Nova-111 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Nova-111
The final boss that wasn’t.

I thought I was getting quite close to the end of the game, seeing as I’d reached the lab (which I was convinced was supposed to be the goal) and beaten the big gooey thing (which I was convinced was supposed to be the final boss), and then a whole new area with new features, baddies, rock types and gimmicks opened up.

In this new region, fire and switches played big parts. Certain rocks could be burnt, opening up new paths, and switches reversed black and white rocks (and baddies). There were also special areas where time froze, and using your freeze time ability time flowed only in these areas, making for some interesting puzzles. In one section, you had to coax a flaming baddie into a time freeze area so you could push it around while frozen in order to redirect it towards some rocks that needed torching. It was surprisingly cerebral.

Nova-111
The actual final boss.

What was actually the final boss turned out to be a pain. He wasn’t especially hard, but he was several stages long and in each his weakness and method of attack wasn’t immediately clear. In a couple of these stages a single slip meant quick death, and all of his stages needed to be redone each time you died. Checkpoints after each would have been much appreciated. Worse than all that, however, was that once defeated for good, the game crashed at the credit sequence. And then did it again on my next attempt. And again. And again. Thankfully, it has recorded I’ve completed it as it allows me to start a New Game+, but I’ve missed out on the achievement for doing so. Odd.

Nova-111
Thankfully, not the sliding box puzzle I was expecting.

In spite of those final few issues with Nova-111, it was a nice little game, using many ideas I’ve seen elsewhere in a unique blend. If I’d had known it was going to play like this, I’d probably have bought it long ago. As a PS+ freebie rental, it’s certainly better than a lot of the stuff on that service recently.

Here’s a video playlist of a mostly complete playthrough. Skip to the end for the final boss fight (spoilers!) and see it crash out!

The post Nova-111 (PS4): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Nova-111 (PS4)

Nova-111I gave this PS+ free rental a try despite everything I’d heard about it (which admittedly wasn’t much) not being too positive. Dull, was the takeaway message from various forum posts, I think. It surprised me, then, when it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I think it’s really rather good. It’s a bit unusual, being a sort of turn-based strategy exploration game with some real-time elements and not a lot of strategy. And you’ve only one “unit”, unlike more RTSes.

You explore a planet, looking for lost scientists, lighting up dark areas of the map as you progress, and bumping into everything along the way. Rock needs breaking? Bump into it. That wall might be a secret passage? Bump into it. Need to kill an enemy? Bump into it. Switch need, er, switching? Bump into it. Power-up container? Bu–you get the idea.

Nova-111Soon you pick up a laser which needs to recharge after so many moves, and a phase shifter that lets you jump through one square, and bombs that freeze baddies, and most levels throw a new type of enemy at you. Some just head for you one square at a time, others zoom across the screen, some grab you from afar with tentacles, and others shoot glowing doughnuts at you. It’s quite funny too, with the things the scientists say and some weird mole creature that randomly pops up to say nonsense.

I’ve no idea how long it is, and although I can say I’ve reached the area that seems to be a laboratory, I can’t say how far in that is either.

The post Nova-111 (PS4) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Lemmings Touch (Vita)

No.

Lemmings Touch
Stupid.

What, you want me to expand on that? Erm. I’ll try: Lemmings Touch utterly ruins how Lemmings works by reversing the order you command your lemmings. In the proper, unbroken and excellent games, you click on what you want a lemming to do, then click on one or more lemmings to do that task or become that sort of lemming. It’s intuitive and it works. In this game, you tap on a lemming then a circle of options comes up and choose what you want that lemming to do. It means that for every lemming you want to make a climber, you have to tap the lemming then the climber icon. What’s the difference? Try making ten of them climbers.

Then they added evil lemmings to the game, which you have to prevent from getting to the exit.

Lemmings Touch
Or don’t bother, and go and play a different game instead.

Look, it’s just rubbish, OK? And it was a day late on PS+. Burn it.

The post Lemmings Touch (Vita) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Broken Age (PS4): COMPLETED!

Broken Age_20151026162213I like point and click adventure games, and it was only a matter of time before I went and bought Broken Age anyway. Then, of course, it appeared on PS+ so I didn’t need to. I sort of feel like I should do anyway, because I enjoyed it a lot and PS+ always feels like renting and renting is Bad. Probably.

Without giving too much away, Broken Age is a game of two halves played out as two seemingly separate stories. On one side, there’s Vella – a young girl chosen to be sacrificed to the monster Mog Chothra in order to protect her village in a ceremony that happens in every village every 14 years. On the other side, there’s Shay – a young boy who lives apparently alone on a spaceship and does nothing but terrible and childish “simulations” where he rescues woollen creatures from fake harm every day.

Broken Age_20151104204202Naturally, their two stories are not only linked, but become one later on. That’s not really a spoiler as it’s pretty obvious; otherwise why not just have two separate games, eh?

I assumed that you had to play one story then the other, but it became apparent that you can actually flit between both at will. In fact, in Act 2, you have to do this in order to solve some puzzles (and it’s at this point I realised you could). Near the start of the game I guessed what the end of Act 2 twist (and the reveal about Shay’s spaceship) would be, although maybe I got lucky.

Broken Age_20151107220309As far as the gameplay goes, it’s a streamlined point and click game. Streamlined in that gone are the days of choosing “give”, “go”, “use” etc., instead everything is context sensitive and this reduces annoyance greatly. I know Broken Age isn’t the first to do this, but it’s appreciated anyway. The puzzles are mostly straightforward, with actual simple logic to them, meaning they’re generally not frustrating as they can often be in these games. However, in the final half an hour or so of the game (or almost two hours as I played it…) there are some real head scratchers: It was too easy to seemingly get things right but them not actually work. Also, the less said about the hexapal wiring puzzles the better. Oh god did they annoy me.

Click to view slideshow.

Broken Age was funny just as you’d expect from Tim Schafer, had a wonderful story and a cast of great characters (almost all with some excellent voice acting too). It was pretty long for a game of this type too, not accounting for my lack of skill in the latter part, it was well over 8 hours. I can definitely recommend it to fans of the genre too.

Here’s my entire playthrough. If you’ve the stamina!

The post Broken Age (PS4): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Xeodrifter (PS4): COMPLETED!

Mutant_Mudds_reference__t__PS4share_httpt.copnYlVFN4rPYou can clearly see Mutant Mudds’ DNA in Xeodrifter. Similar chunky pixel graphics, the same feel in terms of physics, plane shifting, 8-bit music and similar looking baddies. But it’s not a sequel, ditching fantasy mud monsters and platforming for Metroid inspired planet exploration with Metroidvania style progression through ability unlocks.

_t__PS4share_httpt.coryA6YTdcJ0As you flit to and from four different planets in search of your damaged ship’s warp core, you pick up health and weapon boosts, improving your stats and making progress easier. You can reach deeper into the planets’ caverns by beating bosses, which provide you with new abilities – running across lava, turning into a submersible, swapping between the fore- and background planes, and so on.

_t__PS4share_httpt.coW88dty5bMLIt’s excellent and fun, and like many of these sorts of games, becoming a walking tank later on and taking down what used to be virtually impossible baddies with just a couple of shots is always enjoyable. It’s compact, and even though there’s a lot of backtracking, it’s never a chore; in part due to unlocked powers granting shortcuts. I’d read in many places that Xeodrifter was really tricky, but I didn’t find that at all. A couple of bosses were hard, but since they were all virtually the same with an extra move each time you met them, even the toughest was a walkover once I’d learned the patterns.

In fact, the only real downer of the game is the cloned bosses. They are literally just palette changes with one extra move each. Since you become more and more powerful as you progress, they generally get easier too – not harder – with the final few taking one or two attempts, whereas earlier ones took 10+ tries. Despite this, Xeodrifter comes highly recommended for anyone who fancies a short but great looking pixelly Metroid type explorey game. Nice.

Warning: video shows game played from start to finish, so contains spoilers!

The post Xeodrifter (PS4): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Grow Home (PS4): COMPLETED!

Green_Hill_X_Mushroom_Hill_Zone__t_httpt.covHQuSQaYWtSo many people were excited for this game, and voted it way ahead of two other potential PS+ titles this month as a result, but the majority of views of people after they’ve actually played it seem negative. Apparently, it’s “ruined” by screen tearing. It’s boring. The controls (specifically the climbing) are terrible, and so on.

I’d like to suggest, that those people are idiots.

Grow Home_20150901191542Yes, there is screen tearing. But I only noticed it when it was pointed out to me via a screenshot. I genuinely can’t see it when playing. The controls are awkward at first, but soon you find that L2 (left hand grab) and R2 (right arm grab) are intuitive, and by pushing up and alternating L2 and R2 you can climb quickly. As you progress, you unlock a jet pack, what amounts to a parachute, and finally a glider, and from then on, you climb less anyway. You don’t fall off the plant you’re growing so much, and the game becomes fun.

Grow Home_20150905144840I found it fun anyway. Riding flower sprouts from the main giant star plant to glowing islands in the sky (the main task in the game) is fun. Grabbing objects just to see what they do is fun. Getting all the crystals is Crackdown-like, and fun. It’s all FUN.

The most fun, however, is grabbing a sheep, then dragging him into the sea. Always hilarious, especially watching his little sheepy face as you do it. Or, when two sheep are playing football with a pumpkin (no, really), you grab it, and chuck it in the sea. The sheep just look at you in disappointment. Leaves me in stitches. Being chased by a bull. MOM’s comments. Growing a giant phallus. It’s a great game, and those joyless inhumans who don’t think so are wrong.

Sheep based fun here:

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4): COMPLETED!

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811211404I find the term “walking around simulator”, which games like this have often been categorised as, somewhat derogatory.  It’s as if there’s nothing to the game at all, bar walking around, and it should be derided because of this. Which is missing the point.  The aim of these games is not to “win”, not to solve puzzles and leap gaps and shoot Nazis, but to discover the story. Yes, you do this by walking around, but there’s more to it than that.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811214804In Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, erm, everybody’s gone to the rapture. You start off as an unknown person on the outskirts of a Shropshire village in 1984, near an observatory. You can’t enter the observatory as the gates are locked, so you need to travel a massive loop of the village to try and get in the back way. As soon as you set off you hear a radio message which alerts you to “an event”, and as you explore the village radios and telephones start to fill in some of the story behind what happened.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812212352

Along the way, orbs of light direct you to places of interest, where you see some conversations and actions leading up to The Event played out. Technically, you can just walk past everything and head for the end of the game, but then you really do have just a walking around simulator on your hands, and you’re missing both the point and the game.

When you reach the end, there’s no decisive conclusion and no full exposition of exactly what happened. It’s up to you to formulate in your head what you think occurred based on what you’ve seen and heard, and how you interpret what the “glowing light” actually is.

Almost as much fun as putting this together yourself, is reading what other people thought and how their theories compare to your own. With that in mind, here’s a big spoiler:

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150813222415

Obviously, there’s more to it than all this, but I’m not intending to write a dissertation! There are a lot of side stories as well, like the love triangle between Stephen, Lizzie and Kate, or Frank’s difficult relationship with his sister, all of which are explored literally by exploring. It’s intriguing and compelling finding out everything you can from the clues left behind, and the English village setting is beautiful to wander round.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811212930The only minor negatives I have are that sometimes the walking pace, even with the “jog” button, is much too slow (especially when you realise you’ve missed something and have to backtrack for miles), and that there is a huge amount of asset reuse. The same shed, greenhouse, plastic garden table, white sheets on the washing line, Raleigh Burner-alike BMX bike and books are everywhere, repeated over and over again. Houses all have the same kitchen. Even the two pubs in the village have exactly the same “special offers board” and virtually the same layout inside. The worst copy and paste job is the large number of cars that are around the village – of which there are only about 5 or 6 types. This wouldn’t be a problem but they’re not just the same type of car, they’re exactly the same car with the same colour and same number plate.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812223056Sometimes you can see that it’s intentional, with, for example, a car appearing in one location with a Peter Pan hat and swords inside, then appearing later at the holiday camp where the kids were performing Peter Pan, but most of the time it’s just jarring. In one case there’s a carpark with two instances of the exact same van in it! There’s no reason why they couldn’t have replaced the number plates and colour-swapped the cars to mix it up a bit, surely? Or had a red-and-yellow Burner instead of a blue-and-yellow one occasionally? I realise it was a small team making the game, but this would surely have been a tiny job compared to the rest?

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812221952Another thing which was unimportant in the end but seemed necessary to record along the way was all the numbers broadcast on the radios (identical radios…). I started to get a little paranoid that I might miss one. Then I wondered if the names of the books were important. Or the times on the clocks (which were all stopped at the same time, as it turned out). Or the car number plates. I ended up documenting everything and – of course – none of it was needed. In fact, there was nothing you could even do with this information anyway.  This wasn’t the game’s fault of course, more mine for not having any idea what to expect and not wanting to miss anything that may be required later on. For new players: read and listen, but don’t bother making notes.

Should you play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture? Absolutely. Will you understand what you’ve just played when you come to the end? Possibly. Will it matter if you don’t? No, I don’t think so.

Never Alone (PS4): COMPLETED!

Skinner_s_kitchen__t_httpt.coW04WLtjnbtWell that was short. Apparently Never Alone is about three hours long, but I appear to have completed it in little over half that time.

Probably just as well, actually, as after the first 45 minutes of “ooh” and “ahh” over the graphics and the setting and how unusual it all appeared to be, Never Alone quickly became a tedious platformer with bugs and glitches and some rubbish jumps. Relying on the wind to carry you further frustrates as there’s no way of telling exactly how far it’ll take you, often carrying you past the platform you want to land one and into the sea/hole/baddie instead.

Restarts are quick, thankfully, but it’s seemingly random how far you go back. Sometimes it’s a mere couple of steps, other times (like during on of the chase sequences) it’s back 20 or more screens.

5752__52GameChallenge__t_Never_Alone__PS4__httpt.cof0eRI46dRiOften I found it difficult to tell where to go next, either because I’d not “activated” an invisible spirit with my fox chum, or not panned the camera round in a completely different direction to where I’d expect to go, or simply not realised what was solid ground to walk on and what wasn’t. Things were complicated later on when your fox becomes a boy (spoilers, sorry) and the whole way you play changes – for the worse, in my opinion.

Your bolas attack too is overly complicated. You have to hold back in the opposite direction to where you want to hit (which is fine), but then flick it in the direction you want to fling it. I now realise the PS4 stick isn’t ideal for this, and especially during the frantic sections of the game where you’re not given time for a second shot, I feel that just letting go of the stick, or pressing a face button, would have been a better idea.

I sound harsh and it isn’t really a terrible game, it’s just yet another one of those arty games which has a lovely story and fantastic graphical style, but forgets to do something a bit more interesting (and controllable) with the gameplay. As it is, it’s just another slightly annoying platformer.

Anyway, here’s the last hour or so. Spoilers, of course.

Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cyborg_is_just_Mega_Man__innit.__t__PS4share_httpt.coxYawU3SQbuWell this was a surprise. The Mortal Kombat series left me cold after UMK3, and although this isn’t technically a Mortal Kombat title, it clearly is a Mortal Kombat game. It’s the same team, it’s a fighting game, it’s a followup to Mortal Kombat vs DC, and it’s even got Scorpion in it. And I enjoyed it.

Man_or_Aquaman.__t__PS4share_httpt.co6XyPVpBgTTThere’s little depth to the fighting, and in many ways the fights just seemed like the gaps between the story in single player mode, but something made me want to keep playing to the end. I liked how you’d flit from character to character as the story progressed too. Perhaps this is how more recent MK games have done things anyway, but it’s way better than the standard “tower of fighters” of old. It forces you to play as roughly half the roster as well, including some I’d never have picked through choice (Aquaman? LOLZ) who turned out better than expected in many cases.

I don’t think I’ll bother with multiplayer (I did try to play online, but I was alone), but the free PS+ rental was well worth  a story mode playthrough.

Rain (PS3): COMPLETED!

I started this just before my PS4 arrived, but went back to it today to finish it off. It’s reasonably short, and plays a lot like Ico or Papo & Yo, with some puzzles and a bit of platforming.

The “thing” is that the boy you control is invisible, and can only be seen when the never ending rain is landing on him. Under shelter, he’s hidden from both baddies and you (as in the player) – step out into the rain and his water soaked outline appears. The same is true of most of the baddies as well, and splashing through muddy puddles can reveal you even when hidden – until you take a bath or a swim to wash the mud off.

It’s quite a clever idea, modifying a standard hide-and-seek mechanic seen so many times before, but making the character you’re controlling so difficult to see (even when technically visible) can make things frustrating. Even more so when you’re finally joined by an equally invisible girl – frequently I forgot which one I was controlling and ran the wrong way. Not great when you’re being pursued by The Unknown, a bizarre giant creature who seems intent on killing both of your for reasons, well, unknown.

I sort of enjoyed Rain, but I was glad it came to an end when it did. It looks great, with all the apparently 1950s French streets you roam, and the classical music soundtrack is fantastically haunting, but I think it exhausted its ideas just before the game finished. Well worth the free rental, though!