Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Ray Gigant Review

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Ray Gigant Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: acttil
Platform: PlayStation Vita

Having recently played Stranger of Sword City, I was ecstatic about Ray Gigant. Finally, Experience would be trying something new! A battle system that’s quick but encourages varied fighting and skill trees to differentiate characters and roles. In many ways, it’s intriguing for the very fact that it breaks out of the standard Wizardry mold. Every change could have lead to an amazing RPG, but unfortunately Ray Gigant feels like a collection of sophomore mistakes.

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Stranger of Sword City Review

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Stranger of Sword City Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

You awake among the rubble of a plane crash, seemingly the sole survivor, and find yourself lost within unfamiliar ruins. As you make your way out, you learn that you were transported to an unknown location known as Escario, the Sword City – a city beset by monsters. Facing a deadly wyvern, you are saved by a strange young woman. She, too, has been warped to this land, and takes you to meet others that have experienced the same thing. So begins your journey in Stranger of Sword City. Read more »

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Review

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Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo SPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS

A lot of people never played a Fire Emblem game before Awakening released. I was one of those people. And if you’re thinking, “I bet she just decided to play it because of the waifus!!” then you’re mostly right. I absolutely loved the matchmaking and children aspect that Awakening featured (not to mention FREDERICK!). However, I did also end up immensely enjoying the strategy gameplay that Awakening offered, though veterans of the series might say it is a step down compared to previous entries. SRPGs always terrified me, but Awakening was an excellent entry point for people just like me. Read more »

Steven Universe: Attack the Light Review

Steven Universe Attack the Light Featured

Steven Universe Attack the Light Logo

Developer: Grumpyface Studios
Publisher: Cartoon Network
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As fantastic as RPGs are, many folks simply don’t have time to play them. They’re long, full of grinding, and sometimes the battle mechanics are more complex than necessary. Steven Universe: Attack the Light distills the turn-based RPG formula into something short, and immediately enjoyable. This is true even if you haven’t watched the show, though existing fans are the target audience.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light positions players in control of a four character party – Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven. Each offers their own attacks and special skills, while Steven serves primarily as support. Fights themselves take inspiration from Paper Mario wherein timing touchscreen presses lends to stronger attacks from your team or weakened hits from enemies. As a fan of Paper Mario it was news of this mechanic which urged me to give the game a download (despite having not watched a single episode of Steven Universe at that point!).

Steven Universe Attack the Light Featured

With that said, even at the price of $2.99 it’s obvious this isn’t as expansive a product. Each dungeon is quick and story interludes are incredibly brief, serving more as dressing than anything else. My biggest complaint is simply that I don’t know what device Steven Universe: Attack the Light is made for. On tablet, the wide distance between areas you’re meant to touch is cumbersome. On smartphones, the radial attack menu is quite small and imprecise. Basically, the game presents a literal strain on my hands after a chunk of playtime when compared to others.

Despite my frustration with the game’s interface, the actual RPG play is easily enjoyable. If not for my troubles I would have blown through chapters far quicker! If you’re looking for a simple RPG to play on the go this is a fine option. Finally, if you’re opposed to paid products, Steven Universe: Attack the Light is a much better proposition than those free games littered with ads and confusingly labeled in-app purchases.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Review

Letter Quest Grimm's Journey Featured

Letter Quest Grimm's Journey Logo

Developer: Digerati Distribution
Publisher: Bacon Bandit Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DirectSteam

Words rule. As someone who writes all the time it makes sense that I’ve got at least a passing interest in the English language. That’s why games like Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey appeal to me most. It’s an RPG of sorts completely focused around Scrabble-like mechanics. You’re provided a small selection of letters and must create words with them in a short period of time. The bigger the word, or the rarer letters used (Q, X, etc) and little Grimm will release a stronger attack! Yes, the concept is simple, but quite effective.

Each stage is quite small and features Grimm walking from left to right in a cartoony 2D world. Firing off a word uses up your turn, although players can choose to utilize potions and the like instead. As you progress the enemies grow much tougher which demands more of players. Luckily, Letter Quest never makes slow typers (or clickers) disadvantaged thanks to its turn-based approach. What it does do though is offer really slow character progression.

Letter Quest Grimm's Journey Featured

Upgrades to Grimm’s health, attack, and such are unlocked via gems. Gems are awarded upon beating persistent quests or levels. They’re certainly easy to get but accumulating enough for upgrades is surprisingly slow going. As such, it can be tough to defeat later stages without a lot of grinding. Really, I was just disappointed my awesome Scrabble skills weren’t enough to keep me powering through.

The concept and execution of Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey is spot on aside from its artificial gatekeeping measures. It looks cute, has a pretty responsive interface, and is an enjoyable puzzle game. If you’re looking for more in the same vein then check out Words for Evil. Although imperfect in its own regards, skilled players are rewarded without restrictions.


Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas


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Tales of Maj’Eyal Review

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured

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Developer: DarkGod
Publisher: DarkGod
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

My first exposure to roguelikes would probably make Rogue fans cry. Instead of following most of the same principles, what I came to know of the genre could be better defined as rogue-lites. In any case, not everything I play falls into that distant genre cousin branch, as Tales of Maj’Eyal proves. This roguelike RPG is incredibly deliberate with turn-based play, variety of challenging enemies, tons of character classes to experiment with, and of course the possibility of permadeath.

Honestly, Tales of Maj’Eyal is quite a lot to take in right from the start. There are tons of classes and different types have their own starting hub worlds. Despite a recognizable top-down and turn-based interface, there’s a lot to get a handle on with a multitude of spell types, enemy powers, and a handful of other systems. But basically, it’s very much like a typical deep RPG wherein you’re able to hone your characters with exacting detail and will always need to be careful while exploring randomly generated dungeons.

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Once you digest everything at play here the game really takes off. It’s difficult for me, even on easier settings, but I certainly appreciate that there are multiple options available. If you’re looking for a “hardcore” experience then Tales of Maj’Eyal provides that. If you’re seeking a highly strategic, but not completely hellish game you can get that too. It’s great to see a game of this genre open itself up to a variety of skill levels.

In all, it was a big surprise how much I ended up enjoying this one. There’s so much going on, but the foundation is solid. Roguelike fans looking for something more “classic” than Rogue Legacy and its ilk will definitely find it with Tales of Maj’Eyal.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Words for Evil Review

Words for Evil Featured

Words for Evil Boxart

Developer: Dylan Loney
Publisher: Dylan Loney
Platform: PC – Desura, itch.io, IndieGameStand

RPGs usually seem a bit too unwieldy for me to play. I can’t help but view them as such long journeys with a requisite amount of dull grinding. Words for Evil, although a bit of an RPG itself, is much more my speed. This 2D pixelated adventure lets you and a band of adventurers explore new lands and vanquish enemies in your path. However, it does so with a Scrabble-like mechanic rather than turn-based actions.

You begin with a lone adventurer as they battle through countless enemies. Each battle presents a board of letters on the screen. Your goal is to make as many words from it as possible, by string adjacent tiles together in 3 or more letter words. There’s a wrinkle to all this. Certain letters are colored. Only breaking these special tiles allows your side to attack. So it quickly becomes a game of not only finding any word on the field, but making sure you get in a lot of attacks as well.

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There are two control schemes: One designed for keyboards and one for mice. Of course, the mouse clicking and dragging one seems to emulate a touch screen control concept. Using the mouse was my preferred play style early on until enemies became stronger. When it became necessary to string words together super quick, mouse play bogged me down with errors. On the other hand, keyboard controls work quite well. Just start typing out a word you see and Words for Evil immediately finds where you are to clear that space. One issue I did notice were certain words were not recognized by the game’s dictionary. Those moments were unexpected (and frustrating).

Although there’s not much story, you’ll spy a lot of other RPG genre conventions. Monsters drop loot, player stats increase over time, and there’s even room to stock a few potions. A few minigames also crop up from time to time. While still word-based, they offer a varied form of gameplay. Words for Evil is a pretty simple, fun way to spend a few hours. It might even teach you a few new words along the way.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Always Sometimes Monsters Review

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Developer: Vagabond Dog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Humble Store, Steam

Life is unfair. I don’t think anyone can deny that fact no matter their circumstances. Always Sometimes Monsters thrives off that concept as it pushes players into a more “human” RPG. The game begins by letting you (unassuming) choose the protagonist and then their love interest. Their race and gender are completely irrelevant. If you choose, the game can play out with lesbian or gay love interests at the center. From there, they must live out their dreary lives – and you’ll be right along for the ride.

My experience with Always Sometimes Monsters was extremely odd. At first, I couldn’t help viewing it as a game that was trying too hard with its edginess. After a couple of hours, I warmed up to it and wanted to progress my character through her story. However, progression is actually incredibly dull after a while. Just like in reality you must grind through the days to try and reunite with a past love. Heck, even that storyline is worrisome. I’ve never enjoyed the prospect of “winning back the girl/guy” that is so prevalent in romantic comedies. Sure, the path this version takes is different, but it’s still weird.

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In any case, much of the “grind” boils down to working at a job, getting money, and buying food. The food bit stinks as I’ve never enjoyed having to keep characters eating so they survive. Always Sometimes Monsters’ pacing suffers. It starts slow, picks up, then slows down for a good while longer until the finale finally comes into sight. Had the game continued as it did when my opinion first reversed itself then, well, it’d likely be far more enjoyable.

Always Sometimes Monsters certainly tried to do something different. Using the guise of a classic pixelated RPG it brought a more modern story to players. It also allowed for a surprising array of character choice, which is always appreciated. It just feels like the pace slogs everything down much of the way through. Still, it’s a very unique title and I hope to see more developers follow in Vagabond Dog’s footsteps.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic Review

Wasteland Featured

Wasteland Boxart

Developer: Interplay Productions/inXile Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts/inXile Entertainment
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Wasteland is one of those games that everyone knows about, but as time drags on, less of us have played. As is the case with me, I had never before ventured into the title before despite knowing how important it was to the development of modern series like Fallout. Playing it now proves an incredibly difficult experience.

I don’t mean simply in the level of challenge enemies provide, but simply in controlling the game. Of course, Wasteland is also damn hard in the former respect as well. That’s the way a lot of people like it! My playthrough was a very strenuous one even when guided by extraneous FAQs. So much is going on as you play and one must always be aware of the consequences of their actions.

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Wasteland itself takes places in a post-apocalyptic world. You play as a group of rangers who must venture through the land and hopefully survive the adventure. Starting out with a group is necessary since you’ll suffer casualties for sure. Even if every ranger dies though, the effects of their actions will remain in place. World persistence was one of the biggest surprises of the game for me. So too, was the vicious nature of the language.

This is the wasteland, after all, so bad things happen. You can kill children, contract STDs, or explode like a blood sausage. The writing is key here, and still stands up to the test of time. Of course, all the writing isn’t within the game. There are journals and other pieces to read that came with the game itself upon release. Now you can get these necessary manuals and booklets as scanned PDFs when purchasing from GOG. Unfortunately, I’m unaware if Steam includes them as well. They had better because some of this information is very important.

The biggest hangups I had with playing focused on not knowing what to do nor how to really control battles. Things eventually worked themselves out, but the game still requires a lot of menus and such to navigate. Included is a macro system which allows players to set their own keys, but it seemed like too much work for one game.

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Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic is the name given to this recent re-release of the game. They have updated the portraits and also instituted some sort of pixel smoothing filter. Thankfully, you can turn these features off if you wish. In particular, the smoothed text was quite frankly disgusting. There’s no reason inXile Entertainment should fear the pixelated nature of their product. Anyone seriously taking the time to play is likely a fan of the graphics anyway.

Although I recognize Wasteland as a touchstone title in the history of video games, I find it an incredibly tough game to enjoy. Perhaps it’s not even about enjoyment but pushing skill to the limit. In any case, it would be hard to get many modern gamers to sit down and play through it. Tastes have changed, after all.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Desktop Dungeons Review

Desktop Dungeons Featured

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Developer: QCF Design
Publisher: QCF Design
Platform: PC – Browser, Direct, Steam

Last year, I found myself falling in love with the roguelike genre thanks to a handful of new indie games. I had never played Rogue, but it was easy to become a big fan of the concepts. After a while though, it did start to drag a little. Each game felt a little too samey. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Desktop Dungeons but it has managed to far surpass all expectations. This is an incredibly fun roguelike that can be enjoyed by new and veteran players alike.

Desktop Dungeons starts off with some tutorials, which in itself is actually rare in the genre. You get the basic mechanics for exploring dungeons, how battles work, and how to make use of magical skills. You’re also quickly introduced to the fact that your little explorers will die – and die often. From there, you can engage in a variety of missions in different dungeons. Or, you can take on a variety of puzzle missions which seek to teach players how to play with strategies in mind.

Desktop Dungeons Screenshot

Whichever you spend your time with, Desktop Dungeons is a ton of fun. It doesn’t hold back, though! You’ll find yourself dying (and losing all loot) often. Sometimes this can be chalked up to choosing the wrong character type and loadout, but other times it’s all due to a lack of strategic thinking. Managing health potions, taking out higher level enemies, and the like all must be kept in mind. Otherwise, your adventurers are apt to be killed off quickly.

There’s nice looking art as well, although it doesn’t scale up very well, so you’ll likely play in a smaller than average game window. But the graphics are certainly charming, as are the silly little enemies. How much fun you have with Desktop Dungeons is based around how willing you are to learn. Dying is common, but with little consequence, so feel free to try out a variety of play methods. Whether your play style is hitting up one dungeon for a few minutes, or playing multiple for hours, Desktop Dungeons offers great bursts of fun.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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