7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King Review


It’s time to take a look at a classic sprite game. The actual release is pretty new but the game is trying to capture that retro Legend of Zelda feel. It’s always nice to have a game for nostalgia and this one holds up pretty well. It’s got all of the gameplay elements you would want to see and solid level designs. It’s a good way to spend the weekend.

The game starts with an old man telling his grand kids a story. So unfortunately, that does mean the game’s story probably didn’t happen. He even changes details at times. So in this story there is a girl named Lily who has just become a knight. She’s pretty thrilled about this, but then finds out of a plot that involves the army deciding to take over the Kingdom. She reports this to the knights, but they din’t believe her until it’s too late. Now the King has been put into a deep slumber of which he will never wake again. The only way to cure him is to find 3 special ingredients guarded by various elemental monsters. The Knights are powerless to do anything so Lily must take up her blade and save the world.

As the game progresses you get more power ups and skills to use. At first you have a sword but as soon as you get your next weapons you probably won’t use it again until the final world. The gameplay style is that of an overhead look as you solve puzzles and slay enemies. Each dungeon has a wide assortment of rooms and each room usually has either a puzzle or enemies to defeat. Each dungeon you conquer unlocks either a new skill or another weapon and so by the end of the game you can easily shred through previous dungeons if you ever feel like going back. In the final world they finally buff your sword so it’ll then be your best weapon. For a little while there I was getting nervous that the sword was always going to be a terrible option. I do happen to like using swords typically after all.

The puzzles were all solid and felt fair. They weren’t trying to hide the outcomes after all and I always liked logic based puzzles. Give me a maze to run through while only touching each tile once for example. That’s a quality puzzle and one you can definitely figure out. The bosses are all pretty different which is nice. I definitely prefer when games don’t try to just re-use the bosses. This way feels a lot more genuine because you know that time and dedication went into getting everything right.

The game’s very simple and it works well here. You can master the controls easily and just dive into the levels. It’s one of those games where you can just “plug and play” at any given time. There are a good amount of collectibles to obtain as well and earning money seems like it’ll take a little while, but it won’t drag on since taking down enemies is pretty fun. Lily’s also a pretty fun lead. The King I’m a bit more mixed on because the guy sure sleeps a lot. Also, just by waving his hand he can fire off powerful energy blasts so you’d think that he would go fight off the main villain instead of sending Lily. Perhaps he was still sleepy I suppose.

The graphics are pretty solid. Everything is pretty colorful and it’s easy to tell the levels apart. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable but it’s all good stuff. One quality of life feature I liked here is the teleportation system. In a large map like this it can be a bit of a drag to have to run everywhere so fortunately you unlock the teleport path once you clear the area. Not every square has one, but most do so you never have to run for very long. By the time you clear the game you should have most of the map cleared out so with a little post game adventures you should be able to clear it all. I imagine that’s the main replay value here. The actual game campaign is a little on the short side at 3.5 hours but with the replay value you should be able to stretch that to 5-6 hours.

Overall, Blossom Tales is a pretty fun game. I wonder if we’ll get more in the series. The title may not be that long but in a way that helps it fit even more in with the other retro games it is trying to be like. Eventually I’ll be working on the original Legend of Zelda so it’ll be fun to see it in action. This game was definitely going for a similar feel although I imagine it’s a lot smoother than LoZ in almost all aspects thanks in part to how modern it is. In comparison that one’s probably going to feel pretty dated. If you haven’t picked this game up then I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Jak X: Combat Racing Review


It’s been a long while since I played a Jak game so it was good to see the franchise once more. The racing game always looked like a lot of fun back in the PS2 era so it’s about time that I got to give it a spin. It’s a racing game that’s really worth a purchase because it has the best racing plot I’ve ever seen as well as the best soundtrack. It’s a blast and a half while also being a little longer than the average racing game. That’s a winning combination if I’ve ever seen one.

The game takes place after Jak II and the main characters are all invited to hear Krew’s final will and testament. Since the characters were all involved with his demise in one way or another they decide to attend. Everyone pours a drink and while Jak refuses at first, he decides to drink anyway when he sees that Krew’s daughter drank as well. Unfortunately his initial suspicions were correct as Krew explains in his recording that he has poisoned them all. The only way to get the antidote is to win the world grand prix on Krew’s team. The heroes don’t want to help this guy even if he is dread, but now their lives are riding on this outcome. The heroes swallow their pride and get ready to race.

There are quite a few subplots here in the meantime. On one hand you’ve got the TV announcer who is enjoying the races because he is earning a ton of money. They had all been fixed for many years so with the addition of Jak and friends it is adding some extra spice to the whole event. The gangsters are also watching the races closely since the winner of the tournament will have a very strong standing in the community. It should be noted that most of the people entering these races are gangsters and crime lords.

The actual gameplay is like a typical racing game but with an extra big emphasis on combat mechanics. You obtain many weapons as you go through the course which range from machine guns to rockets. You can also get defensive weapons like land mines and little turrets you can leave behind to blast away at enemies. Then there are boosters to power up your boost meter and little health packs. Usually you will have to choose what to go for as when you get to the item points in the race there will be an option to grab either a weapon or a booster for example. The items are pretty frequent so you can always just alternate or something like that. The best weapon in the game is the satelite as everyone in front of you instantly crashes. It’s an amazing item but one you won’t likely see very often.

My recommendation is if you’re in first place then always go for the defensive item or the booster. You can use any defensive item to block a rocket which is very handy and boosters help you stay in first. If you’re not in the lead then always go for the attack item since you want to be back up there as soon as possible. The races are about 4-5 minutes at times so you don’t want to lose since you’ll need to start it again. In each world you need to collect 50 points to play the Grand Prix. 1st place is worth 3 points, 2nd is 2, and 3rd is 1. SO if you get a lot of 1st places it’ll help you get through the game a little quicker. I never lost a Grand Prix so I don’t know if you’d have to replay the whole thing or not, but each Grand Prix is 3 races so that would be a lot to replay.

Not all stages are typical races though. You’ve got 4-5 other kinds of gameplay. You’ve got time trials where you run into clocks to keep your time up and you try to complete the stage as quickly as possible. Then you have Death Races where you have to blow up a number of cars before time runs out. There’s Traffic where cars will run at you and you have to run through them as you get to the end. Death Matches have you try to earn 10 points in eliminating other players. Then there’s Artifacts Race where you scramble to grab them before the other players and capture the flag where you try to get an orb into your base. There’s also booster mode where you’re at top speed and have to power up as many orbs as you can.

There’s a lot of variety here so the game has quite a lot to offer. It’s clear that this racing game had a lot of effort behind it. The graphics are top notch and I’m glad that they went to the trouble of adding so many cutscenes. It has more of them than the average platformer game which is pretty cool. Then you have the soundtrack which is great as there are a lot of rock themes. Every time you unlock a car you get a great tune and the stage themes are excellent as well. It really fits in with the game’s atmosphere.

The main story mode should take you around 7-8 hours I’d say. After that the main replay value will be trying to get all of the stars and maxing out each car. There’s not much reason to do the latter but I’m assuming you get something for doing all cars. Ironically powering up a car can backfire at times as it’ll go too fast and you’ll crash so my advice is to be careful with it. I did a lot of upgrades in the final world and it nearly cost me everything.

The writing here is top notch so all of the characters are entertaining. There are a lot of twists in the stories and a fun cast of characters. It’s nice to see all of Jak’s friends show up. Not all of them were the nicest to Daxter, but it’s hard to be when he’s always lying and you can’t tell if he’s on your side or not. The opening cutscene of the game is a good example of this as Daxter starts on one of his crazy adventures again. Jak’s appearance ends up hurting Daxter’s credibility, but it was already shot. You really have to experience the story to see why it’s so great. Jak’s the standout, but the reporter and Jak’s friends are also pretty entertaining. They all don’t tend to get along very well but in their defense, being poisoned does spoil the mood.

Overall, Jak X is a terrific game and it reminds me of why Jak is such a great character. He’s the best Naughty Dog lead for sure. Pretty much every line he gets in this game is terrific. He’s really not about to get intimidated the way a lot of others characters do when the villain shows up. Now that’s what I call talent. If you don’t have this game yet then you need to change that. It’s a lot of fun and really changes the way you think about racing games.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Asdivine Hearts 2 Review


After a long time since playing the first game it’s finally time to take a look at the sequel for PS4 thanks to Limited Run Games. The first one was super memorable for me thanks to its really impressive UI and menus. The game is just super streamlined and has every feature you could want in an RPG. This one is a great followup even if the plot isn’t quite as good as the first one. Some of the characters can be a bit much, but either way I would definitely still recommend picking up this game.

The game takes place 2 years after the first one. Zack and Stella haven’t seen each other in that span of time, but they are called together once more by the light goddess Felix. She explains that something is wrong in a parrallel world so she wants their help in investigating. The dark goddess Nadia will be accompanying them as well as Uriel from the last game. Celine has to stay back this time to help with preparations for the Star Festival. The heroes enter the portal and find that the other world is freezing over thanks to the powers of a new deity. They will have to stop this guy at all costs, but is there more to this threat than meets the eye?

Naturally the plot expands quite a lot from the general premise as you would expect from any long RPG. This game is quite a bit shorter than the first one and you’ll probably beat it in half of the time. Still, at around 12 hours the campaign is still long enough to get your money’s worth as well as a bunch of twists and turns in the game. Whenever the climax approaches (We get 3-4 different climaxes) the game always draws you into the excitement thanks in part to the music. The soundtrack is pretty limited, but the tunes that we do get are quite terrific. I could hear the enemy theme on loop for hours and the final boss theme is suitably hype as well. The game does a good job of really selling you on the game ending before a twist suddenly throws everything for a loop once more.

The graphics are also very good. The cutscenes are told through image illustrations like a GBA game, but the character portraits definitely look like they are in HD which is good. Everything just looks shiny and modern which I think it a must for any big PS4 game. The gameplay graphics are nice as well even if I don’t look at the effects all that much since I have the game running at high speed mode. The attacks look great, but the animations do tend to take a while so after you’ve seen them all once it makes sense to just skip past them.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard turn based combat system. Each character gets to attack and you can use various skills and techniques to speed up your turn or slow the opponent’s down. Each character can learn a ton of attacks including physical skills, magical skills, unity skills, combo skills, etc. By the end of the game your menu will be pretty cluttered with how many different kinds of moves you can activate. In most games this could be overwhelming, but Asdivine Hearts does a good job of never letting it get that far. Part of how it does this is by allowing you to control everything. You can put your guys on automatic for fights, you can skip fights with weaker fighters altogether, text speed, etc. Everything is customizable which is awesome.

I’ve never seen a game that can make grinding so effortless. Then you’ve also got other featured like gardening which increases your physical stats, tickets which gets you rare items, and power jewels which can be traded for great items like doubling your EXP for the rest of the game. I highly recommend buying all 3 copies of that as soon as possible. This is one game where you should never skip a fight because you’ll want to do as many as possible to get those gems. Trading them in gets you the very best rewards. Even with all of this the final boss is pretty difficult though. A lot of their skills will really test your abilities and put your skills as a player to the mettle. They seem to have almost unlimited durability and even with my characters at level 90+ I was having some real difficulty. The final bosses took around 30-40 minutes to conquer which was pretty crazy.

The main character cast is good for the most part. Zack is still a great lead who always does the right thing. He has a lot of confidence and usually comes up with the best plans out of the bunch. Even with his companions being a little crazy he never lets it get to him and always stays ready as the leader. Stella is a good main heroine as well even if her whip gimmick feels a little forced at this point. At least she is a little bolder than in the first game and also doesn’t get quite as jealous as last time. It would be nice to see her use her light powers a little more though.

Then we have Uriel who is the best of the training companions. She’s honest about her feelings the whole time and her subplot about being a little worried since she is a human was pretty emotional as well. Uriel was a good companion to have around. Then we have Felix who isn’t quite as solid as the others. She’s a goddess and yet she is always a few steps behind the other characters in just about everything. How can you be a deity and still not be prepared for what’s going on? That just doesn’t work and it makes her look pretty bad the whole time. Her whole fur gimmick is definitely not great either.

Then we have Nadia whose core personality isn’t bad, but her obsession with Felix gets to be a bit much. The game loves giving everyone a different creepy gimmick like this which can get old very quickly. Lets not even start with the character who wants everyone to stomp on her. (Or him. It’s hard to tell with some of these characters) The problem is that these traits start to take over the characters very quickly so it has to appear in every cutscene more than once. A lot of the cutscenes get pretty iffy as a result.

The villains are good at least. As I mentioned there are quite a few twists with each villain getting a different “All according to plan” moment which is nice. The hype music also really sells these scenes so that the game can get quite epic when it needs to be. As a result I can’t say that the story was bad. Really it is great during serious scenes and then pretty bad when it’s back to slice of life mode. Hopefully it can be a bit more balanced in a potential third game as this is the only thing holding the game back from a full 9 star title.

There is definitely a lot of replay value here. Beating the game will take around 12 hours as mentioned, but if you intend to platinum the game you can expect to double that amount of time. Increasing everyone’s trust levels will take time so I’m thinking the best way to get everyone’s ending would be to save right before the end and give all of your trust items to one person. Then after the trophy pops you reset the game and do the same for each other character. Some of the other trophies will still take some time though. The game’s excellent gameplay mechanics for encounters and such do make it easier to explore and find all of the chests though. It’s a much more manageable Platinum than what you would see in most other games which is definitely appreciated.

Overall, Asdivine Hearts 2 is a really fun game. The gameplay is out of this world and the level of customization that you have at your disposal is quite impressive. It may all feel a little overwhelming at first, but I think the developers did a great job of making it all as straight forward as possible.The actual story is a little on the weaker side though with the characters going a little too overboard on how desperate to be quirky they can be. Still, it’s never too bad I guess and you can always just quickly skip through the dialogue when certain characters show up. You can set the text to instant so you blast through the conversations and you can then prep for the actual cutscenes that are important. I’d definitely be game for a third title in this series but with how overpowered the heroes are at this point it’s hard to see what could possibly be a threat to them at this point. I’m sure the developers can think of something though.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

River City Girls Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent beat em up game for the PS4. The game always did look pretty solid ever since the first promotions for the game came out. WayForward and Arc SYS working on the game also ensured that it was going to be a great title. It does not disappoint. The game may be rather short but I think you could reasonably expect that based on the arcade style. It’s definitely a really fun game that doesn’t cut any corners.

The plot involves Kunio and Riki getting kidnapped by someone. Their girlfriends Misako and Kyoko get a text letting them know what’s going on so they quickly break out of school and will stop at nothing to find the guys. They may have to tear down the entire city to find them, but that’s fine by them. Whatever it takes they aim to get to the bottom of this. You’ll get a lot of fun backdrops as a result. The heroes go through the school, a mall, a boat, a music show, and more. Each location brings new enemies to beat up.

The gameplay is a very classic beat em up. You won’t have a ton of different moves so it’s about making the most of the ones that you do have. I bought a few moves near the beginning of the game, but I didn’t get anything after that. I’m sure the extra moves after that can be handy, but at the same time some moves will hold you back so watch out. I’m not sure if this is intentional, but take the move where you can pick someone off the ground and hit people with him. This one’s more of a hindrance than a help because it’s the same button as your standard punch. A lot of times I would be getting ready to punch someone and suddenly I’d be picking someone up instead. It’s not exactly a welcome surprise in those cases. Likewise while the Dab looks cool, it does mean you have to be extra precise with your kick so you don’t use this attack instead. I suppose it adds to the strategy although it’d be nice if you could turn off some attacks. Perhaps it’s possible to do so in the dojo or something.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward so you should get the hang of it very quickly. You’ll also see loose weapons on the ground that you can use to slam people with. I feel like the damage is pretty much the same as just whacking someone so you’ll rarely ever want to use it. The best combo actually seemed to be your standard 3 punches into a kick routine. I used that to great effect against every enemy and boss. It certainly paid off. When you’re surrounded by multiple opponents I recommend a tactical retreat. They’ll just land way too many blows if you stick around. Your best bet is to get out of the way and then make your way back towards them. If you hit them all at the same time you eliminate the risk of a counter attack. Dash combos will be your friend.

Each of the bosses also have a set pattern so once you learn that you should be good to go. The bosses are stil pretty tricky though and I needed food items for some of the latter ones. Surprisingly the final boss is pretty easy so I didn’t need any for her. Just keep on hitting her and try to dodge the kick counter attacks. It’s really not that hard to do so and then you’ll have made it through the game.

The story is pretty short and you can beat the game in about 4 hours. Granted there is still a lot of bonus content to explore here. You can go and deal with some extra fights to help your next door neighbor out. Additionally you can break a bunch of statutes and buy all of the collectibles. The platinum seems pretty achieveable here so you’ll just need to invest some extra time in and it’ll be yours. One thing to note is that when you switch characters your levels don’t transfer over so if you’replaying by yourself then I recommend sticking to one character.

As far as the graphics are concerned this game is top notch. Not only are the in game models and backgrounds really great but the game even has fully animated cutscenes. The comic book ones are also really shark and work extra well for the emotional bits. This is an area where the game really excels and the fact that it has full voice acting is really fun. I always feel like that helps to enhance the game even further. Then you’ve got the dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great songs to be found here and the sound quality is top notch. The game was basically booming out of my TV in every scene to the point where I’d have to turn the volume down a few notches. The game is incredibly high energy and you can’t go wrong there.

Then you’ve got the writing which is a lot of fun. As you’ve probably guessed the story isn’t 100% serious. You can see how the game pokes fun at the premise quite a bit here and there with the main characters’ proof on why Kunio and Riki have been kidnapped getting slimmer and slimmer. This leads to an incredible plot twist as the game ends which I did not see coming. It really threw all of the classic tropes out the window and flipped everything you thought you knew about the game upside down. It’s just brilliant and the script is really solid throughout the game. With the exception of the next door neighbor all of the characters are pretty solid.

Misako is the tough character of the group who is always threatening to beat people up. She’s actually a bully which several characters comment on. Nobody wants to mess with her because she’ll definitely take you to the hospital. Misako is a fun character to follow even if she may not be a traditional hero. At the very least she is trying to help the guys out so her goals aren’t so bad. Kyoko is a lot nicer but also a little dense in comparison. Things tend to go over her head. She can fight as well as Misako but isn’t as aggressive. Naturally I liked Misako a lot more, but I chose Kyoko at the beginning of the game so I ended up being stuck. From the way the menus looked I assumed Kyoko was gonna be the tough one. Ah well, lessons were learned.

Throughout the game you meet a lot of supporting characters and villains that you have to take down in each chapter. They’re all fun and quirky. I could see a full manga or anime being based around this game and it would be a lot of fun. While you won’t feel bad for the bullies or the villains, you will probably have some sympathy for the school girls who believe they are friends with Misako and Kyoko. They’re really nice at times and help us in our quests, but get absolutely no gratitude. Again this is partially foreshadowing for the twist ending I’d say but you hope they end up finding new friends soon.

Overall, River City Girls is a great game. It is really short which is the only tag against it, but it’s just so high quality that you can overlook this. It reminds me of the average Platinum game which tends to be fairly short, but gives you a lot of quality in that experience. (They do a lot of long games too, but I’m thinking along the lines of Transformers Devastation or the TMNT game. Their franchise titles are usually short) Where else are you going to get such smooth animations and gameplay? The humor is on point here and this is the kind of game that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’d definitely recommend getting it right away. Look at it this way, even if you don’t like it quite as much as I did, it’s not like it’s going to last all that long right?

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Transistor Review


It’s time to look at a video game I just managed to complete today. It’s not a title that I was familiar with before playing so it’s always fun to enter a game blind. It’s definitely got a very cryptic environment which works well like Bendy or Undertale. Like those games there is a deep plot that you’ll understand if you pay attention and do a lot of the bonus content, but if not then you’ve got the dedicated fans who will spell it out for you online. It’s a fun experience although I do have to give the ending a thumbs down.

The movie starts off with the lead Red as she wakes up next to someone who’s been stabbed. The enemy had tried to destroy her, but they ended up getting this guy instead. When she takes the sword out it talks to her and reveals his name to be Transistor. Red’s voice was unfortunately damaged so she can no longer talk. Red used to be a singer so this was pretty tragic. The whole city (Maybe the whole world?) has been taken over by a robotic army led by the Camerata. Red needs to take them all down and steal their souls to try and find a way to revive Transistor. Unfortunately the entire city is basically a ghost town at this point so she has to wonder how much progress she is actually making.

If you want a more detailed plot definitely check out Wikipedia as they’ve got it all down there. You’ll get the basic plot as you play the game, but don’t expect to learn it all right away since it is part mystery. The pieces start to add up and you’ll come across a lot of news articles and blogs in the game. There are terminals that can be found just about anywhere. You get extra trophies for interacting with everything so it’s not a bad idea to check them all out. Now lets talk about the gameplay. You are able to hum with one button and another lets you sweep a bit. You’ll never need to use either technique, but it’s nice to have them around.

The actual gameplay is Xcom style, but with a dash of real time action. You manuever your character through a sealed off area as you try to eliminate all of the enemies. You can attack in real time with one hit at a time or you can freeze time and use a few actions as a combo. The latter is pretty much mandatory as you progress through the game. Hitting an enemy from behind will deal more damage but then you have to try and calculate their trajectory to land the follow-up hit. There’s a ton of strategy to consider here which is pretty cool. Then you’ve got a robust level up system which unlocks more powers. You have to choose which ones to equip and which to keep on standby as you have very limited space. You also have limiters you can put on which further restricts your memory, but gives you more XP per fight. I turned on every limiter I had until the very final boss.

It was fun to take off my limiters as if this was DBZ and then go wild on the guy. It will ensure you have more of a challenge throughout the game, but in my opinion it’s worth it because every level up helps you out considerably. This is the kind of game where level ups make a huge difference. You also have a beach house you can go to in order to do extra fights and grind some XP as well. There’s no need to do it as the game is challenging, but not crazy. Still, the option is there so you will want to keep it in mind. Also make sure to destroy the enemy cores after you beat the minions since they will revive within 5-8 seconds otherwise.

The actual game is fairly short at about 3-4 hours. You can stretch this out to around 8 or so if you go for everything. I think one of the trophies is for beating the game twice as well so getting the Platinum will take quite a lot of time. It’s a short title, but a fun one so I expect you’ll have a fun time regardless. The deciding factor here will likely be how you enjoy the gameplay. I liked it a lot since strategy is my thing. It’s the kind of “puzzle” in a sense that I can actually enjoy. I also did like the cryptic plot. In a way games can be extra fun when they never tell you what’s going on. You get to fill in all the blanks and whenever a game/film/any kind of media hides things rather than spelling it out I think it works really well. It just adds on to that mystery angle.

The graphics here look pretty good. It’ll remind you of some of the alien games for the Wii. Naturally this isn’t going to look at high end as the average AAA PS4 game, but it’s all still very smooth and leak. I also like the illustrations that pop up after each level. They look quite grand and I’m sure quite a lot of effort was put into them. Some of these are interactive as well so always be sure to stay sharp. As for the soundtrack, I can’t say that it was very memorable. It was cool that we got actual songs though. The song that played during the first level was quite good. I was surprised that we didn’t get many more after that, but considering that it has a full soundtrack I imagine there are a ton more that were created for the game.

As I mentioned the ending isn’t very satisfying though. I can’t really talk about it at all without spoilers, but it didn’t really work. I will say that it’s not all that selfish on Red’s part since as I mentioned there aren’t a lot of people around anymore. I was just against it on principal, but in her shoes its not as if the decision doesn’t make sense. It makes sense for sure, but in the same logic that a lot of villains tend to use in various series. It was unexpected though, I’ll definitely grant the game that. I did not think it was heading in that direction at all.

Overall, Transistor is a fun game. It’s definitely one of those titles that is a lot of fun for the experience. Once you know how things are going to end up I don’t think you would be able to play it through for a second time. At least not for a long while. At the same time the new game + may give you extra story details which would be cool. There is a lot of post game content here as well as you try to max out your level. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend checking it out. I don’t think you should really be paying more than $20 for it though considering the short length. Once you start you will definitely be sucked into it and hopefully we do get a sequel someday. It doesn’t feel very likely based on the ending though.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The Messenger Review


It’s time to look at a recent game known as the Messenger. This one takes your classic 2D platformer genre and throws in some Metroidvania mechanics. It’s also part parody so it pokes fun at a lot of the usual tropes. It’s a pretty solid game, but one that would have risen up to great status if it had just not added in the Metroidvania aspect. The title didn’t really need it to be a complete title as the story and length would have still been pretty sufficient.

The game starts with the main character’s village being attacked by demons. The lead had been complaining about how boring the place was so he starts to feel a little regret as everyone is slain and he is powerless before the Demon King. Fortunately there is a prophecy that a legendary hero will arrive to save everyone. Unfortunately the hero was late so he gives you a letter to deliver to someone on top of a mountain to really save the day. You are now the Messenger and the fate of the planet rests on you. If you don’t deliver this letter then everyone is truly doomed.

That’s the basic plot but of course there’s a lot more to it than that. The second half of the game in particular really throws in a lot of other elements like time travel and other dimensions. It’s all explained pretty well though so you’ll have no trouble getting what is going on. There is also a long cutscene near the end of the game to explain the origins of how this all happened. It’s pretty interesting and the game has a nice vibe to it. The main character has more personality than I would have expected.

The writing is particularly strong here. As I hinted at earlier with the parody elements, the script is a lot of fun. The characters are constantly throwing shade around and insulting each other. For the soundtrack, it’s pretty calming. The best theme in the game is the shop tune. There are 2 themes that are randomly selected when you go to the shop, but at least 50% of the time. You’ll be hearing the really hype tune. Then for the graphics it’s all very clear. It’s got that classic sprite vibe, but it’s not blurry or retro in the slightest. It’s like a very modern version of a sprite game and that’s definitely okay by me. You always feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile the gameplay is just as solid. You run and jump through the levels and are armed with your sword as well as Shuriken. Those are the only weapons you have, but they get the job done. Then you have the interesting air mechanic which is basically an extra jump you get whenever you hit an opponent or an obstacle while in the air. This leads to some pretty intense platforming sections during the later parts of the game. You’ll actually have to try quite a bit if you want to clear those levels. It’s no longer a walk in the park. It’s a satisfying level of difficulty and there are constant checkpoints so you are never worried about being sent too far back. The game design was quite solid.

So far this is sounding like an amazing game right? Well, that’s because it was quite great throughout. From the start of the game all the way to the big confrontation with the demon king’s right hand man it was a fast paced adventure filled with great platforming and a solid level up system. After that is where the game hit a big hurdle. Up til this point it was a straight forward adventure, but after beating the demon you are sent back to the time chamber and must now go back through all of the old levels to find some music notes. Keep in mind that going through these levels took hours the first time. You are given some portal shortcuts to jump around, but not nearly enough. Get ready to spend 4-5 hours just running around collecting. To get a music note you must first do other things like helping explorers and dragons.

This part was pretty tedious. It’s handled far better than a game like Metroid since you at least know where to go thanks to hints from the shop owner. Of course that will cost you quite a few shards so it’ll keep you from buying other power ups for a while. You’ll be crossing the same levels over and over again multiple times as you try to near the end. This part just felt like it was here to stall for time and I think it shouldn’t have done that. I definitely prefer when things are linear or if you’re back tracking with a purpose. At the very least you should have the ability to quickly get to where you want to go instead of having to hoof it the old fashioned way.

Ah well, that’s really the only gripe with the game that slows it down quite a bit. Once you have the music notes then you enter the climax and things get pretty exciting again. All in all, the game had a lot of really fun ideas. The shop owner was definitely one of the best characters in the game but I also liked the lead a lot. The game throws a quick fake ending at you twice and both times it worked really well. I actually think it would have been awesome if the game ended with the first ending as it would have subverted everything so convincingly. It still works without ending there of course, but it shows that the writers really knew what they were doing. They made the game in a way where you would be satisfied no matter what.

As for replay value, there are some things to do here. When you beat the game you can start a New Game +. Additionally you can work to getting the Platinum Trophy in this game which certainly won’t be easy to do. I managed to get most of the trophies in the game but there are 2 tough ones that I feel would take a long time which is the dark cave one and another where you have to beat most of the game without dying. That’s a pretty tough thing to do, but if you’re dedicated to clearing the game then you’ll manage. I definitely recommend getting as many of the upgrades as you can early on. Earning money isn’t very tough so you shouldn’t have much of a problem. Getting the upgrade that gives you triple attack is extremely handy.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out The Messengers. It’s around 10 hours long so it’ll definitely last you for a while and it’s just a fun look at the platforming genre. Keep in mind that the second half of the game will slow things down, but all in all the first half and the climax should still keep things up. The game does end with a “To be Continued” message so maybe someday we’ll get a sequel. I’d be down with checking that out and it would be interesting to see where the plot goes from here. The ending was fairly definitive if you ask me so I’m thinking it’ll either be a totally new main character or he is just thrown into some crazy situation that the blue cloaked warriors didn’t tell him about.

Overall 6/10