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Recent reviews by Estranged2

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Showing 1-10 of 32 entries
8 people found this review helpful
17.4 hrs on record
PROS

- The game's symbolism covers almost all of communism's stupidity and cruelty. Death slave labour camps that killed countless innocent people, dysfunctional ghetto cities, pointless industrialization that destroyed people's health and nature, mandatory communist rituals and propaganda - you have it all.

- Very strong ending section of the game, perfect emotional storytelling through gameplay, powerful atmosphere.

- DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE GAME. One of the few games that made me cry - in fact, the only game that made me cry like a child while still pressing keys on the controller. I don't want to get your expectations too high, though, so I'm marking this as a spoiler. But God, what a cathartic ending.

CONS

- Puzzles are very contrived. If you're used to playing adventure games, you'll figure them out, but you may need to sleep on it when you're stuck and try again the next day. Or at least walk away from the computer for a while.
What really bugs me though is that your little robot friend does things that are not physically convincing. He can jump 8 meters high in the air, but he's also very heavy, and he can also swim, and he's unbreakably tough, too. It's just not plausible which can make you frustrated when you solve a puzzle.

- The symbolism in the game is not clear enough - except for people who already know what communism really does. For everyone else, a lot of things will remain unclear. There are shops for "Milk" and shops for "Eggs" - these are written _backwards_ in Romanian (thanks, logic, thanks, google translate!) but even if you translate them correctly you won't figure out what these communist shops mean unless you've already had the "privilege" of using them yourself. It's the same with most other communist references.
It's just difficult to do this kind of silent symbolism properly. INSIDE does a much better symbollic storytelling depicting a dystopian, tyrannical society, and the best depiction of a Gulag is still done in Abe's Exoddus (even though Abe's Exoddus is supposed to be an anti-capitalist game).

BOTTOM LINE - I can recommend you Black The Fall if you're interested in the real aftermath of communism or in adventure games. If you are a modern gamer, looking for a perfectly polished experience, you'll probably be disappointed. For everyone else - go ahead, it's worth it.
Posted September 8. Last edited September 8.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
52.8 hrs on record
The TR series officially lost everything that made it special with this installment.

- We don't explore complex levels, instead we have watered down Metroidvania-like hubs and small "temples" with "puzzles" consisting of just one small contraption, comparable in sophistication to a level from "Cut The Rope" ("Cut The Rope" has more complex levels, though).
- Lara's traversal acrobatics and abilities are STILL less then they were in Tomb Raider Underworld!! Instead, the game degrades into a "cover based shooter" in order to get more sales and alienate its core audience. Lara turns into Rambo / Miss Uncharted.
- The story is bland and uninteresting, the characters are made out of cardboard. Rhiana Pratchett doesn't have any experience with real life like her father. The only thing she's experienced is LARP and it shows in her poor writing.
- The previous game (Tomb Raider Reboot) at least had some genuine drama and suffering built into the interactive cinematic sequences and that's why I loved it. This is still present here, really nice animations, showing Lara's struggle with the world. Unfortunately, the unconvincing story ruins all the effort put into Lara's convincing, dramatic actions and reactions.

CONCLUSION

If you've never played or enjoyed TR you're probably going to like the game. But if you're a true TR fan, ROTR has lost everything that makes TR unique. I abandoned it in the middle of the story and I'm not going back. I'm also not going to buy the next game. I can recommend you to buy and play 'Lara Croft GO' instead - wonderful design, very interactive, smart puzzles, and very close to the core of what makes TR tick.

Farewell, Tomb Raider. Enjoy your new audience. You'll probably follow the fate of Dead Space - a game that started as a horror exploration game and then, in order to get more sales, degraded itself and devolved into a linear shooter. Yes, this deal with the devil significantly increased sales, but also turned Dead Space into something forgettable and killed the franchise. The mass market players are not your friends, Tomb Raider. They'll use you to get their fix and then ditch you. Just saying.
Posted June 12. Last edited June 16.
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25 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
55.2 hrs on record
PROS

1) It's really a nice touch when the characters can't voice their thoughts because they don't have the inner strength to do so. "I'm too scared or ashamed to say or do that" -> this is really interesting design and worth exploring further.

2) There were some surprising and dramatic moments that, contrary to convention, made it seem that your characters are vulnerable and not invincible. Unfortunately, there are only two of those moments, and they are not enough to change the rest of the game.

3) Good facial animation, lyp sync, lighting, and wonderful art. (We don't count Garry Winnick's ♥♥♥♥♥♥ art that can't blend in with the good art made by the real artists). Anyway, if you see something badly drawn (inventory items, secondary characters, the world map) that has jarring colours, boring shapes, lack of volume and material definition, you know it's drawn by Winnick. Still, his stuff is under the sanitary minimum so the real art done by Mark Ferrarri and Octavi Navarro remains good overall.


CONS

1) None of the freedom, consequences and living NPCs that Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken had.

2) Bad writing that heavily relies on parody and "jokes" as an excuse for how weak the dialogue is. (Shows you how weak Ron Gilbert's writing and storytelling is by modern standards).

3) Mediocre, but difficult puzzles (in the second half of the game). Solving them doesn't feel satisfying (I'm saying this as someone who solved every single one fairly). They're just not interesting or meaningful even though they are better designed than the ones in Broken Age.

4) Nihilistic, disappointing, meaningless and shallow story. I've seen other stories deal with the same subject and they are much stronger both morally and philosophically. Here... it's cringeworthy.
Can be considered a spoiler, but you should better read it. All this work to make a gameworld and characters that inhabit it... and then tell the player - actually, this isn't real, this is just a videogame, it's all fake, you have wasted your time. You invested in this world emotionally, but it's all worthless.
Oh, and by the way, because these characters aren't as real as you, and because their existence is limited within the game constraints, it's better for all of them to just die and for their fake world to burn. This is how the murderer in the story also justifies his murders, but then this same nihilistic motivation is used by the main protagonist. And then you're told - oh, wait, even that's not possible, you can't really destroy the gameworld and that's sad. That's the level of philosophical and ethical maturity the author has. Disgusting.

Last, but not least, this is a total violation of the contract between player and creator. You trust that the creator won't suddenly say "Oh, I'm tired of all this, you know what, ♥♥♥♥ it" and throw his story in the trash. I can't understand what thought process made Gilbert and the others to believe even for a moment that such a choice is going to be okay.

It's as if someone draws a cartoonish, but well done version of Mona Lisa in front of you for weeks, and then at the end throws random paint on it, tears it in half and sets it on fire. Aaaah, it's actually post-modern art!
I would understand the idea of "nihilistic art" for the sake of nihilism itself (or art itself), deconstructing any meaning out of a story, but this is also something that gets sold, in a very, very American way. I paid three times Thimbleweed Park's regular price to support its development, falling for all of the marketing tactics, not knowing that I'm paying for a nihilistic self-serving anti-story.

Anyway. I'm finally done. I don't think I'll support another Ron Gilbert game ever again. I'd support something else by David Fox, though, but sadly, I don't think he'd make another "Zak McKracken" (that is, another living and breathing adventure that doesn't follow the bad convention established by Gilbert in Monkey Island - convention, followed by everyone else until the genre got completely stuck in the mud with the static, boring, unresponsive characters and unconvincing worlds that this type of design generated).

I will play some more modern and old adventure games though, to remove the bad taste.
Posted January 5. Last edited March 30.
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79 people found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
5.3 hrs on record
Maniac Mansion is unlike almost any other adventure game (except for Zak McKracken). The reason is that the NPCs in the game are alive. They have their own goals (get food, get mail, check out suspicious events), they can catch you, you can die or lose important items. Actions have real consequences, and there's even choice and different endings. The trailer above is very adequate and demonstrates some of that.

The reason this game is so alive is the scripter David Fox, the same designer who did Zak McKracken and was heavily involved in the recently released Thimbleweed Park. Even though he's not the official game designer, he's the one who loves to make NPCs have their own virtual theater with daily routines, reactions to your actions, etc.

This is also the first game that introduced mouse based interface and cut-scenes (in 1988). Sadly, the later games of Ron Gilbert and LucasFilm Games ended up being way more static, lifeless and fake, with NPCs that don't move, and player actions that never punish you, but at least kept the exploration and meaningful puzzles we can find here.

The modern port of Maniac Mansion is very good. It supports mouse, multiple saves, and different graphical versions of the game. Of course, it's the fan made ScummVM, but it's great nevertheless.
Posted December 19, 2017. Last edited December 19, 2017.
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7 people found this review helpful
76.2 hrs on record
90s ACTION-ADVENTURE

If you have played BioForge, Ecstatica, Alone In The Dark 1, or Little Big Adventure, you know what 90s action-adventure games feel like. This genre had extremely deep gameplay, combining everything you can put in an action or an adventure game - puzzles, scripted events, stealth, action, simulation, anything.

Unfortunately, it's also a very inaccessible genre, because it can express a lot with its gameplay, but also demands a lot from the player - attention, comprehension, tenacity. Coupled with cumbersome interface, these games fail. Just like Flashback / Fade To Black creator Paul Cuisset couldn't communicate with modern players with his rather creative game AMY (which sadly flopped and was universally hated), 2Dark also suffers from trying to do too much with its interface (managing inventory, aiming a gun, equipping items in your hands).

HITMAN

WIth that said, for me, 2dark is a wonderful experience. It's quite similar to Hitman in some levels - you have a social simulation that you have to disrupt, but your objective is not to kill someone, but instead, to save kidnapped children (some of which don't want to be saved, or are too uncontrollable - but it's not an annoying escort mission, don't worry).

AWESOME EXPERIENCE

2Dark is an amazing experience so far. It's very weird that I don't care about the bugs, or the abysmal English translation, or even about scoring points, or game mechanics. I'm completely immersed in the situation and the moral dilemmas it presents. It feels very real and reminds me why I started to like playing videogames in the first place.

Frederick Raynal also has the ability not just to convince you that a situation is real, but also to constantly surprise you. Every situation and location in the game is unique. Almost every character model is unique - everyone is a unique person. The variety of obstacles and the variety of ways in which you can handle them (you should really exercise your imagination about how you can distract the NPCs or create conflict among them) is just amazing.

DISCLAIMER

Of course, you won't enjoy this game if you don't have the same priorities as me. If having a fun, accessible experience is more important to you than seeing certain ideas and emotions simulated in a game, then you're not going to enjoy 2Dark at all. The game is demanding, it needs you to understand very well what you are doing and to invest time and effort.

It's also a very disturbing game that trespasses a cultural taboo (suffering and death of children).

Last, and a little unrelated, I recommend playing the game with a gamepad. Even though managing your inventory is way slower with a gamepad, the more natural movement of the character justifies this tradeoff.
Posted April 13, 2017. Last edited April 13, 2017.
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16 people found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
Local co-op doesn't save the data of the second player. OK then, I bought it for my wife as well, but system requirements are increased compared to the first game and it doesn't run on her laptop. Again, local co-op doesn't work properly. Would they pull that off on the PS4? I don't think so. Considering the greatest puzzles in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light were co-op only, this is a huge deal breaker. Also, the character's abilities are worse (in terms of puzzle & interactive potential) than the ones in the first game.

I feel terrible for giving a Lara Croft game a negative review, but they really treated their customers badly with this one. Sadly, it probably has nothing to do with the work of the game team and everything to do with politics and corporate mediocrity. With that said, I recommend that you play Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (the previous game before this one), and play it with a friend until the very end, it gets better and better.
Posted December 15, 2016. Last edited December 28, 2016.
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18 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
31.0 hrs on record
One of the best puzzle games I have ever played in my life. The puzzles are interactive, varied, elegant and interesting! Preparing traps for your enemies, monsters inadvertently helping you or foiling your plans, weird chain reactions...

There are also new levels that introduce totally new gameplay, never seen before in other versions of the game. I'd say the authors chose very interesting ideas to explore in the new level pack.

The overall style of the game demonstrates the beauty of minimalism, both in graphical aesthetics and in game design. And, sadly (or happily?), Lara Croft GO manages to be way more Tomb Raider in its core than the current "Miss Uncharted" main game. You will find a lot of genuine homage to the original Tomb Raider games anywhere you look, from the ambient sound to the main menu, but most importantly, the gameplay is pure gold.

NOTE: Gamepad recommended for best experience.
Posted December 5, 2016. Last edited January 4, 2017.
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14 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
120.8 hrs on record
This game is not for everyone. It is as close to the 90s Tomb Raider games as you're going to get. With some Metroidvania pollution, but still.

The game doesn't tell you what to do, how to optimize your controls, what is the meaning of the stuff that you see. Explore the interrelated, interconnected space. Think. Think some more. Celebrate every room you get access to. Get stuck. Figure it out or abandon the game like the millions of mediocre people whose mediocrity has led games to race to the bottom - trying to appease and cater to the lowest common denominator.

Last, but not least - boobs and booty. Being so gratuitous in the current media and political climate is actually a very bold move.
Posted October 28, 2016. Last edited November 26, 2017.
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4 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.9 hrs on record
I got stuck. I almost made a refund because of the incorrect claims in the negative reviews. Then I started quickly solving the puzzles that seemed "impossible"... and it turned out they are very easy once you understand what you're actually doing.
So I decided to help anyone who's on the fence and has read the negative reviews.

- It's not true that the game doesn't slowly introduce you to the basics
- It's not true that the game doesn't have different locations with different gameplay themes

- IT IS true, that the game gets difficult very, very quick
- IT IS true, that if you believe that you are smart, and in reality you're not, the game will crush you without mercy

- It is not true that the puzzles are complex, but random. No, they are very meaningful, but if you're not smart enough, you won't be able to understand the meaningful pattern behind the solution, even if someone shows it to you. Just like any other difficult logic game, you have to visualize what you want, your final goal, and what prevents you from getting there, but here you also have to rely on your spacial reasoning and that's differently developed in different people.

There's a risk that the game may not be for you. Have you finished "English Country Tune" or "Stephen's Sausage Roll"? What about the hardest secret levels in "Sokobond"? Was the last level of "Open Doors 2" relatively easy for you? What about any Alan Hazelden game, like "Boxes love boxing gloves"? You didn't need a walkthrough to get through "The Witness", did you? If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", than go ahead. If not, try the demo. (There is a demo, even if it's not on Steam). And don't give up immediately. Give it time. Good luck.
Posted August 10, 2016. Last edited August 10, 2016.
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20 people found this review helpful
29.4 hrs on record
You are a small, vulnerable child in a dystopian society. You are a fugitive. You must die. You will be killed without mercy even though you're just a kid. Or, you'll experience something far worse than death.
Your crime - you're not a puppet. You can try to pretend that you're a puppet, but it won't help you in the long run. They are coming for you.

Arnt Jensen's INSIDE is an experience, very similar to Eric Chahi's Another World. Loneliness, fear, cruel and sad death. Noone speaks, the world is mysterious, you can build theories in your mind about the society and nature that you see until the next scene shocks you, disproves you and turns everything upside down.

The character animation is the best one ever made. It combines complex simulation with attention to detail, so the boy can react to any object in the dynamic environment in real time. Unfortunately, most people will be too blind to appreciate this unparalleled artistic and technical achievement.

The interactivity, the story, the world, the drama, the horror, the emotional experience, the deeply psychological gameplay are far superior to the ones, found in Playdead's previous game, LIMBO. The game is relatively short, but it's also a unique, once in a lifetime experience; games with similar quality are released once in a decade. INSIDE can change the way you think about games, or it can remind you why you started to like games in the first place.

Given its uniqueness and outstanding quality, INSIDE is worth twice its full price. What I mean is that even if you buy it at full price, you're actually getting a very good deal.

______________
P.S.
I see nothing confusing about the ending, and even nothing tragic about it. Emotionally, it's very similar to the way ICO ends, and (to some extent) to the way Another World ends. Philosophically, it's closer to themes found in the Penumbra and SOMA series, which makes me wonder whether nordic devs have a soft spot for these themes, just like they have a soft spot for horror.
Posted July 14, 2016. Last edited November 23, 2016.
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Showing 1-10 of 32 entries