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Average User Score: 7.9Jul 15, 2017Ziggurat is a fantasy-themed FPS roguelike game. You play as an apprentice wizard sent into the titular Ziggurat as a test to prove yourZiggurat is a fantasy-themed FPS roguelike game. You play as an apprentice wizard sent into the titular Ziggurat as a test to prove your worth, killing waves of monsters in rooms and fighting your way through five levels (and five bosses) to complete the game.
While the idea of wielding magic instead of weapons seems really cool, if that’s why you came here, you’re apt to be disappointed; the weapons in this game are wands, staves, magic spell books, and alchemic devices, but a lot of them more or less function like various common weapons (shotguns and rifles, most notably). Your wand is your default, infinite ammo weapon which slowly recharges itself over time; it fires relatively quickly, or you can do an alternate shotgun blast fire which is a bit slower.
The other weapons are randomized and found in the first room of each level of the dungeon (and occaisionally elsewhere in a level as a treasure). There’s a fair number of weapons in the game, and you will only see half a dozen or so on any given playthrough. They are of pretty mixed quality; some weapons are clearly much better than others, but their presence or absence is totally random. Sometimes you’ll find a great weapon right off the bat; other times you’ll find a terrible one deep in the Ziggurat.
Each of the three categories of weapons – spellbooks, staves, and alchemic devices – have their own mana pool, which serves as ammunition. All weapons have two firing modes, a primary and a secondary, with the secondary typically being a more powerful but slower-firing version of the primary, generally simply launching 2-3 times as many projectiles, generally in a broader spread; some weapons subvert this, with the alternate fire being a faster fully automatic fire mode.
The player starts out with just two characters who have generally balanced stats unlocked, but as the game is played more the player unlocks additional characters. These characters have unbalanced stats, generally specializing in one particular weapon or another, sometimes starting out with equipment, sometimes having special perks that make them faster or fire faster with one weapon (and slower with others) or a limited health pool but more mana, ect. These don’t change things up too much, but they do make some difference, particularly in the early game, where your starting weapon apart from your wand is entirely dependent on what the Ziggurat throws at you.
The various weapons have various effects, but most of them are comparable to various standard weapons – grenades that blow up on impact, automatic weapons, shotguns, ect. There are some which have odder effects and feel more different from the standard fare – one weapon fired a bunch of bouncing projectiles along the floor, another one shot out enemy-seeking rings, and a third froze enemies it shot. While such weapons exist, they’re mixed in with a lot of weapons which feel very standard, and unfortunately some of these weird weapons are just not very good (the bouncing along the ground weapon, for instance, is terrible against flying foes, which make up a large portion of the endgame enemies).
As the player kills enemies, they drop experience crystals, mana, and healing potions, and the player must collect them before they disappear, preventing the player from simply standing back and mowing down enemies from a long range (though most weapons are ill-suited for such anyway). This encourages a more aggressive and constantly moving style of play.
As the player gains experience, they level up, gaining a marginal amount of hit points and mana to all their mana pools, restoring them all somewhat, and gaining the choice between one of two randomized level-up benefits. As the player plays more, they unlock more randomized benefits, and some things will give them access to additional choices at level up during a particular play-through. In addition, the player can also be powered up by a few random rooms, which contain additional free level-up cards or various treasures hidden behind platforming puzzles, none of which are particularly difficult to solve and which seem to repeat very frequently (I only saw two puzzles, but I saw both of them multiple times – twice in the same playthrough, in fact).
Sadly, while all of this sounds okay, that’s really all that can be said about the game – it is okay. The enemies are never all that exceptional, the game actually becomes rather routine the later you get into it as the greater number of enemies means that you get more health and ammo back to spam your powerful weapons with, and there just isn't that much variety in the gameplay - just more of the same, by and large.
If you liked Tower of Guns, this is more of the same, but if you're looking for something memorable, this isn't that.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3Jul 11, 2017Hyper Light Drifter is a top-down (or perhaps more accurately, a 3/4ths view) action game. You play as the drifter, a swordsman with the powerHyper Light Drifter is a top-down (or perhaps more accurately, a 3/4ths view) action game. You play as the drifter, a swordsman with the power to dash (or perhaps, “drift”) a fair distance in a straight line, which is used for platforming (of sorts – there is no jumping, but many gaps need to be cleared) as well as for dodging attacks and navigating over some hazards.
It is a stylish game with solid pixel art and a decent variety of enemies and environments.
Unfortunately, it also is a game where some seemingly minor control issues cause some frustrating problems, and several bits of content feel like they are vastly more difficult than the rest of the game, making them take a long time to beat and stretching out the game’s length far beyond what it should be.
The core of the game is the dash, the sword, and a small repertoire of guns. You start out with just a basic attack with your sword, but over time you can buy the ability to charge up your sword attacks, make dash attacks, deflect projectiles, and even do a multi-dash ability where you chain together dashes one after another.
The guns are okay on the whole, but sadly, it is unlikely that the player will use most of them; the starting pistol, the shotgun, and the rifle are the three best weapons, due to their speed, damage, and penetration respectively. The other three weapons all feel of pretty marginal value and to generally be outclassed; I only tried them out shortly before replacing them, and unfortunately the shotgun’s high damage is just so useful for dispatching high-hit point enemies you’re likely to use it most of the time after you get it.
This multi-dash ability, however, is likely to be a source of great frustration to players. The timing on it is very precise and isn’t very regular; each consecutive dash has to be done faster than the last one (well, up to a limit of a dozen dashes, after which point it reaches a limit, but that’s mostly irrelevant in actual gameplay) and the timing is very specific. If you press too early, you can’t press again and dash; you’ll stop. If you press too late, there is lag on the end of the move that prevents you from doing another dash, even though there is no animation associated with said lag period.
And this is extremely frustrating for the few sections of the game where this ability is required; players may spend an inordinate amount of time on six or so puzzles in the game which require the multi-dash. Half of them can be overcome by heavy use of healing kits if you are struggling, but the rest simply must be done correctly, or else the player must start them over.
Over and over and over again.
This can potentially absorb very large amounts of the player’s time, and is not much fun. Indeed, I nearly uninstalled the game after the first multi-dash puzzle I encountered took me a very long time to complete.
There are also some other weird aspects to the game. For one thing, the player does suffer hitstun from some attacks, and the invulnerability period on getting hit is quite short. This means that the player can be combed by certain enemies attacking them multiple times, or even a single enemy hitting them repeatedly in some cases. This can be kind of frustrating, though it is largely avoidable outside of the arenas, where the player is more likely to get cornered and swarmed, but it happens on occasion, including on the final boss, and it can be a little irksome when it happens.
More annoying is the fact that sometimes inputs simply don’t register for some reason, or an attack passes through an enemy for no apparent reason. While this is an infrequent occurrence, there were a few points at which I used a gun in close quarters and a bullet went right through an enemy, or where I attempted to use a bomb attack and the bomb attack never registered.
This is most noticeable in the arena section of the game. A bit of content in the town unlocked after getting 12 keys, you find a series of rooms that send waves of enemies at the player. You must survive ten waves of ever increasing numbers of enemies to win. Doing this for ten rounds wouldn’t be that bad, but instead you must do it for ten rounds *five times*, in five different arenas.
This stuff felt like it was intended to fill out time, rather than to really improve the experience.
That said, the game isn’t all bad. The game includes four major areas, each with its own distinct tileset and set of enemies. There are eight bosses in the game, all of which feel distinct from each other and all of which are reasonably fun to fight against. Fighting against groups of enemies in varied environments is largely satisfying, and the game does a reasonable job of keeping things fresh for a good chunk of the game, though it does feel like all of the areas were maybe a few sets of rooms too long.
Still, I can't recommend it.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Jul 1, 2017Tomb Raider – or, as it more accurately might be called, QTEs and Shooting From Behind Waist-High Walls – is not a game about raiding tombs.Tomb Raider – or, as it more accurately might be called, QTEs and Shooting From Behind Waist-High Walls – is not a game about raiding tombs. There is only one tomb you “raid” to any meaningful extent as part of the story, and then only at the very end. If you were hoping for a large number of platforming puzzles and overcoming ancient traps and suchlike, you’re going to be disappointed.
Tomb Raider is, instead, a cinematic action game. Where the game excels is in movie-like action sequences – bits where you run through a burning building and fight your way out, or run across a disintegrating bridge, or maneuver around a boat which is being shot apart around you. It is in these scenes that the game excels and feels exciting, as Lara Croft makes her way through the environment.
Sadly, this game offers very little else that excels.
The game is ostensibly a “how Lara Croft became who she is” story, but at that, it actually doesn’t do a very good job at all. The biggest problem – which I’m afraid is kind of crucial – is that the game does a rather poor job of doing exactly that. Lara Croft apparently learned how to do many things before this game even started, as in the tutorial sections towards the beginning, she constantly refers back to things she learned from other characters. As such, this is really the first time she used those skills.
Beyond that, I don’t know who Lara Croft is by the end of the game. She is, frankly, a generic power-fantasy action hero who is kind of whiny about it. When she kills a bad guy for the first time, she freaks out a bit and cries – but this is an event which has zero meaningful emotional impact on the audience. The problem is, we’ve all killed bad guys in video games before, and this particular rendition thereof is not particularly remarkable. Worse, Lara Croft herself is a certified badass – perhaps not at the beginning of the game, but by reputation, we know that Lara Croft is one of gaming’s Big Heroes. And indeed, throughout the rest of the game, Lara Croft kills many hundreds of bad guys, with pretty much zero impact.
As such, the game is already undermining the idea that taking a life is a big deal here at all – mechanically, it isn’t, players have already done all this before, Lara Croft herself is reputationally someone who kills lots of people, and in the game she kills hundreds of people.
She is scared for much of the game, until she resolves herself at the end, but this is simply not communicated mechanically – you feel powerful as you slaughter your way through hundreds of bad guys. When she starts shaking in the cutscenes after having escaped death and gone through numerous ridiculous movie setpieces, it just doesn’t sell itself to the audience at all emotionally.
This results in a sharp disconnect between the audience and the character, and indeed, between the character in cutscenes and the character outside of cutscenes, as she is actually played. It just doesn’t work.
And this means that the entire story falls flat on its face.
The plot itself is a mess – numerous characters come in and out of the story, but the reality is that there is just no reason to care. There are at least two characters who are introduced to you and then killed off a scene later, negating any possible emotional impact their deaths might have had. The only good guy character who spends any significant amount of time with the player through much of the story is Roth, but his presence, too, is too ephemeral for the player to care about what happens to him, and his eventual fate is not something that the player feels in any way responsible for.
It doesn’t help that the characters themselves are all extremely flat. Lara talks about her dad’s theories, but we don’t get a good grasp of who were dad was. Sam, the person you’re trying to rescue, is not someone you forge any sort of meaningful emotional bond with as a player – there are a couple of flashback scenes, which I thought were there to try and establish the bonds with the absent characters, but then they end and I’m left going through the rest of the story trying to rescue someone that I have no real emotional connection to. I mean, sure, you’re going to save them – you’re the hero – but as the player, you have no reason to care. Likewise with the rest of the surviving crew, who mostly only show up towards the end of the game.
The bad guy himself is a standard crazy cult leader/survivalist, and the bad guys are dudes with guns, occasionally mixed up with dudes with machetes and a few dudes with riot shields. Almost everyone you confront throughout the game falls into those categories; there just isn’t enough variety. There’s a handful of wolves, who only feel threatening in any way at the beginning, and a tiny number of "boss-like" enemies - maybe two or three in the entire game, and none are particularly exciting.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Jun 30, 2017Overwatch is a team-based objective-based first-person shooter which relies heavily on highly differentiated characters for its diverse andOverwatch is a team-based objective-based first-person shooter which relies heavily on highly differentiated characters for its diverse and dynamic gameplay. The game includes 24 characters, each of which has a distinctive gameplay style and unique weapons and abilities. These characters are what make the game special.
There are four broad classes of characters, though in practice, two of them are often treated interchangeably. There are “Offense” heroes, characters who are focused on high mobility and dealing out lots of damage quickly, and “defense” heroes, who are more focused on zone control and dealing damage at range. There are support heroes, who are healers (plus one character who feels more like a defense character and is treated as such by the player base), and tank heroes – big, tough heroes who can take a lot more damage than their comrades and who can protect other heroes in various ways.
Within each of these, there is a lot of character variety. Offense heroes include heroes such as Tracer, a fast character who teleports around the battlefield and who can use a “recall” ability to rewind to her previous position and hit point status, whose gameplay centers around teleporting around enemies at close range and unloading her close-ranged weapons into them; Pharah, a character with a jetpack and a rocket launcher who can fly and shoot rockets at people; and Soldier 76, a fairly “normal” hero with a long-ranged assault rifle, the ability to sprint, and the ability to throw down a healing station on the ground and heal all nearby allies.
Defense heroes include sniper characters like Widowmaker, who uses a Batman-like rappel hook to get into high spots and whose weapon can transform between an assault rifle and a sniper rifle; Bastion, who can transform between a walk-around mode that fights sort of like a standard FPS hero, and a sentry form, where it turns into a gatling gun and rapidly mows down its adversaries; and Mei, a character who can create temporary ice walls, freeze enemies with her ice gun (slowing, then stunning them), and shoot icicles from range.
The support heroes range from Mercy, a character similar to the Medic from TF2 who heals a single nearby ally by pointing her stick in their general direction and holding it down to produce a healing beam, and who can fly around to allies in need of help, to characters like Zenyatta, a floating robotic monk who throws metal balls at his enemies while selecting individual allies to passively heal or enemies to passively debuff by causing them to take additional damage. Others include Lucio, a character who can ride off of walls and passively heal his allies by standing next to them, and Ana, a sniper who heals her allies by shooting them with her gun and who has a powerful tranquilizer dart which can temporarily put enemies to sleep until they take damage or as much as 8 seconds elapse.
The tank heroes include Reinhardt, a huge man in heavy metal armor with an enormous hammer, no ordinary ranged attack (though he does have an ability to launch a fireball every once in a while), and a huge shield that his allies can stand behind; Winston, a genetically-engineered gorilla who rapidly jumps around the battlefield zapping people with an area of effect gun and dropping large spherical barriers to hide under; and Roadhog, a gigantic man with a hook who punishes enemies for approaching too close in the open or attacking his allies by dealing heavy damage to those nearby.
These heroes work together as a hopefully coherent whole to try and complete map objectives. The game is heavily reliant on teamwork, and all of the heroes have their jobs to do. While everyone can deal damage, the specialities of various heroes result in different gameplay, with some characters acting as harassment, others as anchors who can protect their team and claim areas, others healing, and still others laying down large amounts of damage or inconveniencing the enemy team.
The game revolves around fairly simple battlegrounds; there are maps about capturing points while the enemy team tries to stop you; there are maps about both teams trying to capture a control point between them; and there are maps about pushing a payload through them which heals attacking heroes while they stand on it while the other team tries to stop their progress. In competitive mode, the teams switch between offense and defense on the same map, first attacking, then defending, or vice-versa.
Like all such games, this is not for everyone; after the first few hours with this game, even despite all of its seeming diversity, you will have seen just about everything the game has to offer. From there, it is all about mastery. How much enjoyment you get out of Overwatch is heavily dependent on when it goes from "fun with mastery" to "tedious repetition" for you, personally. If competitive multiplayer games bore you quickly, this will, too.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Jun 27, 2017SUPERHOT tells you to tell everyone else that it is the most innovative shooter you’ve played in years.
While this is probably true, whatSUPERHOT tells you to tell everyone else that it is the most innovative shooter you’ve played in years.
While this is probably true, what it doesn’t tell you is that the game is only about two hours long, is extremely simple, and yet retails for $25.
SUPERHOT is a very simplistic game with a very cool central mechanic – time moves at an incredibly slow rate of speed, to the point where bullets are crawling through the air towards you as they’re shot. The catch is that when you take actions – picking stuff up, moving around, firing your own weapon – time temporarily moves at normal speed.
Thus, this game is basically like being in bullet time all the time, except when you’re moving.
That is the central conceit of this game, and what little there is revolves around it. As much a puzzle game as a FPS, the real goal of this game is to figure out how to kill all of the enemies which are often coming at you from multiple directions without getting killed yourself. Time progressing at a very slow rate won’t stop you from being gunned down from behind or dying in a hail of bullets down a narrow hallway. Moreover, your own weapons have sharply limited ammo clips and rates of fire, which means that you are constantly having to throw your weapons away (stunning your enemies in the process) to nab new ones.
The game really centers around this – firing your weapon, tossing it (and whatever nearby pick-upable objects you can) at people to make them drop their weapons, grabbing the dropped weapons out of midair, and repeating the process. And in the end, while this is pretty cool in one sense, the game is very limited in another.
There’s only one type of enemy – the red dude – and there are only five types of weapon – pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, baseball bats, and katanas. The pistol fires slowly, the shotgun fires a couple of blasts before you have to toss it away, the assault rifle fires off four bullets in rapid succession with no waiting between bursts, the baseball bat is a bad melee weapon, and the katana is a one-hit kill melee weapon which can be thrown at people to impale them or even slice bullets in half in midair.
All of this SOUNDS really cool, but honestly in practice the game doesn’t feel nearly as cool as it sounds to play. I feel like the central mechanic is really neat, but the limited environments, the limited environmental interaction, the fact that I didn’t have other neat powers (like, say, wall-running or something similar), the fact that the weapons were all kind of samey, and the fact that bullets felt surprisingly slow even in supposed “real-time” all sort of contributed to the game not really feeling much like the power fantasy you’d expect. Rather, it is much more of a puzzle game, about using your attacks in the right order and positioning yourself properly while dodging bullets, as one shot will kill you and force you to start over the (very short) levels.
All in all, the game’s story mode (which is strange and does little to explain itself) takes about two hours to beat, and you’re likely to get bored with the game’s limited mechanics around the point that you beat it. There are challenge and endless modes, but there’s not much more to the game beyond that point, so what’s the point, really?
All in all, this feels like a very short diversion, and the $25 asking price is just not likely to leave you very happy. I got this as part of a bundle, and it was fine there, but as a stand-alone game, this is very much an indie project which feels sort of like a proof of concept for a future game down the line which will be much cooler.
It is somewhat interesting, but it isn’t really all that great, and it isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Innovative it may be, but it is really the most basic version of the mechanic there is; I hope someone else does something more interesting with the idea somewhere down the line.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1May 21, 2017Divide by Sheep is a pretty simple and straightforward puzzle game. The premise is that Death is lonely, and decides to collect himself someDivide by Sheep is a pretty simple and straightforward puzzle game. The premise is that Death is lonely, and decides to collect himself some animal friends. Thus, the game centers around killing cute, fuzzy creatures.
Really, the game is at its core about manipulating objects – sheep, wolves, and pigs – around a 2D environment. There are a series of platforms laid out in a grid, and each platform has anywhere between 1 and 9 spaces on it for animals to stand on. If you boot an animal over onto another platform, and there isn’t room for it, it will be ejected from it. If you put wolves onto a platform with sheep or pigs, or vice-versa, the wolves will eat the sheep/pigs and become fat and immobile, locking off spaces from landing on them. If you bounce pigs onto a platform with sheep, the pigs will land on the sheep and kill them. If anything is on a platform with a pig, only the pig will be ejected when you launch from it.
These simple rules, combined with a few other things – a fence preventing ejection between platforms; a laser cutter which chops sheep in half (but not other things), doubling the space they take up; TNT spots, which blow up if nothing is left on the platform, removing it from play; frying spots, which burn up one animal on them per move; burners, which are turned off by buttons on another platform; a portal platform, which teleports back excess animals instead of killing them; a bounce pad, which immediately ejects any animal which lands on it onto one or more adjacent platforms (some will eject onto two, splitting the animals evenly between them); and a totem, which kills anything else on the platform it is on but can be bounced around from platform to platform by the player and is otherwise invincible – make up the gameplay.
The goal is to ship out three sets of animals, in order. Boats come on the top-left of the screen, and your goal is to load exactly the right number of exactly the right kind of animal onto the boats. There are boats for each of the wolves, sheep, and pigs, as well as a boat for Death himself, which requires you to kill X many animals (making their souls appear on his boat), and a sea monster, which just requires X amount of any sort of animal (it isn’t a picky eater). There’s also a boat for a totem on a few of the levels.
The boats won’t leave until they’re filled (or overfilled), and while you only have to get one right to progress, you need to get almost all of the boats filled to unlock consecutive worlds.
Thus, the goal is to get exactly the right number of animals onto the boats using the various platforms and mechanics given to you. The game gradually introduces new mechanics over its length, adding about one new mechanic every 10-15 levels, helping it to keep itself relatively fresh as it adds ever more complexity to its puzzles.
Overall, the game has 150 levels, spanning 5 worlds, and takes somewhere on the order of 6-8 hours to 100%. It isn’t terribly hard, generally speaking, but a few of them levels require quite a bit of cleverness to solve; none of the levels takes more than a minute or so to solve correctly, but you may be stuck on them for ten times that long if you can’t figure out the right trick. It is ultimately very much math-based, and oftentimes the process of elimination is necessary to try and figure out all the ways that clearly won’t work, so you can figure out the one way that will.
This is a fairly decent puzzle game, and the mechanics work well for what it is. However, it is very simple, and unless you really enjoy simple puzzle games without much in the way of story or anything else, there’s nothing else here for you.
That being said, this is really a game you will probably enjoy more on your phone than on your PC; it isn’t a sit down and play it for hours game (though you can do so), it is more of a throwaway thing.
Overall, this is very squarely directed at a puzzle game player – the sort of simple puzzle game you might play on your phone or a similar mobile device. If you like pure puzzle games, this is a decent game. If you don’t like puzzle games, or if you like plot or purpose or anything else, this game will likely bore you.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7May 20, 2017The Turing Test is yet another first person puzzle game where the player is stuck in a strange environment with a possibly malevolent “missionThe Turing Test is yet another first person puzzle game where the player is stuck in a strange environment with a possibly malevolent “mission control” (yet another AI, this time), solving a series of puzzles to try and navigate through an environment.
In this case, you are controlling a woman called Ava Turing, who is being commanded by TOM, the AI of the mission, to go down to the surface, reacquire communications with the crew (which is rebelling against him), and to eventually help him to stop the crew from escaping Europa with an organism they found there which potentially threatens life on Earth.
The core story here is actually fairly decent – the premise of the tests being set up to prove you are human (as they are designed to keep out TOM, the AI, but not Ava, the human), as TOM is not programmed to be creative (in fact, he is specifically programmed not to be, making him inflexible and rigid – exactly what the mission needs in its AI). As you go through the tests, TOM and Ava talk about the Turing Test, the Chinese Room, and various other ideas about free will and whether or not AIs are really “intelligent”. TOM himself seems to argue both sides when convenient; he claims he is nothing more than a calculator, but clearly has feelings and emotions and gets angry when treated like nothing more than a machine.
There’s a twist about halfway through the story; I had thought it was going to be either that the whole thing was a simulation (i.e. none of it was real, it was all a test of the AI to determine how it would respond to a situation like this) or that it was going to just repeat the Bioshock plot twist straight up. Instead it went for something a bit new, which I liked, as while I’ve thought about that particular twist before, I’ve never seen a game actually do it.
Sadly, while the twist ultimately unlocks the last gameplay element, the gameplay element of looking through cameras and controlling robots and triggering switches through them is something that Watch Dogs did several years ago. And given that the other puzzle mechanics of the game are standing on switches, putting heavy things on switches, and grabbing and manipulating balls of light from a distance to put into power slots to power things… it ain’t exactly the most innovative game ever.
Indeed, the actual puzzle gameplay is just not very good. The rooms are thankfully very short, each relying on a particular bit of lateral thinking, and are mostly quite simple puzzles, with only a few really being all that long. This is mostly a good thing, but it ultimately makes the game feel a bit shallow – I never got any great sense of achievement or reward for solving the puzzles, and most of them were very easy. There were 77 puzzles in all in the game, and overall it took me about 6 hours to 100% it.
And I have to say, even on top of that, I wasn’t overly fond of the characters, either. TOM at least has some personality, but Ava is pretty bland, and by the end of it, I never really identified a single major character trait from her. The other characters – who you get to hear the audio logs of – are not particularly interesting either, with only the captain feeling like he has more than one note to his personality. And even TOM doesn’t always feel like he is written all that consistently – he argues with the crew about how he is really a person, and argues with Ava about how he isn’t. While him being two-faced and untrustworthy is a big part of the plot, it would have been nice for him to more directly acknowledge his own hypocrisy – instead, not even the characters arguing with him do so.
The result was that this game didn’t really touch me. It had a couple interesting ideas in its story and playing with its medium as a game, but as a game, it felt dull, uninspired, and unoriginal, without any memorable gameplay or setpieces. While it tries to be philosophical, it is nowhere near the level of something like The Talos Principle, and while the sterile testing environment (and some of the elements, like the switches and light bridges) are reminiscent of Portal, it is lacking in the character of those games as well.
Ultimately the game as a whole just ends up being rather flat. It never really did anything particularly interesting with itself, the story isn’t good enough to be worth playing through the game for, and the characters aren’t memorable. Is it terrible? No. But it doesn’t excel in any way.
You’ve got better things to do with your time and money than play this game.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4May 17, 2017DOOM is a reboot of DOOM, one of the first really popular first person shooters from, oh, the early 1990s. The original DOOM blew people awayDOOM is a reboot of DOOM, one of the first really popular first person shooters from, oh, the early 1990s. The original DOOM blew people away with its pseudo-3D graphics and gameplay. The 2016 DOOM is hoping to blow audiences away with a game with amazing graphics and gameplay which harkens back to the 1990s.
It succeeds, albeit incompletely – as while the game is quite good at times, it also reminds us all of exactly why things changed, and it isn’t nearly as memorable as I would have expected.
DOOM has a very old school aesthetic in some ways. Gone is reloading – you can fire all of your weapons until you are out of ammunition. Gone is a limitation on weapons carried – you eventually tote around ten primary weapons, most of which have two weapon attachments which change their alternative fire, as well as three equipment items, two of which are grenades and one of which is a hologram used to draw enemy fire. There is no regenerating health – instead, ammunition is lying around the levels in boxes lying on the ground, there are health packs and armor packs lying around, and in a few areas there are temporary power-ups such as quad damage, invincibility, haste, and similar things which make you that much more powerful for a short period of time.
Coupled to this is always running around the level by default, the ability to pull yourself up to platforms, the ability to double jump (eventually), and a general run-and-gun style of gameplay as the demons try to close in from all angles due to the design of various areas, forcing you to keep moving if you don’t want an enemy to attack you from behind. Some of the later enemies have pretty high health as well, further encouraging you to run around as if you stay in place, they will get to you before you kill them.
The enemies in the game have okay if not amazing variety – there’s over a dozen kinds of enemies, from agile imps which throw ranged attacks at you and attack you sometimes, to enemies with shields, to a couple varieties of flying enemies (one a suicidal kamikaze, one a ranged attacker), a few big ground melee demons, a couple big ranged demons, and some big mixed-ranged demons. While these are okay in terms of variety, it isn’t great, and the game stops introducing new demons about halfway through. This is unfortunate, as beyond that point, the only “new demons” are a couple of remixes of older ones (which aren’t that new feeling), as well as three bosses which, while okay, are not exactly amazing.
Sadly, this leads the game to feel a bit stale after a while – once you’ve unlocked all the weapons and fought all the enemy types, there’s about half a dozen levels left in the game for you to fight through. Worse, the game gets quite a bit easier at that point, both because there’s nothing new to throw at you, as well as because you just continually get more and more overpowered as you unlock more powers for your weapon secondary fires and various static bonuses continue to accrue in the forms of adjustable powers from unlockable runes which you acquire in various levels, as well as the upgrades to your armor abilities and base health and armor. The BFG is almost comically overpowered, and the chainsaw, while limited in ammunition, ensures that you never run out of ammo of anything important. Indeed, in some of the later portions of the game you can unlock rune combinations which effectively give you infinite ammo and make it very easy to maintain tons of health and armor, making the game almost trivial in some places, while the BFG can be used to bail you out of any seriously difficult situation – including the bosses.
Additionally, running around and picking up ammo and health and armor, while it feels novel at first, is actually kind of tedious. Worse, it actually highlights one of the problems of many modern games with collectables – secrets seem like this really cool thing, but in practice they end up slowing down gameplay as you wander around hunting for them. This results in the game’s pacing, which is pretty solid if you just play through, being interrupted at times by wandering around looking for resources and secrets.
This really just kind of highlights why some of the old DOOM things aren’t done anymore – hunting down ammo, armor, and health packs just isn’t that fun, and secret hunting can interrupt the flow of the game’s otherwise pretty intense gameplay.
That being said, this game is pretty fun for a good chunk of its run. The story, while nothing special, works pretty well, the DOOM Marine’s attitude towards mission control is kind of amusing as he starts off by smashing a few screens which try to deliver exposition at the player, there are only a limited number of cutscenes to interrupt the flow of the game, and the actual run-around-and-shoot-demons-that-are-spawning-constantly gameplay works pretty well.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Apr 29, 2017Set in the titular VA-11 Hall-A, AKA Valhalla, in the futuristic dystopian cyberpunk Glitch City, you play as Jill, a poor bartender who worksSet in the titular VA-11 Hall-A, AKA Valhalla, in the futuristic dystopian cyberpunk Glitch City, you play as Jill, a poor bartender who works in a run-down bar.
You know that NPC bartender you wander in and talk to in games?
Yeah, that’s who you’re playing as.
Valhalla is less of a game and more of a visual novel; the only “gamish” aspect of it is mixing drinks for patrons. This is really nothing more than following directions 90%+ of the time; rarely, they will give you something you need to think about (usually “the usual”, requiring you to remember what your patrons liked the last time, but sometimes they’ll try to be tricky and ask you for something specific – cold and sweet (so some sweet-tasting drink with ice in it), or even for something more obscure based off of something someone said previously).
Alas, this is the limit of the game’s interactivity. While there are a handful of times you can give someone another drink and get a different reaction out of them, mostly you are just following orders and clicking through what amounts to a visual novel.
And this would be fine if it was actually a good visual novel. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
The game has a cast of characters, and the characters actually do have character. Gil, Jill’s coworker, is a man with a mysterious past which is played for laughs, as your boss Dana is constantly trying to figure out what the deal with him is, while simultaneously Jill worries over him a bit. Dana herself is a boisterous bit of comedy relief herself, but she has a good head on her shoulders and is a good person, albeit one who also relies on the “mysterious past” gag a bit. Jill herself is a kind of sad girl at times, but she has a particular sense of humor (she finds the Bad Touch drink amusing, and she enjoys puns) and she certainly plays off of and teases other people a bit, even while she is grumpy at other times – and a bit more troubled than she lets on by her own past (which takes a bit to come up). Jill also definitely has a crush on her boss, which lends a slight tilt towards some of their interactions.
The patrons also have character – there’s Dorothy, the Lilim (android – or I suppose gynoid, seeing as she’s female) sex worker. She is a complete pervert, but is just so cheerful about it that she really is the high point of the game, grossing out Jill with her stories while simultaneously amusing her and showing just how much she cares. Dorothy genuinely cares about Jill, and Jill cares about Dorothy as well. Alma is another patron who shows up a lot, a female hacker who just got out of a bad relationship and who is another friend of Jill’s. As the game goes on, you meet a lot of other people, some of them fairly forgettable, others who stick out just for their weirdness (and rely too much on it for their characterization), others who just show up and leave without leaving much of an impact on the player, and one, a kindly White Knight (basically a paramedic/rescue worker) named Sei who you end up worrying about after some bad stuff goes down, along with her catgirl friend Stella.
The biggest problem with this is that while some of the characters actually do build up some emotional bonds with the player, it ultimately doesn’t feel like it goes much of anywhere. Around a third of the way through the game, something bad happens to Sei, and the characters worry about them… but ultimately, while the plot seems like it is going to be some big thing, it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s a hacker called White_Rabbit who is involved with that whole thing, but they seem to just kind of fade out of the plot, and you never actually interact with them in person, just read news stories about them in the paper. Alma complains about White_Rabbit towards the beginning, and then as it fades from prominence she starts talking about other things. A plot about Jill’s ex-girlfriend comes up, leaves, comes back, then leaves again before returning at the very end of the game, and is the closest thing there is to a main plot – but it only really involves a couple characters.
And this is really where the game fails. There just isn’t a point to it. There’s no overarching plot tying it all together. A glitch girl who keeps showing up seems like she might be related to the whole thing, but the subplot doesn’t ultimately go anywhere interesting, and I never really ended up caring about her beyond “Why is she important?” There’s no real payoff with Jill’s feelings towards her boss, nor Dorothy’s feelings towards Jill. You never find out what the real deal was with Gil or Jill’s boss.
In the end, there’s nothing that ties the lives of the characters together beyond brief interactions, and in the end, there’s not some way that this all gets tied together into any sort of coherent story. Even the plot that the bar is going to shut down at some point in the indefinite future gets no payoff.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Apr 23, 2017Event is a very unusual game. Set in an alternate reality in which space travel is much more advanced than it is in real life, you play asEvent is a very unusual game. Set in an alternate reality in which space travel is much more advanced than it is in real life, you play as an astronaut whose ship has a breakdown out near Europa. Getting into an escape pod, you are rescued by the Nautilus, an empty ship from the 1980s with a special singularity drive that allows it to travel at very high speeds – but which the AI aboard the ship claims is dangerous and must be destroyed. Everyone onboard has long since perished, but the ship’s crude AI is insistent that the singularity drive must be destroyed – and upon doing so, you will be returned to Earth.
Needless to say, this looks like a story about a murderous AI who has killed the crew of their ship – but this is anything but a standard version of such a story, and as the plot progresses, you learn more about what really happened.
The game has an unusual interface – you walk around by holding down the mouse button. This SEEMS like a bizarre interface choice – after all, WASD exists for a reason! But much of the game centers around interfacing with various terminals around the ship, using your actual keyboard. The AI is simultaneously surprisingly intelligent and not that bright, something which is actually lampshaded in the game – the logs show the previous crew members struggling with the AI’s stupidity, but it is also more clever than it seems at first glance, with a surprisingly large array of dialogue responses, if you can figure out how to get them. Being mean to it will make it upset with you and makes it less likely to cooperate with you, while being nice to it will lead to it being more polite back. It is not as sophisticated as one might hope in some respects, but I was pleasantly surprised by it at times, even as I pushed up against its limits in many cases.
The interaction with the AI and the gradual unfolding of the story are the real highlights of the game, interspersed with some simple problem solving. You might be tempted to call this a walking simulator, but it is really more of a very brief adventure game in a 3D environment.
This game was a lot more fun than I was expecting it to be. While it is a brief experience – it took me about three hours to complete, and I suspect it could be done much faster than that if you weren’t trying to look at absolutely everything and didn’t wander around in your spacesuit outside of the ship as much as I did – it actually manages to tell a brief but interesting story. Thinking of this game as a “short story” game is probably the best way to think about it – it is a small, limited environment with a limited amount of content, but it has a clear goal in mind with where it is going and it does a good job of manipulating the player, both in terms of the mystery of the game, as well as influencing the way that they treat the AI you spend the whole game interacting with.
I have to say this was well done, and if you are up for something which is more of an interactive narrative experience than an actiony video game, this might just be up your alley. Just keep in mind that this game is very short.… Expand