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A childhood classic that holds up very well
I have a very specific relationship with this game growing up. My dad was very strict on what games I can play on PC and he took me to gamestop to buy a PC game. Upon entering my eyes BEAMED straight for toon town but once he heard that it was an online game in which I can play with others it was a huge no for him. Being the kid I was of course I got sad but I ended up looking for another SINGLE player game which landed me with Neighbours back from hell. To this day I really don’t know why I chose it but maybe planet earth wanted me to discover what would become a classic title from my childhood. I loved the game as a kid and still love this game to this day.
What makes this game so good?
It's such a simple yet effective and fun gameplay loop. To explain , the premise has you playing as Woody, a simple and calm person who is constantly harassed by his neighbor. Upon being harassed so much Woody takes it upon himself to make his neighbor live in hell. Thus beginning the game which is a point and click puzzle game where you need to be sneaky. You will roam your neighbors house while trying to evade him to find items that will allow you to prank him. Each mission will have a certain amount of goals you can achieve around the area but will only need to complete a specific amount to complete the level. It can be a bit confusing in the later levels but for the most part the game isn’t extremely challenging you will simply need to click around and use your head on where to use items. It's a goofy , joyful and fun gameplay loop that honestly never gets boring and to top it off this version combines both Neighbours from hell 1 & 2 so you get all the content with the game. It's satisfying when it finally clicks in your head what to do and watch the prank unfold onto your Neighbor. It almost feels like you are watching a TV show as the game pretty much plays out like a TV show and it does it very well. So much joy and love went into this game you can tell they had fun making it. Some traps are reused but for the most part as you unlock more and more levels they will open up a lot more new traps to discover and do. There really isn’t much else to say because the game is basic in its core but it's just executed so well you can’t help but to smile as you play the game.
A few issues
I honestly don’t have many issues with the game past the few bugs I encountered but I still feel the need to talk about them. First off, I ran into a glitch where the male Neighbor would bug out causing his whole character to vanish turning him invisible. Luckily it didn’t happen often and didn’t ruin any levels but it was annoying a bit to see it happen. Lastly, there were a few moments where I clearly should have not been caught but for some odd reason was even though I was not in the radius of being caught. Luckily these are the only issues I personally ran into and don’t have many more issues with this game past this.
In the end
If you for some odd reason have never played this title and it sounds interesting from what I said I HIGHLY recommend it. It's a good time and will feel very nostalgic to play even if you have never played it. This title is worth its full price of $15 but if you would like to save money it does go on deep sales for around $5 which I would 100000% recommend it at that point. What are you waiting for give this classic a play!
A good story wrapped up in a boring bundle.
Crystar has been sitting on my pick back up pile for a long time now. I started this game a few years ago but just stopped playing it for no particular reason. With the release of Crymachina I thought it would be fun to go back and finally finish Crystar. By the end I found myself really enjoying the story but really just wanting to finish the game and get it over with due to its horrible midpoint gameplay choices that followed through until the end.
What did I enjoy about this game ?
To start off, the story was very nice and one that will keep you interested until the end. The story of Crystar is simple on a base level, having you play as Rei , a girl whose sister has died. In order to get your sister back you make a deal with the devil that sets you out on a journey in Purgatory / Limbo. Crystar does a good job building up its story to its eventual climax giving you multiple characters you will meet and care for throughout the runtime. Beyond that , the OST is great and has tracks you will want to listen to when you are not even playing. Furthermore , the artwork is simply amazing making you wish they had even more of it in game because I loved the character artworks , specific cutscene artwork.
Sadly this is where it gets tricky.
I want to touch upon the story real quick because while I think it was overall great I was not fond of the ending. There was so much aftermath we the players deserved to see but simply didn't. My biggest complaint which ultimately ruined the game however was its gameplay and runtime of the game. First off, the game doesn’t have a high quality feel to it which is FINE not every game needs to have a AAA feel to it. However, this doesn’t mean you can have boring and repetitive gameplay and think it will be passable. To simply put , the gameplay is BORING and downright BAD not ever feeling fluid or fun. Hits don’t feel impactful , certain skills are insanely OP making what you use severely limited as you will end up using what is OP. This sadly translates over to characters as 2 out of 4 characters overpower the other 2 by a crap ton. By the end I saw myself using literally 1 character as there was ZERO reason to use anyone else. Furthermore, the loot pool is boring as it all comes down to numbers and looks. The weapons will not have special effects or stats the higher the tier they will simply look different and have better numbers. You will not sit and think about what to equip, you will just equip what is best and move on. The game features an upgrade system which is utterly useless as upgrading weapons do not really boost the stats to a degree that makes it worth grinding for. All these small things will begin to add up quickly and maybe wouldn’t have taken as much of a toll on me if it wasn’t for the runtime of this game. By now you would think these would be my biggest issues right? Well you would be wrong weirdly enough. I always find enjoyment in games and do not mind middle of the road gameplay HOWEVER the story makes one of the worst decisions gameplay wise. The story hits a point in which you will have to replay the SAME EXACT MISSIONS OVER AND OVER. Doesn’t sound bad at first but when you take into account how long and boring levels are you will literally lose your mind by the end. I cannot fathom why they force replays of the same levels over and over when they simply could have saved so much time by skipping so much of that portion of the game. By this point I literally found myself confused as the game makes you go through so much just to get new story scenes that eventually lead into its ending. It truly makes for a dreadful experience and one that I was not sad to see finished lol.
Do not 100% this game
As a trophy hunter my #1 rule is to get my feelings and review out of the way when I finish a game. I NEVER allow trophy hunting to affect my overall feeling of a game but I felt the need to add this section for people who do like Plat hunting. DO NOT GO FOR THE PLAT ITS INSANELY GRINDY AND BORING , that is all.
In the end
I am really bummed out because if there was a great gameplay loop to back up the great story that is already present I believe we could have had a really good game on our hands. I am very intrigued to dive into Crymachina as I played the demo and personally really enjoyed it. The physical for Crystar is quite expensive now for a US copy so I 100% do not recommend hunting a copy down however if you catch it on a deep sale digitally then give it a go if you understand what you are getting into.
A modern masterpiece
Just finished the game about 30 minutes ago and I am just left speechless by everything I had just experienced. Never in my many years of waiting for Alan Wake 2 did I ever think this would be the sequel we receive. Everything about Alan wake 2 is handled to perfection which is why I believe this game will go down in history as one of the best ever in its genre. Not only is it an achievement for its genre it is now my GOTY.
A mind boggling story
This game is a trip from start to finish , every second oozing with aesthetic and brilliant storytelling. I would like to go into details on what makes this journey so brilliant but this is very much best played without knowing anything. Moving on , the cast is great from Alan , Saga to Casey with even some surprise characters showing up. I will take this quick moment to really recommend fans to play through Control if you would like to understand even more of the lore. Beyond that , I also recommend a replay through of Alan wake 1 as it would really make things a lot more coherent with 2. I will just leave the story part at that because you simply need to experience this game with as little information as you can but just know its an amazing story that will surely be diagnosed for years to come.
I will not be getting into ANY of the story bits in this review as I never do for games that are best played blind. Just experience this jaw dropping, mind twisting and mind blowing journey for yourself and you will understand why this story was masterfully crafted.
A beautiful looking adventure
Furthermore, the graphics are beautiful, the game just looks amazing on the PS5 so I can only imagine how it must have looked maxed out with 4K on PC. Many times throughout my playthrough I just saw myself looking at the scenery during the daytime and it was always magical.
This game nails the atmosphere, really giving itself a perfect creepy vibe. One aspect I wasn’t too much of a fan of was the constant jumpscares you will experience in specific sections. It can be scary but most of the time it just serves as a way to annoy me. Besides the jumpscares I genuinely found the game unsettling and creepy which is very rare for a game to accomplish for me nowadays. There were many times I would be creeped out traversing certain sections since the game always made you wonder about what could be down that hallway. It's simple tactics like that that will really give you the creeps as you make your way through the game. The story itself is just as unsettling and creepy in which once again I won’t get into so I just really hope you play it.
This game is true horror.
One of the more interesting aspects of Alan Wake 2 is its gameplay. Why? It's simple because there are many segments of the game where you won’t be doing much combat. I honestly really like this as it aids in really panning out its story more. Furthermore, it makes the moments you do engage in combat even more impactful and fun but this can be argued so just be aware you won’t always be in combat. The combat itself is very akin to Alan wake 1’s combat which is a good thing because I found it very fun. The big changes in the combat is through movement which is a lot more akin to RE4Rs movement. Dodging is fine but it can be a bit wonky against certain enemies but for the most part it was passable. The enemy variety is pretty basic sadly but I really liked the designs on them but be aware there isn’t a big pool of enemy types there are only a few types you will be battling against. Playing on hard difficulty the game provided a fair enough challenge but honestly wasn’t too tough if you are good about managing the resources you get. One of the more welcome editions this game has is how open and exploration centric the game is. It will not hold your hand and give you markers on the map telling you where you need to go. You will simply just look at your objective then look at the map to see where the spot you need to go is and on the way find collectibles. Speaking of collectibles there are multiple to look for in this game from Puzzles, lunch boxes to supply stashes. It is highly recommended to be on the lookout as all 3 collectible types will give you very useful resources. If you plan on 100% the game I HIGHLY recommend making save points near the end of the game so you have a save file to go back to. This can come back and bite you in the ass because once you hit a certain point you will not be able to explore the sections freely forcing you to replay the whole game again if you want to collect everything. The gameplay feels second to the story and I was 100% fine with that because the story of Alan wake 2 is phenomenal but the gameplay we do get here is very fun and combat that I hope is explored more in its DLCs this game will be receiving.
Some Issues sadly
I hate to have to bring up some issues I have with this game because I do think it's a perfect game….. But it has some issues. Luckily the issues I have with this game do NOT have anything to do with the core game, it's only with its performance. Playing on the PS5 version I experienced many frame drops and bugs and glitches throughout the game's run time. Glitches ranging from characters model glitching out all the way to soft locking the game forcing a game restart its moments like these that will set you back a bit. Picking up items can sometimes freeze your whole screen for a few moments making you wonder if the game crashed or not lol. Hell I even got audio bugs that would quite frankly bug all sound effects only leaving environment sounds to be heard. It is frustrating because the glitches happen more than they should have and I can only hope they iron out these bugs and issues with patches.
in the end
Usually I would have knocked this down half a score for all the bugs but Alan Wake 2 is truly a masterpiece. This game is an achievement in every aspect that should be played by ALL horror fans. Easily my GOTY currently and I really don’t see that changing now for this year. I would gladly wait 13 years for sequels of games if this the quality we will get over getting the garbage we usually get now.
100% recommend at full price.