Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls
This sequel felt a lot like third version of a Pokémon game. It added some pretty QoL improvements like better quest journal, info about Yo-kai's type, element and favourite food right in the game and faster bike. And I'm sure I'm forgetting on some more. There are also new locations and new Yo-kai to befriend.
But there are also several new minigames that are so braindead, boring and one of them straight up creepy. And the worst part is that those minigames are forced upon the player in the already boring story. There is a train minigame that have you ride a train as a passenger. It takes way to long to travel from one station to the other and you are forced into easy battles with Yo-kai or are given a candy from random NPC on a train in the meantime. Especially that last part is weird. The main character is still a kid in a 5th grade. And the game portaits a stranger sitting next to it, saying how nice the kid is and giving it a candy as a good thing. Aside from that, the story is a lot worse than in the first game. Most of the missions are just "run from the point A to point B" or "bring this specific Yo-kai here" and cutscenes sometimes felt like they were taken straight from Pokémon Sun and Moon.
There are less bossfights, but they all feel unique in their own way. I especially enjoyed the final segment of the game with 2 final bossfights. Final battle with Kin and Gin was cool because of the predeterminated team I had to use and I even wiped in the second phase of Dame Dedtime bossfight. That phase has no right being so hard in otherwise Pokémon level of easy game. I mean I didn't even inflicted a single point of damage to her and she just obliterated my whole party with my own Soultimate moves. DS2 devs, please take notes here.
Overall, I think I would pick the first game over this one to play through the story. But on the other side, this game really shines in the post-game, where it is basically the first game + the QoL improvements and new side stories, where you can befriend bosses from the first game. 7/10. But I swear if I find a single hide-and-seek quest in the post-game, I'm changing this to 0/10.
Finally got around to write down my thoughts about 2 more games.
Little Big Workshop
This game has no right to be as addicting as it was. I'm not usually a fan of tycoons and builders, because they usually lack a clear goal and are sometimes way too complicated. But this game pulled me in and I even continued playing it after finishing the main goal. I had so much fun designing my own products and working out the perfect way to make profit.
What I found funny was that I named my company "A Very Evil Company", because there is DLC available for this game, where you play as a evil mastermind. But I didn't buy the DLC. I only took an inspiration in it. Then, I found out that the main rival of the game is called "Nemesis". So my company was practically bad guys.
Back to gameplay. I found it relaxing to watch my little gnomes doing all the work most of the time. But there were moments when the AI just stopped working properly. I failed so many commissions because my gnomes refused to finish the product. It hanged at 99.9% with the highest priority and they refused to finish it. I even had to cancel some of them and manually sell all material and lose money.
Another negative that almost made me drop the game was building mode. In it, you can make new rooms or recreate the ones you already have. But it's so intuitive. Like I said, I almost stopped playing the game the first time I tried to use it. It's not explained at all and some function won't do what they should. For example the "demolition" won't just destroy a wall. It will also build a new wall one tile closer to the rest of the room. But only if it's outside wall. Otherwise, it works well. The "build" function also has a very specific way of working, where you have to select the whole room and then expend it to make that room bigger.
The characters in the game are magical. There are 4 customers you can take special commissions from and they all have a great design. I enjoyed reading their dialogues and working with them. I wouldn't mind more customers. And just as the characters, the area where the game takes place is also, simply put, magical. It's a regular table with a phone, books, cup of tea and other stuff thrown on it. And you build a factory between it.
Overall, this game was surprisingly good. As I said, I'm not a fan of builders so I had really low expectations comming in, but I couldn't stop playing this game. It has problems that are really annoying, but the gameplay and aesthetic are solid and fun. 8/10.
Gothic II: Gold - Bow only run
Do you know that moment, when you want to play a game out of nowhere? As I was installing Dishonored, I was chatting at a local Gothic Discord and got an itch to replay G2NOTR. And since I like doing challenge runs in Gothic games, I decided to do a run using only bows.
If you are following these updates, you probably already know that original Gothic is one of my favourite games of all time. But I'm not that big of a fan of G2NOTR. Regular G2 is fine, even though it has more cliche story and completely different atmosphere, but the addon also breaks the battle system in a poor attempt to make it more challenging.
I don't want to talk that much about the game, since it's one of the games I had more than a decade of replaying it to form an opinion, in contrast to most games that I play the first time (or barely remember them). The game is overall better version of the first Gothic. It's more polished, it's longer, has more areas to explore and is actually complete. But the story is very cliche. It goes from playing as a criminal thrown in the convict's colony and surviving in pretty dark world influenced by The Dark Eye, to a chosen one has to beat evil dragons and ultimate evil. And the world is more colorful and feel more like classic western RPG. And it retcon basically everything about what you learned about the world in the first game.
But the biggest problem I have with Gothic 2 and especially with NOTR, since it was changed there, is a battle system and damage calculation. It's complete RNG now. Both you and your enemy can land critical hits, but enemies have bigger chance to land them for some reason. And they can easily swing the result of the battle in your defeat. Or win. But it's not fun, since there is barely any skill involved, unlike the first game.
Now, for the challenge itself. It was annoying as hell. And it's because damage calculation for ranged attacks is even worse. There is a big chance your attack will miss even at point blank. That change is over 90% at the start of the game. And even when you have 100% of bow efficiency, you still miss every other shot. So most of the time, I just stand, kept shooting and hoped to kill everything before it can kill me. But there was a weird bug I encountered. Sometimes, when I hit an enemy exactly when they are in the middle of their attack animation, they stopped attacking and just stood there and let me kill them. This made dragon bossfights trivial, since their attacks took a while to actually start.
Overall, aside from the battle system, this game is awesome. It's still fun to explore and interact with alive world. It's dragged down by the battle system, but there is still an option to play as mage, who ignores regular damage calculation. 8.5/10.
Next up, I'll play Dishonored, since I'm not sure if I'll have time for videogames for the rest of the month. But if I can finish Dishonored quickly, then I'll probably finally start Eye of the Beholder 3 and finish Nekopara 4 and Breath of the Wild, before starting Dark Souls 3. I'm still having nightmares about DS2, so I want to take some time from the series.
Fun fact I'm adding since this is pretty short review: Dishonored was the last game I've ever pirated all back in 2012 But I haven't finished it until now.
Immersive simulators is not really a genre I would play a lot, but I enjoy each game a lot. And it was the same with Dishonored. I quite enjoyed everything about it. The world, the atmosphere, the characters, the gameplay, the level design... It was, well, immersive.
One thing that I didn't like was how the game kept telling me I can play any way I want. It was okay during the tutorial and even first mission, but I don't think I needed to see it multiple times per level by the end of the game. I also found it kinda ridiculous, since I've decided to go bloody path and kill everyone I encounter. I probably went a little bit overboard and the game told me to stop killing everyone and try stealth at the start of the second level. So, can I play the way I want or not?
I know I didn't go into details as I usually go, but there isn't much I have to say about the game. It was great experience I had a lot of fun with, but I also don't feel like it grabbed me enough to buy the sequel right now. I had my fill and will fondly remember it. 8.5/10.
Next up, I would love to finally wrap up some of the series I have yet to finish. So I'll finish Nekopara 4, Eye of the Beholder 3 and Breath of the Wild as fast as I can. Then, I'll most likely start medling with old Nintendo franchises like Metroid for a while and then, when nights will start to grow long, I'll finally start Resident Evil and Silent Hill series.
It's hard for me to talk about this game. Or visual novels in general. I don't think they are bad, I actually quite enjoy some of them, but their lack of gameplay makes it harder to review them.
Storywise, I think this is fine entry. It's far better than vol. 0, 1 and 2, but is not as great as vol. 3, which made one of my least favourite character into one of my favourite character. Speaking of characters, this game breaks away from a cycle of the previous games, in which 2 catgirls took the spotlight. Now, there are no more catgirls to focus on, so Kashou, the main character, has finally time to shine. He has a great character arc, exploring themes about legacy and family. His father and master are fine addition to the cast of characters, even though they are a little bit cliché. I didn't like the final twist about them, but I still have to admit that it ties the themes together well.
I also liked new designs of the old characters. Especially their christmas clothes were cute. New animations were also nice to see. On the other hand, there weren't that many new tracks and both opening and ending weren't as good as in previous 2 games.
The worst part about this game is Shigure. Ever since the first game, she is just a bad incest joke that is stretched over 4 games now. And it was never funny to begin with. She takes precious time from Kashou's story, has no interesting dialogue or interaction and no development at all. If anything, this game only strengthened my conviction that this is the worst character in the whole series. Hell, she is not even a character. She's just one bad joke. Nothing else.
Overall, it was great conclusion to the story. I'm glad it focused more on Kashou and gave him enough characterization, since previously he was just a blank character for us to outselves in his place. If there wasn't Shigure present in it at all, I would probably put it above third game. But since it isn't the case, I would say this is the second best Nekopara game out there. 8/10.
I did not talk about it that much here, but I'm currently playing Breath of the Wild and I'm disappointed with it. It's mediocre game that has barely any Zelda mechanics in it. But this is not the time to talk about it. I mentioned it only because I was feeling like playing the real Zelda game. So I picked up Blue Fire, which is suppose to be a Zelda clone.
This game takes some mechanics and lore from Zelda, Dark Souls and apparently Hollow Knight, but I haven't played that game yet. You take a role of a Warrior of light and shadow awakened into a ruined kingdom of Penumbra. It was taken over by a shadow and it's up to you to free it. The gameplay cycle is simple. Go to the nearest temple, pick a gadget there that will help you explore the temple and the world better, beat the boss, rinse and repeat. If you ever played a Zelda game, you know the drill.
On your way, you will have to beat several hard parkour challenges. These can be pretty hard, but it was fun to traverse and explore each location. But it wasn't without problems. The controls of this game are weird. Not only they break any convention of the modern games, for example, both A and B buttons are confirm and B is also interaction button, but the player character has this weird movement speed and properties, like it was moving on ice all the time. And it didn't help that the very first room is full of black goo that can hurt you. So I lost most of my health just trying to figure out how to move in the first room. The character also went from 0 to 100 in a matter of a second, but it took him longer to do the opposite.
While the parkour is fun, I fairly quickly and accidentally found a way to cheese my way through most of the game. There are special "spirits" that you can equip and they give you variety of special abilities, like ability to use dash twice per jump, faster movement, higher jumps, better jump angle, ability to levitate in the air... With these, I was able to simply skip most of the hard parkour challenges. Like there was one part with moving laser on the walls and sawblades flying around and all I did was jump straight and got past it. But even before getting spirits, there were challenges that could be easily skipped. In the first temple, there was timed course that I couldn't really get past, since my character kept sticking himself to the wall randomly. Luckily, there was a mechanic, where you could dash into the enemy and even when that enemy is far away, you would still dash all the way into it. And there was an enemy hanging out at the end of that puzzle. So I just skipped the whole puzzle this way.
Speaking of combat, it was okay, but similarly to the parkour, it felt a little bit unbalanced. At first, the enemies are extremely squishy, but they quickly get bunch of HP and beating them take so much time that it completely destroys any pacing the game had. So after a while, I just skipped all enemies. Bosses on the other hand were fun, but last 4 bosses (out of 6) were just reskins of each other. But the final boss was something. It had a great design, phases and everything.
The world was interesting, but I was a little bit sad that there aren't that many interesting characters. All locations felt staged and not like a living world. Like one of the main towns is only few disconnected platforms. And there is a small kid living alone at the top of the town.
Overall, this was really great game, but it needs a little bit more polish and balancing. 8/10.
Next, I wanted to play Eye of the Beholder 3, but there are some problems with importing my characters from the previous game and I would probably have to beat the final boss in it again to get all my characters. I'm not sure if I want to play with different party, so in the meantime, I'll started playing original Metroid. And I'm slowly getting through Breath of the Wild.
While I was searching for some info about this game, I found out I already played it few times in the past. I own Zero Mission, which is a remake, but iirc, there is the original game on the cartridge too. Because of that, I remember where to go or where are some secrets, a little bit, which made navigating better.
But let's take it from the start. This game has a great atmosphere and it all starts in the main menu. The music, the black background and grounded colour all predict the cold and inhospitable planet of Zebes. And the very first screen then only confirms it. Samus is already outnumbered 2 to 1, can't shoot far, has only 30 HP and the enemies are too short to be shot from some angles. Samus is weak, but since you can take the enemies down, it feels fair. Even other harder rooms feel that way. You are always outnumbered, but usually can find some kind of advantage over the enemies.
While sprites and backgrounds looked amazing, I got lost way too many times for my liking and in the end found a map online for backtracking purposes. A lot of rooms were just designed to look the same or are even copy-paste of each other and I find that lazy. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed the way rooms were put together, with enemy and platforms placement and secrets all around me. Actually, there was one small detail I hate and that were enemies running into Samus, when she was still stucked in the room-changing animation. It didn't happen often, but was annoying.
Other than that, I missed an in-game map, but I get why it isn't in the game. I also wasn't a fan of being revived with only 30 HP, but I didn't die that much in the end. Well, the game was fairly short. Was it always so short? I beat the game in two sittings in about 5 hours.
Overall, I was surprised how well this game aged. I was expecting to find it in a really bad and almost unplayable shape, but this game was ahead of its time. There is a real sense of progression that I love. All enemies can feel like a threat and end your run unexpectedly, like when you jump or fall on the crawling enemies and they send you flying in the lava. Platforming was mostly fun, even though I had to get used to Samus movement at the beginning. 9/10.
Next up is Eye of the Beholder 3. I finally decided to replay the final bossfight in EotB2 and got my original party to the final game of the trilogy. It's apparently pretty short and feels quite easy so far.
Eye of the Beholder 3: Assault on Myth Drannor
After some time, I returned to this series. From the technical side, it's a huge improvement. There is a huge "All attacks" button that will trigger every possible attack your party can make. And it makes the flow of each battle better. There were also more cutscenes and NPC to have a chat with. Because of that, the world felt more alive, but the feeling of the isolation from the previous games was mostly gone. it was a shame, but I get that each adventure can't be same.
I also found myself not using that many spells, since my characters were already on high levels and my melee fighters could handle most of the fights by themselves. Mages and Clerics were still useful, just not in the combat. I did enjoy new spells quite a lot tho. Like the one that could stop a time. It was so overpowered and yet, there was a good number of scrolls with this spell. My favourite was still the one that created food for everyone. That way, I didn't have to keep rations in my already full inventory. Which brings me to another thing. I barely collected anything, since my inventory was full since the last adventure. Well, it was full since the original game. I did pick up few things, but they mostly just lied in my inventory. Equipment like swords and armor were also pretty rare to see, so I used my weapons from the previous games.
The whole game was surprisingly easy. Especially when compared to the second game, which was extremely hard. IIRC, there were Mind Flayers in one of the first dungeons, yet they died way too quickly and barely scratched my party. And the final boss was just as bad. The start of his battle was interesting, since he summoned few enemies to help him, but the fight is still easy and the boss did nothing at all. Huge downgrade from Dran.
The story also wasn't as cool as in the previous games. In them, there was a nice mystery about what is really going on. Here, you are basically told everything in the intro cutscene. I never understood why did the villain choose the party. It doesn't make sense. The puzzles were solid, but there were also some weak puzzles. These relied way too much on you skipping an item that was crucial to solving the, and it got annoying way too fast.
Overall, it wasn't a bad game. The combat and exploration were still great, the dungeons design was cool and new improvements were welcomed. But the story and puzzles are not as good as in the previous games. 7/10.
Next up, I fired up Firewatch and also decided to finally play Superliminal. Both of there are short, so I think I can manage to beat them in one or two sittings each and write about them before the month ends.
As a huge fan of Portal and Stanley Parable, I was looking forward this game and finally got around to play it. It was short, but unique and intensive, adventure.
It starts pretty simple. You can pick up items and either make them big or small and solve puzzles with them. But it quickly turns into something completely different. The game starts playing with your perspective in more and more mindblowing ways. At first, it's just a cube painted on the wall that looks like it could be picked up, but then, the game turns into a "horror" game. The puzzles never grow old. The game always subvert your expectations in unpredictable ways.
The story was nice addition, but it didn't play a huge role. It's presented only through audio bits. It does get a little bit philosophical by the end and presents some cool ideas about changing your perspective or how clinging on your (wrong) perspective can hurt you.
Overall, it is one of the most unique experience I've played this year. And I enjoyed every single puzzle. I wouldn't mind if it was longer and also more story and lore bits. 9.5/10.
I wanted to play Firewatch next, but there were some problems with the controls, so I played something else...
I decided to play yet another shorter puzzle game and my pick landed on Carto.
The main gimmick is picking up pieces of a map and playing them together in a way that will help you proceed with the story. I was surprised how much story is in the game. It closely follows Carto, a young cartographer, who accidentally makes her grandma's airship crash and the two are separated. The goal of the game is to bring them together again.
What I found interesting was that puzzles weren't only solved by putting pieces together, but also by rotating and manipulating with them. Like there is a locked safe on one piece and you can open it by rotating the piece the correct way the correct number of times. Some puzzles were also solved by by assembling a certain pattern, but the game almost never stated the direction of this pattern. There was a moment, where I had to make a lake look like a fish, but for some reason, it had to face north, so even when I put it together correctly, but in different direction, the game didn't let me continue. Also, few puzzles are made in a way that a new piece appears, when you put other in a certain pattern. There was this one puzzle, where you had to put together 4 pieces with yellow flowers together. But there were only 3 pieces currently available. I had no idea what to do, since there was nothing else to do. So I put the 3 pieces together and the 4th one appeared out of nowhere. How was I suppose to know that? After that, I was looking for this, but it was annoying the first time it happened.
Back to the story. I loved it. Carto meets a lot of different cultures, from grass people to sand people to ice people, but they all have pretty deep lore to them. It felt a lot like classic adventure games in it's approach to them. All of them have cool design and tie very well into the whole map gimmick. The story is still lighthearted and breaks the 4th wall all the time. There is a library with a book about Carto's adventure and the librarian even notes that the floors keep changing all the time.
Overall, it was cute short puzzle game. It dragged a little bit few times, when I was forced to backtrack, and few puzzle repeated themselves, but it was still fun to complete. 8.5/10.