Category Archives: game review

NCG Review – AI: Somnium Files (Switch, PC, PS4)

Basic Info

“The mind never lies…

In a near-future Tokyo, Special Agent Kaname Date is on the case of a mysterious serial killer. Date must investigate crime scenes as well as dreams on the hunt for clues. From the mind of Kotaro Uchikoshi (Zero Escape series director), with character design by the Yusuke Kozaki (NO MORE HEROES, Fire Emblem series), a thrilling neo-noir detective adventure is about to unfold.”

TITLE AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES
RELEASE DATE Digital (PSN, NSW, STEAM): September 17, 2019
Retail (PS4, NSW) : September 24, 2019
PLATFORM(S) PlayStation®4, Nintendo Switch™, Steam® (PC)
PRICE Standard Edition: $59.99/ €59.99

Special Agent Edition: $89.99/ €99.99

PLAYER(S) 1 player
GENRE Adventure
WEBSITE http://spike-chunsoft.com/ai | Steam Store
RATING ESRB: M/ PEGI: 18 / USK: 16
LANGUAGE(S) English/Traditional Chinese text, Japanese audio/English audio
DEVELOPER Spike Chunsoft, Co., Ltd.
COPYRIGHT ©Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Licensed to and Published by Spike Chunsoft, Inc.

Story

A woman’s body is found with multiple stab wounds and missing her left eye.  She is bound to a merry-go-round in a long abandon amusement park. When the main character, Kaname Date, arrives he immediately recognizes the woman. Shoko Nadami, the ex-wife of his close friend and mother to the young girl he is housing.

You mission? Solve the mysteries around this murder. Can you find the truth behind the incident and capture the killer?90

Throughout the game you play as Kaname Date.  With no memories from 6 years prior and missing his left eye, Kaname Date encounters Boss.  Boss helps Date get hired at the Metro Police as a detective in the Advanced Brain Investigation Squad (ABIS) and replaces his left eye with Aiba, an artificial intelligence directly wired to his brain.  Aiba, who has been with Date for 6 years, assists him with his work as a detective by providing him with instant information, x ray vision, the ability to see long distances, and predict actions that will get Date out of some sticky situations.   Aiba also acts as Date’s avatar when he needs to “Psync” into another person’s consciousness within Somnium (the subconscious world of another character).  Along with Aiba, Date investigates Shoko’s murder to find her killer.c00

There are many twists and turns as you meet new characters and learn their connection and/or involvement in the murder. One story line, based on your choices in Somnium, will play out in a completely different way compared to another route.  Some characters will live in one line, and some characters will die in another.  Can you make it to the “true” ending?

Gameplay

AI: Somnium Files is a mash-up of visual novel and puzzle game.  The basic story line carries core elements of a visual novel, however, rather than reading text on the screen you’re given an opportunity to interact with the room and characters around you. This is all presented to you in a limited way (your character cannot get up and walk around the room or explore new areas on your own), but you have the ability to look around you and take in the environment.01

In additional to visual-novel elements, you’ll be presented with the ability to “psync”.  The concept of this is diving into the sub consciousness of another character and unlock a repressed/hidden memory, which you will need to do in order to further your investigation.  During the Psync, you need to solve puzzles to find the secret hidden in a characters sub consciousness.  In order to solve the puzzle you interact, through Aiba, with the items in an area.  Unlike the limited presentation of the “investigation” aspect of the story, you can control Aiba and move her through the Somnium space.  How you interact with the objects is the key to unlocking the “mental blocks” put in place.  A Psync can only last for 6 minutes (game time), but each interaction you make with an object depletes the remaining time you have.  There are TIMIEs you can use which will decrease the amount of time spent on an action but there are also Negative TIMIEs which will increase the time for your next interaction.  Interactions with the objects are not obvious and you’ll end up burning through time to find the correct interaction.  Fortunately, you get 3 retries but sometimes finding the right order of interaction will take you more than 3 attempts.  There are some actions you perform that will have a Negative TIMIE in order to progress so on your next action so you need to figure out how to maximize the use of your time.10

How you complete the puzzles in Somnium determines the path of story.  Based on which “Mental locks” you open, the story will proceed down that path. Not every Somnium puzzle has separate paths, but ones that have two will lead you down a different story line.AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES_20190417131431

What really sets this game apart from similar titles is that you do not have to repeat the entire story to take a different path in the game.  Instead, you can go back to a “psync” and replay it. This increases the replay value and doesn’t make the game feel so tedious, which tends to happen with visual novels if you don’t know where and when to save.

Visuals/Graphics and Audio

Most visual novels can be very bland and fall flat when it comes to animation and graphics, however, the all dialogue of the game is voiced over which makes the story that much more engaging.  Characters are also animated when talking, moving their arms, making facial expressions and simple gestures, and this is a nice touch since it brings the characters to life.13

Verdict

Pros: Unlike most visual novels, the game doesn’t fall flat.  The story line itself is enough to keep the player intrigued and curious to know all the secrets of the game. Although frustrating at times, the puzzles are challenging.  You’re given hints on what you need to do, but finding the next action isn’t obvious. Although graphics aren’t “triple A” status, the animation and voice overs give enough to the player to bring the story to life.  While in Somnium, when performing an action, rather than the game telling you you’ve made a bad choice, the dialogue between the characters becomes ridiculous, either with Date and Aiba mocking each other or making jokes at Date’s expense.

Cons: The only real qualm I had with the game is the lack of opportunity to save before jumping into a Somnium puzzle.  Save points in games are incredibly important to me because I have to jump on and off of a game (hours of sit through game play? Not in my adult life!).  Sometimes a “Psync” will just start (it will be obvious when it does but almost unexpected) and I do not have the chance to save the game before jumping in.  You cannot save before or during a “psync” so I’m either stuck putting my game in “Sleep Mode” until I can play again, or hope that AutoSave will take me back where I left off.

I would rate this game an 8 out of 10.Score

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and even though the Somnium puzzles took me a few attempts, I found myself going back to unlock different story lines without much hesitation or feeling “too drained” to keep going.

Have you heard of this game? Will you pick up this title? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Review Pokken Tournament : Is This A Real Pokemon Battle?

Is This A Real Pokemon Battle?

I bet you have been wondering, is Pokken Tournament a real fighting game? Does it live up to expectations knowing Bandia Namco developed it, or is this another one of those Naruto Fighting game clones? Well lets find out if it’s the best bang for your bucks with our review.

Visuals
The presentation of Pokken tournament is as beautiful as ever, porting its way from the arcade to the Wii U. Not once did the frame rate drop,with its crisp, colorful 1080p resolution scenery and smooth 60 fps frame rate, Pokken delivers a stunning visual look and feel for players. Aside from the visuals from the gameplay, the menu layouts were as colorful and easy to use, giving you the feel from any other Pokemon  game to date. On the downside, when you end up playing local battles with one console the frame rate does drop down to 30fps dropping visual value, but Pokken does offer a solution for this with the LAN play option, bringing it back up to the original 60fps frame rate.

Sound/Audio
With an original soundtrack and the sounds from the battles, Pokken players will have the feel of a new Pokemon game in their hands. From players first step into a match, to the sounds in battle, it’s like competing in a real Pokemon tournament. Outside of the matches, the voice acting is what is to be expected of any dubbed Pokemon game. Besides an advisor that has a mediocre voice actor constantly giving advice, the rest of the story characters are a perfect fit right in the Pokemon universe.

Gameplay
Pokken Tournament is not your typical fighting game nor is it the Pokemon games you’re used too, but rather a new experience for fans. Whether you’re digging into the Ferrum League’s Story, or just hitting the Practice tutorials, the roster of 17 characters and the 30 support characters will welcome old and new comers to the franchise. With 5 game modes, new mechanics, a customization option for your trainer and the fast connecting online battles, Pokken gives players a full game experience. With the leveling up system, you can build your Pokemon to the stats you like, and even tweak them if you are not satisfied. Pokken also introduces the synergy system, This is a meter that is filled up while doing damage in battle. Once the synergy meter fills up you are able to go into a synergy burst, which will unlock more potential from your Pokemon along with a powerful special cinematic move. Pokken also introduces a new support character system which has a meter system as well. Unlike the synergy meter, the support meter is filled over time, once its filled you can call out your support character to; help deal damage, heal, or stat boost your the opponent and your character. During battles your are also introduced to the shields, counter attack and grabs. Shields are very useful for blocking attacks except for the punishing grabs, and the counter attack is an attack that has a temporary shield while attacking and will assist you when you opponent has you in a situation you normally wouldn’t be able to get out of.

Verdict

Pokken Tournament doesn’t fail to deliver. With the beautiful original soundtrack, smooth menu layouts, fast combat system, and new mechanics, Pokken tournament will have players coming back for more. The only downside, Pokken doesn’t offer a full 60fps local multiplayer experience, unless you have two copies of the game and two consoles. Other than that Pokken Tournament is a must have for Wii U owners and Pokemon fans, and yes, it does feel worthy of the label “fighting game”.

Thank you for reading our review, do you agree with our verdict?  What are your thoughts on Pokken Tournament? 
Leave a comment below or on our social media websites

The Division: Review

The Division: Review

By Eduardo Canales (The EAC)
After months of anticipation The Division, released March 8, 2016 was worth the wait.

The natural progression of the story feels organic as far as storylines go.  You feel a sense of urgency to complete the main missions to see what happens next, but you can still go out and enjoy side missions which explore the city and, if you’re lucky, get into a dark zone or two. Considering the story of The Division, the scenarios are portrayed realistically. You’ll encounter civilians boarding or going for supply drops that are meant for the whole population that is still in New York, as well as Fanatics trying to totally eradicate the disease.

 The graphics pull you into the game and do a fantastic job immersing you into this this disease ridden New York. Luckily, I haven’t come across any glitches so far (knock on wood). Personally, I am a big fan of the way they show fire engines and awed by the fire graphics; they’re the some of the best that I have seen in a game. If it’s from a trap explosion, flamethrower, your name, or just a random error that you shoot to take out your enemies the flames are gorgeous.

The Weapons Systems is very comfortable and easy to use. For anyone who regularly plays any type of FPS the shooting mods are easy to grasp and fun to use. Building and upgrading your weapons for high level of enemies can be frustrating yet rewarding as it gives you more of a purpose explore every square inch of any environment. So far, I have not really used any crafting items or crafted anything although I have already found everything I need it from looting the stages, but I know it will come in handy as I collect more weapon parts in order to create more powerful weapons.

The Division feels like a cross between Destiny’s Borderlands with a real-world setting. I would highly recommend The Division. It is entertaining, challenging, and immersive. I’m only 10 hours into the game only but it feels like I’ve only played for a few.