The Lost Gardens

Forgotten and lost to time, a mysterious entity known as The One has awoken you; an ancient robot known as The Caretaker. You are tasked with reclaiming the world from a being known only as Fear before he finishes draining the world of life. This is what the story of The Lost Gardens is suppose to be about. But frankly, I don’t see it. From my experience with The Lost Gardens, the game is barely playable.

While attempting to complete the first area, I managed to lose most of my health to jumping incorrectly as a result of the poor control mechanics. In a normal game this would not be a problem, however with The Lost Gardens if you die you return to your last save point. Now, the save will reload, erasing any progress you had made and returning you to the previous save health and all. Because that this is how their deaths work, I ended up stuck in an infinite loop of death to minions who spawned near the save spot I used and defeated me in one hit due to my low health.

But enough about the combat, let’s move on to the story, or should I say “lack thereof”. The story of The Lost Gardens is suppose to be that you are a robotic caretaker who has been awoken to defeat an evil known as “the Fear” but as far as I progressed I noticed no story development whatsoever. You are just told to wander around until something happens, so if you end up taking a wrong turn or don’t notice a jump you could be making, there is no progression to be made. The story doesn’t even give a proper introduction or tutorial. It explains that WASD allows you to move and that SPACE is jump, but then it throws you in and lets you figure the rest out on your own.

I wish I could stop there, but there is another major problem I found with the game and that is the mapping in itself. There were quite a few times where I would jump into a corner and be lifted above the map with no means of getting down aside from jumping into the water and killing myself to reset my save. The map has many glitched areas like that, as well as spots where you can sneak past walls in order to get to unreachable areas, like where secrets could be hidden, but in reality it is just death waiting for you.

As much as I would love to support the developers of this game by telling everyone to grab it for a good time, I found the game was far too buggy and a lot of the combat/mapping issues should be resolved before moving on. If there is an update put out on the game I will most likely try it again, but for now, I feel the game is just too unplayable and it will have to be left in my library for another time.

Brain Eating & Playing The Final Station

The world is dying. Humans have become vicious, cannibalistic life forms that attack anything on sight. Communications across the country have failed, leaving people stranded. You are a train conductor who got lucky – or unlucky – enough to be in the right train, at the right time.

High-ranking officials at the end of their rope task you with an importing mission. Transporting weapons, the nature of which remains classified to you, across the country. With more than a thousand tonnes of locomotive at your fingertips, you begin the arduous journey to the North. The goal is to keep your train operational to reach the next station, where you fight through swarms of infected outnumbering you hundred to one.

With the oversaturation of zombie games in recent years, it takes a truly unique game to stand out from the dozens, to give the battle hardy formula of an apocalypse an interesting twist. The Final Station might not hit the mark precisely, but with its ominous atmosphere and intriguing storyline, it gave me an experience to remember. I can’t recall the last time I played a game, that made me crave DLC to prolong my time with it.

The Final Station conveys its story through snippets of dialogue and cleverly placed exposition in the form of notes and books. This can lead to a squint-and-you’ll-miss sort of situation. If you barrel ahead without stopping to explore the nooks and crannies, chances are high that you’d miss a key piece of the story. Things don’t make much sense at first. But as you gather information the game sparingly doles out; the story becomes less daunting and easier to understand.

I appreciate that the game didn’t shove walls of text in my face and say, “This is what’s going on,” because I like travelling down the beaten path. My knowledge of the current situation only expanded as the conductor trudged through station after station, which made me feel like I was there and experiencing things first hand. Even non-related story events are a joy to uncover, things like discovering a hidden, underground fighting ring or reading a note left by an enraged wife, whose husband was too involved in his hobby.

Unfortunately, no matter how interesting a story may be, the player won’t find themselves enjoying it if they’re occupied with useless busywork. The gameplay is split into two distinct segments. Taking care of the train, and exploring abandoned places you come across. The conductor keeps the locomotive in peak condition by doing mini-games that are mind numbingly boring. Press this switch, pull that lever, make sure the survivors you pick up don’t go hungry.

As I said above, parts of the story are told through dialogue. Conversations between the survivors are easily missed when you’re doing multiple things at once. I’ll catch the tail end of an interesting talk between an injured soldier and a housewife because I was too busy making sure the train didn’t overheat and explode.

I want to know more about the story, about what caused this apocalypse, but the game constantly forces me to keep my hands occupied. The micro-management portions aren’t a big deal by themselves. But they don’t add any substance to the game and only act as nuisances. It’d be better if they weren’t present at all.

As you explore abandoned stations and homes, you’d undoubtedly come across an infected. Supplies are scarce, leaving you to determine which is the best course of action. Throw caution to the wind and use your melee attack, or play it safe and waste your bullets? The gunplay is pretty standard, but the scarcity of ammo can make the game difficult if you’re trigger happy.

You’re taught early into the game to pay attention to your environment. Why waste a bullet when a chair can take care of things? The objective is not to mow down the hordes of infected trawling the urban landscape, it is to live to see another day and keep your guts inside your squishy body.

The game had the right amount of challenge for me. There are no situations I found impossible to get out of. If you find yourself stuck at a certain area, be bold. Get creative with the tools on hand. The solution might be one you’re afraid to try.

The Final Station might not be the longest, or the most visually impressive game, but the experience of trekking through a dying world and the truly original story, makes the time I spent worthwhile.

The Padre – Steam Update

Have you ever gotten the feeling someone or something is watching you? That creepy, eerie feeling that something could jump out at any second? That’s exactly how you will feel every second you play The Padre. The game is a horror point n’ click, where you, a troubled Catholic priest, attempts to solve puzzles within a flashback. Survive being hunted by the mysterious figures lurking in the dark. The enemies span from a wide array of creepy villains such as Zombies, Ghosts, Spiders and even the recurring Demons. There are also a lot of references to other games, such as the Half-Life series and even the Legend of Zelda game’s iconic “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this”.

If that last bit sounded familiar to you, that would be because I had written a review for the Padre before while it was still in its alpha phase, but now the game has been released on steam so it’s time for a small update. If you would like to read about how the game plays, I recommend checking out my previous review found here, because this is more of an update on the game.

When I initially played the game I refused to go too far because I didn’t want to play a lot of it before the game came out completely, it is still in early access now but they are rapidly moving it towards completion. There are a few points of the game which seem a little odd, things like missing voice lines, words not meeting up with their subtitles, and even a couple of times your character will get stuck trying to move. But that doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of the game.

I spoke with one of the people making the game and asked a couple of questions:

What changes do you enjoy the most about moving from the Alpha version to the Early Access version?

This is a hard one because it is a flow of issues to me, I have tested a lot of different versions. But I guess I was able to add to the story, that’s what matters the most.

What changes are you looking forward to coming out of Early Access?

In Early Access I would like to improve combat and overall flow of the game as well as create more lore to discover.

The gameplay felt a lot like the alpha did, but there were small updates to the dialog and they had changed the voice actor all together for it. The parts I had already played seemed the same, but from others I have talked to there are more changes later in the game.

There are still some minor bugs being found in the game, but the staff works flawlessly to fix these mistakes as quickly as possible as well as to produce more content for the game. Although this is only meant as a “chapter one” sort of game, it still brings out a long and rich story that leaves you wanting more.

Green Reaper – Farm Manager 2018 Review

Name: Farm Manager 2018
Developer: Cleversan Software
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Release Date: 6 April 2018
Platform: PC (click here for the Steam link)

April seems like an appropriate time to launch a farming title, what with the first signs of life creeping back after winter, and the daylight being that much brighter, causing you to close the curtains so you can see your monitor properly during daytime gaming.

I must admit to being a fan of these kinds of no-frills gaming titles – with a name like Farm Manager 2018, there is really no room for misunderstanding. You know 90% of what you’re gonna get before you’ve even seen a demo video. And that’s exactly what you can expect.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the remaining 10% seems to comprise mostly of bugs – and I’m not talking about the kind that’ll come along and eat all of your crops in-game. But we’ll come onto that shortly…

Focusing on the positives, Farm Manager 2018 is a cracking little title, scratching that itch many gamers have had since the days of Harvest Moon, and more recently Terraria and Stardew Valley. Unlike those titles, Farm Manager 2018 takes a much more realistic approach, with none of the flights of fancy, magic, or even a cutesy setting to elevate it beyond a real-world simulation.

And to a great extent, it really works – if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. You get government grants for planting fields of a certain hectare size, hiring and training employees, and building certain expansions to your farm. You can play the market by holding onto products until their price rises, but this must be offset against their expiration date. And how can hire workers with different skills and abilities, such as providing a boost to harvest yields, extra stamina, or production bonuses.

It’s a lot of fun figuring out the supply chains for different products, as whether by design or oversight, Farm Manager 2018 doesn’t go out of its way to make that kind of information accessible.

For example, you can build bee hives to produce honey, but if you also plant the seeds of specific crops nearby, the bees are able to produce a more specialist, expensive honey. Planting cereals doesn’t gain much profit, but they will feed your livestock; but not all animals will eat the same kind of crop, and require a varied diet to stay healthy and avoid costly visits by the local vet.

It was in exploring that maze of tweaking and optimising different combinations of crops, produce and animals I had the most fun tinkering with while playing Farm Manager 2018. But, sadly, not all of the game is fun. The micromanagement in particular can be really hard work, especially once the farm reaches a certain size.

There’s a certain amount of automation that can occur – the “autofill” function is especially invaluable in automatically choosing the best available workers for the specific task you’re assigning – but after a certain point, the sheer volume of tasks can become overwhelming, and worse, tedious to navigate.

Inevitably, this is most evident in early spring and late autumn, when sowing and harvesting occurs. Seasonal workers can be hired on short-term contracts to assist with the overflow, and although there’s a certain thrill in successfully juggling dozens of tasks during peak time, after a few years it becomes quite monotonous.

The campaign does a decent job of showing a prospective farmer the ropes, and there’s a nice story hook of an ailing father passing on his farm to his offspring, along with an old school friend who shows up to give tool tips. But largely it feels like it needs more balance.

For example, one objective instructs you to buy a type of combine harvester, and the next one tells you to buy a more expensive harvester. If left to my own devices, I’d have just saved up and bought the more expensive one, instead of investing in an earlier model and losing half of the capital by selling it on straight away.

The pacing can be frustrating, too. The next objective tells you to harvest a field of wheat with your shiny new combine harvester, which I received in late autumn. Therefore it was nearly a full year of game time before I feasibly had any chance of completing this objective.

Frustratingly, the biggest fail hasn’t even got anything to do with the gameplay. It’s in the myriad of bugs that can quietly occur, and they are often so subtle that it’s difficult to spot them right away.

For example, in the spring of one year, I tasked a worker to go and plow a field with a tractor and the appropriate attachment. With it being spring, I was swept away issuing orders to other farmhands, and it was almost a week of in-game time later before I realised that the worker had bugged and had never actually gone to the tractor.

Worse, I then found that the field itself had bugged and that cancelling the job request left it in some weird limbo where the task wouldn’t complete, and I was unable to issue a new one. Most of these kinds of bugs are resolved by saving and restarting the game, however it’s really not ideal that a hard restart is required on a regular basis.

All that said, the developers are releasing almost daily patches and bug fixes, and so before long you should expect to see a fully functioning version of Farm Manager 2018 – the kind you really would’ve hoped to see on launch day.

There seems to be only a single plucky yet eventually repetitive piece of background music, but the game’s graphics are really quite pleasant and – one would imagine – realistic when compared to the source material. There are some dodgy animations – the bale trailer comes to mind – but largely it looks great watching all of your hired hands busy themselves in every corner of your farm.

Despite some teething issues, Farm Manager 2018 delivers exactly what it promises, and with a plethora of bug fixes, and maybe some UI overhauls, it’ll be a solid title for fans of farms and management sims. Maybe just let it flower before picking it up.

Sneak Preview – Hitchhiker

Tl;dr You’ll never forget your first ride.

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Hitchhiker is one of those games that draws you in right away, and takes you for a ride, literally. Every playthrough is a little different, with you remembering different information, or noticing something you may have missed the drive before. Although the game is in its very early forms, you can only play the first ride right now, it is 100% worth it. Not to mention, you should be able to get it free through Humble Bundle. No matter how you get this game, you’ll never forget your first ride.

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The atmosphere of Hitchhiker takes you to a place of Morgan Freeman-like voice actors, with such character and strength. I feel as if all games had the same voice acting, as the farmer who is narrating the ride, it’d be a whole level of depth added. As he narrates through the endless farmlands in front of you, he controls the whole atmosphere of the game. From the nonsense small chat after picking up a hiker – to the almost crapping your pants when he tells you he has lied to you about something. Oh, and the scary part? Crows.

Crows are an interactive part of the story, and they add that “Children of the Corn” factor to the game. Well, that and obviously all the corn you’re driving through. If the creators of this game wanted too, they could very quickly turn this game into a survival horror game, or similar. The atmosphere is there, and I can’t wait to see what they do as they build the game further. One thing I really hope the developers add in future releases is a little more freedom. I feel like you’re a little restricted right now in the game due to the fact that if you run through it multiple times, its very easy to get the exact same dialog. The game is still in its infancy, so I’m sure this will be added onto in the future.

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Speaking of the future… “Memory’s a slippery thing.” Some of the quotes that come from the dialogue of this game are worth writing down, or putting on your website. “Just another raisin out of the box”. The overall theme of the game, about the many paths that we take, and the journey we are all can be very personal to a personal at any given point in the trip. Personally, spoiler alert, the end of the trip was the most meaningful of all the moments to me. I mean, there were quite a few times where I thought I was in the truck with an axe murderer, especially when I thought there was someone in the back seat and no one was there. However, when the bird described the path as many branches, and the road ahead was blocked because of our own doing, I could apply it to life. We build so many roadblocks and the only thing that is stopping us is us. I would ride again.

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Absolutely would ride again. Oh, and I did ride again. Since I know how I felt during the ride, I had to have someone else try. I had my younger sister hop on and try the game out. Mid-way through the ride she started asking if something was going to jump out at her, and if this game was going to be scary. I will say she laughed at all the jokes, and her adrenaline was up by the end of the show. Worthwhile, and worth the share. Check it out! (here)

P.S. Look for future articles about this game. I’ll be checking up on it periodically to see how it progresses.

Early Access Preview: Dragon of Legends

Dragon of Legends is a 2D action RPG, set in the mythical Viking inspired world called Manheimr. Inspired by some of the greatest works of Norse and Celtic literature, the game invites you to unravel the mystery surrounding Ragnarok and send Loki’s horde back to hell, in beautifully imagined environments.

As of the current build of the game, there are three playable classes to choose from. Ranger, Warrior and Wizard. Each has their own background, and it’s quite interesting to read how they differ from one another. Dragon of Legends allows you to create up to five characters and delete them at your will. It gives you wiggle room to experiment with all three classes if you can’t decide on just one.

I created two characters to play around with, a Warrior and an Archer. I prefer melee combat to ranged, the thrill of getting up close and personal with things that can kill you, never gets old. No matter which class you choose, the game gives you free rein to build your character. Levelling up earns you points, which can be spent on character traits, strength or dexterity for example, or on skills. Skills in the game are separated into ‘Expertise’ and ‘Aptitude’.

Expertise, are skills you can use in combat, bound to hotkeys like the spacebar, left mouse button, and so on. Aptitude doubles as passive skills, giving you choices such as having a higher damage per hit, or a stronger defense.

The game combat needs more work before it can be enjoyable. Despite having a plethora of skills, there is a fair bit of levelling up to do before you can use them. With just basic attacks, fighting enemies gave me too much grief. If you spent all your points on attack and not defense, you’d die ridiculously quickly. Wolves and boars make quick work of you no matter which class you play. It’s a torturous cycle. You need to kill enemies to level up, but you’d usually die before you can kill them.

Something that comes with the territory of being an early access game, is the bugs. Dragon of Legends has some forgivable ones, but there are a few that really kill the experience. The first was starting up the game and being unable to select my character no matter how much I clicked. Closing the window and starting it again usually solves this.

The second most annoying bug was having a quest reset after I died. I’m not sure if this is a bug, but it certainly feels like one. There’s no merit to having a quest reset each time your character gets sent to Valhalla. For example, I need to kill five boars and five wolves. But it reverts to zero after dying. I don’t mind grinding in games, but I just feel cheated if it’s implemented like this.

The game has a lot of potential in its story and setting. The pixel art graphics is eye-catching and unique. Dragon of Legends offers some substantial content, but improvements need to be made before I can heartily recommend this game.

The Name Says it All – Planetary Annihilation: Titans Review

THUD! THUD! THUD! DUN! DUN! DUN! Give it up for the great intro music, and amazing game play scenery in the introduction! If you watch the whole thing it is a bit long, but every second is worth it. It is satisfying when a games introduction, music, and cinematic all tie together to get you in the mood to play that genre. Not only when all of the intro is finished, but when you’re in the intro screen it should continue to have perfect, on point sound. This game is one of the first games I’ve played in a long time where I didn’t have to immediately adjust the sound, or the like. It was perfect, and I’m not someone who usually focuses on the audio quality. I usually care more about details like graphics, storyline, and gameplay. However, I’ve been captivated. Quick, someone save me, hours of my life are about to melt away.

Like most games, you want to get into the action and start playing. So, what I did is just that. I knew I wasn’t ready for multiplayer and I headed towards single player and clicked the first option I saw available. It offered me a tutorial, and how could I refuse? “Tutorial Initiated”. This is how my world conquering began! After the first level of the tutorial I was a murderer, a destroyer, a conqueror, all in a giant robot. I knew I’d have to watch out though, Optimus Prime was out there. By the second tutorial I was again a conqueror, but this time starting with nothing and extracting the resources and building the army from scratch. I was reminded of games of my childhood. Like Command & Conquer. More pylons needed. Yuri is master.

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Depth, I was realizing very quickly how much depth their was to this game. Not only were you just attacking other players and killing their commanders, you were also conquering planets, and their starsystems. Searching them for new technologies, then using these technologies to conquer the universe! I mean, well one solar system at a time, and sometimes using moons as large rockets. Who’s counting? I’m just here to win! Oh, and yeah I was an hour into the tutorial and hadn’t even made a dent into the actual game yet, but I was enjoying myself. This tutorial was put together excellently. It puts just enough details in voice, visuals, and text that anyone can figure out this game. Its complicated, but it’s just like any old RTS you’d play. How did it differentiate?

Besides the space conquering, the planetary destruction, and all the things in between, the game takes you for a ride. It combines unique elements of all the different thing you would like in an RTS. A ton of units on the field crushing your enemies, while advancing through claiming systems, and leveraging both slow and fast play. Honestly, without ruining too much of the fun, I’d suggest trying this game now yourself. If you enjoy getting spoilers, continue reading!

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I joined my first annihilate them campaign and I was excited. I instantly figured out that I could collect technologies ahead of time by exploring non-occupied planets, which would help me in my battle. It was clear that technologies mattered because they decided the majority of the things that I could build. Next, I found all my paths blocked by rivals and soon I was fighting on the Death Star. Extracting resources is a haul, this must have been long after the Jedis fought here. In the present, the galaxy was found? This is when I noticed that the tutorial speed was increased to teach the player how to play the game, the game is set at the same speed of other RTS games. Where it takes time to build troops and extract resources. Which is good! Gives time for exciting strategies.

After losing myself in the game for several hours, I realized I could write a review no more! There is so much to explore, and enjoy in this game. For those who enjoy RTS, this is a must have.

The Most Depressing Thing About They Are Billions Isn’t The Zombies

In the bleak, far future of They Are Billions, humanity has mostly fallen to an endless wave of billions of zombies. Your plucky group of colonists has ventured to the frontier to try and carve a new settlement among the sea of hungry, animated corpses. At any moment, they could break through the perimeter and destroy everything you and your community have worked to create.

But despite the constant threat of undead destruction, the most depressing thing about They Are Billions isn’t the zombies – it’s that so far along the destruction of humanity itself, capitalism has still survived.

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One of the primary (and probably the most important) resources of the game is gold – with it you pay for building maintenance, research upgrades and pay wages. More citizens in your colony means more coin you can raise by tax to pay for all of that good stuff.

How depressing is the thought that after everything else about humanity has been stripped away, all that’s left is to go to work, pay your taxes and hope you don’t get munched on by the billions of zombies on the other side of the city walls? I can do two out of three of those right now!

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I mean, what could the denizens of this post-apocalyptic steampunk world possibly be doing with all of that cash? It looks like art galleries, organised sport, nail salons and cinemas all took a major hit when the zombies attacked.

Judging by the soundbites of the military units, the Soldiers spend all of their spare time in their bunk “cleaning their weapon”, while the Rangers spend every evening lost in erotic bliss, almost too tired to perform their duties the next day. I don’t even want to know what the flame-loving Lucifer does during his time off.

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Thanos seems like he’d be fun on a night out, but there’s not even anywhere to go and get a drink. Unless you count the Tavern of Doom that pops up on Google Maps near your new colony. The place is under new management, and the locals seem a bit feisty, but it might be worth a look, it says that they’re offering a new menu.

Maybe you could mount a few strobe lights on the city walls, blast out some Kraftwerk and pretend you’re at a rave. All of those vacant faces waiting to get in to a venue remind me of a few nights out.

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Even the scientists are at it, sitting in their workshops on the edge of extinction with the rest of humanity, holding the essential secrets of sustaining human life – but not without a paycheck first, of course. Next, the government will be increasing tuition fees to try and plug the gap budget cuts make in grant funding.

But it’s not all bad out on the ragged edge. At least there’s still a democratic process, with periodically elected mayors granting bonuses to your colony with big promises and boons granted to them by private industry, like extra buildings, free technology or bonus troops. Almost a bit like a bribe. So, actually, pretty much like it is now.

Maybe life won’t be so different once the zombie apocalypse hits after all – get a house, get a job, pay your taxes and vote for the lesser of two evils. The only real difference is you’ll literally be eaten alive at the end.

Check out EnomView’s review of the excellent, ruthlessly challenging zombie RTS They Are Billions by clicking right here, and check out the game on Steam.

A Vibrant, Fairy-Tale Universe – Stories: The Path of Destinies Review

Stories: Path of Destinies is set in a vibrant, fairy-tale universe, where you follow the ex-pirate and unintentional hero, Reynardo the Fox, on his journey to save the Kingdom from the Mad King. The game features charming, hand-drawn illustrations, a colourful storybook aesthetic, and a unique choice-based narrative in which players explore different storylines to find the path to victory.

This game is what I’d consider a hidden gem. It seems to have been forgotten in the annals of time, a damn shame considering how much fun I’ve had with it. It isn’t perfect, with an equal amount of cons to balance the pros, but it puts a unique spin adventure RPGs.

I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the story, and the large variety of choices offered to the player. After the opening prologue, you can choose between a series of choices, to advance to the next chapter. There are four to five chapters to get through, to get an ending.

Some decisions are obvious in their morality but others, less so. I wasn’t expecting a gut-wrenching tale, but there are moments where your bad choices culminate in a truly twisted ending. The anthropomorphic characters eradicate any sense of realism, but it plays in the game’s favor because unexpected twists feel more impactful as a result.

Your decisions have consequences, and you can choose to follow up your actions in the previous chapter, or deviate entirely. This flexibility allows for varied endings, keeping me on my toes even after my first playthrough.

The game has a total of twenty-four endings. This might sound like a nightmare, but only four are required to unlock the True End. I won’t spoil them for you, but they are easy to figure out after finishing the game once. These endings are centred on important characters, and objects, in the game.

I have mixed feelings about the gameplay. Fighting enemies is little more than button mashing, and though you have an upgradable skill tree, the skills aren’t very useful. Enemies die quicker as you level up, but the button mashing remains a constant. An interesting mechanic is the ability to impale your enemies with your sword and throw them off the platform, which eases the repetitive combat.

The combat isn’t terrible, but considering you need more than one playthrough to finish the story, it can get tiring. Level design is mostly linear, with alternate paths that can be unlocked by different swords. You craft these swords by collecting ores you find in treasure chests. Thankfully, the game isn’t stingy on that front. Gathering materials is easy enough and gave me an incentive to explore every nook and cranny of each level.

The narration is a thing of art. The funny, sarcastic, wall-breaking comments livens up an otherwise mediocre game. The disembodied voice never feels overbearing. He’s an integral part of the story, narrating the dialogue of every character with flair and enthusiasm. If the story takes a turn for the dark, the narrator changes tack and matches how he speaks to the urgency of the situation.

He even has quips ready while Reynardo is engaged in combat! I often felt like I was being cheered on by a friend who was watching me play, making for a fun experience. If you know any dissenters who think voice acting isn’t important, just whip out Stories: Path of Destinies.

For anyone who wants a good RPG, with multiple endings and a well-written story, you can’t go wrong with this game. It might rough around the edges, but it’s definitely worth a buy.

Virtual Reality Ninja Shenanigans – Sairento VR Review

Virtual reality shooters come in all shapes and sizes, from zombie wave shooters to gun ranges to multiplayer army simulators, but when comparing these to traditional shooters they seem to lack a certain craziness older non-VR games had. Don’t get me wrong, many of these virtual reality games boast an impressive array of good quality and polish, but in the end, they tend to play it safe to stay clear of virtual reality’s biggest enemy: motion sickness. Sairento VR breaks the mold in this regard so hold onto your seats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sairento VR is a first-person virtual reality shooter developed by Mixed Realms. It’s currently available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You don the mask of one of the silent ones, an enigmatic organization trained in the ancient arts of martial arts and fighting techniques of the ancient samurai and ninja. To put it into layman’s terms: You are a badass cyber ninja killing machine, and it’s a hoot!

The thing that makes this game such a blast to play is the unique locomotive system. The basic controls aren’t all that different from other VR shooters such as Robo Recall, you hold a button, point to a location and let go. Voila! You’ve teleported. This is a common locomotion system among VR games because it helps fend off the effects of motion sickness (or as I like to call it: the VR buzzkiller). Mixed Realms seems intent on wiping its bum with this notion, however, because if you angle your neat little teleport ray up you’ll soar through the sky in a massive leap, preferable whilst raining death upon your enemies. Using the motion system takes up a regenerating resource called ‘focus’, another use for focus is briefly slowing down time so you can feel like Neo in the Matrix. You have the option to turn on a full body model so you can see your legs and elbows move while doing all this. It feels just right.

Besides jumping through the air, you can also use this system to backflip off of walls or do wall runs. If you bend your knees before landing a jump you will slide across the floor, decapitating enemies as you go if you choose to hold your katana out to the side. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to perform these feats of athleticism as other games seem so hellbent on tethering you to the ground. While this locomotion system is rather intense, the motion sickness it incurs really isn’t as bad as you would think. The developers laboriously tested and tweaked the systems to make sure the levels of intensity are always manageable. I personally don’t experience motion sickness all that often, and Sairento VR didn’t trigger it either. A remarkable feat seeing as I was soaring through the sky, jumping into an unsuspecting enemy with my katana in hand.

And that brings is to the weapons in this game. Although I dubbed this game a ‘first person shooter’, ‘action game’ might actually be a better term for it. The game boasts a selection of katanas, handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, throwing weapons and even a bow. All of these weapons are usable in the sky and during wall runs which makes for a pretty great experience. Unfortunately, most of these categories only contain about three weapons, I would really have liked to see more. Shotguns and assault rifles also aren’t that fun to use, so I pretty much stuck with the basic setup of dual-wielding pistols at my hip, a stronger pistol on my bum and dual wielding katanas behind my back, occasionally switching out a sword for a throwing star or bow.

Swordplay is also lackluster. The slightest movement of your wrist will whip your sword around doing major damage. Even just turning around will often make your katana clip through an enemy. It doesn’t feel like you deserve most of your sword kill, and it lacks the weight of combat that games such as Gorn have. A redeeming quality of the weapon selection is the option to infuse your weapons with various relics. During missions enemies can drop ammo, currency and relics. Relics basically serve as upgrades for your weapons increasing their fire rate, damage, headshot efficiency and many other things. Relics of a higher rarity can even give weapons special effects, I especially enjoyed the ability to make my throwing stars explode on impact. These RPG elements are a neat addition, although I would have liked to see them fleshed out a bit.

You start the game from a central control room where you can select random missions, the campaign or multiplayer. I haven’t been able to get into multiplayer so I can’t give an impression of this. I started out doing a few missions but quickly found that the map selection is rather limited. Missions got repetitive quickly so I tried my hand at the campaign. The campaign is basically a set of missions with tacked on dialogue. Seeing as the combat itself is just so darn good it’s disappointing to see that the campaign didn’t manage to hold my attention for long. Coupled with the limited map selection this put a serious damper on my experience.

Things go south even further if you consider the technical difficulties the game has. The graphics aren’t bad, but they are generally unimpressive, it’s also very easy to teleport yourself through a wall of floor, forcing yourself to reset your position to the beginning of the map. Sometimes my character would get her arm stuck behind her back, warping her arm length so one was shorter than the other. These are also a number of general bugs which I won’t go into. It’s such a shame, because the fun factor is so damn high! Despite all of these issues I still played this game for hours on end. It’s the kind of title where you make your own fun. Crank up the difficulty, pick up some creative weapons and you’ll be sure to have a great time! Just don’t expect the same amount of polish as something like Robo Recall.