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Themken: I want to continue my playthrough but got tired of not finding my way through the underwater labyrinth. Drowning over and over again is not fun. Any advice how to? Were you just lucky to find the path soon enough?
Hm, I don't even remember an underwater labyrinth. I started somewhen earlier this year and took my time, with several breaks in between ... Is that in the sewers or where? If the way is too long to dive without drowning, maybe there was an item to use in order to breath underwater? Sorry I can't be of more help. Not sure if I had the same problem or not, but if I got stuck for a longer time, I went to consult a walkthrough.
Post edited December 15, 2023 by Leroux
Just beat Crush Your Enemies. I've actually seen this one even before release all the way back in like 2016 and I've always been intrigued by it but never got around to play it. So, a few days ago I spontaneously decided to just give it a go.

It's a cute little RTS game where the map covers just a single screen and you control entire formations of up to 50 Viking dudes. I've always found its pixel art style and animations super inviting, it also has very nice audio including a soundtrack by Marcin Przybyłowicz of Witcher 3 fame (and admittedly it does sound a lot like GWENT, lol).

It honestly feels like something that Bullfrog or the Bitmap Brothers could have made (if they were 20-something metalheads from Poland, I suppose). The formula is quite simple: generally you indeed have to just crush your enemies. There are buildings in fixed locations and if you send people inside they either reproduce or immediately become a different type of unit with unit types having a rock-paper-scissors kind of thing going on. And the map consists of tiles which have an allegiance and you must capture a tile by standing on it for a while before you can go further or capture buildings. That's basically all there is to it, though in later levels the game does introduce a few twists like having to gather wood and meat in order construct captured buildings or get more guys.

The thing about the game is that it's ridiculously frantic and fast-paced. The AI is pretty dumb (and it is quite helpless and super exploitable on the levels that feature resource gathering) but things happen very fast and you generally have to act immediately if you don't want to get hopelessly overrun. It so happens that I generally enjoy fast-paced RTS games, and I've enjoyed a lot about the game but is has really tested my limits. And honestly, the end result of the game's design is quite weird. One moment it feels super simplistic and almost trivial and suddenly you have to deconstruct the level in advance like a puzzle and plan out almost your entire strategy before you even launch the battle if you want to stand any chance. I'm still not quite sure what to think of it. I mean, I guess that I've enjoyed the game for the most part, there have been many very satisfying moments but it is a game that will frustrate and even anger you sometimes.

I suppose the most annoying thing about the game is that the UI is almost shockingly clunky given the game's lightning fast pace. Basically you can only order your guys to move, they will automatically engage in melee if they enter a tile that is occupied by enemies and ranged units will automatically shoot at enemies or support allies on adjacent tiles. However, practically with every order you must also choose how many guys to send through a little panel. When sending everyone it isn't that bad, a double-click will usually do, but whenever you want to send just a few guys or cancel an order you can just feel how you're losing valuable seconds because you're fighting a bizarre interface - and a single misclick or a slow decision can have really terrible consequences. Any melee encounter will only end once one of side is completely defeated and archers pin down the formation they are attacking so the smallest mistake can spell doom. And because of the game's peculiar mechanics you can (and often absolutely should) draw the entire path that the formation should take which is again pretty clunky, slow and prone to misclicks. So considering all these things it's just not a comfortable game to play.

Then there's the matter of the game's style and humor. I mentioned that the game seems like something made by metalheads. There's a surprisingly large amount of far too long dialogue and it's all super absurd and features a lot of lowbrow humor. I suppose that when the game came out I may have enjoyed its style that kinda makes fun of the "big boring games" but in this day and age it feels pretty cringey and unnecessarily devoid of any class to me. Admittedly the game has made me chuckle a few times but one of the wittiest lines in the game is a fat joke which probably illustrates pretty well what we're dealing with here.

But still... I kinda really like the game. It isn't the most clever RTS game out there, there are some serious issues in its execution, but it's also very original and it's certainly made with love. And in the end the satisfying moments outweigh the bad ones in my eyes. Also, personally I appreciate that it's a pretty short game that can be fully finished in 6-8 hours (depending on how many optional battles and objectives you do). If you have any issues with time pressure you seriously gotta stay away from this one, though.
Post edited December 18, 2023 by F4LL0UT
I made a mistake and started playing the recently free Half Life on HARD. Just finished it.

I'm a bit better than average in FPS games. But I really don't know if it rust as I rarely play FPS nowadays or my reflex getting caught by my age or if the HARD difficulty on this particular games are indeed hard. I really have some difficulty finishing them. But yea, also stuck in some places like On A Rail makes me look at some online guides. If other players not really confident in their FPS skill looking to make their first play through I recommend playing at normal difficulty.

It is a GREAT game though, if I played it circa its initial release I would adore it more.
Post edited December 19, 2023 by zlaywal
the second game by the Octodad devs, sadly not on GOG (yet?).

So, I just wrote a long review and then lost it due to a bad connection or something, and I was a second too slow to save all the text before it vanished. Oh well.

The somewhat shorter version is ...

I liked the game but wished I could have liked it even more. Despite reminding me of several other things (like Slime Rancher, Pokemon or Journey to the Savage Planet with Muppets, er, "Grumpuses"), it's pretty unique and original. And for that I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time, even though I had some criticisms, like the characters being too extreme and goofy for me to find them likable or relatable, and because of that, sometimes I would have preferred if the dialogues had been a little shorter than they were. But they were still excellently voiced. And I thought the game mechanics had potential to be even more fun than they were, if puzzles had been a little more intuitive, instead of oscillating between too easy and too obsure, and if tools had been explained a little better (preferably by showing, not telling) and then used for more creative puzzles. Plus I didn't like the "over 100 challenges" that the new free DLC added, because they felt like very cheap ways to prolong the game length, akin to achievement tasks, and when I didn't fully realize yet that they were not really part of the main story, they risked to dilute the experience and make me a bit tired of the game. That being said, I thought the new area that the DLC added was great, and all in all it was a fun ride, despite these flaws.
Post edited December 19, 2023 by Leroux
Smushi Come Home

I don't have anything bad to say about it. It took me by surprise how similar - in a good way - it is to A Short Hike, which was an obvious inspiration and a high bar to reach, but Smushi delivered. A Short Hike is still my no. 1 of cute relaxing open world platformers with simple retro graphics, but Smushi comes close enough (IMO closer than Haven Park, which was decent, and Mail Time, which I couldn't really get into).
Gears of War 4, Dec 20 (Xbox Game Pass)-It's fun but it's a pretty generic cover shooter. It looked and sounded great but the basic gameplay wasn't anything special. The couple of defend the base/fabrication levels were uninspired. I did like the enemy variety with both mechs, locust, and whatever the new things were to fight.. The repetitiveness of the levels got old quick. I did enjoy it more than the Halo games though.

Full List
Post edited December 21, 2023 by muddysneakers
Nioh 2 (PS5)

Very much a refinement of the formula from the first game. This time you create your own character rather than playing as a blonde-haired Samurai called Bill. Most of the enemies return in new varieties, plus some new ones. You select from the same types of weapons- I went with spears again.

I feel that the game was slightly easier than the first game, just like Elden Ring the game gives you lots of tools to help you out. If you cannot formulate a build and play style to see you through, then I think you're not really trying. I never came across any bosses that held me up for any length of time, unlike Hino Enma in the first game. In fact, I had more trouble with some of the regular enemies- I never really figured out those snake ladies and dreaded every encounter with them, likewise those Ubume enemies. Like all Dark Souls like games, diligence, care and a methodical unrushed approach makes the game easier than expected. There are shitloads of bosses, at least one for each of the 22 main levels, plus all the optional side missions. Mostly the bosses were quite good, with the exception of the God of War style gimmick bosses- but there were only a couple of those.

The story is more fantastical than the first game, I admit that I sort of tuned out of the story towards the end- it's a bit longer than it needed to be. It's good how it eventually ties back to the first game in the final levels. Overall, it matches the first Nioh in all ways and is a great game...but I think I prefer Wo Long Fallen Dynasty that Team Ninja released this year.

The PS5 version is good, it's called remastered- though I'm not sure what's remastered about it. I think it's the PS4 Pro game with the 60fps mode boosted to 4K and the 1080p mode runs unlocked- not sure if it's 120fps locked, but it's definitely way above 60, with a freesync TV it's the best mode to play this one in. The game actually looks great in its 1080p mode- it must be using high quality AA or maybe even some form of AMD's resolution upscaling.
Post edited December 21, 2023 by CMOT70
I finally finished Postal 2 with the Cow-Demon ending, which Postal 4 is a sequel to so yay. I got all the way through Monday-Friday without ever killing anyone, but 2 demonic Garys throwing grenades from window seals at the hospital ruined that record for me. (Could I have jumped on them like goombas?) Then while culling the mad cows, PETA gave me enough trouble that I treated them the same. The publisher office is where I really let loose, since it's impossible to pass the metal detector without incurring the wrath of security. Except by "let loose", I mean I fully embraced the psychotic mental space the game allows and let live only unarmed men. Taliban were shown exactly the amount of mercy they deserved until the army arrived and took live POWs. Between being wrongfully imprisoned (I was totally helping, you ungrateful jerks) and measures to prevent my escape being so overwhelming, I saw fit to defend myself from every soldier (and dog) on the way out until zombies arrived and I let them handle each other. Zombies continued to serve as a valuable distraction for most of my trip back into the publisher office. At the pound, the hillbilly sickos who kidnapped me have their rapey mitts on pets dressed in bondage and every dog was given a hearty dinner of mercy. With my own Champ leading the way, the zig-zag around vehicle blockades on the bridge was riddled with many soldiers, zombies, and and even a few civvies that were all mercifully relieved of their heads before the nuke I left at the publisher goes off. But one last hurdle before we book it: a demon appears before me and proudly claims responsibility for inventing and spreading mad-cow disease, which was already said to be the source of zombie infection. I had to read a walkthrough to confirm that I should shoot the floating things over his head before shooting the demon directly, but the last part was done quick with the overpowered double-barrel shotgun.

What I'd really like to know is how do I unlock the non-canon ending with Giant Champ and Bitch Wife? What choices are made and when/where?
Post edited December 28, 2023 by LegoDnD
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (aka Yakuza 7)

I am still a fledgling fan of Yakuza (only beat 0, 1, and 2 prior to this) so jumping to 7 is not recommended but you still dont really have any issues making the jump. Starring new protagonist Kasuga Ichiban, the game shifts from an open world action game into a RPG system.

As a Yakuza series entry, the story is a little predictable but great. Unlike former protagonist Kiryu, Ichiban is more goofy and silly. He isnt stoic and the RPG mechanic is explained as a figment of his imagination, his love for Dragon Quest manifesting his enemies as more fantastical in the real world. Although I dont want to delve into spoilers, its a good story for me.

The gameplay is where I take some issues to be honest. As a first attempt at an RPG, its decent with some action. The turn system with no ATB is good for beginners who are new to RPGs because they can take time to choose what action or move to take. There is a decent variety of moves to target weaknesses (ice, fire, electricity, blunt, knife, bullet) as well as some status effects. However, like alot of RPGs, I found the status effect moves to rarely work with the only kind of reliable status effect being stun from thunder attacks. It was often better to quickly take down enemies with aeo attacks than to attempt to stall with status effects. The job system was quite interesting, following the basics of tanks, mages, healers, and warriors and the ability to retain some moves from certain job classes encourages job switching. Getting prepared by gaining access to a wide variety of moves innately results in overlevelling however.

What I do take issue with is the lack of defensive or status impacting moves. Although there are some moves to decrease enemy stats (namely accuracy), there are no moves by the player to debuff enemy damage. There also arnt any normal moves to buff up our party's defense, the only move being a summon/poundmate which costs money to use and cant be used repeatedly. Although this isnt necessary except for the final boss in the hardest bonus dungeon, I do think this lack of options is a drawback in Like a Dragon's RPG system. I am assuming that part of defense was meant to come from the "just guard" mechanic where you press the defend button just as an attack connects to reduce some damage but the timing is often weird with some attacks being very hard to defend against and

Yakuza is famous for its multitude of side missions and minigames as well and Like a Dragon does not disappoint in this regard. In addition to the basic gambling games, Like a Dragon introduces Dragon Kart which is basically a Mario Kart ripoff. Although not as innovative as Mario Kart, it is not bad for a free mini game. The Part-Time Hero missions also add some nice side content to give the player more stuff to do with extra battles or item collection. Substories are generally good with some being godly and I enjoyed how they help flesh out Ichiban's character further.

Overall, I did think this was a good first attempt by Ryu Ga Gotoku studios but it is lacking as an RPG battle system. Given the sequel infinite wealth seems to be addressing some issues (ability to move characters for better aoe of attacks), they may also expand the range of moves in terms of applicability and improve the way difficulty is implemented in this game.
Maquette, Dec 22 (Xbox Gamepass)-Interesting narrative and good voice acting. But the actual gameplay is awful. Awkward controls, obtuse puzzles, and at least one game breaking glitch. Most of the time I didn't know where to go let alone what the puzzle was and trying to manipulate objects was painful. Really a let down on the puzzle front which isn't great for a puzzle game.

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Amerzone: The Explorer's Legacy (GOG)

Bought it in the current sale so that I could finally play the precursor to the Syberia games. Well, it's not as good as the first two Syberia games, but I wasn't expecting it to be either. It's still an okay 4 hour journey. The puzzles are relatively easy, as long as you find the pixel hunt items or locations that you need. If you scan each screen with your cursor like you're mowing your grass, then you will get through. The story is a bit weird, like Syberia, but has little resolution- it doesn't really make much sense in the context of why you even did what you did in the end.

For me the game froze a lot, on Windows 10. It seemed totally random when it would freeze up, each time requiring a restart and reload of the latest save. So, save often if you don't want to repeat segments that you've already done.
Jusant, Dec 25 (Xbox Gamepass)-I was surprised how much I liked this puzzle climber. It reminded me of Rime and maybe Hob. Gameplay is really relaxing and not too tough. It tells a bit of a sad story if you wish to explore the sidepaths to find the various letters left behind. The camera could get wonky at times if you managed to climb in a weird path and sometimes the rope physics would do ridiculous things but it was still pretty fun.

Full List
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Just finished it yesterday evening. I finished the first Legacy of Kain (Blood Omen) earlier this year.
This left me with more positive than negative feelings, and overall I liked it, and consider it a classic game.


+ I liked the story, and it is interesting how the protagonist from the first game is the antagonist in this game.

+ The atmosphere was overall quite great, including the subtle music and sound effects in the background.

+ The combat is quite forgiving as you can't really die, and if you feel you are overwhelmed in the "material plane" combat, you can always just switch back to "spectral plane" to regain health, and switch back to material plane to finish the job. This alleviates a lot one of the negatives (save game system).

+ I liked most of the gameplay. Combat was brutal and satisfying when you impale your enemies and devour their souls, and I really liked most of the puzzle sections which usually weren't that hard to figure out if you were observant, but still gave you a nice feeling of discovery.

+ The graphics of the GOG version are quite good considering the game's age. Most people have probably played this game on Playstation (PSX/PSOne), and i didn't recall the Playstation version originally looked so muddy compared to this sharp and crisp PC/GOG version:

Even if you play the Playstation version in a higher resolution and smoother + perspective corrected textures on an emulator or something, it still apparently has that PSX trademark "texture popping in the sides of the screen" that doesn't happen in the PC/GOG version.


- At least at first the whole "switch back and forth between the spectral and material plane" mechanism felt quite disorientating and odd, raising questions like why did there have to be such a mechanism at all in the game. On a positive side it did add a bit of flavor and "weirdness" to the atmosphere, reminding you that Raziel is not a mere mortal, but still.

Even towards the end I was occasionally irritated when I had been wandering around cluelessly how to proceed in the game, the answer was that I was supposed to change from material to spectral world in a certain room, as that would change the dimensions of that room so that I could proceed (e.g. some crack on the wall would open, some platform would lower down so that you could reach it etc. To me that just felt gimmicky and irritating, banging your head to the wall just because it didn't occur to you to check the other plane as well, just in case.

- Platform jumping and controls. At least if you play with a keyboard, the controls are quite "twitchy" which is a problem with precise platform jumping and energy bolt shooting parts. This made some platform jumping sections quite aggravating.

- The save game system was odd, and it took me a long time to finally understand how it actually works.
So you can save the game at any point... but if you load a game, you always start in the very beginning of the game?

What the save does is that it saves the state of the world, but not your position in it. So it is a good idea to always save when you solve some time-consuming puzzle or flip a switch to open a new door elsewhere as those will stay solved/open after a reload... but you still have to travel to that point from the beginning. Generally you do this through the teleports, so make extra sure you don't miss any teleport beacons that you can activate, in order to minimize the need to having to redo irritating platform jumping parts.

In the end the save game system was "manageable", but I would have preferred a PC-like save-anywhere system. Luckily the game was smart enough to usually put teleport portals just before important boss fights.

- Overall, I guess I am not a big fan of "Zelda-like" system where you have to revisit earlier areas several times in order to proceed. Finding the next spot where you can proceed could sometimes take ages unless you remembered exactly where in the past you couldn't go through some gate etc. because you were missing a skill that you just acquired by killing a midlevel boss...

I read the next game in the series (Soul Reaver 2) is much more linear in design, and frankly I feel I will probably prefer it in this case. With Soul Reaver, I ended up checking Youtube walkthrough videos quite often to see where I was supposed to backtrack in order to proceed with the game, as I didn't feel like revisiting all earlier places myself or trying to remember where it might be. The first Legacy of Kain game had the same problem.

Either way, I've enjoyed the first two LoK games so much that I will certainly proceed with the rest of the games (unless one of the is so bad that it kills my interest to the rest of the series). I especially like the idea that the games alternate between the two main characters, Kain and Raziel.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2
Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Post edited December 27, 2023 by timppu
Finished Tales of the Neon Sea. It was a good"point'n click" (played with the gamepad) with nice backgrounds/characters and an interesting setting and story. Puzzles were not too difficult. I recommend it.

Full list here.
Sword & Fairy: Together Forever (XSX Game Pass)

Chinese Final Fantasy. I think the dev's are Taiwanese. Some people may know the series by its other name- Chinese Paladin. Together forever is actually the console port of Sword and Fairy 7 on PC, the series is traditionally PC only. Number 7 is the first game in the series released across current platforms- though number 6 is also on PS4. Last of all, 6 and 7 are the only games with official English translations- though the first game (from 1996) does have a fan translation.

Despite a few annoyances, I really enjoyed this game. Calling it Chinese Final Fantasy does it something of a disservice. The game looks, feels and sounds uniquely different to its Japanese counterparts. It may not have the technical brilliance of some recent games, yet the views and scenery are really nice just the same. The game really accumulates a wealth of lore for its world, sometimes maybe even a bit too much dumped upon you in short order.

The story is not overly complex and lacks the Japanese obsession with overdone ridiculous plot twists. It's a good story though just the same- it concentrates very much upon the relationships between the 4 party members and the communities they visit. The core story centers around the relationship between a Deity and Human that become bound by a symbiosis curse that prevents them being too far apart or they become weak- hence the "Together Forever" name for the console versions.

Though I really enjoyed it, it has several issues for me. The first is just a part of the type of game this is- it's very much a "cinematic experience", so you get cutscenes that chain into cutscenes and the characters sometimes just feel like they're never going to shut up. The English translation (subtitles only) is sometimes a bit rough, but never to the point of giving any trouble understanding things. Chinese is a difficult language to translate, and simple sentences can take lots of text in English to convey correct enough meaning. If you've ever watched Chinese moves with subtitles, you will know what I mean- the characters will say a sentence and suddenly you TV screen fills with a page of subtitles. It's the exact opposite to watching Italian moves- where they will talk for 2 minutes with copious hand waving and a single sentence pops up on the TV and I'm sitting their thinking "surely they said more than that?".

Anyway, the weakest part of the game is the combat- especially the boss fights. It's a fully action-based system where you swap control between the party as you need. The whole thing lacks any feel or weight to anything. You're whacking away at some boss, thinking you're doing okay, then get stun locked and finished off in just a single combo and left wondering how it happened. It all lacks feel or feedback, for want of a better term. It's not difficult though, once you get a handle on it- especially as the enemy AI suffers from the same issue as Final Fantasy VII Remake. Most enemies just follow whatever character you are controlling, regardless of what the other team members are doing. There is little to no aggro system, as soon as you swap to another character the enemy automatically swaps their attention at the same time. It can be exploited mercilessly by simply letting most bosses chase you all around the arena whilst the rest of the team just chip away slowly! It can end up looking like something out of a Benny Hill skit.

Overall, it was a unique enough experience compared to comparable Japanese and Western games that I enjoyed it despite the above issues. I'd play other games in the series when I'm in the mood for a more linear story-based experience, I may even pick up the 6th game if I see it on a Steam sale someday. Oh yes, the game is also a manageable length- 28 hours for me- that's all story, approximately 90 percent of side quests and 86 percent lore collection.
Post edited December 28, 2023 by CMOT70