Posts Tagged ‘4.0’

Appointment with F.E.A.R. Review

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Appointment with F.E.A.R. Logo

Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DirectSteam

The Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks began in the early 80s where legions of readers picked them up. Unfortunately, I missed out on this whole world of gamebooks until discovering Tin Man Games. Their digital renditions are tremendously enjoyable, especially Appointment with F.E.A.R. which is a video game version of the 1985 book.

Players begin by crafting a hero to play as. Customization options aren’t immense, but you can select between two genders, races, outfit colors, and superhero skill set. Each superpower tweaks how you’ll be able to react to situations that arise during the storyline. Because you’ll very likely have to play through more than once you’ll be able to see how different heroes handle issues.

Since Appointment with F.E.A.R. is basically a digital book it shares a lot of common ground with typical visual novels. The story is presented via text and there are many points where players choose between a few decisions. All the art is also comic book-inspired which definitely makes the presentation more dynamic. Unlike most visual novels, fights also break out. At this point you select attacks and try to whittle down the enemy’s HP before running out yourself. Weirdly, one fight I encountered glitched out leaving me with 0 HP and stuck in the scene.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. Featured

The storyline is typical comic fare with an evil group, F.E.A.R., planning something diabolical. Your entire goal is to find clues throughout the city in order to find their headquarters and meeting time before it’s too late. With only three days to accomplish this you likely won’t win the first time. Thanks to the enjoyable writing and variety of choices it’s not painful to replay. In fact, it’s tremendously fun to explore new areas or see what would happen if you chose differently.

Some may notice that Appointment with F.E.A.R. is cheaper on mobile platforms than PC. If you don’t mind the mode of play, then mobile is a bargain! However, the Steam version offers nice benefits too via controller support, achievements, and trading cards. Controller supportworks, but a little spotty. During a playthrough my game suddenly stopped showing controller prompts (which highlights a currently selected option). So far it seems Tin Man Games is quickly responding to bugs with patches, at least.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. is a fantastic, goofy superhero adventure that will last you at least two hours to finally beat. Play it via whatever platform you desire and you shouldn’t be disappointed.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Eidolon Review

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Developer: Ice Water Games
Publisher: Ice Water Games
Platform: PC – DirectSteam

Eidolon is perhaps the mellowest game I’ve played this year. The premise is simple enough. You’re all alone in a wooded landscape. With nothing on your person, the only thing to do is explore and survive. During your travels you come upon berries, animals, and letters. While the former keep you alive, the latter fuel your journey. After all, it suggests there are others out there somewhere if you just keep looking!

The game initially appealed to me because it seemed a mix of Gone Home and Proteus. Of course, that reductive way of looking at it does Eidolon a disservice. Unlike either of those, I found myself immediately hooked to this calm, beautiful post-apocalyptic landscape. Trees, bushes, and animals are simple polygons but this look definitely works. The way Ice Water Games utilized color particularity is something to behold.

Eidolon Featured

Understanding Eidolon in even a simple sense requires spending time with it. At first you might jump off a cliff only to find it seriously wounds you. For me, my beginning was trashed due to walking straight up to a bear. Unlike other games where I don’t care much for health, I wanted to do everything in my power to stay alive (and safe) here. Eventually I learned to pay attention to nature – particularly birds. Although there is much more that could be said about the game’s mechanics it would spoil the pleasure of working them out yourself.

Although you don’t have to find and read the many notes scattered about this massive landscape it adds another layer to the experience. Being drawn to the story helps add “purpose” to the game where others might not see it. With that said, simply wandering around in Eidolon has become a favorite new method of unwinding for me. I invite others out there to enter this gorgeous digital landscape and uncover its secrets.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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The Room Review

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Developer: Fireproof Games
Publisher: Fireproof Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

In 2012, The Room launched on iOS and quickly gained attention. There was something about this puzzle game that attracted players. Without access to an iOS device, I sat dejected and waited for an eventual Android port. And yet, when that came, my attention was elsewhere. It is only now, with the Steam release, that I’ve finally gotten to spend time with The Room.

I think it was well worth the wait. The Room begins in a room with a large, ornate box at the center. There’s a letter on top of the box which is more than a bit cryptic and taunts the player into action. Can you solve the puzzles of this box and whatever lies within it? As such, you set to work by examining every keyhole, button, and doodad in hopes of figuring out its mysteries.

This puzzle game keeps things fresh by providing a host of puzzles all across the box. Once you solve them all then it’s time to move onto a new chapter. With new features of the mechanism to solve your brain is constantly being stressed to solve every last aspect. Many puzzles just require paying attention. Some require a bit more thought, though they rarely become a huge annoyance. If so, there’s a hint function available to save players from stressing out. Personally, I felt quite comfortable with the difficulty setting and imaginative puzzle types.

The Room Featured

The biggest difference between The Room’s mobile beginnings and Steam release are the visuals. Now every facet of the mysterious box looks absolutely stunning. Puzzles have also been tweaked to suit mouse controls. Still, a few puzzles felt obviously geared toward touch screen functionality. For example, one puzzle requires the player to click and drag for a fair bit of time to solve it. If you let up for even a second then the puzzle resets. It would be much easier to accomplish this constant “dragging” by touch controls.

The Room on PC costs $3 more than its smartphone brethren. If beautiful graphics are of most importance to you then it’s definitely worth the additional fee. However, if you don’t mind and want the best puzzle interactivity then it really seems mobile is the way to go. In either case, The Room is a great puzzle game. I wish it didn’t end so soon.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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RUSH Review

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Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Platform: PC – Steam

Puzzle games are both my favorite and least favorite genre. There are always excellent titles to choose from, but some just end up being too convoluted. I wasn’t sure what to expect from RUSH since people don’t really talk about it… After playing it for hours I don’t understand how it was overlooked.

RUSH starts off simply. The basic gameplay concept boils down to making colored blocks reach a destination of the same color. Each block moves across a 3D cube surface and its path is controlled by signs. Signs allow players to make them move up, down, left, right, pause, and the like. If a block hits a wall it will always turn right and continue trekking along.

Tutorials explain all these rules of block locomotion. As you progress through other puzzles harder difficulties eventually open up. Puzzles are a ton of fun because each has its own design with the 3D cubes. Some look like mazes and one even looked like a big crocodile head! I really enjoyed the simple visual aesthetic of the game. Unfortunately, there is no zoom function so sometimes the camera can’t be placed just where you need it.

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The soundtrack in RUSH is phenomenal. It sounds like nothing I’d ever expect from a puzzle game which makes it all the more memorable. Perhaps jamming to the tracks helps my mind better process puzzles? In any case, when something is tough just call upon a hint or two. One hint option shows whether signs are in the right spot or not. The second hint does that but also highlights where additional signs must go. Of course, it’s up to you to decipher which signs specifically go where.

Playing RUSH is not without moments of frustration but fun definitely overpowers it. A few tweaks could have made the game even greater but as it stands more people simply must nab RUSH.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike

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Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike

Developer: Hippomancer
Publisher: Hippomancer
Platform: PC – Steam

Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike is a brand new video game with the heart of something released in the early 90s. All you have to do is look at one crude screenshot and nearly believe this is lost FPS shovelware. If you can get past the ridiculous visuals, there is one heck of a compelling game to dig into.

As the name implies, Rogue Shooter combines retro 3D FPS stylings with roguelike elements. These include randomly generated levels, a perk system, restart upon death, destructable weapons and armor, and tough bunches of enemies. As you progress through the 100 floors (50 on easy), you’ll check out a wide variety of weapons. Some are pretty average while others, such as a gun that shoots out goofy dogs, verge on the hilarious.

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Although all perks are deleted after a death, there is an overarching upgrade system that carries over between playthroughs. You can use it to increase health, attack power, and inventory slots. Getting enough points for these upgrades takes a while but the fun gameplay makes accumulating enough intel manageable.

If you did not enjoy games like the original DOOM, Quake, or even knock-offs like Chex Quest then Rogue Shooter isn’t likely to please you either. However, it doesn’t exist to simply cash in on nostalgia. Playing is tremendously fun once you get accustomed to retro elements such as no ability to aim your gun up or down. I wholeheartedly recommend this oddball game to anyone who harbors a crush on 3D FPS games of yesteryear or unique roguelikes.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f Review

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Developer: SEGA, Crypton Future Media
Publisher: SEGA
Platform: PSN – PS3, Vita

It’s a joy to see Hatsune Miku slowly, but surely, becoming fully recognized in North America. Heck, she’s even opening for Lady Gaga! The best part, however, is that we’re getting Project Diva games published here now. I already played Project DIVA F on PS3 last year and loved it, but I wanted to see if its handheld counterpart was an even better experience.

Like any other rhythm game, you press buttons to the beat of the music in Project DIVA f. There are also moments where you must swipe either the front or back touchscreens. With faster songs and higher difficulties, swiping quickly enough feels almost impossible, especially with the fact that they are sometimes not recognized. In any case, the more accurate you are with your timing, the better your score.

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Paired with a selection of over 30 catchy tracks, Project DIVA f‘s main gameplay will have you hooked. It can get really crazy and demand your utmost attention and reflexes, but it sure as hell feels good to do well on that super difficult song that you’ve had trouble with for so long.

When you want to take a break from the main portion of Project DIVA f, you can interact with Hatsune Miku and the other Vocaloids in their rooms. This includes dressing them up, giving them gifts, and redecorating. It’s oddly satisfying.

Other modes include Edit Mode and Portrait Mode. Edit Mode allows you to create your own music videos, which is sure to please creative folks out there. Portrait Mode, on the other hand, lets you take photos of Miku in your environment.

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Having played both versions of Project DIVA f, I can safely say that I vastly prefer the Vita version. Although it’s lovely seeing Miku dance and sing on a large television screen, the gameplay feels much more suited to a handheld platform.

Why choose Project DIVA f over other rhythm games? Well, its appeal lies heavily in the Vocaloid franchise. So, if you’re not interested in Hatsune Miku and her friends, you’re probably better off skipping over Project Diva f. But for those of you that are fans, even just a little bit… Definitely add it to your gaming library and help show support for Miku in the states!


Pink Score: 44 out of 5 alpacas


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Euro Truck Simulator 2 Review

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Euro Truck Simulator 2 Boxart

Developer: SCS Software
Publisher: SCS Software
Platform: PC – AmazonDirect, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Humble StoreSteam

Thanks to a continuous deluge of them on Steam, many gamers are tremendously annoyed with simulation games. Getting into extreme minutia such as Munich Bus Simulator and Warehouse and Logistics Simulator, well, it is easy to see why such distaste exists. Euro Truck Simulator 2 blended into that lot for me until I finally played it. Then I realized that this is not just a dull budget release but an excellent game overall.

As you might guess, the game is focused on driving through the European continent in a big truck. You’re a trucker who takes on the missions of others and can even run their own company. To start with players can only tow newbie cargo for lower prices, but eventually you level up to transport fragile and dangerous materials.

Much of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is spent on the road between destinations. If you need your gameplay fast and exciting then run away now. Everything about this experience is slow but it works well. I’m someone who has always enjoyed simply “touring” games such as Grand Theft Auto and obeying the traffic laws. Doing so here is expected (unless you want to get ticketed all the time).

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Featured

Only this time, all the minutia I’ve always wanted to live out my mundane driving fantasies are available here. There are windshield wipers, turn signals, headlights, and more on every truck that players have total control over. Many won’t find this exciting but this is just the kind of simulated features my interests trend toward.

My inaugural drive with the game lasted five straight hours. That says something, especially when my average gameplay sessions typically last an hour. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is such a simple concept and is executed near to perfection.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Cho Dengeki Stryker Review

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Developer: OVERDRIVE
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*

Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that tells the story of a young boy named Yuuki Yamato and his unyielding desire to be a hero. Thanks to some extremely strange circumstances, h gets his wish and the superhero Dengeki Stryker comes to life. Cho Dengeki Stryker is the ultimate version of the game as it adds on new chapters to fully flesh out the story. If you’ve never played Dengeki Styrker then check out our review. This review is focused purely on the new content. Interested players can purchase Cho Dengeki Stryker as either a patch or complete game depending on their needs.

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Moebius: Empire Rising Review

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Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform: PC – DirectGamersGate, GOG*, Steam

In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery Game X (which was later revealed as a Gabriel Knight remake). I backed the project because of my longstanding love for her work and waited impatiently. We’re finally at that point. Moebius: Empire Rising has launched and it does not disappoint.

Malachi Rector is an antiques dealer with more than just a keen eye for detail. For reasons unknown, he has incredible powers of deduction that allow him to “see” things not apparent to normal people. Because of his talent, his antiques business is quite successful, but there’s not much else to his life. This changes once Malachi gets wrapped up in a very unusual murder and subsequent investigation.

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A mysterious government agency takes him in and asks him to comply with very strange requests. They want to use his power to match living people with the historical figures their biographies most mirror. Both Malachi and the player are initially in the dark, but agree to the request. Even if you’re not a history buff you’ll leave Moebius with a great deal of new information thanks to an interesting puzzle system.

Most of the game plays as a standard point and click adventure. From a third person perspective you click on objects to look and interact with them. Inventory is kept in check to keep it from getting unwieldy, and there’s always the option to look at hints if you get stuck. Where Moebius diverges from the crowd is in asking you to identify characters as people from the past. After gathering clues about their lives, you sort through a list of pre-determined historical names to see which is the best match. In doing so, you get a huge dose of information about these people and their contributions to society, whether positive or negative. It’s not all based in “literal” history either as names like Medea make an appearance.

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One of the most exciting aspects of Gabriel Knight for me was always the amount of history intertwined in the storyline. Moebius attempts the same goals although I feel it doesn’t do so with quite as much tact. Yes, the storyline revolves around it, but you are still “taught” a lot directly through the identification puzzles.

As has always been the case, any game involving Jane Jensen has stunning backdrops. In this specific instance, areas appear hand drawn and are expertly designed. Colors are bright or dulled as need be and bring locations to life. Unfortunately, the character models do betray their gorgeous setting somewhat. Mostly, that’s thanks to the incredibly off animations on display. Malachi shambles weirdly around, stopping and going with no regard for actual human movement. Eventually you get over it and stop noticing (at least I did) but it was an unfortunate note to start off on.

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All of that is fine and good, but what of the story? Moebius was anticipated for a reason and it should stand proudly as another great tale by Jane Jensen. Malachi has a dry wit that endears us to him and the other characters have wonderfully distinct personalities as well. The way the story intertwines between everyone is intriguing and urged me to continue playing despite sleep, work, and other tasks. On the rare occasion I got stuck in a puzzle, it would frustrate me primarily because that meant I couldn’t yet get to the next part of the story.

Adventure fans who have been waiting for this game should feel secure in purchasing it immediately. Moebius offers an immensely engaging story, great characters, and a neat mechanic. There are points where it stumbles but they can mostly be forgiven. It’s a shame the package couldn’t be a bit more polished, but even then Moebius: Empire Rising still shines through as a must-have title.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Actual Sunlight Review

Actual Sunlight Featured

Actual Sunlight Boxart

Developer: Will O’Neill
Publisher: Will O’Neill
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam

Depression is difficult to comprehend for anyone not suffering from it. Even those who live with depression can find it incredibly difficult to pin down in any certain terms. Despite being an affliction that people all over the world suffer from, many even fail to recognize it as a real issue. It’s likely some with that mindset will somehow stumble onto Actual Sunlight. Perhaps playing the game will shift perceptions.

Actual Sunlight stars Evan Winters. He is not a spry, spiky-haired teen nor a grizzled marine as per gaming conventions. He sits somewhere in the middle as a dejected, completely average guy. Every day he heads to work in an office with people who he either dislikes, or likes, but they don’t return those feelings. If you’ve ever felt alone or like a loser then try and amplify that many magnitudes over. Then maybe you’ll have the slightest inkling of how he feels.

Actual Sunlight Featured

Evan is down and painfully so. Playing the game basically involves interacting with nearby objects and people, most of which gets Evan to discuss the item in question. Usually, this results in spiteful comments about himself or others. Sometimes darkly humorous, it’s easy to see that he’s far from a healthy mental state. Regardless of what he says the reader is left with a tangible feeling of hopelessness. As the game progresses you can see as daily life pushes him further down.

Actual Sunlight tells this story primarily through Evan’s thoughts and the brief discussions he has with others. Interestingly, the visuals recall retro RPGs, with a top-down perspective and NPCs milling about. However, beyond interacting with the surroundings there’s little traditional gameplay to speak of. I’m much more compelled to call this a visual novel, despite the direct control scheme.

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Lately there have been games launching that focus on telling a story directly from the creator – likely sharing very personal details. If that’s not your cup of tea then that’s a shame because you’re missing out. It was hard to play Actual Sunlight to completion, even though it took only an hour. I ached, perhaps for Evan, but in part for my own lived experiences. I was compelled to see how Evan’s plight would play out. I wanted to hear his thoughts and experience second-hand what that kind of life was like for him. Because the narrative doesn’t offer some sort of sappy conclusion it felt all that more real.

I couldn’t care less about droll storylines that get pumped out in games continuously because they impart no emotional impact. Games like Actual Sunlight need to continue hitting the scene. Maybe we’ll eventually see other developers test the waters.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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