54 Reviews liked by HarpoCoatl
Hell Let Loose
In the heat of a firefight, Hell let loose does touch on something for a moment. A peephole of the sheer horror and cruelty of WW2, maybe.
But boy is it boring for 95% of the time. I get it's going for a Squad sort of thing, but it's such a pain in the ass to actually get to the combat here. Base spawns are usually a literal mile away from the centre of the map, which is usually where the combat is, they dont update with the moving objectives, and if you havent got one when you spawn in, you've probably gotta walk. If you're winning when that happens it could well be across the whole, ridiculously enormous maps.
And then when you get where you're going you're basically just playing day of infamy because the game basically funnels all 100 players into objective areas anyways. So why wouldn't you just be playing that? I dunno.
And the whole thing just doesn't have anything else to bring it up. It's very rough, particularly on PS5 where the lack of KB+M leads to the game feeling completely out of place. Quality of life features are terrible, text is barely legible, it controls kinda weirdly, online stability is a joke, you can't turn the damn controller microphone off when you end up on the Wermacht side and the """larpers"""" come out the woodwork. And there's just baffling decisions everywhere. Setting up team wide spawns can requiresmultiple players working in tandem - not to do anything interesting, but just to get the supplies in the same spot and do it. So in a public server, they may as well not exist and you have to rely on your teams officer. Who hopefully hasn't DC'd or something or you'll be forced to do western europe walking Sim 1944 for another 10 minutes before you get sniped from an MG34 and have to do it again.
Just play Day of Infamy. Or Squad, or Insurgency, or something anything else. HLL has some technical chops and has some cool viscerality to it, but it's just really not worth it.
No More Heroes III
No More Heroes III
In the middle of two much larger projects I'm working on, I decided to take a little time to write down my experience with this game. For context, I enjoy Journey quite a bit. I also enjoyed Abzu despite its lack of originality. It was like eating the same really good meal for lunch and dinner. If The Pathless was "Journey in a forest" in the same way Abzu with "Journey in the ocean" I would have been satisfied. Unfortunately, The Pathless is a study in maximalist game design, and minimal originality. In a misguided attempt at adding new gameplay mechanics, Giant Squid walks a terrible line between not being mechanically interesting or allowing you to fall into that "Journey Feeling". While Journey was never a mechanic heavy game, it submerged you in a world that never took you out by throwing a million red targets all over the landscape. It all feels like the developers had an okay concept, but began adding things to it to make it more “full featured”. In many ways, it’s a very bad attempt at mimicking Breath of the Wild’s success. Someone should have told Giant Squid that Breath of the Wild was not great because it added a hundred tepid puzzles around the world, it was in spite of that. Speaking of those puzzles, if you thought they were boring in Breath of the Wild, you have a tall glass of lukewarm water to sip on here. The only concrete reward you get from most of these puzzles are essentially keys to unlock the next level. I nearly wrote that that was the only reward you got from these puzzles, because the other reward is a miniscule amount of progress on a bar. This bar, when filled up all the way, increases your run meter. I believe many of this game’s issues all lead back to this meter. Its existence pushed the developers into adding so much unnecessary filler to the world. One of the game’s main draws is its movement, and this meter just puts a limit on how much fun you can have with it. Well, it would have if the movement was any good at all. It’s not even as fun as pressing R2 in the Insomniac Spider-Man games. At least in those games there was some sense of momentum, that every swing would bleed fluidly into the next and (pardon my cliche) make you feel like Spider-Man. If you let go of the run button in this game, your character grinds to a halt. In fact, doing anything except holding forward, holding the run button, and pressing R2 over and over again to hit targets ends any semblance of inertia. I feel like this is a step backwards from the simplicity of Journey and Abzu. In the process of trying to make the movement more of a mechanical interaction, Giant Squid removed any overlooking I can do in favor of aesthetic.
It goes without saying that The Pathless also rips Team Ico off at many turns. Its bosses are big forces of nature that have an attempt at seizing empathy in their death. While its narrative isn’t wordless, it certainly feels like it should be. It’s the desolate world that evokes Ueda’s output the most though. It’s no surprise that The Pathless doesn’t do a good job with its Team Ico inspiration (I can’t really think of a game that does), but its attempts at replicating the smaller moments really irked me. In all of Team Ico’s games you would happen upon little interactions with your NPC companion. These range from dialogue to animations to physical input from the player. It’s a little time for you to grow closer to the person/animal you’re journeying with. They have no pretensions, and just give some humanity to digital creatures. I almost put my controller down and shut off my console when The Pathless directed me to press square to pet my eagle. This was, of course, after a forced stealth segment where I had to turn my brain off lest I lose my mind of boredom. The way it all plays out is downright insulting, down to the miniscule patches of darkness that you have to go back and rub before you proceed. This game is just so passe. I don’t remember the last time I’ve played a game this bankrupt on fresh ideas or simple fun. I’ve also never played a game whose title reflects the developers much better than the product itself.
Edit: Out of morbid curiosity I finished the game. I can't believe how bad the ending is. I thought that the ending would lift the game up in a similar fashion as Journey and Abzu, but I was wrong. I knew that they would assume that I cared at all about the eagle, but I didn't know that that was going to be the main conceit of the ending. My review also neglected to mention the lack of a health bar, which worked in Giant Squid's previous game, but it siphons any stakes from the boss fights in this game. It's not like simply placing a health bar into the game would make it any better though, as every boss is insultingly easy after you learn their patterns. For some reason, the final boss has the most evergreen patterns in the game. Once you beat his first phase, you will have a hard time failing. This is probably the worst game I've played since Outlast 2. It's a Frankenstein's Monster of good ideas from other people, but with none of the tact to bring it back to life.
Everything I said about price and presentation in my previous review of The Girl Who Stands Behind applies here too. The Missing Heir still sounds and looks amazing, but it is still overpriced. What I want to touch on in this review are the story and gameplay, which are vastly different from the second game.
I found the story in The Missing Heir to be fantastic. In the second game, the event you're investigating happens right at the start, meaning you're following in its trail the whole time and not much new is happening, you're just slowly uncovering the mysteries of that event. I wouldn't have chalked that down as a bad thing if this one didn't play out so differently. In The Missing Heir, things are constantly happening around you in the midst of the investigation, persistently alternating your course of action, and making things way more exciting. It weaves many more threads into the story, posing a lot of questions that kept me on the edge of my seat for all of my six hour sitting, and all of these threads tie up well. One of my complaints about the The Girl Who Stands Behind was that there was no character building for the protagonist. He felt like an empty vessel for the player, and I didn't think this one would be any different, but I'm pleased to announce that I was wrong. This game sets a great foundation for the main character, as this is a story that would not have worked without him, so it's disappointing that the second game didn't take that development anywhere. I described the second game as feeling like a one-off Ace Attorney case, but I'm now realising that that's not a good thing.
So the story is really good and much better than the second game's, now what's different about the gameplay? It's terrible. Every complaint I had about the second game's outdated adventure gameplay is amplified here tenfold. It's so incredibly frustrating, and I'd recommend that anyone playing this one keeps a guide on hand at all times. There were a couple of redeeming qualities about it though. Rather than have you pick from a list of potential answers when making deductions, this game pulls up a keyboard and asks you to type your answer instead. I found that this was a clever little way of making me feel like I was piecing things together myself, even if it only happened twice. The other noteworthy gameplay element is that there's a minor first person dungeon crawling section at the end, which was nothing to write home about, but it was a welcome surprise and a nice change of pace.
If you absolutely have to try one of the Famicom Detective Club games at full price, get this one. While its adventure gameplay made me want to rip my hair out, its excellent story and presentation kept me engaged the entire time. Both of these games plus maybe two or three more cases of equal length would have made a great package for $60/£50, but if that happened back on the Famicom, the Ace Attorney series we know and love may not exist today. Famicom Detective Club will always be the older brother in the shadow of the Ace Attorney series, but these remakes will ensure that its influence will never be forgotten.
This is NieR with new content, looking and playing better than ever, making one of the best stories in the medium an even better overall package. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound better than ever with the new soundtrack lacking the soul that made the original's music the best I've ever heard in a game. It's still fairly good, so I won't let it stain what is otherwise a masterpiece, but it was sometimes hard to listen to having heard the perfection that is the original's OST.
All in all, they made a game that I criticised for looking and playing like shit look super pretty and play noticeably better. I can only hope that a music restoration mod makes this the absolute definitive way to experience NieR.
On a superficial level, this game is very similar to Sly 2 and 3. However, any look deeper into the intricacies of this game reveal that it could not be more different. It lacks any of the soul, charm, or love that was put into those games. Everything about it is just wrong. The redesigns are disgusting, the story feels like filler, the humor feels way more kid oriented. Think about the worst gimmick from Sly 2 or 3. Every gimmick in this game is as bad or worse than that one. Also everything in this game is a gimmick. The whole point of this game is traveling around time collecting boring gimmicks that serve to pad out two or three missions. I'm not really sure how they ruined such a banger concept. This game feels like what Sly 2 would have been if Sucker Punch forgot that they covered the basics in 1. It's so sad that the series has to end on this note, and it's even worse that people think this is acceptable.