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  11:26:21 pm, by Nimble   , 407 words  
Categories: Reviews, Games


Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000E991PC/thecerealkill-20

This is just the neatest damned game I have come across in a while.

Originality is not usually the strong suit of videogames, and when originality comes into play, it's often coupled with either frustrating mechanics, mere confusion or repetition.

Against a beautiful calligraphic background with an artistic rendering technique reminiscent of XIII, you play a resurrected wolf with Amaterasu, a Shinto sun goddess on your back, and an annoying little bouncing bug on your head.

Beside the usual standard game elements, such as running, jumping, smashing jars to get their contents and the like, you use brush techniques. Yes, I wondered "how the heck would that work?!" as well, but it really does.

Holding down R1 freezes your entire world on a canvas (turning it sepia toned on paper for a moment). You then draw certain brushstrokes in ink, let go R1, and see what effects your brushstroke has wrought. For example, once you learn the technique, a horizontal slash can break things. Drawing in missing details on incomplete or broken items can repair them. Drawing a circle in some places can cause the sun to shine. There's a lot more to this, and it requires a quicker trigger finger than you might imagine, but I won't spoil the rest of the game.

Combat is against demonic critters, starting at monkeys with calligraphic faces, going to monkeys with musical instruments, and getting into worse creatures from there. You can either whack them into dying, or whack them until they lose their colour, and before they regain their colour, slash them horizontally with the paintbrush.

Add to this some quirky characters, rewards for being a little obsessive about things, a day/night cycle that occasionally shows you different things, the ability to have the wolf bark and set off our dogsbarking, being able to dig up treasures wolf-fashion in certain places, the nifty puzzles, the neat things you can do, and the entire "I'm in a Japanese painting" experience make for a very engaging, "I can't believe I'm doing this" (in a good way) experience.

I have complaints, and they are few. The cute Charlie-Brown-adults-esque talking gets very annoying in the spots where you cannot speed the talking up, and a few of the puzzle sequences (like Mr. Orange's dance) will just trap you there until you solve the puzzle.

We rented this game to just try it out, but I think this game is a keeper :)


Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

I returned the rental and bought the game. It was and is really enjoyable, and it’s interesting how they can keep providing variations on a theme.

Consoles are sometimes pretty good for providing very long-running games. PCs almost seem to have a plethora of short-running games and hope to make it up a little in multiplayer mode.

10/06/06 @ 03:31
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

I just finished the game not long ago. It was actually a pretty rewarding end to the game. The credits are just gorgeous, you get ‘presents’ depending on how well you did overall in the game, and you get a special “Start From The Beginning” save point, which seems to have some significance, as though you can use the presents in that new game (haven’t tried it yet, though).

I went back to a save prior to boarding the Ark and just ran around investigating more things, and boy, did I ever miss a lot. I found a three-cherry-bomb power, a free-ride-through-Mermaid-pools power, a galestorm power (a tornado-like version of the divine wind), and a more powerful slash that can cut rocks, and I’m sure I missed a lot more. (Racing the messenger once more and catching the thief once more promise to give rewards, too)

I like somewhat open-ended games like this, with plenty of secrets to find, but not many that are absolutely necessary in completing the game.

It’s awakened a bit more interest in Japanese mythology, too, in particular because I’ve seen a few movies and manga that make reference to some of the legends pictured (I want to know more about those weird wheel demons, for example)

It looks like there’s room for a sequel, though it would likely be leaving the earth behind and taking place on the Celestial Plain and the moon (where the Lunar Tribe fled from). I hope they come out with a sequel and take that angle; I’m sure there’s plenty of mythology to fill it out.

11/03/06 @ 13:18