Dauntless (Open Beta) – Mini Review

More Than a Monster Hunter Clone

You’ve probably heard of a “new” game that’s become quite popular on the Epic Games store recently called Dauntless. It’s out for PS4, Xbox, and PC with a Switch port coming soon. Even better than that, it is 100% free to play. So what exactly is Dauntless and why is it so popular?

This game has actually been around for some time, since 2017, but it never gained traction until just recently. Many wrote this off as a buggy and inferior copy of the smash game series, Monster Hunter, but after some time in the oven and a wide release on multiple platforms, it seems things have really turned around for Phoenix Labs.

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I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the game. I don’t like Monster Hunter and it seemed like the kind of grind that would get old fast. However, something compelled me to give this a try and I’m really glad that I did. What I discovered was a game that was great for popping in and out of with a nice community.

As I’ve mentioned, the game is not dissimilar to Monster Hunter, specifically World. The key difference being that Dauntless is more of an arcade-y experience working on a free to play model. Don’t let that scare you though because the game is extremely solid and friendly to those not wanting to invest a cent.

For an open beta product, the foundation of the game is extremely solid. You can choose from one of several weapons ranging from a sword, spear, or guns, called “repeaters” in this game. Each weapon has various elemental forms that can be upgraded and modified as you play to best counter each monster.

What I particularly like about this is the mastery system Dauntless has. As you use each weapon, you unlock mastery in it. This in turn grants you new ways to further customize your weapon of choice. However, the game also gives players an incentive for keeping a more well-rounded approach by having quests and challenges that grant rewards tied to getting just a little bit better with every weapon.

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As for micro-transactions, there are some. The worst of the bunch is the needless “Hunt Pass” which is a weird battle pass thing in a free to play MMO type game. That said, it only grants a very minute bonus to resource gathering as well as additional premium currency that you otherwise wouldn’t get right away. At least, that’s all that it impacts in terms of gameplay. You do get several cosmetic items by purchasing the pass but it is by no means necessary.

Free users still gain rewards on the Hunt Pass, just a lot less after the initial few levels. Still, free users do gain many of the same things the paid users get, just in smaller quantities. What you’ll largely miss out on is cosmetic items.

Having put in several hours over the course of two weekends, I can confidently say that the Duantless has a solid playerbase that is ready and willing to help new players. It doesn’t take long to get to a pretty competent level either. I’m already at some pretty high-end stuff with multiple sets of highly leveled gear.

Fighting the monsters has been largely rewarding. Only a few are slightly frustrating but each is pretty different than the last. When I was talking about weapons earlier, you really are rewarded for having mastery over a couple because some weapons do way better against certain monsters. As you play, you pick that stuff up in an organic kind of way and it is really satisfying.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though. Every now-and-again, the servers seem to be overloaded. You may disconnect in the middle of a 15 minute battle and lose out on all that work. Also, the devs haven’t implemented loadout slots yet so you are constantly needing to shuffle around gear.

These are things that can be, and will be, fixed though. If you like games like Monster Hunter and don’t mind a bit of a grind, than Dauntless is something you should check out. It being free and on virtually every platform with a linked account across each of ’em, there really isn’t much risk for just popping in. You may just find a new favorite like I did!

You can check the game out in more detail on the Dauntless website. If you would like to play with me I am available sporadically on the weekend. The game has crossplatform play, so even if you aren’t on PS4, we can play together. Let me know in the comments if you want to add me or send me a private message on my Twitter (@JS_Reviews) so we can get that sorted.


Let me know how you’ve been enjoying Dauntless and if I convinced you to check it out. Even if you hate the game, I’d love to hear why. If you want to support my writing here please consider a donation by hitting the Ko-fi button below. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read and have a good one!

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When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu

Seeing is Believing

Have you ever watched a show where the main character is supposedly some kind of genius or master at a thing, but the show kind of skirts around actually showing them, well, doing it? I hate that, and it happens a lot more often than you might think! Thankfully, some shows go out of their way to not only tell you these details, but show them as well. Today I’d like to celebrate two such recent examples I witnessed from the shows Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu. Continue reading “When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu”

Mirai – Mini Review

Bringing it All Together

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Hosoda’s films. I’ve written about Wolf Children at length (multiple times actually) because it has been my favorite standalone animated film for some time. Having seen all of his works, multiple times no less, I can confidently say that this latest entry was more than competent. Mirai draws a lot from the prior films, and in many ways benefits from that as a result. However, it still didn’t manage to exceed any expectations.

Image result for mirai anime filmIf I had to rank this among all of Hosoda’s other films, I’d say this ranks around 3rd place. The reason for this is mainly pacing, the film has some great moments, but how scenes flow into each other just didn’t quite work. Still, there are a lot of wonderful things to be said about this film, which is what I’d rather focus on.

For this viewing I watched Mirai with my mom as a belated Mother’s Day activity. She had enjoyed Wolf Children when we watched it a few Mother’s Days back and I figured we could probably enjoy this. I’ll include some of her thoughts on the film here-and-there as well.

What was impressive about this film was how Hosoda managed to improve on his prior movies. Nothing in Mirai is really original, it feels like a recycling of the other films, but taking mostly the best parts of each. You have the interesting time travel that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time had, various elements of The Boy and the Beast, and much more of course.

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This demonstrated Hosoda’s growth in his career and I genuinely believe his next film is gonna be an impressive one if this is any indication. When viewing Mirai from this angle it leaves a better impression than it might otherwise as an isolated film.

The other aspect of the film that was done quiet well was Kun’s character. He is a bratty child who is jealous of his baby sister, the titular Mirai. GKIDS got an actual kid, Jaden Waldman, to voice Kun and that always makes a world of difference. As an audience it is easy to see why Kun behaves the way he does, so you sympathize, but he’s just obnoxious enough that you don’t exactly root for him either.

It’s a good balance that accurately reflects how kids act and think. My mother was pretty impressed with that part but she remarked that he might have been just a little too obnoxious. I can’t disagree, but considering we both have a pretty high tolerance for kids, I can only imagine how others might take to Kun.

Kun being a kid, he blends fantasy and reality together often in this film. It’s neat to see, making everything a kind of metaphysical interaction, but it can cause some parts of the film to feel slightly confusing. Not in a way that you can’t follow it, but in a way that might pull some folks out of the experience.

Both my mom and I were impressed with the time travel concept and how it brought everything together. Kun’s war-era grandpa was easily the best story in the bunch and I low-key wouldn’t have minded watching an entire film about that.

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Finally, I just have to mention the train station that nightmares are made of. I saw a review before I picked this up that heavily criticized the depiction of a train station, seeing that this is a kid’s film, and I was puzzled at first. When the film got to that point, I told my mom about it and we both went, “Yeah, not seeing it.” Then… well, we got it. For us, it was very humorous, but it is the only real black mark against the film as something meant for children. It may actually be quite traumatizing for some kids.

All-in-all, Mirai has charm. It’s a solid watch if you are a fan of Hosoda at all, even more so if you are actually. While there were a few times the movie wasn’t at its best, when it wanted to deliver, it absolutely did. As a children’s film, there are a lot of solid messages here, which you ought to know by now I’m all about. You should definitely watch with younger kids, but older ones should be fine. For adults, there are some interesting things to ponder and plenty of spectacle.


Have you seen Mirai? Additionally, what Hosoda film is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! If you want to help  me out and support my writing please use my Ko-fi button which you can see below. As always, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Anime ABC’s S Results

The Fate of the Vote is in One Man’s Hands…

This time around we had 20 unique voters who deliberated on over 40 titles. In the end we had an eight-way tie, truly this was the round of impossible choices! We’ve had ties before, but never this many, and this intense. Each of the 8 listed shows received 5 votes each (in no particular order):

  • Attack on Titan
  • Ghost Hound
  • Rakugo
  • SAO
  • A Silent Voice (Film)
  • Silver Spoon
  • Sound Euphonium
  • Spice and Wolf

I truly had expected a tight race, but this was beyond expectations. Breaking the tie myself is normally what I’d do here but I had a fairly unique opportunity. The last night of the vote, after it had ended, I was just coming home from watching some Golgo 13 with my D&D group (we are on a bit of a break right now) and I realized I hadn’t sent him the vote! For shame… As such, I thought I’d take the opportunity to have him be the decider.

Provided with the above list of options he sat and thought for a few minutes before finally consulting me with his final decision. He said it was a tough choice, both Spice and Wolf and Silver Spoon were viable options, but he said he settled ultimately on Silver Spoon because he thinks I would really enjoy it.

So there we have it folks! Silver Spoon has won the prestigious honor of being our 19th spot in this very cut-throat race. I hope you’ll look forward to the review! I’ll be working on the watch over the next few weeks as I have a few other projects currently in the works. Until then, there will be regular scheduled content or you can always check out the previous winner, Run with the Wind or my big alphabetized list of every anime I’ve reviewed.

Below you can find a breakdown of all the votes. This time I made the pie graph a little more digestible, but the bar graph is there in full. Also a reminder, one of the other votes was for a show I’ve already reviewed, please do not vote for shows I’ve reviewed previously. Consulted the above alphabetized list before voting please!

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Other – Scorching Ping Pong Girls, Symphogear (I sadly forgot to include this on the list proper…), School-Live (Already have reviewed), and Shinesman

Golden Sky Stories – Helping Out in a Rural Village

Heart-Warming Fun

This is a slightly expanded review which I featured on Reddit, which you can view here. It won the monthly review contest there for April 2019. I’m trying out a slightly new format for this sort of content, so feedback is appreciated.

What is Golden Sky Stories?

“Golden Sky Stories is a heartwarming, non-violent role-playing game from Japan, by Ryo Kamiya. In this game, players take on the role of henge, animals that have just a little bit of magical power, including the ability to temporarily take on human form. You can be a fox, raccoon dog, cat, dog, rabbit, or bird, and each kind has their own special magical powers. Players will then attempt to solve problems around a small enchanted town with ingenuity, co-operation and friendship.

Golden Sky Stories requires one Narrator, 2-4 players, pencils and paper, and tokens to keep track of Dreams.”

-The game’s page

Continue reading “Golden Sky Stories – Helping Out in a Rural Village”

Anime ABC’s – S Voting Round

Spoiled for Choice!

This time around you guys are going to be seriously spoiled for choice! We’ve entered the 19th round and I’m excited to see how this one will shake out. Due to the large number of “S” anime, there will be NO pictures or links like I have been doing. Remember, if a show is missing from the list, be sure to consult my alphabetized list of everything I’ve ever discussed here. Finally, you can catch up with the latest review in the series covering Run with the Wind here as well.

Anime ABC’s S Voting Round Link <- Click Me!

Voting is open from today until 6/7/19 11:59 PM as usual.

Not Sure What Anime ABC’s Is?

Anime ABC’s is a fun community focused event that I run here at Jon Spencer Reviews. Any and all people can participate in this event, even if you know nothing about anime! So how exactly does this all work? It’s simple! Just follow the link above and vote for as many of the listed shows (or provide your own) that seem interesting to you. Each round moves to the next letter in the alphabet, so the current “S” round is the nineteenth anime ABC’s. This is done to keep things interesting and to allow for more variety with each passing round.

The goal of this series is to encourage community input, interaction, as well as to allow me to discover cool new shows, or in some cases, rediscover ones that I previously watched. You can check out my previous ABC reviews for:

Be sure to click on any of the titles listed to see what a finished product will look like!

 

 

 

What are you waiting for? Vote now and have your say in what anime I review next!

Ingress the Animation – Mini Review

A Good Mobile Game Adaptation

Image result for ingress the animationI’m back with my latest Netflix adventure, this time with Ingress the Animation, a supernatural drama based on a mobile game by Niantic. You may know them for Pokemon GO, and like that game, this is an AR game meant to get people out and about but this one came first. Is there enough here to make for a good show? Does this sit somewhere closer to B:  The Beginning or is this another Hero Mask?

When I sat down to watch this one I had no clue it was a mobile game adaptation, I only learned all that part way through when I was doing some digging. I also expected the show to be another supernatural cop procedural, but this one was more action oriented. Still, Ingress managed to peak my interest.

What got me interested in everything was the introduction of Makoto, a psychic detective who is asked to investigate a strange incident. With the ability to see memories contained in objects, he soon learns something he shouldn’t and gets wrapped up in a global conspiracy. You know, just another Monday.

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It was good character introduction

It’s a bit cliche, but what I liked most about this was how the anime showed you how his power works. Actually, things were done this way more often than not. There were still info dumps, but they weren’t too often and were done when only necessary.

As the story unfolds Makoto gets involved with a girl named Sarah. She tells Makoto that there exists a hidden substance that has influenced humanity for some time called, Exotic Matter, or XM for short. This explains his ability. It’s an example where the show tells you things, but the whole while it does a lot of showing at the same time.

Mostly, this is to teach you about the mobile game. Surprisingly, it did a really good job because I was talking to my brother about it (he’s played it) and he was shocked how well I knew the game for never playing. Even more shocking, this never felt intrusive. It felt totally organic within the story and something that really sets this one apart for me.

In the end, the story isn’t revolutionary but one that I enjoyed more than expected. Going back to my earlier question, it had quality closer to B than Hero Mask, which is a good thing for sure. I’d watch more of this if it ever got more.

The characters for the series are done in CG and that can be a bit distracting, sometimes resulting in odd action choreography, but if you can look past that, the show looks pretty good most of the time. I’d say it generally looked worse in the early episodes but improved as it went, I also got a lot more used to it though, so there’s that.

Finally, the music was great! The OP and ED were both done by an idie band, alt-J. I joked on Twitter about how random geometry was used in the OP, and then the song had the lyrics, “Triangles are my favorite shape.” Which, at first, I found humorous, but as the show went on it made good thematic sense. It was a solid choice. Not to mention the animation sequence here is strong from a directional standpoint.

The ED, “In Cold Blood” was clearly picked for the binary lyrics because the rest of the song doesn’t really fit the show. However, that part is thematic and the AR sequence of real life places and the game collide is neat. It was another way to show off the game without being too in your face.

In short, I’d recommend Ingress the Animation if you are already curious about the game especially. Fans of supernatural action/mystery shows should also enjoy this one. As I said, it isn’t revolutionary, but you’ll at least have a decent time.


Have you ever played Ingress? Did you watch the show? Share your thoughts on either in the comments. If you want to support my work, you can do so via the Ko-fi button below. Thanks, as always, for reading and hope to see you back here again soon!

‘Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’ Film Review

Grade: B

Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Two decades have passed and Pokémania is still sweeping the nation. Fads come and go, but this phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down, as long as there are new creatures and worlds to expand. Its popularity only seemed to go strong with the rise of an app called ‘Pokémon Go’, causing many a lazy butt to go outside and a generation of millenials to become social, yet never have we had a live-action ‘Pokémon’ movie until now. ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ is just as fun as a movie set in this world could be; elevated by great effects and the charm of Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the electric-type creature.

Continue reading “‘Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’ Film Review”

Anime ABC’s R is for Run with the Wind

Motivation & Inspiration

Image result for run with the wind animeWhen Run with the Wind first aired back in the Fall 2018 season I almost gave it a pass without a second thought. That is, until I learned that it was based on a novel of the same title by author, Shion Miura. Why is that important? It’s important because I had watched an anime called The Great Passage which I had loved! Can you see where this is going? Yup, that’s right, it is also based on a novel by Shion Miura. I sat down and started giving it a watch only to put it on hold, the season was just TOO packed, until this series got chosen for the Anime ABC’s article series. So after the long wait, was it worth it? Continue reading “Anime ABC’s R is for Run with the Wind”

‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ Film Review

Grade: D+

John Malkovich, Haley Joel Osment, Joe Berlinger, Zac Efron, Jim Parsons, Angela Sarafyan, Kaya Scodelario, and Lily Collins in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, second to Charles Manson, committing a series of grisly murders of thirty plus women in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Florida, Colorado, and Utah. His crimes were described by Judge Edward Cowart as “Extremely wicked, shockingly evil, vile, and the product of design to inflict a high degree of pain”, and he was executed in the Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989. Though he was a despicable human being with no regard of human life, what sort of separated him from other serial killers was how charismatic he was; no other person could take on the persona of Bundy like Zac Efron, an actor with enough charisma to carry a movie, which is exactly what he does in this scatterbrained biopic based on the memoir ‘The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy’ by his former girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall (Portrayed by Lily Collins).

Continue reading “‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ Film Review”