enfrdeitptrues

Adventure

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
    Devloped By: TOSE
    Published By: Square Enix
    Release Date: September 2006
    Available on: DS
    ESRB Rating: E
    Single and Multiplayer (2 players)
    Genre: Adventure
    $15 on LeapTrade

    Those of you who have played Dragon Warrior/Quest games will remember that the slimes are the weakest enemies that you encounter in the series. This is the story of a slime named Rocket who saves his village of Boingburg from the evil plob. The story is pretty simple: Rocket and his friends were playing in the palace garden when they stumbled upon the Warrior Flute. They blew on it, which alerted the plob (mob, get it?) of its location and so the plob kidnapped all the inhabitants of the town and decimated it. Armed only with the broken flute, Rocket must now rescue all one hundred villagers and stop the plob.

    After the opening story, you can explore what’s left of your town and chat with the few inhabitants that remain. The church is where you go to save your progress. The story unfolds as you explore the different areas of Slimenia. Each area has a set number of slimes that need to be found and rescued and there’s a boss creature that must be defeated before you can reach the next area. As you rescue slimes you’ll gain access to new areas of the town including a store, museum, and the library.

    Highlights:

    Strengths:A cute and funny game
    Weaknesses:No real time save
    Moral Warnings:Goddess worship, smoking references, cartoon violence.

    Although Rocket is just slime, he's more of a threat than he might first appear. He can carry up to three objects at a time, but if he\'s fully loaded and you find something else you want to carry there are train carts scattered around that you can unload your findings into and send them off to town. In this game you’ll want to collect everything you find. And I mean everything. Monsters, empty treasure chests, boomerangs, arrows, fruit and anything else you can grab. The items you collect can be used for ammo, or you can combine them into more powerful objects using alchemy. 

    Rocket only has one attack move: the elastoblast. He stretches like a rubber band and flings himself at enemies and objects. If an object is flung into the air, Rocket can carry it if he catches it before it hits the ground. If Rocket is hit by an enemy, all the objects he’s carrying are dropped. Rocket starts off with three life hearts but throughout the game you’ll be awarded some and can find others hidden in the town if you carefully explore your surroundings.

    Rocket’s true power lies within the Schleiman Tank which can be summoned by blowing the repaired Warrior Flute. At first you’ll be in charge of collecting and firing the ammo alone. But later, you’ll be able to recruit friends to help you in the battles. Your friends have specific skills like healing the crew, healing the tank, stealing ammo from the enemy, sabotaging the enemy ship, or manning the cannons.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Game Play: 18/20
    Graphics: 9/10
    Sound: 9/10
    Stability: 5/5
    Controls: 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The tank battles are a huge part of this game, and choosing the right kind of ammo is a huge part of winning the battles. You can pick and choose your own ammo or take the advice of your helper. In town, you can create upgrades that boost your tank\'s hitpoints. Sometimes they only cost gold but most of the time, specific objects will be required to upgrade the tank.

    The multiplayer in this game comes in two modes: tank battle and surfing. In surfing mode you have to collect as many coins as possible before the time runs out. Both of these modes can be played using only one game cartridge.

    After you beat the game\'s singleplayer campaign you can keep playing, whether you want to finish collecting monsters, complete some more side quests, or collect extra-powerful ammo for your tank.

    Graphically this game is pretty typical for a Dragon Quest game. Sprites, smiles, and vivid colors. The town and its surrounding areas are very bright and colorful. The enemies are all very unique, including their animations and behaviors. The living statues are quite spooky.

    The enemies have their own unique voices, noises and sound effects too. The music is very pleasant and Dragon-Questy. I was somewhat annoyed that the enemy theme music had an odd loop featuring a person saying/singing “Boom Chicca Pow!”. 

    When it comes to appropriateness issues... where to start. The slimes are not the atheistic globs of muck you might think, as they all worship a goddess of some sort. Holy water and goddess statues are two kinds of ammunition you can use in your tank. The church in town has some catholic references, including a "Mother Gloopierior". The other thing worth mentioning is that the plob father, Don Clawleone, smokes a cigar in a cut scene. The violence in this game is very cartoony and most of it is directed toward enemy tanks. 

    This is an older game so the price is relatively low on Amazon, but it may be hard to find at local retail stores. If you or your kids have a DS and enjoy Dragon Quest games I highly recommend this title, but keep the moral warnings in mind if you plan to buy it.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Dying Reborn
    Developed by: Nekcom
    Published by: Oasis Games
    Release date: February 28, 2017
    Available on PS4, Vita
    Genre: Horror
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for blood, violence, language
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Oasis Games for sending us this title to review!

    Dying Reborn is playable with or without VR on the PS4 and can be experienced on the go with the Vita. Each version is priced differently and does not support crossplay. The PS4 and Vita versions have six chapters while the PSVR one has only three. The PSVR version has a Teen rating while the other two are rated Mature. There isn’t much of a story other than your poorly voice acted character named Matthew is looking for his sister, Shirley. After receiving a letter from her asking for help he finds himself trapped in a room with a killer headache.

    There are three escape room scenarios in the PSVR version with the first one requiring you to figure out how to leave your room/cell. The creepy atmosphere is done really well with dirty clothes and cockroaches on the floor, faded pictures and paintings on the wall, and the total absence of bright colors. By exploring your surroundings, you’ll find items like coins, keys, torn pieces of paper, and broken tools that can be used to open up stuck drawers and locked doors for even more clues.

    Dying Reborn
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: It definitely sets the tone for a horror game
    Weak Points: Short game that isn’t very fun; poor quality voice acting; mediocre visuals
    Moral Warnings: Some language (hell, d*mn, *sshole); creepy atmosphere with body organs laying around

    Like any good adventure game, you’ll have to figure out various safe combinations and play a song (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) on a miniature piano. Some of the combinations were easier to figure out than others and I’m grateful for the various YouTube videos and written walkthroughs available online.

    If you’re good at solving the riddles or following guides, you can complete this game in an hour or less. The story isn’t that great and upon completing this game I was left with more questions than answers. Other versions of the game have six sections so perhaps they flesh out the story better than the PSVR one.

    Though the environment sets the stage, the game falls apart everywhere else. While exploring the rooms, I can’t help but feel like I’m a giant with the mixed sized proportions of the objects and doors. Finding items to take and interact with is easy to do and the interface works well enough. I did notice some incomplete puzzles since the PSVR version is a bit different than its counterparts.

    Dying Reborn
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 56%
    Gameplay - 8/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 4/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Throughout the game the “guides” will communicate with Matthew via TV or radio. Their voice acting jobs are decent enough, but the main character’s lines are emotionless. Even the cussing isn’t very believable. The background music and loading music are drastically different and don’t mesh together very well.

    Like many horror games, the purpose is to scare you. There are some weird and loud noises, bugs, mold, and grime everywhere. I don’t recall much blood, but there is a human heart that you have to interact with.

    If you like adventure or survival/horror games, Dying Reborn may be worth checking out on a sale. For better story cohesion, I recommend getting the fuller and longer experience instead of the sliced and diced PSVR version. The regular version of the game is double the price, but I have seen it on sale for $8.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Enola
    Developed by: The Domaginarium
    Published by: The Domaginarium
    Release date: September 18, 2014
    Available on: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Adventure, Survival/Horror
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Advertising disclosure* Though Black Shell Media is a former advertising partner, this review is not influenced by that relationship.

    Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us this game to review!

    In Enola, you play as a female, who goes by the same name, and is searching for her missing lover, Angelica. There is much about Angelica that Enola isn’t aware of, and in order to get to know her better, she must enter into her world of twisted memories and recollections of a horrible night, where she was sexually abused. Between the group rape and a dysfunctional family life, Angelica is quite broken. Can Enola free her from her painful past? The decisions she makes will affect the ending after ten or less hours of gameplay.

    Like many point and click adventure games, there are plenty of items to collect and puzzles to solve. Some of the puzzles are easier to figure out than others. In order to solve some of them you’ll have to read every note and letter that you can find. Unfortunately, the controls are not very intuitive and activating objects like doors and items takes multiple attempts. This isn’t good when you have a murderer that you cannot defeat quickly closing in on you. The save system isn’t ideal either. There are only a handful of save slots, and you can only save at music boxes, which are limited to a few per level. The ability to quick save would have been very welcome, since the distance between these save spots can be vast and between numerous puzzles that are a pain in the neck to solve. I’m very grateful for the Steam walkthrough that’s available; thank you!

    Enola
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Quite scary and creepy; interesting storytelling via letters/notes
    Weak Points: Dated visuals; voice acting is hit or miss; limited saving opportunities; typos; bugs
    Moral Warnings: The main characters are a lesbian couple; frontal nudity and nipples shown; detailed descriptions of masturbation and rape; blood, violence, and murder; option to kill for revenge; language; tarot cards

    The story telling is mostly done through letters and notes left on glowing lamps. Many of the letters are read aloud with voice acting that is hit or miss. Most of it was good, but some of the voice actors were still a bit amateur. What the game lacked in voice acting it made up in spades with the scary atmospheric sounds and background music. This game definitely creeped me out. Survival horror game fans will probably like this macabre world.

    Although the Unreal Engine is used, the textures are bland and very dated. The levels are pretty restricted with obstacles blocking paths, and rooms that are not in use are behind broken doors. Many doors are blocked temporarily until you find the proper key for them. Sometimes the key is just laying about while other times they are in a safe of some sort with a strange combination to figure out.

    Many of the rooms have dolls or mannequins in them. Often times, they are lacking clothes and are in strange positions. There are some bloody murder scenes depicted with both mannequins and naked human bodies. One of the levels takes place at a strip club with revealing paintings on the walls.

    Enola
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 60%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 30%
    Violence - 1/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 0/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    Besides seeing the gory imagery, you get to read about it too in the descriptive notes. There are numerous death accounts told from different perspectives. Some seem accidental; others are in self-defense or cold-blooded murder. In the game, you’ll have opportunities to kill for revenge or to set the trapped perpetrators free. Not all of the notes revolve around death. There are some that discuss regrets, and others talk about masturbation and sexual experimentation.

    Religion is touched on a bit, and one of the levels takes place in a church environment. As a Christian, I regularly partake in communion as a symbol of Jesus’s body being broken and His blood being shed for my sins. In this game, you’re required to literally eat some flesh and drink some blood to progress. Later on, you get to interact with tarot cards. Last but not least, there is some language and derogatory statements made about some of the characters in this title.

    Given the many moral issues in this title, it’s safe to say that it’s not appropriate for younger and arguably Christian audiences. There are some stability issues and some game breaking bugs worth noting as well. I had to lose progress and exit out of the game due to a bug that trapped me inside of a room with no way out.

    Even with the glitches, dated visuals, and shotty voice acting, I cannot deny that there is an interesting yet dark story in Enola. Sexual abuse victims may want to skip this title, as it may hit a little too close to home. I’m still not a fan of horror games, and this one definitely creeped me out.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Event[0]
    Developed by: Ocelot Society
    Published by: Ocelot Society
    Release date: September 14, 2016
    Available on: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Ocelot Society for sending us this game to review!

    When you first launch Event[0], you’ll be asked some questions to personalize the experience. You can choose to identify yourself as a he, she, or they. You’ll then get to specify your background and make some other choices that will eventually get you into outer space. Once in space, things go horribly wrong and you’ll find yourself stranded. Before giving up hope, your escape pod docks at an out of date space station and your quest to return home begins.

    The space station appears to be abandoned, but there are many terminals with a great AI interface that goes by the name Kaizen. If you agree to help destroy a drive on the ship, it will let you explore the space station. You get to interact with multiple terminals in rooms, hallways, and elevators in the space station. While typing in commands works, full sentences are preferred. Kaizen also appreciates it if you are polite and cooperative. There are multiple endings so your decisions have an impact on which one you get.

    Event[0]
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great computer terminal AI; easy controls; interesting story
    Weak Points: Expensive for short amount of gameplay; long loading screens
    Moral Warnings: Strong language (hell, f*ck) is in the logs that you have to read to learn vital information needed to progress the story

    My first playthrough was completed in less than two hours. If you plan on replaying it, this game may be worth the $19.99 asking price but if you are a "one ending is fine" gamer, then you may want to wait for a Steam sale. No matter your play style and budget, Event[0] is a surprisingly good game with some clever puzzles and an interesting story. If the puzzles stump you, there are helpful walkthroughs online though keep in mind that some of the access codes are randomized so what works for one game may not work in another.

    Finding out the required passwords, memory addresses, and other information can be obtained by reading post-it notes or entry logs on the terminals. Some of the entries are laced with strong language that should not be repeated by kids or Christians ([url=https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5%3A4]Eph 5:4[/url]). It is possible to die in this game and there are references to a murder that took place on the space station.

    The controls are very simple with the left mouse button to move forward and the right mouse button to go backwards. When you’re exploring outside of the space station you’ll use the left and right mouse buttons for thrust and holding your position. When traveling outside, be sure to monitor your oxygen level. Your character will become short of breath and gasp for air when it runs low.

    Event[0]
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 88%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The puzzles in this game range from musical ones to logic based ones. To get to the final room, you have to locate a diary with a door access code on it. Finding the diary takes a lot of ingenuity and requires breaking into a room that has retina scanners that you don’t have a match for. Earlier in the game you can bypass the retina scanner but that method won’t work here.

    Visually this game is pretty good as this space station looks believably outdated. The terminal interfaces are nicely antiquated as well. The sound effects and theme song are both well done and fitting to the game’s atmosphere. What impresses me the most about Event[0] is the computer terminal AI and that interacting with it feels natural.

    As neat and as fun as this title is, I don’t think I’d pay the whole price for it since it’s quite short. As long as you don’t mind some strong language, Event[0] is definitely worth adding to your wishlist and picking up on a Steam sale though.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Football Game
    Developed by: Cloak and Dagger Games
    Published by: Ratalaika Games SL
    Release date: November 5, 2019
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Vita, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Mature for strong language, drug and alcohol reference, use of tobacco
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Ratalaika Games SL for sending us a review code!

    Football Game was originally released on Steam in 2018 and has very positive reviews. This point and click Lynchian/macabre adventure game can be completed in less than an hour if you use the readily available walkthrough on Steam. The PC version is reasonably priced at $1.99, but the console versions are listed at $4.99. While it’s great to play a classic adventure game on a Vita, I wouldn’t pay more than double the PC version for the privilege.

    You play the game as Tommy, a popular high school football player who wakes up with a hangover. Your first order of business is to hide the beer bottles in your room before your mother finds out that you’ve been drinking. Once they're disposed of in the trashcan (no mother would ever look in there apparently), you can leave your room.

    Football Game
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cross-buy between PS4 and Vita
    Weak Points: Less than an hour of gameplay
    Moral Warnings: Disobeying your mother and stealing is required to progress the story; underage tobacco and alcohol consumption; strong language with several instances of the f-bomb; blood and implied murder; cheerleaders wear skimpy outfits that the main character likes to stare at

    Tommy has plans to meet his girlfriend, Susie, at the football game, but his mom won’t let him take the car. Going through the window is not an option since he got grounded for a week, the last time he did so. By examining and combining items around the house, he’ll need to find a way to distract his mom.

    Once Tommy arrives at the school, he discovers that nobody knows where his girlfriend is. As he looks around, he’ll have some flashbacks about the good times they had. One student has some information, but in order to get it, Tommy will have to steal an autographed photo from the boy’s locker room. A teacher is guarding the locker room so he’ll need to be distracted in order to gain entry.

    Some of the puzzles are easier to figure out than others. Like many adventure games, there’s a combination that you’ll have to figure out by reading various files and posters. I’m glad the walkthrough was available so I could get unstuck and all of the achievements.

    Visually this game is very dark; thankfully there’s an option to brighten everything on the main menu. The art is very retro and has a 90s vibe to it. I think the graphics are rather ugly, but others may find them appealing.

    Football Game
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 68%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence: 8.5/10
    Language: 5/10
    Sexual Content: 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 4/10

    The sound effects are pretty good, but overall this is a rather quiet game. There are a handful of songs made by Jupiter-C and when they play, they’re fitting and sound good. The soundtrack is available on Steam for $1.99.

    Football Game is rated M by the ESRB and rightfully so. There’s quite a bit of language (S.O.B, b*stard, f*ck) including multiple instances of the f-bomb. Disobedience and stealing is also required to progress the story. Underage smoking and drinking also take place in this title. The ending is a bit vague and implies a possible death with blood being shown. One interpretation could be a warning against drunkenness. There are some kissing scenes and there’s a cutscene of Tommy admiring the skimpy cheerleader’s outfit.

    In the end, Football Game is a short and dark adventure game. With the Steam version be less than half of the cost of the console edition, I would consider it at that price point. If you prefer the portability of the Vita or Switch, it’s worth checking out on sale.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Forgotton Anne
    Developed by: ThroughLine Games
    Published by: Square Enix Collective
    Release date: May 15, 2018
    Available on: macOS, PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Partial Nudity, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Square Enix Collective for sending us this game to review!

    Forgotton Anne is a beautifully animated adventure puzzle game that tells the story of a girl named Anne who lives in a realm of forgotlings. When items are abandoned in the Ether, they get whisked away and given a purpose in this other world which is led by a man named Bonku. Even though Anne refers to Bonku as master, he is more of a father figure to her. To the citizens of this realm, Anne is known as the enforcer because she has the ability to distill or remove their life force from them if they get out of line. Aside from Anne keeping order, there are mirrors placed around town that allow Bonku to keep tabs on things as he’s building a bridge to the Ether so everyone can be reunited with those who discarded the forgotlings.

    Not everyone is a fan of Bonku and his methods. A group of rebels have sabotaged the watchtower and one member even manages to break into Anne’s house and this is where the story begins. Anne will have to interrogate this intruder and decide to let them live or distill them on the spot. The choices made in this game impact the ending so make sure you’re happy with your decisions. There are lots of checkpoints, but no way to reverse a decision once it’s made and the game usually saves right away after making a difficult choice.

    Forgotten Anne
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent visuals, background music, and voice acting; engaging story and puzzles
    Weak Points: Some of the jumping puzzles are inconsistent
    Moral Warnings: Some moral dilemmas and tough decisions; a peeing water fountain statue is shown doing its thing in a bathroom; gambling, smoking, and drinking are shown

    I like that this game lets you decide Anne’s temperament and offers the ability to forgive those who have wronged her. Ultimately, there are two possible endings, but many of the decisions Anne makes are thrown back at her so she’ll have to account for every distilling, necessary or not. Death does come naturally for forgotlings who have been around for a while. Eventually, everyone crystalizes and it’s a peaceful process.

    Thanks to Bonku, Anne has some abilities that most forgotlings lack. With some synthetic wings, Anne can perform higher and longer jumps. The Arca that’s on her hand allows her to absorb anima (energy) from forgotlings or devices that run off of anima. By using the Arca, Anne can re-route power to enable some devices and disable others. Completing many of this game’s puzzles will require anima re-routing skills.

    There are some jumping puzzles and unfortunately they’re a little inconsistent at times. In some cases, Anne can make a jump that’s otherwise not possible in the rest of the game. That’s pretty much my only complaint with this game.

    Forgotten Anne
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 89%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    The anime style visuals are superb and nicely animated. The cutscenes look and sound great and the voice acting is well done. Though it’s not worth owning (in my opinion) the background music is fitting and nice too.

    Unlike other adventure style games, you do not have to interact with and combine inventory items. You can, however, collect mementos which tell the back stories of some of the resident forgotlings. There is also a diary, which is automatically updated with the story’s progress and Anne’s current goals.

    For the most part, Forgotton Anne is pretty family friendly. There is an area where drinking and gambling takes place. One of the forgotlings is a peeing water fountain cherub who is shown doing his thing, but nothing is shown.

    The main story can be completed in roughly eight hours and its got a good story with plenty of spoilers which I’ll keep to myself. I highly recommend checking out this game if you enjoy anime, good stories, and adventure games with some jumping puzzles.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Fran Bow
    Published By: KillMonday Games
    Developed by: KillMonday Games
    Release Date: Aug 27, 2015
    Available on windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
    Single player game
    Genre: Point and Click Adventure game.
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Story-driven point and click adventure games have never attracted me. Maybe it was because I never experienced early PC gaming gems such as the King's Quest series. It could also be that every time I heard about these point and click games, a popular Youtuber ended up playing it and I just watched the story on my own. However, when I saw the Youtuber Jesse Cox play the old demo of Fran Bow, I was enchanted. Something about this game made me want to experience the story for myself, to watch the events unfold without seeing it through another pair of eyes first. Now this question can be answered: was Fran Bow’s enchantment over me a pleasant charm or a terrible curse? I dive into KillMonday Games’ point and click adventure to find out.

    Fran Bow is the story of a young girl whose parents were brutally murdered before her eyes. The only things she remembers is a horned being who murdered her family and her cat Mr. Midnight being taken from her. She is also forced to stay in a mental asylum for disturbed children. As Fran, it is your job to find the correct items and information to solve puzzles and obtain the tools to progress through the story. As you progress through the chapters, the game's mechanics will allow you to travel through alternate planes of reality. Changing realities will allow you to solve puzzles or meet new characters to continue the story. Mini-games break up the chapters every now and then. They are a great break up between the heavy plot elements of the game. If you do not enjoy these mini-games, they can be skipped.

    Fran Bow
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellently written point and click adventure game with a strong horror element.
    Weak Points: The ending may not be for everyone, the game itself may not have much replay value for most people.
    Moral Warnings: You're fighting a war against Lucifer; occult and violent themes are extremely high.

    The art-style of this game is gorgeous. Throughout the chapters of the game I felt like I was watching a moving oil painting. Water effects, lighting, and video game terms were lost to me as it all felt like it was a beautifully painted book that was coming to life as I read it. When I crossed over to the more horrific realities, I was terrified. The terror that was experienced was not the kind of monster that jumped out at you screaming either. This was a fear that stayed and sat, festering in the mind and soul as it raised questions and gave few to no answers. The world of Fran Bow is one of beauty and terror that anyone who loves good visuals will enjoy.

    The sound of the game provides the appropriate ambiance for every section of Fran’s world. The music will fill you with a sense of foreboding curiosity at times, and a joyful childlike wonder at other times. The sound effects of every moment – from meeting the demon that haunts her to interacting with the various denizens of the realities aid in bringing the game to life. While this entire game was made by only two people, these two people lovingly crafted this soundtrack.

    The most important aspect of the game is the story. The best way to describe it (in a spoiler free way) is an exciting journey, built a smooth way to what is the most disappointing and aggravating ending I have ever experienced in a video game. A quote from an anime reviewer named Glass Reflection fits best here: “the ending is paramount.” 

    Fran Bow
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 54%
    Violence - 3/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 4/10

    The ending to Fran Bow didn't sequel bait, nor tie up any loose ends to know the truth behind Fran and her experiences. The ending was a cop-out. Maybe I wasn't the audience that the developer intended to have, or maybe this game had some deep secret message that didn't hit me. When you judge the game on the story alone without factoring in personal emotional appeal that you felt for Fran, you will be left hungry for more. The final chapter really lets down the whole game. If Fran Bow had replay value, or anything at all to come back to once you've beaten the game, then maybe a bad ending wouldn't affect the experience so much. However it seems that this game has only one ending to speak of. 

    So with morality I'm going to get straight to the point for you fine folks out here. This girl is basically fighting a horrific battle against hell's king itself. Whether it's actually Lucifer or if the girl is a twisted mental psychotic, the ending won't clear it up for you. Violence is extremely common. Occult references are commonplace in the story and you're playing a point and click adventure game where a little girl is going through events that you wouldn't wish on a hardened military veteran. One of the security guards at the mental asylum even tries to force her to kiss him. One of the ways you can change realities is by using a medication. This games imagery is violent and disturbing, Fran Bow is not for the faint of heart.

    On a more general note, don't get this game for children under the age of 16 either. However for those whose faith is unshakable by dark stories then you might find an interesting and thought provoking game in Fran Bow. 

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Goetia
    Developed by: Sushee
    Published by: Square Enix
    Released: April 14, 2016
    Available on: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux
    Genre: Adventure
    ESRB rating: T (violent references, partial nudity)
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Young Abigail Blackwood passed away in 1902. She never expected to rise from her grave 40 years later and return to her childhood home, Blackwood Manor. Now as a ghost, she finds the place largely devoid of life, but there is a malevolent presence within the dilapidated mansion. Driven by curiosity, she must discover what happened to everyone and uncover a sinister mystery that has been haunting the region for more than four decades.

    That mysterious synopsis is what drives Goetia, a point-and-click adventure game from Sushee. This game drips with atmosphere, from the gloomy backgrounds to the haunting music and spooky sound effects. You play Abigail, represented by an ephemeral, luminescent orb that follows your mouse cursor around the scenes. Left clicking on an object will bring up a menu allowing you to look at objects, try to manipulate them, or possess them. Other keyboard buttons allow you to bring up your journal, look at the documents you've seen so far, or highlight objects you can interact with. The interface is minimal and the controls sharp, allowing you to get drawn into the mystery without getting distracted by the minutiae of game design.

    As you explore the mansion and the environment around it, you are able to learn more about the mansion, the nearby village, the forest behind the mansion, and more. You'll unlock clues about what happened to your family and what they were involved in, and Abigail's role in the events as well. One of the elements that deviates Goetia from other adventure games is inventory management; since you're a ghostly orb, you don't have a backpack or pockets to keep the items you come across. Instead, you can push your essence into specific objects in order to "possess" them for as long as you need. The object will float around and can interact with some parts of the world in order to solve various challenges. While Abigail can float through floors and walls unless they're sealed (more on that later), the object can't pass through solid objects. Sometimes the challenge can simply be to get an item from one place to another while trying to figure out how to get around a locked door. 

    Goetia
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent graphics, sound and music; challenging puzzles; intriguing story
    Weak Points: Some puzzles have confusing or convoluted solutions
    Moral Warnings: Nudity; language; undead references; significant occult presence throughout the game

    There also are a variety of puzzles to solve as well. Some of these are familiar challenges, like trying to rearrange a torn note into its original form so you can read it. Others provide more of a challenge, including trying to match sheet music to a musical score. Some of the puzzles may prove to be too challenging, though – even to the point of making very little sense. I admit that I had to look at the solution to a few of the puzzles, and even with the answers I couldn't figure out the puzzle. This is something that even the author of the walkthrough admitted. Although all the dialogue is text based, you'll need to have a good set of speakers or headphones to solve some of the challenges, since some of them are based on audio clues, including a couple of musical challenges. 

    You'll want to listen to the game, anyway. The eerie sound effects and music do an excellent job of drawing you into the environment. You also can manipulate a slider to darken the game, to further add to the spooky atmosphere (I kept mine brighter since it makes the screenshots clearer to see. It wasn't because I was scared... honest!). This game is gorgeous in its art style – although desolate and decrepit, the details in the artwork are amazing. Even the "Silver Labyrinth," which is an area where you pass through old photographs, look like you are traveling through scratched and speckled black and white photos. The game may be classified as "horror," but the environment is more unsettling than terrifying. There aren't any jump scares, and since you're a ghost, you really don't have to worry about anything killing you. In fact, once you get to a certain point in the game, you can freely explore and solve the puzzles in whatever order you'd like. Backtracking is required, as you'll unlock and uncover different areas, and enjoy the new discoveries in the process. The only plot hole I could find is trying to determine who has been paying for the electric lights in the manor and nearby Oakmarsh long after both locales have been deserted!

    Goetia
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 57%
    Violence - 5/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10
    +3 for demonstrating the consequences of messing around with occult practices.

    As beautiful as the game is, though, there are some significant moral concerns which make me hesitant to recommend this game. Of course there are the undead elements, since you are playing as a ghost. More alarmingly, though, is the presence of the creatures inhabiting the house. It seems that your father was a professor of "demonology," and for some reason, five demons are trapped within the mansion. These aren't made-up demons, either – the ones that Sushee selected have historical backgrounds dating as far back as the 15th century. I recognized the name of the first one you encounter – Malphas – but a Google search of the other names revealed that some of these demons have been theorized for a few centuries, including the sigils and symbols that appear in Goetia. In fact, the name of the game itself refers to a work called the "Ars Goetia," which appeared in the 17th century and focused on the identity of demons... and how to summon them. Needless to say, this game is steeped in occult references, to the point where it could be considered a primer in demonology itself. A strong spiritual center is highly advised if you're considering playing this game, and I wouldn't recommend it to children because of its potential influences. Almost as a minor note, there are also language issues, as "Hell" is mentioned several times – for the most part, as a location, rather than a curse word. In one of the journal entries, one of the demons appears as a nude male, and another is composed of three creatures, including a topless woman. A corpse does appear in one location, as well as skulls in another. Finally, one of the puzzles involves the use of a ouija board.

    Goetia is a beautiful game with a powerful story that compels you to learn more. The atmosphere is immersive and the length of the story, combined with the entertainment of the puzzles, makes this one of the more entertaining and intriguing adventure games that I've played. But the significant amount of occult symbolism, combined with how subtly it is presented, should give anyone reason to hesitate. Be firm in your faith if you wish to explore the haunted ruins of Blackwood Manor. 

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
    Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
    Published by: NIS America, Inc.   
    Release Date: May 18, 2016
    Available on: Windows, PS Vita
    Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Blood, Fantasy Violence   
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thanks NIS America for the review code!

    htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is a game that makes me happy it's on PC but not as happy as I first thought. This game is a joy with its beautiful artstyle, mysterious story and fun challenge, and it deserved much more attention. Yet porting it to the PC might not have been the best idea. Despite patches and fixes before the full release, the game remains a potential gem with one too many scratches on the surface to truly stay valuable. This is htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary.

    htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary stars Mion, a girl with tree branch horns who wakes up in a ruined factory with no clue of how she ended up in this place. The only guide she has is Lumen, a fairy that tells her where to go by its shining light. Her other ally, Umbra, a fairy that can only move in shadows, aids her by interacting with objects through the shadows. All you know is that you must go forward.

    htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: An enjoyable atmospheric, game with a relaxing tone; definitely worth at least one play
    Weak Points: Despite efforts by the devs, the game feels unresponsive at points; with Mion already moving slowly, it can make the game frustrating to move forward with
    Moral Warnings: The game has a story focused around humans trying to play God. You get some mild blood splatter when Mion dies

    You don't have direct control of Mion; by moving Lumen you give Mion an idea where to go. This encompasses everything from climbing ladders to moving objects to picking up items. By right clicking on the mouse you go to the shadow world with Umbra. Time freezes and you can move Umbra along black surfaces towards interactable objects.  Keep in mind that stopping time to go to the shadow world at certain times may give you the answer to a puzzle that you didn't see before.

    The story of this game is special to say the least. The game doesn't tell you what's going on at all other than you need to guide this little girl out of danger. You get story beats if you collect memory fragments, represented as small glowing white plants. This gives you small scenes to interact in and explore. With no dialogue, you're left with your own theories as to what the story is. I am not even completely sure if there was an apocalyptic war or presumably Mion's parents ended the world. As far as I am aware, at this point the developers of htoL#NiQ have not said anything on what their story is. So this game may frustrate people who want a clear story.

    htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 64%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2/10

    This is a game of patience and precise timing. Some of the failures you'll have with the puzzles will be due to entering the shadow world slowly or moving Lumen too quickly. Mion's response time isn't very quick either. No matter how precise you are with Lumen, you'll feel the delay when she turns and interacts with objects. This makes it difficult to tell if you failed a puzzle due your own skill or the game's response time. This game will take you between 8 to 12 hours. You do have to collect all the memory fragments if you want to access the true final chapter later.

    Morality in this game is a mixed bag. You'll get blood splatters on the screen if Mion dies but you won't see any gore or major injury inflicted on characters. The theme you'll be presented with at the end of the story crosses into the lines of humans playing God I think, though with no clear indication of the meaning of the story I am left with my own interpretation. Other then these points there is little that is morally objectionable.

    It's a good game, yet it may not be for everyone. Mion does deserve some attention for her adventure in htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. Even if I have no idea what's going on.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Iris.Fall
    Developed By: NEXT Studios
    Published By: NEXT Studios
    Released: December 7, 2018
    Available On: Windows
    Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: single-player
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you NEXT Studios for sending us a review code!

    “A picture is worth a thousand words.” An English idiom that is commonly said to refer to art—or pieces that have artistic value. It is a pretty interesting idiom because art can have many different meanings and can be interpreted in multiple ways. There are many people who can view a portrait of a field of flowers as something of a surface beauty, but other people may see it as the results of cooperation and hard work. I’m sure this is what Chinese developer, NEXT Studios had in mind when creating their game Iris.Fall.

    Iris.Fall is a very interesting puzzle-adventure game that has the player control a girl named Iris, who follows a mysterious cat into an abandoned theater. The first noticeable aspect of Iris.Fall is that there are no exchanges of dialogue whatsoever, so the game’s narrative is portrayed through its visuals. The second thing is that the color scheme is mostly in black and white, except for parts near the beginning and the end. As Iris scales up the tower to follow this elusive cat, she starts to learn more about herself and that finding this tower wasn’t just a mere coincidence.

    Many of the puzzles utilize the environment, namely light and shadows. Iris (for an unexplained reason) can traverse through the world of shadows by these peculiar books laying on the ground. Interacting with the environment by inserting and removing objects can change how the shadows are placed in the background, which is used to reach the next area. The interaction and environmental-based aspects remind me of a lot of point-and-click adventure games. It is rather fitting seeing as the game is entirely controlled by keyboard and mouse (or gamepad). There are some more traditional puzzles within (like a puzzle resembling a rubix cube), although they start to appear more towards the middle. Some of these puzzles are very simple and only require the observation of your surroundings—taking mere seconds to complete. Others will require more thought and may take minutes to complete. Out of all the puzzles, only two of them really stumped me but I was able to complete both of them without a guide.

    Iris.Fall
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Impressive visuals and atmosphere; interesting puzzles with a good amount of them not being too hard but not too easy either
    Weak Points: Final set of puzzles are a bit weaker than the rest; narrative can be a bit confusing; movement is a bit sluggish
    Moral Warnings: Some supernatural aspects due to the whole traversing through shadows

    Visually, Iris.Fall is very impressive. The graphical style is cel-shading, with specific lighting to make the characters and scenery look like it came straight out of the pages of a picture book. I’ve always really liked the style of cel-shading as it makes the visuals age very well with games that used the style decades ago still looking good today. The visuals are further enhanced by the gothic style and monochrome style that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The theater props are very abundant throughout and look very authentic. The combination of light and style make Iris.Fall a very beautiful experience, even if the models themselves aren’t of the highest polygon.

    Fitting into the whole theater aspect, the music and sound is absent for a lot of the journey. In many chapters, the only things you’ll hear are the turning of the gears, the steps of Iris, and the falling of dirt and dust when these unused relics are given life once again. The sounds are genuine, as they are created with real tools and instruments. I feel the absence of music in many areas strengthens the atmosphere as Iris is exploring this unknown theater, giving off a sense of uneasiness. When music is active, it takes the theater inspiration and uses string, piano, and soft percussion instruments. Most of the soundtrack is soft and simple, but when some scenes get more hectic, so does the music, with the number of instruments and usage of said instruments increasing in intensity.

    Iris.Fall
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 97%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Iris.Fall does have issues here and there. Even though the controls are very simple, Iris feels sluggish to move. She doesn’t start immediately moving as she has a bit of a delay. She also gets stuck on props you feel that she wouldn’t. On the contrary, puzzles are responsive. Going back to the first statement I made, the complete absence of any form of narrative in a way does harm it. Without going into too many spoilers, the narrative is strange, with the ending being confusing. I do, however, feel that this was done on purpose by NEXT Studios. With pictures and art being seen in different ways, the developers wanted people to come to their own conclusions about this adventure. I feel that my viewpoint of this is supported as when I looked through discussion about certain aspects, people saw reoccurring imagery such as the cat and a shadow bat through a different lens. Some saw the cat as a metaphor, due to Iris.Fall parallels to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Others saw the cat as a manifestation of “truth.” Many people have many different views on what the story is about and comparing your viewpoint to others is exciting, even if it doesn’t always work out as “intended.”

    As Iris.Fall has no violence, the lack of dialogue means there are no crude words seen or uttered, and Iris herself has a very conservative appearance meaning no sexual content. The only questionable moral concerns are the supernatural aspects, and just like with the story, it’s all how you decipher it. It’s hard to say whether traversing the shadow world is magic or not. I feel that it is generally safe, but that’s only how I see it.

    Being a puzzle game with an average length of two to four hours—depending on how good you are with puzzles, Iris.Fall doesn’t have much replay value beyond getting achievements you have missed. With amazing visuals and mostly clever puzzles that utilize a unique aspect, it is an experience that can satisfy most puzzle fans. The ending puzzles do have that “let's just get this over with” feel and are a bit weaker than the puzzles that predate it and the movement can feel stilted in parts, but the flaws are fairly minor when compared to the strengths. The experience may not be a lengthy one but if you were captured by the atmosphere and design, you’ll enjoy Iris.Fall.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Just Ignore Them
    Developer: Stranga
    Published by: GrabTheGames
    Release Date: April 28, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Adventure
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Unrated
    Price: $ 3.99

    Thank you Stranga for sending us the review code.

    The game we are going to talk about today is filled with pleasant and unpleasant surprises. The unpleasant surprises are actually a good thing though. Just Ignore Them is a game that I thought would be a C- at best but was much more. While the game is extremely dark and frightful, it is definitely not the game you should ignore. This is Just Ignore Them.

    Just Ignore Them puts you in the role of Mark, a seemingly normal guy with a haunted past. One night as a child he lost it all. His mother was murdered in cold blood by the monsters he always saw as a child. While they seemed to be passive as his mother told him to just ignore them, one night he finds her lying in a pool of blood on her bed and his hell begins. You follow him to adulthood as he tries to live a normal life, though everywhere he goes these monsters and death are sure to follow. That is until he meets a girl named Brea at a run-down motel. With the keys in place Mark has a chance at a happy life - that is, if you can solve the mystery.

    Just Ignore Them
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: This is a strong horror adventure, you will get spooked despite the low graphics.
    Weak Points: The short game doesn't effect the story quality, yet it does effect the game's mechanics. Nothing feels completely fleshed out, it felt like the developer wanted to do more.
    Moral Warnings: Despite the low graphics, this is a horrifying, violent, and suggestive story. It is not for young or innocent eyes.

    The first thing I can say is this game kept me gripped tight. It reminded me of a horror game made in RPG Maker called The Witch's House. You don't think it will make you run for the hills, but the game scared many fans and streamers. So going into this game with a positive state of mind helped. The game is like something out of RPG Maker; all you do is walk around and select items, objects and people to get through the story. Other than combining items every now and then to keep the story moving, that's all you get. You don't have any battles or mini games to change things up. The story is all you will get with this game. Now the story won't win any Pulitzer prizes, yet I would watch a movie of it. Some people may think I am not a fan of story focused game's. That's the farthest from the truth, the story just has to catch me and not let me go. The characters might not be complex in this game, however, the games story carries the fun.

    The game mechanic's, however, seemed to want to do more than the game's content allowed. You can combine items you pick up though the game only had me do that three times. The walking animation was slow and annoying to watch especially when you had to backtrack. The art style is cute and charming, but story focused games have to worry about breaking immersion.

    Just Ignore Them
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 28%
    Violence - 4/10
    Language - 3/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2/10

    Every character in this title has the same face. When Mark and Brea look exactly the same it reminds you that this is an indie game on a budget. The game's length seems right for this story at two hours, but filling in more details might have been nice. It could have extended the game's exploration of mechanics as well. The developer is planning to at least add a content patch for Brea's story later. Yet it may just be the same game from a different point of view.

    Without spoiling the story, it is a very brutal, adult story. While it doesn't show any nudity there is some implied sex between the main characters. You'll have a lot of foul language to deal with too. The only reason I am not giving the violence score a zero is because it is a very low graphic pixel game. The monsters that haunt Mark, named Jiwis, are made by trying to create life from the stolen life of others. While the game may have simple graphics, I would recommend this for players that are 18 and up.

    While a brutal story, it is still a gripping horror and thriller. If you're willing to see a man truly haunted by evil and you want to help him find a small ray of sunshine, pick up Just Ignore Them.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    King's Quest
    Developed by: The Odd Gentlemen
    Published by: Sierra
    Release Date: October 25, 2016
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $39.99 or $9.99 per chapter
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Sierra for sending us this game to review!

    After King Graham chose his bride in chapter 3 they settle down and have twins, Alexander and Rosella.  Chapter 4 begins with the twins fussing and it’s Graham’s turn to feed and change the babies in the middle of the night while avoiding stepping on toys and other objects on the floor.  Once both babies are content, Manannan breaks into the castle and steals Alexander while his parents are helplessly bound by his spell.  King Graham vows to get him back but is unsuccessful until eighteen years later when Alexander comes back to the castle after tricking Manannan.  

    Happy to have his family all together King Graham takes them back to Avalon to show off his relics and to share his story with his son (who likes to be called Caduceus now).  Before they depart King Graham has to fit all their luggage into a small chariot Tetris style.  This is one of the first of many, many, puzzles in this chapter.  Instead of the luxurious hotel reservations they have planned, the family quickly gets separated and must solve several puzzles and riddles to get re-united.  This is the perfect opportunity for Graham and his son to bond and reclaim the eighteen years that they were separated.   

    King's Quest
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great dialogue and character development
    Weak Points: Tricky puzzles that often require walkthroughs to complete
    Moral Warnings: Death and violence

    Though Alexander does things differently than King Graham, he must learn to love his son unconditionally.  There are great moral lessons in this chapter that promote the importance of understanding and loving your family members even during disagreements.

    The last chapter shows King Graham on one of his final adventures when he’s seventy-seven years old.  While he’s sharing this story with his granddaughter, Gwendolyn, many parts of the tale are incorrect or incomplete.  With her help, his adventure is re-told as he explores the same maps from the first chapter.  Some of the puzzles will return including musical ones.  Like the previous chapters, walkthroughs helped me get through the tougher puzzles.  

    King's Quest
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Since King Graham’s health is failing, this chapter takes on a more serious tone and has the least amount of puns compared to the previous ones.  While these two chapters both deal with death, they stress the importance of love and family and leaving a positive legacy to be remembered by.  The deaths in these chapters are handled gracefully and without any blood shown.

    The graphics are unique in the final chapter when it comes to King Graham’s incomplete memories.  The same colorful environments of the first chapter are there, but there are many plain white areas where the memories get “foggy.”  The throwback 8-bit and 16-bit modes add a nice touch and bring out the “feels” for fans of the original King’s Quest games.  Even the voice acting sounded antiquated in those modes!

    Anyone who enjoys adventure games should check out the latest King’s Quest series.  If you don’t like tricky puzzles or riddles, then you may want to skip this one.  In the event that you do get stuck, there are plenty of walkthroughs and videos available to help.  Overall this series has made me groan at its silly puns and got me choked up in the final chapter.  It’s a must play for any King’s Quest fan and a great way to induct new ones!  

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    King’s Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb
    Developed by: The Odd Gentlemen
    Published by: Sierra
    Release Date: April 26. 2016
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $39.99 or $9.99 per chapter
    (Humble Charity Link)

    Thank you Sierra for sending us a review code for this chapter!

    King Graham has established himself as the king of Daventry and all is well with his kingdom except for a baby owl that you get to help rescue in the beginning of the game.  Once the baby owl is safe and sound, Graham is showed as a little older and stronger.   Throughout the game he will get many compliments on his bulked up physique.  However, he’s lonely and there’s too much food for him and his pet gerbil, Triumph, to eat.  The villagers are too busy with their lives to join him for dinner and his staff have placed a chair next to his throne to give him a not so subtle hint.  It’s time for King Graham to find his queen.   

    After constructing a dinner guest to join their banquet, the magic mirror reveals a tower to Graham that has his future bride trapped in there.  He must rescue her at once!  Getting into the tower is not very challenging, but once inside Graham quickly learns that the magical barrier has trapped him inside along with the two pretty princesses from Kolyma.  

    Which princess is his future wife though?  That’s up to you to decide, actually.  Depending on your actions and answers a relationship will either blossom or fizzle between the two.  Princess Vee is the more logical one and is considered to be the canon choice if you want to stay true to the original King's Quest games.    Princess Neese is more adventurous, spontaneous, quirky, and is also a good fit for Graham if chosen.

    King’s Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent adventure game with lovable characters and groan worthy puns
    Weak Points: Awkward controls
    Moral Warnings: Fantasy magic and cartoon violence

    With the multiple choices comes multiple endings and you can replay this adventure to get different ones.   The adventure only lasts a couple of hours, so it won’t take too much time to see every possibility. Once you get to know the princesses’ personalities you can tailor your actions and answers accordingly.  

    The third installment is more upbeat than the previous chapter and I enjoy a good romance instead of choosing which starving person to feed for the day.  While I was able to solve many of the puzzles on my own, I did have to resort a video walkthough to guide me a couple of times.  There are musical puzzles along with some frustrating quick-time events.  The controls were irritating at times and I have tried using both a keyboard and controller and was equally annoyed with both options.  I wound up settling on the keyboard for scaling the freezing tower towards the end of the chapter.  The trick is to use both the AW and WD keys to reach areas at an angle.  Thankfully, the game is generous with its auto-saves.  

    King’s Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    As with the previous chapters, the 3D cell shaded visuals look great and the characters’ expressions and personalities really shine in this entry.  The voice acting is top notch and I still do like Christopher Lloyd’s silly puns that are plentiful in this series.  

    Like all King’s Quest games, this chapter is suitable for gamers of all ages to enjoy.  There is some fantasy magic use but that’s not uncommon in fairy tales.  There are good messages about love, redemption, and to not judge someone on their outward appearance.  

    If you haven’t played a King’s Quest adventure game, this is a great one to try.  Playing the chapters in their proper order is highly recommended though.  Each chapter sells for $10, but you can buy the entire series for $39.99.  

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Kona
    Developed by: Parabole
    Published by: Parabole
    Released: March 17, 2017
    Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PS4
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: 1 
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you, Parabole, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

    When I started playing Kona, one of the things that struck me right away was how much the game felt like home. Blizzard conditions, deep forests, wolves willing to tear your face off, supernatural creatures stalking the woods, conspiracy theories... the only thing that makes this different from life in northern Idaho is that, in Kona, all of the writing is in French.

    In Kona, from Parabole, you step into the shoes of a gumshoe named Carl Faubert. It takes place in a region of northern Quebec, Canada in 1970. A wealthy industrialist has started a mining operation, but it has been plagued by a string of vandalism, so he hires Carl to investigate. Although it is a crisp autumn day when he drives to the area, a blizzard suddenly hits. On top of that, one of the first things Carl discovers is the body of his employer, lying dead on the floor of the general store. You have to guide Carl around the village and the surrounding forest to uncover the secrets of those living there, all the while trying to avoid freezing to death. 

    Kona
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent graphics, music and sound effects; compelling story; intriguing game mechanics
    Weak Points: Lots of loading times, including frequent, mid-game interruptions; occasional graphical glitches
    Moral Warnings: Murder mystery, with minor instances of blood; language issues; references to adultery and revolution against the government; violence against wolves

    The game is balanced remarkably well. There are many mysteries to discover as you investigate the journals and papers of the residents – who, for the most part, have all mysteriously vanished. You also will find evidence of supernatural happenings, from bodies frozen in solid ice to strangely aggressive wolves. On top of that, you need to maintain your supplies of fire starters, matches and heavy logs in order to build fires, either within the stoves of the houses, or in specifically designated campsites in the woods. The freezing mechanism is done quite well, too. There are three meters to monitor – Carl's health, his temperature, and his mental state. As the first two go down, the mental state can go down as well. This leads to Carl moving slower, his vision wavering, and his ability to notice things becoming more sporadic. The game has the presence of alcohol and cigarettes, which Carl can use to manipulate his different states. For example, drinking beer will make him feel warmer, but lower his mental acuity at the same time. The game is presented from a first-person perspective, and seeing things through Carl's eyes really adds to the immersion and feel of the game. Getting blinded by blowing snow is a common occurrence, and sometimes the only way to navigate is by the map.

    The graphics in the game are wonderful, with blowing snow whipping everywhere. Smoke will blow in the direction of the wind and, with the right settings turned on, the branches and leaves of the trees sway, and shadows dance in the firelight. The sound effects are fantastic as well, with howling winds, branches cracking underfoot, firewood popping, and wolves howling. This is combined with a gentle-voiced narrator, who provides commentary about what Carl is seeing and feeling. There is a lot of reading in the game, but aside from the narrator, there is only one other voice in the game. The catchy music fits the mood well. It is easy to get immersed in the game, and Kona is a wonderful experience in this regard.

    Kona
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 75%
    Violence - 8.5/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    Despite all the strengths in the game, there are a few drawbacks as well. For starters, you can expect lots of long pauses while the game loads the surrounding areas. This can be especially harrowing while you are driving the car around a narrow corner. There is an occasional glitch along the top of the screen, where a menu bar would appear if playing in windowed mode, but this is infrequent. Speaking of the graphic options, when initially starting the game all the features will be turned on. While this can make the game gorgeous, it also can make it unplayable for those with a weaker graphics processor. I actually had to tweak the settings before I could do anything in the game, since it stuttered and froze too long. Also, when throwing steaks to wolves, the beasts will pause unnaturally, as if it takes a while for the computer program to decide how to respond. Basically, Kona has a tendency to lapse into long pauses which disrupts the flow of the game and breaks the immersion factor. Perhaps this is just limited to my Macbook or the integrated Intel graphics processor it uses – those on different systems may have a different experience. The only other thing I will point out is really a minor nitpick – in order to take photographs, you need to hold down the right mouse button, then click with the left. This isn't a problem with the mouse, but when using a one-touch trackpad on a MacBook, this isn't an option. I had to break out my mouse and plug it in whenever I needed to take a photograph.

    There are a few moral considerations to the game. Kona is surprisingly bloodless. When wolves do attack, your screen flashes dark when you take damage, and when you kill a wolf, the animal merely falls over, again without any blood. You do come across a few dead bodies and evidence of dead bodies – it is a murder mystery, after all – but again, there is very little blood, and no gore. There are a few language issues, but nothing terribly harsh. D**n is written a few times, and God's name is taken in vain a couple times as well. Being a private detective, Carl has no issues snooping through people's belongings, or even taking items that don't belong to him in order to solve some of the challenges he faces. The biggest issue may be some of the documents you'll come across. Many of the people of the town have secrets, ranging from Communist affiliations and efforts to overthrow the government, to adultery. Some of these may not make sense to younger players and there isn't anything terribly detailed in the documents, but it could lead to some interesting discussions.

    Kona is a wonderful experience and a great environment to get lost in. The graphics, the music and the storyline all add up to make an addictive and compelling mystery. While there is plenty to do, there isn't much replay value to it once everything has been discovered and all the achievements have been unlocked. As long as you don't mind being interrupted by frequent pauses with game loading, you will find this game well worth the price. 

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Legend of the Skyfish
    Developed by: Mgaia Studio
    Published by: Crescent Moon Games
    Released: October 4, 2016 (Android, iOS); February 24, 2017 (Steam)
    Available on: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows
    Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
    ESRB rating: E for Everyone
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $3.99 (Android, iOS); $7.99 (Steam)

    Thank you, Crescent Moon Games, for sending us this game to review!

    The sea's bounty holds innumerable riches, but also great danger. The fishermen of the region learned this the hard way, when their efforts to fish the deepest part of the sea awoke an ancient evil. The legendary Skyfish emerged and mutated the people into hideous monstrosities. One little girl was forced away from her brother and cast into the sea to drown. But fate must have smiled on her that day, because the Moonwhale rescued her. Now, with the help of the Moonwhale, a diminutive flying fish, and her trusty fishing pole, Little Red Hook seeks to destroy the Skyfish and his evil minions for good!

    “Legend of the Skyfish,” from Mgaia Studios, has the player controlling Little Red Hook. She uses her fishing line and hook to latch onto platforms or reel enemies closer, and can swing the pole like a sword to slash her enemies. In each level, she needs to destroy the Skyfish totem in order to advance. Some of the areas also contain upgrades to her hood, pole or hook in order to make her adventures a bit easier. There are a total of 45 different levels, which include three challenging boss fights.

    Legend of the Skyfish
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cute graphics; nice music; challenging gameplay
    Weak Points: Little replay value; no Steam achievements or cloud saves
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    The graphics are very cute, with an island/nautical theme. Legend of the Skyfish seems inspired by the early “Legend of Zelda” games, with a cartoonish, 2D isometric perspective. All of the enemies have a fish or aquatic motif, and almost seem as a secondary distraction to the main theme of the different levels – figuring out how to navigate the different platforms and gates in order to destroy the totem pole, which looks like a representation of the Skyfish. The puzzles aren't overly complicated, but require some experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking to solve. The musical score is pleasant as well and fits the mood nicely.

    Some of the puzzles can be tricky to navigate, and sometimes Little Red Hook will take damage. If she takes too much, she will collapse to the ground with a cry of dismay. Not to worry, though – she will pop back up at the last checkpoint or the beginning of a stage. Most of the time, this is a minor setback, and you'll simply have to rethink your approach or your timing on the challenge you face. The game is quite generous with how merciful it can be.

    Legend of the Skyfish
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The most difficult stages are the boss battles, but these aren't to an overwhelming extent. However, it's during these times that one of the game's biggest flaws comes to light – the controls. I've played this with both the keyboard and an Xbox controller, with mixed results. Using the keyboard it was easy to move Little Red Hook around, but right-clicking with the mouse could sometimes make it harder to hit your target with the way the screen moves. Using the controller meant having much more control over the fishing line, but then it becomes more difficult to walk around and slash at her enemies. All in all, I preferred using the keyboard over the controller. Since I didn't test the game on a portable device, I can't say how Legend of the Skyfish functions with the tablet controls. The only other potential problems I found was the lack of replay value in the game, and on the Steam platform, the absence of achievements, trading cards, or cloud saving capabilities. With 45 levels, the game is surprisingly short – it contains only three fun boss battles, and can be completed in approximately six hours.

    From a moral perspective, this game is pretty clean. Little Red Hook slashes at her enemies, but they simply disappear in a puff of dust when defeated. Likewise, when she is killed, she simply falls over. There isn't any foul language to encounter – in fact, the only place text shows up is in the menus, the cutscenes, the boss fights and the story boxes upon first entering an area.

    If you're looking for a fun game, Legend of the Skyfish is a good catch. It has some thought-provoking puzzles, fun enemies and boss fights, and pleasing graphics and music. It's too bad there isn't more substance to the game – there is a lot of potential here, and the game will be over before you can get too immersed in its content. Still, at the price it offers, it could be one to reel in.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Lucid Dream
    Developed By: Dali Games
    Published By: Dali Games
    Released: October 8, 2018
    Available On: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Point-and-click adventure; horror; puzzle
    ESRB Rating: None
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $14.99 on Steam
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Dali Games for sending us this game to review!

    Lucid Dream is a point-and-click adventure game that centers around a young, wheelchair-bound girl whose name is unspecified at the very beginning. She lives with her single mother who seems to be suffering from anxiety/depression. The young girl, however, clearly cares about her mother, and she wants to help her fight these feelings inside herself. The only way that she can seem to do this is by entering the dream world and trying to find a solution there. It is here that we learn her name (Lucy).

    The player is never told why Lucy is bound to a wheelchair, but the game does make one thing clear in the difference between the worlds: Lucy’s ability to walk in the dream world. She is perfectly able to move as she pleases in her dreams, and the nightgown/dress she wears is noticeably lighter in the dream world than in the real world. However, no matter what movement ability Lucy has, she is only able to interact with objects around her that are within a certain radius, and she has to move to access something that is farther away.

    Lucid Dream
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Visually pleasing art style; fitting music for the atmosphere of the story; many different types of puzzles; three different difficulties to suit a player’s experience level
    Weak Points: Puzzles can get quite hard, even in the easiest difficulty; clues can be very confusing, several times I had to rely on a YouTube walkthrough
    Moral Warnings: Many references to the supernatural; for example, there are references to Greek and Egyptian mythology; protagonist signs contract to sell her soul; she is tampering with her mind, and also with time; protagonist is being taken to a psychiatrist because of this; dreamcatcher appearing repeatedly

    Once Lucy enters the dream world (which is where most of the story and action takes place), most of the supernatural content starts to show up. For instance, Lucy has to sign a contract with a figure by the name of the Oneiromancer to let him use her soul for power. Another instance is when Lucy meets stone figures with names and histories reminiscent of ancient Greek and Egyptian myths, and there is an obelisk present as well. There are also times when Lucy has to use mirrors as portals into the dreamworld. There was a moment where Lucy had to steal the shell off of a sleeping beetle to reveal polka-dot underwear, and there was even a moment when the protagonist has to play with time in order to try to fix things. Alchemy and essences are also present, and potion-mixing as well (with fantastical ingredients, but it’s still there). All of these things have caused poor Lucy to seem delusional, and her mother has resorted to taking her to the psychiatrist.

    The graphics of Lucid Dream are very interesting, as the art is a mix between a cartoony and realistic style. If your screen is not 16:9, however, the top and bottom of the screen will leave the desktop that is there visible and able to interact with. The sound effects are decent, and the background music fits the theme of the game quite well. There is no voice acting whatsoever. The text that helps progress the story isn’t perfect either; while it’s written pretty well, there are a few typos and spelling mistakes. From what I can remember, however, there is no vulgar language.

    The controls are very easy to grasp, and there are different amounts of clues depending on the difficulty you choose. There are three difficulties: Sleepwalker, Dreamer, and Dream Interpreter. Each difficulty has a different amount of clues available, and after activating a clue, you need to wait a certain time before being able to activate the next one. Judging from what the given explanations said about the different difficulties, there is not a difference in the puzzles themselves for each difficulty, it's only the amount of help you are given to solve the puzzle. I chose Sleepwalker (the easiest), and even then I had to refer to a walkthrough because I was thoroughly stuck. (However, puzzles are not my strong suit.) Due to this, it took me about seven hours to beat the game. There is a tutorial in the menu for you to get the basics down of the controls if you need it. As far as I can tell, though, it’s only accessible from the menu while you’re playing in a level, of which there are seventeen. However, you might want to watch out, as the game may randomly crash (it did for me once). However, it’ll probably only happen once or twice while the game is being played. There is also no Steam Cloud, so wherever you happen to be in the game is exclusive to the device you are on.

    Lucid Dream
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 85%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    When you launch Lucid Dream and play it for the first time, it will ask you to pick one of three save slots, as well as one of three difficulties (as mentioned above). The menu itself has buttons for options (but you can’t change screen ratio), as well as buttons for loading, starting a new game, and picking a level. When you beat Lucid Dream, there is no credits roll whatsoever, and there isn't one available in tha main menu either.

    The story of Lucid Dream is quite interesting, but I would not recommend letting younger kids play it, as there are dark undertones and some very suspenseful moments that younger kids wouldn’t be able to handle. But if you’re looking for a dark story-centric point-and-click adventure with lots of surrealism, then Lucid Dream is the game for you!

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Maize
    Developed by: Finish Line Games
    Published by: Finish Line Games
    Release date: September 11, 2017
    Available on: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for violence, blood and gore
    Price: $19.99

     

    Thank you Finish Line Games for sending us a review code!

    Maize was originally released for Windows in December of 2016. The reviews are very positive and with the quirky Monty Python style humor, I can see why. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users can now join in on this silly adventure.

    In Maize you start off in a corn field and are greeted by talking corn stalks that ask for your assistance. True to most adventure games, you’ll have to explore and collect items that will in come in handy later on in your journey. Most of the objects you collect are used relatively quickly, but the stale English muffin you find in the beginning of the game isn't used until the very end.

    Maize
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Probably one of the funniest adventure games I’ve played
    Weak Points: Dated visuals; saw a typo 
    Moral Warnings: There is some violence and a corpse that you get to loot; some language (d*mn, dumb*ss) and blaspheming

    The puzzles are out there at times, and thankfully, an online walkthrough guided me through some of the trickier ones. I never knew that a bent screw I found in an outhouse could be used to replace a missing fuse in the fuse box. There are lots of places to visit and literal mazes to go through. I’m thankful for the orange boxes that blockade areas that don’t need to be explored quite yet. Without those in place, I probably would have gotten lost more often.

    Exploring this abandoned farm/laboratory is half of the fun in this game. The sticky note arguments between Bob and Ted are absolutely hilarious and worth reading. Besides inventory items you’ll also be able to collect strange rocks, invoices, and random books to examine.

    I wasn’t fond of the nuclear reactor countdown maze, but I did enjoy exploring the rest of the world at my own pace. The visuals are a mixed bag as some of the textures are blurry and antiquated. Many areas, especially the indoor laboratories, look good though. The Unreal Engine powers this game though it’s not being fully utilized.

    Maize
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 2/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

     

    The audio is great, especially the voice acting for the corn stalks and your teddy bear companion, Vladdy. I’m thankful for the subtitles though I still didn’t understand what he was saying during his Russian outbursts. Vladdy’s two most commonly used words are stupid and idiot. Often times those words will be repeated within the same sentence. I did catch one misspelling of the word stupid.

    This game is rated Teen for violence, blood, and gore. I don’t recall much violence, but there is a dead body that you have to interact with and retrieve items from it. Towards the end of the game, there is some language including d*mn, dumb*ass, and the Lord’s name is taken in vain on multiple occasions.

    If you enjoy adventure games and goofy comedy, then Maize may be worth looking into if you don’t mind the language and blaspheming. There are seven chapters to complete and plenty of Xbox achievements to be earned in this $19.99 title.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
    Published by: Telltale Games
    Release Date: April, 18, 2017
    Available on: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS
    Genre: Adventure
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen: language, use of alcohol, violence.
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Telltale Games for sending us a review code.

    Well count me surprised, episode two of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series gave me quite an enjoyable ride. While the game still has flaws, TellTale has fans for a reason. I don't want to spoil the rest of the game at this point, so I'll review based on characters and how the story kept me interested. I may spill some minor spoilers, be warned now before you read on. Also keep in mind, anything I may say about the story is based on the choices I made.

    So the story itself is still full of pretty cut and dry comic tropes; good guys and bad guys fight over the Eternity Forge, an object that can bring back the dead but at a cost. While I understand episode one is used to set up the story, it was extremely boring. Thankfully episode 2 changed that rather quickly. This idea of seeing what you would do to bring back a loved one from the dead always seems to bring out the best and worst in characters. While I understand that TellTale is all about choices, this division between Rocket Raccoon and Gamora is frustrating.

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: At this point the story has greatly improved. Once again I am excited to play.
    Weak Points: This desire to pit Rocket and Gamora against one another is starting to get really annoying. The story also shows how loosely held the Guardians really are.
    Moral Warnings: Aside from usual comic violence, you do have to deal with an object that can basically let you “play god” by controlling who comes back to life and when.

    In the second episode once again the main choice that affects the rest of the story is either going with Rocket Raccoon to another planet in which you'll learn more of your past or going to stop Gamora’s sister Nebula right away. I get Drax is a simplistic character and Groot is a comic foil, yet I have barely paid attention to two Guardians and that's a problem. The drama seems to focus around a violent green woman and a heavily armed woodland creature being mediated by the big fancy jerk that is Peter Quill. Either story's side seems to have emotional moments and it does develop character. I chose Rocket's path to learn about his escape from a lab and losing the woman he fell in love with as a result. However, sacrificing development of one character doesn't make the choice any more meaningful, it makes the game a "Choose Your Own Adventure Book" you may or may not want to come back to later.

    Now the main plot itself is a little stronger than the individual storylines. It's not a unique story to be sure. Item that can bring back the dead, multiple groups are after it, it's a common basis for a story. I appreciate that, as of now, the Kree haven't made its goals completely clear. Also at this point in the story the Forge has led to other items that will be revealed next episode. As the preview said, “those things we found, they were not meant to be found.” I hope this means that more will be added to the stakes than just an object that can control life and death. The biggest stakes I'm waiting for is a bigger reason to care why the Guardians are having so much infighting; was Thanatos really all that held them together?

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    A few notes for readers, I want to save reviewing the crowd play part of the game for the last episode review. For those who don't know, crowd play allows a streaming audience to vote on the choices made in each episode. Also as I’ve said in my previous episode review for Guardians of the Galaxy, I will give each episode an individual score and then the final episode will be a score reflecting the entire package.

    With morality, the second episode is much darker and more violent than the first. Also the idea of controlling life via an ancient object may be too dark to some. As of right now a good age limit for this game is probably 14 and up.

    We are at episode 2 of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series and it definitely has improved. Let's keep going with these adventurers and see if it's worth following them.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
    Developer: Telltale Games
    Published by: Telltale Games
    Release Date: April 18, 2016
    Available on: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS
    Genre: Adventure
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen: language, use of alcohol, violence.
    Price: $ 24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Telltale Games for sending us a review code.

    Well, this is awkward isn't it? I never thought I would play a Telltale game, yet today that promise to myself is now officially broken. Since I will be reviewing the entire season of the Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy game I will have to review things differently. You don't have much exploration or gameplay action in these Telltale games. Story will definitely take precedence over other elements. I'll give each episode its own individual score and when the game releases its final episode I'll give it a final score. Hopefully some surprises are left because the first episode left a very poor impression. This is Episode One of Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy, Tangled Up In Blue.

    The game puts you in control of Peter Quill, aka “Star Lord”, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, chasing after the galactic tyrant Thanos. They must stop him from retrieving an artifact named the Eternity Forge. They eventually end his life in the battle for the Forge, and with the Guardians being celebrated as the best heroes in the Galaxy. Soon they begin to drift apart, feeling separate from one another now that they have no purpose. Without Thanos to hunt they have nothing left except to decide whether to give his body to the Nova Corps or the mysterious Collector. However once Quill receives visions of his mother, new parties become very interested in the Eternity Forge and its true power. The Guardians will have to put aside their issues to work together.

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: It at least looks good and the environment is a pleasing one for a Marvel game.
    Weak Points: This first episode was a boring one to be sure, the only meaningful choice was to be buddy buddy with the green alien woman or the talking raccoon.
    Moral Warnings: Expect the usual amount of comic shenanigans from over the top violence to a bit of language. This episode also has a heavy drinking party scene. 

    Now let me get this out of the way: this first episode was extremely boring and dry. The characters seem to be built around the movie versions over the comic versions. While that would be ok, they didn't do it right at all. The Guardians in the movie are full of life while the game counterparts are cut and dry. If I didn't read the comics or watch the movie, none of these characters would be memorable aside from Peter Quill. Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax and even Groot would be forgettable side characters that almost felt inconsequential. The choices didn't help this at all. Aside from deciding who to give Thanos’s corpse to, every other choice felt meaningless. If I took alternate decisions I feel I would only get alternate takes of the same cutscene. Even with the big choice, the only thing it really felt like it affected for now was whether Gamora and Rocket would like me more.

    As always with a Telltale game, expect gameplay to be minimal. You'll explore areas to learn about the world around you and see certain story points. Peter does have a device that allows him to see what happened in an area a few minutes before he arrived yet that didn't change any choice or dialogue option for me. You can use Peter’s rocket boots to change where he is at in certain locations but that's a scripted option. You can't have any really goofy fun with those boots.

    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 76%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    Any action you'll get from the game is in quicktime events only. Don't expect any complicated puzzles to impede progress either. Again, simple physical gameplay wouldn't be such a bad thing, only you have to have a good story to go with it. Right now I want to go read the comics instead or see the second movie. At least the game looks nice and the music is okay too.

    Concerning morality, expect the usual amount of comic book violence and swearing, with episode one I would give it a PG-13 rating at best. You won't have any blood or gory injuries but the violence is substantial enough to give it a warning. You'll get a bit of swearing as well. This episode also has a bar scene or two. Rocket is a bit greedy too; he wants to give a dangerous tyrant over to the collector simply for a better payday then what the Nova Corps offers.

    I am not ready to give up on this game yet but I will wait and see if it impresses me. This first episode hasn't left me excited for the next one that's for sure.  

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two
    Developed by: Telltale Games
    Published by; Telltale Games
    Release date: July 11, 2017
    Available on: Android, iOS, macOS, PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence and mild language
    Price: $24.99 for the entire series
    (Humble Store Link)

     

    Thank you Telltale Games for sending us a review code for the series!

    Like all Telltale adventure games, the choices you make will have consequences and can change the game significantly. When first starting your game, you’ll have the option of signing into Telltale’s servers and enabling cloud saves. If you are playing on the same platform as season one, you can import your choices and save file into season two.

    Most of the same cast returns in this adventure and some new characters are added as well. After all of the excitement from the previous season, Jesse has settled down in Beacon Town which is preparing for its annual Founding Day celebration. Radar is a nervous but helpful guy who can assist with managing the town in your absence as Petra is waiting for you and your friends to join her in an adventure. Unfortunately, your other friends have Founding Day preparations to make and decline joining this latest journey.

    Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good characters and storytelling; great voice acting; lots of interesting choices you can compare against after the credits
    Weak Points: Lots of quicktime events; easy puzzles; some confusing fighting sequences
    Moral Warnings: You’ll be fighting against some zombies and skeletons

    On your way to meet Petra, you’ll get to explore the town and meet its residents. There’s an opportunity to construct a statue for someone if you desire to do so. A couple of the town’s inhabitants include popular Minecraft/Youtube personalities like StacyPlays and Stampy Cat.

    Once you meet Petra she’ll be disappointed that you’re the only one to arrive. It’s up to you to cheer her up or to tell her to get over it. The adventure she has in mind is rather secretive and involves returning someone’s lost pet. When that journey is nearly completed, you stumble upon a gauntlet that’s whispering Jesse’s name. Touching the gauntlet gets it stuck to Jesse’s hand and now they must find out its origin and how to remove it. Sealing up the bottomless abyss around it is probably a good idea too.

    Like the previous games there are many enemies like spiders, zombies, and skeletons that will need to be dodged via quick time events and button presses. There are some puzzles to solve, but those were pretty easy. The only time I had to look for online assistance was finding a hint on how to kill the guardian statue. In case you’re curious you have to climb onto it from behind when it’s kneeling and stab it in its head. Needless to say, there is some fantasy violence in this series.

    Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    I was glad to find that there was no language in this entry. You have the option of selecting a name for the bottomless abyss and I chose the name “Heckmouth”. There are many choices to make throughout this episode and I was glad that there were options for being truthful and forgiving. (Yes, I chose them)

    True to the Minecraft style, the characters and environment look similar to the story-less game it’s based off of. The voice acting and sound effects are top notch too.

    So far I’m enjoying this new season and I look forward to the next episodes. Hopefully the rest of them are as kid friendly as this one. There will be five episodes which are broken down into six chapters apiece. You’ll earn a Steam achievement for each completed chapter and after the credits roll, you can compare your choices with everyone else’s. I was surprised to see that I made some unpopular decisions. I’m curious on how that will impact the rest of the second season for me.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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