Posts Tagged ‘episodic’

ef – the latter tale Review

ef - the latter tale Featured

Ef - the latter tale Boxart

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

Playing ef – the first tale was an unexpectedly emotional experience for me. The twenty something hour visual novel was interesting and a far more heartfelt story than most games of the genre ever muster up. As such, I was very excited to see what would follow in ef – the latter tale. If you’ve already played and enjoyed the first, then this one must definitely be played. It somehow manages to surpass its already excellent forebearer.

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Broken Age Act 1 Review

Broken Age Featured

Broken Age Boxart

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – Steam

Once upon a time, point and click adventure games were king. Then something happened – shooters became popular. With shooters, and many other genres, video games were pushed further, with more interactivity and better graphics. The point and click games of yore fought on, but fell out of favor with most people over the years. Then, Telltale Games made waves with The Walking Dead and the genre was cool again. Finally, innovative developer Double Fine ran a Kickstarter for a new adventure game and garnered an amazing 3.3 million bucks. It appeared adventure games were no longer dead.

Finally, the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter has borne fruit via Broken Age. However, only Act 1 is available right now, with the second act still being worked on. So what can be said about a game that was so tremendously anticipated by many? It likely won’t live up to your expectations. That doesn’t make it a bad game, of course! Well, let’s get into this review already.

Broken Age is split into two halves. One is the story of a young woman named Velouria (shortened to “Vella”) and a teenage boy named Shay. Players choose which story to begin with and jump right in. Although it is possible to swap between them at any time, it doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. It’s easiest to just play one story first and then go for the other, which is what I did. Vella’s part appears the longer, and much more interesting, half.

Broken Age Screenshot 1

Vella’s story starts as something called a Maiden Feast is about to start. It is quickly revealed that the town fears a  huge monster named Mog Chothra and that the only way to sate it is by offering up the best girls of the village. Unfortunately, Vella was chosen to take part. Unlike the others who all seek to be eaten, Vella recognizes the inherent wrongness of the situation and wants to fight back! Along her journey she meets many characters and solves a good deal of puzzles, although almost all of them could hardly be considered puzzles.

Shay has a completely different life. He lives by himself in a space station with only a sentient, overly-watchful computer and machines to interact with. For all intents and purposes, his world is a foil of Vela’s. Instead of the looming fear of death, he is protected completely from any and all danger. Shay’s life of repetitive nonsense is interrupted one day and finally his story starts to become interesting. Unfortunately, there are even less puzzles in this section and even less characters to meet.

One of the most exciting things about adventure games is the witty and intriguing characters you’ll come across while playing. Many point and click games fail in this respect, but since Tim Schafer was at the helm here, most expected something great. Somehow, Broken Age manages to not be that funny. The writing is good, but it doesn’t feel all that special in most cases. It seems like personalities are very subdued, when they exist at all. Thankfully, the voice acting is phenomenal which makes it so that listening to dialogue is never a chore.

Broken Age Screenshot 2

The most impressive aspect of the game is the visuals. Simply, this is one incredible-looking title. The art style makes everything seem like you’re watching a pretty picture book come to life. Animations are smooth, if sometimes repetitive, and help bring the experience to life. Locations have a great sense of design and fit with the themes of Vella and Shay’s stories. If I had to guess where a lot of the Kickstarter money went, I’d say it went into art.

As was hinted at earlier, though there are a lot of puzzles, most aren’t particularly difficult. Some players have lamented this point but it doesn’t seem bad to me. This is an adventure game being marketed to a massive audience – many of whom probably have never played a classic adventure game. Making puzzles as easy as possible keeps players moving and free of frustration. Just know that if your enjoyment of point and click games comes from intriguing puzzles that Broken Age will not scratch that itch.

All in all, Broken Age offers a meandering first half of an experience that becomes interesting right near the end. The story ends just as things start to get interesting and there’s no specific date for when we’ll get to play act 2. As gorgeous as the game is, there seems to be a distinct lack of personality. By that I mean the characters are mostly transparent task givers rather than true “characters” in the sense of being memorable. Perhaps we’ll see that change in the second half. Mostly, I just want to see how this story resolves itself. I’ve got my theories about what will happen, but we must all wait on Double Fine to see how everything turns out.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Doorways: Chapter 1 & 2 Review

Doorways Featured

Doorways Boxart

Developer: Saibot Studios
Publisher: Saibot Studios
Platform: PC (Desura, Steam)

In the past year or so, it seems that many indie developers have been doing nothing more than riding off the successful formula of Slender. Although the Slender Man mythos itself follows a whole host of “serial stalker” tropes to begin with, many developers have latched onto the design as if it were the only way to make a horror title. Of course, it’s not, and we have a whole history of games within the genre to prove it. I say all this because Doorways does not follow that safe (and frankly, tiring) path and instead charts its own course toward creepiness.

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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Season One Review

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Featured

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Boxart

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Platform: Mobile – iOS, PC – GOG*, Steam, etc

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is an episodic point and click adventure series which just concluded its first season. It took Phoenix Online Studios about a year to pump out all four episodes, but now that it has concluded we can finally assess how the full product stands against adventure gaming competition.

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