Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition

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Steam

Not sure why ‘Windows Edition’ is important but whatever, it’s in the title on Steam.

Don’t think that this is going to be a habit or anything. I just happen to have had some extra time because I finished my certification courses and I’m waiting for the certificate to come in the mail.

I want to preface this review by saying I absolutely hate JRPGs. I hate the grind, I hate the backtracking, I (generally) hate turn-based combat, I hate the lack of good story, I hate the cliched characters. I just hate JRPGs. I’ve started several Final Fantasies, I’ve only finished one. That is to say, I’ve only finished Final Fantasy VI. Because I got sucked into the stories and the characters. Outside of that, I really couldn’t find myself getting attached to characters in any of the other ones I’ve tried.

This game is fantastic. It manages to avoid most of the major pitfalls that come with JRPGs. Taking place in a 3D world definitely plays to the game’s credit. It’s easy to get lost in the scenery while you’re traveling throughout the world. The Backstreet Boys also keep things interesting with their little dialogues and being able to listen to music from the other Final Fantasy games (and NieR… for some reason) really passes the time. Best part is, you don’t even have to suffer the drive if you’re traveling to parking spots or towns. Just fast travel. The grind is still there but relatively tolerable because the combat is actually fun even if simple and repetitive. When it works, it feels very fluid and you feel like a total hero flying from monster to monster. When it doesn’t work, the real monster is the camera trying to film you through 10 meters of foliage or through a wall. This didn’t happen often enough to me to really be annoying though. The characters are great. I found myself really appreciating the characters. I think this game gets by by having the characters fully developed before you really interact with them. They already exist and you don’t have to create them and the story doesn’t have to bend to meet your personal choices. And honestly? This Band of Brothers is just really cool. The way they interact and rely on each other really makes you feel like these characters have a history together. They’re all pretty likeable as long as you don’t look too hard at the story.

Which I guess brings me to what I believe is the game’s biggest flaw. The story. While there’s an advantage to having the characters developed before the game, there isn’t as much of an advantage of having the lore developed before the game. This game seems to assume some level of background knowledge to the lore and I have no idea where any of this comes from. I want to lose myself in this game, in the story, but it feels like there are so many pieces that were chopped out and I have no idea where to find them. Granted, I am still looking around the map for little things to read, but I dunno. Something about this presentation rubs me the wrong way. Another major flaw would be its load times and the last (and this one annoyed me for a few before I found a workaround) is that the game would often crash my computer. Not crash to desktop, literally crash my computer.

The open-world setting works well with the character because without a sense of direction it really just feels like the Fantastic Four being the Fantastic Four. Really. I just really like the camaraderie of these guys and playing the game is just bros being bros. In my view, the game is really relaxing. Just pick a direction and go there. Eventually I’d get overleveled and decide maybe it’s time to do the story but then I realized that the story is super short. This has to be one of the shorter Final Fantasy games because it feels like it just flew by. Or maybe time flies when you’re having fun? Who knows.

Either way, I really do commend Final Fantasy XV for being a great game and I do recommend it to people. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge [Director’s Cut]

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Steam

I am a regular speedrunner of Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. I’ve gotten my time to a pretty good spot and while I love the game to death, I’ve been flirting with other games just as a change of pace. Sometimes I watch speedruns and the Shantae series has been on the radar for a while because the “plot” is amazing it looks really cute. So while it was on sale, I bought the bundle. Looked up the order the games are in (chronologically) and started up Risky’s Revenge.

Boy what a mistake that was.

In Risky’s Revenge (a sequel to GBC game I will likely never play) you play as Shantae. She is a half-genie girl that acts as the guardian of Scuttle Town. One day, while her uncle unveils the magic lamp, an artifact he found, pirates attack and steal the lamp. Your job? Get the lamp back. Seems simple enough. In metroidvania style, you gather your genie powers from magic fountains throughout the world, become super powered, only to lose these powers in the final fight not like you were using the powers to fight anyway (we’ll come back to that).

Aesthetically, the game is quite well-designed. It diverges a bit from the typical metroidvania style of screen transition by instead showing you a faded version of the screen behind you as you travel through your current screen. This is a pretty cool innovation because now you don’t get surprised by random flea knocking you back into the prior screen. You always know where you’re going to land. Only works one way though, so to prevent you from getting mauled on the way to a screen “in the foreground” you’ll always land on a safe spot after transition. That’s not to say the usual screen transition from one room to another isn’t still there. Just that I found this little experimentation interesting. This experimentation creates a pseudo-3D map. The map is also very compact. There aren’t too many places to go in the game. Overall, maybe 3 major zones. So the design is incredibly efficient! The art design (as stated earlier) is quite cute. All of the designs feel good. The audio design is sweet too.

Unfortunately, while I praised the design in terms of ‘efficiency’, I’m afraid that the design is incredibly frustrating. James Montagna. That’s right, I wrote down your name before preparing this review. Why? Because SCREW YOU AND YOUR LEVEL DESIGN. I absolutely hate backtracking in games. I will tolerate backtracking if it’s to find new full zones in games. But in this case, you have to go to Zone A to get story progress then go to Zone B where you get a powerup which you need to use again in Zone A to get another piece of story progress to complete Zone B. Absolutely disgusting. I hate you. I want my five hours of life back. You can teleport between areas of the map but for some reason there’s no teleport in Scuttle Town, the hub for the game. Which makes no sense.

But wait! Are we incentivized to to back to these zones? What do we get? Well, magic jam, an item that lets you buy more item skills. But I went through the entire game only really using 2 items once. The fireball you use to break a wood barrier (why there’s a wood barrier, lord knows) and lightning to activate a bomb (required for story). The rest of the time, the pike ball pretty much carried me through the game.

Honestly, the backtracking added so much to the runtime of this game. I wonder if it’s intentional padding.

Oh yeah, let’s go back to the powers thing. So being half-genie you get to transform into aminals throughout the game. It’s the main map exploration gimmick. Now thank goodness the animals are never really used for combat on land, because if they were. Wooh boy I’d be ready to split skulls. Spoiler alert – the final boss of the game is you(r genie half) and you lose your ability to transform for this fight. How retarded would it be to spend the entire game collecting powers, using them, only to lose them for the final fight? That is horrendous game design.

Overall, I found the game more frustrating that enjoyable. I plan to try out the others, but this one is going to be a no from me. I wanted to like it, but I just can’t give this a pass possibly because of the map/power interaction. That’ll be it from me though. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

 

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge [Director’s Cut]

Super Motherload

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Steam

Super Motherload is a… how would I describe it… well it’s a digging game. I guess I’ll just briefly describe the story, mechanics, and my experience.

In Super Motherload you play an Earthling that finds themselves working on behalf of a spooky corporation. You are an independent contractor. Your job – dig minerals out of the Martian underground. I guess Elon Musk saw this game and figured that it was time. As you dig, you receive unusual broadcasts and it’s up to you on how to ‘respond’ to them. And by ‘respond’  I mean  whether or not you’ll dig up the materials required for a quest. This game is literally just digging. When you reach the level where it’s hot and you can meet the devil, you enter a flying minigame + boss battle and then you’re faced with a “moral choice”. You get achievements based on these choices.

They have a few characters to choose from, from what I gathered some have more upgrades than others. You can play with friends, or so I’m told. I have no friends, so I could not test this feature. I can only imagine having four miners on the screen at once, trying to track yours would be a pain. The game is frightfully easy to play. I wound up just digging a straight line down. It takes a bit longer but it’s easier in terms of returning to base, lest you run out of fuel.

Honestly, what sells the game to me is the atmosphere. Unfortunately the atmosphere only seems to be effective on first playthrough, since after you know the triggers and the dialogue, there’s nothing else it has to offer you. The way tone is handled is c’est magnifique. This game could effectively do horror if it tried. The way the dialogue is delivered and the way the music changes is amazing. I was legitimately feeling my hairs stand on end for a good third of the game.

That said, I’m not terribly pleased with the story and its apparent limitations. I think there’s a good experience buried here underneath the surface, but I can’t help but feel there’s a lost potential here. It’s short – took me 2 hours to complete on my first (safe) playthrough. Is it worth its cost? That’s up to you. I personally do not believe that this game is worth too much. Overall – I do recommend the game, barely, but get it cheap if you can. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

 

Super Motherload

Punch Club

Steam Page

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Punch Club is a time-management Boxing Simulator. It’s ridiculous, it’s funny, it and I guess that’s going to set the tone for this review.

You are Hero (that’s the default name anyway). One night, your father gets killed by a man in black with a red eye. You decide to get swole and take revenge. As you do this, you find yourself in a fighting tournament or two that seem to style themselves as “Boxing” but permit kicks, so maybe it’s muay thai. I dunno. I’m a robot that lives in a server room playing video games. Along the way, you become Batman with allusions to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (title image) and Silent Hill (I won’t spoil this one but it’s really dumb and I love it). You find love, you beat up a Russian. You get to participate in mecha fights! (Mecha fights make everything better… ) This game just has so many little jokes and references. It’s amusing.

The game has stylized aesthetics and the music is this Eye of the Tiger remix that is actually pretty good. I made a boxing character because I totally read too much Hajime no Ippo. The game is sufficiently challenging. It took me over 300 (in-game) days to finish the game but I did waste a bunch of days on stuff that I’ll mention later. The fights can get pretty tense as you sit there hoping RNGsus is in your favour but then complain when you repeatedly get knocked out because you have negative stamina. And then you win the fight anyway because your boxing character can do combos that deal over a third the opponent’s health when they actually hit.

The storytelling is… sub-par. It’s not anything to write home about. There’s a main story and a series of substories. These substories do not seem to have much in the way of time limits. I locked myself out a substory by becoming a professional boxer fighter so maybe I should’ve completed it but it’s too late now. The main story has all of the usual tropes that you probably expect in a fighting game. And it has a very poorly written ending. It also kind of fades to black at an improper time.

Unfortunately the game does not seem to be balanced around being an all-around good fighter but rather by specializing in one stat. It tells you so much very early in the game. I would’ve liked for it to reward well-rounded players a little more. I did a hybrid of Power and Stamina, leaving out Agility. Agility determines how accurately you hit. So I have a heavy hitter than always misses. And even with my stamina training, I still found myself running out of stamina all the time. But maybe I’m just bad. Towards the end, the game becomes a bit of a grind and the pacing slows down drastically. Which leads up to the aforementioned poorly timed ending.

The game also does not explain some of the character interaction mechanics so I wound up wasting what must’ve been like 3 weeks trying to fix my friend’s engine so he’d train with me. I actually had to look up what the deal was and apparently the engine never gets fixed, but that the lines that my friend says indicate whether or not I’ve ‘chilled’ with him long enough to get him to train with me. Also, let’s be real here. I was the only one fixing his engine. The lazy SOB never got off the chair.

I do like the game, but I’m sitting on the fence with this one. I give it a pass because I found it amusing, but take this positive review with the grains of salt. It’s probably a toss-up whether or not you find it to be a fun game. Let’s not forget that the most important part of a game is whether or not it’s fun. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Punch Club

Orwell

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Orwell, in a not-so-subtle nod to George Orwell’s criticism of totalitarianism (*CoughCommunismCough*) 1984. I’ve actually read 1984. It’s not bad. It’s not great, and quite frankly I think it’s more of an observation than a story which in my eyes weakens it. It’s also an incredibly quick read so I do recommend you check it out. On a scale of 1-10? Probably a 7. Amusing, but not the best. Slightly better than average.

Anyway, the gameplay of Orwell is unconventional and reminds me greatly of Papers, Please. Which is another game I should write a review on and I do recommend it. In it you scan documents for information and upload this information into a mega-database which contains details on everyone under investigation (at this time). Presumably, Orwell would be expanded to cover all citizens. In the name of peace, surely! Everyone can trust the government to know every detail about them to make sure that they’re entirely safe!

Light Spoiler Warning: Orwell is a narrative, a visual novel of sorts. I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers.

Throughout the course of Orwell you follow the individuals of an organization called ‘Thought’ named after some German poem. Thought is an alleged terrorist organization. Your job is to follow the members of this organization to prevent terrorist activity. The first person you investigate is a woman with blue hair and problem glasses because of course she is. Which now presents us with our question. What scale of authoritarianism would be acceptable in the name of protecting people? As the game progresses, it gets to the point where almost the slightest connection to someone (perhaps eating lunch or seeing a movie together) is grounds for investigation. Authoritarianism seems to have a very tough job reigning itself in from being conventionally oppressive.

You know, I could not help but giggle with glee as I listened to phone calls of people and other people got blamed for things that I did. It was glorious! And it kept happening! I felt no guilt at all for doing my job. Perhaps that’s the point of the game. Thinking.jpg

The art style is… quirky. Not bad. Just quirky. The music is pretty okay too. My (small) gripe (I guess) is how long I had to wait for responses when it came to monitoring calls and SMS. I get that it’s supposed to be realistic, that’s the point. Not really a point against the game, I just felt that it was sometimes a little long.

Overall, excellent game. Quite a nice length for the price ($10 at the time of posting). Of course, cheaper is always better. I think my first playthrough had a run of about 4 hours and there are multiple endings (all of which, I did not explore). It’s a thumbs up from me. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Orwell

Tallowmere

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Tallowmere is a dungeon diving roguelike. A return to basics, maybe. This game features all of your favourite people. We got bitches be spitting mad rhymes, Mike ‘Taze the Rainbow’ Pence, we got Allahu Ackbar, we even got President Donald ‘Grab em by the Pussy’ Trump.

Tallowmere (to my knowledge) is one of those endless games where you just scoreboard whore. Nothing wrong with that, just makes it a timesink rather than an experience. The controls are fairly easy to pick up and it has many ways to challenge players. The weapons you find each have unique controls even if some of them seem absurdly overpowered. I think with the exception of three weapons: the dagger, the club, and the grenade, all attacks home in on enemies and the differences between the weapons are usually how you’re affected as you use them. For example, the ice wand hand a weird range where it won’t angle up or down that much. The rocket launcher has a longer range and a faster projectile, but it knocks you back. Don’t use it next to walls or spikes (I have the achievement you get for suiciding by rocket). The katana has to be my favourite weapon even if I think it’s terrible. When you use it, you teleport to a nearby enemy and you can do this to easily bypass walls and traps. The drawback is, in rooms with large hordes of enemies, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. And when you suddenly die because you didn’t realize you had fallen into a spike pit, it can be annoying. But seeing myself fly across the room killing everything in 1 hit is just sheer delight that whenever I would get bored (usually around floor 50 or 60) I would just suicide using the katana.

Unfortunately, two things play against it. One thing is that you can sacrifice kittens for more health and that’s not okay. I mean, seriously, what the fuck. And you get an achievement for sacrificing all nine. Which I totally only did for SCIENCE! Also because I like to collect achievements.  The second thing (real thing here) that plays against it is that the difficulty curve drops off rather abruptly. After getting some good equipment on floors 1-10 it can become trivially difficult to kill all of the mobs and get better equipment which makes the future floors trivially difficult… The game becomes too easy. And this is why I wind up stopping or suiciding with the katana.

Overall, I think that the game is quite fun to play and well worth a few dollars if you have some hours to spare. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Tallowmere

JumpJet Rex

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I regret to inform you that I write this review without having finished the game. Not for lack effort, but because it’s just not feasible. I’ll go into why later in the review.

JumpJet Rex is a colourful speedrun game about a dinosaur that collects stars to save the universe. Something like that anyway. There are some 30+ delightful little worlds with each type of world (ice, desolate space base, etc.) seeming to have their own little chiptune to go with it. And these are some damn good chiptunes. I bought the game through Chrono GG so it came with the soundtrack and my god was it worth it. Definitely got some workout tunes out of it (should I ever be finish my selection of podcasts). Really, have a listen to some of them. You can also customize the appearance of your dinosaur, 4 elements. Head, skin tone, shoes, jumpjet particles. But that’s dress-up and I don’t find it particularly enjoyable.

In each level you collect rings to unlock the gate. Pass the finish line and you’ve completed it, you earn a star. You can earn up to three stars per level. One for completion, one for not dying, and one for speedrunning. You need to collect some number of stars to unlock the next few levels. Simple enough. I usually settled for completing without dying to grind stars because I only needed to be careful to progress. But some levels are easy to speedrun if you take advantage of checkpoints (and dying). So I took those too. You can also download ghosts within the game of the top players in the world or people near your skill level to see how they do things. So it provides a good improvement tool within the game, well done.

As the game goes on, and certain elements get added to the levels, I saw some SIGNIFICANT frame drops. Like, we’re talking 2 fps frame drops. The culprits seem to be certain environmental objects. Patches of thorns that disburse leaves and these globules that travel up and down. And it became a real pain on a particular boss fight called ‘Seedmour’ in which the level is full of these thorn patches so after maybe a minute of fighting the boss you’d be unable to do anything for several minutes due to the fps drop. Alt-tabbing seemed to help, but I don’t know for sure. That boss fight was a particularly annoying because after dropping the boss’s health to zero you also had to ground-pound it before it got back up and if you happened to be stuck in 2 fps time when that window presented itself… prepare yourself to have to hit it again because there’s no way you’re going to do it in time. And this is why I haven’t finished the game. Because in the later levels this becomes a constant issue and you kinda need the frames in a speedrunning game if you want it to be fun. (I suspect the issue is some kind of garbage collection or object recycling code).

Other than that though, the game is brilliant. Definitely recommend giving it a go. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

JumpJet Rex