A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019) Review

A Plague Tale Innocence is the first game in a new video game series from developers Asobo Studios, It was published in 2019 by Focus Interactive for the PS4, Xbox One and PC with a PS5, Xbox Series X/S releases coming out in 2021 Cloud based releases also came out for the Nintendo Switch and Amazon Luna. I played the PS5 version of the game so my opinions are mostly based on that version of the game.

The game takes place between the years 1348 and 1349 in France during the Black Plague and the 100 year war. You play the game as Amicia De Rune who is trying to escape the French Inqusition who want to take away her sick 5 year old brother Hugo so they can run experiments on him due to something in his blood. Since the game also takes place during the plague outbreak avoiding infected rats is also a major key to survival.

The game has a very high focus on stealth, in fact I would argue that this is almost the entire game, I dont mind stealth but I have always struggled with it and normally die a whole bunch which was no different here. I was surprised with how much I actually really enjoyed the stealth gameplay though.

I like how the entire experience is like a puzzle, you can attack enemies with your slingshot to kill them but throughout your journey you do unlock new ways to use your sling with a crafting system, you can make fire, extinguish flames and do an attack that forces soldiers to remove their helmets.

You can even find other ways to get rid of enemies such as throwing rocks and pots to lure them away from your location or you can create a sleeping solution to knock them out, the goal of the game is not to avoid violence but to avoid being seen and it is really fun to figure out different ways to achieve this. Hugo makes this difficult because he is only a child and gets upset if you go too far away from him so for the majority of the game you are holding his hand and need to be sneaky while also making sure to keep him safe as well.

The way that rats work is they only attack in the dark and always come out in groups that will eat you alive. You need to stay in the light or find other ways to distract them, I don’t want to spoil too much but one way to distract the rats is to encourage them to eat the enemies, you can do this by extinguishing enemy fires or by throwing a smelly solution at the French Soldiers to over-empower your own scent. As for Hugo’s secret blood and abilities I wont discuss them in this review as that would be a major spoiler for the game but I will go into a lot more detail when we discuss the upcoming sequel.

Sometimes during the game you have allies that you need to command to help you take out enemies or finish puzzles, this doesn’t happen too often but whenever did happen the game was clear with its hints and I didn’t have too much trouble.

The game looks great visually it fits the theme of desolation, loss and fear that a lot of people had during the time period, the abandoned villages and mass hysteria of certain groups reminds me of the early days of something we all had to suffer through recently and I want to make it clear that in my spare time I am a massive history fanboy. The Black Plague is something I have researched a lot over the years and while of course this is a video game so it does over exaggerate certain things it is what I would expect from a game based during those troubling times. It even makes an effort to be somewhat historically accurate, above you can see white crosses on the doors and in the game Amecia explains that people in those houses have been locked in as they have caught the plague and this is actually true to historical evidence although the crosses were more commonly painted in either red or black.

The soundtrack for the game was composed by Olivier Deriviere a French videogame composer best known for the Alone in the Dark Series. The Music here is very eerie and gives off chilling vibes of loneliness and an odd sense of calm. There isn’t really a lot of big action in the game so the music tends to fit the slower pace with it’s composition and while I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to listen to it I do appreciate what we were given and I look forward to seeing if the composition changes much in the sequel.

A Plague Tale Innocence is best described as a great experience but not one you would really want to revisit straight away, the core gameplay is really good and it works to tell a fantastic and emotional story of two struggling siblings during one of the most horrific pandemics in History. The biggest issue with the game is that it is much too linear, there are collectables but for the most part you are on one path with very little room for exploration, I wish there was more too it perhaps some side quests or morale choices that effect the outcome of your journey, maybe the possibility to play the game in co-op would have been a good addition considering that out of the entire story only a handful of chapters focus on one character.

The game is one of the more affordable options for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, in fact I got this sealed for a measly £20 and for that price its a bargain, I just hope the next chapter in the adventures of Amecia and Hugo just offers a little bit extra and that big reveal at the end plays a much bigger role next time.

7/10

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling

The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter franchise, it was written by J.K Rowling and released in the summer of 2003. This will have spoilers so if you don’t want to see those you may want to skip this

In the book Harry is facing the ministry of magic in a wizarding court after he casts magic outside of school to save his cousin Dudley from the dementors kiss.

Before the hearing Harry is collected by a group of wizards and witches known as the Order of the Phoenix who take him to number 12 Grimmauld Place the childhood home of his god father Sirius Black. The Order of Phoenix is a secret organisation created by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore with the goal to fight against Lord Voldemort and his Army. The order has gained many members over the years but some of the most recognisable names are Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Abefore Dumbledore, Mad Eye Moody, Lily and James Potter, Arthur and Molly Weasly and Nymphadora Tonks.

After the trial a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher called Delores Umbridge was hired at Hogwarts, as a member of the Ministry of Magic she believes herself to be of a much higher hierarchy and while she puts on a sweet natured appearance she is actually one of the most sadistic and evil characters in the franchise.

Of course Harry does eventually manage to get his name cleared when evidence that he was defending Dudley is brought to light but its quite clever how this trial plays into the beliefs and emotions of other characters. Some students start to believe that Harry may have killed Cedric Diggory during the Tri Wizard Cup and due to strange dreams he is having which all end up becoming true even Headmaster Albus Dumbledore keeps his distance for the majority of the school year even though it was for good reasons explained much later into the novel.

Delores takes a particular dislike to Harry Potter during detentions she make him write lines that would then cut into his arms and wrists leaving him bleeding and in pain, she even goes as far as to attempt the cruciatis curse but is quickly stopped. For those who don’t know the cruciatis curse is one of the most dangerous illegal spells due to its intense pain and eventually turning its receivers to insanity, the most famous case was how it was used to torture and destroy the minds of Alice and Frank Longbottom.

Another character worth mentioning here is Grawp the half brother of Hagrid, Grawp is a full blooded giant but is still considered short in stature for the species, in the book he lives in the forbidden forest and is being taken care of by Hagrid, Grawp has some serious communication difficulties and struggles with understanding his own strength and peoples personal boundaries.

Of course the book also very sadly gives us the murder of Sirius Black who was killed by Bellatrix la strange in the department of mysteries. This death always hits me quite hard since Sirius Black is easily one of my favourite characters in the franchise.

Some of the differences to the movie worth highlighting are that once again in the movies I think the fact that in the book both Ron and Hermione become prefects is worth mentioning, of course Sytherin gets Prefect Draco as well giving the bully even more power than hes ever deserved.

In the film Neville steals one of Dobby the House Elf’s biggest moments that being the discovery of the Room or Requirement where Harry eventually teaches students how to produce protronuses and other difficult spells as he build Dumbledores Army.

A change that really caught me of guard was that in the book Cho Chang is not the person who told Umbridge about Dumbledores army and infact it was actually another Ravenclaw student called Marietta Edgecombe.

Another detail left from the movie was the reveal that Umbridge sent the dementors after Harry Potter as the Ministry didn’t want the return of Voldemort to become public knowledge, just going to show how evil she really is and how messed up the Ministry can be as well.

Overall I did enjoy this book but so far it has been my least favourite and it just never grabbed my attention like previous titles in the series. Coming back to Harry Potter from the last book this was disappointing in the sense that it just kinda drags in places and is a little hard to follow, it just seems like so much is going on and its hard keep track at times. It does have some great action sequences and one of my favourite villains being Umbridge, also the scenes that show Snape’s past with Lily Potter are very well written and show the potions master in a much more sympathetic light. I also think its important that James Potter was shown to be a bully to Snape as it does really explain his hatred towards Harry since his birth practically brought on James death along with Lily leaving Snape heartbroken.

I would argue that this is a really good book but I just much preferred the Goblet of Fire and just hope that the 6th book in series manages to become a new favourite of mine.

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022) Review

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first fully 3D platformer in the Kirby series, it was developed by Hal Laboratories and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch videogame system in March 2022.

During his morning stroll across the Planet Popstar, Kirby and the the waddle dee’s are sucked into a mysterious dark vortex. Kirby awakens on a quiet beach and soon find himself in a land left to rot and succumb to neglect, the waddle dee’s have been stolen and its up to Kirby to fight his way across the various forgotten landscapes with the help of his new friend Elfillin and his brand new mouthful mode abilities in order to save his friends and defeat the cause of the vortex.

The gameplay while it is technically a 3D platformer it is quite linear apart from the occasional secret path which hides secrets. The game is split into 6 main worlds each with a different elemental theme and while fairly simple the levels do hide various collectables and each have missions to complete, this was a nice addition as it added additional challenge to the normal difficulty mode and added some replay value. The way the game feels is very similar to Super Mario 3D World with how it uses its camera angles and hides certain routes behind the need for various copy abilities.

Copy abilities are nothing new to the Kirby franchise becoming a staple after 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure for the NES, for those who don’t know Kirby can suck up enemies and consume their powers, gaining abilities such as bombs, drills, boomerang, sword, fire, ice and much more. In this game you can also pay coins and rare stones to upgrade these abilities once you discover blueprints hidden in certain stages.

Also new to the game is Mouthful Mode, Kirby is now able partially consume very large things which he can wrap his body around to control, here I have shown the cone that can body slam metal crates and break broken ground and the the car which can be used to travel fast and jump large gaps. I wont go over anymore of these as they really are one of the best things to discover in the game and with it still being fairly new at the time of writing this I don’t want to spoil the experience.

The boss fights are one of the biggest highlights of the game, they are all very memorable with the adorable but slightly threatening designs which capture the themes of the series perfectly, each fight is very unique and needs to be taken on with different approaches, also each boss has a weakness to specific copy abilities and it is up to the players to figure out which ones are best to use.

In between the main stages various challenge levels open up each is very short and is a great way to master the copy abilities and mouthful transformations. Each of the levels also has a time limit to beat for extra coins and these times can get very challenging, I did all of them but they don’t add towards your 100 percent completion so are not necessary and only really go as far as bragging rights.

After the main game there is still plenty of replay value in the package, you can continue to finish the level missions to get the waddle dee’s, you can also try and master the battle arenas which are boss rushes and once finished offer big cash prizes, you can also try to fill out your complete Gatcha collection, these can be purchased from machines in the main plaza but also can be earned by completing specific tasks, you can attempt to catch the biggest fish in the pond fishing game and finally there are five post game levels and a secret true final boss to beat so make sure you do those too. 100 percent completion of the game took me just under two weeks and I still want to go back to the game to do it all over again in the future.

The game is absolutely stunning, not only is this one of the best Nintendo Switch games in years it is also one of the best visually, the amount of detail that went into the games visuals is awe inspiring, this world looks like something out of an animated film and does hold some realism in its layout and overall designs, the game has no issues with lag and runs smoothly which is great considering every last detail was considered for the game including smaller things such as fish swimming beneath you in the water, fire flickering in the wind and releasing embers and even dust particles from disrupted mounds of dirt. We expect these details from more modern hardware’s such as the offerings from PlayStation and Xbox but for the Switch this really does go to show how a smaller graphics card can have a lot to offer as well.

The soundtrack is good but I would be somewhat lying if I said it held up when compared to past titles, the more modern spin we have here is fine and some of the more rock and roll versions of songs such as King Dedede’s theme is actually pretty sick, but I think most would agree that Kirby’s music just works much better in it’s original chip tune versions. When playing the game you wouldn’t really focus on the music as it does work but personally I just much prefer what we got before.

I don’t know what else there is to say,I was slightly worried about Kirby’s transition to 3D especially since the game was only announced six months or so before release and we didn’t know much about it, some additional video footage and a demo came out that I actively avoided so that I could go into this completely blind and I think I made the right choice because not only is this now officially the best Kirby game I have ever played but it is also one of the best games I have played in a long time and I really hope this is a sign that Nintendo are going to let the Switch go out with a bang before its next console is inevitably revealed but that is a discussion for another day.

Go and buy Kirby and Forgotten land it is a new start for the franchise and is easily up there with some of the best Nintendo Switch games 10/10

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Sonic Unleashed (2008) Review

Well it’s been a while since we talked about Sonic, in fact its been over a year since we reviewed Sonic 06 so I feel it is time to hop back into the series and I’m sure that this time we will have a much better experience ………….right?

Sonic unleashed was developed by Sonic Team and released in 2008 for the PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360, It was the final main series title released for the PS2 and the first to get a Wii release. I played the PS3 version of the game so my opinion is based on that version.

Dr Eggman is back trying to destroy the planet this time by waking an evil entity known as Dark Gaia, he manages to trap Sonic in his super form using a power ray which strips away the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Eggman uses the power to then wake Dark Gaia who breaks the earth into seven pieces and also manages to put a curse on Sonic turning him into a Werehog. Sonic is blasted into space but luckily is rescued by a new friend called chip who helps guide Sonic across the globe while he tries to break his curse and return the earth and the Chaos Emeralds back to their original forms.

So whats weird with this one is that we went back to a single character campaign where we only play as Sonic, however due to the whole Werehog situation we do technically have two main variants of gameplay.

In the regular Sonic stages we run at high speeds across various continents while blasting robots and avoiding obstacles, whats new here is a super speed mechanic. Your rings do not only represent your life but also allow Sonic to run at hyper speed and completely annihilate anything that gets in his path, while in hyper speed you also attract rings towards you so its easier to collect tons of rings this way compared to the regular running mechanic.

At night you can play the Werehog stages these are much slower and focus more on combat, here you fight Dark Gaia’s minions and collect loads of experience points, when battles become too tough you can can use some of your collected energy to give your Werehog form some extra power in order to help tackle these trickier situations.

In between stages you will be exploring various hub worlds which each represent different countries, the hub worlds are not great and don’t really offer much apart from shops to buy food and souvenirs as well as hiding the occasional Sun/Moon coins and offering some extra side content.

I did manage to finish all of possession missions which involves players committing to small battle arenas and surviving onslaughts of bad guys. The other side missions are time/ring/no damage trials these are fine enough but a big issue I have with the game is that they keep repeating the same stages for these challenges for example in the time trials the game will ask you to finish the stage in 3 minutes then the challenge will be to do the same level in 2 minutes. I understand you don’t have to commit to these missions but I still think that some more creativity and implementing some of the optional stages would have worked a lot better.

The main levels work pretty well, I had very little issue due to gameplay problems and overall I found both types pretty satisfying, I really enjoyed the high speed action of the Sonic stages but also appreciated the more brawl based stages with the Werehog, I did find the final stage a little too long but I did die a lot and ended up clocking in at around 90 minutes.

The game for a PS3 title is very visually appealing I love the dark colours and glowing enemies at night and during the day time stages the details of the backgrounds are really quite impressive especially considering that even with the high speed action there is little to no issue rendering background details. I also really like that the game takes place in different countries not only because it represents various cultures but also makes each level feel very unique and special in their own ways. I do wish the hub worlds were a little bigger and hid more secrets for us to find, they are very small areas that are linear and quite limited in what they offer but I can appreciate that they were not the main focus of the game and this probably doesn’t bother many other players.

The soundtrack is really good! The main vocal track Endless Possibilities is great and singer Jared Reddick knocks it out of the park, various stages carry that rocking vibe we are used too with these games now but also there is a certain amount of diversity to represent the country you are currently playing in making sure to show appreciation for the various cultures explored throughout the adventure.

Sonic Unleashed is a massive improvement to the atrocity that was Sonic 06 the gameplay here while not perfect at least doesn’t feel broken and is enjoyable, if the game has any sins its biggest is how mediocre and somewhat forgettable it is. I loved the music and the day time stages but nothing else really stood out to me as being what I consider a great Sonic experience, visually those Werehog stages are stunning and while they are decent levels they can be a little long and dont really hold their satisfaction from a gameplay perspective. Personally I think they should have had the ability to turn into the Werehog implemented into all stages and allowed players to Switch between both forms quickly and freely.

The cultural representation of the hub worlds is obviously really important and I feel Sonic Team did an ok job but again these are quite empty and could have had a lot more secrets to find as well as offer better and more creative side content and missions.

As a final note I will say that this game was acceptable, in certain areas it works extremely well but struggled with everything else so what we were left with was a small amount of great content surrounded with a lot of uninspired and in someways lazy game design so I think a 6/10 is a very fair score and I can only hope that next time when we take a look at Sonic Colours we finally get back to the flawless gameplay I know this series can pull off.

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Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One (2021) Review

Based on the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is the latest Sherlock Holmes videogame, it was developed and published by Frogswares for the PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X with versions for last gen consoles coming soon.

This is an origin story for our favourite detective so you wont be seeing Dr Watson in the game. The Plot actually sees a younger Sherlock Holmes returning to the Island of Cordona to revisit his family home and try to find out why his mother died.

He is joined by his imaginary friend Jon who acts as his conscience but at times seems to have a mind of his own.

While figuring out the answers to one of his biggest family secrets word of his unique detective skills gets around and young sherlock finds himself solving various different mysteries before he can finally get some answers.

The game is an open world Action/Mystery videogame based in the early 1800’s. It differs from a lot of other open world games as their is very little action segments and those that do exist can be skipped with very little effect to the player.

The Main Quest is very short and in order to get the most out of the game you really need to be focussing on the side cases and collectables.

The Gameplay is all very similar throughout the experience, you are a detective putting clues together to solve crimes, there are various ways to do this but some of the most frequent ways to solve a case are by examining a crime scene, you can view certain objects to gather information and you can even check for much smaller details such as blood spots on the carpets or scratches in woodwork etc.

Some people wont speak to Sherlock in his expensive suit so putting on different disguises is absolutely necessary, these can be purchased from various street sellers, you can also purchase furniture for your home from sellers across the island.

There are three archives you can visit, Police (Crimes), Cordona Chronicle (News) and Cordona City Hall (Official/Legal Documents). Depending on your clue you need to decide which will be the most useful to visit, you first need to select your clue from your case file then you can choose three key words to try and match some further information. For example if I was looking for a news article about an escaped monkey in Scaladio 100 years ago I would visit Cordona Chronicle and would search 1700’s – Front Page – Scaladio and that would then match the correct information.

Once you have enough of an idea of how a crime was committed you will be able to enter Sherlocks imagination where he can individually choose positions and actions to determine the most likely possibility of a crime before making his final decision in his mind palace.

Some items you collect during investigations can be chemically analysed to find out what certain stains or substances are. This process requires players to complete a small math puzzle where they need to find clever ways to match the required outcome by either dividing, adding, subtracting or doubling numbers.

The mind palace is where sherlock is able to connect all of his clues and make his final judgement of who is the culprit and how they should be punished, this normally results in whether he lets them go or reports them to the authorities but in more serious cases he can even suggest the death sentence.

The cases are almost perfect from a gameplay perspective you really do feel like a detective but if there is one issue I would say that Jon should have been a developed a little differently, throughout the game he constantly complains when you make mistakes but the game isn’t very clear on what direction you should be heading in, the clues are very complex in areas and I think that Jon maybe should have been used more as a hint system or a way to help players with trickier clues. I used a walkthrough more than once and I am not ashamed to admit that because this game can be really hard at times due to its lack of direction.

While the detective and mystery elements of the game really shine I feel its combat is a little lackluster, thankfully as I have already stated you can skip these but in case you want to do them, the idea is to shoot off armour and use the environment to stun enemies so you can arrest them, you can kill people but you will be penalised for this.

The problem with the combat is that its really slow paced and because of the lack of ways to interact and stun enemies it gets repetitive very quickly, towards the end of the game I found myself really enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to do these parts.

While your running around the island, eves dropping on locals and solving side cases there are actually 24 hidden treasures you can find by using photographic clues given to you by the treasure master.

These are actually quite cryptic and really challenging to find, they are a great way to have a break from the rest of the game which all follows a very similar gameplay pattern and there are some trophies to unlock if you collect these.

The game is lacking in its visuals, graphically its not really up to scratch with the modern hardware its been released on however that is not to say that it isn’t impressive. This is not a triple A game and it had a much smaller budget than some other games on modern systems, It doesn’t even have a physical release which says a lot in how much money was able to be pumped into it, what is really impressive is how the developers managed to make the world so realistic and immersive. The 1800 style really works in the games favour for being pretty cool to explore especially for fans of history. The load times are really fast and there is no issue with background items loading in too late. The developers were really clever with how they managed to hide invisible barriers, by putting Sherlock on an Island they are able to allow him to explore almost anywhere that he can walk too, he cant jump so he is restricted to the ground and since he cant swim the only barrier is the ocean which drowns him when entered. Smart game design like this allows players to remain immersed in the gameplay without obvious blocks taking away from the experience.

The soundtrack isn’t too special but I don’t think it needed to be, the small music tracks it uses are very simple and mellow, I does pick up during combat for the most part you are so focused on solving cases you forget the music is even there, so unfortunately I don’t have much to say about the OST here apart from its neither good nor bad.

Sherlock Holmes Chapter One was a lot better than I expected, I really enjoyed the freedom that came with the open world, I spent a lot of time focussing on the side content and really going after all the trophies which I did manage to pull off, they are quite easy to get and a good chunk are rewarded for making certain moral decisions and doing Jon’s various challenges.

The main quest line is fine enough but its very short especially on a second playthrough so again you really will want to do everything to get your moneys worth with this one, especially since you will be paying a fair bit on money as the game is not cheap for digital only.

Overall I really enjoyed this game but even with all of impressive features its got some pretty serious issues in its gameplay, the combat is creative but badly pulled off, again you can skip these but that’s still no excuse, the main puzzle solving and the mystery parts are really cool but a little bit too cryptic at times which can effect peoples enjoyment as just little hints would have been useful to help get us in the right direction without having to use the internet.

However I did get excited to play this game whenever I got the chance, even though I did use a walkthrough a couple of times I was still really invested in the story and cases I was solving, I thought the world was really well animated, it felt how I would imagine the 1800’s to be and the characters were all really interesting. I think it was a great choice to do an origin story as well before Sherlock becomes famous, who knows maybe one day we will get another game in this style, perhaps with Dr Watson?

6/10

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Book Reviews: The Devils Whispers by Lucas Hault

I was very kindly sent this book by the publisher TCK Publishing.

Here is a link to their website and a link to purchase the book on Amazon

A famous Lawyer Gerard Woodward is requested to visit Lord Mathers to discuss his final affairs as he lays upon his deathbed.

This professional visit quickly becomes a nightmare when Gerard notices odd behaviours around the castle, he is locked in his room every night and is forbidden to explore without supervision.

After climbing across the castle walls from his window Gerard finds access into the castle and soon realises that he has been trapped amongst some of the most despicable and evil creatures he has ever come across.

These creatures are called Xana and originated from Asturian Mythology and often disguise themselves as a woman to lure in lonely young men.

This book is very heavily inspired by Dracula and has a lot of similarities it begins in a castle with the protagonist, a professional man trying to sort out legal affairs and in both books this protagonist soon realises the sinister activities that are at play.

In Dracula the vampire cannot stand garlic and in this book the Xana cannot stand onions, both stories also use diary entries to tell the story from the perspective of various people.

In light of the author this diary style is a lot harder to write than you would expect, it takes a lot more planning than a standard book due to the fact of having to focus on various writers you need to change styles in order to fit said person and their perspective of events. Also making sure that everything that is written makes sense while always ensuring that you can consistently switch narratives without getting mixed up or lost in your own explanations and story telling.

Lucas Hault actually writes these diary entries really well, it was actually quite nice to read another book in this style as I think a lot of authors are intimidated by it, personally I haven’t read a book like this since Dracula so I appreciated to go back to this style and to see it written so well.

The book has not had the best reviews, I did a bit of research and found that a lot of people were complaining that it was so similar to Dracula and while I do agree that it definitely needs to be looked at for a re-write in this aspect, I also think a lot people are not giving credit where it is due.

The book comes across like a fan re-write of the Bram Stoker classic but it is creative in a lot of areas, first of all the choice to use a folklore creature is a very unique idea and not what I expected, also when the story gets interesting it does get you hooked. The problem I have is that the beginning and ending of the book completely held my attention but the middle segment really seemed to drag and quickly became uninteresting, I found myself enjoying Gerard’s character and even though I enjoyed the writing when other character were telling their diary pages I just wanted to go back to Gerard’s again and see what he was doing.

So this leaves me at a bit of an awkward moment because I cant really say that I fully enjoyed this book, I read it twice just to make sure and my opinion still stands that Lucas Hault is a good writer, his writing style is fine he is a new author and will get a lot better over time. This book could have been something really unique if it had a little bit more originality the Xana being the creature is great but it definitely feels like Lucas Hault read Dracula and then decided to have a crack at it himself, he had a somewhat original story but its structure is too close to a much more better written and historically beloved book which The Devils Whisper does not in anyway come close to even competing with.

I will end this with a message to the Author, Lucas you have talent and clearly you are creative but if possible I recommend a re-write of this so that it can have a much clearer identity and wont be compared to what its inspired by. If you decide to write another horror I would recommend trying to do something different than is expected, try and write something which does compare to other stories and one day you very well could find yourself a very successful author.

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Alan Wake (2010) Review

Alan Wake is a game that I have avoided since it released almost 12 years ago, it just never appealed to me but ever since getting the PS5 and there not being many budget friendly games available Alan Wakes remastered version was offered at a price I just couldn’t refuse, but how does it hold up? is it worth picking up and was I wrong to avoid it for so long?

Alan Wake describes itself as a Phycological Action Thriller and is very unique with its episode based progression, inspired by TV dramas.

It was developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft as an exclusive to its Xbox 360 videogame system and it remained an exclusive until 2021 when it was released on the PS4, Xbox One, PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S.

I played the remastered version of the game for the PS5 so my opinion is based upon my own experiences with this port.

The game is very story driven and that is its main hook, the plot of a writer being trapped in his own horror story and having to find a way to change its pages in order to save his missing wife is something I don’t think has ever been done before, it is very immersive and the commentary by Alan throughout the adventure really helps to make sense of what is going on.

You can also collect pages from the original manuscript to help explain the story in more detail although a good number of these can only be obtained on the Nightmare difficulty of the game, another collectable are the 100 coffee thermoses, these don’t do anything in the game but are available for trophy hunters.

Discussing the difficulty I feel is necessary as this is a very hard game, I played on Normal and still really struggled at first, the game is a survival horror and if not careful players can find themselves with no ammunition and very little light.

The dark is a huge theme here and is the most dangerous element of this adventure, while in the dark possessed spirits will bombard players and can take you out in only a few hits, the flash light will eventually stun them so they can be shot but this light is limited and you should try to use the back up batteries sparingly. Trying to kill every enemy is almost impossible as in most cases they keep re-appearing, so what you really need to do is try to avoid combat when you can and very strategically make your way to light sources so you can heal. Lights are also the only areas that are completely safe but of course they are few and far between so they cannot be completely relied on.

There are some “Boss fights” in the game but they are mostly just much more powerful and larger versions of the possessed, again light is your best weapon with these and I highly recommend trying to defeat them (even though some can be avoided) as certain ones will give you in game trophies.

The game is very dark in its colours and uses very little detail to help pull off its creepy and empty atmosphere, Alan is lost on his journey and is slowly figuring things out, the players see the world though his eyes and it works surprisingly well having less to focus on it gives off the effect that this is a very dark and secluded game and it helps to put more emphasis on the story, there are no side quests or open world areas as Alan Wake doesn’t need either of these to tell a very good story and it does that extremely well.

On another note the flashback segments are much more detailed and use a full colour palette, these are a nice change of pace, they don’t stay for long but are much appreciated when we do get them, they also help shine some light on Alans relationship with Alice and why they were having problems before she was taken by the darkness.

There are two DLC episodes which are included as part of the remastered package, these are titled the Signal and the Writer. I wont go into discussion about these as by doing that I will be spoiling the main games ending as these are both follow on stories which prepare players for the eventual plot of Alan Wake 2 releasing sometime next year.

The soundtrack was composed by Petri Alanko and is really good, I’ll be honest it is really rare that the game uses music and that does benefit it as it helps pull off that empty, realism and loneliness, but since the game is episode based, each episode ends with credits which all have their own song with a vocal performance and these change depending on the themes of said episode. The sound track also is used on the title screen and while the music here is very quiet and mostly matched with creepy sounds it helps to add to that atmosphere and I absolutely love it.

Alan Wake is a game I wish I played a very long time ago, I think the slower gameplay was off putting to me back then, but I am pleased to say I actually really enjoyed this one, I wasn’t hooked on it but I don’t feel like your meant to be, the game is slow and extremely difficult but tells this absolutely amazing story that is awarded to you for your survival. There isn’t really much to the game to make it addictive but I kept wanting to see where the plot was going to take me and of course the mystery of the island was really captivating and if there was any hook that was it for me, the ending definitely caught me by surprise and I am really looking forward to see where this goes in the sequel. 7.5/10

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DoughMuchDough (Edible Cookie Dough) Review

Big thankyou to the guys at DoughMuchDough for sending me a full set of their flavours.

I am genuinely so excited about working with these guys because I am big baker and I love making my own cookies and brownies. I have always found that the batter always tastes better than the final product so its really cool to see a company making my ideal treat.

https://doughmuchdough.co.uk/

There are currently six flavours available and there multiple ways to eat these. You can get them straight from the tub, warmed up in the microwave or added to other desserts and they can even be baked into actual cookies !

For now I want to try them in their most natural form and later on we will be baking them. I’m curious to see if my official ranking changes once they are baked.

Before we start lets go over some nutritional information.

It should be no surprise that edible cookie doughs are meant to be a treat so its not exactly a shock to find out that these are not very good for you. I was sent the Mini versions of the cookie doughs which each hold 2 servings.

I wont go over the nutrition for all of them but just for an example 75 grams of the most basic flavour Chip Daddy has

314 calories

11 grams of fat

50 grams of carbohydrates

3 grams of protein

0.27 grams of salt.

When you really look at whats in these little tubs its not as bad as some other brands but of course still shouldn’t be eaten too regularly.

With the boring bit of the way lets dive into these bad boys and get ranking.

Fudgy B

This is probably my least favourite but not because that its bad, Its a brownie batter and it is quite sickly, this is one that I could see myself grabbing a spoonful of every time I go into the fridge but compared to the other flavours I didn’t have many cravings for this after I tried it

Jimmies House Party

This flavour gave me some nostalgia because it has been a very long time since I have had a traditional birthday cake. This one has a vanilla batter, white chocolate chips and sprinkles. The flavour is very sweet but not too overpowering as I was eating this it reminded me of six years old, going to friends birthday party at the local Bowling club and eating that sweet and delicious cake that unfortunately had to be spilt between 30 kids.

I really enjoyed this, it was a tiny bit too sweet for me but unlike the Fudgy B I could quite happily get through half a tub in one sitting if I really wanted too, I also think this one will make really tasty cookies when bake it later on.

Sticky Noffee

This Banana flavour batter with toffee pieces tastes just like a banoffee pie. Its packed with flavour and is really nice to eat slowly because I didn’t find myself craving this one all too much I took my time with it and found myself appreciating it for it’s simplicity, I’m glad they didn’t add anything more to this one because it is really nice without being over complicated.

Chip Daddy

You know what for the most basic cookie flavour this one is pretty good, I tastes just like homemade cookie dough and the vanilla really makes a difference, I think the vanilla makes this standout its very strong but really tasty. I often make my own cookies and this tastes better than my cookie dough, I’m definitely going to start adding more vanilla to my recipe from now on.

Date Night

Valentines Day is coming up and if you want to get a unique gift for your loved one buy them a load of Date Night Cookie Dough because this is amazing! Its made of a raspberry dough which gives it a nice zing and the white chocolate chips taste really good if you heat this one up because they melt into that scrumptious fruity flavour. I cannot wait to make cookies with these !

Cherry Bomb

I might be a little bit biased here because I love cherry flavoured sweets. Cherry Bomb is outstanding this is one of the nicest things I have ever eaten in my life, its made with Cherry Bakewell cookie dough and glazed cherry pieces ! its not overly sweet and it has a really tasty and soft texture. It is just like eating spoonfuls of Bakewell’s and you just cant go wrong with this one. Also I want to point out Cherry Bakewell cookies ! seriously cannot wait to try those !!

Its the next day and its time to bake these bad boys!

On my tray I have taken on teaspoon of each mixture and rolled them into balls on my baking tray, I am going eat these in the same order as our raw cookie dough ranking you can see the flavours in the image above

Here you can see all 6 of our snack size cookies, I will eat half of each and saving he rest for another day but here is my official ranking of the baked cookies!

Jimmys House Party

This one was very subtle not overly flavourful but still very nice and I could see myself eating this cookie again, however I don’t think I would go out of my way to bake it as I much preferred its raw form because when its baked a lot of the flavours mellowed out and it was hard to appreciate it as much

Chip Daddy

This one is too no surprise just a regular cookie, it was nice but compared to the other flavours, these ones are not quite as exiting, again the vanilla is really strong and for me this time it took away from taste of the chocolate, it was good but where as its raw form I thought more vanilla really enhanced the taste in its baked form a little less would be beneficial

Sticky Noffee

This one is way better baked ! it maintains its flavours and when baked it really increases the toffee as it melts into the cookie, It tastes very similar to Sticky Toffee Pudding if only the banana flavour was level with the toffee as that may have pushed it higher in my rankings.

Cherry Bomb

These tasted just how I expected them too, I ,love Cherry Bakewells so its no surprise that cherry cookies are right down my alley, I really enjoyed the Cherry flavouring and the warm glazed Cherry pieces inside however I didn’t quite like these as much as the next two just due to preference but these are still some of the best cookies I have eaten in a long time !

Fudgy B

This was scrumptious and very tasty! It tasted very similar to a double chocolate chip cookie fresh from a bakery, this was really good and in my opinion much nicer than its original form.

Date Night

These are amazing just like its raw form that raspberry flavour is so unique in a cookie dough and when you bake these enjoy them while they are hot, those white chocolate chips melt in your mouth and they are phenomenal !

And that is just about all I can say about DoughMuchDough these guys went out of their way to send me some products and I’m not just saying this but out of all the foods I have reviewed these are by far the most unique and the coolest!.

I really appreciate them supporting me by sending me all of their flavours and I only ask that you go and pay them a visit on their website and if you would like to try these order some flavours 🙂

https://doughmuchdough.co.uk/

You can also follow them on social media at https://www.facebook.com/doughmuchdough/

https://www.instagram.com/doughmuchdough/?hl=en

twitter.com/doughmuchdough

Finally another huge thankyou to DoughMuchDough, it has been a real treat reviewing these 🙂

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

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Deathloop (2021) Review

Deathloop is a first person shooter/ puzzle game from Arkane studios, it was released in September of 2021 and has had very high review scores considering its low sales.

In the game you play as Colt an unfortunate man who has been trapped in a never ending time loop for 17 years, he is stuck on an island he cannot leave and is constantly hunted by a rival assassin called Julianna Blake. He has to repeat the same day over and over again and the only way he can break the loop is by killing all of the visionaries (Boss characters who have more skills than average AI characters) in one loop

The gameplay of Deathloop is it’s most unique feature, in the game you repeat the same things on repeat, every loop is the same and your goal never changes. This may not sound very good but its not about quick progression in an epic story, instead what Deathloop offers is very slow progression in a simple story with addictive gameplay and learning.

What I mean by learning is that it is actually impossible to kill all of the visionaries in one loop as they are never in the same area at the same time, every time you leave part of the map time progresses.

So if you have one visionary in area 1 in the morning and there is another visionary in area 3 in the morning you cannot kill both so breaking the loop is impossible. This is where the puzzle solving comes in, you need to find a way to get these guys in the same place at the same time. I dont want to go into many spoilers because the game is best enjoyed figuring stuff out for yourself but I will give one example to explain my point, I will put this in bold so you can see where to skip the spoiler if you want too.

In the game you can find an email rejecting an invitation to a party, the guest was Egon a scientist who doesn’t go as he has made a scientific breakthrough and wants to continue studying his creation.

So if you can figure how to make sure his experiment is not successful then he should attend the party which puts two people in the same place at the same time.

Puzzles like this are what make the game so addictive, I was very surprised with how much I loved playing the same thing over and over again and only making very small advances each time, and by the time that I had gathered all of the clues I needed to break the loop it only takes around 20-30 minutes to beat the game so the majority of the gameplay is getting to that point.

There are many ways to take out enemies in the game, you have your standard weapons such as guns, special guns and your knife which you can swap around to suit your playing style but the most important part of your arsenal would be your slabs

These vary and are dropped by visionaries as you kill them, Colt comes with a slab which allows him three lives before the game loops. Other slabs can give you teleportation, telekinesis or even temporary invincibility.

You can have three slabs at a time and can swap two of them as long as you they are infused to be kept during the next loop. I only really used the same two throughout the game those being the Aether and the Nexus slabs.

Aether allowed me temporary invisibility which made some stealth a lot easier and was useful for escaping tricky situations. The Nexus slab is great it allows you to connect multiple enemies at once meaning that if you connect seven enemies and assassinate one of them they would all die as you can imagine this was not only satisfying but also extremely useful for clearing entire rooms in a matter of seconds.

From a visionary perspective this game looks very impressive and don’t get me wrong these are not hyper realistic as it does use a slightly less realistic style, however the visuals are still very crisp and high quality. These don’t exactly blow you away to extent that Horizon Hidden West might when that releases but these are still top notch. I also want to mention how well the game handles distances, nothing needs to load and you can see almost entire areas ahead of you without anything loading in making the experience much more realistic and more importantly immersive.

I don’t normally talk about multiplayer in videogames but I feel I need to here. During the campaign your rival assassin Julianna can turn up to try and reset your loop, in order to survive you need to kill her and destroy her satelite so that you can unlock the escape doors. Julianna is almost always played by an online player and while I think this is extremely cool it poses an issue from a gameplay perspective and an issue which is already present.

Deathloop didnt sell very well so not many people are using the online, the times I did I was waiting nearly 20 minutes every time. Luckily in Deathloops defense you can turn the online elements off and Julianna will still appear randomly as an AI, this means that while there are not many players to play as her this does not affect the gameplay as she can still appear as an AI, so you can still kill her and reset your lives. It is a shame about the online severs not really being used but I wont let that affect the final score as this isn’t the developers fault.

The Soundtrack was composed by Tom Salta and Ross Tregenza, Tom Salta is known for composing Prince of Persia the Sand of Time and the Tom Clancy games, unfortunately I couldn’t find much information for Ross Tregenza.

This soundtrack is diverse , the music style and instruments change an awful lot depending on the current situation, time of day and area you are in. It all fits very well and does not disappoint, the music is very subtle as well so it doesn’t overwhelm the players and a lot of the time its fairly quiet and only makes as much noise as is necessary, almost as if this is also trying to sneak itself in similar to Colt during the gameplay. My Favourite song is Deja Vu, the end credits song of the “good ending”, this is to my knowledge the only vocal track in the game and it reminds me of a Bond Song due to its style and is just really something special.

Deathloop really surprised me because from its marketing I really didn’t think I would like it. The game is amazing for how it manages to pull off a really fun game that constantly repeats itself, it has a really innovative soundtrack and overall we might have one of the best games on PS5, it is a shame that the online isn’t being used much but I hope this review can encourage people the pick the game up so we can have more online Colt vs Julianna action.

It is very rare that a modern game can influence a perfect score from me but in this instance Deathloop has surprised me so much that I cannot feasibly think of awarding it anything but a very impressive 10/10. Buy the game now and Break the Loop!

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Swiss Miss with Lucky Charms Review

Two of my favourite things combined how could I say no !

Swiss Miss Lucky Charms is a hot cocoa mix I was gifted for xmas by my younger brother, I love hot cocoa and Lucky Charms so needless to say I am very excited about this, its also very reasonably priced to import so I might buy it more regularly if I like it.

The back of the box is fun enough it has a little rhyme on the back which says ” The charms are no secret, it’s quite clear to see; Their powers are what create the magicality.”

“They swim in your mug, as awesome as can be; Combined with Swiss Miss Cocoa, filling hearts with glee.”

I think Swiss Miss is another brand from the USA maybe we can more of their cocoa in the future.

The dietary requirements say that one cup of this cocoa has

180 calories

3% daily fat

3% daily saturated fat

8% daily sodium

13% daily carbohydrates

3% daily dietary fiber

54% Daily Sugars !

1g protein

So as to be expected not exactly very nutritional so perhaps use this as a treat more than a daily sweet drink

next I heated some milk in a mug, I chose oat milk due to dietary choices but any milk will do, you can also just use water if you are criminally insane 😉

Inside are multiple stitched together packages holding your cocoa mix and the marshmallows

I first added the cocoa and tasted, the flavour is very nice, it reminds me of chocolate cereal milk and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m thinking of cereal however its very creamy and chocolatey, very tasty even on its own

I added the mallows which are just the ones from the cereal but wow if this didn’t remind me of chocolate Lucky Charms it definitely does now !, this is a really good hot cocoa, I hope this isn’t limited edition as I really want more in future but due to its high sugars not too regularly

there isn’t much of a smell to the drink other than cheap cocoa mix but I assure you it tasted much better than the less than inviting scent it gives off !

Overall this is a great idea and a treat I will be trying again and again!

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