Review: Valkyria Revolution (PS4)

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Valkyria Revolution PS4 (Custom)Well, veteran developer Media Vision gave it the old college try, but as a set in the past side story to the fan favorite Valkyria Chronicles series, Valkyria Revolution isn’t so thrilling as a game experience. Packed full of overlong exposition, mostly pretty visuals ruined by stiffly animated characters, and somewhat weak gameplay, this one manages to be somewhat lifeless despite trying very hard to appeal to longtime fans and players new to the series.

That said, the music is great, some of the timely political intrigue is interesting enough, as is the main storytelling device of a teacher and student discussing events that happened decades earlier. But the core gameplay never rises above mediocre thanks to somewhat loose controls and a “tactical” side that really doesn’t add much challenge. It’s not a “bad” game per se – it’s just one where you may feel too much time was spent on making a game packed with too much of some stuff and too little of everything else.

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Review: AereA (PS4)


 
 

While it’s not as great as it should have been out of the gate, there’s still time to fix this sleeper up with a decent patch and make it an even better product.

Developer Triangle Studios’ AereA makes for an interesting blend of familiar elements that gamers willing to overlook its flaws should enjoy. Indie publisher Soedesco has released this as a marquee mid-priced ($39.99) retail and digital game and it’s clear they’re wanting it to be a sleeper hit for casual to veteran ARPG fans. Colorful visuals, fast-paced gameplay and a superb score (by Deon van Heerden) are all strong points. Unfortunately, game balance issues, a poor English localization, and the lack of any post-game content hurt the overall experience.

A sort of love child of Diablo, Wild Tangent’s Fate series and Runic’s original Torchlight, the Unity-powered visuals and emphasis on action are initially impressive. Additionally, the ability to play couch co-op with up to three other players is a nice touch (no online play is supported). However, the very straightforward story progression, a total lack of personality in its four mute heroes, and some technical/UI problems made me grimace more than grin through my 22+ hours with the game.

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PC Review: Yooka-Laylee

While playing Yooka-Laylee,
the words, they kinda fail me
it all feels so nineteen-ninety nine.

That’s really not a bad thing
Fact: parts of it indeed sing
But others have me screaming half the time.

The camera’s got the jitters
This game’s not made for quitters
But still, it takes some patience to align.

The game world’s quite expansive
with infinite life chances
But tumbling off those ledges? Not sublime.

To give Playtonic their due
when stuff works well, it feels true
and older fans will find a lot of shine.

But games have come a long way
Those mascots, they’ve had their day
And newer work has fixed what was a “crime.”

The old school’s kinda backwards
One time it won most placards
But now, it’s seen more classical than prime.

The Ratchets, Slys, and others
Are the more modern druthers
So, is this vintage style worth your dime?

Provided you mind its quirks
You’ll find quite a few good perks
Collectibles galore? Tough to decline!

Those flaws, the dev can fix them
And make this game a true gem
bringing those bugs to heel as benign.

For Rare fans reminiscing
There’s fun here, but lots missing
But there’s no need to yell a lot or whine.

Whether pre-bought or now still sold
I’d say bad reviews will seem old
But only if the update redesigns!

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Busload of Horror VI: The Neverending Gory…

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I’d be lying if I said this series wasn’t fun to do, so I’m going to do something even more fun and continue delivering a busload of horror or horror related games on a weekly or bi-weekly basis based on my workload. This particular series will close for now on a few scary-ish notes starting with one of the best (and hardest) games I’ve played all year which just so happens to win the “Most Improved Via Patching” crown. Okay, I don’t have a crown for that. But you know what I’m talking about.

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SLAIN: Back from Hell: Brutally savaged upon its initial release by critics and gamers (many of the latter who never played the game, but merely hopped on the flaming hate wagon because that what the Internet does to people who need to feel as if they’re part of a “thing”), SLAIN seemed destined to die on the vine before it got a fair shake. Thankfully, developer Wolfbrew Games (Andrew Gilmour) picked himself up, shook off the ashes and like Dr. Frankenstein after a few fresh pots of coffee, a ton of classic metal music and a few too many monster movies, set to reviving his baby and making it a better experience overall. Did he succeed? Take a look for yourself:


 

Yep. It’s not only back, it’s brilliant, visually rich and chock full of so many tweaks that it’s definitely worth buying even if you have to pay someone with better reflexes to finish it for you. The game isn’t easy at all, but it’s hard to stop playing thanks to the visuals dropping in something fantastic to look at in every stage. The old school stuff (knockback deaths, enemies spawning at the wrong time, many deathtraps, cheap bosses) may tick off casual gamers or those who never “got Gud” at classic 8 and 16-bit games something fierce. But for those who like it rough, Slain says “Welcome home, now go die!” and you’ll keep coming back for more. Oh, and it’s on PS4 and Xbox One, so you have no excuse not to play this if you own either console.

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Busload of Horror V: Off The Top Of My Head…

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Well, a day left before jury duty (BOO! but civic duty is important, folks! That said, who the hell schedules jury duty on friggin’ Halloween?!) and me getting busy doing a ton of other stuff not site related, I’m moving a bunch of stuff into November once this court-ship pulls back into port and I’m a free man again. Anyway, let me wrap this horror game thing up with a bunch of randomness you’ll want to check out. Starting with a new game that’s a hilarious must of you like to laugh more than scream:

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Slayaway Camp: Well, wow. Blue Wizard Digital just dropped one of the most fun and surprisingly funny puzzle games this year and yes, if you’re at all a horror fan, you either need to play it or haunt someone who has a Steam account until they buy it so you can watch them play. The game has you playing a number of different horror movie killers taking out teens in a series of increasingly tricky sliding puzzles. Complete an entire movie’s worth of scenes to unlock more in the game’s Video Store.

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Just check the video below for the gory truth about how awesome this is:

 

 

The blocky graphic style makes those kills go down easy, the music is straight up fantastic, the selection of playable baddies will get genre fans grinning, and there are some pretty sweet bonuses to unlock. Oh, and you NEED to check out the options screen just for the different visual tweaks, some of which make zero sense and parody more graphically intensive titles with way too many options. Clearly, Blue Wizard’s love for 80’s slasher flicks is making a ton of people more than happy, so why not join the happy crowd, I say? Hey, if you don’t… Skullface himself may come a-knockin’ at your door…

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Busload of Horror IV: Laugh ‘Til It Hurts… Or Else

Okay, a bit late on this one, but I was busy chopping at my backlogs on assorted stuff and tackling a few fires in other spots. Anyway, here are a few more amusing horror-themed games from the vaults, although they’re not quite vintage having all arrived this year. One technically isn’t a “horror” game at all, but some of you will no doubt get a bit queasy if you think about it in a certain way. For example…

beeftacular_logo Beeftacular: Yuck. Retrific’s squishy, bloody little gem (currently available on Steam) made me stay away from meat for a week when I first played it thanks to… well, just look and see for yourself (IF YOU DARE):

Blech. Maybe it’s the thought of a chunk of raw beef cleansing a map of contaminated beef dipping into my subconsciousness combined with the not so wholesome meat industry pretending things are all fine and Grade A dandy when it’s not. But I couldn’t stomach this for more than an hour before I felt a bit off. Then again, the game’s manic pace and timed stages do get really hectic.

That said, yep, that level editor is mighty excellent, the music is great and if you’re a gamer with a meat fetish as well as a speed running maniac, you won’t need to ask “Where’s the Beef?!” at all. And nope, I never played Super Meat Boy until a few weeks ago – grinning meat is no turn on, either.

beeftacular-screenshot_10  Um, hey… anyone wanna go out for a nice juicy burger? 😛

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Busload of Horror III: Laugh ‘Til You Bleed (And Vice Versa)

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Oooh, I missed yesterday’s posting thanks to stuff going kablooie elsewhere, but here you go. The better news is I found a few more games to add to this list while poking around a hard drive, so consider this scary mission extended a bit starting with tomorrow’s installment where I add FOUR titles instead of three. Or perhaps FIVE if I’m feeling generous? We shall see. Anyway, let’s get cracking with the cracking up over assorted head cracking in these three today:

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Tom vs. The Armies of Hell: From Darkmire Entertainment (or Sean Burgoon)  comes this hilarious spin on Diablo, Army of Darkness, a dash of Office Space and maybe a teeny-tiny bit of Half-Life (if you squint while hitting yourself in the head with a hammer at just the riiiiight spot) that’s going to tickle your funny bone as it tests your skills. You’re Tom, a low on the totem pole software engineer having the worst day at work ever (outside of Gordon Freeman’s of course) after all Hell figuratively (or is that literally?) breaks loose and you need to stop things from going further south.

 

 

The isometric view and chase ‘n chop gameplay will be familiar to Diablo or similar ARPG fans, although the game takes a bit more finesse in using skills-based attacks and drawing energy from dead demon spirits to power your weapon. Enemies tend to be fast and cheap, bosses are room-sized and cheaper, but all are bested by the best who remain calm under pressure. The game is still pretty tough on the easiest setting (or was until the last patch that lightened the difficulty up a bit), but it’s a challenge worth accepting if you like your games funny and sliding in winks and nods to all sorts of cool stuff.

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As admirable and fun as the game is, even more so is Burgoon’s tweaking and fixing up bugs when players come across them. If only every developer was so responsive and self deprecating as this guy. $12.99 gets you this one on Steam and it’s worth it. I have not a single clue what Darkmire has up it’s collective one-man sleeves as an encore, But if it’s more tongue-in-cheek goofiness such as this, I’m in and smiling already.

 

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Busload of Horror II: Time to Kill? Sure, Why Not?

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Back for more, are we? Well, then. Let’s amp things up a notch with some scary stuff that has you killing or being killed in gratuitous or thoughtfully gratuitous means. Or something like that. I guess what’s here is kinda NSFW unless you work at some place like your friendly neighborhood abbatoir, morgue, or cemetery and/or have a morbid sense of humor, hee-ho!

 

unloved-headerUNLOVED: Yikes. So, you want to run around in the dark (perhaps with up to three others) equipped with a handgun and flashlight looking for better weapons, armor, and colored keys while trying not to to get keelhauled by some fast-moving, ugly as sin monsters? Good. This game’s got your name, number and full address stamped all over it.

Nope, it’s not 1993 all over again, but UNLOVED sure rocks it like it is. Paul Schneider took his original Doom II mod and completely remade it using Unreal 4 to great, gory effect. As a solo or multiplayer experience, the game is wickedly fast, controls as expected (yes you can have at it with k+m or a controller if you like) and definitely not for the squeamish or easily startled. Or perhaps it IS, as it’ll surely prepare you for anything jumping out at you in the real world.

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There’s an interesting rewards system at play as well where you can sell off gathered trinkets for assorted useful goodies. That said, a bit more character customization would be nice, as other than outfit color, EVERY player model is some generic white guy with sunglasses, making playing with others look like a Falco video with assorted guns set in a carnival horror house. But even if you just come for the scares and enjoy the ride (and dying a lot), this is quite a rush worth the $14.99 cost.

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Review: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, MeiQ has a few surprises for those thinking it’s just another fan service packed JRPG. Lengthy and packing in some cool ideas, it’s a solid genre entry worth picking up.

meiq_cg7 Platform: PlayStation Vita
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/13/2016
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B (80%) BUY IT!

At first glance (and second… and third), MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death looks like many other fan-service JRPGs packed with gals bursting out of their too-skimpy outfits ripe for waifu fantasies from those eager fans into that sort of thing. Fortunately, a mighty good game lurks past that booby trap facade and this is one Labyrinth worth a full inspection and yes, another Iffy game you’ll want to have in your library. Once you get over the costume designs, there’s a long and challenging game here to conquer with a fine combat system, albeit one that doesn’t change all that much once you sink a few hours in.

The plot is pretty basic stuff with four towers that need to be conquered in order to beat the evil so-and so trying to rule and ruin the land. Adding mechs each gal can pilot to the mix is a great touch, as it allows for some interesting pairings as well as gives you a squishy backup plan should a mech fall in battle. That’s right, your gals and whatever skills they’ve learned are your last resource if their metallic rides go down in flames. Initially, it’s a lousy thing as the gals aren’t exactly powerful and it takes time to gain a full party anyway. But, after a chunk of time, they’ll improve and all gain some nice, useful skills that can do decent damage. You’ll still want those mechs in good shape, though.

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PLANTERA: Weeding Out One Very Cool Clicker

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Let’s get this out of the way: I am NOT a big fan of clicker/tapper games, mobile-based or not. There’s a huge and happy market for them, sure. But my attention span tends to wander elsewhere once my brain realizes it’s been trapped into what amounts to Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolates on a too-fast moving assembly line. Yep, that’s hilarious to watch, but DOING it? Madness, on a cosmic horror scale. Ninth level of hell meets Sisyphus cloned by Caligula, but with roller skates, a greasy hill and square boulders. Nope, not for me.

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Of course, I then get a random code for VaragtP‘s super-cute endless clicker PLANTERA in my inbox and well… foo. Yeah, it got me sucked in for a while, grinning like a kid as soon as it started up until I forced myself to shut it down, STILL smiling. My reputation as a curmudgeon, shattered by a planting game? Great. grrr. Ah well, one more bias kicked in the teeth, right? For the record, I plant and grow peppers on a windowsill here, so yeah. The game had me at PLANTERA.

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