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Blood Knights

I've got a confession to make: I ... liked it. I really liked it. I certainly won't pretend it's a great game. All the bad reviews it received didn't lie, what they criticized about it is true. But I didn't mind that at all. Yes, it's cheesy, it's trashy, it's very low budget with pulp story and dialogues, it's ridiculously easy on Normal difficulty and the enemy AI is dumb and easily exploitable. In other words, it's mindless fun. The German voiceovers are great, despite or also due to not being serious. It's like watching a B or C vampire movie (or listening to a John Sinclair audio drama, for those that know what I'm talking about), only that you also get to jump around, casually hack and slash, shoot crossbows and suck blood. Soundtrack and sound design are quite nice, IMO. The camera is not perfect, but it never really prevented me from enjoying the game. And yes, it's short (5-6 hours), but that's a good thing in my book, and besides, it's comparatively cheap (and I got it for a fraction of the regular price, on top of it). I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for a good story or a game with innovative and challenging gameplay, but I found it tasty enough as a fast food snack for people with low expectations and low standards. :D
Post edited August 11, 2015 by Leroux
Time Mysteries 2 - The Ancient Spectres - A huge step up from the first Time Mysteries game. An AM HOG done very well, with mostly non-frustrating mini-games and no penalty for playing on normal or extra achievement for playing on hard. There were some annoyingly-lit HO scenes, but nothing anywhere near as bad as the central hub scene lighting from the first game in the series. I played it on mute, as I've been doing with these recently due to having other things going on while playing them, so I can't comment on the quality of the voice acting, but the text was well-done and the story a lot less silly than the prior game. Steam says I played it for over six hours, but I think three and a half to four is closer, since I ended up letting it sit to go take care of other things more than once. As always, recommended if you like HOGs. Might even be worth picking up for full price if you're okay with dropping the money for a game you'll only play once.

The rest of my games.
Post edited August 11, 2015 by penumbren
Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Very nice, with that old school id game play. The last boss was fun. Definitely got my $2.50 out of it.
Solar Flux - Decent little puzzler set in outer space where your goal is to stabilize suns. Overall, it's not too challenging unless you want to get 3 stars on all the levels. It's a good looking game, but the controls on your spaceship take some getting used to.

Eldritch - This one has some good atmosphere despite the Minecraft-like graphics, owing most of its tense nature to the effective sound design. Heavy breathing sounds, doors opening and closing, and the distant footfalls of assorted creatures add to the creepiness. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn't really match up to this. Stealth is an option but only slows you down as it's easy to outrun the creatures that spot you. There are a few spells you can learn by praying to various statues, but I didn't find them to be too useful. There's only 4 "missions" to complete (5 with the Mountains of Madness DLC), so it's quick to experience.
Master of Orion

I absolutely loved playing Master of Orion II years and years and years and years ago, but I had never played the first one. Given the announcement of a new game, I thought now would be a good time to finally play the original.

I certainly enjoyed my time with it, but it doesn't even hold a candle up to MoO2. The interface leaves a lot to be desired; it can be extremely difficult (it took me four attempts to win, and I had to set it to the lowest difficulty); and, well, honestly, sometimes the game just feels a little on the bland side.

Aside from interface issues, the presentation's pretty good. There's some genuinely nice pixel art here or there, but the real stand-out is the music. It's a real shame though that there's no music while in the galaxy map. I kept thinking about playing the game while listening to podcasts, but I couldn't bring myself to do it; the long periods of silence are worth sitting through for the occasional brief flash of fantastic music.

Overall, it's enjoyable enough - but my advice for people that have never played a MoO game before: just play the second one. Then after you do that, maybe have a shot at the first game; it's always interesting to go back to the start of a franchise to see where things began.

And I'm definitely looking forward to the new Master of Orion. I mean, the only way to go from MoO3 is up....
Enebias: If your appreciation of Rock does not shy away form its heavier edges and you are in need of a funny and not too challenging game, I can definitely recommend you Brutal Legend.
andysheets1975: Good review - I love Brutal Legend and feel it's quite a misunderstood game although it certainly has its share of flaws. I just wish they could have gotten the rights and put some Dio, Metallica, and Iron Maiden on the soundtrack :)
I read there were plans to get Dio on board (he should have been Emperor Doviculus), yet he was later subsituted with Tim Curry, more fitting for the role in Shafer's opinion.
He was already supposed to come back as an important character in Brutal Legend 2, but unfortunately EA cancelled the project and just a few months later Ronnie James Dio didn't manage to defeat cancer. May he rest in peace... he is still my favourite Heavy Metal singer.
Post edited August 11, 2015 by Enebias
andysheets1975: Good review - I love Brutal Legend and feel it's quite a misunderstood game although it certainly has its share of flaws. I just wish they could have gotten the rights and put some Dio, Metallica, and Iron Maiden on the soundtrack :)
Enebias: I read there were plans to get Dio on board (he should have been Emperor Doviculus), yet he was later subsituted with Tim Curry, more fitting for the role in Shafer's opinion.
He was already supposed to come back as an important character in Brutal Legend 2, but unfortunately EA cancelled the project and just a few months later Ronnie James Dio didn't manage to defeat cancer. May he rest in peace... he is still my favourite Heavy Metal singer.
Yeah, I finally got to see him perform with Heaven and Hell at what turned out to be one of his very last shows and the band's entire performance was flawless. Easily one of the best concerts I've seen.
Catacomb 3D: The Descent

The first Catacomb game in 3D. From today's point of view it might be a very simple FPS game (that can be completed in 1-3 hours), but it was one of the first and you can still see why it was such an amazing game back then. I had a good time playing it. The end was a little anticlimatic though.

Complete list of finished games in 2015
Post edited August 11, 2015 by PaterAlf
Lure of the Temptress

Somehow I had this idea to play some of the free gog games.... Bad idea. In theory this is not a bad game, it is a typical story of rescuing the world from an evil person. But it starts to get annoying really soon. Half of the time playing this is wasted by walking mindlessly around. Because there are tons of NPCs walking around and your hero always makes some ridiculous dance around them to get anywhere or talk to anyone. So you are stuck watching him walk up and down the screen just to go back to almost the same position to talk so someone. And then there are the talking options. No fun at all since whenever you talk to someone there might also be talk going on by your sidekick or some NPCs which means that these conversations are mixed together and you have to wait through all the talk to get the info you wanted. That also makes the sidekicks really annoying. I don't even know why they introduced the first one. Honestly just to tell him to smash a wall and later on pick a lock? And the two fights you had to do were just boring and too long mindlessly smashing the enemy.
Good thing this is a free game since I would have regretted spending money on it.
Post edited August 11, 2015 by moonshineshadow
Blood. One of the other great Build engine FPSs. Very fun, although quite difficult (you can tell this is the same company that would go on to do Shogo). One of my favorite things about it is that, like Duke Nukem 3D, all of the weapons are genuinely fun to use, although some are better in certain situations of course. Lots of cute horror movie references, too.
1954 Alcatraz and Dead Synchronicity
Both point and click adventures.
Alcatraz wasn't all that interesting. It gives you a lot of choices for solving puzzles and has quite a bit that affects the ending. Unfortunately it failed to leave a real impression.

Dead Synchronicity has amazing artwork and a great soundtrack. Too bad the game suddenly ends after getting half the story. Wish I knew this was episodic. :l
The Secret of Monkey Island (Special Edition)

I don't think that The Secret of Monkey island needs any introduction: I always heard praise about its sense of humor and its unconventional puzzles, and I'll just limit myself to say that its reputation is well deserved.
The game itself is great, adopting the usual image/verb(=action)/inventory partition typical of each Lucas Arts release of the period and launching you into one of the weirdest quests in the genre.

What is not so great is the “Special Edition”.
The gorgeous pixel art has been repainted and hidden under a new layer of terrible art that deprives the game of all its charm; every single screen feels rushed and devoid of details, while the characters have even less animations than in the original version form 1990 (!) and are so awfully redesigned to resemble emotionless victims of a huge amount of radiations. The protagonist, above all, is simply obscene.
The easy to use system has been discarded for an annoying menu pop up which uselessly increase the number of clicks you need to perform a certain action; the voice acting, with the only exception of Guybrush, is so bad to actively subtract from the humor effect; the “revamped” soundtrack could be a nice addition, yet for yet another stupid choice you either listen to it while playing the modern edition or you don't listed to it at all.
The developers decided that they should have left the original game untouched, so they had the brilliant idea to remove any kind of toggle system other than F10 and its modern/classic switch.
You cannot activate separately the new graphics, the voice acting and the sounds: you either get all the new ones or the old ones, no middle ground.

Monkey Island is really an awesome game that I could warmly recommend to anyone, but do yourself a favor and just play the original, rather that the astonishingly awful Special Edition; know tht I'm serious when I say that I played many indie games developed with almost 0 budget that look and sound far better.
Since SE includes the original anyway, I would recommend to buy it only when heavily discounted.
Brink of Consciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome

A well-done HOG, this time not from Artifex Mundi! If you've played other, more 'modern' HOGs, you've played this one. It does have a story that's actually creepy, but not enough that I'd call it "horror." The voice acting was okay, and there was a good mix of HO scenes and puzzles, with probably more puzzles than HOS, for once. Some of the puzzles were annoying, but none were terrible. This one has a Bonus Chapter to wrap up the story, although if you somehow ended up with the 'standard' version, the main storyline ends satisfactorily. There are no subtitle options that I can see, but subtitles came up automatically, which is what I wanted.

For a HOG, recommended.

My other games.
Post edited August 13, 2015 by penumbren
Men of War: Red Tide

That was not an easy game, really good all the same. It had interesting guns and an often overlooked setting. Highly recommended for fans of the series naturally.
Neverwinter Nights 2 (OC)

After abandoning it halfway through some years ago due to exhaustion and my graphic card dying on me, I started from scratch and finished it this time. I'm not really sure what to think of it. It is much better than NWN in some aspects, much worse in others, and then it sometimes feels much too close to its predecessor for my taste, too.

The most notable improvement is that the game allows you full control over your party members (provided you completely shut their AI off). And in part your companions are much more memorable and enjoyable than in NWN, they even have Infinity-style banter dialogues; half of them are still somewhat bland and unfinished though. But along with the different graphic style and quality, all of this made it feel very much like playing one of the old Infinity game, and I loved that. Sadly, it also felt like the Infinity games due to its horrible pathfinding. Navigating your party through narrow corridors and tactical positioning in small rooms can quickly become a challenge in itself. And talking of tactical positioning - all of that is gone when you load a savegame, as the engine will only remember the position of your active character and then move all of your party members to that spot, regardless of where you carefully placed them before. If you save the game at the start of a battle, with your opponent on the other side of the room, it can also happen sonetimes that on loading the savegame, he's suddenly standing right behind you, happily slashing at your character already. And while you do have better control over your party members, you still need to keep a close eye on them and double check whether they're actually carrying out your orders or just canceled them for some reason (pathfinding issues, character condition etc.), because the game doesn't give you any warning feedback if they do.

The engine can generally feel a bit unresponsive and glitchy at times, a bit less polished than NWN, rubberbanding is a frequent occurency, and the most challenging battles I was fighting with the camera. Despite the game offering three different camera modes with lots of options to configure them, including "free" camera movement, I still didn't manage to find a way to handle the camera that really felt free and comfortable. Even the "free" camera gets constantly locked and doesn't allow you to scroll away or zoom out too far from your characters. I felt the camera was always a little too close to the characters to get a good overview without having your view obstructed by corner buildings, roofs and such. So I constantly had to scroll and turn and zoom in and out. The best camera perspective I got when I climbed up a hill so that the camera focussed on that higher terrain and then moved the party back to the valley below. The camera would stay in that zoomed out position and give me a better overview until I zoomed in - which would then lock the camera again and prevent me from zooming out that much another time. I thought the tactical mode was the most comfortable for handling battles, but on top of not allowing you to zoom out enough to get a good overview, it also doesn't allow you to lower the camera enough to see up a hill, from your characters POV. So if there's a steep road up a hill with a party of opponents waiting on top of it, in order to get them into your field of view, you need to switch to a mode that's close to first person view (which is inconvenient for moving by mouse clicking and for tactical positioning). Ironically, I noticed that if you use the "free" camera option, the camera gets locked even more often because it's buggy, and if you move up a hill, it frequently occurs that the camera zooms in even further so that you can only see the road directly in front of your characters' feet and not an enemy who's standing just a few steps further from them. A mod to completely free the camera from those shackles would have done wonders to make NWN2 feel so much more natural and enjoyable, but I didn't find one, so I had to adapt and live with its inconveniences.

I thought the story was more involving than the one of NWN (which I hated), but it also felt a bit patched together, with too many inconsistencies, too many factions and too many distractions from the main plot, in an effort to make it totally epic but IMO rather achieving the opposite and making it feel more random and silly. I thought all in all the campaign was too long for its own good. Some parts of it were awesome. I especially liked the ones were you had several exploration missions outside of Neverwinter, in different landscapes and dungeons, and of the dungeons I liked those best that had a good mix of varied combat encounters and puzzles. During those times I felt like I was playing a modern version of Baldur's Gate 2. But there were also long stretches of linear city questlines with unimaginative filler content which were pretty tedious, like slogging through a big but boring warehouse with nothing in it apart from the same group of pesky rogues and bandits over and over again, around every corner (and after fighting thieves for the umptieth time already). During those parts, the game did not feel like Baldur's Gate 2 at all, but like the worst of NWN's OC. Some parts of the story also felt unintentionally funny to me due to the discrepancy between the gameplay mechanics and the story-telling: *MILD SPOILERS* If your companions fall in combat, it doesn't really matter as long as one party member survives the battle, after which everyone will be up on their feet again, even if they had -120 HP shortly before; and you can always raise or resurrect them during combat anyway. But if the story requires one character to be dead, it's final, and noone even talks about the elephant in the room. And there was a hilarious moment when all playable characters were assembled and I had maybe eight companions or so in the party, and the story required them to stay together, and one of them would say "we can't be separated now", and one second later the engine asked me to limit my party to four of them (while the story continued to act as if all of them were still with me). Why?!? :D Especially considering that later you get to have all of them in the party, so that restriction wasn't due to the engine but only due to balancing and felt hilariously detached from the story-telling. */SPOILERS*

The economy in NWN2 was quite alright though. With the funds gained from selling all the superfluos magic loot I had collected, I managed to buy some very expensive equipment for my character that I liked, and the game offered enough options to relieve me of the rest of the money by having me invest in (ultimately meaningless but somewhat rewarding) flavor stuff (I'm not going to spoil it here, but I haven't seen a lot of RPGs do something like this). Although, are there any other packrats like me who wonder why so many RPGs choose to still dump that much mediocre but profitable loot and money on you during the linear finale without giving you a chance to sell it afterwards and exchange it for something of worth? It all feels so pointless that they even increase the loot during the parts where you least need it and should be most focussed on story instead of looting, especially considering that the next expansion will probably strip me of the inventory contents anyway ... Oh well.

Before I played NWN2, I've also played through Mysteries of Westgate. It was okay; as above, some good parts, some bad parts. Much less voice-acting, and the dialogues sometimes reminded me that this is more akin to a community module than a fully professional effort (although, to be fair, even Bioware's and Obsidian's writing can be cheesy and fourth-wall-breaking, and some members of the NWN community are excellent wordsmiths). One problem with MoW is that the choice of companions is badly balanced. I thought a rogue as player character might fit the setting, but it's actually the worst choice, since it means being stuck with two rogues in the party for the most time, while more useful classes (for combat) are missing. Another problem is that it's mostly a city adventure, and those are the parts that I liked the least about NWN2, because it often means running to and fro through the same locations over and over again, fighting with the camera in the streets between high houses obstructing your view, and having to deal with the pathfinding issues when trying to position your characters tactically in narrow rooms and corridors.

And speaking of MoW, I noticed that both the OC's and MoW's story had some of this silly adventure game logic going on: *SPOILERS FOR BOTH* In the OC you have to join the City Watch (or the thieves) and then do a ridiculous amount of quests for them, just because you need to speak with one guy on the other side of a locked gate?! In MoW you have to do all kinds of quests to raise a ridiculous amount of money that some guy asks of you for a passage on his ship, just because he can?! I mean compare that price to the cost of all the unique treasure items you could buy with it; some NPC even rewards you with like 1.000 gp after a quest and says you could buy a small kingdom for that, so I guess that Nigerian prin- er, ship's captain can now afford to buy half Faerun with his 60k or something, after he found himself an adventurer gullible enough to amass a fortune for him? :D *END SPOILERS*

Well, now that I've finished the OC (and now that I've finished to write down this wall-of-text that probably won't be read anyway :P), I'm finally ready for Mask of the Betrayer, which I expect to have the best story of all the official NWN products, from what I've heard.
Post edited March 16, 2021 by Leroux