Kena: Bridge of Spirits (2021) Review

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure game from Ember Lab Studios, it was released in 2021 for the PS4, PS5 and PC

In the game you play as a young spirit guide Kena, she has the important job of helping deceased persons cross from the natural world and into the spirit realm, some of these spirits have become corrupt and have infested the land with demons and toxic elements, throughout her adventure Kena will have to work closely with the creatures called Rot to help free these tormented souls and save both worlds.

The gameplay while simple in its design is very fun, its a 3D platformer at heart with a good mixture of action oriented combat with adventurous terrains and worlds to explore, with the game having a high focus on spirits there is an emphasis on supernatural elements and magic which helps to spice up the gameplay.

Regular combat isn’t anything too special only offering basic light and heavy attacks with the staff but its the Rot, Bombs and Arrows which really bring additional challenge and for me made the combat some of the best parts of my personal journey with Kena.

The Bow of course gave us distanced combat and was useful for hitting further away enemies and those who fly, it could also be used to whip across gaps using special flowers.

The Bombs were particularly cool because not only did they give us a powerful damage attack but they have the ability to interact with certain stones creating timed platforming segments to help progress through areas and find hidden secrets.

The Rot were the best part of the game because not only are they extremely adorable and can be decorated with the sweetest little hats but they also have the ability to help you solve puzzles by carrying items, removing corruption and growing plants, they can also enhance your staff, bow and bomb abilities later on in the game giving them even more uses.

These creatures are only one of the many hidden collectibles in the game, they can be found in many different places but specifically prefer to hide underneath rocks and logs and tucked away inside of small spaces like drawers and plant pots.

Unfortunately with all of the collectibles in the game apart from trophies there isn’t much benefit to finding them with the exception of Rot and the meditations spots (permanently increases Kenas health), The hats while cute don’t offer any upgrades to abilities and the flower shrines only give you more money which can be used to purchase the hats, Spirit Mail sometimes does lead to more rot and do normally come with some cursed chests offering some combat challenges.

The Visuals are just out of this world and easily some of the best we have seen on PS5 so far, the landscape takes high inspiration from the Japanese countryside which fits the narrative of the game really well, on top of this crisp details on everything really enhances the experience, I love the bright colours of the human world making this game stand out even though it shares similar visual designs with other games of the genre, the spirit world uses more darker colours with less detail and again it helps to differentiate the worlds of the game making sure players know where they are at all times.

The soundtrack was composed by Jason Gallaty and is just beautiful, the team travelled to Bali to record traditional Gamelan music for the soundtrack, Gamelan uses bamboo flutes, Xylophones and a Rebab (Bowed instrument) the music is very calming but is adaptable to suit the games more action oriented sections. It is rare that I do not have spotify, an audio book or Youtube on in the background while gaming but this was an exception with a soundtrack so mesmerizing I wanted to let every second of it massage my brain with its artistic melodies.

I loved Kena, its visuals and outstanding soundtrack really helped to enhance my experience, the land was fantastic to explore and I loved all of the different combat sections and boss fights. My only issues with the game is that some of the collectibles dont offer enough to feel worth going out of your way for and finally the lack of a waypoint marker for the map made getting around a little difficult, I had to keep checking the map to see where I was and what direction I was facing, there is an update coming soon so maybe this will be added but overall if you have a Playstation or a good PC I highly recommend this one and will award it a well deserved 9.8/10

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Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)Review

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world, action, role playing game set in a futuristic City. In the game players create and personalise a mercenary named V who is on a desperate mission to become the King/Queen of Night City while also trying to remove the personality of long Dead Rockstar Johnny Silverhand from her brain.

The game was developed by CD Projekt Red and Published by CD Projekt, it was released in 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC, the original release was a notoriously broken mess and barely playable, the game was so bad that Sony removed it from their store for 6 months until the game was patched with better development and bug repairs.

In 2022 a free upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S was available for download, this is the version I played which also is the fixed version of the game, I will however keep in mind the original release for my criticisms and final score.

The gameplay is very similar to what you might expect from the Grand Theft Auto series, you play a fairly ruthless character who will break the law relentlessly to get what they want, stealing cars, hiring prostitutes and all out murder, it does add the ability purchase multiple homes and vehicles, it even uses skill trees and body modifications to help increase character attributes and abilities. The skill trees will help you gain more strength, stamina or hacking abilities while the Ripper Docs offer the modifications allowing you upgrades such as a double jump, better scanning, Gorilla strength, armoured skin and so much more.

But one thing this game does amazingly well is that it manages to be LGBTQ+ supportive in its gameplay and character developments.

Throughout the game you get the chance to have a lot of sex including LGBTQ+ you can even start romantic relationships including those of the same sex (My female character was dating another female in the game). During the character development you can be woman with male private parts or vice versa which I believe is in support of the trans community, If that statement is incorrect please educate me as I don’t mean to offend anyone.

I just think its amazing to see a triple A title like Cyberpunk take time to recognise the LGBTQ+ community in a way that isn’t overblown and is accepted as part of the society of Night City, Cyberpunk may have had its problems initially but the way it handles these areas is a testament to how far video games have come over the years.

In 2022 the game plays almost flawlessly, it has good controls and it has a good mix of side missions and other content to keep you coming back, the side missions are really diverse too you could be stealing an artefact in one mission, then aiming to be the city’s boxing champion before trying to come first in a street race

I did experience some problems though, my main gripe was when ever I finished a Johnny Silverhand Segment a blue rectangle would be stuck on my screen until I rebooted the game, another common issue was general crashes while loading missions, again making me reboot the game and hoping for the best when trying again. The game runs well enough but these rare bugs really did get annoying at times, I understand that they did patch the game to fix most of the problems but in reality the game never should have been rushed to release like it was, you shouldn’t sell people a broken product, its practically a scam and the developers and publishers ought to be ashamed of themselves, its all well and good fixing the problems but they never should have been there in the first place.

The game has seven possible endings which I wont go into detail on because of spoilers but each one can be reached depending on player choices throughout the campaign.

The soundtrack is pretty fun, it uses a lot of rock music to fit the atmosphere especially around Johnny Silverhand and his band Samurai, Samurai is actually really good and I’m surprised this isn’t a real band, throughout my college years I listened to a lot of rock music and screamo and this reminded me of those tracks, it was quite nice to get nostalgia like that.

Two years ago I would have told you to stay far away from this game and save your money on a practically unplayable scam and to simply make a point to the developers that gamers wont support this type of disrespect even if they did get Keanu Reeves to play Johnny Silverhand.

However as of now the game has been financially successful and its a long time since that first release, the fixed version of Cyberpunk is one of the most creative and wonderfully directed games I have played in a long time, you tell your own story here and apart from the Johnny Silverhand stuff there isn’t much that keeps you on a single path. The game is open to all types of gamers and celebrates a wide range of communities, it also has a great number of bad ass females in the game to help narrow down that issue with the video game industry as well. Cyberpunk is worth your time and is fairly reasonably priced to pick up cheap, it is also free on Playstation Plus if you want to check it out. I had a blast with the game but I cant give it too much praise, its still broken in some areas and while not to the degree it was previously its still bad enough to effect the flow and take you out of that atmosphere. I think the game is well deserving of a 8 today but this is not the original game that got released so I think a 7/10 is a fair score which a still represents the games past versions but can also celebrate those more playable versions as well.

And to CD Projekt Red I want to ask if you make another Cyberpunk please try and learn from your mistakes, next time I don’t want to be discussing broken releases.

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Movie Games: Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Were Rabbit

Welcome to Movie Games a new series where I take a look at videogames that were released to promote new and upcoming movies of the past. In this edition I will be diving into a game I recently got sent in, the game in question is of course the Curse of the Were Rabbit a Wallace and Gromit title released to help promote the 2005 flick of the same name, the game was developed by Frontier Developments and published by Konami. What I will be trying to discover in this series is not only the quality of the title but also how accurate it is to the plot of the movie it is based on so without further ado a very quick and might I add spoiler heavy recap of the movie.

In the movie everyone’s favourite inventor and dog due Wallace and Gromit are running a rabbit catching vegetable protection agency, they watch over the neighbourhood and protect the local gardens from cabbage munching menaces in preparation for the annual vegetable growers competition.

After building up such a good reputation with the neighbourhood they are both called upon by Tottington Hall which is ran by the lovely Lady Tottington, the area is overran by rabbits and Wallace and Gromit humanely manage to capture them all. This is also where we meet the films villain Victor Quartermaine, he is the competitive love interest of Lady Tottington and he wants to shoot all the rabbits to help build his reputation as the towns best hunter.

During the sub plot of the film Wallace tries changing the brainwaves of the rabbits to dislike vegetables so that all of the rabbits they have captured can be released back into the wild without chance of veggie reoffending, however the test goes wrong and while one rabbit does become non interested in healthy foods Wallace gets his brain changed as well ultimately becoming the films main threat the Were Rabbit.

It doesn’t take long for Gromit the figure this one out as he tries his best to hide the secret from the neighbourhood but unfortunately for him and Wallace, Victor soon clocks on and sees an opportunity to become the town hero and take out his competitor of Lady Tottington at the same time making Wallace the next target for his shotgun.

In the films final act after the inevitable “break up scene” between Lady Tottington and Wallace we see Gromit chasing after the Were Rabbit through the festival while taking part in an airborne dog fight with Victors Pup and ultimately taking a bullet for Wallace, Wallace jumps after Gromit’s Plane protecting his beloved dog while also sacrificing himself and ultimately killing the Were Rabbit before returning to human form and waking up thanks to the smell of Stinking Bishop. Victor is defeated by being placed into a female Were Rabbit Suit and being beaten by the local community.

The film ends with Lady Tottington opening a rabbit sanctuary in her Estate for all of the previously captured bunnies including the humanoid Bunny Hutch who still has the personality of Wallace.

The film is very good and maybe one day I will give the movie a full on review and analysis but for now my main question is how did the videogame adaptation hold up?

So to begin I want to point out that’s the games plot is pretty accurate to the film with only a few exceptions to make it work as a videogame, the main difference is that the villain Victor has a more prominent role and actually steals Wallace’s technology to make other Were Creatures.

There are also multiple maps you can explore making the terrain and areas of the game more expansive than the movie and overall in my opinion more realistic to actual British town compared to what was only shown in the flick.

After the final battle Victors fate was left the same although they never opened the bunny sanctuary and the remaining rabbits just kinda live in Wallace and Gromits house.

So with the major differences out of the way lets discuss what this licenced movie game has to offer.

First of all the game is actually pretty good, it is a puzzle platformer where you need to swap between two characters (either Wallace and Gromit or Gromit and Hutch), during the day time the missions you complete are mainly based around gathering items and capturing the little animals that are overruling the local gardens.

At night the gameplay becomes more action based and the missions here need players to defeat the various Were creatures and help protect local residents as they travel between areas.

There are arenas in the game which is something I actually really disliked as they didn’t really feel like they needed to be there and didn’t provide much more than the regular gameplay since they maintained the same general goals of defeating enemies and catching the loose animals.

There are collectable cards to get, you get one for each mission you complete and some others can be found throughout the world maps by completing timed puzzles.

The puzzles were some of the best parts of the journey as each character had different abilities, Wallace was the most diverse as he can use tools such as the Bolt Cutters and the screw driver (Hutch can also use these) Gromit on the other-hand felt a little lacking in his capabilities and didn’t seem to have much to make him stand out apart from the umbrella which allowed him to hover over distances.

Gromit did however have a side game where players could try and grow his marrow for the vegetable competition, you could buy items in the game to help the growth of your marrow as well as decorate the Green House. I really struggled to actually do any good at this side content so I never got to see it too completion.

The game looks pretty impressive for a low budget licensed game and the character designs do suit the Wallace and Gromit universe. That’s not say that the graphics are any special though considering that for a late PS2 game these are quite uninspiring and only really get a pass due to this not being a AAA title.

The game controls very well and I had very little issue with bugs or bad game design.

The games soundtrack really suits the nature of the franchise extremely well with its light hearted and non serious tones, these casual melodies make this feel like a real Aardman project and it wouldn’t surprise me if these were actually tunes from the Wallace and Gromit franchise.

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit the videogame left me in shock, I really didn’t think I would enjoy the game at all and while it isn’t phenomenal in any sense of the word, for a movie game this is actually one of the better ones, its more creative, expansive and fun than it ever needed to be and if you get the chance to pick this up cheap I highly recommend you give it a go as you may be left pleasantly surprised, it does get a little stale as its gameplay drags around the half way point but with the 2 player co-op the campaign becomes 10 times more bearable and is the best way to play.

6/10

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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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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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Guacamelee (2014) Review

Guacamelee is a game that I avoided for a very long time as the advertisements never really appealed to me but now I feel a little silly that I left it for so long.

Guacamelee was developed and published by Drinkbox Studios, its a metroidvania style game based in Mexixo and was released in 2014 for the PS3, PC, PS4,PS VITA XBOX 360, XBOX ONE and the Wii U, the game was later released in 2018 for the Nintendo Switch which is the version I played.

A young Mexican named Juan is about to propose to his childhood love interest the El Presidente’s daughter, however she is unfortunately kidnapped by a Charro Skeleton named Carlos who kills Juan sending him down to the underworld, he is given a luchador mask which gives him the powers of a Mexican warrior and he is brought back to the land of the living to rescue and reunite with his true love.

As a metroidvania style game, players are immediately able to explore the majority of the large in game map and areas. In the game you can find Chozo statues which grant Juan new abilities such as wall jumping, smashing through specialist blocks, flying across large spaces and a temporary increase in strength.

Later on the ability to swap between the world of the living and the world of the dead as well turn into a chicken will allow you to platform further and explore tight areas.

There is also an in game store which allows players to purchase new costumes which each have unique advantages, you can also change characters to other in game NPC’s for new and unique ways to play. New abilities can also be bought along with health and power upgrades.

I also think it is important to make it clear that up to four players can play simultaneously in the campaign.

The visuals of the game are very impressive for what can only be considered an indie game. Im not saying that independent developers cant make beautiful visuals because in many cases indie do this better than triple A titles but there is something about Guacamelee’s style that really drew me in. The game is very well animated and during gameplay enemies look and appear in a modern cartoon style. Don’t get me wrong this not as good in visual style as a game like Cuphead but it is still very impressive.

I am lost for words on just how amazing this soundtrack is, it was composed by Rom Di Prisco and Peter Chapman, it uses a mixture of mariachi band music and remixed dance music for a beautiful collaboration which is absolutely perfect in every sense, I love every track in this game and have downloaded the official soundtrack to my phone and honestly its not often that an indie game can encourage me to do that.

Guacamelee is a massive surprise to me because I didn’t think I would like it because original trailers for the game failed to pull me in. Now I wish I did play this back in 2014 because it really is an almost perfect game, it has an decent plot, great visuals, excellent and challenging gameplay and an insanely good soundtrack. Unfortunately it does fall short of full marks for me because there are two things that really bother me about it.

The first is the side quests, there are not many in the game and they all feel a little bit pointless as they are mainly only in one or two areas of the game.

The other issue really takes away from metroidvania style this was going for because the game tells the player where they need to go for the main quest, there is no part of this game that makes you feel lost or confused which may sound like a good thing but is the polar opposite of what can considered a metroidvania style game, this feels a lot more like a 2d platformer with some secret passages and upgrades to find.

But I think if you only focus on the main quest then this is a phenomenal game its just for me I have to look at everything and its these tiny little setbacks which are going to leave Guacamelee at a 9.8/10

With that go and download this game if you haven’t played it, it really is fantastic and I am looking forward to eventually covering the sequel.

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Every video game version of the Philosophers Stone

The Harry Potter video games stand out surprisingly well when compared to other licenced properties, not only by quality but that almost every console had a unique version of the game, I have already reviewed the PC version on this website and I feel its time we take a look at all of other versions of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, these wont be full on reviews but I will discuss what I like and dislike about each version, I own all of them apart from the PS2 game mainly due to the fact that it costs and arm and leg to purchase but I have managed to at least lend a copy from a close friend so without further ado lets get into this.

PC version

The PC game was developed by Knowwonder and was released in 2001, it followed the plot line of the book and had a linear level based system.

The game stands out for heavy use of the computer mouse, in order to learn spells you needed to trace shapes representing them and you would even use your mouse to aim and fire your magic, I feel this gave the game a unique although very slight realism which only the PC port could offer.

You moved and flew using the WASD keys which also work very well and I feel that this version controls a lot more smoothly to the PS1 game which I will cover next.

My biggest complaint with this version is that the collectibles are pretty lame, you can collect different coloured beans that can be traded with Fred and George to buy Wizard cards, some of the cards are also hidden throughout the game, the fact that all the twins do here is sell you cards it is a bit disappointing compared to other versions.

The PS1 version

This is the version I have most recently finished so I am going into this with a fresh mind.

Again this game follows a linear path however it does differ in its collectibles, you still grab beans but this time not only can you get wizard cards but you can also unlock a more powerful knockback jinx as well as the nimbus 2000 and better quidditch armour. I will say that the areas are very guided as there is very little room for exploration, the enemies can be interesting but the game auto selects spells for you so defeating them requires very little skill.

Flying really takes some time to learn here, I found it very difficult to control, the broom stick feels very slippery and trying to get all of the hoops takes some proper skills, there is a part in the final challenge rooms that really had me struggling at times. The actual quidditch matches in the game are quite boring as you simply follow the rings and grab the snitch, I wish there was a little more to it but the I suppose that’s what the quidditch world cup video game is for.

There are a few different types of gameplay here including sections similar to games likes Crash Bandicoot, other areas needed stealth gameplay as well even racing, there is really something here for every gamer although at times I did feel like there was a few too many different game types.

GB Version

I will be honest with this one and say that I cant really give a proper opinion here because I have never got far enough in this version to even get into Hogwarts.

But what I can tell you is that it is a traditional turn based RPG which is very challenging and follows the events of the book rather than the movie, I would like to finish the game one day and I think its is deserving of its own full review but that is for another day.

So apologies if this one was brief but I just haven’t experienced this game enough to go into more detail or fairly critique it.

GBA version

This is my personal favourite version of the Philosophers Stone.

This game is very challenging for new players because unlike other Harry Potter games, in this version you can actually lose the house cup! yes that’s right at the end of the game you may not actually beat Slytherin, you gain and lose house points based on your performance in the games tasks.

The main game requires Harry to learn new spells and successfully complete tasks from the book, a lot of the time puzzle solving is required to complete the areas, some inspiration from 2D Zelda games was definitely used here as this has a very knock off feel of those games. Of course this is no where near as good as a AAA title but it has a lot of charm and is very difficult the part where you have to sneak around Hogwarts castle avoiding the prefects always has me puling out my hair but trying to beat your house points score every time you beat the game will keep you coming back. I highly recommend picking this one up if you get the chance.

And here we are at the very expensive one, the reason this game costs so much is because it was released after the Chamber of Secrets video game so not many people bought this assuming it was an older game and now its worth quite a bit and is a game I am desperate to add to my personal PS2 collection.

The first thing I want to point out with this game is that it looks great, Hogwarts is huge and is full of colours and things to see, I love that you can explore the castle after bed time to find secret passages and collect hidden wizard cards, there is a lot to do in this game and most of the time its more fun to explore than stick with the main campaign.

You can now set spells to specific buttons for quick uses and thankfully the game controls very well, this made flying a lot of fun, due to the advanced technology of the PS2 when you were flying you could see far beneath your broom and flying around the castle was really satisfying as it helped to show how large the in game maps actually are.

The Bertie Botts beans are back and this time they are used as currency in Fred and Georges shop, the only complaint I have with the game is Harry shouting the beans flavour every time he picks one up as it gets annoying very fast.

And that’s all of the video game adaptions of the Philosophers Stone, which one is your favourite? I think mine will always be the GBA game but the PS2/ XBOX/ Gamecube version is a close second !

Perhaps one day I should go over all versions of the Chamber of Secrets as well 🙂

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Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom/Rehydrated (2003/2020) Review

Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a 2003 action platformer developed by Heavy Iron Studios and published by THQ for the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox. The game was remastered in a 2020 release Titled Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, this version was developed by Purple Lamp Studios and was published by THQ for the PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One.

In this review I will be mainly looking at the original game and then briefly discussing the remake afterwards.

Plankton has built an Army of Robots to help him steal the Krabby Patty Secret Formula and take over the world. Unfortunately for him the robots were set to not obey mode and instead decide to take over Bikini Bottom leaving Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy to defeat the robots and put a stop to their chaos.

There are three playable characters in the game which can be switched at bus stops hidden within levels, each of these characters have different abilities which are needed to find secrets and progress through out the game.

Spongebob has the most moves in the game and each of these revolve around blowing bubbles, his most commonly used move puts a bubble helmet on his head which he uses to destroy robots that are positioned high above the ground.

His bowling bubble can be used to hit enemies that are wedged within difficult spaces or to hit buttons when he is standing on a pressure pad.

The cruise bubble is a projectile move that allows Spongebob to blow a timed missile at enemies.

Patrick is able to pick up heavy objects which he can hurl at buttons or stack up so that he can climb to higher places. Using freezing fruit Patrick can temporarily freeze body’s of water so that he can walk over them to find secrets that could not be found otherwise.

Sandy is my favourite character to play as in the game, she is able to use her lasso to grab enemies, swing across specific sections and temporarily glide across large gaps.

There are various surf sections in the game where players need to quickly travel down ski slopes which hide additional secrets and collectibles. I really like these sections I found them to be challenging with tight enough controls and overall a great experience.

I really enjoyed the boss fights in the game I thought they were really well designed and challenging to fight, some of these were references to episodes from the Television series and the others were robotic versions of the playable characters. Concept Art from the game shows art for a robot Squidward fight, this could be a sign that he may have been designed as a playable character at some point in development.

The main collectable in the game are the Golden Spatulas, these are needed to access new levels and areas in the game, players can either find these or be given them as rewards for helping in-game NPC’s. You can also get spatulas for finding Patrick’s missing socks, or by purchasing them from Mr Krabs in exchange for Shiny things the in-game currency.

The soundtrack is really fun and is one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a licensed videogame, its not phenominal or anything but it really works so well for this game. The music is a lot of a fun and can be more serious at times when needed, what I really appreciate is that in the rock bottom section of the game they removed the music entirely so that it felt just like the episode it was based on. my favourite was the Bikini Bottom Music that played during the hub world it made me think of jolly sailors travelling the high seas.

Battle for Bikini Bottom is one of the greatest licensed video games ever made, this is a really solid experience and a love letter to Spongebob fans from the developers. I was shocked with how much effort was put into this, mulitple playable characters, funny dialogue, great music, tight controls and lots of things to do, I do wish that the theatre gave us a little more than just concept art and a better completion bonus would have been appreciated but apart from that I can only reccomend you get yourself a copy of this game even though these days it doesn’t sell for very cheap I think it is well worth its price and is better value for money than the remake which we will discuss now.

The new version obviously looks better than its predecessor the graphics are lot more appealing and run at a higher frame rate compared to the original.

I also really enjoyed that the new game added up to date Spongebob references and memes for the younger fans and the older ones too.

Gorgeous new visuals aside lets discuss the game in general, the first thing that really sucks about this is that they didnt add anything new so this is purely a visual remake.

They modernised the music as well and while still is very good its lost a lot of its charm and doesn’t suit the game as well as did previously.

The theatre returns but they removed the concept art which makes sense as they should have replaced it with concept art from this game but instead they put a handful of still images from the game as your reward for unlocking the theatre.

I haven’t really got much else to say about this remake as it is very close to the original but it just feels like a few more months fixing up a few of its fall backs were needed. I think a bonus world would have been a great addition and if not the robot squidward fight that was added into the multiplayer could have just been added into the main game even if it was a hidden boss fight. As for the theatre how about instead of screen shots from the game they could have placed a playable ROM of the Battle for Bikini Bottom GBA game as it will probably never be released virtually anyway and it would give fans of the console game a chance to play a version they may have missed.

Speaking of the GBA game maybe one day I will take a look at it to see how it holds up compared to the console version.

If you do not have a an older system then rehydrated is still a really fun game it just struggles to compare to the original game that in my opinion is vastly superior.

Battle for Bikini Bottom 9.5/10

Rehydrated 7/10

My Favourite Spongebob episodes – Rock Bottom

In this season 1 episode Spongebob and Patrick have just finished a day of fun at Glove World and are catching bus home to Bikini Bottom but unfortunately they are on the wrong bus and end up in a town called Rock Bottom.

Rock Bottom is a unusual place where everything is backwards or just genuinely doesn’t make any sense, the area is quite dark and somewhat creepy which makes the need for Spongebob to get home even more intense.

The episode only really gets funny when Patrick manages to catch the bus home and Spongebob is left alone, poor Spongebob keeps missing every bus home by seconds and no matter what he tries he just cannot catch that bus and it soon becomes apparent to the viewer that the bus might be missing Spongebob on purpose. This is definitely one the funnier episodes and may be one of the highlights of the show where the comedy is at the expense of Spongebob and not another character.

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Yooka-Laylee (2017) Review

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Yooka- Laylee is a 3D platformer- Adventure game that was developed by Platonic Games a team of Developers that used to work for Rare Ware. Yooka-Laylee was crowd funded on kick-starter as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.

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After stealing a magical book from our protagonists an overly corrupt business Bee and his Duck head henchman want to collect all of the worlds books to gain enough literary knowledge to take over the world leaving Yooka the lizard and Laylee the bat to collect all of the pagies and defeat Capital B.

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The main game takes place in a series of different themed lands which each hold various collectables including pages of the book, quills, four ghosts, a play coin for playing arcade games, a power extender, a health extender and a molly cool to unlock a transformation.

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There are many moves you unlock in the game from a snake named Trowzer, these are paid for with the quills you collect, the most useful move is definitely the roll mechanic which allows Yooka and Laylee to move a lot faster and also to manoeuvre specific surfaces that cannot be climbed otherwise.

Other moves that really stand out in this game are the Bubble.

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This ability allows Yooka and Laylee to walk underwater without having to worry about running out of oxygen.

The Slurp Shot

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Later on in the game you can purchase the slurp ability allowing Yooka to lick specific items to temporarily gain their unique abilities.

Flappy Flight

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Flappy Flight makes adventuring really fun as it allows them to fly for a long distance, it is a lot of fun to use and makes the final world Galleon Galaxy really satisfying to search through.

These are my personal favourite moves in the games, however this is only scratching the surface as there are a lot more in the game, the moves I have not gone into detail here are.

Sonar Shot, Buddy Slam, Glide, Lizard Leap, Lizard Lash, Camo Cloak, Sonar Splosion, and Sonar Shield.

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The worlds are really fun to explore and the missions needed to gain the pagies are some of the games highlights. I cant pick out the ones I enjoyed the most because I loved all of them equally, there was a nice variety in things to do and what skills were needed to commit to some of the pagies, a few of them are actually very difficult and take a lot of practise.

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There is no denying that the game is absolutely gorgeous with its charming visuals and vast worlds, I love exploring the large worlds especially once you have expanded them  however this does have some impact on the frustration of collecting everything because they are all very spread out.

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Each world has one transformation that you can unlock, you use these transformations to collect specific items in the game, I enjoyed all of these but my favourite was the helicopter as it was needed for a large chunk of its level, all of the other transformations were only really needed once or twice and I wish they were implemented for more use in their stages.

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I also was not a fan of the arcade machines as I felt the pagies for them felt out of place and they interrupted the consistency of my run of each world, these work a lot better as part of a multiplayer experience but I do wish they were not in the main campaign.

The music in the game was composed by composing legend Grant Kirkhope who is well known for classic Nintendo 64 games from Rare Ware, the music here is excellent and uses the bouncy and fun style that Kirkhope is known for.

Yooka-Laylee is a really good game and in my opinion it was successful in its goal of being a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, these days unless you are playing Nintendo or one of a few indie titles the 3D platformer is essentially dead and Yooka-Laylee is a sign that they can still successful in this day and age with the correct team developing them.

8.8/10

Thank you for reading my review of Yooka-Laylee for the PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch

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Among the Sleep (2014) Review


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Among the Sleep is a survival horror game, it was developed and published by Krillbite Studios and was released on PC and Xbox One in 2014, Play Station 4 in 2015 and will be released on the Nintendo Switch in May 2019.

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In the game you play as a child that is celebrating his second birthday, the celebration is disturbed by a knock at the front door, the child’s mother becomes angry after answering the door and the conversation becomes distorted and muffled, the mother comes back with a gift and takes the child upstairs, before giving the child his present the phone rings and the mother leaves the room to answer the call.

The gift is a sentient toy bear that climbs out of the box and asks the child to find him, after finding the teddy, the child hides in the closet before being discovered by his mother who puts him to bed, the child wakes up to find the bear being taken away by an unforeseen force which issues the child to find teddy once again which is when he realises his mother is missing and an adventure to find her begins.


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The gameplay takes the player into a realm of memories and fear, a dark land where you are hunted my mysterious figures which represent trauma the child has witnessed over the two years of his life, teddy takes him into this place to find memories of his mother hoping that the memories will finally allow mother and child to be reunited.

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There are lots of puzzles to solve and many places to discover, the game is not as scary as you may imagine but the mystery and sense of being lost in an usual and dark world makes the atmosphere creepy and very memorable.

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The world of the game is really fun to explore and the various areas make sure that nothing gets boring. On a graphical standpoint they could be better in some areas, in general they are quite good but not anything special for this gaming generation, some graphical details are great but others seem pix-elated especially at a close distance.

The soundtrack is not very memorable in my opinion, nothing really grabbed me but I wouldn’t consider it bad.

Among the Sleep is a really interesting game as its not often that a survival horror is from the perspective of a child but apart from this the game was a bit mediocre in my opinion, the game play dragged out little for me and even though I enjoyed the multiple areas of the game I really was not interested enough to want to do more than the main story, you can collect drawings in the game but they dont do much and can be easily skipped.

Among the Sleep may not be one of the best survival horror games I have played but if you can get it cheap then the three hour long content may just be worth your while.

5.4/10

I hope you enjoyed this review of Among the Sleep

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