Posts Tagged ‘2.5’

Gex Review

Gex Featured

Gex Boxart

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: 3DO, PC – GOG*, PlayStation, Saturn

Gex is one of those games that seems lost to time. As a child I really dug Gex: Enter the Gecko because of its bright worlds themed off real media (cartoons, horror movies, etc). But never before had I played the original Gex. As it turns out, the entire series seems predicated on the notion of jumping into film/television media parody worlds. It’s a fun concept, although the execution is lacking.

One night while Gex is simply watching TV he gets transported to the TV dimension by some evil being named Rez. Once in the world he traipses though increasingly challenging levels all based around genres and locations for films (horror, kung fu, futuristic). Every 2D stage features copious enemies, collectible golden bugs, and lots of ways to die. Like many early 90s platformers it is far more challenging than it seems! The best aspect is how playing as a gecko lets you do things like climb ceilings and walls with ease.

Gex Featured

The biggest issue with Gex is not the inherent challenge but how out of place it feels now. Gex routinely shouts out “witty” one liners in reference to pop culture from around 1994 (when the game first launched on 3DO). Although some of the jokes and references make sense to me, none are particularly funny regardless. Then there are ones that seem completely nonsensical such as Gex grumpily complaining, “when is Grace Jones gonna retire?” What, pray tell, is wrong with Grace Jones?! Weirdly, many of the same lines were reused for 1998’s Enter the Gecko, and they were probably already stale then.

In all, the framing of Gex proves its most interesting aspect. Having a real reason to adventure through thematically different worlds is kind of neat, and each boss proves cool. Gex himself though is grating and his dialogue is a lazy excuse for actual characterization. The platforming is inspired, but the negatives balance out the positives. Instead of being iconic, Gex is just average.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Review

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Boxart

Developer: Monolith Productions, 3D Realms
Publisher: GT Interactive, Atari
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood might just be a game with the most redundant title around. It also happens to be a classic FPS from the 90s. Well, classic to some. I’d always heard murmurings of Blood alongside Doom and Quake but never got around to playing it myself – until now. I’ll tell you one thing, it certainly lives up to its name.

Of course a game called Blood is full of bloodstained nastiness but is there more to it than that? There’s a storyline, although it doesn’t seem to convey very much of interest. The scenes instead seem focused on showcasing awesome 3D models and lighting (awesome for the time, that is). Once you get beyond that it basically devolves into your standard older-style FPS.

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Areas are all enclosed, although some are much larger than others. Movement is incredibly fast, almost as if the protagonist is wearing roller blades while decimating enemies. Said weapons are brutal although so are enemies. Even on the easiest difficulty the pace of Blood is fast and never lets up. If you can survive then there are a good deal of “episodes” to play. This is further enhanced by both the GOG and Steam versions including the Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage expansion packs.

When compared to other games of the time period I feel that Blood was attempting to thematically outdo other games while maintaining a classic aesthetic. It has a neat Gothic feel at times, sure, but otherwise fails to stand out. Blood: One Unit Whole Blood is one of the many average shooters that have graced PCs over the years.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Crystal Caves Review

Crystal Caves Featured

Crystal Caves Boxart

Developer: Apogee Software
Publisher: Apogee Software
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*

As shameful as it may be to admit, Apogee Software titles were not a part of my youth. Crystal Caves was one of the many game releases by them over the years available in shareware form. The first episode, “The Trouble with Twibbles”, was available for free but episodes 2 and 3 required a purchase. If you buy the game on GOG it comes with all three episodes. How does this collectathon platformer hold up?

Surprisingly well, in fact! At least the first episode does. Crystal Caves’ hero is Mylo, a dude with bright pink clothes and a silly strut. Players navigate him through multiple stages to collect multicolored crystals. Enemies and traps are found in each cave, as well as tricks due to the level layouts themselves. The first chapter isn’t difficult to complete and really amps one up for more adventures.

Crystal Caves Featured

Episode 2 is harder than the first and at times even gets a little annoying. However, with dedication you can blast past it into Episode 3. That’s where it really becomes too much for all but the biggest Crystal Caves fans. At that point the difficulty is cranked up even more. Here things like your limited shots and three hearts get unfairly strained. Luckily, there’s no penalty for death because you’ll die a lot. Somewhere in between these levels it also becomes hard to ignore the precise nature of some jumps.

Crystal Caves is not the prettiest platformer on the block with its garish colors and slapdash monster designs. It’s also disappointing to realize that many of the 47 stages are too difficult for many to complete. Yet, there is an enduring quality about Crystal Caves that makes it enjoyable in small doses. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for a lengthy DOS era platformer.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Gods Will Be Watching Review

Gods Will Be Watching Featured

Gods Will Be Watching Logo

Developer: Deconstructeam
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Gods Will Be Watching was a very hyped game prior to release. This continuation of fanfare from the Indiegogo success was expected, but even those who didn’t pledge freaked out. The general consensus post-launch is that the game delivered was not quite what people expected. Personally, I had no idea what to expect, and jumped right in. This led to a very intense game experience.

The basics of Gods Will Be Watching focus around it being a pixelated point and click adventure game. Players engage in scenarios and then must interact with objects or people and make choices. Each choice seems important because they often mean the difference between life or death for various characters. In a way, it’s similar to Heavy Rain (but we’ll get back to that…). It even has a Catherine-like element where, at the end of every level, you’re shown what choices most other players made.

All of these segments tie together in an overarching narrative which – spoilers – doesn’t appear to have significant differences regardless of what you do. I don’t want to touch on plot specifics because the entire game is crafted around telling said plot, but it end up falling short of its heady notions. The writing itself is nice, but you end up hearing some of the same conversations a lot after failing. It also may try a bit too hard at times for a “gritty” and “serious” narrative.

Gods Will Be Watching Featured

And, yes, you’re going to fail a lot. You cannot save mid stage so any late screwups start you from the beginning of a stage again. This proved to be a horrendous move with a Russian roulette segment early on. After many players complained about the total unfairness of these random elements, the developer added more difficulties. This way, now most players can actually beat it, not just those willing to suffer through countless replays guessing about what to do when.

It seems that Gods Will Be Watching is one of those “love it or hate it” games. I was left feeling nonplussed about the whole thing but appreciate that it tried something different. I’d be very interested to see what Deconstructeam makes next.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pretentious Game Review

Pretentious Game Featured

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Developer: Keybol
Publisher: Bulkypix, Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Armor Games, Steam

Pretentious is a word that many have used to describe the indie game community as of late. To some, video games that attempt to tell depressing, unique, or otherwise non-normative stories are purely seeking attention. They are quite pretentious. Although I don’t agree with the sentiment I was very intrigued to play a game with the gall to call itself Pretentious Game!

Pretentious Game is actually a series of four games (first released as Flash games online) that features simple graphics and gameplay. You play as a square, sometimes two, and platform in a 2D space toward completion. Much of what makes Pretentious Game is how it tweaks the long-established platformer formula.

Pretentious Game Featured

Each stage features a bit of text and this hints directly at how to solve each stage’s “puzzle” aspect. For example, an early stage suggests that flying would be neat. Lo and behold, your block can suddenly glide through the air for that level! Sometimes the hints are a bit more convoluted, as are the methods of activating them, but it still doesn’t take long to run through each one. It took me a little under an hour to beat Pretentious Game 1-4. Each tells its own vignettes and these were more interesting than expected given Pretentious Game’s own title.

Right now there are only four chapters and each is free on Flash game portals. Mobile devices offer the first for free and then ask for an in-app purchase to unlock the rest. In comparison, Steam’s $4.99 fee seems a bit steep. The graphics are improved and you get access to all future chapters, but if you don’t require PC play then mobile’s your best bet.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Farming Simulator Review

Farming Simulator Featured

Farming Simulator Boxart

Developer: Giants Software
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360

I do not long for a farming lifestyle. It seems like an incredible amount effort against increasing odds. Still, I’ve always had a taste for pretending to farm in video games. SimFarm was my first experience with the subject and ended up being a long time favorite. Farming Simulator is a sim I’ve been interested in trying out but never got around to. That is, until the multiplatform console launch.

Farming Simulator is a fairly complex game. That’s why it is highly recommended you check out the multiple tutorials first. Each details how to use various different farm vehicles to tend to crops. Then, you can see how to deposit your crop as well as purchase new seeds from the store. It’s even possible to buy a shiny new truck or livestock! You’ll get all the basics down and then be free to roam.

Farming Simulator Featured

Once in-game, missions will pop up from time to time. Each mission can be accepted or turned down, but you want to accept them whenever possible. The problem I found when taking on new missions was that there was still a lot about Farming Simulator I wasn’t sure of. Where exactly were the buildings that supply crops or livestock? You basically have to commit it to memory since the map doesn’t actually show the names of buildings. As this is a farm we’re dealing with, there is a lot of space to cover to check on buildings. You can quickly warp to different vehicles but you don’t really want one always parked by an important store because then you’d never be able to take it out and use it!

It’s also one heck of a rough-looking title. At least the game is about farming and not something that would require fancier graphics. The GUI is also a bit mucky, although it does have one important feature. The top of the screen shows what button presses can be used within a vehicle. This is necessary because controls vary from vehicle to vehicle, because they each have different jobs to perform.

Farming Simulator can manage to be a fun, zen-like experience but players must be invested enough to get to that point. I was somewhere in the middle. It’s neat to manage my own farm but less so when everything has such a leisurely pace. I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Deadfall Adventures Review

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Deadfall Adventures

Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: PC – GamersGate, Steam Xbox 360

In film’s long history, there has never been as humorous and attractive an archaeologist as Indiana Jones. But what about when it comes to games? Well, we could consider Lara Croft and Nathan Drake as riffs on the formula, but neither is exactly the same. Deadfall Adventures attempts to create a new iconic figure with James Lee Quatermain as he embarks on a journey to find a relic known as The Heart of Atlantis.

The story is pretty predictable, with hammy lines and characters. It seems the developers created it with this in mind as an attempt to create a plainly fun experience. As it turns out, the action-adventure FPS isn’t bad, but it’s not the next must have title either. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the features injected to make it “more” than a standard FPS add a little bit.

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Mainly, there are puzzles and treasures to find when not in the midst of firefights. Puzzles range from completely easy to ones that might make players think a bit. But only a little (at least on easy or normal puzzle difficulty). Deadfall Adventures has an included hint system via James’ notebook so you’re never completely stranded. As for treasures, they seem inconsequential until you realize they’re used as currency for player upgrades. Stopping the task at hand to doggedly search a location for treasure is not particularly fun, considering how hard they hide the pieces at times.

FPS segments themselves work but not in a way we’ve never seen before. They’re mostly average, but a few drag on longer than they need to thanks to undead enemy types. Mummies end up appearing a lot to hinder progress and they’re actually immortal – unless you shine light on them. The player is always equipped with a flashlight but seeing an enemy burn up into bits is only cool the first few times. After that, it’s a little annoying to not be able to simply take them down the same as other enemies.

Deadfall Adventures Screenshot

Where the game shines most is in the visual department. It looks good and makes sure to showcase a variety of interesting locales. Considering how the game brings you to locations such as Egyptian and Mayan temples, it would be a total shame if the graphics weren’t up to par. Non-human enemies were also given interesting designs, which is much appreciated. The same can’t be said for James and his gruff, stubble-faced self, unfortunately.

Still, it is interesting to see a game come out that isn’t simply iterating on what has already existed in spades. There aren’t many games that feature treasure hunting  and definitely few FPS titles that include a sizable amount of puzzles. What it comes down to is Deadfall Adventures being a strangely unexciting experience. Overall, Deadfall Adventures wasn’t my cup of tea but it deserves credit for being different.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Nicole Review

Nicole Bachelors

Nicole Logo

Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Platform: PC – Direct

Things were supposed to be going great for Nicole. She has just entered her ideal college and is excited to begin her law studies. Her roommate is kind, the school has high standing, and there are copious amounts of cute boys on campus. There’s just one problem… The campus has been the site of three college student abductions. Although each was discovered safely days after, with no memory of their time away, it’s a severely creepy crime that has left the campus with a worrisome atmosphere.

At the beginning, Nicole wants nothing more than to keep these fears at arm’s length. She focuses on classes and making friends, which is where the meat of gameplay comes in. Players must work to increase Nicole’s various stats. They don’t have much bearing on her school performance, but are instead useful for romancing a guy (if you want to). Each fellow is receptive to a certain stat and, if you can figure it out, then he’ll be putty in your hands! It’s not too hard to tell what stats work with who – you just base it off personality. She can even get a few jobs to earn some spending money.

Nicole Screenshot 1

For all this normalcy, Nicole just can’t leave the disappearances alone. One other stat to take care of is based around conducting an investigation into them on your own. You actually don’t have to discover who is behind it to finish the game, but you’ll want to. Be sure to increase your clue stat to maximum! You’ll also want to have a guy in tow to get the best ending possible. With a handful of variation in end states there are ten endings possible to achieve.

Unfortunately, the receptive bachelors are not particularly endearing. There’s a jock who loves to verbally harass Nicole whenever she’s around. It hardly makes you want to cozy up to the guy. Then there’s a smart science guy, who could be cool, until his personality turns… Perhaps the easiest character to get along with is a “nerd” who obsesses over a Tumblr-like site. Maybe that’s just me, but at least he wasn’t a complete asshole. In any case, there are four guys to romance. You’ll get to increase relationships via choosing dialogue although you can also buy presents for your favorite.

Although the overarching story is enjoyable, it could have handled a tad more editing. There are times that events are described with such detail that it’s just mundane (do we really need to know the subtleties of how Nicole sets up and uses her browser?). Also, despite being a story about college-aged youths, there are some really antiquated flourishes in the text department. This isn’t for one character in particular, but the writing overall. Other times, it is spruced up with more current terminology.

Nicole Screenshot 2

Despite my issues, I still wanted to see Nicole through to the end. I also really wanted to nab my guy of choice. This was definitely aided by the lovely character art. Everyone is given a great amount of detail and even have different outfits to wear. If only more could have been done with hairstyles so each guy didn’t have a similar mop of hair. CGs are also lovely but there are only a few included.

Play Nicole if you’re looking for some mystery alongside romance. Even if I felt most of the guy choices were icky, at least one or two of the four dateable options are nice. It’s a game that will also last a few hours as you play through Nicole’s first semester of college. In all, it might not be the best showing for an otome game but there was definite effort put into making this a polished product, so give it a look! There’s a free demo of Nicole available on Winter Wolves’ site to see if it’s a game you’ll enjoy.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Ethan: Meteor Hunter Review

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

Ethan - Meteor Hunter Logo

Developer: Seaven Studio
Publisher: Seaven Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG* PS3 – PSN

Platformers are a lot of fun but it can be hard to dig through the piles of samey stuff to get to innovative games in the genre. The issue gets compounded once you realize that some of the innovations made don’t improve the existing formula. Ethan: Meteor Hunter is one such game that attempts to tweak things with a neat mechanic. But does it work?

In Ethan: Meteor Hunter, you must venture through a ton of levels as a little mouse. Yes, that cute rodent is Ethan, and he’s searching for meteorite fragments scattered around the environment. These serve primarily as collectibles as you try to grab each one on every stage. But there’s more to Ethan than his anthropomorphic ways. He also has the power to stop time and manipulate objects in the environment.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

How does this play out? Oftentimes, you’ll come across boxes and other items which block the way. At their easiest, all you have to do is move them aside. The difficulty progresses and requires more careful movements, sometimes interacting with other items on the screen. You might even have to make Ethan jump, pause, and move objects to keep him safe when he lands. It’s all very interesting, although it escalates in difficulty faster than might be expected.

But is there much beyond these powers to help Ethan: Meteor Hunter stand out? Unfortunately, there’s not much. The graphics are serviceable, but seem perhaps too “serious” for a game with a cute mouse lead. The music is pretty cool, although it also clashes a little with the game. Even though there are interesting pause/manipulation mechanics in play, the rest of the experience still feels like a standard platformer. It’s not bad, but not exceptional either. Still, it is exciting to see a new developer trying to do something different. Hopefully they’ll continue to push forward with changing gameplay mechanics with their future titles.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Eleusis Review

Eleusis Featured

Eleusis Boxart

Developer: Nocturnal works
Publisher: Nocturnal works
Platform: PC – DesuraDirect, GamersGateSteam

If you’re anything like me, then Eleusis might strike you as an odd name. The game itself (judging by just screenshots) could also seem to be like any number of other horror games out there. However, these initial assessments sell the game short. It is nothing like the world of Slender copycats nor Amnesia. It takes a very different path, even if they all share a few gameplay elements in common.

In Eleusis, you’re given a very basic setup. After receiving a letter to visit your mother, your journey is stopped by a rock slide on the only road. Having your car stuck in the middle of the night is quite an unfortunate situation, thankfully, you find a town nearby and hope someone there can help you. The only problem is the town seems completely abandoned… Until you hear a scream.

While playing it was hard to shake the feeling that this felt far more like a classic adventure game than modern jump scare horror. Yes, it has attractive and ominous graphics, but the gameplay doesn’t necessarily tread far from old roots. What this means is that puzzles mainly consist of finding the right objects and using them when needed. Oftentimes, there are keys hidden which unlock the doors you need to head through. This is all pretty simple, at least, although finding objects can often be difficult.

Eleusis Featured

The difficulty stems from the fact that there’s just a lot of stuff the player can interact with. About 80% of it is useless, but the other 20% will be items worth investigating or provide objects necessary to finish the game. If you ever skip something, you can go back and find it, but it might take a while considering there are a lot of places to look. Wandering too often gets annoying so try to keep you eyes peeled throughout the duration of Eleusis.

So what is that differentiates this game from the pack? Primarily, it’s due to a focus more on discovery rather than running and hiding all the time. However, another neat aspect of the game (and its plot) is revealed by the title. Eleusis is the name of a town in Greece where the “Eleusinian Mysteries” took place. This was a yearly ceremony instigated by a cult and, well, if you research it a little you’ll see the parallels between these ancient ceremonies and the game.

Mainly, the only issues lie with the title being short-ish and a bit of an item hunt. Beyond that, Eleusis is a creepy adventure game that pulls from a very interesting facet of ancient Greek history. This is a game best for those who are tired of playing copycat, half-finished horror titles which keep getting published.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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