Premieres 6


Diddy Kong Racing

A fun, experimental, interesting game full of janky physics, odd controls, and irritating boss fights. The game also barely tells you anything you need to know while playing it. But if you can get past those irritations, it’s definitely worth trying out.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: -1
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 9-17-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Charm. Between the light aesthetic and happy voice acting, the whole game exudes charm

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. HUD (ability, ranking up, lap, time, turns, non-intrusive)
  2. Three distinct playstyles (kart, hovercraft, plane)
  3. Music is, as per usual, bopping
  4. Aggregate: Yoshi drums are infrequent but still good // The usage of the hub as an extra exploration and connective tissue thing helps with Visual Continuity // While some of the coin levels can go to hell, the idea of them as a mutator to difficulty is pretty cool
  5. Aggregate: Shorter maps help keep things bite sized and prevent it from growing too sloggy or boring // The quick retry option is a nice QoL // The idea of only having set balloons give set power ups which improve or replace the previous adds a nice layer of tactics to the power up mechanic
  6. The boss fights are fun concepts and enjoyable the first time around…
  7. Maps! There are actually a fairly large number of good, varied maps, and while individual courses don’t really stand out…
  8. …the maps deserve two positives in general
  9. Graphics design is very distinct, colorful, and generally adds to the playthrough

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. The Intro is… not good. There’s almost no information on what to do or how to do it and if you don’t backtrack or explore you’ll actually end up getting ‘stuck’ and being unsure of how to progress
  2. The hit and hurt boxes are, as per Rare standard, just… all over the place, and the inconsistency hurts the gameplay substantially
  3. The second Tricky boss fight. It’s over-tuned, has very little margin for error, and is just frustrating
  4. The second walrus boss fight
  5. The second kraken boss fight
  6. The second dragon boss fight
  7. The first Wizpig boss fight
  8. Lack of info in game (tons of things that just have no explanation or detail like drifting or the rainbow boost or where the keys are or how they work or what they unlock or how to progress with the trophies)
  9. The hovercart can honestly just go to hell. It’s not a substantial gameplay change over the kart and handles so, so terribly
  10. The final Wizpig boss fight is so laggy and has so many geometry issues that it’s just frustrating and irritating to do and redo and redo and redo

Age of Decadence

This game essentially mandates either repeated replays and failures to learn its insides and outs, or using a walkthrough. If you can get past that (or enjoy it!), then the massively branching narrative, wonderfully down-to-earth storytelling, and tons of choices and builds gameplay are more than worth the while.
Total Story Score: +11
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 8 Hours
Time Reviewed: 9-18-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Flavor text and descriptions on skills adds to the flavor of the lore
  2. Writing quality in dialogue is excellent
  3. Lots and lots of internal continuity, with things constantly affecting one another
  4. Intro of Teron is surprisingly good at not only establishing the setting, characters, tone, hooks, and backstory of the setting, but also giving multiple possible motivations for the player to continue
  5. Consequence storytelling is absolutely everywhere, with actions you take consistently coming up in later efforts
  6. World building through interaction and natural dialogue
  7. Branching Narrative. Very, very branching narrative
  8. Atmosphere and tone. It’s very bleak and very horrible and does a very good job of conveying it
  9. Visual storytelling is all over the place, with ruins of rock walls barely covered by wood barricades, desert sands shifting over wrecked roof-less homes, and the like
  10. The trip through the crater is a trip, and probably the best single moment of the game for its severe surreal creepiness
  11. The ambiance, atmosphere, and tone of the bleak and desolate music really adds to the work

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Character stats screen and info available in game
  2. Variety of dialogue options as a major function of core gameplay
  3. Non combat leveling and options, and its relatively easy to do an entirely non combat playthrough
  4. Quest branching! Very, very quest branching
  5. Replayability thanks to the shortness of the game and the multitude of options in progression
  6. Fast travel around towns and the overworld
  7. Mastery system. The game is designed around you replaying it many times, failing, taking notes, and learning more about what gives you what, where, and how
  8. Build gameplay. There are many possible builds and many viable builds
  9. Intro. The Teron sequence is great gameplay wise, with a huge number of quests that interweave with each other, vary based on your background, and do a good job of giving you an idea of what you’re in for
  10. Save system (multiple slots for quick and autosave, autosaves are at transitions and combat, very quick and easy to save/load)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Interface is… very 2004, and its more than a bit cumbersome to move through
  2. The very same Mastery system which is a positive is also a negative, because it necessitates repeated failings to progress… or just using a walkthrough
  3. The game is very firmly in the brown era of gaming, and more to the point at times it’s literally difficult to tell what you’re interacting with

Bloodborne

This is a very gross, very good, very bad game. It does many things right, several things wrong, and squicked me out completely. But if you’re already a fan of the Soulslikes and haven’t played it, I strongly recommend it.
Total Story Score: +14
Total Gameplay Score: +9
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 8 Days // 64 Hours
Time Reviewed: 10-6-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Lighting is well designed and helps with the aesthetic
  2. Doodad utilization is fantastic and varied as usual
  3. Doodads get a second positive for how quantity and quality
  4. Brickwork is some of the best I’ve seen in the soulsborne games
  5. Color utilization is very well utilized to accent tone and style throughout
  6. Atmosphere is appropriately… bloodborney
  7. The Rom fight has lots of interesting little tidbits designed into it that add to the narrative; The adds defending the mostly defenseless gestating creature lost in an empty landscape within a dream, Rom (and the spiders) all animate as if they’re afraid of you, etc.
  8. Gameplay and Story Integration in general but most especially in the boss fights
  9. Insight is a cool Storytelling Tool in so many ways. The Doll, the baby’s cry, the creatures, the enemy changes, etc
  10. The voice acting, when it’s there, is honestly quite brilliant
  11. The gross factor is used very well to help accentuate and add to themes, horror, and atmosphere
  12. The usage of items and descriptions as world building
  13. The Intro absolutely serves the overall feel and vibe of the game and is an immediate and proper intro into what the entire game is about
  14. Outro (Mergo and the Wetnurse, the house being on fire, Gehrman’s final speeches)
  15. Aggregate: Side quests (little girl, helping people find a safe haven) // Banter of NPCs (especially the ones you can’t even see) // The horror of the character stories

Story Negatives:

  1. Presentation of squid ending is lacking in visual continuity, style, or approach

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Penalty for failure: Retrieve echoes upon death, body goes away upon second death
  2. Visual distinction. With few exceptions it’s always very clear what you’re looking at, what you can interact with, where you can go, etc.
  3. Switch-attacks is a fun way to add a layer to the combat
  4. Flow of combat (counter, stagger, attack to gain health back, etc.)
  5. Storage mechanic (excess loot goes to bank automatically, portaling auto refills from bank stock) and other related QoL mechanics
  6. Sound design is quite informative on what is where, and helps decide how to deal with off camera enemies
  7. Level design and layout (slowly expanding areas of access, shortcuts, etc.)
  8. Enemy variety (different attacks, styles of attack, strategies)
  9. Quality of autosave (autosaving virtually every few seconds)
  10. Gascoigne is an excellent tutorial fight in how Hunter fights work, the parry mechanic, recovering health, etc.
  11. % heals are, as usual, really quite useful and help a ‘potion’ retain relevance throughout the game
  12. NPC helpfulness, while it varies, is generally more good than bad when summoned
  13. Blood-Starved Beast was a very fun fight. While arguably ‘just’ a berserker, there’s a lot of good design to the arena, the helper, the weaknesses, and the attacks
  14. Weapon variety (not just in damage, but in arcs, switch attacks, etc.) is really good, warranting…
  15. …a second Weapon Variety combo
  16. The weapons have good ‘weight’ to them in how they feel to use, adding to visceral enjoyment
  17. Vicar Amelia has lots of ways to tackle her, and lots of ways to recover from how she operates, and is generally well designed
  18. Lecture Building encounter design (large open area with enemies to be maneuvered around or chokepointed, enemies designed to take advantage of both)
  19. Shortcut level design
  20. The music for boss fights is pretty well designed and clearly specifically picked for each boss in question
  21. Ludwig fight! The variance of the two phases, the music, the styles and telegraphs and options
  22. Logairus was a very fun fight. Lots of big flashy attacks which limit movement but still are reasonable to avoid, nice obvious phase transition which allows you to do things about it (free hits, recover, interrupt), lots of fun interesting attacks which you can do things about (like his planting the sword), etc.
  23. The Maria fight was fascinating, being a relatively ‘normal’ fight about watching for animations and timing, but each phase adding mutators to said attacks
  24. While not as much or as full as I’d like, the co-op is still smooth and works well and is fun
  25. The Orphan has two major issues with the fight (which are covered by separate negatives) but the core fight itself is actually a really well designed berserker boss fight
  26. Decent new game plus system
  27. Decent variety and mix-and-match of cosmetic armors and runes
  28. Clearcut information about certain things is quite available in game (most notably the stats and effects of leveling up)
  29. The Intro does a lot right. While you can’t level, you do have access to multiple weapons and armor, a good variety of enemy types in terms of defenses, attack patterns, and aggressiveness, it has tons of branching paths and good guidance, and is generally fun
  30. Generally decent kit in terms of tools, the quicksilver usage, and buffs
  31. Outro (the Wetnurse and Gehrman fights)
  32. Cainhurst (while it has some issues, there’s some cool stuff here, unique enemies and fun layouts)
  33. Aggregate: Shadows of Yharnam (variable attack styles which each cover each other’s ‘ranges’ and sweeps, which alter and change the further into the fight you go) // Amygdala (lots of nice big telegraphs, multiple safe zones, possible to ‘bait’, overall fun)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Save system, reliant autosave, one save slot, force ironman mode, etc.
  2. No pause, which is a problem for many reasons, not the least of which being RL happens
  3. Load times are… really, really bad in a game all about zoning to level and zoning on death
  4. Framerate and blur (without toggles) make me pretty nauseous while playing
  5. The camera issues are bad in general…
  6. …but they’re made even worse on every boss that’s especially large it becomes literally impossible to see what you’re doing at times, especially for enclosed arenas
  7. Getting stuck on terrain while dodging
  8. The run back problem is a bit less than in some Souls games but it’s still bad, which is especially irritating given how easy it’d be to bypass
  9. The Rom fight is a long, slow, boring fight that can two shot you which leads to redoing long, slow, boring fight over and over
  10. The Rom fight continues to be absolutely atrocious. It’s completely mandatory to progress (which makes it worse), the camera issues are awful given how difficult it is to see what to dodge when, there’s zero indicator of when meteor attacks are coming other than the animation which you have to be watching her to see for when it’s coming, the meteors themselves are very tight window to dodge
  11. The Nightmare Frontier is easily the worst designed area I’d seen in the game to date. The visuals, while certainly setting the tone, have the worst visual distinction I’ve seen in a while, with a lot of noisey details with grey on white on grey, and large areas of area denial (lots of tiny gravestones interrupting movement, the puke swamp preventing running) alongside enemies with reach and range (giants that fling rocks with supreme accuracy, Winter Lanterns that instantly kill you in seconds just by seeing you, etc.)
  12. Lock on. Binding it to R3 is already questionable, but the inconsistency with it locking on, losing lock on due to LoS, distance, hitting, or being hit… and the fact that if you ‘miss’ the lock on your camera swivels wildly… not great
  13. Chalice Dungeons. A side, optional place to grind is a nice thought but they’re confusingly laid out, boring as sin, and require you to do and redo and re re do them excessively to really ‘progress’ through them
  14. There are several areas of the game where the level design honestly just fails, which is especially weird in contrast to the places where it’s awesome
  15. Context sensitive jump screwing you out of dodge rolling
  16. Gross factor. The gross is so over the top and pervasive that it actively removes the enjoyment of the work and (more to the point) would have actually prevented me from playing the game by its presence
  17. Second gross negative and…
  18. …third, for being the grossest game I’ve ever reviewed. I mean, a newborn corpse monster attacking you with a placenta
  19. The Yar’gul area in general is not great (respawning trash, irritating fights that hit way too hard, not great lamp placement) buuut what pushes it to negative territory is that damned staircase. Lots of molotov throwing, suicidal, respawning hags on a crowded staircase with terrain you can get stuck in and around with a fast firing laser that nearly kills you
  20. Winter Lanterns. They have tons of health, their frenzy attack builds stupidly fast, their grapple basically guaranteed kills you, in several cases the only way I was able to kill them (with frenzy resist armor on) was to abuse i-frames of chugging sedatives
  21. The game has a bit of an overtuning issue. Even after spending some hours grinding, while taking care to keep gems and runes up to date, the ability to just straight up die (or get two shot by a boss) is pervasive throughout and it takes what could be challenging and interesting combat and (occasionally) changes it into ‘make no mistakes’ binary difficulty
  22. The need for grinding blood, bullets, and other mats (especially in early and mid game) is just egregious
  23. There are just too many things the game doesn’t properly explain in the game, in terms of weapons or item usage or whatnot
  24. Aggregate: Inability to set respawn without entering dream and exiting // Inability to warp without entering the dream and exiting

Metroid Dread

Probably my game of the year. Fantastic atmosphere, story, moments, bosses, levels, funneling. 100%’d just for fun, and while it has its flaws (boss health is a bit much, some mechanics are never explained, total lack of options) it’s still a fantastic game I hugely recommend.
Total Story Score: +28
Total Gameplay Score: +46
Cheats: Nope
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.34 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-12-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro. Good recap of Fusion, good usage of stylized semi animated stills to encapsulate both the tone and style of what happened
  2. Backstory and world building of Chozo tribes, Metroids, and X Parasites
  3. Voice acting on Adam AI (and everyone else)
  4. Animation, especially on Samus herself
  5. Storyboarding of cutscenes is well done
  6. Doodads are very well placed and presented…
  7. …leading to a second positive
  8. Visual storytelling and brickwork are fantastic…
  9. …leading to a second positive
  10. One of the best visual storytelling games I’ve seen. Full three positives
  11. EMMIs are wonderfully presented as this inhuman, terminator like thing, adding to the eponymous dread
  12. Cutscene smoothness. The cutscenes bleed in and out of gameplay seamlessly
  13. The music direction for the atmosphere of the game is legit
  14. The atmosphere in the game in general is the usual Metroid standard
  15. The entire entry to Elun sequence is just the right brand of terrifying
  16. The section where the planet starts cooling and actually changes the dynamic of several areas is awesome
  17. The music at all times informs and adds to the atmosphere, tone, and vibe…
  18. …oh, and a second plus for atmosphere in general
  19. Third plus to atmosphere
  20. Boss intros and Samus moments are good Cinematics that help add to the narrative
  21. Sound design similarly adds to the vibe and tone of things
  22. Burenia deserves special mention for its general presentation
  23. Cataris too
  24. External continuity (especially to Fusion)
  25. Visual Continuity is damned good
  26. Ferenia as well, lovely architecture and styling
  27. Foreshadowing with regards to Adam AI and Raven
  28. The Outro in general was fantastic. The confrontation with Raven, the resolution with the X Parasites, the sacrifice of the Quiet Robe-X…
  29. …leading to a second Outro positive

Story Negatives:

  1. Adam’s dialogue is a little bit excessive in repetition for stuff already demonstrated (in gameplay) said (by the menu) or said (by him)

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Map (color indicators, blinking on map to indicate items, EMMI locations, filling out where you’ve seen and where you’ve been, item indicators)
  2. Second map plus for the above points
  3. The first boss has a lot of fun patterns and is well tutorialized with multiple methods to fight it and is just fun
  4. Artaria is very funneled, in a good way, constantly shunting you forwards and tutorializing through actions
  5. Artaria itself deserves special mention for being very well designed just in general
  6. The escape magma sequence in Artaria was awesome (and the way they did it was fantastic, having the terrain ‘deform’ as you go but also indicate where you should go)
  7. Kraid. Great fight, great gimmicks, great phases, great recovery, great options
  8. EMMIs are fun in general, with a couple of exceptions, and the high pace or tension of their encounters works in the game’s favor
  9. QoL features (tractor range, blocks forever being visible, ability to re-check how things work, etc.)
  10. Enemy variety is fantastic…
  11. …with organic, technological, and escalating enemies as we move through
  12. The game does a great deal to funnel you at all times in a direction, sometimes overtly and sometimes not, but it’s always very well done
  13. Lots of good visual indicators of… well, everything. Blocks, enemies, attacks, etc.
  14. The flow of the game is insane…
  15. …to the point where it’s hard to even describe in words how smooth the entire game plays
  16. The controls, despite some small issues, are exceptionally well built
  17. The core combat is the usual amazingness
  18. The music is, at the very least, enjoyable to listen to
  19. Terrain is constantly being utilized in favor of the aforementioned funneling and at all times jumps and enemy placement are taken into account…
  20. …earning a second positive
  21. The game does backtracking very well…
  22. …very, very well. Very rarely is it the same type of experience the second time through…
  23. It’s just fun to go from point A to point B in this game, between the slide (which you start with) and the aforementioned terrain design
  24. The section where the planet starts cooling, actually changing not only the visuals but the terrain and navigation to compensate, is awesome
  25. Sound design always informs and aids in combat and exploration
  26. The difficulty curve is exceptionally well staircased
  27. The usage of the X Parasites as a way to escalate encounters as well as their significance to the story is awesome
  28. The animations in this game are absurdly good…
  29. …easily deserving a second positive
  30. The Chozo dragoon fights are quite fun, along with the Chozo bots
  31. The Experiment No. Z-57 fight is fantastically fun, with lots of enjoyable attacks which can be completely dodged (no damage tax here) and of course the quick kill option
  32. A third positive for informative and useful gameplay animations
  33. The spritework is excellent
  34. The brickwork is fantastic…
  35. …deserving of a second positive
  36. HUD is unintrusive and useful
  37. Guidance and flow of exploration positive number 3
  38. Multiple methods of refilling off of enemies depending on how you attack them…
  39. …and good thought put into item placement for the most part, leading to two pluses for Itemization
  40. Cataris level design
  41. Ferenia level design
  42. Dairon level design
  43. Burenia is easily one of the best levels in the game…
  44. …deserving two positives
  45. Elun despite its brief nature is still quite good
  46. Hanubia similarly gets a positive for its fun and presentation
  47. Kit (speed booster, grapple, scanner, diffusion beam, plasma beam, ice missile, super missile ,cloak, dash, morph, bomb, slide, magnet, double jump, storm missile, space jump, screw attack)…
  48. …is some damned good options and upgrades
  49. The lighting design (except for the EMMI sections) is just fantastic
  50. The game’s autosave checkpointing is quite well designed
  51. Replayability is good in general…
  52. …but between the quality of metroidvania’ness and the sequence breaking possibilities (which are accounted for) this is some good stuff
  53. The visual continuity in service of navigation is excellent
  54. The spark puzzles are varied, fun, and properly difficult
  55. The final boss (despite some issues) is legitimately very fun, with lots of varied and interesting attacks and multiple ways to counter all of them

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Unskippable cutscenes on first playthrough or watch
  2. The game isn’t necessarily ‘unfair’ about it but it sure does like its gotcha! design in fallout blocks
  3. While the boss designs are actually quite fun, the truth is they just have too much health and it slowly turns the boss fights from fantastic into irritating
  4. Info in game… and lack thereof. There’s just too many mechanics the game never explains at all
  5. There are several lighting and visibility issues related to the EMMI sections and some platforms which are literally just black bars
  6. There’s just a lack of options in the game.
  7. The final boss has just way, way too much health… which combined with the lack of mid boss checkpoints can make it slog a bit on retries
  8. Lazy difficulty in Hard Mode (health and damage)
  9. Aggregate: Unknown power up issues // EMMI confrontations and the Aurora padding fights

Doom 64

A surprisingly good game, essentially Doom 1 but better (very Expansion Effect). If you’re a fan of run and guns or just FPS in general I’d highly recommend giving it a whirl. Just have a walkthrough ready if you need it.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +16
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 7.8 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-24-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. The demo is, as usual, a well used form of tutorialization
  2. Sound design is surprisingly spot on and helpful for navigating, puzzles and enemies
  3. Itemization in terms of layout of drops of armor, ammo, and weapons across stages
  4. Specific and very careful placement of items, notably in small doses, which allows for the player to keep moving, pick up only what they need and leave the rest for later, visually indicate areas to either go to or that they have been at, and a few other things
  5. The map layouts in this game are legit
  6. No individual levels popped out at me, but level design was pretty good across the board
  7. Enemy AI remains surprisingly decent
  8. As per Doom standard, enemy placement is carefully thought out with good Encounter design
  9. The difficulty curve is quite smooth throughout
  10. The game’s controls and movement are exceptionally fluid, with the whole thing feeling very much like I’m in control the entire time
  11. The enemies are reasonably well designed and varied in how they attack you and how you avoid them
  12. Clever usage of the terrain being altered as you progress to allow for cutscenes and puzzles
  13. As usual, good arena design
  14. Good pacing in level design between puzzle, arena, and gauntlet stages
  15. The weapons are pretty basic but well designed despite that, and still fun to use
  16. Good core combat of run and gun
  17. Good, accessible save system (even saves projectiles!)
  18. Between secrets and general fun, the game is reasonably replayable

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Music is… atmospheric, ambient, and boring. I honestly wanted to just turn it off and listen to my own music
  2. Periodic walkthroughitis in specific puzzles

Force Unleashed Wii

I went in expecting a good romp with a bad story… and I got a good romp that got boring then actively bad by the end. Oh and a bad story. I… wouldn’t recommend this one, honestly.
Total Story Score: -6
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 7.8 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-25-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. The Intro does everything it needs to, setting up the time, the tone, and the hook
  2. Codex is, as usual, a nice way to include lore and development in the game
  3. General fun factor in being an unstoppable badass, especially in the…
  4. …combat animations, which don’t really inform the gameplay but add to the tone
  5. The plot (up to a certain point in the game) has a generally enjoyable vibe and feel; that of being a competent Inquisitor doing Vader’s bidding

Story Negatives:

  1. Rushed cutscenes. Every single cutscene is just a bit too rushed and a bit too clipped in the editing
  2. The story’s general pacing and story sequencing is actively bad, with very little proper connective tissue to establish each set piece
  3. The betrayal scene is, as usual, not great
  4. The ‘form the Rebellion’ plot is something that was already frustrating in how it retconned previous similar stories, but it doesn’t do the extra work it needs to make it interesting or engaging and so it comes across as trying to ‘rush to the good stuff’
  5. The Star Destroyer scene is a rare and awful example of cutscene over-competence and, worse, doesn’t actually present it well enough to be cool or awesome
  6. The directing and storyboarding of cutscenes actively detracts from them, to the point of making the game a bit wonky
  7. The external continuity in this game is… actively bad, feeling like cheap nostalgia or fan service rather than the good variety
  8. Love interest? I’m not sure I can call that ‘love’ or ‘interest’ but it sure was there
  9. The Dark Side ending was not great…
  10. …but the Light Side ending was absolutely terrible in every way. First we have the ‘if you kill him you’ll become him’ which is nonsense and irritating, then we have Marek being some kind of sacrificial glory figure who single handedly got the Rebellion going and…
  11. …honestly, it deserves a second negative for just being terrible

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Intro. Playing as Vader is fun in general, but it’s a great tutorial and a good ‘taste of power’ to get you an idea of where you’ll be
  2. Core combat is janky but very fun
  3. Legitimately good kit in terms of options for Force powers and moves
  4. Very good checkpoints, usually saving you at the spot you were at in a boss fight (or the most recent phase transition) and keeping progress in stages
  5. Second plus for good mid-encounter checkpoints
  6. Good itemization in terms of health drops, debris, and explosives for flinging
  7. There’s an enjoyable jank in the physics engine in how you fling stuff around

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Visuals being too murky and poorly lit to tell what you’re doing at times…
  2. …which is made worse by the camera not knowing what to do in the many close-quarter areas we fight in
  3. Wii waggle controls
  4. The enemy health problem is real, and it actively hurts the pacing of the levels
  5. The bosses are just too dull and padding, between too much health and long, long periods of invuln whenever they choose to
  6. The lack of enemy variety honestly detracts from the enjoyment of what should otherwise be enjoyable combat
  7. The Outro is honestly the worst stage in the game, essentially being every other problem in the game in one magnified location. Too many enemies with too much health and too much invuln and a too long boss fight

Ghost Trick

I was completely blown away by this game. Imagine a good visual novel, but better than normal, and also with surprisingly fun gameplay too. I cannot recommend this enough… if you can get ahold of a copy.
Total Story Score: +33
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 14.13 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-26-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Music always accents the scenes and helps keep things enjoyable
  2. Animation is, honestly, not just good…
  3. …it’s creative and clever, and perfectly accentuates each scene
  4. Brickwork is great throughout
  5. Localization is spot on
  6. Dialogue is (with some issues) fantastic
  7. Humor is generally quite good
  8. Square jaw, idiot cops, the bros in the precinct… generally good supportive cast
  9. Chapter 13 is just… really awesome, but it’s a bit beat by…
  10. …the reveals in Chapter 14
  11. Gameplay / Story Integration
  12. The big reveal at the end of Chapter 14
  13. General writing quality, especially with tight crafting of time travel
  14. Successful construction of intrigue
  15. The core plot is fantastic
  16. Good escalation of events…
  17. Chapters pacing is generally good
  18. Constant consequence storytelling
  19. Tons of internal continuity…
  20. …so much as to deserve a second positive
  21. Foreshadowing galore…
  22. …honestly a second positive for Foreshadowing
  23. Babylon 5 Effect is all over the place
  24. Style and tone
  25. The banter between Lynne and Sissel deserves special mention
  26. The optional ‘thoughts’ sequences added
  27. Missile. MVP of the entire game, honestly
  28. Sissel is a fascinating character…
  29. …with a great arc throughout
  30. Lynne remains a bright spot throughout
  31. Cabanela is not only a good red herring but well developed regardless
  32. Jowd, the Justice Minister, and Kamila are all quite enjoyable for what they are
  33. Yomiel is a surprisingly well done villain, his arc and presence well explained and his conclusion satisfactory
  34. The Outro has two major things that drag it down (the unnecessary Missile reveal and the unnecessary exposition) but is fantastic aside from that, with the trio uniting their powers to save the day and the ending showcasing all their fates

Story Negatives:

  1. Empty text problems periodically

Gameplay Positives:

  1. The game has a unique form of mid mission checkpoints in the form of being able to rewind both to the beginning of and the last major change of the ‘four minute’ segments
  2. The save system is smooth and intuitive and lets you save in the moment
  3. Music is, let’s be honest, legit
  4. Puzzles are pretty engaging and smooth
  5. Chicken Kitchen section
  6. Chapter 14 and the introduction of the new gameplay mechanics
  7. Gameplay / Story Integration
  8. Submarine section and all its various puzzles
  9. Generally high quality graphics
  10. Generally good Intro and tutorial in the initial Lynne salvation
  11. Mostly for the story side of things but there is a replayability factor involved

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Unskippable cutscenes when replaying
  2. Seconds in minutes problem in animations and repeats
  3. Occasional issues with puzzle logic

Surviving Mars

This game is great except when it’s awful summarizes it nicely. Don’t mistake me, I absolutely recommend you pick this one up, especially if you’re a fan of management sims. But don’t buy the Below & Beyond DLC, it has nothing good to it at all.
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +14
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 11.1 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-09-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Music really adds to the atmosphere
  2. Mystery events are fun little progressions
  3. Visuals really add some nice visual storytelling
  4. Generally good positive, grounded tone and atmosphere to the game

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Mod support…
  2. …and mod tools built in
  3. Challenges and the mutators they add to difficulty
  4. Well designed game rule mutators for more difficulty options
  5. Generally good setup options for starting a new game
  6. …second positive for setup options
  7. Music is wonderfully atmospheric and the perfect ambient music…
  8. …but gets a bonus for not only being good, but the variety of radio station options
  9. Milestones as a way to reward progress
  10. Mostly good at-a-glance Interface design
  11. Mostly good HUD and interface setup in general
  12. The infrastructure loop is nicely constructed and offers a great core mechanic of progression
  13. Lots of info is in game, though not all of it
  14. Generally excellent visual distinction
  15. Game is (obviously) replayable
  16. Early game is quite fun, challenging but not really overly anxiety-enducing
  17. The one-more-turn effect of sheer fun is definitely on display
  18. The animations and graphics are quite enjoyable
  19. The strong Early Game is very well founded, which naturally leads to a very strong mid game
  20. Terraforming, with one notable exception, is honestly quite fun to do. The results are enjoyable and rewarding, and there’s multiple methods and paths to progression
  21. Events are, as usual, a nice way to vary things up
  22. Creative mode is a great additional mode with tons of options to play however you want
  23. Aggregate: Tech tree (random option, can leap frog the tree, random breakthroughs) // Wonders (always useful, always worth it) // The shuttle AI is pretty legit, and the other AIs work… okay if you know what you’re doing

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Obtuseness of information and tutorial (out of date and doesn’t teach you everything)
  2. Periodic frustration in information. While some info is very accessible, other times it’s aggravating to figure out things, most notably with the colonists
  3. Unacceptable levels of bugginess with the underground DLC
  4. The Underground DLC is, honestly, just not worth it on any real level, being essentially just another map with less options
  5. Renegades are, honestly, terribly designed. Their existence itself isn’t that bad, but the fact that you can do almost nothing to or with them is nonsense
  6. There are periodic terrain issues which cause problems. Uneven terrain, issues with the passageways to domes (“Sir we level that mountain, there’s a pebble in the way!”)
  7. While terraforming in general is actually quite fun, the vegetation side of things is absolutely bonkers. It grows at an abyssmally slow pace, has no real alternate methods of progression other than a super slow factory or a once-per-10-day event, and after 40% one of those methods stops working entirely
  8. Usual bad microtransaction problems of any Paradox games
  9. Generally unfinished, unpolished game at launch

A Hat In Time

I cannot recommend this game enough. It is polished to a shine, with very few flaws in it, and while not super innovative is extremely fun to play.
Total Story Score: +19
Total Gameplay Score: +42
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 30 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-14-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. The Intro seriously sets up the vibes, tone, and atmosphere of the game as a whole and of course is generally well presented
  2. Camerawork is surprisingly good in cutscenes, very deliberately cartoonish but in a way that adds to scenes
  3. Visual storytelling for Mafia Town is generally great
  4. Visual storytelling in Subcon Forest
  5. Visual storytelling in the Alpine Skyline
  6. Visual storytelling in the Arctic Cruise… especially those darned adorable seals!
  7. Voice acting is a treat to listen to
  8. Generally fun atmosphere and tone
  9. Corgi Quest 7, The Leash That Binds
  10. Dead Bird Studio
  11. Murder on the Owl Express!
  12. Queen Vanessa’s Manor. Wonderfully done atmosphere, tension, and music
  13. The Snatcher fight and, more importantly, its conclusion. Lovely stuff
  14. Mustache Girl is interesting in her own right, both vulnerable and brutal, as well as her severe insistence
  15. The game is, at least periodically, genuinely amusing
  16. The Outro has some surprisingly good build up, an amusing climax, and a… weird ending
  17. The diary (while irritating to interact with) has some legitimately neat bits and characterization for Hat Kid
  18. Nyakuza Metro: Doodads, NPC Set dressing
  19. Nyakuza Metro: Atmosphere and tone, visual storytelling, food and flavor of said food

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Generally good options (speedrun options, lots of graphics options, etc.)
  2. Tutorialization. Hub world sets up basic movement, first stage gives us a moving target to teach us movement and interaction techs
  3. Mafia Town in general is really well laid out and fun to navigate
  4. The first few time pieces on Mafia Town are great fun to do and generally serve as a good Intro
  5. Music is delightful in general
  6. Special mention for the various boss songs
  7. The movement tech of the game is fantastic, flowing very smoothly and giving us a lot of options
  8. The first boss fight with the Mafia Boss was a treat
  9. Enjoyable escalation and design in the Mafia Rift levels (and they fix all the issues Mario Sunshine had… no FLUDDless, checkpoints, better aesthetics, and better physics)
  10. The first Dead Bird Studio stage was honestly delightful, even with the mandatory stealth (which it made acceptable due to non-binary fail states, clear indicators of visuals, and plenty of routes)
  11. Murder on the Owl Express! Fun routing, nice platforming, neat gimmick
  12. The train timer puzzle level
  13. Intro camera pans and hints in title and picture
  14. The final Dead Bird Studio stage was awesome. Great platforming and…
  15. …a very fun boss fight at the end
  16. Queen Vanessa’s Manor, my goodness that was fun
  17. With a few exceptions, you can choose your own route towards the 25 mandatory hourglasses (see: Mario 64)
  18. The spooky forest area is generally decent, not much standing out but overall enjoyable…
  19. …except the fight with Snatcher, which is legit awesome
  20. In the Alpine area, the entire Twilight Bell section was some very fun, creative platforming
  21. Magma cake section of Alpine area
  22. The entire Alpine format; one open area, no ‘kicking out’, doing things in whatever order… aka Mario Odyssey style
  23. Generally consistently well done Yoshi Drums (notable usage in the Alpine level)
  24. The game controls really well for a 3D platformer…
  25. …so much so it deserves a second positive
  26. As with other previous games like Mario 64, the choice of progression via yarn, gems, and hourglasses is nice (and not everything is required to ‘finish’ the game)
  27. Generally good kit in hats and badges
  28. Game has fun, if limited, co-op
  29. Game has built-in mod support
  30. Second positive for full mod support
  31. Usage of pons as indicators for where to go and where to jump, a la bananas or coins
  32. The final stage was fun, and the final boss was legit for the Outro
  33. The Arctic Cruise is neat in general but…
  34. …the ‘go get and deliver’ quests (first helping around, second evacuating the ship) are really fun and interesting, with the arrows helping with navigation
  35. Nyakuza Metro Pink Paw Manhole
  36. Nyakuza Green Station
  37. NyakuzaYellow Overpass
  38. Nyakuza Finale
  39. Generally good cosmetics
  40. Smooth difficulty curve (even into the optional stuff)
  41. The Death Wish stuff, while occasionally mean, is still meaty and enjoyable enough
  42. Generally good mid-mission checkpointing
  43. Vanessa’s Curse is a fun optional multiplayer mode
  44. Excellent visual distinction
  45. Generally good Replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. The utter aggravation of having to run all the way to the diary in between every single mission is just weirdly unnecessary padding that makes me actively not want to do it. (Also, can’t re-read older pages?)
  2. Some wonkiness in the physics of the ropes, odd angles in platforming, and other minor but consistent bugs
  3. Aggregate: Periodic bugginess in checkpoints // Occasional crashes // Occasional camera issues

Control

While it starts out a bit weird and a bit disjointed, stick with it. The story is phenomenal and the combat is at least fun (and there’s a built in cheat menu for when it becomes not fun).
Total Story Score: +29
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Cheats: Yes (Combat got boring)
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 32.14 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-18-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Audio, visual, reading lore in the forms of documents, audio tapes, and videos by Darling
  2. Voice acting is generally good
  3. Doodad design is very good…
  4. …easily second positive worthy
  5. Brickwork is fantastic as well…
  6. …to the point of being second positive worthy
  7. The sound design is on point and adds to the ambiance in general
  8. The atmosphere manages weird withount falling into the traps of ‘weird for weird’s sake’, maintaining surreality without losing its grip on its own rules…
  9. …which consequently also leads to a positive for Internal Continuity
  10. A second positive for Internal Continuity
  11. The Ashtray Maze was a great story moment, between getting the backdoor keys from Ahti in the Foundation to the moment itself to the Maze slowly progressing to helping us
  12. The Hiss possession hell is… exactly as horrifying as it should be
  13. The build up and pacing of the Ashtray, to the Hedron, to the Office Hell, is absolutely perfect
  14. Foreshadowing is pretty thorough, complimenting the internal continuity
  15. Babylon 5 Effect throughout interactions
  16. Ahti. ‘nuff said
  17. Emily Pope is surprisingly delightful and terrifying in her proper scientific demeanor
  18. Darling is not just a great character…
  19. …but is played by a fantastic actor
  20. The entire Mold section and everything about it is just the worst, in a good way
  21. The Hiss is reasonably well designed and presented
  22. The game has very strong internal Writing
  23. Trench is exceptionally well written and acted
  24. The Board is exactly what they need to be
  25. While it varies little, almost every area does Visual Storytelling in portraying the Bureau, and the areas it interacts with
  26. The game has good world building for the Bureau, as well as snippets of the outside world
  27. The overall themes in the work are often shown from multiple angles to allow them varying examination
  28. Aggregate: Mirror segment // Fridge duty, and poor poor Phillip // The Anchor // And various other // Jesse Faden starring in “Swift Platform”
  29. Aggregate: Jesse isn’t much, but she’s okay // FORMER doesn’t have the presence necessary to be a full positive, but is definitely interesting and engaging when its there
  30. DLC: The atmosphere of the entire AWE section was quite good
  31. DLC: Langston was okay in the main game, but really moved into being worthwhile on his own in the DLC
  32. DLC: Good External Continuity with connections to Alan Wake

Story Negatives:

  1. The actual ending, after the Outro, is… rushed, abrupt, and very unsatisfying
  2. Aggregate DLC: Sudden out of character Drama in Foundation // Another bad ending
  3. DLC: The AWE DLC, keeping the trend, just has a totally lackluster Outro and an honestly bad ending

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Graphics fidelity is legitimately excellent…
  2. …easily deserving a second plus by itself
  3. Good and varied built-in cheats…
  4. …which are not only activatable with no penalty, but gradient to allow you to customize the experience
  5. Mods in general offer decent, if not great, kit
  6. The autosave is pretty legit, almost always ensuring no lost progress
  7. The destruction physics are, let’s be honest, just plain fun to work with
  8. Surprisingly good visual distinction in combat despite issues
  9. There is an enjoyability to the powers, both in sound and in visuals
  10. The Ashtray Maze was easily the highlight of the game, with the level design, visuals, audio, and encounter being manually crafted to be awesome
  11. The Outro isn’t super amazing, but it does several things well (the Hedron defense was good, the office worker section was amazing… and optional!… but the final Hyper Beam Moment went on a bit too long)
  12. The game’s kit in powers is pretty fun, mostly in Launch which is just enjoyable in every way and well designed
  13. Special props to the levitate power
  14. General positive for boss design
  15. The game’s sound design really helps with combat sequences, and the aforementioned enjoyment of powers
  16. Built-in respec option in case you screw up or want to try something else out
  17. Aggregate: Mirror segment’s esseJ boss // Fridge duty, the FORMER fight // The Anchor clock boss // Jesse Faden starring in “Swift Platform” // And various other mini puzzles with Altered Items
  18. DLC: The Hartman fights in general were clever enough and enjoyable for what they were

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Raspberry jam is pretty bad
  2. Only one save, which is problematic for the usual reasons
  3. Dragon Age 2 Syndrome in trash spawns and respawns and re re spawns
  4. The Jukebox is honestly just kind of not really… designed. It feels thrown together with little thought into details (like lighting, visual distinction, number of enemies, pacing of combat, etc.) and comes across as just ultimately dull
  5. The difficulty ‘curve’ is… very wonky
  6. There are issues with visual distinction in several areas which cause problems
  7. Side quests are dull busy work
  8. The Preston Quests (the Bureau Alerts which pop up about every 20 minutes like clockwork, even in cutscenes, and get more annoying each time)
  9. Aggregate DLC: Pacing is just kind of awful // 2 crashes // Softlock with the warehouse puzzle // Visual distinction was awful on the final boss
  10. Aggregate: A combination of the combat dullness, trash problem, and side quest issues extending into the DLCs to the point where I was just sort of done with both
  11. Aggregate: There’s multiple issues with the shotgun-loot system, as the game just doesn’t support such a system in the way that it could and should // The map isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but there are times where I was just unable to tell where I was on it or where I needed to go or, worse, how to get there

Spec Ops The Line

An interesting idea which has some issues with execution, and honestly pretty bad gameplay. Worth a playthrough if you haven’t.
Total Story Score: +9
Total Gameplay Score: -9
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 7.35 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-28-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice acting is pretty darned good, especially with Walker
  2. The inter-party Banter is pretty legit
  3. The game consistently uses the sand and Dubai backdrop in direct contrast, Visual Storytelling in the opulent ruins
  4. Plot point of miscommunication and consequences thereof (first we end up shooting at the people we’re here to help, which leads others to think the cease fire is off, which leads to more killing)
  5. The literal physical descent throughout the game
  6. Barks changing throughout to communicate Walker’s descent
  7. Generally well done sound design in ways that add to the tone and atmosphere
  8. Willie Pete… and the entire scene surrounding it
  9. The animations always do a good job of showcasing the slow descent
  10. Walker and ‘Konrad’ are honestly both pretty engaging characters
  11. Good doodad utilization, especially in the later stages
  12. The Intro does a great job of establishing how tense, scary, and desperate the situation is

Story Negatives:

  1. Camera wobble (irritating, nauseating, actively ruins cutscenes)
  2. The structure of the plot actively defeats itself. Elite Delta spec ops team descending this fast and this hard just does not work…
  3. …and this really hurts the themes as well

Gameplay Positives:

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. The game, bizarrely, does not acknowledge that I have a mouse and keyboard and insists upon gamepad buttons… even with no gamepad even hooked up
  2. Raspberry jam issues, as per usual for this sort of thing
  3. Sluggish controls in general, but most notable when running or turning
  4. Aiming in general is… wrong, quirky, and off
  5. Cover controls don’t really work properly and are very context sensitive… usually in the wrong way
  6. The entire ‘run from the Helicopter’ sequence is needlessly annoying. It’s too easy to die from what is essentially random chance, the cutscene plays each time, and its hurt by the slippery running controls
  7. Core combat is just… not fun. The gunplay is bad, the gun selection is boring, the combat scenarios are boring, and there’s too many of them
  8. The Outro is… not good, gameplay wise. The final fight is just one super long slog of waves after waves of enemies in poor conditions and honestly just got boring
  9. Aggregate: Periodic camera issues // Flashing lights sequence // Shopping mall turret sequence (irritations with controlling the turret, far too many enemies, no real challenge or fun)

Far Cry New Dawn

This… isn’t a good game. The gameplay has some legitimate positive points and was reasonably fun (especially with a friend), but the story is honestly really, really bad.
Total Story Score: -13
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 13.45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 12-30-2021

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Doodad design is legitimately well presented throughout
  2. A surprisingly reasonable amount of NPC Set Dressing in the form of events and characters that spawn around you constantly
  3. Aggregate: Dean is surprisingly amusing // Selene is weirdly one of the more interesting protagonist characters in the game, alongside… // Charlamagne, who was legit

Story Negatives:

  1. The Intro… sucks. It sucks so badly because not only does it fall into the cliche and stereotypical tropes, but when we have our ‘big confrontation’ with the Twins, it does everything wrong
  2. Most of the cutscenes are honestly just… lacking, in motion capture, camera usage, voice acting
  3. The Twins are, in their entirety, awful characters. They should be either threatening (like Handsome Jack) or pathetic (like Vasquez) but instead they’re just badly written and badly presented
  4. The Twins honestly deserve a second negative, especially for the entire way the game fails to portray them then fails to make them sympathetic while failing to make you care about them
  5. The game has a lot of gameplay/story segregation in the disconnect between the two
  6. The main character is consistently a moron, doing incredibly stupid things that no sane or sensible person would do, purely to drive the plot
  7. The entire scene with Rush’s death and the Twins is bad enough to deserve a separate negative
  8. Pretty much everything to do with the Prison mission, the Derby mission, and the following cutscene
  9. An utter failure to capitalize on Joseph and Ethan as characters
  10. A bizarre attempt to make the villains sympathetic at the last second without earning it in any way shape or form
  11. The Outro is bad. It’s not just regular bad, it’s actively irritating bad, narratively. Utterly unearned, utterly frustrating, and it actually pissed me off…
  12. …leading to a second negative
  13. The game has no idea what kind of atmosphere or tone it wants, instead just bouncing back and forth between wacky and serious and failing at both
  14. The game actually fails at following through on its own consequences, things just sort of happening
  15. The game practices cutscene incompetence as regular concept
  16. The music direction is lacking in general but the usage of generic ‘sad music’ to evoke feeling at the death of the villains was whatever

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Proper campaign co-op which, as usual…
  2. …is worth two positives
  3. Selene’s recruitment mission was weirdly well done, between the valves puzzles and the variety in interactions
  4. Genuinely well designed, well presented graphics and…
  5. …brickwork, really helping sell the valley
  6. Good usage of color distinction to help Visual Distinction
  7. Various smaller QoL features that help make the game smoother to play
  8. Reasonably well designed fast travel
  9. Companions are legitimately useful…
  10. …but none more so than both animals, which in addition to working differently thanks to the different AI, have their own quirks (marking things on the map or just being a death machine) that really help
  11. Enemy AI is reasonably well done, making it so that they not only seek and find and shoot but also you can work around it
  12. The fight against the inner soul bear was legit
  13. The game has pretty good checkpointing throughout
  14. Expeditions are reasonably fun and rewarding
  15. Reasonably good info in game (usually in tooltips)
  16. Between the guns and perks the game has reasonable Kit
  17. Surprisingly well designed and informative map

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Lazy difficulty
  2. Microtransactions
  3. Microtransactions which are shoved into our face semi frequently (you could earn this OR buy it with real money!)
  4. Music loops are just too short, and honestly get old pretty fast or, worse, don’t play at all
  5. The game is designed around bottlenecked resources from various sources which encourage grind or… spending money in the in-game store
  6. Raspberry jam
  7. The entire prison infiltration mission is badly designed from word go. It’s seemingly open ended but is in fact very railroaded and thanks to how the game handles perks and interactions with enemies, it’s very possible to be pseudo softlocked depending on your build at the time
  8. The post-game and end-game are both just… grind the same events on hard/harder difficulty, over and over
  9. The Outro is not super well designed. It’s exceptionally forced, and essentially is just fighting the Twins (with tons of health) and then a big dude who hits hard and has weak points

Parasite Eve

A flawed but interesting game, which tries new and unique gameplay concepts and plays with its narrative, but ultimately is brought down by some seriously bad execution and honest boredom. Still worth a playthrough if you haven’t.
Total Story Score: -1
Total Gameplay Score: -6
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.47 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-04-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. The game is, let’s be honest, very cheesy
  2. The visuals of the game, while actively bad for gameplay, nevertheless do present good and well designed brickwork to add to the tone
  3. Aya is alright (awesome at the beginning) and Daniel is pretty legit throughout, even despite the false drama
  4. The Intro is actually a really good hook and teaser, getting you interested and involved immediately

Story Negatives:

  1. I’ve seen worse Localizations, but this one isn’t good
  2. Cutscene incompetence is a fairly common thing
  3. The just out of character, awful, incompetent, everything about the ‘big confrontation’ with Klamp
  4. Outro… the entire out-of-nowhere humans are viruses, we are evil, anti-human message is dumb to begin with but has no real place in this game
  5. The plot is, if taken seriously, honestly just terrible

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music is, as usual for Shimomura, legit
  2. Core combat is an interesting idea, full action and 2d movement but ‘pauses’ to take actions, which are then commits
  3. Transferring upgrades, meaning no penalty for upgrading as you go
  4. The difficulty curve is pretty solid
  5. The power progression curve is reasonably smooth
  6. Staircase leveling with stat distribution and worthwhile exploration
  7. Gun customization is actually pretty cool in how you can move ‘perks’ as well as stats around across the game
  8. The Intro is probably the best dungeon in the game, doing everything it needs to and really getting you into the dodge / fight mechanics

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Slow move speed which just makes the game irritating across the board
  2. Interface obtuseness in what works how and how to access what
  3. Tiny, irritating inventory…
  4. …made worse by quest items and equipment taking up inventory
  5. Visual Distinction (chests, interactables)… so it’s legitimately hard to see some interactables and loot items
  6. Walkthroughitis is pretty bad in this one, especially thanks to the aforementioned problem
  7. Combat arena design (too small or with too many obstacles to properly dodge or take advantage of the combat) or, let’s be honest, lack thereof
  8. Unskippable cutscenes
  9. The sewer level. It’s long, easy to get lost in, but commits the worst sin of literally having copy-paste visuals
  10. The museum just… sucks. Repetitive song, the camera angle problems, navigation is awful, literal discontinuity in visual elements, just… the worse
  11. Lack of information in game about mechanics and specifics (icons, EP regen, etc.)
  12. The Eve and Eve 2 boss fights at the end of chapter 4
  13. Outro… is not good. The final boss fight is not well designed in general, very irritating to dodge, very easy to screw up without a careful plan of action, which involves a huge amount of rewatch and irritation…
  14. …and then after that is the escape sequence, which it’s possible to die on with no recovery if you make a mistake with no warning thereof (and heaven help you if you didn’t save right before)

Modern Warfare Remake

This game is much better than I originally expected. Taking and expanding upon many ideas of the original, the game is fun on the gameplay axis and legit on the story one. A definite recommended.
Total Story Score: +18
Total Gameplay Score: +22
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 5.9 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-11-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. London Attack did a lot right, between the civilians and the visuals
  2. Price’s decision is a surprisingly well done, great scene and really gets across everything it needs to
  3. Voice acting is reasonably good
  4. Motion capture is decent for most scenes, but shines more in actual combat ‘cutscenes’
  5. Doodad utilization is top notch…
  6. …especially with how varied it gets switching between urban and ruined areas
  7. Sabotage helicopters mission did a lot to exposit and demonstrate the stakes and scope of the conflict in Madeupistan
  8. Farah’s flashback hits good points but what really caught me was the simple humanity in people helping each other
  9. Sound direction really helps with scenes, despite the audio problem
  10. The entire Farah flashback deserves a second positive for absolutely nailing so many things, especially the gameplay/story integration of playing as a helpless child
  11. Kyle and Alex don’t have much going for them (due to being playables) but what they do have is legit
  12. Price is as awesome as he usually is
  13. Farah makes for a good central protagonist of the story
  14. While not technically ‘banter’ the military chatter is on point
  15. A second positive for Price who is just… perfect in this. A true spec ops
  16. Also a positive for the Butcher interrogation scene
  17. Hadir works surprisingly well for someone who’s essentially an antagonist; The boy who didn’t really understand until he stepped in it, but handled it surprisingly well
  18. The game is reasonably well paced

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Mid mission checkpoints…
  2. …are actually really good
  3. Intro (chlorine base) does a lot right, alternating between loud and soft and keeping the pace good
  4. Sabotage helicopter mission and multiple paths (go loud, go quiet, avoidance)
  5. Siege the base mission (good pacing, variety of arenas, and variety of attacks between planes, ground pounding, and the gunship)
  6. The guns have pretty good viscerality to them, feeling and more importantly sounding good
  7. The house infiltration mission was short but dense, lots of good tense moments that test the player’s reflexes
  8. Capturing the wolf mission
  9. Embassy escort mission
  10. Hold the line sniper field mission
  11. The long range sniper duel at the Highway
  12. The Princess Peach segment with young Farah is very well done, suitably checkpointed to avoid irritation and suitably dangerous to emphasize the point
  13. Also the Gameplay/Story Integration (Farah’s sequence, but also elsewise)
  14. Kit in weapons and tossers
  15. Variance in mission style leads to good pacing
  16. Enemy AI is well designed, trying to flank and otherwise but also ‘flush’ the player in the direction they ‘should’ go and adapt to charge or defense styles equally
  17. Infiltrate after Hadir mission, going after the Wolf (and disabling the bomb)
  18. The Going Dark mission is easily the best mission in the game to-date…
  19. …easily earning a second positive for its freeform, ‘target + tools = figure it out’ design. It also allows for gaining and losing aggro without failure states
  20. Core run and gun combat is well designed and fun
  21. Difficulty curve is generally quite smooth in its ups and downs relative to the mission at hand
  22. Encounter design is interesting. It’s usually bog standard, but there’s enough thought into arena design and civilian interaction to keep it interesting
  23. The game is impressive graphically (when you can see it)
  24. Replayability is, as usual for the good Call of Duties, good
  25. Aside from the audio balance, the sound design is good. It accents the scenes and it helps with positioning
  26. A second positive for really great viscerality to the guns

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Microtransactions
  2. Raspberry jam
  3. Visibility is just a problem in the game. It’s neat for the story axis but sucks on the gameplay one
  4. The audio balance is just not correct, having the ‘too soft and also too loud’ problem

Wolfenstein Youngblood

Do not play this game.
Total Story Score: -14
Total Gameplay Score: -30
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 9.74 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-12-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. The Brickwork is, despite everything, quite good, really selling the look of occupied Paris and Nazi deco
  2. Doodads, similarly, are quite well designed
  3. Abby is actually pretty legit overall

Story Negatives:

  1. The entire setup after the Intro is… bad. It’s awkwardly constructed and feels more Scooby Doo than anything else, but not in a good way
  2. The dialogue is… not good…
  3. …easily worth a second negative
  4. The voice acting on the girls is bad in general
  5. The Girls themselves are honestly very unpolished and badly written
  6. The story sequencing is honestly pretty bad, with events just sort of stumbling into each other with no rhyme or reason
  7. The ‘banter’ between the sisters is honestly awful and pulls me out of it completely…
  8. …and, worse, it’s very repetitive even in a short period of time
  9. The ‘big reveal’ scene for the general was bad, bad, bad
  10. The External Continuity of this game actively makes it worse, especially with so much story happening off camera (including Hitler’s death by BJ)
  11. Side missions are actively bland and boring
  12. Music direction actively ruins the usage of otherwise decent music
  13. The core Plot is, honestly, pretty bad
  14. Voice Direction is just… weird and wrong throughout
  15. World Destruction is well on display, especially regarding decades-occupied Paris
  16. The Outro is bad in almost every way, but most especially in how it feels disjointed, nonsensical, and then ends on a ‘now keep doing what yer doing!’…
  17. …easily earning a second negative

Gameplay Positives:

  1. General graphics quality
  2. Full campaign co-op (though it has issues)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Lack of pause
  2. HUD design (lack of indicators on edges of map, or flat out not working at certain distances)
  3. Enemies are honestly entirely too spongey
  4. Far too many enemies per encounter design
  5. Viscerality of guns is honestly bad, most of them being boring or scarcely different to use
  6. Co-Op AI is awful
  7. Bugs (crashed, can’t interact with things at close range, can’t play with controller plugged in)
  8. Overworld design and zone design is honestly pretty bad
  9. Brother 1 is an awful first dungeon, with no real thought put into anything
  10. Item distribution is bad, almost always just scattered wherever in ways that don’t really line up or make sense
  11. Visual clutter and chaos
  12. Always online DRM
  13. Always online when unnecessary
  14. Enemies level scale, making levels and progress essentially useless (and the other associated problems)
  15. The minimap is actively unhelpful, not keeping track of things like doors or height differences
  16. All the ‘dark areas’ are actively badly designed. It’s so dark it’s almost impossible to see without the flashlight, the flashlight prevents you from using real guns, too many enemies with too much health and armor, and of course the flashlight sucks in its own right… and finally, the enemies have no problems seeing
  17. The upgrade weapon system A: Takes too long to even reach and B: Isn’t interesting in any sense of the word
  18. The side quests are dull as dishwater, but made worse by the other problems with the game (dark zones, bad map, etc.)
  19. Brother 2 is just as bad as Brother 1
  20. Brother 3 wasn’t fun either
  21. The repeated giant boss fight is… not great the first time we fight it, nevermind the other four times
  22. Actively bad mid mission checkpoints
  23. Lab X is just as bad as the others
  24. Difficulty curve. The game’s level scaling makes leveling actually lower your overall output and, worse, the AI can’t keep up
  25. Softlock probabilities with ammo not restoring upon death
  26. Co-Op AI negative mk. 2
  27. The audio spam during combat is honestly pretty bad
  28. The core combat is excessively padded and honestly gets old very, very fast
  29. Very lazy difficulty options
  30. Save system is… not great
  31. The Outro was bad. Long, boring boss fights against an enemy with far too much health and no interesting mechanics
  32. In addition to that, the Hyperfail Moment of getting the God’s Key just… bleh’d

Ion Fury

A fun, well designed callback to the days of Quake 2 and Duke Nukem 3D. If you’re fond of run and guns, this is a good game to pick up.
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +23
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-14-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork is surprisingly good for the style and Build engine
  2. Humor & references
  3. Doodads are actually really well done throughout
  4. Visual continuity as we move through the city, base, out through the sewers, and into the countryside
  5. The voice acting is decent enough, mostly from Proton, to be enjoyable as is

Story Negatives:

  1. The Outro was weirdly… absent. We beat the last boss, there’s two quick splashes of stills, and that’s kind of… it

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Movement and shooting are very fluid and smooth, good combat
  2. The controls are very tight
  3. Item distribution is quite good most of the time
  4. The Capital Offense / Fan Service level was really clever and fun to play through
  5. The Intro does everything it needs to; gives you a level with lots to play with and gets you into the action immediately, but also gets across ideas of how the map, level geometry, platforming, shooting, and dying work
  6. Capital Offense / Reformation Plaza. It’s just an encounter arena, but it’s quite well designed. Good slopes and obstacles to hide behind, good distribution of recovery, and great encounter design
  7. Weapon kits (alt fire) are good
  8. Enjoyable viscerality
  9. Good Enemy variety even relatively early on
  10. Level design density
  11. Encounter design is really very good…
  12. …doing a lot with a little and always thinking about the combinations of terrain and enemy placement
  13. Night on the Town in general
  14. Downtown Disaster Relief in general
  15. Institutionalized in general
  16. The train stage
  17. The Underground in general…
  18. …but especially the entire water/airflow section
  19. The Revenant 8991-PX fight is actually pretty legit, with a good arena, optional bonus stuff, and a good pattern and weakpoint (plus infinite spray ammo nearby)
  20. The countryside section was pretty fun…
  21. …especially the house area
  22. Music is pretty good throughout
  23. The Outro has a few issues, but the boss arena is quite well designed in layout, items, and monster spawns
  24. Good and reasonably smooth difficulty curve
  25. Generally good save system
  26. The sound design really helps with identification and navigation throughout
  27. Generally good replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Guidance and flow of navigation is honestly pretty vague at points
  2. Some visibility problems periodically
  3. The mega thug brute boss fight could be much worse, but it’s still bad. High health, spread fire, anti-melee, randomly moving bosses in a very small and contained space with zero terrain to maneuver in
  4. There are periodic droughts in itemization which are most easily explained by the game essentially expecting you to get the Secrets, but the Secrets aren’t so much ‘hidden’ as ‘placed where nothing indicates they’re there’ so… this is ultimately a negative for the X-Ray Mentality of the secrets (a form of Walkthroughitis)

Titanfall 2

While there’s some places where the game is a bit lacking, it’s still one of the better designed FPSs of the last few decades. Fun, engaging, brilliant… It should be mentioned that this review completely ejects the multiplayer component, due to the ongoing issues.
Total Story Score: +11
Total Gameplay Score: +35
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 7.42 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-15-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. The Intro does a lot very quickly and very efficiently
  2. The visual storytelling of the factory level
  3. Effect and Cause. ‘Nuff said… except…
  4. …we need to mention even more, because between the audio logs, the reactions of the troops, the realization, the construction of the closed time loop, it’s really very well done
  5. Visual storytelling in general
  6. Doodads are very well presented…
  7. …especially in the levels with actual people in them
  8. Voice acting is generally well done
  9. BT is easily the best character in the game, arguably the protagonist
  10. Internal continuity, plot, and dialogue are all generally good (writing plus)
  11. Storyline pacing is good, even when ramping up throughout there’s still dips and pauses and good bridges
  12. Protocol 3: Protect The Pilot

Story Negatives:

  1. The Outro (with one notable exception) is just… flat, barely there and generally bleh

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Good, built in tutorial which doesn’t just explain info but actually gives a course designed around getting adjusted to regular, advanced, and complex movement
  2. Intro is brilliantly constructed, with terrain, encounters, and placement all designed in a very dense, relatively small area to get you used to stealth, wall running, combat, Titan features, and melee without actually requiring any of that…
  3. …so much so I’m giving it two positives for sheer quality of design
  4. The entire factory level is legit, as you slowly make your way through the obstacles and the… pieces slowly chunk together
  5. Effect and Cause is a well designed mission in general….
  6. …but is made even better by not only introducing an absolutely fantastic mechanic in the time alteration but…
  7. …the way it completely alters the format and tone of combat
  8. General graphics quality
  9. Sound design is quite good, and…
  10. ….like all good sound design, actually assists in enemy location and identification
  11. Visual distinction is generally excellent (especially on interactables)
  12. HUD is really truly excellent on almost every level. Good visual and audible indicators, plus nice big obvious flashes and the like for ‘events’ which keep you informed on every little detail without distracting from the action…
  13. …and so easily earns a second positive
  14. Enemy AI is quite good, and also…
  15. …keeps track of position and does things like maneuver and outflank while operating under limited intel
  16. Weapon variety kit is the Modern Warfare standard…
  17. …with weapons feeling and operating quite differently from each other
  18. Weapon viscerality is great, sure…
  19. …but the Titan viscerality is excellent
  20. QoL Features (gun descriptions, toggle aiming, toggle crouch/sprint, leeway on wall jumping, the little blue splashes when time altering)
  21. Fun platforming in the power station and radar dish area
  22. Mid mission checkpointing is generally good
  23. The mad dash to the Draconis was fun in general but also a good (and arguably first) showcasing of real Titan v Titan gameplay
  24. The Hyperbeam Moment of the Smart Gun is exactly as awesome as it needed to be, but was followed up by the unlock of the Legion mode for BT, making it even better
  25. Titan viscerality x2, especially Scorch, Ion, Northstar, and Legion
  26. Titan loadouts provide good kit
  27. Enemy variety and labeled Titans
  28. Boss titans in the Apex Predators
  29. The game controls quite well…
  30. …and the game’s core combat is quite enjoyable
  31. The difficulty curve is still quite well designed
  32. Encounter design is generally well done throughout
  33. Pacing is, as per the Modern Warfare standard, very well done, weaving between moments, modes, objectives, and keeping it flowing well…
  34. …leading to a second pacing positive
  35. Generally good replayability
  36. Traversal mechanics, try to be surprised, are quite good…
  37. …especially when the terrain is designed to take advantage of said movement

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. The game difficulty options primarily adjust health and damage, and also make the enemies melee much worse (so… lazy difficulty)
  2. Aggregate: Too loud – too soft problem // Lack of audio options, leading to some problems with audio designs

System Shock 1 Enhanced

An honestly bad game… but better than it should be, and a game with very clear heart and some great concepts. It’s obvious why this game started so many trends and concepts. Recommend a playthrough if you haven’t (and… probably use a walkthrough)
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: -8
Cheats: Yes (to skip two irritating sections)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 13.85 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-18-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Audio logs are, as usual, a neat way to exposit (especially since they can play while the game keeps going)
  2. SHODAN is great, even here back in the day
  3. The brickwork is, surprisingly, quite well done
  4. Intro has some hiccups (mostly the cinematic) but it does a good job of setting the stage and getting you into the vibe of ‘after the horror’
  5. There’s something wonderfully down-to-earth about the core plot; a VP nobody wants to cover his tracks so he launches all this nonsense, and it’s wonderfully horrible

Story Negatives:

  1. Voice acting is… not good, at best (aside from SHODAN), sounding like they brought in the intern from across the hallway
  2. …a second negative for truly awful voice acting
  3. The Outro is absent at best, and actively anti-climactic at worst

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Difficulty options are honestly surprisingly well done (especially for the time)…
  2. …leading to a second positive for sheer customization and options
  3. Upgrades actually upgrading game interface and mechanics
  4. Level layout and general logic to design is actually quite well done
  5. Intro does a lot right, really adding to the survivability vibes and rewarding you for slowly expanding your search circle
  6. Itemization is reasonably well distributed throughout
  7. Visual continuity is surprisingly good in most levels, making it hard to get lost or turned around (with a couple of exceptions)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Music is either bad or bugged, but either way the result is bad…
  2. …bad… bad…
  3. …bad. This is one of the worst game soundtracks I’ve ever heard
  4. Controls are honestly awful, requiring too many clicks for too many things, and are only salvaged from more negatives by some modern convenience features
  5. Lack of indicators for multiple things
  6. Info in game is almost non existent
  7. Sound design is bad in general, but the audio balancing has severe issues…
  8. …so even if you mute the music, the game’s sound FX can be legitimately painful
  9. Level 3 is the worst. Hard to see enemies, confusing samey layout, too dark in general, and no rez spot
  10. The Beta Grove is a bit silly. Respawning enemies in a biohazard area while dealing with a (small) maze where (and this is the part that pushes it into negative territory) if you die, you… die, unlike the other groves
  11. The backtracking and dullness of the first two ‘quests’ just… suck
  12. The game has… pretty bad walkthroughoutis throughout
  13. The ‘overload the reactor’ mission is an exceptionally bad example of backtracking (and nothing really warns you that you can bypass most of that backtracking early on)
  14. The cyberspace sections are disorienting as hell, and worse absolutely nothing is explained in the game proper without just trial and error
  15. Audio spam is pretty bad when near enemies, or worse when in radiation areas

Innovator: Audio logs, as well as the beginning of the ‘immersive sim’ genre

Prey 2017

Despite some irritations, the truth is this is a very good game, which is absolutely worth a playthrough. Or two.
Total Story Score: +23
Total Gameplay Score: +30
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 27.10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-21-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice acting is legitimately good throughout…
  2. …sufficient to earn a second positive
  3. Alex is easily one of the best characters in the game, owing at least partially to his fantastic voice actor
  4. January is an interesting commentor (optional, even) on the events of the game and, of course, serves as a viewpoint for the theme of identity
  5. Brickwork is just legit throughout…
  6. …easily earning a second positive
  7. Doodads are excellent in general
  8. Audio logs continue to be excellent, as they usually are for Shock games…
  9. …not just for their method of world building, but also for the audio design involved
  10. The lighting is well designed in most areas
  11. The background lore found in Research, emails, etc.
  12. The Intro was quite well done, essentially hooking us with one mystery immediately followed by another
  13. The atmosphere of the entire space section is legit
  14. The story sequencing is legit in general, especially owing to…
  15. …the All Roads Lead To Rome style of quest design, which allows for a multitude of branching in how you do what
  16. The Looking Glass mechanic is a great storytelling tool
  17. Sarah and Calvino are nice support cast
  18. Abigail and Danielle’s story is awesome in its own right
  19. Generally good (and kept-track-of) supporting cast
  20. The Apex just looks… beautifully, horrifyingly realized
  21. Mikhaila was enjoyable, but her story arc and background lore made it better
  22. Igwe is in a similar place, somewhat under-utilized but still quite good (and brilliantly voice acted)
  23. Foreshadowing throughout of the big reveal
  24. The Outro has some great ideas, really turns a lot of the game on its head, and introduces some final themes…
  25. Consequence Storytelling is really good except when it’s not
  26. Dialogue is quite well written throughout
  27. Visual continuity really contributes to the layout, feel, and vibe of the station
  28. Lots of decent world building throughout (JFKs fate, the Russians, etc.)

Story Negatives:

  1. Music direction (and absence thereof)
  2. …second negative for lengthy absences of music, making the game far more irritating than it should be
  3. Jump scares and chords
  4. …the Outro is terribly presented. Very anti-climatic, and entirely too abrupt
  5. …the thing is, the NPC interactions are just too… dry, often completely ignoring events (including ones that happened seconds ago) which just detracts from the moment

Gameplay Positives:

  1. The first real showcasing of what neuromods are made of, and the decision to save or damn the prisoner
  2. Intro does the usual good stuff of introducing us to things as we learn how to use them, and guiding us in the stealth, combat, platforming, puzzle nature of the game
  3. Enemy AI is reasonably good
  4. Item distribution
  5. Good save system (autosaves, multiple quick saves/quick loads, static saves, all convenient)…
  6. …for two positives
  7. The entire Nightmare mechanic (and enemy design)
  8. Level design positive for the Arboretum
  9. Level design positive for the Crew Quarters
  10. Level design positive for Deep Storage
  11. Level design positive for the Hardware Labs
  12. Level design positive for the Lobby
  13. Level design positive for the Psychotronics area
  14. Level design positive for the Shuttle Bay
  15. Level design positive for the Cargo Bay
  16. Level design positive for the Power Plant
  17. Level design positive for the outside in general (space!)
  18. All Roads Lead To Rome quest design in general
  19. Inventory management is reasonably well designed
  20. After some thought, I do think the gathering / crafting loop is pretty legit, especially with how it allows you to decide what to salvage, what to make, and of course there’s options to give you even more resources to manage
  21. Enemy variety is legitimately quite good
  22. Mimics deserve special mention for their simple but effective gimmick
  23. The GLOO gun is an awesome bit of kit for multiple reasons…
  24. …the added platforming, the complete bypassing of level design, the fact that multiple areas were clearly made with it in mind, the massive (and regular… and easy) access to nearly infinite ammo for it…
  25. The magic abilities are, by themselves, fantastic kit
  26. There’s wonderful gun variety… sure there’s a shotgun and a pistol, but there’s also the GLOO, a stun gun, a grenade that turns things into resources…
  27. …sufficient that it warrants a second positive for shee creativity
  28. When side quests are good, they’re quite good, usually avoiding the problems of the bog-standard X of Y
  29. Gameplay pacing is excellent. There’s almost constant bridges between high intensity and low, and it’s often at the choice of the player how and when…
  30. …earning a second pacing positive
  31. Backtracking terrain and enemy variance as we go
  32. Good difficulty curve as enemies escalate
  33. Good New Game +
  34. Generally enjoyable Replayability…
  35. …but of course the variance in paths, routes, and builds leads to a second Replayability positive
  36. Choices gameplay
  37. The sound design generally lends itself towards helping you identify, find, or otherwise deal with enemies in the game
  38. Mooncrash: The overall core mechanic conceit of picking someone, ‘gearing up’ prior to a run, and planning your route to accommodate is a good one

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Usual lazy difficulty options
  2. Menu issues, clearly not built for M&K
  3. The Crew Quarters has several issues, including desperately trying not to kill the people there while simultaneously dealing with 50 other issues, but the thing that pushes this into negative territory is the mind control typhons have just too much God damned health
  4. Side quests can be good, but some can also be needlessly obtuse or gated which, ultimately, just leads to them being padding
  5. Sound balancing issues
  6. The Outro is, ultimately, just disappointing and doesn’t really … do anything other than be there
  7. Mooncrash: The game does backtracking much worse than the vanilla game, essentially requiring you to go back over the same areas with no real variance over and over in order to fulfill an ever-moving goalpost of victory
  8. Mooncrash: The game does not feel properly designed to fit the overall gameplay loop. Each ‘attempt’ is entirely too long, and entirely too easy to lose progress in, making progression in general more irritating than challenging or fun

Sunless Sea

A great story wrapped in an awful game. Worth it if you cheat to enjoy the excellent writing.
Total Story Score: +12
Total Gameplay Score: -8
Cheats: Yes (screw it)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 17.30 Hours
Time Reviewed: 01-25-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Dialogue is smart, snappy, and varied
  2. Writing is just generally high quality
  3. Branching narrative in many respects
  4. World building is consistent throughout
  5. Events are wonderful and enjoyable
  6. Flavor text really adds to things
  7. Atmosphere of creepy, horrible ichiness
  8. Humor… which help offset the horribleness
  9. The Monkey Foundling event by itself was awesome
  10. Visual detail of the overworld
  11. Internal continuity is very tight, the game is surprisingly self consistent
  12. The missions (the ones you can actually do) are well written and interesting

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boardgame approach to mechanics // token system
  2. Branching choices and options
  3. Interlocking systems that allow for good core mechanics
  4. Events are quite fun ways to keep things spiced and engaging
  5. CYOA sections are equally fun and offer multiple paths forwards
  6. The music, when it’s there, is good
  7. Reasonably good guidance and flow of exploration in the map (and the bat)
  8. Despite issues, the game does a lot to encourage replayability in quest design and events

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Interface and interface options are honestly not well designed, and legitimately hard to read
  2. Early game hell
  3. Balancing in general
  4. Bugs with saves
  5. The inconsistent usage of music is actively irritating
  6. The in-game economy is incredibly unbalanced, with things costing too much and methods of acquisition being inconsistent, limited, or miniscule…
  7. …leading to a second negative, as this effectively means the attrition of the game is always shoving you back in ways that can only be described as ‘not thought out’
  8. The middle-game has issues in its own right due to almost every substantial quest or story arc being locked behind random (or in some cases, random on top of random) items to progress
  9. The combat is… boring. Basic, disinteresting, no tactics, boring. It’s also a waste of everything to even do
  10. The progression across loops system is already ‘not good’, but what pushes it into negative territory is the forced repeat of the awful early game system
  11. The lack of info in game is almost criminal given how much there is and how it can be used
  12. Sailing. Sailing is dull as dishwater and, ultimately, gets old very very fast
  13. The difficulty curve is entirely RNG based
  14. Almost all the mid to late game quests rely on items which are almost purely RNG to acquire
  15. There’s a near-constant seconds in minutes problem as simply everything (especially travel) just pads the run-time
  16. The power progression curve is almost entirely RNG