For those of you who know me, you probably know my love for the Diablo series and how I used to play both Diablo and Diablo II religiously when they first came out. Those games opened my eyes and heart to a whole new genre of games… That genre I will call, Loot porn. Now when Diablo III launched I was excited, hell I was awaiting it’s release ever since the first screenshot came out. And when it did launch, it seemed to me as if Blizzard took the Loot Porn genre and did everything in their power to monetize it. Then came Reaper of Souls.
Reaper of Souls is Diablo III’s first expansion set released in March of 2014, and while the “expansion” only added one act and one class – unlike Diablo II’s Lord Of Destruction which added two classes, an act, and a shit ton of items – it seemed as if the expansion was overpriced for selling at $40 when it packed barely DLC content. Or so it seemed anyway before actually playing Diablo III after a hiatus that lasted months.
The reason I had stopped playing Diablo III was because I honestly am not good at economizing stuff. So I was a level 60 monk with shit gear and barely any gold to buy anything off the auction house. And that seemed to be the first thing Blizzard addressed in their numerous – and might I add, free – game patches they released for Diablo III in preparation for Reaper of Souls. The Auction House and the Real Money Auction House were to be gone, no more can you buy your way to a staggering one million DPS, or get that fabled Horadric Hamburger that – and I shit you not – I witnessed selling for 30 euros. And that was certainly a relieve for someone like me who would count on only the loot they’d get throughout farming the many areas the game offered.
But in farming lied another issue, the loot – again, unlike in Diablo II and Diablo – was next to shit. You would need magic find anywhere between 300% and 400% to have a decent chance at getting decent loot, and some legendaries. So throughout my 120 hour journey with my monk, I accumulated exactly three legendary items through drops. None of which were even okay. And in light of that, Blizzard sought to fix the issue, by bringing forth Loot 2.0 – which is basically fancy for “now you get relevant shit” – and with Loot 2.0 the game dynamic changed 180 degrees. No longer do you need to rely on the auction house for your decent gear, the new loot system has increased legendary drops and items suited to your class. Rarely will you see a wizard only orb while playing as a monk. You’ll always get something relevant, and the drops keep getting better and better the higher the difficulty goes, bringing back how we all loved the notion of the loot porn that is Diablo.
The patches also brought a level cap increase, in both regular levels and Paragon, now you can level up to 70, with some new passive and active skills, along with having the chance to build your character a la Diablo II thanks to the revamped Paragon system. Each paragon level grants you one point to put anywhere you want within a set of 16 choices, some of which include critical chance, life on hit, and elemental resistances. Oh, and the paragon cap has been raised from 100 to 300.
Another game mode also made an appearance, that mode is Adventure mode. Basically it’s what you always did in Diablo, but now it’s acknowledged by Blizzard and you get rewarded for it. Each act within the game has some bounties to get, five to be more specific, distributed among areas Diablo players always frequent anyway to farm. Each bounty gives you an objective or two to accomplish and a boss to defeat, after which you are rewarded with gold, experience and a key fragment. Five key fragments make a rift key that you can use to travel to a weird dimension where it’s a regular Diablo area but with monsters from all over the game. Which opens up the game to a lot more of a varied gameplay, you can get those annoying desert bees that spew out poisonous smaller bees alongside fire spiders. It keeps you on your toes and forces you to keep trying to adapt, which in turn validates Diablo III’s decision in not making skill allocation permanent. In the rift you’ll have to kill every single thing you see until a bar fills up, then a rift boss shows up, after beating said boss, you get rewarded with gold, experience, items aplenty, and blood shards.
Blood Shards are basically a throwback to Diablo II’s gambler, with the blood shards you can purchase items that you don’t know what they’ll be. A one handed weapon costs 15 blood shards for instance, you can get a shit item, or you can get that one legendary that finally gives your character the boost they sorely needed.
The new class, the Crusader, is also a throwback to Diablo II’s Paladin – complete with auras and a hammerdin build -. The Crusader, as a friend described the class, is basically the fun version of the Barbarian. You can dual wield two two handed items, or one two handed item and a shield, you have skills that look so sick – think you riding a carriage chaining enemies and dragging them on the ground as your carriage runs – and you get the awesomeness of playing the character class closest to my personal Diablo II favorite class. Not that that would make much of a difference, but points still.
Before I wrap up this review I would like to point out that Blizzard did one heck of a job rebuilding Diablo III. The fifth act looks grittier than ever, definitely in tune with how Diablo III should have looked like all along. The music is sinister and melancholic to perfectly mirror the ambiance of the new act. And the story, as all Diablo stories before it – and again, personal opinion – is next to crap. Which does neither surprise me, nor turn me off from the expansion. Diablo III Reaper Of Souls was set to rebuild Diablo III and make people want to play it again, and at that it succeeded.
If you’re on the fence about this new expansion, don’t be. While at first glance it may seem like it doesn’t add much, it actually adds a ton of stuff to the game and rejuvenates it (see what I did there?).
There once was a time where more buttons meant better and more immersive gameplay, at least that’s what my friends almost ten years ago used to brag about, how about what game uses virtually all the buttons on your keyboard, or what game required those and the numpad as well. Not that I think any game used an ungodly amount of buttons anyway except as macros, but, well, that was so long ago and somehow I had believed them. The game I’m about to review uses exactly two buttons and the two thumbsticks and has one of the most redundant names in video game history. That game is Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons.
Developed by Starbreeze studios who developed well known games such Payday 2, Syndicate, and both Chronicles of Riddick games. Released in August of 2013, Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons garnered so much praise that I was a little skeptic of all the reviews and had to give it a go myself.
Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons follows the story of, well, two brothers who embark on a journey to get water from the tree of life for their sick and dying father. Throughout their journey they encounter an assortment of dangers including the local bully, a farmer’s dog, a pack of wolves and so on.
The game plays a little like a twin stick shooter and nothing like one. You’ll literally have to change the way you think about controlling a character in order to be able to control your two protagonists in Brothers. The big brother is controlled via the left thumb stick and the L2 button, and the young brother is controlled via the right thumb stick and R2 button. Now this made me more than once use the left stick thinking I’m controlling the younger brother because I was looking at him, and my brain was thinking that the left stick moves the character and the right stick moves the camera, as any top down, third person, or over the shoulder game would play, but Brothers demands that you learn to have your brain focus on the two brothers at the same time, moving each in a different direction at times, or in the same direction when they’re carrying something together, or when they’re running away from a monster.
Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons is heavily puzzle based, and they’re all very fun to go through. There was this one puzzle where you had to keep the big brother hanging on to a chain while the small brother raced across a platform to help his older brother get to the other side of the area which was admittedly very fun to get through. The boss fights are also all puzzle based, there are no weapons in this game, you won’t be wielding a sword and hacking through a bunch of enemies, the big fights all rely on good timing and mostly common sense.
Some of the puzzles in the game are not mandatory and those are the things that grant you the trophies, and they’re mostly very fun to go through, like reuniting two troll lovers together, or reuniting a mama turtle with her baby turtles.
Also, before I wrap up the gameplay section, there’s a particular nod to a particular indie game at the end of Brothers that I really liked, also, not sure if it was intentional or not, that same part references Dark Souls as well.
The game is set in a fantasy world that you are not given a lot of information about, but everything looks stunning and very nicely detailed, between the small cottages the brothers lived in to the big hulking castles where the giants dwell (which was another prod at Dark Souls, Anor Londo, anyone?) but there’s not much else to say since the graphics are not particularly impressive or anything, but it does look really nice.
The game’s soundtrack is nice but not stellar, I won’t be looking for the soundtrack anytime soon, not because it’s bad but mainly not that memorable, except at certain points in the game.
Another amazing thing about the audio work in Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons (I just love saying that name over and over, not sure why) was how their regular speech is a weird language, it’s not English, it’s not Latin, it’s not anything, but I did detect hints of Arabic here and there. Nevertheless, the game is done in a manner which will have you understand everything going on through the circumstances, the tones of the brothers’ voices, and even what they’re saying, even if it’s not making particularly any sense language wise, it’s strangely understandable.
Recap and Final Verdict:
Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons is a very emotional journey that connects you deeply with the two brothers, even with the language barrier, you end up caring for them and their adventure, my only issue with the game is that it ended a bit too soon, three or four hours long, it could have been a bit longer without being a drag since I genuinely cared for the brothers by the end of the game. If you won’t mind the short length, by all means, buy the game, if you do, I would still urge you to give it a shot, maybe wait for a sale or something, but it is definitely worth your time.
Let me start off by saying that this won’t really be a review as you, good readers, are used to from my humble blog, but rather an ongoing (through the comments) discussion of the book. (Don’t worry though, any spoilers will be marked with a //Spoiler tag)
Bioshock Rapture, released in 2011 and written by John Shirley is a prequel to the award winning and best selling and (I could go on and on about how the original Bioshock won awards and was SO good) Bioshock video game!
As a prequel to the original Bioshock, don’t expect to see the ruined underwater utopia you saw in the game, but rather prepare your minds for a wonderful tour throughout Rapture as Andrew Ryan had envisioned it. Andrew Ryan, the visionary behind Rapture sought to do the impossible, to build a city where a man was entitled to the sweat of his own brow, and not have that sweat and effort belong to the authorities, or to God, or to everyone as America, The Vatican, and Russia would have respectively. Every person in Rapture would have the opportunity to rise based on their hard work, for a man builds, but a parasite asks “Where’s my share?”. A man creates, a parasite asks “What will the neighbors thing”. A man invents, a parasite says “Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God…”
As Andrew Ryan begins to realize his vision of the amazing utopia that is Rapture, he decides that it has to be built where no one can find it, so he does so under the Atlantic ocean, and begins recruiting people that he deems worthy of a life in Rapture, the visionaries, the eccentrics, and the under-appreciated.
Slowly but surely, Rapture begins to take shape and form, beginning to be the city he wanted it to be, full of life and hard work. For a time however.
//Here be mild to extreme spoilers
Bioshock Rapture ties a lot of loose (not really ends but, let’s say, events) events that happen throughout Bioshock, like how the Big Daddies came to be, or what is actually wrong with the little sisters (I realize that this is explained by Tenenbaum in the game, but not with enough information). How the plasmids were invented, and my most favorite nod to Bioshock, the “WYK” project (Get it? W.Y.K.?).
At first, everyone is very happy and excited about Rapture and how it is a fresh new beginning and all that until work gets finished and people start getting laid off, now Rapture was built to accommodate the working man, not the laid off can’t find a job man, so the latter kind of people start to show signs of depression and wanting to leave Rapture since they literally have no place in it, and on that point, Andrew Ryan fearing a formation of unions, invites in Sofia Lamb who is a psychiatrist to talk to the people and figure out why they’re upset and try to reverse their emotions, however once Lamb starts to really see the truth behind Rapture, she begins to join these people and riots and, well, she gets incarcerated. Now here’s my first gripe about the book, Lamb doesn’t have that big of a role, you’d think because she’s the first to organize the riots and all of that that she has a major role, but unless I missed it, or have forgotten about it, her role was barely noticeable, which is understandable since she later gets overshadowed but the book didn’t mention what happened to her afterwards even.
One of the other people Ryan hired was Frank Fontaine, a fisher who would, well, feed Rapture. But Fontaine quickly rises in ranks and hires Ryan’s two scientists, Dr. Suchong, and Dr. Tenenbaum, both of whom start the plasmids business after a lucky incident with one of the workers involving a sea slug. Fontaine also starts to smuggle things that were sure to piss Ryan off, but that the people secretly wanted, like bibles or other kinds of food. Which prompts Ryan to take action against Fontaine and overtake Fontaine Futuristics (the name Fontaine gave to the plasmids business) and rename it to Ryan’s Plasmids.
After that happens, a new rebellion arises fueled by Andrew Ryan’s hypocrisy in overtaking someone else’s business by force in direct contradiction to his own original vision. That rebellion is led by Atlas (yep, the Atlas from the game, and if you finished the first Bioshock, you know who Atlas is).
//End mild to extreme spoilers
And that is pretty much all I can think of in regards to the book, aside from the characters’ stories and everything but this was how the book relates to the game anyway.
If you’ve read the book, or have questions about the characters in the game, feel free to chime in in the comments!
Games have come a long way from the primitive controls that dominated some of the earlier 90s games, and the dated visuals that technology back then was able to muster, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that games nowadays are better for the advancements, some games this gen prefer to choose a safe path instead of venturing into new territories, sticking to themes that have been milked dry, and that’s what made most of the offerings from this gen (or the last gen, sadly) mundane. Broken Age defies that however, and it defies it in the most original and outstanding manner possible, by tapping into what made old 90s games so enjoyable.
One of the (now) many successful crowd funding stories, Broken Age was advertised on Kickstarter by Double Fine Productions, the development team that brought us gems like The Cave, Stacking, and the mostly underrated (and a personal favorite) Brutal Legend. Also if you’ve been following Double Fine for a while you’d know about Tim Schafer, the guy who brought us the outstanding Monkey Island series back in the 90s with Lucas Arts, and Grim Fandango.
Broken Age is mainly a point and click adventure game, very reminiscent of Schafer’s earlier work. If you’re not into these types of games, I still strongly urge you to give Broken Age a go, and I will elaborate as to why in the following few paragraphs.
Broken Age follows the stories of two individual teenagers, Vella and Shay, Vella lives in Sugar Bunting, a village of bakers who are about to have their maidens feast in which maidens picked from each village are sacrificed to a gargantuan beast called Mog Chothra so that Mog doesn’t destroy the village. This has been the tradition for so long, though Vella’s grandfather tells her stories about how the village used to be a village of heroes and not a village of bakers, evident by the family’s last name as well, which is Beastender. To be sacrificed in the maidens feast is the greatest of honors a teenage girl can bring to her family, and Vella is destined to be sacrificed to Mog Chothra.
Shay lives in a spacecraft, seemingly the only person on board of it, with an overly motherly computer who watches his every step and makes sure Shay is safe and well, he always has the same exact routines, he wakes up, has breakfast, and goes on “missions” that the computer controlling the ship deem safe enough for him, and he’s gotten very sick his life and is always feeling like a prisoner.
Broken Age’s gameplay draws direct inspiration from old point and click adventure games, and that adds so much nostalgic value to it. You click anywhere to move around, and click on some things to interact with them. Some items can be taken and used somewhere else in the game, or can be combined with other items to make something more useful for solving a certain puzzle. Speaking of puzzles, the game is basically made out of them, but nothing is absolutely mind bending that will leave you days trying to figure out what to do, which is okay for such a lite game.
Moreover, the ability to seamlessly switch between Shay or Vella any where in the story is a very welcomed addition to the genre, if, for example you’re stuck in a puzzle as Vella, you can just leave that part for the time being and continue Shay’s adventure. Though at times this made me feel that I progressed much farther in one’s story than the other, but for fear of spoiling anything, I’ll just let you know that this particular event is handled well in the game.
The game doesn’t just stop at offering an engrossing story or nostalgic gameplay, it also offers visuals so charming that I personally can’t think of another game developed within the last few years with a similar visual style, the entire art work for the game is mainly hand drawn which that made me genuinely want to stop at certain places and just stare at everything.
Broken Age features voice actress Masasa Moyo who did certain voices in Bioshock Infinite as well as Batman: Arkham Origins, Final Fantasy XIII and a myriad of other well known games, along with Elijah Wood voicing Shay, Jack Black, and Will Wheaton!
And with such a strong voice cast, the game’s music is equally good and gripping, ranging according to the scene, from cheerful music in Sugar Bunting to space age music on Shay’s end, along with variations to suit the game’s environment.
I found myself wanting to play through Broken Age again immediately after I beat the first act just to re-live that wonderful adventure again, and I’m pretty sure most people who will play, or have already played it share the same feelings.
The game is one of the most charming and beautiful games compared to mostly anything that came out in 2013, and a wonderful way to kickstart 2014. Broken Age released on the 28th of January, I wholeheartedly recommend everyone to try this game.
Like many gamers my age, I have the honor of saying that I played a shit ton of games, ranging from the generic military shooters to mind numbing puzzle games, from the third person exploration based adventure games to the artistic narrative intensive games, and from the old school inspired indie games to the loot fests of the role playing games. But never have I played a game that made me question what was real, or made my skin crawl at the realization of something I dare not say here in fear of ruining anything from the game like The Stanley Parable has.
The Stanley Parable started out as a mod for Half Life 2, much like Dear Esther, and was remade to the indie gem we now have. It was developed by Galactic Cafe and was released in October of 2013.
This is not a game, mind you, it’s more in the spirit of Dear Esther or Gone Home, it’s an interactive story.
To try to review The Stanley Parable, or even describe anything that goes on in it beyond saying “you can walk around” would be to spoil it, and this game is an experience every gamer should go through at least once in his/her lifetime.
So yeah, this is it, this is my review of The Stanley Parable, I recommend it, that’s all I can say about it.
The nostalgic value of a game set in the ’90s can be very high if done right, we had cassette tapes, magazines that we cared about, those big ass TVs, all that nice old stuff that we hold dear to our hearts no matter how far technology goes. Gone Home hits the mark on every single one of those nostalgic values in the most amazing way possible.
Published and developed by The Full Bright Company in 2013 as (If I’m not mistaken) their very first release, Gone Home is more of an interactive story than an actual game (Think Dear Esther with a little more interactivity).
Gone Home has you play as Kaitlin Greenbriar, you just came back from your Euro trip to your folks’ new house (or more like a mansion) and you come home to find the place entirely empty, absolutely no one there, not your mom, dad, or your younger sister Sam around who the game’s story revolves.
You enter the house and you start looking around for clues of where everyone is, and you’re slowly introduced to the Greenbriar family and how they came upon this mansion they live in, the clues are mainly in the form of letters, notes, crumbled pieces of paper thrown in the trash, cassette tapes Sam leaves for Kaitlin, almost anything really.
You discover that Terrance Greenbriar (Kaitlin’s dad) is a writer who is having a bit of a rocky time getting his books published, he mainly writes sci fi novels about JFK, and so far he’s published two books until his publisher sent him a letter telling him that they can no longer publish his books due to low sales. You find notes from your mother encouraging your father not to give up, you find your father’s office full of sticky notes and books about JFK and how he’s working on creating more material for another book.
And then you find Sam’s room, and you’re slowly introduced to your younger sister in the form of audio logs that play when you find certain objects of interest. Sam had a childhood friend named Daniel, who mind you, wasn’t actually a friend, but as she described, her automatic friend since he was her neighbor, and he always had all the good Nintendo games, mainly Street Fighter. You start to learn how much Sam is picked on in her new school because she lives in a “psycho” house, until she meets a girl named Lonnie who, as opposed to everyone else, actually wants to see the psycho house. Sam invites her over and they quickly become friends, spending more and more time together. They start discovering new things in the house like hidden panels and secret pathways in the library.
//Mild spoilers ahead
Sam’s and Lonnie’s relationship begins to grow, they start dating each other, secretly at first, after all, the nineties wasn’t the most open minded time, until Sam’s parents sit her down and ask about Lonnie, and she tells them that they’re dating, to her surprise, they didn’t get mad or anything, they were just in denial, they were telling her that maybe she didn’t find the right boy yet, or that it’s just a phase, but Sam knew she and Lonnie loved each other.
//End Mild spoilers
For the sake of not ruining an outstanding narrative, I’ll conclude my description of the plot here.
Not much to say here, Gone Home mainly emphasizes on exploration, you control Kaitlin in a first person perspective. You can pick up anything, turn it around to observe it, and put it back wherever you want.
There are some very mild puzzles as well, mainly in the form of finding the combination for a lock or a safe, or finding hidden panels in the house from your map.
But that’s pretty much the extent of it.
I can’t honestly say the visuals were breathtaking or anything, they were nice, they weren’t awful of course, but they served the purpose of the game perfectly, after all, this game’s objective is not to emphasize on the visual, but rather on the story line. It could have been a little better though to be honest.
Gone Home does not feature an epic soundtrack or anything awe inspiring, mainly minimal piano bits when Sam starts talking, and some punk music from the cassette tapes Sam left Kaitlin lying around. Along with weather sounds, thunder, rain, what have you.
Now this is tricky, the game’s story is very interesting, heck it had me almost crying at the end, but I don’t think I’ll be playing through it again anytime soon, all the audio logs are saved and you can just hear them again, and that is the entire story line, unless you’re interested in Kaitlin’s trip, or Terrance’s books. So no real re-playability value here, and thus I wouldn’t really recommend buying the game at the full $20 price but rather on sale. Also the game is only around 2 hours long.
Gone Home is a very nice interactive narrative that delivers on both an emotional and a nostalgic level (that is if you liked the ’90s), but I wouldn’t heartily recommend it to people trying to get into this genre of games – mind you the game is perfectly nice – I would however divert your attention to Dear Esther instead.
There is absolutely no denying the glory that is Final Fantasy’s music, Nobuo Uematsu has repeatedly outdone himself in every Final Fantasy entry with the beautiful music. And to celebrate this wonderful music, Square decided to grace us with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game developed by indieszero and published by Square Enix. The main purpose behind Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is to celebrate Final Fantasy’s 25 year long run as a successful franchise, and it also offers a ridiculous nostalgic value.
The story of the game is not something that has kept my attention during the 6 hour long playthrough, all I got was that there was something wrong with the rhythms of some place and that you have to collect rhythmia to fix some crystal that has something to do with the universe. The plot is weak, it definitely did not hold my attention, but it’s there just for the purpose of the game having a plot.
The main attraction of Theatrhythm is the series mode where you play through the entire Final Fantasy series all the way from the very first game to Final Fantasy XIII. Now I never played any Final Fantasy game (save for 4 hours on FFXIII) so this review will mainly be from a standpoint of someone who enjoys rhythm games.
Series mode offers 13 titles over the span of 5~6 hours depending on if you’re a perfectionist and want to score a S on each stage or not, it took me 5 hours and change to do so, and this only shows how engaging the gameplay was.
Each Final Fantasy game has three levels plus skip-able intro and outro. Those 3 levels are Event Music Scene, Battle Music Scene, and Field Music Scene with each having their own style of tapping those pesky colored toggles. In the EMS you are presented with a scene from the Final Fantasy game you’re in, this scene can be gameplay (mostly of the Japanese versions) or a cinematic from the game, you tap the touch screen of the 3DS according to the toggles you’re given on the upper screen, there’s no special precautions here, only that the ring in which you align the notes moves. Also it can get a little dizzying with all the background action going on.
FMS is my personal favorite and, well, the easiest of the three, it has your leader moving in a field with the notes coming to you and you have to tap them, the only difference here is that your ring moves only vertically, and you’re the one who moves it according to the incoming notes.
BMS is the final mode and it’s basically Guitar Hero, you have four rings, four incoming sets of notes, though you do not need to move your stylus anywhere on the touch screen, just tap in the right time and you’re good to go.
Now to explain a little about what the leader I mentioned earlier is good for. The game asks you to pick four characters from the Final Fantasy universe, you have 13 to choose from initially, one from every Final Fantasy, with characters unlockable through other game modes. The characters have different sets of attributes with strength being more beneficial from BMS, and other attributes being better for other scenes. The characters you choose level up with each scene finished, adding a RPG element to the game, and you can also equip your characters with items and potions to help them defeat more monsters in BMS or simply survival longer when hitting too many bad notes. Though the RPG elements were mostly half baked and did not have that big of an impact on the game, I did not customize any characters’ item sets throughout my entire playthrough and still got S on all Final Fantasies, so it’s really not essential. The RPG elements in this game only serve to show the wasted potential of the game.
Square decided to opt for the chibis art style, and it works splendidly! Seeing Lightning and Cloud as chibis is admittedly weird though extremely cute and fluffy (for lack of a better term). There also are some animations whenever you hit enemies in BMS, though minor as they are, they mostly eliminate the monotony that the game would have been. Other than that the game is mostly cinematics of other games.
This is where Theatrhythm excels, and rightfully so considering the name sake. Final Fantasy games have always had splendid sound tracks, and Theatrhythm celebrates that by having the most notable music pieces from all Final Fantasy games with more purchasable as DLC. Your different note plays add different sound effects to the already superb music, but it doesn’t ruin it, far from it, it complements it in a very engaging manner, in BMS for instance, when you swipe down and you hear a swoosh sound right where the music pounds, it just adds more to the dramatic value of the piece.
If you’re a perfectionist, there’s tons of re-playability here, you can get better scores, thus unlocking more collectible items and videos in the collections menu, there’s also Chaos mode and Challenge mode that both offer other challenges to go through and unlock different things, from characters to items to collectable cards and videos. Theatrhythm offers a ton of re-play value here.
Theatrhythm is mainly aimed as a celebration of Final Fantasy, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy it. If you like rhythm games and REALLY outstanding music, this game offers so much. If you’re looking for deep RPG integration in a rhythm title though, look elsewhere.
What if Super Meat Boy had a love child with electronic music? How would that child be exactly? Why look no further, folks!
Electronic Super Joy is an indie game developed by the Toronto based developer Michael Todd and released in August of 2013.
I can personally guarantee that Electronic Super Joy has THE most interesting and gripping story in video game history (I really not being sarcastic), the game follows the events of the great disco wars where, basically, most of your limbs were stolen, however, one body part was stolen that you can not just forgive and forget about, not THAT body part, your butt, your butt was stolen. For some very odd reason I felt very motivated to play through the game and avenge my stolen butt. That’s pretty much the entire plot of the game.
Drawing inspiration from Team Meat’s notoriously difficult game Super Meat Boy, Electronic Super Joy is akin to playing Super Meat Boy while someone continuously shakes you, throws stuff at you, and yells at you every other second, but in the most awesome way imaginable. Let me get this out of the way first, the game is so hard that I can not imagine someone finishing a level without dying at the very least two times, and I know I don’t suck that much, I’ve actually gotten pretty good at the game over the oh so many times I rage quitted it. You play the guy wanting to avenge his butt, moving him with the left and right keys along with the Z button to jump, the X button to smash while jumping, and the R button to reset, that if you’re unfortunate enough not to have a Xbox controller handy as the game is a lot easier played with a controller than with the keyboard.
The game consists of 45 levels over three worlds with 4 unlock-able levels, and a random mode. Each world generally ending with a boss fight that saying “induces rage” is an understatement. Beating the game’s three bosses rely primarily on extremely good timing and luck, sometimes even if you have the timing down perfectly you’ll get slaughtered by the insane amount of missiles thrown at you, or not seeing that one spiked ball because of how flashy the background is, or you simply got dizzy from playing the game for 3 hours straight.
At times the game rewards you with more powers such as double jumping, stomping, or at times, flying. Something I didn’t like though was that the double jumping was used for almost 3 levels and that was it, it was never revisited again.
Electronic Super Joy will make you dizzy if you play for long periods of time, I can personally guarantee that. The background is always flashy, things move around everywhere and you need to be keeping out with everything, sometimes the background gets in the way of that but to the most part, the game has some of the most charming visuals I’ve seen in an indie game, I can describe its visual style as a monochrome FEZ with tons of colors thrown in the background which works well for the game, save for my personal issues that I have mentioned.
The game’s soundtrack is entirely composed of electronic music, with some dubstep thrown in for good measure. Mind you though I don’t personally enjoy electronic music at all, but this game’s music is so good it’s insane how entertaining the music is. Every world has it’s own theme which the music revolve of said world revolve around.
As far as sound effects are concerned, they are mostly limited to the sounds you make when you jump or stomp, with one exception that I’m pretty sure will grab the attention of anyone playing the game for the first time, mainly at the checkpoints, and I certainly do not want to spoil that for you, folks, just make sure you’re not around kids while you play the game.
Electronic Super Joy is mainly a short game, 4 hours worth in my gameplay session, however if you want to get every star, beat the best time for each level, and get absolutely 0 deaths for that one achievement, you’ll have to practice, A LOT, which gives the game tons of replay-ability.
If you’re a Super Meat Boy fan or a fan of challenging games in general, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing Electronic Super Joy. Despite it’s minor issues the game is an absolute must play for platforming fans and at $8 it’s a steal.
The game is also currently in the Groupees Be Mine X bundle in the $1 tier which is even more incentive to purchase the game.
A city in the sky, floating, suspended in the air, a true Eden you might say where everyone is happy, everyone has faith, and more importantly, everyone knows their savior, the prophet, the one who will save them all from the false shepherd who only wants to stray the flock from the truth and the certainty of their lives and bring chaos and destruction upon their perfect Eden. This Eden is nothing other than Columbia.
Bioshock Infinite is Irrational Games’ latest (and long overdue) installment in the highly regarded Bioshock series, however unlike Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite is mostly developed by the same team that brought us the first Bioshock, spearheaded by Ken Levine who brought us the clusterfuck of a storyline that was the first Bioshock.
It’s 1912, you’re Booker Dewitt, a man with a simple mission, bring them the girl and wipe away the debt. On that note, Dewitt travels by sea to an island lighthouse by two seemingly off people, he goes in the lighthouse and continues to see messages from his employers all over the walls, “bring us the girl and wipe away the debt”, he then proceeds to enter a rocket silo which takes him into the skies, to Columbia. Dewitt goes into a church that has a statue of their prophet, Comstock, and proceeds to explore the church until he finds a priest and some other people standing around said priest, the priest immediately notices Dewitt and tells him that he should be baptized in order to enter the city of Columbia, after accepting baptism (and renouncing your ways of evil, you evil people, you) Dewitt enters Columbia and proceeds to go through the city. All around the city the people are very cheerful, nice folks that just want to live without trouble, having nice conversations with one another, except there seems to be something off, you start to notice weird things in the conversations if you loiter long enough, like a woman telling her husband that she was worried because she noticed a hint of an accent in their waiter’s voice, or the odd mention of colored people every now and then, or the complete lack of any black person for that matter anywhere you go. Dewitt keeps on moving until he sees in front of him a poster with a picture of the false shepherd’s hand with the letters AD engraved on it, and this is the sign the people of Columbia will know the false shepherd by, and surprise surprise, Dewitt looks at his hand, and sees the unmistakable AD scars. He then gets a telegram telling him not to pick number 77, Dewitt takes the telegram and proceeds on to the carnival, where he’s invited to pick a ball from a basket, each ball is numbered, and well, he picks number 77, just because. Once Dewitt picks the ball, the true nature of Columbia is revealed, you are asked to throw the ball at either an interracial couple or the presenter asking you to throw the ball. Before Dewitt is able to throw the ball, he is stopped by Columbia’s police after they notice the AD on his throwing hand and proceed to try and arrest him, after they’re taken care of, Dewitt begins his journey into Columbia of finding the girl, and try and take her back to New York where he can wipe away his debt.
Bioshock Infinite incorporates some of the same mechanics as the first Bioshock, except for, you know, the sky bit. When you start out in the game all you have is a Vigor that you acquire during the carnival, Vigors are Bioshock Infinite’s Plasmids, if you’ve played the first Bioshock. That first Vigor allows you to convert enemies and turrets alike to fight for you for a short duration, or, and that’s a new thing for Bioshock, you can make a trap that will convert an enemy that walks through, which can be handy at times. After you kill the first officer during the carnival – in a very nicely gruesome manner I might add – you acquire his skyhook. The Skyhook is the melee weapon of Bioshock Infinite, along with giving you the invaluable ability to zip along sky lines and attach to freight hooks in order to get to higher places or just do some awesome sky executions, jump around through the area, gaze at the magnificence that is Columbia, or do awesome sky executions, did I mention the awesome sky executions? That’s not all what the Skyhook is good for though, aside from just hitting people closely, you can execute them when they are low on health, you get a nice bloody “cutscene” with the execution whenever you decide that they’ve outlived their usefulness as your mindless minions.
Onto the shooting mechanics, there is absolutely no shortage of weapons in Bioshock Infinite, througout Columbia you’ll find a plethora of weapon classes ranging from pistols to RPGs and even miniguns. Unlike the first Bioshock though, weapon upgrades are readily available if you have the silver eagles to purchase them, which makes upgrading weaponry less cumbersome. There are two classes of each weapon, however I won’t divulge more than that lest I spoil something.
The Vigors have been reworked from the first Bioshock, each Vigor has a primary and secondary firing method, primary is mainly just shooting at the enemy, and the secondary usually sets a trap for enemies that are unfortunate enough to pass by. While zapping enemies isn’t as fun in Bioshock Infinite as it was in Bioshock, setting a spark trap is always a good way to see a lot of enemies ensnared and in spasm from the shocks. Each vigor can be upgraded twice, however at a steeper cost than the weapon upgrades, while some upgrades offer higher damage, other upgrades either offer less salt usage, more hit chaining to nearby enemies, or in some cases, completely new abilities which makes upgrading Vigors exciting every time you do it. There is a total of 8 Vigors found throughout Columbia, 7 of them you will definitely find with only one that could be missed.
Throughout Columbia you’ll also find pieces of gear that you can equip, each piece of gear, or clothing, gives certain advantages, such as extra melee damage, incineration of melee targets, extra weapon damage while on skylines, and a good amount of other bonuses. These pieces of gear are scattered around Columbia is usually secret places, so a little bit of exploration will yield great benefits.
Dewitt himself can have his shield, health, or salt capacities upgraded via Infusions that are usually in secret places as well. Speaking of these secret areas, they’re usually either alternate paths or riddles written on walls, when you encounter the latter though you’ll need to look around for cypher books in order to access these hidden areas.
Throughout the game you’ll be playing with Elizabeth, and I can honestly say that Elizabeth is by far the best and most advantageous friendly AI that has been introduced in any game. What Elizabeth offers in terms of story enrichment is undeniable, taking aside the fact that the story more or less revolves around her, she offers commentaries on certain things you find throughout Columbia, she offers her opinions on the Comstock statues and the quotes written everywhere, and she genuinely makes you care about her. Elizabeth also offers lock picking abilities whenever you need them, she gives you salts, health and ammunition when you’re low during combat, and she tosses you the occasional silver eagle whenever she finds it. Elizabeth also has the ability to open tears in the world, you can bring back a turret, or a motorized patriot to fight alongside you, you can bring back weapons, health kits, salts, or even a wall for cover against bullets. There is no denying that Elizabeth makes Bioshock Infinite a lot more enjoyable than it already is, and I found myself bothered by the missions where she wasn’t there to help out, or give her insights.
Bioshock Infinite is jaw dropping to say the least, the first time you see Columbia you’re bound to have your mouth open in astonishment. The details in Columbia are sublime, the buildings in the sky, the clouds, everywhere you look you’ll find something to be amazed by. My only complaint with the visuals is the textures that are of very low resolution, you’ll find those in the form of flowers or fruits that can’t be picked up, while they don’t take away from the glorious sights throughout Columbia, they can be a little off putting. The game was running on my computer with everything set to the highest setting except for the dynamic shadows and it was running at a nice steady 60FPS with no frame drops that I noticed.
The game is filled with that good ol’ 1910’s music, whenever you enter shops you’ll hear songs from that era that fit the world quite nicely. If you stand long enough beside some citizens you’ll hear their conversations which is a really nice touch. The weapons sound genuine, so do the Vigors, with every Vigor having sounds to incorporate what said Vigor does.
After the game is beat you unlock the 1999 mode, which is a hardcore-ish mode where eveything is a LOT harder. Bioshock Infinite also offers a lot of replay-ability in merit of its outstanding story, you’ll want to go through it again, and again, and again, and will try to find every Infusion, or every piece of gear, every Voxophone, or every Kinetoscope.
Bioshock Infinite is 2013’s best shooter, hands down, there’s not another shooter that even comes close to how amazing the story in this game is. You can usually find the game for half the retail price nowadays, but Bioshock Infinite is definitely worth $60.
(Review written by: Pierre J. Iskandar)
Lenovo ideapad Y580
Intel i7 3630QM running at 2.3GHz
8GBs of 1600MHz DDR3 rams
Nvidia Geforce GTX660M with 2GBs of GDDR5 memory
1 TB 5400 RPM HDD