May 3rd, 2020 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Just a couple days ago I wrote a piece on how Fallout 76 made enough marginal improvements to be worth your time if you haven’t played it. I also said it was boring. Yet somehow, as the very first story arc of the new game closed, something happened.

I could have stopped, it felt like the particular arc I was following stopped short. Then I explored some more and found some cool new things. Then I found another new quest that I thought was an old quest. Then random quests popped up as I explored.

And then I spent what had to be a solid 1.5hrs fiddling with my gear at a friendly player’s camp. You know, the high level players camps are so nice that I’ve yet to even bother to make my own, it’s actually been easier to just freeload. And they dynamic locations of the camps also makes it easy for me to fast travel to quest markers I’d normally have to hoof it to.

One night I was really steamed and needed to relax.

But did I launch Doom Eternal for the catharsis and murder? No. Did I scour the other wasteland that takes place in Washington DC? No not Fallout 3, I mean the Division 2, but still no.

I fired up Fallout 76 and had a terrible experience. A high level legendary monster killed me twice and at one point had me trapped. The 350+ rounds I unloaded on it reduced his health by… 1/32 if I’m being honest. Then I had scour the land far and wide to find a Tinker Bench because I couldn’t remember where one in particular was at. My freeloading ass went to 3 different user camps, all who had every workshop except a Tinker Bench. .

This took… I think another 3 hours of my life but I was frustrated so I QUIT. For a solid hour and a half and then jumped back on because I was so close to finishing the quest! Then another quest popped up. At some point I literally sent Xbox messages to players offering to sell of my grenades to them.

Then I looked at the curtain in my own room. And then I looked at the clock. It was 6AM. Todd you’ve done it again.

Hate reading? The audio version can be found HERE.

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August 21st, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Not so happy too.

We Happy Few is a survival-oriented stealth adventure game developed by Compulsion Games and published by Gearbox Publishing. It is an unusual game that drops you into a bizarre world. One that will take you between two different types of zones, separated simply by whether or not people use to take a drug called “Joy”. If you refuse to take your medicine, you are thrown out of the city and have to live in the garden district. The game focuses a lot on the perception of your interactions with people. There’s also a system where you need to make sure you are fed, hydrated, and rested. Otherwise, you face severe debuffs that affect your ability to run and fight. The game was delayed many times but eventually released it. The game was originally funded via Kickstarter, with over 7K donaters. It got a huge promotional jump when Gearbox scooped the game up to publish it.

GRAPHICS: 1/2

The appearance of We Happy Few is is another game with a certain stylized, cartoonish design. People have bizarre body to head proportions and some enemies are very tall. Everyone’s face looks like it’s been physically sculpted out of clay, and that’s on top of the mask everyone is required to wear. There are also moments that change the scenery when you take certain drugs. The enviornment also changes when they wear off. When you take Joy you get a double rainbow and it does go all the way across the sky. But beyond that, there are several graphical hiccups. Some textures look very hastily made. Other times, texture pop-in issues arise. However, most egregious is the amount of copy-pasting done to the world.

This game’s campaign features procedurally generated environments, so no two playthroughs are alike. I haven’t seen a game utilize this feature quite like this since old Xbox classic game, “ToeJam & Earl III”. Yes, it’s real, I played it. They’re eerily similar in terms of artistic design, it’s quite unusual and I don’t expect others outlets to pick up on this. While this is good for the game long term, it also means that a limited amount of assets are available. Because of this, every single location looks exactly the same. You’ll see the same dozen houses in the garden district and the same dozen houses and signs in the cities. They become so unremarkable that you can almost never figure out where you are and frequently need to consult the map to navigate around town. This also applies to the citizens, with the same dozen NPCs littering the locales. It tries to justify this in-game, but nobody is buying it. Not enough models were made.

Also, even on PS4, the framerate takes a pterrible nosedive into the 15 frame zone if there are too many NPCs in view, which happens all the time since there are so many.

STORY: 2/2

In a world where Germany won World War II, the people are now forced to… wait, what? Really? Is this a fad or something? But seriously, despite this being a somewhat common trope, the game manages to veer off into crazy town. This is the game’s greatest strength, its engaging story. You start the game as one Arthur Hastings. He happily works his day job censoring old newspapers when he spots an article about his brother, who was taken away from him (put on a train to Germany). Triggered by this traumatic event, he stops taking his Joy and then gets forced out of the city. Throughout the campaign you work your way through location after location, simply trying to escape Wellington Wells to look for him. Over the course of this story, you will meet very interesting characters, two of which later become playable after his story is finished.

It’s surpisingly enrapturing, constantly making you want to know more and more. It also helps that the game is one of the very few games where they inject humor and it’s actually funny. There’s one mission called “Oh, Behave!” that teaches you how to interact with people and it was enough to make me laugh out loud. It also has a ton of references to many touchstones of British comedy, with gags about the Beatles, Austin Powers, and of course, Monty Python. “Supreme exective power derives from a mandate from the masses…” one of the NPCs will tell you. Conversations with random people are always a series on non-sequitor comments. You’ll eventually hear all of them and get sick of it. In this case, it’s somewhat acceptable because talking to normal NPCs is actually a part of the gameplay mechanics.

AUDIO: 1/2

Oblivion syndrome in full force here, where you will hear the same voice actor over and over and over again. It was also revealed in a few videos that some characters will actually swap voice actors. Again, considering that it’s a gameplay element with randomized voices for some NPCs, this is just okay. But, at the same time, it’s too often that you’ll hear the same thing repetitively. More random dialog needed to be recorded. As far as the music goes, it’s acceptable but not very audible overall. This is true even when I turned down all the other audio settings to favor the music. It fits the game’s setting, and that’s just it.

GAMEPLAY: 0/2

OOF. Here’s where the trouble starts. I have an entire list full of gripes I have with this game and don’t know where to start. The combat is trash. First person melee can be difficult and is either becomes enough to work with or flailing mess. This one is the latter. Attacks just don’t seem to connect when you attack them. But your seem to have a hit box that spreasds a couple feet around you. The other main gameplay mechanic revolves entirely on you wearing the correct type of clothing for different locations and some specific costumes for a couple missions. Switching back and forth between your suit and your torn-up suit feels a bit like an unnecessary step. Basically, when you are in the garden (poor) districts, you are allowed to move about all you want but people will become hostile if you go in their homes or steal, which is reasonable.

But when it comes to the cities, it’s extremely strict but also trite. You have to make sure you walk normally, don’t crouch, jump, or sprint, and everyone will leave you alone. But if you’re caught either doing one of these things too often without immediately saying hi to people afterward (seriously), everyone will chase you. But moments later you can add a perk to your abilities section that gets rid of this mechanic. However, you can also be chased for appearing to withdraw from Joy, stealing, or wandering after curfew. During the daytime, this can be really problematic because once you do something wrong, the ENTIRE CITY will aggro and chase you, sceaming that you murdered someone. This isn’t too hard as long as you can find an alley to ditch them in, but it happens enough to become a nuisance more times than a challenge.

Some more nags. The map does erase your custom marker when you arrive at it. Icons on the map for missions and sidequests will also stay on the map screen even after you complete them. Because of the randomization and lack of variety, you also have to consult the map too frequently to figure out where you are. Fast travel is somewhat available but it is largely useless. This is especially poignant when quests put you on missions where you have to go to opposite ends of town, often several times per mission. Which would be fine if the game wasn’t littered with so many fetch quests. The game starts off fine but after a few hours in, you’ll be doing way more fetching than anything else. There’s an ultimate perk in your upgrades that makes you impervious to being dehydrated, hungry, or tired. But it literally does not actually work and it costs the most skill points to purchase.

More? Okay. NPCs will get stuck in one spot in a walking animation, float around, and clip right through the scenery. The game forces you to focus heavily on crafting in its second act. It asks you to craft a lot of things the moment you start the act when you have nothing in your inventory. I had to spend a solid half hour or more trying to find one specific item so I could continue the story. Then, later on, I had to do it again.

MORE? Okay. The Joy mechanic is very unbalanced and frequently leads to the problem of the aforementioned aggro of the entire town. The load times are very long and you can be stopped dead with a loading screen while walking around. Some mechanics force you to just sit and do nothing for several minutes. Oh, and it completely crashes many times too. I had eight crashes during my play time. This leads to another long wait for the game to load and on two occasions it cost me mission progress.

FUN: 0/2

So, yeah. All that above? It doesn’t make the game hard, the game is rather easy on its normal setting. But it is arduous and obnoxious. You are essentially being drip-fed with plot elements followed by 5 minute long jogs around town. This happens too often. The original sense of wonder you get when you start the game diminishes and becomes tiresome. The final straw was during the second act. I was hard-pressed to find crafting elements. And when I did, I had to go back and forth between two locations countless times. After finally collecting an ingredient, the game hit me with yet another 600m trip to the other end of town. Remember, you can’t sprint until you unlock that perk. I had enough after 20 hours of game time. I cut my losses and traded the game in for Xbox bucks.

This game is such a letdown and appears to have been released before it was ready. As stated, the game was delayed several times, and it is very likely that the developers at Compulsion Games were simply told to wrap up production and put the game out. It would also seem that Gearbox may have had a negative impact on their game and made them do far more than what they originally set out to make. If you can tolerate bad gameplay for a good story, that’s your only reason to buy this.

SCORE: 4/10




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May 25th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Funky business.

Dankey Kang Trapical Fraze is a platfarmer game daveloped Ratro Stadios & Manster Games and pablished by Nantendo. Whew, that was fun. Anyway, the original version of this game came out on the WiiU back in… 2014? REALLY? Four years ago? I played a four-year-old game? I’m… not angry, I’m just… whatever, the WiiU was a failure, the Switch is a smash hit. Any WiiU game that gets re-released on the Switch deserves the attention it gets since by default it might as well be the first time the game was actually played by anyone. The last time I played a Donkey Kong game was on my GameBoy and it frustrated me tremendously so I vowed never to play another one again. And by vow, I mean I just kind of ignored the series forever. UNTIL NOW. But, can I handle it?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

Right out of the gate, Donkey Kong shows off its Nintendo pedigree in a grand assortment of colors and charm that surpass the technical capabilities of the hardware. But that’s not interesting so…

STORY: 0/2

Now let’s get to it, here’s one problem I’m starting to have with a lot of Nintendo games. Back in the golden days of GameBoy and Super Nintendo, when you bought the game, you didn’t have to install it at all and could play it right away, but there was still one thing that may have held you back: the instruction booklet. A lot of time and effort went into the instruction booklets that told you all about the story of the game. That way, the game didn’t really have to give you any context or story at all! But in modern times, the instruction manual is dead and gone, delegated to being a glorified extra to a handful of Ubisoft games at best. Tropical Freeze starts off with DK and his family having a birthday party, then their island gets attacked by some ice pirates, and then somehow despite freezing over their entire island, they emerge from an airplane on another island, unharmed. It’s never even shown how they got on a plane to begin with, I was scratching my head as it unfolded. And that’s it. No context, no goals, here’s the bad guys, get at it. That works in games like Mario where they use an established trope to drive the game forward. But DK doesn’t have that. It has nothing. I didn’t even know the names of that antagonists until I was on World 4 (Snowmads, BTW). That might be fun and good, but even if you ignore the lack of plot and try to hold the game up on its incentives it… doesn’t have any. You can collect the KONG letters and some puzzle pieces in every level, but it doesn’t feel like it’s ever actually worth your time to do either of those things.

AUDIO: 2/2

Hold on, this rollercoaster is going back up. Let me say this, I don’t actually like the DK soundtrack. But I recognize good content when I hear it and as far as matching the mood of the game, the OST does this in spades. One major moment that truly shined was in the third world where you were in the African savannah and rope swinging your way through what was basically a safari parade full of dancing tikis, artful shrines, and animal-shaped poles featuring zebras and lions. Never before have I seen a single platformer make a background song that matches up with its themes so well that it elevates the affair from fun to extraordinary design. As for the sounds, they are all fine, distinct, and dandy. That said, I feel like I might be the only one who thinks that the “bop” noise you get from jumping on the heads of enemies is the exact same soundbite as the selection noise on the map screen for Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. I could try to prove it but… that’s not really necessary, is it?

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Tropical Freeze comes in two exciting modes on the Switch. You can play the game in its original form and cry as you die over and over because your 2 hitpoints don’t quite carry you that well. Seriously, TWO hitpoints? Not one, not three, you went with 2. TWO! TWO HITPOINTS. (3 if you get buy an item but that doesn’t count). I hated this mode and I hated the game. But once again, my hate doesn’t really translate to the gameplay being objectively bad. It’s not. In truth, the games are spectacularly designed in a way that really just makes you do one thing, and one thing only. Git gud. That’s right, Donkey Kong is never so unfair that it feels prohibitively difficult. It’s just a game that starts hard and stays hard (phrasing!), but it does. Anyway, once you’re done torturing yourself trying to beat a level, you can just start the game over and play the all-new funky mode as Funky Kong. He’s a character who has FIVE hit points, doesn’t get hurt by spikes, can double jump, and has a floating ability with his surfboard. Basically, he’s got the skills you’ve come to expect from a platformer, as DK can’t double jump, and a platformer without a double jump is a tough game indeed. Having so many more abilities may make the game sound easier, but often times it makes you so careless you end up getting yourself killed from not paying enough attention. There’s no middle ground. You have it the hard way or the easy way, no “normal” for you.

FUN: 1/2

Once again, this game is objectively fun once you get the ropes. The game could be even more fun if I decided to dedicate my life to getting skilled enough at this game to actually be that. But with the lack of incentives to keep pushing you forward and some overly long and obnoxious boss fights that stop your progress dead in its tracks, it’s hard to find fun unless you make it fun. I basically played the half of this game twice, all the way to the end of World 4 as DK, then again as Funky Kong. Two halves make a whole, so technically I beat the game. If a challenging old-school platformer is all you want, here it is. If not, you might want to look elsewhere.

I hated Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. I really did. But this review is a testament to our assertion that our reviews are far more objective than most other sites. We don’t have a random number we make up in our heads to attribute to the game. We are forced to examine all angles of the game’s design and come to a conclusion that despite our own tastes an interest, we can recognize where a game works and where it doesn’t.

SCORE: 7/10




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May 24th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Kratos in my bed.

I woke up this morning, well rested from a well deserved long sleep. It was early when I went to bed. Maybe 11:30, midnight the latest. Yeah, that’s early for a guy like me. I usually find my self awake at all sorts of hours of the day and night because, well, that’s just the life I live. Either way, I jumped out of bed excited to take on the adult responsibilities of the day. Yes, I said excited and I said that intentionally. Why was I excited? Simple. The faster I got through the menial task of being an adult that we all hate, the faster I could dive into a whole new world. Quite literally. 

If you’ve been keeping up with Hard Mode Gamers from the beginning, you’ll be familiar with me hounding Chet to get us a VR. And he did it. Yes, HMG has a shiny fun and exciting PSVR. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever played on. That’s not even me being a sooper fan boy yet either. That’s just on the premise of it being Virtual Reality. It could have been any VR headset and I’d be just as excited, but Chet went all out and got the best one. 

“…Finish your play session by taking your headset off and getting out of bed.”

Today, I decided to explore what it would be like playing God of War on a VR. Before you get upset or confused, God of War is not a VR game at all. Using the PSVR however, puts you in a pitch black world where your screen is literally as large as it possibly can get. So I powered up the whole rig and dove right in. 

A few hours passed of me beating down Hell Reavers and solving puzzles. Remember, this is now on what feels like a theater sized screen built just for me. At the end of my play session, I couldn’t help but wonder: how did I enjoy video games on a small screen before? How did I play God of War on a 55inch screen, sitting in a chair, with my head firmly planted forward? That’s the type of thought you’re allowed to have when you finish your play session by taking your headset off and getting out of bed.

That’s right, I went out handled business, came back home and laid down. I laid down and played one of the greatest games I’ve ever experienced. And the whole time, the world around me was non-existent. I know it’s not what VR is made for. But, you can’t get mad at me for having a grand old time. 




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December 6th, 2017 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu

Oh my god, they killed it!

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an RPG set in the South Park Universe, it was developed by Ubisoft San Francisco with the help of South Park Digital Studios and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 17th 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, being the sequel to the Stick of Truth. The game has received a lot of help from the creators of the hit TV show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, using source material to keep the game true to the show’s controversial and comical universe.

[Reviewed on PC]

GRAPHICS: 1/2

Graphics-wise, it’s actually staying true to the cartoon style of the show, everything looking almost exactly like it does on the show. This makes it seem like it is actually an interactive episode of South Park, which is a good thing in my book. One thing to notice is that the game runs on the Snowdrop engine, the same engine that powered The Division, showing how flexible the engine is, but makes the optimization deceitful. This means that TFBW it is a bit more demanding of lower end systems and most mid-tier laptops with a dedicated GPU. This is surprising given the visual fidelity of the game, it really doesn’t look like it should demand a whole lot from your system, but somehow it does.

AUDIO: 1/2

The audio is not deeply memorable, but it does not have a great soundtrack, something that I would call significant in other games. But it is inspired off superhero films, and more acts like a filler to make fights a bit more alive. Voice acting gets a good point out of it due to it being genuine and staying true to the show. Whereas many other video game developers either opt-in to get the best in the business or try to find their best sound-alikes, South Park is blessed with it’s recognizable (and affordable) cast that are pertinent to the impact of the show. Eric Cartman wouldn’t be the same without his trademark Cartman voice.

STORY: 2/2

The plot is set exactly one day after the Stick of Truth ends, where we take control of New Kid once again, this time dropping the fantasy theme for a more modern super-hero plot, where Cartman and his friends decide to search for a missing cat so they can get 100$ to kick-start their own franchise. This takes them through different conflict plotlines and sub-plots in between, such as the Civil War -inspired conflict between Coon and Friends (Cartman, Kyle,Clyde, Jimmy and Craig) and the Freedom Pals (Timmy, Kenny, Stan, Tweek, Token) or against Professor Chaos (Butters). Character-Wise, pretty much all the characters are from the show, the kids taking obvious Marvel insipred super-hero personas and, well, other iconic characters such as Randy, Mr Mackney, the PC Principal, Father Maxi, Jesus and the list goes on. I mean, we even have the obvious Morgan Freeman running a taco shop. The plot is pretty interesting, however I wouldn’t really call it ground-breaking. However it has its funny moments, which are a lot, and well, some are sexual, some are offensive and some are just fart jokes. The dialouge is really good, especially since it is amplified by the original voice actors and the small chit-chat and occasional information from the bystanders is pretty interesting. Overall, the story plot does not take itself too serious and it is a welcome comedic break from all the gritty “important” stories from other games released this year.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

TFBW takes a 2.5D style in combat, allowing for more freedom in your engagements compared to the previous game. New Kid will progressively have access to all 10 classes as we progress through the game, being able to equip abilities from all these classes, 4 at a time, giving the player more freedom in customizing his skills. The companion system is back, allowing you to pick additional 3 companions to help you during the fight, each having unique abilities according to his archetype. For example, Kyle the Human Kite is a support, being able to heal his allies, while Super Craig is a tank which can taunt enemies. Another element that’s returning is turn-based combat, instead this time it takes place on a grid thanks to the 2.5 D system, the characters being able to move freely around the grid. Attacks also affect different areas of the grid. Because of this, the combat is really well done, being a part that is heavily improved from the first game. One downgrade from the first game is the fact that your gear no longer affects your gear level, instead the system is now based on artifacts, which increases your Might, one part which offers more freedom in how you look, but tones down on the RPG element of the game.

FUN: 2/2

South Park TFBW is a really, really interesting game. t is a welcome comedic break from other games released like Halo, Gears, Assasin’s Creed, adding nuance to Ubisoft’s lineup of games. It is an okay RPG, but what makes this game fun is the South Park aspect, seeing the kids act as superheroes with improvised costumes, made-up lairs, red building bricks as lava and much more. Combined with the crude but a bit toned down humor of south park to make this sequel censor-free, it is a more unique game and a somewhat easy to learn RPG that makes it stand out more than other game released this year

I do recommend it, even though I didn’t have as much fun with it, it should be in your backlog list as one of those games to be played when you are really bored. It is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but I do not see it as a $60 buy due to some of its flaws and how it is made more for South Park fans rather than the average gamer. I’m not saying you won’t enjoy it if you are not into South Park, but if you love the show, this should be a pick up for you!

SCORE: 7/10




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November 30th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

The time has come. The stars have aligned. The constellations are lit.

Skyrim is now a portable game thanks to the most recent port of now 6-year-old game to the Nintendo Switch. So, now that this master class of open world play-it-your-way adventuring is portable, is it any good?

Our story begins like always, you wake in an Imperial patty wagon, ready to be put to death because… nobodys knows or cares, this how Elder Scrolls games are. You are a prisoner, now you are not a prisoner, go do things. Some of them might be important. The fun immediately began before the game had even started. General Tallius goes through the motions, talking to everyone as they line up to be executed, the ususal stuff. But as he is speaking, the horse beside of him just starts floating and clipped right through his 3D model. Yet, the scripted sequence carried on. Fast forward past all the stuff into stuff you have burned into your brain from playing over 20 times, and you make you way out of the hold and towards the next village. I got separated from whatshisface from the stormcloaks and found him eventually. Of course, when I did find him, he was sitting on an invisible chair and talking to his wife halfway across the lumber yard, meaning I had to run back and forth between the characters to hear what they were saying to each other.

Following that, I made it to Rohan Whiterun, but that was after I had to reload a save because I accidentally lit the companions on fire during the scripted fight with the giant. After being immediately greeted by the local blacksmith as always, I decided to actually play the crafting tutorial just this one time. I hate crafting and never use it, but you’d figure by my eight restart I’d pay more attention to crafting. That went well. Of course, as I was talking to the blacksmith, at least 3 NPCs walked by us and talked over whatever she was saying. After finishing the blacksmith tutorial I made my way up to the market place where we talked to “some may call this junk me I call them treasure” Belethor, the only salesperson with a personality in all of Skyrim. Hucked all my junk and had a decent amount of coin to my name.

I also stopped into the Companions HQ Jorrvaskur to talk to start the questline. As the leader was giving me the instructions, two more people started talking over him. And two characters outside of the Bannered Mare also had some really bad timing between their sentences. Afterwards, I visited the Mare and punched the fuck out of some woman so she could help me on my quest. Don’t worry, it was a consentual fisting. Finally found my way to Jarl Balgruuf to talk about the dragon attack. And so I went on my merry… did this game just crash to desktop? Oh okay.

So far I’ve played the game for only a few hours, but it’s been such a long time since I last played it, that playing this game handheld felt brand new yet familiar. With the number of bugs, glitches, and quirks I experienced over such a short time? I can safely say that this port of Skyrim to the Nintendo Switch is a PERFECT RECREATION of the Skyrim experience, but in handheld form. And that’s really the biggest strength of the game, because it’s lacking in the graphical department if you play on the big screen, but in handheld mode, it looks quite alright. If playing Skyrim anywhere is all you want, this port is there for you. Playing Skyrim on demand is a real treat to play wherever you want, and for the most part, whenever you want.

SCORE: Skyrim/10

Though if I had to give a real number it would probably be an 8.




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