Fatal Frame (Project Zero)

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

For day one we have Fatal Frame!

“Fatal Frame, also known as Project Zero in some countries, is one of the best, most innovative (for the time) survival horror games”

Turned into a Franchise so far 5 titles long, this series by Tecmo was one of the first I played on the PS2, and one of my favorites too.

“Set in 1980’s Japan, the story follows Miku and Mafuyu Hinakasi and she journeys into one of the best horror stories to grace the PS2”

Armed with a mysterious camera that has the power to expose the supernatural, Mafuyu goes investigate a haunted mansion where many a grossly murder has been committed with the hopes of finding out more about it – and perhaps even finding a renown lost folklorist in the process – shortly after disappearing himself. This prompts his sister Miku to go in search of him. Within the mansion Miku finds his brother’s camera and, armed with it, sets off in search of him, in the process unveiling dark rituals and fighting the spirits it has created.

“The original gameplay mode was centered around the camera itself, the only weapon you have against the ghostly encounters (your only other option being running from them)”

Taking pictures of ghosts with this camera saps their energy and eventually kills them. The more accurate the picture, and the more upgrades you make to the film and camera, the faster you dispose of them. Not all ghostly encounters are a fight, many are simply part of the story, showing you more of what went on, and, if you manage to snap a picture of them in time, become collectibles.

“Like any good horror from Japan, it focuses a little bit less into jump scares (though there are some, of course) and more into the eerie atmosphere and story – a very dark story that is very, very interesting, and apparently based in a couple urban legends from Japan”

There are ancient rituals and powers at play here, trapping the spirits in the realm and lurking at every corner as you explore deeper and deeper into the mansion.

“Everything in Fatal Frame, from the music, the sounds, to the dark visual of the rundown, ancient Japanese mansion, help immerse you into the world of Fatal Frame”

The ghosts are frightening without resorting to making them look like monsters, and it certainly manages to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering if the next apparition you’ll come across will be just an echo, or one that might hurt you. This is definitely a game best played in the dark and with headphones on to get the complete feel of it.

Of course, the game has plenty of unlockables: mostly costumes, a few camera functions, and an extra “battle” mode in which you forego the story to instead simply fight certain ghosts in order to earn points to unlock things. In addition, if you end the game in the “Nightmare” difficulty, you get a different ending.

Seeing as it was the first in the franchise, the controls leave a little to be desired though, such as Miku’s slow, slow pace. The only thing I really disliked however was the lack of a free save, having to resort to save points instead, sometimes a bit far in between, or making you backtrack since you had no idea when the next one would be.

All in all, though, the game is definitely worth a play if you’re into survival horror. It’s different, it’s scary, it’s creepy, and it’s wonderful!

 

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[Early Access] Erwin’s Timewarp

 

Data Break Up
Game: Erwin’s Timewarp
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Strategy
Developer: Jayanam
Publisher: Jayanam
Release Date: Sep 21, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  4/10
Graphics: 7/10
Controls: 6/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 3/10
Sound: 2/10
Story: 2/10
Replay Value: 1/10 (at current state)
Community: N/A

 

Erwin’s Timewarp is an adventure game. You play as the pet dog of some scientist who built a time machine and sent you to the past, and you’re tasked with finding various pieces of this machine in order to return to the present.

Starting the game you’re able to put it in various resolutions of window mode, and you can also choose to play at full screen; this is something I usually really appreciate as I don’t always like to play certain games in full screen. However, there’s little else in the form of proper menu and options. The only sounds to be found in the game at its current stage were also only in this menu, and unfortunately, the music was completely awful to me. I could not click out of the menu fast enough.

Visually the game is kind of cartoony. It’s relatively good looking and the textures are nice, as well as the details on the areas; for an indie unity game in 3D/top-down/isometric view it ran surprisingly well on my computer, so kudos to the dev for that accomplishment. I usually have a lot of optimization issues with indie games on unity.

As I mentioned before, there’s little in the way of sounds or music outside the menu, and that is almost a blessing considering my dislike for the meny music.

You’re also tossed into the game with little in the form of tutorial, explanation, or back story. In fact you’re only told a couple times about what’s going on and what you’re supposed to do and find. If you didn’t read the description on the steam page, you’d have no idea what you’re supposed to do until you encounter that alien – which btw, I’m still wondering why there’s an alien there.

The puzzles are fairly easy to follow on what you need to get in order to do what, but the way of interacting with things is a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes objects will highlight but not pop up hints, the icons offered as menu aren’t clear on what they do until you click them and find out, and they won’t appear until you’re in some particular range and angle from the item. Still, the rest of the controls (mostly movement wise) are fairly good despite this.

What makes the game a bit harder is that you have to spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out what to do at the start, and you CAN die (and you can save, too, so be sure to save): some characters will hurt you, and you must also keep yourself fed through the game, which I guess is an interesting twist for an adventure/puzzle game, but frankly I’m still unsure if it works.

The character animations for the dog and companions are fairly good, but the human animations leave much to be desired. There were also some bugs in which, for instance, you’d get stuck against certain things.

All in all it seems like an ok game, and I can see some potential in it which is why I would recommend to keep a watch on it if it sounds interesting; but it really needs a proper introduction and a brief tutorial. I understand Early Access is expected to not be completely functional, but there’s “we’re still testing out things”  and then there’s “this shouldn’t really be open for sale and/or the public as a whole yet”.

If you like adventure games and want to support the dev, I’d recommend it, it’s an ok game with what it has so far. I can see potential in it, but currently it’s not something I’d recommend to just about everyone.

Survivalist

 

Data
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Game: Survivalist
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG, Simulation,Strategy
Developer: Bob the Game Development Bot
Publisher: Ginormocorp Holdings Ltd
Release Date: Jan 30, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  5/10
Graphics: 6/10
Controls: 2/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Story: 5/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

First of all I want to say… this game was just not for me, and so to people who know my likes well and have similar tastes, I would not recommend it. However, I can appreciate that although it may not be for me, it is actually a fairly good game and people who don’t have the same miffs with it that I do might really enjoy it (and actually have).

That said, let’s get on with the review.

Joe Wheeler, a self-centered businessman, leaves the safety of his bunker in search for food just about a year after the zombie apocalypse. The game is actually pretty run-of-the-mill post apocalyptic survival game, you have to scavenge, avoid looters, kill/escape zombies, build your own place in the world and overall just survive.

The graphics are pretty good, not 3D masterpieces but I rather like the look of them; the game runs perfectly on older computers and the sounds and music are pretty alright as well.

The Good:

The game has lots of potential, and for being a one-man job, it’s really an amazing accomplishment on the developer’s part.

The world seems to be quite large, the quests, although rather typical, are alright; the quest givers do remember your actions and any misstep will have consequences. You can go to war with factions, recruit people to your side, etc. You can use diplomacy, buy, sell, trade…

The characters do seem to have some form of distinct personalities, and they are flawed in them. I really loved the touch of one of them having diabetes, it brought realism to the story. That there is a limited supply of insulin you must find/trade for also made it more realistic. But it also has the downside of making you feel truly rushed…

You can split your party and give everyone commands. You can build things and plant crops.

It has a fatigue system so you can’t just run forever, and I rather like that they added a needed sleep schedule to the hunger/thirst part of surviving.

People can actually leave your party/settlement/faction when they don’t like you anymore.

You can save at any time during the game, something that always wins my heart.

The Bad:

The default controls are super uncomfortable to me. Having to click F1 for the inventory is a stretch, using the middle button (mouse wheel button) to skip text is super uncomfortable. Entering a building is done through clicking with the mouse, but so is talking, and the menu for talking pops up as soon as someone is next to you, so sometimes the characters would stand right next to me when I was trying to enter a building which ended up in me talking to them when I didn’t want to.
Overall it was a pain to do half the things I had to do.

The characters who didn’t have a high shooting skill couldn’t shoot straight worth a damn. I get it this was probably going for realism, even Joe outright admits that he’s a bad shot. But there’s a bad shot, and there’s I-can’t-hit-a-target-even-when-it’s-on-me. The zombies were just way too fast and the aiming did not work quite as well when you had to be moving around all the time to avoid them jumping you from far too far. I found 0 melee weapons on the time I played (I honestly don’t know if there’s any), which admittedly wasn’t much. It was disturbing. I’d expect you’d find a baseball bat to smash a zombie’s head with before you’d find a gun…Then again I suppose since it’s a year later most people would be carrying guns… all the same, a backup melee weapon would have been nice to find.

The game’s inventory is handled by a weight system, which is alright. However, it feels like you can’t really accomplish anything because everything you find to carry weighs too much and you end up having to make some very tough choices. This could be fine if you like a hard challenge, I’d rather get a bit more time to enjoy the game while surviving…

Resource hunting is mind numbingly boring. Just getting the things to start building a fence took forever. Even with a backpack, because of the weight issue, the character can only bring one or two pieces of wood at a time. While realistic, this was also terribly frustrating – It takes longer to bring a piece of wood back to the shelter than it takes my characters to start getting hungry and sleepy and thirsty.

The need for food/sleep/water/insulin seems too pressing. Again, good if you’re playing say, hard mode, but it doesn’t let you (or at least, wasn’t letting me) enjoy the game. I wasn’t even done figuring out a quest, and already they were starving. (Ok, not starving-starving, but already quite hungry).

The AI seemed clunky when you left your guys alone. I left one doing the supply runs for wood so I could start building up something, he was attacked and bitten because I wasn’t there to press space when he got jumped. Had to restart because I was unable to get the needed antigen and I was fairly sure I couldn’t lose my only builder so far.

All in all, while I loved the general premise and style of Survivalist, I couldn’t bring myself to fully enjoy the game as I felt rushed to get through it, and annoyed with the controls; yet I can see lots of potential in it. I was pretty split on recommending this game or not. In the end I’m going with a tentative “no” because tome the cons are a bit more annoying than the pros. Still, I can admit it’s not a bad game.

So, if you like a challenge in your survival games, then I would definitely recommend Survivalist to you. For the price it can be a great game. If you were expecting something a little more relaxed, I wouldn’t recommend it.

There is word that there might be a multiplayer mode added, and I’m looking forward to see if it makes it any easier on the players by teaming up.

[Review] 60 Seconds!

 

Data
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Game: 60 Seconds!
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Indie, Simulation,Strategy
Developer: Robot Gentleman Studios
Publisher: Robot Gentleman Studios
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Controls: 6/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Story: 7.5/10
Replay Value: 9/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

You are Ted: loving husband, father of two. You lead a lovely, peaceful life with your family until the nuclear apocalypse strikes. Now, you have 60 Seconds to decide what’s important enough to bring into the shelter with you… and survive as long as possible.

60 Seconds is not quite what I expected it to be, though in all honesty I’m not sure entirely what I was expecting of the game, but it has its charm still.
It is, in its core, a survival text adventure with some mild dark comedy thrown in. Yes, there’s a part that’s kind of action-y (the initial 60 seconds of it), but it’s played for such small amount of time it’s hardly noticeable, even if the contents are quite relevant to the development of the story.

Let’s split it up.

Entering the game you’re presented with the options (not counting the tutorial): A regular game, which includes the action part and the survival part; a scavenging game (which includes just the action/scavenging part) and the survival part (which is survival/text adventure, mostly, with randomly generated resources).
Each game play style has three modes: easy, medium and hard. I rather enjoyed that they would give us the freedom to choose which part we liked best to play, rather than force us to do both play styles in one go.

On the action/scavenging part of the game, you have 60 seconds to gather as many items/resources as you can, toss them in your shelter, and enter it yourself. You find all this in your house: your house is randomly generated with each new game, so that the items and rooms are never in the same place. The items you can get range from food and water, to your family, radio, axe, gun, gas mask and other survival items. At the end of the 60 seconds, you must be within a certain area near the shelter, or risk not surviving the apocalypse yourself. To make matters more complex, you have only four slots, and some items take up two slots, so you’ll have to make several trips to the shelter to get everything there.

The graphics on this part of the game are 3D cartoony; they feel kind of awkward to me, and so do the controls. You move with wasd and turn with the mouse, but turning takes too long. You grab the items with a mouse click, but in order to grab it you have to be facing it almost perfectly (the white outline will turn red) and as I’ve just stated, turning is really friggin’ hard, making the whole 60 seconds section super frustrating. Still wanting to up the complexity of the controls, furniture will be in your way, which means you can bump into it and drag it along, slowing you down. This would, again, be much less annoying if you could turn without having to move your mouse in 500 circles per quarter of a turn.

Thus, a section of the game that could have been quite fun was instead rendered quite annoying and frustrating (in case the first 50 times I said it was annoying and frustrating wasn’t understood… )

Once the 60 seconds are up, you move on to the survival part.

Congratulations! You’ve survived the bomb! But now you must survive until you are rescued. This is the part of the game I enjoyed the most, even if some of the texts and outcomes became both a bit repetitive and predictable.

You switch from the 3D cartoony graphics to 2D cartoony graphics. I wasn’t overly fond of the art style at first, but it grew on me, and now it just seems to fit the mood of the game quite well.
On this screen you will be presented with however many survivors and resources you threw into the shelter.
Each day you will go through the same motions: you open up the notebook, and it will tell you a little story, what’s going on with the family, what’s needed, etc… Each day you can ration food and water to them (or not). Every so often you will get story prompts: send someone to the surface, fix this, kill that, solve a problem, etc… and you may not always be able to do them all, depending on if you have the item needed for it or not.

The graphics, though mostly still, are quite dynamic. You see the family change as days go on and things happen: they will look different when sick or hurt, when hungry or crazy, they will grow beards, get dirty, etc…

For the most I enjoyed this part, but it was a bit bothersome that no adults in the bunker meant you instantly died. I could understand it if only the youngest boy was the only one to have survived, but I’m fairly sure the teenage girl is capable of at the very least open a can of soup/bottle of water, so I think it’s rather unfair that if she’s left alone she ‘dies’ the very next day. I should at the very least be allowed to play her until she actually truly dies too or runs out of resources or whatever.

60 Seconds has some very amusing parts when it comes to the text, if rather dark in nature, but it can also be quite frustrating to play in the scavenging part. I feel like the problems turning and grabbing things should be considered more as a bug than as something they should’ve done to make the 60 seconds more difficult, and I hope they will consider fixing it in the future. (Yes, I know, the bug report sticky says it’s fixed, but it’s still too slow for me even after having gone to the settings).

I also hope they will add more endings as even in a short play through some of the events and endings repeated. Aside from that, 60 seconds can be quite an enjoyable game, particularly as you can choose to replay whichever section you have a preference for without having to forcibly do the other. It won’t be amazing, and it’s probably not worth quite the full price (maybe pricing it $5 would be better than $10), but it’s not a bad game at all.

First Impressions: Immune [Pre-Release]

Note: This game has since been improved on, and some of the issues I mentioned have been fixed. I will do another review soon to see what has been changed. 

 

Data
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Game: Immune
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Massively Multiplayer, RPG, Survival
Developer: vidiludi games and entertainment
Publisher: vidiludi games and entertainment
Release Date: Mar 25, 2015
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  8/10
Graphics: 9/10 (for the style)
Controls: 6.5/10 (placing some stuff can be slightly awkward)
Level/Puzzle Design:8.5/10
Sound: N/A
Story: N/A
Playability/Gameplay: 8/10
Community: N/A (rather empty)

 

Review

Immune is an early access survival game. There’s you, there’s zombies, there’s friendly and unfriendly NPCs and, sometimes, there’s other players.

Right now there’s 4 servers (North America, South America, Hong Kong, Europe) and I have yet to see any with people on it. Fine by me, I know no one will steal my stuff from storage. ;)

The game itself has a simple premise so far: you’re trying to survive post zombie apocalypse. You look around for food and resources, you kill/escape zombies, you hopefully team up with people to survive. There’s a few things you can craft, you can plant a couple things, you can go through boxes and stuff, and you can punch trees (and other stuff) for resources.
There’s not much of a story, not that I’ve seen yet anyway, but it’s a nice game so far. Simple, obviously has a long way to go still, but promising all the same. It was a bit hard for me at first to get on my feet, but once I got a friend to play with it was a lot easier and faster to get resources and share them.

The game played well in my computer, which can be a bit of a toaster.

Downsides:
– Not a lot of variety on stuff (only a few types of food, only a few types of stuff to craft, amount of items needed to craft stuff seems a bit odd at times)
– Servers can get a bit kick happy sometimes
– Servers are new so they’re mostly empty
– Cars are difficult to drive
– Seems a bit difficult to hunt stuff when you’re soloing
– Characters lack variety (no choosing gender, they all look the same)
– You can not move stuff once you place them down, some stuff have short durability

These are all stuff that could be easily fixed as the game progresses, though, so I wouldn’t just discard the game for it.

Upsides:
– Cuteish graphics
– Actually nice to co-op with friends
– You can use the cars found around!
– You can loot your own backpack if you get back to where you died (thus recovering your stuff) :)
– You can make current buildings into your own safehouse
– The developer replies quickly to issues, and he’s very nice and friendly

My sis and I were taking over a house, placed a door wrong (it opened right in the middle of the doorway so we couldn’t go through it), and I was locked inside. lol I asked the developer and he came online at once to help (granted, the help was shooting at it for a few minutes until the door was destroyed, but he did get me out haha).

Immune still needs a lot of work, but for early access it’s not a bad game.