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  • This Week in Review: Layers of Fear, Prospekt, Dying Light: The Following, Devil Daggers, and More (February 14-20, 2016)

    Welcome back to another installment of "This Week in Review." Here we are trucking along with our second ever installment. We are now like one or two posts away from officially calling this a series!

    We have a bunch of short reviews for you today including reviews for Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition, Devil Daggers, Prospekt, and Layers of Fear. Let's just dive right into those.



    Dying Light: The Following

    Make no mistake about it, I quite enjoyed the first go around in Dying Light. In fact, I gave it a 4/5 in my review and managed to give a pretty good overview of the game. You should probably check that out if you need some additional background information. More recently, Dying Light: The Following was released. This massive expansion adds in, among other things, a new more open location and a drivable and deadly dune buggy. There is no greater feeling in The Following than when you're blasting through groups of zombies in any number of wide open expanses. Just be careful because the zombie corpses can get tangled up in your vehicle causing it to slow down. You aren't invulnerable while driving, so a reduction in speed leaves you open to attack by both the living and the undead.

    The buggy also includes a separate skill tree and introduces a mechanic that will find you seeking out gas in order to keep the vehicle running. You'd hate to be stuck out in the middle of a field surrounded by hordes of zombies because you ran out of gas, right? Thankfully the gas consumption becomes less and less of an issue as you invest points into your driving skill tree.

    The story in The Following finds Kyle, the main protagonist of the base game, trying to win over the hearts and minds of the locals. The locals in this case being a group of cultists. The difficulty has a tendency to spike in some missions but it's nothing that is impossible if you spent any time at all building up your character from the main story missions. Just like with Dying Light, you can play through The Following with up to three of your friends as you work through the story missions or tackle trying to take out the new Volatile Nests areas introduced in this expansion. Just like in the base game, co-op still includes a number of optional challenges such as beating your buddies to a location, only this time you can race to the spot using your fancy dune buggies.

    Interestingly, The Following seems to set aside some of what made Dying Light so great: The parkour running across rooftops. The new, more open areas do not really lend itself to much parkour movement. Instead, the preferred method of transportation centers around the dune buggy. It honestly feels a bit more like Far Cry 2 than Dying Light, but it's still a damn fun experience.

    It should also be noted that The Following comes packed with the Enhanced Edition content. This content, free to everyone that owns Dying Light, adds in improved visuals, a number of gameplay tweaks, better NPC models, better AI, more weapons, and the new Nightmare difficulty level. Seasoned pros of the base game that aren't ready to drop a few bucks on The Following will still find a lot of fresh experiences in the base game thanks to these improvements.

    Overall: 4 out of 5
    Dying Light: The Following (Developed by Techland)
    $19.99 (USD) (if you already own Dying Light; $59.99 for the full package) via Steam (Also available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; Also available as a physical release)



    Prospekt

    Prospekt bills itself as a successor to Half-Life: Opposing Force, the Half-Life expansion that put you into the shoes of Adrian Shephard, a marine that was present during the Black Mesa incident. On paper, the idea behind Prospekt is great since it's going to be who knows how damn long until Valve finally makes new Half-Life content. However, its execution leaves a lot to be desired.

    The game takes you through 9 chapters (13 levels) of terrible map design, bullet sponge enemies (even on Normal), and a near non-existent plot. In fact, the only plot encountered throughout the game is shown through a series of "flashback" sequences that consist merely of an overlay effect and spoken dialogue. Even those don't help this game's story as they are only focused on Shephard's training with the military and the build up to the Black Mesa incident. I had literally zero motivation for anything I did in the game. The level design did not help as most enemy encounters were set in wide open areas, typically corridors, with little to no cover. Outside of one instance (that I can recall), the game mainly consists of dispatching a large group of insanely beefed up enemies (health values were indeed increased for the soldiers compared to HL2) in areas with little to no cover, running through more corridors, hitting buttons to open doors, and making your way to the next enemy encounter.

    The first half of the game takes place within new areas of Nova Prospekt, which admittedly does not lend itself to great level design. To the credit of the developer, Richard Seabrook, I found the level designs for Nova Prospekt bland and lacking in Half-Life 2 as well. Fortunately, the level design does get a bit better in the second half of the game, though it still presents most enemy encounters in areas with little to no cover. It might not be so bad if the enemies weren't built like tanks or if there were simply fewer of them thrown at you at once. It really seems like Seabrook knew the enemy encounters were bad because after each and every encounter there are rooms full of health and energy pickups.

    I also had the misfortune of running into a BSOD while playing through this game. I thought nothing of it until I saw others had the same issue with this game. It's probably not super common but there ran a risk while playing that I would encounter the issue if I tried to hit a button to respawn after dying. As this game is rather unforgiving, the chances of death are high and thus so were my chances of encountering another BSOD. I fixed this by enabling God mode for the second half of the game. I'd like to say this made the game easier or better, but it honestly did not. One of the final encounters in the game had me running around an arena like area trying to figure out just what in the hell I was supposed to do. The room consisted of nothing but a narrow metal walkway with four consoles attached to a central core. It seems pretty obvious at the time that I needed to flip each of the consoles so that they went from displaying green to showing red. I did this. I kept doing this. Consoles would sometimes go back to green and I would hit the button again. I kept doing this for about 30 minutes. During all of this, a seemingly endless stream of Combine soldiers kept flooding into the area to attack me with SMGs and Pulse Rifles. Finally, after doing the same thing I was doing for the previous 29 minutes, the game finally decides that I had hit the buttons enough to actually make progress. Again, there is literally no rhyme or reason for anything I was doing here. I could not even imagine how damn near impossible this would have been if I didn't have God mode on, because there were just so many enemies coming at me at all times. Was there an obvious trick that I was missing? Maybe, but I have no idea! I had almost zero down time to assess my situation before more enemies were running in and trying to mow me down.

    Prospekt is going for $9.99 on Steam. However, I honestly cannot in good conscience say that is a good price for this game. I have seen free mods for Half-Life 2 that were better than this in almost every aspect. If it were around $5 or less I would say, "sure, go for it." That seems like a more palpable price point for a game that will take you about three hours to complete, more if you factor in how many times you'll die. I honestly hate to rag on a game that one person spent two years of his life developing but it's just not a good game. I hope that Seabrook learns from this first outing and doesn't get too discouraged. Let's face it, most of us would never have even attempted something like this, let alone completing it and getting it put up on Steam as he did. At the very least, I give him props for that.

    Overall: 2 out of 5
    Prospekt (Developed by Richard Seabrook)
    $9.99 (USD) via Steam



    Devil Daggers

    Buy it. Now. Buy what? Devil Daggers.

    Devil Daggers is an FPS where you fight off wave after wave of demonic enemies. The idea is simple. You're alone in a small area, enemies spawn around you on set timers, and you try your hardest to kill them. If you get hit once, you're dead. There is only one mode. There are no other maps, no real story, and no multiplayer. If that isn't something you can get behind for just $5, that's totally your call. This game is not for everyone and I get that. The game sounds simple, sure, but for a very long time you will be lucky if you manage to survive for even a minute. And there lies the huge appeal in Devil Daggers. The game features global leaderboards for time survived. There is no other scoring method in the game, only one for time survived. The entire game is built around this concept. The idea that if you survived for just another half a second, you'll have surpassed your friend's time. The time aspect is so core to this game that it goes out to the millionths position.

    Music? There is none. You don't want music. Audio plays such an important role in Devil Daggers that you will want to hear every demonic growl and hum as clearly as you possibly can. You will learn to tell when a flying skull is right on your ass just by the sound resonating through your ears. You will know when a new enemy spawns into the playing area by the sounds they make. You do not want music.

    Visually, the game most closely resembles a PlayStation era title but it oddly works for this game. Even with the overall visuals being what they are, the enemy design is top notch work. With the number of enemies that will eventually fill your view, I wouldn't want the visuals to be anything more because framerate would undoubtedly take a massive hit. The game can and will become incredibly hectic as time goes on. If you really still don't know what to expect from the game, take a look at the current #1 position on the global leaderboards.


    It's Geometry Wars meets the first-person genre. It's one of those "just one more round" types of games. Then one more round turns into 5, then 10, then before you know it you're up into the early hours of the morning just trying to get that last second or two that you need in order to surpass Xx420NoScopeYOLOxX on the leaderboards. It's simple, it's fast, it's fun. You should get it.

    Overall: 5 out of 5
    Devil Daggers (Developed by Sorath)
    $4.99 (USD) via Steam or Humble



    Layers of Fear

    The final review this weekend comes to us courtesy of Bloober Team SA and their horror game, Layers of Fear. You may recall Layers of Fear mentioned here a while ago when I went through the Early Access build of the game. I have not touched the game since until its full public release on February 16.

    With the full game now out, it was very interesting going back to the game to see what changed and to finally see the story in its entirety (the EA left out significant chunks of the game). It was a very pleasant surprise to see that areas present in the EA build were changed and it allowed for the final release to feel completely fresh to me. Just when I thought I knew what was coming, I was often surprised to see I was wrong. The game still sticks mainly to being full of psychological and environmental scares rather than traditional jump scares. Are there jump scares present in the game? Oh, without a doubt there are. I'm usually not too big of a fan of those types of scares. They're cheap and easy and while they make for great "reactions" from YouTubers, they simply aren't my cup of tea. It takes little effort to make a jump scare but a finely crafted series of psychological or environmental scares is where the real talent lies. Thankfully, Layers of Fear includes plenty of environmental scares. The hallways and rooms have a life all their own and would provide more than enough scares and tension without the added jump scares that go with them.

    The game is a bit on the short side, taking me about three hours to complete the first play through of the story. For those seeking something more, subsequent adventures through the game do provide a number of differences. In fact, the game does offer three (so I believe) different endings to find along with a number of collectibles scattered throughout. You might even go so far as to say that this game has a number of layers to discover through subsequent playthroughs.

    I don't normally like most horror games that come out these days. They're usually in your face with the scares and seem to cater to the lowest common denominator. Layers of Fear is not one of those games. I felt a sense of tension from beginning to end. Chills ran down my spine countless times as I worked through the story. Opening the next door I always found myself wondering what I was about to experience. It was always something new, with little to no repeat scares. I do wish it was a bit longer and since it's a horror game, it won't appeal to everyone. I, however, loved it.

    As an aside, if you would like to see my full playthrough of the game, I set up an easy to follow two video playlist on YouTube. This is a full playthrough of the final release of the game.

    Overall: 4 out of 5
    Layers of Fear (Developed by Bloober Team SA)
    $19.99 (USD) via Steam



    Whew! That's another "This Week in Review" in the bag! There weren't too many news items that I had any strong opinions about from this week. At least none that are coming to mind right now. That's actually a lie. I nearly forgot about the winners of the 19th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards. Fallout 4 taking home the Game of the Year award just blows my mind. That game offered up such a shallow overall experience compared to even its predecessors. Then you look at the games it was nominated against and that victory becomes even more head scratching. Of course, this is also the same awards show that awarded Rise of the Tomb Raider for best character, best handheld to Helldivers, and best RPG to Fallout 4[/I] so who the hell knows just what is going on with that awards show. At the very least, games like Rocket League and Ori and the Blind Forest made out like bandits and rightfully so.

    This weekend also found me playing games like the Hitman beta, The Division open beta, Black Desert Online's second beta, and Superhot. Sadly, I can't say anything about Superhot until the 25th, so keep an eye out for my review closer to that date. The Hitman beta felt like a nice step away from Hitman: Absolution, which is a huge positive in my book. After playing through it, I'm once again eager to try the "full" game. The Division continues to be fun. It will be nice to get a game to pull my friends and I away from Destiny. And yes, I totally understand they're not even close to being the same type of game, but for us it will fill the void left by a lack of Destiny content quite nicely. Hell, I actually quite prefer how The Division is more RPG focused than Destiny is. It's going to be a long couple of weeks waiting for that game to be released.

    I'm still really enjoying my time with Black Desert Online but I know it will probably get slammed by most reviews upon release. The visuals continue to impress me, despite some rather jarring pop in that happens more often than I would prefer. The latest beta was greatly enhanced by the inclusion of English voice acting, something that was sorely missing from the previous tests. The combat is still some of the best there is for an MMO but the mission structure feels like the stereotypical MMO affair. Go here, kill X amount of these things or collect Y number of this item, rinse and repeat. However, the focus of Black Desert isn't really on these minor missions. Instead, the focus of the game really comes to light later on when you start to build up a life for your character. You can purchase housing. You can purchase and craft furnishing for your place. Visitors can see your instanced interior and you can see theirs. You can also set up trade routes, earning profits for yourself by helping to escort goods and sometimes services from location to location. Immersion ruining staples such as fast travel are non-existent in Black Desert Online. It really is about living out a virtual life. The short periods of time offered by the beta don't really allow for most outside of the uber-dedicated to see this aspect of the game. Of course, if all you're looking for is an "old-school" MMO where quests are vanilla WoW levels of simple, Black Desert Online will still have plenty to offer you.

    Okay, now I believe things are finally coming to a close for this week's entry. Until next week!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: This Week in Review: Layers of Fear, Prospekt, Dying Light: The Following, Devil Daggers, and More (February 14-20, 2016) started by Shawn Zipay View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. K-16's Avatar
      K-16 -
      Several Steam user reviews have the same criticisms for Prospekt, such as boring level design with little cover, cheap difficulties through battles of attrition, arbritrary use of Adrian Shephard, and lack of anything new to offer other than voiceovers in flashbacks. The game doesn't even have Shephard's wrench for melee! It just sticks with HL2 assets.

      The main problem people have is the Steam store page description lists features that the developer simply failed to deliver. These aren't levels crafted to carefully connect itself to the HL2 universe, and the feature of [redacted] is more of an afterthought fanservice than an improved tribute, which means it ended up being worse than the original (and the original wasn't good to begin with). As one guy, perhaps he should've watched what he advertised and adjusted the scope of the project accordingly. Like how about proper connections between each level (portals are cheap and annoying)? And how about cutting out [redacted] if it's an afterthought anyways?

      Maybe I should make a mod starring Otis and show everybody how a REAL Opposing Force successor should look. I shall call it, Closekt. I can probably whip up a Horde mode too, where you as Otis, would need to defend against wave after wave of Combine soldiers going after your frosting and sprinkled cronut.

      Good entry this week!
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