Man on the Moon

I’ll see you on the dark side of the Moon.

Killer is Dead is a delightful hack and slash title featuring exhilarating combat, a unique creative direction (which reminds me of 80s/90s anime and manga), more dashing and (button) mashing than you can shake a reasonably sized katana at, and a story which makes less and less sense the more you learn about it. Until the very end. Then it becomes fairly clear as to where the story has been leading you with these character introductions, prompts, nightmares, and so on.

You’ll take up the mantle of an expert swordsman Mondo. Gifted with exceptional combat prowess, Gekkou (an ancient and powerful sword that feeds on Blood), the mysterious left arm Musselback, and the ability to gain strength from defeated foes. Each of these elements are later fully unlockable and upgradable via the character development system.

There’s also a really weird set of romantic side missions which unlock new weapons.

Or, more accurately, new modifications for the left arm Musselback. There are also costumes which Mondo can unlock along with modifications for the Musselback, but these are mostly received post-story completion and are quite pricey. However, the price is more than matched with the power of their upgrades. For instance, the Dark Booster modification allows you to use an unlimited amount of Blood. You’ll never run out. While the Ulti-Mondo costume unlocks a heightened, more deadly, more robust combat style. There are a lot of upgradable options to further Mondo’s abilities in certain ways by collecting a near-endless stream of Moon Crystals.

One thing I’ve been really impressed with is how fluid, enjoyable, and intense the combat feels. Initially you’ll only have to fight a few enemies at a time, but, as you unlock later Episodes and more side missions, the stakes get raised fairly high. However, the ability to dodge attacks within a fraction of a second and follow up with devastating counter attacks is always a pleasant experience. It’s one of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed this particular title- the combat never feels slow, stodgy, or laborious.

Another thing that I’ve been really impressed with is how easy it is to change from Episodes, to side missions, to romantic side missions, and even difficulty settings. If you decide on one difficulty but it’s too hard/too easy you can easily switch it up or down. You can continue the story or divert course. You can even farm Moon Crystals and Health/Blood upgrades if you want.

It’s refreshing to be so in control of how, where, and when you progress.

There are, as always, a few words of caution. I’ve not played this title without a controller and so I can’t say nor recommend the PC control system (as I’ve never used it). There are also a few times where I felt that some kind of minimap or area map would have been useful. The former is only a concern if you don’t have a controller, the latter is more a minor (personal) criticism. That said, I wouldn’t say it isn’t worth the money (even at full price)- as I got this in a Steam sale for an absolute steal at £2.99- and I’d gladly have paid the full amount. It’s an awful lot of fun if you enjoy a unique visual style, a quirky story, fluid combat, and some really interesting boss battles.

Needless to say I highly recommend this one!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Sacred 2

These caves are treacherous! You could be looking for the quest marker for hours in here…

Not that I went the complete wrong way for an hour, cleared the rest of the cave, and then realised the objective was behind where I was standing. Never. That said, I feel the map(s) could stand to be a little clearer at times. Or that the game could explain certain features (like holding Tab to open a full area map) better to help you get through those confusing, embarrassing, silly times.

Sacred 2 inherits much from the original Sacred. It’s an open world fantasy ARPG with surprisingly deep and varied character development, featuring several different classes, and two distinct story choices (to either be good or evil). Many of the mechanics return with a little more polish alongside a full 3D presentation. Voice acting remains (for each of the classes, some of the quest NPCs, and general commentary) and helps to flesh out the world of Ancaria. The Gold Edition also features two expansion packs which bring all sorts of extra goodies along for the ride (like the carrier imp, a new character class, new regions, and more).

Overall it’s a pretty solid title that will likely net you several hours of enjoyment if you like ARPGs.

One of the most intriguing developments for me is how the character classes vary. I took the atypical fighter in the Shadow Warrior (following the evil story) the first time I played and after I finished the main campaign (on bronze) I explored the other choices. I was curious to see what they would do differently and it’s quite extensive.

I don't think he/she's very happy with me...

I don’t think he/she’s very happy with me…

For instance, the Skills you learn vary from class to class. I wasn’t really expecting to start with a Dragon Mage and see options the Shadow Warrior hadn’t been able to select, yet, likewise for the Dragon Mage, there were things the Shadow Warrior had that he didn’t. It’s a small change (and somewhat expected) but it’s nice to see that there are unique benefits for each of the classes. Many of the standard choices like Armor Lore, Shield Lore, Constitution, Toughness, and so on are present for all of the classes (as far as I’m aware).

The Attributes don’t vary between classes, however.

These are the pretty standard self-explanatory choices that you’ll find in nearly every other RPG. Yet, combined with the Skills, and the Combat Arts (covered below), you have the opportunity to create vastly different builds. The character classes do have specific roles, however. Or sets of roles. Like the Seraphim can fight in close quarters or at range depending on how you build her.

Combat Arts are your magical or physical attacks (also your buffs) and they follow suit from Sacred to be almost exactly the same. You find runes, use them, level up the skills, but face increasing cooldowns/penalties every time you do. In Sacred 2 after investing a number of points in certain Skills you can also upgrade Combat Arts to make them more powerful. Adding area damage, life stealing, armour penetration, and other benefits. These are specific to the Combat Arts and so each have six choices of which you can choose three before the Combat Art is mastered.

There are a whole heap of quests and locations to explore, too. This is something that’s quite difficult to summarise as there are so many things to talk about, but, for me, the above is what really stands out and makes Sacred 2 great. That flexibility, character depth, choice, and the chance to replay the story again on increasing difficulty levels.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Fairy Fencer F

Welcome to the world’s first herding fairies into a fenced location simulator!

Fairy Fencer F is an enjoyable, sometimes hilarious, other times poignant, JRPG adventure like those of my childhood. Travelling across a vast world, with a diverse cast of characters, and a fair number of Furies to find and unlock- there’s a lot to do. Each character comes with their own unique Fairy with which they can Fairize allowing them to access combat bonuses. Whether the bonuses are specific are generic is something I was never quite able to figure out, but, even if generic, they provide a massive boost to protection which is always nice.

To explain more about the specifics of the Fairies and the Furies is hard without spoiling the story a little.

However, there are plenty of other things to discuss! Like the characters who, while they lack classes, are actually quite diverse in their role(s) in combat. One thing I feel this title delivers by the bucketload is customisation and this is mostly, if not entirely, illustrated by the character options, within which you can build a particular character around what you want them to do. While there are two healer type choices (Tiara and Galdo) there’s no obligation to take a healer. Or even use them as a healer. Galdo has some great skills to make him a sort of thief with magical capabilities. While Tiara fills the role of offensive mage with almost staggering power.

Visually stunning with crisp, clear, vibrant colours.

Visually stunning with crisp, clear, vibrant colours.

Godly Revival allows you to take this one step further by combining your chosen Fury with an extra ability. Some are really amazing and can be used pretty much throughout the entire game (like post-battle healing), some are great to compliment a character’s existing skills, and others change the dungeons you’ll explore later down the line. Offering both bonuses and drawbacks.

All of the above comes together over the course of the main story to create interesting and different characters depending on what you want from them. I built Fang around a purely physical build and rarely used his magical attacks, while Tiara was the opposite, and Galdo fell somewhere between the two. It’s quite refreshing to be able to customise characters to this degree in a JRPG. The only negative I take from this is that, when it comes to new characters, they start with a low amount of WP. (WP is the means by which you upgrade character abilities.)

This means that characters you’ve had for much longer have much more capability than new ones. So you might need to take a gamble on a new one when you get them.

The story is actually a little more complex than you would first give it credit for. There’s also a New Game+ option once you’ve finished the story which may be required(?) for some of the late-game achievements and unlocks. For instance, I wasn’t able to find an S-Class Fury from any of the available quests. Though, I could have missed something. Also, to fully unlock a character’s combat capabilities will likely require New Game+ unless you want to do a lot of levelling on your first run. So there’s definitely a lot of content tackle if you enjoy that sort of thing!

To say I was impressed with this title would be somewhat of an understatement. It was a lot of fun, it made me laugh often, and there was a lot to do while it never felt particularly forced. I almost went straight into New Game+ after finishing it the first time as I didn’t want it to be over just yet.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Dragonball XenoVerse

Not even the mighty Dr. Gero could create something as amazing as this!

Dragonball XenoVerse puts you in the place of a Time Patroller on a mission to correct the timeline from the Dragonball series. While this may sound confusing to begin with it’s actually a pretty cool concept that involves alternate timelines, fighting the classic battles, facing the classic enemies, and doing all sorts of neat things with your character.

It’s not a fighting game, however. Not purely. It also features RPG elements such as distributing attribute points, finding/buying new equipment, having your own custom character, and choosing your skill set from a wide range of skills in the Dragonball universe. It features a really enjoyable combat system which (in my opinion) never gets old or feels stale. It’s quite amazing how I enjoy the combat now just as much- if not more- than when I first started playing. This title also features incredible graphical presentation which fits the universe perfectly.

Character creation consists of choosing the race of your character and deciding on their features. Until you clear the final Saga in the Time Nest (not including the secret Saga) you won’t be able to make any other characters, but, once you’ve finished the story, you can have up to eight. The different races are fun and all the staple choices are there- Namekians, Saiyans, Humans, Frieza Clansman, and so on. Each one has specific bonuses or better statistics in a particular area. Saiyans, as you would expect, have access to the Super Saiyan transformation (up to level two). Everyone else gets the Kaioken (up to x20).

The Super Saiyan transformation is by far the most useful, or the most overpowered, depending on how you see it, as it allows you to use Ki skills without any regard to cost. It does drain your Ki slowly as you use it- but it doesn’t stop you from firing a dozen Ultimate attacks in the process. You can either unlock or buy any of the transformation skills in Toki Toki City.

Toki Toki City is your base of operations and where you’ll be going between quests. You’ll find all manner of shops there to supply you with equipment, accessories, items, skills, and other goodies. You’ll also find a number of masters to train under who will teach you new techniques, unlock master specific bonuses, and provide master specific items. The Time Nest is also located here along with the Time Vault- both of which are useful in your timeline correcting activities. You can also level up while in town, change your skill set, change your equipment, and generally develop your character. Over time new things are unlocked in town, too. So always be sure to check back and see if anyone is selling anything new.

The core activities you’ll undertake are either completing the various Sagas in the Time Nest or participating in the many varied Parallel Quests. Both are fairly similar in their approach but they have different objectives, different conditions, and different rewards. Most Saga completions in the Time Nest will just award Zeni and experience. Parallel Quests reward a range of goodies including skills, items, transformations, and more along with the usual Zeni and experience.

There is a lot of content available in the base game along with DLC which (at the moment) expands into Dragonball GT. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience if you consider yourself a fan of the Dragonball universe that is only slightly marred by the randomisation, which makes unlocking everything quite a task, but doesn’t detract from the experience (in my opinion).

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Endless Space

You are now contractually obligated to populate the stars (efficiently)!

While the meat of the game is that of taking colony and scout ships across the galaxy looking for new star systems, new colonisation opportunities, or generally just to see what’s out there in hopes of finding the other player(s) there are several paths to victory to consider. You can win the game in a variety of ways including: a point victory, conquest via military power, achieving scientific excellence, diplomatic freedom, economic boon, and so on. These are things that you must always keep in the back of your mind as you can have as many as seven players with you. Either real players or AI controlled players (who thirst for blood).

Why is this so important? Well, the AI (and hopefully other players) will also be looking to achieve a victory of some kind.

There are so many things happening on this screen it's ridiculous.

There are so many things happening on this screen it’s ridiculous.

While it can be very relaxing to listen to ambient soundtrack and casually build your fleets of death, or research new technologies, you are on the clock as it were. There is little time to waste and with that comes the somewhat gruelling challenge and/or difficulty level to playing this kind of game for the first time. So, don’t feel too bad if you’re first shot goes awfully awry.

The bulk of your time will be spent colonising new worlds which is a two step process. The first is having a scout ship find the star system and the second is having a colony ship land, populate, and get the ball rolling. There are many different resources available in the game and some planets have better gains than others. There are also rare materials which can appear on planets (I do believe at random), as well as natural and unnatural anomalies which make some planets highly profitable or not so, and you have to think about the happiness of the population on each of your planets. Not every planet type is initially available at the beginning of a game so you’ll need to unlock some things through research to get that going on.

The four core resources are Food, Industry, Dust, and Science (FIDS for short). Food and Industry are star system wide while Science and Dust are empire wide.

What this means is that if a planet is producing a lot of Food (for population growth) or Industry (for building time reduction) it only affects that star system. While if a planet is producing good Dust (global currency) or Science (for research time reduction) it goes into the entire pool for the empire. So, rule of thumb, don’t produce more Food and Industry than you need and produce as much Dust and Science as you can. It takes a bit of time to get the hang of it but once you do you’ll be fine.

If you’re a fan of combat, as you really should be, as you never know what the other players will be doing, you can also spend some time outfitting ships with neat things.

Initially the number of ships you can have in a fleet, the variety of upgrades, and so on is all fairly small. But through research you can have many more ships and much more powerful upgrades as the game progresses. Therefore, regardless of strategy, research and use of Science is crucial. While all of your ships will have a Dust upkeep cost so that’s just as important. There is an awful lot to do with the fleets as well (such as assigning heroes) so that is a pretty big, encompassing, and viable strategy if you so wish.

Speaking of, heroes are individuals you can hire at different times in the game. I do believe that through military research you can get more in a shorter space of time. However, they’re not just for combat- they can be assigned to star systems as well. When covering a star system they have different benefits for you to invest in to those available when leading a fleet.

As you can probably tell the game is huge and has an incredible number of things to do. So, unfortunately, I can’t cover that all here- but I do recommend it. Highly.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

How to Survive

The secret is in the title. Survive you must and survive you probably will. Or not.

While not having much of an idea of what to expect (except zombies, foraging, and crafting) when coming into this title I have been pleasantly surprised several times. One thing that, while it seems simple, and could very well be a staple of other open world survival crafting games, is that you can disassemble your items after assembling them. So, for instance, when I started to craft improvised firearms I decided to disassemble my wooden bow. It’s now a fishing rod!

Naturally, where resources are scarce, you’re always afraid you’re wasting them on something now that is useless later.

"And Hell followed with him."

“And Hell followed with him.”

In this case it’s very easy to use resources to build neat things, disassemble them, and build even neater things from the same resources. Unless, of course, these resources are finite like health poultices or the like which are unable to be disassembled once built. Then again, what kind of crazy person would take apart a healing item to make a Molotov Cocktail? (This crazy person.)

One of the other neat things I was frequently reminded of is how scary the night really is. There are more powerful zombie variants which come out at night that are… actually pretty intelligent. They hate flashlights and probably any form of light for that matter- but they will flank you. They will retreat from the front, come around the side, or simply attack you from the back whenever they feel like it. I do know that day and night cycles are usually a big part of the whole survival mechanic but I really enjoyed the way How to Survive does it. You do get the feeling that these enemies are more dangerous and intelligent than the average zombie.

However, this does lead me to one of the minor complaints I had about the title which is the inability to sleep when you want to. Or, rather, to skip night if you want to. While it doesn’t need to be a feature- and I certainly see why it wouldn’t be- the dangerousness of night is dampened somewhat when you can’t see anything at all (light or no) in some night scenarios.

One particular island has a lot of greyish fog which pretty much blocks out the entire screen.

When night first fell I was near a place where I could sleep/rest, too. So it would’ve been great to actually sleep away that nearly impossible to navigate night scenario. Again, I get the idea, and the whole darkness is bad concept, but in this circumstance I found it near impossible to actually see much of anything. Also, from the point of view of survival statistics, you can eat or drink whenever you wish to. But you can’t sleep whenever you wish to. Which means, even if you’re low on sleep, but you don’t hit the threshold to allow sleep, you will basically go out exhausted and weak.

That said, these are minor issues in a title which tries really hard to make itself recognisable. The lack of glaringly obvious markers for resources in the wild mean you get into the habit of actually spotting them, rather than glossing over the map, and the way you can craft even if you don’t know the recipe per se is certainly great when rummaging around in your inventory making space.

While not likely the longest, nor most complicated, title of this genre on the market- it’s one that does ensure a lot of enjoyment from start to finish!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Titan Quest: Immortal Throne

Love ancient mythology? Love travelling the world? You do? Awesome!

Titan Quest is a game I could rave about for hours. Hours and hours, posts and posts, on and on. It’s a title that I feel pushed the envelope with many of the mechanics ARPGs typically had and blew other ARPGs out of the water because of it. There’s so much to enjoy here- the quests, the story, the classes, the class combinations, the skills, the equipment, the locations, the scenery, the graphics, and just about everything else that you’ll encounter along the way. Even the fights! Those are great, too.

First and foremost (and arguably most fun) is the class system.

You could say I have a frosty disposition.

You could say I have a frosty disposition.

Instead of picking a singular class at creation you start classless and when you level up for the first time you make the move to whatever discipline(s) interest you. At first you are only able to unlock a singular class, yet later you can combine it with another class, or remain singular for more specialisation. While this may not seem too exciting the skill system also has a lot to boast about. Namely, a rarity for ARPGs, and perhaps RPGs in general, the lack of replaceable skills. When you take a particular skill you won’t be replacing it with a more powerful clone later- instead several passives unlock to empower that skill to make it even more awesome.

If you should happen to make any mistakes in the classes you choose there is a respec option available as soon as you reach the first major town, which at a gold cost can erase those mistakes. You can’t, however, undo mastery choices, so if you pick Warfare/Nature you’re stuck with it. All choices within either are reversible, though.

Questing and combat are the two core parts of the title and you’ll spend most of your time doing either.

Rarely for ARPGs there are a range of side quests available (but these are not randomised like the quest system in the first Diablo), there are a number of main quests, and the story flows with an almost open world feel. You’ll find many additional optional dungeons and locations to explore, too. This is one of those titles where you’ll find yourself investing easily over 20 hours if you take the time to soak up the content. Given that, like many ARPGs before it, this is repeatable on higher difficulty settings- that’s a lot of time in total.

Immortal Throne does add some notable improvements, too. Including Act IV, the Dream mastery, new items to craft, and many improvements to the base game as a whole. However, if you are a purist, and happen to have bought Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, you’ll more than likely get the two as separate games. So you can play Titan Quest classic should you wish to.

While I would like to talk about the many other wonderful things that you can do, that you will see, and that you probably will experience- I just haven’t the space in one post. It’s an absolutely huge game that has a lot of content and can be replayed several times. It is also an older game so it’s usually really cheap on Steam, GOG, Humble Store, and so on even when not on sale. Moreso when it is on sale. If consider yourself a fan of ARPGs but have yet to play it- give it a go! If you’re looking at Grim Dawn- give this a go. (As the engine that powers Grim Dawn is a modified and updated version of the Titan Quest engine.)

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie