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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by marurun Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:58 pm

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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:44 pm

Tanks. Wrote a bit about the Genesis game here, really just highlighting the difference between it and the PCE game.
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Taito's final port of the action-RPG arcade smash Cadash arrived on the Sega Genesis in 1992. Strangely, this variant was never released in Japan, despite the fact that it was indeed published by Taito themselves (as opposed to Acclaim or whatever). Apparently there's a South Korean version out there as well.

The story is the same. A king tasks a lone warrior (or duo) to rescue his daughter, who has been kidnapped by a Balrog (which is indeed referred to by its proper name and not some random misspelling). Because the game sports a three-letter name entry screen the king refers to the player by their initials, which is kind of amusing. The most glaring issue with Genesis Cadash is apparent from the get-go. While two-player co-op remains the game's selling point, two of the character classes are unavailable. Tragically, it's the ninja and priestess who've been wiped out, the two most interesting protagonists of the arcade original and the TurboGrafx port. This leaves the fighter and mage. The fighter's the obvious choice for beginners. A big burly dude who resembles the hero of Taito's own Rastan, the fighter hits hard and doesn't need to rely on any of that wimpy "magic" to get by. In contrast, the mage has a less effective attack, but can cast some hefty offensive spells. Magic use depletes a meter, and spells are awkwardly cast by holding down the attack button and waiting for the appropriate conjuration to appear from a scrolling list.

The game layout remains similar to that of other two Cadash variations, containing a series of five large "levels" and several towns intermingled within. Stage configurations have been altered slightly for the Genesis port, which feels a touch more simplistic than others. Also, the giant kelp boss is missing entirely (c'mon now, don't deprive me of my kelp!). The graphical design has additionally been overhauled, and the resulting visuals look fantastic. In contrast to the "soft" look of the TurboGrafx port, Genesis Cadash is darker, grittier, and more detailed. The camera's "zoomed in" so sprites are massive. It's just a "tough" looking game overall. The soundtrack meshes well with the Genesis sound chip, even if the the song selection is a bit uneven. Once again, it's those chilled out slower themes that sound the best.
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Controls are very good, and surprisingly fluid given the size of the sprites. Combat is a blast, against a never-ending stream of weird and wild fantasy creatures. The game's difficultly level is a bit of a paradox. I find myself dying here much more often than I would in the TurboGrafx port, but the Genesis version is much more generous about doling out additional lives and continues. It's even possible to purchase the full-HP-recovery elixirs in item shops, albeit at a steep price that is raised exponentially as the game progresses. It's also harder to power-level here, and each level-up provides but an incremental change to statistics. Speaking of stats, pressing the Start button brings up a menu displaying all the current relevant information (attack and defense scores, number of items obtained, experience needed to level up). It's enormously helpful, though items are still set to automatic use when HP hits zero or poison takes effect. Much like the Genesis port of Exile, Genesis Cadash is the "non-Working Designs" version of the game. Expect only straightforward dialogue with nary a joke in sight. Not that this game is heavy on the conversations.

It's been years since I've had the Cadash experience (or pleasure). In the dark recesses of my mind, I had the TurboGrafx port ranked high above this one. But having just played them back-to-back, I feel as if they're about even, just different. While the TurboGrafx gets a nod for including the entire foursome of heroes, there's still a tremendous amount to like about this Genesis interpretation. There really isn't another game like Cadash. It's certainly an RPG. The combat isn't nuanced enough to consider it a beat 'em up. And the game's not non-linear enough to qualify for "Metroidvania" status. It's a true platformer / RPG hybrid, and in a class by itself. Highly recommended. One of the cutest gaming princesses to boot.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:04 pm

How does Cadash compare to "arcade RPG" Magic Sword? It sounds like it's considerably more RPG-esque than King of Dragons, but are there other games you'd like it to?
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by marurun Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:00 pm

Bone, I commented back when you first posted your comparison, noting that I had played both back to back some time ago. Here are my thoughts.

My original post here (viewtopic.php?f=32&t=11067&p=107861#p107861) includes a few comparison images that did not survive the quotes below.

marurun wrote:I just finished beating both the Genesis and TG-16 versions of Cadash. I used the Fighter in both games because I wanted something like an even-keel comparison of the games.

If you're not familiar with Cadash, it's an older arcade game by Taito. It's side-scrolling, fantasy-themed, with RPG elements. In the arcade there's a timer going and if you run out of time you die, though you can buy hourglass time increases with gold or just pop in another quarter to increase the timer. You pick between the fighter, mage, ninja, and priest and sally forth to rescue the princess from the evil wizard. Along the way you fight monsters for experience and gold. Gold can be spent on items like herbs and antidotes and also on better weapons and armor. In the arcade 2 people can play together on one machine, or two machines can be networked and 4 players can play, 2 to a cab. On the same cab you have to be on the same screen, but if you're on a different cab you can be off screen or even on a different level altogether. So how to the home ports play out?

Gameplay
Both the Genesis and TG-16 versions of the game support 2 players. The Genesis, however, only has the fighter and the mage as available characters. The TG-16 version has all 4 characters available from the arcade: fighter, mage, ninja, priest. The lack of character options on the Genesis means playing 2 player is pretty rote. One player is the fighter and the other is the mage. 2 player mode on the TG-16 is a lot more fun due to there being so many more character combinations. Both aggressive? Fighter and Ninja. One aggressive and the other more thoughtful? Fighter or Ninja and Mage or Priest. Suicidal? Mage and Priest! The Genesis version plays a little closer to the arcade control-wise and the level layouts are a little closer to the arcade version as well. The TG-16 version has slightly more responsive and easier-to-deal-with controls. The level layouts vary a little in some areas and, though mostly similar to the arcade and the Genesis versions, the differences are enough that the game does feel a little different. The level changes match some of the graphical changes mentioned below. The Genesis version is also missing a mid-boss in one level and the Genesis and TG-16 versions both have very different last boss experiences. I'm not going to figure the last boss differences into who wins, though. Due to the lack of characters in the Genesis version and the better play control on the TG-16 version, the TG-16 gets a clear win here, especially for 2-player play.

Sound & Music
The Genesis sounds more like the arcade original in the music department largely by virtue of having a few FM synth channels available. The arcade used FM synth in the music, so this is a close match. The TG-16 doesn't use FM synth and so approximates using chip sound. In places the TG-16 tracks sound better, even though not as much like the arcade. In other places the Genesis clearly sounds better. It depends largely on the tune. The sound effects in the TG-16 version sound better than the Genesis sound effects, though neither is particularly awe inspiring. I'm going to give the Genesis a narrow win for the arcade-like FM synth, but this category is relatively close.

Graphics
The Genesis version is in 320x240, the standard resolution for most Genesis games. The size and style of the character and enemy sprites and the level graphics and backgrounds are relatively close to the arcade version except that, in true Genesis fashion, the color counts are dismal. The fighter is tall and lanky like in the arcade, but he looks a little like a zombie due to low color count and odd coloration choices. Levels flow pretty well without much of a "tiled" look, and true to the arcade there's usually an independently scrolling backplane. This is nothing special for the Genesis. Overall a decent arcade port, but damn those low color counts are painful. Not the best programming job from the graphics department.

The TG-16 version is very different graphically. The game uses the TG-16's standard 256x240 resolution (also standard resolution for most SNES games, BTW) and thus most of the character and enemy sprites have been redrawn to be smaller. The levels have also been redone with a different graphical feel. There are more "tile-based" graphics and level elements flow a little less naturally than in the arcade and Genesis versions. The TG-16 makes up for this by majorly upping the color count for, well, everything. The game is lighter and more colorful everywhere. So while the Genesis sprites match the arcade sprites in pixels the low colors make them look low in detail. On the flip side, the TG-16 sprites are smaller in pixel count but the redone sprites and the higher color counts actually make most of the TG-16 character and enemy sprites look more detailed than their Genesis counterparts. The level designs have been, in some places compacted, in other cases redone slightly, in order to accommodate the smaller screen resolution and smaller sprites. So some levels feel a little more compact visually even though they play largely the same. The TG-16 version also lacks the independently scrolling backplane, though there are some areas where there appears to be no good technical reason for this. In a couple places it seems certain elements were changed to reduce the sprite load on the TG-16, even though the game never comes close to pushing the sprite limit. There are some distinct areas where the TG-16 features not simply redone but unequivocally better graphics. There are some statues in the game which swing spiked balls on chains, and in the TG-16 version the statues are much larger and more detailed, and the swinging of the balls on the chains is much more fluid than on the Genesis.

This is a win for both. For arcade purists the Genesis version is a win. For just plain visual appeal I prefer the TG-16 version. It simply is easier on the eyes thanks to much better use of color and much higher color counts. Also, the redone sprites, though smaller, appear to be much more detailed in many cases.

In both home versions you set out to rescue the princess. There are minor level variations, making it harder in the TG-16 version to skip one of the levels and get more advanced gear ahead of schedule. The last boss is a little different between the two versions. The Genesis version lacks 2 of the 4 playable characters and a midboss but is overall more arcade accurate. If you have the liberty I encourage you to play both, but if you are, say, emulating and only want to play one, I have to recommend the TG-16 version. It's just a bit easier to deal with all around. Both games are lots of fun, though, and easy to beat quickly if you pick on on some of the game's tricks early. Be careful, though. In the Genesis version you have several lives/continues. In the TG-16 version you have to use a code to continue. This can be hard on new players because if you die and you don't know the code, you stay dead. If you play 2-player you can revive your cohort at an inn, though, as long as one of you survives. In the Genesis version you are limited to carrying 4 each of items like herbs and antidotes. In the TG-16 version you can carry either 6 or 7 each, though you can't pull up your character stats, gold, experience, and items like you can on the Genesis version, meaning you have to guess when you are close to a level up or to having enough money for that expensive weapon. The Genesis version might thus be a little easier for total newbies to Cadash, though if you can take the rougher start on the TG-16 version I think you'll get more out of it.

For new players I recommend either the Fighter (both versions) or the Ninja (TG-16 only). For players who want a little more challenge I recommend the Mage (both versions). For players who have a little Cadash experience and want to dabble in magic but aren't comfortable enough to try the Mage, I recommend the Priest (TG-16 only). Some would argue the priest is actually the most powerful character because she has shield magic that can protect her from harm and a very long range weapon. The US version of the TG-16 game, translated by Working Designs, actually has some of the characters stats adjusted a little to make the Priest less overpowering compared to the Japanese version, though she's still a strong character. They didn't make the Priest weaker, but rather adjusted the other characters up a little. In all versions of the game the Mage advances in level the quickest due to the character being difficult to use (though spells are hell on bosses). The Fighter is the next quickest to level. On the TG-16 version the Priest is next fastest to level, and the Ninja is the slowest character to level, in part due to having the longest range attack and the highest natural defense (before armor). The Fighter levels quickly because, even though he's powerful, a lot of that power is dependent upon being in the enemy's face with your sword and on buying lots of weapon and armor upgrades, making the Fighter also the most expensive character.

I recommend Cadash to most takers. It's a short game that easy to beat once you've got the feel for it, though it can be daunting to new players. Whichever version you play will have high points, either a more organic level design and more similarity with the arcade or better colors and detail at the expense of varying more from the arcade version. Take your pick, you won't go wrong with either version.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by marurun Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:06 pm

Ack wrote:How does Cadash compare to "arcade RPG" Magic Sword? It sounds like it's considerably more RPG-esque than King of Dragons, but are there other games you'd like it to?


Magic Sword is much faster and more arcade-y. Cadash actually feels a bit more like a console-hybrid title, and the port actually didn't change much from the arcade save removing the ever-decrementing timer. Basically, in the arcade, it was harder to grind for cash and experience because you had that timer ticking down over your head the whole time. In a way, it feels a little like one of those old PlayChoice units where you play an NES console game but with a timer. Cadash is quite a bit slower and feels more exploratory. There's more vertical exploration and doubling back. You are constantly unlocking shortcuts back to the last town area from the end of the next level. So while the game is largely linear, there is at least one area where you can get equipment before you should probably have it (though you can't unlock the next area until you go the long way).
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:39 pm

marurun wrote:Bone, I commented back when you first posted your comparison, noting that I had played both back to back some time ago. Here are my thoughts.

My original post here (viewtopic.php?f=32&t=11067&p=107861#p107861) includes a few comparison images that did not survive the quotes below.


Good shit my dude. I do recall seeing this two years ago. I re-reviewed the games in such a way that would meet the stringent GameFAQs standards (lol) though I admittedly copy/pasted a bunch from last time. 8)

Ack wrote:How does Cadash compare to "arcade RPG" Magic Sword? It sounds like it's considerably more RPG-esque than King of Dragons, but are there other games you'd like it to?


To me Cadash feels quite similar to Exile and Ys III (which of course were computer-to-console games, not arcade-to-console games). All are linear, on the short side, somewhat grindy with quickly respawning enemies, and have dungeons that almost feel like standard platforming stages.

Additionally, Ys III and Exile were also both on the PCE (well, CD) and Genesis.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:01 pm

Well, I did enjoy the Ys III SNES port...

I always think of the obscure Ultima-esque tactics RPG on PC when folks bring up Exile, but I assume you're talking about the pseudo-religious RPG.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:07 pm

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Yes.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:51 pm

First 50:
1. Octopath Traveler - Switch
2. Dusk - PC
3. Forsaken Remastered - PC
4. Tales of Eternia - PS1
5. Resident Evil 2 (2019) - PC
6. Pokémon Trading Card Game - GBC
7. Metro Exodus - PC
8. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - PC
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch
46. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - PC
47. Blasphemous - Switch
48. Daemon x Machina - Switch
49. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch
50. Borderlands 3 - PC

51. Valfaris - Switch
52. Unreal: Return to Na Pali - PC
53. The Outer Worlds - PC
54. MechWarrior 4: Black Knight - PC
55. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - PC
56. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: System Rift - PC
57. MDK - PC
58. Pokémon Sword - Switch

Pokémon is an odd series when you think about it. On the spectrum of Dragon Quest delivering the same game every installment and Final Fantasy seeking something new with every installment Pokémon sits firmly in the middle. While the core loop is consistent, Game Freak seeks to do different things with the things around that loop. And with those changes getting more radical with every entry I feel that it's starting to become to the detriment of the series.

Sword/Shield is set in alternate UK, and the localization includes a bunch of English colloquialisms to make sure you don't forget it. It's never to the point of a Dragon Quest localization; rather it's things like your friend calling you mate and other minor things like that. Gyms are back after taking a break in Sun/Moon, but unlike the previous games here they are soccer stadiums. In fact, the whole gym challenge feels more like a soccer season and tournament rather than the old "visit the dojos and show your mastery over the sensei" style. As a result, they've ditched the Elite Four as a concept; instead you have a challengers tournament (which you rematch your three rivals) followed by a gym leader bracket (where you rematch three of the gym leaders) before you get to fight the champion. And there's the standard other story involving events you keep running into running parallel to your "be the best" storyline. There's nothing terribly interesting about it, unfortunately.

So now that we're past the main loop, let's talk what the game does new. Wild Pokémon now come in two varieties; overworld and grass. These are pulled from separate encounter lists (though there is usually some overlap). This helps when you want to catch specific ones in the overworld list, and the ones in the grass give you the opportunity to avoid them (there's an indicator they've spawned, and then they move around in the grass). So for the player who has done things before this lets you not have to spend a ton on repels just to get through areas you are overleveled for. The game still manages to keep alive the tradition of having sections where you cross water be worse than being on land, but fortunately it only shows up rarely (once when you get the ability, then tiny gates after that).

The replacement for Mega Evolution and Z-Moves is Dynamaxing, which is somewhere in between. It can only be used in certain battles; gym leader battles and raid battles (plus a couple of specific story battles). Your mon grows and gets an HP boost and has all its moves replaced with a higher powered version that never misses and has some secondary effect (stat ups/downs or weather/field effects). You can only maintain the form for three turns. Naturally every trainer battle with it available has the enemy trainer use it on their last mon, so you can plan for it. There are also a handful of mons that have a superior version called Gigantamaxing; this gives them a special model and a unique move. However, this is not just a case of certain species, like Mega Evolutions. This is requiring you to have caught a specific one that was Gigantamaxed in a raid battle. This makes that aspect incredibly underutilized.

The Safari Zone has been replaced with the Wild Area. It serves the same purpose of having a ton of random ass mons available, and the encounter lists change with the weather, and there's something like six different weathers available. There are also high level wandering Pokémon that you won't be prepared for initially; if an area's level range is 10-15 for normal mons the wandering one might be 25. It's divided into a bunch of areas which each have different encounter tables and levels, so you'll come back multiple times. This is also where you can find the raid battles. Raid battles are you and three other trainers (either humans or NPCs) against a Dynamaxed boss mon. When you kill it you get the option to try and capture it (with a chance of failing), and beating one gets you a bunch of items, including one-shot move tutors and experience items (which are fantastic for leveling up new mons).

The final thing is the curry mechanic, which is both amazing and tedious. It's the standard "do a minigame to get a benefit" thing Pokémon has had for a while, but here the benefit is team wide healing, which can be as much as full heal, restore status, and restore move power. The benefits are based on the items you toss in, with rarer ones giving you better benefits. It takes too long to do each time, but it's so good you'll do it anyway, which is the really annoying part.

Aside from the fact that your rival is the worst written one ever, the biggest flaw in the game is that Dynamaxing is clearly a mechanic that a fair amount of time was spent on, but it's so boring. Mega Evolutions had a real effect on your mons, because they made major stat changes and sometimes changed types. Dynamaxing is just like Z-Moves in that all it does is give you a power boost. There's no real strategy there, since you already wanted to be running a team of "one shot all the things if you can"; this just makes it easier to pull that off.

The game continues Sun/Moon's "we've gotten rid of HMs" thing, but they basically cut out everything except fly (which you get early) and surf (which you get late and isn't really used much). It removes that "I should remember to go back to this area" thing that previous games had that I liked. And Team Yell is pretty lame overall. I'm starting to wonder if Pokémon is reaching saturation for me. The fact that they fucked up the National Dex certainly adds to that feeling.

I guess that's what the review is; if you're sick of Pokémon this won't fix it. And if you can't wait for more then this is more.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:04 am

First 50:
1. Octopath Traveler - Switch
2. Dusk - PC
3. Forsaken Remastered - PC
4. Tales of Eternia - PS1
5. Resident Evil 2 (2019) - PC
6. Pokémon Trading Card Game - GBC
7. Metro Exodus - PC
8. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - PC
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch
46. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - PC
47. Blasphemous - Switch
48. Daemon x Machina - Switch
49. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch
50. Borderlands 3 - PC

51. Valfaris - Switch
52. Unreal: Return to Na Pali - PC
53. The Outer Worlds - PC
54. MechWarrior 4: Black Knight - PC
55. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - PC
56. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: System Rift - PC
57. MDK - PC
58. Pokémon Sword - Switch
59. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - PC

Fallen Order can be summed up as Sekiro with Tomb Raider-style level traversal. The combat is very parry based, and parry meters abound on melee users. But in terms of gameplay you're spending probably 2/3 of your time engaged in level traversal. Unfortunately, the combat isn't nearly as tight as Sekiro's, and the game suffers for it.

The game is set sometime prior to Rogue One; in one mission you fight alongside Saw Gerrera, before he goes all crazy. You play a Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66 and is hiding as a scrapper. He gets found out and the Empire comes a-callin, but he is saved in the nick of time by a former Jedi and a starship captain who have a lead on a holocron that has the locations of Force sensitive children across the galaxy that could be used to rebuild the Jedi Order. And of course, you don't want the Empire to get its hands on it. So you get to visit several planets to hunt down the clues that will lead you to the holocron, fighting the Empire along the way.

The game is played in third person, and the traversal definitely is based heavily on Tomb Raider. All the standard conventions are there; crap on a wall tells you that it can be shimmied up, you've got ziplines, and you will unlock additional traversal abilities such as a wall run, Force push, and Force pull, among others. You are aided by your droid, BD-1, who has some tools of his own that will be added to over the course of the game. Combat-wise, the game is heavily based on Sekiro. Regular enemies die in a couple of lightsaber hits, but melee enemies will block your strikes. This will deplete their block meter, and depleting it all the way leaves them open. You can also parry strikes to drastically reduce the block meter. You have a block meter of your own, with the same consequences, and it also powers your ability to deflect blaster bolts (though you can also parry them back at enemies with the right timing). Throw in your Force push and pull and some special saber techniques and you have a combat system. You also have Sekiro-style advancement; the stages are littered with meditation points where you can spend skill points or rest to recover your health and healing kit charges, but also respawn enemies. Skill points are used to give you saber techniques and power up your Force powers.

Unfortunately, the game suffers in two ways. The first is in the level design; the game has no fast travel and so needs to have a lot of shortcuts to traverse the levels for the inevitable backtracking (which isn't just for collectables; the story has you backtrack every planet). This is complicated by the usage of the slides that force you down a path for a while in an action sequence. The levels end up being a series of very linear longish setpieces that then have some unlocked connection to a prior area, and it ends up being rather clumsy. It actively dissuades you from backtracking for items you missed the first time (which is compounded by not getting a map marker when you find a chest you can't open yet). And since, outside of the heart containers and extra healing charges, all the collectables are cosmetic only. The levels are definitely fun to go through the first time, but backtracking for missed items takes way too long.

The other place the game suffers is the implementation of the combat. Sekiro had extremely tight, deliberate combat. Last Order has much looser combat. Some of this is a consequence of how acrobatic the Star Wars property is; there's all the unnecessary movement because it looks cool on screen, and they replicate it faithfully here. This makes some parry timing extremely hard to figure out. But the other part that makes the combat feel really loose is that enemies are extremely inconsistent in how they react to damage. The human enemies tend to stagger a bit (the ones who don't die immediately) before taking a guard stance and repelling you. Though if an enemy is involved in any sort of attack animation they will continue it and nail you (outside of a handful of attacks that can be explicitly countered by attacking during an egregiously long wind up). The non-human enemies basically give zero fucks about you attacking them. They'll just keep going through their attack patterns and it only catches up with them when you remove the last piece of HP, at which point they die. This is INTENSELY frustrating, as these enemies also have really shitty tells, so you'll take a lot of cheap hits working your way through the fauna.

Unlike Sekiro, I never felt like I really mastered any fights. On a Sekiro boss the time I won was the time where I reached that zen and was reading my opponent's moves and countering them appropriately. In Last Order it felt more like THIS was the time where the pattern was reasonable and I was able to get in the necessary counter hits (and you better be using that special attack you get late in the game on the last couple bosses when they're vulnerable if you don't want the fights to take ages). But it never felt like I had properly earned the victory by being better; just by being lucky. And that's the biggest shame.

The game ended up being an equal mix of fun and frustration for me. But unlike a good Soulsbornekiro (I'll keep appending to it until we have a better name for the genre) frustration, here the frustration felt more due to Respawn just not quite getting what makes From games work so well. Their heart was definitely in the right place, but they just missed the mark.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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