Reviews by Daniel Steven Oles

RHEM I SE: The Mysterious Land Icon
Takes Patience But Lots of Depth
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Sep 27th 2017

Rhem is in all practicality a Myst fan game but it's a decent one. The one faltering slightly dated issue some might take is the rudimentary graphics and VERY classic movement system of clicking between frozen screens. However if you don't mind making maps to keep from being lost and you enjoy complex puzzles based on logic, memory, and manipulation of your environment, this is a fine time! Almost every major room has some kind of machine to play around with, a switch to flip, or a clue to examine.
There IS a story but it's like most things about Rhem: simple. There's also only very rudimentary sound effects and sparce music. But that's not to say there's no atmosphere here and you can get immersed in the desolate enviroment trapped behind doors opperated by strange devices. If you like Myst and want more of it this is not a bad choice.

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realMyst: Masterpiece Edition Icon
GREAT to Return!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Sep 27th 2017

I played the original Myst decades ago and remembered it as a kid frustrating. As an adult and with Real Myst however I can tell you this is a MUCH better experience. Even at in its most classic form Myst wove a world of wonder and Real Myst really alliows you to explore it now in real time with beautiful weather effects (the rain is epseically stunning).
As far as I could tell all the puzzles and story beats were the same but as an adult I can now appreciate the puzzles and logic behind them much more as well as the zen like landscapes and atmosphere. Get lost in Myst again with high quality graphics, freedom to explore, and modern mechanics.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Icon
Not Quite Dawn of War but Still Fun!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Sep 27th 2017

The original Dawn of War is an excellent real time base-building strategy game and at first I was disappointed that the sequel didn't follow the same mold. However playing it for a LONG time now I can say it tries something different and most suceeds. It's a squad-based checkpoint taking boss-fighting action game now (sort of a stripped-down version of Company of Heroes with space marines) and it does this with flair. The graphics and voices and music are all perfect for the grim-dark future the game is set in and there is a lot of attention paid to keeping variety in the enemies, weapons, characters and scenarios.
It's not an easy game but if you like the universe or games in which you control a small specialized team in real time this is great.
Only real issues dragging it down for me is the real time makes manuvering somewhat difficult, re-doing missions for bonuses can get a little repetative, and some bosses are cheap. However all told I'm still playing and enjoing it! Not quite at home in the series but still a fun time.

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Sid Meier's Pirates! Icon
Live the Swashbucklin' Life!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Sep 5th 2017

It's a charming, fun, breezy game but it has depth and character. You end up doing A LOT of the same thing but there's been attention paid to make you advance to new challenges, uncover new secrets, and have multiple paths to victory. I like loading up and enjoying a little sailing, dueling, dancing and treasure hunting!

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Kingdom's Heyday Icon
A Charming City Builder
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Jul 13th 2017

A little frantic but it's pretty and it's intuative. Lots of different scenarios and options. You spend some time sitting around waiting for taxes but it's all part of budgeting resources.
A very enjoyable game!

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PuppetShow: Destiny Undone Icon
Want to Like this Game: Keeps Crashing!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Jul 12th 2017

It's a beautiful and entertaining puzzler with an intriguing atmosphere and story...but it keeps crashing! I can't even finish the game which is very sad since I wanted to see how everything turned out and came together. I don't regret the purchase and play, but I hope at some point I can figure out why it won't stay open...

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Adelantado Trilogy - Book One Icon
Stopped Playing Long Enough to Review
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Jul 12th 2017

This game is quite a tension-filled but entertaining ride! Cute graphics with diverse locations. The tasks and goals are pretty similar from map to map but do show some variety and if you're someone like me you don't mind repeating a map to get better times, find the secrets, and just set up buildings more efficiently.
A nifty, engrossing little adventure game all told. Only a few spelling errors and sometimes the goals seem to repeat but it's still one of my favorites.

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BioShock 2 Icon
Not Bioshock 1, But Still Exciting
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Feb 21st 2017

Bioshock 2 is a lot like Bioshock 1 extended DLC, but the major distinction is you're playing a Big Daddy instead of a regular shmoe like the original. Because of this you end up in battles constantly and can do things ordinary people cannot (thanks in part to a new gun which allows you to hack at a distance). The downside is your story is REALLY confined. Big Daddy's don't say much or interact with people very often and Bioshock 2 I can swear is shorter than Bioshock 1. If you liked the battles in Bioshock 1 this is a fine game with some hints of the earlier atmosphere of dread but mostly it's a power trip which is smaller but because of this feels a little less grueling than Bioshock 1. Pick your poison: there's still quality here, just a different kind.

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Lords of Xulima Icon
A Charming, Old School Dungeon Crawler
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Feb 20th 2017

I love games like this! Highly customizable characters with varying abiltiies, rewarding battle with feedback, plenty of exploration and loot: this kind of RPG is what I live for. The progression is slow but that's kind of appreciated. You feel like with each battle you're improving, you're gathering materials and gear. It's a fairly simple system to get into but has a lot of depth and with more classes than you can play at a time it has replay value.
It is NOT easy. Enemy's don't scale with you but are instead fixed difficulties so you need to grind a bit or take your chances. There's a food mechanic which is required to rest and heal outdoors, you need to buy torches. You spend a fair amount of time running back and forth between dungeons and town, but that's really how it should be. There ARE shortcuts available for a price. You can hold shift and run. This game is practically designed by lovers of the genre and feels like a love letter to classics old and new.
One hint: wait for at least two minutes for the game to start at first. I thought the game was frozen but the first load takes a LONG time to run. Still, now it works fine (there was one crash but autosaves made this no problem) framerate is fine, music and sound is great.
If you like turn based combat, exploration, gathering resources from the environment, and a nice old school feel to things this comes highly reccomended!

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Retroism Classic Adventure Pack Icon
Great Combination Platter!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 27th 2016

There's a lot of classics here, and by 'classic' I do mean to indicate both in terms of charm, complexity and difficulty. Bloodnet, Darklands, Dragonspehere, Rex Nebular, and Sword of the Samurai work fine and have a lot of tweaks to at least the general interface to make it easier to access and play. There's a lot of pixelated graphics on display but masterfully made examples of the artform and the roleplaying options in most examples (not Rex which is a status-less adventure game) are VERY involved: you will need to talk as much as you will need to fight. Another thing to keep in mind is that these games require a dip into the manuels to understand their intricacies but luckily Steam provides these along with purchase. If you enjoy old school games optomized for a new generation pick this up!

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Strike Suit Zero Icon
Probably a Bad Idea to Play Without a Joystick
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 27th 2016

This game requires VERY intense speeds to maintain a lock on the darting enemies. I didn't find any way of manually locking onto targets so a lot of this game for me was flying through beauitful space locations but soon being blown to pieces by speedy fighters I could not track or hit. This game works fine, looks great, sound fantastic, but without a joystick I can see this being much more irritating than it needs to be. Turning into a robot is a plus but getting zapped from fifty different directions was a bit annoying.

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Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition Icon
Most Fun I've Had in Multiplayer
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 25th 2016

Between the funny dialogue, creative graphics, and fast paced gameplay this is the most fun I've had playing online! There's quite a bit of attention paid to 'roles' in battle, from one player taking up a sniping position to the melee fighter wading into battle to the speedy gunslinger darting in and out of the fray. A lot of attention has been paid to making transitions smooth (players zap to each other's positions) and loot is shared so you never feel cheated. Just a fun time exploring and shooting and uncovering loot and out of the whole series it has the best characters and arguably the best villain in years!

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Divinity: Original Sin Icon
Ambitious In The Extreme
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 25th 2016

This is a brand new engine with an old school heart to it. Despite really beautiful graphics and a streamlined interface this still feels like a VERY classic RPG in terms of how much freedom you have to go and do whatever you feel like. Want to move crates for the heck of it? Done! Cast spells that compliment like an oil slick you set on fire with a fireball or use a rain spell to douse a burning ship. It's all possible and more even than this is the system which allows you to determine the characterization of your two companions by choosing their conversation options and actively improving their skills.
Fun voice acting, great music, flashy spell and combat effects! The story is a little convoluted but again feels very much like a 80s/90s era roleplaying game with it's far flung concepts of alternate dimensions. Great fun if requiring a LOT of time to get the most out of it.

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Call of Duty 2 Icon
Realistic Warfare With All That Entails
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 20th 2016

Before COD became a power fantasy it was more like this: the nigh authentic experience of being a grunt on the field of the most deadly war in history. Whether in the trenches, on the beaches, or in bombed out cities you feel both integral to the effort but horribly horribly vulnerable. A sniper can zap you dead at any instance or a wayward grenade blow you to pieces. You actually find yourself darting along open ground looking for small pieces of cover to fall prone behind so you can set up a shot, feeling more like part of a team than just a gungho commando. Great acting, music, and the graphics still hold up nicely, this is a fine adrenaline fueled history lesson to experience.

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Mount & Blade: Warband - Napoleonic Wars Icon
It Just Doesn't Work
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 20th 2016

This looks fantastic but it will not load. Mount and Blade is a fantastic game and adding this time period to it (one of my favorite) sounds great, but right now this is a broken mod, at least for me. I'd love to hear if someone manages to fix this.

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Tempest: Pirate Action RPG Icon
A Charming Piratical Adventure!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 20th 2016

The interface is a little bizarre and unwieldly at times but for an independant game this is fantastic! My favorite aspect of the Total War games in the naval combat and this game is a lot like that expanded into an open world game, complete with different ammo types to cripple ships for boarding and crew you can improve over time. The graphics looks nice and it runs relatively smoothly. It's clearly a work in progress in many ways but what's here is enjoyable as you sail around trading cargo, blasting bandits and improving your standing with the various factions. Fine music, sound effects, and just a fine piratical expeirence all told.

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Crowntakers Icon
My Friend Got Hooked
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 20th 2016

I enjoyed this game quite a bit by myself but although it isn't multiplayer it was also fun to see how deeply my friend got into it. While playing this game by yourself you can't quite picture what it must be like to witness from without, but while watching him you realize how very involved this game can be. There's so many choices, so many tactical manuverings, so many things you miss in one playthrough thanks to that everpresent and merciless time limit. This game is unforgiving but feels so satisfying when you spring a trap or tackle a superior force and win out. We exchanged a lot of high fives and no matter how frustating things could be we were always up for just one more playthrough, just one more upgrade: the sign of a game that's harsh by fun and fair.

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Mount & Blade: Warband - Viking Conquest Reforged Edition Icon
Open World at its most Open!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 20th 2016

This is not so much a game as an experience you build yourself: like a Universalis game except with more action packed battles. There are quests to do and factions to please but like Minecraft this is a game where you set your own goals and strike out to achieve them, sinking hours into becoming the best warrior, ranking up to be a noble, pleasing a king enough to be a vassal, trading until you become rich. Everything you do reflects in someway on your character in surprising detail. Armor and weapon types effect your speed and effectiveness and you can use your own ensign to designate your eventual warband. The graphics are minimal but realistic and work great on practically any system. It's a rare game where you feel like you're living the medieval life and I at least can't get enough!

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The Dwarves Icon
A Role-Playing Game About Roleplaying!
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 6th 2016

The modernday requirement of all RPGs to be about making proxy characters has the downside of those characters not really existing in the framework of a story. Every player character is Dragon Age or Skyrim or even Tyranny feels pretty interchangable because they're fully customizable and therefore cannot have much of a footing in the world except as a generic 'chosen one'.

But The Dwarves does something different I've been hoping for: you play as a character who already has a backstory, already has a voice and attitude and skillset. Some might argue this makes the game predicatable but as a fan of story I GREATLY enjoy discovering by degrees how my character and the other characters as well fit into the grander scheme. I also like how the character is not intrinsically a masterful warrior or hallowed chosen one...he's a blacksmith. Most of the time he has few allies and is more tollerated than cheered for his efforts, and it's a unique experience!

As to the game itself it's quite an enjoyable pause-and-play system although at times it seems a bit chaotic. Still for all the massive amount of units on screen it handles fine, the music is epic, the acting fantastic.

This game makes me want to read the book the game is based on but as good as that might be it won't quite match the experience of unraveling the story from the inside by actually looking at things, talking to people, and making decisions.

I do hope that there's still a market for strong storydriven experiences centered on as well written characters as these. It's highly enjoyable!

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Hard West Icon
The Most Visceral Turn-Based Game Out There
by Daniel Steven Oles, USA - Dec 2nd 2016

The only major issue I take with this game is how difficult it is, but the title makes it clear this game is HARD. And it is: often unfair in randomness, unforgiving in it's tactical necessisity to survive superior odds.

But everything is great: the story, the artstyle, the music, the gameplay...all fantastic!

You cannot save between missions which gives an 'all or nothing' feel to things some might not like, but at least for me I found myself going back to the same missions over and over to use new abilites, take different approaches, try and beat my time or solve optional objectives.

This is the meatiest and grittiest turn-based game I've ever played. Shadowrun and XCom are comparisons, but nothing compares to how brutal this game feels with bullets zipping zig-zags of smoke and punching through walls. Enemies struck stagger and bleed and blood is a big gameplay feature such as stalking retreating wounded enemies or even canibalizing the dead.

If you like the wierd west genre, satisfying as hell battle, and light roleplaying this is your game. It's hard but it's so much fun you'll barely notice!

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