Tag Archives: PC

PSO2 goes English, and we love it!

3 Apr , 2014,
Crimson
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Asiasoft announced that they were publishing Phantasy Star Online 2 in English (PSO2) about a week ago, and just this afternoon, I got several hours hands on with the game during a closed door media preview.

Having already tried the Japanese service, I had some high hopes. This was a Sega title, after all.

For the uninitiated, PSO2 is an MMOARPG (the ‘A’ here stands for action, in case you were wondering) with console style graphics and aesthetics where you play an ARK recruit in a sci-fi setting.

With the customization options, you can pretty much adjust anything. Well, almost anything. :x

With the customization options, you can pretty much adjust anything. Well, almost anything.

ARK recruits are essentially the equivalent of space cadets, and once you’ve customized your character (and the level of customization is quite comprehensive) and picked one of several races and classes (with localized archetypal names of warrior, ranger, and wizard), you’re thrust into a fairly deep and involved story line with all the hallmarks of a classic JRPG.

The good thing of course is that the game can be played solo or with friends, and features instanced dungeon maps linked to a central hub. Friends, naturally, make things go a whole lot smoother.

Beat on alien life-forms, steal their treasure, have fun with friends.

Beat on alien life-forms, steal their treasure, have fun with friends.

I was a little sad that I didn’t get to roll a Deuman or Braver at the outset, but I’m sure that the good folks at Asiasoft will be making them available sometime in the near future. *hinthint*

Now, on to the localization.

One of the biggest challenges I’d expected this release to face was the dialogue and the VOs. The original Japanese cast included some top name seiyuu, and matching up would be a tall order. It was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that rather than dubbing the NPCs over, the company had chosen to streamline the written dialogue instead, without compromising any of the nuances from the original.

And that, of course, was a win in my books.

Needless to say, PSO2 is a game best experienced, and with the Beta test coming up 10th to 13th April, we’re giving away some Beta keys to a few lucky readers who live in  Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, or the Philippines.

These keys will also give you early access when the game goes live sometime in the next two months, so be sure to check out our Facebook raffle  for more details!

You can also keep tabs on the latest developments PSO2 in English developments through their official Facebook page.

Medal of Honor Warfighter in Stores Now

24 Oct , 2012,
Edric
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Medal of Honor Warfighter is out in stores now.

The game follows the tale of US Tier 1 Operatives as they plow through some of the major terror hotspots around the world. This includes rescuing hostages in the Abu Sayyaf infested Basilan in the Philippines to pirate hunting on the Somali Coast. As special forces operatives attempt to hunt down the Big Bad Evil Guy behind the distribution of explosive chemical, PETN.

The game will be running on Frostbite 2. The game engine which made Battlefield 3 look so cool.

Multilayer will bring the gamers head to head against some of the best (and the worst) players online. There is an emphasis in the element of teamwork with the introduction of the “Fireteam buddy” system. So don’t start feeling Rambo here.

The game is available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the PC. The limited edition includes Medal of Honor Warfighter Zero Dark Thirty Map Pack (the highly controversial compound map which Osama bin Ladin spent his final hours) and Medal of Honor Warfighter The Hunt Map Pack at no extra charge.

For more information pertaining to the game, visit the official Medal of Honor official website, Facebook, or follow the series on Twitter.

Keep up to date on the latest EA games and news in Singapore. Check out their Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Game Review: XCOM Enemy Unknown

22 Oct , 2012,
Edric
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2012 has been a great year for retro games. Not have we seen the return of Jagged Alliance, XCOM also made a return on both the PC and on consoles. This is after years of games with flashy graphics failed to impress veteran gamers who still hold onto gameplay as their holy grail. XCOM: EU seem like the right game and not only will it re-interest DOS era gamers, it will also wow the new generation of gamers.

XCOM: EU is developed by Firaxis Games who are also the developers for the Civilization series. The team is no newbie when it comes to streamlining games while adding more depth. XCOM: EU is of no exception.

While the concept behind new and old XCOM has not changed, the gameplay had a total overhaul. Gone were the days where you have to do mundane stocktaking. Checking whether you have enough weapons, ammunition and medkits to go round. Instead the genius behind the remake was to remove the accounting but still keep the urgency to get the right equipment at the right time.

Players have to make decisions on how they want their soldiers to progress. Unlike the old game where the soldiers adapt to the player’s play style, player get to dictate the strengths and weakness of each trooper on the roster and play them to their advantage on the battlefield. Players also get to change the outlook of each trooper. From the colour of their armour to the hairstyles and facial hair of each and everyone of them. Thus, giving the players a personal relation with each and every trooper. It can be a heartbreaker to see a personal favorite getting gunned down during an intense firefight. A death is permanent death in this game. So make your next move really really wisely.

The special abilities is what makes the game. No longer do players need to deploy mass numbers against the alien invaders. Since the Action Point system got cleaned up as well, the presence of special abilities is needed to make up for the difference. It also makes each and every trooper look cool. Surely, if this is an FPS, the aliens will be complaining that the humans are broken. The abilities goes all the way to mind control. I kid you not.

XCOM: EU is probability the game which defines 2012. It charms and attracts the player to partake in the secret activities of XCOM: EU as they struggle to save the world from the alien threat. It absorbs the player into the world and there is always appetite for “one more fight”. Finally, a remake that do justice to an old classic.

Only expectations of it being a clone of the 1994 game is going to ruin the feel of XCOM: EU.

 

Updates: Always want to test your alien busting skills against a human opponent? Now is the chance. 2K Games Asia and Alienware Arena Cybercafe at Dhoby Ghaut MRT (formally known as JCube Cybercafe) will be hosting a mini tourney. Limited edition XCOM EU T-shirts and S$20 shopping vouchers to be won. The event will be held from 3pm till 7pm. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

Chris Roberts is Back

12 Oct , 2012,
Edric
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If you are a gamer in from the 1990s or fans of the Wing Commander series and Privateer, you will have definitely heard about Chris Roberts. Now, he is back on his old trade, making a new Space Sim and he is asking for your support after ditching game publishers.


Star Citizen will incorporate elements from EVE Online and an ever growing universe. The game is also going to be an “online game” and the gamers will have the opportunity to mod and contribute to the game universe. Who knows what else Roberts might pull out from his sleeve in the near future. This might be one hell of a sandbox game. Check out Roberts Space Industry to pledge your support or find out more about game.

The game is dead set to be a PC exclusive. Maybe, console gamers should try bribing him with cookies. Alpha and Beta builds might be available in late 2013. If you are going to sit out for a full release, we can only assume that it should be out in 2014.

Updates 19 Oct 2013: Star Citizen is now available on Kickstarter. This is after the original funding website went down on opening day.

Game Review: Towns

18 Sep , 2012,
Edric

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First came holy Minecraft and shortly after, Terraria.

This year, say hi to Towns – the town building game with a twist of creativity involved.

If Terraria is for the platform fans, then it is quite safe to assume that Towns will appeal to the folks who like city building game with a touch of resource management, defense building and a little adventuring. It plays like an RTS – almost.

Edited Picture from www.townsgame.com

The foundation of the game is largely similar to most conventional RTS. There are civilians who are the workhorse of your economy as they go round gathering resources and construct your structures block by block. Then there are guards which have to convert from the pool of civilians.

Guards protect your population, patrol the town or become supervisors, which basically force the poor peasants work harder. And there heroes that are attracted to the settlement. Heroes comes in different classes and can gain skills based on their level and class. Heroes will actively seek out hostile mobs to do battle with.

The main objective of the game is survival and the player is forced to make decisions based on the terrain and resource distribution on the map. While it is understood that resources is the key to winning the game, the player is also confronted with the problem of over extension.

There will only be that many civilians attracted to the town based on the amount of accommodation that have been constructed. And guards are drawn from the pool of civilians in the town. It can be a daunting task for a handful of guards to guard a large amount of territory even when they are properly armed.

To reduce the workload of the player, the developers created a set of parameters which the players can toggle with. From priority settings to stockpile refills.

This works really well for the manufacturing component of the game. However, the overall AI still needs improvement.

Especially when it comes down to civilians working on construction projects, mining and resource gathering or dealing with hostile mobs. This often leads to high “accidental” deaths rates of the population which is tedious to replace.

The heroes on the other hand, have better survival mechanisms as compared to the town folks. They flee from battle once their health goes down to critical levels. But then again,heroes are heroes for a reason, no?

The game in general is a really good time black hole. It is definitely here to stay and really hard for anyone to get bored with when it is designed for fans of city building games with a touch of tower defense without fancy bells and whistles.

While survival is the main stay of the game, players will also get to enjoy expressing their creativity as they built their town against the increasing difficulty of the game. Another plus to the title is every game starts with a randomly generated map. In other words, no two game of Towns can be played the same way.

If you are already keen on getting this game, it can be purchased from their website for US$20. The game is has been given the Greenlight approval to be sold on Steam.

Score: 7.2/10

Source: Official Website

(Aika)rumba!

31 Mar , 2011,
Crimson
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AIKA SEA - Login Screen

Everytime AsiaSoft announces that it’s acquired a new MMO title, I die a little.

This Asian MMO distributor has been responsible for an endless string of free-to-play duds, and their latest offering, AIKA SEA, is just another in that long list that’s more likely than not, going to crash and burn once those poor teens who can’t afford a monthly World of Warcraft subscription (but can somehow pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for A-Cash credits) get their fill of killing swine and each other.

Obviously, AIKA isn’t new. Like many other MMOs that hit Singapore’s shores, it’s only managed to make it here months after the International version’s gone gold. And that’s the exact reason why AIKA looks like it’s light years behind when it comes to the overall look and visual appeal. Worse still, it’s got the exact feel of any other Korean grinder (and man, it’s grindy) and music that makes you feel like poking out your eardrums, just because.

In AIKA, you play an Elter – a hero chosen by the goddess Aika to combat the evil Zerecas. Along the way, you get to beat on other players, and fight for your home country in large scale PVP oriented campaigns, relic hunts, and castle sieges.

Say "Goodbye" to female wizards, manginas!

You get to pick one of six classes – the warrior, the crusader (a paladin), sniper, dual gunner (thank god they spelled dual right). night magician (warlock), and priest.

They’re really all of three archetypes – the fighter, the rogue, and the spellcaster, and there’s about as much variety in their skill sets as there are doorknobs.

The class you choose also determines your gender (yes, it’s a little discriminatory), so all you manginas out there, you’re out of options if you want to play a female warrior or wizard. Better luck next game!

Character customization is the pits. You’re stuck with only a handful of hairstyles, hair colors and facial types, and the costumes… let’s just leave it at “meh”. (Clearly, you’re encouraged to squander real world money on virtual items from the in-game Cash Shop if you want to look like anything other than everyone else and their mother’s son.)

Like duh, Captain Obvious!

When I said boars, I wasn't kidding.

Mechanically though, there’s little to really complain about. The controls are simple enough (or idiot proof enough), using the standard WASD buttons, and other hot keys to call up your inventory and on screen menus. When you target a monster and hit a key to activate a power, it will autocast – spamming the ability over and over until either the monster’s dead, or you are.

I didn’t mind the Autoloot feature – where everything that drops is automatically added to your inventory (it’s a step up from right clicking a body to loot it), but you tend to run out of bag space pretty fast.

The quest interface though is incredibly annoying, and you have to scroll through a whole bunch of text, sit through cringe worthy voice acting, and worse of all, read the horrible, horrible dialogue to understand what exactly Poor Peasant A wants.

The first few quests are all about boars, boars, and more bores (and trust me, it gets boar-ing). At least the monsters looked… kinda amusing and were relatively detailed. I was especially amused by the animated potato sacks I had to beat up, and the ganguro goblins in the next zone.

Like a whole slew of other MMOs out there that decided it was actually fun for players to rear their own Pokemon, Aika introduces the Pran system.

So your Pran's not just Tinkerbell. She's got some decent powers too. Wait, didn't Tinkerbell have more awesome powers?

Instead of a yellow, electric furball, you get a fairy that you can play dress-up Barbie with. Your pet fairy even grows up and interacts with you, offering hours of fun and excitement! Is that awesome or what? *sarcasm* (It’s actually a little creepy, if you ask me.)

Fine, so the Pran isn’t 100% useless. It actually gives you a token buff – like better damage output, or better defenses, but that’s really just window dressing, isn’t it?

Overall, AIKA SEA just doesn’t deliver. There’s nothing to set it apart from it’s peers (and all those free-to-play MMOs are a dime a dozen).

Sure, it’s attempted (albeit vaguely) to focus on the PVP component, but really, how many people playing MMOs play just to PVP when they’ve got so many better (and by better I mean real) options out there? The PVE facet too leaves a great deal to be desired. The trivial metaplot and story don’t help at all either.

I have no doubt a fair bit of AsiaSoft’s infinitely loyal, A-Cash chomping fanbase is going to jump aboard the AIKA SEA bandwagon anyway. but if you’re a discerning MMO player, then I’ve got three words to say to you.

Don’t-Play-It.

There's no Heart in it

20 Mar , 2011,
Crimson
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Lucent Heart - Log In Screen

I recently got my hands on a Beta Invite for Lucent Heart, Gamania’s latest MMO, and I’m disappointed to say that it’s just a glorified dating platform set up with some cutesy graphics and a bash the monster component.

“Why the hate?” you might wonder, when Lucent Heart’s a game about how love (and love-mania, apparently) makes the world a pretty, pretty place?

Well, that’s because once you get past the anime style concept art, the googly eyed sprites, the happy-happy-joy-joy backdrops and the saccharine colors (it kinda feels like the developers were acid tripping here), you’re pretty much stuck with a game that leaves a whole lot to be desired – both conceptually and mechanically.

For one, the game isn’t new. It’s been around in Japan for awhile now before making the English port, so the technology and overall appeal behind it is pretty dated.

Also, the fact that you have to jump through hoops and get up to all  sorts of shenanigans just to register for an account on the Lucent Heart website, as well as the fact that you have to deal with a clunky, web based launcher interface that’s a real hassle (it isn’t Chrome friendly either by the way) just to start up the game can be a real put off.

When you finally get past the character creation, you’re stuck with an interface that’s cluttered and unintuitive, and only two classes to choose from.

There’s little in the way of customization opportunities, and with only two career paths – either as a melee fighter or a magic user – your options are hampered.

Sure, you get to specialize when you get high leveled enough, but come on, people. We’re not looking to play a 3D version of Maple Story here. I’d like to have my mage capable of casting fireballs early on, and my paladins who can sprinkle holy water on the ground, thank you very much.

Is a little variety too much to ask?

Check out the daily Horoscope forecast in the corner.

At least the game’s mechanical frills aren’t entirely hopeless.

Daily Horoscopes provide a set of attribute buffs that can net you better XP and treasure rewards and crafting bonuses.

The Zodiac powers also looked promising, providing a series of passive and active buffs (as well as a nifty Zodiac armor power that’s not too shabby visually) but they don’t really stand out enough to matter.

Overall, the graphics didn’t particularly impress me.

There was nothing new to set it apart from all of two million other MMOs out there boasting anime style art, and big eyes, small mouths aside, it looked just like any other MMO from two years ago. That is, passé.

The particle effects and costumes, which I’d presumed might have been at least inventive, considering that the Japanese cooked this up, looked pretty mundane to me.

Animations were actually lag-tastic, and no thanks to server instability, a cause of frequent disconnects both in and outside of town.

Music was acceptable though, but the endless looping, and cheery beats, started to annoy after awhile.

In terms of concept, there’s no real world spanning meta-story to speak of either.

There’s some very overt Saint Seiya-esque references in there, and talk about Rifts (oooh, Rift, anyone?) used by monsters to invade the world, but other than these very blatant concepts, you don’t feel like you’re part of anything significant.

I mean come on, even DC Universe Online, with it’s ridiculous premise, lets you in on something grand. And hell, it’s at least original. Here, it’s just one endless Fetch-and-Gather quest after another.

A really cluttered interface, and the effects...

... aren't anything to write home about.

It’s obvious that Lucent Heart’s real aim is to encourage otakus and keyboard bashers who spend way too much time in their mom’s basement to get together and procreate. That’s why a large component of the game focuses on the dating and matchmaking aspect (it’s also likely related to Lucent Hearts tie-in with GamerDating, which is what Singapore’s Social Development Network should aim to be, if it wants to get gamers here to make more babies).

There’s some novelty to it, but with so many manginas (and by manginas, I mean males playing female toons, masquerading as females) in the virtual world, I bet you a lot of happy relationships in Lucent Heart are gonna end in tears and heartbreak (hurhur).

Call me skeptical, but I’m not feeling the love for this title.

There’s just no heart in it.

Catch my Rift?

24 Feb , 2011,
Crimson
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Go go Earth Elemental! XD

I’ve been keeping mum about RIFT in the initial testing phase, but now that it’s almost ready to go live, I have to say that it’s something I’m really keen to play, and maybe even cosplay.

RIFT is a next generation MMORPG by Trion Worlds that features the three things that top my list when I think fantasy – magic, crazy-ass technology, and time travel.

In RIFT, you play a champion that’s chosen to return to the world of the past to thwart the arrival of an extraplanar force, and you get to throw in your lot with either the Guardians, or the Defiants (which are kinda like the Alliance and the Horde, but not).

Mind you, RIFT makes no pretense at being a WOW clone, or a WOW killer for that matter. (It is, after all, a given that nothing’s going to topple WOW short of a collective sale to Chinese Gold Farmers.)

It does, however attempt to do things different.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Rift so far is the flexibility of it all. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Rift, and it’s stuff you don’t need a guild or party for.

There’s a healthy amount of plot that unfurls as you complete quests and interact with people, with a good dash of conspiracy thrown into the mix for all those story junkies and conspiracy theorist types.

When tentacles come to call...

Tourists will enjoy the panoramic vistas and beautifully rendered locales, while Monster Hunters out to vanquish well… monsters will find plenty of them loitering around maliciously, doing the monster thing.

The concept of Public Groups is likely one of RIFT’s greatest innovations.

When Tentacle Things From The Great Beyond encroach on our reality, all you need to do is wander close, and you’ll have the option of joining any number of other players out to trounce their slimy, non-Euclidean hides.

What’s more, everyone gets a decent reward. There’s no need to worry about ninja looters and DKP anymore.

I’m also really digging the Ascended Soul system.

Sure, you begin play choosing one of the four classic fantasy archetypes – Warrior, Cleric, Mage and Rogue, but you get to pick at least three out of eight talent trees, with their own spells and passive abilities to play around with at any given time.

This makes for a mind boggling number of permutations, and plenty of excitement for those keen to try their hand at everything.

Necromancer - Just one of the many paths available to mage-y types. XD

I know I had loads of fun trying out the elementalist and the necromancer, and tossing in fun things like the archon and the chloromancer into the mix.

Frankly, I can’t wait for the game to hit the shelves. I’ve already got my ticket to the Head Start (which begins at 2 am tonight, by the way), and I’m just itching to play.

For more information about RIFT, check out their website here.

If you’re already playing, don’t be a stranger. I’ll be on Shadefallen, playing a Kelari mage named Crimson, so let’s party up sometime. ^^

Miners, Wieners, and Zombies, oh my! :o

18 Feb , 2011,
Crimson
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What do you get when you mix sand box style world building with survival horror and zombies? Minecraft, of course.

And this indie title, which soared to popularity after hitting the gaming scene, just got another boost in this latest vid by a couple of film makers on Youtube.

Lookie here:

For the first time ever, cardboard costumes are actually cool.

I wonder if we’ll be seeing some Minecraft miners and zombies at Cosfest this year. XD

With a Dream and a Prayer

22 Jan , 2011,
Crimson
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It’s awesome when you’ve got a friend in Japan. It’s even more awesome when he’s willing to hit up conventions for you just to get ahold of exclusive releases like Ougon Musou Kyoku, 07th Expansion’s doujin fighter based on characters from “Umineko no Naku Koro Ni” – a popular visual novel and animation series famous for it’s deeply involved storyline, complex plot twists, and supernatural themes.

Ougon Musou Kyoku - Opening Sequence

Initial Impressions:

Aptly titled “Symphony of Golden Dreams”, the biggest draw about this game has definitely got to be the score, hands down.

From the outset, you are blasted with solid, orchestral music and smooth vocals that play compliment to the mind-blowing introduction sequence.

Again at the character selection screen, you’re regaled by the game’s female ensemble as they vocalize a catchy, if sinister tune, nevermind that its in ear-grating Engrish, and this trend continues throughout the game, as you play through seven stages (called Movements, in true musical fashion) of intense, arcade fighting action.

Character Select - Take your pick!

Gameplay:

Ougon players get their pick from a plethora of characters from the franchise, including Battler, Ange, and Beatrice,  as well as the Lucifer, the leader of the Sisters of Purgatory, Beatrice’s manservant Ronove, Kanon and Shannon, and the enigmatic Virgilia.

This line up might seem a little skimpy at first, but like all doujin games, there’s little doubt content patches will introduce additional characters and options in months to come.

The controls are easy enough, and fairly intuitive. Ougon Musou Kyoku works with three primary buttons corresponding to a Light Attack, a Medium Attack, a Heavy Attack, as well as a Tag button for you to switch between your primary and reserve combatants, as well as a taunt button for health recovery. Pressing two or more buttons in tandem with specific keypad commands initiate enhanced attacks, and pressing all three Attack buttons at once activates Meta World mode.

The real mechanics come from how battles are structured.

Each bout is team based – you pick two characters, who share a common health pool, with an additional caveat – you don’t stock up your own power gauges each time you deliver an attack. You stock up that of your reserve partner’s. This forces players to master not just one character or play style, but a good mix.

Tag System

Tag, you're it!

Each time you tag in and out, your character also enhances their partner with a short lived buff.

Battler, for example, has the power of Resurrection, which recovers a small amount of health, while Eva-Beatrice increases the damage your character inflicts, if only for a short while.

Lucifer prepares to unleash her Meta World attack.

The Meta World:

Activating Meta World mode causes the background to subtly shift and gives you a quick boost for some 20 seconds, but there’s an additional benefit.

With at least 3 stocks in your power gauge, you can also deliver your most devastating attack.

This attack not only wipes out three quarters of your opponent’s health bar, but also comes with requisite cut-scenes, flashing lights, bells and whistles and magic circles as well.

How cool is that?

Characters & Graphics:

While the character designs for Ougon are true to the anime, and a lot of work was put into the animation for enhanced moves, rush supers and Meta World ultimates, there’s little to set them apart mechanically from similar, fireball tossing, uppercut inducing archetypes in the genre.

Battler plays like a typical, balanced protagonist with his four moves – a projectile, an anti-air move, a downward attack from mid air, and a charging attack, while Chiester410 is a projectile spamming turtle with an uninteresting moveset, rather than a cuddly gun bunny (or precisely because she’s a gun bunny). The game’s witches, such as Ange, Beatrice and Virgilia are a little more dynamic, but there’s truly little to write home about.

Despite slipping up a little on the mechanics aspect, Ougon redeems itself in every other way. Character sprites are crisp and beautiful, stage backgrounds are detailed, and little things like wisps of smoke and butterflies that flit about as you beat the crap out of your opponent is always a plus.  All in all, it’s visually top notch, and it’s hard to imagine that this is 07th’s first fighting game. It certainly looks like they’ve been doing this shtick for years!

Conclusion:

My real grouse about this game is a purely technical one. It’s just not keyboard friendly. Enhanced moves, Meta World Activation and the like require you to jam two or more buttons together, and these buttons, such as those defaulting to Z, X, and C on your keyboard, suffer from something called Keyblocking. This means, of course, that you’re best served with using a controller pad, or a console controller pad with a USB adapter or you’re at the mercy of the keyboard gods and bereft of your most potent moves.

Otherwise, it’s a fairly good buy. It’s something new and fun, and if you’re a fan of the franchise, something to tide you over till your next Umineko fix.