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The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is an amazing DLC to an already stellar game. The first third of Hearts of Stone involving a wedding and new female lead Shani was pure bliss in which we get to see a new side of “Geralt.” Genuinely funny and heartwarming it’s such as welcome contrast to the dark and gloomy narrative of the base game.

While your time with Shani is pure delight, Gaunter O’Dimm, also known as the Man of Glass or Master Mirror, a man of many names is as intriguing and serves as Hearts of Stone’s main antagonist. Foreboding and cryptic, O’Dimm is narratively coated with mysteries until the end. Yes there’s Olgierd von Everec who serves as the final third of the story’s narrative focal point, but honestly I did not like him at all even post reveal of his past.

Story aside, the new environments are seamlessly added to the base map. Bosses this time around were plentiful and challenging to the point of frustration, which was a good thing as The Witcher needed challenge.

As the story holds strong, the other part of the DLC namely the new weapon and armor enchanting system feel limited and offers little in value. Its addition seemed more of a needless money sink to a single player game, its augmentations useless for experienced players and too late for casuals players whom would unlock it too late in the DLC when things are already coming to a close.

Rating: 9/10

The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt

There’s not much to say about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, everyone knows this game is good and after 120 engrossing hours I’m inclined to agree. With a beautiful and mature story that takes itself and the player seriously, the game’s 50 hour or so main campaign kept me exploring, pushing on, and entertained without a moment of boredom. Not since Mass Effect 1 and 2 have I been invested into a game’s characters and story as much as I did here. The combat is okay as I don’t see how people can write it off as anything but average, and worse yet the first two difficulties make combat too simple and pointless. The visuals are a feast with the cash I dropped for a GTX 970 well worth it to see this game almost maxed out. When the lighting, weather effects and camera angle all come together I was just floored on how immersive The Witcher can get at times. There’s plenty to nick pick about the game but the imperfections are more than shadowed by the overall experience, that and a lot of the complaints have been patched out and improved on. Oh … Gwent, can’t forget about Gwent, not since FF8’s Triple Triad have I enjoyed a mini game as much as Gwent.

I’d just like to say though, the critical decisions you have to make to meet a “Good Ending” is quite absurd. Yes I had to use a guide because I don’t replay single player games again and I wanted everything to end in a somewhat happy note. Just because I don’t want to play around and throw snow balls doesn’t mean I just doomed the entire world! So silly.

Rating: 10/10

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

It’s been a while since a game has moved me. Games with such impact are far and between, and while there are plenty of stellar games out there from 2013, the ones that impact me emotionally at such a level only come once in a while. Brothers a Tale of Two Sons is such a game. By the end I was wholly satisfied I trudged through the first minutes. Yes, I actually found the world uninspiring and the gameplay quite boring at first. It wasn’t until I met a friendly and large troll that I began to realize the game had much more potential.

The story of Brothers is definitely its strongest point. By closing credits, I just had to take a little breather because the ending was just heart stopping. I’m still quite meh about the gameplay gimmick of controlling each brother on each stick. While the game is quite simple, there were puzzles that had me almost throw the X-Box controller at the screen because of how unresponsive it was to the commands I wanted each brother to do.

Despite no text or comprehensible voice acting, Brothers a Tale of Two Sons manages to accomplish what the big boys and their million dollar budgets simply cannot when it comes to storytelling.

Rating: 9/10

Life is Strange – Episode 4 – Dark Room

Life is Strange – Episode 4 – Dark Room

Life is Strange Episode 4 Dark Room is when the game play and story finally come together form the best episode yet. The searching, discovering, and collecting of clues of the earlier episodes pay off for an engaging and yet another shocking ending. Starting from the get go from the ending of Chaos Theory things are heavy and depressing with an alternative timeline in which Chloe’s father lives due to your actions from Chaos Theory. However in this timeline Chloe has suffered a debilitating car crash leaving her paralyzed and with a failing respiratory system nearing its end stage. This opening section was tough to play through with the voice acting by Max spot on to the realities and choices of her powers. While the ending choice in this segment came straight out of left field and was so absurd that I had to choose it for giggles, it was nonetheless just a taste of the mood Dark Room has prepared.

Going back to main story line, I felt the game play engaging and a bit more varied than usual. The detective work piece to find Rachel was good, trying to get critical info from Frank without killing him was a series of constant rewinds to get it just right, and the barn scene was just giving me goose bumps as the game was treading into some dark territory finally revealing the fate of Rachel Amber whom we’d been searching for all this time. The room in the barn, the beach, and the End of the World pool party provided a wider variety of environments this time to keep things much more interesting to play through and explore.

The ending to Dark Room … ough …, things can always be reversed under the right circumstances … I hope.

Rating: 9/10

Life is Strange – Episode 3 – Chaos Theory

Life is Strange – Episode 3 – Chaos Theory

Asides from its shocking cliffhanger this go around focuses primarily on Max and Chloe’s night adventure through the school in search for clues on Rachel’s disappearance. It is a more relaxing play through because I didn’t have to sit through cringy dialogue from Max’s classmates and that Warren who is still hitting on me via text. It’s just you and Chloe with more of her story revealed along the way. The rewind mechanic is still fairly light with brief stealth sections spicing things up a bit. Really though not a lot of interesting bits until the last quarter where Max’s powers have some pretty shocking results.

Rating: 8/10

Life is Strange – Episode 2 – Out of Time

Life is Strange – Episode 2 – Out of Time

The rewind mechanic is still a hit and a miss, though playing through a certain section in the diner did show I have terrible short-term memory. Though ominous signs are hinted at in regard to Max’s new-found powers, Life is Strange focuses more on its story than Max’s special power at the moment, which I’m totally okay with. In regard to the story most of it is quite boring, populated by mostly the same characters and their average teenage drama, but the ending sequence is well done. It’s the only point where your single choice actually has a significant impact on the story. A powerful one at that.

Anyway, I’d just like to mention Chloe is so annoying to hang around with. Stop corrupting my Max! And Warren is not getting any action if I can help it. It’s quite awkward to play a female and get hit on by virtual dudes. They are all getting denied.

Rating: 7/10

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