Review: Prey – In Space, No One Hears You Scream

Pros:
+An incredibly well written story that will drive you through 40+ hours of gameplay
+Easily stands beside games such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and System Shock
+Insanely large amounts of freedom to explore
+Typhon enemies are unique in design as well as their originality
+Zero G sequences are a fresh breath of air in the first person genre
+Strong FPS mechanics that serve well in the horror-survival elements the game offers
+Headphones are absolutely a must to enjoy the amazing depth of sound quality and music

Cons:
-Not beginner friendly at all
-Fabricator is overly relied upon
-Inventory fills up entirely too fast due to materials
-Resource management is painful to deal with and rather tedious


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When first looking at the title Prey, many may relate it to the 3D Realms published game of the same title. It was a game that took us on an adventure through space as protagonist Domasi Tawodi (Tommy for short) who lived on a Cheeroke Reservation in Oklahoma. His job was simple in the original, he was a mechanic who just happened to end up on the wrong side of a bad bargain.

After the game was rallied to obtain a sequel through Bethesda Zenimax, the title seemingly fell into obscurity since it was rarely spoken of, but when it was there was always trouble behind the door. It wasn’t until last year that publisher Bethesda Softworks came out at QuakeCon 2016 with an ambitious idea: A reboot. With their announcement, fans sat bewildered by the inconceivable thought, which left fans curious to what was going on.

Within the past few weeks, we’ve been able to sit with a copy of Prey on a PlayStation 4 and a PlayStation 4 Pro in order to see the differences in performance, but that’s not where we will begin. Prey by far is one of the most ambitious titles to come out of Arkane Studios (DishonoredDishonored 2) and it even sought out to distance itself from those two titles with quite a bit of easy. While reviewing, you must keep in mind that games are usually pushed out quick for their reviews. Some getting only a few days gameplay time, while others merely a few hours. Luckily for us, Bethesda is a company that is patient, and prefers reviews to take time before being published, which fortunately for us, is the same case we have here with the game Prey.

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Review: Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns – Where You Learn Why Friends Matter

Pros:
-Characters are uniquely developed during the games story
-Farm upgrades feel like they take a bit, which adds prolonged playability
-Plenty of side adventures to complete such as friendships, relationships, fishing, etc.

Cons:
– The game is very slow starting out
-Tends to take control from the player during tutorials
-Tutorials lasted roughly 20 hours, which is a bit much
-Story progress is slow to start, sitting between 5 to 10 hours before unlocking other chapters.


STORY OF SEASONS_ Trio of Towns - Lulukoko - Edited

Ever wondered what a game would be like where repetition, time management, and a lot of tutorials would be like over the span of between 15-20 hours? This is the welcoming players are in for with this Harvest Moon spiritual successor. If it hadn’t been for my curiosity, it’d been easier said than done to shut down my Nintendo 3DS, and simply walked away for any other title of the genre.

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is a coming of age progression title. One that offers multiple options for you to explore as you play. In the game, you start out at odds with your characters father. In effort to prove him wrong, you step out into the world in order to become a great father, and set the record straight in this dispute.

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Review: Bulletstorm – Hail to the Bullets Baby

Pros:
+
Heavily upgraded graphics and performance
+Online multiplayer offers insanely fun arcade style cooperative play
+Duke Nukem DLC.. That is all.

Cons:
-Multiplayer can lag a bit.
-Lack of communication in the game takes away when not grouped with other players


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When we saw a trend of remakes getting done, it was clear that there were many games fans would want, and many of those games would no doubt see the light of day. From Resident Evil to Darksiders to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered helped bring forth the idea of what game remastering can be like. It brought forth a valid question of whether or not games could be lost to time. With smash-hit sales in the years before as well as a rather ubiquitous sales as well as cultural marks.

Bulletstorm is one of those games that just managed to fascinate its fans with its ability to lure in rewards for styles of killing enemies, working with their friends, and even pushing them through the games campaign. However, the question remains: Do games deserve a second chance like this? That’s the biggest question of them all. With new state-of-the-art hardware. Do these games deserve a second chance even if they possibly failed to succeed the first time around?

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Review: Persona 5 – Stealing Our Heart Away

Pros:
+One of the most artistically stylish games for PlayStation 4 to Date
+Offers a quick push into the action compared to previous titles
+Character development is on key for the Persona franchise
+The Anime cut-scenes are a huge change and add a much needed change

Cons:
-Screenshots and footage capture is restricted
-Micro-managing at times can be overwhelming


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In a generation of games where traditional JRPG’s remain rare, ATLUS has decided to once more change the status quo, and offer up an adventure unlike any other. In their latest story life isn’t at all what it seems for these Japanese high school students Ryouji, Anne, and the protagonist Akira (if you go by the manga). The tale for these specific students is one about adventure, about righting wrongs, and most-of-all, changing hearts.

Much like any past Persona game, Persona 5 carries the weight of a rather familiar theme. It’s once more about a green of teens who want to shift away from the status quo, ones that want to change the world, and break its current state. This game tells that exact story over the case of almost two hundred hours for first timers. For many this could be a grueling task due to its length, the patience it requires, and the fact the game requires a great amount of time management. It’s a game that challenges players to make the most out of balancing out their busy schedules and beating the Hell out of demons while doing so. It makes you truly think of what your options are and how you will go about them.

Just as you’d expect from a Shin Megami Tensei title, this one follows a familiar path of how it tells it story, and drives its narrative home. It’s a game that uses an anime approach to many of its themes and elements. It’s one that does not shy away from these aspects through out its entire campaign. It takes those elements in order to drive the themes of rebellion, politics, and the ability to enact upon social change. It’s a game that is not afraid to approach these themes nor is it one that is brash or outspoken about them. It’s one that stylizes this in a minimalist way without cramming it down the players throat.

What also differentiates this game from past titles is how it manages to thrust players straight into the games core gameplay elements. Within the opening minutes, players are welcomed to Persona 5’s subtle changes. It’s a game that has added in stealth, ambushing mechanics, and the identity that these characters truly are the games “Phantom Thieves”. Much to the dismay of some, the games opening seconds are also the games close-to-end moments where “Joker” has been captured, and his story is told via an interrogation.

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As the game rewinds players are greeted with Joker’s current situation. He’s been sent away from his home town after getting in trouble with the law for a rather questionable offense. Due to the predicament he’s been sent out to live with family friend Sakura Sōjirō. Within a few days of being at Shujin High School, Joker has already assembled a ragtag group of persona users, and is well on his way to telling us an enlightening story.

However, not is all as it seems at his new school, and chaos seems to ensue. Much like Persona 4‘s Shadow World, Persona 5 throws people into the games “Metaverse” where things are rather similar between the two. For Joker, a disgraced ex-track star known as Ryouji, a troubled teen model by the name of Anne, and the student council president who is caught between two worlds, their adventure is no joke. Especially when they all learn they can control Personas.

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It doesn’t take long before Joker gathers a ragtag group of friends, including a disgraced ex-track star, a troubled teen model named Anne, and a human turned cat named Morgana. In true anime fashion, these friends each discover that they have a strange power: the ability to enter a bizarre shadow world known as the “Metaverse”. Because of this they are pressed to help right the wrongs of the world and help those around them. To do so is a bit trickier for them than they anticipated.

Aside from this, the game follows the core plot elements of the franchise rather closely. It doesn’t deviate from this at all except in one way. Unlike previous games, however, this new rag tag group of friends decide not to hide their abilities from the world, and take on a moniker to allow so by dubbing themselves “Phantom Thieves”. They also aren’t afraid that they can use the Metaverse to “steal” the hearts of their targets. Doing so allows them to turn those in the real world that are vile people on a new path. This new one turns them into nicer people, which causes them to change and repent for their wrongs.

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Review: Toukiden 2 – Where the Demon’s Roam

Pros:
-The game foregoes the traditional Monster Hunter style approach for the open world
-Single-player is quite enjoyable as the story is much deeper than the previous entries
-Online cooperative is the highlight of the game thanks to the more difficult missions
-Carrying over characters is quite nice for those wanting to keep their character

Cons:
Private lobbies don’t allow for player invites at this time
-Online does have minor syncing issues for players


Toukiden2_Cutscene03

Monster Hunter style games are a big deal for fans around the world. They love the challenge of fighting something bigger, meaner, and much stronger than they. It’s a fascination that has caused titles such as Freedom Wars, Monster Hunter, Soul Sacrifice, and now Toukiden 2 to flourish in the current day. They are a unique type of game that fans don’t just love, but enjoy. They are a type of title that approaches action-hunting games in an entirely unique and enjoyable way.

Among these titles comes the most unique approach to this genre – Toukiden 2 by famed Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force. Published by Koei Tecmo the game expands upon the style of games that the company publishes. Luckily for them, the game works quite well in doing so, and pulls once more from their unique take on the historical roots of Japan.

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Review: Atelier Firis and the Mysterious Journey – A Journey to Find What We Want

Pros:
-A lovely and enjoyable Story
-Great Continuation of the Original Alchemy System
-Time Management Returns from previous titles
-New Game+ Returns offering post-game extensiveness.
-Smooth Battle and Party System
-Unique ways to Finish Main Game
-Outfits and Atelier Decor


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To begin Atelier Firis and the Great Journey is a great game. It’s one that definitely gives of the vibes of the last gen games from the same series and ones close to it. Atelier Firis goes back to the smooth-opening moments and compliments such with a good start to what turns into a magnificent story.

With Atelier Firis you start out as a shut in girl who just wants to experience the world. This isn’t just metaphorically, she and her entire village are located inside a mountain and aren’t allowed to leave. One major difference between this game and other Atelier games is alchemy was unknown to the village. After a traveling alchemist visits, the game sets in motion the events for her to take this journey to become an Alchemist herself. This lets you experience two things that make this a great quite early into its gameplay time.

First is the alchemy system which come as no surprise. It’s a trademark system for Firis and is mostly a continuation of the one introduced in Atelier Sophie. The controls and navigation for it seem to be much smoother. Something very useful is that beside each recipe is a symbol that indicates if you are able to craft the item. If you are not there are different symbols as to say why. If its only cause you missing a component that you can craft its a triangle. This is where the second part of usefulness comes into play. Going into the recipe you want that is missing the component you need it will quick link you to the recipe to make the piece your missing.

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Now unlike Sophie and even the last two Atelier games on PS3. Firis, fortunately, has brought back the age old Time Management System. This is a definite must to consider having in the game. This mechanic influences how players will play and approach everything they do. This even includes the games core mechanic – alchemy. A lot of your time can get sucked up real fast doing alchemy, specifically with the quick link to missing components. The time system is split up in 2 sections of the game. First is you have 30 in game days to finish your tasks in your village where you begin or you don’t get to leave. The second and major part is once you leave the village you get 365 days to complete your main quest and get to the end game city.

This can seem like a lot but it can disappear without a trace in no time. If this happens its game end with the not so happy ending for our Ms. Firis. This sadly happened to me, but it introduced one of the most fun aspects to return to the series that was absent from the previous one, New Game +.

For fans who missed this in Atelier Sophie this a great thing to have reestablished within the franchise. Especially with the implementation of the Time system. With New Game+ whenever you do beat the game you get a clear data save. If you load this save file you can start you next play through with all gear, gold, and Alchemy proficiency for items you have crafted. The only things that wont carry over are level, items, and any adventure quest items. This will give you a nice early start in the next playthrough and even make it easier to play at higher difficulty if so desired.

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The battle system for Atelier Firis is very smooth and extremely reminisce of old systems. Characters can equip 2 weapons except for Firis herself. While in combat you have you action bar on right for attack order and a chain meter on left. Great thing about this is you can plan out your combos with ease. Enemies can also be knocked back to extend the turns for your characters. With the chain gauge you can get your other party members to shield Firis against attacks. Or once its full you go into essentially combo mode. As long as your character are in line to attack after each other you can chain attack items and skills for each. After reaching a certain level two different times you get to unlock chain breaks and chain finishers.

With Finishers if chain multiplier is high enough you get to choose who you want to use there ultimate attack. Know you can only choose 1 of the 4 in your party for that combat. But, your allowed to have up to five total in party including Firis. This means you can be strategic with party comp depending on your enemies. Even with your party full there are at least 2 others you can switch in and out of your travel party. Post game you get another two after you meet some requirements.

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There have been a ton of Atelier games made going back to the era of PlayStation 2. With that being said this Atelier game has one of the most unique and interactive endings. If you are able to make it to the final city of the game within the time limit you get to take and Exam. Provided you have met your requirements. Now this isn’t just a standard u get there you pass. Oh you did what you needed and you made it your good, no. You the player actually get to take the exam. If your score high enough with a combined total for the 3 parts of the exam you pass. Even if you do pass the ending game exam there is still a lot you can do post game

When it comes to post game content, this one has a heck of a lot. If you choose to play post game you start back at your town and get to go explore the world again. Experience places and people you didn’t get to or couldn’t at first. You can also get new quests and alchemy recipes that you couldn’t your first time through. There is just so much waiting to be done after you finish the main story that it’s truly unbelievable. As was mentioned before if you do some requirements post game you get 2 more people for your party making choices and battle more fun. Some things can only be accessed post game, most useful is a doll for your atelier.

Atelier Firis and the Mysterious Journey – PlayStation 4
Developer:
GUST
Publisher:
Koei Tecmo
Cost: $59.99
Release Date:
Available Now

The doll you get you can give a certain item to to fill its inventory. It will then refill the uses on your equipped items as long as they have at least one use left. In order to use the doll you have to set it up inside your Atelier via the Atelier decoration system. This system is one of two that makes the game more fun and interactive With the decoration system you can expand inventory, get better perks for alchemy, or just deck out the atelier. The other system is the ability to change Firis’s outfit to one that has been unlocked in game. Each outfit can give different perks such as faster movement or being able to do more stuff before having to rest up.

Atelier Firis is definitely a remembrance of what the Atelier games are all about. The alchemy system, re-introduction of time management, and the return of NG+ are all wonderful to experience. If you want to enjoy the story or just explore the world and see what you can find on the journey of a lifetime Atelier Firis is a must play. All of this is thanks to the gaming bringing back what made the series great to begin with.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 10 out of 10


About the Writer:

chris_adeeChris Adee is one of B.A.T.G.R.’s JRPG writers who seems to love three things. Sleep, games, and MOBA’s. He also likes games. A lot. Oh and anime. Did we mention anime?

Review: Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – Does More Mean Better?

Pros:
+Highly rewarding JRPG elements
+Two stories that differentiate greatly between each other
+Unique scenery that becomes ever-more enjoyable with time

Cons:
-Frame rate issues can become problematic for those preferring smoother frame rates
-Encounters can become too easy for fans to enjoy, but at the same time, too difficult


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Last year when I first got my hands on the Atelier series on PlayStation Vita, I was new to this series that’s been a long run JRPG franchise that has adored its fans for years. This was also the first game that would attempt to lure me in so that I would find myself enjoying. However, it was a series I wasn’t immediately hooked on due to the games creativity.

Thankfully, the Plus editions of the games are ones that carry on a bountiful amount of new content players have yet to see. Luckily, the Plus versions seem to be rather hefty in content for their discounted price. Technically speaking, for a new version of the game that comes to life, and offers plenty more for fans to enjoy with the games new improvements. Lucky for us, we get to see this new version continue the cycle, even with the release of Atelier Firis coming up this week. With a plus version for the PlayStation Vita, we get to see the series reach an even broader audience in order to bring in new fans.

Released just shortly before Atelier Sophie, Atelier Shallie was the final title to launch on the PlayStation 3 for the series, but it was also the finality to the Dusk Trilogy of the Atelier series. Luckily, the games do see some minor improvements to the games overall lifespan as well as dungeons for fans to enjoy. Luckily, some of the tweaks help fine-tune some of the games narrative in order to help iron out complaints from the fans such as plot holes, improvements of characters, and even a chance to quash out any nuances within the game.

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Much like the last time we reviewed this game, the story revolves around Shallistera Argo and Shallotte Elminus, or Shallie for short. The game introduces players to both through small introductory scenes where they will get to experience both of the characters momentarily before ultimately choosing who they wish to experience first story wise. Both players will find themselves rather familiarized with the games town as both of the girls live there, and both of them are ultimately after the same goal. While this seems that playing the game in the same setting will make the game boring, transparent, and lacking for content, that’s not the case with this game.

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Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Doomsday Zero Hour

Pros:
+One of the strongest voice casts presented in gaming
+Top-notch graphics that show consoles can offer a PC-like experience
+Strong artistic creativity that brings the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn to life
+Crafting and leveling up systems actually matter and bring the size to life

Cons:
Minor nuances such as getting stuck on random debris of the terrain do exist


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What do you imagine humanity will be like in the next few hundred years? Do you imagine humanity dashing across the stars, starships battling it out among the galaxies? What if humanity never even made it that far? What if humanity saw the reset button pressed and the world brought to an end in one swift go? What if you got to see the world after the calamity and were one to play as a survivor within the post-calamity world?

This is the very story Guerrilla introduces as players take the role of Aloy, a Norah tribeswoman in this very post-calamity world. A world where machine has become the hunter and humanity is the hunted. Unlike previous protagonists from different developers, Aloy isn’t a blank-slate character. She isn’t a character without a past, or a character. She very  much is alive, with a past, a character, and a personality that the game wants people to fall in love with as if she is someone that they know.

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Her back-story however, is not a happy one, it’s not a great one as we learn in the opening moments. From the get-go she is portrayed as an outcast much like her adoptive father, Rost. With him they are shunned by the Norah tribes people due to their outstanding. As she grows to adulthood, her curiosity, cunning, and personality mature with her so that she is someone we could easily believe could exist in our world. It’s all in-thanks to the writing team who managed to make her compassionate, thoughtful, and most-of-all a character whom is apparent, flawed, and one that fits perfectly into a medium where you’ll be exploring fearless exploits throughout the world we’ve been handed.

As you would expect, your adventures with Aloy take you across the skeletons of a world now gone. This serves as much of your story, a narrative unspoken, which makes her world exist. It’s also a vital piece of the games design as much of this worlds skeletons serve as the ruins that you’ll help Aloy and her tribe explore as her quest begins quickly. Moments after the introductory cutscenes, players are instantly given their control of Aloy as a child. From there they will explore lost ruins in which Aloy finds herself falling into by accident and not-too-soon, she learns of a world now gone, and here our adventure with her focus begins as she uncovers a world long-gone.

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Review: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk – A Band of Berserking Madmen

Pros:
-Throws non-fans of Berserk right into the guts and glory of the 27 year old franchise
-Animation, sound, and design fit the world of Berserk perfectly
-Decently lengthy for the average Warriors and Beserk fan to enjoy

Cons:
-Repetitious hack’n’slashing that offers little-to-no depth for story elements
-Non-campaign modes are incredibly short
-Character customizations are too incredibly close to the Warriors titles


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Berserk is one of the longest running franchises out there. Having spanned more than 27 years of multifaceted formats ranging from OVA’s, anime series, and even mangas – it’s a series well worth a chance in the modern era of gaming. It’s also a difficult task to think of an anime that is best suited for Omega Force’s well vetted Warriors meta-series than this very one. Much like any character from say Samurai Warriors, Guts is a man that lives and breathes this genre quite well. With his large sword, hunger for blood filled battle, and his unique back story, many would take the fact Berserk and the Band of the Hawk would fit quite well into this meta.

Sadly, its a game that seems to  miss the point of what Berserk is all about. It’s a game that decided to take a one-dimensional approach to this rather large universe that animes, manga’s, and fanfics have helped bring to life. Instead, it’s a game that lead me to skipping through countless cutscenes since they were yanked straight from the anime, and placed right within the game. Granted I ended up having to go back and watch them for the sake of the review, needless to say, I regretted doing so as the core of the game is all about Guts, Griffith, Casca, and the rest of their band of mercenaries.

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Much of this is due to the fact I was spoiled quite well with Omega Forces adaptions to the Warriors meta with Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes, which lead me whirling through well renowned worlds, and parading around as some of the best characters in the history of those franchises. The downside here is that these two games used the hallmark mechanics of the Dynasty Warriors franchise and did it even better. Berserk, however, is extremely limited on mission goals. All of these goals range from destroy, rescuing someone, and killing someone. Sounds simple, right? Well it is, and it’s irritating that one of the best anime franchises out there got this treatment.

Want to hunt down hidden objectives? That won’t happen. Want to find secret rooms like Hyrule Warriors? That’s not happening. Want to find different elements for your weapons like Dragon Quest Heroes? Let me laugh for you. It’s simply not happening, which is disappointing due to the games walking potential with such a deep, rich, and lush background that the Berserk franchise has. Even more-so because the game could have adapted quite well to the franchise over the span of 46 story chapters. Sadly, by 25, I wanted to quickly close the game and go back to enjoying the well-rounded Attack on Titan game that succeeded in bringing the anime to life via gaming.

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The game is as one would expect. It’s surrounded in Guts’ need for revenge as well as his intense desire to kill anyone that gets in his way of what he’s searching for. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t even reward players for carrying through with this task, and doesn’t even offer the capability for players to change out Guts’ sword with upgraded ones. This is done via buffs that players can pick up by cutting enemies down. One of the best moments the game has to offer is one of the biggest downers. It revolves around sending Guts into a frenzy where amassing a bloody mess of over 1,000 bodies during each objective. This sense of completion is the most satisfying part in these rather lifeless missions that seem to serve almost little-to-no-purpose. sadly, the cutscenes become the most appealing part of the game over the course of the campaign.

While most missions will carry multiple objectives out of the one above, there are a few queues from other Warriors meta-driven games. Players will find mid-mission plot twists where the objectives will rapidly change so that a sub-objective comes to life. It’s here that players will find themselves flying through most of the games chapters in 10 minutes at most. Mission results don’t help to alleviate the pain of this games shortcomings. Missions as you would expect are rated using an alphabetic ranking system. Sadly, getting a “S” is mostly a long-forbidden dream that players will find themselves clamoring about to receive. Luckily the games intermissions are pulled from Berserk’s Golden Age where Berserk was coming up into a rise to fame.

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If you are wondering how Guts’ repertoire is expressed? The game does it quite well through rather simple combos. You’ll find yourself constantly mashing square or triangle to use Guts’, Griffiths’, or even Casca’s combats in order to cut enemies down. While the occasional switch after so many presses of one button offers a sense of accomplishment, Guts or any of the others, show off their brutality by using his musuo-like mode. This mode allows Guts to build up his “ultimate” meter where he unleashes his rather devastating attacks in order to disperse enemies rather quickly. This also shows-off the fact the game follows the Warriors meta for mechanics quite closely.

While the novelty of playing famed characters exist, Free Mode is where players would probably want to go in order to enjoy the game at it fullest. Here is where you’ll be most disappointed since it only features previously cleared missions. Bummer, huh? At least you can try out the games supporting cast int his mode in order to see what they are made of. They all control rather similarly to Guts.

Beserk and the Band of the Hawk – PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC
Developer:
Omega Force
Publisher:
Koei Tecmo
Cost: $59.99
Release Date:
Available Now

Each brings in their own blood-filled combat tactics in order to cut enemies down. Griffith serves as one of the more lustrous characters in the title. His ability to kill with his lethal grace is a prestige no-one-other has. He moves through the combat beautifully in his zigs, zags, and ultimately gracious movement. Casca on other hand is not as brutal as her colleagues. Her attacks are more like that of a ninja. She’s fast, she’s dangerous, and she implores the player to take advantage of this in order to take out dozens of troops at once.

While the games sound, art quality, and appeal to the manga’s are almost on par, the game seems to miss the depth that Berserk is known for. While playing as the bloodlusted and battle experience Guts is a blast, it seems that the Warriors style meta misses its mark with Omega Force’s latest iteration. Luckily, there’s still room for improvement for the game on the sense of combat and adding depth via DLC. However, Omega Force’s more imaginative and more-accurate efforts seem to have been missed in this latest title. While story is what most of us will come here for, it seems this game won’t have that to offer and it will be one of those games that would have gratified itself better using a Ninja Gaiden style approach to the game in order to keep us entertained like the game should have at this point.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher. For our review, we used a PlayStation 4 Pro with a 7200RPM HDD.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 6 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

Review: Nioh – Where the First Western Samurai Fight

Pros:
+Creative use of Japan’s Sengoku Period
+A unique take on the Bloodborne and Dark Souls franchises combat systems
+Each stage requests players to spend hours clearing every inch of them
+Each boss provide a unique scaling of difficulty
+Armor designs feel historically accurate and quite well rendered

Cons:
-Stats feel almost useless in comparison to Dark Souls or Bloodborne
-The approach to coop decreases the games overall difficulty
-Little variation or importance of different builds
-Graphics and performance could use some better PlayStation 4 Pro optimizations


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What do you imagine when someone mentions Japan’s Sengoku Period? Cities lavished in lanters lit to walkways, Sakura Tree’s dropping beautiful pink petals upon the ground, and perhaps Samurai clad in their armor walking among dirt roads? Or do you imagine a land filled with mystique and fantasy where mystical creatures roam? That’s exactly what Koei Tecmo has done as they show their fondness for Japan’s rather sumptuously rich history.

Nioh is one of those games that follows the tradition of the Dark Souls-inspired combat while also entrenching itself with touches of Ninja Gaiden. After all, what more could we expect from Team Ninja, the minds behind the Ninja Gaiden franchise? Much as you’d expect, this is a game that balances out the virtue of patience and the value of learning how to defend yourself against a lethal enemy. This is something Team Ninja has been known for in the past and continued to do so quite well to this day. This means tactics, dexterity, and a keen memory will play a rather large role in order to overcome the inevitability of dying, and dying a lot.

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The game takes place during the explorations of protagonist William Adams, a true Western Samurai, whom adventured to Japan in the 1600’s. Our story uses this factual piece of history as its smelting point and forges forth from there. The game, however, depicts him as a an hunting down an antagonist whom just happens to be an occultist, by the name of Edward Kelley, whom actually exists in English history. Both of these men are hunting down one of the same thing: Amrita. This magical stone is abundant and Japan, it has also been seen as an artifact that holds power, and could turn the tides of war in Queen Elizabeth I’s fight against Spain.

However, this also means death is a heavy feature in this game and it’s not tied to the frequency of player deaths, but also the fact Japan is torn in war and ridden with yokai (demons). If you ever wanted to see a blend between anime, gaming, and a good Akira Kurosawa film, here’s your chance. Koei Tecmo blended perfectly the chaos of ruins and corpses littered across the lands. However, Nioh’s elegance isn’t due to the scenic creativity that Koei Tecmo exhibits with this game, but rather its combat.

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Much as you would expect, Nioh is a title that thrives upon creativity and its artistic measures. It’s a game that bases itself around the premise of combat with multiple enemies. Combat is one that shines most when players are taking on enemies in one-on-one duels. Here players will exhibit choreographed combat based upon the stance in which they choose. Whether it’s deducing an enemies combat capabilities by standing in a over-head stance or whether or not it’s by making low-stance quick attacks. Here players will take on enemies decorated in ancient Japanese armors. Even the Yokai themselves dawn these kinds of designs. However, it follows through with their discipline and attack with their greatest combat efficiency. However, this game will make you debate upon whether or not to attack enemies in crowd.

The highlight to this aspect is it follows rather well into the game as players will find themselves moving between Jutsu or Onmyo focused builds. This will determine whether or not players will alternate between using ninja combat tactics or magics to enhance their combat prowess. As players gain experience from combat, they will notice Amrita serves much the same purpose as souls from the souls series. They will invest their Amrita into specializing William to their play-style. Unlike Dark Souls, however, it’s no longer about how well you can balance your talents, but instead, what weapons you decide to use and how you want to use them. If you prefer sickle and chain, then you may want Kurisagama, while Body will drive you to be more efficient in combat with spears.

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When looking at Nioh, managing stamina, rather ki for the sake of this game, is quite the task, and something that you’ll find yourself doing quite often. To complicate matters, enemies will find themselves moving away from combat, and even letting ki regenerate before diving back into combat once more. To alleviate this players can opt to use stamina enhanced consumables as well as ki-specific weapon enhancements to allow combat to last longer. If you’re a  more dexterous player, a quick shoulder button push of the R1 will help you refresh your stamina recovery boost. Also, this will help you bolster against enemies who corrupt the ground around you and ensure ki can’t regenerate.

Outside of combat, Nioh is aesthetically as well as audibly pleasing. Followed by its carefully crafted Japanese aesthetics, the game serves up a rather palpable dish of creativity, and authenticity. In comparison to most modern games, it’s one of the closest things players will find themselves enjoying for such a challenging adventure. Artists Hirohisa Kaneko and Tsutomu Terada deliver a pleasing art style that serves Nioh quite well. Between their delectable art style and Yugo Kanno’s compositions, players will find themselves sucked into Nioh for hours on-end.

Nioh – PlayStation 4
Developer:
Team Ninja
Publisher:
Koei Tecmo, Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan
Cost: $59.99
Release Date:
Available Now

With the Twilight missions offering a rise in difficulty and rare pieces of crafting materials as well as armor, there is surely quite a bit for them to take in until the DLC releases later this year. Just remember, the Dojo does serve a purpose and will offer rare resources that you will quite frankly need later on within the game.

That brings forth the need for players to enjoy such a unique title and spend the hours they should on it. Just note that this game is not for players who haven’t played games such as Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden and will offer a challenge that surpasses that of what they might be used to. With that being said, Nioh is a unique title, one that offers up new challenges around every corner and will keep gamers busy for hours on end. Just remember, this game will kill you, over, and over again.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game we purchased. For our review, we used a PlayStation 4 Pro with a 7200RPM HDD.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 9 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.