Ranking All Danganronpa Characters (Part 2)

We are on part two of my list of Danganronpa characters.  At this point, we’re out of characters I just disliked, and on to characters with genuine positive and negative traits.  Rank ordering them was difficult, but I’m proud to display the list I’ve come up with, and excited to share it with others.

Two disclaimers before we begin.  First of all, I love and adore everyone involved in making this series a reality, so when I criticize the voice acting or look of a character, this is a comment that the artistic choice made does not suit my personal tastes, and not an attack on the artist or voice actor.  

Second of all, and I cannot stress this enough, this list is going to SPOIL every aspect of the games.  I am going to talk about plot events, murderers, and victims openly, as these events may be the reason the character earned its place on the list.  If you have even the slightest intent to play these games and haven’t yet, then bookmark this list and come back to it later.  All right, on to the list!

32.  Kiyotaka Ishimaru

20180709142314_1

Kiyotaka is one of very few characters in this series that I thought got more annoying as the game went on.  Most characters grow as people and become more nuanced and interesting.  After Mondo betrayed Kiyotaka’s trust, his hair turned white and he yelled a lot about how pumped up he was.  Thankfully, Celestia did everyone a favor and murdered him before he could get too annoying.  Overall, I appreciated his militaristic adherence to rules, and his trust in Mondo being so strong that he was unwilling to believe his friend was guilty even when the evidence was overwhelmingly against him.  His weird nervous breakdown was just a little too insane for my tastes, which lowered his overall ranking on this list.

31.  Nekomaru Nidai

20180709143131_1

I mostly like this character because I think his Mechamaru form is really stylistically neat.  His relationship with Akane is also satisfying to watch, as two characters that seem to be so hardened are such softies around each other…when they aren’t sparring, at least.  The main problem with Nekomaru is that I don’t think poop jokes are all that funny, and that’s the vast majority of the dialogue in his repertoire.

30.  Mondo Owada

20180709142335_1

Mondo’s character design is just silly.  His hair looks like he wears an armadillo as a hat, which completely detracts from him trying to be this grizzled gang leader.  The fact that he murdered Chihiro, one of the sweetest and most innocent characters in the entire series, did nothing to get me to like him.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also has one of the worst executions in the series, so there wasn’t even a decent payoff for finishing the class trial!  That said, I did really like his backstory, and the fact that he swapped the murder scenes to protect Chihiro’s secret was sweet, in a distinctly Danganronpa sort of way.

29.  Leon Kuwata

20180709142347_1

I actually feel pretty bad for Leon.  It’s got to be rough to try and console a scared teenage girl and be an upstanding citizen, only for said girl to try and stab him to death.  While Sayaka’s murder is unfortunate, as it got the ball rolling for the killing game, I’m mostly sad that Leon didn’t get more time to develop, because he actually seemed like a pretty interesting character.  Leon’s execution was one of the best in the series, too, letting everyone know exactly what they’re in for when they play this series.

28.  K1-B0

20180709143927_1

K1-B0, to me, felt like one gimmick too far for the Danganronpa series.  Things like ultimate clairvoyant and ultimate Yakuza are silly, but at least there are actually Yakuza clans and people who believe themselves to be psychic.  A robot, though?  This is getting a bit silly.  Granted, once I got over the robot thing, K1-B0 was actually a pretty interesting character, and he had some great banter with other characters, like Miu and Kokichi.  Learning that he was an avatar for viewer involvement was also a fascinating twist that just added to the excitement of the ending.  I just wish he wasn’t a robot.

27.  Sayaka Maizono

20180709142422_1

Oh Sayaka, how could you betray Makoto like that?  Sayaka did a great job of introducing me to the world of Danganronpa.  The sugary sweet pop star certainly didn’t look like anything more than Makoto’s potential love interest, but that’s what Monokuma’s handy dandy motives are for!  The attempted murder of Leon that resulted in her own death was a heart-wrenching first trial, and I could do nothing but watch as Makoto’s unwavering optimism is put to the test while he learns he’s been manipulated and framed by Sayaka.  She’s not the greatest character, as her purpose in the game was to make goo goo eyes at Makoto, but she served her purpose well.

26.  Akane Owari

20180709143154_1

I’m pretty sure that Akane’s only purpose for being in this game is for the fanservice.  When she gets angry, some of the buttons pop off her shirt because that’s logically what happens to all women, right ladies?  Regardless of this, I found Akane’s characterization to be quite charming.  She’s not exactly the brightest bulb of the group, famously believing that the real Byakuya was the imposter brought back from the dead after losing a lot of weight, but she’s got a positive attitude and always helps to keep the ball rolling in the class trials.  Her relationship with Nekomaru was always refreshing, and her attachment to mini-Nekomaru was a touching moment of character development.

25.  Celestia Ludenberg

20180709142517_1

Celestia tries her hardest to be an unlikable character.  She compulsively lies, starting with when she gives us what is obviously a fake name at the very start of the game, and is generally aloof in her interactions with the other characters.  In spite of that, I can’t help but love her.  She has this goth Lolita style going on, and her constant lying did make me stop and wonder what she’s hiding behind the lies on multiple occasions.  Additionally, she took out Hifumi and Kiyotaka, two characters that I didn’t care for, so that increases her standing in my book.

24.  Sonia Nevermind

20180709143220_1

Sonia is just an adorable character, and I found that she was great at providing levity to tense situations.  She’s easily excited, which can be refreshing among all the gloom and doom occurring around her.  I especially appreciated when she would suddenly talk excitedly about something creepy, like the occult or a serial killer, because the subject contrasted deeply from her appearance.  Honestly, I was surprised she was a surviving member, as I didn’t think there was much that was particularly memorable about her, but I’m really glad she made the cut, because every scene she’s in is an absolute joy to watch.

23.  Kaede Akamatsu

20180709143824_1

Here we go:  the first protagonist on the list.  Kaede had it rough in this game.  She attempts to kill the mastermind, but her plan ultimately fails and she gets the most gruesome execution in the series.  She’s lower on the list primarily because I didn’t get enough of her personality in the short time I knew her, but using her last few moments alive to build Shuichi’s confidence says a lot about her kindness, and how much she genuinely wanted to help everyone escape the school.  Unfortunately, thanks to Tsumugi framing her as a killer, that will never happen.

22.  Makoto Naegi

20180709141247_1

Makoto is an absolute sweetheart.  He’s so trusting in his friends, and seems to lack the resentment that others around him have due to being in the killing game.  He’s genuinely the most cheerful person in the series, and that is incredibly refreshing.  That said, without a more delicate way of putting this, Makoto makes Yasuhiro seem brilliant by comparison sometimes.  I remember screaming at my computer as I was playing through the first trial that “11037” is obviously not just some random number.  Even if he didn’t know a traditional Latin alphabet, he probably should have done a little more research and not just ignored those numbers completely.

21.  Gundham Tanaka

20180709143057_1.jpg

Gundham is here almost entirely because his four dark devas of destruction are too adorable for words.  Additionally, while it’s up for debate, I choose to believe the theory that Gundham sacrificed himself by killing Nekomaru in order to free everyone from the funhouse that Monokuma was using to starve the characters.  Add that to the fact that he looks cool stylistically, with his dark demeanor amusingly contrasting his ultimate talent, as well as his sweet blossoming friendship or potential romance with Sonia, and there’s a cool character here.  The reason he’s ranked lower is primarily that he constantly speaks in a manner that makes him sound kind of insane, making him mostly useless for class trials.

20.  Chihiro Fujisaki

20180709142539_1

Finding Chihiro’s body in the locker room made me legitimately angry, because I had really grown attached to him.  From there, things just got so much sadder.  Finding out Chihiro’s backstory and why he would dress up as a young girl was heartbreaking, and just shows the cruelty of Danganronpa.  In other games, Chihiro would have overcome his fears and grown his confidence, but in this game, he got hit in the back of the head by an insecure biker.  My main criticism of him is that he didn’t have a lot of personality outside of just being cute, but cuteness is a pretty big factor in my opinion of a character.

19.  Rantaro Amami

20180709143837_1

I love how this game handled Rantaro, as it’s just another example of the game flipping all of my expectations on their heads.  When I saw that Rantaro didn’t have an ultimate talent revealed yet, I assumed he would be safe, just like I assumed Kaede couldn’t kill anyone because she’s the protagonist, right?  Kaede killing Rantaro hurt, but finding out the entire murder was fabricated by Tsumugi hurt more.  His free time events show that he’s a pretty laid-back guy that I would have loved to know more about.  Please, Danganronpa developers, if more games are made in the future, make one about the killing game Rantaro originally participated in.

18.  Peko Pekoyama

20180709143343_1

Peko is such a tragic character.  She wants so badly to just be useful and serve Fuyuhiko that she’s willing to kill in order to do it.  It wasn’t even clear if what she wanted to do would work, if Monokuma would actually allow Fuyuhiko to be the blackened for planning, but not participating, in the murder.  Even still, she tried, because she just wanted to protect her master.  Add that to a cool design, with red eyes and a bamboo sword, and she becomes a character that no one should cross.  The only real downside of Peko was that she didn’t live long enough to learn how to be her own person, but that’s just how Danganronpa works.

17.  Himiko Yumeno

20180709144134_1.jpg

Himiko was difficult to rank because she undergoes a significant personality shift after the deaths of Angie and Tenko.  The personality she has in the early part of the game irritated me so much that she was probably my least favorite character (except for Teruteru).  Her insistence that magic was real in Ryoma’s murder nearly got everyone killed.  After her friends died, however, she gained a new resolve.  She still insisted magic was real, but put much less emphasis on it.  She became a leader who tried to motivate people to victory.  This Himiko became one of my favorite characters by the end of the game.  Given her inconsistency, I ranked her a little lower than other characters I liked from start to finish, but she’s a great example of what character development can do.

Well, that wraps up part two!  Stay tuned for part three of the list in order to find out my favorite characters in Danganronpa!  Let me know in the comments if you have characters you love.

Advertisements

Ranking all Danganronpa Characters (Part 1)

As I mentioned in my list of the best games I have played so far in 2018 (link here if you want to read about it), I love the Danganronpa series with all my heart.  With such a varied cast across the three main games, the series is just begging to be made into a ranked list of characters.  Therefore, here is the first of a three-part series on my favorite characters in the Danganronpa series.

Two disclaimers before we begin.  First of all, I love and adore everyone involved in making this series a reality, so when I criticize the voice acting or look of a character, this is a comment that the artistic choice made does not suit my personal tastes, and not an attack on the artist or voice actor.  

Second of all, and I cannot stress this enough, this list is going to SPOIL every aspect of the games.  I am going to talk about plot events, murderers, and victims openly, as these events may be the reason the character earned its place on the list.  If you have even the slightest intent to play these games and haven’t yet, then bookmark this list and come back to it later.  All right, on to the list!

48.  TeruTeru Hanamura

20180709143120_1

Teruteru is probably the only character in the series that I actively despise.  Every single time he opens his mouth, something perverted comes out.  He also worries way too much about appearances, as he is constantly grooming himself, and goes so far as to use a fake accent that he believes is more sophisticated.  My guess is that even the developers knew how awful Teruteru was, because he was unceremoniously executed in the first class trial, thus allowing everyone playing the game to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we wouldn’t have to hear from him again.

47.  Ultimate Imposter

20180709143045_1

On the whole, I don’t have an issue with the ultimate imposter.  They don’t really harm anyone, and didn’t do anything to annoy me.  The problem is, due to the way the ultimate imposter was intentionally characterized, I know nothing about them.  The ultimate imposter has no known name or gender, instead spending their entire life masquerading as other people.  Maybe if the ultimate imposter had lived long enough to see the differences between Byakuya and them, they could have been higher on the list.  Since they died at the hands of Teruteru in the first chapter, any potential this character had was squandered by the brevity of their on-screen time.

46.  Korekiyo Shinguji

20180709144024_1.jpg

There was so much potential with Korekiyo.  First of all, he just looks stylistically really cool.  Talking to him is fun because he is full of interesting anthropological factoids.  That said, I have two gripes with him.  On a more frivolous note, his English voice acting is really irritating.  He makes this weird hissing noise when he laughs that I assume is supposed to mimic talking behind a mask, but actually just gets on my nerves.  The more serious problem is his motive for the double murder of Angie and Tenko.  Turns out, Korekiyo is a psychotic killer who murders women so they can be “friends” with his dead sister in the afterlife.  Yikes.

45.  Mukuro Ikusaba

20180709142654_1

I love Mukuro from a stylistic standpoint.  In general, I find the idea of the ultimate despair sisters to be cool, and I love the trial five and six plot twist of her and Junko switching places.  Unfortunately for her, the portion of the story where she was most relevant was long after she had already died.  Therefore, we didn’t get a lot of characterization out of her other than her idol-worship of her sister.  To me, Mukuro is a huge missed opportunity for the series, and my disappointment in her characterization is what lands her here.

44.  Angie Yonaga

20180709144157_1

Angie is the most well-intentioned cult leader I’ve ever seen.  At the core of her plans, she really did just want to protect people and prevent more murders from occurring.  Unfortunately, her special brand of stopping people from murdering seems to involve being as annoying as possible.  Her weird love of Atua, the all-powerful god, seemed to be played off for laughs, but she got on my nerves more than I found her to be amusing.

43.  Hifumi Yamada

20180709142400_1

Hifumi gives geeky people a bad name.  In the same vein as Teruteru, he’s creepily perverted in a way that is only marginally less grating on the nerves.  He’s also easily manipulated by women, as he willingly went along with Celestia’s murder plot, even though anyone with two brain cells to rub together could have seen that this plot would end in Hifumi’s death.  His free-time events can be somewhat interesting, as he talks about fanfiction and general “geek culture”, and that’s the only thing that keeps him from the rock bottom of this list.

42.  Toko Fukawa

20180709142455_1

This one is probably a bit of an unpopular opinion, but the split personality aspect of Toko’s characterization always felt like someone had a really great idea to spice up one of the class trials, and realized far too late that the rest of the game would now need to include this plot device.  Having a serial killer personality also meant that the game started feeling like a broken record, as Toko was repeatedly blamed for all of the murderous activities happening at the school for the remainder of the game.  It also doesn’t help that I don’t like either one of Toko’s personalities, as Toko is rude and abrasive, and Genocide Jill is too loud and squeaky for my tastes.  Speaking of squeaky…

41.  Mikan Tsumiki

20180709143307_1

Let’s get this out of the way first:  Mikan getting inflicted with despair disease, regaining her memories, and reverting to a remnant of despair is one of the best uses of foreshadowing I’ve seen in modern gaming.  It’s just too bad that, other than that, she’s got no other redeeming qualities.  Mikan is undoubtedly my least favorite voice acted character in this game.  She’s squeaky and uncertain of herself to the point where it takes five years for her to finish a thought.  I also don’t care much for the fanservice bait of her falling down into suggestive poses, mostly because it leads to her talking more.

40.  Hiyoko Saionji

20180709143233_1

I just want to send a huge “bravo” to the voice actor for Hiyoko, Kira Buckland, because anyone that can be both 2B from Nier:Automata and Hiyoko deserves some sort of award.  Similarly to Mikan, I’m not the biggest fan of Hiyoko’s voice acting, because she’s loud and squeaky.  I do, however, like her plot arc of wanting to be strong after Mahiru’s death.  Unfortunately, the potential her character could have had was ruined by her being murdered by Mikan shortly after this revelation.  Yet another character that had their potential unceremoniously ripped away by the developers.

39.  Kirumi Tojo

20180709144050_1

I love Kirumi from a stylistic perspective.  She has this really cool goth maid look going on that really works for her.  The main thing that gets her this spot on the list is the murder she commits.  She creates a really over-the-top scheme that involves having to watch Ryoma, a character I adore, get eaten by ravenous fish.  This leads to a class trial I really didn’t care for, and the end result is Kirumi trying to manipulate others into sacrificing themselves even after she is found guilty.  Her inability to accept that she had lost was frustrating, and just made her a sore loser.

38.  Kazuichi Soda

20180709143107_1

Kazuichi is actually a fun enough character, though a little bland.  As a note to Danganronpa developers, this is how you can make a character that’s interested in women without coming off like an unmitigated creep.  His interest in Sonia gets played off for decent comedic value that is genuinely funny.  I’m not a huge fan of his character design, though, as his vampire fang teeth and ugly jumpsuit don’t help endear him to the audience.  I can’t say I understand why his character made it to the end of the game, either, as he isn’t exactly the brightest bulb and didn’t do a lot to help Hajime during class trials.  That said, there is some precedent for having the dumb characters make it to the end…

37.  Yasuhiro Hagakure

20180709142411_1

Yasuhiro is a sweetheart, and he’s absolutely adorable in that regard.  With that said, his character makes virtually no sense.  He’s attending a school for the best of the best as a student that keeps failing grades repeatedly and openly admits he only predicts the future successfully thirty percent of the time.  Additionally, in one trial, everyone has to convince him that ghosts are not playing a hand in the events of the game.  I don’t understand why he’s even at this school, much less why he got picked to be one of the surviving characters of the first game.

36.  Tenko Chabashira

20180709144039_1

Tenko is a bit crazy, sure, but she’s a genuinely sweet person that looks out for her friends.  Up until the very end of her life, as she agrees to help with Korekiyo’s crazy ritual, she is devoted to helping others, albeit in a misguided way at times.  Why does she earn this place on the list?  Because her death is the reason that I about cracked my controller in half a million times trying to figure out that the proper response to hangman’s gambit is “SEESAW EFFECT”.   I could theoretically blame Korekiyo for this, instead, but I already have enough reasons to dislike him, so I end up being inherently mad at Tenko for this every time.

35.  Mahiru Koizumi

20180709143256_1

Mahiru’s ultimate talent should be “ultimate bland character”.  There’s nothing wrong with her, except that she’s exceptionally uninteresting.  After she dies, the Twilight Syndrome Murder Case does shine a light on her character that makes her somewhat more interesting, but it doesn’t undo how dull she was before her death.  Unfortunately, because she slipped under the radar and nothing was known about her until her death, she will forever be the most bland character in the Danganronpa franchise.

34.  Ibuki Mioda

20180709143329_1

Stylistically, Ibuki is one of the coolest looking characters in the entire series.  She’s colorful, and her entire aesthetic actually makes it pretty easy to guess her talent by looking at her.  Unfortunately, then she opens her mouth and loses me.  Unlike Mikan and Hiyoko, where I didn’t care for their higher-pitched voices, I think the pitch of her voice actually suits her.  Instead, I think the problem is that she’s just too peppy for my tastes.  She’s so exuberant that I find it exhausting to keep up with her.

33.  Tsumugi Shirogane

20180709144011_1

It’s really hard to determine how I feel about Tsumugi.  She looks like an even blander version of Sayaka (and is voiced by the same person – fun fact), which I can’t believe is even possible.  For a long time, she was competing with Mahiru for least interesting character of the series, until it occurred to me that this it exactly what the developers wanted.  Making the mastermind an otherwise really uninteresting character is a brilliant move.  That said, since this was my third Danganronpa rodeo, I figured out this plot twist halfway through the game and that really lessened the impact of the ultimate reveal and my interest in Tsumugi as a character.

That’s it for the first part of this list!  Stay tuned for the rest of the list and let me know which characters you love and loathe in the comments!

 

Ten Worst Games Played in 2018 (So Far)

Recently, I created a list of my top ten games played in 2018 so far (here’s a link), so I thought I’d also make a list of the ten worst games I’ve played, as well!  Since I play a lot of games, it would be impossible for me to love them all, so here’s a few that I didn’t care for.

Two disclaimers before we begin.  First of all, these are only games I’ve completed start to finish, which means I don’t hate most of these games.  I’d rather talk about games that have enough positive aspects to them that I was at least willing to finish them, rather than rant about how much I hated the Bubsy 3D‘s of the world.  Secondly, just like in my favorites list, these are not 2018 releases, just games I played in 2018.

All right, let’s begin!

10.  Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

It just hurts to put this game on the list.  After Danganronpa rose to become one of  my favorite series of all time, I eagerly bought a copy of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, knowing this was a similar series of visual novels by the same company.  It started off promisingly.  In fact, I loved the game all the way through to the first ending I got, and at times, I thought I might have finally found something I like even more than Danganronpa.

Unfortunately, after I finished the game once, I went back to work through the other endings and quickly lost interest.  Part of this is my own problem, as I am rarely a fan of games that force me to play through multiple times in order to get the full story, but part of it is the story itself.  I don’t want to spoil anything, in case someone reads this and is intrigued by the game, but the endings took the plot in a direction that I didn’t care for.  When I heard that the game was about a group of people being forced to play a game with their lives, I was picturing more of a psychological horror vibe than what this game is in reality.

9.  Skylar and Plux:  Adventure on Clover Island

20180710150033_1

This is a really cute 3D platformer that takes inspiration from games like Ratchet & Clank, where you control a cat-like creature and an accompanying bird on a journey through a variety of environments.  It actually was a pretty cute game that takes about three hours to beat, but it controls well and the short length means it didn’t overstay its welcome.

Unfortunately, there is a sound glitch that plagued me the entire game.  The music and sounds were so out of sync and warped-sounding that I had to mute the game to play it.  Based on Steam reviews and forums, this is a common glitch that the developers did try to fix, but were unsuccessful.  Since music and sound is an important aspect of gaming for me, especially for a 3D platformer, a lack of sound hindered my enjoyment to the point where I couldn’t recommend it to others.

8.  Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man 256 is something I played more of than I should have, given that its just Pac-Man turned into an endless runner, but there is something strangely addicting about it.  That said, the Steam version I played is just a port of a mobile game, so it doesn’t look great blown up onto a computer screen.  There’s also really not enough content to warrant paying money for something that can be played for free on a phone.  It’s probably not worth the time spent regardless, but if anyone really wants to try this game, play it on a mobile device.

7.  Halo:  Reach

First-person shooters are a genre I rarely play, because I like RPG-style progression systems, and FPS games rarely utilize them .  That said, my boyfriend loves the Halo series, so I’ve spent the past several years playing through them in co-op one at a time.  Halo:  Reach was the last one I had yet to play, and since it was my boyfriend’s least favorite game in the series, my hopes weren’t terribly high.  Still, I went in hoping for the best.

It wasn’t great.  Halo games are always fun because of the frantic alien combat, but there wasn’t a ton of level variety, the story wasn’t interesting up until the very end of the game, and the music may actually be one of the most horrendous scores that I have ever heard in video gaming to this day.  Halo 3:  ODST is my favorite game from the series, so I really hoped that the other side game of the franchise would be equally good, but I was massively underwhelmed.

6.  Night in the Woods

I had really high hopes for this darling of the indie community.  The problem for Night in the Woods mostly came down to its length.  I spent somewhere around ten to fifteen hours during my playthrough, and I think I would have been much more positive towards this game if the length had been half of that.  The game got so monotonous after about seven hours, as I walked through the town and painstakingly talked to every single person in town in order to make sure I didn’t miss any plot developments.

Again, I’m not going to go into major spoiler territory on this list, but the game also does a radical shift in focus in the last few hours.  The shift was jarring, and felt like the developers had two different plot ideas for this game and decided to just stitch them both together haphazardly.  Overall, I wish I had liked this game far more than I ended up liking it.

5.  The Norwood Suite

I got this game in a Humble Monthly and decided to give it a shot because it didn’t look overly long in length, and its screenshots made me wonder what on earth the game was about.  Honestly, even after finishing the game, I didn’t really understand a lot about the game’s plot.  I don’t actually believe the game is particularly bad, but I do believe that it is absolutely not for me at all.  It’s got a very niche audience for people that like weird games, and I am clearly not one of those people.

4.  Deathspank

I love Diablo-style action RPG loot-em-ups, so after having Deathspank go untouched in my Steam library for years, I decided to give it a try.  At first, I really enjoyed it.  It’s a genuinely funny and colorful game, something that’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that really likes dark colors and storylines about demonic influences.  Unfortunately, the combat is really simplistic, with the only attacks consisting of the two weapons in Deathspank’s hands and a special ability he unleashes when a meter is filled.  A combat system this simplistic does not go well with a game that took me fifteen hours to beat, so the game got on my nerves quickly.

3.  Rusty Lake:  Roots

Honestly, I didn’t like this game because it gave me the creeps.  I know that’s a pretty lame reason to give for why I didn’t get along with a game that is otherwise a pretty stellar point-and-click adventure, but it’s got some graphic imagery and dark thematic elements that I really didn’t appreciate.  Similarly to The Norwood Suite, I think I just wasn’t the intended audience for this game, so I wouldn’t necessarily want to dissuade others from giving it a try.

2.  Galactic Missile Defense

There’s nothing wrong with this game, other than there’s just not much here.  It feels less like a full-release Steam game, and more like that time I was asked to build a simple video game as an exercise in a computer coding class.  In fact, if I remember correctly, I got this game as part of a Humble Bundle for a bunch of coding software, so it probably was given to me as a demonstration of what one of the programs I bought could do.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with this game, but there’s really nothing worth playing here, either.

1.  Sorry, James

Of all the games I’ve played this year, this is the only one I’ve actively disliked.  I was drawn to this game because it had a storyline that appeared to involve computer technology, but the story didn’t hold my attention.  A story being boring isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a puzzle game if the puzzles are good, but those were reminiscent of Sudoku without any of the fun.  The graphics were also strange, making it sometimes difficult to actually read the numbers on the puzzles.  Overall, I can’t think of anything I actually much cared for in this game, and I wouldn’t recommend it to others.

All right, there are my least favorite games of 2018 for the first half of the year.  Let me know what your biggest disappointment this year has been so far!

Nier:Automata Review

20180709102327_1

Story

Nier:Automata‘s story hits hard coming straight out of the gate.  The player is thrust into a high stakes battle situation, and the action is immediate.  Only after the first hour of the game, which works as a a tutorial to the combat mechanics, does the game finally take a breath and let the player know a little more about the plot.  The basic summary of the plot is that the game centers around a group of android units that are fighting a war against machines on behalf of the human race, who fled the planet long before the events of this game due to a hostile takeover by aliens.  If this sounds crazy, this is truly only the beginning of the wild ride that is Nier:Automata.

Ultimately, this is a game that works best if the player goes in blind, so there isn’t a ton that can be said about the plot in order to avoid spoilers.  The only comment here for the overall story is that it brings up moral complexities and touching moments numerous times, and the points this game sets out to make are going to resonate with the player long after the credits have rolled.

The main story element that needs to be addressed is perhaps the game’s most notorious feature:  the multiple playthroughs.  In order to experience the entirety of Nier:Automata‘s story, the player must go through the game three times.  While that may certainly scare some players off, the three playthroughs differ enough that it rarely feels repetitive.  Each playthrough uses a different character, and they all have varying personalities and a unique take on the events occurring throughout the world.

With that said, however, it would have been nice to see a few more environments in the game.  The game’s open world has a multitude of vast environments that are a delight to explore on a first playthrough, but by the third time the player is traipsing through the desert environment or abandoned factory looking for another rogue robot to defeat, some tedium starts to seep into the task.

Gameplay

Gameplay is the star of the show in Nier:Automata, with its distinctly Platinum Games blend of action RPG combat with light shoot-em-up elements.  The end result is a hectic and highly satisfying combat system that can be tailored to the individual player through a variety of different weapons and upgrades.  In true RPG style, there is also a means of augmenting stats that must be navigated, which takes the form of both a traditional leveling system that affects the amount of health the player has, as well as a stick of computer memory that must be decked out with computer chips that give boosts in combat.  To add to this, as the game progresses and the player gets to experience the story as other characters, each character has unique mechanics, which means that there is always something new to do and learn in Nier:Automata.

 

Since this is an open-world RPG, there are numerous side quests to be completed as the game progresses.  The best aspect of these side quests is that none of them are frivolous or padding out the game unnecessarily.  Every side quest adds to the lore of the world, giving insight into side characters or fills in what might otherwise be considered a plot hole.  The main problem with the side quests is that they may be well-written, but the quests themselves are primarily fetch quests that involve defeating a few dozen machines and then reporting back for a prize.  They are formulaic in nature, to the point where they are often boring, but the rewards for completing them are worth the grind in most cases.

Music/Graphics

The score of this game is among the best in gaming.  There is a wide variety of music that beautifully resonates with the emotions the player is experiencing at a given time.  In some cases, the same song is slowed down or the instrumentation is changed after a somber moment in order to give a different feel to the same moment or location.  Even if the game ultimately isn’t to a player’s taste, the music is a must-listen.

The graphics are serviceable, but varying.  Character models are beautifully rendered and show emotions well, and the environments are fully-realized and well-done.  That said, certain areas are stronger than others.  The city ruins is probably the area the player spends the most time in, and it is one of the most detailed areas in the game.  On the other hand, the abandoned factory feels as if they had one part of the factory built and then did a copy-paste job to populate the rest of the area.  It doesn’t detract greatly from the overall quality of the game, but it would have been nice to see a more consistent level of detail.

Final Thoughts

Nier:Automata is a difficult game to review, both because giving away much from the main plot-line hurts the experience of playing the game, and because the game has some great strengths and fatal weaknesses.  The story is phenomenally clever and interesting in a way that other games will assuredly try to copy in the years to come.  At the same time, however, the side quests can get repetitive, the environments are a little uneven, and playing through the game three times does have its moments of tedium.  Overall, however, it’s a great game and everyone owes it to themselves to at least give it a try.

9/10

 

Top Ten Games Played in 2018 (So Far)

I play a lot of video games from year to year, so making a top ten list in January summing up the past twelve months doesn’t feel quite appropriate.  Therefore, I have decided to do a wrap-up of the first half of the year!  Here are a few rules for the list:

  1. This is not a list of games released in 2018.  Since I feed off of Steam sales, I don’t play a lot of games in the year that they’re released unless I’m really excited for them.
  2. Only one game per franchise.  Otherwise, one franchise would be taking up a good portion of this list.
  3. No replays of games.  I obviously only replay my favorite games, so it’s kind of cheating to put them on this list!

With the rules aside, let’s take a look at my favorite gaming experiences for the first half of 2018!

10.  Killing Time at Lightspeed

Killing Time at Lightspeed is a great visual novel of sorts.  There is a spaceship that can take someone to another planet in half an hour, instead of the twenty-nine earth years that it should take.  What does one do while taking an interplanetary taxi ride?  Scroll through Facebook, of course!  The game’s central premise is scrolling through the news feed while on a ride across space, keeping up with friends and acquaintances.  Every time the news feed is refreshed, a few years goes by due to the high travel speeds.

When I played this game, I was blown away by the story.  Watching friends meet up, begin to date, and get married in a short span of time, while also watching the world evolve politically was a really clever game mechanic.  The game is short, clocking in at around two hours for me, but it was a wild ride.

9.  Loot Box Quest

A guilty pleasure of mine is that of the clicker game genre.  There is just something about watching that number constantly going higher that is incredibly addicting.  Loot Box Quest combines all of the best elements of a clicker game, while also being a biting satire of the video game industry in the modern era.  Grinding to make the money to open the loot boxes is amusing, and the addictive nature of a clicker game is the perfect backdrop for this topic.

8.  Florence

I rarely play mobile titles, but the lovely ladies of What’s Good Games talked about it on their podcast, which led me to pick it up almost immediately afterwards.  It’s only half an hour or so in length, but it so beautifully encapsulates the stages of a relationship.  I have played this game multiple times since my first experience, and it never ceases to amaze me with its charming artwork.

7. Kingdoms of Amalur:  Reckoning

I played the demo for this game when it first game out years ago and fell in love.  Ultimately, I never bought the actual game until recently, and I really wish I had played it so much earlier than I did.  The gameplay is some of the best I’ve experienced in an open-world setting, employing an MMO-style combat system and flexible classes that don’t restrict the player to the usual fighter, mage, or rogue dynamic.  The story was written by R.A. Salvatore, which allowed for a deep fantasy world that is rich with lore.  It’s a shame that this game didn’t get more attention at launch, because a sequel would have been phenomenal.

6. Mass Effect Andromeda

I put off playing this game because of the horribly negative reviews it got at launch.  Of all of the Bioware titles I have played, I would agree that this is the worst one.  Even after all of the patches for the game, the animations are still cringe-worthy, the plot feels thin and under-developed, and I still encountered a myriad of graphical and gameplay glitches.

After that less-than-glowing endorsement of the game, why is it on this list?  Well, even the worst Bioware title is still a Bioware title, and Mass Effect Andromeda still manages to succeed where it counts.  There are some characters, like Jaal, that are just as interesting as their original trilogy counterparts, the open worlds were fun to explore, there’s finally a vehicle players can drive that doesn’t control like its on a skating rink with no gravity, and I genuinely had a lot of fun playing this game.  Objectively, this isn’t a great game and I would put it nowhere near a list of “best games of all time”, but for my subjective list, this game is a ton of fun and I don’t regret a second I spent playing it.

5.  Last Day of June

This is my biggest surprise of the year so far.  I got this game in a Humble Monthly bundle and decided to play it on a whim.  Similarly to Florence, this game captures human relationships in a beautiful way, while adding a supernatural Groundhog’s Day-style twist.  The player controls a widower as he tries to relive the day his wife died repeatedly in order to save her.  The entire game is emotional, watching bits and pieces of the couple’s lives, and it all leads up to a touching finale that left me teary-eyed.

4.  Finding Paradise

To the Moon is one of my favorite indie games of all time, so the first true sequel was a long time coming for me.  Part of the reason I appreciated this game so much is because I played it sitting next to my boyfriend as we tried to figure out what the major plot twists and turns meant for the overall story arc of this series.  The game didn’t emotionally resonate with me quite as well as the last one did, but I still can’t wait to see what the next entry has in store for my two favorite Sigmund Corp. doctors.

3.  Assassin’s Creed II

This game took me five years to finish, but I’m glad I finally got through it.  I’m not great at stealth games, so I would get frustrated with a mission and put the game down for six months before starting it up again.  In spite of how painful it sometimes was to see this game through to the end, I absolutely loved running along Italian rooftops, and clearing an entire room of guards without getting detected felt exhilarating.  I intend to play the rest of the Ezio trilogy this year, instead of over the next ten years, because I want to know how his story ends.

2.  Disgaea PC

Speaking of games it took me a long time to beat, I first played Disgaea on my PSP as a kid.  It was my first tactical RPG, and I was…not great at it, which led me to create a party so bad that I got stuck around chapter ten and never went back to it.  My boyfriend bought me this game as a gift on Steam, remembering that I had talked about it before, so I gave it another shot.  Thankfully, I am much better at Disgaea now and managed to see the end of Laharl’s quest through the netherworld.  I haven’t done any of the crazy post-game content yet, like getting to level 9999 and fighting the crazy secret bosses, but I know that I will be going back to this game repeatedly over the coming years.

1.  Danganronpa (Series)

How do I even sum up this series coherently?  I will probably do a larger retrospective review of the series at another time, so I’ll keep this brief for the moment.  I had the pleasure of playing through all three of the main Danganronpa games this year, and they are some of the best games I’ve ever played.  In particular, the second game is probably in my top ten games of all time.

The premise of the game is reasonably simple:  A bunch of high school kids are trapped in a high school and told that they must kill each other to make it out of the school alive.  When a murder occurs, the remaining living students must hold a class trial to determine who the murderer is.  If the murderer is found, that person is executed.  If the murderer is not found, everyone but the murderer is executed and the murderer is free to leave the school grounds.  Also, the mastermind behind these killing games is a robot teddy bear.  The game has so many plot twists and turns that even the most keen-eyed player will get caught off-guard at some point, and the class trials play out in a really fun mix of minigames and fast debates.

What really makes Danganronpa shine, however, are the amazing cast of characters.  Every game has a new cast of sixteen students to get to know and become attached to, which makes the class trials even better.  On more than one occasion, a character I loved was the victim or the culprit, which led to a lot of emotional turmoil as I worked through the class trial.  Overall, I seriously cannot recommend these games enough, so please go play them all.

Well, that’s my list!  What are your favorite games this year so far?  Let me know in the comments!  I’ll see you all at the end of the year for my favorite games of the second half of the year.

Humble Monthly July 2018 Review

I love Humble Bundle and want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.  For those who are unaware of them, Humble Bundle does game bundles for charity.  It’s really a great deal, as you get games for cheap, and donate some money to help a variety of charities.  My favorite deal by them is their monthly bundle.  Humble Bundle curates a bundle each month that you pay $12 for, and get the games unlocked on the first Friday of a new month.  Today, I will be giving my first impressions of each of these games from the July bundle.

Stumblehill

Release Date:  7/6/2018

Price:  N/A (Original Title)

Up first is the Humble Original title, a DRM-free experimental title that comes with the bundle every month.  This month, the game is Stumblehill.  In Stumblehill, you play as a cute little bird that has launched itself from the nest.

Stumblehill

This game is a pretty traditional platformer, with a twist:  The baby bird falls down if moved too quickly in a direction, while tumbling downhill, or if a jump isn’t landed correctly.  This adds a bit of creativity to the platformer.  For example, the bird bounces when falling down in a certain way, which can help reach certain spots in the game.

In my short time with the game so far, I find that I love the watercolor-style graphics but I haven’t yet gotten a hold on the gameplay.  I’m still finding it difficult to predict when the bird will fall down, and while charming at first, this mechanic grows annoying quickly.  I don’t believe that the controls are broken, as I imagine they are intentionally made to be a little shaky, similarly to how the bird itself would feel.  That said, this definitely is not my cup of tea.

Forts

Release Date: 4/19/2017

Price:  $14.99

Forts is a real-time strategy game that reminds me of the Worms franchise with a little more base building.  You and your opponent (either AI or another person) are on opposite sides of a field, gathering resources and building guns, with the ultimate goal being to take out the other player’s base before they take out yours.

20180706124634_1

I played through the first few missions of the game’s extensive tutorial and managed to take out some bases.  The RTS elements to this game are not particularly complex, which makes it simple enough to play casually with friends, but also deep enough that I can see myself sinking hours into this, trying to build the best base possible.  I will return to this one in the future to see what else it has to offer.

Titan Quest & Ragnarök

Release Date: 8/31/2016

Price:  $19.99 (+ another $19.99 for expansion)

Next up is Titan Quest and its expansion Ragnarök.  The version of Titan Quest in this bundle is the anniversary edition, which was created in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the game’s release.  I have owned Titan Quest for a while and haven’t actually touched it before, so now is a great chance to give it a go!  This is an action-RPG game in a similar vein to Diablo, so there will be plenty of open-world loot grinding and questing to be done.

20180706134955_1

Since this game’s original release was a while ago, I’ll admit that the graphics aren’t the most appealing by modern standards.  Still, I played long enough to finish a few quests and level up a little, allowing me to take a look at the skill progression.  This game asks you to pick an area you want to master, between various mage, warrior, and rogue classes.  From there, you can add points into the class like you would a normal skill tree.  Combat feels fluid and maintains the same frantic energy that exists in Diablo games.  Overall, I am really glad I finally gave this game a chance, because I’m definitely going to finish it.

Hearts of Iron IV

Release Date:  6/6/2016

Price:  $39.99

My initial thought when I saw Hearts of Iron IV was that of fear.  These hardcore strategy titles are way beyond my ability to comprehend them.  That said, I gave it an honest try and…got completely lost.  I watched videos, read guides, attempted the tutorial, and still had no idea what was happening.

20180706143900_1.jpg

What’s happening in this picture?

I may actually give this game another shot one day, because the reviews for it are glowing, but I may need to start with a more accessible strategy title and work my way up.

Blackwake

Release Date:  2/24/2017

Price:  $19.99

This game also scared me a bit when I saw it, because I don’t play a ton of multiplayer games.  When I opened it up and started my first game, the server I chose would only allow me in if I was going to captain the ship by myself due to some team balancing issues.  Not knowing how to play the game, that led to me standing on my ship confused, so I decided to exit and find a different server.  When I got to my new server, this is the first thing I saw upon spawning:

20180706150036_1

I assume it’s two people standing on the same spot, but it terrified me for a second.  I finally had a real crew, so I got on my ship and did a little battling.  The battles themselves were fun enough, but quite buggy.  In addition to that, I noticed that my reasonably decent gaming rig sounded like it was about to explode, and there were a lot of framerate drops.  I probably won’t play this one again unless I can find some friends to sail the high seas with, and my computer will probably thank me for this.

Portal Knights

Release Date:  5/18/2017

Price:  $19.99

For me, Minecraft is like gaming comfort food.  When I found out one of the monthly bundle games was a Minecraft-style 3D building game, I was sold immediately.  Portal Knights appears to be what happens when you take a building game, and add some light RPG and class-based systems into it.

20180706154229_1

All your usual survival crafting game elements are here.  You can explore, craft items, and avoid going out at night without an arsenal of weaponry.  Where it differs, however, is that there are multiple classes to choose from, NPCs that give quests, and a series of smaller islands to explore instead of one large world.  The only aspect of the game I’m not sold on yet is that the menus and block placement feels clunkier than other games of this genre.  That may just be something I need to adjust to, and I am definitely excited to play more.

Shiness:  The Lightning Kingdom

Release Date:  4/18/2017

Price:  $29.99

The first thing that I noticed upon booting up this game was that it only shows Xbox controller prompts instead of keyboard commands.  While somewhat understandable as a smaller indie title, it was definitely a bit annoying.  Once I got past that, however, I found a really charming action RPG with a combat style reminiscent of fighting games.

20180706165157_1

The art style is vibrant (although I did notice a little bit of framerate instability here and there), and the RPG elements pair perfectly with an innovative and interesting battle system.  So far, my battles have consisted of mashing a single button as quickly as possible, but I hope that the difficulty will increase as time goes on.  I’m excited to try some more of it and see what else this game has to offer.

Interplanetary: Enhanced Edition

Release Date:  8/2/2017

Price:  $14.99

Being perfectly honest here, this game suffers a similar issue to Hearts of Iron IV in that I’m just not good enough at them to fully understand what I’m doing.  That said, Interplanetary:  Enhanced Edition feels far more accessible and by the time my play session was over, I actually kind of understood aspects of what I was doing.

20180706172704_1

The central premise seems to be similar to Worms (the publisher of this game, incidentally, published past Worms titles), in that you are trying to shoot your opponents’ planet while building up your own planet.  The gameplay mechanics are generally pretty easy to understand, although I will give a warning here that the tutorial leaves a lot to be desired.  Still, getting into this game a little more might help ease me into more complicated strategy titles, so I’ll continue to pick at this one.

Serial Cleaner

Release Date:  7/14/2017

Price:  $14.99

I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this game.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be working on my computer.  The Steam forums say to update my drivers, but that didn’t seem to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, not being able to play the game means I probably won’t ever play the game.

Final Thoughts

Overall, of the games I got in this bundle, I will likely continue to play Forts, Titan Quest, Portal Knights, Shiness, and Interplanetary.  For twelve dollars, that’s a lot of new games I am really glad to have picked up.  If you are interested in subscribing to the Humble Monthly bundle for future months, here is a link to read more about it.  August’s monthly bundle will include A Hat in TimeThe Escapists 2, and Conan Exiles upfront upon paying for the bundle, and more games will be unlocked in the first week of August.  Stay tuned to my blog for updates as I continue to play these games and others!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man’s Journey

20180706101138_1

Game Title:  Old Man’s Journey

Platform(s):  Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Mobile (Reviewed here on PC)

Release Date:  May 18, 2017

 

Story:  The game starts off simply enough.  As the title might suggest, the protagonist of this game is an old man.  He receives a letter that prompts him to, well, go on a journey.  The start to this story is hardly Shakespearean, but it kicks off the game with a clear goal:  to complete the old man’s travels and find out more about the letter.

As the player progresses through the game, the old man experiences flashbacks and recollections, giving glimpses into his earlier days.  The story never manages to pack the emotional punch that other indies have in the past (Such as What Remains of Edith Finch), but the story builds up to a satisfying and touching conclusion, and the old man’s character is well-developed enough for the player to get emotionally invested.

 

Gameplay:  Old Man’s Journey is a puzzle adventure game.  Instead of controlling the old man himself, the player controls the environment around him.  The old man stands on a hill in a 2.5D plane, with hills in the foreground and background.  All of these hills can be moved up and down to connect to each other, allowing the old man to freely move between the foreground and background.

20180706103927_1

Dragging a hill down to meet the surface the old man is standing on.

At first, the levels are simple, where the only goal is to create a line of movement from the left to right side of the screen.  As time goes on, obstacles are placed in your way, like waterfalls that cause the old man to fall, or hills with a limited range of movement that refuse to connect in the way the player may find most logical.  There are a large variety of mechanics, which keeps the game from ever getting tedious.

While both the gameplay and story help keep the player invested, this game is short, with the run time clocking in at two to three hours, depending on the player’s skill with puzzle solving.  The short length is appreciated here, because it allows the game’s mechanics to evolve without overstaying their welcome.  That said, the game’s short length also means the puzzles never grow to the point where there is any real difficulty involved in getting from point A to point B.  A puzzle at the end that combined all of the mechanics learned to this point like a final exam would have been a welcome addition to this game.

 

Graphics/Sound:  The graphics here are beautiful, with every backdrop looking like a watercolor painting.  In particular, since perspective is such an important part of this game, the vibrant colors do a great job of differentiating between foreground and background.  Every area of the game has a different look and feel, from rolling green hills to bustling villages, and the color palate swaps appropriately in each place.

20180706110308_1

The different hills are colored appropriately

The sound is similarly lovely.  There’s a variety of music in the background, and all of it is themed appropriately to the area the game is currently in.  Much of the music sounds reminiscent of old folk tunes, with plucky guitars, roaring brass sections and music box chimes making up a large part of the orchestration.  The music does sometimes grate on the nerves and overstay its welcome, but it is still an overall pleasant score that adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.

 

Final Thoughts:  Old Man’s Journey is a beautiful puzzle adventure game that is sure to delight fans of the genre.  The game’s short length is its biggest downfall, as another hour of content would both increase puzzle difficulty, as well as add a little extra characterization.  With that said, however, a game leaving the player wanting more is still a hallmark of a fantastic experience that will not soon be forgotten.

8.75/10