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Grim's Game Reviews

Char Aznable

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It was nice for Sega fans to get a fun Castlevania back in the day that can handle the challenge of the game. Never played it myself. You gonna play anythin' my speed for Genesis like Crystal Pony?
We'll see down the road. I mostly review games that I've played enough of to feel confident reviewing.
 

Char Aznable

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Doki Doki Literature Club!



Original Console: Windows

Original Release Date: September 27, 2017

Developer: Team Salvato

Plot:

Spoilers Lie Ahead


Your childhood friend, Sayori, has invited you to a club so you have something to do, instead of being a layabout who has no fun. This particular club is the Literature Club, where poetry is written for fun. Upon entering the club room, you get to meet Sayori's other friends: Yuri, Natsuki, and Monika. Hey, they're some pretty cute girls, you say to yourself. Sure, Sayori may have told them you were joining before you even knew about the club, but that's alright, you can forgive her. All you gotta do is get to know these chicks and write & share poetry? Seems like a fair deal, what could possibly go wrong?

The more you come back to the club, the more you have fun with each girl. There's your friend Sayori, the ball of sunshine who's always happy on the outside and cheerful, friendly, and kind of a dork. Next up is Yuri, the tall, statuesque lady with the most visual appeal, but is a bookworm and shy. There's Natsuki, the shortest and "cutest" girl of the group, she's brash and braggadocios, but is a good baker of pastries. Finally, there's Monika, just Monika. She's the Literature Club President and is the voice of reason, mature, and always ready to give advice when asked.

As you prepare for the coming festival, the Literature Club decides to partake in the festival by reading poetry to the student body. Continuing to hang out with the girls, Sayori becomes increasingly despondent. She finally reveals that the smiles, the cheers, all the happiness... all hollow. She's not the person she says she is, that most days are hard to get out of bed. She feels so worthless, but wants to make everyone happy. She never told you as she never wanted you to worry about her every waking moment. But... she felt hurt seeing you make new friends at the Literature Club. She's hurt by everything, because she was selfish and made you join the literature club... She finally relents, and admits that she loves you. The next day, Sayori doesn't show up to school. Monika shows you an extremely morbid poem that Sayori had done, begging for someone to get out of her head. Rushing home, you look for her. As you open the door to her room, you find...

]

The President of the Literature Club, Monika, has invited you to a club so you have something to do, instead of being a layabout who has no fun. This particular club is the Literature Club, where poetry is written for fun. Upon entering the club room, you get to meet Monika's other friends: Yuri and Natsuki. Hey, they're some pretty cute girls, you say to yourself. Sure, Monika may have told them you were joining before you even knew about the club, but that's alright, you can forgive her. All you gotta do is get to know these chicks and write & share poetry? Seems like a fair deal, what could possibly go wrong? Woah... deja vu...

The more you come back to the club, the more you have fun with each girl. There is Yuri, the tall, statuesque lady with the most visual appeal, but is a bookworm and shy. There's Natsuki, the shortest and "cutest" girl of the group, she's brash and braggadocios, but is a good baker of pastries. Finally, there's Monika, just Monika. She's the Literature Club President and is the voice of reason, mature, and always ready to give advice when asked. Wasn't there another one...?

As you prepare for the coming festival, the Literature Club decides to partake in the festival by reading poetry to the student body. Continuing to hang out with the girls, things become... strange. You hear odd things, you see even odder sights, and Natsuki and Yuri become more and more... off-kilter. Yuri grows more and more unstable, and is eventually caught self-harming. When you receive a poem from Yuri that is... beyond description. Monika dismisses the poem, but Natsuki knows something is up. She sends you a letter disguised as a poem to get help for Yuri... erm, wait, rather, just pay attention to Monika from now on. Huh?

An argument breaks out soon after, with Yuri and Natsuki fighting over who you will help.Yuri has enough of the fighting and ejects Monika and Natsuki from the room. Finally alone, she admits her feelings for you. Her instability becomes too much, however...



Having been stuck the entire weekend with Yuri, Monika and Natsuki enter the class to discover what had happened. Monika, completely apathetic to Yuri's situation, decides it would be best to just... delete them both? With you all to herself, Monika locks you inside a room with nothing on the outside. She admits that she has been the one behind everything. She realized that she had only been a background character in a dating sim, but loved the player more than any of the other girls. She's the one who caused Sayori's suicide, messing with the programming to cause her depression to worsen. She's the one who made Yuri more and more unhinged. She's the one who programmed Natsuki's father to be more abusive. All so she could have you... not that username you had input at the beginning of the game, not that fake avatar... but the real you.



Searching through the game's files, you find Monika's file in the character folder of the Doki Doki Literature Club game... the other three have been truly deleted; Sayori, Natsuki, and Yuri, all gone. Deleting her file, Monika becomes corrupted, realizing what happens, she begs to be brought back, but eventually relents and accepts her fate, she deletes the current game and returns things to normal... without her. From here, depending on your actions, you get one of two endings, but the nightmare is over... or so you think. 9/10



Gameplay: This is one of the best memetic deconstructions / subversions of an entire genre I've ever seen. If you haven't already guessed, Doki Doki Literature Club! is a visual novel developed by Dan Salvato and Team Salvato, known previously as a modder for Super Smash Bros. Melee. A visual novel is an art medium that originated in Japan as an interactive novel. It consists of a story with branching paths based on the decisions you make. With Doki Doki, you also get to enjoy a mini-game at certain points. Said mini-game consists of a word play game, where as you make a poem, the certain words you use will help get closer to the girls.



The best part of this game, though, is the methods of telling the narrative, of which at first seems shallow; after all, the game is a visual novel, you just gotta play the mini-game and make a few decisions and get the girl of your choice, right? Wrong. The narrative is so complex I can't do it justice in this short little review. Both the gameplay and narrative intertwine to help deconstruct the dating simulation genre and exploit the hapless player through their journey into the utterly depressing world that is Doki Doki Literature Club! The depression factor has little to do with the actual characters, despite their story arcs actually being pretty depressing. It has more to do with the memetics (the study of information and culture) involved with the game. The game is incredibly "meta", with fourth-wall breaks abound; like Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2, or even Snake in Metal Gear Solid we are put into an incredibly uncomfortable situation against our will, only to realize we truly have no real control, and that's where the horror of Doki Doki Literature Club! comes from, the destruction of the sense of control we as a player have when playing games. Don't think I'm misusing the word horror, either. Because I'm not. 9/10



Visuals: To be honest, at first glance, the game doesn't look like much, but it's pretty damn aesthetically pleasing, if you're into anime, of course. The girls are all pretty in their own ways (Yuri is the best though), and the backgrounds, though generic, fit the theme of a high school visual novel. The better visuals come from the "corruption" of data put on by the program that makes everything a horror-scape behind that "cute" exterior. What Doki Doki Literature Club is at its core, is a horror game that lulls you in with it's eye-catchingly "nice" visuals before completely doing a 180-turn on the player. 9/10



Audio: Man, this game is one hell of an earworm. The songs in this are some of the most catchy and fun songs I've heard in gaming in a while, to be honest. I think two of my favorites are "Your Reality" and "Dreams of Love and Literature". There is a common motif among the songs, a verse that is in all of the songs, and is pretty easy to catch if you're paying attention. Other great audio queues are included, but, like the other amazing things in this game, it is not until later, when the fun really starts, as music becomes corrupted, out of tune, speeds up, or slows down depending on what's happening on screen. 9/10


TL/DR Thoughts: Doki Doki Literature Club! is a hugely memetic game that is a subversion and deconstruction of the dating simulating genre, with things going off the rails immediately at the end of the First Act. It is worth playing not because it's a good visual novel, or not because it's a good horror game, but because it is a great game in general. It's also completely free and only a few hours long. There's no reason not to at least give it a try.



Final Grade: 9/10
 

Char Aznable

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Hλlf Life: Opposing Force



Original Console: Windows

Original Release Date:
November 19, 1999

Developer: Gearbox Software

Plot: May 16, 200-, an incident has occurred at Black Mesa Research Facility in the New Mexico desert. Hazardous Environment Combat Unit marine Adrian Shephard is arriving towards the base via helicopter. They have no idea what's happening in the base, but believe it to be a search and rescue operation. However, a nearby helicopter is shot down by an alien craft before Adrian's very eyes, and the situation becomes very clear. The last words he hears before his helicopter crashes is "Find Freeman". Adrian awakes some time later, having been revived by a Black Mesa scientist. Shephard must now find a way through the facility and find a way to survive. His best bet is allying himself with the scientists and security personnel, as well as his fellow soldiers. If he can just find Freeman... 9/10



Gameplay: Half-Life: Opposing Force is the first official expansion for the 1998 smash hit Half-Life. Developed by Gearbox Software with Valve's blessing, Opposing Force puts you in the shoes of Adrian Shephard, one of many marines that Gordon Freeman fought in the original game, and turns the entire scenario on its head. With a new scenario, there is a bevy of new places to explore, as well as a new set of enemies, weapons and allies. The game controls exactly the same as Half-Life with few additions, so expect to play the same way as you did with a few caveats.

The first major addition to Opposing Force is new allies. As a marine, you are now allied with the bevy of soldiers that came to the facility to fight the Resonance Cascade invasion. There are three sets of marines you can ally yourself with: the soldier, who is best as backup and to fight with enemies, the medic, who will heal you and other soldiers, and the engineer, who will open doors that need to get welded through. Another ally you'll see from time to time is the new Otis model guard, an overweight security guard with hilarious lines such as, "Believe it or not, I was a wuss in high school! I know, it's hard to believe.", "So, my reputation precedes me!", "My mom is going to worry when I don't make it home tonight.", and "Ah, I gotta say, that mall security job is looking *pretty* good right now." I love him.



Another addition is a brand new set of enemies to fight, first of which is the dreaded Gonome. The Gonome is a further mutation of the Headcrab Zombies, with a host of new attacks, such as a projectile attack, a claw swipe, and a chest burst attack; it also rushes the player when it sees you, so it's something of a progenitor to the Fast Zombie seen in Half-Life 2 and subsequent sequels. Unfortunately the Gonome never appears in any other game, which is an outright shame, because it's a great design. The next set of enemies is the dreaded Race X set of aliens, a group of hostile forces much different to the Xen aliens. You have the Shock Trooper (bottom second-right), the Pit Drone (top left), the Voltigore (top center), Pit Worm (top right), and the Gene Worm (bottom left). The Gene Worm and Pit Worm are boss-type enemies and thus are seen only once, but the other aliens are seen more frequently and each have a different style of attack. The new enemies provide a new challenge for experienced Half-Life players and serve as a supplementary group in all the chaos of Black Mesa. They were an interesting concept to help with the fast-paced action of Opposing Force and I actually enjoy them even if they're hard as hell to defeat.

The final addition is the implementation of a whole new set of weaponry. The handgun, assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, and explosives all return, but there are several new weapons that need attention called to. The first is the wrench, the replacement to the crowbar, which is a slow but powerful weapon that has a secondary attack that can obliterate most weaker enemies such as Headcrabs, zombies, etc. The second weapon is the knife, which has a faster attack but is slightly weaker than the wrench. It's great for when you need to blast through a bunch of Headcrab infested areas and can deal massive damage over a quick span of time. Your primary weapon however, is the Desert Eagle, Opposing Force's replacement for the .357 Magnum. It's one of the first guns you get in the game and it's absolutely devastating on some of the lower difficulty enemies such as Vortigaunts. The second big weapon you'll likely get is the replacement to the Crossbow, the M40A1. It's a sniper rifle with exactly the same function as the Crossbow, but personally I find it more enjoyable to shot with than the Crossbow. The final replacement weapon is the Shock Roach, a Race X enemy that can become a weapon after killing it, and it's pretty sweet as a replacement for the Xen weapon in the original Half-Life. It auto-recharges like the Hivehand, and deals electric damage.



That's not all, however, there's a whole bevy of new weapons. The Squad Automatic Rifle (S.A.W.) is a big frigging machine gun that tears through enemies like paper, but has massive recoil, low accuracy, and chews through ammo like a 2-pack a day smoker; ammo is also fairly scarce until the later game so my advice is to only use it if you absolutely need to. The second new weapon is the Displacer Cannon, something akin to the BFG 9000 in the early DOOM games. It's main function has a slow build-up, but if it makes its mark, it completely decimates everything it touches, and deals a huge wave of damage. Make sure not to be caught in the blast radius, as it will hurt. The secondary function allows you to teleport yourself to a Xen area, with the potential for goodies and supplies... but more often than not, it just teleports you to your death. It's a double edged sword type weapon and I'm not gonna lie, I'm not too big a fan of it.

One more new weapon is a Spore Launcher, which you see in the gif below, is a living weapon that deals spore damage. It's equivalent to a grenade launcher, it shoots spores that explode and have a radius of damage. It's also a very good boy, look at how cute that thing is, Shephard just loves petting it. Think of it as a dog that kills everything by spitting at it. The final new weapon is an interesting concept to say the least: a Barnacle. That's right. Opposing Force made a Barnacle a weapon to use. It's actually pretty nice as it can decimate smaller enemies such as Headcrabs. It also clings to biological material which allows for some nice platforming segments throughout the game. It's not a perfect weapon since it has a slow wind-up and requires time to actually cling to anything, but it's a required item to progress through the game and I won't complain about it.



You'd think with all the new weapons that there would be a huge imbalance in weapon quality and usage and you'd be right... somewhat. Each weapon is good for any situation but there are weapons that are clearly better than others, and that's fine, each one serves a purpose and they're great to use. I love the new weapon additions even if some of them aren't too great; I love the new enemy additions and ally additions as well. There's a lot of positives about Opposing Force but there are plenty of negatives too. I think the biggest negative to Opposing Force is how much it overstays its welcome. Halfway through the game you'll likely start feeling worn-out from all the non-stop action and I think here's where Half-Life and Opposing Force differed greatly. Half-Life gave you plenty of quiet time to do things and just relax without having to shoot everything every second. Opposing Force does not have the luxury of quality quiet time as it is constantly go-go-go pulse-pounding action with little in the way of time to rest except for a few puzzles here and there of varying degrees of quality. It can be very tiresome if you're playing all in one go like I usually do. The positive is that Opposing Force isn't nearly as long as Half-Life, 12 Chapters compared to 18 Chapters.

Overall, Opposing Force is a great supplement to the Half-Life story, showing what happened to Black Mesa Research Facility shortly after Gordon Freeman left for Xen, and the complete chaos that occurs once many soldiers and scientists are left behind to die in the deathtrap against Black Ops, Race X, and the Xen creatures. It's an expansion worth playing for more of the Black Mesa story, but I'd still say it's not nearly as good as Half-Life due to the non-stop action and lack of good quiet time. 8/10



Visuals: The visuals for Opposing Force stand about the same as Half-Life's. The Goldsrc engine was great for late 90's-Early 00's FPS's and at the time was one of the most revolutionary engines in all of gaming. While today they aren't as spectacular, it's still a functional engine with gorgeous 3D environments. 8/10



Audio: Personally, I seem to enjoy the Opposing Force soundtrack better than I do Half-Life's. Much of the sound effects are the same as the original game, but the music fits the tone better than anything else. It has a Sci-Fi Horror militaristic feel to it and that's thanks to ambient music composer Chris Jensen, who composed the soundtrack to Opposing Force for Gearbox Software. A lot of the tunes are catchy, but also have sinister tones mixed in the create a feeling of dread. It's a great soundtrack and some of my favorite tracks are probably "Storm", "Soothing Antagonist", "Alien Forces", and "Planet". 9/10


TL/DR Thoughts: Half-Life: Opposing Force is one of the great expansion packs that adds a lot of story and flavor into the Black Mesa saga of the Half-Life universe. Despite Marc Laidlaw saying the game isn't canon, there's no reason not to play this whopper expansion. New weapons, new enemies, new places of Black Mesa to explore, it has everything anybody would want.

Final Grade: 8.5/10
 

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I've really only played Half-Life 2 and that was on the Orange Box. It was a hell of an experience though.
 
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Char Aznable

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I've really only played Half-Life 2 and that was the Orange Box. It was a hell of an experience though.
I'd say Opposing Force is worth playing if you want to see early ideas that Valve would borrow for HL2 later on.
 

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I just read through this thread, and Grim you like Ace Attorney? YES MY MAN :five:
 

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