I've been on a spree of playing some short games with even shorter reviews, but at least half of that statement has now been invalidated with Wandersong because it got me busting out the usual long form review. Hey, it's only been... a month? Aww, shucks. I also wrote a brief take on a particular anime OVA from the 1990s. In case you really want to feel old and enjoy some occasional gore.
Hope you're staying safe and enjoy the read. ;)
( PC (Steam) – Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle – 2018 ) + TRAILER
This Wandersong review kinda grew in size almost against my will as I kept playing because original plan was to not give it the full-length treatment, but as game kept throwing pleasant surprises at me one after another I relented. So, here we are.
Following a trippy dream where he attempts to use the sword and can't seem to our bard wakes up only to meet a chill rainbow girl, spirit, whatever as she delivers her message – bardlet is to become the fabled hero and save the world by recovering seven parts of Earthsong from just as many Overseers. In case he fails the rainbow girl, acting on behalf of goddess Eya, states rather clearly his world will end. Before promptly peacing out. Only problem is our, at this point, nameless bard isn't exactly of the Dungeons & Dragons variety aka only thing he can do is SING.
What follows is a story of heartwarming, depression and everything in-between you can imagine because this isn't even remotely as clear cut as it appears initially with a cliché premise being what it is. Essentially we have seven acts of figuring out how to access the Overseers' spirit domains, navigating these would-be dungeons of sorts and finally dealing with the Overseers themselves. Taking into account who our protagonist is we'll be taking the scenic route because each act has its own story arc, usually self-contained while expanding on the quest at large in some capacity. You'd think convincing performers to form a band, with you as an impromptu frontman for a legendary performance, would be pointless as your companion Miriam points out, but that's where you'd be wrong because there's payoff aplenty. If nothing else game has a really satisfying epilogue tying everything up with a neat bow.
Final word in the narrative department before I switch up to gameplay proper would be Wondersong's characters. While there are really only three key character, two of which I've mentioned and last is a spoiler game rather ingeniously springs on you, all side characters are just as unique with plenty of lines all lovingly “voiced” in that sample kind of way reminiscent of certain N64 titles, but knowing when not to go overboard with the stylistic choice. They feed into sub-stories or have memorable personalities of their own. I was especially impressed by Miriam's relationship with our bard, though. Sidestepping what I expected and exploring their dynamic may have been more satisfying than resolving Eya's task looking back on what they've been through together and how they've affected each other.
Seriously, that's enough. Entire narrative is great with good feelings aplenty and curves thrown in for good measure as well as humor. How's the gameplay?
In a way it's amazing what variety developers have managed to cram in with a protagonist who can jump, sing, crouch and dance. Last two are optional. While Wandersong is a lightweight platformer, some “dungeons” I'll get to notwithstanding, it would probably be fair to state it's just as much of a rhythm game. Or that it has some tiny traces of puzzles in its DNA makeup. None of those are wrong. However, overwhelming majority of bard's interaction with the world surrounding him occurs via eight notes he can produce, errr, you produce by rotating the right stick if you're playing with a gamepad. Aside from expected pitch difference they're also color coded... and now possibilities open up on how they could be used for problem solving. Everything, and I mean everything, is handled through this eight-directional input. From actual singing to deflecting stalactites, directing bug swarms to carry that awkward boulder blocking the passageway, choosing what to say in a conversation, throwing coal into factory furnace, even talk to ghosts. That's without getting into actual rhythm bits which would classify as puzzles unot themselves if they weren't essentially impossible to fail because they just restart. Highlights of this system are without doubt bard's performances during dramatic scenes and my one regret is something I've noticed in almost all games that have inputs during such moments – you end up paying attention to what you're doing rather than to what's going on. And in this case there's some rather neat songwriting getting the narrative point across.
If it sounds like I'm trying to dodge the main point or some issue here, that's really not the case. Wandersong isn't a complicated game and what would classify as a major deal, something that subverts your expectations in a good way, would be getting into spoilers so I'll steer clear. Each act is different enough to stand apart. For example, one has you sailing with a crew of coffee drinking pirates on an honest-to-god overworld while other has a day and night cycle with passage of time which you have to keep track of. In fact, if you're looking for something more conventional I could talk about AND I've already mentioned it would be the Overseers' spirit world “dungeons”. It's what they are sans combat. Even more so than acts, each has a gimmick you need to master to navigate through and, oh boy, with one particular I was at my wits end. Let's just say I don't enjoy pitch black levels where you're hunted by nasties. While they vary in enjoyment some are absolutely neat like feeding flying seals purple crystals so they fly against the wind or using your singing to stretch blobs of goo into correct shapes. These areas are also the only challenging ones in a sense your platforming and reactions will be tested. Just a tiny bit, though. Considering there's no concept of lives or health you can just keep going keeping generous checkpoints in mind. Proper pacing with nothing overstaying its welcome helps, though.
Presentation is its own beast and requires to be talked about. You know, “it's like papercraft” would summarize Wandersong just fine, but it also wouldn't do it justice. Vibrant colors with layered locations you can jump to and from are difficult to convey in words. At times paper collage and pop-out book it definitely does the job with the visuals. This goes well with strong design as I've noticed no points where artists decided to be lazy thinking you wouldn't look, down to one-off designs still standing out.
It's a game about a bard going on epic adventure to save the world. Soundtrack does not falter. You wouldn't think how effectively those eight notes could be used paired with voice acting samples and yet it somehow works. OST numbering over 100 tracks easily stole the show for me and listing favorites would be futile. If you can think of a situation there's a track for it, courtesy of A Shell in the Pit doing a marvelous job.
A.D. Police Files ( Action, Cyberpunk – 1990 – 3 episodes ) + OPENING
What to say other than it really is perfect '90s anime - action and gore with some nudity here and there. It is a shame how it got cut down to only three episodes over some supposed legal disputes, though.
Show itself is set in the same world as Bubblegum Crisis, but taken at face values it definitely seems disjointed with three standalone cases that still end up featuring luscious tanned Jeena and her rookie partner as protagonists or side characters. Year is 2027 and we're in Mega Tokyo as technology has given birth to cyberpunk and all the madness that entails. Amusingly enough, fully synthetic humans are called Boomers [or Voomers, depending on translation] and as a response team to their existence we now have AD police alongside Normal police. In best Hollywood action movie fashion former leaves a wake of collateral destruction in their wake and aren't much beloved by latter. If you know cyberpunk you can already guess what you're getting here as everyone involved ponders about whether technology is encroaching on humanity's spirit, whether it's wrong to replace what you originally were or if it's just a path forward. There were chilling scenes when female Boomer model goes mental as she is recycled and only lingering memory she hangs onto, that of being shot to pieces, becomes her fetish as she seeks her "killer" to re-live it or when a full-on police cyborg realizes he's gone berserk as he internally screams for his comrades to kill because he can't help himself.
Basic yet short enough to recommend if you're not squeamish about some gore with notable effort in the presentation considering this is a '90s OVA. Perhaps even look into the setting with more works.
Ninglors Log 183
The Banner Saga
Played this week:
Cat Story ahead!
Ups, I did it again! runs away
So much from me :)
Have a lovely week!
Sep 20 2020
Report #282: F1 2020
Corona season completed
What a long time without any report (beside the Challenge Me! post). One of the reason could haven been Fall Guys on the PS4 :D
On PC I finished in the meantime F1 2020. I pre-purchased it during the last summer sale and jump right into it at launch. It has done a lot of things better then the previous one. Also it took around half of the time, mostly because there is no grind achievement for character development (by answering interview questions) and no MP gold medal achievement, which requires a lot of ranked matches.
Grip has been much improved. Also I liked the overtake handliing with ERS instead of the 5 levels of F1 2019
Third week of September
OMG… I am finally done with Planet Coaster… finally… took months. Now I can finally sleep at night.
Main Quest #109 - 20 September 2020
I’ve never played this one back in the day, so it’s good to finally play it now. The only MW I played was 3 in the Wii, so I can’t wait to play 2 and replay 3 when I can on the PC. It’s fun, classic COD gameplay. My favorite mission was the Pripyat, and then the epilogue one. The whole Act 3 was very action-heavy, my favorite of the three.
Update 68: September 9th to 19th
And lady luck still reigns supreme O_O Another update and another winning streak. At least I am winning games I like ;)
This time around I did not fininish that many games since I spent most of my time on Tales of Symphonia.
Can't really say anything about the game. The servers got shut down soon after I won the game shrug
Tales of Symphonia
Overall this is a good game, pretty long winded at some points, others might find that charming ;) Though it got never to the point where I did not want to play any further. You have a great seelction of characters and skills to choose from, so it does not get boring. I had no problems with crashes or bugs.
Very basic Zoo Tycoon clone. Basic animal research to unlock animals.
- you can't rotate the zoo
- no scenarios, the challenges are a nice touch, but not that great either to make me play more
Red Riding Hood - Star Crossed Lovers
Good HOG with very few typically HOG logic moments. You know the ones I am talking about, right? Things like: Oh you need a knife to cut the rope…yeah you have a sword in your inventory, but that won't cut the rope, because it can only be cut by that certain knife.
This game tells you the story of the red riding hood, but with a twist ;) It is at times humorous. I enjoyed myself.
Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders
Good HOG with beautiful visuals, a nice soundtrack and good voice over. The hidden object scenes are nicely done and we have a good fast traveling map that works well. The collectibles are a pain in the ass though. So I would recommend a guide for these since you cannot backtrack through the scenes.
Demon Hunter 4: Riddles of Light
Okay HOG, unfortunately you never know what you are really looking for and some of the puzzles come without good instructions. I had to check a walkthrough more than once with this one. Though at least the collectibles were easy to find in this one.
Overall Backlog Progress:-0,31% change to last times unfinished/never played games (70,84% unplayed games)
Little Big Workshop
Witch's Pranks: Frog's Fortune Collector's Edition
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders
Demon Hunter 4: Riddles of Light
Red Riding Hood - Star Crossed Lovers
Games I bought:
Sep 19 2020
Progress Report #4
Better late than never…
I hope this finds you all well. I haven’t posted in a while, I’d like to write more consistently but lately my life is quite chaotic It’s not an easy time for anyone but at least more time at home means more time for gaming. At least with school that started again this month there’s a semblance of normality. It also means that I’ve finally got back to work, yeah!
My Highlight this month is Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town.
I loved playing this great point & click game. It really feel like an updated version of the old classic like the Monkey Island serie. The story was engaging, the graphics beautiful and there’s a very extensive map with an impressive numbers of locations. If you’re interested in reading my review for it, you can find it here.
Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town
As usual here are the other games I managed to finished. Sol 705 is another Point & Click, it has a couple of flaw but it was enjoyable and I have to point out that it was developed by one creator alone. Anyone who like point & click’s games should definitely give it a try. It’s an updated full game version of this free game that came out in 2017.
Shivering Hearts is a nice small game combining visual novel with RPG gameplay, it’s not outstanding in any way but for the small price it does worth playing through once and it’s in a bundle right now for anyone interested.
Tango: the Adventure Game was a great point & click that I thoroughly recommend to everyone that like this type of games.
Ourea was okay, it’s not that it was bad but I believe it would be better if it was publicised to a much younger audiance.
Welcome to Elk: The First Stories is great, it’s only serves as a prologue to the Welcome to Elk game that actually just came out on Steam and I’m looking forward to playing since I really enjoyed the prologue. It a eclectic mix of style but works really well together.
And finally Before I Forget is a short walking simulator. It’s a very emotional and meaningful experience. If you want to read more about it, you can read my review here
Otherwise the only one I really did not enjoyed is Corona Simulator. It’s basically another version of Plague but with much less features, less stats and a lot less fun.
Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest Collector's Edition
Before I Forget
Tango the Adventure Game
Welcome to Elk: the First Stories
Have a wonderful weekend and lots of Backlog slaying 🤖
Sep 18 2020
Finished in September (4-7)
I cannot find a game for myself for a couple of days. I started couple, but I found out that I’m not in that mood. Well until I find something I want to play, I can write about games I finished.
This game must be awesome in co-op. Unfortunately I’m a lonely player, but it was still fun. It’s a platformer with some riddles elements and absolutely gorgeus art. It is similar to original game, but now you have two characters who are connected to each other. This is giving opportunity for interesting gameplay mechanics, and as the whole this game has better gameplay than the first part. On the other hand, I prefer the story and “the feel” of the first one was much better. Here we are following two kids, but I couldn’t get invested in their adventures in the way I was enjoying the loose story of the first game. All in all - good game. If you are interested - check both.
The Spiral Scouts
Oh boy… Why? Just why? This is such a good game - mechanically. It’s a puzzle adventure game which such variety of riddles and such fun artwork and I want to love it. But the writing… it was terrible. It was full of “edgy” and “naughty” jokes. We have such classics as: Fart jokes. Cute characters swearing as sailors. A special “juice” made in a toilet (with proper sound effects). Woman who literally blow up because she had too much sex. Wibrators and “self massage” session. Pig sex. Heroin mining (I was hoping it will be some clever word play, but no. You literally have a syringe with heroin from there, and of course you are using it). And much, much more. Larry Laffer has sophisticated humor compared to this. I mean… ok, maybe “I don’t get it”, maybe I’m not a target, maybe I’m to “oldschool” to understand the brilliance of it, but I don’t remember smiling once during the whole game. Which is the shame because I really, really enjoyed the gameplay.
It’s basically a Diablo clone, but a good one. I simply realised, that I’m not enjoying simple hack’n’slashes anymore. At least not if they don’t have anything else to offer, like a nice humor of Victor Vran. But if you like Diablo, don’t mind my not so high score, just play it, it’s really good in its genre.
Night in the Woods
Wow… that was a strange game. You are a 20 year old college student, who dropped college, return to home town and now is trying to find out, what to do with her life. You are waking up every day, and just live… talking with your parents, hanging out with friends, searching for little secrets in your old, slowly dying city. There is this nice term to describe some TV shows - “slice of life”, and this is exacly what it is. There is an overall story, but if you are doing only main events, you are playing it wrong. The goal is to learn about the city, the neighbours, go and friendly argue with a priest, then steal some bread to feed a rat family, and after all of that, maybe go and do what you should do to move story further. I loved it for most of the time, my only problem was the ending - it was too quick, and a bit disconected from the tone of the whole game, like someone suddenly changed genre of a story. I was hoping for something less on the nose, but it was still great, even if a little depressing, fun.
Weekly Games #107
Despite being in a slacking mood I got a bunch of games done. I know they are short but as always backlog is backlog and I need to clean up my games. Got rid of 3 just this week to make up for the 3 games I added… Also after 2 months I won another game yay