All posts by Avery Agard

The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters Review – PlayStation 4

The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a survival horror game with a similar aesthetic to games like Detention. You take control of a young high school girl who has gotten herself involved with a highly dangerous occult ritual, and now must somehow survive hallways of deadly eldritch monsters.

The gameplay was engaging at first, but eventually it fell into a cycle of scavenge for crafting materials, hide from roaming enemies, run away and repeat. I never got bored, but it did get progressively less and less fun.  One thing that did actively hinder my experience was the stamina bar. In a few sections of the game running and dodging are absolutely unavoidable, but your stamina drains quickly. It does feel like they should have given you just a little more stamina to make certain sequences less frustrating.

The inventory management on the other hand, was done really well. I was never too strapped for resources, but they were scarce enough that I wanted to be sure to save them. It also made me feel like there was a genuine reason for me to risk going into the halls, some of these items could be the difference between life and death. Plus, some of the things you need to gather can be useful for crafting, which is essential if you want to survive the world you’ve found yourself thrown into.

The art and atmosphere were also really good. There were comic book segments scattered throughout the game that really gave a visually pleasing way to show what was happening between gameplay segments. The character portraits for the main characters were all really well done as well , and the monsters looked genuinely unsettling (especially when they’re chasing you!) That coupled with the sound design made playing a genuinely horrifying yet thrilling experience.

Coma 2’s story is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand I really enjoyed the ghost hunter and ritual antics as I skulked through the hallways of the desecrated buildings, but on the other hand the writing for the high school characters was extremely distracting in some places. It was highly obvious that they were written by adults who had no idea how to write for teens, but thankfully this is (mostly) left behind once the main story starts.

Some story beats were easy to guess, but many others were actually unexpected and surprising. Even though dark ritual plotlines are somewhat common, Coma 2 brings enough unique environments to the table to keep it engaging throughout. Both endings to the game had their own appeal, and the narrative ends nicely regardless of what path you choose.

The Coma 2 costs around fifteen dollars, and considering all that it provides, it is well worth the price tag. Overall The Coma 3 is a fun and engaging horror experience with a few rough edges, but if you’re willing to overlook small flaws it might just be perfect for you. It might not be a masterpiece, but its the perfect kind of game for a late night session.

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Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk Review – 3DS

Jake Hunter: Ghost of the Dusk is a detective game focused on several stories. There are also several side stories that you can unlock by inputting passwords. The game is centered around the titular Jake Hunter, who you control to find clues and solve crimes. The gameplay itself is minimal and directed by prompts, similar to other crime games like the Phoenix Wright series. For instance, in the first scene of the first story you have to interrogate a man who went to a house and saw a dead body. You gather this information from him by using three separate prompts: examine, speak, and move.

During crimes there is a fourth prompt, think, in which you put together clues to form information. This does end up making the player feel limited with their options. Later on you get to “search” where you use the stylus or d-pad to investigate objects within a space or a dead body. This ends up providing some more freedom to investigate, improving the gameplay slightly, and increasing the feeling of player freedom.

The answers you get are also linear, as certain things have to be done before even speaking on occasion. For example, you cannot talk to the man until you examine him first and you cannot leave before hearing his full story. This makes most of the game trial-and error. There is also no real way to fail, as the story is already set out, which may disappoint some who enjoy genuine consequences to actions.

This also means that the replay value is next to none, as the game’s only real hook is putting together the pieces of the predetermined mystery. The stories are well crafted though, and searching for the clues themselves can give the player a fair amount of enjoyment. Players will be engaged throughout the entire investigation process. Jake’s commentary on the clues was well written and descriptive, and never felt too drawn out. The crimes never were boring, and could be extremely interesting at their best and decent enough at their worst.

The game has great music overall. The tracks for investigations were especially good at conveying an atmosphere of mystery and dread, accomplishing their job decently well. The sound effects were also good and never really got annoying. Jake Hunter also has some really well drawn cinematics on occasion, the best ones are usually found at the beginning of the story. They do an amazing job of building the mysteries and peaking the player’s interest in the crime to come. The characters also have art that goes along with their dialogue boxes and does a good job at conveying the characters.

There was also a bit of weirdness with a few of the localization choices. Some lines are voice acted and some are not, but they’re all voiced in Japanese. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem on its own, but the localization team changed the setting from Japan to the United States, complicating a few things. This can end up annoying the players with the somewhat glaring inconsistencies throughout the game, and may even turn others off entirely. However, for those who can brush this type of thing off, it isn’t a big issue.

The game costs $39.99, and for the average player it isn’t really worth it. Jake Hunter is an incredibly niche title that only those invested in the crime genre will get any real enjoyment out of, and the rest will find painfully average.  So if you’re not encompassed within the crime games demographic, you should probably give Jake Hunter a pass. If these kind of games appeal to you though, you should definitely consider picking this one up. For the right player Jake Hunter is about a 3/5. It provided a fairly fun time, but was nothing all that special to play. 

The Alliance Alive Review – 3DS

The Alliance Alive is a JRPG that captures a feel similar to that of Bravely Default and similar games. The game itself is loads of fun, and offers many different choices that allow for tons of replay value, as it is literally impossible to do everything and get every item in one run.

The gameplay itself is entertaining and fast, with the standard turn based system of the genre. There are a few deviations from the standard formula, as you need “medicine packs” to access the full extent of your healing items, which made the system feel a tad clunky at times. Aside from that the gameplay was fun, and all of the bosses were challenging but fair. Although one of those bosses had one attack that was debatably pretty unfair, and any player will know what it is when they get to it.

The Alliance Alive also has a great choice system, there are places where you have to ask yourself if you want to let that character die to get a rare item. Or in other places you have to decide to let others die to preserve your healing items, and these choices have effects on other NPCs in the overworld. There were places where I genuinely felt bad for my choices, and resolved to do better in my new playthroughs.

The overworld is mostly open and fun to explore, do you want to ignore the story and sail off to explore islands? You can do it, and The Alliance Alive actively rewards it with new party members and rare items. The overworld provides surprises even on the second or third playthrough, when a player is likely to have end-game items to trigger events that they may have missed on their first playthrough.

The Alliance Alive has an art style that manages to be adorable and also not detract from it’s darker moments. The characters resemble chibis in style, and though they are cartoonish in design the models have their fair share of detail. During intense moments the characters are not held back by their simple design though, the emotional impact of certain events was not held back by the cutesy style.

The soundtrack was good, though there were places where the music playing was dissonant from the tone of the scene. One scene in particular at the end of the game had upbeat battle music playing over a scene that was supposed to portray an feeling of mystery and provide closure, and it really clashed. Other than that, the music was good, though not fantastic in any way.

The Alliance Alive costs roughly forty dollars, and for all the fun packed into this game plus its replay value, it’s more that worth that price.  The Alliance Alive is a solid JRPG that is bound to entertain just about anybody with its cute art style and its ability to keep you interested on subsequent playthroughs. Despite its faults, it is probably one of the more solid RPGs this year so far.

Creeping Terror Review – 3DS

When you think of 3DS games, you probably think of child-friendly adventures or action filled romps through magical lands, Creeping Terror is none of those things. It is a very scarce genre as far as the Nintendo brand is concerned, a horror game. It was honestly quite a disappointment to find that one of the only horror games on the 3DS store is lacking in scares. The game is attempting to pay homage to a bygone era of horror games, and is especially reminiscent of the 1995 game “Clock Tower.”

The story of the game is simple enough, a small group of friends gather together to try to record proof of a monster that is rumored to haunt a nearby house. As they explore, one of the kids falls down into a tunnel system hidden beneath the house, where she is pursued by the monster Shovel Man. The plot itself is rather unremarkable, it’s standard cliché horror movie fare, but in the horror genre the story is allowed to be weak. This is because while an engaging story is preferable, whether or not a person enjoys anything in the horror genre is dependent upon the atmosphere it creates, and whether the atmosphere is crafted well enough to instill fear in whoever is experiencing it.

Sadly, Creeping Terror falls flat on that front as well. While the game had several opportunities to create a genuinely tense and frightful atmosphere, it ultimately handles them in a way that robs them of any potential they might’ve had. Two perfect examples of this are the flashlight system and the monster scenes.  In Creeping Terror, the main character can use their cellphone to shine light on objects in front of them; however, their phone has limited charge and to replenish your battery you need to find charger packs. This would normally be a good way to induce stress, as management of a resource means the player must be conscious of their every move, but charger packs aren’t exactly scarce and you can carry more than one at a time.

The monster is a similar case of wasted potential, as early on you are given a clear method of defense against him. Avoiding capture is made quite easy, as a throw of a rock or button-mashing can make your escape trivial, making any appearance of the monster more frustrating than scary.

The price tag on Creeping Terror is rather low compared to many games on the eShop, only costing ten dollars. The game itself doesn’t make itself scary or entertaining enough to spend that amount without regret. The only way this game will make itself endearing to the player is if they’re desperate for a horror game on their 3DS or they’re a big enough fan of Clock Tower to want to play a much blander version of it.

To sum up, Creeping Terror is a game with tons of wasted potential and okay concepts that only a select niche of people will enjoy. It’s bland and forgettable, and will most likely fail to leave an impression on whoever plays it; I’d give it a 1.5/5.

Bad Apple Wars Review – PS Vita

I’ve always had a guilty pleasure for otome games, digital romantic novels aimed at teenage girls, and I tend to enjoy them regardless of their flaws. Bad Apple Wars is no exception to this rule, within the game you will find an entertaining story with several glaring flaws but you’ll likely enjoy it regardless.

The basic plot is about a group of teenagers trapped in a high school for students who died before passing their classes. The school has many strictly enforced and odd rules, such as a rule forbidding either team from winning at a sports match or getting a perfect score on an exam. Those who follow the rules are called good apples and they go on to reincarnate, but the bad apples break as many of these rules as possible in the hope of getting expelled to their old life. The plot itself was good, but if you’ve seen the anime “Angel Beats” it becomes pretty obvious that they copied most of the plot and even characters in some cases. This severely harmed the experience for me, as I was able to predict plot twists and knew the fate of characters ahead of time.

The art for cutscenes was standard for the industry, at no point was I disappointed but I was never impressed either. There were a few instances where the artwork made the experience uncomfortable, as one of the main mechanics is touching the CGs of the characters to progress in their route. Sometimes as you touched them their clothes would come off and this affected my experience in a negative light, but for some this could be a positive.

The sound design for Bad Apple Wars was one of the biggest pros for me, the game had a punk music aesthetic going on which I really liked, and in one instance the music even made me cry. Dialogue in Bad Apple Wars is fully voice acted, and the delivery of the lines for the most part is great! In no places will you be disappointed with delivery, and apart from one or two mistranslations, the dialogue was engaging.

Bad Apple Wars costs $30, and to many it probably won’t seem worth it. You’ll likely spend a day or two to complete the game and since visual novels don’t change if you go back after completing all of the routes, it has little to no replay value which will turn off some players. The characters conform cleanly to anime archetypes without much variation; you have one tsundere, three kuuderes, and one deredere. To enjoy an otome game fully, the player needs to be unaware of what will happen in the plot, but players like me will know all of the interesting details in advance which kills a great amount of the enjoyment factor.

Whether or not Bad Apple Wars is worth the thirty dollar price tag is dependent on the player, if you’ve seen Angel Beats before playing this game it is most definitely not worth that much money, but if you’re going in blind you’ll definitely get thirty dollars’ worth of enjoyment out of it.

Bad Apple Wars is trying way too hard to emulate a popular anime, and unfortunately struggles because of it. If it had fleshed out the concept and made it more of a unique story then most of the faults found within it would be lessened greatly. Bad Apple Wars is an otome that is far from perfect, and will require you to turn off your inner critic to enjoy it fully. However, it is still great fun in many places and it has a good soundtrack. Bad Apple Wars is not for everyone, but if you’re interested go ahead and buy it, I’d rank it a 3/5 for the right player.

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