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Unravel Review

February 17, 2016 2 comments

UnravelScreenshot1

Publisher: EA
Developer: Coldwood Studios
System: PS4 (played on), PC, Xbox One
Released: February 2016

In amongst the usual brand of cynical hype and cringeworthy slogans of E3 2015, there was a rare moment of joy and sweetness. Of all places, it turned up during EA’s presentation, where a nervous developer walked on stage, showed a cute little yarn cat he had tucked in his jacket and then proceeded to show a sweet game about yarn and love and longing. It stunned everyone, including me. I knew I had to play this game.

Unravel finally saw a release this month, and I picked it up immediately. I like puzzle platformers and I like cute things. It’s right up my alley. It’s my jam. And all that stuff.

Unravel didn’t disappoint. I played the first hour on my YouTube channel, where I spent much of my time gushing over the cute animations, the gorgeous vistas and the brain-teasing puzzles. It was, simply, a joy to get my hands on. The game also opens with a heartfelt thank you from the devs which I thought was touching. Read more…

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The Cheap Ferret Verdict: 2015 in Review

December 24, 2015 5 comments

What a year for gaming. It’s been an absolutely amazing year with a ton of selection, and some of the best games ever made. This has been possibly the best year ever to be a gamer.

Or at least that’s what I’m seeing a lot of people say about 2015, but sadly I find it hard to agree. In fact, I’d love to talk about my favourite games of the year in one post and then talk about my most-anticipated games of next year in a separate follow-up, but I haven’t got enough material for the former.

Many of the year’s big releases have failed to command my attention. It’s been the year of the po-faced open world adventure, and I’ve rolled my eyes at basically everything. Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Batman: Arkham Knight, etc. all looked dull to me and lacked the fun factor that I generally want from my games. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate almost got me back into the Assassin’s Creed series due to its Victorian setting but ultimately I passed on it due to microtransactions. MGSV was the first Metal Gear that failed to capture my interest because it looked like all the personality of the series had been surgically removed. And the less said about the initially promising yet ultimately worthless The Order: 1886, the better.

On top of that, I was so disappointed with Rise of the Tomb Raider and the politics surrounding it I wrote a full post on it – that game could have been my Game of the Year based on the comments I’ve seen, but since I’ve been unable to play it at all, it gets listed as my biggest disappointment instead. Good job, Squeenix!

And then, of course, CoD was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars.

Was there anything that caught my interest at all this year? I liked the look of Ori & the Blind Forest, since it had a nice aesthetic. Undertale has captured people’s imaginations and I’m fascinated by the idea of an Earthbound-style RPG where you can avoid battles with everyone. Until Dawn keeps popping up on my radar but I’m still reluctant due to Heavy Rain being a terrible game, but people say it’s amazing, so maybe? And then there’s Life is Strange, which narratively got me interested through watching others’ streams, but mechanically didn’t appeal to me at all.

Nintendo have had the best of the year in my opinion. Super Mario Maker looks fun, and Xenoblade Chronicles X seems to be winning people over and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing it myself soon. Yoshi’s Woolly World looks cute but I’ve not played it enough to pass judgement.

But what is my Game of the Year?

Read more…

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Fall of the Enthusiasm

November 10, 2015 11 comments

Reviews are coming in for Rise of the Tomb Raider, which releases today, and there’s a lot of positive response. It’s great to see a game in my favourite series getting high praise, and from what I’ve seen, the game is an excellent piece of work. There seem to be a focus on exotic locations, puzzles and exploration, and it seems Crystal Dynamics have hit a groove with the Tomb Raider series.

And yet, despite all this, I cannot get excited for Rise of the Tomb Raider. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I feel this is an appropriate time to clarify my feelings on the matter once and for all.

Read more…

Top 10 Suggestions for the FF7 Remake

November 6, 2015 2 comments

As part of my Chronological Challenge, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII a lot lately. It’s a pretty neat game. If you haven’t heard of it, and let’s be honest here, it was pretty obscure, it’s a game where you are a man with a sword who commits acts of terrorism before chasing after a man with a bigger sword after he commits a bigger act of terrorism. It’s good, wholesome family fun!

You may be aware, this game is going to get a remake. Lord knows why, because no one asked for it, but it’s happening anyway. But since I’ve been playing the original, it got me thinking. Inevitably, with this remake, things are going to get chopped and changed. Some things are going to be left back in 1997, while other aspects are going to be improved and tweaked. And having the original fresh in my mind again, I think I’m the best person in the world to decide what needs to happen. Here are my top 10 suggestions. Read more…

Paris Games Week PlayStation Conference Opinions

October 28, 2015 1 comment

Yesterday was the Sony conference from Paris Games Week, where Sony promised a whole bunch of stuff for the coming year. I wasn’t able to watch the conference live, but I did watch it through last night, and so I decided to share some of my impressions of the show. I did skip around a lot, so games I’m less interested in got less of a look-in. But here we go. My hastily-written first impressions of everything shown at Sony’s Paris Games Week conference.

Black Ops 3/Star Wars Battlefront
I skipped these because CoD was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars (and by that I mean the original Star Wars trilogy is alright and I can watch it, but I don’t get the hype AT ALL).

Street Fighter V/Tekken 7
Never been much of a Street Fighter fan, so I mostly skipped that (although I did rewind a little to find out why the presenter was wearing deely-boppers). Tekken 7, however, seems to be making a big deal out of its storyline for a change, and it looks like they’re dropping all pretenses and going full-on Mishima family soap opera now. If this is indeed the case, you may take my money, Namco. I would play the hell out of a ludicrous Mishima family soap opera. No joke.

Battleborn
Ehhhhh it’s Borderlands with Ratchet & Clank‘s colour palette.

Boundless
This has the same problem as No Man’s Sky in impressing me – it looks nice, the world looks very inventive, but what do you actually DOOOOO? The music also sounded like it came straight out of Bioshock, which I found interesting.

Vector
This just looked like Audiosurf, except instead of having free reign over what audio you surf, this time you’re forced to listen to Avicii. And no one wants to listen to Avicii.

No Man’s Sky
Oh, it’s you! The most over-hyped game of all time. I skipped this. If they showed you what the actual point is, then great. Right now I’m just sensing a prettier Minecraft in space without multiplayer. I could be wrong, and feel free to prove me wrong, but massive “whatever”s all round from me.

Matterfall
Is this Vanquish? Did they just copy Vanquish? This looks like Vanquish.

Ratchet & Clank
Sony seem very reluctant to push this latest R&C, and I don’t know why. I mean, I know it’s a remake of the original game (with Dr Nefarious?????) but they’re pushing the Nathan Drake Collection like crazy and that’s a collection of remasters. At least R&C was built from the ground up. And I am recognising the bits they’re bringing back from the original. I’m interested.

Horizon: Zero Dawn
This demo didn’t feel too different to the previous demo. We got to see a new robo-dino, but the techniques for beating it weren’t too different from the robo-dino at E3. I’d like to know more about this game because it’s interesting, but perhaps some more details on the storyline at this point? Without giving too much away, of course.

Bloodborne expansion thing
I never got into Bloodborne. I hear it’s good for those who like that sort of thing, so I’m happy for those that were entertained by the main game who are getting more, but I skipped this.

Driveclub Bikes
Ah yes, bikes, even less interesting than cars. Let’s see how disastrous the release of this goes. Will it be handled better than the original Driveclub? I swear at one point even the guy from Sony wasn’t sure if it was a full game or an add-on for the existing game. That bodes well.

Gravity Rush 2
YEEEEEEEEES. Take this game, and put it in my hands immediately. Right now. I need more of the Gravity Queen in my life. Even if she is becoming Superman and destroying everything she’s trying to save with those new destructible environments. The different weights of gravity powers seem interesting, and I’d like to know more. I’d also like a release date (unless they said one and I missed it?).

Uncharted 4 Multiplayer
I love Uncharted, but I’m indifferent to the multiplayer, especially as trying to play Uncharted 3‘s MP after a while became a chore that I no longer wanted to endure. Unless they do something revelatory with the new one’s MP, I’m not particularly interested.

Dreams
Oh my goodness! Media Molecule have this alarming tendency to win me over and cause me to emit very strange incomprehensible squeals of glee every time they show off their games. It happened with LittleBigPlanet, it happened with Tearaway, and it happened once again with Dreams. When they first announced it I had no idea what to make of it. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Now I get it. It looks weird but absurdly charming and the imp was adorable and the panda-thing (official term, apparently) was adorable, and it made no sense but it looked fun and silly and the MM guys clearly put a lot of love into it judging by the way they were talking about it. Them and the Unravel guy should get together and have an awkward but charming party. And then make the most adorable game.

PlayStation VR
I can’t use 3D. My eyes never want to focus on the images properly so all I tend to see is a blurry mess that gives me a headache. I expect VR to go the same way. And with the games on show moving around like crazy and throwing a bunch of stuff in your face, I expect that playing these games would result in me throwing a bunch of stuff up. VR is not the future. Motion controls were the future, and we went back to traditional controllers but put a gyroscope in. This is a fad that won’t take off because there are too many issues with accessibility.

Gran Turismo Sport
I skipped most of this because while I like the GT series for being “The Racing Game RPG” I don’t really need to see a Nissan shot from every loving angle to show off that yes, it is indeed a vehicle that will be in the game. I’m sure people will be hyped when this releases in 2024.

Wild
I didn’t know what to make of this when it was first announced. Part of me wishes that Michel Ancel would just make Beyond Good & Evil 2 instead. But then I saw that you can RIDE A BEAR AROUND LIKE A HORSE and now this is the best game. I’m sold. I don’t even care what else happens in the game. I’m just gonna ride that bear around and fuck shit up.

Detroit
David Cage binge-watched Humans and said “there it is, there is my emotions” and proceeded to make this. But since David Cage himself is an android who’s obsessed with emotions but doesn’t know how real humans beings react to those emotions, this will be a trainwreck in the most glorious way possible. I’m interested in this, but not for the reasons everyone else is – I want to see just how terrible Cage makes this storyline. Heavy Rain was a ham-fisted detective story and Beyond Two Souls was a ham-fisted Ellen Page simulator, so now we have ham-fisted Humans. I’m also looking forward to Cage somehow finding an excuse to include an android taking a shower or going to the toilet.

Overall, not much that was new and exciting stuff from Paris Games Week, but I liked a lot of the lineup, so there is that. Glad to see a lot more first-party stuff on the way that isn’t a bunch of remasters, and there’s quite a few things here that are already on my wishlist.

Enjoy the Silence

October 26, 2015 1 comment

With the Chronological Challenge wrapped up for 1996 (reviews coming this week!), two games stood out above any others for the year – Resident Evil and Tomb Raider. These two games are classics that gripped many people back upon their release. But they both share something that’s steadily been lost in gaming over the years – a sense of tense slowness that modern AAA titles seem unwilling to embrace.

The contrast can be seen within the two series’ latest instalments. While Resident Evil morphed into a dramatic third-person shooter which threw more and more zombies at you, Tomb Raider has become a blockbuster where Lara Croft is pushed to the limits and beaten up in as many ways as humanly possible.

Compare them to their original incarnations – slow, tense adventure games that put emphasis on puzzle-solving while combat acted as an occasional challenge to surprise the player. And in all honesty both felt a lot more memorable and enjoyable for it.

Read more…

Micro Management

October 8, 2015 2 comments

Last week, it was revealed that Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate had microtransactions tucked away in its code, which means that I automatically have no interest in playing that game.

Syndicate had been doing so well up until that point. Interest was slowly growing as the setting looked genuinely interesting again. The removal of multiplayer suggested that the main single-player campaign was going to be more focused. The developers openly dismissed the notion of missions tied to a companion app. They actually found the resources to – SHOCK – add a female character!

I’d lost a lot of interest in Assassin’s Creed over the last few years, but these decisions, plus my interest in moody Victorian settings, perked up my interest again. And then microtransactions happened and it became apparent that not all lessons had been learned.

Read more…