Breath of Death VII Review

This review will probably come across as mostly negative, and yet despite all of my problems with Breath of Death VII I still find myself interested in the developer’s later games. I mean, the humor here is spot-on and avoids being too distracting or falling into the same “look at me I’m so edgy” trap that makes Doom & Destiny so painful to play through, and little things like the combat system being designed to be faster than in most jRPG games go a long way toward alleviating the hassles of grinding (which I only found necessary on one or two occasions) and random battles. The game is also mercifully short, which helps keep it from outlasting its welcome. Still, I found myself finding excuses to not play it because of how barren the world is and how tedious the areas are, and that’s not a very good sign. Read more →

Sparkle 2 Review

I don’t remember when or where I first found this game, or even when the idea of cashing in my “hardcore gamer cred” (which is totally a real thing) for lighthearted match-3 marble popping became something I was willing to do, but at some point in the past I stumbled on Sparkle 2 and fell head over heels for it. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a lot of my disdain for the mobile platform melted away as I played through it for the first time. There’s just something about the game’s music, simplicity, and difficulty curve that struck me as being superbly balanced and enjoyable, with the game constantly straddling that line between accessibility and challenge that so many other games seem to struggle with. What makes this so much more surprising is the fact that the first game sucked. It sucked a lot, in fact, and yet its sequel takes almost all of the same elements and builds something genuinely entertaining and worthwhile out of them. Read more →

Lost Horizon Review

Lost Horizon is a game that I agonized over for a long time before even buying, often looking up the game page and being tempted to buy it, but never actually pulling the trigger. For months the title randomly showed up in “recommended for you” emails from Amazon. It even went so far as to later show up in mobile form on an app store just to torment me further. Point-and-click games can go very right when done well, but they can also go terribly wrong and become unenjoyable slogs if the pieces don’t complement each other, and while the premise seemed interesting enough, the game’s relative obscurity struck me as a major red flag. After all, if it were the wonderful adventure it appeared to be, then surely it’d be more popular. Granted, that line of reasoning doesn’t hold up considering the many lesser-known games that I’ve enjoyed more than popular AAA titles, but doubt doesn’t have to be realistic to be effective. There was also the widely panned sequel that had to be factored in (because jumping into a series that resolves unsatisfactorily in later entries is never fun), a game that sold incredibly poorly if the internet’s near-complete absence of information on it is any indication. Eventually my curiosity snowballed, however, and I went into full “screw it” mode and bought the first game for PC on a whim. I often come to regret impulsive purchase decisions like that, but Lost Horizon is one of those rare gems that made me wish I had bought it even earlier. Read more →

Never Alone Review

I have no idea how much can actually be said of Never Alone because of how simple it is; at its core, it’s a simple platformer with clumsy controls that also happens to be an adaptation of a popular story from the Alaskan Iñupiat people. There are some minor obstacles here and there that could generously be considered puzzles, but the solutions are always so immediately obvious that I’d mostly just consider it a straight-up platformer rather than a puzzle-platformer. The game’s also astoundingly buggy and boring to play when its chase sequences and boss fights aren’t being actively annoying, which leads to hilarious moments where you end up having more fun watching the included mini-documentaries about the Iñupiat than actually playing through the game. I think that says it all, really. Read more →

Dragon’s Dogma Review

How you’ll view a game like Dragon’s Dogma depends heavily on how you take a statement like, “This game starts to get really good once you put 50 hours into it!” Is suffering through that much staggeringly bland content a reasonable tradeoff for you? If so, Dragon’s Dogma might be up your alley. If you have any of the billion other games out there that have a more immediate payoff and value more than quantity in your games, however, it could very well end up being one of the worst RPGs you’ve ever played. I can see the value of both viewpoints, and wound up playing through the game three times despite a hatred of many of its systems that runs so deep that the only way to describe it is “biblical.” Like, Old Testament, fire-and-brimstone hatred. It doesn’t help any that it’s a game with a single-minded fixation on grinding. Grinding for levels. Grinding for better equipment and items to level up your current equipment. Grinding for money. Grinding for new combat moves. When it comes down to it, that grinding is really all this game ever is. Read more →

The Dark Eye: Demonicon Review

Something I didn’t notice until I was writing descriptions for the screenshots at the end of this review was just how much I wanted to call the main character “Geron” instead of his actual name, “Cairon.” I made that mistake several times, Geron of course being the main character of terrible adventure game The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav (which takes place in the same universe), and it became apparent just how similar both games are in how utterly unlikable they manage to be. Satinav sees Geron taking advantage of the naivety of his companion in order to use her to his own ends, whereas Demonicon is centered around a group of siblings of various relations who are suddenly thrust into a Highlander-esque series of confrontations with one another between bouts of incoherent dialogue. Oh, and the magic that necessitates fighting also causes these maybe-blood-siblings of Cairon to find him absolutely irresistible, leading to some truly stomach-churning moments. That’s to say nothing of the mechanics, which are equally appalling and prone to all kinds of glitches that can force you to restart from an earlier save, something that would be less of a problem if the game didn’t rely on autosaves as its sole saving mechanism. Put simply, Demonicon has almost no redeeming elements. Read more →

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