Tag Archives: Steam

Firewatch Review

Firewatch is what I call a walking simulator, and while that may not make the game sound that exciting, keep reading. Firewatch is set in Wyoming in 1989, and you are a man on your own in the wilderness, set with the task of watching for fires. The game begins with some flashbacks and life decisions, mainly in text, but don’t worry, this just sets up the background for the main character, and you feel connected to them before even setting foot in the main game.

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The Good

Your first job in Firewatch is to make it to your tower, which is your base of operations for the game, and where you will find your trusty ‘weapon’ for the game, your radio. Yes, that is right, there is no fighting hordes of zombies, evil overlords, or demonized bunnies in this game. Your main weapon is your voice (although, you will carry other items, including an axe…but, still no zombies).

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When you pick up the radio, you get to listen to my favorite aspect of the game, the voice acting. If you were a fan of Mad Men, when your character first speaks you will instantly recognize the voice behind Henry, the protagonist. The other main character in the game, Delilah, your sidekick who is in another tower, can only speak to you over the radio. This dynamic of not being able to see your main contact in the game is nothing new, but the back and forth communication between the two, to which you can usually choose your reply is amazing. The voice acting is so well done that it feels like a fluid conversation between two people, which is rare in a video game. The writing is also dynamic, and changes based on your choices and what you say in the game, but you probably won’t notice unless you play through the game more than once.

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The landscape and art style of Firewatch are nothing to shield your eyes from either. In fact, the sun is almost a character in the game. You can almost feel the heat of the sun, and when it isn’t there you feel even more isolated. The mountains, the trees, the rivers and grass, all come together to put you in the right state of mind to enjoy this game. There are no vehicles in this game, so you will be getting your 10,000 steps in, all the while surrounded by this amazing scenery.

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I could go on and on about various little things I love about this game, from the ambience, to the music, controls, etc, but the main thing a lot of people play games for is the story. Luckily, the story in Firewatch is great throughout. The game plays out in Days, and on Day 1 Delilah spots some fireworks, and it is your job to put a stop to them, with entertaining results. As you progress in the game, you go on various quests, full of intrigue and conspiracy, all while working through the summer in the wilderness of Wyoming. Even though the game doesn’t have shooting or crazy explosions left and right, I found the game to be intense, and couldn’t put it down.

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The Bad

Firewatch is amazing, but as with all games, it isn’t perfect. The game stutters a bit on loading, which happens quite often, but it doesn’t distract too much from the game. While this is a minor complaint, it would have been nice if this could be avoided. It also has a few graphical glitches and texture pop in. The game also ramps up with its story, but fails to fully capitalize the end of the story with the same excitement as the build up, and I felt the game ended abruptly, and too soon. This could be because I wanted to continue the adventure and didn’t want it to end, but I felt like I needed something more.

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The Achievements

The achievements in the game are mostly straight forward, with the welcome addition of a few side quests. I wouldn’t use a guide for this game. Enjoy it, and most of the achievements will unlock. The rest you can clean up on the second playthrough when you play with commentary, or use the open world option that is unlocked after you complete the game. Overall, this is an easy game, with easy achievements. Did I say this game was amazing?

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Final Verdict

Firewatch is one of the best games of 2016. Although it has been out a few months on other platforms, the Xbox One edition of the game has the new commentary content, as well as an open world when you beat the game (which was patched into the other versions). The commentary was a nice addition to the game, and allows you to go through the game a second time with commentary to get some background on the game. Of course it is recommended to not play with commentary the first time through so you can enjoy the great conversations between the main characters and not be distracted.

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This is a beautiful game that should not be missed. The voice acting is superb, and the visuals match it. The story is linear, but this game is about the journey. I highly recommend this game to all, but be aware this is an adult game, with adult themes. The price of $19.99 may seem steep compared to other indie titles, but this game shines above most of the other titles out there, even some with a cost of $60.

5outof5

Developed by: Campo Santo
Published by: Campo Santo
Websitehttp://www.firewatchgame.com/
Xbox Marketplacehttps://www.microsoft.com/store/p/firewatch/bqqkg9h2stc0
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/383870/

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Monochroma Review

Monochroma is a silent narrative about two brothers that live on a farm. On their way home one day, the brothers have witnessed a crime at a factory and have taken off to the city on foot out of fear. During their trek to the city, the brothers encounter several adversaries and will need to solve many different puzzles along the way. While trying to make the escape to the city, the younger of the two brothers injures himself and now you must carry him on your back.

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The Good

I found it really easy to jump right into Monochroma. Since there really isn’t a backstory presented to you when you start the game, you are basically just plopped right into the action and start off by learning the basics of how the game works while being guided through the start of the visual tale. The beautiful art style and simplistic monochrome color scheme almost made me feel like I was in an old movie and sets a really interesting tone early on.

Shortly after the tutorial stage, Monochroma’s industrialized 2.5D side-scrolling platformer core starts to take over. If you have ever played Limbo, you will feel right at home. Even after the first stage, there is still a bit of coddling as the difficulty of the puzzles are very low throughout most of the first chapter of the game.

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Overall I didn’t really find the puzzles to be overly challenging, but they were enough to keep my interest in them as they do somewhat play into the visual story and help you engage with the emotions of the two brothers. The soundtrack is beautiful, but I would have liked to hear more of it. Many moments where there was no background music when it would make sense to have it.

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I really loved transitioning to new scenes and environments, most of them had really good attention to detail, especially in the backgrounds. You do have to pay attention though, as you might miss out if you aren’t looking close enough.

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The last quarter of Monochroma is when the story really picks up. I found some of the best animations and scenes to be in this section of the game. I don’t really want to go too much into detail about it, but I really started to form an emotional connection to the brothers at this point in the story.

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The Bad

There was some glitching and graphical snags here and there, occasionally causing missed opportunities like grabbing ropes. The upside is that the checkpoints are pretty close together, so it’s not a major loss if you end up dying. I found the death scenes are really generic, like a guy will run into you and that’s it, you die, no death animation – you just fall over and rag-doll. I also found the story line was slow moving sometimes uneventful, beyond that I don’t really have any major gripes that I thought detracted from my experience.

 

The Achievements

A good chunk of the achievements are story related and will unlock as you play though the game. There is also a handful that will most likely also unlock naturally as they are for dying in specific ways that are found through out the adventure. The only ones that might give you a bit of trouble are “Kite” and “Conscience”. Both of which have somewhat vague descriptions. If you are having trouble with either of these, you can check out our achievement guides for some help.

Kite Achievement Guide

Conscience Achievement Guide

 

Final Verdict

Monochroma is a beautiful narrative and provides a modest challenge; less so for those that live for puzzle solving platformers. You can easily get through the game in 5 hours or less and even gather all of the achievements in one playthrough if you are careful enough. If you are a fan of games like Limbo,  The Cave, or Never Alone; you will likely enjoy Monochroma.

One thing that I found quite odd is that the Xbox One version retails at half of the price of the PC version. The review was done on the Xbox One version, so I’m not really sure if there is much of a difference in the quality of gameplay between the two, but I can’t imagine there is enough of a difference to warrant a price tag twice as high. I found the $9.99 Xbox One price tag to be very reasonable.

 

3outof5

 

Developed by: Nowhere Studios
Published by: Nowhere Studios
Website: http://www.monochromagame.com/
Xbox Marketplace: https://www.microsoft.com/store/p/monochroma/brg6j553l5kt
Steam Store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/265830/

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Eventide: Slavic Fable Review

Eventide: Slavic Fable is a hidden-object puzzle game that was recently brought to the Xbox One.  You go on an adventure to save your Baba and the creatures you meet through the story from Boruta, a strange creature that looks like an oversized flying monkey.  This game contains many of the hidden-object puzzle standards and doesn’t stray very far from the mold that makes an enjoyable point-and-click adventure.

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The Good

The variety of puzzles, including the different types of hidden object puzzles, is great for this type of game.  Instead of just scenes of junk with a list of items to find, there are other hidden-object puzzles in which you have to find a certain number of items, or the pieces of something to put it together.

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As with all Artifex Mundi games, the landscape and scenery is wonderfully vivid.  While I never find the stories in a puzzle game overly engaging (and thus, do not expect them to be), I did find the characters in Eventide: Slavic Fable to be absolutely adorable.

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The Bad

My biggest complaint with Eventide: Slavic Fable is that during many puzzles, when you click an object that you have to find, it will not detect that you have found the item.  This became very frustrating during some puzzles, particularly in puzzles where you had to find multiple of the same item.

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The Achievements

The achievement list in Eventide: Slavic Fable is pretty standard for an Artifex Mundi hidden-object puzzle game.  There is a mixture of story achievements, collectibles and achievements for things like completing puzzles without skipping.  Some of the achievements are missable, but it is possible to complete the game in one playthrough (plus the bonus chapter).

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Final Verdict

Eventide: Slavic Fable is a great game to spend an afternoon or two on.  The achievement list brings it together to be an enjoyable completion.  If you’re looking for a fun hidden-object puzzle game, make sure to add this one to your list.

 

3-5outof5

 

Developed by: The House of Fables
Published by: Artifex Mundi
Websitehttps://www.artifexmundi.com/g/eventide-slavic-fable/
Xbox Marketplacehttps://www.microsoft.com/store/p/eventide-slavic-fable/c50k3z0k68vp
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/406870/

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

King Oddball Review

King Oddball, as its name states, is an odd game. Think Angry Birds, but instead of flinging a bird with a slingshot, you fling rocks with your tongue as I believe the man inside of the moon? It isn’t explained, but you are set on destroying the earth, and apparently lots of tanks and other army vehicles.

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The Good

The game does offer a good amount of content. It has levels that are broken up into stages. They are set in squares, and you must complete the square before moving on to the next designated one. Along the way you encounter squares that unlock new game modes that adjust the gameplay, like completing a set of levels with one rock, or with grenades, or some other power up. This extends the gameplay, and lets the player have a variety of modes to play, especially once the main game is completed.

The gameplay is very simple, and as mentioned before, is similar to Angry Birds. This makes the levels move quickly, and they are usually easy to complete until later stages. The main things this game has going for it are the number of levels, and the simplicity of the game to pick up and play. The game does add bonus rocks to be thrown for achieving combos, or for hitting the King with the rock by bouncing it off of something. My favorite thing in the game is when you run out of rocks, the king gets a sad face.

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The Bad

Unfortunately, because this game is so simple, each level looks similar to the last. There is no real defining factor between the levels that make levels stand out. They all have a similar background, and they all have various army vehicles you must destroy, with conveniently placed explosive boxes.

The music is the same track throughout, and does get irritating after a while. Even with the various challenge types, the game gets old quick. With more variety in the levels, at least changing the backgrounds and enemies more, it would have made the game more entertaining overall.

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The Achievements

The achievements in the game are pretty standard fare, and most will be obtained by just playing through the levels. You will need to play through all of the alternate game types as well to complete the achievement list. There are only 16 achievements overall, but they completing all of the levels will take some time, and later levels will take multiple retries to complete.

Final Verdict

King Oddball is a decent game, especially for the price of $4.99. If you need to scratch your Angry Birds itch, or want a distraction from the first person shooters everyone plays, this might be something you would enjoy. Don’t go into the game expecting much from it, and you should be pleased with the amount of content.

 

3outof5

 

Developed by: 10tons Ltd.
Published by: 10tons Ltd.
Websitehttp://www.10tons.com/Game/king_oddball.html
Xbox Marketplacehttps://www.microsoft.com/store/p/king-oddball/btk86t84dfsv
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/525450/

 

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas Review

When you first see Oceanhorn, you will immediately think, “Zelda”, and I’m sure the developers won’t deny that it was an inspiration for the game. While the game is a nod to one of the greatest game series of all time, it does have some differences.

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The Good

There is a lot of good happening in Oceanhorn. It is an 8-12 hour epic ride (depending on how much exploring you do, and how good you are at puzzles), where you travel to many islands on your quest to save your father. The game sends you on your main quest, but does offer some side quests that you can do later on to pick up additional collectibles. You are encouraged to talk to the various people inhabiting the islands, as they give you tips on where to go, and what to do, as well as unlocking new islands. Boss battles happen now and then, and most are not overly difficult, but if you do happen to die, the game has a very forgiving checkpoint system.

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The music in this game is great, and each track goes with the theme of the island or boss fight.The music reminds me of the old days of playing video games, and the many great tracks that went along with that.

As you continue your quest and unlock emblems items, you gain new powers that help you on your way, and allow you access to new areas you could not reach previously. The islands you find are rather small, but they have many levels and depth which increases their size. The goal is to island hop, fulfilling missions as they are handed out, and ultimately complete the main quest, and find out the fate of your father, as well as save the land from the evil invading it.

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The Bad

While the game overall is great, there are some things I had issues with. The main thing you must get used to, because the game has a set camera angle, it can be hard to distinguish what you can and can’t climb up, or jump off of. Some of this is due to invisible walls that the developer put when creating the game to keep you from falling off ledges, but there are some low drops that are blocked to keep you from progressing further in the game too early. I’m sure this was a decision they made to keep the game flowing forward, but is sometimes annoying, but you get used to it.

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The voice acting in the game, although a nice surprise, feels flat. I feel the game could have been just as powerful with text, or a made up vocal language. Most of the game is text, so when a voice over happens, it is startling. This is minor, but something I noticed.

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One final gripe with the game is that once you pick a new island to go to, you move on a boat, which is fine, but you have no control over the boat. This is overlooked for the most part, since you are required to shoot things on your path to the new island, but could have been more fun if free roaming the seas was allowed.

The Achievements

The achievements in this game, besides the final few, will be obtained by progressing through the game. They are usually tied to challenges or game feats, and the game throws them out at a steady pace. The collectibles and challenges don’t seem to be missable, so you should be able to play through the game, and once you beat the final boss you are allowed to continue exploring.

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Final Verdict

Overall, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a magnificent game, that shows what an indie title can be. The game started as a phone game, so there is simplicity there, but it still is a great action/adventure title that no Xbox gamer should miss. Priced at only $14.99, it has a huge amount of content compared to other indie titles, and with 8-12 hours or more of gameplay, you can spend some time with this. The unlocks progress at a steady pace, and unless you are stuck everything moves quickly, so you won’t get bored. If you are a fan of the Zelda games, this is an insta-buy, and even if you aren’t, I’d suggest giving it a try. I don’t think you will regret it.

4-5outof5

 

Developed by: Cornfox and Bros.
Published by: FDG Entertainment
Website: http://www.fdg-entertainment.com/xbox-one/oceanhorn-xb1.html
Xbox Marketplacehttps://www.microsoft.com/store/p/oceanhorn-monster-of-uncharted-seas/c1zsx0z50vw2
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/339200/

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

140 Review

140 is a challenging platformer that will require patience, careful timing and a little bit of luck to make it through.  You can only use the basic motions of jumping and moving left or right while you go through three levels (and once again in their mirrored forms) that will test your reaction time and resiliency.

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The Good

140 is very challenging, and generally, this makes it enjoyable on the surface.  While it is only three levels long (plus mirror stages), each level has a variety of elements that you need to navigate.

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Each level has a boss fight at the end, which I found to be the most enjoyable portion of the game since it broke up the levels nicely.  The boss fights were equally, if not more, challenging than the rest of the levels, although they are largely founded in pattern recognition.

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The Bad

14o can grow to be very frustrating, very quickly.  There are portions of the game where your timing has to be so precise, it’s almost to a fault.  There are plenty of checkpoints throughout each of the levels, but if you exit the game, you have to start the level you are currently on over.  In my opinion, the levels in 140 are too long for this.

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The Achievements

140 offers a decent achievement list.  While it only consists of 10 achievements, this seems like just the right amount for 140.  Most of the achievements are based around completing the various levels, but there are other ones thrown in, like defeating certain bosses without dying.  This provides an additional challenging element to 140 and makes the boss levels feel even more strenuous than they already may be.

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The Verdict

140 has a ton of potential, but it doesn’t live up to what I had hoped for.  The precision necessary in certain sections of the game can be enjoyably challenging at some points, and infuriating at others sections.  140 is enjoyable in short bursts, but make sure you sit down focused and with plenty of patience.

 

3outof5

 

Developed by: Abstraction Games
Published by: Double Fine
Website: http://www.game140.com/
Xbox Marketplacehttps://www.microsoft.com/store/p/140/bzln1w2ml7mg
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/242820/

 

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Emily Wants to Play Review

What’s scarier than delivering pizza to a house with boarded up windows and an overgrown lawn really late at night? Well, entering the house and not finding anyone home, that’s what!

You start off by walking through the front door of a house that you, the pizza guy, are trying to make a delivery to. While there isn’t any actual tutorials or completely obvious guidance, there are a few notes around the house that at least tell you the basics of what you need to be doing.

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In the beginning of the game, you are basically just exploring while trying to figure out why no one seems to be home. You find all sorts of cryptic and seemingly random messages placed or written in places that you can’t miss. It’s like someone if trying to get your attention, eh?

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After some trial and error (or for the impatient, some research on the internet), you will eventually figure out how Emily Wants to Play works. The idea is pretty simple, but execution can be a challenge. You need to last for an hour (6 in game minutes) without getting caught by any of Emily’s “friends”, herself included. Each doll has it’s own particular way you go about avoiding it which you will need to figure out.

There are a total of 4 different types of dolls that you will need to learn tactics for (pro-tip: the whiteboard is your friend). Each stage is a different hour after midnight (12:00 – 06:00) and to reiterate, the hours are only 6 in-game minutes. Once you figure out how each doll works, the real challenge awaits you in the later hours of the game, particularly the 05:00 and 06:00 hours.

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Emily Wants to Play is filled with some awesome jump scares, but it doesn’t do a great job getting you to understand the story behind what is going on in the house. Yes, there are random recording scattered around the house that help clue you in to Emily’s story, but that’s about it. This really isn’t a big deal though because it’s more about the jump scares and gameplay than it is the story.

The achievements can be a bit difficult to figure out without looking up a guide to figure out exactly what the descriptions mean. At the time of writing this review, I was still working on “MLG Pizza Delivery” which is easily the most difficult achievement in the game. It requires you to outlast all of the dolls at once with the lights off!

Being a huge fan of horror movies and games, Emily Wants to Play satisfied me with what it set out to do and that is to scare and entertain. The graphics are a bit dated and there isn’t really much in terms of music and sound effects, but it really doesn’t need it. There is about 5 hours of gameplay depending on how quick you can figure everything out. It is very nicely priced at $4.99 and if you like horror games or are looking for a good spook, Emily Wants to Play will definitely deliver.

 

3outof5

 

Developed by: Shawn Hitchcock
Published by: SKH Apps LLC
Website: http://www.emilywantstoplay.com/
Xbox Marketplace: https://www.microsoft.com/store/p/emily-wants-to-play/c2rq137hs8l4
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/416590/

 

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon Review

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon brings the vintage feel of a classic RPG to the Xbox One.  You play as Khoma, the son of a man who was cursed while exploring the Indigo Forest.  Desperate to save his father, Khoma seeks out help from the Red Witch, who sends him off on the beginning of his journey to find eight Oneiric Objects.

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Along Khoma’s quest, there are tons of opportunities for exploration and side quests.  While there is a decent amount of combat throughout the game, Stories of Bethem is filled with puzzles that you must work through in order to progress.  Talking to people throughout the land will provide you with side quests, important information, or witty dialogue.

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The Good

Stories of Bethem is exactly what you would expect from a Zelda-style RPG, and there is always plenty to do along the way to your next piece of the main quest.  Exploring off the main path is rewarded with things like Unknown Medallions, a currency that provides bracelet upgrades to make you more powerful throughout the game.  There is almost always somewhere to explore, whether it is a cave or a side path that leads to a hidden treasure chest.

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Throughout Stories of Bethem, the dialogue is wonderful.  I have found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion at the tongue-in-cheek humor peppered throughout the story.  The writers put in just enough of the witty dialogue to keep it entertaining without bogging down the game.

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The Bad

There is a minimal amount of guidance given between tasks, and the in-game map system is virtually useless.  While this may be a tactic to encourage exploration.  It is very frustrating when you are returning to continue playing and you either can’t remember what you are supposed to be doing or where you are supposed to go.  There have been several times where I thought I was on the right path and ended up burning a lot of time in areas that I couldn’t progress through yet.

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Along the same vein, you have to constantly be on the lookout or you may look past something small, such as a switch that you need to shoot, and may end up wasting an inordinate amount of time running around in circles.  Some of the enemies and puzzles in the game have elements in them that ultimately draw your attention away from something you actually need to pay attention to.

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Boss fights can be very frustrating early on in Stories of Bethem while you still have low life and you need to figure out exactly what you are supposed to be doing in each battle.  It appears to take a very long time to earn bracelet upgrades (unless I am just terrible at finding Unknown Medallions, which may be the case) and this results in having to repeat basic boss fights that start out as fun but are aggravating by the time you finally complete them.

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The Achievements

In Stories of Bethem, the focus is much more on enjoying the game itself, rather than achievements, so don’t look for a quick payout in Gamerscore.  The achievements are a mixture of a few story-based achievements and a ton of collectibles.  There are a wide variety of collectibles throughout Stories of Bethem, from bracelet and clothing upgrades to collecting monster auras.

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Final Verdict

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon is a great game if you are looking for a ton of exploration that is a throwback to classic RPGs.  There is a nice balance of humor in the dialogue that helps to keep the story engaging, and I found myself looking forward to sitting down with Stories of Bethem for hours at a time, ready to continue my voyage as Khoma.

 

3.5outof5

 

Developed by: GuGames Development
Published by: GuGames Development
Website: http://www.gugames-dev.com/en/games/stories-of-bethem-full-moon
Xbox Marketplace: https://www.microsoft.com/store/p/stories-of-bethem-full-moon/br3bp6f8h2lm
Steam Storehttp://store.steampowered.com/app/412270 

 

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Unnamed Fiasco Review

Unnamed Fiasco, published by Unnamed Fiasco Team, is an arcade style multiplayer deathmatch game. This game requires at least 2 controllers to play most of the game, but does have a single player portion. The game sets you up against up to 3 other players, with various game types. It also includes clones, which are reenactments of your previous life when you die.

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The Good

If you have 3 friends or family members to play against, this game has a lot of good things going for it. With the addition of up to 5 clones, and 4 human players, there could be 9 players on screen at once causing all kinds of mayhem. The game also has an option to change things up every minute, with all kinds of crazy powerups, like rocket packs, upside down mode, and a variety of other options that keep you on your toes. It also has a variety of lively characters, including a granny with a mustache! The game’s graphics and gameplay all seem very fitting for the game, and it works well. The game also features a set of tough single player challenges, but they only seem to be for the most experience players.

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The Bad

The one major drawback to this game, and others like it, is that it is only geared toward those with multiple controllers, and multiple people available to play, as there is no online play. I like that they have couch coop, but an online option would broaden the games audience, and allow it to be enjoyed by many others. My other gripe with this game is that the single player challenges are overly difficult, and they turned me off of playing them after several tries.

The Achievements

The achievements in this game are all very easy to obtain (except one), and most will be obtained through normal gameplay if you are playing with others. The achievements are also easily obtainable by yourself with 4 controllers if you don’t have people available, but have the controllers. For the completionists, unless you want to go through a few controllers out of breaking them due to frustration, I would steer clear. If you are an achievement addict ok with knowing you can get all but one achievement, then this is a good game to pick up.

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Final Verdict

With 4 controllers, and a few friends, this would make a great party game, especially when you set it up with clones and final minutes. If you are a gamer who lives alone, this game is not for you. I’d like to see what else this developer can come up with on future games, and maybe they could add in online multiplayer in the future. I recommend this game to achievement addicts who know they may not get that final achievement, and to gamers who don’t look at achievements, and just want to have a good time with friends.

3outof5

Buy this game on the Xbox Marketplace

Buy this game on the Steam Store

 

A copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review