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Friday, May 22, 2015

Steredenn: Quick Look

Steredenn is a shmup (shoot'em up) with a very interesting idea. Let's throw some RNG (random) level into the mix! You'll be going through proceedrally generated levels shooting up bad guys and avoiding bullets in a tough as nails challenge level.

The game features wonderfully rendered pixel art, with a great metal sound track to add that additional bit of attitude. As far as presentation is concerned I have little to complain about.

Steredenn is pretty standard fare as far as shmups are concerned. Shoot things, don't get shot, get them pick ups, and don't die! What set Steredenn apart from it's competitors is it's RNG nature. Most shmups have consistent levels and encounters. It's often designed this way for this genre because shmups are traditionally a very player skill oriented genre, and consistency is often needed in skill orientated activities. Steredenn throws that out the window and offer replayablity over consistency, with new encounters each play through. 

Overall Steredenn is a very enjoyable shmup, with great aesthetics and sound, and I can't wait to see the game progress further.

- Excellent Pixel art presentation
- Great sound track
- RNG makes this shmup a little unique
- Addictive and challenging

- Low on content
- RNG could make the learning curve more difficult than other shmups.

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Steredenn hours played at recording: 2

Completion Status on Steredenn: Incomplete

This copy of Steredenn given by the developers for review

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Castaway Paradise Complete Edition: Impressions

Castaway Paradise is an interesting take on the Animal House Crossing formula. Much like it's inspiration, you go around your island home, doing various tasks, such as gardening, clean up, fishing, and quests for your friends. Through these activities you'll gain XP and currency to help progress, and customize both your character and your island home. It's a pretty simple premise and should be pretty easy to grasp for all gamers of all age and level.

The game isn't hard to learn, and it's not one I would say it's focused on player skill. Rather, it's fairly relaxing, and could be argued as mindless, but I'd like to call it simple. The controls are all through mouse clicks, from moving your character to watering your plants. Accessibility is one of the game's biggest strengths and the learning curve is very easy going and should be able to be enjoyed by even the youngest of audience. 

Though the game is simple, I do feel it to be fairly satisfying. Earning xp to unlock the next set of things to customize my island and character with, purchasable with the ingame currency earned, there's something really addictive about this formula. I found myself endlessly checking on all my plants, constantly chasing the next quest, and doing it over and over again, Castaway Paradise has mastered the endless loop design of Animal Crossing. Because of this, it's arguable that the game can start feeling grindy after a while, but I don't think it was designed for long stretches of play, rather, like it's inspiration Animal Crossing, really meant to be visited for an hour or just a few minutes each day.

In Animal Crossing there is a pile of incentive to keep playing, or at least to visit each day. You can unlock mini-games, trigger events in game during real time holidays and celebrations. In Castaway Paradise I've yet to see any of these elements. I've only played for about 3 hours on the game's launch, so since this genre requires real world, time commitment over months, if not years, it's difficult for me to say if these elements are apart of the game. I'm of course hoping that these interesting tidbits spearheaded by Animal Crossing is also included into Castaway Paradise in some way. If there is a lack of mini-games to be unlocked, or if it isn't real world holiday sensitive I feel the game would be lacking some of the most charming elements that made Animal Crossing so memorable. Again, these are elements that I simply can not comment on for Castaway Paradise, as I do understand will require time to full flesh out, if it's there at all.

Overall Castaway Paradise is a charming little Animal Crossing-like, that seem to be doing a pretty good job at emulating it's inspiration. Only time can tell the true quality of the game, as this genre is really meant to be played over long periods of real work dates. But speaking solely from the 3 hours I've experience, it won me over. 

- Charming visuals
- Addictive gameplay
- Lots to unlock
- (so far) does a good job at emulating it's inspiration (Animal Crossing)

- Can be considered grindy
- Might be too simple for some

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Castaway Paradise Complete Edition hours played: 3

Completion Status on Castaway Paradise Complete Edition: N/A

This copy of Castaway Paradise Complete Edition was given by the developers for review.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Republique Remastered: Impressions

Republique is an interesting take on the stealth genre. It mixes some point and click sensibilities with classic stealth and puzzle elements. All presented in a polished and expertly crafted world.

In Republique, you don't control the girl exactly, rather, you're a 3rd party entity that can control the cameras in the world, as well as any other electronic device. You'll be task to guide the girl through the game, through simple point and click commands, while having the ability to hack devices to your advantage. The fact that you see through the camera's perspective makes for some interesting gameplay. Being able to jump from camera to camera, allowing you to scout ahead of the girl for potential danger is one that's pretty fresh. Couple that with the hacking abilities and that it's a point and click, Republique has some fresh and interesting ideas for the stealth genre.

Though I did find the gameplay and stealth satisfying I think it's only fair I also mention that it's was also not the most challenging stealth game I've ever played. Because the girl is controlled mostly by an AI, with you serving only as a guide to her destination, I feel that the enemy AI has been scaled back in order to compensate. The enemy AI isn't the greatest, often missing the girl sneaking right next to them. But as mentioned before, due to the way the game was designed, this is some what understandable, but does come with a cost to the game's overall challenge level. For those who are really into stealth games, this could be perceived as a negative, but for those who are new to the genre, or like easier going games, this could be considered "accessible". How you feel about this will be very subjective.

Republique features some impressive visuals, taking full advantage of Unity 5's technology, and leaning on the team's professional background. The aesthetics are wonderfully designed, with expertly crafted models and textures, and lighting that would make Hollywood jealous. There's also some great voice over work with well known actors in the game industry. Presentation wise, I have little to no complaints about Republique. It's polished, it's professional, and it has a ton of style.

There's a lot to like about Republique but it's not perfect. The story of the game, with as little spoilers as possible, is one of a dystopian setting. It has all the classic elements, oppression, unreasonable mass surveillance, the lost of personal identity, hell it even has some book burning involved. I usually am a sucker for dystopian stories but I found Republique's to be rather cliche, offering very little new to the genre. I've played through ep 1-3 (whats currently available as of this impression) and it just repeats the same tropes that every one have seen a thousand times over in other dystopian tales. Even the characters in the game are weak with out much development. The story of the game was my biggest point of contention. Not necessarily because it was bad, but because it was incredibly average. I'm hoping that the future installments of ep. 4-5 will fix this issue, though I feel 1-3 was weak from a narrative stand point.

Republique overall is a strong and interesting entry into the stealth and point and click genre. If you're a fan of either of those types of games, I think Republique is worth checking out. It offers a lot of fresh ideas, and a polished to a shine presentation. If you're looking for an original and engrossing dystopian tale, Republique may disappoint, but because of how interesting and how high quality the other elements that make up Republique, I would still recommend checking it out if you have the chance.

- Professional quality presentation
- Unique and interesting ideas for both the point and click and stealth genre
- Accessible

- Cliche story
- Could be considered overly forgiving in challenge

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Republique Remastered hours played: 6

Completion Status on Republique Remastered: Complete (ep.1-3)

This copy of Republique Remastered was given by the developers for review.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power: Quick Look

Trine 3 is still in early access, so the content will be limited. This is the first thing I want people to understand.
The game takes what the Trine series have already established, creative puzzles and level design, gorgeous graphics, and entertaining co-op gameplay, and then add in a new dimension, more specifically, the third dimension. Unlike it's predecessors, in Trine 3 you can move in and out of the background on all X, Y, and Z axis.

The additional dimension will evoke new puzzle elements and a new way to think about puzzling and platforming. It's really hard to say if this is to the serie's benefit or detriment at this point simply because there's not enough of the game to really judge that quite yet. As mentioned before, Trine 3 is in early access, and as of this impression (v0.04 Build 2882) there's only the first 2 chapters, 2 challenge levels, and a sandbox map. There's only about 1.5 hours of gameplay, and because of the lack of content at the moment, it's very difficult to judge if the new dimension adds, or detract from the classic formula.

What I can say from the brief amount of gameplay I've experienced, is that the presentation and aesthetics is top shelf quality, the controls feel responsive, the puzzles (so far) are satisfying with out being too frustrating, and it was a joy to play. I'd just like to see a lot more of it.

For fans of the Trine series, Trine 3 seem to be shaping up to be of a great quality, but once again, be aware there is VERY limited amount of content so far. The game also suffers from some optimization issues as well, but overall it's on the right path.

$20 might be asking for a little much for what's currently available, but I would suggest at the very least, adding this to your watch list, and check it out again when it's in it's final release. It definitely is showing a lot of promise.

- Gorgeous aesthetics
- Easy to learn
- Creative puzzles and level design

- Not enough content currently (v0.04 Build 2882)
- Needs optimization

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Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power hours played at recording: 2

Completion Status on Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power: v0.04 Build 2882 completed

This copy of Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power given by the developers for review

Thursday, April 30, 2015

State of Decay: YOSE Day One Edition: Impressions and Graphics Comparison

State of Decay was a fantastic open world zombie survival game when it was originally released on Xbox Live, but when it was ported to the PC it suffered from multiple problems. Bugs, and poor resolution were some of the most notable issues. Fortunately the core game was so good, many people including myself were willing to forgo any problems that it had, and enjoyed it any ways. What a great idea it is to "remaster" the original! The question though, is Year One remastered enough to justify a $30USD price tag?

If you've already played or own the original game is it worth $30? Short answer: NO.

Yes, the lighting have been improved significantly, and the texture quality is better, but other than that, there's not much new here. Sure, there are also some extra minor characters added, and now cars have decal (whoopie...), but every thing else about the game is exactly the same. The game advertises improved animations, and combat mechanics, yet I notice little changed about these 2 things. If there have been any changes, they're so tiny, it's barely noticeable. The two biggest improvements are the lighting and texture quality, both could of easily been added as a patch. There are no other notable additions, the model quality is exactly the same, there are no new modes to play, no new areas, no new quests, nothing for returning players.

If this was advertised as the definitive State of Decay collection, I would be fine with it. Lots of games like Boarderlands repackage old games into compilations for the benefit for new players, but this was advertised as a remastering. Even the description of the game mislead old fans to believe that there are a ton of new stuff here, when there aren't. Worst off, the most noticeable improvements, lighting, texture quality, and true 1080p, are things that should be been in place when they launched their original port! But instead they decided to charge it to us, as a lazy excuse of a remaster. If you're a returning player to the game, Year One is nothing more than a glorified update patch.

Luckily for us, the original is absolutely a stellar survival game, and since they changed nearly nothing about it, it remains a stellar survival game. If you are new to State of Decay, this might be a good time to get into the game, and perhaps Year One is suitable for the new comers. For old time fans who have already played, or own State of Decay, don't bother. It's not worth your money unless you have enough disposable income to justify it. But even then, the practice of selling what amounts to a patch for $30 and misleading old players to think that there are a ton of new stuff when there's not, is not a practice that I can condone.


  • Still the same, great State of Decay game
  • Suitable for any one NEW to the game


  • For returning players, there isn't much new
  • $30 for what amount to a patch is unconscionable
  • Neither combat or animation have been improved enough to justify it being in the description
  • The original was a lazy port, Year One is a lazy remastering

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Killing Floor 2: Early Impressions

Killing Floor 2 is the much anticipated sequel to one of the best online co-op FPS game out there. Killing Floor 2 does much of what the first does, but bigger, higher res, and damn bloodier!

You'll be going round from round with upto 6 players online battling zombies, mutants, and all sorts of nastiness. The game currently have 4 classes, or as the game calls them "perks", and they vary from berserker, medic, commando, and support. Each class can specialize in their respective roles through a simple skill tree. The game state it will have up to 10 playable classes once the game is finalized. In between each round you'll get the opportunity to upgrade your arsenal and to refill on essentials such as ammo and armor. The formula hasn't changed much from the first game, and it's pretty simple to grasp the concept.

In terms of visuals and audio Killing Floor 2 over shadow the original by a mile. It's a huge improvement with exceptionally good looking environments and enemies, and the soundtrack of the game is simply amazing. It features some of the rockingest metal that has ever metaled, well suited to a game like Killing Floor 2.

Another nice improvement from the first Killing Floor is the way the guns handle. Each gun and it's bullets will have physics attached to them, how you shoot your weapon, standing, crouched, while moving, etc, will affect how it'll shoot. The recoil feels realistic, the bullet physics feel right, it's on par if not above what modern military shooters have to offer. This is welcomed! A game like Killing Floor 2 could of easily gotten away with a much simpler design in gun mechanics, but it went above and beyond expectations and the game benefits greatly from it.

Though the game is a lot of fun at the moment it's not perfect. It being in early access also means not all the content is released yet. Since the game demand the player to play it over and over again, doing pretty much the same thing, the player could potentially feel the burn quicker than if it wasn't in early access. Currently there's only 4/10 classed available, not all traits, characters, maps, guns, game modes, and enemies have been implemented, meaning the content that currently available is limited. With limited amount of things to try and experiment with, the game runs the danger of getting monotonous faster than it would of otherwise. This is simply speculation as I've pumped in over 10 hours so far and have yet to feel the monotony burn quite yet. But I can see the potential for it and I think it's worth mentioning.

Overall Killing Floor 2 is a bloody joy to play, even in it's early access form, and will only get better as the game slowly move towards it's final Build.

- Highly improved graphics, audio, and gun play from the original
- Still one of the best online co-op FPS available
- High skill ceiling, yet easy to understand
- Feels polished and playable for an early access

- The missing content from it being in early access could make monotony an issue

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Killing Floor hours played (Including beta): 10

Completion Status on Killing Floor 2: N/A

This copy of Killing Floor 2 was given for review by the developers.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Victor Vran: Early Impressions

Victor Vran is an ARPG that has combat and twitch based action at the forefront. It has some interesting systems in play, such as your main skills are attached to your weapons. Since you can take 2 weapons into combat at any given time, it basically allows the player to take 2 sets of skills into combat, switching to maximize DPS and cool downs. Couple this with the ability to dodge we have an ARPG that's very much focused on the A part of ARPG.

Victor Vran has a lot going for it. It has great visuals and audio, a stream lined build system where it still allows for a great degree of customization, and an action focused, and very enjoyable combat. But since the game is in early access, all of it's current flaws lay with this fact. There's no narrative or a proper campaign currently, a lot of models, items, and mobs are reused, and the progression of the game is excruciatingly dragged out. I attribute all of these flaws to it being in early access. I feel the biggest flaw is the slow progression. I have over 7 hours pumped into Victor Vran and barely leveled above level 10. It almost feels like the developers artificially inflated the amount of gold and xp needed to progress in order to hide the lack of content the game current suffers from. It just doesn't feel rewarding and I stopped out of boredom.

Sure I have my complaints but almost all of them are tied into it being in early access. The fantastic combat and how polished every thing feels is my best indication that Victor Vran isn't a lost cause. In fact I highly recommend people to keep an eye on this one. I'm hoping that once it's fully released it'll be something really special. As mentioned before, the game has a lot going for it. The Combat and character build systems in place already are very strong and very enjoyable. The presentation is eye catching and polished, it just needs to be done. There simply just needs to be a lot more of these things.

Overall Victor Vran is an interesting ARPG that has a lot of promise, but in it's current state there simply just not enough of it. Keep an eye on this one.

- Polished Visuals and audio
- Fun combat and character build design
- Accessible and easy to get into

- Feels very incomplete
- Drawn out progression
- Lacks story or a proper campaign (currently)

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Victor Vran hours played: 7

Completion Status on Victor Vran: Incomplete

This copy of Victor Vran was given for review by the developers.