[REVIEW] Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder

Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder
Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: Atlus, Atlus U.S.A.
Available on: Playstation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Steam
Price: $14.99 USD
For fans of: Tower defense games, Monty Python

Hello, and welcome to the Not-Brad hour! I’m your host, Kayla, and I’ll be taking you on another review today.

Among all of the games I’ve played, I never thought I’d be playing one that involved rolling boulders with different special abilities down hills and through herds of cattle, dodging buffalos and catapults in a land straight from Monty Python illustrations. Yet, somehow I found myself here, and I actually really enjoyed it.

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[REVIEW] Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)

The Dynasty Warriors series is no stranger to cross-overs, the latest of which being Fire Emblem Warriors for the Nintendo Switch and New 3DS. Successfully blending the roster of (mostly) three different Fire Emblem entries and a few of the series’ notable gimmicks, with the “slaughter thousands of dudes” gameplay of Dynasty Warriors, it works surprisingly well when the source material is mostly known for its methodical strategy RPG core. It’s certainly not the best musou cross-over, but it’s a pretty delightful (if not purely situational) treat for Switch owners.

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[REVIEW] Knight Terrors

Knight Terrors
Developer: Freak Zone Games
Publisher: Nicalis
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Price: $2.99 USD
In a nutshell: Ghosts n’ Goblins meets Flappy Bird

Serving up equal parts Ghosts n’ Goblins and Flappy Bird, Freak Zone Games’ Knight Terrors is an affordably priced pick-up-and-play arcade game that’s as addictive as it is simplistic. It’s a spooky looking endless runner (and flapper?) that ramps up the challenge and rewards persistence with additional modes and power-ups, and despite incurring a few minor issues it’s definitely deserving of a place on your Nintendo Switch.

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[REVIEW] The Darkside Detective

The Darkside Detective
Developer: Spooky Doorway
Publisher: Spooky Doorway
Available on: PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch (TBA)
Price: $12.99 (Switch price may vary)
Release date: July 27, 2017 (PC)
For fans of: Less taxing point-and-click adventures with an emphasis on pop culture references.

The Darkside Detective runs amok with familiar pop culture references, from Twin Peaks and Gremlins to IT and Ghostbusters, and places hard-boiled detective Francis McQueen amidst them in six slices of supernatural, point-and-click adventure. Each case is independent of the last and gradually expands in scope and size, but the gameplay remains largely the same throughout. These appetizer portions not only allow the game to run on limited screens and interactive objects but also dial back on the copious amounts of backtracking and inventory management found in larger, meatier adventure games.

This proved to be both a blessing and a curse, however. While I ultimately enjoyed Spooky Doorway’s method of framing each case individually, it certainly made for a short, simple adventure that relied a bit too heavily on pop culture jokes and not enough on drawing me into the world they created. Perhaps that’s the point, though?

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[REVIEW] The Journey Down: Chapter Two

The Journey Down: Chapter Two
Developer: Skygoblin
Publisher: Skygoblin
Reviewed on: PC
Price: $19.99 USD
For fans of: Grim Fandango or the thought of a West-African inspired Caribbean noir adventure.

*This review is notably shorter than Chapter One’s, simply because I didn’t want to spend more time than necessary repeating myself on gameplay elements and influence, and wanted to avoid spoiling the all-important narrative expected from a sequel.

When I reviewed The Journey Down’s opening chapter a few weeks ago, my primary takeaway was that it had all the makings of a point-and-click classic but lacked any form of actual adventure. Its West-African influence could be felt deep within its character design and the late Simon D’souza’s beautiful composition, but Chapter One’s bite-sized run-time, inconsistent voice-over quality, and never-ending fetch quest certainly hindered my overall enjoyment.

I’m happy to report that Chapter Two wholly improves upon its predecessor in every regard. It’s twice as long, allowing for more character engagement and world building. There’s more variety in the backdrops, though most of the game is still spent exploring dimly lit alleys. D’souza’s jazz, funk, and reggae tunes continue to elevate the experience to a higher level, eliciting the perfect emotion given the backdrop or circumstance. Voice-over fidelity has also improved tenfold, Port Artue’s inhabitants are far more interesting to converse with, and there’s an actual adventure taking place with sky pirates, murder, conspiracy, shootouts, and jailbreaks!

This is what I wanted from The Journey Down.

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[REVIEW] Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Idea Factory
Available on: PS4 (reviewed, releases Oct. 10th), Steam (coming 2018)
Price: $49.99 USD
For fans of: The NepNep universe, Sword Art Online

Before we get started, do me a favor and count to 180. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Three minutes feels a bit longer than anticipated, yeah? This is how long the initial load time is every time the newest spin-off in the Neptunia series launches on my PS4, and, likewise, I felt it was appropriate to stress that at the beginning of this review. I’m not sure why the game is front-loaded like this, but it’s certainly the wrong way to make a first impression (and a second, third, fourth, etc.).

Thankfully, the game hidden behind the loading screen boss is pretty decent — albeit with a list of caveats.

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[REVIEW] The Coma: Recut

The Coma: Recut
Developer: Devespresso Games
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Steam, GOG
Price: $14.99 USD
For fans of: Claire: Extended Cut, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School

The Coma: Recut is a “definitive edition” re-release of the original game, The Coma: Cutting Class, from 2015, as well as the Korean horror title’s console debut. According to the press release, the original game’s animations, mechanics, cutscenes, and art have been updated, and the Recut version is available on PC as a free update for those of you who already own Cutting Class.

Having no prior knowledge of The Coma’s existence prior to its recent console release, I approached the 2D horror game with a general understanding of its gameplay and tone thanks to its PS4 launch trailer. The premise of being trapped inside of a high school, scouring every nook and cranny for useful items and puzzle solutions while avoiding a menacing stalker, immediately drew comparison to 2001’s White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (which I ultimately didn’t care for). However, its hand-drawn, almost comic book visual flair and 2D presentation caught my attention and I was willing to give it a fair shake.

Unfortunately, I left The Coma: Recut feeling equally unsatisfied. What exists here is a mostly forgettable horror experience that’s far more cumbersome than it is terrifying.

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