Guide: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Map of White Orchard

This entry is part 6 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
WHITE ORCHARD MAP
White Orchard

White Orchard

LEGEND

1: There are 3 Monster Nests in White Orchard. Make sure to destroy them with bombs to work towards your Fire in the Hole achievement.
2: QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: A Frying Pan, Spick and Span
3: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Scavenger Hunt: Viper School Gear – There are 2 locations. This gives you the plans for Serpentine silver sword and Serpentine steel sword. To enter the ruined castle you need to go around back and climb the angled castle wall section that has collapsed.
4: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Temerian Valuables. Grab the key from the corpse on the shore and then give underwater and open the chest.
5: There are 5 Places of Power. Activating all 5 within 30 minutes gives you the Power Overwhelming achievement. For a video guide CHECK OUR ACHIEVEMENT GUIDE.
6: Tomira – Gives QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: On Death’s Bed & also has bonus rewards after completing QUEST: WITCHER CONTRACTS: Contract: Devil by the Well
7: QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: Precious Cargo
8: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Deserter Gold (This quest did not activate for me pre-day one patch Xbox ONE)
9: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Dirty Funds (This quest did not activate for me pre-day one patch Xbox ONE)

Achievement Guide: Mega Coin Squad

Gone in 60 Seconds – 20gs – Complete a single player level in under 60 seconds

Complete a single player level in under 60 seconds

Gone in 30 Seconds – 40gs – Complete a single player level in under 30 seconds

Complete a single player level in under 30 seconds

Blingingly Good – 20gs – Earn 3 gems in a single player level

Earn 3 gems in a single player level

Gotta Catch ‘Em All – 30gs – Earn all available gems in a single player world

Earn all available gems in a single player world

Diamonds Are Forever – 70gs – Complete the single player game and collect all available gems

Complete the single player game and collect all available gems
World 1: Green Valley

World 2: Desert Plains

World 3: Snow City

World 4: Lava Land

Out of the Shire – 20gs – Collect the Mega Coin from Green Valley in single player

Collect the Mega Coin from Green Valley in single player

Sankara Coin – 30gs – Collect the Mega Coin from Desert Plains in single player

Collect the Mega Coin from Desert Plains in single player

Fargo’s Millions – 40gs – Collect the Mega Coin from Snow City in single player

Collect the Mega Coin from Snow City in single player

Out of the Furnace – 50gs – Collect the Mega Coin from Lava Land in single player

Collect the Mega Coin from Lava Land in single player

Saving for a Rainy Day – 30gs – Bank a total of 10,000 coins in single player

Bank a total of 10,000 coins in single player

Money Can’t Buy Me Love – 70gs – Bank a total of 50,000 coins in single player

Bank a total of 50,000 coins in single player

Easy Money! – 80gs – Bank a total of 100,000 coins in single player

Bank a total of 100,000 coins in single player

Die Broke – 10gs – Die without collecting a single coin in single player

Die without collecting a single coin in single player
This achievement is a bit tricky at first, but once you understand, it’s cake.
Start a brand new single player. Now go to level 1-1 and DON’T TOUCH A SINGLE COIN! Find something that will hurt you and let it damage you three times, carefully avoiding any coins. If you die without touching a coin, you will get the achievement!

I’d Like to Make a Deposit – 30gs – Bank 1000 coins in a single bank in single player

Bank 1000 coins in a single bank in single player

Smashed it with Mike – 50gs – Complete the single player game with Mike

Complete the single player game with Mike

Smashed it with Steph – 50gs – Complete the single player game with Steph

Complete the single player game with Steph

Smashed it with Chunk – 50gs – Complete the single player game with Chunk

Complete the single player game with Chunk

Smashed it with Mouth – 50gs – Complete the single player game with Mouth

Complete the single player game with Mouth

Smashed it with Data – 50gs – Complete the single player game with Data

Complete the single player game with Data

Road Runner – Beep Beep! – 70gs – Complete the single player game within 30 mins

Complete the single player game within 30 mins

Not Today – 80gs – Complete the single player game without using any continues or retries

Complete the single player game without using any continues or retries

Smashed it with Robot Unicorn – 60gs – Complete the single player game with Robot Unicorn

Complete the single player game with Robot Unicorn. This is a secret achievement.
To unlock Robot Unicorn, you must beat the game AND collect all of the gems in a play-through. Then beat the game again with Robot Unicorn and you’re all set!

Achievement Guide: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
GWENT RELATED
Card Collector – 15gs – Acquire all gwent cards available in the base version of the game.

Gwent: Velen Players :: If you want to actually play the Baron you must do so before starting Return to Crookback Bog. Once the Baron leaves for Downwarren there are no more chances to talk to him. If you don’t play him, you can go back to Crow’s Perch and the Unique card will be available for free in his room.

Gwent Master – 15gs – Defeat Tybalt and win the gwent tournament held at the Passiflora.
Geralt and Friends – 15gs – Win a round of gwent using only neutral cards.
All In – 15gs – Play three hero cards in one round of gwent and win the match.
COMBAT RELATED
The Enemy of My Enemy – 15gs – Use the Axii Sign to force one opponent to kill another. Do this 20 times.

You must invest in level 2 of Axii in the Skill Tree and then use the alternate version (IE Hold down RT) against an enemy on a group. Humans, Drowners, and basic enemy. Then let them kill as many of their friends as they can. Repeat until achievement is unlocked.

Humpty Dumpty – 15gs – Kill 10 opponents by knocking them off somewhere high with the Aard Sign.

Devil’s Pit, Skillage as a lot of high ground and bandits will constantly respawn here.

Environmentally Unfriendly – 15gs – Kill 50 opponents using the environment (e.g. swamp gas, insects or objects).
Kaer Morhen Trained – 15gs – Perform 10 effective counterattacks in a row without getting hit or parrying.

Get into a fight with only 1 sword armed enemy. You need to time your LT parry for just as the enemy swings at you. You can NOT just hold down LT to parry, you need to do the timed parry so that you hit them back.

Can’t Touch This! – 15gs – Kill 5 foes in a fight without taking damage (except for Toxicity) and without using the Quen Sign.

There are quite a few 5 foe or higher battles. Where I got it was a battlefield type encounter during the Return to Crookback Bog quest with the Baron. It contained a lot of people on my side and against my side and I simply moved from enemy to enemy that were already engaged with other people and finished them off with Igni. Other options are waiting until you have upgraded your Signs and a Igni combined with Dragon’s Dream can do a LOT of damage to a LOT of enemies quickly.

That Is the Evilest Thing – 15gs – Ignite the gas produced by a Dragon’s Dream bomb using a burning opponent. Do this 10 times.

Set up is to find or buy the Dragon’s Dream bomb. Make some and equip them to your RB button. Then find some lower level enemies and use Igni to light them on fire and then immediately throw a Dragon’s Bomb on them. You get 2 bombs at a time and then you can Meditate with some strong alcohol to refill your Dragon’s Dreams.

Butcher of Blaviken – 30gs – Kill at least 5 opponents in under 10 seconds.

The absolute easiest place for this is at the end of the Lilac and Gooseberries quest line in White Orcard. You will have a tavern brawl with 5 enemies. It’s a very close range fight against fairly low level enemies. Throw out a Igni Sign and then slash them down.

Brawler – 30gs – Defeat Olaf, the Skellige champion of unarmed combat.
Overkill – 30gs – Make an opponent suffer from bleeding, poisoning and burning simultaneously. Do this 10 times.
Master Marksman – 15gs – Kill 50 human and nonhuman opponents by striking them in the head with a crossbow bolt.
Fire in the Hole – 15gs – Destroy 10 monster nests using bombs.
Fist of the South Star – 15gs – Defeat an opponent in a fistfight without taking any damage.

There is a series of quests called the Fists of Fury which are 1 on 1 hand to hand. Your two options are to parry/counterattack or just dodge out of the way of getting hit. Then go to town with hits until they block or dodge themselves. Then back off and wait for their next swing. Besides the Fists of Fury quests (which start at Crow’s Perch in Velen) there will be other 1 on 1 fights in various quests.

Even Odds – 30gs – Kill 2 monsters you have a contract on without using Signs, potions, mutagens, oils or bombs.

A lot harder than it sounds. The Contract monsters are a LOT harder than your everyday creatures you run into. To make this easier hang on to some contracts until you are several levels higher. Better swords and putting some points into the straight up sword combat tree will help also. You can eat food but make sure you have no mutagens in your tree and no oil on your swords.

Triple Threat – 15gs – Kill 3 opponents in one fight using 3 different methods (swords, bombs, crossbow, Signs, etc.). {Secret}

Quite simply do as asked. Make sure that 3 kills are from different means. Bombs, Swords, Crossbow, Signs. Lots of options.

What Was That? – 15gs – Attack, Counter, cast a Sign and throw a bomb (in any order) in under 4 seconds. {Secret}

You need to Counterattack (not parry), Attack, Use a Sign, and Use a Bomb within 5 seconds. Find a single enemy with a basic sword, counter, fast attack, Sign and then throw a bomb. Make sure to create a bomb and equip it before the battle.

STORY RELATED
Lilac and Gooseberries – 15gs – Find Yennefer of Vengerberg. {Secret}

You will get this automatically at the end of the Lilac and Gooseberries quest as you finish off the first area White Orchard.

Friends with Benefits – 15gs – Complete the subplot involving Keira Metz. {Secret}

This is a series of Secondary Quests in Velen. As you progress through one of the Main Quests – Wandering in the Dark. At the very end Keira will ask you to help her find a Magic Lamp. Make sure you DO help her and complete the very quick Secondary Quest – Magic Lamp. Then at the very end of Wandering in the Dark Keira will ask you for help via the An Invitation from Keira Metz. You will then do 3 quests in a row for Keira. The Tower of Mice, A Favor For A Friend & For The Advancement of Learning. Bonus, if you are nice to Keira you will get your first sex scene. At the end of The Advancement of Learning you have the option to send Keira to Kaer Morhen helping with the Full Crew achievement.

Family Counselor – 15gs – Find the baron’s wife and daughter. {Secret}

Velen – You will get this when you complete the Family Matters quest.

A Friend in Need – 15gs – Find and free Dandelion. {Secret}
Necromancer – 15gs – Help Yennefer extract information from Skjall’s body. {Secret}
Something More – 15gs – Find Ciri. {Secret}
Xenonaut – 15gs – Visit Tir na Lia and convince Ge’els to betray Eredin. {Secret}
The King is Dead – 30gs – Defeat Eredin. {Secret}
Kingmaker – 15gs – Complete the subplot about choosing Skellige’s ruler. {Secret}
Assassin of Kings – 15gs – Take part in the assassination of King Radovid. {Secret}
Full Crew – 15gs – Bring all possible allies to Kaer Morhen for the battle against the Hunt. {Secret}

1) In Velen do the entire sequence of Keira Metz’s quests and at the end you can send her to Kaer Morhen. Be nice to her. See Friends with Benefits achievement for more information.
2) In Velen start the Secondary Quest The Fall of the House Reardon. This will lead you to your friends Letho. Complete his one quest Ghosts of the Past. At the end tell him to head to Kaer Morhen.

Geralt: The Professional – 15gs – Complete all witcher contracts.
Passed the Trial – 15gs – Finish the game on any difficulty.
Ran the Gauntlet – 30gs – Finish the game on the “Blood and Broken Bones!” or “Death March!” difficulty levels.
Walked the Path – 65gs – Finish the game on the “Death March!” difficulty level.
MISC RELATED
Globetrotter – 15gs – Discover 100 fast travel points.

There are 10 signposts in White Orchard, the game’s first area, just to give you an idea of how big the later regions become.

Pest Control – 30gs – Destroy all monster nests in the Velen / Novigrad region, or in Skellige.
Let’s Cook! – 15gs – Learn 12 potion formulae.

You will get formulae as quest rewards and also from finding them as loot. You really want to fully explore and loot all chests at all the “?” markers on the map.

Bombardier – 15gs – Collect the formulae for 6 different bomb types.
Bookworm – 15gs – Read 30 books, journals or other documents.

Every letter and note you pick up will go into your Usable Items or Quest Items Inventory. Make sure to open your inventory up and use A to read everything you find.

Armed and Dangerous – 30gs – Find and equip all the elements of one set of witcher gear.

The first Witcher Set you can get will be the Griffin Set. The quest line starts in Velen at the top left of the map in Lornruk just above Blackbourgh. After finding all the diagrams you will need to make all 6 items and put them on to get the achievement.

Power Overwhelming – 15gs – Have all possible Place of Power bonuses active at the same time.

There are 5 Place of Power statues in the first area White Orchard. You will need to discover them via the “?” on the map. The following video shows all 5 and a path to get them.

Dendrologist – 15gs – Acquire all the Abilities in one tree.

Brawl Master – 15gs – Complete all fistfighting quests in Velen, Skellige and Novigrad.

Velen – Starts at Crow’s Perch at the Notice Board. There are 3 starter enemies and then a champion to beat.

Fast and Furious – 15gs – Win all the horse races in the game.

Velen – Starts at Crow’s Perch at the Notice Board. Three races to win. Just make sure to save some stamina for a final push over the finish line.

Munchkin – 65gs – Reach character development level 35.

This is high. EXP flows very slowly in the Witcher 3. This is going to take a lot of invested time.

Mutant – 15gs – Fill all mutagen slots.

The last Mutagen slot unlocks at level 28.

Shrieker – 15gs – Complete the contract on the shrieker. {Secret}

The Shrieker contract starts in Velen at the Crow’s Perch Notice Board.

Fearless Vampire Slayer – 15gs – Complete the contract on Sarasti. {Secret}
Woodland Spirit – 15gs – Complete the contract on the Woodland Spirit. {Secret}
Fiend or Foe? – 15gs – Complete the contract on Morvudd. {Secret}
Ashes to Ashes – 15gs – Complete the contract on Therazane. {Secret}
The Doppler Effect – 15gs – Resolve the doppler problem in Novigrad. {Secret}

Review: Thomas was Alone

Thomas was Alone
alonebox
Cost
$9.99
Format
Digital
Size
465 MB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, PS3, Wii U, Windows, PS Vita, iOS, Android
Release Date
11/21/2014
Developer
Curve Studios
Publisher
Curve Digital
Modes
Single PLayer

Thomas was alone… what a strange title for a video game. When I first heard this name, I instantly assumed it was an indie game, which I often truly enjoy. And on top of that, I thought it was probably an exploration game. I thought of Journey. Or maybe a first-person exploration game like the upcoming “Everyone’s Gone to Rapture”. I certainly wasn’t thinking about a narrative side-scrolling platforming puzzle game with rectangles. But that’s exactly what Thomas was alone is. It’s a puzzle game with clever ideas, but not enough substance.

The basic explanation of the game is that there are multiple different rectangles that you can control. At first you just start out with one, and the goal is to get to the end of the level. About every five levels the game introduces another rectangle to the mix. Each rectangle is different in color and size. The player controls the rectangles like a platformer, pressing a button to switch between each rectangle on the fly. Each rectangle moves at different speeds and jumps at different heights. In the world the only pitfalls are things like water and spikes.

The first three rectangles don’t vary enough. They are just different sizes and height which makes for some very boring puzzles. Early on the answers to the puzzles were all far too similar. One rectangle can jump extremely high; the other can barely jump at all. So use the one rectangle as a stepping stool and the short rectangle jumps slowly up like a staircase. It’s boring and not creative at all. Eventually there are more rectangles that join the party and they switch things up much more. There’s a HUGE rectangle that can float and be like a boat for the others. And there’s another long flat rectangle that acts like a trampoline and launches the others in the air. The puzzles get slightly more interesting once these rectangles come into fruition.

Now strangely enough, each rectangle has a name and personality. This is where one of my major complaints comes into play. I love character driven games. I love a game that has personality. I love dialog between characters and character development. And Thomas is Alone tackles a lot of these ideas. However I believe they fall very short. The characters in this game are little rectangles. That’s right, the rectangles that you use to jump around and float and climb are actually characters in the game. Yet they have no faces, no expression, no voice, nothing that helps them stand out other than their size and color. Thomas is red, Chris is short and orange, John is tall and yellow, Claire is big and blue, and so on and so forth. These characters are developed and have personality, but for me, it was so hard to let these little rectangles effect me emotionally in any way. Think of the game “Threes”. It‘s a simple card puzzle game based on numbers. If Threes could have existed before video games, it would be similar to Sudoku, with just simple numbers. Numbers are just numbers; they have no life at all. But since Threes is a video game, it can do much more. In a simple yet brilliant design move, each of the numbers in Threes has a face, voice, expression, and character. It’s a small touch. But when you create the number 48 and it’s a little bucktoothed face that says, “Hey Guys!” it instantly make the game have so much more emotion and life. I laugh every time I can’t figure out my next move and I hear one of them sigh and say, “I’m booored”. Why couldn’t Thomas was Alone have this type of detail? Thomas is supposed to be a light-hearted rectangle who just wants friends. And Chris is kind of a jerk who doesn’t like anyone at first. So how about giving Thomas a happy go lucky grin and as he moves along why can’t Chris squint his eyes and look at him with disdain as he jumps over his head? I know we can use our imagination. But this is a video game. The possibilities are endless. Don’t restrict the game in such a way that it takes away from the experience. I know that the developer put time and effort into wanting to create characters that developed and grew on each other as time went by. And this could have been pulled off so much better if these little guys weren’t simply quadrilaterals without a face.

The way that the story told is through a narrator. The narrator talks for the characters themselves, knowing their feelings and thoughts. The characters never talk to one another. This I don’t have a problem with, I like this move. Let’s say in this world that these little rectangles can’t talk, but they still have motives, thoughts, ideas, and emotions. I would have liked it if we could just see these emotions. It’s hard to really care about anyone when they are just shapes with colors. Plus, the narrator in my opinion gets extremely irritating. He’s a British narrator, and when he just talks normally it sounds fine. But when he tries to be funny, by changing the complexion of his voice or talking fast or things like that, he sounds extremely annoying and not funny at all. I would have preferred if the game was entirely in text over hearing the narrator’s aggravating voice.

The puzzles themselves are far too easy in the early goings. Until “Claire” is introduced, the game is entirely about jumping and climbing only. And Claire manages to change that just slightly, as now the game is more jumping and climbing, just with Claire’s floating ability thrown in there. The puzzles’ difficulty does heighten to some degree with the trampoline rectangle, Laura. But the game just takes too long to get interesting in its puzzles. And still, the puzzles are unexciting and not creative. The goal is always to just get to the end. And the way to get there always involved jumping on each other, pressing buttons, and not falling in water. There are a few levels that really take advantage of the different rectangles abilities and make for a bit of fun, but those levels are much too rare.

The graphics in Thomas is Alone are as simple as can be. I mentioned earlier about how I feel the characters could have used more personality, emotion, etc. The game is far too bland and lifeless. It’s really just a game with a bunch of squares and rectangles; it looks like an unfinished prototype.

Overall Thomas is Alone is a game that disappoints me on multiple levels. It’s visually ugly, the narrator is obnoxious, and the level design is uninspired. I want to care about the story and the characters, but the way the story is presented and the fact that the main characters are emotionless rectangles makes it just so hard to stay invested. Thomas should have stayed alone, away from the consumer, until the game was much more polished and filled with more life, meaning, and personality.

PROS:
1) Interesting character dynamics

CONS:
1) Characters fleshed out in strange way
2) Uninteresting level design
3) Too easy difficulty
4) Ugly graphics
5) Annoying Narrator

4.4
Poor

 

Review: Toren

Toren
psstore_toren_w160
Cost
$9.99
Format
Digital
Size
4.91 GB
Available On
PS4 [Reviewed], PC
Release Date
5/12/15
Developer
Sword Tales
Publisher
Versus Evil
Modes
Single Player


Sword Tales a little known Brazilian indie developer brings you its first foray into computer games with Toren. A very spiritual, imaginative title with action, puzzles, platforming and sights to behold.

Toren

Toren

You play as Moonchild a girl that is seemingly destined to learn from her mistakes and discover herself as she explores and climbs the tower known as Toren. As you ascend the tower you find yourself solving mostly simple puzzles, fighting monsters and discovering new weapons and abilities in dream sequences to make you stronger and better equipped in your quest. Many people likened this game to the hugely popular Ico and Shadow of Colossus games. Having never played either I went into this game not knowing what to expect. Graphically, while not at the level you’d expect of next gen, it’s by no means horrible either and some of the design is really impressive and you can’t help but think with a little more polish this could have been a real gem. The scale of the game did impress me though and this was reflected in the game’s size. A soft soundtrack accompanies Toren and the game tells its story with both on screen text and in Moonchild’s actions themselves.

The Life Tree

The Life Tree

Overall it’s quite a short game, I completed the main story in little over an hour and with no difficulty levels to choose from any deaths were solely my own fault. In fact the game was an ideal length in my opinion. Playing through I did miss three trophies on my way to the 100%, Enlightenment, Little Monk and Dark Knight. The first focuses on completing the life tree which you do as you enter the dream world through various shrines dotted through your travels. I however missed a few on my initial run through, luckily you can use chapter select to get what you miss. The other two are for collecting a mask and upgrading your sword both done by backtracking. So if you pay attention and check areas thoroughly you will be OK. Additionally the North American version stacks (separate trophy list) with the European one so so for all you trophy hoarders (guilty as charged) this is a nice way to boost your count.

PROS:
1) Quick and easy
2) Impressive size and style

CONS:
1) No skippable cutscenes
2) Lack of polish on look

7.0
GOOD

 

Review: Lifeless Planet

Lifeless Planet
box_lifelessplanet_w160
Cost
$19.99
Format
Digital
Size
1.11 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
5/13/15
Developer
Stage 2 Studios
Publisher
Stage 2 Studios
Modes
Single Player

Lifeless Planet is a 3rd person adventure game made by Stage 2 Studios. It tells the tale of a astronaut who has crashed landed on a remote planet and his harrowing tale of trying to get back to Earth alive.

You could also describe Lifeless Planet as a walking and jumping simulator with an occasional repetitive puzzle thrown in at random intervals. When I say walking and jumping I mean you will spend roughly 90% of this four hour game simply maneuvering yourself to the next puzzle. And puzzle is meant in it’s loosed terminology. Typically you are either moving a bomb to blow open a path forward or you are using a robotic arm to move some alien material from the ground to the power area. The robotic arm’s sections put you into a first person view where your job is simply to grab a space rock and move it about 2 feet higher. I was ok with this in the context that the space rock must be highly dangerous to touch, but not 2 minutes later you’ll have to start scouring the area to find these rocks and carry them to the activators. So you carry this rock to the base and then need to use a robotic arm to move the rock the final foot and a half higher.

Jumping is aided by having a jet pack that gives you a little extra boost to get to the next platform. Quite often you will come to these large platform areas where the jumps are 4x as large. The process is always the same. Find a canister of super jetpack boost juice and then start jumping. You’ll know your done because your super jetpack boost juice will just suddenly run out. Always at the exact second you’ve made your last jump. There is no sense of danger, of having to get the jumps exactly right because if you need it, the boost will always be there until you don’t need it any more.

Lifeless Planet suffers from the same problem as a lot of ID@ games in that you get a flood of new abilities and puzzles in the first half of the game and then they realize they still need about 2 more hours of content and it’s all copy/paste for the final half. To be honest at that 2 hour mark I was ready for this game to be done. But it just keeps going having you do the same things again and again.

This is about as exciting the environment gets

This is about as exciting the environment gets

The story is a convoluted mess to say the least. It’s all played out in a combination of voiceovers and recorded messages all delivered in the most boring monotone you can imagine. Your character embarked on this space mission, which took 15 years by the way, to get away from Earth because he lost his wife. But then it ends up he didn’t lose his wife and now he wants to get back to Earth because he suddenly remembers how much he loved Earth. And let me tell you no matter how much you hate Earth, you’re going to miss it pretty quick with the boring landscape monotonous landscape of this mystery planet. Plus the Russians got there first, but they did it through some portal they found so a big thanks to the Russians because we spent 15 f-ing years in a spacecraft and they just walked through some space portal. Then don’t forget the space alien chick that I can’t decide if she’s just some manifestation of your wife or a real alien and if she is trying to help or actually hinder you. It really just becomes a big huge mess. I won’t even get into the let down of the finale because I don’t want to spoil it but if you don’t stop and go What The F please send me a message explaining why that’s a good ending and why it makes sense in any way, shape or form.

There are collectibles in the form of messages and recorded audio tracks. But there are also minerals to find. Not strange space rocks mind you, Earth minerals. So as you are running out of oxygen and being chased by some alien it’s important to go WAY off the main path so that you can find some coal and reminisce about how Earth has coal too.

Graphically the game is great. Your space suit is highly detailed and the surrounding areas are smooth and clear of graphical defects. It’s actually pretty amazing how well the ground areas are rendered. I never had a single incident of clipping in my playthrough and my astronaut only got caught in a dead jump zone once where I had to reset checkpoint and frankly I was WAY WAY WAY off course when it happened.

This is considered the Premier Edition of Lifeless Planet. One of the big additions to Premiere Edition is that they recorded a whole series of Audio Logs in Russian, but I still need to read the PDA log to understand what is going on so it seems like a low priority addition when maybe some more exiting gameplay elements could of been added instead. For $20 there is just too little going on in Lifeless Planet to justify playing the game.

PROS:
1) No glitches
2) Decent graphics with no clipping issues

CONS:
1) Boring repetitive gameplay
2) Insane hard to follow story
3) Boring voice actors

4.5
POOR

 

Review: Project Root

Project Root
Cost
$9.99 / £7.99
Format
Digital only
Size
0.76GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, PS Vita
Release Date
04/29/15
Developer
OPQAM
Publisher
Reverb Triple XP
Modes
Single player

The Xbox One is a little light in the field of SHMUPS, which isn’t right. Everyone needs more SHMUPS in their gaming life, that’s just a fact. Project Root, Developed by Opqam is described as an open world, over-head shooter, with countless enemies swarming your ship in true SHMUP fashion.

In Project Root you play as pilot Lance Rockport piloting the F-72 Zonda, trying to overturn an evil doing energy company, Prometheus Corp. That is pretty much all I can tell you about the story. If there was any voice overs or some sort of cut scenes to watch, it would probably be a bit more engaging, but reading page after page of a conversation really isn’t my thing.

Wall after wall of text

Wall after wall of text

During each mission you get little pop ups in the corner of the screen with an image of who is talking and tiny, tiny words…which you are supposed to read whilst keeping the enemy ships at bay. The one time I did stop to read what was going on, I died. Which sent me back to the beginning of the level, all my earned XP lost and 20+ minutes of tediously going from objective to objective to destroy this and that having to be done over again.

The enemies you face are split between different aircraft that spew tonnes of bullets and rockets at you from every direction and ground forces that pretty much do the same. There’s a cursor in front of your ship at all times showing you where your ground attacks will land, which helps gauge where you are aiming. I found myself just holding down the LT and RT (ground attack and normal attack) for the whole mission and doing a lot of spinning to hit the flying enemies that tend to circle you. To say I got a bit dizzy at times is an understatement. I don’t think I played it for more than 45 minutes at a time without needing a break.

The game is split into 8 missions of increasing difficulty and length. Each mission consists of several main objectives which are shown in the HUD at the top left and several secondary objectives. They will task you with finding out what strange signals are, destroying a certain building, going somewhere else, destroying another building, going somewhere else…you get my drift.

For each level you start with 2 lives. Sometimes enemies or building will leave behind an extra life for you when you destroy them, but it seems to be random. Like I mentioned above, if you lose all your lives, you lose all progress for that mission and have to start over. Towards the end of the game this can be extremely frustrating. I spent close to half an hour slowly plodding through a mission I had already failed once only to be killed right at the end. Granted, I’m not the greatest SHMUP gamer in the world but with the game being so tedious it is very difficult to want to go through the same mission all over again.

If you're like me, you'll be seeing this screen...a lot.

If you’re like me, you’ll be seeing this screen…a lot.

Your ship starts with hardly any speed, power or armour and is pretty much as useful as a paper airplane, but it can be upgraded. You can upgrade the ships speed, handling, standard and special weapons, airframe and defense. The only way to upgrade these attributes is with XP which is earned from completing missions. If you fail the mission, you lose all earned XP. Anything you can destroy has a potential to drop power-ups in the shape of Homing Missiles, Rocket Packs, Laser Beams and Disruptors (my personal favourite). Without the power-ups the game would be extremely difficult and keeping Disruptors available for the tougher enemies that fire a million and one bullets at you is certainly recommended.

The Disruptor at work.

The Disruptor at work.

My biggest gripe with Project Root is most definitely the invincible enemies that appear. On countless occasions I would be firing at a ship that would get stuck in a wall. Fair enough, that can happen sometimes, but you can’t hit said ship but they can hit you and if you need to destroy all enemies to continue on the mission, you have to restart because you can’t fire through mountains. If it happened once in a blue moon you could overlook it. But it doesn’t.

Regarding the achievements for Project Root, they are very straightforward. The majority of them will come for just completing the game. Although, you will have to play through all the missions 3 times (once on each difficulty) as for some strange reason, the achievements do not stack. All in all, if you can overcome the boredom and frustrating glitches the completion isn’t a difficult one.

Project Root had me excited. SHMUPS are fast, fun and exciting games to play that keep you on the edge of your seat trying to keep up with the frenetic gameplay. Unfortunately Project Root just doesn’t deliver. It’s slow paced, no checkpoint gameplay left me bored and uninterested. Add into the mix the poorly executed XP system and the glitches giving enemies invincibility and it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

PROS:
1) It’s a SHMUP

CONS:
1) Boring gameplay
2) No checkpoints
3) Invincible enemies stuck in walls
4) A story impossible to follow

4.8
POOR

 

Review: Nom Nom Galaxy

Nom Nom Galaxy
psstore_nomnomgalaxy_w160
Cost
$14.99 / £11.49
Format
Digital
Size
439.9 MB
Available On
PS4 [Reviewed]
Release Date
5/12/15 (NA) / 5/13/15 (EU)
Developer
Double Eleven
Publisher
Q-Games
Modes
Single Player & Co-op

Double Eleven bring to you the latest installment of the pixel junk series, Nom Nom Galaxy. The cutesy graphics and playful nature so familiar in their previous games returns with new features thrown into the mix.

You play Astro Worker, an employee of SoupCo a galactic company tasked with making and sending the best tasting soup all around the galaxy. Your boss Robo-Shaco tasks you with looking for various ingredients that will please any and all of their hungry customers.

At the start-up menu you have various options but the core of the game consists of 3 modes. Corporate Conquest which is primarily the single player mode but also allows other players join you in building the best soup factory there is. Another mode similar in nature to co-op is S.O.O.P which allows you and another player to play a previously completed planet but without any regulations or restrictions. Finally Challenge mode which rotates on a 2 day (48 hour) clock where you can compete for the best scores in race, combat, sales and split screen co-op.

The menu

The menu

So lets break down the modes. Corporate Conquest is where you will spend the majority of your time. You start off in Soupcon Valley which at the start has 5 worlds. Selling and/or completing said worlds opens the gravlock which allows you access to another galaxy with more worlds to explore and mix new soups. The main aim is simple; reach 100% sales against a rival soup maker. As you send soup so does this rival and whoever reaches max sales first wins. If you are doing well the rival will send employees to put a stop to your success and ultimately your game if given the chance. To start a factory you must build an office. Without this the factory doesn’t run and this is what must be protected. Luckily you can purchase turrets and eventually robot security to fend off such attacks.

The deadliest of all the Soups

The deadliest of all the Soups

The co-op I managed to test myself which I can confirm is not a PVP style but fully team based, Clicking the quick join option I was put into a game already in progess, another player had built some of his factory already. While it was fun and added more to the mode knowing you had human help rather than the AI this experience was riddled with input lag, button commands following through onscreen 1-2 seconds after. Additionally there were some long pauses in this mode where the game looked like it had crashed only for it to continue after. Hopefully this will improve once the game is fully released.

Lastly challenge mode, as stated there is a constant refresh of said challenges every 2 days. In this time you can compete for medals in 4 different categories, after which the game will rank you on either bronze, silver, gold and elite. When the challenge expires and you go back into this mode you will be rewarded. I managed to get 2 elite entries on my first attempt and received a choice of 6 boxes to chose 5 prizes from. These were gums that act as temporary powerups to be used in Corporate Conquest.

Challenge Mode

Challenge Mode

Trophy wise nothing looks too difficult, time consuming maybe. Culinary Arts Award requires you to unlock all astro pins and while these are simple enough ranging from tasks like harvesting certain ingredients there are 75 pins which will take a while. Luckily the game has a lot of planets for you to try and get 100% market success on so ample opportunity to work on this. The game also allows you to check which pins you have and your progress toward the next.

Summary –
A game with elements such as side scrolling, resource management and tower defense seemed a bit daunting at first along with the many different factory machinery options but after playing the 2 tutorial levels and diving right into the main campaign you quickly realise these all fit perfectly with each other and how best to manage each different world and how you can be successful on it. The addictive nature of trying to make a better factory on the next planet had me hooked and eager to see what the next one brought.

PROS:
1) Great visuals
2) Funky soundtrack
3) Multiple game styles mixed into one

CONS:
1) A lot to take in
2) No Vita version
3) 2 controllers required for couch co-op

8.2
EXCELLENT

 

Review: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight
Cost
$14.99 / £11.99
Format
Digital
Size
0.24 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita
Release Date
04/29/15
Developer
Yacht Club Games
Publisher
Yacht Club Games
Modes
Single Player

Shovel Knight is a 2-D side scrolling platformer with an 8-bit visual style developed by Indie Developers Yacht Club Games. You play as Shovel Knight, a courageous, heroic Knight on a quest to stop the evil Enchantress and save his soul mate Shield Knight. Throughout the epic quest, you have to fight your way through the Knights of The Order of No Quarter, with each Knight having a unique style of attack for you to deal with.

screen_09One of Mole Knight’s more annoying attacks

Shovel Knights main weapon is obviously his Shovel Blade. You can use it to dig up treasure, pogo stick it to break blocks, damage enemies or even get to a higher ledge as well as swinging it for a normal melee attack.

As you progress further into the game you get to meet an interesting guy called Chester. He’s a shop owner of sorts and can provide you with Relics to enhance your capabilities, be it a fire rod that shoots balls of fire or the mobile gear to use as a ride on for spikes and running over enemies. Every use of a relic does take magic points though (which can be upgraded for a price, along with your HP), so you need to use them wisely.

screen_16Gone fishin’

Treasure plays a huge part in the game. Pretty much everything (with the exception of a couple of HP upgrades) is bought using treasure you pick up along the way, so you need to make sure you keep an eye out for those gems. Along with Relics there are also some Shovel Blade and Armour upgrades which can be bought for a pretty penny to further enhance Shovel Knights abilities.

Each level consists of several checkpoints, which if you so choose, you can break for extra treasure. If you decide to do this, the checkpoint is no longer valid and should you die in the level, you go back to the beginning or the last checkpoint you left unscathed. When you die during a level, and you will die…a lot, you’ll leave behind three bags of treasure (a percentage of your current treasure on hand) which can be picked back up on your way through the level. If you’re particularly bad at a certain part of the level you can quickly lose a fair chunk of your savings if you aren’t able to grab up your dropped treasure.

At the end of every level you get a boss fight. This is where this game truly shines. Each boss fight is unique. To win, you have to approach each one with a different strategy from the one before. When I first started playing Shovel Knight I would get so overwhelmed by the difficulty of the bosses, but with some practice I figured out the patterns and took advantage of them. Because they are so well done, you get a sense of accomplishment for beating the level bosses, especially if you don’t die.

Even though the game doesn’t have graphics that blow you away, there is a real charm about the 8-bit style they went with. The colours are vibrant and the environments sets the scene perfectly for each stage. Yacht Club Games also did a great job on the soundtrack. Did you ever play Super Mario on the SNES or Sonic on the Genesis for a few hours and then find yourself humming the soundtrack? This is how it goes with Shovel Knight, at least for me it did.

After you beat each level you go back to the world map which is quite reminiscent of the map from Super Mario Bros 3. You have flashing Q’s representing levels you have yet to conquer and Shovel Knights face on the levels you have cleared. Also on the world map you have access to two towns where you go to buy your upgrades. Along your way through the game you will encounter travellers that move around your map (again, just like in super mario bros 3), that serve as boss fights that reward you with extra treasure should you defeat them.

screen_10Takes me back to my childhood seeing a map like this!

Something which is hard to get away from is the sheer frustration that can build up with some of the enemies, especially later on in the game. In one of the later levels there are these flying green guys that have a fan on their back and their sole purpose is to make your life hell. They tend to turn up just when you are jumping over a gap, so you jump, they fly over to you and push you back…right into the pit you were skillfully avoiding. If you are like me and you play it over and over, you will learn the pattern of the enemies and they won’t bother you as much because you expect them, but still, very frustrating.

Onto the achievements! Shovel Knight can be really stingy with the points. I’ve clocked up about 27 hours worth of gameplay and I am currently sitting at 590GS for the game. There are a lot of zero point achievements which are off set by bigger valued achievements for the more end game ones like completing it without dying. You’ll have to clock in a finished time of less than one hour thirty to nab the speed run achievement and play through without buying anything too, so completionists, beware.

When you beat the game you get the option to start a new game plus which sets you at the beginning of the game with all your upgrades and gear intact and the enemies doing more damage. This really adds replayability to a game that can be cleared in about an hour and twenty minutes if you know what you are doing.

I’m most certainly all for Indie Developers. I’ve lost count how many times I have sprung to the defence of the vast quantity of Indie games being released on the Xbox One only to fall on deaf ears. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, I get that. What we have in Shovel Knight is a prime example of why Indie Developers should be given the opportunity to showcase their work on the Xbox One.

Even though Shovel Knight is a short lived experience, I enjoyed every minute of it and I played through it again and again and again…and I still want to go back for more. There are moments of sheer frustration, but Shovel Knight has too much to offer to walk away from it. There’s even a secret boss level where you fight against the three Battletoads! If you enjoy platformers and you haven’t already played Shovel Knight, do yourself a favour and right that wrong.

PROS:
1)One of the best platformers on the Xbox One to date
2)Great Sound track and visuals
3)Unique boss battles
CONS:
1)Can become overly frustrating
2)Not enough Shovel Knight!
8.8
EXCELLENT

 

Review: Slice Zombies for Kinect

Slice Zombies for Kinect
box_slicezombies_w160
Cost
$9.99
Format
Digital
Size
211.84 MB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
5/8/15
Developer
MADE
Publisher
MADE
Modes
Single Player

Slice Zombies is a Kinect only game developed and published by Made for the Xbox ONE. Think Fruit Ninja and replace the fruit with zombies and you know what Slice Zombie is all about.

Slice Zombies contains one game mode. You have to survive 1:10 slicing zombies, zombie hands and coins while avoiding bombs. You start with 3 lives and you lose one for every bomb you slice or zombie you miss. Zombie hands give a point bonus when sliced and the coins are used to buy power-ups you gain access to while you level up. You can change basic things like the background or the trail of your slicing. There are also actually helpful powerups like an extra life or activating new zombie hands to slice that do everything from spawning more coins to healing back a lost life. There are quite a few things to unlock in the game’s 21 levels of play and you almost level up too fast. It seems after every other game there is a new zombie or something else to buy and you unlock things a lot faster than you are going to earn the coins you need to buy them.

The art is comical and highly detailed and Slice Zombie’s music has a nice carnival type theme to it. There are quite a few different zombies you will be hacking at with several different launch patterns which adds some nice variety to the game. Later in the game you unlock stunt zombies that float up on balloon to pop. There is a fat zombies that you can earn extra points by hitting multiple times. Getting to the 1:10 mark is not a simple task in the beginning. There are typically a LOT of bombs on the screen at once and it takes some getting used to to start learning the varies patterns you are going to see. As you level up you’ll unlock permanent powerups like starting with an Extra Life and things like high value coins.

Since it’s a single player game you need to get pretty close to the Kinect for you to be able to cover the whole screen. The game does a good job of giving you a straight down the middle line to base yourself on before every game and the tracking of your hands is above average. Issues arose in navigating the menus. It’s seems to be on a whole different tracking scheme. A quick email to the developer and MADE let me know I needed to hold my hand still and kind of off to the side and it would typically pop up for control pretty quick. Most Kinect games you can utilize the controller in menus which frankly with how Kinect works as a whole is a option I ALWAYS use but for Slice Zombie the controller is only good for dashboarding. MADE also pointed out that you can use the Xbox voice controls for “xbox play” and “xbox back”.

I usually don’t talk too much about achievements in a game because that’s a narrower target audience and I try to play games that I will like, not games I can 1000. But for those of you who are achievement hunters Slice Zombie is a very good price to time invested ratio. The full 1000 is easily obtainable in a single day and the list is mostly slice this many hands or heads. The longest achievement is for

Including a tutorial on Kinect tracking for Slice Zombies would of really helped the learning curve but once I figured out the secret to getting tracked properly I never had another issue. I’ll be honest that I’d hoped there would be more than one game mode to play and some form of multiplayer, be it at the same time or a back and forth mode to spice up the offering. Slice Zombies has all the guts of a nice, fun little Kinect game but it falls short do the lacking of any real long term playability.

PROS:
1) Fun little game
2) Art and music
3) Once you figure it out good Kinect tracking

CONS:
1) No Kinect instructions
2) No controller support in menus
3) Only 1 game mode

6.9
AVERAGE