Well Dtoid its coming close to the end of the year, and I've reached the home-stretch of my 60 game year challenge. We finally enter into the 50's and I personally only have 2 more games to go...and 9 more to write about. Thankfully, I'm done with my finals and now I can focus on the important things in life, video games! Anyway,here is the next batch of games from my challenge, and expect the next batch soon.
Game 49: Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn- Date Beat October 3
Radiant Dawn really is a fine example of storytelling through gameplay. Playing as pretty much each individual nation and then seeing each of them fight each other really makes you more emotionally involved then just seeing these characters through some sort cutscene. I really do love Fire Emblem because the characters help create the universe youíre in and make it feel just a little more real. Tellius is, perhaps, the most real Fire Emblem universe to date. Itís not just the fact that Radiant Dawn goes through several different parts showing different sides of opposition. Itís the fact that RD builds these sides based off the game that came before it, and largely owes much of its success because there was a predecessor.
Course, not everything is great with Radiant Dawn, and it does have a lot of glaring issues. For one, itís a hard game. Even Fire Emblem veterans like me donít have an easy time with this game because of how hard it can be in the beginning and near the end. Itís not just hard, but it also doesnít steady its difficulty, some chapters may take you forever and others will be a breeze. Radiant Dawn just never quite cuts the player any slack, and itís quite maddening to play through a whole chapter in one sitting just to see one little thing get screwed up, and making you start over again. Luckily, Radiant Dawn covers such a cruel fate with the new addition of battle saves, and something that truly saved my sanity. For the first 6 chapters I didnít use battle save, assuming it was only a quick save, but once I found out how useful it was, and the ability to abuse it was present RD suddenly did a 180 on difficulty. Now instead of getting headaches over chapters, I was getting them over leveling up my units, the way I normally play.
The other issue RD presents is the availability of units, something not present in most fire emblem games. The vast majority of your units wonít be around for most of the chapters so there is a lot of micro managing in terms of who gets to use who, which units should be used, and not always being able to use people that you want. The main problem, in all honesty, is that RD just has too many good units and you kinda want to train them all, but you only get some much time with each of them so then you have to quickly narrow down who you train. Many units even suffer greatly from their short usage, and end up being nearly improbable to use. Also thanks to the great deal of units, many of the supports that were once there to give great detail about characters are now nothing more than an add bonus and a generic dialogue tree. This really did disappoint me greatly as supports are one of the best aspects of fire emblem. Supports gave the characters depth, and reasons to like them more, so we get angry more when they die on the battlefield.
In spite of all these issues though, Radiant Dawn really just ends up being a different beast of a fire emblem game. Sure, RD still has the same old level up systems, the same old weapon system, and the same old animations. Pretty much everything that made fire emblem good, stayed good in RD. But the thing that is ever present in RD, and what separates it clearly from other fire emblem games I have played is how grand it is. Everything is set in a grander scale; chapters are far longer than they used to be; the amount of units you have far outclass any fire emblem game I have played; and the story expands even between two games. Radiant Dawn feels like it was an experiment of how big a fire emblem game can be, and for that I thank it and wish more of it.
Conclusion: At times Radiant Dawn can provide to be too big of a mess of sorts, with its odd sense of difficulty, support system, and choosing which characters to exactly use throughout the game. But if you invest time in Radiant Dawn it will provide you with a grand experience, with a story, cast of characters, and game that match that.
Game 50: Breath of Death VII: The Beginning Ė date beat October 7
Seeing many reviews mentioning Breath of Death VII, an indie game, as a great RPG to pick up for only a dollar peaked my curiosity into this game. Further through these reviews I saw that it was hilarious and had a battle system that could change RPGs forever. The battle system in question, having a limited number of random encounters, had me sold; this was the RPG for me. The fact it was humorous was just icing on a chocolate mountain. I bought the game, and began to sing praises of it throughout the land. I told many of my friends about this awesomely awesome game that was super cheap and funny. Then when it arrived on steam along with another charming game, Cthulu saves the world, I bought it again. I even bought a few for packs of BoDVII/ CStW for my friends because I love Breath of Death so much, and along with another game it was easy to give it to my friends to play. Course, I did all this without even touching Cthulu Saves the World or even beating Breath of Death, a game I had for well over a year. I overhyped this game so much to my friends whenever I mentioned it, and I didnít even beat it. If there were ever a game I personally needed to beat for this challenge, it be this one.
After playing through the whole game, was it worth all the praise I gave it? Well sorta, accounting everything like price, gameplay, story, and whatnot BoDVII was good. The game itself is a dollar and what it gives out is unique to its own genre, and effectively enough, BoDVII is revolutionary. Yet there is this slight distaste I have for it, perhaps I praised it too much, but needless to say it didnít live up to what I sold it on. Yes, the game can be quite funny and the battle system was everything I made it out to be, but for the largest part of playing through this game I kept fighting sleep. Perhaps I should blame this on the fact I usually played this game at the wee hours of the night, but the game could just not grab my attention enough to make me stay awake. There are a lot of moments throughout the game were the battles can get somewhat tedious, as many random encounters can end up unchallenging because how you abuse the battle system it gives you; one where you can just fight all the forced random encounters at once. Perhaps I made the game boring, but perhaps the game needed a little something more. I mean this game can get really challenging, and I did die from certain bosses numerous times. The combo and do or die battle system is also one of my favorite combat systems in RPGs. I like the fact that if I spend too long on a boss, or I use a wrong move the game will effectively kick my ass. I like the fact that I can grind easily enough and then go exploring without interruptions. But the thing I didnít like in this game was a constant need to grind to get rid of random encounters, this made the game just take too long, and what made me want to fall asleep.
Such a complaint however only tampered my experience for this game a little, and for what this game was, it was still enjoyable and funny. While it can be a bit repetitive, and the story can also be a bit lackluster, if only for the sake of humor, the game wins a lot of points for how cheap it is, how unique its battle system is, and for creating challenging, fast pace battles. Iíll still recommend Breath of Death even though it wasnít the God sent I was hoping for a RPG, I may down play my recommending this time as well, but needless to say Breath of Death does deserve praise.
Breath of Death VII: The Beginning is an ambitious indie RPG that is not only cheap to get, but also has a revolutionary battle system to boot. While BoDVII is short with a mediocre story it also provides to be witty and replayable with its custom skill tree and score attack mode. To say the least you are getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Game 51: Bloodrayne: Betrayal date beat October 10
When I first saw Wayforward was making BloodRayne: Betrayal, I was ecstatic. Betrayal was looking to be like a Castlevania game, but with a badass female as the lead character. I really donít know much about the BloodRayne series itself, but if this was supposed to be there big comeback game Iíd say Wayforward delivered, well, mostly anyway.
Itís not really that I have a big problem with Betrayal, but there are a lot of things that kind of damper my spirits when playing this game. For instance, about 1/3 of Betrayalís levels have conflicting shades in the background that make it extremely hard to see your character and actions while playing through the game. I understand that itís largely there to be ascetically pleasing to the eye, but it also lowers my eyesight during gameplay, to the point Iím just guessing where Iím go. Some of the level design is also questionable, itís not really that itís flawed, but there are points in the game where you really question how it escalated so quickly. Whether itís a large wave of enemies, the death traps throughout the levels or a combination of the two, Betrayal will eventually let you know that itís not fucking around. Course these sudden spikes of difficulty are always welcomed with checkpoints, mostly in well placed areas. These checkpoints then allow you to practice these areas of difficultly over and over again till you get it right. This is, of course, I nice change of pace from the gaming industry as Betrayal doesnít baby you, nor does it ever become too difficult to pass. Youíll just have a few frustrating moments, but eventually youíll be able to pass an area of difficulty as it becomes easier and easier the more you learn it.
However, the bigger problem is the somewhat odd physics Betrayal has, at certain points Rayne will end up with unpredicted momentum and can easily screw you over and kill you. Rayne is also kind slippery as a whole, so itís hard to stop on a dime like you would normally want to in a platformer such as this. Rayne also tends to get locked up in whatever move she is currently doing so she canít always dodge the way you would want her too, and her recovery is horrible as you can recover at the exact moment that another enemy hits you, leaving you unable to retaliate. Overall though, much of Betrayals problems can easily be conquered with practice.
While Betrayal doesnít really have much of a story going for it, much of its art direction does. Many of the backgrounds, which can be annoying, are also stunning to look at. While playing the game I was sometimes just distracted because of how pretty the background can look. Also the fact that I canít really see Rayne is somewhat bothersome because the camera is always in a locked position that makes sure that Rayne only covers a tiny part of the screen. Bosses in Betrayal are also rather hit and miss, itís not that the bosses arenít challenging or different, but that they lack a certain appeal. Rankings were also rather lackluster as much of the ranking system just seems harsh. While it certainly isnít noticeable at first, the fact is that you have to play to near perfection if you want the highest rank possible. I understand that I canít get higher ranks my first run through, but sometimes I legitimately try to do well, and Iíll still get an F Rank because I didnít kill my enemies fast enough, collect treasure, or got injured. The game simply wants too much of me and in the end I donít care about the rankings because itís simply too hard.
I know I complain a lot about Betrayal, but I really did have fun with it. The music is stellar and the graphics are pleasing to the eye, for the most part. It also reminds me of my times with Castlevania and how hard it can be, and thatís why I like Betrayal, its challenging. Sure it has a lot of trial and error moments, but in the end it feels more so challenging rather than tedious. If you set out and play this game just donít look to play to perfection as much of it is just too demanding and youíll just end up being frustrated in the end. But if you look at this game as a mountain to conquer, youíll find it to be an enjoyable experience.
BloodRayne Betrayal is far from a perfect game, aside from excellent music and visuals the game has many glaring issues with combat, level design, and ranking systems. But Betrayal also provides to be a challenging game that ends up feeling very rewarding in the end, and with that note Betrayal is still a good game.
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