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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (451)

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God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5

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Hammerwatch   PC (Steam) 

GauntletSHMUP    3/5 stars

As the ever-dwindling supply of local co-op games becomes less and less, our loyal crew finds itself having to stretch a bit to find something new and exciting to play - despite the face Hammerwatch is neither new nor terribly exciting. Released on Steam back when Indie games were truly something special, before the onslaught of mobile ports and asset flips pretty much ruined everything, Hammerwatch is kind of a old-school throwback, but with some novel twists. Unlike a fine wine, I can't say Hammerwatch has aged considerably well, though it doesn't mean it's a complete loss and a certain segment of gamers will probably like this a lot more than our crew did.

Presentation: Putting the old in old-school, Hammerwatch is a pixelated, nostalgia-driven experience. It also means, however, that it is not incredibly deep and the variation between characters and enemies can be a hindrance. Still, it has a certain rustic charm, both in the look and sound, though it's mostly unmemorable. But I'm sure that's exactly what the developers were going for and in that aspect, I think they did as good as possible. Plus, the game never served up any bugs, though the fact you have to find every secret in order to truly complete the game is just plain evil given the style of game.

Story: I was hoping for a more action-style RPG, but this is truly more of an arcade experience - combining Gauntlet with Smash TV - and a bit of bullet hell thrown in for good measure. What this means is that you're not getting any kind of traditional story. The game pretty much opens with your character(s) being cut off from their group of people by a collapsed bridge and forced to explore the vast Hammerwatch keep (full of nasty undead and assorted baddies) and defeat the four floors (and four bosses) in order to escape... providing, of course, that you find every hidden object because if you miss even one, it's game over man, game over (there's even an achievement celebrating your failure based on what I'm assuming is a popular YouTube clip). The game is still relatively short and seems to be catered to a crowd more interested in showing how awesome they are at avoiding all damage and gitting gud rather than exploring any kind of lore or story.

Gameplay: This is a top-down action/adventure game that, as stated, borrows liberally from Gauntlet while throwing out plenty of SHMUP mechanics to keep you on your toes. After failing to get anywhere near the first boss playing on the regular settings, our crew discovered a few tweeks to make our lives easier. Like unlimited lives, which is the only way we got through the game (final tally - about 600 deaths between all of us). Likewise, for those wanting to truly prove themselves, you can make things even harder (such as giving yourself a single life and single hitpoint - for the entire game). Easy or hard, at least the game does give you options.

The main part of the game is essentially wandering around quite large levels, killing waves of weak enemies with the occasional bigger, meaner enemy thrown in for good measure. Finding keys to open doors, collecting gems and monies, spending said gems and monies with merchants to raise your stats and class-specific attacks (or even heals) finding the floor boss and ultimately moving on to the next challenge. The boss fights, at least, are interesting, if not somewhat infuriating - combining the most SHMUP aspects - but we soldiered through them. The game does give you a few different characters and, of course, I was the tankiest among them - the Paladin, melee to the max with some decent specialty attacks and the only one who could heal. We also had a Warlock and Ranger - good at keeping enemies at bay, but kind of weak in the old health department. I know a game is good if it keeps me awake - and Hammerwatch mostly failed as I found my interest waning as the weeks went by.

Replayability: Given the variety of options (for both casual and hardcore gamers) and characters, Hammerwatch at least gives you incentive to go back, if that's your thing.

Overall: While Hammewatch isn't exactly my cup of tea, I can see how it would appeal to a certain set of gamers who prefer a challenge (or punishment depending on how you look at it).

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 2/5
Gameplay: 3.5/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3/5

 

 


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