Archive for the ‘screenshots’ Category

the awesome adventure of captain spirit

What I really find interesting about this… franchise, is that so far they managed to pull off a certain vibe, which feels similar (if not identical) throughout all the games. This is still true for Captain Spirit, although it has a completely different set of characters.

I also like that they returned to Unreal. Before the Storm was Unity for some reason (I know it was a different studio, still…) and I was quite impressed that it looked exactly the same. Maybe it was a right’s issue that forced them to pull this stunt? Seems like a waste of resources, to port all this to another engine for a one off.

I’m curious to find out how they connect this part to the actual Season 2. Is Chris going to be the main character? Is he going to be the same age? Either way, I’m not worried that people who were into Season 1 will like this as well. Can’t ask for much more. ;)

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Silence

Now I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for elaborate endings and epilogues or whatever… but come on! Given I’m already complaining about games like Deus Ex (for having a story that feels cut in half), I almost felt depressed by how much potential was squandered in Silence. The game is crazy beautiful, most of the locations are absolutely stunning. Like Pendulo, Daedalic adventure games probably feature the most technologically brilliant aesthetics on the planet in this genre. They never fail to impress on that level. I just wish more of the budget could have gone into the story department.

The world of Silence seems very interesting, but almost every part of it feels as if a sizable chunk was cut out. The characters are introduced well enough, but it then never goes beyond that. There is nothing added beyond the initial impression. At some point most of them vanish from the game and neither of the 2 endings show them again. I remember a scene in which Sadwick/Noah (one of the 2 main characters – or 3 if you count spot) stands in front of a closed shop (at no point is it possible to enter) and there’s a wedding dress in it. Only if the player looks at it several times, Sadwick will say that this is Kyra’s wedding dress. That sounds like quite the revelation, but the game never gets back to it. Who was the groom? Anything? This completely seems like cut content. But why leave this bit in? An oversight?
Speaking of Kyra, throughout the game her hair goes white until it is completely white. Renie (Sadwick’s/Noah’s sister) even comments on it. You guessed it: this too leads nowhere. Zero payoff. It almost makes the game feel like a demo or a prologue for the main event. I know it’s crazy hard to develop such a game on a budget and they did manage to deliver a lot of quality (voice acting is good too), I just wish they would have fulfilled more of it’s incredible potential. This way it just feels as if we’ve gotten something okay, while not that much stopped it from being insanely good.

For the first time I have to wonder, if it wouldn’t have been better to roll this out as an episodic game.

Silence is kind of the second part of The Whispered World, but with the exception of Sadwick and Spot, no major characters of the first game return. The game can be fully enjoyed without knowing anything about the first game.

Silence is Daedalic’s first game (I think) in Unity and maybe this had something to do with them maybe having to cut a lot. It’s still an impressive first entry and I don’t think I have encountered any bug. The only bad thing I can say on the technical side, is that the loading times are relatively long, but I will gladly blame Unity for that. While I don’t belong to the group of Unity haters (many great games were made in it after all), short loading times definitely don’t seem to be its strong suit.

I know, I know. During Steam sales people are supposed to buy games, not play them… Anyway, many years ago I played Yesterday and liked it (I considered replaying it before starting the sequel, but if I’d do that, I’d never get anywhere). I’d forgotten 75% of it, BUT luckily this sequel was released like 2 years ago. The game is a quite solid, good adventure. The graphics are its highlight. Pendulo games always look perfect. Shocking really.
Speaking of Pendulo, these people need to step up their marketing or something. I never know when they are working on a new game and only ever learn of it by sheer coincidence. Right now they are supposedly working on a game called Blacksad and not even their very own Twitter account is mentioning it. What’s up with that? Having people know about the game long before release is super important. I don’t even know anything, but I know that.
There was one single bug in the game that was angering me and I feel quite strongly that they should have patched this out (but given its 2 year age it’s way past the point where this actually might have happened). It’s possible for red text to appear on the upper left of the screen and who likes to have that over their game? I don’t. I had to figure out what triggers it and how many buttons I have to press in what speed and order for it to go away – mostly.
So yeah, I’m still wondering if they are doing a third one. The game doesn’t necessarily demand it (although I was left with some questions), but then again: I wasn’t expecting a sequel to Yesterday either. :D
They also had a slight story-oversight at the end. Throughout the entire game it was explained explicitly, that 2 people max can use the potion. And then suddenly at the end it’s enough for 3. How did this get past QA? :P

The best description I ever heard about Bayonetta, is that people like Baynetta more than they like her game. That’s so true. Not that the game is bad or anything, but… It’s not among the games I would play several times. I was glad I was done at the end and especially some of the boss battles felt like a massive grind. The worst boss battle was definitely the monster on the water, one miserable QTE miss and the whole painful process starts from the beginning. I’m so glad these vanished from most games in the following years. Can’t remember the last time I played a new game which was QTE heavy.
So since B2 isn’t on PC and probably never will be, I guess I’m supposed to watch it on YT now. :P

Playing Chrono Trigger got me so pumped for this genre, that I immediately wanted to continue playing something similar to it, which obviously brought me to CSH (I could have gone CrossCode, but that’s not done yet). It’s not a bad game at all, and yet what I couldn’t get myself to overlook, is how CT still does tons of stuff better than this game. Part of what was so deeply satisfying to me in CT, isn’t just that you get to make certain decisions, it’s first and foremost that you are confronted with their outcome. Deciding to play the optional sidequest to restore a desert, results in a nice forest in the future. It’s not going to happen otherwise and the game can be completed without doing any of it. That’s just fantastic. This is what makes everything feel rewarding.

Lots of characters change their lines after a certain change occurred. Some of these changes might be small, but these methods have an impact regardless. CSH has almost none of that. The game is extremely linear, I don’t think there is ever any choice and as far as I know it has one ending, where CT has 13. With a few exceptions, most characters never change their lines and I never really met anyone again later. Even if, since all quests always end the same way, it still wouldn’t feel as rewarding.

While the combat system appears to be very similar at first glance, it too is hardly a match for CT. A major strength in CT is, that especially most bosses require some sort of trick, they expect the player to learn a certain strategy or figure out a weakness. Some of them are almost like a riddle. It took me quite a while, until I understood how to defeat the son of sun for example. In CSH, it’s usually enough to just do damage until the enemy folds (I never started healing a foe because I used the wrong type of attack). There are a lot of different abilities, but since it’s almost always about doing nothing but damage, it suffices to simply unload the entire arsenal until the battle is over. Dynamics also don’t change during battles.

Further, the combat in CSH feels a lot more tedious, because everyone just stands around, no matter what anyone supposedly does. This is boring. In CT, there are countless animations for each attack and characters actually run up to the enemy to strike them and it’s fun to see all that (I never got tired of seeing Frog fly around to do a sword strike or whatever). Every character has their own styles and this isn’t even taking into account, how many possible combos exist between all the heroes.

There is one thing that CSH does better, each shop allows to “buy & equip” in one step. That’s really nice and should be adopted by pretty much every game in existence. :P

Another interesting part of CSH is a timeline during combats, which outright states who gets to make an attack and in which order. In CT this will surprise the player and at best one can learn through observation, when a foe is going to do what. Maybe this is better, because it makes things feel more dynamic? Not actually sure which method is better in the end. This timeline sure does make it easier to plan ahead, in any case.

CSH has a ton of characters, I probably would have reduced the number of party members by 50%. :P Maybe they were “cheaper” to do than more reactivity, or that’s just how the devs wanted it. I don’t know. Anyway, CSH ist still quite the valiant effort and I had fun playing it. It took me about 20 hours less to complete than CT, which is still a long game. If I wouldn’t have liked it, I couldn’t have finished something of this size.

What I was really into, was how they give the player some closure for each of the major characters at the end. Never would have expected it. I’m always in favor of that. There was one single thing I didn’t do. The optional dungeon for Lauren. The first 2 dudes in the dungeon were already a lot harder than the final boss of the game (it’s supposed to be this hard), so (with a heavy heart) I decided to skip it. I also never touched Dark Souls, probably for the very same reason. Not my cup of tea.

The humor in the game might not work for everyone, as it seems to be too close to being a fan version of whatever thing I actually wanted to see. There were some really good lines in the game, I thought, other times it feels as if they are just referencing too much pop culture and should have used some restraint.

And I know it’s not fair to talk about CT all the time in the text about another game, but the soundtrack couldn’t possibly compete. I said it’s unfair! The music isn’t bad though, but what could possibly be on par with the epic CT soundtrack? I know right?

Long story short, people who are into CT should play this too, as long as they don’t expect an adventure that’s as unforgettable and epic.

btw: CT has NG+ and a new patch came out today. :P

The Death of Stalin was really great. :D I had so much fun watching this, I had to see it twice. :P Since I kept thinking about it all, I even had to read up on it, because I’m dumb and don’t know anything. :P I was really surprised how much of the movie appeared to be backed up by historic facts. You don’t see that every day. :P And Mr. Pink is in it too!

Hey it’s only been 7 years since this thing has been released and I’ve already played it! Yeah!

I’m not gonna say that Telltale’s BTTF is bad, but… it might be a good example why I was never in favor of continuing BTTF in any way. The game is not a train wreck per se and hardcore BTTF fans might still find something in this, but the limited scope (engine, budget…) doesn’t do much to make this series shine.

The game ends on the “to be continued” screen and since it’s been 7 years, I’m going to guess this is a promise they haven’t kept. Which seems a little bit weird, since supposedly

Back to the Future: The Game was Telltale’s most successful franchise prior to the release of The Walking Dead: The Game.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Future:_The_Game#Reception

So… What gives? They lost the license? No hot ideas for another season? All we do know, is that they planed doing a Season 2 initially, otherwise they would never have put this screen in at the end.

Chrono Trigger hasn’t just aged well, as they often say, rather: it’s shocking, how many elements in more modern games are seemingly executed in a less sophisticated way. Many great movies or games have this one supercool scene/event everyone remembers and likes – CT easily has a dozen such moments in it. It’s unfathomable. :P But seriously, I wish at least devs would go learn some lessons from this game.

I used to be a fan of a dev who rose to certain fame by making all these party based games, whose characters usually (or eventually?) overshadowed their games’ actual stories (this might even partially be the explanation why they kind of stopped trying to make their stories good in the first place). When I, almost by coincidence, saw the Giant Bomb Chrono Trigger Endurance Run (what was roughly a thousand years ago), I started to feel as if they were just ripping off Chrono Trigger. :D BADLY. :P I felt pretty stupid for not knowing this.
So obviously this endurance run made me want to play it myself and I did start it, but due to a hardware failure my playthrough was ended prematurely. So when CT was put on Steam, my time had finally come. :P The Steam version got a lot of bad press initially, but since they actually started to patch and improve the Steam version, it IMHO doesn’t deserve most criticisms anymore. I hate it myself quite a bit, when companies just dump something like abandonware on such a platform, hoping some assholes will still buy it without reading up on it first, but thanks to 2 substantial patches CT has escaped this fate (and a third one is still being worked on – at the time I wrote this of course). Deservedly so. The game itself is easily worth the money anyway, but due to their continuing efforts, this release is now as well – to me, at least. I don’t know if CT on PC is now maybe even the best version of the game – I leave that decision to the professionals. :P

One could probably write an essay on how good the soundtrack alone is and how it justifies a hall of fame entry all on its own, even if the rest of the game wasn’t any good (which it obviously is). I’m not going to do that here, it’s enough to note that I cannot imagine how the soundtrack could be even better. They nailed the tone of every scenario. There is a piece for every occasion, there is always an overwhelming sense of a scene being sad, happy, intense, hectic or outright heroic. Once the Chrono Trigger fanfare starts blasting, you know what you’ve done. :D Whichever situation it might be, they got a track for everything. There are even extra themes for the major characters. Sometimes I stayed in a room a little while longer, just to listen to the music.
The graphics manage to deliver the same intense energy. They have all the animations necessary, to sell these characters. Whether Lucca moves her glasses or Marle jumps around happily (probably my favorite animation) the details are aplenty. They don’t even use generic animations for walking. While Crono has a typical strut, Frog is literally jumping. And I still can’t watch Magus holding his cape in front of his face without being amused by it.

What is one of the major reasons why even the gameplay works so well for me, is how everything is explained and introduced. The game is actually quite complex and has lots of elements to it, but CT doesn’t dump everything on you in the first 5 minutes. At first Crono has just a sword, so you get used to fighting with it. Later Crono learns further techniques, then other people join him and they learn combos together… And even after this at some point they learn how to use magic. The next step is always only introduced, after the previous one was understood and the player had the time necessary to get used to it. There is no better way to ensure players can easily handle even a dozen different things a game has to offer, without making them hate a tutorial that’s too long or forgetting lessons again because it was too much at once.

This kind of thinking is then consequently applied to all aspects of the game. Things are elevated after a while, even after I thought this is how it was going to be for the rest of the game. It would have been for this way for countless other games, but not here. The player believes the party can only be lead by Crono and this well never change? Wrong! The player has gotten the hang of traveling through time by using gates? Great, but now you get your own time machine making these gates kind of obsolete! The time machine can only be used to travel through time? No, you’ll find out it can also fly! […] Chrono Trigger isn’t a short game, but because of all those tricks it pulls, it manages to stay surprisingly fresh, even many hours in. Again, without dumping options on the player, they will forget about and never use. There are a ton of good games available now (rather too many than too few), but in most of them one has to do nothing but learn 2-3 tricks and then repeat those until the ending credits start rolling.
CT doesn’t make it this predictable – for example the great, memorable boss fights in this game offer enemies who have usually unique immunities and vulnerabilities, which therefore require the player to learn a different strategy each time. Simply unloading the seemingly most powerful ability over and over again might even heal the foe. Not being able to fall into a routine of mere brainless button mashing, also helps with appreciating the story more. I had to learn to pay attention again.

I was so impressed when Crono is put on trial and all the player behavior from earlier in the game is taken into account. With flashbacks! Wow! You are being tested without even being aware of it. So damn cool. Did I mention that this game has like ~13 endings? I think?

And all of this doesn’t even begin to cover how satisfying it is to travel through time and see the outcome of all the changes made by Crono and his friends. Many possible changes await – the maps as well as the characters dialogs are reactive. And those are unique for every NPC in this game anyway… I imagine this is what some other games tried to pull off, which had the player play a character who moved through time, but failed to deliver at the same level for whatever reason.
Since I long to mention that this Steam version also includes all the stuff that wasn’t in the original SNES version, like the quite good anime FMVs and several additional areas (Lost Sanctum/Dimensional Vortex)… I’ll just do that here/now.

So this was a first time for me, seeing all these additions, since the mentioned endurance run was done on an original SNES – not that I still could remember everything from a vid I saw 6 years before playing it myself… The Lost Sanctum has a lot of painful backtracking, but otherwise it’s quite good too.

Ultimately, what we have here, is a bunch of various pieces, which are all great on their own already and end up creating an even better whole after being put together (which might be the most impressive feat of them all).

Chrono Trigger is essentially the ultimate adventure. You travel through time, experience lots of crazy stuff, find friends from various time periods, save the world (depending on your ending) and live to tell the tale (unless you die). :D There is little more anyone could ask for in a game. I have a very hard time thinking of any game I had more fun with (the best games I can come up with right now are as good, not better). Playing this back in 1995 must have totally blown peoples minds. There had never been anything like it at that point.

After all this, I still haven’t even really mentioned the characters. They fit well into the world and the story, they even have their own sidequests (sounds familiar? :P). What’s done so well here, is that they even have their own homes etc… Lucca has a house and the player can just go there and visit it and her parents are there too. This game really goes the full distance. Even the newest games usually have the characters just pop up without much of an explanation and that’s it. They are obviously only there for the PC to have some companions. That feels so cheap in comparison. CT offers much more immersion than that.

PS: This pretty much marks the end of my space on wordpress.com. There are like ~20 MB left now. Don’t know yet how to proceed best from here.

PPS: How often did I use the word even this time? :P

//Edit

Well, well… Obviously “inspired” by my entry here :P, Kotaku now decided to do their own Chrono Trigger write-up. I’ll add it here, because it has some nice behind the scenes info. :) I just hate the sentence “that Chrono Trigger turned out to be an evolutionary dead end”. Haven’t they played all the countless other games like Cosmic Star Heroine? I haven’t, but I will (I seriously just bought it on Steam and am going to start it any day now) and guess why – that’s right, because of Chrono Trigger! :P And more stuff is on the way like CrossCode. Dead end my ass! :P

Yay, just finished. Or :( rather. Loved it again. Almost everything was actually improved upon (and not just claimed in the ads). The list would be long. I especially liked how enchantment works now. I hated how the enchantment in Pillars I made everything feel bland and generic. It didn’t matter what item the player found, the same stuff could be slapped on everything. Terrible! Now, only unique items can be enchanted, nothing else and even those come with actual unique enchantments! ENCHANTMENT!

So weapons finally retain their individuality and it matters again which weapon someone has equipped. It’s also fun again to find something.
Being able to retarget spells during casting is another one of these sorely missed improvements. Finally a game is improved in an aspect that players actually want! Crazy!

Another new favorite of mine is definitely sneaking. I never switched to scout mode in Pillars I, I saw no reason to walk slower (honestly this is primarily what it did…), since even hidden objects can be spotted without it. Pillars II on the other hand made it so useful, that I sneak in every dungeon. All characters/monsters now have a vision cone and quests can change depending on how stealthy they were handled. It’s quite extreme how this morphed for me from never on in the original, to always on in the sequel.

The character models are also much prettier now, not that it matters all that much in comparison to these other high level changes (which enable a better gameplay). You see these characters only from way above… What does help the graphics tremendously though, are all these light/shadow effects and birds and moving trees. This is extremely effective in making the world feel more alive. It’s surprising almost, how much this helps against the game looking dead and sterile (which Pillars I does now in comparison). The mere quality of the maps was always very high, so it’s not surprising that it was almost impossible to raise the bar here since Pillars I. This isn’t to say the ones in Pillars II aren’t great, rather that the quality of such a 2D background can only be this high.

Rain and day/night cycle weren’t as great as I hoped they would be though. In Witcher 1, way back in 2007, people would run in houses/avoid getting wet when it started raining, they did nothing fun like that here.

What didn’t change again, is the characters/companions/party members. I never thought they were actually bad, like too many jerks claim, but there weren’t any “stars” among them, is what I’m saying. This hasn’t changed. In Pillars II, there are (again) no characters like Morte or… let’s say Varric. They play it very safe (probably too safe – at least for my taste), which results in characters that are almost bland. They are serviceable/okay, but that’s it.

What they did with their relationship system has a lot of potential though. Characters can now have a relationship which each other and not just the PC. Which makes it almost more interesting to me than the tired “wanna bang” BioWare routine. Companions can also start hating each other. Pallegina and Xoti were clashing every now and then, because one of them loves and the other one hates religion. So naturally I would always put them together. This doesn’t lead to either of them leaving however, this much still only happens if the relation to the PC is bad. I genuinely hope they won’t drop this and only refine it for future games.
It definitely could need some polish here and there. Aloth never had any opinion on my PC, his value firmly stayed at 0 for the entire game. His likes and dislikes are so few/exotic, that nothing I ever did pushed him in any direction.
What I liked very much, was how I was allowed to choose the class (out of 3 choices which made sense for the respective character) of every character joining me. I didn’t get too exotic with it, I thought Eder really should be a fighter, but it was great to have the option. There is always another playthrough.

I never had the sidekicks in my party. Not even once, outside of leveling them up. There were just too many characters. Especially with slots for only 4 of them. I do understand the rationale behind having/needing them. It’s possible to piss off all the main ones and they could leave. Or they could be permanently killed. And then the PC could end up all alone. :D Okay there is the adventure hall, but not everyone likes to make their own characters. Icewind Dale never fully gripped me for this very reason. There are also no stronghold adventures this time, so there’s no need for extra characters just for those.
This is really neither a good nor a bad thing, but not having party members frequently in the active party has them further behind as before. Suddenly they have 20.000 XP less and Pallegina was level 18 all of a sudden while everyone else was already at 20. It’s not a big deal, because I reached 20 (=max level) a while before the end (if one does everything), it’s just that Pillars I always had party members one level behind max. This might only matter to people who play at highest difficulty. I didn’t.

Which brings me to the ship combat. I honestly expected to dislike it after seeing it in some videos, but boy was it fun to me. I did all the ship-bounty quests for all factions and attacked every single slaver ship. At the end it’s possible to enter a sea battle personally or just sail on (for the people who hate it) and that was just ideal, I would have been so disappointed if there wouldn’t have been another opportunity to have a ship battle. Naturally I got myself the best ship with all the upgrades and my crew was just awesome. Maybe I should just go ahead and get myself Nantucket (which was kind of an inspiration for this AFAIK). :)

My ending came without a big bang or anything, it was just okay (actually the central question I had wasn’t even answered, which is kind of a letdown). It wasn’t great nor bad, just like most of the characters. But it’s hard to ask for more, if there already are thousands of ending slides, for all the possible combinations.

I wonder how they are going to throw the DLC into this game. I don’t think it’s known yet, if it’s going to be thrown into the game again like Pillars I did it, or if it’s going to be AFTER the main events. It’s probably going to be the former.

Before I fall asleep completely, I guess I could also mention the eternal Steam/GOG struggle a little bit. What weirds me out the most here isn’t any more, how Steam is always the better supported platform, it’s that the devs act like they want it this way. From my perspective, it should be more desirable for a company, if they have the option to sell their games in more than just one single store. It seems so short-sighted, to care only about the one store, when this can lead longterm to nothing but a higher and higher margin for that store. They obviously won’t take a lower cut, once their competition is gone.
So yeah, GOG generally gets the patches later (I can’t tell whose fault that is), all the promo stuff like this scavenger hunt they did for Pillars II on Steam is… only on Steam. :P And was the backer beta (I didn’t have access) again Steam only this time? I heard a rumor the items from the scavenger hunt would materialize on GOG too at some point, but that hasn’t happened yet. None of this stuff might be too important, but it still feels weird to buy the same game and yet get less for no good reason. It’s not like Steam costs more after all. If anything, they earn less on Steam because their fee is higher (I’m making this up, I have no idea how much Steam takes for each game sold).

The game had only very few glitches during my playthrough. All quests worked, it never crashed – which is obviously the most important part. Several times icons were missing and only displayed a placeholder. No biggie, with hundreds of different items in the game, this can happen. They should probably fix the scrolling in the game. It happens all the time, that the “continue” option is out of the visible area and scrolling is necessary to see it. When ENCHANTING items it also always usually happens, that stuff jumps around in the left pane. Everything works though, it’s just a visual glitch. The only real bug I encountered, was after loading a save, almost all my gold was gone because the game thought for some reason dozens of days had passed, so it was spend for wages (for the ship crew). Luckily all I had to do, was to load the same save again and the bug didn’t surface anew.

It took me around 80 hours to finish this (I played all quests I could find, went to every island and did a lot of ship battles), which is about the same time completing Pillars I took – but I only remembered the time including White March and obviously the Pillars II DLC isn’t out yet. So once they have their complete edition out, it will definitely be longer than the first game.

JS mentioned a few times (he didn’t promise) that it could be a thing to port the fist game into the more advanced engine and I genuinely hope this is going to happen at some point.

What should be mentioned, is how horrible the loading times were in Pillars I and how they got longer, the longer the game ran. Pillars II was supposed to have this new/better streaming system to cut down loading times, but honestly, it hasn’t changed much. There is definitely an improvement, the loading times haven’t gotten longer despite better graphics (and so on) AND they seem to have fixed some of the mem leaks (or whatever the cause for the ever-increasing loading times was) and yet the loading screens still are way too time consuming. There still are these quests too, which make this impossible to overlook. The Huana Queen is on the third floor of her palace, which means that every stage of a quest that involves her, sends the player over 3 loading screens in and 3 out… I dreaded every visit.

Naturally I imported my save from the prequel instead of just clicking a legend together. I can’t tell what’s the effective difference. I only noticed that one of the conditions for Maneha were missing in the questionnaire. It’s possible to make her forget, or learn to live with her memories. The latter option is missing and can thus only be obtained by importing a save with this decision. It’s not a big deal, again, because it’s only used for one scene in the game (as far as I know), I’m just curious why they left it out. Or could they simply have forgotten about it?
Other than that, the effect of the imported save is minimal. At least for my character, there weren’t any groundbreaking effects. I ran into Wirtan at some point and quite frankly, I had to think hard for a moment who that even was. He’s a character who only very briefly appears during a minor quest in Gilded Vale.
The most noticeable effect of the import must be the 3 returning characters Edér/Aloth/Pallegina. That was easily enough to appease me.
My favorite effect of the import must be the letter from Aufra though. Her fate was one of the reasons why I picked the Hylea ending in the first game. So I couldn’t have been happier to learn that it worked out the way I only hoped it would. Often it’s really the little things.

Which reminds me of Whispers of Yenwood. I really liked this sword, it being “the official weapon” of the ruler of Caed Nua and all. I didn’t even expect to see it again, so it was supercool to get it back along the blade of the endless paths. Of course I ENCHANTED the sword to legendary status as soon as possible. :) This sword seemingly always shows up (even if no save is imported), the blade of the endless paths however, doesn’t (even if this sword was set to forged in the questionnaire). :)

I thoroughly enjoyed To The Moon, so it was a no brainer for me, if I would play the sequel too. After the 2 minisodes and A Bird Story, I finally got Finding Paradise. It’s quite the brave choice, to give a sequel a new name, instead of just slapping a 2 behind the title. I’m glad things like this are still happening. They are also among the last game people who still have a forum – these sadly seem to be dying like flies. Anyway, I don’t intend to go into many comparisons, which game is better, since it’s so hard to judge who is going to connect with which story more.

It’s more important to realize, that they didn’t phone it in and the game manages to offer an experience which has many of the same strengths the first one did. People who liked To The Moon, should like this game as well, is what I’m saying. The same goes for the soundtrack, which is quite moving again. I usually don’t buy soundtracks, which are sold separately, but in this case I gladly made an exception.

My only gripe is, that the story still isn’t done and I have no idea when/how it will be continued/concluded. Will there be minisodes again? Or are there (again) years of waiting ahead, until another full-fledged sequel sees the light of day? While the client’s story of Finding Paradise gets a satisfying conclusion, the overarching story of the 2 doctors remains shrouded in mystery. While I like this tale a lot, I’m still hoping it won’t be dragged out for more than a trilogy. Sequels are never guaranteed and even if they are made, there will still be years between games, which puts quite the strain on the enjoyment of any storyline.

Just wanted to say that I played it too! Last year!

The original Life is Cringe/Strange just worked for me. In an entirely unexpected way too. I only wanted to play it because of the time travel stuff, but then I ended up liking pretty much everything about it. Characters, the completely appropriate artsy graphics, the music… I especially liked how lame everyone was. I actually feel a little bit alienated, whenever every character in such a piece behaves like a movie star – that’s not how I remember it.

When I first heard of “Before the Storm” I didn’t really think this was a good idea. The odds even seemed to be stacked against it. Different developer, different engine, different voice actors… So I was quite surprised when BtS turned out quite good too. No one could have asked for it to be as good as it actually is.

So when I played Farewell on Monday, it was the first part of the LiS franchise I didn’t like. It was short, it had bugs, I couldn’t tell why the download was 3,5 GB although the episode was mostly reusing known assets and it failed as a Farewell episode because it was bumming me out. This isn’t what such a Farewell episode is supposed to do. The intent has to be to give people a proper sendoff tied to a positive spin, involving the beloved characters. Even Mass Effect 3 managed to do this quite well with its Citadel DLC.
What Farewell does instead, is end on the most traumatic event in the life of the main character, making this then the last moment with this character. Why do you hate us?

Ah, Dishonored… Is the architecture and level design of these games the best in the industry, or just very close to that? I don’t know. It’s the best part of these games in any case. The worst part however (sorry!), must be how they always dump a single, short scene at the end and then go right into the ending credits. Those games are definitely all about the journey, not the destination. While this is anything but uncommon in the realm of gaming, this absolutely has to be the worst part of these games. I love these screens that are shown at the end of each mission, giving a summary of everything that took place in YOUR playthrough. The most intriguing section probably is “special actions”. So in one of the Death of the Outsider missions I saved a witch from her prison cell and you can meet her again in the same level outside sitting on a chair – but that’s it. You’ll never meet her again and nothing further will change anywhere. Everything will be as if you didn’t do that. Now I understand that it’s very expensive to reflect player actions and choices in a game, but this is the only big thing where all the Dishonored games really drop the ball. After spending many extra hours sneaking and not killing anybody (obviously you can end the game in a fraction of the time if you just kill everything), I want more than a short clip at the end, saying “Yeah you got the good ending BYE!”. It’s frustrating. I want a real payoff. I deserve one! :P A proper epilogue, at least, is not too much to ask!

But more specific to the Death of the Outsider, I found the idea so odd. Why would anyone want to kill the guy? Without him giving Corvo these powers, he never would have been able to survive the events of Dishonored 1 or at least to have a meaningful impact. He also always gives these insightful hints. That’s pretty cool, right?
The only thing I ever wanted in regards to the Outsider, was a little bit more info on him. And, shocker, this is exactly what this expansion didn’t give me. Instead there is this premise I didn’t really buy into and then it only leads to the typical 30 sec Dishonored ending scene. Great! The thing I want now, what they’ll obviously never do, is have us play the Outsider in the next Dishonored game. Retconning everything is even a Dishonored tradition (they’ve done it in every sequel, at least to a certain degree), so this wouldn’t be a showstoppper.
Spoilers: The only thing I learned about the Outsider in Death of the Outsider, was that some cult performed some ritual on the Outsider, but I still have no idea why and why he was chosen. There is also no information on who he was or anything else that might have been actually interesting (the sole reveal they tease a bit, his name, they completely chicken out of). It’s a complete cop out on anything story related. The game is as bad in telling any kind of meaningful story, as it is good in world-building and creating an enticing atmosphere. The people who hacked all these notes together should have been able to come up with some sort of rudimentary story. Okay, I guess they kinda did, with an emphasis on the rudimentary.
This game was also the first entry in the series which deemed it necessary to call itself Dishonored®: Death of the Outsider™ instead of just Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Yay! :D

btw: The graphics really impressed me. Incredible textures all throughout. Breathtaking art everywhere. Someone should do a Dishonored museum with only paintings from this game. [1] In one scene I thought for a second there might be some decal stuck in the air in front of me, but it turned out I was under a tree and its leaves were falling… And let’s not forget the lighting effects, those were pristine. Best I ever saw in a game, I think. [2]

PS: The “void leaking into the world” part was “strongly reminding” me of BioShock Infinite. There was only Elizabeth missing making a comment about it. :P

PPS: OWLS! What’s up with the owls?!? A reference to Blade Runner? An inside joke? Did I miss something?

[1] Part of the Dishonored 2 exhibit at the Art Ludique

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dishonored_2#Release

[2] Arkane removed unneeded elements from the engine like the mini open world and overhauled the graphics. The new engine is intended to improve in-game lighting and post-processing to help the game’s visuals, and allows the game to visualize subsurface scattering.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dishonored_2#Development

Most companies manage/intend to improve their games in some way over time, so I absolutely wanted to play Transistor because I thought Bastion was interesting. For whatever reason, I have to say I liked Transistor less than Bastion. The great graphics are back, but everything else feels almost like a step back. They definitely tried to do something here, there are a lot of powers that can be used as active or passive abilities and the mix is up to the player, but it didn’t engage me much. I just picked some combo that seemed to work and stuck with it for the entire game.

What I couldn’t get into at all was the story (although I really wanted to – at first when it still showed promise), which probably explains my lack of motivation to get through this. I don’t think I would have finished it, if it wasn’t relatively short. Even now I have no idea what it was supposed to be about. I waited for some twist or explanation that never came. The characters are (trapped?) in a seemingly digital world, but how they got there, or what their origins are, remained a mystery. I tried to come up with explanations of my own, to make some sense of this at least, but I never like it, if something has so many holes, that the story will only work if I fill in all the blanks myself. I’m not willing to tell a story to the storyteller who I’ve paid to tell me a story. :P

Anyway, the game goes into its version of NG+ right away after finishing and all I thought was HELL NO. The game really overestimates how good its gameplay actually is (this ain’t XCOM). And I think I’ve said enough about the story (I don’t care if there is a super-awesome fan explanation somewhere that elaborates on everything).

So yeah, I wouldn’t buy it again. Sorry. Their new game is a party based RPG as far as I know, this already sounds so much more to my liking. :)

Prey

I liked Prey a lot, I especially enjoyed it more than the last Deus Ex (although that one wasn’t a bad game either) – this is the kind of game this Prey is most similar to. It has such an odd genesis, resulting in having nothing in common with the other Prey, which is fine, I guess.

Prey is an unrelenting exploration game (is the term metroidvania applicable here?). It has a ton of gameplay systems and most of them are working very well, most other games don’t even have half as many. Inventory, hacking, repairing, recycling, crafting, turrets, sneaking, gunplay, zero gravity, scanning device, accessible computers, toy gun, upgradeable suit, upgradeable scanner, multiple supernatural abilities, countless objects are movable/destructible, character progression through neuromods and probably more I’ve forgotten.
I cannot even imagine how one would pitch this. It sounds like someone just trying to throw in all the buzz words. But they actually delivered on all of it. Quite rare. And it’s still fun too. :D

The ending made me mad at first, but there was “another ending” after the ending credits, which redeemed the game. :P If the first stop would have been the actual ending, this would have sucked so hard. :D I don’t know if they intended to mess with the player this way. Probably.

Because I’m so slow it took me 52 hours to complete this (according to Steam at least).
Honestly the game was great, I can only complain about the bugged Kirk Remmer quest. This bug is in the game since release and they should have fixed this by now.

PS: The player can somewhat protect turrets with the GLOO cannon and I feel like an idiot for not realizing this during my playthrough. It says everything about this game that there always is another way to do something. :)