Thoughts on: The Witness and Samorost 3

[Russian version] 

It might seem strange for me to pair these two quite different adventure/exploration/puzzle games into one post, but there’s a good reason for that, I feel. That is, apart from me playing them one after the other and not feeling like making separate posts. They’re both beautiful but flawed games. Flawed at the execution of the key ideas they aim to shine at.

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Thoughts on: Technobabylon and Shardlight

[Russian version] 

Wadjet Eye Games has become somewhat of go to publisher/developer for story-driven point and click adventure games resurgence. With both their own developed games, and games they produce and publish they’ve shown how the seemingly outdated low res pixelated point and click adventuring can tell stories better than some of the high budget newest technology based titles. The quality of the games they publish is also mostly consistent and to this day I only missed a few projects due to rather mediocre reviews of those. Technobabylon was a game I heard good things about, while Shardlight reviews seemed a bit lower, yet still praised the game, so I was quite interested in checking both projects for a while now. Let’s see what Wadjet Eye Games helped build this time.

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Thoughts on: NieR: Automata

[Russian version] 

I’ve been interested in Yoko Taro’s work for a while… despite not actually finishing any of his games until now. I gave Drakengard an honest try a while ago and the gameplay felt a bit too rubbish, so I didn’t get to experience the amazing concept of constantly updating story as you unlock more and more story paths after you finish the game once. I gave NieR an honest try, but didn’t have time or desire to finish it because, as a game, it felt pretty boring. So I didn’t get to experience the amazing concept of the story of the whole game being pretty much turned upside down on the second playthrough, just on the basis of you now understanding the opposite side of the conflict. But I read it all, watched it all. Because it felt like something not a lot of games try to do. A different approach to storytelling, lack of fear in exploring risky topics or «boring» the player.

So, without trying to downplay the work of Cavia or (for Drakengard 3) Access Games, I’m incredibly happy that PlatinumGames were selected to partner with Yoko Taro to work on NieR: Automata. I cannot think of a better choice of developer.

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Thoughts on: Dark Souls III: The Ringed City

[Russian version] 

When i reviewed Dark Souls III (sorry, it was Russian-only) a year ago, I described it as a best of compilation of everything that worked in all «Souls» games, aimed at creating the best possible adventure in a dark interesting world. Which suffered from being a compilation, however, at not really feeling that interesting or defined in terms of it’s own voice. And not really feeling like a new interesting chapter in the strange world created back in Dark Souls 1. So me, along with many others, hoped that DLCs will fix this issue and bring a very interesting story, expand on fantastic ideas of the game world and bring closure to the series.

The first DLC didn’t really do that. So how about the second one?

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Thoughts on: Dragon Age: Inquisition

[Russian version] 

You know that feel when you’ve invested yourself in a story that has multiple parts and then the newest one comes out and everything points out that it’s going to be terrible, but you feel like you have to check it out anyway? Dragon Age: Inquisition is a bit like that.

Dragon Age: Origins, and a much better Awakening, were games that I enjoyed, but at the same time found rather boring. They’re attempts at being tactical didn’t feel like classic Infinity Engine RPGs, and were more like Neverwinter Nights aRPG-ish boring fights. But the game had a really good world, a lot of interesting characters and stories. Even the usual framework BioWare story about visiting different places to get allies and then fight some great evil had some curious changes to it, that made it so much better. Dragon Age 2 had extremely simplistic, but very cool to look at and experience combat, a lot of copypasted locations and some other issues. But at the same time was a fantastic story with very memorable characters, being, probably, the best story BioWare ever made.

You’d think Dragon Age: Inquisition will be the combination of the best elements of the above. A game that will finally make Dragon Age as good as it always deserved to be. You’d think.

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Thoughts on: Night in the Woods

[Russian version] 

When the Night in the Woods Kickstarter popped up back in 2013, I backed it immediately. Without even fully understanding what the game is going to be like. I always admired projects Alec Holowka was involved in, and this one seemed to be another one I shouldn’t miss. And as the time went by, I still never really knew what the game would be. After completing the game a few times I finally understand why that was — it’s really not about how it plays and all about what it tells and how it does it.

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Thoughts on: Dear Esther. Landmark Edition

[Russian version] 

By now, there’s not much to add on Dear Esther, really. Cleverly named «Landmark edition» already casually mentions how important the original mod and 2012 commercial release were in showing that games can be all about story and still find an audience. The main goal of this particular re-release, really, was to just make sure bigger audience can experience the game, since the original Source remake couldn’t work on consoles and additionally locked the developers into specific legal restrictions. So let’s quickly check what’s been changed.

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Thoughts on: Rise of the Tomb Raider

[Russian version] 

Tomb Raider used to be one of the biggest most important, most influential franchises. Then it started becoming stale, although, to be fair, with strong, refined games like The Last Revelations. So it got updated. Unsuccessfully. I feel like the fear of creating another Angel of Darkness still clings to the series with every next part that tries to change things. Maybe that’s why Rise of the Tomb Raider tried to avoid the change at all costs?

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Thoughts on: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

[Russian version] 

Anyone who’s known me for a while knows that Resident Evil is one of my absolute favorite game series. I’ve played most of the games that were ever released, excluding some rare terrible ones, like Game.com version of RE2, or a mobile port of RE4. And I like the vast majority of them, even if they’re not very good games. That said, I’m also always the harshest critic, wishing these games to be the very best they can be. And lately the series weren’t feeling all that well, with me liking a lot of parts of Resident Evil 6 despite the fact that it’s a pretty bad game, or wanting to love Revelations sub-series, even when they made one mistake after another.

Yet, Capcom released Remasters of 2 Gamecube classics and were promising to truly review their stance on what the next main entry in the series would be. With each new interview, each video, playable teaser-demo I was becoming more and more hopeful that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (or, in Japan, Biohazard 7: Resident Evil) will be great. A true return to form and yet some new direction for the series. Were my hopes in vain?

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Thoughts on: Quantum Break

[Russian version] 

Remedy Entertainment are well known for their cinematic action titles. But ever since Max Payne was released almost 16 years ago, they could never really recapture the fantastic balance between the amazing cinematic storytelling and fun gameplay that went so well in their classic. Max Payne 2 felt a bit too boring to play, Alan Wake was really boring to play with it’s spin-off semi-sequel being slightly more fun. So, where does this leave Quantum Break?

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