New Game: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Playing on: Playstation 4

Year: 2017 (PlayStation 4  release)

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX

The kingdom hearts series has become one of the great RPG franchises and was birthed out of an idea that to be quite honest I found pretty crazy at the time the original came out, meld the worlds of Disney and Final Fantasy.

I’ve only played the first game in the series, the original Kingdom Hearts, on both PS2 and the HD remaster on PS3. There are a ton of additional games including two full sequels and several side story spin-offs, mostly released on portable systems like the PSP and Gameboy derivatives. I really enjoyed the original game so decided to take on the sometimes confusing franchise. Thankfully “Kingdom Hearts: the complete story so far” was recently released for the PS4 which includes the HD final mixes of every game in the series excluding the newest Kingdom Hearts III and the online moble game.

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX

After consulting a handy Kingdom Hearts game timeline I’ve decided to start at the beginning which is Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and no, these names do not get any more sensical.

This game acts as a prequel to the original game and besides a JP only MMORPG is the first title in the series. The game was originally released for the PSP and it shows on the PS4. The game doesn’t look bad but you can certainly tell it’s not a native PS4 title or even a PS3 remaster.

My initial impressions are pretty good as it certainly has the same feel as the original. This time around you gets to choose between playing as three different main characters which are a bit unique for a console action RPG though from my understanding you get to go back and play through all of there stories eventually which all take you on different paths and go through different worlds.

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX

So far the only worlds I’ve visited are a pretty empty Enchanted Domain from Sleeping Beauty and Cinderellas world. The levels are noticeably shorter then the worlds from Kingdom hearts which I’m sure is up to the fact this was originally a PSP game.

I’m eager to see what this game has to offer in terms of the main antagonist which appears to be an obviously evil old man which everyone thinks is a good guy even though he, as I said, obviously evil. It’s like when you first encounter Maleficent in this game and she fains being just some kindly so and so. I mean I’m not one to judge someone based solely on their physical appearance but come on…all back and horns. no character in a fantasy world that’s good dresses that way.

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX

The battle system seems very similar to the original KH but I have been slightly annoyed by the camera which makes fighting a bit more difficult then it should be. I also find the battle system and all its little quirks and options a tad more overwhelming than the original game as well and even a bit confusing.

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX

That’s all I have to say so far about this one. It looks to be a fun experience and I look forward to what classic Disney worlds this entry in the series has to offer.

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New Game: Sacred

Playing on: Windows XP PC ( Pentium 4 Extreme 3.2GHz, Geforce 7800 GTX AGP, 4GB DDR)

Year: 2004 (sacred: Underworld 2005)

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I know, I know. I’ve been starting a whole lot of new games recently yet I haven’t completed a single RPG for a few months. Trust me, I am working on them, I just like to have options and bounce around between several at a time sometimes.

The newest game I’ve started is Sacred or more specific sacred Gold from 2005 which includes the original Sacred from 2004 as well as the free expansion Sacred Plus and the 2005 expansion Sacred Underworld which adds new characters and areas to the base game.

So this is actually my second attempt at this game as I played it once before probably 10 years ago. I enjoyed the game but after getting about 20 or so hours I started running into random crashes and I kind of gave up on the game. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this time though I’m working with a completely different computer and my PC knowledge is much better these days.

Sacred is an action adventure RPG much in the vain of Diablo. This of Sacred as Diablo placed in a large open world environment as the game has a very similar feel to Diablo and uses many of the same elements such as a similar inventory system, enemies that drop copious loot on death and frantic point and click attack. You start the game by choosing a character which has its own set of skills, magic and weapons/armor that can be used. I chose to play as a seraphim or battle angle character just to mix things up.

The world of Sacred is massive and is honestly a little overwhelming at first. Every town has several sidequests you can choose to do for extra items and XP though they all generally boil down to kill X number of X type of monster, Kill X monster, escort some random person or fetch some random item and return it. The main plot has to do with the release of an ancient demon and the subsequent attack on the main kingdom. Right now I’m only about 12 or 14 hours in most of which has been taken up doing side quests but I’m currently working on getting reinforcements delivered to the prince’s forces camped at the border to the desert lands where a goblin/orc invasion is imminent.

Combat is fun and fast though it has its annoyances. One thing that continuously pisses me off is ranged enemies as they have a habit of falling back when approached only to fire on you again and then fall back again. Its a realistic tactic on their part but I personally don’t find pleasure in chasing a bowman across the map only to be lead into a horde of 6 or 7 orcs and a chieftain. I’m sure I could probably mitigate the issue depending on my weapon and spell focus but I still find it annoying.

I do find myself falling victim to the “just one more hour” trap as killing monsters and hoping they will drop some rare character class specific item can be addictive.

There doesn’t really seem to be any penalty to death as far as I can tell except that you respawn only at certain points which can sometimes be quite far away from where you died and necessitate a sometimes long journey back, that is unless you saved someplace close. Some areas also have teleport gates that can be used to travel around point to point and there are also horses available which allow much faster overland travel.

The difficulty at first seemed pretty high with areas swarming with respawning enemies but if you just hop on a horse you can easily ride past everything. Of course you do lose out on XP this way and your horse can technically be killed if it takes to much damage.

One particularly hard battle I came across was a sidequest that involved killing an undead dragon. Taking the beast head-on was proving to be too daunting but that’s when I discovered I could just get on a horse and ride around the dragon while spamming a magic spell that fired a beam of light into a specific area and caused continuous damage. The tactic was time-consuming and required a lot of health potions but it made the battle quite easy compared to engaging things head on. Now, of course, the tactic may not have worked with other characters but it is a seemingly viable option with this character.

I’m looking forward to seeing the vastness of the world of Sacred and thus far it has been a fun and at times addictive experience but I am wary that I may grow tired of the repetitive nature of the gameplay and sidequests. Time will tell.

Oh yeah…. and then there was that side quest where I had to beat a guy almost to death to force him to go back and get married to a woman he obviously did not want to marry, fun times.

 

New Game: Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories

Playing on: Playstation 2

Year: 2006

The Disgaea games scare me, not because of a crushing difficulty or the idea of endless tedious because I sink so many hours into these games so easily. As I write this I’m 22 hours into the second entry in the series and I’ve hardly followed the main quest spending most of my time creating characters and leveling them up in the item world.  Now, of course, this means when I do follow the main story line it should be a cakewalk but I know there’s going to be many optional bosses that I’m going to be compelled to beat.

The game plays more or less identically as the first one and is split into chapters containing multiple tactical RPG battles with story segments in between. Everything is still here from the first game from the geo panels to Prinnies to the lifting mechanics and multiple character classes. If you want to read about my completion of the first game in the series click here.

Basically, Disgaea so far feels like a refined version of the original which is a good thing. There seem to be more options in things like the dark assembly and a slightly better variety of items overall. Visually the audibly the game is spot on though I feel like Disgaea is a better-looking game than the original.

Unfortunately, we do have a whole new cast of characters although Etna from the first game has made an appearance in my playthrough so far. The new characters aren’t bad but I feel they lack a bit of the charm of the characters from the first game. The wacky sense of humor from the first game is also present though it does seem ever so slightly tuned down which probably has to do with the main characters also feeling slightly more serious overall.

The plot revolves around your main character, Adell, a demon hunter who wears a sleeveless shirt and bright red tie, questing to defeat the local evil demon overlord. When a summoning ritual goes wrong the overlord’s daughter is accidentally summoned instead and thus begins your quest to find and defeat her father with her in tow. Of course, its pretty obvious where things are going as the overlord’s daughter starts to take a liking to Adell and question her evil and stuck up ways.

I think I’ll leave it at that for now so I have something to talk about when I do complete the game. how long that’s going to take is anyone’s guess.

New Game: Fallout 4

 

Playing on : Playing on : Windows 10 PC (AMD fx-8350, GTX 970 FTW, 12GB DDR3)

Year: 2015 (Automatron 2016) (Far Harbor 2016) (Nuka-World 2016)

I’ve been a huge fan of Fallout and the post-apocalyptic genre for about as long I can remember. Originally cautious of the leap to the “FPS RPG” spectrum that the series took with Fallout 3 I quickly learned that I loved the game and played it obsessively when I received a copy for Christmas. Same can be said for Fallout: New Vegas and all of that games expansions. Now after holding out for years I’ve finally purchased Fallout 4 along with all of its expansions. I’ve heard mixed things and I have to say I’m none too happy that the game has slid a little further away from the RPG part of “FPS RPG” and a little closer to the action FPS side but I certainly want to give the game a go and have tried to come into it with an open mind.

As for mods I didn’t want to use any that drastically change the game so I only stuck with a scant few such as more realistic blood splatters and a mod to get rid of the terrible dialogue interface and return things to a system more similar to the previous games where you can actually see what you going to make your character say.

The one thing I did initially love was a glimpse at pre-war America. I all the previous games you’ve either played as a vault dweller born well after the war or an inhabitant of the wasteland but finally in Fallout 4 you get to play as a character from pre-war times who was cryogenically frozen and thawed 200 plus years later. Long story short is your wife was defrosted at some point, shot and killed and your baby stolen. Unfortunately this all happens so fast in the story your not really given a chance to give a crap about either of them and after you yourself are thawed out there seems to be an overall lack of urgency to find the little guy. All and all it was still really cool to spend the opening part of the game walking around your pre-war home, watching TV and talking to your wife and the vault tech guy and not being in a traipsing around a 200 plus year old vault for once, even if the experience was all pretty short lived.

Combat in Fallout 4 has changed a little from Fallout 3 and New Vegas with more of an emphasis on real time combat and less on using the VATS systems. VATS now, instead of pausing the game puts everything in slow motion. honestly it’s not that huge of a change and I don’t find myself minding it too much. After doing the obligatory opening area where you get to navigate a vault in chaos and fight off the ubiquitous Radroachs I emerged into the wasteland.

The “overworld” or wastes in Fallout 4 are gorgeous in my opinion and I’m finding myself really enjoying them. I was really getting tired of the desert browns that permeated the color scheme of all previous fallouts and even though the wastes of Fallout 4 aren’t exactly colorful they feel a lot more vibrant than previously yet still convey the idea I am traveling in a post-apocalyptic landscape.  This outing in the franchise takes place around the Boston area on the east coast. It’s not an area I’m intimately familiar with and I’m surprised they didn’t set things around New York city, maybe a future game?

As of writing this post I’m only about seven hours into the game so I haven’t got to experience that much of the map but I have come across some neat areas such as Walden pond. a crashed airliner and a car factory amongst other things. I’ve experienced a few weather events as well such as a radioactive storm that again, is pretty glorious to behold.

Early on in the game I got a hold of power armor, which now works different, and was tasked with stopping raiders and killing a deathclaw with it. I have a few mixed feelings about this as Fallout 4 seems to put a lot of weapons and armor in your hands early which in previous games were not acquired until later and felt more earned there. The armor works a little different as you don’t just put it on like normal armor but it acts almost as a sort of vehicle which you need fusion cores to operate for a limited amount of time and you can customize parts and mix and match. You can store the armor at particular spots and come back and put it on for particularly hard parts. I think I actually prefer the old way of doing things a little better and it just feels a little overcomplicated to me. Hell I had to look up just how to get in and out of the armor and since that inital section have not used it. I suppose its nice to know it’s there if I encounter a really tricky section but it doesn’t feel earned. Its the same thing with items such as the minigun and laser rifle and Fatman, I just feel they are acquired a little too early.

I’m also not thrilled with how the new perk system works and it just seems odd and overcomplicated compared to the previous installments though I won’t go into in this first entry since I want to get a better grasp of it before I do.

So far I’ve encountered two factions, the Minutemen which are like the local authorities and of course, the Brotherhood. I’ve been helping each out as I’m playing a relatively good character but I know the game has a third faction, the Institue, who are using things called synths to infiltrate the wastes. Unfortunately my favorite faction, the Enclave seem to be absent, not that it matters as you never really get to side with them in any games. The odd thing is that even though I was attacked by synths in the Brotherhood missions and have come across several people talking about synths I’ve never actually been given the dialog option to ask what the damn things are or what they want.

I actually wasn’t enjoying myself in the first 5 hours or so of the game as much as I thought I would. I remember Fallout 3 devouring my free time when it first came out and playing nonstop for days. New Vegas also gave me the same sort of experience with not being able to play anything else after I started the game for weeks. It feels like that magic has died a little bit with Fallout 4 and I’m not entirely sure its the game or just me. Maybe the formula is finally getting a little old to me and walking out of the vault into the wasteland just doesn’t have the same awe as it used to.

Thankfully as I’ve hit the five hour mark or so the game is starting to really warm up to me again and I’m starting to once again feel that urge to wonder the wastes. Hopefully this will continue and I’ll have high praise for the game once all is done.

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RPG 163 BEATEN: Tales of Phantasia

Playing on: Playstation

Year: 1998 (ps1 release)

I know its been awhile since my last post but fear not, I have been slowly picking away at some RPG’s and I did manage to finish Tales of Phantasia before the new year. After putting in about 63 hours and completing most of the side quests and optional bosses I have finally completed Tales and I have to say it was a fun experience.

In all tales was a more traditional Japanese RPG experience that I’ve been looking for lately. In between all the Valkyria Chronicles and the Folklore (which I’m still picking at) and stuff like Undertale I’ve really been missing a just an old-fashioned, random battle, overworld with some kind of airship, medieval themed RPG. Tales of Phantasia certainly delivered and then some.

The story boils down to “Bad guy taking over the world” but in tales there is a little hint of grey. Why is the big baddy only attacking certain nations? does he have other motivations we don’t know about? It’s nothing ground breaking but it helps give the story a little bit of uncertainty on if what your doing is the right thing.

The game also tries to mix things up a bit in some portions by using elements from sci-fi such as time travel and technology as well as a few varied segments that involve things like sneaking into a castle without being seen by the guards and a flying battle segment. Oddly these are one shot sections and the mechanic never really comes up again.

There are also some nice touches to the game like if your character stands still for too long on the world map they fall asleep which kind of reminds me of the Sonic games. By pressing select in the overworld you can also see your characters interact with each other and discuss the current situation or just chit-chat.

Little touches in the graphics were nice as well such as reflections and so forth. I’ve never played the SNES original but the PSone version felt like it created a nice middle ground and retained a very close to 16-bit feel but added a bit of graphical muscle the SNES could not have provided, most notably the 3D overworld. There were some random things that I liked as well, for instance in the last dungeon your party is ascending a tower and most of the corridors are very same looking, then all of the sudden one hallway section has this demon blood fountain that spilled some kind of damaging liquid over the floor. Again, it seems hardly noteworthy but I thought it was kind of cool.

My playthrough was not without its annoyances though. I kind of had a love/hate relationship with the battle system. The real-time side view action battle system of tales is pretty unique at the time when the world of RPG’s was mostly turn-based or overhead action battles. I find it a bit impressive they pulled this off on the SNES and it more or less works just fine. I have to say one downside is less control over your other party members in battle though you can give them vague orders of what you want them to do in battle and stop the battle at most points and issue them specific commands. One thing that really annoyed me though is the player characters habit of running back to his starting position after an attack is performed. You could prevent this by holding down the direction pad button but many times I had my character rushing back and away from an enemy after an attack when I really wanted him to stay put and pummel the baddy.

There were also a few rough puzzels and one near the end in a side dungeon I actually had to look up. Honestly it puts some of those “how the hell are you supposed to figure that out” puzzels from early CRPGs to shame. The gist of it is you have to use some pretty vague clues to figure out that four points are supposed to reference points on a certain continent and you have to manipulate some points but not others. The kicker is after you have the right combination of points you need to stand in a spot in the center of the room for almost a minute for the door to open up. I assume most people including myself, even if the right combination was figured out would give up standing in the center circle after 30 seconds or so and move. I suppose the fact this is a side dungeon and not required to complete the game makes it somewhat better but still.

Speaking of side missions, I did, as usual work to complete the bulk of them including beating the optional side bosses like Oden, fighting in the colosseum and taking on the obligatory super dungeon. This meant that by the time of the end boss fight I was pretty overpowering. That said the final form (of course the final boss had three forms, its a 90’s JRPG) of the last boss still made me work for it.

There were elements to the game I more or less completly ignored like the cooking system. Its not that I disliked the system or anything, I just found no compelling reason to bother with it.

Overall I did enjoy Tales of Phantasia. It was traditional yet it had some unique features for the time like the battle system. It also kept the world and story fairly fresh by involving elements such as time travel and abandoned high tech metropolises controlled by super computers along side your traditional medieval castle cities and desert and ice towns.

The Grade

Game World – B

Controls – C

Game play – B

Plot – B+

Graphics/Sound – B+

Protagonist (Main Character) – C+

NPC’s, Antagonist (main villain) – B+

Weapons/armor/items/magic – C+

Enemies – B-

Stability – N/A

Overall – B (94)

Personnel Rating – B

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New Game: Folklore

Playing on: Playstation 3

Year: 2007

I haven’t posted in a little while but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing games and slowly chipping away at a few. The newest game I’ve picked up to play is Folklore on PS3.

Folklore was an early game for the PS3 and offers a very unique RPG experience….well sort of RPG experience. See despite so many sources calling Folklore an RPG I feel like it just barely qualifies. There are levels you gain with experience which does up your HP but that’s about all the RPG elements we get as far as mechanics go. The game actually has a a lot more in common with action/adventure games like Zelda really though since I qualify that game as a RPG…or RPG like I’ll pass Folklore as well if even on the flimsiest of qualifications.

Folklore is an action “RPG” (as stated will be using the term loosely here) that takes place in a small Irish town where you alternate between two characters, Ellen and Keats, who have the ability to enter the Netherworld and interact with the dead.  The game plays out almost like a sort of murder mystery where your characters are attempting to unravel mysterious deaths that took place 17 years ago. To achieve this end they collect information and “mementos” from townspeople and then at night they enter the spirit world where the battles take place.

Combat is a third person action oriented with a dash of Pokemon. you capture monsters by use of the PS3 Sixaxis motion controls and then use them as attacks in combat. The worlds that Keats and Ellen move through are more of less the same but with different dialog and some of the monsters and placement are different. Also monster attacks are subtlety different depending on who your playing as.

Is it just me or does Ellen always look like she is nodding in the cut screens?

As the story progresses you travel though different netherworld’s that have something to do with mankind’s different loose interpretations of death. The first is a fairy world while the second deals with war and the third is underwater and that’s as far as I’ve gotten thus far.

The worlds almost play out like dungeons and they typically have a mid boss and then a large end boss or “Folklore” to defeat. There are not different armor or weapons but each monster you capture has a different attack and elemental affinity. As you progress through the dungeons you find pieces of a fairytale book that has images that give clues to what attacks work on what creatures. I actually really like this aspect as well as the boss battles. For instance there is a giant eel creature at the end of the underwater stage which firt requires you use a specific attack to freeze its tail and then another to hack the tail off followed by figuring out what attacks will stun the head.

There are items in the game such as powders and seeds but I honestly have no idea what they do. I think they augment your monsters in some fashion but as yet I’ve had no reason to figure them out. As I said the RPG elements are extremely light in Folklore but there is XP acquired when you defeat a monster which very slowly levels you up. For instance I’m in the third netherworld and i’m only at about level 4 for Keats and level 3 for Ellen. Other then that there are side missions but none of them have been to interesting thus far.

The atmosphere of Folklore is very unique being a somewhat modern version of an isolated Irish village and the game looks great for an early PS3 game. That said i’m not really crazy about it and just kind of slogging it out till the end. Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t bad by any means I just am not finding it to be my cup of tea. Hopefully things will catch my intrest a little better in the second half.

 

New Game: Tales of Phantasia

Playing on: Playstation

Year: 1998 (ps1 release)

Ive really been hankering for a more traditional JRPG lately and I’m hoping Tales of Phantasia will hit the spot. Tales was originally a Japan exclusive Super Famicom release but received a also Japan exclusive Playstation release in 1998. This is the version I am playing via a modded Playstation one and a English fan patched game disc.

I am playing the Playstation version of the game instead of the original Super Famicom or later Game Boy Advance release as it is generally regarded as the definitive version of Tales. It expands and tweaks the content of the original while also giving a nice visual upgrade and not going so far that it feels like a different game

The only other game Ive played in the series so far is Tales of Destiny many years ago and I quite enjoyed that game. I also feel like the game plays very similar to the Star Ocean series and has the same feel.

The claim to fame of the Tales series is the side view real time combat system. It’s almost a updated version of the combat from Legend of Zelda II. Well, maybe that’s a bad analogy but basically you enter random battles just like many other RPGs of the era but instead of going to a traditional turn based mode you go into a 2d side action combat mode where you control you main character with the AI controlling your other party members. You can assign tactics to your other party members so you do have some control over what they do. This style of play was probably pretty unique on the Super Famicom original and it still works great in the playstation remaster here.

I’m only about 6 hours into my game play as I write this but so far I’m enjoying the game. besides the combat system the game is a fairly traditional JRPG thus far with a fantasy setting and a story line that of course revolves around an evil king trying to take over the world. It’s mixed up a little bit by some time travel but so far its pretty bog standard. I’m not really complaining though since so far it’s well done and as I said at the beginning of my post this is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for at the moment.

I’m not really far enough into the game as yet to see if there’s anything more to the main villain then just wanting to conquer the world but he does seem intent on draining all magic as this appears to be the only means of actually harming him. We have a standard game world as well with a traversable overworld and a spattering of towns which contain locations such as weapon/armor shops, inns and item shops. There is also a cooking dynamic to the game where you gather cooking ingredients and can cook certain recipes you learn to do things such as recover health.

The main character is predefined for you as they are in the bulk of console RPGs of the era and all you really do is give him a name (if you want to change it). The story does kick off pretty fast though as an unknown enemy raids your town while your away and your parents as well as your best friends sister and most of the townsfolk are slain. Revenge is sworn and your off to adventure and the unraveling of a larger plot.

Difficulty thus far is pretty fair with a few tough spots if your not properly equipped and leveled. So far I’ve only been completely wiped out once when I engaged a statue creature that I knew would end up attacking me but for whatever reason I neglected to use the save point just prior and had to do the dungeon over again as my last save was just outside the entrance.

My first impressions of Tales of Phantasia are quite good and I look forward to playing through the rest of the game and reporting if the game holds up throughout. Even if the story and world thus far feel very traditional the battle system really helps the game stand out thus far and I have a feeling that the story is going to have some twists and turns as it goes on. I’ve also never played the SF original but i’m really digging this Playstation version as it really still  feels like a SNES game with some mildly souped up visual effects and CD quality sound.

RPG 162 BEATEN: Valkyria Chronicles

Playing on: Playstation 3

Year: 2008

Well, another game down that I once half finished but gave up on. Was this one worth it? I’d say so. Though I can’t say it is among my favorite tactical RPG’s I did quite enjoy it and It certainly was pretty unique to the genre.

I’ll start this time with the good. First off I really did enjoy the atmosphere and game world even if it did parallel a little to close to WWII. The moden(ish) era isn’t one you see to often in Tactical RPG games and it worked very well for the game. The enemy was also appropriately ominous as the heavily German influenced “Empire” with a healthy dash of Soviet era Russians and even though they seemed more of a monarchist state I couldn’t help laughingly thinking of the Commie-Nazis from the Simpsons.

Speaking of the enemies I feel main villains were done well and each general seemed to have a certain motivation without being to over the top. Certain cutscreens even humanized the enemies soldiers bringing a greater sense of realism to the game.

I do have to commend the game though as it does a pretty decent job of developing the world and characters through cutscreens and various readable materials in game that you can read.

The game also features permanent character death which isn’t something you see all that often anymore outside of tactical RPG’s like the Fire Emblem. Its is a little hard to happen though as a character must lose all HP in a battle and then either lay unattended for a certain amount of time or be touched by an enemy who admittedly are a little brain dead on the matter and frequently run right pass downed characters. Thankfully you have a pretty large pool of characters you can dip into to replace fallen comrades and as I said if your careful death won’t come very often.

Missions types aren’t terribly varied but I really never found myself getting bored to any degree. I also liked the idea of getting access to new weaponry as the war progressed and you as you leveled classes such as rocket propelled grenades becoming available for scouts at level 10. There are also some nice details such as your tank getting visual upgrades

The game certainly was not without its faults though. One issue that really bothered me was the delay a character had when moving into position and attacking. See once you selected a character you can move them across the map and of course attack. during this phase if you crossed the field of fire of any enemies they can take shots at you, this also works the other way around as on the enemies phase and believe me, many a brain dead enemy AI ran headlong into my positions to their death. The issue I had was the seeming delay my AI soldiers had in firing at enemies where the enemy had almost none and at any given time running across a map the enemy would get in a lot more accurate pot shots at my soldiers then I could at theirs.

This issue also occurred after halting movement and setting hitting the attack button which basically freezes the game and allows you to choose your weapon and target you attack. between stopping and then entering this targeting mode there is a delay though and if your in front of an enemy during this delay they are able to continue firing at you getting in several cheap shots. When things are the opposite though it seems that there is almost no delay and the enemies immediately enter targeting mode.

My only other minor complaint is the field of view which seemed random at times. sometimes it felt just right but other times it seemed like enemies would skirt past well placed positions without being seen and fired upon even if they seemed pretty obviously within the field of view. This can get pretty annoying as you can lose a match if your base is captured.

Overall I liked this game and it kept me interesting. The water colored art style was very pleasant and all the main characters seemed to get some decent development. Sure elements of the story were pretty cliche such as the “triumph of the power of love” but the WWII(ish) setting kept things fresh compared to most RPG’s being a medieval or magic heavy setting.

The Grade

Game World – B

Controls – D+

Game play – B-

Plot – C+

Graphics/Sound – B+

Protagonist (Main Character) – B

NPC’s, Antagonist (main villain) – B-

Weapons/armor/items/magic – C+

Enemies – C+

Stability – N/A

Overall – B- (87)

Personnel Rating – B

New Game: Darkest Dungeon

Playing on: Steam, Windows 10 PC (2.5ghz Core2quad, HD 6450, 4GB DDR2)

Year: 2016 (crimson court 2017)

In a world of modern RPGs (and games in general) that tend to hand hold and present no challenges or consequences for death Darkest Dungeon is a breath of fresh air and that fresh air is filled with permanent character death, tactical thinking and dungeon runs filled with tension.

Darkest dungeon is a very atmospheric side scrolling dungeon crawler with a heavy Lovecraft influence which lends itself perfectly to the game.

To summarize the story your family estate and the surrounding town/country side has fallen into massive disrepair after your family member who lived in the hilltop manor house “delved to deep” into the occult unleashing unnamed horrors that now prowl the estate and surrounding lands. After his apparent insanity and suicide you play as a relative come to reclaim the manor and right the wrongs of your family all the while learning the story of your relatives decent into madness.

You don’t actually dungeon delve as this family member but the premise is your basically hiring and equipping these adventurers that you then send into the manor and grounds around it. you acquire these adventurers from the stagecoach which is an upgradable area of the town. Part of the game is about upgrading various buildings in town such as the church, sanitarium, smithy and bar buy using various things found on dungeon runs. upgrading the various structures results in things such as better equipment, lower prices for various services, ect depending on the building being upgraded.

after you put together a group of four adventures from a variety of classes such as highwaymen (thieves with guns), crusaders (fighters/paladins) and vestals (healers) you choose from a selection of tasks such as exploring 90% of the map, defeating a boss or recovering three holy relics from various parts of the manor or surrounding area. your individual party members also come with a variety of negative and positive traits and can gain more of either type during dungeon runs. After this you equip you party with supplies such as torches and food and then set off.

Exploration is done via a side view with battles, quest objects and items being randomly placed within the dungeon which consists of “rooms” linked by “halls”. Battles also take place in a the same side view and are turn based.

When I said that the games difficulty was a breath of fresh air I meant that this game when compared to many of its contemporaries is hard. Not Wizardry level hard but you can see the influences from said game. Character deaths are permanent (with rare exceptions) and surviving a dungeon run can entirely depend on luck sometimes, oh and the game saves constantly so no loading an older save to get back a favorite character that may of bit the dust. Being a veteran of older much harder games I haven’t found the game as unforgiving as some but comparatively to something like Diablo III which I completed recently it is absolutely brutal.

One of the main pulls the game has going for it is it’s Lovecraft inspired atmosphere which deals with unseen Eldritch horrors and elements such as insanity. As your adventurers progress through a dungeon run they accumulate stress which is basically a stand in for insanity points. Stress is accumulated by things such as taking critical hits, finding disturbing material or even just walking through the dungeon when your torch is to low. It feels like a lot to handle at first but I quickly got the hang of it and have become fairly good at managing stress levels. high stress can lead to conditions such as paranoia or irrational behavior where characters will make actions outside of your control and on rarer occasions can lead to a positive condition. To much accumulated stress can even lead to death via a heart attack.

After either retreating or completing a dungeon run characters stress levels can be lowered through placing stressed characters at a bar to drink or gamble or at a church to pray among other available selections. negative traits can even be removed via the sanitarium but all for a price of course and those characters become unavailable for your next dungeon run.

So far I’m really enjoying this game  for the atmosphere and challenge and look forward to restoring honor to the disgraced family name.

 

Introduction of the Simplified Games Ranking Chart

One thing that’s bothered me since starting this blog is my games ranking system. I tried to differentiate it a little by using a letter grading system among other things in an attempt to make it different from some “other blogs” that cover this same material. In doing so I think I made it a little over complicated especially with adding the + and – system giving a game a 1-15 potential score in each of the 9 categories giving a somewhat awkward total of 9-135 total points which then equate to a latter grade.  It’s a bit late for me to go back and revise this so it’s going to stay the same.

One thing that has always really annoyed me though is when a game gains a high score relative to my personnel opinion. This has happened a few times, namely Fable III and more recently Diablo III where the games received a relatively good score due to positive aspects but personally I maybe just didn’t like the game at all. It’s kind of like having a very well regarded movie that everyone loves and that is maybe well shot and expertly acted but for whatever reason you really didn’t enjoy watching it.

My new Simplified Games Ranking chart corrects this issue and works along side my standard chart. This chart will simply give each game an A, B, C, D or F letter grade based solely off my personnel feeling of the game and emotional enjoyment I derived from it.

A – Loved the game
B – Really enjoyed the game
C – Had an okay time playing the game
D – Didn’t really enjoy the game
F – Hated the game

The link to this new chart can be found Here

as well as from a link on the standard games ranking page.