God of War: The Throwing Axe Simulator

[This review contains spoilers]

When I first started the game, I thought it was perfect. That feeling carried for the first 5 or so hours before cracks started to show. Enemies soon lost their initial feeling of variety, the word opens up, which can break the pacing of the game and the over the shoulder camera can get in the way, making you unable to readily see where attacks are coming from.

Yet that same camera provided the game with such a feeling of immersion, in someways it was worth the issues of combat, for just the feeling of intimacy that it provided to the game.

I really enjoyed the story, a man trying to atone and escape his sins. Trying to raise a son, and causing his illness, by denying the truth to him. I thought for the most part, it was very well done. Except for when ‘Boy’, also known as Atreus, starts to think he’s better than everyone else because he’s a God. I found it to be a moment of tonal whiplash that came out of nowhere, though its resolution was satisfactory. Why did he begin acting like that to begin with? It was rather out of personality.

The mythology of the world truly is what pulls you in, with Kratos interacting with these foreign Gods with a certain disdain. Mirir is truly a highlight, explaining the world around you in a truly organic way.

Kratos’ relationship with his son is also a strong aspect, he obviously loves his son, but doesn’t know how to express it. It’s touching watching him learn how to truly be a father. Also, with his wife’s death hanging over both their heads, it’s touching watching them both mourn her.

The gameplay is also fun. To me this game has good combat, but it can be repetitive. Despite that, it’s satisfying upgrading your character and son. Becoming stronger is noticeable and a welcome aspect to the game.

An easy criticism would be to say God of War is a ‘throwing axe simulator, also known as the land of invisible walls’. Yet that’s be simplifying it. Yes, a lot of the combat can just be throwing the axe, yes, the invisible walls can be immersion breaking, but these are small complaints.

The set-pieces in this game truly are breathtaking, the art direction creates a beautiful and fully realised world. I recommend this game to anyone.

Persona 5 Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the first Persona game I’ve played and I enjoyed it. I think that this is a good game that could’ve been great. It has some honest strong points, with great characters, a wonderful art style and fun turn-based combat.

Yet the main plot held it back for me. The god bullet was the largest deus ex machina. The plot twist was just strange, Igor (or his imposter) was a giant grail that was filled with people’s life source? Defeating a god was fun and dramatic, but the plot getting there toward the end was nonsensical.

The game basically ended twice. Both of them filled with too much exposition. There was also too much information that was repeated throughout the game. Maybe that’s fine if you play it over a couple of months, but marathoning the game just emphasises these faults. I don’t need hear the same information over and over again.

Also I felt the pacing was off, one second I’m in the largest dungeon ever, trying to bring truth to light of someone’s crimes; the next, I’m being a high schooler. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. On one hand that’s great, it leave me wanting more; however I wasn’t prepared for the game to take away months from me toward the end.

So I never got to complete my romance, or fulfil all my confidant rankings. That was annoying and unfortunate.

Especially when I felt like that last twenty hours of the game just dragged for me.

Regardless, this is an over a hundred hour game, and I liked most of it.

I liked chilling with Ryuji, he’s brash but loveable. Yusuke is a stereotypical artist. Futaba is an adorable geek. All these characters are just wonderful. I loved getting to know them, and being their friend. I adored the message in this game about overcoming your hesitations and others expectations. How you are literally embodying the spirit of rebellion.

That’s a powerful message.

I also think it’s great that each major dungeon, or palace, is significant to the narrative. They acted as a stage for the characters to free themselves of doubt and fear. To be true to yourself and having the bravery to do that.

To reform society.

That’s another message I love about this game. That things can only be horrible if that’s all we expect them to be. That sometimes adults and authority have it wrong. That they can be dirty and corrupt. That we can as a society recover from that, by exposing the rot to the light.

That anywhere you go, there will be shitty people, but that doesn’t define us. Being complacent and letting it persist, that’s the true failure.

This game has a lot to love, with great dialogue options and good voice acting. An engaging plot, for the most part. It’s just a shame it’s not always consistent on the narrative front. Because I really did enjoy it.

I thought the dungeons were well designed. I like how gaining more confidant ranks impacted combat. I thought the art was just dripping with style throughout the whole game. I enjoyed the gameplay, it was strangely nostalgic whilst also mixing up the formula.

Is this a game for everyone? No, it’s too long to be for everyone, but it is a good game. An easy recommendation for JRPG fans, and something I think most gamers should at least consider.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This game is beautiful. I feel the need to emphasise that after the old console vs. pc war rages on. It’s an exclusive for the PS4, and that makes it an easy suggestion for any owner of that console. It’s a good game.

However I, in some ways, felt disappointed by it. Not because it isn’t great, but because I was expecting a fantasy, or fantasy-like game, to be more specific. When this game came out, many outlets sang it’s praises. It was compared very favourably to Witcher 3. To me, that’s misleading. It’s a Sci-Fi game, and a great one at that. The story has twists and turns. It has some sequel bait, which is fine by me, I’d like to play one.

The villain feels generic, taking a sort-of ‘skynet’ approach. However the main character, Aloy, despite a funny name, is a great character. It’s refreshing to me to have a great female character in a leading role in a AAA game.

I’m not sure if that’s controversial or not to say. But after playing The Last of Us and Witcher 3; both games where a playable female character get only a brief appearance, it’s nice to have it consistent throughout a game. A game that doesn’t have a ‘pick your adventure’ vibe like Mass Effect or Skyrim.

I should make it clear that I am aware of Tomb Raider, I’ve yet to play it, but that is another good example of a female-lead franchise.

I liked the overall story. I like the mystery that surrounded everything, it drew you in. I even found myself reading notes left behind by the dead civilisation, listening to audio logs. I was also surprised by the inclusion of a lesbian couple earlier in the game; when listening to the last words of a dead woman. It was sad, and poignant. I felt for that couple, just based on one audio log. That’s difficult to do, but I found the inclusions of that, by interacting with the world and coming with your own conclusions, to be one of the strongest aspects of this games storytelling.

I also find it interesting that Aloy had no interest in romance, something that’s normally a staple of games like this. When you can make choices in a game, normally it also leads to ‘love’.

The choices that are in this game are limited, but when they’re there, they feel important. It should also be noted that all your actions, for the most part, feel significant. Especially for the main plot. I felt like I was making a difference, that I was saving the world as we knew it. That I had something to prove and everything to lose.

The story does however have some faults, some key characters introduced at the beginning were wasted potential, they died too early. They could’ve made a larger impact later on, like Rost for example.

I also found the side missions to have a repetitive structure ‘track something down, kill a robot dinosaur, return thing back to person’. This felt weaker overall and like ‘busy work’. However the main plot lines, as stated before, are strong and avoided these issues.

Another problem I had, was that there were impressive cities, yet unlike games like Skyrim, I couldn’t just randomly walk into people’s houses. That felt immersion breaking to me.

The game play is fun, but I found the ‘stealth’ parts to be the weakest part. Especially with the over emphasis on the red bushes, this is something Shadow of Mordor did far better. The attacks via bow and arrow are, however, fun and satisfying. The spear feels closer to a last ditch effort weapon, but is competent enough to be a main weapon for those that prefer it.

The health system, I thought, was unique and easy to use, far better than Shadow of Mordor in that regard. It actually allows you to keep your herbs on hand.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a fine game, that I think, is mainstream enough for mass appeal. It’s good, with a strong story, I’d recommend it to almost anyone.