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Batman: Arkham Knight Review – Dark Knight Rises?

Batman: Arkham Knight Review - Dark Knight Rises?

In 2009, video games based on superheroes were categorised as low-rent shovelware. Then, we got Batman: Arkham Asylum. Developed by London-based Rocksteady Studios, the game was a revelation of sorts. It was rare to see a video game being faithful to its source material and yet being so much fun to play.

Six years and four games later, Rocksteady now gives us the last instalment in the series, Batman: Arkham Knight. It again has you in the role of the caped crusader, with occasional jaunts as one of his many allies, including Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing. And if you ponied up for the pre-order downloadable content (DLC), then you’ll also play as Joker’s partner in crime, Harley Quinn. While even casual fans of the series will know all those names, you don’t need to know much DC lore to get into the game. In fact, Arkham Knight gets you into Batman’s cowl and cape in an exceedingly quick fashion, with much less exposition before you start compared to earlier games in the series.

It’s a welcome change, putting the focus on the game’s slick traversal and combat. You’ll quickly find yourself gliding across the morbid, dystopian cityscape of Gotham, swinging from one building to the next with consummate ease. Without spoiling much, series villain Scarecrow has threatened to unleash a dreaded fear-causing toxin across Gotham City. He’s teamed up with the enigmatic Arkham Knight, who seems to have rather intimate knowledge of the Dark Knight. In short, you’ve got an engaging game that is fun to play, and doesn’t have many technical issues; that’s the case with the Xbox One version we based this review on anyway, though the PC version is best avoided.

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(Also see: Batman: Arkham Knight PC First Impressions – a Dark Night for PC Gamers)

The story reveals interesting plot points and twists at a regular pace. It goes above and beyond what we’ve seen in previous games in the series and is compelling enough to keep you hooked till the very end.

Early on you’ll get access to the Batmobile, which is an absolute treat to use. You can use it to chase down thugs at high speed or take on a seemingly infinite number of enemy tanks in battle mode. By holding down the trigger, your Batmobile transforms into a powerful instrument of destruction, complete with cannons and homing missiles.

Series purists might deride this feature, but it adds a new dimension to navigating Gotham City. Certain sections of the game see you using the Batmobile to solve puzzles and defeat specific bosses. It’s a welcome addition to the game and complements the tried and tested on foot traversal brilliantly. The fact that you can use the Batmobile to augment melee combat and take down foes just makes it even cooler.

On the topic of combat, Batman sports a new suit that makes duking it out with all sorts of enemies a treat. It builds upon the excellent combat system that made its debut in Arkham Asylum. You use one button to attack, another to counter, and a third to dodge. You can use a combination of these to stun and incapacitate most foes. Aside from using the Batmobile to help defeat foes, you also have fear takedowns. With these, the tap of a button allows you to render a host of opponents unconscious. But you can’t abuse it either. In order to land a fear takedown, you need to first take out an enemy silently, making it a reward of sorts for playing stealthily.

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You’re given plenty opportunities to test it out too. Like the earlier games, you’ll find yourself in elaborate maps replete with a host of enemies who you can hunt down and defeat. These maps are intricate and thoughtfully designed, with a good mix of challenge. These arenas include varied soldiers (including some who revive the men you’ve knocked out), sentry guns, and unmanned drones, and are a masterclass on how to make the player feel like an overpowered superhero, while still delivering a fair challenge.

Certain fights let you team up with supporting characters such as Nightwing and Catwoman, and control them in combat too. It’s a nice diversion as each character handles a little differently from the other. During these battles you can perform attacks in tandem, allowing you to decimate your opposition in a spectacular fashion that wouldn’t be out of place in a WWE game. At times, Arkham Knight feels like a darker, DC Comics’ style take on the massive fight sequences from the Avengers movies.

Aside from this, unlike other open world games that have the tendency to overwhelm you with a boatload of busywork and side-quests, Batman: Arkham Knight never overloads you to the point where you feel that there’s too much to do. Instead, quests unlock at a steady pace and you can choose to ignore any or all of them in favour of completing the main story. This game is not as bloated as Arkham City was, nor is it as narrowly focussed as Arkham Origins. Instead it treads the middle-ground that makes it accessible to both the OCD-afflicted gamer and someone who just wants to explore the story.

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That is not to say that there is no pay off for doing everything you can in the game. Rocksteady claims it’s the only way to view the true ending of the game. Just as the Halo games let you see additional, ancillary footage that fleshed out the ending a bit when you complete them on the hardest difficulty, completing every side-mission in Batman: Arkham Knight also adds to the narrative. In case you’re not a completionist, there’s always YouTube, of course.

Our grouses with Batman: Arkham Knight are few. For one, the Harley Quinn pre-order DLC does little to add to the story. Compared to Arkham City’s Catwoman pre-order DLC, which added value to the narrative, there’s nothing of this sort here. It was of little consequence aside from allowing you to unlock a few achievements as Harley Quinn. Barring the fact that she a lot faster to play as and has some unique moves involving a jack-in-the-box and a baseball bat, there isn’t anything you’re missing out on.

Also, certain sections of the game look better than others. While the streets of Gotham have been beautifully realised, as are some of the game’s more fearsome locations, we can’t help but feel that the same level of visual polish wasn’t applied to every area. Interiors such as the Gotham Police Headquarters looked plain in comparison to the rest of the game, and in need of anti-aliasing. The latter applies to most places in-game as well, which were untouched by gorgeous rain effects shown in most gameplay videos. Keep in mind that this is the Xbox One version and not the PlayStation 4 version, which has been touted as the lead platform.

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Nonetheless, given the disastrous PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight, the Xbox One version is leaps and bounds ahead on this. There’s no slowdown and very little texture pop-in make it well worth considering.

Clocking in at around 12 to 15 hours not including the wealth of side-quests and with a host content planned for the next six months (provided you paid for the season pass), Batman: Arkham Knight has more than enough to keep you hooked. Rocksteady claims that this is the final game in the Arkham series. While we find that hard to believe, there’s no better way to end it than with a game like this.

We played Batman: Arkham Knight on the Xbox One. It’s available on Xbox One and PS4 for Rs. 3,499 and Rs. 1,499 on PC.

Pros

  • Compelling plot
  • Rock solid combat
  • Slick traversal options
  • Well-designed levels
  • Lots to do without being overwhelmed

Cons

  • Visual inconsistencies
  • Pre-order DLC adds nothing to the story

Rating (out of 10): 9

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Mortal Kombat X Review: Microtransactions Ruin an Otherwise Flawless Victory

Mortal Kombat X Review: Microtransactions Ruin an Otherwise Flawless Victory

Mortal Kombat is a series that needs no introduction. It’s been around since the early 90s as a competitor to the incredibly popular Street Fighter games, except gorier and much more bizarre. Quirkily designed characters, over the top storytelling, and gruesome finishing moves known as fatalities – all of the franchise’s trademark pillars – make a return in Mortal Kombat X. It’s the tenth instalment of the series and it’s on PlayStation 4 (PS4), PC, and Xbox One.

The game is running on a modified version of the Unreal Engine 3 – the same technology that powered many last-generation console and PC games – but despite the old engine, Mortal Kombat X looks fantastic. Developer NetherRealm Studios appears to have eked out every last bit possible from Unreal Engine 3 to realise its vision of a strange world teeming with possibilities. From the many withering corpses to small details like spikes of ice, Mortal Kombat X is gorgeous game, especially in motion.

Speaking of motion, the pace of combat is a little more deliberate than earlier games in the series. It feels outright slow if you’ve been playing speedy fighting games like Marvel Vs. Capcom or BlazBlue. But it never ends up being so sedate that it feels like a PowerPoint presentation, instead of relying on the rapid reflexes needed from other games, Mortal Kombat X comes with a bit of a learning curve.

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On the other hand, if you played 2011’s Mortal Kombat, or Injustice: Gods Among Us, you’ll feel right at home. No surprise since they’re both developed by NetherRealm Studios. Novices shouldn’t have much of a problem thanks to exhaustive practise modes that go a long way in turning you into a seasoned warrior. Soon you’ll get into the comfortable groove of launching ice balls as Sub-Zero or summoning lightening as Raiden. Making a comeback are X-Rays, bone-crushing supermoves that decimate your opponent.

As you play, the more damage you take or special moves you make increases what the game calls a super meter. When it’s full you can tap the triggers on your controller to unleash a devastating array of attacks that has game entering slow motion and showing which parts of your foe’s anatomy is getting maimed, pulled out, or crushed.

Of course, you need to meet certain pre-requisites before dishing these uber powerful attacks such as how far you are from your target. And the other player can cancel out your X-ray move, with the right timing, making it not as overpowering as it may seem.

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Perhaps the biggest change this time around is that each character has three variants you choose from, each with subtle differences. Take Sub-Zero for example – choose his Cryomancer variant, and he can summon weapons in battle. Choosing the Grandmaster variant allows him to create a clone of ice while selecting the Unbreakable variant gives him more defensive moves such as creating a barrier of frost.

Old timers might find it slightly infuriating. Reason being certain moves you’d combine together from previous games are now tied to a different version of the character you’re using, forcing you to come up with new attack strategies. It’s an intriguing addition to the proceedings that levels the playing field between players regardless of skill. At its core, Mortal Kombat X is perhaps one of the more balanced entries in the series, there’s no particularly bad character to choose, and no single one is unfairly overpowered, as they were in previous games from NetherRealm Studios such as 2011’s Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

On the topic of skill, the game’s single-player mode lets you skip fights if you so desire. Much like its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X takes you through a slick story that has you in the role of different characters. This time around it spans across multiple generations, putting you in the shoes of series staples like Johnny Cage and, later, newer characters like, his daughter Cassie.

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It’s a tale replete with quick time events and cut-scenes that do a great job of helping you make sense of the weird, unusual world of Mortal Kombat. Don’t expect it to last too long. We clocked in about five hours to complete it on normal difficulty.

Once you’re done with Mortal Kombat X’s story, there’s a host of modes to partake in, both online and offline. The Krypt lets you explore gloomy environs in first person, unlocking a ton of artwork and moves for the price of in-game currency earned from each match you play. Living Towers let you partake in combat with certain modifiers such as acid rain falling from the sky in each level.

Depending on your tower of choice (quick, daily or premier) these have different difficulty levels and rewards, allowing you to keep playing Mortal Kombat X in a sort of endless mode if you’re the sort who is not interested in competitive online play. Keep in mind, you’ll need to be online to access this mode.

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While we’re on the topic of competitive play, versus mode is back with both online and offline options. While the latter is rather straightforward, letting you duke it out with a friend in the same room as long as you have a second controller, things get a little more complicated online.

Unlike Halo: The Master Chief Collection that had us waiting forever to find a match, connecting an opponent in Mortal Kombat X is quick. The match itself, is a bit of a concern. We noticed a slight delay between button presses and the resulting action on screen. Though matches did not have any perceptible, visible lag or frame rate issues, this pause between inputting a combo and seeing it on screen made for a jarring experience, especially when compared to how flawlessly it works offline.

This is something we faced only on the PS4 across a variety of speeds ranging from 1Mbps to 50Mbps and a host of regions including India, Europe, and the US. Firing up an online match on the Xbox One was a different experience. We were treated to matches that were as good as what they should be offline, making the choice between Xbox One and PS4 for online play, in our eyes, an easy decision.

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What of the PC version of Mortal Kombat X? We would strongly suggest against it for a variety of reasons. Given the Internet constraints faced in this country, the physical edition on PC comes with a mere 300MB of data, forcing you to download the rest of the game that’s around 20GB. Furthermore, this exhaustive post on Reddit breaks down what is still missing from the PC version despite several patches.

In terms of graphics, you’d be hard-pressed to find the difference between the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. In the end, your choice comes down to your controller preference and if you’re playing online or not.

Regardless of your platform of choice, you’ll be treated to a ridiculous purchase option of Goro, a character from the series within the character select menu. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, you can buy Krypt items and purchase a season pass too. Find it too hard to pull off fatalities – signature finishing moves in a match? You can buy your way to making those a cinch as well.

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(Also see: Of Midi-Chlorians and Fatalities: What Star Wars and Mortal Kombat Have in Common)

Oh and if you’ve downloaded the mobile game on iOS or Android, you’re treated to Rs. 20,000 worth of in-app purchases, some of which let you obtain rewards within the console and PC versions as well. While its no secret that AAA game development is expensive, its tragic to see publisher Warner Bros to resort to such tactics that do shake off the feeling of being nickel-and-dimed.

All in all though, Mortal Kombat X is a solid entry in the series. Some decisions relating to microtransactions and network code for online play mar the experience, but there’s very little else that comes in the way of this being one of the better fighting games available for fans and newbies alike.

We played review copies of Mortal Kombat X on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s available on both platform at an identical Rs. 3,499 and Rs. 999 for PC.

Pros

  • Looks good
  • Balanced combat
  • Gory presentation
  • Fun story mode

Cons

  • Microtransactions are a bit much
  • Poor netcode on the PS4 version

Rating (out of 10): 8

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review: Bad Looking, but Great to Play

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review: Bad Looking, but Great to Play

This generation of consoles has seen many high definition remasters of games, from heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto V to scrappy indie titles like Guacamelee. If you’re playing a game on your Xbox One or Playstation 4 then chances are that you’ve heard of it before, if not experienced it already. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD fits into this category. It’s a remaster of a PlayStation Portable (PSP) game that never made it out of Japan until now. Much like the recent games in the series (except Final Fantasy XIV), its a heady mix of futuristic technology and magic.

The game is set in the world of Orience. Its four kingdoms are at war and you control Class Zero, an elite group of fourteen student soldiers who can wield weapons and magic. Each member is named after a card in a pack such as Ace, Seven, and Jack. After the prologue, you’ll find yourself in an academy that is reminiscent of Hogwarts in the sense that its essentially a school for magic. There’s a definite Harry Potter vibe in the way the game plays out. You’ll spend a fair amount of time honing your skills, making friends with other cadets, and interacting with professors that have a storied past. These segments act as pleasant buffers between missions.

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As for the missions themselves, they’re varied. You’ll liberate towns, take down gigantic bosses, and even partake in a few that would be right at home with a real-time strategy game. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a comfortable cycle of missions and exploring your the academy and finishing side-quests along the way. The structure is similar to how Persona 3 plays out, though more streamlined. Unlike Persona 3, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is broken down into distinct chapters. Each chapter has several missions and each mission is broken down into bite-sized segments liberally sprinkled with save points that make it easy to put down without much of a fuss.

When you’re not in a mission, exploration happens on a timer. Every time you speak to a character, complete a side-quest or simply exit to the world map, a few hours of in-game time passes. This gives the game a sense of movement and rushes you through specific areas in order to progress to the next part. It’s a far cry from how most games in the series have usually played out, and it’s an extremely refreshing change.

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But this isn’t all. Combat is also revamped from earlier Final Fantasy games. Earlier games in the series were known for their turn-base battle system. Here, we’re treated to real-time combat. In each battle, three of your characters will be present, and you can control one of them while the other two are managed by the game’s AI. It’s an approach quite similar to Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. One major difference is if characters gets knocked out in combat you can switch them out for another from your team, and the game ends only if you’ve exhausted all 14 of them. This is another tweak that keeps the momentum up.

There’s a sense of fluidity to the proceedings due to its targetting system which allows you to land attacks on enemies with ease. These aren’t the only reasons for the fast pace of the game. You can pull off moves called break sight and kill sight attacks. The former lets you deal tremendous damage to your foe and the latter as the name implies, kills them instantly. It barely misses a beat and ends up being rather addictive.

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Aside from the series’ favourite option of letting you summon monsters (the presentation of which is as over the top as ever), your characters can also team up for a triad attack, allowing to hit your enemies harder. Fights end up being fast, frantic and entertaining making progression anything but a chore.

Perhaps Final Fantasy Type-0 HD’s biggest strength is its narrative. It’s mature, dark and focuses on the atrocities of war. There’s no hesitation to spill blood and kill off characters. The plot unfolds via documentary styled films and does a fantastic job of keeping your interest piqued. Sadly, this doesn’t extend to the dialogue which is rife with terms such as “l’cie” and “cieth” that are not properly explained. They’re out of place for anyone who hasn’t played Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels. It mars the rest of the game that is quite possibly the most inclusive in the franchise.

When it was announced for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it made waves for being accidentally confirmed for the PlayStation Vita. This forced Square Enix – the company behind the Final Fantasy franchise, to apologise for the gaffe. Some elements of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD make us wish it was on the portable platform instead. For a game with “HD” in the name, it looks surprisingly lacklustre. From blurry character models to small, constricted environments of many of its missions, everything about Final Fantasy Type-0 HD from a visual standpoint seems to indicate it would have been better on a smaller screen. Tragic, given that the franchise is known for stellar graphics.

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Apart from this, there’s an overdose of loading screens. Every time you enter a new area you’ll find your playtime impeded upon by a loading screen. The last game that was so liberal with making you wait was Hanuman Boy Warrior for the PlayStation 2, which was made on a shoestring budget by an Indian studio in less than a year. While the visuals are a bust, so are its menus. These appear to be carried over wholesale from the PSP version. Given that this is a full priced game, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD’s production values scream of laziness.

All of these issues plague what should have been a solid role-playing game. Its design, combat, and missions are enjoyable but are undermined by the lack of polish and finesse that we’ve come to expect from a game bearing the Final Fantasy name. Having said that, if you do manage to look past Final Fantasy Type-0 HD’s surface flaws, you’re treated to a substantial 30-hour odd campaign that’s entertaining despite of it being better suited to a handheld console. Considering that this is a full priced game however, its shoddy production values makes it tough to recommend to anyone who is not already a fan of the series.

We played a review copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD on the PlayStation 4. It’s available the Xbox One as well and retails for Rs. 3,499.

Pros

  • Fast combat
  • Mature storytelling

Cons

  • Poor visuals
  • Too many loading screens
  • Unexplained terminology make it tough for newcomers

Rating (out of 10): 6

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Is Bloodborne the PS4 Exclusive You’ve Been Waiting for? We Find Out

Is Bloodborne the PS4 Exclusive You've Been Waiting for? We Find Out

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) has seen fantastic sales success the world over. Surprisingly, the system doesn’t have a single successful exclusive game to make it worth the purchase over an Xbox One. Based on our first impressions, Bloodborne finally changes things. Set in the sprawling city of Yharnam, you find yourself in the role of a hunter in search for a cure for a plague. The plot however quickly takes a backseat, quite intentionally, with one of the early characters telling us not to overthink the situation and just kill monsters instead.

While Bloodborne is low on story, the atmosphere is intoxicating and Yarnham is a visual treat. Sinister buildings house untold horrors, and cobble-stoned streets have burning effigies of lycanthropes, but you won’t spend much time sightseeing. Danger and death lurk in every corner of Yharnam. You’ll face the psychotic, axe wielding residents of the city, and impromptu boss fights with colossal beasts. Everything in Bloodborne exists with the sole purpose of killing you.

And you will die; many times over if you’re not careful. That’s no surprise considering that Bloodborne is made by From Software, the creators of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls games. These games are famous for their difficulty, and Bloodborne is no exception. There’s an emphasis on caution over reckless slaughter, and much like Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, one wrong move in Bloodborne can undo hours of play. It is a little more forgiving than the Souls games. When you die, you lose all your Blood Echoes – the in-game currency you’ve collected by slaying beasts – but you don’t lose your health or abilities, the way you did in the Souls games.

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And while its predecessors had you waging long battles in a defensive fashion with an emphasis on shields, here you can dodge and side-step almost every blow with consummate ease. Bloodborne remains a difficult game, but the added mobility makes the game feel much more fluid. Instead of drawn out one on one fights, combat here can be an exercise in crowd control at times. We often found ourselves on the receiving end of a screen proclaiming we died, because we underestimated the mobs of shambling, demented gun-toting men.

In addition to this, if you time your counter-attacks well enough you can regain lost health from the many abominations you encounter. It’s a risky strategy though, and if you attack wildly, you will take a tremendous amount of damage during the fast-paced fights.

Another big difference in Bloodborne, compared to the Souls games, is the weaponry. While there are fewer weapons here, you can have one weapon in each hand. Axes, saws, or hammers constitute the short range weapons you carry in your right hand. These can transform into what the game calls a “trick weapon” – they can transform – modifying your range of attack and reaction time. For example: your bog standard saw that works at close quarters with at the tap of a button transforms into a polearm that can can deal damage from slightly further away. When you do this, your hits are more powerful but your reaction time is slower compared to its normal form.

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In your left hand, you carry a gun. These can be pistols or shotguns. They deal low to moderate damage but are useful for stunning enemies. Unlike their near range equivalents, they cannot transform. You can’t equip two guns or two axes though, your right hand is for melee weapons and the left for guns.

This is not such a bad thing. You can hold down the R2 button to unleash a powerful attack which when combined with a well-timed gun shot to stun your opponent, makes the proceedings visceral. Most non-boss fiends end up exploding like a piñata of blood and gibs. All of these slick additions make the action intensely satisfying.

As we mentioned earlier, each enemy you kill nets you Blood Echoes. This is currency that lets you buy weapons and items. On dying you lose all of them and the distance between the game’s checkpoints is huge. Nonetheless, if you spend a bit of time exploring your surroundings, you’ll soon realise that there are shortcuts to let you go back to the previous checkpoint easily to purchase items and save progress.

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During our time in the creepy, gothic labyrinth that is Yharnam, we died. A lot. But we always came back for more. Why you ask? Because the combat has an almost hypnotic, drug-like vibe to it. You can’t get enough of it. The difficulty means that each successful hit, dodge, or parry feels cathartic, and gives you a real sense of accomplishment. It feels good.

There’s no denying that Bloodborne is not for everyone. If you’re the sort who prefers shorter a experience such as Uncharted or Call of Duty you will not find this here. There’s little to no handholding, few hints, and you can’t pause it either. This is a game that demands your complete attention. In order to progress, you’ll have to explore every inch of Yharnam yourself. But if you’re willing to put with the game’s relentless pursuit of whipping you into shape with a carrot and stick approach of spellbinding combat and many a death, you’ll be treated to what appears to be one of the more compelling experiences this year.

We played a retail copy of Bloodborne on the PlayStation 4. It retails for Rs.3,999 in stores and Rs. 3,499 digitally. Look out for our review early next week.

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Ori and the Blind Forest Review: Style Over Substance?

Ori and the Blind Forest Review: Style Over Substance?

There are video games that you play, and there are video games that play you. Ori and the Blind Forest is the latter. Its prologue weaves a heart-wrenching narrative about life and loss that leaves you close to tears. We’d go as far as to say there’s not been an opening sequence this good in the current generation of video games.

Without spoiling much, the opening sets the tone for what lies ahead in spectacular fashion. The game takes place in a dying forest steeped with strange creatures and old mysteries, and you don the role of Ori – a woodland spirit who is propelled into an adventure to save his home. Along the way, you’ll defeat treacherous foes, solve a host of puzzles, and explore gorgeous looking environments.

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Once the emotional joyride of the initial ten minutes is over you’re left to your own devices for most of the proceedings, until the end of the game which does a little more to expound on its powerful opening. The game does leave you slightly shortchanged, wishing that developer Moon Studios had put more sequences of exposition.

For the most part. Ori and the Blind Forest has you exploring a vast 2D world replete with secrets to uncover and power-ups to unlock. You’ll find all the manner of obstacles in your way as you tread new areas. For example, you’ll find certain locations inaccessible without the right abilities such as being able to double jump or a set of keys to unlock an entire section of the forest. Acquiring such skills or items is crucial to progression.

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It’s a nice approach to gameplay but nothing new. This melding of 2D side scrolling with action-adventure mechanics has been seen before in the Metroid and Castlevania series of games and many others. In fact, most of the game follows template similar to these titles, with one ability known as bash being the only new addition. This move that lets you grab an enemy and throw it in one direction while rocketing you in the opposite direction, useful for navigating the world and defeating foes.

Along the way you’ll be pitted against various enemies – from eager leaping arachnids to anxious venom spewing vegetation, there’s a lot to contend with. More often than not, you’ll never quite feel empowered enough to defeat your adversaries as you would in other games. Ori’s skill-set for most part appears underpowered despite possessing the means to upgrade skills every now and then. This makes the game tough but fair.

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Aside from this, you can save at any point using in-game resources. It’s a welcome addition what with most games following a checkpoint save system – automatically saving the game as you progress, but it also means where you chose to save the game can have an adverse impact on all further gaming sessions, making them tougher than they should be.

While the difficulty in Ori and the Blind Forest never escalates to the levels seen in games like Dark Souls or Demons Souls – the holy grail of tough games for many – there are certain segments that try their best to make you invent new swear words. Rather than cap off a level with a boss fight like most games do, you’ll find yourself escaping from an area in a timed platforming sequence.

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In these events, you’ll have to jump in a correct order to avoid damage from enemies. These are the Ori and the Blind Forest’s most frustrating parts as there’s no indication as to which direction to go. They mar the experience considerably and devolve it into trial and error for most. This is further compounded by a frame rate that’s anything but consistent, what with the game exhibiting a visible slow down in its more busier moments.

However, thanks to the stellar production values, you’ll trudge on. Ori and the Blind Forest is quite possibly the most gorgeous game available at the moment. It sports stunning artwork reminiscent of the hand drawn feel of Ubisoft’s games such as Child of Light and Rayman Legends.

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Steeped in detail that would rival a Studio Ghibli movie, it portrays an atmosphere that would be best described as enchanting. Backed up by some fantastic music that will be playing in your head long after you’re done, Ori and the Blind Forest will leave a memorable impression despite some annoying sections of gameplay.

Ori and the Blind Forest combines enthralling narrative sandwiching derivative but solid gameplay. It’s this approach that makes you wish the rest of it was as compelling. But by the time you’ve realised that, you’ve been played, the fantastic presentation would have pushed you to its end, which should take you around seven hours. Well played Moon Studios, well played.

Pros

  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Close to tears opening
  • Solid (but safe) gameplay

Cons

  • Certain sections are frustrating
  • Visible slowdown in some areas

Rating (out of 10): 8

We played a review code of Ori and the Blind Forest on the Xbox One. The game is available digitally via Steam for PC for $20 (around Rs. 1250) and the Xbox Store for the Xbox One for Rs. 1,120.

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Original NDTV Gadgets