Torment: Tides of Numenera Review

When I first created this site, the very first review I put up was for Planescape: Torment. The review is horrible (all of the early ones are, really; it took awhile to figure things out), but that nevertheless speaks to how important the game was for me that I wanted to start out with it. Then there’s Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment in the same way Pillars of Eternity was a spiritual sequel to Baldur’s Gate and Wasteland 2 was a spiritual sequel to a bowl of old Jello that’d fallen on the pavement and subsequently been left in the sun by uninterested passersby. In some ways, comparing the two does a disservice to both because of how stark the differences often prove to be. In other ways, however, Tides of Numenera invites and embraces such comparisons by taking elements from Planescape: Torment in ways that are probably a little closer to plagiarism than inspiration. Even the flaws detractors will point to as each game’s Achilles’ heel are nearly identical, which is a nice way of saying that T:ToN’s combat is complete and utter garbage that makes even PS:T’s widely (and wrongly, I’d argue) maligned combat feel wonderful by way of comparison. Then there are the problems so unusual and rare that I can’t remember the last time they actually stood out and distracted me. The clinical/drab UI would definitely fall into this category. Let’s get this out of the way early—Torment: Tides of Numenera doesn’t live up to or supplant Planescape: Torment in any way, shape, or form. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a worthwhile game on its own, however, and even a simulacrum of something as justifiably venerated as PS:T feels like a welcome bulwark against the waves of mindless games that ask nothing of the player and offer nothing in return. This is a game for those who love lore and large chunks of flavor text so overwhelming that one could conceivably drown in them, and while that makes the game impenetrable to those mass-market gamers who require an easily digestible story and lots of visual pizzazz to enjoy a game, it also allows it to be incredibly rewarding and memorable for those willing to put in the time to read through it all. Read more →

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review

I picked this up having enjoyed the previous two Shantae games and wanting to start 2017’s reviews off on a positive note before the inevitable parade of mediocrity that typically has to be waded through before finding another genuinely good game. Apparently this was the result of a Kickstarter campaign from back in 2013, which means I was three years too late to get in on any of those backer rewards, but it’s kind of nice to be able to experience one of these games around the same time as everyone else instead of years and years after the fact. Now, reviews generally exist to answer the question of whether something is good or not, but the answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no in this case. In fact, if my notes are any indication, the answer is “yes, then kind of, then yes again, then no no no no why is this happening, then ehhh, then yes again,” which is a roundabout way of saying that the game is worth it overall despite having some pretty glaring issues. Read more →

King Arthur 2: Dead Legions (DLC) Review

The Dead Legions DLC’s store page describes it as “the chronicle of how the greatest adversary of King Arthur came into power.” If one takes that (as I did) to mean an adversary of the character King Arthur, it’s a lie. King Arthur doesn’t play a role in either the base game or DLC, and this supposed adversary doesn’t even get beaten by his son, main character William Pendragon. Instead, Willy P holds off his hordes of undead warriors while Morgana takes him on instead. If one takes “greatest adversary of King Arthur” to mean “the most difficult encounter of the game,” that’s slightly closer to the truth; I certainly found his fight to be the most difficult one up to that point in the game, putting aside the impossible-tier battles that keep you from straying too far off the story’s rails. Even then, though, he’s eventually outclassed by later such encounters. A better description for this game, then, would be: “the surprisingly interesting origin of a middling wannabe quickly swatted out of the way in the main campaign.” I totally understand why that’s not as marketable, but it’s accurate—while Septimus Sulla, who I’ll henceforth refer to as Silly Sully, is mostly just an annoyance thrown into the base game to have a middle-game antagonist, the DLC that covers what made him that way proves to be focused and enjoyable in a way that the base game simply isn’t. Read more →

King Arthur 2: The Role-Playing Wargame Review

It’s been 3 years and 8 months since I reviewed the abysmal King Arthur: Fallen Champions, and a month longer since I covered the surprisingly enjoyable King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame that Fallen Champions failed at being a sort-of-sequel to. To be honest, I’ve had King Arthur 2 for around the same amount of time (in fact, according to Steam I bought both of them on the same day) but put off playing it for a number of reasons. To start with, I didn’t pick up the Dead Legions prequel DLC until late 2015 and refused to get into the game without it being complete. Though I’ve yet to actually play through said DLC, the base game did a wonderful job of showing me what an incredibly dumb reason that was. By the time I had purchased the DLC, though, my memories of the previous two titles had faded and the mixed reception of the second game made it difficult to click on the little icon. King Arthur 2 must have been sitting on my desktop for 6 months before I finally decided to give it a try, and only then for the sake of being able to delete it from my hard drive in order to free up some space. As tends to be the case with the games I avoid for stupid reasons, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, and though there are some huge caveats that keep it from living up to its predecessor, King Arthur 2 is still a surprisingly enjoyable game. Read more →

Simon the Sorcerer Review

I hate this game with every fiber of my being. Sure, it looks good and has some top-tier sprite work. Sure, it has lots and lots of voice acting. Sure, there are dozens of items you have to combine in various ways to progress. It manages to screw all of these up in some way or another though. The good graphics seem to have put a focus on visuals that necessitates walking through many same-y areas, most of which have nothing you can interact with and that exist only to showcase more art and slow down the middle parts of the game to a painful crawl. The voice acting is grating, takes forever to get to the point, and tries so hard to be funny that it manages to instead come across as irritating to the point of becoming genuinely infuriating. The large number of items only exacerbates the puzzles’ tendency to rely on huge leaps of logic, sometimes veering so far away from anything approaching observable reality or even cartoon logic that the game more or less necessitates a walkthrough just to complete. I enjoy old games and adventure games and went in to this thing expecting the best, only to be faced with one of the least entertaining adventure games I’ve ever played, and anyone speaking positively about Simon the Sorcerer is drawing from nostalgia or brain damage. Read more →

Tyranny Review

Tyranny is a game that I almost enjoyed. Almost. It’s certainly fun to play, though the combat was a little rough toward the beginning as I figured things out and tried to get used to the weird UI. Once everything clicked, though, I was more or less hooked. There are plenty of choices to be made, with you being free to side with this faction or that faction and actively work for or against tons of different characters. It’s almost overwhelming (highlighted text reminding you of how you know everyone proves to be a surprisingly handy feature). That’s not to say that there are no issues, though—how dialogue options go over with characters sometimes feels entirely random, the later parts of the game railroad you quite a bit, the music is repetitive, the inventory is a mess because you’re constantly picking items up and making it a hassle to go through and sell everything later on, and the writing has an annoying habit of contrasting really creative imagery with dialogue that’s a little too contrived to come across as natural. I could forgive all of that if the game had an ending, but it doesn’t. It ends suddenly and without warning right when you expect some kind of climactic boss fight and revelation that ties up all of the lingering plot threads in one fell swoop. That doesn’t happen. Nothing is resolved unless you contort your thoughts to where you can accept that “yeah, the game was really only about this ridiculously small skirmish and totally not at all the larger conflict that was blatantly built up to throughout the entire game!” Read more →

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