This was my first experience with FromSoftware’s 'Souls-like' games, so there’s a lot of new literacy and things I had to unlearn about “action” games. It’s been fascinating and rewarding.
I think the most impactful difference in gameplay here is the stamina bar. Having to essentially manage the amount of "action" you can do in short bursts is a massive change in the rhythm, pacing, and approach to battles. And it's genius. It makes every single encounter meaningful; you cannot just mindlessly attack until the enemy is gone. You must be more strategic, plan better the amount of attacks you can try, when to retrieve, and generally be more observant of the enemies. It results in a highly engaging combat system.
The game world is fantastically realized. It’s always a bit impressive when you’re exploring deep into an area and then you reach a gate or ladder that takes you back to an early part of the world, and you realize how intricate and connected the whole thing is.
I love the setting and the architecture.
The atmosphere is dark, tense, sometimes hopeless and eventually terrifying. For me, playing this in online mode is essential, as reading notes, seeing the white ghosts of other players right there you with you makes the whole journey much less tense and endurable.
The story is vague and has to be discovered and dug out by the player, which is very different and more engaging. Relying on notes scarcely scattered all over the game, short monologues from the characters you encounter, and item descriptions for storytelling results in a story open for ample interpretations and mystery, but it also encourages for inquisitiveness during exploration.
The second biggest impactful difference in the game’s design is the lack of any sort of map. I love this; every game that offers a map should always provide an option to disable it, and I always do disable them on the ones that do. Not having a map makes for a more immersive exploration of the world, and it works to great effects in Bloodborne. You get to know and familiarize with every single corner of this world.
Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the areas that are not set in the cities or more “civilized” settings (like the Forbidden Woods) - they felt less engrossing and a bit cheap.
And yes, the game is very challenging, and strangely, it feels specially difficult at the beginning. But I do believe that in order to overcome the initial spike, you need mostly to be patient and receptive of what the game is trying to teach you through its mechanics instead of expecting a traditional over-expository tutorial. Everything has to be discovered on your own, but every discovery is rewarding and worthwhile.
While I don’t have a big problem with the frame-rate in general, it does sometimes feel a bit sluggish, which is a shame. But considering its age - it’s a 5-year-old game - I find it technically ok. Having said that, it is very weird how there’s no lip or mouth movements when characters speak - it feels very outdated.
Ultimately, Bloodborne was a remarkable and different experience that I overall am very glad with having completed.
Admittedly one of the reasons I got this game, besides the prospect of a good single-player Star Wars game-story, was the comparisons to a Souls-like that the game kept getting. Being recently obsessed with Bloodborne, those comparisons made Fallen Order very appealing to me. And I gotta say, a lot of the characteristics of those games are present here indeed, albeit on a more accessible fashion. However, in order to get a similar level of challenge/difficulty you have to play on the Jedi Grand Master difficulty level. I also remapped some buttons so the main attacks were done on the right triggers.
On a technical level, the game feels somewhat unpolished; noticeably long loading times that still don’t prevent from very bad character models pop-ins (sometimes they even pop in t-poses) and late texture loads as well and regular frame rate jankiness all add up to an less than great experience that I’m honestly not used to, coming from mostly playing Playstation Studio’s games.
The worse thing are these desperately long loading times after you’re killed. It feels like a punishment and a (bad and unintentional) incentive for really striving to stay alive. And while dying at this highest difficulty level, just like on the Souls games, is expected to be a regular thing, the horrible loading times makes it really frustrating overall.
Those were not the only technical issue I’ve found with the game, I’m afraid; on one cutscene, whenever there was a camera switch there was full 1-second pause of the scene, and there were a lot of switches. It was pretty jarring. Elsewhere, after respawning (which again, takes close to a minute of loading) the enemies were not shown for a good 3 seconds and then suddenly they’d just pop up; what the hell was all that previous loading time for?! The very first time this happened, I assumed the area no longer had enemies, went forward, and then suddenly I was surrounded by a bunch of troopers. It was bad.
It’s a shame the game is plagued with so many technical hiccups. But I guess I’m patient and also a sucker for Star Wars, so I got over those problems and manage to enjoy everything else the game offers, which happens to be great (it also helped that I got the game on a very good PSN sale at most than half the normal price).
Everything else the game has to offer is excellent.
The characters are fantastic; funny, charming, and are well-developed throughout the story. Cal is a great protagonist, and BD-1 is super lovely - quickly becoming my favourite Star Wars droid. Greez, even a secondary character, is also great.
The story is full is of nice turn and great, emotional surprises, and it keeps escalating in excitement and stakes all the way to the end - oh and what an ending.
Overall it’s a deeply well written Star Wars story that respects and expands the mythos in interesting and rewarding ways.
Finally, the gameplay is fun and challenging. It’s a combination of metroidvanias - with level design where paths are blocked by yet-unlocked-abilities and rewarding of inquisitive exploration - and Soulsborne games - tight, parry-based combat; respawning enemies, and challenging but satisfying enemy gauntlets and boss fights - which works very nicely when put all together.
There’s a couple of things design-wise that didn’t feel right to me, however; first is that every time you ‘rest’ in a meditation spot to fully heal, all the enemies in the world are respawned. Although this might make sense from a gameplay point of view, it just doesn’t make any sense from a lore perspective; it might be fine for the Souls-game but it doesn’t particularly fit within Star Wars. Second was that the Force bar gets depleted and only way to recover it is by perfect-parrying, and later on perfect-dodging or healing. This also feels wrong within Star Wars becase Jedi don’t just run out of “force-juice”, and it’s even weirder because Cal can force-push, pull, and slow things as much as he likes, but the moment it does it on an enemy, there’s suddenly a limit to it. It would have made more sense to at least treat it as stamina somehow. Admittedly these are all minor, maybe nitpicky things, though.
All in all, Jedi: Fallen Order is a great Star Wars game, with an excellent and emotional story, memorable characters, stunning worlds, and gameplay that does an fantastic job at giving you the powers of a Jedi. But it’s ultimately bogged down by some egregious lack of technical polish.
Still, looking forward to the sequel and seeing more of BD-1!
It is a shame that some emotional and important story moments and revelations are dealt with in a cheap and shallow way, some of them barely relegated to an off-screen conversation. It makes the game feel rushed in an unpleasant way.
The more I played the more it became clear that this is indeed an iteration of the original game.
The closest similar case I can remember is Infamous Second Son and First Light, where the latter is an expansion of the former, but the main character of First Light actually plays and feels different from the main character of Second Son. Which makes sense since they have very different powers, whereas Miles and Peter do have essentially the same powers, obviously. The problem is, in the game, while it looks like Miles is still getting the hang of being Spider-Man (some of his animations when swinging indicate as much, and the story deals with this) when it’s time to play, Miles actually plays just like ‘Peter with extra powers’. It would have been interesting to explore Miles’ limitations of “just starting to become Spider-Man” through gameplay, like not having all the physical abilities Peter does or being less effective at some of them. But so far, he just has some different gadgets, the same abilities, and actually more powers than Peter!
The core game is fun, although not very challenging. I love swinging through NYC and Miles animations make it all that much more enjoyable.
Most importantly, I love these characters, and while some of the story beats are not as nicely executed as I would have liked, the overall story and the treatment of these beloved characters is ultimately very satisfying.
Just as the first one, the story grabs you right from the start. And just like the first one, it’s visually stunning and its music is truly wonderful.
The fluidity of movement feels great, and the combat is super satisfying. When those set pieces where you have to quickly and acrobatically escape some big danger happen, the swiftness and precision of the controls shine the most, it’s satisfying to both play it and watch it.
It took me a little while to get used to assigning the different abilities to 3 buttons at a time, but it ended up being a great way to quickly change actions and strategies, even during battles.
And those boss battles - what a spectacle. Challenging, stunning and so gratifying.
One time for a little while it felt like there was some randomly longer-than-usual loading times for even opening the inventory or the pause menus, as well as visual hiccups where I’d see environments and characters slowly popup, which was very grating given the sheer fluidness of the game otherwise. And the I got an error and the game shut down entirely. Very strange but it was one time.
One of the new things I really love about this one is the large roster of friendly characters in the world. They’re all wonderfully designed, voiced, and animated. Tokk, Opher, Lupo, Kworok, Lewin, and the others.
The story, all the way to the conclusion impresses with its little reliance on dialogue, favoring beautiful animations and the fantastic music score to elevate the highly emotional beats of the bittersweet tale.
The excellent combination of satisfying movement, tight platforming, fun combat, incredible set pieces, beautiful music, and stunning visuals and animation makes Ori one of my favorite games of 2020, and indeed of the Switch in general.
This game freaking shreds. What an achievement, truly.
Hades has cemented Supergiant Games as one the finest independent development companies around, and surely my favourite.
There’s so much style in here. The visuals are beautiful and uniquely Supergiant, as is the amazing, heavy, and fusion-induced soundtrack - all hail Darren Korb.
Rogue-likes have never been appealing to me, and I only gave Hades a chance because it was a Supergiant one. And I love it. The way it’s all deeply integrated into the setting and the story - it’s satisfying and never a bad thing to “die” and go back to the beginning- to the house full of amazing characters to talk to and further develop their relationship and move the story forward.
And those characters. Their monologues and their dialogues are so well written and excellently acted - the voice acting is superb and it perfectly elevated each character’s personality and mood at any given moment.
And the fact that you never experience the same comment or the same conversations with them is just nuts. Remarkable work there.
Having gotten the game’s credits now, I’m absolutely satisfied with Hades. But what’s so much better as that there’s still lots and lots of stories to see through and so much game mechanics to be explored.
An all encompassing fun experience.
The orchestral soundtrack elevates the game right from the start. The game oozes charm. It’s a visual treat. And the gameplay and mechanics are oh so satisfying.
It’s not a full 5-star game because of the unnecessary motion controls even for /the freaking menus/. It’s not enough that the actual gameplay should not require motion controls, but that even for selecting your save file you need motion stuff with no options for better accessibility is frankly horrendous. The only taint on this otherwise fantastic game.
- An impressive technical achievement. How the acting and the animations bring the characters to life is so incredibly good.
- The atmosphere is perfect. So tense, dark, scary, hopeless.
- I love Seattle (one of the few US cities I’ve visited), and seeing it taken over by nature and decay but still so recognizable was very cool. Wonderfully done.
* The “mini open-world” section of Downtown Seattle was great. Not so big that it could be overwhelming but big enough that it felt rewarding to explore as much of it as possible.
* I loved the open-ended design of the encounter locations. So good to be given so many ways to approach the encounters in terms of the layouts of the levels.
* The “Naughty Dog polish” is ever present here. The little details, the casual conversations and quips throughout, the well-crafted interiors of the countless houses and apartments - all felt so realistically unique.
* Loved the new characters. Fan of Dina. Fan of Lev.
* Loved the story. I read someone saying that it’s impressive how the game takes you from hating and raging againts a character at the beginning, to having compassion for them at the end. I couldn’t agree more. A great storytelling achievement.
* I’m Team Abby.
* On way too many occasions, the editing made me think I had reached the end of the game. The cut to blacks were a bit over-used, I felt.
* I think it was a reflection of how gripped I was by the story that I wanted to reach the conclusion so bad - I wanted to know how these characters’ arcs would end - that at some point I started thinking that the game was too long. Looking back, I can see that given the ambitious story they wanted to tell, and the character explorations they achieved, I appreciate the time it takes for it.
* I guess by the end I was already used (maybe desensitized) by it, but I remember being very shocked by the oh-so-detailed, graphic, and seemingly realistic gore and violence of the game during the first hours. It’s a testament to how excellent is the overall execution of the acting, animation, and visual development.
* The guitar playing! Oh my. As a guitar player myself, I loved how the guitar was such an important part of the story itself! And of course, the level of detail of the guitar-playing sequences was fantastic.
* The musical work, unsurprisingly, was masterful.
* Maybe it was simply because I was always scavenging every corner, nook, and cranny of every place I went though for crafting materials and ammo, and I tried to be as stealthy in the encounters as I possibly could, but I never ran out of ammo for any of my weapons. (Also, I played on Moderate difficulty so that probably helped).
The presentation- amazing pixel art with great and fluid animations, and an interested setting that takes from spanish catholic symbols and themes and twists them to creepier highs- was what pulled my attention to this game.
After getting the "true ending", 12 hours later, I'm satisfied with the experience, mostly thanks to the aforementioned setting and presentation.
Gameplay-wise, there's nothing really outstanding about it, for better or worse. The platforming sometimes felt a bit uninspiring and unpolished. The combat was fun and tight, and the progression felt good and rewarding.
Indeed, the most memorable moments are the boss fights. Visually stunning, twisted, and creepy creatures that provide the biggest challenges, all backed up by this religion-gone-super-creepy imagery made for a very good experience.
Just wish the rest was better polished.
Overall, a fantastic package, with one of the games being among my top 5 favourite of all time.
Symphony Of The Night is a great here as the PSX version, with some changes here and there, most notably different voice acting - which while technically better in terms of delivery, lacks the charm of the original, cheesy one.
A big addition is the option to play as Maria once you finish the game once.
The fantastic OST, expansive castle and fluid gameplay still shine.
Love how great the cities are to walk through and enjoy. Really had fun with the combat and specially the side stories. The Cabaret Club sub-game is addictively fun. And the main story is filled with great characters and absurd but fun moments.
The overall package doesn’t have as much substance as Yakuza 0, but it’s still a fantastic experience.
An uniquely bizarre, technically and visually stunning, tense and fun, and ultimately rewarding experience.
This is Hideo Kojima unchained, for better or worse.
While there were some minor, mildly annoying things -like some UI animations taking too long and otherwise requiring too many inputs to skip, and some heavy handed and a bit shallow dialogues and exposition- the excellency and depth of the gameplay, the rewarding asynchronous social networking mechanics, and a engaging group of characters makes the whole thing so brilliant it outshines any of those minor issues.
One of my favourite games of this generation. I'm so glad such a different and experimental game exists on the high-calibre, Triple-A level.
Absolutely fantastic experience!
Very high production values; the visual style, animations, the environments, the music. It’s all top-notch excellency.
Challenging but never frustrating and super rewarding.
And best of all, it takes less than 11 hours to fully complete it (on normal difficulty). Perfect length for a game, in my books.