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Recent reviews by WHAM

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Showing 1-10 of 119 entries
28 people found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
4.9 hrs on record
"H.R. Giger would like his penis statues back."

I've been noticing a trend in videogame storytelling in the past few years: games want to really go hard for that whole 'show, don't tell' style of storytelling. Most attempts fall flat because what they show is so vague and open to interpretation that there might as well not be a story.

This is especially relevant in case when it comes to Scorn.

Scorn is really a game about only one things: visually realizing an artists uncomfortable vision of a flesh-mechanical civilization, where every button, switch and lever is a squishy horror and entire buildings are constructed seemingly only for the purpose of inflicting torment and suffering. If a story exists in this game, it is left so vague and so unclear as to not exist at all. Why places exist, why we move through them, why we interact with them, why we fight against fleshy blobmonsters or why the game ends with such an underwhelming whimper of the developer displaying their deep discomfort with sexuality, we will never know.

Scorn is very, very pretty, though. The only reason it ever got off the ground and got attention is its visual and technical production. Borrowing from a few disturbing art sources for inspiration, it creates a truly impressive visual parade of horrors. Machines, rooms, passages, long-dead creatures, even the very weapons the player carries are all designed and realized with such meticulous detail it's a wonder the developer ever completed their project.

Sadly, I fear it is that attention to visual detail and rich animation of gore and flesh that left the rest of the game so utterly failing to be playable. Scorn has perhaps four or five simple puzzles, and each of those are repeated a standard set of three times to pad out the game. It has maybe four or five enemy types, which are repeated ad nauseam. It gives you four weapons, very limited ammo and a combat system that is frustratingly slow, clunky and unfun to play with. Its very visual style fight against any attempt to create a game in this setting, as the rooms and tunnels begin to melt together in the player's mind for looking too similar, as navigation becomes a chore and as the prolonged animations drag on to turn even the most simple actions, such as moving an elevator, into sheer suffering to wait through.

Scorn, then, is a game that manages to intrigue for its first half hour, and for about another fifteen minutes towards the very end. Between those times there are a few hours of horribly underdeveloped gameplay, wasted time and repetition that leaves me wholly unable to recommend this game. If you want to get all the best parts of Scorn without having to suffer through its content, you can just watch someone else do a longplay of it on Youtube. You'll see all the pretty and strange and disturbing things without having to waste your own time or money.

Playtime: 4 hours (A single playthrough)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 9
Audio: 5
Story: 1
Gameplay: 2
Overall: 3
Posted April 8. Last edited April 12.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
13.0 hrs on record
"Awaken, dreamer!"

I had little idea of what I was getting into when I began to play Lunacid. I knew the game had "some weird mechanics", but I had no real idea. Then I read the in-game manual and I began to see just what kind of madness the devs had plunged me into, and I loved it!

The game tracks the current real-world phase of the moon and that has an impact on how magic works in the game.

If you're like me, you know from that little tidbit alone that we're in for a good time!

Lunacid casts you down into a well, where all the dead, corrupt and criminals belong, as punishment for whatever crime you may or may not have committed. Once down there, you begin your exploration with the goals of survival and finding a way out of the well. This journey will go through forgotten temples, ancient catacombs, underground forests and far more, with each area packed with detail, varied enemies and so very many secrets it's near impossible to find all of them on a first playthrough. I surely didn't!

The game is rendered in a faux PlayStation 1 era graphical style, with chunky character models and limited special effects and lighting, while making the most of these limitations to invoke atmosphere and mystery all around. The soundscape offers both basic sound effects for common interactions and attacks, as well as more unusual noises to provide unsettling atmosphere and the occasional scare. The soundtracks is the most mixed part of the game. The game clearly states who created each track in the list as it begins to play, revealing that a host of composers worked on music for the game, which leads to a somewhat confused list as the style and theme can vary quite wildly from one area to the next. None of the music I'd call bad, just a little odd at times.

While there is no doubt that I'm recommending this game, I do wish to voice a minor gripe with it. I happened to begin playing near christmas time, and the game seems to have some seasonal content. The safe area was adorned with festive decorations and I discovered a Chistmas -themed spell early on, which felt odd and a little immersion breaking. Some of the NPC interactions were also a little odd and gave the game a more humorous tone than might have felt appropriate at times. Expect quirkiness.

But most of all: expect a fun exploration with plenty to offer!

Playtime: 13+ hours (Single playthrough)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 8
Audio: 8
Story: 7
Gameplay: 10
Overall: 9
Posted January 14.
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4 people found this review helpful
20.7 hrs on record
"Unspeakable, unnameable, uncomfortable. University!"

Dreams in the Witch house is, for all intents and purposes, a faithful retelling of the H.P. Lovecraft book by the same name, with some added bells, whistles and mechanics to turn it into a proper game. It is also, by far, the best H.P. Lovecraft inspired videogame I am currently aware of, and easily earns its recommendation.

In the game you take on the role of Walter Gilman, a young man recently moved from the town of Haverhill to the city of Arkham to study at the local university. Your aunt has graciously paid for your lodging for the next couple months, but most unfortunately the house and room you come to inhabit are quite definitely cursed.

Dark dreams and visions, recurring rodent infestations and mundane threats like criminals on the street all conspire to make the simple act of studing for exams a challenge for Walter, making each new day both an oppotunity and a challenge. Should we focus on studying at home with the earplugs on? Head to the university to enjoy the warm fireplace of the library reading hall? Eat an expensive dinner to feel better after that recurring nightmare about cosmic mathematical music? See a movie while hoping not to encounter that creepy old woman that keeps staring and grinning in a deeply unsetting way?

There is so much on offer here, so much inspiration and inventiveness in how all aspects of the story, characters and game work together to build up a survival challenge for the player to overcome.

When it comes to the audiovisual aspects, the game both shines and stumbles a little. The soundscape with its jolly daytime music, brooding nighttime ambience and the my-heart-skipped-several-beats sound of a shattering lightbulb are absolutely perfect, and while initially not having any voice acting felt cheap, it makes a lot of sense considering the number of times an average player is likely to replay parts of the game. As for the graphics, the game does a terrific job in depicting its settings, but this is also where I feel it suffers its greatest issues. While the characters are drawn in a crisp pixel art style with flat shading and distinct eyes, the backgrounds and objects around them are drawn in a more blurred style that allows for better shading and detail, but also has the characters looking quite out of place against some backdrops. Over time my eyes adjusted to this, but especially early on I felt this was quite distracting and I wished the game had chosen one style or the other for all of its visuals.

As a final note, while I will happily score the gameplay elements of Dreams in the Witch House a full ten, it has to be pointed out that some conditions for triggering gameplay elements can be a little frustrating at times. As much of the game is randomized between runs, triggering certain events can take far longer than one might wish for, delaying or blocking the player's progress. Don't expect to discover everything, at least not without a guide.

But don't fret even if you don't discover quite everything, either. That discovery, experimentation and challenge is precisely what makes this game so good, so fresh and so easy to recommend!

Playtime: 20+ hours (Several playthroughs)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 7
Audio: 9
Story: 9
Gameplay: 10
Overall: 9
Posted December 24, 2023.
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5 people found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
In under an hour of gameplay I encountered several immersion and game breaking bugs and issues. To top that off it seems the developers have turned to AI generated content rather than human generated content. As such I can only recommend people avoid this product. Had I known, I wouldn't have purchased the game to begin with.
Posted September 26, 2023.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
6.0 hrs on record
"Many barrels! Many new friends!"

I guess I'm not the only person who thought Blood was a pretty neat old-timey shooter. Cultic takes a ton of cues from the Build engine classic, thought we have to make do without cheesy one liners this time around, as our protagonist is quite silent.

While I'll obviously recommend Cultic, since I quite enjoyed my time with it, I'll have to provide a warning to start off: at the time of writing the game isn't quite completed. Cultic appears to be the first episode, with at least one more coming later down the line, paid for separately. In the time of Early Access games this can feel a bit shady, but for this project I felt the risk worth taking and the price worth paying, even if I can't know what the 'full' game will be like.

Oh, and it's a solo developer project, which will always earn an extra point from me!

The game takes place in a remote community haunted by missing persons cases. A shady cult has taken root and it is up to you to go in and figure things out. The start of your journey might be rough, but rising from a cold grave is par for the course in these games!

The first things to catch the eye in Cultic is the visual style. The game merges old with new, using limited colour palettes and chunky 3D assets together with voxels and 2D sprites to create a look that's just modern enough to function on a technical and gameplay level while retaining the charm of retro games. Cultists, zombies, skeletons and even a damn tank will try to prevent your progress, but copious use of explosives, molotov cocktails and a nice little assortment of classic video game firearms should see you through.

The game doesn't do anything groundbreaking with its design, though. Puzzles are simple affairs, exploration and navigation are straightforward enough to ensure you're not getting stuck and enemy encounters come at a steady pace, keeping the player on their toes and providing ample opportunity for blood, gore and guts to spill.

All the while the game serves up a buffet of meaty weapon and impact sounds and a nice soundtrack to boot, building tension and promoting the sense of action as appropriate. I do have to point out, though, that Blood cultists had a much better scream when lit on fire, so I'm ducking a point out of the audio score for that.

All in all, Cultic is a solid six-hour romp of nostalgia, violence, horror and gore. If you enjoyed Blood back in its day or just want something that looks retro but playes really well, Cultic is a fine purchase to make!

Playtime: 6+ hours (Full playthrough)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 9
Audio: 7
Story: 5
Gameplay: 8
Overall: 8
Posted 28 July.
Posted September 18, 2023.
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1 person found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
"This might be the first time a game made me actually FEEL seasick..."

I kept an eye on Barotrauma for a couple reasons. For one it was a Finnish game, which earns bonus points from me, but it was also a game about submarines, underwater perils and management of a ship, all of which sound GREAT to me!

But, as you might have noticed, the review I'm giving out with less than an hour spent playing the game is a negative one, and there are a few good reasons for that.

First and foremost: this is not really a game suited for single player. It is designed around the learning and mastery of complex systems and communicating with your crewmates on how to manage all of that together. Since one of the key systems to master is the physics-based movement of your character, efficient movement and communication feel key to success. However, the AI crewmates are immensely efficient and quick to act, making the players actions and input feel almost pointless, at least early on.

That movement, along with the camera motion accompanying it, is why I gave up rather quickly. Movement and animation are based on physics, which is a neat idea and might allow for complex, unexpected interactions. All it did for me was send my character bumping into doors, ragdolling inside hatches I accidentally closed on myself and just generally acting sluggish and unresponsive. Add to this the fact that the camera lurches around quickly to track mouse movements and I found the game gave me a headache after just 15 minutes of play, unless I sat still and stared at the captain's screen, which wasn't much fun alone.

I feel Barotrauma borrows a lot of its ideas from Space Station 13, a complex game of varying roles for players to learn and adopt. But unlike SS13, Barotrauma cannot hide its complexities behind simplified visuals and instead tries to show and simulate a bit too much, easily overwhelming new players. It's quite telling that one of the first things the game offers you is a link to a wiki. A sign that the game simply lacks the tools with which to teach you all the mechanics you'll need to understand to play.

It's also a sign for me to move on.

I'd love to see more of the world on offer, to experience more adventures, but as a solo player there really isn't much here. With a group of friends and a lot of time, you might find this game worth your time, though.

Playtime: 1+ hour (Not much at all)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 7
Audio: 7
Story: 3
Gameplay: 4
Overall: 3
Posted July 28, 2023.
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4 people found this review helpful
19.1 hrs on record (9.3 hrs at review time)
With less than 10 hours played I feel like I've already seen all there is to see. The missions repeat themselves, spawning the same roster of enemies with the same seemingly broken spawn points placing newly appeared enemies regularly within a meter or two of a player. Cosmetics are overtly expensive, pointless and extremely limited in what is available. One helmet with a bunch of different textures over it is a very limited selection. As for progression: number go up. That's it. You can get a weapon with a bigger number, and then you can select a mission with a bigger number, and because both numbers go up it plays the same way as before, just with bigger numbers now. Vast majority of players also do not communicate. No voice, no text, just running at the enemy with the mindless purpose of reaching the next bigger number.

I hoped Darktide would stand on its own, be different from Vermintide in tone and gameplay, but in the end it's only different in theme. And while that theme makes for a small handful of very impressive looking levels, that's all there is: a small handful of levels to the point where the random mission selector regularly picks the same mission and map three times in a row.

If you are looking for a gunplay focused 4 player co-op: Left4Dead 2 is far more polished, has far more variety and a far better flow to its missions and gameplay.

If you are looking for vermintide: just play Vermintide.
Posted June 11, 2023.
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3 people found this review helpful
41.3 hrs on record
Grindy, annoying, over-monetized. Playing this for more than a few hours was a mistake.
Posted May 11, 2023.
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4 people found this review helpful
19.4 hrs on record
"Ratbag's Comedy Club - Now Hiring!"

Carrying on from the fairly interesting Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War is much the same, but more. It's more nonsense, more weird fanservice, more clunkiness and more time wasted.

After nearly 20 hours I gave up, feeling it unlikely I'd ever bother to actually finish the game, and so: here's why.

You may have heard of a little book (or a series of movies) called The Lord of the Rings, which revolves around the One Ring of Power. This game steps up to craft the Second Ring of Power, which turns into the pivotal object around which the game revolves. It allows our undead protagonist, Talion, and his ghostly elf-friend Celebrimbor to forge hordes of unreliable orcs into an army to fight for control of Mordor itself.

There in lies the most interesting quirk of the game: encountering, studying, fighting, subjugating and commanding various orc characters with different traits. You essentially become an orc collector, which is a fine idea! Though the game quickly over-uses this fine idea, turning a fun concept into a slow, grindy and repetitive affair that reduces the orcs to short-lived collectables. Originally the game was released with an invasive onlinse store, which likely explains the above issue well: the game was designed to waste time and frustrate the player to coax them into purchasing ways to make the game more fun. Still, the underlying idea is kind of fun!

However, the game is badly let down in almost every other area, from general gameplay to story to even the basic cast of characters. While Talion is a fairly average protagonist, though the game does little to establish his character and leaves it up to the player to play the first game before this one, the other characters feel thing, one-dimensional and dull. Celebrimbor is an annyoing elf-ghost who does nothing but whine and berate. The giant spider Shelob turns into a milf Frodo and Sam would definitely have spent more time with had she appeared to them as she does to Talion. Ratbag the orc returns from the first game to provide some fairly inappropriate comedic relief. None of the characters really click, though, nor provide more than a reason to awkwardly smile sometimes.

Otherwise the gameplay takes most of its cues from the Assassin's Creed series, along with the Batman Arkham games. Stealth exists, but is almost entirely optional as there is no punishment for not using it. Combat against a single opponent feels dull and repetitive, and so the game opts to throw in dozens of enemies at a time to add challenge and spectacle. This idea works in theory, but the game's mechanics and controls fall apart here. You may have your opponent one swing away from death, but the automatic lock-on mechanic might decide you want to target an entirely different enemy in the next county over, and so the attack button sends Talion leaping off into the distance. Climbing and parkour movement also suffer of similar issues where the player simply lacks control over their movements and can end up leaping off in unpredictable ways, or just simply stuck for extended periods of time as Talion refuses to let go of a ledge. I died a few times when trying to evade an enemy by leaping off a rooftop as Talion would step up to the edge, but instead of jumping off she would roll against an invisible barrier while not moving away from the enemy, leading to endless frustration.

On a technical level the game may have been passable back when it came out, but it hasn't aged all that well. Many visuals were lackluster back in the day, seemingly not having evolved at all from the first game, and now, years later, the game comes off as downright ugly from time to time. Music feel forgettable, while trying to invoke some of the Lord of the Rings movie soudntrack sensations, but it's use is misguided (I hated the comedy music that plays out whenever Ratbag shows up) and it usually ends up drowned out by all the shouting going on.

With broken mechanics, frustrating grinding, endless repetition and a story premise best left to some third-rate Tolkien fanboy's fanfic collection, Shadow of War is impossible to recommend.

Playtime: 19+ hours (Partial playthrough)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 7
Audio: 7
Story: 4
Gameplay: 5
Overall: 5
Posted March 26, 2023.
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4 people found this review helpful
7.9 hrs on record
"Needs more Polish"

Cyberpunk horror from Poland? That's not a combination you see every day!

Having finished the game now, though, that might be for the better. The Observer puts you in the boots of a mind-jacking future police in 2083 Poland, a country ravaged by cyber-plague, crime and megacorporations controlling all aspects of life. Standard cyberpunk affair, then, and the protagonists ability to invade minds to aid his investigations gives a lot of potential for interesting narratives, horror and visuals.

The game does make the most of its engine and art style, catering plenty of imaginative visuals both in the real world and the various minds you explore. Flashing lights, holograms, glitches and more are everpresent, often to the point of overwhelming and inducing headache in the player. The world-building and art style both strive for excess, which can be hard to process.

In the realm of audio the game doesn't fare nearly as well as in the visuals. Most of the voice acting is delivered in a laboured and stiff manner with many of the voice actors seemingly unconnected, unaware of how their counterparts delivered their parts. There are also several child characters who's voices are delivered so clearly by adults that it just starts to feel weird with how many child voices the game decides to have. As seems to be customary with Polish games the protagonist is also written as a deeply unpleasant person for the most part, with a personality swinging to and fro, often taking time to engage people in conversations just to annoy and anger them for no gain or reason.

When it comes to the meat and bones of The Observer, the game itself, there isn't much to see. The vast majority of playtime for me was spent walking around, looking at things and exhausting pointless dialogue trees with characters I could not even see. The rest of the game consists of entering codes to open doors, scanning things for bits of information (looking at them, but while pressing a button), plugging cables into sockets and reading. Puzzle solving is relegated to a tiny sliver of game-play barely even worth mentioning. The game implies there are further mechanics available, such as a drug the protagonist must collect and use to stay sane and grounded in reality, but based on experimentation with this mechanic it doesn't actually seem to exist beyond a few visual quirks and a really annoying message the game blares at you if you fail to take your medicine in time.

Lastly there is the horror. This is a horror game, right? Sort of? Well, at least according to Steam, but I didn't experience much horror here. For the most part The Observer just likes to play loud noises at you and flash jumpscare visuals in your face over and over again. Sudden changes in the environment, bright lights, sudden darkness, at least three occasions where a pidgeon flies into your face... it's all the cheapest scares you could put in your game that, for me at least, didn't do much. The only moment I felt something was truly horrifying and scary in the game came in just minutes before the end of the game, and the experience was swiftly nullified by the flat, ambiguous ending the game dropped on me.

Beyond the main story the game offers an array of side quests, though with these I feel I must warn any potential player. The side quests all seem to end without any impact on anything. In fact I feel like none of the side stories actually resolved in any way, rather ending with the protagonist deeming they had seen all they neede to see, shrugging and walking away. Case closed.

Playtime: 7+ hours (A single playthrough)

Ratings (1-10)
Visual: 8
Audio: 7
Story: 3
Gameplay: 3
Overall: 4
Posted March 12, 2023.
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Showing 1-10 of 119 entries