Monday, August 29, 2011

Assassin's Creed II - Improved Accuracy

With the success of Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft launched the first sequel, Assassin's Creed II, in 2009. The game continues the story set up by the original and gives some more insight and depth on the events surrounding the Assassins and Templars. Having now experienced it for the second time, I can happily say that I still thoroughly enjoyed playing through a simply amazing game that just has to be seen.

While the player still experiences the ongoing struggle between the Assassins and Templars, they do so under the guise of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, another ancestor of Desmond Miles. Gone is the repetitive gameplay of the predecessor, instead replaced with a more naturally flowing and linear story combined with more varied side missions that can be tackled at any time. On top of this, the collectibles present actually contribute some worth to the game, both figuratively and literally, increasing the player's in-game wealth or unlocking desirable items and content that make the process more engaging.

Along with this, the puppeteering mechanic featured before has been tweaked to be more intuitive and keep the parkour action feel like a blast. The best part is that the backdrop features some of the most beautifully and faithfully recreated cities like Florence and Venice that not only make the game a lot bigger, but create an environment more interesting to explore. Although the graphics are improved, I have a minor complaint that may be considered nitpicky; the game appears to have a short draw distance, which means that final textures often don't appear until you're really closing in on a single location. While pop-up textures are somewhat expected from an open-world game, it is a little odd to see shadows, plants, and even people appear out of thin air.

For a sequel, the story this time around is a lot more intriguing than before, written in a way to please returning fans and yet also let newer players piece it together for themselves. It's very interesting to see how just about every major historical figure is involved in one way or another, written in a way that seems plausible. Ezio is also written fantastically as a more sympathetic character than Altair, as well as a more engaging one, since we see him evolve more as a character. To say how would give away the plot, so I won't say much else here. The pacing is alright, but can feel a little disjointed should the player decide to do any side missions in betwenn main ones. At the same time, there is less seen of the world outside the Animus although this helps to make Desmond's side plot have more weight.

The game also introduces a new economy system, allowing players to earn and collect more money on the side at a reasonable speed. This also doubles as a building simulator, as players also cultivate the growth of a villa throughout the decades by increasing its value, achieved by using florins to renovate the immediate area. At the same time, it introduces a slight RPG aspect by allowing players to customize Ezio's armor, weapons, and color scheme at the villa or through shops.

One flaw from the previous game was the combat, another feature improved upon here. This new system introduces a multitude of potential weapons like polearms and throwing knives that can now be used in combat, now including the hidden blade. The contextual functions are also widely expanded upon here, allowing for disarming techniques and special moves depending on the weapon, such as throwing sand when unarmed or sweeping using a long weapon. Indeed combat feels like more of a blast, and yet perhaps this contains the only true flaw of the game: enemy AI. Guards will often just stand in place for a minute before actually striking, allowing for plenty of time to prepare a counterattack. When you decide to attack one yourself, they will often be able to block or counter the assault and lead you to mash the attack button in the hope of getting a shot in. In these cases I used a smoke bomb or other weapon, but that still felt a little frustrating even with effective usage. If the guard AI and pacing were more consistent, it might have made combat feel more like a fun challenge of skill.

Assassin's Creed was a game that needed improvement, and the sequel definitely delivers for the most part, being one of the only games I have been truly addicted to. While slight improvements could have been made, it's still near flawless as it is, proving that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. I can wholeheartedly recommend this game for anyone with an interest in Assassin's Creed, as this may well be a classic from the current console generation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stubs - Footlight Parade

FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) Starring: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Music Numbers Choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Screenplay by James Seymour and Manuel Seff. Songs by Harry Warren (music); Al Dubin (lyrics); Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics). Produced by Robert Lord. Run Time 104 minutes, Black and White. U.S. Musical, Comedy.

Made prior to the production code, FOOTLIGHT PARADE is one of the most enjoyable, yet most hard to believe musical comedies ever made in Hollywood. Telling the story of Chester Kent (James Cagney), a one-time Hollywood producer put out of business by the fad of motion pictures, who turns to making prologues, short musical numbers that are presented live in movie theaters prior to the feature. His business partners put pressure on him to create a large number of marketable prologues throughout the country.

Chester is too busy to notice that his secretary Nan Prescott (Joan Blondell) has fallen in love with him and doing her best to run interference for him. Bea Thorn (Ruby Keeler) is an employee who was once a dancer, but now a secretary that goes back to dancing to immediate success. Scotty Blair (Dick Powell) is a juvenile lead and former protégé of Harriet Bowers Gould (Ruth Donnelly) who still makes good.

James Cagney, best remembered for his roles as a gangster in such films as THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931), THE ROARING TWENTIES (1939), WHITE HEAT (1949) actually began his career as a hoofer and a comedian in vaudeville. FOOTLIGHT PARADE is one of the first examples of him being to show off his musical talents on film. He would later exploit his singing and dancing talents in the biography of George M. Cohan YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942).

Co-starring with Cagney is Joan Blondell. One of the biggest stars and cutest actresses of the 1930’s Joan Blondell was best known as a sexy wisecracking blonde. She appeared in such depression era musicals as GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933) and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 (1936). She and Cagney made seven films together: SINNERS' HOLIDAY (1930), THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931), OTHER MEN’S WOMEN (1931), BLONDE CRAZY (1931), THE CROWD ROARS (1932) and FOOTLIGHT PARADE. Their first collaboration was however on Broadway in the play PENNY ARCADE that would serve as the source material for SINNERS' HOLIDAY. Blondell’s career would continue until her death in 1979, though she would transition into a character actor later in her career.

But despite the presence of Cagney and Blondell, the real star of the film are the musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley. In the final part of the film, Kent’s business partners try to get the business of the Apolinaris theater circuit, by impressing Mr. Apolinaris with three musical prologues presented on the same night at three different movie theaters. Kent stages three, with each one being more spectacular than the one before: By a Waterfall, Honeymoon Hotel and Shanghai Lil. The latter features Cagney dancing with Keeler.

What makes each number so unbelievable is the sheer scope of each, supposedly presented on the stage in front of the movie screen. There is no way that this is possible, but when has a Busby Berkeley dance number stopped at believable. These are bigger-than-life musical numbers that transcend the real world. And aren’t musicals supposed to be unbelievable? No one seemed to understand that better that Busby Berkeley. FOOTLIGHT PARADE was Berkeley’s third Warner Bros’ film in 1933. He had already made 42ND STREET and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 that same year and still had ROMAN SCANDALS starring Eddie Cantor to go.

One of the staples of Berkeley’s 1933 musicals was dancer/singer Ruby Keeler. At the time married to Al Jolson, Keeler would appear in such musicals as 42ND STREET, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 and DAMES (1934). 42nd STREET was in fact her big break in films. In seven of her films, Keeler was cast along with Dick Powell, a singer/dancer himself, who would see his career transition from the juvenile lead in many Warner Bros. musicals to more dramatic roles MURDER, MY SWEET (1944) and eventually to a successful career producing and acting on television THE DICK POWELL THEATRE (1961-63). In addition to the films already listed Keeler and Powell also teamed up in COLLEEN (1936), FLIRTATION WALK (1934) and SHIPMATES FOREVER (1935). Powell would also marry Blondell in 1936, a second marriage for both of them that would end in divorce in 1944.

With the talents of Cagney, Blondell, Keeler, Powell and Berkeley it is no wonder that FOOTLIGHT PARADE is a pleasure to watch and even though some of the musical numbers are over the top, that is what the depression-era audiences wanted. The bigger the distraction to the woes of the day, the better and on that account FOOTLIGHT PARADE delivers. In 1992, the film would be selected for preservation as part of the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

FOOTLIGHT PARADE is available in collections on the WB Shop: 

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stubs - Confessions of a Nazi Spy

CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY (1939) Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Francis Lederer, George Sanders, Paul Lukas, Henry O’Neill. Directed by Anatole Litvak. Screenplay by Milton Krims and John Wexley, based on articles by Leon G. Turrou. Music Composed by Max Steiner (uncredited). Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner, Robert Lord. Run Time 89 minutes, Black and White. U.S. Espionage, Docudrama

Best known today as the first film from a major Hollywood studio that took a stand against Nazi Germany, CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY won the National Board of Review award for Best Film in 1939. Incidentally, that is the same year as GONE WITH THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, STAGECOACH and every other film that contributed to what many think was the best year ever for Hollywood films. However, unlike the other films listed, CONFESSIONS does not quite stand up to the test of time.

That is not to say that CONFESSIONS is a bad movie. Telling the true story of how Nazi Germany used German Americans to spy against the U.S. for the fatherland. Preaching the evils of democracy to the German way of life, Dr. Karl Kassel (Paul Lukas) leads a German-American Bund as a front for espionage. With German Americans loyal to the cause in prominent positions at shipyards, airplane manufacturing, and munitions plants, and with the support of Nazi Germany, a pre-world war II America was fairly easy pickings.

Using German nationals who travel regularly between the U.S. and Germany aboard the S.S. Bismarck, the Nazi’s send propaganda and take back military secrets. Helping the Nazi cause is Franz Schlager (George Sanders), the political officer aboard the Bismarck and the go-between with such agents as Kart Schneider (Francis Lederer), an unemployed malcontent using the code name Sword.

But when an interested postal worker in Scotland turns British intelligence on to the distribution center in their own backyard, the Nazi spy web starts to unravel in the U.S. and the F.B.I. gets involved. It is at this point, forty-five minutes into the film that the “star” of the movie finally appears. Edward Renard (Edward G. Robinson) leads the F.B.I. investigation into finding Sword.

Sword gets caught when pretending to be a U.S. government official, he tries to obtain the blank passports Schlager has requested. Despite his efforts to use Western Union and go-betweens, Schneider is apprehended by F.B.I. agents as soon as he takes possession. His capture and interrogation by Renard leads to the arrest of others involved in the ring: Hilda Kleinhauer (Dorothy Tree), Schlager’s lover and co-conspirator who works on board the Bismarck as a beautician. And from Kleinhauer, they link back to Schlager (who avoids arrest) and to Kassel himself.

While some of the accomplices, including Dr. Kassel, are spirited back to Germany by the S.S. four of the members of the
ring, Schneider and, Kleinhauer amongst them, are taken before a Grand Jury, tried, convicted and sentenced for espionage. Those taken back to Germany receive even harsher punishment for their failures.

Edward G. Robinson, the star of this film is one of those Hollywood actors that it is hard to think of a bad movie they were in. While agreeably, not all of them are classics, he made so many great ones that the others never come to mind. Robinson’s talent as an actor is underused in this film. However, credit should be given to Robinson for making the film in the first place. Other actors, including Marlene Dietrich, turned down the film for fear of reprisals against family back in German controlled Europe.

There were other Hollywood films that would satirize Hitler and Nazi Germany before the U.S. got involved in World War II, most notably, THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) made by Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges’ short YOU NATZY SPY! (1940). However, CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY was the first to show the Nazi’s as a threat to the U.S. and the American way of life. For that alone, this films is to be commended.

While this film may not stand the test of time the way other films from 1939 have, this is a testament to the time it was made. When the studios, as the trailer proclaimed, had a duty to make films that shone a light on what was going on in the world.

Confessions of a Nazi Spy is available at the Warner Archive Collection:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stubs - Patton

PATTON (1970) Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, Karl Michael Volger. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffer. Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North; based on Patton Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and A Soldier’s Story by Omar Bradley. Music Composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Produced by Frank McCarthy. Run Time 172 minutes, Color. U.S. Biography, War.

This is an epic film about a larger than life figure, General George S. Patton. Set during World War II, the movie tells the mostly true life adventures of one of the great generals to ever serve in the U.S. Army. A poet, a believer in reincarnation, but still a devote Christian, Patton is a complex man. Patton’s biggest enemy wasn’t the Germans, rather it was himself. Brilliant with war strategy, Patton got into trouble over things he said and how some of his actions were covered by the press.

George C. Scott, who throughout his career gave great performances in such films as ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959); THE HUSTLER (1961); DR. STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964), seemed to find a defining role as the foul-mouthed, Bible reading, Blood and Guts Patton. Scott got the role when the likes of Rod Steiger turned it down and made the most of the opportunity. His portrayal was good enough to earn Scott the Academy Award for Best Actor, a well-deserved accolade that the actor turned down.

Karl Malden, himself an Academy Award winner [Best Supporting Actor for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)], portrays Omar Bradley, who was also known as the G.I.’s General. As down to earth as Patton was a diva, Bradley was nevertheless an important part of the war effort. But Bradley is portrayed as more of a plodder to Patton’s genius, and as someone who gets promoted by not rocking the boat. Eventually, Bradley becomes his old friend’s superior officer.

The film starts with the arrival of Patton in North Africa, where he takes over the command of the U.S. forces, who had recently suffered a devastating loss to the Germans, led by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Volger). While Patton was bigger than life, he expected his men to toe the line when it came to being disciplined soldiers. He turns his troops around and hands Rommel a major defeat.

This leads the Germans to have an increased awareness of Patton. He becomes someone they both admire and fear. And they find it hard to believe he is later punished for slapping a soldier suffering from battle fatigue, which is tantamount to cowardice in Patton’s eyes. It is the furor over this incident that makes you wish Patton could have learned from his mistakes, because he keeps making them.

When his plans for the invasion of Sicily are scuttled for ones drawn up by Field Marshall Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (Michael Bates), Patton goes along, but only long enough until he can go his own way. Ultimately, Patton disobeys orders but is there to meet Montgomery when he marches into Mesina.

After the slapping incident, Patton is sidelined by Allied Forces. With the Germans believing Patton will lead the invasion of Europe, the Allied Forces set him up with the fictitious First United States Army Group in southern England. But Patton isn’t satisfied with being the commander of a dummy army and fearing he is missing out on his destiny, Patton pleads for reassignment.

Given the U.S. Third Army by Eisenhower, he marches through Europe, stopped only when supplies are diverted to other troops, including Montgomery’s. Still Patton plays a major part in the defeat of the Germans. But when the German’s surrender, Patton is relieved of command because of things he has said, including comparing the Nazi Party to the Democrat and Republican Parties in the U.S. and for badmouthing our then allies, the Russians, whom Patton felt we were destined to fight next.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film isn’t the war and battle scenes, it’s the relationships between the generals. While the film concentrates more on the relations between Patton and Bradley, there is also the more important one, career-wise, between Eisenhower and Patton. Eisenhower is often referred to, but never seen in the movie. Rather he is shown working through intermediaries, like and Major General Walter Bedell Smith (Edward Binns). This leaves the viewer with the idea that Eisenhower never dealt directly with Patton, though in real life he did. Since they were close friends before the war, it must have been difficult for Eisenhower to have to discipline a man he once considered his mentor.

There is also the battle of the divas between Patton and Field Marshall Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (Michael Bates). Throughout the movie, Patton always seems to be competing with Montgomery for both supplies and the spotlight. While they have a common enemy, the Germans, there appears to be no love lost between these two as they fight alongside and with each other throughout Africa, Sicily and Europe.

Technically, this is a great movie. The battle scenes are still quite powerful to watch and the re-enactments seem very real even by today’s standards; maybe even more so. One of the differences is that there are no CGI special effects. This makes the action more real and more visceral.

This is simply a well-made film and it succeeds on all levels, both in front of and behind the camera. It is no surprise that it would win not only the Best Picture, in addition to Actor, but also Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay based on Factual Material or Material Previously Published or Produced.

Patton is more than a war film. One of the great films of the 1970’s, it is driven as much by the characters it develops as by the action it depicts. Patton is a biography that shows all of its subject’s warts, faults and eccentricities, well as the attributes that made him a hero.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Assassin's Creed - Slightly Off Target

This upcoming holiday season, Ubisoft plans to launch Assassin's Creed Revelations, a game that promises to be as good as it is ambitious. In order to provide better insight on the game, I plan to (re)play and review the previous games to gear up properly. And what better game to start off with than Assassin's Creed? Released in 2007, the game is a really good start for the franchise with many positives. However, there are some flaws that, while small, stand out and slightly bog down the experience.

When you first put in the disk, you can't help but wonder exactly what's going on, like maybe your copy is faulty. After that surprise, the game hits the ground running. There is plenty to explore in the game world, with three large cities connected from one common area. Exploring these beautifully constructed environments is never a problem, as there is often more than one way to get to your destination, either by sneaking through the crowds or performing great leaps across rooftops. Should you need to get away, you can hide in plain sight or become more covert inside piles of hay or small structures. This allows the player to feel more like a ninja and a warrior within the body of Altair.

What helps aid with this is the contextual button mapping. The action buttons correspond to various parts of the body, the context of which can be changed to suit high and low profile actions. For example, Altair can use his legs to dodge during combat or sprint ahead of pursuing city guards. This control scheme is very intuitive and lets the player feel another layer of immersion while controlling the character. While it is good, the practicality of this system in combat can be called a little into question. While fighting, it is possible to miss the precise timing required to counter an assault, which happens more often than not, and needing to take out one guard at a time can be frustrating and tedious as later points in the game simply increase their damage or health count to make sure it still takes around the same number of hits to take them down. On top of this, it is easy for the AI to overpower you, if you're not careful, to the point where you are sandwiched between two enemies and about half of Altair's health disappears before he can fight back. While the combat system could have been improved, I was still able to use it effectively in most situations.

The lengthy narrative is difficult to explain in words, so I won't try to explain it here. What I will say is that the funnest bit was experiencing the ongoing struggle between the Assassins and the Templars, two organizations who want world peace but wish to achieve it in opposing ways. The major twists come near the end for Altair, but Desmond Miles' time outside the Animus is equally interesting as he finds out more about exactly who he is and what the world is like. The story path during the different "levels" for the most part go like this: Altair is given an assassination target, goes to the city where they are located, and goes to the Assassin's Bureau. After this, he investigates to learn more about his target before he can get the go ahead to perform the assassination. Once the target is dead, he returns to the bureau to show proof of the kill and moves on to the next target. While exciting at first, this formula gradually feels more repetitive due to lack of mission variety. Thankfully the last two portions of the game throw the player for a loop and offer something new.

Should you decide to do something other than the story missions, there are plenty of collectibles to find in the form of hundreds of flags scattered around the game world. However there is no real in-game reward for finding all of them, making the process feel a bit pointless, even more so on the PS3 version.

Assassin's Creed isn't a bad game at all, in fact being a genuinely fun experience. However, the flaws that are present stick out so well because of how good everything else is. I can recommend this title to anyone who wants to play through it once for the thrill that comes from the vast exploration available and interacting with the engaging narrative, despite the repetitive nature.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

File:Cowboys & Aliens.jpg

In 2006, Platinum Studios released a graphic novel called Cowboys & Aliens, created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Jon Favreau, who you may know as the director of the Iron Man movies, later directed a film adaptation of the same name for release in 2011. At the time this was hyped, I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it, but it did seem like an interesting concept. Having seen the movie without having read the graphic novel, I liked it better than I thought I would, but it still had a few problems.

The story begins in 1875 with an unknown man (Daniel Craig) waking up with no memory and a mysterious device on his wrist. While he tries to break it off with a rock, a group of men on horseback attempt to rob him. The stranger, however, manages to beat and rob all of them, taking a horse and their dog before making his way to the town of Absolution. Once there, he runs into the preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown), who treats a mysterious wound he has on his chest. Soon after, the stranger takes down another man named Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the son of a cattleman (Harrison Ford), who has been a nuisance to the town. Soon after, the stranger is identified by the sheriff as Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw. Meanwhile, while a group of men tend to cattle, an alien spacecraft wreaks havoc as only one of the men survives. It isn't long before the aliens attack Absolution, abducting several people before one craft is shot down. After investigating the craft, a group of villagers plan to go against the aliens, while Jake searches for answers and his memories.

Overall the movie has an interesting premise and it seems to handle it in an interesting way. I don't know how it compares to the graphic novel it's based on, but I did notice a couple weird things about it. *Spoiler Alert* The female lead Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) is at one point revealed to be an alien, which seems to come out of nowhere. To their credit, they do try to explain this, but later in the movie is a sort of continuity error: Ella reveals that the aliens work underground because they can't stand sunlight, yet during the final battle (in the sunlight no less), the aliens are perfectly fine. *End Spoiler*

The acting is good in this movie, but everyone seems to come off as a jerk to some degree. Even the main character comes off as somewhat of a jerk, but he also has a heart of gold. The effects are pulled off spectacularly in this film, especially when it comes to the aliens' technology, but the design of said aliens, save for one, got a little creepy at times, particularly in that they appear to have fish eyes. It got a little unsettling whenever that was clearly shown, but otherwise they were fairly easy to look at.

Cowboys & Aliens was better that I thought it would be, but it wasn't one of the best movies I've seen this year. They do try to explain everything, but a few things seem a little off. I don't know if those who have read the graphic novel will enjoy it, though I have heard that it differs from the source in some ways. If you're curious about seeing the movie, I would say it's worth seeing at least once.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Second Opinion - Catherine

Catherine PS3 Alternate Box Art

The Japanese studio Atlus has always been known for crafting difficult RPG's. Some would even say they are masochistic in nature, like the Persona series. Imagine my surprise when I find out that their latest game Catherine is not an RPG at all, but rather a puzzle game. This fact, combined with a rather unique premise, captured my interest and made me want to play it. After actually doing so, I can say that I ended up kind of liking it.

The story involves the relationship between Vincent Brooks and his girlfriend Katherine, who he has been seeing for five years. Suddenly a girl named Catherine enters his life and proceeds to turn it upside down. While the game goes on, he has to deal with the two of them and ultimately decide which one he truly loves. This romantic part of the game was pulled off amazingly in well-animated cutscenes, but has a surprising layer of depth from the player's intervention. While playing, you are asked various questions from other characters and during the Nightmare stages that relate to relationships. Doing this, and responding to text messages in the bar, influence an unmarked meter that determines how Vincent reacts to the situation at hand. These actions from Vincent influence the kind of ending the player gets out of the possible eight. I managed to get the best ending possible, but I don't know if I would go through this game again to view the others.

My reason for this is the other half of the game, the sliding block puzzles. While I have played other puzzle games in the past, I wouldn't consider myself a master of them. That said, the approach used here is rather unique, but it can get difficult. There are trap blocks aplenty as you are introduced to new ones gradually, and sometimes even a special technique tailored to getting around them. My puzzle instincts got better as I went on, but the difficulty curve serves to make the last handfuls of stages particularly annoying due to the fact that it is completely possible to overlook possible routes to take. Retrying a stage isn't a complete problem either, but the same sections can still be pretty frustrating. The difficulty isn't completely crippling, but I can see how those who are not as adept to puzzle games could have more of a problem.

Praise goes more to the music and voice acting, which were selected nicely. The classical pieces add a great atmosphere to the game and offer a nice variety to listen to, especially in the aforementioned cutscenes. I also found it interesting how the player can learn alcohol trivia just from merely drinking the substance, which can be rather enlightening if you don't know it already.

Overall, the story was the most enjoyable aspect for me, but suffering through the puzzles was sort of worth it just to see what exactly kicked it all off. In the end, I think I can recommend this game to those who enjoy Atlus titles or people who play puzzle games and are willing to bust their minds open with a new challenge. And remember, if you find it too difficult, just hold back/select at the mode select screen for a few seconds for a very relieving surprise.