Category Archives: Game Review

Review: Persona 5

Ah, yes; it is finally time for everyone to read what the Dwellers think about Atlus’s most recent American release, Persona 5. Just like every other sane person in the world, we think it’s way too awesome for words, (but we will do our best anyway). The game follows several teens who all have the same goal of transforming evil people by taking their hearts in a strange metaverse that uses monster-like weapons called Personas. The game is a little difficult to describe if you have never played a Persona game before but let me tell you that I’ve successfully managed to convince several people in my personal life to play the shit out of this one, (Michael and Mike).

Not only is the story incredibly well done as it focuses primarily on the actual evil within human hearts, it is very human and very much an exaggerated version of the mundane. Of course, things like turning into a Phantom Thief and fighting your way through gigantic Palaces in order to steal a treasure that will give the Palace creator a change of heart may seem a little far-fetched, but it’s the idea of why they’re doing it.
Many antagonists in the game are what the cast calls ‘shitty adults’: adults that don’t think about the consequences of their actions because the only people who care are the kids that they’re messing with. In a way, that’s true in the world outside of the game so many of the missions that these characters set out to do can sometimes feel a little more personal and really adds value to your gameplay.

Alongside that, the combat is packaged very well with an incredible combination of weaponry and your handy dandy persona. Like the previous games, you have the ability to collect different personas and utilize them as you please in battle. An even simpler battle system was added that allows you to quickly pin your enemy personas against their weaknesses without having to shuffle through all your personas. It allows for much quicker battles and lets you be on your way even faster than before. The grinding in this game feels far less like you’re just battling endlessly and really let’s you have fun and explore the Palaces/Mementos.

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This game also features probably the best cast of characters as well as the best Confidant characters, (characters that fuel the power of certain personas according to how your relationship with them is), in any Persona game. Almost all relationships that you can build in the game feel very personal and real, unlike some of the more stoic characters from previous games. Every character you meet is actually important to the overarching story, even if it doesn’t always feel that way, and have greater an effect on how you play the game than you may realize.

The environment is beautifully designed and it’s really clear just how much time Atlus spent on the environment, Palace designs, and enemy designs. It is undeniably beautiful and much of the combat is so stylish and well presented that you almost can’t help but continue to enter the Palaces just for more.

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Another aspect of the game I think deserves some real recognition is the way that the game focuses on you being a Phantom Thief. In previous games, you’re obviously important and the work you do is important however it is pretty much unknown to everyone that isn’t part of the initial group you play as. In this game, the Phantom Thieves are well known outside of the metaverse and actually pose a kind of threat to the characters real lives, as is seen early on in the game, (the game plays as though you are playing through a flashback). It’s a welcome story element that adds to the overarching plot and really adds to your gameplay as you discover new Confidants and meet new people.

Closer:

Persona 5 is definitely the best numbered Persona game in the series and really opens the door to new players unlike any other JRPG that I know. The game is undeniably gorgeous and inviting, paving the way for future JRPGs in the West and hopefully opening more doors to those who don’t normally play the genre, (yes, we are very excited about Yakuza Kiwami).

Released on April 4, 2017

Developed and Published by Atlus

Reviewed on PS4

(5/5)

Check out the trailer for the game below:

Review: Snake Pass

Kariana doesn’t review games, she plays them and then tells everyone around her about them. The thing is, Kariana has so much to say that sometimes, it’s best that she doesn’t write it down so that her thoughts flow smoother. So, Natalie writes it all down for her, but the reviews are all Kariana’s.

“Okay, so, let me start off by saying that Snake Pass is really great. It reminds me a lot of Crash Bandicoot or even Banjo and Kazooie, but there are flaws in this game like there are in those. The puzzles are all really fun, they can be pretty challenging, but more than anything, you always learn something new after each level you play. The real objective is to pass all the levels by slithering around and collecting all of the little orbs, and that’s hard as shit to do sometimes.”

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“You constantly have to go back to older levels that you’ve already completed because you’ve learned something new and while that’s great and all, just teach it to me the first time. I want to go through the game figuring things out as I go, not be told about it later. But the game is super cute. If you leave it alone for a while, your little bird friend flies to the screen and tries to get you to move around and the snake also will do little things, kind of like when Mario would fall asleep in Super Mario 64 if you left it for too long.

I also really like how smooth it is. It’s necessary for this kind of game since you’re slithering around and wrapping around different objects and trying to do things without falling. Sure, it gets stupid hard sometimes, but you’re a snake and we aren’t normally snakes in the real world. Since it’s so smooth, I don’t have to constantly worry about lag or framerate issues that could stop me from getting to a certain point. I’m just really good at being a snake.”

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“I also liked how every part of you is completely usable. You’re a snake; you only have your body and in most games, you’re only using your hands to do things and your eyes to look. You never have to meticulously climb things or watch out for your tail. It’s really fun and for the first time in a while, I’m moving my camera around like an idiot so that I can be a proper snake instead of jut hoping I can slide on everything.”

CLOSER:

Snake Pass is super fun and I’m so glad that it came out on the Nintendo Switch because it gives people a simple game to play to pass the time that is both really fun and really engaging. Sometimes, I just want to unwind and solve some puzzles without fighting anyone and this game definitely delivers that.”

You can pick up the game on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam for $19.99.

Released on March 29, 2017

Developed and Published by Sumo Digital

Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch

(3.5/5)

3

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

Check out the trailer for Snake Pass below:

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:

Review: Thimbleweed Park

Point and click adventure games have been making a comeback lately with the popularity of games like The Wolf Among Us and our previously reviewed Shardlight. In a way, I’m really glad that they’re coming back as strong as they are; being able to immerse yourself in a game and environment that lets you solve puzzles and utilize different commands without really requiring you to do more than just move your cursor is so unbelievably fascinating to me. Thimbleweed Park passed the line of what is considered a good point and click adventure and has easily become one of my favorite games in this genre yet. Packed full of pop cultural references, (the main characters might as well be Scully and Mulder from The X-Files), a seamless character changing system, and a tense, (yet charismatic), story, this game really has it all; especially plenty of jokes towards Lucasfilm Games.

The game follows FBI agents Angela Ray and Antonio Reyes through the town of Thimbleweed Park after a murder happens in the strange town. You spend the rest of the game switching between the characters and picking up/interacting with different items in order to move forward. Throughout your journey towards finding out who is responsible for the dead body, you meet with the different residents of Thimbleweed Park and began finding out more about some of the more ‘famous’ citizens. These discoveries come in the form of flashbacks that allow you to play as the mentioned character. For example, a woman at a diner tells you about a foul-mouthed clown named Ransome, explaining to you the reason as to why he continues to stalk the abandoned amusement park grounds to this day; instead of flat out telling you, they allow you to experience it.

The playable character count is also not overwhelming. Yes, you have the two different FBI agents that you can switch between, but you also take control of Delores Edmund, the town’s Pillowtronics factory heir, Ransome the Clown, a clown cursed to never be able to take off his makeup, and Franklin, a dead man in the Edmund hotel. Sure, these flashbacks aren’t very long, but they offer the player a unique experience in storytelling as you play through different characters instead of just be told what they did in the narrative. The voice acting is probably the only thing that takes a bit getting used to, (as well as the controls if you’ve never played a point and click before), but it quickly becomes one of the quirks of the game as characters have strange dialogue options that almost force you to want to listen to every single one. The game was designed to not leave players stuck as characters will constantly repeat what their objective is and the game itself will let you know at times that death is not an option.

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The environment is both very beautiful as well as very eerie, having made me jump a few times during the more tense scenes. No, the game isn’t really all that scary, but it definitely can force you to stay on your toes. The commands do get a little obnoxious, forcing you to rechoose your command if you accidentally click a pixel off, however this can be quickly overlooked as the right click on the mouse allows you to move consistently as well as do basic ‘open’ and ‘talk’ commands without having to select the command.

CLOSER:

Thimbleweed Park is definitely the best game to come from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, (it totally beat Maniac Mansion). The characters and their dialogue options really move the story along in a way that is funny and doesn’t really make you feel like you’re playing a game rather than watching a story unfold. The game can be a little frustrating at times but that doesn’t stop it from being a cool and undeniably funny addition to the point and click family. You can purchase the game for $19.99 on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.

Released on March 30, 2017

Developed by Terrible Toybox

Reviewed on Steam

(4.5/5)

4

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

Check  out the trailer for Thimbleweed Park below:

Review: Shardlight

In the day and age of mobile gaming, (especially now with the Nintendo Switch), people are now more than ever diving into digital games. Wadjet Eye Games‘s most recent release on PC last year, Shardlight, has finally made its way to a much more mobile platform and it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. Had I not played it on my iPhone 7 prior to writing this review, I don’t believe that I would have liked it as much as I did. The game is a point-and-click adventure revolving around a girl named Amy Wellard who has contracted an illness known as Green Lung. In order to earn a lottery ticket for a chance to win a dose of a life saving vaccine, she must take on dangerous jobs.

The job we find ourselves in at the start of the game leads Amy to an underground resistance group that oppose those that deal the lottery tickets. The story keeps you going for a bit as you sit through the tremendous amount of dialogue and the incredibly well done voice acting; but you can’t help really acknowledging only that.

Like most point and click adventures, the game has difficulty trying to get players to figure out exactly how to move forward. I found myself getting stuck pretty early on in the game, only to finally figure out twenty minutes later because the next puzzle/plot point was far too obscure for me to have figured out. Of course, it’s difficult to judge a game just because I might not be very good at it; but, Shardlight does also suffer from a few other factors that pairs it with your average action-adventure mobile game.

The entire game is fueled with a melancholy that never seems to break for any reason, despite the game being so frustrating at points that you really feel like some kind of comic relief needs to be involved. The game is somber, but it was definitely noticeable that it was just that and makes every character minus Amy seem very two dimensional. Of course, as NPC’s, you can’t expect much; however, dialogue can sometimes feel similar between characters and lack of much else begins to take a toll on the player’s interest when playing for several hours.

CLOSER:

Shardlight provides beautiful landscapes and incredible quality in voice acting, but fails to deliver as much more than your average action-adcventure point and click. The protagonist, Amy, is a strong female lead and I believe definitely deserves a second shot at a different story within the Shardlight universe. Despite that, the game seems to be lacking in everything that makes it shine above all else, forcing it to stand in the shadow of Wadjet Eye Games’s previous release Technobabylon.

Released on March 8, 2017

Developed and Published by Wadjet Eye Games

Reviewed on iOS

(2.5/5)

Check out the trailer for Shardlight below:

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