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Eliwood8

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Eliwood8 last won the day on December 4

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    Grandmaster Tactician

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  1. - New Tales from the Borderlands (Switch) Shame this wasn't better, considering the first Tales from the Borderlands is one of the best of those episodic games that Telltale was pumping out. - Mario & Rabbids: Sparks of Hope (Switch) Overall it does feel too easy, but I still enjoyed having more Mario + Rabbids strategy gameplay. - Sonic Frontiers (Switch) More than anything the game feels bloated with bland ideas. Clearly the developers were just trying to fill up space rather than highly polishing the open-world experience. - The Quarry (PS5) A decently fun game to play with other people since it's practically like watching a movie. I think I liked Until Dawn more—partly because the gameplay felt more novel, but I also think UD had a more interesting story. - Sword of the Vagrant (Switch) Stylish little action-RPG. Maybe not amazing but lots of potential that could be brought to bear in a sequel.
  2. Good games guys, nice work teammate Krazy. Nice to have Final Smashes on every once in a while, though clearly I'd forgotten how some of them work.
  3. Yep I'll be there tomorrow. So if we're doing different teams it should be me & Krazy vs. DL & PB, right?
  4. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, developer Vanillaware (Dragon's Crown, Odin Sphere, etc.) should be well pleased with Sword of the Vagrant, from developer O.T.K Games and publisher Rainy Frog. But while this game has plenty of undeniable similarities—2D action-RPG gameplay, rich, colorful visual design—it also stands on its own as a combat rich, engaging adventure, notwithstanding a few stumbles along the way. You play as Vivian the Vagrant, a sellsword who, in the opening moments of the game, is shipwrecked and washes up on shore. After a bit of work with a local villager, Vivian becomes entangled in a mage's quest and is forced to assist. At first it seems as though our protagonist is the wandering hero type, stumbling into other characters' stories, but soon enough Vivian's backstory and family history weaves its way into the narrative as well, resulting in a surprisingly lore-rich plot. It's perhaps a little too ambitious as some plot threads end up being a little hard to follow as information is dumped on you in cutscenes, but the developers have definitely created an interesting setting that could easily sustain future games. Sword of the Vagrant is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash action-RPG, which is a long way of saying you walk left and right attacking any beasts or monsters in your path. This kind of gameplay can be deceptively tricky to nail down perfectly—combat needs to flow and feel satisfying while also being challenging and varied. Sword of the Vagrant does a great job with the first half of the formula. Basic light and heavy sword combos feel good to use, the game isn't too persnickety about hit boxes or timing, and even if enemies occasionally feel like HP sponges it's still satisfying to mow them down. The level of challenge can be a bit hit and miss, though. Most enemies pose so little threat to Vivian that it's almost inconsequential when you do get hit. On the flip side, some enemies will combo you into oblivion in seconds, and the environmental traps you'll encounter, though usually destroyable, can be awfully annoying and feel a bit cheap. Getting hit by an enemy and knocked back into a jet of flame which then hits you twice as you're trying to stand up isn't so much a challenge of skill as it is a tedious drain of your potion supply. All that said, the game is also quite generous with recovery items, both the potions you can store and the food items that will heal you instantly, so you at least won't be dying constantly. The game could definitely use a more balanced sense of difficulty though to even out the easy battles and the frustrating traps. In terms of combat variety, Sword of the Vagrant is also a mixed experience. Hacking and slashing may be fun but it's not always enough to sustain 8–9 hours of gameplay. There is a small variety to enemies—flying enemies, enemies with shields that can be broken with heavy attacks—but for the most part the combat does feel rather repetitive. You can find tablets that teach Vivian skills that consume her Rage meter (the equivalent of spells consuming mana) but whether due to the Rage cost or the limited mobility, I found myself gravitating toward just the basic sword attacks. The skills needed a little something else to make them more worthwhile in basic, non-boss fights. Not surprisingly, you'll also be doing a bit of 2D platforming as you explore. The maps themselves aren't bad—they're twisty enough to encourage exploration but also simple enough that you won't get lost every time you try to find a save point or backtrack to a treasure chest once you've found its key. The platforming controls, though, leave something to be desired. Combat may feel smooth, but hopping from ledge to ledge is clunky in Sword of the Vagrant, and those little annoyances like getting knocked back by enemies are only exacerbated when you're knocked off a ledge and have to climb all the way back up. As mentioned, Sword of the Vagrant clocks in around 8–9 hours, which feels about right to keep the gameplay engaging and fresh throughout. There are a handful of optional features, though they don't feel particularly well fleshed out. You can collect ingredients and learn recipes to cook at campfires to recover health and gain small buffs, but there's not a strong incentive to gather lots of different recipes. You can enchant weapons with runes for added effects, but the effects are rather basic and mostly amount to small stat boosts. Swapping runes is also a bit clunky since you have to replace runes with another one in order to remove it from an old weapon, or dispose of the old weapon entirely. Speaking of which, it makes sense that all of Vivian's weapons are swords, but there's not a great variety to them, nor a reason to experiment with them too much. There is a new game plus mode as well as some late-game optional quests, but the game might've benefited from more developed side quest elements throughout the entire length of the game. The art style is easily the stand out feature of Sword of the Vagrant, with its richly-colored dark fantasy world that feels beautiful but foreboding. The environments may be mostly standard fantasy tropes—forests, ruins, icy caverns—but the art design elevates every scene. And although this may be a positive or negative in your book, the character designs are quite fan-servicey (perhaps another nod to Vanillaware's style). The music is also a bit of a standard fantasy kind of soundtrack, but it does it well and gives a nice brooding background vibe to the game. Sword of the Vagrant has a solid concept, engaging gameplay and stylish visuals, but the little flaws do have a way of standing out, such as the clunky platforming. Most of all, the game needs to flesh out its ideas a little further to make them truly unique. Still, the core action-RPG gameplay is satisfying from the first rat to the last demon you kill, whether you're aiming to master the flow of combat or simply want to see more of the hand-painted world. Rating: 7 out of 10 Swords Review copy provided by publisher Sword of the Vagrant is available tomorrow, December 1st on the Switch eShop for $9.99.
  5. Let's be real: Sonic has had a rough go of it in the 3D world. That's not to say there aren't good 3D Sonic games, but there are just as many bad ones, if not more. Sonic Frontiers at least addresses one of the main challenges of 3D Sonic games: by adapting an open-world environment, there's tons of room for Sonic to run around, showcasing his trademark speed. The problem is basically everything else about the game. As the game begins, Sonic and friends are sucked through Cyber Space and wind up on a mysterious island. Now scattered, Sonic must explore the island and reach new islands to rescue his friends. And naturally, Dr. Eggman is up to no good during all of this. Sonic games have had some odd storylines, but Frontiers is a particularly bizarre one. I'm not saying Sonic has to be a simple, kid-friendly story just because it stars anthropomorphic animals, but Frontiers tells such a strangely out of place story for Sonic that I can barely wrap my head around it. There are ruins of a fallen civilization on the islands, a child-like AI antagonizing Sonic, flashbacks/ghosts of the island's natives—it feels needlessly complicated and surprisingly melancholy. More egregiously, it's just kind of boring. Cutscenes plod along and optional dialogue scenes are pretty uninteresting, which is even more disappointing since you have to do a good bit of work to unlock them in the first place. The gameplay is a pretty mixed bag as well, mostly because it feels like the developers threw every idea they had into the bag and shook it up. I'll start off by saying that open-world exploration as Sonic is pretty great. Running around at high speeds and discovering little objects to interact with is a lot of fun, and Frontiers packs in a lot of these little moments. Big, open environments are where Sonic shines, especially when your breakneck speeds are punctuated by a grind rail or series of spring buttons every now and then. However, it's in the finer details where Frontiers starts to crack. Sonic has always had a slightly floaty sense of control, it's arguably the whole point of the Blue Blur to have difficult precision controls in exchange for high speed. And yet, time and again the developers push through precision platforming moments that feel clunky, especially in 3D space where depth perception is hard to judge. And while exploring the island is in itself pretty fun, the absurd amount of collectibles that are actually required to progress is simply tedious. You have to collect gears to unlock levels. You complete levels to gather keys. You gather keys to unlock Chaos Emeralds. You also gather memory tokens to unlock both mandatory and optional cutscenes/dialogue. On top of all these required elements, you can gather attack and defense upgrades and rescue island inhabitants to upgrade Sonic's speed and maximum ring count (and you have to take these to specific NPCs to upgrade your stats, they don't increase automatically). Obviously having things to collect makes open-world exploration more rewarding, but Frontiers takes it to an absurd degree to make the gameplay feel like busy work. Frontiers is also bloated with design ideas. To unlock parts of your map, you have to complete little tasks, which usually amount to basic minigames or even tutorial-style challenges, such as Parry 3 Attacks or Deal X Amount of Damage in Y Amount of Time. These map tasks lose their charm almost immediately, but the game is absolutely filled with them and navigating can be a real pain without revealing a lot of your map. These tasks only serve to pad out the length of the game. There are also occasional mandatory minigames which, again, could work as a way of breaking up the gameplay a bit, but they tend to either be boringly simplistic—corral a bunch of characters into the goal—or insanely tedious, such as the mandatory pinball game that requires you to earn a ridiculously high score while coping with the semi-randomness of pinball. It's like the developers were afraid to throw away any ideas, so all of them ended up in the game, but none of them were properly polished. The combat system never quite finds its footing either. You can unlock a handful of special attacks, but there's arguably not much point in using them when simply mashing the attack button works 99% of the time. The boss fights are pretty flashy at least, particularly the optional mini-bosses scattered around each island. Each mini-boss has slightly different mechanics and actually makes you work for the win. In the end they aren't particularly rewarding, since you just earn a gear or other collectible that's just as easily found elsewhere, but at least the mini-boss concept actually feels thought out. The best part of the game is the Cyber Space levels (which you unlock with gears). These take you to traditional 3D Sonic stages, i.e. a linear stage where you try to reach the goal as quickly as possible. These might be the most polished part of the game simply because these levels are either inspired by or taken directly from past Sonic games. Regardless, they are definitely a high point in Frontiers. The game's presentation leaves a lot to be desired as well. The environments are purposefully bleak, with scattered ruins and even a frequent rainy, overcast weather system, but the scenery is also plain boring. I'll grant that there's a tricky balance to strike here. You want big, open areas for Sonic to run around in, so there can't be tons of obstacles in the way. But when all there is are rocks and barren fields, the scenery ends up bland. The game also suffers from a huge amount of pop-in, which is somewhat understandable for the big, open environments but it also kind of spoils the whole point of such a design when you can't even see some distant objects until you get closer. And as with many multiplatform games, the visuals seem a bit muddy and flat. Sure it's not going to look as good on the Switch as other platforms, but it still could be better polished. Sonic Frontiers is a bold step for Sonic the Hedgehog, but ultimately it stumbles in the attempt. Huge environments make sense for showcasing the Blue Blur's speed, but the endless collect-a-thon game design makes exploration feel more like a chore than an exciting adventure. Although the game is packed with things to do, few of them feel actually rewarding or tuned to Sonic's abilities. There are good ideas here, but you'll have to wade through a lot of mediocre ideas to find them. Rating: 6 out of 10 Chaos Emeralds
  6. Remember when a Mario + Rabbids game seemed like a rumor too ridiculous to be true? The joke was on us though, when Kingdom Battle came out in 2017 and was a surprise delight in a year already packed with fantastic Switch games. Now Ubisoft is back with another tactical-RPG, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, which sends our heroes (and their Rabbid counterparts) across space. Despite some significant changes to the gameplay, Sparks of Hope is another absolutely delightful crossover packed with strategy gameplay options. The game begins at a peaceful gathering at Peach's castle, but our heroes soon learn the dark cosmic entity Cursa is spreading Darkmess tentacles across the galaxy, and only Mario & friends will be able to stop the spreading evil. Along the way they team up with Sparks, Rabbid + Luma hybrids that grant special effects in battle and in exploration, as well as a few new allies. Sparks of Hope has the same silly Rabbid humor as its predecessor, which once again skirts a line between kind of dumb and kind of charming. Yeah they're not the best jokes in the world, but the way they embrace their juvenile silliness does give the game a certain charm. Surprisingly there isn't that much interaction within your party—maybe the developers feel like they got enough of that out of the first game, so this one is much more focused on the new characters, including NPCs you meet. They're still decently charming, though maybe the Rabbids should stick to physical comedy, which usually comes off much better than the written comedy in Sparks of Hope. Although most of the tactical-RPG gameplay is fundamentally the same—along with all the little things that entails, like managing sightlines, dash attacks, status ailments, etc.—Sparks of Hope switches up a number of features from Kingdom Battle. For one, you now have open environments that you can explore instead of relatively set paths. These open areas allow you to tackle side quest battles in any order you want, and you can even engage in replayable small battles just to earn a little extra EXP and gold. And don't worry, since side quests scale to your level you can play them in any order. The environments are also a fair bit bigger than the first game and contain plenty of little things to discover, so it's a lot of fun to just wander around, collecting coins/items and completing side quests. This open format is also reflected in the battle system, which is no longer grid-based and instead allows for full freedom of movement, which opens up your strategic options a bit. The first game limited you to always have a mix of Mushroom Kingdom heroes and Rabbids in your team, but now there's no restriction, and since you start the game with most of the roster available you can get right into mixing and matching party compositions. More importantly, every character can now equip Sparks to grant both active effects and passive buffs, and there's a huge range of possibilities here as you figure out which Sparks complement each character's natural strengths or are most effective against the enemies in a specific battle. Since each character can only perform two actions per turn they won't feel too overpowered, even with good Spark synergy. In a sense, Sparks of Hope feels less structured than its predecessor, in a good way. You have a lot more opportunity for experimentation and playing your own way, which makes it easy to play around with team compositions, Sparks, and different strategies. Maybe you've been sticking with Rabbid Peach for her healing ability, but now you try a level with a more purely offensive team to crush enemies before they can damage you in the first place. Maybe you want to use items to get the most value out of dash attacks. The flipside is that battles in Kingdom Battle almost felt like puzzles since you were encouraged to beat them with a high rating (fewest number of turns, no party member KOs) for more rewards, and it's a little bit of a shame that this sense of perfect planning isn't present here. Still, it's hard to complain about a game giving you more options for approaching battles in your preferred way. Overall, Sparks of Hope grants a wonderful degree of freedom to the player, though perhaps at the expense of challenge. Kingdom Battle was a meticulous game, partly because of those puzzle-like mechanics, but Sparks of Hope gives you so much freedom in how to play that it's actually pretty easy, at least for Kingdom Battle veterans. There's far less punishment for mistakes since you can recover health with both items during battle and by paying a small fee outside of battle (and you'll probably always have plenty of coins). The new characters bring some incredibly powerful abilities, and the returning characters can also become almost over-powered once you've upgraded their skill trees a bit. No rating system means you can even barely crawl across the finish line without any negative repercussions. The good news is that you can adjust the difficulty at any time, though even hard mode doesn't quite feel at the level of the previous game, unless you just hobble yourself by not using Sparks or abilities. Regardless, even if Sparks of Hope generally feels a bit easy for a turn-based strategy game, it's still a blast to build a team with complementary abilities and then execute strategies where everything comes together perfectly in the end. And there are a handful of different battle objectives—defeat all enemies, survive X number of turns, reach the goal, etc.—so there's still some variety in how you have to approach each level. The game does have one minor flaw that is unfortunately all too common: load times. They aren't terribly long in Sparks of Hope, but opening the character menu to change your team or the map to get your bearings is just long enough that it's noticeable and annoying. Such menus really need to be snappy to maintain the flow of a game. Presentation-wise, Sparks of Hope is just as sharp and stylish as its predecessor—moreso even, if only for the more varied environments that see you traveling from planet to planet. The character and enemy design hasn't changed all that much, but the scenery is lovely, which gives you all the more reason to stop the spread of Darkmess tentacles and restore each planet to its former glory. The music is also quite nice, but the voice acting doesn't quite feel like it's on the same level. Beep-O seemingly has the most lines but it's not the most charming of voices, and the less the Rabbids speak the better. Literally—it's just weird to hear Rabbids talk, even if it's limited to short phrases in this game. Sparks of Hope is a good 20–30 hour game, depending on how you tackle side quests. It's hard to pass them up though. Mostly they just mean more battles, including some of the only truly challenging battles like the secret bosses on each planet, though there are also some environmental puzzles that are actually quite fun to tackle. Unfortunately Sparks of Hope doesn't have a co-op mode like the previous game, but there's still plenty of replay value here if you wanted to run through the game again while focusing on using different party compositions. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope makes some surprising tweaks and adjustments to its predecessor's formula, perhaps ultimately to the benefit of a wider audience. With the move toward less restrictive, more open gameplay options, the challenge ends up reduced. However, that more welcoming sense of difficulty, paired with a wide variety of strategic options with character choices and Sparks, allows for a wealth of approaches to any battle, which is wonderfully rewarding in its own right. Strategy fans will still love the opportunity to craft their perfect battle plans, and anyone that found Kingdom Battle a little too tricky to master should absolutely give this game a try. Rating: 9 out of 10 Sparks
  7. Looking forward to new stages, and hopefully more open ones. Getting a little tired of all the stages that feel so narrow—I normally use short-range, flanker weapons so it especially stings to always be in a charger or splatling's line of sight. I don't like using chargers, but that new five-shot charger does look pretty cool. Big Run! Finally. Seemed like a missed opportunity to not have one in October since there was no Splatfest. Still hoping that Big Run also means more scale drops, because man is it slow building those up, even when my team does manage to beat a Cohozuna. X Battles are essentially extra serious Anarchy Battles. In Splatoon 2 they were just the rank after S, but now it's a separate mode, and I believe you have to be at least S+ to unlock them. You'll earn X Power by winning and lose it by losing, so it's a more detailed demarcation of skill/bragging rights.
  8. Ay ay, let's go Squirtle Squad! Honestly shocked it was a clean sweep, but I'm just glad this broke the curse of the Tri-Color defenders losing in the end. I don't know if they changed the rate of Tri-Color battles or something but I ended up playing maybe 12 or 15, a lot more than the last Splatfest. Got my gold badge though, so I'll be showing that off for a while. Not surprised that Grass was the least popular; I feel like 80% of my matches were against Fire. I also only played maybe one or two mirror matches, but still didn't expect Water to be the most popular choice.
  9. I'm surprised Fire is in third. As Team Water I've lost more games to Fire than Grass. Team Big Man is in the halftime lead yet again, hopefully this time we can hold it through the second half! Also kind of glad; I enjoyed defending in Tri-Color Battles a lot more than attacking.
  10. "Non-stop action" is probably the most succinct way to describe Severed Steel, an FPS game that allows you to acrobatically leap from one enemy to the next, smoothly taking out each one, grabbing their gun, and continuing on your way. For better and for worse, this game is 100% flashy, fast-paced action. You play as Steel, a woman who is missing an arm and wakes up in a mysterious futuristic office building and proceeds to absolutely demolish everything in her path to get out. Beyond that it's hard to say much about the plot, because despite a handful of silent cutscenes it is really not clear what is going on here, story-wise. The cutscenes are vague and although the missions seem to lead you through some kind of quest to destroy the company in the building, nothing is made particularly clear. Severed Steel isn't the kind of game you play for story though, so the weak plot isn't too much of an issue. The gameplay here is all about fast, fluid, acrobatic FPS action that allows players to seamlessly run along a wall, dive off, slide along the ground, kick an enemy to steal his gun, then shoot him with it point blank. Although you're frequently surrounded by enemies, you can't be hit while you're executing these fancy stunts like sliding or diving, so there's a big emphasis on constantly staying on the move to avoid enemy bullets and smoothly moving from one enemy to the next. You can't reload any gun you pick up, instead you have to defeat an enemy and grab theirs, so bunkering down is not an option here. You can also slow down time to help you line up your shot, which is invaluable when you're soaring through the air at insane speeds. Each level of the game throws a different objective at you, but generally they're things like reach the exit, destroy all of the targets (computers, consoles, etc.) or just kill everyone. The environments are also highly destructible (especially with the arm cannon you eventually unlock), so you literally can carve your own path through each level. When you're in the groove, Severed Steel is awfully satisfying—it's like acting out the most insane action movie sequences you can imagine, all in a dizzying first-person perspective. The game really taps into a simple, joyous feeling of badass fighting. That said, Severed Steel isn't exactly an easy game, even on the lower difficulty levels, so while the goal is to seamlessly fly through each level, you're much more likely to be starting and stopping (with plenty of swearing mixed in) as you try to figure out the best path or strategy to each level as enemies constantly swarm you. The problem is that the game's loading times can't keep up with that trial and error gameplay. If you're playing a game where it's possible to die literally seconds into starting a level, you don't want to be staring at a 15 second loading screen every time you reload. It may not be an egregiously long loading time, but it's definitely too long for the kind of game Severed Steel is. Ultimately that's what brings down the experience of Severed Steel: the little things. If you're going to be flying through a level with crazy action stunts, the controls need to be tight and smooth, and movement is just a little too floaty here. The visuals need to be clean and readable in a split-second, not a messy blend of minimalist environments and unhelpful outlines. The game's physics can also get a little glitchy at times with objects or enemies falling through the environment, which in one level necessitated restarting repeatedly as the objective kept floating away before I could destroy it. These are little unpolished moments in Severed Steel, but when the gameplay hinges upon perfectly smooth action, any little bump is going to have a massive impact on the experience. As mentioned the game's presentation is definitely minimalist, with a touch of neon sci-fi flair. On one hand it's good to keep the scenery to a minimum so you can focus on the acrobatic stunts, but it would've been nice to have a little more detail in the visuals. The soundtrack is definitely strong though, with an intense electro vibe that suits the sci-fi setting as well as the nonstop action. The campaign in Severed Steel is fairly short, maybe four or five hours depending on how much you end up dying/retrying each level. There's a decent amount of replay value here though in the form of difficulty levels and mods to add different (sometimes wacky) effects to mix up the experience a bit. These mods are aimed at the kind of player that enjoys mastering a game then replaying it over and over in slightly different ways, so while some of them are fun they're probably not much of a replay incentive for most players. Severed Steel is a flashy FPS that puts stylish stunts above everything else, and when you're perfectly clicking with it, the experience is a blast. The game's smaller faults do add up though, weighing down the intense acrobatic action with some repetitive gameplay, occasional glitchy moments, and load times that don't match the fast-paced nature of the game. But if you can power through those problems and are willing to put in the effort to master the gameplay, there's fun to be had wallrunning, dodging, and sliding through one level after another. Rating: 7 out of 10 Steels
  11. Nah if I'm playing anything online this weekend it'll be for the Splatfest.
  12. Not an amazing Indie World showcase in my opinion, but there were a few games that caught my eye: Glad to see Have a Nice Death has a release date, it still looks great. Pepper Grinder looks fun. Definitely has a Drill Dozer meets SteamWorld Dig vibe to it. ONI: Road to be the Mightiest Oni looks cool, I'll keep an eye on that one. Once Upon a Jester seems funny and unique. Maybe not enough for me to buy it right away though. A Little to the Left is in the same boat: fun concept but I don't think I'd pay $15 for it. Desta: The Memories Between could be interesting, and I enjoyed Monument Valley, but I'll need to see more of this one.
  13. Are we not going to do another Team Smashdown for December? We could do it and put on Final Smash meters.
  14. Slaycation Paradise answers the question: what if we could travel to different dimensions, and blow up everything there? With a blend of twin-stick shooter and tower defense gameplay, Slaycation Paradise offers a fun, turn-off-your-brain-and-just-shoot kind of action experience perfect for when you need a little violent vacation. The premise of the game is that mankind has mastered inter-dimensional travel, but due to people invading and pillaging other dimensions it is now limited to only apocalyptic dimensions where essentially everything has gone to hell anyway so there's not much further damage you can do. Tourists can visit these dimensions to shoot, blow up, and destroy everything in sight to their heart's content. It's a hilarious and dark premise, and the idea of either exploiting or destroying the resource of inter-dimensional travel is probably all too real. And although there aren't cutscenes there's a fair bit of irreverent dialogue to be found here, which can get pretty funny. Slaycation Paradise is divided into missions. You pick your destination dimension and which mission to tackle, then you have just a couple of minutes to complete it before the portal opens up and brings you home again. You can equip two weapons—a normal gun and a special weapon—and you can build walls or turrets to fend off the hordes of monsters, zombies, etc. that you'll encounter. Crafting objects requires scrap, so you'll also need to scavenge while you're also shooting zombies, robots, etc. When the portal opens at the end of the level you'll need to survive for 60 seconds before it activates, so that's where the tower defense crafting really shines. Early on the game might seem a little difficult, or at least tedious. When you're armed with just a pistol and can only craft basic walls for defense, the gameplay seems narrow and challenging. Gradually though you'll unlock new weapons and towers, and that's where the gameplay opens up. Shooting zombies with a pistol or shotgun is all well and good, but what about launching a cat that explodes on contact? The wackier weapons add some much needed charm to the game and help break up the monotony of shooting and crafting. And no matter what weapon you're using, it's always satisfying to mow down hordes of enemies. You'll also encounter a handful of different mission types, but every scenario boils down to: shoot things and survive. The sweet spot for Slaycation Paradise kind of falls in the middle of the game. Early on you don't have many options so it's difficult, and in the middle you've got a good amount of options at your disposal and can enjoy more varied missions/dimensions. However, by the end of the game you'll be so overpowered that it's kind of a cakewalk. You can upgrade your weapons with special effects and give yourself upgrades like regenerating health or faster reload speed, so most enemies end up being not much of a challenge at all. The game is built around replaying levels over and over, but the depth of the gameplay doesn't quite warrant it. Still, if you're having fun blowing up zombies or demons you could keep replaying Slaycation Paradise for a long time. The game's presentation is solid, though at the same time leaves you wanting a bit more. The visual design of a top-down twin-stick shooter is never going to be the most robust, and Slaycation Paradise does do a good job within the limitations of this camera perspective. There are some little annoyances though, like how it's difficult to tell what is hitting you when enemies attack from range, or how enemies can spawn pretty much anywhere but they're hard to see sometimes, so you'll walk right into them. The soundtrack is well done though, and matches the bloody action energy of the game nicely. Slaycation Paradise is a surprisingly engaging blend of twin-stick shooting and tower defense gameplay. The game has a bit of trouble nailing down a consistent, smooth level of challenge, starting off quite difficult and ending up quite easy, but becoming an overpowered wrecking ball that destroys hordes of enemies is also part of the game's charm. If you're looking for a chance to just cut loose, Slaycation Paradise offers a nice getaway vacation. Rating: 7 out of 10 Vacations
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