07 10 / 2013
*There are slight spoilers in this review, nothing too major though
The game is about the FBI agent Erica Reed, who has the ability of “Cognition” to see into the past. The story starts with her brother being taken by a serial killer that targets brother/sister pairs, and following to the killer’s location. You get the first taste of seeing the past here, and it’s certainly a great mechanic.
There are a few abilities to learn, and you discover them throughout the game with the help of Rose, a somewhat mysterious character I liked a lot.
I played the Steam version, and the first episode is really buggy, not exactly game breaking but it really breaks the immersion when every few minutes you see something like this - the common office bug (sometimes she’s completely invisible or sitting in the air facing the wall):
On the bugs in the first episode I have to say it took off a lot of points for me, having to sit through all that felt like a waste of time, and the first episode is a slow one. If you feel you have 5-6 extra hours to invest, you play this game, or else probably not, even to get to the juicy and much improved later chapters.
On art and soundtrack: The art is good, there’s cell shaded and 3D for the game play and 2D drawings and animation for cut-scenes Sometimes it’s a bit mismatching but overall the art is good and pretty realistic (and gory details are gory). The mismatching happens when they have 2D backgrounds or items you interact with, it’s just weird sometimes because your character is 3D and they’re holding/touching something that’s clearly 2D.
The soundtrack is not bad, the voice acting isn’t good in the first episode (as are a lot of things) but that improved later on. They have some licensed songs in it, and the suspense sounds are pretty atmospheric.
The story-writing itself is kind of mediocre, it does well on the suspense but it’s an emotional barren-land, I felt nothing for Erica’s brother and later on when her father is threatened. The main redeeming point is the character Cordelia, introduced later on, who also lost her brother to the same killer. The two, Erica and Cordelia, become the main characters of the story. The fail I see here is when experiencing Cordelia’s past I felt more connected to her and by extension her brother, than I ever did to Erica and her brother; which is more in the “main” story than Cordelia.
More on the story: The episodes are centered around several serial killer cases, which Erica either actively pursues or somehow gets involved. The end shows their connection together, while Erica constantly thinks about the pain of losing her brother and hatred for the killer (as I mentioned above, these emotions didn’t drag me in). For me, what was the best emotional hook was the dynamic between Erica and Cordelia, because you learn about their history together, while there never was much interaction between Erica and her brother and father.
All in all, it’s an enjoyable game, once you get through the first episode. I neither recommend it nor don’t, but I will say this: for a more grim-dark game The Cat Lady beats this by a mile, and for supernatural/detective games The Blackwell Series also is way more enjoyable, and both other games are shorter overall and even more emotionally and story-wise better.
Single most emotional scene in the game for me…
30 8 / 2013
Having recently played a few racing games, such as Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Burnout Paradise, this game struck me as the first one to try out of a list of free games.
The download was really fast, and upon launching I chose the configuration first. It seems there’s a function to detect my rig (this it did fine) and auto-set the video quality, but it gave me an error on the latter so I went ahead and opened the menu. There are a very decent amount of configuration options for the game, which is what I like to see.
(Click to enlarge picture if not shown)
I was using a controller, and it was fine navigating the menu, I started a solo game. The menu showed the keyboard mapping instead of a controller mapping, so that’s something they could add for players that are using a controller; but as you can see the controls are all very straightforward, it literally takes 3 seconds to pick up and play.
I tried 3 tracks, and while they’re interesting to play (though plain-looking) and acceptable for a free game, it just doesn’t hold up to the most boring maps in a cheap paid racing game. The mechanics are just drive fast and try not to overturn, at least for me as a non-experienced player, as opposed to many different mechanics in other racing games I’ve played.
One thing I definitely found interesting was the physics, while I’m used to cars that drive and feel substantial, the gravity in this game is rather low… bump into something at full speed, end up like a beetle rolling on the ground and need to respawn!
The game definitely makes use of this though, and I guess it’s one “mechanic” that has the tracks you’ll need to fly though the air and keep your balance while airborne, and land on another stretch, simply because your race car is so light! Below screenshot is one of those, there are more in higher difficulty tracks from what I’ve played.
Next is the multi player, you choose your region and it will suggest players or servers for you, and there were more servers than I’d expected, actually quite a lot of people playing. However a setback that I ran into was the “flying” sections, I’d turn the wrong direction in mid-air, and land somewhere that’s not where I was supposed to be… a.k.a. getting lost, and there’re no visible markers as to where I should go.
(Oops… now what??)
On some other general things: The sound effects are okay, they’re not lame but there isn’t a large variety either, I kept hearing the same thing but I’d expected that. The graphics were all right, as mentioned above they have a lot of options, but though I turned them to pretty high, it didn’t look much better from that.
The lifespan of the game I’d say is good if you’re into free games and free games only, but that’s not really the case for many people. The online could be fun in the same way that other free, simple online games are, but I wouldn’t say it had any more depth other than that.
All in all, it was a short amount of fun time for me, and good for some brainless play, since you don’t have to dodge flaming rockets and the like every 10 seconds :D
04 4 / 2013
Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this game, takes some time to get into and it was only during the last chapter that I found myself being more in control of hordes. If you have it play with some friends and it’ll be awesome. I admit I went into it with an “oh I’m playing an indie game” kind of cautiousness but I’m really glad to say I was really impressed by the graphics, music and gameplay. Only encountered bug happened when I was using the Santa DLC, but other than that everything was smooth from start to finish.
Graphics: Really good for any game of this price.
Music: Is really funky or rock ‘n roll depending on the setting and fits the game 100%, only wished they had a few more songs (just for the sake of wanting to hear more songs of the same style). Does not sound like some cheap soundtracks out there at all.
Gameplay: There’s friendly fire, but if you’ve played games like Aliens Swarm or some other top-down shooter with it you’ll know what to be careful, you just need to communicate with your co-op partner. I used Mumble the whole time, but the in-game voice chat seemed fine when I tested it. Personally I think the running/dodging is a bit slow, which is my own preference and didn’t affect my experience that much. Another thing is that it was really hard to control waves at first, which lead to me and my partner dying a lot but after playing to the second half of the campaign I learned how to kill them more easily with the gun that you start off with - pick them off one by one while emptying your bullets with them.
There are weapons you can pick up during every level - they drop in boxes scattered around the level and re-drop after a while, which is useful if you’re holding an area. There’s an interesting variety of them and you get an achievement for picking up all kinds at least once. Enemies are pretty varied too and I had a lot of fun with them.
Pleasing to the eye?: Yes
Music?: The soundtrack just screams good quality, not something like the ‘hastily tossed together’ type that some games, even ones with a higher price range, do. Personally I wish they had some more songs cause there’s never too much of good music!
Addictive or not?: I played through it in a few days, but playing with a friend is strongly recommended! It’s a game I’d be willing to play again, but never by myself.
Playtime: Around 5.5 hours for the campaign and there’s also some other modes with continued waves of monsters, etc. All in all pretty good length and provides solid entertainment.
24 3 / 2013
Proteus is one of those indie titles you can’t really get from just reading the store page description, though later on it turns out that it’s a pretty good depiction of what’s actually in the game. “Proteus is a game about exploration and immersion in a dream-like island world where the soundtrack to your play is created by your surrounding…" When I read the description I wasn’t sure if that was it or if I just wasn’t getting something. Why would anyone pay for walking around? Nevertheless it intrigued me and I bought it at 33% off.
In the menu there’s mouse sensitivity, screen res, invert Y-axis etc. (I was impressed because a lot of minimalist indie games like this don’t even have these kinds of settings).
After starting a new game, you appear in the sea next to an island. Controls are just walking with WASD, no running or anything. First thing you’ll notice is that the colors. A picture is better than words I can come up with.
The day doesn’t cycle in about 15 minutes default, so there’s plenty of time to explore. The music is really relaxing, and will depend on the things you walk pass, such as whether you’re on a mountain or not, or near some fauna, etc. The sights and music are also different between day and night cycles, so be sure to check that out. What I like to do is get up on the top of a mountain to watch the sunset, you look one way and there’s the sun, and the other way, the moon! It was one of the best moments in the game for me when I found that out.
Another thing I did was chasing rain clouds. Well, outrunning them. There’s fog, there’s rain… and yes you can’t see very well during those times but when you manage to get on a mountain again - it’s just pleasing to see those clouds, slowly floating underneath.
You can save your game by pressing f9, which creates a “postcard” that you can access from the main menu. You can also find the picture file in your folders by clicking on that option - they save the whole island in pixel form and next time you open it it re-generates the whole island at that point of time.
The first 30 minutes of playing, I was actually getting kind of tired. What’s the point of just walking around?? I was convinced I’d seen most of the island and well, heard most of the music. Now this is where most people get stuck it seems… but rest assured - there is a way to progress in this game, by triggering season changes. I won’t spoil it but here’s a clue - go onto a mountaintop when it’s nighttime and look around.
New seasons bring new music, new scenery, new visual effects, new palettes of color. I was really impressed the first time I triggered the season change, and there was just something in me that was like, needing to explore the island again. And get more out of it. And listen to everything. And so it was then that I fell in love with this “musical island generator”, in the words of one of my Steam friends.
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Pleasing to the eye?: Yes.
Music?: Fits very well in the gamescape.
Addictive?: There’s something about the islands that tempt you to explore them, and to generate one after another.
My playtime?: I managed to “beat” it in about 1 hour, but that didn’t mean anything to me at all. All it meant was that I’d just go generate another island.
I’d say if the words Musical Island Generator appeal to you, get it. If not, you can always try it while it’s on sale.
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10 3 / 2013