Latest User Reviews

Review of Memento Mori

Rating by Little Writer posted on Jul 30, 2014

A mixed experience

This game took me 9 hours to complete. The puzzles were just right for me. I was mistaken in thinking this was one of those game with logical puzzles, so I was glad to see a classic point 'n click adventure game with inventory puzzles. The only thing that bothered me were the dialogue options, where you never really could tell what your character would actually say, and I often had to go through all three options before finding the correct one. I liked the revolving technique with examining objects, which I thought was a bit underused; they could have done more with this. The music was okay, the voices however left something to be desired. I didn't connect with the characters. Also, their weird gestures and walking paces made them obviously animations instead of believable real people. As far as the story goes, I'm a bit let down. I just had a hard time accepting what was really going on and thought it all a bit too much to be plausible, even for a game. Still it gets a good score because of the easy and intuitive playability. Even some of the harder puzzles never took me long enough to figure out so I would have turned to a walkthrough. They never broke the pace of the story.
Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Just Right

Review of The Samaritan Paradox

Rating by Antrax posted on Jul 30, 2014

Seriously flawed

The Samaritan Paradox starts on a relative high note. However, a terrible interface, poor scripting and some very contrived puzzles chip away at this misleading first impression until you reach the rushed, ridiculous ending. From the demo, I expected a lot of code cracking. That was optimistic. Besides applying a simple substitution code, there aren't really any more "code cracking" moments. There are some nice riddles to solve, but some ridiculous ones as well. The game has frequent timed sections, rewinding upon failure. Often, they're of the trial-and-error variety, i.e. you need to fail several times to even learn what obstacles you should anticipate after rewinding. Those sections are really bad, and feel a lot like padding. They're poorly clued (you don't always know what your ultimate goal is) and one of them features a double interface screw (an area of the screen is interactive despite not being shown as a hotspot, and you can control Ord during an animation, despite the cursor disappearing). In short, it feels like those sections were added because just featuring the good riddles would've made for an even shorter game. The interface is atrocious. Every action requires multiple mouse clicks. This is actually used as some twisted puzzle mechanic at some point. A good illustration of this issue is the dialogue mechanic. You have to scroll the list of topics (by clicking on arrows, not using the keyboard), then click on the topic of interest, then move the cursor over to the "ask" button. It's not unplayable, but it's just unwieldy, and after a while those small issues really get to you. There is no hotspot highlighting, and there's some pixel hunting. Ord is also a hotspot so after clicking on anything, he obscures the object and you have to click to make him move before you can interact with anything in the vicinity again. The plot starts out strong but becomes silly in the end. All plot threads are abruptly tied together with a ridiculous twist and some off-screen narration promising us all has ended well. It's difficult to describe just how jarring this is, it's one of the worst pacing failures I've had the misfortune to encounter, and it really feels as though they just ran out of money and had to ship. To summarize, a couple of good riddles can't make up for the multitude of flaws. My advice would be to play this with a walkthrough for all but the riddle parts - then it's worth the price of admission (about $2 currently).
Time Played: 2-5 hours

Review of Secret Files: Sam Peters

Rating by Little Writer posted on Jul 23, 2014

3 hours of fun

I played Sam Peters right after Secret Files 3.I really love these games. They are classic adventures, where the main character allows you to pick up and use items immediately as you find them, even though you don't know yet why, how or where you would use them. It's often trying everything with everything in order to progress, but most things are very intuitive. I love the voice actress of Nina Kalenkov, and Sam Peters as well. I love "playing" with these women. I read that other reviewers had a problem with the swearing, but that's what I actually liked about Sam! She would be an interesting person to meet in real life. And the music is awesome too, worthy of movie soundtracks. Sure, Sam Peters is a short game, but to be honest I had more fun playing this than Secret Files 3!
Time Played: 2-5 hours

Review of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Rating by TimovieMan posted on Jul 22, 2014

The series is running thin, and the switch to 3D didn't shake things up enough...

The fifth installment in the Professor Layton series delivers what you should expect by now: an over-the-top story that's slowly revealed to you, one puzzle at a time. Alas, after four games of basically the same formula over and over again, the series is now starting to run thin. The gameplay could really use an overhaul, and I thought the transition to the 3DS would be perfect for that. Unfortunately it was not to be. While there are advantages to the 3DS switch (more quality cutscenes, more voiced lines, a couple of puzzles with added flair), there are also a few pitfalls that they didn't avoid. Changing the wonderful 2D character animations to 3D ones isn't all it's cracked up to be, for one. While they tried to make the 3D models resemble the 2D ones closely through cel-shading, somehow in the process they lost some of the charm inherent in the artwork, and it hurts the game (especially in contrast with the beautiful and top notch 2D cutscenes). And it also feels like they didn't take full advantage of the new capabilities the 3DS has to offer. Either the console was still too new when this game was in production, or the developers were too rusted in their old ways. Whatever it was, I feel that they left a lot of potential untapped and while this may improve the odds for the sixth game (Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy), I'm not that sure this team will go for it... I'm not overly happy with the story's resolution either. It lacked a good twist (as the main twist was more or less phoned in from the very beginning), and they kind of shoehorned a certain villain in, just to fit this game into a trilogy. Several of the main characters have really silly motivations as well, so you'd better not think too hard about it (but this holds true for the other Layton games as well). In the end, though, I still got a game with (once again) high production values, a great deal of puzzles (150 + minigames), and a staggering 365 daily downloadable puzzles. All these combined netted me about a 60-hour puzzle fix, so while this installment may be the weakest of the Layton series so far, it's by no means a bad one. I just hope the devs step up their game somewhat in the conclusion to this prequel trilogy...
Time Played: Over 20 hours
Difficulty: Just Right

Review of The Shivah

Rating by Antrax posted on Jul 21, 2014

It's not a game, it's a demo

The Shivah is insultingly short and linear. There's a grand total of five single-screen locations, dialogue trees are exhausted in 30 seconds flat and the whole thing feels like a very high-quality demo. The game also suffers from The Blackwell series' awkward interface, where you have to memorize names to later type in a computer, which lends itself to some backtracking, which is the only way people were able to play this for more than an hour. The only stumper is the ending in the form of a lengthy dialogue puzzle, where your goal is obvious but you first need to explore all options to see what they do so you can later figure out how to correctly arrange them to win. The "multiple endings" are also rather contrived, since the righteous and correct action is obvious in both instances. In summary, this is an average title that doesn't justify the price.
Time Played: Under 1 hour

Review of Secret Files 3

Rating by Little Writer posted on Jul 21, 2014

Great game but abrupt ending

I loved this game, simply because I love playing with Nina Kalenkov. Luckily this time she had a better voice actress than with Puritas Cordis (I was so disappointed with that game because it wasn't voiced by the same actress as Tunguska). What I loved most was the music. Perfect for this kind of adventure game. The puzzles were just right for me, except in a few cases where I missed some objects and thus was aimlessly looking around trying everything on everything countless times. Playing time was 6 hours, but I really would have liked it be longer. I was surprised to get an ending after some arbitrary task; didn't expect that and was rather disappointed. I wanted more closure of the events themselves, before the "what happened to" segment.
Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Just Right

Review of Papers, Please

Rating by Antrax posted on Jul 20, 2014

As advertised

Papers, Please is exactly what the box promises. That means unique and innovative, but also fairly dull and ugly. Arguing with deliberate design choices is rarely fruitful, so I'll just say I could enjoy it more had other choices been made. The atmosphere is excellent. Music, presentation and the graphical style do a great job of conveying a "Soviet" atmosphere. The game play, however, is lacking. In part this is deliberate, since you can later spend money to somewhat improve the cumbersome interface. Still, the decision to limit the player's interaction to pointing out discrepancies and stamping passports is somewhat odd. You're supposed to care about your family, but they have neither names, nor faces, nor personalities. There are several interactions where you wish you could choose the character's reply, instead of standing there and waiting for the dialogue to be over. You can't refuse bribes, sometimes people just drop money and go. You can't discard objects, so people can burden you with items there's no way to get rid of. All in all, it looks like a deliberate choice to limit interactivity so much, but I personally felt the game would've been better served with an occasional player-controlled dialogue, and maybe some sections before/after working days. Gameplay itself is tiring. This is again deliberate but it wears thin very quickly. The game heaps on requirements, and very soon you need a deft mouse hand to be able to process enough people to make your daily (?) rent payment. There's an "easy" mode that may mitigate some of that - being a decent arcade player I just weathered, adopting some heuristics to ignore some of the lower ROI checks. The plot is rather threadbare, which ties back to the lack of interaction. You're not given any real reason to choose one side or the other, and the game ultimately has three real endings, the other 17 being slight variations on failure. So, while offering some replay value (getting the endings where you side with on faction requires different choices early on), the endings are rather humdrum and I felt justified in picking mine and then watching the rest on YouTube. All in all it's an interesting experiment and very atmospheric game, but the game play is lacking and the fact it's deliberately so doesn't make it any more fun.
Time Played: 5-10 hours

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