Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “November, 2017”

Sally’s Spa (Big Fish Games)

After running a successful salon chain, Sally decides to try her luck in the spa business.  Can she be just as successful while helping her friend, Nell, sell her products?

The story isn’t much to talk about, just an excuse plot for the game.  However, the game play more than makes up for it.  It’s similar to Sally’s Salon with you moving people to different locations and doing the actions required for each customer.

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Only, this time, you can also sell Nell’s beauty products based on what is popular for the public.  Believe me; what the people want differs for each level.  For instance, stress products could be popular in one level and hair care products could be popular in another level.  Some products can satisfy two market conditions at once.

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The more products you sell, the more you have access to until you can get a special surprise at the end.  You can also buy upgrades for your spa in-between levels and, remember the purple station from the last game?  Well, this time, you can move men and women to the purple station.  For women, you paint their nails while, for men, you just clip their nails.

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It’s a little sexist because, being a woman myself, I never bother getting my nails painted when I get a mani-pedi.

This game is incredibly addictive.  I give it 8 out of 10, the superior sequel to Sally’s Salon.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 3: More Than A Feeling (Steam Store)

When the Guardians rescue an eccentric alien name Mantis, she claims to hold the key to the Eternity Forge’s power.

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Now Starlord’s left with one decision, destroy the Eternity Forge or unlock its full power.  Either way, the fate of the universe rests in his hands.

I have to admit, my original impression of the game was that each episode would be about someone each of the Guardians lost in their past.  It would also give a reason for why each one of them wants to use The Forge.  Instead, only two of the Guardians want to use the Forge while the other two think Starlord should destroy it.  If you want to know who wants what, remember Drax’s reason for going after Thanos.  Then remember Rocket’s origin story from Episode 2, the one that sent me spiraling into depression.  After that, use the process of elimination to figure out which two Guardians want to destroy The Forge.  If you feel that I’ve turned a complex plot from a fun and yet serious super-hero story into a boring math problem, you couldn’t be more right.

Each episode delves into the past of one of the Guardians.  In this one, it’s Gamora’s turn.  Unlike the last episode, this one doesn’t insist on taking a break from the plot at large to delve into a Guardian’s back-story.  During the game, it’s clear that Gamora and her sister, Nebula, have issues.  Considering that they’re both the adopted daughters of an evil overlord who turned them against each other as part of their assassin training, it’s not hard to believe.

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Now we get to see what drove Gamora and Nebula apart.  In the interest of not giving anything away, I’m just going to tell you that it’s a very deadly Three’s Company plot.  Whether they make up or not is in your hands.

The game play is typical of Telltale with you picking the dialogue options for the characters you play.

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There are times when you will have to participate in QuickTime events that require you to press the right button at the right time.  Like many other Telltale games, they sneak up on you.

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In the previous episodes, you had the option of checking your codex and mail and you can do so in this one as well.  If you chose to give Thanos’s body to NovaCorp, let me tell you that Rocket’s right, they are d*cks.  In the last episode, they refuse to stand down and let you handle Nebula.  These so-called cops won’t even listen to you when you claim that it’s to save the galaxy.  In fact, they won’t even give you the bounty and proclaim you the enemies of the galaxy.  It makes you want to replay the game and give Thanos to the Collector.

Some choices will affect the game play and, as I said earlier, there is one choice that will set the stage for future episodes.  At the end of the episode, you have the choice to either use the Eternity Forge or destroy it.

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I’m sure many people who’ve lost a loved one can sympathize with Drax and Rocket when they vote to use the relic.  However, consider that the relic can only bring someone back from the dead if someone else takes their place.  Also, remember that Hala wants to resurrect the entire Kree race and she will murder whoever stands in her way to accomplish this.  Would you take away someone else’s life and risk ruthless people using this power for evil just to get the people you lost back?  Trust me when I say that it’s the most difficult decision you’ll ever have to make in the game.  No matter what you do, this decision will test the bonds of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10, the perfect combination of light and dark elements.

Life is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time (Steam Store)

After Max discovers her rewind powers, she finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for.  Not only does Max not know what her limits are, but she finds herself caught between Chloe and Kate.  To make things worse, the school’s psychopath, Nathan, is out to get Max and even her rewind power might not save her.

Spoiler alert, which I try to avoid, but it’s difficult not to talk about some video games without mentioning them.  First, I’m going to talk about Kate, the religious friend of Max’s who found herself on a viral video.  I’m going to tell you what I’m sure you’ve already figured out if you played the game.  Kate when to a party and Nathan drugged her.  As a result, she unintentionally starred in a sex video and has no memory of what happened.  People hassle Kate for it with Victoria in the lead and her mother and aunt disowned her.

According to them, Kate’s disgraced the name of God by starring in that video and, either they don’t believe that Nathan drugged her, or they feel that it’s her fault.  First off, I would think that people that raised Kate would know that she would not do something like this voluntarily.  Another thing is that, as tragic as the situation is, I’m glad that they chose Kate to give it to rather than Victoria.  I’ve seen rape used too poorly in many fictional franchises where the victim is usually a provocatively dressed party girl.  What many people fail to get is that rape is about power and ugly people can fall victim to it.  By having this happen to Kate, who preaches about abstinence and wears conservative clothes, you demonstrate that this can happen to anyone.  Doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how modestly you dress and how much you preach about God.  Anyone can be a victim and it is not your fault.  Kate’s storyline also shows how evil Victoria is and yet the game shows hints that she’s not pure evil.  Yes, she does spread Kate’s viral video around, bullies Max and even films something at the end that I won’t give away because I have to keep some mystery.  However, Victoria is there for her friend, Taylor, in her time of need and, at the end, even feels remorse over her actions.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t redeem Victoria but it makes her a more complex character.  Nathan, on the other hand, seems closer to pure evil but the game hints at a troubled family background in the first episode.  I applaud that they’re not using this to excuse him and it doesn’t look like he’s getting a love redeems plot.  That’s something that happens quite often in these types of stories.

Now, I’m going to talk about Chloe.  Right now, I don’t know what to feel about her.  I do like that she’s not pure evil as society would portray most female characters like her.  Chloe can also be rather tough and I can sympathize with her situation.  In the last episode, we learn that Chloe has an abusive step-father her mother married after her real father died.  This episode does give the step-father depth but it doesn’t excuse him beating up Chloe and harassing Kate.  Chloe dreams of leaving Arcadia Bay and making it out on her own in the big city.  However, some of her actions are very questionable, such as attempting to exploit two insane people who could kill her if she so much as makes the wrong move.  One of them, Nathan, actually did in the first episode.  Chloe also encourages Max to use her powers as much as possible, which causes Max’s nose to bleed and for her to pass out.  If that’s not enough, Chloe plays with guns and lays on train tracks, the latter nearly getting her killed.

When you save her in a destructive way, Chloe does thank you but asked if you could’ve found a less destructive way to do it.  I don’t know if this is a Final Destination Paradox, meaning that Chloe’s fate is to die, or if she’s just too dumb to live.

The game play is similar to TellTale with no QuickTime events.  You pick dialogue but you don’t have to pick it right away.  You explore different areas, talk to people, examine various items and take pictures.  If you discover certain information about people, you can rewind time and use it to get closer to them.  You can also rewind time if you don’t like the choices you made.  Sometimes, the game play is rather frustrating on the PC if you can’t line the camera right.  Other times, the mouse refuses to cooperate with you.  You have no idea how many times I had to rewind time until I could get my mouse to cooperate.

As you play, Max will automatically fill her diary with character profiles and her version of what happened in the story.  You will also receive text messages from various characters that Max will automatically answer if you press the right button.  There will be a point where you get a text message from Chloe during Jefferson’s class and, if you try to look at it, he’ll scold you.  I mentioned a scene that’s very tragic.  However, you can prevent that tragedy if you say the right things.  You won’t be able to rewind time in that scene, so be very careful.  It’s frustrating but, I have to admit, I’m glad that they’re giving Max limits with her powers.  It makes her more human.

This game is tragic and yet addictive.  I give it 9 out of 10, it gave me a bit of an emotional reaction but not strong enough to get the full ten.

Life Is Strange Episode 1: Chrysalis (Playstation Store)

When Max Caulfield returned to Arcadia Bay, she thought it would be just another typical high school life.

Unfortunately, for her, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only does Max find herself at the center of typical teenage drama, she also discovers that she has the power to rewind time.  Can she use it to save Arcadia Bay from an oncoming tornado, or will the power corrupt her?

After playing several Episode stories back to back with the main character being an innocent virgin losing her love interest to the slutty mean girl, this is a breath of fresh air.  While Max is still the virgin and Victoria, the mean girl, might be sexually active, it’s not as black and white.  For starters, Victoria does have more than two brain cells to rub together as demonstrated in the game opening.  She answers the question correctly, though still secretly brags to Max about it.  Max is also not completely against sex, despite being a virgin.  While she is capable of slut shaming and derides herself for it afterward, Max will also remark, after seeing posters promoting abstinence, that looking at that makes people want to have sex.  Even if she’s friends with a religious girl who believes this stuff, but doesn’t try to push it on Max.  In addition, there is a male Victoria, Nathan, and, unlike in several Episode stories, this game does not give him a pass because he has a penis.  Nathan’s not right in the head and, while it’s implied that he has a troubled past, the game does not excuse him for this.  He is every bit as irredeemable as Victoria and he’s not a love interest for Max to cure.  Depending on how you play the game, he’s an obstacle for both Max and Kate, the religious girl who’s good friends with Max, to overcome.  There’s also a character, Chloe, who listens to punk music and smokes pot but, unlike in many episode stories, you don’t lecture her on the evils of pot.

That’s her step-dad’s job and, let me tell you, he’s a real a**hole.

That’s right; this is not your typical high school game.  While Victoria is the mean girl of the story and the most popular, not everyone’s impressed with her.  When you talk to the skater boys, they admit that they don’t like her.  A teacher Victoria has a crush on, Jefferson, does not find her so attractive that he’s willing to break school rules.  Even Max’s geeky friend, Warren, isn’t interested in Victoria, though there are several not so subtle hints that he’s interested in Max while his friend, Brooke, is interested in him.  Did I mention that all three of these characters have stereotypical geeky interests?  This is another breath of fresh air, considering shows, such as the Big Bang Theory, where the boys all have geeky interests.  The girls in that same show, even the scientists, don’t like comic books and video games.  Max admits to owning Battle Royale and watching Full Metal Alchemist, though she hasn’t seen every geek thing out there.  You can even have Max read a poster about geek girls forming their own club and approving.  Max has geeky interests and has a tendency to zone out, ignoring everyone around her.  Therefore, you can bet that she’s someone I can relate to very well.

Speaking of being able to relate to people, this game has several scenarios drawn from real life.  I’ve already mentioned some details, such as abstinence groups, pot smoking and girls with geeky interests.  However, I’ve also said that not everything is black and white and it shows.  For instance, Victoria is not your typical mean girl character.  She is smart, as I pointed out earlier, and, unbelievably, she does have a sense of honor.  When you choose to be nice to Victoria, she agrees to take a picture she posted of you without your permission off the internet and tells you that this doesn’t mean the two of you are friends.  Don’t get me wrong, Victoria’s still screwed up, as she manipulates a friend of hers into shaming her roommate for posting an article she doesn’t like.  Victoria also takes several missing person photos of Rachel Amber and shows no concern for a girl who, for all she knows, could be in a serial killer’s basement.  The only thing that makes her less screwed up than Nathan is that she hasn’t killed anyone.  That’s right, Nathan actually killed someone and it’s how Max first discovers her powers by using them to save the girl he shot.  You do have the option of reporting Nathan to the principal but, since he’s the son of one of Arcadia Bay’s richest families, the principal won’t do anything about it.

Even if you do the right thing, you still get in trouble.

While Telltale did not make this game, it has a similar style.  For starters, you do make dialogue choices for Max.  If you pick the wrong thing, you can make use of her power to rewind time.  You can also explore several scenes and take pictures using Max’s camera.  Throughout the game, you’ll have access to her diary and phone, which you can use to check your messages, read character profiles and the story from Max’s point of view.

This game is intriguing and unique.  I give it 8 out of 10; amazing but doesn’t get a strong emotional reaction out of me.

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