In Game Tutorials. Too Many Vs. Too Little

Since game manuals are kind of obsolete at this point, a game still has to tell you how to play. Or do they? I’ve played a hell of a lot of games, I mean seriously a hell of a lot, and I’ve come to notice that while mostly every game tells you something while playing about the basic controls there are some games that tell you nothing at all. While I can’t stand over instructions that sometimes pause the game during important moments, I also can’t stand a game that doesn’t tell me what to do or give me any direction on how to play.

Every game needs a basic type of instruction. Sure everyone knows that pressing up on the left analog stick usually makes your character walk while using the right analog stick makes your character look around, but what about all of the other buttons? You know since there are like a bunch of them on a standard controller. What do you do with them? When do you have to use them? This kind of basic instruction is really only needed once and is of course helpful, but what about instructions that really aren’t so helpful or just too frequent. Take Borderlands 2 for example. I recently completed this game again on the PS4 and I found it highly annoying the way the game paused every so often if I picked up something new or the game wanted me to learn how to use the menus. At first it seemed helpful but soon became extremely annoying since the game was interrupted over and over again by this annoying presence of an in game instruction guide. This isn’t the only recent game that has done this though, I’ve also had the same problems while playing Dragon Age: Inquisition and even more recently while playing The Witcher 3. Sometimes enough is enough. If I need to learn more I can also go to the manual that is usually located in the options menu. I know all of this can be turned off in the options menu, but it just feels like it’s something that I shouldn’t have to do.

While there are those games that over instruct, there are those games that don’t even instruct you on what to do at all. My most recent game of no instruction was The Unfinished Swan. I spent three or more minutes staring at the white screen in front of me when the game first loaded waiting. I wasn’t sure if there was a glitch or my game didn’t load right. Just when I was about to reboot the game, I accidentally hit the R2 button which fired off my first paint ball. Seriously? Some type of simple instruction would have been nice and it wouldn’t have ruined the whole “art” feel of the game. Not only do some games have no instruction at all, but some instructions are so obscure that they have you scratching your head wondering what the hell you actually have to do.

At the moment there really doesn’t seem to be a balance between over instructing and under instructing. Some games do it too much, some games too little, and some none at all. While I would like to see some sort of balance in upcoming titles, it just doesn’t seem like there ever will be. Unfortunately that means that games that over instruct and games that under instruct will continue to annoy me while games that perfect this equation of balancing instructions perfectly will continue to earn my respect and praise.

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The Unfinished Swan Review (PS4)

This is one of the games that I’ve been wanting to play for a while now. I’ve heard a lot about it and it seemed interesting enough since I like these kind of small, art based games. Every time it went on sale, I just missed it for some reason. It was finally free this month with PS+, and not only was it free for the PS4 but it was also free for the PS Vita and PS3. Figuring I would play on the PS4 first, here’s what I thought.

Even though this game is small, the story that it’s telling is not. You’ll play as Monroe who recently lost his mother and was left as an orphan. As an orphan he couldn’t bring along the plethora of unfinished paintings that his mother created while she was alive and was only able to bring one with him. Picking the painting of the unfinished swan, Monroe is shocked one night when he sees that the swan in the painting is gone. Jumping into the painting to find the swan, his story begins as he travels through this magical land of nothing but white space which is ruled by a sleeping king who has his own story to tell.

When I first started playing this screen, I just sat there for about two minutes and stared at this white screen with a small circle in the middle. Was this the game? Did my game not load right? Did the game freeze? I had no idea, but I was pissed. I picked up my controller and mistakenly hit the R2 button only to launch a blob of black paint at something. Already a little annoyed that I wasn’t prompted that the game had begun, I started throwing blobs of black paint everywhere to try and see what the hell was going on. I quickly became disorientated and didn’t know where I was or where the hell I was supposed to go. It was by pure luck that I found a brightly colored swan feet stampede on the floor which gave me some direction. I spent the next couple of chapters just wandering through the game not really knowing what I was doing or where I was going. To tell you the truth I couldn’t even play this game in one sitting and had to break it up into three different sittings even though the total time I spent playing this game was maybe 3 hours. I could never really get into the main story or the kings story enough to actually care about what was going on and it made me just not want to play the game at all.

The gameplay for this game is a little jumbled to where each chapter, although it’s the same concept, it’s completely different. One minute you’re throwing black balls of paint to see where you’re going, the next you’re throwing balls of water, at least I think it was water, to grow vines so that you can climb up and down walls, next it’s back to the black paint to guide a light around a dark forest, and then you’re making boxes. I really never had a solid idea of what I was doing or why I was doing it throughout the course of this game. It just seemed like this game was made by four different people who all wanted something different so decided to devote a chapter to it. There was no right or wrong way to throw the paint, or was there? I have no idea. Throw too much paint and you have a black surface much like the white one that you were just staring at. Throw too many water balloons and the vines are growing out of control and you have no idea where to go. Build the boxes the wrong height and you can’t do anything useful with them.

I don’t really know what to say about the graphics for this game. I can see the genius of having just white space and letting the player paint their way through the scenery, but the overuse of paint can make the scenery become obsolete. The other areas where the scenery is clearly defined just looks too basic. I will say this though, the art that tells the story of Monroe and the sleeping King is gorgeous and looks like something right out of a story book.

Luckly there are only 10 trophies for this game. There are four trophies for getting through the whole game, two random trophies that really make no sense and have no effect on the game, two collectible trophies, one for balloons and one for story pages, one trophy for using a certain telescope in the game, and one trophy for making your way through the first part of the first chapter while only using three black paint balls. The last trophy you will definitely need a guide for because there is no way that you’re going to be able to do it without a guide. Other then the last trophy, the rest of them are basically pretty easy and this game will only require one full playthrough while you go back through chapter select to collect the rest of the collectibles. I would advise you to keep track of the story pages you reveal in the chapters since the game doesn’t do it for you. This way when you have to go back and finish collecting the story pages, you can have some idea of what you have and don’t have.

Yay for no multiplayer.

Overall I give this game a 2 out of 5

What’s Great:
+ Interesting concept that hasn’t been done before.

What’s Not So Great:
Chapters become confusing without a clear direction of what should be done.
Too many different concepts in such a small game.
While playing you might get disorientated at times which is not fun.
Dull and uninteresting graphics that allow you to “paint” your way, but only in a certain way.

This is one of those games where I felt like if I didn’t like it, which I didn’t, then it would seem like I was a complete moron because I just didn’t “understand” the game or the beauty behind it, or even the art behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love these small little games that care more about the story and the art that goes into it just as much as I love the AAA titles that I play. This game was just too “artsy” for me. The concept behind the game was genius, but I feel that it just didn’t accomplish what it had originally set out since it seemed so jumbled and kind of all over the place. Even though I could play this game again on the PS Vita and PS3, I’m going to give it a big pass. Once was definitely enough for me and I would say to play this game once if you got it for free so that you can see what it’s like for yourself. If you have to pay for it, I would say give it a big pass. There are plenty of other games you can spend your hard earned money on.

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This Week In Trophies 05-10-2015 – 05-23-2015

This edition of this week in trophies is totally supersized since it includes last weeks trophies as well. After a week of feeling like absolute crap, it’s nice to finally start feeling better and getting back to doing what I love, which is gaming. While I didn’t even touch my PS3 or PS4 while I was sick, I have to say that my PS Vita became my best friend this week as I carried it just about everywhere I went and spent some major time playing between bouts of passing out from the over load of medication I was taking and watching many many reruns of The Facts of Life. Here’s how the past two weeks treated me.

The Unfinished Swan – 100%

I finished this game up early in the first week and was really glad to have done so. I didn’t get that much enjoyment out of the game as a whole and I’ll be posting my full review later this week for the game. Let’s just say though, that I’m glad it’s over and I don’t plan to play this game on any other platform.

The Unfinished Swan The Unfinished SwanThe Unfinished Swan The Unfinished SwanThe Unfinished Swan The Unfinished SwanThe Unfinished Swan

The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2 – 100%

Even though I got the platinum for this a couple of weeks ago now, I just really wanted to finish this game up completely and get the 100%. I worked pretty hard farming to finish up some left over DLC quests and a couple of other things along the way. I’m just glad that it’s done and I have a new 100% game to add to my collection.

Borderlands 2 Borderlands 2Borderlands 2

Don’t Starve: Console Edition – 28%

I started playing this game again as I waited for The Witcher 3 to come in. I started this game a long time ago, probably when it was free for PS+, and just forgot about it afterwards. I’m glad that I started playing this game again and hopefully some day I’ll be able to get the 100% on it.

Don't Starve: Console Edition Don't Starve: Console Edition

Pure Pool – 55%

While I am in no way going for the platinum trophy for this game, I do like to pick it up time to time between games and just play when I have some free time. Any trophies that I get are just an added bonus.

Pure Pool Pure Pool

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare – 44%

This was just another game that was sitting on my system that I decided to play while waiting for The Witcher 3 to be released. I did actually enjoy picking this game up and playing again since it had been a while. Who knew that I was so close to getting so many trophies if I had just kept playing. Anyway, I’m kind of addicted now and have continued to play this game on and off.

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

Sparkle 2 – 100%

While I was sick, I finally finished up the Vita version of Sparkle 2. It took me way longer then I expected since I would constantly fall asleep while I played, but at least I got it done. I’ll probably start the PS3 version some time this week.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 1%

I finally got around to playing this game and so far…I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I encountered a couple of problems actually trying to get the game to start, which is just a bunch of absolute crap because how can you not notice that your game isn’t loading during QA testing, and I’ve had a couple of other problems along the way as well. I’ll be giving this game another chance though as I continue to play through the story a little more.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Fat Princess: Piece of Cake – 55%

Another game that I just started playing again after I finished with Sparkle 2 on the PS Vita. I didn’t really realize how close I was to the 100% and only have a few more trophies to go. I’ll probably continue to play this game just to get the 100% and delete from my system to clear up some memory.

Murasaki Baby – 100%

Another Vita game that I started when I was feeling just a little bit better and was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to pass out while playing. I played the whole thing in one sitting and got all the trophies. I’ll have my full review of the game in a few weeks.

So there you have it, all of my trophies for the past two weeks. What a crazy couple of weeks and I’ll be looking forward to things getting back to normal. As I play The Witcher 3 a little bit more, I’m sure next weeks trophies will be a little lighter since the trophies for The Witcher 3 seems to be very sparse, but you never know.

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This Week in Trophies 05-03-2015 – 05-09-2015

I know I could have gotten a lot more trophies this week then I did, but damn those last two Borderlands 2 trophies were such a grind. I finally got my assassin up to level 31 and my gunzerker up to 25 and I can finally say that I am done with Borderlands 2 for now. I’m seriously wiped out with that game. Anyway, here’s the trophies that I was able to get for the week.

The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2 – 87%

I got all the trophies for the main game this week including the Platinum. While I’m done with this game, I might just go back and grab those extra DLC trophies and try to get this game to 100% before The Witcher 3 comes out. That’s a really big MAYBE though.

Borderlands 2 Borderlands 2Borderlands 2

Pure Pool – 50%

I picked up this game again this week out of pure boredom and worked on finishing up the 8 Ball Amateur Tournament. I’m sure I’ll continue to play this every so often, but it really isn’t a priority for me.

Pure Pool

The Unfinished Swan – 14%

I’ve always wanted to play this game, and after finishing Borderlands 2 I figured what the hell since I got this one for free this week. My first impression of this game is…well I really don’t know what to think of this game so far. I understand what it’s about and all, but it’s a little weird. I’ll keep playing though and hopefully finish it up this week.

The Unfinished Swan The Unfinished SwanThe Unfinished Swan

That’s it for this week. I’m really glad I was able to finish Borderlands 2 making my platinum trophy completion time come out to just a little over 1 month. When I played on the PS3, my platinum trophy time was over 10 months so I’m glad I got this one out of the way quickly. I’ll probably continue to play a little Pure Pool here and there and try to finish up The Unfinished Swan, but this upcoming week will probably also be another light week.

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