Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 6 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Whodunnit? Who cares.

As this chapter opened with possibly the longest string of QTEs so far in the series, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Then we entered a spooky old mansion and it was the beginning of a murder mystery, and I thought – actually, this is sort of cool.

Then I realised the other visitors to the mansion were real life “Youtubers”. Good grief.

I get that the game isn’t aimed at me. I don’t know who these people are and in a way it doesn’t matter, but it irked me so much that they were in it. Thankfully, some of them were killed off. Sadly, some were not.

Their horrible voices. Do they put them on? Is it a requirement for being on Youtube? Surely they don’t sound like that in real life? How the hell do people watch them without taking a drill bit to their eardrums? Kids today, eh? I suppose the horror added to the atmosphere so there’s that at least.

One thing I must say here, though, is that although the voices are horrible, the actual voice acting itself is surprisingly good.

Anyway. Once more there were no puzzles. At some point it looked like you might need to think for yourself and decide to make a ladder, but then the game just tells you to make one anyway. Why? In another bit, you have to get a cat off a chest. You’re literally told to make a fishing rod (and shown how) and told to catch a fish (and told where to get one). It might as well do it for you.

Oh, and my daughter figured out who the bad guy was waaaaay before it was revealed.

That’s that done now. Two episodes left.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 5 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Castles in the sky.

Well, this episode improved on the previous one somewhat. Sure, it was more QTEs and terrible fighting, but the story (a mostly standalone one, rather than a continuation of the previous one) was OK. It was funnier than the other episodes too, which helped.

The chicken was great, and although cliché I did like the Fight Club references. Not sure why Ivor has gone from Bringer of Evil to the comedy character though.

Anyway, with that done the setup for the next (and presumably further) episodes appears to be Sliders. As in the TV show, rather than little hamburgers.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 4 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Bacon, anyone?

Meh. This episode was pretty boring. Some puzzles that weren’t (again, you’re told how to complete them, or they’re blatantly obvious). Far too many QTEs, including what would have been an “epic finale” only it was full of QTEs.

Am I missing something? Am I just making the dialogue choices in the game which completely avoid all of the adventure and puzzle sections? Have I put it on “I’ve never played a video game before help me mummy” mode in the options?

I’m also confused as to why the story ended when there are four more episodes left to go. On the plus side, there are only four more episodes to go.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 3 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Dropping the F-Bomb

Things should be getting good now, right? I mean, there are Endermen (nope, no idea) and a massive room made of wool. And we’re making a giant bomb (hilariously referred to as an “F-Bomb”)! And collect five pink blocks that aren’t even hidden in a room. Puzzles? Nope. Interaction? Barely. QTEs? Oh hell yes!

So this is how it’s going to be. I can’t really complain, as that’s just how some games are. It isn’t a bad thing. But I was expecting an adventure game. All of the choices I’ve made so far have had very little impact either. I said something that made Lukas really angry, when presumably one of the other options didn’t. In the next conversation with him no more than two minutes later, he was fine again. What was the point?

Plot-wise, I found Soren, we escaped from his house in “The End” (no idea what relevance that location name has either), then I made a bomb and blew up the Wither. Only, of course, it isn’t dead because this was only the 3rd episode and there are five more.

Am I enjoying it? Sort of. Is it what I wanted? No. What I expected? No. What I’d have bought knowing what it was like? No. Hmm.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cutie E.

Did things get better in Episode 2? Erm, no. Not really. More terrible combat, some out-of-the-blue QTEs, and not a single puzzle. Unless you class “click on everything” a puzzle. And if you do that, you’re an idiot.

Jesse went with Olivia to find Ellegaard or something. I had to click on everything outside of her “dome”, which opened her “dome”. Then I just clicked on what I was told to click on. Then we ran away, with some more QTEs. And then you go somewhere else, find Ivor, fight him and it’s the end of the episode.

This really isn’t up there with previous Telltale Games games, for sure.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 1 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Bland crafted.

Minecraft: Story Mode is another of those games I bought in a PSN sale at some forgotten point in the past. Which I then played for half an hour and then didn’t again. But now I did. Done. Have did.

Unlike most 12 year olds, I have no interest in Minecraft. Certainly, I’ve played it to a tiny degree, but it’s all too blocky and tedious for me to find any real fun it it. Aside from dropping TNT all over the place, of course. As a result, I came to this game solely from enjoying Telltale’s other adventure games, hoping my lack of Minecraft knowledge wouldn’t hinder me.

In this first episode, it hasn’t, really. There’s a lot of “lore”, but it’s mostly irrelevant to how you actually play. You have to craft stuff, but you’re literally told how, and essentially given all the ingredients. Perhaps you have to solve a puzzle to get something, but that’s it. So far, those puzzles haven’t been any more difficult than “flip this switch”, so perhaps “puzzle” isn’t the right word.

Unlike most other Telltale adventures, there’s some combat. This combat is little more than a QTE, however, but then there’s a million other QTEs that appear too. In fact, there are more QTEs that actual puzzle interaction, so the game feels more Dragon’s Lair and less Sam & Max. Not a good thing, in my opinion.

Still, there’s a good story to follow, right? Um. Maybe? It’s that lore issue. Some stuff about a witherstorm and traveling through “the Nether” and honestly? I have no idea. There are choices to be made with the characters but they don’t seem to make a lot of difference to how things play out.

Hopefully things will improve in later episodes. This one did seem to just be the setup – bad guy unleashes really bad thing, historical heroes need to be found, some temple “base” of said heroes is reached, and so on. Thing is, the game has been a combination of too-simple puzzles and too-rubbish QTEs so far, and I can’t really see them changing the mechanics.

Unravel (PS4): COMPLETED!

Red Thread Redemption

Unravel was bought about a year ago, but after playing the first level, I didn’t play it again. I’d enjoyed it, but as is so often the case, something else came along immediately and I forgot all about it, until the other day.

I picked up where I left off, and after just a few hours (not all in one sitting), it was all over.

The story follows, erm, I’m not entirely sure. A little yarn man who revisits the life a man and woman as they gradually age, by entering photos of places they’d been. As he navigates each level, filled with minor platforming and mostly simple puzzles, he slowly unravels himself. Because he’s made of wool, see – and that’s the name of the game. Checkpoints allow you to “refill” your wool, but care needs to be taken you choose the correct route – sometimes untying knots you’ve made to release some slack – or you won’t reach!

Unravel

All of the levels look beautiful. Genuinely photorealistic fore- and backgrounds, coupled with gorgeous woollyman animation and great environmental and lighting effects combine to create one of the best looking games ever. One of the snowy areas (complete with a pine cone you roll into a snowball) being perhaps the pinnacle.

It’s short, clever, gorgeous and – perhaps a spoiler – sad, but I loved it from start to finish.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

That’s it. I’m done.

I haven’t 100%ed it, but I have most of the achievements, all the collectables except a few secrets and helices, and just shy of 50 hours spent it’s time to move on.

There’s got to be something this game is doing right for me to spend that long on it. It’s the best Assassin’s Creed in a very long time, but I think being set in London elevates it a little too. It certainly isn’t perfect, but I don’t think it needs to be.

I could push for 100%, but I think it’s time to move on now.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

And that’s all the murder mysteries done. The final one (as part of the video below) is a little… odd. Still lots to do!

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

True to my word, I’m still playing. I’ve probably put six hours or more into it now, after finishing it. Or at least, getting to the point where I assume I’ve finished it.

What I’ve done, is mainly find collectables. I did also go and talk with Henry, who thanked me for my work and said he had something for me. He didn’t. Similarly, I spoke to Clara, who said the same thing. Yet gave me nothing. In addition, I keep getting popup messages telling me to speak to the woman on the train for more train missions, only she isn’t on the train.

Besides that nonsense, I’ve also been solving the murders for the Penny Dreadful side-missions. They’re quite fun, each seemingly based around a known Victorian murder story (like Sweeney Todd) only with a twist (i.e. it wasn’t the barber). They play out a bit like investigations in Batman crossed with something from Phoenix Wright. I think I’ve exhausted them all now though, as I can’t see any more on the map.

Onward with the collecting, then. And the Darwin and Dickens memories too, I think!

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cor blimey guv’nor, there’s bin a murder!

Before I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I was reminded of how many people saw it as superior to Assassin’s Creed Unity. It seems that although in the most part Unity was a return to how the series used to be, it was overly “Ubied” up, with map icons galore and bugs a-plenty. The latter of which is par for the course in Assassin’s Creed, of course, but by the time I got round to playing it most had been patched out. I still had plenty of issues, but it was a better game than the version early adopters had despaired with.

That was Unity, however. At first, I found Syndicate a little hard to enjoy. More grimy, more violent than Unity, and with too much of a focus on trains perhaps. I instantly hated Jacob, one of Syndicate’s twin protagonists, for being too cocksure and brash. Evie, however, was pretty awesome, so I used her wherever possible in his stead.

Initially, the mission structure confused me. I didn’t understand how to do the next “story” memory, as they all seemed jumbled up with side quests and targets and other stuff. Eventually, at some point in Sequence 4 or 5, I realised you have to do the “Evie head”, “Jacob head” or “Skull” icons on the map. Until then, I’d stumbled randomly through the game and it didn’t help me like it.

assassin's creed syndicate

Soon enough, though, it clicked. I really got into it. I started liking Jacob more (he’s brilliantly sarcastic). The conquest events, which seemed tedious and dull when a few hours in became one of my favourite bits of the game. The story was simpler, less convoluted, than Unity (and most of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, actually) and I think was better for it. Evie and Jacob take over London and find a piece of Eden. Done. No treachery, no double/triple/quadruple agents (aside from one character, but you can see that from a mile away), no unexpected twists. Just good, old-fashioned Assassins vs Templars.

And I completed it. At least, I think I did. You see, I finished what was clearly the final mission: kill the main bad guy. That’s not a spoiler – it’s literally the aim of the game. After that, no credits. No end sequence. Nothing. Except for an email, as in, a real email in my real-life inbox, from Ubisoft congratulating me for completing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Now, I’m no fan of Ubi’s end of game credits, which are often longer than the game itself as they list every human being that has ever lived, and their pets. It just seemed odd not to have them. Or anything.

assassin's creed syndicate

I did, however, have a message with some suggestions. I should do some missions for Queen Victoria, and take over the rest of London. So I did those too. Nothing.

There are non-story missions still littering the map. Associate activities, flowers to collect, and so on. Surely I don’t need these to “finish” the game? My usual metric is to declare a game completed when I hit the credits. That hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it will. In any case, I’m taking it as done.

assassin's creed syndicate

By the end, and I mean the end I got to rather than the end which may or may not exist, I realised that I was enjoying Syndicate way more than I’d expected to. I know I declared Unity a return to form when I played that last year, but this is another step closer. A definite refinement. I may even do what I’ve not done since Brotherhood: Try to get all the collectables, because I’m enjoying it that much. Once more, it isn’t perfect. But if Ubi can take this and polish it a bit more, then I have high hopes for Origins. It has taken a long time to recover from the massive misstep that was Assassin’s Creed III. They’re there now – just don’t ruin it!

If you want to see my complete, but lengthy, playthrough, then watch this video playlist:

Lego Dimensions: Mission: Impossible (PS4): COMPLETED!

Colonocolypse

It’s been a while since I played Lego Dimensions, but I had Zelda, you know? And turning on the PS4 was hard. But, I did have one last level pack to play through – Mission: Impossible.

As with the rest of Lego Dimensions, this was completed in co-op with my daughter. She has no idea what Mission: Impossible is, even less so than she did with any of the other packs. Not that it really mattered.

mission impossible

From what I recall – and it was some time ago – this pack is the first Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible film. There’s the same confusing face-swapping and double/triple/quadruple crossing, and the climax is a fight in the Channel Tunnel. The level itself is pretty standard Lego fare, with nothing too out of the ordinary (unlike, say, Adventure Time or Doctor Who). Ethan Hunt’s drone is nice. His face swapping is good too. It’s a shame there’s not more made of it, though.

The game is pretty big, enjoyable, and has Mr T in it. With that in mind, the list of levels now goes: Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Portal 2 > Doctor Who > Mission: Impossible > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

 

Lumo (PS4): COMPLETED!

A wizard’s staff has a knob on the end.

Lumo is how you remember old Spectrum isometric games played. You know the ones, like Batman and Head over Heels and Knightlore. Only you remember wrong. Because although we all loved them back then, they were a pig to control and the hardest things ever.

Take the idea of these games, and view them through a rose-tinted lens, and you have Lumo. It both pays homage to, and lampoons, the 8-bit isometric arcade adventure genre.

lumo

You begin in “the real world”, visiting a small-time retro gaming event. One of the machines on display malfunctions, and you’re sucked into a world where you’ve become a super-deformed wizard and electrified floors and hidden cassette tapes are the order of the day. You move from room to room, overcoming platforming challenges or puzzles, collecting four artefacts. Collect them all and you just might return home.

Where Lumo succeeds is in evoking the feeling of those old games. Not just in the viewpoint, but in the sort of objects, room layouts and traps you encounter. Several rooms are almost carbon copies of classic ones, triggering the retro glands. Some rooms contain more front-and-centre references, literally including sprites or screenshots. There are nods to 80s computer games and UK gaming culture of the time everywhere. In one section, you ride a lift and the music playing is Your Sinclair’s very own Whistlin’ Rick Wilson and his classic “Hold My Hand Very Tightly (Very Tightly)”. They played it on Radio 1 once, you know.

Sometimes the game will deviate from the Ritman/Drummond/Ultimate template into other areas. There’s a minecart section, and several bonus areas that ape Ballblazer, Zaxxon, Horace Goes Skiing and Nebulus amongst others. Some of these work well in isometric, some (*cough* Horace *cough*) do not.

Lumo

Where Lumo performs less well is mainly due to this 45 degree viewpoint. Also a complaint with many of the classic titles, seeing where you are in space relevant to platforms you need to land on can be a struggle. One particular section in a later area of the game has you navigating a bubble between spikes, and it’s near impossible to determine where it will actually pass. Failing a screen because your pixel-perfect jumping isn’t up to scratch is one thing, but because it looks like the landing area is in front of you when it’s actually up in the sky several squares away? Not great.

Thankfully, and unlike isometric titles of yore (unless you cheated!), infinite lives help stave off throwing your gaming device through a window. Some of the more tricky, long, or “perspectively challenged” areas still cause the red mist after several dozen deaths, but these are rare.

It’s definitely a game aimed at 80s Speccy kids, and is worth playing for the nostalgia if nothing else. In itself it’s pretty decent too. It may lack a little polish perhaps. And maybe a few rooms should have been tweaked to reduce the viewpoint issues a tad, but there’s a lot to like here anyway. Oh, just one more thing: Make sure you install the update before you play. There are nasty save game bugs otherwise!

lumo

Grow Up (PS4): COMPLETED!

And the award for most phallic flora goes to…

grow up Just a brief thing about Grow Up here. It’s good, it’s not as good as the original (Grow Home), and I enjoyed it.

OK, perhaps a little more than that. The premise is slightly different to the first game. You now have to find the parts of M.O.M. (literally your mothership) scattered around the planet. There is more than one Star Plant. The onus is more on jumping and (later) gliding from place to place. For some reason the game pauses sometimes when you collect things or land. It’s very pretty. The strange animals are cute. You can still drown them while they look at you with disappointment.

Despite the game, there’s less growing up than in Grow Home. Instead, you have to scale multiple heights rather than one main one. Each feels less high, and although you ultimately reach the moon, it doesn’t seem nearly as high up as in the first game.

Still, as I said, it was fun, the skies were blue, and I very much enjoyed it. 100%ing it, by doing all the challenges and finding (or rather, stumbling across) all the crystals though? Nah, y’aight.

Lego Dimensions: Portal 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Now you’re playing with Portals

After a short hiatus while I finished off a few 3DS games, my daughter and I got back on Lego Dimensions and ran through the Portal 2 level.

It was good! Full of Cave Johnson, some nice Portal 2 puzzles (including the blue bouncy gel and the orange accelerating gel), and of course, it was pretty funny too. I’m not sure the game considered just how easy it was to skip massive sections with a flying vehicle, such as the Cloud Cuckoo Car, as two large areas we missed almost entirely, but that doesn’t really matter.

lego dimensions portal 2

The hub world is decent too, with plenty of referenced – you have to grow the potato, for example. And the shed from the end of the first Portal game is there too, as is Chell’s “room”, complete with toilet. Toilets are important.

We’ve just the one level pack remaining now – Mission Impossible.

Oh! And before I go, you’ll be wanting an updated List, right?

Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Portal 2 > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

There you go!