Full Mojo Rampage

Who do you voodoo? Oh, wait- wrong game. Disregard.

Full Mojo Rampage is a delightfully dark and comical adventure where you are a powerful voodoo spirit who can summon amazingly useful Loas, wear fashionable pins into battle, and develop your character in a number of ways. They say it’s Rogue-like but I tend to think it leans on the side of Rogue-lite as, despite quest progress, almost everything else is saved upon your eventual (and continual) death. They also say it’s like Binding of Isaac but I’ve never played that.

First and foremost the game features a steep learning curve where you will more than likely die a couple of times before you get the hang of it. However, in many respects, as you can empower your character upon death, you are actually doing yourself a favour. That and farming old quests is something you’ll likely be doing a lot of so this is helpful nudge.

An indicative example of what the game entails.

An indicative example of what the game entails.

Outfitting your newly resurrected previously deceased summoner is a combination of various things.

Pins are the most varied of the options and will range from the simple statistical upgrades to extra inventory slots, extra equipment slots, damage reduction, extra gold, and such. Next you have your mask which doesn’t add any statistical benefit (or at least none of mine do) but it makes you look the part. Then you have your Loa which defines the key abilities that you’ll have for this particular quest. These are quite varied from protective charms, to healing spells, to extra speed, to being able to set the ground aflame. You start with only one choice but over the course of your journey you can unlock more.

The choice of your Loa is actually one of the highlights of this title as you wouldn’t believe two active skills and one passive skill could change so much- but it does. You can easily notice the benefits of having the extra healing potential of one but in some cases you want that extra punch of another. Better yet, as you’re limited to one per quest, you have to think ahead as best you can.

Each quest is randomised each time you play. This means you may get a shrine or two in this one or an event in another or maybe you’ll see some swamps in place of the lava pits you saw before. Unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) this actually adds an element of excitement to the title. You can’t play it safe and take the ones you know work for these areas- as you don’t know what the areas are- so it’s down to your ability to maximise the potential of the chosen combination. After completing each quest you can unlock a tougher version of it.

While on your quest you will also find many usable items and pieces of equipment. The usable items can be anything from healing potions, to reusable attacks, to one time buffs, and so on. The equipment increases one to a number of your core statistics temporarily making you faster, fire quicker, more damaging, or more durable.

The randomisation, combined with the questing system, and the variety of equipment, means you can very easily get a lot of hours out of this game.

While all of the above sounds impressive- this is barely scratching the surface. There’s the great music, the colourful visuals, the quirky events, the comical text, and so much more to discover along the way. You really can’t sum this game up as it’s huge! Definitely worth the money if you’re looking for something a little different to play.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Advertisements

Legend of Grimrock II

You wash up on a beach, locked in a cage, surrounded by three friends, and with nowt more than a stick to hand.

You guessed it! It’s time for another journey through the magical universe in which the Legend of Grimrock series is set. I have to say that of all the sequels I have played there are few who hit the nail more squarely on the head than the team behind this series. It’s a beautifully engaging story set in a massive world with several dungeons, many secrets, an open world experience, and best of all much more character customisation. There is a lot to do and you’re going to need all the food you can get to not starve until the deed is done.

You start with a choice of five different races, eight different classes, new traits, and a completely revitalised skill system. Now the classes are more the base guidelines for how the characters play. Such as the Knight gaining double the evasion bonus from shields. Or the Barbarian having no actual unique traits save for gaining one point of Strength every level.

There are so many beautifully rendered environments everywhere you go.

There are so many beautifully rendered environments everywhere you go.

This allows you to pick a range of classes and not have to worry that you’re going to miss out on a particular skill, or attribute, or style of play, as they are pretty flexible in their approach. Of course if you are planning to use shields then a Knight is a good choice, or if you’re planning to dual wield then a Rogue is a good choice, or if you fancy dual wielding and using several different weapons the Fighter comes in as the jack of all trades. This also means you don’t need a Wizard or Battle Mage to cast magic (but they are the only two who can cast with their bare hands).

The skill system is also concentrated as there is only one point gained per level, but each skill caps at five points, while with a few points of investment most skills gain a unique bonus.

There is a whole host of different locations to visit, different enemies to face, new puzzles to solve, tonnes of new items to find, a whole revisited alchemy system, and many more spells despite less points being required to unlock them. Along with this, a new addition, firearms, which as the name suggests is any kind of musket or cannon. There’s a lot to keep you busy and more than enough to keep you entertained. Also included are actual boss fights where you face tougher enemies with unique mechanics or attacks.

All of this makes for a satisfying RPG experience that is both tough and unforgiving but enjoyable enough that you press on regardless.

One of the things I would like to highlight is that this is definitely a role playing experience. This isn’t a watered down case of making choices that don’t really matter or affect anything- your team and everyone in it is important to your progress. There are some hints that you won’t find until later in the game which uncover things earlier in the game, or some locations that simply cannot be opened until you uncover their secrets, and the like. But who you take, the decisions you make, and how you explore will be different every time you play.

Making good use of the map, making notes, adding markers, and being generally vigilant in everything you do is the key to success. A sorely missed quality in most modern games which are pretty much the same no matter how you play them or how many times you play them.

Have a great week, all!

Moggie

Shadowrun Returns

There’s blood on someone’s hands and it better not be yours. (Otherwise this murder case is going to be solved awful quickly.)

Welcome to the near future where a number of usually-confined-to-fantasy races have come back into the world, magic is everywhere, technology is amazingly advanced, and everything is up a certain creek without a paddle.

This title boasts a number of interesting systems, a host of colourful characters, nostalgic yet beautiful graphics, and an interesting story which starts off fairly slowly but builds into a satisfying conclusion. Besides this there are a number of side quests you can undertake between the main story missions, which, though limited in number, are quite interesting for a bit of extra content. Rather surprisingly for an RPG there are no experience points, no levels, and no actual character restraints (besides item related statistical requirements)- just Karma. It, as it is gained, can be used to improve certain aspects of your build.

There's a cry of human suffering blowing like a gale in these streets.

There’s a cry of human suffering blowing like a gale in these streets.

While this is an engaging way to build a character it can be fairly overwhelming at the start as you don’t really know how often you get Karma, what sort of things you’ll need for the journey ahead, whether certain weapon styles have more or less restrictions, and a whole host of other things. My advice is to pick the class you most like the sound of and tweak it a bit. You’ll do okay for your first run and learn some things in the process!

While the game employs a number of team members to join you on your missions, some often repeated from other missions, there is no party management or the like involved. Their services can be purchased for the duration of the mission or they might come free if they have a stake in the outcome. Which, for me, is one of the areas where I feel the game falls a bit flat as it would be nice to be able to build up and select your own personal (and favourite) team.

They also upgrade their own equipment as you progress through the story missions. Which means you won’t need to spend your cash on them as they can’t use the equipment you buy, but, they can use healing items, so you should always keep some spare for the team.

It also means that even if you don’t have Decking you’ll meet someone who does in the course of the story so you’ll be able to dive into, play around with, and enjoy the little “alternate reality” that they have access to when hacking a computer terminal. Which is a pretty neat feature in all honesty.

In a lot of ways this title does open up some very interesting and unique mechanics and I agree that it’s one of the better ones I’ve played- but it builds up a nice rhythm only to end rather abruptly. Just when everything really starts to open up and you’re given nearly free reign of the characters, the story, the combat, and your progression it all ends and the credits are rolling before you can hit F5 one last time. That said, if you can get it quite cheaply, or you fancy playing it through a couple of times, it’s a worthwhile investment for anyone who enjoys RPGs.

Not to mention there’s a whole host of community made content out there expanding the game a little more with each passing day.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie.

Legend of Grimrock

It’s so dark, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m cold, and… is that floor bread I see over there?!

That’s a pretty accurate representation of what it’s like to play Legend of Grimrock. This title is one that I feel many kinds of RPG gamers will enjoy as it features a range of interesting elements like puzzle solving, combat, exploration, survival, and a four person party in a rather different fashion than usual.

The first step in this adventure is all about selecting the four people who will make up your party of which you have a choice of the Fighter, the Rogue, and the Mage. You also need to select which two will be in the front row (the two who take damage from most of the fights) and who is in the back row (mostly casters or ranged attackers) which is a key part of your survival. Each class does have a capacity to be in either row, as a Rogue can fight on the front row, while a Mage could also fight on the front row, but close range weapons don’t work from the back row (like swords and axes) so any close range characters are best suited at the front. There is a spear you can get that attacks from the back but it’s effectively useless in later levels.

All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.

All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.

Once done you will be plunged into the unforgiving depths of the mountain you now call home.

For those new to RPGs or the casual gamers out there I would suggest going slow through the initial levels as there are literally secrets everywhere. There is a lot to find, there is a lot to do, and there is a lot of things hidden in plain sight that you’ll miss being centred on an objective or puzzle so explore and explore some more. You’re going to need all the help you can get.

One of the refreshing aspects of this title (if not more than a little punishing) is that there is content to be explored and puzzles to be solved and if you don’t your progress could quite easily be driven to a halt. There are hints and tips for most puzzles in the game in one form or another, though. That said most of the harder puzzles are for optional loot and some are not necessarily required to progress at all. Tied to this is how the game tracks how hungry each character is, which, while they won’t die if they’re completely starved, they also don’t regenerate health or energy and their attack power is halved. So food and inventory management is a must.

All of this creates an experience where you are going to need to think about what you’re doing and try to solve puzzles or combat encounters efficiently. It’s not a case that you need hundreds of hours of experience to finish the game but it asks that you think about what you’re doing, and that you explore, or at least look around, to get the best experience. You can very easily skip over many of the secrets and unique items to get to the end much quicker but you will have a much harder time for it.

I would also like to add that despite the claims of the game being quite short (it can be if you rush past everything as can most things) I have over 50 hours in it at the moment and I still have achievements to get. I was pleasantly surprised by this title as I wasn’t expecting much from it but it was a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Have a nice week all!

Moggie.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Ever wanted to be a Jedi?

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a RPG of old that features an engaging story, a myriad of character development options, a heaping helping of things to do, and the opportunity to travel the galaxy with your own band of rogues. The mechanics are based on Wizards of the Coast’s Star Wars Roleplaying Game, which is a d20 system derived from the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. That said, if you don’t understand any of that, or you’ve never played those rules before, you are still able to fully enjoy this title as you can pick up the concepts quite easily.

Before you earn your lightsaber you’re going to need to create your character. You can choose from the Scout, the Scoundrel, or the Soldier and each will provide different combat and exploration bonuses. These are fairly general classes, though. So it’s a good idea to go through the different options, weigh up the benefits, and decide how you’d like to progress from there.

I’m usually be one for rolling a Soldier, but the Scout had some pretty impressive utility which swayed my decision.

You’re going to earn some companions along the way, too. So, don’t worry- you’re not alone. Some of these bring fairly unique abilities or weapons to your party, while others will allow you to access abilities a little earlier than your character would normally learn them. Their equipment and yours will be scattered all across the various locations you visit, while some of it is customisable and can be upgraded. Most commonly you’ll be able to upgrade your lightsaber components but other weapons can also be upgraded. There are some really cool companion choices as well, like, for instance, the Wookie, who is a beast (no pun intended) in close combat.

Go to Tatooine they said. Sand People are friendly they said.

Go to Tatooine they said. Sand People are friendly they said.

Alongside the other customisation options there are also a number of special attacks that you can learn. Or, if you’re a Jedi, a selection of Force Powers. These range from fairly mundane overcharged blaster shots, to the ability to heal allies or injure enemies via the use of your Force Points. Using these abilities will significantly improve your chances of being successful in combat, too. As many of the enemies you’ll face will employ fairly similar- if not the same- abilities.

For this reason bosses can be quite tough as they have some really powerful abilities at their disposal.

Questing combines area specific objectives (where you’re either given or you find multiple quests in a single area) and exploring the galaxy for new planets (and the quests found therein). That said, most areas are quite small and so you’re aren’t expected to run back and forth over vast stretches endlessly. Exploration is advised as well, as there are many hidden locations where you can find either exceptionally powerful items or (at the very least) a few thousand credits. This is a title set firmly in older design principles, though. So if you forget where you’re going, what you’re looking for, or how to get there you’ll need to refer to the quest log. Quest markers not included!

It’s a fairly large adventure, too. You can easily sink several hours into exploring additional areas, talking to companions, and upgrading your equipment per quest run. It’s a rare blast of nostalgia in a familiar universe that many have come to know and love, which, despite being an older title, gives you a surprisingly expansive universe to explore.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Sacred

There’s a lot of monsters out there and someone’s got to slay them… why are you looking at me? Oh, all right then.

This is a title that you could say I’ve come to revisit in 2014, as I’d already played it many years ago when I had the boxed copy- but it was on sale on Steam and it had all these shiny new things (that I didn’t actually end up using) so I bought it again. For all of £1.49 so I wasn’t too concerned. However, the two extra classes look interesting and it plays for a good amount of time so one can hardly complain about having the shiny new version. Plus, I suppose it’s been patched and is fully up to date which my boxed copy wouldn’t be and then I’d have to find and download patches for it and such.

Just like the good old days of gaming. Where the first ten hours of gameplay was tracking down, installing, tweaking, and swearing at patches. When you didn’t have automatic updates for video drivers and spent hours carefully treading the official site to understand what you needed. Then hoping that the installation didn’t absolutely destroy your machine with a blue screen of death. Ah, sweet nostalgia!

…Those days sure were scary. Steam removes a lot of this and the NVIDIA update tool removes the rest of it.

So, what is Sacred? It’s an ARPG that comes in somewhere between Diablo and Diablo II in terms of functionality. You’ve got some advancements like being able to hold a button to continually perform an attack or the multiple slots to allow you to use one of several skills, but, rather oddly, you don’t have stackable items like potions or skill items. Yet you don’t need identify scrolls as everything you find is already identified. However, you also don’t have town portal scrolls but you do have horses. So there’s a lot of different ideas thrown in there and some of them are quite interesting (like horses) while others are standard fare.

I have many weapons- one for each of you.

I have many weapons- one for each of you.

There are five base classes and seven with the two extra in the Gold version. Each one comes in with a different flavour, story, starting location, voice actor, and lots of interesting skills to choose from and develop over the course of the game. Unlike other games in this genre your Combat Skills are acquired as items that drop. It can make the growth system a little random at times as you can’t focus fire all your points into one skill, but, at the same time, it also means you’re going to find/use a lot more skills. Like I would never have actually put points into the Gladiator’s Dagger Stare but it was actually kind of useful early in the game when you had a couple of free points.

Skills (not to be confused with Combat Skills as described above) come in the form of various aspects you can build up as you level up. They’re things like Concentration (that allows you to regenerate physical Combat Skills quicker) or Agility (which improves your offensive and defensive combat abilities) which allow you to patch up any holes in your build by improving the weak points.

I noticed early on that the Gladiator wasn’t hurting for any kind of damage and could reliably take down whole groups or singular enemies. So I decided to devote a lot of my Skills to things that improved his defence, his combat ability, his ability to resist magic, and so on. This way he was well rounded against many of the different threats in the world.

Speaking of threats (and there are many) they are varied and interesting challenges. You’re going to face a range of enemies that are going to do all manner of clever things, that are going to hurt you in so many ways, and that you are going to need to approach carefully to survive. There are few enemies that attempt to kill you through pure brute force and there are even less that just stand there and get pummelled endlessly. Much to the annoyance of any and every melee character. It’s a refreshing change to the usual “it’s end game so everything can kill you quite easily.” This is more a case that things can if you don’t pay too much attention to them.

Finally, the greatest, and most varied, aspect of this game is the massive world in which you play in. There are an amazing number of locations and so many different environments while having an open world feel allows you the ability to explore or not. If you want to go from quest to quest- feel free. If you want to explore- feel free. It’s all there if you want to take advantage of it and you’ll be surprised at how big the actual world is. There’s so much to see, do, find, kill, explore, discover, and generally observe that the world never feels dull or lifeless. Countless smaller towns and outposts litter the highways and give the world a truly living and breathing feel that is so rare in ARPGs (and just about any game really).

It’s a rare gem and one that is really worth your time if you like classic ARPGs.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie.

Shadow Warrior

Alternate title: “It’s now acceptable to play with Wang in the company of others.”

So, where to begin? Well I’d seen a little of Shadow Warrior when it was first released and saw it as a Ninja Gaiden type of game which did and didn’t interest me at the time, and it took the demo which I played in the recent Steam sale for the title to slice through my chest and right into my heart- slashing my account balance in the process- and providing me with what I would consider a thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience. It’s not the fantasy epic you’re likely to spend over a hundred hours playing but it brings back the point which so many games are missing nowadays.

Fun! You know when games used to be fun? Me too! It was the best, right?

Shadow Warrior does this very well with quirky humour, fortune cookies, the dialogue, and the fact that can develop yourself in whichever direction you want to without feeling like you’re missing out on something. I particularly enjoy the sword combat as you actually can do more than just left click and swing in the same basic fashion from Chapter 1 to Chapter 17. The introduction of combo-like moves which require to do something along the lines of tap W, W, and then hold left click to charge and then release really spice up the game for melee enthusiasts. Those particular strikes, referred to as Ki Strikes, are then empowered using the Karma you recieve from defeating enemies. Allowing you to steal health, deal more damage, drain their soul, and do any number of other similarly amazing things. It’s a nice change. It really is.

This also allows you to bridge the gap in survivability between the melee and ranged approach. To be honest, the ranged weapons are quite standard when you first get them and you’re not going to enjoy them as much as when you unlock their unique upgrade. Like the ability to fire four shells with the shotgun at once for massive burst damage or the ability to throw molten bombs of volcanic ferocity at enemies with the flame thrower. These things, when you get them, make you wonder if there’s much of a point to melee as they are rightly powerful and pretty cool. But the addition of powers that allow you to steal health and survive longer or tackle more opponents with melee makes both fairly balanced. Of course, there’s less danger with ranged but it’s not as clean cut as some games make it.

The sword itself also has a number of swing options that allow you to either play with assisted swings or to flail widely and slice, dice, maim, and chop in every direction known to man for bloody and gore-filled demon giblets goodness. Needless to say this is not one for those with a weak stomach or who don’t enjoy blood and limbs raining from the sky.

I don't think we're in Japan any more.

I know I said I needed a vacation- but this wasn’t what I had in mind, Zilla!

The story is split into several stages which give you a score at the end of each segment to let you know how many secrets you’ve found, how much money you’ve collected, how many kills, how much damage dealt, and many other neat statistics to help you develop better in the next stage or upon replaying that stage. This gives you an indication of what’s out there but doesn’t painfully detail it so there’s still an element of mystery and exploration even after you’ve finished the stages a couple of times.

Combat is fast paced and tends to be mixed into the exploration elements. At times you’ll wander, explore, climb, and solve puzzles for a while and others you’ll enter a room where everything in the general vicinity will have a taste for Wang. At the end of each round of combat you’ll get a Karma rating which builds into character development and is based on how you perform in that particular fight and what tools, weapons, skills, and powers you take advantage of. At first the combat is slow and easily tackled and you’ll feel like some kind of prodigal sword fighter but you’ll soon face even tougher and more varied waves of enemies. Including but not limited to: big demons, spiky demons, flying molten breath demons, exploding demons, demons that roll balls of green who knows what at you (that also explode), shamans, and necromancers.

Overall, it’s a title that I feel is fluid and fun. The combat is slick, fast, balanced, and you will actually want to use half of the upgrades you get. You don’t get throwaway bonuses to damage and resistances- your Wang is delicate but deadly- but you do get permanent bonuses to improve your already present skills. I wouldn’t say it’s the game for you if you’re looking for upwards of fifty hours play time. I also wouldn’t say it’s the game for you if you want perfectly solid and serious game play. It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s not for the squeamish- but it’s enjoyable. You can dip in and out of the game and always feel good about coming back as you won’t find many games with such an interesting swordplay mechanic. It’s also fairly brutal so you aren’t going to get out of most fights just swinging wildly and praying for the best.

If you ever wanted wholesome, enjoyable, demon-rending fun this could be the game for you!

Have a great day, all!

Moggie.