Playstation Plus April 2017
Drawn to Death
The new game from David Jaffe, the man who gave us God of War, is a multiplayer arena third-person shooter set inside the notebook of a bored teenager doodling in school. I can relate to this really well. Drawn to Death is the headline act for this month but is it worthy of such?
It is clear that a lot of care went into the design of the game and everything matches the tone you would expect from a bored teenager - it is juvenile, foul-mouthed and has an attitude to match. The image taunts feature parodies of famous memes and all the characters take pre-existing tropes and mash them together and turn it up to eleven. Some of my favorites include NinJaw - with the body of a sexy ninja women and the head of a shark and Diabla Tijuana - a Mexican demon with a Western gunslinger flair and of course the best-named character in the game - Alan.
Even the maps are done in the same style and some maps have zany elements like Alientown which is home to a giant alien. Some of the maps are a bit more straightforward though. The maps are fairly condensed which means you cannot hide from your enemies for long and that makes for a more frantic fight, especially if you are looking for some health - no hiding until your health regenerates.
The unique art style betrays a rather standard shooter, though a fairly well made one. A good fight is fun but go up against a player of a skill much higher and you will get blown away. Go up against one not so good and it is too easy. It is early days for the matchmaking system so hopefully, that is something that will sort itself out in time.
All characters get access to the same guns but each has their unique abilities but I have found it pretty hard to use them effectively so it might take a fair amount of practice with each character before you can unlock their full potential. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses so experimentation is key to figure out who is right for you.
There does not seem to be a whole lot of variety in match types but again, early days. Personally, I am god awful at the standard deathmatches but the Organ Donor matches - where you have to kill your opponent, collect their hearts and then deposit them at a base like a screwed up version of capture the flag - I am almost unbeatable in.
I have had fun with the game, each game has a time limit of about ten minutes and are usually over very quickly so if drawn out (heh) matches bore you easily then this could be a game for you. If you are not paying attention to your health in a gunfight it will drain quickly without giving you a chance to run away and heal up.
There are a few things to unlock - you can earn keys to unlock new weapons and after 150 kills you can open a mystery box that has new skins and taunts - which is going to take a while even if you are good at this game. Of course with it being 2017 you can always pay extra money to unlock these things quicker if you so choose…
Honestly, I would give it a shot unless obnoxious humor puts you off. It might not have realized it’s true potential just yet but there is scope to expand in a game like this. It is a fun game though I have doubts that it will stand on its own as a multiplayer giant when there are many other options available.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Well, this game is just lovely. You and up to four players (local only) go on a quest in your giant spaceship to rid the world of the evil Anti-Love and turn the spacetime back into its usual lovely self.
The game is bright, it is colorful and it does not take itself too seriously. The gameplay is a lot of fun and it can be frantic. Your ship has four guns in each of the cardinal directions, a cannon, a shield operator, a map and the control deck and each player has to constantly switch between each station as new dangers and obstacles appear. It can get real intense but with the power of love, you can achieve anything. Huey Lewis was correct all along!
However, you do not need friends to enjoy this game! If you are just playing by yourself you can choose an AI pet. You can pick between a dog, a cat, a raccoon and a pig. You then command your animal buddy to move from station to station and they do a good job of cleaning up enemies or moving the shield to protect you from damage. That does not mean you can put your feet up and let them do all the work though, you have constantly got to be on the ball, keeping an eye out of new enemies and making sure you are not about to crash into asteroids. It helps to have about eight eyes so if you are a spider I heartily recommend this game.
Your goal is to rescue space-animals you have been captured. Save enough of them and they unlock the big heart gate and you can progress to the next stage. The game does not seem like it will take a long time to beat and for you trophy hunters out there, a Platinum is available in Lovers.
If you have a loved one and an extra Dualshock 4 then I really would recommend this game. Yeah, you may shout at each other as you try to move station to station to shoot the Anti-Lovers before they destroy your ship but in the end, you will love each other more. Or you will constantly bicker and realize that you hate each other and that there is no point in carrying on with this relationship...
Maybe just pick the dog instead.
PS Vita (Both can be played on PS4)
Curses ‘N Chaos
A single-screen co-op wave-based brawler now and Curses ‘N Chaos will definitely cause some curses to come out of your mouth let me tell you - it is a tough game.
You can pick between two players - Lea or Leo - and as far as I can see there is no difference between the two. You then fight an increasingly difficult wave of enemies. After defeating ten waves you will be attacked by the boss for the level. You are not alone with just your fists though - enemies drop a variety of items ranging from coins to healing food to traps and weapons. Using these effectively will be key to success.
You can spend coins to buy items to take into battle or you can mix two items together and perhaps create something more powerful than you can imagine! Or you can continuously create junk which is what I am apparently good at. Experiment enough and you will soon learn what works together.
It is definitely a game that rewards patience more than anything. Every new enemy will have a new quirk, some may fly out of reach then swoop down to attack, others might be burrowed underground. Each enemy I encountered has something unique about them so that is a plus in my book.
Unfortunately, the fighting does not have much depth. You have a basic punch, a jump kick, and an uppercut. Other than the items that is about as much variety as you have which in a game like this is rather poor. I could see it getting repetitious after a while.
Could I see myself playing this game to completion? Probably not to be honest. However, I did feel myself getting better every round I played and almost beat the Forest level before the boss beat me. It might be easier with a buddy, again it is couch co-op only so you popular folk out there are getting a treat this month, but I did not have the option to bring an AI pet in this time which is disappointing.
With a better fighting system I think this game could have been great, instead, it might be a short distraction at best unless you truly welcome the challenge.
10 Second Ninja X
Speaking of challenge, 10 Second Ninja X is a speed based puzzle-platformer from the Super Meat Boy school of game design. Where it differs from the obvious inspiration is that instead of a goal you need to reach, you have to defeat all of the robot pirates in order to progress.
As a ninja, you have your trusty sword as well as three shurikens per level. It is not as simple as that though - each level has a number of traps you have to avoid and you only have ten seconds to destroy the robots. It definitely is a challenge, trial and error will be your two best friends here and you have to use your brain to progress. Which for a mindless zombie like myself is challenge enough?
It is not enough to simply beat the level though. Beat it quickly enough you get rewarded with more stars. You cannot progress to world 2, for example, unless you have 16 stars. There are ten levels per world. Just merely passing each level is not going to suffice here - you will have to actually get good at the game and not just get lucky. I am awful enough at the game and getting through all the levels just to be told “haha, scrub” was a bit disheartening.
The graphical style is cartoony which means it is colorful and charming which goes a long way to dulling the frustration - how could you be mad at something that looks so charming? Then you try to make a jump and fall into an electric trap and that’s when you realize how.
This one is good for those who like a challenge to their games but it might quickly put off people by how difficult even the early levels can be. It is enjoyable for what it is though and a worthy addition to the PS+ lineup. Definitely, a good choice for you Vita owners out there, wherever you are, as the levels are so bitesize they are good for a journey of any length.
Invizimals: Lost Kingdom
Invizimals started off as an Augmented Reality game for the PSP that spawned into a mini-franchise for Sony Europe, including collectible stickers and trading cards, an animated series and a few sequels.
Invizimals: Lost Kingdom, however, is not an AR game - instead of being a bog standard 3D platformer. It starts off with an awful intro with real “actors” doing what they think “acting” is. The hero, called Hiro because obviously, steals a crystal from a museum and escapes Indiana Jones style. He then gives it to his scientist buddy and it opens a portal to the world of Invizimals.
Hiro can borrow the power of these creatures by transforming into them and they all come with their own special abilities. In my hour of the game I only got as far as unlocking the second Invizimal but there are spaces for eight in total. I will give the game credit for attempting to create some variety but switching between eight characters on the fly seems like it is a bit much.
You traverse through the game jumping, smashing crates and collecting orbs that you can use to upgrade your move set. There are so many orbs that you can easily upgrade your first creature just before you unlock the second as long as you do not mind doing some exploration.
The combat in the game is sluggish but still simple enough that I never felt in danger when facing a group of enemies. What is worse is the boss battle to unlock the Minotaur was literally a Quick Time Event. That is always kind of lame but since the combat is not very good I cannot tell what would be worse.
Graphically and musically it is very generic but I have noticed a lot of slowdown within the game which is very apparent when there is more than two things moving on screen. It happens a lot in other words.
The bad acting also bleeds into the game where it is somehow even worse - characters are constantly cutting each other off and some actors try too hard while others don’t even try.
It does feel like this game was made to cash-in more than anything but saying that, if it is someone’s first 3D Platformer than it could be fine. It is super easy and it likes to hold your hand a lot which makes sense considering it is clearly going after younger children rather than people who pretend to be adults like myself. I could not recommend this to anyone except children you had never played a game like this before and even then, I would hesitate to do so.
And finally...Alien Rage is a First Person Shooter that is just like a lot of other FPS’ you may have played years ago. It is incredibly generic.
You play as a soldier called Jack because obviously. Alien Rage takes place on an asteroid turned mining site that contains a plethora of a rare but powerful energy source. An alien race called the Vorus comes and they share the rock (not to be confused with The Rock who humans shall keep to themselves, thanks) until they turn on the humans and kill them all. So our job is to go in and destroy the rock (again, not The Rock, who cannot be destroyed by a mere mortal).
The game looks dreary and I genuinely feel like I have played this game a hundred times. They try to liven things up, they have Bulletstorm-esque rewards for doing special things but even they are as generic as “killed enemy with explosions”. There is some fairly humorous dialogue between the characters but it fails to lift the game up much.
The game features audio logs to get more backstory to the game but they do an odd thing and if you try to move away from the log it becomes inaudible so you have stood still and listen. They can take up to a minute and that is too long to be standing still doing nothing in a game like this.
The shooting is fine, except for whoever decided that the fire and aim buttons should be on R1 and L1 should be fired. It has everything you would expect - you can carry two guns plus a pistol, there is grenades and melee if enemies get too close, which they will in my experience. There is not much need for thought - just point and shoot. Jack does not move all that well and the jump button is more of a small hop.
There is multiplayer but even with it being released for free, I cannot imagine many people are playing it four years after release.
All in all, a disappointing finale to the PS+ lineup this month. It is just far too generic in a genre where that is fatal to a game’s enjoyment.
Overall, this month’s offerings is a real mixed bag. Drawn To Death feels like it missed its potential but with a game like that, with some updates and additional content, it could carve out a nice niche for itself. I hope so based on its style alone.
For me, the highlight of the month is probably Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. It is unique and charming to a loveable degree. The two Vita/PS4 cross buy games are both challenging in their own ways though I can see people enjoying 10 Second Ninja more than Curses ‘N Chaos.
The PS3 offerings were not particularly good and that sucks for those of us who still love that big ol’ machine. Two very generic games, neither of which are particularly fun to play. With the PS3 being as old as it is you would feel like they could probably swindle some great games for PS+ but not this month.
For the trophy hunters out there, both PS4 games along with Invizimals have platinum trophies so if that is your jam you will have three more options in that regard.
Play: Drawn to Death, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Maybe play: 10 Second Ninja X, Curses ‘N Chaos
Ignore: Invizimals: Lost Kingdom, Alien Rage