Nidhogg 2 - A PSVG Review

Let’s do this review proper. Push play.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s begin!

What is Nidhogg 2?

Coming into this review, I had never played Nidhogg, so the sequel was a brand new experience for me. The easiest way to describe this game is fencing/dueling tug-of-war. After a brief stint of character customization, players are matched up head to head (or against the CPU) with the end goal to make it through several screen of your opponents territory to an eventually end point. Only then can you claim victory, and also death, by being devoured in one gulp by the majestic Nidhogg.

(fun fact, it stems from  Norse Mythology )

(fun fact, it stems from Norse Mythology)

You have a variety of weapons at your disposal: a saber, broadsword, bow, and dagger. Each plays a bit differently and provides a variety over-the-top ways to slay your opponent. That is really Nidhogg 2 in a nutshell.

What’s in the Game?

What has been described above is really the essence of this game. It’s a simply formula that really plays out best depending on your opponent. Game options are simple enough, as a single-player, you may choose to play what amounts to “arcade mode”, playing through each stage in sequence against a CPU opponent. This taught me how to play the game, but really left me wanting more in terms of an actual experience. Great, there is an online mode, let’s find game! No dice. I’m afraid either the community has already moved on, or there just isn’t one large enough in place on the Nintendo Switch. I was upset. I really wanted to give this game an open mind, but my experience felt so stale based on the options I had access to, then….I took my Switch to a friend’s house… That is where this game truly shines, Nidhogg 2 almost requires local multiplayer. Within minutes we were shrieking, taunting, and killing each other over and over as we battled towards the glorious death only the Nidhogg could offer. What would be a simple 1-3 minute match against the CPU was upwards to 15 minutes or more as we struggled back and forth from once screen to the next. It truly was a tug-of-war and many laughs were shared between the two of us. This is how this game was always meant to be played.

So What are the Drawbacks?

While Nidhogg 2 was a fun experience, it’s those elements that make it fun that I also feel hinder it. Multiplayer is a must. If you don’t have access to someone local, online is an option, but you are missing out on that interaction, which is so vital. There is no single-player offering of note, so don’t even go into this expecting it. The spawning system can also be a bit frustrating at times. If only player already has momentum in the match and is rapidly moving through a screen, you are often dumped in with little time to react or invincibility frames to protect you. This would lead to a quick death and more progress from your opponent. Perhaps this is just an exploitable tactic that we discovered early on or merely a design decision from the developers? I’m not sure. The weapon match ups also leave a bit to be desired. I found myself really only wanted the saber or broadsword as they were “OP” compared to other options. There is the option to customize those setting before the match, so at least the player can negate those. Lastly, I’m just not a fan of the visuals here. The original game had a very simple almost “Atari” like style.

nid 1.jpg

It was clean, simple, and easy to focus. Maybe its just that nostalgia that bites me? The sequel jumps so far forward with its colors and depths of design. The backgrounds are lush and detailed, but the characters just look….gross. I can’t quite put my finger on why I dislike the character design so much, but if there was a slight deviation there, I would not be disappointed.

nid 2.jpg

The End

Overall, there are more hits than misses when looking at the whole of Nidhogg 2. I don’t think there is enough game here that you will be coming back over and over BUT what IS HERE makes for a great “party game” experience that is well worth taking a look at. I feel that the $14.99 price tag is accurate and if you have a local or even an online play buddy that is interested, you should give this game a go. Let me know how many laughs you have.

Nidhogg 2 was reviewed using a eshop code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

Review: State of Mind (Xbox One)

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  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One, releases August 15th, 2018
  • Also playable on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & PC

Note: The review embargo for State of Mind is today, Monday August 13th 2018 however the developer, due to State of Mind's focus on narrative and storytelling, has asked that we hold any video footage after the game's introduction until the game releases on the 15th. This post will be updated with more video content on Wednesday.

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Out this Wednesday is the latest point-and-click adventure game State of Mind from German developer & publisher Daedalic Entertainment. Daedalic, since it's creation in 2007, has been making a name for itself as a standout in the narrative adventure & point and click genre with highlights such as the Edna & Harvey series, The Pillars of the Earth and the tactical turn-based RPG series Blackguards.

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When mind and machine become one – what will remain of humanity? That's the core theme at the heart of State of Mind's journey. The narrative adventure is set in dystopian Berlin, Germany 2048. Society's on the brink of collapse as poverty, illness, lack of resources, and robotics threaten the human way of life. Is there hope, salvation to be found? A colony on Mars? Super AI? Trans-human adaptation and Virtual Reality? Government Conspiracy? Does any of these intrigue you, strike your fancy? If so, I'm willing to bet you'd really enjoy the story that State of Mind sets out to tell. There are similarities to Blade Runner, I, Robot, Ready Player One, Surrogates or Ex Machina if you're looking for them so if that's your kinda story this is your kind of game. The plot, the focus and main offering to be had with State of Mind, is a fun one but also difficult to dance around and avoid spoiling any of the fun. Let me just say the following:

  • If you think you know where it's going? You don't. Trust me.
  • For me, the ending was worth the journey to get there.
  • The best parts, as with all adventures, is in the details, the sub-plot and supporting characters so take your time and READ everything. It's a slow burn State of Mind that peels away layer after layer with ever rock you turn over.
  • You'll control several characters which allows the player to experience the story from multiple perspectives.
  • It's a mature, adult themed game thus the M rating (17+) a rating I agree with, definitely not suitable for the kiddos.
  • In total, I think my main campaign took me about 8-9 hours to complete over a 2 day period taking time to capture video/moments along the way.

https://youtu.be/vZflQp9Wb5I

Visually State of Mind is intriguing. The characters are all created out of this polygonal-triangle makeup that reminds me of how characters looked back in the early days of 3D graphics in the 90's, but much much MUCH better. Actually, considering the theme, it's a great fit as the character models add to the tech-y, sci-fi scheme most of the game is going for with most of its more impressive and stylized, grungy, neon lit environments. It's unique and a standout for me during my playtime. Several times during the game I used the left stick to just pan across the world around me. My only complaint with the visuals is that I wish there were more variations of NPC models present in several environments like the club, workplaces, streets and sidewalks. It's definitely noticeable more than once that a crowd was really more like 3-4 characters duplicated over and over (really, why are so many of the male characters wearing the same infinity scarf?). The overall use of textures, color and shapes is a simple but impressive one and definitely hits the science-fiction, almost cyber-punk scenery I believe the developers were trying to accomplish.

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As an adventure game built around point-and-click commands you already know what the gameplay consists of. You'll walk around, reading / interacting with objects and characters unlocking clues you'll use to progress the story along. Par for the course right? Thankfully, Daedalic has thrown in an OT flavored curve-ball to alleviate the repetitiveness that comes with the formula so often. Throughout my campaign at times I took control of drones that required a FPS-like mini-game or stealthily eavesdropping a conversation. There's also some minor hacking, phone calling, and several environmental picture-based puzzles that largely shake you from my one gameplay complaint, the walking. While never a deal breaker, you'll spend most of your time in State of Mind walking from location to location, character to character, and item to item and I must admit the floaty, tank-like walking controls weren't the best I've experienced. Characters feel like they have a large/wide turning area and even the smallest objects obstruct your path which combined had me stuck on corners or running into and along walls and other boundaries. I do wish there were more action-oriented moments to be had in the story as they're definitely the highlight of the campaign, but I also understand the slower, more investigative chapters enhance the chaos later on.

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I played State of Mind on Xbox One X where it performed pretty smooth throughout the game. There were only a couple, minor, seconds at a time where I thought I recognized some slowdown. I did get stuck on a couple elements of the environment, mainly desks/chairs in the office spaces that required me rebooting the last save point but the saves are generous and it only happened twice. Chapters, environments, and scenery load times were pretty reasonable, no more than 20-30 secs or so each time. I'm most intrigued to find out how the game performs on Nintendo Switch as there's just not a comparable experience to be found on Nintendo's handheld. Xbox and PlayStation have similar games from Tacoma, Fragments of Him and Firewatch. State of Mind could be a stand-out for Switch owners looking for a narrative game to get invested into if the frame rate and load times are reasonable.

I'll look to update this review with some Switch coverage as its made available from other outlets.

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I'm quite impressed with the story and experience State of Mind offers. The characters were believable, and as much as they can be in a dystopian, science-fiction setting... grounded. Humans are human, they're flawed and live complex, messy lives just like we do. The result is a storyline that I was invested in on a personal and global level. Additionally, I really enjoyed the linear gameplay. In a world with more and more complex decision and skill-trees, State of mind keeps you focused on the task at hand and moving forward. Unlike other adventure games / walking sims, you won't find yourself lost or not knowing what to do often.

The elephant in the room for many gamers, I believe, rests with the asking price of $40. A lot has been said this generation about the demise of the middle "B-Tier" games with the rise of mobile and independent game development, but that's kind of  the space where State of Mind is trying to fit into. The story's really good and so is the art and style, but it's not at a level above and beyond an Edith Finch, Firewatch, or an Everybody's Gone To the Rapture all of which launched at much lower prices.

Should you dare to buy in from the start or wait for a sale, I think you'll find a rewarding weekend of linear-adventure gaming with a neat, boundary pushing story.

Final Verdict 78/100

https://youtu.be/UvKiSeFeaa0

Flipping Death: The PSVG Review

flipping death banner.png Welcome to Flatwood Peaks, a small whimsical town with a problem – Death is on vacation. Play as Penny and help trapped ghosts with your trusted scythe. Flip the entire world around to solve puzzles on both the living and the dead side and slowly uncover the mystery surrounding your own demise. Key Gameplay Features ● Unique mix of adventure and platforming set in a twisted, rich and colorful world ● Flip the entire world with the press of a single button! ● Possess the living and use them to solve puzzles ● Innovative physics combined with an immersive story told over several different chapters ● Spiritual successor to our previous well-received game Stick it To The Man!

Check out our Review Done Quick Here:

https://youtu.be/eRnO_dRpsiw

Release date: August 7, 2018. Price: $19.99 / €19.99 Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam (PC) Languages: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish Developer and publisher: Zoink Games

You can also watch Donnie's stream of the first hour if you want further details:

https://youtu.be/XkcjQY-yheY

Switch Review: The Lion's Song

https://youtu.be/Ano2-2q4gRU

  • Developer: Mi'pu'mi Games
  • Publisher: Mi'pu'mi Games
  • Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch, released today July 10th, 2018
  • Also playable on: Google Play, Apple iOS, STEAM/PC

Final Verdict

I very much enjoyed my play through of The Lion's Tale. At times the story is filled with moments that have impactful resonance and I think many players will find at least one or two themes they can latch onto. The artsy foundation melds well with the sound design, style, and storytelling to provide a mature, thought provoking experience.

80/100

 

Switch Review: Miles & Kilo

Jason has finished his review of Miles and Kilo, out now on Nintendo Switch. Looking for more information? Be sure to listen into this week's Nintendo Shack episode with N64 Josh to hear more discussion for Miles and Kilo - Shack - N64 Josh https://youtu.be/tVCUimr84rI

Also down below is the official trailer for Miles and Kilo. The game is only $7.99 and can be purchased on the Nintendo eShop.

https://youtu.be/k02D8TwHtkY

Soccer Slammers Review for Nintendo Switch

Donnie had the opportunity to review Soccer Slammers, the latest game from Atooi, the developer behind Mutant Mudds, Chicken Wiggle and Xeodrifter. What did he think about this arcade button-smashing soccer game? Watch below to find out.

https://youtu.be/MP1YjQ_NL3Y

Also, if you'd like to watch Donnie and his son Jack check out the local coop, watch the let's play video.

You can buy Soccer Slammers here on Nintendo's website.

Follow the Atooi team to keep up with the latest on Chicken Wiggle and Treasurenauts.

https://youtu.be/jUyVu9JAayY

Bayonetta [Switch] Review

See the source image Considering that this game came out in 2009 for the PlayStation 3 originally, I wasn’t going to make that distant leap to review what technically is a nine-year-old game. This game is older than most of the PSVG’s children, for goodness sakes. However, after being asked about it by PSVG’s Amanda and then snoring about halfway through my explanation, I felt that I had no choice but to release onto the masses about what it was like for me to experience Sega’s wonky adventure on the Switch platform.

Before I continue, however, I do want to warn that this article will contain adult themes. Children, shield your eyes and run to your parents. Adults, turn away from your work computers and wait til the dark of night. It’s not going to be vulgar (despite it being one of the most swear friendly games since Conker’s Bad Fur Day) but there will be some special snowflake-unfriendly topics that will discuss sexualization specifically. Please, if you’re not in the mood for that kind of talk- run, run far away, Simba, and never return to this review again.

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So for those in a similar boat as myself, Bayonetta is one of Sega’s cult classic games that went unappreciated by most but not all, captivating a fairly decent cliche of people who were lured by the charm of this game. As such, Sega tries to recapture this about once every four years to cash in on some free money, and now that the cycle continues on the Nintendo Switch I took the chance to see what the heck is going on.

Having seen Bayonetta only on Super Smash Brothers and mentioned only in closeted conversation, I had no idea what to expect. Some friend (who I don’t even remember the name of but clearly isn’t a friend any more thanks to this scenario) had mentioned that I would LOVE this game and that it was about empowering women by having a strong protagonist lady take the stage and mess up anyone she damn pleases. While this is loosely correct, I feel like the person had done what I did and simply stared at the game art and said “Wowee! This girl kicks butt!”

 

And then I played the game, and now I understand what Bayonetta is.

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Bayonetta is a masterful artwork that has so many gaping holes in the painting that it is nearly impossible to get the appreciation it should deserve if it actually spent more time developing the story than creating more detailed dancing scenes and porting the freaking game. When the game shines, it shines like the brightest flame of WTFness that I have seen in a very long time, but it is quickly bogged down by horrifying moments of lagging gameplay and story progression.

Let’s take it from the top and work our way down though, shall we? It starts off with a wild epic moment where you’re testing out the chaotic fighting nature of the game where our heroine is duking out with another character amongst a small plethora of angelic enemies, where your weaponry consist of guns, gun equipped heels, and both hair, suit, and shadow based demonic entities shaped in things like fists and high heel boots. You’ve seen the pictures, people; she’s fighting like a lethal acrobat where every blow is deliberate from her head to her toes, with hell at her fingertips and bullets coming any which way she pleases. Oh, there was some serious story plot of foreshadowing that I didn’t get to take in because of intense fighting and low narrator volume. Immediately afterward, we get a five-minute slapstick comedy scene introducing the initial characters meant to be the cool guy, the comic relief, and the superstar all in one swoop. All in contract with the forces of hell in some shape or form, they really love killing the game’s equivalent of angel bad-guys and trying to find out why Bayonetta has plot-convenient amnesia.

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The entire plot of the story? Figure out Bayonetta’s past (and if you ever heard of the Sega’s other amnesia driven game, Shadow the Hedgehog, you would cringe at the thought that this is the premise) as well as figure out why everyone wants her dead (or alive specifically). She doesn’t show much stress about her predicament, given she doesn’t show a negative emotion beyond annoyance for most of the game and she appears content murdering anything with a halo on it.

Seriously though, that is the plot. This goes on for hours with loosely tied characters saying “heh heh you’ll understand later in the game” and she responds with “lol ok I’m just going to travel the world and kill stuff until someone says otherwise” and it is infuriating. The first “Bayonetta” game and “developed storyline” cannot be contained truthfully in a single sentence without losing journalistic integrity and it was a major blow to my hopes for this game when people talked so great about it.

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What helps redeem it, however, is the combat and the different methods of execution given to me for both waves of enemies and bosses alike. Having to learn how to slow time to a crawl by perfect dodging a vicious attack and memorizing the right button to mash when pulling off a finisher on a particular enemy left me satisfied. While often sadistic in her methods of taking out angels, she is comical about the way she fancies each and every creature’s demise. One enemy can be finished by the wooden horse torture rig fitted with steel, spikes, and chains, whereas another can be kicked into an iron maiden. Hell, sometimes it feels like she’s toying with a boss during the actual fight before she does some overly intricate dance and using her suit/hair to create a demonic aberration to finish off the foe. Her method of dispatching the final boss was so hilarious that it made me forgive the past hour of annoying platforming and tedious dialogue.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that the combat is perfect, either. More often than not I was left dumbfounded because, after ten minutes of uninterrupted cutscene, I am suddenly tasked with a button prompt that I swiftly fail and instantly die. It’ll happen in the most random moments of discussion or battle that immediately ends the battle no matter how well I was doing and it was hair rippingly bad. What made things worse was the icon to show the button prompt would show the direction and button to push (for example, up and B) but the picture of the controller would show a different button on the controller to press (Up and X). Combined with the need to be precise on the timing, it would take me several times to figure what the heck I was doing wrong. The game is kind enough to tally your deaths up to five times on the game over screen, and the most often phrase heard in the game is some old granny seer shouting “The Shadow Remains Cast!” every time I select to continue. It sucked.

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Sometimes Platinum Games (which I would honestly give full credit to as the developers as they made the damn game) would decide that the combat was getting too tedious and they needed to buffer the gameplay length with... extra activities. Mostly arcade driving simulators, whether it be cars, motorbikes, or rockets. Just fifteen minute long drives of the same track of the level where your goal is to not die and shoot the same enemies over and over again. My personal least favorite, however, is Angel Attack. Oh man, I love how just hearing that title makes me grit my teeth. Who would have thought a ten-second game you’re forced to play after every single level could be so annoying? Being told to shoot at targets for prizes that are crap, for over a dozen times, made me blow all my shots in a second or quit the game so I can get on with my life.

I think there are only about five memorable songs in this whole game, but they’re placed at the most opportune times and I quickly dismiss the repetition and enjoy the atmosphere it creates.

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Lastly, I wanted to express concern about Bayonetta’s taste in… style. As someone who might want to remain anonymous has told me, this game is ‘a Japanese boy’s wet dream’. Our woman Bayo wears a skin-tight suit that often evaporates to become the super demon thing, leaving her as exposed as the Mature rating can allow. She portrays her attacks in cutscenes often by crop shots of her pubic region or bosom colliding with an enemy before she gratifies herself while defeating foes. She does things to a strawberry flavored sucker that would make your local church pastor drop his jaw. She does not give two craps how sexual she acts during her time in the game and amazingly enough, only one person seems to act perverted towards her. Perhaps due to the lack of characters, the developers can create a separate, perfect reality where what she does is perfectly acceptable and it is shameful of me to express distaste. However, this game is not a real alternative world and I’ll be damned if a Japanese video game company, under the jurisdiction of the same publisher that made Yakuza no less, can convince me that they made a next level empowered feminist and I should ignore that she is mentally pleasure humping three-quarters of the bad guys in this game.

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Unfortunately, if I kept writing about my love-hate relationship with Bayonetta it would be on course for a book with more detail than the whole game’s plot, and so I’m going to call it here with another summary of some sort. Did I like the game? Definitely, but I felt I spent more time playing in hopes of finding something fun than actually taking in the game itself. Beating it felt like a sigh of relief rather than a triumphant victory screech, but I respect that the game offers wonderful entertainment when it wants to. As I have just started Bayonetta 2, I sincerely hope they improve on how they deliver the entirety of the game to us (again, considering it came out years ago on the Wii U) and I hope to one day understand why people love this game.

 

Also, I technically got this for free with Bayonetta 2 so my opinions are freely based on this. If I had paid sixty dollars for a port of this, I would be just a taaaaaaad more aggressive. Just a tad.

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Nightmare Boy [Switch] Review

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Looks like the next S2S title for PSVG to take a look at is The Vanir’s Project’s latest work, Nightmare Boy. As per the usual, Nightmare Boy has been out for a while on the PC platform, giving the developers a healthy chance to fix bugs and smoothly port over to the Nintendo console.

Also per the usual, it’s one of those games I never heard of thanks to Valve’s horrifying game representation system and with that frame of mind, I can assume that being a single player platformer, the game is at risk of not being well known by the masses. I am here to fix that, for better or worse. Check it out!

So, the game starts with some well put music and hand-drawn animation as Billy, our game’s protagonist is reading some obscured book when his own pillow, teeth jutting out from the side, turns into some nightmarish demon and decides that our boy is the perfect candidate for a wild scheme in some fantasy world called Donoruk. Some nasty funk happened with the king and his now-dead son, who strikes a remarkable resemblance to the newly transformed Billy. Having not  a darn clue as to why he’s in the new world and what he needs to do, Billy is forced to traverse a Metroidvania-esque realm riddled with monsters, trippy bosses, and an assortment of interesting character who are more than happy to assist- and hinder- Billy’s progress to get back home.Once I’m left to my own device to battle through the B-cast of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, I immediately realized that I didn’t know the controls and there wasn’t any tutorial, although to be fair the inputs are simple enough, if not awkwardly positioned on the joycons. I did not find any way to reconfigure them, unfortunately, forcing me to deal with how to jump and attack.

 

Playing it mostly in handheld mode, I also noticed that it suffered the same quality as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in that it began to chug and drop frame rates more often than anyone would prefer. The music is ambient and fluid as you ramble about, and the dialogue is decent with occasional moments of ingenuity. I was kind of upset with the relationship with Death though, as it’s a lowkey save station with little to no dialogue. The dude is Death. Give him some personality, not some secretary job with the same twelve words to say every time he charges me (increasingly) to save your progress. That being said, it did feel like the characters important to the plot were shallow at best, and one-noted at worst, and left the dialogue desperately needing more depth in the beginning. That’s a personal squabble, however, and if you feel a deeper plot is not as important as the gameplay in a Metroidvania, then more power to you; you might like this game after all.

 

All in all, it’s your standard game with collectibles, difficult maneuvering, and some above average boss battles. It didn’t hype me into wanting to play extensively, but I can see where this will appeal to certain groups of players. For ten bucks on the eShop, this is a decent game to try out if you have some gift cards laying around and don’t know what to blow it on. Don’t expect greatness, but if you can settle with it being an indie title, you’ll have a good time.

Batman: The Telltale Series [Switch] Review

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.92" background_layout="light"] Welcome back to the gaming world, people of 2018! Flushed with eShop money and no idea what to spend it on, I decide to make the jump into Telltale Games’ work, having never seen or played one before. With their slow introductory on the Switch, I perused all of the two titles I could find; Minecraft and Batman. Having told myself I was a fan of Batman for many years (often disheartedly as I leave movie theatres), I decide to let this be the very first TTG game. I didn’t know what to expect given that the only thing I knew was “there was going to be some tough choices to make”. Little did I know that choices and split decisions were the cruces of the game, and with it being dished on Bruce Wayne’s plate, left me begging for season two.

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For those who are in the same boat as me, the season one that I played introduces many of the iconic Batman character (sans Robin) you can imagine, often with a new spin or re-imagining of the character. The Danny Devito-esque villain, the Penguin, has been etched in my mind thanks to Tim Burton, yet what I got instead was surprising and left me in loops of trying to reestablish what I remember characters as. Harvey Dent, who many will know as the eventual Two-Face, makes a strong left turn on how he’s handled in both his relationship with Bruce Wayne and with the world. I suppose writing a whole paragraph on why I was shocked to re-organize my thoughts on the Batman world as told by Telltale is a bit silly, but it’s a blessed forewarning; don’t expect the same old story.

Though yes, the pearls do break and hit the floor at some point in this game.

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The controls of the game vary from scene to scene, though what you can do is tied thematically to the situation of the scene. Combat scenes clear you of moving but instead preps you to be ready for a fast-paced button prompt to dodge a punch or send a knee into a face. Conversations focus almost entirely on dialog choices, running down a ladder of decisions that will affect people’s friendship with you or how people begin to look at Batman. Investigations leave you to rummage the area and investigate clue pieces, occasionally linking evidence area to form a bigger picture of the nightmares that unfolded there. By design, it felt like every choice I made had an impact on the game, even if there are times it didn’t matter and it was smoke and mirrors.

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Spread across five episodes, each part usually introduces a new titular character or plot point, giving a fresh slap of paint to a building art piece. In addition, there’s usually a game-changing decision to make that decides the fate of the chapter’s end. I had to decide between taking on two separate villains in different parts of town, both of which were trying to ruin you at the same time. Stop one saves me in some fashion, while the other devastates your future. It was almost traumatizing to pick because I knew I was screwed either way and I had to calculate which was least damaging. I had to pick between saving two people very important to me. I regret my pick, but I know I would regret it if I picked the other person, too

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There are some hardships that come with this game, with one, in particular, that would dissuade me personally from buying the game for the Switch in the first place. Namely, I was stricken with memory save issues that were so bad that if I chose to leave after a checkpoint anywhere in an episode, even if the icon clearly showed it saved the game for me, I would have to start the entire chapter over. We’re talking up to an hour and a half of lost game time, folks. Even after beating the episode it would save my choices but then claim that I never played the episode and prompt me to do so. Essentially I was forced to play in 1.5-hour chunks or risk losing a ton of progress and choices I made. That aside, there are a lot of jenky scene transitions of models and foliage loading in a bit too late to escape my eagle eyes, leaving me annoyed that they miscalculated the load time that the Switch takes compared to the console or PC counterparts.

The music was decent and the voice acting,  and although occasionally corny (I’m looking at you, Selina Kyles), Telltale did an amazing job with the voice acting on everything. I can only imagine how much work is put into the voice work, considering the one playthrough I only reflected one of the four choices of dialogue that was presented to me, making me curious to retry and play the scenario differently. With credits in tow for the last time, however, I’m ready to let this game sit for a bit until I give it another go.

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Review: The Coma Recut on Nintendo Switch

See the source image You know - Back when we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do, we had this little thing on YouTube called 'Reviews Done Quick' - At its best it was a 60-90 second take on a video game aimed at helping people know what they needed to know without wasting their time. At its worst - It was selfish excuse to not write 18 paragraphs describing our reactions and impressions to a video game :)

The jokes on us, it took way longer to edit those videos than writing 18 paragraphs lol. But due to my lack of time this holiday season, I thought you know what really need the "RDQ" treatment? Our ACTUAL written reviews. So with that intro, please let me provide to you my "Review Done Quick" attempt using one of my favorite indie releases on Nintendo Switch - The Coma Recut.

What Do You Need To Know?

The Coma Recut is a horror-adventure game that has just arrived on Switch but has been available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms since September. ACTUALLY the game actually released back in 2015 on Mac/Windows as The Coma: Cutting Class but has been updated quite a bit to make up today's console version.

In a lot of ways its not very different from an Oxenfree in design - You explore environments in a 2D space that visually, is wonderfully created  in the style of a comic strip. The game looks great, both in portable and on the dock on that Nintendo Switch of yours.

While you'll see the word 'survival' if you look this game up, I can't back up that claim. Resources are plentiful as is money AND the enemies are easy enough to run away from / avoid. That said - The enemies do their job of adding to the tension, blocking areas you shouldn't be in, etc.

There's quite a bit of back tracking to find new clues, items, people / dialog that when found in the right pattern will open up new corridors or access to other areas to advance your story. That's pretty much the gameplay - Very much like a TellTale game, walk around, click on the objects read and react. The dialogue and stories you find though more than make up for the effort and it's ultimately a sit down once or twice and beat game, so if you're weekends free, there's a lot to find here.

My only real con is that the game didn't do as much as I would have liked developing the secondary characters. This narrative, especially with it's great writing, could have done so much to invest more in the narrative but I do suppose the original design was to be a shorter-ish game so it's understandable - I JUST WANTED MORE MEATY DIAGLOG!

Bottom Line - What I really want to say is if you were ever a fan of Clock Tower on PS2 or even Resident Evil Nemesis, I think you would enjoy playing The Coma Recut on Switch, PC, PS4 or XB1. The tension of being hunted while uncovering this mysterious high school is compelling and the slight Persona vibes in style and setting are a treat. I do think the Switch price of entry ($20) might be a bit on the high side given that the game is available for cheaper elsewhere and the the overall amount of game is easily less than 7-8 hours (many have done the campaign in less than 5).

Review: Splasher [Switch Edition]

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.71" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] Welcome back, ladies and germs! Being disgustingly sick all week has crippled my throat and lungs, leaving me high and dry on streaming and podcasting. As it turns out, however, my lucrative mind and fingers still function as intended and brings us to yet another TAKEALOOKSEE! With Jason giving us the deep cuts back in its PC release in February, indie developer Splashteam’s Splasher takes to the field on Switch consoles this time around!

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So, first impressions tossed right into the mix here, I got a chilling Sonic vibe from Splasher- and as I have said obnoxiously so, I have barely touched any Sonic games. I don’t know how to explain it; maybe this is what I picture a decent Sonic game to be like? To call it a Sega classic ripoff would be doing it injustice, however; this game is creative in getting your nameless, purple wigged in-need-of-a-haircut hero in getting from point A to B, with half a baker’s dozen (don’t think too hard on that) different side ventures to collect along each level.

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We’re talking about a goop shooting fanatic flying along a slime factory run by the “evil” Docteur who, since no one dares put a subtitle in this game and rather do animated comics, apparently is taking janitors like our hero and injecting them with happy juice and morphing them into blobs. Why is he doing this? I would be among the majority to think it’s for vicious, Geneva-convention banned human experimentation. However, this entire game is littered with these massive balls of spiky goop; am I to believe that the improperly spelled Docteur, whose Ph.D. is anyone’s guess beyond factory architecture, is doing the same experiment over and over with exact results?

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The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

-Someone said Albert Einstein but who the hell knows nowadays

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Let’s back it up a bit before I criticize our cigar wielding, hazmat-suited villain even further over here.

So our fella, who was once a minimum wage clean crew member, catches wind that Docteur is paying them crap wages.  Also, instead of offering a 401k retirement fund, he gives them a premature and somewhat painful looking death. Going rogue (because who just quits their job nowadays), the player is tasked with surveying through the factory and saving as many of their coworkers as they can. HR is apparently a bunch of butthole robots (I’m not crazy, this screams Sonic to me) that wants nothing more than to murder you. Talk about bad press if this gets out.

So based off the pretty little picture I painted for you, you imagine a jumping champion running around a green oozing fortress of twisting gears, blobs of death, and murder machines that make Sony’s customer support like a dream, right? Stop right there, my friends, because there’s a catch where the game’s namesake comes in. Behold, you have the power of Pure Michigan Water™ to start off with, slapping foes and ooze alike to their impending doom! Also, a poop ton of other slimes you can eventually splash anywhere you go. Starting off with the hydration station pack (I made that name up, credit goes to me and me alone), you will encounter machines just spitting away red and honey-colored slime onto the walls of this 2D platform, each offering a wild casting effect on the movement of your character.

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They start off with Knuckles colored-red goop, slowing standard movement on the floor but granting wall climbing and ceiling movement. Another, a highlight yellow slime this time, offers you a ridiculously high jump. So, if I were to best summarize how this game feels, I would summarize it as a Mega Man shooter with Sonic motions of flying around, wrapped in the color scheme of Splatoon. Collecting your coworkers as they spell out “SPLASH!” on your screen Donkey Kong Country style is also an invigorating sight without needing to do tedious tricks. It’s also a bit satisfying when you accidentally murder your co-worker as they plummet into a saw you were supposed to jump over. Whoops.

It’s fifteen American buckaroos over on the eShop. It’s mindless fun that offers platforming challenges that forces you to go back into thinking- usually after a horrifying death as I learned. The platforming paint/goo/slime/whatever it is can be frustrating as, for example, the bouncing material trajects whatever direction you may be moving (even if you’re leaning) and it launches you into the wilds, whether you wanted to go to your death or not. The music is a catchy techno theme, keeping you in tempo as you progress the vivaciously thrown platforms (some pop up last second just to keep you anxious). I also regret the lack of the “hold your ground and fire”, forcing you to move in the direction you’re shooting and often leaving you to choose between running from an enemy or risk falling off a platform.

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It’s very clear that the developers wanted this to be a fast-paced and smooth transitioning game, especially considering there’s a speedrun mechanic built into it. In fact, I would go to say that this game lives and dies behind the idea that it needs to be done as fast as theoretically possible, leaving the slow duff platformers like me to feel rushed when I just want to sit back and shoot something that resembles the past terrors of Human Resources.

Overall, it’s a good PC-to-Switch release that will have a welcoming audience by their side. It offers a decent challenge, amazing graphics, and contemporary methods of progression that will leave a positive taste in your slime filled mouth. I’m pretty sure it’s toxic, though, so don’t swallow it.

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Spoilers Gone Wild: When The Iron Is Struck Too Early

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.71" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] Imagine a younger me, playing a fine afternoon of summer as days tick down towards my Junior year of high school in the year of our Nayru, 2007. What was I doing, you may ask? Playing Runescape, as any basement dweller hiding from the sun would. However, it was after an exhaustive six hours of reading a most fantastic book. Not just any book, though; no, this was the finale of the Harry Potter series, Deathly Hallows. Having worked over halfway into the book, my mind was fried by magical literature, and so I took my overworked soul into some mini-games on Jagex’s MMO, namely Castle Wars. A relatively simple venture, I was minding my own business and freezing some fool who took our flag, and in came the worst villain I have seen in Runescape history. To this day, I shall remember Buttholio69’s dark words as he ran around the field, shouting to anyone who came too close. (I don’t actually remember the dude’s name, so Buttholio69 is assumed here, as his gender for some reason).

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“Buttholio69: Glow2:flash2: HARRY POTTER DIES, DOBBY DIES, VOLDEMORT DIES, HARRY MARRIES GINNY, FRED DIES, THERE’S OWLS AND DRAGONS, NAGINI DIES, ETC. ETC”

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This foul demon Buttholio69, who I can only imagine to this day has a decent office job and sits on writing articles about movies that haven’t come out yet, succeeded in doing what he wanted; he spoiled me on the book I took a break from. Having waited months, years even, I innocently made the horrid mistake of going to a public interface without finishing one my favorite books of my high school days. It might have been the best book ever, but unfortunately the shock value Joanne Rowling had in store for me was snatched away, leaving a bitter aftertaste in the wake of finer plot points.

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Of course, we all have had that moment happen to us. Game of Throne fans have been black lighting their Facebook accounts and shutting down their Twitter use with every season. It certainly hasn’t done us much good when a single person has just enough control of contacting us, indirectly or no, to say the wrong words at the wrong time. All it tastes is one picture, one tweet, one excited post of someone who watched it the second it comes out and wants the world to know of their glorious accomplishment. Are those people monsters, though?

No, not really, but you bet your Star Wars VHS collection that for the first few seconds you want to make a voodoo doll for them. 

It still throttles my simple mind that people think it’s a valid strategy to “be the first” at the cost of ruining other’s first impressions. What good do the extra clicks give when ultimately your fan base gets burnt by your work? By long-term standards, it’s almost website suicide, depending on what the dark words happen to be about. Young studs with the power of knowledge seem to think that they’ll be battered with praises on YouTube when they blast people’s recommended videos with “GAME THAT CAME OUT 24 HOURS AGO AND ALL THE BOSSES AND CUTSCENES”, slathering their preview picture with more spoilers than a Honda Civic.

Hell, I bet in the mid-90s when Titanic came out that if there was a widespread internet, people would be screaming from the highest wifi towers, "OMG DID YOU SEE THE SHIP SINK??".

Oh, and heads up:

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Should I get over all of it? Probably. It’s futile to think that secrets people of the world can access will stay secret from you for long. The age of the internet has gifted and cursed us with the fastest form of information spread, and to be angry that the few of the millions are freaking attention seeking idiots is a fool’s game. On the flip side, does that mean I shouldn’t let myself be excited over the mystery of the story? That’s almost as cruel, thinking about it. I suppose the only advice I can offer is to constrict your eyes when you treasure those moments, and do your best to flame someone positively, like compliment their dumb face that they have plastered next to their tweet about how such and such events that happen in the currently unreleased Mario Odyssey, which comes out this October 27th.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my whining butt back to the corner and temporarily gouge my eyes out so I don’t have to read about Bowser and Mario’s pepperoni nipples and why they represent the upcoming Nintendocalypse. I don’t even know what that means.

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Thimbleweed Park Review (Nintendo Switch)

Thimbleweed Park is a fantastically odd nod to retro adventure games of old, and I loved EVERY SECOND of my strange journey. But before I get into it, lets go over the basic info you should know: Thimbleweed Park is a point and click adventure game developed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, the game was revealed back in 2014 along with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $375,000, and was released in March 2017.

The game is a spiritual successor to Gilbert and Winnick’s previous games Maniac Mansion (1987) and The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and is designed to be similar to graphic adventure games in that time period, both visually and gameplay-wise.

The story (No Spoilers) is as follows: FBI Agents Ray and Reyes arrive at the town of Thimbleweed Park to investigate a murder. Their investigation leads them to several persons of interest: Chuck, the recently deceased owner of the PillowTronics robotics company; Ransome the Clown, cursed to wear his makeup forever after going too far in his insulting performances; Delores, computer programmer and niece of Chuck; and Delores's downtrodden father Franklin.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I was ecstatic to play this game for review for the site. I was a big fan of both Maniac Mansion and Secret of Monkey Island back in the day. The way these games made you have to think is far from heard from nowadays so I applaud the developers for keeping that theme in tact. If you don’t want to think then this game is NOT for you, this game doesn’t pull any punches and does not hold your hand through the process. There is a tip line available to help you for use through a cell phone one of the playable characters have. Then for the hardcore players like myself, there is a collectible item in specks of dust, that is yep you guessed it a single grey pixel hidden in various places throughout the game (I  found 75 of them though) that even if you collect them all you get nothing more than achievements (which Nintendo Switch doesn’t have anyway LOL).

The characters in this game, I was surprised to discover were all fully voice-acted, not something I was suspecting but definitely helps give the town more life and lends well to the quirky-ness of many of the residents. The town of Thimbleweed Park is very realized in the game and is very “Alive” despite most of the stores being closed and boarded up. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to spoil anything for this game for those interested and familiar with these types of games is does not disappoint.

The graphics are spot on for what they wanted to accomplish with this game, retro to an exact science (but without being ugly or difficult to play). The music is atmospheric and fits well without feeling repetitive or bland, which is tough to do with a narrative style game play. Controls work perfectly and I didn't have a single technical issue throughout the entire game, which lets be honest nowadays is not a very easy thing to come across.

As I mentioned before the story is what MAKES this game, it's engaging, hilarious, and is constantly challenging you as the player. Now this style of game isn't for everyone sure, but if you played the old lucas arts games or Maniac Mansion this is a MUST PLAY. If you didn't grow up with those games but enjoyed experiences like What Remains of Edith Finch, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and other story driven games, and want to be challenged more with them, then I recommend giving this a shot. Now, I'm known to be the guy on staff who likes the quirky games, and I know I'm going to get some flack for this next statement but for me it rings true.

"As of today in October my candidates for Game of The Year Contenders are Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Destiny 2, and Thimbleweed Park" - Kevin Austin (Playsomevideogames.com)

Mr. Shifty Review - Switch

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Mr. Shifty is a game with a lot of potential that, at launch at least, is rendered nearly unplayable by performance issues on the Nintendo Switch. In a game that is fully reliant on having quick reflexes, and where one errant move can erase minutes of progress, these issues are unacceptable.

During my playthrough, I died tens of times due to lag. The game slows to a stop when a weapon breaks; or when things explode; or when too many enemies are on screen. Mr. Shifty also crashed on me twice near the end of particularly difficult levels, causing much frustration as I had to trek through the levels again.

I didn’t play a single level that didn’t have some level of frame dropping, out of the 18 levels. On the craziest levels, I died nearly 50 times — not entirely due to lag, but at least partly.

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And, yet: I pushed through. Mr. Shifty has a great gameplay loop, with a sort of remix on the excellent gameplay found in Hotline Miami.

In Mr. Shifty, the titular character is infiltrating a skyscraper with the goal of stealing Mega Plutonium from the building so that the evil mastermind on the top floor can’t use it for some nefarious plot to take over the world. Or something.

Mr. Shifty has a special power to warp around the level. With a simple button press, you can zip around through walls, doors or behind enemies. Shifty has a limited number of shifts that he can make at a time, with a lengthy reset if you use too many at once.

While enemies have guns ranging from pistols to machine guns, shotguns and dual-wielding pistols, Shifty can only use his fists and other melee-centric items he might find, in addition to a few weapons he can through. Other enemies include big brawlers and guys with bombs. Each level presents a different puzzle to get to the end. While setting a plan is important, improvisation is even more important, as your initial plan is likely to go awry.

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This improvisation is the key as to what I liked about Mr. Shifty, and why I couldn’t put the game down until I beat it, despite the performance issues. Punching enemies is relentlessly satisfying, and the bullet-time effect that comes into play after many successful attacks makes you feel like you’re Neo in The Matrix.

The story presented in Mr. Shifty is scant and forgettable. You’re a special agent of some sort trying to stop Generic Bad Guy from using Generic Bomb Matter Thing to take over the world. After beating the game, there is little incentive to revisit the levels, unless you want to beat them faster or in fewer deaths. However, as there is no online leaderboard or achievement system, the game doesn’t provide external motivation to replay it.

Finally, the last showdown with the boss is unsatisfying and anticlimactic. The final level leading up to it is immensely difficult, and I couldn’t help but feel let down by the final “fight.”

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As I said up top, Mr. Shifty is a really good game with solid mechanics and a lot of challenge. It’s got a lot of style, and the 3-to-5-hour playtime is plenty for the price point, even without much incentive to revisit it.

The biggest problem for the game is the current technical issues on the Switch. It’s bad enough that I think the game should not have been released until the issues were ironed out. The developer has stated that it is working on fixing the issues, but as of this review, the game is just in too rough a shape to recommend.

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Mr. Shifty was purchased and reviewed by the author on a Nintendo Switch console. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Review: Graceful Explosion Machine (Nintendo Switch)

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" admin_label="section" transparent_background="off" allow_player_pause="off" inner_shadow="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" padding_mobile="off" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" make_equal="off" use_custom_gutter="off" fullwidth="off" specialty="off" disabled="off"][et_pb_row admin_label="row" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" use_custom_gutter="off" gutter_width="2" padding_mobile="off" allow_player_pause="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" make_equal="off" column_padding_mobile="on" parallax_1="off" parallax_method_1="on" parallax_2="off" parallax_method_2="on" parallax_3="off" parallax_method_3="on" parallax_4="off" parallax_method_4="on" disabled="off"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_style="solid" disabled="off"] Graceful Explosion Machine is great. That's all you really need to know. If you want to read all the reasons why I think it's great I'll gladly appreciate that, but I don't want you miss the core point of this review. Graceful Explosion Machine is a must-have for all Nintendo Switch owners.

Graceful Explosion Machine is a colorful, button mashing shmup (shoot-em up) currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $13.99.  I personally have always been a massive fan of the shoot-em up style of games whether it be more action styled twin-stick shooters or more arcady button mashing classic shooters, I have always enjoyed a good chaotic run and gun. Honestly, whether it's Super Time Force, Geometry Wars, Dead Nation, Helldivers, Super Stardust, Nano Assault, Hyperlight EX, Gradius, or the still incredible as it was on day one... Resogun, every good video game system needs a good shmup and Graceful Explosion Machine doesn't disappoint.

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Presentation

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Graceful Explosion Machine presents itself very well. It's a simple design, full of minimalistic shapes and textures with smooth lines and bold outlines. The simplistic approach does give way to an impressive color palette and some wonderful 70's "groovy" shadows. The use of simple shapes with multiple layers of colors that contrast with one-another is a perfect recipe for the chaotic gameplay that ensues. In my experiences with other similar games, especially those with a darker color scheme,  it can be difficult to keep up with you character's position in the mess unraveling on screen. I never experienced losing my position on during the most intense battles with Graceful Explosion Machine, something that I definitely attribute to the brightly colored, high contrasting art style.

The soundtrack plays in the backround with Graceful Explosion Machine, it doesn't deter the experience at all but it also doesn't leave a lasting impression. The sound effects from blasters, missiles and explosions are the highlight of the sound design as they provide both great feedback and satisfaction to the player. Speaking of feedback, Graceful Explosion Machine is the first Nintendo Switch game not named 1-2 Switch that supports HD Rumble. Joycons (or pro controller) vibrates differently depending on what weapon is being used and what enemy you're destroying and the entire contoller vibrates somewhat violently when you run out of power. It never feels gimmicky and fits right in with how it should feel - That is to say you'll never notice it enough and it adds to the immersion of the gameplay.

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Gameplay

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Any good shooter comes down to mechanics & gameplay. Doesn't matter how pretty it looks, the most simple shooter can be a blast if the gameplay hook is addictive and Graceful Explosion Machine lives up to even lofty expectations. Let's begin with weapons which you control the following by using the four right face buttons - A blaster (B), missiles (X), a 360 laser sword (Y), and a sniper beam cannon (A). Each of these attacks are limited by a power guage and must be managed during your firefights. Each weapon provides a different capability - the trusty blaster is your go to get it done weapon, the sword attack provides some backup when enemies invade your personal space, missiles provide some much needed fire power at the cost of extra power expeneded and the beam cannon provides a strong ranged attack. And YES, as you're probably already guessing, there are plenty of different types of enemies that each require to use a different attack to take them out most efficiently. The result is a good old chaotic button-mashing anxiety inducing fun experience.

What would a shmup be without score chasing?! Well as you should expect Graceful Explosion Machine comes packing that too. Not only do you accurrate and efficient attacks chain together to increase your score and push you up the online leaderboards, but each of the over 30 stages also grades you throughout the campaign based on your performance. I can't even begin to explain the amount of levels I replayed because I wasn't satisfied with my D+ or C letter grade. It's a good enough recipe to make me keep pressing the 'play again' button when I failed and made for all around addictive gameplay loop; Graceful Explosion Machine is definitely a great "play while you watch TV" option.

My only fault with the gameplay is that I wish you didn't have to change your direction by pressing the ZL button. I can understand that adding the additional button command aids the chaotic and skillful gameplay, but even after 10 hours with the game I still find myself messing it up as it just doesn't feel intuitive. I think it would be greatly enchanced if your direction was simply tied to which way you pressed the left thumbstick, a la a Resogun style of movement.

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Value

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Honestly the best thing Graceful Explosion Machine has going for it is a) it's only $13 and b) the limited Nintendo Switch library. Even with that said, its a pretty easy sell. Graceful Explosion Machine sounds good, plays even better than it sounds, and costs one-fifth what most games on Nintendo Switch costs. There's over 30+ levels to complete on your first play through, beating each world unlocks a challenge menu, and even then there's a ton of replay value considering the leader boards and grades to achieve. From a value perspective the only thing I can think of that's missing is a coop / multiplayer mode but at only $13 even that feels greedy. This is honestly one game I'm happy is a timed exclusive as players on all consoles should be able to enjoy this great indie title.

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Conclusion

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A great video game that delivers on style and gameplay, has broad appeal, and it's available at a great price - What more do you want? These types of games are perfect for portable, on the go play sessions and it looks wonderful on the big screen TV as well. If you have a Nintendo Switch, buy this game. If you don’t have a Switch, put it on your wishlist for when it arrives on a console near you.

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Graceful Explosion Machine was purchased and reviewed by the author on a Nintendo Switch console. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Specter of Torment Review - Switch

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] A simple, touching and effective story surprising strength of the original Shovel Knight campaign’s story. The Specter of Torment addition continues that tradition and builds on the lore of the universe by telling the ultimately tragic story of Specter Knight’s ascension (or descension?) to his status in the Order of No Quarter.

The new campaign comes with the overall package, now rechristened as the Treasure Trove, or you can purchase it separately. It comes with the base game if you already own it, or you can purchase it ala carte. The entire package is worth purchasing -- even on Switch if you own it elsewhere -- and Specter of Torment also stands on its own.

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If you've played Shovel Knight, you know what to expect graphically. Specter of Torment is a gorgeous 8-bit game. The levels follow the same themes as the original game, but are adjusted to take advantage of Specter Knight’s move set.

Specter’s move set is a little faster than the Blue Burrower, which takes some getting used to. While in the air, you can slash through certain obstacles to reach higher areas, or into enemies to cause damage.

Many boss fights go down to the wire, with Specter Knight’s slashing move being the difference between success and failure.

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The structure of the game is more akin to a Mega Man game, where you can choose to go to any level in any order. The reward for each level is different based on difficulty.

The story is relatively straightforward, as you are attempting to recruit each of the other knights to serve The Enchantress. After every couple levels, there will be a separate flashback level that tells the story of how Specter Knight came to be in the service of the Enchantress.

The story is touching and sad, and may just be the highlight of the game. That's saying something as the gameplay is solid and matches up well with the original campaign.

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Shovel Knight is a must play game, and is one of my favorite games of this generation. With Specter of Torment, I have had a wonderful excuse to revisit a game that I love. The series’ earlier expansion, Plague of Shadows, left me feeling indifferent. Specter of Torment is a thrilling return to form that leaves me more excited for the next chapter in the Shovel Knight saga.

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Specter Knight was purchased by the reviewer on the Nintendo Switch. View this page to learn more about our review policies and scoring descriptions.

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