Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon is developed by Red Hook where the player manages a roster of characters, called Heroes to conquer and cleanse dungeons. However, it is not a rosy adventure: the game is designed to constantly exploit the player’s carelessness and severely punish him for it. In Darkest Dungeon, Heroes do not wear shiny armours who triumph over their enemies; they are survivors who have witnessed the true horrors.

Lens #7: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics

Darkest Dungeon is heavily inspired by the Lovecraftian genre for its aesthetics and writing style, with slight gory depictions thrown into the mix. The art style uses 2D Sprites with a stylised heavy outline, with the white of the eyes rarely drawn and gives each character a sense of weariness, hopelessness, and mystery. They exude grim, desperation, but also conviction; perhaps the three things needed when death is always around the corner.

Mechanics

This review excludes mechanics exclusive to DLCs and focuses on the basic version of the game.

Undeniably, Darkest Dungeon mechanics is arguably its main selling point. It is a well-designed, complex and interlinked mechanics that work together to create a vivid experience of an unforgiving adventure.

Gruesome and Permanent Implications

At its core, Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based strategy, dungeon crawler game. It is about making the best out of the worst. As stated in the disclaimer of the game: `Quests will fail or must be abandoned. Heroes will die. And when they die, they stay dead.` Essentially, actions are permanent. Characters are designed to be, at a moment of carelessness, wiped out by the enemy. The game punishes you for every mistake you make. This causes every decision taken to be significant and keeps the player to be on the edge.

Stress

Darkest Dungeon introduces stress bar(white bar), in addition to the usual health bar. Stress is, as the name suggests, the amount of stress the character is going through. Characters can gain stress through a myriad of causes such as triggering traps, witnessing horrors, get affected by specific enemies’ abilities, or even by being in a prolonged fight. Here is the deal with stress level: characters will experience instant deathregardless of health or buffsonce the character hits the maximum level of stress. In addition to putting another layer of strategy of avoiding stress(especially since there are very few abilities that counter stress), this mechanic keeps enforcing the idea of how gruesome an adventure can be.

Personality of Each Character

Each character is unique in Darkest Dungeon. In addition to the usual lineup of information: name, equipment, and class, the game introduce QuirksQuirks are buffs/debuffs that can affect the character both inside and outside adventures. It can be as basic as +5 DODGE to being Kleptomaniac (chance to steal loot from the player). While it serves as game mechanics, these traits are personal to each character. Traits give them their own identity and enable the player to be more emotionally invested with them. With the permanent death system in place, this makes losing them in the dungeon hurts even more.    

Story

The story begins with one of our predecessors grew bored of living lavishly and decided to spend his fortune away to study the unknown and excavate countless dungeons buried away under his estate. In doing so, he mistakenly released monsters and horrors from within. Workers going insane, missing and countless encounters with abominationsit was only time before the estate is overrun by the vile creatures. In his hopelessness, he sends a plea to the player to clean this mess and reclaim the former glory of the estate before it is too late.

But that is not all. Bits and pieces of information are scattered across the dungeons as journals left behind by unfortunate adventurers who were unable to make it out. Collecting these journals is as hard as it gets since players must sacrifice inventory slots that can be filled with life-saving supplies or precious loots.

Technology

Darkest Dungeon runs on Windows 7+ with the minimum requirements as follows: 2 GB RAM, Open GL 3.2+ Compliant, and has at least 2 GB available space.

Website: https://www.darkestdungeon.com/

Darkest Dungeon Official Early Access Release Trailer:

League of Legends

League of Legends(LOL) is a fast-paced, competitive online game, Two teams of five powerful champions, each with a unique design and playstyle, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent updates and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.

Official website: https://play.na.leagueoflegends.com/en_US

Here is a video showing the basics of the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IMnqEga6tc

 

Elemental tetrad

Mechanics:

  • Various game modes:
    • LOL provides various game modes, including Classic 5v5, rank 5v5, all random all mid(ARAM), and many other limited modes only served for certain periods. The various modes cater for different types of players. Rank is for competitive players, ARAM is for fun and variety.
  • Champions:
    • Three champions are free to play, and there are 10 other free Champions each week. One need to earn money to permanently unlock a champion
    • Champions can be classified by many criteria: skills, positions
    • Every Champions can carried with addtional base abilities and skills, which can have many combinations and influence the game a lot
    • skills are classifed into: passive, active. Active skills can be classified into ground-targeted(which can influence many units) and unit targeted.
  • Map:
    • Maps are divided into various regions: lanes, jungles, dragon area. which gives different interactions with enviroments
    • vision is limited for a team. minions, towers, wardens can provide vision, which causes “vision battle”(battle for visions)
    • There various resources can be retrieved from different region, which  provide champions exp and money to level up and buy stuff.

Aesthetics:

  • Champions are designed with details and catered for most people’s aesthetics.
  • Apart from that, each champion has various skins(a different character theme different from the default). For each skin, animations of move, attack, skills and dance are different.
  • Maps is detailed decorated also. And there are special decorations for special events.
  • New songs are written every year for the championship. This year is pretty good!!

Story:

  •  Each champion have attractive background  stories. The whole background stories are giant like a history of some kingdoms.
  • Though the story line is not quite related to each match. But champions will have special interactions if they have some stories.

Technology:

  • It doesn’t require special technologies, modern computers with windows OS can run it

Lens 4: Curiosity

  • The champions’ skills are designed without limitations on usage. Players are trying to reveal different uasge during the match. The most common one is “R flash”, which is a combination of the ultimate of a champion and flash skills to make undesirable outcome of normal ultimate
  • PVP mode is unlocked only after lv5. Rank mode is unlocked only after lv30, And more modes are keep developed. This cause players’ curiosity to level up and try different things.
  • Champions are also unlocked with enough money. players are to find how the champion is like after many game experience.

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

  1. LOL can improve your physical response. This is a game that has a lot of details which means that you will have to sharpen your senses (especially your sight) if you want to be successful in it. You must be able to click on the right place at the right time and that requires a great amount of precision.
  2. LOL also train your cooperation and communication skills, it needs a team to highly cooperate especially for team fight. The neotiation of the strategy also needs good communication skills.
  3. Sports spirit: the match is never ended until the time the base is down. There was a team couterattack the opponents with only 50-health base. So nothing is impossible, LOL also teaches you never give up.
  4. Strategic thoughts: As the game rule is very important, there are many ways you can win the game.Thus, it highly depends on how you plan the game and what strategy you are playing to win this game. You are like the commander in a war.To win, you must have a deep view of the battle and a sharp mind.
  5. Selecting units, browsing the map, using spells…all these things can improve your multi-tasking abilities and ultimately they will keep your brain alert and functioning properly. Improved multitasking can help you finish your everyday activity more easily.

Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life is a role-playing adventure game where you take up Life Classes, complete various townsfolk’s requests and perhaps even save the world. There are up to 12 different vocations with each having their own special set of quests and stories. The players can switch between the Life Classes as and when they like, experiencing the game in their own unique ways.

Visit Official Website

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics

The mechanics of having multiple classes’ where each has skills that may aid in the progression of another are well-balanced in Fantasy Life. In turn, it encourages players to experiment and experience a wide range of vocations on their play through.

For example, you may craft a set of armor as a Blacksmith for when you head out to fight as a Paladin. You can gather meat ingredients from your battles as a Paladin or fish for seafood as an Angler. Then, from the ingredients you’ve gathered, create dishes as a Cook.

Story

The game has a main linear story focusing on the theme of community and kindness. It also acts as a mechanism to slowly unlock more content such as places to visit, yet finishing the main story does not necessarily put an end to the game due to the sub-stories in each Life Classes and other side quests. The abundance of stories is one of what keeps player clocking hours of game play.

Aesthetics

Characters in Fantasy Life can be customized from dozens of hairstyles, eye shapes and even voices to let players really make the character their own. The somewhat cute design choice for the game graphics gives a “feel good” vibe that can appeal to both genders, while the size difference between the player and higher level bosses evoke a sense of thrill and intensity. The latter experience is further enhanced through the use of fast-paced background music.

Technology

Fantasy Life is published on the Nintendo 3DS platform. It utilizes the stereoscopic 3D effects to heighten immersion in its world as well as tapped on Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass functionality for players to exchange gifts with others they met on the street, cultivating a sense of community. These experiences are only achievable through the Nintendo 3DS console.

Putting All Together

Viewing the above 4 elements together, it can be seen that they overall contribute to the setting and concept of positivity, community and excitement of discovery.

Lens #4: The Lens of Curiosity

One of another drive for players to clock hundred of hours into the game is curiosity. Each Life Class has multiple rankings and ranking up unlocks new moves and quests. Sometimes, they can even unlock new in-game characters to join their party and embark on the adventure together.

These potential achievements have players pose questions like “What challenges will I receive next?” or “What skills does this NPC have? How do they fight?”, pushing them to set their own goals and eventually reach the highest rank possible.

Lens #18: The Lens of Flow

Fantasy Life does a good job in keeping the players in the flow channel. The core mechanics are not difficult to learn and certainly not hard to master. Instead, the difficulty comes from the quality of the weapons and gear the player has acquired in their game.

They’d start off with basic tools that does an average job at crafting or fighting which gives a good challenge. Then, they’ll eventually earn better tools that makes all current activities easier. But progression also leads to discovering new places and monsters to yet again challenge their existing tools. The repeating cycle of increasing challenge and reward gives a satisfying journey from the start to the end.

Lens #25: The Lens of Goals

The marketing line for Fantasy Life by Nintendo is the ability to “play it your way” and they have certainly been able to achieve that.

Even though the game strongly hints players to switch between Life Classes throughout their game play, they can still enjoy the game should they do otherwise. This freedom of choice is not by chance but a deliberate game design decision evident from how attainable self-made goals by the player base are. For example, players can choose to take up crafting and not gathering Life Classes while still enjoy the game as materials that can be gathered by the latter are purchasable in-game — they just need to earn enough dosh (the in-game currency).

Lens #37: The Lens of Cooperation

Fantasy Life supports both local and online multiplayer with each giving a slightly different experience.

Local multiplayer can induce active communication between players during tough fights as players — especially those cooperating with different Life Classes — need to act on what they do best. For example, a Wizard may need to communicate for the team to gather around before casting its healing spell since it has a limited range of effect.

On the other hand, similar on-demand communication is harder to achieve through online multiplayer due to its limited chatting capabilities. Players are indeed able to chat through text communication, however this mode of communication seems impractical during intensive combat. Besides text chat, players can bind their D-pad keys to emote actions but the limit of up to 4 actions can feel rather restrictive when human communication is a complex phenomenon.

Images in this article are properties of Nintendo and used for nonprofit educational purposes only.

Subnautica

Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Introduction

Subnautica is a first-person, open-world, survival-adventure game set in the alien planet 4546B, with a vast ocean full of flora and fauna for the player to explore, among other mysterious things. The player is quite literally thrown into an underwater world of unknown as soon as the game starts and is left with two things: a damaged lifepod, and a lot of questions. Throughout the campaign, the player collects resources to survive, craft, explore, and uncover the mysteries that the alien world has to offer.

Lens 7: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics

Subnautica’s world, despite having fictional organisms that don’t resemble ones found in real life, is a highly believable and convincing underwater world. The starting area of Subnautica, the Safe Shallows, mimics an ocean the way we know it as, by having a diverse ecosystem ranging from corals, harmless fishes for human consumption, and predatory fishes that retaliate when threatened.

Figure 1: Fauna of Safe Shallows. Left to Right: Stalker, Peeper, and Gasopod.

However, venturing further and deeper from the Safe Shallows, things get weirder, more dangerous, and further away from the player’s expectations of a safe ocean, like how players would imagine the deep oceans to be. This is how the developers of Subnautica use a player’s preconceived notions and expectations of an “ocean” and “deep waters” to build a believable world that players fully immerse themselves in.

Figure 2: Dangerous Fauna found in deeper biomes. Left to Right: Crabsnake, and Ampeel

Mechanics

Subnautica is all about exploration and adventure. Scripted events that occur throughout the game often prompt the player to go to a specific location that is often deeper and further from the safe zone, or to find a location that is in an area that the player has yet to venture into. For example, distress calls sent to the player’s radio will often send specific coordinates that show up on the player’s Heads-Up Display (HUD), and is a simple task that gives the player a sense of direction in an otherwise open-ended world, and along the way the player will discover new creatures, resources, and biomes.

Story

The player takes on the character of Ryley Robinson, the lone survivor of the Aurora crash, and his objective is to escape Planet 4546B and back to Earth. However, as he explores the planet, he begins to uncover the history behind Planet 4546B, the inhabitants that came before, both human and alien. He tries to escape the planet via the Sunbeam, a passing cargo ship, but it was shot down by an alien facility, which Ryley will then have to find a way to deactivate.

The story of Subnautica is both linear and emergent, which plays into its open-world. Set plot points such as the Aurora’s explosion and the Sunbeam’s evacuation efforts will always happen, and they serve to push the narrative forward while the player explores the world. While the game offers scripted events in the form of distress calls, the player can opt not to go to them and still complete the game.

Technology

Subnautica is playable in VR, with headsets such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, with the input of keyboard and mouse or a game controller. The game is also made in Unreal Engine 4.

Lens 18: Flow

Subnautica constantly challenges the player to venture into deeper waters, usually with harsher terrain and more aggressive creatures, in order to progress with the game. Players might find it too hard to enter a dangerous, and essential biome like the Lava Castle for the Kyanite resource, however a player can always return to base, build himself a Prawn Suit (which should be available at this point), and have a sturdy vehicle to navigate the Lava Castle in, and collect Kyanite in the safety of the suit. In this way, Subnautica effectively turns challenges that can be solved in more interesting ways, which usually involve exploration and crafting.
Figure 3: The unforgiving Lava zone biome

Lens 4: Curiosity

Half of Subnautica’s experience is curiosity. The other is the player’s resolution of said curiosity. Often while exploring, players will meet a temporary obstacle that they can’t overcome with their current equipment, and will naturally feel curious about what’s behind it, like a door that requires a Laser Cutter to get through, or a biome too deep for his Seamoth to venture deeper without appropriate Depth Upgrades. To reinforce this form of gameplay, rewards often lie beyond said obstacles, and hence lead players to actively solve newfound obstacles.
Figure 4: A sealed door being opened by a Laser Cutter

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

While the end goal is made clear to the player at the start of the game in Subnautica, working towards getting off the planet is not the endogenous value of the game. Ironically, exploration of the planet itself is endogenous to the game’s value, so much so that I felt a bittersweet feeling after managing to escape the planet full of diverse and interesting biomes, with lots still left to do.

The feeling of novelty every time the player picks up a new raw material, encounters a new creature, enters a new biome, and experience a new part of the narrative, is the experience that Subnautica offers to its players. The novelty keeps players wanting more from Planet 4546B to explore, and I believe that this is the most important part of Subnautica.

Lens 9: Unification Theme

Every single gameplay mechanic Subnautica has to offer points towards exploration. A prime example is its survival aspect, which features thirst and hunger meters. When a player gets hungry or thirsty while exploring and does not have food and water reserves in his limited inventory, he is forced to stop exploring, and return to his base for food and water. The survival mechanic clearly inhibits one’s ability to explore in Subnautica. However, by forcing the player back to base, which often has a bigger inventory of resources gathered from the past and a Fabricator which can craft more items, Subnautica gets the player to revisit what he can and cannot craft, so that the player either gets a hint as to what he needs to look out for and where to go, or unlocks an entirely new area for exploration made possible with new equipment, for his next venture.

 

Portal 2

Introduction

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform game developed and published by Valve Corporation. It was released in 2011 and is available on both PC and console. In the game, the player controls the protagonist, Chell, to use a portal gun that can create two interconnected portals, to pass through a variety of dangerous laboratories and gradually uncover the history of the Aperture Science Laboratory.

Story

The entire game flow can be roughly divided into three parts.
In the first part, the personality core Wheatley attempts to lead Chell, the protagonist, to escape from the lab, but accidentally awakened GLaDOS, she put Chell back into the lab and started a series of lab tests. In the later stage, Wheatley managed to reach Chell and helped her escape again. On the way they escape, the destroyed a series of lab infrastructure, and finally came to the room where GLaDOS is located. Then, they performed a core exchange, replacing GLaDOS with Wheatley as the administrator of the lab. But Wheatley suddenly changed his mind and dropped Chell and the wreck of GLaDOS’ personality core to the lab’s lowest level.
Then, in the second part, Chell saved GLaDOS, which was made into a potato battery, from a bird, and form a temporary partnership to get back to the lab and stop Wheatley from destroying the lab. They passed through many labs built in the early years by the Aperture Science, and discovered audio prerecorded by the founder Cave Johnson, which recorded the process of Aperture Science’s gradual demise. These recordings also helped GLaDOS knew her origin was the mind of Caroline, Johnson’s assistant.
Finally, in the last part, the duo returned to the modern test room, and completed a number of challenges created by Wheatley. When they finally met Wheatley again, Chell placed a portal on the moon, they were both pulled into space, but GLaDOS retrieved her and left Wheatley in space. GLaDOS learned a lot from Caroline’s remnants, but then deleted it. Chell was also released and sent to the surface.
Image result for <i>Portal 2</i> blue screen

Mechanics

In the single-player campaign, the player controls Chell to use her portal gun to move (almost) freely in the lab, making use of the items provided in the labs, like cubes, buttons or lasers to open the gate to the elevator and move to next level. As the game progresses, the type of interactable items in the scene also increases.
In the levels, there are also some items lethal to Chell. If she died, the game would automatically load from the most recent checkpoint, or the most recent elevator.
But one of the differences with other first-person games is that there is no falling damage, the official explanation is from Chell’s special shoes, which absorb the impact force.
With the help of her portal gun and the special shoes, she can do lots of things almost impossible in the real world. One of the most commonly used techniques is to use a pair of portals to convert her vertical speed into horizontal speed to get a long jump.
Image result for glados concept art

Aesthetics

The three parts of the single-player campaign show player the first part of Portal 2 uses some maps from the Portal 1, but since in Portal 2, most facilities in the lab are no longer functional, these maps are often full of weeds, or scattered with bare steel bars, rendering a sense of apocalypse. In the second part, the environment is infiltrated with the traditional architectural style of the 80s, the walls, floors are all in color of bronze. While in the third part, it gets back to the modern design, but Wheatley’s crazy modification of the lab can be seen everywhere.

Technology

Portal 2 is developed using Valve Corporation’s Source 2 game engine. This engine is widely used among games developed by the Valve, including the Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and one of the most famous FPS games, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The hardware requirement of Portal 2 is very user-friendly, an antique Nvidia GeForce 7600 is already enough for the minimal requirement. It is quite affordable by most PC players at that year. For now, almost any graphics card can provide the highest visual experience of this game.
At the same time, Portal 2 can be played on most popular operating systems. Not until early 2014 did it released the Linux version.

Lens #06/#52: The lens of problem-solving/puzzle

This lens seems to be the core of Portal 2, since the whole game flow is surrounded by puzzle solving. Players need to use the portal gun, and to interact with the items in the scene, to solve one and another puzzle and find out the elevator to the next level. Although in this process, there would be lots of attempts and retries, and the players may feel confused when they are stuck in some levels, when they finally reach the elevator, they would feel a strong sense of achievement. It is this thinking-solving pattern that encourages the player to solve every puzzle in each stage.

Lens #86: The lens of community

In additional, the Steam workshop provides the community with tools to create their own levels, introducing new challenges to the advanced players. Players can freely make their own levels and invite their friends to play them, also, they can publish the levels to the workshop, and let more players to enjoy their imagination. There is even a production-quality mod of Portal 2 named Portal Stories: Mel, which tells the story happens between the Portal 1 and Portal 2.
Also, Steam community provides a place for players to share their gaming experiences, like the screenshot, the walkthrough, etc. Players can make friends in the community and invite them to play together, in the cooperative mode.
Image result for <i>Portal 2</i> gameplay

Lens #02/03: The lens of surprise/fun

During the game process, the player is not alone. At the beginning and the ending of each level/lab, the narrator, either GLaDOS or Wheatley or someone else, will say something in a characteristic tone. The topics are also very wide, from jokes to the background of the story, players can always find some surprise from them.

Lens #45: The lens of the story

Compared with Portal 1, Portal 2 has a complete storyline. The history of Aperture Science, the wake of GLaDOS’ humanity, and the betray of Wheatley, these all form the universe of Portal 2. At the same time, peripheral products like the comic Lab Rat, are also additions to the game’s background, providing players a more immersive experience.

Jurassic World Evolution

 

Jurassic World Evolution:

The game’s primary objective is to build a 5-star park with dinosaur attractions. The park planning is all around the dinosaurs, from fossil excavation to park amenities placement.

Link to official website: https://www.jurassicworldevolution.com/en-GB#masthead

Gameplay video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxKxX0NN7is

[Random comment: The name of the game doesn’t really capture its essence. When I see the word ‘evolution’, I think of ‘Evolve’, a PvP survival game.]

Analysis by lenses:

#1 Emotion:

With a setting that has a close resemblance to the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies, this game is really meant for Jurassic Park fans.

The player builds the park on the same islands in the movie, with the same attractions, dinosaurs and more. Famous characters come together to tell a story as you progress in the game. If there’s any detail which the player missed in the movies, they are likely able to find it here.

They even turned the games’ weakness into their strength: long loading times. Instead of keeping the players waiting, they sometimes flash quotes from the movies, which jogs the players’ memory of the movie and helps to keep them emotionally engaged while waiting.

 

#2 Essential Experience

Although the game’s objective is to build a five star park, but actually to get your visitors to really like your dinosaurs. On one hand, out of the 2 components of park rating, dinosaur rating is usually the limiting factor as it starts off really low. On the other hand, good facility rating is easy to achieve, as long as the amenities around your dinosaur enclosures have variety and are well-planned.

Other than just focussing on park building, the game actually forces the players to go into many details, such as the various stages of acquiring the dinosaurs. You have to unlock dig sites, excavate fossils, extract dinosaur DNA, research genes, modify your dinosaur genome, and finally incubate it before a 5 star dinosaur is actually released. Any dinosaur that stops short of any of these stages will give subpar ratings.

#4 Surprise

Now that the player finally gets down into the business of building their park, something ‘interesting’ happens.

With Dr Ian Malcolm narrating the base story of the game, you can be certain that there will be ‘chaos’ in the game. The game teaches the player how to get a park up and running, but does not warn them about the things that can ‘go wrong’.

Most of these events are familiar if they have watched the movies: Tyrannosaurus fence break, tornadoes, sickness, even sabotage (to as early as the first movie’s Dennis Nedry), and they can all happen when the player is not paying attention.

#7 Endogenous Value

Success means many different things to different players. Beneath the ultimate goal of building a 5-star park, there are many different statistics that can measure success, such as dinosaur variety, highest combat victories on dinosaur, guest count, profit. The list is quite long.

The player also builds the park for different contexts. At the start of the game, Dr Ian Malcolm issued the players with the challenge of the ‘5 deaths’, which refers to the 5 islands which the player is tasked to build the parks on. There is also a speedrun mode available for players up to the challenge.

 

#9 Elemental Tetrad

The game boasts of rich graphics, complete with music and ambient sounds depending on what is happening and what you are doing.

Behind your park lies the backstory of Jurassic Park, Hammond’s dreams and aspirations. Characters directly interact with your park through missions.

The player only has to focus on building the park and rating, visitors and profit will automatically follow. The game takes care of the movements and behavioural patterns of each visitor that enters the park and evaluates their spending and satisfaction scores into rating and profits.

Dr Ian Malcolm likes to talk about balance and chaos, and our game has 3 active agents that demands your attention. Storms and tornadoes come and go.

Of course, these require a rather powerful machine.

Undertale

Undertale is an indie role-playing game where the player controls a child who has fallen into the Underground, a place where monsters have been banished to after a war with humans. While attempting to return to the surface, the player interacts with a variety of different monsters, and can resolve conflicts by killing them or seeking a peaceful resolution.

Lens #7: Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics

Image result for undertale combat

Like in most role-playing games, Undertale features both an overworld, where the player is free to explore, look for treasure, and talk to Non-Player Characters, as well as a combat screen, which is transitioned to when a random encounter occurs or during scripted boss battles. The combat is where this game differs, as instead of a traditional turn-based battle, a hybrid bullet hell system is used instead. After an action is selected by the player, the player needs to avoid the enemy attack by moving a small heart they control around to avoid enemy projectiles. Players can either use the FIGHT or ACT options to win battles, with the exception of boss battles, which often involve new mechanics unique to that particular battle.

 

Story

The actions of the player in resolving conflict heavily influences the story, both in the way characters react to the player, as well as the events that occur. The game features multiple branching endings, depending on the player’s actions throughout the game.

The game starts out with a light-hearted and humorous tone, but gradually becomes more serious and emotional as the player progresses. Throughout their journey, the player is able to learn about the backstory of the events of the game.

 

Aesthetics

Graphically, the game is simplistic and lacks detail. However, the characters are still able to convey emotions effectively through animations and small changes in their sprites.

The music in the game, on the other hand, is one of its best aspects. Both the location and character themes accurately capture a appropriate sense of feeling when listening to them. The soundtrack also makes heavy use of leitmotifs, and this is used to call reference back to previously encountered areas or characters.

 

Technology

The game was made in GameMaker Studio. It originally was released on PC, but was later ported to various other platforms.

 

Lens #32: The Lens of Meaningful Choices

The player is offered meaningful choices in two different areas, the aforementioned story, as well as in choice of equipment. As most of the equipment in this game has special effects, in addition to their attack and defence, the player can make different choices on what equipment to wear depending on their playstyle. For instance, a player can choose to wear equipment which has lower defence but offers a larger number of invincibility frames if they are getting hit often, or one with higher defence and passive health regeneration if they are confident in their ability to avoid being hit.

 

Lens #81: The Lens of Character Transformation

The characters in this game are one of its strong points, as they show a great amount of growth throughout the story if the player interacts with them. For instance, one character learns to be more confident and confront their problems, while an antagonist eventually expresses remorse over earlier actions. These changes feel relatable and are gradual enough to be believable.

 

Lens #6: The Lens of Problem Solving

There are some puzzles involved in the story, which mostly involve getting past some obstacle to get to the next screen. The combat is in itself a puzzle as well if the player chooses to ACT, as different monsters have to be pacified in different ways, through a combination of the actions available to the player.

 

Lens #2: The Lens of Surprise

The game makes use of metafictional elements, exploiting players tendencies to do certain actions. For instance, characters may react differently depending on the events that happened in a previous playthrough. This novel feature provides a big surprise to players, especially since special dialogue is encountered at places where the player is expected to use this feature.

 

Overall, Undertale is a fun, unique experience with a great story and memorable characters.

https://undertale.com/

Dota 2

Introduction

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III. Dota 2 is played in matches between two teams of five players, Each of the ten players independently controls a powerful character, known as a “hero”, who all have unique abilities and differing styles of play. A team wins by being the first to destroy a large structure located in the opposing team’s base, called the “Ancient”.

Related image

Element Tetrad

Mechanics

Players can control their heroes to move around the map. Hitting neutral units, enemy units or even friendly units for gold and experiences. Players can attack with normal attack or with 4 unique abilities on their chosen hero. Abilities can be further classified into magical damage, Physical damage or Pure damage. With the gold earned, players can purchase items which makes the hero more powerful. Wards can also be planted to provide vision for the player. Destroying the most important structure of the enemy to win the game.

Story

Each hero have their own back story on who they are and why are they involved in the battle. Heroes abilities also complement their story and characteristics.

Aesthetics

The overall colours of Dota 2 are darker and less vibrant with few heroes or skills exceptions. Players can also purchase cosmetics for heroes and change the look of their character or skill.

Image result for dota hero loadout

Lens 2 & 3: Surprises and fun

There are more than 100 unique heroes in Dota 2 currently. Interactions between each individual heroes is different, even if the hero is the same, different players go for different skill build or item build. Since players can move freely around the map, this makes Dota 2 full of surprises because one can hardly predict what is going to happen. This keep the player wanting to play more.

lens 38: challenge

Dota 2 has steep learning curve, learning 100+ unique heroes and 100+ items will take a long time. Different mechanics also take a lot of practices to master. Players are ranked according to their skills, as they get better they are paired with higher ranking opponents to make the game more challenging.

lens 37: Cooperation

Dota 2 is a team game, each of the 5 players have different roles to play and the team will fail if any of the roles are not being carried out properly. Unique hero combinations and item combinations is a key feature of the game. Due to the high team cooperation requirement, this game can often turn strangers into friends or friends into enemies.

Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon is a rogue-like, top down dungeon crawler developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital. In this game, the player descends into a dungeon of monsters with the goal to find the legendary gun to change their past. It is a simple game where players must dodge bullets, avoid traps, and slay the “Gundead” enemies. Players will discover randomly generated levels, with a lot of different (and often hilarious) guns, enemies, and bosses mixed in. For those familiar with The Binding of Issac, this game will seem like a fresh take, but without the heavy themes.

Aesthetics

Enter the Gungeon is aesthetically pleasing and follows art style similar to retro arcades. It follows a uniform theme, including music and artwork, which makes the effect more believable. In my opinion, for the mechanics of this game, this simplistic type of aesthetic complements the game well. In addition, this game takes an entertaining approach by making every aspect of the game, from weapons and enemies, all about guns.

Story

The focus of the game is centered around the ambitions of different adventurers’ who seek to rewrite their past at any cost. Overall, this simple, no-frills story really works in the favor of the overall experience of the game. For individuals who just want to experience the game and play with the mechanics, the story can be considered accessory to the game content. What lies beneath, however, is a rich story backstory about the dungeon that is hidden in the quests and random encounters along the way.

Mechanics

The focus put into the core mechanics is where the game shines. As mentioned previously, the game is all about guns. What really pleased me about Enter the Gungeon is the attention to detail – the number of discoverable guns and effects is enormous. Each of the guns have a unique firing pattern or reference to pop culture which makes playing the game more interesting. Another mechanic that stood out was the ability to avoid bullets by flipping tables for cover or dodge rolling. These are two very simple mechanics that can be performed by a button press to temporarily grant bullet immunity. In addition to these methods, those precise enough to weave through bullets may do so to avoid taking damage. Games like Enter the Gungeon allow casual players, but also rewards players with higher degree of mastery.

Technology

The game is built with Unity, which is well established technology, and is offered on various platforms such as PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch. This is a logical decision because the developer can reach a wide audience since the mechanics of the game itself does not require innovation.

Lens #2 – Surprise

Elements such as chests and discovering new guns and enemies feed the desire for surprises that our brains love. Furthermore, Enter the Gungeon keeps the element of surprise long after all the guns have been discovered through randomly generated levels and rooms.

Lens #3 – Fun

The lighthearted artwork and theme makes this a pleasurable experience for everyone, especially when compared to games of similar genre. However, for some individuals the fun of this game comes from the journey in mastering the game mechanics. The nature of this game is a double-edged sword, as many individuals would be drawn away from the game for the same reason.

Lens #4 – Curiosity

Nothing really entices curiosity like the large, empty encyclopedia the player starts with at the beginning of the game. As player discover new guns and enemies, the book fills up with the characters seen. This simple trick helps with the players curiosity and encourages the replay of the game. Also as previously mentioned, there is an air of mystery for the “optional” story. The game encourages players to discover the backstory by themselves, as interpreted by characters the player encounters.

Lens #9 – Unification Theme

Another point where the game shines is its strong unification theme with guns and retro gaming. It is very evident that Enter the Gungeon is using every means possible to enforce the theme of guns and retro gaming because of its one-dimensional approach, which almost feels like they are overdoing it. As a result, the game feel more complete and well designed because of the consistent theme.

 

Links below go to the official page and launch trailer:

http://dodgeroll.com/gungeon/

 

Hitman 2

Make the world your weapon

Introduction

HITMAN 2 is a stealth action game that involves taking part in missions centred around assassination. In this game, the player takes the role of Agent 47, the world’s most proficient assassin whose leaves absolutely no trace behind. HITMAN 2 instead of the first game in this trilogy will be analysed as HITMAN 2 already contains the game content from the first game, and contains some special features not present in the first game.

#9 The lens of the elemental tetrad

Aesthetics

Disregarding some minor shortcuts taken in rendering, each level in HITMAN is designed beautifully. The levels are often based off real life locations, as with this example which captures perfectly the dedication and effort spend in making these levels.

The atmosphere, ambience, and even the way NPCs speak and behave provide for an immersive experience, and you can feel as if you were walking down those roads yourself. As compared to the first season, HITMAN 2 added regional voices for each of the different missions, so a Colombian soldier in Santa Fortuna sounds like one, instead of having a flat American accent.

Most objects in the map are also interactable with in some way, either by directly interacting with the object, such as causing an oil barrel to leak, or are destructible when shot, even if it does not contribute to the assassination, such as shooting lamps and computers.

Mechanics

The game is fundamentally simple. Players control Agent 47 from either a third-person or first-person perspective, interact with objects in the map, and eliminate their targets.

One of the core mechanics of HITMAN is the disguise system. 47 can put on clothes that other NPCs are wearing, allowing him to enter areas which are normally out of bounds to him.

Some NPCs however can see through such disguises, forcing the player to stay on their toes for such enforcers. There is also no one disguise that grants access to the entire map, as such the player needs to switch disguises often if they wish to traverse the map as they like.

While the player is free to complete the missions in any way they like, be it through massacring the entire crowd, or through loud and noisy elimination methods, the game encourages the player to eliminate their targets through accidents or other silent methods without raising suspicion.

Technology

HITMAN was developed on the Glacier Engine, and is playable on PC, PS4, and Xbox 1. While the game does not require powerful hardware to run, it can get choppy if the player decides to go on a murder spree and kill everyone, as the ragdoll physics seems to kick in only for dead/unconscious NPCs.

Story

HITMAN follows the story of Agent 47, who is unknowingly assigned several contracts from a shadow client in the first season. The second season explores this shadow client and the organization they are up against.

Each mission has a story of their own, following NPCs around and listening to their dialogue lines reveals information about the targets, which while are not compulsory to learn, gives the player a better understanding of the targets around them.

One interesting part about the story is that it compiles all the previous games and preserves the continuity. In the trailer above, each of the kills are taken from all the past games.

#6 The lens of curiosity

HITMAN does not explicitly instruct the player how to assassinate their targets. Although scripted events that provide opportunities to kill the target unseen are available, the player does not need to follow these if he wants to and can assassinate their target in any way they like. The player is expected to figure out his own way to kill their targets.

When I first started HITMAN 2, the first mission instructed me to assassinate the target, and only that. Figuring out how the target moved in an unfamiliar and hostile environment was quite a challenge for a first-time player.

Furthermore, the sheer multitude of ways to kill a target, be it strangling them with a wire, pushing them off cliffs, poisoning their food, drowning them in a pool, electrocuting them, or even killing them with an exploding propane tank spur the player to think: “How else can I kill this target?”, and contributes greatly to replayablilty, as each mission can be tackled in many different ways.

Even smacking someone into the ocean with a fish is fair game

#23 The lens of motivation

The actual gameplay for HITMAN is very short, comprising of only 6 missions per season. What makes it replayable though in addition to the ways missions can be tackled is the Mastery and Challenges section.

Each mission has a mastery level, where higher mastery levels unlock more starting locations, as well as more items such as the remote explosive. Mastery levels are increased by completing challenges, or just through normal gameplay.

Challenges can range from being very easy, such as putting on a certain disguise, or very difficult (Silent assassin suit only which will be explained later). Some challenges also unlock items, the most notable of which is awarded for achieving Silent assassin suit only on all difficulties for all missions, in this case, a “Classic Lockpick”.

While some of these rewards are only reskins of an existing functional item (the classic lockpick is a reskin of a standard lockpick), these challenges provide motivation for the player to keep trying again.

#38 The lens of challenge

HITMAN provides challenge that is limited only by the players’ limits. Although the player can clear missions easily through liberal use of the scripted events, they may challenge themselves in any way when clearing the missions.

One such example is the Silent Assassin / Suit Only run. This is a considerable challenge as the following criteria must be met:

  • Only kill the targets
  • Do not get compromised
  • No bodies can be found, unless they were the result of accidents/poisoning
  • No evidence of the player must be found.
  • The player must clear the mission with the default suit and cannot change disguises at any point.

As the default suit for each location grants unrestricted areas to only a limited number of areas, which is often those that the targets never walk into, completing the mission without using disguises means that the player will be trespassing most of the time, which NPCs do not take kindly to. Furthermore, just killing the target is not enough, the player must also exit the map though the designated exits, which means the player will need to sneak their way out of the area as well. Careful planning and familiarity with the map and NPC movement is essential for a successful run.

Clearing all missions on the hardest difficulty, and with the SASO restriction was extremely difficult, and I had to plan carefully how my run would be, as the hardest difficulty adds an additional restriction of having only 1 save attempt. Managing to clear each mission in SASO was extremely satisfying as I saw the efforts of planning being rewarded.

#43 The lens of competition

Although HITMAN is largely a single-player game, there are various aspects where the player can compete with others.

HITMAN has a scoring system, where points are awarded for meeting certain criteria, such as never being spotted, and points are deducted for killing NPCs that are not designated targets. After each mission, players can view the leaderboards to see how well they did comparatively.

Additionally, HITMAN 2 introduced a new multiplayer mode, known as Ghost Mode. In Ghost Mode, two players compete against each other to eliminate 5 targets unseen, before their opponent does. The players can observe each other in real-time, but their maps are separate. Though the maps are separate, interfering with the opponent is possible using certain items, that catch the attention of NPCs in the opponent’s map as well as their own. Experienced players are rewarded as they are much more familiar with the map, and thus can make use of tighter windows of opportunity to kill their target.