Saturday, 11 August 2018

Asylum Reviews; LEGO: The Incredibles [Xbox One].

SPOILER WARNING: This game, as expected, heavily relies on the story of both Incredibles movies - so if you've yet to see either and are concerned about spoilers, turn away now!




Recently we received LEGO: The Incredibles to review, and being huge fans of the previous LEGO releases (even reviewing a few of them before), we were super excited about this one. Sadly, we received it a few days before we'd seen the new movie, so had to delay starting to avoid spoilers - which brings me to my first point: If you have not yet seen Incredibles 2, you may want to wait a little to play the game so you can see the movie first. The game starts you off with the story of the second movie, and only after completion of that, do you unlock the story of the first movie. This was something that really quite annoyed me, purely for the complete lack of need - we would have been more than happy to play the two stories in chronological order.

So as I've explained, we start the game right where the first movie left off - which is where the second movie begins: The Underminer wreaking havoc, and The Incredibles needing to save the day. The game sticks to the same formula that Traveler's Tales have used for every other LEGO game - with the ability to switch between characters to utilise a wide variety of skills, completing puzzles, and working your way through the story as a team. As always, there are always a minimum of two LEGO characters in play at any one time, which means that some plot points from the movie have been altered to accommodate an additional character (for instance, scenes that mainly involved/focused on Elastigirl now have a second character to aid her in the tasks for the game). These altered parts usually have some additional humour injected into them, which is a nice touch as they tend to give us a wee chuckle.


Missions blend seamlessly into one another, but leaving you open to wandering off to do your own thing (prompting a "Leaving Mission Area" warning, to allow you to turn back if accidental), however some are so seamless you'll often not even realise you're beginning a new part of the mission until you're in too deep. This does encourage you to keep playing until you find a natural feeling break in the action, meaning that sometimes you'll check the time to see a few hours has passed!

Typical of the LEGO Series games, this game is a dream for completionists and achievement hunters everywhere. The achievements (and/or trophies) can all be attained fairly easily, with no real need for grinding. The unlockable Red Bricks give you the ability to add Stud Multipliers - a staple of the series - so even the ones that look impossible to someone unfamiliar with the LEGO games (such as collecting 1 billion studs) can be achieved before you've even completed the main storyline. The free play mission select also allows you to replay missions with characters of your choosing, giving you access to previously blocked off or out of reach areas, in order to collect the leftover minikits and bricks to tick off those achievements, too.


 Voice acting is standard, with what seems like the vast majority of the lines being plucked straight from the respective movies. Additional lines to go along with the gameplay were recorded, but not using the original voice actors - sometimes this is quite apparent, and other times it's really hard to tell. This seems to be a fairly common thing for movie tie-in video games, and has always been something I can't quite decide how I feel about it. Sound design, in terms of explosions and environmental sounds seem to be done well, and the satisfying clicking of LEGO bricks snapping into place while doing builds is enjoyable, if a little repetitive.

Whilst exploring the world, there will be random Crime Waves, where a surge of crimes will pop up in a particular region of the map for you to clear out. These can usually be completed by doing two or three missions, and then defeating the villain for the Crime Wave, it then unlocks the icons of collectibles on the mini-map. My personal recommendation for when these Crime Waves appear, is to do them right away. When not in a mission, if you enter a district with an active Crime Wave, you'll trigger a Breaking News cutscene, showing what's currently going down in the region. If you then do not complete the Crime Wave, and come back to this region again later, the cutscene will trigger again... and they're unskippable.


You'll find a bunch of Family Builds available around the map, and Pixar-specific ones too, which allow you to build an item/place from a separate Pixar movie (they're all there!) and unlocks one of the characters. I really hope they branch out into other Pixar properties for their own games, but a lack of characters across each movie/abilities that they could work into the game may mean that this is the best we'll get when it comes to Pixar in LEGO games.

Overall, we both really enjoyed LEGO: The Incredibles, and aside from a few gripes about the backwards order of the storylines, etc. we were mostly really happy with the game. It's definitely one to pick up, especially if you're already a fan of the LEGO games, or The Incredibles (or Disney, in general!), however you may want to wait for it to drop in price a little, since it's pretty much predictable in terms of LEGO games.

In the end, we decided to give LEGO: The Incredibles the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Gie it a Go!

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

- V x

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Asylum Reviews; Mugsters [Xbox One].

In a world with robotic UFOs capturing and enslaving humans, you are humanity's last hope. Developed by Reinkout Games (the first from this studio) and published by Team 17 - we were instantly intrigued by the chaotic trailer first seen way back last year. There's very little in the way of story/plot, but that actually works in a game like this.


Each level has three objectives - a main objective (usually something along the lines of destroying a generator or reconnecting lines, etc.), plus one for saving the captured humans in the level, and one for the gems scattered throughout. The great thing is that each of these objectives can be done individually - there's no need to bust a gut trying to gather all of the gems, complete the main objective and then run around rescuing the captives before fleeing the island. You can simply do any bit (and not even complete that bit, even collecting a single gem will save upon escape from the island).

Most levels are straightforward enough that you'll manage everything in one sweep-through, however sometimes you'll just not have realised a gem has been dropped or a human killed as you fly off the island, so the ability to just jump back in and finish off that one little piece of the puzzle makes life so much easier. Completing all objectives unlocks a Time Trial for the level, which we dreaded at first as the obligatory Time Trial achievements are normally f*cking nigh on impossible, but luckily the only ones required of this are to set a time on each level, and then do one particular level under a certain time - plus, you don't even have to do the objectives again, you just need to get off the island!


Physics-based puzzle games are definitely a big hit for me, I enjoy the challenge of working out how to progress, and when they are as simplistic in their styling as Mugsters, that makes it all the better. The sandbox-y level design allows the creativity of completing a level your own way, adding to that the ability to jump in and out of a level and still having completed objectives ticked off just adds to the enjoyment (and takes away some of the frustration that an ill-timed death could otherwise cause).

Most things can be solved through explosions: you have explosive barrels, vehicles that explode, huge fuel tanks dotted around, waiting for a badly angled turn in a vehicle (or for you to cleverly lead the UFOs to their demise). The gameplay is entertaining, although the game is shorter than I'd have liked - but for the price (just £9.99 on the Xbox Store), it's still worth it. The art style is beautifully simple, yet detailed. It's so colourful and joyful to look at, that I almost don't realise how much I'm panicking from the sound of the giant UFOs hunting me down after spotting me. I've also had a sudden moment of realisation after mentioning sound just now - whilst the explosions and everything else going on around you makes noise, and is done really well (down to the footsteps of your character), there is no music in the game at all (aside from the main menu). Neither me or Allan realised this at all upon both of our playthroughs, and it didn't bother either of us at the time, but now I'm aware of the distinct lack of music - it's actually kind of annoying me, haha. We both feel that it would likely have added a lot to the levels, but hey - we're not the developers, maybe they tried music and realised it worked better without?


Mugsters is a wondrous little gem of a game and really captured our minds. The ending was a little plain, which was slightly disappointing after figuring out a code to actually access the ending, but overall we were still very impressed with the game as a whole.

In the end, we decided to give Mugsters the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Gie it a Go!

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

- V x

Monday, 23 July 2018

Asylum Reviews; Mothergunship [Xbox One].


If you're looking for a game with a little bit more creativity in your arsenal, then Mothergunship is the one for you! It's a bullet hell first-person shooter, with heavily (and we mean heavily!) customisable guns, and randomly generated levels. Developed by Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games, it's a spiritual successor to the latter's earlier release: Tower of Guns. 

In Mothergunship, the aim is simple. Fight your way through the insane amount of bullets firing towards you, and stop the alien invasion, led by Mothergunship. The story is minimal, which is mostly to be expected in a game like this - let's face it, we're here for the guns, am I right? The ability to create these absolute masterpieces of crazy guns is something once buried within your imagination. Sure, you can customise guns in some other games, but nothing comapred to what we see here.


You start with a blank canvas, and a whole slew of possibilities. Do you want a shotgun, or a rocket launcher? Homing missiles, bouncing rounds, what about a whole bunch of extra barrels? The choices are there, but be warned - your recharge times will drastically increase the more barrels you add and the more insane your gun gets. It makes it impractical to use these hilariously over-sized guns, other than just to test them out. They just end up dominating your screen and leading you to your fate whilst you recharge, which in a sense is a clever way for the developers to draw that fine line between creating anything you want, and becoming so OP that the game is just a complete bore. You also need to re-create your weapons before each mission, which can be a little bit frustrating. You also need to make sure you have enough credits saved up for the shops within each dungeon if you want to buy extra upgrades or additional health. Later in the game, coins can also be used to buy rather expensively priced weapons from the Smuggler's Stop (which sometimes even allows you to buy back a weapon you've lost if you go to the Lost and Found section).

You also are able to carry two weapons, allowing you even more customisation for how you want to play - something small and precise in one hand, and something larger and more destructive in the other was our preferred option. You start off with just two empty fists, which pack a serious punch, but you need to be pretty close to actually deal damage. You are in a mech-suit which can be upgraded when you return to base and have gained enough experience. You can also gain extra jumps when working your way through the levels as enemies drop these jump upgrades. Starting with three, you can end up with as many as 40 continuous jumps making it a damn sight easier to traverse the rooms.


The gameplay is fast and frenzied, with you having to always be on the move to dodge the onslaught of bullets, whilst trying to wipe out all of the robotic monstrosities on screen. The choices you make in constructing your weapons can just as easily make or break your run as your actual skill in working your way through the levels. Dying will cause you to lose the precious gun parts that you worked so hard to get, giving you a much greater need for survival. There are Challenge Rooms that provide, as the name would suggest, a Challenge, which will reward you with various upgrades, etc. Usually these rooms will require you to survive for "x" amount of time, without using one of your weapons, or without taking any damage, or something along those lines. It's definitely worth it to enter the Challenge Rooms, as the rewards often far outweigh the risk of the room itself. Similarly, there are also Diceroll Rooms which offer up quite a good reward in return for taking the gamble of entering.

Graphics wise, it's nice and crisp, however pretty much everywhere looks the same and it feels very generic and samey to what we expect to see in games like this. Nothing really stood out visually for us, which was a little disappointing. There aren't a whole lot of variations within the enemies, and it can be quite boring to go up again countless of the same enemies. The bosses on the other hand are as fantastic as they are huge, and this really helps to change things up a bit. With sound, each type of weapon sounds great, and very distinct differences between them. The dialogue is funny and evokes a very tongue-in-cheek style: Mothergunship is definitely not a game that takes itself too seriously. The soundtrack is reminiscent of old school arcade shmups, but is often drowned out by the sound of gunfire.


It's often quite difficult to tell if you've been hit when in battle, and the little Loading rooms between the main rooms are very frustrating as it's not a fluid transition from one room to another (and these Loading rooms are glitchy and buggy as heck). The samey-ness of the levels, and repetitive enemy types just didn't give us enough variety to encourage us to keep coming back, despite both of us being avid fans of roguelike games.

In the end, we decided to give Mothergunship the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Meh... *shrugs* 

It wasn't the worst game we've ever played, not by a long shot, but it just wasn't enough to keep us interested at all, and ended up becoming a bit of a chore to play through. We'd have liked to have seen a lot more variety in enemy types to make things a bit less generic. 

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

- V x

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Asylum Reviews; Nidhogg 2 [Xbox One].


Nidhogg 2 is finally out on Xbox One, bringing us all of the gameplay we know and love from the original, but with a whole load of new tricks up its sleeve. And with two brand new, exclusive levels you've got even more reason to try it out if you haven't already. Some people felt that the first game was too basic: you went head to head with another player and using your fencing sword - otherwise known as a rapier, would battle it out very similarly to what we have on offer here. But with a single weapon, people felt it needed more. So that's what we got: you now begin each level (and after each death) with either your rapier, a broadsword, a dagger, or a bow and arrow, each with their own pros and cons. All can be tossed at your enemy, as an extra way of utilising them, but once you've tossed it, you then need to roll over another weapon otherwise you'll remain unarmed (and vulnerable) - but don't worry - you can always stomp the opponent to death if you have to!

First of all, we have Arcade Mode where the aim is to get to your side of the scrolling-screen the fastest when up against your enemy. You can fire arrows at them, stab them or chop them with your sword (or throw any of your weapons at them), in order to slow them down, allowing you to run past to advance further to your winning side. Or, you could just jump over them and force them to chase you! There are small boxes along the top of the screen that fill as you progress towards either your side, or the opponent's, where ultimately the winner will be gobbled up by the fabled Nidhogg, a huge grotesque worm. Playing the game alone is fun, but nothing extra special. Two-player is where it really shines.


Playing up against a real-life opponent with some couch co-op is the best part of Nidhogg 2. Screaming in frustration as your friend takes you down repeatedly, making it look like child's play to win, meanwhile you can't even advance a single screen on your side. A single game can vary from being just a couple minutes in length, all the way up to the double digits. It's a frustrating, yet satisfying back and forth between the two players, as you try to one-up and out smart each other.

We got the wee man involved and he instantly fell in love with the game. The challenge of going up against someone in such a fast paced environment, and with such a simple premise to the game, he was hooked. It also has a lot more replayability as a co-op game, since you can continue to challenge other friends and family, whereas in Single Player it can be beaten in as little as an hour - leaving you no real need to ever go back aside for multiplayer.


There's also an even more chaotic Tournament mode, which allows up to eight players to face off. Cheats can also be utilised, adding another fun layer to the game - you can choose to set it to low gravity, or limit what weapons can be used or even add a timer to make it more of a panic to get to your side before the time is up.

And of course, I can't exactly review this without mentioning the graphics. Vastly different from the original Nidhogg, Nidhogg 2 ditches the simple pixel sprites from before for bulging lumps of brightly coloured flesh. The backgrounds and environments have taken a turn for the gross as well, with some people feeling disappointed in the new look. Frankly, we found the new look to be quite fitting with the humour of the game and feel that it wouldn't quite be the same without these disgustingly hilarious characters. The settings are varied and interesting to look at and the soundtrack is also fantastic, fitting really well with the game.


Overall we'd recommend people to check out Nidhogg 2, particularly if you're looking for a good couch co-op game for having friends over. We gave it the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

Have you played Nidhogg 2? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Asylum Reviews; Agony [Xbox One].


A hellish survival-horror, Agony was developed by Madmind Studio and published by Playway after being funded via Kickstarter back in 2016. Fun fact - the Kickstarter campaign was started on Halloween, which is quite fitting given the tone of the game. The game raised a total of $182,642 (Canadian dollars), and had an original expected release date of March 2017, so at just over a year late, it ended up pretty par for the course in terms of Kickstarter games.

In Agony, you'll begin as a tormented soul down in the depths of Hell. You have no memories of your past, and you must find a way to survive. The only thing you remember is that hell is under the power of the Red Goddess, so you must find her to get freedom. Special powers allow you to control or possess weak-minded demons, which helps you to progress further in the game. There's also a lot of fetch quests plus puzzles, but these can often feel quite repetitive and used as filler to pad out the 9-10 hour game play time. 


Originally rated by the ESRB as Adults Only, the developers had to slightly tone down the gore of the game in order to grant it a Mature rating instead, to ensure that they would be able to fulfill their promises to backers of the Kickstarter campaign. A patch to restore the original version was discussed but caused further controversy, so it's still up in the air as of now.

Considering all of the gore and nudity throughout the game, I'm surprised to hear that this is it "toned down". The gore, whilst initially quite gruesome, felt tame by the end as there's just so much of it. All of the naked boobies, bodies completely ripped to shreds, rotting foetuses and full blown orgies also were not as unexpected as I felt they should have been, which took away some of the effect. These things were to create a sense of shock, and dare I say it - horror - when you come across them, but instead you're just completely desensitized to the inclusion of it all in the game, pretty quickly.


The environments are extremely well detailed, and you can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into making each and every location look as creepy and hellish as possible. You can feel the pulsating blood coursing through all of the bodies and flesh making up the architecture. It's impressively done, but it is all done to such a high-level of creepiness that it does detract away from itself in a way.

Enemy design, in comparison, is quite tame and boring. Fairly bog standard quality enemies which was definitely quite a disappointment. You've got the whole of hell to play with, and come up with all of these crazy ideas, yet these are the enemies we're landed with? Enemies are pretty damn strong, most times killing us in just a few quick hits after spotting us - and believe me, it's easy to be spotted - which can completely kill all of your drive to play the game for a while as checkpoints are so few and far between (and crazily well-hidden) that a pointless death will often rob you of a good 30 minutes to an hour of work.


Once you're killed, you have a short amount of time available to find yourself a new body to possess in order to keep going, otherwise it's back to the last checkpoint for you. This info isn't clearly given to you as a player, meaning that without this knowledge, you're likely to succumb more than what would really be necessary.

Sound design really adds to the creepiness of the game, and the general atmosphere leaves you on edge and constantly tensing up in preparation for various jump scares that can catch you off guard. I feel that without the creepy noises and slight changes in music to determine when an enemy was near really caused an anxiety spike, and helped the game out a lot in terms of scariness - without actually being an overly scary game, per se.


Overall, we enjoyed Agony, but didn't find it as great as we'd hoped, so we decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Eh... *shrug*

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

- V x

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.

Halo.
- 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.

Fable.
- 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.

Indies.
- 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.

Forza.
- 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.

Anthem.
- 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.

Indies
- 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

Asylum Reviews; LEGO: The Incredibles [Xbox One].

SPOILER WARNING: This game, as expected, heavily relies on the story of both Incredibles movies - so if you've yet to see either and ar...