Tag Archives: Exploration

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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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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[Spoilers] The Solus Project: Game Preview – First Impressions! (Part Two)

Disclaimer: I apologize for the disarray of this post. It’s been awhile since I played the updated Preview, so please bear with me. I am doing my best to recount the events.

 

Welcome back to Gliese-6143-C, or, Galea.

We start off exploring a massive cave system. Here we see more eggs and even larger eggs. We learn about something that is like living smoke that shoots spikes out like a porcupine. They hate light and heat and will attack you if you have either out. The smoke creatures terrify me and kept me from exploring a section, because one glitched in a doorway.

We saw super creepy nightmarish dolls that follow you around and giggle like evil little minions trying to kill you. Honestly, it’s almost like they just want to play. Here we find out what The Sky Ones did to the people, and even the children. Forcing them in a room and then killing them. I’m beginning to think that The Sky Ones were going planet to planet “saving” people to harvest as food/energy for the planet/themselves. It’s almost as if they put the children’s souls into the dolls..

After the nightmarish hellscape that is the cave system, we finally make it outside to a new island. The island we travel to in this part of the preview, reminds me a bit of the Island from Lost. There is a giant foot from a statue and various structures lying around. There is also a giant structure we find that acts as a lightning rod. It ends up powering the entire island, and activates massive heaters that make you a nice and “cozy” 257 degrees. When activated, metal orbs fall from the sky and follow you like cameras.

As we make our way back to the massive cave system there are lots of areas to explore. We even find Varsa’s tomb, one of the humanoids who has always questioned the Sky One’s purpose. I thought the living being we’re following was Varsa. Maybe overthrew A’daar Suum, leader of the Sky Ones, during an uprising, of which you find heavy evidence. It turns out Varsa was killed in the uprising. This makes me terrified that we are actually following A’daar Suum himself. If that’s the case, we could be in very deep trouble. Whoever they are, they are clearly leading us somewhere.

We make our way back to the second Island where we found fellow astronaut Yuri dead in a cave. As we walk back in that direction, we now see his body strung up on metal posts like a trophy/warning. This all comes seconds before a U.F.O. flies very close overhead, scanning the area. It flies back and forth and I’m assuming it’s looking us. It eventually flies off, but then a giant orb lowers down from the sky. It leads us back into an earlier cave where a door was previously blocked by ice. The door is open thanks to the heat being turned on, but this is where the second part ends. We should be seeing the next part within the next 2 weeks.

I have questions that are burning away and I have no answers, yet. What is the purpose of the Living Smoke? As far as we know, they are created, and kill. That’s it. There must be a reason for them beyond causing havoc. My theory is that it has to be a way to harness energy/food based on the murals and writings.

It honestly feels like the next update will be the finale, even though we’re only about 1/4 of the way through right now. The way the second part ended just throws a lot at you, and I feel like it’s about to get a lot more dangerous for us.

I have to give major kudos and props to the team. The atmosphere, visuals, concept, sound, etc., all of it just keeps getting better and better.

I’m honestly beginning to get terrified of this place. I feel like I’m actually on Galea, and I want the nightmare to be over. I just want to go home..

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[Spoilers] The Solus Project: Game Preview – First Impressions! (Part One)

This will be the first part of a multi-part review.

Now, I played the Trial of The Solus Project, and it’s officially become the first Game Preview I’ve bought in to. These reviews may contain heavy spoilers, so please do not read any further if you wish to keep things a surprise.

The Solus project starts off mentioning that, essentially, Earth has been destroyed. Multiple ships left Earth with the remnants of Humanity, seeking a new planet to call home. You are on one of those ships, orbiting the planet you are going to call home. The first ‘holy crap’ moment comes when a ball of energy comes up from the planet and hits your ship, causing it to explode. You then fall to the planet in an escape pod.

As you wake up and begin to wander around this strange planet, debris falling from the sky, the real game begins. Survival. In a world where the environment is your enemy, you must not only seek shelter from storms and for sleep, but brave the freezing nights, blistering days, and natural disasters. You also need to brave hunger and thirst, hypothermia, heat exhaustion and soon (speculation), animal life.

This is a Survival game, yes, but it’s also an exploration/story based game. Your ultimate goal is to survive long enough to contact command and tell them your findings and report what happened. You slowly begin to discover that you were not the first life forms on this planet. Other humanoids were brought here long ago by an alien race that lived underground on this planet.
It was at this point that I started to suspect that someone or something might still be alive. As I explored the gorgeous landscapes, rolling hills, cliffs, oceans.. The deep, dark, frigid caves, I discovered evidence of life. Primarily something that stopped me dead in my tracks. I found eggs. Giant eggs. A few of them had already hatched, but there were plenty that weren’t. Keep in mind that I was also exploring a strange sound emanating from deep within this cave system.

The sound design in this game is phenomenal. When outside, you can hear the waves crashing, the wind blowing, the thunder clap. At a specific event, you can almost even feel the energy come alive in the air around you. Vocals sound as if you’re out in an open area. When you enter a cave, the vocals echo off the walls. Truly an extra step above the rest. The music is amazing. At one point, there was a tornado during a snowstorm. I honestly felt like Dorothy trying to get away with the music. It truly made me fear for my life.
First it was snowing, then my PDA lovingly named Wilson, told me of a detected anomaly. Now, based on the fact that I survived a meteor shower, I figured it might be a blizzard. I was wrong. As the tornado grew closer, I felt more desperate. I was collecting scrap metal and couldn’t make it back up the hill to shelter in time. Long story short, I wasn’t as lucky as Dorothy.. Needless to say, I’m now terrified of being out in any storm in The Solus Project. The planet is trying to kill me.

Now, one of the most heart wrenching moments for me, was when you discover notes from a fellow crash survivor, and he mentions that he saw a light on a neighboring island. He attempted to signal, but got no response. He thinks maybe the other person didn’t see the signal, or maybe didn’t understand, but he would try every chance he got.
Then you discover that he broke his arm in the crash and then his leg exploring a cave. He didn’t have the medicine he needed to fight the infection and his biggest regret is he couldn’t be with his loved ones in his final moments.
You find him, what I can only assume, is a few hours after his death. His fire is still burning bright and his flashlight still has 97% battery. From the cans it looks as thought he had maybe 4 or 5 meals before he died.

This Solus Project tells an amazing story through exploration and discovery. The story of one Earth remnant survivor of an attack, the story of an ancient planet, an ancient humanoid race, and the Aliens that brought them there. The Game Preview currently ends as you discover an underground housing complex, and a humanoid being holding a staff with a light at the top, standing at the top of the complex, turning and walking away from you as you enter the area. I have a theory about who this being may be, and I feel it’s either the leader of the Alien Race who inhabited this planet, or it’s the humanoid whose firsthand accounts with encounters of the Leader are being found in tablet form, potentially by overthrowing the Alien Race.
Either way, I had the feeling it was not friendly, whatever, or whoever, it was.

The visuals in the game are very realistic, and very believable as being stranded on an alien, earth-like planet. The events that can happen, random or otherwise, are intense and make the environment seem alive, and even hostile, toward intruders. The environment is meticulously detailed, both outdoors and underground. The structures and landscape feel real and alive. Like there is breath flowing through, as if the planet is alive, and you are inside, feeling it wake from a slumber with a stale, ancient breath.
As I mentioned the sound design and composition are really one of a kind. The controls are a bit clunky at the moment, and a few things I would like to see changed or explained, but overall it’s very responsive and the control scheme works without issue.

The things I would like to see changed at the moment are: jumping, since you can’t jump very high or far, it would be nice to help get in and out of areas for exploration, that or allow the teleport disc to travel further. This could also all be explained by a higher gravity. Other than that, stairs are a big issue for me. They work as stairs should, and you have to step up each step, as it’s not a flat texture made to look like stairs, which is how it should be, but you can’t sprint up the stairs, and it slows you down immensely, even going down stairs can be a chore at times. That being said, those are honestly my only two complaints.

The Solus Project is an astoundingly great game. Everything about it has been done in meticulous detail. I can’t wait for the next section to be released next week. I will continue to post reviews about each section as I complete them.

My honest, no holds barred opinion: Get The Solus Project. At least get the Trail for free, and play through that. Also know that it gets even better past the end of the Trial. It isn’t for everyone, but I hate Survival games, and I’m in love with The Solus Project.

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