I’m typically pretty good at rhtyhm games, even if that word is impossible to spell correctly. It’s always interesting to see the intersection of ryhthym games into other genres like previously-covered rhyhtm platformer-brawler Klang.
Not entirely dissimilar from Klang comes 140, a hyper-stylish ultraminimalist ryhtm platformer. It’s as straghtforward as it gets- level elements change or move according to the music, and you must navgiate the platforming challenges created thus. It’s more than just catching onto the beat, with different parts of the level reacting to different parts of the music- some things change every second beat, while others are on every fourth beat, for instance, meaning you have to react to the timing of different elements at the same time. It’s neat.
Fin or Bin:
I would love to put this in the Fin pile, it’s absolutely my kind of thing. Unfortunately, the background is a full-screen visualiser for the audio, and is constantly in motion. It’s disorienting when you’re grounded, and outright dizzying when you’re moving across gaps. How much of an effect that will have probably depends on the person, but I’m sensitive to it and after 30 minutes I felt really quite unwell, a feelling I couldn’t shake for hours after I stopped. As cool as the game is, I’m not going to make myself sick for it. I recommend 140 if you’re not photosensitive at all, but if you do suffer any kind of issues with that be very cautious. Here’s one of the more regrettable Bins I’ve had to make.
Ys Origin is one of my most favourite games of all time, and together with Ys I&II tells a pretty great self-contained story.
Then they kept making Ys games, and… it all got a bit shonen. As a result, the storyline is absolute nonsense by this point, and if you’re worried you won’t be able to follow the plot at any given point from Ys 3 onwards, fear not; all you need to know is the following:
Post-shipwreck, Adol Christin and his very best friend Dogi The Wall-Crusher accidentally get embroiled in the most cataclysmic event ever to happen to the lands they’re currently in, three or four different very attractive girls fall for Adol, they defeat some kind of grand evil, and then Adol leaves it all behind to go get shipwrecked somewhere else.
However!!! The story is not why you’re here, beyond Origin/I/II. You’re here because Ys has some of the most satisfying combat ever– relentlessly fast, fluid, challenging dungeon crawling followed by utterly monstrous boss fights that will make you regret every choice you’ve made up to that point. Ys Seven does NOT disappoint in that regard, although it’s definitely the most cutscene-heavy of the YS games I’ve played.
Entirely aside from the game itself, the music in Ys games is always amazing. Falcom has their own in-house band, Falcom JDK, who combine metal and acoustic violin in an utterly flawless way.
It’s hard to sell it more than that. If you’re new to the series, you can totally start here if you want- I personally would suggest Origin as the first one, but that’s just personal bias (Yunica <3).
Fin or Bin:
I literally own a PSP only for this game. It’s taken a shamefully long time to get here, but Finishing it will be worth the wait. I adore these games.
‘Interactive picture book’, the reviews on Steam all call it, and having Finished it I can agree. The eponymous old man receives a letter and heads out on a journey not only across land and sea, but through his own story- one that explores the cost of following your dreams.
To guide the old man on his journey, you play with the perspective and elevation of his storybook environment to create paths from one area to the next. It’s simple and low-stress with no fail case.
Fin or Bin:
You will, very early on, be met with thoughts of “I’m going to cry by the end of this, aren’t I”. Yes. Yes you are. Embrace it. It took about 90 minutes to Finish, so give yourself an evening to spend on this journey.
‘Endless’ runner (although there are levels to complete) played from first-person perspective, it feels more suited to being a mobile game, and far more suited to being a VR game. I think in VR the sense of speed would be quite a rush, with the vector graphics keeping things from becoming too overhwelming.
Well, it’s not VR and I don’t have a headset anyway, so what I played was instead a Basically Fine runner that has some problems with telegraphing upcoming jumps and obstacles.
Fin or Bin:
Levels consist of reaching the end, with optional score targets to strive for if that’s your scene. It’s over with fairly quickly if not. To put it frankly, the asking price of $15 is absurd, but you might get an afternoon out of it if you can get it on sale or through Trove like I did. It’s fine, but I’m never gonna play it again, so that’s a Bin.
Double-clicking a thing repeats your last action, whether that was Observe, Take, Kick, or Use Mouth On (which usually means talking), and I don’t understand how that control decision lasted beyond concept. If anything, default it to Observe on double click, and Interact on right click? Or just have a default Most Likely option for each thing and let me choose if I want to do something different? I obviously do not want to Take the shopkeeper, or Use Mouth On the terminal. C’mon.
Oh, and, and! One puzzle required looking at a business card to find a telephone number, right? But Observing the business card didn’t do it, I had to Take the business card- except he doesn’t take it, he looks at it then puts it back! C’mon!
Fin or Bin:
It’s winter and I’m prickly! I’ll give you another chance when I take you out of the Recycle Bin and hopefully I’ll have the patience for this nonsense!!!
Do me a favour, and read this post in a slightly bewildered tone of voice.
‘Slightly bewildered’ pretty much sums up my time with Tiny Echo, a game far more artistic than I have the intelligence for.
You are… an eyeball person, who is also a postal service worker, tasked with delivering letters to the fey creatures of a strange dreamscape world filled with forests and caves.
Or… actually, you deliver the letters to their shadows? Which then pass it along to their spirits, or something? And it wakes the spirit up? I think?
I enjoy artsy games, but I still need them to make sense to me in a way more concrete than ‘it’s up to your own interpretation!’. Tiny Echo’s a little beyond my ken.
Fin or Bin:
The hand-drawn art is gorgeous, and if you’re a person who can derive meaning from the surreal you’ll probably get something out of this. I’m not. I don’t get it at all. It’s important to state I’m Binning it for my own personal taste, and not because I think it’s a bad game.
About as opposite from Sniper Elite as it gets, Renegade Ops treats military tactics with as much delicacy as a rocket propelled grenade. It’s like Desert Strike chugged a 6-pack of Monster and read through every comic currently stocked in its local comicks shoppe.
High octane action, to be sure, and with a friend it’d probably be a blast. You can probably feel that Beebs-brand ‘but’ coming…
But single-player is pretty shallow, and the game just kind of routinely forgets what my mission is to start a new one. Rescue the prisoners, got it- oh, now I have to destroy the incoming tanks? But the prisoners are still- alright, now I’m a helicopter, and- what incoming battleship???
The difficulty is stacked a little too high for how much it wants you to disengage your brain, and there are some enemy weapons which I never managed to figure out how to even avoid.
Elsewhere (although in a game like this I don’t really count it as a strong negative), the narrative suffers a similar problem to Strike Suit Zero in that I kind of feel like I’m playing the bad guys? It’s only that our enemy is so bombasitcally super-villainous that we seem like we’re in the right at all. During one mission we stole a nuclear warhead from the enemy, for our commanding officer to immediately say “let’s return it to sender!”. Hmmmmm?
Fin or Bin:
It’s fun. Definitely fun. With a friend, or on the Easy difficulty which gives infinite lives, there’s an evening’s worth of laughs to be found here. I think before long the single player will end up frustrating me, though. Damned homing missiles. Bin!
I pretty much only knew this game as ‘the game that shows in graphic detail what happens when you shoot a man in the bollocks’, since that’s kind of its USP, but ultragraphic violence aside- here’s a fairly decent stealth-em-up with an emphasis on sniping, which happens to be my favourite way of approaching most shooters.
The sniping has realistic ballistics, meaning you need to lead your shots and account for wind and distance when aiming. It’s all very impressive, and when you line up a shot perfectly you get treated to a cinematic slow motion bullet-cam scene of your bullet impacting and then exiting your victim. It’s kind of gross and gratuitous, and interrupts the flow of gameplay a lot during a firefight, and I very quickly turned it off.
The stealth is pretty weak. Enemy soldiers have psychic powers and once one sees you (bearing in mind these guys could probably spot you from space) everyone knows where you are. Excepted from this are the enemy snipers, who just automatically know where you are but for some reason never let their buddies know about it.
Fin or Bin:
I am enjoying the sniping, though. (Un)fortunately the glitch in the video above has only occured one time, so hopefully that was just a really unlucky random chance and the game isn’t actually that buggy. I guess I’ll find out- this one’s a Fin.
(Steam – Only the remastered version is available any more, which isn’t what I’m playing)
Famously(?), I don’t have any stomach for roguelikes. ‘Play for as long as you can until you die then do it again with different loadouts’ doesn’t entice me whatsoever, and couple that with random level layouts and random item drops make for a game you can’t learn or anticipate which, for me, is a huge turn off. Add prefab rooms, with the same layouts, and the same puzzles, in the same places… Yeah, rogue-likes and procedural generation are immediate turn-offs for me.
Not that I mean to imply Tower Of Guns has any particular depth. It pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. There’s a tower, it’s full of guns, climb the tower and shoot the guns.
Fin or Bin:
I’m not at all versed enough in the way these games work to know if this is a good attempt at making one. If Unreal Tournament crossed with Torchlight sounds like a good time, you’ll probably like it. For me, it’s going in the Bin.