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.

January PSNow – Frostpunk (Review)

January’s PSNow titles were Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite, Frostpunk, Surviving Mars and The Crew 2.

As I’ve played the three Bioshock games a number times – there’s never too many – I decided to give something I’d never played a go; I chose Frostpunk.

Frostpunk is city-building survival game that was released in April 2018 for PC and later in October 2019 for consoles.

My first impressions of Frostpunk was that it looked like a slightly different take on the old Command & Conquer games; which I was all for. But playing it I realise it’s only like them on the surface; below it is a true game of survival.

Let me just say now that I usually hate tutorials in games. There’s only so many times you can be told how to crouch or push an object before it’s etch into your brain. But with Frostpunk we could have done with at least a tutorial for the first bit. That’s not to say it doesn’t have anything, it does have tutorial cards that pop up every so often, but for the most part it leaves you alone and for us it wasn’t quite enough and it took us a while to adjust to everything that we were required to do.

Once we got over that hurdle and after several grumbling restarts we started to get into the game for what it is and I have to say that we enjoyed it.

This game isn’t one that you play for fun. It’s hard and at times depressing, but once you get the hang of it it’s quite rewarding.

The basic idea of Frostpunk is that an ice-age has hit the earth in an alternate steampunk Victorian age universe and you are in charge of a settlement full of people that have escaped London in an attempt to survive. One thing that is confusing is that these people from London decide that in order to survive an ice-age they should go further north and establish a new settlement there. There isn’t really any explanation to this and it did leave me a little lost as to what we were meant to be doing.

The game is split into several different scenarios, which all come with their own tasks and difficulties that you need to overcome in order to win. There is also an endless mode where you build your settlement on one of the maps and see how long you can last multiple storms and other perils. But, at certain stage of the endless mode, you can’t really do anything new and all you’re doing is gathering resources to survive another day, by this point it got a little monotonous. The scenarios though are different, as they offer a bigger challenge with their set tasks. It’s all about planning and working out what to do an when and if you have enough resources to survive. These had more playability than the endless.

Gathering the resources – coal, iron, wood, steam cores (which for some reason look like they are a part of a Dyson hoover) – can be tough at times; your settlers can get injured during their work or even die. How you choose to deal with these events (and more) either improves the settlements’ hope of survival or increases their discontent. All this while trying keep everyone warm through a storm that goes down to -120°C.

To help you, you can research new and improved building such as Steam Coal Mines or a Factory – where you can build spidery automatons that can be used instead of human workers. You’re also able to set laws around what happens to people if they steal, whether you want children to work for you, and even if you want to build your settlement around religion or stern authoritarianism.

There is a lot going on in this game and at times it can be overwhelming if you’re focusing on one thing and not reacting to other events. But it’s a challenge that we rose to and managed to complete a few of the scenarios along with a fairly lengthy stint in endless mode.

I would recommend this game to anyone that enjoys sim and management games, like Sim City, Constructor or Tropico. I struggle with this type of games these days – I find I just don’t have the patience for them, but this kept my attention for long enough this month that I’m going to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

I don’t know what the new games on PS Now in February will be, but hopefully there will be one like Frostpunk that we can get our teeth into.

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.

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.

December PSNow – Stranded Deep (A Review)

A few months ago we decided that to stop us spending a fortune on new games, and to play things that we wouldn’t necessarily have bought, we’d get PSNow.

As we play through the games when they’re added, I’m going to give them a bit of a review and let you know what we thought of them.

The December PSNow additions are; Horizon: Zero Dawn (Complete Edition), Stranded Deep, Wreckfest, The Surge 2, Darksiders III and Broforce.

First, we decided to play Stranded Deep. We would have played Horizon: Zero Dawn, but that’s a bit of a sore subject. Before I get into Stranded Deep, I’ll explain the Horizon issue.

I bought Horizon: Zero Dawn when it came out. We’ve been playing it again recently to platinum it – after we’d done that we decide to get the DLC. I checked it wasn’t on sale (it wasn’t) and we went ahead and bought it. It’s a good DLC, that’s not the issue. The issue is that 2 days after we bought the Frozen Wilds DLC, the new PSNow games were announced and it included *drum roll* the complete edition of Horizon: Zero Dawn with the Frozen Wilds DLC *cue overdramatic scream into the air* I’m past it now, I’m over it. No, really, I am *sob*. So let’s get back to Stranded Deep.

Stranded Deep is a suntan simulator, I mean it’s a first-person survival sim. It starts with your character sat in a (private) jet which then goes down in the middle of the ocean, after a dramatic scene where a large hole is ripped in the side of the plane – maybe by gremlins, we don’t know – and crashes conveniently between a group of islands.

You start with a life raft and a few rations (which are hidden in the raft. – we didn’t find these for quite some time.) So when you drift up to your new island home, you have to find ways to survive. You can craft different items – which this, what looks like CEO of a company, miraculously knows how to make – in order to survive. Oh yeah, you also have a watch that tells you how healthy you are and what skills you have – are you listening Apple?

You kill crabs for your first island meal, and despite having all this in-depth survival knowledge, when getting meat from a crab you still say “Ew, gross!”. You soon discover you can drink water from coconuts to stave off thirst, but you can also eat coconuts, but if you eat or drink too many, bad things happen. Once you’ve got your makeshift shelter built – just a few sticks and leaves required for this – complete with fire pit, you go about your business and strip the island that you started on of all it’s natural resources all this while knowing that nothing will grow back – at least not in our lifetime. Once you’ve done this you then have to venture out into the ocean to discover new items.

Now, I must say that I tapped out before we got to this bit. I’m all for games that make you slog, but this is beyond me. So from this point, picture me, whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other, giving helpful suggestions (Actually I was generally slouched in my pyjamas with an Irn-Bru and Kit Kat in hand, shouting the world “rock!” whenever one appeared on screen, but that’s by-the-by) watching a professional (Alex) master the art of survival.

As you cross the ocean, you soon realise that there are things beneath the waves that want to kill you – at this point we switched the animal AI to passive so they wouldn’t kill us – just like in real life. On the other islands, you can find all sorts of bits and pieces from scrap wood and corrugated metal, to engine parts? and a whole host of creatures to murder for your survival – unless they kill you first, that is – especially the damn spiky purple starfish of death. Just be careful when leaving your island because it’s very easy to get lost and end up rowing in circles for a few days before eventually giving up and reloading the save you took 3 days ago because you forgot to save it before leaving the island like a numpty.

As you continue, you’ll find shipwrecks which you can scavenge for more stuff for your collection. We also found a knackered plane that you can fix – isn’t that really helpful and totally non-coincidental?

Alex has restarted I don’t know how many times after dying from drowning, dehydration, a broken leg, poison, but luckily not dysentery. But she’s on a roll and making some progress now; she’s even managed to build a Sims-like hovel in the centre of one of the islands.

We’ll continue to play – probably until Alex gets the platinum – so it will have a lot of hours put into it. So if nothing else it’s suitable for playing to pass the time.

As I said, I’m not overly enamoured with it because I don’t have the attention span for these kinds of games that I used to, but Alex is enjoying it as she loves a good slog, although she’s not really playing it to win and get off the island rather more like a Sims-like game.

One thing I will say is that I can’t help but admire the detail that’s gone into some of the effects and creatures. I mean the turtle alone deserves an honourable mention.

Personally, I’d give it a 3 out of 5, it has some good points, it’s stunning to look at, and the idea is executed really well, it’s just not for me. I’ve never Googled things for a game as often as I have for this. It doesn’t give you much prompting on what to do after the very basic tutorial when first reaching the island. The music is good, although it does go from sounding like The Last of Us to Vampyr to A Series of Unfortunate Events (the Jim Carrey version.) But, if you like a good slog, then this is probably a game for you, but there are also probably better games out there that do the same thing.

I’m not sure what the next game is that I’ll play. Though, hopefully, I’ll actually be able to play this one.

As an addition to all this, I’m also going to be trying to get back into streaming on Twitch. My profile is linked on the home page of this blog, so feel free to follow. I’m aiming to stream on a Saturday morning (GMT) so hopefully you can join me.