Read more “Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut”
Developer: inXile Entertainment | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Turn-based
Even though I never played much of the first Wasteland game, I still backed this one. It looked really promising, but the reports of it being difficult kept me postponing it – until today. And I’m happy to say that even playing it so late to the party, I was still grabbed by it and found it really atmospheric.
At least until California.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, it felt like much more of an earnest successor to Fallout 2 than the games Bethesda produced after buying the rights to the franchise.
I played with the preset party featuring Pills, Slick, Bear and Cold-Eye. It started with General Vargas giving my party their first assignment as Desert Rangers – figure out how Ace died while putting repeater units on three radio towers in the wasteland, complete his job, and optionally revenge him. I made sure to accept Angela Deth as my fifth party member, and into the wasteland we ventured.
The atmosphere was excellent. The music and the ambient sounds were spot on, and the random radio calls from someone asking for help an excellent detail. In between the settlements I was traversing a larger map and it was important that our water supply would suffice. This is also where random encounters could happen, or we had to cross nasty clouds with radiation.
In the settlements themselves, it was typical party management and turn-based combat. It felt like I was allowed to move around further each turn than in other turn-based games, which was great for reaching cover behind crates or stones. I won’t get into too much of the story here, but the dialog with NPC’s were well written and their settlements had interesting quests and tasks to do.
Read more “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided”
Developer: Eidos Montreal | Released: 2016 | Genre: FPS+, Stealth
I absolutely loved the original Deus Ex. In fact, I loved it so much that I completed it twice, and I virtually never do that. It was a 10 to me. I also completed the sequel, as well as Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I really liked this reboot too when I completed it back in 2012. I gave that one a 9.
Yet, I almost abandoned Mankind Divided.
I started it one morning where I probably was in a sour mood. It felt overwhelming with its many wheels, panels and windows. I decided I couldn’t muster this level of complexity anymore and dumped it. But after lunch (and in a better mood) I gave it a second chance. And this time it grabbed me.
Did I just repeat the same rebound as with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare?
I’m really glad I gave it one more go – it was really fun to explore Prague. It was wonderfully detailed and it was teeming with opportunities for exploring, sneaking, shopping and side quests.
Read more “Legend of Grimrock”
Developer: Almost Human | Released: 2012 | Genre: RPG, First Person
Legend of Grimrock was another one of those that I kept postponing for years because of the majority of reviews claiming that it was very difficult. It did have a difficulty selector though, and I made sure to choose the easiest one as I usually do anyway, when this is available. Fearing a level of ruthlessness I try not to allow myself these days, my plan was for an hour of gameplay for Short Sessions.
But damn, this game was fun! I ended up playing it for almost 5 hours.
This first person RPG is supposedly a modern take on Dungeon Master, which I wouldn’t know since I never played that. However, I did know a lot more about the another inspiration, Eye of the Beholder, both from seeing the game on the Amiga back in the day, but also because an awesome version of it was recently ported to the Commodore 64. I’ve watched a lot of development videos of this.
If you’re still tinkering with the C64 today, go check it out. It’s fantastic.
Going back to Legend of Grimrock, the game moved in grid steps like on a chess board. I could move in all four directions and also rotate. Mouselook was there, but I rarely used it. I selected a premade party of four that was thrown almost naked into a mountain dungeon for crimes I could only guess at. Time to walk around in the dark dungeon and pick up armor, weapons, solve puzzles, and fight monsters.
Read more “Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition”
Developer: Larian Studios | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Turn-based
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a long and relatively complicated CRPG. I think the last RPG with loads of skills and talents to adjust every level was The Witcher 3 in 2016. And if we’re talking party-based and isometric, I probably have to go all the way back to Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2014.
Suffice to say I’m a bit rusty when it comes to these RPG beasts.
Luckily, this game made it easy for me to grease those rusty RPG cogs. No doubt this game is a product of a developer who really cares about what they’re doing. Almost everything about it oozes of quality. Sensible windows with inventory, attributes and skills. Hotkeys and controls that for the most are easy to use and make sense, and tutorial tips that pops up right when we need their information.
You could even adjust number of auto- and quicksaves up to a whopping 25 files.
Read more “Lili: Child of Geos”
Developer: BitMonster | Released: 2014 | Genre: RPG, Third Person
This was learning towards being both a kids game as well as tablet first, both of which normally doesn’t sit well with me, but it was so damn cute and charming that I couldn’t help myself completing it anyway.
It also felt very much like a spiritual successor to Zanzarah.
I was in control of a girl with glasses in third person, running around in four areas collecting flowers, kicking vases or chests for coins, unlocking doors with keys bought with flowers, and solving quests. There was also a shop for better equipment and even simple level-up stats. Sometimes a mailman flew down from above and offered a letter for me to read – usually from her dad.
Read more “Consortium”
Developer: Interdimensional Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: RPG, First Person
This was an FPS+ on a big plane promising to be somewhat akin to Deus Ex, with multiple paths and dialog choices. I pledged $20 for its failed Kickstarter back when it was announced in 2014.
It turned out to be sort of a virtual reality game where I inhabited the body of a soldier on a hi-tech plane in the future, already flying high above the ground. Everything took place on this plane and it took me just over 4 hours to play through it, making it feel like a DLC for another game. In truth, the game is to be construed as an intro for a trilogy of games – the next one taking place around a big tower.
But truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ll stop after this introduction as there were quite a number of things I didn’t like about it. The ironic thing is, bugs are actually not on that list. Playing this game so many years later means patches must have ironed out most of them.
Read more “Transistor”
Developer: Supergiant Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: RPG, Action
Imagine if you took an isometric action RPG with a smattering of Robotron, changed the action to be mostly like V.A.T.S. from e.g. Fallout 4, added great Art Deco parallax graphics, a sword with staccato comments, and atmospheric music that often have singing on top as well – and you basically have Transistor.
It took me about 6 hours to complete this one but I was seriously considering abandoning it after an hour or two. The combat was innovative and polished but was still problematic for me. The gist of the game is a turn-based part where you stack “functions” (abilities) in a limited queue and them fire them off with super speed, making you feel like The Flash. Then comes the sour part. The queue needs some time to recharge itself and you are extremely vulnerable as things are now real-time. Because of the huddling nature of the confined combat areas, it’s easy to get pummeled left and right, even when zapping around with a teleport ability I earned early in the game. This goes back to me wanting to kill as many as fast as possible, and if my queue doesn’t deliver enough damage, I may take too much damage in the real-time part. Emptying the health bar temporarily burns out an ability slot, forcing me to use other means of attacking. Burning out all attacks of course means death.
For most of the game, this system just didn’t click with me.
Read more “The Witcher 3: Leftovers”
Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2016 | Genre: RPG, Third Person
I completed the main story of The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (the second expansion pack) in the end of December 2016 and wrote a blog post about it, but I still had a few question marks and secondary quests to finish off and I did so in January. I must say that some of these secondary quests were really funny and absolutely worth completing. I’ll get into detail about some of them in the spoiler section below.
It also turned out that there were a few additions to the game that I had not discovered yet in my previous blog post. One was the “Hanse” bases – unique map icons of fortified castles or caves swarming with bandits. Clearing these out could be challenging, especially if some of the bandits managed to light signal fires to call upon reinforcements. A base cleared out would be followed up by a short cutscene of soldiers taking over the place. Bandits in the surrounding areas would then have dispersed.
Another change was that clearing out a town had a different cutscene. In the vanilla game, villagers would immediately walk in and settle down. Now Geralt started meditating instead, a timelapse of a day passing by was shown, and as Geralt came back to his senses, villagers were now living and working there. It made sense that the developers wanted to make this change. The previous cutscene felt like the villagers were just outside the combat area, waiting for Geralt to finish off the monsters.
“Great, he killed them – let’s go!”
Here’s a gallery of 18 HUD-less screenshots I saved while playing Blood and Wine – the last expansion pack for The Witcher 3. They are all from the new zone called Toussaint.
There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.
UPDATE: Since the creation of this blog post I’ve finished the expansion, saving another batch of HUD-less screenshots. I’ve overhauled the gallery with better screenshots – only four of the original ones remain.
I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.
Read more “The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine”
Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2016 | Genre: RPG, Third Person
I had a vacation between Christmas and New Year and I managed to complete the main story of the second and last expansion pack. I was invited to a new zone by a couple of noble knights in shining armor. The new zone had a different color palette, more vibrant and saturated, and the buildings looked like something from the southern part of Europe. But to be honest it didn’t really feel all that different. The dungeons, the caves and even the big town felt like it could just as easily have been part of the main game.
At least the people there were much friendlier towards Geralt. No more spitting as I passed by.
The second expansion followed the trend of a harder difficulty that the first expansion introduced. I was particularly miffed at the spewing plant monsters that spawned around a monster area, confusing me with bubbling pods and forcing me to run around all over the place. Sometimes I avoided a spot in the distance because I could see those pesky plants warming up for a fight. Some of the vampire enemies, especially the naked ladies, were also a bit too tough for my liking.