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Xavier S H reviews the Xbox One version of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition. A review code was provided for this report.
Age of Decadence Review - PC
Developer: Iron Tower Studio Genre: RPG
by: Luke Horn - 10/30/15
So you want to be a hero? Think again – heroes end up dead – at least in this game. The Age of Decadence is set in a Romanesque world where the moral and ethical fabric has deteriorated and one is forced to become the Byronic hero. It doesn't take one long to realize you have to make hard choices because the wrong ones will quickly put you in a pool of your own blood. You can't save everyone and you definitely can't be the valiant heavenly hero.
As a character, you are cast into a deadly world where society has fallen apart after a long era of war and destruction. There are several backgrounds to choose from which directly affect your character's ties and influences in society. However, you are not stuck to certain skill and attribute trees based on your choice. This was a positive aspect of the game. A negative aspect of the game was the lack of character physical customization. You are given few choices on appearance – given today's capability to do so, this was disappointing.
Your character starts with little to his name and must quickly find ways to advance. My beginning choices centered on deception and assassination as I chose to play a thief, which fit nicely into such a dark and violent world. The combat system is turn based and works well with the hard core RPG world the game is depicting. You may choose to fight often or simply roleplay your way through many situations. I found myself using deception and charisma as staples to my survival. This allowed me to avoid being killed in combat – because in this game death is always just around the corner. The skill tree is robust and provides a rich gaming experience. It melds nicely with the game and allows the player to enhance his/her abilities without undermining the strategy one must use in order to succeed. There are around 23 skills to choose from and the way you can use them varies. When you add this to the detailed crafting and alchemy focus, it gives the player a well-rounded game to play.
The world that has been created is vast and complicated. The combat system is turn based and is far from a simple 'Hulk smash' style. Each combat you enter into needs to be well thought out and strategy must be used. During each round of combat you receive action points and you need to spend them wisely in order to come out alive. Do not approach this in a hack-and-slash manner or you will end up meeting your god sooner than you like.
One of the draws of the game is its complex dialogue and choices your character can make. This really gives the player a unique experience. You may play it multiple times and the gaming experience stays fresh.
There are some disappointing aspects to the game. The graphics are lackluster and provide little excitement to the game. As gaming is such a visual experience, I wanted more from this side of the world. I want beautiful landscape and haunting battle scenes. The movement is often more complicated than it needs to be. I constantly found myself trying to reorient my views and center things on my character. It slowed the gameplay down a good bit for me.
However, this game provides hardcore RPG players with a plethora of options and its choices are complex and do not disappoint when it comes to the roleplaying aspect. It has a post-modern feel in the non-linear format that it uses and challenges one to think before they act – which is refreshing. The graphics left me unsatisfied from a visual aspect. However, the designers had other things in mind when they created this game. The wit and cleverness of the game allows one to easily forget the graphics. At its core, The Age of Decadence is more a Shakespearian play in the park than a Hollywood depiction of Beowulf. It is a buy for me. 8 out of 10. A review code was provided for this review.
Xavier S H reviews Xbox One version of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Five "The Vault of the Traveler"! A review code was provided for this report
Xavier S H reviews Xbox One version of Blood Bowl 2. A review code was provided for this report.
Armello Review - PS4
by Luke Horn - 09/18/15
In a golden age of science fiction, RPGs and board games such as Pathfinder and Munchkin, Armello has found an ever growing niche that capitalizes on our social geekdomness - digital board games. The digital format for board games, while at one time scorned; has found a home with all of us new age geeks. Armello's beauty and mechanics provide a mix of play, making it one of the most visually pleasing and technically sound digital board games out there.
The plot of the game is fairly simple, the king of Armello has the Rot; a terrible disease that not only kills those it infect, but also turns them into an evil beings. The four clans – Wolf, Bear, Rabbit and Rat – are racing to the king to either take his place on the throne or save him. There are several ways in which to replace the king and depending on your nature, you can do this in a good or an evil way. Like most RPG games, each clan or character has strengths and weaknesses and it is up to you to determine their alignment.
The board setup is very reminiscent of Catan and provides a natural feel for avid board gamers. Like many popular board games, the way you choose your movements across the board is what provides the strategy of the game along with the cards you collect. Be sure to think about what card you are playing and why. This is the other strategic part of the game and makes for a fun and complex setting. Play the wrong card and it can have just as bad of an impact as a botched dice roll. Due to the vast amount of outcomes, Armello is able to stay fresh for its audience.
The luck of dice rolls plays in an integral part of the game but in my opinion it does not dominate the game, it actually adds to its playability. Many of us have played Risk and know a battle is won or lost on a dice roll. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And So It Goes.” What makes Armello so enticing is the fact that it has taken some of the best elements of the games we love and rolled them into one. Whether you like Magic, Catan, or Game of Thrones, you should be pleased by this multi-faceted digital board game.
Armello can be rather complex but developer League of Geeks has provided a fantastic tutorial that one can quickly learn the game with. With the tutorial it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to grasp the gameplay.
The multiplayer mode allows for up to four players and provides the heart of the game. We all love board games and make no mistake about it, being able to brag to your friends about how smart you are when you win is important. Luckily in today’s digital world we have been provided with formats that allow us to still do this even when our friends move away! Armello gives us the board game, without the drive that many of us no longer have the time for.
Let the dust keep settling on your cardboard board games and pick up a controller. Armello gives one both the convenience of no travel and the enjoyment of a vivaciously blended board game without the headache of waiting for that one time a year when the stars align and we suddenly find a day and time where everyone can meet. I give Armello 9 out of 10! See you online! A review code was provided for this review.
I Am Bread Review -PS4
by: Luke Horn - 09/14/15
Will Smith beware! There is a new legend in town and he will “toast” you. I Am Bread is a fun quirky game where your goal is – yep you guessed it – to become toast. Along your journey to become toast, you must remain edible in order to succeed. The game play is physics based and presents several different levels of gameplay from starting in the kitchen to flipping around in the bathroom. Each level provides several ways to become toasted.
At the opening scene of each level you are presented with a note from the Therapy Barn to Mr. Murton – a clearly depressed man that is currently going through a divorce. This storyline provides a realistic environment where you actually begin to feel bad for Mr. Murton.
At first the game controls are awkward and frustrating. However, like most situations in life, the more you practice, the more proficient you become. Once you grow adept at moving around, the game becomes a satire of life which provides Twain like humor along the way. The awkward movements that the controls create are what provide the challenge and laughter in your quest to become a toasty treat. At one point I believe I was humping a loaf of bread.
The open floor plan gives the gamer a plethora of options and can provide several different scenarios in which you can toast yourself. Objects such as skateboards, wall heaters and a smashed in T.V. quickly become your friends. It was fun to die in this game, which was rather refreshing.
The game provides several modes in which to play, which keeps your bread fresh. You can zero-g yourself across space, have a bagel race and even rampage through the board smashing everything in your path in all your angry baguette glory. This keeps the humor going and provides multiple ways in which to get your toasty yummy bread fix.
There were a few hiccups along the way. At times the gameplay was stunted by the camera angel and I felt like I had become the invisible bread man. There were also a few glitches and it seemed like I had entered a bread matrix. However, the issues were minor and did not damper the game. In fact, most of the time, they were simply funny.
I Am Bread ended up being a more interesting game than I ever thought it would be. It provided several moments of laughter and kept me entertained. Remember not to take it too seriously; you are after all a piece of bread. There is nothing more nostalgic and life centering than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And let’s face it, without the bread; it would be hard as hell to eat them. I give I am Bread 7 out of 10. A review code was provided for this report.
Xavier S H reviews Xbox One version of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Four "Escape Plan Bravo". A review code was provided for this report.
Game of Thrones: Episode 5 "A Nest of Vipers" Review - Xbox One
By: Alan M. Wasserman
In the TV show the penultimate episode is usually the one that leaves you starting at your TV, the credits silently rolling against a black screen, leaving you alone with your thoughts and a sick feeling in your stomach. I had high hopesfor this installment of the game, knowing some wild twist or turn would lead us
to a shocking conclusion and into the final episode of the game. Unfortunately this was not the case.
We opened where we ended with Ramsey Snow and Rodrick Forrester discussing the fate of Talia, Ramsey threatening to marry her and join the families together. Ramsey thankfully puts those talks aside and asks Rodrick and Talia to join him in the forest, as he has something he wants to show them. You could tell by look on their faces that they knew, like Harry Potter, Ramsey was up to no good. As Ramsey chides the Forresters for not following orders and not playing nice with the Whitehills we come upon a familiar site, a wooden rack with a man half flayed on it. Unfortunately for Rodrick the man on the rack was the brother of his betrothed Elaena, Arthur. Ramsey tortures poor Arthur in front of the Forresters before opening his belly and spilling his guys on the forest floor. Cue opening credits!
The game continues to tell the desperate plight of the Forrester family. Asher and Beshka continue their quest to gather an army to protect Ironwrath, Mira flounders at every step in Kings Landing hurting her cause more than helping it, and Gared Tuttle continues his trip North of the Wall. Asher is forced to find his "army" in the closed fighting pits of Meereen, where he must battle a Prince Oberyn wannabe who talks trash and dances about with long spear. Asher, wins the fight, gives a flat monologue about blood and glory and the pit fighters decide to join as his army.
Nothing of note particularly happens to Mira. She tries again to help her family only to be arrested by the palace guard and taken to Cersei Lannister. Cersei waxes on about how Mira is more than she seems and how she appears to be useful. Cersei then manipulates the poor girl to do her bidding and sends her to gather information from Tyrion before his pending trial after the death of King Joffrey. In exchange for her help Cersei promises to "help" Mira with her problem with the Whitehills. Everyone knows that when Cersei agrees to help it always works out well.
Gared Tuttle and his band of brothers north of the wall encounter some of the locals and find out that the only way to kill the blue eyed monsters is to set them on fire. After a fairly short battle with three White Walkers, Gared and his friends flee towards the North Grove which we learn is a shelter even against
the darkest winter.
After his experience in the forest, Rodrick and Elaena spend some quality time together because nothing gets you over the heinous murder of your brother than weeks of shagging the guy responsible for it. During the scene Rodrick is interrupted by his sister Talia that during the night she witnessed a traitor
sending secrets to the Whitehills. Talia sends Rodrick to the Great Hall because the traitor is there currently. We confront the traitor and he goes on and on about why he did what he did. Based on your choices in the game I assume the traitor can be one of two people because he lays out your choices as the reason for his treachery, mostly those that run contradictory to his philosophies. Before you execute the traitor he begs for his life because he knows that the Whitehills plan on ambushing Asher.
The episode ends with the inevitable confrontation between the Forresters and the Whitehills. The hatred between these two lesser families has finally hit the boiling point. We are forced to make a choice at the end of the episode that will inevitably make a large impact going into the final episode. You can spot the choice from a ways off which dampens the impact of it.
I love Game of Thrones and devour anything I can read, play, or watch about it. However; this episode left me feeling flat. During the 2.5 hours that it took me to go through the episode, nothing happened or moved the story along except the events in the final 5 minutes of the game. In a game that is based on a
strong narrative I was left feeling that I could have skipped this episode and just picked up at the end of the game.
Along with the slow narrative there were several technical issues that I had with the game as well. The game crashed twice upon loading the new episode and there continues to be sound glitching throughout the game, either broken audio or no sound where there should be some.
I am looking forward to the final episode of the game to see how this tale ends and to see how Telltale weaves it into the greater narrative. This episode left me disappointed and I hope I do not have
to wait long for the final installment. I give this episode 7 out of 10 based on the slow
progression of the narrative and the continued technical issues that should not be there on a game that is not a technical juggernaut. Until the final episode: Valar Morghulis!