Five weeks, Five games

Mini-reviews from Stroggo's backlog

John (stroggo)

11 May 2017

So many Games so little time!

Bloody hell it's been quiet around here lately, for those of you who are still with us thanks for sticking around! I'm not sure what depraved activities the others have been up to but I've been ploughing through my very veeeeeeeeery long backlog of games and I thought I'd tell yall what I thought (because that's just what you need, another internet rando's opinion). Now there is a bit of a disclaimer, these are all games I've wanted to play, so please keep that in mind before you start firing off that I'm I'm getting all sunshine and rainbows. Now that I'm done with the mild patronisation lets get started!

 

RESIDENT EVIL VII

resident evil 7Right out the gate, I had a crack at arguably the most interesting AAA release of the year. RE7 had some great promise with Capcom shaking things up after the horrendous last entry and the rather large gap left after the storm of butthurt from the Silent Hills implosion.

I'm going to be looking mostly at the plot on this one but if you're really hankering for a full picture, go check out Nicks far better review here! RE7 is your typical modern monster movie but wrapped in a Carpenter Gothic cardigan, you play as Ethan a 30 something block of wood who is looking for his missing wife Mia who vanished some years ago, our boy Ethe' manages to track her down to my least favorite state, where he proceeds to get sliced diced and beaten to a pulp by a family of regenerating hicks. The game had a fair number of tonal misfires at the beginning (chainsaw scene I'm looking at you) but it's not long before the plot settles down for the long haul as you slowly and spookily make your way through the various locations in blissful isolation. 

Unfortunately much like Ethan things go south very quick in the third act, what little intrigue Crapcom can muster goes out the window as you find yourself in another biotech lab, where you discover the creepy little girl is just another BOW, then you fight a giant monster and Chris Redfield shows up and aawawwwretfjhgklJKHSFDGKJ!!! Don't get me wrong RE7 is one of the best in series as well as the genre, just don't expect it to be the next Silent Hill 2 or anything.

Cons
-Waaay to easy on PC
-Key hunting
-Fucking Mia
-Just another Resident Evil

Pros
+Cool Setting
+Neat puzzles
+Fun Villains
+You can kill Mia

 

 

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls 3Another year another Dark Souls, am I rite? Well if you count Bloodborne the busy bees over at From Software have been pumping them out one helluva pace the last few years. Dark Souls 3 is a wee bit of a standout because it's the last bloody one, that said it's always awesome to see a dev really put their foot down about something as big as ending BandiNamco's venerable cash cow. From said that the final entry would be special it'd be the best of the best taking all the lessons they learned from past souls games (BB included) and roll it into one comfy package, so how does it do? Pretty bloody good is the answer, It's not quite the behemoth that Souls 1 was but I doubt any game will ever capture that strike of lightning again. 

As for the gameplay - gone is DS2's ever shortening health meter (an interesting experiment to put it lightly) instead we get the good old health bar of yore and finally a proper mana bar. This means that instead of a fun distraction magic can be taken a little more seriously this time around, the combat is the cleanest it's ever been with tight hitboxes and razor sharp timing being the king mechanics. 

The pace of DS3 is a lot faster than previous entries combat places an emphasis on hitting fast and first (likely brought over from BB). And in terms of playtime this is the shortest of the series, it's not for lack of content but the sheer speed that you can belt through the main campaign, this may be due to the aforementioned mechanics, or I may be getting quite adept at getting my arse reamed after all these years, who knows. At the end of the day, Dark Souls 3 is just that more Dark Souls, and that's hardly a bad thing now is it?

Cons
- A little too short for veterans
- Literal Copy-Paste plot
- Very linear
- A bit plain

Pros
+ Mad nostalgia bait
+ Pulls no punches
+ Buttery smooth port
+ Plays like what it is, a beautiful refinement

 

Night In The Woods

Night in the WoodsAhhh good old indies, giving us something nice and left field and that isn't a bloody sequel! Night in the Woods is a narrative-heavy "adventure" game by the fella who brought us Aquaria (and some friends too). Night in the Woods has you playing as Mae a literal cat girl who has dropped out of university and come back to her hometown of Possum Springs to try and figure out her life out. The game is presented as a 2d platformer with a cute-neato art style (that in no way is there to lull you just before things start going all dark and Lovecraftian) most of the game involves Mae wandering around town reflecting on what's changed and catching up with old friends. For a game like this though there's very little reason to give the gameplay a second glance, I mean it could be as bad someone sharting on your pillow and you honestly wouldn't give a toss. So why would you play Night in the Woods, well you'd play it to have your pants charmed off. Mae Starts out her story as a terrible person, (and without getting all spoilery - still is at the end) this makes her a perfect canvas for the various meet and greet's you have around Possum Springs and rather scattergun daily tasks you can undertake. The dialogue never feels strained or padded and each of the towns residents are well rounded and dripping with character. Night in the Woods was an absolute joy, with pitch-perfect execution and is a must-play for any adventure fan.

Cons
- Plenty to miss 1st and 2nd time round but not enough for a third playthrough
- That rhythm game can piss off
- You will want to finish it in one sitting
- Dear fuck that ending!

Pros
+ Kidnaps you after the first hour
+ Witty funny writing
+ Heartbreaking at times too
+ Engrossing
+ Crimes man, crimes

 

 

Deadly Premonition

Deadly PremonitionGood fucking gravy where do I begin! What if I told you some crazy fella had decided to mix GTA, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil 4 into a Magimix with half a key of cocaine and the complete Twin Peaks box collection. Because that's what Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro did with this trainwreck, but don't get me wrong as terrible as it sounds Deadly Premonition might just be the best worst game I've ever played! Everything about this game is off, the graphics, the animation, the music, and oh god the dialogue! I'm often heard beating up on the Resident Evil series because the characters never speak like real humans instead they come off as weird doppelgangers, well Deadly Premonition goes one step further into the uncanny valley with some truly bizarre shit. It's not the voice acting that's the issue (it's actually pretty solid) it's what they're saying that does it, take this example:
"The killer was passionate, are you passionate George?"
"Yes"
"I am passionate"
"I'm especially passionate about women"
"..."
"Yes"
But it doesn't end there, the graphics are muddy, the controls feel dull yet oversensitive, and if you're running it on PC get ready to bust out a fan patch or ten if you want to get past the first half hour. So why am I giving this game a savage beating? Because I absolutely love it! I have no idea how but everything just seems to work, Deadly Premonition is a sum of its parts (it's terrible, terrible parts) and takes what should be an unmemorable dud and spins it into an enthralling little package. What starts as a goofy murder mystery manages to get quite dark towards the end and it's in the last third that the game really starts showing how clever it is. I won't spoil any of the good stuff but if you're looking to get it for fuck sake get the 360 version.

Cons
- Bland washed out visuals
- Crap controls
- Handles like a dying animal
- Unfinishable without fan patches

Pros
+ Intriguing plot
+ Quirky open world
+ Insane cast
+ Pretty funny (even if unintentional)

 

 

Vagrant Story

vagrant storyI've been meaning to play this one for a very long time, I'd managed to keep myself relatively distant from most details so I could go in completely blind and shit I'm glad I did. Vagrant Story is a title from Squaresoft's golden age, this explosion at the end of the 90's gave us such greats as Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 9, Parasite Eve, and Front Mission as a result Vagrant Story plays and feels like no other game before or since. At it's heart Vagrant Story is a is a game about curses, or more specifically sin, how it's passed from generation to generation how one can revel in it as a source of power, and how it ultimately defines you more than any other virtue. This single idea is carried into every part of the game, the music, the art, even the gameplay has you embracing past mistakes to further your own goals. For me the most striking part of the game was it's setting, the ruined city of Leá Monde is barren, beautiful, and ripe with decay, it's unsettling nature slowly closing and choking you, Square definitely nailed the 'ruined world' setting a good decade before From Software did. If I had to recommend just one game from this list Vagrant Story would be the one, it's far from flawless but it's easily one of Square's greatest. Now, why the fuck are we getting a Final Fantasy VII remake and not this!?

Cons
- Cant escape the grind (It is a JRPG after all)
- It's not just a game you can just 'pick up'
- Some minor plot holes
- There isn't more of it

Pros
+ Captivating plot
+ Beautiful soundtrack
+ Haunting setting
+ Ending that will give you chills

 

And that's all she wrote everyone, that was 5 memorable and enjoyable games! Don't know what else to say other than "moral of the story, don't let your backlog build up otherwise you'll have to pump out a heap of mini reviews at 2:00 AM!"