Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: Angels of Death

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Available on: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android
Played on: PS5 (PS4 version)

Angels of Death is a horror game originally created on RPG Maker and released back in 2015 as freeware and later in 2016 on Steam.

As far as my own experience with Angels of Death goes, I watched and loved the 2018 anime adaptation and that was my entry point into it as a property. I knew vaguely at the time that it was a game adaptation but as a horror game it didn’t strike me as a very “me” game as I’m notoriously a huge wuss – I had to get my housemate to sit next to me for moral support whilst I played Until Dawn. 

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Watching Angels of Death really piqued my interest and spurred me into playing the game. I knew I loved the characters, and knowing the plot really helped ease any anxieties going into playing, as no matter how disturbing it got I knew what was coming.

Angels of Death focuses on the protagonist Rachel Gardner, who wakes up one day in a hospital where she is receiving counselling after having witnessed a murder. She soon realises that she’s not in a proper hospital, and tries to escape. Leaving the floor of the building she finds herself in, she ends up on another floor and soon finds herself being chased by a scythe-wielding maniac named Isaac ‘Zack’ Foster. After a series of events, Rachel learns that the building she is in is the site of a murder game, where each floor is inhabited by a murderer who determines the theme of each floor. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that Rachel and Zack cut a deal with each other, teaming up to escape, and the game is spent traversing the floors of the building seeking escape and avoiding the perils put on each floor by it’s inhabitant.

Littered through each floor there are puzzles which require solving. These can be a little frustrating as you have to do them exactly as the game wants you to, so does tend to require a bit of trial and error even if you’ve figured out the answer to each puzzle.

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There are a few sequences throughout Angels of Death where you find yourself having to run from peril, which really opens you up to the weakest area of the game – it controls very poorly. It’s hard to do anything with any kind of precision, so trying to turn corners when in a chase feels like a matter of luck at some points. It can be frustrating but there’s a liberal amount of auto-save sprinkled through the game so restarting sequences isn’t too much of a chore if you find yourself having to retry.

Visually Angels of Death is nothing special, but it has a certain charm. Having been originally created in RPG Maker, it’s fairly simplistic and rudimentary – something that can be said not only for the visuals, but the gameplay and (lack of) voice acting. The main dialogue throughout Angels of Death is completely text based, with the odd peppering of sound effects, like maniacal laughter, throughout.

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Angels of Death offers interesting characters and an intense storyline to it’s players, however some of the characters do feel a little underdeveloped, and the game doesn’t really offer much insight into the reasons behind the characters actions past Zack and Rachel. It’s here where the anime comes into a world of its own and offers more lore and depth to all characters. The anime and the game work really well in tandem with each other and provide a more full experience for the consumer. Of course, it’s not vital to have both and they can be enjoyed independently of each other. The whole experience feels really special, and the plot of the game is a really well realised and put together journey.

8 stars

 

 

Moving onto the platinum trophy, it’s a fairly straightforward get. The trophies throughout are linked to certain things you have to do in each chapter – a lot being to fail at certain puzzle aspects or to get caught. The guide I used from PSN Profiles is good as it tells you when to save to avoid having to replay long sections, but you will have to read the trophy description to get this information.

My PS5 tells me I played for 9 hours, so a fairly quick platinum to get. I feel the simplicity of the trophies, coupled with the guide make this a really fun and easy platinum to get. The game itself being enjoyable makes any slog for the platinum feel minimal and definitely opens the player up to enjoying the enhanced lore in the anime.

Platinum difficulty rating:

2_stars

 

 

Film Reviews, Films

Review: Encanto

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The Madrigal family have been blessed with supernatural gifts for a few generations. Each family member goes through a coming of age ceremony where they’re granted their gift by the omniscient power which seems to reside in a candle and also grants their house magical powers. The family member’s powers range from heightened hearing, super strength, healing, and…. nothing. Our protagonist Mirabel is the unlucky one, the one member of the Madrigal family since the gifts started being granted to not receive a gift.

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Mirabel is a sweetheart, unfazed for the most part about her lack of a gift. In fact, the opening number of Encanto is Mirabel literally singing the praises of her family members and how incredible they and their gifts are. Whilst Mirabel doesn’t treat any of her family members any differently, the same cannot be said the other way and Mirabel is somewhat ostracised from the family as a result.

After her cousin Antonio’s birthday where he is granted his gift, Mirabel realises the house is losing it’s magic and the family members are losing their gifts. Along with her estranged uncle Bruno, Mirabel decides she’s going to fix things and get the magic back.

Mirabel’s grandmother (who I’ll call Abuela, as they do in the film) is easily the worst of all the Madrigal family. I get that she’s the matriarch and the plot of Encanto mostly stems from her being awful, but I just felt like there was nothing redeeming about her at all. She’s controlling, bossy and far too concerned with appearances. You don’t really see anything of her to make you warm to her or think that she might be a good person early on in the film, and so it’s hard to really care about her character. The focus is very much on Abuela’s negative personality traits, which is to the detriment of the plot.

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Encanto is really visually spectacular. It’s wonderfully colourful and seems very authentic to it’s Columbian setting (from an outside perspective anyway). I believe the majority of the cast are Latinx also (please correct me if I’m wrong!), which helps the film feel very authentic. I loved how all of the members of the Madrigal family had a family resemblance but their character designs were so unique to them, and the characters themselves are really fun and it’s really cool to see them using their gifts.

Whilst Encanto is really visually appealing, that’s pretty much where the positives end for me.

The pacing of the film was just terrible, frankly. Far too much time was focussed on setting up the Madrigal home, explaining the history of the family and the gifts of each family member, that by the time the movie got into the crux of the plot there was barely any time to resolve matters so the ending feels incredibly rushed. The plot had a lot of potential but then just flatlined leaving the ending feeling anticlimactic and like things were resolved too easily given the lead up.

I also felt that for all her shortcomings, Abuela’s redemption was really disappointing. She got a second chance she perhaps didn’t deserve, and this feeling is largely in part due to her not really having much positive characterisation. By the time Encanto wraps up, she was very much still a villain in my mind and didn’t do much to endear me to her.

The songs are also largely forgettable, in my opinion. After I finished Encanto, I have thought approximately 0 times about any of the songs. I’m not sure I would even recognise one if I heard it. I know one is called ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ but when I think about it, I just get the tune of ‘Where You Are’ from Moana (understandably that’s more of a me problem than any actual similarities between the songs). Judging from the reaction of the internet, I’m definitely in a minority here, but for me this was one of Disney’s weakest soundtracks in a long time.

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I did like Encanto, there is a lot to like about it but it did leave me feeling quite underwhelmed and frankly, given the hype I have seen about it on social media, a bit confused! What am I missing? Encanto is one of Disney’s weaker films and not one I’d rush to rewatch any time soon.

6 stars

 

2022 challenges, Challenges

2022 Challenges: The Beginning

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Happy New Year to all my followers and readers! I hope 2021 wasn’t a total garbage fest for you all, it was okay for me but I feel glad to see the back of it! Here’s to a much better 2022!

Thinking about 2022, I want things to change. I felt like in 2021 I had my priorities totally wrong with the challenges and my focus was on things that were totally not what I wanted to really be doing. I got the platinum in a lot of games in 2021, sure, but did I play any good games? Not especially! I’ve found over the years I’ve done a few things like that, and I feel like I’d like to reprioritise things so I feel more fulfilled at the end of the year!

So, here are some slightly more targeted ~achievable~ challenges for 2022!

Platinum 15 games

I know I said in my intro that I was going to reprioritise, but I felt like it wouldn’t be Culture Shack without some focus on platinum trophies. I am going to come up with some criteria to the games I’m going to platinum so that I only get ones that actually pose a challenge and aren’t little 10 minute jobs I’ve bought just to ping the trophy. There might even be a shortlist of games I want to try to get the platinum in, who knows? This challenges leads on nicely to my next one, the first sub-challenge in Culture Shack history!

Get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden

I’ve been threatening it for years, but this year I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden. I really tried in 2021, but I got caught up in other things. I first started playing the game in March 2014, so this is seven years in the making! Out of all of my challenges this is the one I’m most determined to do!

Watch 30 anime

For a self-confessed anime obsessive, I sure haven’t watched much anime lately. I really want to change this. This also comes with a sub-challenge of sorts – I want to watch one show per season. I went a bit crazy with seasonal shows the last couple of years and it was really overwhelming to keep up with, but at the same time it’s cool to be part of the hype. By paring it back to one show per season I think this will allow me to manage things a lot easier and still be part of the ‘conversation’.

Watch 30 films

I got so close to this target in 2021, and I think my mistake was only picking up steam in the latter half of the year so it felt like more of a chore. I can definitely do this!

Watch 30 anime films

Do you know how many unwatched anime blu-rays I have? A lot. Not in 2022. In 2022 I’m going to watch them… maybe not all, but most!

Read 18 books

I nailed the books challenge in 2021, and I really loved doing it. I was always an avid reader as a kid and the literature part of my degree really smashed that out of me. Now I’ve got back in my stride I reckon I can read 18 in 2022, that’s only a book and a half a month!

Clear physical Switch and Vita backlogs

My backlog has gotten out of hand, and I need to resolve that. I’m starting with my handhelds, and purely on the physical games I have so that I have some sort of structure. There’s 6 and 7 games per console so hopefully this won’t be too much of a task.

If you’re interested the games are as follows:

  • Our World Is Ended (Switch)
  • The World Ends With You (Switch)
  • Valthirian Arc (Switch)
  • Cafe Enchante (Switch)
  • Langrisser 1 and 2 (Switch)
  • Octopath Traveller (Switch)
  • Hakuoki Edo Blossoms (Vita)
  • Exist Archive (Vita)
  • 7’scarlet (Vita)
  • Tales of Hearts R (Vita)
  • Steins;Gate (Vita)
  • Pyschadelica of the Black Butterfly (Vita)

 

What do you think of my challenges for 2022? Have I bitten off more than I can chew yet again? If you have any suggestions for last minute considerations, let me know! As well as these challenges, I also have a lot of plans for the blog so I can hopefully be more active, and a lot of life goals I’m determined to achieve! Let’s make 2022 our year!

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: October Recap

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Wow, long time no recap! I said in my last update I’d get better at doing these on time and have done the complete opposite, whoops. I’m very aware I haven’t been posting so much, and I really want to rectify that, but life is hella busy sometimes you know?

Anyway, on with the challenges update! I’ll spare you a long list of everything I’ve added (or not) up until now and just do a totals kind of post, it’s nearly December so I’ll do a more detailed post at the end of the year!

Watch 45 anime

October end total: 17

Things aren’t looking so good for this one, you know. I’m having a problem where I can never seem to sit down and concentrate on anime (or games, it’s very annoying). I think I’ll be able to get up to the halfway point by the end of the year, but it’s looking unlikely this will get done.

Read 50 complete manga

October end total: 2

We might as well call this one now, because things just aren’t happening here. Time of death: 1.00pm on 4th November 2021.

Watch 30 films

October end total: 14

Almost halfway! I’m stupidly optimistic about this one, you know. I probably shouldn’t be, but I think I can do it or at least be a good way through!

Watch 30 anime films

October end total: 6

Hmmm…. I reckon a halfway target of 15 movies by the end of the year is probably more likely than the full 30, but we’ll see how it goes!

Get 35 platinum trophies

October end total: 18

I was doing so well on this challenge in the first part of the year, but as I mentioned earlier, I have really been struggling of late to sit down and play games. I think I can probably add a few more onto this total, but I’m not sure how stupidly optimistic that is.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

October end total: 1

Oh man. The backlog just keeps growing. Sure, I can sit down and watch 10 seasons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race in 2 weeks, but can I concentrate on a game for an hour? Can I heck. I’m also calling the end of this challenge, it’s never going to happen!

Play 12 Switch games

October end total: 2

So I did play Ys XI: Monstrum Nox for review (see my previous post) but I’ve not played anything I actually already owned, which is pretty shameful. I’ll be trying to fix this!

Read 12 books

October end total: 11

A challenge I’m going to actually achieve?! What a miracle! I’m actually reading my 12th book now, I’m about halfway through, so this is definitely going to get done! Hooray!

Game Reviews

Review: Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

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Adol Christin is back, and this time he’s… in prison?! In the newest entry in the Ys series, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, the follow-up to the well-received Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Adol sets on a new adventure. After a series of unfortunate events, he begins investigating supernatural events in his new surroundings.

Read my full review at Nintenpedia.

Battling with the Monstrum

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Paradise Killer

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One of the most commonly seen criticisms of detective games is that they want to point the player towards one specific answer with a specific piece of evidence to corroborate. Not only is this frustrating, but also forces you to think the exact way the game wants you to think, leaving no other interpretation. Paradise Killer takes this criticism and throws it out. Created in 2020, the first person open-world detective game lets you gather as much—or as little—evidence as you like, and come to your own conclusions about them. The only person you have to convince is the Judge.

Read my full review at Nintenpedia.

Paradise Killer trial

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: July Recap

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One month I will post my challenges recap in a timely manner and not a week after the event, but this is not that month. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well in some of the challenges and absolutely terribly in others. Let’s see how I did in July.

Watch 45 anime

July end total: 11

I managed to add another couple of anime to my watched list in July; Let’s Make a Mug Too and IDOLiSH7 Second Beat. I definitely enjoyed one more than the other (*coughIDOLISH7cough*), but both were good in their own way. I’m a week into Anime August now, and not doing brilliantly, I’ll be honest! I’m determined to change that around though!

Read 50 complete manga

July end total: 2

sigh

Watch 30 films

July end total: 9

I didn’t get much opportunity to watch films in July, so I didn’t add anything to my total, but I am still optimistic about this one, probably stupidly so.

Watch 30 anime films

July end total: 4

Again, another challenge where I didn’t add anything to my total. I’m hoping Anime August will change this one around!

Get 35 platinum trophies

July end total: 18

Just over halfway through the year and just over halfway through my platinum trophy target. This year is really making me feel differently about platinum trophies – I’ve played a lot of games I wouldn’t normally play, just to get the platinum, and whilst I’ve enjoyed some, it can’t be said of all of them. I’ve obviously neglected my backlog in favour of platinum trophies and it makes me quite mad at myself, in all honestly. There’s some games on my backlog I know are really great games, and I’ve just cast them aside in favour of getting some quick platinum trophies.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

July end total: 1

The above was a really long way of saying I didn’t play anything from my backlog in July.

Play 12 Switch games

July end total: 1

I have not been doing great on the ol’ Switch games, but I still feel like I can probably make this. I’m going on holiday for a week in September with my parents, and I’m taking aaaaall my Switch games with me, so in any downtime I’m hoping to get a decent amount played. We’ll see!

Read 12 books

July end total: 8

Finally, a challenge I’m ahead on! The Percy Jackson series definitely helped boost this total, but now I’m finished with it I’m looking forward to reading something a bit more my reading level. only a

2021 challenges, Anime

Anime August (Again!)

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We’re in August, who can believe it? Much like 2020, my anime progress for my challenges has been really slow progress, so I’m going to boost it again with Anime August. Plus, I really enjoyed having a dedicated month for something last year as it keeps me more focused.

Here’s what I’m going to be attempting to watch this August! I’ve tried to be more realistic than last year, when I was really overly optimistic.

Series:

  • Bartender
  • Fruits Basket The Final Season
  • Hakkenden
  • Kamisama Kiss
  • Kiss Him, Not Me
  • Moriarty the Patriot Part 2
  • My Love Story
  • Norn9
  • O Maidens in Your Savage Season
  • Photo Kano
  • Starmyu
  • Way of the Househusband
  • Welcome to the Ballroom
  • Zombieland Saga season 2 

Films:

  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • In This Corner of hte World
  • Lu Over the Wall
  • Napping Princess
  • Penguin Highway
  • The Red Turtle
  • The Cat Returns
  • Laputa
  • The Tatami Galaxy
  • 5 Centimetres Per Second

Wish me luck!

manga, Manga reviews

Review: She’s My Knight vol. 1

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Story and art: Saisou
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Haruma Ichinose, 17, has been popular since he was born. So popular, in fact, that he figured no one could even come close…until he met Yuki Mogami. She’s tall, cool, collected, and totally makes him crazy. He may just be in love…but can he deal with falling for someone even more dashing than himself?
Publication date: 30th March 2021

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ichinose is used to all the attention being on him; he’s been praised for his good looks his whole life. When he meets his classmate Yuki, he is instantly jealous due to the attention she gets, plus even worse, she’s taller than him!

The first volume of She’s My Knight does a good job of establishing the characters of Ichinose and Yuki and the dynamic between them. For characters who are both fawned over by their peers, that’s pretty much where their similarities end. Whilst Ichinose is fully aware of how attractive he is and of his charms, Yuki is totally oblivious, which only adds to Ichinose’s frustrations.

I’ve talked before about how I prefer manga with a continuous plot and story, over one where each chapter is a different vignette in itself. She’s My Knight is the latter, but actually, I think in this case it works. It’s not to say there’s no continuity throughout the manga, but each chapter is like a skit where Ichinose and Yuki are in a different situation, whether it’s a class play, or getting stuck together in a supply closet. Seeing the pair navigate these different situations is really amusing and makes for a lot of comedic moments.

The dynamic between Ichinose and Yuki is really fun, and commented on many times as Ichinose being the shoujou heroine and Yuki being the shoujou hero. It’s a fun, subverted story which has some really cute moments between its protagonists.

Whilst Ichinose and Yuki are entertaining and interesting characters, the same can’t be said for the supporting cast who are largely forgettable and add nothing to the stories. It’s a shame as the manga feels like it could really do with some more fleshed out characters to give it some depth and an extra layer, rather than the sole focus being on Ichinose and Yuki and their attractiveness.

She’s My Knight has a lot of promise and it will be interesting to see where it goes. I’d hope that there’ll be less uncertainty about the future of Ichinose and Yuki as a couple and more focus on them actually as an established couple, but we all know that ‘will they won’t they’ is a popular trope, so I won’t hold my breath!

3 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: To The Moon

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Originally released on PC back in 2011, To The Moon was created by Kan Gao using the RPG Maker XP toolkit based on his own experiences with his grandfather’s life-threatening condition, and influenced by his own questions about end-of-life thoughts and whether a person can live with their regrets. Fast forward 9 years and one rebuild on Unity, and To The Moon was released on Switch in early 2020, ready to be enjoyed by a new generation.

Read my full review at Nintenpedia.

To The Moon