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Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich (GOG)

This game is quite similar to the first game (Freedom Force) but I didn’t enjoy it as much. For one thing, the plot is less goofy. There are also more heroes, but less choice as to which heroes to assign to each mission. All the heroes also start stronger, so there is less customization. It’s not a bad game, just not nearly as good.
Epistory: Typing Chronicles

At first glance it seemed less than I expected, but after a while it grew on me. I guess it's one of those games that are a bit more than the sum of their parts, because the parts aren't all that original, but their combination is. It's got a bit of Bastion in it (shattered landscape is put together again as you explore, voiceover tells the characters story as it unfolds), mixed with typing mechanics and tower defense (it's the first typing game I've played, but I assume games like Typing of the Dead work similarly: enemies close in on you and you quickly have to type in their specific words in order to hurt them), then there is some simple RPG-like xp and abilities upgrade system, secrets and collectibles, a semi-open world to explore like in metroidvania games where you unlock more and more of the world once you learn new abilities. The story is one of those partially metaphorical narrations with a twist I've seen several times before (even in other videogames). A bit artsy, too.

But all in all, I liked it. The paper handicraft graphics are nice, the collectible illustrations even more so, the soundtrack and effects are cool, the areas are diversified and contain simple but enjoyable puzzles and challenges, and the four special attacks you learn during the course of the game add just a little bit of tactical gameplay to the typing arenas that replace boss battles. It took me something between 8-9 hours to play through the game and that was more or less the right length (about five differently themed chapters or 'levels' within the world). The arena battles came somewhat close to overstaying their welcome, but it was still alright, especially considering that some of them were optional and you don't really need to do everything in the game to max out all of your abilities. I won't be playing the independent Arena Mode the game also has to offer, but it's nice that they included it as an extra.
Leroux: Epistory: Typing Chronicles
I wish this one was available on GOG! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

I played the DRM-free demo available at IndieDB and I absolutely loved it. According to their website, a DRM-free version is on the works, so maybe there's hope to get it here. ^_^
<span class="bold">Mythic Wonders: The Philosophers Stone</span> (Android)

This one was part of the top-tier in the latest Artifex Mundi bundle. It was probably not worth it, but then again probably none of them were... with the exception of Grim Legends 3, which I've already started playing and, from what I've seen so far and compared to the other games in that bundle, it's clearly playing in another league.

The story in Mythic Wonders follows the typical HOPA pattern to the letter: pure-hearted protagonist saves the day after some relative/acquiantance of her fucks things up by meddling with ancient and arcane powers beyond their comprehension and control. The thing is I've reached a point where anything I could say about this game, I'd probably already have said it about another one before, so I'll just point out a couple of nitpicky things, both positive and negative, about it:

· The hidden object scenes (HOS) looked almost exactly the same both when 'viewed from a distance' and in 'full screen mode'. What I mean is that, when I spotted a HOS in a given location of the game and I opened it, what I got was a faithful scaled-up version of the small region of the screen I clicked on. More often than not, the full-screen HOS looks nothing like the corner of a room where the player has to click/tap in order to open it. I know it's a very minor thing, but the OCD-inclined part of my brain thanked it, as it's something that had always bothered me. (To be fair, I'd like to point out that The Secret Order 3's HOS were equally coherent, but I forgot to mention it in its review.)

· On the other hand, something that slightly annoyed me was the fact that the game's cover and promo art feature a read-headed woman, but then in the game's cutscenes the main character has black hair and looks nothing like the other girl. Why? Are they being black hair racists? /s

Apart from that, I've got nothing else of note to say about this game: it's a competent enough HOPA, but there are better ones out there... especially the ones developed by Artifex Mundi themselves (like Grim Legends 3 which as I've said I'm already playing right know and I'm enjoying quite a lot).

My list of finished games in 2016
To the moon
Not much of a game. Too short, too visual novel-like. The gameplay is barely worth mentioning and the puzzles are pitiful. The main male character spends most of the game being a comic relief and the female character is mostly bland.
The music is really good though and the story has its moments. Unfortunately the story also suffers from clichés, including one that I personally hate. You know the one:
Character A figures something out but doesn't tell character B, who thinks A is doing something bad and tries to stop her. And A could end the issue and solve the misunderstanding in ten seconds but never does and instead makes the whole thing even worse every time she opens her mouth because she refuses to explain her actions and tell the truth even though she has no reason not to.
I just can't stand this stupid cliché, it makes every character look like a moron.

Holiday minisode 1 + 2
They are supposed to expand on the characters from To the moon, but I didn't care much for those characters to begin with. Once again the gameplay is minimalistic and uninvolving. Even the computer game within a the game is bland. The story is not bad, I guess. Oh, and there aren't any big plotholes or clichés, unlike To the moon. This does work as a story but not as a game. Definitely not as a game.

The mirror lied
Short, experimental, no challenge, kind of meh if you ask me.
Splatterhouse. A classic arcade game that's essentially a variation on Kung Fu Master - you walk horizontally from left to right, beating up whatever gets in your way. The big angle here is that instead of martial artists or street thugs, the theme is horror movie stuff. You basically play as Jason Voorhees - a hulking brute in a bland jumpsuit and a hockey mask - and you beat the crap out of tons of squishy monsters in order to rescue your girlfriend from a haunted house. You're not literally Jason, of course, that would get a lawsuit. You're a just a guy who gets a magical mask fused to your face and which gives you the power to wreck everything in your way. But the general idea is pretty clear - when I first saw this game at an arcade, everyone was like, "Holy crap, it's Jason!"

This is a tough game because you don't have a very big life bar, it's very hard to get any of your lost energy back, and when you die you get sent back to a checkpoint. Also a big thing is that your guy controls in a very slippery, floaty kind of way and it can take some time to get used to it. That said, it's a very fair game and there is a clear, correct way to overcome every obstacle and enemy that you just have to figure out. For instance, there's a stage with a lot of slippery pit traps filled with dismembered hands like out of Evil Dead 2. This stage mulched a whole lot of my lives until I got the hang of the jump timing and now I can make it all the way to the end without taking a single hit, usually.

Judged strictly by gameplay, it might not be the most incredible thing ever, but for me the gimmick takes it a long way and I love it. Taking a 2x4 and swatting those slime monsters against the wall, or decapitating monsters with a meat cleaver never gets old for me.
Beach Bounce

A VN centered around a resort you have to temporary take over as your grandma is sick and at the hospital. Of course, the resort has lots of hot babes working there and you'll be romancing.

But it was one of the worst VN I ever played (not that I played so many, I have to say) since I got to a bad ending without having had the feeling of making any significant choice. Everything is going well and a couple of screens later, goodbye, you lost!

...Okay, but i can't see how I could have "won", since none of the choices presented to you make any real impact. Stupid.

Of course, I won't play through it again to unlock any other route. On the good side this bad ending only took me 1 hour of "play"...

So far in 2016:
Prominence [Humble Store, DRM-free version]

A sci-fi adventure game, in the same style as DarkFall and EtherOne but set somewhere in space

I really liked the game, it had an interesting storyline and narration, often quite surprising. The settings were well-made.The puzzles had the perfect balance for me; the majority of them were challenging enough to make me really think but not as difficult as to make me consult a walkthrough or guide. The puzzles were definitely more intuitive than those in JULIA Among the Stars, to give some kind of reference.

There was one part of the game though, where I only made progress through sheer luck, something I would not have figured out otherwise. It has to do with the elevators, that's all I want say in order to avoid spoilers. It would be very, very easy to get stuck at that particular part of the game.

My playthrough took me 12-15 hours, I like being thorough and some of the puzzles were indeed very challenging.
You can save wherever and whenever you want.
I had no technical problems at all with the game, it ran perfectly on Windows 10.
Post edited October 06, 2016 by Ricky_Bobby
<span class="bold">Moebius: Empire Rising</span>

I guess it's official: modern adventure games are not for me. In case you wonder, I don't mean adventure games released in the last few years: I quite enjoyed the Deponia and The Book of Unwritten Tales series, Anna's Quest, or Fran Bow, to name a few. No, I mean this kind of adventure games where the narrative and 'conceptual puzzles' take precedence over inventory, objects and interactive hotspots. Don't get me wrong, I do really enjoy purely narrative games, but I don't tend to react well to half measures.

And to me, Moebius: Empire Rising felt like a wishy-washy attempt to combine classic object-based puzzles with other types of challenges. Since the main protagonist is a weird guy with eidetic memory and an almost supernatural intuition, some of these alternative puzzles consist in deducing the traits and motivations of the NPCs he meets (not unlike Hercule Poirot's "grey cells" puzzles in Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders), even before talking to them. And then there's another type which involves some sort of pattern matching, but I'm not gonna explain it in further detail in order to avoid spoilers. In and of themselves these challenges/puzzles/whatever are interesting enough (though they either become tedious pretty quickly or feel like "guess what the devs were thinking" contests, as many options seem equally plausible but only one of them is true), but the other more traditional puzzles feel like an afterthought in comparison, and they in general are almost insultingly easy. Now, I must confess I had never played a game by Jane Jensen before, so I don't really know whether this has always been her style or not, but I seriously doubt the Gabriel Knight games are like this.

There's one particular thing about this game that seems to annoy many reviewers, but I found quite neat myself: at first, the protagonist refuses to pick up any object unless he has already identified a use for it. After playing uncountable adventures with characters only one step away from developing a full Diogenes syndrome, I appreciated this little realist touch. But here's where this game's half-hearted nature strikes again, as halfway through the game the protagonist just forgets about this principle of his and starts taking everything he cames across. Oh, well...

More on the technical side, I'm pretty sure most of you are aware of the horrible and grotesque character animations featured in this game. They are SO BAD, that they became the main source of the amusement (when not open laughter) I drew from it. But it's a real pity, because otherwise the 3D-rendered character models and the 2D handpainted backgrounds fit perfectly together... with the strange exception of the horribly pixelated background in Cairo (see attached screenshot). Makes me wonder if they perhaps forgot to replace a temporal concept art with an enhanced HD version, and the former made it into the final version of the game...

The story is also a mixed bag. The main plot revolves around a ludicrous """scientifical""" theory, but it's exposed in a thriller/suspense fashion that managed to grip me for a good while. But it all falls apart when the big mystery is revealed too early and the game only drags from that point on: plot-wise, but also gameplay-wise, culminating in a completely dull and uninspired final chapter.

So yeah, I'm glad I got it for real cheap during GOG's last Summer Sale, because otherwise it wouldn't feel worth of its price. Well, at least it made laugh quite a lot, although probably not at the times and situations the devs expected me to do it.

My list of finished games in 2016
fullhd.jpg (363 Kb)
Finished game number 12!

After long hours of battling in Quick Battles in Soulcalibur V on PS3, I have finally few minutes ago finished all 240 of them. The battles were at the beginning boringly easy, but after getting to rank B, the shit started to hit the fan. Some Rank A and B fights were so crazy hard, that I have spent really long time repeating these battles until I finally defeated them. The difficulty of CPU combatants is made bigger with the cheapest way.

The AI reacts to your button presses, so if you are unlucky, they kick your ass before you are able to block at least once. They love to move you to the corner and unleash their combos there, so you have even less chance to block them, unless you are pro and know how to Just Guard perfectly. But for an old fart like myself, with bad reflexes, Just Guarding is most of the time out of question :-/ Anyway, even though the last 60 CPU fighters were big pain in the ass and I have few times, out of anger thrown my controller to the pillow, which I put next to my chair, I was having lot of fun!

Next in line Crusader Kings Complete, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and last few trophies missing in Soulcalibur V.

You can find my complete list of finished games in 2016 is here
Post edited October 07, 2016 by MMLN
Finished Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It was fun but the first half was a bit bland. I just quit the DLC though as it was tedious and not very fun.

Full list here.
Post edited October 07, 2016 by sebarnolds
Actual Sunlight

PS Vita

A... VN ? (I guess) dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. For me, it was 1 hour wasted. Glad I got it on the Playstation + program and that I played it while commuting to work.

It's not actually a game, even maybe not really a VN, since there seems to be only one path and one outcome. Yes, you can click on things, but there's only one effect.

The character is totally unlikable and I just couldn't relate to him in any thing. I guess that "game" wasn't for me. Plus frankly, who ever still does that very annoying typewriting sound when a text appears on screen? Given that this game is mostly text, you'd better play it sound off. Not that you will miss anything about the music...

A waste of time. Do not recommend.

So far in 2016:
<span class="bold">OlliOlli</span>

OlliOlli is a side-scrolling skateboarding game. There are 25 levels available, each level has 5 achievements to unlock, you may progress through all of the 25 levels with no restriction, you can just ignore the achievements and have fun. However, if you want to play in pro mode, which is the rebuild version of the 25 levels, but on a much harder difficulty, then you will need to unlock every achievement in each level.
The game has a very basic control scheme, however, the control scheme is a little different to what you may be used to in other games, using only the "A" button, shoulder buttons, and left analog stick ("A" is not the jump button, you need to press "A" just before you land). Also, the game features a few tutorials, I highly encourage anyone to finish those before they start.

Complete list of games finished in 2016.
<span class="bold">Grim Legends 3: The Dark City</span> (Android)

As I anticipated while reviewing the previous HOPA game I played, Grim Legends 3 was the indisputable star from the recent Humble Artifex Mundi Bundle. It's waaaaay better than the rest of that bundle's line-up in every single aspect:

· Better visuals: the graphic design is excellent, depicting an appropriately grim steampunk-ish setting. The main characters are members of a secret order and their aesthetics are pretty cool, but they perhaps draw too much inspiration from the Assassin's Creed franchise. Special mention for the animated cutscenes, which are orders of magnitude better than those in other HOPAs.

· Better story: even though (as usual) the plot was chock-full of the occult and the supernatural, the story had some actual substance to it and it was competently delivered so as to maintain my interest during the whole playthrough.

· Better game design: not many hidden object scenes, and all of them were of the 'visual' kind, i.e. no lists of purposely ambiguous words. Many of the puzzles were quite original and all of them, even those that looked like the umpteenth variation of a typical template, made perfect sense in the context of the story and didn't feel out of place. To further increase its 'freshness factor', this game introduces a bunch of cool new things: combinable and manipulable inventory objects, some 'open the box'-type of puzzles, and a logic-based pseudo-combat mechanic.

The additional bonus chapter, while quite good in and of itself, clearly pales in comparison to a top-notch main adventure. But this minuscule black spot cannot prevent me to wholeheartedly recommend Grim Legends 3: fans of the genre will adore it for sure, but I also think it could serve as an introduction to the genre for those of you who are considering giving these casual-ish adventures a try.

PS: The reason why this game is so good is clear and simple. It's because it was developed by Artifex Mundi themselves, and not by a third party. The quality gap between both products is so huge that I think from now on I'll restrict myself to Artifex Mundi's original HOPAs only. Unless of course there's a new bundle, in which case I'm sure I'll bite again. :P
Puzzle Agent 2

Like it's predecessor, this is a charming game with a goofy plot, amusing animation, quality voicework and...lackluster puzzles. The majority of the puzzles are quite simple, with a handful of puzzles with difficulty spikes that in most cases derive from the puzzles just not having explanation/direction.

While it's not a big deal if you aren't really trying for a "perfect" score, I would suspect that would be pretty hard to do.

There's really no replay value b/c even the puzzles that were challenging the first time (for lack of direction) are incredibly simple the second time. So in short, it's about 5 hours of amusement - a decent appetizer anyway.