Latest User Reviews

Review of Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

Rating by Antrax posted on Jan 12, 2015

A huge disappointment

The Tesla Effect excels technically, but is otherwise poor. The gameplay is a soulless rendition of what made the previous games great, and the padding thrown in doesn't help this poor impression. First of all, the game suffers from serious pacing issues. It's divided into "days" which aren't days, and which length differs wildly, up to a "day" where you do almost nothing. This is not just a nitpick, as the plot also advances in a confusing, uneven manner. While dialogues are decently written, the overall plot design is poor. Instead of gradually learning new details and incorporating them into the picture of the plot you're forming in your head, characters just puke out a random twist at you. It's less like filling in a crossword puzzle and more like reading one of those stories where different people tack on more and more sentences to see what comes out. Gameplay is severely lacking. The points mechanism is poorly implemented and seems tacked on. Most characters don't really have much to say about anything, so you end up interrogating them mechanically just to rack up points. Some characters you can't re-visit, and most you don't really have a reason to. There is constant hand-holding. The game keeps telling you what to do, and forces you to do it in the right order. For instance, you start out with several questions to investigate. Tex suggested I tackle one, but I wanted to investigate the other. Alas, some obstacle was in my way, which arbitrarily disappeared later on once I did what Tex wanted. The inventory puzzles are trivial, and the stand-alone ones are usually just copied from elsewhere, such as yet another river crossing puzzle. No insight is required to solve any of them - if you need a code, it's a matter of finding where the code is. There are several sections that feel like a hidden-object game, and are clearly thrown in as padding. Even the game's version of hotspot highlighting was powerless against those damned baseball cards. Heck, there's even a maze in there. There are some poorly-implemented stealth sections. Previous games had them, but you had line-of-sight advantage over the guards/drones, so they had some logic to them. This time, a guard rounds the corner, you lose, try over. The final puzzle is panned in every review of this game, and rightfully so. It requires dexterity, and is in itself just anti-climactic. It's ridiculous to imagine the hard-boiled detective rapidly fidgeting with dials to save the world. All in all, the game is very disappointing. It plays like it was designed by a checklist, so they threw in everything a fan would want, without giving any consideration to how the parts mesh together. The technical excellence can't make up for all of the gameplay and writing flaws.
Time Played: 5-10 hours

Review of The Talos Principle

Rating by charmer posted on Jan 11, 2015

Philosofical sci-fi puzzler with a surprisingly complex story

The Talos Principle (TTP) stands on the shoulders of giants. Among those being Portal, Myst, and Antichamber. That's not to say TTP does not bring its own stock of new ideas to the table. Discovery in TTP plays a major role so the less details you know in advance, the better. Enter the world of impeccable visuals, music, and voice acting; the world full of ingenious 2D and 3D puzzles; the world with a mysterious story only revealed to you in glimpses if you care to follow them; the world of thought-provoking philosophical undertones so rare in video games; the world with tons of secrets, extra content, and Easter eggs; and finally, the world when you don't need guns and weapons to make progress. Even if you are not a completionist, TTP will provide you with around 20 hours of gameplay. The game is extremely polished, well-tested, and rewarding and satisfying to play. I would not expect such a gem coming from the creators of Serious Frikkin' Sam :-) This is a complete paradigm shift and I'm very glad Croteam took this turn to expand their horizons - and everyone else's.
Time Played: Over 20 hours
Difficulty: Just Right

Review of Gray Matter

Rating by charmer posted on Dec 14, 2014

Mixed bag of awesome

Let's just run down the good and the bad; the writing is excellent and the plot is intriguing and very well put. You can't easily guess what will happen next. The soundtrack sets the atmosphere very well, voice acting is of high quality for most characters, rendered backgrounds and ambient animation are very well executed. That seems to cover almost everything... But there's bad too: some strict plot dependencies might get you stuck at the end of some chapters. Character and facial animations are stiff and unrealistic, and harm the overall feel of the game dialogues and other portrayed situations. This was probably the reason the developers opted for animated comics for cutscenes. I also experienced some technical issues with frame rate, dithered cursors and overlayed music tracks. Finally, voice acting for some NPCs is below average and some lines in dialogues are just plain awkward. All in all, I recommend Gray Matter to anyone who can appreciate substance over style.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Randal's Monday

Rating by Subway posted on Nov 25, 2014

Great fun from start to end

This game is a masterpiece in my view, the graphics are good, the story is great, the puzzles are hard enough and the dialog's are funny on a monkey island level... all and all a game that took me back to the good old Sierra and Lucas days.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Ether One

Rating by thorn969 posted on Nov 19, 2014

Sometimes tough, interesting story, still felt a bit short

Objectively, this game wasn't short and had some very tough, non-intuitive puzzles. But they fit with the environment and it was beautiful and worked as a story. Sometimes the commentary got a bit repetitive, especially when you were moving back and forth looking for missing bits to solve puzzles. Every puzzle can be solved, although sometimes they are very tricky. But at the end I was left wanting... more meat. Definitely worth playing, but it lacked a bit of... cohesion that would make it feel like a complete game, I guess. Much better, in my opinion, than similar exploration games like Dear Esther and Gone Home, but I think it could still have used additional scripting.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Papers, Please

Rating by thorn969 posted on Nov 18, 2014

Not for me.

It's an interesting idea, but annoyingly timed for the whole game - you have until the clock strikes 6 each day to process as many people as you can and really feels like a chore to play, because you have to find and identify flaws on papers, quickly. And the storyline... I'm not sure how rewarding it is. It would take days of playing to get all 20 endings and seems like it would be really a lot of miserable work.
Time Played: 1-2 hours

Review of Sinking Island

Rating by thorn969 posted on Nov 18, 2014

Deeply flawed but clever, beautiful game

This game was beautiful, as all of Benoit Sokal's games have been. The scenery was lovely everywhere, as was the tower. I thought the story was reasonably clever with plenty of red herrings. I didn't think the evidence was particularly strong, but that is not totally relevant. The engine, the PPA with clue management rather than inventory puzzles was clever and well done, for the most part. Occasionally, it seemed a bit arbitrary choosing between multiple, more or less equivalent pieces of evidence. I got stuck a few times before realizing I had to go talk to another person about a conversation and then use that person's statement on the first person. It seemed, frequently, like statements should get more reaction from all characters involved and that characters should remember and react to what they had been told. The detective was very free in sharing the information he gathered, but suspects would act and talk like they didn't have information he had given to them, if it was given in the wrong order. I also had a bug, of sorts, with the Island starting to sink before I was told that the Island was starting to sink, and then several hours later, I encountered someone who gave me the news that was already obvious. But really... the story was good, the scenery beautiful... it was a great concept of an adventure game and I think it was essentially a proof of concept and the engine felt a bit lacking in development and some of the characters flat and... maybe a bit of a beta version... lacking polish. Still a solid game and worth paying for.
Time Played: 10-20 hours
Difficulty: Hard

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