Haven Review: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Picture6First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Ladies and Lads, I present you with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen!

Picture7Nice view.

If your first instinct when you see a majestic red dragon is to climb it, then look no further. This game is about bombing big monsters with powerful spells and stabbing them in their weak spots with sharp swords and knives. Regardless of how awesome it is to bring down giants, the game also offers smaller denizens common to standard fantasy settings: goblins, wolves, skeletons and zombies. These creatures’ smaller size doesn’t make them any less hard to kill, since almost every enemy comes in packs.

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Bad bird to the bone.

A tranquil fishing village is attacked by a huge, vicious scaly red dragon that breathes fire and destruction onto the populace. The hero decided it was a good idea to charge the monster with a sword. However, one does not bring a toothpick to a monster fight and expect to win. The resulting one-sided battle ends with the hero losing his heart, and the beast proclaiming that only worthies can face him and reclaim what they have lost.

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This begs the question, “What is your favorite way to hunt monsters?” Blowing them up with powerful spells and clipping their wings with a well placed fireball? You can do that. Bring them down with a swarm of arrows from afar? That is also a valid option. After all, each enemy has a weakness to exploit. Skillfully blocking and taking damage, or bashing enemy heads with a hammer? You can do those, as well. You can also climb beasts with a dagger in each hand. This is also where replay value comes in.

Each class is different and team composition can be set to anything that catches the player’s fancy. Personally I went with a ranger supported by a shield-bashing warrior, a vastly overpowered sorcerer and a healer. The party is unfortunately limited to 3 members.

For people looking for a challenge, there is a speed-run mode and various difficulties, where player-levels carry over. Switching difficulties resets the story mode, so beware! Naturally in such a game there are a ton of side quests and quirky characters who have much to say!

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I almost took an arrow to the knee.

Hirelings in the game are known as “pawns”, and they can be obtained from other players or random encounters in the world. Each player makes a secondary computer-controlled character that levels up along with the player. This person can be changed into any class each time the player visits an inn. As the story progresses, they will learn and adapt. This means that if I started to throw citizens around, eventually the pawn would start doing the same, as well. It’s not recommended though. When a pawn is let go, the player it was hired from will get a special currency and the pawn will retain all its knowledge.

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Tiny monsters to kill.

The character creation menu is what you’d expect from a fantasy game. One thing to keep in mind is that weight plays an important part when it comes to the grabbing mechanic. A heavy person will hold down a flying foe, while a light one will hang on for dear life as the enemy takes off!

Each of the classes has different skills, play styles and weapons. These can be upgraded with various materials that litter the world. The graphics are quite good and do an effective job of conveying the thoughtfully crafted world. The game runs at a steady 60 FPS. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen also allows players to walk almost anywhere they please. Though due to the RPG nature of the mechanics, there are plenty of invisible walls along the path to a given location. Technically savvy players can take on monsters of much higher level and stab them to death with a thousand paper cuts; ineffective and time consuming as that may be. Spells and skills are very satisfying to use and can be upgraded to more powerful variants as the player progresses. A tiny icicle will turn into a huge pillar of death somewhere down the line.

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Climbing a cyclops.

The game itself is quite simple to master and very intuitive, with plenty of tutorials to go around. However, its “grindy” nature and vast traveling distances will be off-putting for a lot of people.

Is it fun? Hell yes, it is. I never play games for long that are not fun. After sinking many hours into the wonderfully brutal world of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, I can honestly say that you can’t go wrong with this title…especially since the PC version fixed various performance issues. The PS3 version had many frame drops and stuttering due to the insane size of some monsters and the special effects being thrown around.

While the combat is fun and satisfying, it’s also accompanied by a fabulous score. A ton of voice actors do a great job conveying the dialogue, with many English accent variants from around the globe.

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I have to remember this place before it’s covered in corpses.

Combat is based around skills and the player’s ability to negate damage, while pawns do their best to fight alongside. However the latter are kind of dumb and prone to stupid things, such as falling off ledges while carrying your loot.

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Something else you’ll notice is that people and pawns never stop talking. Certain spots trigger dialogue, and every encounter has its own banter. This is gets old quickly, especially when it comes to encounters with wolves; which are weak against fire. By the way, did I mention that they hate fire, and that they hunt in packs and can be killed with fire?

The game itself can be bought at the usual places, including Steam and Humble Bundle. The version I got came with a soundtrack and a digital art book.

The homepage:

http://www.dragonsdogma.com/agegate.php

The Steam store page:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/367500/

 

dogma

Njål Sand

Haven Review: Space Moth DX

MothTitle1First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

As a training instructor for Microsoft security and engineering courses, a big “no-no” in the classroom is to read directly from the course books. After all, students can just do that themselves; why hire trainers to perform a “stand-up” routine? For this game review however, I’m going to break protocol (at least for part of it) and peruse the particulars of the rules.

Moth2The game is called Space Moth DX; developed by 1CC Games and published by Black Shell Media. At its core, Space Moth DX is a vertical scrolling bullet-hell, reminiscent of arcade machines of yore. From the opening menu you can arrange the visuals to fit your taste, including horizontal vs. vertical screen alignment, CRT “grain line” effects and outline border graphics. As shown in all my screen shots, I chose vertical alignment and no CRT effects. As for the border graphics, I decided to have the actual game instructions overlaid full time!

There are 2 modes of play:

Arcade: A standard bullet-hell experience designed for new players. Blast your way through each level; defeat the end-boss to advance to the next level.
DX: A tougher (and more point-lucrative) version of the game, where enemies are more aggressive and release powerful “suicide bullet” clusters at you when they die!  MothRules1aThe first thing to consider when starting a new game is your attack. You have 3 weapons available on your little moth-like ship:

Rapid Shot: Your mainstay, and an effective way to dispatch enemies. Individually, these pellets don’t do much damage, but their wide-spread nature makes up for it in short order. Repeated pelting with this weapon will send your foes into a stunned state, where they turn a neon color. What do you do then? Keep reading!
Laser: A powerful, albeit tightly focused energy beam. It does not have the width of field to manage a screen full of enemies, but if used on a stunned enemy, that creature will be “soul drained” and yield a healthy dose of bonus points. What’s more, using this weapon causes your ship to glow with a special “aura”. Nearby enemies will receive extra damage if they come into contact with this aura.
Bomb: A slow-moving mine that deals considerable damage upon contact with foes. You can either fire these manually, or configure the game for auto-fire. Either way, you have a limited number of bombs in your arsenal, so be careful in their overuse. Look for the bomb refill item (among other special items) floating about the screen. Picking these up will add bombs to your inventory.

MothRules1bThe next thing to notice is your “hitbox”, a small yellow star in the center of your ship. This is your vulnerable spot and you will lose a life if you’re hit there. “Graze” enemy bullets with your ship’s wings to avert danger and rack up a few bonus points for your trouble.

Let’s now examine bosses. These large creatures fill the map with missiles and other projectiles which you must dodge to stay alive. Defeating a boss allows you to continue on to the next level of the game. Unload everything you have on this baddie, keeping an eye on its health meter at the top of the screen. Also, be aware of the timer located just below the health meter. If time runs out the boss will die, but you receive no points for your effort. On the other hand, double points are awarded if you manage to win this battle with 2 seconds or less remaining on the clock.

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So is Space Moth DX worthwhile? Yes it is. Priced on Steam at $8 (USD), the title is a good value for those who enjoy bullet-hell games. It becomes an outstanding value if you’re an expert at the genre and want a difficulty level ranging from tough to insane. Yes, the “DX” mode will prove overly difficult for all but the most experienced; even on the first level. But the “Arcade” mode for me is fun, addictive and best of all the keyboard controls can be customized!

SpaceMothScale-Chris Roberts-

Tech Review: SteelSeries Siberia 200

SteelSeries, maker of such fine products such as the mouse with the gimmick LEDs has come out with a another item. Although this one was released a while back, I just now got around to using it.

2311_1 Normally I use a Corsair V2000 headset with its cushion-like headpiece and its adjustable features, but I can never get it to sit right on my head. It is quite uncomfortable at times. I feel like I have on ear-muffs on and I get really hot. Not to mention it collects dust on the headpiece because it’s made of cotton or some similar fabric.

But I figured it was time for a change so I decided to try another SteelSeries product: the Siberia Forge Red 200 and I must say I am really impressed with the headset. In fact I would go to such lengths as to say it’s possibly one of the best headsets I’ve ever worn.

Its headphones are comprised of a synthetic leather which rests comfortably on my head and the audio quality is superb. I really enjoy how crisp the sound is. The headband section rests comfortably on my head with easy adjustments. Since it’s a wired headset I don’t have to worry about charging the battery at all.da951ee8-b822-48d4-b30c-de5ea6228b71.png._CB290757754__SR300,300_.png

If you are in-game and don’t want to switch off your microphone via software, you can use a switch they have placed on the cable to shut it down without any trouble. The microphone itself picks up crystal clear audio as well, with zero feedback (although this depends on several factors, such as your computer’s ambient noise level).

However I did encounter one tiny issue with the headset: it’s only meant for 3.5mm input and not USB like my Corsair. I have no on-board audio devices since the burnout in my Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard. So I had to use my wife’s laptop for the review of this product.

Do I recommend the SteelSeries Siberia Forge Red 200? Of course I do. If I had a working audio card I would be using it now, and would keep this headset around for emergencies.

There is a reason why SteelSeries sponsors massive gaming tournaments and why competitors like Team Navi, Evil Genius, and Tyloo use the brand. This product is definitely one of the best that I’ve ever tried and I recommend it to anyone who needs a new headset.

-Daniel Clatworthy-

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