Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Asylum Reviews; Metro Exodus [Xbox One].

With its beautiful yet haunting opening cinematic, travelling through the dingy tunnels of the Moscow Metro, seeing the horrors hidden underneath the surface, we were excited to see what else Artyom's story had to offer. 

Developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver, Metro Exodus has a slightly different take from previous titles in the series. Set two years after Last Light, we follow Artyom on his journey across Russia, abandoning the dark and terrifying underground caverns, in search of a new hope.

Travelling across Russia aboard the Aurora, we get to see an ever changing landscape, affected by the transitioning seasons: from snow covered urban areas, to lush, sprawling forests. It's a far cry from the Metro games we've known previously. And whilst it feels very different, it's for all the right reasons.

At each stop on your quest along the Trans-Siberian railway, you'll get off and explore these vast open-world areas. The surface poses no threat, with clean air filling Artyom's lungs (and being a welcomed change from the toxic Moscow air), but underneath the surface you'll find yourself reaching for your gasmask again. To fully explore these subterranean pockets, you'll need to be stocked up on filters. Up on the surface, there are locations and items to find and whilst the threat isn't quite as constant, enemies will still hunt you down and make things more tense and panic inducing (especially if you're me - well known for being a shitebag with games!).

Ensuring that you move as stealthily as possible is key to survival in Metro. Decreasing the chances of being surrounded with limited ammo is definitely your safest bet. Careful planning of your shots can be the deciding factor as to whether you live or die. The scarcity of ammo combined with my usual "fire blindly and hope for the best" method of dealing with scary situations in games is 100% not the way to go about things here.

Day/night cycles impact the enemies around you, and can make things easier and harder for you in different ways. Night time allows the cover of darkness to assist you in dealing with enemies, but equally makes them harder to scope out and can aid them in hunting you down too. During the daytime, there will be less monsters to deal with but visibility of them (and you) is at an optimum.

The game is absolutely stunning. Without a shadow of a doubt, the best looking Metro game by far. The locations are jaw-dropping, and even in amongst the horror and decay, there is beauty. The level of design and attention to detail that has gone into this game is phenomenal. The lighting alone is really special, from flickering and damaged lights upping the creep factor, to gorgeous sunlight basking you in its glory.

Sound design is fantastic, and really gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end as it sets the tone and level of dread. Listening out for slight noises to try and figure out if an enemy is nearby, or to determine if there are loads more coming your way, left me genuinely worried a few times and resorting to my panic-pause and wait for the sheer terror to subside before getting back to it.

Overall, Metro Exodus was a thoroughly enjoyable game to play and we'd highly recommend anyone to check it out. In the end, we gave it the Collecting Asylum rating of 8.5/10.

Have you played Metro Exodus yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Asylum Reviews; The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition [Xbox One]

Developed by Finnish-based studio Still Running and published by Merge Games, The Walking Vegetables: Radical! Edition is a fun yet frantic twin-stick shooter, with heavy roguelike elements. As with most games in this vein, you start with a simple weapon, and are able to gain new more powerful weapons and upgraded skills as you blast your way through the incoming zombie veg hordes.

With the task of wiping out the infestation of rotting, walking veg set before you, you go off on your quest. A variety of different vegetables - and fruit, which frustrated me, haha - will stumble towards you, with increasing speed and numbers to take you down. As you make your way through them, you'll eventually come to a boss after which, upon defeat, you'll breathe a heavy sigh of relief and wipe the sweat from your now sodden controller.

Boss fights are difficult, which isn't unusual for this type of game, but these bosses truly just soak up the bullets and act like its nothing. They spawn countless projectiles which hugely limit the safe space for you to run around, and leave you panicking - blindly shooting and hoping for the best. The ability to play two-player certainly helps in these situations, as can allow for double the damage on the boss, however it can sometimes leave you a little confused due to everything going on on-screen.

As is usual with roguelike games, death means death. So whether you're playing alone or with a friend, if one of you bites the dust, that's it. If in two-player, the surviving player will continue on until they meet their untimely fate and the permadeath gods strike them down.

When enemies are defeated, gold coins are dropped which can be spent in the in-game shop on new weapons, health items, etc. Similarly all around the map are environmental objects and boxes which can be destroyed to give a chance to gain keys (which can be used to unlock certain buildings) and chests which can give you access to nice shiny new weapons. Bonus Dimensions can sometimes spawn, which gives you a small horde-based arena which will net you an achievement for surviving 20 waves.

The art style is gorgeous, and the bright colours work really well. The neon-ness of everything gives me total '80s vibes, which I love, but the frequent flashing of the mania on screen can often leave you with a bit of a headache. Stages are a little repetitive and samey, so a bit more variation here wouldn't have gone amiss. Controls are responsive, and the default buttons feel well thought out and instinctual. Sound design is great, and the game has a fitting '80s feel with the music.

For all of the game's positives however, it does feel like something is missing. We can't quite place our fingers on it, but the game just falls short a little bit, as it doesn't quite live up to similar games that have been released previously.

 Overall, we were still very pleased with The Walking Vegetables: Radical! Edition, especially given its low price point of just £10.74 on the UK Xbox Store. If you're a fan of twin-stick shooters, and like a challenge, then you should definitely give it a go.

We decided to give The Walking Vegetables the CollectingAsylum rating of 7/10.

Have you played it yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 28th January 2019 - Sunday 3rd February 2019 [Week 5].

Tuesday 29th January 2019

- Philip K. Dick on Film [Book].
- Crimson Peak Limited Edition [Blu-ray].

Wednesday 30th January 2019

- Bloody New Year w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].
- Uninvited w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].
- There's Nothing Out There w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].
- Splatter University w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].
- A Climax of Blue Power [Blu-ray].

Friday 1st February 2019

- Hackers w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].

Saturday 2nd February 2019

- Kill la Kill Part 3 Collector's Edition w/ Storage Box [Blu-ray].
- Rampage Steelbook [Blu-ray].

Sunday 3rd February 2019

- Tenchi Muyo OVA Collection [Blu-ray].
- Opera Limited Edition [Blu-ray].

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I was a little preoccupied towards the end of Week 5. We got engaged! So understandably things fell a little by the wayside here!

But back onto it now :)

What new things did you get this week? 
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 21st January 2019 - Sunday 27th January 2019 [Week 4].

Another quiet week in the Asylum. It being January is to blame for that - every year, without fail, January feels longer and longer and longer. And right when you think January is over and payday is near... You realise it's a day later than you thought!

Sunday 27th January 2019

- J.T Studio X Kuro Empty Man [GID Version].
- Waterworld Limited Edition [Blu-ray].

Really glad to have gotten my hands on Empty Man, as it's such a gorgeous piece. Likewise, I'm happy I picked up Waterworks. Trying desperately to not miss any Arrow releases, so if you notice any missing from the Asylum, please feel free to give me a nudge!

What new things have you received this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Asylum Reviews; FutureGrind [Switch].

Within minutes of installing FutureGrind, I was hooked. The repetitiveness of being so determined to nail a track and bag some high scores is equally infuriating and thrilling. The aim of the game is to complete tracks and fulfill the tasks set out before you. You might have to perform a particular trick, whilst also managing to survive the track (often easier said than done) or touch a certain number of coloured rails. 

The art style is beautiful, with bright neon rails taking the forefront of the scene. Positioned high in the sky, this removes the need for much else going on in the background aside from a nice landscape, and it works really well with the aesthetic of the game. Sound-design is also very fitting with the music syncing up well to the movements you'll do to pull off each trick or move from rail to rail. 

Colour zones, which recolour your vehicles wheels are signified by a large bar of colour surrounding a rail, and having a wheel go through this aligns it to that colour. This means that the wheel can then only touch rails of a matching colour - unless you go through another colour zone to reset it. This adds an exciting layer of challenge to the tracks, as it can be quite difficult to decide when is best to colour wheels, and if you should go for just one or take the risk and go for both, in the hopes that another zone will come up to change this again if necessary.

There are a few different variations of vehicle, ranging from the Tron-reminiscent bikes, to weird flip-floppy bikes with one huge wheel and a tiny one pendulum-swinging above or below it. Learning how best to utilise the bikes, and how to pull off different tricks with them, be it flips or varying grinds on the rails.

There's a story going on in the background involving corporations who are looking to sign you to pull off stunts on their tracks, and some kind of nefarious plot going on between them (with some tracks being blocked out initially with warnings of "Illegal system access detected" and "Unauthorized user account terminated" coming up when you try to enter them. Whilst it's nice that a story was added, the tracks themselves - and the challenges within - are enough for me to not pay too much attention to the story, instead clicking furiously to load through the typed dialogue to let me into the next level.

There's a fantastic addition of a Colour Blind mode, which allows the rail/wheel colours to be selected to help aid play for people who have trouble differentiating particular colours. This is a great bit of forethought into accessibility from the developers, and something I wish more devs would take into consideration in reference to differing abilities. Similarly, there is also an option within the game to turn on Assist Mode, which modifies the game rules to allow easier play. The devs are aware of how challenging the game can be, so have given this as an option to allow people of all abilities to be able to cope with the difficulty. The only thing that this switches off whilst active is the ability to save high scores, which is a fair trade off for greater accessibility.

As frustrating as it is satisfying, FutureGrind really delivers something special. If you're a fan of games like Trials, and enjoy a challenge then this is the game for you. While I wasn't particularly enamoured by the story, mostly due to my own impatience of wanting to get right into the next level, I feel this didn't negatively impact the game much, as it would have been perfectly fine even without the story in place.

In the end, we decided to give FutureGrind the CollectingAsylum rating of 8/10.

Have you played FutureGrind yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 14th January 2019 - Sunday 20th January 2019 [Week 3].

This week's Entries to the Asylum were Blu-ray filled. Things have definitely slowed down recently, especially due to how skint we are after Christmas. Really hoping to get back to usual soon!

Monday 14th January 2019

- Elvira: Mistress of the Dark w/ Slipcover [Blu-ray].

Wednesday 16th January 2019

- Assassination Classroom Season 1 & 2 Collector's Edition [Blu-ray].

Friday 18th January 2019

- The Little Mermaid Mondo Steelbook [Blu-ray].

Love all these pick ups, hopefully continue to get the rest of the Mondo steelbooks that I'm missing ASAP!

What new things have you received this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 7th January 2019 - Sunday 13th January 2019 [Week 2].

A little bit of a surprising week this week... We've had no arrivals! A few things are on the way, and we did actually get a customs slip - for £41!! - ouch, but as most of you will appreciate... it's January. And we're skint. So collecting that will have to wait until I'm a bit more solvent haha!

This week we've been doing a lot of planning for future tattoos. We'll be attending the Scottish Tattoo Convention this year and are currently in talks with a few different artists for things we want to get done. We'll keep the plans a secret for now though so that we can surprise you all once we're inked up :)

I'm also about to book an appointment to go get my septum pierced. Really can't wait for this, but again, money is the only thing delaying me at the moment.

Realised that over the Christmas period, there were a few releases we missed out on, so I have been slowly but surely updating my Amazon wish lists to try and keep track of these. For things not available to purchase through Amazon though... I'm a little stuck. I had created a spreadsheet but that seems like a lot of work - what do you all use to keep track of non-Amazon wants? For instance this is amazing, and I want it so bad. I mean, how gorgeous is this set, and it would be great to do a full unboxing and review of it, but it's just too expensive for this time of year. So I'll need to keep track so that I remember to pick it up once I have money, before it sells out.

So what do you use to keep track? And what new things have you picked up this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews; Metro Exodus [Xbox One].

With its beautiful yet haunting opening cinematic, travelling through the dingy tunnels of the Moscow Metro, seeing the horrors hidde...