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    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:19 pm

    Mysteries Of The Past (: Shadow Of The Wendigo)

    Developer: 3K Studio

    Bit Of A Shame Really***

    BASED ON BETA

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    This game has a lot going for it, but in the end, just does not have enough life in it to make the difference between immediate release and sitting permanently on the shelf.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    The opening sequence was good enough to rival any mega game developer for professionalism in both art and voice. The graphics throughout are so natural and realistic, you’d swear the whole thing was photographed, yet with a softness to the images that is much easier on the eyes than the typical pseudo-realism found in games. The game is set in American wood country and looks wonderful, and I can almost feel the fresh crisp air of the forest surrounding us. I loved even the interface, which was neat and tidy, without being dull.

    The voiceover was excellent. Accentless, well spoken and clearly intelligent. There are some lovely ambient sounds too. And special atmospheric use of those whining noises that I refuse to call music, lol. The story is about a lost Indian (yes, Native American of course, which was the developer’s first mistake!) tribe, and the much of the music seemed to my uneducated ears as the sort of thing I think I remember from cowboy and Indian (that word again) movies.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    Your professor knows you are researching vanished Native American tribes, so he sends you information about an explorer back in 1687, who seems to have been to one such settlement. So what about that opening scene, huh? How’d we end up in an unfamiliar hut with a headache? Well, I doubt we’ll ever find out, because sadly, this seems unlikely to be released. And not without just cause.

    GAMEPLAY
    Well, I have been giving you so much good stuff about this game, seems hard to imagine what’s so wrong with it. It’s the pace. We have our standard (static) HOPs with word lists, occurring frequently and visited twice. And there are a few puzzles. Again, all standard stuff. Nothing new here. And while we’re about it, for the record, no map but a decent journal. Hint is directional, but must refill each time you use it even to just change locations.

    And that’s where it all falls apart. Because the game is not especially intuitive, and has a lot of toing and froing, so a lot of time is wasted either checking location by empty location (none has very much to do in it) or waiting for hint to recharge. Worse, an object that was not accessible last time you were there may now be.

    For example, I note a strange stone covered in moss, but I am unable to use my spatula to clean it off, or my crowbar to remove it. Later, when I need strange stones, I can now use both these items. That is just so infuriating. And it means you must keep checking back on items, if you can remember them, in case, now you can use them.

    And a new HOP scene may become active, but you have no way of knowing, and no reason to be going back to that location, unless you just wander around looking for things to do. I got over it, and couldn’t stick to the finish.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    Such professionalism in the artwork, such sorely deficient gameplay! It’s a shame, alright, but we probably wouldn’t buy this even if it was released. Unless someone injected a huge dose of adrenaline into the game.

    I don’t recommend this game!


    Try It Here!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:20 am

    Bluebeard’s Castle [2] (: Son Of The Heartless)


    Developer: Fanda Games

    Delightful If Unexpected Sequel****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    I remember having a lot of fun with the first Bluebeard’s Castle, but I don’t think it was ever a big hit and I certainly didn’t expect a sequel. But then, who would have guessed Bluebeard would keep a bride alive long enough to have an heir?

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    This game is somewhat different in looks, but it is still clearly Bluebeard’s Castle that we arrive at, even if it is totally dilapidated. The intro shows us a marvellously clear image of ourselves, the unfortunate son of Bluebeard. This is followed by the complete backstory of Bluebeard and his curse, told in an almost graphic novel style. The graphics for the rest of the game are fantasy graphics – bold and colourful, surreal and a bit cartoony. It is not a bad choice, though I suppose many will criticise. But to me it was similar to the fantasy graphics in Nightmare Realm. In any case, they are clear and very high quality, whatever you think of the style.

    The music in the intro is dramatic and arresting, but in the rest of the game so far, is eerie and non-intrusive, and in keeping with the first game, there are no voiceovers. One thing I do miss from the original is the rhyming hints. They added a little something different.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    You are having nightmares in which you are a monster, stealing the lives of innocent women. Your aunt is forced to tell you the truth about your father, and how she defeated him and saved your mother’s soul. (This is the character we played last time.) This has brought a curse down on the castle and on the heirs, who are all doomed to dying young. You must find the “dark heart”, which is the demon force of the curse, to save not only yourself, but also the castle inhabitants and the town below.

    GAMEPLAY
    There are more puzzles than HOPs so far in the demo. The puzzles are easy, with the exception of a couple with unhelpful instructions. But this is the beta, so hopefully they will be fixed. The HOPs are interactive lists, with a fair amount of interaction. You can click on an item in the list and see a silhouette of it on the side. The scenes are not animated, except for a specific item on the list which must be caught on the move. This fun and not hard. There are a lot of fun animated graphics outside the scenes to make up for their absence here.

    Adventure gameplay is not too difficult, the journal is useful. The hint shows you what item you need next and where it is, but you must go to the map if you want to jump. And the map does not indicate active tasks, so the two must be used in tandem. The game moves a little slowly at this point, but the exploration of the old castle holds many little quests.

    Surprisingly, there are only sparkles on HOPs and puzzles, but there is also no difficulty choice.

    There is a game timer, and achievements based on the statistics collected. These are all based on the time it takes to complete puzzles, including HOPs. Each achievement is awarded on a different time range, so you get awards of one sort for doing a puzzle under 1 min, and another for under 3 mins. Etc.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    I really enjoyed myself, despite the somewhat old-fashioned style of the game, and it’s slightly cartoony feel. I hope to see this one released.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:35 am

    Bad Omen

    Developer: Big Fish Games? Unknown.

    Terrifying Beginnings****

    BASED ON BETA

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    This game starts off very differently. So far, there are no credits, the game just opens on the start page. (Even in the options, which shows a credits button, no credit is given.) This is followed by a full 2 minutes, yes I timed it, of intro video, very creepy, and undeniably attention-getting. Then we manage about 3 interactions before signing in and choosing one of three difficulty levels. Then another one full minute of video (which in this case is too long), before starting the game proper.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    I am not entirely confident this game will live up to the brilliantly creepy opening moments. The problem is that in parts, like the first HOP scene, the colours are aggressively bright and at odds with the gloomy decrepit house we are exploring. For the most part though, those nasty little surprises keep on happening, you know, the ones that mean you have to leave the lights on. The quality of the graphics could have been better.

    There are no voiceovers, and in this case I think that’s good. Voice would just be talking to ourselves in any case, and this way the atmosphere remains solitary and threatening. The music covers a wide variety of appropriate tracks and doesn’t get boring, which is an achievement. And of course, there are other noises in keeping with the mood .

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    That wonderful opening in the asylum is not what it appears to be – yet. But we do receive a strange letter from our sister, who disappeared 10 years ago, shortly after our mother died. When we go to the address given, it is a clearly abandoned house, which has obviously been left to rot years ago. Yet, someone gave this address as your sister’s, left out your sister’s doll, and lit candles. With a bit of effort, even the lights still work. And then there’s that very scary girl who keeps turning up. Is she a ghost? And there is some connection to both your sister and the asylum – you keep finding evidence of both all over the house! And who is Dahlia?

    GAMEPLAY
    This is a fairly standard HOPA, though very light on puzzles. Bit light on HOPs too, thinking about it. The HOPs are interactive lists with three colours of type. Black means the item is visible, red that some interaction must take place to get it, and grey if it is in one of the close up HOPs within the main scene. For added assistance, the colour changes from grey to black and back depending on where you are. Because I played this beta twice, I found out that the item list is random.

    The couple of puzzles have been very easy, even by my standards. The game is really about the story. So wandering around the huge house with its many interlocking rooms is how you spend most of your time. You have a journal, nicely presented with story on the left page and the clues you find on the right. And there are a lot of clues. Although it’s still all very cryptic at the end of the demo.

    The hint is directional, and the map, when you get it, is an interactive jump map and very handy. With so many rooms and so many things to do, finding active areas is a big help. There are 43 locations filled with all this busy work, and the end of the demo announces that we have played only 10% of it. Which I find a delightful idea!

    COMBINED IMPACT
    Despite its flaws, and even allowing that it may not be as scary as the opening scene suggests, I am really hoping they make this one. It’s story driven and that is my favourite kind of game.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!

    Frodo

    Posts : 1443
    Join date : 2013-08-12
    Age : 43
    Location : Scotland, UK

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by Frodo on Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:14 pm

    Wonderful review JustTheFacts.  Thanks for taking the time to write it.   Smile 

    I also hope it gets made.  It starts out very creepy (just how I like them   Elk grin ), and I hope it continues like that.

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
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    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:06 am

    (Dark Romance: ) Vampire In Love  
    Collector’s Edition


    Developer: Domini

    Slow-Paced***

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    A wonderful narrative voice, stern and imposing, tells us the story of Dracula’s son, and his decision to become a part of the world of humans, and how he love in love. A winner already, for the many vampire fans out there.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    The graphics are okay. The figures are very well drawn, as well as the HOPs, but there is a slightly cartoonish feel to it, and the definition is a little off somehow. The colours are dark in places, with a dominant grey and pink for the interface, softer than the reds normally associated with vampire games. But there is never any difficulty seeing.

    The music is very appropriate to a vampire game. It has a brooding quality to it, with some interesting crescendos. The background sounds are both excellent at times and sometimes annoying. The narrator’s voice is perfect for the part, and the voice of the young girl you’ll meet is beautiful.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    The story opens with Emily in the crypt of Dracula’s castle, with a note revealing that Dracula intends to turn her into a vampire so that Enron will return to his family. Time to get out, before the sun sets! In her attempts to leave she is aided by a mysterious ghost-like figure of a young girl, Brenda, whose story we do not yet know.

    Meanwhile, Enron is in Emily’s house, assessing the evidence of Emily’s kidnap and rightly reaching the conclusion that his father is to blame. He then heads off to the castle himself.

    GAMEPLAY
    You play both Emily and Enron, and you must switch from one to the other to progress. The adventure part of the game is very simple and is aided by directional hints and an interactive jump map that gives you available tasks. The diary keeps very good records of both the story and needed clues.

    There are a lot of HOPs in this game. I spotted 6 in the demo, and they are visited twice. They are of the interactive list sort, and tend to have more items needing extra steps than most. If you prefer, you can switch to a simple Match-3 game. The items can be tricky to find and the interactions are not always obvious.

    There are some great puzzles in this game. New ones. Some are of the kind that simply take a long time to complete, without being difficult. Some I couldn’t do at all. There are 3 levels of difficulty plus a custom option, in the easiest mode, skip is quick.

    CE BLING!
    Unlike most betas, this one actually lets you know what to expect from the extras section. There 15 wallpapers, mostly screenshots, 15 concept art, replayable HOPs and Puzzles. There are also quite a few achievements based on both skill and story, and 3 types of collectibles. Garlic is collected for buying improvements in the interface. I didn’t like these because they interfered with the HOP scenes. Hopefully, that will be fixed before release.

    The second set of collectibles are bat statues. There are lots of them, and they are used for improvements on your castle. The final collectible there is only 15 of and can best be described as totems significant to vampire culture. They are things like bats and ravens, but also things like silver that is said to combat vampires. It will be interesting to see all of them.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    I like this game overall, but it is slow. There seems to be plenty to do, but it seems to take a lot of time to do it. For instance, we must find 3 pieces of gargoyle statues to cross the bridge. But a good 30 minutes after I picked up the first piece, I have not found a second. HOPs, too, seem to take longer than usual.

    Assuming this is not fixed before release, I reluctantly give it only a 3. It really interferes with the enjoyment of the game, but not enough to ruin it.

    Try It Here!

    I recommend this game!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:58 pm

    Shiver 4: Siren
    Collector’s Edition


    Developer: Artogon

    A Fresh Case Of The Shivers*****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    At first it seems as if we are going to be something a little different for a Shiver game – female, and a victim. But no, we go on to become the man who rescues the victim and takes charge of solving the mystery.

    The Shiver series has a reputation for genuinely chilling stories presented in a way that lends drama and eeriness in the game’s looks and feel. The demo of Siren seems to lose a little of that, and many fans of the series are likely to be disappointed. But it is an excellent game on its merits and we can hope the scariness increases in the main part of the game. Which it might, the siren herself is surely no Miss Congeniality.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    The opening sequence bugs me. It should be quite dramatic, young girl chased by monster through the streets of town, but somehow it isn’t. The graphics are distracting because they seem of a lesser quality than I expected. Perhaps it is just the figure of the girl and her red hair that doesn’t feel right. In any case, thereafter the graphics, both in the cut scenes and in locations and close ups, are very well done, convincing, and suitably dreary.

    The music is excellent. I love the piano. It has a vaguely ominous feel most of the time, with some very exciting and suspenseful moments. Some of it includes those no-words voices I never know what to call. The voiceovers are excellent. I especially like the officious nurse’s. Ambient noise is appropriate. And for the beginning at least, it is not actually raining. Although, everything looks wet and muddy outside.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    Young girls with red hair are being snatched by a monster in a town that used to have a problem with a siren they believed was carefully contained. Not anymore. The story opens with a girl running for her life against an unseen attacker, but switches quickly to the lead character, a newly fledged doctor just arrived in town for his first placement. Once he’s got his diary and map, he heads out of his appallingly dilapidated housing into the street.

    Where he immediately sees the unconscious body of our girl and races her off to the hospital. There, he gets her a shot of adrenaline to bring her round, and she tells him that she must get to her childhood home immediately and that she will be safe there. So we vow to take her. Getting out of town is just the first hurdle.

    GAMEPLAY
    This is mostly a HOP adventure, but there are more puzzles than I remember from previous games in the series. The HOPs are interactive lists, with a progressive component and a mini-puzzle, so quite a bit interesting. There are also simple silhouettes. The puzzles are really good. And this coming from a person who normally barely tolerates them. There are, for example, two different and new to at least me, key-in-lock puzzles, and I could figure out both! And the others in the demo all had a new quality to them as well.

    The puzzles have a new element, you can now choose to have the instructions open automatically or only of clicking the question mark. That should please the no pain no gain crowd. The journal is useful, the interactive jump map shows active tasks, and the hint is directional. In the easiest of 2 modes of difficulty (also available is a custom mode), skip takes 30 seconds.

    There are nice touches too. Like, very early in the game, you have a choice of 3 doors, only one has what you need, but it doesn’t matter which door you choose first, it is always the same response. And for second and third. Cute little trick that makes the game more interesting than it would be if you happened to get the “right” door first.

    Another new aspect in this game is the talking options. When interacting with the nurse and others, we are given a choice of responses, and the dialogue does change significantly depending on your choices. Enough for there to be an achievement relating to it.

    CE BLING!
    There is the usual range of CE extras. The achievements are performance and story based, as well as some unexpected and humorous ones. My favourite is the one you get for skipping the tutorial. Check it out for yourself. There are collectible pearls which can be used to improve that woebegone house you have been given, and it surely does need it. There are also aquarium supplies, which when clicked go immediately to your aquarium inside said house.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    With this game, the Shiver series gets a new fresh feel that’s a little less scary than previous games. (So far.  I don’t like this home we’re taking her to though). Puzzles and gameplay are different, and the look is more lively than any of the other Shiver games. I think they may have gone too far with the flowers on the interface though. They should be something aquatic anyway, and there’s nothing at all creepy about them.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!


    Last edited by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:47 pm; edited 2 times in total

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:10 pm

    Dark Parables [6]: (Jack & The) Sky Kingdom
    Collector’s Edition


    Expected Release Date: Feb 2014
    Developer: Blue Tea Games

    If they’d just fix the graphics...****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    At the start, my reaction was, “I’m through buying Dark Parable games, forgiving the low definition graphics because of the art and the story”. I mean, there really is no excuse. These are quality games in every way, with astonishingly beautiful art, how can they continue to justify this poor quality in their visuals? Well, I surely don’t know.

    But soon into the game, I was again hooked by the story. The developer has a knack for combining elements of several different fairy tales or fables into one delightful adventure. So now, I’m thinking of relenting. Again.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    Well, you’ve heard my rant against the graphics, which, it is important to note, remain as bad in the HOPs as everywhere else. There isn’t even a wide screen option, so everything is stretched and distorted. The music, on the other hand, is lovely and in keeping with the mood of the game. The voiceovers are excellent.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    As Fairy Tale Detective, you are once again called upon to investigate trouble in a fable-related context. The legendary Sky Kingdom has become visible, there have been bits of its island falling to earth, people are getting hurt. And there seems to be some kind of war going on. You hook up with Jack (move over Indiana Jones, this guy could be your stunt double), an adventurer who has actually been to the Sky Kingdom. In one of those touches I love about this series, Jack’s cottage contains reminders of all the previous Dark Parable games, and there’s a familiar face there.

    GAMEPLAY
    This is a FROG (fragmented hidden object game) that follows the formula of the earlier games. There are some great puzzles, and the adventure side of the game is very good – a little challenging, but not a struggle. But it is those FROG scenes that are famous. Beautifully crafted objets d’art are broken up and scattered throughout a scene, and you must put them back together. Again, better graphics would be so wonderful in these scenes.

    There is a directional hint, and an interactive map, that does not allow you to jump. I don’t particularly like the map, which gives both objectives and areas of interest, because most of the time there are no areas of interest indicated on it. Yet obviously there is something somewhere that needs doing. So. I stick to hint. There is no journal.

    There are 3 modes of difficulty, or you can choose to simply turn off sparkles on either HOPs or active areas.

    CE BLING!
    As with other Dark Parables games, the collectibles take the form of objects in the locations that make up a part of one of the fables used to construct the story. There are 4 per parable, and I think there are 5 parables. Other extras have not yet been indicated.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    It’s a good game. It could have been a great game. Still, for those who are playing on a laptop, this game will look magical!

    I recommend this game!

    jessmom01

    Posts : 52
    Join date : 2012-09-07
    Location : PA, USA

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by jessmom01 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:59 pm

    JTF, great review on the Shiver:Siren beta!  Okay

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:44 pm

    Thanks jess!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:46 pm

    Europe (an Mystery) [2]: (The) Face Of Envy
    Collector’s Edition



    Release Date: Feb 2014

    Developer: Blam!

    A One-Man Crime Wave****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    Delightful & unusual start to this game. Delightful for its excellent cut scene graphics. Unusual because it starts with a renaissance man preening before a mirror – hardly stirring stuff? No, but then things go downhill fast!

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    Lovely hand painted graphics. Excellent colour palette ranging from bold to subtle, light to dark. Everything clearly lit and wonderfully detailed. The music is awesome, authentic (to my uneducated ears) and melodic. The voiceovers are very good, but there is no lip sync.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    After your last case in Paris, you gained some notoriety, so it is not long before you hear from another policeman in need of your skills. Off to Rome for another mysterious series of crimes. This time someone is robbing nobles blind – literally, in one case. Not only does he rob his victims, he also leaves them suffering inexplicable ailments. Your investigation starts with the jeweler who has made all the pieces stolen so far. But you arrive too late to question him... and the masked villain gets away.

    GAMEPLAY
    This game has an interesting modification to some of its HOPs, which are mostly interactive lists. In the modified ones, every item listed is interactive! That’ll keep you busy! There are also at least one multiples HOP. I barely noticed the puzzles. There are not a lot of them, and those in the demo are easy enough for me to feel comfortable. There is a directional hint, notebook and interactive jump map. You can toggle the indicators for the map in the options menu, and choose from 3 modes of difficulty.

    Signature feature. Like the first European Mystery, Scent Of Desire, this game has a unique mixing kit. In this case, it is a jewelry creation box. You must find certain ores or gems, collect and charge (with rays of sunlight) powerful crystals, then follow a blueprint to compose the item you wish to create. Actually more fun even than the alchemy box in Scent Of Desire.

    Something to note. The inventory bar can be locked by clicking on the lion face in its centre. It had me believing there was no lock for a while.

    CE BLING!
    There are the sunlight rays mentioned to collect, along with 35 hidden masks, and a collection of journal notes. All 3 have related achievements. There is also an achievement for using a helper. This seems to be a beautiful ermine, but it’s possibly more than one. It’s not clear. There is no further information about the CE extras in this edition.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    I had a wonderful time playing this game. It is reasonably easy, so the expert crowd won’t like it, but for most of us, this is a great way to be entertained.

    I recommend this game!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:59 pm

    Here are 3 F2P Betas if anyone is interested. I don't have the patience for them, so I won't be reviewing them myself.


    Super City

    Governor Of Poker: Texas Tycoon

    Archie: Riverdale Rescue


    Have fun!

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:01 pm

    And 2 new additions to the 'front page' beta list

    07/02

    Mad Head Games

    Cadenza: Death by Jazz BETA
    www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/26063/cadenza-death-by-jazz-survey/index.html

    Boomzap

    Awakening: The Redleaf Forest BETA
    www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/26064/awakening-redleaf-forest-survey/index.html

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
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    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:21 pm

    Royal [2](Detective): Queen Of Shadows

    Release Date: 2014
    Developer: Elephant Games

    Become The New Lord Of Statues!*****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    It’s a good opening. Young girl running through the dark woods. Stops, stares, ”Mother!”, reaches for the woman she has been searching for for 5 years... and she is snatched away. This sequel to the fabulous Lord Of Statues promises to be as least as good.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    I have run out of words to describe the awe-inspiring artwork we are seeing these days, especially from this developer. So I won’t try to say more than it is truly magnificent, as you’d expect, and there is no down side. The music is also breathtakingly lovely. In particular, one particular track with a piano lead that sounds like a love song waiting for lyrics. The background sounds are wonderful too. Voiceovers, superb.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    You don’t have to have played the first game of the Royal Detective series, Lord Of Statues, but the game assumes you have. You have received a cry for help from Princess, who you last saw in that game, then aged maybe 7 or 8 years old. It is 5 years later, and the teenager has finally found her mother, who has now been kidnapped. You meet her at a strange and magical city, and are greeted by a skull. He is the spirit of the city’s keeper, and your new hint.

    Princess herself has a good grasp of magic these days, and a fair idea where her mother might have been taken, so you follow her lead. Then some.. thing... attacks her in the forest. This is shaping up to be a dangerous case. It is also a much darker story, where skeletons and war and evil magic abound.

    Back story is delivered in mini-game format. The first requires you to paint (by code) an image. The second is a panorama-style game where you must get your hero from home to the castle past many obstacles. The third has you playing a series of align the parts of the image game – usually used to define star constellations. Each time you progress, another piece of the story is revealed.

    GAMEPLAY
    The gameplay is the familiar:  HOPs searched by interactive list, and an array of puzzles both known and unknown, varying degrees of difficulty. There is no journal but there is an interactive jump map that gives you active tasks, and a hint system that tells you your next move and takes you there.

    There are also some differences. For example, we get a fire dagger early on, which so far we’ve been able to keep. Likewise, we receive a magic book, and a magic gauntlet, both of which will be used many times during the game. (I believe, based on the evidence). We receive magic items that can gather hidden objects within the locations that have been previously indicated (I feel a ghostly presence here), but invisible. These mini-collections are small, 5-7 objects, and the vessel disappears once it’s been used. There is a significant amount of this sort of activity.

    There are also 25 collectible “little dragons”. Other CE BLING! is not available in this version.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    Wonderful! Magical! Loved it! A worthy successor to Lord Of Statues.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!

    Frodo

    Posts : 1443
    Join date : 2013-08-12
    Age : 43
    Location : Scotland, UK

    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by Frodo on Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:19 pm

    Excited about this one.   Big smile   Loved the first Lord Of Statues, and was looking forward to a sequel, to find out what happens next to little Princess.   Smile 

    And the collectable dragons just adds so much more appeal!  (for me, anyway, cos I like dragons   Laugh )

    Thanks for review, JustTheFacts.  I'm downloading the beta now.   Okay

    RenaissanceMom

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by RenaissanceMom on Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:14 pm

    Thanks for all these links!!! Often I prefer betas to whole games anyway (especially if they're full of HOs) and I will definitely try some of them.  Happy bounce


    Last edited by RenaissanceMom on Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:06 pm; edited 1 time in total

    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:27 pm

    Great!! I think betas are the best fun! I can play them as if I own them, because, hey, I do. You get a game that's just so so, you can play an hour or so (no time limits!) without buying whole game. And sometimes I'm like you RMom, I just don't feel like playing more than an hour of anything Big smile 

    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:40 pm

    Man! I have just played the beta for Spirit Seasons 2 (you remember the first one? It was kinda whacky), this one is awesomely insane! Or insanely awesome! Also fairly gross lol. barf 


    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:15 pm

    Spirit Seasons [2]: (The) Tower****

    Release Date: 2014?
    Developer: Tiki’s Lab

    Grotesque – I Like It!

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    This game starts out confusing by using several different graphic styles, even within the intro. Do you remember the original Spirit Seasons? It’s been years since it was released, but this is a genuine sequel to it, dealing with another little girl ghost with an attitude problem. So far, there has been a fair amount of gross stuff, from catching spiders with a frog, to disembodied hands conducting surgery on various non-human (thank goodness) body parts.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    The graphics are beautiful, clear, bold, detailed and cleverly drawn, even in the gross bits. Mostly. The intro consists of an opening scene in this style, squeezed between story sequences told in graphic novel style, then something I can only describe as a (poorly done) mimic of Eipix’s special style of cut scene. Then we return to graphic novel, and some wonderfully dynamic locations. This is the way it is for the whole demo. Just all over the place.

    The sounds are good. The voiceovers are exceptional. But again, sometimes we have voiceovers and sometimes not, all in a single scene or dialogue. The music is upbeat and a bit more lively than for most HOPA games.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    After our first investigation into the realm of ghosts, we receive many requests to look into the ghostly experiences of people who have obviously never met a real one. Then, a letter comes from a young girl in a hospital, which seems legit, so you go off to meet her. Only to find out that she has been in a coma for 30 years, but kept the body of a child!

    Her ghost says she is in deep trouble, that “the tower” is going to ruin everything, and that you must destroy it. She cannot stay long, but she will leave us an assistant. This turns out to be Boris, a sassy blue cat oozing arrogance. He is your hint button, if you choose to accept him. Either way, he’s going to pop up uninvited with sometimes helpful, sometimes just smart aleck advice. NO, he’s not cute, but you can buy him accessories. And he is funny.

    GAMEPLAY
    There are a lot of HOPs in this game, visited twice. They are interactive lists, with more items on the list requiring action than not. You can mouse over the item names and get a silhouette of the item. Also there is some variation. In one you have ghosts popping up in the scene, demanding specific items. That was fun. The puzzles are not hard, although there was a reversi game, and I am absolutely appalling at that sort of thing, and after many attempts had to skip. The frog game required a little dexterity and good timing. So, a bit of everything.

    There are two levels of difficulty, a hint (Boris) who is likely to scoff at you as be helpful, but will do so eventually *grin*. The map is rudimentary to say the least, it consists of a sketch in the journal showing which floor you are on.

    CE BLING!
    Just a taste for us in the beta. There are collectible cat’s paws, which can be found in both the locations and the HOP scenes, or anywhere else. The beta had only 17 of them, but there will be plenty more I’m sure. They can be used to accessorise the cat. It might be worth doing, just to see his reaction. There are also achievements, both story and performance ones.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    I can’t say I’d be willing to buy it as a CE unless they fixed up the graphics and stuck to one thing – preferably the to the beautiful standards of the location graphics. I am, though, looking forward to more dealings with Boris, and seeing what the other floors of the tower have to offer.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!

    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:34 am

    (Beyond The Unknown: The) Golden Sarcophagus
    Collector’s Edition


    Release Date: 2014
    Developer: ERS Games

    Ancient Curses & Time Travel!****

    BASED ON BETA


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    This is a much darker and more dramatic game than expected, and far from being buried in sand and pyramids, as you might expect from the name, we experience two shipwrecks in the first minute. The intro and interface are quite a departure for this developer, having sleek and modern lines. But the game itself is pure ERS.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    The graphics, particularly those opening cut scenes, are extraordinary. Clear, imaginative, very fluid with lots of animation and movement. The characteristic hand painted scenes. This is another game that manages to make a beautiful warm sunshiny day scary. There are these shadows, and “evil mists”, and ghosts... Crazy men predicting the final days...Visions in greyscale, burning...

    The music is astounding. Great crashing waves of sound, sudden crescendos, eerie silence. Again, very melodramatic. The voiceovers are wonderful, with the player character speaking out loud her thoughts, and the others doing a pretty good job at lip sync. This game is made something awesome by its soundtrack.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING?
    An archaeologist finds the legendary Golden Sarcophagus, made of pure gold, on a small island, and attempts to bring it back to the mainland. Despite the rumoured curse on those who try to take it off the island. The sarcophagus, his ghost (?vision?) tells us, belonged to the infamous Time Lord (no, not Dr Who!). This is our awakening moment after our own ship wreck, which takes place 10 years after the archaeologist was on the island..

    The boat carrying the sarcophagus sank before it could leave island waters, but in the process, the 4 golden eagles on its face were lost. The archaeologist begs you to find them and return them to the sarcophagus, which he has reset in its original place.

    This is not an uninhabited island, and we soon meet some oddball characters, who of course need our help. What we (and our not overly cute but helpful dog) are doing there in the first place has not been disclosed.

    GAMEPLAY
    You are immediately caught up in doing stuff. There is quite a bit of adventure play, more so than puzzles and HOPs, although you do get to them eventually of course. The HOPs are interactive lists visited twice, nothing exciting about them, but they are beautiful to look at and clear as a bell. Alternatively, there is a simple Match-3 game you can play, but simple is not easy, and it gets more difficult in each new scene you play.

    The puzzles are nothing too difficult yet, but you have the choice to play the easy or the hard version of some. You also have a choice of 3 difficulty levels, and a very thorough range of options with which to customise your gameplay. Enough I think to satisfy the toughest die-hard.

    There is an interactive map that you acquire once you’ve got your GPS up and running, and you also keep your notes, task list, replayable videos and photos on your phone. The photos are part of the gameplay. Take 5 photos of areas relevant to the character, and you receive a high definition image of him, plus more of his story. That might be a CE exclusive I guess, but...


    CE BLING!
    There are achievements, and collectible “mysterious clocks”, which are wonderfully intricate clocks of all sorts. Together they open the time portal, which I assume is a good thing. In this beta edition, no other CE extras are noted, although I think it’s safe to say there will be all those pix we took of locations available as wallpaper.

    COMBINED IMPACT
    This is a fun game so far (about 20% of the game according to the game recorder), and has some attractive qualities, such as the sound. It is nevertheless a fairly standard HOPA, and nothing to get hysterical about. No doubt, though, I will enjoy the full game immensely.

    I recommend this game!

    Try It Here!

    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:28 pm

    New beta is:

    Shadow Wolf Mysteries 4: Crimson Moon
    http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/26083/shadow-wolf-mysteries-crimson-moon-survey/index.html

    It's weird, I was just browsing my collection and thought to myself "been a long time since a Shadow Wolf, that must be the last of the series" - I'm psychic!  Snicker 

    tesamoine

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by tesamoine on Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:06 pm

    Tried the Beta for Bad Omen.  Excellent !!!!!!!!!  I certainly hope this is released and soon.  Creepy to the max !!!!!  EEK!   Thank you JTF for posting that  Two thumbs up

    genkicoll

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:24 pm

    tesamoine wrote:Tried the Beta for Bad Omen.  Excellent !!!!!!!!!  I certainly hope this is released and soon.  Creepy to the max !!!!!  EEK!   Thank you JTF for posting that  Two thumbs up

    It's supposed to be out THIS month! Yahoo!  Looking forward to it!


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    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:12 am

    You're welcome tesamoine - making genki (and the rest of you) do the little dances Yahoo! Happy bounce  is what I call fun! Big smile  

    JustTheFacts

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:36 am

    Today's Update on betas

    12/2

    Nightwalkers: Drawn to the Woods BETA
    www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/26098/nightwalkers-drawn-to-the-woods-survey/index.html

    Dreampath: The Two Kingdoms BETA
    www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/26107/dreampath-the-two-kingdoms-survey/index.html

    I already have 2 previous beta links for Nightwalkers, both of which, from a quick glance could have used some work. So I guess this is the revamped version.

    sunshinej

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    Re: Beta Thread

    Post by sunshinej on Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:34 am

    I d/l the F2P beta Archie: Riverdale Rescue and It must not be available to play yet, because
    when I tried it just said Sorry, this is just a place holder.

    Excited to see a beta to Bad Omen and even more excited to see it is coming out this month.  I saw the preview of it and it definitely caught my attention.

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