Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review

Title: Curious Expedition

Genre: Adventure Game, Rogue Like

Developer: Maschinen-Mensch

Platform: PC, playable over Steam and also right in your web browser, stand-alone DRM free client coming soon

Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Retail Price: $14.99

Where to Buy: Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/358130/The_Curious_Expedition/ or Direct from the official website at http://curious-expedition.com/

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.

That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.

You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.

There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.

While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)

You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.

Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.

Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.

The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.

Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).

Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.

Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.

Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.

Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.

You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.

If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.

Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.

While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:

Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.

Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.

Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.

Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.

There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:

Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.

While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.

Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.

Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.

Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.

You can activate your combos each round.

For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.

If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.

Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.

Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.

Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.

Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.

Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.

Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.

Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.

Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You May Like Include Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC.

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things

I just did a guest post over on thenerdmentality.com regarding my thoughts on the PS3 game “Beyond Two Souls“.

Did you know this game has many things in common with the TV Series “Stranger Things”?

For example, both Beyond Two Souls and Stranger things focus on a young girl with strange powers. In both cases, they are raised by a government figure who at first treats the girl as if he was their father, in order to gain the girl’s trust and help her learn to use her powers. In both cases, the government uses the girl to open a portal to the other side which has unintended consequences of letting spirits cross over into this world. Also in both cases, the girl runs away, only to be hunted relentlessly by the government throughout both stories.

As for the actual gameplay, story, graphics, and soundtrack itself, and how it compares to Quantic Dream’s other games such as Heavy Rain, why not head over to thenerdmentality.com and check out my full review of Beyond Two Souls.

Thank you to the nerd mentality for letting me guest post for you guys, and thank all of you readers for looking!

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

5 Best Anime Games of 2016

5 Best Anime Games of 2016

Continuing the long standing tradition of converting shows and comics into video games (or vice versa), 2016 has delivered us a slew of very decent games. Compared to their predecessors, these games have come a long way from the old days when Bandai meant a relatively short and generic gameplay experience.

But enough stalling; you came here for a list of great games, and here it is! Just be sure you’ve got the right console to play on.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

If you’re into fighting games and follow the Naruto universe, this one is definitely for you. Continuing the visually flamboyant style of the previous Ninja Storm games (as well as the absurdly long title conventions), Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 offers a vast selection of characters from the series and a quick way to catch up on the story if you haven’t been following.

As with the last installments, the gameplay takes place in a 3D arena using a fighter style system. The controls are relatively basic, being nearly identical between each of the characters, but with differences more pronounced in character speed and in visual showoffs.

Much like Marvel vs. Capcom titles, you can choose more than one hero at a time and pair their attacks together for varying combinations. Overall, it’s a satisfying title and one you won’t want to miss if you enjoy fighters, Naruto, or both.

Digimon: Cyber Sleuth

We never expected to see another Digimon game, but here it is in all its shining glory. Digimon: Cyber Sleuth is an RPG that features turned based team combat and mixes elements of mystery solving and monster collecting.

While it may not be breaking into any new territory, what seems to really set this Digimon installment apart is the plot. Despite some of the usual oddities in translation, the story is genuinely well put together with lots of laughs and an unexpectedly adult-oriented depiction of moral ambiguity.

Unlike other monster collectors, adding Digimon to your collection is as simple as just battling. There aren’t any involved capture mechanics, so if you’re looking for something a little simpler, this should do the trick.

We recommend this one for anyone that enjoys sitting down to a good old JRPG plot. Just don’t be surprised if you find it a cut above the usual in the story department.

One Piece: Burning Blood

If it seems like a lot of anime games are fighting games, that’s because it’s largely true. One Piece: Burning Blood is no exception to that rule, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Faithful to the show’s plot (particularly in the visuals), the game incorporates mechanics into battle not seen in most arena style fighters.

Perhaps one of the most unique game elements is the introduction of Logia type devil fruit powers and Haki. Characters can access their special abilities with a button press and just like in the show, they’ll gain the benefits (for instance Logia types being immune to regular attacks or being able to physically pass through characters).

Although the controls could stand to be a tad more responsive, the game is gorgeous. And for what it’s worth, the lack of game balance seems to fit the character of the show fairly well, considering how characters such as Nami are compared to Doflamingo. Give this one a try if you’re a One Piece fan.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

After the success of the first Dragon Ball Xenoverse and in company with the ongoing Dragon Ball Super series, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 takes what made the first title good and runs with it by introducing new types of character customization and abilities and just generally looking nicer.

For those who don’t know, Xenoverse incorporates certain elements of MMO-type games, so expect to do a lot of your play online. Maybe consider picking yourself up a Virtual Private Network service if you’re looking to feel a bit more secure, as it can keep your internet connection safe and encrypted.

Otherwise, it’s an interesting mix of fighting game and RPG. Battles consist of arena style fights, but there’s also world exploration, questing, and character development to keep you busy. In the meantime, there’s also a plot going on that focuses on time travel and allows you to relive some of the more memorable moments from the show.

While we don’t expect Xenoverse will have the same staying power as some of the larger MMOs, that isn’t the goal; online play is largely supplemental to the main game and serves more to give you an opportunity to play with other people without the effort of calling friends over to sit down and play.

Pokémon Sun/Moon

We may be cheating a little with this one considering that the Pokémon anime is based on the games and not the other way around, but how could we not mention such a great game!? Pokémon Sun and Moon add to the franchise what so many of us have been hoping for since 3D started to become a part of the franchise: a nicer looking game.

While building on many of the series’ classic elements by adding new Pokémon and moves, Sun/Moon also adds regional variations to already existing Pokémon, such as the Ice/Steel version of Sandshrew or the Grass/Dragon version of Exeggutor.

Online play has also changed quite a bit with the introduction of the Plaza, where you can meet other players and challenge them to battles or ask for trades. In true Nintendo tradition, it’s also a bit slower and less convenient than we’d like, but it’s functional enough for what it tries to do.

Fortunately for new players, the game’s main story continues to be relatively easy, but thankfully Nintendo has also seen fit to add a considerably harder postgame. Did we mention that Pokémon Snap elements have returned? Get ready to snap some photos!

And stay tuned—rumor has it that the third game version of the Sun/Moon series will be released for Nintendo’s new console, the Switch. We’re waiting with anticipation!

About the Author: Faith has a personal interest in all things anime, particularly when it comes together with video games. She’s also an cybersecurity blogger, focusing her writing on helping users and businesses avoid hackers and malware.

5 Best Anime Games of 2016 was originally published on

Cosmic Spacehead Retro Sega Genesis Videogame Review

Title: Cosmic Spacehead

Genre: Point and Click / Puzzle Solving

Release Date: 1993

Platform: (For this Review) Sega Genesis (there were also other versions including NES and Gamegear).

Developer: Codemasters

Where to Buy:    //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=anisug-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000035XIP&asins=B000035XIP&linkId=b422bee0e032003554dbe40667f760aa&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

 

Geeky:  4/5 – High marks here for the graphics and production values, losing a point for the sometimes challenging/frustrating puzzles as well as challenging platform minigames which create more frustration than enjoyment at times.

Sweetie:  4/5 – High marks here for charm and whimsy – losing a point for weak story and lack of replay value

Concept: 8/10 This is a very cute and cheeky point and click puzzle solving adventure game with a lot of humor and mischief. It also had amazing graphics for its time and technical limitations back in the early 90s. What I like about Cosmic Spacehead is how colorful and detailed the game world is and how it mixes sometimes crude and adult humor into a rather childlike game setting. However, the story is pretty “out there” and if you’re wanting anything serious or emotional or thought provoking this game is not for you :). But if you’re looking for something “different” or just simply “fun” you should check this game out.

Gameplay: 7/10 The 90s was the hay-days for point and click adventure games, however, Cosmic Spacehead takes a slightly different approach to the genre by also combining different game mechanics in the form of dozens of fun minigames, from platforming, side scrolling, even racing. These cute and fun minigames helped breakup some of the tedium which often plagued other point-n-click games of the 90s. Aside from the minigames, the controls in Cosmic Spacehead are your typical run of the mill point-n-click fare. You explore different locations, examine objects, pick up and use objects, talk to various characters, and solve puzzles to continue on your journey.

One of the pitfalls in the gameplay is that many of the puzzles make no logical sense and leave you backtracking or just spending hours via trial and error which takes some of the fun out of the game. There’s also not a large number of puzzles, so assuming you do not get stuck, you can easily complete this game within a few hours.

At the end of each level, you’ll encounter a mario-style platform minigame which is often criticized for being extremely challenging as if you get hit or miss a jump it’s instant death.

Still, it’s the experience of playing a virtual cartoon and enjoying the humor along the way which makes the game so much fun and unique. In an era of a lot of “sameness” this little game was brave enough to be different. It didn’t always pan out, but taking risks, is worth a few brownie points in my opinion. Cosmic Spacehead is a game that wants to make you smile. And it does that very well. It may have been a parody or attempt to mock the success of point and click adventure games at large. Nothing about this game takes itself very seriously.

Story: 5/10 You are Cosmic Spacehead, and you’ve just returned from discovering an ancient forgotten planet called Earth. However, when you get back home, no one seems to believe your story. To make matters worse, you’re dirt poor and have no way to get back to Earth to prove everyone wrong.  To remedy this, you begin to carry out errands and odd jobs which leads to earning in-game currency and puts you closer to your goal to prove Earth exists. The story like everything else in the game is very light hearted and has a tongue and cheek style of humor which may appeal more to adults than young kids despite the simplistic gameplay. Although the story is zany and bright, there’s just not much substance to it to merit giving it a higher score. It’s a fun and enjoyable experience, but not amazing by any means. The story definitely takes a back seat to the gameplay here.

Characters: 7/10 – Although there are few characters in number, they are very unique and memorable. The humor and colorful graphics helps to endear anyone friend or foe that you meet along your travels.

Graphics: 10/10 – One of the best looking games on the Genesis. The world is bright and colorful and animated to help bring the characters to life. It’s a playful and vibrant world and is one of the most charming games you’ll see on this system.

Music: 7/10 – The music in cosmic spacehead is bright and bold and strangely addicting. It helps set the futuristic theme and like the story itself, it keeps an upbeat and sometimes unexpected tempo that seems to fit the game world quite well.

Replay Value: 3/10  – The game is short and linear. However, there’s really no other game like it, and it’s worth replaying just to revisit the colorful worlds and characters. Once you know the puzzles though, replaying games such as this becomes not nearly as fun, therefore, I recommend waiting a few years between replays, so you might forget some of the solutions along the way and get to have fun solving them again – well fun, or hours of frustration – either way, Cosmic Spacehead is a really quirky and cute game that you’ll want to revisit at least once again for nostalgia’s sake.

Overall: 55/80 69%  D+ “Average Game for Girls” – While this is my objective review, I’d still recommend this game anyways – it’s short and sweet, and cute and whimsical enough that it really should be considered a must play as it’s oddly addictive and endearing in so many ways.

Cosmic Spacehead Retro Sega Genesis Videogame Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Talos Principle Game Review

Title: Talos Principle

Release Date: 2014

Genre: Puzzle Solving

Developer: Croteam

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Platform: PC, Mac, or Linux, also available on PS4 and Android

Where to Buy:  //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=anisug-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00S6HVSV4&asins=B00S6HVSV4&linkId=020416e3c6f3b68524d6a493a265277f&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 4/5 

Concept: 8/10 Many people have compared this game to Myst, but not me. In my opinion, this game is much closer to Portal than it will ever be to Myst. The nature of the puzzles, at least in the first many, many hours of the game bears a striking resemblance to the gameplay in Portal. It’s also these early hours in which I feel the game begins to fall apart, because the puzzles become so much the “same” throughout the first several “worlds” that you explore. However, looking past the often tedious gameplay, this game has a truly amazing story, especially if like myself, you’re fascinated by the philosophical and ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence.

Gameplay: 6/10 The gameplay in Talos Principle consists of solving more than 100 puzzles. The problem is that probably more than half of those puzzles are so similar that once you’ve solved one, you can easily solve the others. It doesn’t really challenge or require much thinking, which sort of defeats the appeal of a “puzzle solving game”. For example, the first 3 or 4 worlds you will enter consist of puzzles which require you to pick up “jammers” and activate these devices in order to shut down orbs (which travel a predictable patch), or turrets which are firing at you, or use the jammers to open and close gates. Sometimes you’ll only have one or two jammers and 5 or 6 obstacles that need cleared, but it’s still not too challenging once you figure out the patterns and what to expect. Later levels tend to add a few more elements into the puzzles such as letting you climb ontop of boxes, or fling yourself across different areas. However, overall, for there being 120 puzzles, these puzzles lack variety. It wouldn’t matter if there were 50 puzzles or 500 puzzles, if they’re all similar, where’s the fun in that?

However, the game is not without merit, it does feature an extensive open world and for the most part allows you to travel freely (aside from some areas which require key items from other areas first) and solve or return to different puzzles at your own pace. This game does not hold your hand. In fact, that’s part of the charm and it works for creating immersion in this case. You awake into the world with the same knowledge as the main character (which is knowing nothing at all). You begin to piece together what is happening in the world at the same rate as the character himself. In this aspect, it almost becomes a psychological experience, and that I feel, is really the point in playing this game, and not the rather dull puzzles themselves.

Exploration is also another highlight of the gameplay as you travel through multiple worlds you will find clues left behind by other people before you and also clues about your own existence. But it’s up to you to read and explore and interact with every object, every nook and cranny, and complete every world and puzzle.

Story: 10/10 – Story is where the game shines, but it’s up to you to seek this story out. Often times, it’s not what the narrator says, but instead told through files in a corrupt computer system or found by scanning “QR codes” on walls or hidden locations throughout the world. The story itself is about the difference (or sometimes lack there-of) of man vs machine. At what point (if any) does artificial intelligence become “human” – what does it mean to be “human”? The story is told in cryptic bits and pieces and leaves you wanting to explore more and play more to figure things out. Often these are clues left behind by the creators of the AI system, and at other times, they are legends and mythos from ancient times about gods who were made of stone or metal but none the less had characteristics of man. The story also focuses on creation and how man can become a god, by creating AI and AI worlds. And then, what would happen if that AI also went on to create its own worlds and own creations. It’s a very deep and thought provoking story. I’ve always been fascinated by artificial intelligence and these questions that it brings. I would recommend playing this game, despite the slow and tedious gameplay, simply because of this story, but only if you are the type who likes exploration and uncovering these clues yourself. This game handfeeds you nothing. But for those willing to put in the effort, the game is full of rich history, lore, and an emotionally deep story.

Characters: 7/10 – Largely, you are the only character present, though other characters are hinted at from an early point and on throughout the game, including your creators, and even a “god” like figure. You can find emails and recorded messages from these characters and look up project information which details their role in the creation of the AI system. Despite there being a lot of details about these people – largely, this is a solo experience, and therefore character interaction or development is not a highlight here.

Graphics: 5/10 – I don’t see anything that special here. And as with a lot of the puzzles being similar, a lot of assets get re-used multiple times. It’s not very visually appealing or interesting in my opinion. Though there are many worlds, they all largely look the same. This game tries to be large and exciting, but just kinda falls flat in a lot of areas due to repetition.

Music: 6/10 – The soundtrack has a lot of ambient sounds and some key music pieces, but none of them are that impressive or memorable.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – The voice acting is actually really solid in this game which is a big plus. There are not many scenes which are voiced, but it is a nice touch.

Replay Value: 9/10 – There are actually three different endings in Talos Principle, but once you’ve solved most of the psychological questions and encountered most of the story elements, it makes it less enjoyable to replay this game on multiple attempts.

Overall: 70/100 70% C- “Good Game for Girls”

 

Talos Principle Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Broken Age – Point and Click Adventure Game for PC – Review and Giveaway

Our new alternate winner is Ccaminha – Congrats, an email will be going out shortly to inform you of your prize. Please reply to that email letting me know you’re interested and I will send over the key.

EDIT: TatsuKaji never claimed his prize, so we will hold another drawing for an alternate winner sometime this weekend (Approx 3/20/16).

We’ve gained a lot of members since announcing this contest, so anyone that posts between now and Sunday will go into the drawing. :)

EDIT: The contest is now over. Congratulations to TatsuKaji – please check your email and reply back to receive your free steam key. If you’re not interested, or already have the game, please also reply back so I can draw an alternate winner. – If I don’t hear back within a week I will draw another random winner.

 

Title: Broken Age

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game

Platform: PC

Release Date: January 2014

Where to Buy: Steam

Geeky: 3/5

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall: 74 / 90 82% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 – The Point and Click genre was really popular back in the 90s, but then it just faded away. In a record breaking kickstarter, Tim Schafer, creator of other Point and Click titles such as Grim Fandango, Psyhconauts,  and the Secret of Monkey Island, successfully funded his return to gaming by reaching his kickstarter goals for Broken Age, his first new game in over 16 years.

Broken Age was hyped that it was supposed to revitalize the genre and bring it into the modern age. Most critics say that it fell short of it’s expectations – however, I really enjoyed this game.

Gameplay: 8/10 It features cute story book styled graphics and typical point and click game mechanics. Interact with your environment, solve puzzles, talk to NPCs etc. The puzzles are challenging and thought provoking and you want to keep playing because of the cute characters and story. However some of the puzzles can be frustrating at times and there will be times when you spend time just using every  item or talking to every NPC and back tracking back through places trying to find if you’ve missed something. This can sometimes take away from the fun and screw with the pacing of the game, but it’s much better and much preferred than a game in which the puzzles are too simple.

Story: 7/10 There are two games in one essentially as you switch control between the different characters freely throughout the game.  In one world you’re in a very primitive like setting where the people believe in offering tribute to monster-like “gods”. In the other world you’re in a scifi setting, in a spaceship with robots. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’ll keep it brief / vague. The story is very cute, in some points it has child like innocence but it’s always tinged with a deep sad and lonely feeling. At first the story doesn’t seem connected, but the more you play, the more things fall into place. It can sometimes be annoying when the story progression is held up when you get stuck on a challenging puzzle. Also for over a year, the game was incomplete, Chapter 2 did not release until April 2015. It is provided for free and is not DLC. However, since when many of us first played the game, we were left waiting with an open-ending for what seemed like much too long. My biggest complaint with the story is simply that it can be jarring switching between worlds/stories. Still I loved solving all the mysteries and how slowly and carefully the story was revealed.

Characters: 10/10 In the primitive world you play a very strong willed African-american girl which is a refreshing choice of characters as minorities and females are often under-represented or relegated to mere sidekick status and rarely ever appear as the main hero. She challenges the beliefs and ways of her people. She dares to ask questions and be different

In the space world, you play a lonely little boy who is fed up with his mundane routine boring life. While the ship provides him with toys, food, and even a “mother” and “father” figure, it is no replacement for human interaction. It also tries too hard to protect and keep him save, never letting him “Grow up” or take risks or challenges for himself. It’s like he lives in a bubble where everything is the same, day in day out. Until one day when he finds a hidden door in the ship which leads him to new worlds.

Graphics: 10/10 The graphics are really unique and cute. Everything looks handpainted or like it came from a storybook or “pop-up” book or like “paper craft” or scrapbooking. I liked this approach because you don’t see it often in games.

Music: 10/10 The music is composed by Peter McConnell who also did the music for Psychonauts. It features a beautiful score with soft melodic harmonies which fit well the cute/childlike graphics. Critics have called this some of Peter’s best work. I really like how light and “airy” the tracks sound full of violins, flutes, clarinets, cellos, etc. It almost sounds “dreamlike” in a way, or like a fairytale. I also like how both the music and the graphics juxtapose themselves against a story which seems fairly childlike but is tinged with sadness and isolation.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – No expense was spared for the casting of this game. It features big budget hollywood actors such as Jack Black, Elijah Wood, and talented voice over artist Masasa Moyo.

Replay Value: 1/10 Given the nature of this game, I’m not saying, I’d never ever replay it… but certainly it would diminish the enjoyment of the game on multiple playthroughs since you’d know all of the answers to the puzzles and already know the plot and story. Since it’s a linear and also fairly large and lengthy game, I’d say it’s one you’d visit maybe once every 5 to 10 years for nostalgia’s sake but beyond that I don’t see much replay value here.

Overall: 74 / 90 82% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

And we are giving away a FREE Steam key for Broken Age to one of our lucky readers. This contest begins now 2/27/2016 and will end on 3/5/2016. To enter simply leave a comment on any blog or forum post. Make sure you have a valid email tied to your username as I will be using that email to send the key to the winner. I will also post winner’s name to this post no later than 3/6/2016. Thank you and goodluck!

*By providing your email, you will also receive one email each saturday with a summary of posts. I never put ads or any garbage in the emails and only send new post summarys for that week. I also never sell your email. You can also unsubscribe at any time by clicking unsubscribe from the email.

Broken Age – Point and Click Adventure Game for PC – Review and Giveaway was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Azure Dreams – RogueLike Dungeon Crawler with Dating Sim, City Building, and Pokemon Style Gameplay | Retro Game Review | Playstation | 90s | Cute Anime RPG

Title: Azure Dreams

Publisher: Konami

Release Date: 1997

Platforms: Playstation 1, and Gameboy Color. Note that the Gameboy Color version is widely different and not as good as the PS1 version, for example the Gameboy version removed all of the dating sim elements from the game. I really recommend playing the original PS1 version.

Where to Buy: Unfortunately it’s very old and hard to find, at time of this review there is one copy left on amazon, being sold for $150+ Keep your eyes on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Azure-Dreams-Pc/dp/B00000DMAP 

You can also check out the reviews there and see for yourself that this is a great game.

I wish Konami would release this game on the Playstation Store. I’d buy it in an instant even though I still have my PS1 disc. (darn lack of backwards compatibility). (plus I greatly prefer digital distribution anyways).

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Azure Dreams was one of my favorite games growing up. In fact, I still find myself playing it, almost 20 years later. It’s an addictive game with very high replay value because it offers a lot of choice to the player in how they want to focus their time within the game. And because it’s procedurally generated, it also offers a wide variety in terms of level design and challenges to the player as well.

Gameplay: 10/10 The main gameplay elements focus on entering the “Monster Tower” to search for treasure. Within the tower, you can also find Monster Eggs which you can bring home to hatch into familiars which you can train and take with you the next time you enter the dungeon. But outside of the dungeon is where the game really shines. You can invest into rebuilding the town and as you do so, new characters, new shops, and new mini games will open up to you. You can buy new buildings, or furniture, or decorations for the buildings as well. You can also spend time conversing with the people in the town, and form relationships with one of 7 cute girls which will slightly alter various storyline elements throughout the game.

Storyline: 6/10 Admittedly, the story takes a backseat to the gameplay. It’s a pretty simplistic story about a boy whose father disappeared when the boy was young. His father was a famous monster tamer, and now on the player’s 15th birthday, he too has been granted permission to enter the tower and follow his father’s footsteps. He hopes to find clues to his father’s disappearance while searching for treasure.

Characters: 6/10 The player character is intentionally kept as a blank slate to immerse yourself into his shoes, which is not uncommon with rpg games or dating sims. He has a little sister who helps take care of her sometimes irresponsible big brother. Your first familiar is a cute lil blue chubby dragon looking guy named Kewne. He will be your guide as you begin the game. Some other town residents include a rival boy named Ghosh, his little sister, Selfi who’s training to be a sorcerer, there’s also your childhood friend, named Nico, an item shop owner named Fur, a Waitress named Patty, a Librarian named Mia, A sick young girl named Cheri, and a traveling performer named Vivian.  Some of the girls are cute and endearing, others are outright annoying. Most are common tropes and archetypes from anime and JRPGs and not terribly original or interesting.

Graphics: 7/10 – while the monsters are cute, and the 90 level procedurally generated tower offers some variety, a lot of the game looks and feels “grainy” due to poor textures. I’m also not crazy about the character designs, but if you look at anime from the mid to late 90s, this style is very popular.

Music: 8/10 The music is composed by Hiroshi Tamawari who also (was one of the ones who) composed the music in Suikoden. If you like the Suikoden soundtrack, chances are you’ll also like the music in Azure Dreams as it’s has his same style.

Voice Acting: 1/10 The original Japanese version was fully voiced, however, that is not the case of the US version. It makes me sad that costs had to be cut in this area.

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

If you like this game, I also think you would like Time Stalkers (also known as Climax Landers), another City Building Dungeon Crawler game which is part of the Land Stalker and Alundra game series. Other people have compared Azure Dreams to Mysterious Dungeon but I have not played Mysterious Dungeon yet myself to be able to back that claim.

Azure Dreams – RogueLike Dungeon Crawler with Dating Sim, City Building, and Pokemon Style Gameplay | Retro Game Review | Playstation | 90s | Cute Anime RPG was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Unrest | Indie PC Game | Review | Multiple Endings and Branching Plot

Title: Unrest

Genre: RPG with Point and Click, Adventure Game, and Visual Novel Elements

Publishers: Pyrodactyl Games and Kiss LTD

Platform: PC

Release Date: July, 2014

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

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Concept: 10/10 Unrest is a different experience each time you play. The game jumps from perspective to perspective multiple times throughout the game, and it appears to be random each time. Sometimes you’re a human, other times a naga, sometimes a male, other times female, sometimes in power, sometimes oppressed, sometimes violent, sometimes a pacifist, sometimes good, sometimes corrupt, etc. But each time, you spend a few hours in the shoes of one of the many many different characters of this game. The choices you make do have consequences and do matter. It’s very unique. I highly recommend this game.

Story: 10/10 The story in Unrest is also random at times, since you’re thrown from one point of view to another, and even starting a new game, you may begin as a different person in a different part of the world, there’s no way to tell.

I’ll tell you about my experiences with the game and the story that unfolded for me.

In my first playthrough I began life as a poor toy maker’s daughter in a very rural and poverty stricken kingdom, with barely enough food to eat and too many bills to pay. My parents in the game want me to marry into a family with status to raise my caste and move up in life. However, the man they want me to marry is repulsive to me, not just his looks, but his intelligence, cowardice, attitude, and even his family.

I have two choices (at least 2, maybe more); I can accept my fate and marry him as my family wishes, or I can sneak out of the village and run away from home. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I chose to leave my family and run away from the village.

In the next moment, I found myself living the life of a beggar on the streets of a capital city. I was going to the church to beg for crumbs of food. I waited for several days, standing in the same spot, unable to get the food I needed to sustain myself, unable to leave the city, and unable to do anything to change my situation.

Then someone tells me that they will give me the stale bread that’s left over, if I can help pass out bread and medicine to the homeless. I quickly learned the harsh reality; there’s not enough food or medicine to help all of the sick or hungry people. A woman needed medicine for her elderly mother. A mere child himself, needed food to feed his younger brother, by time I helped everyone there was not enough for myself.

In the next moment, I’m playing a priest working for the church, the same church which earlier was passing out the bread and medicine. I’ve been questioning my faith for a long time, and the unrest outside the village further shakes my resolve. I question if I should leave the church, but I have taken an oath. I see corruption both inside and outside the church.

In the next life I am a young girl who is part of a resistance. We don’t have enough men to outnumber the capital’s guards so my father has struck a deal with the Nagas, a race of serpentine characters who seek to profit from the war. We’ve made concessions for them to give them their own land and ability to sell items within the city which we know will take away jobs and opportunities from the starving, homeless, humans.

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In the next life, I’m playing as a knight fighting against this resistance movement; he cares deeply about his kingdom and the men on the battlefield, he is tasked with making very many difficult strategic decisions which could end up getting people killed or winning or losing the war.

In the end, the resistance is offered a treaty, the people of the capital are imprissoned for humanity crimes, and a new leader is elected who will hopefully bring peace to the humans and nagas alike. It ends there with somewhat of an open ending; such as, peace is secured, but for how long?

Curious as to just how random the game was, I start a new game, and this time my first character is a high class “princess” naga. So yes, it really is a different game each time you play. And who knows where the game would have went from there – someday I will replay it and find out :).

Characters: 5/10 The characters are very interesting, however, your time spent in their shoes is far too short to ever form any kind of emotional attachment to them; however, it is very interesting to see how all of their stories and their fates intertwine. Wikipedia says there’s only 5 playable characters, but this can’t be right, as I know for a fact that I played as a Naga (and it was a life I did not experience at all on my first run) and it doesn’t mention that. I’m not sure how many different characters there are to plug yourself into it, but it’s definitely more than 5, and you definitely do not get to see all of the lives in one play through.

Gameplay: 8/10 I’m not sure if my decisions are impacting which life I live; or if it’s completely random; I’m also not entirely sure how much free choice I actually have or if it’s merely an illusion of choice; however, there are several points in the game where I could have taken the road not traveled and the unique gameplay and complete randomness of it all is strangely fun and addicting. Although your time with each character is short, the game itself is fairly long for an indie game. As mentioned above; you will need multiple playthroughs to complete every character’s perspective in the game; which also adds to the length of playtime and replay value. There are many quests along the way, some are optional while others are required to move the story along. Completing all the optional quests will also add greatly to the required playtime to complete the game. The gameplay itself is based on solving puzzles, accepting and completely quests, talking to lots of NPCs and exploring the world, and making difficult decisions with widespread consequences.

Music: 5/10 A year after playing this game, I honestly can’t recall the music; therefore it must not be very memorable, in either a very good or very bad way. Just kinda average.

Graphics: 3/10 This game looks very dated. It looks similar to oregon trail or other 80s/90s PC games. It does have some nice colorful environments, but the pixel style artwork is very very retro feeling, and the faceless characters make it even harder to emotionally connect with the cast in this game.

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Replay Value: 10/10 I mention this throughout the review; the whole game is based on experiencing different perspectives; and one playthrough is not enough to witness all of them, also there are some decisions which can change the story (although probably a fair amount of decisions that result in similar/same outcomes as well). I had a lot of fun, and I definitely do want to go back and replay it to see all the different points of view in the game.

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Unrest | Indie PC Game | Review | Multiple Endings and Branching Plot was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Tokyo Gameshow 2015

PS4 and Kingdom Heart fans are in for a real treat. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter was just announced at the Tokyo Gameshow. Check out the trailer below:

This game is meant to serve as a prologue of events leading directly to the long awaited and anticipated Kingdom Hearts III.

According to IGN.com “Kingdom Hearts II.8 will contain a HD remaster of Dream Drop Distance, along with scenes from Unchained X called Back Cover, set to tell the tale of the Foretellers and revealing new parts of the series’ history. The final part of the collection is Birth by Sleep 0.2 – A Fragmentary Passage -, which is a completely new part of the story taking place after the events of the original Birth by Sleep, told from the perspective of Aqua”

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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Tokyo Gameshow 2015 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Life is Strange Review

Title: Life is Strange

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game (With some Visual Novel Elements)

Publisher: DontNod Entertainment & Squaresoft/Square-Enix

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Release Date: Life is Strange is an Episodic Game, where your decisions made in each episode carry over to the next, the first episode was released in January of 2015. There are a total of 5 episodes, and we are still waiting (at time of this review) for episode 5 to be released.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Life is strange is a Point-and-Click adventure game with a heavy focus on story telling. It also includes branching plots and decision trees similar to those found in visual novels. The story is set in the 90s, and follows a young woman attending an art college who is insecure about her own artistic abilities, and struggling to make friends and fit in with the other students. The school is full of the stereotypical characters one remembers from their own experiences in surviving highschool (or university), such as jocks, preps, goths, hipsters, the shy people, the fat kids, the druggies, the bullies, the cheerleaders, the airheads, the geeks, the studious types, the religious types, and of course the teachers and staff of the school as well. This makes it pretty relateable for anyone who hated school or also felt like they never really fit in anywhere.

Story: 10/10 It’s a coming of age story, and also a story about finding out what’s important to you, and what you must do to protect it. You play the role of the protagonist, Max, as she returns to her childhood neighborhood to attend college after being away for a number of years. Max is rather aloof and although she has a few friends in her class, she also has a lot of enemies. She sometimes has trouble focusing in class, and also she wonders if she even belongs in an art program, because she doubts her own abilities and lacks self confidence. She is asked to participate in a photography contest but she is too shy to submit her entry. While thinking of what she should enter, she is captivated by a blue butterfly in the ladies restroom. Wanting to get a pic, she turns the corner, and quickly becomes involved in something she wasn’t supposed to see. Two other students have entered the restroom and are struggling over a gun, a real gun. Max hears the gun go off, and then, her head hurts, she feels a strange power, and realizes she’s able to rewind time, to undo the events of what happened. Using her new power, she rewinds time to prevent the gun from going off. The other girl, scared but unharmed, thanks Max for her help, and the two begin chatting. It turns out that the girl was Max’s best friend when she was a little girl, but she’s changed so much that Max no longer recognizes her. The two begin to rekindle their friendship, as Max learns about the events that led to the struggle that day, including mysterious murders, disappearances, rapes, and drugging of female students from Blackwell Academy. As the story progresses, Max finds herself trying to save the girls involved in these incidents while trying to uncover the truth behind who’s to blame for the horrendous acts. On top of that, Max begins having strange visions, and strange things begin happening around town, such as snow in the summer, and dozens of beached whales, and solar eclipses, and tornadoes, and other strange phenomenon that eerily seem to be connected to Max’s new powers. As she uses her powers, sometimes other things around her change, and not always for the better, sometimes for the worse, or even heartbreaking consequences. There’s a lot of emotion and heart in this game, and your choices and decisions impact which parts of the story you will see.

Characters: 10/10 Max is the player’s character throughout this game; she’s an intelligent and artistic young woman who’s just enrolled into a new university where she’s struggling to fit in. Chloe is Max’s childhood friend, they were separated when Max moved away as a child. Max did not keep in touch with Chloe due to a certain event in their past, but their paths soon cross again. Kate is one of Max’s close friends at her new school. Kate had something terrible happen to her and is now the victim of constant bullying. Rachel Amber, another student at Blackwell Academy, had filled in the role of Chloe’s best friend in Max’s absence, but then Rachel mysteriously disappeared. Nathan Prescott, is the rich spoiled boy who’s family owns most of Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy. Is he behind the mysterious disappearance?

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Appearances are not always what they seem in this game; be careful who you trust, and also don’t judge others too quickly until you know them. They may surprise you!

As mentioned above, the characters feel very relateable because they’re based on all too common, but all too true, stereotypes of the types of students one has encountered in their own life.

Gameplay: 6/10 Gameplay consists of wandering around the school or town looking for clues, by finding objects that you can interact with or talking to different people. Many objects have multiple ways in which to interact and the game does not hold your hand or make it readily apparent which options are best for which objects. At times, your actions, decisions, and dialogue will impact the past, present, or future, and you will be notified by a blue butterfly icon on your screen. You can then either rewind, or proceed and live with the choices you’ve made.

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Although the gameplay itself is fun, there are some MAJOR gameplay issues with this game when it comes to control, usability, and interfaces. I play on a “gaming” laptop machine. I don’t have a mouse, nor any place to really put a mouse, because I play from my bed. Using the touchpad OR my touchscreen with this device is a nightmare for some reason. Also when I first got episode 1, maybe it’s just me and I’m really dense, but I spent over 4 hours trying to do the first action, and stumbled through the game for days, until I realized one thing – I was trying to “trace a path” to the action I wanted to take, following the little arrow that’s drawn by every object. This is wrong! Instead you just click below or left/right/above etc for the action you want. — This made control somewhat easier BUT the main thing I find is I have to be facing/looking at an object JUST right in order to “reach” the action I want to click on, sometimes I have to back out of the action tree and reposition the items on my screen – I think this probably doesn’t happen when using a mouse – but I can’t be the ONLY gamer who doesn’t use a mouse, especially with a game like this which doesn’t require much user input.

Music: 8/10 Music plays a big part in this game; with the ability to sometimes sit and listen to a music cd or play your guitar, and you can just relax and immerse yourself in the soundtrack. The soundtrack is also fitting for the game, and has an “indie” feel to it which matches the “hipster” vibe of the game’s settings and characters.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The game is fully voiced, and the game relies on this mechanic to tell its story to the audience. The voice acting is also quite well done; in fact, it’s been nominated for Performance of the Year in the Golden Joystick awards for the voice actress behind Chloe.

Graphics: 7/10 I enjoy the graphics of the game, and it’s fully animated and fully 3d, presented to you like a movie. They’re not the most highly advanced cutting edge graphics ever, and other reviewers are quick to point out some lip syncing inconsistencies (which I personally haven’t noticed). But I think it’s still a pretty game to look at :). The number of environments that you get to interact with are rather small, the school, a diner in town, a scrapyard, your friend’s home, and the dark room; but this is an indie game, so it’s expected to be somewhat small in scale. I think the outdoor scenes are especially lovely. Character design is also very good, although the characters feel a bit stiff at times.

Replay Value: 8/10 Your decisions really do matter; For example, Kate Marsh really can die if you don’t save her. I saved her in my game, but I did some research while typing this blog post to see if the decisions we make in the game actually matter, and a lot of people are asking for help how to save her, etc. Also they say it’s one decision that you cannot rewind and redo; so unless you save before then, or start all over, you’re stuck living with the consequences of your actions. — However, so far, every episode has followed the same story and reached the same climax; although what happens in between the beginning and end IS dependent on your actions, as illustrated above, you will still arrive at the same conclusion each episode so far; though there may be multiple endings as it is advertised as such on steam – we won’t know for sure until Episode 5 arrives.

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Life is Strange Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie