Joe's Take: Marble Mountain Review



| My review of Marble Mountain | 07/05/16 |
________________________________________________________________________
Marble Mountain is a crazy, up down round and round puzzle game which can provide a lot of fun to those who are puzzle game novices and those who love them. The game is also available for VR (Virtual Reality) which I can imagine would be much more fun- or terrifying- depending on your view. Let’s go into further detail.

This game is very relaxing to play, and can be a quite calm experience. Its simple controls allow you to be drawn into the colourful world, allowing you to lose track of time. There is also a lot of game play detail such as secret areas, collectables and treasures; even time limits on certain rewards for those who need a little more ‘thrill’ in their gameplay. (Look for the Indiana Jones hat). Also the moving camera angles and ability to respawn make this game much more accessible to everyone as you don’t have to constantly stop to move the camera.


There is not much bad about this game. I would also recommend the controller for this game as it makes the experience a lot easier. You maneuver a long narrow paths, over ramps and even a roller coaster. Making it a much simpler task to use a controller. That said, not everyone has that option. Yes the graphics could be better. But to be honest for £6.99 ($9.99) there is not much more you could expect. It’s not like this game has a story or would have detailed cut scenes. It’s just a classic puzzle game.

Verdict
This might have been a short review, but really there is not much to say – it’s a nice change to just have a simple game. Overall, I enjoyed this game. I thought it was interesting to play and just something different. It might not be overly hard, but it’s worth a try. And a great homage to the puzzle games of past. I would recommend this game for:

‘Anyone who just wants to have some fun playing a casual game.’

Hiatus

You, the one dedicated reader who reads this blog, may have noticed a distinct lack of content recently. Some of us have lost the desire to write for a bit, while others have been revising for upcoming exams, and we just haven't found the time to write. 

So, commencing Friday, there's going to be a hiatus lasting until July. We're going to take this time to knuckle down, study, and re-evaluate what we want this blog to be about. Thanks for reading and giving us the desire to write, and we hope we can start again in July with a whole new desire.

The Gadgets and Khajiits team.

Neon Chrome Review!

You may be quick to dismiss Neon Chrome as a generic top down shooter. While its story may give something to be desired, its progression and simple but effective gameplay still makes for a decent game that is worth the price of entry - even though it gets boring after a while.overseer.jpg (1920×1080)
In the game you play as an unknown hacker in a dystopian future, in a building where everybody lives called Neon Chrome ruled by the evil Overseer whom you have to overthrow. You inhabit several bodies which you use to take on a plethora of different enemies from foot soldiers to spider robots to hovertanks. They don't really do much job of explaining who you are, your motives or the Overseer's, they just emphasise the fact that he's evil through his dialogue and deeds, and seeks to improve Neon Chrome via any means necessary. Due to that we can't really connect with either side, and are left just playing and supporting the good side because well, they're good. Luckily, story isn't all that makes a game.
The game is a roguelike. In that people expect to die a lot, which is where the "inhabiting several bodies" comes in. The game's difficulty actually isn't that difficult assuming you know what all the enemies do and how to handle them. But the first time you deal with certain enemies you could very well die, especially with the bosses. Every time that happens you go back to your hub area. In here you can purchase upgrades for health, luck, damage etc, and pre-purchase weapons and skills for your "Asset". It's balanced though, so you can only purchase one of each - otherwise you would be too powerful straight out the door. Before entering, you get one of three random classes.
The one people would most likely go for is the Hacker, as it grants you access to convenient places with upgrades. The one I always go for is the Cyber Psycho, for more survivability and choice. It doesn't give you an entirely new experience, but it changes play style slightly. There's also Techie, which has a shield, but less health, Assassins who can go undetectable and Soldiers who take less damage but are slow.
Actual gameplay is very simple. Its a top-down shooter where you walk around, click to shoot, right click to use your special ability. You can melee, and there are 3 main types of specials: EMPs, grenades, and missiles. It's easy to get into, and in addition to that, the game has destructible walls, which add a more tactical spin on things as you can make shortcuts or create ambushes. Your main objective is to get to the next elevator upwards to the various bosses. The layout of the levels certainly have a formula to them, and some even get repeated, but they have weapon upgrades and chests, character upgrades and medbays for healing all throughout. Every time you open a weapon upgrade or chest, the loot level goes up, which increases the quality of all weapons you find, so you're encouraged to do so.
Each zone has a theme, such as office spaces, warehouses or labs, and each zone has a boss. You can start from the next zone once you defeat the boss, however I wouldn't recommend it as you'll be less powerful. The bosses aren't that common, and get even more annoying when you find out the last two bosses are reskins of the first two. While some of the ideas for them were cool, such as activating turrets to distract the boss, it didn't feel like enough was put into their design.
You may also find purple elevators throughout your Judge Dredd-like experience fighting up a building. These are unique challenge rooms which provide a break from the combat. They have a different look to them and usually encourage a more puzzle, speed or environment oriented behaviour towards them in order to snag extra bonuses.
What keeps you going are those bonuses - unlocks are scattered throughout the levels, and you're encouraged to continuously replay from different areas of the game as the unlockables are zone-exclusive. You can get new weapons, abilities and enhancements for your asset to use later on in your playthrough, which is very useful in getting the player to keep pushing on, to find out what cool things are in store for them next. However, once that is over, there's nothing to really keep you going, the gameplay just doesn't have the staying factor to do that, its too repetitive.
The presentation of the game isn't much to write home about either, having typical sci-fi electronic music that grows increasingly irritating as you listen for hours on end, and visuals that just aren't that interesting. They're too simple and lack the charm that say another roguelike's visuals such as Rogue Legacy or Binding of Isaac have.
Neon Chrome is, to be brutally honest just average. Its topdown shooting mechanics are solid, but there's non-existent story and its repetitiveness gets the better of it, as it can't provide enough new experiences each time to make it interesting.
I'd recommend this game to fans of top down shooters, and somewhat to fans of rogue-likes, as it has good mechanics but falls flat in its attempt to keep each runthrough fresh.
Thanks to the developers for providing us with a review copy!

The Week Ahead!


It's sort of a quiet week this time around - in terms of games, anyway - with the only big release being Battleborn, Gearbox's upcoming first-person MOBA that launches on Tuesday worldwide for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It's got its typical Borderlands humour - a bad thing, in my eyes - and a levelling system that is only active during matches: every player starts with the same skills and can gain new ones as each match progresses. However, the game's always-online DRM may prove a tad too annoying for some.

On the same day, the excellent Superhot gets its Xbox One port, Shadow Complex Remastered (a 2D platformer critically acclaimed by many when it released on Xbox 360 in 2009) comes out for PS4 and PC, MMO developer Funcom's horror title The Park - set in an abandoned theme park - launches on PS4 and Xbox One, and dungeon crawler JRPG Ray Gigant releases for PS VITA.

In terms of films, there's only one coming out this week, but boy is it a big one. While we Europeans got it last Friday, Captain America: Civil War hits theaters in the US this Friday, with possibly one of the biggest ensemble casts of all time: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Bruhl (pretend there's an umlaut there, I don't know how to do it on a keyboard)

Set a year after Avengers: Age of Ultron, Civil War takes place in a political battle between Iron Man and Captain America. After Scarlet Witch kills 11 people in Nigeria when trying to retrieve a shipment of stolen guns, Iron Man believes that the heroes should register with the UN and be under control, while Cap believes the opposite. A fight ensues, and the Avengers pick sides. It's got a very positive critical consensus, with a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes as of the time of writing. 

James' Take: Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom


Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom casual Action Indie game developed and produced by Big Ant Studios. Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom puts you in as a Jester named Jaxx and his companion Comedia, who have just found the map to the mythical Druid Orbs, 'the most desirable balls in all the land'. It is said that whomever possessed the orbs had the power to rule over all.

The Good Stuff
Masquerade has a relatively good story. It puts you straight into the action form the beginning, with you on the run from the Clown Army, an group of maniacs who are set on finding the Orbs. As Jaxx you are given the task to go and rescue Comedia after she is captured. The story was quite funny to me and I found myself laughing out loud at a few moments within the game (which is very hard to do for me).

The game also has a very different almost childish sense of humor, which personally I found quite interesting. You will often find yourself watching a cutscene from the clowns goofing about in their everyday business or making very subtle sex jokes. Jaxx himself is a wise cracking Jester who and I found some of his speech very cheesy but great at the same time.

For me, this game was very refreshing as recently I've been playing a lot of the Dark Souls franchise and more competitive online games, so to find a game as casual but funny as this was very good. I think a lot of gamers could benfit from finding more games like this just to relax on.

PC guys will be happy to know that there is a few extra graphical settings and you can very easily run this game at 60 fps on Ultra.

The Not-so-good Stuff
As good as this game is, of course their has to be some downsides. The combat in Masquerade was good at the start, with it slowly introducing combo moves and special attacks, but it became sort of boring after a little bit with no upgrades to your attacks except specials. Fighting the same waves of enemies multiple times in one area became a little bit stale after time.

Because I played on PC, I was also looking at how the port from consoles is. There was a few features I wish could have been added such as the ability to change your lock on target and the game felt like it was not for mouse and keyboard, but controllers at times.

There was one or two bugs I ran into, the most prominent of which was the auto lock on locking on to enemies in the next area from me (which was very irritating).

Conclusion
Masquerade for me was  a refreshing and relaxing little indie game with a great sense of humor and a good story.

"I would recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a relaxing indie game when they need to get away from it all."

The Week Ahead!


Ratchet and Clank finally gets a European release on PS4 this on Wednesday (Europe) and Friday (UK) with the American version having released last week, and it's looking pretty good so far - 95% of the critics on Opencritic have recommended it. A re-imagining of the first game, it's mostly been praised for its stunning graphics, and has made a few changes while still keeping the core gameplay at heart.

Also releasing is Loud on Planet X, from the developers of the awesome Sound Shapes, which hits PS4 and PC on Tuesday, and Android & iOS on Thursday. It's a mix of rhythm games such as Crypt of the Necrodancer, and Plants vs Zombies, where you have to defend your band from aliens by timing sound blasts to the beat of the music. Featuring artists such as METZ, Tegan and Sara, and Cadence Weapon (as well as 3 bigger artists that are yet to be announced) it looks to have something for everybody.

In terms of films, we have the delightfully obscure Elvis and Nixon, which hits cinemas in the US on Friday - 22 years after Nixon's death - before releasing on Amazon later. With everyone's favourite politician actor Kevin Spacey taking on the role of Tricky Dick and Boardwalk Empire's Michael Shannon portraying Elvis, the film is set on 21st December 1970, the day that  The King visited the White House in order to get a DEA permit, most probably in order to get access to an inhumane amount of drugs. It looks quirky and niche, but it could be a laugh.