Archive for August, 2013
What if you could reverse time to save yourself from a tragic accident? Okay, that didn’t come off the way I wanted, but reversing time is the heart of Braid’s gameplay. Each level has a select number of puzzles. It’s up to you to solve them and collect all the puzzle pieces which represent a finished level. Braid is a puzzle platformer where you play as a red-headed hobbit named Tim. I say hobbit because I found a few Lord of the Rings references in there. Seriously, there’s a level called “There and Back Again”.
At first glance, Braid might come off as a child-friendly casual game. Don’t let yourself believe that. Braid is far from casual and easy as it can be brutally difficult and unforgiving. Is it a game that will cause me to throw my controller at the TV? Sometimes, yes. The time travel mechanic is what’s going to make you think and inevitably tear your hair out.
Now, it took me a little while, but I finally figured out the secret to solving the puzzles. If an object is surrounded by what looks like pixie dust, it’s not affected by time travel. Once you play the game, you’ll know what I mean. You will use this to solve a good amount of the levels.
Just to add to the complexity of the levels, there are enemies that are deadly if you touch them and can be killed if by jumping on their head (*cough* Mario rip-off *cough*). These enemies don’t pose too much of a threat, but they’re annoying nonetheless.
In my opinion, the best part of Braid is the sound. Not the effects so much as the music. Amidst the incredibly hard levels, there is a soothing soundtrack that I could listen to for hours.
Another cool thing is that you aren’t restricted from progressing because you’re stuck on a level. Each room has a door on each side so if you want to completely bypass a puzzle that looks too hard, it’s possible.
Overall, Braid is a great game that stretches your brain to the limits. You might end up with a broken computer screen or a dead controller, but if you finish it entirely you will feel immensely satisfied.
I only recently came across this game while browsing the Xbox live game store, and I am pleasantly surprised. It is fun and there is a lot for how little it cost. The single-player story is that your avatar was just relaxing on the dashboard when suddenly they got transported and woke up in a strange land. Some evil force has been trapping countless avatars and you are the hero that must save everyone.
Going through the tutorial you find out that you are the only one who can actually open a chest and so you must be the chosen one. After that you go on quests and it is like a children’s version of an action RPG. I found the story to be an interesting concept, even if done overly cheesy, but the gameplay just wasn’t enough fun for me to play much single-player.
Trying out multiplayer is what really sold me on the game and while there are some issues, the game is still fun to play off and on when you want to kill some time and enemies. Multiplayer is just going through a map and fighting enemies at preset spawn points in waves until you get to the boss and kill everyone or die. At the end you are awarded money based on your performance which can be used to upgrade your gear.
You can create a multiplayer map and share it with the world. I was also slightly surprised that being two years after it was released there were still a handful of people playing online. There are at least enough that I didn’t have to wait for a game to open up. Some games I joined took a long while before they started because everybody wasn’t ready. I did really like that you can join mid-match and start fighting on the next wave of enemies.
I like that you can do local multiplayer by yourself only and all the equipment and experience carries over to online and vice-versa. I would recommend playing local if you have a problem with watching other people lag-jump all over the place. Personally, I started getting a headache.
Once you get past the lag and being forced to be signed into Xbox Live just to launch the game, this is a great time killer and pure grinding game.
Ittle Dew, a girl with violent tendencies is being washed ashore on a mysterious island along with her flying fox sidekick, Tippsie. Dungeons and treasures await them as well as ferocious Fishbuns, Jennys and Turnips. It is obvious that Ittle Dew approaches the Adventure-RPG genre from its less-than-serious side. Having many references to Zelda and other fantasy clichés it often succeeds in making the player smile. Characters are sketchily introduced, but it doesn’t matter as you will find out soon this is essentially a puzzle game.
You may collect bits of paper to draw new hearts increasing your health and also some monster cards (they’re only there for the flavour) as well as gold to buy better equipment than the stick you get as a starting item. However, there are only three “weapons” available at the local shop: Fire sword, Ice wand and Portal wand.
Puzzles themselves mostly consist of pushing blocks/bombs or hitting enemies, but with the aforementioned three items you can manipulate objects and monsters in many ways. As an incentive to replay the game multiple times the whole story can be completed with any two of the weapons.
Besides exploring a huge castle there are different places where you may find each of the magical items (always ending with a bossfight) and some smaller puzzles throughout the wilderness. If you feel really clever, try the Master Cave and flex your mind-muscle!
Ittle Dew’s graphics are simple but charming and also invoke memories of early Zelda titles. I love the game’s music even more, the catchy little tunes make me feel like being in the 90s again and it has enough variations to be fun listening to while struggling with a puzzle.
Being an entertaining indie title, Ittle Dew’s only major drawback is shortness. Fortunately, extra dungeons, collectables and variations of equipment make you giving it more than one try (speedruns are also encouraged).
Spartacus Legends is a free-to-play fighting game on Xbox Live and PSN. The free-to-play model has the ability to be so invasive, that it can undermine the overall experience. Spartacus Legends is not plagued too much by these tactics, but it suffers from some debilitating gameplay flaws.
Set in Starz’s Spartacus universe, you take control of a whole roster of gladiators. Right from the start, a huge opportunity was missed. You are able to purchase gladiators, but you are given no information about their past. No background, personality traits, nothing. This could have been a game where you are connected to your characters, but instead, they are shallow segregates for carnage.
Combat is visceral and intense, albeit slightly glitchy and sporadically difficult. It works simple enough: there are light and heavy attacks, grapples, and knock back moves. While frame rate can plummet and controls can be finicky, it is the moments when you pull off the perfect move and destroy your opponents that make it so enjoyable.
Difficulty progression makes no sense whatsoever, the lower level generic opponents are frustratingly difficult while the bosses seem to be laughably easy. On top of that, this game requires a constant internet connection, which can be a problem when they fail to maintain their servers.
The graphics are poor, character models are stiff and environments are overly bland. There are only about 5 different in-game locations which may be disappointing for some, but the vast array of armors will likely satisfy.
Free-to-play microtransactions are not as intrusive as they could be. You are able to buy armor that is levels ahead of you but, if you are experienced at the game, then the extra armor doesn’t matter. There are moments of annoying microtransactions though. Unequipping skills in the place of new ones carries an unnecessary fee. This is so frustrating because it breaks the mold that allows you to put in time, rather than money to get what you want.
Spartacus Legends, is no masterpiece. Issues appear in every aspect of the game. That being said, fun can be had and it is completely free.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what Skulls of the Shogun was when I first played it. All I knew is that there’s a cartoony art style reminiscent of Castle Crashers and that’s about it. Five minutes in, I found out it’s a turn-based tactical strategy game in which you play as the almost-Shogun Akamoto and his loyal troops.
The game begins with a cutscene in which Akamoto stands victoriously over a field of deceased enemies. Seconds later, he is stabbed in the back by one remaining soldier. Without really knowing what’s going on, Akamoto is whisked off to the Underworld, a Purgatory of sorts. There he starts a rebellion and decides to fight his way to the “Gates of the Afterlife” along with other undead samurai.
Like I said, this game is turn based which means when I’ve used up all my actions, the turn will be passed on to the enemy team. Unlike, other strategy games, there is no grid here. Rather, each soldier has a white circle surrounding them that marks their boundaries. When your turn starts, you have a certain amount of orders you can give to your troops. Each soldier has one action per turn. Whether this means attacking the opposing team, picking up health, or haunting rice paddies to get points, the action is used up and that character can’t be ordered again until the next round. There is an exception to this, though. Eating fallen enemies’ skulls gives your character health. Eat three skulls and you’ll become a demon, capable of taking two actions per round.
The best part of the game, in my opinion, is the humor. While there’s no actual dialogue, there is a grunting noise made by a character followed by a speech balloon. The game’s so funny because it can go from totally serious, to outright hysterical. As much as I love the humor and originality of the single player, it’s really just a tutorial for the multiplayer. The multiplayer has all the same rules as the campaign, except you can’t fast-forward your enemy’s turn. Even though there’s cross-platform play between the PC, Windows Phone, and Xbox 360, it’s hard to find a match.
Make no mistake. Skulls of the Shogun is worth it all the way. The humor, gameplay, graphics, and sound are all top-notch. I’d recommend this game to absolutely anyone and that’s that.