Review: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

From Compile Heart, the developer of the reasonably popular Hyperdimension Neptunia series, comes a new game from a fresh intellectual property. MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is the story of a world that is suffering an eternal nighttime. Legend tells the story of a chosen Machina Mage who must turn the key to restart the world and restore order. The world of MeiQ is made up of five parts, and a mage has been selected from each part to partake in the quest. Enter the cast.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Review: Assassin’s Creed Rogue

As the famous saying goes, “There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a new Assassin’s Creed game every year.” At least, that’s how the saying could have gone, until Ubisoft decided to outdo themselves and launch two Assassin’s Creed games on the same day at the tail end of 2014.

With the world and his wife harping on about Ubisoft’s new-gen offering and those screenshots, it was easy to forget our reliable last-gen consoles were also ready to take us back to the sprawling world Ubisoft have carved out, and for the very last time.

Read the rest of my review on This Is My Joystick.

Review: Gods Will Be Watching

They might have been far and few between in the past, but choice-based games are now becoming a prevalent gaming genre. Described as a “point-and-click thriller”, Gods Will Be Watching is set across six chapters, and is a minimalistic foray asking you to set aside your morals in order to solve a series of puzzles. Based on a mini-game created for a Ludum Dare 26 challenge, Gods Will Be Watching was an intriguing game, if nothing else.

Gods Will Be Watching is initially quite frustrating. There is a lack of instruction and objectives, and the first chapter seems to introduce players to a new level of thinking, rather than any story or gameplay elements. It’s because of this that it’s easy to find yourself at the game over screen fairly often. Once you’ve seen it once, you should become accustomed to it because you’ll be seeing it quite regularly.

Read the rest of my review on Filmoria.

Review: The Wolf Among Us – The Crooked Mile

Telltale Games has released the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us across Europe, subtitled The Crooked Mile. With the success of The Walking Dead, Telltale have high expectations to reach with The Wolf Among Us, but episodes 1 and 2 proved that they were up to the challenge.

Readers of Culture Shack will know how much I love this series, you can read my full review over at Filmoria.

Review: The Wolf Among Us

From Telltale Games, creators of the widely acclaimed The Walking Dead game comes The Wolf Among Us.

Based on hit comic book series Fables, The Wolf Among Us is a re-imagining of classic, much-loved fairytale characters and the life they lead in modern-day Manhattan. The game is set 20 years before the first Fables comic, and it is briefly explained that the characters have had to vacate their fairytale lifestyle to relocate to their own community in New York, Fabletown. In order to blend in with normal citizens (referred to by the Fables as “mundies”), the less human Fables have to take an enchantment known as “glamour”.

The Wolf Among Us follows protagonist Bigby Wolf, also known as the Big, Bad Wolf, who is the appointed police detective of Fabletown. Dressed in a trenchcoat, Bigby is a man of few words, and definitely a man of action. The game opens with Bigby attending a callout to a fellow Fable, Mr. Toad, and the player is able to see from this early encounter and an altercation with the Woodsman, that Bigby is not a man of the people.

Game mechanics are identical to The Walking Dead, with quick-time events forcing players to make quick decisions and act instinctively. The game’s art style also heavily influenced by the game’s predecessor, though having now picked up a copy of the first Fables graphic novel I can see that the design of the characters and set are very loyal to the source text.

Though the first episode, Faith allows the player a short window of time with the game, it is more than enough to get you hooked. As the episode played out, I began to feel myself building an affinity with Bigby, just as I had done with Lee Everett in The Walking Dead. I was sad when Bigby was sad, angry when Bigby was angry, happy.. well, Bigby isn’t ever really happy, but I relished the brief glimpses of happiness that Bigby was shown.

The game plays out as a noir style detective game, with the first episode introducing you to the case you will have to crack over the course of the game. Other well-known fairytale and children’s story characters make appearances, helping and hindering Bigby as he goes on his way. The strands of the case begin to unravel, as you find yourself as Bigby having to investigate smaller cases which may or may not influence the bigger picture.

Like The Walking Dead before it, The Wolf Among Us is near perfection. It is everything I want in a game, and episode one has definitely left me wanting more. Though I don’t have the patience to wait for each installment of the game, the episodic feel really impacts on you, as you have to live with the decisions you have made. I can’t wait to jump back into Bigby’s world. Episode two can’t come quickly enough.

9.0

Review: 400 Days

My journey with the Walking Dead began with Telltale Games’ standout game series, released in spring 2012. I’d always meant to start watching the show, start reading the books, but it was the game that really launched me into it.

The game really was everything I’d ever wanted from a game. I remember as a kid picking up a pre-owned copy of Final Fantasy IX, just because it was cheap, then becoming ridiculously excited in the opening scenes. You were asked a question, then given a choice with what to answer with. A choice! The game was giving you options!

From that moment on, I always looked out for games that gave you options. To me, there was (and even, there is) nothing more exciting than shaping the plot of a game. To get a different experience to someone else makes the games more realistic, in my opinion. People’s lives aren’t the same, so why should their game lives be?

The Walking Dead game strikes me as the perfect example of why choice-based games are brilliant. No choice specific trophies means that a platinum was possible even for a trophy whore like myself. The Heavy Rain trophy list meant you couldn’t just stand by your decisions – you had to play through and opt for decisions you’d never made before, but with the Walking Dead, you really have to live with the consequences of your actions.

Brilliant voice acting and a fantastic storyline really made me love the Walking Dead game. In a list of my favourite games of 2012, it would definitely be in the top five, if not taking the top spot for itself.

It was set to be a long wait between season 1 and season 2, when the 400 Days DLC pack was announced.

The DLC is set at various points after the initial outbreak of walkers, and is from the viewpoints of five different characters. The game mechanics are exactly the same, unfortunately down to the lags at crucial points. The five character viewpoint shows you how the outbreak has affected those from all walks of life, from the schoolboy to the criminal.

As an introduction to new characters, 400 Days works perfectly, giving away just enough of each character’s pasts to leave you intrigued. My only criticism, lagging aside, is that by spreading the already short DLC across five characters, you don’t really have much time to really grow attached to any of the characters. Sure, after playing there are characters I have a soft spot for, but none of them come close to the torch I was holding for Lee or Clem at the end of the first episode of the first season.

What I really love about 400 Days, and about the series as a whole, is the immediacy with decision making. This can lead to some decisions being made that you will later fully regret, but what a parallel to real life!

400 Days has fully whetted my appetite for the Walking Dead game franchise once more, and I know will spawn many more conversations between my friends once they get round to playing the game. I look forward to seeing how the new characters will deal with the wide world, and just where they’re headed to and what’s waiting for them there.

8.5