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

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.

Game Reviews

Review: Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk

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Nippon Ichi’s latest release Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is a first-person dungeon crawler where you play Tractie – that is, the Tractatus de Monstrum – a mysterious book with a soul trapped inside, able to communicate by filling out its pages. Tractie is under the control of a witch named Baba Yaga, or Dronya as she goes by in the village of Refrain. The titular labyrinth is a no-go area for humans, so Dronya decides that Tractie is going to explore on her behalf, and throws it down the well that serves as the entrance to the labyrinth.

You’ll need to report back into Dronya after fulfilling a set requirement in order to progress the game. Early on this is a bit frustrating, as it means you have to abandon your position in the labyrinth to get back, but eventually you’ll learn a skill called Mud Exit which creates a one-use portal to teleport back to, making exploration much easier.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Game Reviews

Review: Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier

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Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is set between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes – the two most recent movies in the franchise.

With the power of PlayLink, up to four players can decide the fate of humans and apes alike, as we take control of Jess, the head of a human settlement, and Bryn, an ape in a mountain tribe. If playing along with the PlayLink app isn’t cutting it for you, fortunately you can also use multiple DualShock 4 controllers. In fact, playing this way is preferable, as you’re not threatened by connection problems if your wi-fi isn’t behaving. Still, the option for PlayLink is there should you need it.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

Game Reviews

Review: Chaos;Child

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Chaos;Child is the latest visual novel brought to us by developer 5pb, and the fourth main entry in the ‘Science Adventure’ series. Chaos;Child sits in that series with acclaimed titles like Steins;Gate and this game’s predecessor, Chaos;Head, but don’t worry too much about having experience with either. Ultimately, playing those will add depth to Chaos;Child, but it’s perfectly enjoyable and works as a standalone game if you haven’t played the others.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Game Reviews

Review: Blue Reflection

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Blue Reflection is the latest offering from Gust, the developer who previously brought us the Atelier series. A brand new IP, Blue Reflection focuses on the story of Hinako, a former child ballet star who starts a new high school. She discovers that she’s a Reflector, the game’s version of a magical girl, along with her new friends, Yuzu and Lime. As the story unfolds we learn of a parallel world, The Common, where monsters feed off emotions. Hinako and her friends must use the power of friendship to defeat the evil Sephirot and save the world.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Game Reviews

Review: Dark Rose Valkyrie

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Dark Rose Valkyrie is the latest Japanese role-playing game presented to us by developer Compile Heart and publisher Idea Factory. It’s set in an alternate version of 1929 Japan where Black Garnet, a meteorite, has hit the Earth and caused a virus that transforms the public into deadly creatures called Chimera.  The protagonist, Asahi Shiramine, is the captain of Task Force Valkyrie – a special unit created by a military agency in order to defeat these beings.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.