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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: Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention

First 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.

The Netherworld is a place of demons, where the soul of sinners is sent and have to work to pay off their sins. It’s also a school (a place of anything but learning). Most children think of school as hell. In this case it’s literal and all of the students are demons. These hellish abominations are bright, vibrant and colorful, with quirky over-the-top personalities and a lot of vices. This motif is mostly played for laughs.

Disgaea is a series of tactical RPG games made by Nippon Ichi Software (lit.: Japan 1st Software). Each game takes place in a different Netherworld setting, with the human realm in the middle and heaven on top.cover

You start off the game as Mao, the son of the school’s head dean. His goal is to become the #1 honor student. Since this is down bellow, it means doing things the bizzaro way. Forget attending class, just skip them. The teachers don’t care anyway. Along the way he picks up a party of personalities. Most of the tone is happy, with sarcastic humor and surprisingly good voice acting. This game has a lot of grinding and the level cap is 999 or was it 9999. In other words absurdly high. Since it’s a tactical game, combat takes place over a square grid. This means that the player goes first, then the enemy. In order to spice this up and add to the challenge, the game has something called “Geo Effects”. Squares with the same glowing color will have a special effect, if a box is on that color. Effects includes invisibility, enemy level-up, recovery and more. The major challenge in the story mode is the puzzle-like nature of enemy placement and Geo Effects. However if one enjoys the plot and the characters, it’s very rewarding to continue. Not only that, there’s a lot of extra content, multiple endings and post-game things to do.

Another notable thing is that the player can create a party by selecting from a list of classes along with the unique main characters. Every class has strengths and weaknesses, and the higher the level the more absurd their special attacks get.Flonnezilla

Another fun and very true-to-life mechanic is the court room, where one passes bills. Since hell is a bad place, corruption runs rampant and the only way to gain the favor of the Senators is to bribe them or beat them senseless. Be warned, they tend to out-level you a lot. Some are drunk, some are sleeping and some are just against you. The total number of votes has to be above 50%.

Aside from that there is the “Item World”, where one enters into an item in order to boost its stats. Each level is random and scales accordingly. In the best items, a persistent player can get all the way down to the bottom and beat up the item good and proper!

For fun, giggles and grinding, there are tower attacks. As the name implies, the strongest party member stays on the bottom and all the others stand on top of that one. When one character attacks, all others in the tower help and the experience is divided equally.

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There’s much more to it than what I’ve mentioned, however the game does a wonderful job of explaining all of its internal mechanics. I enjoy this series to the fullest. However it’s quite a niche and most of the humor is derived from stubborn characters and a lot of sarcasm. There’s no blood and the violence is merely for laughs.

The endings and extra content make for a lot of readability, since different characters and team builds can lead to an entirely new flow and challenge.

Also, the fact that it’s turn-based with a lot of grinding will put some people off; especially children. Both the American and Japanese voice actors do a splendid job and the music is quite good, with some exceptions. For those of you who just hate listening to dubbing, there’s an in-game option to switch over to Japanese (with subtitles).

By now the above pictures should give a very clear indication of what to expect. The game is purely anime style, with cell shading and big expressive eyes. On a side note, the body types vary from flat chested to highly endowed; something that most developers seems to shy away from. It’s also a very good source for cosplay ideas.

Disgaea3: Absence of Detention is available on PS3 and Vita platforms. With some luck it will eventually end up on Steam as well.

http://www.nisamerica.com/

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Njål Sand