Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #35
You’ve probably got bored with my excuses of “brain does not feel like cooperating and creating some coherent notes about my latest backlog assassinations” - but that’s the truth. Again. Anyway, if you want to know something more about any of the games I mention just let me know, I’ll try to elaborate and answer questions :)
Yep, decided to try some classics :)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R is a FPS with RPG elements (quest and equipment systems, no character development). Visually nothing to write home about now - though there are a couple of graphics enhancement mods - but the game offers one of the most immersive worlds I had an opportunity to visit: a dangerous place that only the fittest survive, where you can both get rich fast, finding some rare artefacts, and die due to radiation, aggressive fauna or enemy bullet.
A tiny little gem - cute mixture of Samorost-type point and click game and HOPA, with captivating visuals and relaxing gameplay. It's really short, but worth looking into nonetheless.
And on PS Vita:
I’ve decided to finish some “staple” games, namely Assassin’s Creed III Liberation and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Action games are not really my favourite genre (sank into RPGs and jRPGs so deep that you’d need heavy equipment to dig me out), but both were quite entertaining - though, honestly, nothing more, as neither plots nor gameplay mechanics stood out above mediocrity for me. Fortunately I’ve borrowed both, as I would be quite disappointed otherwise. Both utilise Vita’s capabilities (touch screens, gyroscope or light sensor of the camera), which makes the gameplay more immersive and diverse… until you end up in darkish bus on the long way home tasked with pointing the console towards a strong light source (in Uncharted) - and flashlight was not enough, tested :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #34
No inspiration for review writing again, I’m afraid, so I’ll keep the notes brief. Still, a tiny progress made again :)
A really enjoyable open world 3rd person action game. It starts a bit slowly, when the character has no weapons or skills to speak of, but after gaining both we get a really entertaining kaleidoscope of explosions, brawler battles and general beating of bad (or rather - worse, as the protagonist is not a knight in shining armor either) guys.
Marked as completed - the only thing left are racing elements I was never exactly fond of. Every marker on the whole map cleared though.
Slasher/shooter in Warhammer 40k universe. As an Ultramarine , Captain Titus, we land on a planet invaded by orcs, and tasked with retrieving a weapon (a giant mech), before greenskins lay their hands on it. Chaos marines and demons soon join the fun, making a fairly easy op a bit more complicated - though nothing that a gun or two and chainsaw axe are not capable of solving.
I've finished the single player mode (a short campaign with basic, but fairly interesting plot), played a match or two online, just to see what the game has to offer there and called it a day.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #33
An odd exploration/survival game. As a scientist infected with an unknown disease (causing fevers and general weakness) we arrive at an island, rumoured to contain flora that can be used to develop a cure. Gameplay consists of exploring the island, finding new plant and mushroom types, examining them for substances with medical properties, and creating some drugs from it and ultimately said cure.
During the exploration we find remnants of a tribe that used to inhabit the island, as well as previous scientific expedition. Notes we find contain information about past events as well as hints regarding locations of potentially useful plants. The island is inhabited by an aggressive animal resembling a panther with horns, the character needs to either hide or run away from (a torch can also be used to scare it away).
There is no GPS or auto-updating map in-game. In order to find current location and draw the map, we need to triangulate using a compass and local landmarks (which is quite simple, if a bit tedious to do).
All in all - a relaxing if repetitive game, nothing special, but may be worth looking into if it sits in your backlog anyway :)
In progress: Mad Max (will take a while, as the title compels me to check each and every mark on map, and clean it completely) and Exist Archive on Vita (man, how addictively grindy this game is - I’m like 15h into the game and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface - can easily imagine it taking 50h+ HLTB has listed).
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #32
The notes are a bit on a brief side (my mind decided not to cooperate…). Still, if you have any questions regarding those titles I’ll try to answer the best I can :)
A cute 3D platformer with logic puzzles presenting a story of a young girl Hope, fighting against the evil Cancer trying to take over her town. As the description may suggest, the title is meant to help children fight cancer - both as entertainment and distraction, as well as means of fundraising (all earnings from the game are donated to Game Changer Charity organisation).
The game itself is really entertaining (if short and a bit on a simplistic side), though not exactly easy gameplay-wise. I had some problems with boss battles - I admit, I'm pants at skill-based games, but still - it may be a bit too hard and frustrating for young children. Still, a piece of good work and worthy cause.
I'm not certain, how to classify this game - visual novel is the closest, I think. The title obviously refers to the author of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" novel. Here, the player takes the role of Big Brother - invigilating potential terrorists by reading information available on the internet - social media and blog entries, as well as private conversations or even data on hacked PCs and phones.
Chaos Rings on PS Vita
Mobile jRPG published by Square Enix, ported to PS Vita. Five pairs of people are kidnapped and find themselves in unknown location called Ark. They are forced to fight not only aggressive fauna roaming around, but also each other. The winner is promised the gift of immortality, losing means death. During the course of the game background histories of each pair are revealed, as well as the purpose of the Ark and the tournament.
The title offers turn-based combat and mechanics typical for jRPGs, as well as a bit simple, but entertaining and captivating plot. In order to see the true ending, the title needs to be finished 4 times (once for each pair) - the final boss unlocks at that stage.
Unfortunately, even if the title is fully translated into English, it is available for Asian region only - it can be bought directly from PSN if one owns Japanese account, or played from a physical copy of Chaos Rings 3 - Prequel Trilogy - though the first three instances of the series still need to be downloaded from PSN using Asian account.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #31
It’s been a while since I’ve dropped titles into the red trash can, so this week two titles join the merry company there. A bit disappointing game selection this week, oh well, more digging for treasures in my backlog for me :)
Contrary to my Steam statistics, I've finished the game - on my PS Vita. As it is the same game, just with some controls adjustment, I mark the PC version completed as well. The title is your usual, run-the-mill retro jRPG, with simplistic plot (as a prince of a kingdom terrorized by a powerful dragon, our task is to gather legendary weapons and allies and slay the beast), standard progression and inventory system. The only distinguishing feature is job system, similar - if more simple - to the one used in Final Fantasy V.
May be worth checking out if you get the title in bundle, but I wouldn't buy it for full price.
Status: completed - main quest, all subquests and all optional areas finished.
This game is just bad - lack of balance and thought put into actual player experience makes the gameplay completely pointless. We start as medieval trader, with one cart and some pocket change. Our task is to earn a fortune by buying goods cheap in one city and sell them with interest in another. There are two problems though: costs of travel are extremely high, and there is no way of determining prices of a particular good in other cities without visiting them (as they are random), the game offers no information regarding price range either - so we have no idea what is worth buying in particular place and where to take those goods to sell them. The game offers some quests (of a fedex nature) - and that's it, so even if one manages to wrap their head around the title's economy, the boredom and repetitiveness will soon follow.
Avoid like a plague.
By many people considered a great game, but it is really dated now. I've tried playing, but decided not to carry on after an hour. I don't mind the visuals, they're acceptable, especially considering release date, what deterred me were extremely clunky controls - I was just unable to set the camera right and selecting characters was far from intuitive; next to unusable map and lack of direction, as well as dull combat - but that issue may become less pronounced at higher levels.
Contrary to some negative reviews on Steam, I had no problems with launching the title in FullHD (following a guide to set launch options) and had no technical issues afterwards. Still - unless someone really wishes to delve in the past, I would suggest refraining from playing the title now - it did not age well.
I wonder if the other two instances of the series I have in my backlog as well meet the same fate. Time will tell.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #30
Another week spent on VITA games rather than backlog killing. Oh well, at least the number is going down somewhat :)
A dated (released in 2007) hack&slash. One of the games I can only ask myself "why did I actually complete that?" about. The problem does not even lie in visuals (while definitely nothing breathtaking, the title at least launches in 1080p), but in a really clunky controls (mostly combat and item use). Somebody had a bright idea to create a combo-like spell casting system: in order to cast a spell - and you do it all the time, the character is a mage after all - you need to press (for example): up, down, up, RMB. Unique and completely unviable. Fortunately standard key bindings can be used as well. After adding a bland and uninspiring plot, the result is a mediocre game I cannot recommend.
Status: completed (unless I've missed a sidequest or two somewhere, not that I really care at this point).
Dungeon crawler with turn-based battles on a separate screen and visual novel-style conversations. Interesting, long and quite difficult at times. Towards the end of the game some serious grinding was required, as I’ve observed a definite difficulty curve spike (in Astro’s domain). Fortunately there are some QOL functionalities - autowalk (choose a cell on the map and the party will move there on their own, though random battles will still occur), ability to repeat all combat orders in the following round as well as speeding up all actions during a round by holding circle button. There are some quirky characters and Japanese-style gags I’m not exactly fond of, but all in all it was a really enjoyable experience.
Status: completed - all bosses (including post-game) beaten. Time spent: ~50h.
Child of Light
Yes, VITA has its own version as well. A platformer with RPG elements and ATB-based combat on a separate screen, with distinct feel of a fairy tale: enforced with plot, visuals and characters speaking in rhymes. An unique element is a firefly that accompanies us thorough the game, who we can give orders to (using right stick or touchscreen, the latter works really well), to light dark areas, open chests, operate mechanisms, heal the party both in and out of combat, as well as blind enemies to slow them down. Even though I was a bit bored with overly long battles in the last couple of chapters and rhymed conversations weren’t easy to follow, it was still a very enjoyable and relaxing experience.
Status: completed - main storyline and all sidequests finished. Time spent: ~15h.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #29
Again minimal progress only and again my Vita is to blame. Started playing Demon Gaze there (dungeon crawler with turn-based combat and visual novel-style conversations) and it takes quite a lot of my time - this thing is LONG. Still, like 2/3 into the game already, hopefully I’ll finish it next week. And for now:
Indie action RPG with a lot of humour and references to pop-culture in general, and RPGs in particular (e.g. we meed Claude, an ex-soldier, and Iris, a florist). The title offers a quite cliche plot, really basic inventory and progression system and a bit clunky real time combat.
All in all an interesting experience, but nothing really breathtaking. Might be worth picking up on some sale or bundle.
Status: complete - "easy platinum" as PS3/PS4 users would say :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #28
This week… something a bit different. I’ve managed to spend like 5 hours the whole week beating my PC backlog… All the rest of my time was stolen by my new toy - namely PS Vita and the title that came with it :) To be exact:
Tales of Hearts R
Yep, Tales mania at its finest. It’s the third instance of the series I’ve played (after Symphonia and Berseria), though the first on platform other than PC. Comparing to aforementioned titles it offers more standard plot of “party against the big bad entity trying to destroy the world” - which by no means make it uninteresting, quite the contrary, it’s on par with most respected titles of the genre - it’s just I was kind of spoiled by Symphonia’s and Berseria’s dark themes and ambiguity I’ll be looking for in all other (j) RPG games (in most cases, in vain) from now on.
Tales of Hearts R offers typical for the series, dynamic real-time, skill and combo based combat (with freedom of movement) and fairly complex and novel character development system. After each gained level characters receive points that can be spent on one of five character traits. After specific level of each of those traits are reached, new weapon forms, abilities, spells and passive bonuses are unlocked. Moreover, fighting together lets characters develop bonds, that allow them to learn some of those bonuses from each other.
Other than that, the title offers typical for the series and genre mixture of following story, exploring, questing and conversations (including large number of discussions between party members and short scenes a.k.a. skits). The title looks really good (at least on the 5” Vita screen), too - well, apart from some cutscenes, that are taken directly from NDS version and offer visibly lower quality and 5:4 aspect ratio. Still - definitely worth playing.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #27
This week belonged to some smaller games clogging my backlog - and some little gems found within:
A short, free game set (apparently) in the universe of Life is Strange, meant to be a demo/teaser of the sequel of the aforementioned game. The story revolves around a boy, living alone with his father somewhere in a remote forest area. 9-year old Chris, an avid reader of superhero comics, created his own alter ego, Captain Spirit, and uses his vivid imagination to make both chores and (quite serious) life issues more manageable. Gameplay is similar to LiS, though with no time rewinding, of course.
It's a short and sweet appetiser for the main course that is LiS2 - from what I've gathered, Chris is meant to be and important character there. Worth playing if you like this kind of games - and it's free, so what not to like :)
Status: completed - no side content whatsoever.
Adventure game with pixelart 2D graphics and some really stylish character drawings. Soundtrack was created by the same artist as To The Moon, and the game strongly resembles that title. It is a strongly emotional, completely devoid of violence story of a boy living in a hospital, who possesses a storybook, being a key to another world. In order to have his wish granted by a guardian of that land, he needs to help five people, who have their equivalents in both worlds (in his own they are patients of the same hospital), learning their stories in the process.
A cheerful child story becomes bittersweet really fast when we learn more about both world inhabitants and catch up on the metaphors. Underneath lies a harsh reality, where each character had more than their fair share of problems and suffering. Definitely worth playing.
Status: beaten - I've missed some collectibles and was not diligent enough to talk to each and every person.
Kickstarter-funded cRPG created in Unity, but with a distinct RPGMaker-ish feel. We lead a group of six squires at the dawn of war with giant invaders. Each member of the group has their own background history, and to learn them all the player is expected to complete the title 6 times (playthrough takes approximately 5 hours).
This game is meant to be a part of a trilogy, and it shows - the story ends with a plot twist and cliffhanger, and during the course of the game the player needs to make a couple of decisions, that are meant to have impact on future events - in the sequel(s). For now the game offers pleasing visuals and pretty standard character development, inventory and combat systems, but is nothing breathtaking story-wise. Entertaining enough to play, though personally I'd wait until the whole series is released (the sequel is apparently in the works at the moment).
Status: beaten - I've finished the story with one character (Cammile), went like halfway with Isaac, but the changes (apart from the prologue and some scenes at the end) are too small for me to justify completing the game with all characters.
ICY: Frostbite edition - interactive novel set in a post-nuclear ice wasteland. This game resembles Banner Saga, but with more freedom of exploration, inventory and crafting system. Our character is a part of a group of nomads, travelling through the icy plains, scavenging and hunting to get by. When the "family" is attacked by unusually well armed group of mercenaries and some of its members kidnapped, it is our task to track them down and come to the rescue.
The game offers quite a lot of freedom - there is no time limit nor any forced line of events. We have a map of the area and can just travel around, gathering resources and doing some sidequests for a couple of hours without having to worry about the main story line. Every now and then we are faced with choices that have no obvious good or bad answer - e.g. witnessing a conflict between two individuals or groups, who shall our family help? Or perhaps the best resolution is to leave them be and resolve the issue among themselves?
The art style is really pleasing and the locations diverse. Combat system is quite novel - it's turn based, each turn we get some action tokens (melee, bow or gun attack, precision, stealth, defence, taunt etc.) depending on party's equipment and main character's skills. Putting up to three of those tokens together results in more damaging attack or additional bonuses.
The biggest fault of the title in my opinion is the same as for Banner Saga - the characters, including our party, are shallow and it is hard to identify with them. It's the same for NPCs and the world in general - I just didn't care about them or their fate. Apart from that, marking objective locations is not the best around - a small question mark that is really hard to notice, forcing the player to scroll the whole map and try to spot it. Inventory system could really use a clear distinguish between crafting components and vendor trash - more than once I've sold items that could be useful later.
Other than that - the title is an interesting and quite novel experience. Definitely worth picking up on some sale (or even full price, it's not expensive) if you are not opposed to a lot of reading and lack of typical action.
Status: completed - most achievements can be obtained during the course of the playthrough, some are related to endings (of which the game has several, but the choice is made right at the end, so there is no problem with creating a save data and seeing them all).
For some reason I couldn't get myself to play this game for a long time - the mere idea of that was repulsive to me. And I don't really know why. This time I've managed to get through the initial couple of hours and got to the end with no problems. The title itself if not the greatest around, but not THAT bad either, especially considering that it was created by just a couple of people. It offers pretty cliche plot, a simple real time combat with active pause and standard inventory system. What stands out is humour and a lot of pop-culture references. Nothing to really write home about.
Status: beaten - as is usually the case, I've passed collectible gathering - just reached the end of the story with no specific exploration.
Additionally, I’ve managed to beat another title from my “Second chance” list:
Layers of fear - a decent horror adventure game, full of jumpscares, constantly changing rooms in a ruined mansion, finding letters and items that offer snippets of the character’s history and general ambiguity. I’m still uncertain of what the true story of the protagonist and his family was - only that it was definitely not pretty.
Status: beaten - I’ve reached the self portrait ending, which happens to be the most positive of the three (and watched the rest on youtube :)).
Sidenote: I’ve just became a proud owner of PS Vita (dying console and all that, hipster much? :)) - anyway: I’m in the process of creating another backlog there :P Currently my collection and wishlist consists of: Tales series, Persona 4, Atelier series, Demon Gaze, Neptunia seties, Trails in the Sky and Trails of cold Steel series, Tokyo Xanadu, The Bards Tale, Final Fantasy X with addition of Wipeout and Gravity Rush. As you can see - (j)RPG mostly. Would you suggest other titles worth adding to this list?
Now playing: Tales of Hearts R - really fun game, with fairly complex and novel character development system (especially the character bonding part) though the plot is more on the typical side than Symphonia and Berseria got me accustomed to. I hope those weren’t the best the series has to offer when it comes to stories :(
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #26
I’ve managed to finish one of the ‘heavy hitters’ sitting in my backlog - and I had a ton of fun doing this. Screw backlog killing, I’d like to have more, way more games of this type, even if that meant never succeeding at the task. Having fun is what it is about after all :).
Which, in fact, is what I’ve got in the form of PS Vita I’ve just bought - Tales of Hearts, here I come! (yup, I really do like the series, I hope other instances will not disappoint).
A second part of the vast 'Tales of' series I've played (after Symphonia) - and it was a great experience once again. This series rose from unknown to personal favourite in no time. I only hope the older parts of the series have something fun to offer too :)
In this instance we get a set of unusual heroes (or rather - anti-heroes): main character, a half-demon driven by revenge (the fact, that its target is the most powerful person in the world, considered its saviour, does not deter her in the slightest), a cursed pirate, that brings misfortune to himself and everyone around, a witch, a bit on the insane side and a demon of battle - whose sole purpose in life is training to become strong enough to kill his own brother. Definitely not your usual band of heroes to save the world.
This title (comparing to Symphonia) excels in character development, battle mechanics (very dynamic and flashy, with full freedom of movement) and visuals - though in this case the quality and level of detail varies between stages - from beautiful and detailed meadows, reefs or cities, to bland caves and ruins. It offers an interesting story, if a bit on the cliche side at times, though I still consider Symphonia's world lore and main plot to be superior.
The only mechanics I was not really fond of is the system of learning passive skills from items - each equipment element offers a bonus (e.g. +8 attack or slightly reduced damage from particular element), that gets unlocked after obtaining a set number of Grade while wearing it. At this time the bonus becomes permanent and stack with any other of the same type. While it looks great on paper, it comes with one large drawback - the necessity of wading through literal tons of items, constantly keeping track of learning bars for all equipment. To me it was tedious and frustrating.
Other than that - Tales of Berseria was a really enjoyable experience to me, devouring quite a large chunk of my time - which I do not regret in the slightest.
Note - the title is a prequel to Tales of Zestiria. While from what I've read it offers some references to its predecessor, it is related loosely enough for me not to feel I'm missing anything not playing that title before (it is on my shopping list though :)).
And now I really feel like watching/reading Berserk...
Status: completed - by my definition of completing, that is: "seeing everything story-wise there is to see" - I do not consider collecting every item in the game or opening every chest for the sake of achievements to be worth my time.
I’ve joined this month’s theme. Thanks to three kind people who had the courage to venture into the vast land of despair and horrors, otherwise known as my “won’t play” category, a “Second chance” list was created.
I’ve even managed to complete two titles of the list:
- Woodle Tree Adventures - extremely relaxing and family friendly 3D platformer. Short (completing it took me like a hour) and sweet. While it does suffer from the usual camera issues of every 3D platformer I’ve played (or perhaps my sense of perspective is off?) it was really enjoyable. Might be the reason I’ve tossed it into the red trashcan before, or perhaps I was just in a bad mood :)
- Little Inferno - another little game, in which you order some things online, then toss them into the fireplace and watch them burn. It has a logic element, as there are some combos with vague hints (combinations of items with specific themes, that give bonuses when burnt together).