854 Reviews liked by LordTentacle69

A good looking turn based roguelike with varied characters (and alternate versions of characters) that combine a map with different paths to the boss fights of each planet, a good combat system that involves making use of stuns and faster attack speeds to hit your enemies before they go to get critical, camping abilities to heal, buff, and build character relationships for combo attacks and buffs, and some very mediocre systems of unlocking items and other gameplay options. That doesn't all fit together perfectly or give you the options and variety needed to make subsequent runs as interesting as they should be.
The combat is the best part of the game. It is fun, looks good, has varied enemies, the available characters give you a lot of options, items and the three item types a character is allowed gives different build focuses or side focuses. The critical hit system is probably the only time I've ever liked critical hits in games as it removes the randomness. If a character hasn't been hit yet and are attacking someone that has not acted whatever their attack is gets access to its second set of abilities that can be more damage, armor piercing, or additional effects, this also applies to enemy attacks. Attacks that stagger can push enemies back further in the turn line or possibly break them and keep them from attacking at all that turn. Many characters have buffs or alternate modes of fighting they can activate or skills that require fury that is built from attacking and breaking enemies that allow them to create powerful effects or use combo attacks with another party member. There are a lot of characters that have strong ability synergy. Attacks can apply status effects and can be in the form of light, heavy, AOE, normal, or flurry hits where certain enemies might be strong or weak to each type (or damage types like pyro, pulse, nova, etc). Characters can defend, overwatch enemies or allied characters, drain or replenish health and shields, and have different strengths or weaknesses in damaging health, shields, or breaking through or ignoring armor.
There are issues though, character and enemy buffs, debuffs, and abilities combined with a possibility of more than 10 characters all together can lead to having information taking up the screen and hiding other information while still not always telling you what you need to know in an efficient way or at all. Certain party compositions, as the game only allows you to choose three characters and then randomly allows you to pick one from two more characters after the first and second planet, can lead to extremely difficult early game sections or end boss fights as you might just not be able to put down the damage or staggers needed or might just be thrown int a fight with an enemy resistant to the kind of attacks available to your characters at lower levels. This has lead to very specific recommended starting parties and item focuses in many runs.
Exploring a planet has you breaking into three different areas you choose that are connected to sections of the map already available to you, sections opened often have a fight but also might a loot or credit box, armor or shield upgrade stations, DNA labs (acts as your XP to spend), or unlockable side areas you can fight through for more XP and items. After each three moves you unlock the ability to camp for the night where characters can spend a total of five shared points to use abilities that can heal or apply buffs to other characters for future combat. Spending cards between characters gives them bonuses to their relationships that can increase to 3 or 4 levels. Levels 1 and 3 give both characters passive bonuses, 2 unlocks a combo attack, 4 does nothing mechanically in the current run but unlocks alternate versions of existing characters or one of the game's secret characters, each level also leads to unique dialogue between the two giving everyone more personality. Though the ability to use even more abilities between two to unlock a new character type or trying to unlock the passive or combo bonuses or dialogues, along with the very limited actions you have available does, tend to mean you will often by making less useful buff choices to try to fill relationship bars.
Where the game does the worst is in its roguelike nature with little being given to you to make subsequent playthrough interesting or having them allow for more options in anything but your initial starting three character roster. The only things you are really unlocking are more challenging difficulty modes that give enemies more health, damage, and possibly creates more of them in their groups earlier in the game, and you can spend tech points gained to unlock items that will be available in the game's world from then on (like many games that do this this can be a very bad thing where you unintentionally ruin runs by unlocking terrible gear). On the plus side I don't think it gives you item drops or buy options that no character in your party can use (though there are only six types so either from the start or after you unlock your next character all should be available in your party) but all you can do to try to manage item drops is that every six items you unlocks allows you to mark one item to show up 50% more often and one to show up 50% less, you can also choose one to start with but since it starts at level 1 of 10 this just gives minor bonus early on and should be replaced soon into the run. The other thing you will do is spend intel points to unlock the other characters or the different versions of them that might have minor health, shield, skill damage numbers and can often have one new skill replacing an old one and changes the level order two skills unlock in.
When you start a new game you will be going through the same planets (though you do unlock an option to go to two different planets for your second planet after your first win), you typically find the same interactable points on maps where you will notice different characters don't have many unique lines on the map but just say a few set things it assigns randomly (or possibly with a higher chance to certain characters), you aren't unlocking any interesting, fun, or helpful modifiers like you do in most games in this style (no starting with more characters, carrying over relationship levels, gaining more moves, gaining more points to spend while camping, starting at higher levels or with better gear, causing changes to planets, etc). The end planet bosses and the boss before the final boss are the same, what will be more random is that the end boss is a version of one of your playable characters that take over the enemy fleet until the run is finished and you are prevented from using that character. There is a minor version of the Shadow of Mordor/War minor boss enemies where each planet will spawn a few more powerful versions of enemies that will have a few lines to fit a personality types along with different strengths and weaknesses, somewhat entertaining and being able to see what kind of enemies you have on certain paths does allow for more informed decisions but don't expect to have anyone become memorable or to create any kind of rivalries.
Ends up with a solid base game with enjoyable combat that doesn't do enough to make continued runs interesting, varied, or allowing for experiment and has some features that all fall pretty flat while dropping a lot of plot elements after the initial run.
The DLC is free and does do a bit to improve things as it has added new characters, side locations and enemy types, and the last released DLC adds an endgame.

Must a game be 'good'. Is it not enough to watch a bisexual man descend into madness while a bunch of girls kick ass.

this game has the pacing of my essays when im trying to reach a word limit so i just find different ways to rewrite the same sentence over and over
Case 5 is pretty good and all the characters are great but holy shit what a slog

Jack i love chaos i love chaos jack
Jaaack I love chaos chaaaooos hooooooooooooooo
Btw go through the levels on hard mode with the party disabled and the game will be 1000x more engaging

they've done it again, the crazy sons of bitches!! they've done it again!!!!!

Absolutely the best Lego game imo. The mirrored Hero/Villain campaigns were so fuckin cool, this shit got me through getting bullied in middle school. Thank you Batman.

Completing Opus Magnum, in terms of getting to the credits roll, is easy. I know that might sound pompous of my own ability to the game, but I'm being very serious, the game is designed for you to make messy brute-forced methods to go through the puzzles if you so desire. The issue is, however, that you're not going to do that. Within the game there's this drive, this scream to optimize, to efficiently solve the problem, to create machinations beyond what is minimally asked of you. This is both a narrative point and a metatextual one, Anataeus is a genius where the fundamentals all come easy to him, but he strives to constantly reach past his limits. He doesn't want to just do what is needed of him he wants to EXCEL. And on top of this there's that leaderboard, that constant reminder that you could work yourself better, lower the cost, contain everything to shorter tapes, etc.. It all feeds into a disgustingly addictive loop.
It's honestly just, my favorite kind of puzzle design. I thought about that a lot, how I really enjoy Opus's intricate meeting between the computer coding aspect and the sad tale of expanding beyond the schoolyard to find that the world is much more complicated and often limiting and frictional. It's simple but very fitting. Most of what I look into with puzzle games is generally something that speaks out at me beyond the A-ha! moments, maybe introduces to me a different way of thinking things through, or encapsulates a lived experience that's interwoven. I think Opus does all of the above to a respect while being infectious to boot. I'm far from done with it either really, because I know doing the whole slew of optional puzzles is going to be cozy comfort for me to just throw on sometimes to wrack my brain for 10-15 minutes. I've also been completely entrenched in Zachtronics now,,, it's only a matter of time till I've played them all. As someone who had Computer Science as a minor degree, mostly not a major because the complexities and conceptual stuff beyond was not my speed, this fills a hole of coding projects that were genuinely fun puzzles to work around.
Think of it this way, imagine if you could code with very clear fundamentals, so clear that the act of debugging was extremely visually and mechanically apparent to you instead of figuring out for hours where your logic error was. And that you don't have to have stack overflow on another tab for all of time. Heaven on earth.

NeverAwake speaks to children in distress through the playful without demanding complicity with the underground cultures of the internet, since of course, what was once niche is now pop, but no one should ever need cultural knowledge or normative fit to find help or understanding. .
I am completely unaware of Neotro's personal life, but NeverAwake and Vritra could form the x-ray of the darkest psyche -as well as innocent- that can develop in childhood through a traumatic event.
And why a Shmup twin stick? Well, most people have come into contact with it at some point in their lives (maybe Space Invaders?) It's one of the purest video game formats; tremendously playful, immediate, satisfying. You smash your enemies and dodge their attacks, the perfect escapism for acting out a power fantasy. And fantasy of power is what Rem, the protagonist, has in her subconscious. No spoilers: NeverAwake articulates through the Shmup ecosystem a story of self-control and reconciliation far more evocative than countless RPGs and VNs aimed at teens.
The end of this game and its way of understanding the often intrusive ludic resources of video games reminds me greatly of Taro's most remembered works. Helping and being rescued is something more powerful than any conventional final boss.
Communicating effectively does not require elegance, subtlety or measure, only passion and creativity.

But they were cooking with the story, designs, everything
They gave us the best set of side characters the series has seen in Nemona, Arven, and Penny
Story was real clean, too, top stuff for the series. Strong gen. Just needed more time in the oven.