Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Alright Fallout 4, you beast. Let’s review this.

Game Name: Fallout 4 (2015)
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3)
Platform: PC, PS4, XBone (reviewed on PC)
Categories: Clunky 1st/3rd Person Shooter, One Player, Junk Hoarder, Nukes, Drugs, BFGs, Robots, Mutants, Zombies, Alternate Timeline Apocalypse, Base Building, Settlement Networking, Weapons/Armor/Provisions Crafting, Lockpicking, Password Hacking, Faction Missions and Alignment, Multiple Endings, Gorgeous Open World, Labyrinths and Locales, Primarily Combat, Targetable Body Parts, Hyper Violence, Repetitive Gameplay, Long Load Times, Buggy Missions and Visuals, Bad Pathfinding, 1950s Tunes, Extensive Voice Acting, Atmospheric Experience, Highly Moddable, Survival Mode, Customizable Power Armor!, Weak RPG Elements: Dialogue, Mission Resolution Options, Plot Branching, Unimportant Personal Stats, and Infrequent Ability Growth.

May Appeal To: Fallout newcomers, tinkerers, collectors, looters, explorers, crazed crafters, retro-future fanatics, trigger happy gore lunatics, and the twitchy FPS crowd.
May Repulse: long time followers of the Fallout series, pretty much. The guns/drugs use, glitches, body horror, PC graphics reqs, and a lack of multiplayer may chase off others.

Comparable To: the gun totin’ shootfest that is Borderlands 2, but with anti-radiation meds substituting the need for Adderall. Fallout 4 has less “RPG qualities” than all of its predecessors but is the prettiest to date. The map is smaller and more dense than New Vegas, easier to navigate than 3, and is less clever and humorous than 1 or 2 (which are completely different genres at this point). The default dialogue tree and “choices” are very much Mass Effect. Skyrim had interesting characters and quests vs checklists though it had less believable rules regarding competing factions as this applied to gameplay. TES: Oblivion had more tasks at the expense of being more repetitive while Morrowind allowed for some truly unique character builds and retained storylines that the average player never even discovered due to the world’s depth. Fallout 4’s crafting and networked base systems for attracting NPCs and generating scrap/revenue is a Bethesda first though it has some mild correlations with Terraria and Starbound the longer you think about it.

Continue reading

Luftrausers

Luftrausers

Simple concept: win the war by throwing a lone zombie daredevil pilot with a vision disorder headlong into a grid of enemy tracer fire. Brilliant!

Game Name: Luftrausers (2014)
Developer: Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne, Ridiculous Fishing, Yeti Hunter)
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, Vita, Android (reviewed on Vita)
Categories: Shoot ’em Up, Bullet Hell, Inertia Physics, 2D Looping Scroller, MonoChrome, Minimalist, Unlockables, Crazy Plane Combinations, Short Sessions, WWII Propoganda Newsreel, Chinese Shadow Puppetry Visuals, Looping Audio, Repetition, Impossible Mode, Indie Production Values, Addictive

May Appeal To: would-be ace pilots, the deaf, gamers on the go, and the twitchy.
May Repulse: actual WWII pilots, the colorblind, depth divers, and the sluggish.

Comparable To: a fast paced R-Type, a less demanding Stardust, or an immensely simplistic Enter The Gungeon. This game has the looping battle arena of Odin Sphere, the anachronistic experimental tech of the classic 194X series, and the general layout/feel of a beefed up Asteroids with gravitational pull. Continue reading

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Sweep the leg. No mercy!

Game Name: Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir (original 2007, re-master 2016)
Developer: Vanillaware (Dragon’s Crown, Grim Grimoire, Muramasa Rebirth)
Platform: PS2 (original), PS3, PS4, Vita, (reviewed on Vita)
Categories: Sidescrolling Reflex-Based Combat, Top-Tier Art Execution, 2D Exploration, Map Node Dungeons, Focused Combat Skill Progression, MOB Juggling/Crowd Control, Challenging Bosses, Casually Epic Story, Multiple Vantage Points, Extensive Voice-over Dialogue, Immersive and Engaging World, Extreme Inventory Management, Masterful Port

May Appeal To: button mashers, RPG addicts, art critics, Vanillaware fanbois, nostalgics, completionists, and introspectively deliberate story appreciators.
May Repulse: women’s liberation advocates, stat-crunchers, and brevity seekers.

Comparable To: the sultry hand-drawn visuals of Dragon’s Crown but minimal sexualized characters and situations. Odin Sphere: Lift-raiser has the sounds and story-telling mechanics of Grim Grimoire and bears similarities to Darkest Dungeon’s navigation. I’m not crazy, but the battle mini-map plays out like classic Defender and you slurp life essences out of the air like Soul Reaver. Continue reading

Into the Breach

Into the Breach

Metal Geeeear?!

Game Name: Into the Breach (2018)
Developer: Subset Games (FTL – Faster Than Light)
Platform: PC, MAC, Linux, Nintendo Switch (reviewed on PC)
Categories: High Concept Puzzler, Turn-Based, Tactical Positioning, Tile Defense, Mechs and Tanks vs Bugs, Environmental Hazards, Squad Management/Design, Pilot Growth, Roster Quirks and Complementing Abilities, Rogue-Like Sessions, Multiple Difficulties, Pixel Art, Isometric, Time Travel, Parallel Universes, Addictive, Replayable

May Appeal To: brains, masterminds, mech jockeys, players on the go, Rogue-like session divers, time attackers, completionists, and “God damn time traveling robots”.
May Repulse: those expecting something akin to a Godzilla or Pacific Rim type brawl, or anyone with hopes for nuts-and-bolts mech customization with RPG-like progression.

Comparable To: Starship Troopers’ bug variety and collateral warfare, I suppose. You’ve got all sorts of conceptual influences across the various sci-fi strata though the only real video game ancestor I can name is Advanced Wars. Even then, only the grid-based tactics and overall unit design is similar, with Into the Breach retaining little resemblance to a classic TBS focused on a single battle. Record of Agarest War also has elements where team members’ relative positions provide a tactical advantage. Continue reading

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon

“Let me share with you the terrible wonders I have come to know…”

Game Name: Darkest Dungeon (2016)
Developer: Red Hook Studios (have made only this game)
Platform: Windows, OSX, Linux, PS4, Vita, iOS, Nintendo Switch, XBOne
(reviewed on PC and Vita)
Categories: Lovecraftian Horror, Turn-Based Party Combat, Real-Time 2D Exploration, Gore-gous Art Style, Carnage and Viscera, the Darkest Tone, Bleak and Brooding, Punishing Difficulty, Structured Rogue-Like, Sacrificial Risk/Reward, Engrossing Story, Best Narration, RPG Equipment, Skills, Traits, Afflictions, Madness and Stress Mechanics, Town Development,  Procedural Missions, Dark Fantasy, Perma-Death,

May Appeal To: mettle testers, metalheads, medal earners, angsty teens/tweens, masochists, self flagellators, punishment gluttons, horror fans, disturbed obsessors, H.P. Lovecraft freaks, Alice Cooper and other pasty consumers of black eyeshadow
May Repulse: God fearing folk, scaredy cats, responsible parents, the busy, the previously abused or burnt, [boring] well-adjusted citizens, self respecting abstainers, and that one dude that knows his limits

Comparable To: a bunch o’ games that leap to mind…. but aren’t all that similar after consideration. It bests Bastion’s charismatic voice-overs. It champions TellTale Game’s bold, bright comic book style. Early Final Fantasies’ turn based, four person battle system -complete with spells and items- are the closest that I can dredge to measure its architecture. Dungeon of the Endless is a rogue-like exhibiting mysteriously ominous environs and specific character roles in defeating the bloodthirsty swarms. (This one also had a transactional battle system that is closer to Darkest Dungeon’s mission setup.) Etrian Odyssey and early Wizardry games are contenders for the labyrinthine, tile based exploration and testicle crushing difficulty DD may have taken inspiration from. Long story short, it’s a primal RPG amplified by modern conventions flying in the face of its predecessors, and no comparison does it justice.

Continue reading