The Banner Saga Review

The Banner Saga is made by 3 guys that are calling themselves Stoic games and is a game that has come out of the whole fiasco brought about by the popularization of kickstarter. No longer must you sell your soul to an evil publisher to get your game funded, instead  you can go directly to your fans. I have mixed reactions about kickstarter, and that’s coming from someone that has backed quite a few of them. But enough of the background, this game was actually released so it is, at least to some extent, a sign that kickstarter can help bring about smaller indie games that wouldn’t normally be able to get their foot in the door.

The game is a story driven adventure that you experience through cutscenes in which you speak to party members or other individuals, through battles played out in a strategy Rpg sections, and through supply management movement sections.

The word cutscenes may be a bit of a stretch, as not much movement happens during them, but it can be forgiven when they look like this.

Conversation

Many of the choices you have to make during these sections affect what you do and all of these decisions have consequences, whether these are good or bad , you must live with the consequences. The story switches from multiple points of views, showing you the two races, both the Varl who are giant viking creatures with horns, and plain ol’ humans that inhabit the world before finally their two worlds collide. All in all, the story is presented well, the decisions you make feel important and have weight, and the cutscenes are beautifully illustrated. The only problem I have with this portion of the game is that more often than not the consequences of a decision feel abundantly unclear. Some choices have clear best options while not always clearly being the right choice. To counter this however often times in reality you don’t know the full consequences of your actions until after you make them.

Next is movement and supply management.  Have you ever played the Oregon Trail? You move your caravan from one place to another, making decisions as you go and making sure there is food and supplies to go around. That’s the gist of it. If you have low morale your characters in battle will have less willpower, which will be talked about next. Not much else to say except that it can get pretty harrowing when you are running out of supplies and don’t know how many days before you are getting more. You might even make decisions you wouldn’t normally make under these stressful situations.

Movement

Now on to the combat. These types of games are really much more enjoyable then they should be. You move about on a grid based area and command your party members to and fro telling them who to attack and how to attack. Every character has a special attack and normal attacks. On top of that every unit, both you and the enemy, has a defense stat and strength stat. What is interesting to note is that your strength stat is the same as your health, so as you lose health you also start to deal out less damage.  It looks a little bit like this…

combat

On top of the above mentioned stats each character also has a certain amount of will power. With this willpower one of your characters can either move a little bit father than they normally would be able to or hit a little harder than they normally would. You start every battle with each unit having a couple of willpower, and then every time you kill an enemy you get one willpower that can be divvied to any character you chose. Like typical Rpg fare you level up your characters, allocate points, and get stronger. Unlike most Rpg’s however instead of having multiple pieces of gear to upgrade and switch out, each character can only hold 1 item that will buff them in certain ways. I’m still not sure how I felt about this decision. On one hand it took from me customization that I was accustomed to, but on the other I didn’t really feel like I was missing too much. Lastly, in order to actually level up and raise your stats it is based on the amount of enemies that a character has killed which can be inconvenient if you end up having a character that often deals damage but never closes the deal. On top of that you need to spend renown points in order to progress your level and raise the stats. Renown points work as your money. You use it to purchase supplies, to purchase items you equip to your characters and to level. Which gives you a nice trade off between what exactly you should spend your currency on. This system works relatively well, the only problem I have with the leveling is that for some reason if you have enough kills with a character to level it up, but don’t actually level them up you can’t change your item. This can put you in a situation where you might not have enough renown points to level, but want to switch items and can’t. As far as I can tell this must be a glitch. Oh well.

 

In the end the game left me wanting more. Usually for this type of game I would normally expect to play 25 to 30 to 40 hours, but unfortunately I plowed through the game in about 12 hours.However, this game gets a break on length due to both the price at which it was purchased, and the fact that was there was so well done. My biggest complaint with the game is that it was too short. Luckily this is only the first in a trilogy of games set to be released so hopefully Stoic games delivers their promise for this one.

My final verdict on The Banner Saga is a 9/10

The end

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Broforce: Freedom Simulator

This game plays like a pixelated Expendables movie. Nonstop action, explosion and bullets. Broforce is a pixel graphic action game with a humongous cast of characters. The basis of the game is that you are a badass bro on the way to liberate (or completely demolish) Vietnam. The characters I the game are parodies off classic action heroes like Rambo, Neo and Conan. Throughout the game you quickly jump back and forth while the entire world burns and explodes around you. I must say it is pretty simple but a whole lot of fun.

It's gonna shoot me isn't it?

Helicopter Fun

The game is still in Alpha / Early Access on steam, but it is definitely full of quality content already. The producers are updating the game slowly but steadily (nice to see progress on an Early Access game). The game has sever local co-op game modes that are a bunch of fun, but the multiplayer (as of now) only allows the arcade campaign to be played. I am sure this will be improved in an upcoming update.

It belongs in a museum!

RUN!

Hopefully there is no glass

Boom

I can't even find my character right now...

More BOOM

 
Overall this game feels good. The iconic character parodies, the exploding map, and the sheer ridiculousness makes this game a solid choice for your next couch co-op play session.

 RATING: B+
(I want more, Still in Alpha, More fun than it should be)

Cheers,

Hara

A Renewed Vow

I think I have a problem… There I said it.

With the current state of PC gaming, owning more games than should be socially acceptable is a breeze. My steam list is full of titles that I bought for less than five dollars. I mean Bioshock is in a BUNDLE?! Who cares if I own it on another platform already, IT IS SO CHEAP. This Pokémon “got to have them all” mentality has led to a new kind of problem for me.

When I was young, getting a new game was a rare occurrence. A new game for the N64 would last me at least a month of play time, in most cases even longer (damn water temple). But, nowadays, I rarely have a week before some new game goes on sale and I lose interest in my old game. My steams list is plagued by half-finished and never played games. And I am ashamed. Oh, the shame. Thought of changing my name, but oh well Hakuna Matata.

Disney jokes aside, I have come up with a mid-year resolution. I am going to embark on an epic journey to beat every single game I own. And if that wasn’t enough, I will be writing regularly with my progress, my play and my reviews.

 

I am definitely excited and I hope you guys enjoy it.

Cheers,

Hara

Skyrim Journal: 1

Part of the fun of huge open world RPG’s like Skyrim is the ability to create a person with his ( or her) own identity and personality. Roleplaying, as its known, adds an extra layer of fun for a lot of people, including myself. I am not as extreme as some of you out there, looking at you guy who collected every caliper in Oblivion, but I like to give my character a personality and a personal naritive. Normally these sotrieas stay tucked away in the solitude of my mind as I play through these games. Today, and through out this series, I am going to give you a little insight to this scary place.

The story follows my newest character Mersadie, a Breton Sorceress with an interesting hobby, as she journals her experiences from her newly found freedom.

There is no appreciation for researchers of the Arcane anymore. I tried to steal the soul of one of the sons of the Imperial generals and BLAM, I am heading for the chopping block. I mean, I get it, the general is upset, but its nothing to lose your head over, or mine! HAHA! 

Well, obviously I am not dead… Right before I executed my escape plan ( get it? HEHE!) a Dragon ( yes, A DRAH-GHON) “saved” me. That thing was seriously cool. I wonder what I could do with that things soul… I wonder if Dragons even have souls… If they do, I want it. Anyway, I escaped with this lad from the “Stormcloaks” (what a dumb name). He was a tad annoying but he offered a place to get some supplies, which I badly needed. Unfortunately  my tower was seized by the Imperials and demolished. My vast collection of Soulgems which I had collected destroyed… My pour souls… My pour unfortunate souls… Getting back to the story, my clothes and weapons were also destroyed so any help this annoying person offered was needed.

Skipping past exploring an absolutely dreadful little town by a river, the stormcloak contact asked if I could go to Whiterun to ask the Jarl for troops for defense. I’ll be quite honest, I don’t care whether these peasants live or get brutally eaten by the coolest fucking lizard ever… wait… Actually I do… I want to see the latter, HAHA! 

Eh, but I am bored. And that Dragon disappeared  for now. I decided to go to Whiterun and help the peasants… Maybe it will be fun… And maybe I can pick up some new soulgems for my collection along the way. Maybe even the Jarl’s, HAHA!-

Mersadie
Soul Collector and Expert
Journal Entry #1

Hope you enjoy!
Cheers!
Hara

Hara’s DayZ Diaries: Day Zero – Part One

Character #1
Upon washing up on the shore of Chernarus, I tried desperately to get my bearings. The world was strange and quiet. I looked around and found a road and a beach. From the beach I saw a rather large island not too far out. I decided to swim out to the island to try to find some supplies. After sneaking around the island for a bit I found a small dock and shack. Deciding that the coast was clear I walked over to the shack. It wasn’t. A zombie jumped out from behind me and broke my leg. Four more came out of nowhere. I screamed as I was eaten alive (IRL).

Character #2
(I got the hang of this now)
Hara: I washed up again on the shore. Once again I was lost. A radio signal came in. Phage was joining me in the fight, but I had to find him first. I tried to find my location on a map using nearby landmarks. Phage did the same. He was by the town of Balota and I was by the Drakon lighthouse just north of Electrozavodosk. Two major cities lie between him and I. Two major cities full of brain eating bastards.I ventured to the north of Electro and found a power plat station that was heavily infected. Too infected for me to sneak in and out safely. But, the power station did prove useful. By following the power lines I could reach the rendezvous point Phage and I had set. I followed the power lines with my mind constantly playing tricks on me.

Meanwhile: Phage snuck over to the airstrip just northwest of him. Quietly looting all the dead bodies he could find. A pistol with a couple of shots. A can of food. Two soda cans. They all will prove to be the difference between life and death, he thought.  If he could just make it out without any zombies hearing him… If he could only make it to Hara.

Hara:  I finally made it to the point. But there was no sign of Phage. My throat was dry and the sun was burning my skull. I needed water. I phased in and out of consciousness for a couple of minutes… Phage had the supplies and all I could do was try to hold on.

Phage: Shit… Shit… Fuck… SHIT! They heard him. At first one, then two, then four. They were all after him now. He had to run. Run into the forest and try to hide from them. He ducked in and out of foliage until he finally lost them. Or so he thought… Three zombies jumped out from behind the bush. Frantically, he wrestled for his pistol and tried to aim. In the struggle one of the zombies grabbed at his legs, tearing the bone from its place. A shot landed as he fell to the ground. Two zombies left on top of him frantically clawing at him. He shot again. Hit. The zombie dropped dead (again). He crawled away but the last zombie easily pursued. He shot once more at the zombie. A miss! The bullet hit the zombies leg. Now both Phage and the “dead” body both crawled in a chase fit for turtles…

Will Phage survive the crippled race and make it to Hara before a hoard of zombies or worse dehydration do?
Find out in the next exciting installment of Hara’s DayZ Diaries!

FINALLY! Sonic Generations!

I know this has taken quite a while, but this week was kind of hectic, and on top of that my save file kind of got deleted, so I’ve played this game about 1.5 times. On to my thoughts!

Sonic Generations. How do you describe it… Nostalgic? Fast-paced? Definitely. And definitely fun. The basic premise of the game is that something happens with the time space continuum, you somehow end up with two sonics, (with two different play styles), and they must team up to save the day. Really, don’t get too caught up in a story, you can tell the main focus wasn’t story. Now, with two different sonics, you get every level twice, except different. Here’s what I mean.

Classic Sonic

Look at the grass on Green hill zone.

Modern Sonic

The side of Sonic you didn’t know till he went 3D

Different enough that it’s fun to play separately, but still really the same level. Just from a different perspective at times. The game also has a ton of cool bonuses and unlockables. (Sonic Boom from Sonic CD. Yes.)

Remember that one time Sonic was a pinball?

There’s really no original levels per say in Generations, all the levels that you play are technically reworkings of levels from other Sonic games, but every level still feels fresh. It’s like they took some of the levels you loved from when you were younger, some levels you loved from when you were not so younger, and then took some levels you never played from a game that never existed (Sonic The Hedgehog 2006…. *barf*) and reupholstered them. Honestly City Escape has never looked so Damn good.

Rolling around at the speed of sound?

As classic Sonic you run to the right, spin dash, and pass through the spinning picture of Eggman and flip it so it shows you giving the camera a thumbs up. Just like in the good old days. As modern Sonic you move mostly forward, homing attack, boost, light-dash through rings, stomp, drive a car for a little bit, and near the end turn into a small space-ship. Before you start complaining about all that stuff, let me tell you now, it’s fun. As modern sonic you don’t really get bombarded with all those powers at once, but usually one level will focus on one “power.” The important part is that modern sonic is fast.

So, what bad does it have to offer? Not much honestly. As much as I try to complain, there are only a handful of thinks to whine about.
One being the short length of the main campaign. If you  race through the campaign, it’s at best an 8 hours affair. (This of course is much longer if you do all the challenges offered.)

Second thing that bugs me is to restart the level you lose a life. I’m not really sure who’s bright idea that was, because if you leave the level, and then re-enter you don’t lose a life.

Third thing that bugged me may seem strange, but hear me out. The levels which i have the most nostalgia for, and ended up having the most fun playing I suppose, are the early sonic games, and then City Escape. The way the levels are ordered though are chronological though, So first Sonic, then Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and then the two adventure battle games right after. My favorite level’s basically all come and go all at once, and leaves the second half of the game not as nostalgic. I’m not saying that the other levels are bad at all, (on the contrary, one of the levels I liked most at the end was a remake of one from Sonic unleashed,) it’s just that all my nostalgia was gone rather quickly. I never really played anything past Adventure 2 battle.

MMMMMMM… Nostalgia.

Lastly, and probably the biggest fault are the boss battles. It looks like they tried so hard to make them grandiose and fun, but most of the time the end up overstaying their welcome (in the final boos battle I think I heard all of sonic’s friends say that the boss was firing homing missiles at least 300 times each.) On top of the boss battles you also have rival battles. These are a bit better, as they are usually much quicker, and aren’t as obnoxious.

Oh how I loved Sonic CD

So to conclude, Sonic’s 20th Birthday came with a great gift for sonic fans. A fun, if not short romp through memory lane. I’d recommend this game to any hardcore sonic fans, not that I probably have to convince them of anything,  to anyone that ever had fun playing sonic when they were younger, and really to anyone that enjoys platformers. Could this be the return of good Sonic games? I hope so.

P.S. Anyone remember the Super-Peel out from Sonic CD? Was I the only one that liked that?