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

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

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Call Of The Sea

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Norah is ill, and her husband Harry is missing after having gone searching the world for a cure. After receiving a mysterious package, Norah decides to go to the place Harry was last known to be — an island off the coast of Tahiti. Call of the Sea bills itself as a Lovecraftian mystery game, and whilst the first person adventure puzzler is clearly influenced by the writer’s work, it falls short on the mystery front.

Read my full review at Push Square.cots

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Kaze and the Wild Masks

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Kaze and the Wild Masks is a 2D platformer described by developers PixelHive as ’90s inspired’. This is definitely accurate, as there’s a majorly nostalgic vibe, from the slightly retro feeling artwork and music to the lack of dialogue. It simultaneously feels years old and brand new.

Read my full review at Push Square.

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Game Reviews, Games

Review: Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

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Just two years after her first game, Reisalin “Ryza” Stout is back with Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. This time, she’s on an adventure from her home of Kurken Island and has travelled to Asha-Am-Baird to investigate mysteries surrounding some ruins while reuniting with some familiar faces.

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Atelier Ryza 2 hits the ground running, straight into the thick of things with its mystery heavy plot and into the dungeon exploration the series is loved for. It’s not strictly necessary to have played Ryza’s first outing to make sense of this offering, but certainly those who have will get a kick out of seeing returning characters and referenced events.

Read my full review at Push Square.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Astro’s Playroom

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Upon receiving a PlayStation 5, all players are treated to Astro’s Playroom, already installed on the console and designed to showcase the abilities of the new PS5 controller, the Dualsense.

Following it’s largely underwhelming pack-in predecessors, Welcome Pack for PS Vita and The Playroom for PS4, Astro’s Playroom had a lot to prove, hoping to finally answer the question; can a demo game actually be good?

In short, yes, it can.

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Astro’s Playroom is the perfect introduction to the PS5. Whilst it does act somewhat as a tech demo to show off the capabilities of the DualSense controller, Astro’s Playroom is also a really fun game in its own right.

The 16 levels of Astro’s Playroom are set across four worlds – one for each previous PlayStation console. The collectibles throughout the game are various Sony artifacts, which are viewable in the game hub. Seeing these collectibles pop up makes for really nostalgic gameplay, especially for players with a long history with PlayStation.

Traversing the different worlds, you’ll come across different scenarios which cause the DualSense to react differently. Rain, thunder and sunshine all feel different as Astro ventures through them, creating a really immersive gameplay experience.

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Astro’s Playroom is a bright platformer which showcases the capabilities of the PS5 and the DualSense controller, but it’s so much more. It’s a game which is packed with nostalgia and charm. It’s easy to blast through Astro’s Playroom in one playthrough, it has a short campaign of around 6 hours, but they’re 6 hours packed with fun gameplay, and cute aesthetics.

8 stars

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