Unfamiliar


Fallout 1

Normally I’d say ‘the story’s good but the gameplay sucks’ here, but honestly the story is a bit lacking too. Don’t mistake me, the atmosphere is great, and this game deserves credit for effectively starting the CRPG genre, but it just did not hold up as well as I was hoping. More worth a playthrough for the history than the game itself.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: -26
Golden Number: -72.23
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12.45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-5-2022
Modifiers: CRPG Codifier

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Cinematic: The Opening does a lot very quickly. The two soldiers executing the man on the street (and being totally unashamed of it as they wave at the camera), the robot walking the dog for you, the super expensive car because hyperinflation, etc.
  2. Voice Acting: While infrequent, the voice acting that’s there is quite good
  3. Outro: Visual storytelling of the Cathedral
  4. Character: The Master, mostly off camera, but still a fascinating and unique villain
  5. Atmosphere: The game does do one thing very well; atmosphere. It oozes the bleak, pointless, grey, dull nature of the wastes from every pore, musically and visually
  6. World Building: Similarly a reasonable amount of thought is put into what fits where and how, to make the wastes feel believable
  7. Outro: The ending slides acknowledging your choices are neat little things

Story Negatives:

  1. Outro: The actual ending (being kicked out of the vault) can honestly go to hell, especially since there’s no real way around it
  2. Brickwork: Yeah… hope you like browns and greys and barely different textures
  3. Spritework: That uniquely awful claymation look of the 90s

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Choices: While not as fleshed out as some later games, there’s still some decent options in choices gameplay
  2. Core Mechanic: The game is quite good about letting you choose decisions that permanently alter the world state, and logically following through on those consequences
  3. Overworld: The early Overworld design is actually quite tight; a clear indicator of where to go, which will naturally lead you to the first town, which will naturally branch from there, and so on until you have the water chip
  4. Guidance and Flow of Exploration: Early on there’s a clear flow to what can be done where and how
  5. All Roads Lead To Rome: While not as much as later entries, there are still quite a few ways you can progress through the game (usually on the three spokes of ‘sneak, talk, kill’)
  6. Choices: Bonus points for the existence of the Low INT Playthrough
  7. Outro: The multiple choices and design of the Cathedral ‘final dungeon’
  8. Replayability: Between the quest pathing and the builds, the game has decent replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: The right click ‘mode of interaction’ system is the worst control system I have ever seen in a video game…
  2. Controls: …earning…
  3. Controls: …three negatives
  4. Options: Total lack of rebinding capabilities
  5. Interface: The entirety of the inventory system is the worst I have ever seen in gaming history. The one line of inventory, total lack of any search or filter, by itself…
  6. Interface: …deserves…
  7. Interface: …three negatives
  8. Interface: Then there’s the basic interface itself. Very little convenience or quality of life features, no ability to cross connect between windows or modes (small example; You can only tell your carrying capacity on the character screen, not the inventory screen)…
  9. Interface: …earning it…
  10. Interface: …three negatives
  11. Interface: Then there’s the companion interactions, which are frustrating for other reasons but my favorite part is the total lack of proper ability to… interact with them, outside of too few dialogue options or literally stealing from them to give them items…
  12. Interface: …earning two negatives
  13. Party AI: Then there’s the party AI which is… exactly what you’d expect from a game from 1997
  14. Enemy AI: Ditto for the enemy AI, which is not super great
  15. HUD: The little text interface in the corner has entirely too few possible characters and is entirely too irritating to navigate
  16. HUD: Also the quest log, if you can call it that, isn’t… THE worst I’ve seen… but it’s pretty bad
  17. Map: I’m not even sure if it counts calling the in-cell area map a ‘map’ but it’s awful, and the ‘motion detector’ does not help anything
  18. QoL: General negative for irritations of life
  19. Core Mechanic: So as with all old PC games, the pathfinding is legitimately terrible… though I have seen worse…
  20. Core Mechanic: …earning two negatives
  21. Visual Distinction: The game is brown and boring and drab and too samey and entirely too hard to see what you’re looking at in almost every area….
  22. Visual Distinction: …being one of the worst games for visual distinction I’ve ever seen
  23. Visual Distinction: Then there’s the ‘facing wall’ problem, which is THE worst I’ve ever seen of its ilk. You get a tiny circle of visibility around you, even in a room you are currently in, and this wouldn’t be an issue if both game and characters were fond of being right up against that wall…
  24. Visual Distinction: …earning…
  25. Visual Distinction: …three negatives
  26. Core Mechanic: The pixel hunting is weird in this game. It’s not like it’s hard to find stuff (well, it is, but that’s a previous negative) but being able to CLICK the correct thing is entirely too aggravating, often misclicking or straight up missing someone…
  27. Core Mechanic: …earning…
  28. Core Mechanic: …three negatives
  29. Too Skippable: Entirely too easy to totally miss out on dialogue, quests, or otherwise via accidental dialogue interaction
  30. Info In Game: There is a massive lack of info problem in game. I’ve seen worse, but this is just… not great, usually requiring manual inspection to learn anything of worth
  31. Guidance and Flow: The latter half of the game honestly falls apart pretty hard, especially in contrast to the tight design of the first half
  32. HUD: So, there’s (almost) no way to tell which NPCs are which. This, ironically, wouldn’t even be a problem except they pepper most maps with generic NPCs to make areas feel more lived in, so finding the people who will actually talk to you is just a chore that involves slowly mouseovering each person individually and manually, and even that has issues with it. Overall finding who to talk to is far more of a pain then it should be…
  33. HUD: …earning itself…
  34. Hud: …three negatives

Fallout 2

Okay so… all the interface issues from the last game remain (though some are barely touched up), but the core game design and core story are much stronger. You can see the bones of what would become the Obsidian standard here; great story, interesting gameplay, and bugs. Definitely recommend at least giving it a shot.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +25
Total Gameplay Score: -9
Golden Number: 15.45
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 26.55 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-11-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice Acting: While there’s not a lot of it, the voice acting is pretty legit
  2. Doodads: Actual proper usage of doodads in several towns
  3. Humor: While famous for it, it’s not that prolific… but the game does still make me laugh now and again
  4. Atmosphere: While not as bleak as the first game, there’s still definitely some hopelessness vibes going in this one
  5. Internal Continuity: As will be mentioned later, the game does a pretty good job of keeping track of itself…
  6. Internal Continuity: …earning two positives
  7. Dialogue: Dialogue is surprisingly well written throughout…
  8. Dialogue: …earning two positives
  9. Character: First Citizen Lynette is a great example of … what she is
  10. Character: Marcus is fascinating in how he is, still, a true believer in his cause… he just also moved on and is pragmatic enough to deal with the now
  11. Character: Generally good supporting cast throughout
  12. Prime Opt: Modoc quests
  13. Prime Opt: Everything to do with Vault City
  14. Prime Opt: The NCR town which has literal slave pens not that far outside its borders
  15. World Building: New Reno is easily the most well fleshed out portion of the game, and it shows
  16. Characters: New Reno’s cast gets special mention for their usage and uniqueness
  17. Character: Sgt Dornan. ‘Nuff said
  18. Brickwork: Generally good brickwork throughout
  19. Plot: Slow but steady build up of Enclave
  20. World Building: Redding and the NCR backing their currency in gold (leading to Redding’s wealth and situation)
  21. Consequence Storytelling: Almost every major decision you make in every major town doesn’t just affect that town, but others as well, in ways that make sense
  22. World Building: So the way the major towns are interconnected deserves its own positive for the level of complexity involved. Vault City has medical tech and a successful GECK usage, Redding has gold but none of the stability, GECKO has power but none of the expertise, Broken Hills has mining but species issues, NCR is expanding but needs everything, and New Reno has drugs and is controlled by crime families. All of these points link with each other and make the whole region feel well thought out and believable…
  23. World Building: …earning…
  24. World Building: …three positives by itself
  25. Prime Opt: Broken Hills is unfortunately well written, as instead of the two ‘sides’ working together for mutual benefit, Francis and Jacob are both doing everything in their power to kill off the other side, to everyone’s detriment
  26. External Continuity: Good follow through on the events of 1
  27. Writing: Generally well written
  28. Character: Richardson is… fantastically evil, he is the Enclave in one conversation, and really so earnest about how flat he is

Story Negatives:

  1. Atmosphere: The game… is really unnecessarily crude, all the time, to the point where it actively detracts from the narrative
  2. Intro: The Intro is… honestly quite weak
  3. Spritework: Same issue from Fallout 1

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Core Mechanic: As with the first game, there’s definitely some permanent consequences your actions can and do have
  2. Overworld: While not as obvious at first glance, there’s still definitely some overworld design to the flow of things (you’re inclined east first, which leads you further east and then south east, which leads you south, which leads you west, which takes you to San Fran, and finally to Navarro and the end game)
  3. Choices: So the Low INT playthrough is back! And it’s better than ever, with lots of fun and unique options…
  4. Choices: …leading to two positives
  5. All Roads Lead To Rome general
  6. Encounter: There’s noticeably more actual encounter design on display here
  7. Enemy Variety: Similarly, there’s actual variance into what you fight and how they operate
  8. ARLTR: The Den has, surprise, good spread of choices in gameplay
  9. ARLTR: Generally good ARLTR in Modoc, GECKO, and Vault City
  10. Choices: Now New Reno, this is where the quest design really shines. There are lots of ways to do New Reno, with lots of permutations. It’s easily the best designed location in the game, and for this one section alone…
  11. Choices: …earns…
  12. Choices: …three positives
  13. Core Mechanic: This is a weird one, but Fallout 2 has a lot of unique ways to kill people. Reverse pickpocketing is probably the most famous, but the various options and their multitude of uses throughout the game AND the fact that the game acknowledges these…
  14. Core Mechanic: …earns two positives
  15. Choices: So, generally fantastic choice gameplay throughout the game…
  16. Choices: …earning…
  17. Choices: …three positives
  18. Prime Opt: There’s some issues, but Navarro is in general unique and fun to progress through
  19. QoL: The car is nice… not for the travel time (though there is that), but mostly for that wonderful mobile trunk space
  20. Prime Opt: Redding and Broken Hills quests
  21. Replayability: The game is generally replayable, mostly due to the massive number of options and possible routes…
  22. Replayability: …earning two positives
  23. Outro: The Rig is, similar to the Cathedral, pretty legit; lots of options and routes, all of which are viable and most of which aren’t even mutually exclusive

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Intro: The tutorial dungeon is literally one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The fact that it was made in a couple of days really highlights all this, but whatever the reason, it still turbo sucks. Too little of… anything really, too little design, too little interactions, too little enemy variety, too many enemies, too reliant on only a couple of build possibilities, and worst of all the whole thing is mandatory…
  2. Intro: …earning it…
  3. Intro: …three negatives
  4. Level: Klamath rat dungeon. Too long, too linear, too narrow, too samey, too many encounters which are too boring
  5. Controls: So it’s been slightly improved from the previous game, earning the control system…
  6. Controls: …two negatives
  7. Interface: The inventory system is slightly better than before (new items go to the top, for example) but still remains one of the worst inventory systems ever for all the same reasons…
  8. Interface: …earning two negatives
  9. Interface: Similarly the core interface has a few QoL improvements…
  10. Interface: …pushing it up to two negatives
  11. HUD: The little text log in the corner retains the ‘too few characters, too irritating to navigate’ problems
  12. Party AI: The party members are… not smart, even with the additional options
  13. Enemy AI: The enemy AI suffers the same problems from 1
  14. Quest Log: The quest log is still not great
  15. Map: The map retains the problems from 1
  16. Pathfinding: The pathfinding is still pretty bad…
  17. Pathfinding: …earning two negatives
  18. Visual Distinction: The facing wall problem returns…
  19. Visual Distinction: …earning two negatives
  20. Visual Distinction: More of the pixel hunting problem from 1 in trying to interact with the right parts (noticeable examples; ladders and corpses)…
  21. Visual Distinction: …earning two negatives
  22. QoL: A special mention for how irritating it is to loot vaporized people
  23. Info In Game: Still lacking
  24. Visual Distinction: NPCs are still indistinct and still hard to tell whom to talk to when…
  25. Visual Distinction: …earning two negatives
  26. Bug: So… when playing in windowed mode, the game just kind of freezes periodically during combat animations every round. It gets worse the more enemies there are, and alt tabbing makes it worse, but there’s no resolving it outside of just playing fullscreen. This problem is nonstop and more than simply being irritating it actually frustrates combat…
  27. Bug: …earning two negatives
  28. Difficulty Curve: High level stuff turns into a bit of rocket tag as their armor is so great crits or armor avoidance becomes key, and they can kill you instantly with one lucky shot
  29. QoL: The fact that you can permanently lose your car just on the overworld is… what?
  30. Padding: Seconds in minutes (interactions, putting away guns, etc.)
  31. Padding: Padding (do a quest to do a quest)
  32. Music: This is more about music direction than anything, but most areas have exactly one song with too short a loop that plays for HUGE swaths of time without variation

real Myst Masterpiece

I’m not going to lie, there’s not much to this game. But it’s inoffensive, has some inventive and unique puzzles, and is fascinating for how important it was historically, so if you get a chance I definitely recommend a playthrough.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Golden Number: 10.19
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 4.45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-12-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Acting: I’ll go ahead and say that, while cheesy, the performances are enjoyable
  2. Visual Storytelling: The Mechanical Age really does some good stuff to get across the personalities of the brothers
  3. Storytelling Mechanic: The readable books in the library (which also serve as hints)
  4. Foreshadowing: The Rime sequence has some good storytelling, visual and otherwise, and honestly does a better job foreshadowing Riven than the main game did
  5. Brickwork: The game looks quite good, admittedly it’s the remaster but still

Story Negatives:

  1. Dialogue: There’s entirely too much weird repetition in the dialogue between the three principle characters

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Level: Space Age conceptually is a pretty neat puzzle idea
  2. Info In Game: Built in, gradient hint system…
  3. Info In Game: …worthy of two positives
  4. Levels: The Stoneship and the Mechanical Age puzzles were reasonably fun and interesting

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Level: The Piano puzzle can go straight to hell
  2. Level: Space Age practically is an awful puzzle idea, not really doing the type of tutorialization or presentation necessary to make it click… this is in addition to how long it takes and how easy it would be to get lost in there
  3. Seconds In Minutes: There is some SERIOUS delay that stretches the game out thanks to how every single little thing takes a couple seconds of animation to actually happen

Tecmo's Secret Of The Stars

This is the third worst game I’ve ever played. It is currently the worst game I’ve reviewed, surpassing Quest 64 and Mega Man X7. This is a beautifully perfect example of how not to do an RPG and I highly recommend studying it for that reason alone.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: -39
Total Gameplay Score: -70
Golden Number: -353.72
Cheats: Yes (grind grind grind)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 14.72 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-15-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. So bad it’s good… cuz I mean… We must stop the evil of Homcruze!

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: Technically speaking I may have seen intros as bad as this in gaming, but this one is very bad. No prelude of any substance, wake up and the literal first dialogue interaction is ‘as you know’, the entire thing is severely on rails, there’s no reason or motive for anything we do, no characters to speak of, no establishment of anything other than Tom Cruise who is the great evil one (for no reason), it’s an incoherent mess…
  2. Intro: …earning…
  3. Intro: …three negatives
  4. Dialogue: We’ll get to localization in a second, but even ignoring that there is an egregious amount of As You Know being flung all over the place
  5. Dialogue: Made even worse by the sheer amount of repetition in dialogue. No one can just say something, they have to repeat it at least twice
  6. Localization: Probably the reason this game has any notoriety at all, and honestly part of the biggest story appeal to it, but being real; this localization is bad. Really, really bad. Even with the ‘for the time’ excuse this is among the worst JRPG localizations I’ve seen…
  7. Localization: …earning it…
  8. Localization: …three negatives
  9. Cutscene Incompetence: An old SNES RPG does not get a pass on cutscene incompetence. Just standing there while the villain (slowly) walks over to blow up your island is ridiculous (there are other examples, but that one particularly sticks out)
  10. Characters: An absence of characters
  11. Theme: An absence of theme
  12. Plot: There’s a plot?
  13. World Building: There’s a world??
  14. Internal Continuity: The game makes NO sense even with itself. Ignoring obvious things like a VULCAN MINIGUN being a slight upgrade over a sword, or weird technological inconsistency, the way the towns don’t even function or acknowledge each other gets stark at a certain point
  15. Brickwork: Okay so… I spent a good 20 some odd minutes comparing and contrasting other games (mostly EARLIER games) and really, really going in depth into tile, color, doodad, and visual design and pretty definitely earned giving this…
  16. Brickwork: …three…
  17. Brickwork: …negatives… for the overworld and grassy zones
  18. Brickwork: Then there’s the towns. The truly awful, truly terrible towns… which are so bad that, literally, NES games look better…
  19. Brickwork: …for a full…
  20. Brickwork: …three negatives
  21. Brickwork: And then there’s the INTERIOR of towns which, somehow, look even worse! A lovely combination of oranges and greys which congeals into this awful mud bleck…
  22. Brickwork: …for a full…
  23. Brickwork: …three negatives
  24. Brickwork: This is kind of a general negative. Overworld, mountains, the stupid circus
  25. Brickwork: I could be mean and pick on a few other things, but no, what really deserves it is the dungeon layout. Hope you like one single tile being repeated endlessly…
  26. Brickwork: …over and over…
  27. Brickwork: …and lemme be clear, this is the most atrociously bad brickwork I have ever seen
  28. Visual Storytelling: Then there’s the atrocious layout of… honestly just everything. Nothing feels like a city or a town or a dungeon or a fortress, it’s all just crap, it completely takes me out of the game…
  29. Visual Storytelling: …earning…
  30. Visual Storytelling: …three negatives
  31. Plot: So Tom Cruise is an artificial person from the future. … … …sure
  32. Outro: Humor aside, that ending is brief and bad and unsatisfying and stupid and literally ignores the second party…
  33. Outro: …earning two negatives
  34. Animation: Some of the sprite animations actively make scenes worse
  35. Doodads: I’ve seen worse, but this is really bad doodad design…
  36. Doodads: …earning two negatives for sheer barren awfulness
  37. Story Sequencing: ….what??
  38. Story Sequencing: ….what?!?
  39. Visual Continuity: There are areas that literally look like you entered a dimensional portal, not a door into a building
  40. Spritework: I’m not going to pick on this as much because honestly it’s no worse than most NES games. But really, that’s the issue isn’t it? This is bad NES RPG sprites, and they are not good

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Penalty For Failure: Lose half your gold, but otherwise just go back to the last town you visited
  2. Fast Travel: Color me shocked, but the game has a decent fast travel system… basically Dragon Quest’s standard warp around spell system
  3. Auto-Battle: The built in auto-battle auto fights, but actually has enough of a brain to heal when needed, however…

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Intro: I’ve probably seen worse Intros than this, but… severe walkthroughitis, unclear interactions, a literal optional boss encounter that vanishes if you lose to it, a long boring dungeon followed by a stat wall boss, all done with a single party member in a game designed around multiple party members, all the starter gear is obnoxiously expensive and barely an upgrade, just… the worst…
  2. Intro: …leading to…
  3. Intro: …three negatives
  4. Auto-Battle: …the auto-battle is actively detrimental, only worth using when you’re mindlessly mulching. It deliberately randomizes targets, so no focus fire, and has no priority of mana usage or turn order when it comes to healing or attacking
  5. MSQ: No access to vendors or other town amenities during the entire Badbad arc…
  6. MSQ: …including the basic ability to save the game anywhere but at the home hub
  7. Inventory: Items don’t stack and inventory size is 32
  8. Inventory: Also to access inventory there’s no QoL at all, you have to select, then switch, then switch, then select, for anything
  9. Core Mechanic: Second party issues (separate leveling, separate gold, separate inventory, no trading)
  10. Core Mechanic: Also it’s an entire segment of the game which is effectively worthless
  11. Core Mechanic: …also there’s second party-only dungeons (and parts of dungeons) which only serve the point of getting more gear and levels on a team you not only have no reason to use, but actively can’t in several plot dungeons
  12. Walkthroughitis: The entire key section is walkthroughitis hell
  13. Level: The maze is just… bonkers stupid. At least they warn you about bringing a rat-tail
  14. Level: The mining cave dungeon is… honestly it’s like most of the levels in this game, but it’s one of the longer ones so it’s a bit worse
  15. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Lack of saves in nice long dungeons…
  16. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: …frequently
  17. Grind: Party members start at low level with NOTHING to mitigate this…
  18. Grind: …and this NEVER stops the whole game
  19. Info In Game: Good luck figuring out what equipment does what, nevermind the fact that it has legitimately bad showcasing of what stats are good in what direction, and even that requires you to already have the item and attempt to equip it
  20. Info In Game: Mechanics are essentially not explained at all. Good luck figuring out what vulns are, or the special hits, or the speed stat
  21. Guidance and Flow: Good luck figuring out where is what and how to interact with it. It’s kind of the usual old JRPG trigger problem, but worse in every way…
  22. Guidance and Flow: …earning two negatives
  23. Music: There are a couple of songs that aren’t terrible
  24. Music: …but then there’s the short loops and extended sections of one song
  25. Guidance and Flow: This is a weird one, but most games have what’s called feedback. It’s how you know you can do, are doing, or did something to interact with the game world. Good feedback is a whole thing by itself and a principle of game design. It’s VERY rare I encounter a game, even amongst bad games, that has an ABSENCE of feedback like this
  26. Power Progression Curve: Yeah so each level barely makes you stronger. And gear barely makes you stronger. And it all takes forever, AND each new ‘area’ is awful and barely survivable until you drag yourself up into the yellow line…
  27. Power Progression Curve: …not the worst I’ve seen, but pretty damned bad
  28. Difficulty Curve: Speaking of which, the difficulty bounces absolutely all over the place. In fact it legitimately feels like it wasn’t playtested, like, at all… I’ve seen worse though
  29. Encounter Rate: I can actually think of several (better!) games that have worse encounter rates, but it’s still about 1-8 steps, and that’s still pretty bad…
  30. Encounter Rate: …earning two negatives
  31. Core Combat: Core combat is like the worst of all worlds from Dragon Quest and FFMQ. I won’t bore you with specifics, but having to select fight, person, option, spell, strength of spell, target, yes, every single turn gets pretty old
  32. Interface: Special mention to just how bad the menu looks and operates
  33. Interface: And then there’s the controls and design of the menu (‘back’ doesn’t always work, the game only uses A and B so a lot of buttons pull double duty in ways that make no sense, the layout is bad, the visual distinction is bad, you have to bounce between menus to check stuff, etc.)
  34. Grind: There’s no getting around this; this game is grindy. Even for JRPG standards this game is grindy. “Stop the game for 30-60 minutes per new area” grindy. I’ve only seen one game worse than this, so…
  35. Grind: …this game will get…
  36. Grind: … a full three negatives for grind
  37. Difficulty Curve: Special mention to the fact that occasionally one enemy can just decide to ruin your day because screw you
  38. Itemization: I’m hard pressed to think of a worse itemized RPG across the board. The dungeon items are insufficient for the range you’re at when you do them, the mob drops are infrequent and suffer the same problem, vendor prices are through the roof, in some cases you literally don’t have access to proper vendors, and items are a scaling chunk of your stats. Overall itemization gets…
  39. Itemization: …a full…
  40. Itemization: …three negatives
  41. MSQ: The desert oasis segment is already bad (no indication of how the ‘maze’ works or what to do on it, while boring music plays, while on the worst tileset of the entire game)…
  42. MSQ: …earning two negatives
  43. Saves: The fact that you can only save at the save dude is problematic on several levels
  44. Unskippable Cutscenes: They’re brief, but they’re there
  45. Map: Total absence of an in game map (we solved this SIX YEARS ago with a previous console)
  46. Overworld: I’ve seen worse, but I’ve seen better too
  47. Music: The music restart problem continues to plague early gaming
  48. Walkthroughitis: The golden nail. Enough said
  49. Enemy Variety: There’s two types of enemies. Ones with magic and ones without…
  50. Enemy Variety: …yep
  51. Level: Booth Castle. Very, very samey design, bad palette, tons of encounters, easy to get lost, trick overheads, and teleporters. What more can I say…
  52. Level: …earning two negatives
  53. Graphics: I’m not sure where to classify this but this game is eye cancer. It literally is headache and nausea inducing in its visual design, even ignoring the flashing lights issues, there’s just areas (like the moai, or the ocean) that are just BAD…
  54. Graphics: …earning two negatives
  55. Level: Did I mention Gara’s castle? The eye cancer that is Gara’s Castle? Screw that place so hard…
  56. Level: …though it’s not as bad as Booth’s place
  57. Level: So, Steeler’s Lab is the worst level to-date. Which is saying something. Usual enemies and encounter rate problem, combined with boring grey problem, on top of being a teleporter maze… yeah…
  58. Level: …earning…
  59. Level: …three negatives
  60. Level: The Kustera radioactive dungeons
  61. Walkthroughitis: The five radioactive items required for the final dungeon are BONKERS. Nothing, anywhere, tells you you need something to power the ship. Nothing, anywhere, tells you what you need even if you somehow knew you needed something to begin with. Nothing, anywhere, tells you where to go to get the items in question. And they’re in Kustera only dungeons (sure hope you’ve been leveling them!) which cannot use the airship. This is… the single worst walkthroughitis event I have seen in gaming, earning it itself…
  62. Walkthroughitis: …three…
  63. Walkthroughitis: …negatives
  64. Outro: The dull, boring corridors of the final dungeon combined with the same damned dungeon song we’ve had the whole game
  65. Outro: Then of course the actual final dungeon is a blank black space with a dirt road going through it to represent going down the volcano…
  66. Outro: …which is both boring and somehow aggravating
  67. Outro: Theeeen there’s the fact that you get to do the final spiral twice, because the first time you lose to Tom Cruise (mandatory) and have to go do some padding and then go all the way BACK down then talk to a CHAIR to start the first of the final boss fights
  68. Outro: Okay yeah that final boss (both forms) can go straight to hell
  69. Hub: Generally bad town layout (and the home town keeps changing its layout)
  70. Visual Distinction: There are so, so many examples of not knowing what you can interact with, what items are where, and of course grey on grey on grey action…
  71. Visual Distinction: …and grey…
  72. Visual Distinction: …aaand grey

Star Wars Bounty Hunter

The story’s surprisingly decent for how honestly awful the game is. Oh it starts off fine, and you start to get used to the wild controls and the lunatic camera, but then the platforming and the bad level design and the endless waves of the same enemies just get worse as you go in. I would… not recommend this one.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +7
Total Gameplay Score: -26
Golden Number: -41.03
Cheats: Yes (savestates and Youtube because hand pain)
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 8.05 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-16-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. VA: Generally good voice acting throughout
  2. Character: Rozatta is weirdly well written and acted and kind of shines on her own
  3. Character: Okay so this is going to sound weird, but Roz actually adds to Jango’s character by how they interact and how he reacts to her
  4. Character: A surprisingly strong batch of side and supporting characters throughout
  5. Brickwork: It’s a bit drab, but there’s still obvious effort and design into the visuals of the various worlds throughout
  6. Atmosphere: The cult areas do a good job of selling how creepy and messed up the cult is
  7. MSQ: Big plus for the first cult level does a lot right; visually, atmosphere, the recitation by Rozatta as you progress
  8. External Continuity: The way the game keeps things quietly and low tier in the background works quite well in the confines of Star Wars
  9. Humor: Okay so the out-takes are legitimately amusing and deserve to be watched

Story Negatives:

  1. Cutscene Incompetence: It’s infrequent but there’s a few here and there and a lot of the cutscenes just do not work
  2. Dialogue: I wasn’t going to say anything but the dialogue gets noticeably worse the further into the game you get

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Kit: A decent variety of equipment which has their own varying uses (homing rockets, autofire repeaters, grenades, instant kill charge use darts, etc.)
  2. Kit: For all the control issues the game has in general, the jetpack is still some janky fun
  3. Level: Probably the only good level in the game, the Moon of the Dead uses its colors, platforming, and enemy swarms to much better effect
  4. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Generally good, visible checkpoints (saves your ‘progress’ too)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Having to mash to put out a decent fire output
  2. Controls: Having to hold R or L 1 or 2 while constantly hitting other buttons rapid fire is hand cringing
  3. Controls: On top of all of this, Jango’s movement is janky as hell, even worse when he starts to jump
  4. Visual Distinction: Lots of dull browns in the first few levels and little clear indicator of interactables
  5. Intro: The Intro is not good gameplay wise; It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but there are issues with flow, enemy spam, camera issues, and platforming issues
  6. Level: First Coruscant level
  7. Map: Lack of map/minimap
  8. Level: The cargo containers jumping puzzle is okay… in a game with proper controls and a camera that’s not constantly bugging out on you
  9. Level: The outside Coruscant level has a wonderful combination of enemy spam and finicky platforming
  10. Level: Enemy spam upon enemy spam in the prison riot level
  11. Camera: The camera is janky and likes to warp around wildly…
  12. Camera: …in addition to being awful to control
  13. Audio Spam: Weirdly it’s not the sound effects, it’s the dialogue from the infinite wave of mobs
  14. Level: The final escape mission can go straight to hell…
  15. Level: …having to do certain reactor segments in order…
  16. Level: …and each reactor is near copy paste of the previous ones
  17. Level: Also the final escape level requires killing certain specific guards. Nothing indicates this anywhere, and it’s never been done before, and it’s completely uninformed in the level itself, oh and enemies respawn infinitely and have the entire game
  18. Penalty For Failure: Lives system and redoing entire levels
  19. Level: The jungle trek level can go straight to hell, first with the enemy spam…
  20. Level: …and second with the awful sniper escort section
  21. Controls: The decision to essentially enforce constantly holding down R1 or R2 means anyone, of any age or physical aptitude, is going to slowly wear their hand out as the constant tension causes physical pain the longer you play the game
  22. Boss: The ‘large vehicle with breakable parts’ boss design isn’t great and there’s quite a few of them
  23. Boss: Montross gets special points for boringness
  24. Level: The Death Stick Factory level has tight platforming in a janky game with janky camera with dull difficult to see gray graphics over a lava floor while snipers shoot at you. This is… not good…
  25. Level: …easily earning two negatives
  26. Boss: Monstross 2? Still boring… MORE boring, actually
  27. Level: Tatooine 1 is a nice long jetpackless shooty gauntlet
  28. Outro: So yeah that… was not impressive. I’ve seen worse, but a dull chase against the same general melee type with a few unique scripts and that’s kind of … it
  29. Enemy Variety: So there’s people with blasters, melee guys, animals, and snipers. Yeah…
  30. Difficulty Curve: There are some absolutely wild difficulty spikes and troughs in this game

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

Easily the best Far Cry game I’ve played to date. Highly recommend.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +16
Total Gameplay Score: +10
Golden Number: 65.11
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 5.62 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-19-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Cinematic: The opening cinematic does a wonderful job of setting the style and tone
  2. Storytelling Mechanic: The uniquely well done, ‘awful’ cinematics are great
  3. Intro: The ‘tutorial’ at the beginning was funnier than I thought it’d be
  4. Intro: And the whole Intro does exactly what it needs to, setting up the entire rest of the game…
  5. Intro: …earning two positives
  6. Voice Acting: Wasn’t sold on it at first, but the voice acting is pretty decent
  7. Brickwork: Visual flair adding to…
  8. Atmosphere: …atmosphere
  9. Animation: Ridiculously over the top
  10. Moment: Punching the reactor and subsequent fallout
  11. Moment: The video games speech deserves its own mention
  12. Dialogue: It’s cheesy, but surprisingly well written
  13. Sound Design: Fits the aesthetic perfectly
  14. Character: Rex is delightfully cheesy
  15. Humor: Generally amusing game
  16. Spritework: Yeah, it works for the aesthetic

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Intro: Fun, interesting, and to the point
  2. Core Combat: Stealth takedowns and takedown chains
  3. Viscerality: For all the visual noise problems, the game does have surprisingly good audio and visual viscerality…
  4. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  5. Music: Yeah okay, the music is boppin’…
  6. Music: …two positives
  7. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Actually pretty well done overall
  8. Kit: The gun variety is decent
  9. Kit: …but the ridiculous and awesome upgrades are what really sell it
  10. Enemy: Most of the enemies are whatever, but the Dragons are nicely designed
  11. Enemy AI: Okay, we all make fun of it, but the AI being able to navigate these tight bases, stairs, and still pursue and fight is impressive
  12. HUD: There’s honestly a lot of good info on display immediately on the HUD…
  13. HUD: …earning two positives
  14. Fast Travel: Generally good fast travel
  15. Info In Game: You can find what you need and where entirely within the game
  16. Guidance and Flow of Exploration: There’s plenty to collect, multiple ways to find it, and it’s worthwhile
  17. MSQ: The escalating awesomeness of the infinite ammo Mortal Kombat section
  18. Outro: The final assault on the base as a hyperbeam moment

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Bug: The fact that the game insists on trying to connect with the servers (which do not exist) when you fire it up or pop into the menu, freezing the game while it tries, is stupid
  2. Bug: And the necessary steps to prevent this are stupid too
  3. Animation: The game locks you into some actions (or out of others) while doing the animations, which can get frustrating and essentially clog down combat
  4. Visual Noise: There’s really a… lot of crap on the screen. Glares, scanlines, neon colors everywhere, but the worst part is…
  5. Raspberry Jam: …the effects for when you get hit or are low on health
  6. Visual Distinction: While appropriate and neat, the visual distinction in this game is honestly really bad
  7. Controls: General jank issues, pretty normal for Far Cry games
  8. Difficulty Options: Usual boring difficulty mods

Chaos Gate Daemonhunter

Definitely a ‘First Game’, with a lot of echoes of mobile design throughout, and way, way too much slog and grind. Do not recommend.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: -9
Total Gameplay Score: -16
Golden Number: -50.54
Cheats: Yes (grind grind grind)
Total Play Time: 3 days / 27.57 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-16-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Doodads and brickwork of ship screens
  2. Brickwork: Missions themselves
  3. Character: Lunete is a weird bright spot in the entire story, with interesting and engaging dialogue and easily the best animations to her

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: The Intro fails at essentially every level. Exposition, epicness, enjoyment, character, theme, plot…
  2. Atmosphere: Bad cheese / failed epicness
  3. Animation: Remember Fable 1’s animation? Cuz they sure do!
  4. Voice Acting: Quality. Despite some decent talent they just are not there
  5. Voice Acting: Consistency. Sometimes it’s actively ridiculous, with how they’ll voice a few words in a sentence then stop without even pausing at a period or comma in said sentence
  6. External Continuity: The game likes to spit a bit on 40k
  7. Cutscene: Pretty much the presentation and style of the entire craftworld mission…
  8. Cutscene: …combined with the CONTENT of said cutscene, which was badly written and actively removes characterization from main characters
  9. Character: Ectar is… really honestly a bad character. Poor direction of his actor doesn’t help, but he’s way too flat and disinteresting and they never go anywhere with him
  10. Outro: The big payoff to the entire character arc is ridiculous in its own right, but then you have the big villain showing up at the last second, dudeface winning the day for you, the cheap ‘sacrifice was worth it’ bit, and of course gotta get that post credits teaser in…
  11. Outro: …very, very unimpressed
  12. Pacing: The plot doesn’t even start until 20 hours in, and each plot point is dragged out across hours and hours of filler missions

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Core Mechanic: Terrain manipulation. It’s honestly the closest the base game comes to engaging tactics is working around the interactable terrain
  2. Viscerality: The sound, primarily, feels very beefy
  3. Enemy Variety: It’s not the best, but eventually some actual enemy variety does show up
  4. Prime Opt: The Dreadnought missions are actually quite fun
  5. Boss: Aeger the Benevolent
  6. Core Mechanic: Not the best I’ve seen but the AP economy is decent
  7. Kit: There’s some decent kit and variety in gear and (primarily) abilities
  8. Kit: The classes are also juuust enough varied for a positive
  9. Save System: The saves are actually pretty decent, allowing you to save in mid combat, and with a robust auto save…
  10. Save System: …earning two positives
  11. Core Mechanic: The bonus objectives system and the way in which you can both benefit and detriment for them is actually pretty neat
  12. Kit: Dreadnought. Interesting, lots of options, generally awesome
  13. Boss: Malathian the Harvester
  14. Boss: Ship invasion

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Tutorial: So we’ve got a LONG tutorial and it’s a forced tutorial…
  2. Tutorial: …and worse, it doesn’t even explain everything
  3. HUD: The UI is lacking at best. Wrong icons in the wrong places and not the right sizes or color distinctions
  4. HUD: : Further, the HUD just… does not indicate what is where sometimes, and even when it does it’s done terribly
  5. Info In Game: A surprisingly large amount of information is lacking here
  6. Core Mechanic: Scatter. It always sucked but it really sucks here as enemies get a full round of actions and your ‘turn’ is effectively cancelled the moment scatter is triggered
  7. Interface: Continued interface issues (escape key lack of use, inconsistent drilling, unclear equipment issues, weird requirements for equipment)
  8. Interface: Lack of cross referencing
  9. Difficulty Curve: Some missions are way too easy, others are way too hard
  10. Terrain: Other than the interactables the terrain might as well not even exist
  11. Pathing: Both enemy, AI, and partners have no idea how to maneuver on the terrain
  12. Mission: The Eldar Craftworld mission came pretty close to being good, and then swarmed you with ridiculousness all over the place
  13. Boss: The first boss fight in the Eldar Craftworld… sssuuucked
  14. Core Mechanic: AP limitations… 3 AP is simply too little for what this game is trying to be
  15. Pacing: The early game is too dull and it takes entirely too long to get to the good parts…
  16. Pacing: …and that ignores the awkward stilting lurches between plot missions and grinding missions
  17. Seconds in Minutes: Many actions could be refined a lot and they are not, and it takes entirely too many clicks to just do things
  18. Difficulty Curve: Wonky as absolute hell
  19. Kit: Limited use of the amazing Dreadnought?
  20. Grind: You have to grind to grind…
  21. Grind: …and everything takes absolutely forever in all three phases of the game
  22. Prime Opt: The grind missions are really, really, really boring…
  23. Prime Opt: …and there are many of them
  24. Audio Spam: Hope you like hearing voice barks every single action, reaction, and command
  25. Music: Impossibly generic and entirely too overplayed
  26. Outro: The entire game is designed to encourage maxing out a small elite squad, the Outro mandates two squads with no warning… cute
  27. Outro: The final mission is bad…
  28. Outro: …and the final mission is LONG and boring and slow and long
  29. Intro: Buried in tutorial crap
  30. Replayability: A truly rare negative, the game has a long unskippable tutorial sequence and then hours upon hours of grind to actually reach the core gameplay loop

Subnautica Below Zero

A game with several impressive technical improvements over the previous… but severely lacking in the content department. Probably worth a once through if you liked the first game, but honestly very skippable.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +7
Total Gameplay Score: -3
Golden Number: 7.38
Cheats: Yes (slog)
Total Play Time: 4 days / 24.17 Hours
Time Reviewed: 02-27-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Storytelling Mechanic: Uninterrupted audio logs
  2. Intro: Strong, establishes a lot, narratively interesting
  3. Brickwork: Twisty Bridges is honestly well designed and visually gorgeous
  4. Visual Storytelling: The Alterra bases really do a good job lifting the story up
  5. Character: Al-An, Fred, Parvan… just a generally good supporting cast
  6. Doodads: Excellent doodad spread
  7. Voice Acting: Surprisingly good voice acting
  8. Outro: The final sequence is really strong (and should have happened at the midway point)
  9. World Building: More development of both the setting as a whole and the Architects

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Robin… she is… aggressively uninteresting, and worse she preaches at us
  2. Dialogue: The dialogue in general is very lacking

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: Continues to control well for the most part
  2. Core Mechanic: Building the base is even more fun than before, with more tools and toys to tinker with
  3. Difficulty Options: Some very well designed starting options (which can be changed on the fly?)
  4. Early Game: The early part of the game is easily the strongest, with a good directed resource path and a nice little setup plus the best zone in the game
  5. Enemy Design: While some are lacking, some other enemies are rather well designed (notably the worm)
  6. Intro: As before, the Intro does a great job of setting you up for the basic gameplay loop very quickly and efficiently and even encourages you to stay underwater naturally thanks to the new cold mechanic
  7. Kit: Scanner and gear
  8. Kit: Truck. Seriously, the Seatruck is actually awesome. It’s modular, reconfigurable, and can be redone on the fly too, allowing you to literally have a mobile base and your Prawn and your explorer all in one go…
  9. Kit: …easily earning two positives
  10. Lighting: Still some good lighting design
  11. Overworld: Nowhere near as well designed as last time, but there’s still enough decent overall design for a positive
  12. Penalty for Failure: Gradient design returns from the previous game
  13. QoL: All the features backported to Subnautica 1 obviously came from here and, as such, still qualify
  14. Visual Distinction: Still visually distinct in how you can identify what where

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Sound Design: Some pretty bad audio balancing issues
  2. Backtracking: The game is… really backtrack heavy, by design. If you don’t know what you need and come prepped, you will very likely have to just slog back and forth over and over and over…
  3. Backtracking: …earning two negatives
  4. Bottleneck: Magnetite and a few other things
  5. Bugs: The same basic bugs as last time
  6. Guidance and Exploration: Direction. Or rather, the direction is… weird. Sometimes it’s lacking, sometimes it’s literally not there
  7. Core Mechanic: Inability to build from chests continues to be a problem
  8. Info In Game: Several things are still not properly explained
  9. Inventory: The personal inventory problem is still there
  10. Late Game: Late game isn’t as bad as mid game but only because it’s mostly just a lot of backtracking
  11. Mid Game: Mid game is honestly awful. Very slow, very boring, very sloggy, and encapsulates all the other problems I’ve mentioned several times. I would have put the game down at mid game if not for the review…
  12. Mid Game: …earning it two negatives
  13. Outro: The Outro is all the other problems of the game in one concentrated awful-fest….
  14. Outro: …which already sucks but then you add in that it’s designed to force you to do one last backtrack through the endgame zones…
  15. Outro: …and then do ANOTHER one to get back to the actual ending
  16. Save System: Save limitations as before
  17. Walkthroughitis: Good luck figuring out where those artifacts are

Crusader Kings 3

Probably the most modern, well-designed interface I’ve seen in a paradox game. As of this review it only has two DLCs under its belt, and it’s lacking in some depth that it really needs, but it’s still a very good game with a much lower barrier to entry than most paradox games.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: +29
Golden Number: 64.8
Cheats: Yes (to screw around)
Total Play Time: 5 days / 35.2 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-13-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Writing: Event writing. It’s a bit flowery but well written throughout
  2. Writing: Dynamic storytelling that emerges naturally from how the game is designed

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Alternate Leveling: Lifestyle mechanics and the bonuses and powers that come with
  2. Core Mechanic: Built in entropy to changes and modifiers, ensuring that such things can change and move fluidly throughout a playthrough
  3. Core Mechanic: Casus Belli system, and how it changes warfare
  4. Core Mechanic: Opinion System and how it effects everything, honestly forming the core backbone of the whole game…
  5. Core Mechanic: …earning two positives
  6. Core Mechanic: Randomness! There’s a lot… and I mean a lot… of random things that can happen
  7. Core Mechanic: Stress can be irritating, but it’s not universally negative, can be used against others, and helps to enforce a playstyle conforming to your character’s personality
  8. HUD: Line of vassalage on selection visibility
  9. Interface: Character filters. There’s a lot of options and they have preset save capability…
  10. Interface: …earning two positives
  11. Interface: The Highlight system is absolutely on point, very well designed and a great way to get across a huge amount of info quickly and without disrupting the game… and all of this has options to change how (or even if) the system works…
  12. Interface: …earning a full…
  13. Interface: …three positives
  14. Interface: The mouseover information is honestly fantastic in this one. Lots of things you can mouseover and good layout of the information provided…
  15. Interface: …earning two positives
  16. Interface: Almost every search function has presets
  17. Interface: The search function itself
  18. Kit: The options and interactions you can do are decently good kit…
  19. Kit: …earning two positives
  20. Map: Surprisingly good information and at-a-glance in the map design
  21. Mod Depth: Decent
  22. Mod Accessibility: QoL of mods in launcher…
  23. Mod Accessibility: …earning two positives
  24. Mod Tools: Tools for mod support…
  25. Mod Tools: …earning…
  26. Mod Tools: …three positives
  27. Music: Dynamic music and, of course, culturally appropriate
  28. Tutorialization: The tutorial is actually surprisingly good overall, and helps you ease over the barrier to entry
  29. Starting Options: Recommended starts and a good interface and menu to help you see your choices and get you into the game
  30. Starting Options: Play as anyone! The options for who to play as are bonkers, especially since…
  31. Starting Options: …the character customizer is just excellent
  32. Starting Options: The amount of options for the match are excellent, and there’s a lot of them rather than just easy/hard/etc.
  33. Replayability: Game is generally replayable…
  34. Replayability: …and of course has the variety to back it up
  35. Mod Support: Depth of mod possibilities. It’s not the most convertible, but it’s definitely got a decent amount of depth to the modding scene
  36. Prime Opt: The very nature of the event system is awesome and it really helps keep the game fresh
  37. Early Game: Early game isn’t super great, but it is definitely good
  38. Mid Game: Mid game is where the game really shines. Politicking, arranging your dynasty, dying, starting over…
  39. Mid Game: …easily the best part of the game
  40. Core Mechanic: Vassalage and related systems
  41. Co-Op: Existent and functional multiplayer

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Save System: Save limitations (while it has auto saves, no quick save/load nor hotkey, and irritation in saving / loading through menus)
  2. HUD: Lack of pop up showcasing results of actions
  3. Info In Game: Certain lack of info in game
  4. Interface: Occasional issues with having to click through extra menus unnecessarily (like calling an ally in to a war)
  5. Options: Cannot rebind keys. In a grand strategy game. In a PC game. Right…
  6. Options: …two negatives
  7. Core Mechanic: Lifestyle problems upon death
  8. Core Mechanic: Randomness
  9. Core Mechanic: Lifestyle locking mechanics behind it
  10. Late Game: As per usual for large scale strategy games, there… is no late game, and it’s just…
  11. Late Game: …boring
  12. Bad Launch: Some pretty bad, buggy issues at launch and at DLC launch

Dawn of War 1

A very, very buggy game which gave me issues in windowed and in fullscreen. Crash heavy and flickery. But if these issues don’t apply to you, the vanilla campaign and Winter Assault are worth it for the story, and Dark Crusade is worth it for the gameplay. But skip Soulstorm.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +34
Total Gameplay Score: -21
Golden Number: 24.35
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 6 days / 40.3 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-11-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: Vanilla and the presentation of War40k
  2. Atmosphere: Winter Assault and its presentation
  3. Atmosphere: Dark Crusade and its presentation
  4. Spritework: Eldar
  5. Brickwork: Generally good DC brickwork
  6. Spritework: Imperial Guard
  7. Spritework: Orks
  8. Spritework: Space Marines
  9. Brickwork: Surprisingly good brickwork for the maps and units and, most importantly, the buildings
  10. Spritework: Tau
  11. Spritework: The Necrons, of course
  12. Brickwork: Winter Assault in general
  13. Character: General Sturn, the 80s action hero we all deserve (also just generally the characters in Winter Assault)
  14. Characters: Generally amusing and memetastic Hero units across WA and DC
  15. Characters: Gabriel, Isador, Sindri
  16. Cinematic: Dark Crusade intro cinematic
  17. Cinematic: The opening cinematic is way too loud, but it does pretty neatly encapsulate the tone and style
  18. Cinematics: Generally amusing ending cinematics for each race in DC
  19. Cinematics: The intro cinematics for each faction’s campaign are brief but enjoyable
  20. Cutscenes: Surprisingly well done and lengthy cutscenes
  21. External Continuity: Continued good usage of War40k throughout Dark Crusade, serving as a great entry point for the franchise
  22. External Continuity: Definitely good usage of the War40k setting in vanilla campaign
  23. Integration: Immersion factor of bases sticking in Dark Crusade and making it feel more like conquering rather than just winning a mission
  24. Moment: The reveal of the Necrons in the final mission is honestly pretty legit
  25. Pacing: Vanilla campaign
  26. Plot: Vanilla campaign
  27. Storyboarding: Vanilla and WA have pretty solid storyboarding
  28. Story Sequencing: Vanilla campaign
  29. Storytelling Mechanics: Mission briefings
  30. Storytelling Mechanics: Mission map
  31. Voice Acting: General across the vanilla campaign
  32. Voice Acting: Orks orks orks orks ORKS orks orks orks
  33. Voice Acting: Sindri (and the actor in general)
  34. Voice Acting: Winter Assault
  35. Voice Acting: You will serve on the firing line!
  36. Voice Acting: Dark Crusade, full stop
  37. World Building: Dark Crusade seres as a weirdly good introduction to the franchise and establishes plenty
  38. World Building: Vanilla campaign
  39. Humor: Soulstorm ridiculousness

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: The god damned Eldar are just the worst
  2. VA: Soulstorm’s voice acting (and direction) are occasionally just… off
  3. Plot: Soulstorm’s lack of plot
  4. External Continuity: Soulstorm just… what?
  5. Cutscene Incompetence: Soulstorm really likes to have the hero units disappear into convenient holes at the end of stronghold missions

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Core Mechanic: DC: Persistence of defenses and garrisons on the map
  2. Core Mechanic: DC: The unique bonuses and general benefits of taking territory
  3. Core Mechanic: SS: Worthwhileness of conquest
  4. HUD: Generally decent HUD design
  5. Info In Game: Generally decent info in the mouseovers
  6. Itemization: DC: Wargear
  7. Itemization: SS: Wargear
  8. Level: DC Eldar Stronghold is similarly a good one, the enemy is extremely fortified but you gain benefits from knocking out their manipulated allies
  9. Level: DC Guard Stronghold
  10. Level: DC Necron Stronghold
  11. Level: DC Ork Stronghold is simple but good, knocking out the banners as you go to send the enemies into each other
  12. Level: Several of the DC gimmick missions are good fun
  13. Level: Vanilla Mission 1 is a basic but surprisingly competent tutorial mission
  14. Level: Vanilla Mission 9 does a good job of the split attention mission style and doesn’t wear out its welcome, and the second auto squad of Terminators really helps the pacing
  15. Level: WA Disorder Mission 1 is actually a pretty good collector style mission
  16. Level: WA Disorder Mission 2.5 keeps things good by letting you operate in side areas where your smaller units are at an advantage, against forces that are technically superior but spread out enough to be stopped one by one, all while being able to recruit from nearby buildings rather than traditionally build
  17. Map: DC The planetary map layout, color distinction, and information
  18. MSQ: Winter Assault fails pretty hard at mission design, but it does try unique things and, more importantly, does a good job of making the missions specific to the factions and their playstyles
  19. Music: Decent
  20. Power Progression: Similarly the DC Honor Guard is a good way to reward the player for taking territory and helping them to speed up / deal with better their future missions
  21. Power Progression: SS Honor Guard
  22. Unit Design: Imperial Guard! So you have mass units with tons of frailties that need to be constantly babied, but you have multiple tools to keep them functional and relevant and their numbers and range can turn battles. Furthermore there’s the amusement of the Commissar and Psyker units, but what really bolsters the Guard…
  23. Unit Design: …is their building traversal abilities, and their wonderful variety of vehicles. Easily the best vehicles in the game, not just in raw power but in variety and utility as well, with artillery, armored transports that allow their units to shoot from within, and the Leman Russ wonders (plus the Baneblade)
  24. Unit Design: Necrons. You don’t have traditional resources, but instead rely heavily on power generation (and each successive power generator costs more), but also they have the ‘get back up’ mechanic and, naturally, move like slugs…
  25. Unit Design: …earning two positives
  26. Unit Design: Orks, with heavy focus on either melee or ranged, and the ability to overwhelm their opponents but at a cost of a lot of a lot of population… but they also START with the ability to skyrocket their population, but their farms also function as their turrets, and the whole faction is just a nice give and take fun fest…
  27. Unit Design: …earning the Orks two positives
  28. Unit Design: Space Marines (general variety, good basic ‘starter’ faction with modularity)
  29. Unit Design: The Eldar are a bit vanilla in unit design but what makes them shine is their micro abilities and their unique building mechanics and related gameplay
  30. Viscerality: Build animations
  31. Viscerality: Guns, flame, lasers, and explosions…
  32. Viscerality: …all over the place
  33. Level: SS There are some legitimately good ideas in the Stronghold missions
  34. Replayability: Between Winter Assault’s multiple campaigns and Dark Crusade’s enjoyability, the game does have good replayability
  35. Minigame: The Skirmish mode has a decent spread of maps and, more importantly…
  36. Minigame: …options, allowing for some good repeatable playability
  37. Mods: Moddable

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Sound Design: Winter Assault’s sound balancing is just… messed up
  2. Bug: Consistent crashes when alt tabbing
  3. Bug: Crashes when alt tabbing
  4. Bug: Flickering issues when pausing or in any menu
  5. Bug: Persistent crashes when alt tabbing
  6. Bug: The flickering
  7. Bug: The game also has turbo nausea-inducing flicker on fullscreen mode
  8. Bug: WA Disorder Mission 4… then there’s the bug. The big bug, which we actually never bypassed and just sort of lived with, but it’s functionally a game-breaking bug. Every time we start the mission, the Ork side had 0 starting resources, which made the mission functionally impossible…
  9. Bug: …earning it two negatives
  10. Bug: There are several small few bugs everywhere in Soulstorm that just demonstrate a total lack of polish
  11. Bug: Music just… stops playing whenever you load a save mid mission
  12. Controls: Entirely too many minor irritations in control that add up over time
  13. Controls: Issues with being able to give out commands to unit groups, instead being forced to give orders to individual units
  14. Core Mechanic: There’s a problem here I rarely talk about in RTS design. And that is ‘spacing’. It’s when a unit’s ‘space’ is larger than their actual model, and that’s the ‘space’ they need to maneuver, which gets in the way of and prevents pathfinding. This makes the aforementioned pathfinding problem even worse than it already is because in any map which has narrow corridors or otherwise, maneuvering is awful
  15. Difficulty Options: Even worse than the normal lazy difficulty because all it does is change enemy health. That’s it
  16. Difficulty Options: Repeat for Winter Assault
  17. Level: DC’s Chaos Stronghold mission can go directly to hell. It’s a long, slow, boring slog but it also is irritating on top of all that…
  18. Level: …as you have to constantly listen to that damned cackle every 40 seconds until you slog your way to the point and take it
  19. Level: DC’s ‘no build’ mission can vary based on side but no matter who you play as it’s a bit tedious, especially on higher difficulties
  20. Level: The Gateway mission, that is to say all of them, are just… the worst. They’re irritating and boring and slow and worst of all you have to do several of them and they’re all the same damned thing
  21. Level: The Winter Assault mission design was sufficiently terrible that I just wanted to put it down… and eventually did
  22. Level: Vanilla Mission 10 is neat enough in structure but the old ‘kill all’ problem rears its ugly head
  23. Level: Vanilla Mission 2 runs into the old RTS problem of ‘hunt down the enemy forces to win the map’ problem
  24. Level: Vanilla Mission 3 is honestly very boring, with unclear enemy locations problem (again)
  25. Level: WA Disorder Mission 3 is the worst mission thusfar in the entire series. It starts off with a suicidal charge into a fortified spot which is okay, but then you have to listen to awful audio spam while fortifying while clearing the map but the catch is you also have to mind control a specific enemy unit and get it back to the center of your base. This has all of the problems with it; The MC’d unit is leashed and ignores pathing and logic, the MC’d unit is very weak and easy to die, there are only so many of the units on the map, and you need multiple of them. The whole thing turns into an awful escort mission…
  26. Level: …for…
  27. Level: …three negatives
  28. Level: WA Disorder Mission 4. So then there’s the mission itself. Tight, narrow corridors and irritating pathfinding issues abound
  29. Level: WA Disorder Mission 4 sucks top to bottom. So first we have the switch mechanic, which is badly implemented and barely works. It causes the loss of hotkeys and orders and is just janky and awkward
  30. Level: WA Disorder Mission 5 Chaos, aka ‘hope you enjoy that sacrifice mechanic again’
  31. Level: WA Order Mission 3, irritating upon irritation and then dull… dull… dull
  32. Level: WA Order Mission 4 is just as irritating on the Eldar side…
  33. Level: WA Order Mission 4 …but even worse as the Guards, being one long irritating escort mission
  34. Level: Winter Assault Mission Disorder 2’s first half honestly just sucks. It’s a long slow boring slog with inferior upgrades and units in tight, windy terrain that doesn’t work well with the pathfinding problem
  35. Map: The Soulstorm map is literally one of the worst maps I’ve seen in gaming. A huge portion of the real estate is devoted towards fluff (which actively hurts the eyes), the usable area is absolutely tiny and in some cases hard to interact with, the distinction and color usage is off, and the whole thing sucks on every level…
  36. Map: …for two negatives
  37. Minimap: Vanilla’s minimap was murky and hard to see
  38. Minimap: Ditto problem for Winter Assault
  39. Music: Music repetition in the earlier games, notably vanilla
  40. Padding: DC Campaign structure lends itself towards a lot of redoing the same skirmish missions repeatedly
  41. Padding: The Soulstorm campaign is pure padding. Way too many provinces that take way too long, and that’s not counting the frustrations of navigating the map and the maps
  42. Padding: There’s general issues across the entire vanilla campaign where you just take too long to do too little
  43. Pathfinding: It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen…
  44. Pathfinding: …but it’s pretty bad
  45. Seconds In Minutes: WA Disorder Mission 4 also has a ton of Seconds In Minutes padding
  46. Seconds in Minutes: Soulstorm is one of the most padded RTS games I’ve ever seen and I can’t possibly combine all of that into a cohesive list so instead we’ll just give…
  47. Seconds in Minutes: ….a full…
  48. Seconds in Minutes: …three negatives
  49. Sound Design: Audio balancing
  50. Sound Design: That audio spam is both back and actively awful in Soulstorm in particular
  51. Sound Design: The audio barks are… honestly pretty spammy
  52. Terrain Design: The pathfinding just does not know how to understand the new ramps in Soulstorm
  53. Unit Design: Severely unbalanced units during the vanilla campaign
  54. Viscerality: Dark Eldar are gross, unpleasant, and actively bleh to even deal with
  55. Viscerality: Sisters of Battle. For how cool they look, they feel awful
  56. Difficulty Curve: Soulstorm’s difficulty curve is wonky as hell and all over the place, regardless of difficulty setting
  57. Replayability: Soulstorm actively resists replayability
  58. Terrain Design: General issues with map designs not supporting unit movement and being frustrating, and worse, the terrain itself essentially doesn’t matter other than being a series of corridors

Dawn of War 2

The absolutely unforgivable CPU bug aside, the game is… well, about the same as 1, really. Oh not in gameplay, totally different focus, but it has good points and it has bad points. Definitely worth a playthrough… if you can get it running.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +15
Total Gameplay Score: -2
Golden Number: 24.23
Cheats: Yes (to show off other factions in Retribution)
Total Play Time: 4 days / 28.84 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-14-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: We’re back to having the vibe and tone of the factions in Retribution
  2. Background Lore: Chaos Rising’s optional convos
  3. Banter: Some surprisingly good banter during missions
  4. Banter: The banter between the Orks on the map screen in Retribution is just gold
  5. Brickwork: Second brickwork positive for the aforementioned
  6. Brickwork: Surprisingly top notch brickwork on the planets
  7. Brickwork: Special bonus brickwork positive for the new factions in Retribution
  8. Characters: Some memorable and enjoyable characters in Retribution
  9. Cinematic: Generally cool cinematics
  10. Cutscene: Surprisingly good cutscenes surrounding the Exterminatus
  11. Dialogue: Retribution’s dialogue is honestly top notch
  12. External Continuity: Lots of great connections to Dawn of War
  13. Humor: Da Orks. ‘Nuff said.
  14. Moment: Being on Typhon during the Exterminatus
  15. Moment: Terminator Tarkus and Dreadnought Gabriel
  16. MSQ: Some of the traitor scenes are actually quite well done. One point for each… Thaddeus, broken by the vanilla game…
  17. MSQ: …and last and best of all, Avitus, who did not fall at all, merely gave in and gave up on everything
  18. MSQ: …Jonah, consumed by a demon after being betrayed by his trusted ally…
  19. Storytelling Mechanic: Item tooltips
  20. Storytelling Mechanic: Mission selection maps, provinces, and of course the slowly encroaching Hive Fleet
  21. Storytelling Mechanic: The descriptions on the Ork items in particular are just kind of awesome
  22. Voice Acting: Chaos Rising
  23. Voice Acting: Retribution
  24. Voice Acting: Retribution
  25. Voice Acting: Some good voice acting for just about everyone
  26. World Building: Some really good background world building for the local sector
  27. Foreshadowing: Though it doesn’t pay off well, there is decent foreshadowing across the games
  28. Pacing: Surprisingly good pacing throughout
  29. Themes: The entirety of DoW2 does a really, really good job of showcasing the overall theme of War40k; There is no victory or better tomorrow or anything, there’s just the never-ending nonstop grind, and it sucks

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Several honestly irritating characters in vanilla, but none more so than Avitus
  2. Cinematic: Over-edited, Eldar are stupid, and spoils the hell out of the Tyrannids
  3. Dialogue: Cyrus (can’t spit it out) and Gabriel (repetition repetition repetition)
  4. External Continuity: So we’re just going to teleport all over the place
  5. External Continuity: This is not how a lot of this works
  6. MSQ: Some of the traitor scenes (Martellus most of all) are just sort of… what?
  7. Outro: But what adds that third final ‘screw you’ is that this is the epic end of a story arc that started in DoW1 Vanilla and terminates here and it’s all just a deflated balloon
  8. Outro: Not a particularly good series of endings either, made worse by how barely different they are
  9. Outro: So the ending final mission is… very very clearly designed for Space Marines, to the point where it’s not even funny anymore
  10. Outro: Then there’s most of the endings which are just way, way too short to have any meaning or meat on their bones
  11. Outro: Vanilla outro. Plain and unimpressive
  12. Plot: Load of hooey in just… all directions, really
  13. Writing: Eldar continue to be aggravating
  14. Writing: The Smuggler Problem with Retribution’s plot for the non main trio

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Alternate Leveling: Leveling, points, builds
  2. Boss: While vanilla, some effort and design is put into the traitor bosses
  3. Core Mechanic: Asymmetry between purity/chaos
  4. Core Mechanic: Honor guard
  5. Enemy Variety: Similarly good variety across the Orks, Eldar, and Tyrannids
  6. Enemy Variety: Continuing good variety in Retribution
  7. HUD: Generally good visual distinction (color, icons, outlines)
  8. Hyperbeam Moment: Controlling the two predator tanks in the Chaos finale
  9. Itemization: Wargear and related builds and upgrades
  10. Kit: Additional difficulty options and kit from going Chaos
  11. Level: Angel Gate. Multiple objectives that can be done in whatever order and most of which are optional
  12. Level: Angel Gate 2 and Terminator Tarkus
  13. Level: CR Mission 2, the introduction of the Librarian and the gauntlet and reverse timed gauntlet
  14. Minigame: Last Stand mode. Variety in waves, mirror match later on, progression keeps across matches, and general horde mode co-op fun…
  15. Minigame: …for two positives
  16. Music: Some great stuff…
  17. Music: …and some epic stuff
  18. Outro: The final vanilla level
  19. Outro: The first half of the Chaos finale was actually quite fun, in fact it was the most fun I had in the entire game to-date
  20. Pacing: Surprisingly good pacing of the missions
  21. Sound Design: Some surprisingly good sound design in making chatter not spammy, audio design of the weapons, and general ambiance
  22. Terrain Design: Destructible terrain/cover as well as cover mattering
  23. Terrain Design: Garrisoning and related mechanics
  24. Unit Design: Some good variety in the squad and their abilities
  25. Viscerality: Decent

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Bosses: Neat ideas but slow health padded slog fests
  2. Bug: So… the game will not launch on modern processors. This leads to a lot of issues but the biggest is that the game will not run, at all, and is a situation that will only get worse over time…
  3. Bug: …for…
  4. Bug: …three negatives
  5. Bug: Then there’s the ‘fix’ for it which involves editing the BIOS, which is problematic for several reasons…
  6. Bug: …for…
  7. Bug: …another three negatives
  8. Controls: Finicky with selecting movement, good luck finding the exact spot you want to send your units to, if they obey orders at all
  9. Controls: Inability to have multiple control groups (despite large groups in Retribution, and the fact that DoW1 already had the concept)
  10. Difficulty Options: Boring difficulty design
  11. HUD: Several elements are way, way too small to see at a glance, such as enemy health (which was done better in DoW1!) and party stats
  12. Level: Space hulk level. It’s way too long, way too narrow of corridors, and the boss battle is absolutely ridiculous
  13. Levels: Too long and too little to them
  14. Outro: So… a long corridor, even more narrow than usual, with irritating terrain to navigate, with a very, very boring boss which has way, way too much health. The boss also can go invuln periodically, and can withdraw and regen his towers’ health even if you kill one (and they’re not out long enough to kill two) and just… the whole thing is absolutely awful…
  15. Outro: …leading to…
  16. Outro: …three negatives
  17. Outro: The final Nurgle boss battle was, at best, lacking. Basically just yet another boss battle of the same type all the others have been
  18. Padding: Health in general
  19. Padding: Retribution starts to lean into padding a lot harder than previous campaigns. For some reason each level is simultaneously too small and too long, and it just slogs the entire experience out
  20. Padding: Whack-a-mole
  21. Pathfinding: It’s still there, just not as bad
  22. Pathfinding: Rears its ugly head again in Retribution
  23. Saves: No mid mission saves
  24. Sound Design: Inconsistent audio compression for lines during Chaos Rising
  25. Terrain Design: Multiple terrain issues in map design in Retribution
  26. Unskippable Cutscenes: Weirdly true, but they’re there
  27. Difficulty Curve: The difficulty spikes in Chaos Rising are just weird and off

Total War Warhammer 3

While not quite my thing, make no mistake; this is a very, very good game. Tons of factions, tons of variety of playstyles, and very very few ‘bad’ ones. That’s a feat, and no mistake.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +45
Total Gameplay Score: +40
Golden Number: 182.32
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 7 days / 60.77 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-22-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Spritework: Beastmen
  2. Spritework: Bretonnia
  3. Spritework: Chaos Dwarves
  4. Spritework: Dark Elves
  5. Spritework: Dwarves
  6. Spritework: Empire
  7. Spritework: Grand Cathay
  8. Spritework: Greenskins, of course
  9. Atmosphere: Hero intro videos
  10. Atmosphere: Hero intro videos
  11. Atmosphere: Hero intro videos
  12. Spritework: High Elves
  13. Spritework: Kislev
  14. Spritework: Lizardmen
  15. Spritework: Ogres
  16. Spritework: Skaven
  17. Spritework: Tomb Kings
  18. Spritework: Vampire Counts
  19. Spritework: Wood Elves
  20. Brickwork: Cities and Sieges x1
  21. Brickwork: Cities and Sieges x2
  22. Brickwork: Cities and Sieges x3
  23. Brickwork: Coastal areas
  24. Brickwork: Craggy wastes
  25. Brickwork: European areas
  26. Brickwork: Green Cathay areas
  27. Brickwork: Settlements
  28. Brickwork: Snowy minor settlement
  29. Brickwork: Tropical areas
  30. Brickwork: Ulthuan areas
  31. Brickwork: Unit cards and related unit artwork
  32. Cinematic: The Lost God opening cinematic is very well done. A bit too narrated, but still wonderfully directed, great art style, and good music, voice acting, and transitions…
  33. Cinematic: …for two positives
  34. Cutscene: Realms of Chaos, Chaos Dwarves intro
  35. Cutscene: The Lost God finale cinematic is, as with the intro, exceptionally well done, implies much, and is brilliantly presented…
  36. Cutscene: …for another two positives
  37. Cutscenes: Realms of Chaos Intros
  38. Cutscenes: Realms of Chaos Ogres, Cathay
  39. Sound Design: Soundscape
  40. Sound Design: Soundscape
  41. Sound Design: Soundscape
  42. Voice Acting: Dark Elves
  43. Voice Acting: Dwarves
  44. Voice Acting: Grand Cathay
  45. Voice Acting: Greenskins
  46. Voice Acting: High Elves
  47. Voice Acting: Imperials
  48. Voice Acting: Ogres
  49. Voice Acting: Wood Elves
  50. External Continuity: Though invalid now thanks to Age of Sigmar, they do some good work with Warhammer Fantasy

Story Negatives:

  1. Plot: Prologue. It’s… not great
  2. Plot: Realm of Chaos. It’s… also not great
  3. Story Sequencing: Realm of Chaos… and the lack thereof
  4. Outro: The endings, brief they may be, for each race’s Realm of Chaos thing are just kind of… there
  5. Atmosphere: General squick from several factions

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: Slowdown on casts, alt or regular click to change attacks, smooth and intuitive camera in battle, lots of hotkeying
  2. Difficulty Options: Good strategic layer difficulty settings
  3. HUD: Battle: Zzz, portrait, order type, relative health
  4. HUD: Flag at-a-glance for unit types regardless of faction
  5. Info In Game: A decent amount…
  6. Info In Game: In-game encyclopedia for units and spells (but no search function)
  7. Info In Game: …earning two positives
  8. Interface: Diplomacy QoL and features
  9. Interface: Diplomacy Quick Deal
  10. Interface: Mouseover / lock
  11. Interface: Search function
  12. Kit: Heroes in general…
  13. Kit: …deserve…
  14. Kit: …three positives
  15. Minigame: Infinite Portal is basically skirmish mode again… but with fun mutators
  16. Minigame: Option to play as quest battles from the menu
  17. Minigame: Quest battles
  18. Minigame: Skirmish mode, general
  19. Minigame: Skirmish options for custom armies on both sides, presets, map selection, etc.
  20. Minigame: Trials of Fate; a fun challenge map style battle to score points to gain benefits for the main campaign
  21. Mod: Modularity
  22. Mod: QoL
  23. Mod: QoL
  24. Mod: Tools
  25. QoL: Auto Resolve is surprisingly good, usually
  26. Starting Options: Especially for Immortal Empire
  27. Starting Options: Factions factions factions
  28. Starting Options: So many lords
  29. Strategic: Archaon (Unit upgrades, Authority, Warband recruitment, Path To Glory, Gifts of Chaos)
  30. Strategic: Cathay: Compass, caravans, yin/yang balance
  31. Strategic: Chaos Dwarves
  32. Strategic: Chaos Dwarves, again
  33. Strategic: Chaos Dwarves, for real
  34. Strategic: Khorne
  35. Strategic: Skaven
  36. Strategic: Tomb Kings
  37. Strategic: Tomb Kings, again
  38. Strategic: Tzeentch
  39. Strategic: Wood Elves strategic build tall design
  40. Strategic Layer: Beastmen (Ruin, Dread, lunar cycles, unlocking tech)
  41. Strategic Layer: Dark Elves (Malus and Rakarth)
  42. Strategic Layer: Empire Markus mechanics
  43. Strategic Layer: Greenskins Paunch (cooking buffs, built-in side objectives, keep recipes for successful combos)
  44. Unit Design: : Cathay
  45. Unit Design: : Chaos Dwarves
  46. Unit Design: : High Elves
  47. Unit Design: : Khorne
  48. Unit Design: : Kislev
  49. Unit Design: : Skaven
  50. Unit Design: : Slaanesh and speed
  51. Unit Design: : Tomb Kings
  52. Unit Design: : Tzeentch
  53. Unit Design: Beastman (Taurox)
  54. Unit Design: Dark Elves (Lokhir and Arks)
  55. Unit Design: Empire (vanilla unit spread)
  56. Unit Design: Greenskins
  57. Unit Design: Vampire Counts
  58. Viscerality: General
  59. Camera: Cinematic camera mode (and slow mode)
  60. Music: Some decent stuff, mostly for certain factions
  61. Replayability: I mean, yeah
  62. Save System: Decent autosave and quick save/load

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Camera: Camera wonkiness
  2. Controls: Inability to have multiple control groups (similar to Dawn of War 2)
  3. Controls: Lack of hotkeying and other basic RTS functionality
  4. Controls: Some periodic wonkiness in how the game controls (fairly typical for a Total War game)
  5. Core Combat: Dragon Age 2 Syndrome
  6. Core Combat: Lack of toggle for friendly fire
  7. Core Mechanic: Limitations of diplomacy (better than previous Total War games, but still noticeably lacking)
  8. DLC: The Paradox problem (worthwhile DLC but a lot of it)
  9. Interface: Periodic little issues all over the place
  10. Kit: Yuri’s customize-a-demon is a neat idea but falls flat in practice, made even worse by the fact that he can’t actually equip items
  11. Late Game: Is just mid game again minus the crisis
  12. Levels: Settlement maps are a bit eh at best, and arduous at worst
  13. Mid Game: By the time you’ve reached mid game you’ve long-since already figured out your strategic and tactical layers and outside of individual quests there’s nothing really new past that point
  14. Minigame: Realm of Chaos
  15. Minigame: Realm of Chaos
  16. Minigame: Tzeentch’s Realm of Chaos
  17. Strategic: Nurgle momentum problem (end turn end turn)
  18. Terrain: A lot of maps have no real relevance of terrain (especially the many chaos wasteland areas)
  19. Unit Design: Yuri’s faction is honestly just worse than the actual demon factions in every way
  20. Unskippable Cutscenes: A few here and there, notably ambush cinematics
  21. Visual Distinction: Periodic issues telling what you’re looking at, depending on the map
  22. Music: Some generic stuff, to the point where you just tune it out (again, depending on faction)

Bloodstained Ritual of the Night

While much more problematic than its spinoffs, and not quite reaching the heights of SotN, it’s still a good game I can definitely recommend to anyone interested in the genre.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: +21
Golden Number: 42.63
Cheats: Yes (to bypass the first Zangetsu fight)
Total Play Time: 4 days / 25.67 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-2-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Cathedral
  2. Brickwork: Caves
  3. Brickwork: City area
  4. Brickwork: Hall of Termination
  5. Brickwork: Hidden Desert
  6. Brickwork: Ship
  7. Brickwork: Sorcery Labs
  8. Brickwork: Twin Dragons Towers
  9. Brickwork: Village
  10. Doodads: Hub
  11. Doodads: Village
  12. Humor: Okay, you got me with Benjamin, I’ll admit it
  13. Voice Acting: Despite what they’re saying, the voice acting itself is quite legit
  14. Outro: Okay weirdly enough the drawn pseudo animated scenes for the end of Classic Mode were pretty good

Story Negatives:

  1. Camera: Further, cutscenes like to do tons of jump cuts to imply action, but not in a good way
  2. Character: Everyone, really
  3. Character: Miriam and the bouncing personality
  4. Character: Zangetsu and the edgelord
  5. Dialogue: It’s… well, I’ve heard worse, but it’s not good at all
  6. Humor: Or lack thereof. The game takes itself too seriously to its own detriment, moments that could be hilarious or cheeky (like in, y’know, a Castlevania) fall flat due to drama trying too hard
  7. Outro: I don’t even know where to start. The total lack of any characterization for Dominique despite her being the final villain, the castle wisping out (which I’m fine with) but being done with just the weirdest camera usage… whole thing was just off
  8. Storyboarding: It’s… it’s pretty bad. The cutscenes are stiff, jarring, and badly thought out…
  9. Storyboarding: …earning two negatives
  10. Vignettes: These actively detract from the overall narrative, mostly due to the use of the actual game models just standing there lifelessly. Even SoTN had animations during cutscenes
  11. Writing: So Dominique betrays us. This… has absolutely no impact whatsoever. In actual fact it would work better if she was just evil all along, or if someone else betrays us, but instead it tries for a twist that has zero impact because no effort has been made to develop Dominique, Miriam’s connection with her, or the player’s investment in her
  12. Fake Drama: Pretty much everything to do with Alfred, but Zangetsu falls into this too. Both of these people actively try to murder us despite not being our enemies, among the always awful…
  13. Writing: …can’t spit it out problem

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Alfred
  2. Boss: Dominique
  3. Boss: Gebel
  4. Boss: General
  5. Boss: The 8 Bit Overlord is actually a pretty well designed boss, especially in its phase 2 when it starts layering its own mechanics
  6. Build: But where this game really has something over most other metroidvanias I’ve played is Build potential. Accessories, equipment, shards, passives, weapons. Lots of options for how you play through and lots of viable options…
  7. Build: …earning the game…
  8. Build: …triple positives for build
  9. Controls: Generally good, though a few input and lag issues here and there
  10. Core Combat: Generally fun and interesting
  11. Cosmetics: Extensive recoloring system
  12. Enemy Design: Some good enemy design throughout
  13. Enemy Variety: Not as great as, say, SoTN but it’s still good
  14. HUD: Minimap adjusting
  15. Info In Game: Demons, items, stats, progress
  16. Interface: Bestiary, and while not the best, there’s still useful info therein
  17. Interface: Color distinction, ready access to information
  18. Interface: Loadouts! They can be customized extensively and…
  19. Interface: …also loaded quickly and on the fly
  20. Intro: The Galleon does a good job of giving you a lot to do while also clearly indicating things you can come back to do later
  21. Itemization: Drops. While there’s some issues, most of the static drops in the world are well done
  22. Kit: Weapons aren’t as extensive as, say, SoTN but they’re still there
  23. Kit: Zangetsu. He has a great setup and great kit
  24. Kit: Shards. There’s so, so many and of such variety, even amongst categories…
  25. Kit: …easily earning shards…
  26. Kit: …three positives
  27. Level: Classic stages are nice remixes of the Castlevania 1 stages
  28. Level: Initial loop
  29. Level: Train section
  30. Level: Twin Dragon Towers
  31. Leveling: Mastery
  32. Map: Decent, scaleable and scrollable, and you can leave markers
  33. Minigame: Surprisingly decent boss rush mode
  34. Minigame: The Randomizer mode being built in is pretty legit
  35. Minimap: Pretty good one, indicating a lot of stuff and your current position
  36. Music: Classic tracks
  37. New Game Plus: Good new game plus is, as always…
  38. New Game Plus: …a plus
  39. Starting Options: While not the best, there’s some decent starting options for the Randomizer mode
  40. Traversal: It takes a while to get traversal tech, but once you do it’s pretty fun
  41. Viscerality: The game looks and feels pretty awesome to play
  42. Visual Distinction: Where it’s good, it’s good, as it should be for a metroidvania
  43. Replayability: Lots of different modes, styles of play, and builds

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Spam: In combat
  2. Audio Spam: In menus
  3. Audio Spam: While casting!
  4. Boss: Also the Zangetsu fight being the first boss is bonkers. This should be a mid level boss. The fact that you HAVE to fight him so early, with no alternative progression, is insane
  5. Boss: General health padding issues across the board
  6. Boss: The Zangetsu fight is bad in its own right. Inconsistent hurtboxes, punishes you no matter what you do, and audio spammy as hell
  7. Early Game: Early Game Hell
  8. Grind: Shards and materials. This grind is honestly pretty bad, especially if you want to 100%
  9. Guidance: There are several sections across the game where what you can interact with or where you can or should go is super unclear
  10. Info in Game: Everything to do with Mastery
  11. Itemization: Gold scarcity problem is pretty bad until you get Augment Gold
  12. Level: Den of Behemoths. It’s just kind of… blandly irritating
  13. Outro: The last dungeon kinda sucks and the Bael fight definitely sucks…
  14. Outro: …earning double negatives
  15. QoL: General absence of quality of life features for 100%ing. No trackers, quest logs, flags or markers, and a whole lot of information in ONE place and not properly cross referenced
  16. Seconds In Minutes: Corridors, same issue from SoTN
  17. Seconds In Minutes: Crafting. Does it really need to take an animation every single time?
  18. Seconds In Minutes: General. There’s minute problems throughout basically every interaction in the game
  19. Visual Distinction: When it’s bad, it’s pretty bad
  20. Walkthroughitis: So the first iteration of this is trying to get into the train station
  21. Walkthroughitis: Good luck figuring out where to get the spike breaker armor!
  22. Walkthroughitis: Bad ending with Gebel is super easy to walk into, and the game IS clear that it’s not the end, but good luck figuring out what to do next

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Still finicky but much, much better game than the first one in essentially every way. Fantastic visuals, platforming, combat, bosses, and is legitimately fun to 100%. Hugely recommended.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +39
Total Gameplay Score: +48
Golden Number: 268.64
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 days / 16.35 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-6-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: Spot on throughout, special praise though going to the larger creatures like Shriek
  2. Atmosphere: Mouldwood Depths. What can I say about this place. It manages to be incredibly creepy and horrifying without ever walking over the line
  3. Brickwork: Baur’s Reach
  4. Brickwork: Inkwater Marsh
  5. Brickwork: Inkwater Marsh
  6. Brickwork: Intro… while an odd choice, the Intro has its own unique areas redrawn and redesigned for this game and they brilliantly showcase Nibel
  7. Brickwork: Kwolok’s Hollow
  8. Brickwork: Luma Pools
  9. Brickwork: Midnight Burrows
  10. Brickwork: Mouldwood Depths…
  11. Brickwork: …in all its horror
  12. Brickwork: Silent Woods…
  13. Brickwork: …which actually deserves two because good God is this place desolate, and it sells it brilliantly with the visuals
  14. Brickwork: Wellspring Glades
  15. Brickwork: The Wellspring itself
  16. Brickwork: Windswept Wastes
  17. Characters: Shriek. Everything about Shriek is absolutely terrifying, from the movement to the sounds to the inhuman mutations and curse she carries
  18. Doodads: Mouldwood Depths, again. The Depths are just… wow. The amount of unique details in the various insects trapped in the mold, ugh
  19. External Continuity: Intro! Direct sequel, and directly shaped by the events of its predecessor
  20. Lighting: Excellent usage everywhere
  21. Lighting: Mouldwood Depths gets special mention (again…) by not just how it looks in general, but how it uses darkness to add to the scene. You can always see juuust enough
  22. Moment: Baur’s Reach escape is, as per usual, intense and terrifying (good up close shot of Shriek too)
  23. Moment: The Intro, naturally, manages several powerful moments. From the attempts at flying to the family home to the flight…
  24. Moment: …and then the storm, lost in the storm
  25. Moment: The reunion with Ku… and the first really big showcasing of Shriek
  26. Moment: The Watermill escape sequence is, of course, excellent
  27. Moment: The Windtorn Ruins escape sequence continues the Escape Sequence enjoyment (narratively)
  28. MSQ: The slow, long slog through the Silent Woods is absolutely horrifying
  29. Music Direction: Obvious really, but the way it’s used constantly adds to the scenes…
  30. NPC Set Dressing: Mostly in town, but it happens here and there throughout
  31. Side Quests: The Moki and his family, rebuilding the town, etc.
  32. Sound Design: Mouldwood Depths, again. The chittering, the whispers, the creeping rot
  33. Sound Design: Silent Woods similarly sells itself fantastically
  34. Visual Storytelling: Intro, as per usual for this series
  35. Visual Storytelling: Silent Woods (petrified creatures everywhere… and long decayed owl corpses)
  36. Outro: The Brickwork on the Outro, the music, the last dungeon in general sells the scene perfectly
  37. Outro: And the final fight is legitimately epic. Between the music, the storm, the horror, the vibe and tone…
  38. Outro: …is worthy of two positives
  39. Spritework: Better than the last time, with actual NPCs, better enemy variety, and far better boss design…
  40. Spritework: …for double positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Outro: However for all the awesomeness that the final dungeon and final boss have, the ending itself honestly feels pretty flat. We become a tree (no shock there), life moves on, the end… I get that the general vibe is that things keep moving on but after two games of build up it just sort of deflates

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Kwolok. Despite some irritations with the checkpointing, he has a wide variety of attacks and is fun to avoid
  2. Boss: Mora. This is honestly probably the best boss in the game to-date, with lots of great attacks, viscerality, general fun, proper checkpointing, and even being thematically on point between the mold and the usage of darkness…
  3. Boss: …earning Mora two positives
  4. Combat: Core combat is both generally and specifically fun…
  5. Combat: …earning two positives
  6. Controls: When it’s good, it’s good
  7. Fast Travel: Good fast travel, decent spread of nodes, and most importantly it’s actually fast travel instead of a waypoint system…
  8. Fast Travel: …earning two positives
  9. Guidance and Flow: Noticably better than the previous game, with 100%ing being actually enjoyable, in addition to other QoL features that help you to know where to go both generally and specifically to find items…
  10. Guidance and Flow: …earning two positives
  11. Intro: The Inkwater Marsh is generally well designed, and does a lot to guide and loop the player in and out of where they need to be and go…
  12. Intro: …culminating in getting traversal options early and a decent, if basic, first boss fight
  13. Kit: Lots of fun kit for combat, giving rise to multiple possible playstyles, between fast sword, heavy hammer, precise ranged attacks…
  14. Kit: …earning two positives
  15. Level: Bauer’s Reach
  16. Level: Bauer’s Reach
  17. Level: Inkwater Marsh
  18. Level: Inkwater Marsh
  19. Level: Kwolok’s Hollow
  20. Level: Kwolok’s Hollow
  21. Level: Luma Pools
  22. Level: Luma Pools
  23. Level: Mouldwood Depths
  24. Level: Mouldwood Depths
  25. Level: Mouldwood Depths
  26. Level: Silent Woods
  27. Level: Silent Woods
  28. Level: Wellspring Glades
  29. Level: Wellspring Glades
  30. Level: Wellspring Glades
  31. Map: Small, minor improvements make the map generally more useful than in the previous game
  32. Minigame: 100%ing is honestly pretty fun and smooth to do
  33. Minigames: Races. There’s a couple of bullcraps here and there, but they’re by and large still fun to do
  34. Music: Great music, honestly…
  35. Music: …easily earning two positives
  36. QoL: Map markers, health bars, quick menuing, etc.
  37. Saves: So there’s no manual saving but there’s lots and lots of auto saving, and an indicator when it’s saved, and the ability to load the last dozen or so saves… it’s intelligent, quick, and well designed…
  38. Saves: …earning two positives
  39. Terrain Design: Top notch terrain design, top to bottom, some of the best I’ve seen…
  40. Terrain Design: …easily earning…
  41. Terrain Design: …three positives
  42. Traversal: What can I say? It’s a treat to get around, and gets better as you get more options…
  43. Traversal: …earning two positives
  44. Tutorialization: General level design (introduce, escalate, test)
  45. Tutorialization: Immediate, surprisingly well done indication of climbing as a feature right off the bat, in addition to area design intended to get the player used to navigation and controls
  46. Viscerality: Much more so than the first game, this one feels a lot more satisfying in all three categories, being fun to watch, fun to hear, and fulfilling to hit…
  47. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  48. Backtracking: As traversal ‘evolves’ and you gain new access and new movement, backtracking becomes a whole new thing
  49. Builds: Between weapon choices (of which there’s a lot) and spirit shards, decent amount of options here
  50. Enemy Variety: Not the best I’ve ever seen, but still a good spread of enemy types and attacks
  51. Replayability: Definitely a replayable game, despite its length
  52. Visual Distinction: Same general positives from the previous game
  53. Outro: The final dungeon is a great example of how to do proper Wily Stages; final exams all around, for all the kit and mechanics the rest of the game has been building up to this point. It’s just long enough to be challenging without overstaying its welcome…
  54. Outro: …earning two positives
  55. Outro: Then there’s the final boss, which is just plain awesome (and properly checkpointed!) which has great moveset, kit, fun, and escalation…
  56. Outro: …for two positives
  57. Song: Shadows of Mouldwood…
  58. Song: …for two positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Lack of rebinding… again…
  2. Controls: Some of the controls (most notably the L1 abilities like Bash and the Grapple) are… finicky. They just do not work right, and it’s inconsistent how they do work
  3. Core Combat: Inconsistent hurtboxes
  4. Difficulty Options: Lazy difficulty as usual
  5. Level: There’s a section of Baur’s Reach which can go directly to hell. Every issue there is a minor one (really) but they compound really badly. First, the way grenade throwing works, which necessitates using the analog controller… which then means the tight platforming over spikes and with invincible chompers is worse… but then the chompers can instantly kill you if you get ‘stuck’ on them in the wrong way thanks to crushing… and also the game just periodically refuses to acknowledge the bash targeting thanks to needing the charged version of the grenade… also the aiming of the grenade itself is ‘fine’ as long as you’re not in a hurry, but for this section you absolutely are…
  6. Mid Mission Checkpoint: Total lack of checkpoints on the Kwolok fight
  7. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Good luck doing the Baur’s Reach escape over and over if you screw up!
  8. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Good luck doing the desert ruins escape over and over if you screw up!
  9. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Good luck doing the Watermill escape over and over if you screw up
  10. Walkthroughitis: It’s not quite walkthroughitis but it’s still an issue… it’s the ‘last 2% of the game’ problem, same issue Super Metroid has

Shantae

While you can sort of see why people were interested in it back then, and the bones of the series are there, this game… is absolutely terrible. I strongly do not recommend this.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: -34
Golden Number: -70.88
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 9.41 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-7-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: Surprisingly good, especially in cutscenes
  2. Brickwork: General
  3. Atmosphere: Charm
  4. NPC Set Dressing: Surprisingly decent throughout

Story Negatives:

  1. Cutscene Incompetence: So ignoring the fact that there’s very little chance we wouldn’t recognize Risky, the thing that pushes this into negative territory is she just straight up robs us and we’re helpless while she does so until the second she leaves

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Saves: Save states, multiple slots, quick load
  2. Saves: Save states from anywhere
  3. Music: Surprisingly good for the console
  4. Mid Mission Checkpointing:
  5. Level: To my shock I rather liked the blue and red magnet gimmick of the Golem Mines

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Slow, sluggish, and awful
  2. Unskippable Cutscenes: Yep
  3. Visual Distinction: At times it’s legitimately hard to tell what’s a platform and what isn’t
  4. Camera: It’s so zoomed in its not just claustrophobic, it’s an impediment to seeing where you’re going
  5. Terrain Design: Or lack thereof
  6. Encounters: Enemies really like to spawn either right on you, or in a place where you couldn’t avoid them because you can’t see them coming
  7. Options: Or lack thereof. No sound options, no rebinding…
  8. Level: Water Fountain (irritating puzzle interactions, walkthroughitis in some cases, samey corridors, lots of cheap death pits)
  9. Boss: First boss! Long invuln phases, irritating hurtbox, boring attacks
  10. Penalty For Failure: Lives systems are not an automatic negative… but they are when they’re just kind of tacked on in this manner and not really thought out
  11. Core Mechanic: Slow, irritating, easy to screw up, and the game doesn’t pause while doing it
  12. Seconds In Minutes: A lot of actions take longer than they should, but the transformations are the worst
  13. Level: Golem Mines. Man, doing this without a map or a guide… good freaking luck
  14. Boss: Second boss… good luck figuring out what to do to even hurt him
  15. Fast Travel: Or rather, waypoint, but it’s still aggravating
  16. Map: Or lack thereof! Really would be useful, and my own playthrough got noticeably better once I started using a map from a walkthrough
  17. MSQ: The Rottytop race. We did tests; you get ONE screw up and can come back, otherwise it’s a failure. There’s no hints, the screen is zoomed too far in to react properly, so it boils down to memorization, and it’s actually mandatory…
  18. MSQ: …leading to…
  19. MSQ: …triple negative territory
  20. Walkthroughitis: Dungeon 1, dungeon 3, and honestly in general
  21. Boss: The third boss is so damned boring and slow in addition to having way too much health
  22. Overworld: This overworld can go directly to hell. Boring, irritating, frustrating, blind jumps, gotcha enemies, sloggy, just… bad bad bad…
  23. Overworld: …earning…
  24. Overworld: …three negatives
  25. Padding: The absolute aggravation of the overworld cannot be overstated. Save points are few and far between, the screen is too zoomed in to avoid all encounters, the encounters themselves are honestly just straight up bullcrap, and so you’re sort of inclined to take it very very slowly as you inch through the overworld mostly just trying to survive (also thanks to the day night cycle) all makes navigating the overworld a colossal slog…
  26. Padding: …earning…
  27. Padding: …three negatives
  28. Itemization: Far too few gems for how much everything costs
  29. Visual Distinction: So you can climb on some walls, but not others. Nothing whatsoever indicates which is which. Screw you
  30. Backtracking: This is, honestly, one of the worst backtracking offenders I’ve seen in recent memory. Dungeons, towns, overworld, you are constantly going back and forth and back and forth and it’s arduous, tedious, and worst of all, completely the same each trip…
  31. Backtracking: …committing all the sins of, and earning…
  32. Backtracking: …three negatives
  33. Level: Twinkle Palace. Instant death spikes everywhere, irritations in navigation, blind jumps, and lots and lots of backtracking
  34. Guidance and Flow: Or total lack thereof, in dungeons and overworld both
  35. Boss: So the boss of the Twinkle dungeon is boring as dishwater. Hit him on the head three times, attack him, repeat like 5 or 6 times, that’s it
  36. Outro: So the last dungeon relies (heavily) on the swap mechanic
  37. Outro: Then there’s the Tinkertank which is extraordinarily boring and requires nonstop backtracking and transforming
  38. Outro: Theeen there’s the actual final boss which has very unclear… everything, really
  39. Visual Continuity: Good luck figuring out where you are or where to go like… at all times, really

Shantae Risky's Revenge

Substantially improved from the previous, though ultimately still a pretty unmemorable game. Worth it for the shtick and the visuals.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +10
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Golden Number: 20.89
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 7.1 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-8-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Scuttletown area
  2. Brickwork: Forest
  3. Brickwork: Plains
  4. Brickwork: General
  5. Animation: Honestly the animation is pretty legit throughout, to the point where it’s a highlight of the whole game…
  6. Animation: …easily earning two positives
  7. Atmosphere: As per the first game, good charm and tone
  8. Humor: Okay the coffee gag got me, I’ll give ya that
  9. Spritework: As is pretty normal for the GBA, the Spritework is crazy good. This one easily and effortlessly gained…
  10. Spritework: …a full…
  11. Spritework: …three positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Outro: While plot isn’t the game’s strongsuit, the Outro sort of… bombs pretty hard. I’m thoroughly unimpressed with it, lots of generic ‘we fight with friends’ talk and nothing to back it up, and a lot of empty text which is… weird in a game with so little dialogue to begin with

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: For the most part, decent
  2. Kit: Transformations are much better this time around, monkey most of all, and do add to the overall kit
  3. Guidance: Surprisingly good guidance for the most part
  4. Overworld: Most of the overworld’s connective tissue is generally decent and a nice improvement over the first game
  5. Level: Squid Baron’s Labyrinth
  6. Animation: Lots of good animations in enemies helping with bosses and attacks
  7. Level: Ammo Baron’s battle tower is honestly pretty legit, but more so because of how it varies up the gameplay significantly from the typical dungeon crawl of the previous
  8. Fast Travel: Waypoints, actually, but still decent
  9. Music: Yep. Jake Kauffman continues to be Jake Kauffman

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Boss: Squidbaron. He’s not a bad boss by himself but he has a crapton of health, no indicators that magic is his weakness, and obtaining magic is both optional and takes a while to backtrack to if you didn’t get it initially
  2. Level: So there’s this one segment of traversal across the cove where you have to navigate these moving thin platforms. It sucks, mostly due to controls, but it still sucks, and worst it’s one long stretch of it so if you screw up… start all over
  3. Level: Hypno Baron’s dungeon is a lot of irritating trial and error if you don’t have a guide… but worse, even if you do have a guide, the place is a long slog
  4. Walkthroughitis: General, but also Hypno Baron’s dungeon
  5. Boss: Hypno Baron is a weird combination of irritating (constantly trying to get away from you) and boring (easy to dodge, has a very basic pattern)
  6. Padding: There’s… weird stretches of nothing in the game, combined with how fetch-questy it is, which just pad the whole experience out
  7. Backtracking: Not nearly as bad as last time, but still bad
  8. Outro: So, uh, the first fight is a dull refight with huge invuln phases, but the second is… okay
  9. Unskippable Cutscenes: Yeesh, they’re not often but when they’re there they’re bad.. Especially the pre boss ones

Shantae Seven Sirens

A very, very lackluster game in the series. Has some strong points, and some pretty bad weak points too. Sale buy at best.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Golden Number: 19.42
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 12.58 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-12-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Cutscenes: The return of the sketched portraits to convey cutscenes
  2. Atmosphere: Charm. It’s still got it, just like all of them do really
  3. Brickwork: Town
  4. Brickwork: General
  5. Character: Squidbaron, weirdly enough. He gets a decent amount of screen time and he does good stuff with it
  6. Spritework: While still good, it’s just.. not quite at the level of quality of the previous games. It’s still very good, of course…
  7. Spritework: …and still deserves two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Cutscene: The opening anime cinematic. I don’t even know how to summarize this. It kind of does everything wrong; too fast, too hyper, too over-edited, doesn’t indicate anything, and very very basic generic shots
  2. Character: Shantae the Idiot Ball
  3. Voice Acting: Mms and oohs and inconsistent voice acting
  4. Outro: So… the finale wasn’t bad, but the actual ending was honestly just disengaging. A disappointing ‘to be continued’ hook, no real follow through on anything, and a discouraging return to the status quo

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Boss: Angler Fish Siren and some decent gimmicks
  2. Boss: Coral Siren
  3. Boss: Risky Boots and her gradual escalation
  4. Controls: Probably the best controlling in the series to-date
  5. Difficulty Option: Story mode is properly easy and definitive mode is properly hard
  6. Itemization: Once inside an actual labyrinth the itemization is quite good
  7. Kit: It’s… pretty basic honestly, but it’s still decent
  8. Level: Coral Mine labyrinth
  9. Level: Sea Vent Lab
  10. Level: Sunken labyrinth
  11. Level: The Boiler has some issues, but still has some unique and fun parts
  12. Map: Not the best, but not bad really, with a few neat features like indicating which caves you have cleared
  13. Music: It’s no Kaufman, but there is some legit music here
  14. QoL: A few nice QoL features here and there
  15. Starting Options: The additional monster card modes
  16. Terrain: Back to more actual platforming, at least towards the beginning of the game
  17. Kit: Cards. They’re a bit limited on some modes, less so on others, but regardless of that the thing preventing them from being more positives is their wildly variable usage (some are nice, some are… not). Still some good mutators
  18. Outro: The final airship dungeon wasn’t the best but it was actually pretty decent
  19. Outro: Final boss (both of them) was actually pretty cool too, go figure
  20. Enemy Variety: Decent, as per the previous game
  21. Visual Distinction: Same generally good distinction from the previous game

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Backtracking: Not as bad as it could be but we definitely have some backtracking issues
  2. Boss: Tubeworm Siren. Honestly just a boring fight, but far too much health to boot
  3. Difficulty: Health management or lack thereof
  4. Difficulty Curve: If you can even call it that
  5. Difficulty Options: Locking content behind hard mode
  6. Encounter: The enemy spam gets really bad later on
  7. Enemy Design: Everything just hits way, way too hard
  8. Itemization: Outside in the overworld the itemization kiiinda sucks
  9. Itemization: This is even worse when it comes to things like health drops or healing items
  10. Kit: Drill is already arbitrarily just a gateway ability, but frog is worse by virtue of being a lazy reskin with instant death added
  11. Kit: Seer Dance. It uses mana, despite being plot critical, uses too much mana, and only scans the visible screen area at a time
  12. Overworld: It’s honestly a pain to navigate, and all the really frustrating enemies and obstacles are in the overworld
  13. Seconds In Minutes: Dancing returns to the slog of the second game
  14. Walkthroughitis: Only a few bits, but they’re there

Baldur's Gate 3

Reviewed at launch. And it shows, because the game is very, very rough. Constant issues in all directions, but a very good core story under that. Worth it if you like RPGs in general and CRPGs in specific.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +79
Total Gameplay Score: +21
Golden Number: 201.29
Cheats: Yes (to bypass a few irritating fights)
Total Play Time: 12 days / 104.9 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-25-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: The motion capture on everybody is fantastic and always adds to the scenes…
  2. Animation: …earning…
  3. Animation: …three positives
  4. Atmosphere: Gratitude of the people you help
  5. Background Lore: Flavor lore of items, spells, and of course Vicious Mockery
  6. Banter: It’s great… in Act 1
  7. Brickwork: Baldur’s Gate itself. The amount of detail and effort that goes into the Lower City is honestly bonkers and deserves…
  8. Brickwork: …a full…
  9. Brickwork: …three positives
  10. Brickwork: Camps…
  11. Brickwork: …and the camp variety
  12. Brickwork: Act 1 in general, nice peaceful foresty area with a few surprises
  13. Brickwork: Shar’s Temples and other similar underground venues
  14. Brickwork: The Shadowlands, which though relatively small were appropriately terrifying
  15. Brickwork: The Underdark was short but sweet
  16. Brickwork: Townscape stuff in general
  17. Character: Minsc. I honestly thought they’d screw this one up, but they nail him and his portrayal
  18. Characters: Asterion. I didn’t think I’d like him at first, but he grew on me quite a bit, especially given the nuance of his portrayal…
  19. Characters: …earning him two positives
  20. Characters: Aylin. Big, boisterous, loud, and unabashed
  21. Characters: Barcus. Credit where it’s due, this rando side quest guy we can accidentally or deliberately kill early in Act 1 proved to be one of the more memorable characters for me, going through a very human arc of coming to grips with reality…
  22. Characters: …earning him two positives
  23. Characters: The Butler. While not given a lot of screen time he kind of nails it each time he does
  24. Characters: Elminster. Another surprise, but they treated him very well, and the actor did a great job with it, and his lines were perfect
  25. Characters: Gortash is probably the most engaging of the ‘big villains’, not the least of which aided by his actor
  26. Characters: Various good characters in Act 1
  27. Characters: Jaheira. Yeah this one shocked me too, since I actively disliked Jaheira from the old games, but here we are. Took her and did something with her, good on them
  28. Characters: Ketheric and his voice actor are standout roles of course
  29. Characters: Lae’zel… this one really surprised me. She started off aggravating and very quickly grew into my favorite character in the game. Fantastic arc, voice actress, direction, dialogue, and quests. Easily earning…
  30. Characters: …a full…
  31. Characters: …three positives
  32. Characters: Last Light Inn and Act 2 in general
  33. Characters: This is a weird one but the Narrator is not just well acted but serves quite well as a GM type character, with her own personality and nuance…
  34. Characters: …earning her two positives
  35. Characters: Origins intro videos
  36. Characters: Raphael. Probably the best villain in the game, very well positioned and very well presented, and serving as a perfect antagonist for our party and our efforts…
  37. Characters: …earning two positives
  38. Characters: The refugees in general are neat, but Rolan really takes the cake here. Credit to once again making a side NPC that can die multiple times interesting and engaging
  39. Characters: Shadowheart. She really peaks during Act 2, but she does some great stuff before and after, no matter which route you take…
  40. Characters: …earning her two positives
  41. Characters: Withers. I love Withers, from his dialogue to his presentation to his actor to his calm and casual badassery
  42. Cutscene: The entire opening invasion sequence
  43. Doodads: Baldur’s Gate…
  44. Doodads: …good lord, Baldur’s Gate
  45. Doodads: Druid grove (and Act 1 in general)
  46. External Continuity: For its connections to BG1 and 2, but most importantly Forgotten Realms itself…
  47. External Continuity: …it earns…
  48. External Continuity: …three positives
  49. Foreshadowing: Quite a bit of it, and very well done for the most part…
  50. Foreshadowing: …earning two positives
  51. Gameplay / Story Integration: Several examples of powers and abilities you can gain thanks to character development and as the plot progresses
  52. Humor: It’s not often but the game makes me laugh
  53. Internal Continuity: Act 1 in general keeps things pretty tight
  54. Internal Continuity: Dark Urge and character arcs
  55. Internal Continuity: While it starts to fumble, Act 2 keeps things going
  56. Moment: Elminster’s delivery to Gale
  57. Moment: Minsc’s introduction is exactly what it should be
  58. Moment: Shadowlands establishment is absolutely terrifying
  59. Moment: The loved one Dark Urge scene and the myriad ways it can go
  60. Moment: Thorm’s establishing scene is most of why he’s legit
  61. Moment: Vlaakith’s pettiness and establishment
  62. Moment: Volo’s… surgery, gaaahh
  63. MSQ: Build up and pay off to the end of act 2
  64. MSQ: Nettie encounter and related Act 1 arc
  65. NPC Set Dressing: Baldur’s Gate itself’s Lower City is bonkers on this front, if anything it’s a bit too much
  66. NPC Set Dressing: Baldur’s Gate refugee area, honestly feels like a real city
  67. Prime Opt: Asterion’s Act 3 character quest
  68. Prime Opt: Lae’zel’s arc, as mentioned earlier, is one of the better character quests in the game
  69. Prime Opt: Minsc’s Thieves Guild quest chain
  70. Prime Opt: Shadowheart’s arc, mostly in Act 2, is awesome and powerful
  71. Prime Opt: The Circus in its entirety was a great laugh but also well done in general
  72. Secondary: Outcomes to the Hag quest
  73. Storytelling Mechanic: Speak with animals, and all the treats that brings…
  74. Storytelling Mechanic: …easily earning two positives
  75. Storytelling Mechanic: Speak with dead, which is periodically amusing and interesting
  76. Voice Acting: Asterion
  77. Voice Acting: Butler
  78. Voice Acting: Gale
  79. Voice Acting: Karlach
  80. Voice Acting: Main cast in general
  81. Voice Acting: The Narrator, of course
  82. Voice Acting: Raphael
  83. Voice Acting: Secondary cast in general
  84. Voice Acting: Shadowheart
  85. Voice Acting: Supporting cast in general
  86. Voice Direction: Main party members, naturally, are well acted in general, but also just the… entire cast…
  87. Voice Direction: …earning…
  88. Voice Direction: …three positives
  89. Music: Generally good music usage for the scene, but the Raphael fight song really sells it
  90. Brickwork: House of Hope, what can I say, it’s exactly as awful and horrifying as it should be
  91. MSQ: The Dark Urge amnesia and what it means for the character
  92. Moment: The confrontation with Bhaal and the decision to defy him was already horrifying and satisfying
  93. Prime Opt: But I give a second positive for Withers and his interruption, not just for the moment itself, but for the conclusion of the entire Dark Urge storyline
  94. Moment: I’ll give it this, Karlach’s confrontation with Gortash and her follow through is very well acted and presented
  95. Secondary: Generally decent stuff in Act 3
  96. Moment: Okay yeah, you got me game. The game acknowledging who you saved and recruited for the final battle is a great moment
  97. Prime Opt: Romances, of course

Story Negatives:

  1. Inconsistent VA: Our character(s) are voiced… except when they are not…
  2. External Continuity: Several noticeable issues with connections to the setting and previous games
  3. Moment: The first Dark Urge unavoidable killing
  4. Storytelling Mechanic: Limited party size problem
  5. Storytelling Mechanic: Limited party size problem
  6. Storytelling Mechanic: Limited party size problem
  7. Storytelling Mechanic: Having to Long Rest for cutscenes
  8. Storytelling Mechanic: Having to Long Rest for cutscenes
  9. Atmosphere: The Edge! The eeeedgeeee
  10. Character: Gale
  11. Prime Opt: I honestly disliked Wyll’s quest. Too long, too bland
  12. Writing: Ping ponging plots. The game has so much going on and doesn’t know how to properly pace or present it and so it feels like a bunch of disjointed stories which actively detracts from the narrative
  13. Prime Opt: Sarevok
  14. Fake Drama: Karlach’s quest, alone, falls into this… yes I know it’s cut content, but that doesn’t change the game we’re reviewing now
  15. Fake Drama: The fact that we are so powerful in lore and yet treated as though we are not leads to ‘oh gosh we just cannot do anything about this’ reeks of ‘cannot beat them conventionally’
  16. Plot: The very nature of the tadpole in the brain is… not the worst macguffin I’ve seen like this, but it actively reduces my enjoyment of the entire story, all the way until the ending
  17. Outro: The main ending itself is… lackluster at best, something of a non ending which barely acknowledges or fulfills on the game’s events
  18. Outro: And then there’s the fact that it’s so weird to have so little fulfilling… anything

Gameplay Positives:

  1. AI Companions: Customizable and configurable
  2. All Roads Lead To Rome: Act 1 Druids and Goblins
  3. All Roads Lead To Rome: Act 2 and the cult
  4. All Roads Lead To Rome: Act 3 and character arcs
  5. All Roads Lead To Rome: Hard to properly emphasize how much of this there is in the game. The amount of multiple paths there are to situations is, honestly, bonkers…
  6. All Roads Lead To Rome: …leading to…
  7. All Roads Lead To Rome: …a full three positives
  8. Boss: Persuasion bosses in general
  9. Builds: A modestly good amount of build gameplay possible with cross classing and sub classes
  10. Choices: Dark Urge choices get their own positive for being, functionally, the main character
  11. Choices: There is so, so much Choices gameplay it’s hard to properly emphasize…
  12. Choices: …leading to…
  13. Choices: …three positives
  14. Controls: Ability to select and control based on individual or portrait
  15. Core Combat: The ‘pocket bubble’ combat turn based things
  16. Difficulty Options: And able to swap on the fly
  17. Difficulty Options: Decent difficulty options
  18. Encounter: Burning house
  19. Encounter: Githyanki patrol
  20. Encounter: Goblin fortress
  21. Encounter: Goblins at the gate
  22. Encounter: The Hag fights
  23. Encounter: The Grove encounters
  24. Encounter: Raphael is, honestly, probably the second best designed encounter in the game and the best boss to date…
  25. Encounter: …earning two positives
  26. Encounter: Spider matriarch
  27. Encounter: The bronze dragon
  28. Encounter: The Iron Throne mission is… really, really well done in a weird way. Its very very hard if you go for everything, very easy if you don’t, made harder or easier optionally based on your deal with Mizora, and there’s a gradient to it, on top of being generally very fine tuned…
  29. Encounter: …earning it…
  30. Encounter: …three positives
  31. Encounter: Windmill goblins
  32. Enemy Variety: I mean it’s 5th edition, this one’s a bit of a gimme…
  33. Enemy Variety: …earning…
  34. Enemy Variety: …three positives
  35. Fast Travel: Good, decent, variable depending on the area
  36. Gameplay / Story Integration: Several examples of powers and abilities you can gain thanks to character development and as the plot progresses
  37. HUD: Combat, initiative and turn indicators
  38. HUD: General
  39. HUD: Movement and action indicators
  40. Interface: Nesting and other little neat touches
  41. Interface: Smart equip on selecting slot
  42. Interface: Twitch integration
  43. Inventory: Camp bank
  44. Itemization: Magic items in general are really, really well designed and offer a lot of great variety…
  45. Itemization: …earning itself…
  46. Itemization: …three positives
  47. Kit: Barbarian. Big, chonky, Rage, and good variety
  48. Kit: Bard. Not great in combat, except when it really counts, and great out of combat
  49. Kit: Cleric which, as per usual, has some great spell selection in addition to its own variety and fun…
  50. Kit: …earning two positives
  51. Kit: Druid which suffers a bit for being the in between, nevertheless has good spells and good options
  52. Kit: Fighter is simple but quite well designed, ol’ reliable
  53. Kit: Illithid powers by themselves are surprisingly well designed
  54. Kit: Monk continues the trend of good martial design
  55. Kit: Paladin and its lovely options, especially with the oaths and oathbreaking
  56. Kit: Ranger is actively not bad which I know doesn’t sound impressive but here we are
  57. Kit: Rogue manages some really good utility
  58. Kit: Sorcerer is a usual fun magical suite
  59. Kit: Warlock is probably the best designed class in 5th edition in general, with the short rests and patron features…
  60. Kit: …and of course the spell list
  61. Kit: Wizard leans heavily into the spell list…
  62. Kit: …earning itself two positives
  63. Map: Ability to set own markers and occasionally useful
  64. Music: There’s only a few songs I really liked, but I do dig the ones that were there
  65. Options: Lots and lots of good options…
  66. Options: …earning two positives
  67. Power Progression Curve: Class optimizations
  68. QoL: Point of no return warnings
  69. Respec: The ability to etch-a-sketch all the way down to vanilla and swap classes for both you and your party members is a great respec feature…
  70. Respec: …easily earning…
  71. Respec: …three positives
  72. Saves: Quick saves, auto saves, hard saves, saving in combat, saving in cutscene…
  73. Saves: …earning a full…
  74. Saves: …three positives
  75. Starting Options: Lots and lots of good starting options for how to setup initially…
  76. Starting Options: …earning two positives
  77. Viscerality: Abilities (mostly spells) are visually and audibly impacting…
  78. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  79. Outro: Okay yeah, the Summon Allies function and the Choices fulfilled in your allies at the end is good stuff
  80. Co-Op: Co-Op exists
  81. Co-Op: Good options and QoL features to assist in co-op
  82. Co-Op: Local, split screen, direct connection, and server co-op
  83. Replayability: Lots and lots of alternate options, paths, and choices

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Spam: Mostly in towns but it gets really egregious
  2. Bug: Gamebreaker bug with Wyll’s quest
  3. Bug: Memory leak issues requiring regular restarts
  4. Bug: Resolution reset each time the game launches
  5. Bug: So many trigger issues, especially when it comes to Act 3, where quests started to either not trigger, trigger wrong, or skip completely over triggers…
  6. Bug: …earning…
  7. Bug: …three negatives
  8. Camera: So first the camera is chained to the party members, which is heavily restrictive
  9. Camera: The camera itself just… sucks. It does not know how to handle height or angles and gets in the way of proper tactics…
  10. Camera: …earning two negatives
  11. Controls: Dice rolling issues. You can’t click anywhere to progress you must click the dice and the continue button, and you can hit enter but not space to progress
  12. Controls: Inconsistent misclicking issues, as per usual for DOS2
  13. Core Combat: The way the game does line of sight is awful
  14. Core Mechanic: Concentration and related issues
  15. Core Mechanic: Randomness in cutscenes, dialogues, and banter
  16. Difficulty Curve: Or rather difficulty spikes
  17. Encounter: Forced positioning from virtually every encounter in the game
  18. Encounter: The Isobel protection quest
  19. Graphics: Gross. Not as bad as some games but definitely gross
  20. Graphics: Performance issues everywhere
  21. Graphics: Some pretty bad performance issues come Act 3
  22. Guidance: And lack thereof. There’s a whole lot of ‘hope you’re mousing over everything’…
  23. Guidance: …earning two negatives
  24. HUD: Inconsistent wording and indicators on tooltips
  25. Info In Game: And the lack thereof. There’s a lot of good, but there’s a weirdly lot absent as well
  26. Interface: Feedback issues. The log is… not good at all, and in many cases doesn’t even properly showcase what’s happened…
  27. Interface: …earning two negatives
  28. Interface: Improper resolution scaling
  29. Interface: Inventory
  30. Interface: Inventory…
  31. Interface: Inventory!!
  32. Interface: Quest log or lack thereof
  33. Interface: …made even worse in Act 3
  34. Kit: Dead levels, not many but they’re there
  35. Launch: Unacceptably buggy launch
  36. Level: So… the Gauntlet of Shar. This honestly should be a great dungeon but the issues with the controls, side bugs, camera issues… essentially everything else wrong with the game magnifies the puzzles and turns what should be neat things into frustrations
  37. Map: In general it’s not super helpful
  38. Permanently Missable Cutscenes: There’s… honestly so many of these it beggers belief. And it’s not even hard to dodge them, and permanently lose out on them..
  39. Permanently Missable Cutscenes: …earning itself…
  40. Permanently Missable Cutscenes: …three negatives
  41. Prime Opt: The first Dark Urge unavoidable killing
  42. QoL: Lack of proper interactable highlighter (toggle or button)
  43. QoL: Lack of ‘new dialogue’ indicators
  44. Quest: Underdark slaves and the screw you
  45. Raspberry Jam: Red outline on radar
  46. Seconds in Minutes: Dice rolling and the inability to skip
  47. Seconds in Minutes: Leveling just takes too long
  48. Seconds in Minutes: Long Resting just takes too long
  49. Seconds In Minutes: No speed up or skip of enemy turns, or ally turns
  50. Seconds In Minutes: Swapping inventory amongst non party members
  51. Seconds in Minutes: Swapping party members just takes too long
  52. Seconds In Minutes: …leading to…
  53. Seconds in Minutes: …three negatives
  54. Starting Options: Forced restrictions on custom vs. origin character (same as in DOS2)
  55. Traversal: Walk walk walk walk
  56. Tutorialization: Or lack thereof
  57. Walkthroughitis: Act 3. Just… Act 3. Good lord, my enjoyment of Act 3 shot up dramatically when I just started using a walkthrough…
  58. Walkthroughitis: …earning three negatives
  59. Secondary: The artist quest is honestly just spiteful in its design. The knockback, the decurse, the frustrating mobs…
  60. Outro: Bugs and optimization issues
  61. Outro: The final endless slog (against respawning enemies no doubt)
  62. Outro: One final negative for… Choices! And the lack of follow through on the many, many choices you could make

Dragon Age Inquisition

So this is important, and I mean this without memeing or joking; Do not do the optional side content in the open world segments beyond what is mandatory. This is honestly a very good game if you cut out the insane amount of gristle and fat those zones and their non-content add to the game. As is, still a great story with a lot of hiccups and a very, very troublesome gameplay completely hampered by its engine, development cycle, and insistence on padding.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +75
Total Gameplay Score: -79
Golden Number: -7.05
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 9 days / 82.75 Hours
Time Reviewed: 9-19-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: Emprise du Lion, and the front line of the Orlesian war
  2. Atmosphere: Mage quest chain, and the dark future
  3. Background Lore: Hinterlands, and a decent amount of little tidbits of lore
  4. Banter: So the banter in this game is, as always, legit across the board…
  5. Banter: …leading to…
  6. Banter: …triple positives
  7. Brickwork/Spritework: General art design and style (especially in the tarot cards)
  8. Brickwork: Desert areas
  9. Brickwork: Forest
  10. Brickwork: Frozen mountains
  11. Brickwork: Hinterlands
  12. Brickwork: Interiors and caves
  13. Brickwork: Orlais and the Winter Palace
  14. Brickwork: Skyhold
  15. Brickwork: The Fade
  16. Character: Cassandra is fantastic. She has an arc, she’s adorable, she’s strong, she’s well presented… just great across the board…
  17. Character: …for two positives
  18. Character: Dorian. Very Han Solo; joking but with layers, and well invested in the affairs of the plot and the setting, and a great insight into the events of the north…
  19. Character: …for two positives
  20. Character: Josephine. Adorkable, intelligent, enthusiastic, layers, voice acting, just great all around…
  21. Character: …for two positives
  22. Character: Leliana continues to be an interesting character, and can progress her arc in several ways
  23. Character: Morrigan doesn’t get as much screen time, but she does some good stuff here
  24. Character: Secondary characters in general
  25. Character: Sera. While not done perfectly, she is a great insight into the concept of the Invisibles, and the view from below
  26. Character: Supporting cast (Dagna, Giselle, Cullen, etc.)
  27. Character: The Chargers (especially Krem)
  28. Character: The Iron Bull. The intelligent, down to earth, lots of layers, great spy who’s relatable while being alien
  29. Character: Varric. I mean come on, it’s Varric
  30. Character: Vivienne. I don’t like her personally, but she is a great insight into Orlesian politics, mage politics, and the opposite viewpoint to Sera
  31. Doodads: Skyhold
  32. Doodads: The Winter Palace
  33. Doodads: Towns and villages
  34. External Continuity: Like it or not, the game does a lot to acknowledge and follow through on choices (mostly from DA:O) and ‘prune the branches’ going forwards…
  35. External Continuity: …earning…
  36. External Continuity: …three positives
  37. Foreshadowing: Periodic, and inconsistent, but it’s there
  38. Hub: Haven
  39. Hub: Skyhold
  40. Humor: So he attacked our castle… with a… goat
  41. Moment: And I’ll give you this, Skyhold and becoming the Inquisitor are good scenes
  42. Moment: Cassandra receiving the book
  43. Moment: Cassandra’s romance scenes (which are just… adorable)
  44. Moment: Iron Bull romance scene
  45. Moment: Special bonus points to Corypheus actually having a good line and a good entrance
  46. Moment: The big confrontation with Flemeth can go several ways, and all of them are damned good…
  47. Moment: The card game with the crew is a nice, simple, fun moment
  48. Moment: The first confrontation with Corypheus is, for all its later issues, a good damned scene
  49. Moment: While it could have been better lead into and paid off, the song is a good moment
  50. Moment: …and double bonus points for how powerful of a moment this is for Morrigan specifically, and her character arc throughout the two games
  51. MSQ: Further, the whole banquet sequence can go a number of ways
  52. MSQ: Okay so for all the irritations surrounding it, the Fade sequence is legit. There is a lot of great tidbits fleshing out the world and its people and cultures and the nature of the Nightmare
  53. MSQ: So, the banquet. This whole sequence is awesome; intrigue, fun character moments, world building… it has problems, but it’s still awesome
  54. MSQ: The bad future Mage quest is honestly really, really well done (time travel aside). We see a lot of how things could have gone and its impact on people, most especially Leliana…
  55. MSQ: The templar betrayal mission has some good points to it, mostly insight into the templars and the infiltration of Envy
  56. MSQ: …earning two positives
  57. NPC Set Dressing: General (Haven, Skyhold, Val Royeux)
  58. Prime Opt: Cassandra’s quest and its implications for Seekers, mages, and tranquility
  59. Prime Opt: Cole’s personal quest, even though it heavily follows through from Asunder, is legit by itself
  60. Prime Opt: Dorian’s quest with his father and follow through
  61. Prime Opt: Holding court
  62. Prime Opt: Iron Bull. Despite its issues, the core meat there is legit, and they do well to follow through on it
  63. Prime Opt: Jaws of Hakkon (and implications)
  64. Prime Opt: Josephine’s quest
  65. Prime Opt: Varric’s quest is brief, but impacting; especially because of the quiet implication that Bianca directly lead to Corypheus gaining access to Red Lyrium (and the Lyrium reveal)
  66. Prime Opt: War Table politics and stories. There is a lot (and I mean a lot) of story here, it’s even branching story occasionally! And while it’s absolutely aggravating to access, the content itself is still good…
  67. Prime Opt: …earning itself…
  68. Prime Opt: …three positives
  69. Storytelling Mechanic: Codex, as per usual
  70. Visual Storytelling: Exalted Plains
  71. Visual Storytelling: Western Approach
  72. Voice Acting: Cassandra
  73. Voice Acting: Dorian
  74. Voice Acting: General
  75. Voice Acting: General
  76. Voice Acting: Josephine
  77. Voice Acting: Morrigan
  78. Voice Acting: Nightmare
  79. Voice Acting: PC Female 1
  80. Voice Acting: PC Female 1
  81. Voice Acting: PC Female 2
  82. Voice Acting: PC Female 2
  83. Voice Acting: PC Male 1
  84. Voice Acting: PC Male 1
  85. Voice Acting: PC Male 2
  86. Voice Acting: PC Male 2
  87. Voice Acting: Solas
  88. Voice Acting: The Iron Bull
  89. Voice Acting: The Iron Bull
  90. Voice Acting: Varric
  91. Voice Acting: Vivienne
  92. World Building: Avvar
  93. World Building: General
  94. World Building: Orlais
  95. World Building: Qunari
  96. World Building: Tevinter
  97. World Building: Ancient Elves and Elves in general
  98. World Building: Spirits, demons, and the Fade in general
  99. Writing: The Cassandra romance is sweet, adorable, and well presented
  100. Writing: Dorian’s, similarly, is just as soft and re-affirming as it needs to be
  101. Writing: Sera’s romance is, weirdly, quite good (and amusing)
  102. Writing: The Iron Bull’s romance is actually really appropriate, despite his predilections
  103. Writing: Josephine’s romance is another good one
  104. Writing: And then, much as I hate to admit it, Solas’ romance is actually quite well done
  105. Writing: Cullen’s romance is a bit of an Alistair-lite, but it still works
  106. Character: Dwarven Snake (Renn)
  107. Brickwork: Deep roads
  108. Brickwork: Lyrium depths
  109. Humor: Trespasser and The Iron Bull
  110. Internal Continuity: Trespasser
  111. MSQ: The opening of Trespasser
  112. Brickwork: Trespasser
  113. MSQ: The entire final sequence with Solas is, regardless of opinions on the character, very well done. Its tone can change substantially, a lot is discussed in short order by a good actor, and it’s all very skippable
  114. Outro: The ending itself is decent, but the final slides are fantastic…
  115. Outro: …definitely worth a second positive
  116. Voice Acting: Bonus voice acting positive for Trespasser specifically, some of these scenes and lines are really well done
  117. Babylon 5 Effect: Solas and everything to do with him

Story Negatives:

  1. Animations: There’s a lot of… janky, unpolished animations in the game
  2. Character: Corypheus. He’s honestly one of the worst Bioware villains I’ve ever seen (in DAI) and is only surpassed by lovely entries such as the Archon and the Monitor (which is pathetic), but let’s get to specifics; The game tries very hard to make him seem like a big doomy BBEG, but at every turn fails at this presentation (except for his intro). He has little screen presence, constantly relies on (weirdly loyal) minions to do things for him, most of his minions are actually MORE impressive than he is, and he still fails constantly and consistently until the final battle where he goes full One Winged Angel. He is, in short, a pathetic Krennic villain… who wasn’t intended to be…
  3. Character: …earning him two negatives
  4. Consequence Storytelling: So… this is kind of a general negative but the game has a really bad habit of having good scenes that aren’t properly built up or paid off. The game, in short, tends to not earn the good scenes that it has
  5. Cutscene: So the entire, contrived sequence of nonsense Hollywood garbage leading to us entering the Fade
  6. Cutscene Incompetence: General. Like, everywhere, really
  7. Dialogue: Lack of polish. A whole lot of the dialogue feels like first or second pass dialogue, and it drags the whole work down…
  8. Dialogue: …for two negatives
  9. Fake Drama: Everything to do with Hawke and the bad build up to the choice
  10. Internal Continuity: It’s not as bad as it could be, but there’s definitely issues
  11. Intro: Pacing and exposition problems
  12. Moment: Continuing the trend of ‘huh?’ cutscenes in the Warden arc, the entire confrontation with Clarel is sort of… huh?
  13. Moment: So the entire scene where Mage Idiot Boy stands and exposits is excessively badly done. The tone of the scene is wrong, the voice acting is incorrect, and worst of all…
  14. MSQ: The entire Orlesian banquet is awesome and all but the seams really do show here and there, for… let’s be honest… the usual reason; not enough time to really execute the ideas properly
  15. Cutscene Incompetence: During the MSQ, the entire party of bonafide badasses just STANDS there and has a casual chat with the big villain about his evilness, and on top of all of that he just kind of casually lurches away (into LITERAL NOTHING) while the party stands and watches
  16. Music Direction: The Hollywood trailer-music rise is over-used quite a bit
  17. Outro: So Corypheus goes One Winged Angel and goes to destroy the world and then we beat him. …okay
  18. Pacing: Similar to DA:O the main story has pacing issues
  19. Plot: So the entire Warden subplot is a double whammy of Idiot Ball and can go directly to hell
  20. Prime Opt: The entire Freeman arc is astonishingly under-developed
  21. Prime Opt: The Iron Bull’s personal quest’s dilemma is… extremely poorly constructed, to the point where it feels like the GM just said ‘pick one’
  22. Prime Opt: Vivienne’s quest is… so completely devoid of substance that it actually detracts from her and from the story as a whole. She says ‘hey go do this fetch quest’, we do, a guy dies in a terrible and short cutscene, and that’s… kinda it
  23. Secondary: Also everywhere else, with precious few exceptions
  24. Secondary: A whole lot of empty, vacuous quests in the Hinterlands
  25. Secondary: Emprise du Lion and more empty, meaningless ‘quests’
  26. Storyboarding: There’s just so many cutscenes where the storyboarding is… off
  27. Story Sequencing: Post Act 1 the game really starts to have issues with the connective tissue between events. Good events, but things just sort of start… happening
  28. Story Sequencing: Pretty much the exact same issue DA:O had with regards to being able to do the main MSQ lines in whatever order
  29. Storytelling Mechanic: Limited Party Size strikes back
  30. Storytelling Mechanic: Pacing issues with having to leave and come back and do war table missions and then hitting invisible requirements of approval
  31. Storytelling Mechanic: So, so much lore and story is locked behind the War Table
  32. Storytelling Mechanic: There’s no manual way to trigger banter, and in a game that leans so, so heavily on banter for meat content, that by itself is negative worthy
  33. Storytelling Mechanic: Hang on it’s even worse than before, because you only get banter in the overworld segments
  34. Characters: So this is essentially an aggregate negative. It’s for Blackwall (a bit inoffensive but ultimately bland), Sera (deliberately irritating) and Vivienne (also deliberately irritating)
  35. Writing: Blackwall’s romance is… just kind of… there? It’s not the worst thing ever, but it feels vacuous
  36. External Continuity: Okay so lyrium is Titan’s blood. This by itself could have been interesting but the game A: Introduces this massive, world-changing thing way way too late to do anything with it, which is made worse because…
  37. Writing: …the Titan falls victim to the problem Bioware cannot seem to get away from; BIG, HUUUUGE stuff which is as impacting and sweeping and high scale as possible, and it does so to such an extent that it actually detracts from the narrative. The titan being miles beneath the surface and the size of a continent and blah blah blah
  38. MSQ: Oh yeah, and we fight a bunch of not-dwarves on the way down and a guardian. The not-dwarves I could kind of buy but the guardian is just there to have ‘a boss fight’ regardless of reason or purpose
  39. Writing: One final negative for the Descent Outro for being a whole load of ‘just go with it’. A lot of vague vagueries vaguely vaguing it up
  40. Writing: So this is a portion of several other problems, but it all revolves around Arl Teagen. First, external continuity issues with him being weirdly out of character. Second, he’s another bog-standard obstinate bureaucrat without the layers that role really requires. Third and finally, it serves as Fake Drama for the entire sequence
  41. Outro: Same issues as in Witch Hunt (and honestly a lot of games); a whole lot of vague to be continued vagueness
  42. Writing: Meat content and scenes and the like locked behind romances

Gameplay Positives:

  1. All Roads Lead To Rome: General, especially in the MSQ
  2. Boss: Dragon fights in general (they don’t vary enough to really qualify for more, but the core fight is good)
  3. Boss: Gurd Harofsen himself is actually pretty fun, and an interesting amount of terrain control and movement
  4. Choices: Holding court // Personal quests (especially Cole’s)
  5. Choices: In one of the better bits of roleplaying in the game, your background is pseudo set in stone dependant upon your race and class, but the game offers conversations peppered here and there that allow for you to sculpt the specifics of your backstory and what you feel about it as you go
  6. Core Mechanic: Between jump and hills, movement jank
  7. Crafting: Coolness factor. Plus I love how the whole system comes together
  8. Crafting: Modularity. I love the ability to choose which items and how many slots
  9. Crafting: Options, depth
  10. Difficulty Curve: For all its issues, the difficulty curve is actually pretty smooth throughout
  11. Difficulty Mutators: The Trials options
  12. Encounters: Surprisingly decent encounter design
  13. Enemy Variety: Actually pretty legit across the board
  14. Fast Travel: It’s irritating to use and not well spread out but it is there and usable from anywhere out of combat
  15. HUD: Dialogue wheel, choices visible, QoL features, distinct icons and colors in skill trees
  16. Intro: Okay yeah, good intro with good encounters and good tutorialization
  17. Map: Overworld map, visual distinction, quests per zone and current progress
  18. MSQ: Okay, the Haven defense mission is actually decent
  19. MSQ: Okay so the Ball is probably one of the better quests in the game. Honestly, the number of choices, options, and branching paths are legit, and it’s a good blend of talky, explore, and combat all in one…
  20. MSQ: …earning the Ball two positives
  21. Music: When it’s there it’s good stuff
  22. Party AI: Periodically actually decent
  23. Penalty For Failure: In combat rez (can be interrupted, comes up at partial)
  24. Respec: It’s there! Bit irritating, but it’s there
  25. Saves: Good quick saves, good auto saves…
  26. Saves: …for two positives
  27. Starting Options: Character creation options. Actually pretty decent stuff…
  28. Starting Options: …earning two positives
  29. Viscerality: Generally good viscerality
  30. Replayability: Lots of ways to play through the game
  31. Choices: Romance gameplay options
  32. Co-Op: Multiplayer co-op mode exists
  33. Kit: General class design
  34. Outro: Okay I’ll give you this one game. The final boss fight with the berserk, lyrium-infused qunari mage was actually a good fight
  35. Music: Trespasser specific music and music usage
  36. Hyperbeam Moment: Being able to use the rift abilities pretty much on command in that final push was honestly friggin’ awesome
  37. Song: The Dawn Will Come

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Boss: Every dragon fight is functionally the same, which is already irritating, but the fights themselves are… very very janky, and have no idea how to handle the physics or other targeting issues FROST
  2. Bug: General, cuz… there’s a lot of bugs FROST
  3. Bug: The ‘party banter doesn’t trigger’ bug is absolutely awful. There is so, so much (good) banter we miss out on because of an easy to fix bug…
  4. Bug: …earning two negatives
  5. Bug: Total lack of resolution options and not saving resolution after restarting which is a nonstop and constant issue… FROST
  6. Bug: …earning the usual… FROST
  7. Bug: …three negatives FROST
  8. Camera: The camera is bad, at best, and just in the way FROST
  9. Choices: The big choice between (insert Warden here) or Hawke is… not a good choice. It’s entirely a meta choice and it isn’t properly built up or paid off
  10. Control: So, meleeing is just sort of a huge pain due to collision, getting caught on terrain, and general FROST issues
  11. Control: The game really likes to animation lock for long, looong seconds… FROST
  12. Control: …leading to… FROST
  13. Control: …three negatives for such an egregious and long-standing issue FROST
  14. Controls: Hotkey limitations. So we have 8 abilities to work with, and that’s it… but we can get far more than 8 abilities total FROST
  15. Controls: Movement is just… wonky and weird and bad FROST
  16. Core Mechanic: No method within the game to advance or bypass the timer mechanic which, in bad situations, can lead to you literally putting the game down to advance
  17. Core Mechanic: So… the war table has a real time timer to progress it. This is, by itself, absolutely awful…
  18. Core Mechanic: …and deserves…
  19. Core Mechanic: …three negatives
  20. Difficulty Options: Lazy difficulty, as usual
  21. Terrain Design: Emprise du Lion. Good lord is this zone designed to be as aggravating to navigate as possible
  22. Graphics: Smaller but continuous smaller graphical glitches FROST
  23. Graphics: Usual spider issues
  24. Grind: Grinding crafting ingredients
  25. Grind: Power gating to progress the main plot
  26. Guidance & Flow of Exploration: There’s some good and some bad, depending
  27. Overworld: So… the Hinterlands. Honestly I’ve seen worse, but the Hinterlands is still not a good zone top to bottom…
  28. Overworld: …and so deserves two negatives
  29. Secondary: Hinterlands quests… aren’t
  30. Hub: Haven is just… not well laid out gameplay wise
  31. Hub: Skyhold is worse, even with the fast travel
  32. HUD: Quest markers and the Consequence of Inconsistency
  33. Info In Game: General, but all over the place
  34. Interface: Inventory by itself
  35. Interface: Inventory limits, as usual
  36. Interface: When taking Inquisition perks there’s no refund, no respec, and no confirmation FROST
  37. Interface: Periodic interface issues thanks to FROST
  38. Interface: So the crafting interface. Bad font size, irritating controls, total lack of filters, no ability to cross reference or track materials, and overall making the entire thing far more irritating than it really should be… FROST
  39. Interface: …for a full… FROST
  40. Interface: …three negatives FROST
  41. Intro: Okay so this is a weird one but hear me out; the Hinterlands. After the initial tutorial the game forces you into the Hinterlands and you’re supposed to do like three things here before just bailing to continue the game but the game… doesn’t really convey this properly, and lets the player just get… stuck in the Hinterlands. And this is SUCH a common issue that every person I know had it happen to them (including me) and the devs had to release an announcement instructing players to leave the Hinterlands. This horribly damages the entire Intro of the game…
  42. Intro: …earning it two negatives
  43. Itemization: Crafted gear is just… better than everything else
  44. Kit: And then we have the talent system which… is not designed to support proper build gameplay with the limitation of the 8 ability slots. Rather than focus on mutators and passives, we have lots of abilities and not a lot to do with them
  45. Kit: Dual wield rogue can go straight to hell
  46. Core Combat: Lack of proper healing / improper design to replace healing
  47. Map: Unhelpful in general…
  48. Map: …earning two negatives
  49. Minimap: It’s… it’s not even a minimap. It’s actually the opposite of helpful… FROST
  50. Minimap: …earning two negatives FROST
  51. Mod Support: Or lack thereof! For once, and a truly rare exception, DAI is actively mod hostile. Further it is arguably the worst, most mod hostile game I’ve ever seen, on top of the fact that it’s a game that really (frankly) should be pro mod… FROST
  52. Mod Support: …earning it… FROST
  53. Mod Support: …three negatives FROST
  54. MSQ: So, the Ball. There’s a lot of irritating little niggles with the Ball; the confusing layout of the palace, the inconsistent feedback on quest progression, the walkthroughitis with the ways the quest can go, everything to do with the Halla statue, the timer… all little irritations that definitely add up
  55. MSQ: The Mage bad future is… entirely too tedious
  56. MSQ: The ‘escort’ quest in the ancient elven ruins has all the same issues the other escort quest had
  57. No Music: It’s… bad. It’s so bad. Huge, huge swaths of no music, both in dungeons, overworlds, and cutscenes…
  58. No Music: …earning it…
  59. No Music: …three negatives
  60. Outro: The final dungeon… if it can even be called that… barely exists, and the final boss fights are really, really boring. This is especially jarring in a game that’s had substantially better boss fights BEFORE this…
  61. Outro: …earning two negatives
  62. Overly Skippable Cutscenes: Yeah… really easy to bypass
  63. Overworld: Exalted Plains; irritation of navigation
  64. Secondary: Exalted Plains; quests
  65. Overworld: The Hissing Wastes is a nice, big empty, slow slog to get anywhere or do anything
  66. Overworld: The Mire isn’t nearly as bad as the other zones but it is irritating to traverse, with a near-useless map and a lot of corridor design
  67. Overworld: Western Approach quests aren’t good in general but get special mention…
  68. Padding: Animations. Good lord
  69. Padding: Enemy health…
  70. Padding: …good lord, enemy health
  71. Party AI: General issues periodically
  72. Power Progression Curve: It’s kind of wonky and also sort of… stops at a certain point
  73. Prime Opt: Hissing Wastes’ regional quest chain can go directly to hell. Vague indicators, requiring you to loot very small and very specific items in order to progress, and easy to screw up the quest indicator if you do things out of order
  74. Prime Opt: Substantial amounts of primary optional content locked behind the War Table (lots of follow-up lore from previous games, origin content, character and companion quests, etc.)
  75. Prime Opt: The long, long, long quest chain throughout the whole Frostback Basin arc
  76. QoL: The search / ping / sonar feature and how bad its range is and how inconsistent it works and how you have to mash it constantly
  77. QoL: The total lack of indicators for the various meat content of the party members is beyond aggravating
  78. Secondary: Tasks, tasks, tasks…
  79. Secondary: …tasks, tasks, tasks…
  80. Secondary: …tasks, tasks, tasks…
  81. Secondary: The Druffalo escort quest is, by itself, goddamned terrible
  82. Secondary: The Researcher chain which has bad drop rate, random no-direction drops, having to do a friggin’ war table, finding spots throughout the zone, and ugh
  83. Seconds In Minutes: Looting animation
  84. Seconds In Minutes: ME3 parallel. So, I reached a point where I honestly just wanted to stop reading cutscenes and talking to NPCs, and that’s awful in a game where that’s not only meat content but honestly quite good. It all boils down to the constant… CONSTANT time wasting that it involves. During several sessions we would spend literal hours just running around talking to people and even THEN I needed a guide to get it all…
  85. Seconds In Minutes: …earning it…
  86. Seconds In Minutes: …three negatives
  87. Seconds In Minutes: Rogue of requirement: Except it’s three, not one…
  88. Seconds In Minutes: …making it even worse than before
  89. Sound Design: Audio Balance is all over the place, as usual
  90. Starting Options: The default world state more or less completely sucks, and since there is no other alternative (since the Keep is entirely outside of the game), this absence of options sucks
  91. TOR Effect: It’s infrequent, but it’s there
  92. Traversal: Jumping mechanics and the terrible, terrible engine FROST
  93. Traversal: Mounts. Ignoring the fact that they don’t really go faster, they control absolutely terribly and have laughable sprint animation
  94. Traversal: Walk walk walk…
  95. Traversal: …except it’s worse in a game this vast and empty
  96. Walkthroughitis: Mostly in how to access meat content, but good luck getting certain outcomes without a walkthrough
  97. Choices: So the Divine Election is… weird. There’s ways to game it (if you have a walkthrough) but nothing really indicates who’s winning what at any point throughout. Further, the choice itself feels off and only comes up at the last minute (and in the DLC)
  98. Difficulty Curve: The Descent is a hell of a cliff
  99. MSQ: So the first hour or so of The Descent is just one nice long combat slog
  100. Encounter Rate: Good God there are just too many enemies in The Descent
  101. Boss: The Guardian is… what? It’s a static boss with tons of pieces but has lots of knockback attacks everywhere and also it has contact damage… while having an inconsistent hitbox which means the AI likes to walk right into the aforementioned contact damage
  102. Co-Op: The co-op mode is severely, severely over-tuned…
  103. Co-Op: …and leans entirely on gear rather than tactics…
  104. MTX: …because the game has microtransactions for lootboxes…
  105. MTX: …which are the usual garbage
  106. MSQ: Trespasser’s dungeon crawling is just straight up padding
  107. Outro: So the final dungeon in Trespasser is not great. The fights are the usual padding, and the game likes to give you goodies you get no real chance to enjoy, but the real problem here is that goddamn white blur which is literally headache inducing. Then you have incorrectly updating quests, irritating navigation, and then…
  108. Outro: …there’s the trash fights. Good God almighty the friggidy trash fights which would not end
  109. Backtracking: Yeeeeah. Between the War Table and the zones…
  110. Backtracking: …this game gets…
  111. Backtracking: … a full triple negative here
  112. Secondary: I’ll be nice and merely give the entire Shards side ‘quest’ two negatives…
  113. Secondary: …for being awful top to bottom
  114. Overworld: The Hissing Wastes deserves additional recognition for being honestly probably the worst zone in the game…
  115. Overworld: …earning itself the coveted triple negative
  116. Enemy AI: Buggy and inconsistent

Stray

Short but sweet cat-and-click adventure game. Fun, horrifying, and recommended.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +17
Total Gameplay Score: +4
Golden Number: 50.45
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 7.12 Hours
Time Reviewed: 9-26-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: On… the robots. Very well animated, in every scene
  2. Atmosphere: Cute factor… for the bot, not the cat bueahrehrahha
  3. Atmosphere: Horror
  4. Atmosphere: Tension
  5. Brickwork: General. While most of it is typical city ruins it’s still quite well done…
  6. Brickwork: …earning two positives
  7. Doodads: By contrast the doodad design is much better…
  8. Doodads: …easily earning…
  9. Doodads: …three positives
  10. Moment: B12’s fall and the opening of the shield
  11. Outro: The entire Doc rescue and conclusion
  12. MSQ: The horror of the Control Room
  13. Music Direction: Very well done
  14. NPC Set Dressing: Lots of random ‘npc’ bots to talk to in every area
  15. Sound Design: Really adds to the atmosphere
  16. Background Lore: Surprisingly decent stuff in the backdrop
  17. Visual Storytelling: Lots of inferences and concepts in the background selling the scene

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Core Mechanic: Chase sequences
  2. Flow/Guidance: When it’s good, it’s great
  3. Kit: The gun and its escalation usage
  4. Level: Eye sewers
  5. Level: Factory & stealth apartments
  6. Level: Jail
  7. Level: Rooftops
  8. Music: Honestly this music is astonishingly good…
  9. Music: …earning it two positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Core Mechanic: Shaking off the Zurk
  2. QoL: Point of no return lack of warning, along with no backtracking
  3. Saves: Save system
  4. Walkthroughitis: As per usual for this genre, periodic getting lost / direction issues
  5. Graphics: Blur and bloom issues