Reviews by JRJ

The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut Icon
Monster Slaying and Politicking
by JRJ, Netherlands - Sep 27th 2015

The game is a little rough around the edges, but it still provides many hours of entertainment. The atmosphere is great and the unique characters that you meet are interesting. The rest is a world of clones, so better ignore them.

Quite some things are left vague or unexplained, and there is no black and white morality, which is good. The game does adapt its script to your important choices, so you can't really regret picking one side over the other. The games does assume a certain disposition and attitude, which can be jarring when you have another vision of Geralt in mind. For example, not liking Triss.

I didn't care for the lover cards and the inventory management, but you can ignore those for the most part. You only ever need to bother with Swallow and Cat potions, the rest have their uses but are not essential.

The combat takes some getting used to, but once you get it you can take down hordes of monsters with ease. Except for a few boss battles, which consist mostly of running around while your regenerate, before whacking the bad guy some more.

I played through the game some years ago, siding with the nonhumans. The third chapter was hell, because the game kept crashing when walking through the city. I am happy to say that this problem is gone after a game update. I recently played again - siding with the humans this time - and only had the occasional crash.

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The Night of the Rabbit Icon
Magical
by JRJ, Netherlands - Aug 28th 2015

About a boy who became a magician.

Atmospheric, beautiful, relaxed, and with great voice acting.

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Anomaly 2 Icon
Blast those turrets!
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jul 25th 2015

This is a simple solid game, really. The first Anomaly game was already good. This one makes it more interesting with morphing vehicles.

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Sid Meier's Railroads! Icon
Playing with trains is always fun
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jul 25th 2015

I had a lot of fun figuring out how to build good railways and manage the flow of goods.

Too bad the AI competition has no design skills! But hey, you can buy them out and abolish their ugly works, so all is well.

It does take some time to learn how to make things run smoothly. One line per track goes a long way.

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Ultimate Edition Icon
Lots of good things to say
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jul 25th 2015

There are a lot of good things to say about this game. I'll touch on a few here.

I played through this game twice, with some time between both runs. The first time I used a nonlethal approach and the second time I killed all who got in my way. Both approaches are equally valid! The only time where the game lets you down is in a few boss battles, for which stealth and nonlethal aren't options.

Being nonlethal - either through avoidance or knocking people out - was very rewarding, but it requires patience and planning. Unonscious people can be revived by others when they spot them. This is immediate, no matter whether they were tranquilized or punched in the face. And those takedown animations show some massive punches!

Lethal is much faster, as downed opponents stay dead. It's also fun to play with the variety of lethal weapons. Some do start weak, like the shotgun, but can become very deadly once upgraded. Unfortunately the AI shows its limitations most clearly with this approach. Someone just shot at you? New corpse on the floor? There was an alarm? All is forgotten after a minute. And it is also a very good idea to walk towards that door with a pile of bodies in front of it, especially after hearing all those shotgun blasts.

You can upgrade your body throughout the game. Some augmentations are quite handy, others are quite useless. The good news is that you don't really need many upgrades at all to succeed, they're mostly a convenience. In both playthroughs I unded up with unspent upgrade points.

You can also look in every trash can, drawer, desk, whatever, and read all messages on every terminal. There's often credits, ammo, and bits of background info to be found. The good news if that you don't have to go dumpster-diving. In my first game I checked everything, but the second time I didn't bother with distractions.

There are a few social encounters where you have to talk to a key person until they give in. Some of these challenges can fail, which is fine because there are alternative ways to get what you want.

A word of warning. The first time you get to the office after the incident, there is an urgent matter to attent to. This is the only point in the game where stuff goes bad if you don't respond in a timely fashion. It won't stop you from playing the game, but lives are at stake.

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Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes Icon
Endearing morbidness
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jul 25th 2015

It's morbid, dark, and cynical. Nearly anything you do will be downplayed and rendered meaningless, again and again and again. Everyone is despicable. You murder kids, while feigning ignornace. Whether that's a pro or a con is up to you, but it's not really my thing.

This game has a slow start, but gets better with each chapter. It becomes interesting once you start chasing your demons and really gets going once you enter the final chapter. Too bad the end comes out of nowhere and just pulls the plug.

The puzzles and problem solving is for the most part straightforward, if you're a bit flexible in how you associate things. The only nonsensical problem - to me - was the colorblind pizza thing. The clue here is to forget the whole colorblindness nonsense and see it as a color matching puzzle.

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Sid Meier's Pirates! Icon
Didn't work so well
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jul 25th 2015

The game is quite endearing and full of charming moments. It just gets very repetitive really quickly, at least for me.

There was also a graphics problem, which made transitions between scenes glitch out. Not a big deal, but it ruins the immersion.

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Journey of a Roach Icon
Cute short little game
by JRJ, Netherlands - Dec 2nd 2014

You're controlling a lovable little clueless roach, and throughout the game I was just as clueless about what I actually needed to do, but simply trying all options gets you through it quite fast. I played through it in one evening.

It has controller support, but I gave up on that real quick. Keys and trackpad work far better.

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Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition Icon
Old but strong fantasy RPG
by JRJ, Netherlands - Nov 3rd 2014

I played through Origins once, with a male human noble background. I liked how the background came up a few times. Nothing significant, although the male human noble does get an additional option at the Landsmeet.

I played as a cunning rogue with dual daggers, with Alistair as defender and the two wizards as backup. Lots of backstabbing was had. I quickly gave up on stealth though, as the visual effect of activating it resulted in a crash too often. Didn't need it anyway. I quickly scaled up the difficulty to the highest settings and still never died. It's not a hard game once you get a hold of the combat system.

The story is basically dealing with a recurring zombie apocalypse. Nothing fancy but it has its own bits of mythos that are interesting to learn more about. What makes it great is that most of the drama is about the people, not the darkspawn or demons. Most of the game is about uniting the people to face their common enemy. At some point I got fatigued by loads of sidequest though, so I took a break of a few weeks.

Awakening adds talking darkspawn to the mix, but I didn't consider that an improvement. It adds quite some content to the game, but the strength really lies with Origins.

You can configure your party member's AI, and when done right you never need to manually control anyone besides your main character. The only exception are magical area attacks, because they won't avoid friendly fire. It might take a while to find a good configuration, but the priorities boil down to save myself, safe my allies, disable enemy mages, disable highest-ranking enemy, deal damage.

Considering powers, there are many to choose from, but investigate before you do so. Check the Dragon Age wiki, because there are many bugged powers. Passive bonuses are great because you can only really use a few activated abilities in a fight. You'll like end up with more that you care for. You'll also discover that quite a few are straight upgrades that obsolete older choices. Besides that, some abilities that were great at low level will become useless later on, either because you can make do without them, or the enemies that matter are immune to them.

Awakening adds a lot more options and allows you to reach quite a high level. However you don't really need much of that. You end up with more abilities that you need, plenty of them duplicates, and you'll be so powerful nearly every fight is a joke even on the highest difficulty.

What drops the rating from four to three stars is the intermittent crashing, sometimes persistent at the same spot. I think it was always a problem with the visuals. Too many sustained abilities have FX, turning your party members into christmas trees. If you're stuck on a crash point, try shutting off all abilities. It weakens you, but at least it won't crash.

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Tropico 4: Gold Edition Icon
Entertaining
by JRJ, Netherlands - Oct 15th 2014

A nice city- or island-building experience. It's full of silly banter and stereotypes that manages to stay lighthearted and fun. Modern Times especially has some zany missions, though it doesn't affect the gameplay much.

It's not a hard game. You can ignore faction and foreign demands completely and still keep everyone happy. Just monitor the happiness levels, and check the economic overview to make sure you have enough jobs, workers, and homes. You'll quickly figure out a strategy that works every mission. Just get an economy going, educate your citizens, and improve the lowest happiness category.

Though there are a lot of buildings, operation settings, and policies to choose from, most can be completely ignored. The majority of options are simply not worth fuzzing over or plain worse than the optimal choice. The only thing coming close to a challenge might be preventing gridlocks, which is eliminated by the subway from Modern Times. So I wouldn't bother with DLC for additional options.

Compared to Tropico 3, it's an incremental refinement. Things have been polished and the story is more entertaining. The graphics are of slightly lower quality but the performance is significantly better.

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Prince of Persia Icon
Still Strong
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jun 12th 2014

A nice action exploration game that ages quite well. Looks good and there's a lot to explore. There are only a few fights, it's mostly about navigating the world.

Didn't like the quick-time stuff in combats, but the combo chains are quite fun to perform. As you don't fight much, it might take a while to get the hang of it. But as you cannot be defeated, you can practice quite a bit in a single fight.

Story is related quite well via banter between the two characters, though it's very predictable.

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Braid Icon
Smart and Beautiful
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jun 12th 2014

It starts like a simple painterly platformer. Then you get a time-rewind ability, handy when you die. Then said ability becomes the point of play. Time starts flowing in strange ways, and thus becomes your playground.

It might be frustrating to initially get into, because you were expecting something else. But when you get it, it becomes a joy to play. I played through the entire game without any help, though some parts surely took a while to figure out. The only exception is collecting the puzzle pieces. I got some, but didn't care to go after the hard-to-reach ones. Best played when you're relaxed and in no need to finish quickly.

There's a little story in there which has nothing to do with what you're seeing, so you might not notice the history it refers to. But you don't need a story to enjoy this game.

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Burger Shop Icon
Well Done
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jun 12th 2014

Not my type of game, but done so well that I find myself enjoying it anyway. Nicely polished and with reasonable variety.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Icon
Great Game
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jun 8th 2014

Excellent classic Batman vs. Joker action!

Looks very nice and runs mostly smooth. I experienced some slowdowns in the outside areas, but it wasn't that bad.

Batman is an absolute combat monster! He feels massive and powerful. Combat is smooth, varied, and sometimes hilarious. Sneaking around is also a joy.

Only jarring bit is that Batman is adamant about keeping everyone alive, but after rescuing people he then leaves them to their fate, saying that "It's safe, stay here" when it's absolutely not.

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Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition Icon
Superb Batman Action
by JRJ, Netherlands - Jun 8th 2014

This is a step up from Arkham Asylum. You're now roaming freely through Arkham City, which is huge compared to the Asylum. And it performs a lot better as well!

It's everything that Arkham Asylum had, in a much larger area. Flying through the city is a joy, especially after you upgraded your gear a bit. Alternating between Batman and Catwoman adds some nice variety, as each has their own play style. The Catwoman arc could've been fleshed out more though, especially the last part.

However, I consider the story weaker than Arkham Asylum's. There's just too many big shots trying to play an important part in it, which ends up downplaying them all.

And unfortunately it isn't friendly to women. Being insulted as Catwoman is just one thing, it makes sense. There are two other woman that play an important part (not Poison Ivy, she's minor). While these characters are exceptional and even recognised as such, when they are on screen they end up being weak, frail, gullible, and one is unceremoniously offed.

Still, it's loads of run just flying and sneaking through Arkham City, collecting Ridder trophies, and brutalizing terrified bad guys a dozen at a time.

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The Bard's Tale Icon
A nice old RPG experience
by JRJ, Netherlands - Sep 7th 2013

The gameplay is simple and enoyable once you get the hang of it. Before that point it can be brutally punishing and make you wonder why you just died. It gets easier the further you progress, you don't need to collect everything to make the final fights trivial. I focused on the bow first and then two-handed as well.

The summons are fun to work with once you can have multiple at the same time. A varied bunch, though you'll settle on a few favorites and virtually always include the crone.

The graphics are dated and sometimes screwed up, but overall quite acceptable. The only real downside is the limited view distance. You're often shooting at enemies that you can't see (which is quite an effective tactic).

The humor is mostly derisive and jaded, don't expect anything upbeat. It's delivered with excellent voices, unfortunately it gets repetitive. You might get tired of the narrator being tired of the Bard and the Bard being tired of everything.

Don't worry about sexual content, there's virtually none.

Whether you should be snarky or cheeky is often just a guess, and sometimes the Bard's behavior was the opposite of what I expected.

In my case the cutscenes sometimes paused for a few seconds but most of the time resumed by themselves. Sometimes I had to escape for it to progress, though that skips the rest of the dialog. There's nothing important to miss though. Twice I had to force quit because it refused to continue. To me it was but a slight annoyance.

Controller support is a big plus! The game plays perfectly with it.

It's a nice touch to include the old games as well, though I didn't bother to play them.

(The rat scam showed at the start can be repeated in various other places, for different rewards.)

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FATE Icon
Was good, but go for Torchlight now
by JRJ, Netherlands - Sep 7th 2013

It was a great game to just run though a few levels now and then, but it's been completely superceded by Torchlight.

Fate has no classes, you can specialise in a couple of skills instead. While that might sound good, Torchlight's classes offer more variety, both visually and in play style.

The one thing I didn't care for was the fishing.

What did stood out was the ability to change your pet into various different monsters, though only the permanent transmutations had any real value.

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Nanny Mania Icon
Laundry Threadmill
by JRJ, Netherlands - Dec 24th 2008

This game is all about the laundry machine. Keep that thing running nonstop and you get the fastest possible times. Clean up other things while the machine is busy and postpone cleaning up repeating messes until the end. That's all the strategy there is. Incidentally, that means some "perfect time" targets are impossible to achieve because you cannot speed up the laundry cycle.

It's funny looking, but low-res and the (first) nanny appears the be cross-eyes in the art. The stereotypical mess the family makes is fun to see, but overall this game get boring real fast. I guess playing the demo for five minutes shows all gameplay it offers: it's a threadmill.

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Kivi's Underworld Icon
Doesn't appeal
by JRJ, Netherlands - Dec 22nd 2008

I checked out the demo. Trying to change the resolution always resulted in a crash so I was stuck with the defaults. It's 3D but your avatar moves like a 2D sprite: it doesn't turn smoothly but instantly changes orientation. The animation is stiff, Diablo is way smoother than this.

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KrabbitWorld Labyrinth Icon
Simply bad
by JRJ, Netherlands - Dec 22nd 2008

Tried the demo. The whole thing looks like it's designed by a child. That doesn't mean it appeals to children, it means that it's amateurish an not appealing at all. Same goes for the interface and gameplay. Load times are awfully long too, I have no clue why. At least they had the decency to price it low, but I wouldn't even play it for free.

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