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Haven Review: Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R

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A little late then never, we got our hands on Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R on Steam and it’s time to give it our review.

Now right from the start the opening cutscene seems really well done, showing off yet again the characters you expect to see in the Guilty Gear franchise; from Sol Badguy to Ky, and Bridget as well the notorious transvestite that has had many a young boy questioning their sexuality. Nah, I’m kidding, but when they reveal Bridget as a guy it does get pretty hilarious.Guilty-Gear-XX-Accent-Core-Plus-R-not-work Now once we get to the menu I’m slightly confused, as I have music blaring into my headset and it’s really hard to navigate and focus with it. But at long last I found the options menu, only to discover the sound is not there for whatever reason. I noticed afterwards that the sound is a completely separate option, and lowered the sound. It seems ridiculous though, not to have all the options in one spot.

You would think that with a port they would do a little more fine-tuning and make sure it’s all good, but they couldn’t be bothered with that. So after that, we move into the training mode where we just get a feel for the controls. Just like all the previous Guilty Gear titles, there is nothing wrong with them. The game controls fine and it’s very responsive. In fact I’d go as far as to say it responds better than the previous titles did, and was really easy to pick up.GG1-620x

So we break into Story Mode playing as my favorite character, Ky (mainly because of his notable blue and white outfit that is the reverse of my own coat). Loading up with Ky I get a feel for the story and its general setup is a bit disappointing. They just move the characters’ faces over the top of the screen so signify who is talking, before going to the combat. The most ridiculous part about the entire thing is that there is a robotic Ky now who begins to shout almost religiously that data is the only truth of the universe. GG3-620xBut the robotics Ky designs is literally one of the worst things I have ever seen in general for anime-styled character, as well as it using the trope that because it was based off the original and it’s a robot it must be superior.

Conclusion: though the game is pretty solid for a fighting-style title, it ultimately lacks the appeal of a promising story. It also suffers from poor menu management. Other than that, it remains solid overall.

-Daniel Clatworthy-
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Haven Review: Stella Glow

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.

SGCoverRGBStella Glow is yet another title from the Atlus game company, and being honest the last few titles from them have been less than enjoyable. These include Legend of Legacy and Etrian Odyssey II, so I go into this with low expectations.

However right from the start, I noticed another company had a hand in making this title; my old friend SEGA. The game started and I was instantly taken to a screen where apparently a previous protagonist is being engulfed in some type of fire; he is dying as his teammates look on. So now I’m intrigued as I try to struggle with looking past the flames that are burning and engulfing me, and a promise is made so that no one else will have to suffer the same way.

The game soon cuts to a girl named Lisette in the village of Mithra, talking about a previous hero who stopped God’s wrath by sacrificing himself.Stella-Glow-Hilda_11-04-15 I assume this to be the previous protagonist from the cut-scene. Before long she learns that her adopted brother is off in the forest hunting, and she runs after him. As soon as they meet they’re tossed into the first battle of the game!

Combat is in the form of a Final Fantasy style tactic, with the twist that players are allowed to move around the board only a certain number of steps. When he gets close to an enemy he can attack. The game instructs the player to attack rear flanks, as enemies are weaker there. Upon attacking you are treated to a nice cut-scene of the player battling with the monster. It was a nice change from what I’ve seen in other game titles. It also gives a nice look at character appearance, in an in-depth…albeit chibi design. After the battle ends and you continue on with the story, you are treated to some spectacular voice acting that made me just want to play the game even more. The voices felt like they belonged with the characters. I also noticed that the voice actors never once went off script, where as in other games the text would say one thing and the voices another. Everything was precise and to the point, explaining the story so I wouldn’t get lost.2954587-harbingers+2

As I continued on with the game, Lisette soon became a witch and I was told to tune her soul, which played out as you would expect. No hidden mini-game, no random hidden feature, just a small story cut-scene again where I talk to her and am given some “yes” or “no” options. I was a little confused when the prologue was over. It said the story is now mine to tell, but through playing the game there was very little room for customization (outside of character creation).

The game itself is very limiting as well, as to what the player can actually do. Through my entire time playing, it felt as if the story was just advancing without much of my input. At times I felt forced to grind away.Stella-Glow-Dated-JP_03-09-15 I get that a role-playing game wants to tell a story, but it felt more like a Telltale game where I don’t get a choice between going to point A or to point B. I was just forced to do it.

Overall though, despite that one flaw with the game, I have been having a good time playing through and I wish there was more I could do. But I suppose some things are just not meant to be. I recommend picking up Stella Glow if you have the money laying around, as it’s a fun title and the story to me at least is fairly good; even with its blatant attempt at a materia-like setup for its weapons.

-Daniel Clatworthy-
Stella

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Haven Review: The Evil Within

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.

g2d4bwl Can you survive the horrid mindscape made of blood and brains? The Evil Within is a gruesome affair, with thundering abominations and lethal traps around every corner waiting to tear you apart. To build upon the rather depressing atmosphere, the color palette is drab and diluted, with monsters that are not unlike zombies. Make no mistake, the enemies are a lot more tenacious and intelligent than the ones from the Resident Evil series (from which this game takes its inspiration). On that note, the game feels and controls much like Resident Evil, only more tightly. This is survival horror in every name of the word.

The ever-changing and unpredictable nature of the environment and the violent scene transitions, combined with very little ammo, makes it a harrowing experience. Most games have buckets of ammo or make the monsters into bullet sponges; this game does not. The controls are indeed quite simple and intuitive. One stick moves the character, the other controls the camera. The left trigger is aiming, while the right is shooting. The default camera angle uses an over-the-shoulder, almost “second person” view if you will; a standard affair these days.

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What really made my experience enjoyable were the rare but welcome quick-time events (QTE). This means that you cannot die during a brutal cut scene because you failed to press “A” on time. The only time this comes into play is when interacting with enemies, such as when being strangled or prying open a door. The story’s delivery method is well done; it dives into the mind of the characters and gradually explains what the hell is going on.

During the course of the story you’ll unlock the typical weapons that have been a staple in Shinji Mikami games. These include a boring but practical generic police revolver, a shotgun for going up close and personal, an ever-so-powerful magnum with a very tight ammo budget, generic grenades that go boom and a sniper rifle for things far away. The only unique weapon is the crossbow, which has a lot of custom ammunition and is actually crafted from disarmed traps. Crossbow bolts comes in a tasteful variety. 2443259-the+evil+within+screenshot_1383569070The harpoons nail things to the wall, while the flash bolts blind your enemies. Then you have the shocking electric bolts, as well as the freezing bolts that put things on ice. Around the maps there are vials of green gel that can be used to upgrade the main hero.

Despite having an armory of guns, it’s often more useful to sneak around and stealth-kill your adversaries, or distract them by throwing bottles. Sometimes hiding in lockers or under a bed is a more viable strategy then to punch enemies in the head; they take a lot of punishment. This especially holds true in the DLC, since there you have no gun! Due to the nature of the game, there are a lot of collectibles and some interesting achievements, as well. A notable thing to try in the DLC are the higher game difficulties. I dare you to navigate the DLC in total darkness with only a flashlight to guide your way!

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People loose their head from time to time.

The game is very well put together with a decent run length and a lot of replay-ability. It took me at least 16 hours to complete the game and yes, I died a lot. So will you. I cant really say that The Evil Within is a scary game unless blood, barbed wire and gruesome death animations tend to gross you out. I dare say that the game uses the most awesome special effects and transitions I’ve ever seen in this genre. The soundtrack is okay for the most part, but it can get a bit grating and old quickly. Luckily it can be turned off. I only had one big problem: the un-skippable death scenes and camera interruptions whenever an event steals the focus. It gets on my nerves when I die three times in a row and I cant skip the scene.

This is not a game for people with epilepsy or who are unsuited to view graphic violence. Due to the gallons of blood and occasional decapitation, let all parents be warned before purchasing this game as a well-meant birthday or holiday present!

Incidentally, if you aren’t going to play the game personally or simply want to see it in action first, here’s my Let’s Play:

And a link to to the steam store page.

-Njål Sand-

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