NCG Review – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Nintendo Switch)

Hello everyone! I apologize for my extreme delay in submitting this review.  I really wanted to sit down with this title and explore the game to the full extent.  Lucky for me, this comes after the announcement for the release of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Accolades.  Definitely pick it up!

I’ll start this review off by saying I have not played any of the previous Ys titles, so Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will be my first in the series.  This review also comes after the backlash of the initial release.  The version I was able to play was for the Nintendo Switch, which included all the promised patches for the game.  That being said, my review is from the perspective of a new comer, and a player who didn’t experience the first wave release of the game.2018081221212000-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Story

After the Lombardia was attacked by a mysterious sea creature, passengers are washed onto the island Seiren.  Survivors must band together, find other passengers, protect their camp and find a way off of the island.  The game starts out as mere survival and then builds with unexpected things happening at every turn.  Ancient beasts, mysterious notes, strange dreams, and even more! I would love to go more into the story but I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone who intends on picking up the game! However, I will comment that the story is worthwhile to play through since the story unfolds in such a fascinating way.2018090817211800-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Game play

Ys VIII is a real-time RPG so you fight monsters as they appear with various attacks. Combat is simple.  You can attack, down attack, skill attack, and Extra attack.  During combat you will also need to block and dodge.  The dynamic fighting style draws the player into combat since some monsters require you to use dodging and blocking in order to gain the advantage.  When you block/dodge at the right moments, you get block guard/flash guard, which slows the monster down for a few seconds in order for you to unleash a few more hits on them. This much better than bashing “A” (although, you can also do that, but take some damage in the process) to defeat enemies. Mastering when to block and dodge is particularly useful when you defend the campsite and fight bosses since you gain extra points when you do so. As you play through, the characters learn skills as you level up.  You can swap skills out as you play through the game making each character adaptable to your play style. However, each character can only hold up to 4 skills during play, so you’ll need to pay attention to weaknesses and range.2018072620394700-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Each character has a unique set of skills and are stronger against certain monsters.  As you fight monsters you’ll notice where their weaknesses are and switch out accordingly.  When I play other RPGs, I tend to rely on one character to defeat monsters and bosses in, and this will make the game feel stale and boring, but as you adventure around the island, monsters in an area have a variety of weaknesses so you can’t just adventure solely with one character. Although Adol is the main character, you’ll get a lot of play with the other characters  -Adol doesn’t even have to be on your team!

The game environment feels open since there are many locations to discover and side missions to complete.  However, the game is very guided and certain areas will open based on how you have progressed through the story and the game overall. I found myself exploring every inch of the island and getting frustrated when there were areas I couldn’t easily access.  Although the map is limited, the game does a good job guiding you back to areas where you may have missed a couple items or needed to level up in order to play through.2018081219085400-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

One aspect that I really enjoyed about the game is the collection aspect.  Not only does it make sense to collect materials versus money (since money wouldn’t exist on a deserted island, anyway) but you can utilize most of the materials you collect.  In most RPGs I tend to sell off random collected materials for whichever monetary system the game established making the items seem incredibly pointless.  The collection aspect in Ys just made sense. There isn’t a limit to how much your character can “hold” so you can collect as much as you need to.

Between story plots, there are different types of raids you will need to participate in.  Depending on how well you do during a raid you will collect more items you can craft or trade for other things.  Before a raid, you’ll need to set up items to protect/distract beasts.  These items can be leveled up.  During a raid, the beasts will try to destroy these items and your goal is protect them and the camp.  You gain more points by using more special moves and using the dodge/block mechanic (as mentioned briefly above).

While adventuring, there are a variety of side activities you can do.  You can take on side quests to level up your relationships with members at the campsite, or, while adventuring, you can take a break and go fishing.  Fishing isn’t particularly important, but it helps with completing the journal (if you’re into that completion stuff), and in some instances locate hidden treasures.  Maxing out your approvals and completing missions for side will also affect the ending you get.2018082219024900-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Graphics

I have not played this title on any other console besides the Nintendo Switch.  Graphics aren’t remarkable, but they’re enough to draw you into the atmosphere of the Ys world.  In some instances, the game will lag and you’ll notice a significant decrease in quality.  I’ve only seen this when Adol is interacting with another character at the campsite and only in handheld mode. Switching to TV mode, I do not notice any decrease in quality.  I’ve also encountered this when I play as past Dana.  The game will lag when she needs to switch between powers.  When this happened, I would restart the game and it would play as normal.

Another aspect I enjoyed about the game is that monsters, in design, are varied.  Some look similar, but it’s not always a re-skin or re-color of another monster from a different area.  So, that’s a plus.  Of course, there are the same “types” of monsters around the island, but the varying design makes the areas you play through more believable and immersive, it’s like Seiren is a real place.

Verdict

Pros

The game play allows for a variety styles of play.  You’re not always bashing the same button or using the same character throughout the game. You’re also not focusing on only one mission at a time.  You can choose between plowing through to get to the next story point, or have a bit of fun exploring the island.

I love the plots, arcs, and twists to the overall story.  The game slowly reveals the mysteries of the island and you don’t want to leave until everything has been resolved.

Cons

Sometimes there’s a drop in graphic quality in handheld mode, but it’s not enough to ruin the game.  Every now and then a re-start is required.

It might be the Switch itself, but there are places where I accidentally pull up certain menus or will unleash an extra skill.  Button sensitivity can be slightly annoying.

Overall, I’d rate Ys VIII and 8 out of 10.  I really enjoyed the story, the dynamic game play sets Ys apart from other titles.  I couldn’t rank much higher than 8 since there were quite a few instances where I found myself putting down the game after an hour or so of play.  There’s some missing element that I can’t quite put my finger on which prevented me from being completely hooked on the game.Score

Have you played any Ys titles? Have you picked up Ys VIII? What are your impressions of the game? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

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NCG Review – The Escapists Complete Edition (Switch)

Originally released back in 2014 on PC, and later making its way to Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4 The Escapists The Complete Edition can now be played on the Nintendo Switch. The complete Edition brings all DLC packs, which are Alcatraz, Escape Team, Duct Tapes are Forever, Santa’s Sweatshop and Fhurst Peak Correctional Facility, which was previously exclusive to the PC release, all into one package.maxresdefault

Visuals

The Escapists The Complete Edition still keeps the same cute 8-bit look, but all in the palm of your hand this time around. And this looks great transitioning of from the big screen to handheld mode. Whether it’s the different scenery from the different scenarios, or even the different characteristics of each prisoner and police officer, the game looks great.whats-in-the-escapists-complete-edition-3

 

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and is what you know and love from all of the other ports. You are a prisoner and you need to do quests to gain items and money to get out of the prison, but you can make enemies on your way of doing so. For example, if you talk to one of the other prisoners and they ask you to distract the guards during a break session, you can hit another prisoner, however, this can have them turn on you later in the game so you’ll need to choose wisely. Players will need to be strategic in order to complete their quest to escape.large

Honestly I really recommend this title to everyone to try out. It is easy to pick up, and even easier to pick up on the with the Nintendo Switch. If you have not played The Escapists, this version is the perfect port to start at since it comes with all of the previous DLC and the core game. I give the Escapists a 7/10 for the accessibility, replay value, and uniqueness as a whole.Score

 

Playstation Classic announced and Launching December 3, 2018

Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced that they will be releasing the Playstation Classic. This will be a miniature console that replicates the looks of the original Playstation, as well comes preloaded with 20 classic titles, including fan-favorites such as Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. The console is set to release December 3, in North America for $99.

You can check out the release trailer and screenshots below.

NCG Review – SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (PS4, Switch)

Many players know SNK’s long running “The King of Fighter” series, but have you ever wondered why they never released “The Queen of Fighters?” Well now they (sort of?) have with “SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.” But is it really meant for the fighting game scene, or did they take on a different route with this title?1(1)

Visuals/ Audio

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has an awesome soundtrack that fits the theme of the whole game from the J-pop title screen to the quirky music while battling. I did enjoy listening to it all. Another part of the audio that I really enjoyed were the small sound effects when each charter attacks as well as the particle effects having random objects and confetti flying everywhere. Players will also notice that the character models look somewhat like KOF XIV, but upgraded just enough.6(1).png

Gameplay

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is not your typical hardcore 2D fighter, but more of a casual party game with some unique elements. Fighting game veterans will notice instantly that the button layout is a bit strange as it consist of a light attack,  a heavy attack, special attack, throw, guard, tag and Dream Finish button. Light attack and heavy attack are your main buttons for combos, which are all auto combos, and the special attack button lets players execute specials with the press of one direction and a button, making the game more accessible to the casual gamers within the game modes.1(2).png

The title consists of 5 game modes, which are Story mode, Versus, Survival, Tutorial, and Online. In Story Mode players will discover the girls of the SNK universe have been captured and have woken up in weird fan service clothing. The actual story never really unfolds and ends of falling flat, but Story Mode in any fighting game title usually falls flat. Survival also doesn’t feel challenging since it never jumps up in difficulty. In short, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has very little to offer for single player. The multi player, on the other hand, is where the game stands strong since the game doesn’t feel like a fighting game but a party game. 3.png

Verdict

If you are looking for an in-depth fighting game, or even a single player title, you will not find it here, but that doesn’t mean SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a terrible game. It does feel great for a party title and players who are not familiar with fighting game mechanics can pick up the game fast. At the end of the day, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzyis more of a fan service, casual game, and I would not recommend this title for the $49.99 price tag, but I would recommend trying it out. I give SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy a 5/10.

Score

 

 

 

NCG – Review – Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] (Steam)

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Story

Being an updated version, the game introduces 4 new characters as well as a new story mode in which players can unfold the story of the world in a Visual Novel gameplay style. When I say Visual Novel, I mean Visual Novel! There is no gameplay in this mode, but that does not mean the story is horrible. Players of the anime community will really enjoy the twists and turns in the story.Under_Night_6

Visuals

The visuals are somewhat the same from the original, and that is not a problem at all of because the game has its own distinct look and manages to keep everything pretty simple. With a 2D drawn art style that still draws me in when turning this title on, I can say a lot of gamers will like how it looks. It reminds me of Anime mixed with a dark theme such as Darkstalkers.UNIST_25

During fights the visuals of each special attack work well and look great. The menu has more of an arcade look and is simple enough where new players can navigate with ease. Even the story mode looks awesome with the visual novel art style.

Audio

The soundtrack to UNIST brings back some of the previous titles tracks as well as a few new tracks, and the new tracks still holds up to the magnificent scores for combat and story telling.UNIST_EU_Announcement_2

Gameplay

I always felt Under Night never had any spotlight in North America, and is very under rated, but with the new update I hope that changes as this title is a must have for fighting game enthusiast. The core gameplay is the same as most anime fighters, without the air dash. So, it’s sort of like The King of Fighters meets Anime! Combos are limited to one button press for standing and crouching per button, and in the air so players need to strategize what they will do in each combo. It also has an  auto combo for players that bash buttons, but this limits button mashing to execute really short combos the game wants you to learn passing and how to get in without button mashing, and this is perfect for new players wanting to join the fighting game community.UNIST_EU_Announcement_5

As I mentioned, this is a great game for new players because there is a new tutorial mode where everything is explained for fighting games in general. From executing and getting in, to how to finish combos and set up for another; this is a way to learn UNIST as wells as any other fighting essentials.UNIST_EU_Announcement_6

Of course, there is also online Ranked and Unranked play, which hold itself together pretty well but not to a perfect degree. The netcode isn’t perfect, as some matches lag even with two solid connections, but for the most part it is playable more than half of the time. And as for Ranked matches, the lobby’s will be full of veterans of the title, so I would recommend new players to not approach Ranked until you are ready to take on the best.

As mentioned, UNIST has 4 new cast members, Phonon with her whip, Mika a child with gigantic robotic hands, Wagner holding her sword and shield, and Enkidu who is pure martial arts. None of these characters feel like a rehash of previous characters or each other, and new players will be happy to see each have a different play style.

Verdict

With Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] coming out after one of the biggest fighting games this year a lot of players might miss this title. With an awesome Story mode for single player, fantastic visuals, and many more new additions, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] is a must have in my opinion. Although it lacks in online play at the moment, this is a great title for any one who is a fighting game fan our even a competitive fighting game player. I rate Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] an 8 out of 10.Score

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