Engrossing gameplay so far. The world looks fantastic. Fidget is definitely designed for cuteness overload. DustAnElysianTail PC

Getting an early Christmas present this year, Insanity Prevails has been gifted the forty-first round of Articles of Excellence with his review for Gundemonium Recollection. A "bullet hell" title - which is a sub-genre of the standard shoot 'em up for the curious out there - he describes it as a title that may be hard for newcomers or stock standard for returning gamers, but can be a fun title with an interesting theme to it.

 Gundemonium Recollection     Score: 3.5/5
 Genre: Bullet Hell Shooter

 So my final thoughts? It's a fun game that throws up some interesting scenarios and a wonderful setting.

quote Insanity Prevails
Bullet hell shooters are relatively rare from Western developers but Japan - especially their indie scene - certainly has no shortage of them. While we may be waiting forever for the ever popular Touhou to find an actual release over here, Rockin' Android have seen fit to pick up a different set of games to tempt English speaking audiences with. Gundemonium Recollection is the first of these games.

The setting provides us with an interesting alternate 18th century world where alchemy has allowed mankind to progress further (aka welcome to steampunk). But this power comes from a dark source and the world becomes victim to a demonic army pouring out. When an artificial being designed to counter them is subsequently captured and turned against humanity, the Rosenkreuz Foundation step in.

While the back story is nice, you might be hard pressed to fully take in the story during the game. Other than the blurb in the manual, the rest of the story progression is handled purely in text blurbs that crop up in intermission screens that appear between levels and these more tend to be "something happened, go there now" sort of thing. I found it hard to really get involved in the plot, leaving me to focus entirely on the action.
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The thirty-first round of Articles of Excellence saw a return to number one for Dark Moor with her winning review of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Despite describing it as a great game which fixes the problems of the previous title, she also discusses the new faults of the sequel including a seemingly rushed ending and backwards sense of difficulty progression.

 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings     Score: 4.2/5
 Genre: Fantasy RPG

 The Witcher 2 feels like it tiptoed a number of steps forward, but then took many steps to the side. Just about every minor problem from the first game was fixed up here, but unfortunately, the few problems that exist manages to bring the game down quite a significant amount.

quote Dark Moor
In the past, I had reviewed The Witcher, and yes, I did seem fangirly in that review, but it was a very well designed game with the only issues being that it takes lengthy periods of time to load and a few quests every now and again were pretty lame. Regardless, I had very, very high hopes for the sequel, certainly more than I had for Duke Nukem Forever (although kudos to Gearbox for letting us finally play it), and when it finally arrived at my doorstep, I rushed to my computer to install it, and while waiting, I grabbed a box full of Coke cans because goddammit, I want to play the hell out of this game - and you know what, this game is *bleep*ing awesome. It, however, seems to have a few problems that just leaves me gobsmacked, especially the menu's interface, but more on that later. Right now, let's just get on with the review!

So what kind of adventure are we going on for this game? Well, what happens is that Geralt is accused of killing a lot of kings and is then thrown into the slammer. He manages to escape, and is out to clear his name, but to do that, he must uncover a series of conspiracies while trying to regain his memories (yeah... he still has amnesia). Once again, the direction that the story goes depends heavily on the decisions that you make throughout - no two playthroughs are the same unless you make the exact same choices on a subsequent playthrough. Even the smallest choices can make big impacts, especially early on. Killing certain folks obviously means you don't see them again, but if you spare their lives, you may meet them again, and their insistence on living will make an impact on the story. Same for... really, anything within the confides of this game, like how you interact with everyone. What keeps things interesting is that it's not always between good and evil; it can simply be between two things. I really love this in a game - when the choices you make ACTUALLY make an IMPACT on the story, instead of just changing the dialogue.
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The twenty-ninth round of Articles of Excellence continues the indie flavour, with Dark Arcanine winning the round with his review of Trine. He describes it as an overall great game with an engaging atmosphere and enjoyable puzzles, though it does create a want for more content and a longer lifespan in the process.

 Trine     Score: 4.0/5
 Genre: Side-scrolling Action Platformer and Puzzle

 So with a decent plot, engrossing atmosphere and highly enjoyable puzzle system, Trine proves itself a winner amongst the ever growing sea of indie titles.

quote Dark Arcanine
Developed by Frozenbyte, Trine is an indie side-scrolling puzzle game. Nothing new, I hear you say? Well, the difference between Trine and a lot of other indie titles (coughZenoClashcough), is that it’s actually a good game on multiple levels, and not just relying on one element or, even worse, a mere empty husk. Set in the good old medieval world of knights and castles, Trine sees you playing through its 15 levels with an unlikely trio of heroes: a bold and rather brash knight, an acrobatic and sneaky thief, and an eccentric lady-loving wizard. Boasting puzzles, platforming and fighting, Trine successfully combines a multitude of genres to produce an indie title that is actually worthy of attention, allowing it to standout amongst the ever growing crowd.

Upon starting your game, you find yourself participating in three short tutorials, effectively introducing you to each of the three characters. Upon all three characters having show off their personal skills and reaching the same spot, the plot starts to unfold. Each places their hand on a three-sided magical artefact known as the Trine. Feeling an unquestionable magical power, the three find themselves bound together, their souls entwined and their paths merged into one exciting quest. In an attempt to free themselves from one another, as well as saving the kingdom on the side from an army of the undead, the fateful trio set out into a once beautiful world, now ravaged by the forces of evil.
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With the twenty-eighth round finished, Monterey Jack has ceased his winning streak to hand over the round to Dark Moor for her review of Capsized. She describes it as having a solid core, but also as having a short lifespan and features that seem added on for the sake of it.

 Capsized     Score: 3.8/5
 Genre: Side-scrolling Action Platformer

 Capsized is a good game, but it could use some work. The presentation is fantastic, and the game itself is a rather exciting romp. However, it's too short, and the additional modes are tacked on at best, stopping this game from being the masterpiece it could've been.

quote Dark Moor
Crash landing on a far away planet is never fun. What usually happens is that you end up stranded in a wasteland or a series of dark caves and space stations, not to mention alien food! From classics like Doom and Metroid, to even newer games like Bulletstorm, this is a theme that is common, but far from overused, and remains fresh as a result. So... why not have one more game like this? Capsized is a game that takes its cues from games like Contra, Metroid and other such run and gun games, but does so in a way that makes it quite refreshing and well worth your time and money.

There isn't exactly a story to look forward to or anything in this game. Basically, you, an unnamed astronaut, and your crew of other unnamed astronauts crash land on a planet, and now you have to fight through alien hordes while rescuing crew members and finding a way to get off the planet. The astronauts are completely silent, outside of a few grunts and moans every now and again, and the only text is in the menu and a few tutorial segments here and there. It's not a problem, but it always feels like something could've been done. With that said, thanks to the gameplay, it's not going to matter too much.
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Seeing out the twenty-fourth round of Articles of Excellence, Dark Moor has taken out another win with her review of Super Meat Boy. Although it may not have much going for it plot-wise, it makes up for it with fun gameplay with difficulty to make you... think, and a catchy soundtrack to boot. If you're a fan of difficulty and achievements, this could be the platformer for you.

 Super Meat Boy     Score: 4.5/5
 Genre: Platformer

 Super Meat Boy is a great platformer. It has tough but fair and balanced difficulty backed up by simple yet effective gameplay and a bloody awesome soundtrack.

quote Dark Moor
Beginning life as a game on Newgrounds, Meat Boy enjoyed a decent amount of success, though it was criticised for having slippery controls. But either way, it was popular enough to entice the creators to try and make a full game out of it, available for download on Xbox Live and Steam (and Wiiware... oh wait, that version got canned.. whoops). Well, some time later, for under fifteen dollars, you can sign your life away to play a simple little platformer... that goes from manageable to STOP IT DADDY IT HURTS difficult. It will consume your soul, and the only way you're getting it back is by beating the game...

There isn't much in the way of a story... Meat Boy's girlfriend, Bandage Girl, gets kidnapped by Dr Fetus, and Meat Boy has to rescue her. Nice. Grade A story right there, folks! It's told in cutscenes that occur when you enter a world, and before and after the boss level, but as you should expect, it's nothing deep or meaningful; just simple old school storytelling of "for me to know and you to find out". There are references towards other video games, most notably Super Mario Brothers (if you're not sure, it's in the title and the concept of the minus levels), which gives the story a bit of flavor, but overall, it's nothing overly special.
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Several people scored votes in the twenty-third round of Articles of Excellence, with Dark Moor acquiring the most for her review of the point-and-click game, The Whispered World. Although she's full of praise for some aspects such as the beautiful graphics, the overall opinion is hacked down by such negative aspects as the voice acting and the puzzle-solving, with the combination resulting in a case of gaming irritation.

 The Whispered World     Score: 1.7/5
 Genre: Puzzle Adventure

 The Whispered World is not absolutely terrible, but too many puzzles requiring dumb luck and generally not being accomplishing in any way, plus the irritating and nearly story destroying voice acting just hurt this game to the point of no return.

quote Dark Moor
When you think of adventure games, what's the first thing to come to your mind? Zelda? Maniac Mansion? Shadowgate? Myst? Obviously, the best examples are in the point and click subgenre - with no disrespect towards Zelda, which opts for d-pads/analogue sticks for movement rather than pointing and clicking - and you'd be a bloody fool for not agreeing that the best adventure games are point and click ones. Most of them have well thought out puzzles and some pretty clever storylines and dialogue. They're surprisingly enjoyable, but I don't feel the need to spend hours typing up why that is. Unfortunately, there was a decline for a good few years due to the popularity of first person shooters, but with the rise of Flash and the DS, it got back on its feet. I would say good thing because we'd never experience this game, but then I'd be lying... I mean, I love some of the modern point and click adventure games like the Sam And Max and Tales Of Monkey Island games, and I'm grateful that this style is getting more popular, but that doesn't change the fact that The Whispered World is just really mediocre, bordering on absolute garbage at times...

So our main hero, Sadwick, has recurring nightmares of the apocalypse that he causes... I suppose thoughts of the world ending stem from the fact that he's a down and out circus clown that's one step away from pulling to trigger and ending it all. Coincidently, there's a prophecy stating that Sadwick will end the world. Come on, the lad is clearly depressed. Don't make him feel worse about himself! But I suppose whatever motivates him to actually save the world will do. Oh, and he has to save the king from an illness by finding the Whispered Stone, lest the realm be taken over by Asgil, the kingdom's opposing race... What gives the story its legs are the characters and the writing. The writing can be pretty witty, although sometimes annoying due to Sadwick's extremely pessimistic outlook on like (his dialogue can get tiresome after a while, let's just say), and also due to an imperfect German-to-English translation; what could be a gutbuster ends up being amusing, as the dialogue can feel stilted and often fairly awkward, but then there are some very well written moments to balance that out. Overall, the story - at least, if it was presented as a book - ends up very compelling, if a bit on the crappy side due to mistranslation.
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