Dragon’s Dogma Review

How you’ll view a game like Dragon’s Dogma depends heavily on how you take a statement like, “This game starts to get really good once you put 50 hours into it!” Is suffering through that much staggeringly bland content a reasonable tradeoff for you? If so, Dragon’s Dogma might be up your alley. If you have any of the billion other games out there that have a more immediate payoff and value more than quantity in your games, however, it could very well end up being one of the worst RPGs you’ve ever played. I can see the value of both viewpoints, and wound up playing through the game three times despite a hatred of many of its systems that runs so deep that the only way to describe it is “biblical.” Like, Old Testament, fire-and-brimstone hatred. It doesn’t help any that it’s a game with a single-minded fixation on grinding. Grinding for levels. Grinding for better equipment and items to level up your current equipment. Grinding for money. Grinding for new combat moves. When it comes down to it, that grinding is really all this game ever is. Read more →

The Dark Eye: Demonicon Review

Something I didn’t notice until I was writing descriptions for the screenshots at the end of this review was just how much I wanted to call the main character “Geron” instead of his actual name, “Cairon.” I made that mistake several times, Geron of course being the main character of terrible adventure game The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav (which takes place in the same universe), and it became apparent just how similar both games are in how utterly unlikable they manage to be. Satinav sees Geron taking advantage of the naivety of his companion in order to use her to his own ends, whereas Demonicon is centered around a group of siblings of various relations who are suddenly thrust into a Highlander-esque series of confrontations with one another between bouts of incoherent dialogue. Oh, and the magic that necessitates fighting also causes these maybe-blood-siblings of Cairon to find him absolutely irresistible, leading to some truly stomach-churning moments. That’s to say nothing of the mechanics, which are equally appalling and prone to all kinds of glitches that can force you to restart from an earlier save, something that would be less of a problem if the game didn’t rely on autosaves as its sole saving mechanism. Put simply, Demonicon has almost no redeeming elements. Read more →

Life Is Strange Review

I don’t have a huge amount of experience with these types of episodic games, but Life Is Strange was made by the people who made Remember Me (probably one of my favorite games of 2013), so I knew I had to give it a shot. For months upon months I waited for it to be completed, dodging spoilers like some kind of internet ninja so that I could play through the whole thing in one go once all its episodes were released, and it was totally worth it. That’s not to say that everything turned out to be as incredible as I had heard, of course; when the early episodes released, I heard a lot about how even small things seemed to have consequences, right down to whether you water your plant or not. Now that the entire game is available, it’s apparent that the only actual consequences many of these things have are small dialogue changes that don’t end up mattering. However, unlike The Wolf Among Us, which annoyed me with its lies about reactivity, Life Is Strange does change a bit in the middle of the game depending on whether a certain character is alive or dead. It’s also completely devoid of QTE sections, and includes little touches like the need to occasionally piece together clues or sneak around someone in a stealth section. Even without all of that, though, the writing is more than enough to make this a must-play title. Read more →

Contrast Review

Long setups that never actually result in anything meaningful are a trademark of the artist who creates while having nothing to say; everything is designed so as to suggest a deeper meaning, but nothing ends up delivering on that promise as you’re led deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until things have become so complicated that any kind of sane-sounding explanation becomes impossible. That’s not to say that the end result is necessarily bad, but it’s most definitely not art despite the artist’s desperate attempts to make it so. This is Contrast in a nutshell, a game that spends several hours engrossing you in a time period filled not only with jazzy music and organized crime, but also two parallel worlds that are largely unaware of one another. While the latter is the more interesting element of the two, only the former lives up to its potential and makes the game worth recommending thanks to the dual worlds and the rules/purpose behind them being self-contradictory or otherwise left shrouded in mystery. Read more →

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

I bought Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons awhile ago, but was saving it for one of those occasional ruts I get into where I just can’t seem to find anything I like. It only made sense to save it for such an occasion because of the near-universal praise I’d seen for it. Imagine my surprise, then, when the first hour or so of the game left me underwhelmed. At one point, I even thought that this review would end up negative. My first impressions certainly weren’t positive; the first time I started the game, it opened in a small window and I realized that I couldn’t change the video options inside the actual game. Since Steam doesn’t create shortcuts to the actual game folder, I had to dig through files to find the game’s launcher so that I could change the resolution to 1920×1080. Then I noticed that there are no manual saves, with the game relying on a checkpoint save system. These are both positively archaic, and I stand by that statement even though the game won me over around halfway through the story. Read more →

Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

I really liked Red Faction: Armageddon, the fourth game in the Red Faction series, but it’s largely considered inferior to its predecessor, Red Faction: Guerrilla. I avoided Guerrilla for the longest time because it apparently had troubles with Games For Windows Live, which was only stripped out of the game at the end of 2014. After playing through it for the first time, however, I can’t help but wonder why it’s considered the superior game of the two; Armageddon had a sense of eeriness and progress as you pushed forward, whereas Guerrilla exists solely as a vanilla sandbox explosion simulator with a terrible story and terrible characters tacked on. That’s not even mentioning the low-gravity physics weirdness that makes the entire game feel like one of Mass Effect’s “Mako” sections. The only redeeming aspect of the game is the destructibility of the many buildings you come across, but sometimes they don’t even stay destroyed, and when they do, you never get the sense that they’re lived in or important so much as they exist solely to be shot at, making their destruction somewhat less fulfilling. Add on top of that the less creative arsenal—I seriously missed fun weapons like the magnet gun and many others from Armageddon—and it’s just a vastly inferior game. Read more →

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