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Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen: Impressions

Dragon's Dogma's best features are two parts. First, it's combat, the second, it's pawn system. Both unique to Dragon's Dogma alone.

What drew me into the game was when I first scaled a giant monster and start swinging attacks at it's head while holding for dear life. Though you won't be doing this all the time, it certainly is a combat feature that stands out. When fighting smaller mobs, the combat plays out similar to games like Dark Souls or Monster Hunter. You'll be using the learned combat skills and spells that you've acquired to wreck havoc on enemies that stands in your way. These skills will drain your stamina bar, so managing regular attacks and special attacks will be key to your survival. The combat overall is very player skill based, but has all the pre-planning of equipment and skill management that people have come to love about RPGs.

The ally system, or "Pawn" system of the game is especially interesting. You create your own Pawn, it's appearance, and class, and you'll be able to level it up while setting up it's skills to compliment your desired party make up. The interesting part of this is, that Pawn you designed will be uploaded into the game's server and exported into other people's games. Other players will then hire it and will bring back treasures given to it back into your game, as well as knowledge of quests completed in other people's games. You of course, will also be able to hire other people's pawns into your game. This passive online feature helps create a connection to the greater world of Dragon's Dogma. It's one of the game's most unique features, and in my opinion, one of it's best.

As far as equipment, exploration and story is concerned it's pretty average to be honest. The stat and equipment is pretty run of the mill RPG, nothing you haven't seen before. The exploration, though vast in scale, is not nearly as interesting as exploring worlds in other games like Skyrim. The story of the game is pretty forgettable, and certainly was not an aspect that kept me playing.

The presentation of the game is acceptable. Keeping in mind, the game was originally released in 2012, the PC port being so late, it definitely shows some age. Compared to more contemporary AAA games, the game's low texture resolution, dated lighting, and lower polygon meshes become very apparent. It's not an ugly game, and still looks great, but it's age definitely shows.

Though there is much to love about the game but it's not perfect. The game suffers from a lot of rinse and repeat gameplay loops. So basically there's a lot of repetition and grinding involved. The traversing in the game seem to be inspired from RPGs of old, before quick travel, as quick traveling is something that is earned, and a valuable commodity, rather than a convenience feature that we've grown accustomed to from other open world RPGs. And as mentioned before, the story is very forgettable. Hell, I stopped paying attention to it altogether.

Overall, Dragon's Dogma is a great ARPG with a very enjoyable combat system, and an unique party system. Though it's other parts are a little mundane, this is a rare case where the sum of it's parts, is greater than it's whole.

- Excellent combat
- Climbing giant mobs is exhilarating
- Passive online "Pawn" system is well conceived
- Large overworld map
- Addictive gameplay loop

- Slightly dated graphics
- Large world relatively uninteresting to explore in detail
- Traversing can be grindy

► Review Created on Update: 18 January (last update date)
► Hours played: 25
► Completion Status: Incomplete
► This copy of Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen was purchased on Steam

Punch Club: Impressions (Career Tycoon, Simulator, Indie Game)

Punch Club is basically Boxing Tycoon, similar to Game Dev Tycoon. Except in Punch Club, there's a written story to follow, and an ending to the game.  Much like Game Dev Tycoon, you'll be micro managing a variety of skills until your the champ.

As a tycoon game, Punch Club has a variety of stats and meters to maintain. The most interesting ones being the combat stats of agility, strength, and endurance. What makes these interesting is the fact that they degrade over time, forcing the player to keep up their training routine in order to have their stats at a desired level. Your routine will usually consist of eating, sleeping, training, working, shopping, and fighting.

Building your character comes down to what kind of fighter you wish to be. A fast, and accurate jabber? A slow but heavy haymaker? Or purhapes a tanky turtler. It's best to chose one of the 3 conventional builds, as trying to be a jack of all trades will often lead to a failed character. The game's development system can be punishing. If you don't train properly, or don't pay attention to the skill tree, it'll be expensive to fix any errors, as every skill will cost more, the more you invest.

Combat plays out automatically, but allows the player to build a combat "deck" from skills attained through the skill tree. Between rounds the player can change up their skills as needed.

To say the least, the game certainly has a lot of depth for the player to dive into, but remains accessible enough, that even new comers to the genre could probably get a handle of pretty quickly.

The presentation of the game is detailed with well illustrated pixel art, and filled with nostalgia, referances, and easter eggs.

There's a lot to like about Punch Club, the retro aesthetics, the pop culture referances, the depth of the micro-managment, and it's addictive value, but the game is not perfect. I feel like the biggest flaw with the game is easily the repetition. Once you find a comfortable routine that works for you, you'll be sticking to it for the majority of the game, with only rare mini-quests to break up the action. The combat is also unskippable which gets annoying after a little while, especailly considering that the combat is completely automated. Why not give the player the option to skip the the end round results? Though I did find the micromanagment of the game addictive, it was also grindy and at times tedius.

Overall Punch Club is a well put togeather career tycoon game, that features great nostalgia, excellent presentation, and addictive gameplay, but can get tidius with a lot of repetition.

- Great aesthetics
- Addictive gameplay loop
- Multiple build possibiities

- Repetitive
- Skill tree mistakes are punishing

Punch Club on Steam:

Punch Club official web site:

Hours of Punch Club played: 7

Completion Status on Punch Club: Incomplete

This copy of Punch Club provided by the developers for review

Jamestown: Impressions (shoot'm up Indie Game)

Jamestown is a fast paced indie shmup that features tons to unlock and some pretty damn nice visuals.

In Jamestown you'll be able to select from a number of different ships to play as, and each one play pretty different from one another. Some will have homing missiles, others will have plasma beams, and all sorts of other special abilities. As far as mechanics is concerned it's pretty simple. You have your regular shoot button, then a special which you can charge for an alternate fire, you also have vault as a defensive skill to negate any immediate dangers and bullets, and that's about it! Shoot stuff, collect the coins, then buy stuff with the coins. It's not a hard game to get into but it is a hard one to master.

Jamestown: Impressions (shoot'm up, shmup, Indie Game, Gameplay, and Review) Relevant information and links below Jamestown is a shmup, or shoot'm up that features great pixel art, and an indie...

The game's pacing is great as well. Each level never over stay it's welcome, while offering varied difficulty challenges as you proceed through them. This is a good thing since you'll be going over the same levels more than once in order to unlock everything in the game. It is arguable that Jamestown recycles a lot of the same content, but the developers have introduced interesting ways to reuse older assets to further the variety the game has to offer. From arcade mode, to challenge modes, and even a gauntlet mode, and more to unlock later on.

The game's graphics and presentation is top-notch. The pixel art featured is of a high caliber, with great details and animation. The game's soundtrack compliments the game's excellent presentation and really hits home the atmosphere the game tries to get across. It's just a gorgeous looking and sounding game.

There's a lot to love about Jamestown, but it's not perfect. The biggest issue I drew from the game is it's white enemy bullets. Of all the colors in the color wheel, why on earth did the developers choose white as the color of what's arguably the most important element in a shmup? White blends into the background, it blends in when there are explosions, it blends in where the screen shake. White is just not the color the eye picks up on first. When you're talking about shmups, visual clarity is of the utmost importance. Shmup players don't watch their spirits or the bullets individually, they "feel" them like a 6th scent. Usually in other shmups enemy bullets are as clear as day, allowing the player to ultaize their peripheral vision to "feel" their way around the battlefield. Because the bullets are white, a dull, uncaptivating color, the player is forced to watch every single bullet while keeping a close eye on the character sprite, forcing the player to play with a focus on parts of the game that shouldn't be focused on. The focus should be on the on coming dangers, not the immediate danger. The white bullets is my only real complaint about Jamestown, but it is a major one considering the genre.

Overall Jamestown is an excellent shmup. It feels great, it has a great degree of variety, and the ships are very interestingly designed. It does suffer from visual clarity problems due to it's white enemy bullets, but if you can adjust, I have no doubt Jamestown will be a memorable experience.

- Fantastic pixel art
- Fantastic Soundtrack
- Great diversity in ships
- Lots to unlock
- Many different ways to play

- White enemy bullets... for a shmup... seriously what the hell were the devs thinking?
(Only one con, but this one is a biggie)

Hours of Jamestown played: 2.5

Completion Status on Jamestown: N/A

This copy of Jamestown was purchased

Zombie Vikings: Impressions

Zombie Vikings is a beat'm up similar to what you'll find in Castle Crashers. It features a fast paced combat with an interesting art style.

You have your choice of 4 (6 total with the DLCs) characters, and you can play upto 4 players at once locally. The characters play mostly the same, with their special attack being the aspect that separates them. You have your basic attack, when held it'll do a more powerful swing. The more you chain the more damage you'll do. You also have a block and a roll as defensive maneuvers, and of course you have your jump and jump attack as well. To help round things out, there is also a throw key, that allows you to carry and throw a variety of things, your allies, objects and enemies. The most interesting attack is the special key that each character's signature move. Like the regular attack, it has a quick press, and a hold variation. Each character's special varies quite a lot, from throwing groups of enemies, to a scorpion like arm harpoon that helps you continue your combo.

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Zombie Vikings: Impressions (Beat'm up, Indie Game, Gameplay, and Review) Relevant information and links below Zombie Vikings is a new beat'm up indie game by the same developers of Stick it to the...

The game plays very similar to the likes of Castle Crashers. You and possibly a group of your local friends will head out, button mashing and comboing your way through any give map. Throughout you'll encounter a variety of different enemies and boss battles. Most of the combat plays out as you expect from any given beat'm ups. Zombie Viking's combat does feel smooth, responsive, and quick, but it don't really do anything to move the genre forward, but it at least feels good. Because of the variety in maneuvers available, the game does feature some depth in mechanics to learn, however it's also not the hardest beat'm up I've ever played.

The art style and overall presentation of Zombie Vikings is superb. It features an interesting digital paint look, that's whimsical as it is comedic. The sound track, voice acting, and story also reflect this. As far as presentations are concerned, I don't have much to complain about.

Overall Zombie Vikings doesn't do much in the way of moving the genre of beat'm ups forward, but what it does do it does competently, and is overall an enjoyable experience.

- Great presentation
- Fast and responsive combat
- Interesting special moves
- Easy to get into

- Can be repetitive
- Doesn't do any thing overly original
- No online

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Hours of Zombie Vikings played: 2.5

Completion Status on Zombie Vikings: incomplete

This copy of  Zombie Vikings was given by the developer

Mushihimesama: Impressions (shoot'em up, shmup bullet hell)

Mushihimesama is an arcade classic Shmup (Shoot'em up) from 2004 by Cave Interactive, a studio well known for their bullet hell games.

Mushihimesama seem to live up to Cave Interactive's reputation, as it features some of the most bullet's I've seen on a a screen at once. Reflex based gameplay is the highlight here and your skill as a shump player will absolutely be tested. Having so much bullets on the screen the developers have done something very smart, and only a master of the genre could come up with. Make the character's hitbox smaller than the character model itself. The hit box is only about the size of the character's head. You may say "but that doesn't make sense, and would only confuse the player", but the reality is, in a good shmup, the player never looks directly at the character itself. Rather, the player will use his/her peripheral vision to track the character while paying attention to on coming dangers, almost like using a sixth scent. By designing the hitbox this way, it allows the peripheral vision to easily follow the character, while "feeling" their way around the bullets. It's simply brilliant and intuitive design on the part of the developers.

Aside from the hitbox design, the bullets are large, flashy, and purple and clear. There are no other purple elements in the game besides the bullets, which also adds to the excellent visual clarity of the game. The bullet's formations are also unique to Mushihimesama, beautiful at times, and most importantly, challenging and satisfying to bob and weave around.

While playing you'll also be be able to collect upgrades and bombs. Upgrades are pretty obvious, as they'll upgrade your offensive capabilities, but bombs are the real strategic element of the game. Not only incredibly powerful, but they'll also whip the screen of any on coming bullets, giving the player a short opportunity to breath, or to escape an unavoidable situation. Use the bombs sparingly and strategically and you'll rack up those point chains in no time

The game also features great music, audio, and for a 2004 game, it stands the test of time as far as visuals and presentation are concerned. Distinctly Japanese, and it's wonderful.

Mushihimesama also features multiple modes to play, from time attack, novice mode, and even arranged mode. Though they all play fairly similar, does offer enough variability for people who are really into the meta of the game to find intriguing and worth exploring.

So I've said plenty of praise for the game, and in my opinion, it deserves all of it, but what about the negatives? No game is perfect after all. Mushihimesama can be unstable at times. When it was originally launched, many people, including myself reported a crash on load. Luckily that's been patched out (mostly). I still experience crashes when I alt tab sometimes, but, they are very rare. The game also slows down when a lot of stuff is going on, and this is persistent no matter how amazing your PC is. The game can also be repetitive as well, since even with all the different game modes available it is the same content over and over again. You can finish the game first time through in about 20 minutes. Since the game is an arcade port, and in the arcade, the main punishment for failure is more quarters, that element doesn't translate as well when it's on PC. To be fair, Shumps are rarely about completing the game, and are made to be replayed. It's the points that matter when you're talking about the high end, and when you continue, it does reset your score to a degree. In the context of the genre, this is still a reasonable punishment for the player, though even with that said, does lose some of it's punch as a port outside of the arcade.

Overall Mushihimesama is a fantastic shmup and if you're a fan of the genre, I have no hesitation to recommend it. If you are a more casual gamer, who's simply curious to the game, $20 might be perceived as high for a lot of recycled content, but even with that said, that content is about as solid of a shmup can ever hope to achieve.

- Brilliant design on the character, the hitbox, and the bullets themselves
- Satisfying and at time gorgeous bullet patterns
- A fair amount of side content for the player to explore
- Hardcore shmup fans should have no problem falling in love with Mushihimesama

- A lot of recycled content
- Can be repetitive for more casual players
- Some technical limitations

Mushihimesama played: 4
Completion Status on Mushihimesama: Completed
This copy of The Mushihimesama was given by the developer

Fallout 4: Initial Impressions

We take an initial look and review our current experience to Bethesda's much anticipated Fallout 4. We'll be writing a full impression on the game when I have more time to play more of it

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Fallout 4 played: 4

Completion Status on Fallout 4: Incomplete

This copy of The Fallout 4 was purchased.

Brigador: Early Impressions

Brigador is a tactical isometric shooter where every thing in the environment is destructible. At the time of this review, the game is still incomplete but shows a lot of promise in it's well designed gameplay.

Brigador is a challenging game to say the least. A player's first inclination is to shoot everything in sight, but you'll quickly learn that strategy will get you killed pretty fast. Your ammo is limited, your HP don't regenerate, and the game features a perma-death system. With out careful planning and strategic thinking, you'll become scrap metal in an instant. The game has a high learning curve, and an equally high skill ceiling. The game makes no concession to casual players.

The goal of the game is to enter an enemy territory, shoot out 3 of their cannons, and then get the hell out of there. It sounds simpler than it actually is. In any given map, there will be tons of enemies swarming to blow you up if you're not careful, as well as environmental hazards. Gas pipes, oil stations, and other things can easily blow up in your face ending your run. Then there are mud, tracks, and sand that will slow you down. Though there are hazards, the environment is completely destructible, allowing you to make your own path to the goals, avoiding the dangerous main roads.

Before even starting your mission, you'll be able to pick your vehicle, weapons, and special abilities. there are 6 different vehicles that are variations of 3 different types, tank, mech, and hover. Tanks have good Armour and speed, while mechs can use a powerful stomp, and hovers can strife and are the quickest, but they're balanced with low armour and HP. They all have their own unique characteristics and stats, and the same can be said about the weapons and specials as well. The game offers a fair degree of customization and experimentation, allowing the player to tailor their ship to their play style.

Brigador also features detailed but visually clear sprites in an isometric environment. The aesthetics have a classic PC look to it, and it's one of my favorite elements of the game. The art is interesting, full of nuance, and does a good job at communicating it's overall theme and atmosphere of a dystopian future. The sound design is also quite pleasing, with an appropriately futuristic OST and sound effects that has impact. However, since the game is in early access, some sound effects aren't implemented and is distracting from what is an otherwise polished presentation.

There's a lot of stuff to like about the game, it's presentation, it's skill oriented gameplay, and the destructible environments, however in it's current state, the game does feel incomplete. Currently, there is only one mode to play, endless mode, nothing to unlock, no stat tracking, and no story mode. So basically, the game is bare bones feeling very very beta. Of course it's in early access and these things are to be expected, but it is something worth mentioning for any one expecting a complete game. Bragador does not feel complete. There is a lot of room to grow and I am excited to see where it goes. One feature I really would like to see added is some kind of multiplayer. But until the game is further updated / released, it doesn't give much incentive for the player to keep playing, other than it's core gameplay, and maybe experimenting with different combinations of weapons and ships.

Overall, Brigador is a very promising game, that in my opinion, has the potential to be a cult favorite. All the game need to do now is to fill itself out a little. Give the player a reason to come back regularly. We'll see how it'll turn out once it's a full release, but so far, so good.

- Great classical looking visuals
- Challenging and rewarding gameplay
- Destructible environments
- customization

- Missing sound assests
- limited game modes
- Feels incomplete

Brigador hours played: 3
Completion Status on Brigador: N/A
This copy of The Brigador was given by the developer