Category Archives: Wrap-Up

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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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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Temple of the Witch – Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone! I know it’s been awhile since Temple of the Witch released, but I’ve been trying to think of how to talk about it. Click here for the full Rise of the Tomb Raider Wrap-Up if you haven’t read that yet.

So, the Baba Yaga DLC was a LOT shorter than I thought it would be. I was expecting your standard full expansion, massive new locations, etc. What we got, is exactly what we should have for this game. A new mission given by a Remnant. The Baba Yaga DLC was not meant as an post-game Expansion. It was made to be a mid-game mission and that’s exactly what it plays like.

I’m not saying I dislike the DLC, but I was disappointed in the fact that I guessed what was happening the instant I entered the Veil. 3 Hours later, it was confirmed. To avoid spoiling anything for anybody, I will not be giving spoilers in this post. It was an interesting spin on the Baba Yaga folklore, and it even talks about the origin and history of the Witch.

One of the best things about this DLC for me was the acting. The Remnant that gives you the quest for Baba Yaga is voiced by the same woman who voice Chloe in Life Is Strange. That may sound like I’m discounting the DLC as bad, but I’m not. I just really like the quality of acting is RotTR.
They recycled a few environments, which is fine. The Veil is a small location, but it’s a very interesting place and the history behind it, even more so. A new plant gets introduced that releases toxic spores into the air and it makes combat very interesting.

The new weapons/outfit added are pretty cool and come with a  few achievements attached to using them. Overall, the Baba Yaga DLC doesn’t add much other than an interesting side-mission in a, small, new location with a unique take on Baba Yaga herself. Definitely don’t wait until post-game to play this, otherwise it gets a little too easy, but play it around mid-game for the most enjoyment. I plan on doing that during my Survivor difficulty play-through.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Wrap-Up!

Hey all! It’s been about a month since I picked up Rise of the Tomb Raider. I was going to do a First Impressions, but I just couldn’t put it down! So this is going to be a combination First Impressions/Wrap-Up including the Endurance Mode DLC!

Rise of the Tomb Raider:

Now as many of you know, Rise of the Tomb Raider was secured by Microsoft as a 1-year exclusive, meaning Sony will not see it until November 2016 but it launches on PC on January 29th. A lot of people think it was stupid, but honestly, it was because Microsoft wanting a game like Uncharted to be on the X1, it was a smart move. It wasn’t smart, however to launch the same day as Fallout 4. That being said, about half the people who bought Fallout 4 were disappointed.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was also the best selling Digital game during Christmas week. Unfortunately the deal with Microsoft also got the CEO of Crystal Dynamics fired after 20 years of loyal dedication and hard work. My best guess is because their publisher, Square Enix, is inherently a Sony company.

The good news is that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a phenomenal sequel to the 2013 reboot. Everything the reboot got right, Rise of the Tomb Raider did better and more. The crafting system has been overhauled, survival is not a factor (which was a little disappointing) but Endurance Mode, survival is all there is… Other than searching for relics, of course, but I’ll cover Endurance Mode a little later.
Lara’s hair, for you techies out there, was created using the latest iteration of TressFX, that means that each strand of her hair is individually rendered for more realistic movement during gameplay. Of course, that is removed on the 360 for more fluid gameplay, but that is neither here nor there.

I have played Rise of the Tomb Raider for many, many hours and the gameplay is nothing but fluid, the story is intense and just when you think it’s about to come to a conclusion, it keeps going. Focus has shifted solely to Single Player, meaning a much richer storyline, a more in-depth progression system, more activities to do in-game and more Single Player game modes to keep you immersed.
One thing you may notice a some latency when trying to aim. There have been YouTubers who have shown this latency as a massive problem, making the game nearly unplayable and headshot a nightmare. They are also showing the latency at slower speeds to make the issue seem larger than it is. It takes about half a second for the input to register. Once you get used to it, headshots are super easy. Half a second is not bad considering Rise of the Tomb Raider was built to utilize 100% of the X1’s capabilities.

Some of the activities you can do in-game are helping the Remnants to clear the valley of Trinity and other things to help raise morale, hunt legendary animals for pelts for crafting purposes, find collectables, raid tombs, go high-diving, etc. There are also a few particularly funny achievements, namely the “Bacon!” and “Rotisserie” ones, in which you have to kill a Razorback with a Molotov and shoot a chicken out of the air with a fire arrow.

Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place primarily in Siberia, with one level taking place in Syria. You get to see flashbacks of Lara as a child and watching her father’s descent as she comes to terms with what he was doing all those years. All she wanted was a father, but she slowly begins to understand that what he was doing at the time was for the good of the world and he was trying to protect Lara but not letting her in on what he was doing. She learns he was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation and chose to try and protect the world and allow Lara to grow up normal, rather than save only his daughter and let the world burn, essentially. Something that Lara discovers when she realizes she took her father’s path while trying to not become him, and ends up giving in to the life of a Tomb Raider.

The Siberian wilderness is tough on Lara, but even tougher is the fact that Jonah is still with her, and she tells him to turn back to safety because she doesn’t want to put his life in any more danger than she already has. Rise of the Tomb Raider is not only a story about Lara Croft and the events that helped shaped the woman she becomes, as well as her trying to clear her father’s name as well as her own, but it also appears to be a story about how in not wishing to be like her father, but at the same time idolizing him, the transition happens without her realizing it and not intending to do her friends harm she, instead, pushes them away just as her father did to her.
It’s only after Jonah appears again that she realizes that in pushing them away, she actually brought them further in to harm’s way and vows to stand by them no matter what. She won’t push people away like her father did, instead her strength lies with her friends, not her solitude. Lara loses herself a few times, but every base camp is a new revelation, and a new time to reflect on what got her here, and why she’s really here.

Rise of the Tomb Raider has a very deep and rich story with a special look inside Lara’s mind and the struggles, both internal and external, that she has to deal with. Something we’ve never gotten to see before. Along with the amazing visuals and sound, gameplay and overall feel of everything, Rise of the Tomb Raider is truly one of a kind and worth every penny.

Endurance Mode:

Endurance Mode is the survival in which you start off on Day 1 and survive as long as you can. You start with a bow and 6 arrows and your climbing axes. You are in the middle of the Siberian wilderness with no map and no direction other than find relics and survive. You need to pay attention to both your warmth level and your hunger level. You will not only brave the elements human enemies and the local fauna, but you will also need your resources to improve gear, light fires, and light the signal fire for your evacuation, in which you will need to survive for 2 minutes while being attacked by legendary animals.

Endurance Mode really will test your mettle and survival abilities as well as your sense of direction, memory, navigation and resourcefulness.

Temple of the Witch:

The story expansion Temple of Witch releases on January 26th and is the legend of Baba Yaga, an old Russian folk tale. I very much look forward to this expansion, as Baba Yaga has interested me for some time now. I will be posting about this expansion once I get the chance to play it, so stay tuned!

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Game of Thrones – Wrap up! (Spoilers)

It’s that time again! Game of Thrones Episode 6 has been released for a few weeks, and I’ve given people a chance to play it before doing this review as it contains heavy spoilers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Episode 6 – Ice Dragon, we wrap up the story of the Forrester family against the Whitehills. In my story, Asher Forrester became the Lord of the House, as Rodrick stayed behind to let him escape. I failed to gain the Targaryen army, as I allowed Beskha her revenge. That being said, I was able to gain the Pit Fighters, so the Forresters were not alone in their battle.

I chose to poison Ludd Whitehill at dinner, letting him think he’s won. When Lady Forrester went to drink the poison wine in the place of Asher, I chose to stop her, prompting an ambush attack against Ludd Whitehill. I killed his son, Gryff but Ludd escaped.
Chasing Ludd out into the town, our soldiers and people were under attack. When asked to either defend the gate or save the smallfolk, I chose to save as many of our people as we could. After all, what is a Kingdom if there are no people left in it. A kingdom can be rebuilt, people cannot.
We lost the gate and the Whitehill soldiers stormed in, killing all of the Pit Fighters. Beskha took Ryon and saved him by riding off, and Asher is about to die. The last words I chose to speak, Asher flashes a very smug and proud smile at Ludd Whitehill and says “Iron from Ice” one last time. Duncan, my sentinel, then pulls Asher out of the way, gets him on a horse and tells him to run, saying that this House needs a Lord to lead it, and only he (Asher) can lead them to victory against the Whitehills, so he must survive. Then you watch as Duncan dies so Asher can escape.

At the same time, Mira Forrester in King’s Landing, has been caught for the murder of a Lannister Guard. A very corrupt man who was doing business with Ludd Whitehill, tells Mira that if she marries him, gives him Ironwrath and full control of the Ironwood forest, and does her job of popping out heirs for him, he’ll let her live, and Tom, the coal boy, will take her place on the chopping block. I chose to tell him off, because I refuse to let Ironwrath fall to anyone.
I had lost all favor with Lady Margery and was dismissed from her service, and instead of spitting at the man when I was on the chopping block, I chose to stand tall and proud like a true Forrester, and accepted my punishment. Mira Forrester died in King’s Landing for murder, and refused to hand Ironwrath over to anyone but a true Forrester.

Far in the North, Gared Tuttle has finally found the North Grove. The North Grove lies under the watchful eye of the Ice Dragon, a constellation. Upon entering, they are taken captive, by two members of the Snow family. A brother and sister. My suspicions were correct about these two, and you find out that they are the bastard children of the late Lord Gregor Forrester, who was killed at the Twins in Episode 1.
He entrusted his bastards to defend the North Ironwood Grove at all costs. The brother is a Warg and shares his mind with a Polar Bear, and the sister controls the warriors of the North Grove. Something seems off about the warriors to Cotter’s sister and you come to find out, the sister Snow controls them via blood magic.
When Cotter succumbs to his wound, his sister asks you to give him Nightshade to end his suffering painlessly, while the sister Snow asks you to use his heart for blood magic instead, to defend the Grove. I chose to use his blood to defend the Grove, and when asked to either march to Ironwrath and help the Forresters or defend the North Grove, I chose to honor Lord Gregor Forrester’s last words of “The North Grove must never be lost” and stayed behind to defend it against what ever may come.

In the final scenes of Episode 6, Asher falls off his horse and Talia Forrester shows up with the former Master-at-arms turned traitor to House Forrester (due to the fact that he wasn’t my sentinel). I chose to spare his life, and in turn, he picks up Asher with Talia, and says that they will defeat the Whitehills as they may have won this battle, but the war is not over, and the Whitehills will fall to House Forrester.

So, it looks as if there will be a second season. That being said, only one Whitehill fell to my blade, Ludd escaped, but you are able to kill both of them. I ended up sabotaging my own plan to poison him, and in doing so, he managed to survive. The culmination of events in Episode 6 are intense. I truly feel this has been TellTale’s best work so far, when it comes to having options. Nothing seems like the right option, and when given a chance for revenge, if taken, afterwards you suddenly remember that Ludd has your brother Ryon, and will probably do to him what you did to Gryff.
I sincerely hope there will be another season. I have yet to have a chance to watch the Game of Thrones show, but I know a bit about the houses, and those who have not played TellTale’s Game of Throne won’t understand when I say, I am a Forrester.

Iron from Ice!

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Tales from the Borderlands – Wrap Up!

The final episode of Tales from the Borderlands has been out for awhile now, so it’s time for another Wrap Up!

The last episode starts to wrap things up into a neat little bow by beginning the same way all good things do. Mass amounts of death and destruction. The opening credits play after the “prologue” of the episode, in which molten metal rains down onto Pandora.
Many characters have the potential to return, including Rhys’s best friend, Vaughn. During this episode, you get to see exactly what happens when you open the Vault of the Traveler. Not only that, but you get to assemble your own Vault Hunter team based on people we’ve met, in order to take down the Traveler and get into the vault. If you’ve saved enough money, you can get a professional Vault Hunter team.

Once the team is assembled, you go to help Gortys and come up with a plan. Two people actually go inside of the Traveler, while everyone else acts as a distraction. Gortys takes Rhys inside and gives control over to him. Gortys learns about the “finger-guns” that Hyperion used to resolve problems, and is suddenly able to shoot lasers out of her fingers.
Upon that realization, she picks up the rest of the Vault Hunters you assembled, and you basically become Voltron. Complete with color-coding each person’s space inside Gortys.

Gortys is able to utilize every person’s individual skill sets, including forming a boomerang shield (if you bring Athena). Upon vanquishing the Traveler, there is a really sad moment that can turn happy and funny, if you kept a certain object from the first episode.
After the moment passes, good or bad, it’s a race to the Vault! Rhys and Fiona have a footrace to see who gets there first, with possible touching moments both during and just after the footrace. (It’s fun to make Rhys feel awkward). The good news, you actually get to go inside the Vault of the Traveler! The bad news? There is only one chest, and I wont spoil what it is.

I have a few theories which I will mention in a new section I’ll be doing called “Spoiler Alert!” As the name suggests, don’t read them if you don’t want spoilers!

All in all, Tales from the Borderlands quickly became one of my favorite games, Telltale or otherwise. I was sad to see it end, but they pulled out all the stops for the final episode. I look forward to another season, or at least a follow-up game from Gearbox.

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