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The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 2, ‘A House Divided’ | Review

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“What’s the most important thing in this world? What’s the one thing a guy would walk hundreds of miles just to get back?”

– Luke

TWD

Safety, trust, bonding, separation, protection and loyalty: welcome back to another episode of The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 2, ‘A House Divided’, where decision-making proves to be more difficult and can lead to damaging consequences — including the death of certain main characters — so choose your options wisely.

Everyone’s gameplay is different and whether you chose to save Pete or Nick in ‘All That Remains‘ will affect the storyline slightly. Saving Pete seemed like the right choice to me, even though he was bit. It allows you as the player, and as Clementine, to get more of a feel for his character and what he wishes for. But with either decision, you’re trapped indoors surrounded by mutant zombies hungering and thirsting for your flesh and blood.

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Getting back to the group is your objective in the beginning, but as the group separates in order to find each other, you’re stuck back at the house babysitting Carlos’s daughter Sarah and waiting for them to return. What you decide to tell her is optional, and depending on your choice you are able to teach her how to defend herself using a gun with the advice Lee gave to Clementine during target practice on the train in the first season. It isn’t necessary to teach her, but it does seem wise. But it’s not just the walkers they need to worry about. An unexpected threat arrives on your doorstep, a man named ‘George’ who you have suspicion might be Carver — the man the group is worried about.

Through the forest and up the mountains, the group journey to a safer higher ground away from the dead and the living, and what you find at the top — or rather who — is a true surprise, one that will leave you with a smile until confusion kicks in, along with another surprise that will leave you suspicious and annoyed. Let’s just say someone from the past and 400 Days make an appearance.

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Where your loyalties lie is the big question and decision in this episode, and who you choose to protect is what will change things in the episodes to come. And although there is one part that will leave you facepalming by someone’s stupid mistake, you’re warming up to the new group, especially with Luke and Nick and finally Rebecca, and the wrong choices can possibly ruin that. So get your weapons and your wise choices and indulge yourself in another episode of brilliant storytelling and a world of the dead.

As for the gameplay, it ran quite smoothly and the artwork and detail was beautiful and well done, especially the scene when you’re scouting the area on the ski lift. The total length of the episode was perfect — not too short and didn’t drag out — and the amount of quick time events, scenes and dialogue was well balanced.

Overall, Episode 2 was well worth the wait and is definitely enjoyable and intriguing, and as for the ending, I won’t lie, it’s intense, I’ll leave it at that. Next time on The Walking Dead ‘In Harm’s Way’ looks to be interesting and I can’t wait to see what else is in store. What does Carver want and why did the group runaway from him? We’ll soon find out….

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The Walking Dead: Season Two can be bought on Steam, PSN, Xbox Live, iOS App Store, or through the Telltale Games website.

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Platforms: PC/ Mac OS X/ PS3/ Xbox 360/ iOS

Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Rating: M (ESRB)

Review code provided by Telltale Games

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

Review

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review — A Symphony for the Fans

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Bloodstained Ritual of the Night

For a long while, the industry had yet to see a return to a true-to-form Castlevania title, leading many fans to speculate if Konami had abandoned the formula all together. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is ArtPlay’s response to this absence, with the legendary Castlevania-veteran Koji Igarashi at its helm. Although Bloodstained may not have certainty that it will continue the legacy of Castlevania, the title delivers on its promise as a game for fans, by the fans, and exceeds most expectations. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a true Castlevania experience in every way except the title. 

In Ritual of the Night, players take control of a Sharbinder named Miriam, an individual who can harness the power of magical shards crystallized by the souls of the enemies she kills. As the core mechanic, the ability to absorb shards and utilize their new skills is required for player progression and success. The fact that Miriam is a Shardbinder further reinforces the narrative of Bloodstained, since their existence often lead to negative events. The story contained within Ritual of the Night is similar to most Castlevania titles, except this time, Dracula is replaced in favor of Gebel, a more skilled Sharbinder and Miriam’s old friend and mentor. 

Bloodstained Castle

Most of the game takes place inside a castle, but long-time Castlevania veterans will expect that the castle is only an external facade, with caverns and caves hiding beneath. Remaining true to its Metroidvania roots, Bloodstained contains a sprawling map full of hidden rooms and secrets. Exploration is encouraged by the ever-present possibility of better items and power-ups in the following rooms. Bloodstained finds a perfect difficulty balance by spacing out save rooms to encourage caution. Every time death was close, the curiosity of what could be behind the next door drove the desire for further exploration.

The map present in Bloodstained is truly expansive and worthy of a Metroidvania title. Each new area provides an extension onto the already dense castle setting, never requiring players to travel to a new location to progress. All additional areas remain connected to the central castle, providing an experience that is continuous and believable. Similarly to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, players can unlock an “Inverse” ability that will flip the playable map upside down and allow for new experiences in an already explored area. Just as he did with Symphony of the Night, Igarashi-san crafted a beautiful setting that retains its appeal even when explored upside down.  

The desire to progress deeper into the castle is fueled in part by the Shard system and the potential of discovering new ones along the way. In Bloodstained: RotN, enemies have the potential to drop shards that provide enhanced abilities and passive stats. Players can equip multiple shards at once, each enhancing different areas of play. For instance, one shard can provide Miriam with an ability drawn from the creature that dropped it, while another can summon a familiar to accompany Miriam throughout her journey. 

Bloodstained Shard

As the game progresses, players are required to backtrack and utilize newly gathered shards to enter areas that were not accessible early on. In this regard, the title maintains its genuine Metroidvania, or Igavania, genre as some fans are hailing it. Killing a random sea creature might net Miriam the ability to create a directional aquatic blast, but use that ability near deep waters and players might be surprised by what they can do. 

Since every enemy in Ritual of the Night is capable of rewarding Miriam with a shard ability, players will quickly find themselves host to multiple of the same kind. To counter this, players are encouraged to sell unwanted shards for coins at the local merchant, where they can also purchase crafting items. The crafting system allows players to utilize recipes found throughout their journey and create food that provides a temporary boost to Miriam’s stats. Additionally, players can use materials gathered to enhance the shards they have amassed to alter its capabilities and damage output. 

Although Bloodstained deserves to be showered with praise, the game is not immune to technical issues that can hinder the experience. During the preparation of this review, the game was subject to continuous frame issues, where too much action would result in stuttering. Additionally, optimization issues plague the console port, with registration lag featured every time Miriam would absorb a shard or with the occasional room entry. ArtPlay has responded to these issues ensuring fans that optimization is a high priority for the company, and it will be addressing these problems within the next few patches.  

Despite a few technical setbacks, Bloodstained is truly an experience for first-timers and longtime Castlevania fans alike. Igarashi-san and ArtPlay built this game out of their love for the genre and that is evident in every aspect of the game. The preservation of a traditional Castlevania game along with the advancements made towards propelling the genre further help Bloodstained stand out amongst other Metroidvania titles of recent years. Although an argument could be made that the title leans too much on its Symphony of the Night influences, Ritual of the Night succeeds in providing fans of the genre with an experience that has been absent for years. 

Given that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a crowdfunded game, the amount of love and attention evident in its production comes as no surprise. The level of quality that is present in this package is truly astounding, and the appreciation grows even more when considering the free content promised for the coming months. Perfection should not be expected from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. However, the result is exactly what was promised by the developers, and fans could not ask for more. Throughout its development, Igarashi-san provided continual assurance that he desired to make the game a product of its fans. By listening to criticism and acting on it, he fulfilled his promise with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

OnlySP Review Score 5 High Distinction

Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. Also available on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One.

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