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...
Akiba’s Trip

Akiba’s Trip

I spent a good portion of my youth playing a wide variety of games, but you could probably categorize most of them into either “Western RPG” or “Game from Japan”. This was because the two primary gaming platforms I played on were the PC and my PS2. The Playstation 2 had an extensive library but my attraction to the weird and unusual means I usually would find something like Katamari Damacy more enticing than the newest WW2 shooter. Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is a game that would have been right at home on my PS2 (which makes some sense, since it’s a game ported from Sony consoles).   In the game, you find yourself a newly created half-vampire. You’re stronger than most, but you also have a weakness to the sun. You’ll hunt down synthesized vampires who have the same weakness and you’ll expose them to the sun via a novel method: stripping their clothing off. And when you’re not beating the pants off of Vamps and often some humans, you’ll be working along side a group of freedom fighters who are trying to make Akibara a safer and better place.   There’s a mountain of content here so if you’re even mildly interested, I’d suggest seeking out videos to see how the various mechanics work. You’re going to spend your time gathering and upgrading equipment, doing side-quests, talking to your friends (very visual novel in that respect) and exploring the city of Akihabara (interestingly, modeled off of the real world location from between 2012 and 2013, meaning you could visit the locations in the game in real...
Dragon’s Dogma

Dragon’s Dogma

While I owned one of the platforms capable of playing Dragon’s Dogma when it was first released, somehow I never got around to playing the game. It has everything I could want, the mechanical skill of Dark Souls with the climbing mechanics of Shadow of the Colossus added to a bright interesting world like Monster Hunter and mixed into the traditional classic RPG trappings that drew me to the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Well, luckily, the game has a new lease on life with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for the PC.   Let’s say you also missed out on the game and have no idea what the game is about. You create a character (mixing up Rogue, Fighter and Mage in the traditional RPG way) and pal about with a bunch of ‘pawns’. These are characters controlled by AI that you can give orders to as their leader. One is an NPC from within the game world but the two others (unless you turn the feature off) are the creations of other players online. Still AI controlled, but it gives a very nice amount of variety in your friends.   So the four of you adventure around, doing side quests or advancing the main story, mostly by killing monsters. The cool thing is, you have to climb these monsters to reach their various body parts. Fighting a griffin will take a while, unless you manage to climb up it and attack the head directly. A Chimera has three ways to attack you: a snake tail, goat head sprouting from its back and a lions face right up front. Attacking...
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends

In 2000, I had six CD’s shoved into my hands. Each one marked with black marker, scrawled with ‘Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn’ on them. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, even though I was familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. The scope and size of the game, the sweeping story and memorable characters. Then, a few years later, Neverwinter Nights came out. While BG2 was epic, NWN gave me the tools I needed to make my own stories and share them with others. If Baldur’s Gate had depth, Neverwinter had breadth. Releasing soon is Sword Coast Legends and it’s looking like if you wanted to scratch that Neverwinter itch, then you’ll soon be given those tools all over again.   Set in the same Forgotten Realms as nearly all existing Dungeons and Dragons video games, it has the familiar isometric viewpoint excepting that the game is full 3d. This means you can pan around, rotate and zoom in and out around your character. The main story has been pretty standard so far, with the sorts of characters you’d expect in a game like this. In fact, if this were the pen and paper version of Dungeons and Dragons, I’d have as much fun playing it. The music from the game comes from Inon Zur, who did the music for Dragon Age: Origins and Fallout 3 and it’s similarly atmospheric.   Where this game shines is the multiplayer. Asymmetric gameplay is nothing new with colossal games like Evolve and Crawl giving us two very different sides to play with in multiplayer battles. Sword...
Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity

When people throw around comparisons like “will be the new Baldur’s Gate”, it perks my ears up. Of course, being a long time gamer, BG was a fundamental part of training my young gamer mind. Pillars of Eternity does not disappoint, although I really hesitate to even try to compare it to BG or any of the other Infinity Engine games other than Planescape: Torment. Pillars has a much greater focus on narrative, world building and character development. The underlying RPG system is not based on any edition of Dungeons and Dragons and as of right now feels like it gets to about half as powerful as you would in an Infinity Engine game.   In the same way that Planescape provided a new and very unfamiliar setting for us, PoE supplies a familiar medieval fantasy world. It’s not Faerun, but that world has decades of history under it’s skin which is why I hesitate to compare the game to Baldur’s Gate. After all, I can’t make a guess if that series (or Icewind Dale) would have done as well if it didn’t have a pre-established world or rules to build upon and a lot of the complaints to be heard about Pillars is how the rules and world are uninspired. For myself, the story has me immediately drawn in and I’m really enjoying peeling back the layers of the world.   The game is built to look precisely like RPGs of old. Beautifully painted backgrounds, not entirely voiced dialogue and a difficulty to the game that feels classic (if all over the place sometimes). There are a few unique...