New Blog Post – When Good Games Go Long

divinity

Just a few weeks ago I finally laid waste to the Void Dragon and completed Divinity: Original Sin. It’s a phenomenal tactical RPG that modernizes the genre while still retaining all the best parts that make those epic computer role-playing games so memorable.

It’s also incredibly long.

My playthrough took me almost 90 hours – that’s three solid months of giving it as much attention as I can while still playing online games with buddies and reviewing and writing about new games.

I also purchased Bravely Default in late July as a little birthday present to myself. I hadn’t really played a major 3DS game since I beat Fire Emblem in April (not counting Shovel Knight) and was looking forward to this well-regarded JRPG to tide me over till Super Smash Bros released in early October.

After two months I hit the 50 hour mark and completed chapter four….of eight. Literally at that point some kind of dimensional rift takes place, and our heroes are thrown back into the world where they have to do everything all over again. I stared at the game for a long time at that point.

Read the full post on my gaming blog on Game Informer >>

Shadowgate Postmortem Developer Interview

shadowgate

Shadowgate was one of many Kickstarter projects I helped support back in the initial crowd-funding explosion in gaming two years ago. While many projects were promised and created on an intoxicating nostalgia-laced aroma, I’m happy to report that two years later, Shadowgate not only successfully released but is a damn fine remake worthy of its name. It helps when you have the original developers that are just as passionate about remaking their classic for both new fans and rosy-eyed veterans.

Karl Roelofs is the Design Director at Zojoi, and along with fellow Zojoi cohort Dave Marsh helped create the popular first-person puzzle adventure game, Shadowgate, back in the late 80s. “If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, we would have never been able to re-imagine Shadowgate,” Karl says, “I am very grateful to the innovation of crowd-funding and the particular focus on retro gaming.”

Read the full interview at Leviathyn >>

Gotham – “Viper” Recap and Review

Gordon and Bullock search for the source of a new street drug that causes euphoria then death. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot works his way deeper into Maroni’s inner circle and Fish Mooney continues to plot against Falcone.

gotham cop meeting

Gotham finally succeeds in drawing Bruce Wayne into its own plot threads instead of leaving him to make noble reactionary faces at newscasts (well, he still does that here too). The title of the episode, “Viper,” is also the name of a dangerous new street drug that’s suddenly flooded the market and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – is killing anyone that takes it. It’s like the plot of Max Payne only instead of seeing Viking angels the user temporarily gains Hulk-like strength before their bones collapse.

We begin with what is already an overused scene in Gotham – Alfred walking in on Bruce Wayne doing something crazy. Alfred attempts to placate what he naturally sees as obsession with crime and politics, but Bruce remains steadfast in his thirst for knowledge and information, which Alfred begins to grudgingly respect.

It appears this is not the same young master Bruce that was an angsty young man in Batman Begins; Gotham’s Bruce is already past the self-pitying stage and well onto the path of superhero in training. I haven’t decided if I’m annoyed by his quick composure or relieved that we don’t have to see a mopey young Batman every episode. Either way, he’s smart enough to be asking the right questions about Arkham from last episode, and eventually wins Alfred over to help him.

Read the full recap and Review at Leviathyn >>

Legend of Grimrock 2 – Ten Tips for New (& Returning) Players

legend of grimrock 2

Like the first Legend of Grimrock, the sequel is filled with brutally difficult puzzles, harrowing monster battles and cruel traps. It’s also incredibly fun.

While individual puzzles and walkthroughs can be combed through via wikis, forums and guides, these tips are more generalized and spoiler-free. Knowing is more than half the battle in Legend of Grimrock 2, and even veterans of the first game will find lots of useful new information and tactics to utilize while adventure on the island of Nex.

 

1) Create a balanced party of specialists. There are only so many weapons and armor on the island, it would be supremely difficult to outfit four warriors, especially in the early game. Instead diversify your party as much as possible to cover different skills and different weapon styles. You’ll also want at least two frontline fighters to wear the majority of any found armor and take the majority of the hits. I suggest at least one Heavy Weapons and one Light Weapons user.

2) Alchemy may be the most important skill in the game. You don’t necessarily need an Alchemist (though I’d highly recommend it if you want to wield firearms) but do invested in the alchemy skill. Unlike the first game you do not need an empty flask to make a potion, only the proper herbs. And the island is chock full of them just lying around. At 4th level you can brew Greater Healing and Energy Potions, the former which also heals injuries, and several new potion types are introduced that require high levels of alchemy, like Potions of Resurrection and even the ability to brew permanent attribute boosters. Alchemy is amazing.

3) Either max the Firearms skill or ignore them. Even with an Alchemist firearms malfunction at an annoying degree, essentially removing them from the current combat encounter. The firearms themselves are rare and fairly powerful, and though ammo is decently plentiful you do not recover them like arrows and quarrels. If you’re firing your gun as often as possible, you will quickly run out of pellets, so invest in a backup weapon skill.

Read all ten tips at Leviathyn >>

Legend of Grimrock 2 Review

legend of grimrock 2 review

When Blizzard approached the sequel to seminal Action-RPG Diablo, they expanded the gameplay beyond a single large dungeon-crawl into the deserts, jungles and forests of the larger world. Almost Human utilizes a similar design philosophy in creating the sequel to 2012′s Legend of Grimrock, a modernized but still old-school at heart first-person grid-based RPG.

Legend of Grimrock 2 still begins with a four person party of prisoners, only instead of being cast into a hellish dungeon, your ship crash lands into the mysterious island of Nex, home to a robed figure known as the Island Master, as well as a host of monsters and Grimrock’s intriguing brand of devious puzzles.

Many of the core gameplay mechanics remain the same from the original. You navigate the world one square at a time picking up items and weapons, searching for secret buttons and treasure chests and solving a myriad of puzzles. All the denizens of the island, including lots of new foes as well as some familiar faces (yes those terrifying spiders are back, and there’s a dungeon full of ‘em) follow the same square moving rules, and your approach to the ‘square dancing’ method of combat as either an important part of the gameplay or exploitative will still likely determine your overall enjoyment of the combat.

Read the full Review at Leviathyn >>

Gotham – “Arkham” Recap and Review

As a contentious city council vote on the future of the Arkham district approaches, politicians from both sides are in danger. Gordon and Bullock must race to protect the council and an old friend visits Gordon.

gotham mayor arkham

Gotham has been teasing us with Arkham Asylum for the last three episodes, and this week finally puts the infamous insane asylum in focus. Sort of.

The old abandoned Arkham Asylum is at the center of a turf war between the two biggest mobsters in town – Falcone and Maroni, and the two will do whatever it takes to grab a bigger piece of the pie. It feels like the series has been somewhat building to this mob war, but it really just amounts to a single assassin taking out a few councilmen and going after the mayor. While the main killings and subsequent investigations are underwhelming, the political maneuvering behind them are somewhat interesting, and once again it’s the side stories that really lift this episode up.

“Arkham” picks up right where last week’s left off, with Oswald Cobblepot paying a friendly visit to a very shocked Jim Gordon at his own home. Oswald puts on his now familiar disarmingly friendly guise and Barbara’s equal friendliness is a funny contrast to Gordon’s complete inept to deal with the situation, until he leads Oswald outside and practically assaults him in the streets. “I should’ve killed you. I should put a bullet in your head right now!” Gordon’s rage is something we haven’t seen much of and I definitely like this side of him while he’s young and brash.

“There is a war coming, Jim,” Oswald exclaims before dropping more hints about Arkham. Oswald wants to play every angle he can, and what better way to upset the natural balance of mobsters vying for power than the one honest cop in Gotham?

Read the full Review at Leviathyn >>

Final Thoughts – The Swapper

I’ve finished another backlogged game from the excellent Humble Indie Bundle I purchased earlier this year thanks to Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

the swapper cover

Rogue’s Adventures has introduced me to a lot of non-violent puzzle games, especially in the last year – Antichamber, Fez, Portal, etc. The Swapper is absolutely the best of the bunch (yes, I enjoyed it more than Portal, I generally prefer 2D to 3D with my puzzle games) and is also one of the few games with a foreboding sci-fi horror theme that is never actually reaches heightened stages of horror. A friend of mine put it succinctly: It’s like the first 15 minutes of a sci-fi horror film where we’re delving into the danger before *** hits the fan, extrapolated over a five hour game.

To me that pervading sense of dread and curiosity without having to feel scared of zombies or aliens jumping out at me is a huge plus, and something I rarely get to experience in games. I really don’t do horror games and The Swapper’s emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration while still maintaining its creepy atmosphere of What Went Wrong was wonderful to experience.

 

Read the full Final Thoughts over on Game Informer >>