Friday, February 25, 2022

Death's Door

 Death's Door


Solid Zelda-like game. Simple yet polished. The story is similar to fable yet original (no princesses to save). It improves on the classic Zelda formula in many ways:
  • It keeps things simple even as the difficulty ramps-up. Enemies always remove one point of health when they hit the main character. There are no armor that reduce the damage taken or enemy attacks that remove more than one point of health. Fights get progressively more chaotic as enemy attack become harder to dodge, but these attacks are telegraphed so even if the game seems hard sometimes, once you learn enemy attack patterns and how to avoid them then it's not too hard to overcome these challenges.  There were two bosses I didn't figure how to beat without looking up online guide, but in general I could just learn the bosses behavior by trying again and again.
  • As progress is made in dungeons, shortcuts are permanently unlocked to navigate the dungeons and some harder encounters will not respawn after dying if they are completed, but plants used healing do respawn after death. So even if you die often, as long make some progress, it's not too frustrating and its possible to progress even when struggling.
  • An other thing is that new enemies change when you progress through the different areas of the game. So this keeps the experience fresh. Its also not tedious to travel between different areas as there is a central hub that connects all the different areas of the game.
  • There are many hidden secrets that contain resources that can make the main character slightly stronger. These could make a slight difference if you were missing just a few hits to finish a boss but overall these are not as important as in Zelda games. For example in this game you start with 4 health points and can unlock up to two additional health points (as far as I know). Where as in some Zelda game you can get up to 30 hearts in total. So upgrades help a lot; 6 health points is 50% more health points but learning the patterns of enemy attacks is more important. To find these hidden secrets you don't need to bomb random walls or burn random bushes. There are always visual hints so it is probably possible to find everything if you are observant, but there are additional hints found on items or given by characters in the game. Many times a reward is visible from the beginning it's just not obvious how to reach it or you have to remember its location and get it later. Sometimes when you lead the character behind a structure, the camera will turn and reveal a secret door or something, so exploration is rewarded. Whenever I found an empty room I knew something was up since usually the level design is always very dense and thoughtful, I don't remember any area that was completely useless.
I played on windows, the game is include with the Xbox game pass subscription.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Nier: Automata


Beautiful third person action RPG. Very artistic with a simple slightly philosophical storyline which doesn't try to be too smart. It is somewhat innocent, like a futuristic fable.

The gameplay is very good overall but, the game has a few quirks which can be very frustrating. It does not auto-save, and this seems intentional. There are no save points until after the first boss, so if you die there you have to restart the first 30-45 minutes. I died at the first boss in 5 second because my character got stuck between two saws and it killed me instantly. The start of the game does not seem to hard: you have plenty of items  to heal yourself and a chip which is equipped by default will heal your character when it is low on health, so unless you have a freak accident its very possible to make it through the first part of the game without any trouble. But it's very frustrating if you happen to die at the beginning. There is no save points at the beginning so it's not as if you can save and experiment too much. The introduction does not do an amazing job at explaining the controls, some hints are given but you can make it through thinking that you got the point while you actually don't. I figured how to target enemies (with a mechanic similar to Zelda: Ocarina of Time) only on my second attempt which made it a lot easier to control the camera and defeat the first boss. Also there are many jumping puzzles in the game but a lot will be impossible unless you know how to do a third jump with a combination of keys which makes your pod throw you character a long distance. You can also do different combo in the air to increase your jumping distance. I suggest looking up YouTube videos if you need to know more. I didn't figure these myself and don't know if the game even hints at these things.

The game has many endings, each ending adds a letter on a label on the save file. I think many of these game over endings are meant to be funny and players are meant search for them, but because the game does not save automatically it can be very frustrating if you trigger one of these endings at the wrong time. At one point there was an emergency after turning in a quest, I rushed towards the objective but at some point there was a fork in the path, the camera was not facing the right way and my character entered the wrong path, within 2 seconds, before I could hear the full warning from my pod saying I was going the wrong way I was at the game over screen. I can't help but think that the games wants to punish me for not saving before turning in a quest. Am I supposed to be entertained here?

An other critic would be that some enemies of secondary objectives have massive health bars. Many times more health than bosses from the main quest. Its more an  button mashing endurance challenge than anything else. If there would be only 2-3 of these I would not mention it, I think there are just too many of those and it's just annoying.

Also, as soon as there is a massive hole in the ground, go do the quests in flooded city. It's not obvious there is a sewage pipe that goes there. If you wait until main quest shows you how to go there all the secondary quests there will disappear.

The game is divided in multiple parts but you will have to replay the first part with a different character and some small differences to unlock the last parts.

Anyways these were the reasons why I can't recommend the game for anyone. But otherwise the game is not too hard. The combat is very responsive. Its fun to equip and upgrade chips and weapons. The storyline is cinematic but simple. I really appreciated the game outside of it's few flaws. The game is available on multiple platforms, I played on PC, at the moment the game is included with Xbox Game Pass.

Friday, August 28, 2020



Braid is a puzzle-platformer with many different mechanics related to time travel. It's brilliant, original, clever and still very artistic. It showed many what indy games could be and more than 10 years later it's still a solid recommendation. Even if these days the indy games market has grown considerably I see very few approaching this level of quality. If you like puzzle games or if you want to be amazed by this game's time mechanics, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

You Must Build A Boat



 Nice little match 3 type game.Its pretty simple but there are a few subtleties. I like how the game is always positive: 

  • I never got tired of the joyful background tune.
  • You never lose rounds technically (every round rewards you with gold /resources, but you might not advance you quest).
  • The games humor is nonsensical

Go! Build a boat!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Monster Train


 Good strategy card game. Similar to Slay The Spire but with elements of a simple tower defense. Each turn you can add creatures to the levels of your train (it has 3 levels and "the core") or play spell with various effects. Your creatures trade blows with the enemy and the remaining enemies go up to the next level of the train. If they get to the core they can fight it (if they win you lose the game). At the end of each stage, a boss shows up. When this happens creatures on the boss's floor trade blows until either the boss dies or all your creature are wiped.

Between encounters there is phase where you get to make various choices to edit your deck. There is also often an option to make the next encounter harder by giving a specific bonus to enemies in exchange for better rewards.

There is a few things I did not understand immediately while playing the game, like which creature gets to eat morsels (some kind of buff). Its the creature at the front.

Finishing one game takes about 1 hours. You can choose 2 of 5 factions and one of 25 difficulty levels when you start. Cards are progressively unlocked for future games and there is a lot of randomness so its expected that every game will be different.

I made it to the 17th difficulty level I was starting to find that the way the difficulty in increased isn't always very fun. One example is that the game adds dead weight cards to your deck, this feels very random. It feels like many strategy which were valid at the beginning of the game are not valid anymore, unles you get a specific item. The quality of items vary greatly and most of them don't enable a specific strategy. You get a bunch of random cards at the very beginning of the games and sometimes it feels like you are getting a very bad start.

Otherwise the game is very original and kept surprising me many hours in. I recommend it to fans of games like Slay The Spire. Its very similar and surprisingly different at the same time.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Titanfall 2


So, Apex Legends came out this year and was suddenly very popular. I'm not really into battle royale games, but I decided to give it a try. I find myself confused and out of practice. The training map is very minimal, there's no solo mode and I'm forced to play with strangers. I don't understand why developers try to force people to play in small team games where teamwork is super important. In my experience (DOTA, DOTA2, Overwatch, ...) teamates end-up blaming each other and it gets ugly fast. I find myself wanting for a traditional deathmatch / team-deathmatch. Even if like the battle royale gameplay in Apex, I can appreciate the mechanics, the guns, the characters. I find out that Titanfall 2 which was also developed by Respawn and released in 2016 is on sale for 8$(CAD) I decide to give it a try.

I used to stick to steam mostly and I'm not too familiar with the origin store. I see there's the base game for 8$ and 4-5 DLCs for 30$. It turns out that those DLCs are cosmetic only, there's no extra campaigns or maps. I buy the game, I download it and then I try the campaing.

The campaign of this game is short but amazing. After the first few missions each mission brings its own gimmicks and it really keeps the game fresh. There's a lot gameplay mechanics to tinker with. The main character is very mobile, a bit like Lucio in Overwatch. There are lots of guns and of course there are the mechs. I would say its the best single player FPS campaign I've played since DOOM 2016.

After finishing the campaign I take a look at some multiplayer on twitch and it looks amazing but the skill ceiling seems pretty high. This is not the simple deathmatch game I was looking for.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mass Effect 2


After playing the first Mass Effect in 2010  I did as I usually do: I played a completely different game next.

I never guessed that so much time would pass before I played the sequel. Eventually the stars aligned: I was bored after Christmas, I did not feel like playing any of the games in by Steam backlog and the game was on sale. So 9 years after it's release, and 9 years after I played the first Mass Effect here's my review of Mass Effect 2.

Overall the game is very good. It mostly improves upon the first game. This time there's not much old-school ambiance exploration gameplay: there's no time! You've got to save the galaxy! Gogogo! There are still many secondary missions and this time their quality is on par with the rest of the game, however, the game will force you into the main objective once in while.

At some point I realized that I had been doing secondary missions for one hour and that none of them involved running around shooting aliens. It was a coincidence, most of the game is action oriented, I just happened to do a few role play missions in a row. I would say that the game has a good balance of action and RPG elements.

I was a bit disappointed by the few choices of weapons. I've heard the argument that its meaningless to put lots and lots of choices of weapons in a game if it they do not make a difference or if there is only one obvious good choice. But then again just make them meaningful! Some weapons could be better against different types of enemies or situation. There are ammo abilities in the game which play a similar role but I thought they were somewhat uninteresting. Watch-out! I'm using my ability to use armor, shield or barrier piercing ammo!

 My first character was of the Adept class (more based on abilities and less on guns). There is a global cooldown in this game and I would say that for me this is probably the most boring class. I restarted as an Infiltrator, and it was  much better, sniping enemies and setting them on fire between shots and running around invisible and gunning them down with my sub-machine gun when they are alone in a corner.

I did not bother importing my saves from the first game. There might be perks associated with this like more paragon points and seeing the impact of your action in the first game. I did not remember my choices in the first game so this did not prevent me from enjoying the game.

So, yeah, I do recommend this game. Its still very good on PC in 2019.