Posts Tagged ‘game review’

Review: Citizens of Earth, Find a Fun Game –  Elsewhere!

Citizens-of-Earth-mainCitizens of Earth is gonna take an hour to download and install on my PS4 and while that might frustrate some people, it gives me a chance to gather my thoughts and think about the proposed game experience: What is this game going to be like? You gotta understand, I know extremely little about this game other than a passing comparison to the SNES title, Earthbound, a game I’ve downloaded on my Wii U but have yet to crack open. Sure I know the premise of the-oft-mentioned SNES gem, and sure there could be similarities, but given the game icon’s playful, almost retro looking image on my PS4 I’m hoping for more than an Earthbound clone. I’m hoping for ether a small novel charming world that’s easy to navigate and mentally map or a story so fascinating that it tumbles into X-COM like territory with conspiracies and secret government groups, but maybe done more playfully. I’m hoping that this game could be Charlie Brown and Snoopy meets X-COM. Yes, these two or three thoughts took an hour to form in your humble author’s head but thankfully the game’s ready and it’s time to play!

The title screen springs to life and I’m worried because it screams high-end iOS app and not console greatness. I don’t mean to belittle the efforts by the Atlus team and maybe they’re trying to appeal to the mobile audience with something that feels more casual but it doesn’t pull me in and hook me. The audio and music is quasi 16-bit too. It’s retro enough for the nostalgic vibe, yet polished enough for current gen – but it, like the title screen, is far from a compelling hook. And what’s with the various lines of dialogue – or rather single line of dialogue, “Citizens of Earth” being yelled or whispered at me from various characters? The acting is hard to judge because I haven’t even got past the main screen yet.

citizens-of-earth-1Past the opening screen, the visuals are funky, in a good way: Kind of fun but not to the point where I’m enamored with the layered 2D top down view. The biggest thing that throws is the animation, which feels close to Plants vs. Zombies, and over-tight controls. The two aspects don’t sync the way they should. I’m really glad this is an RPG and I’ll never have to do any kind of platforming magic because that might be a cruel kind of torture reserved for the world’s worst enemies. The story set up is fine. It’s a bit rushed but essentially, you’ll play as the Vice President of the World and the game starts on day two of that job.

Thirty minutes into the game, there a few things worth noting: I’ve got a least four or five side quests that are a little hard to keep organized. That’s a lot to throw at a player without even have a sense of what the BIG story, the “A” story, is for the game. All I know is that I’m the Vice President and there are protestors everywhere – these are your enemies. Speaking of enemies, the combat system is turn-based, which I actually love. They throw a lot of humor into this part of the game. For example, your Mother is part of citizens-of-earth-enemiesyour party as is your Brother. One of your Mom’s attacks is “Nag,” which lowers the enemy’s defense and deals damage. I am a little disappointed that you don’t get to use your player, the Vice President, in the combat situations. I guess the VP wouldn’t be involved such shenanigans, but it’s a disconnect that breaks the player from the main character and instead, despite choosing his actions and dialogue in other parts of the game, you’re forced to use other characters in combat. It’s weird – again, a disconnect. With regards to your party, it appears, through the game inventory screen, that you’ll encounter and party with up to 40 possible comrades, indicated by silhouetted boxes with question marks. I’m sure each will contribute something different and play on their stereotypical image or role in relation to your life. The Nerd will be smart; the Body Builder will be strong. You get the idea. I really just wish the humor was more pronounced and succinct. There’s a lot of funny stuff crammed into the combat system but it goes by so quickly that it’s hard to fully appreciate. Though, this being an RPG, I’m sure there will be several chances to appreciate it. Speaking of overplaying an element in a game that’s gonna be long, most of the dialogue is recorded and again, I’m not sure I love the acting. I read much faster than I can hear the performances and while, if I hunt through the options, I’m sure I can turn it off but I’d rather sort out the coffee conspiracy that’s occurring in town or get to the bottom of the mysterious submerged car in the lake instead of playing with options.

citizens-of-earth-2My love for RPG’s will definitely let me spend more time with this game but it falls far from fun and miles away from perfection out of the gate. I love what they’re trying to do here but the game concept is not big enough, simple enough, or appealing enough, in the right ways. Citizens of Earth wishes it could be South Park: Stick of Truth, another humorous RPG, but one built on a great brand, used in a great way, but also a game played things safe in terms of mechanics and requirements, in order to let the humor and brand take center stage. Citizens of Earth, to my knowledge doesn’t have the brand or following that South Park has, and thus it’s hard to connect and feel pulled in because the execution of all the key elements feels a bit rushed and lacking polish. If you’re making an unknown IP, grab my attention the second I engage with your product. Just do one thing really well and I can forgive other elements. Child of Light is I game that clutched my emotions from the first piece of art. Though I wasn’t always fond of the rhyming mechanic, the control and story more than made up for it. Shovel Knight nailed the retro vibe, and while their story was all parody and pastiche, the mechanics and nods to video game history made up for it. These are two examples of unknown IP games that did one thing extraordinary well to make up for other misgivings. Citizens of Earth will appeal to causal RPG fans, those looking from a break of the typical fantasy fueled offerings, but I don’t think it’s going to be deep enough, or get better, the longer you play it. Try this one if you can, because it might be your toxic cup of bold coffee, but chances are it’s just going to fill your gaming gap until something more polished crosses your plate.

***

Rob McCallum is an award-winning filmmaker and the director of “Nintendo Quest.” His work has been sienna Fox and MTV2 and covered by NBC, CBS, CTV, and CBC Radio. He has an unhealthy obsession with Ducktales, Masters of the Universe, and anything Jim Henson-related.

Disclaimer: This review was provided courtesy of a review code provided by Atlus.

Dying Light Global Launch Dates Confirmed

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 10.54.11 AMTechland announced today the updated global launch dates for Dying Light.  The game will have a worldwide digital release on PC of January 27, 2015. In North and South America, the digital release and physical copies for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be available at the same day.

In Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia, Dying Light will have a digital release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One of January 28, 2015.  Physical copies of the game will be released in these territories on February 27, 2015. Additionally all of the physical preordered versions will include two DLC packs, Cuisine & Cargo and Ultimate Survivor Bundle, free of charge.

Subsequently, the “Be the Zombie” multiplayer mode, where players take control of the Night Hunter and can invade others’ games, will be now be available for free on all platforms everywhere.

Dear gamers,

As you already know, today we detailed our launch timing for Dying Light. Although the changes affect only the release of boxed copies in certain territories, we want to show all of you our appreciation for your continued support. Thus, we’re really happy to announce that “Be the Zombie” will be available for free to everyone, on all platforms, in all territories.

We’ll also be giving away extra weapon dockets to everyone who pre-ordered Dying Light and signed up at Dockets.DyingLightGame.com.

We want to thank you for your patience and support in this matter and can’t wait for you to enjoy playing Dying Light and invading other players’ game in the “Be the Zombie” mode.

  • Dying Light Team

Check out the gameplay video below.

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The Walking Dead: 400 Days Game Review

walking_dead_400_days

Published by: Telltale Games
Available for: Android
Review is on: PC, PS3, XBox, iOS, PSVita, Fire HDX, Android, PS4, Xbox One and Ouya
Cost: Varies.  Episodes can be bought cheaper as a season pass or individually, which is priced higher.
Genre: Arcade

So this review is a little late in coming, but it’s still worth it. Before I started playing The Walking Dead Season 2, I wanted to make sure I finished up The Walking Dead: Season One, which meant playing through 400 Days. I had finished The Walking Dead: Season One a while back, but never got back into playing the final expansion and with three episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2 out, I figured now it was time to go back into the game.

In the spirit of TellTale Games, I will not be spoiling anything in the episode.

That being said, you don’t pick up where Season One Left off, at least not really.  This episode bridges the gap between Season 1 and Season 2. You follow the steps of 5 people centered around a gas station in Georgia covering a a short period of time during the first parts of the zombie outbreak.  The time varies depending on each character you play.  You get to chose who you play through each time, and you have to play as each one to finish the episode. It doesn’t seem to matter which order you pick, just pick one and go with it, but do remember, every action you take affects the way NPCs treat you in the game and will affect their ultimate decisions in the end.

the-walking-dead-screenshot-boardThat being said, you get to pick from Bonnie, Russell, Shel, Vince or Wyatt. As you play through and come back to the board where their pictures are, their picture disappears and you chose the next.

Each of these characters has a story and you will want to play this before you play Season 2 because at least one of these characters makes an appearance in Season 2 thus far.

Once you’ve made it through all the scenarios, you get to play as Tavia. As I can’t tell more from there as it would spoil the game, just remember, like the other five characters, Tavia’s choices will impact everything as well.

It is important to note, just as the choices you made in Season 1 carry over into this game, the choices you make in this game will carry over into Season 2.

That being said, let me give the quick statistical review of the game.

Gameplay: 9/10
With all of the Walking Dead Games, I’ve had issues with the controls, but I think it’s more of a “I wasn’t expecting to suddenly have to hit Q repeatedly and then E, or whatever else came up that I wasn’t anticipating. And as it’s a game on rails, even if you screw up and die, you get to try it over again and learn from your mistakes so you can finish the episode.

screenshot-eddieGraphics: 9/10
The graphics are what you expect from The Walking Dead games. They aren’t stunning, but they aren’t bad either. It gives you a bit of a comic book feel, which I suppose adds to the uniqueness of the game and it’s playstyle.

Sound: 9/10
As with most of the Telltale games, sound is a very important aspect of the game. The voice actors, music and ambient sounds set the tone of each scene and made it more realistic and immersive than most games.

Overall: 9/10
This is a really good additional episode which bridges Season 1 and Season 2. I thoroughly enjoy playing it and am planning on playing it through a second time and making different choices to see how it changes the outcome of things.

If you haven’t played The Walking Dead: Season One, The Walking Dead: 400 Days or the episodes that are out thus far for The Walking Dead: Season Two, I strongly encourage you to do so (and you may find them on sale during the Steam Summer Sale).

About Grace "Kayhynn" Snoke

Grace Snoke is a corporate journalist and author who enjoys gaming, reading, writing and jewelry making. Outside of her day job, she writes for a number of sites including: Video Game Scoreboard.com, Obsolete Gamer, SciTech Nerds and for a couple blogs and sites she owns. You can learn more about her adventures as an author here.

Mobile Game Review: Galaxy Run

1_TitleProduced by: Spiel Studios
Available on: iOS
Cost: $.99
Reviewed on: iPad
Genre: Action/Puzzle Runner
Released: Dec. 4, 2013

Mechanically, Galaxy Run is a simple enough game. The majority of the strategy comes from tapping the screen at the right time. But the folks at Spiel Studios have done a great job of taking that simple control scheme and pushing it to some impressive lengths.

Players control Rez, a space explorer who has crash-landed and is trying to run, jump, and dodge his way home. One tap will send Rez running, and a tap after he’s moving will make him jump. Things get more complex with the introduction of different items and power-ups. Early on players will encounter relatively simple items like moving platforms and double jumps. More advanced elements include speed boosters and gravity inverters. By the last level players are bouncing off trampolines, swinging from grappling hooks, and flying with jetpacks – all done with a simple one-touch control scheme.

2_StoryI was surprisingly impressed by some of the later levels, especially considering the fact that I was admittedly a bit underwhelmed with the first few stages. I should have recognized, though, that the early stages were simple for a reason – to teach new players the basic mechanics of the game. I underestimated how much Spiel would be able to mix up the simple control scheme and keep the gameplay fresh.

Still, while they certainly proved able to push the bounds of the gameplay, those limitations do still exist and they definitely make their presence felt over time. The game feels like it wants to be in league with Angry Birds in terms of simple-control iOS games, but unlike Angry Birds it seems like Galaxy Run levels tend to have one set correct sequence to win (though there are some exceptions). As a result, the strategy is less about devising a plan so much as perfecting your timing. This is fine in its own right, and I did still enjoy my playthrough, but it hurts the replay value significantly. The only real incentive to play the level again is to get more stars, but since the number of stars earned is based on the number of failed attempts it means that if you want those stars you pretty much have to quit the level and load it again every time you fail. Not exactly a huge incentive-booster.

02_Gameplay_Speedboard_ScreenshotGameplay: 6.5/10
The premise and execution on Galaxy Run are both simple enough to allow any skill level to enjoy the game. But while Spiel says the game is simple to learn but difficult to master, others may consider mastering it to be rather simple too. The main difficulty can come less from figuring out the answer to the puzzle and more from seemingly miniscule differences in timing that will determine success or failure.

Graphics: 6/10
Galaxy Run has relatively simple graphics that definitely do NOT push the limitations of the iPad. Still, the graphics are clear and easy to identify, and they are hardly BAD looking. Like the gameplay itself, the graphics are more utilitarian than impressive.

Sound: 5.5/10
The sound effects in Galaxy Run are your typical gaming fare. I did dock a point though for the game’s main theme song. I only took one year of music theory for fun, but I don’t have to know art to know what I like. And there’s just something about those opening chords every time I load the app that makes me grit my teeth a bit more each time.

09_Gameplay_Die_ScreenshotOverall: 7/10
Galaxy Run is an interesting specimen of a game. You may notice that each individual element has scored lower than the overall total. How can this be you ask? It’s because the game is a perfect example of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The graphics aren’t stellar, but they do their job well enough to support the gameplay. In turn, the gameplay isn’t groundbreaking, but it manages to surprise despite its limitations. In the end, the game knows what it is setting out to accomplish, and it accomplishes it well.

Review code provided by Spiel Studios’ PR Company.

You can view the official game trailer below.  Enjoy!

Mobile Game Review: Elixir: The League of Immortality

elixir-logoPublished By: g5 Games
Available On: iOS
Reviewed on: iPad
Genre: Puzzle/Adventure
Released: Dec. 5, 2013

Like other games from g5, Elixir is the iPad equivalent of a point-and-click adventure game. The basic game mechanics involve navigating and investigating a series of static scenes. Along the way, you must solve puzzles and overcome obstacles in order to make progress. From a technical standpoint this type of game is relatively simple, which makes it a popular choice for smaller studios. It also lends itself to more of a literary experience, with reliance on story and characters over action and competition.

That doesn’t mean that good presentation isn’t important, though, and for what it is Elixir stands out as a wonderful example of presentation done right. Right off the bat the game shows much better animation and video than its g5 peers, but honestly I can forgive a game with unimpressive graphics if the game works its mechanics well. Luckily Elixir doesn’t stop at pretty graphics and really explores the possibilities of the genre. One simple example (slight spoilers) is when a demon appears across the room and you have to pull your gun from your inventory to activate a shooting animation. It’s a small effect, but the moment of interactivity that breaks the norm definitely stands out in a good way, and it is only one of multiple instances of its kind.

elixir-2The best part is that there is actually a story. Far too many of these games just string together puzzles with the thinnest links that happen to be available. There’s less of a plot and more a collection of imagery that is more or less thematically related. Elixir, by contrast, has clear characters, a definite conflict, and a sensible path to the resolution. A big part of what makes this work is unfortunately part of what will inevitably turn some people off: The game uses are considerable amount of notes and journals and other forms of written clues scattered throughout the world. Sure, an occasional puzzle may be kind of silly – who seriously files their documents and labels them by icons of different activities that they do at different times of day? – but overall the game tells an admirably sensible story.

The only complaint I have that is big enough to warrant mentioning is the overabundance of I-Spy style hidden object minigames. All g5 games include these, and a few per game is fine. But Elixir throws them at you constantly. It wouldn’t be as bad except for the fact that the other puzzles are so good by comparison. It is a sizeable shift in mental gears to go from logical puzzle games to a screen with a list of items on the bottom, 1/3rd of which can be eliminated right away by just tapping randomly on the screen. Maybe the developers believed the lie that this is a “Hidden Objects” game, as it is labeled in the app store. But the truth is that the game is a point-and-click mystery game, and as long as it treats itself as such it does splendidly.

elixir-3Gameplay: 9/10
The trick with point-and-click adventure games is that in a functional sense the ‘gameplay’ is rather limited. Instead, the decisions made by the designers within those limitations become the real selling point. With that in mind, Elixir does it right. They have a clear, direct story with characters and motives and plot developments. They are all a bit clunky, to be fair, but considering the format they were being presented in I have seen much worse. Plus the puzzles are a great balance between too easy and too hard.

Graphics: 9.5/10
I’ve seen a number of these g5 games now, both the regular and the HD flavors. The graphics are never awe-inspiring, but they usually get the job done. Elixir’s graphics are in a similar class, but it’s the valedictorian of that class. The game uses more animation than its peers, and the animations are all much better looking too.

elixir-4Sound: 7/10
Like other games in this line, the sound in the game is pretty much irrelevant. The game has music and sound effects of course, but it’s more that they fill the obvious void that would be there without them than anything else. When the sound effects do come up they’re generally satisfying enough, but that is offset by the music being a bit on the monotonous and repetitive side.

Overall: 9/10
More games of this genre should be taking notes from Elixir. The game tells a good story the way the genre was meant to, and it does so with quality graphics and great puzzles. If you’re into the genre then this is a great choice.

You can view a trailer for this game below:

Review code for this game provided by G5 Entertainment.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Copyright 2012 Beazley Entertainment
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