Classics 3


Ori And The Blind Forest

While the game has some substantial flaws (excessive bloom, cinematic camera during gameplay sequences, and trial-and-error gameplay) this is still a good game that was very fun to play through, that I highly recommend for any fans of Metroidvanias or precision platformers in general.
Total Story Score: +6
Total Gameplay Score: +5
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-6-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Animation is very top notch, both in cutscenes and in gameplay
  • Art design is phenomenal, with very well designed areas and entities
  • Direction in general for the cutscenes is fantastic
  • Music direction is perfectly keyed to suit the story presentation
  • The escape sequences in general are very well designed, with great music and intensity
  • The feels are real, both in the intro and the outro

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Music in general is good, and segues nicely into other songs as you move
  • Bash is a fascinating tool for both maneuvering and combat and is well used in puzzle and enemy design (also good audio cue)
  • Looping level design ties into the usual Metroidvania style of slowly expanding playable area
  • Pacing is good in controlling types of levels and challenges you face, with good ‘breather’ segments usually just after getting a power up
  • The controls are responsive, fluid, and precise
  • There are many very fun jumping challenges throughout
  • The additional challenges of the new Definitive area are very fun and well designed
  • The Forlorn Ruins were really, really fun and I loved the gravity altering mechanic for the level
  • Dash, and grenade are fun additions that add good mobility

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The Ginso tree escape was pretty badly designed gameplay wise, with unclear hurtboxes on the water, very low margin of error, no checkpoints, and worst of all rubberbanding
  • The Horu escape is also pretty badly designed, with very low margin of error, no checkpoints across a huge section, and heavy reliance on memorization
  • Bloom is way too high, to the point where (at sections) it’s legitimately hard to see properly
  • Aggregate: Heavy requirement of minimalized error in jumps a bit too often // The Forlorn Escape was heavily reliant upon memorization // Issues with visibility in the Mount Horu // Cutscenes are pseudo unskippable

Jak and Daxter

We played the PS4 version. While not outstanding, this was still a fun game (marred by some frustrations with the camera… frequently) and I can see why the series and the developer took off after this. Probably one of the better collectathons of the era.
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 9 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-9-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Camera direction and usage (cartoon)
  • Animation in cutscenes is legitimately top notch, even now
  • Voice acting is quite good overall

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Guidance and direction in level design
  • General platforming is decent but aided by the quick respawns, frequent checkpoints, and lack of any real lives system which gives good pacing
  • Sound design is surprisingly good, especially in helping the player figure things out if they’re ‘stuck’
  • Visual distinction on interactables and color coordination on types of power ups

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The camera is just bad, bad, bad and consistently in the way of performing and enjoying the game
  • The camera also has an awful tendency of focusing on entirely the wrong thing, requiring either blind jumps or just getting hit or dying
  • Aggregate: The void escape isn’t that bad but it’s pretty badly designed (camera focuses on everything but the platforms and the characters, very little margin of error, no checkpoints) // If you die in a certain spot in the underwater area you respawn in completely the wrong area, requiring a game restart // Unskippable cutscenes

Phantasy Star

Well this is an odd one. Solid, but dated, this game is actually quite good… for the time. A lot of things that could have been bad or negatives weren’t, but there wasn’t much pulling it up, resulting in what seems like a neutral score, but honestly I’d recommend giving it a go. There’s some fun stuff here. To be clear, we played the Sega Ages version.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Cheats: Yes (walkthrough)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-14-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The pause menu and the spell lists, item lists, equipment lists and who can equip what, what they do, and how much they cost / what strength they are being built into the game is pretty nice
  • Aggregate: Automap helps tremendously with this type of dungeon design // Animations / enemy designs // The option to play with the ‘ages’ version or original is good // Several generally good design decisions throughout

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Aggregate: Dungeon song (short loop, very repetitive) // Excessive button mashing to get through text boxes (opening chests, doors, etc.) // Severely limited inventory size compounded by… // …key items you can’t remove taking up inventory space // No real indicators of where to use the ice digger

Grandia Remaster

First and foremost; if you have any kind of motion sickness, be warned. This game made me legitimately nauseated constantly and I had to take dramamine to push through it. Aside from that, it has a cool leveling system but is lackluster in most elements of gameplay, but is bolstered by a good story that remains solid throughout disc 1… and tapers off in disc 2. Recommended if you can stomach it.
Total Story Score: +9
Total Gameplay Score: -5
Cheats: Yes (walkthrough)
Total Play Time: 5 Days // 33 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-28-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Camera usage and general cinematography is quite good
  • Doodad utilization and detail is great, especially in towns and indoors
  • Great back and forth of party members to NPCs
  • Lindblum Effect is great, with tons of NPCs and lots of dialogue and fleshing out of a living world
  • Character spritework and animation is good
  • Sue is really adorable and a treat
  • Sue’s sendoff is wonderfully heartfelt and sad, and helps show the direction the story is taking
  • World building is all over the place (in a good way)
  • Portraits are good but the way they add tone and expression is great
  • Dining / camping sequences are a fantastic way to have the characters talk with each other, cover recent events, and develop story
  • Justin & Feena grow together surprisingly well over the course of the game, and their dynamic is good stuff
  • Disc 1 is actually really good (pacing, tone, theme, tightness of storytelling and self cohesion)

Story Negatives:

  • The entire Pakon, kidnapping, forced-into-marriage thing is bad in its own right but its entirely played off for laughs (and honestly there’s a lot of ‘here’s some horrible thing, but it’s okay cuz it’s a joke!’ going on… and honestly a lot of the game just sort of brushes off horrible things as ‘it’s a joke’)
  • Inconsistent tone shifts between silly zany fun (falling from a cliff with no issue, ha ha they’re going to sacrifice us, ha ha it’s the zany military trio) and well reasoned and logical (Sue is too young to adventure regularly, cohesive world building, end of the world threat)
  • Aggregate: The five minute retirement feels exceptionally off, especially since literally the next scene is the ‘we’re all with you’s cene // Mullen’s VA actively ruins every scene he’s in, most egregiously during Leen’s death

Gameplay Positives:

  • Spell and weapon combo abilities are decent, but what really helps sell them is the variety of abilities and subsequent paths to power progression
  • Sound design is good for the time and pretty varied
  • Aggregate: Auto-battle is decent // Stat ups upon raising weapon and magic skills which encourages spreading out leveling without enforcing it // Music is pretty good // Decent enemy variety across zones

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The game’s approach to camera (most noticeably in combat) is actually nauseating, giving me and several viewers issues
  • Sadly the sheer quantity of combat necessitates a second negative for nausea and headache inducing camera in combat
  • Combat voice clip spam is pretty bad
  • Unskippable cutscenes
  • Some of the songs are actively awful, with far too short of loops and far too little music
  • There’s little delays in many actions in the game; between talking, selecting actions, animations, all of which contribute to a ‘drag’ on the game which makes it feel like it’s taking longer than it really is and makes the whole experience start to just… drag after a while
  • The Outro is pretty lackluster. The final dungeon is pretty boring, but made worse by disinteresting visuals, actively bad music, and many… many enemy encounters smashing you in the face, plus two bland boss fights (admittedly the final Baal fight was actually pretty good)
  • Aggregate: “Encounter rate” is honestly just too high, especially on disc 2 // The Warp dungeon is… not good, with confusing one-directional inconsistent doors, irritating encounters, and having to backtrack out (like most dungeons)

Grand Theft Auto 4

You probably don’t need my opinion here, but in case you haven’t played it, I do still think this game is worth at least a once through.. especially with the expansions done right after. The Rockstar team really shines when it comes to storytelling for this game and it’s probably the best designed GTA to date… in story. But good lord, playing through it is just a chore, an aggravation, or both.
Total Story Score: +26
Total Gameplay Score: -6
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 6 Days // 50 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-5-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • IV: Niko is a surprisingly simple and complex person at the same time, and is probably my second favorite GTA protagonist ever
  • IV: Roman is… easily my favorite GTA character to-date, wonderfully human, flawed, enthusiastic, voiced, presented, everything
  • IV: Voice acting is top notch
  • IV: Motion capture animation is great as usual
  • IV: Foreshadowing / Babylon 5 Effect is extensive, with entire scenes taking on a whole new light the second time around
  • IV: Attention to detail in the city really helps fill it out and add to the feeling of being in a real city
  • IV: Doodad utilization is fantastic everywhere
  • IV: Pretty much the entire intro sequence just has absolutely fantastic storytelling and writing, teasing just enough while still having human conversations that sound natural and avoiding spoiling things early on
  • IV: The dialogue is some of the best written in the entire franchise, bar none
  • IV: The usual radio and satire plus for humor
  • IV: There’s a lot of detail and humor built into the websites, of which there are many
  • IV: The entire Vlad arc and how it showcases Roman, Niko, and begins the events of (really) the entire rest of the game is just poetry
  • IV: The final Broker mission, the reality crashing down on Roman and Niko, their dynamic, Roman’s voice acting, it’s just poetry
  • IV: Little Jacob is a total bro, Brucie is surprisingly enjoyable, and Dwayne is relatable
  • IV: Dimitri and Mikhail have surprisingly good dynamic and a ton of density to their relationship while they’re on camera
  • IV: Interconnectivity within this game is really tight, with the threads logically connecting everywhere
  • IV: The big mission where you go after Bernie and confront him is just poetry gold. The way Niko reacts, the way Bernie reacts, the astonishing amount of characterization Bernie gets in just one scene, Roman being there with him despite everything, it’s just great
  • IV: Packie is standout by himself but there’s also tons of great supporting characters
  • IV: The climax mission (no not Deal / Revenge, Darko) is just absolutely amazing in how powerful it is, how emotionally core it is to one of the game’s main themes, to Niko, to Roman… just, incredibly powerful, and the choice itself feels impactful
  • TLaTD: Animation / Mocap is, as per the vanilla game, quite excellent and really helps sell the characters (Ashley is a standout example of really well done animation)
  • TLaTD: Voice acting is excellent as per standard
  • TLaTD: The core plot of the downfall of the Lost and Johnny’s descent is really well done, for however depressing it is it remains powerful and well crafted
  • TLaTD: There are many interesting, varied, and well done characters in Lost
  • TLaTD: Johnny himself is a great protagonist, who manages to really sell the knight in shining armor thing while remaining level headed and also a pushover who tries his best but screws up and is a generally well done three dimensional tragic figure
  • TLaTD: Connectivity between this and the other two games is good, and the pacing of the plot is excellent
  • BoGT: Animation and motion capture are, as usual, excellent (special props to Tony’s)
  • BoGT: Voice acting is, once again, fantastic
  • BoGT: Connectivity and continuity usage are good, arguably at their best here as this one most clearly ties all three together
  • BoGT: Luis is surprisingly interesting when actually analyzed, and despite his generally straight-man attitude he is engaging to play as, especially alongside the contrasting Tony
  • BoGT: Yusuf is entertaining and a bro and just great whenever he’s on screen
  • BoGT: The extra context and fleshing out of side characters helps overall (Bulgarin, Brucie)

Story Negatives:

  • IV: The money gameplay / story segregation
  • IV: The post-Roman kidnapping up to about when Darko and Bernie re-enter the narrative part of the game is honestly just bloated and vaguely disinteresting
  • IV: Plenty of incidents of cutscene incompetence (almost always ‘hey let’s stare at them while they slowly get away’)
  • IV: The endings… don’t feel like they earned it at all. Both are horribad because tragedy but the build up, moment, and payoff doesn’t work in both cases. Plus there’s a lot of unpolished nature to them and they just didn’t feel like they had any impact other than brute force shock value
  • Aggregate: TLaTD: Improper connections with Jim, Johnny, and Ray // BoGT: Armando and Henrique // Luis just sort of survives the end game somehow via plot armor

Gameplay Positives:

  • A: Custom radio station as well as new options to make it more radio’y
  • A: Surprisingly decent fast travel system (hail a cab, take a trip there, take a fast trip there, take an instant trip there, go anywhere you’ve discovered including mission points)
  • A: Aggregate: GPS // Micro improvements (better health, better guns, better air design, less frustration, driver AI and pedestrian AI improvements) // Different banter on replay // City design and layout
  • TLaTD: Aggregate: Formation driving and related bonuses // Terry being available basically whenever for resupply // The ‘calling for backup’ mechanic which also levels them // Comrades not being garbage
  • TLaTD: Mid mission checkpoints // Call bike functionality // Pacing // Grip improvements
  • TLaTD: Mission design is much tighter and better designed overall, to the point of having variety and enjoyment in missions
  • BoGT: Mission replay, smart dialogue skipping, mid mission checkpoint design
  • BoGT: Substantially better mission design in general and better variety

Gameplay Negatives:

  • A: The car controls are just not good, and the bike controls are actively awful
  • A: The controls remain irritating throughout a 50+ hour game
  • IV: Poor coding
  • IV: Excessive and very railroaded tutorializing
  • IV: Hard crash issues
  • IV: Frequent bugs which legitimately inhibit gameplay rather than just being quirky or cosmetic
  • IV: No mid-mission checkpoints combined with long missions
  • IV: Samey ‘go here kill this’ mission design combined with ‘go here and have a shootout’ mission design
  • IV: The fat and padding of the middleish section of the game is real
  • IV: Lack of music in mid mission
  • IV: It’s way too easy to accidentally, permanently skip dialogue and cutscenes and there’s no real method to re-watch or re-listen
  • IV: Outro missions are… astonishingly badly written
  • IV: The missions themselves are entirely too railroaded, to the point where they actually become boring (have to just ‘follow calmly’ during a ‘high speed chase’ kind of deal)
  • TLaTD & BoGT: Lack of music in mid mission

Dragon Age Origins

While the game wasn’t as good as I remembered, the fact is it’s still one of the best games I’ve ever had the fortune of reviewing. Absolutely incredible story design and legitimately fun gameplay with some issues and flaws that drag it down, but ultimately still managing to be a game where I feel like my choices actually have significant impact on events and I feel very invested in how things progress. It was a treat replaying this one, flaws and all.
Total Story Score: +40
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: Yes (to respec, to test, and to fix a bug)
Total Play Time: 8 Days // 49 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-22-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The opening cinematic does a lot, good, and in a short period of time. The basis of the mythos and the background threat we face, the hints of what the Grey Wardens are (whispers), the golems and the dwarven armies, and the fact that our enemies have complex armor and weapons all helps establish things very quickly, smoothed over by Duncan’s excellent narration
  • Voice acting is excellent throughout
  • Voice acting continues to be awesome even for minor characters (also good voice direction)
  • The codex… has so, so, so much lore in it
  • The way the setting is built around magic and the Chantry is frankly fascinating and some awesome world building construction
  • Dwarven society is legitimately fascinating in how its structured, how it utilizes (and mis-uses) the castes, and how screwed they really are while relying on those they abuse the most
  • Dwarven Commoner Origin by itself is very well done, very well written, has great exposition and good gameplay and story segments while simultaneously showcasing a lot of the setup, characters, and world
  • Human Noble is well crafted, and crucially is integral to the overall narrative in tying you directly towards the main plot and the Loghain plot
  • Dwarf Noble intro is fantastic, with great insight into Dwarven culture, politics, and setting up several good character bits for later
  • Doodad usage and attention to detail are just excellent
  • The game manages to make me laugh even to this day, many times
  • The game has legitimately branching narrative and allows a surprisingly large number of permutations of how the story can go
  • Banter between characters is excellent
  • The Fade is a good insight into the characters, and the Tower itself is (mostly) a reasonably done section of the game with good elements
  • The Dalish quest in general is interesting and well done, with a reasonably well done twist, but the ‘best’ ending is great, the ‘kill the elves’ ending is appropriately horrible, and the ‘kill the werewolves’ ending is just as messed up
  • The NPCs in general are fun, well acted, and memorable
  • A second plus for the sheer quantity of quality NPCs
  • The Harromont vs. Bhelen decision itself is probably one of the better decisions in the game, and the entire Orzammar section is pure gold and has lots of interesting quests, lore, character moments, reactions, options, and paths
  • The non-question of the Darkspawn propagation (deliberately unaddressed in the narrative) served wonderfully to build up to the reveal of what Broodmothers are and how they work, and is incredibly, beautifully horrific
  • The entire section to procure the ashes, the Gauntlet, the Spirit of Regret, there’s some good character stuff there and some good world building too
  • The escape sequence in Denerim has some real comedy gold in it and is well designed story wise regardless
  • The Landsmeet is a fun culmination quest, with a lot of permutations on how it can function and turn out, depending on how its designed
  • The lead up to and initial strikes against Denerim are awesome, and Alistair’s big speech is a fantastic moment that still gives me chills
  • Choices actually matter
  • The Outro in general is just as epic and fulfilling as it should be, depending on how it’s played (either the funeral if you die, or talking to everyone and seeing the end/continuation of their arcs)
  • The Epilogue is arguably the best Bioware ending ever done in my opinion and does a lot (a lot) to acknowledge your choices throughout the game, even if most of it is effectively retconned by future games
  • The romance options in general are fairly well designed with just about some of the best romance quests and companions in gaming
  • Morrigan and Alistair’s romance options gain a second positive for sheer quality and quantity
  • Alistair is the lovable snarker who hides a deeply insecure man who desperately wants a family to call his own, something he’s never had before. His voice actor is amazing and his character is fantastic
  • Morrigan is one of my favorite companions across gaming, a woman torn between harsh pragmatism and internal idealism and forced to choose between intangible and tangible. She has many layers to her, and seeing the reality of the woman so utterly lost by something as simple as being given a gift with no desire for something in return is telling
  • Claudia Black really deserves special praise for elevating Morrigan so. Her voice acting is top notch, and she adds incredible nuance and tone to lines that, otherwise, would probably be substantially lacking
  • Zevran is a great, amusing character who hides the pain and grief he carries with him, his coping mechanisms forcing him to adapt as he goes while secretly hating himself. His romance is also one of the better ones as it pries open his shell and shows the broken man within
  • Duncan, despite having relatively little screen time in the main game, gets a good showing in each Origin and serves as a great grounding point for several elements of the game, and is enjoyable regardless
  • Wynne is a bit naggy but ultimately just trying to do her best with the limited time she has to impart upon those after her, and she’s a genuinely caring person who’s been around the bin many times
  • Leliana and her sordid past, her desperate desire to be more, and her constant worrying about what her true nature is are all excellent
  • Sten is probably my second favorite Qunari across the franchise, being seemingly coarse and rude but ultimately just being very blunt and basic in his approach. He’s the perfect type of soldier, one who questions you because he needs to know you’re doing things the right way for the right reason
  • Oghren is not as great as the other characters, but there is still a fascinating tale in his backstory. The incredibly skilled warrior (he survived the Deep Roads by himself for weeks!) who was forced to come home and adapt to civilian life, a task he failed miserably at because he didn’t know how to handle himself, who then lost his entire family and his wife to obsession. His turning to drink to wash over all that is understandably tragic
  • Shale isn’t as in depth or as fascinating as the other characters, but she does have the HK-47 factor going for her; she’s hysterical, and makes me laugh to this day
  • Loghain is surprisingly complex of a character, especially on repeat viewings, and you can see a lot of what he does and why through his eyes and see how things make sense in his twisted way of thinking
  • Aggregate: Some Babylon 5 Effect (notably with Loghain) // Little hints and details of the various Origins creep up in the story even if it’s not yours // The Architect, while not having much screen time, is a fascinating and interesting character and the source of tons of debate about his purpose and methods
  • Awakening: The rulership and Keep mechanics add some wonderful flavor and enjoyment to the element of being landed
  • Awakening: Party banter is, once again, great
  • Awakening: The main companions aren’t as fleshed out as Origins’ but they’re still good, and still enjoyable characters for the most part
  • Awakening: The core plot is actually quite fascinating, and the idea of so upsetting the status quo with talking Darkspawn (and Darkspawn factions) is a well unveiled mystery
  • Awakening: Voice acting is the usual high quality standard
  • Witch Hunt: The setup and dangling threads are well done and presented and, honestly, are super engaging. The lack of follow through is not this game’s fault

Story Negatives:

  • The City Elf Origin… is too much. The way sexual violence is portrayed is not well done and honestly has issues with edgier for edgier sakes, artificially stupid evilness (which the player can be a part of), and general squick
  • The fact that the party is not all present is a personal irritation but even ignoring how much I don’t like that (and missing out on personality, characterization, and banter) there’s also the fact that they’re effectively just hanging out at the camp doing nothing while we’re off trying to save the country
  • Anora’s voice acting is probably one of the worst in the whole game, but it really shows when you hear her ‘big epic speech’ prior to Denerim which juuust fails, laughably so
  • Aggregate: The lack of knowledge as the method of story construction // Ostagar, while epic and with a lot of good stuff, still sort of contrasts and contradicts several key character and plot points that the rest of the game posits // The Origins, really, don’t have anything to do with the rest of the game and are unsatisfactorily brought back up in almost every case // The fact that the game is so incredibly limiting in how Loghain can survive the Landsmeet is just aggravating
  • Awakening: The game has aggressively bad continuity with DA:O with regards to importing (and while this is for behind the scenes reasons that is understandable, it still makes the story suffer substantially for me, especially going into Awakening immediately after DA:O)
  • Awakening: Oghren… is just not Oghren in Awakening, and moreover he’s just crude humor

Gameplay Positives:

  • Multitude of dialogue options allowing for the player to vary up their personality significantly
  • Smart autosave (zone lines and plot areas)
  • Toolset was released by the developers, meaning mod support
  • All Roads Lead To Rome gameplay design
  • In addition to this, there is a degree of branching quest design at several levels (especially because of the whole ‘supposed to be standalone’)
  • The Mage Origin, while doing some good stuff story wise, really shines gameplay wise (tutorial, ‘town’ section, dungeon section) and has good events, escalation, presentation, and pacing throughout
  • Dwarven Noble Origin has some good general gameplay design, with multiple optional sections, multiple paths you can take through segments (Trian being a big one), and good pacing in terms of types of encounters (‘town’, combat, town, dungeon, etc.)
  • Proper and well fleshed out difficulty options (changes many, many things including the literal AI scripts the enemy run)
  • A second positive for just incredibly work and effort done into proper difficulty modes
  • The core concept of the Fade ‘dungeon’ is actually pretty interesting and, honestly, fun. The different forms having their own specialities and abilities and using them to progress through a series of pseudo mazes is pretty fun…
  • Mages are actually quite well designed, with good kit and variety of options and lots of fun spells, plus the combination system where you can combine spells for greater or different effects
  • The Cauthrian fight is one of the better designed fights in the game, and is probably one of the best ‘supposed to lose’ fights I can think of in RPGs. It is defeatable, but if you don’t it’s followed by the Escape sequence where the game gives you the option of trying to sneak out, or try to sneak/talk/break in with party members of your choice, putting how to progress through it entirely in the player’s hands depending on setup, preferences, or elsewise
  • The Landsmeet is great in how many paths and methods it can progress, and the quests and lead up, and finally the fact that you can lose fully and still progress is generally good design
  • Choices actually freaking matter (at least for this game)
  • A second plus for, within the game of Origins, a huge amount of branching choices that are significant alterations and also really making the player feel like their choices, their decisions, have a substantial impact on the world (this is of course excluding the sequels)
  • Enemy variety and design is pretty decent, with a large number of enemy types that require different strategies and usually have things designed to work with the terrain they’re found in
  • The random encounters on the overworld are good, manually crafted encounters that don’t overstay their welcome and usually are involved in one quest or another
  • The Outro was quite good, with fun design for Denerim, the tower, and the final boss (ballista, summoning adds depending on your choices, nameds, putting a vendor in the final area to do a final restock and resupply, splitting the party between sides)
  • Aggregate: Dialogue log for missed conversations // Ability to change difficulty on the fly at will // Ability to enable or disable blood splatter // Gambits and related benefit to customizing your party and how they operate
  • Aggregate: Spell combos are neat if not properly fleshed out // Kit from traps, potions, and poisons // Gold design is actually pretty good, where you have plenty of things to spend your gold on and how much gold you have is all about how thorough you are in exploring and looting
  • Awakening: Several quality of life changes that help flesh out things (stamina potions, the bank, respec books, bombs, enchanting which is incredibly useful, etc.)
  • Awakening: I love the choices and actions of being a ruler, and each choice you make has impacts and results throughout the expansion
  • Awakening: Quest structure and flow is good except for main quests
  • Awakening: Kit is better overall than in Origins, mostly because of being added to

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Memory leak (per request; A memory leak is, in very simple terms, when the active memory the game generates to help it load things doesn’t get ‘cleaned out’ regularly like it should, leading to it storing more and more and more until it effects game performance and slows things down to a slog)
  • Spiders (complex issue, but in short, there are very very few games that deliberately try to make their spiders as horrifyingly realistic as possible and this is one of them, and given the commonality of arachnophobia and the relative ease with which a toggle to just alter them would be–as evidenced by the no spiders mods–this ultimately detracts from the game by effectively forcing some players, such as myself, to download a mod to play the game at all)
  • Audio balancing issues with music (it’s either too quiet or too loud)
  • The combination of lack of respec, the fact that the game is not particularly well balanced, and the ability to build yourself into a corner either in terms of capacity or playstyle (general fun factor), and the fact that you don’t really feel how your class plays until hours and hours into the game leads to… a negative
  • The lack of gambits functioning for the unit you’re controlling which leads to deadsticking which is irritating for the melee builds and, on top of that, the toggle already exists in game to turn gambits off but universally does not apply to whomever you are currently controlling
  • …the Fade, to continue from earlier, is a good idea badly implemented. While I did legitimately enjoy several aspects of it (forming the Positive up above) the fact is the initial section sucks, it’s unnecessarily harsh (especially on harder difficulties), the backtracking is real, the whole section is a bit too long for having to endure boring terrain, visual effects (which can be turned off admittedly), and music… and all of that is compounded by the fact that you don’t start off with the forms necessary to progress and, frankly, have fun
  • Rep system and connected problems with rep being tied to dialogue and gifts, the inability to bring all party members to conversations, major events having no rep impact if the characters weren’t present, rep gating abilities and content, etc.
  • While the gameplay of carefully planning out encounters can and is fun, especially with proper difficulty options, there’s just a few too many encounters across the game to the point where it gets old after a while
  • Bugs. Several bad bugs and several hard crash bugs.
  • There are several songs that I actively dislike in this game, made worse by the fact that they’re the most common songs that play
  • Aggregate: There are several elements of Amgarrak which are just irritating to push through, especially given how easy it is to be completely screwed build wise // The final Archdemon defense encounter of the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC is just awful, with entirely too much relying on RNG and not actual skill, plus the encounters leading up to it are honestly just one long boring slog
  • Aggregate: Lockpicking is just kind of not well designed in this game, with so much of the loot being trash and then the occasional great loot, and hardly any significant quest or non loot usage for it // Various bugs and crash issues // The limited nature of Loghain and how to procure him which, among other things, pretty much guarantees his build is crap by the time you get him (especially compared to Alistair)
  • Awakening: Bugs. Game breaking bugs, quest skipping bugs, possible-to-skip-conversation-and-quest bugs.
  • Awakening: The problem is the game sort of needs to be played in a certain fashion, or ‘broken’ by recruiting someone (Sigrun or Velanna) and then abandoning their quest in order to have real time with them
  • Awakening: Memory Leak 2.0
  • Awakening: The Outro to Awakening was, at best, more of the same and ultimately just devolved into another series of fights against the same types of enemies we’d fought to that point