Styx: Master of Shadows

styx-master-of-shadows-featured-image-1024x576

This may be the first time I’ve played as a goblin instead of killing them.

Styx: Master of Shadows was free to download on Playstation Network last month. Since then, I’ve sat down and played it for a handful of hours. I had no prior knowledge or experience with Of Orcs and Men, so I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into. Styx is a game for hardcore stealth fans. Not wannabes like me who play the Assassin’s Creed series and think that suffices.

I started off liking the game well enough. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t absolutely love it either. I made respectable progress, getting through the first couple of areas while the game slowly unravels the multitude of tricks and skills Styx has up his sleeves. I appreciate, and find a bit funny, a few of his human-killing methods. For example: Styx can puke in a bowl of fruit to poison and kill people. The animation is complete with green goop and sound effects to boot. Can’t say I’ve seen that before. The vomiting also lends credence to the game’s darker tones. Styx is vulgar, often proudly swearing between bouts of puking. As someone who never tires of gratuitous vulgarity, I was quite pleased.

As with many other video games, you can unlock skills to empower your character. Styx has otherwordly powers such as becoming invisible, vomiting up clones, and using Amber *cough* Eagle *cough* Vision to detect enemies and find hidden markers. These abilities are made possible through the use of Amber, the stimulant drug du jour in this world. Leveling up these amber abilities can only be done while at the hideout. This feature was the first turn off for me. I was only able to get to the hideout once the entire time I played. I’m the kind of person who can’t wait to burn points and get more powerful as soon as I can. Waiting until the game allowed me to in a game where you’re slowly trudging from point A to B because you can’t get seen just killed it for me.

Another turn off was the piss-poor battle system. I mean, I thought Assassin’s Creed was lazy with it, but now my eyes have been opened. At least in the AC series I can attack someone if I so choose. Styx is not so fortunate. If you make the mistake of catching a guard’s attention, prepare yourself: he, along with a dozen of  his friends who materialize out of nowhere, will gang up on you simultaneously. There’s no Gentleman’s Syndrome here, folks. They have no qualms with killing you while you’re stuck in a parry or kill animation. That’s all you can do, by the way: parry and kill. Every single fight is nothing more than determining your parry timing, and parrying however many times you have to until parry turns into kill. Then Styx knocks them to the ground, and while stabbing them to death, gets sliced up by their pissed off friend.

Yes, I understand this is a stealth game and combat should be avoided when necessary, but this is just ridiculous. Styx has all these neat tools to his disposal, so why can’t I use them during battle? I’d like the option to turn invisible and try sneaking off again (and seeing the guards crap themselves when I disappear into thin air). Or barfing up a clone to take some beatings while I pick one off. Or even puking up my poisonous vomit in their face while dueling. That’s the kind of dirty fighting Styx seems like he was made for. However, none of these creative devices that could make battles more interesting are even hinted at. Guess I’m just creative like that.

styx-master-of-shadows-screenshot-01

I never got far enough to unlock the Kill From Above-type skill.

None of these complaints are even what put the fork in the game for me. I was still content with continuing along, (rather slowly I might add, with all the hard saving and reloading I finally resorted to thanks to the not generous auto saves and guard ganking), until a peculiar thing happened. I was in the midst of a “Don’t get seen or you have to start over from the last checkpoint” section. Something I’ve become akin to thanks to Assassin’s Creed. So I figured, “Okay, time to be diligent about not triggering guards.” No biggie. But then I got a peculiar message. Something about a dead body being seen. Okay. Before I have time to react, the game reloads.

Really? A game over for a dead body being detected? Without giving the player time to backtrack and try doing something about said body? Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I had no idea that a dead guard I left behind who knows how long ago would become a death sentence. Obviously if I had known it’d be such a BFD I would’ve tried harder to stealth past him or do away with the body. There’s only so many closets and chests to hide them in. Sure, an NPC gives you vials of acid to destroy corpses with, but you only get a couple to carry you over until God knows when.

And that’s it. I was in the middle of trying to solve a puzzle involving using the clone to pass through metal gates and activate triggers when I kept “dying” due to carelessly leaving a dead guard behind. I tried reloading a previous save, but it didn’t erase my mistake.

Then Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris became available for free, thus putting Styx on the digital shelf to probably not be picked back up again.

If you’re hardcore into stealth games, or played Of Orcs and Men and enjoyed it, then I say go for this game. But for the rest of us, I wouldn’t really recommend it. Aside from Styx’s great voice acting and character, everything else was lackluster.

Advertisements

Telltale’s Game of Thrones, Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers

A-Nest-of-Vipers cover image2

Yep, he’s finally setting sail…

While a short episode, Episode 5 of Telltale Games’ Game of Thrones spin-off finally begins to move things forward to the grand finale and managed to get me pumped for the series again. Character arcs finally progress onward and the player finally gets to make a decision that seems like it’ll actually make a big splash in the narrative!

And, yeah, some characters die. The video game, like the HBO series and novels, always instigates a haunting “Who is going to die next?” voice repeating in my brain. Some deaths elicit glee and excitement, others sadness and dread. I felt a little bit of both this episode.

A-Nest-of-Vipers mira cersei

Being in Cersei’s shadow is never a good thing.

Mira’s portions of this game tend to annoy me. I know they’re necessary to reflect the large part of GoT’s universe that is the political power struggle realized through touchy conversations, eye shifting, and layering lies until you can’t remember what the truth is anymore; but truth be damned, because anything is better than getting on Cersei’s bad side! Through her usual style of manipulating and plotting, Cersei now has Mira in the palm of her hand, which I can only take to mean things will end very badly for Mira soon. She annoys me, so I hope she gets a good dose of Cersei revenge.

Mr. Tuttle isn’t having too much fun wandering the frozen expanses of the northern wilderness in pursuit of the mythical North Grove. Without spoiling too much here, I’ll only say there is a battle scene thrown in to spruce things up and he trudge on. Continue on and possibly die from hypothermia or get killed by winter zombies, versus turning back and probably get his head lopped off for desertion. The world is his oyster.

A-Nest-of-Vipers asher

Pretty boy’s gonna get his arse beat.

As usual, I had the most fun while playing with Asher and Beskha. That pair always find themselves  in hot water and solving differences at sword point. In Episode 5, Asher must prove his worth to the meandering pit fighters, now ex-slaves with no purpose but wanton violence. After reigning supreme in the pit, Asher gets himself an army to take back to Westeros. Yes, Asher FINALLY sails back home.

And it doesn’t take long for Asher to find more trouble. At least this time he is uniting with his Forrester family against the Whitehills. Unfortunately, Asher’s reunion with his family is short-lived before grief strikes yet again and the player is left to a difficult, and I’m hoping profound, choice.

I’m just going to leave it at that. You’re welcome.

Entwined

EntwinedCoverArt

So Pretty…

Entwinted was a free Playstation Plus download on the Playstation 3 for the month of July. I recalled the indie game being showcased at E3 last year. The style and colors were mesmerizing, and I told myself I would check the game out one day. About a year later I finally followed through. It was free, after all.

The concept behind Entwined is relatively simple. The player assists two star-crossed lovers; an orange fish and a blue bird, who somehow met and fell and love. Now, as you can imagine, they’re tragically separated for all of eternity and it is up to the player to assist them with uniting into a fancy green dragon every lifetime and liberating the creatures by drawing in the sky.

Don’t think too hard about that.

This translates into a simple, yet immersive, gaming experience to start. Entwinted is easy to pick up and play. The left half of the screen represents the fish’s realm, and the player is assigned the left analog stick to move the fish around it’s domain. Similarly, the right hand side and right analog stick are reserved for moving the bird. The player must navigate both avatars simultaneously to hit or move through their corresponding colors to fill their bars. At times there are green zones the fish and bird must enter together. Missing will cause the corresponding bar to deplete.

EntwintedGameplay

There are orbs to collect as well.

Once the fish and bird both have filled bars, they flash and you’re prompted to press L1 and R1 simultaneously to begin what I call the Unity Phase. Their bars link across the top of the screen, and each successful move will cause the bars to creep together until they are conjoined to create a green dragon. Then they’re free to spend the rest of that lifetime bonded in their love for each other, painting beautiful streams in the sky until the cycle is set to repeat and you get to do it all over again.

EntwintedDragon

Collect things as dragon. Because reasons.

Entwined clearly takes heavy inspiration from artsy-fartsy games like Journey and Flower created by thatgamecompany. And, to its credit, it does start off as enchanting as those titles, providing sufficient escapism. However, I felt like a lot of the charm with Journey, for example, was that I became so immersed I really forgot I was playing a video game. While playing Entwined, especially in the later Lifetimes, the difficulty is amped so I felt like I was constantly being pulled from the experience.

I know, I know: Get Good. My only problem was I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was doing wrong half the time. I can’t get better if I can’t identify what I’m doing incorrectly in the first place. Despite my glaring lack of self-reflection, I was able to beat the game in a little over an hour.

Overall, I did enjoy my time with Entwinted. The gorgeous aesthetics, impressive soundtrack, and easy to pick up controls entertained me for about an hour. Whether it is worth the full price tag ($10, I believe) isn’t for me to say. But free is the best price of all, and this is certainly an indie title worth checking out.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

finalfantasytype0cast

And this isn’t even the entire character roster!

Four months and forty hours later, I’ve finally completed a playthrough of FF Type-0! You know, the out-dated PSP game remastered for the PS4 retailers charged full price for? Ok, ok, it’s the promotional material for the playable FFXV demo that retailers charged us full price for. I’ve finished it and am ready to give my final impressions on it. (Wow, actually looking at how long it took me to play shows that I only played, on average, 10 hours a month of this game. Now I think I’m too depressed to finish this review.)

Just kidding.

While I’ve played this game start to finish, I can safely say I’ve really only witnessed a small percent of the actual content in Type-0. And it’s not even because I rushed through the content to get to the end. It’s actually because a good chunk of the scenes, story, and content are blocked until subsequent playthroughs. Yeah. In an RPG, PLOT POINTS aren’t revealed until after you’ve invested 30-40 hours of your life. I  mean, this isn’t a 10-hour action game that no one plays for the story,  this is a ROLE PLAYING GAME. Last I checked, the story and character development were kinda, like, essential. I was wrongfully under the impression that a lot of backstory and information was hidden in data logs due to the hardware restrictions of the PSP. This is partially true, but when I later read there are additional scenes in subsequent playthroughs that further detail what the hell is going on, I was beyond annoyed.

And about character development. In case you couldn’t tell from the above image, this game has a huge cast. Which is great when it comes to adding variety to the infinite grinding you can easily do in this game. But not so great if you’re looking for well-fleshed out characters. As a JRPG, they stuck with what JRPGs do best and recycled warn out caricatures. You’ve got a couple ditzy girls who talk like they’re 5 years old, a dumb oaf who says “yo” all the time, an insufferable know it all girl wearing glasses (one of my personal favorites), optimistic blow hard who holds the group together, a sickly girl accompanied by her friend-zoned childhood man crush who lives to keep her safe from harm, and so on. So unless a character plays an essential part in moving the bare-bones story development along, don’t expect to hear anything from them besides interjecting a predictable one-liner once every few cut-scenes.

We can blame the oversized cast on the setting for Type-0. The player controls all of Class Zero, which is basically a classroom of super soldiers who have an exceptional, and grizzly ability: they can suck the “Phantoma” from humans and other creatures. (Phantoma= soul, or life essence, if you will). As far as game mechanics go, Phantoma primarily serve as components to upgrade magic spells, which I liked well enough. It isn’t often that RPGs let you upgrade magic spells. But, for the life of me, I could never wrap my head around farming certain Phantoma. You see, there’s dozens of different types of the damn things, named after every shade of every color you could think of. Cyan, Ivory, Magenta, Cerulean, Chocobo Feather, Poop Stain, etc. I was under the impression that defeating an enemy with certain elements or abilities made them drop certain types, but then it looked like monsters would drop certain kinds, not based on how they were defeated. Long story short, I still have no idea and couldn’t be bothered to do research on it.

Just as Capcom arbitrarily decided Resident Evil fans no longer enjoyed tank controls, Square-Enix decided Final Fantasy fans suddenly stopped liking turn-based battles. Type-0 features my absolute favorite type of battle system: Controlling only one character at a time while completely relying on the AI to read your mind because there is absolutely no system in place to prioritize commands! I found myself annoyingly swapping to the mage or ranged attacker (You will ALWAYS want a ranged attacker in your party because the game likes to throw enemies at you that can’t be hit at melee range) just to get them to do something when my melee character was helpless against a flying birdie or mech. I think if I play this game again I’ll just control Ace or King ALL THE TIME to save myself the embarrassment of forgetting to bring a ranged person along.

Because if you’re careless enough to forget to bring a ranged person along (Or, gods forbid, don’t LIKE the playstyle) then you’re SOL. Type-0 does not allow for running from battle or swapping characters in your roster during battle. I will NEVER understand why swapping people out during fights didn’t become a staple after it’s amazing debut in Final Fantasy X. You’re forced to wait until a character is knocked out to replace them, and that’s only the people you brought along as back-ups. This is a non-issue while you’re wandering the world map or on a mission that allows you to bring the entire class. But some missions only allow a certain number of people, so if you screwed up you have to abandon the mission and start over.

There are many other developmental decisions with Type-0 that just left me scratching my head.

Like summons, for example.

finalfantasytype0shiva

That’s not a cheerleader, that’s Shiva.

Instead of being able to call a summon whenever you want, or have a certain amount of casts, Type-0 is much more restrictive. Summons can only be called during story missions after you’ve filled a stupid bar, thereby sacrificing the unfortunate student who called it. In Shiva’s case, she then takes the place of the character and starts skating around like an ice skater in the Special Olympics. It is almost as annoying as Shiva being a motorcycle in Final Fantasy XIII. In all honesty, I was so limited on summon use I forgot to take advantage when I was allowed, and didn’t get them leveled. Defeating enemies grants Class Zero and summons AP to level abilities, but it’s all done on an individual basis.

I can’t stress this enough. Because I’m not entirely sure how I was supposed to level up a summon when I was only allowed to call it a handful of times during the game. I guess I COULD have replayed the story missions from the main menu, but no thanks, they were boring enough the first time around.

I really, really hated how non-participating characters did not receive at least partial experience. In a game that gives you 14 playable characters, there really should have been more varied (and obvious) ways to gain levels. You can only have 3 people at a time, and can’t actively swap members if someone dies, AND, this is the kicker, the game wants you to swap them out during story missions (therefore losing out on precious EXP) for more AI named after the cast who developed the game. It’s called “SPP Support” and its the only way to unlock and purchase rare equipment in the game.

Really? So because the poor Battle Designer feels unappreciated, I have to sit through Professor Moogle spouting, “Here’s so-and-so from the s-and-so department” fifty times per mission. I mean, why would I want to use the 14 OTHER characters I assigned to be in my party for the mission so they could level up? So I could actually play them and learn their fighting style? So I could maybe remember what friggin’ abilities I equipped to who and what they even do?!

finalfantasytype0airship

Airship battles! Now there’s something new and innovative!

Another big gripe worth mentioning is the handling of side quests. Between missions, Class Zero is given free time to wander around and do whatever: Visit the Chocobo Ranch, pick up quests from teachers, other students at Akademia, or NPCs in cities spread across the World Map, or waste valuable time hearing the latest gossip for a throwaway item you’ll never use. I was partial to listening in on Mog’s lectures. Each lecture doles out permanent stat boosts! If you think wandering the world map, hopping from town to town and collecting quests is more your thing, beware: You can only accept one “Task” at a time!

That’s right! Who the hell needs quest logs? What’s the benefit of carrying multiple quests in your inventory to do when you see fit? Who needs quest indicators either? Those pesky symbols on the map get in the way of the beautiful scenery, after all. Ugh.

Do you think, when only playing this game on average one day a week, I had any hope of remembering where I saw an NPC that had the quest I wanted to do next? No way. Nor did I remember where the cities were, because those aren’t labeled on the world map either! At least old school games had dots on the World Map for reference. Then at least by process of elimination you could find a specific location. I thought my navigational issues would be resolved once I uncovered Setzer’s Airship (Yep, that Setzer). They weren’t. Because Type-0 is structured in a way that doesn’t give the player much of a sense of progression. In Final Fantasy games of yore, adventurers traveled outward from a starting point, visiting memorable locations and spreading across the map most of the time. Type-0, however, is all over the damn place, plopping you in random city after random city to fight waves of enemies until the mission is done and you’re thrown back to the academy to kill time until your next mission.

I feel like a lot of the wanderlust and enjoyment of RPGs is stripped when exploring and adventuring to stumble upon the next NPC you’re supposed to talk to to advance the plot, or trudging halfway through a cave you passed in your travels before wondering, “Is this where I’m supposed to be?” is replaced with, “Talk to your Commanding Officer when you’re ready to advance the plot.” Or, even better, “Talk to your Commanding Officer when you’ve exhausted all your free time and the game won’t allow you to leave Akademia.” No, the time restriction isn’t as awful as in Lightning Returns, but it shouldn’t exist. Period.

My frustrations are coming across so strongly because I felt like this game had great potential, but fell short because of multiple mind boggling decisions that I can’t believe anyone who has ever played an RPG in their life thought would be good ideas! And on top of ruining a decent battle system with a lot of stupidity, the story didn’t come close to scratching the surface. It began with more blood, violence and sobriety than probably any other Final Fantasy game. Then… didn’t really bother to develop on the potential at all.

In this world, once a person dies, the living forget them. This means that, certain circumstances aside, soldiers really ARE war fodder. The young get sent to die, and their families and peers will have no recollections of them unless they picked up their “Knowing Tag” which gives information, but doesn’t restore memories. Depressing, right? Imagine all the directions they could have gone with that! Instead, the whole concept sort of devolved into an abused scapegoat by the writers. More than once I heard someone say, “I can still remember them, so they must be alive!” Eye roll.

So much for even pretending to let the player wonder for a little while.

But don’t worry! Type-0 makes up for its general suckishness with overwhelming Final Fantasy nostalgia tugging at your heartstrings! There’s chocobo breeding! Moogles! An actual world map! Setzer’s Airship! And all the Final Fantasy monsters we love to hate!

finalfantasytype0malboro

Like this asshat Malboro.

When I first starting playing, I honestly liked this game more than I thought I would. Yet as the hours dragged on and I realized the game was intentionally holding me back to squeeze more gameplay hours and needless playthroughs out of me, I gave it far less leeway. I can’t grind for the sake of grinding nowadays, and I refuse to grind for the sake of a poorly written and executed game… Even if I will never get to fight eight-armed Gilgamesh.

Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell

Gatoutofhellcover

If there are purple wings in hell then I’m going there.

Steve-O and I enjoyed our time with Saints Row IV so much that we decided to extend our experience with the Gat Out of Hell expansion. At the time of purchase it was $19.99 on PSN. We figured $20 would be a fair price for 10-15 more hours of Saints Row over-the-top ridiculousness with the added bonus of playing as Johnny Gat in Hell going toe-to-toe against Satan. Thankfully we were not let down.

Things start off with the surviving gang celebrating Kinzie’s birthday. One of the geniuses decides it’d be a great idea to get out the Ouija board. Then things go straight to Hell. Literally.

gatoutofhellbirthdaycake

Even Zinyak gets invited to these things.

The main protagonist you created in Saint’s Row IV gets kidnapped, and Johnny heroically decides to save them. Kinzie comes onboard because reasons. Hey, it’s her birthday dammit, she can go to Hell if she wants to.

A cool feature we didn’t take advantage of is being able to choose to play as either Johnny or Kinzie. Steve-O and I didn’t know much about Johnny since we jumped on the Saints Row train on The Third, so it was fun to spend time with the SR veteran character. He’s all for pointless violence, and the DLC basically has you committing many of the same violent side missions as the main entry to fill your Satan “aggro meter” to draw his attention. These include Hell versions of some of our favorites like Tank Mayhem and insurance fraud.

One main feature, game play wise, that stands out from SRIV is the addition of flying. Johnny has ember wings and can soar to traverse the underworld and collect clusters for ability upgrades. This is way more frustrating than the awesome super-sprint. To me, flying is like swimming… I pretty much always hate how it works in video games. Unforunately, Gat Out of Hell’s flying mechanics are not as polished as they could be, leading to quite a bit of frustration if you plan on doing the mini-games that require some relatively precise flying skills.

As with most Saint’s Row games, I was astounded by the creative weapons we were given to play with. Seriously, developer creativity amazes me at times. Since you’re in Hell, you get weapons representing everything from demons to plagues. There’s even an armchair with machine guns for arm rests.

gat_out_of_hell_sword

This hot number is Uriel’s sword.

In Gat Out of Hell, we were treated to a lot of interesting surprises. The plot isn’t entirely complicated, but it throws in some super entertaining tidbits like musical numbers, cameo appearances from famous historical figures like William Shakespeare, and an exclusive peek into the Devil’s family drama. Satan’s daughter, Jezebel, is rebelling, and what better bad boy to fall for than our own Johnny Gat?

gatoutofhellsatan

Satan is pretty much how I expected… But still a lot of fun to watch and fight.

gatoutofhelljezebel

Disney-esque random outbursts into song never get old!

If you enjoyed Saint’s Row IV and need an excuse to visit the series’ wanton violence and over-the-top humor in the fiery pits of Hell, Gat Out of Hell has you covered. It’s $20, sure, but it has enough content to easily occupy a gamer for at least 10+ hours. We certainly didn’t regret diving into Hell to rescue our sociopath President!

Shena’s E3 Highlights

All the big press conferences and interesting events of E3 2015 are now over, and I’m still sorting in my head which games I’ll be scrambling to find the time to play next year! This year there were some announcements that excited me more than I care to admit, while others I sort of shrugged off, and some that made me happy for fans of franchises that I don’t necessarily follow.

Let me start by saying that I think Nintendo totally bombed their pre-recorded show. The puppets coming out at the beginning was cute and all, but they failed in using that Muppet-esque distraction as a decoy from their shoddy presentation. It started out with a new StarFox game. I’m glad for the people who have been begging for a new StarFox game for years, though it isn’t something that interests me. The gameplay will have to be amazing to win people over, because the graphics certainly aren’t doing it. Seriously, how embarrassing. After playing Bayonetta 2 and experiencing what the Wii U can put out graphically, it looks terrible. At least during SquareEnix’s conference they came out and said, “This demo was only in 30 FPS but the game will be 60,” to let the audience know if something is indeed downgraded because it’s a work in progress.

Nintendo had a super terrible 3DS multiplayer Metroid title… thing. I don’t even know, because they didn’t bother to go into detail on that even though fans have been BEGGING for a Metroid game for years. They did delve into the 3DS multiplayer/co-op Legend of Zelda game that NOBODY WANTS. But, you know, couldn’t go out of their way to show what they’ve been doing with the Zelda Wii U game they showcased a year ago.

With Fire Emblem off of my personal radar, Nintendo still had a few titles that I am looking forward to: Xenoblade Chronicles X, “Super” Mario Maker, and that 3DS Paper Mario meets Mario RPG game looks fun too.

e32015xenobladechroniclesx

I honestly don’t usually get excited about mech games!

Xenoblade Chronicles and Mario Maker got dates which makes me really happy…. December 4 and September 11, respectively. So that’s two E3 games from Nintendo being released before Christmas. I loved Xenoblade Chronicles, and really wish I had spent more time with the side quests and other optional content. Mario Maker looks like a great dose of fun creativity. I can’t wait to see the levels my fellow gamers develop that I will undoubtedly die 1,000 times on.

e32015supermariomaker

A goomba pyramid…. genius.

I also watched most of Sony’s press conference. The new IPs like Horizon and No Man’s Sky look pretty awesome. The Last Guardian made a lot of people happy, but I’ve gotten “Meh” about it after all of these years. The Final Fantasy VII reveal made me shed fangirl tears… Although now I’ve got my cynical glasses on, just waiting to see if SquareEnix is going to screw it up like they have everything else in the last decade. (Okay, except FF:RK. Srsly, it’s the best F2P game ever.) I know I’ll be playing it either way… whether they totally eff up the battle system and shoehorn in all the stupid FFVII compilation crap.

e32015ffviiremake

If nothing else, it will at least be pretty.

Unsurprisingly, there was also fun gameplay footage from the new Uncharted game. My hubby and I are looking forward to playing A Thief’s End, so the vehicle driving sequence with all the Drake/Sully banter kept us at the edge of our seats.

I’m shocked there was nothing God of War related at Sony’s event, but I suppose it is for the best.

Going back to SquareEnix. First E3 press conference ever. And it shows. Well, as a fan of JRPGs (growing up, anyway) some of what they showed did intrigue me. Especially that Kingdom Hearts mobile game that I’m positive NOBODY asked for. In all seriousness, I really liked what we saw of KH3 (still no release date time frame.. no kidding). The battle system looks as fun as the story is convoluted. At this point I don’t even know if I should recognize the characters playing chess in the trailer… Someone help me out here!

e32015kingdomhearts3

Seriously, who is this Rikku look-alike?

I haven’t played Just Cause games yet, but the third game looks like a lot of fun. I’ll have to do some research on them. Judging from the footage from Just Cause 3, I think I could get sucked into the sandbox carnage on display. There was also more FFVII (including an IOS port alongside the PC port), more Final Fantasy World or whatever the hell it is called, a new Nier project, more Deus Ex Machina, and the rather secretive Tokyo RPG project. Tokyo RPG project seems to exist to solidify their dedication to creating JRPGs.

I’ll admit my focus has shifted to Western RPGs in recent years. In the last year, the RPGs I enjoyed the most were probably South Park: The Stick of Truth and the Mass Effect trilogy (I didn’t start playing them until last year). And, I’m happy to announce… there were new games announced for both series! The new South Park game is titled “The Fractured But Whole.” Let that sink in.

While I am disappointed that no new details for Mass Effect were divulged outside of the title and release time frame, I’m still excited. While many might harp on my for wishing this… I was really hoping for a Mass Effect trilogy remaster. I need an excuse to play the trilogy again. The thought of slogging through the first Mass Effect in its current state pains me, but I can’t picture just picking up Mass Effect 2 from the start. I’m weird like that.

e32015andromeda

Bioware swears this is not Spiderman wearing N7 armor.

And those are pretty much all the games that I’m personally excited for. I’m jealous about Tomb Raider, but seeing as how it is a timed exclusive I suppose I’ll get over it. Hopefully Uncharted won’t come out too late and will scratch that itch for me.

What were your E3 highlights?

Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 4: Sons of Winter

SOW_Meereen_Art

I’m sure this city needs no introduction.

The latest in TTG’s Game of Thrones interactive series, Sons of Winter, picks up in some story lines and drags in others. Mira Forrester, the handmaiden to Lady Margaery who keeps finding herself in all sorts of King’s Landing gossipy troubles, was even more painful than usual to slog through. I should’ve enjoyed stickin’ it to the chubby jerk named Andros. He rightfully deserved the double-handed trickery I performed against him in the name of preserving the Forrester’s hand in ironwood trade. And yet, I was more than willing for her portions to end to get to the more action-oriented segments.

SOW_Daenerys_and_Viserion

Daenerys is definitely one of the best looking adaptations to her HBO counterpart.

Daenerys’ model is certainly one of the better looking ones. But what she was bestowed upon with beauty the writers took away in attitude. She’s got a stick up her butt or something… all bent outta shape over Drogon going missing. Yet for some reason I can’t discern (except to cause conflict for the sake of conflict) she refuses to believe Asher and company saw Drogon. And when I presented his tooth as proof, she got all defensive and stood by her poor baby when we described how he KILLED a bunch of people. It was all very contradictory to the Daenerys we know, who was guilt-stricken over her dragons eating children and CHAINED them up in dark seclusion.

As usual, Asher and Beska’s sequences are full of action. In this case, they are assisting The Mother of Dragons in taking over Meereen in return for acquiring an army to assist with the Forrester family’s Whitehill problem. There was a “stealthing through the streets of Meereen” portion (insert not-so-surprised gasp). Usually I hate stealth, with all its transparent tacked-on-because-every-game-needs-stealth-moments and OHKs. This wasn’t so bad. Easy, short, and to the point. I’m a bit concerned about potential ramifications over what I allowed Beska to do, defying orders and all, so we’ll see if it amounts to anything in Episode 5.

Garred Tuttle, our Castle Black token character, had a rather bland showing this episode. He, along with Cotter and Pyke, finally leave Castle Black behind in pursuit of the legendary North Grove. I was relatively disinterested until his cliffhanger at the end, when we’re introduced to a new character:

sonsofwinter1

Looks like she’s wearing a Daenerys wig.

I won’t spoil who she is, but suffice it to say, I’m curious to see how Garred’s story will progress moving forward. I’m hoping it gets the shot of adrenaline it needs.

And, at long last, the Forresters on the home front FINALLY start giving it back to the Whitehills. After tolerating Gryff the entire series thusfar, there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to beat his face in when I had the chance. Elaena, Rodrik’s betrothed in my game, finds her breaking point and is instrumental in assisting the Forresters in exacting revenge on the Whitehills.

Did I mention how much I love it when women in the GoT universe release their badassery?

I was a little worried when this dashing young man came walking in with my woman:

SOW_Giving_the_Order

Finally, some archers!

I almost thought she was going to say she was sick of all the drama and moved on with her life. Instead, I got a “Do you remember my brother?” And released a sigh of relief.

While it’s true this episode finally let me release some pent up aggression against the Whitehills, it still sets the stage for some interesting events forthcoming… I can’t help but feel all the advances I made are going to blow up in my face next episode. But hey, that’s all part of the allure when it comes to playing these sorts of games. And it wouldn’t be Game of Thrones if they didn’t pull the rug out from under me and kick me in the face a few times, would it?