Posts tagged ‘review’

Design Journals: Soul Sacrifice (omg this is awesome), BL2 redux, & Atelier Totori the mystery continues

**Soul Sacrifice** vita
You are not Conan, but this is the type of place Conan lives in.
You’re the type of peasant he knocks aside and as you emerge from that trough a wizard abducts you. Trapped in a grotesque prison you turn to your one nerdy pursuit reading. Soul Sacrifice uses the meta-narrative to further its gameplay, and much like Assassin’s Creed those novel skills carry over to the “real world” however unlike Assassin’s Creed the game with in a game really works. You see you’re reading the journal of the insane necrophile that trapped you in a cage of human bones. Desperation in the real world means the readings become surprisingly engaging especially as they involve a blood thirsty femme fatale who for reasons not yet revealed saves said future necrophiliac super crazy cannablistic wizard guy. The result is a monster hunter clone that is strangely anti-monster hunter. While the gory fantasy world is at odds with my taste, the set up works perfectly to make the gameplay more intriguing and the game has the balls to lets you decide which of 6 weapons you want to bring into battle. The result is blood spewing machine gun replicates (doesn’t work) to some beautiful and hefty ice swords to a pumpkin headed charge move. Loot is weapons in this game and weapons have about the shelf life as say a cauldron of healing potions or some twizzlers. Weapons wear out giving them a disposable feeling, but these little disposable tinker toys have surprising effects. The game lacks the Monster Hunter traps so far, but honestly this is quite different from monster hunter. Soul Sacrifice is an Inafune game to the core, weapon swaps are constant & the humor never ends. The game’s central mechanic revolves around the bleak surroundings and the sacrifice or save mechanic, which is nice I like choosing my exp and the moral decision to sacrifice or save is fun especially as this Conan like world values life about as highly as a Mars bar. The game encourages you to be a bad guy and Being a compulsive psychopath obsessed with collecting attack level ups is rewarding. Haven’t even gotten to the online play yet, but did i mention this is a romance novel too? Yes, that insane psychopath full of eyes and gore above was in love, how he ended up insane and if learning his old spells will really help you is for you to decide. Good work japan studio…. Just please the blood machine gun thing… No. Oh btw just played the demo am sold on full game pretty sure original and then maybe Delta. Also now super crazy hype for mighty no. 9

**Borderlands 2** ps3
Everyone I know has played this game to death, this week I finally played it to death. True vault hunter mode, co-op and I am tired. Just don’t see it anymore. Not as fun, even 86 gazillion guns gets old. But it still is the best co-op game of a generation of co-op games. Army of Two? Fuse? All,of these games think a co-operative mechanic makes a co-op game. What they didn’t get is that confining a player to working together makes the game less fun. They also failed to understand that progression is progression: you shouldn’t need a partner just to progress when last gen you could do it alone. What Borderlands understands is that each player makes the game expand. You go from being a shotgun wielding Berzerker to a support guy for a sniper who is all glass canon, the game opens up, cars fill with ready bodies waiting for the kill. The storyline is juvenile trash, funny at moments, but never rising above a teenager’s imagination. It did all of this by borrowing the elemental affinities from JRPGs and wrapping them in a fart joke of an FPS. Its all about retarded fun with friends, something overly serious co-op games just didn’t get. Glad to know Bungie was taking notes. Just around level 47 my Siren feels played, the game feels predictable, and the enemies start to come down with ease, still can’t remember the last time I replayed a game like this.

**Atelier Totori** Vita
The problem the game faces is that finding the right components for your crafting are the quests, but then the game wants you to go on its quests. You should just be able to click on a missing component for an item add it to a list and then go on finding missing components and there by producing quests and then maybe a time limit and reward for early completion with some points for extra daredevil battles. Throw in a midboss and final boss for the quest for components to craft silver ingots for a new armor plat for your tank. In other news I can now craft armor, but doing this will require numerous time consuming side trips that will not net me favor with the adventurer’s guild who prefer quests to be of the go there and get 3 of this variety. Time in Atelier is a factor, in fact you might want to fore go sleeping for a simple healing potion, but really the storyline is so meandering that I am not sure if I should waste time so as to advance the narrative or spend it all the more preciously because the game becomes a serious spreadsheet chomper towards the end I am told. Still the time based story events make the game feel fresh, as if the narrative is reacting to you which it is, the game features numerous endings, its just the ending to what that the story fails to remind you. Totori misses her teacher Rorona, but strangely fails to have the usual jrpg resolve to solve the mystery of her mother. For someone who vowed to become an adventurer to find a loved one, she is dizzy and inconsistent. But the game made me laugh and its like nothing else out there. So many ideas in this one, its just not quite made for me.

July 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Why I deleted Rayman Legends Design Journal

Ok so I did it. I deleted Rayman Legends. This marks the second vita game I have ditched due to extraordinarily high requirements for a platinum. The last one being Luftrausers. Rayman and Muramasa were the latest two games I was trying to Platinum, and Rayman got the axe because of its surprisingly mobile like features. Log in daily to get your lums! I managed to finish all of back to origins, but the problem becomes when you realize it will require like half a year of daily lums and stage runs to reach the last tier of characters, the game becomes needlessly grind-able. Its kinda like when you meet a you f psychopath in a bar. He or She beams with every pour of their being their very nefarious desires to take advantage of you. Rayman sadly felt exactly this way. I needed 100,000 more lums for the next character unlock, my daily lum rush (which gives more lums than most levels do) only produced a few thousand. The result is Legends abuses its players. A platinum shows how much a player likes a game or their skill. Rayman asks how long they can milk them. Muramasa, my other platinum attempt, just asks the impossible of a player.

Time limited aspects of games can be utilized in creative ways: Animal Crossing for instance, but to often mobile games are monetizing time in the wrong way. My time, especially as I grow older as a smoker, grows more sparse. I have to much to do and collecting some Lums to try to perfect a level isn’t a good use. Not to mention the game requires you play a level in order to save your progress. I am now on my way home to what might be a 3-4 player Borderlands 2 game. When we’re finished, even if we’re in the middle of a mission, we can save and come back with minimal detriments.

Broken Age Ios
Tim Schaeffer, celebrity game maker, attained his high watermark while making point and click games. The point and click game is a genre that went out of style, but Broken Age shows so much of what was right about those games. The storyline is endlessly creative with puzzles that seem less arbitrary and more about subjective reasoning. Mr. Schaeffer is good at producing characters whose dilemmas require us to do some lateral thinking to solve. The result is a game that’s mightily creative, but also requires the player to be creative too. The design and voice acting are also amazing. The game’s only flaw so far is the simple minded goal. Mog Chothra is not fleshed out as a villain. Buy these games require premises more creative than our average game because ya know they’re video games. Broken Age’s puzzles are designed less by items and more by dialog. Pay attention to what they say. The game doesn’t need a to do list like many FPS games do, rather the world itself is condensed to a simple series of encounters the player reasons through with a limited vocabulary. Over all an awesome game. Have not even started the boy’s quest.

Atelier Totori ps vita
Totori loves self sufficiency. Farm the items for bomb parts and then in turn finish a quest to kill x number of bad guys. What impresses me most about the game is the way the storyline weaves around your actions. Something as simple as gathering weeds might set off a slew of cinema scenes, its not a game thats rushed, but it is one that rewards often. I am not sure I will finish this, its a little annoying, but the trip has been unique. Few games ask the player to gather and construct their solutions the way this game has.

Gero Blaster Ios
Whatever Studio Pixel was smoking when he made Cave Story has run out of narrative gas. Gero Blaster is memorable, but not so much for its characterization. Rather the game is just fun to play. I am playing it on ios and the 3 stick shifter for the gun could be better, but over all the game rocks. Its just not as mind blowing at parts as Cave Story was. The weapon changes are significant, but nothing really new. The Megaman style acquirements are necessary, but its the way these weapon uses are so subtle that mark it. Studio Pixel understands that all you need to do is make an enemy slightly easer to deal with a weapon in order to produce an environment necessary for switching.

Borderlands 2 ps3
Ok so about to play a three player game if borderlands. What it understands is that when we’re playing with others it should be a party. Destiny takes itself serious, but not overtly seriously. Borderlands 2 is just bonkers. The game is most indebted to run and gun games like Metal Slug. Its all about ridiculous enemy types. The result is a really satisfying co-op shooter with enough enemy variety that its requires the extra players. On the other hand the storyline is intended for teens.

June 15, 2014 at 6:37 am Leave a comment

Quickies: PID the castle levels

PID is a newish indie platformer from a company with the amazing name Might and Delight. Two things I usually like together, however PID suffers a bit from the unity syndrome. The unity syndrome is when an indie game bears such similarity to another unity game that one simply feels one is playing the same game. In the case of PID it bears a resemblance to the equally excellent Rochard. Both are 2d platformers done in Unity only with remarkably different storylines, aesthetics, and play mechanics. PID involves a boy who over sleeps in an intergalactic school bus and finds himself immersed in the politics of an alien world. The game features co-op with both players using the same pc which is cool, but unlikely for someone like me.

PID is the story of various distractions, as the game begins our protagonist is looking for a bus back to his planet, only to be promised one in the first few minutes and then to discover that the old man in question is merely delusional, and a bus can only be caught from in town. From there PID grows into a gravity based platformer. Kurt, the plucky Pixar like protagonist of this surrealist epic, quickly acquires the ability to shoot two little gravity beams that will either send him up or to the side. These abilities aren’t terribly exciting, Rochard for features a gravity mechanic as well, but so far the game has made rather good use of them. You will flip plates, have to time throw to levitate boxes, and occasionally lob one into a tube to deal with an enemy.

And that might be where the game’s problems begin. PID has great surrealist design. It reminds of Windowsill:

But where Windowsill’s joy was the discovery of its surrealist mechanics PID is sadly more mundane in its play style. Kurt will be avoiding a surprisingly mundane group of machines in the castle level (confession I have not made it out of the castle yet). However the later parts of the castle introduce some creepy automatons that stalk Kurt through levels and have to be dealt with bombs, lasers, or other methods. These newer enemies suggest the game gets much more involved later. Truth be told I enjoyed the dining room levels quite a bit, because they reminded me of Mickey mouse in castle of illusion which was a major game for me when I was younger and the sitting room where I now reside is turning out to be wonderful as well. But PID initially in sound track and over all vibe is a bit of downer, propelled by jazz / surf rock bass lines the game’s opening levels seem almost sedate and the world around PID is often standing still.


Despite this, or maybe due to a love of platformers, I plundered through the first levels in a two hour binge arriving this morning at a really cool boss fight which involved smashing plates. I can only tentatively recommend PID, it’s design is fabulous, but the play mechanics are only now building to something truly exemplary. Might and Delight might have produced a gem, but nearing the end of the first section I am only now starting to get intrigued. The story, which in the trailer sounds awesome, is another problem, while an interesting idea it lacks execution and often falters in places, PID is a great could have been with story. The sound track only gets darker as one plays which is strange because PID is so much a game of surprise, it’s world is fairly original and it’s story book premise have great potential, but hey I haven’t even reached this guy yet: so who knows what is has in store. So to recap: it looks like a unity game, that same ethereal glow resounds around the game’s graphics. The world is greatly realized, but the enemies only become interesting towards the end of the first section. The game’s hook is gravity manipulation which works like lobbing a soft ball, it doesn’t quite have a fast pace to it, but it does lend to some ok puzzles.

Available from their website or Steam.

November 2, 2012 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

Torchlight 2

I have to admit, the rogue like games such as Diablo have never quite appealed to me. The games don’t really involve skill as much as button mashing and a rather annoying bit of inventory management. Skyrim is a similar species of loot and power. Neither game type has quite appealed to me, but Torchlight (unlike Diablo) has always had that indie sheen to it. It is the work of programmers and designers genuinely in love with the form. It also eschews the more serious tone of Diablo for cartoony graphics which is necessary when making a fantasy game about loot, after all part of Diablo or Torchlight (or even Skyrim) is how you dress. The serious fantasy tone doesn’t go down to well when you put on fairy wings and punch chickens to death for an hour. The game has essentially no strategy, if you pick a certain ability and it go awry, you can generally just blast your way away, heal a little, then pick off the enemies one by one. What Torchlight, Diablo, and Skyrim excel at is power. The games are consistent realms of challenge, but also consistent realms of ability. You are always leveling up in these games, and a high level character is powerful. Creeps don’t run away from you, they still attack in droves, and your high level dude or dudette mows through them like a new gigabytes on an ipad on a restricted data plan. Torchlight is essentially a mall. The game’s architecture is captivating, holds one in place, the game is social now (up to 6 player co-op is required in the beta) and you can even trade items now. You share space with other players, frag with them, and loot with them. In other words Torchlight has become what many games increasingly are: a place to socialize. It’s relaxed game play (you only really struggle on elite difficultly and even then in dungeons with lots of creeps) and emphasis on collection means that in multiplayer games there are often pauses while another hero unburdens his or her loot on an unsuspecting pet. Pets are your backpack / minor weapon of war in the game. Each character comes with a pet and the pet in turn holds loot, sells loot, and attacks enemies. Pets can also be fed fish to turn into even more dangerous denizens when needed. The pauses give you time to rearrange things, fuss with the latest Armour styles (I seriously have trouble giving up my short skirts for long unappealing pants) and possibly engage in some type of Chaucerian sub-plots in the game. Sadly, the later is ignored as an option, but could become part of the culture of the game. The game makes for an excellent place for chit-chat and showing off new abilities and loot. That said, Torchlight is also a runway. What the co-op really does is allow you to share your creation with others. Heavy ability use becomes the norm, special attacks role out, you strut your stuff on the dungeon floor.

I have yet to really grasp what these games are about. Loot perhaps? But I see high-level players just ignore it. Socializing? but many of my raiding parties are silent. In fact I find myself digging into the game play in order to find challenges. Yet, the game is addictive. I have played the beta so much that I have two maxed out accounts and comrades to the gills. Rogue likes are waves of power trips, once you’re up you find enemies more challenging and you’re down again, challenge sets in and for awhile you have to run and gun and dash and heal and then another level comes up and you’re on top again. It is my conjecture that Skyrim, Torchlight, are essentially hallucinations that appease a consistent need for power. They provide (primarily male) egos with a needed sense of control of their environment while also providing tons of opportunism for consumption. They are regulated environments (like malls) that lack the unpredictably of games or the events of cities, they are fantasies, a collective dream scape of steam punk selves, a place of becoming, they’re like the little fantasies you have while reading fantasy novels, you as a hobbit, you as a necromancer, an alien, a rabbit, a dream eating butterfly. Literature has produced a million dreams in its readers, it’s only that just now have all these fantasies popped in CAD systems, formalized into rule systems, made their way into code. Games such as these are essentially boyhood fantasies put into systems, screens, the flesh of pixels. They don’t work as games, but as a hallucination, they can induce prolonged periods of game play. What they lack though the is instability, the possibility, our own imagination places in literature’s memetic off shoots. As a self driven narrative Torchlight falters, you make rare decisions and have no real ability to speak, but it can let you become something. A fragment of an imaginary self, and your friends can come along too. One day we’ll figure out the mathematics of stories, and then games like this will shine.

p.s. I am enjoying torchlight a lot more than Diablo 3.

May 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment


The game begins procedullary, minecraft algorithimically creates a world for you. One that’s topography reminds of adventure games, but aesthetically draws from the graphics of pc gaming origins. Minecraft is cutely and a tad nostallgically stylized. The game contains a binary night/day, these two states modulate the game, day allows you to mine the surface night forces you to mine inside. I found myself creating shelters which ended up being mine shacks, each house a stairway to the 19 or so levels below. When you reach the end, you hit bedrock, i managed this with cobblestone pick axes. You can’t break bedrock.

Video games potentially have narrative by the throat. They place story over an abyss of interactions, as games like heavy rain prove, we still like stories quite a bit. Minecraft’s narrative is never acknowledged textually, no one actually tells you to find shelter, no chorus like muse directs you to the next point, rather the possibilities of play drive the game forward. Even the levels differ per user, the game fills out the nonlinear possibilities of gaming by using an initial binary to drive yiu forward and a child like joy of creation to keep you around.

Minecraft has become popular because of its creations, that the game provides a perfect yiutube portrait, but after the first day the game itself offers few surprises. The day/night binary becomes teduim after you manage to create a house, the exploration becomes repetitive although i remember making it to an island where the mountains hung in air and building a little chateau on a cliff overlooking a lake. The game is procedullary brilliant, keep mining and you’ll run into a hidden cave, a lava pit, and then the inevitable bedrock. Get on a boat and you’ll sail through the oceans only to find continents, it’s the exploration i enjoyed the most, i just wish i could craft a new spawn point, restarting in my sandcastle gets old.
Minecraft is second life, but with out a monetary system and parred down to the joy of bricks. I find myself trying to find new things to do in it, tonight i might try to sail around the entire world.

Note minecraft is in beta and might contain quests amongst other additions in the future.

March 7, 2011 at 5:02 am 1 comment

Zero history

Pattern recognition continues to be my favorite gibson novel. Darkly mysteriois it caught the social malfunctions of the creative class while taking us on a very real quest. The follow up books in the series have inflated the characters to cartoons, and the apex of spook country was a major let down. Zero history is a combination of the two previous books thoughts. It commits the cardinal sin, somewhat unavoidable in gibson, of hurling a world that looks increasingly super human at us, part of what made pattern recognition work was the surprising humannesss of the scale followed by the surprise of the ending, spook country built to a largely dissapointing close, zero history’s finale is flawed its prep for milgrim’s exchange an eternity that ends up leading almost nowhere. It also ends with a clear build into the next novel in which hubertus bigend will obviously sprout wings and fight manga characters. Gibson doea continue his colloquial discussion of ideas, theories of branding and the military, addiction (gibson is still an addicting read), and of course the cleverness of a ceo able to buy out indie rock icons and then leverage their wuffie to find whatever he desirses, bigend’s manipilations are rather coy what he wants from milgrim is amother mater. Gibson’s portrayl of creative culture’s increasing abstracation from the lower class continues to climb or maybe it’s just the way he makes the pop cultural musings and lifestyles of our times seem so dire as if a really exclusive pair of secret brand pants could really provide some type of eureka a break through in urban theory that in turn would make somone rich, this is an author who sees pyschoanalysis as a tool as much as heliim balloons and custom made darts. Mr gibson thank you for your women. Loved heidi and the hotel. Ramble off

January 9, 2011 at 4:49 am Leave a comment


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