Category Archives: Cam’s Eye View

Cam’s Eye View: 426: GNOG for PS4 and PC Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

While not as big of a discussion as it was a year or so ago, replayability has become a factor into how I grade games. Is it fun? Does it make me want to replay the game again? Is there enough to warrant picking it up a second time? I bring this up because I have recently been on a streak of games that have been hit-and-miss with this element in mind. Sure, some games are meant to be played once to capture the magic and emotional power of the first time you play it. On the other hand, I don’t like spending money on anything movie or game-related where I’m only going to touch it once. So, why do I bring this up? It’s because a good puzzle game has me conflicted with this element. Today’s review is going to be of GNOG, a 3D puzzle game published by Double Fine Presents, and developed by Ko_op. So, how is this puzzling experience? Well, let’s dive in.

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GNOG is, well, like I mentioned, a puzzle game. The main goal is to tackle nine different puzzles, and beat the game. The interesting and most stand-out aspect of this game is the puzzle design. They are large heads with multiple little trinkets that you will need to rotate, slide, and push to solve each of the nine levels’ main gimmicks. You will be tackling heads that are themed around robots, frogs, sweets, theft, rockets, and so on. It feels like a virtual version of those Polly Pocket and Mighty Max toys that were big back in the 90s. Each puzzle will take you about a few minutes, if you know what you are doing. Every level actually gave me some push back, until I found out that they will give you subtle clues as to how to solve each problem. I got really addicted, since it made me feel like I was tinkering with otherworldly gadgets. The game will take about two hours or so to finish, and there isn’t much else to the game. The only other memorable element is that you can play this game in VR, and it definitely feels like that was the case. It’s perfectly playable, but you can quickly tell this was made for VR.

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Graphically, the game’s best part, besides the puzzle design, is the visuals. This is a bright, colorful, visual overload of colors and personality. Everything looks fantastic, and it reminds me of other games like Loot Rascals and the Yellow Submarine film with its colors. It’s not a forgettable game in terms of visuals. It’s probably one of the most stand-out looking games of 2017. The music has calm techno beats that make playing the game a relaxing time. It’s not meditation-style relaxing like Flower, but I can see myself playing this game just to listen to the music.

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So, what’s wrong? Well, that replayability comes to mind. I enjoyed my time playing the game, and I think it’s a fantastic game, but I can’t see myself really wanting to pick it back up. I know the puzzle solutions, so it would just take me even less time to solve everything. I think I also bring it up as an issue, because this game is $15, and I don’t know if I can recommend spending top dollar for such a short experience. That is, unless you want to play a visually pleasing puzzle game on your PlayStation VR. I would have liked more levels to play through, since the very last one was my favorite, but before I knew it, the game was over. No unlockable levels or level packs. It’s just nine levels and that’s it. There’s not even a multi-player mode with who can solve the puzzles the fastest. I get that the studio that made this is more art-focused, but sometimes, I want to buy a game or play a game that has a lot going on for it, and not just nine really nice puzzles and nothing else.

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While I do complain about the replayability and lack of content, I did love GNOG. I think it’s a splendid and charming game that anyone with a PC or PlayStation 4 should purchase. I mean, if they are into puzzle games that is. I don’t know if I would buy it at full price, but if this is your type of game, then you should have no worries in spending cash on it. I would also like to see this game pop up on other consoles like the Switch or on Ipads.  If you like puzzle games, games with personality and unique gameplay, then I definitely recommend checking out GNOG.

This game gets a 7 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 425: Skylar & Plux for PS4 and PC Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I don’t get why my slew of reviews this year have been mostly underwhelming or above-average games. Maybe I am just not reviewing or tackling the right games, when I have played some amazing games like Nier AutomataHorizon Zero Dawn, and Dragon Quest Heroes II. Maybe it’s because I was looking forward to certain games, and they ended up being disappointing. I think that is what happened with Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island. This 3D platformer was developed by Right Nice Games and Grip Digital (for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), and was a recent release. I saw a lot of positive press about this game, and saw that it had some reviews speaking kindly about it. Unfortunately, this is one of those games that I really don’t get the positive reception for. Let’s dive in.

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The story revolves around a humanoid cat named Skylar. She was captured by the game’s main villain, and was given a heavy robotic arm. She, of course, escapes to a planet below, which the big bad antagonist has taken over. Skylar meets up with a small bird named Plux, and the two decide to help the planet and stop the evil force from taking it over. I have way too many comments to talk about the story at this point, so please make sure to read the criticisms side of my review.

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Skylar & Plux is a 3D platformer, where you traverse around a small hub world and three large levels. Your main goal is to find three special orbs in a snow/forest, desert/fire, and machine world. In each of the worlds, you will find special items to help you along your way, like a jet pack to reach further off platforms, a magnet to pick up metal balls and enemies, and a time orb that lets you slow down time to get across certain gaps. Each world that you find these special items in will have their own special puzzles and platforming challenges. The only real side goal to the game is to use your special items to help find captured/caged villagers. Outside of that, the game will only take you about two hours to beat. There is unfortunately no real replay value.

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Graphically, the game looks nice. It has vibrant colors, it ran smoothly for the most part, and the designs are not terrible. Everything looks like it was made for that world, and nothing looks out of place. The music was probably the best element to the presentation. I loved a lot of the more grand songs used while platforming, and it helped bring me into that game’s world. It felt like I was on a heroic adventure, and I needed to step forth and take down the evil force.

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Well, let’s take apart this game, and I’ll explain why I really didn’t like it that much. First off, the biggest issue, and where all other issues stem from, is the fact this game feels incomplete. I don’t mean in a glitch or buggy way, but it feels like they had a base idea, but never expanded on it. It’s way too easy to just breeze through this game, and the only time you get hurt was because the combat in this game is terrible. It feels floaty and unsatisfying. Pretty much, they took the combat engine from the first Jak & Daxter game, and put it into this game, but without sprucing it up. The only time the combat got fun was when I was able to use my magnet ability to use one of the three enemies to hurt the others. The controls are also a bit stiff, which makes some platforming parts feel unsatisfying to traverse, and there are some obvious choices left out, like no ledge grab. There is just not enough here to make for an overall satisfying experience. You basically have three large levels, platforming, only three enemy types, and only one boss. It feels hollow and soulless, as while it might want to be like a PlayStation 2-era platformer, it doesn’t feel like one. Oh, and Plux is the most useless character I have ever seen. He does nothing, and I really do mean nothing. He only spouts obnoxious catch phrases that are trying to make him sound appealing, but it once again feels like they had an idea, but didn’t know how to execute it.

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The plot really isn’t there. I couldn’t give a hoot about what was going on, because it was so barebones, like the rest of the game. Twists happen with no reason to be surprised or to spout “what a twist!” It’s so basic with characters that have no real personality to them. Skylar is a silent protagonist, but there is no reason for her to be one. She doesn’t have any chemistry with anyone, and Plux has such a rushed story arc, that it’s unintentionally funny. I honestly 100% did not care about anyone in this game. I didn’t care for the overall story, the characters, the creatures I was saving, and the ending. I felt like I went through a whole lot of nothing.

I feel badly that I didn’t like this game that much. It’s honestly not horrible. It’s not buggy, broken, filled with microtransactions, or feels cynically motivated. It just feels under-developed, with a layout that never truly feels fleshed out or interesting. I honestly can’t recommend picking this game up at the $15 asking price, and would recommend getting it in a sale. Hopefully, my next review will be of something more stellar than the last couple of reviews. Sorry Right Nice Games, maybe Skylar & Plux can be a better experience with a sequel.

This game gets a 5 out of 10

Cam’s Eye View 424: Prey for PC, PS4, and Xbox One Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

There is sadly nothing quite like checking out a game that is just in the middle. It’s not good, it’s not terrible, but it’s just so meh. Usually, I will at the very least remember when I have played a super awesome game like Dragon Quest Heroes II or an incredibly terrible game like Yasai Ninja. Playing a game that’s in the middle just leaves me with nothing to remember. That’s how I felt when I played the new Bethesda-published game, Prey. Developed by Arkane Studios, the team behind Dishonored, Prey is an odd reboot that took the place of the canceled sequel to the first Prey. While it has nothing to do with the cancelled sequel, I can’t help but wonder why we couldn’t have gotten the sequel instead of a reimagining that has barely anything to do with the original. Well, let’s dive in and see what the damage is.

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You play as a male or female Morgan Yu, a scientist who is set to go into space to a station called Talos I. After taking some tests to be qualified for such a task, the scientists testing Morgan get attacked by oily black blob monsters known as mimics. You then wake back up in your sky-high apartment, and get a call from some unknown individual telling you to get out of your apartment. You grab a wrench and break open the window to find that you are actually in space in the Talos 1. Unfortunately, the station is now mostly deserted, with the monsters running around and maybe a few survivors. It is up to you to find out what exactly is going on and to find out what is going on with you. The story is set up with the philosophy that the overall plot is barely the focus, with a lot of what happens hidden behind backstories found in recordings and emails. Actually, that’s how you find some of your side quests. It can be interesting at times, and when you first break out of your apartment, it can be quite shocking and trippy, but I have more problems with the story that I want to share later.

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Prey is a first-person sci-fi horror game, with a lot going on that’s like a bucket list of what were in other games. You have crafting/blueprints for items, inventory management, survival elements, horror elements of facing the monsters and corrupted machines, exploring the massive station of Talos I, first-person shooter/combat elements, customizable abilities, and suits that will help you traverse the rather large station. There are definitely a couple of elements to watch out for. You have a stamina bar, armor degradation, and a meter below your health that will lower if you run the stamina meter low. The game is basically very open-ended, but it’s not an open-world game. I wouldn’t call it Metroidvania either. You will be able to find keys, hack systems, and repair machines to help you get through the massive station. Along the way, you might be wondering why you are scrounging around for garbage that is filling up that precious inventory slot. Well, you will come across blueprints and machines that will craft special items with said junk, which can help you, including weapons, ammo, and whatever else you can find blueprints for. If you wanted to, you can get special alien powers, like being able to transform into any items in your area or an energy blast. However, if you decided to invest into those powers, better beware that turrets will shoot at you. The one thing this game can’t lie about is its length. You get about 20 or so hours. The replay value comes in the form of different builds and playing the game from a different point of view. Though, in some regards, you might not want to do that. But I will get to that issue later.

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Graphically, the game does look great. While Talos I might be a bit sterile and fancy looking for a station that just got ransacked by a slew of shapeshifting blobs, the game is consistently good looking. Slick graphics, very little performance issues on the PlayStation 4, and the animation on the characters and aliens were pretty smooth. The voice acting is well done. I found everyone included in the cast to do a good job. It’s not super corny or trying too hard. It a good balance of characters you would probably find in a lot of sci-fi films. The music is probably my favorite aspect of the game. When the music by composer Mick Gordon is playing, it really sets the mood. Then again, this is the same guy behind Season 1 & 2 of the new Killer Instinct, 2016’s Doom, and 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. Granted, some of the sound mixing was rather terrible, and the horror elements were undone by the music blaring up when you were by the monsters, but luckily, some of it was patched over to make it a more atmospheric and dreadful (in a good way) experience.

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To me, the biggest problem with Prey is that it has an identity crisis. It doesn’t really know what it wants to be, because besides the hacking and non-melee stuff, everything else is pretty subpar. It has stealth mechanics, but they are not fleshed out. They have gunplay, but it’s not tight, or satisfying to use a gun. The game wants you to play as you want, but it really does want you to play it in a specific way. It has elements of System Shock, Deus Ex, Bioshock, but with the exceptions I listed above, it doesn’t do them all that well. It wants to also be a bit more like a horror survival game, but the music, while pretty good, makes it way too obvious when you are in a room full of the boring forgettable monsters. I wouldn’t mind fighting these repetitive and generic blobs if the combat was any fun, but until you upgrade to a certain point, combat is a horrible way to start a build in the beginning hours.

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Yeah, that’s another problem; you can start off the game woefully in the red if you choose to customize your character down a certain path. They say you can literally play this game however you want, but there are definitely routes that you can take that will be easier for you as a player. Now, some could argue that’s part of the charm and consequence, but at the same time, other games have had this same problem, like Elder Scrolls: Battlespire, and yet no one gave that game’s problems a free pass. If you really want to be able to play however you want, then you need to make that 100% possible. This is why it’s problematic when games offer you the idea that you can play however you want, but then punish you for not playing it one specific way. You can get cool abilities, like being able to shapeshift and mimic other items like the monsters do, but if the melee combat and the gameplay is not doing it for me, then why should I care that I can do cool stuff like that?

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I could honestly get over these problems if the story was any good, but I just couldn’t find myself getting fully invested the entire time I was playing. I was more worried about scavenging for items to make stuff, ammo for guns, and stuff to repair my suit than the actual story. I honestly forced myself through the game. Now, some side-stories can be interesting, and to be fair, the overall idea of Prey’s world and story are not terrible. I even liked some of the trippy beginning hours, when you realize your character was possibly living a lie, and how you become more paranoid in terms of who you trust throughout the game. Who’s being honest, and who’s lying? But these types of games usually forget that while you can have backstory and lore behind the scenes, the main story still needs to grab you. What hurts the story experience more is the fact that this game’s side-quests are pretty much you walking from one place to another to find something or turn something back on and then going all the way back. Not the most riveting side-quests and especially not great ones compared to the quests you go through in Horizon Zero Dawn, Dragon Quest Heroes II, and Nier Automata.

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Am I saying that Prey is not that great of a game? Personally, I think it’s just okay. It’s not the worst, since a few games have already popped up that can be considered the worst of 2017, but I personally didn’t care for it. Of course, if you like everything about this game, then that’s perfectly okay as well. This review is just my opinion, and in my opinion, I would have rather them just reboot the cancelled sequel from the ground up, instead of reimagining the entire game from the ground up with no connections or reason to call it Prey, besides cynical copyright holding. If you like this game or think anything in this review sounds appealing, then you can buy the game or rent it. I would probably wait for a sale, but that’s just me. I feel like Prey could have been more interesting if it simply focused on certain elements instead of trying to do everything within the kitchen sink. I would probably consider it one of the few blunders so far of 2017. Maybe it should have mimicked a more interesting game.

This game gets a 5 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 423: Old Time Hockey for PC & PS4 Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I bet it’s kind of weird to see a sports game review pop up from me. I have mentioned in the past, and as you can see from my list of over 400 reviews, barely 1% of them are about sports games. I don’t find a lot of fun in them, since they try to be more realistic and try to make accurate simulations of the actual sport. I like good simple fun sports games, where the controls are simple, and not a whole lot gets in the way. It makes for an easier experience to get into, and one where I could definitely get my friends into playing. From time to time, we have seen developers try to bring back the days of NFL Blitz, where it was an over-the-top version of said sport, but they either come off too simple, or don’t go crazy enough in how wacky the games can get. It’s underwhelming, since it seems like no one can think beyond “simple controls and being slightly goofy”. So, that is why Old Time Hockey caught my interest. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I played a hockey game. This indie game is developed by V7 Entertainment, and it boasts that it brings back that arcade-style gameplay people loved back in the day. So, does it pull it off? Or are you better off ignoring yet another failed attempt at an arcade-style sports game?

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If you have played any kind of hockey game, then you should probably be familiar with Old Time Hockey. It’s a five-on-five match, where you use simple controls, and try to get the puck in the other team’s goal. You can whack players, and even get into fights using two-button combat, as well, with other players. I mean, it’s hockey, you know someone has to get upset and want to turn another player into paste. The controls are very easy to get into, with a couple of different options in terms of button placement. They even throw in a mode where you can play with one hand. The modes you play through are a story mode and an offline couch multi-player mode. Once you beat the story mode, you can unlock story mode+ where you can play as one of the ten teams you face off during the overall game.

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Graphically, and in the presentation side of the game, this is where Old Time Hockey shines. The graphics look like a PlayStation One/Nintendo 64 game with chunky-looking character models with simple animations. The colors and personality remind me of something that would have been right at home with the early Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It’s a punkish/rebellious vibe that had a cheesy charm to it that is welcoming and doesn’t feel like a game trying to be too meta with its arcade-style origins.

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Unfortunately, the problem this homage to arcade-style sports games has drags it down a lot. The controls are stiff. Yes, there was a patch released to the game pre-release to fix some of the issues with the controls, but it still didn’t feel satisfying to control. It feels sluggish, and when I think of arcade-style sports games, I think of fast-paced action and tight controls. It makes the experience worse when the AI is fairly stupid on your team, and will not do a single thing unless you take control of your other teammates. It has the skin of an arcade sports game, but not the heart or soul behind it. It’s a shame, since it’s not a bad game to play. Getting the puck to your opponent’s goal can be satisfying, and the game can be fun when the pieces fall in place and the AI on both sides are going at it, but unfortunately, that’s not all the time. The story mode is also hampered by this weird set of move-based goals, where you need to unlock moves, and perform them to progress through the story. I mean, winning isn’t enough, and these can’t be side goals? The tutorial is also no help. I don’t get why people treat tutorials as these horrible things. I get the anger when they hold your hand too much, but I rather a game hold my hand and help me understand how it all works, than be left in the dark with the game not even telling me how to switch players. Also, why do I need to lose my first match in the story mode? I know the intention is to make sure to show the player that my team is the terrible team that will be the underdog focus of the story mode, but I already knew I was the underdog team by the loading screen wipes and bits of backstory that would pop up before each game. Don’t force me to lose my first match!

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I was hoping Old Time Hockey would give me that fun sports game fix, but it was bogged down by bad design choices that really brought me out of the game. It has all the elements there for a great hockey game, but it ruins all those elements. I was worried that I would be the odd man out in saying how I am disappointed by this game, but by looking at other reviews, I can tell that I wasn’t the only one not having a fun time. Maybe a few patches could fix this, but first impressions are everything, and this game didn’t do a good job. It’s going to take a few more patches and redesigns to make it great. It’s only $11.99, but I would wait after some patches roll through, and maybe a sale to pick it up. Who knows, maybe you will enjoy it more than me, and if you do, that’s perfectly fine. I just had much higher hopes for more arcade-style sports games, since it seems like simulation-style sports games are what’s popular, and I really don’t like playing them. Maybe Mutant Football League will lift my spirits in the future.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 422: Loot Rascals for PS4 and PC Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

 

Have you ever found that game genre that you have played multiple times, but don’t really know why you play it as much as you do? You know which ones are good, and which ones are lackluster. You start to see why these games in that genre work and not work. For me, that is the roguelike genre. I don’t know why I keep wanting to play these games, when I know they will do certain aspects wrong and make it a chore to play. However, I usually find a lot of games in this genre that have fun gameplay, and find ways to counter-balance the brutal difficulty. So, where does Loot Rascals fall into this sea of roguelikes? It’s developed by the team at Shallow Ponds, which was founded by one of the creators that made Hohokum. It got a lot of attention for its take on the genre and its quirky art style. So, how does it hold up? Let’s find out.

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In Loot Rascals’ very basic plot, you are this space guy (or girl if you choose to be a female space person) who is on their way to a vacation spot when they suddenly crash land on a planet. You then find out from your quirky robotic AI that a special contraption has been stolen from a super creepy individual that lives under the planet. You must go through five large levels to obtain it back, and beat the game. There is honestly not a whole lot of lore or story to really be worth mentioning or criticizing. I mean, you get a basic set-up and that’s it.

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The gameplay is an isometric-tile-based-roguelike-action-focused RPG. You will traverse around levels, finding cards to equip to yourself and baddies to fight. The cards are your armor and weapons. You have a set number of cards that you can equip to yourself to raise your attack and defense. You also have a set amount of inventory space that can either be upgraded, or if you find useless cards from slain enemies, you can turn them into coins that can be used to heal yourself. You can find special upgrades to give yourself special abilities, like self-healing, fire attacks, and ice attacks, to name a few. Each time you take a step, part of a day or night sequence goes by,  and depending on what time of day, the enemies will either attack you first, or you will attack first. Another element to be on the lookout for are special cards that are dropped from other players. If you choose to return them to the player, an AI-controlled version of the player, whose card you returned, will help fight with you for a period of time. If you keep the card, the AI-controlled version of the other player will hunt you down. If you die, you start all the way back at the beginning of the first level. There might be five levels, but they are big, and the game will be super-punishing. Outside of the cards, you can complete side-quests to gain upgrades, like more card slots or an entire map of the level you are on. The game might not be long, but due to the roguelike elements, you might have a good run or a bad run.

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The game’s art style is fantastic. It has a very retro sci-fi cartoon vibes, and it fits the quirky weird 50/70s sci-fi world of the game. The soundtrack isn’t really much, but it’s also silly sci-fi, with a small creepy melody for the lead villain. The humor and writing is very British, but it’s not like it’s too dry, as it can be in a lot of British comedies I see. It’s very much as if Aardman wrote the script. The game also ran smoothly, and the character designs are weird and very memorable. I mean, how more memorable can you be, when you have a two-headed horse where one head is an actual horse and the other is a seahorse? You can tell a lot of effort was put into making this game’s visual presentation perfect.

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Sadly, graphics will only get you so far. The biggest issue this game has, and I do hope they are working on it, is the fact that the difficulty is way too punishing. Yeah, it’s a roguelike, and I should expect it to be a challenge, but I’m getting sick and tired of starting back at square one, and having to use a stupid seed-like thing to go through my next route with the same levels. Why can’t I get an upgrade system, or something to make it feel like I can make progress in the game? The constant difficult runs that I went through while playing this game really made me not want to play it again. I’m not against challenge, but I am an individual that wants to have a fair challenge, and I couldn’t get that while playing this game. If the story was more interesting, I would push through it, but it isn’t. It’s very basic, and there isn’t a whole lot of meat to it. I want to feel like I can get something back for dying every single time. Why not make each of the five levels have two parts to them? Each time I beat the part, I get to keep some cards permanently, or maybe when I die, I don’t have to start back at the very beginning again? I also don’t like feeling rushed, when the timer keeps going down each time I move. If you take too long to beat a level, you will get visited by super-strong enemies. In many of my runs, I couldn’t find health upgrades, and I encountered a couple of enemies that could one-shot me, and I had no way of preventing that. I get why they made healing yourself fully with the coins expensive as time goes by, but it just adds to the game’s incredibly crushing difficulty. The game is fast, and I respect that they drop you right back into the action after you die, but still.

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I did enjoy my time with Loot Rascals. However, its high level of difficulty is really off-putting to this rather charming game. It’s definitely one of the better roguelikes, but it falls into the same traps as most of them do, with not giving players enough back to deal with the harsh difficulty. It’s $15 on PlayStation 4 and PC, but I would wait for a sale. It’s a good game, and a very polished one at that, but if you are put off by constant difficulty spikes that will make your runs through the levels different each time, and feel not rewarding enough, you will hate this game. Still, I had a fun, quirky time and if you do like roguelikes, then Loot Rascals is the charming little rascal to check out.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 421: Everything for the PC & PS4

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

As much as I love to support new original game ideas, sometimes, being original can be the problem. Listen, I’m tired of the same games being published and shoved out from the triple A industry as much as the next guy, but at the same time, if you are trying to be unique and nothing else, then how appealing are you going to be in terms of playing? I have played many games that tried to be unique or stand out, that only turned into hollow experiences or flawed ones. So, what does this have to do with the first game of the PlayStation Play Collective for 2017? It’s because the first game is David O’Reilly’s Everything. It was developed by, well, David O’Reilly, and was published by Double Fine Production’s publishing scene, Double Fine Presents. If David O’Reilly sounds familiar in the indie scene, it’s because he was the guy that made the “controversial” game, Mountain, the game that people argued was not really a “game” and more of an impressive screensaver. So, how is Everything? Is it everything I could ever look for in a game? Well, let’s take a look.

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Everything is a, well, um, it’s hard to pin down what kind of game it is. It’s very explorative, it has philosophical speeches from famed British philosopher Alan Watts, it’s a nature simulator, it’s open world, and you get the idea. You play as literally everything from the tiniest cells to literal planets and universes. You pretty much explore as everything, and unlock Alan Watts’s recordings, and learn how to cooperate with other individuals, change into other things, and you are able to even make your own universe. It’s obvious this game is aiming to be more thought-provoking and an experience on life itself. It feels like it’s trying to be an ABZU, Flower, or Journey.

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Graphically, it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes the 3D polygonal models look great, like when you are tiny cell organisms, but then you get minimalistic animals and planes that don’t look the best, and don’t really have any animation to them. When I realized how the animals moved in this game, it reminded me of a film titled A Town Called Panic, since no one actually “walks” on their legs, and they move around like a toddler playing with a horse doll or action figure. I found Everything’s presentation quite amusing. The music by composer Ben Lukas Boysen was atmospheric and calming.

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So, where do the bad things pop up? Sadly, it’s a game that I feel like doesn’t really have any lasting appeal factor. Like, I don’t have any urge to play this game again. If that’s the point, then more power to you, but to me, that doesn’t really make me want to spend $15 to buy this game. I want to play and buy games that I would want to replay multiple times. Maybe not replay it the next day, but still, I want to pick it back up and play again. The game can also get repetitive, since all you do is ascend from something small to something bigger, over and over and over again. I mean, it’s tranquil and different than what we have gotten in March, but at the same time, I can see this game being really boring to players, since to me, I never felt like I was making satisfyingly enough progression to get somewhere.

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I honestly don’t know where to go with this game. On one hand, Everything is intriguing, and does have some interesting thoughts/ideas. It’s definitely an experience I won’t get twice out of 2017, and it can be engaging with the recordings from Alan Watts. However, I can only see a very small number of people actually enjoying the game and finding a reason to want to replay it. It’s a mixed bag for me, and while I’m definitely not a super fan of it, I don’t think it’s a bad game. I don’t see myself purchasing it for $15, but hey, if you like games like this and want to support the developer, by all means do so. These are just my opinions, and I know they won’t represent everyone in the world. If you like philosophical experiences, then definitely pick it up. It’s a “not my cup of tea” situation for me.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View: 420: Riptide GP: Renegade For the PS4, PC, and Xbox One Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I have talked about difficulty before and how it can be such a dangerous tightrope of being hard, but fun to play, and hard and not fun to play. I have yet again been challenged to see if this is one of those two situations of difficult gaming with Riptide GP: Renegade. This is a futuristic water-based racing game developed by Vector Unit. So, is this a properly balanced experience that leads to gun gameplay experiences? Well, let’s find out.

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Riptide GP: Renegade is a 3D Wave Race/Hydro Thunder-style racing game where you race through different futuristic courses going through your typical racing-style challenges, like racing laps, making sure not to be in last place, and so on. Your main reward for coming in the top three spots is money that can be aimed at upgrades to make your vehicle better. You can also gain levels to make yourself better and learn new moves. Riptide has no weapon system, but instead a boost system. You gain boost power by performing stunts. Unfortunately, if you choose to use the boost, it better be at the right place and at the right time, because it’s a one-time kind of thing, and you won’t be able to use it at another time. I will get to that later. You can also unlock other vehicles by obtaining them through special races. The game also has multi-player and if you want to complete everything, you will definitely have to take some time, in terms of doing every little thing.

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Graphically, it’s fine. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s not terrible looking either. I like that it’s a smooth framerate, and I never saw any dips or hiccups while racing. I mean, that should be obvious, since racing games rely on control and reactionary time to get good at the game. The music is solid techno with some upbeat tunes that get you into that racing mood.

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So, this game has all the proper elements for a good Hydro Thunder/Wave Race-style game, so what went wrong? Well, it’s a couple of things. First off, the game is unbalanced in single-player. AI players can easily beat you in a race if you mess up once. Yeah, you mess up once, and you will never see second or first place. I was thinking it was the level design at first, but no. While the levels themselves are nothing special, they aren’t badly designed. Anytime I messed up, it was because I failed a stunt landing, or an obstacle got in my way. It then leads me to think it was an AI issue, because this happened multiple times through different challenges and races. I would mess up, and the AI would then hightail it past me, and I wouldn’t be able to reach them ever again. Sure, you could argue that it was a skill thing, but I would disagree. To me, when I play something like F-ZERO or Mario Kart 8, I feel like any time I messed up, it was because of me and not the AI being too smart. There is also a problem with the boost mechanic that’s set up in a really bad way. Once you gain enough fuel to boost, it’s an all-or-nothing style of boost, which seems like a terrible idea. Why not let me keep the boost and use it to my advantage when I need to, and not just blow it all at one time? It’s a bad design choice since you also have to deal with floaty water physics that can affect your turning and speed. It’s a game more reliant on trial-and-error gameplay than actual skill and fun. I hate that about certain games because it doesn’t let me do what I want, and instead goes by unspoken/unwritten rules that hold the game back for just being fun. Sure, playing the game with other friends could get rid of these issues, but by that point, why wouldn’t I just pop in a copy of Mario Kart and have fun there? Oh, and you can’t unlock new vehicles unless you beat certain “characters” in a race. Yeah, I wish I could just buy the new vehicles.

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In the end, I didn’t really have fun with Riptide GP: Renegade. It’s an average racing game bogged down by bad design and AI. I really wanted this to be great, and hey, if you love this game, more power to you, but to me, it’s not worth it. If you haven’t already picked it up, I would recommend waiting for a sale and not buy it at full price. It’s always a shame when a game’s unbalanced difficulty is the reason why I didn’t find the game fun. Well, hopefully next time, it can be all that I want.

This game gets a 5 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 419: Small Radios Big Televisions for the PC and PS4 Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Just like how big developers are going into a rut concerning what they think will sell, depending on how popular certain genres are, indie developers are starting to get into that same rut. There are big pushes for first-person narratives, 16-bit-style games, first-person horror games, games that obviously try to be like some of the bigger titles in terms of difficulty, and so on. I’m sure I have talked about this before, but it’s becoming more apparent and draining with how many developers are not trying to make a name for themselves by being unique. This is why I was very intrigued by the adventure puzzle game from the one-man team at FIRE FACE with their game, Small Radios Big Televisions. This quirky little game was published by Adult Swim Games, and I honestly haven’t seen a lot of people talk about it. It’s a good example of being “out of the box”, even among the indie developers. Let’s dive in.

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The game does have a plot, but the storytelling is very minimal, with a world where people obtain special cassette tapes that they can put into their tape player and be transported to these visually pleasing worlds. You, as the player, travel among these big oil platform-like buildings, and must find these tapes to figure out what exactly happened. You travel around by going into these rooms within the oil platform buildings, solving simple puzzles that open up more doors within those buildings. Your main goal is to find those special cassette tapes, enter the weird and colorful worlds they throw you into, and find a special green gem that will open up special doors. Once you do these tasks by either going to certain rooms to use the tapes or magnetizing them, you will move onto the next building and then watch the next story narrative. You do this, and you will complete the game. There really isn’t much to do, and it won’t take you long in beating the game, since if you know what you are doing, you can beat it in two hours.

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Graphically speaking, I love the colorful minimalistic graphics. Everything pops, and while it is brightly colorful, there is this mysterious atmosphere that envelopes the factory/rigs that you explore. You also get these weird unnerving vibes when you go through a trippy sequence of the tapes. In terms of visual presentation, it’s definitely a game that you won’t forget about after beating it.

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So, what is wrong? Well, at its price point, I feel like the game is overpriced. It’s good, and it stands out, but it’s definitely a game I can’t recommend, unless you are into puzzle games with minimal stories, and don’t mind the $12 price tag. I think $5 would be more suitable, but that’s just me. I also don’t find myself wanting to play this game again after beating it. Since you know how the puzzles work, and you know what’s going to happen in the story, there is no fun in replaying the game.

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I’m conflicted with Small Radios Big Televisions. I don’t say that a lot, since I tend to be very cut-and-dried with my opinions on games. For the most part, I enjoyed my time with this game, and how I got to play something more unique and different than what we normally get with gaming these days. On the other hand, I don’t see myself replaying it anytime soon. I guess to me, while I do recommend it at a lower price, if any of this sounds interesting and you don’t mind spending $12 on PC or PlayStation 4, then by all means go ahead, it’s your cash and time. Still, I’m glad I got to play it, and I’m happy that these types of games are around. Put in a tape and get lost within its world

This game gets a 7 out of 10

Cam’s Eye View 418: Rive for the PC and PS4 Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I like to have a good memorable experience with a game. I mean, who doesn’t? If a game is too difficult or poorly designed, then it leads to a miserable experience. You end up wanting to push through to see the entire game, but not because it’s fun or entertaining all the way through. Then you get those games that are a chore or a pain to get through, but do have a lot of fun moments. This was the case with me and Two-Tribes’ last game, Rive. This was a recently released game from the long-time studio that unfortunately closed down due to poor sales of a previous game. In a way, it feels kind of awkward to be like, “yeah, your last game wasn’t consistently fun”, since the studio is now gone, but if I’m going to be honest, that’s how I felt. Why? Well, let’s get into our awesome spider tanks and find out.

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The game doesn’t have too much of a story, or at the very least one that is too in-depth. You play a guy who is stuck inside a spider-style mech inside a destroyed space station. It is your job to find out what is going on, and escape a snarky little AI program. The gameplay is essentially a 2D side-scrolling platformer, where you jump, float, and shoot your way through a massive horde of enemies. You will gain new upgrades, ranging from more health, hack enemies to help you, to new weapons. You can shoot in all directions, and you will need to learn how to use all of your skills at your disposal. This game is hard, and I mean hard. It’s easily one of the toughest of 2016, including Darkest Dungeons and Dark Souls III. You will be constantly moving, jumping, and shooting. There is rarely any downtime, and you will even need to fight giant bosses with their own frustrating patterns. The game is luckily not that long, and can be beaten in about five hours.

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Graphically, Rive is beautiful, with lovely 2D art that sets the mood of you being stuck inside a giant metal station with unknown mechanical horrors stuck inside the same area. The game also has a lot of personality with the different levels, a smack-talking pilot, and a very sinister non-dying robotic antagonist. It definitely helps the game stand out.

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Now then, what’s wrong with this final game? Well, as much as I hate to say it, I feel like Rive leans too heavily on its difficulty. It can be incredibly taxing and tedious to get by certain boss fights, since most of the time, the difficulty comes from them throwing a huge number of enemies at you. It can reach Battletoads levels of cheap, but without the glitches. Granted, I had fun at first with how fast enemies came at me, while I moved to try and escape them, but after a while when you just want to move along, it becomes tricky to want to keep playing. I don’t mind hard games, but if the difficulty due to any number of reasons with the game design becomes too much, then I don’t want to waste my time with them. I don’t have all the time in the world to sit down and invest time into super tough games, or games that need hours to get into them. I also find the humor, while giving the game an identity, to be very generic “meta” game humor. The lead character is essentially a truck driver version of Duke Nukem where he makes all these references. I wish the bosses were more interesting as well. Now, the boss fights can be fun, but most of the time, they are just giant ships. I’d rather them go all out with different bosses instead of having me fight two large ships that count as a boss fight.

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I don’t want to sound harsh, but I have to be honest. I was disappointed with this game. It can be fun and enjoyable, and I might personally not be the audience this game was aimed at, but for a final game from the studio, it should have been better. It should have been better balanced and less frustrating, and not be just about the difficulty. I really can’t see myself playing this game again, but if you are into challenging games with fast-paced combat, then you will probably want to check Rive out. Definitely wait for a sale though. It’s a decent experience, but I can tell I’m going to forget this game as time moves forward.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.

Cam’s Eye View 417: Darkest Dungeon for the PS4, Vita, and PC Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

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Difficulty is a hot button topic for many, since what may be considered difficult for one person could be easy for someone else. Or, in some occurrences, you get those snobbish jerks that boast about how it wasn’t hard for them, and say you aren’t good enough to beat the game. First off, those people can go bugger off somewhere else, because they are some of the worst types of people. At least, if they are malicious about it they are. It’s gotten to a point where a lot of indie games love advertising that they are hard. Listen, it might have been a selling point back in the day, when game developers had the idea how to make a game worth its price tag by making it difficult, but you can’t just make it the only thing worthwhile about it. If the game isn’t fun, because the developer focused too much on the difficulty, then that’s a huge problem. So, why am I talking about difficulty at length? Because that is the focus for this review, Darkest Dungeon. Out of the cesspool of Early Access and Kickstarter, Darkest Dungeon was one of the most well-known success stories, because it was one of the best examples of doing a good job on both sides. It was a game that highly advertised that it was hard, and it was going to mentally break you. Still, is this RPG by Redhook Studio a really good game? Or is the difficulty too overpowering for my mortal mind? Let’s find out!

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Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based RPG that sets you into a nightmarish world where you go into this rotting and miserable town to take care of the troubling Lovecraftian horrors that consume the area. All due to an idiot who, while on an expedition to gain riches, unlocked a hellish portal that unleashed unspeakable horrors upon the land. The main goal is to take a group of adventurers of different classes that include, but are not limited to, crusaders, highway men, lepers, bounty hunters, vestals, plague doctors, and abominations. The combat takes place on a 2D plane, and you must make sure you place your crew in the right spots to take full advantage of their abilities, like keeping long-range fighters and healers in the back, and your heavy hitters upfront. You will need to go into different parts of the tainted world and do a slew of objectives, from exploring a certain number of areas, to clearing out all combat rooms, or taking down giant bosses. As you go into these dark dungeons, you will be able to take supplies with you, ranging from torches for light, to food to feed you all when you are hungry. On top of the monsters, you will need to watch out for possible looting and traps that could hurt you or put more stress on your characters. We will get to that part in a second. The combat is turn-based as you choose the different attacks and abilities to take down the creatures in front of you. It can be pretty tactical and stress-inducing once the game introduces the elements of stress, corpses, and heart attacks. Yeah, your characters you fight with don’t have flawless personalities. On top of some of them being greedy or arrogant that could ruin your formation of said heroes or stress the others out, you have a bar that’s above your health meter that you must keep track of. If it reaches a certain capacity, your characters will unlock a trait that could either help you or ruin your time in the dungeon. If the bar fills up more, the heroes could have a heart attack and die without even being attacked by a monster. It can be a bit much, but you can turn off stuff like corpses that get in your way in battle, and make the experience less stressful. Over time, you will need to make sure your favorites are in tip-top shape for the end goal, and that means you have to make sure they aren’t stressed out. You can recruit new “heroes”, upgrade your weapons and attacks, and take on whichever challenge you want. The game is lengthy at a recorded total of 50+ hours to get everything done. It can be taxing, since managing your party is tough, and characters stay dead if they are killed.

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The graphical presentation was great. The Hellboy comic-style art really fit the vibe of this utterly depressing world. It gives off the vibe that you see in the Dark Souls or Salt & Sanctuary. You are in this non-stop world full of unmeasurably horrible things, and there is no hope. Not even a tiny sliver of it to give you the push to keep going. The music also compliments the world by being moody and atmospheric. It makes you feel like you are in some of the grungier locations from Game of Thrones, where you feel the grime and the blood that’s mixed in the mud as you walk. It’s a fully realized world.

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Unfortunately, Darkest Dungeon has one major flaw. That one flaw that sort of ruins the end game is, well, the end game. After a while, you get the feeling that the developers didn’t really have an idea how to properly end the game. That’s because once you start getting into what you have to do, it gets repetitive and tedious. It’s clearly the case when you realize you are in the final dungeon with all of your favorite “heroes”. Once you beat it, you have to do it three more times with three other groups of heroes. That means you can’t use the ones you have been investing your time with for the other three runs. It becomes less of a horror RPG, and turns into a management simulator. The game becomes more of a chore, due to the reliance of the randomized nature of the dungeons and monsters. This is meant to be a soul-crushing game, like the already mentioned Dark Souls games. However, even the Dark Souls games lets you feel powerful once you find the right weapons, and know how to take down each challenge that gets in your way. Darkest Dungeon, on the other hand, is unrelenting, and it makes progress tedious. I feel like the vocal minority that loves super hard games because they are super hard, got to be too loud for their own good while this game was in Early Access, and that is probably why the game is like this. I don’t mean to fully put the blame on that community of people, but they never seem to realize that there is nothing wrong with having an easy mode or more customizable options to make the game easier for those not into teeth-grinding difficulty. It’s a shame too, since so many of the problems with this game could be fixed in a sequel, and I do hope they can make a sequel or another RPG in the same style, but with more customization options so that anyone can tone the difficulty to their liking. I don’t have time to play super-challenging games, and while I do enjoy some of them, I tend to play more games that aren’t just repeatedly bashing you against a wall. I want to say I can fully recommend this game, but since the last third can be such a painstaking chore, there is no real reason to beat it. Just start over to enjoy the first and second part of the game. Yes, it’s meant to be a difficult game, but just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean anyone can use that as an excuse for having problems. It’s like saying that I should ignore a film’s problem because it has an A+ cast and amazing visuals even when the story and execution is horrible. Oh, and while you do have a huge list of “heroes” at your disposal, the game is obviously meant for certain heroes to shine, while others are just for experimenting.

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Don’t get me wrong, I do love Darkest Dungeon, and I do think it’s one of the year’s best games. It’s also another super-successful Kickstarter and Early Access experience that showed what you should do if you want to do either Kickstarter or Early Access. However, I think it loses some points for that third act, whether it is the developers or the community to blame. I can easily recommend it, but at the price it is right now, I don’t think I would pay that much. Maybe wait for a sale to get it. It’s a good game with a troubling third act, but it’s still a haunted and spooky good time.

This game gets an 8 out of 10.