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66 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
76.0 hrs on record
Endless Sky is a free-to-play single player game and it took me around 45 hours or so to get to the end of the Free Worlds campaign. I didn't check to see if it had controller support, but I found keyboard and mouse worked just fine, with me just sticking to plain keyboard most of the time.

It's the early 31st century and like any bright-eyed youth on your backwater planet, you want to leave home and see the stars. You apply for a bank loan and drop the cash on your very first craft...and now that you're out in space, you need to figure out how you're gonna pay off that loan before the interest gets outta control. There are plenty of options out there for the enterprising captain, and some of them aren't legal. Decisions, decisions.

I never played Escape Velocity, but Endless Sky is something of a homage to it made by one guy in his free time with the help of users and fans' contributed content. I wound up playing this since my last foray into scratching that "gotta do space" itch fell apart, and I'm honestly impressed with what I found. Here, space is a 2D ocean seen from the 'top' sorta like in SPAZ, but everything is on its own invisible layer/plane when asteroids and other ships are taken into account. This goes out the window when weapons are involved. You can't ram ships but trying to down a target with missiles doesn't work too well when you're in the middle of an asteroid field.

Controls were kinda different and this was one time I didn't change anything. Arrow keys control thrust and turning (no strafing) and turning your ship around 180 degrees for reverse. From there, the keys are kinda weird because instead of them being in something resembling an array or shortcuts, they correspond to the action you want. So you hit L to Land on a planet, you hit J to Jump between systems, you hit F to have your fleet Focus fire on your current target, you hit B to Board a disabled ship, etc. Kinda intuitive too, I thought. You can use the mouse to click on things but I didn't do that too often except where the autopilot picked poor options for things I wanted to board or so on.

There is a small variety of missions. You have your standard "deliver X amount of Y resource to Z system," you have the same but with passengers, then you have those with time limits. When you jump between systems, the game's calendar advances a day, you pay crew salaries as well as the current payment on any ongoing loans, and your ship uses up some hyperspace fuel. Landing on most planets refills your fuel and repairs your ships, but also advances the calendar when you leave, so there is some strategy in planning routes to your destination. You are able to hail ships to request repairs or fuel, but it's not something I'd rely on, especially with several ships in your fleet. There are also "escort ship to X system" missions where you need to help another captain get their ship to whichever system without the pirates you'll undoubtedly face blowing them up first. And once you've won yourself some fights, you'll get bounty missions where you're to search nearby systems for a ship or a small fleet and destroy them for the bounty.

But those are just the sandboxy missions. There are currently two longer quest chains that have characters and actual choices and there is a major branch in the Free Worlds storyline too. The story missions are still kinda structured the same, but having actual interaction with characters makes it feel less samey as the random missions you get otherwise. Free Worlds deals with a terrorist attack and an investigation into the real culprit, while war with the Republic gradually becomes a reality. Or you can just ignore it all, but apart from explicitly timed missions, you lose nothing by putting things off for a few years. One minor gripe is that some story missions are unlocked by visiting random Space Ports on planets and hoping you trigger something to advance.

For those who want to do trading to get by, the interface is extremely easy to understand. Pick your destination system in the maps screen and look at the Ports submenu, and it'll show you the price difference for each commodity between the two systems. While prices fluctuate a little as you travel, I didn't see anything drastic like a 250cr profit per good dropping to -10 or something before I even got there. An early strategy I used was to find a nearby system with several quests I could complete at the same time and I filled up the rest of my cargo with the most profitable commodity to get a bunch of cash for one run.

Space combat is a little overwhelming when you first start out because all three of the starter ships aren't great at all and apart from friendlies in the system, you're on your own. There's an option to have the game automatically turn your ship to face your target so your forward-facing guns stay on target, and I'd suggest using that. You can later buy ships that have a turret slot and turrets fire independently of your ship's orientation, a massive help. When you have more ships under your command, they generally follow a 'seek and destroy' behavior, but you can have them either focus their attacks on a single ship, swarm around you, or hold position at a fixed point/current position. Your ships stop attacking (but fired projectiles keep going!) when an enemy ship suffers enough hull damage to shut down, and you're able to board the ship at that point. You can either take the ship's equipment like their thrusters or weapons, or you can try to take it over altogether with your crew fighting the other ship's crew to the death. It's kinda funny that you can get a lot of money by playing pirate against the actual pirates.

Customization in this game is pretty deep. Each model of ship has its own stats like hull integrity, mass, and a default loadout of engines and other systems as well as weapons sometimes, and there's a comprehensive stat screen for each ship that shows this as well as other information like how many degrees a second it can turn and how much heat total it can generate before it overheats. On planets with Outfitters, you're able to install different hardware on each ship in your fleet, provided you respect the limits placed on you. Every piece of equipment takes up Outfit Space, weapons take up both Outfit Space and Weapon Space, and engines take both Outfit Space and Engine Space. You also have only a set number of Gun and Turret Slots, and you also also have to mind the power generation and heat generation that comes from operating each ship. A lot of limits but there's still quite a lot of play with how you set things up.

I didn't really dislike much about the game. I would've liked an option to slow down combat since trying to give individual orders (hey you, nearly-dead ship--get outta here!) kinda didn't work, but you can click on the ship's icon on the bottom-left to sorta target it for commanding. I'd sometimes reload just because I lost a ship I liked. I mentioned the thing with the random nature of starting story missions and that kinda sucks. I really only had lag when I had a ton of ships on the screen fighting each other, even if everything's only 2D images. And shuffling parts between ships is a little bad because you have to sell the part to an Outfitter and then buy it back (at no net loss, thankfully) with the other ship selected to install it there.

It doesn't have much variety but I still got nearly 60 hours out of it. There's a lot of space for personal challenges, like "I want to have every node on the map unlocked" or "I want to amass a billion credits any way I can" or "I want to conquer Earth", but completing the Free Worlds story is really only part of the game and there's always more storylines to come someday. And if you like the game, you can contribute with plugins or new ships or outfits or entire quest chains if you want!
Posted June 15, 2017.
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2 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
25.4 hrs on record
I bought Dungeon Siege III with its DLC and the prior two DS games for $10 about five years ago. I gave it a little bit of a start back then but decided to just sit down and finish it this time. A little more than 24 hours later and I finished both the game and its DLC. I played as Anjali and maxed out Influence with Lucas and got halfway there with Katarina, and barely used Reinhart. I used an Xbox 360 controller for the whole game, playing in Fire Form and shooting people from afar and using her area-of-effect abilities when crowded. I'll explain that in a bit.

First, yes, Dungeon Siege III isn't really a good Dungeon Siege game. To me, DS games were about fielding a rather large array of characters and playing Diablo with them, as opposed to the "player and AI helper and summons" that's been the norm since at least Diablo II. Everyone had personality! And instead of hitting an arbitrary experience level and being given points to allocate, you had a 'gain by doing' system typical of some MMOs. If you swing a melee weapon a bunch, you'd gain ranks in the Melee class; if you used Combat Magic, you'd gain in Combat Magic. It did things kinda differently even though its goal of being a "Diablo killer" didn't quite take. So is Dungeon Siege III a bad game? No. It's just not really good as far as DS games of past, at least in terms of gameplay. It's pretty different.

Things are pretty bad for the 10th Legion in Ehb. Supposedly they murdered the king three decades ago and some fanatic from the church is hell-bent on killing every single Legionnaire, going as far as turning pretty much the entire country against them. How lucky that you're one of the last few descendants of the Legion. Join with your old friend Odo at the old Montbarron Estate and plot a counterattack! I'm sure nothing bad will happen before you get there...

Dungeon Siege III is an action RPG like previous entries in the series, but combat is a bit different and there's an even bigger focus on story than even DS2. Instead of creating a character from scratch, you instead have your pick between the sword-and-board knight Lucas, the spear and fireballs archon Anjali, the handguns and rifle Katarina, and the magic and more magic Reinhart. The story changes slightly based on who you pick, and you're able to meet the other three characters as you play and have them join you. DS3's 'gimmick' with combat revolves around the two stances. One stance is designed to deal with multiple targets close-by, like when you get mob rushed. The other is meant to handle single targets and for everyone but Lucas, you're able to attack at a great range with this. The idea is to swap modes as combat progresses but I didn't really do that. I can't remember any situation where you explicitly needed a ranged attack, so it's largely down to the stance's attacks and how comfortable you are with using them.

When you level up, you slowly unlock additional attacks for your two offensive stances and enable options for your third defensive stance. Each stance has three attacks and there are three options for defense, so you have nine total moves for each character. Each move can then be enhanced five times each from a pool of two mods--for example, one of Anjali's Fire Form special attacks creates a burning field under her. Your choice of enhancements are to simply boost the damage output of the attack or have it slowly heal any allies standing in its area of effect. You are able to mix the effects, but you're limited to a max of five no matter what. And you're also given points to provide unique passive boosts to your character, such as a percent chance to start regenerating health when damaged, a greater chance to crit a target at full health, or to simply boost one stat. Though you cannot take control of your allies, you can still equip them and allocate skill points and so on as if you could, so there's still some customizing potential. The Treasures of the Sun DLC adds the ability to completely respec your characters for 20,000 gold each--a little pricey but it's the only way to undo mistakes you've made in your build during the game.

DS3 has completely done away with potions. Small orbs drop from containers or enemies during combat--green ones restore health, blue ones restore Focus, and purple ones with yellow outlines restore Power. Focus takes the place of traditional MP in this game. You only ever have a max of 100 of it, and every special attack drains a set amount of it. It's restored by using your regular attack on enemies. Power is used to fuel your defensive stance's moves as well as the 'empowered' versions of every move, and that's restored by using your special attacks on enemies or taking damage. Empowered basic attacks generally deal more damage or hit a wider area, but empowered special attacks have effects like much more damage, a wider range, or being able to affect your ally as well as yourself. Empowered basic attacks are enabled as soon as you get the first Power orb, but getting it for special attacks requires you to use them quite a bit during your journey. The game at least lists the empowered benefit even before you purchase the special attack for use, so that's very handy.

There's still randomly-enchanted gear to find like in any ARPG. You have a pretty spacious inventory of I think a bit over 80 slots, but it can fill up especially if you forget to dump your trash at the local merchant. You can Transmute unwanted gear to get a fraction of its value in gold immediately and with the DLC, you can break down some gear to get reagents to apply to other gear with Enchantment, but I never really made use of it. Everyone has eight equipment slots and navigating it wasn't too bad with a controller. Each slot is a category and only the relevant gear shows up. You're given a window where what you have on is compared to what you have selected along with green and red arrows showing the changes in stats. Takes out some of the guesswork when you've figured out how to read it at least. This is the first game like this in a long time if ever where NPCs sold unique-class equipment. They still drop, but it didn't feel like it was at random. There's no player stash so holding onto them isn't really useful. They kept the "pick up everything nearby" button from the first two games though! So looting won't be tedious at all.

One problem I had with the game was that it took me a good while to really get into it. I don't know how much of it was "ugh this isn't Dungeon Siege of old" wearing off, but it did finally endear itself to me. It's too bad that point was roughly past halfway, though. I didn't do multiplayer but it has a pretty weird setup. You join someone's game and you play as one of their characters...and you take nothing back with you. Anything that drops stays with the host. You don't even get experience points or progress through the story. I didn't like the lack of fast-travel options. No Town Portal, no warping between save points, just you and having to hoof it at a plodding max speed. And...there's no way to save anywhere like the prior games. There are several save points, but I ran into "you cannot save until combat has ended" more than a few times, even if enemies weren't in the immediate area. Pretty annoying.

Overall, Dungeon Siege III isn't a bad action RPG. It's likely not going to be fondly remembered and some would argue it was what killed the franchise, if it'll be remembered at all. To me, it didn't really do anything terribly unique, nothing that was memorable other than having a lot of polish, especially for an Obsidian game. I had maybe two bugs and zero crashes the entire game, and that's pretty notable. But yeah. It's not bad, just not a good Dungeon Siege.
Posted April 1, 2017.
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15 people found this review helpful
62.5 hrs on record
I can't remember when I got EYE or how much I've paid for it, but it's been as cheap as 99 cents before and it was at one time given out as a gag gift for Christmas, like Secret of the Magic Crystals or Bad Rats. Don't let that speak of its quality, though. I also didn't record how long one go-through was, but I've also gone through this game around three times before writing this review, and I of course lost that save. I played EYE entirely with keyboard and mouse.

I've heard EYE be described as Deus Ex set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe (not officially of course), and though I don't know much about the latter series, it does kinda play a bit like the first Deus Ex. There's a grid inventory, your crosshairs shrink when you stand still, augmentations, skills affecting performance like an RPG even though it's an FPS--that sorta thing. You're one of the elite Culter Dei, one of the sects of EYE, which is itself a branch of the Secreta. And you've just woken in a cave with severe wounds and amnesia. Things are pretty bad elsewhere, too. Looters are everywhere, the Federation is investigating your employers, you're in a secret civil war with another sect of EYE, and there's this Metastreumonic Force that's creating monsters out of our darkest fears and desires. Plenty of targets...right?

EYE starts with you rolling stats. Pick three genes and hit Reroll until they look good to you. High Strength lets you hit harder with melee weapons, high Endurance lets you take more damage, high Hacking makes the hacking minigame easier, etc. What I thought was kinda nice is that there are two ways to manage your stats: The first is to manually assign your three stat points you receive on level-up. You can play any way you like and you have fine control over how your character develops. The second way is to let the game automatically assign your points based on how you play. If you shoot enemies a lot, you gain points in Accuracy; if you get shot a lot, Endurance, and so on. Most people would go for the first but it's kinda interesting to see how you develop with the second method, which I did this time around. While there is a pretty big variety of weapons and augmentations and powers available by default, there are many that require specific stats on top of the need for research and money too.

As for weapons, you have melee weapons, handguns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, heavy weapons, and a couple of other categories. Though there is a grid inventory, it is broken up into regions unlike Deus Ex's single big block. What this means is that you are usually limited on the guns you can carry since several of them are only big enough to fit in your big 3x5 slot on your back. Not to say you can only take one gun with you--handguns and the basic submachine gun can fit in your lower leg slots, but you'll likely be filling your arm/shoulder/upper leg slots with ammo. And this game did something I've rarely seen in other FPSes though it does come up--if you reload, you lose all of the ammo in your current mag no matter how full it was. You need to strike a good balance between literally wasting ammo and having enough loaded to take out your enemies without being forced to reload under fire. There's also a weight system where your choice of light/medium/heavy armor and all of your current gear slows you down, but I was pretty much at the 95% encumbered limit anyway. Several weapons have a firing mode toggle, like the HS010 submachine gun drastically boosting its fire rate at the cost of accuracy.

I didn't really do much with the magic/powers, the enhancements, or even the augmentations. There doesn't seem to be something like a basic fireball, but you can instead teleport into your enemy and telefrag him. Or with one of the end-of-route powers, cause your enemy to get hurt when you do and you heal when you hurt him. There weren't too many but you start with being able to make several weak clones of yourself that can attack the enemy and being able to convert dropped weapons and ammo into health. Augmentations are things like invisibility, making your shots 100% accurate, being able to see in the dark, and so on. Both powers and augmentations (and sprinting and superjumps) used your slowly-regenerating stamina bar, which refills faster by crouching. I very often found myself running low but that was due to my build and the lack of upgrades. Finally, enhancements are largely stat buffs, things like "run faster and jump higher with Cyber Legs" or "take less headshot damage with this upgrade" and so on.

There are many Research projects to find. Kill an enemy and they might drop a silver briefcase which contains a random project which you can then pay scientists to research for you, with an inversely-proportional slider for the speed of research versus the cost. Thankfully it doesn't take real-time days and hours to resolve. Once finished, you're given a notification and that research is permanently unlocked and you are able to move to the next thing to research. There's still a bit of a random element since you cannot unlock the entire research tree without these drops. But researching is always worth it, and I'd very strongly suggest researching the Medkit ASAP because it is the only other way to heal other than one of your starting spells. You'll be using it a lot, believe me.

This game does have three different routes, though the split is pretty far in the game. There are some different ways to approach mission objectives, but not to the extent of Deus Ex (the 'number of ways to solve a locked door' image doesn't apply here). Several maps have optional sidequests though it's hard to tell what is and isn't required to advance the main mission since they all use the same marker/icon. What's neat is being able to load a Temple HQ game and be able to visit any map you've cleared previously. You're given a set of objectives, but you're largely there to farm enemies for EXP and money. The maps themselves are pretty big and there are no loading screens except when you load them initially, like with other Source engine games. The wait times on an SSD are pretty minor.

Music is pretty ambient and voiced dialog is apparently not in any actual language, but it's there. I had a bit of slowdown in graphics but I don't know how well the "Source game so you can run it on a toaster" applies here because the game can throw quite a lot of mooks at you in these huge levels--and there are even options to make it do just that. Scenery isn't even what I'd call pretty because it ascribes to the "real is brown/grey" idea, but maybe that's the point. Part of the backstory is that the Metastreumonic Force apparently cropped up because of aggressive ecological destruction and expansionism by human hands, so places looking dull helps with that. A few areas were incredibly dark and I had to crank up the gamma just to see.

As for low points, the story is there but it's pretty hard to wrap your head around. I used to say that the story was incomprehensible, but it's just...weird. Some of the dialog comes off as poorly-translated, but I don't know if the translation was improved in EYE's big update a couple of years ago. You're probably not going to play for the story, though there's a pretty interesting one to dig up. And I didn't really like the hacking minigame, though you're thankfully not pitted against hardy targets the few times the game forces you to do it. Granted, I had bad stats for hacking too.

I enjoyed it, though it's pretty rough around the edges and the difficulty is all over the place. Even if it plays a lot like Deus Ex, it still does its own thing pretty well and there are zero non-fatal options here, though there's always the potential for stealth or different playstyles or builds, so there's probably something for anyone who likes RPGs mixed with FPSes here.
Posted February 12, 2017.
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13.2 hrs on record
I was gifted Broforce out of the blue for Christmas in 2016 by a friend. I started this on New Year's Eve playing coop with my dad, though we took a pretty long break near the end. It took us about 12 hours to get to the end of the game on Normal mode playing around 99% of it in coop, and we both used Xbox 360 controllers. Final stats say that we ended up with only 73% finished since we didn't complete any of the challenge stages.

So, this game is the most American game ever made. It's also a loving throwback to the action films of old and new, given how all of the playable characters are action heroes in some capacity. You can be Die H--er, John McClane, Neo, the T-800, William Wallace--even Bruce friggin' Lee! Ignore that not all of them are American! The story is...uh, there's these guys in ski masks threatening freedom all over the world, so it's up to the Broforce to kill them and return glorious freedom to the lands? You're not going to want to play this for the gripping story, believe me.

Broforce is a 2D platformer shooter game that's full of ridiculousness and explosions. There is a very large cast of characters to unlock as you rescue prisoners and everyone performs differently. The premise is pretty simple--start at one point in the map and get to the end without running out of lives. There are plenty of enemies, traps, and other hazards in the way. And there might be bosses at the end. Okay, so that's like every 2D platformer shooter from the NES onward. How's Broforce different?

There's a very large cast of playable characters, and you start each level as a random pick of the unlocked roster. As well as any time you respawn. And any time you rescue a SAVE prisoner and get an extra life. Every character has their own primary weapon, melee attack, and ammo-limited special attack, so you'll need to learn each character as you unlock them so you're not stuck in a bad position when you inevitably are put in their shoes. You could strategize, piling on extra lives as insurance or skipping them so you can play with someone you know better for longer. You unlock new characters by rescuing the SAVE prisoners, so depending on how many times you wind up dying, you may have a relatively small roster or like us, have everyone unlocked by the end.

The terrain is destructible too! Shoot it, melee it, blow up explosive crates and gas tanks...and kill the kamikaze mooks to leave gaping holes in the map. Even though most characters cannot attack directly upwards, it's still very handy to just carve horizontally through the level. Some later enemies are able to destroy blocks with their attacks, so you'll have to move quickly to keep from being unable to make jumps over pits of death. There are some neat features, like stone blocks that'll crush anything below them when they're loosened from the environment, or blocks that rapidly disintegrate when any one of them are touched, to some that regenerate when destroyed. There are spikes and landmines that are naturally fatal when landed on that you can destroy by plowing through their blocks.

This game was really fun in coop, though we only did local two player. There were several "oh ♥♥♥♥" moments and lots of cursing, though it wasn't entirely all in frustration. My dad is not really someone who plays 2D platformers and he wound up clutching through quite a few areas while I was dead, so that was impressive. You share a single screen and the game will attempt to accommodate you both, though it doesn't zoom out to do so except in boss battles, where I assume it does it by default. I didn't exactly keep count of how many times we wound up killing the other (there's no friendly fire but things like falling blocks and suicide mooks don't discriminate), but I was able to remind Dad about what his character could do and pointed out things like SAVE guys or places I saw enemies come from a few lives ago. The game is much more chaotic in coop because you have to mind the other player, but you also have to (or at least, should) share SAVE guys. If you die and have at least one life left, you can respawn at checkpoints when the living player reaches them, so you're not stuck on the sidelines for too long.

This game is nothing but stuff blowing up and bloody bits everywhere. Once again having a bunch of visual effects slowed my machine down, but it didn't really get in the way of the fun, gradual slowing versus complete stops. There are some pretty gruesome deaths (heads exploding, people getting flayed alive, etc.) but it's rendered in tiny pixels so it hopefully shouldn't be mentally scarring or anything. There is a little bit of varied scenery, like forests, jungle, underground, though you're not going to really be paying attention to anything but layouts and enemy placement and so on. There is a surprising amount of vertical play even on the regular horizontal levels, so there's some replay value in taking different routes, though you can't replay levels in the regular campaign. There's a level builder but I didn't use it or play on any custom maps, so that's another thing that can give lots more replay value.

I didn't mind the music and the level clear theme is nothing short of amazing, even more so with the boss clear theme. There is no real spoken dialog, just the overly bombastic announcer counting down and GOOOOOO and the varied responses when you game over. The Bros grunt and the ski-mask dudes have high-pitched screams. When you unlock a new character, there is a title card that appears with the Bro's name, a picture, and the announcer gives their name. When a boss appears, you get the same. And stay for the post-credits theme too.

The only complaint I really had with the game is that going through Campaign doesn't unlock the levels for Arcade, and there's no way to replay levels you clear in Campaign. It's only a minor complaint and as far as I can tell, the game is the same in Campaign and Arcade, but there are no story elements to get in the way (according to the in-game description), and no world map. You can start from any level you clear in Arcade from the very little I played of it, at least. Even on an SSD, the initial loading screen lasted about 30-40 seconds, though they're much shorter when you're actually playing. There were a couple of bugs I encountered, like killing a boss that spawned too early resulting in us needing to die to retry, and I actually got a bug during the final boss where he couldn't kill me. I didn't want to Restart Level since I didn't want to risk doing the whole thing over and beating the mission meant I couldn't redo just the fight either. But those were the only actual problems I encountered.

If you like a decent challenge, this this might be right up your alley. It was pretty hard with two people, but levels are fairly short...not that you'll be blazing through them with ease or anything. The only real problems I can see people having are with the pixel art, the random nature of play, and I guess the gratuitous violence, but this would make a great party game as you and your friends tear across the landscape and kill everything in your way (and each other by 'accident'). I didn't do online coop but I imagine it's about the same as local, and Dad and I had a great time even when we were repeatedly getting killed because things are just ridiculous. It's over the top, it's full of explosions and FREEDOM, and its lengthy campaign didn't overstay its welcome at all. This was an amazing ride.
Posted February 4, 2017. Last edited February 4, 2017.
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8 people found this review helpful
10.9 hrs on record
I bought Shadow Complex Remastered as part of a Humble Bundle and according to my final stats, it took me 4 hours and 22 minutes to finish the game at just 45% items found, Normal difficulty. I used the Xbox 360 controller the entire time.

Hiking with your new girlfriend is pretty fun, except the part where she gets separated from you while exploring the cave, and it turns out she's been taken captive by this group of people operating in this hidden facility in the mountains. Naturally, it's up to you to rescue her and figure out what's going on. There's a section at the very start of the game where you play as someone else with a taste of what to expect, though it's over pretty quickly.

Shadow Complex is a 2 1/2D sidescroller exploration game in a genre called "Metroidvania" referring to the 2D Metroid games and many of the 2D Castlevania games post Symphony of the Night. In order to rescue your girlfriend and stop what's happening, you need to explore this facility, finding new tools which will help you advance deeper in and will often have to return to previously-explored areas to use said tools to open up new routes. But you're just some guy as opposed to a bounty hunter in a techno-magic suit of armor or a vampire or vampire hunter. You don't even start with a gun!

The game still manages to do things a bit differently despite its inspiration. There's some stealth elements. Not akin to "get through undetected or game over," but you can sneak up on enemies and dispatch them with a silent melee attack as opposed to gunning them down at range and drawing the attention of everyone in the room. The game extensively uses all three dimensions to allow enemies to operate normally in the background, requiring you to aim and fire upon them and sometimes allow you an opportunity to take cover. And given how almost every enemy in this game is capable of ranged attacks, I found myself making use of cover an order of magnitude greater than I have in other Metroidvania. Special weapons still are limited by ammo, but so is your primary gun--you have a magazine you can empty and reload, but even though you have infinite magazines, you need to be mindful of how many shots you have left when you initiate a fight. Enemies need to reload too, so there is some strategy in waiting them out to have a safe moment to attack and then hide again.

The game strikes a mix of scenery, from the rocky forests on top of the facility to the lakes both above and below ground, to a cavern system, to the narrow hallways, to large cargo bays, to even a massive factory. You don't have sectioned-off areas like "lava area" or "underwater area" akin to other Metroidvanias, so it's possible that places will end up looking pretty samey after a while. Due to the movement system, you'll be spending quite a bit of time in airvents because there's just no other way into areas. There isn't a very large variety of enemies, which can help for learning what each is capable of. There is a small number of bosses too. Map is pretty big, though it doesn't follow the "one square is one screen" idea I've seen in other Metroidvanias, so it can be a little tricky when your radar shows an item nearby. There are two options for assistance, being a blurb about your current objective and also a blue line that passes through the facility to show you where said objective is, though the blue line does not update in real time with your current position.

The game's flashlight serves as a quasi X-Ray Visor, highlighting destructible objects in the environment with colors for what destroys it, like yellow/orange for the basic gun, green for grenades, red for missiles, and so on. Even though it can't stay on forever, it recharges very quickly, so it's a wonder why there was even a need for it to be timed to start with. You can aim your weapon and the flashlight in 360 degrees around you with either stick (left to aim and move, right for stationary), and while that sounds extremely useful, it was something I had great issue with and part of why I wound up not really liking the game in the end.

Aiming at a structure to see what destroys it? Great! Aiming at enemies who are firing at you while you try not to get hit in return? Somewhat problematic. And that especially came to light in regards to dealing with enemies attacking from the background. It felt like there was no way to predict if I would aim straight up or into the background, wasting precious time. I left the auto-aim option enabled and that didn't seem to help much. Because there's no mercy invincibility on being hurt (except contact damage?), enemies with automatic weapons are capable of burning through your health extremely fast, which further makes survival difficult. If you have nowhere to take cover and fire back on enemies who might be off-screen, you'll need to bounce around like a rabbit on crack to avoid gunfire, and good luck with that because regular gunfire travels very quickly. You are invulnerable during the melee takedown cutscenes, but you're helpess if you attract the attention of an enemy and are in no position to evade his gunfire when control is returned.

I had severe slowdowns during the game too, which I thought was due to playing it on a regular hard-drive--after finishing the game, I loaded it onto my SSD and it still suffered from slowdowns and there were still times where the game hung entirely for a second. There are no black screen transitions between doors like in Super Metroid, so the game likely streams all the data as necessary. I know my rig isn't the best but this is still a very common and noticeable issue, especially given there's a Speed Booster-esque upgrade in the middle of the game. I also had more than a few crashes, though those thankfully weren't very common. Just having the game crash on trying to load your save is pretty disheartening.

Saves happen instantly and there is no prompt or anything, just enter the room and it'll happen on its own. There are recovery items in each that disappear on use, but I didn't actually run into scenarios where I was left in a bad state after a save I couldn't opt out of. I didn't run out of special weapon ammo except for one case where I tried to solve a puzzle wrong. Enemies do drop restoratives, and thankfully they'll pop out in the playable area even if the enemy was in the background. I didn't have much luck keeping myself topped off by enemy drops, though.

Story takes place in pretty much modern times America with an impending invasion from within. There are a few cutscenes and some voicework by a pretty small cast. You can thankfully skip the proper cutscenes but sections where you sneak through an area and overhear mooks talk can't be skipped. Ignoring that there are two books about this universe written by Orson Scott Card, there's not really much story but it doesn't get in the way either. And speaking of audio, I didn't really find the music memorable. There was one nice piece during a section you flood that had to have been a reference to the crashed frigate Orpheon in the first Metroid Prime, but nothing else really stood out.

It's not a terrible game, I just didn't really have fun with it. And the problems I had really got in the way of enjoying what there was. It does things a little differently from the formula but it's still a Metroidvania through and through. Go find items and solve puzzles using your weapons! Shoot a bunch of mooks! Even if the flashlight gives away the solution most of the time. I just don't see myself coming back to this one. It's really a shame too since this was another begged-for port that I was looking forward to, and it just didn't do it for me.
Posted February 2, 2017.
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10 people found this review helpful
20.7 hrs on record
I bought Victor Vran in a Humble Bundle some time ago, though it was featured in a $1 tier recently. According to my final stats, I finished the game at level 36 after 15 and a half hours, also after dying 44 times. I cleared 92 of the challenges and found 44 map secrets. I played the entire game with the Xbox 360 controller, in offline/solo mode, on Normal difficulty.

Zagoravia is your typical fantasy 18th century European castle town--brickwork, festivals, housing districts, demonic invasion... Victor Vran is here to save the day! With his fancy hat! And this voice in his head that keeps making comments and taunting him?

Victor Vran is a different kind of Diablolike. I don't have a console so this was only the second one I've played with controller support ever, though there is a growing number that have it as an option. There's a large emphasis on movement and evasion. Levels are not 2D planes with built-up structures to give it depth--you can actually jump over low walls and wall jump into different areas, or just jump to evade attacks or free yourself from getting cornered. Victor only moves at one speed, so the dodge roll is essential to get a small burst of speed because it by default confers no bonuses, like adding defense or letting you use invulnerability frames to pass through attacks.

One thing that sets the game apart from others like it is the lack of classes. After the tutorial, you're given your choice of Outfits which affect how your Overdrive (mana) is generated/retained along with some provided stats like Health and Armor, but you can freely switch between them once you've found or earned a second set of threads. There are no stats to put points into or skills to waste points on to boost another further down the tree. When you level up, you gain a specific reward, like unlocking the second weapon slot or a bump in stats like HP or Destiny Card capacity, and so on. You invest in just your gear as opposed to both character and gear this time around, and that's where the diversity comes in--you eventually have two weapons to instantly switch from, two Demon Powers, two consumable potions/bombs, five Destiny Card slots, and your Outfit--all of those combine to make your build. And you can freely switch from a cast-heavy mage to a melee tank or whatever so long as you have the gear to support both of those roles.

But the diversity feels shallow in a way. Every weapon has three attacks, a basic and two special attacks with cooldowns. Every weapon of the same class has the same three attacks--a Scythe will always have the basic swing, the stunning wave, and the spin attack, regardless of its rarity or affixes. The only exception is Legendary items and they only put a spin on some attacks. The only Legendary weapon I found, the Chicken Cannon grenade launcher, fired three basic shots at different distances in short succession but the other two attacks were just like every other grenade launcher in the game. Same with spells--Boomerang will fire a medium-range projectile forward and have it return to you, with the only variations being its damage per second and its effect radius. It's not entirely bad--you get used to a weapon's attacks and the comparison between two weapons of the same type comes down to solely stats. It's always stats.

Each map has their own optional challenges, like killing X many monsters in Y amount of time, or using one monster's self-destruct feature to kill other monsters, or killing a boss with Hexes active without using Demon Powers or shrines...or just finding all of the hidden chests in the map. Each map challenge awards gold, EXP, or items when completed, so they're worth at least attempting. You can easily reset the map and unfinished challenges from the menu, so that was a nice feature. You also unlock Hexes during level up, further optional challenges that alter enemies while granting you more EXP and items. One makes them hit harder, one makes them move and attack faster, one gives them enhanced defenses and natural HP regen... Some maps call for one or more Hex active for some challenges, and you are given rewards for using Hexes after so many kills. Having all five active makes the game pretty difficult, though I stuck with three almost the entire game.

You know how in most Diablolikes, items rain down and it's your job to pick through it all and make repeated trips to town to sell the junk? I didn't have that experience in Victor Vran. Because of the page-based nature of the inventory, I never figured out what the maximum you could carry for any one category was. I only returned to town when I finished a map and I either transmuted or sold off everything below Rare in quality on equips and I never touched Demon Powers or Destiny Cards. I honestly bought quite a bit of stuff from the vendors--my final melee weapon of choice came from a store even--and in my past experiences with other Diablolikes, I usually stop checking stores past the first part of the game because their offerings are meager versus what monsters drop. I have to say that it was actually kinda refreshing to not have to stop the action every few minutes to sort the keepers from the crap, but then I also didn't have any +item gear equipped apart from the Hexes.

Controls for the most part worked out well. Left stick to move, right stick controls camera (no zooming unfortunately), camera largely didn't hamper me at all. I only had issue with a couple of wall jumps because it seemed like if I tried it on a wall that wasn't fully solid or angled right, I'd just jump against the wall and not rebound. It was a little temperamental but it was the exception as opposed to the norm, thankfully. I had trouble with using the inventory with a controller, especially with shops. Trying to check your currently active Destiny Cards without the cursor deciding it wanted to check your inventory was a bit of a chore--one of the times where I'd use the mouse instead. The currently-targeted enemy has a glowing mark under them, but I found that I had to steer Victor towards my intended target in melee a few times because he seems to prioritize by proximity. Ranged combat is also a bit of a chore if you're facing multiple targets and want to focus on one since you have the same glowing circle to go by. I imagine those using keyboard and mouse wouldn't have as much an issue.

I had a couple of slowdowns even in the hub level safezone, so I wound up bringing the graphics to Low early on. I don't think it really affected anything, and you're zoomed out enough that you can't check out details anyway. Game ran at 60FPS except when I got mobbed hard in a few zones, and the cutscenes run at 30. They're of the "slightly moving still image" variety as opposed to full FMVs. And since I'm already kinda talking about it, the story's pretty basic. There's a demon invasion--go kill everything and get loot. The narrator and Victor will make comments at certain points, but nowhere near the frequency of Bastion or Transistor. There isn't a lot of voicework overall especially considering the small cast, but you're here to kill things, not listen to the townspeople. The music was pretty ambient, nothing terribly memorable apart from the town theme, and it wasn't anything I was muting either.

I enjoyed the game, a few hiccups aside. It's nice to have such an active take on a genre I'm pretty familiar with, where instead of just clicking and getting into the fray and kiting, I can actually jump and roll and rocket jump out of harm's way. And actually clear those insurmountable waist-high fences for once! There's currently an expansion based on Motorhead in the works, so I think I'll come back to see what all that adds. And maybe try multiplayer or the bonus dungeons, or maybe a few of those challenges I didn't clear the first time?
Posted January 29, 2017.
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12 people found this review helpful
13.1 hrs on record
I received Metal Gear Rising as a gift in a Secret Santa games swap, and it took me around nine hours to get to the end of Raiden's scenario, with a total of about 13 hours to also clear the DLC stories. I played entirely with an Xbox 360 controller and set my difficulty to Normal for the entire game.

I don't really have much experience with Metal Gear. Just the first two Solids, the first two Acids, and that's it. I know enough about the series that I can say this is a Metal Gear game just the same that it isn't. There's a lot of exposition and philosophizing and utterly weird bosses, but instead of non-lethal incapacitation mixed with hiding or sneaking past enemies, you are an engine of bladed death. There are some stealth sections, but there's nothing wrong with just hacking people to tiny bloody chunks--and the game's designed to render all of these little pieces too. It might have more in common with Devil May Cry than its home series, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

The game is focused almost entirely on swordplay with a few different weapons like a polearm-whip or consumable weapons like rocket launchers and grenades. You are given BPs for performing well and you can use these to unlock additional moves as well as alternate outfits and health/power upgrades. Enemies mostly stick to melee attacks themselves, though you'll be fending off gunfire if you leave them alone at a range. Parrying is an integral part of the gameplay, watching enemies for when they're going to attack and deflecting it accordingly, negating damage. Raiden might have a fancy new body but he can't just tank hits. Blade Mode allows you to slow time and let you hack wildly at an enemy, and it was kinda neat to have fine control over your slashing using the right stick.

Blade Mode is also required for one of the game's other notable features, Zandatsu or 'cut and take'. Weaken an enemy enough and when in Blade Mode, you'll be given a target--cut it free and press the prompted button and Raiden will reach in and grab it, crushing it in his hand to restore health and fuel which powers Blade Mode. It's a nice way to heal mid-battle when things go poorly and it powering Blade Mode means you can potentially chain these together to walk off the battlefield unharmed and ready to repeat the process. It's a great way to preserve the consumable medkits for the boss fights where you won't have this ability to rely on.

The controls were pretty tight. I thought the feature of controlling the angle of cutting with right stick was a bit neat but unnecessary, but you are given BP bonuses for cleanly severing body parts off of enemies and you can actually nonlethally incapacitate enemies by removing their limbs if you want (it's okay, they're cyborgs, they'll understand). There is a very small number of parts in the game where the directed angle is necessary, though. The camera for the most part cooperated with me, but it went nuts a couple of times due to trying to keep an enemy in sight and dealing with a nearby wall. There was only one platforming section and not only was that in a wide-open area, it was part of a DLC mission. For the most part, you really ought to be fine with the camera and the controls. There are some QTEs--the basic "push the face button!" one, one prompt to use Ninja Run to climb on a barrage of missles, and another to tell you to use Blade Mode to trigger an assault on part of a large enemy or just to destroy your target.

Something needs be said about the music. It's pretty heavy on the metal side, but the game puts a nice spin on the variable mix idea during the boss battles. It's instrumental during the first parts, but then the lyrics kick in when you've done quite a bit of damage, and the lyrics are even relevant to the boss or the circumstances of the fight! Like, "Rules of Nature" for Metal Gear RAY could be from the point of view from the weapon itself--a once top-of-the-line piece of hardware facing its last days of relevancy, the hunter becoming the hunted, and 'survival of the fittest' still doesn't guarantee if the strong or the weak will survive in the end. There have been games with relevant lyrics before, but it's kinda neat to hear the enemy get their own 'theme music power up' in a way when you're starting to do well against them.

I ran the game on Low graphics because I have an aging rig, but I was honestly surprised that I got 60FPS almost constantly, with 30FPS cutscenes and the game really only lagging when I had hacked enemies to hundreds of bits--and there's even a setting to control how many chunks get rendered! The game still looked great even at supposedly low quality, not that I put it up to High to compare. My resolution (1360x768 on 32") wasn't high enough to have the textbox information during the codec calls be readable, though.

The only thing I didn't really like about the game was the length, or I guess the pacing. It was a pretty short game (in-game stats listed getting to the end of Raiden's story at under five hours, not accounting for redos), and there are only eight chapters total, with two more as DLC. It was kinda jarring that one boss fight was the entirety of one chapter, and that doesn't even count the long slog of a final boss fight taking up the majority of the final one. I kinda struggled with the final boss too, given I burned all of my medkit revives beforehand so I absolutely had to learn how to read their attacks or die very quickly. I don't think I really got a good grasp on the fighting system, though I was pretty good at parrying. I didn't really look at the combo list so that might've been to my detriment in the end.

Overall, Metal Gear Rising is a ridiculous game that I guess fits right in with the equally-ridiculous Metal Gear series. Bisecting 30-foot tall giant mechs is totally normal. It's very actiony and I didn't play MGS4 but at least there isn't a save point during a long stretch of cutscenes here. There's some replay value in trying to get all of the collectible left arms or getting better ranks or getting achievements. Already familiar with Devil May Cry? This is kinda like that, but it's not as though it's DMC with a Metal Gear skin. It's definitely worth a try if you're into high-action games that might require a little twitch reaction for parrying and the QTEs. It's a hell of a ride and fun throughout.
Posted January 22, 2017.
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11 people found this review helpful
19.6 hrs on record
I actually preordered this game from the dev's itch.io page in 2015 for $8 and it took me about 14 hours to get to one end. I played entirely with just the mouse.

Glitch City in the 2070s is a pretty crappy place to live. There are food and medicine shortages, on top of massive inflation and ever-rising crime. But all of these serve as backdrop to the story. You are a humble bartender in a hole-in-the-wall bar in Hall-A of the VA-11 building. Instead of fighting a shadow government or an ancient conspiracy, this cyberpunk game sees you listening to your patrons' stories and troubles as you mix up a variety of drinks.

This game is a bit on the kinetic side of visual novels, at least at first glance. There are zero dialogue choices, for one. Clients can ask for drinks and it's your duty to serve them as asked...but you don't necessarily have to. So the drinks are arguably your choices. Will you serve as asked, will you serve at your whim, or will you try to get people drunk? Would you rather get the flawless serving bonus, or just screw with orders to see how people react?

Gameplay is easy, but that's how visual novels are. Read a bunch of dialog, and when prompted for a drink, find the drink in the catalog (by name, by flavors, by type), and it'll tell you how many of each of the five ingredients it needs, if it needs ice and/or aging, and if the concoction is mixed or blended. Some might call for optional Karmotrine, which controls how alcoholic a drink is, or someone might have a vague order. If Jill isn't distracted, she might have a comment to help you in the mixing screen. It helps to pay attention and you might be rewarded if you remember what your clients like. You are paid by commission and by performance, too. There's a lot of dragging-and-dropping involved and clicking to advance the text otherwise.

The game is spread across a couple of weeks near the end of December, each day starting in Jill's apartment and then working in the bar proper. You are given notice about incoming bills and also items that have caught Jill's eye, which you are encouraged to buy to keep her focused at work. You can read the news, and later read up on a forum and a character's blog before you start the day. This naturally means that the scenery doesn't change very much, but I didn't see it as a problem. This is more a game for the text and the story as opposed to fancy CGs and all. Art is retro-inspired but vibrant and the characters are fairly detailed, several with a number of expressions. There was a minigame you could buy but I was dutiful and kept my spending to aa minimum...and still got the "bad" ending. Whoops. You have 24 save slots with opportunities to save in Jill's apartment and on her mid-day break, so there's opportunity to see alternate dialogs if you're willing.

Music is really catchy and there's a lot of ambient music. The start of each shift and return from break sees you interact with the jukebox and pick 12 songs to randomly play during that part of the game. There are quite a few songs to start with, but some have to be unlocked during the story or buy buying them between shifts at work. There is no voicework, but tones play when characters speak. There are a couple of other sounds effects too.

Overall, the experience was great. I loved the dialog and the varied cast of characters, like the shameless robot prostitute or the camgirl or the idol singer...or the pompous oaf with the cryptic drink orders or the dog with the Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses. This is on the funnier side, but there are still some sad and serious moments. There were quite a few "did they really just say that??" moments with the dialog too. Like the story camgirl had about her former manager (papercuts, ow). Nothing naughty is actually shown but the text makes up for it, all right.

The only thing I didn't like was at the very beginning, a crucial thing about the shaker that you're not told about and this tripped up a lot of people going by the discussion forum. I thought that you just let the shaker stop on its own (and it never will), thus getting stuck on the very first drink you're told to make. Mixed drinks are in the shaker for under five seconds, blended drinks are in there for longer than five (the shaker speeds up). After that, the rest of the game is smooth, and I didn't really have a problem with anything else.

Edit: It turns out that if you actually make a Sugar Rush as Gil originally tells you at the very start, he'll explain about mixing and blending, as well as how to age/add ice. So making the Piano Man is basically the "I already know this tutorial" option, so watch for that! So really, that problem was my fault in the end.

If you're someone more into gameplay than story, you might not like this one since it's very heavy on the story side. But, you know, visual novel. The dialog can be off-putting to some, and there can be issue raised with a few characters, but I just attribute it to the kind of place Glitch City is. And it's your bar that attracts the interesting ones...
Posted January 15, 2017. Last edited January 17, 2017.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
76.9 hrs on record
I saw that Dragon's Dogma was in the December Humble Monthly and I had some interest in the game, so I jumped on it for $10.80 with a few other games. I wound up finishing the game at 53 hours and finishing the postgame to unlock New Game Plus at 65. I played the game with the Xbox 360 controller only. I took my time, but I didn't complete all of the quests or even touch Bitterblack Isle (DLC area). I played a little of each class but stuck mostly with Strider/Assassin.

Life in Cassardis is pretty nice as a fisherman. The days pass by in absolute peace and you couldn't be happier. And then one day, a dragon attacks your village and you feebly attempt to fight it off, only to get your heart ripped out of your chest for your trouble. But you don't die. You become something more than human, an Arisen, an ageless but not immortal being challenged by the dragon to reclaim your heart. But along the way, there are many people who need help, and what better way to sharpen one's skills than slaying countless monsters and taking their loot?

Dragon's Dogma is a third-person action RPG. To me, it felt a little like a mishmash of elements from The Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, and even Phantasy Star Online. It still manages to stand as a unique product all the same, though. The game takes place in a wide-open sandbox like TES, the combat is weighty like Dark Souls, there is climbing on giant enemies like SotC, and the team aspect reminds me of PSO though your allies are all AI-controlled. You jump, you swing your weapon, you'll probably get knocked down, stunlocked, and die a few times starting out. What I liked about the world was that enemies don't scale, like in Morrowind or Dark Souls. If you go to an area you aren't meant to be in for a while, you'll certainly feel it in the encounters. But on the other hand, you'll eventually hit a point where you overpower your enemies.

Health had an interesting mechanic I've only seen in fighting games prior--a recoverable damage portion of the bar. You have a green health bar, representing your current health, and when you take damage, you may have some white health bar, which represents how much magic and some other effects can heal you. Grey/black bar is completely gone and can only be restored with items, resting, and some other things. If you have a healer and neglect to take any restoratives, you can still be whittled to death, so keep that in mind. Stamina governs all skill use, be it weapon or magic, as well as sprinting, clinging to giant enemies, holding objects/enemies/other people, and so on. Thankfully, you can sprint infinitely in safe areas, so that's a very nice touch. A weight meter pops up whenever you cross the next weight category threshold, and it's visible at all times when you're looking at the inventory.

Sword, bow, or magic? There are nine Vocations in DD, and they're all based around these archetypes and combinations of them. A Fighter uses a sword and board to safely approach and dispatch enemies, while its advanced version Warrior uses only two-hander weapons to destroy enemies, and a hybrid Magick Knight can cast party-wide buffs and attack at range with unique spells as well as knock some heads in melee. Each Vocation has nine ranks which determines the active skills and passive boons you can buy and equip, and each Vocation also adds a specific amount of points to your stats when you level up, so there is some potential for min-maxing. You cannot sculpt an entirely-unique character out of all the skills you learn--for example, even though your Fighter can use a sword like the Assassin, you cannot use their Gouge ability. Passive skills at least do transfer over, so there is still some flexibility to be had.

Your Pawn is able to use six of the nine classes and they can learn and use skills exactly the same as you do. You get to design your hero and their stalwart ally, the latter of whom will learn from your actions and attempt to act as you do when it comes to combat and other actions--this can be both good and bad, understandably. Breaking off of combat to go pick flowers could result in your Pawn doing the same, just the same as clearing out the goblins escorting a cyclops first . Monkey see, monkey do. You are also able to hire two additional Pawns created by other players, though you've no impact nor control over their behavior or skills. This is the most prevalent online aspect to the game (the other being an instanced fight against an optional superboss) and it's kinda neat to see how other people have built their helper, not only in appearance, but skills, behavior, and personality.

A neat thing about the character builder is that the features have a gameplay impact. Apart from character height affecting hitbox, short and tall characters climb at different speeds, much like how a heavy character burns through (and recovers) stamina slower than a beanpole character, but they also don't flop around as much when a monster tries to shake them off while climbing. Which is more important to you--stats or appearance? You have specific things like faces and noses and eye shapes, and you can somewhat fine-tune them with sliders, like eyeball spacing or eyebrow height. You're only able to pick hair/eye/skin color from a list as opposed to setting RGB values, but few games allow the latter. There is a pretty wide variety of equipment for a number of slots: Head, torso clothing, torso armor, leg clothing, leg armor, arms, a cloak, and two unseen jewelry slots. Almost everything provides some modicum of defense, though some people would rather try to make an attractive ensemble out of the gear their class can use.

The game repeatedly warns to be careful out in the wild during its loading screen tips, and it's not kidding. While you are able to pause the game and spam health restores when things go poorly, you can't expect to do this and win every fight. Part of combat is watching enemies and knowing when to block or dodge and when to strike back, but also striking to stagger or knockdown foes. This applies mostly to the melee classes, but ranged classes need to make use of positioning and knowing where the enemies are, so one can't sneak up and interrupt your spell. One neat thing is that you can actually grapple several non-giant foes that are staggered or downed--you can either pick them up direct to toss off a cliff for an easy kill, or hold them fast so your allies can get free shots while your opponent is vulnerable. And your Pawns will do these too, so pay attention and work together to efficiently cut through everything in your way. Just remember that even with a lantern, nights are still incredibly dark and spawns change depending on the time of day.

When it comes to big monsters, you and your allies can and are encouraged to climb them, to gain better access to a weak point, to have a way to damage it even while it moves across the battlefield, or just to keep yourself safe from its attacks. These fights are really where the teamwork aspect of the game shines. You might climb on top of an armored cyclops to remove its helmet so your bow-using Pawns can drill its eye with arrows. You might have a Mage pawn enchant your weapons with fire, which you then use to knock a griffon out of the sky by setting its wings on fire. You might also hold on for dear life while the thing you're clinging to rages, pausing to replenish your dwindling stamina. And the battle music changing as you've got the beast on its last legs is a nice touch too. The controls are the only really bad part because it turns into tank controls (left/right to turn as opposed to move left/right) and it can be difficult to tell which way you're moving sometimes.

Steam's cutting me off, but I really did enjoy the game despite me overhyping it!
Posted January 4, 2017.
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2 people found this review helpful
13.4 hrs on record
I bought Card City Nights in May of 2014 for 99 cents and almost two years to the date, finally started and finished the game after around 13 hours. I only used my mouse and didn't try the other control methods, or was even aware there were any.

True to its name, Card City Nights is a collectible card game with a strong focus on combat. As a new arrival to the island, you quickly learn about the game and how everyone is positively bonkers about it. The plot is fairly basic--find the eight Legendary cards and face the Card King in combat for the million-coin prize. The protagonist resists at first, but they have a free deck of cards and there are plenty of people to face, so why not?

The tutorial gave a pretty easy overview of the rules. You and your opponent each have a 3x3 board, a coin is flipped to determine who goes first, and you both draw five cards to form your hand. Then it's a matter of linking your cards' arrows together in order to attack, defend, and recover. You lose if your life hits zero, if you fill your board and can't place a card, or if you completely run out of cards to play. Matches are played in best of 1/3/5 format, and there didn't seem to be a penalty for losing other than having to start that fight over from the beginning. Several cards have a variety of effects, such as one reviving a random downed card and then disappearing off board, or moving to an open space every time you start your turn, or having an additional effect depending on what kind of combo it's a part of.

And like most other card games, most of the game takes place outside of battle where you try to put together a deck that can't be beat. You have to build a deck of 25 to 40 cards, and you're allowed five dupes of common cards, three of uncommon, only one rare, and only one total Legendary per deck, so there's a lot of options. My interest in the game kinda waned until I woke up and just made a deck from scratch, paying attention to arrows and effects I wanted. Everyone in the game uses a different deck though they only stick to one, so you could honestly tailor a deck around destroying specifically everyone as you play. In battle, you're at the mercy of RNG on your draws as well as what the opponent feels like using on you, but outside of perceived biases, the game felt fair about random targets. Kinda hard to say that when victory is snatched from you with a convenient draw for your opponent, though.

I was kinda surprised at how much dialog there is. You can talk with several people at each location and everyone has quite a few things to say, especially if you can fight them since they'll have different things then. Of course this is entirely optional, but it's kinda neat. Characters have things to say about other people, or you, or other things. One NPC in the mall had what felt like 100 things to say, though thankfully that wasn't the norm. That all of the characters come from prior Ludosity/Daniel Remar games might be a treat to some, seeing familiar faces in different roles (and on the cards), but this was my first so I'll be facing retroactive recognition whenever I go back for Ittle Dew and pick up some of the others.

As for things I didn't like...I initially didn't like that you couldn't outright buy new cards. When the shop unlocks early in the story, you're only able to buy extra copies of the non-Legendary cards you have already. To get new cards, you have to fight certain NPCs for their boosters (or trade them in later on), so you're at the mercy of RNG for what cards you receive, but each booster NPC provides only one specific pack and each card is tied to a specific booster. You can keep fighting them to eventually get the cards you want, but my only other complaint is that there's no card catalog to fill out. It'd have been especially helpful to at least see what cards you have/have seen/haven't seen so as to know how to get that amazing card you saw your opponent use and to scratch that completionist's itch, but I guess the guides on Steam have you covered there if you want to do some cross-referencing.

Overall, I liked CCN and I think it's definitely worth the buck I gave for it. If you're into card collecting or deck building or whatnot, you'd probably like it too. Difficulty is kinda hard to pin down since each person has their own deck setup, so you can go from being stonewalled to being locked down to being blitzed to being drained of cards. You'll probably have to lose your first fights with everyone so you can learn their decks and how to counter them, so that might turn some people off. But as someone who seems to have interest in card games but rarely plays them, this was not a waste of time at all.
Posted May 13, 2016.
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