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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 | Review

Posted on January 23, 2018 by Meghan Kass

The original Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Wii back in 2010 and then surprisingly re-released for the 3DS in 2015. A side game in the franchise, Xenoblade Chronicles X (prounouced Cross, not X) was released for the Wii-U also in 2015.  Now, in 2017, a sequel to the first title has been released and thus we have Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch. Developed by series creators Monolith Soft and published of course, by Nintendo.

For longtime fans this game may have a whole new cast of characters to get acquainted with but what matters is how well those characters are developed and how well written the story is, as well as presented. Does this sequel give us a satisfying return to this world of Alrest or does it leave the player disappointed?

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes us back to the Xenoblade world of Alrest, full of titans and god like creatures, only with a fresh set of characters. Shulk is replaced by Rex – a scavenger turned Driver – this go around. As a driver, he is accompanied by his blade, Prya. Prya is very similar to Shulk’s blade Monado, only with a lot more personality, given that she is a fully realized character and not just a weapon. Still, both Pyra’s weapon from and the Monado contain extraordinary power and also grant their drivers the ability to wield extraordinary abilities.

The major difference between the two is that  Prya becomes a character with an artificial human appearance and goes through her own story arc, while the Monado was more a standard weapon. I feel this adds an interesting layer to the game and makes the game more immersive. Prya’s journey to find Elysium with Rex is interesting because finding Elysium is essential to saving humanity from extinction. The Titans who have protected humanity are dying off and Elysium, or Paradise, is their last hope. It’s more than just Prya wanting to “go home”.

The only fault I find with Xenoblade Chronicles II is a slight repetition that happens throughout Rex/Pyra’s journey. I say journey, because saying “story” doesn’t seem right. There isn’t much more story than Rex and Prya exploring the world, searching for Elysium, meeting people along the way and saving the world from various evils. There is a pattern of you continuing on your journey, a roadblock stopping you from continuing and you needing to get past it and usually fight a boss battle. While this normally would bore me, I found the gameplay quite addicting and the characters enchanting and fun to get to know. There is also an interesting history to the world and blades you get to learn along the way which became some of my favorite story moments for me. Exploring the world also helps when everything looks as pretty as this game does – this game has stunning scenery and beautiful character / monster animation.










Even though there are interesting story elements, it really was the gameplay that impressed me the most with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I enjoyed finding out which blades (weapons) were best against which enemy ty[es, which skills I should use at which time and what items I need to collect to unlock an upgrade for my blade. Blade upgrades are obtained using an item called an aux core. You can also provide buffs to individual party members such as ATK Up or DEF up by equipping certain items in their personal pouch, to help out during fights.

I couldn’t wait to level up and see what my blades would learn next  – I loved finding new chips and aux cores and seeing what skills or buffs they gave my blades. While other JRPGs have similar elements, there is something a bit different about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in its execution of character progression. It seemed more than just upgrading my weapon, it felt like I was helping to develop a character. Because I was invested in the characters, I had much more of a desire to see them grow and become stronger. It also helped that everything seemed very fluid and easy to figure out.

Now that I had these powerful characters, it was time to dive right into Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s vast combat system. Similar to the original Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, Rex & Co will automatically perform a basic auto-attack at a set interval. Players are able to equip up to four special arts to augment their damage, provide healing or do massive amounts of damage by partnering up with their blade. Basic arts will only require an individual charge and can be woven into auto attacks seamlessly. As your character progress through their Arts tree they are able to unlock ‘special arts’ which require a bit more time to build via auto-attack. These devastating moves have the Driver and Blade combine their abilities by asking players to perform a quick time event. Successfully pull off the QTE and you’ll be treated to a special arts animation. If one of your A.I party members uses a special art, Rex can follow it up with a supplementary special art based upon one of the elements displayed on the HUD. Chain together 3 complimentary special arts together and you’ve got yourself a Blade Combo, one of the most powerful but complicated maneuvers in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a satisfying contribution to the series. While the story I don’t feel is as strong as the first one, the characters are fun and interesting and the game is stunning to explore and look at and has well executed gameplay. If you liked the first game and have a Switch, give it a try to get immersed in this world again.



Batman: a Telltale series episode 1- Realm of Shadows review

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Meghan Kass

Telltale is at it again with their newest episodic adaptation of Batman. Batman: The Telltale series episode 1- Realm of Shadows puts the decisions, detective work and adventures of the caped crusader and puts it in the hands of the player using their signature mix of point and click gameplay and quick time events. Being a long term fan of the development team and publisher, could I be impressed yet again by their newest series, or would this be a miss in a long line of home runs?

36190303grapplinggun1920x1080-1469035581177_largeAnyone who is familiar with a Telltale series, such as: Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Wolf Among Us or even Minecraft: Story Mode, will find themselves at home with the gameplay and style of Realm of Shadows. The game doesn’t waste any time starting the game with a series of quick time events that put us as Batman stopping the snarky, quick witted Catwoman from committing larceny. Throughout the episode, the gameplay involves the player alternating between Bruce Wayne’s life as the playboy philanthropist and “The World’s Greatest Detective”. You need to interact with other characters in Bruce’s life and make decisions that determine how characters feel about you, how the media feels about you and who is your ally and involved in your life. You also interact with your environment and investigate crime scenes, make connections between pieces of evidence to determine what has happened and even get into a quick time fight or two while wearing the iconic suit all while your trusty friend and butler, Alfred, guides and chides you about finding balance in your life.


There are no shortages of well-known Batman characters in this game. You interact with the likes of Vicki Vale, Harvey Dent, Catwoman and even Oswald Cobblepot. While some of their backstories are taken creative liberties with, their personalities shine through and will put a smile on any Batman fan’s face. I know I had a huge grin on my face whenever I met and had conversations with a different Batman character I have loved since my childhood watching the animated series and reading the comics.  It helps that the look is very much stylized and resembling that of a comic book.

The only point in the gameplay I did not enjoy was the use of the “batputer” codex system. I see how it would be useful for someone who is not familiar with the universe or characters of Batman, but other than that, I felt it was mostly unnecessary. This feature did not ruin or take me out of the experience, though. I used the codex when prompted and moved on as quickly as the game allowed to get me to the next part of the story.  Cowl_1920x1080

The story is where Telltale has always and continues the shine. Because the story is the most important part of the game, I won’t explain too much about the story, but it had me biting my nails and shouting by the end because I just wanted more. Without spoiling the story, you are Bruce Wayne and you must balance your life as Batman and Bruce as best you can while making discoveries about the past and deciding how you will effect other’s futures. Will you be a good friend to Harvey Dent? Will you reunite with your old school friend? Will you trust Vicki Vale? Will you disappoint Alfred? All of these plot points and more are in store for your play through of Realm of Shadows and more.

Overall, this is a strong entry in Telltale’s resume. I was deeply immersed in the story and enjoyed the gameplay and style enough to want more. While this is not as strong as The Walking Dead: Season One, it is still a must play for loyal Telltale and Batman fans alike.


Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide review

Posted on December 7, 2015 by Fionna Schweit

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide for the PC from developer Fatshark is the newest entry in to the ever growing lore chest that is Games Workshop games. This one takes us for the first time in modern gaming in to the Warhammer Fantasy realm. Its a realm of Dwarves, Wizards, Elves, Humans and Greenskins, rather than Eldar, Orks, Humans, and Chaos. That doesn’t mean there isint any crazy stuff going on, indeed this is a world in as the title suggests “the end times”.  Rat like Skaven have overrun the city you play in and its up to you and team of three other heroes to drive them up and prevent the end times.



It has to be said, this game is very much Warhammer Left 4 Dead. The mechanics aren’t the same, this is a First person weapon combat games (swords and sorcery) left 4 dead is a shooter. The game itself suffer from no issue I was able to find in my playtime, and perhaps most importantly it has a ton of depth that i Left 4 dead lacks. The game has a semblance of a crafting system, a fairly deep engaging loot system that involves rolling dice. The loot system feels exciting even if it is mostly just random chance. There are items to collect for each class and three trinket unlock slots for as you level up.  The forge system requires raw materials that can be collected and broken down from various weapons and other things in game. All right back to those Skaven, remember them? Rat like humanoid creatures that want to mess up your day? You the player must select from one of the 5 unique classes (waywatcher, witchhunter, dwarf, wizard, soldier) and take to one of the games 13 levels to beat back the (literal) vermintide. There is no central plot in the game, rather the developers have opted to use a hub and spoke configuration, where there is a central inn where crafting is done, missions are selected and parties are created, the party then deploys to the selected mission. Although to start off there are only a handful of missions to play, as you level up more unlock, and each has 5 difficulty levels to play if you really start to feel bored. Each level feels unique, with beautiful set pieces pulled right from Warhammer Fantasy battles. The massive Gothic town you battle in and around has a living breathing feel to it, with metal, wood, and stone that befit the motif of a fantasy battles city. I really cant say enough about how well atmosphere is done in this game, its always sort of dim, the lighting makes if feel perfectly at home in the fantasy world, and the Gothic touches really take it over the top.

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