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Game Info:

Blackguards 2
Developed by: Daedalic Entertainment
Published by: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Available on: PC, Mac
Genre: Turn based strategy, RPG
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $34.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Daedalic Entertainment for sending us this game to review!

Blackguards 2 is the sequel to the first game which was released in 2014.  Both games are 3D turn based strategy games with RPG elements for upgrading your party's skills, abilities, and weapons.  Since I have not played the original game, I wasn't familiar with the characters brought over from the previous entry.

This sequel begins with Cassia being tossed into prison and waiting to be thrown into the coliseum for entertaining the Kyrios/King.   In this dungeon there are corapia spiders that bite Cassia sealing one of two fates: madness or death.  After surviving in the dungeon longer than expected, the spiders venom starts to mess with Cassia's mind and deforms her once beautiful face.  Eventually the spiders stop tormenting Cassia and fight alongside her and assist her in making an escape out of the catacombs.  This is where you learn the basics in combat and party management.

Once she's free she must assemble an army of mercenaries and war hero friends.  Before these war heroes join her, she must prove she's a capable warrior and leader.    Battles in this game are turn based and characters are limited by how many steps they can make and can only move so far before losing their ability to attack as well.

Blackguards 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun strategy/RPG  game with side quests and a good story
Weak Points: Even on the easiest difficulty this game is very challenging; the mage is over powered
Moral Warnings: Violence; strong language; magic use

While attacking is crucial, using the environment is just as important if not more so.  By pressing V in a battle you can see what objects you can manipulate in each level.  You can destroy bridges while bad guys are still using them, or knock over crates and ledges  filled with stones over your enemies.  Some levels have areas that can only be accessed by switching levers in the proper sequence.  

The levels have different terms for victory too.  Some require that you defeat all of the enemies while others have an objective that has to be completed and enemies will keep spawning until that happens.  You do not get experience for defeating each enemy, but after a level is beaten, the party earns loot, money, and points to train new abilities.

Ability points can be spent on weapon proficiency, attack maneuvers, and spells.   Money earned from battles can buy new weapons, armor, potions, and traps.  You can also pay informants in towns for secrets that can unlock new quests and provide information that can help with prisoner interrogations.  

 

Blackguards 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 65%
Violence - 4.5/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Interrogating prisoners is a good way to get vital information and unlock side quests.  Before you begin an interrogation, save your game just in case you mess up.  You can have the mage lie to the prisoner, the dwarf threaten them, or Cassia can persuade them with an offer.  After you get what you need from the prisoner you can set them free or kill them.  There are Steam achievements available for freeing or killing them all.

If you choose to hang a prisoner,  you won't see the execution take place.  There is plenty of violence in the game's art and battle scenarios.  Magic is heavily used and the mages in this game are over powered in my opinion.  While you can leave the mage out and not train Cassia on how to use magic, you'll be hurting your chances for success if you don't use magic.  Some of the enemy mages/creators use necromancy to summon undead armies.  Last but not least, there's a lot of foul language and F bombs dropped in the dialogue.

The voice acting is well done and the characters are well developed and likable.  When you buy the game on Steam it comes with an art book, strategy guide, and sound track.  The soundtrack is playable in Steam's music player.  

You can find the art book and strategy guide in the game folder in your Steamapps\Common directory.  I highly recommend reading the strategy guide as this game is very challenging.  The artwork is well done and the levels are cleverly designed.  The monsters look intimidating and their movements are fluid.

Overall Blackguards 2 is a well polished, but tough strategy RPG.  I enjoyed the story and spent close to thirty hours playing this game before I beat it. It makes me curious about the original which is forty dollars compared to the thirty-five dollar asking price of the sequel.   Maybe I'll pick it up if it goes on sale.  

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Game Info:

Construction Simulator 2015 
Developed by: weltenbauer. Software Entwicklung
Published by: astragon Software, GmbH
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Available on: PC
Genre: Simulation
Number of Players: Up to four players online
ESRB Rating: Everyone|
Price: $29.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you astragon Software for sending us this game to review!

There are simulator games for almost everything these days.  What I don't understand are the work related ones.  Why come home from working all day to play games that are "virtual" work?  I don't get it.  Can somebody please explain this to me?

Construction Simulator 2015 aims to give you an authentic construction experience by letting you control fifteen different machines by name brands including Liebherr, Still, and MAN.   You'll get to drive around flatbed trucks, deposit tippers, forklifts, and excavators.  

When you first launch the game you get to choose your character.  As a female gamer I was disappointed to see no option for a female construction worker.  There's a several part tutorial mission to get used to running errands and familiarizing yourself with the different vehicle types and their controls.

The controls are surprisingly complex.  So much so that this game will be hard to grasp for younger boys that wish to emulate Bob the Builder.  When using the excavator you have to individually control each wheel.  If you're using the keyboard that means using the WASD keys and the arrow keys.  Fortunately, there is partial controller support and my wired Xbox 360 controller worked just fine.  Other controllers may not be supported.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Cloud saves and multiplayer support
Weak Points: Buggy and boring gameplay; complex controls
Moral Warnings: The game is family friendly, but there is no swear filter in place for online game play

After learning how to make a vehicle move, the next step is mastering how to operate it.   Some vehicles have multiple modes with separate controls for each (naturally).  I'm not sure what you need more of to master this game, practice or patience.  Interacting with objects is quite challenging and unfortunately, buggy.  

Graphically this game is decent, but some of the object interactions are not natural and the physics system is a bit wonky at times.  People don't seem to care or mind if you run them over or bump into other cars  on your way to pick up or drop off building materials.  

There will be plenty of errand/fetch quests and the suggested route will be highlighted on the circular map on the lower left hand side of the screen.  On my way to pick up materials for a job my 10,000 pound deposit tipper truck was rear ended by a little sedan.  Naturally, it was my truck that was tipped over and glitched out the remainder of my mission.  Thankfully you can restart at check points or cancel jobs as you see fit.  

 

Construction Simulator 2015
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 46%
Gameplay - 7/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 2/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

In fact, there is a Steam achievement for canceling the tutorial.  I find it humorous that there are steam achievements for playing for various lengths of time.  I earned the one hour achievement, but have no plans on picking  up this game to go for the five or ten hour achievements.  I just don't find this game fun whatsoever.

But for those that do enjoy it, there are over two hundred missions including jobs to build swimming pools, schools, and sports arenas.  After the tutorial is either completed or skipped, you can join or create multiplayer sessions where jobs can be finished as a team with up to four players. The couple of times I looked, the US region had an open server to join while Europe had quite a few ready to join.  I guess there's a demand for construction simulators across the pond.  

While Construction Simulator 2015 is family friendly, like any online capable game there is a possibility for naughty language online.  I didn't notice a swear filter in place when naming the multiplayer session.  

There is no voice acting in this game whatsoever.  All of the dialogue is text driven.  If the complex controls don't discourage getting this game for younger children, make sure they can at least read the dialogue so they can have a chance of understanding what to do in this game.  Even though I could read, I still didn't know what I was doing half of the time!  For what it's worth, sound effects were present and did the job nicely.

Construction Simulator is available on Steam for $29.99.  The reviews are mixed and many people complain about the multiplayer lag and various bugs.  The reviews on Amazon are even harsher and several of the users are demanding their money back.  If this game still piques your interest, I'd wait for a sale before buying it.

 

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Game Info:

Hand of Fate
Developed by: Defiant Development
Published by: Defiant Development
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux,  PS4 coming soon
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Price: $24.99

Thank you Defiant Development for sending us a review copy of this game!

Hand of Fate was successfully Kick Started in December of 2013.  While it can be described as a vivid 3D tabletop card game, it has just as much button smashing fighting as it does side quests.  Since the deck of cards changes with each round, it'll never play the same way twice.  

In the beginning you'll start off by playing the story mode which gradually gets harder as each boss and gate keeper is defeated.  Once you make it to the end, you'll be challenged by the card dealer who spent many years putting together this master deck of cards.  

There is also an endless card mode that can be unlocked after you defeat a few of the cards in the story mode.  In this mode whenever you go a level deeper, the dealer will throw in some challenging cards and/or curses into his deck just  to spite you.  Unlike story mode, you have no control over your deck of cards.


Thank you ZiggsT.V for doing this video review for us!

Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun mash-up of RPG card games, dungeon crawlers, and beat em' ups 
Weak Points: Since, the cards are random you may die right away or you may not
Moral Warnings: Violence, Magic use, Occult symbolism

There are two decks of cards that you can customize:  the equipment deck and the encounter deck. The equipment deck consists of weapons, shields, helmets, and armor that you have acquired throughout your adventures.    The encounter deck can include helpful friends, mazes, ambushes, and various side quests to keep the game play exciting.   Before you begin a single player challenge you have the option of letting the computer pick your deck, or customizing it yourself.

Once the deck is complete, it's time to challenge fate!  You begin each stage with starter equipment.  The only way to control your weapons or armor is to buy or acquire them through quests in which you'll be given the option to equip it then.    There's a wide variety of weapons and enchanted items to use.  

The card path is completely random and every move you make consumes one unit of food.  While you're carrying food, you'll be healed with every move you make.  If you don't have any food, you'll lose health points instead.  Food is precious and is often needed to receive a blessing from a priest or it can be used to calm down an angry mob of villagers coming your way.  Of course there is a chance to run or ignore them, but if you choose that route there is a chance of failure.  Many choices you make are determined by a card shuffling game which can be tricky to master when the odds are stacked against you.  

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

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 72%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 1/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Whenever you encounter enemies you're taken to a third person perspective where you must fight off a predetermined number (cards drawn by the dealer)  of enemies.  Using a gamepad is highly recommended for this game!  By mashing buttons you can attack, use special abilities, and block some (not all) oncoming attacks.   

The graphics are pretty good in this game and I like the wide variety of backdrops, fighting animations,  and finishing moves.  While this game isn't a gore fest, there is some light colored blood splattered as the attacks connect with their target.     Not all of the attacks are physical and there's quite a wide variety of elemental and magical enemies.  Magic is heavily used in this game and hard to avoid.  The card master's surroundings are very mystical and uses some witchcraft symbols like upright five pointed stars.

 I enjoyed the banter from the card master, though some of his phrases do get repetitive after a while.  The background music is well done and varies from minstrel strumming to Lord of the Rings caliber  battle music. 

Hand of Fate is a well polished card playing game that is both rewarding and challenging.  Because of the symbolism and magic used, this game may not be for everyone.  For those that don't mind that stuff, there is a lot of fun to be had here.  The asking price is $24.99 which is pretty reasonable given the infinite replayability.

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Game Info:

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Developed by: Pinkterton Road
Published by: Phoenix Online Studios
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Available on: PC, Mac
Genre: Adventure
ESRB Rating: Original version rated Teen
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $19.99

Thank you Phoenix Online Studios for sending us a copy of the game!

The original Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was released by Sierra in 1993 and had two sequels before the company went under.  I haven’t played the original, but it does have quite a following and hopes of more sequels with Pinkerton Road taking the helm.  I can see why - the story is good and the characters are believable despite being a bit shallow.  

Sins of the Fathers starts off with the main character, Gabriel, suffering from a nightmare regarding his family’s involvement in burning a witch decades ago.  His family line has suffered depression and mysterious deaths since.  This game takes place in the nineties in Gabriel's home town of New Orleans.  The newspapers report on several “Voodoo Murders” where the victims are found with their hearts missing.  Fortunately, Gabriel has a detective friend who gives him access to the case files in hope of giving him writing material for his upcoming book.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Captivating and mysterious story
Weak Points: While the graphics are updated from the original they are still dated and lack smooth movement/animation
Moral Warnings: Heavy occult themes; language; Gabriel is a womanizer and commits credit card fraud/identity theft

Cracking this case may solve two problems, one being the writer’s block and the other his nightmares.  In order to understand the murderer, he must understand voodoo first.  Like many adventure games, talking and exploring your surroundings are your keys to success.  There are lots of people to chat with and puzzles to solve.  Most of the puzzles make sense, but I had to look at a walkthrough for a couple of them.  I used a walkthrough from the original game and many of the puzzles are the same, but some changes have been made.    

This remake has new voice actors and improved graphics. The voice acting is good with the African accent (and sarcasm) of the narrator and Gabriel’s Southern drawl.   However the original voice acting was done by professionals including Michael Dorn, Mark Hamill, Leah Remini and Tim Curry. 

 

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

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 22%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10

Even though the graphics are improved over the original, they can use more fine-tuning.  I found the animations to be choppy and the models are not exactly cutting edge. Some of the objects run into each other or are incomplete.  The backdrops look good, but are recycled often.

There are ten days/chapters in this game and beating took me seven hours.  There are two endings with one being way better than the other.  Fortunately to see them both you just have to reload your last save and change your decision to save someone or not.  

In the first two days it’s apparent that Gabriel is a womanizer whose reputation precedes him.  Later in the game there's a confession scene where he admits to being with more than forty women.  There are some funny lines between him and his assistant as she doesn't approve of his womanizing.  His assistant helps him investigate and gives leads on the voodoo murder case.  The name of the case reveals two more moral issues, one being voodoo and the other being violence which should not come as a big surprise by now.  The voodoo references are very heavy in this game and you literally have to sit through a lecture about its origins.  The voodoo rituals are very bloody and there are scenes with human hearts being removed.  Lastly, there is a lot of foul language and blaspheming.  

Despite the mature and occult content, the story behind Gabriel Knight is intriguing. Especially with his family history and calling to ward off evil.  I'm curious how this series will move forward and if the remaining sequels will be remade as well.  Gog.com sells the original three games for $5.99 each and the 20th anniversary edition sells for $19.99 on Steam.  If you're curious about the game I highly recommend checking out the demo first!

 

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Game Info:

Pix the Cat
Developed by: Pastagames
Published by: Focus Home Interactive Release Date: October 7, 2014 (PSN), January 29, 2015 (PC)
Available on: PC, PS4, Vita
Genre: Arcade
Number of Players: Up to four players locally
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Price: $9.99

Thank you Pastagames for sending us this game to review!

Pix the cat is a fun combination of  two classic arcade games: Snake and Pac-Man.  Pix must race against the clock and gather duck eggs and then lead the ducklings to their drop off locations.  While the ducklings are following Pix, they form a tail that cannot be touched or there will be a severe score penalty.  

The score is crucial as it is used to unlock new game modes.  To ensure that you have the highest score possible, Pix has to be fast by preemptively turning and not bumping into walls to slow him (or her) down.    Also, all of the ducklings should be collected before dropping any of them off.  If any are dropped off before collecting them all, the remainder of the eggs will crack and your max combo (which impacts your score) will drop.

A perfect bonus is added to the score for completing a stage without dropping off a duckling too soon.  When the combo meter is maxed out, Pix will enter into a fever mode which lets him consume his enemies and earn lots of points for collecting and depositing ducklings.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun and challenging arcade mode; multiplayer is a blast
Weak Points: I'm not good enough to unlock any of the Steam achievements
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence, skull enemies

Every second counts in the arcade mode as you're trying to go deeper and deeper within the mazes.  There is no way to gain time, you can only lose it by making silly mistakes.  As you earn higher scores you can unlock new voices, stages, and game modes.      

Besides the arcade mode, you can unlock a Nostalgia mode where you have to collect a set number of ducklings and not trip over your tail or bump into a wall in the process.  The Laboratory mode provides one hundred lab experiment levels to see if you can figure your way out of them.  While you're not timed, the number of moves you have is limited.  Can Pix make it out in one piece?

The local multiplayer is a lot of fun and allows up to four players using the keyboard and gamepads.   The multiplayer arena is an all out battle to see who will be the last cat standing.  There are eggs to gobble up that are used as ammunition to fire at and temporarily immobilize your opponent.  When all of the eggs are consumed, rocket launcher eggs appear and whoever gets killed three times, loses.  

Pix the Cat
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 10/10
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

Gamepads are fully supported, but if you choose to use one, make sure it has a nice D-pad.  My Xbox 360 controller lacks in that department unfortunately.  The analog stick is not responsive enough for this game.  I found my keyboard to be the most accurate, but the least comfortable.  

The controls take a little adjusting to, but everything else is well polished.   The mazes are well thought out and quite challenging.  While the level design will remind many of Pac-Man, they are very colorful and flashy.  

Pix the cat looks and sounds like a discotheque with its dance/trance music.  The multiple voices offer both variety and funny dialogue.  At the end of your game you will be berated or congratulated based on your performance.   

Even though I'm a long ways off from challenging a top spot on the leader boards, I've enjoyed my time spent with Pix the cat.  If you don't mind a few skull enemies, this is a great family game that can enjoyed solo or in a group setting.  The price is a reasonable $9.99 and I recommend checking it out if you enjoy classic arcade games.   

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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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