game review

Until Dawn – Game Review

I was so intrigued by Until Dawn, the game even made it to my “Upcoming Games I’m Excited For” post I made almost two months ago. I held off buying it for a few weeks, as I had a friend coming to stay at the end of September and we’d planned to play it together. No shame in trying to save a few bucks on a new release!

As a lover of a good old slasher horror flick, Until Dawn did not let me down. It was incredibly cliché; a group of teenagers staying in a log cabin on a mountain, with a mix of teenage dramas, crushes, and couples that will take their chances against death for a quickie. Slap on a bit of paranormal activity and a psychotic killer on the loose, and you’ve got me hooked. It was a nice blend of Evil Dead, The Cabin in the Woods, and Scream.

The visuals were incredible, something Supermassive Games really deserve all the praise for (and I’m hoping they win all the awards!). I strongly suggest that you watch the behind the scenes videos, they’re a bonus with the game but I’m assuming they’re available online now. They show how the actors performed the whole game on a sound stage, in their fancy CGI morph suits with cameras attached to their heads to capture all of their facial movements. The only letdown is that it’s a short video, I would really have loved a more detailed documentary showing the process from “Stage to Screen.”

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Now, onto the gameplay. Until Dawn is advertised as being “designed to be played multiple times,” but I’m afraid to say that the game is only fun to play through twice. Any more than that and it’s far too repetitive, with no skip button for the long cinematic scenes. I’ve played it five times now (I’m a shameless trophy hunter. FIGHT ME.) and I’m ready to put the game to rest. There isn’t enough variety to keep seeking out new ways to change the story.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the game, the first playthrough with my friend was a bloody good time. Watching someone else’s decisions, having little arguments about said decisions, judging each other for failing the Quick Time Events, then discovering the big plot twist, it’s a really fun game to play the first time through with a gaming buddy.

During my second playthrough, which was on my own, I took a bit more time with the game. I found all the collectibles, which piece-by-piece unlocks a video about the lore and history of the mountain, the suspicious mining accident, and the creatures inhabiting the mines. I also changed a lot of my previous decisions, completely changing the outcome of the game. Like I previously said, the first two playthroughs are brilliant and I cannot fault them.

My favourite collectibles were the Totems. Depending on their colour, they would show you character deaths, and any upcoming dangers or fortunes you may come across. The scenes are re-playable, so they were interesting to play back during the game to see if any of the premonitions may be coming up. It was a nice twist to the usual collectibles in games, which sometimes don’t add much to how you play.

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One of the biggest downfalls of Until Dawn is the lack of multiple save slots. Your first playthrough is your main save, and once you’ve played the game you can play again from whatever episode you choose (you have to play all the episodes from that point on to make a change to the outcome in the end). The biggest flaw in that is a character potentially dies in an early chapter. If they died on your first play, then you need to play from that early chapter every time to try and keep them alive. It’d be nice if there were at the very least two save slots, one to keep said character alive and the other one where they die.

If you’re not a fan of games with Quick Time Events, then I’m sorry but this game is pretty much built on them. Personally I don’t mind them, they can make me feel a bit anxious (I’m an Anxious Annie..), but I think it adds to the feel of the game. You’re being chased by a killer – you’re gonna be feeling a bit antsy.

In addition to the Quick Time Events, there’s also the use of the DualShock 4 controller’s gyroscope feature. In situations where you’re hiding, you’ll be told to keep still. And I mean keep still. The tiniest of movements will trigger the attacker, and in some situations can lead to a character’s death. I ended up holding my breath and resting the controller on my stomach to avoid my hands betraying me and going into spasm out of sheer stress.

At first I found the controls a bit difficult, they reminded me of old school Resident Evil (I’m sure a lot of you know exactly what I mean!), where the right toggle didn’t really have much control of your camera movements. After a while I got used to it, however it was a bit daunting walking towards the camera and not knowing what you were walking towards until the camera angle changed. I wonder whether they decided on these controls as a nod to the classic horror game.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the game, but got a bit tired of it after a few replays. However I won’t let my greediness in replaying for trophies spoil the fun I initially had playing it. I paid £38 for a new copy a few weeks after release, which may seem steep for some people, but considering I’ve raked in almost 40 hours playing it, I’d say I’ve got my money’s worth.

– AmyGames

Twitter: @littleamyhere

The Wolf Among Us – Game Review

A few days ago I completed The Wolf Among Us, and I’m saddened to say I was a little disappointed.

The Wolf Among Us is the third TellTale Games series I’ve played, the first being The Walking Dead, second Game of Thrones. I really enjoy their style of gameplay, and was lucky enough to buy The TellTale Collection on PS4 during the sale a couple of months ago.

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So, why the disappointment? The length of the game. It was just far too short! Each episode is divided into chapters, and after completing each chapter you earn a trophy. I found that I was gaining trophies at an alarming rate, completing chapters in ten minutes, with one chapter in the final episode being less than five minutes long. The ending felt incredibly rushed, and comparing the finale of The Wolf Among Us to The Walking Dead (which had me blubbing into my dressing gown..), it was surprising to think that the two games were from the same developers.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the game. I found myself invested in the characters: having a soft spot for the lovable rogue, Bigby, feeling incredibly bad for Mr Toad and his son, TJ, and hoping there’d be a little bit more going on between Snow White and The Big Bad Wolf.

The graphics are what you’d expect from a TellTale Game, and I absolutely loved it. Each scene looked like it had been taken directly from a comic book page, with the use of dark colours contrasting with vibrant purples and pinks. It reminded me of 80’s cop movies, especially with the emphasis on synths in the game soundtrack – not to mention the reference to the 80’s cop movie, Cobra, during the first scene of the game.

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Mongoose? How Sly, don’t you think?

One thing that gets two thumbs up from me? The intro. So. Goddamn. Cool. It definitely sets off the tone of the game – Bigby casually walking through the city at night, with nothing but his burning cigarette and beat of his synthy theme tune to guide the way.

As much as I was enchanted by the story of fairytale characters gone wrong, I definitely felt at some parts of the game that I was watching instead of actually playing. Yes, the Quicktime elements were there, and the decisions I made affected the way other characters decided to trust or speak to Bigby. However, something isn’t quite right when you can eat a whole meal and only have to push a button every so often. It was beginning to feel more like a TV show than a game.

During my playthrough and confusion at the shortness of episodes, I took to the internet to see if anyone agreed with me. It seemed a lot of people were just as annoyed as myself, but to add insult to injury most people had to wait months between episodes. I feel slightly privileged that I was able to jump seamlessly from one episode to the next, and I’ll be honest – I probably would’ve given up on the game if I had to wait so long for short episodes.

Overall? A pretty good game, let down by being far too short, a rushed ending and minimal gameplay. There’s news of a Season Two being released – which I’ll most probably play, but only when all of the episodes are eventually released. Fingers crossed Telltale Games spend a bit more time on Season Two, flesh the game out, and give these characters the story they deserve.

– AmyGames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littleamyhere

First Look: Rocket League – The Game I Never Knew I Needed.

I don’t like football. I especially don’t like playing football video games, after spending a large chunk of my youth sat between my brother and step brothers having to play FIFA ’98. Tough times.

However – playing football with a suped-up, jumping car? You have my attention.

Rocket League is the sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars by Psyonix, a game I personally haven’t played, but from reading up on it I found mostly average reviews, and reviewers calling the game “okay.” From what it looks like, Psyonix have been listening to the critics to create a similar, but improved game. It also has a better name, clearly.

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It’s currently free to download through Playstation Plus during July – I recommend if you have PS Plus that you go download it right now, if you haven’t then why the hell do you have PS Plus and not download ALL the free games?!

The best quote I’ve heard about the game comes from my favourite gaming YouTuber, OfficialNerdCubed, who said “I’m not great – but I have fun.” You can take this game as serious or not-so-serious as you’d like, honing your skills to become a really great player, or enjoying the game on a more casual level. Personally, I’m more of a “drive around manically laughing” kind of player. It’s a miracle if I actually score a goal in the online play..

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GOALAZIOOOOOOOOO

One issue I have with Rocket League is the main menu. I find the writing to be quite small, especially when setting up an online match, where the set up screen is a box in the top right hand corner. It’s so small I end up leaving the settings as they are, so I haven’t ventured away from the default games just yet. This could just be me with my not-so-good eyesight, though!

Other than the one issue with the menu, the game is bloody great. It easily makes my Top 10 Games of 2015 list. The gameplay is great, it’s incredibly addictive, the graphics are spot on, and you have the option of playing split screen with up to four people (not that I have enough controllers or friends for that but shhh..). The customization options for your car are hilarious, with the option of bubbles instead of flames shooting out your exhaust, car hats and crowns, and the PS4 exclusive – the special unlockable vehicle, Sweet Tooth. SWEET TOOTH. FROM TWISTED METAL. THE SCARY ICE CREAM TRUCK FROM TWISTED METAL.

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NOSTALGIA.

If you’re not a PS4 owner, Rocket league is currently on Steam for £14.99. Do I think it’s worth £15? Maybe. £15 is the cut off point I’d pay for a digital game, and I think this game provides plenty of hours of fun to make it worth the price tag. If it’s too pricey for you, keep an eye out during the next Steam sale!

Anyone else had a play on Rocket League? What do you think? Let me know!

– AmyGames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littleamyhere

Splatoon – Speedy Review

Last weekend I had a quick play of the Wii U’s latest game, Splatoon. And I liked it!

Like most Nintendo games, Splatoon appears to be focused more towards kids, but that definitely doesn’t stop adults from enjoying it. The aim of the game is YOU’RE A KID NOW, YOU’RE A SQUID NOW, you’ve got your ink gun (or roller) and you’ve gotta splatter every inch of floor and walls with ink. You’ve also got targets, balloons, and don’t forget about shooting the other team to knock their points down and score points for yourself. You use your ability of being a kid and a squid to your advantage, as a kid you shoot, then as a squid you reload your ink gun by swimming through your ink.  You can use this mode to stealthily sneak up on enemies and POW. Headshot. Sort of.

Prior to the game’s release a lot of people were saying “Nintendo? Releasing a Third Person Shooter? For kids?!” And yes, technically, that’s what Splatoon is. However, don’t expect any gore or exploding heads from this game, it feels more like a water fight than a gun fight. This ain’t Platoon. Yes. I went there. Platoon.

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I’ve been inked!

Even though I only played for a short time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. We played in multiplayer so I didn’t get a chance to see what single player or the online games were like, but got to see enough of the game to want to play more. It was silly, fun, the graphics were nice, the colours refreshing and not too OTT or garish. There seemed to be enough variety within the game to shake things up, with Inkopolis being the heart of the game where you can find the campaign, multiplayer, and online stages. You can also go shopping, vote what music to listen to and hang out with other players. The speech bubble above your “Inkling” character with your own drawing or writing for others in the community to see was a nice touch, it kind of reminded me of Habbo Hotel! I’m showing my age now..

There were plenty of different guns to choose from, which changed the style of gameplay each round. Some guns were long range, some shot bigger splodges of ink, some had better aim etc. We started off picking whichever gun we liked the look of at first, but decided to choose the same gun the more rounds we played. Personally my favourite was the roller, I never won a round using it but it was strangely therapeutic to just run around the level, rolling the ink on every patch of floor and wall I could.

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Nyahhhhhhh!

One thing I was a little disappointed with was the lack of customization at the beginning of the game. You choose your gender and a have few limited choices in your character’s look, but after that you have to level up to score more accessories and upgrades for your outfits and weapons. I know this is pretty standard for games, but I felt like it needed a little bit more choice in the start up for your character.

You can also use your amiibos to unlock skins, outfits and special challenges, which is of course what the amiibos are supposed to be for, not to sit on your shelf looking pretty.  One downfall – you can only use the Inkling amiibos. Hopefully more amiibos will become compatible with the game as time goes on, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. You’d think the latest game release would be compatible with at least some of the most popular amiibos out there, even if they just unlocked tshirts with the amiibos face on (YOSHI TSHIRTS?)

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You’re a kid now you’re a… HOW MUCH?!

The one big big big thing I would urge Splatoon players to do is to CHANGE THE MOTION SETTINGS. The game is pre-set with the Gamepad’s motion control on, which means instead of using your second joystick to aim and move the camera, you have to move the Gamepad physically. You have no idea how ridiculously difficult this makes even the most simple tutorial playthrough, never mind trying to aim at a stationary balloon or Christ, shoot at a moving person. Luckily this can be changed after you’ve completed the tutorial. I worry that kids playing it won’t realise that this can be changed, but let’s be fair – kids are smart. Probably smarter than me and my 27 year old friend playing. We had to Google how to change this. Seriously.

Overall, a refreshingly fun game that can be enjoyed by everyone, with a few niggles that hopefully will get rectified. I don’t own a Wii U but if I did I’d definitely buy this – BUT, it’s not enough of a game for me to buy the console just to play this. Sorry, Nintendo.

Speedy Review Score – 7/10

– AmyGames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littleamyhere

Murdered: Soul Suspect – Game Review

Last week I completed Murdered: Soul Suspect on the PS4. Even though it had it’s problems, I actually really enjoyed it.

Since the game’s release in June last year, Murdered: Soul Suspect has received very mixed reviews. A lot of people complained about the short length of the game, absence of combat, the strange puzzles and lack of storyline. On top of that, the independent game developers, Airtight Games, closed down just one month after M:SS was released, and we’ve never been given a full explanation as to why. According to reports, the company were laying off staff in the few months before the release date, leaving us to believe that financial difficulties were to blame. It’s a tough world out there as an indie game dev.

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So, what’s the story? Right from the get go you find your character, Detective Ronan O’Connor, in the middle of a police pursuit for a serial killer known as “The Bell Killer.” Ronan is thrown out of a high storey window, miraculously survives, but finds his spirit has left his body. He attempts to try and find help in his ghost-like state, but looks up to find The Bell Killer is suddenly standing above his body, shooting him at point blank. Boom. Dead.

There’s a quick cut scene flashback, showing some of Ronan’s important memories. We see him involved in petty crimes as a kid, to being charged with assault & GTA, being sent to prison, turning his life around when he meets the love of his life, Julia, becoming a Police Officer, his wedding day, Julia’s sudden death, and his obsession with solving the mystery of The Bell Killer. As the flashback plays out, we see tattoos symbolising these moments in his life appear on his body. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, something I’ve never seen before, and it was a great way of getting an idea of who your character is before you start playing. Of course, the memories are rather cliché, and it’s very much like “See this thing we’re showing you now? Don’t you forget it now!” but personally it was a nice cut scene, probably because I like tattoos so much..

Ronan realises he’s dead, and is visited by the spirit of his wife, Julia, who tells him he’s in a dangerous place (I’m gonna assume limbo..) and the only way they can be reunited is for him to resolve the unfinished business that’s stopping him from moving on. Ronan believes this is to find out The Bell Killer’s identity, and begins the investigation.

Let’s be real, the game is a mix of LA Noire and the cheesy 80’s movie Ghost. I loved LA Noire, and I’m a total sucker for Ghost, so I felt like this game was created for the likes of me. There was a distinct lack of pottery scene with shirtless Patrick Swayze, though.

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Gotta love a bit of Swayze.

All joking aside, I can see why some people didn’t like the game. The combat scenes against demons were very basic, plus there was an abundance of hiding places (in weird fuzzy spirit clouds?) so the fear of being killed (again..) was very slim. That’s not to say I didn’t get killed by demons, and the main reason was down to glitches.

My God, the glitches.

The first demon I came across had me completely stuck. No buttons worked besides rotating the camera, and the demon couldn’t even kill me. We were stuck staring at each other, and in the end I had to reboot the game and start from the last checkpoint. Luckily it had just saved, but after having a little read through a few forums, it appears to be a common problem. There were even a few people that couldn’t even load from the previous checkpoint, and had to start all over again, so thank the Gods this didn’t happen to me!

My favourite glitch (it’s quite bad when a game has so many glitches that you pick your favourites) was when I got stuck possessing the cat during a demon encounter. I couldn’t move from a window ledge, and had the demon up in the cat’s face going nuts, but couldn’t kill me or the cat. The only controls I had were to turn around and MEOW.

Here, I even saved a video to show how ridiculous it was:

Now this brings me onto my next problem – the sharing function on the PS4 didn’t record any audio. I really enjoy using the PS4 share function, and I’ve had no problems with games such as CoD: AW, Destiny and The Walking Dead, so I’m assuming it’s a glitch with the game. It was a bit of a let down really.

To me, the controls felt a little clunky at times. For the choice of actions towards a person or object to pop up you had to be at the right distance and angle, but get too close you’d have to walk away and start the process again. After a few hours it got a little bit frustrating, so in the end I was walking up to objects a lot more slower to make sure it didn’t happen.

I also found that towards the end of the game some things just weren’t working anymore – the chimes to indicate a clue had stopped, the misty clouds to hide from the demons weren’t there anymore, and the demons were mostly silent and no longer screamed. It felt like the developers kind of gave up in the end, which is a shame, as the game started off really well.

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I know what you must be thinking, “you said you liked the game but you’ve just made a pretty decent sized list of complaints,” which is true, but not every game you like is flawless. Here’s a few reasons why I really enjoyed M:SS.

Firstly, I really liked the setting. Being a lover of all things witchy and supernatural, Salem is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Although the town created in M:SS is fictional, it does create that eerie seaside town atmosphere with the fog, old buildings, and of course the references to the witch trials.

Although the history of the witch trials given in the game was quite basic, I still enjoyed it. Like I said, the story of the witch trials intrigues me, and I’ve never come across a game that incorporates it with the storyline (if anyone knows any games that do – hit me up).

Also, and most importantly – YOU CAN POSSESS A CAT. Enough said.

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I know a lot of people complained about the shortness of the game, but for me it was just enough for a weekend spent inside gaming, with a decent storyline and a few side missions alongside it. I find that I do well with games that have a set path, as I get overwhelmed with big, open games such as Skyrim. I end up spending hours riding across mountains on a horse, questioning my life choices.

According to the website How Long to Beat, the main story takes on average about 6.5 hours to complete, with an extra 2 hours or so on top with the side missions. It took me just under 8 hours to complete, but I didn’t finish all of the side missions. It is a short game, but if you look at the hardships Airtight Games were going through during the production of M:SS, perhaps they decided to keep it short and sweet to stay on budget and actually have the game released. We’ll never know.

To conclude, Murdered: Soul Suspect was a game with it’s problems, but to me it was still enjoyable. There aren’t many games similar to LA Noire on the market, and even though M:SS is definitely not up to the same mark, it certainly did try.

Overall rating? I’d give it 6.5/10.

One more thing – I am so glad I didn’t come across this game-breaking glitch:

Have any of you guys played Murdered: Soul Suspect? What did you think?

– AmyGames

Twitter: littleamyhere