For this review, I’m not going to do a typical review where I pick one game and do an in-depth review of the entire experience and all of its aspects. Instead, I’m going to have a list of four games that I couldn’t complete and give you my first impressions of them. Now just to make clear, the reason why I couldn’t complete these games wasn’t an issue of skill, but an issue of me not liking the game. I try to be fair to all games, but frankly, these were just not up to par. I’m going to tell you why I personally didn’t like these games. Most of the games on this list have high-acclaim and great sales. I’m just here to tell you if it’s worth sticking around for the whole game or if you’ll just get bored like I did and want to move on.
1.) Axiom Verge
Developed and Published by: Thomas Happ
Played on: PS VITA/VITA TV
Also Available on: Xbox one, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, MAC OS, and Linux
Axiom Verge is a metroidvania game where you play as a scientist, named Trace, who has been knocked unconscious by an explosion at a research facility. You awake in a strange goo filled maze hearing the voice of a woman begging you to help her. She guides you to a piece of alien military hardware, and tells you where you need to be heading. With that, the game begins and has a play style similar to Super Metroid. You go from room to room on the 2-D map looking for new technology that will allow you to progress further into the mysterious alien hallows. Traversing while shooting is key, as enemies occupy the walls, ceilings, and floors of every room. You will only ever have one gun in the entire game, but will get various attachments for it as you progress.
As you slowly but surely push on in the labyrinth finding new technology and revisiting places you’ve seen before to find the secrets they hold you will encounter a number of boss fights. Issue number one here. The bosses are massive creatures, equipped with huge weapons to boot. These bosses look impressive at first, but prove to be over dramatized bullet sponges. Out of the four bosses I fought, all four had a basic pattern of jump duck jump duck, or some minor variation of that. As the enemy shoots at you there have been many times where a bullet that should have gone over my head or been blocked by the wall in front of me registered as a hit. Believe me, you don’t want to take any damage during these boss battles, as they often require you to stay on a certain platform, meaning that falling from said platform can result in death. The final problem I had with the boss battles was how the game tracks how much damage the boss has taken. Usually in games the boss has a health bar of some sort or they will transform into a second form once you get them down to half-health. In Axiom Verge, the enemy justs gets, redder… It’s as if your bullets are simply lowering the pigment count of the boss’s skin causing them to burn easily. Normally this may be a substitute for a game that’s trying to be old fashioned like Axiom Verge, but the bosses can get so red for so long you have no clue if you’re even close to beating them. There have been some boss fights, particularly the first, where I thought I was destroying them, only to find out that I hadn’t done jack shit. This is incredibly frustrating because the bosses look like they have so much potential to them. When you enter a room the boss appears, absolutely dripping with precise pixels showing every detail the boss has to offer from it’s weapons to its weak points.
Standard gameplay isn’t any better. While the boss battles left me irritated with the game the wandering is even worse. The wandering goes from boring to irritating. The enemies are frankly, stupid. They don’t even notice you when you shoot at them. In addition to that, the environments, while diverse and bursting with creative effort, have nothing to them besides dumb as shit enemies and the occasion tech upgrade. You just wander, that’s it. The game becomes more and more frustrating as it progresses. The more asinine and unendingly complex the areas become, the less fun the game becomes. This should be fast and more about maneuvering around a strange environment rather than spending 10 minutes ascending a cave structure with the world’s worst grappling controls.
If that wasn’t enough to scare you away form this game, then let me tell you about the technical issues. I already mentioned above how the hit detection is trash. But let me tell you about the load times. They take forever. After dying you could wait 3-8 seconds to respawn. That may not sound long, but when you see how this game is basically just a SNES game with more detailed environments, you will quickly realize just how ridiculous that is. Other common but minor glitches include the same attack doing different amounts of damage every time it hits you. Not jumping when you click the jump button. And finally, the game not correctly tracking how far through the maze you are.
Even with these issues the game’s artwork and musical numbers are excellent. The soundtrack (which you can buy on itunes) perfectly captures the feelings of scientific wonder, hopelessness in the face of overwhelming odds, and the feeling of being lost on a strange planet with no way out. Frankly even if you don’t buy this game you should listen to the soundtrack. As far as the art style goes the game uses pixel art graphics that really hit home with the old feel of a SNES game. They are highly detailed, capturing every overgrown vine and chipped wall in the game. Aesthetically, Axiom Verge is in it’s own league. It’s attention to detail and atmospheric world really put it above many other indie titles, in regards to artistic style.
In the end, Axiom Verge fails to be a good game. The boss battles are frustrating, and the normal gameplay is just boring. The art direction saves the game from total ruin but you can just buy the artbook or soundtrack if that’s all you want from the game. Overall, unless you can get this game for a heavy discount, I wouldn’t recommend buying.
Why you should play:
Incredible amounts of details
Why you shouldn’t play:
Boring as hell exploration
Shit boss battles
Technical issues abound
2.) Persona 5
Developed and Published by ATLUS
Played on: PS3
Also Available on: PS4
Persona 5 is a game where you control a newcomer high school student in Tokyo who has transferred schools because of a crime he didn’t commit. Like with all Persona games you make friends with the various outcasts at school and find the one thing you all have in common: the ability to harness one’s inner power and use it in battle as a “persona,” a semi-translucent being that assists you in battle. Seeing corruption and crime permeating the city they love, the group decides to enter the “metaverse,” an alternate reality where people’s shadows live. Shadows are all of the negative attributes a person has manifested into a physical form. These shadows reside in “palaces,” mazes that represent what they view the world as (i.e. the world is their private bank or they view people as their loyal, unquestioning pawns.) As the team puts an end to greedy politicians and arrogant celebrities they slowly uncover a plot that could lead to the end of mankind as we know it.
Persona 5 has the same gameplay elements that Persona 4 had, just with minor additions. I must say the gameplay is truly something to behold. With the new set of hardware and extra funding from Sony and Sega, Atlus has been able to take their beloved JRPG series out of the PS2’s limited graphical and animation capacities and into the new era of technology. The game is absolutely gorgeous. The comic book art style the game has really compliments the improved gameplay. Gameplay is still the same turn-based RPG set up the series has always used, with minor additions such as being able to pass off moves to teammates and adding some new elemental attacks such as nuclear and gunfire abilities. Enemies, characters, and personas have fully done animations, with each attack and power up having its own. The game, with it’s new and improved graphics, also has many additions to dungeons. You can now sneak around dungeons hiding from enemies and ambushing them when the opportunity is ripe. But of course, this is where we run into our first issue. While dungeons in Persona 5 are far more fleshed out than in previous games with all the new areas and puzzles you will encounter, this actuallys undermines the game. In previous entries in the Persona series dungeons were merely there as a way for your party to level up and learn about the upcoming boss battle. While at first, the new additions to dungeons may sound welcomed compared to their drab predecessors, they are down right monotonous. Dungeons can take hours to explore with the various puzzles and secret areas you have to solve and find. This means you will spend hours trying to find where some random key is, or worse, having to put three random objects in different places around the palace. These activities are not mentally challenging or fun, they are simply here to pad out game time.
In addition to palaces that take hours to search because of archaic game mechanics you have safe rooms. Before in Persona you had the Goho-M, which was an item you took with you into the dungeon. Then you could use it on a specific floor in a dungeon and escape instantly. Then when you went back the following day, you could start from the floor you dropped the Goho-M on. Now we have safe rooms as a replacement. These are rooms that seemed to have been randomly tossed around the palace. You save and return to the palace with these rooms. But in many dungeons these rooms are insanely far apart. There have been times I have spent more than an hour trying to get from one save room to the next. And no, when you die in battle you don’t restart from a certain floor or battle, you go back to the last safe room you were in. This means that if you die because of a mini-boss that appears right before the next save room you have to redo that entire hour or more of grinding. It’s ridiculous. Dungeons, or palaces, were originally meant as set pieces where the player could learn information and get XP so they could fight the next boss. Now they have been reduced to irritatingly long time crunches that prevent you from getting to one of the best parts of Persona, the bosses. While I have to admit that the 5 bosses I fought in Persona 5 were excellent, it was a slog getting to them, and in the end, the slog wasn’t worth it. The boss battles are nothing to complain about. I personally feel that P4’s bosses were way more intimidating and harder than P5’s but that’s a matter of opinion.
Here comes the second problem: the story and characters. Now I know this is two but they have a lot in common. Let’s start with the easy one, the story. The plot is very different from previous games, with more of a focus on ending corruption rather than the end of the world or mysterious murders. But the end of the game, particularly the final boss (No, I didn’t get that far but I watched the final boss on Youtube and laughed my ass off) is just a copy and paste of Persona 4. It’s an exact rip-off down to the animations they use. It’s pathetic. If P4 was that good than they should have just remastered it instead of making this game and ruining everything the game has to offer. I’m not going to spoil anything, especially because the first 20-30 hours of the game’s story are pretty good.
Now the characters. They are the most confusing and frankly irritating people you could ever meet. They have no real personality and they have the most random things to talk about. In the first five minutes of meeting them they will tell you their entire life sob story and then how it’s affected them and then walk away as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. By the way, for your allies to get better in combat you have to talk to them to strengthen their social link. So be prepared to slam that X button because with a few exceptions, these persona users are pretty unbearable. Most of them are cheap rip-offs of previous, well-done characters. Morgana is Teddie. Yusuke is Kanji. The list goes on. This may not seem like an issue but keep in mind, you are playing a 100 hour game where you spend 90 or so hours with these people in and out of combat.
Overall, with a story wasted on a copycat ending and characters that are unbearable coupled with tedious gameplay, Persona 5 is the weakest entry in the series. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, even those who are hard-core into Persona. This isn’t a terrible game. The first 40 hours or so were enjoyable. But I couldn’t slog through it any further once I realized that it was only more asinine puzzles and paper thin characters.
Why you should play:
New engine breathes life into old franchise
Why you shouldn’t play:
The fuck is that ending?
Palaces are irritating
3.) Second Sight
Developed by Free Radical Design
Published by Codemasters
Played on: Gamecube
Also available on: PS2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows
Dr. Vattic has awoken with amnesia in a strange research facility. As he wanders the operating room he is in Dr. Vattic learns he has the power of telekinesis. As he slowly explores the facility, sneaking around guards and security cameras, Dr. Vattic slowly gains new powers to turn invisible, launch a ball of energy, and heal his wounds. While sneaking around trying to learn where he is and why he has these new found abilities, Dr. Vattic remembers he was with a task force of U.S. Marines. Their mission was to hunt down and capture a man named Victor Greinko in Siberia. To uncover what happened to him and what they did to his body, Dr. Vattic will have to fight through the facility in the present and the Russians in the past.
Second Sight is a third-person action game that incorporates elements of stealth and puzzle solving. As the game progresses the player will have to play through the present, when Vattic has his powers, and in the past, when Vattic is still apart of the U.S. Marine task force in Siberia. Gameplay that takes place in the present usually has you moving around an area with guards patrolling it defending the endpoint of the level. These missions do not require stealth but it is advised. In these levels you use Vattic’s superhuman abilities to outmaneuver the guards while picking them off one by one. This would normally sound fun but it quickly becomes frustrating. The game gives no sense of direction leaving the player to bumble about the large levels. What makes this even worse is how the levels are designed. There are random areas where you don’t have to go but are in the game anyway. There was one level where I found a back hallway, killed all the guards, and then went to open a door that was locked. After 20 minutes of running around like a crackhead looking for his car keys I looked up a Youtube video to learn that the hallway I had spent time clearing was just there and didn’t serve any real purpose. So I wasted 30 minutes of my pathetic life trying to open a door that can’t be opened.
The final cherry on the shit cake comes from Vattic’s powers. These are absolutely useless when going up against the heavily armed guards that patrol the levels. There isn’t any point in using your powers unless you have to solve a puzzle, which there aren’t many of. The best option is to kill one guard using your chokehold ability and then pick up his gun and use it in case you get spotted.
The levels where you play as Vattic during his time with the Marines are better. These levels are open ended but have a very clear path of where to go. They mostly play as third person shooters with many levels involving large scale firefights where you use cover and command squad mates to perform certain actions. While these sections were my favorite for the first half of the game, they quickly made me stop playing. In level 7, you have to infiltrate a base that is swarming with Russian soldiers. After quietly, or very loudly dealing with the soldiers you need to access a computer terminal and open a gate that is blocking the road. Once again, I run around like an idiot before using Youtube to bail me out. Except this time, when I did what the video told me to do nothing happened. The program I needed wasn’t on any of the computers. I thought I should reload the checkpoint and try again. I did and recleared the base only to find that I still couldn’t open the gate. Now just to be clear, I had already needed to reload the checkpoint twice earlier in the mission because it wouldn’t let me climb a pile of boxes to get into the base. So after encountering four game-breaking bugs in one level I gave up.
Is there anything redeeming about Second Sight? No. The game is either going to irritate you because it doesn’t work or because you spent half an hour thinking you were going the right way only to figure out that it was a deceiving dead end. I can’t recommend this game to anyone. Even if you find this for a low price like I did (only 3 dollars) don’t buy it.
Why you should play:
You tell me
Why you Shouldn’t play:
Terrible level design
Why do you even have these worthless powers?
4.) Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Developed by Silicon Knights
Published by Nintendo
Played on: Gamecube
Not available on any other official platform
Alexandra Roivas, the granddaughter of the esteemed historian and archaeologist Edward Roivas, awakes to hear of the brutal murder of her grandfather. After flying to his Rhode Island residence right as the police have taken his body away she starts to wander the house. Upon entering his study, Alexandra finds a book titled “The Tome of Eternal Darkness.” As she reads the book she learns that it’s an account of all those who have encountered and battled the eternal darkness that threatens humanity. As Alexandra reads the Tome of Eternal Darkness, the world slowly slides towards an impending doom that can only be stopped if Alexandra can learn from the past.
Sanity’s Requiem: Eternal Darkness is a third person action-horror game exclusively on the Nintendo Gamecube. There are 15 chapters to the game in total, I played 8 of them. Each level takes place in a different time period with a different controllable character. The levels do have great variety with settings in ancient rome, the temples of southeast Asia, colonial America, and many other places of historical significance. The levels tend to breakdown in a typical fashion of Alexandra reading a chapter from the Tome of Eternal Darkness and then the game transporting you to that period in history. During the level you will have to solve puzzles and fight enemies with melee and ranged weapons. Each level has a new ability such as a magical power or puzzle combination that Alexandra must use in the mansion to unlock a new area of the house. So far this sounds simple enough right? Well, it gets pretty bad pretty quick.
Let’s talk about the gameplay. So you spend the levels walking around an area battling enemies and solving puzzles trying to figure out what’s going on and ultimately trying to escape. The only enemies you have to fight are incredibly generic and slow zombies plus the occasion hulking “Monstrosity,” which is basically a very large headless man. Combat consists of locking on to a specific limb of the monster you’re trying to kill and then smashing the A button until you have either killed it or have to backup to avoid being hit. With ranged weapons it’s the same thing except you don’t have to worried about getting hit and bullets/arrows do less damage. So in a nutshell the combat is slow and boring. This is all the combat ever is during the entire game (at least what I played).
Next is the puzzles, if you can even call them that. Almost every puzzle involves you finding something and then putting it somewhere. But don’t worry, the game developers did a good job of making these easy puzzles frustrating and tedious. First of all, the game is incredibly dark. Not in the way that the atmosphere is gritty but, just hard to see things. You will run in circles trying to find some key or bracelet that is sitting in some dark corner or hanging on some hook you can’t see because it’s shrouded in darkness. I guess it’s fair because it is called Eternal Darkness but it gets excessive. In addition to not being able to find things you also have the problem of things not working. There have been many times when the key didn’t open the door or the key didn’t appear in the first place. To sum it up, glitches and that eternal darkness they keep talking about really killed the puzzle sections. Well to be fair, even if the game had a single light source and no glitches then the puzzles would be laughably easy because you would simply pick up the key, unlock the door and be on your merry way.
Now, we must talk about the horror. The most horrifying thing about this game, is the fact that it claims to be a horror game. Horror in this game is controlled by a sanity meter. When your character sees a zombie or gets attacked they will lose sanity. When they kill a zombie or solve a puzzle they will regain sanity. So what happens when you lose your sanity? You die. Okay… what happens when you lose 80% of your sanity? Well, then a manner of things start to happen. You will see the eyes of paintings and busts follow you across the room. There will be times your body will start to lose limbs and fall apart before you respawn to where you were again. Maybe you see enemies that aren’t there. This may sound creepy but it’s actually pretty hilarious. When your body starts to fall apart your character will make the oddest grunts and have the stiffest dying animation I’ve ever seen. When paintings start to look at you they will make the funniest of faces and most peculiar of expressions. And when you see enemies that aren’t there. Nothing, because they can’t lower your sanity any further and they die with one hit. If you read my review of Uncanny Valley (Which you totally should) then you might remember me saying that the horror is boring. Here, it’s even worse. The horror is funny. It’s so damn laughable that you’ll forget you’re playing a triple-A release that tries to have merit as a horror game.
Overall, don’t buy this piece of shit. I stay up at night wondering how I can put so many shitty games in my Gamecube. I’m surprised the damn console hasn’t tried to shoot the fucking microdisc down my throat yet. This game is terrible now and it was terrible when it released. Why would you buy this game now or back in 2002 when you could have bought Silent Hill 2 or Call of Cthulhu? The horror is humorous. The puzzles are fucked so hard they hit rock bottom. The gameplay is repetitive shit. Why didn’t I say anything about the story? Because there isn’t much to say. It gets the job done. So I guess there is one redeemable thing to this game.
Why you should play:
Why you shouldn’t play:
Read the review