Monday, January 6, 2014

First hour impressions #2

Hopefully everyone has had a good holiday so far! For me I've enjoyed spending time with friends and family, and helping out with Christmas preparations like the dinner and eating copious amounts of said Christmas dinner-turkey, bacon, sausages, gravy, potatoes (both roast and mashed with chives and herbs), maple parsnips. bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing, oatmeal stuffing, brussel sprouts (with walnuts and bacon, as each year we try different recipes to liven up everyone's favourite oft-maligned cruciferous vegetable lol.)

Ok so I've been putting off writing this post for a while now, and my motivation has slowly diminished for playing the first hour of more games along with the approach up to Christmas and my attempts (successful and otherwise) at studying. I tried playing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (I really just wanted to write that title out in full, because its a hilariously bad title), Bravely Default (demo, and then the first hour) and found it difficult to stick to a solid hour of playing the first hour of handheld games because I usually flip the ds into sleep mode when I get distracted by the tv or other stuff. So no notes materialised for either of those games, but I have been really enjoying Bravely Default as I've gone along. Its like that game was designed for gamers like me who like their JRPGs and art styles you might see in RPG artbooks.

Which brings me nicely onto the next game, and the second in my series of posts where I'm looking at the first hour of games.

Dragon's Crown (PS3)

Started 10:24am, 18/12/13

  • amazing artstyle shown in the opening sequence really cemented what I had seen of the game in trailers. This game is really for me, even though it has exaggerated designs and could be divisive, the colours and style are just amazingly well done.
  • the initial screen on starting up the game was to choose a save slot, then choose the character details. Multiplayer integration looks important and fairly seamless-there isn't a seperate multiplayer option, its all one mode from the looks of things. I went with the Elf archer, who had a fairly 'normal' design, as opposed to the exaggerated Sorceress and others which kind of made this game viral before it had even released.
  • It took me around 5 or 6 minutes to get to the beginning tutorial, and around 6 or 7 minutes, the first combat section where they show you the controls. Now, here is where I got stuck for longer than I should have. Its nothing to do with the quality of the game per se, its more due to the fact I was playing on a small 20"ish screen from a few metres away. I couldn't make out what the button prompts were saying, and like in those fighting game tutorials where you push certain combinations or perform certain tasks to move onto the next, I couldn't move on for a while. So play on a big TV in future! That's my note to myself.
  • There are such amazingly drawn environments and characters, and similar to Bravely Default which I've been playing recently, it feels like you are playing through the pages of an artbook. I found myself just pausing to look at the backgrounds as they panned out and I got to new areas.
  • This is definitely one of the best looking 2D games I've seen, perhaps the very best. Its to be expected from Vanillaware, who previously released Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade
  • The game has an interesting looking world map, which scrolls across at great speed to our first location, and dungeon.
  • The locales are very nicely done, with some really good looking lighting and water effects.
  • The first boss (Harpy) gave me some problems, and ended up killing me once. I immediately came back to life and continued the fight from where I left off, and didn't really understand how.
  • After beating that boss, the stage ended in a sort of arcade-like way, and we got rewarded with spoils (items), exp and other goodness after this first main quest. They then give an introduction to the appraisal system that the game has. It reminded me of Diablo in that we have to identify the items before their effects can be known and you can decide what you want to do with them. Well, you can sell items without appraising, but its not recommended value-wise. I had enough money to appraise all my items, sell one, and repair my armour, after which I kept the rest of the items. I'm actually kind of surprised that they weren't more harsh with the money they give you. I wouldn't have been surprised if they went all out with hardcore old school difficulty, it would have fit, with all the other oldschool features in this game.
  • I also see how the party system will work in single player - you can find bones of fallen wanderer, resurrect them and have them join your party. I get some Dwarf warrior NPC who compliments my slightly more fragile ranged combat style as a tank.
  • I got the next main quest in my journal, and a sub quest, and I took up the sub quest, which took me to the dungeon I'd just been to, so I went back through that a 2nd time quickly, and that was the hour.
So I was really impressed by Dragon's Crown over the hour I played, and would have played a lot more if I didn't have exams to study for. But I definitely will be checking more out soon, and I recommend it to those gamers who like their 2D Dungeon Crawler/hack'n'slash RPGs or action games, those who like nicely drawn 2D games - this is probably one of the most amazing 2D games I've seen, and those who like to co-op on games like Gauntlet, as I've heard that those are along the same vein as Dragon's Crown.
Hopefully these impressions help in some way if you are or were on the fence about trying this game out.