Reactions: Godus

Godus is a Kickstarter success story designed by Peter Molyneux and toted to be the spiritual successor to Populous. One certainly gets the feeling when you get into the game. In short, it’s a god game where you manipulate the terrain in order to create surfaces of appropriate size for you people to build houses. In the beginning, sculpting the land is a royal pain-in-the-ass. It’s not so much as choosing to raise or lower the terrain as the original Populous games. Terrain is now comprised of several layers which must be individually manipulated and quite frequently, you’ll grab the wrong one. You do have a method of adding terrain or getting rid of it by double right-clicking or left, but this can affect an area larger than what you’ve intended. Also, making stairs in the terrain for your people to travel to higher areas can be a right pain. As you advance in the game, you’ll be able to sculpt cliffs and manipulate multiple layers of terrain at once. This is slow and suffers the same problems in that you’ll make mistakes.

In the early stages of the game, your useable map is limited. You must find expansion shrines for your followers to pray, or meet certain population goals which will sometimes reward you with a land expansion card. You dig up resources which are needed for various civilisation advancements, gradually progressing through the ages. These advancements will unlock larger houses for your people, the ability to mine, and eventually farm. In many ways, this really is a lot like populous, but with more annoying terrain manipulation and a tech tree.

Camera control is terrible. I’m just gonna throw that in right now. You can rotate your view to get a better angle on something, but should you need to alter the position of the camera after that, finding what you want to look at too far away, your camera will automatically reset to the default view. It can get very irritating. Especially when doing a challenge. When it’s a race against time to complete a goal, the last thing you want to be doing is fighting against controls the AI is unhindered by.

And speaking of further hindrances, let’s talk about belief. Belief is your currency which you spend to manipulate terrain and use your god powers. Every house generates belief in real-time. That’s right, -real- time. The smaller houses generate in minutes and the larger ones in hours. Building also happens in real-time with level 6 abodes taking 12 hours. This isn’t something felt in the early game. You’ll spend so many hours working on terrain, the time just flies by. However, once you’ve hit the stage where I’m at and dealing with farming, you’ll want all those hours back.

There is an option, should you not want to wait out the hours to earn belief, have a house built, or a shrine activated. You can spend premium currency. There are gems you can mine or win from AI multiplayer challenges to speed up things as well as buy resource cards. There’s not in-game premium shop to buy more gems, but I expect it’s coming. And if you’re liking this game and wanting to play it, I suggest you save all your gems for settlements. Towns are the only things capable of creating farms and your only way to advance your civilisation later one. Your first few cost belief, but then they’ll take 70 gems a pop. If you don’t have a lot of settlements, you will have your advancement crawl to unbearable days. This is where we see where the pay wall will be.

Of course, the slow farming is just the one method which will be used to earn our money when the pay shop gets implemented. You’ve run out of land, run out of resources to dig up, and the only way to get more are AI challenges. … or spend gems to buy them. I don’t know if you earn resource cards in multiplayer battles. That is an area I did not venture.

I want to like this game, but I can’t. I am livid that I contributed to a game that is destined to be pay-to-win. I should have seen that coming with real-time progress timers. It’s clearly targeting all your mobile and filthbook game addicts. It saddens me. I’ve wanted a new Populous for a long time, which is why I jumped all over this. As time progresses and the beta gets updated, it moves further and further away from what I wanted and expected to get. That’s just wrong and I feel cheated.

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Reactions: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Starbreeze Studios and Swedish film director, Josef Fares made this little game where you must simultaneously control two brothers on a quest to find and bring back the Water of Life for their ailing father. From the prologue, you learn they had already lost their mother to drowning, so the tone of the game is meant to be grim. I say meant due to the fact that it just isn’t delivered well enough to care; they just don’t give you enough and even the end lacks a certain punch.

All of that aside, I still enjoyed the game. I was afraid it would be too demanding and the controls making things in frustratingly hard, but that wasn’t the case at all. I never had any trouble with any of the tasks you’re presented with. Most of the game contains super-easy puzzles and some platforming and climbing. There are some side-puzzles, also, which the trophies are tied to.

My favorite moments were exploring the frozen area in the boat, flying the glider, and climbing that beautiful tree of life. Riding the goats was fun and ripping the legs off the spider-bitch was gratifying as well, but not really awesome moments.

The high point of the game are the visuals. They’re gorgeous. The colors are vibrant, the environments interesting, and the creatures are well designed. I spent more time in awe of the scenery than caring about anything else.

It is a short game which took me, I think, 7 hours to complete and puzzle out the trophies. It was a nice chaser to those 100+ hours spent on Xillia. It’s this month’s PS+ freebie, so check it out if you’re interested. It’s a pretty.

The music is another high point for me. It accompanied the visuals rather well, but regardless how beautiful, it did nothing to improve my lack of empathy. Every emotional moment had no impact on me. Even the side puzzle with the man trying to hang himself after losing his wife and child in a fire had no impact. After giving him a music box, you give him a reason live and he buries his lost family. That’s sad, it really is however, I didn’t care. There’s just so much missing; you don’t get a full enough picture.

I still rate this game rather highly despite its emotional failings. It is one of those rare instances where I grade it mostly on artistic level with less weight upon story. I’m not disappointed by this failing and it really didn’t impact my enjoyment of the game. In retrospect, though, it would have been nice.

Reactions: Tales of Xillia

My strange RPG-fest continues through my foot healings with this title. I’ve spent the most time with this game than the others I have played and it was more-or-less enjoyable. I have some qualms about the mechanics of the game such as character development (leveling up) and combat. Choice, like many of these systems, amounts to an illusion, for on normal, things are really easy and you can get through battle just mashing buttons. Switching to hard forced the use of strategy and I found myself becoming more engrossed in the combat and being mindful of my enemies and what effective combos to use against them. It made things more enjoyable, but I still left leveling up to auto. I still didn’t give a shit and the game could have easily handled the standard you-get-this-crap each time you level, rather than the point buy unlocking system. I really dislike them. They usually only amount to anything late game and by that point, you’ve mostly got everything unlocked anyway, so why even bother? I can understand if it is one of those systems where it is impossible to unlock everything when you hit level cap and I respect those systems more as the choices should matter more. These are the same systems where you can easily eff yourself over late-game when you realise you messed up. If there’s no way to respec, well, that really sucks if you can’t pull a win from your mistakes.

I liked the setting and story well enough. There’s a lot of background chatter and special cut-scenes (they call them skits in the game) that make everything feel more real and immersive than the usual light-plotted one that only give you story when you complete story quests with side-quests just being these orbital wastes of time to make the game seem longer. Things were interconnected nicely enough and the personalities of your party and their growth throughout the game were done fairly well. As another positive, it had good english voice-acting. Well, except for Milla. I’m still on the fence with her inconsistent Data-like responses to everything. It sounds like she tries to do the unemotional responses, but then you have ones where she is emotional and it just confuses me. It’s probably bad acting.

NG+ isn’t really necessary, however. Jude’s story gives you the most complete experience with Milla’s just filling in what happens when the party is split, so aside from the moments where you’re killing time and must hunt down your party to talk to them, the only other stuff are a  little bit in the beginning regarding the research centre, being captured and taken to Fort Gondala, a little bit when Milla is healing up in Laronde, after the events with Gilland where you’re dumped near Kanbalar and reunite at the temple, and then a huge chunk after dealing with the lance and Exodus. The extra little scenes aren’t worthwhile at all, and the Fort Gondala imprisonment and what went on with her in the spirit world before the Maxwell fight could have easily been incorporated into Jude’s quest. Easily. There’s just not enough to justify a second character’s quest, and since you can choose which character you want to run around with within the game, what does it matter? I choose Elize as my leader because she’s just too adorable.

Another point, is if you earned enough grade to gain the XP boosts, you can just sail through the story within a day, or so, so this has even less of an appeal for me. Why did I bother? At the end of the game, it just nets you one additional anime scene following the credits that shows you Milla and you get her spirit clothes and hairstyle plus an arte for her and Jude.  For the extra twelvish hours it took to run through the campaign for a second time, it wasn’t worth it. It really wasn’t.

The bonus dungeon I found rather disappointing. it’s not really a new dungeon, but reused areas. You travel through areas you’ve been before, each “room” being somewhere you’ve been before. After so many of them, you get to a shop, save, and exit room where you can restock on everything but items, save, and exit the dungeon if you need to. After you’ve passed through so many of these, you reach the colloseum where you fight the big bad boss. Beating him unlocks the full power of the devil arms, which grow in strength with the foes you kill. You can keep farming that dungeon for high valued resources to upgrade your shops and level grind if you really, really want to. Each time you defeat the boss, the amount of areas you have to traverse increases. It’s also kinda lame that you’re essentially fighting versions of your own party. Not very unique or interesting. It was a challenge on hard and it was the most challenging fight in the entire game. I did notice each time I defeated him, he seemed to be more powerful.

Overall, I enjoyed the game. The story is what wins it for me over everything else, as well as the setting. The action-based beat-em-up combat made it feel less grindy and I enjoyed planning out combos. Being able to change artes and equipment on-the-fly during battle really helps.

So, what now? Well, I’m going to kill the Golden Knight once more for old times sake and move on to another adventure.

Contrast Reactions

Platform: PS4
Developer: Compulsion Games
Release: November 2013

Like many others after unboxing and hooking up their shiney new PS4, they snagged every PS+ deal they could because whatever they bought with it, probably isn’t enough. For me, it also provide the illusion that there’s more stuff actually out worth playing that isn’t a shooter.

Getting to it, Contrast is an interesting action-adventure game with an intriguing story I don’t wish to spoil, needless to say, you are an interesting girl with strange shadow powers and must shift into the shadows around you in order to complete platform-based puzzles. These puzzles are interesting, they often involve the manipulation of real-world items in order to change the shadows cast so you can progress towards a goal. I find the concept a nice change on the usual action-platform puzzle mold. It’s also very cool to see.

Trouble starts when you actually start playing the game. Several times I fell through the terrain, got stuck in the terrain, and the jumping mechanics aren’t very friendly to work with which made a few key areas of the game a right pain to deal with. Sometimes she wouldn’t shift into a shadow after a jump, so I’d often fall to my physical death because I pushed the button and she didn’t shift. Fortunately, there is no penalty for dying so once you acquire a collectable or object in an annoying-to-reach-spot, you can simply jump to your death and respawn at the start of the area and continue on your way. I abused this many times to simplify existence.

I sat down from start-to-finish and managed to 100% clear this game in just a few hours. If you’re trophy hunting, there are a few that require additional playthroughs, but that’s just a matter of selecting the appropriate chapter to replay and knock it out. They aren’t very difficult at all, so it’s an easy gamercard boost if you’re the type that cares. I knew 360 people who played children’s games just to boost their score.

Anyway, I’m really on the fence with this one. The controls drove me a bit crazy and would have caused me to abandon this game were it not for the interesting story, but I’m not sure I could honestly recommend it to someone as something worth playing. It’s something worth seeing, but I had such trouble falling through scenery, getting stuck in walls and other objects, and not shifting when I press the designated key when able, that it doesn’t really even seem worth it. Having completed it, it’s not something I wish to experience ever again.

 

Splatterhouse 2 Reactions

Platform: Sega Genesis
Developer: Now Production
Release: 1992

For the first time, I sat down to play through this game on my own. The last times I ever played were in the company of friends sitting on the floor around my tellie eating whatever snacks were in the house, chatting, drinking Squeezits which tasted like unfrozen Otter Pops, and beating gore outta horrible creatures. Those were good times where your only worries were school, what’s in the fridge, and what you’d be doing over the weekend.

Honestly, it has been bit of a depressing playthrough. Many of the people influential in my life back then are no longer around. Of course, I lived in an entirely different place at the time, too. So, it has been a strange time for me. I started with the intent to get through the game on one credit, but its become rather overwhelming for me alone. I don’t have the sorely missed friends and family around me to cheer me on or help me through tough bits. It really has created this gaping hole in my heart stuck on things that can’t change and wishes of having tried this back then and even having the chance to play Splatterhouse 3 with them.

I still had been enjoying my time with the game. Despite the depression and tears, it remains the fun, violent, satisfying beat-em up I remember and I’m just so happy I don’t entirely suck at it after all these years. I appreciate more things than I did back then, too, specifically the creativity behind all the enemies-especially the bosses. They’re wonderfully horrible things that still stand well today and one of the most important elements to which I grade horror games today. More importantly, it taught me something more valuable.

One vacation, I remember my friends and I discussing the game. It was during one of those countless discussions where you talk about all your favourite games and brag over the ones your friends don’t have and never played. I don’t particularly know how it happened, I just remember my friend bringing up “What if there were more than one Terror Mask?” So the discussion stuck on that for a long time. We all had crazy ideas of how that could happen and what a game like that would be. I still think my idea was the best, of course. I’m amazed I even remember it. Mine followed the idea of someone else find and picks up the mask-a girl merely because I wanted to play one in a game.

We all made our own Terror Masks, too. Mine was more like a decayed theatre mask. At least-that’s what I was going for. I wanted mine to be a girl, so it had to be creepy and femenine and I buried some pink ribbons in mud in my backyard to decorate it with. I still think mine was the best, too, of course. It wasn’t derived from a hockey mask. I don’t remember any of my friends very well, or their stories. I think one was based off a teenage mutant ninja turtle mask. I’m not sure. He would have likely still have gone with that today, so that will be what it was. He wanted gore in all of his favourite games and TMNT happened to be high ranking.

I kept my mask for quite awhile, surprisingly. It was ugly and a not bad attempt for what it was. I didn’t know what to do with it, honestly. After we did them, we all felt stupid. After all, we’re too big to be doing silly kid stuff like that, right? When my friend died, Teenage Mutant Ninja Terror Mask, I buried mine with him in a little box so no one would question what was inside or be stupid adults and not let me do it. I simply said it was something we had made together. I honestly don’t know if it’s still there. I didn’t stick around and I wasn’t there the day to see him put into the ground. I’d like to think all those people weren’t insensitve prats, so I’ll believe my wishes were respected.

Not long after that I moved. Life went on, years passed and here I am today writing my reactions from revisiting one the last things I ever did with that friend, and at the very least, having finished the game on my own. My plans were to keep trying a one credit finish, but it just doesn’t seem important anymore. I never really dealt with the loss of my friend. Moving, having to adjust to a new life, pretty much pushed him into insignificance. That’s not to say it didn’t have an effect on me. I just hadn’t realised until now. Being a girl liking decidedly boy things, I felt I had to fight harder and be tougher and I wasn’t always the nicest person because of that. You shouldn’t have to fight to make or keep friends and that’s a pretty messed up belief to have when you’re young. It’s all about being yourself and Splatterhouse 2 helped me do that. To think it all started by reading the instruction booklet at school. I actually made friends, became social, learned solidarity, and more importantly learned the value of friendship. That is a far greater accomplishment and as far as I’m concerned, this game is mastered.

ZombiU Reactions

Platform: WiiU
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release: 2013

Oh, my goodness. What fun I had with this game! There wasn’t terribly much to it. It had a strong emphasis on survival as in trying-not-to-die with a somewhat Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls punishment. If you died before hunting down the zombie of your previous life, you would lose what he/she was carrying. The game only keeps track of your most recent reincarnation to life as a hungry brainless member of undead society. My early experiences with the game were a lot like my first experiences with Demon’s Souls where you get just a little bit further each life.

I enjoyed the use of the WiiU gamepad. I think it was utilized rather well and as long as you were smart in where and when you decided to manage your inventory or consolt mpas and other information, you wouldn’t have a problem with getting your face chewed off by a zombie that crept up on you while your attention was diverted. I liked that. I think that’s how it should be.

Scavenging was fun and using the cameras to find out what is in area to loot and running out to get stuff. I like how stuff repopulated so you didn’t feel entirely too crushed to lose things when you failed your kill the past survivor that joined the horde. I never got tired of it. Having sewer access to take you to most areas, once you’ve found the sewer entrances, made travel a bit nicer. Of course in the tail-end of the game, you don’t have that luxury, so if you happened to have died, like i did, in Buckingham trying to make it out with the panacea through the lockdown, you have to the long, long way and it’s a brutal fight.I died several times, but I pulled through. I did it!

There is more of this in my future. I wanna try survival mode and I want to play through the campaign again. I never got the bow, so I want to try and find one and see what that is like and try and improve my score and how long I survive. I also spent a lot of time hoarding items and not really using them, so I don’t think I’ll be so conservative next time. I can always get more supplies. Always.

If there was going to be another ZombiU game, I’d like to see a different location like Venice. I think that would be magical. One can dream.

On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness I Reactions

Platform: PC
Developer: Hothead Games
Release: 2008

Well, it took me a fair amount of time to get through such a short RPG – the first of the four in the series. I’ve been left with mixed feelings which had prevented me from collecting my post-play reactive thoughts. I’m still in that state as I write this, but I’ll do my best to make sense of everything.

I more-or-less knew what I would be getting into when I got this game: a basic RPG splashed with Penny Arcade humour. I didn’t quite expect just how toilet-y that humour would be. Some of it amused me, but a lot of it was more shocking in a disbelieving sense. Most of it reminded me of the gaming humour I try so desperately to avoid at the gaming table which is sadly mostly what you get gaming with a bunch of males with questionable social lives. Don’t get me wrong, the humerous campaign can be amusing from time-to-time and I do enjoy running a GURPS Illuminati University game from time-to-time, but all of my hobbies I do to get away from stupid. It’s also of no surprise I dislike most gaming humour things, such as the various webcomics devoted to it. They seem to just make things worse at the game table giving GMs and players something ‘cool’ to steal and try and pull off on their own just for the LOLs.

That aside, the game still entertained. There was something about it all that just somehow worked and I was able to not be left hating it. Perhaps it were how saturated the entire world was with the humour. I don’t know. I expect the other episodes to be more of the same and I am fine with that. It breaks up the seriousness and while not ground-breaking mechanics-wise, there’s just enough there to present an enjoyable casual RPG experience.