Sunday 28 February 2021

February 2021 Review: Hello and Goodbye Sharandar

Where the heck did this month go? Not only did my work load get heavier but I've hit the common problem that occurs when you can suddenly download a whole bunch of backlog games: too much hopping, too little progress. To top that all off, I'm now working on the New Sharandar release in Neverwinter Online. 

Nothing like some Wordsworth to say good bye.

Like Shintar, I'm a bit sad at the loss of Old Sharandar and more annoyed that Cryptic has removed yet another piece of content from the game. Anyone keeping a tally?

So far I've got: Original Sharandar, Original Castle Never, Gauntlgrym PvP (Delzoun vs Luskan), Fardelver's Crypt, Dwarf King Crypt, Foundry, Gateway (where you could send your companions on adventures), language support for Polish, Portugese and Turkish, the old craft system, the hourly events, intergame chat (you could talk to friends playing STO) and arguably all the dungeons in "Tales of Old".

Let me know if you can think of anything else...

 Lose 1kg this month (fail)
 Web comic ("I should just restart")


One Year Ago

I was playing through Sekiro and LISA: The Painful RPG while Neverwinter went to hell Avernus.

Five Years Ago

I posted a request to help Louie. Alas, that was a battle he did not win. I was also playing Star Trail and Shadows over Riva while Warhammer: Vermintide and Helldivers kept our co-op game nights busy.

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days

GTFO: R4C2 - Pabulum
Mortal Engines
Metal Gear Survive: The Lord of Dust

The GTFO walk through and the Metal Gear Survive boss posts I get. Not sure how or why Mortal Engines is up there. Guess it's more popular than I gave it credit for? :P

Saturday 27 February 2021

An AFK PUG Solution

[Part of the Design Folder]

Roger once asked if in MMORPGs, you should have expectations of other players - especially when it comes to PUG (randomly grouping player) instances. In his example, the event in Star Trek Online required a minimal effort from everyone to cover all the objectives but since the rewards were based on repeated attendance and not actual participation this encourages a lot of people to just AFK / let the others do the work for them. This is a rampant problem that exists in pretty much every MMO.

Since it boils down to being a social problem, I think the easiest way to handle this is simply via vote system which already exists in many games. The only difference is that this one will only show up if you fail or don't complete all the objectives in a random queue, and it simply asks "in your opinion, which of your team mates performed the worst?". An option to select no one will always be present.

Then, these votes are simply tallied per character/account. Otherwise, if the average of their votes/fails exceeds a particular threshold, they earn some sort of "shit" badge. People with a "shit" badge will only be paired with other "shit" badge holders. There is a way to get rid of that hindrance though - every time they fail a instance/event in a random queue and are NOT voted worst by anyone, the vote count drops by one and eventually the average will sway them back into the good books. 

Note: This is only for failed random queues/instances. If your team wins or you group up with others intentionally (not a random grouping), nothing happens vote wise positive or negative.

That's my idea anyway. Let me know what you think!

Thursday 25 February 2021

Fighting Hell: Supernatural Textorcist

Demon fighting media aimed at specific people.


Saving people, hunting things.

This fifteen season show follows a pair of brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester face all sorts of supernatural horrors and drama yet at the same time can make fun of itself in full comedic episodes and get away with stuff no other show can. They even managed to do an animated crossover with Scooby Doo!

They've pretty much fought everything by the end of the series...

As expected from a long running series the quality does fluctuate a bit but it was still a mainstay for our watch list simply because it's entertaining. Worth watching for sure, I give it three Impala's out of five.

The Textorcist

A bullet hell typing test.

With evil spreading across the world, it is up to you and your handy bible to exorcise the demons to oblivion! This very cool idea becomes very hard really quickly especially later where you need to type Latin, and then the text is reversed or obfuscated.

Type (in Latin) and dodge is around the part I gave up.

Not really one I'd recommend though, as the game play for the two genres clash a bit. I give it two bibles out of five.

Insight: You only take damage if you aren't holding the book, so it's possible to let yourself get hit and have enough time to recover before the next salvo.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

My new favorite.

Odd things are afoot at the city of Gloomhaven and it's up to your cooperative party of up to four to solve it and more importantly, beat up those behind it. At its core, this is a tactical battle RPG but the game play is so different to anything I've played before (and no I've never played the original Gloomhaven).

At the start of a turn, each character selects two cards (out of a hand of 10-ish) to play and must use the top part of one and the bottom part of the other. Usually, movement is at the bottom and attacks are up the top. The cards also have an initiative value, and since you aren't meant to talk exact numbers with your allies (and the bad guys get random initiative anyway) the board can change drastically before you get to do your two moves - after which those cards are discarded.

The pages in the books acting as the "board" is brilliant and should be used more!

There's a way to refresh discarded cards, but it means permanently losing one for the mission. You can also opt to lose a card to negate damage and some cards are simply super strong, but one shot - which means you lose them too. Lose all your HP OR go down to one or less cards and that character is down/exhausted/out of the mission.

While being very alien at the start It's a very cool system and one that encourages loads of thinking. Yes, your characters level up (get better cards to swap in), get perks, can buy / sell gear, have random city events, but the main bulk of this is the thinking, and it's great! It's almost like chess, but you don't know when your move will take place so you probably should have a pair of cards that will work in multiple ways. But does that pair have a low enough/high enough initiative value? Are you hoping the baddies move into range first? Or do you want them right where they are now to do an effective combo?

The tutorial of the game is fantastic too as it really helped my gaming crew get the hang of what is going on while slowly adding more and more mechanics. Also, having the maps simply printed in the book is pure genius as well as that cuts down a lot of setup time. I can't recommend this game highly enough and give it six hatchets out of five. Yes, it's so good it broke my scale. Obviously it's my new favorite. :P

Insight: Reach level five before attempting the missions past number 17.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Get Smart (2008)

There's no such thing as too much information.

Secret agent analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) dreams of becoming a field agent one day, like Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson) and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), to help his covert agency "Control" from stopping the evil plots of their counterparts at KAOS.

He's got everything under control.

Based on the old series of the same name, this action comedy has some really fun bits and is quite an entertaining  watch with many gags and a few decent action pieces. Like anything comedy, there will be hits and misses for everyone, and for me is was mostly the former which led me to enjoying this but I still felt it did run a little long. Anyway, one for a light hearted evening - I give it two and a half mini crossbow bolts out of five.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Kingdom: Classic and New Lands

Nothing lasts...

Kingdom: New Lands

As monarch in a land filled with vagrants, it is up to you and your coin purse to put people to work on building a boat to escape and the defenses to survive each night against greedy monsters (known as "Greed") who want to rob you and your subjects of all their material goods.

While the controls are very simple there is actually quite a bit of gameplay that is unexplained which is a bit of a downer. There is also a good amount of idling at the start when you are still trying to get your capital flowing and the idea that you just need to keep running from the monsters kinda sucks. Still an interesting look into this series, I give it two and a half forests out of five.

Insight: Towers (built on rocks) are not as good as hiring a lot of archers and upgrading your walls. Also vagrant camps and trading posts only exist if they have trees around them, so don't go nuts with deforestation.

Just another day in the Kingdom...

Kingdom: Classic

As the king or queen in this minimalist side scroller, you are tasked with building and expanding a kingdom while keeping your subjects safe from greedy terrors at night. Indeed, unlike New Lands, your ultimate goal here is to destroy the greed portals - which is epic!

While most things work the same as New Lands, there are slight differences but all of them are easy enough to work around. It does require a good amount of patience though, as really there is a point of no return when you start attacking.

If you can't handle the counter attack, expect to be starting  again as it will be very hard to recover from that position. Still fun though! I give it three farms out of five.

Insight: Go slow when upgrading your camp as the daily tax chest money really dries up once you hit stone buildings. You need a literal army ready before you start attacking the greed.

Monday 22 February 2021

Dead Bits: Walking Dead mini series

The Walking Dead is a popular zombie show that has spawned a number of spin-off series, and I'm not going to talk about any of those here. Instead, this is a review on all the tiny web series currently on offer.

Walking Dead: Torn Apart

This low quality and cheap production is set at the start of the epidemic, and is obviously a trial "add on" for the Walking Dead universe. Some B-class acting abounds from the protagonists trying to decide what to do but it did actually do justice in the jump scare department. Best watched before the main series as it includes characters encountered in season 1.

Walkind Dead: Cold Storage

An obvious upgrade from Torn Apart with better quality everything really. This follows a survivors encounter with a safe haven in the form of a storage building. The decent story is one of my favorites in this set, and is best watched before the main series.

Walking Dead: The Oath

Apart from some poor quality at the start, this one has a decent story that follows survivors looking for a medical facility to treat their wounds. For a change there are some nice surprises here, but I still prefer the story of Cold Storage altogether. Again watch before the main series as the location is visited in season 1.

Walking Dead: Red Machete

Definitely different from the above in that this artistic and almost voiceless series follows the titular red machete from its unboxing and across its many, many owners. The cartoon segment while nice feels a bit forced, and would have been better replaced by actual shots from the main show. Still an interesting watch, but unlike the above three this one should only be seen after season 7.

The weapon is the main character. Interesting...

Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 426

We've had snakes on a plane, so why not zombies? Set entirely in an aircraft on Z-day #1, this story is quite neat though also predictable in equal measure. It definitely has a cooler tie in to the Fear series though, so watch it before watching Fear Season 1.

Fear the Walking Dead: Passage

Following survivors seeking passage to safety, this one is really good in terms of set quality but really weak in terms of story and acting, leading it to be my least favourite of all the shorts. Also some real "wtf" moments like, why did you bother putting that zombie in a hazmat suit? Anyway, best watched after Fear Season 3 I guess.

The Althea Tapes

Best watched after Fear Season 4 this is perhaps the lowest budget of all the series thus far, taking the interview type approach for all of its six episodes. While the acting is decent, which is good since it's literally just people talking at the camera, it simply isn't compelling enough to recommend. There was an opportunity to tie it into Fear itself but it looks like that opportunity was squandered.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Accountability: Railroaded Goals aren't for me

Three games that I quickly dropped!

Football Manager 2020

Do you like soccer so much that you wish you could be the manager of one of the teams rather than play on the field yourself? If so, this game is for you! In it you'll spend most of your time reading and replying to emails, managing funds, player recruitment, training regimes and developing on-paper strategies to use on the field.

Don't worry! You'll also get to watch all of your teams games and yell stuff from the sidelines. Honestly, that's just too much for me and it's much simpler if you were just a dude kicking a ball instead.

Railway Empire

Do you like model train sets? Then this game is for you! In it you get to build your own stations, tracks and plan train routes across the USA to supply various cities with goods and transportation. As part of the package you need to worry about how trains will pass each other, because having only one locomotive is too easy and not profitable enough to meet the time limit goals put upon you.

Also, no building game is complete without fund management! Yep. In addition to train sets I hope you like accounting! Does supplying out of the way cotton make more of a profit than supplying timber which is en route between two towns? But an over supply will drop the prices, hmm! Yeah. Not one for me either.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3

Since building a railway is too complicated, how about roller coasters instead? Those are fun right!? Especially when you can custom make one and then actually get the camera to ride it (which is cool). It is a wee bit technical to get started here, but then you will soon realize that even theme parks require... accounting!

Yep. Decide what you charge at the gate, what you charge for the rides, what you charge for food, where the queue for each ride goes, how long the wait time for a ride is, how many maintenance crew and entertainers you can afford to pay, and of course - the careful placement of toilets. Yes, what good is a roller coaster without TOILETS!? Yep. That's about the point where I gave up.

Saturday 20 February 2021

Wanted: Killerman

Two stupid movies but only one is entertaining.


Gives physics the middle finger.

Wesley (James McAvoy) is a nobody who keeps getting pushed around until he is recruited by a group of assassins who reveal he actually has crazy physics defying firearm abilities.

Angelina Jolie as eye candy always gets a thumbs up!

Becoming amazing at killing people is how he takes back control of his life, but its the process that is most entertaining - even though the ballistics are quite laughable. That's part of the fun! If you are looking for a not too serious action flick, this might be for you. I give it two and a half bullet bends out of five and yeah, I'd watch it again.


They really wanted to keep that title.

Moe (Liam Hemsworth) is good at laundering money, but not so good at keeping his friends from making stupid, dangerous and life altering decisions which puts him in everyone's cross hairs. For an action crime movie, there's not a lot of action and a pretty low body count. It does have loads of "traversal" filler padding though of Moe goes here. Then here. Drives here. All with no dialogue meaning all of it could have been cut from the film.

My biggest problem with this is that for the majority of the film, I didn't really care about any of the characters. Drug dealers and assholes who enable them by laundering their cash are the "heroes"? They can all die in a fire like the worthless pieces of shit they are as far as I'm concerned. Worthless movie and a waste of time. One dirty cop out of five.

Thursday 18 February 2021

Where the Water tastes like Wine

Tough luck if you dislike wine.

In this strange walking simulator, you are tasked with collecting stories all across the USA to then "use" on other travelers to unlock their stories, which is the main challenge as not only do they wander around but they ask for specific types of tales before sharing their own.

You run into all sorts of things!

That bit is interesting enough, though I did wish they had a female voice actor for some of the lines. Unfortunately the walking bit - which is both tedious and the main part of the game - is quite slow despite having options for a temporary boost or hitch hiking. What did grab me was the fantastic sound track to the game... some of which I'm already learning!

Unfortunately it's not enough to earn a recommendation. I give it two dire wolves out of five.

Insight: Always scout nearby points of interest before heading to a camp so you have more story options. Remember to check your "I"nventory to swap stories around too.

Less than Super: Shields of the Ray

One makes it work, the other doesn't.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Proves it doesn't need super powers.

This seven season series follows the titular secret organization and their continued missions to save the world while dealing with terrorists, traitors, aliens, robots, time travel and everything in between - and that's on top of "powered individuals" since this show exists in the Marvel universe.

Very cool.

Despite a number of logic flaws peppered in, I was surprised at how cool this turned out, as I was strongly in the camp of "why are we watching these people who have no super powers while constantly being reminded that the Avengers are a thing?"

Even without the movie tie-ins, which there are a few, this was definitely an interesting watch and one I can easily recommend. Three and a half Tahiti's out of five.

Freedom Fighters: The Ray

More animated Arrowverse! Except, more isn't always "better"...

Earth X is over run by Nazis, and after an embarrassing defeat the superhero known as the Ray hops dimension onto Earth-1 and promptly dies in the backyard of Ray Terrill, who takes up the mantle and powers of the deceased traveler. This attracts the attention of local heroes from team Arrow, team Flash and Vixen, and of course, the Nazis from Earth X!

The weakest / most worthless Arrowverse team so far.

This two "season" show really only amounts to an hour all up, so there's not much plot to be found here given that half of it are action pieces, and while those and the animation quality are decent - you aren't really missing out on much if you give this a miss. Also isn't "freedom fighter" a synonym to "terrorist"? Just saying. One closet out of five.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Platform Fever 2: Stick to the Ascendant Cave Story


A relaxing rogue-like?

This action platformer sees you fight through randomly rooms of enemies and bosses until you finally ascend. Thankfully it plays pretty quickly and has a very handy map to help you out as any death means restarting from scratch.

Fortunately, the tutorial is really good and lets you practice the numerous abilities available to you. The knock back mechanic is the best though, as it lets you whack enemies into each other or into deadly spikes!

During the course of a run you will also be picking up currency and upgrades to help you out. Despite lacking in depth it is definitely fun and well animated, and worth a look if you are into this sort of thing. I give it two flies out of five.

Insight: Despite having less life to begin with, Theseus is the better choice of the initial two characters.

Stick it to the Man!

That's one way to get super powers...

What starts as an ordinary day in paper town all changes after getting you get hit on the head, waking to find a spaghetti arm that has the ability to grapple onto pins, read minds and influence people with stickers!

Just what stuff in there using your third hand...

I wasn't taken by the art style in this platform puzzler to start with but the well written and well voiced humor got me hooked right away. Nothing in it is overly challenging, though you might need some lateral thinking to solve some bits. I'm surprised I liked it as much as I did - highly recommended, I give it two and a half scary ghost girls out of five.

Insight: Always use green pins as soon as you find them to open up fast travel options.

Cave Story+

Has a pretty good story!

This fun adventure platformer is fantastic and easy for even platforming newbies to enjoy (provided you pick the correct difficulty) and spins a wonderful tale with complete world building. I found myself stuck an entire afternoon simply because I wanted to see how it ended, and like any decent game - there are multiple variations of that.

Some cute characters and some surprising plot!

Game design is also well done in that it introduces you to basic enemies who then slowly gain more abilities as you advance through the areas, and it helps that most are cutesy critters. Boss fights also use mechanics that you actually are being trained for from the mooks prior to their chambers. Definitely a must play, I give this five Curly Braces out of five.

If you jump and shoot down with a leveled up machine gun, it can act as an additional "booster" to keep you air borne longer.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Surviving Armageddon: The Midnight Sky of Metro Exodus

Because there has to be something after...

The Midnight Sky

It's the end of the world.

Left alone on an Arctic science base while the rest of the planet dies, a terminally ill man (played by George Clooney, who also directs this film) makes it his mission to try contact any space mission in range to warn them of the danger of returning to the irradiated surface.

A nice cup of depression.

This sci-fi flick has some gorgeous cinematography, nice effects, decent acting, and a decent plot and for something we randomly picked on Netflix to watch, it was rather good. Not amazing, but certainly better than George Clooney's other space flick, Gravity. I give The Midnight Sky three peas out of five. A decent watch if you have no expectations.

Metro Exodus

Everything is a lie.

This third Metro game sees Artyom finally leave the mutant filled tunnels in search of the truth on the mutant filled surface! Apparently there are lots of crazies out here too and you get to meet many of them on this journey which can be as blood filled or bloodless as you decide - the latter heavily relying on stealth.

All the spider levels are great nightmare fuel!

Though dangerous, the large open air maps certainly encourage exploration which goes well with the new crafting component to the game that lets you modify base weapons into a variety of firearms. Indeed, the only thing I miss from the previous games are the dark ones (who really ran off at the end of Last Light anyway) and the absurd bullets as cash mechanic which was fantastic.

Definitely worth a play and one I highly recommend. I give it four spiders out of five.

Insight: Load games early as the checkpoint mechanic will easily over take you.

Monday 15 February 2021

Today I Smiled: I scared the Boogeyman

It's a great feeling when Strahd's pet wraith "the night terror", which serves as a wandering boss in Barovia who hunts down and kills people, decides to run and hide from you in its little sphere of invisibility.

I see you! Get out here and fight me!

Obviously its AI broke because after declaring it was chasing me, I spied him fleeing down the hill at the ruins of Berez and get stuck in a corner. Took some coaxing before he finally came out to be slaughtered. Hehehe.

That's almost as good as the time I was harvesting cyclops eyes from the soon to be "old" Sharandar, and upon killing a single cyclops was surprised to find it dropped two eyes...

Sunday 14 February 2021

Shadowrun Collection

D&D... in the future!

If you ever wanted to play a spell casting elf who also happens to wield a shotgun or a cybernetically enhanced troll who controls deadly remote drones in a world where dragons are fought with attack helicopters loaded with magic missiles (that is modern day missiles enhanced with magic) then this might be your jam, chummer!

With the shutdown of Shadowrun Online (aka Boston Lockdown), this collection is your best bet in experiencing this action adventure RPG which makes heavy use of tactical combat (XCOM fans rejoice) and actually contains three full games!

Shadowrun Returns is the first, where upon investigating the death of an acquaintance you get more than you bargained for in a plot involving a serial killer and a crazy cult.

Don't get flanked!

Shadowrun: Dragonfall takes place in Berlin where upon investigating the death of a team mate leads to being hunted by a shadowy organization, in a storyline that has multiple endings based on your choices. The HUD and player controls are much improved here.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong (and the bonus campaign that comes with it) sees you investigate the disappearance of a father figure, which leads to being hunted by the police force, and ultimately an evil god from another plane in another choice filled campaign. The HUD improves again here, and fun hacking mini-games are introduced.

Each is better than the last, so I recommend playing in that order even if they aren't really connected to each other. Also be aware that you can only create your main character. In Returns you need to hire people to fill out your team while the remaining two provide a squad for you (though you can still outsource if you want).

Only main downside to them is there is a LOT of reading. Still, highly recommended I give it (in game order) 3-4 black ICs out of 5.

Friday 12 February 2021

Penny Dreadful and the League of the Extraordinary

Dreadfully Extraordinary.

Penny Dreadful

All sad people like poetry. Happy people like songs.

Veteran hunter and explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) assembles a formidable team of talented people to face the forces of the dark. One of these people is Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) whose fate is intertwined to the survival of the world... or at least, of London.

Kinda wish they made more of this.

This dark and wonderfully cinematographic three season series has some cool fight scenes, more than a few scary sections, a truckload of good acting and some great use of poetry. Alas the plot is not as tightly knit as I'd like with some characters idling on the sidelines for far too long but it still makes for entertaining viewing. Definitely a show I recommend, I give it 3.5 scorpions out of 5.

Fans should also view the pretty decent prequel comic which you can find online that I think is worth a look. Apparently there's also a graphic novel that continues the story after the series as well, but I've not been able to get my hands on that yet.   

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I was hoping I'd get to nail you one more time.

Veteran hunter and explorer Alan Quartermain (Sean Connery) is tasked to lead a formidable team of talented people to face the forces of the dark a mysterious warmonger. While it certainly feels similar to Penny Dreadful, character and setting wise, it's far more light hearted and has many silly moments.

Lol at the forced American in the story.

However, it also has plenty of good action scenes and a decent pace to the story that makes it highly entertaining. Definitely more for action buffs rather than intellectuals, I give this three old tigers out of five and would easily watch it again.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

What a weak spin off.

A time and world away from the original series, this one features Natalie Dormer as a supernatural entity bent on making man war upon himself... only she's not really too powerful at all, requiring whispered suggestions (that sometimes fail) and multiple shapeshifting roles (which is great for the actress, not so great for the character).

Humanizing your supernatural elements is a mistake.

Indeed the Nazis, who are on the rise at this time, are doing a better job than she is but even then they get maybe 35% of the story time. The rest focuses on the Latins and their mistreatment from the whites. I do quite enjoy all those dancing scenes though. There's a surprising amount of it here and perhaps the highlight of the entire show for me. One solo tap routine even greatly improved my liking of one character!

Shame that the writers messed up the plot in this one, or at least failed to make it interesting. Not even Rory Kinnear's reappearance here (as another character) could save it. Cancelled after season one, I can't really recommend this one at all. I give it one and a half loud arguments that go no where out of five.

Thursday 11 February 2021

Take Two: Resident Costume of the Dishonored Bannerlord

Four game sequels, and two days to read all about them. :)

Resident Evil 2

More about running than fighting!

This retelling of Leon and Claire's arrival in a zombie filled Racoon City really shows off how graphics have improved since the original. While the finite enemies are mostly slow they also take too many bullets to permanently kill so you'll need to get good at -sprinting- slow jogging around them while you solve the many puzzles that block your path.

The horror level really ramps up when the unkillable Tyrant arrives too - he's slow but  relentless as he chases you across the neatly designed maps, even into your "safe" rooms. Strangely, that is the best part of the game. Combat in general is average and the story is ludicrous.

Better off running than reloading that weapon...

There is a replayability factor here too as I believe each protagonist has two unique playthroughs but once is enough for me. I did dabble with the "ghost survivors" mode with new heroes and zombies though, but with no save points in any of those scenarios that just became too tedious for me.  All up, pretty good and worth it if you are a RE fan. I give it three green herbs out of five.

Insight: Always use the map to help your searching, a red room means there's still stuff to loot. Second, always ditch items that have a red tick as they have no more uses and simply occupy inventory space.

Costume Quest 2

Now with timey-wimey shenanigans!

I quite enjoyed the first Costume Quest and its DLC. This time around the kids are back to stop a time traveling dentist from banning Halloween and making the world a dental utopia! Much of the game play is the same as last time though you will be using a new set of costumes with slightly different powers.

The puzzles and combat system are simple enough and there's not much grinding to do which is great. Once again, you shouldn't be defeated by anything here as long as you remember the super helpful combat training. Highly recommended, but you need to play the original first as the story does continue on from there. I give it three candies out of five.

Insight: Make use of those combat cards! They don't vanish after use, instead just requiring a cool-down of a few battles. Handy ones are force the enemies to skip a turn, fill up everyone hero gauge, and make minions attack themselves - which you can use to cheese the mini-boss fights against moles and snails.

Dishonored 2

A master class in world building.

Taking place years after the first game, a new threat emerges and this time you can choose your protagonist - Empress Emily Kaldwin or her father and hero from the first game Corvo Attano, in a quest for retribution - which can be as bloody or as bloodless as you want, just be ready to face the consequences.

In fact in my playthrough, I told the Outsider to take a hike and play without any supernatural powers (and only killed two people) which made it feel almost exactly like a thief game! "A+" to player agency! There are some fantastic maps too, all of which have loads of world building thrown on top.

One of the best missions lets you jump through time!

I cannot recommend this game enough, though if you play it as a fully super powered rage machine it might be a tad on the short side. Five exploding bullets out of five.

Insight: I only personally killed two people but lots more died pursuing me into random monsters. Not my fault as I didn't attack them at all! :P

Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord (Early Access)

Brilliant when it comes to sweeping, large scale battles.

After an epic battle participated by every nation resulted in a loss for everyone, Calradia is more divided than ever. While you start out as an individual on a revenge trip, you can eventually grow your army and own shops, villages, castles, cities and even the entire continent if your ambition (and patience) is large enough.

The little quests, tournaments and tavern board games are great (I now love Tablut!) but what this game shines best at is medieval tactical large scale combat - and there is a LOT of it. You'll be charging across plains and hills of grass and sand and snow, skirmishing in forests, using rivers to slow down enemy cavalry, and participating in sieges with functional siege equipment all to some pretty epic music.

While this is certainly an improvement to the original Mount and Blade which laid the foundations nicely, it does suffer a few problems. First, there is a really long intro quest that might put you off but that's quite intentional so that you can build up your clan enough to handle what comes after. The bigger problem is in "the after" and the same one found in the first game: repetition.

The game is good at what it does, but there's only so much before that content grows stale. Sure, this castle looks different than the last one but functionally its the same to get in. Once you've fought one or two massive armies you've fought them all. Don't get me wrong - it's super fun, I'm just wondering ... where to next? Hopefully when this gets out of early access it will have an answer. As it is I give it three battering rams out of five.

Insight: Press N to use the encyclopedia to find people on the map. Also hang on to one handed axes and buy wheat in bulk if offered in "The Art of the Trade" as they are used in other easy quests. You can also slowly cheese some sieges if you go up a ladder with a two handed spear and stab the defenders out of their range. This won't work if enemy archers are covering the ladder though.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Because Girls are Better: Ava, Enola Holmes and the Queen's Gambit

Well, they're better when they are actually written that way...

Enola Holmes

Too talkative for her own good.

When Mrs. Holmes suddenly vanishes, her abandoned daughter Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) decides to go find her after her two older brothers (Sherlock and Mycroft) prove to be less than helpful. While it has an okay plot and decent acting this flick did annoy me with its constant fourth wall breaking.

At least Millie Bobby Brown seems to be having fun.

I don't mind when Deadpool does it, but it just felt so out of place here... and it just gave me a negative feeling every time Enola would do it. Ah well, maybe it better works on this films intended audience, so if that sounds like you give it a try. For everyone else, eh - you can probably find something better on. One and a half flowers out of five.


Also too talkative for her own good.

An assassin (Jessica Chastain) who keeps breaking the rules of her employer soon finds that she is next on the target list. The plot is predictable and the action pieces are ok, but it feels like the producers tried to remake John Wick with a female lead and a small scale... it doesn't work.

Nor did it need to. The writers went out of their way to really give flaws to all the main characters and it could have been interesting if they did something other than copy what had been done before. As it is though this is a bit of a miss for me, but still an ok movie for action fans with nothing else to watch. Two addictions out of five.

The Queen's Gambit

Teaches a bit of chess on the side.

Orphaned at a young age, Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers a passion for chess and substance abuse. While that combination doesn't earn her many friends, it does drive her to become the best at her sport which is the main plot of this one season series.

Definitely a beautiful series and one we were very engaged in, even though we didn't quite like Beth's flaws (but hey, that's required for character development right). Worth watching and one I can recommend. Strangely, this story about chess is far better than the above two films! I give it three and a half rooks out of five.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Old School War: Rites, Wind and Universalis II

It's pretty painful.

War Wind

I think this was SSI's answer to Dune (RTS).

This real time strategy game takes place on an alien planet and involves using workers to harvest resources, construct buildings, hire units and then sending them out to battle enemies and fauna on the map.

It also features four completely different factions/campaigns to pick from which is massive! Unfortunately all are really aliens which doesn't make them too relatable, even though the story is a simple one of rebellion.

Also, there is zero tutorial available and it's so old, when you save or load a game it actually temporarily drops you into windows to use the default file handler! A bit too dated for my taste, I give it only one and a half tech pigs out of five.

Insight: Right clicking on a unit brings up their valid commands - like instruct workers to build or harvest.

Europa Universalis II

Information overload!

In this old school, world conquering game you take command over a country with the goal of achieving more victory points than anyone else before time runs out. Don't worry, many kings will come and go before that happens.

What is totally nuts though is the broad scope covered here, as you play on a map of the world and depending on your chosen nation, there can be a lot going on. Spain for example is sprawling all the way across to America so you could be dealing with Aztecs and the French at the same time.

Too much going on all the time.

The dated interface also isn't the best meaning you'll need many clicks to find out what's going on, and that's while the game is paused! If time is going, expect to be interrupted by pop up boxes galore, some requiring you to make important choices while more popups get in the way.

Avid war gamers might enjoy this but it ended up being way too complicated for me. One and a half census tax collections out of five.

Insight: Pause is your friend.

Warhammer 40K: Rites of War

In the future, there is only hex-based war!

The Eldar have grown weary of the ruthless expansions of mankind, especially as they now desecrate their ancient sites with their mere presence. You are tasked with assembling a small army (you'll be lucky to field 12 squads) to eliminate the Imperials, Space Marines and random Tyranids that block your path to retrieve holy relics... that only can only be carried by a unit not already holding one.

Should that happen your entire army shrugs, goes "oh well" and is forced to leave it behind - even if every single other unit you have doesn't yet have a relic. Yep. It's annoyances like this that make this hex based war game more tedious than it should be.

The "rest" action is also heavily used by the AI to recover unit strength which means if you can't kill an enemy off in one turn, you will likely have to fight it at near full power again really soon. Have fun when your are getting swarmed by superior numbers and that happens! Not really a game for anyone other than Warhammer Eldar fans, I give this one and a half scatter lasers out of five.

Insight: Stick together and move your slowest units forward first. Support types are great since they get extra attacks out of turn.

Monday 8 February 2021

GTFO: R4B3 - Chrysolite (Normal)

Its time to drop back down and uplink into three terminals! We brought the same gear as last time: DL (dmr/sniper/mines), Jim (dmr/combat shotty/cfoam), and me (autopistol/machine gun/cfoam). If you want to follow this as a walkthrough, I suggest using the first terminal you find to QUERY all the terminals you need - ensuring one is in Zone 40 and restarting if it is placed in Zone 41 (harder hold).

Quietly clear your way to the bulkhead room which is near your starting spot, and plug the bulkhead key into the lock - for a change the key is usually right beside it! Once done, continue clearing until you have a choice between opening the Normal bulkhead, or doing a locked class II cluster security door. Do the security door first (the key is around nearby), ensuring to close the single door leading into this chamber.

No ice on the door for a change, just a mine instead. We cleared circles while fighting with my auto pistol taking point to slow the horde. Once the circles are finished our fall back spot is up the stairs to let them advance through the narrow bridge / kill zone.

Once done, you can go in there and clear out all the rooms as per normal (small chance of a scout) and you will find two terminals, one of them being required for the mission. DO NOT DO THIS ONE YET.

Instead, go through the bulkhead this time and follow the right wall. Open the small door, clear the room and then still following the right wall open that big door which leads into a tiny foyer with a locked security door. Continue following the right wall, opening doors to "save" them while clearing. Be sure to clear the center area too (high chance of scout). You can skip opening/clearing zones F and G if there's nothing you need there though.

There are two terminals in the area. One in an upstairs/downstairs room to the North, and one you would would have found early to the East. Either one has three doors to hold. Hopefully you get the North terminal, in which case ice and mine the two upstairs doors (they rarely go downstairs). The enemies will prioritize coming from the upper Eastern one. If you have the East terminal, ice all the doors (except the big one to the security scan which you should leave open).

Tip: Before starting, type in UPLINK_VERIFY then press enter. Nothing will happen, but now you can arrow up to get the command back which saves some time. So, UPLINK_CONNECT [IP address] then UPLINK_VERIFY [the four letter word that matches the code displayed on your HUD - note you cannot see these while typing on the terminal so ESC out as required.] Each mission terminal here requires four codes, and baddies will be spawning once you connect.

Once done, clear the remaining scum - preferably using the joust method (sprint at them with a hammer swing and continue running past, if you hear an attack coming turn 20 degrees and/or jump - then once clear turn around and go again) then its on to the Zone 40 security door - hopefully you found the key card by now. If you somehow got Zone 41, then you need a cell instead to power the North security instead. Good luck. Both doors hold a class III alarm.

The Zone 40 hold is simple, its a tiny room with one big door so mine and ice the door until the circles are done, wait for the door to break and stun em with the autopistol then run through them. Then it's back to jousting (but shoot the giants).

Beyond that (40 or 41) is standard fare clearing (guaranteed scout) and for z40, clear everything. Hopefully the terminal is in the big room instead of the adjacent one as it's easier to defend the big one (the small Western door is the priority). If you get the tiny room adjacent, you should ice the door North of the terminal and the one heading West. Hold until codes are done then joust again.

Finally, return to the very first terminal I told you to skip. This one is simpler if the terminal is in the furthest room as there's only one door to hold, but ours was outside so we iced the East door and Jim and DL would simply guard against the other four. We made a mistake here in that after finishing the last code, we stuck around to fight - INSTEAD YOU NEED TO GTFO.

So I got downed while jousting, Jim got lost and got pinned elsewhere, but DL made it back to the extract spot to "pass over" the exit circle. Lucky its a fast one. He only needed to make four or five circuits through the bulkhead key chamber to win the mission. Despite Jim and I being down, it also counted as a win for us! Excellent!

Saturday 6 February 2021

Platform Fever: Goodnight Pikuniku 20XX

When you are tired of 3D!


Introduces baskick to the world!

In this puzzle platformer you play as a red long legged creature who is easily roped in to solving everyone's problems. The graphics are simple but quite cute but what really irritates me is the amount of backtracking involved.

It's very colorful!

That and the need to kick things. A lot. No matter how "nice" you want to be, if you want to solve stuff and progress through the game you need to kick things/people. Oh well, it might be worth a look to some but alas this one isn't for me. 1.5 baskicks out of 5.

Insight: Kick the spider to advance.

Goodnight, Lily

A simple nightmarish platformer.

This short platformer certainly feels like someone's pet project due to the simplicity and length. In it, you must navigate through the single path to reach the end - using the light of a lantern to keep away shadowy hands out to get you (and for some reason has no effect on the chasing wall of hands in the last level).

Multiple checkpoints keep the game playable so death isn't such a big deal and structurally the levels are designed with in built tutorials before really testing your skills, which is good. Unfortunately the checkpoints aren't retained if you quit the game though so you must win this in one sitting (or pause the game if you walk away).

Not really one I recommend, but if you are curious it is free on steam. I give it one and a half webbed flowers out of five.

Insight: You can short cut some of the going down sections by falling right at the edge and moving in the direction to get underneath your current platform.


A forever platformer!

Random robot monsters are on the loose and its up to a dynamic duo, contracted by some really scummy scientists, to make it through the randomized platformer levels of ever increasing difficulty to defeat the bosses... in a random order! Did I mention the game is random? Because it is.

Random boss clown because randomness is cool apparently?

It's also super repetitive because if you die during a run, guess what - you get to start from scratch (though you can grind up some permanent upgrades with enough runs)! An interesting concept for sure but is it one that actually works? Maybe if I was more of a die hard platform fan, who are the only group I can recommend this game to. For everyone else, stay away. One robot bat out of five.

Insight: The vertical options of the levels often lead to bonus chests. If you are just after the boss just try to keep going right.

The Good Place

Everything is alright.

This well written afterlife comedy is entertaining, fun and also makes interesting use of ethics and philosophy. The cast led by Kirsten Bell and Ted Danson also do a wonderful job of creating some endearing characters.

Aww, they're a good bunch!

For me the show started "ok" and just steadily improved over its four seasons and is now easily one I can recommend to anybody. While the title makes it easy to over look, it's definitely worth a try and is one of the few series I think I would actually watch again.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

Now this is a true idle game!

In this simple but addictive clicker game, you are tasked with assembling a team of heroes to take on some well known D&D campaigns, crossing paths with the likes of Strahd, Halaster, Acererak, Valindra and Zariel. To win the missions through each campaign you'll need to mix, match and position your heroes to the best benefit of the party.

While "the tank is up front" might be obvious, there are many less so with some people preferring to be away from others, healers only healing the forward row or DPS buffing the back rows etc. While collecting gear is a thing, collecting and expanding your hero roster is also interesting as there are LOTS to collect. While some are locked behind some tough missions, most are readily available via monthly events, giveaways and time gates (which let you replay the monthly events you may have missed).

Once your party sets off, you can assist with clicking near the start but later on there is little to no input required from you making it a perfect game to run in the background. Indeed, the adventure continues even when you shut down the game albeit a little slower. This is fine as heroes can't die and you can't "lose" a mission unless you specifically back out of it. And you might just do that a few times to increase your "gold find" ratio.

Familiar faces all around.

Gold find is the main advancement metric through out each campaign. The more gold you have when you "end" a run (win or lose), the more gold find percentage you gain which will help you on future runs. How? Simple, your characters can level up sooner and higher. There is a pay to win component here but it is very slight as players are regularly bombarded by free chests and rewards anyway, a feature that really got me sucked into this idler. I give it three mind witnesses out of five and recommend it to people that enjoy this sort of thing.

Insight: If you reach a level that your team can't pass, simply rearrange them for starters as they might not be in the best positions anymore, especially after leveling up. To help on your journey, also regularly check this combinations page for free loot!

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Toilet humor must be one of them.

In this comedy western, a sheep farmer (Seth MacFarlane) tries to win back his girlfriend with the help of a new comer to the town (Charlize Theron). With a predictable story you'll mostly hang around for the jokes and gags which will be hit and miss, mainly depending on how much you enjoy Seth MacFarlane's material. I found it funny enough, and was entertained by the surprising cameos.

Favorite character. :P

Not sure I'd recommend it though. I guess if you like Seth's other works such as Family Guy or American Dad! then this might be for you, otherwise it's your mileage may vary... you might end up counting sheep. I give it one and a half hat turds out of five.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Simply Mobile: Sword, Swordcery and Solitairica

Two games clearly designed for mobile devices, played on PC!

Superbrothers: Sword and Swordcery

Its a woeful task with some groovy music.

Obviously designed for a mobile device, this game sets you on an epic and somewhat musical quest set in a strange tone. Despite the blocky art style the environment is beautiful and so are the tunes provided by Jim Guthrie, who features a fair bit in here. The controls do take a bit of getting used to, but are otherwise serviceable for navigation and combat.

It's a bit too groovy and chill for the setting.

There are numerous "find the spot" puzzles too, which aren't too hard to work out if you pay attention to the hints - or failing that, just click randomly to get an idea of what is active in a scene. There is one section that does irritate me though, and that's where the game forces you to wait for the correct phase of the moon. In real.

Yep, you have activities that require both the new moon and the full moon and while there are cheating ways to get around it, it is simply a bad design - and one that led me to not completing the game. Why wait on this one when there are so many others to play? Anyway. Interesting enough to try out but not enough to recommend. I give it 1.5 gogolithic mass out of 5.

Insight: Don't worry about how to fight at the start. Only when you run into an enemy do you get into the two button combat mode. Also, click repeatedly on the cigar smoking guy or the game will never start.


Makes the old new, and then gets old quick.

On paper, this game is pretty simple - its a set on 18 one on one battles against enemies until you reach and defeat the big boss. Each bad guy has a solitaire type set of decks in front of them, and to win the battle you just have to clear all their cards, simply by matching the numeric sequence to be one above or below your current card. If you hold a 2, you can clear an Ace, then a King, then a Queen, and back to a King etc.

Cards are also powered with various powers and once you have enough of one type you can activate one of your abilities, but the whole thing is pretty much complicated by two things: firstly the enemies DON'T play with cards. If you can't match anything and have to draw a new one from the deck, your opponent can deal damage or do a random ability - like drain some of your powers or add cards to each column.

Not compelling at all.

The harder part with this is the randomness, as bad guys can literally change the cards in front of you and there are numerous times where I only had one card left to clear, but I simply couldn't find the matching adjacent one in my own deck before the enemy killed me. Frustrating.

Not one I enjoyed much and not one I'd recommend. Expect to grind out enhancements, item slots, or simply new character decks if you are looking into this one. Two beards out of five.

Insight: Healing and armor abilities are almost mandatory to survive.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Ready Player One

"How many cameos CAN we fit in here?"

The future sucks so bad that everyone prefers to live in the virtual world of "OASIS", whose creator has hidden a key of the twilight golden easter egg within which will grant whomever finds it first, total control of the virtual world and a fair bit of cash in the real world too. Naturally our heroes are the ones on the quest for this holy grail.

And there's always time for dancing in any quest...

A good chunk of this movie (75%?) is all pretty good quality CGI since it takes place in the game, and since people can make their avatars look like anything you are treated to so many cameos that I'm surprised the movie didn't sink purely from copyright battles. Other than that, the plot is pretty predictable skipping a huge potential twist I would have liked to see (you might have the same feeling when you watch it).

Another negative is they try make "real stakes" and "real danger" in the "real world" but I pretty much didn't care. The main character barely did. Despite that it's still a fun movie without much depth. But hey, that's kinda how I like my action adventure stories! I give this three players out of five, and would watch it again.

Monday 1 February 2021


A minecraft roguelike.

Tasked with delving deep into the nearby dungeon to free a cursed town from the evil within sounds super familiar, but you probably haven't seen it in blocky Minecraft vision before. That's exactly what this game is: and you can take up to three friends with you!

Surprisingly, there is a fantastic tutorial which shows just how deep this game goes. Melee weps have weaknesses, there are different types of ammo for long ranged weapons, you can throw things, cast a variety of spells, build turrets, mix potions, parry with a shield, sneak past enemies, command NPC allies, appraise gems to sell them for more money and so on.

That is a very bad looking situation...

And then you step into the main dungeon and get insta-killed by a boulder. Yep. The death traps aren't as dangerous as the many enemies lurking inside though and given its a rogue like, and death is final (less final if you are in co-op unless you all die), which means you then get to start again from the top! Strangely, even GTFO is more forgiving than that. :P

It's a game I'd probably get into if I found people willing to play it, but the graphics and style are just not going to cut it with my regular group. I give it 2.5 minotaurs out of 5.

Insight: Long corridors that loop onto themselves are great for lure-killing with throwing weapons. It's hard to miss if the enemy has no room to evade and each loop you can pick up your thrown weapons again (which are the only type to never break).