In Rays of the Light: Weird but Oddly Good (Review)

First off, let me say that I’m switching up my posts this week and doing my gaming post today and writing on Wednesday. The reason for this slight schedule change is that – if you didn’t already know – my next book Blindsighted will be released on Wednesday, so I’ll be doing a special post all about that.

Now that’s out of the way, let me get back to why we’re here; In Rays of the Light.

In Rays of the Light is what has been termed a “First-person meditative quest” – which I would say sounds about right. It was released relatively recently on 21st March 2021 for PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and XBOX One.

You start the game in a room in front of a TV with static displayed on it and expected to figure something out – I’m still not sure what…

There is no tutorial that tells you what the controls are; you’re pretty much just left to figure it out for yourself. When leaving the starting room, you are left to explore an empty and overgrown building and its surrounding area. There are strange messages written on the walls throughout the building, which only serves to weird you out that little bit more.

Although at one point you pick up a piece of pipe and get yourself ready to bash something’s brains in, there is no combat. Nothing will jump out at you – although there are a couple of dramatic stings of music followed by flashes of shadows that I’ll admit made me jump.

You’re free to explore the areas, finding keys and other bits and pieces to help you solve puzzles and get to the end of the game. There are also several notes that you can pick up and read and, along with cutscenes that play out, tell you more of the story.

I don’t want to give too much away – mainly because I’m still not sure what happened – but the game concludes with some bizarre occurrences that might leave you scratching your head and asking, “What the hell was that all about?”

In Rays of the Light isn’t a huge game, and if you only play it through once, it probably won’t take you any longer than maybe 2 hours to complete it. If like me, you wanted to get the platinum, this requires a second playthrough, but that will only take around 30 minutes as you can pretty much just run through it, especially if you’re just played it through once.

We picked this game up for around £7, and honestly, it was worth the money – although I wouldn’t pay more for it. It’s a decent way to spend a couple of hours and, in the most part, is pretty relaxing – at least until the last third or so of the game.

I don’t think it will be a game that I go back to at any point as I’ve seen pretty much all it has to offer, and although I still had questions at the end of it, I feel like I had a rough idea of what the developers were trying to say. I’m going to give In Rays of the Light a ⭐️⭐️⭐️. It was alright for what it was, but there wasn’t much to it. I’d say if you want a little game that you can just run through (especially if you want to get an easy platinum), I’d say give it a go.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Review)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was released back in 2013 and takes place in a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures such as giants, orcs and trolls.

Brothers was a game that I came across years ago on the XBox. I played it a little back then but for some reason I put it down and never played it again…until now.

We played A Way Out (see my review of this here) which left us wondering what else the developers made and this brought us back to Brothers. It was pretty cheap at the time so we decided to give it a go, but unfortunately it again fell by the wayside. We were really looking for something co-op in the same vein as A Way Out but despite looking two-player, Brothers isn’t. We put it down and didn’t think of it again for some time.

We recently rediscovered it though through PSNow and finally got around to playing it.

In Brothers you take control of two characters, each having their own analogue stick (we played it on the PS4) to move and L2 and R2 buttons for actions. This at times can be pretty clunky as the characters sometimes seem to have a mind of their own and keeping track of both of them can be hard and very frustrating. Sometimes it’s easier to move each brother one at a time but due to some of the puzzles you occasionally have to move them in tandem.

The story follows these two brothers on a quest to find something to help their sick father who is the only parent left to look after them since their mother drowned (all very happy stuff.) Their quest takes them through several different locations and they meet a number of characters.

There are no combat controls in this game, your main aim is either to run away or trick the enemy into running into something and therefore hurting themselves.

It’s a nice game, the graphics are pretty decent and the story is alright, but the controls just let it down so much in this version. This could have very easily been a two-player game with each player controlling a brother, but for one player to control both can be very annoying at times. The only way I can see two players bein able to play this is to share the controller, but this would probably also be difficult as the space you would have – depending on the size of your hands – would be minimum.

After playing A Way Out, Brothers was a bit of a let down, but it’s only fair I say that this game came out years before A Way Out and they are completely different games so it is a little unfair to compare them. I’m just sad that this game could have been more fun if it had been a true co-op game. I believe that the Switch port does allow for two-players, but without playing it I can’t attest to how well it plays.

For us, the PS4 version was okay, but it just didn’t give us the type of game that we were expecting and overall wasn’t great. The graphics were excellent, though, and it is beautiful to look at. The story was fair, perhaps having proper dialogue might have helped it along some. Despite this, there are still some genuinely emotional times throughout your quest. Unfortunately, the poor controls detract from the good points and lower the enjoyment quite a lot. I’d give this game ⭐️⭐️ out of 5. It could have been so much more.

A Way Out: A Prison Break for Two (Review)

A Way Out is an action-adventure game that was released in 2018 for PC, Xbox One and PS4. It has no single-player mode and is only playable using either local or online co-op, both of which employ a split-screen dynamic.

The game follows main characters Leo and Vincent as they attempt to escape from prison and evade the authorities. In order to complete the game, players are required to co-operate with each other. This takes the form of creating distractions so the other player can perform an action, or assisting each other reaching certain parts of a level. The roles will change so it’s not always one creating distractions for the other. You’re able to watch what the other is doing via the split-screen and sometimes the action will change to a cut scene for one of the characters.

We first discovered this game back in 2018 when we borrowed it from a family member. We took our PS4 to a holiday cottage (when you were allowed to go to such places) and this game came along with us. The lure of a true two-player co-op game was what made us want to play A Way Out. There aren’t many of these types of games out there, especially ones that are so good.

When you start the game each player chooses the character they wish to play as – either Vincent or Leo. At the character select screen it shows who each character is, why they were in prison etc. It doesn’t necessarily matter which character you choose, it only changes the perspective of how the game play outs but.

As soon as we started the game we were drawn into it. It starts with Vincent arriving at the prison where Leo is already an inmate and shows how they meet and how their plan to escape the prison evolves. In some parts of the game, one character has to distract other NPCs so that the other can perform an action. For example, early on in the game the player playing as Vincent needs to distract a nurse so that the player as Leo can steal a chisel from a workman to aid in their escape. It sounds simple, but you’ve got to get the timing right between you so that Leo doesn’t get caught and these type of puzzles get steadily harder as the game goes on.

The game isn’t just escaping from the prison, once you escape you have to evade the police while doing other tasks as the story unfolds, so there is a lot more to the game that just a prison break.

Once we started playing A Way Out, we couldn’t stop. In total it probably took us 2 or 3 days to complete the game but we played for long stretches at a time, the game just wants you to keep playing. The story is in depth and engrossing and culminates in an end that we didn’t see coming.

If you’re in it for the platinum, this game doesn’t disappoint. There are trophies that are story-related and there are ones that involve you performing actions that you don’t necessarily have to in order to complete the game. For example, you have to play baseball in a trailer park and hit a home run (this is harder than it sounds.)

We were impressed by the game mechanics, though they were simple and easy to get used to that didn’t stop us enjoying the game, in fact it probably added to the enjoyment as we didn’t have to spend time going through a tutorial and figuring out the controls. The story is engrossing and you soon become attached to the characters and their plans to evade capture. The graphics are great, and the few times when you see non-building scenery it looks incredible. I can’t stress enough how much we loved this game, it was the perfect game to play together while we were away and we straight away started to look for other games that are similar, but unfortunately so far there isn’t a great deal out there. This gets a well-deserved ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from us.

Erica – Live Action Gameplaying (Review)

Erica is an FMV (Full Motion Video) interactive game release on the PS4 in August 2019.

The game follows titular character, Erica, as she battles nightmares from her childhood and tries to unravel the truth about her families mysterious occult past as she’s taken to a strange hospital that her father founded. You control Erica via multiple-choice dialogue options and interactive elements in the scenes.

Erica is an interesting game and combines the choice in the story of Telltale-like games with full video and live cast. It’s a good idea in theory and if you just play it through it’s a decent enough game.

Unfortunately, though, there several issues that I feel could have been worked on a little more.

First off, continuity. There are so many continuity errors in this game; it’s unbelievable. Some can be forgiven, but the sheer number of them just can’t be. They range from blood appearing, disappearing and reappearing between scenes, to clothes changing without any time for them too.

Second, the acting. Now I’m all for a bad movie with poor acting. But some of the acting in Erica is just so bad it’s not even funny. I don’t know whether it’s just how the scenes are put together with the choices but a lot of the time they only don’t match up properly. The actors may well be better in other things, but there’s just something wrong in this game.

The game can either be controlled via the touchpad on the Dualshock controller or with an app that can be downloaded to your phone. This again is a good idea in theory. I found that when using the controller the touchpad was a little too sensitive – there’s no way to adjust this – so trying to hit the mark on screen when needed, at times, is quite tricky. The controls work a little better on the app, and it gives you a greater range for swiping. The problem with using the app is that it doesn’t half drain your phone battery so unless you can play while having it plugged in, you’re a little bit limited with how long you can play for.

If you’re trying to go for the platinum trophy on this game, be prepared to play the game at least 5 times – and that’s if you follow a guide. If you’re just winging it – like I did on my first playthrough – you may have to do more than that. It’s a slog and a big one at that. Although if you’re committed, you can probably get it in a day.

All in all, Erica is a reasonably enjoyable game despite its faults. But unfortunately, once you notice things like the continuity issues does mar your playing experience. It could have been so much better, but for what it is, it’s not bad. I hope there are more games like this to come – as long as they’re produced a little better. For me, the game deserves a high rating for what it’s trying to achieve, but it does fall a bit flat, so I just can’t bring myself to give it higher than ⭐⭐⭐.

Concrete Genie – It’s Not Vandalism it’s Art! (Review)

Concrete Genie is an action-adventure game released for the PlayStation 4 in October 2019.

In Concrete Genie the player controls a young artist named Ash and makes excellent use of PS4 Dualshock’s motion controls to control his paintbrush and create landscapes in the town of Denska to remove the “darkness” and restore it to it’s previous beauty. These graffiti landscapes turn into living portraits that you and your genie can interact with. As well as free roam over what you paint, you can also paint creatures known in the game as genies and how you paint them affects their abilities, for example, a red genie will make use of fire, blue will use wind and yellow will use electricity. As well as free roam, there is a set of core puzzles in the game that you need to solve using your graffiti with assistance from your genies to progress through the game.

Over the course of the game you gain access to more areas of Denska. Throughout your progress you will need to avoid bullies who will move through the town destroying graffiti and if they catch Ash they will bully him – by throwing stones and pushing him around, so you need to avoid them the best you can.

Concrete Genie was a game that had been on my radar since it came out. I’d heard good things about it but for some reason I never picked it up. So, when it popped up as one of Februarys PSPlus games I was right in there.

Most of the game play is pretty easy, the most challenging part was avoiding the bullies and making sure they were far enough away for you to get around them.

The motion controls for painting work really well, but it does take a bit of time to get used to how it works. Once you do though, nothing can stop your graffiting.

There’s no combat to speak of for most of the game. It’s only at the end when things truly kick off and you need to use your new brush to fight enemies, I won’t go too much into it as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

It’s a relaxing game and isn’t too difficult but the story and gameplay is enough to keep you playing. But, if you need an extra incentive, there are quite a few trophies and a lot of them pop as you play with some extras for doing some other little things. But as far as the platinum trophy goes, this is on the very easy side, so there’s that.

Concrete Genie is a great little game, and it makes for a relaxing evening of bright colours and soothing music. There could be a bit more to it though, it does feel a tad short, but I’m not going to hold that against it. I’d give it a high ⭐⭐⭐⭐ , and I would say if you like the look of it you should definitely give it a go.

Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

Wreckfest – Mediocre Destruction (A Review)

Wreckfest is a destruction racing game that was released back in 2014 and onto PSNow in December 2020.

As soon as I saw this game, I was looking forward to it. When I was growing up I loved the Destruction Derby and Burnout games. Anything with the destruction of cars was a win for me. So when I saw Wreckfest I saw it as a spirtitual successor to these games.

It took me a while to get around to playing it but when I did, I was a little let down. There’s nothing particularly bad about the game; it’s okay. It’s just nothing special.

There are several different modes that you can select, these include, destruction bowls & races and general races. The one thing it does have which I thought was a fun addition was the lawn mower races/bowls. This is exactly what it sounds like – you sit on a ride-on lawnmower and smash into each other.

These modes unfortunately just don’t give it that much playability for me. I got bored very quickly and just didn’t see any reason to come back to it; whereas games like Destruction Derby and Burnout I used to play to death.

As with most games released these days, the focus in this game appeared to be the online multi-player and the single player just didn’t have enough to make a game that I would play for hours, just happily wrecking cars.

Wreckfest might be a game that I come back to at some time when I want to release a bit of tension and smash up some cars, but it’s not a game that will remain installed on my PS4 – it’s already been booted off in favour of other games – and sadly I don’t think it will live on fondly in my memory as much as Destruction Derby does.

This game had so little impact on me that I just don’t have all that much to say about it, and maybe that says a lot.

I’m afraid I’ll have to give this game ⭐️⭐️ out of 5. It just doesn’t have what I’m looking for in this type of game. Now if there was a remake of Destruction Derby I’d be well in there. I will say though that the game doesn’t have an excellent soundtrack. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough to bring it up to something enjoyable.

Video Games and Keeping Fit

It’s that time of year again where people say they’re going to the gym. This year though they won’t have to get the membership, go for two weeks, and then never go again. At least in some places, they won’t even be able to find an open gym. So how are people going to get fit this year? Well one way that you might be able to, and one that we’re trying is to have video games. This year we’re hoping that video games will help us get fitter, but in my case will also aid in my recovery from my torn labrum. In this blog I’ll be talking about the history of exercise games and what we’re using. I will stress though that this is all based on my experience and is no way close to being scientifically proven. Joyboard.JPGExercise games or – using a word I will never use again, exergames – have been around for years, in fact the peripherals for games of this type were about in the 80’s and included the Joyboard and Foot Craz for the Atari 2600 and the  Power Pad for the NES. These however had limited success and didn’t really take off. In the 90’s however there was renewed interest in VR technology and its applications in gyms. At this time Nintendo partnered with Life Fitness to produce the Exertainment. This was an exercise bike that was fitted with a CRT screen that allowed users to browseexertainment the internet while exercising. There were several other companies that produced similar products, but these were unsuccessful mainly because they were expensive and hard to maintain. Nothing really happened with this type of technology again until the latter end of the 90’s when Konami released Dance Dance Revolution. This being released in arcades gave people a work-out without them even knowing it and several other similar games started to pop up, and would later be released for home consoles. Between then and the early 00’s a few bits of technology were released Gamercizeall trying to build on what had come before, these included; a gaming bike from Exertis and Bill Gates, the Eyetoy: Kinetic for Playstation 2, and Gamercize  which combined tradition fitness equipment with console gaming. Eventually though in 2006, Nintendo released the Wii which brought along with acceleration detection by way of the Wii remote. They made further use of this by releasing the Wii Fit range which included the always fun Balance Board. Commercially this did extremely well, and led to other companies releasing their own technology to try to compete. Along with some of the less known examples, Microsoft would soon release their Kinect technology, which showed just how movement could enable players to play games.wii Because this meant that unlike the Wii that still relied on a physical controller, the players body would become the controller. Nintendo wasn’t out yet though as with their latest console: the Switch, they have released Ring Fit Adventure which once again, uses a peripheral controller to allow the player to control the character on screen with their own movement. During the 2010’s though there was also a flurry of releases for exercise games on mobile devices. This meant that the user could install them and take them anywhere they wanted. My favourite of this genre was the Zombies, Run! game. This game measured the distance you ran – which you could do whilst a mission payed in your earphones – and allowed you to construct a base to survive an apocalypse. All this powered by your movement. This all leads me to what we’re using now to help us get fit and that’s the Playstation VR and Yoga games on the PS4. vr On the VR we’ve been playing Beat Saber. For this game not only do you use the VR but you use the motion controllers to swing some sabers – of the light variety – around in order to cut blocks that fly at you. In a similar vein to the dance mats of old this is all done to music. But unlike the dancing games; I can actually do it and without falling on my arse too. It seems like such a simple premise and when you first start out you don’t feel like you’re moving all that much, but once you get in the swing of it (yes I said that) and realise that you need to move around more to get those pesky blocks you feel like you’re getting a real workout. The music included with the base game I wouldn’t say is my kind of music and not Beat_Saber_logosomething I would choose to listen to in my spare time, but within the context of this game – like the dancing ones – it works extremely well. The music gets you going and your heart racing as you slash your way through blocks, dodge walls and duck under bridges. Doing 30-60 minutes of Beat Saber per day, you feel like you’ve had a proper workout, and all without going outside or having to go to a gym; bonus! The other game that we’re using in tandem with Beat Saber is also on PS4 and is called Yoga Master. The title of this game says it all really. It’s simply yoga. You can pick a program or create your own, using a hundred or so different yoga yogamasterpositions and tailor the program to your tastes or needs. The positions are then played out on the screen for you to follow. This is all accompanied by soothing music and calming ambient sounds that relax you. As a wind down from the dramatic and quick movement of playing Beat Saber, Yoga Master is very good. I don’t think I could ever do yoga in a more social setting –  my anxiety would go nuts – so being able to do this in the comfort of my own home works for me. It’s pretty much like the videos that you used to – and assumingly still can – get, but it’s a game. Being the innately lazy people that we are, having the keeping fit aspect as a game spurs us on a little more and makes us generally more motivated as we want to complete it and get those damn trophies. In a month or so, I’ll give an update as to where we’re at and how we’re doing with this way of keeping fit; so stay tuned.

Vampyr: Not Just a Vampiric Killing Spree

*DISCLAIMER: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS AND SOLUTIONS TO PUZZLES*

In my time off over Christmas, Alex and I thought it would be a good idea to try to get the platinum trophy on Vampyr for the PS4. In the end we eventually got it for both of us, and I thought the game would be a good subject for a blog.

DONTNOD’s Vampyr isn’t just your standard vampire game where you wander around hunting vampires or normal people (if you’re a vampire.)

The game is set in London during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic – something that plays a little close to home at the moment. You play as Jonathan Reid, a doctor who is returning home from the trenches of World War I. At the start of the game you wake up in a mass grave – bet that smells lovely – and discover that you’re now a vampire – or Ekon as you learn they’re called. The game follows Dr. Reid through different parts of turn-of-the-century London, including the boroughs of; Whitechapel, Southwark and The West End, as he tries to find out what happened to him and what is really behind the vampire epidemic that’s hit London.

Through your playthrough you have two to options, to kill or not to kill. You will meet around a dozen characters in each borough which you can choose to kill – or embrace as it’s called in game. Which choice you choose affects how difficult the game is and what upgrades you can get.

As an Ekon, Dr. Reid has different abilities; from being able to hide in the shadows, to jumping to distant places easily, and making the ground beneath an enemy boil and burst with what look like pustules – nice eh?

As you continue your journey through London you will meet a number of citizens. You’re able to talk to these characters with a series of branching dialogue options, learn more about them, cure any disease they may have (more on that soon), and embrace them. Embracing them too soon will give you less XP, turn other characters against you and you may also lose certain in game items.

The branching dialogue options include hints that will give you allow you to learn more about the character and their story as it relates to the world and characters around them. Gaining more of these hints as they’re called, will raise the amount of XP you get when you embrace them.

Each character can also get sick. There are a number of ailments – including headaches, sepsis, fatigue, and pneumonia – and cures for said illnesses which you can craft using the workbenches in safe houses you will find dotted around the city. As you progress you will learn more cures but based on your actions, you may not be able to learn some of them, so be careful. The characters UI will show you which characters are sick and need your help, if you leave them too long they may even die – you know, just like real life.

There’s a fair bit going on in Vampyr, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming at any time and everything fits and doesn’t feel superfluous.

Eventually you will learn what’s going and will come face to face with some of the games enemies and bosses.

The main enemies of the game that you will meet often in the streets are the Skals – a lower form of feral vampire – and humans who are members of group called The Guard of Priwen – who are basically vampire hunters. Thrown in with these enemies are Sewer Beasts – werewolves – and Vulkod – which are huge tough enemies that look like they will crush your skull with a single look.

When you’ve got enough XP built up from killing, healing or completing quests. You can learn new skills and level up. This is done at the bed in one of the Dr. Reid’s safe houses. When you sleep, it progresses game time to the following night. Before you start your night, you can see who has gotten sick and what state the district is in – Hint, if it drops into hostile; bad things happen. You will also see the consequences of your actions with short newspaper articles that say how the characters in that district are doing.

So that’s the game in a nutshell. Now I’ll do a bit of a review.

Vampyr was a game that I was waiting for it to come out, but it was one of the ones that for some reason I didn’t go out and buy straight away. It was one I picked up for cheap in a PS Store sale.

I enjoyed it from the outset though and I quickly found that I enjoyed the mix of RPG and horror. The added historical factor and the fact that it brought in Spanish flu was also big tick. I played through my first game without killing anyone – other than the guy at the beginning which is a kind of tutorial – but by the end of it I was in the kind of mood where nomming londoners felt like the right choice, so before the end boss I went around and did a bit of chomping on necks – very satisfying, I might add. Oh yeah, to refill your blood meter, you can also nom on rats which Reid tells you on a regular basis is “disgusting” and he “can’t believe he’s doing this.”

The game isn’t without it’s problems though. Through our many playthroughs on the way to the platinum trophy we had a lot – and I mean A LOT – of games crashes. After a while we figured it was because we were skipping dialogue or cutscenes and it didn’t seem to like it. This didn’t stop our overall enjoyment of the game though as the glitches we found were few and far between.

The graphics are pretty good, if sometimes a little rough around the edges but that just goes with the overall aesthetic of the game.

The different view that Reid has where he tunes in to the darkness and can see blood lit up like a very bloody Christmas tree also works very well.

The cut scenes between chapters also add that little bit extra as they are just single images but are so well done that they work amazingly.

Vampyr is enjoyable and is quite pretty to look at. The story elements are well put together and along with the different ways you can choose to upgrade and play out the story it makes it playable, at least a few times. If you’re a trophy hunter and want to go for the platinum you’ll need a minimum of two playthroughs anyway. The voice acting is good, if a little over the top at times, but nothing too bad. Overall I’d give this game a rating of ⭐⭐⭐⭐. It has it’s problems, but it’s still a great game, and I would recommend to any RPG lovers out there.

You can find Vampyr on the Playstation and XBox stores, it’s also on PSNow but unfortunately not XBox Game Pass.

*Puzzle Solution*

At the top of this post I warned about spoilers and a solution to one of the puzzles. The puzzle in question is one you need to solve in order to get one of the games best weapons the Recollection of Paulus Aurelianus. As the solutions I found online were a little lacking in detail I thought I post one here in case anyone needs assistance with it.

First off, you’re best off collecting all the in game artifacts. These consist of various written documents that give more in depth detail about the Vampyr world. Several of these items will have a small white dot in the top left hand corner and will display one of 4 symbols – fish, circle, square, diamond – along with what looks like the face of a dice – this is the order in which you need to step on the corresponding symbol. One of the documents, available from a side-quest gives the placement of the symbol. Mine was as below, but on another playthrough the circle and square symbols were on opposite sides, so watch out for that.

Once you have all the documents and symbols, you need to go to the area of Temple Church, where a character named Usher Talltree will be found. In the room before Usher will be 4 pressure plates in the floor. The symbols in the document above correspond to those plates. You then need to step on them in the order that your documents give you. In our multiple playthroughs the order remained the same only the placement of the symbols differed slightly.

The order is as follows; Fish, Circle, Square, Circle, Fish, Diamond.

When stepping on each symbol you need to be sure that the previous plate has risen back up. If you do it to quickly the code won’t work and the hidden door won’t open. If you do it right the wall in front of the fish plate will slide open and you can pick up the weapon.

I’ve marked up a couple of screenshots below to see the way that you should face and the order of the symbols from my playthrough.

I hope this helps, and good luck out there.

My Game of the Year (Hopefully No Spoilers)

This year has been a year of staying in – whether by choice or enforced – and playing games. Though there have been many new games this year, I’ve mainly been playing older ones, catching up on some that have been on my to-play list for a long time. Having said this though there are several new games that I have played, and it’s of those that I’ll be explaining what my favourite of the year was.

I’ll start with a recent release and a very divisive game; Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed numerous times, it was initially set for release in April 2020 but was delayed until September, which okay, it was at the start of the pandemic, things were well and truly kicking off worldwide, so it can be forgiven. This again wasn’t to be, and it was delayed until November; but again, it wasn’t to be. It was delayed once more until December, despite me thinking that it would only be delayed again – because at this point I was questioning whether the game actually existed or not – it was actually released this time. This came with a huge but though…

Having been delayed numeous times, you’d expect the reasoning behind it would be that the developer was still working on it, but on release day it was reported that most of the people that were playing it were having issues with it; including me.

From scenes failing to render, to character customisations disappearing and UI issues, it seems plagued by problems. For me, the issues I’ve experienced aren’t game-breaking and so far (I haven’t got all that far in) the issues are more of a mild annoyance than anything. However, I can understand why some people wanted their money back. The game doesn’t seem to be finished, or at the very least, polished to high standard. You’d think that these kinds of issues would have been picked up during beta testing (if that even happened) and is quite the disappointment for something that was hyped so much.

Having said this though, I’m enjoying the game so far. I’m about 3-4 hours into it and despite the issues, it’s still a fun game – the design-a-genital on the character customisation not withstanding. I’m yet to get up to the Keanu Reeves character so I’m looking forward to that, but whether the bugs allow me to get that far remain to be seen.

Having not finished it, and it having so many bugs, I can’t really give this a rating yet. But so far I’d probably give it maybe a 7/10. Hopefully CDProjekt will release some updates that address some of the issues seen. If they don’t I don’t think they’ll be getting many more people buying it, especially considering that it’s been pulled from the Playstation Store.

Next up I’ll be talking about the rage-inducing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time;

One word – or sound – describes Crash 4, it is simply; “Aaaaaargh!”

Crash 4 has to be the game that produces more anger than any other – at least for me. It starts off fairly gently. With a level that is reminiscent of the three previous games. It kind of mashes them all together but also adds a little something new – namely the mask element. But soon after this slow start it starts to throw all kind of craziness at you.

First off, the levels are super long. It’s literally like they’ve taken the level length from the previous games and tripled it. This in and of itself isn’t an issue. The problems arise when they throw in some overly complicated level mechanics, and those damn masks.

Throughout the game – as with the other entries in the Crash series – you progress through different worlds, which each has a different style to it; from Island, to a Mad Max style apocalyptic, to future. At the end of each world, you fight a boss – the same bosses that you’ve defeated in the other games – and receive a new mask; switching, super spin, flip, and slow speed. The levels get harder and more complex the further you go until you get to the final level which uses all the masks, multiple times and is just batsh!t.

Crash games have always been hard, some of the levels on the remasters had me swearing and shouting at the screen. But these new levels are a whole new kind of hell. 3D platformers have never really been my thing – sidescrolling is the way to go – but I enjoyed the first Crash when it game out way back in 1996 when I was – oh God – 11. I didn’t play the other two games, other than playing a demo that game with a magazine – God I miss those days, so playing them on the remaster was fun and a new experience for me. They were hard. but having played the latest entry of the series, I would happily go back and play those – even those damn rope bridge levels. But honestly, now that I’ve finished Crash 4, I have absolutely no intention of replaying it ever and I’d be happy to never have to think about it again.

But, with all this, it does have some positives. As you progress the story, you not only play as Crash and Coco, but also as Tawna, Dingodile, and even Cortex. This is a fun addition as it allows you to have a break from the typical Crash levels and play through some using different character mechanics. As well as this, when you finished a level you get to play it again but this time in what’s called N.Verted mode. This mode mirrors the level, but also adds different things to the look of it, some look like photo negatives, others are black and white and performing actions paints them – I quite like this one – as well as other things. There’s also the addition of different play styles, you can either play the old way; which means you get lives and when you run out it’s game over, or – what we chose to play – were when you die you it shows you how many times you’ve died – in this mode we racked up and impressive 214 deaths on the final level I mentioned above. The gems that you win from each level also allow you ton unlock different skins for Crash and Coco. These don’t do anything special other than change the look but their a nice addition.

Overall, despite the rage that built up inside me during play, I would give this a 8/10. I may not want to see it ever again, and I may have experienced deeper anger than I’d ever felt, but it’s still a good game, and if you’re a fan of Crash games, you should give it a go.

Next is the first of games that I absolutely couldn’t wait for; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 Remastered.

I first played Tony Hawk when it was released on the first Playstation back in 1999. My brother and I spent hours playing it and trying to get all the challenges on all the levels completed. I had no skill back then and I spent most of the time just mashing buttons and hoping that I would land a trick; nothing has changed.

As soon as I saw that this game was being released, I couldn’t wait for. I’d only recently been talking about trying to find a copy of the original game when it popped up that it was being remastered.

First off, let me just say, this game is beautiful. The difference between the originals and this is incredible; it might as well be a totally new game in it’s own right.

The levels are the same, most of the characters are there – plus a few new ones and the ability to create you own is great – even if mine looks like something out of Sunset Overdrive. The challenges are also the same, you have to get high scores, collect different items including the S-K-A-T-E letters. The soundtrack, though slightly different from the originals, still blows most game soundtracks out of the water.

This game is pure nostalgia, it’s the same as the originals but prettier; and I have no problem with that at all. I’m still all about the button bashing – although now I do try to do actual moves. Some of the levels and challenges still make me shout at the screen, but it’s still less rage-inducing tha Crash 4. I love this game and it’s one that I will come back to time, and time again. I can dip in an out without ever losing my lack skill, and pick up where I left off. There’s nothing more to say other than it’s awesome and gets an amazing 9/10 from me.

Last but not least is my favourite game of the year and it’s yet another divisive one; The Last of Us: Part II.

Back in 2013, The Last of Us was the reason why I bought a PS3. As soon as I played it, I loved it, it was a game that was so right up my alley that it would have been a shock if I didn’t. The number emotions you go through as your follow Ellie and Joel across the country fighting infected, is second to none. You truly root for the characters and just want them to get to where they’re going in one piece. As soon as I finished it, I wanted a sequel. In the time it took for one to arrive, I must have finished part I at least 6 or 7 times; playing through on multiple difficulties and collecting all the extras.

The Last of Us: Part II being announced was amazing and I then truly got excited for a sequel to see where these characters were now. This game – much like Cyberpunk – was delayed multiple times, each time was like a punch in the gut and I again started to think it would never see the light of day. When it came to this year, a year plagued by, well, plague, it seemed only right that it would be released, but it was for that very reason it was delayed – at least the last couple of delays, that is.

When it finally game out, we got our copy and got straight into it. Luckily despite there being leaks of the story and many spoilers out there, I managed to avoid knowing anything about the game and it’s story. I think this was the right way to go because then, as the story unfolds, you’re truly going in without any idea of what’s going to happen.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’ll just say that the story is amazing and goes in a direction that I didn’t expect. My first reaction was to ask why, but as I played I understood why the choices had been made. Like the first game, this sequel plays with your emotions. From the true beginning of the story and the flashbacks your heartstrings are pulled in every direction. There are some characters that you hate at first, then kind of like, then hate again. Then you’re scared of characters you never thought you would be. It’s all done so well that – for me – it was worth the wait.

It took me around 3 or 4 days to finish the story and over those days I didn’t want to do anything else but find out what was going to happen next – it drew me in that much. Some elements that were in the first game, like the types of infected are back – somehow made even more unsettling; yeah clickers, I’m talking about you – , but there are also some new additions – freaking Rat King!

Now, I know that when it came out, a lot people cried out and said that it had gone in the wrong direction, or it was shame what happened to the characters or even the sexuality of characters, and some even went so far as to send death threats to members of Naughty Dog – which is just incredible and dare I say f!cking stupid. No game is worth that reaction, and the folks who worked on this game really don’t deserve it. Just because you don’t like a game is no excuse to be a d!ck over the internet.

The game is amazing. From the acting, to the graphics, to the writing, there isn’t an element that was well done. This is all leading me to say that this gets a huge 10/10 from me and is my game of the year.

What did you play this year? Are your thoughts on the games above different? What’s your game of the year? Let me know in the comments.