Wednesday, 31 March 2021

March 2021 Review: Goodbye Muffin

Just a short one this time as I'm a bit down. Muffin, Jim's pet malamute, passed away yesterday. She was a good dog. :(



Gaming wise, I know I told myself I'd be doing less story posts but I simply can't help it when I play a game like Pillars of Eternity which is what's kept me busy for most of this month almost to the exclusion of everything else! The same goes for the crazy board game known as Cthulhu: Death May Die so expect to see some of that coming up soon.

BLOG STATS

One Year Ago

Like many others I got locked down by COVID. I also started posting about my adventures in Enderal.

Five Years Ago

I started playing Thea and was enjoying foundry quests in Neverwinter Online, most by content creator master Eldarth. Needless to say he long gone since the foundry got shut down, as are his epic creations - much to Neverwinter's detriment.

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days

February 2021 Review: Hello and Goodbye Sharandar
Longmire
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

That's a first, having a blog status post take the top spot. I guess the mix of Sharandar news and a Wordsworth poem is a winner! The other two are understandable as both Longmire and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion are quite popular pieces of media.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Hades

Dying moves the game forward.

In this action roguelike, Zagreus, eager to run away from his hellish home will let nothing get in his way, not even death! Unlike most games death isn't a game over though - instead it is a set back which puts you right back at the start... however, thanks to a magic mirror you can actually make Zagreus stronger per attempt and then there's the absolute brilliant part... death actually advances the story. 


You've got a long climb ahead...

Being the son of Hades, being sent back to the start lets you meet more people / possibly even adversaries who you've fought/yet to fight, have more fantastic dialogue with everyone and generally get to know what is actually going on.

It's also clever in the way it works the randomness in like just as you get used to a boss it's suddenly switched out to a new person to throw you off, and the way the rooms are generated on your escape route. You can always pick what reward you are after when you choose the path, but if you've been dutifully doing your father's tasks you might have actually created rest chambers and the like to aid your escape.

While the game play does get repetitive in that you need to go through a to b to c, the genius design alleviates it to some degree making it a pretty enjoyable experience. I give it three Obols out of five.

Insight: It's worth working on the Minor Prophecies to boost your currency.

Monday, 29 March 2021

The Alienist

Aka psychiatrist.

It's 1986 and to help solve a series of gruesome murders, titular alienist Lazlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl) is called to help the police to solve the crime and catch the killer. There's quite a bit of production value behind this one with good set pieces and costumes to back up the decent acting though there are bridges in the plot you'll need to ignore. Large rickety bridges.


The intrepid and always well dressed heroes.

Season two sees Dakota Fanning's character take more of a lead role in the series since Lazlo is somewhat unlikable at times, though this does make it sway a bit too much into the "girl power" spectrum. Regardless, both seasons make for interesting TV especially if you are into period murder mysteries. I give it three climbing hooks out of five and would watch season 3 if one is ever produced.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Sunless Sea

Likes the letter Z.

This roguelike game has you captaining a ship in top down fashion to explore the terrifying pitch black waters of the Unterzee and collect various currencies while evading or fighting the pirates and giant monsters that lurk those waters.  


Takes a bit of getting used to.

They do warn you that your first few captains may perish, but they can always pass something down to their successor to make future runs slightly easier but really death wasn't the problem for me: it was the slow movement.

Yes, the ocean is scary when there's something around. The other 70% of the time is just traversal and with such a slow pace this game commits the sin of having too much empty space without anything to do. The journal interface also took a bit to get used to but while clunky, its fine compared to the other problem. As such I can't recommend this and give it one and a half zeebats out of five.

Insight: In combat, try stay behind enemies so they can't shoot you.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Wandavision

There's nothing wrong with your TV...

This time amalgamating sitcom featuring Avengers members Wanda Maximoff (Elisabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany) is fantastic and mind trippy but definitely something to hold off on watching it until you've seen at least Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame as this takes place after those.


Thumbs up for these two!

The oddity of the episode changing format (not to mention the cool music) is what really makes this stand out among other superhero series. It is also the reason I don't think they can do a season two of the same format That doesn't matter though, as this makes for excellent viewing - doubly so for people who enjoy the superhero genre! I give it three and a half Fietros out of five and would probably watch all nine episodes again!

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Hitman (2016)

Let's try this again. And again. And again!

This reboot (after Absolution) sees Agent 47 tackle eight new missions in spectacular settings all over the world. While the story takes a bit of a back seat, the actual stealth game play in each of those maps is superb and clearly designed for multiple playthroughs, given the number of unique methods to kill each target.


My favorite way of killing people.

The interface and controls are nice and clean, and 47's super senses really help in finding everyone's patterns. But hey, if you lack the patience, you can always just draw your weapon and start shooting. Loads of fun and lots of funny stuff to boot, I only have two complaints: the first being the length. As it is focused on replayability, there is less actual length to the game which can be finished in a weekend.

Secondly, the online "elusive targets" mode sounds great - until you realize the time has expired on all of them and this game is no longer supports those. Leaving the menu in to see everything you "missed" and can't ever play again leaves me less convinced to pay for the current Hitman game rather than more. I mean, they could have easily just removed that menu item, but there it is. Still recommended for stealth or Hitman fans, I give this three and a half Helmut Krugers out of five.

Insight: Coins are OP. If you run out of coins, throwing anything else with weight (like scissors) can have the same effect of luring someone to the sound.

Shooter (TV Series)

He doesn't miss... often.

Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) is one of the best retired snipers in the world. It is amazing that bad guys keep trying to mess with him throughout this three season series produced by Mark Wahlberg (who originally played Swagger in a movie of the same name). There are decent action scenes and obviously a bit of gun play, but there are parts in the story which will make you go "Huh?"


The plot unravels a bit later in the series.

It is still entertaining though, and an easy recommendation for action fans, especially action fans that like guns. I give it three Black King's out of five and would actually watch the whole thing again.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

GTFO: R4D1 - Nucleus (Normal - Part III)

Last time, you've already found two codes and fought through three waves of sleepers. From the reactor room the door to the South is open so get in there as a team - we go down the left ramp, up the middle ramp to reach the security door - hammering any sleeping chargers on the way. Do the security door first to open it so the sneaker (me) can do his thing while everyone else loots the ramp room. I also leave my sentry gun out there so someone else can refill it.

Next part is all solo stealth. Rush but don't rush, done properly you have enough time as the sneaker to even type the code at the reactor yourself: beyond the door look for stairs down into the fog on the left, hug the left wall until you reach the large door. The room beyond is pitch black and always full of sleepers. Using the flashlight sparingly go directly forward to find some stairs up. Follow the right edge of the platform till you reach the terminal. If it's not that one, continue following the right wall to the second one much further back.

Get the code and sneak back out for the last wave at the hold spot, which now features giant chargers as well. Push forward once time is up, taking care of any stragglers. The whole team must reach the terminal rooms in the West (the ones past the double scout bridge) and ideally be carrying c-foam grenades so use the same path as before. Clear the room and anything chasing you then close the important little door and c-foam it. Also make sure the big door downstairs is closed. As long as it is, you don't need to worry about it.

Now you need to do an Class IV alarm (it lies, it's more like a class VII) door now and time is ticking away! Note the alarm sequence includes a few full team scans - big circles that don't advance unless you are ALL on it. Take turns c-foaming the door then win the fight when the door is unlocked. At this point Jim heads back to the reactor while DL and I enter the dreaded scout room: it's big, has poor visibility, and holds lots of sleepers and numerous scouts.

There are also three terminals in here and the easiest one is upwards so to get there look for stairs up to the catwalk on the left then the next stairs up to the right, turn right and up some more stairs then turn right to follow the walkway. Note I had to hammer a scout doing this. First terminal is there, if its not the one use it to PING the terminal you need to find it.

As soon as I got the log file password, Jim typed it in at the reactor chamber stopping the timer. He then retreated to the extraction spot (first room) and waited. Basically we had won at this point since the extract circle is fast, however we didn't need to cheat is as DL and I snuck back out of the scout room successfully for a full team extract! VICTORY!

That mission was so hard to win. You want us to do the Extreme option next? GTFO.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

GTFO: R4D1 - Nucleus (Normal - Part II)

Previously, you've found the first code and typed it into the reactor console. Now you are running back to the hold spot for wave two - put both sniper sentries down to assist. It's much like wave one, only you'll finish the cool down counter before the enemies stop spawning - and the last batches are always spikey chargers. No time to waste though, with shotguns taking point push forward when there's a gap back to the reactor room - this time the West door is open.

It's a bridge with two scouts! Our tactic is that I hammer one (cfoam grenade speeds up things) then DL snipes the other. Loot the bridge quickly and do the team scan on the blood door on the other end. DL puts around four mines before opening the door while Jim and I put sentries down from the reactor room end to cover the double scout bridge. Hybrid shooters are again the biggest threat.

Once done the sneaker has to go quick (that's me), leaving my sentry gun for Jim to fill. Jim's also going to hang around to type in the pass code at the reactor as this is also the tightest section time wise while DL comes along to try clear the first bit to help my escape. Note for sneaker: You can still hammer, but don't wake things up!

The path to the terminals: Past the blood door take the right most small door and head West. You can either go up the stairs then down the other side or do a little hop over the edge of the pit to the left (hop is faster). Continue West through the huge arch then turn right into the well lit section, then left. You'll see a small door at the end. Go there and keep that little door open (important).

In the little door, go down the stairs on your left then up the next stairs to the platform. First terminal is on your right. If its not that one, go back to the stairwell and notice stairs going up. Follow them and turn left to find the second terminal. Get the code and hope that there's enough time for your team mate to type it.

Note: I've never made it out of this room before Jim had to type the code so make sure you elect a second terminal tech for the job.

On the plus side, you can now sprint back out even if that means things are following you as you need it clear for later anyway. Remember to pick up your sentry and ammo (ideally) on the way to the hold spot to fight the next wave, which is pretty similar to the last wave. Only more of them and more chargers earlier. Again, you must advance to the reactor room as soon as time / enemy flow dictates even if things are still coming in. As long as the combat music is going it's not safe, so be on your guard and have someone watch your six.

When all enemies are gone, you can proceed to the next area in the South which we'll cover tomorrow!

Monday, 22 March 2021

GTFO: R4D1 - Nucleus (Normal - Part I)

This "Turn on the Reactor" mission is very painful mainly due to having to find terminals while under time pressure. On the flip side, it's one of the faster missions. Our successful load out was DL on his usual DMR, Sniper, Mines while Jim and I brought hel revolvers, pump shotguns and sniper sentries. After the drop, clear as usual but only open the large door to the West - it is important to leave this open while keeping the other two shut to control the enemy flow.

Behind that door is a rather large room to clear, and this one will be the "Hold Room". To be specific, on the upper walk way the hold position is the Eastern most part of the walkway with the team facing west, while sentries are placed on the opposite end to shoot things in the back. Put mines sparingly at giant height. There may be times you aren't back in position yet and enemies are in your way - if that happens fight through them to get back to that spot.

Carry on through the West no-scan security door, cross the empty bridge and through the apex scan into the reactor room.  There's always scum here so clear carefully then loot and more importantly, tell everyone where the extra packs are. You will need to be able to grab those on the move quickly later.

When doing a hold (like you will be doing soon) always prioritize to carry ammo. Hold lock melters as well for this first part. Once done, head to the terminal and REACTOR_STARTUP. However, before doing the scan ensure you leave REACTOR_VERIFY typed in (don't hit enter yet). Make sure you do this each time throughout this mission to save time for the password typist. Now is a good time to nominate a "sneaker". That was me in our team, and the sneaker's job is to find terminal passwords.

Now, get the startup scan going and fall back to the hold spot. This first wave is the easiest, and we only put down one sniper sentry (Jim's) and a few mines to handle it. Hybrid barrages are your biggest threat, but they are easy to stagger if you see them coming. Once done, your time limit starts! Sprint back to the reactor room - picking up the gun. DL normally lags behind here to prep mines for the next wave.

The North door is open now and it's basically a dim supply hallway that always has little goons. Deal with them as you see fit, but do it quickly. Ideally do the team scan of the next door and pop the lock first before opening the lockers - using lock melters primarily on digital locks. Look where things are (specifically c-foam grenades - those are important) and resupply quickly. Try not to carry anything yet though since you need to go deeper in first.

You will be faced with twin stairs going up into a room that usually has giants so DL often snipes one or two then falls back to the supply corridor where we shoot the remainder. As a team, we then all advance going hard and fast for the terminal hunt using this path: from the supply corridor, go upstairs and use the large, right most door (hel revolver can shoot off a padlock). Shoot through the short corridor, open the little door at the end, fight enemies in the dim room and enter.

There is a staircase heading down on the right and at the base turn left to find a terminal (DL and Jim turn right here to hunt for more gear). If that isn't the one you need, continue going left to find more stairs down which holds the second terminal. When you find the right one, type LOGS to list out the log files then READ [filename]. Usually something like READ REACTOR_VERX02.LOG. Wait a bit for a four character password. This is what you need to type in back at the reactor terminal with REACTOR_VERIFY [password] before time runs out!

Anyone can type it, but for this first one you should have enough time to wander back - fill up health, carry ammo and c-foam if you find it. We usually type it in at the 10 seconds remaining mark then head back to the hold spot for the next wave... which we'll cover tomorrow along with the next bit of the mission! :)

PS. If you run out of time, you've basically failed (not enough gear to survive extra waves). Use it to find the terminals for next time or if you already know where they are quit to the lobby and restart.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Just Cause 4

"A plan is just a list of things that can go wrong."

The residents of the Isle of Solis are oppressed by an evil tyrant who is rich enough to develop a weather control device as well as field an endless supply of soldiers and war machines. Lucky for them, Rico, a superhero  in everything but name (you) comes to the rescue!

Yes, Rico is outfitted with some seriously advanced tech that doesn't get damaged outside of cut scenes, as well as superhuman resilience to damage. Basically a Latin Spider-man mixed with Punisher as he definitely loves to grapple everywhere AND kill everyone, at least at the start to raise his army of chaos. This is pretty cool actually, as you can use your allies to slowly take over regions until you literally have all of  Solis under your flag.


Lots of crazy stuff to do in this game.

There are loads of vehicles you can operate as well and some really far fetched and crazy missions to win. I had tons of fun with this game, though I did find it repetitive towards the end - and this is already skipping some of the other minor tasks of the stunt and tomb raiding variety. Highly recommended if you just feel like violently taking over an island, I give it four Just Causes out of five.

Insight: Take the time to do Javi's intro mission as that unlocks fast travel and supply drops. Otherwise you'll be like me and have to commute everywhere (which is fun too, just longer).

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Thieves of the Wood

Robin Hood with some light thievery and some heavy murder.

Jan de Licht opts to live with the poor criminal outcasts in the forests and due to the pompous wig wearing big shots in the city continually treating them like dirt decides to rally them into a band for some organized robbery and murder.


Stupid decisions abound...

This one season show is not shy on character introductions and throws almost everyone in right at episode one which makes it a bit overwhelming at the start. Have no fear, as the body count is high in this one - especially with so many people acting like morons just at the right moment.

I wouldn't call this show good, but it is certainly entertaining. It's also funny to watch Jan's luck continually see-saw per episode. If you have nothing else to watch, you might want to give this a try. You'll need to reach episode two before getting invested though. Two and a half wheels out of five.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Game Slayer: Culling the ones I didn't get into

Getting free games from the Epic games store is great, but free doesn't always mean that it will fit my tastes. This is one such "bad" batch that I'm not getting into.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

This was already on the back foot as a pure PvP shooter game, but I thought I'd give it a try since I enjoyed Battlefield 2142. Alas, I can't play it at all as there are never any servers available to me, regardless of match type. Searching via direct gives a short list, all with always 0 people playing. That's now the same level as my interest in this worthless garbage.

Layers of Fear 2

I hated the first game. This one has a better engine and possibly plot but it still is a one way walking / running simulator with monsters and jump scares. It also still heavily relies on "you walk into the dead end closet, turn around and find you are somewhere else entirely" way too much. Ultimately, its a polished turd but still a turd.

 
Welcome to the rail road.

Galactic Civilizations III

This 4X game is OK but holy crap is it SLOW. You will really feel those years go by as you wait for research to finish or for your ships to get anywhere (even on the smallest map). You also can't directly control combat despite managing everything else. It should be renamed to galactic snooze fest.

Absolute Drift: Zen Edition


Drive, slide, jump and crash (a lot) to ultra chillaxing tunes. This is actually pretty fun but I'm simply no good at it. Regular driving is hard enough, so drifting is a bit beyond me. Recommended to those who like driving games!


Good thing you are indestructible.

Jurassic World Evolution

Did you ever want to construct one of those dinosaur parks where things go wrong and people get eaten? Now is your chance! This sim-zoo is actually pretty fantastic. Good graphics, easy interface, clear goals, a helpful tutorial and very little down time make this quite enjoyable.


Best part of the game.

I quite like that they also made a FPS bit once you have ranger vehicles to control AND have voice lines from people from the movies. The only reason its on this list is I just dislike sim-(insert building here). That doesn't stop me from seeing its good qualities. Highly recommended to those who do enjoy this sort of thing.

Killing Floor 2

Survive against waves of horrible monsters and collect their cash to buy more ammo, weapons and gear before the next wave arrives. It's a formula that worked in the first game and here everything is just better. More player classes to level up, more monsters, lots more maps and customizable difficulty make it a great co-op game.

So why is this here? Because GTFO is better. I'm also in the boat that FPS games shouldn't use leveling - everything should be player skill. Still recommended if you don't have / don't like GTFO though.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Mice and Mystics: Downwood Tales

Into the forest we go!

After the events from the last expansion, our heroes must venture out of the old castle and into the titular Downwood to overcome new environmental hazards and meet a few new friends as well as many dangerous new foes in 10/11 new missions. The story quality still matches the previous iterations but there are a few clear logic gaps this time around where the designers obviously didn't think "they'd be able to achieve x by doing y" which throws in some jankiness plot wise but over all that's fine.


That Gecko is very Australian.

New in this game is the addition of a "night time" mode which is cool but happened too seldomly in our play through. Also you can run up trees to adventure on cool branch overlays then use a leaf to float back down. This was really nice the first few times but became kind of annoying as a gimmick. The snake is definitely the best new monster, but (thankfully) super rare. The other new foes are decent too with froglodytes and salamarchers a plenty while the huge molox (mole-ox) that keeps getting angrier is not as scary as we initially though balanced out by the fearies who are way scarier than they look.

The three new allies are ok but other than Jakobe's tail ability not too useful, unlike some of the powerful new item cards. You'll probably be sticking to some sort of combination of Nere (with grasping roots), Tilda (for heals), Colin (for extra turns), and one rotating mousey (usually me playing as dodgy Filch) when the missions allow it. There are a few that have hard set party compositions though, so don't think any will be sitting out.

Recommendation wise this is a no brainer. If you liked the base Mice and Mystics and Heart of Glorm then definitely get this one to continue the story. You'll need have those two to play this one anyway. I give this three owls out of five.

Insight: Buy the pine needle darts ASAP. Those are amazing.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Dandara: Trials of Fear

One of the oddest platformers I've ever played.

The world is in peril so Dandara is released to save it! Alas, it turns out she is a bit retarded. Actually no, that would be offensive to retarded people because she is far inferior to all them. Able to hop from white surfaces, she can travel at great speeds BUT for some unfathomable reason can't just walk like a regular person... a skill that even the most basic enemies seem to have mastered.


See that lever to the left? You can't just walk there. You need to jump to the ceiling first.

I get that this was a design decision to make it "different" and sure, they succeeded in that respect. The art style is decent too but the controls suck (to be fair they recommend a controller and I was playing on mouse) and the whole gimmick of wall hopping gets old fast. Not one for me and not one I'd recommend. One flag out of five and not enjoyable at all.

Insight: When they "recommend" a controller, they probably meant to say you "need" a controller. Don't bother trying to play with a mouse.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Definitely, Maybe

Who's your mommy?

When a young girl asks her dad (Ryan Reynolds) how her parents met, he indulges her in a tale of romance and broken hearts but replaces the names of the women to see if his daughter can correctly guess which one her mom is.


Answers: should you watch it?

This proves to be an entertaining mechanic for this rom-com as it does leave both her and the audience wanting to find out the answer to the question. It's a decent plot with interesting characters played by competent actors, the kid included.

It's a bit strange that they don't age through out the telling though, as the story spans years, but that's ok. Not a bad movie at all, but probably not one I'd watch again. I give it two and a half rehearsals out of five.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Feels like Star Trek: Crying Suns Halycon 6

Going where TV shows have gone before...

Crying Suns

The Next Generation.

The Galactic Empire has mysteriously fallen, and it as a commander of an Imperial battleship that's just awoken from cryo, it's your duty to find out why. This roguelite has a really good tutorial, a very simple interface, and very addictive game play.


Hope you like the bridge. You'll be spending all your time on it.

It also features sharper pixels than Halcyon 6, and a better ship to ship combat system that has a bit or rock paper scissors thrown in the mix. Alas, you cannot control ground / away team combats and the game gets repetitive very quickly especially as you are basically starting from scratch every chapter. That feeling of no progression kinda kills it for me. Two frigates out of five.

Insight: You want to take the paths with more encounters, not less.

Halcyon 6

Deep Space Nine?

As commander of a precursor star base it is your duty to defend your space by building fleets to combat enemy threats and evacuate those who are too far to be saved. Strategy is key in getting the resources you need in a timely manner as the alien invaders won't wait around until you are ready for them.


Final Fantasy style with space ships!

That said, ironically most of this game is waiting for stuff to finish. Wait for research, wait for material, wait for construction, wait for travel time - all interspersed with Final Fantasy like, turn by turn combat - both in space and on the ground which I rather enjoy as they are bloody affairs.

The idea that your own star base isn't fully explored is good too - you'll need to clear rooms of debris (and occasionally scum) to make space for facilities, but in the end all the waiting and the blocky graphics simply couldn't hold my attention. One and a half Chuurls out of five.

Insight: Retreat is always a valid option.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Historical Entertainment: Vikings Knightfall

Not necessarily historically accurate...


Who would win a sword fight? My money's on Landry...

Vikings

Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) is an ambitious viking who simply wants to improve his life by almost any means.  This six season show follows his and his families exploits as they travel the world to meet, kill and enslave all sorts of people.

While it might start off a bit slow, this certainly becomes a very fascinating (and bloody) show to watch with some cool battle sequences and interesting insights into Viking life. As long as you don't look for plot holes or historical inaccuracies, you will probably enjoy this series. I give it three blood eagles out of five.

Knightfall

This two season drama focuses on the Knights Templar and their quest to retrieve the Holy Grail amidst traitors, cover ups and later on from the monarchy itself. While there are actually a few decent twists in the plot, it's mostly too slow especially in the first season which involves a lot of investigation and intrigue.

The best parts are the sword fights though, and they capitalized on the action for the second season which is much better pacing wise. Adding Mark Hamill to the roster helps too. Still not to a level I'd recommend, but if you've run out of things to watch you might enjoy this. I give it two pyres out of five.

Friday, 12 March 2021

A Building Review: Defense Grid Skylines of Tropico 5

Something for every constructor!

Cities: Skylines

Of this trio, this is absolutely the weakest of the set - and while it promises to be a fun, sandbox city builder it is very much not that. With an almost non-existent tutorial it will be down to trial and error on how to get the essentials to your zones and the sewage out. Interestingly enough, you don't have to care too much about specifics: just mandate something is a residential or industrial zone and buildings of said type will begin to spawn there. All up it didn't really gel with me and actually felt very cold to new players. One chirper out of five - not worth playing.

Insight: The Chirper "app" at the top of the screen will provide tips, but is generally just an annoying nuisance.

Defense Grid: The Awakening


Mindless enemies makes only funding your true adversary.

Kleptomanic aliens have come to steal power cores from various bases on the planet, and its up to you and your AI helper to build indestructible weapon towers to stop them! This tower defense game is way more fun than the above, and features a good learning curve which introduces each tower and new enemies slowly. In some missions, your construction even determines the path these thieves will take so it's very much a puzzle game as well. Decent and fun, I give this two power cores out of five.

Insight: Hold down the F key to speed things up.

Tropico 5

Dictatorship has never been so fun. This time around, you will be governing across a few different time periods - starting from the colonial age where you have a time limit to declare independence from the king, then all the way through until modern times with each era unlocking their own new technologies and problems. This along with helpful quests makes the learning curve really easy. As usual there is a strong amount of humor to be had here as well, and an optional sandbox mode if you don't want to play through the campaign. It can be ridiculous, but it is also very fun. Three dynasties out of five.


These random events are great!

Insight: Don't neglect to build more teamster buildings or you will suffer in the later eras.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Hunters in the Snow: Hold the Dark Grey Wind River

A trio of movie mysteries involving hunters and canines.


Let's shoot some stuff!

Hold the Dark

A hunter (Jeffrey Wright) is called into a remote Alaskan village to track and kill a canine that took a child but soon learns he's actually stepped in the shit once he finds what he is looking for. Now this action mystery is pretty decent at holding my attention, especially since there is a surprisingly high body count.

My biggest complaint is the cinematographer took the title too literally though, as most shots have poor (or in some occasions ZERO) lighting. Other than that the acting is ok, the plot actually puts enough hints so that you can see the ending by the time you get there, and the action pieces - though few and far between - are quite good. Can't recommend it as it's not your standard type of movie, but I enjoyed it and would probably watch it again. Two duct taped rifles out of five.

The Grey

When a plane goes down in some remote and snowy mountains it is up to the resident hunter (Liam Neeson) to try keep the survivors alive against both the elements and a pack of vicious wolves.

While this survival film does a decent job at giving each survivor a personality and nice sets, the CGI wolves are very large, mean and script driven which is only found in the mutant Hollywood breed. :P Still an entertaining watch, but one I wish didn't end so abruptly. Two and a half boom sticks out of five.

Wind River

When hunter (Jeremy Renner) working on the titular Indian Reservation finds a human corpse, he quickly gets recruited to aid the authorities (who are severely low on man power) to assist.

Apart from one segment early on with way too many cuts and some whispered poems this murder mystery is a pretty decent one that keeps a good pace and has decent action pieces. Also, it really does feel like it could be a Longmire episode at times so if you like that show you will probably enjoy this (and vice versa). I give it three lions out of five.

Otherworlds: Abzu's Greedfall Night in the World Next Door

Four games in one blog post!

Abzu

A whole new world under the sea.


While I make it sound like a Disney movie, Abzu is mostly a short, wordless under water exploration game with fantastic visuals and a sweeping orchestral music. The creators also love their fish and sealife with a multitude of digitized versions swimming around, some of the bigger ones even let you hang on to them for a ride.


It's like swimming in a painting.

Definitely worth a play, especially if you are interested in this setting. It will only take a few hours to complete the story, and for someone that has no interest in the ocean, I actually enjoyed it. Three great whites out of five.

Insight: Left mouse three times in a row to gain a big speed boost.

Greedfall

See new places, meet new people, and kill them.

This action RPG mostly takes place on a wonderfully remote and violent island in which the local natives, who are protected by nature spirits, are under threat from the scientific Bridge Alliance who enjoy studying taking them for study, and the religious nation of Theleme who have a "convert to our faith or die" attitude.

The player mostly represtents a neutral third party to mediate between them and is given a companion from each to really drive this point home. Decisions throughout the game affect your standing with each, but if you do all the side quests you will be railroaded into being allies with everyone. Indeed, if you are chasing the XPs it's really tough to be an evil scum.

While the scenery is quite nice and beautiful, the world actually feels a little empty - not helped by respawning monster groups and backdrop NPCs. The plot is average, with a few good exceptions, but having to continually return to your quest giver really breaks the pacing. All up a decent game, but not one of the best - I give it two and a half hoof fungi out of five.

Insight: Learn the stasis skill tree if you want an easy time.

A Night in the Woods

A good example of a poor protagonist.

After deciding to drop out of college and return home to her parents, Mae gets to experience "growing up" while catching up with her friends and getting into trouble. Despite the anthropomorphic people, the art style is great. The mini games are cool. And the non voiced dialogue is pretty rad, but verges on the side of pointless excess.


Worst protagonist ever.

While this little game has a lot going for it, it does suffer a major flaw: I hate the protagonist. She is very negative and prone to doing stupid shit that the player is rail roaded into. I get that she has a mysterious past (Oooo) but doing her daily "chores" is painful without any reward / without the plot seeming to go anywhere. At this point I would have preferred a mute and blank slate hero instead of this gutter trash. I greatly dislike this and strongly advise staying away from this gutter trash. One dismembered arm out of five. Not worth playing.

Insight: Stick your finger into the electrified hole if you get stuck trying to enter an apartment.

The World Next Door

It's a magical place - connected by the internet.

Emrys is a place full of magic and strange creatures and when Jun, the masked protagonist, gets stuck there it is up to her new friends to help her get home. This involves a lot of puzzle battles as Jun's magic is measured by her skill in tile matching.


Might look tricky, but it's not.

Three or more (to make it more powerful) and you can channel whatever rune it was you were matching. You can also carry/swap runes to make better spells or use your powerful ally combos, all while evading enemies of course! For a main mechanic, this was pretty neat and some of the non-combat puzzles are quite challenging.

There's also very pretty art but the plot is a bit shallow and the game a tiny bit short, but I guess there's only so much of one gimmick that can carry it. Not bad overall and while its much lighter than A Night in the Woods content wise, the protagonist is infinitely more likable. Two grievances out of five.

Insight: Identify loops in battle rooms right away, as dodging and luring baddies is pretty easy if they're all going one direction.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Stardust

Falling stars are pretty.

In a world where England is separated from the magical world by a simple five foot tall stone wall, Tristan (a young Charlie Cox) goes on a quest to retrieve a fallen star for love - encountering murderous princes, evil witches, and even lightning pirates on the way.


Daredevil looks strange with long hair...

While the plot is not entirely unpredictable, it is full of memorable scenes and ticks the boxes for both fantasy and romance which kept both my wife and I very entertained. I especially liked the magic system used and was quite amused with the decent body count. I definitely recommend this one and give it three and a half  voodoo dolls out of five. Would I watch it again? Certainly!

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

A Test of Survival: Stranded Deep in the Long Dark

Hope you like farming!

Stranded Deep

Island survival is annoying.

Surviving a plane crash is the least of your concerns as now stranded on a small cluster of islands in the middle of nowhere. While that place is certainly pretty, you'll need to keep busy by farming materials to construct things to survive, a water still being perhaps the most important right off the bat.


... and not a drop to drink.

While it would be nicer to have better inventory management, the controls are pretty good once you get the hang of it but expect to sail around to the other islands shortly after day one as you won't have enough material to last. The place is also dotted by shipwrecks which can contain useful stuff, provided you can survive the dives to them.

Really though, your two biggest enemies here are hydration and poison. Expect to restart after stepping on your first urchin. For those that like this survival theme, this one is actually pretty good - and certainly looks great. It's just too grindy for me. Also, why can't I distill sea water? Seems pretty obvious. Anyway, I give it two inflatable life rafts out of five.

Insight: You can craft a coconut flask by going into the craft menu then click on the word "consumables" right up the top to get a different menu. Took me ages to find that.

The Long Dark

Great until it isn't.

Apparently surviving plane crashes is the easy part. This time you are stuck in a remote snowy mountain and must survive the freezing cold and hungry predators in addition to fulfilling requirements of food, water and sleep. While the art style is not as impressive as Stranded Deep, everything else is better.

The tutorial, interactivity, choice of game modes (from sandbox survive as long as you can to defeat a slender man type creature hunting you) and most importantly the campaign story. It helps that you aren't alone here, and the people you encounter really give purpose to the game. That is, until it decides to become a walking simulator.


Just wait until you get a gun to see how bad a shot you are!

Yup, while it was going so well up to that point at around Chapter 2 it becomes a silly exercise in inventory management and point to point travel across vast distances committing the cardinal sin of too much space and not enough game. Just got too boring for me at that bit so this one gets the same score of two stunned rabbits out of five.

Insight: If you get stuck for ideas, press space bar to get some options.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Dark Anime: Goblin Slaying Terraformars

Definitely not for kids!

Goblin Slayer

Individually weak, goblins use strength in numbers... to gang rape women.

This anime adventure series certainly starts with a shock, graphically depicting just what goblins do to foolish adventurers, but once you get past episode one the remainder of their misdeeds is generally a given and no longer blatantly shown on screen.


Don't mess with him!

A pretty good decision I think, as we can follow the titular Goblin Slayer and his merry band murder lots and lots of goblins in many violent ways. Not amazing storywise but not bad either. As of this post there's only one season out and I'm definitely watching if any more are released.

Goblin Slayer: The Goblin's Crown

The first thirty minutes of this movie is a recap of the season one, with the remaining time being spent on the actual adventure which obviously involves captive women and a fortress full of goblins. Not sure why they decided to make this a movie instead of just slotting it in the season somewhere because it really just fills like filler. Definitely skippable unless you are a Goblin Slayer fanatic. I give it one and a half brandings out of five and wouldn't watch it again.

Terra Formars (Anime)

When science goes horribly wrong.

After an initial attempt to terraform Mars with algae and roaches, scientists are horrified to discover said roaches have grown into violent primitive man-sized monsters.

Unable to leave them alone (partially due to looking for a cure to a Martian related disease back on Earth), they've decided to augment themselves with various traits of other animals too.


Things go bad quickly.

And so, the battle for the red planet commences filled with gratuitous amounts of gore. This is EPIC. Alas, season 2 decides to drop that a bit and go more a Dragonball route which is less epic but still ok I guess?

Combine that with the fact that half of each episode is people on Earth explaining peoples powers makes it for really awkward watching. Not one I really recommend, but hey, if you're looking for more shows where people literally get torn into pieces this might be one for you!

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Stranger Things 3 (The Game)

Mostly true to the show, but more grindy.

Dark times are upon the little town of Hawkins again but not only are there fiends from alternate dimensions, there are also ... RUSSIANS!? Mechanically this adventure game is pretty sound which follows the exact same story as the Netflix show of the same name. Your team roster will slowly expand to fill out with all the major characters and everything will be just swell!

Or not. For starters, the game characters are a bit different to the ones in the show. For example, Will is way more useful than Eleven... which is cool, but quite different. If you've seen Season 3 of the show you also don't have many surprises here other than the amount of monsters and people (mostly people) you will need to murder. Don't worry, they're "bad Russians" so it's ok.


I don't remember that happening in the show...

At around the half way point you'll be wondering if your party are the true monsters with the amount of blood on your hands. You'd be right. Unfortunately the designers decided to add "padding" to the game in the form of fetch quests and kill ten rats type stuff... and that bullshit gets old really quick. If that doesn't bother you and you are a fan of this series then sure, give it a try. For everyone else I give this two firecrackers out of five.

Insight: Max's healing ability makes her a good support team mate at all times. If you use Will as your main, equip 5x firestarters to really kick ass though you'll still want Nancy for most boss fights.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Slow and Dirty: Mudrunner Dungeons 3

Bet your mind went straight to the gutter for a minute huh? :P

Mudrunner

Where you can literally go nowhere.

Are you tired of those other driving simulators where you test sleek prototype cars that can powerdrift at mach II? If so, Mudrunner is definitely the game for you! In it, you must select your truck - choose the correct type of carriage for your cargo and then navigate between pick up spots and drop off points before running out of fuel!


Not my idea of fun.

That's right, the entire game is pretty much slow fetch quests, as your vehicle will undoubtedly have to traverse deep sections of mud which you'll need to inch your way through while winching your vehicle from various trees and the like. Exciting right! If you want a game where you literally don't go anywhere, then Mudrunner is for you! Otherwise, if you are like me, stay away. Far far away. I give it one timber tray out of five.

Insight: SKIP IT.

Dungeons 3

Third time's the charm?

Having conquered most of the known realm, the evil lord of conquering everything (you) sets his sights on a distant continent but can't quite get his evil armies of evil across the ocean so its on to plan B - delegation!

The dark elf Thayla will be your primary champion as you wreak havoc by sending your forces from your customizable dungeon and into their overworld stronghold, all while being narrated to by Kevan Brighting. This will be a make or break for you, as the talking is near non-stop.


She also serves as the eye candy.

While I found the tutorials and interface really good I did quickly get annoyed at having to rebuild my dungeon/base each mission which is a similar reason to why I dislike Warcraft and Starcraft. If you don't mind that, and the endless banter, then you might want to give this a try. Two gobblers out of five.

Insight: You'll always need a bigger gobbler farm. :P

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Longmire

Home of the Red Pony and continual soiree.


Don't mess with him, cause he really doesn't let things go.

When crimes happen in the small county of Absaroka, it's up to Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and his small band of deputies to keep the peace. It is well written, has great cinematography and makes good use of even minor characters who re-appear every now and then - which makes sense for a small town and it also helps most of the "villains" are very human too and really by the end we were cheering for some of them.

I also learned a lot of stuff in regards to firearms and American Indian reservations which gets an extra thumbs up. Definitely enjoyed this series and highly recommend it. I give it three and a half broncos out of five.

NWO: Sharandar Episode 1 - The Iron Tooth

Troll dentures are a thing.

Years after the war against Malabog, adventurers are sent to investigate why the crossing to the Feywild is being closed only to find a "new" enemy force attacking the upgraded elven city. I use "new" a bit loosely as the few new enemies can be counted on one hand and are only encountered in a few instances.

Everything else are just graphically updated powries, trolls, cyclopses, fomorians and the like from old Sharandar and while there is a possibility they are being mind controlled this time around that doesn't stop us from murdering their army encamped at the ruins with intense prejudice - because the elves want them dead, and we obey. Who is mind controlling who now? :P

Graphically, everything is pretty and I do like the first map / portion of the map we are allowed to get to, particularly the remains of Celadaine's tower. Also good is that the grindy quests are quick to do and often overlap making them fast to get through. While there is a high volume of enemies there are paths you can use to dodge them you want which also gets a thumbs up. Campaign wise it is rather light though, which is probably good for those who have many alts as you will reach the weekly limits pretty fast (an hour per alt at most if you are taking it easy).

All up, it's fine. Is it a good enough replacement for old Sharandar? That's a question best answered after we see the next two releases of this module but right now, nope - simply because old Sharandar released in one big hit and not in this piece meal format.

Insight: Characters with ranged attacks will also have an easier time with everything. Also, on your second return to the Feywild Crossing, if you bring Xuna with you expect a really fun fight at the end as she will wake everything up.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Time for a Scare: Blair Witch Amnesia Machine

When feeling safe is boring.

Blair Witch (PC Game)

PTSD is magic?

Volunteering to help look for a missing person in a spooky forest goes all sorts of wrong when witches and walking simulators collide. As someone who hasn't watched the movie, I wasn't expecting much from this game but I was actually pleasantly surprised at the start. Good graphics, decent voice acting, and a cool mechanic / ally in your dog, Bullet.


Who's a good boy!?

The puzzles and monsters in the whole forest section are very well done. My main problem is in the final bit, all that interesting stuff goes away and the game just into a stupid Layers of Fear type thing, where you walk into a room or look out a window and everything behind you has changed. Spooky the first time you do it, but that last bit just drags on and on and on - almost as long as the forest itself with no activities other than... walk and don't look. Such a pity that the quality takes such a severe drop at the supposed climax, meaning I can't really recommend this for anyone. One and a half dog biscuits out of five.

Insight: Your light can kill enemies. If you want to go for hard mode, just use the night mode on the handy cam and sneak past them instead.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Are those... orcs?

Waking up with memory loss is the theme of this series, and once again you will be forced to solve puzzles while evading some frightening creatures. This time is a tiny bit less stressful as your lantern has infinite fuel and you can actually look at the monsters without getting dizzy which is handy since all the majority of them show up in front of you. It also removes the silliness of standing facing a corner/walls to "hide".


Well that's a game over. 

The puzzles are for the most part also straight forward, what with less things to interact with on the maps but one big negative for me, and it might just be due to my graphics card, was the draw distance being abysmal - especially in dark areas. I suppose this could be so you can't "gamma cheat" to see in the dark, but even with the light on it didn't change. Still a fun, suspenseful game and one I recommend, and give it out of three pigs out of five. While on par for me with it's predecessor, I still feel the Justine DLC in the original is superior.

Insight: Use the light on that padlock or you'll be stuck for a long time like I was!

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Atlantis Rising

Can you endure the wrath of the gods?

Having angered the gods by turning to science it is up to you and up to six other Atlantean councilors to cooperatively construct the ten component device to save your people from the rising waters. Constructed from a modular board, Atlantis looks like a star fish with six legs. Each of these peninsulas provide a different resource required to build your escape.

Those furthest from the center have a chance to bring more rewards (dice rolling) but are also the first to be flooded, and since you place all your "workers" prior to the flooding phase, it is a push your luck mechanic that sees if they can even attempt to harvest, or are sent back to your pool empty-handed.


Here's one game we barely won!

At least your leaders have minor special powers and by using them together you might scrape through to a win, though it totally depends on how good you can mitigate the dice rolls to your favor and what components you need to complete. Those "D" level ones (the hardest) are nuts! Special mention to the great artwork as well. Definitely gets a thumbs up, I give it four mystic barriers out of five.

Insight: Build something easy first, just in case the saboteur shows up.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Troy: The Saga and the Fall

The Iliad lives on.

Troy: Fall of a City

You already know the outcome.

This one season miniseries depicts the Trojan war mainly from the perspective of Paris and reminds everyone that the actual siege takes 10 whole years.

While I did like that the Greek gods actually show up and play a more hands on role in the story, it is also marred by some stupid decisions plot wise, not the best acting, and some questionable casting.


Yep, she's ready for some action!


All up this doesn't really have a lot going for it, especially since you already know the end. Not recommended, but I give it one and a half tunnels out of five.

A Total War Saga: Troy

Too much patience required.

By now most would know the story of how a massive army was raised to take back an unfaithful wife who fled with her lover to the city of Troy and all the action and excitement there of.

This game decides not to do that and instead starts out right when Agamemnon decides to give chase. Now, you can play as a variety of people each who have their own goals with some being easier than others (good luck, Odysseus).


Getting Attack on Titan vibes...

On the world map you move your armies around,  upgrade cities, gain currency, use diplomacy to gain allies, build boats and the like (yep, you want to launch a thousand ships? Enjoy waiting for that to be built).

For combat, you get a more tactical over view to command your army and use your heroes special abilities. Don't expect any Dynasty Warrior stuff though, its very much more a "wait and see" approach.

Neither of those are appealing to me, and the final nail in the coffin? Extreme loading times. Five minutes for an initial load is OK, but five minutes every time you go into battle, out of battle, and waiting for other factions to finish their turn... way too much.

During the tutorial I thought I'd speed things up by "auto" battling which resulted in King Agamemnon and his army (the suggested "starting guy as he is the easiest goals") being wiped out by some random robbers but the tutorial just carried on as if all was well. WTF?

Truly a trojan horse of a game, with beautiful packaging but inside is just full of shit and death, followed by more shit. I give it zero sieges out of five. Not worth playing!

Insight: Don't auto battle unless you have a one million percent chance of victory I suppose?