Friday, 15 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; Moonlighter [Xbox One].

The basic premise of Moonlighter is fairly straightforward. You work your way through dungeons, killing monsters and gaining loot. This loot is then either sold through your shop, or used to upgrade your stuff. The pixel-art style immediately appealed to us, as well as the rogue-lite gameplay. Everything is colourful, and a joy to look at. You play as Will, an "adventurous shopkeeper" who runs his own business in the small village of Rynoka. Five ancient gates that were discovered nearby each lead to different worlds. You must interact with the villagers to determine what stuff they'd like to buy, so that you know what to hunt for in these realms, to stock your shop.

These five "dungeons" (with three levels each) must be completed in a set order, so you might be worried that you'll blast through all of Moonlighter pretty quickly, but no, its rogue-lite play style means that each time you enter a gate, the layout and enemies are completely randomised, giving you tonnes of replayability as well as unlimited access to potentially new, rare items to sell to the villagers of Rynoka, or use to craft new items and equipment.

Making your way through these dungeons can be quite a challenge: the combat isn't the smoothest. You have only two types of moves, as well as the ability to dodge and whilst the animation of an attack is still in play, you are unable to change direction quickly which can often leave you open for attack. Movement, at least on Xbox, is tied to the left analog stick, and attacking with the A button. We both felt that utilising the style of twin-stick shooters would have vastly improved the combat.

Entering the final gate, which is locked by four keys (hidden behind each of the other gates) is Will's ultimate goal to becoming a hero. Will's grandfather hopes that restoring your late father's shop will breathe life back into it, and the village, so searching for all of the finest loot helps serve his goal too.

Keeping your shop stocked, and frantically running back and forth to adjust item prices to keep customers happy was surprisingly quite an enjoyable experience. It gave far more weight to the shopkeep side of things, instead of focusing mainly on the dungeon crawling.

As you bring more customers to the area, it will begin to thrive. New businesses will open and the village of Rynoka will start to boom. Customers will flock in the moment you open your shop each day, before perusing your stock and alerting you to their opinions on stock and pricing. You are able to upgrade your store to be able to hold more items for sale, encourage people to buy, etc. 

Enemies are not too varied, and feel very similar to each other, aside from a different colour. The bosses on the other hand are well designed, with far more variety and clear amount of time spent on their appearance. The score is very fitting for the game, with nostalgic, calming tunes. It's reminiscent of early Nintendo games, and I really loved the way the music tied in.

As well as the wide variety of loot you can collect whilst making your way through the dungeons, you may also come across cursed items. These items will show a small arrow, pointing in the direction of which item will be affected, meaning that some careful consideration is required when placing items in your bag.

Another thing we really liked was the ability to bring in employees to your shop, allowing them to manage the shop on your behalf. You can also accept quests from NPCs for items that they are looking for, in order to specifically track down particular loot when taking on enemies behind each gate.

Items gained from enemies, such as cores from the Golems can be sold at your shop for a high price, but not permanently. The customers are smart, and will quickly lose interest in certain items if they have no use/serve no purpose for them, so deciding when to call it quits from a dungeon based on the loot you've gained so far can be a guessing game sometimes.

Aside from a few niggles here and there, we really enjoyed Moonlighter, so we decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

This was teetering on the edge of being a Gie it a Go! rating, however it just clinched that higher rating, and at just £16.74 on the Xbox Store, there's no excuse not to try it out.

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

- V x

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; ONRUSH [Xbox One].

ONRUSH is like no other racing game you'll play this year. It's more vehicular combat than racing, but still has those chase your enemies to the finish moments of games typical of the genre. Teams of players take each other out in an aim to gain the most points during the race, and that defines the winner. No first to cross the finish line here.

Four game modes give players the choice to play as they like. Overdrive allows teams to score points by boosting - and to gain boost, you must take out enemy vehicles and performs tricks, whichever team reaches the target score first, wins. Countdown has you racing against the timer to hit checkpoints - and these checkpoints boost time. Once one team hits zero on their timer, the other team wins the point. Switch gives each player three lives and they must take each other out. With each death, you will respawn with a better, more powerful vehicle in order to give you a little bit of an edge, right up until you're wiped out completely. Finally, we have Lockdown which is "King-of-the-Hill" style, where teams must chase a zone along the track, remaining within the glowing area in order to gain points. Each game mode is really fun, and a Ranked mode is "coming soon" so this gives people incentive to keep coming back.

We encountered an odd bug whilst playing - although it looks like some other people online did, too - where loading into the main menu (even to begin with) would nil out the sound. The only fix we came across was to play with headphones plugged in, as nothing else seemed to work. You don't realise how much you rely on sound in games until you suddenly don't have it, so we'd have been even more gutted if there was no workaround at all. The sound, when it works, is glorious, with the crunching of vehicles annihilating each other, and the soundtrack is really fitting - especially when using your boost and doing tricks and flips along the track.

When playing, your team is easily identifiable as being all of the blue vehicles, with your enemies being orange. There are other white-outlined ones too, known as Fodder, that are AI vehicles you can take out in order to increase your boost. As well as your boost, you have a Rush meter. This is like a super-charged boost, that makes you all the more powerful when blasting round the tracks. The smashed up vehicles look great too, and seeing the million bits shatter everywhere after a particularly well-timed takedown is done perfectly.

As well as being a fantastic online experience, ONRUSH also has a Single Player mode which enables you to play against AI vehicles, to work your way through the Superstar Career to win the ONRUSH Founder's Trophy. Couch co-op would have been a great addition, as smashing apart the opposition with your buddy would be so much fun.

There are eight different vehicle classe, each with their own abilities, which is good as it allows you ample time to totally get to grips with each one - instead of being a seemingly limitless amount that you'll never perfect. You can customise your vehicles, as well as your character with skins gained from Loot Boxes earned through levelling up (in both Single player and Multiplayer). You can also customise your tombstone, which other players can smash through once you die in order to gain extra boost.

In the end we gave ONRUSH the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

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

- V x

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Microsoft Predictions [E3 2018].

As with the EA Predictions post, I have left it right until the last minute to post out E3 predictions for Microsoft. This is purely down to thinking we have plenty of time, but with kids, who did we think we were kidding? We have precisely zero time haha. Anyway, we're really excited for what Microsoft may bring tonight.

- We need to see some more Halo. If they can hit us with a trailer as epic and emotional as the Halo 3 "Believe" trailer, we'll be sold.

- With Lionhead gone, the fate of Fable is still fairly up in the air. We really hope to see another instalment in the core games line.

- Microsoft usually has a good line up of Indies shown and this year should be no exception. The next Ori game should be shown and no doubt many others will have a small glimpse teased to us all.

Gears of War.
- Expecting another Gears of War game, probably with a fairly soon release date.

Crackdown 3.
- More will be shown on Crackdown 3, gameplay, possibly a live demo.

- Of course we will get some more Forza. It's been a staple of many of the past years.

What are you expecting/hoping for?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews; Aragami: Shadow Edition [Xbox One].

Despite already owning Aragami on PS4, we'd never gotten around to properly playing through it due to simply having too many games to get through at once. It reminds us of the old Tenchu games, and really interested us due to it's beautiful Japanese art-style. With the release of Aragami: Shadow Edition, encapsulating the main game as well as the Nightfall expansion, for the first time on Xbox One, it was the perfect reason for us to finally dig in.

The game is mainly designed to be played as stealthily as possible, with enemies, the Kaiho, having the ability to one-hit kill you with the Light from their swords. They can also throw this Light from a distance, which can sometimes take you by surprise. When an enemy spots you, you can quickly try to kill them before they alert others in the area, however Aragami is sometimes pretty slow and stuttery in his movement when in an enemy's sight. Other times you can quickly kill multiple enemies in a row before they can react, but that's not as often. 

You can kill enemies in a variety of ways, including Stealth Kills, Aerial Kills, and utilising your upgraded skills to take out multiple enemies at once with the Shinen ability - pulling nearby enemies into a black hole, simultaenously killing them and hiding their bodies with ease. Frustratingly, other enemies who are within sight of this black hole engulfing their friends will completely ignore it, oblivious to the fact that their friends are now gone. In order to gain upgrades, you must obtain Skill Points, which you get from collectable Scrolls hidden around the chapters.

Upgraded abilities take away some of the impossibility of your plan of attack, wiping out Archers with the Kunai ability, and distracting a group of guards with Sakkaku (which creates a shadow decoy) and of course, my most commonly used ability: Banmoku, which reveals the location of nearby enemies (and once upgraded, will have them marked with a detection meter, which changes colour depending on if they are suspicious or not). Taking enemies out one by one whilst never being spotted feels great, although an enemy counter of some sort would have been a fantastic addition as finishing a level only to not be awarded the Oni medal is super frustrating when you thought you'd wiped out every last enemy. 

As with all games, and stealth games in particular: I'm a panicker. I get quite badly agitated after my first death, and will then fail repeatedly in a short time due to trying to rush. Each chapter can go on for quite a long time, and the checkpoints can be quite spread out, so if a silly mistake kills you/gets you spotted, going back to the last checkpoint can be quite a way back. 

I liked to explore the maps to make sure I'd gotten all of the enemies as you get medals for completing: Oni for killing all enemies, Kami for no kills, and Yurei for never being detected. This means you'll need to play every level at least twice in order to get all of the medals. Whilst exploring on one of the chapters: Mausoleum of the Fallen, I came across a glitch which allowed me to bypass a door and end up outside of the map. I could run for miles through trees, and work my way around some of the exterior of the castle, but the only way back in was through a slightly open portcullis that I could aim my shadow leap through. This however advanced me a little on the map, meaning I then had to backtrack a bit to ensure all of the enemies had been wiped out.

Enemies are not very varied, being either Light soldiers roaming the map waiting to get you with their sword, or archers, aside from the "Boss" type characters. They don't have much in the way of individuality between them, so I would have liked to see a little bit more variation in their character design, but this is a common thing with games on the cheaper end of the scale (and even some big-budget ones) so it's not something that bothered me too much whilst playing.

The story, while not too extravagant, did keep me interested and wanting to know what exactly was my purpose as an Aragami. You are summoned by the astral projection of Yamiko, a girl held captive by the Kaiho, in order to help free her by collecting her talismans. Memories and flashbacks are experienced by Aragami as the story goes on, and makes you wonder if there's more to your summoning than first thought. Sound design is fantastic too, with fitting music throughout. Enemies are fairly silent in their movements however, which could have been doing with being a little louder in order to add an extra layer for keeping track of nearby guards.

The contrast between light and dark is done really well, which it should be considering how important the shadows are to your character. You fleet from shadow to shadow to work your way through the map - staying in the light too long will drain your "Essence" and make you more noticeable to enemies, so sticking to the darker areas makes all the difference.  It's also an interesting situation to have to enemy side be that of "Light" and you, the good guy being dark, which isn't very common. The art is gorgeous, and I really enjoy looking at all of the locations throughout the game: the Japanese architecture, and the beautiful backdrops.

The newly added Nightfall expansion is no different, still absolutely gorgeous and adds an extra four chapters to the Aragami story. These take place directly prior to the events of the main game, and fill in some of the gaps. There are two new playable characters, Hyo and Shinobu with all new Powers, who are searching for the Alchemist. You can also choose between playing single-player or online co-op, which is a fantastic addition, and adds a fun new element to the game.

In the end, we decided to give Aragami: Shadow Edition the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

Have you played Aragami: Shadow Edition? What did you think about it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Saturday, 9 June 2018

EA Predictions [E3 2018].

With less than five minutes to go until EA's E3 2018 Press Conference, we thought now would be as good a time as any to give a little run-down of what we're expecting (and/or hoping) to see.

Battlefield V.
- Already announced, EA will obviously be going into more detail with Battlefield V.

Definitely more Star Wars.
- EA has already killed Visceral Games, so open-world Star Wars games are left hanging. Battlefront II suffered some poorer reviews in the beginning, and EA have been trying to right those wrongs, but something new and fresh may just be what we're needing from EA with Star Wars.

- Due to launch in 2019, Anthem was officially announced at last year's E3. We expect there will be more information, as well as a decent amount of gameplay. Bioware have been hit with some negative press recently due to the Tweets of two employees (although I think one has now been terminated?) mocking the death of John "TotalBiscuit" Bain. Despite the comments being strictly denounced as not being the views of Bioware as a whole, a lot of angry fans called for boycotts of Anthem. I'm sure they will be looking to gain some public support after this.

EA Sports Line up.
- We know what to expect here. Even with the addition of things like story mode in FIFA, this section always plays out fairly similarly each year. FIFA, NFL, Madden, these will all get a significant portion of the conference.

- Really hope to see more from EA in terms of Indie games. Unravel was a favourite of ours, and we'd love to see something else that gets such a positive reaction.

What are you expecting of EA's Press Conference? 
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews; Riddled Corpses EX [Xbox One].

Being fans of the twin-stick shooter genre, Riddled Corpses EX looked like a fun new challenge to try out. It doesn't look all that different from the millions of other twin-sticks we've grown to know and love, but we were interested nonetheless. It's made in the style of 8/16 bit arcade games, so looks as you'd expect a post-apocalyptic zombie land to look. Both the story and the appearance are fairly generic, so we would have liked to see a little more originality, but it still satisfies that shmup/bullet hell itch.

There are six characters to choose from, each with their own stats, abilities and guns, that you can upgrade as you go along with the gold you get through your runs. Three gameplay modes: Arcade, Story and Survival, mean that you have a lot of replayability - definitely a big pull for the genre. All three modes are challenging, and definitely stand the test of being difficult enough to make it a fun challenge, but not so difficult that it becomes too frustrating to play.

Story Mode is where you play through chapter after chapter, very standard. Arcade Mode is similar, but as you would in an Arcade, dying takes you right back to the start. And Survival is just an endless stream of enemies. The chiptune music is an ear-pleasing trip down nostalgia lane, and you can switch to the Classic soundtrack if you were a fan of the 2015 release.

Different variations of gold scatter around the screen as enemies are mown down - larger pieces of gold (such as big piles of gold and ornate golden heads) of course reap higher reward - so be sure to pick up as much as you can, prioritising those. Lifesavings pick ups like dynamite that will blow up every enemy on screen, health packs to recover some health (a must have when precariously weaving in and out of projectiles while near death) and small clocks to slow time right down to allow you to readjust and take out enemies with ease are all essential in order to survive a run. In Arcade Mode there will occasionally be an icon that appears on screen pinging around quickly, and nabbing that will also get you a character/weapon upgrade. 

Quite often during battles, there would be so many projectiles coming from a boss, it would seem impossible to fit through any of the miniscule gaps. You'd take a sharp intake of breath with each pass through, unsure if this would be the time you'd get to meet your maker. The playable characters don't quite stand out enough against everything that's going on, so it's quite easy to get lost in the chaos.

Also available in the game is couch co-op which is always a bonus nowadays - we just don't see it as much as we'd like to. This makes for a fun addition if you've got friends over. Our son is also a huge fan of the genre and he appreciates the assistance from Dad, too!

Priced at just £8.63 on the Xbox Store (going back up to £9.59 in 4 days time), it's a cheap little game to keep you entertained for a while. In the end, we decided to give Riddled Corpses EX the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Gie it a Go!

Have you played Riddled Corpses EX? What did you think about it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; My Hero Academia Season Two, Part Two [Bluray].

After quickly falling in love with My Hero Academia from the moment we first watched, we were desperate to see more from the students of Class 1-A. We had the opportunity to review Part One of Season Two, and by the end of it were dying to see how the season ended, so when we were given Part Two to review also, we were ecstatic that we’d finally get to see how Season Two comes to a close after the students complete their Hero Internships.

Once again, Studio Bones has done a stellar job with the animation - the dynamic shots and continuous exciting action were fantastic, the best of the series so far. And the sound design was amazing as usual, with epic music perfectly complementing the scenes and emotion. The voice actors all do a superb job again, and really lend credibility to their characters.

I couldn't not include this screenshot - that face!
Some of the prospects spend each day with their mentors training, and learning about how to focus their energy and their Quirks, meanwhile some, like Yaoyorozu and Kendo (who are interning with Uwabami), are left to experience the other side of being a hero: fame. From TV advertisements or modelling jobs, these heroes are utilising more than just their Quirks: Uwabami even goes on to address how pretty the girls are and how that is perfect in this industry (and was the reason she chose to accept them as interns). It's an interesting insight into what else goes on in the world of the Heroes.

The League of Villains are increasing their influence in the world, leading to other people with Quirks who disagree with the idea of heroes, etc. to have a “Poster Boy” to look up to. That poster boy happens to be The Hero Killer: Stain. Stain seems to have inadvertently been given this status however, as his view is slightly different to the rest of The League of Villains. He disagrees with people being “heroes” just because they can. The ones he chooses to kill are because of their false prophet style of being. They are heroes, but what do they actually do? The ones just in it for the fame, or the weak "un-worthy" heroes are prime targets for The Hero Killer. He’s a weird juxtaposition of a character, but one of the best villainous characters (in terms of relatability) we’ve seen in years. His mission is warped, but the reasoning behind it is there. You can understand why he has been frustrated with the way that “heroes” seem to be going, but at the same time you are aware that the way he is going about things is completely wrong.

As the season goes on, All Might is increasingly impressed with the effort that young Midoriya is putting in to improving – with a lot of help and guidance from All Might’s mentor, Gran Torino. He successfully managed to withstand 20% power, which is a huge jump from the 5% power he was utilising previously (with difficulty). Seeing the bond between Gran Torino and Deku, as well as in flashbacks between Torino and All Might, adds another layer to these characters, and really makes you feel for them, after everything they’re currently going through.

We also get to see a little bit more of Shigaraki, although I'm excited to see what's to come from him as he did take a back seat for a while. His unsettling character, and his whole demeanor really gives me the heebie jeebies, ha. The season ends with enough to leave you eagerly awaiting the release of the next, as you just need to know how the story goes on, and how the characters will continue to develop.

In the end, we decided that My Hero Academia Season Two Part Two deserves the Collecting Asylum rating of:

It's a Belter!

Have you seen Season Two of My Hero Academia? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; Hitman: Definitive Edition [Xbox One].

Bringing together all of the Hitman Season One content, Hitman Definitive Edition is a must-buy for people who missed the episodic release the first time around (i.e., us).

Included in the Definitive Edition, we have all of the episodes from Season One of Hitman, as well as the Patient Zero bonus campaign, all challenge packs and Game of the Year content. There's 50+ escalation contracts, 300+ featured contracts and more than 700 in-game challenges including the Requiem Blood Money pack, which includes: White Rubber Duck Explosive, Silenced ICA-19 Chrome Pistol and White Legacy Suit. And at the risk of sounding like a late-night TV ad, that's not all! You also get 3 new themed outfits to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of IO Interactive:

- Mini Ninjas
- Kane & Lynch
- Freedom Fighters

As you'd expect, you take on the role of Agent 47, hunting down targets with the freedom to kill as you please. How do you want to take down this target; Garrote wire, a silenced bullet to the head, or do you want to make it look like an accident? You'll make your way through the locations, tracking your target and switching costumes as you go, trying to slip past enemies un-noticed (and even getting some limelight as a runway model!) I really enjoy switching in and out of costumes and it's clever how these changes don't always get you off the hook from NPCs. Some NPCs will still recognise something is off about you - which makes sense considering you're a big, buff, bald dude with a barcode on his napper.

The visuals are stunning, and you can feel how real the environment is with all of the hustle and bustle. The architecture is absolutely gorgeous, and the lighting and intricate detail on the buildings really impressed me. The maps are larger and more full of life than in previous games. There are secret routes through maps, and plenty of places to explore to see what other potential methods of attack might suit. 47 can be a little slow feeling when in combat, so going stealthy is definitely the best way forward. Nothing is more satisfying than wiping out enemies one by one, never being noticed in doing so. One thing that did stand out as a slight annoyance was the repeated use of the same few voice actors across all of the maps - it's not the worst offending thing I've ever come across in a game, but it's enough to snap me out of the moment every now and then.

The music was a controversial topic, dividing a lot of people's opinions (particularly long-time fans of the series). The music was great, and really evoked the perfect mood for the game, however did have a tendency to repeat tracks between different maps/locations, which was a little disappointing. I do agree though that previous Hitman titles (Blood Money in particular) did have better soundtracks.

There's a wide variety of weapons and environmental options for taking down your targets, and I really enjoyed floating around the map, picking up intel from NPCs on the location of my soon-to-be-victim. There's not a whole lot of story aside from what conversations you pick up from these NPCs, and post-mission cutscenes which was quite disappointing, but I still enjoyed the hunt regardless.

There's also a huge amount of replayability, in that you could complete a mission ten times, doing it differently each time. Load up a level and do your best to improve upon the last run by changing things up. Online connectivity allows for new time-bound contracts, which keeps the replayability going, too.

All in all, Hitman: Definitive Edition was an enjoyable game, and sure to please a lot of fans of the genre, so we decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

Have you played Hitman: Definitive Edition? What did you think about it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; Boss 101 [Xbox One].

We've recently completed Boss 101, a fantastic game from teeny-tiny studio Donley Time Foundation, which focuses on the story of a boy called Max taking on "MILLIONS of randomly generated bosses" alongside his robot buddy S.T.E.V.E.

It reminds me of old shoot-em-up arcade games, particularly G-Darius (which was one of the few I had as a kid), with you flying horizontally across the screen, taking on these humongous bosses as well as a slew of smaller minions.

Bosses utilise a wide variety of attacks, from bursts of energy blasts that you'll have to weave in and out of (Allan's expertise with The Binding of Isaac really helped him here), to laser beams that take over a large portion of the screen. The bosses vary in difficulty, increasing the Bounty received depending on how hard they are to take down. 

You're able to create your own bosses to fight under the Make A Boss option, which we ended up doing a lot to begin with to raise funds for weapon/health and armour upgrades. While the specific components of the boss can't be selected and changed individually, you are able to re-roll until the randomly generated boss suits what you're looking for in a battle. You can see what each of the parts are made up of, as well as having a notice of the Bounty that you will be awarded upon defeating the boss.

There are almost 50 weapons to choose from, and all have their pros and cons depending on which boss you'll be using them against. The weapons are all so widely varied that you'll be sure to pick out some that you'll naturally gravitate towards. When in Make A Boss mode weapons are dropped randomly throughout the battle, which can mean you end up with a dud weapon or two - although in this mode, the dropped weapons only last a short period of time anyway. Our least favourite weapon used enemy projectiles as its ammo, pulling them in to some sort of gravitational field before releasing them back towards the enemy. It's not the most accurate of weapons, nor is it very useful, as we found most enemies seemed to just hang fire until the weapon ran out. Even though we really dislike that weapon, there are still loads more weapons that we really enjoyed using: the Wrench is just a fantastic one (including a nod to Gordon Freeman in its description), although can only really be used for close combat battles.

There are also collectibles in the form of gophers - yes, gophers - scattered throughout the 9 worlds and 31 levels of Boss 101, waiting to be found, in order to unlock a secret. You can also have Pets, which don't do a whole lot, but they'll fly around your base (plus there's loads of those to collect too). 

As well as the above, there are a wide variety of costumes and hats to collect and dress up in, including plenty of inspired costumes referencing the likes of Dragon Ball Z, Avengers, etc. These hats and costumes come with various perks in the form of Abilities that will come in handy against the bosses, as can be seen below:

If you ever feel yourself wanting a break from the action, there's even an area for you to go and chill out, and fly a kite with your good friend S.T.E.V.E. The conversations between the two characters are hilariously deep, and we really liked the little bit of interaction between them, talking the same kind of complete and utter nonsense that we and our friends always seem to spout.

Back in the Command Center you have your own Arcade Cabinet, where you can play a few different mini-games which can reward you with unlockable costumes. There's so much to do and keep you coming back for more as the game is absolutely packed with stuff to collect and/or do, despite being quite a small game. 

We were highly impressed with Boss 101, especially given how small the development team is. We'd definitely recommend everyone to check it out, after all, it is only £12.49 on the Xbox Store. So in the end, we decided to give Boss 101 the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get It Bought!

Boss 101 truly is a hidden gem, and we're glad we got the chance to review it.

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

- V x

Monday, 28 May 2018

Asylum Reviews; Conan Exiles [Xbox One].

When we first saw anything about Conan Exiles we were excited. Open-world survival games with the ability to craft till your heart's content is something that really resonates with us - especially Allan. It's why we were interested in Ark: Survival Evolved, and while that doesn't get played as much as it should, we were glad that another game was on the way that fit the bill, to bring us right back into that genre of game.

With no tutorial, you're dropped into the world of Conan Exiles the moment Conan himself cuts you down from a crucifix, and you're left alone, fending for yourself in the wild. Normally, the lack of a tutorial is something we're quite glad of, because everything (for the most part) is able to be easily figured out by yourself... but with Conan, we just felt lost and frustrated at not knowing what the hell we were meant to be doing. The in-game Journal gives you some pointers of things you should try out or do, but aside from that, the world is your oyster - you just have to figure out what you want to do going forward. Do I want to build a base? Harvest supplies? Explore?

Crafting is a huge part of Conan Exiles, so naturally this is something you're going to have to do a lot of to begin with, as well as searching for supplies, but this quickly becomes monotonous due to how needlessly convoluted the crafting system is the higher up the item tiers you go. Beginner items that you'll require, such as shelter and a bed are things you should prioritize right off the bat, as these become your respawn point should you die whilst out in the wild - and believe me, I died a lot.

Gathering enough resources to craft the items you need, be they armour pieces (which require THREE different crafting stations!) or even for building an elaborate base to call home, is hugely drawn out and tedious. Multiplayer opens this up a little, and means that tasks can be shared among multiple players in a "Clan", reducing the overall length of time required to craft and build what is needed, however Multiplayer also creates the added risk of other players attacking and destroying all of your hard work, negating all that time spent in an instant.

Playing solo is usually the route I go down when presented with the choice in games such as this. It means I can play how I want, and I don't have to worry about what other people want in terms of the appearance of bases, tasks, etc. but the staggering amount of time required in order to build what I want means that I'm forced to give Multiplayer more thought (and I just can't quite decide how I feel about that).

The environments are beautiful, and the environments have definitely been created to encourage exploration - with plenty of hidden nooks and crannies for you to seek out and search for any treasure potentially hidden within. But the world itself just feels so bleak and empty: there aren't many NPC Outposts available, and even when you find them there just isn't a whole lot going on, again promoting the Multiplayer side further since, at least there will be other people playing.

Enemies are varied, with plenty of creatures out there just waiting to tear you to shreds, and combined with the harsh environments, such as the killer Sandstorms, you'll find yourself struggling to stay alive - yes I know it's a survival game, but holy shit. Combat, however, is tiresome, and just didn't have enough of a flow to it to make us really enjoy it. It's slow and just, well, not fun. I longed to love this game, but there's just too many things available to be picked apart - and that's before I've even touched on the bugs.

The bugs. From falling through maps, to reports of people's buildings getting randomly destroyed (with no input from NPCs/other players) right down to the simple inability to even get on to a server, there's just too many issues that ruined any and all enjoyment we were having with the game. Conan has a lot of potential to be a great game, but ironing out all of the bugs is definitely going to have to be done soon before players all quickly lose interest. If anything, the game just reminded us of what we were missing by not playing Ark in a while, so we ended up going back to that!

In the end, we have decided that Conan Exiles gets the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Boring As Baws

What do you think about Conan Exiles? Have you played it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 14th May 2018 - Sunday 20th May 2018 [Week 20].

Ahh, I let a week slip past me so here I am backtracking over the past week's arrivals, instead of adding to this each time something comes. Apologies, there might be some things missing! But here are this week's Entries to the Asylum (with some hints of reviews to come!):

Monday 14th May 2018

- Batman Ninja Limited Edition [Bluray].
- Aragami: Shadow Edition Review Copy [Xbox One][Digital].

Tuesday 15th May 2018

- The Bloodthirsty Trilogy [Bluray].
- Batman Ninja w/ Slipcover [Bluray].

Wednesday 16th May 2018

- Batman Ninja Steelbook Edition [Bluray].
- The Hills Have Eyes Steelbook Edition [Bluray].
- Conan Exiles Review Copy [Xbox One].

Thursday 17th May 2018

- J.T Studio Xmas Party 2-Pack [Figures].
- Erased Part 1 Collector's Edition [Bluray].
- Erased Part 2 Collector's Edition [Bluray].
- Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Christmas Cards [Merch].
Plus Tameem Antionades and Melina Juergens signed one of them for us <3
- Hitman Definitive Edition Review Copy [Xbox One].
- My Hero Academia Season Two, Part Two Review Copy [Bluray].

Friday 18th May 2018

- Pokémon Indigo League Season 1 Limited Edition [Bluray].

Saturday 19th May 2018

- Serial Experiments Lain Complete Boxset [Bluray].
- The Big Lebowski 10th Anniversary Limited Edition [DVD].
- Boss 101 Review Copy [Xbox One][Digital].

Sunday 20th May 2018

- Rocko's Modern Life Turbine Steel Edition [Bluray].
- The Angry Beavers Turbine Steel Edition [Bluray].

Glad to finally add some of these to the collection :) Also, we were pleasantly surprised by the Turbine Steel Editions: both limited and numbered out of 1000, and they were only around £22 each including shipping. Definitely hoping they bring out more old cartoons in these, as so many sets are hard to find nowadays for older cartoons (and some didn't ever get full home releases in the first place) - fingers crossed for a Courage the Cowardly Dog Turbine Steel Edition!

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

- V x

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 7th May 2018 - Sunday 13th May 2018 [Week 19].

I'm sure you've noticed this post is over a week late. I could honestly strangle earlier-version-of-me. I had pre-written out this post, with all of the dates so that it would be easy for me to just add in the items as the arrive... but no, I lost track of time due to being so busy with work and the kids, but alas - the post is finally here (with the past week's one to follow). As always, when this happens, there might be some things missing - sorry!

Tuesday 8th May 2018

- First 4 Figures Majora's Mask Exclusive Day One Edition [Statue].

Wednesday 9th May 2018

- Hellblade Senua Necklace [Accessories].

I'm sure there's other things that we received in this week, but since it took me so long to get around to writing this post I've lost track! Anything else I remember will get added as and when :)

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

- V x

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Asylum Reviews; Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice [Xbox One].

We recently got Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice for Xbox One. We had been intrigued by the game since it was first revealed, but had never gotten round to playing it. Being big fans of Ninja Theory's previous games, including Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry, we were definitely interested upon hearing of their latest production: a game with the main character hailing from Scotland (Orkney, specifically). It was bound to grab our attention. The emphasis on Mental Health, with Senua experiencing psychosis further piqued our interest, as it is a subject not often tackled by video games - or at least, not in any great depth.

The game begins with Senua rowing on her quest, passing by corpses displayed on the route to Helheim. The imagery is completely, beautifully creepy, and is utilised well as an opening credits scene, with crew members names displayed along the sides of the river (similar to Inside which also began with you being dropped straight into things while the credits show in the background). There's no tutorial, which we really liked, instead you learn as you go with Senua's auditory hallucinations. These hallucinations, which Senua calls "Furies" both encourage and demotivate her: some warn when an enemy is approaching from behind, whereas others will tell her she's useless and will die. You learn to read the Furies, and adapt from being mildly uncomfortable having these voices in your head, to being grateful for their presence. Wearing headphones is said to make for the best experience, however having the volume up slightly louder than normal also helped.

One thing I was completely worried about from the beginning was the inclusion of a Permadeath mechanic. I love games, but I must admit I'm not the greatest (most of the time), so this left me feeling paranoid that I'd never get to play the game in its entirety. The permadeath feature is explained to you by the "rot" slowly creeping its way up Senua's arm, with a description on screen describing how this will grow each time you fail, before eventually ending everything upon reaching her head:

. By the first "boss", where you have a choice between Valravn and Surtr as for who to fight first (I chose Valravyn), which is where the rot is explained to you, it was located around my/Senua's hand/wrist. I died once in the main fight with Valravyn (mis-timed a parry) and was instantly like "oh my God, how many times can I die before my save is gone!?" so I made the effort to be super careful... and then I died again. Once I'd defeated Valravyn, I was calmer - he wasn't as difficult as I'd anticipated, but with two deaths under my belt I had the absolute fear about what was to come. After completing the game (and never triggering permadeath), I Googled to see if it was actually achievable. You can Google to find out more info from the articles already out there - I found this one to be quite informative. I actually like Ninja Theory's reasoning for this, as it made the game more tense and definitely made me more careful - but ultimately did not run the risk of ruining my entire playthrough (and experience of the game).

The combat was fluid and felt fantastic, despite the game being a walking simulator in most senses. But the fun combat, combined with the interesting story and fantastically immersive sound design (not to mention the stunning graphics) made this by far the best "walking simulator" I've ever experienced.

I returned from the Valravyn fight to then make my way through the other door to go fight Surtr, but was unexpectedly attacked by a bunch of Northmen. Death three. When I restarted my return to the doors, I carefully inspected Senua's arm. I'd died three times now, just what would the cut off point be? Have I got one death left? Two? Seven? I managed to make it quite a bit further in the game with no additional deaths. By the time I'd reached the four Shard Trials, the rot had grown much darker, and was as far as my elbow - yet I hadn't died again. Or had I? I was starting to question myself, and then wondering if this is what the devs wanted us, as players, to feel.

Along the way, you'll see collectible Lorestones. These Lorestones give you further pieces of insight from Druth, a man Senua once knew (known by many to be a fool) - now reduced to just the memories and voices in her head. There are 44 Lorestones to collect in total, represented by runes around a dial shown on the stones themselves. There is no chapter select, or continuation of the story after completion so if you miss one in your playthrough, you'll simply need to start over if you want to collect them all. Frustratingly, I missed one around half-way in to the game. I debated starting again (as collecting all 44 triggers an additional cutscene at the end of the game), but I was too engrossed in the story to want to restart - at least not yet. By the end, I was missing two Lorestones - thankfully these carry over through playthroughs, so my second playthrough will just be to claim the missed ones and then complete again for the final scene. Druth's voice actor, Nicholas Boulton is fantastic in his role, although I am partial to an Irish accent!

All throughout the game, I was astounded by the performance given by Melina Juergens as Senua. Not only had she been the physical embodiment of the character (as she did the motion capture for her) but her voice-acting was tremendous. She fully committed to the character, and the emotion required to play the role convincingly. The pain in her voice, near the end of the game as she shouts "fuck the Gods" - it was just so real. You could feel every bit of pain and torment that Senua was experiencing, and you believed it all. Definitely excited to see what else she has to offer in future.

As I got to the end, I was desperate - as Senua was - and had grown weary of all of these seemingly never-ending battles. Her sword, Gramr by now was glowing blue, and her Focus power was much stronger, lasting far longer than before. This allowed me to just mow down enemies, in a completely cathartic and satisfying release, before you finally come face to face with Hela - and have Senua finally come to terms with her grief over Dillion. It was an emotional ending, one that I'll freely admit had me sobbing my heart out. The music playing over the ending and credits fit so perfectly with the theme of everything, as well as that final moment, that I could have sworn it had been written specifically for the game itself. It wasn't - VNV Nation's Illusion was in fact released back in 2007, but was just perfectly chosen for this final moment.

All in all, I'd have to give Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice the Collecting Asylum rating of:


I'd highly recommend anybody to play (and have been struggling to not talk about every single moment of the game with friends/family!) as I really connected with and enjoyed this game more than I have for any other game in quite some time.

Have you played Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice?
What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 30th April 2018 - Sunday 6th May 2018 [Week 18].

Lots of new arrivals this week again :) Working on a review for Hellblade currently so you can expect to see that here shortly :) Looking forward to watching/rewatching everything that has arrived this week!

Monday 30th April 2018

- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild OST First Pressing Limited Edition [CD].

Tuesday 1st May 2018

- Street Trash Collector's Edition [Bluray].

- Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! Steelbook [Bluray].

Wednesday 2nd May 2018

- Digimon Adventure Tri Part 4: Loss Collector's Edition [Bluray]. 
- Flip Flappers Complete Collection Premium Box Set [Bluray].

Thursday 3rd May 2018

- Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice [Xbox One][Digital].
- Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies Limited Edition [Bluray].

Friday 4th May 2018

- It Follows Replacement Steelbook [Bluray].

- Cheech and Chong Up In Smoke 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition [Bluray/Vinyl].

- Deadpool 2-Year Anniversary Edition [Bluray].

- Unravel Collector's Edition [Xbox One].

As soon as I opened the box, Yarny went off on a mini-adventure!

- Mighty No. 9 Signature Edition [Xbox One].

- Escape from New York Steelbook [Bluray].

- The Fog Steelbook [Bluray].

- They Live Steelbook [Bluray].

- Psychotica [Bluray]. 

- Wolf Cop [Bluray].

- The Dark Below Horror Pack Limited Edition [Bluray][Signed].

Lots of goodies this week! And have done a bit rearranging of the collection, to try and free up some space (especially as Majora's Mask Ex. will be here soon!) so all of these are actually on shelves, rather than being relegated to the floor for a few months haha.

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

- V x

Asylum Reviews; Moonlighter [Xbox One].

The basic premise of Moonlighter is fairly straightforward. You work your way through dungeons, killing monsters and gaining loot. Th...