WARNING: This is obviously going to contain massive spoilers for the game, so you probably want to stop reading right about now if you don’t want to know all the secrets yet. If you don’t want spoilers, try my spoiler-free review HERE instead!
So, there seems to be a lot of anger out there regarding the ending, specifically regarding the lack of details and the seemingly contradictory actions of the big bad, Ardyn. Ardyn reveals late in the game that he’s that he was king before your family became the line of royalty, that he was the one who saved his kingdom from the demons by absorbing them all into his own body, which resulted in him being exiled for his troubles because no one wanted this crazy immortal guy full of millions of demons hanging around, and so everything he’s done has been to get his revenge on the new royal bloodline.
This is a guy who was basically running the evil empire from behind the scenes by whispering into the emperor’s ear, who used his stored demonic powers to help the empire create demon/human hybrid soldiers to win the war with by experimenting on thousands of children, who was responsible for the overthrowing of Noct‘s home and the death of his father, went on to plunge the whole world into a demon-infested eternal darkness, and was personally responsible for murdering Noct‘s fiancee right in front of him.
And yet throughout the game we see him helping Noct several times during his journey. He seems to go out of his way to ensure that Noct gains access to more royal arms and aeons, which will only make Noct more powerful and help him with his efforts against the empire. Ardyn even goes as far as to make sure that Noct receives the ultra-powerful Ring of the Lucii, which is supposed to be the most powerful royal artifact and the key to saving the world. Ardyn literally has his hands right on it and flat out refuses to take it, insisting that it must get to Noct, and it does eventually lead Noct to the final power he needs too, which he uses to beat Ardyn in the end, which he probably wouldn’t have been able to do without.
So why did Ardyn go to such great lengths to both torment and help Noct? The answer seems kind of obvious to me (probably from reading all those damn comic books): Ardyn really just wanted to die. Here was a guy that was so powerful that he could defeat an entire legion of demons by himself, who became immortal because of it, but was stripped of his crown, shunned and exiled, and probably in constant pain from having to deal with containing all those demons. Everything he had was gone, no one wanted anything to do with him, and he couldn’t even die in peace.
Sure, he probably really did also want revenge on the new royal family too, but that was just a bonus. Think about it, every action he took was to help make Noct more powerful, and looking back on it, what seemed like simple sadistic torment, was actually Ardyn taking every opportunity to make Noct hate him and want to kill him as much as humanly possible. It was all about creating the ultimate weapon to destroy himself with. Ardyn even taunts Noct after the final battle when they’re both in the spirit realm, making sure to let him know that his body dying won’t actually stop him from coming back, that his spirit needs to be completely destroyed too. Why in the world would you say something like that at that moment unless you were asking for it?
It’s interesting because it seems like a semi-happy ending for the world, where Noct gives his life to defeat the big bad and bring light back to the world to banish the demon infestation, and so hooray, things are great for everyone, right? Except…Ardyn actually got everything he wanted, didn’t he? Not only did he finally find his eternal rest, but he took every single one of his enemies with him in the process, and hey, too bad for those who knows how many people that died and/or lived torturous existences as Magitek troopers. Everything went exactly to his plan. The bad guy won and no one even noticed. How fucked up is that? As barebones as the plot of this game was, I have to at least give it credit for this aspect of it.
So…anyone else out there finish this game yet and actually read this? Got any thoughts? Alternate theories? Horrible insults? Whatever?
This seemed like a fun little vertical shoot-em-up with pretty good graphics, but the joke was on me because it turns out that this game follows some godawful free-to-play mechanic where you can only make progress by grinding the same levels over and over again for hours or as the internet informs me, by spending real money on buying special ability cards. Even worse, I didn’t see anything about these cards or any purchases anywhere in the game. I guess those features are only for PC and full consoles? So I would have no choice but to grind endlessly. Yeah, no thanks. Congratulations Infinite Dreams Inc., you suckered me out of $3. Very impressive.
This one was a side scrolling shoot-em-up that looked a little more flashy and didn’t seem to have any slow grinding involved. They got me again though. There’s no free-to-play aspect here, but there is a bottleneck where you can’t play the last few levels until you meet certain conditions. I played through most of the game, but was locked out of the last level because I still needed to find at least 4 secret keys in each of the preceding 6 stages. I was only missing a few, but I tried a few times and just couldn’t seem to find them. I tried to look for more information online and found that some keys would only appear if you had above a certain rank at just the right time. I tried to look for the ones that weren’t like this, but the guides were pretty vague and I couldn’t seem to find anything in the areas they described. With my only choice apparently becoming another endless grinding scenario, I just gave up and moved on. Another $3 wasted. Wahhh.
Oh good. This was a bit more fun. Dragon’s Crown is kind of an RPG/beat-em-up with a pretty fun combat system and some bizarrely over-sexualized lady characters that were the subject of some controversy back in the day. Ehhhh, let’s not even get into that whole thing again. Anyway, the game is fun enough, but sure loves to give you the runaround. Sidequests will send you back to the same levels over and over again and the main story even becomes a continuous loop eventually, wanting you to play each and every level over and over again with increasing difficulty because….reasons. I’ve come to realize that despite the nice visual design and gameplay that Vanillaware brings to their games, they sure do like to pad things out with a lot of forced repetition. Muramasa was much the same, and I hear Odin Sphere was too. I kind of wish they’d just let these games end normally and go out on a high note instead of all this artificial lengthening, but I guess some people are into this kind of never-ending repetitive post-game content. Oh well.
One of the free games of the month on PSN, Neon Chrome seems to get compared to Hotline Miami a lot, but it really isn’t that kind of game. It’s a top down dual-stick shooter, but that’s about the only thing they have in common. This game is a randomly generated roguelike that’s got some pretty enjoyable gameplay. This is another game that suffers from a poor ending and repetitive post-game content though. You have to fight through 27 floors to win, with a boss fight every 5 floors or so. The first boss is a giant robot spider thing, the second is a big robotic worm, the third is some flying tank thing, but then the fourth is…three of the first giant robot spiders, and the fifth and final boss is…another giant robot spider, and that’s it. This is not one of those roguelikes where the bosses are randomly selected from a big list either, those are all the bosses every time.
As usual with a roguelike, once you win you’re expected to start all over again, but this time it’s even harder. With the lack of variety in bosses and no new characters or anything particularly exciting looking worth spending more time unlocking, I just stopped after the first victory. I would maybe give it a play again someday, but it just didn’t have enough going for it to warrant immediate multiple playthroughs like Binding of Isaac or Risk of Rain.
Lone Survivor is a game I’m still not sure how to feel about. It wants to be a 2D Silent Hill, and in some ways it’s very successful at that. The pixel art is nice, the sound and music are effectively creepy, and the need to sleep, eat, and maintain your character’s mental health add an interesting twist to things. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of enemy variety, a nearly incomprehensible plot that seems to have taken a lot of cues from David Lynch, and a very abrupt and unsatisfying ending. Still, it’s entertaining enough for a short diversion, if you’re really into Silent Hill type games.
I thought for sure that the largely overlooked Drakengard 3 would be the last game we’d ever see, but here we are with a brand new, current-gen Nier sequel that seems to be doing pretty well for itself.
Yeah. Just not feelin’ this one. It’s just too similar to the first one, which is to say it’s a barely tolerable version of Resident Evil with a lot of running around through empty rooms full of sticks and toilet brushes, unpleasant battles with dumbed-down, poorly animated versions of enemies you’ve fought a million times before, and constant fucking inventory management due to your insanely tiny carrying capacity and braindead AI companions. It’s not terrible enough to have stopped me from playing one of them, but when the second one is basically just the exact same thing all over again, nope, can’t do it again. Not going to waste any more time on this unpleasant game. The Outbreak games just don’t hold up well at all compared to the real older Resident Evil games. Resident Evil Outbreak can go back to being the forgotten bastard child of Resident Evil like it deserves.
Wooooo Outlast 2 is here! We always need more new (good) horror games, and this one did not disappoint. Outlast 2 plays much like its predecessor, with enough gore and depravity to make even the strongest of stomachs turn at least once and hours worth of tense hide and chase scenes where a whole new batch of disgusting maniacs want to do terrible things to your special bits.
Contra madness continues with the next generation of Contra on Playstation 2.
Contra finally becomes Contra again with Shattered Soldier. SS is very much a Contra title again, unlike the weird PS1 entries, full of crazy sidescrolling action and a shitload of bizarre and challenging bosses. This game actually looked really good for a PS2 game and the level and boss designs were impressively twisted, often seeming almost like a horror game, at least in appearance.
Thumper is described by its creators as a “rhythm violence game.” I don’t know if that’s exactly accurate, but it certainly sounds nice and it was a pretty fun game.
There isn’t really any combat in the game, so the “violence” label is kind of questionable. There are boss fights where you have to hit every beat to make some kind of attack beat pop out that you can knock back into the bosses face, which is the only way to damage them, which is about as violent as it gets.
I suppose the violence could be more referring to the amount of times you’ll die. The game starts out pretty simple and manageable, much like the levels you get to try in the demo, but a little less than half way through things start to get way more complicated and fast paced. Luckily the levels are all pretty short, so it’s not TOO frustrating to have to redo one several times.
I guess that was the only real complaint I had, that things started moving so fast that there was no time at all to look at all the crazy, psychedelic scenery. There’s so much weird shit going on in the background, but you just can’t take your eye off the track for even a second or you’ll be dead.
It’s definitely a worthwhile VR title though. It’s not super long, but it’s a bit longer than most of the tiny movie length VR games flooding the market these days. Maybe 6-8 hours or so, not including the extra play modes and trying to get S ranks in all the levels if you’re really masochistic.
Mass Effect – Andromeda is terrible! It’s a large-scale RPG with a lot of hype behind it that had a few minor bugs upon release, including some people in the talking scenes having weird facial animations and THAT’S WHY I PLAY VIDEO GAMES FOR THE QUALITY OF THE FACIAL ANIMATIONS! Just kidding I’m not a fucking 12 year old. Game was awesome. SORRY.
After getting a new (or at least one that’s in working order) Playstation 2, I’ve been dusting off the old pile of PS2 games and thought I’d give some of the older, more obscure Resident Evil games a try again. No one really talks about Outbreak much (though the 2nd one seems semi-popular). I had a hard time even finding a decent screenshot of it (and it’s still not very good).
Outbreak was the first attempt at an online multiplayer-based Resident Evil, long before awful games like Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps came around. Like those games, it does have a single player mode, but wasn’t really made with single player in mind, so the experience is pretty flawed and uneven. I can see this being a lot more fun with real people and the difficulty turned up, but even then, it’s a bit of a mess. The extremely limited inventory size forces you to co-operate, even in single player. You have to use AI companions as a kind of living storage box, and really, that’s all they’re even good for. They sure as hell won’t fight or help you in any way. Left to their own devices they’ll blindly stumble around, literally filling their inventory up with sticks and other useless items or even stand right next to you and watch you die as you’re screaming at them for help sometimes.
On the surface it’s a pretty standard old-timey Resident Evil kind of game, with a lot of familiar monsters, inventory management, and a ton of weird puzzles and backtracking, but the more you dig into it, the more it feels like a cheap copy. There’s a random splattering of story cutscenes, but they’re near-incoherent and the 5 scenarios you can select to play don’t seem to have any real connection to each other. The enemies and bosses feel kind of like bargain bin versions of ones you’ve already seen before, with textures and animations that don’t seem quite finished.
It’s not ALL bad. There’s the level where this weird unkillable leech man keeps popping out of vents and doors and chasing you around and you can only throw blood packs to distract him until you find a way to kill him near the end of the level, and there’s the part where the “Tyrant”, or this game’s version of one, called Thanatos (who is now a big black dude in a speedo for some reason), is chasing you around a mansion. Those parts were actually pretty tense and fun. Overall though, it’s a pretty mediocre game. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but the biggest Resident Evil fans who want to try everything (I think I would rather play Survivor again than this). Supposedly the sequel is a lot better. It’s been so long that I really don’t remember, but I guess we’ll see…