September 2020 update
- good level design
- enemies do not feel repetitive
- no checkpoints or manual save, you restart game from the place you last saved
- dismantling items requires alchemist ingredient, so needs a lot of grind
- bosses (especially the last two) don't have predictable movie set and focus more on luck than skill
- character can blend with the background, making it hard to see where we are during the boss fights
- villains are too predictable
- difficulty is not even, and there is moment with huge spike, where we move from killing everything in 1 hit, to being killed by even buffed-weakest-enemy in one hit
It is good a metroidvania, but bosses fights made me want to drop the game few times. They aren't as polished as bosses in Hollow Knight, and more annoying to beat than skill-challenging.
There are few weapons to chose from (swords, great swords, katanas, shoes (that are used to kick enemies...), whips). But I found all weapons apart from the swords to be too slow to be used effectively. There are fire arms, but I also never used those. Weapons can be found around the map or crafted. We can also customize our armor and shards that gives us passive bonuses - armor is found or crafted, while shards are randomly given to us when we kill certain enemy type.
Mana is used to activate shards - shooting arrows, summoning dragon that attacks enemies or paintings that act as (rather bad) shield, use elemental powers etc. Shards are upgraded by either finding another shard of the same type (they stack up), or upgrading the shard itself. Both requires a lot of grind, as chance to drop shard from enemy or ingredients is low.
Crafting system is quite robust, but requires enormous amount of grind if we'd want to unlock everything. Cooking recipes gives passive bonuses such as higher mana regeneration, higher damage or higher luck. Crafting best weapons and armors also requires a lot of crafting materials, and they are dropped with 5% or 10% chance from specific enemies. Enemies respawn when we make transition between the screens, but it still takes a lot of time to drop something we need.
Inventory is neatly organized, but it could remember sorting options we prefer.
There are some pointless fetch quests that are supposed to extend the gameplay - kill x monsters, bring grandma specific food to eat, bring specific piece of clothing. But it's not worth the effort that would need to be put into grind and then crafting.
Enemies are different enough to not be boring, and require bit different strategy when dealt with. At the end of the game everything dies in 1 - 2 hits, so at this point we just rush between different bosses. Although there is this nasty difficulty spike around end of the game, that makes it just annoying to progress as weak enemies gets enormous buff. Granted - enemies do not scale with our level, so different parts of the map have different difficulty. And only 1 - 2 small parts of the map have overpowered enemies.
There are no choices or moral dilemmas. Game does have normal and true ending which is neat, but in the end just resolves to "did you visit whole map? if yes - true ending".
Music - ⭐️⭐☆ - I don't remember anything about the music, so it's neither good or bad. Voice acting is on good level though. Apart from fetch quests NPCs that literally say one line over and over gain
Bugs - ⭐️⭐⭐ - I didn't encourage any
- game net code works well
- very nice graphic, visual effects and weapon sounds
- good environmental physic - a lot of objects can be moved, glass shatters etc.
- objects clip through the walls
- animation problems (when enemies were killed close to me, dying animation was rendered in like 30 FPS)
- quest can not register enemies were killed, and next scripts are not executed
- "They killed Alex!" - literally every enemy in the start part of the game is named Alex. Later "Alex" is swapped with another name, but still each zone has only enemies with one name
- loot drops are uninteresting
- cosmetics are uninteresting and not really noticeable
- problem with going into windowed mode on each game startup
- enemies are repetitive and uninteresting
- enemies are dumb
It is fine game if you don't have anything else to play in co-op. Must be quite boring in SP. I did not touch PvP, so can't comment on that. But even in co-op there are only few missions with some essence, and everything else is copy-pasted fetch quests. Graphic and technical level are really good, but it's like blown egg on the Easter - pretty outside, empty inside.
Which brings us to the cosmetic microtranzactions. They are so utterly pointless, as game is stylized to be realistic. So everyone wears dark trousers, dark bullet-proof vest and a hat. If you equip jacket it makes your T-shirt not visible. Not to mention jacket is also barely visible, as 90% of upper body is hidden under the bullet vest. Manhattan is really well made, but fact it's realistic made game really dark (no electricity, shadows of the skyscrapers), which in turn makes it hard to even see your cosmetics. Why would you buy cosmetics that are hard to spot even for you? I did see many players in the hub areas, and not single time I thought "oh this looks nice, I'd want to have it!".
There are tons of useless junk to collect - phones, cam videos, laptops etc. that are supposed to give more depth to the world, but in the end it's just description of how the first days of apocalypse looked like. And we have 2020 now, so we're all well aware how apocalypse looks like. So it just rings hollow.
There is crafting system and shops, but both are useless when playing only PvE. Crafting requires running around to collect parts in specific areas (like electronic in electronic shop, pieces of fabric in clothing shop etc), and crafted weapons feels the same as the ones we find. Shops are terribly overpriced, and by the end of the game I would be able to buy only 2 weapons for my level. After hoarding cash for whole game, and selling all junk I was finding on the enemies. No idea if they are of use in PvP.
We can upgrade our base, but I did it only for the completion feeling. There is literally nothing that is gained by doing so - we can get chest that will drop a piece of fabric every 1 real-life hour or more fancy crafting station. Upgrading the base is requirement to unlock abilities upgrades but again - they are useless. Especially passive bonuses feels pointless. Like "you have chance to get some ammo when you kill enemy with a head-shot" - when you're swimming in ammo. Maybe useful in PvP. Dunno.
There is simple abilities system - healing, tech or security trees, and extra abilities (or abilities modifiers) are unlocked by upgrading said base. You want to have homing grenade? Get enough resources to upgrade base water purification system! I was just sticking to healing pack and scanner, as one was healing me and other makes enemies visible behind the cover. Majority of abilities feel like useless fodder, just to make the abilities screen have more icons. Why would you use mobile cover, when there is something to hide behind every 5m? Why would you use turret that dies after enemy hits it few times? Passive abilities are equally bad. All in all it does not feel you can customize your character in any meaningful way.
Map is divided into sub-areas with different level enemies. So we're forced to beat the map in certain order, as facing enemies with higher than our level will kill us in few shots. And we will not find weapons of higher level in previous or current area. It is always the same or 1 level above us.
Whole gameplay is: hide behind the cover (or you will die in 5s), pick some enemies, change cover, kill some more enemies. There is no planning or strategy, as enemies are copy-pasted with different clothes color, and are embarrassingly stupid. They will walk into grenade your threw, or stand behind the cover and allow you to head-shot them few times. The only difference are the cleaners - enemies with big gas bottle and flame throwers - you can shot the bottle to make them go boom. I think it was most enjoyable part of the game. Aim for the cleaners bottle to make them die in style. We sometimes encourage buffed enemies versions - their HP bar is either yellow or purple - they they are just bullet sponge versions of normal enemies.
Music - ⭐️⭐☆ - Music is "realistic" just like rest of the game. So nor much to say here, as most of the time it's just environmental sounds. Voice acting is decent. But not amazing. Also they get Alex!
Bugs - ⭐️⭐☆ - Maybe not abundance, but fare bit of them. Nothing game breaking though.
The Division summary may be bit random, but I did not want to spend more than the minimum required time to write it. I did not even read it 2nd time, it’s not worth the effort :P Also looks like Uplay don’t have any place where they show in neat way number of achievements, just page where they show which ones are unlocked. So no screenshot this time.
I was bit disappointed in the Bloodstained, hoped it will be more like Hollow Knight. I did beat two Castlevania games before, but they felt more platform focused, not bosses focused.
I saw tear down of PS5… and this console is huge. I think I will really wait for them to release some slim version, as this console is the size of my 24’ monitor…
I used icons from this page, to show gaming platform in my post: