Monday, December 31, 2018

Overlord: Fellowship of Evil (Xbox One) Review

The first Overlord arrived on the Xbox 360, and combined action with squad management.  Using your minions for combat and puzzles was a fresh take on a third person action game.  I enjoyed it, but haven't finished it yet.  A sequel, Overlord II, was made, and then years later Fellowship of Evil released on the Xbox One and PS4.  I'd heard unflattering things about the game, but couldn't resist buying it when it had a deep discount.

Instead of the original's closer camera, FoE goes for an isometric view, more akin to Diablo.  Also unlike the original, it's a multi player experience.  Thankfully, you don't have to play it with others.  Because there are multiple people, you aren't playing as an overlord, but rather a resurrected champion of evil.  You have a normal attack, that is fast and weak, a stronger attack that can sometimes be charged, and a special attack.  The special attack requires a meter to fill beforehand, but it seems to charge rather quickly.  I first chose Malady, the dark magician, and she was pretty cool.  Her special attack was a giant laser, but I usually forgot about it since her charged strong attack was so good.

To make the game even more different than its predecessors, you will run across challenges in the various levels.  These are pretty much races, where you have to get from one point to another in a set time frame.  Little white crystals dot the route, which give you extra time if you pick them up.  I say "if" because the hit detection on them is spotty.  It might seem harsh, but these sections are dumb.  There's no other way to accurately describe it.  They aren't useful, they aren't fun, and they don't feel like they belong at all.  A few are fairly easy to win, while others are way too twisty to complete on your first try, even with Malady's teleport.  At least the only drawback to losing is not getting a random bonus to your loot at the end of the level.

In the better Overlord games, the minions were invaluable.  The damage your overlord could output was limited, and minions were expendable.  While that made the ultimate evil feel a little weak, it worked for the game type and style.  FoE goes to the opposite end.  Your chosen champion (remember, they aren't an overlord) far out damages the minions, and is probably a lot less dumb.  The minions really seem to like running into traps and dying.  If you aren't fighting something, it's easier to just recall them all, rather than lose them to their own stupidity.

In fact, the minions can be worse than not helpful, they can be detrimental.  If they touch “the golden”, they turn into enemies. So, they will try to hurt you.  If the golden is present, your minions are almost sure to run into it, meaning this is a problem you will encounter.  They aren't even good at picking up stuff for you when the loot drops.  If you didn't need the minions to solve puzzles or hurt bosses, you could easily play the whole game without them.  That's not good.

Neither is the game's performance.  Every minute or so, everything pauses for a second.  It reminds me of the similar fault in Deadpool, but I don't know if the fix is the same, or even possible.  Usually that isn't too bad, but it will queue up any button presses during that time.  I ended up summoning extra minions because of that.  Plus, that time doesn't register button holds.  Meaning, I would be trying to summon some minions, the game would lag, and I would summon all of my minions, or use my special attack.  Making a menu selection also counts as an attack, since Malady will always shoot her wand after I make one.  For some reason, unless I feather tap the A Button, she will attack twice.  The other champions don't do this.  It's pretty shoddy.

But wait!  There's more.  It's also very rough and glitchy.  I've been stuck in a treasure chest, which required going back to the hub and losing level progress.  Using Malady's blink defensive move has shot me through the ceiling, and dropped me through the floor.  The first made it impossible to finish races on time, and the second would just kill me.  Sometimes minions just die with nothing to kill them.  I've taken damage when there isn't anything around to do so.  There's even an unobtainable achievement in the Xbox One version.  Not fun.

Going through the campaign isn't too hard, or too long, thankfully.  Maxing out your minions or champion will require extra grinding.  There isn't any multiplayer exclusive content, which is good because there aren't any people playing online.  I can't blame them either.  Overlord: Fellowship of Evil isn't a good Overlord game, or even a good game period.  I got it for cheap, but even that might not be worth it.

The Good:
Can be completed in a few days, some lines are funny the first time.

The Bad:
Very rough, several glitches, and overall not good.

The SaHD:
I feel like this game spoiled the ending of the second, but that might be the least of its transgressions.

(Overlord: Fellowship of Evil was purchased by the reviewer)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Kamiko (Switch) Review

Kamiko is a downloadable game on the Nintendo Switch's Eshop.  At first glance it may look like an isometric action adventure game similar to the Legend of Zelda.  However, that isn't very accurate.  For one, the emphasis is much more on puzzles than combat, though there is some of that, too.

Combat is pretty simple.  Each of the three characters has a unique weapon, which they will use to attack.  I like that they do feel different from each other, as I though at least two would be similar.  This will effect how you deal with some enemies, since the ranges are different.  Enemies tend to die very quickly.  This is good, since they can respawn very quickly too.

The puzzles are the main thing keeping you from progressing.  They are usually either hitting a switch, or bringing an orb or key to a certain spot in order to open a door.  They are not overly complicated, but there is a time or two where I didn't know where to go.  While carrying an orb or key, you cannot attack.  Also, getting hit will have you drop the item, forcing you to go back to its starting location and grab it again.  It can be a bit frustrating.  However it is easier to just not kill everything in a room, which will not trigger the enemy respawn.  That makes it much easier to navigate around them and not get hit.

Boss fights are mostly combat based, but they do have some tricks to them.  Dying just sets you back to the last time it saved.  For boss fights, this means you have to do the whole thing over again.  It's not that bad, since the boss fights aren't hard.  The game tracks how long you have played, but time since the last save doesn't seem to count against you if you die.

Kamiko is a short game.  My first run took me just under an hour.  Using the second girl, I completed it much quicker, since I had a much better idea what I was doing.  It's also a very linear game.  The areas do have a few secrets, which reward you with extra health or magic meter.  It's not really necessary to find them all, but it gives you something to do in a replay.  Even going through with all three girls only sets you back a few hours at best.  The game is made for speed running, which is not my thing.  Still, it was pretty fun, just very short.  I think it's worth trying, but I definitely suggest getting it on sale.

The Good:
A interesting puzzle/action game that is made for speed running.  Each character plays different from each other.

The Bad:
Extremely short.

The SaHD:
There's actually another hidden secret, but it's not really worth doing if you miss it.

(Kamiko was purchased by the reviewer)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Good Things, Part 1

With that review, I have come to the end of my current review obligations.  You may have noticed a decline in reviews, and even the regularity of them.  At the beginning of the year, I finished the classes for my accounting certificate.  A few months later, I finally got and entry-level job through a temp agency.  The first place was for 3 months, and they weren't really looking for a permanent employee, despite their claims.  I am tempted to write a story about the place, as there were some interesting things going on.  However, the second place I worked was very interested in a new employee.  So, long story short, I now work there!  They are very appreciative to have me, which is very humbling to a new accounting person with little experience.

So, is this the end of  No.

I do have fun reviewing games, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  I just don't have as much time as I used to, so there will be fewer of them.  I already stopped asking for as many as I used to.  I will still ask for some, but only ones that I'm very interesting in reviewing.  This allows me to focus on games that I already own, but haven't reviewed.  So, I can chip away at the backlog, and still review some (hopefully) cool games.  I've already got a few in the pipeline.

At the very least, I have to stick around until next February, as that will make 7 whole years of  Plus, the site isn't going away any time soon, so rest assured you can read the old content, and any new stuff that pops up.

Thanks to everyone who read a review, you are one of the special few!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk (3DS) Review

Ten years ago, the first Jake Hunter hit the US on the DS.  At that point, I had recently played Phoenix Wright, which started steering me into visual novel territory.  Since I like crime dramas, it seemed like a natural game to play.  I really enjoyed it, but didn't pick up the second release.  Partially because I was indignant that it was just a better version of the one I had already bought, and partially because I had a young child at that time, so I had no money.

Flash forward to 2018, and we are finally seeing another Jake Hunter released.  Ghost of the Dusk collects five different cases, plus an extra.  Each case is a separate story, with only a small handful of characters appearing among them.  Most times you will be playing as the titular character, Jake Hunter, but on a few rare occasions you will take up the mantle of his equally-capable-if-not-moreso assistant Yulia.  They are usually assisted by Jake's cop buddy Scott Kingsley, affectionately called King.

The game is pretty much a visual novel, but without the routes.  There are choices to make, but you can't really make the wrong ones.  This will keep some people from the game, but it shouldn't.  The stories and characters are interesting.  There are many times when you have to move to a different location, talk to various people, and even investigate suspicious scenes.  It works fairly well, but there were a few things that were either strange or rubbed me the wrong way.

First, there are many times when you must talk to people several times in a row.  For some reason, you have to select talk and pick the person again.  I understand doing this when there are multiple people, and Jake switches who he is talking to, but many times it's just the same person.  I guess it's nice if you want to examine something in between lines, but it feels a little strange.  Sometimes instead of speaking to a person, you have to "examine" them to move the story forward.  There are times this makes sense, and times it doesn't.

The examination scenes are the ones that sometimes frustrated me.  You have a small scene, and move the eyeglass around, pressing the button to see what's there.  Some things are obvious, plus the cursor changes to blue, but there were several times when I couldn't proceed.  I was missing the correct pixel to check.  It's not like the game highlights things of interest, so at that point it's just trial and error, clicking around various places on the small screen, hoping it's the slightly different message that allows you to finish and move forward with the story.

Another problem I had was with the text.  The main case had a rash of typos.  Strangely, they weren't anywhere near as prevalent in the other cases.  What they did all share were boxes of text that would be skipped through.  Sometimes, pressing the button to advance the dialogue would quickly dash through the box that was supposed to come up, and move onto the next.  It was easy enough to scroll back and read it, but that's a bad issue to have in a text-heavy game.  I'm pretty sure it's not my system, either.

While I didn't have a problem with this next point, the game is also localized, instead of just translated.  That means Jake and company talk in detective jargon, and the character names are fairly Westernized.  Personally, I like that, since it helps me keep the characters straight.  It will be a turn off to some people, though.

Ghost of the Dusk is the main case, and as such, lasts the longest.  It took me around 9 hours to go through it.  The four sub-cases were shorter, each lasting around 2 hours.  The final, extra case was much shorter, clocking in at about 30 minutes.  That one has a tiny alternate route, but it's little more than text and a riddle.  Still, the total play time clocks in at under 20 hours.  Since the game is linear, there's not much replay value.  Even if you miss the hidden passwords while going through the cases the first time, you can type them in to gain access.  I like that you aren't forced to replay just for some of the game's extras.

While Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of Dusk is short, the cases and characters are interesting.  The game isn't perfect, and it's not the longest investment of time, but it's well worth playing if you are a fan of visual novels, or detective stories.  Then, hopefully someday we will have the other games/cases translated, too.

The Good:
One main and four sub-cases with interesting stories and characters.

The Bad:
The game's linear flow hits a few distracting bumps.

The SaHD:
I know that the art style for each case is a little different, but Yulia's look varies a lot.  I didn't even realize it was her when I started the second case.

(Review code for Jake Hunter: Ghost of the Dusk was provided by the publisher)