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!

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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!

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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.


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!

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! (PS4): COMPLETED!

Temple_of_Doom__t__PS4share_httpt.coHUDJExPrIlBack in the day, I did play Abe’s Oddysee quite a bit, but it was so difficult and so frustrating. I don’t think I ever even got out of the factory – I certainly never completed it.

With a free PS+ rental, and promises it was now easier to control, easier to play, and had quicksaves, I thought I’d give it another try. And I completed it this time!

Second_temple_challenges_done.__t__PS4share_httpt.cojigwgzSn2CSadly, I got the bad ending due to not rescuing enough Mudokons. I don’t think I’d let all that many die, and I don’t recall leaving many behind, so I can only assume I missed a load of rooms somewhere. Of the 299 available to rescue, I think I managed 83. Not enough to survive the mincer at the end of the game. Bah.

Good as the game was, I really don’t think I can be bothered playing it again to try for the good ending. I’ve too many other things to play!

Geometry Wars 3 (Vita): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nr6uffdgpu1svmpf2o1_1280Like the awesome but mostly ignored Wii version of Geometry Wars, Geometry Wars 3 (which was a free PS+ rental this month) has a great single player “adventure” mode. Each level takes one of the main score attack modes and requires you to beat a certain score or clear a level in under a certain time with the rules of that mode, or perhaps with no smart bomb or extra lives.

In addition, every so many levels, there’s a boss (which is a new thing in the series, I think?). All the bosses are superficially the same, consisting of a large gemstone type enemy who periodically drops its shield while spawning standard Geometry Wars enemies and occasionally rushing you.

tumblr_nr8p4yjb0x1svmpf2o1_1280It all feels a bit like a “best of” Geometry Wars, really. It has the stuff from the first two games, and from the Wii game, and then nicks a chunk from the also excellent  Nano Assault Neo by setting many of the levels on the surface of a 3D shape rather than on a flat plane. As you progress through Adventure mode, the score multiplier Geom items also act as currency with which to buy or upgrade special weapons and drones.

Frankly, it’s superb and my only issue with the Adventure mode is that the final boss is a massive, massive difficulty spike. I easily spent as long attempting that single level than I did on the previous 49 levels combined! A single life and multiple “phases” and attack patterns, along with insta-death walls did not make it simple.

Things I’ve been playing recently (Part 2 – PS+ Stuff)

Lots of PS+ stuff has been building up over the last few weeks. I’ve played most of them (except the PS4 games, obviously), so here are some thoughts.

tumblr_noo3xkiczm1svmpf2o1_1280Race the Sun (Vita)

It’s a bit dull, really. It’s sort of like Deathchase but with upgrades and nothing to shoot. I’ve played it for an hour or so but it’s not grabbing me.

Tower of Guns (PS3)

A nonsensical FPS where you progress through randomly generated levels containing lots, and lots of guns. Looks a bit rough but is surprisingly good fun. The way the abilities and weapons unlock are a bit of a pain though.

tumblr_noo3yawnnb1svmpf2o1_1280Murasaki Baby (Vita)

Impossible to control. You can’t realistically use the front and back touch panels of the Vita at the same time (in fact, I’d argue you can’t use the back at all even by itself), so I’m not going to get anywhere with this. It sort of looks nice, but it’s unplayable.

tumblr_noo4116vri1svmpf2o1_1280MonsterBag (Vita)

It feels a bit like a point and click adventure game, but it’s too random and vague how you progress. Not really enjoying this either, so that’s in the bin now.

tumblr_npl64hy0wp1svmpf2o1_1280Futuridium EP Deluxe (Vita)

Like a cross between Race the Sun and Uridium (which it “borrows” for its name), but not as much fun as either. Like Race the Sun you fly into the screen, like Uridium you fly over (and under, and through) various, er, spaceships? and shoot things. The things you shoot are often hidden. You have to find them all in time or you die. It isn’t good at all.

tumblr_npl7gqesmg1svmpf2o1_1280Super Exploding Zoo (Vita)

A puzzle game with a great premise, but flawed execution. Rescue exploding animals from aliens, using them to blow up walls and sacrifice themselves to defeat the aliens. Thing is, different animals have different skills and there’s no way to tell, say, the penguins to kill themselves for the cause without also telling the monkeys – who you may need later to climb a wall. Far too many times did I die due to not having enough control. Ah well.