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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:05 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 17
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ - Steam - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23

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Despite being the first game in the "Trails" sub-series of Falcom's Legend of Heroes series (which itself started as a sub-series of their Dragon Slayer series), this was not my first exposure to the series. This is actually the third game in the series that I've played. I had started off doing a replay of Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II since I just got Cold Steel III and Cold Steel IV, but popo was like "Dude, no, you need to play Trails in the Sky before you play Cold Steel III; you'll appreciate the characters more." So I was like okay, sure, I have time to play a trilogy of 40 hour RPGs in the middle of my tetralogy of 60 hour RPGs, no problem. Since I have no life, it's actually not a problem.

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Trails in the Sky takes place in the Kingdom of Liberl in the southwestern corner of the continent of Zemuria with the Erebonian Empire to the north and the Calvard Republic to the east. The story revolves around Estelle and Joshua Bright, two up-and-coming junior members of the Bracer Guild and siblings (although Joshua was adopted five years ago at the age of 11, so they're not *really* siblings). Their father is the legendary hero of the Hundred Day War against Erebonia turned S-rank bracer, Cassius Bright. Cassius leaves on Bracer business right as Joshua and Estelle become Junior Bracers and begin their journey across the kingdom to become full-fledged Bracers. To do this, they'll have to do something worth getting a recommendation from each of the kingdom's five Bracer branches. Of course, as their journey progresses, international conspiracy and potentially civilization altering plot events occur.

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Having been spoiled by Trails of Cold Steel, it took me a while to get into Trails in the Sky. The characters here are very well developed, but there's no voice acting in Trails in the Sky, and the characters are all 2D models rather than 3D sprites, both of which made it a bit harder for me to really connect with the characters. It's also a very slow burning game; the story doesn't really pick up speed and get really good until over halfway through. Once it does get some momentum and get going, though, the story gets extremely interesting. In that respect, it does feel a lot like a more primitive Trails of Cold Steel as that game also took a while to really get going but really sank its hooks in you once it got that momentum built up.

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The combat is pretty standard JRPG fair. You begin combat by touching an enemy on the overworld. If you touch them from behind, you start the battle with the advantage and get a couple extra moves; if you hit them head-on or from the side, you start the battle without anyone having an advantage; if the enemy touches you from behind or one of the characters trailing behind your first character, the enemy gets the advantage, giving them a couple extra moves and having them surround you. This really makes your party members a huge liability on the overworld and makes me extremely glad that Cold Steel only has your first character on the overworld. Once you're in combat, it's standard turn based fighting with each character's turn order being based on their speed. You can use physical attacks or Arts (magic) depending on the quarts installed in your orbal device and your EP. If you lose, you can either retry the battle or go back to the main menu. There's also a turbo button you can hold to make the battles and overworld movement go faster - something I made frequent use of - but it's super buggy and can cause problems ranging from minor inconveniences like not registering that you passed the boundary to load the next map to major issues like outright crashing.

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According to Steam, it took me 48 hours to get through this game; I probably could have done it in 40 hours (maybe a little less) if I'd been able to keep focused, but like I said, the beginning is REALLY slow, and my attention span isn't what it used to be. That's really my only major gripe with the game. The fact that the turbo mode is still so buggy even in 2021 is a pretty big bummer, but it's not really a deal breaker as long as you make sure not to use it during special S-Craft attacks (some of them will have their damage negated if you use turbo) and save often. I was kind of on the fence about whether to give this one a three or a four out of five, but the game finished so strongly and has me excited enough to start the sequel that I'll say it squeaked out a four. It hasn't aged particularly well when you directly compare it to Trails in the Sky, but it's still a very solid RPG especially if you like 2D games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:26 am

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - PS4
6. Yoshi's Island - SNES
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC

The second game of the Arcade Collection, the Definitive Edition of The Lost Vikings adds in the Genesis levels to the SNES original and adds a single save state slot. The former is take it or leave it (I have opinions about the Genesis levels) but the latter is extremely welcome. Many of the later levels have a ton of instant death that will force you to restart late in the level if you screw up, so being able to checkpoint yourself is handy.

The Lost Vikings is a puzzle game where you need to maneuver the titular Vikings through six worlds after they are abducted by aliens so that they can get home. Complicating this journey is the fact that each Viking has a different moveset, yet all three must reach the exit of every level. Erik the Swift moves the fastest, can jump, and can do a dashing headbutt that can destroy certain blocks and knock back certain enemies. Baleog the Fierce has a fast swinging short sword and a slow firing bow that can be used to hit enemies or switches. Olaf the Stoat has an impenetrable shield that can also be lifted above his head to serve as a platform, prevent certain hazards from dropping from above, and serve as a slow fall parachute.

Naturally, it's obvious that you have very different mobility options with each character. This is used by the level design in a fashion of having multiple paths that eventually converge on the exit. Sometime this is as simple as a "this character takes a minor detour to open a roadblock on the main path" and other times it's three completely independent paths with no overlap. Understanding how to utilize each character is vital.

Standing in your way is a series of minor enemies that can damage and eventually kill you, as well as various environmental hazards. You will need to collect keys and flip switches to open paths through the level. And some of this requires good use of timing; one common puzzle is to fire an arrow with Baleog and then switch to another Viking further down the path so the camera will scroll and keep the arrow active to eventually hit its target. In fact, there are several tricks like this which make sense but aren't necessarily explained at first.

Unfortunately, the game has some rough edges. The first is the level design as the game goes on; more usage of instant death, traps which you need to know about before hand to react to in time, or just sending the wrong character down a one way path because it wasn't obvious which one to use. You will die a lot, and it's more frustrating when it happens at the end of a level because you have to start all over. This is exacerbated in the Genesis levels, as they seem to have been designed as a sort of "for those who beat the game" challenges, except their interwoven with the main levels. If you suddenly run into a level where you're not even sure how to accomplish it you're probably on a Genesis level. Similarly, the game does make usage of hidden paths at times. Usually this is just to get extra items to make your life easier, but sometimes this is required to proceed. Usually you can guess at that being the case, but there's a notable usage in the first Factory level where you don't yet realize that the blue ductwork in the background are actually air vents with ladders that you can't see because they're hidden by the foreground.

Overall it's a solid puzzler whose level design gets too nasty for its own good. It's not that the later levels are necessarily hard in the abstract, but rather they have little room for error and the game engine just isn't designed for that sort of movement precision. It's definitely worth a play, but take advantage of that save feature to save some of your sanity.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:31 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *

15. Demon's Crest (SNES)

This is one on the Switch Online SNES service that I've had a mind to play for a while but finally got down to actually doing when I was helping a friend with their fundraising Twitch stream last weekend. I had night crew duty, so once the other night crew went to sleep and I didn't have friends to play Kirby with anymore, I cracked open this to play on stream. I ended up beating it juuust as the person hosting the stream woke back up, but then I put a few more hours into it to get the best ending (or at least to try to XP). It's not the hardest SNES game I've played, but it's up there for sure. It took me around 6 or so hours to beat the SNES version of the game on the Switch Online service with limited save state use.

Demon's Crest is the third and final game starring Firebrand, the red demon from Ghosts 'n' Goblins. 1000 years ago, a demon named Phalanx defeated Firebrand and threw him in the underworld's arena, and that's where the game starts. However, at the end of this match, the force of defeating your foe makes a shockwave powerful enough to break a hole in the wall to freedom! After once again dispatching your previously-not-actually-dead dragony enemy, Firebrand sets off to set the underworld free from under the foot of the demon king Phalanx and his foul machinations. Firebrand himself is a silent protagonist, and there ultimately isn't that much story in the game save from talking with the one demon NPC in the city and then with Phalanx himself.

There are several endings to the game, depending on how much of the collecting you've done: If you go to fight Phalanx immediately, if you collect all 6 power crests, and if you collect EVERY item (very much like how Mega Man X hides its super weapon), and Phalanx gets harder for each better ending you want, gaining first an actual dungeon (it's not finished yet if you go too early XD) and a second form, and then a much more powerful third form. Beating the game even nets you a secret password for a new game+ with a new powerful gargoyle form and you can fight a much MUCH MUCH harder true final boss. Phalanx, like the rest of the bosses in the game, is a pretty good fight (though his third form is a bit too tricky to be much fun, I found), but the true final boss (some "out of nowhere" actual strongest demon simply named Dark Demon) is an absolutely awful test of luck and endurance and I didn't have the patience to actually kill him for his ending (I gave it an hour and a half of my life and I won't give it any more XP).

The gameplay itself is a bit different from the other Gargoyle's Quest games, playing a bit more like the weird Metroidy cousin to a Mega Man game than the sort of weird cousin to Zelda 2 the other GQ games play like. There's a Mode 7 map to fly around in, and from there you go to locations (some of which are pretty well hidden, but those are optional) and those locations are your levels. Even the game's one town is actually a level. This is functionally your level select screen, much like a Mega Man game. However, each level has multiple paths leading to different bosses (not to mention oodles of hidden power ups and secrets), so the game's 6 levels feel more like 10-ish. Of those goodies are pieces of vellum you can get spells put onto (which I never actually used since they're not that useful), bottles to put potions into (which can do everything from teleport you out of a level to giving you a full heal), or even give you new modes of fire. Finding all of the variations on Firebrand's normal fire breath actually nets you one of the crests you need for the best ending, although these breaths themselves tend to be either used for progression (breaking breakable blocks) or just slight power upgrades.

Speaking of progression, Firebrand's main mode of travel is jumping, clinging to walls, and then a hover he can do indefinitely until he gets hit. That hover kinda compromises how levels can be designed, and so they tend to be pretty dangerous and narrow so you can't just fly over everything. Additionally, as you find the actual crests (all rewards for beating bosses, Mega Man-style, although not every boss drops a crest, and most actually drop health upgrades, Zelda-style), you also get rewarded with new gargoyle forms! These forms let you charge through barriers, not just hover but fly, and even swim in water. Unfortunately, you can't have the previously mentioned Firebrand breaths at the same time as a crest form, and especially once you get later forms that are literally just super-powered up Firebrand, the extra breath forms kinda become either extremely situational or outright useless (I basically never used them at all). The level design isn't Capcom's best, but it's still really solid and generally fun and fair feeling. Really, Firebrand's kinda slow movement and the general difficulty of the game hurt the flow of the level design more than anything.

Talking about the difficulty, it's kinda a weird one. Because the game has a level select (although more levels are opened up later as you get more gargoyle forms, so you can't go genuinely anywhere at the start), the difficulty at the start is one of those cases where there's an intended path, but you can do it in many potential orders. What order you take will determine what order you fight bosses in, and some like Flier SUCK as far as how maneuverable they are compared to you and just how much health they have. The game has a real "inverse difficulty curve" problem, where it starts out hard and gets easier as you go on, but largely because you're just more survivable, as well as just getting better at the game. The more moderately difficult parts of the game are good fun, but the more punishing stuff (particularly those hardest bosses) feel more clumsily designed than a genuinely fun challenge. Thankfully, the game is pretty ahead of its time in that it doesn't have any life or continue system. It uses passwords to save progress, unfortunately, but you can have as many attempts at a boss as you want because you effectively have infinite lives. It's not an easy game, and it's definitely one of the harder Capcom games I've played, but overall the difficulty is pretty nice once you get past the bumpier beginning parts.

The presentation is pretty nice, and about what you'd expect for a late-life SNES title. The music is pretty darn good. Nothing particularly MP3 player-worthy, but all good tracks that fit their environments well, as you'd expect from Capcom. It's also a very pretty game, making beautiful enemies and landscapes of the demon realm, though the animations are often limited. Later levels can hit a bit of slowdown, but it's nowhere near as bad as I'd heard it was, and overall the game ran really well. Even the slowdown that was there never impacted my ability to play it, which was nice.

Verdict: Recommended. It's got some rough aspects to it, and the difficulty problems will definitely turn some people off, but this is a really solid game! The physical cart is hideously expensive, but the Switch Online service is a really great way to experience this game. If you want some Mega Man-ish, Metroidvania-y fun in a SNES-era style, this is a great way to spend a weekend~
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:10 pm

MrPopo wrote:This is exacerbated in the Genesis levels, as they seem to have been designed as a sort of "for those who beat the game" challenges, except their interwoven with the main levels. If you suddenly run into a level where you're not even sure how to accomplish it you're probably on a Genesis level.


Yeah I always disagree when people try to tell me the Genesis port is the "definitive" version of the game. The levels feel tacked on and disrupt the overall flow (plus the Genesis controls are way worse compared to the SNES, though I guess that's a moot point on the Switch). In any event, every variant of The Lost Vikings is solid as hell. Such a good game. Based review.

And another massive Falcom RPG beaten by Elkin. I think he lives in an alternate dimension where each day consists of 60 hours.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:43 pm

It's easy to find the time when you don't have family obligations.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:37 pm

MrPopo wrote:It's easy to find the time when you don't have family obligations.


For some reason I felt a painful clench in my gut, and I don't know why.

(I know why)
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:00 pm

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)

16. Cathedral (Switch)

This game came out earlier this month on Switch (although apparently it's like a year and a half old on PC), and Gunstar picked it up and was enjoying it, so I decided to pick it up as well. I love me a good Metroidvania, after all. Around 15 or so hours later (no in-game clock that I could find) I had finished with it after quite the turbulent experience with it. It was a series of ups and downs that while I did enjoy most of it, there was a lot else I didn't so much.

Cathedral's story is pretty bare bones. Honestly it sits fairly nicely next to Demon's Crest as far as how much story there actually is. The game drops you, a nameless (no one even ever calls you "Armor." You literally never have a name of any description) mute suit of armor into the titular cathedral, and you need to find your way out. You soon come across a mischievous spirit named Soul, and they tag along with you since they don't know much of anything either. You go on a quest to collect five McGuffin orbs from around the land in order to open a big scary gate that the world eater sealed himself behind. It's a fine enough thing to set up the story, but it's not really engaging in any respect. It doesn't really have to be, granted, but even the limited dialogue in the game is largely forgettable even more than something like The Messenger, which was at least kinda funny from time to time. This game sorta has one joke (you don't talk, LOL!) and other than that some characters are kinda weirdly rude to each other. But this is a Metroidvania, story doesn't need to be the reason we're here.

And that's for the most part backed up by the gameplay. One look at any screenshot and most people will probably get BIG Shovel Knight vibes, and while the level design isn't nearly that good, it's still a pretty good action game. You can swing your sword left and right and you also have a Duck Tales-style downward thrust to bounce off of enemies. However, unlike in something like Shovel Knight or Duck-Tales where attacking downward means you're attacking downward, you have more of a thrust downwards in Cathedral, so you need to use timing to hit your targets. The game has a lot of little features like that to make the game just that much harder because it can, but we'll get to more of that later.

There is a succession of sub-weapons you can get that either allow for a ranged attack or for platforming help. You can also get upgrades like a double jump, a dash, a hover, and a sort of remote block pushing move, but the game has an odd approach to most of your upgrades. You get them in the form of charms, and you equip them at a charm shrine, but you can only have one at a time equipped for each type (a couple of really ignorable combat ones as well as the two movement and two Soul-related ones mentioned above). It's kinda a neat design idea to have to pick between a dash and a double jump, but then the game just gives you a charm that has the powers of both, so that whole factor of decision making doesn't actually matter, and that "it just does both" thing is something you get for all three types of charm. These charms largely just amount to giving you platforming challenges in a very inelegant way, and it's pretty annoying to have to backtrack in certain points if you happened to choose the wrong charm for the job. It's not a huge span of the game that has you yo-yo-ing between charms like this, but it's still just not super fun. It's a very neutral addition to the game's design rather than outright bad or good.

The game honestly has a lot of weird little design choices that make it just that much more irritating to play. There some little things, like your hitbox actually being far smaller than your sprite, which led me to falling off of platforms in the early game a fair bit because of thinking I was wider than I really was, but there's a lot more than that. The game is weirdly stringent about health, and warp points and check points don't refill health despite acting as respawn points (so you effectively get healed there if you die). You've gotta find a health shrine or a healer for that, and that only seems to be a way for the game to increase your ultimate death counter (I had about 86 deaths) because it can. Just getting healed at check points and warp points would've made the game way better. This is especially because, like Dark Souls, your healing is actually much more important than your health, and finding more health bottles (which are effectively estus flasks charges) is gonna keep you alive WAY longer than finding more heart containers is. It just adds up to you dying more because the game hates you, I guess.

This extends to UI and button layout as well, as the game just doesn't seem to have enough face buttons at times. Granted this isn't entirely the game's fault by any stretch of the imagination, but it just doesn't feel very tightly designed in that regard. Especially for the boss guarding the McGuffin door, I just felt like it'd be so much better if I could assign sub-weapons to different buttons instead of scrolling through them with R and L. Granted you can equip and unequip weapons from that R&L scroll list, which is cool, but even still you've gotta CLICK THE RIGHT STICK in order to pop a health potion.

Feeling sloppily designed is felt nowhere more than the difficulty. Like the last Metroidvania I played, Demon's Crest, this game has an inverse difficulty curve problem but way worse than that. The dungeon leading up to the 3rd orb fight, the Bone Church, especially is a really awful time to get through and you'll likely be dying constantly because of how hard the flying enemies are to kill as well as with just how quickly they can kill you. The bosses are often pretty well designed and good 2D action fights, but occasionally you will run into one that will just brick-wall your progress (the 2nd orb fight was my personal nemesis in that regard, but I had a good deal of trouble with that door-guarding boss I mentioned before as well). The game got progressively easier after that 3rd dungeon, even to the point where the final boss only took me three tries to beat. It was a much more fun level of challenge than the game had been getting there, but it felt more like the game was just better designed, not so much that I had necessarily gotten better at the game (and having a lot more health bottles helped a lot too, to be sure). It's not really a black mark, per se, but the difficulty issues the game has are definitely a big caveat in my recommending it to anyone.

The presentation of the game is really solid, even if it feels very derivative of Shovel Knight. Though this game does have quite good music and really pretty super-retro (pixelated but high animations) graphics, they're both SO derivative of what is probably one of if not the most successful and popular indie game ever that I cannot ignore the similarities in good conscience. They're good, but it makes the game feel overly derivative and without a real sense of personal style, and that isn't helped by just how "whatever"-levels of ignorable the plot and writing are.

Verdict: Recommended. For all the issues the game has, when it's good it's good and it made me wanna keep playing. It's a really solid, if very noticeably unpolished game, but only people who are really comfortable with 2D action games should give it a look. There are a lot of much better Metroidvanias on Switch you could better use your $15 on, in my opinion, but you won't have a bad time with Cathedral if you know what to expect. I look forward to the next game this studio makes, because Cathedral has a lot of potential design-wise, and some spit and polish would make a Cathedral 2 (for lack of a better prospective title) a really stand-out title in the genre.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Wed Mar 03, 2021 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Gunstar Green Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:36 pm

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch Remake)
2. Super Mario Maker 2
3. Super Mario Odyssey
4. New Super Mario Bros. U DELUXE
5. Daemon X Machina
6. Turrican
7. Turrican 2: The Final Fight
8. SUPERHOT
9. Untitled Geese Game
10. Mega Turrican
11. Super Turrican (SNES)
12. Haven
13. Gunlord X
14. Super Mario 3D World
15. Bowser's Fury
16. Cathedral

So Pidge saved me a lot of trouble on this one as I echo most of the same criticisms and praise. When I started the game I wondered how it had gone so unnoticed on Steam but as I played I realized the challenge definitely isn't for everyone.

For the most part I really enjoyed the game, the gameplay is by and large excellent and many of the puzzles are clever and Zelda-esque. In fact I got a lot of Zelda meets Mega Man meets Shovel Knight vibes as I played. It hit me in many of the right places and in most ways it's exactly my kind of game.

But it comes so close only to really botch things with its very limited fast travel and almost too tightly tuned platforming challenges that sometimes require you to juggle your inventory awkwardly. Many of these are mitigated by placing shortcuts right after them, but this isn't the case for all of them which makes all the backtracking the game wants you to do a chore. This would be fine if checkpoints were more plentiful but the harder areas are very stingy with them. I understand wanting to deliver an old school experience but feel the developer went a little too far in places. The ending also drags on and on and on with an onslaught of difficult challenges. It's like the developer thought of several endgame areas and decided to toss them all in. It didn't kill the game for me and I felt accomplished for getting through it but it did mostly bring the experience down a notch.

Regardless I found the gameplay addictive and the challenge rewarding and I don't regret my time with Cathedral. It makes me excited for what this developer has in store for the future because Cathedral is so very close to being a top shelf Metroidvania, something I can't bring myself to call it despite my mostly positive experience.

If you feel games like Shovel Knight are too easy or you want a Metroidvania that won't hold your hand and isn't afraid to grind you into the dirt, it's worth a look. I'd say wait for a sale.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:39 pm

Just want to say I love the paired reviews for Cathedral. It's clear the game isn't for me, but I enjoy being able to see both opinions so close to each other. Been enjoying the chat about it in Slack/Discord as well.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:10 am

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - PS4
6. Yoshi's Island - SNES
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC

I had some trepidation going in to Blackthorne, which is why I saved it for last. My only experience with cinematic platformers is Out of This World, which delights in killing the player over and over at the start and basically requiring you to know the precise sequence of moves at the right time to get anywhere. I am happy to report that Blackthorne is a much kinder game. While there are some aspects that annoyed me, overall it was an entertaining journey.

The story is pretty barebones. The bad guy attacks the king's castle, he sends his son magically to Earth, then twenty years later you're teleported back to take back your kingdom from the bad guy. So you're armed with a shotgun in what seems to be a standard fantasy world. Except the enemies also have shotguns and machine guns and bombs, not to mention other higher tech. Journey through four worlds to meet some NPCs, get gun upgrades, and then fight the bad guy at the end.

As mentioned, this is a cinematic platformer. You do not move fast, but you do move fluid. Your jumps are about what an actual human can do, and much of the verticality comes from grabbing overhanging ledges. You can crouch, roll, and duck into the shadows. This last is your primary combat maneuver; while in the shadows you cannot take damage except by explosions and melee attacks (of which there aren't many). Unfortunately the ranged enemies can also duck into the shadows. So combat with them generally comes down to you hiding, waiting for them to pop out, fire, drop their guard, and then you unload on them. Initially your shotgun is pump action; later on it becomes semi auto, then auto, then gets a damage boost. The damage boost is a bit of a letdown, though, as you get it shortly before the end of world three and in world four enemy health is bumped up again, so they take about the same number of shots to kill as before.

The levels are pretty mazelike, and the goal is to find the various key items you need to progress. In addition to actual keys, this includes bombs to get through steel doors or destroy forcefield generators, bridge keys that generate energy bridges, and an item that creates a platform under you so you can reach a higher ledge. You will frequently need to use an item, get whatever is behind what it guarded, then regrab the item to use later. The further on the game goes the more twists and turns in the level and the more they stack enemies on you; due to how combat works if you ever have two ranged guys on the screen at once you're in for a rough time due to needing timing windows to line up.

There were a couple things that annoyed me. One was the timing window on running jumps to clear certain long gaps; it was very easy to hit it just a bit too late and fall to your doom (same with jumping too early). The other thing was for some reason when you get to the top of a ladder you start in a crouch. When you're crouched pushing forward causes you to roll, and it covers a decent distance. Such as right into the pit you ascended. I kept forgetting that I would be in crouch off a ladder and get myself hurt/killed.

One thing worth pointing out is the nature of a cinematic platformer means that you need to be constantly thinking ahead and setting yourself up, as your movements are not quick and cannot be canceled midway through. There's a deliberateness to it that can get you in trouble. This is especially apparent on the final boss. The attacks need to be defended against in different ways, and frankly your animations just aren't quite fast enough. I ended up just needing to get a good enough pattern that by restricting myself to only a subset of motions to dodge and attack I could deal enough damage before I took enough in turn.

If you've been burned by cinematic platformers before I'd say give it one more shake with Blackthorne; it wants the player to win, rather than wanting the player to memorize some crazy sequence of cool movies to reenact the movie the dev created. It still might not click, but this is probably the best shot for it to do so.
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Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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