Hellblade is a gorgeous cinematic masterpiece. With its beautiful graphics and interesting concept, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. While it's not at its lowest price we have seen its pretty darn close at twenty dollars. Honestly, I would have paid full price for this game and still been 100% satisfied.
The game starts with Senua in a small canoe paddling through a channel of water, overhanging the water are numerous bodies. The first thing I noticed was how rich the details were. Adding to the macabre atmosphere are the voices. There is one voice that is a little louder than the others. She is the one that seems to be narrating Senua’s story for the player, but you can still clearly hear the other voices. The dissonance of the voices complement the scenery perfectly. After a short time, Senua reaches shore and the player takes control. Thus beginning your journey into Helheim, the land of the dead.
The gameplay is rather simplistic. Hellblade focuses more on the story than the actual gameplay. This sounds somewhat like a complaint, and for any other game it probably would be, but for this game it works.
Originally I was just going to write about Valiant Hearts being on sale for just five bucks but luckily I stumbled upon this gem. The Arcade Bundle contains Valiant Hearts, I am Alive, and Child of Light. While I am Alive is by far the weakest, it is not without its merits. So lets break down each and why these three games are worth every penny of the eleven dollars this bundle is.
Valiant Hearts, deserves to be held in high regard by all. It is not only and enjoyable puzzle game but an educational one that has one of the best war stories. The story is also one that rarely gets told. World War I had essentially been abandoned (except that Battlefield went back recently) and no one really knew a lot about it. Valiant Hearts set off to fix that. Not only do you get to play as three characters (and a dog) but as you progress through the game and fight through certain battles, little tidbits of information about the war is displayed. From trench foot to tunneling in France, you will know it all by the conclusion of Valiant Hearts. It's one of the saddest and most powerful stories that I have played. The art work is cute and vibrant, a complete contrast to what is going on in the world around you. Letting you know that there is always hope even in a world shaded in darkness and despair.
I am Alive is a survival game that puts you in the shoes of a survivor of "The Event." It destroyed most major cities and now he is on a mission to save his wife and child. To do that you are going to have to fight your way through a lot of looters who, just like you, need to find enough food, water, and shelter to survive. The game can be frustrating and is definitely the weakest link in the bundle. It's frustrating and there is a lot of inventory management. There are a handful of extremely painful parts where the third person controls get in the way. I could not make a seemingly easy jump, it took a bunch of tries before landing it just right. This happens here and there throughout. The mechanics for not killing people is novel. However, you cannot hold them at gunpoint forever and they will call your bluff if you don't have any bullets. It makes the game tense when you are low on supplies and are trying to bluff your way through a difficult situation. There is a lot of good in here but an annoying amount of problems too. I suggest trying it out for yourself and see where you fall on the spectrum.
Finally, Child of Light is one of the prettiest turn based RPG games that I have ever played. The story is sweet and touching. You play as Aurora, a young girl, on her coming of age adventure. She is transported to another world, Lemuria, and must fight creatures of the dark. To defeat the creatures of the dark and save the sun and stars you will have to battle foes, solve puzzles, and assemble a worthy team. The combat is varied and doesn’t get old. This is helped by the rather robust skill tree that you can develop and choose your play style. The turns are even a little different in how they work and each move is based around time, which is indicated a slide bar at the bottom of the screen. So enemies, you, or other members of your team can block or attack multiple times during another cast time. The world around you is beautiful and looks like it has been pulled straight out of a fairy tale.