Saturday, May 4, 2019

Currently playing: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, Garden Paws, and The Caligula Effect: Overdose

I'm very bad about not finishing games I've started, so it's rare for me to write full final reviews of them. But I thought some kind of update post about games I'm currently spending a lot of time playing might be nice.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

I've heard so many good things about this series, but until recently, it was only ever available to play on systems I didn't own. I was very excited when I saw that a PC version was coming to Steam, even though the price was considerably higher than I tend to be comfortable paying for games.

I don't think I've managed to finish the first game in the trilogy yet, but I've made it through several cases, and I'm really enjoying it overall. It's structured to be part "collect items and question people" adventure game and part "pay attention and find the inconsistencies" logic game. The periods where you look at crime scenes and question witnesses/potential suspects can occasionally get tedious (during the case involving the murdered actor, there was a brief period where I seemed to be stuck, because I hadn't done whatever was required to get some new characters to suddenly appear), but the stories and characters are generally interesting.

During trials, there's an opportunity to fail: if you don't object at the right moments, or bring up the right piece of evidence at the right time, you're gradually penalized until your client is declared guilty. I haven't found the game's logic to be too difficult, however, and I like that you're allowed to press a witness without being penalized.

Just be aware that the story and characters can get a bit wacky.

Garden Paws

I picked this up during one of my "trying to find something similar to Stardew Valley, but different" efforts. If Stardew Valley's combat was an issue for you, you're in luck, because absolutely nothing in the world of Garden Paws will kill you, not even the bears. That said, although the NPCs will now occasionally chat with you (they used to not talk to player characters unless they needed something), in-game interactions aren't nearly as satisfying as those in Stardew Valley. There are no romanceable or even friendable NPCs here.

Still, I've put more than 40 hours into this game and am nowhere near tired of it. There are at least a couple hundred quests, lots of places to explore, treasure chests to find, and eventually museum collections to complete, and the developers are still adding new content. I haven't done much building yet, but that's my next goal, since I recently noticed that there are several islands that are too far away for me to get to using my favorite method of transportation, gliding.

The game still has a few issues - I had to turn off the animated grass because it was interfering with my ability to play the game, and I still worry that if I play for too many in-game days my computer will overheat. And I wouldn't recommend it to those who need games to have more to them than collecting items and exploring. But I've found that jumping in to play for a single in-game day (approximately 15-20 minutes depending on what you opt to do and how early you send your character to bed) is a nice way for me to wind down after work.

The Caligula Effect: Overdose

Another very expensive game, considering that most of what I buy is $20 or less. I really debated before buying this. The story sounded interesting enough, I liked the animated cutscenes, and turn-based battles seemed like a nice way for me to ease back into this sort of gaming. I tend to avoid games with actual combat, so this would be an unusual purchase for me.

Every review I looked at brought up the original release, which was apparently widely viewed as a failure. The general consensus seemed to be that Overdose (the original release was just The Caligula Effect) was an improvement over the original game, but that the new release still had problems, such as overly easy combat, a battle system that gets tedious a while, and way too many NPCs (more than 500!).

I've been playing it for about 4 hours now on the Normal difficulty setting, and while I'd agree with those who say that it's pretty easy, its easiness is part of its appeal for me. I'm slower on the uptake when it comes to figuring out battle strategies, and this game is, so far, super forgiving. We'll see how I feel once I take on my first big boss, but I just completed a battle against two enemies, one of whom was one level stronger than me and my companions and one of whom was 7 levels stronger, in only one attempt.

As far as the Causality Link aspect I haven't gotten far enough into it to unlock any quests yet, but so far I feel like the NPCs and the main characters efforts to "befriend" them are pretty weak.