Tag Archives: hack and slash

2018 Game Review Haiku, #38 – Korgan (Prologue)

Impending evil
Use three characters to fight
First bite free, don’t eat

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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Korgan’s an uninspired dungeon-crawler, but easy 1,000 Gamerscore

There are a lot of free games floating around like tiny desperate dust motes up in the digital entertainment industry’s night sky these days. Many more than a couple years ago. Some are good, some are great, and many are bad, hastily put together and thrown into the wild in hopes of earning money or a fanbase or anything at all. I’ve been able to get a lot of mileage out of many of these freebies; for instance, according to my Xbox app, I put about 58 hours total into Fallout Shelter. Other free adventures that I continue to poke and prod at include Gems of War, Fortnite, and Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. Alas, Korgan is not one of the good ones, sitting nearly at the bottom of the barrel, with its only saving grace being that it has a relatively easy number of Achievements to pop, if that is something you care about.

Korgan is an episodic dungeon-crawler from Codestalkers, and you can play the prologue chapter for free, which takes maybe two to three hours to get through, depending on how thorough you want to be. I recall zero details about the plot of this stock fantasy-driven adventure, but I’m sure it involves some sort of ancient evil or shadow group trying to spread chaos and monsters across the world, leaving it up to a trio of do-gooders to set things right. You can freely switch between these three heroes to face enemies or obstacles; the titular Korgan is an up-close dwarven warrior that uses axes and mallets for damage. As for Sedine and Meldie, well…I’m too annoyed at the game to look up much more, so one of them is a floating mage-lady, and the other is a hat-wearing hunter that uses a bow and arrow. I’ll let you decide who gets what name, even though it doesn’t matter one lick.

Naturally, each character has their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and you could combine attacks together for more damage, such as freezing as enemy with the mage and switching to the axe-wielding hero for extra damage…except I never felt the need to do this. You can skate by on using one character until his or her health is almost gone, and then switch to the next one. If one character loses all of his or health, it’s not the worst thing in the world–you are zipped back to the start of the level, but most of your progress has been saved, meaning death has no real consequence besides it now taking you longer to uninstall Korgan after getting through the prologue.

The game and gameplay is barbarously boring, almost to the point that I have nothing to say of it. It’s generic hack-and-loot, with paint-by-the-number quests that culminate in droll boss fights that, for some reason, were set to auto-record on the Xbox One. The subpar elements of Korgan that truly stand out to me are around its design and UI decisions. For instance, the developers thought that clicking in the right stick and holding it for upwards of 15 seconds would be perfect for actions like reading text on monuments, searching areas for clues, and destroying traps. It’s slow and not fun on one’s hand, and I eventually avoided doing it if I could. Hitting the Y button switches between your three characters, but it’s also the button to hit for looting all items as opposed to selecting them one by one, and since I never got the impression there was an inventory limit I looted each and every piece of gear I could fine…but sometimes, instead of looting, I’d accidentally switch to someone else.

Here’s something else I didn’t grok, but maybe I was half-asleep. Each of the three characters share a single XP bar that fills up as you complete side quests, break down traps, and kill enemies. However, as far as I can tell, only the character you are actively controlling at the time when the XP bar hits the max amount levels up and gets a skill point to spend. Because of this, though I did use all three characters, I ended up putting the most points into the mage’s spells and found her to thus be the most effective when it came to dealing damage. Except some enemies were immune to her attacks, and that sucked because Korgan and the other one were not as leveled as the mage. It also didn’t help that the UI for inventory and equipping potions, armor, and weapons was clunky and confusing. That said, the skill tree upgrades are as bland as unbuttered bread, and you never truly feel like the character is growing in strength or power.

Look, you might like Korgan. It might very well be your first taste of a dungeon crawler with gear to pick up. And if you do, that’s great, because the first nibble is free, and there’s more content coming. I believe you can jump right into chapter one if you are champing at the bit. However, I found the slow combat, poor controls, and uninteresting progression and loot to be too underwhelming, and I just don’t care about anything now. In fact, I’m going to continue living life believing that all three heroes fell down a dark crevasse and got swallowed up by the earth, never to be seen or heard from again. Oh well.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Blood Knights

I’ve talked before about playing bad games previously here on Grinding Down and the importance of seeing them through and even finished one last year solely to get my first Platinum Trophy, but I won’t be completing Blood Knights. It’s just that poor. I mean I want to, because I like finishing things–whether that’s art projects, books, nicely cooked meals, laundry, whatever–but the amount of frustration this undead monstrosity is throwing in my face is not needed. Not in 2017, not in 2018, not ever. I’d rather eat a garlic bread sandwich and watch the sun rise. Thankfully, Deck13 Interactive’s hack-and-slash RPG from 2013 can now participate in my highly praised and much copied PlayStation Plus purge program.

For those that don’t know, like me when I got this thing for free for PlayStation Plus some many months back, Blood Knights is a downloadable action RPG for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game was developed by German studio Deck13 Interactive and published by Kalypso Media, also from Germany. You play as bland-as-bread Jeremy, a renowned vampire hunter who is trailing behind a priest in order to stop an army of blood-suckers who have stolen the Blood Seal, a magical artifact which…due to it being stolen, shattered the moon. I won’t fault you for not comprehending that sentence because I played the game for a couple hours and did not comprehend much altogether. Also, Jeremy has been “bonded” to a female vampire named Alysa for unclear reasons. Well, maybe videogamey reasons.

Blood Knights features both single player and local cooperative gameplay modes, but does not allow for online co-op, and so my short time with it was spent playing by my lonesome, mouth agape in disbelief at almost every step of the way. When playing solo, you can swap between Jeremy and Alysa with the touch of a button, which strangely has a short cool-down period, but the other character simply disappears from the level instead of hanging around, being controlled by AI and helping you fight the bad guys. Both share the same lifebar too. Which is strange for a game built on co-op and dropping in and out of play, but hey, I’m no videogame developer.

The main gameplay is linear dungeon crawling with sword swingin’, loosing arrows, magic spells, and picking up loot, kind of like Diablo 3, but far inferior. Far, far inferior. You gain experience points and pick up small piles of gold along the way as you battle back people who hate vampires, and all of that feeds into upgrading your character’s skills or buying new gear, but I found the menu UI and look to be so ugly that it was difficult to even navigate. I struggled to see the stat differences between the weapon on the ground and the weapon in Jeremy’s hands that I often left the sword where it lay. Same goes for each character’s respective skill tree and the controller layout, both of which are hard to grok. Attacking enemies is unsatisfying, even with Jeremy having a super-move clearly inspired by the likes of one Crash Bandicoot.

I feel like it is almost cruel to talk about the game’s graphics and voice acting–because they are atrocious, a heavy adjective for sure–but it’s a big part of what turned me almost immediately off of Blood Knights. Here is the game’s intro. Everything is so wooden and, excuse the wordplay, lifeless, from how the characters move to their speech to the attempt at creating a stirring moment from a dramatic score. I also experienced a good amount of jank, such as frequent slowdowns and popping and flickering shadows. This speaks to the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation as a whole, but there’s also a ton of light bloom happening in nearly every scene. Lastly, take notice of how Jeremy is dressed in a full set of armor, and Alysa is yet another highly sexualized female protagonist for the industry, forced to do battle against enemies with swords and spears in an outfit incapable of protecting her skin from getting poked.

Blood Knights isn’t even close to mediocre. Cue the sunrise.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.