Inside

Developer: Playdead | Publisher: Playdead | Available On: XBox One, PC (reviewed) | Release Date: June 29, 2016 (XBox One); July 7, 2016 (PC)

I never played Limbo beyond getting stabbed by a spider and saying screw it. There may have been a bear trap in there, too, but either way, I never made it far. However, I’ve grown as a gamer since those long-gone days, and with that time, I’ve grown to appreciate the artsy-er, indie-er side of gaming. As such, when people started talking about Inside, my interest was piqued, but I still had no intentions of picking it up immediately. Then people kept talking about it, and I realized that if I didn’t want this game spoiled, I should really play it soon. In that spirit, I’m going to do my darnedest to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. However, if you fear to tread the waters in case of lurking spoilers, before I even begin, let me say that I highly, highly recommend you play Inside. Continue reading

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History 102: Repeat and Relearn – Bravely Second End Layer review

When Bravely Second was announced, I was elated! I loved the first game, and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for our beloved heroes next. Then the demo happened, and I wasn’t so sure anymore. After all, a large part of what made Bravely Default so amazing was the changes it made to the JRPG formula. Without that newness, could the sequel hold up? Never mind the fact that I didn’t like any of the new characters introduced in the demo at all when I first met them. The future looked bleak!

I’m super happy to say I was wrong to be worried. I loved Bravely Second, if not just as much as Default, close enough. That’s not to say it wasn’t without fault, but as someone who loves the series, it was a wonderful next step on the journey.

Gameplay & Visuals

Bravely Default breathed some new life into the turn-based JRPG strategy, and the amount to which it did that is hard to measure up to. However, Bravely Second does a good job of continuing down the path its predecessor forged. All the important gameplay aspects from the first game remain – customizable random encounter rates, brave and default, and job asterisks. Newer mechanics include battle chaining for increased experience and pg, a mildly addictive mini game, and sort-of branching story lines. These things are done to varying degrees of success. The battle chaining is a great way to level grind as each successive battle you win in the first turn gives you a multiplier on your exp, job exp, and pg. The mini game includes making stuffed animals which you can “sell” to earn points which can then be used to up your production of the plushes or be traded into pg. It was fun at first, but greatly lost it’s appeal before I ever hit the half-way mark of the game. The branching story lines kind of get my goat, though. In order to get the job asterisks from the first game, you must mediate between two opposing sides presented by those asterisk holders. At first, this seemed a great and compelling way to frame the game. Sometimes I was forced to choose between which asterisk would be more beneficial or which side was more in line with my morals and values. However, the wind was quickly removed from my sails as these choices are made moot by having no impact on the world of the game, as well as the opportunity to change them later on in order to get the opposing asterisk. What started as a great risk/reward system quickly turned into something that just seemed pointless. After all, why am I going to not get all the asterisks if I can?

On the note of the job asterisks, there are a whole slew of new ones, and I quite honestly can’t think of a single one I didn’t like. I definitely was partial to certain ones over others, but they all were great. There are also plenty of the old ones to get, as well. They aren’t all there, but the important ones are definitely available. Technically, however, you could probably get by without them due to the new jobs being more than capable of filling certain roles. It all depends on your preferences and play style. Plus taking the time to get the old asterisks greatly helps in levelling your characters.

Visually, the game isn’t that different than its predecessor. It’s 3DS graphics, so what can you really ask for? The environments and sprite designs are pleasing on the eyes, plus there are some nice looking cut scenes. Not much to praise in this area, but also nothing to really complain about.

Story, Characters, & Atmosphere

The story is a little convoluted, but then again, so was the first one. There were a lot of times I found myself rolling my eyes at the over-the-top nature of things, however, in the end I was pretty happy with it.

Without going into spoiler territory, the start of the game finds Agnes as the new pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy, Edea as the next Grand Marshal of Eternia in training, and Tiz asleep in a fish tank. You begin the game playing as the Three Cavaliers of the Crystal Orthodoxy, which is comprised of Yew, Jeanne, and Nikolai. Through a series of events, you lose Jeanne and Nikolai, at which point Yew joins up with Edea, a newly awakened Tiz, and a lady from the moon known as Magnolia. Together, they fight to bring down the Kaiser Oblivion and the dark powers behind him.

I abhorred Yew, Jeanne, Nikolai, and Magnolia in the demo, and I could not imagine having to play these four characters for a whole game. However, Bravely Second does what the Bravely series seems to do so well, and it made me care deeply for all four of them. I was actually really emotionally invested in all of these characters by the end.

Despite the fact that there were a lot of repetitive moments and things that don’t quite get explained, I really enjoyed the story. There is a lot of focus on the events that led up to the first game, as well as more about the realm the fairies come from. It’s also basically all one big love story, and what can I say? I’m a sucker for a good, well told love story.

I also loved getting to explore more about the characters from the first game, namely, the asterisk holders. Getting to explore their histories and personalities in a whole new way was an absolute delight. I really loved most all of the new characters, too. This game did a fabulous job of creating individuals I cared about even when the story itself may not have been as strong as it could have been.

Also, you only go back in time once this time around, so hey! That’s way better than the first game. However, I will say that I don’t feel like what you need to do in order to go back in time is readily apparent. I cheated a little and used a walkthrough at that point, so maybe I’m wrong and I just didn’t look hard enough. Just know there is a trick to it, and if you do it wrong, you could wind up “going back in time” more than the once that is necessary.

When it comes to atmosphere, all there really is to talk about is the soundtrack and voice acting. Soundtrack was actually really good. It definitely played on the emotions. The voice acting, however, was slightly hit or miss. I can’t say anything was actually bad, per say, but some of it was super over the top and corny. One could argue that that’s in line with the feel of these games, but it really wasn’t necessary. There were several times that the excessiveness of the voice acting took me completely out of the experience. I found myself very often just pushing buttons through dialogue because the voices were getting on my nerves.

Also, puns. All the puns. In the world. They are all in this game. It was funny at first, then incredibly annoying, and by the end I think the part of my soul that was capable of caring about them was sufficiently trampled to death.

Final Thoughts

Bravely Second was a super fun game that definitely kept my love of the series going strong. However, it is not a good introduction to the series. The game relies very heavily on you having played the first game, not necessarily because of story, but more in just the sense of giving you something to care about. Like I said, the game does a great job of crafting individuals to invest in, but there’s a lot of emotion and investment that also comes with having played the first game. I think if you’re missing that investment, Bravely Second will fall completely flat for you.

Over all, if you played the first game and liked it, I think you’re sure to enjoy this one. However, if you were hoping to jump into the series on game two, you may need to rethink that approach.

The Second Coming of Scary -Resident Evil 7 Demo impression

Like many, I had my eye on E3. I don’t know that I necessarily had any expectations or anything that I was dying to see, but I was excited none the less. It was an opportunity to see what developers had up their sleeves.

Despite rumors that Resident Evil would be there in some capacity, I didn’t honestly expect it. I figured, at most, it would be something about a remake of 2. When the trailer came up, I had suspicions, but come on? Could it really be? And it was! With a demo available later that night for PlayStation Plus members. Well, what’s an RE fangirl to do but take to Amazon.com to pre-order the game and purchase a code to restart my PS+ membership?

download
Accurate

 

Of course, working girl that I am, I didn’t actually get to play it that night. Instead, the next morning I started up the download so that I could play when I got home. Boy have we got things to talk about! Continue reading

Monthly Check In – June 2016

Another month gone. Where does the time go?

We’re gonna do a quick check in this month, you guys. I go on vacation in a couple of days, and chronic procrastinator that I am, of course I still have ALL THE THINGS(!!!) left to do.

June was a decent month. More cooking was done. E3, that’s a things that happened! And I do have a Resident Evil 7 demo impression for you guys that I will hopefully get posted before week’s end.

So looking forward, let’s talk cooking and then we’ll talk gaming.

I have a blueberry and oatmeal cookie recipe to get up here. I’m sure there will be more as the month progresses. I’ll likely wind up doing some creative cooking while on my trip, but we’ll see. I’m trying hard to get back on the healthy and mindful horse, which means more wholesome cooking. And just more cooking in general! But convenience is just so convenient, so we’ll see what the future holds as it happens.

Gaming! Well, as previously stated, I have an RE7 demo impression that needs to be tweaked and posted. Hoping to get that up before I go out of town. I also beat Bravely Second yesterday! It was pretty good game, and I will get a proper review posted at some point. Likely won’t happen before I go on my trip, so maybe after? Definitely after if not before. My next gaming journey? I bought Romancing SaGa for the PS2. Kicking it old school! I’ve never played any of this series before so… Hopefully it’s good? If it isn’t, it only cost me like eight bucks. I’ve definitely wasted way more on super shitty games, so… Not much to lose.

This wound up being a little longer than I intended, so away I go! There are mountains of laundry to be done!

 

Easy, Peasy Spiced Peaches

I bring to you another recipe that probably hardly constitutes even being called a recipe, though the spring and summer months seem to be very prone to those. Today’s yummy fruit-for-dessert is quick and easy spiced peaches.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Peach

1-2 tbsp Stevia

1-2 tbsp Cinnamon

0 Calorie Cooking Spray

Light Whipped Cream

1) Peel your peach and then cut it up into wedges or slices or however you prefer to eat your peaches.

2) Spray a small pan with the cooking spray and set it over medium heat.

3) Meanwhile, mix together your cinnamon and stevia.

4) Put your peach slices into the pan, sprinkling them with some of the cinnamon/stevia mix. Heat for about 6-7 minutes, occasionally pressing on them.

5) Flip the peaches, sprinkle move of the cinnamon/stevia mixture onto them and let heat for another 5-7 minutes.

6) Remove from pan and put into a bowl to serve, topping with light whipped cream and the remaining cinnamon/stevia mix (or however much you want to put on it, if you have a whole lot left).

Of course, feel free to double, triple, whatever this recipe if you are cooking for more than yourself, since this only yields one serving. However, just be sure to enjoy immediately.