Category Archives: Game Review

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)

2

 

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: The Telltale Series – Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue

Yes, the first episode came out a while ago and yes, we know we are a little late to the show; but, we only just picked up the Season Pass disc and that wasn’t released until just a couple of days ago. So, Episode 1 of Telltale’s latest adventure delves into the lives of this group of misfits as they roam the galaxy as the famed Guardians of the Galaxy. The Nova Corps asks them to face Thanos as he is on a nearby Kree planet searching for some kind of relic. The Guardians kill Thanos, using a powerful gun created by Rocket Raccoon, and celebrate their victory, Star-Lord himself drinking out of the cup-shaped relic that Thanos had found. As opposed to the blockbuster film, this is where you’re able to delve more into the personalities and thoughts of each of the Guardians, (even though Groot doesn’t really have a whole lot to say).

Stepping away from the story for a moment, the physical look of the game is something that I believe needs to be talked about: this game would have definitely benefit physically with the outlined look of games like Tales From the Borderlands and The Walking Dead. Besides that, the game looks stunning in both the aspect of detail to the environments and on character design. Mechanically, it also plays very well considering you are essentially playing as the Guardians as a whole. When you’re playing the game itself, you control Star-Lord, but when you’re working on quick-time events, you essentially play as all of them. That being said, you make all the decisions and moves as Star-Lord, a charming and witty guy who fights within the means of his team and for the protection of the galaxy: a very specific kind of character.

Many of the choices in the game require you to behave as you would normally, making the choice you feel best fits the situation. Playing as Star-Lord, I found myself making decisions that I felt he would make instead of what I would do. Yes, there are plenty of people who are playing the game without already knowing about the characters beforehand, but some responses just happen to feel all too genuine while others feel as though they were put there just to give the illusion of decision making. There are some very important decisions you do have to make. Like, whether you should listen to Rocket or Gamora about who to sell Thanos’ body to or who you should take with you to explore the Kree warship. Those decisions do build up tension within the team and kind of leaves you feeling like you need to make sure you don’t piss everyone off; however, it would have been nice to feel like I’m more in control of my decisions as myself, not as Star-Lord.

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Clocking in at a little bit over an hour, the first episode of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series really does open up the story in a very interesting and intriguing way. The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered while forming a million new questions as well. Fortunately, the series has much to explore in the ways of exactly who our characters are and why they are the way that they are. It feels as though the game is going to take a very serious turn in the coming episodes and give these characters a story worth remembering. I mean, exactly how many moms are there who ask alien hunters to care for their kids should something happen to them?

CLOSER:

While the game might not look as physically appealing as other Telltale games, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series really gives these Marvel characters the attention they deserve in a story about just one of their many misadventures. This episode really does leave me with high expectations for the upcoming episodes between the fluidity between members during quick-time events and more insight into this incredibly interesting story.

Released on April 18, 2017

Developed and Published by Telltale Games

Reviewed on PS4

(3.5/5)

3

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

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: Voodoo Vince: Remastered

Now, here’s a little story I’ve got to tell about a voodoo doll you know so well. It started way back in history with Xbox, Beep Industries, and me, Natalie C.

The game, originally an Xbox original exclusive created by the founder of Beep Industries, Clayton Kauzlaric, is your average platformer filled with collectibles and secret areas. It’s been beautifully redone in HD which really gives the game the design that it deserves against a strange New Orleans type backdrop. Vince has come to life as his creator, Madame Charmaine, is kidnapped after refusing to give up her ‘Zombie Dust’. The dust is spread into the air and begins to transform nonliving things into living things; and this is where Vince comes to life.

Games like this are hard to come by nowadays as so many big developers are focused on things like virtual reality and motion capture. Of course, moving forward with technology is the best route that gaming could take however sometimes its just relaxing to sit down with a well designed, and simple, platforming puzzler. As a true remaster, (no extra levels or added bonuses), the game retains everything from the 2003 original, including the 8 hours of playtime. No, the eight hours shouldn’t scare people away; it’s fun throughout and filled with tons of witty dialogue and fun puzzles the entire way through.

Not really deviating from your average platformer, the game takes you through different areas of this New Orleans-like town where you must solve puzzles in order to proceed to the next area. Some of these puzzles are really well designed, forcing you to do them a few times before really realizing where you made your mistake. The levels are designed for exploration and regardless of how many times you think you may have scoured the area, there’s always a place you missed. Fortunately, hunting things down is still a ton of fun as you find entrances and passages that you didn’t see before, testing the limits of just how far Vince can jump and float for.

This game has you collecting ‘Voodoo Powers’, giving Vince an array of different powers that affect his enemies. It’s pulled off through little animations of Vince being attacked in some way, (like being cut by a chainsaw or having an anvil dropped on him), and then transferring those injuries to the enemies in the vicinity. It’s very wacky but it isn’t tacky, conjuring laughter more than cringe as you cycle through the different animations every time you unleash a dumb attack. This also ties into the actual conversations you have in the game, whether it be with someone who can help you or an enemy, the game has aged relatively well in terms of dialogue. Many of the bosses and enemies you meet deliver passive-aggressive lines that really hits that nostalgia related to games like Psychonauts and Grim Fandango.

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Closer:

Voodoo Vince certainly looks his best in this well deserved remaster of the original game that graced our grubby hands 14 years ago. The game is oozing with charisma and character that fans, new and old, will be able to find both hilarious and  challenging. Hopefully, this game’s release will continue the trend of remastering older fan favorites.

You can pick up Voodoo Vince: Remastered on either Xbox One and PC for $14.99.

Released on April 18, 2017

Developed and Published by Beep Games, Inc.

Reviewed on Xbox One

(4.0/5)

4-rating

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

Check out the trailer for the game: