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Haven Reviews. Seinarukana – The Spirit of Eternity Sword 2

     Haven Reviews. Seinarukana – The Spirit of Eternity Sword 2

Starting off with a dramatic and quite prophetic dream, the kind that spoils a possible future to prevent. Which ends with our hero murdering some companions and getting impaled on a spear. After this violent nightmare, the hero wakes up hugging the violent bombshell of a slugger. I mean femme fatale, Scratch that. Overly emotional and unstable childhood friend. A complete package, equipped with a very mean and over exaggerated uppercut. Comes complete with it’s own dramatic frame. Because it’s always okay to beat up someone for being mostly innocent. Quite frankly I loathe that type of person. Domestic abuse is not comedy gold. Naturally it starts in Japan, on a Japanese school. A true, tested and generic setting for your average school uniform clad teenager. 

Credits where credits due. The characters looks quite good and has a decent range of emotions. With the expected range of colors, personalities and romantic options. The environment is quite imaginative, with some really stunning locations. Naturally the game comes fully voiced, with great many music scores to set the mood. An impressive amount of effort has been made to actually add some animations and life to the characters, depending on how much action goes on. There is still a lot of tell don’t show and some padding. 

Combat looks quite good indeed. However the resolutions leaves a lot too be desired. It’s very small. The turn based battles take place in a 3d landscape.  The environment here leaves a lot to be desired. Low resolution textures and a lot of clipping. Combat is deceptively simple it seems like. Before combat a team is composed. Based on elemental strength and weakness. Each one is assigned a role as well. Some are good at supporting, while others are good at attacking. Like the main protagonist. All the characters comes loaded with skills. After you engage a fight in Seinarukana, the combat plays out automatically, at least for the early game lot fights. Later it becomes a tad more tactical. Where roles and formations can be switched around. Every now and then there are branching paths, where a series of battles occur in a row. The camera never stops spinning though adn the combat map interface sucks. 

I truly love the ability to, play the game with only using the keyboard. Games that does this is a true treat. I can rapidly skip though the text as well, by holding down Ctrl.  Since there are a lot of endings and choices throughout the story to rigger various events and endings. This comes quite handy. Because the game is around 50 hours long at least, give or take a few. It also depends on the player actual reading speed or if you prefer to listen instead.

 

 

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.

Njål Sand

Haven Review: Overwatch

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Not since the early days of Team Fortress 2 (TF2) have I been as enamored with a multiplayer experience as I have with Overwatch. There are definitely similarities between the two, and honestly these are what interested me in the latter to begin with. But once in the game, there are many nuances that have surprised me, to the point where I’ve fallen in love with Overwatch for a variety of reasons. However, the game is definitely not without it’s faults.

Another entry in the Hero-shooter genre, Overwatch pits a cast of eclectic characters against one another in team-on-team combat. The entirety of the gameplay happens over the course of 15-minute matches. Yet the game is packed with amazing design, wildly diverse settings and…if you know where to look…tons of interesting lore. The maps are scattered with informational tidbits. Since you’ll mostly be basting hunks of scrap metal at the opponent, it’s very likely you’ll miss them (and Blizzard seems to not care). This only adds to the charm of the game. If you’d like to hunt down these bits of info, go ahead, although your team might not be so interested in you doing that. If you want to just partake in the combat, there’s no need to know the minutia of the lore. But Blizzard, as they always seem to do with their games, has taken the time to put it there. All of these things come together to form a world that seems to have been inhabited. You’ll find tea still sitting out, or a magazine that was abandoned hastily when the fighting started.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-26-58-49

The fighting revolves around teams of six heroes duking it out over capture points and payloads. Each player chooses a hero, and while there are some helpful guidelines that pop up during selection, the game doesn’t limit how many of each hero your team can select. I love the freedom of creativity that happens when opposing a team comprised of 6 “Reinhardt” characters, a tank with a large shield and hammer. I was particularly drawn to “Roadhog”, a character with a big ol’ hook that can grab people and reel them in, only to be finished off with a devastating shotgun blast to the face. Most of the other characters I tried were fun to play, as well. There wasn’t a character in all 21 that I hated.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-43-30-05 Each one is interesting to learn and wildly different from each other. That’s not saying I was good at all of them; in fact the opposite. I’m fairly poor with most. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up laughing and rolling around as I got the shit beat outa me for utterly fucking up the play style of a particular hero. Therein lies the joy of Overwatch! The colors and designs, the silliness of the heroes, the wide variety of projectiles being fired all over the place, all come together to bring such joy to my heart that even when I’m doing my absolute worst I’m still having fun. It seems like the game even rewards you for just having fun and trying your best.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-33-58-46

The most experience you get at the end of a match comes from just sticking around for the whole thing. If you played at all then you’ll get a bunch of experience and level up. Other factors are also involved. If you finish in the top three of your team, or in the top 50% of a category (damage done, time spent on an objective, etc.) you’ll get a little more XP. If you participated on the winning team, then you’ll also get a nice chunk. However, the only thing you get from leveling up is cosmetic, in the form of skins, victory poses and sprays. With sprays you can choose a mark and then leave it anywhere you’d like on the map. It’s pointless but wickedly fun. You’ll sometimes get into spray wars with others who are trying to find and cover up sprays they left while they do the same to you!

Overwatch does have a couple of problems that are present. For the most part, they are easy to ignore, but they’re still there. The first is that the game contains micro-transactions. If you like, you can spend about one dollar (USD) for a loot crate (which gets cheaper the more you buy). This is the same reward you get for leveling. Again, crates only contain cosmetic items. It’s not invasive; there aren’t ads for them all over them game. They don’t boost your ability to play the game, but they are still there. In this $40 game title there are still micro-transactions, and it makes me a little sick to think about. But what else can we expect from Blizzard? They sure do love their money. The other problem (which is less of a major issue and more of an annoyance) is with some character balancing. Right now turrets are a huge deal in the game. They have the ability to wipe out a team without much effort. The worst of this phenomenon is from “Bastion”, a robot who can transform into a powerful turret whenever he wants. He can also self-heal. I’m not saying Bastion needs to be nerfed, or that nobody should play him. It’s just that when Blizzard‘s motto behind Overwatch is that everything should be fun, it’s not that fun getting mowed down from 100% health to zero in less than a second. Bad Bastion players are easy to deal with, and certain heroes do it a lot better. But Bastion is easy to get good at and even a novice player can still get the “Play-of-the-Game” fairly easily. Without a dedicated anti-turret class (like there is in TF2), it can definitely get a little overwhelming. We’ll see as time goes on how everyone deals with this. Whether Blizzard introduces an “Anti-Bastion” class, or players simply find good strategies against him, I definitely believe that the game already has ways to deal with it, and it’ll just take some time to find the right combinations.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-30-58-45

Overwatch let’s you be so creative; it doesn’t try to narrow down anyone’s play style. If you want to try and pull off a crazy thing that just occurred to you, go ahead. I think a factor that really adds to this creativity is the map layouts. There are so many back alleys and rooftops to access. It’s crazy trying to find all the different directions you can go, and figuring out which characters can fit to what spots. Certain heroes like “Widowmaker” (a sniper) and “Genji” (a ninja), can traverse the map differently than others. With things like grappling hooks and wall climbing, they can get onto rooftops that no one else can. However I’ve seen all sorts of characters come up with inventive ways to get to those positions. Once they do, the enemy isn’t expecting it so they’re able to get the drop on ’em. Overwatch does very little to hinder you. It gives you a set of tools and lets you go crazy. While other games are trying desperately to rein in players and limit them, it’s absolutely a pleasure to see a game that doesn’t. This title has done so much to capture my heart and give me a new FPS to obsess over(watch).

overwatch

-Jordan Kamm-

Haven Review: Battleborn

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Battleborn is the new team-based hero shooter from Gearbox. The first thing I really noticed about the game, and what has stuck with me throughout my playing experience is that it’s a lot slower than I thought it was going to be; both in game play and waiting. Honestly, in the week after its launch, the queue for games has become a lot shorter.

Battleborn takes heavy inspiration from the MOBA genre much more than it does a standard FPS. I don’t play MOBAs very often. They tend not to interest me, and when I do play it’s with some friends already invested in the genre. However, Battleborn is different. When I started playing I didn’t understand some of the key ideas surrounding the gameplay. Things like “Don’t rush in”, Take your time” and “Be precise”. Doing what I do in other FPS titles, I completely disregarded these fundamentals and got horribly destroyed…again and again. At first I didn’t like Battleborn at all and kept trying to find excuses other than “I’m just bad at it”. I didn’t seem to even be having that much fun with it, but I kept wanting to try again and see if I could get a little bit better than before; try learn how this game actually worked, and what I was doing wrong. The more I played the more I found myself enjoying it. I haven’t really gotten any good at the game, but I’m at the point where I’m “usually” not the worst person on my team. When I try not to go for kills and just stick to the aforementioned key ideas, I tend to do alright and honestly have a bit more fun with the game.20160513162144_1

As well as these over all fundamentals, it’s taken me some time to learn the fundamentals. There are over 20 characters to choose from, however only 5 of them are playable from the start. At first I wanted to play a heavy damage dealer. I was wanting Battleborn to be more of a straightforward FPS, so I tried to play the characters who I thought fit that (or ones who had giant swords, because giant swords are pretty cool, too). I was far too aggressive with these characters; running into enemies only to get killed and deal no damage. Recently the characters that I excel in are the more support ones. I tend not to like playing support, but it forces me to be less aggressive. I stay back with my team. I help out and not just suck and die. Even going back to the offensive characters, I do a little better because of what I learned playing support.

One thing that happened to me many times starting out, and something I still think is a huge problem with this game is the level system (not the overall progression system, I’ll get to that later). With each level you get, you can choose one of two options to specialize your character a little bit, and tune them more to your style of play. That’s all fine. The problem is that the primary way you level up is by getting kills. 20160520141416_1If you aren’t getting kills you aren’t leveling. Eventually you’ll be so under-leveled that you practically can’t do anything. I’ve quit half way through games because everyone else was three or four levels above me…I could barely do any damage. Luckily, a way to alleviate this a little is that support characters will level if they are supporting and doing other things to help your team, like building various structures or fighting the little minions. This will give you some points to level up, but doing this is nowhere near as fast as getting kills. If you’re playing on the capture point map, rather than the MOBA map, there are virtually no minions to find and kill. This is a frustration I’ve had with most of the MOBA’s I’ve played, and Battleborn is definitely no exception.

When you complete a match, win or lose, you get experience points for both your “command level”, as well as for your particular character type. These are completely different from the in-match leveling system. The command level is your rank as a player. You get different stuff for reaching higher levels, including character unlocks and new items for your loadouts. When leveling up the character, this will unlock new options to choose in your “helix.” These are the choices you can make for each in-match level up. Unlocking these allows you to specialize your character even more. The more you play with a particular character, the more you’ll learn exactly how you like to play with them. These “helix” unlocks allow you to do just that. In order to unlock new characters you can do one of two things: You can either reach the “command” rank needed (the earliest hero will unlock at rank 10) or you can complete their challenge. Either way, it’s nice to see you can unlock all the characters through game play and there are no micro-transactions. The challenges can be anything from “win a certain amount of games” to “play as a certain faction for so many games”. You can also unlock a handful of characters through the “story mode”.20160520144445_1

The story mode is such a weird inclusion to this game. I really like the idea of it, but at the same time don’t think it’s that great. Probably the weakest part of Battleborn, the story mode is a weird combination of the multi-player game play mixed with Borderlands. It’s like Gearbox doesn’t know how to do much else. It’s “Border-Lite”, if you will. Each story mission gives you a short level to get through, and then finishes with some sort of boss. There’s really not much to them, other than the ability to unlock new characters. This may not always work out the way you want. If you decide to play a story mission, it works much the same way as multiplayer. You are put into a group and then everyone votes on which mission to play. You’re given three choices, so you better hope the one you want is among those (then hope that the others also vote for the one you want). The matchmaking for the story modes is all over the place. There isn’t any sense of grouping based on a common level. So one of two things tends to happen: You get grouped with someone way over-leveled and blow through the mission in about 10 minutes, or everyone but you is brand new to the game and you can’t complete the first half without using up all your extra lives. The stories themselves tend not to be too interesting. They consist of re-hashed Borderlands jokes, or some sort of vague rescue mission; possibly both.20160520142232_1

Battleborn is an interesting experience that I’ve had many mixed feelings about. However, the more I played it the more I’ve come to understand and enjoy it. It may not be exactly what I want in an FPS, but learning through the systems and practicing more and more has definitely made me appreciate it. At the very least it’s kept me driven to play more. It hooked me, even if at first I didn’t necessarily like being hooked.

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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.

-Jordan Kamm-