LTTP: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

posted in: Reviews 0

I started The Order 1886 last night and while I was restricted to explore an area at a snail’s pace, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t write up my thoughts on The Chinese Room’s “walking simulator”, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Now the struggle is to recall what I took away from the game. I guess it’s telling that all I can recall are:

  1. Poor framerate
  2. Detailed & realized location
  3. Village in England
  4. Excruciatingly slow movement speed

It’s clear that The Chinese Room wanted to the best looking English town they could on the PlayStation 4. They were so obsessed with that goal, they were willing to allow the framerate to vary wildly and dip down to well below 30 FPS. The result is a sluggish and disappointing because I’m just looking at things. I’m an active observer; I can manipulate where I look and what I look at but I’m not causing an overload of explosions or special effects to incur a framerate drop.

What made these framerate issues so pronounced and vivid was the fact that they capped the movement speed to a plodding pace. There was a “sprint” option but it merely elevated the speed from a slow crawl strolling speed. With so much time inbetween points of interest and so little to pay attention to, I began noticing the game’s faults like the framerate.

The slow movement speed also discouraged exploration. Not every single home or room was accessible. As I encountered more and more locked rooms, I was discouraged to get off the beaten path to explore unless I can clearly see or hear something of interest emanating from that building or area. It’s a weird design choice and one that I don’t understand or agree with.

Discouraging exploration was a huge disservice because the town of Yaughton was genuinely pleasant and the mystery surrounding it was intriguing. “What happened to these people? What caused all of them to disappear?” The hook was compelling enough to draw me in but not enough to put up with the framerate and movement issues. I eventually stopped caring and “rushed” for the end. I soaked up what I could and then did a bit of light reading on the intricacies that I may have missed. I came in as a fan of Dear Esther and open to these kinds of experiences but in the end, I was left yawning and forgetting to even document my time with Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. And that’s one of the most damning thing I could say about a game.

Verdict:
I don’t like it

Ratings Guide

 

LTTP: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

posted in: Reviews 0

It’s been nearly a decade since I poured any significant time or effort into a rhythm game. I wasn’t into Guitar Hero or Rock Band and since they stopped making Dance Dance Revolution games, rhythm games dried up for me. I witnessed fervour for Hatsune Miku and other anime related rhythm titles but none of those interested me. I believe the last rhythm game I played with serious zest was Rhythm Heaven for the Nintendo DS.

I recall the original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy title being very intriguing in Giant Bomb’s Quick Look. So when I saw the sequel, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, hit the $15 price point, I couldn’t resist checking it out for myself.

It’s a given but being a fan of Final Fantasy franchise increased my enjoyment of Curtain Call tremendously. Playing through the classic songs of all the old Final Fantasy titles was like running through those games without the fuss of actually playing them. The accompanying backgrounds triggered memories of running through the fields of Final Fantasy VII or duking it out against L’Cie in Final Fantasy XIII.

I’m sure wrapping a rhythm game with a battle system isn’t an original idea but I found Theatrhythm’s implementation it was very clever. Levelling up characters, equipping the appropriate skills and items gave this game a level of strategy that I didn’t expect. Higher level characters and skills helped mitigate the damage dealt when I missed a music note or helped dish out additional damage to defeat enemies for loot.

It took me an hour or so before I clicked with the rhythm mechanics. It’s not a complicated system but there were tricky notes that tripped me up for quite some time. Slowly ramping up through the “Quests”, which were nothing more than a series of songs placed on a world map, helped me tremendously. I’m still not playing through songs at the highest difficulty levels but that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy: Curtain Call was a pleasant surprise. It was a fun and easy way to inject Final Fantasy nostalgia but at the same time, it was also a great way to expose the soundtrack of Final Fantasy properties that I never played before. I’m not done with it and I don’t think I will ever be. It’s one of those timeless classics that I can see myself revisit time and time again.

Verdict:
I love it

 

LTTP: Massive Chalice

posted in: Reviews 0

There’s a lot of species survival lessons in Massive Chalice. Most of it requires the player to make some cold and calculated decisions. Morals and modern day customs had to make way for necessity and I can’t think of any other game that rewards this kind of thinking.

The world of Massive Chalice was afflicted by a corruptive force called the Cadence. Fortunately there’s this Massive Chalice that can purge these lands of this Cadence but it takes 300 years charge this giant chalice. As the immortal overseer of this world, it was my responsibility to guide my people towards that fateful day.

It was up to me to breed the best warriors, build the best equipment and protect the Chalice and the surrounding land from the Cadence’s attacks.

With the 300 year hard deadline looming, it’s tough not to drop the sickly or the weak while propping up the strong, the virile and the talented. I arranged marriages between people out of necessity and not love; they had tendencies to live long lives and incredible strength, so who cares if one was 22 and the other was 60? It was about survival of the species dammit!

The people didn’t seem to mind it though. There was only one random event that made issue of the age gap but it was a the single complaint in three centuries.

It was important not to grow attached to specific heroes because they would eventually be killed or die of old age. Instead, I grew attached to specific bloodlines and classes. Hunters (like snipers in XCOM: Enemy Unknown) were god like beings — especially at higher levels. Their offshoots were equally deadly which cemented them as my favored hero classes.

Once all the mechanics fell into place, I really enjoyed my time with Massive Chalice. It rewarded my faith in breeding future super soldiers and selective breeding. There aren’t many games out there where you can say that.

Massive Chalice was the third backed Kickstarter title and I was pleased to see it pan out. I got exactly what the initial pitch video laid out; I managed bloodlines through the ages towards an end goal. What I didn’t expect were the lessons in pragmatism. I found myself questioning decisions but ultimately deciding on what was best for the entire race.

The beauty of it was they didn’t hit me over the head with these dilemmas. I made the observations so I had to make those calls; all they did was layout these opportunities for me to encounter and they did a marvelous job with that.

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

LTTP: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

posted in: Reviews 0

LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

Super Mario 3D World was a fantastic game. One of the many reasons why I enjoyed it so much was the inclusion of the Captain Toad levels. They served as a break in the traditional 3D platforming action but quickly became a highlight in its own right for its charm and methodical puzzles. Nintendo noticed the reverence for the little treasure hunter and decided to flesh out the little hidden gem into a full game.

I heard it was a little light on content for a $44.99 retail title so I waited for a sale to pop up. For $34.99? I was happy with what was on the disc.

The game’s levels were split into four books. The first book consisted of straight forward puzzles but subsequent books steadily ramped up the complexity and demands of the bonus objectives. It’s the same approach that Nintendo implemented in its platformers; the challenge lies within the extras whereas the main course remained attainable.

I was a little surprised to discover that the Wii U Gamepad was required to play this game. Early on it simply mirrored the TV; I had forgotten about the other gimmicks found in Super Mario 3D World.

Using it as a view port to aim and fire turnips with was harmless fun. I was tolerant of the touch screen oriented levels but I was annoyed with the levels that asked me to blow into the mic. Asking me to blow into the mic to move platforms while darting across platforms surrounded by lava was awkward and cumbersome. I lost too many lives while trying to complete the challenge objective for “Magma Road Marathon”.

Treasure Tracker was best tackled in chunks. I could have finished a book’s main courses in a single sitting but I would have felt underwhelmed by the lack of challenge at the end of book. I found it more satisfying to taking on each challenge objective immediately after an initial run.

It’s tough to get upset over Treasure Tracker because it’s such a charming title. The cutesy mannerisms of the Toads and the expressions of Shy Guys and Charging Chucks were given such an incredible level of craftsmanship that I forgot that I was playing a Wii U title. The relatively limited scope allowed Nintendo to give each asset the five star treatment that we’ve rarely seen up close. It’s easily one of the best looking titles regardless of platform.

After Batman: Arkham Knight, I needed a palette cleanser to take my mind off the rainy grime found in Gotham. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker fit the bill perfectly. It wasn’t the most challenging or inventive of titles but the puzzles exercised the methodical part of my brain that I appreciated. “Okay. I need to manipulate this and that, then do this.” Working my way through those levels was relaxing, gratifying and put a smile on my face which is all I could ask for. You could say I could have achieved the same feelings through a mobile game like Hitman: GO or Monument Valley but there’s something special about playing a quality Nintendo game on the big screen.

Verdict:
I love it

Ratings Guide

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19