Tag Archives: PSVita

Haven Review: Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma

Zero-Time-Dilemma-logo-Primer-PlayerNow I should mention that Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma  is the first Spike Chunsoft title I have ever played and so with that statement let it be known. I am really enjoying myself so let’s jump right into the review now shall we?

The game is a decision game, a game of choice each with its own consequences and the player faces that quite often. Taking a page from the multiverse theory of multiple realities in which every outcome has actually happened whether good or bad.

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That being said I have played the game for a good while now and I have seen a lot of the results and it is brutal, each with its own unique story and continuation. Which ultimately affects the overall gameplay giving me the player a very unique experience. It is further enhanced also by letting the player go back and redo certain scenarios over again until you have more favorable outcomes.

But lets talk a bit more about the game itself, the game is launching on the Nintendo 3DS, the Sony PSVita, as well as Windows through Steam and we were playing the Steam version. Although a bit buggy I suspect in the future that those issues will be fixed. You can have anti-aliasing support and a few extra graphic settings to make the game run more favorable on your system. But ultimately my experience with that was not so great as no matter what option I choose the game lagged and stuttered and it ran very poorly. Which is also notable in our videos as you watch and the characters lips are all out of sync as well.ZTD_GameBoxes-632x399

another issue I found was a small audio bug where the game would not save your options from BGM, SFX, and character voices. You could lower the volume to these but unless these settings are changed while you were actually playing and had a free use of the options menu during game-play your settings would not be saved.asdf

Now the characters all seem one-sided in their personalities and for me that seems is a bit of a disappointment. You got one guy who is always angry, one guy who is always calm, one girl who is super shy, one girl who is super calm but with a steer demeanor, I could go on but I’d rather not.  The characters don’t really have any unique traits that make me want to like them more apart from their visual appeal and none of them stand out to me in my head mentally.

But, that does work overall with the premise of the game. Where the only means to escape the place you are being held is to kill off up to six other characters to get passwords to open up a sealed door which will lead to your escape. You don’t feel tied to any character or try to save them because of how bland they are and you become more okay with their one-sided character traits to the point where you actually get a jolly out of killing them off.2016-02-22-193445.0

A lot of the issues I’ve run into in the game are minute and small problems but are easily overlooked as the gameplay of the game standouts a lot and has a lot of branching paths from which the player can choose different means of surviving in games to the death and the choice of being able to experience all of the outcomes is really amazing.

The music also really helps set the tone of the game as well as when things boil down to decision time where the player has to choose the outcome that they will live with and not know the results until after it happens. The worst part of that though the intense problem solving you got to do at times where in the end the player could ultimately face death even after doing everything you possibly can to stay alive.

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In conclusion though the game offers a unique and varying experience and is definitely one of the more unique titles we have had the privilege of playing. Which I can only really say I hope you pick up a copy upon its release as it is really good despite its few flaws that I mentioned.

You will enjoy putting all the one-sided characters to death and not regret doing it not even a tiny bit.

-Daniel Clatworthy-

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Haven Review: Teslagrad

Teslagrad

In a Steampunk world, Science a boy is on the run, escaping into a mighty tower full of perils and wonder, where the story is told without a word. This is a very impressive undertaking, since games are usually an audio/visual medium. I review it because I find it enjoyable. In this Nordic-inspired world, the terrors of the tower are many and the secrets are hard to find. The platforming is solid and your powers are based around electricity; hence the title. Throughout the game there are various murals that depict the story of the land and stages where automatons preform a play.

Now i know how being a Gerbil feels like!
Now i know how being a Gerbil feels like!

I think most people would classify this as a “Metroidvania” game, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. There’s a lot of exploration going on, but that’s purely for unlocking secrets.

The path ahead is quite linear and follows a clear, defined line. However it’s totally possible to backtrack. Throughout the game you’ll find various useful items that are required to solve the puzzles and traverse the rooms of the tower. These include a glove that can change the polarity of various objects and boots that zap the player through metal bars, into enemies and across chasms. Overall, it’s an easy control scheme and a simple concept done right. Graphics are nice and colorful, and at times moody. The bright eyed pint-sized boy fits well into the world of hand drawn sprites, where every enemy and boss looks unique.

Touch the electric current and die
Touch the electric current and die

Yes, there are some epic and fun boss battles with dramatic music and intense action. This brings me to the sound design that is very well done and fits into the theme of the world. It never got on my nerves. Since this is a very adorable platformer, there’s no blood and gore. Players of all ages can enjoy it. However, it can be a bit hard if players aren’t familiar with such games, or are very young.

Big bird boss beating!
Big bird boss beating!

All in all, Teslagrad is a solid game from a solid Norwegian game company, and was made using the Unity engine . The game can be bought on Steam, GOG and Wii U.

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Steam store page.
http://store.steampowered.com/app/249590/

Disclaimer:  We received this game for review purposes only. As such, all views in this article are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Njål H Sand

Haven Review: Salt and Sanctuary

 

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Salt and Sanctuary clearly is crafted from a merging of inspirational sources. It pays great homage to games that have come before it while reinventing them; combining them in ways that both let the genius of those games shine, and create an entirely new experience for the player. The two most important influences on Salt and Sanctuary are Dark Souls and Castlevania. Castlevania is the oldest of the three, and has influenced much of the design of Dark Souls, as well as giving this game its underlying framework and heavy two-dimensional exploration experience. “Salt and Sanc'” is at heart a Metroidvania-style game. I think calling it a “2D Dark Souls” is a bit disingenuous since it clearly belongs to an already well-defined genre of games. However, that’s not to say that the Dark Souls influence isn’t worn on the sleeve.

Salt and Sanctuary‘s RPG elements make up the primary detail of its mechanics. There is a system for stat progression and skill upgrades. There’s a wide variety of weapons and armor you can find in the game, and a huge selection of consumable items at your disposal. These elements are straight out of Dark Souls. You’re given one currency as your main way to level up: salt. This is used at a “sanctuary” to increase your level. When you die, your salt is picked up by the enemy who killed you…much like in Dark Souls (or more specifically Bloodborne).

ss classUnique to this game however, is what happens when you’re killed by environmental hazards. There are myriad ways to fall to your death or be killed by an unseen trap. When this happens, your salt materializes as a bat that you must kill in order to regain the lost points. When killed by a boss, a small indicator appears above the health bar of the boss. If you’re able to get them down past the indicator, you’re given your salt back. I feel this is almost a better way of handling this problem than Dark Souls‘s method. First off, you don’t have to worry about running to your salt’s location and picking it up (causing a small distraction that the boss can exploit, leading to your death again). Second, it forces you to learn how to fight the boss. Each time you die, you need to get the boss down to the indicator again. You need to get to that same spot every time, so it gives you another goal during the fight. Giving you a half-way point in the fight helps break down the bosses’ strategy and learn to deal with their attacks.false jester

Over the course of Salt and Sanctuary, you meet other travelers and gain special powers from them in the form of “brands”. The first and possibly most mysterious character is the Jester. He sits upside down near a big obelisk and talks only in cryptic rhymes. There’s even a boss associated with this character. The boss sits in front of the real Jester’s room, trying to trick passersby into thinking he’s the actual one. Once you’ve acquired the brand from him, you can use it to flip yourself upside down whenever you come across an obelisk. More brands can be collected, each giving you a unique power. This mechanic is taken straight from the Metroidvania genre. It’s almost a staple and wouldn’t truly be classified as such without it. It’s interesting to see this interaction. It gives the game an interesting way to explore the world; especially if you’re coming at it from a Dark Souls perceptive. Ultimately, exploration is what these games are about.

Each sanctuary you find is dedicated to a particular religion. You may choose from three different ones at the beginning, or convert to a new one at an available sanctuary. Occasionally you’ll find an empty sanctuary and have the ability to claim it for your creed. When you’re inside your religion’s sanctuary you can do much more than just level up. You can bring in followers to help you in your journey. These followers can provide you with shops, or smithies. They can guide you back to other sanctuaries or transmute your weapons into new wondrous creations. One of the most interesting of the followers is the Leader. This character can offer you side quests to complete, in addition to your main goal. These side quests are nothing more than collecting some quest-specific loot from enemies that you’ve killed.

 

The game’s rewards are what really intrigue me. For example, when you’ve completed a quest for a Leader, you’re offered one of several items. These include healing potions (which you also get from the massive skill tree), stamina potions and elemental buff items for your weapon. Interestingly, when you rest at a sanctuary these are all replenished…much like your “estus” in Dark Souls. If you choose a lightning stone as your reward, whenever you rest you get your stone back. You’re never in a state where you need to wonder whether or not it’s a good time to use this buff item; you know you can get it back. It’s always be a good time to use it.

Something I’ve been dreading talking about is the skill system. It’s massive; too massive. When you level up you’re given a black pearl (these can also be found around the world). You use these to choose a skill from an enormous web. This thing is so intimidating when first starting out. You have no idea what to take, where you want to end up or how to plot out the best path to get there. I ended up just trying to get as many different weapon skills as I could in order to use the widest variety. There are also skills for other things, including raising your stats, using higher weapon/armor classes and increasing the number of healing potions earned when you rest. Skills are accompanied by “passages”. These are from fables and holy books, and give you a glimpse into the deep lore of the game. It can be overwhelming if you’re set on reading every one of them! Once you choose your first couple of skills, a path starts to become clear. You start to learn what’s important to you and recognize the skills you need. Going for new weapons at the outset gave me great direction, and let me pick up some really good stuff along the way. Although I don’t use every weapon (I tend to stick to swords or axes), it at least gave me a starting direction.salt-and-sanctuary-skill-tree

While the mechanics of Salt and Sanctuary are incredibly deep and precise, the art style is another story. I’ve heard many people say that they were put off by it, calling it cartoony or sloppy. At first I wasn’t that keen on it either. This is especially evident in the character design. However, after sometime playing it I changed my mind. Seeing the beautiful landscapes and backdrops, and the designs of the bosses and the wicked scarecrow, I fell in love with the art. It took me a moment to realize that these drawings weren’t cartoony as such, but rather as though straight out of a story book. There is almost a papery quality to them, like they’ve been lifted off the page of a forgotten ancient fairy tale. I realized that the art wasn’t so much off-putting, but lent itself to a particular design that I didn’t see at first.

Salt and Sanctuary is a beautiful, rich experience filled with tribulations, and victories. It clearly wears its influences on its sleeve, but it wears them so elegantly. This game perfectly captures the essence of older titles, and transforms them into something new. Salt and Sanctuary does an amazing job of creating a deep lore and an interesting world that feels expansive. It at times brings you down into the depths of its nittiest gritty details, and then compares them to its wider overarching universe. The characters are wonderfully written. The levels are meticulously constructed, and each fleeting victory is so satisfying. This is one of the coolest games I’ve played in a long time. It hit every note I wanted it to, and satisfied every itch I’ve had. If you haven’t had your fill of Dark Souls, or want to try an incredibly well developed and interesting Metroidvania game, Salt and Sanctuary is here for you. This game has eaten up way more of my time and attention than I meant it to.SS

Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

-Jordan Kamm-