433: Mercenary Kings

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

(This game is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch for $19.99)

I have come to terms with the fact that I have not been doing enough game reviews as of late. I used to do them on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, but after a bit, I found myself slowing down on them. If I want to be a good game reviewer, I have to put out more reviews more often. To start us off with this new rebooting of reviews, let’s take a look at the newly enhanced rerelease of Tribute Games’ Mercenary Kings for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (the version I got), PlayStation Vita, and PC. In terms of what I think about Tribute Games, I find their games full of personality and charm, but I haven’t always enjoyed their lineup of games. I know many people like Curses ‘N Chaos and Ninja Senki DX, but I just couldn’t get into them. Not bad games, but not my cup of tea. Luckily, I had a lot of fun with Mercenary Kings, even if I found some flaws with it.

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Mercenary Kings follows the exploits of a ragtag team of resistance fighters called The Kings, who are on Mandragora Island to stop an evil force known as CLAW. The story is nothing special, but more or less in the same vein as the 80s G.I. Joe cartoon with goofy villains and over-the-top lead characters. Yes, it’s one of those games that puts more time into its gameplay than the actual story,  but the interactions are decent enough for you to care about the characters.

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Mercenary Kings is a 2D action shooter that is like most 2D shooters you have played, like Contra and Metal Slug. The unique aspect of this game comes in the form of its design layout. Like in Monster Hunter, you will have a base camp, where you can take on missions that will be set in different levels, in which you are timed to either kill certain soldiers, rescue rebels, take down a boss, or find materials to craft new weapons, bullets, knives, and upgrades for your characters. You have a slew of different gun parts to craft that will give you more ammo, more damage, light or heavy weight, different bullets, more bullets, less bullets, poison bullets, fire bullets, and so on. Your knives also have different stats, but not as complex as the gun customization. Outside of the gun and knife weapon, you can jump, dodge roll, use C4s, grenades, rations, riot shields to block bullets, and health packs to make sure you don’t die. This can be a rather tough game, with different enemies, the fact that you lose reward money if you die during the mission, and a timer is set so you had better get the mission done in that amount of time or else you fail. It’s a game that demands that you go at the right pace around the levels. You don’t want to take too much time, due to the clock going down, but you don’t want to rush it and end up getting rushed by enemies. Outside of the gameplay, you can play this game online or in couch co-op with friends in online or local multiplayer. Plus, since I got a code for it on the Switch, you can make it portable and play it anywhere. You can definitely sink some hours into this game with all of the crafting, grinding, shooting, and replayability with friends, and trying out different gun combinations.

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Tribute Games is well-known for their sprite art, and that’s no different here. The sprites are big and expressive, which is no surprise, since one of the founders of the studio worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. It’s the same style as that game, where it’s all thick, and the character designs look like they were from a Scott Pilgrim graphic novel. The music is fast-paced and energetic as it keeps you pumped while you stay with the mission and get it done.

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The biggest problem I have with this game is that while difficult, sometimes, it comes off like it’s not your fault. Enemies will have movement patterns that won’t match up with where you can shoot, and I ran into a few cheap hits due to how large the sprites are. I also didn’t care for a few of the mechanics, like farming materials and the timer. I don’t have all the time in the world, and while the game itself was addictive, and I wanted to play it a lot, it feels fairly artificial with its length, due to you harvesting different crafting materials. I know some people being put under the firing line with timers, but I could never get into them. The timers aren’t terrible, since I was able to get the missions done on time with minutes to spare, but if I can get it done before the timer is up, then why have it? Just let me take my time, and I’m already going to lose money if I die, and enemies hit hard. The game also does get repetitive, since you go through the first location quite a lot. There are definitely several missions and some decent variety, but it’s still going on a timed mission, and I don’t remember too many of them. You wonder if they should have cut down on the 100+ missions, and instead made 20-30 with memorable sequences or levels.

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In general, even with its hiccups and flaws, I still had a lot of fun with Mercenary Kings. I can definitely see myself playing this game more, and with my friends or family when we want something that involves lots of action. It’s available on all consoles right now, and I would definitely recommend checking this game out. I got it on the Switch, and I’ll definitely be using the console’s portability as the sole reason to get the Switch version, but you do what you want. It’s a blast of a time, and I can’t wait to try out Tribute’s other offerings.

This game gets an 8 out of 10

432: Oure

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

(This game is available on PlayStation 4 and PC for $20)

Back when Paris Game Week was going on, I saw a game that Sony was showing off before their main press event started. It was called Oure, an indie game developed by Heavy Spectrum Limited. It looked interesting with a small girl who can turn into a dragon, fly around the sky and a large mass of clouds, and fight giant guardians known as Titans. It gave off the spirit of something from Team ICO. I was interested, but also concerned. When indie developers get inspired to make Team ICO-style games, they tend to think all they need to do is make an adventure/exploration-focused game with no combat, and a small story that’s mostly told in the background. They tend to be forgettable experiences that don’t get the finer details about Team ICO games. I’m not fully in love with Team ICO-style games, due to a few design choices that they made, but I remember them fondly. After finally playing and beating Oure, well, I have mixed thoughts.

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Oure is basically a mixture of free-roaming exploration, item finding, and then fighting large Titans in very puzzle game-style combat. As you fly through the air as this girl who can change into a dragon, your main goal is to find these blue orbs scattered all around this cloud-like realm. You can also find special orbs that will boost your stamina, speed, and give you the ability to suck in nearby orbs. Once you find enough blue orbs, you take them to specific towers, charge up said tower, and then go after the Titan that is connected to that tower. Each Titan is large, as Titans should be, and will have specific spots that you need to grab onto. These spots are crystals, and once you bite on to one, you have to solve a puzzle to break it off. Each Titan is unique, and will have their own challenge in tackling them. For example, one of the Titans was a giant starfish, and I had to go around this touchpad-like section in the middle of it, hitting certain spots for each leg. There is also a Titan that is multiple little Titans, and you have to flip them around to get to those crystals. After taking care of each Titan, you get some story about what exactly is the point of killing the Titans. After that, you wash, rinse, and repeat. If you are good at taking down Titans, you will get this game beat in about four or so hours.

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Graphically, the game has very lush colors, a beautiful skyline, and simplistic, but easily identifiable designs for the Titans. Everything in the game is consistent in the visuals department. Nothing stood out or was distracting about them. It reminded me of games like The Wind Waker in the colors department. The game also ran pretty well. I didn’t run into any framerate drops. The music is calming while you fly around the clouds. It’s a great game to play if you want some downtime after some stressful work. It really envelopes you, while you fly around collecting orbs. The music for the Titan fights is definitely going to get your blood pumping in a Shadow of Colossus-style vibe. It makes it satisfying when you are able to take down the Titans, and then see yourself making progress.

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While it does do a few things that I really liked, Oure has plenty of flaws. First off, the controls can take getting used to. The controls are kept simple, but flying around never felt super-fluid at times. I feel like you can make the controls simple and not complex, but at the same time, you then need to polish those controls, or else, you will be left with a fairly clunky experience. The Titans are also inconsistent in the realm of fun gaming. While many of them have neat patterns, due to the simple controls, the faults become magnified with the Titans. While getting to the crystals that need to be smashed can be easy enough, sometimes, Titans will have off movements or gimmicks that will make getting to them or to that lone crystal again finicky due to the clunky controls, and certain annoying gimmicks to the Titans. I could forgive all these issues with the controls and the designs, if the large open area you travel through was interesting. Outside of the orb collecting, and getting some extras, there is simply nothing else to do. I know some people would argue about that not a whole lot happens in Shadow of the Colossus’s overworld, but that game had a simple story that was emotionally investing, and the world had atmosphere. Oure’s overworld is pretty, but that’s about it. Again, I wouldn’t mind these flaws if the story was interesting, but it’s not. I forget that there is an actual story going on, and why this girl is transforming into a dragon and fighting giant beasts. I get bored because the overworld has not a whole lot to do, and what there is to do is bogged by clunky controls, faulty game design choices, a boring story, repetitive gameplay, and the fact that it wants to be this Team ICO-style game, but forgets why people love those games.

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I can see why not many talk about Oure. It’s not a terrible game, but there is just not much there going for it. It had a splendid trailer that definitely got me hooked when I saw it during Paris Game Week, and I feel like with some refinement, the developer could have made something stellar. I just think it doesn’t work as a Team ICO-style game, or as a Flower or Journey-style game. However, if any of this at all sounds interesting and you want to check it out anyway despite the ho-hum reviews it is getting, then by all means do so. My goal as a reviewer is to review a game, and give my thoughts on the good, bad, and overall experience. It’s currently available on Steam and PlayStation 4. If you like Team ICO-style games, then maybe check it out, but if you don’t, I would just go spend the cash on getting FURI for the PlayStation 4, or the upcoming Nintendo Switch version.

This game gets a 5 out of 10.

431: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

(This game is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and is coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2018)

Back in 2014, Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of the best surprises in terms of third-party games. In a year where 90% of the third-party games flopped hard, in terms of being good or interesting, Wolfenstein: The New Order surprised many, and was one of the best games of 2014. It had great gunplay, the music was fantastic, and the story was one of the prime examples of video game storytelling. While the one-off game, Wolfenstein: The Old Order was good, the game didn’t have the charm or the interesting story that the original game had. Plus, it focused too much on stealth in the first part of the game. When Bethesda and Machine Games announced at E3 2017 that a new game was in the works, I was pretty pumped, but concerned. I respect Bethesda for what they do, but I’m always hit-and-miss with their games. Thankfully, Machine Games was able to offer a sequel that built upon and was just as good as the first game. While it has its flaws, it’s definitely one of the few triple A games this year that was not ruined by corporate greed.

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Wolfenstein: The New Colossus starts us off right after the ending of the first game. You are B.J. Blazkowicz, voiced once again by Brian Bloom. After defeating the big bad guy from the previous game, you are almost left for dead, until his friends quickly pick him up and get out of the battleground. Months pass as you heal and lay in bed paralyzed. Unfortunately, Irene Engel, voiced by Nina Franoszek, caught up to our heroes, killed their leader, and now has pretty much the entire Nazi army under her command. After getting the special suit that B.J.’s leader wore, you set off to America to find revolutionary groups to join your cause, and whether with a gun or your trusty axe, put every Nazi six feet underground. So, the tone of the previous game mixed small comedic elements with an emotionally-gripping story. Thankfully, they keep that up, and while I felt like there were more light-hearted and over-the-top moments that could have clashed with the more dramatic/dark moments, it all really gelled together. This is especially true, since you will be put through the grinder with the darker elements. The story also has a lot to unpack, like abusive households, racism, assault, and even dealing with Adolf Hitler at one point. Thankfully, the characters are likable, and you want to see them make it through the overall adventure.

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This shouldn’t be a surprise, but Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is a first-person shooter, in which you make your way through large linear levels, and when you see a Nazi, you can choose between sneaking up behind them and cracking open their head with your axe, or you go the route of unleashing your inner gun nut, and shooting anything that moves. Like in the previous game, you can dual-wield any of the guns you own, besides heavy artillery, or the special explosive gun you gain early on. While you only have one axe with you throughout the entire game, you can find additional axes to use as this game’s throwing knives, if you want to keep quiet while scoping for Nazis. So, it sounds like not much has changed, or has something been added? Well, instead of being able to upgrade your health and shields, you can scrounge around each level, and find upgrades that you can use on your individual guns, giving them more ammo and special perks. I recommend getting a suppressor for your pistol, due to the return of those enemies that can call for reinforcements if you are spotted for distant/silent kills. The gameplay feels very much like Doom 2016, if it was slowed down just a tiny bit. You have to keep on the move or else you will get shot. It’s either them, or you on the receiving end of a bullet. You can also search through the levels to find collectables, concept art, and items that will help expand on the world. You also have special missions, where you take out Nazi generals in smaller versions of previous levels that you have been through. Careful though, if you die, you have to start from the beginning of that challenge. Overall, you have a fantastic amount of value in replayability with how great it feels to fight the enemies, some levels that mix things up, and it comes to around a 10-hour campaign. There is no multiplayer, and personally, I am glad.

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Graphically, the game looks as good as it did back in 2014. I think some textures are definitely cleaner looking, but the engine they use makes sure you have a nice-looking game that runs at a really smooth framerate. I did spot a graphical glitch in some areas, but they were very minor and not really noticeable. The voice cast also does a wonderful job with each of their characters. While Brian Bloom’s gravelly voice can be annoying at times, you push through the annoying sound, because you are invested in his character and what he’s fighting for. I think the one that steals the show is Nina Franoszek as the bad guy. She brings a delightful yet disturbing character to life, and makes Irene Engel one of the more intimidating villains of 2017. The music is action-packed, atmospheric, and just gets the good blood pumping when you are being a savage individual burning down Nazis while riding a giant robotic creature through New Orleans. Mick Gordon returns as the composer, and a lot of his tracks fit the mood perfectly, from gunning down Nazis, to B.J. going back to his old home in Texas. Then again, since he is the guy behind 2016’s Doom, 2013’s Killer Instinct, 2017’s Prey, and Lawbreakers, then you should not be surprised this guy is as good as he is.

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If I had to complain about something, I feel like the game could have done a little more to spice up the gameplay. Now, the levels are varied, and you do get to do something fun and memorable, like the previously mentioned New Orleans level, going to Venus for an acting gig in a film directed by Hitler, and starting the game in a wheel chair, but I wish there was more to it than just story, stealth, and shooting. I was hoping for some kind of boss fight that happened from time to time, but they never really arrived. I know the previous game didn’t have that many, but since I also got done playing South Park: The Fractured but Whole and with how many bosses that game had, it made me wish The New Colossus had a few. They also introduce new mechanics at around the third act, and they don’t really add too much. I think they help more with killing specific army generals, but I never used them. Plus, they give you a choice to only choose one, but you can find the other two while going through the special side-missions. I just haven’t really been a fan of how this game handles choice. Sure, some things do change, but that’s only at the beginning of the game. You can also go on side-quests to help members of your crew out, but I never really saw any reward for doing so.

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While it might not have the shock and surprise power that the first game had, and it has some clunky elements, The New Colossus is fantastic. It’s easily a great sequel in an already impressive relaunch of the franchise. It’s got enough content to warrant the price of entry, and it’s also a fun game I could see myself playing again. Yes, it does have DLC and a season pass, but thankfully, you can wait and see how the DLC turns out before buying it. I would rather deal with a game that has a season pass or traditional DLC than a game riddled with microtransactions or forced-in multi-player. It’s easily one of the best shooters of this console generation, and I can’t wait to see how they put this game on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. I’m glad this game didn’t suffer sequelitis problems, and I will be happy to keep playing it, enjoying it, and recommending it to anyone up for some fun action.

This game gets an 8 out of 10.

430: Maize

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

(This game is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $20)

Being weird can give you a proper foot in the door when you are an indie game. Due to how many are coming out these days, it’s hard to get yourself noticed, unless you get really good word of mouth, have some budget for advertising, or you have a hook to your game. Maize, by developer Finish Line Games, has that hook. I mean, how much weirder do you have to be than sentient British corn? However, how weird can you be before you get tired of it being just weird and nothing else? Well, let’s find out.

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Maize is a first-person puzzle game, where you play as an unknown individual who was left outside a forgotten and abandoned farm, run by two brothers who were trying to concoct some unusual experiments. The main goal of the game is to explore the land, and find out what exactly happened, all the while encountering some truly strange characters. You walk around finding items to solve some puzzles that are used to open new areas that are either locked by actual doors, or blocked by a bunch of boxes left by the talking corn. You will be traveling through the corn fields, into the farm house, and into a mysterious underground layer. And, that’s all you do. The puzzles range from pretty easy, to more challenging puzzles that might require some old Sierra Adventure game-style knowledge to solve. The overall game will take about four hours, and the only thing you can really do is collect some items that give backstory to the overall situation in which you found yourself. Outside of that, there is no real reason to replay the game.

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Graphically, it looks good. It uses the Unreal Engine well, and the animation on the corn beings and the characters in general are well done. I did encounter some graphical glitches, but they were not frequent during my time playing it on PlayStation 4. I will however say that this entire game does look like a slightly higher quality PlayStation 3 budget game. I mean, that doesn’t super bother me, but it’s noticeable. The voice work and the comedic aspects are what really bring this game’s presentation up a point or two. I enjoyed hearing the corn beings being funny, and their voice actors bringing the characters to life. The game also has a minimal soundtrack, and while I don’t remember much of it, I was creeped out at times. Yeah, for such a weird game, you do sometimes get to a point where the sounds of the factory or the outside world do bring some unease to the playthrough.

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Sadly, being weird is simply not enough to hide the flaws. For one, I found no reason to replay the game again after one playthrough. Maybe I would play it again if I wanted to show a friend who hasn’t seen it, but after finishing the short campaign, I never felt like “oh boy, I want to play this again”. I know this is something I have brought up time and time again recently, but when games like Golf Story and SteamWorld Dig 2 are giving me reasons to replay their games, then I’m glad I got a code for this and didn’t spend money on it. I know price and replay value can be subjective talking points, but when there isn’t a whole lot to Maize besides its odd setting and repetitive backtracking puzzles, then I think it warrants a mention. I also found the robotic teddy bear to be really annoying. He doesn’t do much beside constantly insulting you for being stupid. It was funny and weird the first hour or so, but it then got tiring. I don’t know if this is true or not, but to me, it felt like they had a good idea for a weird adventure game, but then didn’t put the effort into making it interesting all throughout the game.

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Maize is fine. I don’t really have an urge to play it again, but I have played worse games than Maize. If you can get it for cheap, then I recommend doing so, but I don’t want to keep it on my PlayStation 4, when I could be using Maize’s space for a better game. Check it out if you want something weird and sort of funny, but I would recommend just picking up Firewatch.

This game gets a 5 out of 10.

I'm Blacklisting Certain Games

black01 (If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

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2017 started off with some really fantastic games during the first quarter of the year. You had Yakuza Zero, Resident Evil 7, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nier: Automata, Dragon Quest Heroes II, and Persona 5 to name a few. That’s not even counting the slew of fantastic indie games that have been taking up more and more of my time these days. Sadly, it seems like after the halfway point of the year, some incredibly disgusting things started to happen. Games that I was looking forward to were coming out of the woodwork with really despicable, greedy, undeniably shady, and should probably be illegal-by-law tactics within them. These practices come in the form of loot boxes and microtransactions that cost real world money. I mean, these things have been around from maybe 2012 to now, but for some reason, the industry decided to go full force on making sure that your $60 purchase just wasn’t enough to make the developer and publisher money. What games inspired this article? Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars Battlefront 2 (the new Battlefront, not the old one), 2K’s sports games, Destiny 2, Forza 7, and Activision just constantly shoving those things into a 10 year-old game that just got remastered. It’s gotten to a point that publishers are more willing than ever to make sure you spend money on those additional expendable purchases. Those one-time purchases that cost you money will be forced into these games, the games will be balanced out to make sure you spend more money than you honestly should, and you get the idea.

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It made me think really hard as a critic/content creator, and as said critic, as of right now, I will no longer be supporting games with loot boxes, microtransactions, and other really shady business ideals. That means I will not be reviewing the games listed above, or any future game that has microtransactions or loot boxes that require real world money. I will probably play these games secondhand through Gamefly, but I will not be talking about them or supporting them from this point on. I don’t want to give them the time of day when I would rather talk about games that have great value that aren’t asking for more money on top of your purchase of the game. I won’t be blacklisting season passes unless they pull something like Star Wars Battlefront did where they wanted you to spend $50 more on top of your $60+ purchase. I just don’t feel good in reviewing a game, and enjoying it, while these newly deep-rooted tactics are shoved into the game, changing how the game is played, and manipulating people who might have gambling problems, or people with more money than brains. I wish the developers didn’t have to suffer through this, since I know they work hard to deal with big publisher shenanigans, but if that has to happen, then so be it. I hate that I have to decline giving Shadow of War press, because I loved what I have seen of the game with the improved Nemesis System, the multitude of Orcs that have varying and amusing personalities, and so on, but sorry, I won’t be buying or reviewing your game. I hate that I won’t be reviewing Assassin’s Creed Origins, since I love the setting and the gameplay of it, but sorry, you won’t be getting a review from me. I might check them out down the line, but that will be more my own personal time with the game, than for reviewing purposes.

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These studios and publishers act like they need more money from consumers, since buying an already expensive game in an already expensive hobby is simply not enough anymore, when I just don’t believe that garbage they are spewing. If a $60, $80, or more purchase is not enough, then maybe, just maybe, you should stop bloating up your ridiculously expensive budgets on the game and marketing. I don’t believe them when they say they need more money. EA makes billions every year off their sports games. If they need more money when Fifa makes $800 million, then that’s scary. It helps that some games and studios know how to balance out budgets and make sure they are not in the red when a game doesn’t do well, unlike EA that takes no blame for the failure of its games, and instead swallows up developers and blames them.

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So, yeah, I might be a smaller reviewer than some, but I will be making a stand right now. I will not review games that you have to buy, and have loot boxes, microtransactions, and other shady elements. This means, that I will not review most big budget third-party games, and will instead talk about more indie titles and first-party titles. People can argue that, as of right now, these controversies over loot boxes and microtransactions aren’t hurting them, but the gaming industry is super short-sighted, and we have seen what happens when they get too big for their pants, and we watch them crash and burn. I hope my stance and my reasoning for this will be taken to heart, and others will make other similar vows. Hopefully, people will wise up, fight, and argue back against them. I know it may seem like nothing is happening now, but just keep fighting, and hopefully, things will change. Or maybe the entire industry will crash and burn, but I hope for change to happen.

429: 9 Year Special: Golf Story

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

So far, my experiences with sports game reviews have been more miss than hit. I want to be able to fully enjoy them, but I don’t find the gameplay from more simulation-focused sports games all that fun, and then you have indie developers that want to make retro/arcade-style sports games, but totally forget why they are fondly remembered. The last true sports game I reviewed was a hockey game called Old Time Hockey, and I didn’t have fun with that one. This is because it’s all the more important that when I find one that I like, it sticks with me, and it makes me want to talk about it, and make sure other people get to play it. It’s why I love WWE All Stars, but didn’t enjoy Project Cars. Thankfully, when I got a code to review Golf Story, I installed it on my Nintendo Switch, and found myself playing hours of it at a time. Yeah, Golf Story is really good.

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Golf Story revolves around a young man who dreams of being the best golfer around. He goes to the golf course that he trained at as a child, and sadly, it has seen better days. It’s now run by a sleazy individual, and unknowing to you for some reason, you decide to help him out anyway to get the course more famous. You then meet a slew of expert golfers and work your way to becoming number one! The game’s story can be touching, but for the mass majority of the experience, it’s more comedic than serious. It’s touching and engaging enough to keep you invested, but you will definitely be staying for the laughs.

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Golf Story is, well, a golf RPG. Here is how this works. The small, but expansive overworld you run around in will have multiple golf course locations with their own quirks, courses, and story-based quests and side quests. Your goal in the main story will have you competing across the different courses, and beating opponents by upgrading and playing with different sets of clubs. So, is that all you do? No! You solve every single problem in this game by playing golf! Need to feed the fish? Golf swing some food into the lake. Need to return some eggs to a bird? Golf swing their eggs back to them. What about helping out this ghost guy open up his own golf course? You guessed it, golf! Even the game admits that it’s a tad silly that you solve everything by playing golf. However, that is not the only type of golf you get to play. You also have disc golf, drone golf, and miniature golf! Even on top of all that, you have an ‘easy to set up’ local multi-player mode where you can play with friends on your couch. For an indie sports game, that’s hugely impressive and it has a lot of worthwhile content that isn’t pulling a 2K Games where they are forcing you to purchase loot boxes and microtransactions.

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golf04

Golf Story’s biggest achievement, besides its 16-bit art style and variety in gameplay, is the massive amount of personality in terms of the characters and surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, the 16-bit-style graphics are great. I love seeing the trees blow in the wind, everyone just idly moving up and down, the way the game captures 3D space when you hit a ball when nothing that I saw was in 3D, and the very vibrant color pallet. However, the humans don’t really have a lot to them, but the developer uses their text boxes when they speak to show their personalities. Texts boxes will move around, and with font in all different sizes definitely show off more character to the individual golfers. It just shows going that extra mile can help give your game some life. The music is also pretty fantastic. It’s more calming than anything else, but each golf location has a unique and laid-back vibe.

golf05
golf05

My one major problem with Golf Story is that the game itself doesn’t really do a good job at explaining some of the mechanics. I literally looked around on the net at what I was supposed to be doing, and for a game that has a pretty solid tutorial section, it does a poor job at telling you how to do other things. I also found myself not loving a lot of the side activities. I enjoyed the main quests, the mini golf, and drone golf, but any time I think about doing disc golf, I cringe and hesitate because the controls never really stuck to me. I tried countless times to get it down, but I couldn’t find myself having fun. I get where they were going with it, but I never found it entertaining.

golf06
golf06

Overall, I really loved Golf Story. It’s easily one of the best indie games of the year, and one of the Nintendo Switch’s best games. If you have a Nintendo Switch, I would highly recommend making this one of your primo purchases for the console. It offers personality, variety, and fun gameplay for a 3rd of the price of most big-budget games. You will definitely be having many nice shots with this sports game.

This game gets a 9 out of 10.

428: Snake Pass

snake01
snake01

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

As much as I love supporting games with unique or interesting ideas, you have to really think them out, or else you might end up with a game with a cool concept that’s not fully fleshed out. It’s always so disappointing when a game has something truly unique, and I do mean it in the definition of the word, but squanders it by not going all out with the concept. That is where Snake Pass comes into play. Developed and published by Sumo Digital, Snake Pass was one of the more hyped indie games from earlier this year. When it was released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, it got a pretty solid reception with people praising its visuals and the unique control style, but it was also criticized for its difficulty and check-point system. So, where do I slither on this situation? Let’s find out.

snake02
snake02

Snake Pass is a 3D physics-based platformer/puzzle game where you control Noodle, a snake that must slither and constrict his way across multiple levels, putting three magical gems back where they belong in each level. The main driving force behind Snake Pass is how you control the main character. You will slither, wrap around, slide, and constrict your way through a slew of levels. It’s a game that is supposedly using real-life snake physics to make it feel like you are controlling an actual snake. The main goal in each level is to pick up three colored gems, and to place them back at each level’s altar. Along the way, you will also probably want to collect special gold coins and these weird blue bubbles that add on to the overall passing grade of the level you just completed. The game is rather difficult, as the controls take some getting used to, and the puzzle/platforming sections can be tricky, due to the physics of your character. It’s not like other physics-based games where it’s about being wacky and silly with the physics. Instead, you will need to learn how to get used to the controls, and then find the right way to slither your way through challenges. The game will not be very long, and will take you a couple of hours to beat.

snake03
snake03

Graphically, this game is beautiful. I know it looks better on other consoles resolution-wise, but what makes the game looks great to me is the vibrant color pallet and the cartoony art style. It’s appealing to look at, and like everyone else has said, it looks like something Rare would have made. Speaking of Rare, David Wise, a veteran video game composer, did the music for the game, and while it’s definitely more atmospheric than whimsical, it does help calm one while solving a tricky puzzle. It shows that amazing music by a super-talented composer can make tough gaming moments tolerable.

snake06
snake06

 The biggest complaint I have about the game is its unique control set-up. It’s simply not friendly or easy to get into, if you are only casually familiar with games. It’s focus on physics and only a few puzzle designs make the game a tough pill to swallow. It’s a lot of fun, and it definitely does keep me wanting to play it, even if I’m angry at it, but it’s still a tough game to simply sit down and play. I think as an indie developer, you should try and get your game to be as playable to as many people as possible. Don’t bog them down with stuff that would make it a polarizing experience. I think they put the controls first over the game being 100% accessible to as many people as possible. It’s a brutal game to play, and it can be a tad repetitive, due to there not being too much variety among the levels. Sometimes, you will get a little mix-up of mechanics, like strong winds, levers you need to wrap yourself around, and lava, but they don’t really do much with the concept of this game. There are no bosses or an interesting story to break up the repetition.

snake05
snake05

I might be bashing on this game a lot, but I did enjoy it. I just think its controls should have been more streamlined, in the sense of being less about physics and more about accessibility. I don’t have all the time in the world to understand the complexity of how a snake moves to fully enjoy it. If this game seems like something you would love, then by all means, support the developer by buying this game. It can really be fun, but you might have to sit through some tough spots along the way. Maybe this snake can shed its tough and unappealing skin, and do better in a sequel. I would love to get back into Noodle the snake’s world.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.

427: Galaxy of Pen & Paper

pen01
pen01

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!) I may not be a full-blown PC gamer, but one of my favorite games on PC that I think is fantastic is Knights of Pen and Paper. Developed by Behold Studios, the same dev team behind the awesome gem Chroma Squad, it was a charming indie RPG that reminded me of the few times I did play D&D and Pathfinders. I recently got contacted by the developer that they were making a new follow-up to this game, and it’s called Galaxy of Pen and Paper. So, is it a better game? Or is this just Knights of Pen and Paper, but with sci-fi elements? Let’s find out.

pen02
pen02

Galaxy of Pen and Paper is a sci-fi-themed turn-based RPG where you gather up to four players, create your own dungeon master, and go on an epic space journey to save the galaxy. You will get to choose your race and class that range from mechanics, gun soldiers, and bounty hunters. You will travel to different planets, completing quests that are optional, and ones that will be crucial to progressing the story. Like in the previous game, Knights of Pen and Paper, you could scale the difficulty of some of the missions by adding more enemies of one type, or adding different enemies per battle. This way, if you want to risk it, you can get more gold by completing tougher battles. You will also be expanding on said worlds and quests by finding special class characters that you have to go help out. You also have the usual RPG trappings of experience points with buying new abilities, and buying equipment to make your characters stronger. So, what’s new? Well, this time, you will have a ship to fly around and get into simple yet strategic battles with other ships. You take turns using energy points, and you have to choose wisely, since these battles can also be tough. The side quests are dependent on a “famous”, meter and each time you die, you lose some “famous” points. You definitely have a good lengthy adventure ahead of you with about 12+ hours of content and many more hours to add onto that with side quests, grinding, and the different variation of characters that you can use in the game.

pen03
pen03

Graphically, this game looks great. It has wonderful pixel art that’s a vast improvement over Knights of Pen and Paper, the 3D designs have a charming look to them, and I never encountered any hint of slowdown or bugs during my time playing the game. The music was catchy and upbeat that kept me pumped with its techno vibes. The game is also a tad silly with references, 4th wall jokes, and is just a goofy space adventure. While a comedic space adventure is nothing new, since we have the Space Quest franchise to thank for that, Galaxy of Pen and Paper is still a pretty funny game. Comedy is subjective of course, but I think most people will find a couple of good laughs from the game’s writing.

pen04
pen04

So, what’s wrong with Galaxy of Pen and Paper? Well, as much as I like this turn-based RPG, it gets a tad repetitive. You will be doing the same thing of fighting enemies, doing quests, harvesting materials to sell, and it can get grind-heavy. Doesn’t help either that finding materials are based on a game of luck if you will get something. And while the story can be entertaining, it’s also very light, and I found myself checking out at certain points. The ship battles are a nice idea, but they were not really a lot of fun, and they seemed to be random in how smart the AI will be while fighting them. I feel like this game does a few things to speed up progress, but it’s also held back by design choices that make it a game that overstays its welcome.

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pen05

In general, I think Galaxy of Pen and Paper is a great RPG, and a solid time to be had. I don’t think I would get it at full price, but if you can get this on a good sale, then I highly recommend purchasing it. If you liked Behold Studio’s previous efforts like Knights of Pen and Paper and Chroma Squad, then I would buy the game to support the developer. Just be prepared for a wacky space-fueled adventure!

This game gets a 7/10

412: Headlander

  (If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I got really excited for this year’s PlayStation PLAY 2016 line-up. Over the past couple of years, it always felt hit-or-miss in terms of the games. Some would be brand new titles, while the rest were more or less PC ports of indie games. This year though, they are all brand new, and quite frankly, some of the most anticipated games of this year for me. I am getting review copies for two of the games, and I’ll make sure to make note of which ones I do get in my reviews, but for now, I think it’s time we step into Double Fine Productions’ newest hit game, Headlander. This is easily one of the oddest games of 2016, where you play as a head inside a jet-propelled helmet. It was published by Adult Swim Games, and is the first of the four titles released for PLAY 2016. So then, does this Headlander land successfully as a game, or should they have maybe stayed in the vacuums of space?

Like I mentioned above, the story puts you in the, well, head of the last human in the galaxy. You start out in a ship called the Starcophagus, and then you are broken out by a helpful AI program, and are sent off to stop an evil robotic overlord that has essentially made everyone transfer their body and mind to robotic bodies. The most interesting part of this game’s setting and story is the tone. It still has a lot of that great humor Double Fine Productions is known for, but it’s also a bit more serious. It’s probably one of the more serious stories they have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed a lot at the dialogue and the voice work, but it’s interesting to see Double Fine do something a tiny bit more serious.

Headlander is a 2.5D metroidvania-style action game, where the main mechanic of the game and your main form of traversal is your flying head. You sound pretty weak by that description, but the game has a fun and unique mechanic. Any time you see a robot, good or bad, you can essentially vacuum off their head and land your head on their body. You will need to do this if you are going to survive the metallic locations that you are going to be floating around in. You will need to use different colored robots to open specific doors, and be able to fight back against other robots. You will even need to use your head-hacking ability to solve some side-quests, like finding a dog, or taking down multi-colored robots. The combat is very much like the gunplay you see in games like The Fall, where you use the right analog stick to aim your gun. Along with being able to steal robot bodies, you can also gain upgrades to move faster, be able to break through barriers, and slow down time to get through tricky situations. The overall game will take you about six hours if you want to get through the entire thing, but add on an hour or more if you decide to find all the upgrades. It’s a pretty solid game in terms of difficulty, and you will probably die a couple of times, due to how hectic the game can be when lasers are hitting the fan.

Graphically, Headlander captures that cheesy, funky sci-fi vibe that the 70s and part of the early 80s brought to the table, with a lot of disco-ish style choices thrown in throughout the game with the design of the robots and the color pallet. The game, for the most part, ran pretty smoothly, with slowdown happening only once during my time playing through the game. The humor of the game is like I have mentioned above, a bit more subdued their usual outings, but when the jokes do land or the writing gets full of quips and clever, it’s all that Double Fine Production humor that you are used to, and love. The voice cast provides a lot of great talent, including the main villain being voiced by Phil Proctor of Rugrats fame as Howard DeVille, the friendly AI ERL voiced by Jon Lipow, MAPPY was voiced by Invader Zim himself, Richard Horvitz, Nika Futterman, David Kaye, and Steve Blum to name a few. The music was also well done, capturing that vibe that you would get in films by John Carpenter or the recent Netflix series, Stranger Things.

Unfortunately, a few bad circuits did pop up with my playtime with Headlander. I found the game could have used a bit more variety in terms of gameplay. It doesn’t really kick in until the halfway point. It would have been nice to see more bosses that took advantage of the mechanics given to you. You literally get two major bosses, and that’s it. The action screen can also be a bit too hectic at times, with too much visual stimulation.

Headlander definitely starts the PLAY 2016 off strong, and is easily one of my favorite games from this year. It’s funny, creative, and overall fun to play. It’s worth the price of admission. If you love the quirky Double Fine Productions-style of gaming, or metroidvania-style games in general, then you will fit right in with the company’s newest game. I guess you can say this game will cause heads to roll with joy and laughter. Sorry about the pun.

This game gets an 8 out of 10.

426: GNOG

gnog01
gnog01

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. I did get a review copy of this game, but got no financial compensation for reviewing the game. I got the code and nothing else. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

While not as big of a discussion as it was a year or so ago, replayability has become a factor into how I grade games. Is it fun? Does it make me want to replay the game again? Is there enough to warrant picking it up a second time? I bring this up because I have recently been on a streak of games that have been hit-and-miss with this element in mind. Sure, some games are meant to be played once to capture the magic and emotional power of the first time you play it. On the other hand, I don’t like spending money on anything movie or game-related where I’m only going to touch it once. So, why do I bring this up? It’s because a good puzzle game has me conflicted with this element. Today’s review is going to be of GNOG, a 3D puzzle game published by Double Fine Presents, and developed by Ko_op. So, how is this puzzling experience? Well, let’s dive in.

gnog02
gnog02

GNOG is, well, like I mentioned, a puzzle game. The main goal is to tackle nine different puzzles, and beat the game. The interesting and most stand-out aspect of this game is the puzzle design. They are large heads with multiple little trinkets that you will need to rotate, slide, and push to solve each of the nine levels’ main gimmicks. You will be tackling heads that are themed around robots, frogs, sweets, theft, rockets, and so on. It feels like a virtual version of those Polly Pocket and Mighty Max toys that were big back in the 90s. Each puzzle will take you about a few minutes, if you know what you are doing. Every level actually gave me some push back, until I found out that they will give you subtle clues as to how to solve each problem. I got really addicted, since it made me feel like I was tinkering with otherworldly gadgets. The game will take about two hours or so to finish, and there isn’t much else to the game. The only other memorable element is that you can play this game in VR, and it definitely feels like that was the case. It’s perfectly playable, but you can quickly tell this was made for VR.

gnog03
gnog03

Graphically, the game’s best part, besides the puzzle design, is the visuals. This is a bright, colorful, visual overload of colors and personality. Everything looks fantastic, and it reminds me of other games like Loot Rascals and the Yellow Submarine film with its colors. It’s not a forgettable game in terms of visuals. It’s probably one of the most stand-out looking games of 2017. The music has calm techno beats that make playing the game a relaxing time. It’s not meditation-style relaxing like Flower, but I can see myself playing this game just to listen to the music.

gnog04
gnog04

So, what’s wrong? Well, that replayability comes to mind. I enjoyed my time playing the game, and I think it’s a fantastic game, but I can’t see myself really wanting to pick it back up. I know the puzzle solutions, so it would just take me even less time to solve everything. I think I also bring it up as an issue, because this game is $15, and I don’t know if I can recommend spending top dollar for such a short experience. That is, unless you want to play a visually pleasing puzzle game on your PlayStation VR. I would have liked more levels to play through, since the very last one was my favorite, but before I knew it, the game was over. No unlockable levels or level packs. It’s just nine levels and that’s it. There’s not even a multi-player mode with who can solve the puzzles the fastest. I get that the studio that made this is more art-focused, but sometimes, I want to buy a game or play a game that has a lot going on for it, and not just nine really nice puzzles and nothing else.

gnog05
gnog05

While I do complain about the replayability and lack of content, I did love GNOG. I think it’s a splendid and charming game that anyone with a PC or PlayStation 4 should purchase. I mean, if they are into puzzle games that is. I don’t know if I would buy it at full price, but if this is your type of game, then you should have no worries in spending cash on it. I would also like to see this game pop up on other consoles like the Switch or on Ipads.  If you like puzzle games, games with personality and unique gameplay, then I definitely recommend checking out GNOG.

This game gets a 7 out of 10.