lundi 23 décembre 2013

What Am I Playing NOW - Part V

Since I got a PS4 a few weeks ago, you would think I would play on it non-stop, that my PS3 (my main seventh-generation console) would only gather dust. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. While I enjoyed three different games during that time on the PS4, I still spent more time on the PS3, trying to clean the slate before the big games arrive in spring.

These past few weeks I played mainly through Puppeteer, a very pretty and entertaining platformer which takes place in a theater setting. I say very beautiful because I think the artistic design is as impressive as anything I've experienced this generation. The game itself is longer than you'd expect - I would estimate around 10-12 hours to go through the seven acts - but it always fits the purpose of the story. As this game takes place in a theater with, curtains, acts and a "live" audience, you'd be entirely right to think that it would be focused on the storyline. The plot itself is not revolutionary, but it is delivered masterfully by the rich characters and fantastic voice-acting. The gameplay is sadly not as superb as the character or artistic design, but it is solid enough and offers the player a unique control scheme based around the use of "Calibrus", a pair of legendary scissors your hero use to do basically everything from slicing enemies to traveling at high speed through fabric. You also collect heads as you go along (your head - you are a puppet, and I should've mentioned that earlier - has been taken at the beginning of the adventure by the main enemy, the Moon Bear King), and those heads have unique abilities. However, these abilities are basically useless for the main storyline, as they only serve to open bonus stages (one per curtain, three per act) or to shower you with gifts like stars (the "coins" of Puppeteer). Overall, it's a pretty entertaining and charming game, and definitely one of the best PS3 exclusives of 2013.

I also just finished Contrast this past week, a PSN game for the PS4 which was - and still is - offered for free to the PS+ subscribers. You play as Dawn, a woman who can only be seen by a little girl named Didi, and you have the ability to shift in and out of walls using your own shadow and other objects'/people's shadows to move around. As Dawn, you help Didi discover what exactly is going on with her dysfunctional family - and actually help said family - through a series of 3D/2D puzzles. The ability to shift into walls is the focal point here, and is interesting enough to carry the game all by itself. Otherwise, the gameplay is a bit clunky and is subject to glitches at some points. Some puzzles, like the one where you have to repair an pirate ship attraction for a circus, are well done enough that you see the potential in this new gameplay mechanic, but the puzzles are wildly uneven and hinder the fun of the game. The game last about 3 to 4 hours, depending on you puzzle-solving skills and whether or not you're committed to finding all the collectibles. Overall, it's a solid game solely on that shadow-shifting gameplay mechanic, and I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel - or spiritual sequel - in the future.

Back to the PS3, I just started Katamari Forever, which has to be one of the weirdest games ever. I'm not sure I understand exactly what the point is, but basically you have to roll around with a Katamari (a ball upon which everything sticks) and form the largest possible ball, which will become a star. Why? Because your father, the King of All Cosmos, has destroyed every star for some reason. If it seems to you as a peculiar setting for a video game, you're entirely right. But so far (I've done 3 stages only), it's pretty entertaining even if I suck as I'm still getting used to the controls which use, almost exclusively, the two joysticks. More to come on this strange game.

Finally, we'll finish on the 3DS, where I've only just got the Master Sword in the new game The Legend of Zelda : A Link Between Worlds. It's a well-known fact for everyone around me that I LOVE the Zelda franchise, which I consider to be the greatest videogame series ever. A quick glance at my personal "Greatest Games of All-Time" rankings will tell you that much, as 3 Zelda titles occupy the top 10, including the #1 spot for, obviously, Ocarina of Time. This new title, A Link Between Worlds, is the sequel (a rare moment for a Zelda game) to A Link to the Past, the wildly - and widely - loved SNES masterpiece. A few hours in, it has become quite evident that Nintendo has pulled it off, creating a whole new game in a very familiar setting. Since I'm really not done with the game, let's point out the two most interesting gameplay features - so far - this game is offering. First, you'll gain, very early in the game, the ability to merge in - and out of - walls as a painting, which, as you might suspect, opens up the game quite a bit and makes for very interesting puzzles and combat strategies (you can't stay in wall forever, you have a gauge to consider). The transitions are seamless and very satisfying to execute, unlike in Contrast, where it often gets clunky. The second will be a real surprise to anyone who has played many Zelda games in the past. Most of the series' beloved items, like the bow, the bombs or the boomerang, are not found in dungeons as usual, acting like a clue to which item will be required to defeat the dungeon's boss. No, they're all at your house, available for rent from a merchant named Rovio. What you have to do, then, is rent whichever items (all of them if you want), for a price between 20 and 100 rupees, you'll want to use. You can keep the rented items as long as you please, unless you die, an event upon which Rovio will take his items back and you'll have to rent them again. At first I thought I wouldn't like this feature, since I've always loved finding items in dungeons, as it felt like a tremendous accomplishment. But so far it has proved to be another great idea by Nintendo, basically asking the player to plan ahead and keep a lookout on his rupees count in the case he dies. A Link Between Worlds, after a few hours, is shaping to be a real winner and clearly among the best games of 2013.

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