Articles tagged with pc review


 
 
The Norwood
Suite
Oct 02
Posted by Ben at 15:23

I have to admit to an ignorance of who Cosmo D is, I never encountered Off-Peak, a free, and seemingly memorable game Cosmo D put out a year or so back. Hearing the synopsis for The Norwood Suite, your night in a strange remote hotel, full of odd-ball characters; I was expecting Twin Peaks, what I got was a fever dream Jazzpunk

I guess the comparisons with Jazzpunk are inevitable but truth is The Norwood Suite is its own thing. Jazzpunk was thick with gags and laughs, The Norwood Suite, while not lacking in humour, itís just odd. Itís not wacky, thereís a coherence to everything, it just looks a bit off kilter. The plot is fairly simple, you arrive at the hotel with the intention of getting in to the DJ set in the basement, to do this you have to help the various guests with their problems. A lot of the conversations are fairly normal too, believable even, certainly my reservations that the game might be a bit of a hack job were laid to rest by the interactions being so well handled. The more I played the more I looked past the garish visuals and odd models and started to be reminded more of Flower, Sun, and Rain (the Suda51 adventure game).



To give The Norwood Suite some context, rather than just bang on about how odd it can be, itís actually a fairly straight forward 3D adventure game. Before I even got inside the hotel I met a couple in the carpark, we talked a while, then they asked me to get them a 6-pack of energy drink. To get it for them I had to solve maybe 3 or 4 other tasks, certainly because of the order I was picking stuff up in it was towards the end of the game I got it for them. Thereís not too many out and out puzzles, itís mainly hunting for objects, which usually have some indication that theyíre important, but there are a couple of moments that require some brain power



The look and sound of The Norwood Suite are certainly itís own. All conversations take place next to a music source, the game focuses on music for its story, and the soundtrack is available on Bandcamp. The game world has a look; bright, garish, neon colours, characters made entirely of clashes. Objects exist in the world in places they shouldn't, statue heads inside drawers, that sort of thing. Itís a bit of a mixed blessing, one one hand the game has its own feel, yes everyone who reviews it is going to scrabble around for the same couple of games to liken it to, but that really says more about how we review things, it bears repeating, The Norwood Suite is definitely its own thing

The flip side is that it set me on edge. Not in a horror sense, thereís nothing especially creepy going on, more that itís hard to look at, a bit too much for the senses. Itís that feeling when youíre still hours away from the end of a night thatís taken a turn, like you've been in a club too long and the air is making you nauseous. Donít take that to mean I didn't enjoy The Norwood Suite, but itís probably more accurate to say I ďenjoyedĒ it.

As clichťd as it is, I've got to finish this review by saying The Norwood Suite isn't for everyone. The tone, look and feel to the game is enough to put some off, I liked it, but itís painfully easy to see how many wouldn't. Itís a shame its not funnier, at least that would give people a bit of a hook to latch on to. The gameplay is fine, nothing to write home about, but it works, it gets you to explore the hotel and experience the characters. If you go in knowing what to expect, if youíre the kind of person who likes an experience as much as a game, The Norwood Suite is worth a look

GALLERY:
Full gallery (4)
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Hidden Folks

Jul 03
Posted by Ben at 15:20

Hidden Folks has actually been out for a few months, I canít say that Iíve seen a lot of talk about it, I guess you wouldnít for a hidden object game. For whatever reason Hidden Folk has repeatedly cropped up on my Steam suggestions during the summer sale, so finally I caved in and gave it a whirl.

The easy comparison is Whereís Wally (or Whereís Waldo depending where youíre reading this), Hidden Folks gives you a sizable image, busy and bustling with lots of distractions, characters and objects move, itís all animated in some way. Youíve got a list of characters or objects at the bottom of the screen and you need to hunt them down to check them off. For some youíll be able to just spot them, matching the image at the bottom to the character placed somewhere in the picture, for others youíll need to use the attached description to work out where theyíre hidden.



In the early stages Hidden Folks features fairly small Ďmapsí, zooming out will let you see most of whatís there, and zooming in will give you the detail. This is probably Hidden Folks at its most fun, itís charming and the game gets a chance to show that. The inventive puzzles, characters hidden behind, under, or in things, they can be showcased here and be fun, later on thatís not the case. The maps eventually become huge, ultra busy, with needle in a haystack levels of detail. Itís impressive, I wouldnít say no to a screensaver or a wallpaper, but it can tip the balance from fun to frustrating. If you compare the desert level to the later factory level, the factory is set out in compartments, if one of the hidden folk is obsessed with tyres, it probably means theyíre hidden near some tyres, so scout around the map for some. Compare that to the desert, with its almost featureless landscape, finding everyone can be a bit of a chore

That being said, itís probably for the best you donít have to find everyone. Find enough folks and you can move on to the next map, so there is an argument that a lot of the frustration I felt playing Hidden Folks was my own doing for not moving on until Iíd found everyone. Itís also probably worth mentioning that while Hidden Folks isnít a multi-player game as such, itís the kind of game that lends itself to a few people working together, certainly I hit a wall a 2nd pair of eyes helped me get past.



All this being said, Hidden Folks didnít take me that long, and returning to a map after being stuck for a while meant I solved it. It took me around 4 hours to find everything, but I suspect binging like that isnít the best way to experience Hidden Folks. At £6, less in the sale, itís not exactly bank breaking, and there is a level of charm and humour to it. Once you complete the game thereís the promise of more content to come. So, while itís hard to get too excited about a hidden object game, Hidden Folks is certainly worth a look if youíre after a change of pace

GALLERY:
Full gallery (2)
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Guilty Gear Xrd
Revelator 2
Jun 12
Posted by Ben at 16:41

The thing that always strikes me about Guilty Gear, and I guess Arc System Worksí fighters in general (even Battle Fantasia), is how idiosyncratic they are. For the most part, anyone with a passing knowledge of fighting games could sit down with a Street Fighter or a King of Fighters and do something, Guilty Gear takes a bit more time. Itís testament to the work put in by Arc that it doesnít seem insurmountable, in fact a lot of Guilty Gearís systems quickly start to make sense.

Guilty Gear does things differently, in terms of attacks thereís Slash and Hard Slash, but then punch, kick, and now ĎDustí. Youíll sometimes find specials do work across buttons, but not often. In short, each character has to be learnt, even on a basic level. Go beyond the basic level and the characters reveal themselves to be even more unique. Thereís characters whose attacks have to be set up, characters who can teleport, characters who counter, getting the best out of them is something you need to learn to do, itís not simply a matter of practice, you arenít always going to stumble on to these techniques. It does though mean that when you take the game online you arenít facing the same character over and over. The wealth of depth to the characters means that thereís no Ďflow-chart Kení, youíll see a variety, and every character will have someone who has learned exactly how to wipe the floor with you. Whether by luck or design, itís an impressive feat

Itís why the tutorials are always going to be a big part of any modern Guilty Gear review. They arenít perfect, but they do a good job of showing off the systems. You start with the absolute basics, moving and jumping to pop balloons, then quickly progress to not just attacking, but effectively attacking by comboing attacks together. These are simple chains, but then itís the next step, bursting so you can can land an extra hit or two, or dashing so you can keep a combo going. From there you can learn specific character moves, learning how to chain specials, even how to defend effectively. Itís here where I wish theyíd gone one small step further and had the option of a demo to show whatís expected of you, as thereís some I just wasnít sure where I was going wrong.

Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator 2 has a few modes outside of training, maybe a couple less than youíd hope, but enough. Thereís more periphery stuff like the gallery and figurine mode, nice little bonuses but not where youíre going to spend serious time. Thereís also the arcade mode, which has character specific stories and sets up the actual Story mode, which is like an in-engine anime, free from combat but quite well done. The online is handled fairly well, and I really like the lobby system. Itís a world you enter, and while thereís not a lot to do there, and itís a shame you canít spectate, I do like that you can sit at an arcade machine and wait for an opponent. They might need to broaden the servers sooner rather than later to keep them populated, although I didnít have too many problems finding a match. Not true of Ďrankedí, where I did struggle to find a match, but you can queue a ranked match up and get on with other things. I guess the real shame is that the PC version doesnít have cross-play with the PS4.

I had a few fights where there was a strange sense of dropped frames online. Itís not lag, and itís not dropped frames as youíd (potentially) see if the game was struggling, but it felt like inputs were being ignored. I had plenty of good fights, but I could see people who take online more seriously really cursing it.

I guess the only real criticism I have of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 is that I just donít really like playing as a lot of the Guilty Gear characters, and the ones I do like Iím familiar with, exasperating the feeling that Revelator 2 is an incremental change, even over the 2 game predecessor Xrd Sign (my last Guilty Gear). Itís a good game, as good as itís ever been, but Iím not sure Guilty Gear has the luxury of being able to just throw more characters in to the roster and calling it a day, theyíre all too idiosyncratic for that. If youíre a die-hard then more of the same is probably enough, but know thatís what it is going in, if youíre new then itís as good a place to start as any.
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Double
Dragon IV
Feb 05
Posted by Ben at 10:42

There is something to be said for absolutely nailing you inspiration, capturing everything about the original source. Done right you evoke all the fond memories and nostalgia for the original, but there is every chance youíll take things too far. There was that Psycho remake a decade or so back that was essentially a scene for scene remake. It was fine, well acted, well shot, but it was the same as the original, no one needed it. Double Dragon IV kind of shares the same problem, it feels every inch a lost NES Double Dragon game, but thatís not entirely a good thing

Itís difficult to know where to start critiquing Double Dragon IV, so much of it overlaps, you need certain bits to make the good things good, but they also make the bad things bad. So Iíll start with a word about the PC version in the hope that before we publish this these issues are resolved. In game the PC port runs fine, certainly I canít say I noticed any glaring problems, but getting to the point where you can actually play the game is where Double Dragon IV stumbles. Despite Steam recognising the Playstation 4ís DualShock 4 controller natively, the game throws a fit when you try to use it. Itís an easy enough fix on the consumerís end, if you run a controller emulator to mimic a 360 controller youíll be able to use something with a d-pad worth the name, but you shouldnít have to.

Screen size is another problem. Double Dragon IV boots to a windowed mode, you can press F2 to increase the size of the screen, and you can press Ďalt enterí to force full screen mode, but again you shouldnít have to, and itís an issue that still occurs when playing in steamís big picture mode. Finally, closing the game. Thereís no way to do this with a controller, thereís no option on the game menu, you need to force the shut down yourself. Hopefully all this is an easy fix, but it should have been sorted for launch.

There is some things to like about Double Dragon IV, particularly if you have an affection for the originals. Thereís a plot that might as well not exist for most of us, but it does fit with games from that time, bouncing around all over the place, trying to explain the level designers locations. The backgrounds and characters look suitably 8bit, crisper and a higher resolution certainly, but they definitely look the part. The music too is, to my memory at least, spot on, it feels like it belongs in an old brawler

The problem is that the same can be said for the gameplay. Even compared to the 16-bit era of Streets of Rage 2 and Final Fight Double Dragon IV feels limited. There are a number of moves at your disposal, beyond the basic punches and kicks thereís a headbut, a roundhouse kick and a barwards punch, but theyíre so inneffective that itís hard to see why youíd choose to use them over standard attacks that have more reach and allow you to combo. Thereís no art to it, youíll soon learn to use the more powerful rising attacks when youíve been knocked down, but largely because youíll spend a lot of the game being knocked down. Enemies will break your combo for no reason, and youíll find that the progressive rise in difficulty is really more a case of enemies doing more damage and becoming cheaper, attacking you as you stand up. Which to be fair will have been your tactic throughout the game, so I guess itís only fair. Then thereís the platforming, thereís not loads of it, but none of it is good, itís probably the right thing to break up the gameplay in some way, but not with something worse.

Itís again a callback to those old NES games, back then games were unfair, they were cheap, and you did have to cheese your way through them. I did have some fun with Double Dragon IV, nostalgic fun sure, but that doesnít necessarily invalidate it. You can never shake the feeling though that Arc System Works should have used those old games as a springboard, that sticking so close to them actually hurts this game. Itís not awful, but nowadays it really doesnít hold up
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Double Dragon IV
Video Review
Feb 02
Posted by Ben at 16:47

Our full review of Double Dragon IV will follow tomorrow. It's half way written, and I know more or less what I think of the game, I'm just a little torn as to where Double Dragon IV s on a scale

It's certainly not a bad game, and it is a faithful sequel. It feels like an old game in a way most retro games don, I'm just not so sure that's a good thing.

As things stand, some of my criticisms of the PC port of Double Dragon IV are accurate, things like controller problems and not being able to close the game from inside the game, but there's every chance that by the time you watch it these things have been patched and fixed. I'll try to remember to annotate the video if it ever happens

Show/hide video

0 comments / permalink


 
 
Event[0]

Jan 04
Posted by Ben at 14:20

Event[0] on paper sounds a very known quantity, maybe it is, but it plays its hand pretty well. You find yourself marooned on a mysterious spaceship, the crew long dead, and your only company an A.I. youíre not entirely sure you can trust. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey crossed with Event Horizon, only without the obelisks, the gore, and Sam Neill. And you do need eyes to see. Event[0] is actually more playful than the comparisons it brings to mind, admittedly diphtheria is more playful than Event Horizon, but their rogue A.I. has a bit of personality, and the game itself is less horror focused than the likes of Soma or Routine.

Event[0] isnít an especially long game, which helps keep its aim focused. After an unexplained disaster befalls your ship youíre shot out in to space, drifting aimlessly, until you chance upon the Nautilus, an experimental ship from the 1980ís, equipped with a futuristic engine that allows rapid, deep space travel, and a lonely A.I. who wants you to destroy it. I wonít go any further in to the plot than that, for one thing because thereís not a lot else to it, superficially at least, secondly because discovering the rest is kind of the point of the game.

The star of the game is Kaizen, the A.I. whoíll help you make progress through the ship, so long as youíre nice to him at least. The selling point of Event[0] is that Kaizen can procedurally generate an abundance of dialogue, and will change how he reacts to you dependant on your dealings with him. If youíre friendly, laugh at his jokes, thank him for his help, heíll be nicer to you, obtuse, but friendly. Act the dick and heíll clam up and stop helping you. Itís an interesting idea, one it explores a little with the few other characters Event[0] features, but not one youíll likely experience the full breadth of in your time with the game. In fact itís something I wish theyíd focused on more, put in a few more moments where your instinct pushes you to behave in a way that betrays you, makes you shed your friendly demeanor for a while, or makes you grateful or warm to Kaizen

Given that your dealings with Kaizen are such a large part of the game I wish they were a bit better. Too often I found simple questions garnered unrelated answers. To me they were obvious questions that a lot of players would have, but the responses were that of a system that had picked up on a word , ignoring the context, and carried on a conversation we werenít having. Getting a straight answer is like pulling teeth, deliberate Iím sure, but still frustrating when you have to ask the same thing repeatedly to get a response that moves things on. Which is really what Kaizen is about, and what he should be better at. He did, sometimes, point me in the right direction, and Iíd always thank him for that, but quite often I was looking for hints outside the game to get me moving again. Not solutions, I wanted to discover things for myself, a strength of the game, but something to stop my standstill and get the game moving again.

Itís why I prefer the exploration aspect of the game I wish there was more of that, looking for clues around the environment, discovering things about the world and characters outside of Kaizenís grip. Truth be told itís indicative of Event[0]ís other problem, thereís not enough of it. I donít mind the length so much, itís around 2 hours long, with alternative endings if thatís something that interests you, itís more that itís not a very big world. You donít feel like youíre stuck in a huge space ship because you see so little of it. Maybe there just wouldnít be many usable rooms on a ship like this, but there really are only a handful of rooms, and only a few events to shake up your experience.

Credit elsewhere to Event[0] though, itís a good looking game. Walking around the Nautilus, youíre always pleasantly surprised by how good it looks. Thereíll be sparks, good quality textures, well designed objects, even slightly worrying dust particles floating around (I never did get an answer to what they were). The sound design is great too, from the clickety clackety keyboard to Kaizenís voice, the bleeps and bloops, and some of the ambient music, itís indicative of a very well put together game.

My only qualm really with Event[0] is how many times you run in to a wall with it. Maybe thatís the fun of it for some, maybe I suffered because I heard it was a short game and was there for the ride, rushing through it a little too quickly, and while Iíd like to give specific instances I can only talk around them rather than spoil an aspect of the puzzles for you. All in all though I enjoyed it, itís not a game that will stay with me forever, but it is one Iíd recommend people check out
0 comments / permalink


 
 
The House
Abandon
19-09-16
Posted by Ben at 16:12

The House Abandon is going to strike a nostalgia chord with a very select group of people. People probably aged over 30, who owned an Amstrad, a Spectrum, or a Commodore 64 (maybe an old BBC computer), who also played the odd text adventure. Basically, people like me. Thatís not to say no one else will appreciate it, thanks to smartphones thereís a new audience for these types of games, both because theyíre not a bad way to present a narrative on a tablet of phone (80 Days, Lifeline etc), and because theyíve allowed more hobbyist developers to put things out.

The House Abandon presents itself in a fairly unique way, itís kind of a first person text adventure. Itís played from your point of view, as youíre sat at a desk with the screen angled to your left, the keyboard in front of you, some family pictures, a lamp, a clock on top of the tv, even a phone pinned to the wall. The screen flickers and has scanlines, the computer keyboard has a tapedeck and familiar rainbow colouring. It absolutely looks the part even down to whatís happening on the screen. You never see yourself physically type, but it is you (person reading this who has or will play the game) responding to the on-screen cues.

When you boot ĎThe House Abandoní your character arrives at your old family holiday home with a hint to check the glove box, so you type Ďopen glove boxí, find a loving note from you father, type to read it, get out of the car and so on. Itís all very positive and nostalgicÖ until itís not.

It seems insane that a text adventure would be tense, but god damn it gets tense. The writing really starts to land, the familiarity is distorted, the safe nostalgia abandoned in favour of unease. While the look of the game will probably be what draws a lot of people in, the lead developer is Jon McKellen the man responsible for the UI in Alien Isolation, and it shows. I canít say for sure itís the same technique, but the CRT monitor glows and flickers in a realistic way, the rest of the computer looks accurate without being an infringement, even the loading of the game and its title screen look the part.

I do have a few issues with The House Abandon though. I very, very quickly found myself running in to a wall with the game. I think even while I was still in the car, but certainly trying to get around to the back of the house, opening a certain door, even turning something on, they were all more problematic than they needed to be. Itís a problem adventure games sometimes run in to, itís never fun to have the answer but not be able to put it in the specific form the game requires. Still though, The House Abandon is a prototype, and free, it deserves some leeway. In short then, if any of this sounds appealing to you youíve nothing to lose by trying The House Abandon, in fact itís one of the most compelling things Iíve played all year
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Wolflame

22-05-16
Posted by Ben at 08:22

Weíve covered a few Astro Port games now, and they all have a few things in common. They all feature some great, simple gameplay ideas, and theyíre all fantastically retro. Wolflame doesnít have the lovable kitsch of a Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser, but it may well be a better game.

Wolflame reminds me of being a kid in my local youth club, itís that era of shoot em up, pre-bullet hell where the only gimmick of note are your options. Travel up the screen, blast everything, pick up stars, occasionally drop a bomb, there was nothing complicated about those shooters, and thereís not a lot complicated about Wolflame. You travel up the screen, blasting away at enemy ships and buildings, picking up options, collecting stars for points, until you reach the boss, kill it and finish the level.

As mentioned Wolflame isnít ever a bullet hell shooter, but itís undoubtedly where the difficulty comes in. Wolflame suffers the way a lot of shooters do, in amongst all your outgoing fire, all the explosions of decimated ships, itís hard to pick out the single shot thatís inevitably going to kill you. Itís not helped that a lot of enemies have a habit of holding on to their bullet before pinging it at you, by which point your focus has drifted away from them. Itís a smart attack, but itís slightly frustrating losing a life to the only bullet on the screen. There is some more precise dodging later on, particularly if youíre playing on a harder difficulty.

At various points through the levels thereís support ships you can shoot down that will drop Ďoptionsí. The options will be one of 3 types, leave them to float around a while and theyíll change to another one. Theyíll either attach to the left or right side of your ship depending on the arrow on their icon. You can have different types on either side, and with each one you pick up you gain a level for that side. Thereís a charged blast, a homing attack, and lock-on lasers. Iíll be honest, getting level 5 lock-on lasers is pretty much letting the game play itself itís so powerful, so long as you keep an eye out for stray bullets.

For those chasing a high score the options are key here too. Once you get one of your option sides to the max level, picking one up will instead reward you with a chunk of points. Destroying certain buildings will result in gold stars, managing to get to the end of the level without dying will result in a points bonus.

Probably the biggest obstacle for the high score chasers is the gameís length. Wolflame has 10 levels, all a decent length, all with the occasional checkpoint if you die. Itís a fairly difficult game, you can continue your way through it, at least on easy, and clever use of save states might help you with the rest. Dying does mean youíre put back a bit and stripped of your pickups, but thereís a fair chance the next one you get will restore, or partially restore what you had. Not always though, Iím not sure why it differs, but being stripped back to your basic level certainly does increase the difficulty for a while.

Wolflame is good. It feels achingly retro, but at no point does it feel throwaway or spent. Itís just about difficult enough to engage the hardcore, lengthy enough that us shooter tourists will have something to get out teeth in. Itís a chunky, crunchy kind of a game, itís not especially flashy, beyond just being a good game thereís nothing unique to entice you, but thereís really very little to fault.
0 comments / permalink


 
 
The Rivers
of Alice
30-11-15
Posted by Ben at 16:36

I doubt many will know the background of The Rivers of Alice. It's a point & click game, an enhanced port of an ios game, like an increasing number of games on Steam, and it's notable because it's a game made in conjunction with Spanish indie band Vetusta Morla and artist Ane Pikaza. It's a dreamscape of a game, focusing on the titular Alice, as she tries to recover 4 missing dragonflies.

I have to say I love the look and tone of The Rivers of Alice, all parties should be proud. It's a beautiful looking game, with creative characters, a soft charm. It makes Rivers of Alice hard to dislike, you've got to admire the creativity and care that has gone in to it, it's not something cynical cashing in on a big name, although I've admittedly no idea how big a name Vetusta Morla are in Spanish speaking countries. Credit where credit is due, Vetusta Morla have provided a fantastic soundtrack. It's not all singalong memorable, but it does fit, and there's some superb tracks. Nichos de Luciernagas is a great piece of music, like a less ethereal Sigor Ros, it's certainly something I'd listen to outside the confines of a game.

But how is the game, that's the important bit afterall. Well.... mixed. At its best Rivers of Alice captures that most difficult thing in adventure games, puzzles that you can solve, but make you feel like a genius when you do, that give you a real sense of accomplishment when you piece it all together. It's nice that so many of the puzzles are music based, and a good chunk of the others are abstract and imaginative. It's difficult to talk about them too much without giving too much away, but, early on especially, there's some clever ideas, things that make you think, things that you work through.

However, it's not all so positive. Early on there's a puzzle involving lighting up blocks of flats, piecing it together is fine, makes you feel smart, but it involves an awful lot of waiting around. One of those puzzles where solving it is only half of the battle. There's a puzzle towards the end that I didn't realise existed until I used the hint system and youtube. I had to stand on a tile, but there was nothing to indicate it was an interactive object. The absolute worst moment of the entire game is a slide block puzzle that's part of a much bigger, relatively interesting puzzle. You have an image of the solution you're aiming for, and if you back out of the puzzle to check it, the whole thing resets. It's a difficult puzzle to work out, there's, literally, too many moving parts, and I spent a long time sliding blocks aimlessly and hating every minute. It's the point where my time with the game turned, maybe I just completed the screens in an order that left me with the more difficult puzzles, but either way what had been a challenging but rewarding game turned in to an absolute chore. The final puzzle is another slide puzzle, and another aimless, mindless battle between your will to finish the game and inevitability.

It's a shame, I really do appreciate the challenge River of Alice offers, and maybe it's a case of me not having the head for point & click games, but it really does go sour. I hope that there's people who don't have the issues I did, the best parts of the game, the art and the music, the tone, they all deserve better. Ultimately though, given that Rivers of Alice stops you dead too often, it's hard to recommend, at its best it's better than I've scored it, but at its worst it's a huge disappointment.
0 comments / permalink


 
 
Jotun
PC Review
13-10-15
Posted by Ben at 16:17

Jotun is an interesting game, while it doesn't quite tell a unique tale it is one thatís unusual for a game. You play as Thora, daughter of a viking leader, killed at sea. She must prove herself worthy of entering Valhalla by beating Jotuns, giant gods who stand in her way. To get the chance to face one of the giants she must discover the runes hidden in the barren worlds. Her task is made easier by seeking out powerful new moves like a shield or increased speed, gifts from more sympathetic gods, but each world has its own challenges.

Jotun is a stunning looking game. Hand drawn, ethereal and colourful. There's moments with the larger enemies, the Jotun, that bring to mind older Disney cartoons. There's times where the camera will zoom out, showing you some enormous wonder, something that dwarves just about everything you've already seen. That's the key thing about Jotun, scale. Thora is not a small woman, she's strong and wields an enormous axe, but she's tiny compared to most of what you'll face. The world is vast, it dwarfs you, no matter how quickly you move it's slow progress. It makes the levels feel desolate, cold, it accentuates that this is harsh dead world, a struggle for Thora, something helped by the music

At no time is this scale more apparent than when you're fighting one of the Jotun. Each of the Jotun tower over you, that's to be expected, it's the challenge of them that makes it feel like a struggle. Chances are each time you face one you'll die trying to learn its pattern, it's a task, a feat for both you and Thora

One of the most impressive things about Jotun is how rarely it features combat. There's only a couple of levels that feature traditional enemies, and even there they aren't a constant threat. I was expecting something akin to Diablo, but enemies are a rare thing, with only one level throwing hordes at you, and even then that's a novelty. Instead the challenge of a level will likely come from something environmental, things falling from the sky, smashing through the ground. The problem with this approach is that it makes the levels feel a bit of a trudge, the structure of the levels never changes, so the test is if you can react to a signposted attack in time to roll out of the way.

Which is Jotun's real problem, for everything beautiful, impressive, and commendable about it, there's also the sense that it never quite gets going. There's always the danger that weighty and slow will slip in to boring, and Jotun stumbles a few times. It was the 4th world before I gave up on the pace picking up, it was never going to become frenetic, and that's fine, but my jaw wasn't dropped by the splendour any more, my heart unmoved by the tale, I was going to collect a couple of runes, pick up a new power, extend my life, then head off to face a boss.

It's a shame to sound so down on Jotun, I don't in anyway dislike it (a handful of moments of collision detection aside), it just didn't engage me. It's terrible to use vague terms like immediacy and punch, but it is what Jotun lacks, it needs something that either raises your heart rate or stops you in your tracks, a game doesn't have to be fun if it has that. Itís certainly not a bad game, its starkness does grab the attention, but every now and then itís maybe just a little bit dull
0 comments / permalink


Older posts