Premieres 2

Page 1 of Premieres

Regalia of Men and Monarchs

It admittedly took me far too long to finally get around to playing this game, but for what it’s worth it was an enjoyable romp when I finally got there. I enjoy the different tactical styles, I enjoy the layers of gameplay, I like the story in general and the characters in specific. A definite recommend for any fans of tactical turn based RPGs.
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +2
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 29 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-22-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Generally logical and reasonable dialogue and events, which make the story fit together more coherently than a lot of fiction, and helps enjoyment factor
  • Voice acting is, mostly, spot on and well done
  • The little mini-stories and choose-your-own-adventure sections are fun, with neat story tidbits
  • Generally humorous tone is fairly well done, and put me in a good mood throughout
  • Crucey is just a great character in all his appearances, and his ‘defeating’ the villain was legitimately enjoyable

Story Negatives:

  • Carren is fairly poorly written and, worse, ultimately felt completely out of place in the rest of the story for how he was represented

Gameplay Positives:

  • Option exists to alter difficulty beyond just easy and hard, and these options are available in mid-game
  • Good visual distinction in combat, good HUD information and options including (but not limited to): Movement range, Visibility of attacks, Visibility of initiative, Ability to undo movement unless hurt or committed, Available actions and cooldowns, Easy to understand hotkeys, etc.
  • Multitude of convenience options, far too many to list here
  • Gameplay-wise it’s nice to vary up the main loop of kingdom, talk, and combat with the choose-your-own-adventure tidbits, which have branching paths and stat consequences
  • The choose-your-own-adventure stuff gains a second plus for continuing to be good and, honestly, one of the better parts of the game even by the end
  • Each character has a good and varied kit, with a lot of combo options across characters, and further customization options with perks and morphs

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The game is lacking in further depth and complexity to its tactical and strategic layer; While both are good, both also lose interest the further into the game one gets
  • The lack of ability to save in mid-combat, even for emergencies, as well as inconsistent saving options (save in town but not in dungeons)
  • Aggregate: Lack of proper font scaling, or UI scaling, or related options // Voice clips on every action get very tiresome
  • Aggregate: Hitting escape does not cancel out of action, but rather brings up menu // Occasional irritation with scrolling menus completely ignoring the mousewheel // Similarly, some menus don’t acknowledge keystrokes at all // Having to click through each line of dialogue in each cutscene

Tropico 6

While there is a legitimately interesting core gameplay concept here, many issues and problems crop up constantly preventing me from really sinking my teeth into it, ultimately making me just disinterested in continuing. Maybe when the game’s gotten some expansions and patches under its belt it’ll be more recommended.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 15 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-24-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The humorous and parody tone was well done and funny throughout

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Reasonably well presented information
  • Mission scenarios are varied enough to stay fun and fresh
  • Very good options with regards to sandbox mode, with none of it requiring unlocks

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Improper and actively bad font scaling options (as is so common now days)
  • Every now and again there are incidents or problems and I have no idea why, which is immensely frustrating in a management sim. The amount of information granted is lacking regarding specific mechanics (food quality, increased revolutionaries, etc.)
  • Takes entirely too long for most things to happen, leading to long downtime periods with basically nothing to do but wait on fast forward

Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire

This is definitely in the running for my favorite CRPG of all time, and I mean that sincerely. The story is excellent, long, and has a lot of great world building and politics to it. The game almost completely bypasses the usual Trash Problem, and has fantastic settings and options to customize your playing experience. And it’s fully voice acted, which helps flesh it out so much. Massively recommended to any RPG, WRPG, or CRPG fan.
Total Story Score: +8
Total Gameplay Score: +5
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 6 Days // 48 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-30-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Generally good storytelling, cohesion, continuity, presentation of setting, and flow of events
  • Voice acting is superb in general, good and talented voice actors properly displaying nuance
  • Second plus for sheer quantity of good voice acting, even for minor NPCs
  • Excellent quest design across the board, with good all-roads-lead-to-Rome design
  • Well written and interesting characters, in-party and out (special praise to Xoti, Eder, and Atsura)
  • The internecine politics of the isles are, easily, the most engaging part of the story and had me hooked throughout
  • Despite an absolutely huge amount of content, the main meat of the quests never got old or disinteresting and never made me not care
  • The epilogue slides are well done, acknowledging a large amount of choices throughout the whole game, and serve as satisfying denouemont
  • Aggregate: In-dialogue mouseover lore tidbits allow unobtrusive exposition // The mini-factions within factions and how they play off each other is fun // The party quests were mostly enjoyable

Story Negatives:

  • The not-built-up, abrupt, lack of options, badly designed romance slammed into the PC out of nowhere by Xoti

Gameplay Positives:

  • Large array of options, far above and beyond the norm, for playstyle and difficulty
  • Good built-in console, allowing to fix bugs, bypass quests, adjust variables, mod, etc.
  • Excellent all-roads-lead-to-Rome quest design
  • Game has options for being as evil or good as you prefer, including being able to just kill everyone in your way (with consequences, of course)
  • Significant and ongoing effort into making the turn-based-mode viable, which drastically alters how the game plays and is very well done regardless
  • A second plus for the stellar quest design
  • A plus for completely avoiding the Trash Problem in a CRPG
  • Aggregate: Difficulty options are adjustable on the fly and apply to new zones (though not existing ones) // Little mini-events, derived from reputations, companions, and actions help flesh out gameplay

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Hard to nail down, but there are artifact design issues with the combat; these are helped by options, but these options mostly bypass the problem rather than addressing it
  • There are way, way too many areas which are just so, so dark and make it hard to see where I am, and where I’ve been
  • Aggregate: The time of day mechanic is, as usual, more of a hassle than anything // Swapping party members is needlessly time consuming and irritating // Pretty bad memory leaks and load times, leading to frequent restarts

Pathfinder Kingmaker

While the story was generally stellar, and honestly I had no complaints throughout, I absolutely cannot recommend this game without cheating unless you’re already a big fan of Pathfinder itself and, this is important, have a tremendous amount of time to spare. This game is gargantuan, even when cheating (as I ended up doing), and if played default will take literally weeks or months to get through. However, if you’re interested in a fairly true-to-Pathfinder experience, you’d be hard pressed to find something more faithful to the books than this.
Total Story Score: +8
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Cheats: Yes (Movement Speed, Auto-Crit // Turned off for bosses)
Total Play Time: 9 Days // 70 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-9-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Chapter 3 is more interesting in general than the previous setup; legitimately funny bits with the goblins, an interesting mystery build up with the cult, the curse, and the diseases
  • Generally good and well structured storytelling, with very few (if any) ‘because plot’ moments
  • Game does a good job of keeping track of your actions and choices to have the consequences of them show up later
  • The entire City on the Edge of Time section and its writing, voice acting, continuity, and consequence from previous choices and quests is awesome
  • The chapter 8 ‘save the kingdom’ sequence was great
  • A good epilogue, showing the consequence of virtually every individual quest done across the entire game
  • Aggregate: The ‘plague’ was brilliant in its construction for the setting // The continued emphasis on names and whom to trust in Chapter 4 was nice // Several genuinely touching moments, especially during character quests
  • Aggregate: Mouseover lore tidbits help exposition without interrupting narrative // When there is voice acting, it’s quite good // Lots of interesting background lore on the setting

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Lots of, and good variety of, difficulty options which can be altered on the fly
  • A second plus for truly fantastic difficulty options and curve
  • The game is a faithful, clearly well-thought-out recreation of Pathfinder and the module it’s based off of
  • The choose-your-own-adventure sections are fun and interesting, take into account skills, and have multiple branches
  • City building is good, with varying adjacency bonuses, picking and choosing what to have in which place, and generally makes the ‘keep mechanic’ better than any other game I’ve seen
  • The entire series of kingdom events, the bonuses you gain, and expanding your territory
  • Chapter 8 is fun story wise, but great gameplay wise by acknowledging your choices, and more or less forcing you to rely on those you’ve helped or hindered up until now to progress

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The default movement speed is just molassas, and became unbearable within minutes
  • The game basically cheats with its difficulty; It’s not just how unforgiving and optimized the encounters are, but enemies literally have inflated stats beyond what should be possible for their level, even on the Normal difficulty preset
  • Too much trash, too many encounters, leading to the Trash Problem
  • So I was asked to type up a full explanation of the Factory Problem and the Trash Problem since it’s so, so prevalent in this game: Each individual encounter takes quite some time to push through, and there are many, many, many encounters in the entire game. If on normal or harder these fights can be fun, engaging, and interesting, requiring tactics, knowledge of the system, and skill to defeat… but due to the sheer quantity of encounters this grows old. If cranked down to the easiest difficulty these fights become much easier but no less tedious, as you still have to slog through the same quantity of encounters. This is a nonstop problem, thus draining energy and interest in combat. There is, in short, too much trash, and that trash on any real difficulty is too aggravating for every single encounter, leading to… the Factory Problem and the Trash Problem
  • A third negative for the Factory/Trash Problem
  • A fourth negative for the Factory/Trash Problem
  • The original negative for the Factory Problem, as described above
  • Aggregate: Cannot charge out of range // Bug with slowdown tactical mode thanks to hitting the spacebar // Periodic crashes // Constant issues with button presses not going through, most notably on dialogue but also in menus // Occasionally double select party members bug // Memory leak issues requiring frequent restarts

Anthem

I don’t like to let others make opinions for me, so I tried walking into Anthem with the most neutral mindset I could manage, and after slogging through the main campaign (with help from a friend), I will say that this game is the worst game I’ve ever actually reviewed. There is extremely little redeeming about it. While I’m aware of the behind-the-scenes mess that led to this, the harsh reality is that the resultant game itself is just awful. Absolutely not recommended.
Total Story Score: -6
Total Gameplay Score: -10
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 17 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-12-2019
Number of Crashes: 26 (roughly one crash every 39.23 minutes)

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

  • The intro is, to put it kindly, not well done… bad directing, writing, pacing, with literally missable dialogue
  • The dialogue is more cliche’d than even I can tolerate, to the point where it actively detracts from scenes
  • The voice direction is almost universally bad, with the emphasis and tone off or actively wrong
  • The tonal whiplash and utter mess of scene flow is jarring as hell
  • The script, most notably the dialogue, is filled with gaping holes and is clearly a first draft
  • The final mission was even worse than usual; ended abruptly, no payoff, no satisfaction, and then a sudden cliffhanger of all things

Gameplay Positives:

  • The double jump and jetpack mechanics for the javelins are actually really awesome, fun, and intuitive to use and control
  • There’s surprisingly good mid-mission checkpoints, and the ability to ‘rejoin’ a mission in mid-checkpoint

Gameplay Negatives:

  • An utterly unacceptable amounts of buggy, broken mess at launch
  • The basic gunplay is disinteresting, with multiple ‘types’ of guns having extremely similar sound effects, animations, and uses
  • Load times are truly terrible, even on an SSD
  • Multiple Crash To Desktops, as noted above
  • A second negative for a nonstop stream of CTDs
  • The lack of variety in mission types is discouraging and boring
  • The lack of variety in gameplay missions actually gets worse the further in you get
  • The Challenges of the Legionnaires quest is the worst kind of padding; Repetitive, open-world X of Y content farming to progress the main story
  • A second negative for the Challenges of the Legionnaires quests, which involve randomization and far too many of each objective
  • Bad implementation of the height barrier; the barrier itself is variable, it forces linear navigation, it does damage to you, it can prevent you from recovering from it, and it helps showcase how the game was not actually designed with flight in mind
  • Grouping is a pain, with group members randomly kicked after each mission
  • Aggregate: Literally lying menu options // Having to manually reset resolution after each relaunch // Many, many side bugs and issues // HUD does not show party members well at all

Enderal

It’s worth noting that while this game has many, many small issues, it’s nonetheless astonishing what a fan mod was able to accomplish within the bones of Skyrim. The main plot is reasonably well done, there are strong and powerful character moments, they try to stretch the engine as far as it can to try interesting and unique things. There are some issues related to it being a bit too ‘say a lot, mean a little’, and the difficulty curve is clearly designed with grinding in mind. Still recommended for anyone who’s a fan of the series, or WRPGs in general. Oh and be warned, there is a large amount of content in this game.
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: +2
Cheats: Yes (Difficulty and Power Progression Curve issues)
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 37 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-16-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Decent world building and background lore throughout
  • The voice acting on a few of the characters (notably Calia and Tealor) is legitimately excellent
  • The amount of effort put into the story and voice acting of a free, fan game is plus worthy
  • The layout and doodad design of cities works very well, crating a feeling of actual places you’re exploring (especially Ark)
  • The entire story around Silvergrove was great, aside from the bad voice acting
  • Brilliantly done story moments for both Calia and Jespar in their personal quests

Story Negatives:

  • The game is too talky, which really hinders pace
  • A second negative for ‘too talky’, which to elaborate; It’s when a lot of dialogue says very little, with lines that go on too long and drag the pace of a scene down, with huge, huge stretches of exposition (especially towards the end)
  • Repeated dialogue from NPCs and enemies both gets pretty bad pretty fast
  • This technically qualifies as an Aggregate but it is simply for the many, many issues that are a byproduct of this being a mod. Misleading dialogue, incorrect lines, occasional slip ups, bad directing at times, screwed up sound balance, et cetera.

Gameplay Positives:

  • The new music is actually quite good, and fits the scenes nicely
  • The console is extensive, well designed, and intuitive for searching, editing, changing, deleting, and fixing (Skyrim Point)
  • The dual ‘wield’ system allows for a good variety of builds and combat styles (Skyrim Point)
  • The general level design of dungeons, cities, and fast travel points is well done
  • Despite severe limitations of the engine, a lot of effort is expended to make interesting or creative dungeons, traps, events, and cinematics

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The difficulty curve is more or less designed to force grinding, not all builds are viable, and there is no respec option
  • There are general bugs, issues, and crashes (Skyrim Point)
  • The time-sensitive events, quests, shops, and interactions are bad by themselves, but with no proper ‘wait’ option outside of running to an inn it gets much worse
  • Moments of excessive, bad railroading
  • Aggregate: The load times are just bad // Improper menu scaling, preventing some chunks of text from even being on the sceen // Bad sound balance // Cannot deal with bards during relevant cutscenes // The not-quite-paused, not-really-interactable cutscene style is just jarring

The World Ends With You Final Remix

While absolutely not for everyone, anyone with an interest in either anime, JRPGs, or complex storytelling should probably give this game a shot. It’s fairly short by the genre’s standards, which is good because it is a massive case of Babylon 5 Effect (the story is better the second time through thanks to planning and design). The gameplay is… troubling, since it takes serious getting used to, but still works well enough for what it’s trying to do, and avoids many of the typical hurdles of JRPGs.
Total Story Score: +5
Total Gameplay Score: -1
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 20 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-23-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Neku’s arc, while brief, is still quite good
  • Joshua remains a fascinating character throughout the majority of the game
  • The main plot is interesting and complex, without swaying too heavily into ridiculousness
  • Multiple interesting, memorable characters who all get either unveiled or developed throughout
  • There is an absolute ton of foreshadowing, as well as a tightness to the crafting of the plot, helping the Babylon 5 Effect
  • The cheese is real, and it’s delightful

Story Negatives:

  • A few too many scenes where characters just sort of brush things off, or do sudden 180s, or otherwise causing tonal whiplash

Gameplay Positives:

  • The graphics style is very distinct, maintaining a strong comic-book mixed with graffiti aesthetic
  • Good gameplay and story integration at many points (the variance in style between Shiki and Joshua is just one example)
  • Multiple options available to avoid grinding, including but not limited to; Difficulty options, the ability to restart a fight with different setup, alternate leveling options, etc.
  • The core gameplay conceit of different inputs for different attacks is pretty fun at its heart, and helps vary playstyle
  • The difficulty options are excellent; Variable level, variable difficulty, ability to change after losing a fight, new equipment loadout, and new stuff for new strategies isn’t worthless out-of-the-box allowing for more experimentation in builds
  • The New Game + chapter select is great, and not losing progress in mid-chapter while bouncing between chapters is even better

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Excessive and over-long tutorialization for almost all of Week 1
  • Unskippable cutscenes (until you’ve already beaten the game)
  • Enforced ironman mode, and only one save slot
  • The Switch docked controls are just… not good. They require precision, especially on harder stuff, and the controls can’t even come close to that
  • The amount of mechanics regarding the many, many systems are just over the top and, worse, don’t gel well with each other at all
  • The dialogue spam during boss fights is worse than usual, and gets worse further into the game
  • The obtuse grind wall in A New Day is stupid, badly designed, and far too heavy on Walkthroughitis

Pokemon Let's Go

This is one of the weirder games I’ve reviewed. It’s not bad, but I can’t really call it good either. It does several things very right, and many things very wrong. I can’t even tell you which audience it’s aimed for exactly. In general I don’t think I recommend it, but if you already have a copy it’s worth playing through. The story isn’t great but it’s better than the original, and the overall pokemon design is still acceptable.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: +2
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 27 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-28-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The story is, in general, light hearted and fun, but also connects with Sun / Moon in several ways, and has several nice moments peppered throughout

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The dynamic between 4 moves and 6 Pokemon and the many factors related thereto lead to some great pre-combat strategy (Pokemon Point)
  • Good presentation of most of the necessary information, including but not limited to; moves, items, IVs, and stats
  • The game is very easy to play, for the very young who might be interested in getting started in the franchise
  • Visible pokemon on the overworld map, which stay through combat, is awesome and allows you to; Avoid the RNG of looking for specific mobs, remove the Trash Problem entirely, and allows you to home in on a specific enemy
  • A second plus for the visible encounter system (including how Repel just prevents spawning, how easy it is to avoid encounters, visible status changes between Huge and Little, etc.)
  • Aggregate: Some good convenience features, such as accessing the Pokemon Box anywhere, using the R keys instead of A, etc. // Music is nice and bouncey and fits the mood
  • Aggregate: Core gameplay loop is the usually enjoyable Pokemon standard // Reasonably well done difficulty curve, assuming you avoid the xp that is flung at you // Graphics are surprisingly detailed, with good terrain and background design

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Randomness in catching mechanics (Pokemon Point)
  • Only one save file, which is just ridiculous for a modern Switch game
  • The motion controls for capturing are genuinely aggravating, and made me want to stop capturing at all halfway through
  • Aggregate: Lack of any real difficulty options or ability to disable Experience Share // Far too many button presses required for many options // No memory cursor // Tree regrowth and no shortcuts for HM equivalents // Timers for legendary fights are hindered by animation time

Dark Messiah

An interesting, innovative, and unique older game that got frustrating at times but ultimately kept me engaged, especially by virtue of the combination of level design and the kit the game hands you for dealing with enemies and obstacles. Best played with a guide though, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +3
Cheats: Yes (because spiders)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 11 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-30-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Interesting cinematic direction in showcasing events, especially good direction in the dream vs. reality and ending cutscenes

Story Negatives:

  • Disinteresting overall story but, worse, the ending is just blurgh with repeating elements, too short, too truncated, and no satisfying payoff to anything

Gameplay Positives:

  • The usage of physics as a primary combat vehicle is fun and interesting
  • A second positive for consistent and creative usage of physics
  • The level design is generally excellent, complimenting out-maneuvering and out-thinking opponents
  • The kick/physics attack and nearby terrain almost always ensures you have at least some way to deal with combat
  • Good tutorialization of events in cutscenes and/or scripted actions
  • The rope bow is an awesome tool, and a lot of effort was clearly put into ensuring it had many uses throughout levels
  • Aggregate: Visual layout of most areas is pretty well done // The cyclops fights were consistently fun and well done throughout // The game encourages exploration in just the right way

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The game is just way, way too dark (visually), making it really hard to see where you’re going or what you’re doing many times unless you leave ‘detective vision’ on
  • The pao-kai fights are just awful, with nothing interesting done to fight them, make them engaging, nor are they well presented. This is particularly bad during the final boss fight
  • Aggregate: The game has no respec, forcing you to either restart or stick with a bad build // Platforming issues periodically, as per usual with the Source engine // A bit too easy to get turned around in many areas thanks to samey textures // Power attacks just don’t work about a third of the time, which sucks given how hard the game leans on them
  • Aggregate: Cutscenes are a bit too skippable, oddly // Despite trying to build myself well and making actual efforts, and on normal difficulty, I found myself dying often and being unsure as to why // Combat relies a bit too much on physics rather than game mechsnics, which causes issues

Hitman 2

I have almost nothing but praise for this game. It’s very fun, very open ended, can be played in many different ways, and has exceptionally high replay value. I cannot recommend this game enough, seriously. Go buy it.
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 15 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-31-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • A reasonably interesting narrative presentation during briefings, which gives good context for assassinations
  • The tidbits of detail to NPCs throughout the missions are just great, with lots and lots and lots of Lindblum Effect from chatter, interactions, and reactions
  • Aggregate: Reasonably good voice acting // Well presented main plot despite predictability // The usage of the ‘still’ cutscenes with voice acting was not only good, but was a great creative decision for budget and development reasons

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Fantastic freeform mission design, even in the tutorial!
  • A second plus for the freeform missions, especially given their scope and scale
  • The attention to detail in NPCs, chatter, costumes, interactable objects, cosmetic background items, and general doodad placement is mind blowing
  • A third plus for the mission design (and, as a bonus, the option to turn off or on HUD, assists, and other immersion options)
  • Challenges are a great idea to not only offer replay but prompt new ideas or routes
  • The design of unlocks and multiple paths to victory heavily emphasize not only replay value but variety of missions
  • Story Missions are a great design concept; they provide guidelines (without restricting) and can be ignored or completely toggled off
  • The dynamic Yoshi-Drums music relevant to current actions, status, and the point in the mission is all goo dstuff
  • A substantial post-game in terms of elusive targets, competitive multiplayer, and additional challenges
  • Amazing size and variety of kit in terms of what you can bring, find, and use in missions

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Improper text and UI scaling options, which is getting sadly normal now days
  • The always online requirements for unlocks and choices is just bleh

Tales Of Vesperia

Before you kill me with sticks, let me say that despite the score I did find the game moderately enjoyable. This was a game that had a lot of positives, it just had more negatives, hence leading to the current situation. Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of Tales Of, but if you aren’t (or aren’t into JRPGs in general), should probably avoid.
Total Story Score: -1
Total Gameplay Score: -2
Cheats: No.
Total Play Time: 7 Days // 43 Hours
Time Reviewed: 6-7-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The Skits offer additional flavor lore for developing areas, characters, and other aspects of story and are fully optional
  • A second plus for Skits continuing to be entertaining and fun throughout the game
  • Some legitimately amusing banter between characters helps flesh them out and keep them interesting
  • Estelle is juuust adorable and a generally good character
  • The Don is interesting, enjoyable, and well written
  • The ‘seduce the guard’ sequence was legitimately funny, cute, and entertaining… all three versions
  • The Yuri / Flynn dynamic is interesting, but most especially how it showcases the value and detriment of both perspectives
  • Judith is an interesting character who manages to balance being helpful yet distant
  • The plot idea of changing the status quo, solving the long term root problem of Aer, and effectively creating our own mac-guffins is pretty cool

Story Negatives:

  • There is a near-constant, fairly awkward amount of bad exposition
  • Action scenes are directed actively badly, to the point where it’s not just distracting, it’s actually confusing
  • A second negative for the action scene directing
  • Patty is just… badly implemented into the story. The character herself is fine, but the way they shoehorn her into and out of the plots is poorly executed
  • Unnecessary cutscene incompetence and fake drama
  • More cutscene incompetence and, worse, near-constant arguments about ‘keeping the party together’ which gets old less than halfway through the game
  • The desert sequence in its entirety is riddled with too many problems to list here
  • Awkward pacing in general
  • The adephagos is… not interesting at best, and actively detracted from the game’s final act in my opinion
  • Aggregate: Sodia’s arc was alright… right up until the (bizarrely directed) backstab scene, a scene which also had no payoff // Zagi in his entirety was juuust awful, every implementation actively worsening the story // Raven’s entire sequence of ‘I betrayed you no just kidding I’m dead but also I’m back’

Gameplay Positives:

  • The core combat of artes, skills, and chaining is pretty cool once you understand it
  • Combat animations and background doodad placement are mostly good
  • Aggregate: The ability to switch which character you control in combat is good // In combat co-op is good // The ability to use move types to ‘vuln’ enemies for strikes is neat

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Voice clips on action during combat, which just creates a cacophony
  • Extremely blatant, unnecessary, and redundant tutorialization… made even worse by the fact that they have built into the game a good form of tutorialization
  • Periodic occasions where you have vague directions but no specifics, leading to ‘who do I talk to’ incidents
  • A substantial amount of walkthroughitis in terms of game mechanics and side-quests
  • A lack of exit ports, tools to leave, or just good dungeon design, leading to a lot of backtracking to leave dungeons
  • Aggregate: Occasional No Music issues // Sound direction is actually pretty bad, most notably with music selection for scenes, and bad sound balance

Spyro Reignited

While it had some issues, this was a fun and silly romp through a fun and silly game. Light hearted and ridiculous, hampered by a few artifact game decisions, but still quite fun to skip through. I do recommend you hit each game separately though, as they can be quite long and blur into each other if you hit them back to back.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +3
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 24 Hours
Time Reviewed: 6-19-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Tight, responsive controls that feel very fluid
  • Good, dynamic Yoshi-drums style music that helps the atmosphere
  • The visuals are suitably cartooney without looking cheap, and are well colored and lit
  • Pretty good convenience features (Warp-to-level from a menu, indicators showing what you’ve collected and where, quick and easy retry options, auto-camera, swapping between soundtracks, exit levels before finishing, etc.)
  • Interesting variety of activities per level in the second game, making it feel a bit theme-park in design
  • The narrowed boss design in 2 lends each to feeling more fun and better designed
  • The additional characters in 3 add good variety to the levels
  • Generally good visual and audio variety to levels, especially in the 3rd game

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The final boss of the first game is bad, bad, bad. It’s frustrating in general, has no checkpoints (making you repeat already irritating sections that deliberately irritate for any mistake you make), and the fact that you are only supposed to reach Gnasty Gnorc in one specific way, removing possibility of skill or tactics
  • Across all three games there is a heavy emphasis on binary difficulty to minigames and challenges, meaning any mistake is final and requires starting over
  • Far too many moments, especially in the bosses in game 3, where you are actually fighting the camera rather than the enemy
  • Aggregate: The egg thief enemies are not only designed to be annoying, they succeed at it (the voice clip alone is awful) // The bosses in the first game are just awful, and actively boring // The final boss of the first game is a ‘run away from it’ thief fight, which deserves additional mention as being awful
  • Aggregate: General issues with precision on controls for harder challenges // Many of the minigames just aren’t fun, or worse, are irritating // 100%ing the game can become a chore rather than enjoyable, with too many specific collectibles being aggravating to acquire // Scorch was a generally terrible boss fight (Forced invuln, forced lock on making shots miss, can only shoot in an 8 axis, many adds which also get in the way of having to stand stock still to aim, and weapons take priority over each other with no way to select between them)

Fire Emblem Three Houses

This is an unfinished run as of now, since it only covered one of the paths. This will be updated in the future to showcase if and when we do other paths. So the branch we did was the Black Eagles route, and it… didn’t really impress me on the story axis. While several characters were interesting and engaging (and I ended up caring about quite a few), the overall plot was just sort of there, and the world building was very lacking. On the plus side this might legitimately be the funnest gameplay I’ve ever gotten out of a Fire Emblem game, with lots of fun maps, good unit variety, good customization, good HUD and convenience features, and elsewise. If you’re a fan of the franchise or of the genre, definitely recommended.
Total Story Score: -2
Total Gameplay Score: +6
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 8 Days // 59 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-3-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The auto-advance, manual advance, rewind, and replay options in text are a great convenience feature
  • The Support Conversations are as awesome as usual, containing the best story content in the game
  • The characters are interesting and endearing
  • The characterization in support conversations is good stuff
  • And a second plus for characters in general

Story Negatives:

  • Characters are seemingly one note, but it’s okay they get developed in support conversations… which are locked behind an awful grind wall
  • Jeralt’s death was just… badly done in about 6 different ways (a minor wound kills, no attempt to heal, no attempt at recovery, sudden interference of diabolos ex machina, was broadcast way in advance, no attempt to rewind again) and it destroys any impact the scene should have had
  • Needless drama in refusing to explain one’s self or actually act like a human being (far too common to list individual examples)
  • Cutscene incompetence
  • The timeskip is just dumb… it’s badly handled, unnecessarily long, nothing has changed, poorly explained, and poorly presented (especially on Edelgard’s line)
  • The Edelgard story is lackluster at best, and actively simple at worst. A lack of complexity, consequence, logic, or development
  • Aggregate: I’m not going to list every incident but… there are so many issues with the second half of the game. The massive disconnect between the monastery and combat, the war stalling for years (and being resolved in months), conquering entire nations in two battles, being told literally incorrect information in narration, referencing events or introducing characters never expounded upon, Rhea’s ridiculous descent into moustache-twirling villainy, etc

Gameplay Positives:

  • Generally good HUD with decent at-a-glance info, toggleable visibility danger areas, health bars, who hasn’t gone yet, movable area, attackable area, usual Fire Emblem stuff
  • Garreg Mach Monastery has a lot of legitimately good HUD features showing who you’ve talked to and haven’t, who has quests, where everyone is, activities, faction, and fast travel
  • Difficulty is an option, and perma-death is a separate option
  • Multiple camera modes and animation options for combat
  • The animations are surprisingly fluid in combat, with good transition in and out of zoom, and helping flow tremendously
  • The Divine Pulse mechanic and ease of use, being able to see every action on the turn wheel, and being able to rewind X number of times (depending on how far into the game you are)
  • Hits a good balance point of specialization between characters and what they can be
  • The aggro lines are a great new feature, showing who will target what next turn
  • The adjunct system to allow you to ‘bring’ more than the party limit and ‘carry’ weaker party members to catch them up
  • The customization of builds is good (Abilities, equipment, proficiencies, and passives)
  • General excellence in the complexity of combat

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Music repetition and lack of variety in battle and town
  • A second negative for the music problem, as well as music direction issues
  • Grinding supports just sucks, especially given how much good stuff is locked behind it
  • The walkthroughitis involved in getting support conversations, recruitment, and most importantly unlocking Paralogues is as awful as usual
  • Aggregate: Various interface issues, such as; takes too many clicks to reach menu options // Lack of proper information of what you want at relevant screens // Lack of proper information on what you need to recruit // Lack of information on students who are not actively in your team

Judgement

This is a game I’d probably recommend picking up on sale. It’s got a very good first half, and a pretty lackluster second half, and the combat is just not as interesting as previous Yakuza games. I also found the side quests lacking, and the general whimsical value just didn’t hit the same sweet spot. Overall a pretty disappointing outing.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: -3
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 6 Days // 35 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-9-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Double effort in translation with proper localization, and subtitles that are more literal
  • Voice acting is good (with one big exception)
  • Doodad placement and design of the layout is fantastic, really makes the city feel real
  • There is a great level of detail put into cutscenes (taking shoes off for the mat, alcohol in drinks tilting properly, etc.)
  • Appropriately well constructed mystery for the first half of the game
  • Good pacing for the first half of the game
  • Several times it legitimately made me laugh
  • Game manages to stay low-tier and down-to-earth without losing impact or tension for the first half of the game
  • The Princess Peach section where we play as ourselves from the past was great
  • Genda is a delightful, interesting, complex character
  • Multiple support characters are quite good, including but not limited to; Saori, Kaito, Kashida, Hamura, and Ayabe

Story Negatives:

  • The entire sequence with Kaito and Adachi doesn’t work for various reasons (poorly constructed, fake drama, and no voice acting despite main quest mandatory)
  • Way, way, way too heavy handed and repeated emphasis on the ‘seemingly unconnected events’ of the incident that pushed Yagami out of practicing law
  • Yagami’s ‘meeting’ with Mafuyu is poorly constructed, but doubly worse because he somehow doesn’t recognize someone he’s known for years because she has a wig on
  • A bit too much unnecessary repeating and padding of dialogue
  • The chapter 9 is padding, with stupidity of characters, artificial drama, misdirection, which all combines in the story (which has already reached a natural conclusion point) dragging out unnecessarily
  • The pacing in the latter half of the game falls off completely
  • Construction of the mystery in the latter half of the game becomes simplistic to the point of insulting
  • Yagami’s voice acting is actively bad, which is especially egregious in an otherwise well acted game
  • Yagami is just a little bit too much edgy punk for me, to the point where I kind of despise him
  • Aggregate: Several weirdly off-key moments, including but not limited to; not quite nailing the humor, and silly side quests having nothing to do with anything (deflating their punch)

Gameplay Positives:

  • The escort quest (of all things) with Mufuyu was actually fun; She healed us, gave us EX charges, varied encounters, lots of weapons to use, and proper checkpointing
  • The last boss is actually really, really fun (as is the earlier fight with him)… it is properly dynamic, he has lots of counter attacks, there’s a huge variety of attacks, good visual cues, good opening windows, and no reliance on long invulns or other bad boss designs
  • Good New Game Plus is, as always, a positive
  • Aggregate: Difficulty is toggleable on the fly // Toggleable sprint instead of hold-down // Optional dialogue is skippable

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Blur! An untoggleable blur! Headache inducing blur
  • The pixel-hunting point-and-click sections are a bit much, a bit limited, and a bit bleh
  • Tailing missions just suck. They’re time consuming, they like to try and trap you with gotcha mechanics, aren’t completely binary but if you do get caught you start all over, and are just padding
  • A second negative for the repetitive and repeating tailing missions
  • Third negative for tailing (bad, boring, irritating, frustrating, time wasting)
  • Autosave is actively badly designed, failing at its core design (helping to prevent loss from crashes or issues)
  • Aggregate: Button mashing to get up in combat (regular problem) // Key mechanic, aka remembering each key when opening doors // QTEs as filler

Folklore

While the score isn’t great, it’s worth noting this was actually a pretty fun game until the latter end of it. If not for the issues with mandatory motion controls and a few boss fights, this would be a net positive game. It’s quirky and interesting and worth a look if you can get ahold of a copy.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: -2
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 16 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-21-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The story, intentionally or otherwise, is delightfully cheesy

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Achievements to upgrade enemies is a neat option and fairly non grindy
  • Surprisingly large number of convenience features, in warping straight to events, doing quests without backtracking, etc.
  • The entire premise of the game (defeating enemies, capturing them, and using them as your combat) is enjoyable and pretty cool

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Mandatory motion controls
  • A second negative for the motion controls (the ‘shakey’ one physically hurts to do, is a huge waste of time, and can literally break a controller)
  • The Brigantia boss is just terrible. It has large windows of invulnerability regularly, is hard to aim at, requires you to hit a specific part of the boss with specific weapons that are short range, and goes into full random mode, and has way too much health
  • The Faery Lord boss fight is awful. He moves too quickly and (combined with auto aiming issues) means you can’t hit him while moving; when he stops moving he immediately attacks, his attacks are very quick and generally involve just getting hit to hit him, his attacks almost all knockdown or stun you, he has two trash mobs (one designed for area denial and one for constant rushing charge attacks) and they give nothing on death, if they both are killed the trash respawns, he has no visible healthbar which is further exacerbated by the fact that you can’t tell if you’re doing damage to him, and finally there is a mandatory trash fight with irritating and health-spongey trash leading up to him
  • The final boss fight is… not good. The first half is actually pretty good, but the second half is pure arduousness. The final phase has way (way way way) too much health and can hit you for a huge amount of your health with each shot. There is a large amount of visual chaos going on which chugs the framerate and makes it difficult to see attacks coming, and he has an absolutely insane ‘rip souls out’ sequence at the end of all of it

Final Fantasy 14 Shadowbringers

While it didn’t do much I could fairly judge gameplay wise, this is easily the best story FFXIV has had to date. I cannot praise it enough, very much glad I ended up pushing through this one, and hugely recommended to any fans of Final Fantasy, MMOs, or FFXIV in particular.
Total Story Score: +14
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Cheats: No (my friends are my power!)
Total Play Time: 6 Days // 46 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-27-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The voice acting is good to great, with good nuance and presentation
  • A second positive to excellent voice acting, even for relatively minor characters
  • There is a lot of effort to evoke tone and substance in multiple cutscenes and background. Vauthry and his room, the well meaning people in Eulmore, the reality and on-camera transformation of a sin-eater, etc.
  • Very good visual distinction of zones, giving good atmosphere and biome variety
  • Ardbert is easily one of the best characters in the entire game. He has a great arc, nuance, complexities, and a great voice actor
  • A second positive for Ardbert and his amazingness (and final send-off)
  • Sufficient effort was put into making the culture and society of the various Fae, which is just great
  • Seeing the Fae just wreck the Eulmore idiots was very satisfying
  • The attack on Crystarium was very well done, and gets across a powerful narrative point (singular focus of power), had a great scene with Ardbert, and a very emotionally powerful scene with Lyna
  • The scene with Emet and Ardbert at the Ladder was great. Powerful, foreshadowy, well written, well acted, and moving
  • Emet-Selch is nuanced, layered, well voice acted, well written
  • Emet-Selch has a lot of presence in the game and is well animated, adding to his character tremendously
  • Emet-Selch continues to be high quality, in fact getting even better later on, has a wonderful send off, and is one of the best villains in the FF series
  • Vauthry, his backstory, his enforced echo chamber existence, his horrible father, and his voice actor are all lovely
  • So many of the various smaller and semi-recurring NPCs are surprisingly interesting and grow on you (Dulia and her husband comes to mind immediately)
  • The Amaurot culture is immensely fascinating, and for how brief it’s shown, clearly a lot of work was done in designing it
  • A very well done presentation of the ‘people uniting’ trope, especially the main party (actually feeling like a party for arguably the first time in the game)

Story Negatives:

  • Ran’jit… every scene he was in just dragged the scenes down for me
  • Ran’jit… is too good at everything, seemingly changes his tone repeatedly, drinks the koolaid too much, is without explanation just better than you, is super awesome, and so on and so on
  • Aggregate: Seemingly arbitrary time dilation between the First and the Source without a good reason for it (especially given the plot convenience) which is made worse by // The fact that the Scions seemingly have only been here for a few weeks despite saying they’ve been here literally years // And of course, they have… pretty lackluster reactions to seeing us for the first time in, supposedly, years

Gameplay Positives:

  • Aggregate: Improved quality of life changes including but not limited to; new interface for synthesizing, quest altitude indicators, retrying on overmelds, linking party finder directly from chat, removing ability bloat, etc.
  • While not super awesome, there were enough good songs to warrant a music plus

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Only doing the MSQ will result in running into leveling walls
  • The Ran’jit fights are just awful; boring, slow, cheats, and reductive