Dream Chronicles: The Book of Air Review

Ah, good old-styled adventures. Even though the genre is slowly fading away, with less and less titles coming out each year, it seems that the decrease in quantity somehow managed to result in a spike in quality – at least judging from games like Dream Chronicles: Book of Air.

The game actually follows a long-running line of adventure titles, and is the fourth installment so far, putting the player in the role of Lyra, the daughter of the previous protagonist of the series.

Gameplay

Those of you who’ve played Myst will find the style of DC:TBOA somewhat familiar – the game is played from a first person perspective, with the main objective being to find and solve all of the puzzles around the playable areas. The game is not played like a traditional quest, in the sense of there being basically no character interaction – the setting feels a lot like the aforementioned Myst, with an eerie yet soothing sense of solitude.

You can approach the puzzles in whatever order you prefer, adding a lot of variety to the gameplay; furthermore, some of the puzzles are interconnected, as sometimes you’ll have to find a required item in another location.

Puzzles range from simple to mildly difficult, though the more challenging ones are simply a matter of hunting out a large number of pieces, usually. You shouldn’t have a hard time figuring out how to get past most of the areas, unless you’ve chosen to play on the “Challenging” mode (as opposed to the other setting, “Casual”).

For those of you who saw the option in the menu and were wondering how it affects gameplay, the challenging mode replaces all of the puzzles with more difficult ones, and if you’re playing in casual mode the game will help you by skipping a puzzle if you don’t solve it for a long time.

Graphics and System Requirements

The graphics of DC:TBOA are one of its major points. The game is absolutely stunning, and the amount of fine detail in each scene is simply godly – words lack the power to truly describe what a feast this game is on the eyes, so you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Considering the game is based around the idea of dreams, except some vivid, abstract scenes that may make you rub your eyes for a few seconds the first time you enter them. The art style is great too, as the game doesn’t look 100% realistic (it could easily have), but has this odd blend of surrealism to it that brings it that much closer to the idea of a dream.

Since all of the scenes are pre-rendered, system requirements for this game are practically non-existent – the only special thing you’ll need is 1 GB of ram to handle the asset loading, but apart from that if you can run your OS, you can run this game as well. It requires DX8, but only for the audio and not for any rendering purposes.

Other

Despite being a casually-oriented experience, the game does have it slight competitive edge – you’re given a score when you complete it, based on how much items you’ve managed to collect, so you can always come back and attempt to improve that.

Conclusion

Please, other developers – look at how many players are enjoying Dream Chronicles: The Book of Air and realize that adventure gamers aren’t a niche crowd – it’s a real market that needs more games like this one.

Dragon Age: Origins Review

With the larger portion of the RPG genre moving towards online play, we’re always very eager to see a new game that’s designed entirely with single player in mind. It doesn’t happen often these days, so we usually enjoy whatever comes our way – but when you get a single player RPG that’s also done with as much care as Dragon Age: Origins, you can’t help but fall in love.

Gameplay

The game is set in a classic medieval fantasy world, with dragons playing an important part in the plot. The player is tasked with gathering the kingdom together in order to repel an impending invasion from the Underworld. At the beginning of the game, you’ll have to create your own character by defining its race and “origin”.

The origin is a new concept introduced by the game, where you’ll have to go through a short (for the length of the game, more on that below) series of levels where your character’s background story is defined – you play this part of the game as usual, and its end leads up to the actual events of the game.

The number of hours you can spend on Dragon Age is very large – if you’re new to the game (and/or the RPG genre as a whole), your first-time play may last over 50 hours. And if you decide to go for all of the additional quests and bonus rewards, you’re looking at several hundred hours of solid gameplay – none of that repetitive, monotonous grind that most RPGs tend to put in there, giving way to quantity over quality.

Graphics and System Requirements

Dragon Age is not only well-executed in its gameplay, it’s simply a marvel to look at, too – you’ll explore lush forests, cities with interesting architecture, and meet all kinds of highly detailed characters. Your own avatar can look quite differently as well, depending on your choices initially – and as a whole, the game’s graphics add to its already great variety a lot.

The vast worlds that Dragon Age spans over need a powerful computer to be rendered properly though. The recommended system requirements are a Core 2 Duo running at 2.4 GHz, as well as 2 GB of RAM (3, if you’re on Vista or above), and a Radeon HD 3850 with 512 MB of RAM powering your graphics rendering. Mac users will need to have at least version 10.6.2. of their OSX in order to play.

Other

Before buying Dragon Age, we advise you to make sure you have a small vacation coming up ahead of you – the game not only takes a long time to complete on the first go (seriously, divide the 50 hour minimum over however you spend in front of the computer daily), but its replay value is tremendous as well, and your first playthrough will leave so many questions and so many things you’ll want to see, that you’ll feel weak against your desire to go through it again.

Conclusion

A true blessing for classic, old-school RPG lovers, Dragon Age: Origins is a game that will be talked about for a long time.

Killing Floor Review

When it comes to zombie shooters, there have been numerous attempts to create something original in the genre – and most of them have been just copies of the previous, with one or two added features. Some games have managed to stand out from the crowd though – and in some rare cases, even non-commercial projects have caught the spotlight.

Killing Floor started out as a freeware modification for Unreal Tournament 2004, which was subsequently adopted into a complete commercial product that’s now enjoying a steady fan base (which, as of recently, has expanded to Mac users as well).

Gameplay

Killing Floor has several players fighting together as units in a special response team in an outbreak of zombies. The gameplay is very dynamic, with levels being divided into several parts, during which players need to survive against an oncoming wave of zombies. After each section, they can visit a store to purchase better weapons, using money that’s earned by killing zombies.

Some of the weapons are slightly unbalanced though, some positively, some negatively, as the shotguns tend to be a lot more useful than the other weapons for their price, as an example (and weapons like the flamethrower see less use because of their low price/usefulness ratio). The zombies’ AI is commendable, on the other hand, as they don’t always rely on blind rushes to get their “job” done.

Graphics and System Requirements

The game uses the Unreal Engine 2.5, which is getting a bit old for today’s standards. You can see some repetitive textures here and there, as well as the engine’s “trademark” square-patterned light beams. However, this makes it very good for older computers which can enjoy it without much strain, and this has helped the game retain its player base despite the heavy competition from other similar games such as Valve’s Left 4 Dead and its sequel.

The atmosphere is a bit more serious/grim than that of Left 4 Dead though, with some references to demons and Satanism, as well as more brutally-looking zombies and effects. The characters are more generic and not as uniquely designed as L4D’s, though that doesn’t kill the atmosphere and it’s still enjoyable to exchange voice commands as you’re on your way to the next wave.

Other

The game has a few bugs in several occasions, one of which may prevent you from progressing on a level, though it can be averted in most cases. It can also get somewhat repetitive fast, so try using some of the more underutilized weapons if you want to spice up your experience and feel that the game’s getting dull.

Conclusion

If you’re crazy about horror-themed entertainment, Killing Floor is one of the games you must not miss – it may not be as polished as Valve’s series, and may not have as many players behind it, but the fun you can have in it is still on par with its competition.