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Tiny Tales: Heart of the Forest and The Myth Seekers - The Legacy of Vulcan

As of late I've been forced to run on limited hardware, both of the silicon-based as well as the carbon-based variety, so I've only been in a position to play games with low specs and non-demanding, casual gameplay. Luckily I still had two remaining Artifex Mundi HOPAs, so I went for them.

None of them was developed by Artifex Mundi themselves, and it shows. They are quite recent though, so at least they don't suffer from the flaws of earlier HOPAs, like repetitive and boring hidden object scenes, or nonsensical puzzles totally disconnected from the game world and the environment you find them in. But at the same time, none of them felt like a 'must play' to me.

Tiny Tales: Heart of the Forest is a fairy tale where tiny humanoids and small furry animals live together. Its hand-painted graphics are nice enough, but the animation is so bad that I cannot really recommend it. It earns some bonus points for having a couple of arcadey minigames I had never seen in a HOPA before.

On the other hand, The Myth Seekers - The Legacy of Vulcan is a sort of historical and mythical mishmash with an Ancient Roman background. This one sports nicely rendered and animated 3D character models over hand-painted backgrounds, so it looks much better than Tiny Tales. Unfortunately, neither the story nor the puzzles and hidden object scenes are up to par with the visual department, so the end result is again rather mediocre.

In summary, I'd only recommend any of these two games to hardcore fans of the genre that have already played most of the rest of HOPAs out there.

My list of finished games in 2018

Heroes of Might & Magic V

Great game. Maybe not as good as HOMM2 or 3, but a very good one. I had not completed any HOMM games since the third one. I tried 4 and 6 and just lost interest soon after starting.

Impulse purchase on its going away sale. Solidly meh game, nothing to recommend it over other third person action games, and plenty to recommend against. I liked the deviations from the normal gameplay (set-piece turrents, Lady Death's levels, the few short sections where it morphed into another genre of game for a few minutes, etc) much more than the core gameplay. I finished it out of spite, but should have quit around the 3/4 mark, I would have liked the overall experience more.
Gemini Rue and then Resonance

Finally got to them many years after my purchase. Both were very competent, Resonance having a clear edge gameplay and polish wise. But both games excelled in their stories and ambiance. Excellent games to play and finish in one sitting on a Sunday afternoon.
Grow Home

Game where you play wobbly robot on the quest to make his beanstalk grow 2000 meters in this mostly harmless world to get back to his space ship.
I was not impressed at first as it doesn't handle too well and I was falling much more then I'd be able to accept but as I unlocked rockets, improved them and also got to leaves (and gained ninja suit at the endgame), I started to enjoy it much more.
That improved mobility helped me a lot and I would be happy if one was to start with some of it.
Once I unlocked infinite flight and was able to almost completely circumvent the main mechanic of the game that climbing is, the game tunred into great playground and I would love if there was more to do at that point.
It took me some 9 hours of casual gameplay to collect everything there is and unlock every single achievement.
But if one was just to get up as quickly as possible and didn't care for anything else (IMO, it would be missing out on substance of the game) it could be likely done in less than 2 hours.
It ran well and only bug I encoutnered was that at some moment it started to disconnected my controlled each time I grew new stalk for a second and I fell down but it was easily fixed by unplugging and plugging it back.
I would say it is good game that I enjoyed much more when I got used to it and got more movement options.
I think it was long just as it needed but I would like it if there was less pre-endgame content and more endgame one.

List of 2018 games.
Finished Chuchel, the last game from Amanita Design. I am a bit disppointed by the game. It sure looks good but the story is a bit thin and the link between two puzzles too. It seems they did what they wanted to do when they wanted to do without caring for some consistency. It only lasts two hours too. Also, I don't recommend paying for the artbook and the soundtrack.

Full list here.
Lords of the Fallen (XB1X)

The game that the critics labelled a substandard Souls clone. Dark Souls and Bloodborne are my favorite action RPG's by far, so the critcs sort of put me off until all these years later. Well, they're wrong. It's not a direct clone of the Souls games and has a very different feel of it's own. It does use the exact control scheme as Dark Souls yes, that's because it works really well. You don't expect General Motors to make cars with three wheels because Ford was already making them with four. What works, works. So yes, Lords has a similar weighty, slow and deliberate combat. If you swing a big heavy hammer, there is no pulling your swing. Connect and you stagger the opponent even if they do block. The combat feels good, provided you're not an incurable button masher.

Everything else feels different to Dark Souls. In one particular area especially: when you save at a safe spot, the enemies on the map do NOT re-spawn. Enemies only re-spawn when you die and start back at your last save. It makes all the difference in how you play Lords of the Fallen. Plus you can bank your experience at the same points and level without enemies re-spawning. All this suited my favorite play style...carefully explore every corner of every map and kill everything. Then work out what needs to be done without annoying things trying to kill me. I hate things trying to kill me when I'm trying to think, it's distracting.

Also, you play a predefined and voiced character that is tailored to the story. I'd describe this game as a standard western RPG that simply uses the Souls' more realistic and weighty combat in place of the "click as fast as you can" sort that most action RPG's use.

I enjoyed it a lot, on it own terms for what it is. Even the much criticised voice acting I thought was spot on for the setting, especially Harkyn your character- who reminds me in character of one of the Glegane brothers from GOT, just a brute that doesn't say much and has a very simple sarcastic warriors outlook on things. What is unfortunate is the poor (almost non existent) lip syncing which does let down the voice work.

A lot of people with Xbox's and PS4's have this game as it has been a GwG and PS Plus game on both's worth giving it a try, it's not all time classic material but it's also a lot better than it's rated.
Post edited March 20, 2018 by CMOT70
Finished Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One yesterday. It's okay but not much more.

First of all: they did address some of the biggest gripes I had with Halo 4. There was finally some pretty stunning locations again that made me look around in awe, however, without O'Donnell's music it's just not that same alien experience as in the original trilogy. They did somewhat restore the "scale" of the earlier games with more characters, more spectacular scenes, more defined stakes etc. (heck, in the very first mission you participate in some epic mass battle) but this weird format where you skip around between two heroes basically means that through half the game I didn't care what was going on because meanwhile the other one was well ahead of me and that was the part I actually cared about.

I also didn't like that throughout the whole campaign you're always on the move with exactly three other characters, presumably the characters other players would control in coop, particularly characters who will always respawn very soon if they die. It made the whole thing feel highly artificial to me. There were no moments where I'm alone, I never had to fear that the other characters are going to be killed off because I knew that for the sake of coop they'd have to stay alive until the very end. That really took a lot of tension out of the experience and kinda lessened my own role in the story. I felt more like I'm just there to trigger scripted events as I advance through the levels, not like I'm controlling the hero.

And other than that it's same old, same old. The same guns, the same enemies, the same vehicles. Just don't care anymore. They added some dash move that I didn't use much. And the story... well, I didn't care much for it. Cortana has gone full Kerrigan. She developed from a decent but small character into the centre of the franchise and I just don't like her in that role. Still, the ending was decent and I actually really want to see how things end up in Halo 6 although going by 343's track record I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be disappointed.

Anyway, a good console shooter but meh Halo.

Oh yeah: I had to facepalm pretty hard when it occurred to me that the two protagonists' names add up to "John Locke".
Post edited March 20, 2018 by F4LL0UT
1. Ys IV (PCE CD)
2. Exile (w/ Unworked Designs patch)(PCE CD)
3. Macross 2036 (PCE CD)
4. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PC)
5. AM2R (PC)
6. TaleSpin (NES)
7. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (PC)
8. Super Mario 64 (N64)
9. Star Fox 64 (N64)
10. Thunder Force V (US ver.)(PS1)
11. Kirby's Adventure Wii (Wii)
12. Caesar III (PC)
13. Final Fantasy Adventure (GB)
14. Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (PC)
15. Märchen Maze (ARC)
16. Ys: The Ark of Napishtim (PC, 2015 ver.)
17. Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (PC)

I was kind of in two minds about this one and it took me months to complete due to padding, but ultimately the good outweighs the bad. Combat and dungeon designs are really strong, the atmosphere is great when exploring on your own and there's just enough customization to please number junkies.

18. Vixen 357 (MD)

A JP-only TBS/SRPG which was fan translated fairly recently. I'd say it's on par with or maybe even a bit better than Warsong/Langrisser 1 but it was later surpassed in the same generation by SF2, Langrisser 2 etc.
Post edited March 23, 2018 by ResidentLeever

Design and music are definitely the strong points of this game. Gameplay is mediocre at best. You have to solve physics-based platform puzzles. Some are good, some are quite boring. The bonus level after you found all twelve stars is cool though. All in all it's a very relaxing game.

Complete list of finished games in 2018
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl

Great game; I'm not much of a shooter fan, but I really enjoyed the combat in this game. Enemy AI is actually pretty impressive...more than once my character was killed by an enemy who had flanked my position and sneaked up on me to get close for the kill :-) Story was hard to follow, but atmosphere was fantastic.
Definitely recommended, even if you don't care much for shooters. 4/5 from me, because it does have a few minor flaws.
Radiant Historia, Mar 23 (DS)-This is easily the best game I've played so far this year. I really liked the story and I thought the mechanic of switching between histories was great. The grid based battle system was new to me (but probably present in many titles) and pushing enemies around the map gave it an almost puzzle-like feel. Only a couple of issues: some of the side quests were very obscure and required a lot of backtracking, I thought Dias and Selvan's endings were pretty lame, and the last two or three battles were incredibly difficult and required a fair bit of grinding to beat.

Full List
Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death

Not that bad of a FPS actually.
Xcom 2 finished.

On veteran non iron mode. I don't have time and patience for iron mode for the game. enjoyable. War of chosen next time but not now
The Turing Test (Xbox One)

It's made by the same people that did Pneuma Breath of Life, which was a game that I also enjoyed. It's a first person puzzle solver. It starts very simple to introduce the basic concept to the puzzles and over the course of the 70 puzzle rooms the game slowly ramps up the complexity and introduces new concepts or variations on the theme. Each of the 7 chapters also has an optional puzzle room that usually requires some slightly sideways thinking on the already established rules.

It was quite good, even if by the end of the chapter 7 I was getting a bit over it...just like by the end of Portal I was glad it ended when it did. Any longer for this type of game would be too much.

What tied it all together and kept me going was the story. To mention too much would be a bad spoiler. But it explored real world themes and ideas that have always intrigued me. Essentially, if you've read Asimov's Robot stories and the themes about whether machines can gain the human abilities of empathy, morals etc. And would it even be a good idea? Mother Nature with no sense of morals, culls imperfections and obtains perfect balance, whilst we with our morals and made up versions of right and wrong, achieve nothing but imbalance and destruction. Maybe emotionless machines in control would be better. You can basically end the game in two different ways depending on how you feel about the above.

It's an Unreal 4 game and looks great...though there is no variety in locations, it all set on a future base on one of Jupiter's moons and pretty much every room looks the same. Pneuma at least had more visual variety.
Music was very appropriate, as was the voice acting. It's on Xbox, PS4 and Steam. It takes about 6-7 hours if you are thorough in looking for and reading extra story elements like PDA's and such. A bit shorter if you just run through it doing the puzzles only.

I hope these guys are working on more games.