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Recent reviews by Zombra

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Showing 1-10 of 77 entries
3 people found this review helpful
45.9 hrs on record
There are two games here.

1) A rather fun open world shooter, with lots of neat side goals and excellent gunplay fighting a crazy torture cult. (Also, you can turn off the UI piece by piece for a great immersive shooter experience.)

2) A bullsh*t cutscene-o-rama where the game pretends to give you control but actually forces you to do the one exact thing that furthers their cool weak eyeroll-bait story.

The open world stuff is fun and even the main story can be fun in spots, when it (rarely) stops force-feeding you the cultic mumbo jumbo that turns out meaningless and is always frustrating. So yeah, there is fun to be had here, but every time you start to have any you get pulled back to the railroad tracks ... and any time you try to step off, you get tsk tsked and are forced to start over.

Other games do it better.
Posted May 7. Last edited May 7.
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13 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
11.6 hrs on record
Oh god.

This game not only slashes your mind against the teeth of madness, it gorges you down the throat into the very guts of insanity.

Yet these guys did the math. There seems to be an internal sense to everything. This universe speaks a language all its own, distinctly, disturbingly alien yet oddly familiar.

Support these developers, if any of them are still getting money from sales at this point, and if not, support the continuation of this vision. Keep E.Ψ.Ǝ alive.

I don't want to be the best at hacking in my group, yet I am. This menu makes no sense until, oh yeah, I get it. What is happening to me?

Buy the game and set aside some psychedelic drugs while you're downloading. Oh wait, you won't need any.

Somehow, this game needs to be in your library. Make it happen.
Posted March 17. Last edited March 18.
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2 people found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Yes. This is a great "popcorn" game, not super deep and it won't blow your mind, but it's fun and the variety in the levels keeps things interesting for several hours.

One level might require you to ambush a group of lawmen before they can execute an imprisoned friend; in another you might lay siege to an entire town; another might have you scrambling for resources to repel an attack by overwhelming numbers; another might be a simple bank robbery.

Playing a level usually takes less than 5 minutes, making it ideal to pick up for a quick taste of blood, and each level has several tiers of victory. Finishing a level at all feels good; additionally, you can earn a "gold" ranking for meeting level-specific challenges, such as wrapping up in under a minute, or beating the level with no casualties. Completing the whole campaign on Outlaw (Normal) difficulty took me about 5 hours, including lots of replaying levels to get the gold ratings.

This game won't dazzle you with millions of features and there are some obvious QOL improvements I'd like to see added, but for a quick & dirty indie strategy shoot-'em-up made by a one-man studio, it does the job better than admirably. I paid full price ($8) and got my money's worth.
Posted March 16. Last edited April 1.
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4 people found this review helpful
14.9 hrs on record
Yes! This is a great horror story, backed up by good solid survival gameplay.

I enjoyed the new first-person camera perspective and the much more intimate story than we've previously seen in the series. More than any other Resident Evil game, this story is really about the protagonist. Ethan Winters, searching for his missing wife, gets caught up in a terrifying situation with a crazy family miles from civilization, and everything happening in the story logically progresses from that. It was very easy to continue feeling motivated to solve Ethan's problems and get him out of there.

This intimacy also extends to the game's antagonists. This is not a game about wandering through levels fighting a thousand zombies; it's about a man trapped with a few very persistent and frightening adversaries. There are some expendable monsters as well, but they are window dressing; the focus is firmly on Ethan and his struggle with the major villains.

Despite the obvious departures, this still feels very much like a Resident Evil game, thanks to a few design hooks and thematic callbacks. Setting tropes like assembling multi-part keys, manipulating mythological statuary, and triggering improbable mechanical doors all remind one of the RE universe, and the weapons available, the magical "item box" that makes your equipment accessible from multiple map areas, and the tape recorder rooms very much reflect the gameplay we're used to.

I'll say briefly that the art and level design of the game are nothing short of brilliant. The old house and the surrounding areas are scary, period. Getting chased through this place makes one feel constantly vulnerable (except when hearing the reassuring "tape recorder room theme" which means you can relax and take a breath!).

Scarcity is also handled very well. Balancing weapons, ammo, healing items etc. feels just right. I was always worried about running out of ammo, yet didn't feel the need to reload the game if I missed a few shots ... and when you're in a state of panic, sometimes you miss a few shots!

If you play this game with the lights on and try to "beat" it like a perfectionistic pro, you're going to miss out on what makes it so great. Don't do that! Don't reload to correct your mistakes, really turn the gamma down low so loot items are hard to find, and absolutely do not read walkthroughs or hints & tips unless you're truly stuck.

For a special challenge, the game allows you to disable the HUD entirely, making loot much harder to find. I played this way from beginning to end for greater immersion and it made the experience amazing.

The only ding I might make against the game is that some of the boss fights are a bit too unforgiving, especially as you aren't trained to use all available abilities. For example, one fight is made much easier if you remember that crouching can help you dodge attacks ... yet crouching to dodge is not suggested or useful at any prior point in the game, so there's no reason you would think of it now. Another boss' weak point is the stomach, with no feedback to make you guess that, as up to that point headshots are most effective against every enemy. A good boss fight is a "final quiz" of skills the game has taught you; here, each new chapter fight throws the old rules out the window. This is not an insurmountable problem for the player but I feel it could have been handled better.

I got the game on sale for a bit under $20 and playing the main game took just under 15 hours. I definitely got my money and time's worth and look forward to enjoying the free bonus "side stories". Even without the extra content I would be completely satisfied with my purchase. Well done CAPCOM!
Posted March 11. Last edited March 11.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
3 people found this review funny
2.4 hrs on record
Read the entire review before deciding whether to play the game.

Buy the game now and play it before reading the rest of the review.

Quick game, worth your time and money. 5 minutes to beat, but you'll be back in 5 years.

Don't read the entire review.
Posted March 8.
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4 people found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Dull. A story that is thin, underdeveloped, predictable, cluttered, and distracted all at once.

Bloober Team are great at art but lousy at pacing and storytelling. This is more like a tech demo of a first-person engine and the design of a single, linear level of a spooky house than something approximating a real game. It even fails as a "walking simulator" by adding an atrocious pixel hunt at the end, breaking the mood completely.

Pacing in particular is awful. Nothing is done to build any attachment to the protagonist, or establish any kind of normalcy to offset the disturbing images to follow. Within 5 minutes of entering the house (Why am I there at all?), walls are disappearing and furniture is flying around. Keys are found before you even know there's a locked door somewhere, and seconds later you use them and they're gone again. A passage might lead to a dead end, and turning around reveals a new door, which is cute once; but the game uses this device over and over, quickly rendering it tiresome. Everything is changing constantly around you and progress is almost entirely linear, killing any sense of place or exploration. When walls turn into doors and doors turn into walls all the time, you soon feel that nothing matters, and there's no incentive to do anything but spin the mouse wildly and hold down W. "Creepiness fatigue" sets in almost immediately. No context is ever provided for the random spookiness, other than a rather trite and shallowly drawn story about the unfortunate events that took place in the house in the recent past. Spoiler: it turns out the protagonist is a murderer!! Whadda twist!! This shocking revelation is disclosed within the first 15 minutes of the game, and it is the last surprise in the 3 hour story. The rest of the game is walking around in a spooky house and occasionally talking about it.

The game brags at the beginning about how it changes based on how you play, and implies that there are multiple endings; but everything that happens during play seems so meaningless that it seems impossible to try to influence the outcome of anything. Do you choose door 1 or door 2? Do you jump off a ledge or sit and wait? Do you approach the ghost or run away? Even that last one doesn't have an apparent effect on the story. Whatever the other endings may be, they are achieved by what amounts to flipping a coin.

EDIT: I looked it up. The alternate endings are unlocked by avoiding parts of the game. The expectation is that you'll open certain doors, but immediately turn around and walk away without looking inside. This is the amazing choice & consequence the game crows about. "I walked away from Door #551! What a fascinating decision that was."

The only saving grace here is how short the game is, and I mean that as an honest compliment. Although it overstays its welcome almost immediately, the time investment here is so minimal that it's almost worth it to play because you're not losing much by doing so.

But that's really the best that can be said for this. If you get it for free or as part of a bundle (I did), use this to kill an evening of boredom. If you're going to spend real money on a horror game, spend it on Dead Secret, The Park, or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. These are all much better games, and much better horror stories, for better prices.
Posted February 19. Last edited April 12.
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7 people found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Not brilliant, but good enough puzzle game. Charming, cerebral "vibe". Nice art. Thematic (but very repetitive) music. Some amusing and provocative puzzles at the beginning, making good use of the basic conceit of combining gravity manipulation with simple movement.

However, despite the game's "smart person" pretensions, later puzzle design is neither clever nor elegant, instead suffocating the player with an abundance of added rules and elements which ultimately grow tiresome. I found the early levels more interesting as they do more with less; later levels become exercises in laboriously unraveling tangled jumbles of doors, switches, magic curtains, parallel dimensions ... The challenge becomes one of patience rather than insight. Sifting through this mess is a real chore by the end, and although I like completing games, I didn't bother with the last few levels here.

Still, I found this diverting up to a point and it's worth a few hours of your time. It's particularly good when you only have a few minutes for gaming as each puzzle is brief and self-contained. Frequently on sale for just a couple bucks, grab it if you're looking for a thoughtful break from other pursuits.
Posted February 9. Last edited March 20.
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6 people found this review helpful
16.5 hrs on record
Yes. This is a fascinating game with wonderful reactivity, lots of dialogue, intrigue, and decision-making, and some fiendishly difficult puzzles that require careful reading and critical thinking.

Some have criticized the weirder twists in the story ... I think it all hangs together, perhaps not perfectly, but well. There is a shift in tone from a grounded political setting to a more fanciful plot. I don't believe it is a spoiler to point this out ... in fact it should make the game more enjoyable to bear in mind that occultism is a major factor in the makeup of the cast's belief systems ... and it is so for a reason.

Voice acting is somewhat amateurish, visual shadows are horribly janky and low-res, and there are tons of clipping issues with character clothing ... otherwise, the sights and sounds are a delight. The mansion is a beautifully compelling setting and the character designs and costumes are evocative of the period.

I certainly enjoyed meeting this great cast of characters, making and breaking friendships, learning secrets and deciding where my true loyalties were, as well as solving the myriad puzzles along the way. I found some VERY difficult - this is a game for smart people. Note that it's OK if you can't solve some as the entire game is built on 'failing forward' - just don't be surprised if the consequences are severe. I only had a real issue with the puzzle at the end of Episode 3 ... and after reading spoilers, even that one was tough but fair. (I didn't take into account all the information available - once I thought I had the answer I ignored what I thought were non-critical clues. Don't ignore anything!)

The full season took me 16½ very enjoyable hours. I paid about $20 and definitely got my money's worth.
Posted January 3. Last edited February 9.
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2 people found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record

What begins as a dorky jump scare (literal) theme park soon evolves into a deep and provocative psychological horror story.

Of particular note is the characterization of the protagonist, a young single mother. The "find your missing child" trope is hackneyed to the point of being insulting, but again this initial simplicity is very deceptive. The mother's personality and her real reasons for being in the park become increasingly compelling as the game goes on.

Sidebar: the game has a very neat feature I've not seen before. Right clicking at any time causes the heroine to call out to her missing child, and as the game progresses, these voice lines become increasingly stressed. I didn't overuse the feature but did use it often and I never heard a voice line repeated. This was a very effective way to draw me further into the character.

I'll say one more time that the story is excellent and you shouldn't miss it. Make sure to do the dark room, headphones on, turn down the brightness routine to maximize immersion. I recommend playing very late at night; I was somewhat tired when I played and it helped me soak in even deeper.

The game is only about two hours long, but it is all quality time. Frequently on sale and easily worth $5 or so. Grab it.
Posted December 21, 2018. Last edited December 23, 2018.
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53 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
19.8 hrs on record
Alien: Isolation is a masterpiece.

OK, OK, I don't want to oversell it.
But seriously, the game is very good and you should play it.

First, the art. In case you haven't heard, it's perfect. The recreation of the atmosphere of the 1979 film is nothing short of phenomenal. This faithfulness extends to music and sound design as well, and really every aspect of the game.

The characterization is brilliant. Every person, creature, computer, and public address announcement feel like they could have stepped right out of the film, without being derivative of the original cast. The protagonist, Amanda Ripley (daughter of the film's Ellen Ripley, portrayed by Andrea Deck), is an excellent lead; serious, relatable, competent, persistent. She is a survivor, strong and resourceful but without the bravado or arrogance that can ruin a heroic character. Above all, she responds believably to the stresses and horrors of her ordeal.

The writing also feels appropriate to the tone of the film. Dialogue is generally strong and realistic. The narrative starts well and ends well. I turned off dialogue subtitles (they got in the way of the visuals), which may have been a mistake as I found the story somewhat difficult to follow moment to moment, particularly throughout the middle of the game. Many have said that the 20 hour length is too long; while I am inclined to disagree, I believe that a greater sense of clarity in the story would have helped immensely. The first act is compelling and makes sense, and the last act is compelling and makes sense. The middle has a lot of sections where Ripley (an engineer) is directed to go and fix something on the space station, turn on a generator, get an elevator working, that sort of thing. Half the time when I would sit down to play for an hour or two, I would load the game and have no idea why I was doing what I was doing. The map screen states the current objective as minimally as possible. "Toggle the Gemini breakers" ... with no context or rationale. A brief story synopsis of the significance of each objective here would have been welcome. As it is, at times I felt myself not very excited to play because who knows what the hell a Gemini breaker is? Once I got "over the hump" to the end game, objectives became more down-to-earth* and the last several hours flew by.

*so to speak

Gameplay. Almost perfect. The stealth and combat mechanics are wonderful, and difficult enough to demand a high level of player engagement. The level design is excellent. The crafting system (cobbling together smoke bombs and noisemakers) is a useful and welcome addition. Availability of weapons and tools is beautifully balanced ... despite being a generally thorough player and seeking out hard-to-reach resources, I always felt a sense of scarcity. Overall, minute-to-minute play felt good and the actions I took were appropriate and engaging ways to further the story.

My only criticism to the gameplay is that the randomized behavior of the enemies often made play feel uneven to me. Sometimes the alien appeared suddenly while I was in the middle of a lengthy door-opening animation, killing me with complete unfairness; other times I ran loudly across a patrolled area without consequences. This type of thing promotes a very "trial and error" style of play where, contrary to the old trope about the definition of insanity, repeating the same behavior often will achieve different results. I found myself frustrated in several very difficult sections, reloading the game a dozen times or so, until I happened to get a lucky break in enemy behavior which allowed me an easy victory which felt unearned (but of course by that time I was glad to get it over with). Solving this problem from a design standpoint isn't easy but somehow I felt it could have been handled better.

Although this last complaint did cause some frustration, really it is a minor ding in what is otherwise a nearly flawless experience. Any negatives I discuss above only stand out in contrast to how magnificently the rest comes together. Please check out this game.
Posted December 19, 2018. Last edited December 23, 2018.
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Showing 1-10 of 77 entries