Abzu is one of those games where you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring. The very premise of the game is effectively that you are underwater and just trying to have a good time. Unfortunately as things go on you can expect to face off against some powerful foes and this may be a deadlier swim than you had ever intended. The fact that the game has some lore and a bit of a story is always a nice bonus. The game isn’t very long but the time could definitely end up extending if you get lost or something which is very easy since there is no map.
The first half of the game is really focused on just swimming around but there is usually a general pattern. You have to find a way to power up the two chains leading into the main statue. To do this, you will have to usually find either a generator to turn on or have your robot blast through something. Your little drone robots are incredibly handy I should add so if you find one on the ground, make sure to pick it up. That being said, I think it may be mandatory anyway so you’ll find yourself doing that at some point.
The only active button you need to use in the game is the square button which allows you to interact with objects. This is how you progress items and get farther in the game. If you see an orange triangle show up anywhere then you have found exactly what you were looking for. That is your ticket. There are also meditation zones where you can space out for a while. It’s an interesting concept to be sure but….I don’t think you really need to worry about that one for too long outside of trophies.
The soundtrack is fairly mild here as it’s going for a very laidback array of music where you don’t even notice it half the time. I’d love some more rock themes or something of course but I do get why they didn’t go that way. The graphics are good. They don’t look quite as solid as the Thumper levels of course but all things considered I think they did a good job here. The explosions from the enemy squares were also good.
The second half of the game definitely picks up in the excitement factor since we get some actual action scenes and a sense of danger. It’s still nothing too high end of course as the focus is ultimately on exploration but it was a nice way to make things more interesting. There are a lot of paintings to establish some kind of lore and my personal guess is that humanity was wiped out by these robotic aliens. The main character managed to escape but he’s just not sure what to do anymore. That’s why he’s wondering around all over the place. I assume perhaps he has amnesia or something like that which I think would make sense in the context of the story.
I’ll definitely give Abzu credit for having large levels though. Part of why you can get lost in the first place is because the levels are absolutely massive. You can just be running around for ages and ages as you get used to the place. While you are in the water for 99% of the game, there are brief moments where you get to go on land. That was definitely fun and I wouldn’t have minded more sections like that. Land based movement is ultimately still the best if you ask me although 3D flying comes at a close second. Being able to do both kinds of movement like in Superman for Gamecube is ideal.
Overall, Abzu is a very low key game. My first impressions of it weren’t great but the game did soften me up as it went along. It ultimately became a game that could stand up on its own. Slowly but surely it got more interesting and that’s a good way to go out. Better to have an unimpressive opening and a solid ending than vice versa. Things got a little dicey for a minute there when it seemed like something was going to happen to the Shark but fortunately that was not the case. It’s not really the kind of game I would go out of my way to buy personally, but when it’s free like this I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re up for a game about exploring then this is as good a title as any to check out. That said, if you want something that’s a lot more plot focused involving water then you’re going to want to check out Super Mario Sunshine which to this day may be the definitive water based game.
PS4 Trophies 5/19
PS4 Trophies 0/14
Time to check out another one of the PS Home free titles. Subnautica is a survival game and I haven’t played a whole lot of those. Unfortunately…that’s probably for good reason. Now, you can absolutely churn out some great titles for this genre, but this was not one of them. I think there is an ambitious game to be found here but it does leave you to your own devices a lot and it is maybe trying to be a little too realistic. More on that in a minute.
Your spaceship has crashed and now you are stuck in an escape pod. You are able to bust out but the main ship is infected with radiation so going there isn’t exactly an option. Additionally, you don’t have a lot of equipment. If you don’t rustle up some food and water soon then you will eventually die. Can you manage to survive in such a remote ocean or is it game over for you? There isn’t much of a plot beyond that but you’re not supposed to be playing the game for the story to be honest.
The gameplay is pretty smooth so that’s good. I was able to make a knife and a power up that let me swim faster so that was a good way to kick things off. I felt like I would do anything as I scooped up a bunch of mushrooms and equipment. The problem is that soon after I ran out of item space and couldn’t figure out how to clear my inventory. I put as much as I could in storage but even that filled up so then I was sunk. I needed to try and make some things to fix up a radiation suit or to at least fix my tech but I couldn’t find the elusive ingredients.
One thing is due to how large the game is, it can be very hard to find a specific item. It’s like digging for a needle in a haystack as they say. Along the way you can also meet a lot of fish and even some monsters. Watch out as some of the monsters can blast you out of existence with their spores or just eat you straight up. I wanted to see how far the ocean would stretch out so I made it a great distance before being eaten. I’m sure there is a limit to how far away you can go but it would take a while to get there.
The farther you go the more dangerous the Ocean gets as well which makes a lot of sense. That’s exactly how you would expect it to be right? Meanwhile you can’t go underwater for very long as you will drown so keep that in mind as well. In a way you have 4 different health meters now as you have to watch out for radiation, hunger, oxygen, and water. Fail to keep one of those meters up and you’ll die. As I mentioned the game goes very in depth. I could have done without some of that though like food which is probably the most annoying one. Dying of hunger’s kind of sad but at the same time I won’t want to waste item space on getting a lot of fruits or fish.
You’ll need to do it anyway but still, I think that’s where the game is getting a little too realistic. I’d be good with just hanging out in the ocean. The graphics are definitely really good though. The game’s visuals are sharp like the waves and the backdrops. It’s part of why you can be okay just swimming around for an hour or two. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though so don’t expect to hear any big tunes like that. This isn’t exactly that kind of game after all.
Ultimately what keeps the game from going higher is that it’s just not a whole lot of fun outside of short spurts for me. It’s not really a very active game where you are doing a lot of things. You do have to plan things out and someone like Senku from Dr. Stone would probably appreciate the attention to detail. Outside of a scientific basis though, I wouldn’t be likely to go back to this game without some kind of extra story being added in or some cutscenes. Now that would be a lot of fun.
Overall, Subnautica is a game where you can tell they did put a lot of work into it. It didn’t quite click with me but if you’re really into the genre I can see how it could potentially work. The level is certainly huge so you can spend a lot of time in the game. The loading time may be a little long to start the game but considering how much has to be generated I can see why that is the case. It basically saves at any time as well so that’s cool. There are also some automatic events that play out the longer you play so that’s pretty neat. It’s free so you may as well give it a shot.
Gal Gunvolt Burst is a game that I didn’t even know existed as of a few days ago. Who would have guessed that Mighty No 9 would have had a crossover of any kind. Well, it’s definitely nice to see Beck back alongside the Gunvolt character. I’m not familiar with the series Gal is from but the more crossover characters the better right? It’s a really solid platformer that rewards exploration and customization. If you get the right loadout set up then you should be able to dominate any level with ease. I tried going through the whole game without much customization but let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.
The game starts off with Gunvolt being warped into a rather strange world. In this world he is unable to use his normal powers. Before he can make head or tails of what is going on, he is approached by a robot who claims to be Beck but longtime Mighty No 9 fans will know that the color scheme doesn’t match. He says that Gunvolt will have to defeat 8 Robot Masters in order to find out the truth about the world. Gunvolt isn’t sure what is going on here but he is certainly ready to unleash some combat and take everyone down a few pegs. They don’t have him known as one of the strongest fighters out there for nothing after all.
The story is very to the point. I imagine that in the other stories we would see something similar here. The structure of the game follows the classic Mega Man template where you have to defeat the 8 robot masters in front of you. After that you enter the final levels where you have to defeat them all again and then take on the final boss. Each level isn’t particularly long but you should really take the time to explore a bit on the way to grab some power ups. The power up function is very handy here.
In terms of gameplay you’re running through the levels and blasting all of the enemies in your way. However, there is a bit of a wrinkle to the normal formula here. You are given a customization menu you can access at any point. Here you can choose to do things such as make your bullets bigger, improve your speed, add double jumps, etc. You have to fit it all within your system specs though. So initially you won’t be able to do much of anything and then by the end of the game you can turn on almost everything. When you beat a level you are given the option to choose one of 3 rewards. These include more space, a poster for your collection, and an elemental power. Initially I picked space for each level I beat.
That ended up costing me a bit because element attacks are really what you want here. Like in any classic Mega Man title the element guns help you deal extra damage to your opponents. It makes a huge difference in a fight. Without those element guns I wasn’t able to beat almost any boss without a lot of fruit. Fortunately every level would give you opportunities to grab a ton of fruit. However, this caught up to me in the climax level where you have to beat all 8 robots again. That was a little much for me to deal with. I got wrecked a lot so I had to go back and beat every level a second time. Additionally I went out of my way to get a bunch of other power ups. The best customization option was the triple attack. It takes up a huge amount of space (5000. For reference my final space limit was 7000) but it’s well worth it. It’s hard to describe just how good triple attack is. With that I was beating most bosses in seconds.
So the moral here is that customization is huge. It’s handled really well and the reason why I like it is because it does cause you to explore but you really feel the benefits of doing so. I’ve always said that if you’re going to be a game with a lot of backtracking then it’s important that you feel the improvements. It is undoubtedly true that you are way stronger with these upgrades so that was satisfying. The Gunvolt levels were also a lot of fun because they faithfully recreated all of the Mighty No 9 levels to go with the bosses. It’s all pretty nostalgic this way and seeing Beck again was definitely a lot of fun.
The graphics are on point as well as the soundtrack. This has that nice Mega Man feel to it both with designs and music but throwing a modern touch on it. This is an example of a game modernizing a lot of elements without losing sight of what made it so much fun in the first place. The game is a little short on each playthrough. I’d say it’s probably around 2-3 hours. There’s a trophy for beating the game in an hour though and I can see how that’s possible. There are 8 main levels which range from 3-5 minutes and then the final 4 levels. As long as you beat them without dying too often and properly use your customizations then you’ll be set but that’s not something you are likely going to be able to do the first time around. Obtaining the platinum trophy would likely be difficult here.
One trophy says to beat the whole game with your default loadout. I can already see how that would be quite troublesome indeed. You would need to really master the boss attack patterns. It does add to the replay value though as well as beating the game with the main 3 characters. The physical version of the game also brings a lot of bonus characters that you can play as too. So you have a lot of options here to be sure. I know the main 3 have very different gameplay styles so I wonder if that’s true for these other characters as well or if they are echos this time around.
Overall, This is a fun crossover. It’s a very retro styled game with a nice little plot where we get to see the heroes meet up. It’s fairly quick but all of the levels are fun so you’ll have a good experience here. If you like side scrollers or shooting games in general then this is a good one to check out. Additionally the customization aspect is just handled really well so it’s fun to experiment with different loadouts. I’m definitely ready to get some more crossovers like this in the future.
PS4 Trophies 12/23
PS4 Trophies 20/37
After playing through Dynasty Warriors I knew that it was time to get more classic beat em up games from Kemco. One Piece was the perfect follow up. It’s a terrific game through and through with extremely tight gameplay. Every aspect of the game is just flat out amazing with a top tier soundtrack, amazing graphics, etc. There’s just nothing to dislike about this game. It really delivers and is an excellent tribute to the series. I would highly recommend checking it out whether you’re just a big One Piece fan or like the gameplay in general. It’s quite polished and I definitely look forward to the day they make a 5th installment.
The game adapts 6 of the story arcs from the manga. Naturally there’s no way you could hope to adapt everything from the series so there are a number of big jumps and such as you go through the campaign. They do manage to tackle all of the big stories though such as Marineford and Wano. For the arcs that are skipped the game gives you a quick recap so you know what went on through a set of cutscenes. The campaign is a pretty solid length so there is a lot of detail here. If you list any influential One Piece scene off the top of your head, odds are that it is in this game.
Naturally the gameplay here is your typical 3D hack n slash/beat em up. You pick a character and take down hundreds of enemies as you accomplish the goals of the level which range from defeating enemies to capturing territories. To capture a territory you must beat a large number of enemies in that zone and then take out the leader. This prevents further reinforcements from that area which is a pretty great help in these battles. I always prioritize taking over the area whenever possible. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and specials. There is also a very detailed power up system where you amp your moves up. I really focused on getting Luffy and Sanji to max as their battle styles were already really good so with the extra boost to their abilities it was like cake going through the levels.
The game likely anticipated this though so throughout the game you will be forced to play as many different characters. Then you have the tricky decision of using some of your resources to power them up even though you may never play them again or try to squeak by with level 1 stats. It can be a pretty hard decision. Also one thing to keep in mind when playing as Sanji is that he can’t do much against female opponents. The game even gives you a warning message if you try to play him in a level where they show up. I ignored the warning the first time and it got tricky. Effectively you can only offer a single strike and then Sanji immediately recoils. So you can imagine that defeating an opponent will take forever when you can only land a single move like that. Without the special abilities I would have been there all day so after that I was careful when to pick him.
The power up system also allows you to learn a bunch of new moves which are handy since a lot of them are better than your starters. You can also use transformations like with Luffy activating Gear 4. It’s a really handy move to have here. In terms of pure gameplay this has to be one of the smoothest that I’ve played in a long time. I would put it even above Dynasty Warriors 9 and Hyrule Warriors 2. Both of which tried adding some new mechanics which were fun enough but Pirate Warriors 4 is going back to basics. Just take enemies down right away. I would beat up to 2500 enemies in some levels. The best attack in my opinion is Conqueror’s Haki. Using that causes many enemies to instantly die and it also ignores any shields the enemy may have up. What can beat that?
Then you’ve also got an amazing soundtrack in this game. Pretty much every tune is amazing. I’ve been listening to the tunes online after playing through the game quite a lot. There may not be a ton of different tracks as I only see around 15 online but they are all just pretty amazing. You can feel the energy in each one of them and they really make you want to jump in and get on the action. You’ve got suitably emotional tracks as well. This has to be one of the most complete soundtracks I’ve heard in a minute. Naturally the graphics for the game are also quite good. The characters are striking and same for the various landscapes which are all unique and pretty accurate to the manga/show.
In terms of replay value there is definitely a whole lot to get through here. Aside from the main story you can also play a lot of stand alone adventures in the Treasure log and experiment with all of the characters. Obtaining the Platinum Trophy will also take a very long time. Right now you can get this game for under 30 so it’s definitely a steal. You won’t run out of things to do in this game for a very long time. The main campaign alone would justify the purchase so with all of that extra content you’re definitely good to go.
Overall, The only thing I could say that isn’t positive about the game is that for their original ending to the Wano arc it was pretty uninspired. I wasn’t a big fan since it felt like more of a cop out than anything. Otherwise everything about this game is just incredible. You’ve got a top tier soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and story. You would struggle to find another game in this genre with smoother gameplay than Pirate Warriors 4. It’s all just so clean and polished that you can’t help but get sucked in to the adventure. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. I intend to play some more beat em up games like this in the very near future so definitely be on the lookout for that. It’s going to be a blast!
PS4 Trophies 13/44
Play Time 8h 46m
Total K.O.s: 6284
Character used and stats
Cao Cao Level 51