Back again with another ACTUAL Game Impressions post. Again, these are games that are either unfinished or that I simply did not want to cover for my ACTUAL Review series.
Smoke and Sacrifice
This one is a relatively average indie RPG adventure with a pretty nice art style. In fact, I was drawn to the game due to this art style, only to find out that the rest of the game does not match its quality.
My biggest complaint with the game would be its combat – it feels floaty. Hitboxes are sometimes larger than they appear and sometimes smaller. I would oftentimes be able to swing left or right and hit an enemy that was above or below me, not within the range of the swing. I believe this issue has to do with the game’s perspective. This perspective also causes another issue: that of some objects appearing to float, not being attached to the ground. This is due to the weird parallax effect that the game uses when moving around.
Outside of that though, the overall gameplay is just not satisfying. The crafting system is nice in theory, but it becomes really annoying having to constantly repair and rebuild tools and weapons. The game’s net, for example, has maybe ten uses before it breaks, then requiring the player to build another one. Sure, it can be repaired before then, but the idea of opening the inventory to repair it after every bug-hunting session is just annoying. The game’s weapons at least last a bit longer, but still fall victim to the same cycle.
Most of the game’s quests are pretty boring too. They would oftentimes take the form of fetch quests or something similar. For example, one quest had me going to repair two switches to activate a workbench. Once I reached each switch, all I needed to do was go in my inventory and place a branch to act as a lever, then head back. After traveling back to the character that assigned me the quest, I was immediately assigned another quest to go get food for this character. Unfortunately, a lot of the quests I completed were like this.
Another issue is how limited the settings are. The game does not allow any of the controls to be rebound and there are only two video options (full screen and resolution). I even looked around for a config or some sort of INI file outside of the game, but was unable to find one. For a game released in 2018, this is pretty much unacceptable. There needs to be some way to rebind controls at the bare minimum. The game does not even have a main menu, but that did not bother me all that much. It was a bit surprising to be dropped right into gameplay without being able to change settings though.
I cannot recommend Smoke and Sacrifice, it simply has too many issues and is just a bore to play. The art style is really good, I will at least give the game that, but redeeming features outside of that are few in number. There are far better options out there for this type of game.
If you have ever wanted to participate in a Japanese game show (at least virtually), then Nippon Marathon is the game for you. Currently in Early Access, Nippon Marathon allows up to four players to duke it out on four maps, racing each other to victory in glorious Japanese game style fashion. The game is extremely limited in terms of content, but the content that is there is a blast to play.
As it stands, Nippon Marathon only has four maps for its main game mode and a separate party game titled L.O.B.S.T.E.R. The main game mode has the four players racing each other towards the end of a course, all while avoiding the silly obstacles the game throws at them (such as packs of Shiba Inus or giant fish flopping about). Players are then scored based on their finishing position, popularity, and sticker count (such as “most bitten” or “smelliest player”). The L.O.B.S.T.E.R. party game basically plays like a traditional Japanese game show obstacle course (or the US game show equivalent: Wipeout). The map in this mode appears to be randomly generated, with players taking turns running each variation. Scores are then tallied up at the end, same as with the main game mode.
The game is a bit rough around the edges, but it actually adds to the experience in some cases. For example, the game’s physics are so bizarre that it is just hilarious to see some of the stuff that can be done. Impossible jumps can be performed, falling down a cliff can be spectacular, and diving throws players so far that it is just laughable. A friend that I played the game with managed to get himself stuck in a shopping cart doing so, landing at just the right angle to end up curled up in a ball, ready for checkout.
However, we did run into one legitimate technical issue, having to do with controller reconnecting. Disconnecting and reconnecting a controller during play appears to remove said player from play, instead assigning them to a slot that was previously occupied by a bot. I played the game with two players, and when player two disconnected, he was assigned to player three instead of being assigned back to player two. For the rest of that marathon, player two’s previous character just stood there. A seemingly minor issue, but can potentially cost a player the game, as they lose all of his/her score when re-assigned to another player slot.
I do recommend Nippon Marathon, but not as a solo title. This is the type of game that is just not the same when played solo. It is also worth noting that the game is severely lacking in content in its current state. The content there is fun, but it may be worth waiting for more content to be added before purchasing.
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
I consider myself to be a fan of strategy games, yet I have never touched a game in the Total War series (pretty bad, I know), so Thrones of Britannia ended up being my first. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a mistake.
Before getting into that, I will discuss a few elements that I enjoyed. Total War’s signature take on turn-based strategy with real-time tactics is all there and excellently implemented. The whole ancestry tree was really cool and the vassal loyalty/influence system, while overwhelming at first, turned out to be quite the feature, even if it can be tedious. The game has numerous other neat features and a massive amount of content to go through on top of that, but, despite all of this, the game just grows boring way too quickly.
This is in part due to how long it takes to get anything done in the game. Perhaps I am just doing something wrong, but it simply did not feel like I was making any progress in the game’s first campaign even after several hours. It certainly does not help that the loading time between each turn lasts an eternity. The map is huge, so I expected some waiting, but this amount of waiting is just painful. Maybe if I had one of those $2000 i9’s the wait would not be as long, but for a CPU that far exceeds the game’s recommended CPU, I expected better.
I cannot say I recommend the title, but this is coming from someone that has little experience with the Total War series (but plenty of strategy experience elsewhere), so do keep that in mind. The game’s slow pace really helped to kill any sort of interest I had pretty early on, which is quite unfortunate as I really wanted to get into the Total War series. However, looking at the discussion around this game, this sentiment seems to be shared by the majority, even among the hardcore Total War fans. As such, I will be trying my luck with one of the earlier titles (probably Shogun or Medieval) and giving this one a pass.
I was provided free review copies of the games featured here. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.