Much like Pillars of Eternity, I went into Tyranny with almost no expectations. The early artwork I saw of it was depressingly bland, and that initial reaction was yet again proved wrong as the game ended up being surprisingly colorful and interesting. Arguably even more interesting than Pillars, in fact. That is, until the end. “End.” I’m sick of developers not finishing their stories, and having this game give you Fallout-esque “this is what happened to these places you intervened in” and cut to credits before anything has actually been resolved (and before you’ve managed to learn a single thing about the character around whom the entire game and game world revolves) is a giant middle finger that ruined all of the promise the rest of the game had. Locking story resolution behind sequels or DLC is the kind of scummy business practice that’s strangling the life out of this hobby, and for all of the entertainment Tyranny can provide, I can’t recommend something so blatantly unfinished. Especially since its incomplete nature seems to be deliberate rather than a problem of money or resources; numerous characters are in a position to reveal things to you, and simply don’t for increasingly contrived reasons. Read more →
As I’m writing this, it’s Halloween and the festivities have me thinking about all kinds of scary things. Ghouls. Goblins. Politics. Very scary stuff. Really, though, there are few things that inspire as much fear as the anti-tamper product Denuvo. The big bad gaming boogeyman. I won’t touch anything that uses it, personally, but rather than perpetuate the same lies I’ve seen paraded around about how it messes up SSDs and significantly impacts performance (which—let’s not kid ourselves—do seem to be lies and/or exaggerations), I thought it’d be more productive to talk about some of the deeper problems with Denuvo and some inherent problems with the gaming industry that it potentially exacerbates. Read more →
Before I rip into this game, some back story: when I was young and the only type of Game Boy that existed was the gray brick variety that took 4 AA batteries and colored everything in a greenish hue, I owned a copy of Donkey Kong Land and cherished it. Once, I spent so much time playing it that the batteries in my Game Boy literally exploded. That’s not hyperbole, either—there was a loud pop and then battery acid leaked everywhere. I still own the very same banana yellow cartridge, but sadly, the game itself isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as its bold coloring would suggest. Sometimes I’ll go back and play a game I used to love and find that it still holds up, but Donkey Kong Land can’t hold a candle to Donkey Kong Country, and despite its best attempts to replicate it, the whole experience ends up being more frustrating than anything. This is a game best left forgotten. Read more →
In less than a week, this site will be 4 years and 7 months old. That means a few things. First, it means that my “about” section is incredibly outdated. More relevantly to the topic at hand, it means that I’ve put out 280 reviews (of wildly varying quality!) in that time. That’s 4-5 reviews a month for close to a half-decade. Basically, I need a break. This is more of a hobby than anything, but trying to adhere to a self-imposed goal of that many reviews a month has made it feel more like work than play over time. Besides, I’ve started working on a game of my own. That’s right, terrible developers of the world! Once it’s done, you’ll be able to judge my terrible mechanics and writing! Except you, Lifeline developers. After unleashing that abortion upon the world, you never get to judge anything or anyone ever again. Oh, and same with Ragnar Tornquist. Dreamfall Chapters was like getting punched in the face with a book of bad fan fiction and having to actually pay money for it.
Anyway, the point is that I’m reducing the number of reviews I put out while I’m working on my game because I don’t have enough time to do both. Hard to say how many reviews I’ll end up sticking to, but 1-2 a month sounds reasonable. Maybe more once all the programming stuff is over (I can barely understand how this site works, much less the demonic matryoshka doll that is nested parentheses with math stuff in them) and all that’s left is working on the art and music.
First and foremost: screw the people behind this game for making tagging this game so hard. I always tag by half-decade (mostly because it’s entertaining to look back and see how games advance—or don’t—over those 5 years) and wanted to reflect the original releases of Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara, but Tower released in 1993 and Shadow came out in 1996. Adding the modern incarnation’s 2013 release date on top of that, I’d have had 3 different tags for when this thing came out. Messy, messy. As for the game itself, it’s one of the most enjoyable, infuriating games I’ve played in a long time. As per the title, it’s based on Dungeons & Dragons, but it does nothing to ease you into all the little details you need to know. For example, there’s no obvious way of knowing that the final boss in Tower is completely immune to most spells because it’s a lich, making the final boss fight a huge pain when playing as the magic-using elf or cleric. That’s just one of dozens of things about D&D and the game in general that I had to figure out using a combination of trial and error and the internet, but despite how soul-crushingly unfriendly the game manages to be, you eventually start to piece things together. Once you’ve begun to pick up on its oddities, Chronicles of Mystara becomes an incredibly fun and deep beat-em-up. Read more →
Side-scrolling beat-em-ups aren’t exactly my forte, nor do I have a wealth of knowledge about D&D (in fact, outside of what I picked up through the Baldur’s Gate games, I don’t know a single thing about it). That proved to be a bit of a handicap when playing through a game that stays loyal to its little eccentricities. “Why doesn’t magic work against this guy?” Because they’re apparently immune, and you’re just supposed to know that. That’s hardly the only thing this game leaves you to figure out on your own, either. Character-exclusive paths? Only know about them because I stumbled on a few myself and then looked them up. Sliding to quickly pick up dropped loot (basically necessary since you rarely have enough time after finishing off a boss to pick everything up normally)? Only know about it because I watched someone good at this game play through it. The so-called “ultimate spell” only existing in multiplayer despite hinting at it when playing solo and never making it sound like others are necessary to use it? Had to look it up, and I’m still irritated by that. For all of its annoying little problems, however, Chronicles of Mystara is a surprising amount of fun, even for a newcomer. Read more →