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 →

Dragon’s Crown Review

The Playstation 3 is in an awkward place for me right now, lacking the decent screenshot capacity of the Playstation 4/Xbox One while being new enough that getting around that by emulating its games isn’t really an option. A Playstation 1 or 2 game is as simple as ripping a disc to the computer and playing through it, but PS3 games require setting up this big Frankenstein’s monster of wires that feed into my temperamental capture device. Needless to say, I’ve avoided covering a bunch of games for the system because of the hassle required. That hasn’t stopped me from slowly building up a backlog of PS3 games that I originally missed out on, though, and none of them were more tempting than Dragon’s Crown; a beat-em-up in the style of the arcade Dungeons & Dragons games, this game received rave reviews on release and everyone seemed to love it without reservations. Having now spent a bit over 40 hours with it (which is what it took to unlock all of the art and do everything there is to do outside of the randomized Labyrinth of Chaos levels), I can say that I definitely loved Dragon’s Crown at times, but most assuredly not without reservations. There are some things that I really like about this game, but there are also certain things that are downright annoying about it, and in some ways it’s actually surpassed by Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. 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 gameā€”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 →

The Surge Review

Souls and Souls-y games aren’t exactly my favorites; I managed to get through Bloodborne and enjoy it overall despite some pretty glaring missteps that the fan base’s love goggles tend to blind them to, but I’ve also never felt the desire to go back to Dark Souls and actually finish it. They’re just incredibly flawed games from a design perspective, lazily rehashing the same tired formula while stubbornly refusing to solve any of the problems that have persisted between entries. The Surge is a game that appeared to borrow the difficult combat from such games while departing from that formula, hence my interest in it, and while it eventually falls into lockstep with other such titles by doing the same basic things Souls games end up doing, there are enough interesting wrinkles and gameplay improvements here to make it worth a playthrough or two. That’s not to say that I have no reservations, though, and there are a few moments so poorly designed and thoroughly irritating that I considered moving on to something else. I suppose that speaks to it being a genuine Souls-y experience considering that was also my reaction to something as beloved as Bloodborne. Read more →

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