A Spotlight on Premium Escapes
From hats that make our characters look like their hair is falling out, to a clunky interface that offers 0 consideration to controllers (just give us a cursor, ffs), Premium Escapes stand high and above everything else that makes us, as players, beg the question: Did you even F#&king TRY? Because for all I can tell, Digital Leisure's definition of the word "Premium" includes nothing about the level of quality.
Let's talk about Oceanview Resort first. Now, I don't know what sort of imagery pops into your minds upon hearing the words "ocean view", but I'm pretty sure it's a liiiiiiittle more picturesque than this:
Funny, resorts don't usually adopt the namesake of their LEAST appealing aspect. Not the honest ones, anyway... Oh well, good thing the ocean's not just for lookin' at, let's go for a swi-
There's an invisible wall a few feet beyond where that little islet begins, which baffles me as to why they chose to put it there. If they weren't going to bother adding water physics or a swimming animation, why not put the invisible wall at the waterline, like it is when you're playing Beach Comber? On the other hand, if they were going to let us get to the islet, why not let us access the entire islet?
There's a clock in the bedroom that you can interact with to cycle between day and night, which I will give them credit for. It not only changes the visual ambience, but the audio as well. So bravo to DL on the only thing they put more than the minimum amount of effort into here. Except... It only works when you use it from the side, because trying to use it from the front will put you in bed. *Cue sad trombone*
But if you really want the full "Oceanview Resort experience", you need look no further than the foyer. Where they put a charming little fish tank, and thought "Should we put some fish in the fish tank? Nah, we'll just give it some bubbles.". A perfect totem to their apparent work ethic credo of "Meh, good enough".
Lastly, Beach Comber is the ONLY reason you should ever consider buying this escape; more daily chips. You play hot-or-cold with 10 chests, one at a time, for anywhere between 100 to 500 chips a pop. It averages out to be a little less than a daily login at VIP3. While that may not seem like much compared to buying chips directly, you can collect them every day. So it's *technically* the best investment in the game... *IF* you plan to play Four Kings every day for the next few years.
There's a bug where the chests can spawn in places you can't reach. It's rare, and you can just leave & rejoin Beach Comber to get around it, so it's not that big of a deal. So why am I mentioning it? Because this bug and clock bug have been present since this escape was released in October of 2016. In the 4+ years since then, nobody at DL seems to have the inclination (or ability) to fix 2 simple, minor bugs.
Moving on now, as far as humanly possible AWAY from Oceanview (don't get too excited), to the Space Station. It has all the interactivity of Oceanview; A "game" to play, a button to push (three, in fact!), and a view to... look at.
It *is* a nice view. I think it's so pretty that I used it as the backdrop for my forum avatar. I mean, It's not "$15 pretty"... But it's pretty. I also enjoy the background noise here. The beeps & bloops over the hum of the engine has a solid Star Trek vibe to it (which is among the highest of praises I have to give, just so you know).
That, sadly, is where the endearment stops. Digital Leisure doesn't deserve a single red cent for anything else in this place, let alone $15. Hear me out, it won't sound so harsh in a few minutes.
While there's technically more to do on the Space Station, none of the things that do anything really *do* anything. You can close the shutters on the main windows, but, aside from getting a one-time reward, why would you? You can push a button to shoot some junk out into space, but, aside from another one-time reward, why would you? You can use a decontamination chamber designed by someone who doesn't understand what the purpose of a decontamination chamber is (I'll give you a hint - it's NOT to give someone a shower and send them back into the same contaminated environment they came from), but, aside from yet another one-time reward, why would you?
The game, for lack of a better word, has all the complexity of an atari shooter. Waves of debris are hurling towards the station, and it's your job to shoot it before the station gets damaged. Difficulty slowly ramps up in the form of more debis that is harder to destroy. There's also powerups to shoot at, but most of them don't last long enough to have any meaningful impact on the game. It's... Not very fun. It *could* be, if they added in a leaderboard to compete with friends or globally, or added a once-daily chip reward that scales with your score... But it's pretty safe to say those things will never be added.
Just like with Oceanview, not one single person at DL thought that maybe us paying customers deserved a higher standard of quality, and fixed any of these issues in over 4 years. In the case of the Space Station, however, it's closer to eight years. This escape - released Sept 1, 2016 - is identical to a "personal space" that Digital Leisure made for PS Home in early September of 2012. The only differences between the two are a reskin, and a window in the bedroom. Both of which strictly adhere to that previously mentioned credo.
The reskin, while admittedly an improvement, forsakes what is arguably one of the most important visual aspects of a futuristic environment - the monitors. Sure, they weren't spectacular in the PS Home version, but at least the graphics were "okay" by PS3-era standards. In the Four Kings version though, they received a significant downgrade. They're no longer animated, and the resolution is just... awful. Even by PS3 standards. This is the image quality I would expect from a AAA title on the N64. Just look at it. Look at how big this monitor is, and you can't even read it!
Then there's the window in the bedroom, which they added but never bothered to look though for all I can tell. If they had, you'd think they would have seen this:
To me, a floating room in a video game screams "unfinished". The inaccessible door at the back of the decontamination chamber amplifies this scream. Digital Leisure is charging $15 for a product they couldn't be bothered to finish in EIGHT. YEARS.
Still think I was too harsh?
In closing, "Leisure" is the perfect moniker for this company, because it accurately describes the amount of effort they spend on their products while simultaneously describing the amount of money they expect us to spend on them.
Thanks for the feedback on the Escapes. The Escapes were designed as a private location where you can hang out with friends, privately chat and even play a private poker game if you want. We also wanted to provide additional value with some mini-games and reward items to enjoy. We want the Four Kings to be a robust experience for all sorts of gamers, but to ensure everyone can have an idea of what's included, we offer everyone a full demo so they can decide for themselves if it's worth the price.
Naturally, the spaces aren't for everyone, but many enjoy what is offered. As for the bugs you've mentioned - not being able to reach a treasure chest and the pointer for the day/night cycle - we'll give those a look and get them fixed up for a future update.