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34.3 hrs em registo
This is a visual novel that has somewhat flown under the radar in most circles. It is an all-ages novel and it tries to be an epic-fantasy type of novel lasting in excess of 30 hours.

The premise is that all worlds, including all parallel universe type worlds have faced a mass-extinction event. At the same time, a ‘divine calamity’ occurs, flooding hell and closing the gates of heaven. As such, most demons and angels have been expelled into the dying worlds, with no way of returning home. Furthermore, this closure of heaven and hell also works on souls; so, if a demon or angel dies, instead of being resurrected in their respective ‘home’ of heaven or hell, they now die permanently.

Such a frightening concept causes angels and demons to unite to work together in trying to solve the reason why God has all of a sudden abandoned all three realms. Humans of course, play a part, for it they who must make a pilgrimage across the levels of Purgatory (now re-christened Tokyo Babel) to reach the gates of heaven and… well, hopefully find answers.
Trouble is, all who have set out thus far, don’t get very far. Most succumb to madness, ergo becoming enemies of the last city in Tokyo Babel called, Pandora.

The story follows a superhuman Tendou Sestuna, who is sponsored by a Demoness Lilith, the angel Raziel and another human Sorami, as the four attempt their own pilgrimage across Tokyo Babel. There are three core storylines, each following Sestuna’s relationships with the trio of ladies, there’s a recommended order to play through in order to understand things clearly (angel – human – demon) and thus this novel necessitates a walkthrough unfortunately.

I found this novel to be a frustrating experience because it tries too hard to be too many things at once. For example: It tries to be four different genres at once. It attempts to be a serious horror, super-heroic fantasy, romance and comedy all at once. It is very difficult for games and novels to blend two genres, never mind four at the same time.

As such, there can be serious mood whiplash, you set out to fight a powerful foe, only to do a short comedic detour to a strip club so the ladies can have a laugh at your expense by dressing up for you. It’s part unnecessary fan-service, and partly poorly thought out story planning.

The comedy parts are indeed funny though, don’t get me wrong, even the fanservice parts can be hilarious, but once they’re over it switches to a grim post-apocalypse sermon on religious, the reason for living and beings that can flay your mind and flesh within an instant. It is a severe mis-match of moods, and this continues because for some inexplicable reason each unique route has the protagonist building a romantic relationship with each of the girls, which could quite frankly be eliminated from the story completely, because all it serves to do is to continue to detract from the seriousness of heaven, hell and the world going whoops in a handbasket.

Indeed, the horror introduction (which you can read via a trial version on Mangagamer I believe) is pretty much the highlight of the game. It fails to reach those heights for the rest of the 29 hours and multiple stories that it tells.

Additionally, whilst the translation is good, it is at the same time somewhat ‘off’. It is difficult to put my finger on what exactly is the issue, but it feels like it needs to go through another edit. There are sometimes throw-away lines that don’t match up with the mood, or the previous dialogue, or completely unnecessary lines that just make you go ‘what?’ For example; A girl smelling like cotton candy, and that line pops up after a very serious discussion, it was completely out of left-field, it doesn’t ‘belong’ there.

Saying all that, the art is very good – though I often wanted more and I wanted more 18+ gruesome scenes to be seeing. Remember: This is a world where demons and angels can succumb to madness, so seeing their handiwork when it came to torturing sane people was actually quite nice (in a bizarre way), but the game has to remember it is rated for all-ages (officially it is 15+), so it tones things down massively. If this had gone full adult-only (or 18+) I genuinely think the artists would have had complete freedom to hammer home the visual aspects of the horror elements of the story and it would have been all the better for it.

Why tell me there's a field of blood with humans and angels impaled on stakes if all you're going to show is a bloody cotton field? Why say the skies are grey and then show... a blue sky? It's inconsistencies like this that let the whole experience down.

Did I enjoy Tokyo Babel? I suppose so, in a way, though it became more and more of a slog as it went along. Even though choices were sparse and the story tries too hard to be ‘epic’ that it drags on too much, I genuinely did find the ideas presented in the novel to be interesting. It just needed to nail down what genre it wanted to embrace and it needed to not cater to being All-Ages and I think it would have gone from beyond ‘decent’ to something in the realms of exceptional.

As it is, it is far too flawed for me to rate objectively any higher than a 6/10 and even so I can only give a 5 purely for serious visual novel fans. For anyone else, it’s a 4 for the muddled execution.
Publicado a 17 de Março. Última alteração: 17 de Março.
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24.0 hrs em registo
Ah, Alien. Most video games for Alien go the Aliens (second movie) route, with the Marines vs Aliens in a straight up shooter. Isolation goes for the vibe of the first movie by having you be mostly unarmed in an area with an alien. You do eventually get weapons, like a pistol, but rather smartly they’ve made it so that it does absolutely jack all to the killing machine. If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it, just be careful since it’s a 70’s movie and has plenty of flashing and strobe lights.

I’ll preface this though by declaring, I’m quite a wimp with horror games. I didn’t play on the recommended hard difficulty, I downshifted it, sorry! That said, even on the easier difficulties, I was in a constant state of fear and terror. Sneaking about, being careful, trying to avoid environmental hazards and more importantly, trying not to make noise. It is downright horrifying when you get caught from behind – the alien can be sneaky when he wants to be…

The Alien seems tethered to you, in that it follows and patrols around you. That’s a double-edged sword, in that you’re never really free of its threat, but at the same time, neither are other threats free of the alien. Those other threats are other humans, because getting along with each other is hard work apparently. And also, androids – a series staple.

The game keeps the tension levels high by showing you the aftermath of the alien’s rampage, toying with you as you hide by having it sweep the room you’re in and so on. It’s excellent as an Alien game, excellent as a homage to the movie as well. The aesthetic is fantastic and very true to the movies.

The plot stars Amanda Ripley, that’s the daughter of the movie’s Ellen Ripley. She’s an engineer in her own right, and is on the hunt for clues about her mother’s whereabouts. She gets brought along by one of the company men who happens to know her, on a little trip to Sevastopol station, where a flight recorder for the Nostromo has been salvaged. The mission is simple, fly over, dock, pick up the flight recorder and investigate, job done.

Except, it isn’t as a certain little stowaway just happens to be running riot on the station. The initial missions are a barrage of stealth sections and just trying to survive. It isn’t until quite a bit of the way through that you start getting some answers as to how the alien exists and how it comes to be on the station. As a stealth-horror game it works well, but also suffers the same issues that stealth-horror game tends to have, which is a repetitive gameplay loop of hiding and avoiding the threat with inevitable reloads when it just doesn’t work. In fact, this can be a frustrating endeavour in two particular missions – the finale and about mid-way through, where the alien steps up his hunt for you to eleven and just won’t leave you alone. This was on the easier difficulties, so goodness knows how sticky he is on hard.

Fortunately, Alien is not a slow game, if anything it encourages you to move about with a purpose, it feels like you get more mileage from the game if you’re constantly on the move as opposed to if you hunker down – something that will inevitably get you killed.

The random factor also spices things up, in one particular section I had to get beyond three humans, one was on the lookout and two were doing repairs. The route out was agonisingly close to the humans, so you had to time it to get beyond the lookout.
It took me three tries to succeed. On the first, I ducked out too early, they spotted me and fired at me and our friendly alien came by to wipe everyone out. The second time, I bypassed them but our friendly killing machine ate them for dinner. I got too cocky and went for the objective and got eaten once we finished a repair animation… Fun. Third time round, I sneaked beyond the guys with ease and the alien didn’t make an appearance. What interests me in particular, is that various other forums and walkthroughs that talk about this encounter have had the alien turn up earlier and wipe them out before you even get to this stage, thus negating the need to stealth past them. This random factor adds variety to the process and keeps you alert and on your toes. It also means, you could brute-force your way through if you’re not imaginative enough to try different tricks – and there are many.

You get tools to use, EMP stuff to take out androids, noisemakers to attract the alien to do your killing for you etc. But there are also rewire points that allow you to tamper with the running of the station; so, you can disrupt environmental controls to make the area full of steam and smoke, making it harder to be spotted, or you can disable alarm systems, or alternatively start an alarm or speaker system to attract or bait the alien or other enemies. It’s all rather neatly thought out.

Having said that; one negative:

The story is thin at parts. You can suss out what happened to the station residents via collecting diaries and records or logs. But the storyline does suffer somewhat in that you never really have an ally to accompany you for most of the game. It’s a lonely experience, an isolation almost. If you meet someone, you know they’ll die within a few minutes anyway. The game could have benefited from a chance to have a ‘human’ moment, instead it forfeits it by allowing the alien to take centre-stage – not necessarily a bad thing, but there could have been more emotional impact to people you know dying if you had the chance to get to know them a bit better.

However, although I hate the genre and although the negative aspects were disappointing, I didn’t find Alien: Isolation too much of an exercise in frustration at all. I found it to be an enjoyable experience, insomuch as you can enjoy being scared witless! Therefore, I recommend this game for all gamers, but especially the original movie fans.
Publicado a 14 de Outubro de 2018.
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5.8 hrs em registo
Atmospherically fantastic. Stasis is an atmospheric, point and click, horror/thriller game. There's a very Alien (first movie) vibe from it initially, and there's multiple plots going on at once as you investigate the space ship that you happen to wake up on.

I recommend it, however... While the game has a very strong start and middle, it falters somewhat towards the end. There's a fantastic 'oh my god, the villain crosses the line' moment, that everyone should see, but there's not enough of a payoff with all the plotpoints and narratives. That's just one of those things that can happen I think. Part of the reason for this is that the horror vibe slowly fades away, and the characters we interact with become too one-dimensional and predictable in their end-game efforts.

Still, this was a worthwhile and enjoyable game for me, enough so that I went on to get CAYNE - which takes place in the same universe and is out for free. The stories are completely separate, so if you're unsure if you'd like the gameplay or the horror elements, you can always try out CAYNE first. Though my personal recommendation is that STASIS is superior to CAYNE overall.

I recommend it as a good horror point and click game; 7/10 overall, but certainly worth playing for the uniqueness that it provides.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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9.2 hrs em registo
A visual novel, investigation game, shares some minor similarities with say, the Ace Attorney games. This is marketed as a young-adult novel, and I can understand why. The story centres around a man seeking his pen pal from his High School days. He comes across the old set of letters he got from his pen pal 15 years ago, and the final one declared that she had killed someone. So, he sets off on an impulsive quest to investigate and find her.

The first eight chapters of the story involve investigating her former classmates, seven in all, who all clam up and refuse to speak about her. Depending on your replies to the letters when reminiscing about them, chapter 9 and 10 are unique, and set you down one route of a possible five endings. Three of which are locked until you finish the game once.

Of the five endings, three are bad ends – one is fantastic, going into Japanese folklore horror vibes, the second centres around mythical folklore but verges into mental health issues, and the third involved a Government plot, which is outlandish but reasonably well crafted.

The two good endings, are well written and worth experiencing. Without giving too much away, I hope that the titles of the bad endings demonstrate just how varied the endings can be. Indeed, I think it is a credit to the writers that each of the 5 endings do make sense, with characters being ambiguous enough to swap roles where needed, yet well defined enough to still stand out as individuals.

A criticism? You can skip the first 8 chapters when replaying, as there’s not enough changes happening there to be worthwhile of a genuine replay. And, the true end could have stood entirely on its own. In fact, I don’t think you need to even know any of the other endings to enjoy the ‘true’ ending properly, so I’m not convinced it was a good idea to lock this ending down. And because the first 8 chapters are essentially the same, it can detract from the experience going through it again. Everyone will just skip them or fast forward through it, which cuts out from the experience somewhat as well. Still, it is a good read, and an interesting concept!

7/10 for me.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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7.2 hrs em registo
A visual novel with some interesting art design choices. Leviathan promises an intriguing world, in fact, it is unique, and I think it is worth checking out for the world building alone. Having said that, Leviathan suffers from some issues; Firstly, as an episodic game the decisions you make in earlier episodes don’t seem to be respected in the later episodes. Secondly, it is clear the game had development issues – I had to check the forums to confirm it, but it is apparent.

The initial episode sets up the game well, the second and third go from strength to strength. Indeed, the story is captivating and interesting. However, episode 4 and 5 fall very flat. The finale, is rushed and concludes nearly none of the important or interesting plot points. I saw a forum post from a developer saying that this was intentional because the game is part of a series. That excuse doesn’t wash, because Leviathan’s own ending doesn’t even conclude any of the self-containing plot points. Indeed, there are a lot of plot points that arise early on that are ignored or abandoned. This is a horrific shame, because Leviathan had great potential, which was resoundingly wasted. I hear there is a sequel in development, and that again, they are in development hell. As such, I would say to stay away from this and all works linked to it. Sorry devs!
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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5.9 hrs em registo
Think the Walking Dead, but in a Fallout style world where everything has been nuked. The Descendant sees you in the role of Donnie, a ‘janitor’ – that’s a person in charge of the ‘vaults’, or more specifically, in charge of looking after and reviving the frozen people in the vaults when the world gets better. Donnie is investigating Ark-01, an Ark that didn’t ‘wake up’ with the rest of the Ark’s when the world became habitable again.

Sounds interesting? It is. However, the developer’s inexperience shines through. Characters are inconsistent and rarely stick to keeping the same personalities. Playing through the game is like battling with someone who has extreme mood swings or a dual personality.

The gameplay is basic and poor, puzzles are extremely simple to deal with. The less said about the entirely unsatisfying ending, the better. This is one that I can’t recommend in good faith, and my advice to developers would be to make sure the story is more tighter and characters more well-defined before undertaking a similar project again in the future.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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3.2 hrs em registo
A choose your own adventure book based in the Warhammer 40k universe. You’re a space marine terminator, cleansing a space hulk. It plays as traditional choose your own adventure books do, with dice-roll battles (in the background for % to hit etc) and it works rather well.

As is tradition for these stories, you’ll be forced into a situation so that you end up working alone. That was a shame, because there’s an entire squad of marines with you initially, but very little interaction between the squad takes place. There’s not much character building, there’s no squad dynamics. So that potential was squandered.

Still, it is a decent game and it is regularly on sale for £1. At that price, you can’t really go wrong if you’re a 40k fan and just want some casual reading/gameplay. There’s a purity mechanic in there, which affects the game – act like a proper space marine and you’ll do fine. There are a variety of paths and several ways to approach each scenario as the story develops. So, there’s replay-ability here for those dedicated to seeking out the alternative routes through the storylines.

Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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9.3 hrs em registo
Psychological-horror game. Following the story of a man with brain damage who is off to test out a radically new prospective treatment by having his brain scanned. Only he wakes up from the scan in the future, in an underwater compound. Mind-screwing starts here and doesn’t let up, but this is a great storyline actually, philosophical as well. I highly recommend it for the plot alone.

Gameplay-wise, you go around investigating and doing puzzles. There’s ‘monsters’ that you have to avoid by hiding and sneaking about. Unfortunately, I absolutely despise that sort of gameplay because I feel that it’s just boring and eventually frustrating to bother with.

Fortunately, the developers have made a ‘safe mode’. This mode basically makes all the monsters more passive obstacles. They’re still scary (for me anyway), they still provide tense moments and they’ll still slap you about if you’re stupid enough to provoke them. But for most the part you don’t need to bother with the whole stealth and hide and being vulnerable bits. And that is a good thing because less dealing with these encounters ensures you have more time to explore and focus on the storyline, which as stated, is fantastic and is really the main draw of the experience. It also allows you more time to soak in the atmosphere, which is amazing. The music, the sound effects, they're all absolutely frightening and they all combine well to raise the tension levels.

This game had me thinking and also had me on the edge of my seat throughout in both tension and fear, which is a rather unusual combination of emotions to be had. Certainly, one that all should try, either on normal or on safe mode. Plus, that ending will leave you with some food for thought.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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41.9 hrs em registo
It’s dungeons and dragons! 2nd Edition rules. And ‘windy dale’ as it is known among the fanbase, is basically a dungeon crawler in D+D mode.

The EE has been updated for modern resolutions, and there are more customisation options and even a story mode for those not inclined to suffer the tough fights.

And there are tough fights. Indeed, I feel that Dale’s fights are either mindless face-roll affairs and then one or two big ridiculous fights that require inching forward and pulling small groups of enemies off the map to take down. As such, it switches between tedium and frustration in equal measure.

The game is slow, it is hampered by ancient rules that modern games turns the nose up to. For example, rest required for mages to cast their spells. And the moments of rest can be interrupted with ambushes from enemies. On top of this, is poor pathfinding and mechanics that drag the game down.

It does improve as you become battle-hardened heroes and the tactical options start opening up a bit. There’s a story here too, though it is thin. It is serviceable and interesting, but spread very thin across the combat encounters.

Still, the new developers recognised that some people might want to experience it, so they’ve put in a story mode which is invulnerability mode so you can do exactly that - I see a lot of mainstream reviews bashed this choice, but I think it is a good anti-frustration inclusion. The story basically kicks off with your rag-tag band of adventurers going on an expedition to answer a call for help in the following town over. It gets wilder as it goes on.

As a game, I’m undecided on whether it is good or not for today. Back in the day, I took great delight in the mechanics. But thesedays, I’m a modern gamer and I want modern quality of life things. The Dale both sings to nostalgia and to modern irritabilities. Still, if you enjoy D+D then this is a good campaign to dive into and try to survive the many battles and I must admit, by the end, the game had grown on me a bit. Also, the ending twist was brilliant, I really enjoyed that! I would rate the game 7/10 overall.

Heart of Winter Expansion

The expansion to Icewind Dale could theoretically be done midway through the base game. However, there was a sword in the base game that could be transferred and improved upon in the expansion. This sword is past the point of no-return in the base game, so I completed the base game and then imported my save into the expansion. You lose inventory items for doing this, but you do get to carry over a plot-relevant sword as a reward for taking this route.

Heart of Winter puts you in the town of Lonelywood, and your job is to figure out what is bringing together hordes of barbarians and if possible, prevent a war from being unleashed. I think it is much better paced than the base game. There’s plenty of fighting, but there’s also scope for plenty of downtime quests in Lonelywood, things requiring dialogue instead of knifing people in the eye-sockets. This variety made the game more interesting for me.

It is short, clocking in at 10 hours, minus 3 for the Luremaster (which is a difficult mini-expansion within the expansion), so 7 hours altogether. Compared to the 30 of the base game, it’s a tighter, shorter narrative. Still, I enjoyed it and I really enjoyed some of the old school things they did. For example, try out the tracking skill as a Ranger to get an overview of the enemy types in the entire map. It’s pretty sweet, and something that modern games neglect. Also, Ron Perlman is in this one, and we all love listening to his voice acting.

The expansion elevates the game for me, and I certainly recommend it for D+D fans. Those unfamilar with D+D or old school CRPGS could always take a risk here, there's adjustable difficulty modes after all, and a storymode for when things become too frustrating. It's a worthwhile jaunt, just don't expect too heavy a storyline though, this is mostly all about the combat encounters.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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3 pessoas acharam esta análise útil
7.5 hrs em registo
It's a 7/10 singleplayer game, and nothing's wrong with that.

Space Marine has you starring as a Space Marine (obviously), landing at a planet which is under a full-scale Ork Assault. The single player campaign is serviceable, it's nice to look at, combat is relatively simple affair - you shoot stuff in the face, or you saw them apart with a chainsaw etc.

There's no cover mechanic, an interesting feature implemented by the devs because Space Marines don't run away and they sure as hell don't hide behind cover. That's all fine and dandy, but at some point you will have more than a few enemies on the screen and you will suddenly drop into the red.

The way around this? Execution kills to restore health. Only trouble is, you're *not* immune to damage while doing this, so you can easily end up in a situation where you need health, but trying to get health will ensure you're dead as everyone piles on you while you do some of the lengthy execution animations. Still, it's fair enough on normal difficulty - I didn't struggle too much, but I can imagine it could be frustrating for those not adept with the genre, or for those who enjoy cranking up the difficulty modes!

The plot is basic, but it's good enough to get the job done. Where this game surprised me is with how it writes some of the characters. This is quite an even-handed approach and demonstrating what a Space Marine is, and how they can/should be. In fact, one of the main contrasting themes is between the 'stick up your butt' Marine and one who is willing to be flexible, and by the end it signs off in one of the best post-game speeches I've had the pleasure of listening to!

It doesn't break too much new ground, but then it never really meant to. It's a straight up shooter in the Warhammer 40k universe and it's okay as that. It's regularly on sale for peanuts too, so not much reason to stay clear of it. Play it, get to the end and enjoy that speech.
Publicado a 3 de Outubro de 2018.
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