What Remains of Edith Finch And Interactive Storytelling 





WARNING: SPOILERS!

What Remains of Edith Finch is many things. It is a narrative driven experience, or as some like to call it, a “walking simulator”. It is a collection of short stories, but most importantly, What Remains of Edith Finch is one of the finest contemporary examples of the  effectiveness of interactive storytelling. When it hits its peak, Edith Finch utilizes the medium’s interactivity to deliver potent story beats and moments that would be impossible to replicate in any other form of entertainment. 

The player takes control of Edith Finch, the sole remaining member of the Finch Family. She returns to her old family home after being away for years in search of the truth behind each family member’s death. This is where Edith Finch‘s narrative structure lies.

Once the player happens upon the Finch family home, they are left to their own devices. Each room contains a letter, note, or memorabilia of some kind which triggers a playable chapter detailing each individual’s final moments. Due to this set-up and the fact that the game contains no puzzles of any sort, it’s entirely possible to make it to the end while missing half of the Finch family secrets.

However, doing so would be a disservice to the team’s hand-crafted elegance. Rushing through the game is exactly the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. You are supposed to take it slow. After all, there is a reason the game’s default walking speed is mind-numbingly slow and why a sprint function is absent. What Remains of Edith Finch is a labor of love from a studio of tightly-knit individuals. They are proud of the experience they have created and entrust the player to appreciate the game’s quiet time, extrapolating extra information through environmental observation.

The house is painstakingly detailed. Each room serves to accentuate the individual stories as well as the story at large surrounding the Finch family’s supposed “curse”. A player could in theory make a mad-dash to each interactive note/object and learn enough just through the playable stories, but Edith Finch deserves more attention than that. Because this is a video game and not a film, the player is given the opportunity to linger and that more than anything is what cements Edith Finch as a strong narrative experience.

What Remains of Edith Finch also utilizes video game conventions to tell certain stories in ways that only a video game could. The story of Molly Finch is just one example of this. As a kid with an active imagination, Molly claims she was hungry one night, then saw a bird. She tried reaching for this bird and in doing so suddenly turns into a cat. Through a series of events and clever transitions, she then becomes an owl, then a shark, then a sea monster. Each shift in perspective provides a shift in playstyle and controls, each of which prove to be disorienting to the player. 

Boundless leaps of logic are to be expected in a video game and that sort of logic-leaping nonsense in the typical video game is a perfect catalyst for representing the imagination of a little girl. These radical shifts in perspective leave the player in wonder as he/she comes to grips with the controls and rule set of each new perspective, perfectly echoing the mindset of a child as she’s pretending to be all these things and acclimating. Had this been a film or novel, the effect just wouldn’t have been the same.

Unfortunately, for all its successes, What Remains of Edith Finch also highlights why games like this still have a lot to learn. I mentioned quiet time earlier, but to be honest, there actually is very little of it. Edith herself talks a lot. Any interactive object will trigger dialogue from Edith. Traveling through most of the house will trigger dialogue. Go up these steps. Trigger dialogue. Open this door. Trigger dialogue. It’s as if the writers were afraid their niche game would somehow bore the sort of player that is interested in experiences of this nature. A little more restraint could have gone a long way.

What Remains of Edith Finch, despite what you may believe, is a wonderful celebration of life rather than a mourning of death.

“In Memory of Shirley Davis”

Reads the end credits soon followed by portraits of every member at Giant Sparrow. You’ll immediately notice that each member’s portrait is taken from their infancy and early childhood years. That’s when it hits. As Edith echoes in her final words: “I don’t want you to be sad. I want you to be amazed that we ever had the chance to be here at all“. What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative experience that explores and celebrates the gift of life and living in the moment. While it may still have room to grow, What Remains of Edith Finch is as about as good as it gets within this genre at this point in time. This genre and the video game industry at large still have a lot to learn about writing, pacing, and restraint, but regardless, it’s exciting to be a part of this and play something as special as What Remains of Edith Finch.

NieR: Automata Is One of The Best And Most Clever Games of The Generation(Too Clever For The Financial Post) 

Nier: Automata exemplifies what is wrong with mainstream gaming media. Although Automata‘s reception has been startlingly positive from both critics and consumers, there are a scant few individuals that missed the point of Nier: Automata and as such, their overall impression of the game is less than positive.

One example is the Financial Post’s review. Before we begin to tear this review apart, I must preface this tirade by stating that I condone dissenting opinions. There is nothing inherently wrong with one critic liking a game and another one disliking it. It’s bound to happen and as long as both sides of the fence have legitimate reasons and arguments for their own sides, all it does is generate a rich discussion surrounding the game.

The issue with The Financial Post’s review of the game is that the reviewer in question(Chad Sapieha if you want to get out the pitchforks) did not finish the game properly. Based on the wording used in his review, it’s fair to assume he either never finished a second playthrough or just never even started one to begin with. This can be surmised by the following excerpt: “Perhaps I stopped too early. Maybe I should have played through a second time – and a third and fourth – to see what the writers were holding back for those with the patience and tenacity to keep going. Maybe Nier: Automata is actually the Rashomon of video games, providing new insight and perspective each time you play, resulting in something that transcends each individual play-though.


But if Platinum Games wanted me to do that, it should have made the first time through a lot more charming
.”

This closing sentiment echoes the unprofessional attitude the writer took when choosing to critique Nier. The issue stems from that fact that the “multiple playthroughs” are integral to Nier: Automata‘s design. Unlike a lot of other games that like to claim “branching storylines” and “multiple endings”, Nier really follows through on that promise of delivering an entirely new experience until the true ending is achieved by the third playhthrough. 

Automata‘s playthroughs are more than simply playing this game the exact same way and getting a different cutscene at the end. Story route A is basically equivalent to the opening 10-15 hours of a sprawling 60+ hour rpg. You’re barely scratching the surface of the game and in reviewing it so prematurely have defamed the narrative ambition of the title.

Because – in what can only be described as an utterly miscalculated decision – the writers decided that in order to fully explore these weighty themes and issues they needed to make us play the game more than once.

After finishing it the first time, with no real resolutions provided, we’re told we need to start this 25-hour plus game all over again to get the full Nier: Automata experience.”
If the reviewer in question had bothered to begin a second playthrough, he would have immediately found out that the thirty minute or so prologue mission is entirely different and that players take control of 9S. 9S controls differently from 2B, already making it a unique enough experience from the outset. However, that’s not where the game’s ambition lies so let’s go a step further.

Each subsequent playthrough essentially acts as new game plus, meaning all gold, crafting materials, character progression, weapons, and so on carry over from story route A all the way to C, cutting down on the tedium typically associated with playing a game more than once for a different ending. Furthermore, 9S has the ability to hack enemies, chests, and doors, introducing an entirely new mechanic to story route b. That’s to say nothing of the added story scenes throughout that flesh out sections you’ve already played in addition to new enemy types being introduced. EVEN FURTHER, all previously completed side quests will remain completed, meaning no time wasted on doing the same tedious side quests again and again for lore or extra experience or just to scratch your OCD itch. 

That second playthrough already sounds like a different enough experience to be worth playing, doesn’t it? The real game changer, however, is story route c. This third playthrough is a different game from beginning to end. It introduces yet another new playable character, A2, whom plays similarly to 2B with the added mechanic of taunting enemies to enrage them, increasing both your attack power and their attack power. Story route c takes place after endings a and b. This isn’t just some “let’s play the same main story again a third time with even more added cutscenes to flesh it out even more”. No, this third route is a fresh experience. Story route c is so integral to the narrative structure of Nier: Automata that a preview of future events in an anime style “this is what will happen next. Tune in to find out” plays after the end credits of story route b. 

If Chad Sapieha had bothered to play the game three times and still didn’t like it much, then that’s fair play. However, as it stands, his criticism of Nier: Automata is predicated entirely upon the need to play an open world rpg more than once to fully understand the story. It’s clear by the review that Chad didn’t understand just how different each playthrough is and as such, his criticism of Nier: Automata is unprofessional. That it even showed up on metacritic is baffling. The Financial Post should stick to boring news and stock information. It’s clear that the site and Chad aren’t qualified enough to properly review a game.  

Rainbow Six Siege is Brilliant

A little over a year on from its release with a second year of confirmed support, Rainbow Six Siege has survived its launch woes and cements itself as one of the best shooters of this generation.

Rainbow Six Siege has been able to captivate me in ways no other game has. Its greatest strength lies within the methodical pacing. Each match lasts only a handful of minutes, and combined with the low player health and lack of respawning, that makes each second crucial.

The difference between winning or losing a round can sometimes hinge upon whether or not you happened to be aiming at the right location at the right time. In spite of this time sensitivity, a lot of game time is spent waiting. Whether a player is laying prone in a corner or has punched a hole in a wall for a new line of site, situational awareness is paramount to success. Running in straight to the objective with reckless abandon WILL get you killed. 

Success requires patience. Oftentimes, even more tense than a firefight is a tango between players on opposing sides of an obstruction. Player 1 is repelling down the side of a building. Player 2 hears the rope and makes a quick sprint toward a corner by the window. Player 1 hears these footsteps just before deciding to charge through. This leads to a mindgame mimicking a balancing of power.

This constant balancing of power between humans players with only one life nestled deep within the micro-level destruction creates a dynamic no other multiplayer game aspires to. No other game this generation has made the simple act of slowly turning a corner feel so incredibly tense and dire. 

Both players are scared for their lives, but just one slight move can turn the tide of battle. Perhaps player 1 has a flashbang, but should he/she risk shooting or punching a hole in the window to allow space for this flashbang to enter through? Doing so might give the opponent just enough of a reaction time to gun him/her down.

Because of the nature of Rainbow Six Siege‘s mechanics, underlying structure, and game flow, more than half of your total play time will be spent scouting for information through drones or cameras, sitting in silence, listening for sounds, or dancing back and forth between an opposing player until one dies or retreats. 

It is one of the most satisfying games to play in this day and age. Yes, it’s got its fair share of bullshit like any multiplayer game in existence, but when a game plan goes right, Rainbow Six Siege enables a specific kind of power fantasy rarely seen in gaming.

Variety is The Spice of Life(Gaming)

Stop me if this has ever happened to you before. You are looking over a list of games to be released over the next several months. For a good majority of those games, all you can think is “damn, I want that”. Then, you begin to spark conversation with your gaming friends about what you are looking forward to. 

Game after game gets shut down by your friends, with statements usually along the lines of “I don’t like games like that” or “that’s not my kind of game”. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an innocent enough statement that’s not attacking anyone for liking something different, but then you sit back and reflect. 

As a “hardcore gamer”, you find yourself enamored by the sheer variety of experiences on offer in the medium. As such, you refuse to turn a game down just because of the genre it falls in or just because it’s purely gameplay driven or just because it’s a cinematic/narrative driven experience. You love all games because all kinds of experiences are equally valid, but your friends have a much more limited taste in games, making it far more difficult to really connect in conversation.

Gaming’s greatest strength is its versitlity which can extend far beyond that of any other medium. Want to watch a horror movie? There’s esentially only serious horror or cheesy and/or comedy horror. Want to play a horror video game? Yeah, there’s still the two tonal extremes as with film, but how does it actually play? Is it first person? Is it third person? Does it rely heavily on melee or gun combat? Is there even any combat at all? How much puzzle solving and environmental exploration is involved? Is it super linear or more open ended? Does it have choices that impact the narrative? How difficult is it? So many parts come together to create video games and being able to experience everything the medium has to offer keeps it from ever becoming stale. Unlike some of my friends, I never get bored of games or have my moods where I don’t want to play a game. 

That mostly comes down to the fact that I open my mind to playing any kind of game. When within a week I can go from playing a generic first person shooter to a hardcore rpg to a walking simulator to a racing game, I’m never going to grow tired of gaming. Open your mind and you’ll have so much more fun with games. 

Look Back: Playing Resident Evil 6 For The First Time in 2016

Resident Evil 6 has garnered quite the reputation as being the most reviled entry in the mainline series. It’s a game I have yet to play until very recently and after finally taking the plunge, I’m left utterly baffled by the hate. Yes, Resident Evil 6 is far from a masterpiece. It has some pretty blatant issues and frustrating design inconsistencies, but to call this a “bad” game is extreme. 

I get it. There are these hardcore series stalwarts that hate change and automatically insult any new installment in a series that’s different because they’re regressive and can’t handle change. Every fanbase has those people. Who cares that Resident Evil 6 isn’t a horror game? It was clear from the start that it was going to be an action game and makes no attempts at hiding that. 

You can complain all you want that the series’ roots are gone, but they’ve been gone for years and this game embraces that by doing a hard left turn, challenging your preconceived notions of what a Resident Evil game is. Put simply, on a purely mechanical level, Resident Evil 6 is the most satisfying RE game to play. 

First impressions upon beginning the prologue are iffy. The opening playable sequence is a tightly directed and controlled vertical slice that entirely removes control from the player. When the tutorial prompts you to use the left stick to move, Leon will move forward regardless of which direction you move the analog stick. It’s as if Resident Evil 6 thinks you’re a fucking dumbass and can’t handle control in video games. Once it begins properly,though, it shines brightly, but not too bright. 

Let’s get this out of the way. Resident Evil 6 is not what I’d call a good game; more along the lines of average, but that’s the problem with consumers in this day and age. They hear anything less than “amazing” and the game is not worth their time. Plenty of average games can be filled with a fair amount of fun and interesting ideas/mechanics. RE 6 is one of those games.

No matter how directionless the story and level design becomes; no matter how contrived and scripted its set pieces can be, Resident Evil 6 feels so good to play. The mobility and control is something I never thought I’d see in a Resident Evil game. The ability to sprint and slide while still shooting is a blessing. Additionally, you can quick turn during the slide and still be laying on your back, ready to shoot at any enemies from behind with style. 

There’s also the fact that your character seamlessly transitions from cover to laying on the ground and vice versa just from moving the analog stick back and forth. If you’re on your back against a wall, the camera switches to a first person perspective so as to not cause camera issues. I also haven’t even begun to mention the contextual melee animations as well as the No Mercy mode.

Resident Evil 6 isn’t a game I’d revisit time and time again because of how well designed it is like Resident Evil 4 or even Resident Evil 5, but it’s far better than butthurt fanboys make it out to be. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the game felt on a purely mechanical level. In that respect, this is the best RE game by miles. 

Onechanbara Z2 Chaos Review(7/10)

Onechanbara Z2 Chaos is another game in the pantheon of erotic Japanese games that markets itself as this sexy experience you’ll get off to, but like so many other games of this type, the fan service is relatively light. Cutscenes do show off the sexy cast of characters, but these scenes are so brief and infrequent that they do little to titillate. In addition, due to the nature of the game’s musou style combat, it’s difficult to see anything erotic during gameplay. 

When all is said and done, Onechanbara Z2 Chaos is an action game first and a sexy game second. Combat is much more accomplished than expected. It seems simple at first with standard light and heavy attacks, but spend more time with it and you’ll find a fairly complex game underneath. The game stars four characters: Kagura, Saaya, Saki, and Aya. Every character has access to two weapons and a sub weapon, each with their own combos and properties. 

Basic combos are simple to pull off, but every combo string can be interrupted mid-combo and be continued by switching weapons or characters on the fly, continuing a combo string. This on-the-fly switching coupled with other mechanics such as the chase system, which automatically dashes you toward the nearest target and launches them in the air, transforms what would otherwise be mediocre combat.  

Onechanbara Z2 Chaos takes a few hours to master and understand, but once you do, the pacing and fluidity of it all makes it incredibly addictive. Even when the PlayStation 2 era environments with uninspired level design rear their ugly head, the core gameplay is so satisfying that the poor design is mitigated slightly. 

It helps that the game’s story clocks in at around 4 hours, meaning it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The story itself is nothing to write home about. It’s so poorly written with such sporadic pacing that skipping all the cutscenes wont detract from the experience at all unless you really NEED to see that two second ass shot. 

Onechanbara Z2 Chaos is a perfectly competent action game with enough depth to satisfy hardcore action fans, but its limited scope and budget severely impacts the quality of the title. It has the basic mechanics down. All it needs is more polish to become a bonafide classic. 

SCORE: 7/10

7 Favorite Games

Not too long ago, #7favegames was trending on Twitter. After several days of collecting my thoughts and such, I decided I’d compile my seven favorite games. Keep in mind with lists like these that personal preference holds greater significance than a more objective analysis(hence the title “favorite” not “best”). Also, it’s important to remember that sometimes your mood can impact the experience of a game so this isn’t my definitive list for eternity, but these are my favorite games as of right now. 

7. Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library and the Monster Seal


RPG’s are my favorite genre. There’s something about the consistent progression and management of skills/abilities that triggers the OCD within me. Deep RPG elements are the most satisfying mechanics to manipulate and understand in a game. Spending half an hour in menus, carefully comparing stats and deciding which skills benefit which class the most is compelling enough to save an otherwise mediocre game. 

It’s a saving grace then that Dungeon Travelers 2 is one of the deepest rpg’s you’ll ever play with an insane amount of customization and malleability for different playstyles, but the game surrounding these elements is nothing to scoff at. Dungeons quickly become engaging tests of endurance and path-finding while the game’s characters and writing ooze self-aware humor. Dialogue scenes never overstay their welcome unlike a lot of other rpg’s(I’m looking at you Trillion: God of Destruction). Dungeon Travelers 2 provides perhaps the most gratifying role playing experience you’ll ever have on a handheld. 

6. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round


Fighting games aren’t known for being accessible. As a person that doesn’t have the time or desire to become a high level pro at something like a Blazblue, DOA 5 is the best fighting game to jump into. Fighters tend to have this issue whereby they’re either too difficult or they’re too easy. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round captures the perfect balance between accessibility and depth. 

Anyone can press buttons and make impressive things happen on screen, helped by the fast paced nature of combat and fluidity of the animations. It’s the only fighting game I’ve been able to enjoy on a surface level while still having enough depth that I can pursue when I find myself bored with the core mechanics. It’s a game I’ve sunk over 600 hours into and with the upcoming Mai of King of Fighters fame being added to the roster next month, there will be many more hours to come. 

5. Gears of War 3


Of all the triple-A shooters to release on last gen consoles, Gears of War 3 is one of the best. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original game. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the first game is mediocre, but Gears of War 2 revitalized my interest in the series while Gears of War 3 was the bonafide masterpiece the franchise needed. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many hours I wasted away playing through the campaign, competitive multiplayer, and horde modes. From my personal experience, Gears of War is the only trilogy to get better with each installment culminating in the tightest and most satisfying shooter experience of the last console generation. 

4. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

 The original Genesis sonic trilogy(counting Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a single game) is one of the best trilogies in gaming with Sonic 2 being the peak of that series. Few platformers since have been able to capture the personality of Sonic 2. The music and level design remains unmatched by modern day platformers.

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


The Witcher 3 succeeds as an open world game where countless others fail. While most other games use an open world design as a crutch to fill the map with copy/paste mission types for no reason other than to fill the map with icons, The Witcher 3 fills even the most insignificant and repetitious of missions and missions types with meaningful context that adds a lot to the world. It’s probably the best designed open world game of all time. 

2. Shadow of The Colossus 


Shadow of The Colossus is a difficult game to talk about. To describe it on a mechanical level wouldn’t do it justice. It’s the kind of experience that isn’t comprehensible until you play it. The game’s ability to carry so much emotion through its use of minimalism isn’t very common in the industry. If you want something that will stick with you for years to come, Shadow of The Colossus is that game. 

1. The Last of Us

I won’t go on heaping mountains of praise upon this game as by now, you’ve probably heard everything there is to hear. As an overall experience, it is the best game Naughty Dog has put out and despite its strong narrative and characters, also contains a surprisingly quality multiplayer component that remains contextualized within the game world. It is one of the best examples of what video games can be as a medium for storytelling. It was a huge risk for a triple-A first party developer to go from the bombastic action of Uncharted to the pared back intimacy of The Last of Us, but it paid off. 

Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God Review(7/10)

Rogue-likes are intimidating. The traditional role playing rogue-like in the vein of Mystery Dungeon is one of the most underrepresented genres in contemporary gaming, making it difficult for newcomers to acquiesce to. Fortunately, Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God fits into that mold, acting as the perfect entry point for the genre.

Sorcery Saga begins with an anime-esque opening song that sets the stage for a cutesy adventure with cutesy characters. The story stars Pupuru, a student of a magical academy tasked with retrieving a magical orb from a tower as part of her graduation exam. At the top floor of the Tower, Pupuru meets Kuu, a blobby mess of a creature that consumes the magical orb before she is able to retrieve it.

Upon returning with her report of the situation, Pupuru’s teacher suspends her for failing the exam, after which she becomes embroiled in the pursuit of creating the ultimate magic curry by gathering the required ingredients from nearby dungeons. 

Sorcery Saga oozes charm from the outset. Character art is lively and expressive. Each character has a distinctive look with unconventional names ranging from Gigadis to Puni. Through the course of the story, players will likely grow an attachment to the some of the oddballs. In typical JRPG fashion, the cast is filled with anime tropes including the resident pervert and the annoying cutesy creature that does nothing but cause trouble. 

Sorcery Saga‘s aesthetic and vibe is an incredibly important part of the experience. As mentioned before, this is a rogue-like for beginners and the soundtrack plays a huge role in making the adventure feel relaxed. Every track fits Sorcery Saga‘s accessible nature, making it difficult to feel stressed while playing the game. It plays similarly to others in the genre. Dungeons are randomly generated and movement/attacking is handled on a turn-based grid system. Because of this, positioning is key. Combat itself is basic. You press a button to attack and that’s basically it. 

There are hundreds of items, weapons, scrolls, and magic abilities in all, but the game’s difficulty ceiling is so low that the majority of these are useless. Magic and most scrolls are only helpful during boss battles in the early game and the 256 floor post-game dungeon. The easy difficulty might be a turn off for experts, but Sorcery Saga‘s core gameplay loop is satisfying and the style charming enough to prevent repetition and boredom from settling in too quickly. 

By design, the player resets to level 1 every time he/she enters a dungeon whether it’s the first time or the tenth time. The only way to experience permanent character growth is through upgrading weapons and shields. These are found in dungeons and their stats can be upgraded only when there is a plus symbol attached to them, be it +1 or +3. 

Non-plus weapons can be upgraded through killing enemies, but this form of upgrading only unlocks more seal slots for the weapon, allowing more benefits to be applied to said weapon or shield after it is combined with another. Due to the  random nature of the game, the frequency at which equipment can be upgraded varies wildly which is why the level reset helps to maintain a meaningful sense of progression. Even when players are stuck trying to find equipment that can be combined, the consistent leveling of every dungeon crawl keeps the player invested as something is always being gained or improved regardless of the randomly generated elements. 

Combining weapons and shields  costs money in town, though there is another way of upgrading equipment, which will be a point of contention for players. Kuu accompanies Pupuru on every dungeon excursion and his introduction serves as a means to spice up the traditional rogue-like formula. He acts as a typical AI buddy, dealing damage to enemies and acting as a tank, though he levels up through the consumption of items. Throw enough items at Kuu and he’ll start leveling up, learning new abilities along the way. One of the most useful is Crafting Smarts, letting the player combine equipment once per floor at no additional cost. 

Kuu learns abilities randomly. There is no rhyme or reason for which abilities Kuu will learn at which level, making it frustrating to constantly feed him, hoping you’ll get that one benefit you want only to be disappointed. Keeping Kuu protected is paramount as dying with him alive will result in being transported to town with no real penalty. Letting Kuu die before you, however, means losing your equipped sword and shield. 

On the surface, this seems like a huge set back. Losing hours upon hours of progress doesn’t sound very enticing if this is a new concept to you. Fortunately, your first death unlocks a special five floor dungeon with generous drops, providing decent equipment on each run. Go through this dungeon a few times and you’ll be in a comfortable position to return to the main game. 

Theater items can be acquired in dungeons with each item unlocking a new skit in the game’s Chara theater. Each skit plays out on a theatre with its painted backgrounds, fancy flooring, and curtains hanging off each end of the stage. These scenes tend to add more to the characters, making them the perfect optional scenes for players that love the character interactions throughout the main game without slowing down the experience for those that don’t care enough to sit through them.

Item management is vital. With only twenty four item slots and no way to upgrade storage space, the longer dungeons will turn into a mini item management simulator. Figuring out which items to keep and which to throw away is the most mentally taxing the game ever gets. These decisions can be genuinely difficult to make sometimes, adding a tiny layer of strategy over one of the easiest rogue-likes you’ll ever play. 

Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God is a decent rogue-like that appeals mostly to newbies of the genre. If you consider yourself familiar with these kinds of games, Sorcery Saga may be a little simple minded for you unless you’re interested in the game’s style and characters. Not every single game in the world needs to be super challenging. Sometimes a gamer just wants an experience that lets him/her unwind and turn their brain off while feeling like something is still being  accomplished. Sorcery Saga fits that bill. Even if you do end up dying, how could you get angry at such cutesy character designs and relaxing music?

SCORE: 7/10

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation Review(5.5/10)

If Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 showed promise for a franchise that could grow past mediocrity and become something special, then Re;Birth 2 squanders that potential full force. It makes some interesting minor additions, but comes up short of its predecessor. 

The first addition comes in the form of four player party battles as opposed to the original’s three player battles. It’s a relatively minor alteration that does just enough to speed up the flow of combat and allow for strategy to be a bit more viable in heated situations. The core combat has remained untouched with the same system of rush, break, power attacks and an EXE gauge. 

The only other addition to Re;Birth 2 is an optional rogue-like style mini game. Players can assign equipment to an avatar and send her into a dungeon to gather items and special materials. Players do not actively control this avatar. Instead, she is sent out for an allotted amount of time depending on what floor of the dungeon she is assigned to, letting players make progress in the story until she returns. If she dies while out and about, her currently selected equipment is lost.

First impressions of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation were strong. These two additions seemed like the start of a greater overall experience with more polish. Unfortunately, it sets into the same rhythm as the original within a handful of hours and never grows past that. The amount of reused assets is staggering. 

Combos and abilities of returning characters are identical, but the re-used dungeons are the most egregious example of asset flipping. The first game had a habit of re-using the same dungeons multiple times as story dungeons and side dungeons. Different locations on the world map would be given different names and yet they’d be the same dungeon you’ve already seen three times before in the story under three different names. Re;Birth 2 is no different. In fact, the developers go so far as to take a dungeon that was copy/pasted four times in the first game and copy/paste it another four times here. Never in my life have I seen such laziness from even a low-budget Japanese game. 

It’s not all a disaster, though. For as many missteps as it makes, fans can still expect that same brand of quirky humor with endearing archetypal characters and references to anime/gaming up the ass. The game introduces Red and Cave, two of the most interesting characters in the Re;Birth series thus far. 

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation is frustrating. It’s frustrating because it tried making incremental improvements to the formula, pacing, and writing to offer a refined experience, but fails  on the merit of its repetition and laziness. It’s essentially the yearly franchise model: JRPG edition. Luckily, it clocks in at roughly half the length of the first game, a blessing in disguise. 

SCORE: 5.5/10

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 Review(6.5/10)

the game looks a little on the blurry side, running at a sub-native resolution on vita


The Hyperdimension series has become huge over the past few years, almost to the point of self referential parody. What began innocently enough as a single turn-based rpg grew into a franchise with multiple remakes and spin-offs ranging from an idol management simulator to a strategy rpg. One could argue the franchise’s true beginning wasn’t until Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1, a PlayStation Vita and eventual PC remake of the 2011 PS3 original. 

Re;Birth 1 makes use of the battle system introduced in Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2, which employs a mix of turn-based and real time elements. Enemies are visible in dungeons and can be attacked for an initiative bonus. Once in battle, characters act by turn. During that character’s turn, the player has full 360 degree movement on the field within a specified radius(dictated by the character’s movement stat) and can line him/herself up perfectly to execute a set of combos on an enemy or multiple enemies. 

performance is also less than ideal, but with turn-based action, it’s managable


Combos aren’t a matter of dexterity or rote memorization. Each branch of a character’s combo can be initatiated step by step as the character’s turn doesn’t end until the combo is finished or the player decides to cancel mid-combo. Icons on the bottom of the screen will be friendly reminders of what your options are at each branch. 
The real depth lies within combo customization. Attacks are separated by three categories mapped to different buttons. The triangle button is mapped to “rush” attacks. The square button is mapped to “power” attacks. X is mapped to “break” attacks. 

Rush attacks fill up the EXE gauge more quickly, allowing for devastating EXE-drive attacks or the ability to attack one last time after the combo ends with each final attack requiring differing levels of the EXE gauge to execute. 

Break attacks deplete the enemy’s shield while power attacks inflict the most raw damage to its health. Each slot in the combo tree can be customized, allowing players to set what move they want wherever they see fit. It’s a mix of simple raw combat and in-depth customization that keeps the game from becoming too repetitive despite the groove combat settles into early on. Late in-game, when Re;Birth 1 unleashes all of its characters for players use, it becomes almost daunting managing each character’s combos. 

This is most definitely an RPG for RPG gamers. Unfortunately, it sticks a little too closely to that hardcore RPG mold. Re;Birth 1 is too stat-based. While most modern rpg’s have clearly defined stats, they’ve moved on to the point that players can generally wipe the floor with higher level enemies and bosses to a degree provided precise planning and strategy is used. That’s not the case in this game. Every level-up and minor equipment change makes a HUGE difference. 

This brings to light Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1‘s biggest issue. Difficulty. It constantly flip-flops between incredibly easy and unfair insta-kill enemies. On more than one occasion, easy dungeon runs culminate in a boss battle with a massive difficulty spike. On other occasions, an easy boss quickly leads into the next dungeon being filled with near insta-kill enemies.  It’s an artificial way of extending the game’s length as even after going through all the side dungeons, story dungeons, and doing multiple hours of grinding, the playthrough ran at under forty hours. 

Speaking of dungeons, items, and equipment, the game makes use of a mechanic known as the “remake” system. It’s essentially just a fancy word for crafting. Plans can be acquired to craft weapons, items, and outfits, but new side dungeons can also be created using this remake system. Re;Birth 1 goes a step further, allowing for dungeons to be changed. Every dungeon has plans allowing items/materials to change and for stronger enemies to be added. It’s a basic system that does just enough to alleviate the tedium of the grind slightly. 

All the combat and staring at menus is well and good, but it’s clear from the outset that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a character driven game and these characters are what have kept the series alive so long. If you consider yourself a knowledgable video game and anime nerd, then Re;Birth 1 has you covered.

The premise of a world named Gamindustri split into distinct regions controlled by goddesses engaged in a console war is ridiculous. In fact, ridiculous is the best way to describe the humor and characters. Nearly every dialogue scene contains at least one joke. Some are quite clever and subtle while others are not so subtle. Let’s just say one of the characters is named Tekken and she wears a necklace that says Tekken while wearing gloves that bear a striking resemblance to a certain Jin Kazama. In spite of the archetypes, nearly every character has an endearing quirk that players will likely grow to love. 

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a stupid game. It’s got a stupid premise and a lot of characters fill in the roles of various archetypes. Item and quest names are also stupid ranging from stuff like “non-RPG growth” to “kinda pervy”. Almost everything about this game is stupid, but that’s exactly why it works. I found myself laughing far too often at the dumbest lines or references because sometimes it seems like the writers didn’t try.

 It is a deeply flawed game. Combat is basic and dungeons are incredibly repetitive(some dungeons are recycled and given different names up to four times), but it gets by on its deep customization and charm. Get to know Neptune, Compa, IF, and the rest of the cast for a good time. 

SCORE:6.5/10