During the first hour of playing Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice I wasn't really impressed - it felt like a simple indie viking adventure with limited interactivity and average combat and puzzles. But later, after playing some more and watching the commentary movie, I've changed my mind - I think it's pretty good even with short playtime (~8+ hrs) and zero replayabitily, and it's also important.
Senua is a girl from a Picts tribe, who is travelling to hell to save her beloved one's soul. At the same time, from the beginning we're learning that she's suffering from a mental condition, a form of psychosis, which manifests itself as visions and voices in Senua's head, hear fears and obsessions. So, her journey is not a straight path to her destination, but also a wandering through the deepest parts of her mind. The story is immersive, it is full of pain and suffering, and it's not recommended for everyone.
What devs were trying to do is to grasp everything they knew about psychosis and put it inside a video game media to draw attention to this serious theme. They actively consulted a Cambridge professor while working on Hellblade, and they also invited a group of people, who suffered from that condition before, to tell about their experiences. Melina Juergens, who played Senua with godlike acting skills, had also experienced a mental disorder when she was a kid. Even in-game puzzles were designed based of a condition when people subconsciously trying to "solve" what they see, hear and feel around them.
Hellblade is an experiment in more than one way. It is an attempt to see if indie games like this has a right to live, and it's also an attempt to see the audience's reaction when it's set before a serious and an important theme. I think it succeeds in both attempts.
Among other innovative things the game offers, there is a "Photo mode" - a great tool for making screenshots. By using it you can pause a game at any time (even during cutscenes), then position, zoom and rotate camera, add depth of field, apply filters or add special effects. I wish more games had a tool like this.
Playtime: 12 hours Achievements: 14/14 Screenshots
I've just finished my long game for the monthly theme, it was enjoyable at times, but disappointing in general. Zestiria is one of the games in a very long series (it goes back to 1995), and the first one which was released on PC. The games are not connected directly between themselves, so each one tells a different story. In my opinion, Zestiria's narrative is just bad. I don't mind stories of exceptionally good guys defeating the ultimate evil, but this game tells it in a most boring way possible. By the way, the world (and some characters also) gives a bit of Avatar the Last Airbender vibe.
3D graphics and animations are crude and simple, not much better than in Neptunia or in similar games, unlike anime opening and some hand-drawn cutscenes, which are awesome. The combat system is over-complicated for no reasons, it takes more than a hundred tutorial screen pages to explain it, but at the same time the game is not very good at explaining things. For the first 10 hours of gameplay I was doing mostly button-mashing, and some things left unclear even after I've finished the game (for example, I didn't understand semi-auto controls of characters at all, but a two-minute video on youtube answered all of my questions). I think there are 200 or more types of attacks (all characters + combined), and all of them good or bad for different types of enemies, and you're usually meeting 2-3 types of different enemies at once. It's not hard on moderate difficulty, you can even go with full auto, but it's far from exciting, especially if the battle requires you to chase and hit and hit and hit rubber enemies again.
The stats system and equipment were made by people who just love numbers. There is no difference in a wide variety of items, except their stats, so your characters are always look the same (except a few clothing/accessories choices), All you do is balance between equipment combinations, because there isn't any really good item throughout the game. I imagine completing the game at 100% would take a huge amount of time - for example, there is an achievement for beating the final boss without retrying on maximum difficulty or on 5th playthrough! I wasn't able to do it on moderate, because there are three consecutive battles, and you have to fight the last one alone, without your companions and their powers (I was exactly at 1 hp at that point). Although it is possible even for me to beat the game on hard with a bit of determination, the point is I don't think I would ever want to play Zestiria again.
It's been a while since I've updated my journal, so I'll try to quickly review my backlog assassinations for the last two months. Silence, a point and click adventure by Daedalic, a sequel to The Whispered world - while the promo screenshots looked very promising, the game was not as fun as I expected. The graphics was awesome, but the gameplay didn't offer any challenges (there is no inventory, for example, which makes things too easy), and the story was unpolished and too fast-paced to like or dislike any character. Don't look at my playtime - it usually takes 5-7 hours to finish the game.
A detective visual novel which takes place in a steampunk world. The art style was beautiful, it reminded me of another VN - Cinders. The game has four different endings (I'd say "ending screens") with some additional variations of characters' destinies depending on your choices in dialogues. The writing wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable either - I can't recall any exciting moments or unexpected plot twists.
This could easily be the best game of 2017 for me. I think it's perfect in terms of graphics, music and sfx, level design, plot and gameplay mechanics. Sometimes it reminded me of Bioshock, sometimes of Alien: Isolation, at times it was a completely unique experience. One of the things I love is that devs doesn't limit you much, so you can explore and even get somewhere (or get some weapon) earlier than expected - and it wouldn't make the gameplay less fun. Also, playing as a pure engineer made me think of Team Fortress a few times - reinforced turrets are the best ally! =)
A kind of rogue-like coding puzzle game. There is a plot involving a love triangle, a government conspiracy and rebel hackers, there are four different endings, but most of the time you are left in the open without any goals or objectives. You can hack (write additional lines of code to) a door, so it would teleport you somewhere, you can code a radio (or any other object) to make someone more attractive when you turn a knob, you can acquire godlike skills - but only if you'd like to do it for yourself, to test your skills (not because it's needed for the game's progress), and actually there's not much to do in the world except that.
A third game in the series, which was initially the end of the trilogy. It is similar to the previous games, not much to add, except that I hated a number of puzzles which made absolutely no sense, and some of jokes were too inappropriate for me. But, there were also good (even dramatic) moments.
A very unusual game, a walking simulator with puzzle elements and Half-Life's industrial desolation mood. You play as an engineer who investigates town's infrastructure, and who's trying to find the reason why everything is broken or out of order. You take photos, read logs, fix what you can while travelling through semi-abandoned stations and structures. The game is very calm, static and slow-paced, so I can't recommend it to everyone, but some may find it interesting, despite a few instances of questionable gameplay mechanics and a strong accent in voice acting.
This puzzle game left me in mixed feelings. It is big, it is pretty challenging at times, it is full of interesting design decisions. But, at the same time you're basically solving one puzzle with different elements over and over again. It doesn't feel rewarding at all (in comparison to Talos Principle's puzzles, for example), because the only reward for solving puzzle are more puzzles (usually more frustrating). New rules are hardly explained to you, and sometimes you have to try many times to understand how something (like tetris puzzles) works. I solved myself about 90% of puzzles, but those 10% left, especially audio puzzles and a few final puzzles (with dizziness effect) almost made me hate this game. By the way, only 1 of 5 people beat the game, and only about 4% of players completed the additional secret level - you can imagine what to expect.
A sci-fi point and click adventure. It's not bad, especially if you knew that most of it was done by two people. It's not hard, and puzzles are mostly solved by intuition. It's not a masterpiece, but it could help you spend a few evenings - it reminded me by its atmosphere (not by the gameplay) of another classic point and click game - The Dig.
I'm trying to stay away from any platformer game, but Brothers made me really curious, and I don't regret playing it. It's short, so I recommend to play it to anyone who owns a controller. Although the characters speak in a non-existent language, the story is very good, and it's pretty sad, too. The mechanics of controlling two brothers at the same time is interesting and unusual (I haven't seen anything like this before).
Sadly, it is the worst WD season so far (at least, to me). The episodes are shorter by a half in comparison to season 1, they mostly consist of cutscenes and dialogues, the characters are not that interesting (Clem is only appearing from time to time), and their actions are glued to the story not always in a realistic way. It reminded me of Fear the Walking Dead show, even some relationships were similar. I wish Telltale would concentrate on one game rather than spreading their resources on 3-4 games at once.
Another chapter in one of my favorite VNs. It would be more interesting if I haven't seen the anime before. This time it is another point of view on a story (variation of events) which happened in episode 2.
Tyranny is the exact opposite of the new Torment in terms of my expectation - I didn't expect too much from it, but it turned out to be better than Numenera and Pillars of Eternity, so I even played it twice in a row. It has its flaws, and I wish, for example, that skills and spells systems were more complex, but the game was fun to play even as it is. The most important thing that it offers you four different paths to your victory, and it doesn't judge you for being a villain, it even allows you to be the type villain you want to be =) Nice characters, an interesting story, good combat (somehow improved from PoE) - what's more to wish for?
A retro-style cyberpunk game, closest to a visual novel genre. I didn't like the writing - the dialogues are way too long, be it an explanation or a small talk, the way your robot companion talks to you is very annoying, moreover, you can't skip texts quickly - there's always a delay in every replica. The social justice and LGBT themes seem to be very important to the creators, and their influence is strong throughout the whole game. I just wish the game was more funny and relaxed, like VA-11 Hall-A, for example.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
~110 hours of playtime
Metacritic user score: 4.9/10
It's finally over! I think I've seen almost everything the game offers, except multiplayer missions. I also didn't try all the skills and weapons, but I've tested at least 2/3 of them. Combat felt fun thanks to the jetpack, but it eventually started to get a bit repetitive because of the same types of enemies everywhere. Can't say I really liked any weapons - there aren't ones that can became a favorite, and it was sad to see the ones I used in the previous games became unusable (Valkyrie, for example). Didn't like the limit of using only three skills - it's usually a combo starter, a combo finisher and some support skill, so you're doing the same combination over and over (although, you can switch the profiles with different skills, but it would cause an inconvenient cooldown). I've seen many bugs, but none of them were major (except the one when I became invisible during the most heartwarming scene of the game). None of the main or companion quests were bugged, and only one side quest was (cannot be finished for now). The story was okay, although some elements were uncomfortably similar to the Trilogy, it felt like the devs were reusing stuff from the past. There were interesting as well as tedious quests (especially the ones requiring you to bounce from planet to planet watching the same mildly annoying landing sequences). The crew wasn't as good as the original, but some of the members were great (Jaal of the new alien race, for example). It was fun to listen to Peebee, an asari who mixed some Liara parts with Inquisition's Sera's craziness (you'll never guess who her father was). Ryder was pretty funny at the moments, given the right dialogue choices. In summary, big plus to the game for all the action and the visuals (environments/effects), there's a need for a lot of patching, there are nice gameplay features, a lot of content, a bit generic (an-overlord-who-wants-to-destroy-a-galaxy), but not a bad story, a mix of fun and tiresome missions. I'd play it again one day.
|Month||Beaten||To backlog||2017 beaten||2017 to backlog|
An endless visual novel, might be the longest I've played. Unlike Higurashi from the same developers, this game includes all four chapters in one package, so it's like four games in one, which explains the playtime. Finishing it all takes a great amount of patience, but in the end I snapped and auto-played the whole last chapter at fast speed before I lost another 15 hours (by the way, this game is only 1/3 of the whole(?) Umineko story, so you can imagine my frustration). It might be wise to play it chapter by chapter, with some breaks between them.
My impressions are mixed. I think it could be a great detective story (an isolated island, a mansion, a mysterious host and his guests and servants), and the game had some strong points (they're trying to use logic tricks like Raven paradox, for example) and unexpected plot twists. What discouraged me is the amount of supernatural stuff, examples of extremely annoying/generic/violent characters, overuse of "the evil laughter" sound effect, too many pages of unrelated or boring reading, and the overall quality of dialogues and conclusions.
A very nice post-apocalyptic old-school point and click adventure developed by Wadjet Eye Games. I liked it more than similar type games such as Primordia and Technobabylon, and a bit less than Gemini Rue. The art was lovely, the atmosphere of the decaying world was very inspiring, and even the fact that the game was pretty easy and short didn't affect my impressions. One of the characters strongly reminded me of Bioshock Infinite's rebels, and the situation here was somehow similar. I'm thinking of playing it again with developers' commentaries.
Can't say much about it, because it might be dangerous to have a negative opinion on this game =o Well, it's not actually negative, but mixed. I can say only that I've expected more from this game, especially after playing Undertale, but it seem to be hard for anyone to reach TobyFox's level of creativity (yeah, I know that the first version of OneShot came earlier). Also, there were a few compatibility issues with meta elements on my PC.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Metacritic user score: 4.8/10
It's not bad at all, actually! I've bought it after the patch which fixed "the scary eyes", so the faces look better comparing to what you might see on Youtube. I'm currently setting an outpost on the second planet, and there are too many things to do, and it's not even remotely getting boring. At first, it reminded me of No Man's Sky, with all that scanning around =) If I compare it to other franchises, Andromeda is like Fallout 4 - might not be as good as New Vegas in terms of story, but with an overwhelming amount of content. It's hard to describe it briefly, there are things I like more (for example, access to all skills - there are no classes any more), or less (there is no paragon/renegade system). I think I'll write a bit more about after finishing it (by the end of the month, I hope). My Ryder is on the last screenshot =)
A very interesting mix between action/adventure game and TV show. There are four episodes in the game, and each of them divided into a few chapters. The last chapters are live-action parts, and their contents might be slightly changed by your previous actions. I'd say it's not the best acting I've seen for the most of the actors (some of them might be familiar to you), so the show part itself is average, but the idea of including it deserves praise.
The main, interactive part of the game is great! Graphics is very nice, and the visual/sound effects are superb! There is a variety of interesting and useful superpowers you can use, and there are many approaches to defeat your enemies by manipulating time and environment - it's almost like "playing god". The only negative things I can think of are the running speed (it's pretty slow) and your powers' controls mechanics - they are not perfectly responsive, aiming "time bubbles" is sometimes problematic, and there are other minor inconvenience issues. At the same time, the game isn't hard, so those issues are not critical to the gameplay. The plot was exciting, there is a proper amount of action and calm sequences, cutscenes and time-involving puzzles (usually trivial, though). I'd say Quantum Break is a next step of quality in gamemaking for Remedy Entertainment, the creators of Alan Wake.
Never trust this guy! =)
|March||2||4 (+1 DLC)|
I haven’t been here for a while, because BLAEO website is officially blocked in my country, because it shared an IP address with a service which helped to browse internet anonymously (therefore, it helped to access blocked resources, which is unacceptable for our Big Brother). There are different solutions to this inconvenience, but they all mess up my steam login sessions, so I’m still in the process of finding the best one.
What a marvelous expansions! Seriously, it is the best additional contents for video games ever! Firstly, it lasts as long as a standalone game (10+ hours of Hearts, 30+ hours for Blood and Wine, but for me it was twice as much), it offers new locations, new enemies, new weapons and gear, and even new mechanics, which can be used later in the original game or in game+ mode. As for the story, the main quests are so good, that they even surpass the original game in some aspects. There's a drama, a horror mystery, a story of love and revenge, a comedy; there are new and familiar characters, exciting events and unexpected situations.
Both DLCs are intended (but not necessary) to play after the main campaign. Hearts of Stone opens an area to the east and to the north of Novigrad, and part of it takes place in Oxenfurt, with enemies of levels ~30-35. You'll meet two strong and unforgettable characters, whose stories will be unraveling by the entire duration of the expansion. You'll also reunite with Shani from the first game in a very colorful event =3 Additionally, you'll be needing a lot of money (20K or 30K) if you're planning to try a new gear enchantment mechanics. Blood and Wine invites you to a new huge territory, a place which you'll never want to leave. It is a land of knights, vineyards and sun - an exceptionally beautiful place with many things to explore and many activities to do. I don't want to spoil anything, but I really loved the general storyline and many of the side quests. There are two main different outcomes depending of your choices, and four slightly different epilogues based on your relationship in the original game - finishing everything makes you a bit sad, when you know there are no adventures left. You can see some of my screenshots in steam.
A pretentious visual novel from 1999, polished and remade a bit. Apparently, there are many fans of it, because it was a debut work of Suda 51, an influential figure in Japanese game industry, but for me the game didn't feel interesting. There were many good ideas or things no one tried before - every minute of playtime you realize how unusual and strange the game is; sometimes it feels like an art experiment (there are live action or anime scenes, for example), but I didn't feel any depth or additional meaning behind a large part of that visual stuff. The characters, a group of detectives who investigate mysterious murders, are weird - they never act like adults or professionals at all, they love to have a long pseudo-philosophy conversations, and they remind me a group of kids who already "tired of life". Some plot things happen for the sake of happening, they are unreasonable and they never explained. The controls are beyond terrible - simple movement isn't simple at all here. So, despite my interest to the story and structure of the game (there are different cases, some kind of detective work, two sides of investigations - the police and the journalist), I see it as buried under Suda's creativity and his lack of knowledge of people and the police work (at least, by the time he published this).
I don't want to talk much about it, you should read steam reviews for a clearer picture. I had high hopes for Numenera, I was a backer and ordered a collectible edition, but it's nothing like the first Torment. I'm not really disappointed, because I've played it every chance I got, and I never got bored (except for combat), but it didn't feel like role-playing to me. 90% of the game is reading texts and choosing dialogue lines/doing skill checks in dialogues. The thing is, having balanced skills in your party, you would never have a problem with any checks, and the game reminds reading a visual novel (the texts themselves are great, by the way). Gameplay is mostly linear - you're usually doing everything in one area, then move to a next one. Some party characters are nice, but you'll hear all about them during the first dialogue - and barely get anything new from them later (they don't even talk among themselves). There are no voices and no character portraits, except for your party, and most of the world's inhabitants doesn't feel "alive". Combat and combat-related stuff (skills, for example) are shrunk to a minimum, everything you are used to from other RPGs isn't here, but existing fights are so uninteresting and tedious (and buggy for now), that they are better off skipped, thankfully it's usually possible. Tides system, the cornerstone of game's lore, isn't changing anything in the world. So, that's what we left with... I understand that it all sounds too negative, but I repeat: it's not a bad game at all, just not the game of the year I hoped for.
So, for the last two weeks my backlog's progress suddenly stopped, because I decided to replay Witcher 3 with two expansions (bought them a long time ago, but didn't have the right time and mood to play) from the very beginning, and it is a long story for me (at least two weeks more). There's no need to tell how great it is in every aspect =) At the same time, I bought only one game recently, and won another short one, which I finished right away, so I think it's okay to take a break, and there's no threat to my main clearing mission.
Just before Witcher, I've finished a visual novel - If My Heart Had Wings. I was optimistic about it at first, seeing that beautiful art and hoping for a decent slice of life story. One thing that really surprised me was audio options - you can choose a voice volume for every character separately, so you can make the most annoying ones completely silent. Approximately at 20th hour of gameplay I realized that I'm spending my precious lifetime in vain reading page after page about cutting vegetables and adoring cute duck, so I just auto-skipped the rest, as well as all alternative routes (I suppose it would've been another 20 hours, because skipping took a really long time). I can't deny there were interesting bits of story, but all of them were deeply hidden under the thick layers of boring narrative and cheesy dating sim stuff.
Another game I won and finished (in 45 minues) was ISLANDS: Non-Places. It's not a game at all, and not a movie either - I'd say it's an interactive art project, a minimalistic presentation dedicated to city life. I liked it, but to me it's something you never expect to find in Steam. I can't recommend it to everyone, but you might find it interesting if you're into modern art or unusual experiences.
The most warm and fuzzy point and click adventure I've ever played =) You play as Ruth, a young woman who lives on an isolated farm in the mountains in a company of four cows. You live simple life by taking care of your cattle and making cheese and butter, but one day everything changes because of an unforeseen strangeness. The game is short and relatively simple, but it makes you smile a lot, because all the texts and dialogues in it are rhymed, and there are some pretty good jokes, including the ones which break the fourth wall. I got stuck maybe two or three times by not finding a pathway to some locations and by not clearly understanding a puzzle, but it didn't reduce all the enjoyment I've got from the game.
A visual novel/bartender simulator, good enough to take place among my Favorites. You live in a cyberpunk future, where corporations rule the world, parts of the former countries went underwater, artificial humans live along the real ones, crime rate is high, and there is a shortage of real food. Despise all that, people are trying to live their everyday lives, they are still meeting, socializing, relaxing and having fun, and some of them come to the bar you're working at, where you talk to and listen to them, while mixing cocktails from peculiar ingredients. The game is nice and relaxing (it makes you feel kind of a bond with your "regulars" at the bar), and I especially loved the art, which reminded me of Toyoi Yuuta's works.
An entertaining concept, which unfortunately didn't fulfill all of my expectations. Superhot is a first person shooter with static time, where everything is almost stops while you're not moving. It creates an aura of a puzzle game, but it only looks like that, so it's nothing like Braid or other time-manipulation games. Although it is very exciting to play, the game feels somehow limited in what you can do, and while you're thinking about it, the game is already over. It takes 2-3 hours to finish the storyline, and all that's left is challenges (same maps as the story, but with limited weapons/time) and endless mode (you just kill as many enemies as you can) - both interesting, but not very appealing to me personally. One of the other memorable elements of the game is its DOS-type interface with weird applications (like Carpet generator) - good idea, but it's far from the effect Pony Island's interface creativity left on me. So, I recommend you to win it, or to buy it with a big discount, because it's not as hot as Carolina Reaper, more like a Tabasco Pepper.
Oh, sorry, I almost forgot (you'll understand when you play it):
SUPERHOT is the most innovative shooter I've played in years.
P.S. I wrote a short Colored bars guide, if someone's interested in using those in their logs.
And that was the end of Higurashi's "Questions" arc - a little bit shorter than previous games, but still good. To me personally (I've watched all seasons of anime), the story was better when it was mysterious and creepy, without answers, before they started to explain everything. Because of that, I'm not that eager to play the next couple of games in the series, but I'll be waiting for them.
A short 2D horror puzzle game; a dark and disturbing, but outstandingly good and immersive experience! You are just a boy who needs to escape from somewhere, and that's it. You won't hear a single word, won't see any sign or inscription during the whole game, but the story it tells by its visuals, music and sounds is powerful and it's not easily forgotten (especially the last chapter, where things are getting beyond imagination). What I loved about the game, among other things, are the controls. Maybe I didn't play many 2D games to compare, but playing Inside was heaven! Jumping, grabbing things, the physics - everything was perfect, even during the unusual last part of the game. Puzzles were smart, but not frustrating - I used the guide only to find secret rooms (they are well hidden) for the achievements. The game lasts only a few hours, and it doesn't offer replayability, but I advise you to keep an eye on it during the sales - it was definitely one of the best games of 2016.
A worthy Portal successor! The game is very similar to Valve's creation: a girl has been woken up by an AI, and she finds herself in a series of test chambers, where she needs to reach the exit by using logic and a specially designed gun. This gun grabs and sends though a distance lumps of energy, which power up doors and machines. Despise the similarities, the game looks fresh and interesting - it's beautiful, the mechanics is nice, and "A Space Odyssey" type of story adds a degree of enjoyability. I didn't find most of the puzzles hard, but this must be a result of training by two Portals, Qube and Talos Principle =) I didn't need to use walkthrough, but I solved the last puzzle the wrong way (not using logic) - it seems that I wasn't the only one who used this method, but, at the same time, it was clearly "out of the box thinking" that the characters used to talk about.