The Evil Within Review

I’ve had a pretty rough history with “The Evil Within”. It was first announced as a “Return to Survival Horror”, a boast that everyone seemed to take seriously rather than scoff at, ignoring that horror games and indeed survival horror haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve been pissing and moaning about that since it was first announced until about a week before the game’s release when I started to look forward to the game as an action-horror in the “Resident Evil 4″ mold. It’s made by Shinji Mikami, you see, and with that pedigree come real expectations. Are those expectations met? Is it actual survival horror, or is it a solid action-horror? Is it even any good?

The story is a mess. You are Sebastian Castellanos, a crap detective in a waistcoat who looks like Jaime Lannister investigating a violent situation at Beacon Mental Hospital with his partner, a man in glasses and stylin’ leather gloves and a woman who responds to violent situations in high heels because I can only assume she never has to run around when she’s on a case. Upon reaching the asylum Sebastian is captured, escapes from a man with a chainsaw because there’s always one in these situations, then there’s a scene where an ambulance does its best “Alone in the Dark” impression and Seb finds himself stranded in some spooky woods. The plot revolves around a man named Ruvik, whose assorted memories make up the levels as you trawl through his mind and encounter his past in the form of flashbacks and enemies that reflect his psyche like a crap version of “Silent Hill”. The biggest problem this raises is that all the locations in the game are jumbled up and crammed together with little to no continuity- it just feels like a load of set-pieces crammed together. “You’re in the village from RE4. Now you’re in a hospital, ooh, now you’re in the MINE from RE4, oh hey, the mansion from RE1! NO TIME, NOW YOU’RE IN A FLOODED CITY WATCH OUT FOR THAT FISH MAN THING!” the game takes no time to establish its locations, nor does it offer any juxtaposition in its scenes- you’re just thrown into areas full of enemies that you’ve seen in another, better game. Certain locations are well designed, particularly the mental ward you return to periodically to save the game and level up, but most of them are either generic or ripped from Resident Evil 4. The characters are all bland and undeveloped apart from Ruvik, who’s just dull, plot points are introduced and never touched upon again, and the whole thing ends on a vague conclusion that doesn’t explain the events leading up to it or put it into any greater context. The ideas of being trapped inside the mind of a scarred individual and negotiating a landscape that’s prone to changing on a whim are interesting, but they’re poorly done here, and end up being annoying.

Gameplay is a mixed bag. On the one hand there is fun to be had- it controls like a mix of RE4 and “The Last of Us”, and when the game isn’t being incredibly unfair and borderline broken it can be quite intense. Those moments are in the minority though. Before going any further I have to say- this is not a survival horror game. It’s an action-horror- over the shoulder aiming, locational damage, a big, dumb melee attack, sections in which you have to hold of hordes of enemies or kill a certain number to advance, quick time events and huge action set-pieces. Which leads me to inquire: if this is “Bringing back Survival Horror” then what exactly is it bringing back? If this is survival horror than so are all three Dead Space games, RE 4, 5 and 6 and indeed The Last of Us. I genuinely don’t understand why people think this is A) Survival Horror and B) Some real return to the genre. I’ve come to the conclusion that “Survival Horror” refers to the old-school Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, and things like “Dino Crisis”, but not games like this. But I digress- the combat here is often infuriating. Bullets are scarce- enemies can drop whole boxes of ammo with four loose bullets next to them and yet the pick-up gives you two rounds. You can often get into an unavoidable fight and the game simply doesn’t provide enough ammo for you to beat it. Now you may be thinking “But James, you scrub, surely you should conserve your ammo more and rise to the challenge?” and to you I say: conserving supplies is utterly negated when bullets simply don’t work, and your melee attack couldn’t knock over a baby with an inner-ear infection. The former is split into two camps: enemies absorbing ridiculous amounts of damage for no reason- whole clips, explosives, the lot- or the game simply refusing to acknowledge you’ve hit an enemy, even if your cursor is right over their body or head. So no, it isn’t about conserving ammo, it’s about hoping that the game will hold itself together, which is made trickier by its refusal to adhere to any kind of consistent internal logic. Sometimes enemies are made to be far too powerful- enemies may grab you or hit you despite the fact you were well out of their range, and sometimes instead of giving you the chance to escape with a QTE the game instead makes you tank the damage and tells you to deal with it. There’s an enemy late in the game with a one-hit kill attack that tracks you, is very quick and doesn’t slow down or stop for several seconds. The artificial difficulty is compounded by inconsistent, often poor checkpoints- a lot of situations will involve a simple but time-consuming part followed by a section that kills you quickly after giving you a very short amount of time to escape, then sends you right back to the beginning of that first part. Also Sebastian’s melee attack looks ridiculous- he does this huge lunging punch like he’s a drunk anime character trying to start a fight in a pub. Most enemies either completely ignore it, or take minimal damage.

Are there actually any good things about the game? Well as I said when it’s not being unfair or annoying the gameplay is solid and enjoyable enough. A genuine stand-out is the first fight with “The Keeper”- the safe-headed monster featured heavily in the marketing material for the game- a tense fight in which he continues to regenerate as you attempt to escape from an area filling with posion gas. Unfortunately the game keeps bringing him back to the extent that his effect is greatly diminished, but he’s cool for that first big fight. The enemy design is interesting, particularly the horde enemies filled with spikes or wrapped in barb wire, and some of the bosses. Unfortunately every time your head breaks the surface you realise that the gameplay was done better in RE4 and TLOU, and this is nothing special.

So then, “The Evil Within” has a whole lot of problems. The story is a jumbled mess of locations with little continuity, the characters are uniformly uninteresting, and when the gameplay isn’t being unfairly difficult and borderline broken it’s been done better elsewhere. If you absolutely must have a new action-horror game in the vein of “Dead Space 2″ and “Resident Evil 4″ then there is fun to be had here and it does have some cool ideas, but everyone else is better off leaving this one be.

Oh, and if you’re playing it on a console you’re stuck with thick black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, causing the entire game to be viewed in letterbox. Make of that what you will; sometimes I thought it was alright, most of the time I thought it was a crap idea that was just pointless.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Far Cry 4 Review

“Far Cry” is a series I’ve had inconsistent results with at best. I had “Instincts” back in the day and had some fun with it, I thought Far Cry 2 was complete shite (much like most people) and opinions on Far Cry 3 seem to be split into two camps: Me and everyone else. Before release I was drawn into buying it by talk of a gripping story in which vacuous dickhead Jason Brody starts off as a panicky tourist but gradually turns into a confident, bloodthirsty killer in a dark, harrowing character arc. What I got was vacuous dickhead Jason Brody being a panicky tourist for all of one mission before he instantly gains the ability to clear out a whole camp of pirates armed only with a colt .45, moving on to expertly take down pirates with a bolt-action sniper rifle and from there generally showing no remorse for his actions and rolling with everything that happens. I liked main villain “Vaas” for the seventeen minutes he was in the game and I liked the gameplay but overall I found it disappointing. So when Far Cry 4 rolled around and once again showed off a charismatic villain tormenting a foreigner inexperienced in the field of murder I was skeptical, but intrigued by what I’d heard. Does it make the series finally something worth playing? Or does it continue the trend?

This time around you’re Ajay Ghale- born in the Himalayan country of Kyrat but raised in America from age three who returns to his homeland to scatter his mother’s ashes, the only instruction being “Take me back to Lakshmana”. As soon as he makes it over the border he’s stopped and kidnapped by Kyrat’s flamboyant and explosively violent King Pagan Min, who appears to know Ajay and his mother, but doesn’t explain how. Ajay then escapes with the help of revolutionary group “The Golden Path”, started by Ajay’s father Mohan and currently attempting to stop Pagan. The story’s biggest problem is the way it’s told- it ebbs and flows with certain parts coming across as strong set-pieces and others slipping by underwhelmingly. Pagan’s three lieutenants get barely any screen time and are dispatched quickly and without much in the way of fanfare (apart from one rather brutal stand-out moment) but the main conflict between the two leaders of The Golden Path stays gripping throughout. Two would-be leaders are fighting for control- Amita, a woman determined to tear down the out-dated traditions stifling Kyrat and willing to use vast quantities of drug money to fund their rebellion and Sabal, a traditionalist who believes returning to Kyrat’s religious roots is the way to go. Often during missions you’ll have to pick between their two plans to determine the direction the story will take, and it’s handled well. Unfortunately like Vaas in the last game Pagan Min is barely in the game, making only four on-screen appearances (technically five but one of them involves his body double) and mostly interacting with Ajay over the radio. It’s a shame because he’s a really interesting character- his rise through the ranks of the Triads (he’s a half-English Colonial Hong Kong national), his participation in the Kyrati civil war and his brutal power-grab are only touched upon briefly, as is his relation to Ajay besides one big plot revelation at the end of the game. This does make sense though- if Vaas was Darth Vader (high-ranking but still heavily involved in skirmishes and empire activity) Pagan Min is the Emperor- overseeing events from afar while running his Kingdom, and trying to convert Ajay to his side. It makes sense plot-wise why he doesn’t turn up much, but his absence is felt every time he does pop up in all his pink-suited glory. Ajay himself is pretty bland as a character, but given the plot points I can’t explain for spoiler reasons, it’s not really his story- he’s there to give the player a way in, and to be a lynch pin in the plans of the real key characters- Amita, Sabal and Pagan Min. There’s also a side-story involving an ancient Kyrati warrior seeking Shangri-La that is good while it lasts but doesn’t really add anything to the main plot.

The gameplay side of things is largely the same as Far Cry 3, but with some great new additions I’ll elaborate on shortly. Firstly for those who didn’t play FC3, this is a first person open-world shooter in the now standard Ubisoft mold of a big map with towers that you have to climb to clear parts of the map and show off points of interest in the area. There are cars to drive as well as hang gliders and the newly added elephants and gyro copters, side-quests involving a lot of murder and the story missions all involve a lot of shooting. As for the new additions, there are the aforementioned gyro-copters and elephants, the latter of which are great for clearing out obstacles or groups of goons and the former is infinitely useful for pretty much every situation, particularly if you have the one-handed grenade launcher. You can now fire any sidearm (including the aforementioned grenade launcher) while driving any vehicle which is supplemented by more streamlined driving controls and a new “Auto drive” feature and there’s now a vehicle takedown in which Ajay leaps into the enemy’s vehicle, stabs them in the neck and commandeers said vehicle. Speaking of which certain skills are locked until you complete an action related to said skill, which helps explains Ajay’s natural killing talent (according to the wiki he was in the military, and personally I believe his skills are partly tied into who his parents were. It sounds dumb but it worked for me). Elsewhere there’s a grappling hook used to scale cliffs and safely lower yourself into caves and the like, as well as swinging across gaps like Indiana Jones, and new weapons including an automatic, silent crossbow for stealth and “Signature Weapons” (expensive, unlockable guns decked out with several modifications) including an MG42 (which is supposed to be a mounted machine gun) with a scope and extra-powerful ammo that turned the last mission into the M60 from “Commando”- holding down the trigger for a few seconds killed anything and everything, including helicopters. The gameplay is the same solid, enjoyable mix of tight, responsive shooting and decent stealth with all of the excellent new additions resulting in it being a lot more fun and over the top than FC3, combing modern sensibilities with a more old-school sense of action.

Overall, “Far Cry 4″ is a damn good time. The story can be underwhelming at times, but for the most part is interesting, gripping and with interesting characters and with a great ending that puts everything that came before it into a new perspective. The gameplay is a solid, responsive first person shooter with a whole load of new stuff thrown in that make the game more fun and evolve the formula considerably from FC3. This and “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” show that Ubisoft do still know what they’re doing even if they do badly mess up now and then (Looking at you, AC Unity), and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re even remotely interested in the game, and particularly if you’re a fan of the genre.

“I came in a sane man and came out… like this. But you… you will come out a king.”

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Shadow Warrior (Playstation 4 version) Review

Last year Devolver Digital and Flying Wild Hog brought the world “Shadow Warrior”- a modern remake of an old-school first person shooter on the Build engine that was by all accounts very racist. What with my laptop being inconsistent but generally not great at running games I was pleased to hear the announcement that the new Shadow Warrior would be ported to PS4 in 2014 as part of Sony’s new “Port every good PC game to PS4″ deal that I for one am taking full advantage of. Shadow Warrior came out, I finished it (eventually) and here I am reviewing it for you all now. Come get some Wang.

You are Lo Wang (as you were in the original), a surprisingly badass killing machine and huge nerd whose greatest talents are murdering people with a katana and cramming his last name into jokes (which surprisingly doesn’t get old). He’s sent to retrieve a mystical sword from a collector and, after murdering a whole lot of goons finds himself in the midst of a demon invasion. Teaming up with a bitchy, wise-cracking, amnesiac demon named Hoji, Lo Wang sets off to retrieve all three parts of the sword and kill every demon that crosses his path. The story is actually quite central to the game rather than being fluff to string all the killing together, and is surprisingly good- particularly the backstory, which is revealed piece-by-piece after tracking down and stabbing mysterious golems crafted by Hoji. The plot involving Lo Wang retrieving the swords isn’t as strong, but it kept me interested, mainly due to the excellent buddy-movie chemistry between him and Hoji, and the game’s strong writing; Wang’s genuinely quite funny in a Travis Touchdown sort of way.  It’s a long game, too, and manages to keep things consistent throughout, again thanks to the writing, and the solid gameplay (more on that in a minute). The whole thing reminds me of “Wolfenstein The New Order” as a new FPS with Old-school elements that has a surprisingly good story, and while Shadow Warrior’s isn’t as good as “Wolfenstein…”‘s, it’s definitely not an afterthought.

The gameplay though, is where Shadow Warrior really shines. It wears its old-school FPS heart on its sleeve- throwing hordes of enemies at you to be strafed around and blown to pieces. What sets it apart is the Katana; it’s always available to you, and is both efficient and really fun to use. While the guns in the game definitely have their uses (the bosses in particular) I always found the most satisfying approach was to wade in with the blade- lopping off heads and limbs and using its unique super moves to blow enemies into chunks or spin around taking off five or six heads at once. One of the biggest problems with the gameplay is that a lot of of the time the guns just feel unnecessary. I barely used the revolver, and apart from boss fights I mainly used the rocket launcher, switching to the shotgun or SMG when necessary which wasn’t that often. Sub-bosses are best dealt with using the most powerful gun you have because they’re all really annoying in their own ways (for the first half of the game the absolute bane of my experience were the giant Minotaur-type enemies that reel you in with some kind of energy lasso thing), which is a shame because you get the feeling the sword could be used for every situation in the game (pretty sure I heard one of the developers say that it is) but sometimes you’re railroaded into using the guns. Unique to the PS4 is using the trackpad thing to activate magic spells as an alternative to their default input of double tapping the left stick. When it works it’s fine. When it works. Which it doesn’t at the worst times, mainly when I’m surrounded and at low health, and instead of healing Lo Wang keeps raising his sword (using the same button involved in all the magic abilities) unhelpfully. That’s it for the PS4 features, but it’s something at least. The upgrade system in the game is fantastic, with three different areas and three corresponding currencies. Money buys weapon upgrades and ammo (a Four-barreled shotgun makes an appearance, though sadly not as outlandish as the one from “Blood Dragon”), karma (points that culminate in redeemable tokens, essentially) get you various learned techniques ranging from increased damage and stamina to finding more money in boxes and the ability to use the aforementioned Minotaur enemy’s head as a laser cannon, and Ki Crystals upgrade your magic spells, including the all-important healing spell, a shockwave and a shield generated from Wang’s left hand. There’s a whole lot to get, though unfortunately the spells and their upgrades proved to be almost entirely useless to me throughout the game. Other people may find more use for them but I only ever relied on healing, and finding new Ki crystals caused me to upgrade my magic out of obligation more than anything else (once I had all the healing upgrades, obviously).

Overall, “Shadow Warrior” is a good time. The PS4 track pad spells are frustratingly inconsistent but can be ignored, the story is absorbing and interesting due to good chemistry between its two leads, solid writing and intirguing backstory and the gameplay is solid over the top old-school shooting while the Katana adds a new layer of fun and depth to proceedings. It’s definitely worth a look, particularly as it retails at a reduced price, and with the help of “Wolfenstein The New Order” shows that the first person shooter is a still a genre to be reckoned with and taken seriously.

“I give it a seven on the Wang-o-meter”.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Telltale Review Spectacular: Game of Thrones Episode 1 – “Iron From Ice” and Tales From The Borderlands Episode 1 – “Zer0 Sum”

(Note: This review is in Italics because part of it randomly shifted into italics and wouldn’t go back, so I shifted the rest of it to at least make it consistent.)

Telltale (Developers of the excellent “Walking Dead” adventure game and “The Wolf Among Us”) made a pretty surprising move recently, releasing the respective first episodes its highly-anticipated new series “Game of Thrones” (Based on the eponymous television series) and “Tales From the Borderlands” (based on Gearbox’s cel-shaded first person shooter series) seemingly out of nowhere and a whole lot sooner than I anticipated. But I played them both and now I’m going to review them for you as a double-review, as they both signify something of an evolution in Telltale’s games, for better and arguably worse. 

First up, Tales From the Borderlands: 

Now, I’m not a huge fan of “Borderlands” (Reuben’s your man if that’s what you’re after) but I do enjoy it- I beat the first one and most of its DLC and played a big chunk of the second one, so I’m familiar with this universe and its characters but wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit for this one. Set after the events of Borderlands 2, you play as two characters: Rhys, basically a space-yuppie decked out with cybernetic enhancements who works for Hyperion, and Fiona- a career thief and grifter who pulls scores with her sister and their thief guardian. They both end up involved in a deal for a vault key (Vaults being huge, hidden lockers filled with unspeakable loot) and then a case full of money, drawn together through a series of explosive cock-ups the solving of which would prove mutually beneficial. 

Story wise this is a strong opening episode. Rhys is likable enough despite being a corporate stooge and Fiona is great as the dashing rogue type, and the supporting cast is bizarre enough to fit into the universe without going overboard. It’s a testament to both Telltale and the universe Gearbox created that a first person shooter’s world and continuity can work as a visual novel-type adventure game (more on that definition shortly) with strong writing and good characters, particularly when the actual shooting and massive amounts of loot you collected were integral parts of the “Borderlands” games. The episode is longer (or at least in more parts) than Telltale’s norm, and it packs in a lot of content, particularly for a set-up episode. One other thing to mention is that it’s genuinely funny, relying less on Pop-culture references (though that wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of the series it’s based on) and more on really goofy jokes and cut-away gags. The framing device is telling their story while bound and captured and the story uses this to play with events, leading to some decent laughs. It’s certainly a lot lighter than TWD and TWAU. The only real problem here are the choices, which are a lot easier and less stressful to make than in Telltale’s previous work. Don’t get me wrong the choices are still welcome, but none of them hit me as hard as those in TWD and TWAU, or indeed Game of Thrones. 

I called the game a “Visual novel-type adventure game” and the main reason for that is thus: gameplay in Telltale games is generally a mix of conversations, QTE-based action sections and walking around to explore and find clues, but here that third part is drastically decreased to the point where it’s barely used. Now I frequently pick on David Cage for this kind of thing loudly, swearily and to anyone that will listen, but I really like it here. I have my reasons though- whereas David Cage is completely, thoroughly awful at telling a story and is a complete hack with no skill or talent for making video games, Telltale are excellent at it, and here the conversations, choices and action sequences come in rapid succession and do feel genuinely involving. It’s rare you’re not interacting with the game in some manner, which is important in a game like this. Apart from that it’ll feel familiar to anyone who played TWD, but with a graphically different interface and a robotic eye used to scan objects for extra information when playing as Rhys. 

Overall, this is a great start to a new series, with a focus on wacky humor rather than feeling like a horrible human being. It still has the strong emphasis on characters though, and shows Telltale is at still at the top of their game. Pick it up, even if you’re not particularly with the Borderlands series. 

Game of Thrones: 

Christ. This one was rough. Much like everyone else on the internet I love “Game of Thrones”. If by some chance you haven’t seen it it’s a medieval fantasy series with a focus on human interaction over the supernatural (though that is present) with a focus on strong characters, writing and brutal violence. It’s awesome. I will be referring to elements of the series from here on that will require knowledge of the show and will involve spoilers, so bear that in mind. Set during the last episode of Season 3 (if I’m not mistaken) you play as members of the Forrester family- loyal bannermen to house Stark who find themselves thrown into turmoil when their lord and his eldest son are killed during the Red Wedding. Ramsay Snow and new house “Whitehall” are respectively out to murder you and generally destroy you and take all your iron wood (strong wood used for ships and shields and the like) and in the capital Cersei is looking for an excuse to have you executed for being Northern. Apart from cut-aways including that aforementioned Cersei business, most of this episode is spent in the role of the new lord of the house, the young and ill-prepared Ethan Forrester, as he has to learn how to lead a house and all it entails in a very short amount of time so he can deal with Ramsay arriving looking for blood. It’s a heavy, depressing start to the series- Telltale has nailed what it would be like to live in Westeros as a house on shaky ground and under real threat, and the choices reflect that. Rather than having two choices that are clear cut, the ones here are messy, hard and will mostly either be wrong or make you feel like a horrible person. Just because you make one right decision doesn’t mean you’ll be any safer or more secure by the very next conversation choice, and this is particularly evident when up against someone who isn’t playing on your level (Cersei) or simply doesn’t care about any perceived “rules” (Ramsay). Whereas in “The Wolf Among Us” if you replied with a simple “Fuck you” or the like you could always wolf-out and brawl your way to a safe conclusion (provided the game gave you the option. The point is you were a badass who could fight your way out of problems), here one wrong move will end with you in a very bad situation, as you’ve got no-one backing you up and most of the characters are incapable or in no position to take care of themselves. Rather than go for a series of big choices with conversations in-between, the game makes everything you say really important and consequence-heavy, and it really works both as a game and as a story set in the “Game of Thrones” universe.

Gameplay is the same as “Tales from the Borderlands”- my points on it are the same as they were there. Though the choices are stronger here so it bolsters my point about the constant interaction being good. 

The only real problem I had was a technical one: during parts of the game the background was covered in a weird shimmery screen-tearing type effect that looked awful and really noticeable. Fortunately that was the only bug or technical problem I had, which is a big improvement. 

Overall, “Game of Thrones” and “Tales from the Borderlands” are interesting steps forward for Telltale. Some may dislike the more streamlined approach to gameplay, but I think it works in the story’s favour, and doesn’t make the games less interactive. They’ve got a Yin and Yang thing going on that I really like, and are both really worth checking out. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” then definitely pick up that episode, but I highly recommend both. I’m looking forward to seeing where they both go next. 

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Assassin’s Creed Rogue Review

So recently Ubisoft had the bright idea to release two brand new, full-priced “Assassin’s Creed” games at the same time- one called “Rogue” on the current generation of consoles (as in PS3 and Xbox 360) and acting as a bridge between ACs 3 and 4, and one called “Unity” on next-gen (PS4 and Xbone) set in the French Revolution. Unity’s been getting a lot more attention and some have simply swept Rogue to the side, but the joke’s on them, because not only is Unity a buggy, broken mess and Rogue runs smooth as you like, the latter is also a serious contender for best game in the series, and is without a doubt at least one of the best.

You are Shay Patrick Cormac- an idealistic but brash young Irish American and part of the Colonial American Assassins run by Achilles (Connor’s mentor from AC3) in a time after AC4 but before AC3, and as such featuring cross-over characters from each. The well-publicized twist in the tale is that, after a mission in Lisbon goes disastrously wrong and results in the destruction of the city Shay crosses over to the Templar Order and becomes a ruthless “Assassin Hunter”. It’s an interesting set-up, but after the game’s story trailer hit I was worried that the game would simply switch things around so that the Templars are good and the Assassins evil so as to make everything ethically simple. While that is the case in a broad sense, it’s a strong story with enough nuance to make the role-reversal feel natural and believable rather than just an artificial change. Basically the Assassins are painted as wanting freedom at all costs while being unwilling to accept any responsibility for the consequences for this while the Templars seek peace through order and control but due to being seen as evil have to put up with constantly being murdered by Assassins. I won’t be able to go back to an Assassin view point next time- the Templar mindset is painted so well here, at least for me. Achilles’ Assassins are shown as blindly loyal and devoted to their creed to a dangerous extent and Shay has to put them all down for the good of humanity. It’s pretty heavy, particularly considering the series’ usual tone. Compared to the other games the story here feels shorter but leaner- everything here feels necessary whether it be for set-up or part of the pretty hectic work Shay has to do once he’s a member of the Order, and the characters are all pretty strong, with Cormac himself being the clear stand-out. The future sections are pretty much the same as they were in AC4 but with a much better pay-off, and the whole thing ends with a neat twist that joins Rogue and Unity together.

Gameplay wise it’s very much revising and adding to what came before- sailing makes a triumphant return from AC4 but in trickier, often shallower waters, the combat is pretty much the same but with some new animations, an air rifle replaces the blowpipe and can fire three different types of grenades, and forts make a come back, but in reduced quantity. Elsewhere “Far Cry”-style gang hideouts require you to complete three objectives including killing the hideout’s Assassin leader, Assassin ships can be raided (complete with a hooded captain always up for a scrap) and warehouse raids now consist of multiple locked warehouses whose contents combine to make-up the total haul you get from the Island. If the gameplay has a theme it’s making things more involved by adding objectives that need to be completed where killing a certain key individual would suffice, but these manage to avoid feeling like mere padding. The game is split into large areas- New York, River Valley (a large expanse of water with a lot of islands and coastal areas worth checking out) and the North Atlantic- an arctic region complete with heavy snow, polar bears and sheets of ice thick enough for you to run on, which created some nice organic moments where I’d drop anchor away from the island I was infiltrating and sneak in across the ice. Another new feature is that falling into the water while sailing will make you gradually lose health due to old-timey hypothermia (which I assume to be hypothermia but it’s racist and doesn’t think women should have the vote). The combat and stealth are pretty much at an all-time high for the series, with barely any tailing missions or parts where being spotted by one guard who does literally nothing in the second before you kill him somehow alerts everyone on the bloody map and for that, if nothing else, AC Rogue deserves all the commendation it can get.

Overall, “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” is a great addition to the series. It takes the gameplay of AC4 and adds in extra things to do to make it more involved, the story is great with interesting characters and the all important Templar viewpoint is very well done. For my money it’s easily up there with AC2 and AC4 as one of the best in the series, and a serious contender for best in the series. Definitely give it a look- it’d be a real shame if this gets overshadowed by Unity.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Indie Game Super Review, brought to you by Overgamerisation

Because I’m a terrible lackadaisical human being (This is Reuben writing, not James. James has a work ethic) I’ve written barely anything for this blog in the past year. That changes now however, so prepare to have your regularly scheduled itinerary of reviews and well thought out opinions supplanted by my hilarious comic stylings*.

A big part of the reason that I didn’t review anything is that I haven’t bought any new games in about a year. I put together a great gaming PC just after Christmas then realised I’d spent all my money on components so couldn’t get anything to play on it. As a result, I’ve spent the past few months going back and trying older games that I’ve managed to snag in steam sales or, the holy grail of PC gaming, indie titles. Because what better way to celebrate owning a PC with lots of RAM and a high end video card than using it to render 2d sprites? I mean maybe something with 3d graphics and actual effects, but shut up.

*The Reviewing Floor takes no responsibility for any comic stylings that do not reach the appropriate level of hilarity.

To make up for my lack of review writing, I have written three reviews! They might be games that you’ve never heard of, or last heard of ages ago, but they’re really good I promise. Three vastly different games with different genres, mechanics and art styles, all alike in being a lot of fun to play. So we shall begin at the beginning, with…

 

Steam World: Dig

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Despite hailing from the overly optimistic school of game naming (see also: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) SteamWorld: Dig has its feet very firmly planted in the ground. Or rather underneath them. You play the part of a steam powered robot named Rusty, who receives a letter from his uncle leaving him ownership of a mining claim in rustic little hamlet called Tumbleton, populated by the usual cast of colourful piston powered locals. He ventures into the mine, promptly finding his uncle’s corpse and setting off on a journey to investigate the secrets of the underground world he discovered. Simple, yet effective opening, and a story that more or less gets out of your way in order to let you get to work.

Dig, as well will henceforth be calling it, bares some initial similarities to other popular underground mineral retrieval simulators Minecraft and Terraria. It seems more visually similar to the latter, but in fact has bugger all in common with either. In fact it’s closer to Metroidvania than a crafting sim. You use your trusty pickaxe to adventure deeper and excavate valuable minerals. Later upgrades like a drill and explosives can be used to break harder rocks quicker and reveal more valuable elements. While there are upgrades available for Rusty throughout, the materials found in the mine are simply converted into gold which can then be spent to buy them. There is also a secondary currency of Orbs, which are harder to find but vital for the higher level upgrades.

Visually, Dig has an aesthetic all its own. Bright cartoony character and enemy models move smoothly and fit into the animated world perfectly. It won’t win any prizes for graphical fidelity, but it looks damn charming and in a game like this that counts for more than lighting effects. Although those are present and look good too. All the models have simple designs and personalities communicated by the odd snippet of dialogue.

Steam World: Dig is  a short game, but one that makes every second of it’s time enjoyable. The three worlds and the selection of puzzle caves that make up it’s 5 hour story are short and sweet and left me wanting more. Which was not something I expected. I was pleasantly surprised by Dig, and I hope we get to see more use of the Steam World Colon franchise.

 

Gunpoint

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So next we move onto Gunpoint, a game as different to Dig as a Saturday morning cartoon is to Blade Runner. Set in side a noir world made of grey buildings and shady dealings, Gunpoint follows the exploits of freelance spy and general grey hat Richard Conway, who’s acquisition of some high-tech new trousers leads to him being framed for the murder of a arms manufacturing executive. And his day only gets worse from there. Attempting to rectify his precarious situation leads him into a bitter war between rival companies and the murky underbelly of a town so full of corrupt and incompetent cops it’s a wonder that anyone ever gets convicted of anything. But for all its noir infused sensibilities, Gunpoint has a rather wonderful sense of humour. Every conversation has a wealth of dialogue options and they can take wildly different turns depending on what you say, and to whom. Conway can be a sarcastic asshat or an indifferent gun for hire, sometimes in the space of a single interaction.

Mechanically, Gunpoint falls somewhere between stealth ‘em up and puzzle ‘em sideways. Each mission focuses on one of Conway’s assignments, usual an object to steal or a computer terminal to hack. The aim is to reach your goal, bypass the security systems and guards between you and your loot. But because you’re a spy, a wealth of gadgets and fancy hacking tools are available to you. The aforementioned fancy pants allow you to leap massive distances, stick to walls and break through glass walls. A phone app called Crosslink allows you to wire any two electronic devices together, as long as they have both an input and output. So for example, light switches can be used to activate doors, motion scanners and cameras can trigger electronic booby traps and so on. These devices are controlled via an overlay activated using the mouse scroll wheel and work in real time so getting everything to line up can require quick thinking and quicker fingers. Although initially tricky to get your head around, especially since Gunpoint refuses to hold you hand or mollycoddle you after the initial tutorial level, the hands off approach really pays off when you eventually figure out the solution, as you can be sure that you reached it on your own, without any kind of hint or prompt from the game itself. All the information is there, you just have to know how to read it.

Gunpoint is another pleasant surprise (seeing a theme yet?), a game in a genre that I am both terrible at and has also grown a little stale of late. It’s unapologetically a stealth puzzle game, with none of AAA games concessions to alternative play styles. Rather it rewards creative puzzle solving and lateral thinking. It says a lot about the game that the gun is actually one of the less useful items in it. Or possibly it just says that the game was poorly named. Either way, it’s really good, so go play it.

 

Luftrausers

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I have tried on several occasions to write about Luftrausers, and on every single occasion, except this one of course, I have failed. Not because I have nothing to say about it, and certainly not because anything I’d have to say would be bad, but rather  because every time I think about it I remember the theme music and then I have an uncontrollable urge to play it again. However I’ve managed to restrain myself long enough to write the following paragraphs about the 8-bit arcade shooter. On the off chance I succumb before I finish though, it’s really really great.

A simple description might come across a little underwhelming. Or intriguing I suppose depending on your opinions on the following words: 8-bit arcade style bullet hell shooter. Using the arrow keys and the X key you guide your custom made (more on that in a moment) jet fighter through the skies above some duo-chromatic ocean, dodging the other planes, boats, battleships and blimps sent by the opposition to stop you from rausing the luft. Where that gets interesting is in the way you move. The up arrow fires your engines, propelling you in whatever direction you’ve pointed the nose of your craft. Unusually for a game games if this type however, the planes in Luftrausers have momentum. Kill your engines at any point and you’ll start falling, still moving in whatever direction you were travelling. If you were flying straight up, then you have a couple seconds grace before you start falling with style. This might not sound like a much of a gameplay addition but it’s one of those wonderful mechanics that is simple to get the hang of, but makes you feel like a badass once you’ve mastered it.

The other little tweak is giving you a endless battlefield to play in. Most shooters of this type have a limited area you can manoeuvre in, usually equally to the width of the screen. Whereas Luftrausers will scroll either left or right indefinitely, meaning you can feel or chase your foes for as long as it takes to get them right where you want them. Usually on the business end of your machine guns/homing rockets/laser cannon.

The other thing that Luftrausers does to set itself apart from the majority of other games in its genre is the addition of customisable plans. Every plane is split into three sections, weapon, fuselage and engine. Each one of these comes with different properties, usually one pro and one con each. Each individual component comes with an optional objective, usually revolving around killing a certain number of things in a certain way. Completing objectives with the different parts will unlock new parts and so on. Every part is compatible with every other part and each possible combination comes with its own title and its own remix of the game’s music. This is itself a thing of beauty, as the soaring electronic drive of the theme not only compliments the fast paced dog fighting perfectly but serves as a neat little relfection of the other gameplay elements. Also, I defy anyone to not feel like the greatest pilot in the history of space and time when the drop happens.

Luftrausers is a game that take all the best elements of its various genres and discards all the stuff that either weren’t fun or didn’t look cool enough. The result is a game that looks like  throwback, plays like a dream and sounds like the best thing in air-to-air combat since Kenny Loggin’s Danger Zone.

 

 

 

And there you have it, three different games, all if which are worth the pittance their respective creators are asking for them. So next time you’re bored and trying to wade through the video game slurry drowning the stream front page, why not look up one of those. Then send me some chocolate to thank me for being so right.

As I said, regularly shcheduled Reuben will be coming at you as of now, so stay tuned next week for some stuff that I’ll write about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Or possibly Assassin’s Creed 4. Because I can finally afford AAA games, and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

 

Oh and so the title of this post isn’t totally in error, why not click the link and watch some youtube videos on Overgamerisation, the official (I know there’s no way there’d be an unofficial one but still shut up) youtube channel of the The Reviewing Floor. Here’s some thing to get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0PUOaiihEk

Thoughts on: Metro 2033 Redux (and Metro Redux as a whole)

So the PS4 is continuing the whole “HD collection” trend that the PS3 had going on, and it’s now grown to include the excellent “Metro” series- “2033” and “Last Light”. “2033” was an Xbox 360 and PC exclusive, so for those who exclusively play Sony consoles this will be their first chance to get into it. At least, it’ll be their first chance to play a version of it, which I’ll elaborate on shortly.

First, the background. I played through and beat “2033” back on 360 and loved it- it’s a damn fine example of how a first person shooter can be a genuinely effective horror game (it thoroughly puts, for example, “F.E.A.R” to shame, a game I’ve always thought to be overrated)- blending stealth, tough shooting and intense horror all with a solid story adapted from Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Russian novel of the same name. Plus, you can play the entire game in Russian with English subtitles. That’s a pretty cool option. “Last Light” was a more action-based sequel that took the focus away from horror in favour of a more human-focused story with better stealth and more streamlined combat. It was a good game, but I personally preferred “2033”‘s horror approach. It’s this game I want to address here, because unlike many “HD” re-releases, this isn’t a simple visual upgrade- it’s an overhaul.

The story remains the same- you are Artyom, a young man living in the Moscow metro stations (a real-life potential solution to nuclear apocalypse) after the world has been thoroughly ruined and polluted by the end of the world as we know it- people are few, monsters roam the surface, and the atmosphere is lethal to human lungs. A new threat from creatures called “Dark Ones” arises and Artyom is sent on a long journey across Moscow to deliver the message of the Dark One’s arrival, and hopefully find a way to stop them. The story doesn’t have many real twists and turns or the like, but it’s of a consistent quality, and as a journey it works well- the world is a vibrant (in a very bleak way) and detailed one, whether you’re encountering groups of Russians all huddled into a metro station attempting to live some semblance of a normal life, sneaking your way through a frontline in the nazi-communist war (Yes, that’s a things. Nazis are apparently so persistent they survived the apocalypse) or negotiating the ruins up on the surface.

The gameplay is where things have really changed. Basically- it’s like “Last Light” now. Same UI, same inventory, same three weapon slots, same “Mask Wipe” button, and same improved shooting. Now calling switching out a game’s UI and gameplay with that of its sequel included on the same disc an “Overhaul” may sound like Hyperbole, and I understand if you think that, but given how different the two games felt this is a pretty big change. “2033” had a set number of weapon slots with certain weapons having alternatives in the same category- the new limited weapon slots mean you obviously have fewer options but you can carry literally any three guns you like (from those available, obviously), and the customistation options are strong. Its shooting also leaned towards the more realistic side of the spectrum, and as such felt less refined than it did in “Last Light”- complementing the horror atmosphere. Basically what I’m trying to say here is that both games now have more of an action focus, gameplay-wise. “2033” can be played on two different modes- one supposedly more akin to “Last Light”, and the other supposedly more in line with the original “2033”, which I picked. This turned out to make little difference though- this mode was still crammed full of ammo and health pick-ups. The few times I died were because I couldn’t get away quick enough or I took too much damage in too short a space in time. The game has also lost its dedicated “Check watch” button, so now to check your oxygen level you have to view your watch when you’re holding your gun, which is less accurate. Fortunately the game flat out tells you when to change your gas mask filter so swings and roundabouts. Is Metro “2033” worth getting in this state? I’d say so, yes- it’s still the same game, just with the refined gameplay and UI of “Last Light”. Purists might be put off, but this is definitely worth at least giving a look- especially if you’ve never played the original version.

The version of “Last Light” included here is pretty much just an upscale, but with all the DLC included. Among other things are several chapters played from the perspectives of various different characters, including one great mission in which you venture up to the surface around the Moscow library (Yep, THAT library) in search of pre-war items to sell for weapons other supplies.

Overall, this is a good package- refined version of “2033”, “Last Light” plus all its DLC, for a reduced price. If you’ve never played the games, this is the way to go. If you have already you may just want to pick up “2033” stand-alone to see the changes. But both games hold up well (Last Light only came out last year so I should bloody well hope so), and are still really solid as horror games, and as FPSs.

Oh, one last thing: they changed The Librarians- they look like enemies from some lost “Doom 3″ expansion. It’s a shame- I really liked their old design.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Thoughts on: MGSV The Phantom Pain’s “Quiet But Not Silent” and “Diamond Dog” trailers

Here we are again- back with my most-wanted upcoming game, “MGSV: The Phantom Pain”. This time we’ve got two trailers to look at, both of them showing off the new buddy system in the game.

First up, “Diamond Dog”.

(Picture and contents copyrighted by Konami. I do not claim ownership of the picture, its contents or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)

So it turns out that wolf cub seen in the Africa demo shown at TGS has a bigger role to play in the story, as he’s seen hanging out with Ocelot back at Mother Base (unfortunately when he appeared he didn’t yell “SNAAAAAAAAAAAAKE! IT’S NOT OVER YET!”)- he’s called DD now, and Ocelot’s going to look after him. Fast forward to three days later and the wolf is now fully grown (presumably it’ll take much longer in the actual game, or at least the time they say has passed will be longer. Unless wolves go from puppy to grown in three days) and wearing an eye patch. Now at first I thought the eye patch part was just a joke to make him look like Big Boss, but as you can see in the picture above, the wolf does indeed only have one eye. Anyway that’s pretty much it for the trailer- there’s a puppy, it’s called DD for Diamond Dog, then it grows up and goes off with Big Boss to have adventures.

I wasn’t sure how to react to this when I first heard about it. On the one hand I love all the goofy stuff in MGS, and in that regard I can take this in stride. On the other hand Kojima’s said this entry in the series is going to be dark, bleak and mature as all hell. Ground Zeroes did that really well- that was a very dark, serious game with some pretty harrowing story elements. I can’t help but wonder how the silly parts are going to fit in with the more harrowing tone, but for now I’m giving the game the benefit of the doubt.

Next up: “Quiet But Not Silent”

(Picture and contents copyrighted by Konami. I do not claim ownership of the picture, its contents or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)

This is the trailer that was teased before TGS- it’s a short character trailer dedicated to scantily-clad sniper “Quiet” seen above. In it, Quiet shows off her supernatural powers- floating down from a helicopter, teleporting and turning invisible. Miller wants her dead, but Ocelot reminds him that she saved Big Boss’ life. Snake appears, orders them to put her in a cell, and silently comforts Quiet into going with them. Miller declares that Venom will regret his decision, but he assures Kaz that, although they need her now, he’ll kill Quiet when the time comes.

This was short and sweet- I like the look of Quiet’s supernatural powers (the TGS demo showed her use in-game), and the ending delcaration that Big Boss will kill her when the time comes sets up intrigue both for that event and for the scenarios that lead to Quiet appearing at Mother Base. As I said in my “Thoughts on…” piece for the TGS demo, Quiet can die as a buddy, and depending on the player’s actions she may not even turn up at Mother Base. Quiet continues to intrigue me- I do really want to know about her backstory, and every new snippet of information about her in trailers and gameplay footage draws me in. Also, I have a new possible theory as to why she dresses the way she does: heavy clothing may well interfere with her powers. I could well be wrong, but we’ll see. Though I do find her outfit pretty odd, I don’t mind it as long as there is an actual explanation for it, and as such I’m reserving judgement until I hear it.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

inFAMOUS Second Son Review

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So then, “inFAMOUS Second Son”- the third in a series of superhero/villain (depending on your preference) sandbox games with an emphasis on moral choices. I enjoyed the first two games a lot- said moral choices were rather bold and dramatic as befits the tone, and the gameplay conveyed being a superhero/villain rather well. Somewhat irritatingly the good ending to the excellent second game was made cannon (I played both games as a complete scumbag), and so we have Second Son- a new story with a new protagonist. Is it any good? Does it live up to the level set by the series so far?

You are Delsin Rowe (apparently Delsin is a name made up for the game, as I suspected) a Native American graffiti artist who wears far too many clothes and lives with his tribe, the Akomish, near Seattle. When a conduit (people with superpowers) escapes from a D.U.P (the people hunting down conduits) transport truck on the tribe’s land, Delsin discovers he has the ability to drain the powers of conduits, an ability that results in the head of the D.U.P (named Augustine) using her concrete-based power to cripple the entire tribe because she’s a dick that way. Realising his ability will allow him to steal Augustine’s powers and reverse the Akomish people’s condition, Delsin and his straight-man cop brother Reggie set off for Seattle, where the D.U.P is based. The story is pretty straightforward- Delsin and Reggie mooch around Seattle, Delsin makes two allies and shares their powers, Reggie tries to do things by the book and gets irritated with Delsin because he’s a loose cannon that needs to hand in his gun and badge because he’s off the case- there aren’t really any surprises. The characters themselves are a mixed bag. The best among them is definitely Reggie; he’s well-written, well-acted and has genuine conflict between his duties as a police officer and his love for Delsin. He’s the straight man but he fills the role nicely, turning it into more of a character than just a cliche or archetype. Worse among them is, unfortunately, Delsin himself- he’s a free spirited rogue who ain’t got time for yo’ rules, maaaaaaaan and he needs to SHUT THE HELL UP BEFORE I WRAP HIS BLOODY RUMBLE CHAIN AROUND HIS THROAT. The vast majority of his dialogue just really irritated me (though its even worse in the subtitles, which in some cases are completely different to the actual dialogue), which is obviously a problem when he’s the player character and I’m supposed to be rooting for him. He’s well acted by Troy Baker, it’s just what he has to work with, which is really not up to much. His two mates are a young woman who used to be a drug addict and has sex with Delsin after knowing him for like an hour and a half, and a dude who’s a  (Homer Simpson voice) NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD! who likes fantasy. That’s pretty much it for them, character wise. The tribe themselves are barely in the game- they’re supposed to be the reason Delsin’s doing all this but they’re quickly swept by the wayside. Granted I took the evil path, but even so Delsin still went back to them at the end. Speaking of which, the infamous ending is really rather abrupt- genuinely surprisingly so. Oh, and one of the biggest failings of the story is its moral choices. In previous games they really affected the story. Admittedly it was because you were really good or really evil to an overblown, almost cartoonish degree, but they still worked. Here the choices are sparse and don’t have much visible effect apart from in a few key areas, and some missions are locked depending on your karma alignment. So essentially it’s taking the whole “You pretty much have to pick good or evil from the start” to its logical conclusion. It’s a shame really, as the other two games did have pretty good stories, for the most part.

Gameplay wise, it’s familiar territory. If you’ve played the other games, you know what to expect; free-running, shooting projectiles with a crosshair, melee attacks, that same annoyingly floaty jump that semi-sticks to climbable objects. It’s inFAMOUS through-and-through, with one major difference. Rather than stick with one power for the duration of the game (electricity in the other games) here you have one power at a time and can switch them at will if you’re near the appropriate power source. They are smoke (which sort of makes sense, but it’s pushing it a bit), Neon (Hmm…) and Video (Nope, too much. That’s nonsense). They all follow a definite formula but have strengths and weaknesses, making them stand-out to a degree. Draining points can seem arbitrary though, and none of them are as cool as the electricity seen in the other games. For those unaware of how the game works- it’s a free-roaming game with climbing mechanics, super-powered quick travel and a mixture of melee combat and projectiles that is mixed competently, but can get annoying- some attacks clearly work better than others, armoured enemies are a huge pain in the arse and you can get juggled quite easily. Also there is literally no reason why you can’t swim. Cole MacGrath couldn’t swim because his body was full of electricity. When Delsin falls in water he just freezes and you have to press the touchpad to teleport him back to land. Speaking of the touchpad, it’s just used as a big button, and occasionally you swipe it. Not much, but pretty simple and effective.

I rarely mention this in reviews, but the game does look fantastic- Character models are sharp, environments look detailed and the lighting is gorgeous.

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. The new power system is interesting but not nothing special, the characters are largely annoying or one-not and the gameplay is standard inFAMOUS fare. However, if you’re looking for a beautiful-looking inFAMOUS game, this should satisfy, and if you want a decent action game for PS4 then do consider checking it out. Otherwise there’s not much here. It’s not a failure, but inFAMOUS 2 beats it by a country mile.

Oh, also- it’s nice to see Native Americans in a game that aren’t mystical shamans living in the desert and fighting off demons. The Akomish are just people with a strong sense of identity and community living their lives. So props for that, Sucker Punch.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Murdered Soul Suspect Review

murdered soul suspect ps4 cover Wallpaper

You know what? I was really rather looking forward to “Murdered”- when it was first announced I thought it looked like a pretty cool idea. An adventure game where you’re the ghost of a detective trying to solve his own murder. Now I’ve both seen a full let’s play of it (Two Best Friends Play, if you’re interested) and completed the game myself, and I have a few things to say about it. None of them good.

So you’re Ronan O’Connor- a career criminal since childhood that is inexplicably now a detective in Salem, MA who is thrown through a window and shot seven times (just to make sure, I guess). Now that’s a pretty full-on opening to a game, but it’s all downhill from there. The story focuses on Ronan attempting to solve his murder so he can go to heaven and meet his wife who died three years previously, along the way solving a long-running serial killer case with the help of a teenage girl called Joy. The story’s pretty weak- it goes to some predictable places (but predictable for reasons other than you’d expect), none of the characters are particularly likable, and no one is especially fleshed out or developed, except for Ronan’s wife, whose thoughts on her life with Ronan can be found scattered around Salem written on scraps of paper for some reason. Oh, why doesn’t that mean detective at the station leave your lovely husband alone? Maybe it’s because YOUR HUSBAND IS A CAREER CRIMINAL AND YOUR POLICE LIEUTENANT BROTHER ERASED HIS RECORD. His wife is only seen once in the game, so it’s up to these notes to make her likable. Did they succeed? Well, she seems alright. No more likable than anyone else in the game, really. The story’s definitely better than the gameplay, but there’s nothing here that stands out. Obviously with it being set in Salem the witch trials are a key part of the backstory, and there’s a twist at the end that, while not terrible, didn’t affect anything in the story, and just came out of nowhere minutes before the credits rolled. Oh, and it might be nitpicking, but I would have less of a problem with Ronan’s waistcoat, trilby and trouser chain look if there was any president for it in the game. He’s the only character in the whole thing who dresses like a mid-level “L.A Noire” villain. Not a big problem, but still.

Gameplay is where we really start to run into trouble. It’s basically an adventure game with detective elements that are insulting easy. Basically you run through an area, find a scene and have to examine clues then pick the right ones to work out what happened (Ronan can see past events he wasn’t involved in, for some reason). The problem is, the answers to the question are always ridiculously obvious, and there were several times where I tried to fail them on purpose only to find out that I couldn’t- I’d lose two of my three chances and then the game would just ignore that system and let me keep picking the wrong thing. Other times there as many choices as you have chance to get it right, so it doesn’t even matter. Speaking of things being obvious, examples include the best piece of evidence to make some think about a murder is the fact that a murder happened, the best piece of evidence to ascertain where a witness is is the one called “The witness is in the nearby church” and my favorite: “How did this woman die? Oh hey, here’s a paper open to her obituary that says exactly how she died.” Frankly the “Detective” elements are insulting to one’s intelligence, and as I said- it often doesn’t matter if you mess up anyway because the game just doesn’t care. Elsewhere there are combat mechanics for some baffling reason (I blame Square Enix) in which demons appear and Ronan has to sneak  up behind them and execute them. Where did the demons come from? Why do and can they kill ghosts? Why can Ronan execute them? No idea, the game didn’t say. Demons just pop up and you have to either run past them or use hiding spots to get behind them and kill them. This worked fine for the most part until one point about 2/3rds through the game when I had to deal with three at once. I’d hide, they’d home in on the hiding spots and somehow know I was in them, and I’d have to bolt, repeat. It was frustrating to say the least.

After a certain point my objective was permanently stuck at “Leave the attic”, even when that hadn’t been my objective for ages. When the objective marker was being used it would be correct, but pausing the game would always bring the same thing- “Leave the attic”. At one point the game crashed and erased my save, and throughout the game I had numerous crashes back to the PS4 XMB (or whatever it’s called now. Basically back to the screen where you pick what game you want to play).

Anything good to say about the game? Well, despite all my complaints it’s competently put together for the most part- it’s no “Ride to Hell” or the like. That’s about it, really- it’s not a terrible, broken game. Just a boring, insultingly easy one.

There’s really no reason to pick this up- if you like the concept there are other games that did it before, and as I said the gameplay is ridiculously simple, the combat mechanics are irritating and out of place and the story is boring with under-developed, not particularly likable characters. Avoid it.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18