Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Final Thoughts - Gauntlet Slayer Edition [PlayStation 4]

Title: Gauntlet Slayer Edition
Genre: Hack and slash, dungeon crawler
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Platform played on: PlayStation 4
Available on: PlayStation 4, Windows PC
Completion Status: I completed the tutorial mission
Trophy Status: 7 of 39

Source: psnprofiles.com
This was another PlayStation Plus game that I got and I thought it would be fun to play with my buddies, unfortunately that didn't happen, so my comments will primarily be based on my solo experience.

Gauntlet Slayer Edition is a re-imagining I would call it, of the original Gauntlet games in the past with some added RPG elements that make it more of a game that you can continue playing instead of the old coin sucking arcade machine games. The changes that were made are small but enhance the overall experience, changes like unlocking skills, getting better equipment makes it feel almost like a Diablo game to me. Instead of having a linear path where you play level after level, the world is broken up into a map where you pick a level, you beat it and progress to the next one. Based on how you did, you may unlock a side-path that allows you to unlock more loot which you use to buy items/skills.

Source: arrowheadgamestudios.com
Like in Gauntlet of the past, you play as one of four character types, Warrior, Valkyrie, Elf, or Wizard with up to 3 other players for a total of 4. When you play online, there are some limitations that I found VERY bothersome but I understand why it is done. I liked to play the Elf since I was playing on my own, it was easier to play as a ranged-attack character and I was doing well, so when I tried to play online for the first time, I joined a group and unfortunately, you can only have one of each class in a party and there was already an Elf user. This meant that I could play with them, but only as another class, none of which I have played, so I would start at level 1 instead of my Elf's level. So, I would need to either play all classes equally, or hope that the class isn't in use. I imagine it may be for balancing purposes, but it was rather annoying. Similarly, your loot is kept to the class that got it, so you would need to grind out the levels all over again.

Source: arrowheadgamestudios.com
Grinding, this is an issue that I have with the trophies that this game has. I don't normally take issue with how they are designed, but this one is something else. If you look at the trophy list, you will see that A LOT of the trophies are single digit percentages, meaning that they aren't easy to achieve. You will see why fairly easily, some trophies require that you kill 12,000 enemies in a particular way as one class. You need to repeat this for ALL FOUR classes. It simply is not a time sink that I can invest in nor will I.

Source: arrowheadgamestudios.com
As a PlayStation Plus game, I have no issue with it. I can see that it would be fine to play when you play with others, however, you would need a group that works well with you and you select your class and stick with it. This made the game feel very restrictive and I guess if you can live with that, that is fine. Once you complete the game with your class, I didn't feel like there was a point to continue. There is more skills and items to buy, but there was no incentive for me to do so.

I completed the game once with the elf since it was a ranged character, however I feel that it would be very difficult for me to do the same with a melee character and I'm not sure if it is worth my time to invest to try to beat the game with all characters since the loot that you pick up is character specific.

If you have a group that can commit to the game, it is a decent buy, but I would say that Diablo 3 would be a much better buy although it costs a bit more, there is just so much more to the game than Gauntlet. It was clearly made for nostalgia and that's about it.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on GUNS UP!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Final Thoughts - Nom Nom Galaxy [PlayStation 4]

Title: Nom Nom Galaxy
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Q Games
Publisher: Q Games
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Platform played on: PlayStation 4
Available on: PlayStation 4, PC
Completion Status: I completed the tutorial mission
Trophy Status: 0 of 32

Source: psnprofiles.com
I played one level and I think at the end, I thought, hey, this could work and isn't overly complicated until I started to play level 2.. This game reminds me of Terraria which is another game that I couldn't get into due to how many systems it seems to throw at the user right away.

Here is how level 1 worked (the tutorial level). You are a worker at a soup company and your goal is to make a good soup. Well, that sounds great and all, so you are a worker and you explore a world and while doing so, you need to defeat enemies on the planet which are usually protecting the resources that you need in order to make soup. Okay, that doesn't sound too bad, you need to then bring the ingredients back to base and combine the components together to make a soup back at your home base. Alright, so I have a home base, now what? Well, soup making isn't as simple as it sounds. You need to set up your base so that you can create soups and then build rockets to ship them out so that you increase your market share. Hmm, getting a bit more complex.. Well, there's more! Your base actually gets attacked by the giant corporation that wants to squash you for ruining their market share. Hmm, that doesn't sound good, so now you need to repair and setup your base so that you can defend against oncoming attacks. So, the key systems would be, searching for ingredients, creating soup, building your base, and surviving attacks.

I found that I was quickly trying to run around trying to do multiple things and something would always end up distracting me and I would lose focus and end up failing the mission. Unlike Terraria, this is level/mission based, so you don't start from scratch all the time (at least based on what I played of Terraria).

After the one level and trying the second level, I knew that this wasn't for me. I was attracted to the game based on the visuals and the pedigree from the developers at Q Games which made games that I liked like the Pixel Junk series (Monsters, Racer, Shooter, Eden, etc). It left me a little bit disappointed. I may end up going back to it because I do like Q Games, but I would need to wrap my head around all the things that happen at the same time.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Gauntlet Slayer Edition for PlayStation 4.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Final Thoughts - Sketchcross [PlayStation Vita]

Title: Sketchcross
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Funktronic Labs
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Platform played on: PlayStation Vita
Available on: PlayStation Vita
Completion Status: I am on book 5
Trophy Status: 3 of 8

This is one of those games where I was excited was coming out for PlayStation Vita because I really enjoyed similar titles that are available on Nintendo DS and it fell well short of expectations.

Source: psnprofiles.com
First off, Sketchcross is basically Picross (or nonograms) for PlayStation Vita. For those that don't know, this is a puzzle game where you are given a blank grid and you have some hints as to what each row/column looks like once it has been filled out and your goal is to fill out the grid according to the clues that you are given. I imagine that the reason why it is called picross (PI-cture CROSSword) is because once you complete the grid, there will be a picture and it looks like a crossword grid.

Source: sketchcross.com
Now, given that the idea is well known, you would think that they wouldn't screw it up, but they did! Why is it screwed up? Well, with each grid, the hints are designed in such a way that you should always be able to solve the puzzle WITHOUT having to guess what should/shouldn't be filled in. However, this is NOT the case with Sketchcross, for some reason, there are many levels where you need to guess in order to succeed which goes against the general rules.

Source: sketchcross.com
Aside from this, there are other quirks or shortcuts that I have gotten used to from other versions of picross which really should have been incorporated into every electronic version of this game. Some examples are, when the column is filled out, the numbers should be crossed-off or marked completed. Also, other games have the ability where you can press and hold a button (where to fill in the space, blank the space, or X the space) and if you press a directional button, it will repeat the step. This eliminates the need to press button, direction, press button, direction instead of press and hold button and direction.

Source: sketchcross.com
As well, there seem to be terrible load times and it makes no sense for a game that is like this. There are no intense graphics or video, it is just a grid with numbers. You can imagine it like sudoku, why would there be loading involved?

Source: sketchcross.com
Based on my issues, I cannot recommend this game to anyone. I may end up replaying the game to get the trophies, but I am very disappointed with the title when it should have been something that I should easily like.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Nom Nom Galaxy for PlayStation 4.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Final Thoughts - Nova-111 [PlayStation Vita]

Title: Nova-111
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Funktronic Labs
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Platform played on: PlayStation Vita
Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Completion Status: I have completed the campaign
Trophy Status: 4 of 12

I purchased it one day when it was on sale and I believe in a month or two, it was available to everyone for free on PlayStation Plus. This is one of those games where I felt that I should have saved my money and waited for it to come on PlayStation Plus.

Source: psnprofiles.com

Nova-111 is a hybrid genre game where I think it is mostly a puzzle game. In this game, you are a spaceship where your goal is to get to the end of the level and if you like, there are 111 scientists that are scattered throughout all the worlds and you can save them all by finding them.

Source: funktroniclabs.com
At the beginning of the game, you make a move, and then enemies will make a move. So, you can take your time and determine where to go and you will see where your enemies will move to. You charge into them to damage them and at the beginning they only need one hit to defeat. Later on, enemies do not necessarily wait for you to move before they move and they may also require more than one hit to defeat. The enemy variety is nice and it changes when you traverse through the different worlds so you will always encounter something new. Each world is broken down into several levels and each world is unique with new features, new skills, as well as new enemies.

Source: funktroniclabs.com
In the event that you get stuck, there is a partner on your spaceship that will talk to you through dialog and provide you with clues as to what to do. This applies to new enemies (how to defeat them), if you get stuck (he suggests what skill could be useful), and also when you get new skills, he walks you through the purpose.

Source: funktroniclabs.com
While I don't have any issue with the game, I don't feel like I cared very much about the story or characters. I have completed the game but it was just me playing to see what the different world and powers would be. I think it is worth a try when it was on PlayStation Plus but I'm not sure I would recommend buying it. For this one, watch a gameplay video of the first level and you will have a good idea of how it plays out.

Source: funktroniclabs.com
Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Sketchcross for PlayStation Vita.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Final Thoughts - Life is Strange [PlayStation 4]

Title: Life is Strange
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: October 20, 2015 (episodic title, episode 1 was released on January 30, 2015)
Platform played on: PlayStation 4
Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Completion Status: I have completed the campaign
Trophy Status: 61 of 61

Source: psnprofiles.com
Life is Strange is a type of game that hasn't been around for awhile on console platforms ever since, in my opinion, first-person shooters took over. In Life is Strange, you play as Maxine Caulfield who is a photography student in high school and has the ability to rewind time. This ability to rewind time is the game's main gameplay mechanic where your decisions will effect things that happen down the road. Some are simple (you over watered a plant and it dies) to more impactful (you kill a dog).

Source: https://www.facebook.com/LifeIsStrangeGame
While the game does change based on what you do, I don't believe the final outcome changes regardless of what you choose (I think, I'm not 100% sure). The game was built to be episodic where you would play a portion and if you decide that you like it, you can pay for the next portion and the next until you have the entire game or you can buy the entire game in one go now that all the episodes are available (5 episodes). With the episodic nature, episodes 1 through 4 all end with cliffhanger endings which make you want to buy the next and continue the story.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/LifeIsStrangeGame
In the initial episode, I didn't quite understand why people liked the game so much. It is a well reviewed and well loved game with it actually getting nominations for Game of the Year 2015. You wander around high school and you encounter your stereotypical high school moments, such as being running into problems with the principal, running into problems with the high school diva, the high school football star, etc. While I didn't really relate to any of the scenarios, I understood where they were coming from and in that aspect, I felt that they did a really good job with the issues that would come up.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/LifeIsStrangeGame
My interest wasn't quite there until late in episode 2 and it really grabbed me by episode 3. So if you don't like what you see in episode 1, I would say if you like it enough, you should try the other ones simply because the story itself doesn't shine until later on. While the gameplay doesn't change as the game progresses, you are playing for the story and the writing and choices are what makes the game so fascinating. It is hard to explain what makes it so compelling without spoiling the game, all I can say is that the story and options in it change drastically as you progress through the game and while the same fundamental issues remain (you being picked on, issues at school, etc), the cause and effect options really weigh you down when you are asked to choose between two options and you can clearly see that both have its positives and negatives.

Overall a great experience and I would highly recommend the game even at the full retail price of $20.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Nova-111 for PlayStation Vita.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Month in Review - February 2016

Here are the games that I played in February 2016:

Source: psnprofiles.com
Nova-111 I played on PlayStation Vita. The load times seem a bit long at the beginning, however, after that it seems to run fine except in the later levels where I'm not sure why it drops frames but you definitely notice it. I started and completed the game and I bought this when it was on sale and it was probably worth the sale price, I'm not sure about the full retail price. Nova-111 is a turn based strategy-puzzle game where you move and then the enemies move, similar to turn-based strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics. This will allow you to pause and think about how to defeat/avoid the enemies as needed. Things will change as you progress through the game since some of them will not follow these rules and makes it more interesting. I thought the gameplay mechanics were fun but I never felt like there was a reason to go back and collect things. The mini-tutorials that pop-up as someone talking to you works really when you are either learning a new mechanic or when you are stuck and they give you suggestions.

While fun, I felt that the game world felt a bit empty. Every world was different with a few areas in each, however, I didn't have reason to enjoy things or return (even if you can return to collect missing scientists). Once I finished the game, I stopped caring. The gameplay is there but it wasn't captivating enough for me to suggest it.

Source: psnprofiles.com
Life is Strange, played on PlayStation 4. I have finished the story and I must say, it ended off better than it started. I think that by episode 3, if you aren't into it, you can stop. It turned out to be a much better game once it was past the high school cycle of issues. The game is an adventure game where your choices now will effect how things are in the future. I thought it started off slow but in the end, it was worth it. Again, I felt that it really picked up by episode 3, but I imagine that some people would be hooked by episode 2. Episode 1 for me felt like an intro to all the mechanics and was less about the actual story itself.

Easily a game that I can recommend to others and there is now a retail release due to its success which should mean that more people are able to play the game. As a bonus to trophy/achievement hunters, there are quick checkpoints that you can return to so that you can easily get what you were missing, so you don't need to worry about playing the game with a guide since you don't need to replay the entire game all over.

Source: psnprofiles.com
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, played on PlayStation Vita. Sequel to a very neat visual novel style game. I have only completed one trial, so I still have a bit to go, but it seems like more of the game of the last game. You are a student of Hope's Peak Academy, the most elite school that there is. Only students that are the top of their discipline are allowed here, some examples include the ultimate gymnast, ultimate chef, and ultimate photographer to give you an idea. But, after you enter the school, you forget what happens and suddenly you are trapped on an island where you have to play a game. In order to get off the island, you need to successfully to kill any other student BUT you have to get away with it. After each murder, an investigation period takes place and you need to collect clues in order to determine who might have done it and then there is a trial that takes place where you need to determine who the murderer is. If it is anything like the last game, you rinse and repeat until you get to the end.

I thought the idea was really neat the first time, I'm not sure how I feel about it the second time since it is exactly the same idea as before just with a different setting and a few mechanic changes/tweaks. Based on what I've played so far, I can easily recommend the first game, and if you like more of the same, this one is a good recommendation.

Source: psnprofiles.com
Defense Grid 2,  played on PlayStation 4. I never played the first one and I got this one on sale and I thought I would give it a shot. At this time, I have completed roughly 5 missions of 20 missions (if I remember correctly). The game is tower defense, where your goal is to beat all the enemies without losing all of your cores on the level. The twist is that the enemy can make it to the end, however, it also has to make it back to the beginning of the level, so you have double the chance to beat them. The other change as well is that you can create a path for the enemies by placing your towers in their direct path. Obviously you cannot block their path completely, however you can make the path longer.

The game seems fun, there is a surprising amount of story and voice acting to the game. I enjoy the voice acting, however it seems like it really isn't necessary since I don't bother to read the story (there is a page of story before each mission). It is a formula that I am familiar with, so I don't have any issues with how it works and plays mechanically. I do only play in single player and have no intention of trying multiplayer even though the option is available.