Hey, all! At the close of the poll, the line jumper numbers are 41, 49, 25, 16, and 46 in that order. Following my order, that jumps from Founders Saga at entry 31 to the following below:
Grey Eyes of Death
Heroes Rise: The Hero Project
Heroes Rise: HeroFall
Heart of Battle
Creme de la Creme
These five (well, sort of) entries will jump up into the spaces behind Founders Saga: The Culling. Thanks for helping me celebrate a little on my progress. Closing in on 10% done. Be on the lookout for the next review a little bit later today!
Farm employees in cheap suits usher you into room after room, all in an attempt to make you look like you haven’t spent the last few weeks being tortured.
After they’re done, they slap a name tag on your chest and shuffle you off into the reception hall, a hall that is so unlike the rest of the building, that it threatens to give you whiplash.
Nothing feels quite as devastating as being introduced to a world you find interesting, but not being able to spend as much time as you want in it. Some titles end abruptly but you take some solace that you’ll see more of it before too long, especially when the end card itself promises it. How long is too long before assuming this is all you are getting?
The world has turned into a bloodsport business where the ruthless teams are brought up into a business world to either join an entrepreneurs team, or make one of their own. You are a competitor who must make it through the titular Culling, and attract the eyes of a patron.
The theme is hearty, and the world is vibrant. I really enjoyed my time in the Culling (which is a battle royale for employment), and even more so outside of it during the story. This game is Shadowrun-esque cyberpunk, with shades of Hunger Games. You are trying to draw attention to your skills, stand out and get hired. Afterwards, you get a view of what the companies actually ask you to do.
Format and Typos:
Readability is high. I didn’t notice any typos.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
You slowly build up your acumen with business, combat, and technology as you try to show off your skills to potential employers. You are viewed based on how ruthless you are, and whether you are a team player. Who takes notice of you depends on if they like your actions.
Low replayability, but that falls on two reasons. One, the title is very short and the ending only has a little bit of variability. What is there is good, but it was obviously a set up for future adventures. Two, it’s been seven years since this title was released and its final page promised more time spent in this world of literal cutthroat business and intrigue.
It’s very short, almost feeling like the demo provided in your standard Work-In-Progress.
Story seems to promise romance, but never really delivers beyond that promise.
There are some lore dumps where some alien concepts are talked about, but very little is described about them. This can work if you are trying to make something seem alien and arcane, but the story seemed to paint these things as known entities, so knowing what they look like would have been nice.
Even with how short the title is, I really got into the concept of the world and the possibilities it promised.
Writing was very descriptive, and the dialogue was serviceable.
Author was good at creating people you didn’t like but needed, and didn’t need but liked.
The soles of your gray running shoes touch the empty patches of yellow grass, carefully avoiding the fallen, brown leaves underneath the enormous trees surrounding you. A few remaining colorful, dried leaves still hang from their branches. You glance back at the black van. Its silver bumper hangs loosely on the concrete, covered with small chunks of rotting flesh. Thick, black flies buzz around it.
Clementine will remember that.
From the principal’s office to the capital city smack dab in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, you’ll follow the journey of your character and the groups they find themselves a part of. Can you survive zombies and the real monsters of the apocalypse? Your fellow humans.
This is a serviceable zombie apocalypse story that hits all of the common beats that you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read, watched or played the Walking Dead games. In fact, this reminded me mostly of the style and format of the Telltale Walking Dead titles. You will find yourself escaping from seemingly safe new locations, on the search for the next safest one while playing mentor to a young child and peacekeeper among adults.
This is absolutely worth a single read through in terms of quality, but you’ll know what you are getting from the start. I did enjoy the slightly more gritty take, like describing wounds and issues with them.
Format and Typos:
Low readability, in my opinion. Super dense pages, single-spaced after punctuation making it feel like a wall of text. Reported a couple of errors, coding and spelling.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
You don’t manage a lot in this title. You do have ammo and items, but most choices don’t say if they’ll use them. You just find out that you used two bullets and a bandage during a scene. There are a couple of clear instances of collecting items, but mostly you’ll just find your stat screen populated by changes you didn’t necessarily have control over.
This is an example of a book with little interactivity. You’ll follow the story of a character you name and dress, but don’t really do much other than decide major actions. These actions are impactful, but few and far between. Romantic options are present, limited in amount but good in content (if late payoff). Your personality is set, and any choice you make only seems to really impact your ending. There are quite a few different endings, but the path to them is slow. This isn’t a title I’d immediately try to replay after completing it, maybe something to come back to after your memory has faded a little bit.
A lot of text on each single page and the fact that it is single spaced after punctuation makes everything feel super dense. It was difficult to get into a flow reading.
So much space between each choice. Limited interactivity makes it depend on the story and theme, but zombie apocalypse is a road where all the leaves are trodden black.
Honestly, this game felt like it should have been at least two or three different titles with the amount of story you are given.
Well written, gritty realism.
Characters were likeable but flawed. You definitely do spend enough time with all of them to develop personal opinions on them.
I did like the way the epilogue was presented. It was creative and gave a decent summary of the choices you had made throughout the title.
I noticed you have the hero project duology far down the list from the initial heroes rise trilogy, and since the duology carries over your main character from the trilogy, I would suggest pulling it up so it goes right after
You force your legs to move and you sit in the nearest empty seat, which you hope doesn’t belong to someone more important. As you settle in, you try to will your heart to stop pounding in your chest because this is absolutely unreal.
Last month you didn’t even have your hero license and today you’re sitting at a Mission Control debrief led by Rebellion. It’s certainly enough to make your head spin….
This may not be the first story Choice of Games released, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the first story for a wide swath of their readership. Nostalgia paints lenses rose, but there is also a reason many people kept coming back.
You receive your hero license and begin to make your heroic rise. Fight ani-gangers, mentor a sidekick, and face your past.
Quite a bit of this story is ingrained in my memory, to the point where I could have reviewed the title without even opening it back up. Scenes are rapid-fire and well described, jumping to the next panel just like a comic book. It packs decent social commentary and a solid twist into what ends up feeling like a short story, but one that is densely packed enough with tropes and characters. I always appreciated that the story itself was self-contained and finished, even if you weren’t looking forward to the next release.
On the negative side, and this is something I only really came to see as I played more titles, it does feel very on rails. You get some customization of your character within the story, and sometimes the personality changes can offer up small differences, but you are here for a good story with some small interactivity.
Format and Typos:
Great readability, no typos as far as I can see. You may have some issues with the title itself including game mechanic explanations within the story, or you may not.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Opposed pairs track your personality and fighting ability, sometimes locking you out of specific choices if you’ve focused on a specific style. Staying in character will sometimes earn you legend points, which is an in-game fame tracker that can sometimes grant statistical bonuses like extra health, or money…
Taking this story by itself, I could expect to get maybe two playthroughs if you are willing to play characters with different genders or orientations. There are ‘two’ romance options, though one of them is more a promise for a future title. You’ll follow the same track each time.
Characters can sometimes feel impersonal if they are supposed to be friendly, weirdly. Villain characters (or characters you are supposed to dislike) are often more vivid.
Always unsure how I feel about having choices locked behind personality gates.
Honestly, I wish there had been more options than just Black Magic for the first title romances, or if there wasn’t, that they weren’t put in front of the character with a neon sign that said ‘This is your RO!’.
Nostalgia aside, this is a shorter title that reads quickly and smoothly but holds all the necessary information for you.
Stats are simple and not cumbersome. It was always easy to tell what I was testing or increasing.
There is something awesome about how the almost minimalistic way of describing combat and flying around captures the comic book panel feel, where unless it is important it isn’t in frame.
Too many different official links, so no announcement thread here! Thanks for reading.
“Today is the perfect day, one day before we rise to elect our new President. And two days before six of you will become this nation’s first roster of truly elite heroes. That’s what makes today the perfect day to end Culic’s reign of terror and begin the golden age of The American Protectorate.”
I remember staying home sick from school and watching The Price is Right. Surrounding that, depending on my energy to get out of bed and change the channel was Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and the Young and the Restless. TV is a long gone pastime for me, but I’m sure that reality shows like Big Brother would fill the same place in the entertainment realm.
In a world where superheroes are the superstars, you find yourself in a reality show to fight for a chance to join a premiering super team. Can you work the show, or will you get worked? Something is rotten behind the scenes… is fame worth the relationships you’ve built?
Sometimes it takes a bit to get a theme and style from an author. The first game in the series included a comic-book style minimalism and a little bit of dramatic flair. The second book starts to really be influenced by reality shows and soap opera dramas. You’ll notice that a lot of the choices are binary options, and in black and white. You either betray a friend or stick to them completely. Scenes are stages for overdramatic diatribes, or for pure hatred of the created villains.
This is something to consider in the evolution of style. Some people, like myself, really latched onto the comic book drama from the previous title, but drifted away from the reality TV tone shift. I’m sure others easily transmuted the minimalistic character-driven drama from the comic books to the soap opera styles. It also becomes more apparent that the author leans into the heavy X-men civil rights awareness vibes of “mutant = race and sexuality” and is beginning to thread this more heavily into dialogue and story.
Format and Typos:
Readability was high. I’m sure most of these titles have been gone through with hundreds of combs for typos and errors. I didn’t notice any.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Adding onto the previous title, there is an understandable addition of a few extra stats to the opposed pairs as you’ve gained a new ability (or at least become aware of it) since the end of The Prodigy. Stats that you can see are still easy to follow and understand. There is a bit of obfuscated issue with the reality tv show types like Hero, Villain, Ruthless, or Floater. These are all types that aren’t tracked in a way you can see, only referenced in the story. It can sometimes be difficult to understand what type applies to which option. Villain and ruthless seem difficult to parse, same with Hero or Loyal. The game likes to reference these for titles or impressions, and I don’t doubt you’ll find that without code diving, you’ll be referenced as a chameleon and someone who doesn’t make consistent choices.
Replayability is pretty high with the various options presented in the Hero Project. Romances expand by one, but are almost an afterthought. Expect them to pop up with only black-and-white choices most of the time.
It feels like more than half of the interactions with romance options are conflict-driven, and there are far too many ultimatums. You spend the entire time compromising, no one else does.
Shift in tone was a disappointment to me personally, but you can see the seeds of it in the previous title.
It often feels too difficult to follow the reality show archetypes without popping the code open.
Characters are still vibrant, and interesting.
Visible stats stay simple and easy to understand.
I really enjoyed The Crush’s dynamic and story arc in the title. He was the vehicle of some of the deeper moments in the title.
As you tear through the sky, all you can think is that everything you hold dear is on the line. Will you be able to free your allies? Will you save your parents in time and reunite your family? Will you finally topple President Victon’s regime? Will you succeed in becoming the kind of hero you’ve always known you could be?
Will you finally become a Legend?
Finales are hard to nail. You’ve got to balance tying everything together (if you don’t intend on using open threads), satisfying reader choice, and finishing out the story in a way that leaves everyone happy. Some endings can sour an otherwise perfect entry (looking at you, Mass Effect 3), some can feel like they fall flat as an ending in a neutral way, and others can leave you wanting more, but in a good way.
Archvillian teamup! Can you solve the mystery at the heart of your parents’ arrest with the assistance of your greatest superfoe? Along the way, you’ll find out who is truly your friend as you attempt to stop corruption at the highest level.
It feels like the second entry of the title was a bit of a jump from theme, as HeroFall rights itself back onto the course it had originally taken. Gone is the reality tv show, replaced once again with the dramatic comic book. You find yourself paired up with your archvillain (who may or may not be back from the dead) as you come to understand their path to their present. You fight against a totalitarian regime, while setting yourself up as a beacon of freedom or security.
This all works, especially because it isn’t something we haven’t seen before. Combat is great, and you get to feel powerful, which is super important for a super story.
Format and Typos:
High readability, and not typos as far as I could see.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
A few more stats added in as opposed pairs. The game now tracks what the wider world thinks of you and what you represent. Stats are simple and easy to follow once again. There are a few stats that accumulate over the course of the game to track how much you’ve worked towards honing your power use, and how much damage you’ve done towards Victon’s regime.
At a minimum, I could easily see three plays through the title if only for the various romance options. But you might find yourself a few more because of the differences in the epilogues based on your final choices in the title. There are two ‘new’ romance options added in the title, both basically being enemies-to-lovers.
You begin to notice the titles do the bare minimum to bring forward your past exploits at the start of the title, favoring interspersing them as you continue with it. It’s serviceable, but too often it feels like you are starting ‘fresh’ and then the game remembers.
The new Freedom/Security opposed pairs were too often tied to Lawless/Lawful, so you’d often find yourself with wildly swinging stats, to the point where your entire personality flipped over one title.
I found the Unleash and Control options here a little confusing. I know they are supposed to be tied to your old powers and new powers, but those opposed pairs still confused me a little bit.
Binary black and white choices make more sense personally in the comic book realm.
Prodigal’s story and arc is reason enough to play this title.
I really enjoyed the way recaps are handled, and how the epilogue is presented to you. This was a good ending to the story.
“This isn’t real peace,” you say. “It’s a false peace, a peace that can never last. Sooner or later, people will remember who they were before you took all that away from them.”
I still remember playing Dragon Age Origins when it was first released. I played every origin from Human to Dwarf to City Elf up until where the story converged with the Gray Wardens where you crossed the bridge into their camp at Ostagar. There was something amazing about seeing how different people could end up in the same place, and then see how the world reacted to who you were. It was amazing, as it hadn’t been a super common occurrence up until that point.
I ended up choosing a City Elf as my Warden, and this is the closest I’ve felt to that level of ownership of a character in quite a while.
As a member of one of four races, you find your hometown sacked by an army of the Queen. As her occupation settles in, you are tasked with smuggling out an artifact of your people and find yourself caught up in the machinations of four nations, and a struggle against the queen’s clockwork army. Do you stand resolute against her, or could you find yourself at her right hand if you play your cards right?
You’ll find yourself in the pursuit of completing not only your own quest, but you must try to balance helping your party members in their personal quests as well. Will you focus on trying to help the elves reclaim lost artifacts, breaking a cult-like stranglehold on the Thieves Guild, or maybe trying to help a dwarven friend write a song that will be remembered forever?
This all works, and it evokes both the BioWare days of old and tabletop gaming. You can easily imagine who among your D&D group would make each of these characters, and what their justification would be. There is a main goal (deal with the queen), but there is motivation for every other character and your actions can help or hinder them.
Dialogue works, and every single character evolves as the story progresses.
Format and Typos:
Readability is high, and I found very few typos in the text. However, I found a lot of errors in the code, the major culprit being a reversed positive or negative percentage.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Stats are fairly standard skills (by percentage) and opposed pairs. You create your character early on, and choose one major skill, one minor skill, and one weakness. There are rare opportunities to raise skills, and often it’s difficult to raise anything to meet a higher threshold… This becomes an issue because while every skill gets a chance to shine, it becomes obvious that Might and Charm might be the most two used skills and worth a focus if you are trying to ‘win’.
Quests, yours and your allies, are tracked as well. You might try balancing all the quests so they are all successful, or maybe even try to make sure certain ones fail.
There is a lot of replayability, and I can assure you that I wanted to play again right after my first run. After my second run, I knew what I wanted to do for my third. I’m sure the fourth will happen just to see all of the backgrounds, but even after that, there are more achievements and paths to pursue. I still want to play someone who rushes down all of the spells in the game, or maybe someone who doesn’t go the heroic route. There is a lot to do here.
There seems to be a few skills that are more important in total than others. My first character felt like I only really had the chance to pass less than half of the checks because I focused on swiftness and ruggedness.
Lots of stat coding errors that might affect your enjoyment, one in particular that seemed to forget the work you did to circumvent it. This is likely to change, but it was there in my first playthrough, and may confuse you when your stats don’t change the right way.
I gathered a lot of money on my first run through the game, and after finishing your personal quest, it might have been nice to have some reference to the extra coin you had in your pockets.
I’ve never wanted to start up another run so quickly after finishing my first.
Every character is absolutely amazing, and I really did like that they respect the gray morality of decisions to a certain extent. Some will take a stand, but others will understand.
Party splits and vignettes are super well done, and I never found myself bored or wanting a different character to return.
Thank you for your review. I’ve been waiting for your review since release because I’m unsure if I will like it. DAO is my first and fave among the DA series so I might consider trying to read the demo again.
I’m a bit worried about your comment on the game mechanic. Is it too punishing if you don’t have Might as you’re strength?