Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Before I get into the meat of the post, I'll just mention that I picked up Deadlight because it's one of those free Games with Gold. I don't know anything about it.

I spoke a little about Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry last time, and since then I've beaten it. In fact, I've completed it, having rescued hundreds of slaves and achieved all the achievements. I certainly enjoyed the whole thing, though there was one particular mission that I must have spent about an hour and a half on, just to get the 100% sync criteria, because it failed to register the first time. At least it wasn't totally broken like the King Washington DLC. Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the part on the sinking ship, it was very well orchestrated.

I'll also talk a little more about Nier. I gave up on doing the annoying side-quests and just rushed headlong into the plot, and it is making me enjoy the game more. I still don't understand the point of Kainé's clothing, and I hope there is one, because otherwise it's just a ridiculously lampshaded design choice. Game is fun, plot is interesting, keep it coming.

Been doing a little bit of speedrunning lately. Unfortunately due to events outside of my control I'm not going to be attending Crystals for Life this year. However, I still hope to join in during the bonus stream portion and do the two games I was meant to. To that end, I've been doing some more attempts at Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness. The start is tricky; I need to get a Blaster in my initial dumping-of-money-in-a-pond and the chances of that happening aren't too bad (50%) but the need for a decent farming point in the first dungeon is paramount and the chance of that happening is difficult to measure but from experience minute. I did manage to actually get a run to the end but it was slower than my current PB (45:17) so not much to report really. The five Create scrolls I bought for the last fight didn't work at all... a quick perusal at my disassembly of the game's code did not reveal a reason why: either being a Cleric or having an Intelligence above 90 should guarantee the spell's success. Blah!

Second speedrunning game is Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires! Emily has much enjoyed slapping thousands of Chinamen to death so I suggested we try running through the game quickly and this happened. Now, those are only first attempts and could benefit from a bunch more planning (and not losing battles) but it has still been fun and I look forward to improving them. Unfortunately it's rather annoying to stream/record right now because I don't really want to use composite video; the in-game map is blurry enough on HDMI. Maybe someday, but for now they are 'records' without videos behind them.

Final game to mention is El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. I knew virtually nothing about this game other than "it is weird" when I bought it for cheap. Now I've beaten the damn thing and I still know almost nothing about it, other than it is beautiful and definitely worth whatever I paid. The combat (modelled on Devil May Cry) is fun, though a little difficult to specify exactly what move you want. The visuals are spectacular; I had more than a few moments where I thought I was playing Klonoa again, especially during the sideways platforming sections. It's an excellent game, truly different, yet does not seem to have much exposure. I would very much like to speedrun at least individual levels of the game.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Cing Visual Novels Review: Glass Rose

Glass Rose is a point-and-click adventure/mystery game for the PlayStation 2, released in 2003. It was developed by Cing, and I desperately wanted to play it as soon as I learned of its existence.

You play Takashi Kagetani, a reporter investigating a series of unexplained murders that happened over seventy years ago. As you and your girlfriend, Emi Katagiri, visit the mansion where the murders took place, you are suddenly whisked into two separate time continuums--you, to a three-day span during the murders, and Emi to an unexplained time. You then proceed to investigate and interview everyone residing in the mansion, fitting in quite well as you apparently look identical to someone named Kazuya Nanase, the son of the first murder victim.

The quest for all of Cing's story games

Though I am rather late to say so, considering they are now defunct, Cing is one of my favourite game development studios. I didn't even know they existed until 2008, and unfortunately they were bankrupt by 2010. Since they can no longer make them, I have made it a personal mission to play and review all of their story games in a set of posts on this blog.

So, why Cing? It all started with Hotel Dusk: Room 215. I first noticed it for sale at a local department store in the summer of 2008. The artwork on the front cover was enough to make me curious. I didn't quite know what to expect from the game, but what I received, I was thrilled with. I love mystery novels, and this was essentially a playable one. I found myself enamoured with the main character, Kyle Hyde, and all the supporting characters as well. The world felt alive, and the story was intriguing, with many intertwining plot threads. Despite Hotel Dusk being a story game (and therefore not having much intrinsic "replay value"), I've played it to completion three separate times.

Fast-forward to 2011, before Paul and I were married. I came to visit him for the month of May to make sure that we'd be compatible living together. We visited a game store, and as I perused the DS games, I noticed the cover of one adorned with a character not unlike the protagonist from Hotel Dusk. Lo and behold, it was Last Window: The Secret of Cape West, and the character depicted was indeed Kyle Hyde! (And lucky for me that I happened to see it there--the English localization of this game was only released in Europe. Being an American, I hadn't even known there was a sequel!) I immediately purchased it, and finished within the week. The new cast was as richly designed as the first, and the plot revealed more to us about Kyle's life before the games. I was fascinated, wondering if a third game could be in the works... which is when I discovered, sadly, Cing would never make games again.

I'll start in the next post with a review of the next Cing game I managed to find, Glass Rose. It seems to be a fitting start to this series, as it was their first game. I will then replay and post reviews of Hotel Dusk and Last Window. To finish my quest, I will need to obtain Another Code: Two Memories (a.k.a. Trace Memory in the USA), Another Code: R - A Journey into Lost Memories, and Again.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Mixed Bag

Well, it's been quite some time since I bothered to write something. Here's a mammoth update!

Firstly, I started to play Nier. Gameplay-wise, it's fairly standard mash-buttons-until-things-die fare so far. Where the game is really standing out is its setting; it is relentlessly gloomy and I'm forever getting the feeling that everything is going to explode at some point, or more likely just slowly die out with nobody left to care. I'm looking forward to playing more of the plot; the game is full of these bring a thing to a place sidequests which are starting to wear me down, and don't even start with the fishing.

Next in my handy-dandy Backloggery memory card is Glass Rose. Emily wanted to pick this up because it was developed by Cing, the now-defunct company that made Hotel Dusk and some other story-based games. Since then, we've played through it unlocking all four endings! It's trivial to unlock three from one save file if you know what you're doing, but getting the fourth basically requires an extra playthrough. I'm not quite sure what to say about this one... it has a bizarre premise and some nice twists and turns, but the writing and voice acting is so badly done that it's difficult to really get into. Also, the controls are pretty bad and much more suited towards a mouse (or a touchscreen). Might ask Emily to write some further comments on here, because I think she could have a few things to say.

Finally I beat Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. I say 'finally' because I've only been playing this while at my parents' house, because my mother enjoys watching me play through these games. I've yelled at the game a few times for its risible sailing sections, but it's still pretty fun and I particularly enjoyed the ending, which just adds to the series's mysticism and overall nonsense. This led me to begin the DLC, Freedom Cry. I haven't done much yet, but I have rescued a bunch of slaves, and again this is more fun than Black Flag because you don't sail as much! Adéwalé plays almost identically to Edward (although he does have a machete like Aveline) so it was easy to jump right in, but he is much more sympathetic. I really hope that the next AC game has no sailing. Or anything related to vehicles at all.

Caved in and bought Crusader Kings II and a bunch of discounted DLC a little while ago. I've always had a healthy dollop of respect for Paradox for bringing such incredibly detailed and dry strategy games to a somewhat large market, but until now I've only owned Europa Universalis III. I played as an Italian Duke named, uh, Ezio Auditore. Spent a long time trying to increase my territory a little without angering anyone major, but I made a few mis-steps and didn't really gain much, then Gavelkind ruined everything. So I started again as a Welsh Count named Cadwgan ap Meurig. He hasn't done much, but he has fought off the Irish and managed to make some important alliances, as well as installing a courtier as the Duke of Deheubarth, which he hopes to have his successor inherit. I changed the succession law to Tanistry because it seems fun.

Finally there's a few games to add to my collection, because OF COURSE THERE IS.

  • Hitman: Absolution was free with Xbox Live Gold (mine is actually expiring soon, not sure if I'll renew it until the next free game is released) and apparently is a bit more user-friendly than the previous instalments, so I'll try it out.
  • Warriors Orochi 2 and Samurai Warriors 2: Empires are both on the way from CeX, because Emily has gone nuts after playing Samurai Warriors: Chronicles and Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires and wants more of the same.