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Recent reviews by Bear

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Showing 1-10 of 11 entries
1 person found this review helpful
43.8 hrs on record
I initially passed over this game at release, even after seeing the glut of glowing positive reviews, because I wasn't really sure what it was about or whether or not it'd really be worth my attention. I come here now to say that this game is one of the absolute best narrative-focused games I've ever played, and it's absolutely worthy of every bit of praise lauded on it.

This game is so good that even when I encountered a game-breaking bug that forced me to restart my first playthrough, I very quickly forgot that frustration because it gave me a great excuse to re-experience the outstanding writing. I scoured this game for flaws while playing, expecting to eventually be let down by some aspect of it, but at the end of the day the only thing I could really mention is that the voice acting is pretty inconsistent, both in terms of recording quality and performance. This is a totally negligible complaint though, as it has no impact on the quality of the writing and the voice acting is so sparse that it basically doesn't matter.

The only thing I suggest is to not let any of this game be spoiled for you. Go into the experience blind, don't worry about failure or about the game punishing you for not playing "to win", because it's not about "winning", it's about experiencing the story in a way that's unique for you. Go disco, baby.
Posted July 22.
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1 person found this review helpful
58.9 hrs on record
Bug Fables is, mechanically speaking, a near-carbon-copy of the first two Paper Mario games, and it's probably safe to assume that anyone aiming to pick this game up already knows that. For those potential buyers, the only real question here is "is it a good copy?", and if you're in that category then I can tell you the answer is simply "yes". Bug Fables has everything that made those first two Paper Mario games great, plus a few interesting additions to the formula, so there's no reason to pass on it if you're hankering for more.

What if you're only vaguely familiar with Paper Mario as a series though, or what if you don't know anything about it at all? Is Bug Fables still worth picking up? Well, that's a bit more complicated.

I'd say that Bug Fables, for all its great points, does lack a bit of the level of polish that you might expect if you were playing an authentic Nintendo title. This shows most clearly in the general puzzle design, especially in the later stages of the game, where I often felt like I was solving a puzzle wrong only to discover that I was actually doing it the way it was intended. A really good puzzle should be giving you a great "ah-ha!" moment when complete, but I often finished an area in Bug Fables with just an "uh... alright?" instead. For someone that's used to the sort of puzzle-solving in these types of games, it's not a big deal, but I could see other players potentially getting stuck and frustrated by the puzzles because of unclear instructions or expectations. That lack of polish also extends to the environment skills themselves, which I found to be generally pretty clunky and tedious to use. Nothing so bad as to make game not recommended, but enough that I found myself unnecessarily frustrated at having to re-throw Vi's beemerang 4 or 5 times because it wasn't quite perfectly aligned with the switch I needed to hit, along with other similar frustrations.

Bug Fables really feels like a game made specifically for fans of Paper Mario, and as a consequence it eschews some of the more hand-hold-y things you might expect from a new game in a new series. The tutorials were extremely minimal and very little was explained after the start of the game, to the point where even I got confused about the way certain abilities were used as they were introduced later. I can't exactly say for sure if that would be a major issue for people that don't know Paper Mario well, but I feel like it would, and I'd probably recommend playing through Paper Mario on the N64 first just to get a much more in-depth introduction to the gameplay style.

Beyond the stuff listed above, I'd also say that while the story was alright and the writing was enjoyable, it also felt a bit childish at times. Not in the sense that it's pandering to children, but more that it didn't really go anywhere exciting or interesting. There were a few plot points and moments that were set up well, only to be resolved in fairly bland and predictable ways. Vi was also an intolerably obnoxious character for my tastes, but your mileage may vary.

Overall, in spite of the criticisms above, Bug Fables is a really strong game with plenty of content to make a purchase worthwhile. I give it a 4/5 and strongly recommend it for anyone that loved PM64 and TTYD.
Posted July 5. Last edited July 11.
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1 person found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.1 hrs on record
Hollow Knight is fine, but it's not amazing.

With the deluge of adequate 2D indie action/platforming games out there already, it's hard to be enthused about one that does nothing especially well. The soundtrack is fine, the dialog is fine, the art is fine, the combat is fine, it's all perfectly passable. Many people will buy this game and enjoy it, and for that reason I could easily give the game a recommendation just to fall in line with the "overwhelmingly positive" general consensus. However, there is one glaring flaw in this game that made me put it down and stop playing it entirely, and that alone is enough reason for me to mark this as not recommended.

There is simply *no good reason* for this game to have the bloodstain system from the Souls series. I don't see how it fits thematically with the story, nor do I see it fitting with the rest of the metroidvania-style presentation. Its inclusion feels like it was done solely for the purpose of appealing to the Souls fanbase, so they could scream "IT'S LIKE DARK SOULS BUT 2D!!!!" in every single review. I myself am a massive From Software RPG fan, but I'm of the belief that the bloodstain system as it exists in the Souls series is fundamentally flawed, and that it needs changes to be a truly effective system. Not only does Hollow Knight not do anything to improve on its implementation of the mechanic, but it arguably makes the system worse by way of not having your recovery spot in the same spot that you actually died in.

To explain why this is specifically bad in Hollow Knight, let's first address what makes the mechanic flawed in the first place. The Souls series hails from a long lineage of old-school game design, and historically the punishment for death in old games was to simply lose *all* progress completely, often having to start all the way back at the beginning. This sort of punishment for death is often more disengaging than it is helpful, and since game devs do want you to actually play through the games completely, many different ways of softening this punishment have been developed over the years. The bloodstain system is one such method, as it serves as a way to punish player for death and encourage them to play cautiously, but still gives incentive to try an area again after failure. The flaw in the system is that progress in an RPG often depends on increased stats and items, and increased stats and items depends on currency, so when you permanently lose that currency from failing twice in a row, you're stuck having to grind to make up the difference. Repeating content is, generally speaking, not fun for most players, so forcing them to repeat content because of failure becomes a huge negative incentive to keep playing. Some players still enjoy the challenge, but many end up quitting the Souls games after one too many instances of losing 1 million souls because of an accidental misstep.

Now, when it comes to Hollow Knight, say you've just died in a room that you never fully explored. Because of the way the bug-ghost-bloodstain generates, when you go back to that room, not only do you not know what is in the unexplored areas of that room, but you don't even know where your bug-ghost-bloodstain is, making it significantly more dangerous to try and collect it. If you then die again just trying to just figure out where the hell your ghost went, then you've just lost all of your progress in a way that feels cruelly unfair. At the end of the day, all this mechanic ends up adding is some artificial padding to make playing the game more tedious, and there's nothing particularly interesting or special about the gameplay to make that tedium worth it.

Will you enjoy Hollow Knight if you buy it? Probably, but it depends on how much time you have to spend re-grinding up currency to make up for progress you lose from dying twice in a row. You might like it, but frankly I have a lot better things I could be spending my time on.
Posted April 19. Last edited May 13.
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19 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
9.7 hrs on record
I feel like FTL is one of those rare games that really warrants adding a review option between "recommended" and "not recommended". I'm still leaning on the side of not recommending this game, but it's not because the game is explicitly bad. Objectively, the game is functional, relatively entertaining, and very fairly priced, so it's no surprise that the game comes with so many positive reviews. However, subjectively, the experience of actually playing the game has been utterly and completely unsatisfying, in spite of all the potential it holds.

FTL fits nicely into the same group of games as something like Hearthstone or Dota Underlords—that is, games that don't really take much attention or time to play, but still provide some level of strategic challenge so as to not be completely mindless (i.e. like a cookie-clicker style game or other idle-games). Most interactions in the game come down to binary choices, and most combat can be handled by targeting enemy shields and weapons and enabling auto-fire. It's a simple game—something that can be picked up in a few minutes—and I see this as a positive. The problem is that the rest of the game doesn't compliment that fundamental simplicity, and the experience becomes tedious or frustrating as a result.

In the rare few negative reviews of the game, you'll see the RNG factors mentioned the most, and the complaints are mostly valid. Generally speaking, I believe that elements of randomness improve almost any game experience. That said, the defining difference between good RNG and bad RNG is whether or not that RNG can be influenced by your actions. That is, even if something random happens that affects you negatively, you should be able to learn something from that experience that helps avoid it happening again. Obviously, f you could completely circumvent the RNG, then the RNG is pointless, but if you can't learn anything to reduce the effects of RNG, then the experience feels outside of your control, leading to warranted frustration from the player.

This is where FTL flounders, as there's very little (or almost nothing) you can learn from a bad RNG experience to avoid it happening in the future. For example, you can encounter an event where you can send a valuable crew member down to a planet's surface to try and salvage something, like resources, or even a new crew member. Problem is, there's no way of knowing how successful this endeavor might be before you embark on it, there's no way of knowing what the rewards might be, if any at all, and there's no way to know if your crew member might be lost on this event, which would significantly cripple your ship. No matter what you choose, you learn nothing at the end except that you stand to gain or lose something at random by even participating in the event. This is significant because choosing whether or not you participate in events like this is basically the entire game. You almost have to participate in these events when they happen, because you have very little hope of winning from just jumping from star to star and occasionally engaging in combat, and the game is significantly more boring without them.

The other major problem I have with the game is more subjective, and relates to the "rogue-lite" nature of the gameplay. Part of what makes these rogue-lite games appealing is that, even if you lose or die in a run that was really going well, you don't get too frustrated because you still made incremental progress outside the main game loop that makes your future runs slightly more likely to succeed. For me, FTL's version of that incremental progress is so excruciatingly slow that it robs what little joy there is from playing in the first place. In the 10 hours I've put into the game, and at least 5 runs that made it to the final boss (and nearly beat it), even on EASY (a mode I pretty much never pick in any game), I've still only managed to unlock 1 single thing in the game, being an alternate ship layout. The worst part is that that unlock does nothing to improve my chances of succeeding a run. Conceivably, I feel I could invest another 10, 20, 30 hours into the game and still not have unlocked anything that makes the game experience significantly easier, or even different. This is where the tedium comes in, and frankly the game is not strategically interesting enough to warrant that level of grinding. Some people have a high tolerance for mindless grinding, but I certainly do not.

This game could be improved by simply giving a way to see a chance of success on events, and giving a way to influence that chance of success, outside of practically auto-winning an event by having a particular crew member or resource. Additionally, the ship system could be changed so that you design your ship layout by default, but the amount of bays and basic equipment on the ship is limited. This way, you can have that limit increase as you play the game more, giving a direct incremental increase in ship strength instead of locking new features behind arbitrary achievement targets. With that said, my conclusion is that...

tl;dr FTL is not bad, but it could be a lot better. The RNG is poorly implemented and the game loop is more tedious than fun. There's worse things you can spend $10 on, but I don't recommend buying this unless you really like wasting time and don't have anything else to waste time on.
Posted January 24. Last edited January 24.
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24 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
1.6 hrs on record
What can I really say about The Surge? Coming from someone that's played every major From Software RPG, from King's Field all the way to Sekiro, I wanted to give this game a real chance, as more variety in this particular genre is something I fully welcome. I skipped over Lords of the Fallen, the previous game from this developer, as many people commented that it missed the mark in terms of gameplay. I was led to believe that The Surge had made significant improvements over its predecessor, and while that may be true, I can say for certain that the end result still pales in comparison to its contemporaries.

To put it short, this game is a classic case of "so close, and yet so far". The combat is almost enjoyable, where dodging is quick and blocking is interactive, but it's all dragged down by a fatal flaw, in that attack animations for your character are so slow and clunky that fighting feels like a chore, and attack animations for enemies vary wildly between nearly-instant huge leap attacks that come out of nowhere and painfully slow combos that simply waste your time. This is compounded by the fact that your health can be taken to zero extremely quickly if you make a mistake, to the point where attacking feels like an unnecessarily high risk action that ultimately leads the player to go with passive and slow gameplay to progress. There is no excitement to the combat, it feels more like a painful slog that you're forced to grind through.

The writing and general storytelling in the game also miss the mark heavily. While I appreciated the general concept behind everything, the painfully on-the-nose "worldbuilding" through graffiti in the levels combined with the awful hackneyed dialogue in character interactions leads me to believe that the writing was aiming a bit higher than anyone on the staff team was really capable of executing properly. It's unfortunate, because there's clearly a few ideas here and there that would have been really effective, had the rest of the game been able to support them properly.

I could see The Surge being enjoyed by some, as the game is technically functional and playable, but holding it up against something like Nioh or any of the major From Software RPGs gives very little reason to play it in my mind. I would strongly recommend skipping this game unless you have extremely low standards or you're very desperate for another 3D souls-like game that isn't Nioh.
Posted July 17, 2019.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
1 person found this review funny
99.5 hrs on record
It's bad.
Posted June 29, 2019.
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402 people found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
9.9 hrs on record
Putting aside everything that's not explicitly tied to the game itself (that is, the developers involved, the drama surrounding internet personalities, the kickstarter funds, etc.), Yooka-Laylee is ultimately a flawed-but-playable game. Aside from some very frustrating control and camera issues, the game is technically proficient and can be entertaining for at least a few hours.

This, however, makes it particularly difficult to decide if I can actually recommend the game. The game isn't bad, but it does have many problems. Most of the problems probably could have been fixed with another few months of development, but they also feel almost inexcusable when you start considering the people involved. It's also confusing that many of the new gameplay features feel like they were never fully fleshed out, as the core gameplay was perfected nearly 2 decades ago and needed no extra work to refine. It's a very mixed bag.

Putting this into the perspective of a small indie studio with a (relatively) small game budget, I think that the end product here is quite professionally put together. If this were a game by a bunch of nobodies, it'd likely be celebrated as the first real attempt at cartoony 3D platformers in years. What's really disappointing here, then, is that this game sadly *isn't* the perfect meld of Rare's old N64 platfomers, in spite of having most of the key players involved. It lacks the helpful guidance-by-items of DK64, the focused and compact level design of Banjo-Kazooie, and what edgy adult humor there is pales in comparison to Conker's Bad Fur Day. At its best, it feels like a semi-clone of Banjo-Tooie, but the poor camera design ends up holding it back from even that.

Given a few patches, I could see Yooka-Laylee becoming a strong recommendation for fans of the genre, but it's hard to recommend at release. This is a classic case of "so close, yet so far", but I really I do want to see Playtonic continue to make games--I know that they can do much better than this.

(Also, please hire a writer that actually knows how to write witty and sarcastic dialogue!!)
Posted April 14, 2017. Last edited April 15, 2017.
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1 person found this review helpful
18.8 hrs on record
This is the best indie game.
Posted November 23, 2016.
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38 people found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
0.9 hrs on record (0.8 hrs at review time)
This is the BEST GAME.

THE BEST.

NOTHING EVEN COMPARES.

If you're looking for a good children's game, this is it. If you're looking for some great nostalgia, this will bring it to you. Fantastic remaster of the original, and still entertaining no matter how old you are.
Posted November 2, 2015.
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1 person found this review helpful
8.9 hrs on record
Initially the game struck me as stylistically reminiscent of Psychonauts, but the more I played the more I kept getting reminded of Rocko's Modern Life, so I guess if you take those two, mash 'em together, and then put them in the context of a 2.5D point'n'click (move'n'stick?) adventure, this is what you get.

The gameplay is relatively simple; you grab read people's thoughts, grab stickers, and then stick those stickers in the proper spots to solve the various puzzles, all while avoiding getting caught by the various thugs sprinkled as obstacles throughout the game. There are some platforming challenges involved, but calling them "challenges" is really stretching the definition of the word. The whole thing definitely leans on the casual side of the gaming fence, but what it lacks in challenge it more than makes up for with a great soundtrack, stylized and attractive visuals, and writing/voice acting that at the least got me to smirk for most of my playthrough if not made me laugh out loud a few times.

A short but thoroughly enjoyable experience and a game I'd highly recommend giving a shot.
Posted December 31, 2014. Last edited January 6, 2015.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 entries