Review: Sparkle Unleashed

Sparkle Unleashed
box_sparkleunleashed_w160
Cost
$7.99/th>
Format
Digital
Size
242.44 MB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
6/3/15
Developer
10tons
Publisher
10tons
Modes
Single Player

Sparkle Unleashed from 10tons is like Zuma; or Zuma is like Sparkle Unleashed. I don’t know which came first or if it even matters. Sparkle Unleashed is a marble triple matching puzzle game. Marbles come at you in a long row and you need to shoot marbles into the mix, creating matches, before the line passes you by and you lose. There are a 107 of these levels to complete.

I’ll be honest and say when I heard this was coming out my first thought was, “This is going to be a crappy Zuma clone. Play for 5 minutes and then trash it a quick review and move on.” But I was wrong. It’s not going to win any game of the year awards (unless there is a Marble Puzzle Game Monthly and if there is please forward me the subscription information), but when you think it’s going to be a 1 trick pony and the pony actually does 3 or 4 tricks, well your expectations just got blown up by 400%!

Shoot those marbles!

Shoot those marbles!

The graphics are exactly what I thought they would be. The marbles are nice and shiny but the backgrounds are dull and static. The music is standard puzzle fare, not something I plan to load up into my iPod and jam out to at the gym. There is a story to all this and it is fully voiced. The story pops up every few levels and is your standard puzzle storyline, something happens to the world and your only hope of fixing it is to shoot marbles!

Every time you complete a series of levels you earn a power-up. Cool things like Fireballs to destroy random marbles and things that will change marble colors for you. The best is that there is a actual tech tree and these upgrades are by your choice instead of just handed out at arbitrary times. There are 6 different paths and 3 upgrades to earn in each path. How you earn the power-ups in game is when you make several matches in a row a power-up will appear. You then need to shoot it to activate it. This adds another level of strategy to as to when you are going to activate a power-up and also that fact that whatever you shoot at it disappears. So if you are on a combo run and a particular color isn’t going to benefit you, you can shoot it at a power-up to get a new option.

Power-ups as far as the eye can see

Power-ups as far as the eye can see

I am color blind and typically these match 3 games are a pain to figure out. For me especially the green versus yellow marbles. Sparkle Unleashed luckily has a color blind option and the quality of it is impressive. It adds a symbol over all the marbles that is really high quality. I can see a lot of people using this as their default view as it really makes the different marbles pop.

Sparkle Unleashed is a game that is great to just start it up and play a few levels at a time and at a $8 price point it get a recommend from me.

PROS:
1) Lots and lots of puzzles
2) Color blind option

CONS:
1) Graphics are a little dated

7.0
Good

 

Review: SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig
box_steamworlddig_w160
Cost
$9.99
Format
Digital
Size
241.05 MB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, Steam, 3DS, Vita, Wii U
Release Date
6/5/15
Developer
Image & Form
Publisher
Image & Form
Modes
Single Player

SteamWorld Dig is a platformer by Image & Form that presents itself in a mining game style. The game almost entirely does take place in a series of mines and you do dig a lot but instead of crafting together some new gadget deep in the mines everything is brought back to town and simply sold off for money which you then turn around and spend on new upgrades. Things like longer lasting lights and faster and more dangerous pickaxes.

Some of the MANY upgrades

Some of the MANY upgrades

This is a randomly generated world and the exact location of ore and things like that are completely random to your playthrough. The game plays out over a series of mining shafts, each one going deeper than the last, where your job is to get loot and work your way down through a series of challenge caves. There are 3 main caves per level that provide basic starter upgrades like the ability to run and double jump. There are also a series of challenge caves that provide smaller puzzle environments that reward you with orbs and ore when you complete them.

Overall there are around 10 different enemies that you will encounter. Ranging from small beetles that only move in a set pattern in a set area to explosive drones that seek you out. It’s a nice range or types all with different styles of attack and defense. Nothing jumps out as; wow what an amazing concept for a enemy, all of them have their place and unique abilities.

One of the cool things in SteamWorld Dig is the escalation of speed. The further you go down the mine shafts the harder the ground gets to break up, BUT With some good upgrading and use of your abilities you start to cut through the rock like its not even there. What was once a chore to move your way down starts to feel like a hot knife cutting through butter. This is especially prevalent if you go back to the first area from one of the later stages of the game.

The graphics are very well done. Kind of a 16-bit engine with all the shiny abilities of the ONE thrown on top. Not over the top like a lot of “retro” games are doing, just a nice clean look that is perfect for the game. Kind of a retro robot steampunk. It is called SteamWorld after all.

Gameplay

Gameplay

One of my biggest complaints of all of these dig style games is that it’s fun to work your way down, but always a pain in the ass to get back up. SteamWorld Dig solves this problem with a series of placed teleporters that shoot you back and forth to the surface. A extremely nice addition. On top of that you can purchase unlimited personal teleporters. (One at a time only). These are permanently placed just about anywhere in the world. The kicker is they cost orbs which are a rare resource. Get a little too teleporter happy though and you’ll lock yourself out of some upgrades as the number of orbs in the world is a set number.

A thing to note is the game only saves when you go back to town. So a death in the mine is considered a game over, with a money penalty and load back into town with who knows how much progress lost. It’s important to not only think of town as a place to unload loot and get upgrades but as your one and only save point!

One thing that disappointed me was the opening tutorial was a nicely laid out story mode with interaction with other characters that made me think this was going to have a nice in depth story to go with it. Unfortunately as soon as you get to town everyone turns into a standard merchant NPC and your interaction with them for the entire rest of the game is simply a few lines here or there about what you are up to. It was a let down to see so much promise of story go down the drain so fast.

Town is slowly growing

Town is slowly growing

The overall game is not that long and can be beaten in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. Which there is a achievement for doing that. In fact each playthrough is rated on 4 criteria. You are trying for 0 deaths, over 20k in loot cashed in, over 150 orbs found and doing the whole thing in under 2:30. There is definitely a speed run type mentality to this game with how fast can you clear the areas and with how few upgrades. And although there is a lot of loot, you will really need to scour the entire game and all the bonus caves to get everything unlocked.

Overall SteamWorld Dig is a lot of fun to play. It would of been nice to see the story more filled out but the gameplay and graphics are top notch. Being a single player game it is a little on the short side with a average run probably taking 3 or so hours but the randomly generated worlds give it a fresh feel each time and speed run type gameplay give you something to keep coming back for. For the $10 price tag I fully recommend it.

PROS:
1) Graphics
2) Randomly generated worlds give it more replay value
3) Gameplay is tight

CONS:
1) Short
2) Story is abandoned quickly

8.2
Excellent

 

Achievement Guide: Steamworld Dig

Fully Loaded – 50gs – Maximise all upgrades.

This is definitely missable. The tough part about this is the amount of Orbs you need. The portal teleporters are 3 orbs each and it’s easy to just keep buying one every time you get to town but be careful you don’t over spend as the top level items can cost 10+ orbs each and most of the minable orbs you find will be 3 orbs.

So the big things to think about are:
1) Deaths cost money. Don’t die.
2) Rebuyables like Ladders, Lamps, Health reloads and Teleporters can eat into your money fast if you don’t keep spending in check.

There is some extra loot out there, but not a whole lot.

You need all of the following items fully upgraded:
– Pickaxe (including both the speed/damage type upgrades and also the base copper/diamond pickaxe style)
– Lantern
– Water Tank
– Drill
– Steam Punch
– Armor

Two Kinds of People – 50gs – Complete the game with more than 20000 gold collected in total.

You can see your total every time you turn in ore in town. 20,000 is past max level but she will still let you know how much you have turned in.

Quicker Than a Tumbleweed – 50gs – Complete the game in less than 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Shine on, You Crazy Round Thing – 50gs – Complete the game with more than 150 orbs collected in total.
Just Like Real Life – 50gs – Complete the game without getting killed once.

This one is actually pretty easy if you know the cheat. The game only saves in town or when you acknowledge a death. So when the death screen comes up, just go to your Xbox Home screen and hit Start and choose End Game. Then reboot in and you’ll be at the last save before you died.

Master Prospector – 200gs – Get all four gold stars in the same playthrough.

This achievement is for doing all 4 of the other ending achievements in one run. 20k gold, 150 orbs, no deaths and under 2 hours 30 minutes.
1) Skip hunting for Ore in the first area Archaea, the value is next to nothing.
2) Blast through the main 3 caves and get to Old World asap and only come back for challenge caves when you have some upgrades.
3) Know where your water is! This is super important. Remembering water near a teleporter or main entrance can save you huge amounts of time.
4) Ignore requests to go to town. These conversations are not needed to continue on to the next cave.
5) Hit B to skip all conversations. Time is money so just ignore any talks. Including the ones in the opening tutorial. Just head over to the get the Pickaxe immediately.

It’s a Secret to Everybody – 50gs – Find all secret areas in the caves.

There are a total of 19 secrets throughout the all 3 areas. The video shows all 19 in the order you will probably be able to get them as some require upgrades and you’ll have to return to previous areas
#1 – Archaea – Cave III – 157m
#2 and 3 – Archaea – Cave I – 32m – Need Dynamite to do this early which is also required for the Sequence Breaker achievement.
#4 thru 7 – Old World – Cave III – 415m – Sequence Breaker 2 cave
#8 – Old World – Cave 80 Proof – 306m
#9 – Old World – Cave II – 334m
#10 thru 12 – Vectron – Cave I – 603m
#13 thru 16 – Vectron – Cave II – 690m
#17 – Vectron – Cave with 7 Bulb Light Above It – 788m
#18 – Vectron – Cave with 3 Light Strip – 859m
#19 – Vectron – Final Cave

Rock Bottom – 50gs – Reach the bottom of the world.

The lowest you can go is 871m deep in Vectron. Just run along the bottom and the achievement will pop.

Sequence Breaker – 50gs – Destroy two generators before entering Vectron.

This is missable. How you are supposed to do it is get to Vectron and then get the Double Jump, BUT you can do it before then by the old Quake Rocket Jump, except with Dynamite. The two caves in question are Cave 1 in Archaea and Cave 3 of Old World. Exact walkthrough is in the video below but generally you place the dynamite and then jump right before the explosion to send yourself straight up.

Turtle Soup, Yum! – 50gs – Defeat a turtle submerged in water.

The turtles are the large shelled creatures that shoot out spikes. They always move towards you even if it means falling so you can lead them to water. The easiest location is the first Cave but you need Dynamite unlocked to get it early. This is the in same area as the generator for Sequence Breaker.

Scratching the Surface – 50gs – You found Archaea! (Secret)

This is story related and the first achievement you will earn in the game.

Mythical Creatures – 50gs -You found the Old World! (Secret)

This is story related and gotten when you get to world 2. Old World. This is the bottom Cave of the first area Archaea.

It Goes Deeper!? – 50gs – You found Vectron! (Secret)

This is story related and achieved when you get to the bottom of Old World and discover Vectron.

Assimilated – 200gs – Immortalisation of a destructible steambot. (Secret)

This is story related and the last story achievement. This is for beating the final boss. Have all other playthrough achievements you want completed before entering the final cave.

Review: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
box_witcher3wildhunt_w160
Cost
$59.99
Format
Retail and Digital
Size
25.42 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, PC
Release Date
5/19/15
Developer
CD Projekt RED
Publisher
Warner Bro
Modes
Single Player

Witcher 3 is a 3rd person action RPG from CD Projekt RED. In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt you play Geralt a Witcher. This means it’s your job to hunt down rare and dangerous monsters in the world, well at least as long as someone is paying you to do it.

If you are a true completionist then prepare for the long haul. Ideally you already live in your mom’s basement and she is willing to bring you Funyuns on a moments notice because this game is PACKED. It’s hard to describe the shear scope of the game. Games keep talking about making bigger and bigger maps but then they fail to fill them with anything enjoyable to do. Not so with The Witcher 3. There are quests and activities in every nook and cranny of this game. I’m 67 hours into it and not only am I not getting bored but I don’t even feel like I’m halfway done. These are not just go fetch me a crate quests, everything has cutscenes and decisions and you feel like what you did before this moment has helped define what you are doing now and why you are doing it.

Just a small portion of one of the maps

Just a small portion of one of the maps

The combat is very satisfying and very much skill based. Every creature has very specific attacks, defenses and weaknesses. It’s extremely important to make use of all your abilities and a player who is familiar with dodging and parrying during combat can defeat a much higher level opponent through pure skill. Although a monster may be able to 1 hit kill you, the fact that if you use the right equipment with the right Signs you could still win that battle and I really enjoy that aspect of trying to take on a really hard fight and managing to win.

Let’s talk about everything you have at your disposal during a battle. You have 2 swords, one for humans and one for monsters. You have five magical abilities, your Signs, and for me two of these really stood out as amazing. Igni, which is your fire attack, is amazing in battle against 90% of enemies. Burn damage is massive and it creates a stagger effect on enemies allowing you to add on attacks. The other beast Sign is Axii. This is a mind attack. On basic monsters and humans you can stun them in place or even convince them to attack their friends. Against monsters it’s a nice slow down effect. The remaining three are Quen, a shield, Aard, a telekinetic blast and Yrden a trap spell. They all have their places in the game and all are useful.

Toe to toe with a Griffin

Toe to toe with a Griffin

This leads us to Alchemy. Alchemy brings us bombs to throw, potions to take, oils to add to your swords for bonuses and decoctions which are monster specific bonuses. The Alchemy system is both a strength and a weakness. I applaud them for creating this entire system of bonus potions and oils but it’s almost too complex. I fight my first Griffin and get a Alchemy item that allows me to create a potion so that the next time I fight a Griffin I’ll have a little bit of an advantage. They vary but usually something like I do 10% more damage to Griffins. That sounds great doesn’t it! The problem is I also have to find the recipe to actually make the potion, and then I need to find the rest of the ingredients that will make the potion. Then I need to actually find another Griffin to fight and make sure I apply the potion and the oil and the decotition and it just becomes a LOT of work for a minor bonus. I could spend hours getting all the parts and making the items and only ever fight 1 more Griffin the entire game.

On the flip side, if I really want to do all that Alchemy work then the Skills Tree just adds and adds and adds bonuses. There is a skill called Refreshment that at max skill level heals 25% of HP on each potion use. So not only get the potion’s benefits, but also do a major heal. There are a load of skills that do a load of great things. But don’t think you are just going to get every skill and be a god among men. First off you get 1 skill point per level and levels do not come easy. Experience is really earned in the Witcher 3 and it take a lot of time to develop your character. Then there is the fact that abilities are only helping you if you place them in active slots on your character of which there are only a few places.

So you’ve made all these potions and just used them in battle against a Rock Golem. Do we have to search the land for more ingredients to replenish our stock? NO. You Meditate. When you meditate in Witcher 3: Wild Hunt you replenish all your bombs, potions, etc (and heal on anything but the highest difficulty) for the cost of just 1 alcohol. Yes, if you have a beer in your inventory when you Meditate you get everything back. 1 beer equals 3 bombs, 2 potions and whatever else you used up to this point. It’s a pretty big stretch immersion wise and meditate’s story problems don’t stop there. The process is, Geralt sits down wherever he might be and you select how much time will pass. Meditate is also used to speed up time if you need to meet someone at a specific time. Like it’s mid morning and your contact only shows up at Midnight. So I select 6 hours to pass. As I sit down there is a dwarf walking in front of me. Now I get up 6 in-game hours later and that dwarf is exactly where he was when I sat down right in stride. NPCs that would arrive or leave during that time do so, but anyone who is valid for the full range doesn’t appear to have passed any time at all. Just a immersion problem.

Game looks amazing

Game looks amazing

There is a full card game to play also called Gwent. Apparently its only the rage with merchants and traders as they are willing to play with you but no one on the street seems interested. It’s a valid sales strategy that they are willing to demo a game they want to sell you cards for but it’s reach so far appears to be Barons and Witchers. It’s a fun little game that carries the major problem with any game made to be simple. There is no cost to play a card so the game is just about getting the best, most powerful cards which in itself is probably the longest and most time consuming quest in the game.

The problems on the Witcher 3 are minor annoyances that really only come up because the game is so huge you are bound to find things that just don’t feel right to you. Swimming in 3rd person games is one of my top pet peeves in the world and Geralt is just as bad a swimmer as every other game in the history of the world. Getting out of the water is a insanely frustrating exercise where you the player are trying to figure out what 1×1 pixel on the shoreline that CD Projekt RED wants you to get out at.

Overall CD Projekt RED has made an amazing game where even a straight main quest only playthrough is going to net you a LOT of content. Try to take in everything, and that time played counter is going to skyrocket. All of the game’s issues are cosmetic and Witcher 3 has one of the most advanced and varied combat systems I’ve played in a while.

PROS:
1) So much to do
2) Great varied combat
3) Great story, great acting

CONS:
1) Swimming
2) Mediate as a game mechanic seems not quite done

10
Perfection

 

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Mad Money Making Tips!

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

We’ve found two pretty awesome money making tips for the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The first can be done immediately in White Orchard and makes you some decent cash for little effort. The second one can be done when you get to Novigrad and makes some MAD cash for pretty much no work. Read up on these options below:

MAD COW MONEY

As you enter the main town after crossing Woesong Bridge there are 2 cows to the left in a small fenced in area. Use Igni to kill both cows and loot them. They may have nothing, they may have meat or cow’s milk or if you are lucky they have cow hides. Cow hides sell directly to vendors for 24 to 50 orens each depending on the vendor. The real trick here is to kill the 2 cows and then move to the side of the area. Face away from the where the cows spawn and then mediate for 1 hour. 2 more cows! Continue until you get bored. The local Merchant doesn’t have a lot of cash on him but there are plenty more around the area and any little bit of case is good at this point.

SHELLY SHELLS SEA SHELLS BY THE SEA SHORE

NOTE: This has been patched out of the PC version. Still works on consoles as of 5/22/15.
At the Heirarch Center in Novigrad there is a Merchant in front of some fish that will sell you unlimited Shells and Sea Shells for 7. Buy out his stock and the back out to the Show me your wares screen and you go can right back in and buy more Shells. You then take them to the Armorer who is about 10 feet away and Dismantle them into Pearls and Black Pearls that sell for over a 100. You are only limited by the amount of Oren the Armorer has to buy the Shells with. You can Meditate for 7 full days so he gets more cash, or as I do just hold on the Pearls and sell them to any Armorers or Blacksmiths you run into. Alternately you can travel to the Loan Shark by the Oxenfurt Gate. He only has about 1000 Orens at a time, BUT it is instantly replenished when you back out to the choice menu and come back in!

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Witcher Gear Set Guide

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

There are 3 main sets of Witcher Gear in the Witcher 3. Griffin, Cat and Bear. And then each of those sets have 3 extra levels of upgrades to find and craft. Enhanced, Superior and Mastercrafted. Here are our guides to starting these quests and then crafting and upgrading each set.

GRIFFIN
STANDARD

This video shows you were to find all the diagrams for the Griffin Witcher Gear Set. All the pieces are found in Velen. To start you begin it at the top of a peninsula in Velen at Lornruk. It’s above Blackbough. There is a chest with the first diagram above the room and then you also need a journal from climbing the tower to the top.
Level Requirements: Swords – 7 | Armor – 8


ENHANCED

All of the Enhanced upgrades can be found in various locations around Velen. There is no quest to help you locate these pieces you just need to find them in the world. Here is our video showing all 6 locations.
Level Requirements: Swords – 14 | Armor – 15

SUPERIOR

Level Requirements: Swords – 22 | Armor – 23

MASTERCRAFTED

Level Requirements: Swords – 30 | Armor – 31

CAT
STANDARD
BEAR
STANDARD

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Bestiary Guide

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Here is our list for the weaknesses of various enemies in Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

BEASTS

Bears :: Beast Oil, Quen
Dogs :: Beast Oil
Wolves :: Beast Oil

CURSED ONES

Bersekers :: Devil’s Pufball {Bomb}, Cursed Oil, Quen, Igni
Botchlings :: Cursed Oil, Axii
Ulfhedinn :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Devil’s Puffball {Bomb}, Cursed Oil, Igni
Werewolves :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Devil’s Puffball {Bomb}, Cursed Oil, Igni

DRACONIDS

Basilisks :: Golden Oracle {Potion}, Grapeshot {Bomb}, Draconid Oil, Aard
Cockatrices :: Grapeshot {Bomb}, Draconid Oil, Aard
Shrieker :: Grapeshot {Bomb}, Draconid Oil, Aard
Wyverns :: Golden Oracle {Potion}, Grapeshot {Bomb}, Draconid Oil, Aard

ELEMENTA

Gargoyles :: Dimeritium Bomb, Elementa Oil, Quen
Golems :: Dimeritium Bomb, Elementa Oil
Hounds of the Wild Hunt :: Dimeritium Bomb, Elementa Oil, Igni, Quen

HYBRIDS

Griffins :: Grapeshot {Bomb}, Hybrid Oil, Aard
Harpies :: Grapeshot {Bomb}, Hybrid Oil, Aard

INSECTOIDS

Endrega warriors :: Golden Oracle {Potion}, Insectoid Oil
Endrega workers :: Golden Oracle {Potion}, Insectoid Oil

NECROPHAGES

Alghouls :: Necrophage Oil, Quen
Drowners :: Necrophage Oil, Igni
Foglets :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Necrophage Oil, Quen
Ghouls :: Necrophage Oil
Grave hags :: Black Blood {Potion}, Necrophage Oil, Yrden, Quen
Mourntart :: Black Blood {Potion}, Necrophage Oil, Yrden, Quen
Rotfiends :: Necrophage Oil, Necrophage Oil, Yrden, Quen
Water hags :: Northern Wind {Bomb},

OGROIDS

Nekkers :: Northern Wind {Bomb}, Ogroids Oil

RELICTS

Crones :: Relicts Oil, Quen
Fiends :: Samum {Bomb}, Devil’s Puffball {Bomb}, Relict Oil
Godlings :: PEACEFUL

SPECTERS

Devil by the Well :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Specter Oil, Yrden
Jenny O’ the Woods :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Specter Oil, Yrden
Nightwraiths :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Specter Oil, Yrden
Noonwraiths :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Specter Oil, Yrden
Plague Maidens :: Specter Oil, Yrden
Wraiths :: Moon Dust {Bomb}, Specter Oil, Yrden, Quen

VAMPIRES

Ekimmaras :: Devil’s Puffball {Bomb}, Vampire Oil, Igni
Higher Vampires :: Vampire Oil, Igni

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: 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: 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