Archives for : July2011

Sylia the RPG Review

Aldorlea Games the makers of the Laxius Force and the Millennium RPG series published Ensorcelled GamesSylia. Sylia is an RPG of the SNES style JRPG with turn based combat. Though it does have a few differences from your standard fare. Sylia left me with a number of mixed feelings.

Sylia starts off with a pretty standard storyline. You have four hero’s; a sword and shield knight, an axe wielding knight a white mage and a black mage. It is there job to stop the alien queen from taking over the planet, and although you start this game feeling like you missed the whole war. Which you have they have not succeeded yet, but the humans are celebrating their heroes before they go off on their last and most dangerous mission, to kill the queen alien. I’ll tell you this much, there hasn’t been a bunch of heroes I wanted to fail more than these cocky and ignorant heroes. Their conversations amongst each other was more painful than Tidas and Yuna’s mock Casablanca whistling scene in Final Fantasy X. Luckily we don’t have to listen to this group for very long.

They fail and they doom the world. With all of the human race stoned a very unlikely and completely unexpected set of heroes rise to save the day. Basically the animals of the world go after the aliens, it’s either that or let the aliens destroy the planet. Now the conversations between your new team are no longer annoying although they are nothing to get hyped about. Sylia has a good number of rpg cliches, but the animals do have some interesting abilities. This can make for some interesting parties, and you really do have a selection. It isn’t hard to get a decent team together.

What is hard is the game. Where the story seems like it could be great for all ages the puzzles will have even the best of RPG players scratching their head. The forum on Ensorcelled’s site may be your only hope of completing some of the side quests. Most Quests are handed to you with only one short line as to what they want. Telling you nothing about where you need to go or even the direction. These incredibly vague quests are definitely for the hardcore RPG fan.

The same can be said with the dungeons. They are all difficult mazes that may have you walking in circles with few rooms that contain something that breaks the pattern of the walls and floors of that dungeon. Don’t get me wrong I liked the added complexity, but there were definitely points  even in the first dungeon with the new team that I got lost. Ended up leaving and re-entering the dungeon a few times before I figured out what I needed to do to get through it.

As far as the music goes, I would say it is average and there is a nice option in game to set your own battle music between a few choices. This makes the music a bit more enjoyable. As far as art, much of the games art work is repetitive patterns. Much like many old SNES and NES games so this only bothered me while searching for definable land marks. The controls for the game are incredibly simple and take no real skill to learn so that is a plus when you are wanting to just jump right in.

Now let me tell you why my feelings are so mixed on this RPG. When I first started, I had to force my way past the prologue and even a little into the story. I had some real difficulty getting into the story, once I did though I really started to get going and the next many, many hours I was having a pretty good time, even when I was looking for the solution to a quest with basically nothing to go on. Then came the wall. I hit it so hard I didn’t know what to do. I looked in the forum and things pointed towards a object I had seen once but didn’t go and click on it left the room and noticed it right before the screen changed to the next room. I immediately had went back, but it was gone. When reading over what I needed in the forum it appeared that this object was the key. So I spent hours going into the room, out of the room and back into the room to get this randomly spawning object to respawn only to find out according to another response in a different forum thread that you only find it once. So because of that I know I missed my chance at it and found out that it wasn’t the thing I needed either.

I seem to be lost once again in the game and I don’t think I can bear any more hours wasted on just trying to find my way out of this dungeon. I felt I spent way too much time with one issue already that I don’t have the patience to do it again any time soon. Do I think this game is good? Yes. Do I think it is hard? Yes. Do I think the non-RPG player would like it? Honestly, I think the game is more directed to the hardcore RPG audience.

I give this a 3 out of 5, There is a lot to like for the skilled RPG player, but a bunch to infuriate most other style gamers. Download the demo first.

Tidalis Review

Arcen Games‘ puzzle game Tidalis for the PC has some interesting traits to it. Tidalis is another game in the family of falling block puzzle games, but with some entertaining differences. Tidalis is all about creating streams to remove the blocks on the playfield. If you’re a casual puzzle player or a serious one, chances are you should be interested in this game.

Like many falling block games the object is to connect three or more of the same color block. What is different about Tidalis is the way in which you make these connections. You won’t be rotating sets of four blocks or switching two blocks with each other. You won’t be controlling the falling blocks either. It is all about the streams. Blocks have directional arrows on them and you can change the direction of these arrows to suit your needs. Then when you think you have a stream ready you click on a block and a stream will emit from that block heading in the direction of the arrow, if it hits another block of the same color before it runs out the stream will continue in the new direction. Once the stream has ended if 3 or more blocks are lit they will vanish and the blocks above them will fall. The block directly above a removed block will then also emit a stream when it falls into place. this can create combo streams worth a lot of points. Once all the streams have finished going your ready to set off another stream. While a stream is going you can still change the directions of arrows in an attempt to keep future streams going.

The game would be pretty simple if it was just that, but there is a lot more to this game. For one not all of the puzzles are falling block puzzles. One type is the zen puzzle in which the entire board is filled with blocks and you must complete an objective while any blocks that are removed cause the other blocks to fall and new blocks from above to fall to keep the board full. Many more game play modes give the game a different feel and keep you on your toes. With puzzles that require you to remove a certain number of blocks while keeping your score under a certain number. The game is full of challenges.

With numerous special blocks that require special methods to remove them. Some have special effects on the streams from splitting them into all four directions or stopping them in their tracks. What you will need to do to keep from losing constantly changes, in each match.

Now on to the game modes available. Well there is an adventure mode, which has a cutesy story and introduces you to the myriad of puzzle modes. This mode is surprisingly long, but if you get stuck on a puzzle you can always skip the puzzle. Although I ask you what is the fun in that. You can also skip the story parts as well if you want to get straight to each level. So adventure mode is a bit what you make of it.

Another mode is Quick play which is exactly as it sounds start up a match and set some options and play against the computer or a friend. Another mode allows for you to play against others across the net. You can also download custom boards other players have created as well as make your own puzzle to share with others. With the myriad of match modes and block types, you are hardly limited in creating a unique level of your own.

The game supports co-op play as well as versus modes. This can also be done while sharing the same PC for game play. Now I will admit I did not try to play this game two players on the same PC, although I did play vs against the AI which has different difficulty settings. This is a highly addictive game with a lot of replay value.

I give this game a 4 out of 5 and well worth it’s price, especially for puzzle addicts.

Family Farm Review

I know what your thinking, kiddie farm game. I know the title just screams it, but it’s really not. Family Farm by Hammerware is a surprisingly fun farm simulation for the PC published by Iceburg Interactive. This isn’t like Sim Farm where everything was horrendously serious and complicated though. This has more the feel of The Sims if it was played on a farm instead of a house.

When you start this game you set up a profile and as you play you gain experience that increases your game rank and allows you access to more variety as well as more difficult stages. The game is divided into Story modes and a Custom Mode. Story mode is 10 preset scenarios; 4 easy, 3 medium and 3 hard. Within each story you have a goal to complete the story, as well as a harder goal to earn a gold trophy. Each year there will be a simple goal to complete that helps you earn extra cash and experience to your rank. Not to mention that everything you do helps to increase your rank.

Custom Mode, allows you to set up a free mode of your own choosing to do whatever you please using whatever you have already unlocked. You set the time limit, the house, the map, and family size and you’re ready to start your game. One of the nice things about Custom Mode is once you’ve unlocked the first house and map at rank 5 you can use custom mode to increase your rank more if you don’t feel like playing any scenarios. Allowing you to test out the various plants and animals on your farm to see methods to make money faster all the while increasing your rank to allow for the use of other aspects in the scenarios without the pressure of a goal to accomplish within in a set time. A relaxing change of pace.

I’ve played the heck out of this game, and found that it balances the weight of a farm simulation game and a relaxing game well. Even in the story modes you may feel a little pressure to beat the scenario to get the gold Trophy or just the satisfaction of beating the scenario, but it never feels overwhelming. I found this a refreshing aspect to the game. While this game features a nice set of aspects as well. Such as raising a family, characters who grow in skill individually based on the tasks you set before them. Not to mention the ability to hire on extra hands when you need to accomplish more than your family can do on it’s own. It allows you to take out a loan, but as you start receiving money back it goes straight into paying off your debt.

In this game you won’t be worrying about buying new equipment for your farms. It’s more about having a functional and happy family running the farm. Push them to hard and they will get tired wait to long to get food ready and they will work slower. Increase your house size to allow your family to have a baby who will eventually join the rest of the family in maintaining the farm. Plant flowers and place decorations around the farm land to increase the moral of the hired help as well as the family. This does help increase their productivity. The game has a lot of little things you can do and it can be important to use the right family member to do certain tasks to be more affective.

The game allows you to zoom out for a wider view or in so you can get a good look at the family as they work. As the farm expands I found myself rarely zooming in since I had so many hands, both family and hired that I needed to keep moving. Sadly they don’t just go and do the next nearest job when they complete one. They instead will sit down and relax or if they are close enough to food they will go and eat if they are hungry.

With all this game has to offer and the hours of playtime, I have to give it a 4.5 out of 5. It’s not a five, but I think any gamer of any age can enjoy this game to some degree. It’s worth looking into and I am glad I played it. This is just one of those games you know you will come back to again and again when you want a little lighthearted fun.