Nidhogg 2 Review

The first Nidhogg is a game that I didn’t get around to playing until I had already beaten Nidhogg 2, which means that I got to judge it entirely on its own merits in addition to later being able to compare the two. I was surprised by how much I liked Nidhogg 2 despite it being the polar opposite of what I typically look for in a game—this is primarily a party game designed for multiplayer first and foremost, though the single-player has been fleshed out a bit from the first entry to make for a more robust experience. Still, games are my preferred method of avoiding people, and my view of games like this is generally that they exist as bait for the kind of Youtubers whose video thumbnails consist of them making a ridiculous face, so it’s saying something that I found myself holding my controller in a white knuckle grip and getting mad at little pixel art cartoon guys. Read more →

Pyre Mini-review

It’s probably best to start this off by explaining that I make a serious attempt to finish every game I start, but always give myself the option of quitting anything purchased with my own money (games I’ve received a key for naturally get a bit more effort because of the expectations behind them, but even they aren’t entirely immune). That this is an option I’ve only exercised a small handful of times out of the 300+ reviews up on this site speaks to the grating nature of the few left unfinished, and Pyre definitely deserves its place in that ignominious pile; while other critics may drool over this game for their own subjective reasons, my experience with it is one of constant irritation over its confused design. Every potential positive is overwhelmed by an accompanying negative, such as how the more elaborate and explained story compared to previous games ends up wasting a ton of time with meaningless trash-tier conversations that accomplish nothing. There are supposedly multiple endings and story branches, and yet the gameplay loop that gets you there is painfully simple and underwhelming, the kind of thing that became almost unbearably repetitive even in the few hours I spent with the game. The combat “rites” that play out like an e-sport are a lot like a short game of NBA Jam, but rules and limitations are sprung on you in the middle of games, and story happenings greatly limit your agency as far as who you choose to use and how their stats end up being impacted by the arbitrary decision of which area to travel through. Pyre is a (Super)giant waste of time, energy, and money featuring gameplay so irrevocably interwoven into trends of its time that history is unlikely to treat it as kindly as Bastion and Transistor. Read more →

Valkyria Revolution Review

It would be easy to call Valkyria Revolution a bad game when compared to Valkyria Chronicles and hedge my bets to allow any criticism to appear as simple bitterness over the two games’ many differences, but the simple fact is that Revolution is an abysmal game even when taken entirely on its own. It begins with an interesting premise, but squanders it almost immediately in order to instead waste your time with a slog through painfully contrived drama and overlong cutscenes featuring an inexplicably magical princess whose generic saccharine goodness inspires everyone despite her actual words being groan-inducingly trite. This is a game where the Valkyria that the series is named after is a token character whose back story is hinted at, but never actually delved into beyond awkward parallels with outside mythology that don’t really work. This is a game where the mechanics are so comically random and unreliable that even something as basic as attacks hitting the enemy can’t be taken for granted. This is a game where a solid 90% of the stuff that happens is meaningless filler designed to waste your time. Valkyria Revolution is a game lacking any semblance of entertainment value, an abject failure that should have never been allowed to happen. This isn’t just a bad game when compared to the rest of the series, but a game so wholly inept and loathsome that the other games would have simply never been made if it had come out first. Read more →

Art Of Gravity Review

Puzzle games are always a bit difficult to write about; since they’re focused more on mechanics than story, half of the stuff that I tend to focus on in my reviews is immediately off the table. Art Of Gravity makes things even more difficult because a lot of what I wrote about the developer’s previous game Zenge remains true here. You still pick up on the gameplay mechanics through clever level design that teaches you through doing rather than forcing you to go through a bunch of dry tutorials. There are still numerous mechanics gradually introduced and elaborated on at a decent pace. This game also costs a dollar. Of course, Art Of Gravity has its own unique mechanics unlike those in Zenge, and the goal of each level is also different in that it’s more of a physics puzzle where the goal is to shoot spheres at blocks in such a way that all of the level’s blocks are destroyed (I think this is what I like so much about this game—it speaks to both my love of puzzles and my love of wanton destruction). I suppose one obvious difference between the two games is that I played this one on a PC rather than on my phone; whereas Zenge had an Android version that I picked up, Art Of Gravity is iDevice-exclusive on mobile, and my old iPhone 4 falls well below the iPhone 5S or better requirement needed to actually run the game. Read more →

Drifting Lands Review

Drifting Lands was almost one of the few games I’ve given up on before the end, and that’s really only because I ended up hitting a brick wall of difficulty that no possible skill loadout could help me past. See, this is a game that claims on its store page to be “first and foremost an action-RPG” with a Gradius-style 2D space shooter on top of that. I’m great at the former and terrible at the latter, so it stood to reason that my aRPG skills would suffice to reach the end of this game. Calling itself an aRPG first and foremost is incredibly misleading, however, because you absolutely need a certain amount of skill at bullet hell-style shooters to get past some of the insane difficulty spikes that unexpectedly crop up. One minute I was steamrolling my way through levels on the first try with a few boss-type exceptions that required a bit more effort, and then an annoying earlier boss was suddenly doubled up and the entire screen was awash in bullets that most of my paltry skills were helpless to do anything about. The few that helped had cooldown timers that ensured that I was stuck without them for the majority of the fight on each of my ~30-40 attempts, each preceded by the same 5-minute level. It was only when I opened up Cheat Engine and slowed down the game to 20% of its original speed that I was finally able to dodge enough to get through (and even then, only barely) and continue playing all the way to the end of the story, but by that point my opinion of the game had soured somewhat and the moments of fun that had been so plentiful instead became intermittent glimmers punctuating numerous frustrations. Read more →

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia suffers from an identity crisis in almost everything it does. For example, one early dialogue exchange sees an enemy drop a surprisingly crude word apropos of nothing, and then the game subsequently wastes ~25 hours holding your hand through a comically absurd story driven entirely by the brain damaged stupidity of both lead characters. Fire Emblem Gaiden’s story has been fleshed out to a certain degree for this remake, but only the inconsequential bits seem to have received this treatment, leaving the lore at roughly the same level as the original. The end result is that the bare-bones prophecies and plot developments force relatively complex characters to act in incredibly simple-minded ways at times, flitting between being legitimate leading characters and idiots so infuriatingly dull and shortsighted that it’s a wonder they can remember to breathe. I desperately want to give this game a pass for all of its many flaws because of my long-running love for Fire Emblem and the amount of time I legitimately had fun with it (unlike the flaming trash heaps that are Fates and Heroes), but you don’t get extra points for being better than the absolute worst, and the sad truth is that this just isn’t a good enough end product. Read more →

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