Reviews by Wiesler
Funny BonesWiesler | March 5, 2014 | Review of Bone Complete Bundle
It has been a while since I played the Bone games, but now seems like great time to pick both in the bundle. Those who are unfamiliar with the Bone comics might want to catch up before playing the games as I feel like comics offer up a great context for the game and are just plain fun on their own.
Of the two games offered in the bundle The Great Cow Race is better. Though there are some load time issues, this one feels like the more polished of the two in terms of story and gameplay.
This game might not be so easy to recommend to those who are unfamiliar with the series or are looking for more action. Overall it is a great deal!
An Open World Worth ExploringWiesler | Nov. 26, 2013 | Review of Sleeping Dogs Digital Edition
“Open world” has never really been a selling point for me in video games.
I liked San Andreas and some Saints Row, but it was never the open world that appealed to me. Most of the time, this space feels empty, ruins the pacing, and can take away from the fun. This was even an issue for me an Arkham City; I feel like some games are open world for the sake of artificial lengthening. I feel like Sleeping Dogs handles its open world setting well.
Sleeping Dogs takes place in a unique contemporary Hong Kong setting. You play as an undercover police agent infiltrating the criminal underworld of China. You will be fighting, shooting, and driving. The latter two are not worth mentioning really, they do their job, but the combat system is great.
The combat feels powerful and brutal. You will use throws, counters, punches, and so on, against your opponents. You can upgrade your moves, use the environment and unlock some really brutal combat moves. Along with the combat, the story is told fairly well and has its moments, and this is a game worth buying.
Strategy Fans RejoiceWiesler | Nov. 18, 2013 | Review of Sang-Froid - Tales of Werewolves
Sang-Froid is another mix of 3rd person action with trap/tower building, similar to Orcs Must Die. The game has a unique Canadian setting and centers around an original werewolf story penned by a fairly well known author. This game is quite ambitious in how much it focuses on the lore and narrative of the game, and it delivers for the most part. The art style fits the game for the most part, though the cutscenes may have came out better through illustrations.
The game is fun to play, and can offer some challenge. The two brothers you can choose from play differently: one is a nice mix of 3rd person action and trap building; the other brother is relies heavily on traps. The game offers an RPG mechanic through equipment and skill trees that works well to reward the player. The progression of your character can be felt, which is exactly what an RPG mechanic should do.
Despite a few very minor shortcomings, this game offers a unique setting and some great gameplay.
Bring Some FriendsWiesler | Nov. 18, 2013 | Review of Sanctum
Sanctum is an interesting mix of FPS and TD. Though the concept is novel, the execution is not quite perfect. The thrill of building a maze of tomorrows is combined with that of a horde mode in a n FPS, to an extent. The towers, weapons, and upgrades are all fine; they function well without being extremely creative. However the most crucial ingredient that Sanctum lacks in terms of FPS, is the danger of dying. Enemies will destroy your tower, but ignore you. It takes away a bit of the excitement.
Another flaw, though Sanctum itself is not responsible, is the lack of community. Truly the bane of every multiplayer game is the lack of community. There are barely any players on, so don’t expect immediate action. However if you have friends that are interested in a different kind of Tower Defense game, this should hit the spot.
A Wonderful Strategy GameWiesler | Nov. 15, 2013 | Review of Medieval II: Total War
The Total War series offers players another dose of Medieval action in Medieval II: Total War. Outside of battles you will find yourself managing your various lands: taxing, building armies, declaring war, signing treaties, and so on. These things have an impact on how your battles go. Assassinating your enemy's general could cause them to lose their next battle against you.
In battle, the game shifts to an RTS perspective. Battles can be tons of fun, and will require some attention. Units have different stances or abilities that they can use, and it will be up to you to manage them. It is really cool watching your glorious knights riding around through waves enemies, or seeing your archers destroy charging armies. The units have some variety to them depending on the faction, and individual units can also have some slight differences between them.
The game can be played with varying conditions and difficulties. However, the invisible hand of the game can sometimes feel unfair or obtrusive. For instance, at a certain point in the game certain factions will hate you. You could have been allies with each other for the whole game with marriages and trade routs between you, but at some point they might just turn on you for no reason. What's worse is that sometimes your allies will do this after they have already set up large armies near your bases. On top of this, the pope might ask you to not hurt certain factions that are planning on attacking you, or hurting certain allies that you don't want to attack. Depending on the difficulty, the enemy can also sprout units and resources out of nowhere.
Playing the game unlocks more factions, and they all feel great, but some feel underdeveloped compared to others (especially the none western factions). The strategy is complex, but can be simplified if you want to focus on the battles. This is simply a great strategy game.
A Delightful EntryWiesler | Nov. 15, 2013 | Review of Rochard
Rochard is mostly a puzzle platformer, and that is where the game truly shines. The puzzles are not incredibly difficult or cryptic. The controls, and execution of puzzles feels great. The pacing of the game is also really well done, as you will constantly be moving along, and the game doesn't really drag out.
The story is ok, but nothing to really write home about. The graphics have a nice style, but the music is really good. The mechanics of the game mess with gravity and object placement, and it is all fun. However, the developers decided to include combat into the mix, and it doesn't fit into the game very well.
Rochard is a great puzzle platformer, despite the questionable inclusion of combat. The cliff hanger ending really leaves you wanting more, but in a good game.
A Superb GameWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex is a first person RPG series that is very important in the world of gaming. Human Revolution does not fall short of its namesake and is a great game that stands on its own.
The mechanics are a mix of action and RPG, or stealth if you so choose. The RPG elements come into play when you augment Jensen for various benefits: running silently, turning invisible, aiming steadier, and so on. These upgrades help you play the game the way you want to. However, one small flaw is that certain moves require energy that can only be regained by eating energy bars. It's a very small complaint.
When you aren't busy augmenting Jensen you will be investigating various cases around open world settings that are split into distinct sections. Choosing what Jensen says or does in missions adds to the story, and the writing is sharp. The game's story plays out like a neo-noir, and you are the detective.
The gameplay outside of role-playing lies in shooting or sneaking. You can use your various skills/gadgets to sneak by tons of guards and net yourself a "Ghost" rank, which nets you bonus experience, or you can shoot up the place. The choice is yours, though it should be noted that you can not have a completely pacifist run in this game as bosses must be killed. Non-lethal boss fights are supposed to be addressed in the Director's Cut of the game.
A Great Experience, But Not For EveryoneWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Dear Esther
Dear Esther is soaking with mystery and begging to be analyzed. In terms of mechanics you can only walk, and zoom in. So this is not the game to play to get an adrenaline rush or shoot things.
The story is really the highlight and to elaborate on it at all would be doing the game a disservice. By even talking about this vaguely I could have hampered the experience. So, just try to keep an open mind as you explore Dear Esther.
The game acts as a vehicle for a very interesting story. There are little motifs, cryptic text, monologues, and so on. This game is an exploration of what video games can do with a story. This is a unique experience in video games, and if you are willing to try something different, this is a game you shouldn't ignore.
A Flawless Arcade WesternWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (NA)
This is an excellent Western arcade experience. Gunslinger is fun on many levels. The graphic novel aesthetics work great, and make for a really neat experience in the old west.
This game uses a mix of FPS mechanics and some light RPG elements. Your gun choice can matter a lot in the hectic firefights, and performing chain kills and marksmanship will net you tons of points. These points act as experience points that you can use to grab skills for Silas from three different skill trees to fit your play style.
Along with the running and shooting, there is a neat slow down mechanic. Though it is not completely unique, it is welcome, as is the escaping death mechanic. When you’ve taken too many hits the game will slow down as a bullet flies towards you, at which point you have dodge either left or right to escape death. It’s a neat alternative to a continue. Duels are also a huge part of the game.
Throughout the game you will hang around or fight famous figures from the Old West: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, The Sundance Kid, and much more. More often than not, you will have to duel these legends. Dueling works by one stick controlling your aim, and the other controlling your hand (which will increase your draw speed). You will have to watch closely if you want to kill your opponent honorably (drawing first is deemed dishonorable).
Gunslinger is steeped in the legends of the Old West and has tons of lasting value. If you like westerns, you will love this. If you haven’t given them a try, this might be the best place to start.
Say Goodbye to Your LifeWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of The Binding of Isaac
From a top down perspective, you explore Isaac's basement while shooting enemies with your tears. The aesthetics seem Legend of Zelda inspired, but everything else is a McMillen original. The game is highly addictive, but simple: you can only take so many hits, and you will be stacked up against a large amount of enemies, so it will take skillful hands to dodge attacks and send back tears. Where the game really shines though is in its roguelike elements. Randomized levels, enemies, and items will fill out the basement each time you play. Items and characters are unlocked from finding secrets throughout the game (and there are a ton). Once an item is unlocked, there is now a chance that it will drop from a chest, boss, or appear in a store. All the random elements, and steep challenge keep the game interesting. You will probably die a ton, but each play feels refreshing.
I have, I think, played this game more than any other in my library, and I'm nowhere near "completing" it. This is an incredible value for your money, and you should definitely get the DLC. Don't wait for sale, just buy it and wonder how you were living without it.
Closer to a Batman ExperienceWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Batman Arkham City: Game of the Year
While Asylum was much more confined and concise, City finds its strength in an open world setting.
Mechanics wise, how can one fix what was already perfect? The developers seemed to have had trouble thinking of a solution themselves. So, if you enjoyed the fluid combat of Asylum, you will love it in City. Sneaking, being a detective, using your gadgets, finding trophies, it's all here. Now included are an insane amount of trophies and a some side missions. Trophy collecting can be quite daunting, and the side missions seem to stretch themselves out. Though, it should be noted that if the player times everything correctly, they should constantly be in and out of side missions and story missions. The side missions range from inventive, to average, and the Riddler's trophies still unlock tons of challenges to test your skill. This game is more of the same, but, for better or worse, the experience is now open world.
The DLC is not all perfect. I am not one for costumes, so that part of the DLC didn't really matter to me. The Catwoman DLC that is sprinkled throughout the main game kind of mess with the pacing of the game and they feel tacked on. However, playing as Catwoman is a blast, and you should do so in the many challenge levels you will unlock. Along with her, you can play as Robin and Nightwing in challenge maps. They have their own quirks and styles, and it all plays great. Harlequin's Revenge however, is a mediocre experience.
A Must PlayWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year
It would be difficult to choose which of the Arkham games is better. Instead, it would be easier to qualify each as great, but in their own ways.
Arkham Asylum is the more concise of the Arkham games. The location is fairly contained, and far from overwhelming. On top of this, the story is fairly contained, and the game has great pacing. Unlocking things constant as you move along, finding Riddler's trophies as you go along, and exploring the Asylum.
Of course, the combat is top notch. You have a dodge, stun, counter attack, regular attack, and various gadgets at your disposal. However, this isn't your typical combat mechanic, as it feels so rhythmic and smooth.This game makes combat an art, and the animation, though brutal, is beautiful. On top of combat, there are also great stealth sequences, and a detective element to the game. Finding Riddler's trophies unlock more challenge maps for you to play out your Batman fantasies. This is a fantastic game on many levels.
A Great Action RPGWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Bastion Cap
Bastion has some beautiful art with interesting scenery. To accompany this is a terrific, ecletic soundtrack, and some spot on voice acting. The game's story is narrated by an old man named Rucks, and his gravely voice adds humor and a folk feel to the story.
The mechanics are fairly fast paced and feel very solid. There are a variety of weapons and special skills that the player can choose from, and each weapon has two separate upgrade paths that can be mixed and matched. Every weapon already feels very different, and the different upgrades helps to expand on this. From an isometric perspective the player has to dodge, block, counter attack, and use precise timing to survive. The difficulty can be changed by choosing different idols to worship in game that add various effects, like enemies dropping bombs on death.Along with the main story, there are challenge levels that test your skill with each weapon.
Bastion gives the player different ways to play and challenge themselves.
A Pack of Gems (As If Anyone Expected Otherwise)Wiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of The Basement Collection
Given how flawless Binding of Isaac and Super Meatboy were, you might be curious about McMillen's previous work. Well, I'll save you some time, this bundle is a great mix of video games, art, music and insight.
Here are just a few highlights. There is an excellent puzzle platformer with a twisted story called Time Fcuk, that feels like a more methodical, but equally brutal, Super Meat Boy. There is a very mysterious and whimsical adventure game called Aether, which has you exploring /solving other planets with your pet/friend alien. At this price, this is a steal for a great collection of fantastic games, and bonus features of a great video game maker.
I Should Not Have to Write This Review, Buy it.Wiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition
The headline really says it all. I really find it hard to not recommend this to anyone, it is one of the best games ever made, period. This game is the Journey to the West of PC gaming, and belongs right up there with Half-Life. The art and music are all wonderful and timeless. The gameplay is slick and challenging. All of it is held together by a spare narrative that prods you along.
This game is simply too well crafted. This is really one for the ages, and you owe it to yourself to play it. Even if you don't absolutely love it, you will learn how legendary games are made. This is a landmark game and you should be playing it rather than reading this, don't even wait for a sale.
A Great Game That Stands on Its OwnWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Anodyne
Anodyne does deserve its comparison to Zelda, especially in terms of the art style. The aesthetics are well done in a retro Legend of Zelda (the Link's Awakening) style. The gameplay also relies on the same exploration, puzzle solving and combat. However Anodyne is much more than a game trying to be Zelda.
Anodyne expands on the old Legend of Zelda in many ways. The game revels in its convoluted story. The basic plot does take work to piece together. The way the narrative is presented is also very interesting: dialogue and card descriptions give the story.
Along with the experimentation with story, Anodyne develops a different angle of gameplay. The combat of Anodyne is simple, but the platforming aspect is very well done and focused on. Where the old Legend of Zelda would have a little bit of platforming that required precise timing, Anodyne is full of it.
Great art, music, story, and gameplay. This is just a wonderful experience.
Better Than DecentWiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Alan Wake
When Alan Wake was first released it received a massive amount of praise for its mechanics, story, and atmosphere. Maybe it was groundbreaking upon its release, but that's no longer the case. The game works by using light sources (flares included) to make enemies vulnerable;basically you shine a light on an enemy for awhile and then shoot him. It's not that ground breaking, and I feel like for most of the game, the story and focus of the game is fairly weak.
However the epilogue ends up being much better. During this chapter, the insanity of Alan Wake is brought into the spotlight, and it makes the game more enjoyable. The main game really feels like it's holding back, but the ending chapter is when the game seems to find itself. Not quite life changing, but still a great effort.
What's a Bird Without a Flock?Wiesler | Nov. 13, 2013 | Review of Air Buccaneers
Air Buccaneers can be incredibly fun, and I want to like it. However, this game relies on a multiplayer community. The gameplay is really fun. You get to be a pirate of the sky, pillaging, and bringing ruin to other air ships. It's extremely exciting, when you can find people to play with.
The ranks, perks, and people you can unlock are great incentive to play. The biggest flaw with this game lies not in the game itself, but the community. Having logged in some hours every now and then, it was rare for me to find more than one person online, which is a real shame. This game offers a great, and somewhat unique, experience to players, but there just aren't enough people playing.
An Amazing Co-Op ExperienceWiesler | Nov. 13, 2013 | Review of Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light
Good co-op games let you play with your friend without taking away any of the fun. Great co-op games make working together with your friend(s) fun. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light does this perfectly. Totec and Lara have to use their abilities to help each other through puzzles and platforming sections. Lara has a zipline for Totec to walk across and Totec has spears that only Lara can jump on, as well as a shield that doubles as a platform for Lara. The game has a good mix of combat and puzzles. The difficulty of both varies, but it is all fun. The many rewards that can be unlocked from playing the game and doing certain things add to the replay value. The items unlocked give some RPG qualities to the game because weapons and artifacts have various effects and statistics. This is probably one of the best co-op games you will play and it comes at a fine price.
Not a Game ChangerWiesler | Nov. 13, 2013 | Review of Journey of a Roach
Point and clicks have been in the spot light lately, due in no small part to Telltale Games, but what does this one offer?
Qualifying point and clicks for everyone is very difficult. Journey of a Roach is functional: there is a story, puzzles, and some humor. However nothing really sets it apart from the crowd of point and clicks. Botanicula was one of the most aesthetically pleasing games around, Kentucky Route Zero oozes with creativity and mystery, and so on. The art and moving around as a roach (ceiling crawling) are good, but not enough to save a mostly average game. However, this game is only really worth getting for those that really enjoy point and clicks; It is not going to "convert" anyone to the genre.
Fills a niche, sort of.Wiesler | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Dungeonland
Dungeonland almost craves to be ignored in its opening moments: atrocious color choice, character design, and presentation. The actual game suffers from some poor optimization, but is that enough to turn you away?
Given how many other great brawlers are on the market, new or old, it is tough to recommend Dungeonland. I have played it with a couple of different friends, and it overstayed its welcome in a short amount of time. It felt repetitive in the first few levels, and the mechanics seemed in need of fine tuning. The overall pacing was rather slow. Even though there is a healthy challenge, what good is a challenge in a game if the game is not that fun? If you can find a few friends and you are all prepared to not be wowed, you could do worse.
Best played with a friend!Wiesler | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Dead Pixels
Dead Pixels is a side scrolling shooter with ample challenge, some neat looting and light RPG elements. Though the pixels and grindhouse intro give an old school vibe, Dead Pixels takes a modern approach. As you (and hopefully a friend) make your way through hordes of undead in a city, you will come across all manners of items. These items can then be exchanged for money or other items in order to level up your character, buy essential supplies or a new weapon. This light RPG mechanic is really what keeps the game interesting. Their are multiple modes to play, and tons of achievements to offer replay value.
At a very generous price, this is a healthy challenge and a great game to play with a friend.
A great effortWiesler | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Awesomenauts
The MOBA genre is bloated and festering. The communities in general are toxic and exclusive. The market for MOBAs is now extremely crowded, and most of the entries seem content with sticking to the basics.
Awesomenauts is a very different kind of MOBA. Sidescrolling, 3v3, local co-op, hand drawn, drop-in gameplay, etc. Awesomenauts deserves applause because it tries so hard to be different. Though their community is smaller and less vocal than the bigger MOBAs, Awesomenauts' seems to have an overall healthy and polite community. Even with how accessible the game is, there is still quite a bit of challenge and learning involved. Overall, this is a solid recommendation for under $5.