Tag Archives: Puzzles

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: Pixel Puzzles 2: Space

PixelPuzzles2TitleFirst 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.

Some of you may remember my “Heroes Review” on YouTube for a game called Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ. The idea was to piece together a virtual jigsaw puzzle…always with a zombie theme…while simultaneously warding off actual zombies, tower-defense-style. The action was furious, adding a big dose of challenge to an otherwise relaxing tabletop pastime. Today we continue with another title in the same series. It’s called Pixel Puzzles 2: Space, developed by Decaying Logic and published by Kiss Ltd. This game is far less intense than its predecessor, which can be a good thing or not, depending on your mood. Pictured below is a sample of one of the game’s easier puzzles.
PixelBoardHere we’re building a photo of Mars, and you can see I’ve already completed the corners and sides. Outside the puzzle borders there are several things going on. Unplaced jigsaw pieces float around, waiting to be used. The bottom edge of the screen represents your tabletop, where you can prearrange pieces as you would do with a physical puzzle. Also floating around are little capsules that can be loaded into special sockets located at the bottom-left corner of the screen. When loaded, sockets give clues to help solve the current puzzle. Be careful though. If you abuse the clues, you won’t have enough capsules left to build the rocket ship shown on the left side of the screen. If the rocket is left incomplete, the little astronaut dancing around the screen will have no way home…he’ll be stranded (and you’ll be stranded out of a Steam achievement). For this reason I always try for a “perfect game”, where I use no clues whatsoever. However this is a game review, so we should probably discuss clue basics.

Here are your special abilities:

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Show Ghost [G]: Temporarily replaces your current puzzle progress with a full picture of the solution. You don’t see the jigsaw outlines here; only a smooth, complete image.

PixelPlacementResultLocation [Space]: Temporarily highlights the correct location within the puzzle for the jigsaw piece “in hand”.

Fix Angle [CTRL]: Temporarily rotates the jigsaw piece “in hand” to face the correct direction for placement into the puzzle.

Rocket: This is where you place as many capsules as possible. If you place enough, the rocket will suddenly launch, indicating that a Steam achievement is on the way should you go on to complete the puzzle.

When a puzzle is done you’re returned to the main menu, where you can select another. Puzzles range from 60 to 350 pieces, but the goal is always to rescue the astronaut.

PuzzleSelectSo is Pixel Puzzles 2: Space worthwhile? Yes it is. It’s very relaxing and perfect for those times when you want a virtual jigsaw puzzler that’s less action-packed than its aforementioned predecessor. Priced on Steam at $10 (USD), this title is a good value. My only “issue” is that it may be a tad tame for fans of the series who are looking for a more heart-pounding experience.

-Chris Roberts-

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Haven Review: The Howler

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

The Howler is an indie platformer that combines the distance/perception skills of Angry Birds with the hopping and landing of Super Meat Boy. The game is loosely based on the steampunk novel Hour of the Wolf by Lithuanian author Antanas Marcelionis. The novel is a must read for those who love 19th century political intrigue. In this alternate history, it seems the Russian Empire has fallen into debt with the Rothschild family of bankers…not a good thing…and must make reparations, or face the consequences.

The Howler offers a lighter take on the events portrayed in the novel. Players simply glide a hot air balloon from one point on a small map to another, sometimes avoiding dangerous obstacles, and other times delivering packages or dropping bombs.

VoiceModeEach map is introduced with a case number and a description of the current mission. Before play, you can choose to enable “voice mode”, where you softly grunt into your microphone to cause the balloon to rise, fall and deliver packages. If you don’t enable this feature, you can simply press and release your mouse button to rise and fall, respectively. The alternate method of package delivery is to click the “red box” icon at the top of the screen. Personally, I find the mouse easier to use than voice commands.436aAs your balloon rises, you’ll notice directional arrows along the left-hand side of the map. These indicate which way the wind is blowing, and therefore how the balloon will respond to your rise and fall actions.

In early maps, use the arrows to clear small buildings and towers. Flat roofs  accommodate balloon landings. Tower spikes on the other hand, will cause the balloon to explode upon contact. Later maps require you to pick up packages and drop them off at designated landing spots. At first, I attempted to release packages in mid-air, often missing the drop spot and having to restart the mission. I soon realized that you can actually land on the delivery spot and click the red box icon to release!DropTwins2As you progress, other types of items become available. There are bombs for instance, that you must hurl at hapless targets. Also, as the 19th century gives way to the 20th, your balloon itself will (whoops…no spoilers here). screen568x568At certain points, your balloon will enter treacherous interiors. This is where the game more resembles Sonic the Hedgehog (or Freedom Planet), rather than a love-child between Angry Birds and Super Meat Boy. Things get tediously challenging here; really only for those with a steady hand and steadier nerves. A self-proclaimed moniker is “The Game of Touch and Scream”. Aptly so.
shotbig5Overall, if you like platformers with highly sensitive controls, you will love The Howler. On the other hand, if you’re easily frustrated with games in this genre, you may want to spend the money on something less confounding…like a nice book about political intrigue!

-Chris Roberts-
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