Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: One Night Stand

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Back when I decided to do a little platinum trophy number boost, I bought One Night Stand in the PSN sale for relatively cheap, you may remember I wrote a review on it. I had chosen One Night Stand, among a few others, as it was reported to be a quick platinum, and when I say quick, I mean quick. I managed to get the platinum trophy for One Night Stand in around 45 minutes.

There are guides for One Night Stand out there, but essentially what you’re aiming to do is get all the available endings and fill out all the pictures on the phone that appears at the end of each route. The game gives you clues about how to get each picture, so you’re not flying totally blind.

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From memory, there’s one other trophy which isn’t tied into an ending and relates to a decision that you have to make in the game, but it is kind of a spoiler, so I won’t say!

I would recommend anyone playing One Night Stand to play through a normal route first, and attempting to fill in the blanks themselves, but if you don’t want to do this then there are a lot of guides out there. This is the one I used, or you can find your own with a simple Google search – just make sure you add ‘game’ at the end of ‘One Night Stand’, or you could end up with some interesting search results!

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Over at Playstationtrophies.org One Night Stand is rated with 1/10 difficulty and a 1-2 hour time estimate. I agree with the difficulty rating; nothing in this game is a challenge, and even without guides everything is quite straightforward and easily figured out. The 1-2 hours estimated platinum time is probably fair. Like I said, I got it in 45 minutes, but I used a guide for the most part, so without a guide 1-2 hours is pretty reasonable.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Buried Stars

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Visual novel Buried Stars is an interesting one. With many saying online that the game has come from nowhere, its sudden release has surprised, and delighted, a lot of people. From Korean Studio Largo, Buried Stars follows the events of the titular reality show, which is set in the final stages of a K-pop talent contest. Unfortunately for our characters, tragedy befalls the event, and the building that it’s filmed in collapses, trapping the five remaining contestants and members of the production staff. Playing as Do-Yoon Han, one of the contestants, it’s down to you to unravel what has happened, and survive until the rescue squad arrives.

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From the off, the concepts within the game are well explained. Each contestant has been given a smartwatch by the show’s sponsors, though some have more features than others. The smartwatch functions as normal, with access to call contacts, voice notes, photos, and the in-game social media network, Phater. All of these are mechanics which will become integral as the game progresses.

Read my full review at Push Square.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Fire Emblem Three Houses – Cindered Shadows DLC

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The main reason I got my Nintendo Switch was to play Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Sure there are other games that interested me, but I just really wanted to play Three Houses. Of course, it had been out a good 5 months when I got my Switch, so far too late for a review, but needless to say I enjoyed it.

My logic is somewhat flawed here, as evidently from the title this is a review of the Cindered Shadows DLC, which came out on February 12th, which is well over 5 months ago, but hey! Folks on Twitter said they didn’t mind reading reviews of older releases as it helps them decide whether to buy or watch something, so I’m pushing past the apprehension of writing reviews for older things and just doing it!

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Cindered Shadows is the first set of DLC for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and brings with it a new route and four new characters in their own house; the Ashen Wolves. The premise is that the Ashen Wolves live in Abyss, an underground town below Garreg Mach.

The whole campaign takes around 8 hours to complete and spans 7 chapters. Each chapter completed in the DLC nets you a benefit when you play the main game again, from Abyss becoming explorable to one of the four new characters becoming recruitable, and bonus items. Each character also comes with its own class which will also be available during the main game.

To assist the Ashen Wolves with their quest, the main game house leaders are sent along with Byleth, and bring along with one member of each house for assistance. The choice of characters for Blue Lions and Black Eagles is a bit strange, I won’t divulge who, but I would have thought it would make more sense to have different characters, given their roles within those houses. I have only played Blue Lions to date, so playing with characters from Black Eagles and Golden Deer was cool, and a good taster for playthroughs I have ahead of me.

Gameplay is obviously the same process as in the main game, but it’s much harder. I found there were some severe difficulty spikes as well, with many of the requirements for battles feeling borderline impossible at times. In my Blue Lions playthrough I didn’t really have to redo many battles, but the same definitely cannot be said of Cindered Shadows. It’s a good kind of difficult as it makes you think much more strategically about how you’re playing and forces you to think about your choices a lot more each turn.

Cindered Shadows is well worth the money. It’s a completely fleshed out story of it’s own, and the four new characters are well developed and fit in well with existing characters. It was all I could do not to start up a new route in the main game immediately to recruit them over. For fans of Three Houses, Cindered Shadows is a must.

8 stars

 

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Fairy Tail

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Fairy Tail follows the plot of the anime, set from around the end of the Tenrou Island arc to approximately the end of the Avatar arc. For the uninitiated, that spans around 160 episodes from about 122 onwards. You’re therefore much better off going into Fairy Tail with some knowledge of the property already, but there is an in-game encyclopaedia with plot reminders and a glossary of terms which will help familiarise the unversed. Though Fairy Tail does retread old ground, and for the most part does it very well, some points are skipped over for brevity and emotional depth is often lost as a result.

Read my full review at Push Square.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Distraint Deluxe Edition

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Available on: PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS
Played on: PS4

In Distraint you play as Price, a man who has the job of foreclosing on properties with overdue debts, and evicting tenants. Price’s dream is to become partner of the firm he works for, but as the events of Distraint show, that comes at a price (heh). Our protagonist is visited by the ghosts of his parents who beg him to change his ways before it is too late, and throughout the game Price is subjected to hauntings and various disturbing imagery to persuade him to change.

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Distraint is a 2D horror adventure game, where you progress by solving puzzles. Though relatively short at around the hour mark, Distraint tells a compelling story, and you get to witness Price change from ruthless to someone who feels remorse for their actions, and appears to genuinely change. The puzzles throughout are interesting and engaging, and though some can be hard to figure out, it’s not in a way that ever seems frustrating or like the game is trying to trip you up on purpose. There can be a lot of back and forth, however, as you need to take one item from one area to another, or trigger something in one part of a room and dash to another in a time limit. Sometimes this element gets a bit monotonous, but the game isn’t long enough to dwell on this issue for too long.

Distraint‘s sound design is pivotal to the whole game. Where its simplistic 2D art style don’t necessarily create a horror vibe on their own, paired with the game’s soundtrack you’re given something that feels eerie and creepy throughout. The music was what really got my heart racing, as at certain moments you’ll hear the screeching of violins or a high pitched noise, and it really creates tension and puts you on edge throughout.

The whole set-up of Distraint is one that makes you feel uncomfortable, from the walls dripping with blood, to the residents of a care home who are living in less than ideal conditions. Distraint makes you feel at one with Price’s moral dilemma and makes you live his pain, even if for the short time you’re playing it.

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Distraint can be played as a commentary on capitalism; Price spends his days reclaiming properties from those his higher ups send him to, but it is only his employers who benefit from this. Price himself lives in a run down apartment every bit as dreary and dilapidated as the ones he is reclaiming, another cog in the system working only to benefit the bigwigs above him. It’s definitely a game to give you something to think about, and stays with you long after you’ve finished.

There didn’t seem to be enough to Distraint to get me fully on board. The puzzles are fun, and the development of the main character is interesting, but somehow it felt it lacked depth and perhaps would have benefitted from being a longer game to flex this. The price tag makes this almost a non-issue; I paid £1.99 for the game, and with that you can’t really go wrong.

7 stars

 

 

Game Reviews, Games

Review: One Night Stand

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Browing the Playstation Store recently, I came across a lot of games that were under £5. I’ll admit, I did a lot of cross-referencing the games on PlaystationTrophies to see if they had platinum trophies, and how attainable they were, and I came across a few which I bought, one of which was One Night Stand. 

I paid £2.89 for One Night Stand on sale, but even out of the sale it’s £3.99. At that price, it’s a steal. I’ll do a Platinum Review of the game at a later time, it is why I bought the game after all, but I wanted to do a proper review first.

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One Night Stand has you playing as a male, waking up hungover in a girl’s room after, you guessed it, a one night stand. The game presents you with choices from the off, whether that’s replying to text messages, or looking around the girl’s room at certain things to piece together what happened the night before.

Depending on what you look at in the girl’s room when she’s out of the room, it unlocks dialogue options to talk about when she’s back. This then contributes to whether you get a positive, negative or neutral ending – for example, reading the notebook at the side of the bed and then bringing it up will not put you in the good books, as you would expect from invading someone’s privacy.

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The art style is really cool, like a sketched out image, and in pale, muted colours – the kind of muted colours you wish the world was in when you wake up with a hangover. I think the art style is really the defining feature of One Night Stand, and something that stayed with me thereafter.

Whilst there’s no gameplay to analyse, as such, everything does feel very intuitive. The game progresses through a series of choices made by the character as he struggles to piece together the previous night’s events, but it does feel realistic in terms of its content. Conversations can be clipped and awkward, as you would expect they would be.

I did enjoy One Night Stand. I played through it in about an hour or so, which given the price point isn’t too awful, albeit there’s not a lot of incentive for replay once you’ve finished. Though some of the endings are quite similar, there is a small mystery within to piece together which is a fun twist at the end of the game.

6 stars

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: The Nonary Games

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to clear up platinum trophies on games I’d already started, and The Nonary Games collection was first on my hit list.

The Nonary Games is a collection of the first two games in the Zero Escape series; 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999 hereafter!), and Virtue’s Last Reward (VLR). 999 was originally released in the West on Nintendo DS back in 2010, with VLR following up on PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS in 2012. The remastered collection was released on Windows and PlayStation 4 and Vita in 2017.

I had played both 999 and VLR prior to The Nonary Games coming out, getting the platinum in VLR at the time. Judging by my 999 playthrough and how little I remembered, I think I only played one route at the time as I felt like I had forgotten almost all of the game, and my memory can’t be that bad, right? I often joke, “I wish I could wipe my memory so I could experience x for the first time again”, and this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to that!

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For reference to anyone who might want to attempt The Nonary Games platinum, it is given as a 2/10 for difficulty with 20+ hours as a guide time on Playstationtrophies.org.

I would tend to agree on the difficulty rating, but the time estimate purely depends on how good you are at puzzles, though solutions are easily found on the internet. It’s worth noting that sometimes though you might think you have solved a puzzle or have figured out the solution, you have to solve it the way the game want you to, but this is often the case with puzzle games.

999 and VLR both have really great (if somewhat confusing) stories. 999 is slightly more tricky to get the different routes on as there’s no visual map of what you’re doing, so you might need to look for a guide for that if you’re set on getting the platinum in the quickest time possible. Over on VLR’s side, the game features a handy flow chart so you can track back to route branches and fill out the whole map. It does get a little confusing as you have to hop around each branch to unlock certain bits of story to progress further on different branches, but that’ll all make sense when you play it!

Whilst The Nonary Games is a fairly straightforward and quick platinum, it’s really rewarding. As I’ve said, the story is incredible, and the series features some really wonderfully written characters. Once you’ve tackled The Nonary Games, you can move onto the sequel, Zero Time Dilemma, which is equally as great.

Games

My time with Animal Crossing

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When Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched back on March 20th 2020, the world was in the throes of a crisis. I’m sure I don’t need to relay the facts to you, but for context, here in the UK we went into government sanctioned lockdown on March 23rd – due to health implications, my own lockdown began on March 17th.

I had no intentions of buying ACNH, but a combination of getting caught up in the hype and wanting something to fill my lockdown time really appealed, so I bought it. My current play time sits at around 160 hours, and with the game having been out for 75 days (at time of writing). Whilst it sounds a lot, that actually only equates to an average of just over 2 hours per day, nothing in comparison to some players I’m sure.

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Initially, I really enjoyed playing ACNH. I loved meeting new villagers, building up my library, extending my house, all the things that are exciting and fresh once you start playing. Online there have been some people saying that ACNH doesn’t have enough to sustain it. Back over Easter, there was a lot said about the eggs that could be found throughout the game being too frequent and getting in the way of normal play. All of this is a stark reminder that the lockdown changed things. This isn’t a game that was designed to be played for 8 hours a day, we were supposed to be a lot more casual in our playing. I think now, some 75 days on, this is where I’m at with ACNH. I’m finally putting in the 1-2 hours a day playtime that the game developers probably had in mind when they made it. 

Once I’d met the goal of having KK Slider perform on my island, terraforming brought with it it’s own anxieties. Where the game had been reasonably relaxing knowing I had no control over the environment other than decoration, being given carte blanche to tear down cliffs and stick water wherever I wanted was pretty overwhelming.

There’s been a lot of discourse on Twitter about not comparing yourself to other players, but in an age where everything is easily shared, it’s hard not to. I’ll admit I got myself trapped in a cycle of seeing things online and realising I would never come up with anything that creative for my own island, and found that any joy I’d got from ACNH had left, replaced by fear. What I was scared of I couldn’t exactly say, but I think part of it was having an image in my head that I couldn’t recreate. 

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Whilst my playtime on ACNH has reduced of late, I’m still playing a bit each day. I’ve found it helps with my daily routine. The daily ACNH tasks; collect fossils and have them assessed, check for recipes on the beach and in villager houses, all of these things keep some structure in my life which as been missing since coronavirus hit. 

I have a few areas on my island I’m looking to develop, and that I have some ideas for, but after they are done I do wonder what the game will hold for me. I feel like I’ve definitely got my money out of ACNH, 160+ hours into any game is more than reasonable, but I also feel like the end of my time with ACNH is probably in sight. 

When I started writing this piece, it was centred around how playing ACNH helped me cope with depression and anxiety during lockdown, and whilst it has, I can definitely tell that the end of the cycle is in sight. I’ll still play it, but it’ll be less of a coping mechanism for me now. 

 

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Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: The Sims 4

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It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, but rest assured, I’m still getting platinum trophies. This year my challenge is to get 20 platinum trophies, and I’ll be honest, things are not going brilliantly, but I’m trying to turn things around!

Early on, I decided I would mop up some platinums for games I’d started, and I had an urge to play The Sims, so I opted for The Sims 4 for my first platinum of the year.

Playstationtrophies.org lists The Sims 4 as a 3/10 difficulty rating, and 26-30+ hours. I have to say, whilst not difficult it did take me a lot longer than the estimated time.

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No trophy is especially difficult, but the fact that so many of the trophies are for getting to the top of each career path and maxing out each skill means they are fairly time-consuming. There are a lot of tips in the forums on Playstationtrophies.org, and these will direct you to some custom content you can download to make things easier; a Sim who is pregnant with triplets being the hardest to come across in the game naturally, but with the custom content, you have a pregnant Sim who you just need to move onto a lot and wait. Simple!

Towards the end of the slog for the platinum, I sort of lost any love I had for the game. I’ve always been someone who loved The Sims, but somewhere along the line grinding for this one (and it did feel like a grind), any enjoyment I had for the game just left me.

I’m glad to have done it, but I don’t think I’ll ever play The Sims in any iteration again.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: My Hero One’s Justice 2

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My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the second fighting game based on My Hero Academia, arguably one of the most popular anime in the world. As its title suggests, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the follow-up to 2018’s equally awkwardly titled My Hero One’s Justice — and it’s every bit as bland as its predecessor.

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My Hero One’s Justice 2 boasts a lot of different modes, each of which is enjoyable in its own right, if not a bit repetitive at times. Story mode focuses on retelling recent events from the anime, centring on the Provisional Hero License Exam and Shie Hassaikai arcs. This does feel somewhat like a double-edged sword; on the one hand it’s really cool to be reliving those moments and taking part in some truly iconic battles, but on the other hand, it all feels so recent — it would have been nice to experience some original content. Story mode does offer this to an extent, giving the option to replay it as a villain to get another perspective on the story, but still, it all feels like you’re retreading very familiar ground.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.