Tagged "Deep Ones"

Dec 21
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

There was a time when we’d use Metacritic to compile our annual round-up of terrible games. As popular as these pieces were, in terms of page views at least, we’d always hit bumps along the way.

Scores varying between formats were the least of our problems. In most instances, we hadn’t experienced the games in question for ourselves. This, of course, made them tricky to talk about, forcing us to rely on second-hand opinions. We’re also pretty sure that Metacritic’s ‘worst list’ was almost entirely occupied by casual WiiWare and DSi games one year, reviewed by just a scant handful of critics. Hardly thrilling subject matter.

And so we no longer use Metacritic as a reference, choosing to talk about our own hands-on experiences instead. Some of the games below we received to review while others we picked up cheaply, knowing full well that they’re bad.

Spare us no sorrow. Bad games often have their own dubious pleasures. Amusing glitches, terrible voice acting, typos, poorly directed cut-scenes. Between the five games below, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing all these ‘quirks’ first-hand.

Past Cure

The third stage of this psychological stealth shooter involves a PlayStation 2-quality shootout in a multi-storey car park. To paint a better picture: the controls are clunky, the shooting mechanics feel ham-fisted and sloppy, and the cover system can’t be relied on. It’s like something from a pre-Gears of War age. We had already experienced a game-breaking glitch that caused us to fall through the floor, so you can imagine our confusion after falling through an air vent into a weird seemingly unfinished area set inside a sewer.

The textures appeared unfinished and the lighting effects weren’t behaving themselves, obscuring half the room. It appeared there was a puzzle to solve that entailed shutting off the power to cross a walkway, but after ten minutes of head scratching – and one checkpoint reload for good measure – we took to Google to find a solution. Turns out we weren’t alone in being confused. A user on Steam also found themselves trapped in this room, and likewise wondered if they’d accidentally fallen into a scrapped area.

Turns out this was a brand-new puzzle the developers added after the game launched, as they felt it needed more abstract/psychological moments. That’s to say, they patched their already frustrating game with an additional broken, seemingly unfinished, and downright confusing area. Now that’s counterintuitive.

After finally figuring the puzzle out, we found ourselves in a boss battle of sorts which entailed running away from a colossal statue with glowing red eyes. As we frantically ran, not even stopping to look behind, we made it unscathed to the doorway ahead. Inside was an open manhole cover with a ladder leading down, so we took the plunge…and landed outside the level, able to roam around freely in a white open void. Thankfully, the game behaved itself on the second (third?) checkpoint reload and the manhole took us back to the multi-storey car park as it was supposed to.

We gave up playing on the next stage – an extremely unforgiving stealth section with no radar or other stealth game fundamentals, other than a stealth kill option and the ability to crouch.

As bad games go, Past Cure has slightly more going for it than most. The visuals are appealing in places, the voice acting is more than passable, and there’s a degree of variety between missions. But with glitches galore and fundamentally flawed mechanics, only the most determined will ever see it through to the end. For us, even the lure of some easy achievements wasn’t enough.

Extinction

We have an inkling Extinction was once destined to be an all-singing, all-dancing, big budget title with way more variety than the final product. But when budget publisher Modus jumped onboard for publishing duties a spanner was thrown into the works, prompting the developers to dial down their vision somewhat. Just a theory, we should note, but one that stands to reason.

Whatever happened during development, this shouldn’t have launched at full price. Amazingly, there was even a £64.99 deluxe edition with bonus DLC. We pity anybody who coughed up full whack on day one, especially at sixty-five quid, as there’s so little content and variety on offer that even at £24.99 Extinction would’ve come under scrutiny.

It’s a hack ‘n slasher that involves protecting citizens from generic goblin foes while a rampaging giant smashes through a whitewashed city. Defeating goblins charges a meter, which once full sets the nondescript protagonist’s sword ablaze. It’s then time to take down the giant, which entails targeting body parts via a slow-mo feature. Take out their legs and they’ll fall to the floor, allowing their back to be scaled before chopping off their head – something not quite as grisly as it sounds here. If the giant destroys too much of the city, or too many citizens die, then the mission is failed.

This isn’t Extinction’s first mission, you understand. It’s the entire game. This cycle repeats from start to finish. Sometimes you must take down multiple giants, which occasionally have padlocks(!) on their armour which must be destroyed first, and a few new goblin types are also introduced along the way but that’s it for variety.

Extinction is so repetitive and slim on ideas that after around an hour of play missions become auto-generated. It’s as if the developers gave up entirely. It’s also around this point that the Xbox achievements start flagging as rare, making it obvious that most gamers simply gave up too.

Did we mention the deluxe edition cost sixty-five flaming quid?

Agony

When reviews of Agony went live – roughly a week after launch, we should note – critics stood up, leaned out the nearest window and yelled “The name Agony is apt, because it’s pure agony to play.”

Or at least, gaming sites were rife with words to that effect. Agony may look and sound enticing going on screenshots and concept alone – being a savage, gore-filled, stomp through hell – but it’s an utter chore to play. The biggest issue, by far, is that the developers seemingly made it purposely disorientating. Corridors and paths often look alike, the pace is frustratingly slow, and it isn’t long until the ability to scale walls is introduced which makes navigating the levels all the more confusing.

Then, to top it all off, the focus changes from exploration to stealth early on, throwing you straight into the deep end while still adjusting to the wayward mechanics.

Just like Extinction, the Xbox One achievement ratios are telling signs of woefulness. Even such early accomplishments as finishing the second level flag as ‘rare’ (currently unlocked by less than 31% of players), and as of yet not a single gamer on True Achievements can boast of a 100% completion.

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Apr 10
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The ZX Spectrum gained hundreds of weird and wonderful games during its lifetime. It was an era where developers would have a stab at turning just about anything into a video game. Low development costs also allowed creators to take risks, hoping to break into untapped markets or accidentally stumble on ‘the next big thing’.

Deep Ones is influenced by ZX Spectrum classics of yore but takes no chances – it’s a relatively straightforward underwater 2D platformer, with a few shooting stages and other similar deviations.

Neither does it strive for authenticity, merely resembling a ZX game in passing. The crudely animated characters are accompanied by lighting effects, sprite scaling, camera panning and other modern-day staples that the humble Speccy could never hope to achieve. The colour palette is at least akin to that of the Spectrum family’s hardware, featuring plenty of single-colour sprites daubed in garish magenta, cyan and bright yellow hues.

The lack of faux a Spectrum boot-up/loading screen is a huge missed opportunity for an extra dollop of nostalgia. For better or worse, depending on how cherished the vintage system is to you, there’s no colour clash either.

there’s a whiff of ‘game jam project’ about it

As for sound, the sound effects are unquestionably from the 8-bit era while the music is far more modern, being a peculiar mixture of tranquil beats and grimy electro. In truth, we aren’t best convinced the musical score was made especially for the game.

You play as a nameless scuba diver out to retrieve his submarine from the lair of an almighty sea creature – a nod in the direction of H.P Lovecraft. From start to finish, not a single word of dialogue is uttered from the diver, and neither does he display any degree of personality. The lack of animation is mostly at fault here, as he’s rather crudely animated. Oddly, some of the bosses have far more frames of animation than the game’s hero.

Chunky text boxes often appear during boss battles, unhelpfully obscuring the action. A rough translation job (developer BURP Games is based in Ukraine) has led to more than a few unfortunate typos. “Press X to Shot” is one such example. The few attempts at humour also fail to hit the mark, but this is less of an issue. They did at least try.

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