Review: Where Are My Friends? (PS4)

WAMF_01.jpg

WAMF_PS4Don’t let the childlike look of its hand-drawn visuals fool you one bit. Where Are My Friends?  ($5.99) is going to absolutely break those gamers out there who take it for a spin expecting an easy Trophy hunt. Between the wordless storytelling that requires paying full attention when exploring the game’s point/click adventure segments, to some insane platforming sections, this one’s a hardcore challenge well disguised as a more light, family friendly affair. Actually, it may take an entire family to complete some of the fiercely tough sequences here, so get everyone together and maybe even the family pet can even give this a shot after everyone else fails.

My own reflexes aren’t as sharp these days, so at one point after discovering the somewhat challenging (okay, brutal) platforming sections, I actually made a phone call, packed up my PS4 and hoofed it over to a friend’s place so his 11-year old kid could do what I couldn’t. Let’s just say that kid earned his free pizza after that, but he also wanted me to note (and I quote): “This is one of the most crazy games I’ve ever played in my life, and I’m only 11!  You should pay me more next time!”  Hey, kid? There won’t be a next time (until the next time I get a game like this), and you didn’t get paid, per se (don’t child labor laws prevent that sort of thing?) . You’re a ringer, pal – you’re supposed to do your thing, do it well and zip it. Well, I didn’t say that, but I’m thinking he’s now thinking he’s getting pressed into service whenever I need some game-related help.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: Tiny Metal (PS4)

 

Console owning fans of turn-based strategy games, specifically the late, lamented Advance Wars and similar military themed titles set in fictional scenarios really haven’t had too much to cheer about (well, other than still having the ability to go back and replay those older games whenever they like). PlayStation-only owners have a handful of games like this, but Area35’s very solid Tiny Metal ($24.99) is the coolest and closest thing to Intelligent Systems’ games you can get on the PS4. It takes inspiration from Nintendo’s series (which needs a new version one of these days) and adds a few nice gameplay twists to the formula that keep the battles past the early tutorial maps pretty engaging overall.

There’s a story here that basically pits an initially small force of troops and hired mercenaries against a powerful nation’s military after their president’s plane is shot down over enemy territory and the mission is to find out if he, along with a great military hero traveling with him are still alive. The game is set up so you’re going to get lengthy static manga cut scenes pre- and post-mission with the occasional mid-mission break when the story wants to nudge in some more dialog. There’s a lot of back and forth communicating here and everyone is suitably wrought to overwrought as they sell their lines in pretty melodramatic fashion. Interestingly enough, You can only select English for in-battle squad commentary – the cut scenes are all subtitled. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you (especially if you like your games in their native language as much as possible and don’t mind subtitles).

Continue reading

TERA Online Headed to PS4/Xbox One April 3

After dabbling in a few too many online games on the PS4 for about a year plus, I’ve narrowed down my focus to the upcoming free TERA Online, developer Bluehole Inc. and publisher En Masse‘s successful PC MMO that’s finally headed to consoles on April 3, 2018. I had the great fortune to try the game on three occasions when it was in beta over the past few months and while the test phase was sometimes a bit wonky, as things were tweaked and polished based on user feedback, the experience became a great deal more enjoyable to the point it was hard to put down.

Key to the overall experience is the game’s real-time combat system that’s quite responsive using the PS4 controller and allows for plenty of creative offensive and defensive moves. Given the ferociousness of the enemies here, you’ll need to have fast reflexes as well as sufficient healing and buffs at the ready. The game won’t hesitate to hit back hard with creatures that just won’t quit until you’ve beaten them or vice versa, and if the beta is any indication, both solo and group players should feel quite at home.

Yours truly ended up recording way too many videos during the betas on my YouTube channel (go sign up and feel free to send me a friend request on PSN – my handle there is GeeLW), but my body is ready for the full game when it lands on PSN shortly. Those of you interested in playing TERA on consoles can go all in for free or snap up one of a fewFounder’s Pack options that will give you some cool gear, in game money and other fun stuff along with the ability to start playing a week early.

Alrighty, then. Guess I’ll (hopefully) see some of you online at some point. I’ll likely be soloing this for the most part (I’m liking that Mystic class a lot, but the Archer is solid as well), but I’ll certainly need assistance with the 5-player boss maps.

-GW

Review: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

If Yakuza 6 (available April 17 on PS4) is your first trip to Kiryu Kazuma’s world, fear not. As an option on the title screen, the game can fill you in with rundowns of the previous five entries with a series of cut scenes taken from previous installments. These cinemas not only get you well up to speed, they’ll very likely make you want to track down the older games at some point (well, you’ll also need a PS3 for three or four of the older titles). As for this latest installment, it’s brilliant, bittersweet and worth the time investment for plenty of reasons.

Kiryu’s journey takes him from Okinawa back to his old stomping (and kicking and punching) ground of Kamurocho with an eventual journey to Onomichi Jingaicho in Hiroshima. Par for the course, the many plot twists and turns he’ll face range from melodramatic to absurd, but the main plot is quite serious stuff. After his former pop idol daughter Haruka goes missing, Kiryu tracks her to Kamurocho only to discover she’s been struck and badly injured by a car. He also finds out he’s a grandfather as Haruka was hit while protecting her son who Kiryu knew nothing about until he has to take care of him. With all this happening, the poor guy has to deal with a Yakuza and Triad gang war where both sides also want him taken out and a few other matters you’ll want to check out.

Continue reading

Ni No Kuni II Demands Your Desire

 

Even with the up, down and sideways health issues happening, I’m still intent on diving into a bunch of games this spring. Right at the top of things to get to is Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, out NOW on the PS4 and PC. As a fan of developer Level-5’s games since the two Dark Cloud games, it’s been fantastic to see each new experience grow more and more polished. As you can see here and below, this game is absolutely packed with things to do including all-new kingdom building and RTS elements that seem very much like whole games in themselves.

While Studio Ghibli wasn’t part of the sequel, on board are former Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose and music composer Joe Hisaishi, both returning from the wonderful first game. Keeping that unique anime look and lovely sound is key to the experience and yep, this game nails it perfectly. In any event, get it digitally or get it physically (a walk to the game store counts as EXERCISE, folks!) – just get it and prepare to spend way too much time thinking about it when you’re not playing (well, that’s what I fully expect to happen to me given my past experience with Level-5’s other great RPGs).

-GW

Review: Beholder: Complete Edition (PS4)

Beholder_CE_PS4I’m not much of a good and nosy neighbor in real life, but in the past I’ve been the subject of scrutiny a few times by some pokey-snouted folks when I’ve either moved to or visited spots where they exist. A game like Beholder: Complete Edition normally wouldn’t even pop up on my to play radar, but here I sit typing out this review of a fairly solid yet depressing yet game experience. A mix of simulation, time management with a gloomy vibe straight out of Orwell’s 1984, the game may leave you with a jittery sense of unease because there seems to be no such thing here as a truly satisfying sense of closure.

Then again, when you’re forced by the state to spy on, harass and in some cases, have a tenant in the building you’re running bumped off, you kind of know you’re in for a weird time.

Beholder Complete Edition_20171121094317 Continue reading

Review: One Eyed Kutkh (PS4)

OEK_header

Charmingly abstract and somewhat brief, One Eyed Kutkh comes highly recommended as a game that’s just as entertaining for kids as it is for adults looking for a nicely non violent bedtime story experience. Developer Baba Yaga Games and Sometimes You bring their inexpensive Unity engine indie to the PS4 and it’s a winner despite that short play length. Hey, sometimes you just need a tiny bite late at night, as a big full meal can often leave you with a rumbly tummy afterwards.

The story’s a simple one (and yes, so simple I’m swiping this from the official site because the PlayStation Network page isn’t up just yet):

A single traveler on his way home crashes on a mysterious planet. To continue his journey, he’ll have to get to the ninth heaven, deceive the Sun and the Moon and steal their space-boats.

That’s pretty much it, except the game uses no words at all save for intentionally alien noises coming from a few characters.

Continue reading

Review: NORTH (PS4)

NORTH_header.jpg

While it’s under an hour in length (or maybe just over an hour if you get stuck or play at a slower pace – hey, I’m old and slow!), NORTH is a pretty unique and memorably weird game from developer Outlands Games ported by Sometimes You to PS4. A first person game about the pathway to immigration as presented in a surreal land inhabited by some bizarre-looking alien lifeforms, it’s also an interestingly timely game experience that’s also intentionally visually unsettling. Imagine David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Fritz Lang teaming up to make a ‘walking simulator’ with light adventure game elements and you’d be somewhat close.

The game’s brevity is noted at the beginning and you’re also told you can’t save your progress because the story is meant to be played/told in one sitting. There are also no options to change the game’s brightness level and you’s better be comfortable with the non-configurable controls as well. The game places intentional restrictions on the player as he attempts to make it through the intentionally confusing mix of exploration and mild to maddening puzzle solving required to eventually secure asylum in the strange world he’s ended up in.

North_02

Continue reading

Review: Dragon Sinker – Descendants of Legend (PS4/Vita)

Dragon Sinker PS4KEMCO and ever-busy developer EXE-CREATE along with a few other studios have been whipping out dozens of mobile JRPGs for years and fortunately, a bunch of them have been slowly but surely arriving on home consoles, a great thing if you happen to be a fan of “old-school” dungeon dives. Dragon Sinker – Descendants of Legend is one of their latest and it’s a wonderfully, intentionally rustic style of gameplay that recalls the early Final Fantasy series as well as bits of Dragon Quest and a few other well-aged classics.

Granted, the game is going for more of a very solid homage to 8-bit JRPGs than it goes for the gold standard in terms of its familiar plot points. But between the clever use of the Unity engine to deliver appropriately chunky sprites and the developer implementing elements of its other role-playing games to great effect, this one’s a time-sink worthy of your time.

Dragon Sinker_02

© KEMCO/EXE-CREATE

While deceptively short if you follow the main quest and stick to it like glue, as with other EXE-CREATE games, the true depth lies in players seeking out side quests and late to post-game content. Sure, you can blow through the game in about a dozen or so hours, but you very likely won’t see everything or find some fun secrets that require more time leveling up for some fairly tough battles. This is one of those rainy or snowy weekend games where you plop down on something comfortable and only come up for air and food when required. Continue reading

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ PS4 LE: Falcom’s Box Of Fun Now Available

tokyo xanadu

If I had the room in my still too large game library and the funds to spare, I’d be all over this like a pack of piranhas chomping on some slow-moving tourists in a sinking canoe. Nihon Falcom’s critical darling Tokyo Xanadu eX+ has been on my backlog radar for a while now, but seeing this lovely looking Limited Edition made me want to go build a shelf and think about selling off a few things just to have  that nice big box to ogle when I’m not busy doing a hefty bit of dungeon crawling.

 

So, what’s in the box, you ask? Well, let’s see now…

 

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ Limited Edition includes:

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ PS4 game with additional game content – new side stories, characters, modes, dungeons, quests, and more!

9-inch Deluxe White Shroud Figure – top-quality, hyper-detailed poly-resin sculpture of the mysterious White Shroud character, fully assembled and painted, with detachable display base.

60-page Exclusive Art Collection – full-color book featuring over 300 of dazzling images of characters and settings plus important information on the world of Tokyo Xanadu.

Blade Card Game Deck – includes boxed set of 44 printed cards and 2-player rules, so you can take the Blade game into the real world!

CD Soundtrack – with 10 music tracks from the game, including the opening song “Seize the Day” (lyrics by Kyo Hifumi).

Collector’s Box – everything immaculately packed, including a separate printed carton for the White Shroud figure.

Note: If you already own the game on Steam, you’ll also get a free Japanese-language update (nice!), but the physical version shown above is only for PS4 owners. Go grab this from one of the retailers listed on the Aksys Games site and maybe be prepared to go build a shelf or move a few books around if you need to.

-GW