The Painscreek Killings

The Painscreek Killings is a 1st person, point-and-click, free-roaming, mystery game. You begin the adventure as a journalist who wants to find out exactly what has happened in Painscreek to write a compelling story. Upon arrival; however, you find out that the town has been abandoned, gated and many investigators before you were tasked with similar missions but for one reason or another ended up unheard of.

Painscreek1

As soon as the main menu came up, I felt very pleased with what I was seeing. The music is soothing and the graphics look like they’ve been filtered with a vintage lens. In a way the game resembles a walking-simulation but eventually you realize there’s a lot to tackle beyond the surface. I play PLENTY of adventure and mystery games and I consider this game probably the closest I got to a real detective-experience.

The village is very charming and immensely enjoyable to explore. This is a good thing because you’ll find yourself going back and forth through many of its locations. The layout, design and lore were carefully laid out. The various locations are interconnected and will definitely require you to write things down.

Painscreek2

The game doesn’t depend on AI interactions, neither is it a straight-forward puzzler like most detective adventures these days. It heavily depends on visiting each destination, reading journal entries, letters and notes left behind by the village inhabitants and forming a picture. Eventually each location will augment pieces missing in another place until you draw a clear map of who the killer is, what weapon was used and where did the incident take place. In fact, you aren’t bound by a set of events taking place in this game to the point where you could end the game at anytime and immediately solve the mystery if you think you’re ready.

Painscreek3

I truly loved this game. It felt pleasantly immersive and from the moment I started the game to the very end it kept me hooked. The horror factor in the game isn’t associated with goblins and monsters but there is a very prominent creepy theme going on. I consider games with subtle touches of horror far more effective than those that deliver it to your face.

While playing this game the weather wasn’t that great and we encountered a big storm that left us staying at home for days. This game was the perfect companion. I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters and following up with their leads. I also had a lot of fun experimenting with different note-taking apps to help me organize my thoughts & solve the investigation. Google Keep & Simple Mind mapping helped a great deal. The following is a mind map that I created for the game and it really helped to keep track of who’s who and who’s related to what. Although it doesn’t include the answer of the mystery, you might not want to zoom in too much to avoid spoilers.

Painscreek

My final score is 5/5 ★★★★★

  • 5/5 for gameplay
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 5/5 for puzzles & exploration
  • 5/5 for overall experience

Game Platform (played on): PC, Steam

Official Site

Links: Trailer

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of The Tomb Raider is the third game of the Square Enix’ Tomb Raider series. It takes place after the events of the second game Rise of The Tomb Raider. In short and without saying too much, the story centers on Lara Croft’s adventures in South America as she battles, yet again, the military organization Trinity and tries to put a stop to a Mayan apocalypse.

TR3

I plunged into The Shadow of Tomb Raider without actually remembering the previous games. For the most part it was fine except for some references to characters here and there that I completely forgot about.

TR4

The game stood out the most compared to its counterparts for the following reasons:

  • There are more puzzles and less combat
  • The puzzles are more complex
  • The world itself feels far-ranging than the other two
  • The culture (particularly Paititi)  portrayed in the game is distinct (although reminded me a lot of Assassins’ Creed Origins

TR1

Having said that, there were a few things that I didn’t like. The story, for example, is a bit mundane. The gameplay eventually became predictable too. After mountain climbing there’s definitely a grappling hook. After a cliff jump there’s usually a diving session. After a temple puzzle there’s always combat and then rinse and repeat. Even the combats can be predictable in the number of enemies you get and where they are situated. Another issue I have with the Square Enix Tomb Raider games is the leveling up mechanics. I find myself never too excited or motivated to unlock skills like I am with other games because I find the variety of skills a bit boring and to be honest useless compared to lets say games such as Dying Light, Fallout and Far Cry games. In fact, I pretty much got through the entire game without upgrading any survivor skills and it didn’t feel like I missed anything.

Overall the game isn’t overly bad but it isn’t anything special either. I would probably say that it’s not worth the full price to be honest. I would recommend renting it or borrowing it from a friend instead.

My final score is 3/5 ★★★★

  • 4/5 for gameplay
  • 2/5 for plot
  • 3/5 for puzzles & exploration
  • 3/5 for overall experience

Game Platform (played on): Sony Playstation 4

Links: Trailer

Ducktales Old Vs. New

This post isn’t really a game review but then again adventure is Duckburg’s middle name so in a way it’s relevant.

Last week I bought Ducktales’ reboot DVD launch after watching Comic Con’s Season 2 Magicka’s reveal. Mind you I’m never excited for any type of reboots in general; however, the sneak peeks looked pretty decent and I’m a huge fan of the show. I own the entire original collection on VHS and watched it so many times when I was a kid. It was my number 1 show, period.

So I ordered the Ducktales Woo-Ooo DVD (weird name but never mind) from Amazon for 5 pounds. Great! The DVD arrived, I popped it into the player and thankfully was greeted by Ducktales’ foot-tapping opening song. “I’m liking this already” I thought to myself. Once the song was over, the camera view soars over Duckburg and a navy harbor, at which point I felt slightly dumbstruck. The animation definitely looked modern but the background illustration felt remarkably flat. The setting looked frostbitten by watercolor washes somehow. Except for 1 or 2 elements moving at a time, the entire scene remains still. That was vastly my first impression in comparison to the  portrayal of Duckburg being full of life in the original series.

Ducktales 2In terms of the story, the episodes begin almost identical with Donald Duck sending off his nephews to Scrooge’s mansion; however, halfway through, the two episodes take a different direction. With the original series Donald remains a passive character in most of the episodes but with the reboot, and without saying too much, he has somewhat of an active role. I’m not sure if this is something that will continue happening in the upcoming episodes.

Ducktales 3

Ducktales 4

Almost all characters in the series are now drawn in an angular fashion. It is strikingly obvious with Huey, Duey and Loui’s character design. I noticed Donald and Scrooge remain slightly the same as their original design. I think it’s safe to say that the graphic modifications are my least favorite. And can someone explain to me why the motherly, loving and soft-spoken Mrs. Bentina Beakley has transformed into Edna Mode injected with steroids?

Ducktales 5

Ducktales 6

Besides that, I don’t like the voice acting. Launchpad and Donald Duck are fortunately the same. Scrooge McDuck naturally kept his Scottish accent but his voice is weirdly delicate, which counters his self-assertive personality. Wendy’s is fairly good. Mrs. Beakley sounds like 007’s exciting assistant– anything BUT a yarn-knitting caring sounding grandmother, and then there’s Huey, Duey, Loui. According to the US’s Bureau of Labor there are like 600 young actors by the year 2016, 80% out of which I’m sure are hired by Disney’s Channel; was it really that hard to find 3 eligible voice actors in the springtime of their life? But I guess it was more appealing to assemble a star-studded team for marketing purposes perhaps.

Ducktales 7

In the end I’m aware that it isn’t fair to meticulously follow an original to launch a reboot. Times have changed certainly and in order to appeal to younger audiences, modifications are unavoidable. Even so, I wish the team had spent a little more effort and time polishing up this little gem of a show. There were a number of good calls like preserving the original opening song, bringing in Donald Duck more for his amusing character and maybe even refining the storyline. What remains heavily lacking; however, is a dynamic and colorful Duckburg.

The Review: The Silent Age

The Silent Age is an indie point-and-click adventure game by the Danish developer House on Fire. The story takes place in 1972 and centers on a character names Joe who works as a janitor in a company. One day Joe meets a strange man from the future and receives a device that enables him to travel back and forth between two realms– Joe’s current day in the 70’s and a post-apocalyptic version of his world. In order to solve the mystery and find answers Joe must toggle back between his realms to manipulate items and solve puzzles.

The Good 

The Silent Age is visually stunning. The graphic style of the game is trendy and unique. The colors are vibrant and the characters are amusing. The narrative of the story is well written and is deeper than what is initially expected. By the end of the game all loose ends are met and you get an overall sense of understanding of how everything was brought together. I also found myself actually caring about Joe despite how short the game was.

The Bad 

The game is sold for $10 on the Apple store. On the iOS, the game is divided into 3 episodes, each selling for around $5. On steam, the price tag is $9. The game is divided into 10 short chapters. I do feel for the price offered the game is shorter than what it should be.

The game is categorized as a ‘puzzle’ game but there weren’t really any puzzles per se. The game is purely dependent on item manipulation. I also think the overall difficulty of the game is not to my liking. For instance, at any given time you aren’t given more than 3 items (for the most part even only 2). Eventually it becomes very predictable where these items will be used. A more challenging experience would have been to either allow the gamer to carry more items making it difficult to decide what is to be used where or to limit it to few items but expand the area of exploration (similar to Thimbleweed Park). By the time I reached the last 4 or 5 chapters, I found myself getting bored. My motivation to continue was to find out what was going to happen.

Verdict

For an indie game I think The Silent Age is decent. I would imagine the game isn’t best suited for Adventure game veterans though. For a lesser price, I would have thought the game is a must try.

My final score is 3/5 ★★★★

  • 4/5 for originality
  • 3.5/5 for plot
  • 2/5 for puzzles & exploration
  • 3/5 for overall experience

Game platforms: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems

Links: Official WebsiteVideo Trailer,  Steam, iTunes/Apple

 

Nintendo decided to go with a pre-recorded conference again. I figured with the Switch out they might spice things up. Having said that, they made it up by announcing tons of titles. I honestly haven’t been following up with their announcements so the only thing that caught my attention so far is Super Mario Party. It’s really nice to see it back and improved putting into effect the Switch’s full capabilities. I’m sure eventually I’ll be adding more items into my wish list.

The following are the titles announced in the order mentioned.

  • Poke Ball Plus
  • Super Mario Party (October 2018)
  • Fire Emblem Three Houses (Spring 2019)
  • Fortnite (out now)
  • Overcooked 2 (August 7)
  • Killer Queen Black
  • Hollow Knight
  • Octopath Traveler (June 14)
  • Arena of Valor (Fall 2018)
  • Minecraft (June 21)
  • Sushi Striker
  • Starlink (October 16)
  • Dragonball Fighter Z (2018)
  • Just Dance (October 23)
  • Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure (June 26)
  • Pixark (Fall 2018)
  • Splatoon 2 (Summer 2018)
  • Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (July 13)
  • Crash Bandicoot NSane Trilogy (June 29)
  • Ninjala (Spring 2019)
  • Asmodee Digital (Holiday 2018)
  • Fifa18 (out now)
  • Studio Wildcard (Fall 2018)
  • Wasteland 2 (Fall 2018)
  • Paladins (Out now)
  • Fallout Shelter (out now)
  • Dark Souls (Summer 2018)
  • NIS America (September 7)
  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (August 28)
  • Wolfenstein II June 29
  • The World Ends With You (Fall 2018)
  • Megaman 11 (October 2)
  • Mario Tennis (June 22)
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (December 7 2018)