Call of Juarez Gunslinger Review

Something like a week and a half ago, I picked up GameMaker Studio in a bundle. I only bring this up because I also started playing Call of Juarez Gunslinger around the same time. Take a guess which one had most of my attention this past week? There’s a very real reason this 5-ish hour game has taken me over a week to finish, and it has a lot to do with how thoroughly unengaging it is. Let’s run through just a few of the seemingly endless reasons behind that, shall we? Its writing is amateurish and the big twist is blindingly obvious less than halfway through the game, for one. Its gameplay is also awkward and full of invisible walls, with enemies running around unpredictably, seemingly free from the tyranny of physics much like enemies in the original Red Faction (but this game came out 12 years later and has no excuses). Then there are the insta-deaths. Fell into ankle-high water? Death! Bumped a wall while walking along the outside of a train? Death as the physics bounce you off the train! That’s not even mentioning the constant QTEs, or the fact that the game is so coated in high-contrast textures and a sharpening filter that can’t be turned off that actually seeing enemies—the most basic element of a shooter and one I’d never seen someone screw up before this point—is such a hassle that it becomes half the battle. Or how about the end-game section where you’re surrounded by enemies who randomly spawn in around you and shoot you in the back? Yeah. I’ve played a lot of games, and this is among the worst of them. Read more →

Fatal Labyrinth Review

Right off the bat, I want to make it perfectly clear that I have little to no experience with roguelikes. Fatal Labyrinth is basically an RPG crammed into a roguelike, so it’s entirely possible that someone who lives and breathes such games could find something to love here. As for me, I found it impressive just how quickly the game’s annoying luck-based gimmicks made playing feel like a chore. It’s a simple game, and I can definitely appreciate that, but there’s no payoff here. You struggle up 30 floors of annoying trap doors and identical items to finally reach the boss on the 31st, and then random stuff happens and the game ends. The story is practically nonexistent despite the very beginning and end of the game trying to capture some kind of epic fantasy vibe that ends up being little more than random gibberish. The gameplay is arguably even worse. I don’t know what I was expecting from a 1991 game in a genre I’m unfamiliar with, but this was definitely not an enjoyable game to play. But hey, it has floor sharks, so I guess that’s one thing in its favor. Read more →

Fatal Labyrinth Screenshots

It’s been a rough month where I’ve had a lot of trouble finding games that actually appeal to me. Ordinarily, I’d use the occasion to replay something I enjoyed in the past and haven’t yet reviewed, but something about Fatal Labyrinth pulled me in. It’s a weird little RPG/roguelike for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive with randomly-created levels, and the goal is basically to get to level 31 of the tower and kill the dragon there. It’s also a fan of using cheap tricks to artificially extend your play time. Trap doors? Check. Sleeping spells that allow enemies to mob you? Check. An enemy spell that randomizes your directional buttons each movement, sending you helplessly in circles until the spell effect wears off? Check. It’s dumb. Games that screw the player over randomly like this are dumb and should be hated. Read more →

Cthulhu Saves the World Review

It’s depressing the number of times I’ve covered the first game in a series, only to then leave the sequel (or unrelated followup in Cthulhu Saves the World’s case) untouched. Call it a bad habit. In my defense, though, it’s only been 4 months since I reviewed Breath of Death VII. That’s quite a bit more defensible than the 3 and a half years it’s been since I reviewed King Arthur: The Role-Playing RPG and its spinoff despite owning the sequel for even longer than that. I think part of the problem is one of expectations; it’s easy for a sequel to play things safe and end up feeling like the same game, just like it’s easy for a game to diverge so much from its predecessor that it fails to embrace the things that made the first game worthwhile in the first place. The latter is what’s seen Lost Horizon 2 sit idly on my desktop for the past few months, while the former is why I had to force myself to jump into Cthulhu Saves the World—I was expecting more of the same, and while I was pleasantly surprised by the number of things that were improved on since the previous game, the biggest problems remain unchanged and render a sizable portion of the game a tedious slog through yet more mazes. Read more →

Cthulhu Saves the World Screenshots

The sort-of-sequel and companion to Breath of Death VII, Cthulhu Saves the World is a game that improves on its predecessor in several areas like art direction and text variation (no more identical gravestones!), but sports the same basic problems that made the previous game start to feel like a slog. The mazes in particular are still an issue here, and while they’re set up to be a little more intuitive with one or two glaring exceptions, areas are now so long that the end result ends up being the same. It gets very exhausting very fast, and doubly so if you have the same completionist urges that compelled me to play the Cthulhu’s Angels alternate game mode immediately after finishing the main game. It has an altered story, two new characters, and some different boss fights, but none of that does much to sugarcoat the fact that it sends you through the same mazes all over again. The humor here is arguably improved (depending on how much you like/dislike the previous game’s more referential humor and Cthulhu moving away from that to something more meta), but there’s a lot of really tiring gameplay between bits of dialogue. Read more →

Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader Review

I typically aim for 4 reviews per month, so when I recently hit that mark earlier than usual, I decided to use the extra time to jump into something a bit more expansive that would likely take longer than a week to play through. Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader had been sitting around on my desktop for 8 months, so it seemed like the perfect game for the occasion; a cRPG that user reviews claimed devolves into more of an aRPG later on, I pictured it being something like an Arcanum that eventually turns into more of a Sacred. That didn’t quite end up being the case. Instead, its flaws were apparent from the very beginning and only became worse the further I played. The beginning city that I saw constantly praised? Depressingly bland, it turns out, with a long sewer section on top. To be fair, Lionheart’s cRPG elements didn’t disappear from the game, though its primary focus is definitely on soulless dungeon-crawling instead of reactivity. Add in some terrible design decisions, unclear mechanics, suicidal companions, and terribly uninteresting writing, and you have a recipe for a game best left forgotten. Read more →

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