controls are a little glitchy and are built for Xbox controller over keyboard, but once those are figured out, the scenery and character models are pretty good.

The Black Masses has a lot of potential, but the demo needs some significant work. Notably, I couldn’t even attack any of the horde! Maybe this was because I started in offline mode…. But also the lighting was extremely bad, and I needed to run around with a lantern on in the middle of the day to see anything. Worth keeping an eye on to see where it finally lands in 2020.

In Passing is a challenging platformer set in a fantastic setting but unfortunately, whatever story it attempts to impart – via text that pops up on the screen – is negated because you don’t have time to look anywhere but where you’re leaping next.

(*)The Luminist is extremely well-done, with good graphics, a good story and sympathetic protagonist, a unique setting in an underground cityscape, challenging monsters, and a harrowing escape at the end. Definitely a must-play!

Kingdom of Rhea has potential but right now is a mixed bag. It’s a medieval, third-person hack-and-slash, but no story or direction to tell you what to do. You basically run around a large open map – and the world is actually very attractive – kill some things and that’s it. There’s no exploration (that I could tell), things to gather or craft, etc. Most alarming is the motion blur, which actually gave me a headache after only 10 minutes of play time. Controls also need work. But it’s free.

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #580 on: January 06, 2020, 10:31:12 AM »
I’m probably in the minority, but I honestly found the overall experience of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to be very boring and tonally uneven.

The game takes up from the prologue mission Ground Zeroes (reviewed earlier here), where Snake’s organization is dismantled and destroyed before his eyes. Phantom Pain starts up 8 years later with Snake in a hospital after waking from a coma.

This first mission has some excellent design, as Snake has been drugged and can barely drag himself along the floor to escape. As the mission continues, he regains more motor function so that he can start hobbling on one leg by leaning on the wall. And when enemy soldiers come into the hospital and kill everyone indiscriminately, those infirmities become a significant liability. With an added supernatural element of a burning man who seemingly cannot be stopped, this initial mission is exciting and frantic. All of which makes the rest of the game so utterly infuriating.

After reconnecting with one of your comrades, you are tasked with recreating a paramilitary organization to get revenge on the foes who took you down 8 years prior. Your first task is to free another comrade so that he can oversee the development of a new naval base. You are thus dropped off in the canyons of Afghanistan, to infiltrate a small village where your buddy is being held, and get him out alive.

At first blush, the open(ish)-area warzone in Afghanistan is gorgeous. The golden landscape is intricately detailed, with atmospheric effects such as sandstorms and the passage of time both aiding and hindering your missions. However, the Afghan landscape essentially restricts you to the valleys between each town – you can’t go over a mountain to come upon a city from the back, which actually limits your options. After about a dozen missions in Afghanistan, you’ll open missions in Africa. This second location is a large truly open-area map, with reddish hues punctuated by green trees and small rivers. This area you can roam all around and are not hedged into canyons like in Afghanistan.

Regardless of location, all your missions are essentially the same: sneak in, assassinate or extract assets, or follow assets to another location to glean more information for future missions. This mostly requires you to approach each mission site as slowly and quietly as possible – generally crawling or hunched over; going in balls-out results in some significant damage that you may not escape.

Most significantly, you’ll have to backtrack many many times to complete your main mission and various side objectives (which in themselves are critical because you need their rewards to develop a successful base). You will visit every location on each map at least 3-4 times, which I found extremely monotonous, especially as they’re not exciting destinations for the most part.

I will state that the stealth aspect is really incredible, and you can go from a 100% ghost option usually to 100% attack-mode, or a mixture of both, to accomplish your objectives. A few story missions do stand out and bring back some of the prologue’s supernatural elements. And there is also a large Transformer-type robot that you must eventually face down.

Perhaps my biggest gripe then is that the story is ridiculous, like something a 10-year-old wrote, and the dialogue is cloying and obnoxious. The supposed “heroes” of the story are actually huge jerks, engaging in torture of women, children and cripples. I was not rooting for them in any sense by the end of my playthrough of “Act 1.” At this point, the game abruptly ends, or it forces you to replay the same damn levels again under harder circumstances to glean just a few more story chunks. Since I’m not a Metal Gear fanboy, I just booted up some YouTube videos to see what I was missing, and apparently the story still remains unfinished even if you complete all missions and objectives.

The Phantom Pain has plenty of gameplay, as I finished Act 1 with about 85 hours, but the overall pacing was definitely off, and the need to replay each objective multiple times felt like filler. I haven’t even gone into the whole “creating a Mother Base” aspect as that again felt like another mini-game to fill in the shallow gameplay. There is also a “forced” multi-player aspect where you can attack other player’s bases and they can attack yours, which just felt shoved into the overall game. All of these make the excellent stealth-action gameplay a mixed bag, because you have to play through these other elements to finish the game. I know many players like that, but not me. 7.4 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #581 on: January 13, 2020, 12:58:48 PM »
What would you do to save the love of your life? Would you turn back time if you had the chance? Those are the ideas that Last Day of June explore in a short adventure game.

It’s hard to describe the game without getting into spoilers, so I’ll just provide some background. You and your wife live in a small village, with several interesting neighbors. Each character speaks gibberish and only has rudimentary eyes with no mouth, but you still understand how they are feeling – sad, elated, angry, etc. – by how their bodies move. It’s very effective at helping you pay attention to every detail, which is critical as the game continues.

Lush, color-saturated pastels provide glorious ambience as you wade in and out of the past, seeking some path to stop the heartless thing that destroyed your life. Just as you find some way to acceptably negate what happened, fate throws another wrench in your direction, time after time. The game mechanics can become a little frustrating as you have to replay videos over and over, but that repetition actually assists you in making your next choice because you understand how things happen.

Last Day of June is a lovely little game, filled with melancholy and heart. 8.4 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #582 on: January 21, 2020, 07:51:04 AM »
The Flame In the Flood is an extremely frustrating game. I made just two trips down the River and quit in disgust after dying.

The game is a “rogue-lite” survival game that resets upon each play-through. You serve as a little girl who is trying to make her way down the River, but has to eat, stay healthy, and collect gear to keep her raft going. You are accompanied by a faithful dog, who also can carry some supplies. Each time I died, I got eaten by a wolf, because I hadn’t collected enough items to keep it away. This is a problem with such a game where you aren’t given appropriate skills or gear early on.

The mechanics of steering the raft between stops is generally fine, but your success very much depends on the randomization of what the stops are along the River, and what gear and supplies they may hold. Add in the survival elements, where you immediately start to die of thirst and hunger and illness, and it just wasn’t something I wanted to continue playing. 6.2 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #583 on: January 27, 2020, 09:29:24 AM »
Orwell presents a disturbing glimpse into a near-future where anyone can be spied upon, and facts can be manipulated based on the context. As a game, it’s fascinating because everything takes place based upon what you are reading, and then which facts you pass along.

As the game starts, you have just been hired to independently review cases for the police. However, even before you can get your personal log-in information, a huge bomb explosion takes place that kills citizens and destroys property. You are quickly tasked with investigating who may have done this, and why. Starting with one lead suspect, you gradually add more leads and new suspects by reading about their lives, and actually deep-diving into their personal history via technology, including their phone, computer, work, bank account, social media and more. Your computer system will tag potential clues and let you know if they have been corroborated elsewhere, or if you need to search some more. Once you believe you have found pertinent information, you can upload it to the lead investigator for review. It's important to note that the investigator is operating blindly only with what you send him, so you can accidentally share information that might be taken out of context.

The “game” part of Orwell is relatively simple as you are reading pages of data, and then trying to find linkages with other people – all to determine who caused the bombing and why. Graphics are simple, and occasional videos will play highlights of actions.

At the end, you must determine whether you want to be associated with an organization that has such ultimate power, and can so easily make a mistake that might result in a suspect’s death or wrongful incarceration. It’s a heady proposition, and made even more scary by the thought of how easily such a system could take place in our current world. 8.6 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #584 on: February 03, 2020, 11:20:43 AM »
The Turing Test is a wholly familiar game to anyone who has played first-person puzzlers like Portal or Qube or their myriad of imitators: you’re stranded in a facility with a talky AI and have to pass a series of tests using some form of “gun”. In this case, your “gun” allows you to suck up power cores from across a room, and then shoot them as needed into appropriate receptacles. When powered correctly, the receptacles will enact some action, from opening doors to turning on bridges and stairs to powering robots. While the mechanics were interesting, they weren’t so complicated that I couldn’t figure out the vast majority of the 70 levels.

What makes The Turing Test stand out in my mind was the late-game reveal of who you are, and your true role in the scenario. This definitely makes the game work, even with the more simplistic gameplay mechanics. 7.5 out of 10

 

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