Hack n’ Slash

Hack n’ Slash

There is a lot to like about Hack n’ Slash. The game feels like a great Zelda clone at first, but once you get the ability not just to hack values but the actual code behind entities in the game, it all goes out of control like a flaming wreck. I’m not going to give the game a full review because I don’t think I can but I will list what I liked and what I didn’t like about this game.   First, I loved the presentation. The storybook artwork was delightful (and also felt entirely out of place in the more tech oriented hacking theme) and the music was fantastic, especially the 56k opera. I enjoyed the feel of the game, movement and value hacking felt natural. The game itself is short, which is somewhat understandable given the nature of the game. Most of all I love the heart of the story. Your character, your friend and the foe all felt like new takes on classic tropes.   However, I disliked the fact that mechanically, the game was all over the place. Time travel, hacking values, hacking code, inventory items that had little purpose. If there was a lot hidden in the game, I could forgive all these things as tools you need but after looking at what others had done, it’s all largely unneeded. I’m all for depth in a game but it felt like none of this added to the complexity, it only was more stuff. And the nature of hacking the code behind stuff was horrible, speaking as a coder. Everything should be largely safe...
Sine Mora

Sine Mora

The child of so many arcade games, Sine Mora piqued my interest upon release. I enjoyed it so much I bought copies for friends since it was so cheap. And now, I can finally say I’ve beaten it. If you’re looking for a good side scrolling shoot-em-up game, then look no further than Sine Mora.   Like other games in the genre, you sit on the left, the game auto-scrolls and everything is set in a horizontal perspective. What sets Sine Mora apart is that it still has the challenge of the arcade by giving you very strict time limits on how long you have to accomplish tasks. To add to your timer, you defeat foes and if they hit you (and remember, this is a bullet-hell type shoot-em-up game, so there are LOTS of particles going on at all times) your time goes down.   The story is fine, although I can’t say that I was playing it to find out what happened next. The cast of furries (which seems to be a theme this week) is fine, the voice acting is excellent as the developers made up languages for the game (Correction: they use hungarian. Apologies for that inaccuracy). I’m sure that made localization much easier. The bosses are gigantic and the variety in game types is exactly what you’d expect (story, arcade, time trials, boss battles and so on). Honestly the game is fantastic and requires little introduction. If you like the genre, you’ll certainly enjoy Sine Mora and if you don’t, it won’t change your...
Stories: The Path of Destinies

Stories: The Path of Destinies

Two of my favourite games are Bastion and Way of the Samurai. Bastion is this great game with a narrator describing everything you’re doing all while you run around shooting and dodging. Way of the Samurai is this great hack and slash game, where the story changes based on your decisions in dramatic ways resulting in one of a number of different endings. If the two games got together and had a baby, it would be something like Stories: The Path of Destinies.   Mechanically it’s partially a role playing game. You’ll equip your character and learn skills as you progress through the game. The combat is action based with there being no ‘best’ way to fight but with plenty of options allowing you to choose how you’d prefer to fight. The enemies of the game come in a variety of forms, giving you a very tactical choice in how you progress through combat. Levels are linear, but with many branching paths that won’t be initially available, requiring you to forge new gear before you can open the gateways to those sections. All of this is stretched over the frame of a storyteller, recounting your tale. The narrator does all the voices for all the characters, feeling like the bits of the movie “The Princess Bride” when the grandfather reads for the characters. These are the Bastion traits of the game.   The game is short, much like Way of the Samurai. A single play might only be an hour long, but upon beating a particular path you will start over and make new decisions. Each subsequent play through...
Legendary: The Box

Legendary: The Box

I recall when the game Legendary (alternative title, “Legendary: The Box”), I was quite excited. A first person shooter set in modern day but with the titular pandora’s box having been opened, giving us gargoyles, griffons and other mythical creatures to destroy. The game itself does not live up to my expectations about what that premise could be but it does make for a shorter and sloppily told first person shooter.   Firstly, the game is quite obviously a port. Auto-saves and graphical options that are barely there show little work went into this game to make it a dedicated for-PC option. However, with a title this old it and a studio as small as they were at the time (they’ve since shut down after laying off their staff), it’s a minor annoyance at best.   The gunplay itself isn’t nearly as tactical nor as interesting as other shooters and coming from a guy who doesn’t really get how ‘realistic’ guns should be, that’s a problem. Most of the guns feel quite similar, the enemies (of which there are only a handful, and most of them are human) except for the bosses have passable AI and the multiplayer is now dead (thanks Gamespy!).   So why would someone want to play this game? Well, because they own it. The game can be purchased relatively cheap on Steam during sales. For a buck or two, you get about 8 hours of really poorly told story. The voice acting is stiff, animations are rough and the cut scenes (paintings that barely move) are disinteresting. But 8 hours of entertainment for a...
Garshasp: Temple of the Dragon

Garshasp: Temple of the Dragon

Something that you might get by reading this blog is the idea that I love games developed by teams with a cultural perspective from outside North America. Contrast, Toren and Xenoclash are all fantastic games that are created by teams who have a viewpoint that you might not find in a traditional AAA developer team. Papo and Yo has a uniquely Brazilian take on an unfortunately universal evil. The Garshasp games are based on an Iranian/Persian hero that is developed by the Texan studio Dead Mage. Garshasp: Temple of the Dragon is a sequel to this game and while the first game wasn’t panned (nor praised) this game was rightly criticized. That is not to say the game is unplayable, but it’s something I cannot recommend.   The game is a third person action game, mostly consisting of hacking and slashing. The game has you exploring a “Temple” (although to put it more correctly, you explore three bridges, two lakes, a bit of forest and a tower) that feels all too small with no distinguishing features that would actually indicate it’s a temple. You’ll fight generic orc or demon looking enemies in a room, have a door open and generally solve a puzzle that either involves turning a wheel or dodging spikes, before going to fight more generic guys. Your character does gain new abilities but the game feels like there is no real need for using anything other than the basic attacks you start with. The game graphically is under-whelming, the designs of things are generally muddy and the voice acted notes you pick up don’t give you...