Category Archives: First Impressions

AER: Memories of Old is a game that has a level of freedom not seen much today.

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Inline image from Forgottenkey.se/Cover image from pushsquare.com

 

Now, what I mean by that, is AER: Memories of Old allows an open world of exploration to be navigated by transforming into a bird. The animation is very smooth and allows you to fly around the skies and through the clouds. Flying in the clouds even has it’s own unique visuals to really give you that feeling.

You can transform at will (in the overworld) from person to bird and back, meaning you can transform mid-flight and free fall, to transform again. When landing you turn into human by default. You can also plummet into the ground at terminal velocity and be fine, by the way.

AER takes place on floating islands in the sky. You are of The Sky People, descended from ancient humans. You are on a pilgrimage to learn about your history and help restore the balance of your world.

The gameplay is really smooth, although I experienced some frame rate drops inside one of the temples for a solid 30 seconds.

Visuals are gorgeous. Think Grow Home mixed with finely crafted, hand-chiseled wooden dolls.

Controls are fluid and solid.

Sound design is amazing. My favorite part of it, so far, is when you are a human, you get some nice synth-classical style music. Just nice and relaxing. When you transform, it adds in some indie-style guitar and light drums. When you transform back, the music goes back to just the synth-classical style. It’s very fluid and makes sense.

It reminds me very much of the likes of Journey, ABZU and RiME.

Unlike Journey and ABZU, you have the freedom to explore any of the islands at any time. So far, it’s a non-linear exploration game with an interesting story, freeing gameplay, amazing visuals, great sound design and solid controls.

If you enjoy games like Journey, ABZU and RiME with the freedom of flight, pick up AER. It’s only $15 and, according to reviews, has about 4 hours of gameplay.

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ChromaGun – First Impressions!

 

If you’re like me, you’re wondering just what the heck ChromaGun is. Well, I got the opportunity to play it and let me tell you, this game is pretty dang fun.

So what is it? Well, it’s simple, really. You have a ChromaGun and you use it to solve puzzles. If you’re good at mixing colors, this game is pretty easy. There is even a Colorblind mode!

It draws heavy inspiration from games like Portal but gives it’s own unique twist. Instead of making portals, you’re making colors! Instead of turrets, you have spikey balls of death!

I’ve not made it very far yet (only the end of chapter 2) but I’m having a blast and it makes you think. I’ve had to take some tactical impalements due to messing up a section. You can always just hit “Restart Level” but where is the fun in that? Some levels get pretty intense and heavily rely on your ability to think on the fly. You’ll be surprised how often you forget how to make Purple or Orange when you’re being chased by 5 spikey balls of death.

ChromaGun is a fun little game that will likely fly under the radar. That said, it’s worth a pickup! You can pick it up now on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One.

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Refunct – A Review

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Refunct is a nifty little interactive experience by Dominique Grieshofer. The style and controls call to mind the Pure Time Trials DLC from the original Mirror’s Edge.

This is a game that very short but can be very thought provoking. It’s a very relaxing and soothing atmosphere with some nice music you can just kinda chill to.

The premise? You run around and hit buttons and collect cubes while all the platforms you step on get colored. Sounds dumb, I know. However, it’s presented in a way that isn’t overly challenging and it just… Is. It never promises to be anything more or less than what it is.

The controls are very responsive, the music is great and visuals are very pleasing. Replay allows you to beat your previous run times and paint the ground with a new color each time.

In the end, this is a game that can last 3-60 minutes each run. You’re painting a picture. Of what, I will not say. That’s part of the experience. In fact, you might say it’s the entire experience, as you are painting your own experience with each platform.

This game is only $3 and is available on Steam (Win, Mac and Linux) and Xbox One. Currently, it’s on sale on the X1 for $1.50 for another 8 days. It’s also worth noting that on Steam it’s overall and current ratings are “Overwhelmingly Positive” with a total of 4,730 reviews and on the X1 it’s rated 4.5/5 stars.

Refunct allows you to take a look into yourself in a way most others don’t. It allows you to Refunct Your Heart.

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The Dwarves – A Book’s First Impressions!

I started reading The Dwarves by Markus Heitz last week in my spare time at work. I’ve had my eye on the game since it launched on Kickstarter, and wanted to find out the story behind the game. The book is 730 pages long, or, for a frame of reference, the same length as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In just a week, I’ve gotten to just shy of 1/4 of the way through. Also keep in mind, I get about an hour a day to read, at most. The Dwarves starts us off 1,035 year in the past in the 5,199th Solar Cycle. It is here that the catalyst for the events of the book are to happen. We follow the Dwarves of the Fifthling Kingdom as they make their final stand against the Perished Lands.
The Dwarves of the Fifthling Kingdom have always stood watch against the hoards to the north, but a disease has wiped out most of them. A strange curse comes from the North with the invaders. When a Dwarf falls, he is brought back, soulless, and fighting against his kin.
As more fall, the gates that have remained closed since the dawn of time, open for the first time, allowing the invaders access to all of Girdlegard.

We then jump to the 6,234th Solar Cycle, where we meet our hero, Tungdil Bolofar. He’s a Blacksmith. A Dwarf that is living in a kingdom of men. He has never met another Dwarf. After a series of events, Tungdil gets sent out on a journey, his first quest. Which is good, because he yearns for adventure, and the possibility of meeting another Dwarf.

Along his way, he meets some kind strangers, but also gets thrown into bad situations, including being forced to sneak out of an Orc encampment, getting his leg caught in a wolf trap, and other hang-ups.
Tungdil has never fought. He was raised as a Blacksmith and scholar. Where I stopped, Tungdil had just killed his first Orc, and is about to take on another.

The further I read, the more I look forward to playing the game that just released based on this novel. I’m only on page 177, and I would highly recommend picking up The Dwarves by Markus Heitz.

If you are interested: http://www.dwarves-game.com/

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ABZÛ – First Impressions & Wrap-Up!

This post will contain spoilers near the end. I will mark them so readers who want to experience this journey for themselves can stop reading.

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ABZÛ comes to us from the art director of the renown games, Flower and Journey. For those that aren’t familiar with those titles, Flower made use of the Six-axis on the PS3, as you played as a flower petal, moving along the wind to bring life to the world. A gorgeous and relaxing title with an amazing score. Journey saw us in a multiplayer setting, in which we are in a desert, and making a journey to a fallen star on a mountain top.

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A scene in Flower depicting the movement on the breeze.

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A scene in Journey depicting one of the many “sand-surfing” segments with your final destination in the background.

ABZÛ means “Ocean of Wisdom” and plays off its meaning very well. You begin as a lone diver, apparently stranded in the water. The opening scene of James Cameron’s Sanctum comes to mind. You awake and begin to explore the ocean. You can breach the surface, hold on to larger fish, find meditation statues, secret pools of fish, hidden seashells, and just generally enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean.

The controls took a bit of getting used to, but once you learn the little hidden things you can do, such as boosting, you can move around quicker and just have a lot of fun swimming around.

This game is short, but I would recommend picking it up for fans of Flower and/or Journey, or fans of scuba diving or the oceans. Normally it’s $19.99 USD, but right now it’s on sale for the Xbox One for $16.99 USD.

 

 

~~HEAVY SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS, PLEASE STOP READING!~~

 

 

Alright, so while playing ABZÛ, I was so confused. I knew there were going to be ruins of an ancient city. What I didn’t expect was the utilization of underwater rivers in a technological standing to open doors. I started thinking, I must be in Atlantis. This was further pushed into my mind by giant mechanical doors.

That’s when I started to notice something in the murals. People looking just like the diver teaching people who looked slightly different. I started to think, alien race. Now, modern tech is modeled after them.

The further I pushed, the more my suspicions were confirmed. You find a destroyed upside-down mechanical pyramid. You watch as it creates machinations. That’s when you discover that you might be a robot. That gets confirmed shortly thereafter. Eventually you go to destroy the machinations and return life to the ocean.

Finishing ABZÛ, I have a lot of theories. The primary being that you were a mechanized race, come to show people technology and how to utilize the soul of the ocean. Something went wrong. Either they rebelled, or a catastrophe happened. I think it WAS Atlantis based on technologies and buildings you see, especially an entire city (looking like Jules Verne’s Atlantis from Journey to the Center of the Earth).

I also think that, seeing what happened to the ocean, you make amends by giving parts of your own technologically advanced soul, to bring life back to the area. To repair what your race damaged.

If you’ve played it, what are your thoughts? Theories?

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Keep Your Eyes On That Horizon – A Firewatch Review

maxresdefaultFirewatch is a story-driven game by developer Campo Santo. People call it a walking simulator, and, while that’s true, it’s more about the personal development of your character, Henry, and his relationship with his boss, Delilah. The writing and dialogue in Firewatch tops the list for Walking Simulators for me.

Firewatch released on PC and PS4 in February, and just released on the 21st of September for Xbox One in NA and will release on the 30th of September for Xbox One in EU.

Firewatch starts us with simple text on a screen. Through this text we explore the background of Henry and a woman named Julia. I won’t spoil anything about the back-story here, but it reminds me a lot of the beginning to the movie ‘Up’. The text sequences are broken up by Henry going to his first day on the job, which includes him getting into his truck, starting on the trail, walking the trail and getting to his post. These are nice sequences that give you a feel for your environment and where you’ll be during the course of the game.

It’s the summer of 1989 in the Shoshone National Forest. Henry is here for the whole summer as a Firewatchman. His first few days are pretty eventful as he learns the ropes, chats with Delilah and has other events occur that will begin to shape his summer. What you say to Delilah will begin to shape the tone of the relationship they have.

You progress through a few consecutive days, before finally getting a peaceful summer, at which point, the day count jumps up by a month. You play through sporadic days as events begin to occur, including a large forest fire (which you get the honor of naming), missing persons, and even a mystery that revolves around Henry and Delilah.

The conversations in Firewatch feel more real and genuine than most games in recent memory. Personality, feeling and emotion are put into the dialogue, which truly makes you feel like you are experiencing life through the eyes of a man named Henry.

This story allows you to be comedic, serious, scared, comforting, accusatory, questioning, and various other things, all through what you choose to say to Delilah. There’s no action in this game, so don’t expect to fight wildlife, however it offers a gorgeous location in the Shoshone National Forest, a wonderfully written story with real characters, choice, exploration and an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience with a realistic ending for Henry and Delilah based on their backstories and lives.

Firewatch is $19.99 and worth every penny, even if a once-through will only be about 4 hours, I’ve already gotten 8 hours worth of enjoyment, and plan on many more to come.

A good way to look at this, is if you paid $6/hour for every game (standard movie tickets are about this much depending on length and your location), this game would cost $24 for a once-through. $19.99 is a great price, but never fear, as sales are sure to be ahead with Black Friday and Christmas around the corner!

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Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition. All the fun of a tabletop RPG without all the erasing!

I’m a huge fan of Tabletop RPG’s, in fact, I play Pathfinder regularly. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is the prequel to the original Divinity, which has a sequel, Divinity II – Ego Draconis/The Dragon Knight Saga. While I never played the original (or spinoffs) I played both versions of Divinity II, totaling ~200 hours of my life. Pro-tip: If you own Ego Draconis, your save does NOT carry over to TDKS as they have different coding. That’s due to Atlus buying the title and re-releasing it as TDKS.

Divinity II is an RPG style of gameplay by modern standards. Third person rear-view, run around, open combat, etc. Original Sin (the most recent… Read All I’m a huge fan of Tabletop RPG’s, in fact, I play Pathfinder regularly. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is the prequel to the original Divinity, which has a sequel, Divinity II – Ego Draconis/The Dragon Knight Saga. While I never played the original (or spinoffs) I played both versions of Divinity II, totaling ~200 hours of my life. Pro-tip: If you own Ego Draconis, your save does NOT carry over to TDKS as they have different coding. That’s due to Atlus buying the title and re-releasing it as TDKS.

Divinity II is an RPG style of gameplay by modern standards. Third person rear-view, run around, open combat, etc. Original Sin (the most recent installment) plays out like a Pathfinder or D&D game. It’s actually really tough, even on easy, which I feel is on purpose. That’s how a good Pathfinder/D&D game goes. Everything is turn/round based as you would expect, based on initiative ratings. There are saving throws (automatic) skills, perks, base stats, feats, etc.

You start off with two characters, which you can customize. However, pick your class before customizing skills/stats or they get reset and you have to do it over. You can even choose the AI Personality, which chooses how they act during conversations and decisions, as well as how they will react to what you do/say. You can also choose “No Personality” to manually choose how they will react to every situation, sometimes leading to a mini-game to decide who will win the argument. It’s Rock, Paper, Scissors. You can switch between your party members at any time, and even separate the group to deal with traps.

You can have up to 4 members in your party, and honestly it can get to be a bit much. The good news is, you can play solo, couch-co-op or online co-op. That takes some of the burden off. Each of you then takes control of the main characters (leading to some interesting experiences), and can control either of the other party members at will. This also makes splitting the loot more interesting.

I got this game on an amazing deal on the Xbox One at 74% off. I would have been willing to pay the full price for this game. It truly does an amazing job of giving you the pencil & paper experience without the need for erasing and getting new sheets. The only other thing, is so far, you don’t get the full 100% freedom of say, choosing a killer out of 3 suspects, you have to investigate to find the 100% without-a-doubt killer. That could also be a DM decision, where the Guard Captain wouldn’t believe you without irrefutable proof. I also understand that this isn’t meant to have the freedom of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment, so I’m not really upset about it.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed pencil & paper RPG’s should pick this up. It’s got a 60+ hour campaign and is worth every penny.

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