Comprehensive Game Reviews
Comprehensive Game Reviews
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From AAA titles to indie games, we cover it all. Our comprehensive reviews provide detailed insights to help you find your next favorite game.
Horizon Forbidden West PC Performance Review
Horizon Forbidden West PC Performance ReviewHorizon Forbidden West PC Performance Review – PC vs PS5 vs PS4 vs Steam Deck
IGN ArticlesApr 20
Review: Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files Is Fine
Review: Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files Is Fine The Touch Detective series and its Funghi mascot ended up becoming something of a phenomenon in Japan, with three mainline games , spin-offs , and all sorts of merchandise. However, only the first entry and Touch Detective 2 ½ ended up localized. Touch Detective Rising 3: Does Funghi Dream of Bananas only showed up on the 3DS in Japan. With Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files, Nicalis picked up and brought the collection to the west and, while it’s great for the sake of preservation, it doesn’t feel like the best versions of the games. For those who are unfamiliar with Touch Detective , it is a point-and-click adventure series about a young detective named Mackenzie. She’s known as the touch detective due to her chronicling her thoughts on touching various objects as you go through her cases. (Also, it was just a clever name in the DS era, given you’d use the stylus and touch screen to play.) Her goal is to follow in her father’s footsteps. The world she inhabits is gothic and fantastical, and the various cases and criminals can be fantastical and even absurd. Her friend Penelope often starts things by reporting things like dreams being stolen, a missing ice fairy, colored noodles being stolen, bananas being stolen, or missing raffle tickets. Touch Detective 3 continues this trend, starting with a banana theft that ties into a more widespread crime spree. It also continues the trend of new rivals or major players being introduced, with fellow young detective Norman Touche joining as her rival.  Image via Nicalis The fun thing about Touch Detective 3 and the other games in the Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files collection is how whimsical they are. The stories are lighthearted and goofy, but feel like they’re handled well and not too silly due to the setting. This also means that there can be more farfetched solutions, because it makes sense when you consider the in-game logic applied to them. The pacing is really great for every case in every installment. Also, even if the initial set up seems a little familiar, such as the colored noodle theft being present in Touch Detective 2 1/2 and banana theft in 3 , what follows typically is new and fresh enough to make the experience feel worthwhile.  Also, it’s a great value for the money. If you’re willing to go with just carts from the DS release, you might be able to get the first two games for about $40. But we’ve never seen the third entry in English before, so that’s a pretty big deal and great incentive. Not to mention having it on the Switch makes it much more accessible. A wider audience could pick it up and play. Image via Nicalis The downside is, Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files is not optimized for the Switch. You can’t move Mackenzie with the analog stick and press an action button to have her investigate her surroundings, interact with people, or explore new areas. The analog stick controls a mouse cursor, which you must move around the screen to highlight areas and press an action button to take action. (You can also tap on the touch screen.) Considering the work going into the title, it feels like it would have been a more accessible option. Visually, it feels like there’s little to no remastering done with the games as well. Character models and backgrounds look awkward, dated, and jagged. Especially when the new UI elements pop up. The entire game is in a windowed mode as well, to match the past resolution, which isn’t too bad. I just wish a little more care had been put into tidying it up.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2zAGxKQMUI&ab_channel=Nicalis%2CInc. I do like the extras that were included as bonus features. There are past comic strips, which are localized for this release. There’s a lot of character concept art, which I really appreciated given how detailed and interesting the character designs are. It’s a great way to better appreciate the gothic-cute direction of the game and its locations, as well as maybe catch elements that might not have been as clear due to the handling of the Switch port. Touch Detective 3 is a missing piece of a puzzle that is just as delightful as the previous two games, and it’s great to have the full collection of all three games easily accessible on the Switch as Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files . There is a downside to the release, however. The port doesn’t feel optimized for the console, both when it comes to its graphics and the control scheme.  Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files is available on the Nintendo Switch. The post Review: Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files Is Fine appeared first on Siliconera .
Reviews Archives - SiliconeraApr 18
Review: Rose & Camellia Collection Earnestly Approaches a Silly Premise
Review: Rose & Camellia Collection Earnestly Approaches a Silly Premise Years and years ago, when you could still play Flash games on the internet, the Rose & Camellia series ended up becoming an icon. Nigoro turned Victorian-era slapping into a very serious and dramatic sport. Now, with help from WayForward and Limited Run Games, this series is further saved from extinction via the Rose & Camellia Collection for the Switch. It’s exactly what a fan might want, though the control options might not always be ideal. Rose & Camellia Collection features five games. The four Rose & Camellia collections are power struggles among women within or tied to the Tsubakikoji family. Players’ protagonists attempt to prove themselves by taking down the other members. So Reiko is fighting to become the matriarch in the first game. Saori, her sister in law, strikes back in the sequel and attempts to dethrone Reiko. Rose & Camellia vs. La-Mulana features Mulbruk slapping other female characters from the series to become the heroine. Note that the Rose & Camellia vs The House in Fata Morgana isn’t present here, though.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGrKUi11ZHg&ab_channel=WayForward Basically, Rose & Camellia Collection is a compilation of boxing-style, gimmick games that actually had a lot of care and effort put into them. In each entry, your avatar will be pitted against an opponent. Your viewpoint is from behind them, with an over-the-shoulder look at the person in desperate need of a good slap. Each character has a certain number of health points, indicated by flowers. Attacks whittle them down, though there are also on-screen visual indicators of how well your enemy is doing. (They also have tells that let you know if they are about to actually hit you.) You take turns slapping each other, until one person’s health runs out. So, as for those controls. Basically, the input options pay tribute to the fact that the original Flash game involved swiping with your mouse across the screen to slap or dodge. So, you have two options here. If your system isn’t docked or you are going through one of the campaigns, it defaults to the touch screen controls. You either swipe left or right in order to slap an opponent or dodge an attack. If you are docked or choose versus, I’ve found it defaults to motion controls. In that case, you hold the A button and flick your wrist to slap or hold the L or R trigger and flick to dodge.  Image via WayForward and Nigoro The issue is, the five games eventually end up demanding perfection. You only start with Rose & Camellia , the versus mode with characters like Reiko and Saori available, and Rose & Camellia vs La-Mulana if you tick the box in options. Gaining access to more games and characters means you actually need to slap everybody and live to tell the tale. Foes that appear later in campaigns are more difficult! If you aren’t precise and exactly dodging or hitting them, you’ll lose! Which means you don’t unlock more characters and games!  So honestly, I feel like the lack of a more conventional control scheme as a third option does Rose & Camellia Collection a disservice on the Switch. Especially since there isn’t also a calibration options in the settings so you can better adjust inputs to ensure improved accuracy. It left me concerned that some people might not take a chance on it or make the most of the games. I do appreciate the “equal HP” option in the settings, however. Also, though it doesn’t tell you it is saving, once you unlock an opponent in one of the campaigns, you can then resume that story from that fight.  Image via WayForward and Nigoro Especially since this is such a gorgeous package. Nigoro really did a lovely job with the Rose & Camellia games originally, and this new edition with WayForward’s assistance really helps. The voice acting is great. The translations for all of the games, including the new-to-the-west Rose & Camellia 3 and 4 , are so well done and often hilarious. The details for character designs, especially as you get further into the fights, are great. The music is lovely. It’s a complete package. Rose & Camellia Collection is one of those collections of gimmick games that are way better than they have any right to be. There are some downsides to it, such as only offering touch or motion control scheme options and locking games behind the completion of other titles. It is incredibly silly though, and quite a fun title to play alone or with friends.  Rose & Camellia Collection is available on the Nintendo Switch.  The post Review: Rose & Camellia Collection Earnestly Approaches a Silly Premise appeared first on Siliconera .
Reviews Archives - SiliconeraApr 17
Children of the Sun Review - Spot On
Children of the Sun Review - Spot On<p><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/9d614eb8/children_of_the_sun_1.jpg" width="800" height="450" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-body-default" /></p> Reviewed on: PC Platform: PC Publisher: Devolver Digital Developer: René Rother <p>Children of the Sun is hellbent on occupying your mind. During the six hours it took me to hit credits, I was engrossed in mastering its simple, yet wonderfully executed central mechanic. At first, taking down dozens of cultists with just one bullet was a fun gimmick to tinker with. As time passed, I became obsessed with pushing the tools at my disposal to their limits, repeatedly using people as target practice until I had concocted a satisfactory murder plan.</p> <p>Introduced as a puzzle shooter, Children of the Sun has you incarnating a young woman who lost her family after getting involved with the eerie namesake cult. Using just one bullet of your sniper rifle, you plunge through over 20 levels by connecting kills until you take everybody down in one swift sequence. As you make progress, the foundation gains complexity with special foes that require different strategies, as well as a handful of abilities around the bullet itself.</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" frameBorder="0" allow="autoplay" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qmcZSftDvoA" width="640"></iframe> <p>It's easy to see the influences from the likes of Killer7, Sniper Elite, and the latter Hitman games. But there are echoes of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective as well, infusing inanimate objects with a paranormal force to interact with the environment, and people's bodies, to your advantage.</p> <p>At the start of a level, you only get a narrow view of the whole map, so to speak. Ideally, you want to tag every single cultist before pulling the trigger, so you can plan ahead of time – similar to scanning a room in Hotline Miami before kicking down the door. More often than not, you first need to kill a few of them just to tag others or get a better view at the far end of an area. It makes for a compelling exploratory phase that doesn't frustrate but rather encourages you to fail until you've gathered all the visual information you need.</p> <p>Time slows down when you're moving the bullet. It also completely stops once you hit a target. This gives you some breathing room, and a chance to gain a different perspective. You can shoot birds to gain altitude or gas tanks to find an angle that allows you to continue chaining down targets, for example. Yet, you're rewarded via a scoring system for executing a killing with style and aggressiveness. It works as the perfect contrast to the exploratory phase, forcing you to see whether your plan can be executed swiftly or if you need another strategy. There's a leaderboard at the end of each level that incentivizes you to push for this cruel finesse, as well as vague clues for challenges to uncover.</p> <section class='type:slideshow'><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/d89aa990/20240415014326_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/840193f1/20240415153059_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/39b2021b/20240415154444_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/ba7607a0/20240415180902_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/c64079e5/20240415181604_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/5b6836f6/20240412030309_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/eecbeb31/header20240415021921_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/f75e3278/20240412030538_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/ae42dfc0/20240415013134_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/9074e703/20240415020007_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/3d364487/20240415021818_1.jpg'></figure><figure><img src='https://www.gameinformer.com/sites/default/files/styles/body_default/public/2024/04/17/114b2be1/20240415022140_1.jpg'></figure></section> &nbsp; <p>The macabre tone of Children of the Sun pairs well with its human gamification. Shooting an arm gives you 25 points. Shooting a groin rewards 50 points instead. The over-the-top violence turns gratuitous after seeing the words "I Just Killed a Man, Now I'm Horny" before playing a Pac-Man-style minigame during a special level. The abrasive tone never comes off as mere window dressing for the sake of shock value but rather thrives in its repulsiveness.</p> <p>Both the visual and sound design work make for a haunting sensorial stimulation. There were times when I felt underwater, zip-zapping from one corner of an ocean to the next as the bullet pierced head after head, like waves colliding against each other. The effect of a late-game ability, which allows you to increase the speed of a shot, sounds like an electric guitar distorted to the brim with effect pedals.</p> <p>Children of the Sun is a prime example of an experience born from a straightforward premise and then iterated for the right amount of time before it loses its charm. On occasion, the central mechanic can't keep up with itself – I missed more than a few finicky shots that should have landed, forcing a retry. But once you successfully execute a strategy and finish a level, the satisfaction is unmatched. You then seek to replicate the feeling during subsequent hunts, completely alienated from the messiness of your actions as you chase a higher score.</p> Score: 9 About Game Informer's review system Purchase
Game Informer ReviewsApr 17
Review: Biomorph Concept Is Cool, Execution Is Poor
Review: Biomorph Concept Is Cool, Execution Is Poor There are a lot of indie Metroidvanias out there, to the point where it can be hard for any of them to stand out. To solve this problem, Biomorph comes with a unique gimmick: you can transform into most of the creatures you defeat, using their unique abilities to progress. It’s an interesting concept, and it gets put to work relatively quickly. After defeating a grim calcified elk creature, our protagonist absorbs its essence in an animated cutscene. Immediately after, he finds that he can use the creature’s solid hide to charge through some debris and open an exit. You’ll use a few of these, as well as a brutish amalgamation whose punch has similar effects, to escape the opening prologue. How can the protagonist do this? Honestly, he’s not sure. Hi name is Harlo, a cat-like alien who looks like a moody Ratchet with bionic Rayman hands. He wakes up in a strange facility and remembers nothing about how he got there or where he came from. He realizes that a friend is trapped in a cell, attempts a rescue, and ends up exploding out into a wider world. As the game progresses, Harlo seeks to save his friend, recover his memories and help rebuild a derelict village in the process. Screenshot by Siliconera The structure of Biomorph is exactly what you’d expect from any given Metroidvania. Following the prologue, you find yourself in the village of Blightmoor, a run-down port town. From here, Harlo can explore a large world, find new abilities, and then travel down new paths with those abilities. If you’ve played any game in the genre, you know how this works. Biomorph starts strong. Using creature abilities to smash open routes in the opening prologue is a great mechanic, which only opens more possibilities once you’re in the main world. One creature fires a projectile which can be used to activate faraway switches. Another can casually walk on spikes, allowing you access to areas that would otherwise harm you. Later on, you’ll encounter creatures that can slither through tight passages, manifest their own platforms or teleport using dirt patches. While a creature’s ability can initially only be used where you find the creature, absorbing enough unique creatures of that type will grant you access to their form permanently. You can equip up to three of these forms at any given time, allowing you to use their abilities anywhere in the world. It’s a great concept that opens so many possibilities, so it’s real shame that Biomorph does not use it to its full potential. Screenshot by Siliconera Metroidvanias have a well-established progression system at this point. You follow whatever paths you can currently access, find a terminal or an item that grants you a new ability, then find where that ability can be used. Biomorph could have easily shaken this formula up with its core mechanic. The idea that you have to go hunting for creatures to gain new abilities would have put a great spin on the entire genre. Problem is, I found myself rarely using creature abilities outside the areas they were found in. Instead, gaining new abilities that opened wider paths was just the standard Metroidvania progression. You find weird capsules, they give Harlo an ability, you move on. It was honestly a huge disappointment, especially after the game’s strong start. There was even an area teased in the prologue that couldn’t be accessed because it was covered in spikes. I returned later with the creature that could get past this, gained an item and thought this would be how things went for the whole game. However, moments like these were few and far between and I could probably count on one hand how many times I reached into my bag and pulled out a creature ability as the world got more expansive. Screenshot by Siliconera Speaking of the world being expansive, this is where another of Biomorph ’s other main problems arose. Harlo is slow, but the world is vast. There are little to no movement mechanics to speak of, making traversal a tedious slog of holding right and occasionally jumping. The problem is, this is a Metroidvania, so not only is there a lot of traversal, there is also a lot of backtracking, so you get to slog back through those huge areas repeatedly. This also creates a problem about halfway through the game, where a vast expanse becomes open to you, with every area offering at least four ways to go. Which in turn offer another three ways to go, and so on. It becomes a vast maze of expansive maps that take too long to navigate, leaving you lost. Navigation also goes out the window, as the game throws quest markers at you, but any attempt to follow them is quickly defeated by routes that turn back on themselves. Not just in the sense of routes changing direction, but actively teleporting you to a different part of the map, nowhere near where you thought you were heading. It made exploration annoying, as nothing in the world lined up in the way I’d expect it to. Heading towards somewhere I thought would be interesting ended up with me being thrown off course entirely at every turn. It led progression to feel aimless and random. Screenshot by Siliconera Biomorph starts so strong in its opening few hours. Some solid mechanics and a unique gimmick, along with some well-designed opening areas, made those initial hours a lot of fun. The visual style is also great, with the occasional animated cutscene adding a ton of vibrance to the presentation. I even like the NPCs you encounter throughout the world, with all their weird designs and unique motivations. But Biomorph rapidly loses momentum after a certain point and it’s a real shame. I wanted to like Biomorph more than I did. Despite good visuals and a strong start, it eventually neglects its most interesting mechanic and becomes tedious. In the end, despite its best efforts, it ends up being just an average attempt at an already crowded genre. Biomorph is out now for PC. A console version is in development. The post Review: Biomorph Concept Is Cool, Execution Is Poor appeared first on Siliconera .
Reviews Archives - SiliconeraApr 16
Review: Life Eater
Review: Life Eater If an unseen God threatened to end the world if you didn’t sacrifice someone every year, would you do it? That’s the core concept of Strange Scaffold's Life Eater . Me? I wouldn’t. That sounds like way too much work with very little reward. You’d have to buy tarps, figure out what to do with the bodies, and get creative with establishing alibis. So much preparation, so much work, and for what? No one’s going to thank you. What’s in it for you? Continued existence doesn’t seem like much of a reward. But that’s what video games are for. They allow us to live out situations that we are much to lazy to do in real life. Screenshot by Destructoid Life Eater ( PC [Reviewed]) Developer: Strange Scaffold Publisher: Strange Scaffold, Frosty Pop Released: April 16, 2024 MSRP: $14.9 9 Life Eater has you appeasing the god Zimforth, who will end the world if you don’t do his bidding and sacrifice someone (or someones) every year. You play as a character whose name is deliberately obfuscated, and his sanity is questionable. Is he a tragic hero, a warped sadist, or just some guy who has a strange yearly ritual? Your job is to abduct your targets, and as a bonus, you also need to perform a quiz-based ritual at the end of each level. You’re presented with the timeline of one week, and it’s up to you to uncover ever little detail you can about your target within a limited time. Your target’s schedule is presented as a video editing timeline consisting of blocks of activity. You uncover each activity by performing one of three actions. Each action you take will cost time off the clock, but this amount changes each turn. Some blocks require you to take more invasive actions, which will also raise your suspicion meter. The challenge here is to uncover enough information to fulfill a threshold that will allow you to abduct the target. https://youtu.be/nWFw5uhSfqI?feature=shared This starts off simple, but before long, Life Eater starts requiring you to find your target amongst a small group of them. You need to dig into the details of all the subjects until you find the nugget of information that confirms who your target is. It means you have to learn as much about your target as possible and retain some of that knowledge so you know how best to sacrifice them. That sounds like a pretty evocative experience that delves into the sanctity of privacy, but Life Eater’s gameplay is a bit too simple and distant for that. The timeline feature, and the fact that you don’t really see your targets aside from a shadowed depiction of them, doesn’t entirely connect you with what you’re uncovering. Because of this, these people don’t seem like people. That might be a statement in itself, but what I mean is that it’s hard to see them as beings instead of just a puzzle. It doesn’t feel like there’s someone behind the blocks, so any impact that your task might have on you is dulled. You just find yourself pushing to meet the criteria, and the information you uncover is essentially meaningless. Screenshot by Destructoid It’s further dulled by the fact that, while there are some random elements of each chapter, failing will grant you foresight. If you discover that one of your subjects isn’t the target you’re searching for, on a repeat playthrough, it’s easy to identify them again. If there is one moment on the timeline you’re seeking, it will always be on that same time and day. You’re probably going to fail at some point because the instructions aren’t always clear, and experimentation is necessary. The story that overlaps everything doesn’t really make up for this. It’s mainly about the player character interacting with someone they took captive for reasons aside from sacrifice. It’s a decent story that does a good job of delving into the complicated situation the main character finds themselves in, but since it doesn’t do much worldbuilding, it’s harder to care about the world or the people who inhabit it. The gameplay itself feels somewhat shallow. Or rather, it feels like it doesn’t quite achieve everything it set out to. It seems like there should be more random generation here, but aside from characters and their hair color, I never really saw it manifest. Gameplay often falls to clicking on tiles, finding the actions that take 0.5 hours, and emptying your suspicion gauge when it gets full. It’s short, and despite its incredibly novel concept, it feels extremely routine. Screenshot by Destructoid There’s an endless mode that is coming shortly after launch (I’m told about three weeks), but I don’t think that will address my complaints. The main core narrative needed to be more impactful, but it misses the mark. Life Eater feels like an experiment that neither fizzled nor exploded. All the parts are there, but they don’t fit together quite right. Something is missing, and before that something was located, it was released into the wild as-is. Because it can’t find its effectiveness, the central concept that should be so compelling and disturbing is just kind of fluffy. If an apathetic detachment from ritual sacrifice was what Life Eater was aiming for, then it nailed it. Unfortunately. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] The post Review: Life Eater appeared first on Destructoid .
Reviews Archive – DestructoidApr 16
Harold Halibut Review - Lost In Its Own Deep Sea
Harold Halibut Review - Lost In Its Own Deep SeaHarold Halibut puts you in the shoes of a lowly maintenance worker aboard a spaceship submerged underwater. To the residents aboard the ship, Harold is a rather charming, lovable, even dopey fellow who is endearing for his simplicity and his complacency in doing his job. Harold is tasked with removing graffiti, cleaning, and fixing machines, and when the work is done, his day ends, he goes to sleep, he wakes up--rinse, repeat. That's the surface of Harold, but tucked out of sight from people's view, is a character who is deceivingly introspective, often documenting his life through scribbled images in a notepad, or expressing himself through playful theatrics when he's alone, like singing and performing operatically while mopping up a filter system. This is a side of the character only we, the player, get to see. As a character, Harold is complex, even if he doesn't entirely understand how. He attempts to question and explore his curiosity and his own existence within the confines of a spaceship he was born and raised on, but he's not always capable of understanding exactly what he's looking for. Harold Halibut Harold Halibut, the game, is much like its titular character: It's charming and lovable on the surface for its unique handmade aesthetic and charmingly simple gameplay. But just beneath that uncomplicated layer is a story that attempts to ask questions about introspection and self-worth, even if the game doesn't always feel equipped to answer them or understand its strongest suits. Harold Halibut does an incredible job in exploring its many themes and concepts by putting a magnifying glass on its setting. The FEDORA is a spaceship that was designed to leave Earth during the Cold War and set forth on a 200-year journey to seek a new planet to live on, but the new world it found was devoid of any landmass. With nowhere to go, the FEDORA crashes onto the planet, plunging its occupants into the watery depths, which they've learned to colonize. Meanwhile, Harold's mentor and resident scientist, Mareaux, attempts to find a power source to launch the ship back into space to find a more suitable planet to live on. Continue Reading at GameSpot
GameSpot - Game ReviewsApr 16
Review: Harold Halibut Is a Modern Fable About Connection
Review: Harold Halibut Is a Modern Fable About Connection There are so many things I could say about Harold Halibut that I find it difficult to even start. I could say how the game uses a truly unique art style, which involves a blend of real handcrafted puppets scanned and rendered in 3D along with animation that imitates stop-motion. It's something that has never been done to this scale in the medium. I could also say how Harold Halibut is a story about love and making connections, finding where you belong in the world, and making your own “home.” It is the Cold War, and the Earth is on the brink of destruction. Humanity has sent the ark ship Fedora 1 out into the stars, with the hope of finding another habitable planet and for humankind to continue living. Over 250 years later, the Fedora reaches its destination only to find out that the planet is all made of water, with no inhabitable land and an atmosphere composed of noxious gasses. To make matters worse, the ship crashes on the planet, with no feasible way of relaunching into space. In the present day, all administrative and political matters in the Fedora are handled by the All Water corporation, a bunch of nasty capitalist opportunists with only their own interests in mind. After years of resignation, the inhabitants of the Fedora discover that there might be a chance to return to Earth. However, there is a limited window to relaunch and the trip back would take about 80 years, meaning that most of the current population of the Fedora would never make it home. Screenshot by Siliconera With these events as the backdrop to the plot, you play as the titular Harold Halibut, a lab assistant to scientist professor Jeanne Mareaux. It is his work as aid to the professor and Jack of all trades aboard the ship, as well as his kind demeanor, that puts him in the unique position of giving the Fedorans a chance to return home. Harold can come off as meek and docile, but he's a gentle and patient human being. He's a rather quiet and introspective individual that can show lots of passion and energy under the right circumstances. You can see a lot of his personality in his notebook sketches, and when he plays the part of “Agent Haroldson.” Harold also struggles with making himself be heard and connecting with his peers, at times being easily dismissed by others in a harsh manner. Throughout the course of the game Harold sees himself in situations where he finally has the chance to demonstrate to himself who he wants to be in life. Harold is a truly delightful person. This is not reserved to the titular character. Every character that inhabits the world of the game feels like a fully-fledged individual, with their own lived history and connections. The voice acting helps make them feel even more real. Due to the harsh circumstances, the Fedora 1 is a tight knit community, and the writing does a great job at showing the player how these people are connected to each other. Most characters in the main and supporting cast are also faced with various challenging circumstances in life. As Harold, you get to participate in those small moments and make new connections with the people in the ship. As well as learn new concepts and perspectives from other individuals outside of the Fedora. However, I will not linger on them for too long, as I think this part of the game is best experienced knowing as little as possible. Screenshot by Siliconera When it comes to gameplay, Harold Halibut is an adventure game focused on interacting with the many inhabitants of the Fedora. Most of the time, players will be trotting around the ship to complete the tasks Harold has received, and talking to various people to progress. As for Harold himself, he is not a vehicle for the player. Instead, the player is a vehicle for Harold. Sometimes you get the chance to select dialogue options. However, Harold has a set personality and is his own person at all times. Do not expect an experience like that of Telltale Games, nor a point and click either. There are some puzzle-like moments, but these only serve to add some interaction and break up the pace. The game progresses in a linear fashion, and there are some secondary tasks that are not required to progress the plot. These flesh out existing characters, and I highly recommend completing them. These secondary objectives are usually along the way of main objectives, so they always feel complimentary to the pacing and whatever is happening in the plot. I personally enjoyed that Harold Halibut offers an easy to pick-up and light experience. I could imagine some people wanting a larger number of more complex puzzles, or a more hands-on approach to character interactions, decision making, and impacting the story. However, I don’t think that every video game needs to offer a complex mechanical experience to convey its message and be worthwhile. The layout of the Fedora is interesting enough that jogging around the ship to talk to people and finish your tasks is entertaining enough as is, and with a game as stunningly detailed it makes sense that the gameplay loop is to simple *live* and soak in the environments. Screenshot by Siliconera Screenshot by Siliconera To create the visuals of the game, developer Slow Bros painstakingly hand made every single character as a puppet, plenty of environment as real, physical dioramas, and scanned them to render as a video game. It is evident in the way that the numerous cloth, wood, and metal textures have a certain crisp look to them. The animation style is also deliberately made to look like stop-motion. Just on the basis of its art style and visuals, this game is wonderful and worth playing. The unique visuals remind me a bit of games like Mundaun and Saturnalia (which mix handmade paper sketch textures scanned and rendered in 3D.) However, no studio before has decided to do what Slow Bros did to this scale. Just for reference, the game took over 10 years to finish. The use of music in Harold Halibut is very subtle. Instrumental songs appear for important cutscenes, and are used very deliberately. However, environmental sound effects are what's most prominent in the game, and they're used in interesting ways. The buzzing sound of lights, automatic doors opening and closing, water bubbles, along with the sound of steps are what you’ll be hearing most. You can also hear string instruments playing elongated notes in the background, creating the sensation of being surrounded on all sides. Like being underwater. Screenshot by Siliconera Harold Halibut looks beautiful on the outside, and it is even more beautiful once you dive into it. The visuals are an undeniable technical achievement. Its gameplay is undemanding, making the game accessible for many people, even those who are not familiar with the medium of video games. The story and narrative are easy to follow, and depict a modern fable about finding your own home, connecting with others, sharing your perspective, and finding what you want from life. Harold Halibut will come out on April 16, 2024 for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC via Steam , as well as Xbox Game Pass. The post Review: Harold Halibut Is a Modern Fable About Connection appeared first on Siliconera .
Reviews Archives - SiliconeraApr 15
Harold Halibut Review
Harold Halibut Review
IGN PC ReviewsApr 15
Review: Rise of the Ronin
Review: Rise of the Ronin After spending considerable time hacking and slashing, Rise of the Ronin has made one thing clear to me: Simple is best. Maybe it's not over the top with graphics. And yes, some characters can be pretty one-dimensional, but it makes up for it with its entertaining gameplay and combat. Rise of Ronin happened to land on the same day as the Dragon's Dogma 2 release, and I couldn't help but make some comparisons. While Dragon's Dogma 2's gameplay was incredibly vague with details, Rise of the Ronin steers you in the right direction almost every time. That's not to say that one is better than the other; it's just that sometimes I don't feel like using that extra brain power for one measly mission. I've noticed many recent games avoid user-friendly mechanics, either upping the ante with enemy spawns or flat-out not telling you the next step. For the most part, I understand the reasoning behind it. The pleasures of completing those exigent quests all on your own is what dreams are made of. However, I don't mind a few hints here and there, especially with enormous maps. Rise of the Ronin , fortunately, delivers on that front, giving me a break from the occasional strenuous action RPG. There are no headaches when finding specific objects, nor is there too much concern about quest-related content. Image via Team Ninja Rise of the Ronin (PS5 [reviewed]) Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Sony Released: March 22, 2024 MSRP: $69.99 The story is set in 19th-century Japan when the Black Ships of the West docked on the nation's borders. This caused a state of terror for the region where East and West clashed. As a Ronin, you'll initially choose between two factions: Pro-Shogunate (the government) and Anti-Shogunate, as well as a Western group that comes a bit later. Your choices determine the fate of the war, helping one side over the other. One of the things I truly enjoyed here is that your journey can be shaped based on the missions you choose, in addition to the dialogue choices. Depending on which one you select, you will increase or decrease your loyalty to specific factions. I went with the path of sticking it to "the Man," going against the oppression that originated from the authoritarian government. Whichever path you choose, violence will always follow. There's always some fearsome foe to take down, whether it be for a faction-based boss or saving a helpless citizen on the way to town. Although it can be a bloody mess, Rise of the Ronin's combat is both challenging and fun to master. There are multiple weapons, including swords, dual weapons, guns, shuriken, and many more. It's interesting to see a samurai wield a gun, but that goes to show how diverse the game's weaponry can be. Every weapon offers a different Combat Style to master, providing techniques for almost any player. In particular, the Shinto Munen-ryu utilizes sword strikes with an emphasis on speed, while the Taneda-ryu excels with slower-moving spear attacks. Since there are so many choices with weapons and styles, it didn't take me too long to get the hang of its combat. At first, it can be pretty stiff in movement, but it gradually becomes more fluid and responsive the more techniques and skills you unlock. You'll need to change up your weapons many times, as various enemies will have different weaknesses. This makes it more challenging to get used to unfamiliar tools. But the real fun part is unlocking special attacks and weapon affinities. One of the most satisfying techniques I found was deflecting enemy gunfire, which results in a burning effect on a weapon. It basically makes you OP for a limited time, as you swing around a lightsaber-esque sword. Special attacks are just as fun to initiate, too, since they go beyond a simple thrust of a sword. For instance, the Chi Yagyu Shinkage-ryu style throws pieces of paper to distract the enemy, allowing a rolling attack to ensue. Characters you meet along the way can join you in these fights for the more demanding battles. They make for great allies on the battlefield, taking down any enemy on sight. If you want to switch things up or your character has fallen, you can take control of these party members when applicable. This option was beneficial, considering I could rely on them whenever things went south. Besides the combat, Rise of the Ronin's historical elements are another reason I became so engrossed in the game. It discusses the real-life events that transpired in Japan during 1863 and beyond. Key historical figures, such as Tokugawa Yoshinobu (a Shogun) and Kusaka Genzui (a samurai), are also a part of the story. In return, I learned quite a lot about Japan by the end of it, and the influences the US had during this time. As I mentioned in my early review of the game, I firmly believe history can be taught through video games. It's one thing to read about it in books, and it's entirely different to experience it virtually in video game form. Screenshot by Destructoid At the same time, history can change based on your decisions. Dialogue choices mainly impact the various factions and their influence on the region. If you have a preferred choice of a group, it can be easy to make most decisions. On some occasions, choices can be a tad too easy, frequently leaning toward a general "yes" or "no." It can still be challenging to make, though, when it's a matter of life or death, meaning an ally could die from a crucial decision. While Rise of the Ronin's historical value is its shining aspect, gameplay never takes a backseat. I've spent almost 60 hours in-game, and it never feels like I've reached its end. Every area has side content, making it challenging to stick to one task. One minute, I'm battling a horde of Pro-Shogunate forces, while the next, I'm petting an adorable feline up on a roof. Because the gameplay was so diverse, I never felt quests were a chore. Each region presents more characters to meet, resulting in more side quests. The cast is sort of a hit-or-miss for me since some can have more impactful stories than others. At times, characters can be cut and dry, only needing something from you and never really having much else after. Then, there were moments when I truly enjoyed their company because of some funny joke they said or when having a nice chat. I especially liked conversing with Igashichi Iizuka as he presented new gear to try out for battle and exploration. The helpful tools you earn add more to Rise of the Ronin's user-friendly elements. For example, I initially had trouble spotting enemies at the beginning until a device provided a layout of the land. Mission waypoints are also direct and to the point, which I greatly appreciated. During these explorations, I did notice some wonkiness in Rise of the Ronin's graphics. Shading and coloring can sometimes seem a bit off, but it didn't deter me. There are plenty of stunning environments to admire, from the lush greenery of the forest to the accurate architectural designs. The unlockable emotes make photo mode much more entertaining, setting the scene for a perfect shot. NPCs react to these gestures, too, and I couldn't stop experimenting with each one to see what they would do. The "Woe is me!" emote is a personal favorite, especially if I need to unleash my sorrows after a shameful defeat. Screenshot by Destructoid With Rise of the Ronin , everything you see is what you get, and I like it that way. Too often, I've been caught in the web of a series of intertangled lore, complex mechanics, or overdemanding battles. The various difficulty options are also excellent for any player. I'm not the greatest samurai, so having the easy-to-manage Dawn difficulty made it more inviting as an amateur. Maybe one day, I'll master the art and test the waters with the higher ranks. Whether you are a history nut or an action RPG lover, Rise of the Ronin should be your next choice in a game. You'll have fun dicing up your enemies while learning about Japan's rich culture. It's the perfect combination of the two, and I hope to see more entries like this to dive more into historical content. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] The post Review: Rise of the Ronin appeared first on Destructoid .
Reviews Archive – DestructoidApr 12