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Played up through the 7th badge (these games go by quick with 10x speedup!) I was actually surprised at my bad reaction to G/S: in my childhood mind, these were the best two games. Likewise, I was surprised how good R/B felt.

To my surprise, G/S feel a bit flat. The locations and landmarks feel more touristy than anything: rather than the way that R/B's world was a little denser and intertwined and felt like it was drawing on some kind of Japanese childhood/adulthood, G/S's map feels a bit more arbitrary with various 'tourist destinations' dropped in here and there, weirdly intertwined with Team Rocket and Rival stuff, scouring the maps for missed HMs. I appreciate the effort to tie real world history to the game, but it feels a bit dropped in - the mythology of pokemon themselves don't feel that tied to the systems - being a kid and getting badges, fighting pokemon.

The Radio, night/day, new balls, phone calls, etc - these are all new and sort of cute but they also don't feel super relevant to the main game based on what they amount to.

Overall there are still some nice moments: I liked the underground walkway with trainer fights this time! The way the northern/northwestern reaches of the map seem more steeped in forests and caves is an interesting contrast. Seeing regions guarded for cultural reasons (Dragon's Den guarded if you don't tame dragons, Tin Tower if you're missing a badge) - these border on interesting, but they still feel detached from the main character - a little kid who for some reason ends up catching Gods and taking down terrorists.

You can really see the pokemon formula start to take shape here: new pokemon, a new villain group, another kid who for some reason ascends to divinity-level strength against a world which contradictory..ly tries to stay grounded. A world obviously inspired by some real place, but that canonically refuses to be linked to that real place.

I have no doubt that some of the later games manage to balance the battles, complexity, and story better - but none of those things are really what made Red/Blue so interesting to begin with.

"The Convergence" is an incredible mod for Dark Souls 3 that reimagines almost everything without changing what made this game so good. A love letter to a great game and one of the best mods ever made, for any game ever.

9/10
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[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THE CONVERGENCE! I'll give individual spoiler warnings for some sections but take this as a general warning.]

After almost a year of first hearing about the mod, I finally got around to playing The Convergence for DS3 a few weeks back. I kept hearing about how this mod was the best thing that ever happened to Dark Souls 3, and I also heard that one of the creators of Archthrones (another huge, upcoming mod for DS3) was the creative mind behind this one, so I knew I had to check it out at some point.

If all you want to know is whether this mod is worth your time:

YES, it is.

It is quite easily the best Soulsborne mod I've played so far. I've played Cinders, and some other, minor mods, but The Convergene stands head and shoulders above them all.
[well, at least until Archthrones, or DS1's Nightfall eventually come out]

With all of that being said, let's get into what The Convergence actually does.

WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY DO:

If you've played Cinders before, or something like Daughters of Ash (for DS1) or to some extent even SOTFS for DS2, you can picture something rather similar.

These types of overhauls aim to give you a fresh, new experience by adding, remixing and/or removing content and mechanics across the board. But where something like Cinders mainly aimed at greatly expanding things like build choices, weapon variety, spell efficiency, etc., with some ideas that heavily veered away from the core design philosophy of the Dark Souls series, Convergence feels like a true reimagining of Dark Souls 3. At its best points, Convergence feels like a type of "Scholar of the First Sin" official re-release, and even at its worst it does a pretty good job.

All of the new content, especially the new enemies and bosses feel like their lore, placement, design etc. have been very carefully considered, as to not clash with the vanilla DS3's lore and vibes.

Of course, you have all new added weapons, spells, casting tools, etc. You have greatly expanded build choices, and around 20 starting classes. You have lots and lots of neat little Quality of Life upgrades, like having FP restore automatically over time. This is a FANTASTIC addition, and really how it should've been in the main game. However, this has been balanced with spells and weapon arts now costing very large amounts of FP, meaning you can't just spam the most powerful spells in the game without some serious investments in attunement first.

Next, the ability to buy all regular upgrade items right from the start. All vendor NPCs are available the second you first enter Firelink Shrine. They all have greatly expanded inventories too.

Lock on ranges, and most actual spell ranges have been significantly increased as well, to work well with the focus on casting. All armour pieces have increased poise and defence ratings, even a piece of cloth will give you at least a little poise. What's more is that each and every single piece of fashion now has special effects, like increasing casting speed, or reducing incoming Dark damage., etc.

Also, like Cinders, Convergence places little teleport spots all across the world, which let you slightly alter game progression, by letting you access certain areas you're not supposed to be yet. Say, you need a certain spell tome that's locked in the Catacombs? You can access it as early as the Undead Settlement now. This is not as game breaking as it sounds, as you still need to actually defeat certain bosses in the correct way to unlock certain key items that let you progress further. It does significantly reduce the almost unbearable early game slog of DS3's main campaign though, where you have to fight all the way to Irythill before you get anywhere interesting.

You have newly added enemies drawing inspiration from and lifting their movesets from other Soulsborne games, including new invaders, bosses and even mini bosses. These bosses and mini bosses all drop certain collectibles which you can trade in for new versions of coloured Titanite.

These new titanite pieces allow upgrading boss and special weapons to +10, just like regular weapons, or casting tools which all feature their own version of this like Ebony Titanite, Molten Titanite, Crystal, etc. Of course, enemies have generally much more health and damage as a response to having a powered up player character, but it (almost) never feels unfair or out of place.

Lastly, concerning one of the biggest gameplay changes on the side of the player; split damage has been almost completely removed. There are close to NO weapons that deal more than one single damage type. All weapons, spells and skills now deal exclusively either Physical, Lightning, Magic, Fire or Dark damage. There are very, very few exceptions, and in those cases it's almost always because it's a dual-weapon. (e.g. Dancer's Curved Swords) I personally really like this as it forces you to diversify your play-style and include more different damage types in your rollouts. It can of course mean that certain weapons are utterly useless against certain bosses, but the mod gives you plenty of opportunities to respec or simply level up more weapons and stats.

THE NEW MAGIC SYSTEM:

There is no way I can properly sum up just how fundamentally magic has changed here, so I'll just go over the most important points. The biggest point by far - unlike Cinders, which aims to primarly greatly expand the build variety by adding absurd amounts of new weapons, armor and spells - Convergence primarily focuses on completely reworking the magic system from the ground up.
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a pure "magic mod", but it's clearly the main focus. Of course you also have a whole bunch of new weapons, lots of which have nothing to do with magic, and are just cool new bonks for you to play around with, but if you go into this expecting a mod with 10 million different weapons and armour pieces you're gonna be disappointed.

The weapon and armour variety here is nowhere near that of Cinders. But that's not to say it isn't good, and that there aren't a whole lot of new toys to play around with. There are some of the most fun and out-there weapons out of any mod in here, and I wish that some of these were in the base game, so rest assured.

So HOW does it change magic?

Most notably - next to the already existing (Soul) Sorceries, Miracles, Pyromancies and Hexes having received a veritable shitton of new spells - the creators added 7 new magic types and a lot of spell tools. You generally still have the three main classes - Sorceries, Miracles and Pyromancies - with Pyromancies now being called "Conjurations", to include the newly added magic types a bit better.

For sorceries, next to the standard Soul/Crystal and Dark Sorceries, Convergence introduces Light sorceries (Lightning damage), which also incorporate some Oolacile spells, and Aeromancies (Physical damage) which do somte serious knock-back. As you'd expect, these scale with INT, except for Hexes, which scale also with FTH.

Miracles of course still have the classic Lightning spells, which are self explanatory, and "Holy" miracles, which deal physical damage (Wrath of the Gods, Divine Pillars of Light etc.) but have received some evil counterparts in the form of Rosaria's Bleed miracles (Dark damage), which previously only featured the "Gnaw" spells, and Necromancies (Magic damage - don't ask me why) which focus on summoning minions, applying debuffs and DoTs. All of these obviously scale exclusively with FTH.

Conjurations are effectively all "Nature spells", as it were. They obviously include good, old Pyromancies, but introduce the most out of any spell type. You have 3 new categories here: Geomancy (Physical) which lets you throw rocks, mud, and boulders at enemies, as well as poison them, Cryomancies (Dark), which the name suggests are like Pyromancies, but with ice instead of fire, and last but definitely not least, Druidism. Drudism deals Magic damage, has a fancy green hue and is kinda similar to Necromancy in that it deals a lot with summoning minions, DoT and heals, but it also includes actual Water Magic! Which means, yes, you can absolutely pull off an Avatar: The Last Airbender build. All conjurations scale with both FTH and INT.

My favourite aspect of this is how naturally these new Spell schools fit in with the established lore of the game. The only one I feel is maybe a bit off is Druidism, which feels like something more fit for an Elder Scrolls game, or Elden Ring, than it does Dark Souls. But that is a very minor complaint, and it's nowhere near some of the most flagrant violations of Dark Souls' design philosophy I've seen in some other mods.
I briefly want to shout out that this mod featured basically a Spirit Ash system two years before Elden Ring released. This mod actually has quite a few things that would later turn up in that game.

BTW: All spell schools now have a corresponding covenant and NPC's to buy spells from and either use them to upgrade low-level spell tools, or turn them into certain covenant items for weapons, fashion, magic and other goodies. What's more is that some of these NPCs even feature all new voice acting!

That is crazy to me, and shows how much effort went into all tis. The performances are pretty good and they felt like pretty natural additions. With maybe the exception of Halflight (yes, he's a Firelink Shrine NPC now), all of them felt very lore-friendly and made sense as vendors. I only wish that they maybe had some side quests associated with them, but I realise that might have been too much to ask.

IMPROVED GRAPHICS AND NEW LEVEL GEOMETRY:

Of course this mod does much more than just overhaul the magic system and adding some weapons. Almost every level here has had something done to it. Be it simply some slight re-shades and some remixed enemy and bonfire placements, or something extreme like some completely new, walkable level geometry that literally expands the level design of the original. That last one goes from a few simple ladders and bridges that created new shortcuts where there previously weren't any, to some things that are so out there that I genuinely wonder how they even pulled this off.

I personally really like most of the changes to the lighting and atmosphere in these levels, with only a tiny handful of examples where I actually preferred the original's art direction. Every area had its lighting improved at the very least, and some like the Cathedral of the Deep have loads of newly added objects and furniture in there that give it a less empty, austere vibe.

The two stand out experiences here would be the Profaned Capital and Smouldering Lake, with so much stuff added/changed that it truly feels like a different version altogether. Without going too much into spoiler territory, the Smouldering Lake does away with the annoying ballista and instead opts for a much more interestingly designed and fitting stage hazard. Smoldering Lake is usually my least favourite location in vanilla DS3 by far, which is why I find it so impressive they managed to actually make it one of the more interesting levels this time around. Irythill is another one that blew me away with how complex the new additions really were.

As for some negatives; I should mention that I experienced some very serious performance drops with this mod installed. Usually my DS3 runs perfectly fine on a (mostly) stable 60fps. With this mod on, I was lucky to push 30 in a normal area. Some areas (especially boss arenas) felt damn near unplayable. Maybe it's just my PC but I noticed that it strongly depends on the location, and how much the mod added. Ashes of Ariandel, for example, basically didn't slow my game down at all, presumably because the mod creators didn't do too much there. If you're struggling to run DS3 normally, this mod will almost certainly be too much for your PC.

BOSSES AND MINI-BOSSES:

From this point on out I'll give another SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING!

Some of the biggest changes to the game can be found in this section, and some of the biggest surprises too.
As you would expect, this mod adds a whole bunch of either revamped, remixed or entirely new boss fights. It also adds a load of new mini-bosses, or "Greater Foes" as they're called in-game. These foes tend to be powered up versions of regular enemies with new attacks and greatly increased health. They are honestly pretty cool for the most part and it's sad that there's no way to respawn them other than entering NG+.

Next to the aforementioned upgrade materials they drop (Hollow's Remains, Soldier's Remains, etc.) they also all drop a "Soul of a Greater Foe", which you can turn into either a Titanite Slab or one of a couple of special rings, which all have various effects and buffs.

Next to these Greater Foes, there are also a bunch of newly added NPC invaders. They are pretty varied and feature some really unique build ideas. They're also pretty well balanced in that they don't have as much health as regular invaders, but are allowed to heal more often as a trade off. These also sadly can't be respawned.

On to the main bosses. There are now 31 instead of 25 bosses, but that doesn't mean that only 6 are new. Some new ones completely replace certain bosses, mostly the ones that people generally tend to dislike. And that's just the completely new ones. Almost all vanilla bosses had at least something done to them, some only receiving some minor tweaks on attack speeds, timings and maybe some new, or powered up attacks, while some others completely changed their second phase or even added an entirely new third one. While the number of new bosses here once again pales in comparison to something like Cinders, I vastly prefer the approach that Convergence took with its redesign for them.
Cinders honestly didn't do that great a job in that department. Not only did it feel like half of the "new" bosses were just Dragonslayer Armour but with different outfits, but the placement of these was usually haphazard at best, and often outright horrible. Not every semi-open space is a fitting boss arena, especially when the boss clips through the walls and floor.

What's more is that they all felt horribly balanced, with ridiculously inflated HP and really lazy design. The optional end game bosses felt like a boring chore more than a challenge. It felt like Cinders was so busy cramming as many bosses in there as it could that it kinda forgot to make them actually good.

In contrast, Convergence does the complete opposite and knocks it out of the park. I hope that all mod creators take note in the future. Not only do all the bosses feel (mostly) pretty well balanced, their placement makes sense and you never have to fight a boss in an area it was clearly not designed to be in.

Their lore and design also feels very natural and as though they could've been found in some scrapped design document. Also unlike Cinders, the bosses here aren't just 1:1 reskins from existing enemies in DS3, like, for example, a Cathedral Knight dressing up as a boss. These are completely new bosses, made from the ground up, taking moves from bosses/enemies from all over the series, but primarily Bloodborne and Sekiro. Their moves feel very organic, and they all clearly had their timings and cadence adjusted to work well with DS3's combat.

Yet again, another SPOILER WARNING, as I will be going into the new bosses in detail now. I'm not going to talk about all the minor changes to all other boss fights, as that would go completely beyond the scope of this review, which is already way too long.

-NEW BOSSES-

Archdruid Caimar:

The first completely new boss, and he replaces the Curse-rotted Greatwood in the Undead Settlement. Caimar is honestly fucking crazy and it's quite possibly the best boss they added. He uses Druid spells and summons wolves at his side. It feels unbelievably polished, I genuinely prefer it to a lot of DS3's normal bosses. He uses Owl's (Sekiro) moveset mixed with a bit of Gundyr and, i think, some Milwood Knight moves. Oh, and that phase 2 transition is fucking NUTS!

Royal Darkwraith:

Honestly, probably the worst of the newly added bosses. He can be found somewhere deep within Farron Keep. I really like his Darkwraith/Cathedral Knight inspired move-set but it's very clearly quite unpolished, as multiple of his attacks have their hit-boxes active long before his weapon is anywhere close to you. Coupled with the fact that you have to fight him in a poison pool with no opportunity to not be poisoned, this makes for the fight that could be improved upon the most.

High Lord Wolnir:

Unlike the other base game bosses, Wolnir didn't just receive a few minor changes, his whole fight got completely scrapped. Instead, we have a more humanoid opponent of the same name, with a moveset which appears to be lifted from Milwood Knights and perhaps the Strawhat Shinobi guys from Sekiro. Very fun fight, if a bit standard. He uses both Blackflame attacks as well as Holy miracles. Much more fun to fight than the original.

Frigid Wyvern:

OK, I guess this one is more of a stage hazard, but the Wiki considers it a boss, so I will too. It's basically just a normal Wyvern but with ice instead of fire. Thankfully, you can kill it without a plunging attack to the head. Not actually respawnable, so technically closer to a mini-boss. We encounter him a few times, making this encounter very Demon's Souls-y.

Headless Knight:

Replacing Dragonslayer Armour on Lothric Castle's long bridge, we encounter the Headless Knight, which is basically Champion Gundyr with some different attack timings, added AOE attacks and lightning damage. Seems more aggressive than standard Gundyr too. Very tense fight, super speedy and very in-your-face, especially in such a small arena.

Vessel of Kaathe:

If I remember correctly, this was the first new bosses they ever added to this mod, and I guess you can kinda tell. Not that it's bad, it's just a fairly normal reskin of a regular DS3 Demon. It's basically immune to Dark damage and highly resistant to Fire and has some pretty intense AEO blasts. The thing that definitely saves it is the surprise second phase, which I will not spoil here.

Euclus, King of Fallen Oolacile:

The last of Convergence's completely new bosses, Euclus also has a very strong argument for being the best out of them. He replaces Halflight in Filianore's Church. While some attacks definitely need some more work (that AOE-grab comes out WAY too fucking fast for how much damage it does and how hard it is to avoid) he has the most intense and varied moveset out of all the bosses here. His moveset is equal parts Corruped Monk (Sekiro) and Martyr Logarius (Bloodborne), and he makes use of Light sorceries. Great boss and seriously tough, with very few hiccups.

Also, I vastly prefer Euclus over who previously stood guard here, Storm King Allant. Yes, the final boss from Demon's Souls. Not that it was a bad fight, but I really dislike shoving gratuitous fan-service like that into a mod that takes itself this seriously.

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END- & POST-GAME SPOILER WARNING
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REVAMPED & REKINDLED BOSSES

So those were the new bosses, the ones which didn't exist in this game at all (except for Wolnir), and those are already pretty damn good. What about the rest? As I've said before, almost every boss in the game had, at the very least, their health and damage adjusted, most of them even had some extra attacks added or attack timings changed. Obviously I'm not gonna point out every change here, instead I'll focus on the most important ones.

REVAMPED Pontiff Sulyvahn

If you know anything about Convergence, you've probably already heard about this one, and for good reason. This version of Pontiff is now my favourite fight in the whole game, yes, more so than Gael even.
But first, the build up. His cathedral in Irythil stands empty when you first get there, surely confusing many a player on where he's gone. I was wondering whether they took him out entirely, and was almost sure that was the case after I'd beaten the Twin Princes and hadn't found him. But luckily, after you get all 4 Lords of Cinder, a portal to the Realm of Moonlight opens inside Firelink Shrine, letting you access a beautiful, moonlit version of his boss arena, with the original "Old King of the Eclipse" OST reinstated as his boss theme.
The first two phases are more of the same, although Sully obviously had his HP and damage adjusted to end-game levels.

The third phase is where shit gets real. This guy just channels his inner Sword Saint Isshin, transforms his Greatsword of Judgement into a Swordspear and goes fucking HAM with endless combos, AOE's, high speed and insane aggression. Honestly it's kinda hard to explain what makes it so good, it's just the package of everything together that made me actually clap in my chair when it was finally over.

REVAMPED Soul of Cinder:

Of course they massively overhauled this guy too, why wouldn't they? Honestly this one is almost as good as the previous one, and I vastly prefer this SoC over the original. While the first phase was always a bit too chaotic and the second a bit too easy for my liking, the difficulty in this version is ON POINT.

First phase obviously incorporates a lot of new mechanics and builds, for example, he now has an Aeromancer mode, a Geomancer mode, even a Hexer mode too. His resistances have been buffed across the board, as well as his HP, but somehow the fight feels a little less chaotic than the original. Until this point, it's fairly normal, albeit with new attacks.
The second phase goes insane though. SoC now suddenly channels both Gwyn AND Shura Isshin, with a side of Genichiro Ashina and even a little bit of Ludwig the Holy Blade in there. Truly a "best of" of the entire series. And it's quite intense too. OG SoC's second phase always felt a bit too easy, this one truly feels how the amalgamation of all of history's most powerful entities SHOULD fight. Once again, a bit hard to explain why it's so good, you just have to experience it yourself.

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Finally, we've arrived at the last 2 "new" bosses. Only, they're explicitly not new, but remixed, MUCH harder versions of the Lord of Cinder fights. These are only available after beating SoC, marking them post-game content. Only attempt these if you have a high tolerance for frustration. I'm not a big fan of these tbh. Currently only the two below are available, perhaps some time in the future we'll see the other two get one as well.

REKINDLED Abyss Watcher:

So this is, by far, no question, 100% the hardest boss in this game by a mile and then some. This fight might be harder than Malenia. It's certainly many, MANY times harder than anything else in this game. It's kinda sad that it's not very good then. I'm honestly kinda shocked this was made by the same people who gave us gems like Caimar and Euclus. This one feels like what a 13 year old who just got into Souls games thinks a hard boss should be.

Every fucking hit fully staggers you. Yes, literally every single tiny fucking hit. Every combo will stunlock and kill you. He can chain combos literally while you're still on the floor, unable to move. His hitboxes deviate WILDLY from his actual attack animations.

The tracking here makes DS2 look like a turn based game. This could've been a great fight if it received much more polished, but the way it's now it feels grossly out of place.

REKINDLED Yhorm the Giant:

I honestly don't have much to say on Rekindled Yhorm. He is nowhere near as hard as the guy above, not even in the same ballpark. There are base game bosses that are harder than this, even if it's arguably still harder than the original.
Increased attack speed, some new moves and added Fire AOEs/trails to most of his attacks, but that's it. If you can kill Yhorm, you can kill him in this state as well.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

On the whole, this is a fantastic mod. There is certainly a lot of room for improvement here, but seeing how the mod hasn't been updated in over a year, I don't think we'll be seeing any continued support for this project. At least, not in the near future.

AFAIK the mod creator is currently busy with DS3 Archthrones, as well as The Convergence for Elden Ring, so I wouldn't hold my breath. Overall, I just want to say that I find it amazing how talented the people who worked on this are, how much it reinvigorated my love for DS3 and how interesting the experience it gave me was. With Cinders, I was more then ready to deinstall it after I finished my first playthrough. Here though, I'm already planning my next few.

There is still SO MUCH STUFF I haven't even touched on. I probably barely even covered 50% of what this mod does. And that's even though this post is already so fucking long lol
I can't recommend this mod enough.

9/10

Saw this pitched as a F.E.A.R successor, and while that’s totally accurate, with Merc radio chatter ASMR and a shotgun so good it caused my FPS to drop every time I fired it, that isn’t the whole story. Levels are pretty massive, marrying naturalistic design that really sells you on the claustrophobic reality of life on Mars, with spaces packed full of secret weapons and armor pickups- and, maybe most importantly, where you can indulge your Build Engine tendencies of messing with everything that isn’t nailed down. Even just the demo, where most doors are locked until the full release, was sprawling and interconnected enough to get well and truly lost. It's a cool combination, and with the tasteful inclusion of more modern elements, like having your health regenerate just enough that you can scrape through fights that a more strictly faithful title might have you savescum through, it pushes past some of homogeneity that’s been creeping into the Retro Shooter revival, and certainly seems like more just a spiritual successor.

But yeah, the shootouts are surprisingly tense, forcing you into these great cat-and-mouse encounters where you’ll have to track enemies through sound design and their increasingly frantic callouts alone- and it’s balanced well against their hitscan weapons, levels so densely packed that you can always break line of sight. Definitely recommend pushing difficulty high enough that even a lone soldier is something you’ll have to psych yourself up for.

Hard to say if it’ll follow through with some of the big ideas it’s hinting at, but one worth keeping an eye on.

You start the game thinking it's gonna be Kurosawa's Sanjuro but turns out Fromsoft ended up taking after Kurosawa's High and Low ( cause the game is both amazing and terribel haha )

On today’s edition of 'Guy Playing Old Games And Getting Shocked at How Playable They Still Are': System Shock 2.

Not quite System Shock 1 and not quite Deus Ex, this one sits in a bit of an awkward position. The game puts a lot more emphasis on the RPG elements and character building, but it doesn’t quite have the type of openness and variety in the level design to facilitate some of the playstyles and make associated builds viable or satisfying to play with. Personally, I half-intuited and half-lucked into what seemed like a pretty optimal one, but still couldn’t shake the feeling that a lot of the tools just aren’t all that useful (repair, modify, exotics, research, you get the gist). Even the ones that are don’t feel as impactful as in, say, Deus Ex. What further adds to this issue is that the same RPG elements also serve to narrow down the player’s options compared to what’s available to every character in System Shock 1, potentially making some situations pretty annoying to deal with.

Despite the shortcomings, System Shock 2 is still a joy to play through. That is mostly due to the masterfully built atmosphere aboard the Von Braun. The environments are dense and immersive, the enemies are spooky, the sounds are unsettling, and the audio logs are plentiful. While the rewards for exploration themselves aren’t always that exciting, you will still want to see as much of the ship as you can so you don’t miss a piece of a random side character’s story or a tape of some janitor being actively eaten by aliens at the time of recording. Even though the level design in SS2 isn’t quite as ingenious as in its predecessor or successor, it’s very impressive how much sense the layouts themselves make, and how skulking around the ship doesn’t get boring until (arguably) the last couple of levels.
As mentioned before, the game feel is also surprisingly good - arguably even better than Deus Ex since your character generally shoots wherever the reticule is without having to wait 5-10 working days for it to stabilize first. This means that the game is surprisingly easy to pick up and play even in 2024. The movement has a bit of physicality to it, similar to Thief - just enough to give the character some weight but not to the point where you get stuck on every corner and object. I definitely wish there were some more mobility options or choices to be made in that department aside from just leveling agility or snorting a speed booster, but what is there works.
The transition to a proper RPG with stats and builds and a variety of different playstyles, no matter how conflicted I may personally be on the idea, also brings an undeniably higher level of replayability. Playthroughs have the potential to be drastically different from one another in terms of equipment used and, to a degree, approaches to encounters. There’s a pretty solid assortment of weapons (which you are likely only going to be able to use a fraction of until the last hours of the game) and spells to use as well.

All that said, returning to the opening point, I still preferred the first game to the sequel. There are a number of reasons for that, so here’s a lightning round of idle complaints for a 25-year-old game - a few ways in which I think SS1 overshadows the sequel:
*) At the moment, I’ve only played the SS1 remake. But from what I’ve heard, it’s very similar to the original in most ways that matter, so I’ll be basing my judgement on that. Am I a hack fraud? Sure. Not like there's much else to compare it to either way though, and I'll be sure to revisit once I play the OG SS1, which is likely to happen at some point.
1) Keeping tools available and relevant, and making you learn and pick the right one for the task at hand. In SS1, you are pretty much guaranteed to have access to both energy and ballistic weapons, as well as an assortment of grenades. You are free to choose how to use them to approach any sort of enemy you encounter. Meanwhile, System Shock 2 requires that you invest in those skills before they are even usable, let alone useful.
2) Level and overall game progression - where the first game really forced you to pay attention to your surroundings and the things you were doing in both the local and global context, this one feels a lot more like a straightforward string of quests, following directions from the powers that be. In a more local, level-restricted context, rarely, if ever, does System Shock 2 present you with a problem like “how do I get there” - through a locked door, over a wide gap, etc. There are just fewer roadblocks to try and find your way around.
3) Implants and powers - implants can still be great, but you are limited to 1-2 at a time, and to change the effect you need to swap it out in the inventory. It adds a whole lot of unnecessary fiddling, like swapping over to the organ to eat some worms and swapping back. Implants are a lot more boring/less game-altering in general with nothing that would really impact your mobility options or playstyle.
4) Shodan’s involvement - her introduction in 2 is fantastic, but for how prominent she is in all the marketing materials, her role is really quite small, reduced from a proper rich antagonist to a mere voice hissing at you from the comm link every now and then. This also leads to fewer interesting situations arising directly around the player since Xerxes, the new AI antagonist, is a lot less reactive and aware of your actions.

Finishing thoughts: absolutely no regrets over playing it. Grabs your attention and holds it through both the gameplay systems and the plot; shooting is fun, sneaking around and exploring is great (for the most part), easy recommend even for those who don't generally vibe with the survival horror genre (like myself). Don't go in expecting Prey levels of interactivity/variability and you'll be in for a wonderful time.

This is one of the most creative and clever point-and-clicks I've ever played. Unfortunately, there's a large portion lampooning pay-to-win idle clicker mobile games, and the game's commitment to the bit turns that segment into a bad time, though the game recovers and ends quite strongly.

As the title states, there is no game here! Nope. Just a locked-down title screen. But while you're there, you might as well mess around to see if you can find something to do.

If you're a fan of classic Lucasarts or Sierra adventure games, and if you enjoyed the meta humor and story of The Stanley Parable, you should definitely go into this game without learning anything else! The story is fantastically clever and engrossing, and the whole thing is only about 4 hours long. I waited for a sale ($9 instead of $13) and I honestly feel stupid for waiting that long to save 4 dollars. This game is absolutely worth it at full price, though you can get it for $5 on mobile. Since the experience is mostly comprised of clicking and/or tapping, it shouldn't be an inferior experience on a phone. Just be ready for a tedious middle segment (in which the tedium is meant as a joke) that overstays its welcome a bit, and trust that the ending will absolutely be worth it.

Been wanting to replay this and realized they released this shit on Steam and GOG earlier this year, so of course I had to cop it. Had this game as a kid (and i still have the physical CD!) and I loved playing it (even though I think I only played the first couple levels mainly). Still love playing it! This type of Frogger game play (they call it "avoid-em-up" in the Steam description lol) is awesome and I wish more fucking games did it!!! Love the level themes, the vibes, the music; all dope.

There’s a part of this where you can only see the boss you’re fighting through a rearview mirror and have to damage him by judging which of the three trains you’re running along the top of to decouple behind you, which is immediately followed up by having to raise a series of platforms said boss’ baby is standing on to prevent him from dipping your co-protagonist into rising lava via crane, both while dodging hails of projectiles. These just about make the top fifteen or so wildest scenarios in the game, maybe.

If Successor of the Skies (PAL supremacy) sounds crazy, that’s because it is, though it’s crazy with a purpose. Its mechanics seem straightforward enough initially: either flying or grounded, the player’s tools are exclusively shooting, charging up a more powerful shot, melee attacks or a dodge, and these are never added to from start to finish beyond minor alterations during certain setpieces. Only when you’re thrust into a genuinely overwhelming slarry of obstacles littering the screen from every angle is it that you’re driven to discover these moves’ less obvious nuances. The level I’ve referenced in the first paragraph has a great example of this, with a sequence in which enemies who are resistant to gunfire but get OHKO’d by melee attacks charge at you in such a rhythm that doing the full melee combo’s liable to get you hit (thereby teaching you that doing just its first one or two hits is sometimes preferable), but this kind of thing’s present in other areas too. A favourite of mine is how it handles parrying bosses – instead of telegraphing which attacks can be countered with a lens flare or something, as you might expect from other action games, you’re trusted to put two and two together when a boss enters the foreground and the intrusive thought of “What if I try kicking this gigantic claw swipe out of the way?” takes hold. Be it these, gauging just how much charge a shot needs to stun a given enemy or reflecting explosive projectiles back via melee, every interaction’s connected by the philosophy of nudging the player in the right direction without explicitly telling them.

How consistently intuitive it manages to be’s pretty staggering when you consider not just this hands-off approach, but also the creativity bursting out of it at every turn. As impossible as it is not to involuntarily grin at sights like a gruff military general splitting into three giant dolphins made of ink or a supersized lion wrapping a vulture around itself to become a griffon, it runs deeper than just presentational or conceptual levels. When a nominal rail shooter switches dimensions to chuck you into scenarios like a swordfight against a flying samurai lady or a fistfight in which you’re tethered to a particular spot on the floor, it’s tempting to think of these as borderline genre switches until the initial wow factor wears off and you realise that the moveset you’re utilising hasn’t really changed throughout the whole ride. As aforementioned, it’s never added to, though it is occasionally diminished to spice things up; apart from those examples, the segment following my favourite line in the game is an especially strong instance of design by subtraction, forcing you to approach familiar enemies differently both via said alien donkey/bike’s inability to fly and restricting your ability to fire if you hit the railings at each side of the screen. What gets me isn't just the fact the few tools at your disposal are versatile enough to be twisted into situations like this while never once feeling disparate from standard gameplay, it’s also that this isn’t even the only time that the borders of your screen are weaponised against you.

When the fact that you can legitimately never guess what’s up next on a minute-per-minute basis combines with the sheer amount of nonsense you have to navigate through at any given time, it’d be reasonable to worry about visual clarity becoming an issue, but it remarkably never does. There are enough actors, other interactable assets and particle effects jumping around that I frequently find myself wondering how Treasure got it running so smoothly on the Wii, although the hardware’s probably due thanks in this regard. Character models and environments being only so detailed hits a sweet spot in the same way that the visuals of the previous console generation did, teasing at realism enough to be immediately understandable while still being abstract and stylised enough to stoke the player’s imagination as to what else is out there in this bizarre vision of the future. It’d be myopic to attribute it all to working around technical limitations, though; the relatively muted palettes of levels’ backgrounds are clearly an intentional decision given just how much they help all the vital information pop out, from the seas of mooks you can’t take your eyes off of to the brightly coloured timer/score multiplier lining your peripheral vision. It’s a wonderful translation of art to game, which I think this wallpaper I can’t find the source of exemplifies pretty well (you’re welcome).

Although I like to waffle on about how much I value a game feeling focused, I’m pretty used to reading the parts of games I enjoy the most and which I couldn’t imagine them without written off by others as “bloat” or something similar to a point that my brain sometimes autotranslates it to “the fun parts.” Successor of the Skies is different to many of my favourites in that I genuinely can’t think of anything extraneous in it. So much as the file select music you hear when booting up the game is pitch perfect in terms of how well it sets the tone for what you can expect over the course of the next few hours, with all its boisterousness and excitement and undercurrents of melancholy. Don’t let how over the top it is fool you – not many games understand themselves as well as this one.

Donkey Kong Country 2 took everything that made its predacessor great and cranked it up to 11. I seriously mean everything. The visuals, the music, the gameplay, the levels, the story are all major upgrades from an already fantastic platformer.

While the story isn't great it is much better than the original. The original is legitamately Kaptain King K. Rool stole all of Donkey Kong's hoard of bananas. In DKC2 the stakes are raised from bananas to Donkey Kong’s life as he is kidnapped by King K. Rool. It's now up to Diddy Kong and newly introduced Dixie Kong to save the day. Dixie and Diddy are far and away my favorite two characters in the franchise so it was so much fun to have the entire game revolve around them. The gameplay is smooth and feels great even today. To be fair the original DKC also had smooth gameplay but I always found myself using the limber and quick Diddy over the lumbering DK. In DKC2 Diddy controls identically to the original DKC but now instead of a slower based powerful DK you get a second quick character in Dixie Kong. Plus Dixie comes with my favorite movement in the entire series with her hair spin which functions similarly to Peach's float mechanic in the Mario series. You will absolutely need that hairspin as this game is very difficult, especially the bonus stages. Every world out side of the first is sprinkled with a few very difficult levels which I appreciate.

The levels in DKC 2 put other platformers of this generation to shame. From a pirate ship, to a volcano, to a swamp, to a run down amusement park, to a giant castle this game takes you to many different locations that all feel fleshed out and keep the levels intersting and fresh. Not to mention they are gorgeous graphically. In my opinion it is some of the best graphics of the entire SNES library. The pirate, amusement park, and the bee hive levels absolutely pop with vibrant and beautiful color schemes. The swamp, castle, and volacono have a completely different tone with a much darker palette but equal in beauty just in a much different way. The animations on the enemies and the Kongs were top notch for the time. My favorite animation, which is also one of my favorites of all time, is when you complete a level and Diddy Kong breaks outs a boom box and starts rapping while Dixie pulls out a guitar and start slaying. It’s also very fitting that they celebrate their victory with music as this game with out a doubt has a top tier sound track of all time. As many great qualities that DKC boasts the star of the game is the abusrdly beautiful OST.

DKC2 is rightfully thought of as one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time and this is absolutely a game you should play.

My favorite 100 games of all time:
https://www.backloggd.com/u/DVince89/list/my-favorite-100-video-game-of-all-time/

Polyphony Digital at the time of of writing this review have made 17 games since their founding in 1994. 16 of these are racing games with Omega Boost, a 3D mech action game being the one outlier in their repertoire. With the lead programmer on Omega Boost being Yuji Yasuhara (Panzer Dragoon Zwei), the mech designs by Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Visions of Escaflowne, Transformers) it's kind of amazing this is somewhat of a hidden gem considering the pedigree behind it.

And the thing is, a gem it really is. This is the first time I've played it in the 25 years since it's original release and it's amazing how well it holds up. The most impressive thing about it is actually the control scheme. It's simple yet highly effective at allowing players to traverse 3D environments having dog fights with a variety of enemies. It essentially uses 5 buttons. Boost, fire, special, hover and lock on. That's it. Your mech, The Omega Boost will always move forward unless you hover which will lock you in place from auto moving. This with the lock on that will auto target you facing the nearest enemy allows for a surprising degree of control in aiming, moving and shooting all at once that still holds up better than some more recent games. Once used to them you can strafe around targets, stop to fire, boost away and reacquire all with ease.

It has a very arcade feel to it with only two main weapons of a rapid fire gun and homing lasers when held down called boost. You get a special with a bar that builds up that does great damage but can only use sparingly but there are no other options or upgrades so to speak. There are 9 levels in total and each one you get scored on for how quickly you can beat them and the amount of enemies killed which can unlock more boost lock on segments to hit more targets at once. The game probably takes an hour or so to beat if you play straight and know what you are doing but it took me longer due to the aforementioned roots above. You only get 5 continues and only recover a chunk of life at the end of each level rather than starting full. I can think of no reason to do this other than to create an artificial difficulty. Honestly, I found it really pointlessly annoying as I would have almost full health but not quite at the start of each level. Just why?

The levels themselves are pretty varied and have this great chunky mechanical industrial feel to them that PSX visuals did so well. Initially I thought this would be a purely space based shooter but very early on you end up fighting ships in planet atmospheres watching them explode onto the planet as you destroy them, artificial tunnels with giant robots, sand plains with floating embers like a giant fire in the darkness as you fight a variety of enemies with some really creative bosses. I really hated the final couple of levels though with a needless difficulty spike. One of them has an annoying timer to beat two bosses then a very tough mini boss rush to finish that feel a little thrown together with no level before them. Maybe on sequential play throughs that would be easier but with only 5 continues and having to start the whole level over if you die it's just needlessly brutal.

The story is kind of basic. Essentially you are trying to go back in time to prevent a catastrophe where humanity are losing a war with an AI. It's presented in cutscenes that use a mixture of live action actors and CGI. The opening video if left to play seems to have a surprisingly high budget of a command centre, getting into the Omega Boost and flying off all to a completely out of place rock song. The rest of the music except the end credits sound more like something from Nier which I feel fit the aesthetic far better. The music feels bizarrely inconsistent in places though I like the actual cutscenes themselves, extremely 90's and I mean that in the best way.

So even with it's minor flaws, Omega Boost is a pretty crazy intense game that looks amazing. To think Polphony Digital made this cool 3D mech game and then went on to make nothing but racing games forever more will never not feel like wasted potential to me.

The US TV advert for Omega Boost as an extra.

+ Controls are really fluid, they hold up amazingly well.
+ Varied levels and fantastic visuals.
+ Some great music....

-....Also some really out of place music. It's like someone's put their rock track over the opening and ending videos for no reason.
- Brutal continue system and life recovery between levels just take some of the fun away from actually playing the game.