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Alright, strap in. Boy, do I have some words. It is well known that I am the biggest fanboy of the series, and that I am deeply familiar with the series origins, its values, evolution, lore, you name it. Not only was I blown away by the heights of the recent Resident Evil 2 remake, but I was floored by the announcement that its sequel, Resident Evil 3, had been in development for even longer than 2 and that it would be releasing a mere year later using the same game engine. While it might have been my fault to hold such high expectation after the success of 2, and the promising trailers of 3, I came out of my run with Jill and Nemesis sorely disappointed.


Jill’s face no longer looks like a sandwich

Personally, I love PS1 graphics. But there is certainly no denying how exciting it is to see such popular characters of the franchise, and in gaming, be reimagined in breathtaking HD. Graphics and assets have all been vastly improved compared to the original on this contemporary gen console, and given such vibrancy by the addition of stellar lighting designs and detailed textures to really cement the denizens (human or otherwise) in reality. Adjacently, the world of Raccoon City oozes personality with the ability to deeply detail its setting. With the inclusion of in-world advertisements for movies, restaurants and drugs, as well as making sure that the world pops with details like hastily boarded up doors, flaming cars, and ransacked shop interiors, Raccoon City truly feels like an interconnected, living, breathing world. It is a great pleasure to roam iconic locales that were once two-dimensional backgrounds in vivd three-dimensions and is probably the strongest asset of the game.


Master of lockpicking

The strongest draw of the original games were their similarity to a giant-escape-room. The entire game was a puzzle, items were to be collected to gather new items to access new areas to pick locks in to gather more items to complete more puzzles to move to new areas until you were done. Yes, that exists in some capacity in this game with its collectable key items that access new areas, but their collection requires no intelligent action as the key objective is consistently updated by the game and obviously pointed out to the player in-game. The campaign itself might as well be completely linear. In fact, the scope of Raccoon City is an illusion this time round. Areas are so often barred by ‘rubble’ that any option to travel off the beaten path is lost. The entire map is dramatically scaled down from the sprawling and interesting original, and characters don’t even travel to each new area – they’re brought there through cutscene and sequestered off from any place they’d been to before. What this makes for is a title more focused on action than it is on adventure, something at odds with the core of the game built on a foundation of exploration and survival horror. Its laurels are combat, which is just as engaging and tense as its predecessor, but I fail to give it merit since its predecssor implemented these functions and this title only introduced a vaguely overpowered dodge mechanic. And it has less diversity in weaponary this time around.


A story REimagined

I struggle to consider this game a remake. There are so many changes to the original game that it barely resembles itself anymore. A remake ought to take the strongest qualities of the original and enhance it further with modern technologies, use the opportunity to rework its shortcomings, and alter the game’s story enough to generate intrigue and add story elements that only serve to thicken the plot. This title does none of those things, except giving Carlos a hunky makeover and more of a personality. Not only is the game focused on running and gunning enemies (so many herbs and ammo boxes this time, and autosaves?), but this game wants you to be done with it as quickly as possible. Even with careful exploration on hardcore difficulty, this game was finished in five hours. The remake cuts so many iconic areas from the original (clock tower, park, factory) which means it cuts story, and gives you nothing but sly references to those missing pieces. In fact, the story is somehow simpler and less dense than the original (which makes no sense considering how limited memory was back then and this is a next gen console) and offers no secondary run through, no alternate ending, or even an additional game mode. It’s better to think of this game as a ‘what if’ scenario, because it is absolutely ludicrous that Jill wouldn’t go back to the Raccoon Police Department on a night like this – the best part of the original game, I might add.



Nemesis, the nemesis to my enjoyment of this game

The posterboy of villainy in the series – Nemesis, a gaming icon. With the superb redesign of Mr X in Resident Evil 2 who brought a newfound sense of terror and anxiety to the game with his brutish stalking presence, the hype for Nemesis (a character known for being worth at least three Mr X’s in terms of power) was palpable. Nemesis was the original stalking boss, and he had the capability to run after the character, follow them through doors, fire missiles at them, and kill you in one go – even back in 1999. Cut to today, and the potential for Nemesis is squandered by relegating his presence in the game to setpieces. Nemesis appears in cinematics and primarily as the only boss figure in the game (R.I.P. Gravedigger). There are small sections in the game where he does his usual chasing of the player, but since the game is so short and the map so linear, these encounters are small and rare. He won’t even go through doors. The buff he was given to surpass the might of Mr X was a tentacle he can now use to drag you back to his feet (that is given no warning for you to be able to dodge) and a dash mechanic where he can basically teleport in front of you. Neither of these design choices feel earnt, and feel like a cheap way to keep you face to face with the beast. Also, his iconic ‘STARS’ line is barely audible.

C Ranking

Look, as a game, it is good. As a Resident Evil game, it is good (even though it feels like a DLC to Resident Evil 2). But as a remake of a Resident Evil game, it is not good. It is unfortunate that this game feels rushed and feels as though its designers completely missed where the worth of the original title lied. It is worth the run through (although not for the price tag, maybe wait a couple of months), and is certainly an enjoyable game packed with challenge, but feels incomplete. There is also an additional game bundled called Resistance, but this is an online multiplayer shooter that holds no influence over the experience of the main game. If you’re looking for the true Nemesis experience, play Resident Evil 2, or better yet play the original game, because you won’t find it here. Two and a half Cthulhus out of five. For my take on the predecessor, read here. 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

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Quest Master @ PAX: A Dungeon-Builder First Look



Next in my journey of all the cool games I saw at PAX, Quest Master! Quest Master is a love letter to retro dungeon crawlers and level designers. Taking inspiration from both Mario Maker and the Legend of Zelda franchise, Quest Master promises the ability to play and design dungeons with a variety of enemies, traps, and puzzles. 

Check out the Quest Master game announcement here:

I was given a private 30-minute demo, where I got to try out some of the core features in a pre-beta version of Quest Master. This demo was led by one of the developers, Julian Creutz who shared some insight into the game design and user experience. My interview with Julian about Quest Master can be found here.

Quest Master has two main modes, playing dungeons and building them. I got to try out both, though I had a more comprehensive experience playing dungeons. While playing dungeons, the game mechanics were intuitive and simple. However, I was continuously surprised by the complexities offered by the puzzle and logic systems. For example, you can collect a boomerang which is incredibly easy to use. To solve one of the puzzles, I had to throw the boomerang through a torch (which I thought was just decorative) to catch the boomerang on fire and enable it to activate a gem. While the individual mechanics were basic, they combined into a sophisticated puzzle-solving experience.


Immediately, I was eager to look under the hood and see how the dungeon building mode enables the puzzle solving as previously described. Once again, I was impressed with the sophistication of a system with such simple mechanics. The controls for building weren’t intuitive for me, though I also don’t use a controller for much of my gaming (like I was during the demo). Additionally, I could see how it would be really easy to get accustomed to as you build.

As it was a short demo, I wasn’t able to try any of the multiplayer features (i.e. co-op, online map sharing) so I can’t speak to the success of their implementation. As this is supposed to be a large part of the game, I’m wary of wholeheartedly suggesting Quest Master for those interested in the multiplayer experience. However, I was impressed with Quest Master’s modern take on retro dungeon crawlers like the Legend of Zelda games. The graphics and controls feel like much needed quality of life updates for a system taking inspiration from older classics. 

I recommend wishlisting Quest Master if you are a fan of old Legend of Zelda games or are looking for a fresh take on the dungeon builder genre. If Quest Master interests you, don’t forget to check out my conversation with Julian too!

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Check out my other PAX posts here!


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Interview with Game Dev Julian Creutz: Quest Master @ PAX



As mentioned in previous posts, I had the opportunity to demo a pre-early access version of the game Quest Master alongside the Lead Developer, Julian Creutz. Quest Master is a Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Maker inspired dungeon crawling and building video game. While the other post covers the game itself, this one covers the inspiration and vision for the game as told by Julian.

How did you become involved in video game development?

I’ve been a huge gamer, and especially a Zelda fan, ever since I was a little child when my dad put a GameBoy Advance with “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” into my hands. Sometime during elementary school I started dabbling with game development using visual tools like Scratch and GameMaker. I quickly got into making Zelda fan games and had dreamt of the day when I would make my own Zelda game one day. Over the years I’ve honed my game development and programming skills, resulting in where I am today.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the development process?


Developing Quest Master is essentially like making two games at once – the making and the playing part. Both of these game elements have to be equally as polished to form a cohesive one.

The most difficult thing by far about the game’s development has been to make the maker mode experience intuitive for first-time users and people who know nothing about Zelda-like games, but at the same time powerful and complex enough to allow creating anything you could dream of.

One good example is the gameplay feature to link certain parts to others, like linking a pressure plate to opening a door. We’ve been through countless iterations affecting both the visual, gameplay and user experience aspects of it – I hope that the one we are using right now is the final one!

Quest Master takes a lot of inspiration from classic dungeon-crawlers like the Legend of Zelda franchise. What about these games was so enchanting to you and how does Quest Master try to capture that enchantment?

As described earlier, I’m like the biggest Zelda fan, which I’m sure shows. My gripe with many Zelda-likes on the market is that none perfectly capture the feel of the classic entries… there’s always something missing.


I confidently believe that Quest Master differs from that greatly. We are trying to make Quest Master feel like an in-house 2D Zelda like Nintendo used to make, just from an indie team like ours. Many people crave the classic 2D entries, just like I do.

What emotions do you hope the player will experience while playing Quest Master? What design choices were made to assist in that desired atmosphere?

A big aspect of Quest Master is its local multiplayer. The game is deliberately designed to work flawlessly with that, and makers can create specialized puzzles in the game that require all players to work together for example. The result is both rewarding, funny, and sometimes infuriating altogether, for example when one of your buddies throws you into a hole.

As a community dungeon maker, what features are you most excited to see implemented in player-made dungeon crawls?

I’ve already been hugely amazed by the creations of the existing Quest Master demo. With all the new features the game will launch into Early Access with, I bet this will be tenfold. I myself always enjoy the brain busting puzzles people come up with. Other things I also like a lot are the unintended mechanics the players find, which dynamically emerge from the many, many gameplay systems working together.


What’s it been like working with Apogee, an indie publisher who goes back to the early 1990’s and has a long legacy of terrific game releases?

I’ve only had very few interactions with game publishers in the past, and Quest Master is my first large scale commercial game project. There’s preconceived notions floating around everywhere on the internet about how evil game publishers are and how much better you would be off self-publishing your game. Contrary to that, working with Apogee has been nothing short of supportive and family-like. They are very invested in the project, and they have many Zelda fans on the team also helps a lot. They are supercharging the potential of Quest Master and without them the game would not be where it is today.

Is there anything else you would like to plug or that you think is important for people to know about Quest Master or other upcoming projects?

Early Access is just the beginning! Quest Master will be hugely expanded upon during its Early Access phase, with many more themes, dungeon parts and entire new gameplay features coming in short intervals and a rapid update schedule. There are always new things around the corner. For example, things like the singleplayer story campaign and the overworld maker will be most likely not be part of the initial Early Access release, but we will make sure to build anticipation by introducing bits and pieces into the world of Quest Master to build up to that.

I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am!


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LONESTAR @ PAX: Spaceships and Bounty Hunting



This past week I had the opportunity to go to my very first PAX East convention! For those who are unfamiliar, PAX East is a large gaming convention in Boston. This year marked its 20th anniversary, which meant an extra layer of celebration and festivities! Courtesy of a HauntedMTL Media Badge, I got to play tons of new games and meet even more interesting people. One of the games I was able to demo was LONESTAR by developer Math Tide. 

LONESTAR is a roguelike spaceship building game reminiscent of FTL and Dicey Dungeons. It was released for early access on Steam in January and has gotten largely positive feedback. In the game, you play as a bounty hunter traveling through various sectors to defeat your bounties. Along the way you can visit a shop, take a breather, or experience other various events. 

I was able to play the early access build for thirty minutes on the showroom floor, and I was pretty instantly hooked. I love roguelike deckbuilders, with Slay the Spire (especially the Downfall fan expansion) being a strong favorite. LONESTAR nails what I love from the genre, with an aesthetic smoothly integrated in its form and function and novel gameplay mechanics.

A screenshot from the LONESTAR Steam Page of game play.

LONESTAR’s ‘deckbuilding’ element takes the form of ship systems. You can collect, buy, and upgrade them as you progress through a run. However, your ship only has so much space on board. As a player, you have to prioritize weapons and utility systems while also ensuring you diversify your damage output/defense across all three sections of your ship. At the beginning of each round, you are randomly given number values that can be input into your ship systems to achieve varied effects. The enemy responds in kind, meaning whoever can get the highest damage output is who overwhelms the other in the round.

I loved the possibilities for synergy and strategy as your pilot explored more dangerous sectors. It was incredibly rewarding to turn a couple of crap numbers into a super powerful attack. I also enjoyed the various options for “vacation” time in between battles, which kept everything feeling fresh. Of note, I only played for thirty minutes. While they were a rewarding thirty minutes, the game was not incredibly difficult. I cannot speak on the general replayability, though I would have been happy to continue playing for at least another hour. My only critique from the whole experience was that some of the vocabulary was unclear. However, that could have been due to starting mid-run during my demo. 


If you enjoy deckbuilders and are interested in a spaceship game a bit easier than FTL, I think LONESTAR is a great choice. It is still in early access, however, I feel confident that the game is plenty of fun already. It is also only $10, so definitely worth taking a chance on. I’ll continue to watch the development of LONESTAR with great excitement! 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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