Vikings: Wolves of Midgard Review

Vikings is the first game by Games Farm that I’ve actually played through, but I’ve owned Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition (alternatively known as Kult: Heretic Kingdoms) and its sequel, Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms, since early 2015. Shadows is a strange story, having been half-released at launch with the second half being promised to come for free to previous owners at some point later on. As such, I was waiting for the game to release fully so that I could run through both games in the series back to back. Then the game’s publisher went bankrupt. That’d be the end of the story for most games, but Games Farm unexpectedly went to bat for Shadows and got the rights so that they could continue developing it on the side while they also worked on Vikings: Wolves of Midgard. Obviously it’s best for this site and my deep, passionate love of harshly critiquing every game’s flaws to avoid being impressed by developer behavior, but we’re talking about the kind of rare post-launch support that’s previously only been seen from the likes of CD Projekt Red. Needless to say, I wanted this game to be good. Before you consider that a disclaimer that I’m going to play softball with Vikings and ignore its flaws, however, please note that I also wanted Dreamfall Chapters to be good. That didn’t stop me from viciously tearing into it, and Vikings certainly has flaws of its own that I’m similarly unwilling to overlook. Overall, Vikings is an enjoyable game with environments that are destructible enough to be weirdly satisfying and gameplay that’s entertaining enough to carry it (provided you have a gamepad), but it lacks any kind of narrative weight and begins to run out of ideas for varied boss fights toward the end. Read more →

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 →

I Am Setsuna Review

Chrono Trigger is easily one of my favorite games, not to mention a gateway drug that compelled me to get a Playstation 1 (for Chrono Cross, naturally) and subsequently discover all kinds of brilliant gems I had missed out on, so it piqued my interest when I Am Setsuna’s store page claimed to have been inspired by it. That’s a lofty claim, after all, especially in a world of endless Final Fantasy games where many jRPG developers seem to have lost track of what made their genre enjoyable in the first place. There have been occasional exceptions to that such as Chaos Rings 2 and other games that I similarly fell in love with, but Square-Enix pulled the plug on many Chaos Rings games not too long ago, effectively erasing them from existence outside of piracy. Giving money to something they published after that was a painful proposition. Still, curiosity outweighed my better judgment and I decided to give this game a try anyway. I’m glad I did—I Am Setsuna has its moments of being enjoyable—but the poor writing was enough to ruin the whole experience by the end and cause me to question why this game falls so short. Read more →

Dreamfall Chapters Review

It’s been almost four years since I played through The Longest Journey and Dreamfall back to back, and to say that I was looking forward to revisiting Stark and Arcadia and finally having my lingering questions answered would be a huge understatement; the original Dreamfall left a bunch of plot threads dangling when it released back in 2006, and 10 years later, Chapters is finally complete and in a position to answer the leftover questions. Unfortunately, this is easily one of the worst games I’ve ever had the misfortune of playing, and not only does it raise yet more questions that’ll remain unanswered for the foreseeable future, but the long-standing questions that do end up being addressed unmask this entire “Dreamfall” arc for the ridiculous, pretentious nonsense it is. This game is drowning in technobabble mixed with vague undercurrents of spiritualism, neither of which are ever given a solid basis for players to grasp the rules of the world like was possible in The Longest Journey. As a result, there are never any stakes, and the game ends with an absurd Final Fantasy XIII-esque intervention from someone you never get enough back story to understand the importance of in order to fulfill a prophecy that’s never revealed to you. It’s spectacle over substance, a bunch of flashy new graphics (which don’t even look good half of the time, yet manage to make the game run worse than much prettier games) covering up the fact that no one working on Chapters understands what made the previous games good. Read more →

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