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: Neversong [Xbox One].

Atmos Games’ Neversong, formally known as Once Upon a Coma is a fantastic little title. You play as a young boy called Peet, who awakes...