Familiar


Spyro 1

Basic, but still good. Worth a playthrough if you enjoy collectathons or 3D platformers in general.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +9
Total Gameplay Score: +6
Golden Number: 32.13
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 9.29 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-23-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: While short, the opening cinematic and initial interactions get you into the mood, tone, and vibe of the game instantly
  2. Humor: While not really a game filled with jokes, the overall light atmosphere really adds a humorous flavor to things
  3. Voice Acting: Generally good voice acting for all the various dragons
  4. Brickwork: Artisan’s World, the delightful fresh medieval greenery and lighting is quite well done
  5. Character: The individual characters of the dragons you rescue are one note, but still add some delightful flavor to things
  6. Brickwork: The Peace Keepers World continues the visual variety, keeping things fresh and popping
  7. Brickwork: Continued visual excellence in the Magic Crafter world
  8. Brickwork: Dream Weavers probably best overall personifies the fairy tale aspect of Spyro 1
  9. Animation: Clear effort was put into making the dragons distinctly animated
  10. Spritework: Enemy variety and character

Story Negatives:

  1. Outro: Even for a platformer, that ending was pretty lacking

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Guidance and Flow: The ability to use the dragonfly to guide you towards missing gems is a godsend in a game like this and frankly deserves…
  2. Guidance and Flow: …two positives
  3. Interface: The built-in interface showing you exactly what you’re missing per level (which also has a separate hotkey just for it) is similarly a great QoL feature and gets…
  4. Interface: …two positives
  5. Yoshi Drums: The dynamic music option is quite nice
  6. Music: Generally enjoyable music
  7. Intro: The Intro does everything it needs to to explain how to play the game without a tutorial box, but on top of that offers said tutorials in the form of (skippable) dragon dialogue, earning it two…
  8. Intro: …positives
  9. Level: Special mention to the Artisan levels in general for smooth flow and design and…
  10. Tutorialization: …good tutorialization
  11. Fast Travel: The fast travel system of being able to warp between worlds and levels more or less on the fly and at will is honestly really good…
  12. Fast Travel: …and earns two positives
  13. Level: The Peace Keepers world is where secrets start to get more interesting, and level flow starts to be more a part of the process…
  14. Level: …and overall generally interesting level design, enemy design, and layout
  15. Level: High Caves is probably the single best level to-date, really using the mechanics that have been established to this point and doing something with them
  16. Level: The Magic Crafters levels in general are pretty decent, though in some cases fall a bit flat of the earlier Peace Keepers one
  17. Level: Beast Makers isn’t quite as good as the previous levels but still has some fun platforming and decent secret design
  18. Control: The game, despite controller issues, does still play very fluidly and smoothly
  19. Level: Lofty Castle is one of the other better designed levels to-date, great flow and great secret usage and general fun of platforming
  20. Level: While shorter, there’s some sufficiently tight design in the Gnorc levels
  21. Level: The final level’s usage of no-height-loss gliding and layering access to higher shelves to access more of the level is actually quite clever

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Options: Lack of rebinding controls
  2. Level: Sunny Flight is a bit too tight and entirely too irritating to 100%
  3. Level: High Top… yeah no. I’ll only ding it once cuz most of it is ‘fine’, but the rest of it can go straight to hell
  4. Level: Haunted Towers has a precise secret… which is fine but the controls just don’t support that, which even that I might forgive if not for the massive red herring which is along the secret’s path
  5. Bug: Load times
  6. Bug: Framerate issues
  7. Boss: Generally lackluster boss design
  8. Enemy Design: Those damned thieves…
  9. QoL: …their damned laugh…
  10. Core Combat: …and the fact that you have to stop to attack them, during a car race
  11. Outro: Screw that outro. Screw it hard. It’s a chase followed by a chase followed by a chase followed by a chase (no exaggeration). It’s also very easy to screw up, is unclear in what you should do, and, very much worst of all, absolutely no mid mission checkpoints. I’d be willing to make this a one negative situation if not for that lack of checkpointing, but having to do the two thieves again every single screw up is absolutely ridiculous…
  12. Outro: …earning it…
  13. Outro: …three negatives
  14. Level: The final level’s total lack of checkpoints drags it down a fair bit (oh and the damned thieves)
  15. Camera: Unfortunately I do have to ding the camera, as it just gets in the way as it almost always does. Not as bad as most games, but it’s still there

Spyro 2

So, worth a playthrough, but honestly while it tried a lot of new things, it also failed at a lot of new things. Be warned, 100%ing this one is a lot less pleasant than 1.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Golden Number: 7.42
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 12.08 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-25-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Internal Continuity: Each world does a weirdly good, if small, job of keeping itself relatively consistent with its own recurring issues and contestants
  2. Animation: As with before, good animation on the characters
  3. Storytelling Mechanics: The little intro and outro tidbits are at least occasionally amusing
  4. Brickwork: A general brickwork positive for the Summer and Autumn worlds combined
  5. Voice Acting: As with before, it’s pretty decent
  6. Character: The ‘main’ characters are weirdly weak, but the NPCs across the worlds have enough flavor and fun to them to qualify
  7. Spritework: The usual standard for the remaster

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Hunter is… just irritating
  2. Atmosphere: Kid’s show mentality. It’s all over the place and it honestly takes away from the narrative
  3. Cutscenes: Related to the kid’s show thing earlier… I honestly want to ding every cutscene in the game, but we’ll be nice and simply call them all bad

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Guidance and Flow: The ability to use the dragonfly to guide you towards missing gems is a godsend in a game like this and frankly deserves…
  2. Guidance and Flow: …two positives
  3. Interface: The built-in interface showing you exactly what you’re missing per level (which also has a separate hotkey just for it) is similarly a great QoL feature and gets…
  4. Interface: …two positives
  5. Yoshi Drums: The dynamic music option is quite nice
  6. Level: A general aggregate double positive for the Summer Forest worlds…
  7. Level: …for there is some good stuff spread throughout
  8. Level: A general aggregate for the X worlds
  9. Fast Travel: The fast travel system of being able to warp between worlds and levels more or less on the fly and at will is honestly really good…
  10. Fast Travel: …and earns two positives
  11. Control: Issues aside, the game continues to play quite smoothly
  12. Intro: Overall a decent enough Intro to qualify for a positive
  13. Levels: A general aggregate positive for the Autumn Plains worlds. They’re not terrible, but they’re noticeably lacking compared to Spyro 1 levels and earlier stages thanks to irritations in backtracking and a lack of cohesive flow or design to them, plus they feel entirely too cloistered
  14. Levels: So then there’s the Winter Tundra levels. There’s some creative ideas here (Metropolis, Canyon Speedway) but then there’s… other issues

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Options: Lack of rebinding controls
  2. Camera: Camera continues to have the same issues as before
  3. Minigame: The ice hockey minigame is sluggish, you can’t jump, there’s no sprint, the controls suck, and there’s too much randomness built into it
  4. Minigames: A bonus aggregate negative for all the irritating minigames in the Summer Forest World
  5. Minigame: TrOuBlE wItH tHe TrOlLeY, eH? But seriously screw this minigame. It’s janky to begin with thanks to being 3D forced crudely into 2D…
  6. Mid-Mission Checkpoint: …but also the total lack of mid mission checkpoints and the actual mockery each time you fail (which you can’t skip) drives into double territory
  7. Minigames: The Autumn Plains minigames are a mixed bag but mostly can suck a lemon
  8. Backtracking: The game’s insistence upon being incapable of finishing a world the first time you go in sucks on several levels. Backtracking is a small issue, really (thanks to the fast travel), but the fact that you can’t be sure if you’ve finished a level or if you have to solve a puzzle is aggravating at best
  9. Level: Okay so Fracture Hills has the worst escort in the game. He’s slow, the enemies are easy to miss, they have tons of range and perfect tracking, if they hit him at all it’s a total failure, he takes a long and winding route, and the whole thing mega sucks…
  10. Level: …earning it two negatives
  11. Backtracking: What pushes it up to technically three negatives is the fact that you get access to this before you have access to the power up required for the second part of the quest. This means if you do this when you’re here (and NOTHING indicates you shouldn’t) you’ll have to do the escort again later just to do the final step
  12. Level: The Winter Tundra world levels have several irritating or frustrating segments and, honestly, feel a bit rushed… but if I had to earn this negative, it’d go to the high-speed blind-run segment of Robotica Farms
  13. Outro: Bad camera, RNG on Hunter, frustrating controls, irritating tendencies to screw you over thanks to collision or placement…
  14. Outro: …leading to two negatives

Spyro 3

A very good game surrounded by a total lack of polish. Still absolutely worth a playthrough and arguably the best of the original trilogy.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +8
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Golden Number: 32.54
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 16.95 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-29-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Character: Sparx’s unique voice acting is the most adorable thing in the whole game
  2. Humor: Holy crap, the game got an actual laugh out of me with the Sgt. Bird cutscene
  3. Character: Bianca is… just so adorable. She has so, so little of an idea of how to be evil, and she’s trying so hard
  4. Cutscenes: So this is technically an aggregate for all the times they beat the crap out of Moneybags
  5. Character: Speaking of which, Moneybags is substantially better and more interesting this time around
  6. Brickwork: So the brickwork is similar to 2’s, but still generally decent
  7. Animations: The animations in cutscenes are quite good
  8. Spritework: Despite some issues, the spritework is still good
  9. Voice Acting: And similarly, voice acting

Story Negatives:

  1. Animations: The ‘canned’ dragon baby animations are far too few for how many you have to get (nevermind 100%ing)… compare and contrast the completely unique dragon animations in the remake of 1

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Guidance and Flow: The ability to use the dragonfly to guide you towards missing gems is a godsend in a game like this and frankly deserves…
  2. Guidance and Flow: …two positives
  3. Interface: The built-in interface showing you exactly what you’re missing per level (which also has a separate hotkey just for it) is similarly a great QoL feature and gets…
  4. Interface: …two positives
  5. Yoshi Drums: The dynamic music option is quite nice
  6. Fast Travel: The fast travel system of being able to warp between worlds and levels more or less on the fly and at will is honestly really good…
  7. Fast Travel: …and earns two positives
  8. Level: Sunny Villa is a surprisingly well designed level; good indicators, good draws, good flow, good exploration
  9. Level: This is further emphasized over in Sheila’s Alp where we get to play as the aforementioned Sheila and the additional control precision and verticality are well utilized
  10. Kit: Sheila herself plays quite well, and is a good contrast to Spyro himself; Being primarily slower and higher than his low speed approach
  11. Kit: Then there’s the sarge, who controls deceptively well, with good and intuitive movement and more rapid horizontal reach than you’d think at first glance
  12. Level: General level positive for the rest of Sunrise Spring World
  13. Level: Sgt. Byrd’s Base is another good example of good level design, appropriate for the newcomer, and is a good way to introduce his concepts while still keeping the flow of the game moving smoothly
  14. Level: The Icy Peak and Enchanted Towers levels both have issues and frustrations, but overall still some good design
  15. Level: Spooky Swamp and Bamboo Terrace have some decent overall design
  16. Level: Bentley’s Outpost is simple, but very fun for what it is
  17. Level: The Fireworks Factory is honestly one of the better laid out and designed levels… with one big exception
  18. Level: Charmed Ridge and Dino Mines continue to have good level design
  19. Level: Crystal Islands, irritation aside, is still good stuff
  20. Level: A final general positive for some of the more unique and interesting levels (the Sparx levels, some individual challenges, etc.)
  21. Controls: With some notable exceptions, game continues to control well
  22. Intro: Usual decent Intro
  23. Hub: For the first time I actually like the hub worlds, and so grant them all a positive

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Level: The Country Speedway race is total bullcrap. Between inconsistent hitboxes, rockets that straight up rely on RNG to even hit (and occasionally do nothing), and being entirely overtuned, the whole thing is just frustration central…
  2. Level: …earning two negatives
  3. Minigame: Escorting the fireflies can suck a lemon. There’s no clear indicator of their pathing, there’s a total logic disconnect in the entire concept which just pisses you off after a bit, but the worst part and the reason this can go straight to hell is you have to stomp on the mushrooms… but the mushrooms have inconsistent collision boxes which makes you have to literally jump differently to get on top of them, and a mushroom pops back up after a period of time, during which they can’t be re-flattened, meaning you have to time it properly for the double back sections, on top of the delay before being able to stomp again…
  4. Minigame: …earning it a full…
  5. Minigame: …three negatives
  6. Level: Lost Fleet is disorienting, badly visually distinguished, has disorienting flow, and has the ‘one way’ problem in design too much
  7. Minigame: The boxing minigame on the snow level is really just honestly bad. It’s just rock paper scissors, but with inconsistent timing, bad frame windows, and AWFUL controls
  8. Level: Harbor Speedway isn’t as bad as Country, but it has the same general issues
  9. Boss: The double dragons in Fireworks Factory can go burn
  10. Minigame: I’m going to give another generic minigame negative almost entirely for the controls. So many of these minigames either have awful controls, or they’re inverted or reverse of what they are in ‘normal’ play, and there is no fixing or rebinding this
  11. Options: Lack of rebinding controls
  12. Visual Distinction: Similar to 2, the remake of 3 honestly gets color and visual distinction… wrong. It’s actually hard to tell what you’re looking at in many cases
  13. Minigame: The final final race is the same usual overtuned RNG garbage…
  14. Bugs: …but what really makes it awful is the fact that the race track is REALLY buggy. Like, I can’t describe the sheer quantity of bugs here but there are so, so many and they’re just on this one level…
  15. Bugs: …so badly so I’m willing to bake all other bugs and this into two negatives

Devil May Cry 1

I imagine the score will raise some hackles, but it’s easy to see why this game took off the way it did. Good fundamentals and the bones of a good game, marred by production issues, changing priorities, and having no idea what they were doing. Still something I recommend you play through at least once.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: -4
Total Gameplay Score: -5
Golden Number: -18.14
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 7.32 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-08-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: While cheesy and ridiculous, the Intro establishes both tone and several points well (most notably his aversion to damage)
  2. Moment: Weirdly good reveal of Virgil and his connection to Dante after the final Angelo fight
  3. Doodad: For a game with this bad of brickwork, I’m honestly impressed with the doodad usage throughout (helps that so much of the game occurs in the castle)
  4. Moment: So bad it’s good… because your dark soul is filled with LIIIIGHT

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Or rather, lack thereof. Mundus, Dante, and Trish are non characters at best
  2. Pacing: So the game has the most lurching narrative. It starts, stalls for literal hours, then rushes so fast through plot points that character arcs occur across literal minutes
  3. Moment: The Trish turns scene is… bad. Not cheesy bad, just bad
  4. Plot: So the plot is… Mundus is evil. Even for cheese this is not a strong point
  5. Voice Direction: I’m going to put this under direction because the voice acting is … yeah… it’s very early Capcom voice acting
  6. Outro: So, uhm, what? I honestly can’t even put into words what the hell was going on with that Outro. Rather than being cheesy or ridiculous, it fails to step over that line and instead remains firmly in the territory of just plain awkward
  7. Writing: The overall writing in this game is… just not great
  8. Brickwork: I don’t want to be too mean on an early PS2 game but the brickwork in this game is pretty bad even for the time. Hope you like murky browns and greys

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Tutorialization: First room. It does so much right it’d take too long to type it all up here
  2. Intro: The Intro is honestly the strongest part of the game, with the aforementioned tutorialization and good usage of… honestly everything to help you get into the game proper
  3. Camera: Manually crafted camera to help with…
  4. Guidance and Flow: …exploration and guidance
  5. Music: The actual music in the game is, of course, legit
  6. Level: Stage 2 has a few stumbles but I love how it escalates and continues the tutorialized setup and style
  7. Boss: The first Nelo Angelo fight is simple, but still quite good
  8. Kit: Ifrit. It has good combos, it can be charged manually (per hit!), and it seeks beautifully giving it more range than you’d think for a big heavy hitter like it
  9. Boss: The various Phantom fights are neat, fun, simple, but enjoyable
  10. Boss: The second Angelo fight is equally tight and well designed and, most importantly, fun
  11. Boss: And yes, the final Angelo fight continues the trend of good boss design
  12. NG+: There is a bit of a basic, but still existent, new game plus
  13. Enemy: Generally decent enemy design and variety
  14. Replayability: I mean, of course it’s replayable

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Design: Audio balancing issues
  2. Camera: Hahaha… yeah…
  3. Camera: …the camera is fine for some segments, but absolutely awful for others, and legitimately terrible for boss fights
  4. Controls: The game controls very stiffly and has many issues
  5. Music: Ambient music is… boring, repetitive, but most importantly of all it just grates on me
  6. Map: Wow that map is… not super great
  7. Level: Sooo level 5… yeah screw that walkthroughitis noise
  8. Difficulty Options: So… you can unlock ‘easy automatic’ mode which does NOT say it’s easy mode, but has accessibility options (most notably easing the pain of squeezing the right trigger to fire) but also…
  9. Difficulty Options: …forces you (for the rest of that playthrough) into easy mode, which is lazy difficulty
  10. Boss: The final Griffon fight is kind of awful, with camera that works against you, attacks that are more irritating than challenging to dodge, and weird tracking issues
  11. Info In Game: While obviously you’re supposed to just try stuff out for yourself, there’s a whole lot of ‘shrug’ with regards to info in game
  12. Graphics: Nauseating mirror/hell world graphics and distortion
  13. Boss: The final Nightmare fight is honestly the worst fight in the game. Cramped arena, having to target something without being able to, bad collision, bad hit boxes, camera issues, no real dodge or other ability to bypass mechanics, just irritation top to bottom…
  14. Boss: …leading to two negatives
  15. Outro: So all three of the final bosses really suck in their own ways. We have the worst possible control scheme for the ‘easy to die’ phase 1, the irritating ‘shoot it with bad camera’ phase 2, and the timed fight of ‘phase 3’. All of them suck…
  16. Outro: …earning them two negatives, but then…
  17. Outro: …there’s that last screw you with the escape sequence (both of them)
  18. Difficulty Curve: The difficulty curve is… absolutely all over the place, and irritating throughout
  19. Walkthroughitis: Yeah there’s several moments of ‘now what do I do?’ and, worse, the game lets you roam ‘out of level’ while in a level so… very easy to get lost (occasionally)

Devil May Cry 2

This game is trash. It’s understandable why it’s trash, I feel bad for the people who worked on it, and my heart goes out to them. The final result is, weirdly, astonishingly good given the limitations put upon it. But the end result is still the worst game I’ve reviewed to date. Do not play.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: -29
Total Gameplay Score: -63
Golden Number: -309.4
Cheats: Yes (For the Lucia playthrough)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-09-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: So that intro cutscene… sucks. It’s bland, Dante is non existent, the voice acting is barely there, the animation is bad, the storyboarding is barely… it’s just off
  2. Plot: There is a violent absence of plot
  3. Character: Dante is legitimately completely out of character here
  4. Dialogue: And his dialogue is especially bad, even by this series’ standards
  5. External Continuity: I don’t think I need to explain this negative
  6. Brickwork: The game is so devoid and absent it’s bothersome… in fact it’s…
  7. Brickwork: …worthy of…
  8. Brickwork: …three negatives
  9. Brickwork: Okay so normally I only give three positives or negatives to brickwork per ‘biome’ or ’tileset’. Thing is, you really have to understand this; this entire game is one tileset (the friggin’ city) and it’s SO monotonous and SO awful that it deserves, uniquely…
  10. Brickwork: …an additional…
  11. Brickwork: …three negatives
  12. Doodads: There’s no detail, no nuance, no fleshing out of anything…
  13. Doodads: …earning…
  14. Doodads: …three negatives
  15. Voice Acting: What little is there is not great
  16. Story Sequencing: Things just… happen, disjointedly, from one moment to the next. We’re racing up a skyscraper, why? Who knows, but now we’re at the bottom again! This never gets better (arguably gets worse)…
  17. Story Sequencing: …earning it…
  18. Story Sequencing: …three negatives
  19. Visual Continuity: Areas have so little connection to each other that they aggressively don’t make sense, which could’ve worked if they earned it but they super did not
  20. Cutscene: I… legitimately have no idea what’s going on in some of these cutscenes. Such as the one after the fight with Arius, which conveys absolutely no real information and is legitimately confusing…
  21. Cutscene: …earning two negatives
  22. Camera: The dutch angle is NOT a good angle to use in general but especially to over-use
  23. Atmosphere: The game’s overall atmosphere… isn’t, and it actively detracts from things
  24. Camera: Bad camerawork in cutscenes
  25. Story Sequencing: Lucia’s sequencing is, somehow, even worse! Sometimes you literally just teleport to a new area, no transition or explanation
  26. Outro: The Dante ending is bad, bad, bad, bad… years and years later I remember it as one of the least satisfying, worst endings I’ve seen. It reminds me of the ending of Ride To Hell Retribution, and that’s saying something…
  27. Outro: …earning it…
  28. Outro: …a full three negatives
  29. Pacing: The pacing of this is just absolutely all over the place

Gameplay Positives:

  1. NG+: There is… in fact… a new game plus
  2. Guidance and Flow: Usage of red orbs to indicate required direction (as well as camera swoops)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Intro: This isn’t the worst Intro I’ve ever played, but it is up there. Long boring corridors, long boring fight sequences, no setpieces, no tutorialization, no design at all…
  2. Intro: …leading to two negatives
  3. Level: Stage 2 and its lack of indicators and awful samey corridor design
  4. Level: Stage 3 and its lack of indicators and its unbalanced timing crap
  5. Boss: Jokatgulm is… so many levels of awful. Tentacles respawn too fast, the whole thing has too much health, attacks too frequently, camera gets in the way, and even ignoring all the aggravations the boss is just plain boring…
  6. Boss: …leading to two negatives
  7. Level: Stage 4 continues the wonderful trend of awful with big empty swaths of nothing, already repeat boss fights, the stupid tanks…
  8. Boss: …and that damned infested helicopter, which is only not worse because the first THREE encounters with it are optional (not that anything indicates this though)…
  9. Boss: …giving that damned helicopter two negatives
  10. Level: Stage 9 and its stupid ‘literally use the mechanics in a bad way to avoid the game’s mechanics’ in order to progress bullcrap
  11. Level: Then Stage 10 starts in with ‘find the pixel’ amidst camera and dark and brown
  12. Boss: Mothra. It’s an add fight where the adds can spawn quickly, eat you quickly, take out HUGE chunks of your health, are difficult to dodge due to reliance on ranged weapons and animation locking, and keep spawning until you kill the thing they’re in the way of, all while the cameraman is completely drunk. This is the worst fight so far in this game…
  13. Boss: …earning…
  14. Boss: …three negatives
  15. Boss: The Guardian non-fight is even worse than Mothra fight, good lord. It’s so bad I’m not sure I can explain it properly. You’re in the inside of a sphere which is constantly moving and if you get too far away from the middle you take a lot of damage, while four floating enemies are after you, and you have to destroy these diamond things. There’s no feedback, no shadows, no depth perception, the enemies respawn infinitely, they also ‘eat’ your targeting to prevent you from aiming properly, the whole thing is…
  16. Boss: …SO, so bad…
  17. Boss: …no words I give can describe it
  18. Camera: Special bonus negative for the camera just for that one fight, as it is legitimately nauseating and cannot keep up with the terrain shifting constantly like that
  19. Controls: Special bonus negative for the controls actively fighting against you during said fight
  20. Boss: Arius (first fight) is the definition of a non boss
  21. Level: Mission 14 is already boring (go find the things in a huge empty city) but add onto that infinitely respawning enemies, no real direction, camera trickery, and dutch angles and you’ve got a recipe…
  22. Level: …for two negatives
  23. Level: Mission 15 is… just… what? It’s a ‘kill the enemies under a timer’ but boring
  24. Level: Then there’s mission 16. Confusing corridors with vague visuals and boring fetch questing
  25. Boss: Theeen there’s Trismagia. This dude is approaching an actual boss fight with variable attacks, but there’s very little feedback on what’s what and the targeting issue returns once again
  26. Boss: Arius is honestly even worse than last time, being a non boss plus targeting issues plus adds (which is like half the bosses in this game honestly)
  27. Encounter Density: Far too many padding fights
  28. Encounter Design: There is none
  29. Enemy Design: It’s… not there
  30. Enemy Variety: It’s… there
  31. Kit: An absence of kit makes for unfun gameplay
  32. Viscerality: Anti viscerality, that’s what we’re here for. Fails on all three points
  33. Controls: The game doesn’t control super great
  34. Camera: Bad in general
  35. Camera: Nausea inducing
  36. Audio Spam: So I’ve actually heard worse, but usually that worse is for individual moments or bosses or levels, here it’s just a nonstop barrage of noise from everything (mostly the guns, in a game that emphasizes using guns) so…
  37. Audio Spam: …a full…
  38. Audio Spam: …three negatives
  39. Music: Boring and repetitive
  40. Map: The map is about as useful and ‘good’ as the DMC 1 map
  41. Enemy AI: There’s probably worse AI then this, but I can’t think of any right now…
  42. Enemy AI: …earning it…
  43. Enemy AI: …three negatives
  44. Info In Game: Good luck figuring out anything, really, in game
  45. Core Combat: It’s boring
  46. Core Combat: It’s boring
  47. Core Combat: It’s BORING
  48. Itemization: Enemies give too few orbs, and everythings costs entirely too much, AND those upgrades are badly designed…
  49. Itemization: …for…
  50. Itemization: …three negatives
  51. Difficulty Options: Same general options from DMC 1
  52. Difficulty Curve: While understandable why…
  53. Difficulty Curve: …I’m not even sure there is one honestly
  54. Level: So Lucia’s first level is exactly what I want in a DMC level; a big empty boring village with nothing to do, enemies who have no real attack patterns, unclear (or outright absent) directions, and it’s over at a weird point
  55. Boss: The refight with the stupid aquatic boss
  56. Boss: The monkey refight
  57. Control: So the game has this thing where if you fall down, you can do this lengthy flourish when you get up. That’s cool… but it takes forever and you are fully vulnerable the ENTIRE time, so it almost inevitably leads to just getting hit (or knocked down) again
  58. Boss: So Mothra the second time is just as bad…
  59. Boss: …screw that fight
  60. Level: So Lucia’s underwater level sucks with a capital crap. The underwater part itself isn’t actually THAT bad but the navigation above water is just awful
  61. Boss: Then there’s the underwater boss, with terrible camera and the inability to lock on in a game designed around lock on
  62. Boss: The return of the awful, awful tri head boss
  63. Outro: So there’s the final boss fight with Argosax, first form, and it’s just… the worst…
  64. Outro: …earning it…
  65. Outro: …three negatives

Devil May Cry 3

Is it flawed? Absolutely. Is it still one of the best PS2 games out there? Absolutely. Huge recommend.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +28
Total Gameplay Score: +28
Golden Number: 145.53
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 8.4 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-10-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: One of the better Intros in gaming. Silly, serious, tone, animation, acting, presentation, camera, just… everything…
  2. Intro: …earning it…
  3. Intro: …three positives
  4. Atmosphere: In the Intro the game immediately establishes the tone of the work
  5. Cutscene: The end of 1 and beginning of 2 is a great establishing moment for both Virgil and Arkham and just oozes cool factor in addition to shoving exposition down our throats rapid fire
  6. Humor: The game is legitimately funny more than a few times
  7. Character: Dante’s characterization
  8. Character: Dante’s character arc
  9. Character: Vergil is well characterized and just so damned cool
  10. Character: Arkham is honestly probably the best character here, for how monstrously horrible he really is
  11. Character: Lady and her inclusion was a great idea and makes for a great dynamic for the others
  12. Cutscene: Dante and Lady’s first meeting is a great establisher for both but, let’s be real, it’s also well animated, directed, voiced, and is just fun
  13. Voice Acting: The acting chops of each character are top notch
  14. Brickwork: Good brickwork periodically
  15. Visual Storytelling: Surprisingly good visual storytelling in enemy and terrain design
  16. Spritework: Good enemy sprites
  17. Cutscene: The big contest between Vergil and Dante is one of the best scenes in the game and encapsulates so, so much between style and flair and efficiency and animation and character and implication and foreshadowing…
  18. Cutscene: …earning…
  19. Cutscene: …three positives
  20. Cutscene: The ‘running down the tower’ scene is silly fluff, but it’s cool fluff
  21. Cutscene: And, again, the big scene between all four major characters, and the reveal of Arkham
  22. Cutscene: Yeah, the motorcycle bit is pretty cool
  23. Cutscene: The entire Arkham scene is great, but when Vergil shows up and the way the two play off each other perfectly, the way they so clearly know each other’s styles and moves, and the way they both agree to unite against Arkham, is the other ‘best scene in the game’…
  24. Cutscene: …and deserves…
  25. Cutscene: …three positives
  26. Outro: The Outro isn’t the best I’ve seen, but it’s damned good, wrapping things up with all the principle characters in a very satisfying way
  27. Animation: In general, the motion capture is excellent
  28. Plot: The core plot of Arkham and Vergil’s interactions, Dante’s intersection, and Lady’s intervention is actually pretty damned engaging
  29. Story Sequencing: In total contrast to the previous game, events follow each other very neatly and smoothly throughout
  30. Storyboarding: Some of the better storyboarding I’ve seen in gaming in general…
  31. Storyboarding: …earning two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Lindblum Effect: The city feels… not. It feels like a stage, and the total absence of life or movement hurts the work for me
  2. Writing: The Jester fights actively hurt the overall consistency and pacing of the work
  3. Pacing: The story literally just… stops during the retread segment of the game

Gameplay Positives:

  1. NG+: Mission Select is just there, enabled, from the get go, and of course retains all progress…
  2. NG+: …earning two positives
  3. Core Combat: What more do I really need to say here?
  4. Core Combat: Two positives
  5. Controls: Combos and their control being in the hands of the player
  6. Controls: Control fluidity in general
  7. Difficulty Options: Actually changes up enemy AI and moveset
  8. Boss: Cerberus has a neat mechanic (the ice armor and head removal) and a great variety of attacks
  9. Boss: Agni and Rudra have great kit, compliment each other nicely, and I love how there’s actual tactics in fighting them (oh and their parry design is great)…
  10. Boss: …earning two positives
  11. Boss: The first Vergil fight is simple but very well executed, and one of the funner fights to-date…
  12. Boss: …earning it two positives
  13. Boss: Nevan is another of those great fights, seemingly simple but with good escalation and surprisingly good cue design…
  14. Boss: …earning two positives
  15. Boss: Vergil 2 isn’t quite as good as last time, but still a very fun and excellent boss fight
  16. Level: Mission 12 is actually pretty fun, with the gimmick of enemies dropping more health than usual, constant devil trigger, and taking constant chip damage making things fun and interesting
  17. Outro: That final fight with Vergil is, technically, ‘just’ an iteration of his previous two, but it’s improved in every way, and is honestly one of the better fights (visuals, sound design, arena, moveset, music) in the franchise…
  18. Outro: …earning it…
  19. Outro: …three positives
  20. Kit: The Cerberus nunchuck are honestly just awesome, good reach and range with a ton of possible moves and combos…
  21. Kit: …earning it two positives
  22. Kit: Rebellion isn’t the best but it’s still a good sword with a good range
  23. Kit: Agni and Rudra have great priority, speed, chaining, and closing and it’s just very fluid and very fun to use…
  24. Kit: …but more to the point has actual purpose and variety over the other weapons
  25. Kit: Beowulf is a bit less than Ifrit was, but still just as fun
  26. Weapon Swapping: Live swapping in between swings? Yes please
  27. Styles Kit: While locking them in limits this to just one positive, the styles system is pretty legit
  28. Style System: As well as how it varies up how you play across the various weapons
  29. Builds: Just about any combo of weapons and Styles works
  30. Enemy Variety: Obvious
  31. Enemy Design: While not the best, there’s still some good enemy design throughout
  32. Core Mechanic: Style timer and score indicator
  33. Kit: The Vergil playstyle of Yamato is heavily focused on timing, style, and reach and I love it, honestly just as fun as the other two weapons I’m rather fond of…
  34. Kit: …earning it two positives
  35. Minigame: Bloody Palace is an optional grind fest but the differing routes and saved ‘progress’ help
  36. Animation: Pretty much required for a game like this one
  37. Enemy AI: While not the best, it’s tight, responsive, and variable
  38. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Generally good continue system
  39. Music: Naturally there’s some bangers here, ironically mostly the stuff that plays for specific fights or scenes
  40. Replayability: Yeah between the styles and builds and mission select and everything, the game is quite replayable
  41. Viscerality: The sound, the visuals, the presentation of combat in this game is phenomenal…
  42. Viscerality: …earning it two positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Difficulty: Overtuning
  2. Boss: …the placement of Cerberus is arguably wrong. He’s legitimately one of the hardest bosses in the game… and he’s the first boss
  3. Level: The interconnectivity of the earlier tower levels honestly works against it
  4. Enemy Design: Irritating enemies ahoy
  5. Walkthroughitis: There are several ‘now where?’ moments throughout the tower stages
  6. Pacing: The Jester fights aren’t bad, but they’re complete nothing burgers and, worse, make no sense at all and completely destroy the pacing of each level they’re in
  7. Boss: The doppelganger fight honestly sucks. First off it’s boring (lure into area, hit a couple of times, rinse and repeat) and second the resets, total invuln, and long periods of non interactiveness make the whole fight drag
  8. Level: Mission 14 and the padding returns
  9. Level: Mission 15 and the quest for more padding
  10. Padding: The entire later section of the game really serves no purpose other than to drag the game artificially onwards
  11. Boss: The boss refights are back… as if this was a Megaman game or something
  12. Boss: Gigapede is the worst combination of boring and long invuln periods boss design
  13. Boss: The second phase of Arkham should be a Hyperbeam Moment, and instead it just makes it aggravating
  14. Intro: The Intro is… weirdly lacking. The first mission is a fairly boring fight interrupted by pop ups, the second is a difficulty wall, and then we’re smashed into Cerberus

Devil May Cry 4

The smoothness of the excellent controls and kit are marred by disinteresting arenas and enemies, and almost half the game as pointless backtracking. Still good, but definitely flawed.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +12
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Golden Number: 39.22
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.5 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-13-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: This is honestly an even better Intro than 3’s in several ways. It has so many nuanced details, emotional establishment, characterization, movement, animation, choreography, and might be one of the better story beats of the entire game…
  2. Intro: …earning it…
  3. Intro: …three positives
  4. Writing: Bonus positive for the amount of showing not telling in the Intro
  5. MSQ: And a bonus positive for the (optional) tutorial continuing the aforementioned Intro
  6. Cutscene: The scene where Nero is reborn via Yamato is, let’s be honest, just plain legit
  7. Character: Dante is a bit out of character at times, but he’s still Dante
  8. Character: Nero, weirdly enough, gets some of the best characterization in this one
  9. Animation: Excellent usage of animation for the characters throughout
  10. Storyboarding: While it’s a bit too ‘cool for cool’s sakes’, there is still some legitimately good storyboarding going on for the cutscenes…
  11. Storyboarding: …earning two positives
  12. Doodads: Good doodad usage in the city
  13. Brickwork: Best brickwork in the game is early on, in the city
  14. Brickwork: While varied in quality, there is generally good brickwork throughout
  15. Visual Storytelling: Lots of showcasing that tells on display
  16. Voice Acting: Generally good voice acting
  17. Character: Agnus is probably the best character in the game by himself
  18. Cutscenes: Dante’s cutscenes as he gets the Gilgamesh and Pandora are just awesome
  19. Cutscene: Dante and Agnus is the best cutscene in the game for sheer enjoyment. The dialogue is so awful… and so brilliantly presented and showcased, with great usage of camera, music, effects, and voice acting…
  20. Cutscene: …earning it…
  21. Cutscene: …three positives
  22. Spritework: Excellent spritework for enemies and players

Story Negatives:

  1. Pacing: Early game pacing is honestly terrible as the plot just sort of… meanders
  2. Character: Kyrie is such a non character it actually detracts from the narrative. She’s a great idea (a civilian who can’t hang at the level of the mains, but is important nonetheless) but they do nothing with this other than make her a plot coupon
  3. Character: Credo is such a nothingburger, a typical General Leo with nothing to back him up
  4. Cutscene: The scene where the Savior is activated is… REALLY bad, even by this series’ standards. A whole lot of people standing around doing nothing, then suddenly bursting into action, a whole lot of incompetence, and a whole lot of bad dialogue…
  5. Cutscene: …earning it two negatives
  6. Cutscene Incompetence: Except… the opposite. There’s a segregation between gameplay and story in cutscenes that goes above and beyond
  7. Writing: General writing flaws…
  8. Dialogue: …which really drifts into the dialogue especially
  9. Pacing: Good lord that nice big block of meandering as Dante
  10. Outro: For a game that leans so heavily on Nero and Kyrie, that outro sure did suck

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Tutorialization: While hand holdy, the tutorialization is well designed and a good example of tell, demonstrate, repeat
  2. NG+: As per what is now the usual, immediately available mission select…
  3. NG+: …which carries progress across the save
  4. Intro: While there’s better, the Intro does a good job of getting across the basic loops, and has an actually decent boss at the end of it
  5. Core Mechanic: Style indicator, as before
  6. Boss: Ice frog is interesting, has a few tactics that work against it, and is in general just fun
  7. Boss: The Credo fight is, honestly, probably the best boss fight in the game (as usual for the series, it’s the one on one duel) and does a lot right…
  8. Boss: …earning two positives
  9. Difficulty Options: As per 3, the difficulty options do a good job of varying up AI and attack patterns based on your setting…
  10. Core Combat: I mean come on. Of course the game is fun to fight in…
  11. Core Combat: …earning two positives
  12. Enemy Design: Generally decent enemy design
  13. Core Mechanic: Arm and revving as Nero’s primary kit
  14. Kit: Rebellion is, as usual, a well designed weapon
  15. Core Mechanic: The Styles themselves continue to be enjoyable
  16. Kit: And the additional positive for how Styles vary up your gameplay
  17. Core Mechanic: Finally being able to swap Styles on the fly
  18. Music: Some really fun and enjoyable music throughout
  19. Controls: The combos once again being fully in the hands of the player
  20. Controls: And are quite enjoyable to play with in general
  21. Animation: As usual, decent enemy animations for indicators and combat
  22. Enemy AI: The enemy’s AI continues to be enjoyable as it was in 3
  23. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Generally good continue system, though placement is a little wonky at times
  24. Boss: Agnus 2 is the first refight that’s actually fun and worth a damn
  25. Kit: Gilgamesh is, as usual, legit
  26. Kit: General weapons kit
  27. Difficulty Options: Sparda mode is actually quite fun
  28. Viscerality: Not quite as good as 3, but still there
  29. Minigame: Bloody Palace is still a decent minigame
  30. Replayability: Yep, very replayable, as per usual
  31. Kit: Vergil and the Yamato are pretty legit, very well designed, and quite fun
  32. Kit: Trish is exceptionally well designed, her attacks fluidly going in and out of each other as she has great movement and reach…
  33. Kit: …earning her two positives
  34. Kit: Okay, you win game, Lady also gets the same two positives for how unique, fun, and engaging she is to play as…
  35. Kit: …cuz, hell yeah

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Bug: Game was literally unplayable until manually hex editing the EXE file…
  2. Bug: …which is absolutely bonkers
  3. Level: So then there’s the torture room… which is easier than it looks of course, but is TERRIBLY designed to have awful margins of error, inconsistent indicators, and of course the refight every gorramned time you fall…
  4. Level: …leading to two negatives
  5. Guidance: So where do I go next? As with 3, there are portions where you can massively backtrack when you shouldn’t, and the game lets you… for good or ill
  6. Minigame: So the dice… it’s relatively inoffensive, but it’s slow, boring, and almost totally unexplained
  7. Level: The first Forest stage is irritating in general but that stupid segment where if you screw up you start over, hard hitting flying enemies with barrier HP attack you and if you let them fall their barriers regenerate, and if you fall you fight a recurring encounter, sucks…
  8. Level: …earning two negatives
  9. Level: Mission 11 is unnecessarily irritating with its ‘platforming’
  10. Difficulty: The game is heavily balanced around the arm and revving, and its especially bad on boss fights
  11. Enemy Design: There are just several very irritating enemies to fight
  12. MTX: Paid DLC cheats… ‘nuff said
  13. Level: The retreat through the HQ level is already irritating (and backtracking!) but the flashing lights are just awful eye cancer
  14. Level: Then there’s the backtracking through the forest! Which in addition to backtracking isn’t fun (and the audio cues screw up periodically)
  15. Boss: The Echidna boss refight with Dante is a boss refight with Dante
  16. Level: Forest 2 backtracking is awful, but then you add in the padding trap enemies! Oh and lots of forced encounters
  17. Level: Then there’s the Castle… again…
  18. Boss: Then there’s the frog… again…
  19. Level: Then there’s the lab… again (but worse!)…
  20. Boss: Then there’s Duriel… AGAIN…
  21. Level: Mission 19 is just… awful, between boss refights…
  22. Level: …and the return of that unnecessarily padded dice mechanic
  23. Enemy Variety: Lacking
  24. Encounter Rate: Way too many
  25. Outro: The second to last boss is boring, and commits a lot of sins (rushes back in a melee focused game, while summoning adds, which he respawns instantly, while having trial and error gameplay) and worst of all once you figure out the method to success the fight is just a boring refight…
  26. Outro: …for…
  27. Outro: …three negatives
  28. Outro: And a bonus negative for the final pseudo QTE and the final escort quest

Devil May Cry 5

While not as strong in the story department as 3, this game absolutely stomps in gameplay. Smooth, great combat, great enemies, great encounters, great bosses, great kit, great variety. Also hugely customizable and with lots of mechanics to help new players and challenge vets. Absolutely recommended.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +15
Total Gameplay Score: +65
Golden Number: 208.58
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.04 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-15-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Codex: Good stuff in there, mostly in character, but most importantly…
  2. World Building: …actually providing some real world building finally
  3. Doodads: The doodad utilization in the initial city is legitimately excellent
  4. Brickwork: Similarly the brickwork design in the entire city is just fantastic
  5. Visual Storytelling: And… yeah I’m talking about the city area again
  6. Character: Nero has a few bumbles but he’s still Nero and he’s still the same wholesome, cool kid he has been for a while now
  7. Character: Nico is just a treat every time she’s on the screen
  8. Character: V is, ironically, the best character this time around (just like Arkham and Agnus… huh…) and gets all the best moments, development, and character…
  9. Character: …pushing him to double positive territory
  10. Character: Dante and Vergil bounce off each other well but don’t really move that much this time around
  11. Animation: Motion capture is top notch this time around…
  12. Animation: …earning two positives
  13. External Continuity: While it touches on 1, 2, and 4, this game is a near direct sequel to 3 (and designed to conclude it, though I’m not sure I agree with that)
  14. Banter: Griffin (and the rest) have some great banter with each other
  15. Voice Acting: Everyone is well voice acted and directed this time around
  16. Cutscene: Nico geeking out over meeting Dante is adorable and wholesome…
  17. Cutscene: …and Dante dancing it up with Fauste just clinches it
  18. Cutscene: Okay, it’s all kind of condensed into one scene, but I DO like Nero’s big moment
  19. Outro: The outro stumbles a few times, but it’s good enough to crawl into positive territory… mostly for that excellent scene between Nico and Nero
  20. Babylon 5 Effect: It’s minor, but it’s there, mostly for V
  21. Storyboarding: Excellent storyboarding, though not quite as good as, say, 3’s or 4’s

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: So despite the quality of presentation on display, I actually don’t care for where it starts. It tries (too hard) to establish the stakes and Urizen and it just falls flat with how hard they Worf everyone
  2. Brickwork: The latter half of the game
  3. Brickwork: Honestly the tree levels all kinda suck here
  4. Plot: Failure to capitalize on the ‘mystery’
  5. Character: Nero literally has contradictory character motivations and doesn’t have the time or breathing room it needs to make that work
  6. Plot: The final insistence upon ‘settling things’ is sort of… weirdly misplaced

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Animation: Enemy animations are their usual on-point selves…
  2. Animation: …earning the full…
  3. Animation: …triple positives
  4. Boss: Angelo team
  5. Boss: Artemis
  6. Boss: Cavaliere Angelo and the tutorial on parrying
  7. Boss: Gilgamesh
  8. Boss: Goliath
  9. Boss: Goliath is the end of the Intro but starts boss design off on the right foot
  10. Boss: King Cerberus
  11. Boss: Malphas
  12. Boss: The DMC1 Trio
  13. Boss: Urizen 3
  14. Boss: Vergil 1 is, honestly, just fantastic. Two phases, both massively timing and skill based, both incredibly satisfying…
  15. Boss: …making it one of the best fights in the game
  16. Controls: The game controls like a dream, using all kinds of tricks to allow for the level of precision these games really demand…
  17. Controls: …earning it…
  18. Controls: …three positives
  19. Core Combat: The combat is as fluid and smooth and awesome as it ever has been, in ways I’d fail at describing…
  20. Core Combat: …earning it…
  21. Core Combat: …three positives
  22. Core Mechanic: Dante, Style Switching
  23. Core Mechanic: Loadouts for Dante and Nero
  24. Core Mechanic: Loadouts for Nero and Dante
  25. Difficulty Options: The usual high quality difficulty options (and more selectable this time around too)…
  26. Difficulty Options: …earning two positives
  27. Encounter Design: For one of the first times in the series, thought is put into which enemies should be fought alongside which others
  28. Enemy AI: Enemy AI is, of course, very good (and variable based on difficulty)…
  29. Enemy AI: …for two positives
  30. Enemy Design: For I believe the first time in the franchise, no irritating enemies, just high quality throughout…
  31. Enemy Design: …earning two positives
  32. Enemy Variety: Enemies have a huge variance in how they can be tackled and how they fight…
  33. Enemy Variety: …earning two positives
  34. Kit: Dante, Balrog
  35. Kit: Dante, Gunslinger
  36. Kit: Dante, Rebellion
  37. Kit: Dante, Royal Guard
  38. Kit: Dante, Swordmaster and Trickster
  39. Kit: Dante, general
  40. Kit: Nero Breakers
  41. Kit: Nero Breakers
  42. Kit: Nero, general
  43. Kit: V is seemingly simple but massively complex under the hood, and is just an absolute joy to play as…
  44. Kit: …earning him…
  45. Kit: …three positives by himself
  46. Kit: Vergil
  47. Level: There’s some really good escalation on display, introducing an idea and then expanding upon it, for both Nero and V
  48. Mid-Mission Checkpointing: Pretty good in general, though the rez-through-red-orbs mechanic helps
  49. Minigame: Bloody Palace, timer, and general fun
  50. Minigame: The Void is one of the better ‘training room’ things I’ve seen in gaming. Fully customizable, up and down, for a totally controllable and safe experience in getting used to enemies, animations, timing, moves, etc…
  51. Minigame: …earning it…
  52. Minigame: …three positives
  53. Music: Yeah there’s some legit bangers
  54. NG+: Usual mission selection awesomeness…
  55. NG+: …and usual two positives
  56. Outro: While it’s mostly a victory lap, the final fight against Vergil is legitimately satisfying
  57. Replayability: Between all the additions and modes and, let’s be honest, the high quality of the content, the game gets…
  58. Replayability: …two replayability positives
  59. Tutorialization: The game lets you try out moves straight from the upgrade screen, which is just so good…
  60. Tutorialization: …earning three positives
  61. Tutorialization: …in addition to letting you try it yourself it also gives you exact inputs on how to do it…
  62. Viscerality: Our first triple positive in viscerality as all of your attacks look, sound, and feel just awesome across all the playable characters…
  63. Viscerality: …for the full…
  64. Viscerality: …triple positive
  65. Yoshi Drums: A precedence setter in Yoshi Drums as the songs and their escalations as you rank up are friggin’ awesome in general, but also give you additional encouragement to want to style as much as possible…
  66. Yoshi Drums: …for…
  67. Yoshi Drums: …three positives
  68. Difficulty Curve: The game is generally well curved throughout
  69. Guidance: The red orb usage is back
  70. Intro: Generally good, good escalation and good lead up to Goliath
  71. Song: Pull My Devil Trigger

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. MTX: Same as last time, we have purchasable cheats (among other things)….
  2. MTX: …leading to two negatives
  3. Visual Distinction:
  4. Padding: Mission 14 is, let’s be honest, pure padding (also boss refights!)
  5. Padding: And then there’s Mission 15…
  6. Padding: …and 16…

Cadence of Hyrule

While niche, if you like the music and the style of game, I absolutely recommend giving this one a try. Probably one of the most polished and fun rhythm games I’ve ever played.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +5
Total Gameplay Score: +30
Golden Number: 89.48
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 7.7 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-16-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Absolutely lovely brickwork everywhere
  2. Brickwork/Spritework: Bonus point to both
  3. Spritework: Absolutely gorgeous spritework
  4. Doodads: Lovely doodad usage
  5. Animations: And a bonus point for how everything from terrain to mobs bops to the beat

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Gleeokenspiel
  2. Boss: Gohmaracas
  3. Boss: Wizzroboe
  4. Co-Op: Full proper campaign co-op…
  5. Co-Op: …for two positives
  6. Controls: Controls very tightly (as it has to)
  7. Core Mechanic: The core rhythm mechanic is fantastic, and balances itself nicely on rewarding you for doing it right, punishing you but not too much but not too little for failing, and for paying attention to the movements and beats of all the enemies and projectiles…
  8. Core Mechanic: …earning…
  9. Core Mechanic: …three positives
  10. Enemy Design: Almost every enemy in the game is well designed
  11. Enemy Variety: And they all have a wide variety of how they’ll move, attack, and can be attacked
  12. Fast Travel: Great fast travel system, usable just about anywhere and very quickly (and in combat) after finding the spot, and tons of fast travel nodes…
  13. Fast Travel: …for two positives
  14. Guidance: Usage of little hints for guides (my favorite are the blue butterflies)
  15. HUD: Very tight HUD design, lots of info on display
  16. Intro: While not extensive, a lot is explained in a very short time about what to do and how to play the game
  17. Itemization: Lots of thought going into diamond, rupee, and kit placement
  18. Kit: Generally good Zelda-esque kit
  19. Level: Fire dungeon
  20. Level: Frost dungeon
  21. Level: Frozen lake
  22. Level: Wind Dungeon (neat gimmick, usual fun dungeon crawling)
  23. Map: The map isn’t the best, but it shows a huge amount of information in the legend at a glance
  24. Music: I mean come on, of course the music’s a bop…
  25. Music: …it’s the main reason we’re here
  26. Starting Options: Mutators, and lots of ‘em
  27. Outro: The Ganon fight where you control all three characters simultaneously is quite fun
  28. Overworld: While it’s random, what’s there is good, interesting, and a nice connective tissue and way to progress
  29. Sound Design: Usually good Zelda-esque sound design
  30. Visual Distinction: Easy to discern things at a glance
  31. Viscerality: Surprisingly good viscerality with the hits and the beats
  32. Yoshi Drums: While there’s ‘only’ three layers to each song (menu, peace, combat) they’re VERY well tied into each other, and flow seamlessly…
  33. Yoshi Drums: …earning two positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Early Game: Early game hell
  2. Outro: That last dungeon is just enemy spam HELL
  3. Overworld: Thanks to the random nature of the game, the overworld can just be… whatever

Stardew Valley

Of course it’s a good game and of course I recommend it. The post game is interesting, if too late, and the late game is lacking, and there’s a few tidbits that really could use some polish… plus combat sucks. But despite all that, a hugely positive game, whether you’re interested in the management strategy or just chilling in the valley.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +21
Total Gameplay Score: +31
Golden Number: 109.11
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 11 Days // 50.81 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-29-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animations: Mostly the little cutscene animations, but they’re surprisingly good at expressing mood and tone
  2. Atmosphere: The general vibe and tone of the game speaks for itself really
  3. Background Lore: Surprisingly large amount scattered everywhere, in items, layout, character interactions, etc.
  4. Brickwork: A bonus positive for Summer…
  5. Brickwork: Special mention to the town itself
  6. Brickwork: The game’s visuals are legitimately gorgeous and do a great job of getting you into the setting
  7. Brickwork: …and Winter
  8. Brickwork: …Fall…
  9. Characters: While few characters individually stand out, most are memorable and interesting…
  10. Characters: …for two positives
  11. Cutscenes: The character ‘cutscenes’ are probably the biggest meat of story in the game and deserve their own recognition
  12. Doodads: Do I need to explain this one?
  13. Doodads: Honestly, two positives
  14. Intro: The Intro is pretty strong all things considered, despite Grandpa’s bed
  15. Prime Opt: Most Heart events form the core story of the game and are, generally, good stuff…
  16. Prime Opt: Special mention to some of the better events, notably Shane’s and Abigail’s
  17. Prime Opt: While there’s some variance, there’s some legitimately sweet dialogue and moments for several of the romances
  18. Prime Opt: …worthy of two general positives
  19. Spritework: While not the best, there’s still some good spritework on display here
  20. Visual Storytelling: Hard to summarize as it’s everywhere. What the characters have up in their rooms, how the town is laid out, the different houses, just tons of it
  21. World Building: A surprisingly well fleshed out world behind everything
  22. Sound Design: Decent, if variable in quality, soundscape for areas

Story Negatives:

  1. Prime Opt: Inconsistent quality of character heart stories

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Co-Op: Good, proper, well thought out campaign co-op…
  2. Co-Op: …earning two positives
  3. Controls: Game controls reasonably well for most activities
  4. Core Mechanic: Crop growth time is thought out in relation to…
  5. Core Mechanic: …sales price as well as…
  6. Core Mechanic: …position, size, time, and water consumption (real life factors rather than in game ones)
  7. Core Mechanic: All of this makes for an excellent, in-depth, well fleshed out economy of price, time, energy, and sale…
  8. Core Mechanic: …earning two positives
  9. Guidance: The game does a lot to help keep you roaming and exploring
  10. Difficulty Curve: The game in general is very tightly designed in terms of time and energy costs for most activities, both becoming resources you can spend however you like (with one notable exception)…
  11. Difficulty Curve: …earning two positives
  12. Early Game: The early game has an enormous amount of things you can do and, combined with the aforementioned energy economy, is designed to sort of funnel you into trying things and deciding upon which things you want to do when…
  13. Early Game: …earning two positives
  14. HUD: HUD design is smart, neat, and efficient
  15. Info In Game: About half the info you really need is readily available in game through smart tooltips, mouseovers, and quests
  16. Interface: Generally good interface design
  17. Intro: The game’s intro is a long one (befitting such a long game) but its surprisingly good at what it does. There are birthdays, quests, and events positioned to help get you into what to do, and mechanics are unlocked quickly and readily
  18. Music: While inconsistent, there’s some good music there
  19. Core Mechanic: The reputation mechanic is arguably the most core mechanic in the game, but even from a gameplay perspective it does several things right (indicators of who you’ve talked to and when, gifts, current progress, and of course there’s tangible rewards)
  20. Overworld: The design and layout of the areas and how they connect with one another
  21. Progression Curve: The various ‘leveling’ is one of the better use-it-level-it systems I’ve seen (mostly because of how the game is structured) and so the progression is actually quite tight, unlocking new items and new recipes as you go
  22. QoL: Lots of quality of life features speckled throughout…
  23. QoL: …earning…
  24. QoL: …three positives
  25. Starter Options: Good general starting options
  26. Visual Distinction: Great visual distinction
  27. Mid Game: One of the strongest mid-games I’ve seen, as all the tons upon tons of content from early game really comes into its own (finally) and the door is essentially blown open on what you can do, and yet it perfectly continues to fit the multiple playstyles approach…
  28. Mid Game: …earning it…
  29. Mid Game: …three positives
  30. Core Mechanic: So, Husbandry. It’s not as in depth as the farming, but it’s still clearly well thought out and well designed. Purchasing animals is a huge up front cost (in opposition to seeds) but provides slow, steady, and reliable income and goods, which helps with reputation and money both, and as long as you’re on managing your coop and barn will also be a steady incline in quality, and there’s the usual double layer of processing to help the entire chain too…
  31. Core Mechanic: …this is on top of the variety of animals and their respective products and general visual flair…
  32. Core Mechanic: …earning it three positives
  33. Core Mechanic: Then there’s processing in general, which tends to require specific resources to get going but once you have it set up can improve the value of (almost) any good. This works in general, of course, but adds a necessary layer of complexity to everything…
  34. Core Mechanic: …for two positives
  35. Level: Spring is the perfect tutorial month. Mostly early, quick growing crops available, lots of basic and easy to catch fish, and several events and birthdays peppered
  36. Level: Summer then augments this with even more birthdays (because by this point surely you’ve figured out who’s where), and a nice mixing up of what’s available
  37. Level: Autumn is then fascinating because it’s when some of the more rare seeds and fish become available, and is designed to have less of a rep focus so the player can do what they need to in preparation for…
  38. Level: Winter. Winter is easily the best designed month in the game, perfectly sandwiched between Autumn and the build up, and Spring which becomes payoff. It also encourages the player (in game, not just in design) to branch out and try things other than farming (though you can farm as well), ranching really comes into its own here, but its also a great time to focus on lots of other activities. Consequently it’s also (tied for Summer) the other big ‘rep month’ to really raise people’s reputations…
  39. Level: …and so overall earns itself two positives
  40. Itemization: The traveling fleet and merchant (along with a few other tidbits here and there, mostly during festivals) offer a bit of item coverage to help bridge gaps in seed and item availability
  41. Cosmetics: While there isn’t a super huge range of cosmetics for the characters, there is a fairly large amount…
  42. Cosmetics: …for the layout of the farm itself (and the town, technically). Between different tiles and floors and positioning and farm layouts and buildings and wallpapers and placable items, there’s a good spread to customize things
  43. Guidance: Direction and flow of Ginger Island
  44. Level: Design and slow opening of Ginger Island
  45. Kit: Some cool options and kit in Ginger Island and related areas… though suffers from being available way too late
  46. Replayability: Game is reasonably replayable, at least up to mid game

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Combat: Animation locking
  2. Combat: Frame timing
  3. Combat: Kit and lack thereof
  4. Combat: Reach and lack thereof
  5. Combat: Required for so much of progression
  6. Combat: Straight up boring
  7. Controls: Periodic irritation in controls
  8. Fishing: Can go straight to hell. The bar’s too small, the wait for a nab is too long, and the rate of loss is too high
  9. Info In Game: The game criminally does not indicate a fairly large amount of mechanics within said game
  10. Level: Skull Cavern
  11. Prime Opt: Locking content behind heart events, specifically romance content
  12. Save System: Very, very limited
  13. Traversal: Walking around is… not great
  14. Walkthroughitis: Honestly fishing itself is just the worst in figuring out what to fish when and how
  15. Late Game: Far too many cool things that would’ve been nice to play around with earlier unlock so late that they have FFVII Syndrome; All the neat toys you get so late you can’t enjoy them

Subnautica

While other games have built on the foundations this laid, Subnautica is still a fantastic survival builder and I still hugely recommend it.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +23
Total Gameplay Score: +15
Golden Number: 81.11
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 5 days / 30.77 Hours
Time Reviewed: 02-22-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: A great deal is conveyed very quickly and brilliantly in just a few short minutes. Even if you don’t speak or read the language you can tell the premise
  2. Worldbuilding: It’s scattered throughout but we learn a fair bit about the setting through the voice and data logs
  3. Sound Design: It’s damned rare I praise a game on the story axis for sound but good lord…
  4. Sound Design: …easily deserving two positives
  5. Atmosphere: I mean let’s be honest here, this game absolutely oozes atmosphere from every pour…
  6. Atmosphere: …easily earning two positives
  7. Visual Storytelling: There’s actually not much relatively speaking, but most crash zones, ruins, and lifepods have wonderful visual storytelling
  8. Brickwork: The Shallows is easily one of the best designed zones in the game and it shows. Everything from the color, lighting, proximity to the surface, and low danger areas…
  9. Brickwork: …earning two positives
  10. Brickwork: The Plateaus and Kelp Forests are both pretty
  11. Brickwork: The Mountains, Bulb Zone, and Dunes are too…
  12. Brickwork: …but then you have the really great zones. The Grand Reef is just the right mix of beautiful, vast, and terrifying
  13. Brickwork: The Blood Kelp Zone manages to contain some of the more situationally dangerous enemies, but also look like you’re at the ocean floor, in all the right ways
  14. Brickwork: The Lost River deserves special mention by itself, somehow looking like a beautiful Metroid level while retaining semblance of its own visuals
  15. Brickwork: By itself, the Edge is very appropriately terrifying. Lighting, absence of music, the cliff edge, and of course the Ghost Leviathans
  16. Lighting: The usage of lighting to accent every individual zone is fantastic
  17. Characters: This is a rare one, but Reapers are great on the story axis. They are brilliantly designed to be absolutely terrifying, even when there are other, arguably more dangerous creatures. The way they move, the way they sound, and the way they will absolutely destroy you if allowed to
  18. Music Direction: The usage of music to accent zone and tone is wonderful
  19. Moment: The Sunbeam and its rescue is a very powerful moment, whether you know what’s going on or not
  20. Outro: For all its flaws on the gameplay axis, the Outro is pretty legit
  21. MSQ: The main plot is weirdly engaging, and has some very nice twists and reveals and just generally had me quite into it
  22. Doodads: Hard to see often, but some generally great doodad design throughout
  23. Spritework: Fish! And fauna in general

Story Negatives:

  1. 0

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Tutorial: The game tutorializes most of its basic features within literal minutes of starting the game, and does a good job of it
  2. Intro: The game’s Intro is honestly one of its better segments. The design and build of the Shallows, the distribution of resources, the visual distinction and encouragement to explore, and ready access to three very distinct biomes within just a short swim’s reach, along with clear initial objectives culminating in the exploration of the Aurora
  3. Terrain: Landmark design. I’ve seen better, of course, but the usage of the Aurora as a near universal centering piece which you can see from anywhere in the caldera is brilliant
  4. Lighting: Even in areas where it should be quite dark the lighting design is excellent, you can always see what you ‘should’ be able to see, no matter how deep you go…
  5. Lighting: …earning two positives
  6. Overworld: The manually crafted map by itself deserves its own praises and recognition
  7. Overworld: Absolutely excellent design in overworld layout, itemization, enemy spread, location, etc. to the early game areas…
  8. Overworld: …the mid game areas…
  9. Overworld: …and the terrifying late game areas
  10. Penalty of Failure: Almost every aspect of the game is designed around gradient failure. Dropping some items, a few extra seconds to grasp for breath, the Edge being gradient, the depths being gradient, etc.
  11. Difficulty Curve: Similarly the entire game flows naturally into a smooth difficulty curve thanks to how things escalate
  12. Exploration: Lots and lots and lots of resources and blueprints and things to find everywhere
  13. Core Mechanic: Building is, of course, fun to do and surprisingly intuitive and the game allows for a lot of crazy base building
  14. Visual Distinction: The game is startlingly visually distinct, every biome and type of interactable is quite easy to spot at a glance
  15. Sound Design: You can navigate a huge amount of this game via just sound, as each creature (and area) has a distinct sound and a wonderful soundscape
  16. QoL (mark recipe, battery indicator, haven’t-scanned-yet indicator)
  17. Early Game: Early game isn’t as strong as some games, but it’s still interesting as you slowly expand your range and access
  18. Mid Game: Mid game is super strong in Subnautica. As tools and resources become solved problems, it’s all about efficiently progressing and exploring, and it’s awesome…
  19. Mid Game: …easily earning two positives
  20. Controls: The game controls surprisingly smoothly (on Switch too, not that it matters here)
  21. Kit: The scanner is a seemingly innocuous building that quickly becomes one of the most useful tools in the entire game, easily making the very dynamic of the game change drastically
  22. Enemy Design: In general the enemies are very well designed (with one notable exception) and work very well for the areas they are in
  23. Enemy Design: Reapers. Reapers are, by themselves, brilliantly designed. They are simultaneously easy to spot from a distance and can easily sneak up on you, and they won’t (necessarily) kill you instantly… but they sure can hurt
  24. Enemy Variety: Great enemy variety, given the situation
  25. Visual Continuity: The game does a pretty good job of helping you navigate purely by visuals

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Core Mechanic: Inability to craft from chests which leads to inventory padding
  2. Enemy Design: In a game with really well designed enemies, the exploding fish really suck, especially given the related issue…
  3. Controls: …the swing of the knife. I know this isn’t a combat heavy game but even when using the knife on a plant the hit detection is just wonky
  4. Save System: The save limitations are… weird. You can save state essentially anywhere, but only to one save file, and there’s no auto save to speak of in case something happens (like a crash or having to leave the desk)
  5. Info In Game: Some specifics on how base buildings and tools work isn’t really explained anywhere in game
  6. Core Mechanic: Water drain is just way, way too fast
  7. Bugs: The game is known for its minor hiccup bugs, but then there’s the occasional, easy-to-stumble-into major bugs (like getting your Prawn permanently stuck in the terrain)
  8. Outro: The Outro is… very, very weak. After a near nonstop escalation of gameplay up to and including the late game, the Outro is just… backtracking and building, as if we were in the beginning of the game again, which is already bad, but then there’s…
  9. Outro: …the severe padding which just draaags it down
  10. Inventory: So, limited inventory is fine (good, even) in Early Game… fades a bit in Mid Game… and is actively obnoxious by End Game

Dishonored

While a bit rough around the edges at time, the excellent level design and classic three-path gameplay still holds up. Big recommend.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +6
Total Gameplay Score: +29
Golden Number: 75.48
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 days / 21.7 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-02-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Hub. Also in general. The oil painting aesthetic is brilliantly done…
  2. Brickwork: …easily earning a second positive
  3. Brickwork: House of Pleasure. Contrasting colors, great usage of layout and that particular blend of fancy and rotten
  4. Brickwork: Bridge. Really helps sell the ironpunk aesthetic
  5. Brickwork: Lady Boyle’s Last Party…
  6. Brickwork: …easily one of the best stages in the game, visually too
  7. Doodads: I’ve seen better, but the doodad usage is still very good, especially in a few particular areas (like the hub)
  8. Intro: The Intro is a bit rushed, but the immediacy of it followed by the good pacing of the prison segment flows nicely
  9. Background Storytelling: NPC dialogue is not only interesting to listen to but often informs about the mission you’re on
  10. Character: The Outsider is, easily, the best character in the game. From the eyes to the slightly unnatural movement to the voice acting
  11. Storytelling Mechanic: The heart. Best voice actress in the game, and very informative and interesting info throughout
  12. World Building: We only see snippets of it, but there are multiple peeks into this doomed and decrepit world and it’s very well fleshed out
  13. Visual Storytelling: Lady Boyle’s Last Party
  14. Atmosphere: As much as I hate it, the game oozes the dirty, grimey, awful atmosphere

Story Negatives:

  1. Voice Acting: Honestly there’s several performances which, while not ‘bad’, are noticeably off, and it detracts from several scenes, especially considering…
  2. Foreshadowing: …the way the foreshadowing is handled is clumsy at best and amateur at worst
  3. Writing: There’s several times the game crosses the line in ways that just drag the whole work down
  4. Character: Several of the villains, most notably the Spymaster, are just… morons. They are really stupid and it does not work
  5. Character: Corvo. Silent protagonist does not work here
  6. Outro: The endings… aren’t that interesting, and honestly tie in to another problem…
  7. Storytelling Mechanic: …chaos. The way Chaos is used narratively is disjointed and disconnected, at best, and honestly I think they should have just committed to it not being good/evil, or committed to it being good/evil
  8. Atmosphere: The grimey, dirty, awful atmosphere actively pushes me out of the game

Gameplay Positives:

  1. All Roads Lead to Rome: Lady Boyle’s Last Party
  2. All Roads Lead To Rome: Return to the Tower
  3. All Roads Lead To Rome: The High Overseer level
  4. Intro: While brief, the escape from the prison and sewer sequence are brilliantly constructed to get you into how things operate and how to interact with what, effectively…
  5. Itemization: Generally good spread of ‘currency’ gains and subsequent upgrades and costs
  6. Kit: Abilities, powers, and tools
  7. Kit: Lots of options in how to progress through stages, in the DLC too
  8. Level: Bridge
  9. Level: House Of Pleasure
  10. Level: Lady Boyle’s Last Party
  11. Level: Lady Boyle’s Last Party 2
  12. Level: Return to the Tower
  13. Level: Return to the Tower
  14. Level: The Loyalists
  15. Level: The Loyalists
  16. Outro: The final stage continues to be generally excellent, with lots of options and throughputs
  17. Outro: The ways the final stage can vary are generally excellent and well
  18. Prime Opt: The High Overseer level
  19. Save System: Good saves, autosaves, and quicksaves…
  20. Save System: …for two positives
  21. Terrain: House of Pleasure
  22. Terrain: Return To The Tower
  23. Terrain: The High Overseer level
  24. Terrain: The Loyalists
  25. Tutorial: …tutorializing you on the tools you’ll have at your disposal throughout
  26. DLC Minigames: Optional Challenge maps…
  27. DLC Minigames: …with good variety
  28. DLC Level: Slaughterhouse
  29. DLC Level: The lawyer’s estate
  30. DLC Level: The Dead Eels
  31. DLC All Roads Lead To Rome: The Dead Eels
  32. DLC Level: The Witches level

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Graphics: Depth of Field, Bloom, and other headache-inducing problems
  2. Core Combat: Stealth and non lethal are fun. Front-faced combat is not
  3. Enemy AI: The enemies can be… really… really dumb

Diablo 1

An important game for history and definitely showing some of the early good design decisions that made the series what it is.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: -28
Golden Number: -60.23
Cheats: Yes (Honestly, screw that late game grind)
Total Play Time: 1 days / 7.62 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-23-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: It’s inconsistent, but there’s some decent spritework and visuals to help sell the game
  2. Voice Acting: Exaggerated, but distinct
  3. Atmosphere / Tone: General nightmare tone
  4. Dialogue: Surprisingly well done dialogue, especially in selling the horror of it

Story Negatives:

  1. Atmosphere / Tone: General nightmare logic
  2. Pacing: The game starts with a bunch of things about Lazarus and Albrecht then… trails off for several hours… then suddenly Lazarus and Albrecht and by the way Cain is a Horadrim!

Gameplay Positives:

  1. HUD: Good at-a-glance with the HUD, especially with health, mana, and hotkeys
  2. Minimap: For how simple it is, the minimap does a good job of indicating what is where
  3. QoL: Some few small general quality of life things (colored outlines on mouseover, auto equip consumables, ‘mouseover’ text, etc.)
  4. Music: Tristram’s theme is what it is
  5. Leveling: Stat distribution and spellbook system
  6. Replayability: Several built in options that encourage replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Spam: It actually gets WORSE later
  2. Audio Spam: Uhh! Huh! Uhh! Uhh! Huh! Uhh!
  3. Audio Spam: Seriously, shut up!
  4. Boss: Lazarus devolves into the same problem all enemies do after the caves; ranged spam
  5. Boss: The Butcher and Leoric and… really all the bosses are kind of the same thing. Big stat sticks that walk up and punch you
  6. Build Into A Corner: Between lack of respec, the lack of information in what classes matter how, the variance between their max stats and unique abilities, it’s pretty easy to reach a point where the game just kinda starts to suck
  7. Combat: Balance between classes… and lack thereof
  8. Combat: Hit Chance is wonky as hell and heavily slanted against melee classes
  9. Combat: Stunlocking and its wondrous joys. The best part is it actually gets worse…
  10. Combat: …the further you get in
  11. Controls: Lack of tunneling, awkward mouse controls, ease of misclicking, punishing misclicking, having to swap between arrow keys and mouse, etc.
  12. Difficulty Curve: More like difficulty staircase
  13. Durability: Not the worst I’ve ever seen, but not fun
  14. Encounter Design: General. There’s a few enemy types but they’re mean in how they combine… and by mean, I mean irritating
  15. Encounter Design: Then in the hell levels you get enemies immune to damage types (of which there are only four total) and they like to just spam the crap out of interrupting ranged attacks
  16. Enemy Design: Special negative for the ranged runners for juuust being annoying
  17. Friendly Fire: Yep, there’s friendly fire in D1. Literally
  18. Hub: Between the slow walk speed and the weird spread of gameplay NPCs, the hub kind of sucks to navigate and utilize
  19. HUD: The HUD isn’t bad, but it takes up an onerous 27% of the screen
  20. Inventory: Bonus complaint about how large items are, and how money takes up space, and how money only stacks to 5k, and how you need way more than 5k gold…
  21. Inventory: Limitations. The inventory space is absolutely miniscule
  22. Inventory: Loot distribution isn’t great, and sort of relies on a lot of repetition to get good stuff thanks to RNG
  23. Inventory: Loot is pretty boring, almost entirely being just basic stats, and most items can only have one or two modifiers
  24. Kit: Or lack thereof
  25. Levels: Hell levels… so first there’s the brevity and lack of design to it, even for how simple the previous levels are
  26. Levels: The caves (navigation, minimap avoidance)
  27. Music: The majority of the music is one song per tileset and it repeats (and restarts upon changing floors)
  28. Options: Lack thereof (no rebinding, no options to speak of)
  29. Traversal Mechanics: Movement speed. It’s bad in town…
  30. Traversal Mechanics: …it’s bad in dungeons…
  31. Traversal Mechanics: …it’s bad in general
  32. Visual Distinction: General. The game is murky and brackish and it’s just hard to see
  33. Visual Distinction: The Catacombs get their own visuals problem due to being even darker and harder to see than usual
  34. Visual Distinction: Then there’s the fact that it’s hard to see things like interactables, loot, and enemies without just waving the mouse all over the place

XCOM 2

My biggest recommendation is to mod this game… a lot. Interface mods, balancing mods, cosmetic mods. Change it up and make it fun, because while the base game is decent… it has a lot of holes and it is very, VERY padded.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: -2
Total Gameplay Score: +18
Golden Number: 29.61
Cheats: Yes (to get on with it)
Total Play Time: 5 days / 39.27 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-5-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice Acting: Competent, mostly with the Chosen
  2. Atmosphere: Thriller action movie
  3. Visual Storytelling: Enemy units and their intros
  4. Background Lore: Research primarily, but some on the weapons too
  5. Music Direction: Surprisingly good usage of music to emphasize moments and keep the missions fresh
  6. Brickwork: Decent throughout
  7. Characters: Chosen. Seriously, they steal the show every scene they’re in. They quite literally get more characterization than the main characters back at base, who are mostly exposition bots
  8. Doodads: Honestly the doodad usage is pretty legit, helping add to almost every part of every mission…
  9. Doodads: …earning two positives
  10. MSQ: The Central’s Archives story missions honestly feel like the campaign mode the rest of the game kind of lacked, following a more traditional mission based narrative

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: So there’s some plot-induced stupidity in the Intro… but the main premise of the plot is honestly ridiculous
  2. Plot: So they couldn’t do anything for 20 years because the only one with any tactical acumen is us. Uh… sure? (also just removing the Commander as a character entirely would have worked better)
  3. Exposition: Bland and forced and often
  4. Drama: The forced, overplayed drama between factions is already not good but could be excused if they did anything with it… which they did not
  5. Character: Too many of the characters are just… not characters, they’re exposition bots
  6. Cutscene: The first Retaliation Mission cutscene is top to bottom bad
  7. Internal Continuity: Tons of inconsistencies basically everywhere
  8. Dialogue: The repetition and aggravation of the dialogue is simply awful
  9. Cutscene: The first shadow project cutscene is textbook bad cutscenes
  10. Outro: Good lord. The bad ending is such a nothingburger that I honestly don’t even know what happened, the good ending is a brief wash followed by a ‘to be continued’… twice. And just wouldn’t end! The whole thing is already awful…
  11. Outro: …but then there’s the final awful cutscenes in the last dungeon (brand new psiker defeating multiple lifelong mages… sure)
  12. World Building: Or lack thereof. The planet is treated like a single town (what is this, Star Wars?) and events actively make no sense when considering the setting

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Core Mechanic: Chosen. The entire concept of the random Chosen missions is already awesome, and the way it adds a dynamic to battles is great. This is on top of them having random abilities (and weaknesses), having their own ticking clocks and progression, rewards, and of course their boss fights…
  2. Core Mechanic: …earning the Chosen two positives
  3. Core Mechanic: Research and the balancing of breakthroughs, inspirations, and how the tree progresses
  4. Core Mechanic: The two AP system is intuitive and well designed (though again, not the best)
  5. Core Mechanic: While not the best I’ve ever seen, the action economy is pretty legit in terms of what you can do and what it costs (free actions, proc actions, attacking, moving, etc.)
  6. Difficulty Options: Surprisingly good and varied difficulty options…
  7. Difficulty Options: …earning a second positive
  8. Enemy Design: Weirdly the Lost are some of the most balanced, well designed enemy units in the game. They spawn frequently, react badly to certain types of attacks, can hurt, but also have a built in mechanic to help you deal with them, on top of being a ‘third party’ that will attack other enemy forces and you equally (and vice versa)
  9. HUD: For all its issues, the HUD is excellent at getting across a lot of information quickly and efficiently
  10. Info In Game: Occasional and decent information available to help you decide what to do, how to build, etc.
  11. Interface: Much of the interface is well designed, lots of good at-a-glance
  12. Kit: Classes. Varied in style and approach and each with their uses, though some are obviously better than others…
  13. Kit: …there’s still some good class design here
  14. Kit: Utility items, weapon upgrades, personnel upgrades
  15. Level: First Chosen / Factions mission. It’s fun, it’s well tutorialized, and it’s got some great beats
  16. Level: Resistance / terror missions in general. Fun stuff, usually worthwhile
  17. Mod Depth: Depth of mod possibilities
  18. Mod Design: Game designed for mods
  19. Mod Tools: Tools for mod support…
  20. Mod Tools: …for two positives
  21. Music: The original music is neat and all…
  22. Music: …but the remixed music and swapping of soundtracks on the fly is great
  23. Penalty For Failure: Bleedout mechanic. It’s a gradient way to approach character death and I’m with it (except when it doesn’t trigger)
  24. Penalty For Failure: Losing units, injured units, mental health problems? Retreat to fail mission?
  25. Starting Options: Generally good starting options
  26. Terrain: Almost always matters, in every single mission. Destructible terrain, height, cover, hazards… even things that will break (or not break) stealth. This is probably the best terrain design I’ve seen in a tactical game…
  27. Terrain: …earning it…
  28. Terrain: …three positives
  29. Boss: The Chosen boss battles
  30. Boss: The Alpha boss battles
  31. Enemy Design: For the issues, there are some good and varied enemy designs throughout
  32. Encounter Design: Generally decent encounter design
  33. Enemy Variety: There’s a fairly large spread of enemies and they all have rather distinct abilities, weaknesses, maneuvers, and preferences…
  34. Enemy Variety: …earning two positives
  35. Cosmetics: Fairly decent customization of the units, which isn’t just neat but helps add relevance and care to individual soldiers…
  36. Core Mechanic: The Tightening Noose game design is something I do enjoy (even if it has some issues here and there), having to always manage your time as the enemy just escalates ahead of you every step of the way
  37. Strategic Layer: Resources, time, optional missions, intel gathering, Covert Actions
  38. Mid Game: Mid game is where the game starts to come into is own, as you stop playing catch up and start to have some really decent abilities and options
  39. Viscerality: Obviously there’s some decent viscerality here… it could be better, but it could be a lot worse
  40. Level: Second to last mission is tight, well laid out, and surprisingly fun
  41. Minigames: The custom skirmish modes are quite legit, some decent options and variety
  42. Level: Okay so there’s these mission packs. They’re tight, surprisingly well designed, fun, and there’s 28 of them…
  43. Level: So we’re going to give each one of the campaigns their own positive…
  44. Level: …rather than attempt to try and review each one individually…
  45. Level: …for what they are
  46. Minigame: Also the bonus points and medals and objective upgrade path in Central’s Archives is pretty neat too
  47. Save System: Decent, if occasionally buggy, autosaves
  48. Replayability: Plenty of variety in builds and randomness to encourage replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Balancing: Issues all over the place
  2. Audio Spam: Some of the characters (looking at Bradford) will NOT shut up
  3. Audio Spam: The whole game pauses while they yammer too
  4. Audio Spam: Honestly it’s just… so bad, even with it turned down (and with mods)
  5. Bugs: Yep. There be bugs here. The game has literally hard crashed and soft-locked for me before
  6. Core Mechanic: Implementation of RNG
  7. Core Mechanic: Research, really, should follow a pretty specific path or you will just plain fall behind
  8. Core Mechanic: Scatter and all that goes with it
  9. Core Mechanic: This is a weird one but I think the game’s RNG needs additional mechanics and systems to help smooth over patches therein, as is the game is either too easy or too hard and neither are really desirable
  10. Early Game: It’s easiest, by far, to fall behind and just have issues with the early game
  11. HUD: In several cases information can (and should) be cross-referencable and… isn’t
  12. Info In Game: There’s a weirdly large amount of information that is either poorly showcased or actively absent in XCOM 2. Mods can smooth this over but as usual the game doesn’t get credit for that. Hell there are entire mechanics not even visible without mods. So ultimately this game gets…
  13. Info In Game: …negatives
  14. Info In Game: …three…
  15. Leveling: The fact that all of the experience really comes from kills is not great. It could be worse, but encouraging the player to play worse in order to level is never a great thing in these types of games, and the fact that you’re actually penalized for being stealthy or avoiding kills is not great
  16. Seconds In Minutes: The zip mode helps mitigate this, but there’s definitely still some seconds in minutes padding in actions, movements, etc…. What’s worst about all of this is that even with the zip mode AND a mod to make this all go by faster (two mods, actually) the game just has so, so, so much of this that it makes the entire thing drag on to the point where I’m just tired of it…
  17. Seconds In Minutes: …for a full…
  18. Seconds In Minutes: …three negatives
  19. Tutorialization: Forced, awkward, and irritating…
  20. Tutorialization: …while also giving you bad info
  21. Unskippable Cutscene: Weirdly a lot of them in mission
  22. Core Mechanic: Stealth is honestly very badly realized, could have great potential but just… doesn’t, and tends to screw you over by ‘tricking’ you into using it too much
  23. Terrain: Despite how awesome the terrain is, the height problem is real (and drifts into bugs territory)
  24. Padding: The missions are good, but there’s honestly just a few too many of them… and when multiple people give the feedback of having to either take a break for a while or just cheating to get through it…
  25. Padding: …then you know…
  26. Padding: …there’s padding
  27. Interface: A general lack of proper cross referencing
  28. Kit: This is related to the earlier issues, but the weapons and their upgrades come too late (not just for difficulty, but in terms of having stuff to play with) and honestly even tier 3 is merely acceptable
  29. Outro: So I hope you like long, boring slogs…
  30. Outro: …if not, we have a padded wave mission too

Dragon Quest Builders 2

A great RPG, a great builder game, and a great time. Hugely, hugely recommended for anyone, whether a fan of the series, the genre, or builders.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +38
Total Gameplay Score: +68
Golden Number: 282.21
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 9 days / 56.39 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-14-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: Moonbrooke’s atmosphere of starting on the back foot and crawling your way back up is honestly my favorite tone of all the islands and I love it
  2. Brickwork: Furrowfield, lovely greens and slimes and rocks and crags
  3. Brickwork: Khrumbul-Dun and the desert dunes and depths of the mines
  4. Brickwork: Malhalla, naturally
  5. Brickwork: Moonbrooke, of course
  6. Character: Babs (aside from the recurring ‘gag’ she’s just generally awesome)
  7. Character: General supporting cast from Khrumbul-Dun
  8. Characters: Malroth. I really don’t feel the need to explain this one…
  9. Characters: Moonbrooke, especially Anessa
  10. Characters: Some good supporting cast in Furrowfield as well
  11. Characters: While the game supplies a large variety of good supporting characters throughout, those in Malhalla really stand out and deserve…
  12. Characters: …a full…
  13. Characters: …three positives, for variety and depth despite being relatively minor NPCs really
  14. Characters: …but Malroth is just generally awesome. He’s the most well developed, has a great arc, and has entire moments where he shines…
  15. Characters: …earning Malroth a triple positive
  16. Dialogue: Generally great dialogue throughout
  17. Doodads: Furrowfield, again
  18. Doodads: Khrumbul-Dun, again
  19. External Continuity: The way the game connects to Dragon Quest 2 is honestly just amazing, taking the story and concepts and really running with them…
  20. External Continuity: …easily earning two positives
  21. Foreshadowing: It’s not the best, but it’s there, especially in Skelketraz
  22. Humor: Goldirox… and the three bars
  23. Humor: Puns… puns never change
  24. Integration: The way the game presents Builders vs. Heroes and their partnership as well as presenting this in combat and with Malroth
  25. Intro: For all its issues, the Intro does a lot right. The boat, the first meeting with Malroth, developing Lulu and the trio’s connections to each other
  26. Localization: As is per usual for the post-8 Dragon Quest games, the localization is bonkers good…
  27. Localization: …easily earning…
  28. Localization: …three positives
  29. Moment: For all that the Moonbrooke chapter sucks, the big reveal about the nature of the illusory world is honestly awesome. It’s been built up to the entire game, brilliantly connects with Dragon Quest 2, and is honestly just as powerful and impacting a reveal as it could be
  30. Moment: The first time people start building one of the mega blueprints is honestly a pretty legit moment, complete with appropriate music
  31. MSQ: I love the Malhalla section in general, top to bottom
  32. MSQ: Skelketraz is honestly just terrifying in all the right ways, it’s really messed up
  33. NPC Set Dressing: The various characters and their little quips and barks as they go about their business
  34. Pacing: Furrowfield Farm is honestly a very well paced island. You start off slow, escalate and incline until the big moment, then a breather to acknowledge before the finale
  35. Plot: Call me a weirdo but I really enjoy Furrowfield Farm’s plot and progression
  36. Plot: This leaves me with mentioning the plot of the entire game; the nature of the illusion and how and why things work the way they do
  37. Storyboarding: So this is a weird one but the game is really dynamic about its cutscenes because they all happen in-engine, which means whatever you’ve built is what the NPCs have to work with. So they’ll work with and around the terrain YOU built, which means YOU effectively design the ‘set’, and the game is quite good about working with that
  38. Theme: The build / destroy theme really comes into its own in Malhalla and is hammered into the bones of almost every scene
  39. Themes: While the obvious theme drifts in and out, there’s several recurring themes of hypocrisy, friendship, being able to accomplish things as a group, and looking past the surface layer, and all are generally well done throughout the work…
  40. Themes: …earning itself two positives
  41. Visual Storytelling: Interspersed, but there’s some good stuff throughout
  42. World Building: A surprisingly large amount of world building, given the situation
  43. Moment: Cap’n Whitebone, and the return of the kelp
  44. Moment: The high five. You know the one
  45. Moment: BUILD IT!!!
  46. Moment: A second positive for “BUILD IT”. It’s arguably the best scene in the game. The WHOLE game has been building to this moment, and it doesn’t over-do it, it’s not over-dramatic, it’s not cliche, it’s not ridiculous, it just IS and it’s AWESOME
  47. Outro: The Outro just… nails it honestly. It only has two small flaws and both aren’t on the story axis, so huge huge pluses…
  48. Outro: …for the finale, the victory lap…
  49. Outro: …and the ending
  50. Spritework: Despite their chibi nature, the well stylized and very well done sprites of characters and enemies is fantastic…
  51. Spritework: …for a full…
  52. Spritework: …three positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Cutscene: As is so often, spoilers in intros
  2. Localization: For all its positives, the game is SO well localized that in some cases it’s legitimately hard to read
  3. Empty Text: Per usual for a Dragon Quest game
  4. Empty Text: Plenty of it
  5. Empty Text: Good lord
  6. MSQ: Babs. There’s one joke here, it’s not funny, and that’s already bad…
  7. MSQ: …but then they repeat it CONSTANTLY to the point where the repetition itself becomes the aggravation
  8. Drama: Played up entirely too much
  9. Writing: So why do we keep getting away with discussing our plans literally in front of people? There’s no avoiding this either, it’s part of the ‘talk to’ cutscenes
  10. Moment: The exact moment we imprison Malroth, and he feels betrayed by us, is just the worst moment in the entire game. And every little thing the game could do to mitigate it or make it less awful it expertly avoids to make it as absolutely frustrating as possible…
  11. Moment: …earning it…
  12. Moment: …three negatives
  13. Writing: Then there’s the fact that you’re forced to go along with it because screw you
  14. Drama: So after we finally (FINALLY) get to let Malroth out and… he’s pissed and actually yells at us for never visiting or freeing him (regardless of what you actually do) and honestly, screw this bullcrap Third Act Conflict crap

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Madusa and its evolving mechanics and general fun
  2. Controls: Then there’s the controls for Building itself (worth noting we are playing the PC version)…
  3. Controls: …which earn two positives
  4. Co-Op: It’s very limited, but it IS there and it IS fun
  5. Core Combat: The emphasis on varied unit types, controlling units, and mass combat in Moonbrooke really makes the combat interesting
  6. Core Combat: Useful NPCs in combat
  7. Core Mechanic: Blueprints: Concept. The very idea of being able to plonk something down and reference it is already nice
  8. Core Mechanic: Blueprints: But then there’s the fact that later on NPCs can and do help you build it once you’ve laid it down
  9. Core Mechanic: Building. I shouldn’t have to explain this, really, but its’ fun, it’s interesting, and it’s the core mechanic of the game…
  10. Core Mechanic: …earning it…
  11. Core Mechanic: …three positives for general quality and satisfaction
  12. Core Mechanic: Cooking, and lots of it
  13. Core Mechanic: In addition to building itself is the bonkers level of build variety there is…
  14. Core Mechanic: ….which rather than describe said variety I will simply give it…
  15. Core Mechanic: …three positives
  16. Core Mechanic: NPC designations, and being able to build stuff specifically to ensure NPCs act in a certain way
  17. Core Mechanic: The entire Rooms system. So first there’s how insanely dynamic the system is, which would be a positive by itself, but then there’s the usage of the rooms and the variety of the rooms, and you have an absolutely great system…
  18. Core Mechanic: …earning the rooms…
  19. Core Mechanic: …three positives
  20. Cosmetics: The layout and design allows your base to look cool, not just in general but for cutscenes as well…
  21. Cosmetics: …earning two positives
  22. Explorers Islands: Lucrative, fun to explore, way to recruit people…
  23. Explorers Islands: …and very rewarding with the infinite of a given resource checklist system
  24. Fast Travel: Generally good fast travel distribution and method of find-it-unlock-it…
  25. Fast Travel: …earning two positives
  26. Guidance and Flow of Exploration: Lots of it, all over the place
  27. HUD: Indicators for interactions (cooking, npcs, quests) all clear and distinct and from a distance
  28. Info In Game: Also Malroth and his function as a hint machine
  29. Info In Game: Builderpedia and tons of info on rooms, items, monsters…
  30. Info In Game: …all easily sorted and propagated as you progress
  31. Integration: The way the game presents Builders vs. Heroes and their partnership as well as presenting this in combat and with Malroth
  32. Interface: Crafting menu (good filters, good sorting, good cross referencing, quick building, and mass building)…
  33. Interface: …for two positives
  34. Interface: Blueprints: Then there’s the interface, which has multiple ways to filter, change angle, and see layers..
  35. Interface: Blueprints: …making for two positives
  36. Interface: Inventory. The bag, the sorting, spillover automatically goes into it, it can be accessed anywhere, and items stack up to 999… this is one of the best inventory systems I’ve seen in an RPG…
  37. Interface: …earning inventory…
  38. Interface: …three positives
  39. Kit: Buildnoculars. Being able to build from range is just such a game changer
  40. Kit: The flute, allowing you to find specific items across the islands and even triangulate based on moving location
  41. Kit: The pencil and the possibilities of blueprint production and copying
  42. Kit: The trowel is just the best damned tool. It’s a smart block replacer; You still have to have the blocks, you still gather the blocks, but it just does it like that; a HUGE quality of life feature…
  43. Kit: …easily earning two positives for sheer QoL
  44. Kit: Water jug. Being able to place, grab, and layer liquid all over is great
  45. Kit: Windbreaker. Completely opens up traversal and removes falling damage from the equation, even in areas where you ‘can’t’
  46. Level: Furrowfield. I don’t feel the need to really explain this, the level design of the manually crafted island is fantastic in every way, in terms of resources, monsters, item placement, flow, etc…
  47. Level: …earning Furrowfield…
  48. Level: …three positives
  49. Level: Khrumbul-Dun isn’t quite as well laid out as Furrowfield…
  50. Level: …but Khrumbul-Dun still gets two positives for level design
  51. Level: Moonbrooke is once again a well designed level, not quite as good as Furrowfield (again) but still quite good…
  52. Level: …leading to two positives
  53. Level: And then there’s Malhalla, which is exceptionally well laid out and basically built for exploring on the Buggy Buggy…
  54. Level: …earning Malhalla two positives
  55. Lighting: Surprisingly good in such a simplistic looking game, really helping with distinction and presentation…
  56. Lighting: …earning it two positives
  57. Map: Surprisingly helpful and useful
  58. Minigame: Puzzles and their general fun
  59. Minigame: Taming. The monsters come with their own benefits and moves and are generally awesome
  60. Minimap: (informative, icons, quest indicators)
  61. MSQ: Farming in Furrowfield, made better as you designate and build
  62. MSQ: Mining in Khrumbul-Dun and how they just sort of keep you in a constant steady flow of resources as you build and improve their productivity
  63. MSQ: The entire Malhalla gameplay loop is, as usual, a nice way to vary up this island from previous ones. Going out to recruit, re-using detritus to build, it’s great stuff
  64. MSQ: The initial segment of Moonbrooke is honestly very well designed. It’s well paced, and you have the near constant attacks to deal with, but start surmounting them almost immediately and the tangible feel of progression
  65. Music: I mean it’s a Dragon Quest game
  66. Overworld: Furrowfield Farm, very well designed as usual
  67. Overworld: Khrumbul-Dun, again very well designed
  68. Pacing: Unlike most of the islands, Malhalla is very well paced, we move forwards at exactly the speed we should and events have proper highs and lulls
  69. Princess Peach: Skelketraz does a good job of varying up the gameplay without your usual toolkit, but still keeping you engaged… also when you do get your tools back it’s a sea change
  70. Progression: Generally good feel and vibe of progression as you unlock more buildings, rooms, and gear
  71. Progression: Tablet targets as a way of guidance, and rewarding to boot (mini medals)
  72. QoL: Bell for gathering hearts and villagers
  73. QoL: Ease and smoothness of looting (with aid of NPCs)
  74. QoL: General smart code everywhere
  75. QoL: Malroth’s assistance in gathering really helps speed things up and honestly never stops being useful
  76. Sound Design: Good across the board, with good indicators and presentation
  77. Traversal: Mounts. Multiple types and multiple presentations
  78. Traversal: The Buggy Buggy, terrible name aside, is fun and neat (especially when it can fly)
  79. Tutorialization: Furrowfield Farm. The whole island serves as a better tutorial across the board than the actual tutorial. It’s not possible to list all the things it does right, it’s even little things like where caves point you or how certain objects pop in, and so Furrowfield gets…
  80. Tutorialization: …the full…
  81. Tutorialization: …three positives
  82. Post-Game: Extensive and well thought out…
  83. Post-Game: …for those who honestly just want to keep building
  84. Replayability: Generally replayable…
  85. Replayability: …and lots of ways you can go about objectives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Spam: Claps and cheers get annoying distressingly fast
  2. Camera: General lack of actual camera control
  3. Core Combat: If you can call it that
  4. Intro: Let’s be honest, the Intro DRAGS. I know people who almost put the game down in the Intro
  5. MSQ: The section where we’re absent Malroth could’ve been awesome, but instead it just sucks
  6. Music: There are a couple of songs (including during the Intro) who’s loops are awful and play for entirely too long
  7. Music: This is a long standing, repeating problem
  8. Padding: Enemies just have way too much help
  9. Padding: It’s not much but Skelkatraz does overstay its welcome with padding and empty swaths of gameplay
  10. Raspberry Jam: Beep… beep… beep…
  11. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleeps
  12. Saves: While you can have multiple saveslots, you’re ‘locked in’ to a single save once you start one
  13. Traversal: Stamina bar
  14. Unskippable Cutscenes: But last, and not least, are the Hargon 2 dialogues… which just…. Take…… absolutely………….. forever……….
  15. Unskippable Cutscenes: So first, there’s unskippable cutscenes in general
  16. Unskippable Cutscenes: Then there’s the fact that dialogue takes forever to mash through
  17. Outro: The Malroth dialogues during the final battle absolutely sap the damned scene

Luigi's Mansion 3

A very good, delightful puzzle game I highly recommend to basically everyone.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +27
Total Gameplay Score: +41
Golden Number: 170.55
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 days / 17.13 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-22-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Background Lore: Luigi’s attention to detail and reactions to things as you go throughout
  2. Brickwork: B2
  3. Brickwork: Castle floor
  4. Brickwork: Egyptian floor
  5. Brickwork: Garden floor
  6. Brickwork: House of Cards floor
  7. Brickwork: Museum floor
  8. Brickwork: Pirates floor
  9. Brickwork: TV Studio floor…
  10. Brickwork: …TV Studio floor x2
  11. Character: Luigi. They don’t do too much with him here, but he’s still a delight
  12. Character: Polterpup. Adorable and helpful
  13. Doodads: B2
  14. Doodads: Castle floor
  15. Doodads: Egyptian floor
  16. Doodads: Garden floor
  17. Doodads: Hotel entrance
  18. Doodads: TV Studio floor
  19. Intro: Early brickwork, bright visuals, puns, and humor
  20. Intro: The game does a lot with little in the Intro, establishing tone and humor and plot and generally being enjoyable
  21. Outro: Not the best I’ve seen, but it’s still pretty legit. Some good visual storytelling, nice moments, and a good wrap up
  22. Atmosphere: Music, visuals, tone, all really add to things
  23. Characters: The ghosts. They’re all really quite well done
  24. Animation: This is probably where the game shines (outside of its brickwork) as the game has really, really good animation on just… everybody…
  25. Animation: …easily earning…
  26. Animation: …three positives
  27. Spritework: The huge variety and quality of the ghost and boss designs really pushes this one up…
  28. Spritework: …for a double positive

Story Negatives:

  1. Humor: The game just will not stop making fun of Luigi. It’s tolerable at first but they just keep banging on about it

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Another double boss positive for Captain Fishook. Very inventive, very fun, great escalation, visceral, just… generally awesome…
  2. Boss: …for two positives
  3. Boss: Honestly best boss so far with the Magician trio, very fun and rewards paying attention and great escalation…
  4. Boss: …earning two positives for the Magician Trio
  5. Boss: King McFreights was irritating at first, but still didn’t outstay his welcome and was generally fun to out maneuver
  6. Boss: The Amadeus Wolfgeist fight is simple but very fun, good callbacks, attacks, ways to speed it up, rule of 3, etc.
  7. Boss: The Boozilla fight is great, fun, and while simple manages to not overstay its welcome
  8. Boss: The Clem fight is actually really innovative and fun and amusing
  9. Boss: The Serpci fight probably has the most overall mechanics so far and good recovery to allow you to play with all of them
  10. Boss: The Ug fight is actually quite legit, good escalation and great viscerality, and always feels fun to progress
  11. Co-Op: In general, not great, but it’s there
  12. Guidance: The built in soft (aka over time) hint system with Polterpup (and occasionally E. Gadd)
  13. Guidance and Flow: The lighting and music changes when you clear an area
  14. Guidance And Flow Of Exploration: It’s small, but Luigi will incline you towards things you should and can interact with
  15. Intro: While the game takes a minute to really get going, it still manages to be engaging early on and stay that way
  16. Level: Another excellent stage in the Egyptian floor, some truly fun and innovative puzzle design, and the encounters and fights are great…
  17. Level: …earning the Egyptian floor another positive
  18. Level: Another fantastic outing for the puzzle design and general creativity, inventive, and fun gameplay throughout the House of Cards stage…
  19. Level: …earning a second positive for the House of Cards level
  20. Level: B2 is one of the better levels so far, lots of fun and interesting back and forth puzzle design as well as the new floater mechanic…
  21. Level: Castle segment, some really innovative puzzles here, and really starting to stretch with the kit
  22. Level: Special mention to the tutorial room for the buzzsaw in the garden level
  23. Level: The garden floor stumbles once or twice but is still generally enjoyable and has some fun side puzzles, plus the all important buzzsaw
  24. Level: The second visit to B2 actually works quite well
  25. Level: …giving B2 two positives
  26. Levels: Mall segment
  27. Minigame: ScareScaper is neat, if limited
  28. Minigame: The ‘clean everything’ side game is just… weirdly satisfying, between the visuals, variety, sound effects
  29. Music: Generally good, and thematically appropriate
  30. Saves: Decent ‘autosave’ mechanic (keeps the three most recent door passings as saves)
  31. Sound Design: Good, informative, helpful, distinct
  32. Tutorialization: The game pulls the Nintendo norm and tutorializes as you go…
  33. Tutorialization: …always adding new concepts and mechanics and showcasing them in level design
  34. Yoshi Drums: Of course
  35. Level: Floor 13, the final floor, has awesome and inventive platforming, puzzle design, and is just… generally awesome, but especially in its encounter design! They really do some fun things with it
  36. Boss: The Hellen boss fight does have some issues (trolling, timing, health) but it’s still very clever and is probably the best ‘puzzle’ fight in the game
  37. Outro: Good last dungeon, good encounter usage, good last boss…
  38. Outro: …easily earning two positives
  39. Enemy Design: Generally good enemy design
  40. Encounter Design: Generally good encounter design
  41. Viscerality: Surprisingly good in a puzzle game
  42. Minimap: Decent overall
  43. Secondary: This sounds weird but it deserves notice that running around 100%ing everything is legitimately fun and usually entails good puzzle design
  44. Animations: On enemies and bosses both, always indicative of what they’re about to do and where
  45. Itemization: Good, smart spread of healing items (a la Metroid)
  46. Kit: The general kit of Luigi is fun, interesting, and evolving
  47. Pacing: Generally well paced between puzzle, explore, and combat
  48. Replayability: Fun game worthy of replaying

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Options: Or lack thereof
  2. Boss: The cat ‘boss’ is… not good. It requires the bad kind of backtracking and the fight itself is very basic
  3. Boss: The return of the cat ‘boss’
  4. Microtransactions: Yep. Mostly cosmetic too
  5. Guidance: So I’ll be honest, I’m mostly a moron, but… there are occasionally VERY simple puzzles that are not well telegraphed at all and I had to just google
  6. Boss: DJ Phantasmagloria… sucks. It’s boring, way less interesting than the other bosses in general, but then there’s the fact that what you need to do is NOT well telegraphed, and even when you figure it out (by looking it up…) good luck with the inconsistent hurtboxes and fast moving enemies
  7. Low Health Beedleeps: Yyyep. Not as bad as a lot, but they’re there

Shovel Knight

While the base game falters, and King Knight has issues, Plague and Specter alone are worth the price of admission. Also one of the best 2D platformers ever made. Hugely recommended.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +47
Total Gameplay Score: +101
Golden Number: 381.29
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 days / 27.25 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-27-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: There’s only tiny little tidbits of animation as we go but there’s a lot of them and they really add to the flavor of the areas
  2. Humor: In general of course, but that Troupple King…
  3. Shovel: Visual Continuity: Stages in general, but also the constant presence of the Tower (final dungeon) in the background
  4. Shovel: NPC Set Dressing: Weirdly well done in town
  5. Shovel: Brickwork: Pridemoore Keep and the Lichyards
  6. Shovel: Brickwork: Villages
  7. Shovel: Brickwork: Explodatorium and the Iron Whale
  8. Shovel: Brickwork: Lost City
  9. Shovel: Brickwork: Clockwork Tower
  10. Shovel: Brickwork: Stranded Ship
  11. Shovel: Brickwork: Flying Machine
  12. Shovel: Brickwork: Tower of Fate
  13. Shovel: Outro: I absolutely love the simple but effective symmetry; the reveal of Shield Knight, her joining you in the final battle, and the simple but enjoyable ending
  14. Plague: NPC Set Dressing: Several, especially when you take the second town over
  15. Plague: Character: Mona and support cast
  16. Plague: Character: Plague Knight himself
  17. Plague: Dialogue: Noticeably improved and generally amusing
  18. Plague: Moment: Several in the first few stages leading up to…
  19. Plague: Moment: …the finale with Mona and Plague which is honestly just so adorable
  20. Plague: Outro: Honestly even better than the last one, not just for the usual reasons but for the connection with Shovel as well as the cuteness
  21. Plague: Internal Continuity: The way Plague’s tale dovetails into Shovel’s is neat and adds to it
  22. Plague: Atmosphere: The overall vibe and tone of the work, the flavor of it, are very much on point as the chaotic, explosive mad scientist
  23. Specter: NPC Set Dressing: As per usual for the hub areas
  24. Specter: Hub: There’s a lot of lovely touches and dialogues in the hub, but also the fact that it slowly fills out as you recruit
  25. Specter: Brickwork: While I can’t give them full credit, the added touches to every stage in Spectre Knight are a welcome addition and really add to the areas
  26. Specter: Character: Donavon is engaging right from the start, showing several additional layers to him on top of his surface level stuff
  27. Specter: Moment: The second and third flashbacks really help nail the sequence of events here
  28. Specter: Internal Continuity: I love how this connects with the rest of the games, especially regarding the significance of the locket and Reize… but the most understated of all is the Acolyte becoming the Troupple follower
  29. Specter: Outro: Great significance for the final boss duo (the last one being primarily about navigating the terrain, not the boss)
  30. Specter: Characters: Great supporting cast across the board, especially Red and Reize
  31. Specter: Consequence Storytelling: Weirdly all the pieces line up pretty well here. From the initial foray into the Tower, the fall of Donovan, the tragedy of Specter Knight, Reize’s life, and the inevitable fate of the valley
  32. Specter: Plot: The entire plot is really engaging. The rise of the Enchantress and the future story’s pieces falling into place
  33. Specter: Atmosphere: Gloomy, despondent, and ultimately tragic
  34. King: Intro: Sets up the characters, scene, connections, and plot pretty effectively… even has some foreshadowing
  35. King: Character: King Knight himself
  36. King: Character: King’s arc
  37. King: Character: The supporting cast is weirdly well characterized and has great flavor
  38. King: Brickwork: Joustus Hall
  39. King: NPC Set Dressing: Love the characters roaming the ship
  40. King: Brickwork: Troupple Forest
  41. King: Moment: King Knight finally being just one step from actual character growth, before King Pridemoor just… screws it all up, and King Knight throws everything he’d earned away for something he thought he wanted
  42. King: Outro: Usual general quality but…
  43. King: Outro: …a bonus positive for how it lines up so neatly with Specter Knight, and sets up for the future games
  44. Spritework: The bosses and characters in Shovel and Plague…
  45. Spritework: …for two positives
  46. Spritework: Enemy design throughout…
  47. Spritework: …for two positives
  48. Spritework: Bonus for the new sprites in Specter
  49. Spritework: Bonus for the new sprites in King

Story Negatives:

  1. Drama: There’s a lot of excuse fighting going on here, it’s kinda weird honestly
  2. Plague: Drama: For all the improvements to the story, the artificial Act 3 drama between Mona and Plague is the usual issue

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: Could be better, but still precise and tight
  2. Cosmetics: Body Swap mode
  3. Enemy Variety: I mean there’s… just so many types and styles of enemies…
  4. Enemy Variety: …easily earning…
  5. Enemy Variety: …three positives
  6. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Good placement
  7. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Optional! Risk/reward with breaking for gold, or keeping for safety
  8. Penalty For Failure: Drop a chunk of your money on death, can go get it back… but if you die again, it’s gone
  9. Shovel: Boss: Dark Knight (all)
  10. Shovel: Boss: General
  11. Shovel: Boss: Mole Knight
  12. Shovel: Boss: Propeller Knight
  13. Shovel: Boss: Tinker Knight
  14. Shovel: Boss: Treasure Knight
  15. Shovel: Co-Op: Limited, but it’s there
  16. Shovel: Guidance: Usage of terrain to indicate where to explore and why
  17. Shovel: Intro: Very, very strong intro. Great escalation and tutorialization of the Mario World variety (no language, no dialogue, no problems) and functioning as a bit of an increasing essay of platforming…
  18. Shovel: Intro: …for an easy two positives
  19. Shovel: Kit: There’s not much, but it’s there
  20. Shovel: Level: Explodatorium continues to be good, fun mechanics
  21. Shovel: Level: Flying Machine
  22. Shovel: Level: Flying Machine mk. 2
  23. Shovel: Level: Iron Whale. Mean as hell, but very fun and some great new mechanics
  24. Shovel: Level: Lichyards. Starts adding new mechanics and gimmicks, and does a great job of escalating
  25. Shovel: Level: Lost City
  26. Shovel: Level: Stranded Ship
  27. Shovel: Level: Tower of Fate Entrance
  28. Shovel: Music: I mean you knew this was going to be here…
  29. Shovel: Music: …cuz there’s just so many bangers…
  30. Shovel: Music: …and they’re generally awesome
  31. Shovel: NG+: While it enforces the difficulty increase, it’s still good to have
  32. Shovel: Outro: While there are definitely some issues, the last two fights are very well designed and very fun
  33. Shovel: Traversal: Bouncing! It’s refined from Duck Tales but it’s still awesome
  34. Shovel: Tutorialization: Each new gimmick is properly showcased
  35. Shovel: Tutorialization: The mini rooms to get you used to a new ability
  36. Plague: Intro: Same general stage, touched up for the new tutorialization
  37. Plague: Itemization: Lower health, but regular potions which give you increased maximum health but do NOT heal you, and go away upon death… these potions also drop pretty regularly, and you can only hold so many at a time…
  38. Plague: Itemization: …giving the whole potion health system two positives
  39. Plague: Itemization: Once again good itemization in the gold distribution and upgrades they purchase
  40. Plague: Kit: Let’s be clear, Plague Knight’s kit is bonkers good. First is the huge variety of the actual attacks and the available combinations…
  41. Plague: Kit: …leading to two positives
  42. Plague: Kit: Then there’s Plague’s relics, which are WAY better than Shovel’s and have a wide variety of applications in traversal, recovery, attacking, and mutating…
  43. Plague: Kit: …earning Plague Knight’s Kit…
  44. Plague: Kit: …three positives
  45. Plague: Level: The new challenge levels are fun and, well, challenging
  46. Plague: Level: The speedrunner museum challenge is honestly quite interesting and fun
  47. Plague: Traversal: Plague controls so much better than Shovel, and honestly is a treat to play as by comparison…
  48. Plague: Traversal: …earning a second positive
  49. Plague: Replayability: Between the variety of playstyles and general fun, Plague gets a Replayability positive
  50. Plague: Viscerality: Plague is appropriately chaotic and explosive in playstyle
  51. Specter: Boss: King Knight’s new kit is appropriate, varied, and fun
  52. Specter: Boss: Phantom Striker
  53. Specter: Boss: Plague Knight is just awesome now, lots of fun new mechanics and gimmicks
  54. Specter: Boss: Polar Knight // Treasure Knight
  55. Specter: Boss: Propeller Knight
  56. Specter: Boss: Tinker Knight
  57. Specter: Boss: Tinker Knight
  58. Specter: Boss: Mole Knight
  59. Specter: Boss: King Knight
  60. Specter: Guidance: Terrain design indicating where to explore and how
  61. Specter: Intro: Once again a great and well designed Intro, honestly even better than the last two…
  62. Specter: Intro: …with a new boss battle and some very tight level design that forces the player to realize their kit very early on
  63. Specter: Kit: Still good, but like Plague Knight for all its variety it doesn’t really have the stage design to back it
  64. Specter: Level: Clockwork Tower
  65. Specter: Level: Clockwork Tower mk. 2
  66. Specter: Level: Clockwork Tower mk. 3
  67. Specter: Level: Flying Ship
  68. Specter: Level: Flying Ship
  69. Specter: Level: Iron Whale
  70. Specter: Level: Lichyard
  71. Specter: Level: Lost City
  72. Specter: Level: Pridemoor Keep is exactly as mean and fun as it should be, even for a first stage
  73. Specter: Level: The Explodatorium just knocks it out of the park now, with wild and challenging platforming puzzles and a great density…
  74. Specter: Level: …giving the Explodatorium two positives
  75. Specter: Level: The Stranded Ship
  76. Specter: Level: Tower of Fate Entrance
  77. Specter: Level: Tower of Fate Entrance
  78. Specter: Music
  79. Specter: Music
  80. Specter: Music
  81. Specter: Outro: Great first last boss, fantastic last boss
  82. Specter: Terrain: Just… bonkers good, throughout…
  83. Specter: Terrain: …earning two positives
  84. Specter: Tutorialization: The levels constantly add new mechanics and the level design so naturally informs how they work
  85. Specter: Tutorialization: The mini stages once you buy a new curio
  86. Specter: Viscerality: It feels so good and so cool to play as Specter Knight
  87. Specter: Replayability: Oh yeah
  88. King: Boss: King Birder
  89. King: Boss: King Pridemoor himself is honestly quite fun
  90. King: Boss: The Troupple king returns, in style!
  91. King: Core Mechanic: Joustus
  92. King: Guidance: As per usual, very well indicated and places…
  93. King: Guidance: …even more than before, with the multiple exits and hidden paths
  94. King: HUD: Joustus battle arena
  95. King: Interface: Joustus card filters and info
  96. King: Intro: Usual introduction and level design goodness
  97. King: Itemization. Not counting the last few tidbits, the game does a great deal right here
  98. King: Kit: Decent, if underutilized
  99. King: Level: Cliffside levels
  100. King: Level: Flying Machine areas
  101. King: Level: Lichyard levels
  102. King: Level: Machine Tower areas
  103. King: Level: Machine Tower areas
  104. King: Level: Magma cave areas
  105. King: Level: Plains Levels
  106. King: Level: Pridemoor levels
  107. King: Level: Troupple Forests
  108. King: Level: Underwater areas
  109. King: Levels: Tower of Fate levels continue to be excellent…
  110. King: Levels: …but also very inventive
  111. King: Overworld: Actual design put into it now, multiple routes and exits, and the micro-levels idea
  112. King: Tutorialization: As before, each new mechanic and gimmick a new area adds is properly tutorialized and showcased
  113. Enemy Design: As with the variety, there’s a lot of good enemy design…
  114. Enemy Design: …especially across all four games…
  115. Enemy Design: …earning three positives
  116. Minigame: Shovel Knight Showdown
  117. Minigame: Challenge Mode, Shovel
  118. Minigame: Challenge Mode, Plague
  119. Minigame: Challenge Mode, Specter
  120. Minigame: Challenge Mode, King
  121. Song: Hitting Close To Home

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Visual Distinction: Several areas where it’s legitimately hard to see what you’re looking at in the background
  2. Shovel: Difficulty Curve: Very spiky, and prone to death spirals
  3. Shovel: Difficulty Curve: This is several mechanics combined but essentially it’s a bit too easy to fall into a death loop and have to go grind to get upgrades or access to areas
  4. Shovel: Terrain Design: Some jumps and areas are just complete ‘screw yous’
  5. Shovel: Padding: Boss refights
  6. Shovel: QoL: The game does not allow exiting and keeping progress, which means if you miss anything you have to not only do the ENTIRE stage over again, but also fight the boss again, which is just aggravating
  7. Plague: QoL: The stage exit problem again
  8. Shovel: Interface: There’s just too many clicks to swap things around, which is already problematic in any game but is just weird in a high action, high pace platformer
  9. Plague: Interface: The interface issue is so much worse as Plague Knight. The absence of presets or templates suddenly becomes awful as you have tons of enemies with tons of possible weapon configurations…
  10. Plague: Interface: …leading to a second negative
  11. Plague: Padding: Boss refights… again
  12. Specter: QoL: The stage exit problem… agaaain…
  13. Specter: Enemy: The Big Bertha wannabe enemy is honestly just a uniquely irritating frustration
  14. King: Audio Spam: A sound effect plays every single time you dash and spin and… you do a whooole lot of that
  15. King: Pacing: Joustus. The game just… slows to a crawl during Joustus matches, and that’s just off for a high paced precision platformer like this
  16. King: Traversal: Or lack thereof. I get that he’s supposed to be a big bruiser clunker but good lord
  17. King: Music: By this point the songs have gotten repetitive. They’re GREAT songs but… there’s two games of music in four games here
  18. King: Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Some issues with placement, especially in the longer and auto-scrolly stages
  19. King: Outro: What the hell. The first final boss is whatever, the second is actively irritating (can’t be bounced on, most weapons don’t work, have to hit from the side) and…
  20. King: Outro: …it leads into the THIRD final boss which is just awful. No health reset, instant death pit everywhere, and frustrating hand movements

Bloodstained Curse of the Moon 1

Still an absolutely fantastic, tight, excellent platformer. Think the old NES Castlevanias except minus all the bad parts and you’ve got it. Hugely recommended.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +10
Total Gameplay Score: +31
Golden Number: 113.84
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 2.65 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-27-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Intro
  2. Brickwork: Stage 1 and the train station and forest
  3. Brickwork: Stage 2 and the jungle and frozen hell
  4. Brickwork: Stage 4 and the towers
  5. Brickwork: Stage 5 and the partially sunken ship in the storm
  6. Brickwork: Stage 6 and the bloody castle
  7. Brickwork: Stage 7 and the morose halls
  8. Brickwork: Stage 9 and the japanese demon imprisonment
  9. Spritework: Honestly just bonkers good designs for the enemies and bosses
  10. Visual Continuity: The moon and its slow reveal (and finally consumed by the curse)

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Focalor
  2. Boss: Valefor
  3. Boss: Valac (WOOOO)
  4. Boss: Andraelphus
  5. Boss: Bloodless
  6. Boss: Bathin
  7. Choices: Kill or recruit? Both are completely viable
  8. Core Mechanic: Health management across party members
  9. Core Mechanic: Swapping on the fly
  10. Difficulty Options: Simple, but well done, and no penalty for selection
  11. Intro: Effective in not just being a good stage and tutorializing what we’re in for, it also gets across the very idea of branching paths and how that works, culminating in a simple but fun boss battle
  12. Kit: Gebel’s flight and upwards attack
  13. Kit: If you kill, the additional power ups you get
  14. Kit: If you recruit, each one has their own moveset and abilities
  15. Kit: Special bonus points for Alfred’s spell selection
  16. Level: Branching paths in general
  17. Level: Stage 2, Frigid Hell
  18. Level: Stage 3, The Brilliant Void
  19. Level: Stage 4, Blasphemy Unto Heaven
  20. Level: Stage 5, Sunder The Night
  21. Level: Stage 6, Tragedy of Slaughter
  22. Level: Stage 7, Defiler of Taboos
  23. Level: Stage 8, Curse the Moon
  24. Level: Stage 9, Cleave the Moon
  25. Music: Yeah no, every single stage is just legit…
  26. Music: …plus some absolute bangers
  27. Outro: Everything about the last stage gets a bonus neat thing but the final boss is honestly really awesome, between the party all fighting together and the great moveset
  28. Controls: Precise, tight, well thought out, and programmable…
  29. Controls: …for an easy double positive
  30. Difficulty Curve: I’ve seen better, but it’s still a nice smooth curve upwards throughout
  31. Enemy Variety: Good across the board
  32. Replayability: Between multiple playthroughs and general quality, absolutely
  33. Terrain Design: Very well designed to work well with the commitment platformer approach

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Boss: Gremori. Long, irritating phases which can be hell to dodge if you don’t have the right setup, and/or long invuln periods
  2. Unskippable Cutscenes: They’re minor, but they’re there… mostly for boss fights, which sucks when you die and have to see them again (and again and again)

Castlevania Symphony of the Night

While it is a flawed game, it is still a fantastic platformer and metroidvania. Hugely recommended.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +21
Total Gameplay Score: +44
Golden Number: 174.92
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 8.37 Hours
Time Reviewed: 7-29-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Humor: Terrible voice acting… so, so terrible hahaha
  2. Brickwork: Opening area
  3. Brickwork: Marble Area & Outer Wall
  4. Brickwork: Library
  5. Brickwork: Chapel
  6. Brickwork: Castle Keep
  7. Brickwork: Colosseum
  8. Brickwork: Caves
  9. Brickwork: Tombs
  10. Brickwork: General
  11. Doodads: Library
  12. Doodads: Catacombs
  13. Music Direction: In almost every area music is used to really accent the tone and vibe
  14. Atmosphere: Similarly, the atmosphere just oozes from every area
  15. Animation: Mid-cutscene animations really add to the storyboarding
  16. NPC Set Dressing: Okay this is a weird one but there’s… a weirdly large amount of little flavor details just… everywhere
  17. Spritework: Some of the best spritework in the business. We first have to acknowledge just Alucard himself, who has a truly insane level of design by himself…
  18. Spritework: …for two positives
  19. Spritework: Then there’s the bosses which, yeah, lotta great stuff there
  20. Spritework: And finally the absolutely insane quality and quantity of enemy designs throughout…
  21. Spritework: …for a full…
  22. Spritework: …three positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Localization: For however funny it is, the localization really is just terrible… only getting so few negatives by virtue of how little dialogue is in the game

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Granphaloon
  2. Boss: Olrox
  3. Boss: Shaft
  4. Boss: Inverted bosses, general
  5. Boss: Galamoth
  6. Boss: Normal bosses, general
  7. Controls: Street fighter moves aside the game controls like a breeze, very smooth and very precise…
  8. Controls: …and earning two positives
  9. Core Combat: A fairly central aspect of the game, and well done beside
  10. Encounter Design: Good usage and presentation of enemies in conjunction not just with each other, but with the terrain in which you fight them
  11. Encounter Design: …earning a second positive
  12. Enemy Design: Surprisingly good enemy designs, earning…
  13. Enemy Design: …two for normal
  14. Enemy Design: And another two…
  15. Enemy Design: …for Inverted
  16. Enemy Variety: Enemy variety is bonkers in this one. The huge, huge variety of not just appearances but of different types and styles of enemies is insane, so…
  17. Enemy Variety: …two for the Normal castle…
  18. Enemy Variety: …and then another two…
  19. Enemy Variety: …for the Inverted castle
  20. Guidance and Flow: Especially early on, the game is really good about giving you guidance on where and what to do
  21. Intro: Gets across a lot of what’s going on here, what a metroidvania is, and how the game unfolds
  22. Itemization: The placement and drops of items, outside of a few super-rare things, is honestly very well thought out and helps with the Metroivania’ness thereof…
  23. Itemization: …earning two positives for Normal…
  24. Itemization: …and another two…
  25. Itemization: …for the Inverted castle
  26. Kit: Spells, while irritating to use, are available from the start (or learned from the librarian)
  27. Kit: Sub weapons and their usual variety are easy
  28. Kit: Weapons and variety thereto, however, is where the kit really shines. Lots of different weapons with different attack speeds, angles, reach, recovery time, and visuals… the fact that there’s multiple ‘ultimate weapons’ alone lines up with this…
  29. Kit: …earning weapons a strong double positive
  30. Level: Initial loop. This is the initial run through the Castle and contains most of the ‘central’ areas. Very well thought out, lots of good guidance, and generally fun platforming and layout…
  31. Level: …earning it…
  32. Level: …three positives
  33. Level: Lower loop. This is the lower areas, the descent into the mines, caves, waterways, and catacombs. While there’s a couple of irritants here and there this, too, is nicely layered and loops smoothly back into the middle loop, earning it…
  34. Level: …another three…
  35. Level: …positives
  36. Level: Upper loop. This is the chapel, upper castle, outer wall, and clocktower. While not as good as the other two loops, there’s still some good and inventive stuff here, and really stretches with the verticality…
  37. Level: …earning two positives
  38. Minigame: Richter mode, while problematic, is a way to vary up things
  39. Music: Definitely gets a second positive
  40. Music: I mean come on
  41. Overworld: Surprisingly good connective tissue between the ‘stages’
  42. Pacing: The game maintains a very good pacing between explore, breather, combat, boss, and keeps that throughout both castles…
  43. Pacing: …earning two positives
  44. Replayability: As with most games of this type, generally replayable
  45. Sound Design: Good, distinct, and helpful
  46. Terrain: When it’s well crafted it’s fantastic, keeping in mind what areas you should be able to access at what times
  47. Traversal: Mostly in kit, but it’s still there
  48. Viscerality: Let’s be honest, the game has pretty good viscerality in spells, hits, attacks, and enemies…
  49. Viscerality: …earning a second positive for all three aspects
  50. Visual Continuity: As it pertains to navigation, it’s always well designed and possible to (at a glance) tell where you are and where you can go…
  51. Visual Continuity: …earning two positives
  52. Visual Distinction: Similarly, in good metroidvania fashion, it’s very well distinct and capable of telling enemy, player, interactable, and terrain…
  53. Visual Distinction: …earning two positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Richter is the worst, but even Alucard still has some hand cancer in the form of having to do street fighter inputs for basic movement stuff
  2. Early Game: Between health and lack of kit and spread of save rooms, there is a bit of an Early Game Hell problem in this one
  3. Guidance and Flow: There are a few points of ‘well now what’ where it’s not super obvious what to do and, honestly, the game just kind of wants you to go roaming to wherever you haven’t been
  4. Info In Game: There’s some… pretty bad issues with info not being in the game. The very existence of the second castle, how enemies and spells and items work, what leveling does, all kinds of stuff…
  5. Info In Game: …earning two negatives
  6. Interface: Just using items is far more aggravating, delayed, and click-heavy then it needs to be
  7. Music: The MP3 problem and non looping music can get irritating
  8. Terrain: Actively gets in the way of traversal later on, and lots of empty padded rooms regardless
  9. Walkthroughitis: Accessing the second castle at all and how to progress to the final boss

Ori and the Blind Forest

A bit finicky and a bit awkward at times, with a wonky difficulty curve, but still a very enjoyable platforming-focused Metroivania, with a solid narrative undercurrent. Big recommend.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +26
Total Gameplay Score: +22
Golden Number: 125.02
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 7.57 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-3-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Visual Storytelling: Intro
  2. Music Direction: Intro
  3. Cutscene: Intro
  4. Themes: Intro
  5. Visual Continuity: The mountain and the tree
  6. Atmosphere: Yeah, it works, between the dying and the revitalized forests
  7. Moment: The deaths of the owlets
  8. Moment: The waters returning to the Ginso Tree
  9. Music Direction: Second overall positive to music direction for proper usage of dynamic, thematic, and situational music
  10. Pacing: Brilliant pacing between moments of calm, excitement, danger, gloom, doom, and peace
  11. Brickwork: Swallow’s Nest
  12. Brickwork: Sunken Glades
  13. Brickwork: Hollow Grove
  14. Brickwork: Moon Grotto
  15. Brickwork: Ginso Tree
  16. Brickwork: Thornfelt Swamp
  17. Brickwork: Thornfelt Swamp
  18. Brickwork: Valley of the Wind
  19. Brickwork: Misty Woods
  20. Brickwork: Forlorn Ruins
  21. Brickwork: Sorrow Pass
  22. Brickwork: Mt. Horu
  23. Visual Storytelling: Forlorn Ruins
  24. Themes: Death and rebirth, and families
  25. Outro: The sacrifice, the families re-united, death and rebirth
  26. Spritework: Mostly for the four principle characters, but it’s still good

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: Layout and style
  2. Guidance: Ignoring the obvious map pings, the flow and nature of the level design…
  3. Guidance: …but also with regards to placements and layout
  4. Intro: Some very good Metroid style tutorialization, flow, and presentation in the Intro…
  5. Intro: …earning two positives
  6. Kit: Bash, by itself, gets a positive
  7. Kit: General. Dash, grenades, etc.
  8. Level: Black Root Burrows
  9. Level: Forlorn ruins
  10. Level: Forlorn ruins
  11. Level: Forlorn ruins
  12. Level: Ginso Tree
  13. Level: Gumo’s Hideout
  14. Level: Misty woods
  15. Level: Misty woods
  16. Level: Moon Grotto
  17. Level: Moon Grotto
  18. Level: Route to the valley
  19. Level: Sorrow Pass
  20. Level: Sunken Glades
  21. Level: Thornfelt Swamp
  22. MSQ: Strangely the post Forlorn Ruins stealth section is properly intense and gradient
  23. Music: Honestly I love this soundtrack, especially from how it’s used…
  24. Music: …earning a second positive
  25. Saves: The ability to place down saves (almost) anywhere and their eventual upgrades into usefulness
  26. Terrain: Usual good style from a Metroidvania
  27. Traversal: Between Bash, Dash, double jump, and the wall interactions
  28. Visual Distinction: Lots of color distinction
  29. Boss: The Forlorn Ruins escape sequence is, contrary to the earlier one, actually fun
  30. Level: Mt. Horu
  31. Fast Travel: Simple but decent, with find / use system and an acceptable spread of warp points
  32. Replayability: Generally fun to replay
  33. Song: Restoring The Light, Facing The Dark

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Unskippable Cutscenes: Yyep
  2. Controls: Lack of any kind of rebinding
  3. Controls: Imprecision of jumps
  4. Visual Distinction: Visual noise in combat
  5. Saves: The saves requiring mana, being required for leveling, and having potential issues, on top of only having one save slot
  6. Core Combat: Boring at best, probably shouldn’t even be in the game
  7. Boss: The escape sequence from the Ginso Tree can go directly to hell. Visuals that get in the way of navigation, zero checkpoints in a lengthy sequence, very very tight timing on every jump, and just… everything…
  8. Boss: …earning two negatives
  9. Level: Mt. Horu and the Quest For Bullcrap
  10. Difficulty Curve: There are several jarring cliffs and troughs of difficulty that don’t work super well
  11. Difficulty Options: Usual lazy difficulty