Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Review: Bound.

The recently released game, Bound, developed by Plastic and published by Sony Santa Monica Studios is a beautiful, intriguing game.

Story-wise, a lot is left up to the imagination of the player. You dance and shimmy your way through the game, following the paths throughout. The chapters are randomly generated in a way, able to be played in any order. Each chapter has you, the dancer, working your way through the mysterious narrative that is Bound. The chapters of the game are laid out like the chapters of a book, where a sketchbook of some sort is seen at the beginning, and which is used as a Chapter Select function. The story of the game can be interpreted differently based on the order you play these chapters, but overall the story seems to be revolving around a family. 

The game's story is quite hard to follow, with minimal story-telling throughout, and as mentioned, what is there of the story is really left up to your own interpretation. Without giving too much away, the "memories" that you end up in can be pieced together to mould some semblance of a story, but unfortunately, one that still left us a little confused.

There's no doubt that the game is beautiful, much in the way that Journey is, and it can certainly be quite mesmerizing to just watch your character dance and twirl away, so I can't fault it on its aesthetic. But if anything, the "real world" parts are a stark contrast graphically, but I can't help but wonder if this was a conscious choice to differentiate between these "worlds", and the symbolic imagery throughout.

The gameplay was good, but felt better to look at than play, much like games such as Dear Esther or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, in which most of the feel of the game comes from its beauty. There are platforming elements within, but these are fairly minimal. Whilst there are a lot of secret areas and collectibles, we have yet to discover all of these. We managed to find a few of these secret islands, but of what we have seen so far, they don't seem to contain a hell of a lot, bar a few collectible fragments that you obtain from a floating sphere. (And yes, I know what you're thinking, but you really need to play the game to understand).

There's a lack of enemies in the game, which is unfortunate, as some enemies, or at least a semi-boss-fight at the end of each chapter, just to change the pace up a bit, would have been beneficial. The only "threats" to you in the game - and they aren't even that, purely serving as a minor nuisance, slowing you down until you twirl your way through - are the paper planes, wavy grass and floating shards which surround you during certain segments of the game. Obviously enemies aren't always necessary to make a game good (or even enjoyable), but I feel that they could have added some further interest into the game (and given different ways to utilize your dancing skills).

There are a few cutscenes which left us a little mind-boggled, regarding (what we're referring to as) The Giants, who are somehow connected to your character. Again, without going into too much detail (not that there's a whole lot of it going on, minus the art of course), overall the ending of the game left us just as confused as we were throughout.

Hopefully, a second playthrough would help us to understand the story more, but we may get to that later. And with the game being designed with a huge forethought for Speedrunning, it certainly does call for further attempts - although I'm not at all sure how I'll manage to do it in under 50 minutes, like one of the trophies entails.

In the end, we'd have to rate this a 7.5, mainly based on the beautiful graphics and peaceful gameplay, but the vague story prevents us from rating this higher.

What are your thoughts on Bound?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Entries to the Asylum - Tuesday 16th August 2016

Couple of entries to the Asylum from yesterday:
- Bound [PS4]
- No Man's Sky Promo Postcards in Sleeve.
Currently playing through No Man's Sky and with around 10 hours or so of play-time so far, I really don't feel like I've progressed at all. A review will be coming soon, or a review-in-progress, more likely, however I'm still pretty much unsure how I feel about the game.
What have you received lately?
- V x

Friday, 12 August 2016

Entries to the Asylum: Monday 18th July - Wednesday 10th August 2016.

Sorry once again guys for taking so long to do an Entries to the Asylum post. There was a lot going on here (what with my new job, etc) and then things got worse. So here is what I've been missing recently from updates!

Friday 29th July 2016

- We Happy Few [Xbox One Game Preview].

Saturday 30th July 2016

- Loot Crate July 2016.

Tuesday 2nd August 2016

- July 2016 Arcade Block.

Wednesday 3rd August 2016.

- 10 Cloverfield Lane Steelbook.
- Lime Crime Velvetines in Riot and Polly.

Friday 5th August 2016

- S.H. Figuarts Broly Premium Color Edition [SDCC Exclusive].
- S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan Trunks.
- The Basement Collection Special Edition [PC].

Saturday 6th August 2016

- Xbox One Controller [w/ 3.5mm Audio Jack].

Tuesday 9th August 2016

- The Killing Joke Limited Edition [Bluray].

Wednesday 10th August 2016.

- No Man's Sky Collector's Edition [PS4].
- Psychonauts [PSN].
- Ape Escape 2 [PSN].
- Bears Can't Drift!? [PS4].
- July 2016 IndieBox: Hand of Fate.

I'm sure there's also some other things I've forgotten about from earlier on in this period, but unfortunately I'm pretty certain I won't remember them, haha! Especially considering that I forgot to write previously that I have received the June 2016 IndieBox, which was for Moon Hunters. I don't remember what date I received it, but I don't seem to have written that down anywhere in the Entries posts between this one and the last one that mentions the May edition. Welp, I'll get better at this, I promise!

What new things have you guys gotten recently?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Review: Life is Strange

So I recently completed Life is Strange, after having the Limited Edition for months now (and meaning to review it for as long!).

I was super excited to play the game, but lots of stuff kept getting in my way, from absolutely no hard drive space to spare when I got it, to other games that I'd purchased taking priority due to all members of the house wanting to play, etc. But finally, I got it installed.

And boy am I glad I did.

I actually missed it when it first came out: a combination of lack of funds, and also losing track of release dates. but earlier this year, Square Enix were kind enough to send me a copy of the Limited Edition (so thanks again to them!). From the second I started playing, I immediately regretted not playing it sooner, but at the same time, was so glad to be currently playing it that waiting no longer seemed that bad.

If you don't already know, Life is Strange is a fantastic, critically-acclaimed game developed by Paris based developers Dontnod Entertainment (whose studio title I adore - gotta love a palindrome!). They also did the game Remember Me, prior to Life is Strange, and are currently in development for Vampyr, which we extremely cannot wait for.

Life is Strange is an episodic game, spanning five episodes, of roughly 2-4 hours each. It's an amazing game and really keeps you gripped and desperate to uncover the story throughout. Part of the intrigue of Life is Strange, is the ability to rewind time. You play as Max Caulfield, a teenage girl who, having moved away to Seattle as a child, has moved back home to Arcadia Bay to attend high school. Whilst living her normal, every-day school life, she witnesses a shooting in the girls' bathroom, initiating her ability to rewrite the past, and of course, the future.

Everything is understandably confusing and overwhelming for Max, who later discovers that the girl whose life she saved in the bathroom, was actually her childhood best friend, Chloe. They reunite, as if no time has passed, only to have their lives turned upside down with Max's vision of a disastrous tornado, that is set to destroy Arcadia Bay, and all who reside there.

The time altering is actually something I really enjoyed in this game, as with most choice driven games, once you make a choice that's you stuck with it. LiS enables you to make a choice, let it play out, and then rewind if it didn't work out, all the while keeping the knowledge you gained, and the items you picked up. It's a really enjoyable concept, and whilst it still has some more difficult puzzle moments in the game, where you sit there scratching your head (despite it being fairly obvious what you've to do), the game is pretty straightforward.

A fun, yet extremely time-consuming part of LiS is all of the backtracking you'll find yourself doing. I want to know the outcomes of literally every single thing I could say or do before I settle on my final, "permanent" choice. As shown above, one possibly option is to plant a kiss on your best friend Chloe, and these choices that overall don't make much of an impact on the story, certainly are referenced later on, if it ends up being your official choice.

All throughout the game, I was desperate to uncover everything, find out who was causing what, and ultimately save the day. The game isn't long overall, and it's pretty easy to blast through a couple of episodes in a day, which I was more than happy to do as I just had to find out everything (and without spoiling anything, I was totally taken aback by the ending!).

Only a couple of things bugged me about the game, but those weren't even big issues: the voice acting was off in places. I'm guessing the actors all recorded their lines separately as a lot of times the tone of voice didn't always match up in conversations. One person saying one thing, and then the reply from the second person being way off, I won't lie, it did stand out to me quite a few times. The other thing, and I don't know if this affected everyone or if it was just a glitch in my playthrough, but throughout almost the entire final episode, whenever anyone spoke to Max, their lips moved, but when Max responded, her mouth stayed completely still, or occasionally moved as though she was breathing (but not speaking). At first I put that down to us just hearing what she was thinking, but it happened too many times in moments where it was clear she was conversing with another character, and it slightly irritated me. But again, not enough for it to make me dislike the game.

Overall, I really loved and enjoyed the game, and was slightly sad when it was over as I wanted it to go on (but you always get that at the end of a great game, don't you?). The art style, the pacing, the intrigue, all combined into a game that really took my breath away. So I'd have to rate Life is Strange as an 8.5/10. And with talks of a TV series coming to Crackle at some point in the future, I'm really looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

What were your thoughts on Life is Strange?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

PS: Remember to check back later for unboxing photos of the Limited Edition! V x

Monday, 18 July 2016

Review: Lego Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the latest game in the Lego line. Released on the 28th June, it's a welcome return to the Star Wars Lego games, with lots of classic characters in addition to the new ensemble cast.

Story wise, the game follows the same basic premise as the movie it takes its name from, but with a few missions from the previous movies, as well as some expanded missions (still in the current timeline), too. It also injects some humour into the story, as the Lego games like to do. One such moment that particularly stood out to us was in reference to the moment Kylo Ren has a bit of a meltdown in the movie, smashing things; in the game, we have him storming off to his Darth Vader-overload bedroom, and smashing that up instead (the wee man definitely enjoyed that part!).

If you've played a Lego game before, you'll know the basic structure of them. This one is no exception - and that's not a bad thing, by any means! Naturally, the way these games play are unlikely to change drastically, other than some new mechanics, which is what we were treated to here. A new cover system has been introduced, as well as the ability for buildable objects to be built in a number of ways, giving puzzles multiple parts (therefore requiring just a tad more brainpower). Other than that, the game is very much the same as other Lego games, just reskinned to fit the story of The Force Awakens. The games are great as they are, and this is a classic case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

The main story can be completed in less than 10 hours, but there are a tonne of things to do after that, giving the game a good amount of replayability. There are loads of unlockable characters, vehicles, and of course there are some things available through the Season Pass, too. So even if you blast through the game, aaand all of the unlockables, there's still more to come via the Season Pass, to get you back into the game at a later date. Plus, at only £7.99 on the Xbox Store (and similarly priced elsewhere), it's the cheapest Season Pass we've bought whilst not on sale!

As previously mentioned, the game plays and feels exactly like the previous Lego games, but this is why these games are so popular. They fit that family demographic, of being easy to play (for all ages), whilst telling the story of popular movies, etc. whilst allowing some couch co-op for you and your friends, or family.

Overall, it's a great game to have, especially if you have kids as they'll get a tonne of enjoyment from it, too, so we'd definitely have to give it an...


So what were your thoughts on Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Entries to the Asylum: Tuesday 28th June - Sunday 17th July 2016.

Almost a month worth of late Entries to the Asylum! Sorry guys!
Been so caught up with stuff lately that I forgot to keep posting when things were arriving, but at last, here they are (also, apologies if I've missed anything, I've tried my best to remember but have possibly missed out something, in which case I'll come back and add it once I remember!):

Wednesday 6th July 2016

- The Witcher 3 & Expansion Pass [Xbox One].
- Just Cause 3 Season Pass.
- Shadow of Mordor Season Pass.
- Unravel.

Thursday 7th July 2016

- Pokémon Pikachu The Movie Box 2007-2010 [Bluray].
- Pokémon Pikachu DS Lite Limited Edition.
- Poprageous Bruce Lee Bodycon Dress.
- Poprageous Tarantino Bodycon Dress.
- Poprageous Triforce Leggings.
- Poprageous Great Scott Leggings.
- Black Milk Matte Black Reverse Suspenders.
- Living Dead Clothing Chibi Zelda Leggings.
- Living Dead Clothing Muz Reunion Dress.
- Living Dead Clothing Lollipop Chainsaw Hack 'n' Slash Cut Crop Top.
- Living Dead Clothing Lollipop Chainsaw Hack 'n' Slash Cut Mini Skirt.
- Living Dead Clothing Lollipop Chainsaw Pink Bummers.
- Deadpool [Bluray].

Friday 8th July 2016

- Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens [Digital].
- Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens Season Pass.
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch Limited Run Dad Edition [PS4]*

*Tie to come later this month due to still being in production.

Saturday 9th July 2016

- Vans X Nintendo Princess Peach Shoes.

Monday 11th July

- Lego Star Wars the Force Awakens Promo Disc [Xbox One].

Tuesday 12th July 2016

- The Magic Circle: Gold Edition [Xbox One].

Wednesday 13th July 2016

- Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty Limited Run Physical Copy [PS4].
- Dangerous Golf [Xbox One].

Thursday 14th July 2016

- S.H. Figuarts Trunks Premium Color Edition.

Saturday 16th July 2016

- Song of the Deep Collector's Edition [Xbox One].

Lots of reviews and stuff coming soon!

Also, got a few of our art prints framed yesterday too. Need to get the mat things for them as the frames are slightly too big, but to finally have a bundle of them framed feels great!

What new things have you gotten recently?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Monday, 11 July 2016

Review: Lost Sea

Lost Sea is a roguelike game developed by Eastasiasoft, whose previous games include the likes of Rainbow Moon and Söldner-X. When I say roguelike, I mean it in a very vague manner; the game does have the procedurally generated levels and permadeath necessary to deem it as such, but the sections that are generated as you move throughout the level are pre-rendered, and extremely limited in number - resulting in an often confusing repetitiveness, that can make the game feel a little like a chore.

Permadeath, albeit with some credits and experience carrying on into successive runs, can be frustrating as hell, but that is something that obviously defines the roguelike genre. The characters you can choose from each run are varied and pretty well designed, however they are definitely lacking the names and character differences such as weapons, abilities and/or stats, that other roguelikes have to differentiate between playable characters, and also give a bit of change to each playthrough, rather than having most go in the same way. This is something I feel that the game could have benefited greatly from, and would have given it much more replayability.

The game itself is pretty, I'll give it that. With bright, beautiful scenery throughout the levels - be they desert, snowy, or swampy (etc.), are lovely to look at, and enemy character design (as well as the companions who can tag along with you) are great, too - if again, a bit repetitive.

 Playing through the game, it can be quite laborious at times. The game isn't overly hard, but with limited health, and permadeath a constant threat considering that it only takes a few hits to completely wipe out your health bar, playing the game can take quite a bit more time and effort than I can be bothered giving. Although, I will admit that this constant cycle of death keeps you coming back for more, in a "Just one more run..." loop. The length it takes to get through the game can be quite offputting however, as it takes much longer than the average Binding of Isaac run, to get through the game - especially as you cannot save progress, or even exit out of the game to do something else for a while, before coming back. Instead of having a "suspend-save", it just starts you back at the beginning. Every. Damn. Time. Essentially, the game is designed for you to sit and play through it in one go, but that just isn't feasible, considering how long it takes to actually work through it. You can Warp to other stages after defeating each boss, but this also impacts negatively on your playthrough (such as losing character progression, for instance).

The companions system is something I like in games, adding additional party members and weighing up who to keep (and who to give the boot!) in order to give you the best possible playthrough you can get. It's a little under-developed however, as most of the companions have a vast range of abilities, meaning once you unlock the ability to have 2 or more following you, you pretty much don't have to worry about anything stopping you, such as broken bridges or locked chests. A smaller ability set for each companion would have been better, giving you more of a difficult task in deciding who to take along with you from island to island. The companions are also sadly useless when it comes to combat. Not only do they not help you fight (not that it's needed, anyway), but they don't even run away from enemies - instead curling up in a ball, oftentimes right where an enemy is gonna get them, meaning that you often kill off companions through little fault of your own.

A maximum of four companions can follow you at any one time, which is great, but having so many follow you (in a line, no less) can cause some issues, especially in levels where there a lot of turning as they usually end up stuck behind a wall or down some stairs, which can definitely be quite annoying when you have to double back every few minutes to retrieve someone.

Lastly, boss battles are a nice change of pace to the game, signifying the end of each "Stage" of the game, however these also tend to veer onto the repetitive side of things again.

Lost Sea is a game that, no pun intended, you can get lost in for a while, and is a great little game for just passing the time, but don't expect anything too groundbreaking with it. At a price point of £11.99 in the UK (from the Xbox store at least), it's priced fairly for the amount of gameplay you get.

Overall, we'd have to rate it a 6/10.

Lost Sea is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC now.

What are your thoughts on Lost Sea?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x