Category Archives: Reviews

Life is Strange Episode 4 – Darkroom Review

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Darkroom Review

Coming in late? Be sure to check out my spoiler-free reviews of Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3.

Life is Strange is becoming known for killer WTF endings to each episodes, making that damn six week gap between episodes absolutely excruciating. Don’t worry I’m keeping up the habit of not giving away any past plot events for those of you waiting for the season to wrap up before diving in, Netflix-style.

The opening section of Episode 4 is a radical departure for the story given the ending of the last entry. Max’s whole reality is seen from a new point of view. There are new entries in her SMS log, a new group of friends and her relationship with Chloe has transformed. Continue reading Life is Strange Episode 4 – Darkroom Review

God of War III: Remastered Review – Excellent/Pointless

God of War III: Remastered Review - Excellent/Pointless

God of War III is still an excellent title in the action genre pantheon. Having played through the HD makeovers of the original two games earlier this year, I was well placed to get stuck into God of War III again and it’s aged wonderfully over the last five years.

If you enjoyed God of War 1 and 2 on PS2, but found yourself picking up an Xbox 360 over a PS3 last-gen (thus missing out on God of War III), you’ll certainly want to take a look at this remastered edition if you now own a PS4. This is a grand finale to the main trilogy that any action fan deserves to experience and there are certainly cases to be made that GoWIII is the best entry to the series. Continue reading God of War III: Remastered Review – Excellent/Pointless

Tembo the Badass Elephant (Review)

Tembo the Badass Elephant Review | Dumbo Meets Rambo

Dumbo Meets Rambo

Game Freak (of Pokémon fame) have developed this stampeding platformer under Sega’s gaze, and it would seem they’ve opted for an unlikely platform hero in the shape of an elephant in order to bring the classic platformer back. Seeing as Sonic’s now the Reek to Mario’s Ramsay Snow, I was certainly willing to give Tembo a shot.

A new controller may well be on your shopping list soon if you’re planning on getting through Tembo the Badass Elephant though. This retro 2D platformer is one of those games I like to refer to as Bastard Hard. I’ve called it much worse over the last few days, but I’m probably not allowed to print such tirades. Continue reading Tembo the Badass Elephant (Review)

Batman: Arkham Knight (Review)

Batman: Arkham Knight Review | A Knight to Remember

This is the end folks. Rocksteady’s last Batman game. As we saw with Warner Montréal’s Arkham Origins, you can’t just ask another studio to copy the formula and come up with the goods. Wipe away those tears though and step into the world of Batman: Arkham Knight.

This final adventure sees Batman finally playing on home turf in the expansive Gotham City. A dream come true for gamers, but the Scarecrow wants to make it everyone’s worst nightmare. He’s been cooking up a small ocean of his trademark fear toxin to make a whole city lose its mind and tear itself apart. Continue reading Batman: Arkham Knight (Review)

Lego Jurassic World (Review) – Closed for maintenance

Lego Jurassic World Review - Closed for maintenance

Frankly, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long for the team at Traveller’s Tales to get their hands on the Jurassic Park license. But on the plus side, it’s meant they have managed to squeeze the brand new Jurassic World entry into the game alongside the original trilogy.

In fact, if you want to dive into the new movie straight away, you can after the prologue level. But if, like us, you love the original movies, you’ll want to play through from the very start. By now, TT are seasoned pros at reproducing iconic moments from films into family-friendly games. They’ve had their work cut out for them though as the original movie is surprisingly violent, so the game has been heavily reimagined or cut. So nobody really dies, goat spines don’t land on sunroofs and you certainly won’t be seeing Samuel L. Jackson’s severed arm flopping onto Laura Dern’s shoulder. Hell, even Dennis Nedry has even been slimmed down (because Lego doesn’t do fat). I’m surprised (disproportionately outraged) the electric fence scene has been completely cut though. Continue reading Lego Jurassic World (Review) – Closed for maintenance

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Review) – An unpolished classic?

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Review | An unpolished classic?

A reliable sign you’re playing an absorbing game is how it makes the time fly. I was constantly interrupted by my TV’s two-hour auto-shutdown notification throughout my time with The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Geralt’s adventures will cut through the days and nights so fast it’ll shock you.

The Witcher III marks the series’ debut on PlayStation and as such will be played by many gamers unfamiliar with the past games. There’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to be at a loss just diving in, I’d seriously advise reading a few wiki summaries of past events and  brushing up on some of the main characters so you won’t feel too left out. Continue reading The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Review) – An unpolished classic?

Bloodborne Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide Book (Review) – A light in the dark

Bloodborne Collector's Edition Strategy Guide Book Review - A light in the dark

If ever a PS4 game deserves its own extensive strategy guide, it’s Bloodborne. Sony’s PS4 exclusive by From Software has rapidly become the PS4’s most essential title, adored by fans of Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls series, as well as a fair few new fans, myself included.

I know what many of you are thinking, ‘why do I need a guide book, when the internet is out there?’ It’s a fair point and one impossible to ignore during this review. But having browsed multiple online wikis and read the weighty 550 pages of this guide with official information gathered from the devs themselves, it’s clear that this hardback guide is an essential purchase for fans of the game, whether they’re just getting started, looking for ways to finish off those last few bosses, master the incredible depths of the Chalice Dungeons or discover new weapons and how to use them. No stone is left unturned. Continue reading Bloodborne Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide Book (Review) – A light in the dark

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (Review) – “Ein Hotdog!”

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Review | "Ein Hotdog!"

The announcement of this standalone expansion prequel to last year’s excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order was an excellent surprise and the news that it was only going to cost about £15 was even better. Fast forward a few short weeks and you can pick up a copy for about a tenner. You’re looking at the best bargain of 2015, folks.

While the majority of the last game was set in the alternative version of the 1960s where the Nazis won WWII, The Old Blood takes place towards the end of the war in the mid 40s. You’re attempting to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein, an enormous fortress built into the side of a mountain. The word ‘imposing’ doesn’t really do it justice as you approach it via cable car. Continue reading Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (Review) – “Ein Hotdog!”

Mortal Kombat X Jason Voorhees DLC (Review) – This is why they run

Mortal Kombat X Jason Voorhees DLC Review | This is why they run

Season Pass content can be tricky to navigate, especially when you’re not sure how a piece of paid content is going to work out. At Dealspwn we always advise waiting for some coverage or reviews before putting any extra cash down, especially for season passes. We really enjoyed Mortal Kombat X at launch and have been impressed with the variety of characters already on offer. So how about the DLC ones? Well, here’s our review of the first to arrive, the infamous, Jason Voorhees.

The indestructible star of the Friday the 13th movies (yes, except the first one) initially seemed a rather odd choice for the series, as he’s never been known for his pace and the idea of him performing combos seems a bit absurd. Thankfully, NetherRealm have given him a generous injection of pace and a decent skillset with linkable moves, while maintaining his sinister style. Continue reading Mortal Kombat X Jason Voorhees DLC (Review) – This is why they run

Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory Review

Life is Strange Episode 3 - Chaos Theory Review

Coming in late? Be sure to check out my spoiler-free reviews of Episode 1 and Episode 2.

I expected the dramatic conclusion to Episode 2 to be the catalyst that would drive the series’ pace forward with a much needed boost. More so with questions about the events at Arcadia Bay’s school and the strange events around town being no closer to getting answered.

The first part of Episode 3 starts with Max and Chloe breaking into the school Principal’s office. To get through the locked door, you have to sneak through the school at night to find a few items. It feels a bit by the numbers really, with only bonus photo maintaining my interest. Continue reading Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory Review

Element Gaming Chair (Review)

Element Gaming Chair Review | Desk Delight

An often overlooked element to our gaming setup is seating comfort, especially for PC gamers playing from their desks rather than the sofa. For desk riding gamers out there, or those of you who spend a lot of time at a desk for work, going for the cheapest seating option can often be painful, as sore backsides and stiff backs become uncomfortable fidgety distractions.

But you can be comfortable without breaking the bank, meaning you’ve got spare cash left over to buy important things, like games. Today’s candidate, the Element Gaming Chair certainly deserves a look. Continue reading Element Gaming Chair (Review)

Mortal Kombat X (Review) – Gore galore

Mortal Kombat X Review | Gore galore

NetherRealm Studios come to their tenth canon Mortal Kombat release after the rather excellent Injustice: Gods Among Us. Working on the superhero title seems to have strengthened their resolve to come up with one of the best games we’ve seen in the long-running, face pummelling series.

The Story mode is a good place to start for any rusty brawler fans. You’ll control a set character for four fights before being put in the shoes of a new combatant. By the end of the story you’ll have played as most of the 24 strong cast and you should have an idea of which characters you’d like to develop your skills with and those you never want to see again. Continue reading Mortal Kombat X (Review) – Gore galore

White Night (Review) – A noire in the dark

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

White Night blends classic themes that sound fantastic on paper. It’s essentially a survival horror/adventure title hybrid, inked with a gorgeous Sin City-esque graphic novel style, toned with a classic 1930s detective noir vibe. I already want a film version.

We begin the tale with a car accident, which sees our protagonist hobbling towards a nearby mansion for help. And boy do I mean hobble. I’ve never endured such a slow opening 30 minutes in my life. I plodded up to the gates when the camera eventually let me see them, then up to the porch, then around the graveyard until I found the key, and then around the house for ages until I found the first save point, a couch. Thankfully, when our hero awoke, his injuries were healed and I was treated to a run button too. Continue reading White Night (Review) – A noire in the dark

Tower of Guns (Review) – Run n’ Gun Fun

Tower of Guns Review | Run n' Gun Fun

The roguelike genre has been spreading through the videogame genres over recent years in everything from RPGs to platformers, but now we have one for the FPS genre too. And it’s an absolute delight for anyone that remembers shooters before aiming down the sights was a thing.

The graphics-style may appear dated, but for the most part the controls are incredibly smooth and the twitch-handling is a fond throwback to older shooters; the responsive controls are fantastically fluid as you strafe enemies or nip between the hail of slow but thick storms of enemy fire. It has to be said though, there’s some awful slowdown in the larger rooms when they try to pack in too many enemies at once. It’s not a regular thing though. Continue reading Tower of Guns (Review) – Run n’ Gun Fun

Bloodborne (Review) – Hunt. Die. Learn. Grow.

Bloodborne Review | Hunt. Die. Learn. Grow.

Weeks after my first night in Yharnam, it’s time for a verdict on my adventures in Bloodborne. Well, a number for the experience so far at least. Fresh tales about From Software’s new title are appearing online every day. This is a game that nobody can really claim to have mastered yet. Secrets are still being unearthed, much of the lore has yet to be agreed and rumours whisper through the net about everything from werewolf modes to hidden boss fights.

One thing’s for sure though, Sony has done very well for themselves by nailing Bloodborne down as a PS4 exclusive. As enjoyable as Infamous, DriveClub (eventually) and Killzone were, they never rode such a continuous wave of hype after release. Bloodborne’s appeal won’t be a surprise to fans of From Software’s Demon’s Souls or the Dark Souls series, but what is surprising, is that it’s pulling in people who aren’t fans of the Souls games. People like me. Continue reading Bloodborne (Review) – Hunt. Die. Learn. Grow.

Ride (Review) – More than a fair weather rider

Ride Review - More than a fair weather rider

Bikers get a seriously rough deal for video gaming thrills. The late 80s and 90s teased us all into getting bikes when we grew up with classics like Road Rash and Super Hang On and then the genre just up and died. Sure there have been Moto GP titles and a smattering of MX titles, but the genre’s glory days have long gone. And booting people on Vespas into oncoming traffic is generally frowned upon in real life.

The last decent pair of wheels seen on PlayStation was the free bikes DLC in Burnout: Paradise. With Road Rash seemingly presumably dead in a desert ditch somewhere, we’ve had to look elsewhere for two-wheeled fun. Milestone (of recent WRC and Moto GP fame) are taking another swing at the sim-side of the genre, something akin to Riding Spirits. We’re not quite ready to call this the Gran Turismo of bikes either though. Continue reading Ride (Review) – More than a fair weather rider

Battlefield: Hardline (Review) – Campaign brings home the bacon

Battlefield: Hardline Review - Campaign brings home the bacon

Visceral games had a daunting task on their hands when they were given the reigns for the latest Battlefield game. But rather than attempt another military shooter, they’ve come up with a fresh angle for the series’ single player campaign and the online multiplayer by infusing a cops and robbers vibe.

We’ll start with the campaign, as it’s always nice to get a feel for the guns before hopping online. That said, DICE’s last two campaigns in Battlefield 3 and 4 have been terrible, you’d barely know that the same team were behind the excellent Battlefield: Bad Company games. Visceral know their way around a campaign though, having developed the excellent Dead Space series. Continue reading Battlefield: Hardline (Review) – Campaign brings home the bacon

Life is Strange Episode 2 – Out of Time Review

Life is Strange Episode 2 - Out of Time Review

Seven weeks is far too long to wait between episodes. Episode 1 was a fantastic opener, but the initial six-week wait between episodes became seven after a small delay. Considering Capcom recently released four episodes in four weeks for their episodic Resident Evil: Revelations 2, it would seem to make much more sense to follow their model by finishing development of a game and then releasing it, rather than frantically trying to meet deadlines every six weeks.

More to the point, with story-heavy content like this, it can be difficult to remember just what the hell is going on. The major events stuck in my head easily enough, but some of the interactions with smaller characters were much harder to recall. That said, checking Max’s diary and her character bios was a big help, and for the most part, I felt like I was up to speed enough without needing to replay the first episode. Naturally, if you’re holding off until every episode is out, you’re not going to have a problem. Continue reading Life is Strange Episode 2 – Out of Time Review

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

It’s highly unlikely we’ll see Final Fantasy XV released this year as it’s apparently only around 60% complete. So it was a great surprise to hear that Square-Enix were releasing a lengthy demo for it. Well, if you bought an copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 that is.

So let’s dive into this vertical slice of the game that lets us play around with some basic combat options and also provides a large area to explore. Seriously, this thing is huge, no wonder they called it an Episode rather than a demo.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

This lengthy taster begins with a brief introduction to the four main characters of your party. There’s some serious box ticking of RPG-tropes here. There’s the muscle head, the smart guy, a Junkie-chic version of Cloud wearing a weird vest jacket that looks like a tartan skirt at first glance and then there’s you, Prince Noctis, a skinny ultra emo haircut. There’s not enough story or dialogue scenes offered to provided a fully rounded opinion I’ll admit. But as first impressions go, they’re fairly dislikeable. I’ve noticed that FF party members have been a wonderfully diverse group over the years, so it’s odd to see this Japanese equivalent of the Backstreet Boys.

Like Kingdom Hearts, your party will sometimes be joined by other characters (in the final game) for a while, so fingers crossed we get a bit more racial and gender diversity in the group. Given the series’ popular appeal with male and female gamers, it’s odd to see Square-Enix shun half of their audience by having no default female party members. In episode Duscae, the only female of note is the cleavage-centric mechanic fixing your car.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

After the opening cutscene ends and the early resentment fades, you step outside your tent to be greeted with a stunning vista of a lake with huge dinosaur-like creatures wading in the middle of them. The lakes are surrounded by meadows where large rounded sheep-like beasts graze in herds and there’s a forest over to your left. And the best thing? You can go anywhere you like.

Waiting at least 20 hours to go free-roaming in FFXIII was a disaster the XIII series never recovered from. Episode Duscae seems like it is making a very important statement that freedom is back on the menu. Consider us relieved and impressed.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

Combat

I’ll get to the missions later. Chances are the first interaction you’re going to have with this world is to bash it with a sword. Handily, there’s a quick tutorial to ease you into the new combat. Turn-based purists may want to brace themselves, we’re looking at an action-RPG this time.

The closest Square-Enix comparison would be Kingdom Hearts, but seeing as this is a demo, not all of the combat features are available. There’s no spell-casting for example. The Square button handles melee strikes that can be bashed out or used with held presses for a variation (I had to look that latter feature up online though).

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

The MP bar feeds dodge moves by holding L1 and pressing a direction on the left stick. Time a dodge correctly against telegraphed attacks and you’ll have a chance to initiate a powerful counter. Different special attacks are activated via the Triangle button, such as the drain attack that absorbs HP/MP  or the Dragoon Jump that launches you into the air to smash back down with a powerful blast – great for groups of goblins or getting out of harm’s way for a few seconds. These specials also use MP, but they recharge with successful melee strikes, when you back away from the fight or use the warp teleport to climb nearby towers to take a breather. A warp-strike move is also incredibly helpful to zoom straight towards your target, which you’ll really appreciate during encounters with nimble enemies.

This brief sparring session put the combat in a good light, the melee moves were reasonablyresponsive -you’re not getting it confused with DmC anytime soon- and the dodge mechanic works well. Once you get into the field to take on groups of enemies though, things are a little different.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

The target lock system is going to need a lot of work by the time Final Fantasy XV releases. In its current state, you press R1 when facing an enemy for a soft lock and you’ll need to press R3 to get an apparent hard-lock on an enemy, indicated by an extra layer on the targeting reticule.  Holding R1 is also an option. The right stick controls the camera and swaps targets, which can be problematic when you’re just trying to get a better view. Whichever option I used, I found the lock-on would come loose all too easily against larger numbers of enemies. When trying to work on one enemy at a time to thin out their numbers, accidentally swapping targets all the time made fights much harder than they needed to be.

Against small groups of three or four enemies, I was able to wrangle the system into a manageable form, but against any larger groups, its becomes very annoying. With so much development time remaining though, we wouldn’t be surprised if Square-Enix continue to adapt the combat, especially with some of the feedback they’ll get from Episode Duscae. Hopefully at least.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

Weapon equip options available in this slice of the game were mainly locked down. Essentially, your melee combo is made up of five different swords with different properties. The special abilities only matter when you activate them via the Triangle button, but you can swap the swords around if you fancy opening a combo with a lance for example rather than a short sword. The final blade in a combo is ideally a finishing weapon, so you’ll want to equip one that does massive damage. Not that this demo tells you any of this. I had to go online to find information on that too. So again, hopefully the full game will fill in the blanks better.

Missions

So, when you’re not stabbing oversized sheep, what else is there to do in Episode Duscae? The overall mission is to earn 25,000 Gil to fix your car. While one of the larger yellow sheep monsters will net you 3000 Gil for a horn, you’re better off taking up the bounty of defeating the local behemoth, Deadeye, who has wanted posters all over the region. Probably for eating the locals, he doesn’t look like the bank-robbing type.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

From the map, you’re able to trek to distant locations to look for clues on his location, like huge footprints or smashed up sections of forest. These missions are very much a case of walking to a location and pressing X until you’ve done enough to find the entrance to his lair. Side-missions along the way may pop up, but all the ones I found involve walking a hundred metres from the start and picking up a clearly indicated item. So yes, the mission design is pretty poor. But they do feel a bit like placeholders, so again, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for something a little more exciting in the final game.

When you do decide to head into the forest to chase down the behemoth, you’ll get a change of pace with a stealth mission where you have to creep behind the huge creature in the fog to follow it to its lair. While initially quite atmospheric, it’s let down by cheap fails if you get too far behind (despite still being able to clearly see it), or when it spots you despite having its back to you or when moving on its blindside (it’s missing an eye and the game tells you it can’t see on that side too).

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

It’s about the EXPerience

EXP earned during fights is based on a few factors, like speed, number of parries and any boosters added through eating specific meals at camp. Meals can boost not only your XP bonus, but also critical chances or immunity to poison attacks. The longer a day goes on, the less XP you will earn once these boosters wear off, which can be a little annoying to be honest, as even hard-won fights against tough opponents can provide little reward if done at the wrong time of day.

If a party member’s HP reaches zero during battle, they’ll stumble around until someone heals them by running over and pressing X (the AI will look after you here too). However, each time this happens their overall HP meter shrinks. Camping will restore the meter’s maximum capacity though, making it an essential part of your day. It’s too bloody dark to enjoy hunting at night anyway.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

You’re only actually given your XP from the day when you rest at a campsite overnight. Here the XP automatically levels up everyone on the team. There’s no option to choose specific stats to update, but fingers crossed there will be by the final game. Hmm, I’m crossing my fingers a lot here.

Despite the issues with the camera lock-on and the generic mission types, Episode Duscae shows that Final Fantasy XV has enormous promise. The Duscae region is but a tiny sample of the world we will be able to explore and feels like the first proper Final Fantasy experience I’ve had in years. Emerging from that tent and being free to run off and explore in any direction of my choosing was fantastic fun and after four hours I may have finished the behemoth storyline, but there’s still more to do. Like finding all the parts of a hidden sword or using my new Eidolon to overkill the smallest of enemies just for the hell of it. And yes, it is possible to break out of the demo’s map barrier and explore more than you’re supposed to. You might even spot a Titan if you know where to look. Even at this demo stage, people are finding lots of hidden depth and extra things to do, just imagine how much there will be to discover in the final game.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Review | The Behemoth vs The Boyband

*All images captured by author on PS4.