Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PS4): COMPLETED!

It was quite some time ago that I bought this, but as I’m trapped on the sofa recovering from an operation, I decided to start it this week. Which was a slight mistake to start with since I’d just had my stomach effectively torn open and the first ten minutes of Wolfenstein II has BJ also recovering from having his stomach torn open. In a much more horrific way, but still.

Anyway. I’d enjoyed the previous two games in the series, and this was almost as good. Or better. Hmm.

It’s somewhat different, in that you’re in America for most of the game, where Manhattan has been nuked. And, since it’s set in an alternative 1960s, it’s very hard not to draw parallels with Fallout for these reasons. The bombed out buildings and constant radiation, along with green-screen computers and the aesthetics on board your stolen Nazi submarine feel about as Fallout as you can get. There are other locations, which are less nuclear holocausty, though, such as New Orleans.

It’s also different in there aren’t as many giant dogrobots as in previous games, and there’s no weird Nazi experiments or messing with the occult. You do, however, end up on Venus for a while because the plot is utterly ridiculous.

But despite the differences, and the changes in personality for both Fergus and Engel, neither of which seem to fit with their previous characters, it’s an excellent game. It has fun weaponry, fast combat (I think it has taken a few pointers from Doom here, actually), and some great new characters. Apparently Youngblood, the followup to this, is a bit of a stinker, which is a shame as there aren’t many first person shooters I enjoy these days and another Wolfenstein would be appreciated. Maybe when it’s cheap I’ll try it anyway.

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Astral Chain (Switch): COMPLETED!

I always like the idea of Platinum games, with their amazing combat and bonkers stories, but I rarely hold them in the high regard a lot of other people seem to. Bayonetta is a great game, but is it worth the heaps of praise it gets? I’m not sure. The Wonderful 101 was, well, Wonderful, but it was a way from perfect despite the reviews.

Astral Chain, though, is really something special. I think, being half “adventure” and half combat has helped, with the story and setting being allowed to shine via the slower paced police work. The combat is complicated and rewarding, and reminds me a lot of the way you control your heroes in The Wonderful 101, as they’re in a chain of sorts, as your Legion here is chained to you. You’re almost as acrobatic as Bayonetta, and there’s also a couple of motorbike sections like that game, but they’re thankfully much better executed (and looking) in Astral Chain.

The adventure sections provide a fair bit of humour, with silly police missions like cat and balloon rescue interspersed with more serious stuff. In the early levels, the combat (especially against larger enemies) tends to take place in the sparsely rendered astral plane and sometimes your police investigations drag you there. It’s a neat way of both providing a large open area to fight in, rather than the enclosed streets of The Ark, and to reduce the number of scenery polygons needed to be pushed around so the big foes can look incredible. It’s a very, very good looking game, especially for a Switch game.

I wasn’t going to buy Astral Chain, but I saw it really cheap and picked it up on a whim, and I’m glad I did. I hope too that the world teasing in the epilogue, coupled with how well this sold, will mean we get a sequel.

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Tint (iOS): COMPLETED!

Tint is a relaxed puzzle game, where you use watercolour paints to colour in objects on each level. Mixing colours produces different colours, as you’d expect, and the trick is to make sure you don’t cut off routes from paint sources to objects as you paint.

There are a lot of these sorts of games around at the moment, such as Lines on the Switch, but this one isn’t grid based and gives you much more freedom in working out a solution. On the other hand, it can be a little fiddly weaving your paint line through narrow gaps without touching other colours already down.

It isn’t very hard, nor very long, but is an enjoyable little game while it lasts.

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Mini Motorways (iOS): COMPLETED!

Let me just address your question of “Alright deKay, how are you going to claim you’ve completed this?” right off the bat. Each level has an achievement for getting a certain number of cars on the map, and I hit this target and got all the achievements. Happy?

Mini Motorways is very similar in style to Mini Metro, which I have on many different devices and enjoy very much. It’s not surprising it’s similar as it’s the same developers, of course, but there’s something not quite right with it and I’m not sure it’s entirely down to me not being very good at it.

The aim is to join up houses with a matching colour building, by drawing roads, so people can get to and from work. If you can’t supply enough people in cars fast enough, then it’s game over. And here is the problem: sometimes you can’t through no fault of your own.

Of course, you can fail by causing too much traffic congestion, or having routes that are too long, or not making use of motorways, bridges or traffic lights most efficiently, but I was failing even when I’d the shortest possible route with no delays or junctions. The game simply wasn’t proving me with enough people to service the buildings, or was but randomly putting them far too far away from each other.

As a result, success was much more down to luck than planning, of which there was an element in Mini Metro but here it’s more obvious and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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The Get Out Kids (iOS): COMPLETED!

Another Apple Arcade title, and one that looked really nice but turned out to be pretty weak. There are lovely little dioramas for each location, with what starts out as simple point and click puzzles in each. Unfortunately, the puzzles are all far too simple throughout the game instead of getting harder or more complicated.

The story also seems to start out interesting, a couple of kids in the 80s sneaking out at night to watch a film, but then it veers into uninteresting vampire nonsense. Props for being inclusive with the characters, but they’re poorly written with shoehorned 80s references cluttering the dialogue and, well, just too much dialogue.

It’s not puzzley enough to be a puzzle or adventure game, and not clever or exciting enough to be a narrative discovery game, so ends up as a bad one or the other or in limbo between the two.

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Vice: Project Doom (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d never heard of this game before, and I only gave it a go as I noticed it on the NES Online service thing on the Switch today. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty good.

I say surprisingly, because it very much reminded me of two terrible games I’ve played recently: ESWAT and Ninja Gaiden. Somehow, though, it’s much, much better than either of those. It has the same sort of platforming, bosses, and even a plot not too dissimilar to Ninja Gaiden, as well as interstitial dialogue like both other games. It plays much better, though, with tighter collision detection and baddies that don’t constantly respawn if you move one pixel back and forth.

As well as the platforming, there are a couple of Spy Hunter-like driving sections. These aren’t great, and actually play out more like a vertical shooter than a driving game, but they’re easy and quickly over. There are also a few Operation Wolf style shooting levels, which are OK but obviously suffer a bit as you can’t use a lightgun.

So yeah, it was surprising. Not the best NES game by any means, but above average and I’m amazed I’d never seen it until today.

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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch): COMPLETED!

It can’t be that long ago when I last played the original (well, DX) version of Link’s Awakening, I thought to myself. After all, I remember most of what I’m supposed to be doing. It turns out it was more than eight years ago. It also turns out I’d not remembered quite as much as I’d thought.

This Switch version is a shot-for-shot remake of Link’s Awakening DX. All the same enemies, all the same weapons, all the same characters, and the exact same map. What has changed only modifies things. Most obviously, there are the new tilt-shift rendered toy-like graphics, with everyone looking like little plastic dolls. It works really well. Then there’s the continually scrolling world, rather than being flip-screen (apart from in dungeons – some rooms still switch) which actually makes the game map appear somewhat smaller than I remember.

Of course sound in massively improved too, but the other big change is the controls. On the Game Boy, you only had two buttons – A and B – to use weapons. You kept having to go into the menu and swap them out. This was pretty tedious, especially if you needed three weapons at once, and out of sheer laziness meant that the shield rarely got used. In the Switch version, some weapons are permanently tied to buttons, which means you can always use your sword, shield and pegasus boots without swapping them in, and you still have two action buttons for other things. I generally found keeping Roc’s feather on Y and then just changing the use of X when needed worked best for me. Having a shield at all times makes the game one hell of a lot easier.

In fact, I found the whole game very, very easy, only dying twice. Of course, some is down to the shield and easier controls, but no doubt much is because I remembered a lot of where I needed to go and what to do. Although I did lose Marin for a while which made me think there was a bug. There wasn’t – I had just lost her.

As much as I really enjoyed the game, and I must stress that it is really good, I can’t help think how good Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons would be using this engine, as they’re even better than Link’s Awakening. I’m hoping they do those before Breath of the Wild 2!

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What the Golf? (iOS): COMPLETED!

I didn’t think Apple Arcade was ever going to be for me, and to be honest I still don’t, but that hasn’t stopped me getting the month’s free trial and giving a few things a go. What the Golf is one game that stands out as “working on a touch screen”, to the point where I’ve managed to complete it. And, more importantly, enjoy completing it!

The game starts off as a golf game. Pull back your finger to aim and control power, and get the ball to the flag. Very quickly, however, things change. The flag moves, or you “hit” the club instead. Or the golfer. Or the hole. Or cars, bottles, footballs, bicycles, houses, saw blades, and many other increasingly ridiculous things.

As you move around the map, you reach areas with levels last pay homages to other games – Flappy Bird, Super Meat Boy, Portal, Superhot, Mario, Katamari Damacy and Metal Gear Solid. The rules of the game frequently change, with many ideas used just once then discarded. Instant restarts and for the most part unlimited “swings” reduce the frustration, so the game remains constantly fun. The only level I didn’t enjoy was the final one, and that was because it’s very long with many sections – and I encountered a bug in the final section which meant I had to keep restarting. That aside, What the Golf is excellent.

I do wish it was on the Switch instead, though.

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I Love You Colonel Sanders (PC): COMPLETED!

Yes, absolutely taking the Japanese dating visual novel genre and tying it up with KFC was a sensible idea. Especially when the aim is to romance the big man Sanders himself. Only what’s this? He’s a young man with a fashionable goatee, and doesn’t look like a bad guy from Dukes of Hazzard?

As a game, being a visual novel, it’s pretty limited. There are a few choices you get to make, most of which don’t seem to have much of an effect but some basically cause insta-death without warning. It’s a short game too, about half an hour in length unless you’re a slow reader, so you barely get to know the cast of bizarre and ridiculous characters who make up the staff and students at the cooking academy the game is set in. The teacher is a dog and a classmate is some sort of pressure cooker, for instance.

It’s silly, a bit creepy, and implying KFC is the height of excellent cuisine throughout grates a bit, but for short free nonsense it was worth a play. I think.

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Untitled Goose Game (Switch): COMPLETED!

Being a horrible goose is the best. And oh what a horrible goose you can be. I mean, you can’t kill anyone or anything (at least, I couldn’t when I tried), but you can make everyone’s life hell for a bit by stealing their stuff, breaking their stuff, and using their stuff to cause them stress and and upset.

You’d be upset too if a goose chucked your lunch in a lake, or took a stool away from you just as you sat down.

It’s not a hard game, nor is it a long game, but it’s a unique, silly and very funny game. Think Hitman crossed with Metal Gear Solid only you’re a goose and instead of killing anyone you have to steal toilet paper and break a dart board.

I’ve completed it (which took about an hour), but that unlocked a sort of New Game+ with a load more objectives, so I’m definitely going to go back in and do those.

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