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Recent reviews by Duke of the Bump

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Showing 1-10 of 38 entries
No one has rated this review as helpful yet
1.7 hrs on record (1.7 hrs at review time)
A better long-belated sequel to a 1996 FPS than Duke Nukem Forever
Posted May 19.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
85.7 hrs on record
The thing Yakuza 0 excels at is giving you a cool world that you want to hang out in, and cool characters that you want to hang out with. The actual nuts-and-bolts story is nothing special, and the plot is mostly driven by characters with confusing motivations making bizarre decisions and only surviving thanks to deus ex machina, but the characters are great and I stayed invested in their personal stories. I'm not normally one who wants a game to make an attempt at "cinematic", but the cutscenes in this game pull it off. The voice acting, cinematography and facial animations have a level of artistry that's rarely seen in games. I don't understand a word of Japanese, but the strong personalities of the actors still came across (thanks in no small part to the excellent localization.) A 20-minute cutscene could happen that made me forget I'm playing a game, and that almost never happens. It's the most well-made crime soap opera I've ever seen, and the story might not be literature, but damn if it's not entertaining.

The combat systems have a huge amount of complexity, but I wouldn't call any of it good or interesting. It's complexity for its own sake. Two characters with 3 very different fighting styles each and a dozen moves within each skill set sounds like a lot of options, but none of the options are better than just mashing out the same 4-hit-combos over and over again.

The "heat actions" are very fiddly to pull off, and not worth the effort it takes to execute them. In the time it takes to position yourself just right, manage to hit the extremely tight timing window, and watch the canned animation, you could have killed the enemy using basic 4-hit combos and already moved on to the next guy. The heat action animations are very cool to watch, but after the first time you see them there's no good reason to use them again. They're flashy but ultimately make the fights harder and more time-consuming than they'd be if you just stick with combos. Everything but the boss fights feels like a musou game: mashing buttons to effortlessly carve a path through hundreds of generic enemies who barely fight back. I played on normal, but I don't expect higher difficulties to add anything but bigger health bars and more damage, which would not make it less tedious. None of the rewards for any of these fights is worth it. You get money rewards for varying up your fighting style and using heat moves, but it's still a fraction of a percent of money you can get through other avenues, and all you can really do with money is upgrade the fighting styles that don't matter and unlock moves you'll never use.

Luckily, the game gives you plenty of tools for avoiding random fights, and I recommend using them. It's still annoying having to deal with groups of enemies that constantly get in your way while you're trying to get to a place, but it's better than actually fighting them. The combat doesn't get in the way of the good parts of the game too much, but since it's an action game, it'd be nice if the basic action mechanic was at all interesting.

The boss fights are more thoughtfully designed, and require actually paying attention and using your skills wisely. These fights are few and far between, and always involve scripted fights where you're just slaughtering hundreds of randos before you can get to the good part. They should have cut 90% of the fighting out of the game, made the fighting that's there more interesting, and made the game half as long.

With the elephant in the room out of the way, here are the good parts, and why I recommend the game: The characters are amazing. The world is brimming with personality and the cities of Kamurocho and Sotenbori feel truly lived in and vibrant. You're constantly being approached by down-on-their-luck residents enlisting your help solving their wacky conundrums. The substories are consistently entertaining vignettes that play out mostly like interactive fiction, where you're making a few choices and watching the consequences play out. The choices may effect the quality of reward you get, but it's not possible to actually "fail" any of them, I think. Most of them involve at least a little bit of fighting, but it's not a ton and it helps set the pace. There were only a couple substories that I thought fell flat; by and large, the writing ranges from interesting to hilarious. There's dozens of these and they're the highlight of the game. Each of the protagonists makes an excellent foil for the bizarre scenarios, in their own way. Kiryu is the lovable doofus straight man who just wants to help how he can, Majima is the incredulous observer who mostly goes along with it to satisfy his curiosity.

There's a ludicrous number of side activities for you to do. The city's filled with activities and minigames and most of them are at least competently designed. The two big ones are the business simulations: Kiryu with his real estate business, which mostly plays like an idle game with occasional bouts of combat and a bit of a scavenger hunt element. Majima's cabaret club is a business simulation that you take a more active role in and plays not quite like anything else I've played. They're both great, and they each double as a substantial substory in their own right. I won't say either of the stories are as good as the smaller random substories, but they each have a lot of character moments I enjoyed.

There's a dozen other minigames and most of them have some sort of cool character moment or mini-story associated with them. Try them all, play the ones you like, ignore the ones you don't. This would be a miserable game to try to 100%, so I can't recommend it to anyone with obsessive completionist tendencies. A couple of the minigames are just plain bad (the catfight club and the toy car racing) and a couple of them are too in-depth to dedicate the time and effort to learning (the mahjong and the shogi.) But hey, maybe you'll try them and discover that they're your jam, in which case great. There's going to be at least a handful of somethings in this game for everyone. There's even a giant arena combat tournament for people who like the combat and want to get into that.

This is a fantastic game to chill out with. You can spend a couple hours running your businesses, a couple more doing whatever random minigames you like, discover some substories along the way, have some laughs, take a break, then come back and continue the soap opera. It's very flexible and for the most part lets you play it at your own pace. One minor bummer is that it doesn't let you freely switch between the two characters until the final chapter, and I think that's a missed opportunity. Each chapter tells a chunk of story revolving around one character in one of the two cities, and the other character's side activities are closed off to you while this is going on. It'd be nice if you could space out the activities a bit more instead of being limited to doing what's available in whatever chapter you're in.

Some more quality-of-life features to help you get around would also be appreciated. There's a very basic fast travel system, but it requires going to one of the handful of taxi locations at the edge of the city map. It would have been nice to be able to quickly get back to the office or handle some of the business stuff from the menu instead of having to make the trek back every time. There's a lot of wandering around, which isn't a huge problem, because the cities are beautiful and full of nooks and crannies to explore and things to discover while wandering around. Having to constantly avoid fights made it a bit of a chore, which is a bummer, but it didn't sour me on the whole experience. Yakuza 0 is a flawed game with a lot of heart, and in spite of not really vibing with the primary game mechanic, it still managed to win me over.
Posted May 18. Last edited May 18.
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22 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
31.4 hrs on record
Wish I could recommend this one, since I really enjoyed most of my time with it, but unfortunately the difficulty ramps up about 2/3 into the game in a way that's making me give up on it. Until that point, I felt able to adapt to most of the new enemies and situations the game threw at me, and the exploration loop felt pretty good. I wanted to push myself as far as I could into the dungeons to unlock the next elevator before heading back to town, and the gradual difficulty creep with monsters provided a really good feeling of tension. The beginning of the game is super well balanced and pushing myself to explore despite the danger felt rewarding.

Then, at some point, you gain access to the "free warp spell", which while super convenient, totally destroyed any feeling of tension. You can essentially warp back to town, rest to get all your spells back, and then warp back to the exact spot you just were, elevators and shortcuts be damned. The game doesn't really give you a good reason not to constantly do this, so the feeling of risk/reward was gone.

To compensate, what the game does next is start to throw enemies that are just absurdly overpowered. Every encounter will feature enemies that always go first, have attacks that instantly kill one or more party members, inflict multiple status effects, drain multiple levels, drain your magic, and on the off-chance they just do a basic physical attack, will do at least 75% damage even to my strongest characters with equipment I've found that's far better than anything you can buy in the shop. The only way I can continue to make progress is through aggressive save scumming. I save after every battle and if the next encounter has more than a couple enemies in it, I hit alt-F4 and just load my save again.

The strategy at this point, I imagine, would be to re-class my characters into something that gains agility so you have a chance of buffing your party and debuffing the enemies before they can instakill everyone. I've done a little bit of re-classing, and the game really feels like it punishes you for experimenting. Changing a character's class drops them back to level 1, and although they keep their stats and spells, they take such a massive HP loss that they're guaranteed to die in 1 hit. You can convert gold into XP to get their levels back up, but because characters have a chance of *losing* stat points every time they level up, this feels like a crapshoot, too.

For example, I wanted to get my bishop's agility up so they have a chance of getting an action before the enemy. So I temporarily changed them into a thief. I got their levels back as high as I could with the gold I had on hand, which didn't bring them up to the level of the rest of my party, didn't give them enough agility to start going first, and also caused them to *lose* so much piety that I wasn't able to turn them back into a bishop. So I loaded my save, and realized I would just have to repeat the process and save scum until I got a more desirable outcome. And finally I realized that this is ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t and stopped playing.

So yeah. Can't see any way to proceed without hours of grinding or save scumming for better die rolls. Maybe I ♥♥♥♥ed up by not being diligent enough by re-classing my characters more frequently when the game was still "easy", but the game never stresses this as an important mechanic and by reducing your characters to level 1, massively disincentivizes you from doing so. That said, for 15 bucks I still got a lot of enjoyment out of it, and if you go into it knowing what to expect, it might be possible to have a party capable of dealing with the high-level threats, but unfortunately it's too late for me. Maybe I'll revisit the game in a couple years and start fresh, but for now, I can't recommend it after seeing the late-game balance changes.
Posted January 28. Last edited January 28.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
4.7 hrs on record (3.8 hrs at review time)
"The Beautiful Game". That's what they're gonna start calling this.

Sorry, soccer, you should've been more beautiful
Posted August 13, 2019.
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1 person found this review helpful
24.9 hrs on record
Incredible game, one of the best adventure platformers I've ever played. Stays true to the spirit of the Wonder / Monster series without feeling old-fashioned and frustrating like those games sometimes could. Impeccable PC port, worth the wait. 100%ed it in 25 hours so there's plenty to sink your teeth into. Looks phenomenal, excellent sound design, mostly decent music with one or two jams and one or two clunkers. Felt very good to play.

My only small criticism is with the UI design - radial menus were a bad choice for this game, because I'm constantly having to switch between the D-pad and the analog stick. It wouldn't be so bad, except that I frequently had difficulty shifting between forms with LT and RT, it would randomly stop responding to individual trigger presses and I had to hold both triggers to bring up the radial menu more often than I'd have liked. Made sections where you had to quickly shift from one form to another a little frustrating, but there were only a couple sections like that in the game and I never got stuck because of it. I haven't seen anyone else complain about this, so it might just be an issue with my controller.

I know the review looks negative when the "con" section is longer than the "pro" section, but I don't wanna give too much detail about the good stuff because you should discover it for yourself. Just take my word that the nitpicks are incredibly minor and this game was a joy from beginning to end.
Posted July 30, 2019. Last edited July 30, 2019.
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7 people found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Frame rate is locked to half of the monitor refresh rate, and game speed is tied to frame rate, which means at my monitor's native 144hz it runs at 72fps and is unplayably fast. When I drop the refresh rate to 60, it runs at 30fps and has terrible screen tearing because there' no v-sync option, and really no video options at all except for resolution. Incredibly disappointing.
Posted June 28, 2019.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
26.5 hrs on record (4.7 hrs at review time)
Best impulse purchase I've ever made on Steam. This is a simple but satisfying rhythm game with only two "notes" in the same vein as Taiko Drum Master. Good range of difficulties, even beginners should have fun unlocking all the songs and completing the challenges on easy. The base game comes with 46 tracks, and most of them are certified bangers. Maybe the best rhythm game soundtrack I've ever heard. Unbelievable value for 3 bucks.
Posted June 23, 2019.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
4 people found this review funny
0.3 hrs on record (0.1 hrs at review time)
Feels bad to play. There's a half second of lag between moving the stick and your character beginning to move. The camera can only move in 4 discrete directions and there are no camera sensitivity options. You can't use the D-pad in the menus, you have to use the stick. Also there's no way to disable the unbearable voiceovers.
Posted June 2, 2019.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
1.6 hrs on record (0.5 hrs at review time)
Less than 7 cents per game. A bargain at twice the price!
Posted April 5, 2019.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
0.0 hrs on record
Yep you should buy this one too
Posted February 28, 2019.
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Showing 1-10 of 38 entries