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Parappa The Rapper Remastered Review For PS4

You can pretty much count the number of PlayStation games from 1996 that actually stand the test of time on a single hand, but Parappa the Rapper is a particularly egregious example of a game that had a deep problem even back then: it’s a rhythm game that can’t keep rhythm.

At their worst, broken games are a valuable lesson in what not to do. But at their best, you get games that overcome major technical shortcomings to deliver exceptional experiences despite their flaws. Parappa the Rapper is almost–almost–in that latter category. After all, it’s difficult to put down a game about a rapping dog trying to win the affection of an anthropomorphic sunflower by learning karate from a giant onion, getting his driver’s license from a moose, and nearly screwing up his date with her because he can’t find a toilet to pee in.

While Parappa and the world he inhabits are amusing, the game he stars in is frustrating to play. The foundation of the game is a call-and-response system: in each stage Parappa is paired with a wacky character with some wisdom to impart via the power of hip-hop. The stage master will drop a silly, nonsense rhyme, each syllable of which corresponds to a timed button press on the controller. You need to copy the pattern and respond with a rhyme of your own.

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It’s a simple enough premise, but as with the original, the remastered version of Parappa the Rapper struggles to find its rhythm. Trying to match button presses exactly with what you see on screen will result in failure. What ultimately works is hitting the syllables in some invisible sweet spot that seems to be unique to each master, which means gameplay feels more predicated on luck than rhythm. Regardless, even when Parappa’s rhymes do play out on time, he sounds like a dying Siri.

The kicker is that the game has an Easy mode that eases the odd and strict timing for each note, but–in another one of those touches that could only have come from the mid-’90s–only the first three stages of the game are playable when you knock the difficulty down, and your scores aren’t saved. Oddly, the game’s original cutscenes remain untouched–they’re presented in tiny boxes, in their original low-res form.

It’s an awful rhythm game. All the more awful because I was compelled to continue playing despite its obvious flaws.

Despite its issues, Parappa the Rapper has an infectious spirit. Its bright and unmistakable aesthetic lends the game an undeniable charm, especially since the remaster smooths out the original’s jagged pixels. The tonal weirdness makes its craziest moments unforgettable. The raps are Sesame Street levels of rudimentary yet silly enough to be memorable, and the constant repetition of failing and retrying stages hammers them into your brain like musical nails.

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The linchpin is the game’s attitude. Parappa himself is a loser with no money or prospects who spends his entire day hanging out with his loser friends. He’s also constantly being shown up by the very rich and very lame Joe Chin, who shows up in every cutscene to demonstrate how much better he is. And yet, every time the chips are down, Parappa springs up, screams “I gotta believe!” and does something crazy to match Joe with the sheer size of his heart. Parappa is the G-rated version of 8 Mile’s B-Rabbit, and his willingness to overcome every obstacle in his silly life with the power of belief is so charming, it’s easy to forget you’re getting torn apart on the scoreboard.

There’s a generation of gamers who will find Parappa the Rapper Remastered validates all their happiest memories watching Parappa kicking and spinning with Chop Chop Master Onion again, more vibrant and colorful than ever before. But there will come a point when they have to confront how incongruous the aggravating gameplay is with how delightful everything else around it is. The aesthetics and vibe are still unlike anything else out there, and they’re still worth the hassle. But the greatest trick Parappa the Rapper ever pulled was convincing the world it’s not a broken game.

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Shovel Knight: Specter Of Torment Review For NS

Shovel Knight is defined by its likeness to games from the era of 8-bit consoles. It takes inspiration from games like Mega Man and Ducktales not only in its pixel- and pitch-perfect audiovisual aesthetic, but also in its mechanics–Shovel Knight is a resolutely unforgiving 2D platformer. Peril is almost always present on screen–be it a bottomless pit or a tough enemy that can quickly whittle down your health–making this a game that demands your undivided attention as much as it does your quick reflexes. Specter of Torment is the latest expansion to Shovel Knight, a prequel that’s available as a standalone campaign on Nintendo Switch or a free update to those who already own the main game, and it follows the titular Specter Knight as he sets out to gather an army for the series’ primary antagonist, The Enchantress.

Specter Knight’s default skillset is dramatically more varied than that of Shovel Knight, with a focus on the lightness and dexterity of his character, as opposed to Shovel Knight’s heavier, brute-force feel. Specter Knight has an innate ability to wall jump, mount ledges, and vertically scale walls for a short time. Most significantly, Specter has the ability to perform a mid-air scythe dash on enemies and certain environmental objects, an attack which sends him flying at an angle and is used for traversal as much as it is for offence.

The execution of these moves is simple, requiring nothing more than a timely press of the attack or jump buttons, and together they make Specter feel like a powerfully agile character who is a joy to control. But with these abilities come more difficult challenges in Specter of Torment’s new platforming levels. Unlike Shovel Knight, whose stages gradually grew in difficulty and were gated in an overworld map style reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, Specter of Torment presents you with the full selection of what I personally found to be equally-challenging stages and their accompanying boss fights, available to be tackled in any order in a structure more reminiscent of the Mega Man series.

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Bottomless pits and other instant-death hazards feel more abundant in Specter of Torment, and proceeding forward almost always involves more than just careful jumping. Stages often require you to chain a series of movements together in order to keep Specter Knight airborne for extended periods of time over treacherous ground, and one fumbled execution could mean a complete do-over. You might climb the side of a wall to get you just enough height to wall-jump towards a series of swinging chandeliers, letting you scythe-dash into each one and eventually fling yourself across the room to mantle an opposing wall. Managing to reach a checkpoint after perfectly overcoming a series of obstacles without fumbles or fatalities is always a thrilling relief. The dexterous demands of performing these moves means that progress always feels satisfying and well-earned, even when it feels second-nature.

Each themed stage adds its own unique mechanical twists to the game’s platforming which need to be internalised too. There are some incredibly memorable ones such as scythe surfing, which sees Specter Knight ride his scythe like a skateboard and grind rails to move through stages at speed–but otherwise the majority will be familiar to those who have played the main Shovel Knight game, albeit with minor twists to better accommodate Specter’s abilities. This is unsurprising, given the game’s prequel nature and the appearance of many of the same characters and worlds, but the new level designs still feel more demanding.No Caption

Specter of Torment also features many of the same formidable level bosses as the original Shovel Knight, and although many of the battles with them seem a bit too similar to their previous appearances, some are altered significantly to make the most of Specter’s mobility, and can come as an enjoyable surprise to those familiar. The fight with Propeller Knight, for example, no longer takes place on a static platform, but in the midst of many tiny, cascading airships, requiring you to continually scramble upwards while dodging attacks.

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The completion of each level allows you to purchase additional Curios, Specter of Torment’s unique version of Shovel Knight’s Relics, which allow for the use of special abilities at the cost of a consumable meter. Each Curio has its own distinct use to aid in the dispatching of enemies or to ease the burden of traversal. For example, the Hover Plume gives Specter Knight the ability to float in mid-air for a short duration, and Judgement Rush allows Specter to ignore pits and walls and teleport directly to an enemy. Each tool adds an interesting new facet to the way you can approach Specter of Torment’s levels, but the entirety of the game can be completed without using them. I found that relying on Curios diminished the sense of satisfaction that came from overcoming difficult obstacles using only Specter Knight’s base skillset, and tended to avoid them.

Much of what made the original Shovel Knight a success can also be found in Specter Knight. Level designs also cleverly act as intuitive tutorials, demonstrating the possibilities and limits of what you can and can’t do in particular stages without explicit explanation. Shovel Knight’s penchant for rewarding exploration is also still present. Secret paths and areas are strewn throughout the game’s stages and hub world. Some are obvious, but some can come as a small surprise to those who are willing to push the limits of the traversal abilities. The game’s checkpoint system–which allows you to actually destroy a checkpoint for monetary reward at the risk of having to re-traverse more of the level upon death–is still a clever mechanic. And Shovel Knight’s sense of humor and charm still manage to shine through, despite Specter of Torment’s more melancholic tone. Small moments like watching a reunited skeleton couple perform a waltz, playing with a cat, or simply enjoying the lighthearted dialog of NPCs provide nice moments of levity.

While it only took us a few hours in total to complete the game’s story mode, Specter of Torment felt well-paced and never unnecessarily short. The density of challenge contained within its individual stages meant that I was always entirely concentrated on the next obstacle, but Specter of Torment attempts to pace its demands on your mental state every few levels with short, interactive narrative interludes that serve as an enjoyable prequel to this prequel campaign. Specter of Torment also offers a new game plus option upon completion with a slightly more demanding health mechanic, and also offers a challenge mode which presents a variety of platforming and boss fight trials under strict restraints.

Specter of Torment is a finely-crafted 2D platformer that is satisfying in all respects. Simply controlling Specter Knight–flying through the air and slicing through enemies–is a joy in itself, and being able to push your ability to control these skills in overcoming the game’s cleverly-designed and challenging levels is always an exhilarating feeling. Specter of Torment is a focussed, polished, and satisfyingly challenging game that’s well worth experiencing whether or not you’ve had the pleasure of playing Shovel Knight.

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Stardew Valley Review For PC and PS4

On the surface, Stardew Valley is a game about farming, but there are more adventures awaiting curious players beyond cultivating a rich and bountiful garden. From mining and fishing to making friends and falling in love, Stardew Valley’s Pelican Town is stuffed with rewarding opportunities. As modern day woes give way to pressing matters on the farm and within your newfound community, Stardew Valley’s meditative activities often lead to personal reflection in the real world. It’s a game that tugs at your curiousity as often as it does your heart.

Your journey begins in the field, cleaning up a neglected and rundown farm. Plotting and planning your garden requires care and attention to detail. What fruits and vegetables do you grow? How much room does each plant need? How do you protect your crops from nature’s troublemakers? You learn through practice, and while the basics are easy to grasp, you quickly need to figure out the best way to outfit your budding farm with new tools and equipment.

Upgrades help speed up essential tasks like tilling the earth and watering your plants, but advanced equipment becomes a necessity when the time comes to break down large rocks and stumps that stick out in your garden. The crafting menu also entices you with optional time-saving tools; automated sprinklers that water the crops every morning, artisan equipment to make preserves or beer out of your harvest, and refineries, such as a furnace for turning ore into metal bars. If you want something, you can make it, you just have to scour your environment for the necessary components.

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As your farm improves, you gain the ability to raise livestock. Animals are expensive to buy and maintain, and the barn they live in isn’t cheap either. You start small, with a barn just big enough for a few chickens and ducks. But if you run an efficient and bountiful garden, you can eventually afford to upgrade to a bigger barn and keep hearty livestock like pigs, cows and sheep.

You have to feed your stock every day, which can get expensive, but they will eventually begin to produce eggs, milk and other rewards for all your hard work. Beyond their monetary value, animals are simply endearing to be around. Give them a name and work a little petting time into your routine; before you know it, your commodities have become your friends. Like your crops, the goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

The goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

When your farm is healthy and your equipment set, Stardew Valley opens up and your routine expands: after you water your plants, feed your animals and tidy up in the morning, you get to head out in search of adventure and friendship. There’s a mine north of Pelican Town with a seemingly endless bounty of buried treasure, but also danger. Combat is simple–a plain swipe of a sword will brush back most common monsters–but the dangers you face grow as you delve deeper into the mine, pushing your basic tactics to the limit.

There’s a risk/reward relationship to seeking out valuable treasure, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to defend yourself from procedurally generated creatures the deeper you go. You hit checkpoints–in the form of elevator stops–every few floors, which both encourages you to keep going and to return in the future in search of grander rewards as checkpoints allow you to skip past the mine’s early levels. The precious gems you find can be sold for profit, donated to a museum that will conduct and share research, or simply hoarded in a chest to be fawned over down the road.

When you grow weary of toiling underground, you can also spend time fishing on lakes, streams and coastal beaches. Fishing in Stardew Valley is straightforward–you use one button to reel in a fish and let go when the line is tense–but it gives you a chance to soak in your surroundings and experience the joys of catching a wide array of fish unique to specific seasons and locations. It’s a calming experience at sunset after a long day that gives you a chance to reflect on your progress and daydream about adventures to come.

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Stardew Valley constantly encourages you to explore, be it mining, foraging for fruit in the woods, or collecting seashells, and your curiosity is amply rewarded. Every hidden area you find, every train track you follow, leads to new sights and discoveries that add detail and color to the world around you. Yet as fulfilling as farming and exploring are, visiting Pelican Town’s community center pulls you ever deeper into your new life. Like your farm at the beginning of the game, the community center needs a little attention at first: you’re sent out on fetch quests to gather the necessary materials to fuel its reconstruction.

Outside of the community center, the rest of Pelican Town’s inhabitants also need your help. In working together to achieve small goals, you grow to understand your neighbors’ personalities and identify what makes them tick. Some are pursuing their hopes and dreams, while others fight day to day to overcome personal obstacles; others are quirky creatures of habit that round out the community’s overall identity.

Relationships are gauged by a heart meter, and getting to a certain number of hearts results in a cutscene that offer a closer look into your new friends’ lives. Offering gifts and completing tasks from a board in the center of town are easy ways to increase your connections, and slowly but surely you’re allowed in the inner circle of people’s otherwise private lives. You may befriend a father named Kent who’s dealing trauma after years at war. He’s working on his temper and trying to bond with his child after being away from home. The child, whom you meet in hiding in his parent’s basement, is quiet and introverted. But when you put the time in to get to know him, he reveals that he actually doesn’t mind being alone, even though he believes that he’s at odds with his parents. These personal moments are touching, and encourage you to spend more time getting to know the people around you.

And if you decide to enter Pelican Town’s dating scene, don’t be surprised if you end up with butterflies in your stomach. Giving your crush the right gift and seeing the joy on their face makes you genuinely happy, but you have to put yourself out there first. Sure, working with townsfolk in general is a good way to understand the ins and outs of potential suitors, but no amount of preparation diminishes the impact of anxiously delivering a heartfelt gesture. Because you’ve invested so much time and energy into forging relationships, you get nervous when you expose your feelings, regardless of the fact that you’re courting a pixelated crush. Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings: when your date shares his umbrella in the rain, you know he’s the one.

Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings

Romance often buds during community events that take place each season. In spring you’ll attend a dance and try to get someone to be your partner. At the summer luau you’ll have to bring something delicious from your harvest for the community potluck. At each of these events you’ll have time to get to know the people within the community and see them in a different light than usual. Although it’s lovely to see them outside of their usual activities, it’s a shame year after year the comments and actions of the villagers remain the same. Still, you can learn from previous years, adding better food to the potluck and finally earning the affection of your favorite dance partner.

Mastering farming and earning the affection of your special someone in Stardew Valley are fulfilling journeys filled with surprising and rewarding challenges. But when you have those accomplishments under your belt, it’s hard to know where you go from there. Divorce is an option, but if you put a lot of yourself into finding a spouse, dumping them merely to extend your game doesn’t seem like an attractive path. Besides, with your money-making farm, cash isn’t a concern either.

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Ultimately, Stardew Valley’s eventful world is so inviting that you may opt to simply start from scratch and forge a new life. For anyone who played Stardew Valley earlier this year when it launched on PC, the new console ports capture the same magic that made the game special all those months ago, and allows you to play from the comfort of your couch. Controls on console are essentially identical to what you get from the PC version’s controller support. Console versions also get the fully updated version of Stardew Valley, which includes the aforementioned divorce option, new farm maps that focus on different skills, and a handful of new mechanics that add appreciable wrinkles to life on the farm and about town.

The sheer number of things to accomplish in Stardew Valley can keep you interested beyond the original three in-game years you need to reach the end of your story–you may just want to start over rather than continue on. You’ll work quite hard to gather enough money for your first horse, so that you can quickly move to the mines to get a mineral to complete a bundle at the community center. It’s all centered around whatever it is you want to accomplish that day. And that’s truly what makes Stardew Valley such a lovely experience, it encourages you to go out and be the best you can be, in whichever task that brings you the most joy. Stardew Valley motivates naturally, with blissful optimism.

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Parappa The Rapper Remastered Review For PS4

You can pretty much count the number of PlayStation games from 1996 that actually stand the test of time on a single hand, but Parappa the Rapper is a particularly egregious example of a game that had a deep problem even back then: it’s a rhythm game that can’t keep rhythm.

At their worst, broken games are a valuable lesson in what not to do. But at their best, you get games that overcome major technical shortcomings to deliver exceptional experiences despite their flaws. Parappa the Rapper is almost–almost–in that latter category. After all, it’s difficult to put down a game about a rapping dog trying to win the affection of an anthropomorphic sunflower by learning karate from a giant onion, getting his driver’s license from a moose, and nearly screwing up his date with her because he can’t find a toilet to pee in.

While Parappa and the world he inhabits are amusing, the game he stars in is frustrating to play. The foundation of the game is a call-and-response system: in each stage Parappa is paired with a wacky character with some wisdom to impart via the power of hip-hop. The stage master will drop a silly, nonsense rhyme, each syllable of which corresponds to a timed button press on the controller. You need to copy the pattern and respond with a rhyme of your own.

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It’s a simple enough premise, but as with the original, the remastered version of Parappa the Rapper struggles to find its rhythm. Trying to match button presses exactly with what you see on screen will result in failure. What ultimately works is hitting the syllables in some invisible sweet spot that seems to be unique to each master, which means gameplay feels more predicated on luck than rhythm. Regardless, even when Parappa’s rhymes do play out on time, he sounds like a dying Siri.

The kicker is that the game has an Easy mode that eases the odd and strict timing for each note, but–in another one of those touches that could only have come from the mid-’90s–only the first three stages of the game are playable when you knock the difficulty down, and your scores aren’t saved. Oddly, the game’s original cutscenes remain untouched–they’re presented in tiny boxes, in their original low-res form.

It’s an awful rhythm game. All the more awful because I was compelled to continue playing despite its obvious flaws.

Despite its issues, Parappa the Rapper has an infectious spirit. Its bright and unmistakable aesthetic lends the game an undeniable charm, especially since the remaster smooths out the original’s jagged pixels. The tonal weirdness makes its craziest moments unforgettable. The raps are Sesame Street levels of rudimentary yet silly enough to be memorable, and the constant repetition of failing and retrying stages hammers them into your brain like musical nails.

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The linchpin is the game’s attitude. Parappa himself is a loser with no money or prospects who spends his entire day hanging out with his loser friends. He’s also constantly being shown up by the very rich and very lame Joe Chin, who shows up in every cutscene to demonstrate how much better he is. And yet, every time the chips are down, Parappa springs up, screams “I gotta believe!” and does something crazy to match Joe with the sheer size of his heart. Parappa is the G-rated version of 8 Mile’s B-Rabbit, and his willingness to overcome every obstacle in his silly life with the power of belief is so charming, it’s easy to forget you’re getting torn apart on the scoreboard.

There’s a generation of gamers who will find Parappa the Rapper Remastered validates all their happiest memories watching Parappa kicking and spinning with Chop Chop Master Onion again, more vibrant and colorful than ever before. But there will come a point when they have to confront how incongruous the aggravating gameplay is with how delightful everything else around it is. The aesthetics and vibe are still unlike anything else out there, and they’re still worth the hassle. But the greatest trick Parappa the Rapper ever pulled was convincing the world it’s not a broken game.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

Giant Machines 2017 Review

If you’re obsessed with construction equipment and large mechanical things, Giant Machines 2017 probably has something to offer you. Giant Machines 2017 is a game that simulates what it’s like to drive, well, giant machines. These are machines like dump trucks, giant bucket-wheel mining excavators, cranes, and that massive moving platform that hauled the space shuttle to its launch site.

I found the game bizarrely entertaining in short bursts. It’s buggy, not terribly attractive, and frequently requires the player to perform tedious, rather pointless tasks. Giant Machines brings up all kinds of questions about worker safety as well. Does the gigantic excavator really have a 300-foot ladder going straight up, with no safety guards whatsoever? And, if so, who takes that job?

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

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There’s a certain novelty to the game as a whole. Similar to the appeal of movies about sharks in tornadoes, there’s a goofy, yet earnest glee to playing with monster machinery. The 12-year-old in me couldn’t help but get a modicum of guilty pleasure out of plowing through town in a dump truck the size of a house or pushing massive piles of snow for no real reason at all. The game’s snarky narrator is also amusing as he gives you mission goals at the beginning of each level, frequently complaining about the incompetent guy who had the job before you.

Despite the inherent glee of operating massive mechanical contraptions and snarky narrator aside, the game takes itself way too seriously and focuses too much on out-of-place mini-objectives. Anyone who looks at a game like this and thinks, “Hey! That’s a great idea!” is likely doing so because they want to bust things up with giant equipment. There’s some of that, but there’s way too much fixing cables, replacing batteries, and other tedious tasks that just get in the way of controlling the vehicles.

When you finally do get behind the wheel of these mighty machines, the game opts for simulation-level pacing–without really delivering any kind of in-depth simulation. You can control almost every aspect of the various vehicles with a control pad, for instance, but don’t expect a riotous, over-the-top destructive rodeo. Instead, take a deep breath, contemplate life, and think about your day as you literally drive from Point A to Point B at about one or two miles per hour.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

The camera has an array of options, which are frequently all bad. Viewing from the operator’s booth in some of the machines barely lets you see what you’re doing, and the third-person viewpoints tend to be even worse. It’s not so noticeable when you’re driving a giant dump truck, but for unusually shaped vehicles (such as the excavator), everything is awkward.

Every vehicle has a radio with several music stations. One sounds like weird ’80s-era action-movie synthpop, while another seems to be Eastern European metal. It was all stuff I’ve certainly never heard before. The tracks aren’t particularly good, but I kind of enjoyed the low-budget equivalent to the standard triple-A soundtrack.

Adding “2017” to the name might suggest this is a modern, up-to-date experience, but the graphics engine looks more like 2006 (or older). The machines–especially from a distance–look decent, but the landscapes are sharp and blocky, and close-up textures and architecture are rather primitive.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

Giant Machines 2017 is only vaguely sim-like and suffers from a slew of flaws. Had the game just dove all-in on the idea of creating a destructive playground in which players could just run wild, it might’ve been a lot more appealing. As it is, the game has a distinct novelty value if you like low-budget, weird games.

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Chronos Review

Chronos Review

Chronos is a game about combat mastery. Hostile encounters lead you through its world, separated only by puzzles and moments of discovery. Understanding your enemies and overcoming them is key to moving forward, while death acts as the teacher that keeps you after class to discuss what you did wrong. Some foes can prove highly difficult, but learning their patterns and how they react to your actions turns such encounters from stilted and daunting to rhythmic and exhilarating. Chronos could be accused of mimicking a number of different games, but what it does with all it has makes for a highly enjoyable experience that stands on its own despite a few flaws.

A third-person action-adventure game, Chronos puts you in control of an 18 year old character, and every time you die and respawn, you age a year. With aging comes changes to your character. While you’re young, there’s a bigger emphasis on your strength, agility, and vitality stats, but that wanes as you grow older–your arcane stat becomes more significant, as your other three stats grow at a slower rate. Starting at age 20, you earn a trait every 10 years that grants you a significant stat boost in either strength, agility, arcane, or vitality. Getting older is just as scary as it is in real life, so staying alive feels paramount to staying strong and healthy; thankfully, it’s not quite as dire as that since I felt like I needed to restart because I had gotten too old–you don’t lose any of the points you assign after leveling up.

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VR lends an incredible sense of scale to Chronos’ world and enemies.

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Your options in combat consist of attacking, dodging, and blocking. Your weapon of choice should correspond to where you’re putting your skill points; if you use a sword, you’ll benefit from more agility, while an axe will become more powerful with a higher strength stat. It’s unfortunate that there are more strength-oriented weapons earlier in the game, as I only got a chance to switch up my sword for a worthwhile weapon when I was deep into the second half of my playthrough.

Arcane is Chronos’s form of magic, though it acts less like what you’d expect and more like a power attack. However, this isn’t a bad thing, as executing arcane-infused attacks is incredibly satisfying. When you get the first arcane stone, it adds a little extra kick to your heavy attacks. Additionally, your attacks become infused with the arcane magic when you dodge at the right time, further enhancing the satisfying rhythm of combat.

Puzzle solutions range from finding and combining the right items to spotting hidden points of interest in the environment. The former works every time, however, the puzzles that require a keen eye can be a pain; an early puzzle that required me to notice a relatively small detail had me stumped for quite a while. The solution consisted of looking intently at something I wasn’t yet able to interact with, so I just brushed it off as something I would deal with later. Eventually, after going through every room and tinkering with every little thing a couple times, I discovered the solution and was able to progress–it was a frustrating bump in what was and would continue to be an engaging adventure.

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Chronos Review

The story revolves around three different worlds, defeating three bosses, and then slaying a dragon. There’s more to it, and it even (sort of) explains why you age a year every time you die; however, it’s all delivered through computer terminals, books, and other optional articles. It’s not the most exciting or interesting narrative, and you won’t feel lost or confused if you choose to ignore it–the sparse narrative acts more as a world-building device than anything else. Chronos allows itself to be all about the combat, puzzle-solving, and adventure.

Initially, Chronos didn’t strike me as something that would make much sense in virtual reality. However, as I played, my mind was quickly changed. Chronos made things you wouldn’t even think about in a non-VR game stand out in effective ways. Gigantic enemies feel huge and made my palms sweat more than I’d like to admit, and there’s a type of enemy that only moves when you don’t look at it–not your character, you. These seemingly small touches make a big impact when playing in VR.

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Chronos Review

Chronos made things you wouldn’t even think about in a non-VR game stand out in effective ways. Chronos is played at a fixed camera angle that shifts as you explore the world, similar to classic Resident Evil games. In one room you’ll be positioned on top of a table, while in the next you could be looking down on your character from a ceiling corner. This method allows for great scene composition, adding to Chronos’ already foreboding atmosphere in an awesome way. One particular moment sets a creepy mood as you–the viewer–are put behind the bars of a prison cell, watching your character move about on the other side. This approach is a defining element of Chronos, and it’s a boon the majority of the time, but it proves problematic on occasion when you have to judge the location of pitfalls from an ill-fitting perspective. Enemies can also get in your way and obstruct your view, and while this is a rare occurrence, it plagues your encounter with the last boss, who’s otherwise frustrating. It’s a disappointing bookend to what is otherwise a game filled with fantastic enemies and rewarding combat.

Chronos’ flaws are obvious, but thankfully few and far between. When you push your way through its more annoying aspects, it welcomes you with enticingly grim set pieces and tense encounters. It’s a highly-rewarding game that proves you can leverage VR to enhance traditional games, but Chronos doesn’t use it as a crutch; it stands tall all on its own.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

There are more than 100 characters to discover in Lego Marvel’s Adventures, and it’ll take dedicated players dozens of hours to access every single one. But even when you’ve unlocked only a handful, it’s clear that many of the characters play in the same way. There may be a lot of Marvel heroes and villains to be found here, but there’s also quite a bit of repetition.

The same could be said of the many Lego games that have released in the decade since Lego Star Wars kickstarted this popular franchise. There’s a familiar, predictable feel to most of these games, and outside of cosmetic differences and some non-impactful combat additions, Lego Marvel’s Avengers very much plays like the latest iteration of a well-worn template. After the wildly inventive Lego Dimensions last year, Avengers feels a little old-fashioned.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

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Old-fashioned doesn’t necessarily mean tired, though. Lego Marvel’s Avengers is packed with fun moments and plenty of content, even if all the beats are ones you’ve heard before. This Lego game goes back to proven ground as a charming action adventure that has a strong focus on puzzle solving. Most of the game plays out in the same way–two or more characters (drop in/drop out two-player support is present as always) traverse through levels, fighting their way through hordes of enemies and having to solve puzzles that usually involve the use of unique character traits. Tony Stark, for example, has the mechanic ability to fix broken machines, while Black Widow’s invisibility allows her to sneak past security systems in order to disable them. Very few of these puzzles are taxing (which is apt for a game aimed at kids), with the key to even the most obtuse ones usually being “hit enough environmental objects until the solution presents itself.”

Combat is simplistic, and is limited to one attack and another special attack. Lego Marvel’s Avengers tries to improve on this by introducing unique moves that result in two characters combining their skills. Thor can strike his hammer on Captain America’s shield to create a massive shockwave, for example, while Scarlet Witch can take a whole quiver of Hawkeye’s arrows and shoot them out in all directions. There’s a good variety of these combinations to be discovered, at least within the core group of Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers–the uniqueness of these moves thins out once you get to pairings with other, lesser-known characters. But with the very simple combat (as per usual there’s no penalty for losing lives) there’s no real incentive to use these flashy moves other than for the brief visual flair they provide.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

This simplicity makes Lego Marvel’s Avengers feel light and breezy, and despite its adherence to formula, there’s still undeniable fun to be had in conquering the game’s many levels. Several action sequences are propulsive and exhilarating, such as a battle on top of a moving train (taken from Captain America: The First Avenger) and a long section set on New York streets in a battle against the Chitauri.

A lot of the joy here can be attributed to the charm the Lego games exude, something that is again abundant in this latest version. The game’s main quest line follows events from the first two Avengers films as well as some of the standalone Marvel films from the MCU’s Phase Two series, but puts it’s own irreverent, kid-friendly spin on them. (Movie spoilers incoming.) Quicksilver gets sprayed with ice cream instead of bullets in Lego Marvel’s Avengers version of one key scene in Age of Ultron, for example, while some of Tony Stark’s routines to get in and out his various Iron Man suits are played to good comic effect. There’s even room made for some sweetness, such as a quick, quiet flashback scene in which Captain America finally gets to have his dance with Peggy Carter.

Outside of the main story, Lego Marvel’s Avengers also features several large open-world areas for exploration. These areas are dotted with quests, checkpoint races, and collectibles. They feel more alive and vital than in previous Lego game iterations of open world environments; the New York area in particular feels jam-packed with things to do, with many Marvel characters dotted through its streets. That same sense of goofy fun in the main quest lines permeates these worlds as well (gigantic dragon Fin Fang Foom, for example, needs culinary help for some strange reason).

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

It’s probably no surprise to say that Lego Marvel’s Avengers appeal will vary depending on your affection for Marvel characters (particularly their Marvel movie versions), and as a fan I was made giddy by the level of detail to be found in this game. The most impressive for fans is the huge number of available characters, which spans a wide gamut of both the well-known and esoteric. Tony Stark alone has several Iron Man suits that he can wear, while obscure names like Captain Universe and Madame B also make an appearance. My personal favorite is Squirrel Girl, who also happens to come equipped with a Hulkbuster-like suit of armor.

After the inventiveness of Lego Dimensions, it’s tough to go back to a game that follows the old Lego formula. But Marvel’s Avengers mostly staves off franchise fatigue thanks to its fast-paced, cheery nature. If you’ve played a Lego game in recent years then you’ll know what to expect: another familiar and fun adventure that you can enjoy with your kids.

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Armello Game Review For PC

Armello Game Review For PC

When you don’t have three friends and some reasonably good beer to keep you engaged, a board game–especially a virtual recreation of one–has to work a lot harder to hold your attention. Armello accomplishes this and then some, and while it could use some fine tuning, it remains one of the best virtual board game experiences available.

At first glance, Armello can feel like a tangle of things–dice and cards and boards and coins and stats–but the quick four-part prologue does a good job of making sense of these pieces. Your primary actions include moving a character around the board to complete quests and avoid hazards. There are eight playable characters, and each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities in addition to items they can equip to skew their stats in a slightly different direction. They also each have great-looking combat animations. Ever wish Disney’s Robin Hood had 40% more bears punching each other senseless? Well, this game is for you!

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Armello Game Review For PC

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To win in Armello, you have to either kill the king or have the highest prestige when the monarch dies due to a disease called the rot. Every full day–one turn for day and one turn for night–the King’s health dwindles lower while his rot creeps higher, so no matter how things shake out, there are a finite number of turns that can be taken before the King will keel over on his own. It’s also possible to defeat the King in combat, either by gathering four spirit stones from quests or tiles, or gaining a higher rot level than him. If a would-be assassin fails, the victory will automatically be handed to the prestige leader. Unless you’re playing against clever friends, a prestige victory is almost always the easiest way to win. This can make the game feel unbalanced, especially when playing against AI opponents that frequently make ill-advised assassination attempts. That said, if you can resist the siren song of an easy victory or have other players wanting to spoil your plans, the varied win conditions provide enough variety to accommodate different play styles and keep things spicy through multiple sessions of playing with friends.

You also have a hand of cards–which are as well-animated as the characters themselves–that can be anything from equippable items and followers to spells and tricks that can be applied to yourself, other actors on the board, or specific tiles. Imagine if you could slam your Hearthstone deck down on a Clue board and swarm Professor Plum with Murlocs, and you have an accurate idea of just how neat this is in practice. Cards all have different costs to play, and crucially, they can be played regardless of whose turn it is. This allows for some tense moments and sharp twists in matches with other human players. On the other hand, when it comes to the A.I. opponents, the game tends to jump around a bit too fast to take full advantage of that ability unless you’re particularly quick on the draw.

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Armello Game Review For PC

What Armello suffers from most is a lack of customization options, something it could have stood to learn from more-traditional strategy games. There’s no way to define whether you want a quick or a long game, A.I. skill levels are static, and when you’re playing with friends, you’re bound to a move timer whether you like it or not. Graphics controls are also somewhat limited, which means that you won’t be able to turn off the haze of clouds in the sky, which would be dlightful if you didn’t have to look down through them when you zoom out to see the full board.

Armello picks and chooses a variety of elements from board, card, 4X, and role-playing games without demanding either a familiarity with or a fondness for any genre. It also leaves a lot of room to engage as deeply as you want with the game’s guts without feeling like you’re floundering if you don’t. Whether you’re bumbling your way to the top or playing all your cards right, Armello makes regicide ridiculously entertaining.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review Games

Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

There’s an alluring sense of immediacy and simplicity to God Eater Resurrection. You jump into a mission knowing full well what your orders are, you carry out those directives, and you exfiltrate when the job is done. It’s the same kind of glamorized efficiency that makes spy fiction so appealing. The narrative device that improves on this premise is, of course, when things don’t go as planned, when the agent or squad must adapt to changing circumstances. It’s due to a shortage of these surprises, however, that God Eater Resurrection never transcends its safe, uncomplicated design.

Resurrection’s world is candy-wrapped around an anime-influenced aesthetic and the medium’s ever-growing fascination with urban dystopias. Along with the variety of environments, there’s a lot of creativity to be found in the design of the enemies you’re sent to destroy: four-legged beasts with faces of old men, living iron maidens, and large bipedal lizards with stylish helmets.

You play the newest member of a team of god-killing soldiers, a group of teens and 20-somethings who’ve managed to survive an apocalyptic event in which hostile demon-beasts dubbed “Aragami” took over the world. As with many teen-targeted manga-styled ensembles, the cast is a collection of distinct personalities with limited emotional capacities. All the tropes are here: the archetypically neurotic support teammate, the brooding all-business specialist, and the squad member whose bubbly, saccharine demeanor can be forgiven thanks to her usefulness in combat.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

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Your custom character fits right in as the rookie who sounds self-assured no matter what voice type you pick. Your squad’s confidence in the face of humanity’s likely extinction is complemented by the extreme designs of their multipurpose God Arc weapons. Not only are these tools of destruction often larger than the people who wield them, but these gunblades also eat Aragami–hence the “God Eater” name. These echo the kind of transformable armaments found in Monster Hunter and Vanquish, only they’re infused with the ferocity of the beasts they kill.

Resurrection’s faithfulness to the original PSP version, Gods Eater Burst, underscores its limitations. The original appealed to that specific on-the-go audience that enjoys brief play sessions. It’s a different set of expectations in the context of a console in a living room, where it feels more natural to tear through a dozen missions in one sitting. It’s unfortunate that you can’t take on multiple assignments in Resurrection without enduring the time-consuming process of returning to base to assess your rewards after every mission.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

There isn’t depth in combat so much as there are multiple moments in a fight where you need to adapt to changes in an Aragami’s behavior. When it’s enraged, you keep your distance, and when it tries to escape, you give chase. It’s like a chess match where the opponent always gets to make the first move. While the majority of the sorties are involved, there’s little room for improvisation. You can pick up the pace of play by using attacks that capitalize on an enemy’s elemental weaknesses, using consumable enhancements, and, most significantly, using the God Arc to bite a chunk off the Aragami. These mid-conflict opportunities not only provide a temporary stat boost for your customized protagonist but to your teammates as well, provided you can spare a couple of seconds to shoot your buddies with Aragami-infused ammo. Yes, you have to fire at your squad. It’s unusual, but it sure beats having to run up to them to enhance their abilities.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

The straightforwardness of Resurrection’s missions is both its greatest strength and most frustrating weakness. There’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting into and in the specificity of your missions. Unfortunately, it takes less than a few dozen quests before monotony sets in. There’s a modicum of gratification in maxing out your gear to keep up with the increasing difficulty of every subsequent batch of missions, yet there’s also a palpable sense of routine, since the Aragami throw very few curveballs. This uncomplicated approach has one bright spot: It’s easy to manage your team, which is both self-sufficient and made up of meaningful contributors. Given that boss battles can reach a frenetic pace, it’s often more sensible to leave your buddies to their own devices.

The simplicity of the maps reinforces this level of ease. Resurrection avoids the Monster Hunter-style loading-screen tedium of chasing your prey from area to area. A ranged strike from anyone on your team will stop a fleeing Aragami. Rarely does a target use the terrain effectively enough to find respite for longer than a few seconds.

There’s a bit more depth to be found in Resurrection’s customized gear and crafting systems. Player progression doesn’t rely on gaining experience through kills but rather on weapon upgrades and other improvements. The challenge lies in ensuring you’re well-rounded enough to have a countermeasure for every enemy type. It’s a compelling judgment game to build a small collection of melee weapons that address every possible Aragami weakness, whether that’s through crushing, piercing, or slashing attacks. Then you have to factor in the weight of each weapon in the field and to determine how much damage you can deal per second. The one downside? There’s no item or weapon so rare or exceedingly useful that would warrant replays of any operation. Aragami item drops and the mission-completion rewards are abundant enough that you’ll always have items to craft and gear to enhance.

Beyond crafting and buying new gear, there’s little reason to spend time at your base, despite the game’s implication to the contrary. Conversations with NPCs are mostly superficial, save for the occasional chat that triggers the next batch of missions. HQ is merely a poorly created illusion of a grander base of operations, especially given the organization’s in-game role in saving humanity.

For as much as Gods Eater Burst excelled in 2010, it’s since been outpaced by similar games. That includes prey mounting in Monster Hunter and a more engrossing atmosphere in Toukiden: Kiwami. There’s comfort to be found in the simple mission goals, but it’s impossible to ignore how repetitive they are–and how outdated they make Resurrection feel in practice.

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Big Bang Racing from TrapLight shouldn’t be missed

Big Bang Racing from TrapLight shouldn’t be missed

Trials racing games were all the rage a few years ago. They are still somewhat popular, but their arrival in the Play Store has diminished a bit. If you enjoy those types of games, then you should check out Big Bang Racing from TrapLight. The game is fun, has plenty of content, challenges and cute and engaging graphics. The controls are spot on too, which helps with these types of games. Though the game has been out for a few weeks, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of your attention.

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Big Bang Racing

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Trials type games have to strike a very fine balance. They can’t be too hard, or players will give up playing the game. If they are too easy, people will quickly lose interest. Big Bang Racing strikes the right balance with excellent gameplay, a wide-array of tracks, online racing and simple to use and well-implemented game controls. It also doesn’t hurt that the main character is a cute little alien, that unfortunately, due to some of the obstacles on the courses, meets his timely end in a multitude of ways. You can share replays of his demise with your friends too.

“Outrun players around the world in action packed races, or collect treasures from puzzling adventure tracks. Create and share your own levels, upgrade your rides, and customize your characters with the swaggiest hats in the galaxy.” – Traplight Ltd.

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Big Bang Racing

There is an amazing trials racing game that never made it to Android. Bike Baron, which was released on iOS in 2011 by Qwiboo and Mountain Sheep was excellent. I am still hoping one day it will come to Android. Nevertheless, Bike Baron had tons of tracks and plenty of users because of the quality of the game, and the game’s ability to have its players make their own tracks. Big Bang Racing has the same quality of gameplay and also the ability to create tracks. The track editor is pretty easy to use too. Currently, there are over 20,000 tracks. Not only can you create and race on other peoples tracks, you can also rate how much you like the tracks. In the era of social gaming, it is not surprising that you can add a thumbs up or down, on something that someone else has created for your enjoyment. I have come across some really neat tracks that are enjoyable, and others that are brutally difficult. Much like the game Mekorama, having an active social community surrounding the game, greatly extends the life of the game.

Within the game you have two different vehicles that you will control. You will either control a dirtbike or something akin to a dune buggy. Each of the vehicles are fully upgradeable. Upgrades become available when you win your races, or when you unlock adventure chests. As with most free to play games, the chests are unlocked after a period of time has expired, or you can do so using coins/gems. Once unlocked, various parts of your vehicle can be upgraded. It also costs coins to install the upgrades. During my time playing the game, the free-to-play structure did not feel forced. You can enjoy playing the game without the pressure of feeling like you have to spend your personal cash.

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Big Bang Racing

The game is easily set up for you to enjoy, which means simple controls. The on screen buttons include arrows on the right side of the screen for controlling your vehicle left and right, and two additional arrows on the left side of your screen that control your vehicle’s rotation while in the air. Being able to deftly control your vehicle will mean the difference between winning and losing races, as well as not being electrified by obstacles or crushed by other elements on the course. The controls work extremely well and enhance the gameplay quite a bit. You never feel like you have to fight the controls to make your vehicle do what you want.

There is an element of adventure to the game as well. While you are playing the campaign portion of the game, you will encounter courses that require you to find three different pieces of a map. Once you have found all the pieces of the map on a level, you are able to unlock a chest. As mentioned before, the chests allow you to upgrade your vehicle and more. Typically when a chest is unlocked you will acquire gold coins, nitro, cards for upgrades such as steering wheels, turbo chargers, brakes, etc. Other key pieces in the chests include elements for building your tracks like exploding barrels, treadmills, elevators, trees and fences. While you are playing the game and amassing all of these different parts, it is fun to be able to go into the track editor to see what you can put together and create. Think of it as Minecraft for racing.

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Think of it as Minecraft for racing

Big Bang Racing Features:

Drive in tens of thousands of player created levels Ride with two cool vehicles – Dirtbike and Offroad car Collect upgrades, treasures and fun new items Create and share your own tracks Race against real players from all over the world Team up, beat other teams in Weekly Seasons and get awesome prizes Climb the ranks in global and local leaderboards Customize your character with cool hats There is a lot to love about Big Bang Racing, from user-generated content to upgrading your vehicles to some really amazing courses. As a matter of fact, one course still sticks out in my mind as being brilliant. You had to find the three different map pieces, but all of the pieces were buried in the soil. The course was multi-tiered. You had to use your off road buggy to dig in the soil to find the map pieces. Watching the soil deform and placing your vehicle just right to fall from a precipice above to catch the piece of the map on the way down is still memorable. Seeing what other players come up with for courses is just part of the fun.

If games like this appeal to you, or creating levels for other gamers is your cup of tea, then by all means download Big Bang Racing. Plus, if you still miss not having Bike Baron on your mobile device, Big Bang Racing will go a long way in making you feel better, about having a game that is just as enjoyable.