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.