Ladra

Developer Is Future Bright has brought to us quite a unique RPG Maker game. See, my qualm with RPG Maker games is that all games end up being practically the same: same sprites, same tiles, similar boring old story that attempts and fails at a new twist… but Ladra… Ladra is truly different for a game with this engine.

In Ladra you play as Estella, a thief who finds out about an upcoming war and decides to put her skills to better use. The story itself isn’t anything grand, and the game is rather short, of course, the RPG Maker engine makes it so that all the annoyances present in this type of game are there (such as the inability to press F12 for screenshot lest you close the game, or the rather basic tiles), but what games the game unique, and absolutely worth the buy (even at full price), is the gameplay style, for Ladra is not a typical fight-based RPG, but rather a stealth/puzzle RPG that, yes, seems vaguely inspired by the Thief franchise.

In this game, rather than attack enemies, you have to use 100% stealth. Hide in the shadows or various other places, crouch around and avoid patrolling enemies while you seek each level’s many treasures (a main one and several bonus ones that are optional). What I particularly liked (and it also drove me insane because I’ve been spoiled with ‘simpler’, clunkier, stupider games) was that even when you’re hiding in the shadows you can’t just walk right in front of the guards, because they will still see you. Isn’t that beautifully logical? I loved that!

Aside from still treasures, you can also steal from certain types of guards that patrol around, which adds a certain level of thrill to it.

Another good side to this game is that when you get caught you get tele’d to the last entrance used in that same map/floor (so, no restarting everything) – something that is extremely useful as you will get caught a lot of times while you try to figure out just how far the enemies can spot you and how to best avoid it.

On the downside, the linearity of the game and lack of options for alternate routes to take (there is only one path solution to each “puzzle”) was a bit disappointing, although I suppose it did add a level of difficulty to the game as a whole.

Overall, it’s a great little RPG Maker game with a unique gameplay style, and I definitely recommend it!

4/5

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Dishonored

If you don’t know Dishonored at least by name, then, my friend, you’ve been sorely missing out.

Arkane Studios and Bethesda brought to us one of the most amazing stealth games I’ve ever played. Biased? Maybe a little.

I don’t think I need to start with what Dishonored is about, as it’s such a well-known game already, but in case you’ve been living under a rock (admittedly as I was until I got it, haha), then here: Take on the role of Corvo, the late Empress’ bodyguard, now framed for her murder and deemed an assassin. As you search for the ones who are truly at guilt and try to regain your good name (or make a new name for your own), as well as get revenge, you go through the most amazingly crafted story and world, finding out about the plague that has struck the city, as well as many other things I shall not spoil for you.

Onto a more technical aspect: Dishonored is a first-person stealth/action game set in a steampunk type of world with some fantasy/magic/supernatural elements in it; I found it quite reminiscent of Bioshock in some ways, and it is an amazing, amazing] game. And this coming from someone who normally doesn’t like first person games that much, and who really sucks at stealth. The only thing that would make Dishonored any better to me right now would be if it had an option for third person.

So, what’s so great about this game, you ask? For starters, the graphics are breath taking, even in the lowest settings; and it works on lower end PCs without a hitch, which goes to prove you can have pretty cool graphics without sacrificing playability on toasters.

The sound in the game and the voice acting too, is beautifully done. The voice, the music, everything seems to fit just perfect with the setting and characters. What’s more amazing is that the sounds your character makes when moving aren’t just filler for your enjoyment. If you’re far too loud, enemies will hear you, and will find you.

Dishonored provides you with a varied style of gameplay, not the least of which is the supernatural aspect. It has many powers to choose from, and using them is not as hard as it appears at first. Once you get used to the controls, you find they’re reasonably comfortable, although not all of them precisely handy.

But my favorite thing of all has to be the many ways you can play this game, and many ways you have to approach a mission, which just ups the replayability up to a hundred; you can try different power combinations on different playthroughs, approach everything in a rather YOLO kind of way or try to stealth your way around and be a ghost, you can even mix and match! Choose to use or even not use your supernatural powers at all, and make several moral choices that will determine what kind of ending you get after all, and what kind of person Corvo becomes. Every moral choice you make, every person you kill or not, will change how people perceive you, how you as Corvo see yourself, and the ending you get. You also have more than one path to choose for each mission, which makes it feel far more like an open world, even if it’s not really an open world game.

I would definitely recommend everyone to play it at least once; it’s too much of a fantastic game, you simply can’t miss it.