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 and the Pirate’s Curse

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Steam

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse picks up where Risky’s Revenge left off, with Shantae still effectively human. The town is getting bulldozed by its Mayor, Ammo Baron (yes, he’s still Mayor) and you decide to stop him. Unfortunately, this is effectively rebellion, so you get a court summons. While under house arrest, you uncover a lead into the revival of the Pirate King and decide to stop it. Who cares about court summons, amirite?

I’ll say outright that Pirate’s Curse is better than Risky’s Revenge. It maintains the quirky design and pleasing aesthetic of the first game.  It decided to go full 2D this time though, so that’s an improvement in my books. The movement feels so much more fluid and the movement options unlocked throughout the game feel better. You get a glide, a dash, and an extra triple jump… which you lose… in the final boss fight… because design decisions.

What I find most amusing is that this game sorta solves the problems of Risky’s Revenge while also adopting some problems that the old problem solved. The backtracking is less insufferable. Might be level design making it a bit more enjoyable to go through them. Luckily the backtracking is mitigated in Pirate mode (unlocked after beating the game once). Honestly, what might have fixed it for me in backtracking might be the addition of a new item called “Pirate’s Flare” which is effectively an escape rope. Tired of a map’s BS? Get out of the labyrinth and flare back to base. Speaking of items, they’ve rebalanced the items to be less broken and now none of them are required to unlock certain areas. Health drops regularly (if you’re killing enemies) and you can use these drops whenever you like instead of immediately.

There are few things more frustrating than entering a screen only to get knocked back because instant dash enemy. Yet here we are. Insufferable stealth section and the climb to the final boss is a series of spike traps that exist purely to try my patience. No enemies. Just spikes. And lord save you if you game ogre there because the save point is not between spike hells but rather at the beginning and at the end. Bring all of the potions.

Let’s talk about the final boss fight. Now in Risky’s Revenge, I didn’t really dock points for the game taking away all of your transformations because they weren’t really used for combat. The time required to dance for them took away from the pacing anyway. However, in this game, most of your upgrades are movement upgrades. Which means you don’t pause to use them and you’ve been using them the entire game. And they were instrumental in spike pit hell because each puzzle room was set up to utilize a specific upgrade. So by the time you’ve gotten to the boss, you’re pretty used to using them like, all the time. You get to use them for phase 1 of the boss. Then the boss takes them away. Then you have to deal with phase 2 with limited movement. Then phase 3 which is phase 2 with some extra patterns. And phase 4 which can be cancer because it’s not the same kind of combat you had been doing all game.

Look, the final boss is a test. A test on all of the skills we’ve obtained up until now. You don’t teach us all of the math required to do the exam and then give us a stinkin’ psychology exam instead of a math exam. That’s completely unfair to the player

But when the game works, it works. Pirate Mode (again, unlocked after playing through the game one) is a great replay option if you’re into that sorta thing. The game is legitimately enjoyable and the characters are as delightful as ever. I’m going to give this game a pass, but not by much. Be prepared. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

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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Steam Page

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

Super Impossible Road

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Steam Page

I write this review as the game is still in Early Access. I say that not because I plan to go easy on the game or something, just as a heads up to those that will consider buying the game. I’ve always maintained that “Early Access” is not an excuse for how good or bad a game is. Once you put it on the marketplace, you’re fair game… in my opinion.

Super Impossible Road is a racing game. There’s really not much to say about racing games in general. You control a ball. You can modify your ball to have the stats that you want it to have but let’s be real here, does anyone ever care enough to min-max perfectly? If you do, please send me a message, I need to know what’s going on in your head.

The tracks have gates on them which fill up your boost bar. Using boost makes your ball go a little faster (obviously). Where this game differs from other racing games that I’ve played is that you can jump off the track to “cheat” your way to finish line faster. That’s why the game’s tagline “Winning is cheating”. Now you can’t just jump off the track and free fall to the finish line for victory. The game would be too easy in that case. Upon leaving the track, you have five seconds to return to the track. If you fail to touch the track in that time, you will automatically respawn at the last boost gate you touched. Which means that you have to be really careful about deciding when to ‘cheat’. Otherwise you may waste up to five seconds. If you see the writing on the wall that you’re not going to make it, you can force respawn early.

The tracks can be fairly complex. At this time, while there are only three ‘tracks’, the tracks are procedurally generated so it’s like having an infinite number of tracks? There’s also a daily track where you can compete with people across the world for the top score.

The game is aesthetically appealing (to me) with that ‘Tron’ feel. I’m not the biggest fan of EDM so there’s only one or two soundtracks that I like but it definitely matches the feel of the game. Excellent job.

While the game does have multiplayer, it seems it only has local multiplayer. Perhaps they will change that as it is still in early access. You can still have CPU racers and you can even race against your ghost. So it has some rudimentary tools.

Anyway, at the time of writing, the game is priced at $12. While I do like the game for what it does, I don’t think it’s worth $12 yet. Do it if you want to support the creators but other than that, I’d wait for it to go on sale or something for $5 or $6. I’m not the biggest fan of racing games so I won’t dump too many hours into it, but in my opinion, it does look promising. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Super Impossible Road