430: Maize

corn01
corn01

(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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corn02

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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corn03

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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corn04

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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corn05

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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golf01

(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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golf02

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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golf03

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

425: Skylar and Plux: Adventure on Clover Island

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sky01

(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 don’t get why my slew of reviews this year have been mostly underwhelming or above-average games. Maybe I am just not reviewing or tackling the right games, when I have played some amazing games like Nier Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Dragon Quest Heroes II. Maybe it’s because I was looking forward to certain games, and they ended up being disappointing. I think that is what happened with Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island. This 3D platformer was developed by Right Nice Games and Grip Digital (for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), and was a recent release. I saw a lot of positive press about this game, and saw that it had some reviews speaking kindly about it. Unfortunately, this is one of those games that I really don’t get the positive reception for. Let’s dive in.

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sky02

The story revolves around a humanoid cat named Skylar. She was captured by the game’s main villain, and was given a heavy robotic arm. She, of course, escapes to a planet below, which the big bad antagonist has taken over. Skylar meets up with a small bird named Plux, and the two decide to help the planet and stop the evil force from taking it over. I have way too many comments to talk about the story at this point, so please make sure to read the criticisms side of my review.

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sky03

Skylar & Plux is a 3D platformer, where you traverse around a small hub world and three large levels. Your main goal is to find three special orbs in a snow/forest, desert/fire, and machine world. In each of the worlds, you will find special items to help you along your way, like a jet pack to reach further off platforms, a magnet to pick up metal balls and enemies, and a time orb that lets you slow down time to get across certain gaps. Each world that you find these special items in will have their own special puzzles and platforming challenges. The only real side goal to the game is to use your special items to help find captured/caged villagers. Outside of that, the game will only take you about two hours to beat. There is unfortunately no real replay value.

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sky04

Graphically, the game looks nice. It has vibrant colors, it ran smoothly for the most part, and the designs are not terrible. Everything looks like it was made for that world, and nothing looks out of place. The music was probably the best element to the presentation. I loved a lot of the more grand songs used while platforming, and it helped bring me into that game’s world. It felt like I was on a heroic adventure, and I needed to step forth and take down the evil force.

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sky05

Well, let’s take apart this game, and I’ll explain why I really didn’t like it that much. First off, the biggest issue, and where all other issues stem from, is the fact this game feels incomplete. I don’t mean in a glitch or buggy way, but it feels like they had a base idea, but never expanded on it. It’s way too easy to just breeze through this game, and the only time you get hurt was because the combat in this game is terrible. It feels floaty and unsatisfying. Pretty much, they took the combat engine from the first Jak & Daxter game, and put it into this game, but without sprucing it up. The only time the combat got fun was when I was able to use my magnet ability to use one of the three enemies to hurt the others. The controls are also a bit stiff, which makes some platforming parts feel unsatisfying to traverse, and there are some obvious choices left out, like no ledge grab. There is just not enough here to make for an overall satisfying experience. You basically have three large levels, platforming, only three enemy types, and only one boss. It feels hollow and soulless, as while it might want to be like a PlayStation 2-era platformer, it doesn’t feel like one. Oh, and Plux is the most useless character I have ever seen. He does nothing, and I really do mean nothing. He only spouts obnoxious catch phrases that are trying to make him sound appealing, but it once again feels like they had an idea, but didn’t know how to execute it.

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sky06

The plot really isn’t there. I couldn’t give a hoot about what was going on, because it was so barebones, like the rest of the game. Twists happen with no reason to be surprised or to spout “what a twist!” It’s so basic with characters that have no real personality to them. Skylar is a silent protagonist, but there is no reason for her to be one. She doesn’t have any chemistry with anyone, and Plux has such a rushed story arc, that it’s unintentionally funny. I honestly 100% did not care about anyone in this game. I didn’t care for the overall story, the characters, the creatures I was saving, and the ending. I felt like I went through a whole lot of nothing.

I feel badly that I didn’t like this game that much. It’s honestly not horrible. It’s not buggy, broken, filled with microtransactions, or feels cynically motivated. It just feels under-developed, with a layout that never truly feels fleshed out or interesting. I honestly can’t recommend picking this game up at the $15 asking price, and would recommend getting it in a sale. Hopefully, my next review will be of something more stellar than the last couple of reviews. Sorry Right Nice Games, maybe Skylar & Plux can be a better experience with a sequel.

This game gets a 5 out of 10

424: Prey

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prey01

(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!)

There is sadly nothing quite like checking out a game that is just in the middle. It’s not good, it’s not terrible, but it’s just so meh. Usually, I will at the very least remember when I have played a super awesome game like Dragon Quest Heroes II or an incredibly terrible game like Yasai Ninja. Playing a game that’s in the middle just leaves me with nothing to remember. That’s how I felt when I played the new Bethesda-published game, Prey. Developed by Arkane Studios, the team behind Dishonored, Prey is an odd reboot that took the place of the canceled sequel to the first Prey. While it has nothing to do with the cancelled sequel, I can’t help but wonder why we couldn’t have gotten the sequel instead of a reimagining that has barely anything to do with the original. Well, let’s dive in and see what the damage is.

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prey02

You play as a male or female Morgan Yu, a scientist who is set to go into space to a station called Talos I. After taking some tests to be qualified for such a task, the scientists testing Morgan get attacked by oily black blob monsters known as mimics. You then wake back up in your sky-high apartment, and get a call from some unknown individual telling you to get out of your apartment. You grab a wrench and break open the window to find that you are actually in space in the Talos 1. Unfortunately, the station is now mostly deserted, with the monsters running around and maybe a few survivors. It is up to you to find out what exactly is going on and to find out what is going on with you. The story is set up with the philosophy that the overall plot is barely the focus, with a lot of what happens hidden behind backstories found in recordings and emails. Actually, that’s how you find some of your side quests. It can be interesting at times, and when you first break out of your apartment, it can be quite shocking and trippy, but I have more problems with the story that I want to share later.

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prey05

Prey is a first-person sci-fi horror game, with a lot going on that’s like a bucket list of what were in other games. You have crafting/blueprints for items, inventory management, survival elements, horror elements of facing the monsters and corrupted machines, exploring the massive station of Talos I, first-person shooter/combat elements, customizable abilities, and suits that will help you traverse the rather large station. There are definitely a couple of elements to watch out for. You have a stamina bar, armor degradation, and a meter below your health that will lower if you run the stamina meter low. The game is basically very open-ended, but it’s not an open-world game. I wouldn’t call it Metroidvania either. You will be able to find keys, hack systems, and repair machines to help you get through the massive station. Along the way, you might be wondering why you are scrounging around for garbage that is filling up that precious inventory slot. Well, you will come across blueprints and machines that will craft special items with said junk, which can help you, including weapons, ammo, and whatever else you can find blueprints for. If you wanted to, you can get special alien powers, like being able to transform into any items in your area or an energy blast. However, if you decided to invest into those powers, better beware that turrets will shoot at you. The one thing this game can’t lie about is its length. You get about 20 or so hours. The replay value comes in the form of different builds and playing the game from a different point of view. Though, in some regards, you might not want to do that. But I will get to that issue later.

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prey03

Graphically, the game does look great. While Talos I might be a bit sterile and fancy looking for a station that just got ransacked by a slew of shapeshifting blobs, the game is consistently good looking. Slick graphics, very little performance issues on the PlayStation 4, and the animation on the characters and aliens were pretty smooth. The voice acting is well done. I found everyone included in the cast to do a good job. It’s not super corny or trying too hard. It a good balance of characters you would probably find in a lot of sci-fi films. The music is probably my favorite aspect of the game. When the music by composer Mick Gordon is playing, it really sets the mood. Then again, this is the same guy behind Season 1 & 2 of the new Killer Instinct, 2016’s Doom, and 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. Granted, some of the sound mixing was rather terrible, and the horror elements were undone by the music blaring up when you were by the monsters, but luckily, some of it was patched over to make it a more atmospheric and dreadful (in a good way) experience.

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prey06

To me, the biggest problem with Prey is that it has an identity crisis. It doesn’t really know what it wants to be, because besides the hacking and non-melee stuff, everything else is pretty subpar. It has stealth mechanics, but they are not fleshed out. They have gunplay, but it’s not tight, or satisfying to use a gun. The game wants you to play as you want, but it really does want you to play it in a specific way. It has elements of System Shock, Deus Ex, Bioshock, but with the exceptions I listed above, it doesn’t do them all that well. It wants to also be a bit more like a horror survival game, but the music, while pretty good, makes it way too obvious when you are in a room full of the boring forgettable monsters. I wouldn’t mind fighting these repetitive and generic blobs if the combat was any fun, but until you upgrade to a certain point, combat is a horrible way to start a build in the beginning hours.

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prey04

Yeah, that’s another problem; you can start off the game woefully in the red if you choose to customize your character down a certain path. They say you can literally play this game however you want, but there are definitely routes that you can take that will be easier for you as a player. Now, some could argue that’s part of the charm and consequence, but at the same time, other games have had this same problem, like Elder Scrolls: Battlespire, and yet no one gave that game’s problems a free pass. If you really want to be able to play however you want, then you need to make that 100% possible. This is why it’s problematic when games offer you the idea that you can play however you want, but then punish you for not playing it one specific way. You can get cool abilities, like being able to shapeshift and mimic other items like the monsters do, but if the melee combat and the gameplay is not doing it for me, then why should I care that I can do cool stuff like that?

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prey07

I could honestly get over these problems if the story was any good, but I just couldn’t find myself getting fully invested the entire time I was playing. I was more worried about scavenging for items to make stuff, ammo for guns, and stuff to repair my suit than the actual story. I honestly forced myself through the game. Now, some side-stories can be interesting, and to be fair, the overall idea of Prey’s world and story are not terrible. I even liked some of the trippy beginning hours, when you realize your character was possibly living a lie, and how you become more paranoid in terms of who you trust throughout the game. Who’s being honest, and who’s lying? But these types of games usually forget that while you can have backstory and lore behind the scenes, the main story still needs to grab you. What hurts the story experience more is the fact that this game’s side-quests are pretty much you walking from one place to another to find something or turn something back on and then going all the way back. Not the most riveting side-quests and especially not great ones compared to the quests you go through in Horizon Zero Dawn, Dragon Quest Heroes II, and Nier Automata.

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prey08

Am I saying that Prey is not that great of a game? Personally, I think it’s just okay. It’s not the worst, since a few games have already popped up that can be considered the worst of 2017, but I personally didn’t care for it. Of course, if you like everything about this game, then that’s perfectly okay as well. This review is just my opinion, and in my opinion, I would have rather them just reboot the cancelled sequel from the ground up, instead of reimagining the entire game from the ground up with no connections or reason to call it Prey, besides cynical copyright holding. If you like this game or think anything in this review sounds appealing, then you can buy the game or rent it. I would probably wait for a sale, but that’s just me. I feel like Prey could have been more interesting if it simply focused on certain elements instead of trying to do everything within the kitchen sink. I would probably consider it one of the few blunders so far of 2017. Maybe it should have mimicked a more interesting game.

This game gets a 5 out of 10.

423: Old Time Hockey

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old01

(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 bet it’s kind of weird to see a sports game review pop up from me. I have mentioned in the past, and as you can see from my list of over 400 reviews, barely 1% of them are about sports games. I don’t find a lot of fun in them, since they try to be more realistic and try to make accurate simulations of the actual sport. I like good simple fun sports games, where the controls are simple, and not a whole lot gets in the way. It makes for an easier experience to get into, and one where I could definitely get my friends into playing. From time to time, we have seen developers try to bring back the days of NFL Blitz, where it was an over-the-top version of said sport, but they either come off too simple, or don’t go crazy enough in how wacky the games can get. It’s underwhelming, since it seems like no one can think beyond “simple controls and being slightly goofy”. So, that is why Old Time Hockey caught my interest. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I played a hockey game. This indie game is developed by V7 Entertainment, and it boasts that it brings back that arcade-style gameplay people loved back in the day. So, does it pull it off? Or are you better off ignoring yet another failed attempt at an arcade-style sports game?

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If you have played any kind of hockey game, then you should probably be familiar with Old Time Hockey. It’s a five-on-five match, where you use simple controls, and try to get the puck in the other team’s goal. You can whack players, and even get into fights using two-button combat, as well, with other players. I mean, it’s hockey, you know someone has to get upset and want to turn another player into paste. The controls are very easy to get into, with a couple of different options in terms of button placement. They even throw in a mode where you can play with one hand. The modes you play through are a story mode and an offline couch multi-player mode. Once you beat the story mode, you can unlock story mode+ where you can play as one of the ten teams you face off during the overall game.

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Graphically, and in the presentation side of the game, this is where Old Time Hockey shines. The graphics look like a PlayStation One/Nintendo 64 game with chunky-looking character models with simple animations. The colors and personality remind me of something that would have been right at home with the early Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It’s a punkish/rebellious vibe that had a cheesy charm to it that is welcoming and doesn’t feel like a game trying to be too meta with its arcade-style origins.

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Unfortunately, the problem this homage to arcade-style sports games has drags it down a lot. The controls are stiff. Yes, there was a patch released to the game pre-release to fix some of the issues with the controls, but it still didn’t feel satisfying to control. It feels sluggish, and when I think of arcade-style sports games, I think of fast-paced action and tight controls. It makes the experience worse when the AI is fairly stupid on your team, and will not do a single thing unless you take control of your other teammates. It has the skin of an arcade sports game, but not the heart or soul behind it. It’s a shame, since it’s not a bad game to play. Getting the puck to your opponent’s goal can be satisfying, and the game can be fun when the pieces fall in place and the AI on both sides are going at it, but unfortunately, that’s not all the time. The story mode is also hampered by this weird set of move-based goals, where you need to unlock moves, and perform them to progress through the story. I mean, winning isn’t enough, and these can’t be side goals? The tutorial is also no help. I don’t get why people treat tutorials as these horrible things. I get the anger when they hold your hand too much, but I rather a game hold my hand and help me understand how it all works, than be left in the dark with the game not even telling me how to switch players. Also, why do I need to lose my first match in the story mode? I know the intention is to make sure to show the player that my team is the terrible team that will be the underdog focus of the story mode, but I already knew I was the underdog team by the loading screen wipes and bits of backstory that would pop up before each game. Don’t force me to lose my first match!

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I was hoping Old Time Hockey would give me that fun sports game fix, but it was bogged down by bad design choices that really brought me out of the game. It has all the elements there for a great hockey game, but it ruins all those elements. I was worried that I would be the odd man out in saying how I am disappointed by this game, but by looking at other reviews, I can tell that I wasn’t the only one not having a fun time. Maybe a few patches could fix this, but first impressions are everything, and this game didn’t do a good job. It’s going to take a few more patches and redesigns to make it great. It’s only $11.99, but I would wait after some patches roll through, and maybe a sale to pick it up. Who knows, maybe you will enjoy it more than me, and if you do, that’s perfectly fine. I just had much higher hopes for more arcade-style sports games, since it seems like simulation-style sports games are what’s popular, and I really don’t like playing them. Maybe Mutant Football League will lift my spirits in the future.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.