So, whilst perusing through Destructoid I realised something. I came to the realisation that nobody was reviewing what games were being given to Playstation users for free, mainly because the games that are being given to us have already been reviewed, sometimes years ago.
So of course, why on Earth why am I providing this blog, I hear you ask?
Well, I believe that us PS+ users need to know what games are worth our time, without a critics score hanging above it that automatically causes you to say "yay" or "nay."
Hopefully this gives gamers in this community updated thoughts on games that were actually originally released years ago, while also talking about games that are fresh and new, giving you a less-than-professional opinion from us less-than-professional writers.
Given how many games are released each month, I required help, so I managed to snatch two slav... I mean gorgeous co-writers, to help bring this blog to you.
GajKnight and Lawman offered their fine services out of their own volition to review these games and for that, they have my dearest thanks.
(Provided that this blog is a first attempt of somehthing on this scale, any and all feedback is welcome to making a second one easier for readers).
Summary: Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure game, following the adventures of two characters (Vela and Shay) as they try to break out of the traditions and routines of their lives in order to get more out of life and follow their own paths. The player can switch between each characters story at will). Puzzles, both the difficult and the straightforward, are solved through talking to NPCs and using tools in your inventory.
A Gamer's View: I enjoyed Broken Age immensely and thought that both the characters and script are its best elements and it's easy to see that the writers were having a blast while creating this game. It knows when to be witty and when to be serious all the while containing this air of goofiness that just makes you smile, helped in no part by the excellent soundtrack (what I wouldn't give for an OST of this game).
Plus, the voice actors are all on top of their game, making each NPC that you meet more fleshed out and likable.. Some stick out more than others, such as Curtis the tree-fearing lumberjack or the Sock Puppets on board the spaceship, but they all work in tandem together to create a rather memorable cast.
I will say that the puzzle sections are, occasionally, a detriment to the overall experience, as getting stuck on the more difficult ones breaks up the narrative. This, in turn, causes the pace to slow down so much, that it makes you feel as if you're swimming through fresh sick with a broken arm.
I enjoy difficulty in my games, but some of the puzzles in Broken Age felt needlessly hard without a real necessity to be that way.
Nobody enjoys the humiliation of looking at a wiki to solve a puzzle... Don't pretend you've never used one.
Who would enjoy this?: If you enjoy old-school adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango then I highly recommend playing this game. Hell, even if you enjoy the games TellTale has been making or even story-based games in general, I'd say you should give this a go.
However, if you aren't a fan of adventure games or point-and-click experiences, on-top of difficult puzzle-solving experiences, then I would stay well away from downloading this game.
Summary: Chariot, is a couch-co-op, puzzle-platformer. In it you take control of a Princess and her dutiful Future Husband as they travel through various locations in an attempt to find a suitable resting place for the recently deceased King (...spoilers?).
A Gamer's View: I haven't played as much of Chariot as I would have liked, mainly because I discovered that playing it cooperatively is the way it is meant to be played, so when I am on my own, I don't play it.
At first, I played it on my lonesome and wasn't having much fun, and this review was supposed to paint the game as a car crash. When my partner joined in however, the game became far more involving, as we swore at each other for failing the physics based puzzles, or laughed together as the deceased King called us all sorts of names.
The King is actually the best part of the game, a good source of comic relief that really stands out amongst a narrative and story that falls a bit flat when trying to involve and engage its audience. Without the King character, the game would be lifeless and a bit of a slog.
The level design is great, however, using some cool, in-house physics that make you scratch your head as you try to work your way around the environment. It reminded me of Limbo in the best possible way.
It also helps that there's a visually pleasing art style present throughout the game, with an overwhelming vibrancy that I haven't seen the likes of since Guacamelee assaulted my pupils.
Who would enjoy this?: This game was built for co-op and playing it alone can be a bit of dull affair. Want a great solo experience with a quality narrative? Don't sniff around here expecting it as the game is simply not for you.
However, on the flip side, if you want a good, short-lived puzzle game that you and a buddy can enjoy, then you could do a hell of a lot worse than Chariot.
Summary: Unmechanical starts with your character, an adorable little robot, falling down a hole and leaving his lovely looking surface world for a hostile, robotic environment. This event starts a journey through many puzzles, lots of mildly claustrophobic environments, with the gameplay taking the form of 2D exploration, solving a variety of puzzles, from the basic moving blocks to more unique ones and a few surprises that aren't gonna be spoiled here.
Oh and there might be some feely-feels along the way.
A Gamers View: While it won’t give The Order: 1886 a run for its money, the attractive art-style and high-quality textures do a good job of creating a damn fine looking game. I have to give some props to the animation for the robot too, seeing him floating and bumping into the environment and recoil slightly is quite endearing. A lot of effort went into making the game visually appealing and it pays off.
Also, The Robot can grab things with his butt-beam (it looks a lot like the beam comes from his butt...just roll with it), which is actually the crux of most puzzles. It’s fairly surprising the variety of puzzles the developers came up with from just a singular mechanic... very impressive if I do say so myself.
Most of the game is linear, with only one method to solve the puzzles and one way through the level. This isn’t too much of a problem, but I would have liked to be able to go and try other puzzles when I got stuck on one (there is a hint system in game, so bear that in mind).
The soundtrack compliments this atmosphere perfectly, with background sounds consisting of low metallic groans most of the time, which lends itself well to the general feeling of isolation and hostility, even though nothing in the game explicitly is out to hurt you.
Who would enjoy this?: After finishing the game, with a great ending that would be a terrible shame to spoil, I came away being very content with what I’d played. Also, you’ll be finished with the game in a couple days, if that, though there is Extended Content after the main game is beaten. Whether you think that time is worth it is down to your love of puzzle games.
But really you should take the game for what it is.
It won't go out of its way to change your world view or contain some deeper meaning, so steer clear if you fancied something like Valiant Hearts . But it did completely occupy a couple days of my life and if you're like me, you'll be sad when it's all over and will fondly recall your journey underground with the cute little robot and his wonderful butt-beam.
Summary: Kickbeat follows the story of a man named Lee, a janitor of a monastery led by Wang Fu (I'll avoid the obvious jokes). Though he's only been part of the monastery for a couple months, Master Fu entrusts Lee to return the Music Sphere, the source of all music in the world. Stolen for the sake of creating a music monopoly on the radio, all that's left of it is eighteen songs that you use to fuel your face-kicking exploits.
The gameplay is similar to other rhythm games; enemies move to one of four corners of a circle marked by different face buttons, and timing a press with the music will eliminate the threat.
Some stages feature bosses while cut-scenes are sprinkled in between game play all the way to the end.
A Gamer's View: The game, fundamentally, is sound. Strange character proportions and generic goon squad noted, there's nothing ocular about the game that could be considered awful. Though I question the logic of using double-tapping for power ups in a rhythm game, the core game play is functional, and the game can be fun... if you can find a song worth enjoying.
Which brings me to my main issue: the track list is painful.
These things are subjective, but for a game with such a large list of wider influences, every track is strongly tied to the nu-metal craze of the '90s, with six of the game's bands being responsible for 11 of the game's songs. In short, the game ends up suffering from a genre overdose.
I was tolerant of the game's poor musical choices, but by the end I was happy to be rid of this experience.
There are plenty of rhythm games that do the same thing that this game does, except with a better set-list, whether it's in terms of genre variety or simple enjoyability.
Oh and did I mention the little fact that the story is an awful abomination. Yeah... That's something you ought to know.
Who would enjoy this?: In the end, your mileage will undoubtedly vary.
People that like old-school metal bands will have a better time than I did. I also have to emphasize that, in terms of pure, rhythm-game fundamentals, Kickbeat is essentially solid. Unremarkable, but solid.
But so far as I'm concerned, a game that has a soundtrack this weak and a story this stodgy, ends up not being worth touching with a pole.
Super Meat Boy!
Summary: As the inventively-titled Meat Boy, a boy made entirely of meat, you're attempting to rescue your girlfriend, the equally creative Bandage Girl, from Dr. Fetus, a living fetus in a jar with dapper fashion sense. Take away the colorful character designs and what you have is the oldest and simplest gaming story in history: rescue the girl and beat the bad guy.
A Gamer's View: The emphasis, from the first level to the last, is the game play.
The first few levels start off easy to get you used to running, jumping before giving you bigger challenges to overcome, such as clearing levels where all the platforms are surrounded by spinning saws. After clearing at least 17 of the first world's 20 levels, you have to survive a boss fight before moving onto the next.
The art for the game has the look and visual feel of something out of a flash game, which isn't generally a compliment. Fortunately, it's all in the art direction, and the game has a lot going for it in that regard. From the way Meat Boy leaves a blood trail everywhere he goes in a level, and splatters all over the obstacles that'll inevitably murder him, to the varied world themes, leaving the forest behind for a hospital with pits of deadly hypodermic needles and fans that can be as fatal as they can be helpful, there's a lot in the visual design that's very well done.
The game isn't especially long to beat, but there's so much to unlock that you can play for ages and not get everything. Each normal level has a different version to unlock, retooled to be even more infuriating, while bandages are collected to unlock different visualizations for Meat Boy and guest characters from other indie games.
Just so you know, there is a key difference from the other versions that should be specified here. The soundtrack is completely new, as Team Meat couldn't get the rights to the prior soundtrack from its creator, Danny Baranowsky. The new one is made by a talent group of individuals, and isn't half-bad, but unfortunately falls short compared to Danny B's amazing score.
Who would enjoy this?: Super Meat Boy, no matter which system you grab it on, is still a stellar experience for fans of 'tough-but-fair' plaformers. If you're the type of gamer who fancies a challenge, this game is tailor-made for you.
I do need an honest disclaimer here though: If you're prone to bouts of frustrated anger and have no capacity for patience, you'll want to leave this game on the Playstation Store and never even touch it. The game does a wonderful job of dragging out expletives from its players, despite the fact that it is ultimately ultra-slick and so damn well-designed that pain can be worth it.
Thanks for reading folks. This is the first of, what should hopefully, be a series. Once a month we'll try to tackle the good and bad of the PSN Free Games and try and give a little to the community in doing so.
So stay sexy and leave as much feedback as you want, I'm taking it all into account.
Try to guess which game Gaj reviewed while you're at it.