All posts by Mike Perez

Review: Demon’s Crystals

Demon’s Crystals is a small independent twin stick shooter brought to you Byte4Games. Demon’s Crystals just so happens to the first game developed by Byte4Games, and its quite a way to start their studio off. You take control of one of the Uricans, (these crazy powerful demons who are at the top of the food chain on this world), who must stop these 3 mysterious powerful beings who have changed the entire population of the planet into minions to do their bidding; traveling to different areas of the world clearing out the evil minions restoring order to your world. Each area provides some power-ups, (that do have a time limit), and the occasional new minions for you to tear apart.

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One of the best things about Demon’s Crystals is how mechanically sound it is; given that it is a twin stick shooter, there isn’t much they could fuck up. Everything handles pretty smoothly and just the way you want. One of the things I wish the game would allow you to do is choose which power up you use when you pick up multiple. The game just allows you to pick them up and it holds it for you on the side, and like mentioned earlier there is a time limit on each of the power-ups, so it just sits there wasting away. Really, other than that, the power-ups are well thought out and there are plenty of them. One pick up that isn’t in abundance is health. You do have to keep an eye on your health because it can slowly drain on you without notice. The taking damage aspect of the game is a little poorly done, which can cause you to die and lose the level, (very upsetting when it does happen).  

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Sadly, I do have some more issues with the game; the size of each area you travel too is relatively small and you can get cornered pretty easily. Now, I wouldn’t mind this if it was to up the difficulty of the game, but it doesn’t seem like it here. A good way they could of gone about it was having every area interconnected and just allowing you to travel through the world. Another issue I have with the game is how it looks, and listen, I’m no graphics whore, but man it just doesn’t look good. The colors seem to blur and the character designs could be a little more appealing to the eyes, but the level designs are quite pretty even if they are tiny. I did have another smaller issue with the game lacking a deeper story, not just a quick opening crawl.

CLOSER:

Honestly for the price you’re paying for the game its loads of fun with a great a multiplayer, but it does have a lot of issues that are quite noticeable. Still, with a price point at $4.99 you really can’t beat the hours of fun you’ll have especially if you have a couple of friends to play with. You can pick up Demon’s Crystals on the PlayStation Store, The Microsoft Store, and Steam for $4.99.

Released on May 12, 2017

Developed by Byte4Games and StarCruister Studio

Published by Badland Games

Reviewed on PS4

(2.5/5)

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Review: Prey

Bethesda and Arkane Studios bring Prey back to the gaming community in such an interesting and innovative way that appeals to a broader spectrum of gamers. A fresh take on a series that began way back in 2006 with a cancelled sequel from Human Head Studios, how might have Bethesda come to acquire the Prey IP? Originally, Radar Group had contracted Human Head Studios to create something for them, the first Prey. Well, after that first Prey and its success, Radar Group contracted Human Head Studios for the sequel.  They were supposedly working on it for roughly three years and after some time of inactivity on the project, Radar Group bought the Prey IP. Less than a month later, they sold it to ZeniMax Media, (a parent company of Bethesda).

ZeniMax allowed Human Head Studios to continue working on the project, but, (now these are rumors), Human Head and Bethesda had a falling out after Bethesda tried to buy them out, (all denied by Pete Hines), and Human Head wasn’t happy about that. Eventually, they go on strike, Prey 2 slowly loses its drive and the IP reverted back to Bethesda, (ZeniMax), in 2012. In 2014, Pete Hines came out and said that the Prey sequel isn’t living up to their standards, which then fueled several rumors at the time  saying that Arkane studios was working on a sequel to the Prey franchise. Now that we have a little bit of interesting background knowledge on the game, let’s get into it. Get ready for spoilers.

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Prey starts you off on what you believe to be Earth, (which you quickly find out that this is a lie), and has your version of Morgan Yu just reliving his/her past memories. It can be a little confusing at first and you don’t get the nitty gritty details unless you go looking for them, which includes checking every computer system for emails, files, or videos. Honestly, I love a healthy world with overflowing backstory, but there are some major plot points that you won’t get unless you read all this information. Yeah, that’s cool and all, but there are better ways to get your story across without going through tedious workarounds. Other than that, the story for Prey is a great sci-fi horror story with some interesting elements.  

The gameplay mechanics were very slow and really hindered my ability to play against certain enemies because they were just far too fast, (the game was reviewed on PS4 and it is unknown to us whether or not this problem is the same for PC.) The Mimics move pretty quickly and it really doesn’t work well on a controller having to pan from left to write when its running back and forth, (especially in the very beginning where all you have is a wrench). Another thing that wasn’t received very well was how the game portrays certain weapons to be easy to maneuver when a lot of the tools don’t work as cleanly as portrayed, (or maybe I’m just really shitty at  it). I did enjoy the space walking, and the way you manipulate your powers, (or your ability to manipulate powers).  

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The is one thing you can’t take away from Prey is the beauty of the game; one of the best looking Sci-fi games out right now, without a doubt. With it being such a gorgeous game, you would hope that the world would be filled with things for you to do although sadly, it really isn’t. From the scenery all the way down to the Mimics, Prey is a beautiful game but it fails in aspects that matter more than what we believe the developers were focusing on. It’s a shame really, considering the real lack of extraordinary science fiction/horror games that have released lately.

CLOSER:

Arkane studios brought the Prey franchise to this generation of consoles, and with a great marketing push they really brought it into the view of the modern gamer. There were some issues with the game that we believe would have been solved playing on a PC, and it really did hinder the experience. With that said, Prey gets a 3.0. You can pick Prey up at your local retailer, The PlayStation Store, The Microsoft Store or Steam for $59.99.

Released on May 5, 2017

Developed by Arkane Studios

Published by Bethesda Softworks

Reviewed on PS4

(3.0/5)

3 Ratnig

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I want to start this off saying that Guardians of the Galaxy, (the first one), is my favorite MCU, (Marvel Cinematic Universe), movie and one of my favorite comic book movies, (Kingsmen holds number one if you’re curious). I would also like to add that if you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I’m going to spoil a lot of things for you, so be warned.

With that out of the way, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 starts the film out the right way with one of the best opening credit scenes: a toddler Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky by Electro Dance Orchestra. The music really sets the tone for the film, but since it is a sequel we can’t help comparing it to its predecessor and in comparison to the first Guardians, the music is definitely used better in the first. Now that isn’t a knock on how Vol. 2 used its soundtrack, the music is wonderfully woven into the movie making those great moments even better. Tyler Bates, the composer, and James Gunn, the director, have created this wonderful blend of film and music that really makes the music a staple in this franchise.

With this being the sequel, one of the things they didn’t have to worry about was getting the team together, that gives them some room to flesh out the Guardians more. Gunn does a wonderful job at giving these lovable characters a couple more layers. One that was really quite surprising was Yondu (Michael Rooker), when we learn why he never took Peter (Chris Pratt) to Ego (Kurt Russell), who is, you know, just trying to use his children as batteries to make the universe nothing but him. We also learn that Yondu lost his Ravager title long ago and has been flying a false flag. Sylvester Stallone plays Stakar Ogord, (one of the original comic book Guardians and leader of the Ravagers in the MCU), and plays a big role in Yondu’s closure as a character (Spoiler: he’s dead and gets a proper Ravagers funeral). Rocket, (Bradley Cooper), is just one of those tough guy characters with a soft heart who actually cares for his friends but shows it by being an asshole; and yeah, it was nice to get a little more of the lovable asshole raccoon but his story was just easy to see where it was headed. Another storyline that felt a little flat, but I was glad I got a little more of ,was Gamora, (Zoe Saldana), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) Their story, like Rocket’s, was easy to pinpoint where it was headed. It isn’t a knock on how they performed, they did a wonderful job, it was just not wonderfully written.

One of the problems with the first film was Ronan the Accuser. In Vol. 2, it somewhat leads you to believe that Ayesha,(Elizabeth Debicki), and The Sovereign were the villains even though they honestly really aren’t. The Guardians are, specifically Rocket, the ones who stole the Anulax batteries from them. The Sovereign are actually just trying to get back their stolen goods, which is a pretty honorable thing if you ask me. Then there’s Ego, the celestial planet who uses his children from all over the universe for his own plans. Kurt Russell does such a wonderful job winning you over, playing catch with his son making you think he actually cares for a relationship with his half celestial son. In some weird way he did want a relationship with Peter, he just went at it in a terrible way. Learning from the first Guardians, Gunn gave us more time with the villain, giving us more time to learn his motives and appreciate his character.

CLOSER:

While I do have some issues with the film, all in all it’s really fun ride and with some great character stories; and some not so great ones. That’s why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets a 4.0. Go out to the movies, watch Guardians Vol. 2 or watch a shitty movie, just go out and watch a movie and enjoy the media. Make sure you give them your money so they can keep on doing what they’re doing.

(4.0/5)

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Review: Banner Saga Complete Pack with Survival Mode

With their world coming to an end, an army of Dredge are sweeping across the land and they must fight to survive against Varl, Human, and Dredge alike. Traversing across this hand painted landscape, you  craft your own story in this beautiful world that seems to be falling apart while learning bits and pieces of the world and its inhabitants, each having their own motivations and striving for their own goals. Create a team along your journey to band with you and help survive what seems to be the end of your world.

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The Banner Saga has been out for some time now, and I’m sure some of you have heard of it and others haven’t, and that’s fine, we won’t say you’re uncultured or anything like that, (but you are). Stoic has really done something wonderful with this series and have created such a beautiful and captivating world with it’s own set of captivating characters to match. It’s surprise to say that The Banner Saga was the first Game developed by Stoic Studios, with it all coming together so beautifully.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing The Banner Saga is how beautiful this game is; from the characters, to the backgrounds, even the animations, every visual aspect of the game is absolutely stunning. The most minimal things will catch your eye, like a flock of birds soaring across the sky above your caravan, or the details in each of the characters designs and animations. What really ties the animations and the world all together is the game’s score and how well it’s used, even in the most minimal ways. When you’re having a conversation between characters and you can hear the world going on in the background, it sound so authentic; it just makes the world all fit together. The score really shines when you’re traveling with your caravan from one town to the next, getting the beautiful landscape shots alongside the great music going on in the background. There is some minor voice acting, but the little voice acting done is absolutely wonderful, it’s so engaging and powerful. Not only is it well done, but it’s also perfectly placed, giving that extra ‘oomph’ to the story.

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After you get over how beautiful The Banner Saga is, you start see how engaging the story and characters can be. Jumping from different points of view in the beginning of the story, allowing you to create your own ideas an opinions of the world and characters. With some interesting choice-based mechanics, every decision you make affects you in some way. The decisions you make also affect the characters around you, which may cause you to lose some of your party. Not only do you have to worry about your party members along the way, but you also have your caravan to take care of. There are plenty of ways to handle the caravan and you can either care for them or let them take care of themselves; however, how you handle the caravan and its morale can affect your party members in various ways. The caravan really adds something interesting to the game, opening it up to more than just a strategy RPG.  

With all the great The Banner Saga utilizes, it does have some hiccups. One of the things that stood out the most to me was the lack of customizing to your party. You know, maybe I’d like to throw a dope-ass cloak over Rook, or maybe give Gunnulf a badass long sword. Really, other than that, I would appreciate a couple more cutscenes just because they’re absolutely beautiful and really adds to the beautiful story.

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The Banner Saga 2 is a direct sequel from the first one, and you can choose to continue with the path you ended in the first game or make that one crucial change to the end of the game. It does have some new features, and they do add plenty of cutscenes which was something I wanted more from the first one. The gameplay and art style are still the same, which is totally a plus. We also get to spend some more time with the cast and world of the first game, building on the lore and making the world feel more alive and natural.  

One of the new features I enjoyed in The Banner Saga 2 was the caravan. They really made the caravan more vital to the game, with the more clansmen you have the more they can go forage for you; but, you can now train your clansmen to become fighters and give you a bigger advantage on the battlefield. Once your clansmen become fighters, you’ll start getting less supplies when your clansmen go out to forage. It really adds a new dynamic to your caravan and opens up the gameplay a little more.

The really aren’t many differences on gameplay mechanics from the first to the sequel, and the story is still just as great and engaging. Stoic continues to hit the ball out of the park with The Banner Saga and if you’re a fan of strategy games, I definitely recommend it. I actually implore you to play this masterpiece of a video game series.

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Stoic didn’t stop there they also added a survival mode, which is pretty obvious with a name like that you’re going through different levels, taking on the Dredge with a set of heroes, unlocking new ones or upgrading the current ones you have. There’s a small story for you to tie all the levels together but it’s nothing crazy and it makes it a little more engaging. What the survival mode does great is allowing you to fall back into the wonderful mechanics of the game without the weight of the story on your shoulders, making you slightly less nervous in each battle.

CLOSER:

Like I said earlier, Stoic just hits it out of the park whenever they step into this world; even in a small mini game they added to just please fans.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful these games are. From the gameplay, to the art style, to the lore of the world, The Banner Saga series is one of the best strategy series today and I would even say that it’s almost on par with the XCOM series.

With that said I’m going to give the Banner Saga Complete Pack a 4.5, Which you can pick up On the PlayStation Store, and the Xbox Store for $37.99.

Released on March 16, 2017

Developed by Stoic Studios

Published by Versus Evil

Reviewed on PS4

(4.5/5)

A review copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

 

 

Review: 88 Heroes

 

With Dr.H8 on a war path to annihilate the earth, and the world’s best heroes currently unavailable, the 88th president of the United States gathered 88 of earth’s not so great heroes to take him down before it’s too late. With 88 heroes, you might think it should be a cakewalk to take down DR.H8, but with some of the most obscure powers, (like a pizza eating armadillo), it’s going to be a challenge to stop that evil mastermind.

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88 Heroes is the first game developed by indie studio Bitmap Bureau, which happened to be founded in February of last year. Hopefully Bitmap Bureau can hit it out of the park and make a name for themselves right out the gate. With each hero having their own mechanics, it does make the journey through the 88 levels quite interesting. Having a new hero on every level and each time you die, can be quite difficult, but it does make the experience more enjoyable.

At first glance, 88 Heroes may seem just like any other modern day 2D pixelated platformer with a beautiful art style, chiptune-esque music, and sprinkled in with some shout outs to some classic action films; but after a couple levels you begin to see what 88 Heroes can be. You find your way through each level attempting to reach the elevator to get you a little closer to Dr.H8 while taking advantage of each hero’s special ability, or succumb to the level due to the ridiculousness of your heroes power (or lack thereof). Now it does get a little frustrating when you have already wasted more than a few heroes on one level, but that’s the charm of the game. Without a very engaging story, (much like those classic action films), 88 Heroes has to win you over another way, and that’s where the zaniness and sense of accomplishment get you.  

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The lineup of heroes Bitmap Bureau has brought to the game is wonderful, with references to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Microsoft, Mario Bros and other great media from the 80’s and 90’s. Don’t be mistaken, Bitmap has brought some original heroes into the mix as well, such as Miss Fortune, (She flips a coin and if you’re lucky she takes you straight to the elevator at the end of the level, but if you aren’t, you’re dead on the spot and down one hero), or Nibbles the destroyer, (A nearly indestructible gerbil in a run-about ball), plus many more creative heroes. The colorful cast of heroes that Bitmap has crafted for your adventure wouldn’t be nearly as great if their villain wasn’t just as zany as them. Dr.H8 watches over our heroes from the safety of his hideout (except for some difficult little boss battles, that can deplete your supply of heroes if you aren’t careful). While you overcome Dr.H8s Treacherous rooms you also get to see some insight on how he truly feels and the way he treats his robot henchmen, (it isn’t very good).

I won’t tell you 88 Heroes is an easy game, because I would be lying to you. Bitmap Bureau has made a challenging and fun platformer, with some puzzle elements to their gameplay. You might disagree, but solving each and every room with a new hero is a puzzle within itself, having to understand how each heroes power works and ways to manipulate it to your advantage. One could say there’s 88 ways to tackle each room, but you know there’s probably more. Occasionally you’ll be able to breeze through a room getting that perfect score with your first hero, other times you could lose a hero or two along the way for not playing it smart and going in too fast. Bitmap Bureau really did something special with the change of heroes, bringing in an extra level of difficulty with a puzzle element and still making it fun to play.

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Not only is it fun with a high level of difficulty, but it’s also feels great to play. You might be a little confused at first when learning each of the hero, but after you work out the kinks each hero feels great. This is no easy accomplishment, with 88 different heroes and there are some awkward powers, but they all feel smooth.  

With everything great that Bitmap Bureau does, 88 Heroes still has it’s flaws. One of the biggest things I felt the game was missing was a little story, maybe a cutscene every so often with some witty banter between some of the heroes and maybe Dr.H8. A little more story would have pulled everything together, if done the right way. Also, maybe a selection of three heroes each time you die or hit a new level, just to ease up on the difficulty, which might push some people away from this wonderful game.

CLOSER:

Bitmap Bureau did a great job on 88 Heroes, with its zaniness and overall fun. It’s really inviting for players who enjoyed platformers, but then adds that puzzle flavor which really opens up the game, and that’s why 88 Heroes gets a solid 4. I definitely recommend you go out and pick it up today. You can pick up 88 Heroes on Steam, The PlayStation Store, and on the Microsoft Store for $14.99.

Released on March 24, 2017

Developed by Bitmap Bureau

Published by Rising Star Games

Reviewed on PS4

(4/5)

4-rating

A review copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

Check out the trailer for 88 Heroes below: