RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Friday, 31 May 2013

Dust: An Elysion Tail

For a project that initially intended to span the space of several months, it's amazing that Dust actually took 3 and a half years to come out of development. It was clearly worth the wait though, because Dust: An Elysion Tail is a brilliant platforming game with some intriguing elements to it. This is one of those games that just has absolutely everything it needs to sit on that throne of the gods. It's all so well put together, that there's no particular feature in the game that bogs it down.

Screenshot of gameplay from Dust
It's hard to call a game pretty when it's sporting 2D graphics, but Dust looks fantastic.

Dust is one of those indie games that I came across on steam whilst having a search around for a new title to play. So I bought it with the simple expectation of it being an acceptable way to kill some time. After playing it for 5 minutes, I could tell it was worth the purchase. The action is fluid and addictive, combined with glorious side-scrolling and some tacked on RPG aspects. It's fun, it's polished, and very memorable.

Screenshot of the environments in the indie game Dust: An Elysion Tail
When you get used to the game, you will probably spend more time in the air than on the ground.

The game is about an amnesiac soldier who is struggling to come to grips with his controversial past. Upon waking up in a glade to meet the talking sword of Ahrah, our protagonist is quickly named Dust by the wise sword and it's impudent guardian Fidget. With no memory of anything and a legendary blade, what is one to do? Set out on an epic quest to save the world and defeat your former allies; certainly. Yes, the plot is undeniably cliched and it's been done a thousand times. However, the delivery is something remarkably unique. The voice actors are convincing, and the dialogue is just fantastic. From the subtle comments that break the fourth wall and the hilariously wacky characters will make you laugh. Reed and his precious box anyone?

Gameplay from Dust, summoning a projectile storm
This is one hell of a party trick. It's hella fun being able to summon a storm of bolts whenever you feel like it.

Dust plays like any old iconic platform game with a few twists. Think Mario, Sonic, Rayman. Typically you will be navigating levels from left to right, jumping across gaps and slinging together enemies with brutal sword and spell combinations. What separates Dust from the other games is the style of combat. Aside from being able to hack and slash your way through opponents with the sword of Ahrah, you can kick up a Dust Storm by spinning your weapon at incredible speeds. On top of that, your pet companion Fidget can shoot out various magical bolts that you can amplify by using it in tandem with Dust Storm. It's hard to describe, but you get a very satisfying feeling from performing a perfect barrage of sword and sorcery attacks.

Platforming gameplay from Dust an Elysion tail
Some parts of Dust require you to navigate troublesome terrain, but with your insane maneuverability it's quite easy.

The many other great features of Dust include an inventory and crafting system, which is basic at best, but gives you a nice degree of customization and the instinct to go out and find the materials you need. Killing enough baddies will level you up and grant you new abilities and attributes. It's possible to massively increase your experience intake by keeping your combo going for longer without taking any damage. There are also shops scattered throughout each zone but their only real use is to stock up health potions before going into a dangerous area. The RPG elements to Dust aren't very prevalent, but they are a nice touch that really adds flavor and addiction.

Cutscene in the indie hit game Dust
Since you can spin your sword fast enough to create a tornado, I don't really understand why he didn't put this out.

The art style is adorable, and it's nice to see such crisp 2D graphics in high resolution. The characters and the animations are lovingly designed, and the gameplay is a pleasure because of it. It's one thing when a platformer is well designed and smooth, but when the animations are awesome to watch it becomes something else entirely. Instead of just smashing all the bad guys and heading for the next area, every player gets the urge to look cool at the same time. Dust allows you to do just that, you can sail across the screen with a cascade of missiles to barrage you opponent, and with a little practice you can string together devastating combo attacks that make you feel like a champion.

Conjuring a Dust projectile storm on an Elysion Tail
Enemies attacking your caravan? Dust storm! People throwing trash on your lawn? Dust storm! Wife nagging you? Dust storm!

What impressed me was how this title is a solid performance all the way through. It reminded me of playing Crash Bandicoot and Rayman. But if I were to compare all of these games together, Dust would come out on top. Why? Because it brings back all the great features of platforming that generations grew up on, and blends them together with modern techniques and mechanics. For example, save points are plentiful so you don't have to spend an hour scourging the map just so you can take a break. Quests are managed in the log, so you don't have to sit there and think about what you're supposed to be doing. The story is surprisingly immersive, yet doesn't take itself seriously. At no point during my playthrough did Dust, Ahrah and Fidget get on my nerves. I had a lot of fun playing an Elysion Tail, and I value it above the majority of the money-grubbing trash I've bought in the last 5 years.

A story scene in the indie title Dust An Elysion Tail
Moonbloods are a race that are being exterminated by the General Gaius, the antagonist.

Ultimately, Dust: An Elysion Tail is THE best game I have played designed by one brilliant individual. The only pitfall I can honestly complain about is the distinct lack of difficulty. Even the bosses don't provide a shred of a challenge. Once you have the finesse to perform some of the lethal combos, the only time you will die is if you refuse to use any food to restore your health. Other than that, the last thing I can complain about is that it's too short. By no means is it short, you can probably get a good 20 hours out of the game if you go for 100%. Unfortunately, a third of the game had to be cut short due to a lack of time. If that third is released as DLC, god help me I'll buy it. Even though I hate DLC. I will pay cash money to play it.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Xbox One will kill the gaming industry

I am so furious right now, I'll keep it very short. Fact of the matter is, if you buy an Xbox One- you will be doing harm to the gaming industry. If enough people buy an Xbox One, gaming as a whole will change into a monster that only 10 year old kids and their redneck fathers will enjoy.

I am sick of being treated like a wallet instead of a player, and if the Xbox One becomes a success I'll probably end up going to prison for trying to assassinate each and every member of the development team.

Seriously, don't buy an Xbox One for games. If you want it for the multimedia functionality, okay. If you want it for gaming, you deserve to be put to death. You sicken me. How can you read about such an abomination and still intend on purchasing it?

Just do some research on the console, and if you like it, you are wrong in the head. I don't like making posts like this because it might cut out and discriminate my audience. But in this case, I am happy to be extreme. If you think the Xbox One is a good idea, get off my site right now. Get out of here and don't come back.

The damage this console will likely do to the gaming industry will not be fixable. Expect games at a higher price, without being able to sell them second hand. Expect them to be lower quality and fueled by DLC to leech all of your money. Personally, I'm going to start pirating every Microsoft product I can get my hands on. Fuck you Microsoft.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

So I just bought GTA IV

I know it's a little late, but I've been wanting to play Grand Theft Auto 4 since I heard the 5th game is in production. After playing it for 10 minutes I can tell this game is going to be fun. It's probably going to consume a lot of my time too. I don't expect it to be as good as San Andreas, but we'll see.

The graphics are pretty and retain that GTA tone we all know and love.

Grand Theft Auto IV seems pretty badly optimized for the PC, of course it's always been a console game but surely they could of put a little more effort into the computer edition. The mouse sensitivity on the menus is awful, and the graphics are good but limited for no reason. Aside from that, the engine seems great.

Driving a car seems a little clumsy, but I'm already adapting to it. In fact, everything seems pretty clumsy. The reason I never bough GTA 4 before was because I hated the idea of a Russian protagonist. Niko seems kind of ugly. However, his dialogue is fantastic. The story looks like it could be amazing, I'm looking forward to it.

Roman is your typical scumbag.

Anyway, I'm going to play some more Grand Theft Auto now, I just thought I'd share my first look at the game. Maybe it will remind you folks to do a second playthrough, because I'm assuming I am one of the last people on the planet to ever play it. I just hope Niko kills Roman at some point. Peace out ladies and gentlefellows.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Star Ocean: First Departure

Taking a franchise back to its roots is rarely a bad thing. The most recent Star Ocean games on the Playstation 2 and 3 were good, but they were more linear and lacked some of that charm gamers loved from the initial titles. You couldn't recruit a different party on your second playthrough. However, Star Ocean: First Departure brings back the love. It has adorable 2D graphics backed up by cutesy anime cutscenes; and all the other wonderful quirks that we've missed since Star Ocean made its debut on the Famicom.

The local defense force, Millie, Roddick, and Dorne.

Genre: Action, JRPG
Release Date: 27th December 2007
Platforms: PSP
Score: 7/10
Similar Titles: Grandia, Final Fantasy, Tales of Phantasia

Roddick, Millie, and Dorne are teenagers working as a local defense force for their small town, Kratus. They undertake tasks such as repelling bandits and rescuing cats from trees. When visiting the nearest village they discover a mysterious plague has begun spreading among the populace; turning everyone who comes into contact with it into stone. When no cure can be found to stop the illness, Roddick and company venture up the nearby mountain to find a rare herb as their last hope. What they don't realize, is that their journey will take them through time and space to reveal the truth because the virus and the history of their planet.

The combat is really fun.

If you weren't already aware, Star Ocean: First Departure is a replica of the original game on the Famicom. Many of the features have been enhanced to accommodate the modern era of gaming, the graphics and the engine have essentially been updated to Playstation quality. There are a few new characters and scenes, but it's mostly the same as the original. The lore from the Star Ocean universe is rich and filled with unique stories, and this game marks the beginning of it.

I really enjoyed playing First Departure, the combat is different from your typical JRPG. Instead of being turn based, you control your character on the field. Four team members can chosen for battle. You decide which party member to play as, and each character works a little differently. Symbology is the Star Ocean version of magic, which can be used for healing or damage. Not everybody can use magic, but every character learns a plethora of various skills as they level up. Skills can vary, such as a long range nuke, or an AoE knockback. 2 skills can be assigned at any one time, and the more frequently you use them the more powerful they become. I found fighting monsters and other enemies addictive, and intentionally sought out battles. However, the random battle mechanic doesn't kick in frequently; so if you want to progress through the game quickly it's entirely possible.

Roddick and company meet people from Earth.

As for the story, it covers many things. It starts out like your typical RPG, except the characters have tails. However, it quickly gets confusing and even a little overwhelming. Time and space travel, galactic wars, and even demon lords. For a very old game, it's actually original. My favorite part was being able to recruit different characters each time you play it through. On top of that, there's a relationship system in the game that changes the ending based on which allies you favor more. Another unique and very intriguing feature in Star Ocean: First Departure is the item system. Each shop has countless stuff to buy, and it can all be fused to create new weapons, or armor.

Roddick is the main character, and compared to everyone else he's a little boring. Personally, I thought the dialogue was a little lacking. But the plot itself is good. Every so often after you make a fair bit of progress you get to watch an anime cutscene, which looks good but feels like it's tacked on as an afterthought.

Out of all the games you can get on the PSP, First Departure is easily one of the best. You can easily sink 30+ hours into it, and enjoy every second. If you ever feel like revisiting the game, you can do it with a new party and experience a new ending. Star Ocean: The Second Story has also managed to port itself onto the portable as well. Certainly a title worth purchasing, especially since it's cheap.

Check out the top 5 PSP RPG titles here!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Single player JRPG recommendations- Wii titles

I really like playing consoles a year or two after they are released, so there's plenty of cheap games out for them. Usually consoles don't get the best games until they have been out for a couple of years. Half a year ago I went out and bought a dozen cheap games for the Nintendo Wii.

To be honest with you folks, I've always hated the Wii. The nunchucks and aiming at the screen seem like cheap gimmick to me. Novelties aside, I love a good RPG. Especially a Japanese one. If you are looking for a JRPG to play on the Wii, check out this list.

1- The Last Story

Yeah, I don't know why there's so much yellow and pink. Magic, obviously.

It wasn't that hard for me to decide on my favorite game on the Wii. The Last Story has an innovative combat system, loads of character customization and a lovely JRPG story. Not only that, the music score was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the same person who created the Final Fantasy scores. If you can find it, you should buy it. It should be quite cheap by now, so you have no excuses!

2- Xenoblade Chronicles

I was really excited to play Xenoblade when I bought it.

Xenoblade Chronicles is a strange one. It feels like an offline MMORPG. There isn't much story, but it's a solid game. The side quests are very simplistic and can get a little annoying, but they are optional. This game has a hell of a lot of content to get through, which is a huge plus. The graphics are a little less than expected, but Xenoblade is definitely a fun game that you can sink hours into.

3- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Radiant Dawn starts out pretty basic, but it gets complicated later on.

For those of you know about the Fire Emblem franchise, this one needs no explanation. It has a great blend of RPG and strategy mechanics, brought to you with a very addictive campaign. With lots of options between choosing weapons and magic, you can create your own unique army to complete the story. The graphics are horrible though, it's not very pretty. But the gameplay more than makes up for that.

4- Tales Of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Tales of Symphonia was amazing on the gamecube, it's still good on the Wii.

The Tales series has always been very hit or miss. In my personal opinion, Dawn of the New World is a miss. It's a good game, it has all the usual mechanics you would expect as a sequel to Tales of Symphonia. The story carries on from the predecessor, and the battle system combines ideas from both Abyss and Destiny. Despite that, I just can't get behind it because it's lacking something special that I just can't put my finger on. Despite this, it still deserves the number 4 spot.

5- Monster Hunter 3 Tri

Monster Hunter has surprisingly good graphics.

Monster Hunter on the Wii received phenomenal reviews and critical acclaim. Many people might even rate it at the top of list. With countless scary and gigantic monsters to hunt and so many weapons and builds to choose from, this game is really something. It's pretty difficult to get started, with the complicated controls and overwhelming mechanics. However, it's worth the money if you can make it past the first few hours.

I hope you find a game you enjoy from this list. If you have any suggestions or ideas for games I should add, leave a comment and let us know!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Game Dev Tycoon

So I've been a little on the fence about this one. A game about making a game, seems a little too close to inception for me. However, after hearing about the publicity stunt Greenheart games pulled on torrent users, I was intrigued. For those of you that don't know, there are fake torrents floating around that will stop you progressing in the game because too many people are torrenting the games you make. I thought it was funny, but I bet there's a few people out there who aren't very impressed.

For the last couple of days whenever I dropped into a group call with my friends, all I would hear is babble about game creation and development. Eventually I caved and bought Game Dev Tycoon. After playing it for 10 minutes and realizing that in reality 3 hours had passed, I knew I hadn't wasted my cash.

Gameplay from the title Game Dev Tycoon for PC and Tablet
Making Final Fantasy doesn't always produce amazing results.

Upon creating your company name and choosing an avatar, you are presented with your office. A garage. Succeeding in Game Dev Tycoon requires you to make as many successful games as you can in 30 years of gaming history. To create a game you need to choose the genre, topic, and platform. Then you need to decide on what aspects to focus on. For example, an RPG generally needs good dialogue and quests. Once you have finished your game it goes onto the market, where it accumulates sales and fans for your company.

It starts out pretty basic at first; make games, make money. But you will quickly become overwhelmed by the creation of new consoles and creating engines to accommodate your new mechanics. Then you have to manage your employees and train them to be useful. You can enter contracts with publishers to fund your games and publicity. The further you progress into the game the more you have to manage and watch out for, and if you make several bad games in a row it can cost you a huge amount of fans and money. Nothing is more depressing than sinking your $1 million budget into the perfect game only for it to get pathetic reviews.

The game creation page on Game Dev Tycoon
Choosing the best attributes to put your time into is important.

I've had a lot of fun playing this game so far, and every single one of my friends has bought it; which is not a common occurrence in our group. I've made several different companies and most of them have failed before the 15 year mark. In fact, the furthest I got was when I made EA games and ran my company like a bastard tyrant. Anyway, it's a lot of fun and you can put quite a bit of thought into how to market your games.

Game Dev Tycoon is one of those titles you would see as an app on Facebook. However, instead of using special coins purchased by micropayments to make you buy stuff in the game, they've opted for the far more sensible and affordable price of $8. It feels like a flash game you would find for free on Kongregate or Newgrounds. It's the ideal title for your tablet or laptop. Game Dev Tycoon doesn't have intensive graphics, just addictive company management and the fun that comes with making it as your own gaming company. Should you buy it? Yes.

Max Payne 3

Rockstar have always been known for creating iconic games. I haven't played a bad game developed by Rockstar yet. Max Payne is a franchise known by every veteran gamer. When the first title in the series was released in 2001, it was an instant classic and a step forward for TPS gaming. The slow motion bullet time effect and advanced graphics were an instant hit for the market. 11 years later, we have the third edition of Max Payne, bringing back the linear third person shooter we all love so much.

Opening scene from the game Max Payne 3
Max seems to find himself narrowly avoiding more than one Hollywood special effect.

Genre: Action, Third-Person Shooter
Release Date: 15th May 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 8/10
Similar Titles: Uncharted, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Top 5 PSP RPG titles

After owning a Playstation Portable for several months and buying dozens of games, I've finally decided on my top 5 favorite RPGs. Surprisingly, there's a huge market for roleplaying games on the PSP. I find countless new titles every time I go game shopping.

This list is by no means definitive, it is merely my favorite RPGs on the PSP. If you don't like it, just remember that. If you have any suggestions for games I should include, comment away! 

Top 5 PSP RPG titles:

1- Final Fantasy: Crisis Core

I don't like that Crisis Core is the best RPG on the PSP. Because it's a dying franchise, and it's really 'mainstream' to put a Final Fantasy at the top of the list. However, it's easily the best game on the PSP. The graphics are top notch, the combat is brilliant, and it's got hours of content. It is a healthy prequel to Final Fantasy 7, that anyone can enjoy. Even though I didn't want to put this at number 1, there's no doubt in my eyes that it deserves the spot.

2- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable

When I came across Persona 3 sitting lonely on a shelf, I bought it without a second thought. It was a brilliant game for the PSX, and it's even better on a handheld. It's got a great story, that can't be fully experienced in a single playthrough. The combat is challenging, demanding that you climb up over 200 floors of enemies in under a year. Persona 3 Portable is basically tied with Crisis Core for first place.

3- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

Birth By Sleep is the best handheld Kingdom Hearts game. It has addictive and layered combat, a brilliant plot, and 3 separate characters to play the story with. The only shortcoming this game has is that it's too short. That and the Disney part, which I'm okay with. Even if you know nothing about the Kingdom Hearts universe, this game is still worth playing.

4- Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

I hated this game at first. It was overly complicated, without much explanation. 5 hours later, I was balls deep in dungeons, recruiting new characters and perfecting them before I could toss them up to Valhalla. Although it has a patchy plot and is difficult to pick up, Valkyrie Profile is yet another game from the PSX that made a wonderful transition onto handheld.

5- Star Ocean: First Departure

I've always liked the Star Ocean games, they've been a solid RPG over the years with less appreciation than deserved in the west. First Departure brings some of that old school spice onto the PSP. The combat is a little basic, but the story and the characters are amazing. You can't recruit every character in one playthrough, and there's loads of side content to complete. I really loved grinding on this one.

If you're looking for PSP games, this list might help you. The PSP almost has more RPG titles than I can buy, but I will keep on purchasing the ones that I can. Feel free to comment if you have an opinion on your favorite PSP games!

Game of Thrones

I bet there's quite a few of you out there who didn't even know the Game of Thrones (GoT) RPG existed. Well, it does. Unfortunately, by gaming standards it doesn't hold a candle to other titanic and better developed RPGs. Fortunately, it's GoT. When a game has inherently bad mechanics but an untapped well of lore from one of the greatest book franchises in existence, it's really difficult to see how it will all turn out in the end.

Mors and his fellow watchmen at the wall.

Genre: Action, RPG
Release Date: 15th May 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 4/10
Similar Titles: Star Wars: KotoR, Neverwinter Nights, Risen