Latest User Reviews

Review of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - Episode 1: The Hangman

Rating by Antrax posted on Jan 29, 2015

Ridiculously constrictive

The Hangman is a decent game. It's well-written, it's technically adequate and the puzzles, while easy, aren't insulting. However, it's marred by its narrow scope which leads to a terrible interface. The graphics were glitchy on my computer, but it's probably something I could fix by tweaking the settings. Even so, it's clear the game is pretty. Voice acting is also well done. The story is well written, though some sections really test your ability to suspend disbelief. The puzzles are okay, for most part very straightforward and having multiple paths to completing your objectives adds a very nice touch. The basic interface design is a good variation of point and click. It's a bit awkward selecting the inventory item first and the object to use it on second, but it's just a matter of habit. There are subtle problems with the interface, though. For one, there's an inconsistency about skipping dialogue. Sometime it works (and characters fast-forward through their animation) and sometimes clicking does nothing. For the most part you can't skip ahead, which can be quite exhausting if you accidentally ask someone something a second time. The worst of it was when I had to listen to some taped evidence and scour the evidence for detail, with the evidence running for 30-45 seconds or so each time. That was immensely frustrating, and also unnecessary as I found out later, since you could just ask someone the relevant detail. There are too many logical interactions that don't work, throwing you off the track. Probably due to its episodic nature, very little thought was given to things off the main path, which can be immensely confusing. Everyone mentions the bum and I'll join the bandwagon: he asks for something to eat. You try to use a clearly edible item on him. Erica says "I don't need to do this now", consistently. So naturally you expect there's some interrogation technique you need to implement here, like showing him the food or whatever - except not, she says that because on ANOTHER puzzle-path, at some point the bum would want the food she's carrying now. Variations of this exist throughout the game. The developers tried to be clever by forcing you to only pick up items when you know you'll need them, but combined with the multiple paths and Erica's somewhat dull wit at times, this turns into an exercise in frustration that could rival a text parser adventure. You constantly have to try and get into the developer's mind, especially on the more ridiculous obstacles such as obtaining fairly commonplace items. That also adds backtracking which breaks immersion and suspense. During an emotional moment, you find yourself zipping back and forth on ridiculous fetch quests. The tension of breaking into a superior's office is lost the third time you walk in because you need yet another thing from there. The cognitive powers are underused to the point it feels almost like QTE. There's a plot prompt to suggest you can use a power, then you use it, then continue playing without powers since nothing can be cognitioned except very small bits. Contrast with The Devil's Playhouse to get a feeling of how you'd expect such powers to work - and that game was also episodic. To summarize, the plot is good enough to excuse all the ridiculous moments and puzzles are so easy you'll get past them even despite the contrivances, which lands this in 3 star category. It could have been much more.
Time Played: 5-10 hours

Review of A Golden Wake

Rating by ninasema posted on Jan 26, 2015

Satisfying, but still a disappointment

To start with the positive: A Golden Wake has a lot of the things that makes the rest of the Wadjet Eye games memorable: a pixel art, a soundtrack and dialogue that together really set a great mood for a game. So I definitely enjoyed being in A Golden Wake. Playing it? Well, that really depends on what you want from a game. Don't get me wrong, I liked the "selling" dialogue puzzles, and the fact that you only got one shot at getting them right. And sure, the occasional HOG (!), logic puzzle and action-ish scene all work, but after one playthrough it just seems to little and too easy. A lot of it has to do with the pacing of the overall game. Most of the scenes are quite short, so you never really get to dwell in or get to know any of the locations. I'm not saying I love backtracking - but being able to do it actually is what gives you the illusion of being in control of the character. Also, there is a big problem with the MAIN PLOT TWIST coming way too sudden. There are definitely surprising things in life you would do if you felt you had no choice. Here, instead, you are given the illusion that you have one. Verdict: Some work on dramaturgy and making at least one of the acts longer could have made (to avoid any wordplay involving 'gold') good to great. Playtime: 4,5 hours.
Time Played: 2-5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

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

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