Ponderings on The Walking Dead 400 Days

I downloaded The Walking Dead 400 Days a while ago, and completely forgot to put down my thoughts on it.

As a reluctant fan of the episodic gaming genre that The Walking Dead adopts, I was excited, but still slightly anxious about what 400 Days would hold. I knew nothing about it, other than it would act as a bridge between seasons. So when I fired it up for the first time, I was slightly taken aback by the bizarre, yet interesting gameplay they had chosen.

The cell shaded animation remains in tact, letting you know that you’re still playing the game series, and it retains all of its original beauty, but takes a bit of a twist on the original gameplay mechanics. As you make a start on 400 Days, you notice that you can choose exactly which character you want to play as. You work your way through the stories of five new characters, all with their own back story, by picking their pictures off a noticeboard. This was a bit of an odd choice gameplay wise considering the more than linear first season of The Walking Dead, but I liked it.

I’m still a bit on the fence with how I really feel about it if I’m honest though. It seemed more like an introduction to five new characters than anything else. I know that’s probably what it’s meant to be, and that is by no means a bad thing, but it just seemed a bit thrown together and didn’t really feel like a full episode. I probably managed the finish off the whole thing in an hour which was a little bit disappointing.

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In true Walking Dead style, each of the characters have their own obstacles to overcome, but nothing really seemed to alter the eventual ending. Most of the characters I had no affection for whatsoever, so I’m hoping this will be improved upon later. It seems like these are the characters that we’re going to see in season 2 though, as well as Clementine returning hopefully. The end of 400 Days is its saving grace in my opinion, finally wrapping up exactly what it is you’ve been doing with that noticeboard, but I can’t say I’m more excited for season 2 after playing 400 Days.

The first season was never truly resolved, and that ending just left it open for so much more, so I’m really hoping Telltale have a lot more to offer us after 400 Days.

The Walking Dead 400 Days will set you back 400MSP on XBLA or £3.99 on the PSN.

Ponderings on State of Decay

When a friend told me about State of Decay, I was a little wary. It took me a while to get into The Walking Dead, and looking at the screenshots for State of Decay, it didn’t look quite as appealing. I downloaded the demo however, and played it for the full hour that I was allowed before deciding to buy it. I’m definitely enjoying it, but it’s not a game that has me completely addicted to the point where I can’t put it down

Obviously I’ve recently bought Animal Crossing New Leaf so that has taken over everything else at the moment, but even before then I was struggling to spend longer than an hour or so on State of Decay. That’s not to say it isn’t a good game, because it is. It’s an excellent concept, and I was more than shocked when I died in the demo, and that was it; the character who I was playing as had really gone, and the other characters in the safe house were verbally mourning the loss.

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When you die, it truly is game over

When you play a game, you expect that when you die you’ll just come back to life, or you’ll have to revisit a previous save point. It’s not very often that when a playable character dies, they’re gone for good, but the game carries on without them. That moment really hit home, and made me realise just how realistic State of Decay is in terms of survival. If I trash all the cars in the game, then I’ve got to walk everywhere by foot. Resources don’t respawn after a certain amount of time, so if you use everything you just raided from that house, there’s not going to be anymore unless you look elsewhere.

Weapons break and your stamina temporarily remains depleted until you ‘tag in’ with someone else so they can take on your zombie slaying responsibilities while you rest. It’s a tough game, and it’s not one for the impatient.

One of my main issues is the tiny text, and this is an issue that I have with a lot of games. I wear glasses. If I don’t wear them, the entire world around me is a blur. My 32 inch TV is no more than 6 foot away from me, and I am straining to see the tiny text at the bottom of the screen. Yeah, I can sit in a chair and move that closer, but why should I? I’m not exactly far away from it, and I enjoy playing games in the comfort of my bed. It’s just a personal issue I suppose, and an issue for another blog post.

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This text is too damn small

I will go back to State of Decay, but I think I need to play some other, less strenuous games first. I like a challenging game, but you’ve really got to be in the right mindset to play State of Decay for any extended period of time.

Ponderings on Dream House Days

I’m a terrible blogger. I know that, and I grovel at your virtual feet. I’m such a terrible blogger, that I am writing this in my only spare time, and that just so happens to be when I am babysitting.

I hit 20k hits the other day, and had a big blog post planned, but then life happened and I never got round to it. In fact, I think it was a week ago today that I got 20K. But yes, I hit 20K on my blog and I am damn proud. I’ve been going with this blog for nearly three years, and I know I’m in a niche so every hit is awesome in my eyes.

But what have I been doing gaming wise? Well, I’ve been back at uni for three weeks, so my life has been taken over with education again. There are so many games that I want in my life right now, but I simply don’t have the time. At least the positive flip to that is the games will be cheaper by the time I do get round to playing them. I had started on the post main story arc in Tales of Graces f, but then I started at uni and a JRPG is the last thing I need to be taking up my time with.

I had a quick look at episode 1 of The Walking Dead on XBLA. As much as I enjoyed the story and appreciated the gameplay, I’m not convinced about it enough to part with money for the rest of the episodes. It was very much like Heavy Rain, which I enjoyed very much, but I think it was just a little bit too clunky for me, in terms of the controls. I’ll wait and see if they put a good offer on them, or if I get some spare money in, as I would like to see how they pan out, and I do like games where you decisions very litterally affect the rest of the game.

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I’ve also been playing a new Kairosoft game. Dream House Days is one of the games I was looking forward to being released, but it’s still missing something like Beastie Bay was. Both were free to play, and you only had to pay to remove ads, but then they want more money if you actually want to make any progress. I can’t believe for one second that Kairosoft aren’t making enough money from their app sales, so I think this is kind of unnecesary. It makes me resent paying for the game. None of the previous games had in-app purchases, so why do these? It just kind of destroys it for me in a way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game, but as I said with Beastie Bay, I don’t play it as much as I do with the others, and I think it’s the in-app purchases that are putting me off. I love building the houses, and moving different people in, and getting different jobs and residents having children etc, but it’s just dampened with the demand for extra money. I’ll finish it soon and see if it’s any better second time around, but for now I’m on the fence.

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And that’s pretty much all I’ve had time to do to be honest. I really badly want Ni No Kuni, but I feel as though I need time to dedicate to that. I can’t just dip in and out of a game like Ni No Kuni. There are still games from 2012 I want to play, but I think that will have to be for the summer. Maybe this year I won’t lose my job due to floods, and I’ll actually have some money. What’s on your list of games to play for the next few months?

DmC Demo Impressions

As soon as I saw that a demo for DmC had come out on Xbox Live yesterday, I ran to the controller, fired up my console and got right onto downloading that thing of beauty. To be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten when it was coming out as well as what month it was thanks to stress at university. It took an age for the demo to download, but I finally got to play it at atound 11PM last night. Here are my thoughts on it;

First of all, I will say I’m still a little on the fence about this rehashed Dante. Only because I’m a fan of the Devil May Cry series and Dante should, to me, be in his big red trenchcoat, and have white hair. This ‘new’ Dante appears to have much the same attitude as the ‘old’ Dante however from what I gleamed last night. I think that DmC will have to be taken at face value, and as an indpendent game as opposed to a follow on if I am to enjoy it properly.

I was quite impressed with the ease of the battle system, and the variety of attacks that were available to me. The demo briefly explains to you that Dante is half angel, half demon, and this translates into his attacks. On one side you can use angel attacks which from what I could gather would mainly involve spinning around a scythe and attacking multiple enemies at once. On the other hand you could use devil attacks, which primarily seemed to be much heavier, bludgeoning attacks. For me, someone who likes to attack everything all at once, the angel attacks were really useful. Dante feels much faster during battles in this game than he has done in previous titles. Whether this is due to his ‘younger’ age or just an improvement in the system, it just feels as though he flows better throughout the battle scene even when using his heavy devil attacks.

Story wise, I’m not entirely sure what it’s all about as the demo didn’t give too much away, but from what I gather there is an anti-demon group, led by a strange masked figure who sends out cryptic video messages on the internet. This group are trying to send the demons back to where they came from. Who is the demon’s target? Dante of course, and as you travel along with an unnamed woman, you will enter different dimensions and be forced the fight demons as they manipulate the buildings and walls around you in an attempt to crush you between concrete.

I did get a little bit of a feel of Bayonetta with the changes in dimensions, mixed in with a dash of crudness from Dantes Inferno, which is by no means a bad thing, but I hope I won’t get that feeling through the whole game when it comes out in January.

All in all a pretty good demo that lets you play for quite a bit, and even lets you kick some demon boss ass one you complete the first section. If you’re a Devil May Cry fan, give DmC a go and let me know what you think of it too.

The Death of the Demo – Megabits of Gaming Feature

The Death of The Demo – Posted 13/08/12 on Megabits of Gaming

I come from the era of video gamers who received demo discs with their monthly magazines. These discs always contained something new and exciting, and occasionally a little gem you perhaps had never heard of. There was a certain element of excitement as you knew something new was coming in the next issue of PlayStation magazine, and you were just itching to get your hands on the free discs contained within.

I still have many of my PS1 demo discs stored away somewhere. Why? Because these demos were so amazing, that I would play them for hours on end until I could afford to buy the full game. I remember playing the demos for Command & Conquer, Spider and some brightly coloured trippy game with a bouncing rabbit in it. These were a small piece of gaming glory that would leave you salivating for more. Playing a demo was like buying a small piece of cake, taking a bite and then running back to the buy the rest of it to experience its full flavor.

The glory days of the demo

The glory days of the demo

Unfortunately, this golden age appears to be coming to an end. The last few times I have picked up a gaming magazine I have been left disappointed. Sure, it’s had a disc and a little cheat book with it, but the contents of the disc really are nothing special. Within this thin circular container are a few trailers, perhaps some gamer avatars, oh and a demo for a game that’s been out for months. I feel both sad and robbed of my cash at this point. The excitement of the latest demo disc is gone, and replaced with the sloppy seconds of a game that apparently needs more promotion. It’s like the demo disc has turned into a cutting room floor compilation, housing whatever content could be put together at the last minute.

It’s not just the magazines that are failing to provide though. Even the Xbox Live Marketplace has considerably less frequent demo releases than it did before. There has also been a trend that has seen demos of games being released after the completed game has gone to store shelves. This feels like a very sneaky way for developers to boost sales and pique interest after release date, while frustrating those that bought the game blindly when it first came out.

This is what the world of demos has come to

This is what the world of demos has come to

It seems that only the most profitable games get a demo, while smaller games are left behind. Is no one making these little playable previews anymore? Do we really have to bury the demo and instead start a relationship with XBLA trials and just hope that each new release is going be mind-blowing? I for one am sick of paying £40 for a game I never got to play a preview of.

Duke Nukem and Deadly Premonition are just two examples that really could have done with allowing people to dip their toes into each world, and spare gamers a bit of cash. There are more than 300 downloadable demos available on the Xbox Marketplace, but this doesn’t really seem to be enough. Perhaps the world of gaming is too oversaturated with releases that creating a demo for every game would be nigh on impossible, but some form of attempt from the industry would be nice. Every film gets a trailer before it is released, so why is it that games don’t get demos anymore?

It feels like we have to rely on the opinions of website magazine previews in order to build our own judgment about new games. Gone are the days when we could do this for ourselves as a consumer.