Reviews by Mandemon
Is it a game or an digital installation?Mandemon | March 5, 2014 | Review of Dear Esther
This "game", yes in quotes, is quite divisive. To some, it's a masterwork, a true show that the video games can be "art".
On the other hand, there are cases like me, who look at this program and say "This is not a game. It's a digital installation." The program is quite similar to art installations, except it's digital. The game has no goal really, you just walk around, listening to narrator talking whenever you find something that triggers a voice clip.
Some people feel. Some, like me, do not.
Graphics wise the game looks good and that is pretty much all you can say. It's pretty. That is something everyone can agree on.
However, despite not really offering anything, it did give us something great. It opened the door to games like Stanley Parable and Gone Home. As such, this program works better as a piece of history, a milestone, than something to enjoy. As a game, as an entertainment value, well, I gave you two games. Check those out. I can only recommend this program as a piece of history.
An old but good gameMandemon | March 5, 2014 | Review of Raptor: Call of the Shadows
Ah, Raptor. I remember having this while I was a kid.
The game play is relatively simply. You fly a plane, moving from down to up, shooting everything you see and trying to dodge the enemy fire. At the end of the level, there is a boss. Nothing major here.
Between missions, you can buy equipment from the shop and repair your plane, if needed. You can also find weapons on the missions, thus saving your money. Here is a hint: Don't buy anything early, you are bound to find a missile weapon in the Sector 1-1
Missions are divided into three Sectors, each one more difficult than the other. Interestingly, player can freely switch between sectors, but the missions need to be played in order.
Game offers great challenge, especially once you learn certain mechanics. One thing to really know, is that if your health drops to low levels, you lose all your weapons. This can sometimes make missions that "win" actually fail, as you don't have money to reequip yourself and you don't have any weapons beyond your standard cannon to use.
Graphics wise, the game looks "retro", ignoring the fact that this game was made at the time when such graphics were considered great. Still, the graphics style has it's own charm and despite it's age, the game looks great.
If you can afford to throw in five bucks, the game offers great fun.
Fun in short burst, but does not hold for a longer plays.Mandemon | Feb. 21, 2014 | Review of Dwarfs!?
Dwarfs!? is one of those games where you are expected to lose and goal is not so much to achieve success, but to try to survive as long as you can.
Game does have single player campaign, but I never could get myself into it. I always preferred the time challenges, where your job is to survive pre-determined time. At the end, your score is tallied.
Game is played from top down and you have no control over your dwarfs. They go ahead and do their own thing, no matter how stupid or suicidal it is. This is actually not a bad thing, as the game is build around this. You can direct your dwarfs to a degree, by creating paths they can follow or building outpost for your military dwarfs to guard.
However, that is largely where your control ends.
You start in the map, with only your town hall and few diggers. Every few seconds, your town hall spawns a new digger, who head out to dig. At first, this is not bad, but as the time goes and more and more diggers work in all direction, it soon becomes a race to react to one disaster after another.
The map is populated with minerals of varying value and caves. Now caves can contain one of five things: Water, Lava, Enemies, Bosses or Treasure. Each one has it's own reaction to deal. You can solidify the land, making your dwarfs not to dig it, but this is expensive and can't be reverse. You can also build walls to block of Water or Lava, though Lava will burn through it and will require more permanent solution. Enemies need you to send soldiers to deal with them.
The game becomes more and more difficult as the time goes, as the caves and dwarfs become more and more unmanageable. For a few precious seconds, you can stop the time and try to fix any issues you encounter, such as build walls to hold back Lava until you can create a hole for it to fall into.
Sounds are OK, nothing amazing, but they do they work and do not annoy the player. Simon, of Yogcast fame, provides narration for the tutorial.
Graphics wise, the game is pretty simple, but the art work is nice and pleases the eye.
The game is available as a free-to-play version on Steam, which gives you access to time attack form with limited options. I suggest checking it out, since it serves as a demo before buying. If you like the game, buy it and support the devs! You get access to everything else with the purchase, including arcade and campaign.
All in all, a nice game you can play while waiting for something or jsut want to have a quick game. I would not recommend as a serious gaming experience, but something for fun.
Fun game with issuesMandemon | Feb. 3, 2014 | Review of Binary Domain
Binary Domain is one of these games that, while not bad, isn't quite there in "good" category. Yet, the gameplay is fun and it's hard to say exactly where it is so bad.
Biggest selling points of the game are trust system and voice commands. Trust system, while good idea, is however not fully realized. Depending on how much your squad trusts you, certain points in the story play out differently. However, yet comes down to agreeing with your team mates and being a very good at killing enemies. It does not really offer chance to roleplay.
Other is the voice command system. Personally, I never really used it, since more often than not it picked a wrong command from it and squad members seemed to be capable of handling their own.
Now, enemy variety is good and since all your enemies are robots, it offers nice tactical angle. Merely shooting out the legs of a robot does not mean it's out of combat, quite opposite, it will keep crawling towards you Terminator style. Blast of the robots hand? It will switch to other one. Destroyed it's head? It's now blindly attacking it's allies.
Squad AI, while not terrible, leaves something to wish for. Allies will run in front of you and then complain that you are shooting at them.
Visually, game is stunning. Game offers wide variety of environments to fight in and they look beautiful. However, voice acting is not quite there and is downright bad in some places.
Single player is relatively short, offering mere 9 hours of gameplay on medium difficult. However, in that 9 hours, you won't get bored. Environments, combat and action keeps changing. It is quite enjoyable.
Game offers some replayability with it's trust system and how it changes things here and there, but the basic story will remain the same. There are collectables you can collect, but I never really went out for them. They do offer some interesting bits of lore of the game, however.
Control wise, it's OK. I played with XBOX 360 controller, which felt OK but sluggish occasionally.
Ultimately, the game is fun shooter, but one should not go into it expecting too much. It's something different from all the other shooters and will entertain you for at least one playthrough, but can't guarantee more than one.
What we call a troll gameMandemon | Jan. 30, 2014 | Review of Magicka
Magicka is one of those games you want to have friends for. Trust me on this one, I have tried it both single player and multiplayer and it's the multiplayer where the game shines.
Each player takes control of one wizard. Players cast spells by combining 8 different elements together. The results of these elements vary, based on how many elements player uses and in what order.
What makes the multiplayer fun is the total lack of friendly fireproof option. Each and every spell is very likely to end up killing you or your friends. Half of the fun is just seeing what sort of insane combinations you or your friends come up with and how they backfire on you. This is often followed by quick revive spell that allows players to bring dead players back to alive.
Game might not be most beautiful, per technical standpoints, but it does it's work. It's not ugly and the graphics have their charm.
The game is also stock full of humor, Discworld style.
However, be warned ye buyer: The game is buggy. It can crash randomly and me and my friends usually have to fight the game few times before we can get into the game proper.
However, if you are looking for some co-op multiplayer fun, this the game for you.
Great gameMandemon | Jan. 30, 2014 | Review of Just Cause 2
The game is good fun. It offers a wide range of weapons to use, massive map to play around, varied environment and tons of missions to complete. Oh, and lets not forget the insane amount of collectibles that have been hidden.
You play as Rico Rodriguez, an agent of a governmental organization simply called The Agency. Your job is to destabilize small pacific island nation of Panau... so that you can install your own dictator. Yeah, it's one of those games without "good guys".
Despite starting to be somewhat old game, the game still looks great. However, on a downside, the game might not run well on some older systems. So word of warning there. You also need DirectX 10. This is a must, the game refuses to run without it.
Game is played from the third person view. Player has access to wide range of weapons, from pistols to rocket launchers to bubble blasters. However, you will soon find yourself mostly using the grapple launcher. This little thing allows Rico to jump around the place like a Spiderman, jump to vehicles, attach people to vehicles while he drives away or just pull people of the ledges.
Vehicle variety is also massive. You can find almost anything, from Tuk-Tuks to sports cars to military jets to air liner. Not only that, player can capture pretty much anything on spot, assuming the player manages to aim his grapple correctly.
Game offers great fun, with ability screw around. Recent addition of multiplayer mod only increases this fun, as now you have multiple players running around, all equally insane.
However, the game is not without it's flaws. First thing is, that the game can be too big, with lots of time spend trying to get from point A to point B. Stronghold missions can also get boringly systematic. Several places also have clone feel to them.
Yet, in the end, the game is great. It offers bang for your buck and guarantees you will want to return to it, even if you are just looking to screw around.
One of the best open-world RPGsMandemon | Dec. 12, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® Legendary Edition
Aaah Skyrim. How many hours did I sink into thee again? 140? And with official mod support three awesome DLCs, there is still tons of stuff to do.
Skyrim is an open world RPG, latest in the Elders Scrolls series. Player creates his character and is then told to do whatever he feels the best. Want to follow the main story line? Go ahead. Want to ignore that and rather go study magic? Sure. Magic not your thing, you want to end the Civil War and fight for the Imperium? Welcome to the Legion. Want to steal every bucket in the world and pile them outside Whiterun? ...Weird, but OK.
Backdrop of the game is that you are in a providence of The Empire called Skyrim, which is currently under a Civil War (or War for Independence or Rebellion depending who you ask in the game). Not only are locals killing each others, the dragons are returning. You are thrust into this world, to seek your own destiny.
Game looks GORGEOUS. Even when playing on lower setting, the world is just beautiful.
Storytelling vary from "forgettable" to "AWESOME!", so writing can feel little bit schizophrenic at the times, but considering the size of the world, it adds realism. Not every story is great ballad to be sung. Sometimes, a bandit to be killed is just that: A bandit to be killed.
Mods just add to the fun. The game is extremely open to modding, with official modding support AND modding tools. Modding community is active and mods range from "recolor your clothes" to "Change the entire world". Only imagination(and patience to program) is the limit.
Now, gameplay wise, it's two steps forward one step backwards from previous games. Although you will be missing all those stats, making it feel more like an action RPG, the character progression is much more meaningful and interesting that before. Stats have been reduces to three: Health, Mana and Stamina. Interestingly enough, this works well. You are not guessing or needing spreadsheets to figure out what each stat does, it's all clearly available.
Now, combat is something you might want to get a mod for. It feels floaty and lacking in strategy, as in you are just swinging your weapon hoping to hit your enemy.
Biggest problem the game has, are the bugs. It's a Bethesda game, so I strongly recommend to head out to Skyrim Nexus and get yourself unofficial patch to fix the worst. Although it has gotten better overtime, the game still has several bigs that can ruin your game if you don't save often.
All in all, a great game for anyone who wants freedom to do what he wants.
Superheroes to rescue!Mandemon | Dec. 9, 2013 | Review of Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich
Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich is a sequel to the original Freedom Force and is quite similar to it. It is a tactical RPG, you lead your group of heroes through a series of mission and try to use their skill to their best extend.
Graphics wise, the game is weird mix of "dated" and "stylized". It's stylized so that it's not a bad game to look at, but you can clearly see it's an old game at the same time.
Gameplay is real time tactics. You have one to four heroes in your team, each with different abilities. You can also make your own heroes. These heroes are, in general, expies of other comic book heroes.
Story is a cliche fest. However, for this game, it works. This mainly due to game acting as if it was Silver Age superhero game, with all the cheese, ham and weird science.
Game has it's problems, it has weird difficult curve. One mission, you are beating everything and in the next, you are restarting for the 10th time.
You don't need to play the original game to enjoy this, I certainly didn't, but if you haven't then the plot near the end might become confusing.
Still, for it's price, it is a good fun.
A great addition to Fallout franchiseMandemon | Dec. 9, 2013 | Review of Fallout: New Vegas
Having played both Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, but skipping Fallout 3, I was little bit skeptical about Fallout: New Vegas. I was happy to find that I was wrong and the game feels very much like a Fallout game.
Mojave Desert looks great and the radio really adds atmosphere, the old 50's song playing really give the vibe of "World that stopped".
Story is interesting and offers many branches and not only to main story, but also to numerous side stories. There are is much variation that you find yourself replaying this game again and again. Characters range from forgettable to people you want to tell to your friends.
Game world is large and open right away, but player will soon notice that unless you are prepared, you are not welcome in certain parts. Game will nudge you towards certain path, but if you wish to go off the rails, it does not stop you from doing so.
I would strongly suggest players getting all the major DLCs, as their stories are great and range from bittersweet to funny to scary.
However, the game is not without it's flaws. The combat feels less skill based and more on how good FPS shooter you are. Also, naturally to Bethesda released game, it is also filled with bugs. I would suggest getting some mods to fix these problems.
Overall, the game is great addition to Fallout franchise. You don't need to be a fan of Fallout to enjoy the game, but it helps.
Expansion that is a must-haveMandemon | Dec. 9, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Within
Enemy Within greatly expands the base game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and is must have to all those who loved XCOM: EU.
The expansion adds a new resource the player can collect: Meld. Meld is physically on the battlefield, much like UFO Power Sources and UFO Navigation Computers. However, Meld have timers just like bombs during Bomb Disposal missions. If player takes too long, he loses the Meld.
This adds entire new element to tactical combat: Is the rewards of getting Meld greater than the risks it pose? Speed is the key, but speed brings risks. Player needs to decide what he values more: resources or his soldiers?
On the strategic layer, player gets lots of new toys, foundry and research projects to study as well as two new base facilities: Cybernetics and Gene Labs. These two are used to apply Meld on your soldiers, either creating mechanically augmented MEC troopers or genetically modify existing soldiers.
MEC troopers carry heavy weapons, can punch aliens through walls and do other numerous tricks. They also get their own skill tree, as well as their suits have their own upgrade paths.
Gene-modded soldiers are less expensive per-mod. However, they do not receive as drastic changes as MEC troopers can get. Gene-modded soldiers gain other skills, such as ability to jump to roofs or blend into surroundings. There are five gene-slots, each with two options, but only one option can be used at the time. Genemods can be swapped, if player so desires, but this cost time, money and meld.
Enemy Within also introduces new enemies. Aliens receive two new units: A Mectoid, is which alien version of MEC trooper. Other new unit is Seeker, a flying robotic squid that can(and will) turn invisible and hunts down isolated soldiers.
However, greatest enemy additions comes in form of EXALT. This shadowy, Illuminati type organization has it's own goals regarding aliens and will sabotage XCOM efforts. EXALT bring eight new units to the table. These units are similar to XCOMs units, Heavy, Medic, Sniper and Operative. These units also have Elite versions, with gene-mods that Dr. Vahlen would not suggest using.
Dealing with EXALT is very different from Aliens. Where as player responds to aliens when he can, player actively seeks out EXALT. When EXALT cell is exposed, either by player initiating a scan or by EXALT managing to sabotage XCOM efforts, player can send covert operatives to infiltrate the cell.
Fighting EXALT is very different from aliens. EXALT might be lacking in tech, but they compensate this with sheer numbers. EXALT is not afraid to lose it's members and will aggressively pursue it's objectives on the battlefield.
Eventually, player can locate and destroy EXALT HQ, ending this threat... for now.
Other new additions Enemy Within brings are numerous bug fixes, improvements to AI, five new Second Wave options, 40 new maps and a new mini-story arc called Progeny. Player can also have soldiers speak their native language, or at least those that the game have been localized on.
Greatest flaw in the expansion is that it does not really add new campaign, merely adds to existing one and that the final mission has remained the same. However, these flaws are small compared to all the goods things that the expansion brings.
Great grand strategyMandemon | July 25, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II
Games like this do not really exist. It's Role-Playing Game and Grand Strategy Game rolled all in one, with dash of Sims in. Sounds like a recipe for a disaster, but somehow Paradox has managed to create an awesome mix.
Game has great amount of details in it and it can sometimes be confusing, but overall, game is easy to get in. Even after player fails, he will go "So THAT'S how it works", rather than "THIS IS BS!" which is always good.
Graphics wise, the game is nothing big. Most of the time, player won't even look at the beautifully rendered map, but rather a color map showing counties, religions, nations, dynasties etc. However, this is good in sense that the game won't be GPU intense.
Now, major downside for the game is that it does not really shine without all the major DLCs, these being Sword of Islam, The Republic and The Old Gods which make the entire map (sans theocracies) playable. There are also lots of optional graphics and music DLCs, which while not vital, are kinda immersion important.
Game is very addicting. You can find yourself pouring hundreds of ours trying to build eternal dynasty and while technically succeeding, finding that the branch of the dynasty you were playing has lost all it's power. Game also offers, thanks to it's random nature, some of the best laughs that rise from the game.
Such as British Isles, belonging to Egypt or some minor duke rising to control of massive empire.
Game is good and great introduction to Paradox style grand strategy games. It focus on smaller portion, but offers the same scale as their other tittles.
Very weird game.Mandemon | May 11, 2013 | Review of The Binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac is a weird game. It is both charming and gross. The art style is relatively simple, yet manages to convey a lot.
The gameplay itself is rogue-like, with randomly generated levels and perma-death. Death forces you to restart the game. Levels themselves operate similarly to the first Zelda games dungeons, in fact, the entire game seems like one.
Numerous power-ups can be found and applies and here is where the randomness can hurt the player. Sometimes, the game showers the player with all kinds of power-ups, making the game very easy. Yet, other times, it teases player by showing obvious "secret" location, but denies player access because the level or previous ones lack certain items needed to access the secret area.
On the other hand, random(technically pseudo-random) map generation also keeps the each playthrough interesting and unique.
The games story is rather weird, just like the game itself and is not really told traditionally. Rather, you are shown flashes of the story and player needs to try to figure out what they mean.
In the end, game is very good, the controls are precise, the gameplay is interesting and the map generation is generally very good. Recommended.
A fun little gameMandemon | May 11, 2013 | Review of DLC Quest
A game is nice jab at modern "Sell the game in pieces" mentality, seen too often. Graphics are rather charming, reming of 32-bit graphics with 8-bit style.
Game is not very long, perhaps an hour or two if you drag it by doing 100% completion. However, the price tag reflects this.
Games' controls are very good and precise. Personally, I played the game with a pad, as such I can not comment of keyboard controls, but with a gamepad the game feels good. Humor is little bit hit-or-miss, either you get a chuckle or you don't. Level design is little bit bland, it does not really offer anything special.
The main gameplay revolves around getting enough coins to buy for the DLCs that either speed up the gameplay or are essential for victory. However, it does feel little bit boring after a while, since the game lacks anything else, apart from casual murder of sheep. Once again, games length works for itself, since the shortness makes sure you do not quit the game because you grew too bored.
The game is very short and very cheap quick run. The price paid is something that feels more like supporting the makers, rather than making any profit. Still, game does feel like it should be a freeware game, rather than commercial due to it's size.
Excellent revival of the seriesMandemon | May 8, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown dns
Finally X-Com series has gained a worthy sequel. This game is a long waited modernization of the old classic and it does its job well.
Combat has been streamlined, but not dumbed down. 2 action system allowed room for tactical thinking and action, but does not bog down the gameplay. The action remains fast, yet forces the player to actually think about his actions. Numerous special abilities increase the range of possible tactics player can take, yet at the same time, limit the choices in a good fashion.
This, paradoxically, makes the game better. As the player is no longer able to do whatever he wants, but needs to choose from limited tools to solve wide variety of problems. This leads to different kinds of tactics, especially when your favorite solution is not available.
Graphics are nothing special, but they do their job. However, personally, I do not need big flashy graphics. Indeed, the games graphic style is something that will most likely stand the test of time longer than photo-realistic attempts.
Game presents player constantly with hard choices. Whenever it's where to use resources, where to intercept aliens, what technologies he should prioritize, what squad composition, there is always a trade off. Player is not able to just do everything, but must choose constantly what he considers most important. Yet, the game does not offer these in binary either/or format, but as a natural part of the economy. Resources are finite and there simply isn't enough for everything.
There is nice variety of aliens and each of them acts differently. Their own special abilities make sure that no encounter plays the same. AI is pretty smart and most importantly, does not cheat.
Game is not without flaws, however. It still has lots of graphical glitches. Games difficult curve rises fast, but after reaching it's peak, drops fast. Geoscape portion of the game would need more content on itself, as it's present form, it's too easy to "win".
Maps are all handmade and do present nice variety, each requiring it's own tactics. However, there is only limited amount of them and thus will soon start to recycle.
What brings the score down most, are two bugs: Teleport Bug, which causes the aliens to suddenly teleport to your location. Other bug is Flanking Bug, which is not as severe, but is still something that can hamper you.
However, despite these flaws, the game is very enjoyable and offers lots of fun. Personally, I have already sank more than 100 hours into the game and I have enjoyed every moment of it.
Stupid, Silly and Absolutely FunMandemon | May 3, 2013 | Review of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
This game is stupid and it knows it. Rather than trying to pretend to be anything, it takes the stupidity in it's arms and marries it, turning stupidity into awesome. The game is full of cliches and shouts and they are mercilessly both mocked and respected.
Game is, gameplay wise, your standard Far Cry game. It's an open world filled with all kinds of crazy cyber-creatures and cyber-soldiers wanting to horribly, horribly kill you and eat you, not necessarily in that order.
Game is rather short, only 7 story missions and a handful of side-missions, which come in two flavors: Rescue someone or kill something in specific way. There are also garrisons you can liberate and three types of colletables.
Weapons wise, game has limited weaponry, but it offers lots of customization.
Writing is near perfect, filled with jabs at 80's and even towards the game itself. The story is a cliche fest just like you would expect from something made in 80's.
In a longer game, the graphics style and writing would get eventually boring, but the games length and price are perfect. Game is just short enough to make you sit back and think "That was AWESOME!" and the price reflects this.
All in all, I warmly recommend this game to everyone. If you want to try what sort of games Far Cry games are, this is a perfect, "lite" version filled with ham and cheese. If you are a fan of Far Cry games, then this is perfect addition to your library.
Also, 5 extra points solely for the last mission. It just so ridiculously stupid and awesome that I was positively giggling like a school girl.