Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Out of nostalgia - and a bit because it was on sale - I got Castle of Illusion on Steam. Back in the days I played it on my Megadrive and have some good memories of it, so why not?

For context, we´re talking of a 3D reboot of a 2D platform game. While most reboots are questionable, this one came out better than expected, since the game offers several substantial advantages over the original. The most notorious being checkpoints: If memory serves in the original if you ran out of lives you had to start over. In this new version completed levels are saved, so you can continue playing from the last completed checkpoint. This makes a world of a difference from the original, which was a good platforming games with some fresh ideas, but it was fucking hard to finish. I don´t think I managed to do it

But this new version not only upgrades the game to 2.5D graphics but also adds some interesting camera variety, while keeping the excellent level design ideas. It´s still fairly simple in its proposal: Mickey can walk, jump and throw apples. That´s pretty much it. Each scenario is somehow unique, with lots of exotic gameplay elements. This is a rare luxury in these days where budget constraints favor reusable systems. Another advantage is that, since the mechanics are that simple, you can´t blame the game for your failures. It´s all on you

On the minus side I´d say the ending cinematic was underwhelming, much like if they ran out of money at the last minute, and the game was a bit short. Presuming the game has the same number of levels than the original it´s understandable: Since the player is not forced to start from scratch it´s easier to run through the game. That also makes the “Lives” system a bit superfluous, I see the game being clearer without them

Anyway, good fun and some impressive levels. A great platformer, highly recommendable for those interested in the genre or Disney characters

Friday, August 25, 2017


I´ve been interested on interactive storytelling games since like forever. That was one of the reasons why I took that job at Quantic Dream. Some ex-employees of that company founded Dontnod some years ago, and created Life is strange. And thanks to a PS4 store sale, I had the chance to finish it

As it´s common in this genre, the story takes priority over game mechanics. However, while David Cage´s games use gameplay as a short relief in between story beats, Life is strange does a better job not only to give its game systems the opportunity to shine, but also the nature of them (rewind back time) is well integrated into the story, and supports the feeling it´s trying to build

Split in several episodes, the game tells the story of Max, a student of a prestigious photography academy, who has a vision of the future where the city is destroyed. At the same time he finds herself in the possession of the superhuman ability to go back in time at will, which is the main tool in most puzzles. While trying to win back her friend Chloe, they both get involved in the disappearance of another student... and all that happens afterward

The game offers a number of different scenarios and characters to interact with, through simple interaction puzzles and dialogues. The rewind ability gives uniformity to the whole game and it´s the main tool to solve the most complicated enigmas. The second theme is photography: Max is an aspiring photo artist, and all achievements are related to taking pictures of picturesque situations

All together the game is consistent with the genre, offers a moderate step forward in terms of gameplay, and delivers a reasonably interesting story. On the minus side, I´m not sold with the world visual style and sometimes I could use more variation on the puzzles. But if you like story games, it´s kinda a must

Sunday, August 20, 2017


The South Park game sequel is on its way in some months and since it´s developed by Ubisoft I got a nice discount. I´ve had the first game waiting on Steam for years and thought it´d be a good idea to finish it before the new one arrives

Truth is, I thought it´d be a short one. But it actually took me 30h to complete it. Admittedly I´m a compulsive collector and also spent time doing some unusual achievements, but since the game map is not that big I initially pictured it as one of those 8-10h long games

That speaks well of the game´s design and particularly the combat system. The world space is condensed but packed with content, and quests usually require you to move around enough to find optional challenges. At the end you often have that feeling of “I have so many different things to do… which one should I try first” that I only find in bigger games

Another interesting aspect to highlight are the visuals, particularly how well they´ve captured the look and feel of the original series. Honestly, you soon become one on this Colorado town, and the game is like an interactive episode of the series. On top of that all the characters are present one way or another, and if you dig their type of humor it´s also really funny

The combat system is a classic JRPG turn-based system but with a Southparkesque paintover. It works fairly well although I didn´t have problems to beat almost all enemies on the first try, including the final boss. Don´t remember if there was a difficulty setting at the beginning, but there are no achievements associated so I´m not interested in trying others. But even if there were I would have chosen the mid/normal bracket, and would have expected to be a bit more challenged

Also on the minus side I´m not convinced on the design of some of the UI screens (it´s an RPG after all, there are many) and controls. I think it could have been done in a more intuitive and nicer way. Also some of the subsystems (i.e. buddy abilities out of combat) were poorly explained

I´m currently trying a couple more achievements before deleting the local copy, but generally speaking I can say it´s a must if you´re a fan of the IP, and recommendable if you like role games in general. Now go ahead and kill Kenny, you bastards!