Watch the latest Podcast here!
You’ve most likely heard of Hatred if you have anything to do with the gaming circles. News of the so-called hyper violent top-down shooter couldn’t have arrived at a worse time. This is because Hatred places you as a mass-murderer. Given a multitude of weapons, your only aim is to kill and massacre everything in some sort of holy crusade. When news broke about this, there were several mass school shootings and murders , so this glorification of violence to this degree has struck quite a few nerves. Understandably, the game thrived because of the controversy, as did GTA in it’s fledgling years, but Hatred took it a step further. By claiming that they have creative freedom, they appealed to a lot of the hardcore free-speech members of the internet gaming community but was it really necessary? My opinion, not really. Its a bit insulting to say such a thing when you know your games only aim is to kill innocent people without an ounce of sympathy with an extremist. Without any justifiable story behind the character or why you pursue the actions, the game is simply senseless. It doesn’t help that the achievements are rewarded for killing people, more specifically cops with certain achievements rewarding you for over 1000 kills.
The so called story is that our nameless lead hates the world. Everyone else is evil and inherently bad and the world must be cleansed. With little quips and quotes eerily reminiscent of an extremist, its a god given crusade. I hate it. Over top-down shooters have a form of narrative no matter how simple. This is really just killing people for the shit of it. Is it ground breaking for gaming? No. Its not innovative and its not creative. Levels are lacklustre, the art style is fitting but requires polish and the system is slugish. With a recommended settings such as 8GB of RAM and a multitude of others, the game is slow. It assaults the system with specs that are exuberant of what it should really be. Its poor optimization means that the framerate plummets and the game lags behind. My gaming laptop is nothing short of expensive and powerful for what it is but to have an issue running a top-down shooter is absurd.
As I mentioned above, the level design isn’t great. Repetitive corridors, streets and homes with a few explosive barrels indicate what to shoot and general movement through them is hampered when you keep getting stuck on trees or in doorways. Everything looks very copy and paste and the art works makes the game a nightmare to play.The black and white often blends the aiming cursor meaning its almost impossible to see at the best of times. Not including the fact that its general movement speed is awful. Our lead is a combination between She-Hulk and Medusa with long black hair that flails around frantically at walking pace and gets even worse when running faster than Usain Bolt and a voice that grates more than Steve Buscemi’s teeth. Other than that. The guns and general action were quite good but the AI is atrocious. Planned to make it easier to kill? I don’t know but when you have simple civilians wandering around without a care while you murder the rest of the population, you would think running away would be the basic reaction. Nope, they run at you and nudge you along gently in their efforts. Then finally the set pieces. I never realised how poorly constructed American homes were. Everything falls apart on a blocky fashion, as if the walls are only made of plywood from a single round of buckshot.
As a shooter, Hatred could have been a great game. With a few tweaks and a major overhaul of its premise, it may have been far more enjoyable. I agree with the argument for freedom of creation but just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. The creators should really take a step back and look at what they’ve done. They have caused a big stir and put themselves on the map for the time being but as an independent group, funding will run dry and its employees may struggle to get work when they’re associated with this project that they all seem to be so proud of.
Overall the game is a bit of a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting the release trailer to show the complete introduction to the game and I was really hoping for something that had an interesting story to coincide with its dark premise and at least give some sort of reasoning or next level philosophy. Instead I was caught up in they hype for a generic shoot-em up that used shock to sell a game that is glitchy, poorly optimized, slow and unnecessary.Because its on release and there has been about 3 updates since I came off yesterday, I can’t attack its optimization solely so the game gets 5/10. Its no Hotline Miami and its certainly not worthy of its fame, much like Kim…
Armello Early Access review
This card placing, dice throwing, role-playing board adventure game has been in early access on steam for a while. With its colourful cartoon art style and its so called strategic game-play, it was immediately peaking my interest.
Now, playing board games isn’t something I generally do, unless in the middle of a blackout with the family after the battery on my tablet has died. Let alone playing digital board games on the computer which is also damn useless in a blackout. In fact the last digital game that involved a dice was Mario party 5 back in 2005 on the Gamecube, due to the fact that I generally get very little entertainment from games which are determined from the outcome of a dice roll, and itself involve very little knowledge or skill to win, I was generally surprised on how much time I actually spent with this game.
The context of the game is that the world of Armello is under threat. The Rot is creeping in, corrupting the land, spawning monstrous creatures that terrorise villages while it plagues the King slowly turning him mad. You play as one of the four Anthropomorphic animal heroes on a journey across Armello to take the throne for yourself and your clan and save the kingdom.
Reading it back to myself it does sound like a fairy tale adventure, straight out of a children’s book with its bright and colourful animations. Each card in the game looks amazing, each has a unique animated picture that really bring the game to life, to the extent that I wanted to see every card. Luckily there is a gallery mode to admire every card you play.
Players must travel across a hexagonal tiled game board to reach randomly placed quest tiles, which upon arrival are given 3 choices to a problem for example a abandoned kart in the road do you do option A,B or C. This is the so called “role-playing” portion of the game however, there seems to be no consequence to the choices you make making it fairly irrelevant to the gameplay thus shaping weak role-play. No matter which choice you make, upon completion you gain prestige, a currency to win the game, which is a bit too easy to acquire.
The most satisfying about Armello is the combat which is very much decided by chance with the roll of your dice. It is possible to win the game without fighting a single opponent or other player, you can easily hinder other players adventure using traps and magic which cost gold or magic.
Armello is the first initial project of “League Of Geeks”. The Australian indie game company originally announced Armello to be released as an Ipad exclusive which has still yet to be released, however they later made it available for Windows, Mac and Linux through the Steam client. You can still feel the initial tablet interface through the game play and I would Say the game would be more enjoyable with a touch pad interface.
League Of Geeks did start a Kickstarter campaign to raise a massive $200,000 to increase development to full time and for the extra support to the multiple platforms, which is pretty daring feat to ask for. By being a funder of the game, League of Geeks offered bonus content on release of the game with 4 extra characters known as the “Bandit clan” and access to another 4 which would come available as DLC to non backers, and it worked. To this date they have raised over $300,000 with 6239 backers and more money coming in with the early access on steam.
The game looks promising, with its beautiful animations standing out, however it does come with, in my opinion a few problems. On single player watching the A.I take its turn was painful with only their character model moving a few spaces on the board which gets dull very quickly. The idea of setting traps, which in the game is known as perils is fairly worthless as players can just step out of the way. With each character having its strengths and weakness it both limits the player on what victory they can achieve making the multiple victory options pointless. The A.I. constantly starts fights with NPCs which it gains no merit from defeating, in this case the kings guard. Rot victory impossible! Gaining that much rot before the king dies isn’t possible. You have to be defeated by rot creatures to gain rot points which also immediately ends your turn. You have to lose to a rot creature every turn to have a value higher then the kings which is madness! I understand that the game is still in development with the early access but the rules of the game need a lot of revision. Despite all its initial flaws I actually enjoyed the game. I played it multiple times with different characters to hopefully achieve each victory option (still cant do rot victory). Hopefully upon the full release of the game they will iron out all of these problems.
Overall if you like fantasy, turn based games with beautiful art then this game is for you. With updates around every other week the game is steadily evolving. I look forward to playing the finished product, thus Armello gets my full recommendation.