Tag Archives: Review

Katawa Shoujo

Review: Katawa Shoujo

A red-headed girl with short hair in a boy's school uniform sits on a table. She has no arms, her sleeves are tied off, and she lifts a forkful of food towards her mouth with her toes.

I blinked back tears, my heart aching in my breast, deeply affected. I opened my post-editor and then I began to write this, dabbing occasionally at my eyes with a tissue.

Katawa Shoujo (translation: “Disability Girl”) is a free, English, Visual Novel game by Four Leaf Studios, which is a collection of talented people scattered around the world. Five years in the making, the game is among the best of its breed, in my opinion.

There are dozens, nay, hundreds of ways this Visual Novel project could have gone awry, turning to mere pap or horribly insensitive trash; instead it is remarkably well thought-out, smart, sensitive, emotional and insightful.

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Bioshock Infinite

Review: Bioshock Infinite

An image of a few of the pieces of the flying city of Columbia, with a statue of Zachary Comstock in the middle

Bioshock Infinite is a story about choices and their consequences, relationships, manipulation, the trousers of time, and how people react to terrible things. It’s also about a finger that is far more significant than it seems.

Bioshock Infinite is equal parts drama, horror, and The Outer Limits, spiced with flashbacks, flashforwards and Disney-Princess moments and littered with foreshadowings for those of you keeping score at home. And then, there’s the other stuff.

All of this is punctuated with violence. Not just any violence, but visceral, gory, ridiculous violence – The Evil Dead (1981) sort of violence, punctuating the story like a series of hand-crafted parodic set-pieces. Jarring, overdone, outré, overly-gamey, and yet, for all my distaste for the intricately-crafted bloodbaths of this single-path shooter, it remains that it is arguably vital to the core of the story.

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Miasmata

Play it now – Miasmata

Alice Liddell with a flamingo and the words "Play it now!"Day four

This-morning, I had climbed a rise to take bearings on some landmarks, to see if I could figure their precise locations. One distant spire (what is it? A lighthouse? One of the primitive statues, perhaps? I do not know) was obscured by some trees, and I took a few steps sideways to try to get a better view.

That was a mistake.

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The Secret World

Seshat and Feldspar visit The Secret World

Two people stand in varying stages of readiness. A man with pistols and a woman holding metal claws. Both are sensibly dressed, in a field in front of a stone church.

In the wake of the release of Funcom’s new subscription-MMOG, The Secret World, my minions, Seshat and Feldspar delve into this new offering in the MMOG market and return with their impressions.

The Secret World drops players into a modern, yet magical world where most of the conspiracy theories are true. As the unexpected recipient of strange, magical energies, players align themselves with one of three vast, secret societies, to further their faction’s interests and thwart or avert whatever the apocalypse du jour may be.

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DayZ Mod

Life expectancy: 28 minutes. The DayZ mod

The idea of the DayZ mod is simple enough. Take Arma 2: Combined Operations (Bohemia Interactive Studio, 2009) with its open-world, ground-pounding, all-weather, military simulation chops and refit it as a persistent world multiplayer zombie survival game.

Set in the mythical Eastern European country of Chernarus (where the primary Arma 2 campaign takes place), each player begins with a water bottle, a pistol, a little ammo, a couple tins of beans, a few medical supplies, a handful of flares, no clue and an average life-expectancy of about 28 minutes.

Map? Compass? How about a wristwatch? You don’t start with them. Unless you’re already familiar with the 225 square kilometres of Chernarus, you’ll be learning as you go. Even if you are, you’ll wish you had a map and a compass. Anything and everything beyond your paltry starting equipment, you’ll have to find.

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Arx Fatalis

A kick in the Arx

arx3

Arx Fatalis (Arkane Studios, 2002) is among my favourite games of the last decade. There are numerous favourable comparisons to make between it and Ultima Underworld (Blue Sky Productions, 1992), mostly because it was intended to be Ultima Underworld 3, but the developers could not obtain an appropriate license for the name.

The game takes place in (or rather under) a fantasy world whose Sun has failed. As the Sun dimmed and the world got colder, various species banded together to build vast, underground complexes, to be their new homes. The truce between races didn’t really last once everyone got settled in, however.

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Jagged Alliance: Back In Action

Play it now – Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

I had Meltdown slip up behind one of the guards, who was kneeling behind a short barricade of sandbags, watching for an external threat. The guard had no time to react when Meltdown shot her twice in the back of the head. I knew there was another guard nearby, and expecting that he might hear the shots, I had Meltdown drop to her belly and slither around the other side of the barricade where she would be out of sight.

As expected, he heard the shots, and dashed out just in time to spot Meltdown before she got behind cover, but not with enough time to aim and fire before she was out of sight.

I expected him to try to circle around, and prepared Meltdown for that, but he didn’t. Instead, he hunkered down partly covered by the trunk of a small tree, aimed his pistol and just waited. Meltdown had nowhere to go, and all he had to do was wait.

While this standoff continued, I instructed Fox to belly-crawl towards him, along the side of a building. There was a low, concrete barrier to the guard’s left, just slightly to his rear. Fox easily slipped into position.

I coordinated the two. Fox would pop up, and fire a shot at the guard, then drop again. As soon as she fired, Meltdown would move up into a crouch and empty her magazine at the guard, who would hopefully have turned towards the new threat, but be denied a target as Fox vanished from his sight.

It worked beautifully. Fox took a shot over the barrier, catching the guard by surprise, and then dropped as he turned towards her. Meltdown popped up at the first shot, aimed and fired three of her own shots, taking him down.

He didn’t stand a chance, and that was just the way I wanted it.

There were other guards, but they were far too far away to have heard the action. I instructed the girls to reload, and began planning their approach towards the next guard post, checking the lay of the terrain, cover and patrol routes.

I was just fifteen minutes into playing Jagged Alliance: Back In Action.

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Play it now – Game Dev Story

Play it now!
Got an Android device handy? Want a cool little management game for just a couple bucks?

Give Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story a whirl. Currently, the game is 40% off to celebrate the release of their newest game, Hot Springs Story.

Game Dev Story is just what it sounds like. A game about developing games.

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Spacechem

Play it now – SpaceChem

Do you remember when I wrote about Gondola? Did you tragically lose a half a day to its rapacious mechanisms?

Well, I nearly didn’t get this piece about SpaceChem written. I didn’t want to stop playing long enough to write it. So be careful, it’ll eat a chunk of your day (or even days) and it’ll eat twenty bucks. You might also be afflicted with high levels of intellectual stimulation and fun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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