Simon the Sorcerer Review

I hate this game with every fiber of my being. Sure, it looks good and has some top-tier sprite work. Sure, it has lots and lots of voice acting. Sure, there are dozens of items you have to combine in various ways to progress. It manages to screw all of these up in some way or another though. The good graphics seem to have put a focus on visuals that necessitates walking through many same-y areas, most of which have nothing you can interact with and that exist only to showcase more art and slow down the middle parts of the game to a painful crawl. The voice acting is grating, takes forever to get to the point, and tries so hard to be funny that it manages to instead come across as irritating to the point of becoming genuinely infuriating. The large number of items only exacerbates the puzzles’ tendency to rely on huge leaps of logic, sometimes veering so far away from anything approaching observable reality or even cartoon logic that the game more or less necessitates a walkthrough just to complete. I enjoy old games and adventure games and went in to this thing expecting the best, only to be faced with one of the least entertaining adventure games I’ve ever played, and anyone speaking positively about Simon the Sorcerer is drawing from nostalgia or brain damage. Read more →

Tyranny Review

Tyranny is a game that I almost enjoyed. Almost. It’s certainly fun to play, though the combat was a little rough toward the beginning as I figured things out and tried to get used to the weird UI. Once everything clicked, though, I was more or less hooked. There are plenty of choices to be made, with you being free to side with this faction or that faction and actively work for or against tons of different characters. It’s almost overwhelming (highlighted text reminding you of how you know everyone proves to be a surprisingly handy feature). That’s not to say that there are no issues, though—how dialogue options go over with characters sometimes feels entirely random, the later parts of the game railroad you quite a bit, the music is repetitive, the inventory is a mess because you’re constantly picking items up and making it a hassle to go through and sell everything later on, and the writing has an annoying habit of contrasting really creative imagery with dialogue that’s a little too contrived to come across as natural. I could forgive all of that if the game had an ending, but it doesn’t. It ends suddenly and without warning right when you expect some kind of climactic boss fight and revelation that ties up all of the lingering plot threads in one fell swoop. That doesn’t happen. Nothing is resolved unless you contort your thoughts to where you can accept that “yeah, the game was really only about this ridiculously small skirmish and totally not at all the larger conflict that was blatantly built up to throughout the entire game!” Read more →

Tyranny Screenshots

Much like Pillars of Eternity, I went into Tyranny with almost no expectations. The early artwork I saw of it was depressingly bland, and that initial reaction was yet again proved wrong as the game ended up being surprisingly colorful and interesting. Arguably even more interesting than Pillars, in fact. That is, until the end. “End.” I’m sick of developers not finishing their stories, and having this game give you Fallout-esque “this is what happened to these places you intervened in” and cut to credits before anything has actually been resolved (and before you’ve managed to learn a single thing about the character around whom the entire game and game world revolves) is a giant middle finger that ruined all of the promise the rest of the game had. Locking story resolution behind sequels or DLC is the kind of scummy business practice that’s strangling the life out of this hobby, and for all of the entertainment Tyranny can provide, I can’t recommend something so blatantly unfinished. Especially since its incomplete nature seems to be deliberate rather than a problem of money or resources; numerous characters are in a position to reveal things to you, and simply don’t for increasingly contrived reasons. Read more →

Let’s talk about: Denuvo

As I’m writing this, it’s Halloween and the festivities have me thinking about all kinds of scary things. Ghouls. Goblins. Politics. Very scary stuff. Really, though, there are few things that inspire as much fear as the anti-tamper product Denuvo. The big bad gaming boogeyman. I won’t touch anything that uses it, personally, but rather than perpetuate the same lies I’ve seen paraded around about how it messes up SSDs and significantly impacts performance (which—let’s not kid ourselves—do seem to be lies and/or exaggerations), I thought it’d be more productive to talk about some of the deeper problems with Denuvo and some inherent problems with the gaming industry that it potentially exacerbates. Read more →

Donkey Kong Land Review

Before I rip into this game, some back story: when I was young and the only type of Game Boy that existed was the gray brick variety that took 4 AA batteries and colored everything in a greenish hue, I owned a copy of Donkey Kong Land and cherished it. Once, I spent so much time playing it that the batteries in my Game Boy literally exploded. That’s not hyperbole, either—there was a loud pop and then battery acid leaked everywhere. I still own the very same banana yellow cartridge, but sadly, the game itself isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as its bold coloring would suggest. Sometimes I’ll go back and play a game I used to love and find that it still holds up, but Donkey Kong Land can’t hold a candle to Donkey Kong Country, and despite its best attempts to replicate it, the whole experience ends up being more frustrating than anything. This is a game best left forgotten. Read more →

Time to, like, take it easy, dude

In less than a week, this site will be 4 years and 7 months old. That means a few things. First, it means that my “about” section is incredibly outdated. More relevantly to the topic at hand, it means that I’ve put out 280 reviews (of wildly varying quality!) in that time. That’s 4-5 reviews a month for close to a half-decade. Basically, I need a break. This is more of a hobby than anything, but trying to adhere to a self-imposed goal of that many reviews a month has made it feel more like work than play over time. Besides, I’ve started working on a game of my own. That’s right, terrible developers of the world! Once it’s done, you’ll be able to judge my terrible mechanics and writing! Except you, Lifeline developers. After unleashing that abortion upon the world, you never get to judge anything or anyone ever again. Oh, and same with Ragnar Tornquist. Dreamfall Chapters was like getting punched in the face with a book of bad fan fiction and having to actually pay money for it.

Anyway, the point is that I’m reducing the number of reviews I put out while I’m working on my game because I don’t have enough time to do both. Hard to say how many reviews I’ll end up sticking to, but 1-2 a month sounds reasonable. Maybe more once all the programming stuff is over (I can barely understand how this site works, much less the demonic matryoshka doll that is nested parentheses with math stuff in them) and all that’s left is working on the art and music.

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