Game: Silence

SilenceFinished Silence.

Silence is an adventure and the successor of The Whispered World. After an airstrike, you wake up in the land of Silence. In this, a false queen claimed reign who sent her Seekers to search for the splinter of the mirror in the throne room. This splinter is said to have magical powers. The false queen needs this splinter to claim her final power. You play Noah/Sedwick and Renie, his sister, to find your way in Silence. You join the rebellion against the false queen, find the splinter and try to get back into your own world.

Silence is a decent adventure, though the “adventure”-parts are very, very reduced: there is basically zero inventory, resulting in very limited interaction options. The main process is simply to click on the hot spots and see the story evolving. As such, the demands of the game are very, very low. It plays rather more like an interactive movie.

The story continues the theme of The Whispered World meaning: it beautiful, melancholic, sad and adorable at the very same time. Though the game is over in a couple of hours. The game does not bear any real challenges and thus lacks to deliver any feeling of success or mastery on some “riddles”.

Pros:
* Nice story (with a bitter ending though).
* Gorgeous graphics.
* Cute Renie.

Cons:
* Only one save game.
* Very short gameplay.
* Underwhelming riddles.

7/10 7 out of 10

Game: Lords of the Fallen

Lords of the FallenFinished Stopped Lords of the Fallen. I stopped playing Lords of the Fallen at the Lost Brothers boss (Boss #9).

Story: you play Harkyn, a once-been prisoner, who accompanies Kaslo to a Monastery to defeat the Rhogar: daemon like enemies of the evil God Adyr. In the monastery, the leader of the human resistance Antanas welcomes your help and you are the forefront to defend mankind.

The gameplay is a cheeky mimicry of the Dark Souls series.

Pro:

  • The graphics are quite well and the monastery feels cool.

Con:

  • Boy, Harkyn is way too sluggish! Even naked he’s acting ponderous.
  • The weapons and armour start been interesting but soon turn to implausible 12-year-boyish fantasy items.
  • … same as for the story. It provides some “twists” … to artificial prolong the game.
  • The NPC and the dialogues are … uhm … again: 12-year-boyish fantasy (minus the sex). Harkyn seems to have very little IQ.
  • The camera movement is awkward. In narrow spaces, it sometimes goes crazy and unusable.
  • The focus system inspired by Dark Souls is there but somehow lacking, e.g. I still did not grasp how to switch opponents right.
  • The inventory menu system is unclear and confusing and the handling is suboptimal.

I could go on. Lords of the Fallen looks promising. But playing the game? Nah, not so. As I was backtracking again into the monastery the game lost the fun and turned to work.

Sad.

4/10 4 out of 10

Game: Diablo III

Diablo IIIFinished Diablo III. Twice, once with the crusader and once with the necromancer. Diablo III is simply one big great b…tch of a hack-and-slay dungeon crawler.

The story itself circles again around the everlasting conflict between daemons and angels, humankind in the middle, nephalem and other mythical beings engaged in a maelstrom of battles. Finally, you’ll decide the faith of the world.

Along the path, you kill and loot, and kill and loot, and kill and loot, and kill and loot, … it’s a feast! New items keep dropping by the second, you wield fierce magic, summon the undead to fight for you or you hammer opponents to the ground with mighty weapons.

The setting is cool, and the details in the landscape and the setting is just f…king awesome! It’s incredible how many details the developers and designers have put into this game. Not only the presentation and graphics but also at nearly every element of the gameplay and design.

There’s however one thing which I withdraw a star: the need for a constant Internet connection to the battle.net servers. Also, if you have finished the game with a character, choosing another class is not a real experience. Yes, necromancer does play differently than crusader but essentially not very much.

Nevertheless, it is a milestone and with pure right the line to measure all other games of this genre.

9/10 9 out of 10

Game: Dishonored

DishonoredFinished Dishonored.

Nice game! You play Corvo Attano, the Lord Protector, whose agency is to protect the Empress and her daughter in a steampunk version of London called Dunwall. You are tricked, brought to the prison and should be executed as the scapegoat for the murder of the Empress. You manage to escape and then you go for a vengeance rampage.

This game is basically a stealth game with some mysterious magic powers given to you in a comic styled but somehow dystopian steampunk world. The story is well written, the world is nicely done, the graphics are done fine with an Unreal engine underneath.

All telling an interesting story very well done.

I finished the game twice:
* playing with Low Chaos, meaning killing no-one or at least very few. I failed the “Clean Hand” achievement by merely 4 kills.
* playing with High Chaos (at the highest difficulty). This was way easier than the Low Chaos walkthrough on normal difficulty, … but a massacre. I draw a gory, bloody line across Dunwall and was unstoppable.

8/10 8 out of 10

Game: Dragon’s Dogma, Dark Arisen

Dragon's Dogma: Dark ArisenFinished Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. Puhh, this game is the far worst of all games … I like.

It’s very difficult to judge this one. There are so many interesting ideas integrated into the game, yet at the very same there are so many RPG 101 flaws, it makes one cry. It’s basically a Skyrim, Witcher 3, Two Worlds, Dark Souls cross-over, with huge boss monsters and the ability to climb on those while fighting.

* Pawns: you can create a bot to join you and you can add two more of these bots. They act as party members and accompany you throughout the land, which is cool. But the AI is rather poor and then: these pawns never shut the fck up! One nearly goes nuts of at least one of this idiots commenting on the scenery. Nearly every 5 seconds. Once, all my pawns jumped off a cliff into their death – which they do from time – and there was silence! My God, this was great! It nearly felt like Dark Souls… Also Pawns: when you think about it, you having basically cannon fodder at your disposal, which is acting like humans, talking like humans, pretending to be inferior to you and you basically act on them like they are trash… viewed with this perspective, it’s a little disturbing.

* Crafting: there’s crafting with a lot of different ingredients to do, yes. But most of the “treasure” you find, is just plain junk. Seldom you find a weapon or armour of good use and crafting take the route: you crate “from” not “to”. Meaning: you have X, let’s see what Y you can create with it. I think it should be the other way round: I want Y, let’s see if I have all X to create it and what’s missing. The approach in Dragon’s Dogma is just wrong.

* Only 1 save game. As an Open World game. No further comment needed.

* No mount or fast travel on a large map, but stamina depleting while running the landscape. No further comment needed too. This is stupid.

And there are some really bad ones, like the artificial wait states in the game menu, the pseudo-philosophical gibberish of the dragon and world’s lore, the endless backtracking and repetition and the very, very dull quests.

Still, it is not a fully bad game and there *are* some moments of enjoyment.

Light, with many, many shadows.

Nearly not to recommend, 6/10 6 out of 10

Game: Blackguards

Blackguards(Not quite) Finished Blackguards. Played all on Linux.

Blackguards is the battle mechanics of The Dark Eye. You are commanding a party of up to 5 different heroes and engage in various figths throughout the story which itself lets you visit various places in southern Aventuria.

Granted, the game has some nice ideas and the battles themselves are quite entertaining. But the game suffers from many drawbacks:

* First, the difficulty level in “easy” is very high. That’s why I quit the game at the end boss, Urias. Since at this stage it’s more a matter of luck than tactics.
* You can easily skill your heroes in a very wrong. You have no chance to re-skill.
* The story is somehow confusing and not very intriguing.
* The graphics in some places are quite good, which makes the bad rendering in the cut-scene even more obvious.

To sum up: a nice idea with potential, sadly wasted: 5/10 5 out of 10

Game: Metro Last Light

Metro Last NightFinished Metro Last Light. Played on Linux.

Metro Last Light is an FPS in the (very close) tradition of Half-Life 2. You play Artyom in Moscow after a nuclear war. The public government is broken, nonexistent and anarchy prevails. People fleed into the Metro (hence the name) to survive and escape the radioactive fallout. Mutants roam the streets and in the tunnels, adding up to the danger. Your character is a Ranger of The Order and finds himself in between the different factions like The Red (communists), Reich (Nazis), Bandits, … Though the game is very linear, the storyline is quite intriguing and in the course of actions you find friendship, are betrayed and discover a plot of mass destruction which – of course – you have to prevent.

And it is this story alongside the graphics the game shines. These two things are the strong points of Metro Last Light. Ok, the story abates to the end.

Next is your weapon arsenal: you have a good choice of the usual FPS weapons. There’s also some limited weapon crafting in the game.

… but then there is the gameplay itself. Looking closely, Metro Last Light is no match for Half-Life 2. Yes, the graphics are better and Metro has some nice immersive stuff, like wiping your mask. Yet, the game is thrifty when it comes to actual numbers and player orientation, guidance. You do not know your health stat in numbers or the quality of your guns. You have to judge the effectiveness of a weapon by the looks of it or how it feels to handle it. You also have no map of any area.

The game is very dim light in many, many places and interactive objects do not light up. Well, at least too weak for me to be noticed. I’m sure, I missed a ton on my playthrough. On the other hand, the game shows a lock symbol in your face when you cannot interact with a locker. But not on the thousand other objects, why?

On some maps, I got lost very easily. It’s not that the maps are big, but sometimes just confusing, e.g. in the Swamp I circled for ages until I found finally the gas. More often then not, I did not know where to go and stumbled to the next level rather by accident than by plan.

And finally, the save game mechanics: you have one single save and it’s checkpoint based. WTF?! This is just plain righteous stupid. When you got the next level, this is it. You can’t go back and try different things, different paths. For me, as a completionist, this is unacceptable. More than once I just stumbled to the next level by opening a door (e.g. Venice) and all my plans in doing different, new things in the level just before vaporized. That nagged on me more than once.

… or the hidden in-game moral level deciding which of the endings you will be offered. You do not get any feedback for some “good” and “right” actions, though I read online, that you get bad points for killing a lot while you get good points for various good deeds. Among these is … wait for it .. squeezing a teddy bear(?!). There’s no feedback on this right within the game for the player. So this is hard to verify.

Another, somehow irritating element: the game has a lot of spoken parts. Now, the voicing is in English with a heavy Russian dialect. This supports the idea, that the game takes place in the Moscow Metro. Without this, only the occasional signs in Cyrillic would give you this idea, since the game world could be likely anywhere else: Paris, New York. However, the people also talk with Russian English among themselves and the longer you think about this, the more awkward this appears. I mean, this dialect is very hard to blend out. It is omnipresent when you listening to the game. And as such it always stresses the fact, that the speaker is not speaking his mother tongue. As a result, it feels like no-one in the game speaks his mother tongue but turns to some clumsy Russian English when they speak among themselves, especially when you are around. Once I got this idea, it festered and then it’s just been super wired walking around people and listening to them. As if I have a big cap phrasing “Foreigner: at least try to speak English” on my head. That became quite silly in the end.

And, yes: it crashed about every half hour.

Summary: Metro Last Light has excellent storytelling, high-quality graphics, and some little nice immersive but fails badly on the details on game mechanics and overall gameplay. For me, the dumb choice on game saves has cost the game 2 points. An additional big minus for the obvious deliberate withhold of game information and playing stats for the player. The rest are minor quirks.

6/10 6 out of 10

Game: Total War: Warhammer

Total War: WarhammerFinished Total War: Warhammer. Played on Linux. Well, “finished” may not be the precise term. I’ve mastered the Grand Campaign with The Empire, The Dwarfs, Bretonnia, Greenskin, Wood Elves, and the Vampire Counts… and this game is awesome! It is the sort of game that gets you hooked on playing “just the next turn”.

The graphics and the sound is nice and captures the Warhammer look & feel known and expected from the tabletop game. Apart from some minor glitches (e.g. having some crashes) and some wired idiosyncrasies (e.g. navigating armies across the sea is not calculated by the pathfinding algorithm, need to “exchange” troops to be sure the same army is in the attack range of the other, …) the game plays very smoothly. Each faction has their unique playing style, and some are harder than others. However, each has its own pros and cons.

Ok: micro-management of cities and overall gameplay could be more complex in the campaign part. Yet it does not stand in your way. One will also find some optimization here in there in the player navigation on the menus when one really wants to find something, e.g. more than once I found myself typing escape to abort a hero’s action, only to be confronted with the “Exit Game” dialog, huh?

Ah, yes and the stupid implementation of probabilities! The game tells you that your hero has a success chance of X%. Well, the game did already role the dice on that one and only shows you this number it had before(!). It took me a while to figure that out. I read that this is to prevent Quick-Save – Quick-Load series until your hero succeeds. … which turned out in a Quick-Save – Quick-Load if the hero fails to save the money spent. Errm, this is not how math works, does it?

But still: a must-have for strategy fans, a feast on tactics.

9/10 9 out of 10 (for the glitches).

Game: Darkest Dungeon

Darkest DungeonFinished Darkest Dungeon. All played on Linux.

Darkest Dungeon is a Grinding Galore. Heros are sprawling into your little hamlet, which you should improve over time. With these heroes, you try to overcome the evil which is housing in five different areas. Little by little your heroes improve and level up.

What sets Darkest Dungeon apart is, that although your heroes are leveling up, your heroes are sure to die and you must never get emotionally related to them. They are exchangeable.

Additionally, your heroes do not only have a life bar representing the life of each hero, but also a stress counter. Certain actions in the game provide stress for your characters and when this bar hits 100 points, your heroes get an affliction. At 200 they die of a heart attack. Yet, if they survive they sure are getting some quirks which debuff (or positive quirks also buff) your hero. Luckily in the hamlet, you can relax your heroes and cure them of negative quirks.

But also on the highest character level, the bosses are too powerful and will party wipe. This after hours of training these characters in several dungeons.

If you want to really finish the game, you likely need 100 hours or more grinding and leveling up your characters. And this is, quite frankly, not my type of game then anymore. It would be nicer if they would have introduced more levels and difficulties for extra hardcore grinding players. But though three difficulty levels are given, they do not vary much.

Graphics is comic-like nice and the programming is pretty flawless.

7/10, 7 out of 10, because of the unnerving grinding focus.

Game: Chaos on Deponia

Borderlands 2Finished “Chaos on Deponia”. Played on Linux.

This is the second instance in the Deponia series. It brings back the “Deponia” experience playing Rufus again, the notorious, infantile boaster. And you meet the characters of the first episode again, like Goal.

Though, I have to admit, that this game feels like the developers wanted to spin the story further of Rufus been in love with Goal, fighting his rival Cletus, getting to Elysium and saving the planet… but run out of ideas. The riddles are abstruse (e.g. the music in the dark alley) and sometimes just weird (e.g. the baby dolphins). Quite often you (at least me) have to resort to trial and error. Hints are super subtle.

The main character, Rufus, is a charm, and the humor is there. But, uhm, I think the one word which sums it all up is “awkward”.

A big minus for the riddles but still a big plus for the setting and the protagonist: Rufus at Deponia.

7/10.
7 out of 10