Rising in the Shadow of Goliaths - Divinity II: Ergo Draconis

Live-Action Strategy Supreme

The first thing I noticed about this game (after the fact that you can be female) is that every class must be played with quick fingers and even faster eyes. I picked the ranged class from start of the game and continued with it for the rest of the game, happily ducking and dodging even on the easiest difficulty.

The game features a skill tree of sorts (with no pre-requisites for certain abilities aside from level requirements) and that factors into the strategy of the game. If you are looking for an RPG that challenges you beyond the basic tactical aspects of attack here and defend there, this is a great game to check out.

As you level up your stats, your character moves and interacts with the world differently. Because I put most of my points in dexterity, I am now able to do milk acrobatics and jump higher and with much more grace than at the beginning of the game. I can't think of a single other RPG that has actually changed the way that you interact with the world outside of battle and dialogue when particular stats are high enough. Needless to say, my mind was absolutely blown.

The Game that Keeps on Giving

Amidst funny dialogue and thorough world-history are little bits and bobs of delightful details that make the game so exciting and interesting to play. There are minor characters everywhere with stories that extend beyond their own geographic interest. This colorful addition to the game is something that we currently expect from the most basic RPGs and I think the game designers and writers knew where the industry was headed back in 2009.

That’s right. This game came out 17 days after Dragon Age Origins and in many ways exceeded the ambitions of that project. There are choices and consequences that affect the way that the world turns out, there is a rousing plot device, there is a customizable main character…the only thing it seems to lack is a posse of characters with which the player may form relationships.

Generally speaking, character development in this game is actually fairly stiff but there were plenty of creative undertakings throughout the rest of the game that make up for it. There is a castle and lordship that the main character can assume, as well as individuals to help further the end goals of the main character. There are many side quests, customizable quest rewards, the ability to jump, climb and hunt big game.

If you enjoy any big, open world RPG with cinematics, customization and larger than life consequences, Divinity II might just be your cup of tea. Don’t write it off for its age. It was certainly ahead of its time and earnestly feels like a cast-off point for games of its ilk.

A Little More Fluff and a Little Less Gush, Before I Go

The story centers around the main character, a fledgling dragon slayer, following the words and finger pointing of his or her elder dragon slayers. There are moments where the character can think for herself and these lead to meeting a rather foul fellow by the name of Damian. He is the main foe in the game and presents a very real motivation to become more powerful and experienced.

Truly, try this game out. It surprised me within the first ten minutes; the hair choices are top notch, there is treasure absolutely everywhere, and it has fabulous voice acting. Ignoring everything else that I’ve mentioned so far, just those three things are more than worth the ten minutes it takes to get into this game.

- Katie Hanson

It’s Okay Now, I Think : The Sims 4

DLC Is Still All the Rage, Unfortunately

The game is fraught with DLC, unsurprisingly. Pools were added in an update not too long ago but the real entertainment comes with some of the new things to do with your Sim’s day. There is still no open world and the game is still very limited options in the creative department, but The Sims 4 fills out in proportion to how much more money you sink into it. This is starting to become something like a pay to play game, now that I think about it.

The biggest change to the game comes from the expansion back “Get to Work”. The expansion comes with 3 new careers, the ability to run your own shop (so however many careers that technically gives us) and more than a few new skills, including rocket science and baking. There are new items that come along with this expansion, but most of the new objects come from the Luxury Party Stuff stuff pack and the Outdoor Retreat game pack (and Perfect Patio Stuff stuff pack as this goes live). There are plenty of new clothing options and even the ability to go on a vacation instead of just take days off and walk to the museum.

While the packs are overpriced for the amount of content that they add to the game, the additions are very welcomed considering the minimal amount of content that the base game provided the community with.

 

What Might Make the Game Better (Or What They Should Focus on for The Sims 5)

Open world environments are something that current gamers cannot easily go back on. While the game has some of the feel of an open world environment, it is so limiting for the fact that The Sims 4 fails to stretch over the entirety of the city. There are only a few lots per town and the choices are not great. If the ability to add to the neighborhood were introduced, I think that would be a huge step up. (This has been fixed, in a way. There has been an additional town set up that is full of nothing but empty slots for houses. This has been added to all Sims accounts, free of charge. Go EA!)

Other items for consideration (and please feel free to correct me on these…I want them to be real so badly):

  • Bigger lots
  • Ability to upload different polygon shapes into the game, and not just pre-loaded recolors
  • Color wheels from Sims 3, as well as texture uploads
  • Half level floors
  • Rerelease all old packs re-imagined for Sims 4, only to come out swinging with new ones
  • The ability to create new emotions (possibly just confusion) when you have particular combinations of pre-existing emotions
  • Better places to vacation, like, let's say an amusement park. Get with Rollercoaster Tycoon or even the guys who made Sim Coaster and make it an even more enjoyable experience.
  • More places to woohoo (probably the most fun I have in these games is getting surprised at where the game allows you to woohoo...sad but true)

Basically what would make the game much better is if it had all of the weird chaos of the old games and the new DLC were just additions to that established culture. Towns should change, but improvements ought to remain as part of the core game, perhaps with switches in the options for which parts people want to deal with and which parts they do not.

Still Recommending to Those Who Are Weary

I think the Sims 4 can become something even better than the Sims 3, given time and attention. I do wholeheartedly believe that people who love the series should at least give it a try. It may surprise you how much you actually enjoy playing the game, despite all of the bad press that the Sims 4 has received. 

- Katie Hanson

 

Western Developed, Eastern Inspired: Child of Light

I Had Expected Different

Growing up, I played almost strictly JRPGs. When news came out about this game and how the developers had considered it an ode to that nostalgic enterprise, I immediately boycotted the game. The look was dissimilar, it was western (forbid), and the movement was side scroller. Eventually I watched my boyfriend play the game and his little foray into it enlightened me quite a bit. The game was not entirely what the developers described but it looked fun and at least worth a try.

So I tried it.

And I was highly impressed. The story was lacking but the art was beautiful and the aspirations for the game were clearly high. The score is orchestrated and the dialogue is all in rhyme. All of the game’s poetry is not as great as it could be, but it is easy for a child to understand and I think that may have been the intention on the writer’s part.

What to Expect

If you were like me and had few desires to try the game out, I would suggest taking a look through the screen capture gallery below. There are plenty of reasons to give it a go and I think just looking at what kind of stuff can come out of the story may surprise even the most wary of players.

The battle system is probably the only thing that can be credited to the old school RPGs that the developers were referencing when the game was released. Turn order and status buffs play integral roles in this game. You are only allowed two party members out at a time but there are many to choose from with many different abilities to turn the tide of battle.

There is treasure abound: from permanent stat increases to elixirs that help in battle. Movement out of battle is easy to get the hang of and many of the puzzles in the game are based on quick reflexes. The main character, Aurora, can fly and her little friend can be moved around with the other aspect of control (the mouse, in my case). This tear-dropped companion is actually a huge help both in and out of battle. It is the only means of phasing through enemies, opening node-boxes and collecting dust and treasure in blocked off areas. In battle, it is the means to collect hp and mp orbs and helps with slowing opponents and healing characters.

Clichés for Success

Nearly everything about this game is cliché. Thankfully that does not take away from how fun it is. The story is of a princess battling her way to her throne (this time with a sword instead of through wits) and her companions are all different and serve particularly different purposes, conveniently. There is one twist in the game and it serves as character development for the main character. Don’t expect a broad and compelling story or characters that are beyond the scope of Jungian archetypes and this might become one of your favourite games.

- Katie Hanson