Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Asylum Reviews: Bound [PS4].

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

Asylum Reviews: Life is Strange [Xbox One].

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

Asylum Unboxing: Gris Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Another of the recent deliveries from Special Reserve Games is this stunning edition of Gris. One of the things that I really like abou...