Review – Devil’s Hunt

There’s a graphic novel out there, you know the one, that posits that any person can go insane if they have a sufficiently bad day. Well, Desmond Pearce had an incredibly bad day, so he ended up an enforcer for Hell, and even worse, trapped in some form of messianic role in the coming war for the End of Days! This is Devil’s Hunt

The Good

Absolutely nothing…I had to force myself to keep playing.

The Bad

COMBAT….IN SPAAAAAAAACE: By which I mean the combat has no weight whatsoever, you flail, hit with sword, punch with oversized fists and none of it feels like it has any impact. It’s a combination of animation velocity, the lack of proper impactful sounds, reactions from enemies to your attacks and every other tiny detail that sells that the attack did a damn thing. You will find none of it in Devil’s Hunt and the result is that combat never felt exciting.

UFW – Ultimate Fighting Worthlessness: The combat design for this game is atrocious, the kind of thing you need to build from the ground up again to fix. I can see the intent is building something akin to God of War or Darksiders, with active unlockable special moves aside from different combos, only there are only 2 or 3 combos per combat tree, you can’t switch between them on the fly, the dodge is a ridiculous dash that overshoots and then leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds, there is no lock on to dash around enemies, the parry works only sometimes and only against the enemies that show a visible parry prompt that is confusing as all hell how it works. Oh, and the active powers feel like they’re firing or hitting enemies with foam darts, for all the good they do. It’s even worse when you transform into your “executor form,” which only flails wildly then kills enemies and never feels powerful AT ALL. It’s laughably bad.

Hell-puppy: If the intent was making you feel like a badass Hell knight in Desmond’s shoes, then they missed the mark entirely. Exploration is about going to the right spot on the map and pressing the interaction button and then watching Desmond perform the action very slowly. With a character and a title like this, you want to feel like a badass. You don’t want to interact and then control Desmond as he balances on a beam between a gap. No, you want to run and jump across the gap then keep running, never stopping. You want to kick down doors, not watch Desmond struggle to push them open with his shoulder. Besides the fact that it’s slow and boring, and repetitive, it creates a disconnect between what you can do and what you see the character do at specific times when he uses his abilities to move, throw or destroy impossibly large things. I mean, have some consistency in portrayal, will you? And watching Desmond shimmy his way between walls for the 10th time is the opposite of what I’m looking for when playing as the “Saviour and Destroyer.”

Puppet Show: Characters are stiff and nothing, absolutely nothing about them looks human. Watching a cutscene in this game is like watching mannequins. The characters are slow, they barely touch when they’re supposed to be hugging. It’s that kind of old animation that you’d think we’d have moved on by now. Hell, I know we have. Characters show no emotion whatsoever when they speak, they don’t react, they always have these lost blank stares that become uncomfortable after a while.

Bored of Hell: I’ve seen many a depiction of hell and you know which one I’m kinda over now? The fire and brimstone kind, with added guts and rivers of blood. It’s been done, it’s been done to death and by better people. If this game wanted to stand out and do something cool, then holy hell they needed a better representation of hell. I know they’re working from a novel, but come on, part of adaptation is taking some liberties and this game could’ve used some in its depiction of hell. There are two things that you will find interesting about it and it’s character designs for Lucifer and Belial, ‘cause one looks like a supermodel and the other a member of the Russian mob. And that’s about it. Everything else is tired and boring.

Torture of a tale: And I don’t mean it’s a tortuous tale, no I mean it’s torture to witness. The plot is bad, it’s bland, it’s boring, it’s simple and predictable and I lost count of clichés within the first ten minutes. The pacing is all over the place, the narrative is amateurish and nothing about it is engaging, least of all the protagonist who goes from being a massive a-hole to, well, a massive a-hole. There is no growth, there is no learning, there is no progress. It’s a story that just goes nowhere, and worse still it’s kinda the first in what might be a series or a trilogy and it’s completely underwhelming. Here’s a pro-tip, do not follow up your “badass” intro dream sequence—that is never clear that it’s a dream—with one hour of bland real world, mundane human life stuff that doesn’t so much set the stage as bore you to the brink of madness.

Fire the Orchestra: I only ever have to say things about music in games when it’s really good or in this case when it’s atrocious, human-rights-violation bad. Every single piece of music consists of the same one or two cords on an electric guitar being played over and over, with no variation, no switch up, no rhythm, nothing. It’s the most repetitive and headache inducing music I’ve listened to in a long time and never want to hear it again. And whoever decided that the credits shouldn’t have music but creature grunts should be sent to a mental facility. That person is clearly disturbed.


Review: Black Mirror

On his father’s passing, David Gordon returns to Scotland to the family’s ancient manor, a place hiding a terrible dark secret, one tied to the house’s namesake, the Black Mirror.

Continue reading Review: Black Mirror

Puzzle Design – Narrative vs Challenge

If there’s one thing that you can expect from an adventure game, it’s puzzles. They’re part of the genre, and even the slew of choice-based adventures we’ve seen in the past few years have at least one puzzle in them, a little challenge to break the pace from the monotony of watching interactive cutscenes.

If the above sentence makes it sound like I don’t like choice-driven games, you’re getting close, though it’s not exact either. I like challenges and puzzles in my videogaming, and when it comes to adventures, I want puzzles, be it logic, inventory or even conversation based. It’s why I loved Life is Strange, it didn’t sacrifice the puzzling for the choices, finding a good balance between them.

But as I sit here contemplating adventure games I realise there are different approaches to puzzle design, and while this might a gross oversimplification and generalisation, I believe you can put the overall design approaches into two categories: Narrative Driven and Challenge Driven. Continue reading Puzzle Design – Narrative vs Challenge

Looking for Group – Recruitment Drive

Hello everybody. I’ve mentioned in the past how much I enjoy playing Pen & Paper RPGS. I love D&D and almost every other system I’ve had the fortune of playing. My recent purchase and review of the Anima video game came from my love of the RPG setting and only last week I wrote a bit of an ode to one of my favourite D&D podcasts/shows, Acquisitions Incorporated.

As The Mental Attic grows and I tap new contacts and opportunities, I get in touch with many RPG developers and publishers and they often send me their products for reviewing purposes and while I at least attempt to get some games together to try things out, I’m rarely successful. Continue reading Looking for Group – Recruitment Drive

Review: Knee Deep

A Hollywood actor is dead, and there’s a media-frenzy around it. There’s also intrigue and danger and a blogger, a print journalist and a private detective are Knee Deep in it!

Continue reading Review: Knee Deep

The Road So Far – Tales of Zestiria

Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are gone. Lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more…

Someday I’ll turn these articles into awesome highlight videos with that song playing in the background, similar to Supernatural season finales. But as my editing skills more than suck, I’ll just write it all down.

I started a new Let’s Play a few weeks ago, the latest in the Tales series, Tales of Zestiria, yet another game they end in “ia” for no reason (see Symphonia, Xillia, Berseria). Continue reading The Road So Far – Tales of Zestiria

The Road So Far – Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are gone. Lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more…

Someday I’ll turn these articles into awesome highlight videos with that song playing in the background, similar to Supernatural season finales. But as my editing skills more than suck, I’ll just write it all down.

Yes, another Let’s Play on The Mental Attic’s YouTube channel and picking up where we left off on the road to playing all Tomb Raider games in reverse order. This time it’s Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. Continue reading The Road So Far – Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

The Road So Far – Jade Empire

Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are gone. Lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more…

Someday I’ll turn these articles into awesome highlight videos with that song playing in the background, similar to Supernatural season finales. But as my editing skills more than suck, I’ll just write it all down.

A couple of weeks ago I resumed the Let’s Play of Jade Empire I’d started months ago. I picked the game up right where I left it, after the destruction of the Two Rivers School, hot on the trail for Master Li and Death’s Hand, the Emperor’s main enforcer and the leader of the Lotus Assassins. First I hit Tien’s Landing and took care of a lover’s quarrel between a man and an old friend, then went on to get our passage to the Imperial Capital. This I did by cleansing a forest from corruption, meeting a minor Deity and her Elephant-man bodyguard, beating down an entire Pirate clan and fighting our way through hundreds of spirits and assassins. You know, the usual stuff.

At the Capital, there were lots of things to do, but only did the Black Leopard school, finding a surprisingly charismatic and not totally demented evil teacher in there. If you see the video, you’ll notice my surprise when that happens, as just then I was commenting on how all evil guys in this game were totally predictable.

This week you’ll see more of the Imperial Capital, including a cameo from a certain very famous member of Monty Python. It’ll be a blast.

I’ve had a few things I’ve liked so far, and others I’m not a fan of, and you can consider The Road so Far a mini-review that I’ll build on over the course of this Let’s Play:


  • It looks beautiful, even for its time. The settlements have tons of details, particularly the Imperial City with its gardens and fountains, and the waterways coursing along the streets. I love how ghosts look, how you can see through them, the ‘veins’ in them.
  • It has an interesting cosmology that combines primordial spirits, the balance of the universe and the Chinese Pantheon, The Celestial Bureaucracy aka Tai Di.
  • The over-the-top names for everyone, from Sagacious Zu to Sun Li The Glorious Strategist. It reminds me a lot Legend of the Five Rings.


  • The women in this game have no self-respect, no self-esteem and no self-anything. They all instantly fawn over a pretty word. Dawn Star is the worst, she has no notion of self-worth beyond what you tell her and she even says so. It’s painful to say the least.
  • I know that writing cryptic characters is difficult, but there is a very definite line between cryptic and obtuse. Most major characters in Jade Empire are just obtuse, refusing to give any information. It’s not even thinly veiled, or with any misdirection. It’s fairly obvious what they mean if you just pay attention.
  • There are dozens of martial arts styles…and most of them are useless. From the transformations—that don’t make much sense—to the couple dozen hidden styles and scroll-fetch-quest ones, you’ll probably ignore most of them and just upgrade the core two skills: Leaping Tiger and your weapon of choice.
  • Combat is a constant catch-up thing. Every combo pushes your opponents out of your reach, breaking up your rhythm and the flow of battle and forcing you to get close to them again.
  • A follow-up, combat is shallow. You can beat every enemy by just mashing buttons. Dodging is almost pointless and I only use it to get behind enemies, not that it has any effect on them, they turn around immediately.

As the Let’s Play continues, I’m sure I’ll think of more good and bad things about it, or change my mind about a few of them.

If you haven’t seen any episodes, check out the videos on this post and don’t forget to keep an eye out for The Mental Attic’s YouTube channel, for new episodes at 9:30am GMT, Mondays to Fridays!

New YouTube Stuff Incoming!!

Last week we kicked off a new era of content on YouTube. We went back to Jade Empire, to continue my Open Palm playthrough, acting as yet another gullible, innocent sap to get enough points for the game’s “Light Side.” It’s a pretty fun game. The first episode was a longer one, cut directly from a Twitch broadcast, and with no commentary since I forgot to turn on the mic…I do that sometimes. Continue reading New YouTube Stuff Incoming!!

Review: Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

The Skaven live underground, they scurry about, almost forgotten by those on the surface. But things are changing, the world is ending and nothing will stop the Vermintide.

Continue reading Review: Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide