NOT A Review: Paranormal [PC]

Paranormal is being described by the developer Matthew C Cohen as a fully dynamic 3D haunting experience.  Wanting the players to experience the horrors of a haunting that’s never the same twice, Cohen has designed a dynamic system that he claims will allow an unique randomized experience every time you play, with multiple outcomes, dynamic triggers, countless variables, and an action-reaction system.  

This early access explorational horror game has a lot of potential, with its promise of dynamic random gameplay; upcoming direct-X 11 graphics; and even future Oculus Rift support.  However at this current stage of development I find the game to be rather basic and generic, with its limited gameplay, controls, writing, and even audio and visuals.

Unfortunately the biggest let down for me was the horror part of Paranormal. Perhaps it is just a case of me having been desensitised by years of playing survival horror games, but I find the scares on offer here to be rather dull – they are all just too clichéd and expected, with your usual “ghost appearing in the mirror for a second” and “water turning bloody” type fares.  Overall the game has left me unfrightened, and to be honest unimpressed.

The game is currently available on the PC as an early access title, on both Desura and Steam.

You can check it out over at

P +

  • The premise of the dynamic haunting system has potential.

P –

  • Too clichéd, with too many of the usual expected scares for the game to be truly frightening.
  • Limited controls and slow movement speeds negates the value of the pop up scares.
  • Very linear and limited, despite the promise of the random and dynamic gameplay.
  • The variation between play throughs are miniscule, and does not seem to affect the gameplay or the story.


NOT A Review: Ingress [Android]

If you have any interest at all in augmented/alternate reality games, then you need to do yourself a favour and check out this amazing little game from NianticLabs@Google , by the name of Ingress.

Although simplistic at first glance, Ingress actually has a surprising amount of potential depth and intrigue backing up its gameplay.  The premise of the game is that a mysterious energy of unknown origin and purpose has been unearthed; an energy, that some believe is influencing the way we think.  As a member of one of the two factions, players must move through the real world using their Android devices and the Ingress app, to discover and control sources of this mysterious energy, which is now all around us.  Utilising their devices’ GPS, players are charged with locating and capturing/defending public monuments around their local locations in this global game of tug of war.

The game is currently in an invite-only stage (or so I have been told – however I was able to install it with out an invite), and is due to be released world-wide on December 14, 2013.

For more info visit:

I +

  • Augmented/alternate reality on a global scale.
  • Active gameplay that encourages movement and exercise.
  • Social gameplay potential.
  • Intricate evolving story.
  • Attacking/defending real world locations in realtime with other unseen random nearby players provides an amazing experience that no other mobile games can match.

I –

  • Gameplay can be limited and repetitive.
  • Can be a lot of work – too much perhaps – for the more casual players.
  • Possibly a case where perhaps the premise of the game is more enjoyable than the game itself.

NOT A Review: Path of Exile [PC]

I have been told that some of my previous longer posts have been mistaken for reviews.  However let me assure you, that is definitely NOT the case.

As stated previously I am NOT a writer, and I certainly do NOT have the skills or the patience to write reviews.  All I seek to do on this site is to shine the old spotlight on random interesting things; post the odd screenshot here and there; and perhaps one day, hipster selfies.  And to prove it, I am going to keep this post nice and short.

Path of Exile is a point and click Action RPG, developed by New Zealand’s own Grinding Gear Games.  Dubbed by many of its players as “the game that Diablo III should have been”, this excellent F2P title is now available on Steam, or direct from their website over at

PoE +

  • Non-restrictive freeform character building.
  • Gem based skills system – character powers comes in the form of equip-able gems that levels up with use.
  • Barter System – instead of traditional gold the game has a barter system which utilises usable items like identification scrolls and armour upgrade stones as currency.
  • Varied + interesting loot.
  • F2P with a promise that it will never be Pay-To-Win.
  • Regular events and races.
  • Passionate developers.

PoE –

  • Difficulty can be erratic, especially the end game bosses.
  • Passive skill selection can be daunting, with permanent builds that offers no real way to reset a character.

Skeptical Plays: Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn [PC]

Square-Enix’s somewhat archaic and unconventional feature designs, in my opinion, had actually made the original 1.0 release of Final Fantasy XIV one of the most unique and interesting experiences available at the time.  Sadly, the critics disagreed.  The game did not fare well with the mainstream audience, and it was considered widely to be a failure.

Fast forwarding now to 2013, after three long years of redevelopment with a brand new team, the game has been given a new lease on life with the recent 2.0 relaunch, aka A Realm Reborn.

The game is still very much Final Fantasy XIV at its core, retaining the original graphical and audio assets, as well as elements of the gameplay mechanics. However, great efforts have been put into bringing the game in line with the other existing MMOs on the market, with everything ingame having been streamlined and “modernized” to some degree.

While I am appreciative of their efforts, I find myself feeling somewhat let down by a lot of the changes that 2.0 had brought.

Take the addition of the hundreds of new NPC quests for example.  Instead of fleshing out the world and providing players with interesting new content, what we ended up with was a series of generic and forgettable quests, which only serve to lay down linear lines of progression, discouraging exploration, and at the same time giving the game a very closed theme park feel.

Adding to that theme park feel are the new fully open map zones.  While the new open map design does give the illusion of a larger, more persistent world, in my opinion it also gave us more generic map zones that are far less interesting to explore.  Worth mentioning too is that some of the more interesting areas have now been converted into timed instanced group dungeons, and are sadly no longer accessible by smaller groups, or the odd solitary explorers like myself.


Despite my skepticism, the game is not without its strengths and charms.  Most gamers I’m sure would find the franchise’s signature creature designs, with your chocobos, moogles, cactuars and the like, to be a welcoming change from the often overused generic high fantasy bestiary.  The iconic Final Fantasy tunes and sounds are excellent as always, and I am happy to report that the unique crafting mini-game transitioned over largely unchanged, as has the excellent multi-class jobs system, which allows players to experience all of the games classes without having to create new characters.

Also, being designed with the subscription payment model in mind, it is sure to please the more traditional gamers, folks like myself who might be looking for a strong character-based non-restrictive gameplay experience – something away from your real-money Cash Shops and Locked Boxes, where you constantly feel like you are being punished simply for not paying extra.

At the end of the day, it pains me to say that A Realm Reborn now plays a lot more like your average generic MMO, with its industry standard hotbar control scheme; the mindless kill-ten-rats NPC quests; simplified one-click gathering; the grindy daily quests; and the focus on its number of generic loot grind dungeons.  While the Final Fantasy name is sure to attract fans of the franchise, I remain unconvinced that in the long run, the game as it stands with its traditional theme park gameplay, is enough to appease your average modern gamer – but, as always, only time will tell.



  • Subscription based – development focus is on story and gameplay, not on expansive cashshop items.
  • Stable client software.
  • Optimized UI and more accessible controls.
  • Fantastic Final Fantasy music and art designs.
  • Engrossing main and job storylines that carries on from 1.0.
  • Non-restrictive jobs system that allows players to level up multiple classes with a single character.
  • Unique crafting mini-game.
  • Intriguing world with strong lore and an unique sense of identity.
  • Mount/Combat Companion.


  • Generic NPC quests.
  • Improved but still clunky gear management.
  • One-click materials gathering.
  • Some of the more interesting areas have been removed and converted into generic timed group dungeons.
  • Removal of Companion NPCs
  • Mindless XP grinding FATE parties seems to be a focus of the communities.
  • Multiple class job leveling can get repetitive and grindy.
  • Questionable long term appeal for casual social players.


Upcoming: Project Phoenix [Multi-Platform]

This next potential gem comes to us all the way from Japan – it is Project Phoenix, by Creative Intelligence Arts, Inc.

Project Phoenix is Kickstarter’s FIRST Japan-based video game project, and to be totally honest, at first glance I was completely underwhelmed.

A fantasy themed squad-based real-time strategy JRPG, where an unlikely band of heroes (which includes an amnesic angel, a princess, an experienced warrior, and a wise worldly mage) must travel the lands in search of answers… on paper, this title is EXACTLY like most other games of its genre, sharing all of the same tired old clichés that I have slowly come to hate over the years.

However despite (or perhaps because of) my jaded skepticism, I found myself moved by their pitch, where they questioned the quality and the advancement (or the lack) of the modern JRPG.  And winning me over was their promise to “reclaim that magic and reforge the legends of old”, and their vow to “create a game worthy of longstanding JRPG fans who truly deserve it… [to] become a phoenix that will rise from the ashes to forge a new direction for the Japanese games industry through a work that awes and inspires all. ”

Worth mentioning too is that involved with Project Phoenix are some of the greatest creative talents in the video game and anime industries, with credits including several Final Fantasies, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Valkyria Chronicles, L.A. Noire, Diablo III, Halo 4, Crysis 3, and much more.  (Talents, which by the way, includes the likes of composer Nobuo Uematsu, of Final Fantasy fame.)

The Kickerstarter pledge drive for this project started on Aug 12, 2013, and is due to end on Wednesday Sep 11, 3:00am EDT.

For more information check out

Upcoming: Bot Colony [PC]

Voice recognition technology has arguably come a long way since the early PS2-genre days, of which I have many fond memories of – which is why despite somehow dubious usability and gaming implementation in recent times, I find myself rooting for this upcoming self-titled project, from the developer Bot Colony.

Based on the novel written by the lead designer Eugene Joseph, Bot Colony is a futuristic open world adventure set in 2021. What makes this game so unique and interesting is that the gameplay revolves fully around the use of human speech, voice recognition, and advanced artificial intelligence.

Here players will communicate with the characters using their own words, instead of pre-arranged dialogue. The game promises to do away with canned, pre-scripted responses, and seeks to completely re-define the player’s concept of interaction, by offering intelligent and dynamic English conversations with game characters that will actually understand what you say.

The developer wants the players to make the game their own, to teach the robot characters about human behavior, objects, and the world at large, to expand an ever-evolving Knowledge database.  And players are encouraged to use outside-the-box thinking, using intelligent conversations to complete a variety of objectives.

To be honest what the developer is promising seems overly ambitious, and despite the interesting premise the gameplay and the world itself seems kind of bland at first glance.

However, if there is even a remote chance of the voice recognition or the artificial intelligence engines being as good as promised, then this game is well worth watching out for in my opinion.

For more information check out the main site over at  You can also vote for it on Steam Greenlight over at

Upcoming: Kenshi [PC]

The next potential gem on my list is an ambitious title from the one-man company Lo-Fi Games, a free-roaming squad-based RPG by the name of Kenshi.

An original take on the RTS-RPG hybrid genre, Kenshi features open freeform gameplay, set in a seamless dynamic world that will never seek to limit you or restrict your personal play style.

Be good, be evil; be a business man, be a thief; live in a town, live in the desert; join the army, fight the army; travel alone, travel in hordes; build a fortress, raze a city – what you do is truly up to you.  In the developer’s own words: “This is not just a “game”, you are living and surviving in a simulated world.”

So much has been promised for this title – factions that you can support or hinder; buildings that you can buy and upgrade; realistic medical system that affects gameplay; intelligent AI that allows for NPCs to reason and work towards long-term goals and desires; squads that work together and can carry their wounded to safety – all this, and more.

What I love the most about Kenshi however is that every character and NPC you meet is potentially an equal, and has a name, a life.  There are no “hero” characters with artificially stronger stats than everybody else.  Likewise, you yourself are not great and powerful, and don’t have more ‘hitpoints’ than everyone else.  You are not the center of the universe, and as the developer so eloquently puts it “You are not special… unless you earn it.”

The game is currently in an early playable alpha stage, and can be purchased as an early access title from both Desura and Steam.  For more info check out the official site over at

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