Fortnite

Fortnite

Tricks, News, Dances and Weapons, Fortnite @ Best More »

Free Fire

Free Fire

Can you survive ? More »

Overwatch

Overwatch

Strategy, Adenaline, Team effort More »

Rocket League

Rocket League

Are you the Best Driver and Score a Goal ? More »

Addict Gamer

Addict Gamer

We LOVE Video Games do you ? More »

 

Category Archives: Addict Gamer

Cult of the Lamb Review – A Cult Classic

Nine times out of 10, being a lamb led to the slaughter is not the best position to find yourself in. That tenth time, however, is while playing Massive Monster’s Cult of the Lamb, a delightfully demented roguelike that combines fast-paced dungeoneering, bold art, dark topics, and real-time simulation elements to create a one-of-a-kind experience. It couples two popular genres and smartly avoids their potential pitfalls while showcasing the best things they bring to the table. Take all this and add a simple but engaging narrative, and you’ve got a cult classic game well-worth playing.

Cult of the Lamb begins at our poor, titular lamb’s end. After walking down a narrow stone corridor, you are greeted by robed cultists and The Old Gods: four monstrous beings to whom the inhabitants of this strange land are (mostly) loyal. As it turns out, this little lamb is the last of its kind, having managed to evade death while the rest of its fluffy friends were culled. The Old Gods reveal this was due to a prophecy that a lamb would be the one who would lead to their undoing, destroying the Old Faith and unleashing the one thing they fear most: The One Who Waits. The Gods instruct their followers to dispatch you quickly, but little do they know this is precisely what the prophecy demands.

<div class="js-video-player-new av-video-player av-desktop-player av-video-on-demand is-vid-loading is-vid-noseek is-vid-show-controls " tabindex="0" data-id="997018724" data-promo-id="0" data-video="{"adCall":{"host":"http:\/\/pubads.g.doubleclick.net\/gampad\/ads?","params":{"iu":"\/22309610186\/vaw-gamespot\/desktop\/gamespot.com","impl":"s","gdfp_req":1,"env":"vp","output":"xml_vmap1","unviewed_position_start":1,"url":"[referrer_url]","correlator":"[timestamp]","cmsid":2566084,"vid":6459108,"pp":"vpaid_js"},"custParams":{"ptype":"review","cid":"gs-1900-6417933","game":"cult-of-the-lamb","genre":"action,adventure","con":"pc,playstation-5,nintendo-switch,xbox-series-x,xbox-one,playstation-4,macintosh","publisher":"devolver-digital","embed":"autoplay","partner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","vid":6459108},"soundBasedSize":{"normal":"640×480","muted":"640×483","none":"640×480"},"daiSsbUrl":"https:\/\/dai.google.com\/ondemand\/hls\/content\/2572465\/vid\/6459108\/master.m3u8","daiMidRollHost":2500176},"adPartner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","ageGateCookieName":"videoAgeGateBirthday","autoplay":true,"cms":"pi","countdownTime":0,"cuePoints":null,"datePublished":1660143600,"desktopAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","device":"other","guid":"gs-2300-6459108","id":6459108,"isDevice":false,"isLiveStream":false,"lengthSeconds":546,"mapp":"gamespot","mobileAdPartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","partner":"gamespot","postPlayMax":100,"premium":false,"screenMediumThumb":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/a\/uploads\/screen_medium\/1574\/15746725\/4019184-review_cultofthelamb_site.jpg","seekablePlaybacks":["html5","uvpjs"],"share":{"linkUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/cult-of-the-lamb-video-review\/2300-6459108\/","embedUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/embed\/6459108\/","embedHtml":{"640":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n","480":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"}},"siteType":"responsive web","startMuted":false,"startTime":0,"title":"Cult%20of%20the%20Lamb%20Video%20Review","tracking":[{"name":"SiteCatalyst","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"charSet","value":"UTF-8"},{"name":"currencyCode","value":"USD"},{"name":"siteType","value":"responsive web"},{"name":"trackingServer","value":"saa.gamespot.com"},{"name":"visitorNamespace","value":"cbsinteractive"},{"name":"heartbeatTrackingServer","value":"newimagitasinc.hb.omtrdc.net"},{"name":"heartbeatVisitorMarketingCloudOrgId","value":"3C66570E5FE1A4AB0A495FFC@AdobeOrg"},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"siteCode","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"brand","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"account","value":"cbsigamespotsite"},{"name":"edition","value":"us"}]},{"name":"ComScore_ss","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"c2","value":"31824268"},{"name":"publishersSecret","value":"2cb08ca4d095dd734a374dff8422c2e5"},{"name":"c3","value":""},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"c4","value":"gamespot"}]},{"name":"NielsenTracking","category":"tracking","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"host","value":"https:\/\/secure-us.imrworldwide.com\/cgi-bin\/m?"},{"name":"scCI","value":"us-200330"},{"name":"scC6","value":"vc,c01"}]},{"name":"MuxQOSPluginJS","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"propertyKey","value":"b7d6e48b7461a61cb6e863a62"}]}],"trackingAccount":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingPrimaryId":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingSiteCode":"gs","userId":0,"uvpHi5Ima":"https:\/\/s0.2mdn.net\/instream\/html5\/ima3.js","uvpc":"","uvpjsHostname":"\/\/www.gamespot.com","videoAdMobilePartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","videoAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","videoAssetSource":"GameSpot","videoStreams":{"adaptive_stream":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8","adaptive_dash":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.mpd","adaptive_hd":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_high":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_low":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_restricted":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/08\/09\/54cb35a6-9dbb-4e6d-bed2-bc3e5ea8081c\/20220809_CultOfTheLamb_Review_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8"},"videoType":"video-on-demand","watchedCookieDays":1,"watchedCookieName":"watchedVideoIds"}” data-non-iframe-embed=”1″ readability=”7.9168539325843″>

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Click To Unmute

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.

This video has an invalid file format.

Sorry, but you can’t access this content!

Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Cult of the Lamb Video Review

Upon being killed, you meet with The One Who Waits, an all-powerful god who we learn was betrayed and imprisoned by the other four. After your meeting, he makes you an offer: start a cult in his name, and he will both bring you back to life and gift unto you his former powers via the Red Crown. After you accept, you are sent back to the world of the living, where you meet with The One Who Waits’ former cult leader, Ratau, who leads you to the site of your up-and-coming commune. From this point, the game divides into two main sections: exploring dungeons and managing your cult, both of which are closely tied to one another.

There are four main dungeons in Cult of the Lamb, and each of these domains is led by one of the Old Gods. Each also contains features, resources, blueprints, follower forms, and enemies unique to that area. The dungeons are composed of a series of randomly-generated location types arranged on a webbed map, allowing you to evaluate their icons and choose the path you wish to follow. The most common types are combat areas, which are denoted on your map by a sword icon. Each of these areas is made up of a handful of randomly-generated rooms, occupied by monsters or, if you’re lucky, a mysterious figure weidling tarot cards that grant you various boons. Other types of areas include ones filled with resources for your commune, shops, a character issuing you special challenges–such as “don’t take damage in the next three rooms”–story beats, malevolent pentagram chambers, and new followers.

Your main objective while exploring these dungeons is to reach the end four times–slaying a different mini-boss each time you accomplish the feat–and then ultimately facing off against one of the four Old Gods. Upon finishing them off, all enemy units grow stronger, a new boss enters the final area, and you gain the ability to venture out repeatedly instead of having to return to your cult after each expedition–adding some major replayability and giving you the chance to grind a bit when later areas prove challenging.

While Cult of the Lamb has a fair amount of options that make it more approachable, it is inherently a fast-paced and challenging game. Though enemies tend to have predictable move sets you can pick up on fairly quickly, rooms can quickly become over-crowded thanks to additional monsters spawning and all the various long-range attacks more elite units will throw your way. Dodging is vital to staying alive, and if you’re playing on PC, I highly recommend assigning it to a button on your mouse–unless you want your space bar to also be a sacrificial lamb as well.

Not only that, but like most roguelikes, a great deal of the game is dictated by chance. You have no choice in what weapon and curse–a special attack fueled by fervor you collect from killing enemies–you begin each expedition with. While swords and axes might offer pretty standard speeds and attack rates, daggers are considerably weaker but attacks are quicker and battle-hammers are so slow you have to click twice to use them–though they do pack a big punch. This randomization is a big factor in what can be some broad difficulty swings, but it also creates a lot of rewarding moments when you overcome the drawbacks you can face.

I finished my first playthrough of Cult of the Lamb on normal and was faced with a bit of resistance toward the end of the second area, which ultimately pushed me to be more thoughtful and patient going forward. However, there are a few instances where you might bump into difficulty spikes and have a hard time accumulating resources, leading to skill stagnation and, as a result, difficulties on expeditions. Course-correcting isn’t too painful–I began to revisit dungeons and go to resource-filled rooms rather than ones filled with enemies or followers–but these moments can be frustrating.

In addition to normal mode, I tried the game on both easy and hard modes to get a feel for what the differences were. I was happy to find that, mechanically, everything stays essentially the same regardless of what difficulty you are at (though admittedly I didn’t test out the fourth and most challenging difficulty). What is impacted by difficulty is the size of enemy health bars and the resources you are given, which makes it rewarding to play on a lower difficulty in order to learn the ropes and improve before ramping it up. If you do find the game getting easier for you–or are feeling overly challenged and need a breather–you can change the difficulty back and forth at will.

Cult of the Lamb couples two popular genres and smartly avoids their potential pitfalls while showcasing the best things they bring to the table. Take all this and add a simple but engaging narrative, and you’ve got a cult classic game well-worth playing

Also included in the options you can quickly adjust are a few helpful accessibility settings. In the game’s menu, you can reduce camera motion, screenshake sensitivity, and the dithering fade distance–all of which can help those who might have motion sickness or particular visual impairments. You can also scale the text larger and turn off animated text, making the game more legible. Last but certainly not least, you can toggle flashing lights off, which is a great feature for those who might have epilepsy or any sort of light sensitivity.

While a substantial portion of the game takes place inside of dungeons, equally as important are the grassy plains you call home. It is here you are tasked with creating a little slice of paradise for the woodland creatures who call you their leader. This includes ensuring they have places to sleep, food to eat, and, uh, a sanitary environment. While you might be on the top of the social hierarchy, let’s just say it doesn’t quite feel that way when you are serving your cultists meals and scooping up piles of bodily fluids. Regardless, once their basic needs are met, your followers will happily work for you, gathering wood and stone as well as generating devotion, which in turn helps you upgrade and decorate your compound.

Also incredibly important to your cult’s success is their overall faith in you. Your faith meter is impacted by how victorious you are on your expeditions as well as how you treat your followers. Interrupting your followers while they are having discussion with one another can cost you a few faith points, whereas conducting a ritual in your temple involving animal sacrifice might cause mass panic and disdain. This forces you to find a balance between keeping your cultists happy and indulging in selfish acts that increase your strength. If your faith drops too low, your less loyal followers might start to dissent, sowing seeds of doubt and chaos throughout the cult. You can stave off a potential coup by attempting to re-educate dissenting followers, but this is a slow process. You also have the option to imprison them or even take ’em out back and finish them off, though the latter might lead to even more discontent.

Now, you might be wondering what just about every character in this game is wondering at any given time right now, “okay, sure I want my cult to thrive, but what’s in it for me?” The most important building in your commune is your temple, which is where you can acquire all the upgrades that will help you on your expeditions. If your cult isn’t happy, you won’t be too happy either as the game progresses. At your temple, you can conduct daily sermons that fill up a meter, ultimately unlocking permanent dungeon upgrades. These include things like increased attack, starting off with higher-level weapons and curses, and receiving new types of weapons, such as ones laced with poison or that resurrect the enemies you kill as vengeful spirits keen on helping you.

In addition to giving sermons, you can use the temple atlar to declare doctrines, change a few key pieces of your build, and conduct rituals. Declaring doctrines is where you see the greatest amount of player choice in the game, as you can decide whether you’d prefer to be loved or feared by your followers. There are five categories of doctrines you can choose from, each with four guiding questions that shape how your cult functions. For example, one of these categories is life and death, and poses queries about how you wish for your followers to view dying. You can choose to place importance on burials, or take a more economical stance and turn bodies into fertilizer.

Interestingly enough, the game actually gives you a lot of room to exert some level of benevolence. Sure, you might be a violent, pseudo-dictator at the head of a budding theocracy, but you have a fair bit of control over how you treat the people who follow you. If you have no desire to sacrifice your cultists to the tentacled being that lies below or to use them for personal gain, you don’t have to. You can assure your followers there is life after death, help them ascend to heaven, ensure they eat and sleep well, and even give them days of rest. Best of all, it never feels as if you are punished or placed at a disadvantage for playing this way. As a person who struggles with selecting the “renegade” option in any game, it was refreshing to see that either playstyle was completely viable and being grotesquely power-hungry didn’t necessarily equate to being grotesquely powerful.

Beyond the stretches of your compound are a few other special locations, with both a dice and fishing mini-game tucked away in them. Despite how many pieces and systems there are in Cult of the Lamb, they come together in complete cohesion. Not once did I feel overwhelmed by all its moving parts, nor did I ever feel like what I was doing was repetitive. Every mechanic, skill tree, and system comes together to harmonize with the resource collection, management, and combat aspects of the game.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

Also working in harmony is the game’s art direction and dark-yet-playful tone. The woodland creatures that make up Cult of the Lamb’s cast of characters resemble Saturday morning cartoon characters, albeit with ritualistic markings adorning their cute and cuddly forms. The game uses color masterfully, with certain palettes designated to certain areas yet remaining rich and vibrant throughout the game. Your commune and neighboring areas, for instance, tend to use more naturally occurring colors, while locations associated with the occult favor deep reds and mystic purples. Adding to the supernatural element of the game is how its animations almost breathe, pulsing, strobing, and dithering with your gameplay, adding an almost haptic sensation. The upbeat-yet-unnerving music is sickly sweet and creates a distinct contrast between the cute visuals and the undercurrent of impending doom–the appropriate vibe for a cult. These jaunty tracks are successful in blending into the background–which is incredibly important in titles with inherently repetitive gameplay–while also being memorable and suiting the overall tone perfectly.

Lastly, while a plethora of recent games might have more poignant things to say about death, Cult of the Lamb offers a fun and more light-hearted take on the subject, leaning more into chaotic nihilism. The bulk of its focus is instead on the acquisition and transfer of power–as well as how easy it is to lose it. Naturally, these themes take the game into some dark places, but it manages to do so without ever feeling like it’s trying too hard to be edgy.

All of these elements come together to solidify Cult of the Lamb as a standout title in both the roguelike and simulation genres, as well as a one-of-a-kind entry that exists in the middle of them. Whether you are exploring the dungeons or expanding your cult, the experience is enjoyable, challenging, and more than a bit demented. With how surprisingly dense each of these parts are, the fact that all the pieces come together as smoothly as they do is a triumph.

Hard West 2 Review – Bouncing Back

Hard West 2 is aptly named. Its default difficulty setting is called Hard, too, and with good reason. Enemies are punishing and your squad’s capacity to battle against overwhelming odds is tested relentlessly over the course of several dozen hours of turn-based tactical combat. It’s a game about choosing the exact right moments to use their unique skills and working them in tandem to tee up devastating chain reaction combos. It’s tough, sure, but this demonic rendition of the American Frontier, where grotesque locomotives warp to alternate dimensions and blood rituals summon the walking dead, supplies you with the necessary creative tools to stand your ground, and rising to the challenge proves immensely satisfying.

There’s more to Hard West 2 than turn-based tactical combat, but not much more. The primary focus is a series of missions, usually with some choices about which mission to tackle next. In these, you command a posse of four gunslingers, taking turns to shoot, use supernatural skills, and advance from cover to cover. Along the way, as you traverse the overworld map on horseback, you’ll meet characters and accept quests from them to hunt down wanted criminals, investigate murders, recover livestock, fight waves of outlaws and demons, rob a bank, and most importantly, track down the man who stole your souls in a rigged game of poker aboard his steam train from Hell.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

Outside of combat, Hard West 2 is essentially a bare-bones RPG. Conversations are minimal and straight to the point. Towns have shops where you can buy new weapons and replenish consumable healing items, buffs, and explosives. Quests rarely involve much more than sending you off to investigate a location and returning once the job is done. Narrative choices are limited to supporting which of your companions has the right idea for dealing with the current problem, and you can make camp to rest and chat with your companions to learn more of their backstories. These chats are linked one-to-one to the narrative choices you’ve made in a way that rather unflatteringly exposes the bald mechanics: support a companion often enough and you’ll level up your relationship to unlock the next tier of their backstory. It’s all quite basic and dry. But at least the RPG portion of the game is out of the way pretty quickly and doesn’t waste too much of your time getting to the good part: the combat.

The combat in Hard West 2 is a success because its design grasps the significance of meaningful differences. Every aspect, from the abilities of your posse members to the weapons they’re able to equip to the design of the maps, adheres to the principle that a small number of things with large differences is more interesting than a large number of things with small differences. Characters and guns, in particular, are given room to carve out a distinct identity so that deploying one over another is a genuine, and often drastically different, tactical choice.

There are only six playable characters, of which only four partake in a mission at once, but each brings a unique ability that means they never feel interchangeable. As a result, the makeup of your posse has a profound effect on the way you approach a mission. Main man Gin Carter, for example, has the Shadow Barrage ability that lets him shoot through walls, hitting multiple targets and bypassing the enemies’ cover bonuses. His companion, Flynn, can swap places with anyone–friend or foe–in her line of sight, and at later levels can deal damage over time to her victims. Broad strokes are used to paint these abilities, enhancing the differences and ensuring that whatever configuration of characters you end up using, you’ll find eclectic ways to combine their powers.

I particularly loved Old Man Bill for the way his Deadman’s Revenge ability upends the traditional play style. He can damage every enemy in his line of sight within range, with the damage increasing as Bill’s own health decreases. When Bill’s in the posse, you’ve now got a character who actually benefits from taking damage and is most usefully positioned when in the middle of a crowd of enemies. Later, he develops bonuses that further accentuate these seemingly counter-intuitive abilities, such as gaining critical hit bonuses the more times he finds himself in the firing line or giving him the ability to counter an attack if he ends a turn outside of cover.

Further, I found Bill worked hand in glove with one of the two indigenous characters to join your posse, Laughing Deer is the melee specialist and his extra speed and attacks meant he was the ideal follow-up, charging in like some sort of machete-wielding cleaner to deal the killing blow to the enemies struck by Bill’s Deadman’s Revenge.

Melee weapons can only be used when adjacent to an enemy, but you only spend one of your turn’s three action points to do so. Pistols and shotguns both use two AP, but the former has greater range and can hit targets at different elevations, while the latter can spray multiple targets with one shot. And finally, firing a rifle consumes all three AP you get each turn, but its damage and range outperforms the other weapon types.

Any movement you make consumes AP, too, so deciding which weapon to use on any given turn is a choice that carries significant consequences. It’s rarely just a matter of which gun is going to hit for the most damage, either. Since each weapon type is tailored to particular circumstances, it’s about maneuvering your posse into the best spots to take full advantage. Even the simplest decision can feel agonizingly important. Should I hold position and take a three-AP rifle shot for more damage or should I only take a two-AP pistol shot but also move to a potentially more advantageous position?

Further complicating matters here is Hard West 2’s most ingenious flash of inspiration. When you kill an enemy, a status called Bravado is activated and the character who landed the killing blow has all their AP replenished. Essentially, this means if you can score a kill, you get a whole extra turn for free–it’s astoundingly powerful. Some enemies can go down with just one shot; many others take two or three. That extra turn from a kill might let you get another kill, which means another extra turn. Chaining together kills to activate Bravado multiple times on the same turn quickly becomes the goal of every turn. And, boy, is it satisfying.

This demonic rendition of the American Frontier, where grotesque locomotives warp to alternate dimensions and blood rituals summon the walking dead, supplies you with the necessary creative tools to stand your ground, and rising to the challenge proves immensely satisfying

The Bravado system works so well because it encourages aggressive play and incentivizes taking chances. There’s no exact equivalent here of the overwatch system from XCOM, so there’s no real way to hunker down and pick off the enemy as they come at you. Instead, you’ve got to take the initiative and Bravado actively rewards you for taking risks that pay off. When you’ve got one character left and all she has is a 50% chance to hit, in another game, a risk-averse player might decline the shot and use the turn to heal up or buff their defense. In Hard West 2 you know that if that 50% shot comes off, that enemy is dead, Bravado kicks in, and you get a whole extra turn to wreak more havoc. Bravado’s always there, egging you on, urging you to give it a go, to roll those dice. And it’s very hard to resist.

Bravado also works to stretch the tactical considerations of each turn even further. Maybe one character can’t get a kill, but they can do damage and another can complete the kill to activate their Bravado. Suddenly you’re thinking, “which character do I want to get Bravado on this turn? And if I want Flynn to get Bravado this turn, what moves are Gin and Bill going to have to make first to ensure that happens?” You’re mentally mapping out each character’s potential moves, swapping between them to check their lines of sight and to-hit chances, running through the various combinations of orders you can give them and how each character can best take advantage of the previous one’s moves. Bravado is a tremendous reward for planning ahead.

The Bravado system complements the high difficulty, too. If you’re not making full use of your posse’s skills, it’s really easy to be overrun by enemies in much greater numbers, moreso when they start regenerating their health each turn or if you’re facing certain enemies who can simply summon more enemies to join the battle. Given the stern challenge, Bravado is the most effective method you have for turning the tables, and it becomes crucial to chain kills to keep it active for as long as possible. By the mid-game, if you’re not taking out a half-dozen or more enemies in a single round, then you’re probably missing a trick somewhere along the line. With the high difficulty, fortunately, comes a high strategic ceiling.

Supporting the excellent combat engine is a clever skill tree system that utilizes playing cards gained by completing missions. Far from merely a skill tree presented in a novel fashion, these cards are dealt into a hand for each member of your posse and confer a bonus to, say, the character’s health or movement speed. Get enough cards and you can start dealing poker hands that unlock new skills for each character. Deal Gin a pair and he gets a damage boost while Bravado is activated. Deal him a four-of-a-kind and his Shadow Barrage ability now also inflicts the Burning status on any enemy it hits, while also conferring all the benefits of any lower-scoring hand.

The cards are dealt from a common deck, so you’re distributing limited resources among your characters to fill out their skill trees. And this means making tough choices about who gets which cards to enable them to unlock which skills. I found myself gravitating towards certain characters whose abilities I favored, dealing Flynn those three Queens because I knew I’d make better use of her increased shotgun damage than if I dealt them to Bill to unlock his critical damage boost. The fact that new cards are often offered as a reward for completing secondary mission objectives is also a terrific incentive to fully explore each mission map.

However, the map design doesn’t always allow the combat’s tactical depth to fully express itself. The maps are typically narrow and focused on funneling you into a series of two or three distinct encounters. As a result, the maps can feel compartmentalized in a way that is both a strength and a weakness. They feel manageable in the sense that you can think of clearing an area, pausing to regroup before moving on, and even drawing a line with a manual save. At the same time, they don’t deliver the kind of continuous running battles that might involve having to split your attention and resources across several different hotspots at once, and the greater strategic scope this might entail.

Adequate use is made of the terrain. Variations in height are common across every map and, with an increased chance to hit from higher ground, much of the strategic thinking revolves around one or two characters securing elevated sniping positions while the others work to flush enemies out of cover or finish them off.

However, there’s not a great deal of variety elsewhere in the map terrain. Whether you’re fighting your way through a mining complex or a saloon or a church and graveyard, they’re all composed of the same basic pieces: The same walls that provide full cover and the same waist-high structures that provide half-cover, the same ground you can run across, the same ladders and staircases that let you reach upper or lower floors. There are few new situations to deal with–no dark areas that restrict your vision or swampy ground that slows your movement, for example–and no attempts to deliver any sort of dynamic changes to the encounters other than what the enemies themselves can bring.

You can interact with some objects in the environment, which provides a little additional variety. The lid of a nearby sturdy crate can be flicked open to transform half-cover into full, or a table can be flipped over in classic Western bar shootout-style and used as cover. But these aspects are minimal and don’t fundamentally alter your approach.

Better are the environmental objects that serve the Ricochet ability inherent in certain guns. Triggering this ability lets you target specific objects–often a metal drum or pipe or similar–to bounce your shot off them and onto an enemy you couldn’t otherwise hit with a clear shot. Maybe you can’t get a bead on the guy inside that building, but you can hit the stove behind him and rebound the bullet into his back.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

The Ricochet ability does fundamentally alter your approach in that it opens up the possibility space of the map. You’re now having to calculate a whole new series of angles when considering where to position your characters, not just those vectors that may allow you to get a shot on the enemy but how that enemy may be able to use Ricochet to get at you. In fact, it’s a sign of how effective the ability is at expanding the tactical board that even on the very final mission, I still found myself caught out by an enemy puncturing my careful squad positioning with one well-placed ricocheted shot that I simply hadn’t noticed was possible.

Much like that final mission enemy, Hard West 2 gets it right where it counts. Despite some thin RPG trappings, it’s ultimately a highly-accomplished game of tactical combat with two or three genuinely terrific ideas executed exceptionally well. While it does suffer from a lack of imagination in some of its map design, that doesn’t detract too much from how enjoyable it is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your posse and find creative ways to put down hordes of Wild West demons.

Two Point Campus Review – Old School

There’s a familiarity and comfort to Two Point Campus’ early hours, from the whimsical claymation style of its characters to its distinctly British humor and jaunty music. It might trade doctors and patients for teachers and students, but if you played Two Point Hospital, you’ll feel right at home in Two Point Studios’ latest business management sim.

As the hours roll by and you graduate to different college campuses, however, Two Point Campus begins to carve out an identity that’s all its own. Two Point Hospital was a relatively safe spiritual successor to Theme Hospital, essentially recreating the ’90s classic with modern technology and amenities. Two Point Campus maintains that same reverence for its roots, but it also embraces its fresh new setting in a way that captures more of the magic that made Theme Hospital so beloved.

You take on the role of a campus administrator, charged with building and maintaining various schools throughout Two Point County. This means you’ll be managing both the micro and macro aspects of your college empire, whether you’re designing the internal and external layout of each building, hiring staff, or researching new technologies to improve various facets of your school. All of this is in service of keeping your students happy and ensuring they’re given the tools they need to not only graduate with good grades, but also enjoy themselves and learn a few lessons about life along the way.

Meeting your students’ wants and needs is an integral part of Two Point Campus. In Two Point Hospital, your job was to make sure patients were in a good-enough mood to stick around long enough to be treated. Now, you’re not just dealing with people for a brief hospital stay, but being given three academic years to shape a student’s future, watch them grow, and hopefully, see them flourish. Basic needs like food and drink, hygiene, and establishing a comfortable temperature are all important, but there’s more nuance to their happiness as well.

Early on, you’re told you need to fulfill the three Rs: relaxation, rest, and relief. You can build dormitories to give your charges a place to sleep and recharge; a student union to provide them with entertainment and a space to relax in; libraries so they have access to learning resources and an area where they can study; and private tutoring so those struggling can get some crucial one-on-one time with a teacher. There are also items that will help foster friendships and romance, or make your campus a more appealing place to live. Students will use benches to sit and converse, building bonds that boost their happiness. Stick a few arcade games in the student lounge and they’ll play against each other, while best friends might blow the love trumpet.

It’s heartwarming stuff, and all of these interlocking systems have a noticeable impact on student performance. Better grades mean more money and prestige for the school, so everything cycles back to a grading system you have a tangible effect on. Balancing the positives and negatives of each item and activity is key. Throwing parties is an easy way to quickly boost happiness, for instance, but you don’t want to overdo it and hamper your student’s studying. Filling the corridors of your campus with vending machines is a simple way to satiate your students’ thirst and hunger, but these options aren’t the healthiest and will send their hygiene tumbling. You can rectify this with food kiosks, yet these require a member of staff to manage, so you need enough of a cash flow coming in to pay their wages.

Lots of colorful graphs, floor charts, and visualizers make it relatively easy to keep on top of things and figure out why students might be unhappy in a particular area or struggling to improve their grades. It never feels overwhelming, either, since Two Point Campus does an excellent job of easing you into its various mechanics with a gradual progression system. You begin your career at Freshleigh Meadows, a modest school with a scientific focus. Here, you’re introduced to the basics and learn how to use the game’s intuitive tools to build rooms and place furnishings, all while getting an idea of the type of digs each college needs–such as staff rooms, lecture rooms, toilets, and so on.

Two Point Campus maintains reverence for its roots, but it also embraces its fresh new setting in a way that captures more of the magic that made Theme Hospital so beloved

Numerous objectives keep you focused on completing specific tasks–whether you’re asked to achieve a certain number of A grades or exceed 70% student happiness–and each one that’s ticked off edges your campus closer to becoming a coveted three-star college. This, in turn, unlocks more schools for you to manage, with every subsequent campus growing in both size and complexity. Each one introduces new concepts, giving you an environment to grasp how particular mechanics work before you step foot in the latter schools and enter full plate spinning territory.

There are a few too many instances in the early hours of the game where you have nothing to do except sit around and wait for progress bars to finish, and the fast-forward function never feels quite fast enough to alleviate the delay. Thankfully, this is the only drawback to Two Point Campus’ steady onboarding approach. Before long, you’ll be researching ways to improve all of your educational materials and training your staff so that their teaching is more effective or your janitors are able to more efficiently fix broken air conditioning units and toilets. You’ll be buying up additional real estate to construct new buildings and fill them with more classrooms and extracurricular activities, or introducing student clubs that provide members with unique abilities. The book club nerds will receive a bonus to their learning speed, for example, while those in the napping club can get some extra shut-eye in the corridors to regain energy.

When it comes to classes, Two Point Campus adopts the eccentric style of its predecessor’s illnesses–if not in concept, then at least in visual design. Giant steaming cauldrons sit in the middle of classrooms cooking enormous burgers and cakes; students use 3D printers to construct towering robots; while the field outside plays host to a sport that revolves around throwing cheese past a goalkeeper wielding a grater. Each campus specializes in a specific class, from scientography and gastronomy to spy school and wizardry, but you can introduce other courses to any campus, perhaps mixing knight and clown school together to bring all of the costumed students together in one place. Some of the other courses provide benefits, too, like music students being able to put on gigs in the student union, cutting down on the cost it usually takes to hire a performer.

Or you can simply hone your attention on each specialty, using course points to upgrade classes, thus bringing in more students and increasing the chances of them earning top grades. Doing so requires more classrooms and space to study, but the summer break in between academic years gives you welcome space to build and make tweaks before students return. This also presents decisions for you to ponder in regards to how your campus is constructed. Bigger rooms allow for more furnishings, increasing that room’s prestige and making staff and students happier when using it. But you’re always working with a finite amount of space. You can build smaller, less effective rooms, but cover a wider range of modules, adding some important decision-making to the moment-to-moment gameplay of expanding your school. Crucially, Two Point Campus also adds the option to construct your own buildings, giving you more options and lending a personal touch to your campus.

Developing the exterior is crucial, too, since you can spruce up your college’s attractiveness, whether you’re placing down trees, fountains, or colorful gardens. The tools at your disposal are also robust enough that you can agonize over the spacing between vending machines and bookshelves, losing hours at a time to simply furnishing your college with all manner of trimmings. There are aforementioned gameplay perks to decking out each room since staff and students will perform better in attractive settings, but it’s also just fun to add detail to the grand and finer parts of your college.

One area where Two Point Campus falters is in the minor grind that accompanies the start of each new school. You can save templates of any room you’ve built, which does alleviate this somewhat, but having to build the same dormitories, lecture rooms, and bathrooms over and over again becomes a bit of a chore. It doesn’t take long to do, but it does present a barrier you’ll want to rush through to reach the new content each campus introduces.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

I also ran into a couple of other issues, although it’s not entirely clear if these were glitches or underlying issues with the way the game presents information. I had a few instances where teachers would refuse to teach a class with no clear reason why, opting instead to roam the corridors endlessly looking for work. Trying to figure out how to achieve certain goals can also be difficult because of how overly vague some aspects are. At one point I was tasked with keeping my students’ average hygiene above 75%, but all of the toilets, showers, trash cans, hand sanitizer, and janitors in the world couldn’t stop that percentage from plummeting. There is a hygiene visualizer, but this just showed me which toilets and beds needed attention from a janitor. In the end, I only managed to complete the objective because most of the students left during the summer, so maybe college attendees are just a smelly bunch.

These issues aside, Two Point Campus is a marked improvement on Two Point Hospital. The college setting makes for a more personable and heartfelt game, where partying, romance, and forming friendships is just as important as attending classes and studying. A plethora of interlocking systems brings it all together and digs deep into the management side of the equation without ever feeling overwhelming. The gradual stream of new concepts makes starting up at a new school exciting, and additional building tools mean there’s more customization at your fingertips than ever before. It maintains the series’ charm and wit, too, with some biting satire to boot, and ensures that Two Point Campus graduates with flying colors.

MultiVersus Review: A Super Smash Hit

MultiVersus frames itself as the ultimate crossover fighter, a sort of “dream come true” scenario where anyone can face off against anyone else. It’s a bold proclamation challenging the reign of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a game that features an unmatched all-star cast of video game characters duking it out. Many pretenders to that throne have come and gone but, surprisingly, MultiVersus makes a compelling claim. The game, which is in open public beta, has strong fundamentals, charm, and attention to detail that Smash clones that came before sorely lacked, making it one of the best platform fighting games ever made.

MultiVersus follows the basic Smash Bros format: up to four players meet on a single battlefield and fight it out, with the goal of increasing damage enough to knock their opponents out of bounds. The first team to score four knockouts in a match–or the first fighter to score two knockouts in a 1v1 match–wins. So far, so Smash. However, MultiVersus puts far more emphasis on the 2v2 format, quickly establishing its own identity in the process.

Mechanically, every fighter on the roster has moves that negatively affect opponents, while simultaneously having positive effects on teammates. For example, whenever Shaggy charges to full power–a brilliant use of the Ultra Instinct Shaggy meme–his partner also receives a power bump for their next attack. One of Wonder Woman’s special attacks gives her a layer of special armor for added defense, and if she’s close enough to her partner, she’ll immediately jump to them and give them the buff too. This idea of teamwork and synergy being baked into the fundamentals of MultiVersus is a fresh and welcome change to the format, with no two matches ever feeling the same. The partner dynamic also strengthens the 2v2 mode, making it feel like the core format developers intend people to play.

Part of that synergy also comes through the perk system, with characters earning permanent buffs that can be equipped before a match and stacked between two teammates. The Wildcat Brawler perk, for instance, increases the damage of all grounded melee attacks for a team by five percent when equipped by one player, with that percentage doubled if both players equip it. As you level up characters, you can also borrow perks from teammates before a match begins–guaranteeing stacks if planned correctly–or even train a character to learn new perks using in-game gold. It’s an ingenious system with multitudes of permutations, especially when borrowing and training come into the mix, and it achieves a level of strategic planning unlike anything a platform fighter has ever seen before.

More impressively, the bulk of MultiVersus’s modes also feature online play. In free for all pitting up to four human players against each other, and cross-play capabilities allowing consoles and PC to intermingle. There have been a few stutters here and there, and the occasional “now you see me, now you don’t” moments when a bad connection causes an opponent to spontaneously teleport around a map instead of walking, but the bulk of the matches played have been smooth sailing. Accomplishing this when there’s only two players in a match is an achievement by itself, but making the network function with four people across any number of environments–console or PC–is a herculean task, and for the majority of the time, MultiVersus holds its own.

MultiVersus has strong fundamentals, charm, and attention to detail that Smash clones that came before sorely lacked, making it one of the best platform fighting games ever made

The roster isn’t quite as large as the more established Smash Bros. Ultimate cast, but it’s off to a terrific start. Velma Dinkley joins the aforementioned Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo franchise, while Wonder Woman reps DC Comics with Batman, Superman, and Harley Quinn. Steven Universe’s Steven and Garnet made the cut, as did Bugs Bunny and Taz from Looney Tunes, and Jake the Dog and Finn the Human from Adventure Time. The 17-character roster is rounded out by Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, iconic cat and mouse duo Tom and Jerry, the Iron Giant, Space Jam’s version of Lebron James, and Reindog, an original creation by developer Player First Games; he’s the goodest of good boys.

The majority of the roster will not be available to most players when they first log on. This is a free-to-play game after all, and with that distinction also comes microtransactions complete with multiple currencies. The game does offer a rotating list of four trial characters, but the bulk of the fighters will be locked. Luckily you can earn these fighters with in-game gold along with the premium currency called Gleamium, which is purchased with real money. However, the grind to unlock every character through gold is longer than it should be.

Case in point: When the trial character rotation changed after the early access period ended, I had earned enough gold through playing the game to purchase three of the four characters from the previous rotation, with the fourth coming only one day later. Around 10 hours of gameplay for four characters might sound fine to the most dedicated players, but that means it will take around 40 hours to unlock the entire roster–and by that time, at least 1-2 more fighters will be added.

This also doesn’t include the cosmetics that are only available for purchase with Gleamium, including costume variants for the cast, special announcer packs where the game’s characters serve as the match announcer, and more. Tack on a battle pass with both free and premium tiers and the monetization is strong in MultiVersus. While the free-to-play grind here isn’t a complete turn-off, more generosity with in-game gold–or the option to purchase everything with gold or Gleamium–would lessen the sting. That said, the game does prove that free-to-play can work with fighting games, positioning it as a trendsetter for the entire genre.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

The announcer packs do a great job of highlighting the voice acting in MultiVersus, which ranks among the best we’ve ever heard. Every one of the characters is brimming with personality thanks to an all-star cast of performers returning to characters they helped popularize, including Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, and Kevin Conroy as Batman. These aren’t random one-off lines that repeat ad nauseum either; there is a level of care and detail in some of the dialogue that goes above and beyond what we’d expected. Characters will address the other combatants before, during, and after battles with witty banter that simply can’t be heard anywhere else. Hearing Bugs Bunny call Arya Stark “the belle of Winterfell” will never not earn a smile, just as hearing Superman say “let’s see how iron stacks up against steel” to the Iron Giant will never not sound surreal.

“Surreal” is actually a perfect word to describe MultiVersus, a game that brings together iconic characters and makes them fight. These characters are as authentic as they come, feeling as if they’ve been ripped straight from their source material thanks to excellent voice work. The team-based mechanics are truly beyond anything else offered in a platform fighter, while the classic 1v1 format also impresses. The roster offers plenty of variety, though unlocking all of the characters without having to dip into the real-world wallet will definitely be a chore. We don’t know how much of its power MultiVersus has tapped into yet–the open beta will soon give way to Season 1–but as it stands now the game has smashed any and all expectations. Even if MultiVersus doesn’t unseat the king, it is more than ready to rule its own little corner of the kingdom.

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review – Dynasty Brawlers

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms takes the familiar characters and art style from the Kunio series–best known for River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball in the West–and applies it to a unique new setting: the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. It’s an unexpected mash-up, with familiar characters like Kunio, Riki, and Misako playing dress-up as historical figures, and blending the classical story of warring kingdoms with modern-day smack-talk. Similarly, the gameplay is a mixture of eras, blending some modern-day brawler conventions into a game that is decidedly old-school.

The visual style reflects this mixture, with chunky 8-bit-style sprites set against 3D backgrounds and shading techniques. The setting itself makes a very endearing mixture, albeit not the ideal way to learn Chinese history. I went into the game with only a passing familiarity with the Three Kingdoms saga, and while I’m sure I picked up a few broad strokes and overall ideas, it was sometimes hard to discern what was true to the original story and what was the Kunio series riffing with its own personality and jokes. The major characters are mostly lovable, muscley doofs, true to the Kunio series but perhaps less so to Chinese history.

<div class="js-video-player-new av-video-player av-desktop-player av-video-on-demand is-vid-loading is-vid-noseek is-vid-show-controls " tabindex="0" data-id="321235035" data-promo-id="0" data-video="{"adCall":{"host":"http:\/\/pubads.g.doubleclick.net\/gampad\/ads?","params":{"iu":"\/22309610186\/vaw-gamespot\/desktop\/gamespot.com","impl":"s","gdfp_req":1,"env":"vp","output":"xml_vmap1","unviewed_position_start":1,"url":"[referrer_url]","correlator":"[timestamp]","cmsid":2566084,"vid":6458081,"pp":"vpaid_js"},"custParams":{"ptype":"review","cid":"gs-1900-6417925","game":"river-city-saga-three-kingdoms","genre":"2d,action,beat-em-up","con":"nintendo-switch,playstation-4,pc","franchise":"river-city-kunio-kun","publisher":"arc-system-works","embed":"autoplay","partner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","vid":6458081},"soundBasedSize":{"normal":"640×480","muted":"640×483","none":"640×480"},"daiSsbUrl":"https:\/\/dai.google.com\/ondemand\/hls\/content\/2572465\/vid\/6458081\/master.m3u8","daiMidRollHost":2500176},"adPartner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","ageGateCookieName":"videoAgeGateBirthday","autoplay":true,"cms":"pi","countdownTime":0,"cuePoints":null,"datePublished":1651173060,"desktopAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","device":"other","guid":"gs-2300-6458081","id":6458081,"isDevice":false,"isLiveStream":false,"lengthSeconds":74,"mapp":"gamespot","mobileAdPartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","partner":"gamespot","postPlayMax":100,"premium":false,"screenMediumThumb":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/a\/uploads\/screen_medium\/1574\/15746725\/3970580-screenshot2022-04-28121124.png","seekablePlaybacks":["html5","uvpjs"],"share":{"linkUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/river-city-saga-three-kingdoms-announcement-trailer\/2300-6458081\/","embedUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/embed\/6458081\/","embedHtml":{"640":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n","480":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"}},"siteType":"responsive web","startMuted":false,"startTime":0,"title":"River%20City%20Saga%3A%20Three%20Kingdoms%20announcement%20trailer","tracking":[{"name":"SiteCatalyst","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"charSet","value":"UTF-8"},{"name":"currencyCode","value":"USD"},{"name":"siteType","value":"responsive web"},{"name":"trackingServer","value":"saa.gamespot.com"},{"name":"visitorNamespace","value":"cbsinteractive"},{"name":"heartbeatTrackingServer","value":"newimagitasinc.hb.omtrdc.net"},{"name":"heartbeatVisitorMarketingCloudOrgId","value":"3C66570E5FE1A4AB0A495FFC@AdobeOrg"},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"siteCode","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"brand","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"account","value":"cbsigamespotsite"},{"name":"edition","value":"us"}]},{"name":"ComScore_ss","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"c2","value":"31824268"},{"name":"publishersSecret","value":"2cb08ca4d095dd734a374dff8422c2e5"},{"name":"c3","value":""},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"c4","value":"gamespot"}]},{"name":"NielsenTracking","category":"tracking","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"host","value":"https:\/\/secure-us.imrworldwide.com\/cgi-bin\/m?"},{"name":"scCI","value":"us-200330"},{"name":"scC6","value":"vc,c01"}]},{"name":"MuxQOSPluginJS","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"propertyKey","value":"b7d6e48b7461a61cb6e863a62"}]}],"trackingAccount":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingPrimaryId":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingSiteCode":"gs","userId":0,"uvpHi5Ima":"https:\/\/s0.2mdn.net\/instream\/html5\/ima3.js","uvpc":"","uvpjsHostname":"\/\/www.gamespot.com","videoAdMobilePartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","videoAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","videoAssetSource":"Publisher Asset","videoStreams":{"adaptive_stream":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8","adaptive_dash":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.mpd","adaptive_hd":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_high":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_low":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_restricted":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/04\/28\/41f4074a-c340-44a6-8479-6d473b3d8f06\/trailer_rivercity_threekingdoms_reveal_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8"},"videoType":"video-on-demand","watchedCookieDays":1,"watchedCookieName":"watchedVideoIds"}” data-non-iframe-embed=”1″ readability=”8.3483412322275″>

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Click To Unmute

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.

This video has an invalid file format.

Sorry, but you can’t access this content!

Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: River City Saga: Three Kingdoms announcement trailer

Like River City Ransom, the bulk of the game consists of beating up street punks, or in this case, bandits or opposing factions of warriors. Since you’re in a war, you’re usually accompanied by one or two allies who fight on their own as well. But River City Ransom was always a loose and goofy brawler. Even in its day, it wasn’t as precise as Final Fight, which came out in the very same year. River City Saga fashions itself much more after the River City Ransom style of game, where movement and attacks feel a little more slippery and you’re prone to being tossed around by enemy attacks.

What River City Saga lacks in precision, though, it makes up for with loads of combat options. Like RCR, you can visit shops to learn a wide variety of moves and assign them to your punch and kick attacks, but you can also customize your aerial punches and kicks, special effects for your weapon throws, body throws, and your special attack. You can also set special commands for found weapon types like swords and spears, while more unconventional options can also be discovered, such as a wooden cart you can roll around.

Beyond that, you have Tactics, large, battlefield-filling effects that approximate your character’s commanding armies. You can rain fiery arrows down on your foes or flood them with a deluge of water. These are limited by a refillable Tactics meter, making them functionally work like an ultimate move. But there is also an actual, specifically named Ultimate Move that you can set, giving yourself special abilities like slowing time.

The array of options is absolutely dizzying at first. And the tutorials for them are inelegant, with text boxes that use numbers as labels, rather than describing things with words, making an extra mental step to understand what each piece of the interface is or does. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s easy to hone in on the moves that you like best. Around halfway through the campaign, I found an aerial punch, Hawk Fist, that would let me bounce off enemies’ heads. I spent the rest of the game pogo-ing my way across the battlefield, Ducktales-style, cackling as I barely touched the ground. It was a genuine hoot.

The focus on relatively large-scale battles came with its pitfalls, though. At least on Steam Deck, I experienced a fair amount of performance issues when a battlefield was especially crowded, or even when visiting a town with more than a handful of NPCs. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed in the scrum with the scads of squat muscle-men sprites blocking each other, so you can temporarily lose track of your allies or even yourself.

The game occasionally tries to mix up its pace with something other than battles, and these handful of moments feel frustrating and lackluster. At one point, I was faced with an environmental puzzle that was unlike anything else the game presented before or afterward, and it wasn’t terribly clear what I was even meant to do. Another time, I had to complete a platforming challenge to climb a mountain, and in a game that is really not built for precise platforming, I slipped and fell back to the bottom frequently. There are also a few fetch quests for crafting resources that force you to go out and punch trees or straw bales to advance the story. These didn’t add to the experience in any particular way, and they didn’t play to the game’s strengths, so I was left feeling like the experience would be better off without them.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

Three Kingdoms is fairly short, consisting of six chapters that last an hour or so apiece. It can last much longer if you take on lots of side quests, and after completing the main campaign, you unlock harder difficulties with better loot. Fast Travel between towns is also unlocked early and costs pocket change, so once you’ve unlocked most of the map, it’s very easy to just hop around between battles and story sequences. But that practice can also make it very talky, as you’re often just fast-traveling from story sequence to story sequence, skipping all the random enemy encounters you would naturally hit in-between.

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms isn’t as revolutionary as River City Ransom or as subversive and modernized as River City Girls. It exists in a middle ground, with loads of combat options and modern quality-of-life conveniences presented in a gameplay style reminiscent of the original NES game. The Three Kingdoms setting is a cute and clever way to contextualize the concept, making for a breezy little homage adventure.

Bear And Breakfast Review – Four Star Stay

You’re getting pretty much exactly what you sign up for with Bear and Breakfast: You’re playing as a bear named Hank who opens up several bed and breakfasts to host humans looking for a place to stay. Developer Gummy Cat does sprinkle in a bit of an adventure game in this management sim to act as a narrative backdrop, but Bear and Breakfast’s story is simple window dressing for the far more wonderful cycle of building up a lodge, hosting some guests, and then using your hard-earned cash to afford grander renovations. The loop has a satisfying rhythm to it and a challenging complexity as the days roll on and your responsibilities grow, and Bear and Breakfast rewards creative solutions with fulfilling results.

Despite that complexity, you don’t need to jump into this game with a degree in design. Bear and Breakfast eases you in, with Hank and his friends simply trying to make a quick buck by transforming a rundown shed into a vacation spot. Making a room to house a guest isn’t all that hard, as even the small shed is spacious enough for both a room and your front desk. As you progress, you’ll unlock additional locations–like a restaurant off the freeway and two cabins up in the mountains–which are larger and afford you even more space.

No Caption Provided

With the increase in size comes an increase in considerations, though. Humans are selfish creatures, with wants and needs that you’ll need to account for–failing to do so will mean negative reviews, which will tank your business. Some guests require bathrooms attached to their rooms, while others want free on-site food, a nearby campsite, a fully decked-out movie theater, or heating. These services take up additional space on your property, forcing you to put those Tetris skills to the test and find a means of getting everything to fit and still look nice.

Bear and Breakfast’s delightful management system is based on grids and blocks, so constructing the perfect motel is like putting together a puzzle and fitting things together, only there’s no right answer. Once you’ve created a room, you can decorate it with anything you’ve got stocked up in your inventory, all of which can be rotated and fit into an empty space with a satisfying snap. Every item contributes to your bed and breakfast in some way–an increase in comfort, for example–and solving the puzzle of each open space requires you to figure out how to squeeze in everything to meet the needs of your future guests.

Each type of room has a minimum size and furniture requirement, which acts as a great starting point when you’re planning everything out. That won’t get you far if you’re looking to attract pickier and more loaded guests, however. Making rooms bigger allows you to fit larger, fancier furniture, like a queen-sized bed for the bedroom or a buffet serving station for the dining room. It’s a lot of fun to stare at an empty space and try to fathom how you’re going to possibly fit five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and an assortment of other services into it, and then, with a spurt of creative genius, you manage to find a way.

Obviously, you could just host one guest at a time, completely remaking your properties every other day to fit the next arrival. Doing so is costly, however–money is needed to make new rooms, and so you won’t make much of a profit destroying and making new rooms in order to fit the ideal of every guest that crosses your doorstep. The good money lies in making a multi-roomed bed and breakfast that can host many guests at once, and still features enough amenities to keep a variety of humans happy. And then, over time, breaking down a single room and building it back even better to attract a richer clientele and slowly doing that with every room across multiple locations.

No Caption Provided

You’ll earn plenty of incentives beyond simple coin when building and rebuilding properties too, especially once you have two or three up and running and can pause service at one to completely redesign it while still making money elsewhere. Each property comes with an assortment of unique challenges (tasks like, “try to build this many rooms within the space” or “raise the prestige of the dining area to this specific level”), and completing them nets you some nice rewards, like larger inventory space, faster walking speed, or being able to craft items even when you’re not at a crafting table.

These optional challenges also help in kickstarting your creativity when you may be engaging in bad practices without even realizing it. For instance, I didn’t think one of my properties could even fit more than four rooms and four bathrooms until I saw a task asking me to do it. Figuring out how to make that work benefited me in the long run, as it forced me to learn the importance of conserving space–an incredibly helpful lesson to grasp ahead of tackling the endgame and final property. Setting up that final bed and breakfast is a lot, but it felt like I had been adequately trained to overcome that gauntlet through the series of challenges I had been asked to complete up to that point.

I also love that Bear and Breakfast features multiple properties, as opposed to one bed and breakfast that you’re forced to focus on over the course of its runtime. The different locales are located in vastly different environments and each is differently shaped too–from a small rectangular shed in the forest to a massive two-story L-shaped cabin in the mountains–so you’re not tackling the exact same problem over and over. You’re always trying to make the best bed and breakfast you can, but how you go about it evolves with each new location that you unlock. You only need to worry about investing in heating in the game’s two colder locations, for example, and your guests will ask for higher standards when it comes to comfort and good hygiene in the arid desert in comparison to the lush forest. Your solutions for tackling one property might not work on another, encouraging you to grow as a designer and experiment further as the game goes on and you take on a greater variety of bed and breakfasts.

No Caption ProvidedNo Caption Provided

If you need a break from all the building and planning, spending time away from your properties is also worthwhile, as you’ll find plenty to help you throughout the valley and woods that Hank calls home. While exploring, you’ll find materials needed to craft furniture and ingredients that can be cooked into a wide variety of delicious dishes. Perhaps most helpful is the trash that your human guests leave behind–incentivizing you to have as many guests as possible in order to accrue a large amount of litter–as it can be spent at raccoon-owned dumpsters to buy fancy cosmetics like rugs, house plants, and bookshelves. These decorations can increase the reputation of a property, bringing in guests with deeper pockets.

As you explore, you’ll meet plenty of colorful critters and helpful humans, from a shy goat to a friendly park ranger. Assisting them with their tasks will oftentimes benefit you, unlocking perks like new cooking recipes or staff that can oversee certain services at your properties while you’re out and about. There’s not too much to these characters’ stories, though I found myself helping each one all the same–the promise of new services being incentive enough to go out of my way and get my friends out of whatever pickle they’d found themselves in.

It’s in these interactions that you also get characterization for Hank. Frankly, there’s not much to him beyond being a swell guy that likes to help people, and in his discovery that he has a knack for decorating and hosting humans, he finds his purpose. He is cute though, and I love the game’s adorable translations for how his well-articulated sentences actually sound to humans. Though the animal characters all seem to be included to add some charming humor, the human characters are pretty fascinating and my favorite faces to see in the game. Barbara is especially well written, with her good-natured disposition hiding a somewhat tragic backstory that ties into the game’s spookier elements.

Those spookier elements are only hinted at in Bear and Breakfast. The only explicit tell that they’re there are the game’s opening–in which Hank dreams of a nightmarish entity hidden in the woods–and then the reveal of Barbara’s past near the end of the game. The rest is scattered about in optional collectibles and hidden quests, tying Bear and Breakfast’s cutesy tale to a dark past of political upheaval and a dangerous cult. These elements don’t seem to lead to any sort of meaningful conclusions (at least as far as I’ve seen), which I found to be somewhat disappointing–those small threads are interesting and I had hoped they’d go somewhere.

No Caption ProvidedNo Caption Provided

That’s not what Bear and Breakfast is largely about, though. This is a game all about making your business pop off and maybe befriending a colorful critter or two along the way. I would have liked to discover that the spookier narrative elements amount to something more, but the enjoyable management sim that I found instead kept me pleasantly entertained for hours, offering plenty of creative challenges for me to puzzle my way through, all in the name of making the cutest set of bed and breakfasts there’s ever been.

PowerWash Simulator Review – Filthy Rich

At one point while playing PowerWash Simulator, I referred to it as “time-consuming.” I meant this in the context of planning my time to write this review, but it occurred to me that in this case it’s also a statement of identity. PowerWash Simulator consumes time–that’s just what it does, and what it’s meant to do. Like many chore-core games, it exists to be a satisfying activity, not a challenge. That can make it feel tedious and repetitive at times, but taken in small doses, it’s a pleasant, low-impact, and very satisfying approximation of cleaning.

As the name suggests, PowerWash Simulator puts you into the rubber galoshes of a burgeoning power-washing business owner in the absolutely disgusting town of Muckingham. Just about everything is covered with a thick layer of grime, and you’re just the person to clean up this town. You start with some basic equipment and a dirt-caked business van–your very first job and then a prop at every job site thereafter–and get called to increasingly complex jobs as you develop a loyal clientele.

<div class="js-video-player-new av-video-player av-desktop-player av-video-on-demand is-vid-loading is-vid-noseek is-vid-show-controls " tabindex="0" data-id="92931" data-promo-id="0" data-video="{"adCall":{"host":"http:\/\/pubads.g.doubleclick.net\/gampad\/ads?","params":{"iu":"\/22309610186\/vaw-gamespot\/desktop\/gamespot.com","impl":"s","gdfp_req":1,"env":"vp","output":"xml_vmap1","unviewed_position_start":1,"url":"[referrer_url]","correlator":"[timestamp]","cmsid":2566084,"vid":6458893,"pp":"vpaid_js"},"custParams":{"ptype":"review","cid":"gs-1900-6417923","game":"powerwash-simulator","genre":"simulation","con":"pc,xbox-series-x,xbox-one","publisher":"square-enix-collective,square-enix","embed":"autoplay","partner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","vid":6458893},"soundBasedSize":{"normal":"640×480","muted":"640×483","none":"640×480"},"daiSsbUrl":"https:\/\/dai.google.com\/ondemand\/hls\/content\/2572465\/vid\/6458893\/master.m3u8","daiMidRollHost":2500176},"adPartner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","ageGateCookieName":"videoAgeGateBirthday","autoplay":true,"cms":"pi","countdownTime":0,"cuePoints":null,"datePublished":1657817760,"desktopAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","device":"other","guid":"gs-2300-6458893","id":6458893,"isDevice":false,"isLiveStream":false,"lengthSeconds":97,"mapp":"gamespot","mobileAdPartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","partner":"gamespot","postPlayMax":100,"premium":false,"screenMediumThumb":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/a\/uploads\/screen_medium\/1574\/15746725\/4004803-untitled%286%29.png","seekablePlaybacks":["html5","uvpjs"],"share":{"linkUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/powerwash-simulator-launch-trailer\/2300-6458893\/","embedUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/embed\/6458893\/","embedHtml":{"640":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n","480":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"}},"siteType":"responsive web","startMuted":false,"startTime":0,"title":"PowerWash%20Simulator%20Launch%20Trailer","tracking":[{"name":"SiteCatalyst","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"charSet","value":"UTF-8"},{"name":"currencyCode","value":"USD"},{"name":"siteType","value":"responsive web"},{"name":"trackingServer","value":"saa.gamespot.com"},{"name":"visitorNamespace","value":"cbsinteractive"},{"name":"heartbeatTrackingServer","value":"newimagitasinc.hb.omtrdc.net"},{"name":"heartbeatVisitorMarketingCloudOrgId","value":"3C66570E5FE1A4AB0A495FFC@AdobeOrg"},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"siteCode","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"brand","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"account","value":"cbsigamespotsite"},{"name":"edition","value":"us"}]},{"name":"ComScore_ss","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"c2","value":"31824268"},{"name":"publishersSecret","value":"2cb08ca4d095dd734a374dff8422c2e5"},{"name":"c3","value":""},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"c4","value":"gamespot"}]},{"name":"NielsenTracking","category":"tracking","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"host","value":"https:\/\/secure-us.imrworldwide.com\/cgi-bin\/m?"},{"name":"scCI","value":"us-200330"},{"name":"scC6","value":"vc,c01"}]},{"name":"MuxQOSPluginJS","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"propertyKey","value":"b7d6e48b7461a61cb6e863a62"}]}],"trackingAccount":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingPrimaryId":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingSiteCode":"gs","userId":0,"uvpHi5Ima":"https:\/\/s0.2mdn.net\/instream\/html5\/ima3.js","uvpc":"","uvpjsHostname":"\/\/www.gamespot.com","videoAdMobilePartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","videoAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","videoAssetSource":"Publisher Asset","videoStreams":{"adaptive_stream":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8","adaptive_dash":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.mpd","adaptive_hd":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_high":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_low":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_restricted":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/14\/6f0639e5-5be5-4511-a9d0-1183ebde2df3\/trailer_powerwashsim_launch_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8"},"videoType":"video-on-demand","watchedCookieDays":1,"watchedCookieName":"watchedVideoIds"}” data-non-iframe-embed=”1″ readability=”8.0022714366837″>

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Click To Unmute

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.

This video has an invalid file format.

Sorry, but you can’t access this content!

Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: PowerWash Simulator Launch Trailer

That may make the story sound more expansive than it actually is. While Muckingham has a good sense of personality thanks to a motley cast of weirdos, we never actually see any of them face to face. All of their dialogue is delivered through messages requisitioning you for jobs or text messages they send while you’re in the middle of a job. These are often funny and add a little personality, as they detail everything from interpersonal rivalries to corrupt local politics to conspiracy theories. No one really seems to notice or comment on why the entire town is so absurdly filthy, but the texts sometimes toy with those expectations, seeming to tease some larger or even supernatural force at play and then pulling back toward the mundanity of an especially dirty suburb.

There’s a soothing rhythm to power-washing surfaces, complete with a satisfying “ding” whenever you complete a particular piece of a job. There’s something primal and instinctive about washing away the filth, watching as a grubby mess gains a wet sheen of cleanliness. It just feels good, somewhere in the deepest recesses of our lizard-brains. Cleaning provides a different kind of satisfaction than organizing in a game like Unpacking, but the two sensations are similar. And each completed job ends with a quick montage of your own cleaning progress, which is a nice cherry on top of the fulfilling feeling.

The sound design is quiet and contemplative, but more often than not, I found myself listening to podcasts, like I do when completing my own actual chores around the house. That makes it easy for minutes to turn into hours as you get into the zone and clean, without any of the physical fatigue of doing actual chores.

As the jobs get more complex, you’ll gather enough money to buy better equipment, chief among these being a series of better power washers. These are mostly elegantly balanced, giving you more efficient cleaning power just as you start to feel your old tools are no longer keeping up with the demands of these newer, larger tasks. The one major exception was when I had spent hours saving up for a top-of-the-line washer, the best and final one, and I had just one more job to complete before I could afford it. I was excited to get started and earn that little bit of extra money I needed. But upon starting that job, I discovered that it needed an expensive extender attachment. As far as I could tell, the job would be impossible to complete without the extender, or at least far more difficult than the game is meant to be. So I bit the bullet and bought the attachment, setting back my progress on the washer I had been ogling for several more hours. This seems to be how the in-game economy was meant to work, delaying the best washer for a few more jobs, but I couldn’t help but feel that the rug had been pulled out from under me.

And while the game is never exactly challenging, finding the last few spots of dirt can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. I found myself knowing I needed to clean a particular part, but scratching my head at what an “Upper Deck Rim Joist” even is. PowerWash Simulator gives you a few tools to locate remaining dirt spots, including a shortcut button that makes any remaining dirt glow orange and the option to highlight individual pieces through the menu. But for larger jobs, even those tools start to become insufficient, as you can be looking directly at a part that needs attention and fail to see where exactly to find that last bit of gunk. It never demands absolute perfection, and will consider an area complete when you cross some invisible “close enough” threshold, but it can still be a pain.

This is especially the case when it comes to structures that have lots of tiny parts and corners tucked behind other parts. Getting your washer into those tiny crevices can feel a bit trial-and-error, and sometimes I just turned on my narrowest sprayer and waggled it around until the game marked the piece as complete.

For tiny, fiddly, hard-to-reach cleaning spots, though, nothing matches the wide array of vehicles. While most of the jobs in PowerWash Simulator are large structures like houses, parks, and carnival rides, many of the smaller jobs are vehicles like classic cars, helicopters, and even a massive drill. These jobs technically cover less space, but they’re much more prone toward tiny detail work with grime hiding in grills or underneath cosmetic features and irregular shapes. As a result, I found these much less relaxing than the larger superstructures, and with lower payouts to boot. Progress is gated behind them, though, so I didn’t have much choice but to clean every last crevice.

That may have contributed to an overall feeling of tedium that eventually set in with PowerWash Simulator. It’s well-made and relaxing, but the campaign is as long as some mid-size RPGs, so the mechanics have a hard time sustaining such a long playtime–at least when marathoning with few breaks over a week. At dozens of hours to complete the campaign–and often, two or so hours just to complete a single, large-scale job–the novelty wears off.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

The lengthy career mode is complemented by a handful of other modes. Free Play lets you replay old jobs with all of your unlocked equipment, and with up to six players instead of the 1-2 in career mode. Challenge Mode sets limits on elements like time or water, which just felt totally unappealing to my desire for chill vibes but might attract some kind of power-washing speedrunner community. The highlight of the alternative modes is the Special Jobs, which offer strange tasks like a miniature golf course, or the Mars rover. There are only four of these at launch, but they show off the novel flexibility of the idea. More than anything, this seems like the area most rife for updates and further exploration.

With the exception of Challenge Mode, all of the game can be played cooperatively. It’s easy to toggle on and promises to speed up progress if you find a willing partner to help see you through the entire campaign. And it offers cross-play, albeit with the use of a room code that makes the process slightly less elegant.

When PowerWash Simulator leans into its best qualities, as a soothing and low-impact way to pass some time, it shines like the chrome on a recently power-washed classic car. On the rare occasions when it breaks up its own flow with granular fussiness or interrupts your plans for the in-game economy, it detracts from the experience. At its best, PowerWash Simulator is a quiet, relaxing experience that’s best enjoyed in small doses. It’s time-consuming, yes, but once in a while, we all need something to consume our time.

Read More

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review – Masters of War

July 26, 2022   Addict Gamer   No comments

The premise of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a bit unusual, but it sets the stage for a 100-hour epic through a fascinating world with strong characters and rewarding combat. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 may stumble from time to time, particularly in its dialogue, but its ambitious premise pays off with a heartfelt conclusion. It takes place in the world of Aionios, where two warring nations–Keves and Agnus–are locked in an endless struggle for resources. These resources are quite literally a matter of life and death. When a soldier is killed on the battlefield, their life force powers the opposing faction’s Ferronis, a giant mech that doubles as a base of operations. The life force of fallen soldiers is imperative for one side to succeed over the other.

The population of Aionios is bred to fight, and that’s it. From an early age, they are subjected to rigorous combat training and expected to fight for a 10-year term. If they survive their life term, they are whisked away by the all-powerful queen in motes of light. However, most soldiers don’t last 10 years. This is where the protagonist, Noah, comes in. Noah is an Off-Seer, a flutist tasked with sending off fallen soldiers through music.

<div class="js-video-player-new av-video-player av-desktop-player av-video-on-demand is-vid-loading is-vid-noseek is-vid-show-controls " tabindex="0" data-id="1549438089" data-promo-id="0" data-video="{"adCall":{"host":"http:\/\/pubads.g.doubleclick.net\/gampad\/ads?","params":{"iu":"\/22309610186\/vaw-gamespot\/desktop\/gamespot.com","impl":"s","gdfp_req":1,"env":"vp","output":"xml_vmap1","unviewed_position_start":1,"url":"[referrer_url]","correlator":"[timestamp]","cmsid":2566084,"vid":6458940,"pp":"vpaid_js"},"custParams":{"ptype":"review","cid":"gs-1900-6417921","game":"xenoblade-chronicles-3","genre":"action,role-playing","con":"nintendo-switch","franchise":"xenoblade","publisher":"nintendo","embed":"autoplay","partner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","vid":6458940},"soundBasedSize":{"normal":"640×480","muted":"640×483","none":"640×480"},"daiSsbUrl":"https:\/\/dai.google.com\/ondemand\/hls\/content\/2572465\/vid\/6458940\/master.m3u8","daiMidRollHost":2500176},"adPartner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","ageGateCookieName":"videoAgeGateBirthday","autoplay":true,"cms":"pi","countdownTime":0,"cuePoints":null,"datePublished":1658840400,"desktopAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","device":"other","guid":"gs-2300-6458940","id":6458940,"isDevice":false,"isLiveStream":false,"lengthSeconds":902,"mapp":"gamespot","mobileAdPartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","partner":"gamespot","postPlayMax":100,"premium":false,"screenMediumThumb":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/a\/uploads\/screen_medium\/1574\/15746725\/4007615-xenobladereview_thumbnail_site.jpg","seekablePlaybacks":["html5","uvpjs"],"share":{"linkUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/xenoblade-chronicles-3-video-review\/2300-6458940\/","embedUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/embed\/6458940\/","embedHtml":{"640":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n","480":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"}},"siteType":"responsive web","startMuted":false,"startTime":0,"title":"Xenoblade%20Chronicles%203%20Video%20Review","tracking":[{"name":"SiteCatalyst","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"charSet","value":"UTF-8"},{"name":"currencyCode","value":"USD"},{"name":"siteType","value":"responsive web"},{"name":"trackingServer","value":"saa.gamespot.com"},{"name":"visitorNamespace","value":"cbsinteractive"},{"name":"heartbeatTrackingServer","value":"newimagitasinc.hb.omtrdc.net"},{"name":"heartbeatVisitorMarketingCloudOrgId","value":"3C66570E5FE1A4AB0A495FFC@AdobeOrg"},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"siteCode","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"brand","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"account","value":"cbsigamespotsite"},{"name":"edition","value":"us"}]},{"name":"ComScore_ss","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"c2","value":"31824268"},{"name":"publishersSecret","value":"2cb08ca4d095dd734a374dff8422c2e5"},{"name":"c3","value":""},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"c4","value":"gamespot"}]},{"name":"NielsenTracking","category":"tracking","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"host","value":"https:\/\/secure-us.imrworldwide.com\/cgi-bin\/m?"},{"name":"scCI","value":"us-200330"},{"name":"scC6","value":"vc,c01"}]},{"name":"MuxQOSPluginJS","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"propertyKey","value":"b7d6e48b7461a61cb6e863a62"}]}],"trackingAccount":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingPrimaryId":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingSiteCode":"gs","userId":0,"uvpHi5Ima":"https:\/\/s0.2mdn.net\/instream\/html5\/ima3.js","uvpc":"","uvpjsHostname":"\/\/www.gamespot.com","videoAdMobilePartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","videoAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","videoAssetSource":"GameSpot","videoStreams":{"adaptive_stream":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8","adaptive_dash":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.mpd","adaptive_hd":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_high":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_low":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_restricted":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/20\/a860a267-4fff-4633-89b4-fb205e16e144\/Review_XenobladeChonicles3_20220720_v3_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8"},"videoType":"video-on-demand","watchedCookieDays":1,"watchedCookieName":"watchedVideoIds"}” data-non-iframe-embed=”1″ readability=”7.8506963788301″>

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Click To Unmute

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.

This video has an invalid file format.

Sorry, but you can’t access this content!

Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Video Review

The world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 doesn’t follow the same rules as the previous entries in the series, and it’s better for it. The unusual setting gives players a fresh perspective to explore familiar themes. A major one of these is sacrifice, and how it can radically affect the trajectory of someone else’s life. While Xenoblade doesn’t always tackle these deeper themes with finesse, it’s hard not to get swept up in the drama of it all once the story gets rolling.

Despite the interesting premise and initial setup, Xenoblade’s biggest roadblock is how it onboards players. Developer Monolith Soft really throws you into the deep end, and the lack of a proper codex gives the game a real sink-or-swim feel at the outset. The early hours are bogged down by JRPG jargon like Flame Clocks, Off-Seers, Ferronises, Interlinks, Orobouros, life terms, Levnises, and so on. The game makes a noble attempt to lay down the foundation of the world with a poetic opening cutscene, but that only scratches the surface. You can rewatch important cutscenes from the main menu, but those only account for a fraction of the story. A lot of detail ends up in text-based dialogue you can’t rewind, a quality-of-life feature that I’ve come to expect from a JRPG of this size and scope.

The story really doesn’t come into its own until about halfway through the first chapter, when you’ve been introduced to all six party members. The characters are really what hold Xenoblade’s narrative together. Some of them don’t make the best first impression, but by the end, I cared about each and every one of them. Since their entire lives are built around fighting, there’s a genuine sense of curiosity that informs the party when they break away from that cycle of killing and explore the world with their newfound perspective. This gives way to emotional reveals, lighthearted banter, and some compelling backstory.A highlight is Eunie, the hot-headed and foul-mouthed party healer. She isn’t given much screen time early on, but as the story unfolds, she takes on a much more active role. She isn’t afraid to call out injustices, and she regularly teases Lanz, the light-hearted, sword-wielding brute, for his shoot-first mentality. It’s a fun dynamic, but what makes Eunie truly memorable is how she pieces together the unknown parts of her backstory along with the player, and how it informs her character as the story progresses. There’s a particularly heartfelt optional scene near the end of the game that really shows how far she’s come over the course of the journey.

Many of the game’s themes are embodied by these characters as well. Lanz struggles with sacrifice and the ripple effect that it can have on people. Mio, the cat ear-adorned Off-Seer, reckons with time and whether a person who only has 10 years can truly make a difference. These themes are generally interesting, especially when you factor in the unique state of the world. Occasionally, however, the writing undercuts some of these themes by over-explaining or revisiting them a few too many times. It doesn’t ruin the story, but it does cheapen the message from time to time.

Of course, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has its fair share of plot twists as well. I won’t spoil them here, but some are fantastic and recontextualize the entire series, while others are painfully predictable. The predictable twists aren’t necessarily bad, but the party’s reactions to these moments are frustrating because they’ll spend minutes belaboring something obvious that you saw coming a mile away.

What really elevates the story is how it weaves together loose ends from Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. New players can still enjoy the story, but long-term fans of the series will really appreciate the direction the plot takes. According to series director Tetsuya Takahashi, the idea for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has been in the works for nearly a decade, and it shows.

As much as I enjoyed the story, Xenoblade’s moment-to-moment dialogue can be pretty rough. It’s hard to say whether the localization or the writing itself is at fault, but it’s difficult to overlook. Characters frequently state the obvious, the Nopons’ speech pattern is still grating, and some lines are so weighed down by the in-game terminology that they lose their meaning entirely. Even as someone who plays JRPGs regularly, I found the dialogue overwritten at best and cringeworthy at worst.

At the very least, the English voice acting is a bit stronger this time around, especially for the main party members. This makes some of the worst lines of dialogue a bit easier to stomach. There are still some weak performances, but those are usually relegated to side characters who don’t have much screen time.

The combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the sharpest in the series. Like previous games, Xenoblade adopts the combat style of an MMO, but adds the flair you might expect from a single-player RPG. Each class has a standard auto-attack and five unique Arts tied to cooldown meters. As you progress, you will unlock more classes, more Arts, and more equipment slots to fine-tune your party composition.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 may stumble from time to time, particularly in its dialogue, but its ambitious premise pays off with a heartfelt conclusion

In total, there are 23 classes, each with their own playstyle that can be mixed and matched across your entire party. For example, Eunie may start as a healer, but you may find she’s more effective as a one of the five different defender classes. As you level up classes with specific characters, they unlock Master Arts, which the character can use regardless of their class. There are some restrictions, but this allows characters to dabble in tactics that may not be intended for their chosen class. I am well over 120 hours in now and I am still unlocking new Master Arts, leveling up different classes, and uncovering powerful new tactics.

It’s a lot to manage, especially if this is your first Xenoblade, but once it clicks, it’s hard to stop thinking about. At face value, you can boil down the combat to meter management, but that wouldn’t do it justice. There’s a tactile rhythm to it that builds with every attack and expands with every combo. Eventually it crescendos into an incredibly powerful Chain Attack that halts the battle entirely before giving way to an explosive ending. These moments don’t happen by chance, though. Positioning is key, timing needs to be impeccable, and forethought is a must. If a party member is knocked unconscious and there isn’t someone to pick them back up, the Chain Attack will fall flat and you’ll have to start the entire process over again.

Thankfully, if there’s a mechanic you don’t understand, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a deep and ever-expanding “Tips” menu. Every time a new mechanic is introduced, whether it be in or out of combat, that tutorial pop-up is filed away in the menu. I wish this menu had better sorting features, but it’s a welcome addition, considering that once you closed a tutorial pop-up in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it was gone forever.

While the combat itself is fantastic, the real satisfaction comes from experimenting with different party compositions and streamlining various loadouts. My favorite moments in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 are when I’d get swept by a boss, adjust my party composition, and rain hell on that same opponent in a second attempt. It’s a brilliant loop that really hammers home the depth, strategy, and malleability of the combat. If you notice that your tanks are having trouble pulling aggro, you can tweak their loadout, or you can create an entirely new tank build with a different subclass. It’s an empowering system that can be endlessly modified.

The menus themselves are also a huge improvement over Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Flipping between different characters, changing classes, and swapping Arts is a frictionless experience. And if you’re the type that wants to spend as little time in menus as possible, there is an “auto-load” feature that automatically kits out a party member. While this is a welcome alternative for those who may not want to manually equip every character, it didn’t always yield the best results. When I did auto-load a character, I typically had to go in and make some adjustments based on the class I chose. But at the very least, this feature gave me a baseline I could work with.

Exploration also feeds into progression. Resources scattered throughout Aionios can be used to craft stat-boosting gems, cook meals, and complete side quests. While side quests offer material rewards such as money and accessories, they also improve the party’s standing with various colonies, which is tracked in the Affinity Chart. As you explore more of the world, you will come across more colonies. The more colonies you assist, the more passive buffs Noah and his party will unlock. These buffs range from faster run speeds to increasing the duration of meal effects.

What makes Xenoblade’s exploration so satisfying is how often it connects to everything else, both in terms of narrative and gameplay. You might be collecting resources to craft a specific gem, but you notice that some of the resources you’ve collected could also be used to complete a side quest. Completing that side quest could improve Noah’s relationship with a specific colony, which could unlock a new buff that makes getting around Aionios even easier. If you can get around the world more efficiently, then, in theory, you can scavenge quicker, allowing you to complete more quests and craft better gems.

Additionally, some of Xenoblade’s best moments can be missed entirely if you don’t take the time to soak in your surroundings. Hero Quests, activities marked with yellow exclamation points in the menu, are fully voiced quests that introduce a new class and party member. Some heroes are introduced during the main quest, but a majority of them start as inconspicuous side quests. Monolith Soft’s character design really shines in these Hero Quests. Not all of the hero characters are as cool as Gray–the mysterious gun-toting bandit–but they are all given backstory and offer new classes, some of which can dramatically shake up your playstyle.

As well-thought-out as these systems are, though, the setting itself is what really steals the show. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 pushes Monolith Soft’s open-world design even further than past games. The areas you explore are massive, colorful regions teeming with life both big and small. Monolith Soft’s mastery of scale is on full display here once again. Awe-inspiring landmarks like the Great Sword can be seen from around the world, formidable beasts that tower over your party roam the plains, and vibrant ecosystems stretch into the horizon. The world of Aionios is a sight to behold and a testament to the environment artists at Monolith Soft.

This is all accompanied by another beautiful score from Yasunori Mitsuda and Manami Kiyota. The music confidently swings from haunting lullabies to sweeping orchestrations that flawlessly match the mood of a scene or the tone of a region. The flutes are also more pronounced this time around, giving the music a more intimate feel when the scene calls for it.

Despite Xenoblade’s apparent beauty, it’s hard not to feel as though the Nintendo Switch’s hardware is holding it back. Watching grass fill in just meters in front of you is hard to ignore; beautiful vistas are soured by poor draw distances, and some rough textures make bland side characters even blander. These issues are present whether you play docked or handheld.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

More noticeable are the lengthy loading times and unstable frame rates. While both of these issues don’t persist throughout the entire game, there were a few isolated incidents that are worth noting. During one fairly standard side quest, I was hit with one to two-minute-long load times between each conversation. Additionally, much later in the game, I was hit with a few load times that were so long I almost restarted the game because I thought it had crashed. Typically, the load times are pretty snappy, so these moments really stood out. There’s also a specific area much later in the game where the frame rate takes some noticeable dips. As it’s optional, there’s a good chance you may not even find this area, but the 30 or so minutes I spent there were rough. I don’t think any of these issues should turn you off from Xenoblade Chronicles 3 entirely, however.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels like the game Monolith Soft has been trying to craft for years. While its dialogue could have used an extra pass, it more than makes up for it with its wonderful story and superb combat. It’s rare for a JRPG to hold my attention for a 100-hour runtime, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 did it with confidence.

Read More

Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels Review – Paradise City

July 25, 2022   Addict Gamer   No comments

The Forza Horizon series has already crossed over with numerous franchises, from the building blocks of Lego to the family in Fast and The Furious, but it’s the one with Hot Wheels and Forza Horizon 3 that sticks out the most when looking back. The combination of Horizon’s blisteringly fast cars and the creativity of Hot Wheels twisty tracks was an unsurprising hit, making its return in Forza Horizon 5 an anticipated one. It’s an expansion that manages to deliver the same thrill as before, with new track types and a much larger map, but also a structure to progression hampers the pacing.

The orange highways of this new expansion are strewn across the sky over Mexico, creating a racing paradise nestled in the clouds just waiting to be torn through. The map is larger than the one previously offered in Forza Horizon 3, featuring three biomes that introduce different weather conditions depending on where you are. They’re also a big reason why this new playground is immediately engrossing–the introduction into the map has you speeding through each part of it while taking in its best sights, from dropping down almost vertically into an active volcano inside a snowy mountain, to sliding down water-laden chutes in a thick jungle. The recognizable Hot Wheels track pieces that let you navigate these areas are beautifully contrasted against the natural beauty around them, making the entire space feel like a daydream come to life.

The plastic pieces of the raceway are also more varied this time around, which does accentuate the playful nature of the entire expansion. Magnetic strips suck you down onto the track, letting you complete parts of a race upside-down or creating intricate loops where maintaining speed is paramount. Others are laden with thick layers of ice, making navigating even some of the widest corners a satisfying challenge as you struggle to maintain grip. The most exhilarating are stretches of road with giant overhead fans, each of which boost your speed to new heights not possible to reach in the main portion of Forza Horizon 5. It’s a thrill to be flung around corners at these ridiculous speeds, feeling like you’re barely hanging on when braving them with some of the fastest cars in the game.

Your progression through this new map is dictated by a stricter format than you might expect from the Horizon series, which usually lets you achieve anything you want in any direction. You increase your rank by collecting medals, which are awarded for participating in races, sprints, and smaller contextual events such as speed traps, drift zones, and popping floating balloons around the map. Several missions also lump many of these activities together, rewarding you with more medals for completing a collection of races or completing small challenges around the map with your current class of cars.

The structure makes sense in the context of slowly introducing you to faster and faster cars as you come to grips with the new challenges that this expansion offers, but it does alter the pace to one that feels more like you’re checking things off a list rather than progressing through doing the types of activities you enjoy. This is especially true when considering how few events there are at each new driving rank that you unlock, with you needing to do almost everything in order to progress and unlock new events. I loved doing races and cinematic showcase events, but I wasn’t as thrilled with the downtime I was forced to take while hunting down speed traps in order to unlock more of what I wanted.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

Tossed in with the standard racing events is a new five-part story-driven series that acts as a deep dive into the Hot Wheels franchise while taking some of its most iconic vehicles (10 of which are included in the expansion) out for a spin. This series mimics the structure of the one centered around the Volkswagen Beetle in the main campaign of Forza Horizon 5, starting at the origin of Hot Wheels and charting its meteoric rise over the years as the series went from a simple children’s toy to prized collectible car series. While the information is certainly interesting if you’re unfamiliar with it, the delivery comes off as less sincere and more advertorial in quite a few spots. It was easier to view the VW Beetle through the lens of its history in Mexican car culture than it is to listen to a ramble of factoids delivered by a character who proudly exclaims to have memorized it all by the age of six, which makes the entire series quite uneven.

Thankfully, most of the joy you’re likely to squeeze out of this return to Hot Wheels is in the high-octane racing taking place in the skies, and it’s during these moments where it’s a bit easier to forget about its unfortunate shortcomings. The expanded map and diverse geographic makeup is a joy to explore, as is coming to grips with all the new pieces of plastic track surfaces that keep otherwise routine races from turning stale. It’s disappointing that this energy couldn’t be entirely converted over to the expansion’s love letter to the Hot Wheels franchise, and it’s annoying to be routinely reminded of all the other types of events you need to complete in order to unlock some of the best new vehicles, but it’s still a detour worth taking if you’ve been itching for another fix of Forza Horizon fun.

Read More

Live A Live Review – Live, Laugh, Love Live A Live

July 21, 2022   Addict Gamer   No comments

One of the most recognizable characteristics of a JRPG is the party: a ragtag group of adventurers from different walks of life who unite their strengths for a common cause, almost always under the leadership of a designated main character. While the rest of the cast may wind up getting sidequests and story arcs, the majority of the game revolves around a specific character. It’s a trope that’s as common as they come. But all the way back in 1994, Square (now Square-Enix) released Live A Live in Japan, turning the genre on its head by asking “What if a JRPG had several main characters? And they all had a fully realized plotline, different worlds, and distinct gameplay gimmicks?”

Live A Live was a unique game, well ahead of its time, but sadly one confined to Japan for decades, with no official English release. That changes with this modern remake and, amazingly, Live A Live not only holds up well, but manages to feel unique, compelling, and excitingly original even when compared to its modern contemporaries.

<div class="js-video-player-new av-video-player av-desktop-player av-video-on-demand is-vid-loading is-vid-noseek is-vid-show-controls " tabindex="0" data-id="437335813" data-promo-id="0" data-video="{"adCall":{"host":"http:\/\/pubads.g.doubleclick.net\/gampad\/ads?","params":{"iu":"\/22309610186\/vaw-gamespot\/desktop\/gamespot.com","impl":"s","gdfp_req":1,"env":"vp","output":"xml_vmap1","unviewed_position_start":1,"url":"[referrer_url]","correlator":"[timestamp]","cmsid":2566084,"vid":6458939,"pp":"vpaid_js"},"custParams":{"ptype":"review","cid":"gs-1900-6417919","game":"live-a-live","genre":"strategy,turn-based","con":"super-nintendo,nintendo-switch","publisher":"squaresoft,square-enix","embed":"autoplay","partner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","vid":6458939},"soundBasedSize":{"normal":"640×480","muted":"640×483","none":"640×480"},"daiSsbUrl":"https:\/\/dai.google.com\/ondemand\/hls\/content\/2572465\/vid\/6458939\/master.m3u8","daiMidRollHost":2500176},"adPartner":"desktop\/gamespot.com","ageGateCookieName":"videoAgeGateBirthday","autoplay":true,"cms":"pi","countdownTime":0,"cuePoints":null,"datePublished":1658412000,"desktopAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","device":"other","guid":"gs-2300-6458939","id":6458939,"isDevice":false,"isLiveStream":false,"lengthSeconds":481,"mapp":"gamespot","mobileAdPartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","partner":"gamespot","postPlayMax":100,"premium":false,"screenMediumThumb":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/a\/uploads\/screen_medium\/1574\/15746725\/4007589-lalreview_thumb4.jpg","seekablePlaybacks":["html5","uvpjs"],"share":{"linkUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/live-a-live-video-review\/2300-6458939\/","embedUrl":"https:\/\/www.gamespot.com\/videos\/embed\/6458939\/","embedHtml":{"640":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n","480":"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"}},"siteType":"responsive web","startMuted":false,"startTime":0,"title":"Live%20A%20Live%20Video%20Review","tracking":[{"name":"SiteCatalyst","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"charSet","value":"UTF-8"},{"name":"currencyCode","value":"USD"},{"name":"siteType","value":"responsive web"},{"name":"trackingServer","value":"saa.gamespot.com"},{"name":"visitorNamespace","value":"cbsinteractive"},{"name":"heartbeatTrackingServer","value":"newimagitasinc.hb.omtrdc.net"},{"name":"heartbeatVisitorMarketingCloudOrgId","value":"3C66570E5FE1A4AB0A495FFC@AdobeOrg"},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"siteCode","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"brand","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"account","value":"cbsigamespotsite"},{"name":"edition","value":"us"}]},{"name":"ComScore_ss","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"c2","value":"31824268"},{"name":"publishersSecret","value":"2cb08ca4d095dd734a374dff8422c2e5"},{"name":"c3","value":""},{"name":"partnerID","value":"gamespot"},{"name":"c4","value":"gamespot"}]},{"name":"NielsenTracking","category":"tracking","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"host","value":"https:\/\/secure-us.imrworldwide.com\/cgi-bin\/m?"},{"name":"scCI","value":"us-200330"},{"name":"scC6","value":"vc,c01"}]},{"name":"MuxQOSPluginJS","category":"qos","enabled":true,"params":[{"name":"propertyKey","value":"b7d6e48b7461a61cb6e863a62"}]}],"trackingAccount":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingPrimaryId":"cbsigamespotsite","trackingSiteCode":"gs","userId":0,"uvpHi5Ima":"https:\/\/s0.2mdn.net\/instream\/html5\/ima3.js","uvpc":"","uvpjsHostname":"\/\/www.gamespot.com","videoAdMobilePartner":"mobile_web%2Fgamespot.com_mobile","videoAdPartner":"desktop%2Fgamespot.com","videoAssetSource":"GameSpot","videoStreams":{"adaptive_stream":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8","adaptive_dash":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.mpd","adaptive_hd":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_high":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_low":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_720h3200k,master.m3u8","adaptive_restricted":"https:\/\/gamespot.redvideo.io\/2022\/07\/21\/d2fdb4e5-5742-4279-bd84-a53d3adb7174\/Review_LALReviewFIX_20220721_360h700k,360h1000k,540h1800k,720h2500k,720h3200k,1080h5000k,1080h8000k,master.m3u8"},"videoType":"video-on-demand","watchedCookieDays":1,"watchedCookieName":"watchedVideoIds"}” data-non-iframe-embed=”1″ readability=”7.9841359773371″>

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Click To Unmute

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.

This video has an invalid file format.

Sorry, but you can’t access this content!

Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Live A Live Video Review

Live A Live’s protagonists come from many different places across space and time, ranging from the cartoony prehistoric world of caveman Pogo, to the modern-day championship struggles of mixed martial arts fighter Masaru, all the way to a far-flung future where tiny robot Cube awakens on a mysterious cargo transport ship. These seven divergent chapters can be completed in any order, and you can stop one chapter to pick up another as you please. Finishing these chapters unlocks an eighth story, which leads into a final chapter where all the paths converge into one last epic struggle.

What makes Live A Live unique beyond its multiple protagonists is how dramatically gameplay elements change from chapter to chapter. The martial arts master Earthen Heart Shifu doesn’t gain levels himself, but instead focuses on strengthening his disciples by fighting with and alongside them. The wild west outlaw Sundown Kid can make things significantly easier or much harder for himself by helping a village prepare to battle a savage gang of invading bandits. Cube’s interstellar horror story has almost no required fighting at all, while Masaru’s championship road is nothing but a string of rapid-fire battles. Even the chapters with more typical RPG progression offer unique twists: the near-total lack of text in Pogo’s world, the huge maze dungeon ninja Oboromaru must stealthily navigate, and psychic youth Akira’s mind-reading ability give their respective stories distinct, delightful quirks. All of them have one thing in common, however: the existence of a similarly-named malevolent force. Each main chapter lasts between one to five hours, making sure no mini-adventure overstays its welcome.

And every outing looks and sounds great, too. It can’t be understated just how good Live A Live’s presentation is. Square-Enix put a lot of care and love into remaking this game, and it shows. The graphics use the company’s fan-favorite HD-2D engine, which has seen in games like Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy, and creates gorgeous, vibrant environments that retain a retro-RPG feel. The character sprites themselves are beautifully detailed and brimming with personality–perhaps best exemplified in the prehistory chapter, where a lack of dialogue makes their expressiveness all the more vital to the storytelling.

Accompanying the visuals is a fantastic soundtrack. Live A Live is one of famed composer Yoko Shimomura’s earliest contributions to Square-Enix, and her talent is on full display here, delivering a variety of musical styles to accompany the many different adventures. The original 16-bit songs have been fully re-recorded with high-quality instruments (and sometimes even song lyrics), making them sound even more bombastic. Additionally, all of the game’s key story dialogue is voice-acted, helping bring the main characters to life–and adding extra flair to some of the strange and shocking twists the narrative can take.

One of the key commonalities across all Live A Live’s chapters is its turn-based combat system, which features ideas just as unique as the other parts of the game. Fights happen on a grid of 7×7 squares, which characters can move upon freely when it’s their turn to act. There’s no AP/MP system restricting skill usage–instead, both player and enemy attacks have specified ranges and charge times before they activate. This adds a new layer of strategy to battles, making positioning and observing enemy and player action time crucial to success while offering a refreshing degree of freedom. Elements like skills that create damage tiles, leader enemies that end the battle when defeated, and accessory gear that can be used as supporting items in battle provide even more options and variety to the clever player.

Combat does have its issues, however. There’s no way to skip or speed up the sometimes lengthy attack animations, and it can be difficult at times to determine your charge/attack time relative to that of the enemy, leading to frustrating interrupted attacks. In my time playing, I must have suffered six or seven enemy interruptions for every one time I was able to stop theirs. Sudden difficulty spikes are also common, though usually grinding up a level or two (which doesn’t take too long) will help you power through tough barriers. Still, it would have been nice if there were combat tweaks to keep battles from dragging.

While Live A Live has done a spectacular job in updating its presentation and adding numerous small QOL upgrades over the SNES original, there are a handful of frustrating old-fashioned gameplay ideas that would likely get vetoed if developers tried to include them in a modern game. Things like having to farm a random enemy encounter to get keys needed to progress in a dungeon, yes-or-no dialogue choices that can lead to an instant game over if you choose incorrectly, a mad scientist who can sometimes upgrade any item you give him, but only occasionally, and only after skipping through a bunch of repetitive dialogue you’ll see over and over until he succeeds, among others.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

The lack of a proper detailed mini-map, while understandable in some chapters, proves frustrating in others. Even the steps necessary in the final chapter to get to the true last boss and ending are rather ambiguous, leaving you with an unsatisfying conclusion unless you either look up a FAQ or somehow manage to find all the factors you need on your own. These issues don’t ruin the experience of Live A Live by any means, but they can feel a bit blindsiding to those used to more modern JRPG features that aid a player’s understanding when it comes to progression and makes the experience more approachable.

I truly loved my experience playing Live A Live. The gameplay and narrative variety, incredible visuals, and superb soundtrack kept me enthralled throughout my 30-hour journey. I still feel like the game has a few secrets and little story bits I may have overlooked. It’s quite the accomplishment that, almost 30 years later, Live A Live still manages to surprise, subvert, and enthrall. Those timeless qualities make it well worth your attention, now and likely for years to come.

Read More
YouTube
YouTube
Instagram