Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DreadOut First Impressions

About two weeks ago, an indie horror game by the name of DreadOut was released on Steam.  Since I've always been a fan of horror games, I figured I'd give it a shot and possibly review it as well.  So the review might take a little while but I thought I'd share my thoughts on the game so far. 

First off, I'd like to address the fact that this game is going to have two parts.  The first part was just released and the second part will be free DLC.  I'm not entirely a fan of this new idea of releasing incomplete games, but it seems to be the popular thing to do now. 

The graphics are a mix of abysmal and decent.  So far the environments haven't been too bad, although they look like they are from the PS2/Xbox era of game design.  The characters and the player character themselves are mediocre at best, and often the textures are very low quality and look strange on the model they are placed on.  Although this works out well for the ghosts, as their terrible design actually makes them even more terrifying then they would be ordinarily.   

I wasn't expecting much in terms of the voice acting for this game since it is an indie, but some of the voices and dialogue are absolutely painful to listen to.  Not as bad as Daylight, but still pretty awful. 

Although so far the atmosphere in the game is spectacular, it pulls of creepy very well.  It has been a fairly intense experience so far, although the clunky controls break some of that immersion.  Combined with seemingly no ammunition or limits to how you use the cell phone camera to fight ghosts, and the fact that none of the ghosts are particular dangerous I'm concerned that the game may end up becoming too easy.  The horror will fade away if the ghosts don't feel threatening, as their creepy looks will only work for so long. 

But so far, it has been a fairly decent experience.  Stay tuned, I'll hopefully have a review sometime in the couple of days to a week. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The PS Vita slim: Better, Smaller, Pure Awesome

The original PS Vita had a few issues, particularly the short battery life. This is one of the things that was improved on with the release of the new PS Vita model referred to as the slim. One look at this handheld console, and it is easy to notice the difference. The slim is both thinner and lighter than the original version. The other big difference is the change from an OLED screen to LCD. 

Image of the PS Vita slim.

When the PS Vita had first come out in 2012 in North America, I will admit that I didn't really pay much attention to it. As far as I could tell, the Vita at the time didn't have any games that interested me. But then when I saw the new slim model, I looked up some games that looked interesting and pre-ordered it. Oddly the only obvious way of getting the slim model of the PS Vita is either getting a Japanese import or by buying the Borderlands 2 bundle which came out last week.

The Vita feels very comfortable in my hands when I hold it. The fact that it was fairly light took some getting used to, as it isn't anywhere near as bulky as my 3DS XL. Not to mention the analog sticks are significantly improved over the one on the PSP. My only issue is the fact that the memory cards are rather small. The biggest available size for North America currently is the 32GB but it is a bit on the expensive side.

As far as games go, they are now on little cartridges as opposed to those bulky UMDs that were on the PSP. This is a welcome change as the UMD loaded slowly and was obnoxiously loud when it was loading. The game selection is fairly good for the Vita as well, as I was able to find quite a few games that I found interesting. There are even a few coming out later this year like the English version of Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.

I picked three games for my Vita. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, and Ys: Memory of Celceta. While it was quite the neat experience to play a console game like Final Fantasy X on a handheld device, I'd have to say that my favorite game on the Vita currently would be Memory of Celceta. I had played Ys: Origins on Steam and had a blast with it, so I was more than happy to check out another game in that series. I'll probably write a review for that game eventually.

Overall, I really have enjoyed the time I've spent so far with the Playstation Vita. Some may regard it as a failure that can't hold a candle to the Nintendo 3DS, but I think the Vita is still in the game and has a solid shot of making it to the top. Hopefully Sony will have something to show on the Vita at E3, which would certainly help with its popularity.

Monday, May 12, 2014

This Week On RBFB: It's All About The Vita

Well due to a minor delay, I didn't actually get my PS Vita until a few days ago.  So I didn't have time to write an article about the new PS Vita Slim.  Because of this, that particular piece will be moved to this week instead. 

As far as the Outlast Whitleblower playthrough goes, that is finished and I have one more part to upload to YouTube.  Check out the first part of that right here.  The next video series will be a walkthrough and strategy guide for Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix). 

This is going to be one of those light weeks in terms of content, unless there is some major breaking news later this week of course.  Although I get the feeling it will be a slow couple of weeks as E3 remains on the horizon.  There has been a few leaked details, including the entirety of what Sony will be supposedly revealing during their press conference along with a few details about what Microsoft might have under their sleeve.  I'll discuss those when E3 is closer though.

That is all for now folks, talk to you again real soon!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Outlast Whistleblower Review: A Wonderfully Frightening Expansion

It goes without saying that Outlast made quite the impression on gamers when it was released in 2013. It followed in the tradition of Amnesia, which means it was actually a scary game unlike most AAA horror games that wouldn't know scary even if it came up and bit them. That said, I was pleased when I heard about the DLC coming out for Outlast in the form of Outlast: Whistleblower.

Outlast: Whistleblower serves as both a prequel and continuation for Outlast. You play as Waylon Park, a contractor hired by Murkoff to assist them with Project Walrider. Waylon Park is the one who sent the email to Miles Upshur at the beginning of the game, and through Whistleblower you will see what slice of hell Waylon had to go through.

Gameplay in Whistleblower is the same as it is in Outlast. You rely on a camera to light up dark areas, while trying to run and hide from the various crazy people that are loose in Mount Massive Asylum. Whistleblower doesn't add any new mechanics into the game, and relies on the polished formula that made Outlast such a big hit in the first place.

The environments in Outlast Whistleblower are just as lifelike as they were in Outlast. Red Barrel's designers carefully crafted Massive Asylum to be as realistic as possible. This is taken one step further in the beginning when you see what the place was like when people worked there, making the upcoming incident all the more horrifying when you see people desperately trying to escape. You'll also encounter places from Outlast that the previous main character explored, only there will be some details that make them a different experience altogether.

Outlast Whistleblower's biggest shortcoming is that it falls short on the promise of continuing the story after Outlast. While it serves as a great prologue and then concludes the events that transpired at Mount Massive Aslyum, it felt like they could have done more at the end. To be honest, it just felt like they used the DLC to try and set the scene for a possible sequel down the road. There are even some documents that imply that this is not the last you'll see of Murkoff and it's Umbrella Corporation-like qualities. The only other issue I had with Whistleblower was parts where the gore and violence became a little too gratuitous closer to the end of the DLC. It felt like they were just trying to one up themselves, which isn't necessary.

All things considered, Outlast: Whistleblower is as good as Outlast. It is a fun, short little experience that adds more to the dark, nightmarish story of Outlast. It costs $8.99 and is well worth the price of admission. If you enjoyed Outlast, then I recommend giving Outlast: Whistleblower a try. 

RBFB Rating: B+

Monday, May 5, 2014

This Week On RBFB: Return to Mount Massive Asylum and Portable Gaming

It's certainly been a very content filled week for Rated B For Blog. First there was the disappointing experience that was Daylight, followed by Child of Light. Of course, there was news about Destiny as well. There is more content coming, and some exciting news as well. 

First off, I will be reviewing the upcoming DLC for Outlast. Outlast: Whistleblower comes out on May 6th (May 7th for Europe) on PC and PS4. Not only that but I will also be doing a full video playthrough of the entire experience. I'll be posting links here on Rated B For Blog. I plan on doing playthroughs for other games as well. I don't have a set list beyond Outlast: Whistleblower and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, but I will update it soon. 

In terms of content coming for RBFB, I will also be doing a review on the new PS Vita Slim which is coming out on May 6th . I picked up a few games for it as well, and I will provide reviews for some of them. I'm looking forward to seeing the PS Vita in action, as I've never seen one in person before. I spent many an hour playing the PSP, and I'm sure the same will happen with my Vita.

That is all for now, be sure to pick up Outlast: Whistleblower tomorrow if you are interested in getting another scary experience out of Outlast.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Child of Light Review: A Storybook Combined With A RPG

It is always a pleasant surprise when a game comes out that is different from the usual “play by the rules” games that are released on a regular basis. More often than not, these unique gems come from an independent developer that has no association with any big company. Although once in a blue moon, one of the big AAA developers will come up with something that will turn heads. This is the case with Child of Light, developed by none other than Ubisoft.

To be honest, the fact that Child of Light was made by Ubisoft caught me off guard when I first heard about the game. A turn based RPG with a story borrowing elements from fairy tales, doesn't seem like the kind of game you'd expect to see come out of Ubisoft. Yet instead of another Rayman, Far Cry, or Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft decided to go with a project that is certainly one of the more memorable games of 2014 so far. 

Child of Light is about a young girl named Aurora, whom wakes up in a world known as Lemuria. She seeks to find a way home, but first she must defeat the Queen of the Night and release the sun, the moon, and the stars from captivity so that light may be restored to the land. From the beginning to end, one can see that fairy tales were a source of inspiration for Child of Light. Although, the game could have gone without the lyrical rhyme that characters speak with. It is a nice touch in some parts, but it feels forced most of the time.

The most unique thing about Child of Light would be its graphics. Child of Light was designed to look like illustrations out of a storybook, and Ubisoft really succeeded in doing this. Every environment and character feels like they were drawn and painted by hand, and each corner of Lemuria is filled with vibrant color and imagery. A great deal of thought and effort went into creating Lemuria, and that attention to detail shines radiantly throughout the game.

Child of Light plays like a platformer mixed with a turn based JRPG. While it is an unusual combination, most of the experience is well polished. Throughout the game, you'll navigate across Lemuria as you fight monsters and open treasure chests. When you encounter a monster, you are transported to a battle stage where the turn based combat kicks in. Although Child of Light is turn based, there is an element of real time because of the cast time each particular ability has. With this system, you are able to interrupt an enemy's action and keep them from attacking. This also can be used against you, requiring some basic amount of strategy in battle.

Child of Light has several other staples from RPGs, including a skill tree and the ability to craft gems (AKA occuli) and equip them to get a variety of special effects applied to your characters. While these are nice additions, the skill trees don't feel particularly varied for some characters and are more or less a linear path of general stat upgrades. Even the platforming and minor puzzle solving segments of Child of Light feel like they are conforming to some conventional genre standards, including some very frustrating timed puzzles where you have to reach a door before it closes.

RPG elements aside, one of Child of Light's more unique gameplay features takes the form of the firefly accompanying Aurora. Igniculus, the firefly, can use his light to open particular treasure chests, heal, and even temporarily blind enemies in order to slow them. While Igniculus can be controlled by one player, there is the option to have him be operated by a second player. While the second player will mostly just be healing you or activating various objects throughout Lemuria, it is a good opportunity to play the game and experience the story with a friend.

While Child of Light is certainly not a long game by RPG standards, it is fun while it lasts. Child of Light depicts a fantasy world filled with dreamlike places and creatures that will capture the player's imagination from beginning to end. If you are into RPGs and are looking for something that stands out among the crowd, then Child of Light is certainly worth picking up.

RBFB Rating: B+