Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.

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    Owlet Dream Lab review: Can a sleep coaching program help my kids?

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    By 5:41am I could already tell it’s likely to be considered a bad day, mostly because my twins took turns waking me up every 20 minutes since 3:17am. I alternate between your two babies until 5am when I’m in a position to get almost a complete half hour of rest before they wake again. Personally i think just like a dying neon sign: flickering and buzzing and wanting to function properly. I can’t focus. I’m short-tempered. I cry at the very least before lunch twice. There’s reasonable that sleep deprivation can be used as a torture technique.

    every night is really as hard as that certain was

    Not. Generally, we’ve reached an uneasy truce in my own household with regards to the kids’ naps and bedtimes. We pretty much adhere to a schedule, during the night plus they generally don’t take a lot more than a quarter-hour to drift off. But, they asleep don’t always stay, their naps are shorter than they must be probably, and I understand I’m getting them into some bad habits by rocking and cuddling them back again to sleep. We’re able to better be doing, and since i have didn’t know the place to start I made a decision to join the Dream Lab sleep coaching system.

    Dream Lab is associated with Owlet, the business which makes the Smart Sock which monitors a baby’s heart respirations and rate while asleep. The Dream Lab system originated by two pediatric sleep consultants, Spivack and Jen Waldburger jill, who’ve helped over 500,000 families establish healthy sleep patterns making use of their children. The service is software product Owlet’s, and while you can buy a code to unlock it for $100 from a number of different places, the scheduled program itself is available via the Owlet website. It includes questionnaires and assessments to see where your son or daughter is having sleep difficulties, plus instructional videos and three different training options to utilize together with your child. It’s not just a “cry it out” kind of program, but does explain a few tears through the process tend unavoidable.

    What’s sleep training?

    For individuals who are unfamiliar, sleep training may be the general idea of teaching a child to drift off by themselves without intervention from the parent or caretaker. Which means no rocking, cuddling, walking, swinging, feeding or nursing. This not merely teaches a kid how exactly to soothe themselves, but it addittionally helps them figure out how to fall back asleep if they wake in the center of the night time.

    You can find a large number of schools of thought with this – new parents will probably hear the phrase “let them cry it out” more often than once – but they’re all basically centered around obtaining a baby to sleep consistently and soundly during the night. These techniques are coupled with sleep weaning sometimes, at night to consume that is moving your son or daughter from waking. Either way, the target is for everybody to be getting ultimately more sleep.

    The Dream Lab process doing his thing

    Dream Lab by Owlet


    The initial step of the Dream Lab process would be to assess your son or daughter’s health insurance and sleep habits. This includes nine questions, including things such as “Can be your child cutting a tooth through the gum currently? “How and ” are you currently feeding your son or daughter?” When I type in the answers for my daughter, who’s both teething also to walking on her behalf own close, I’m told that might not be the right time and energy to take up a sleep training curriculum since she actually is both irritable concerning the tooth and worked up about her new skills. Fair enough.

    Although that is disappointing, as she’s the main one who requires probably the most help, it’s also entirely understandable and provides me some rely upon the process. It seems sensible that a youngster who is experiencing intermittent pain, or who’s developing new skills, would have a problem with sleep training. Dream Lab allows users of this program ahead once circumstances tend to be more conducive to success back.

    SINCE I HAVE have twins, I took an assessment for my son instead, who qualified. Another page showed a video to greatly help me understand when to start out the sleep training process. From then on, I answered another questionnaire for the “Sleep Stealer” section, which contains yet another nine questions about my kid’s sleep habits, from what he wears to sleep and what’s in his crib, to the temperature and darkness degree of the available room. The next phase was to answer another group of questions to find out which method (Visit, Stay or Touch) will be the best fit. I find yourself matching with the Stay method, that is the one I’d regardless have chosen.

    The outcomes of the Sleep Stealer questionnaire are divided into 17 suggested actions across five categories (e.g., Sleep Environment, Routines and Sleep Schedule). A few of the suggestions were for things I really do already, like developing a consistent wind-down routine of bedtime ahead. A few of the other suggestions are straightforward enough, the night time or keeping the area warmer like leaving the white noise machine on throughout. Others – say, putting my son in an area alone while he’s sleep training – aren’t practical or will be difficult to perform. The only real other room inside our house where his crib could go includes a broken window and gets much too cold, therefore i left that to-do undone.

    Despite not marking every item as complete, the website still lets me progress to another step: a number of coaching videos that provides step-by-step instructions on how best to focus on the Stay method. You can find additional videos covering topics like separation or naps anxiety, and an overview is had by each one of these you can select to learn more. Following the videos were watched by me I was taken up to my son’s Sleep Plan, which detailed an everyday schedule of when to start out a wind-down routine, of night feeds nap times and a schedule to wean him off. Each day the program carries a page for, and places for me personally to type in details when i continue what time he was devote his crib, just how long it asleep took him to fall, etc. Each day’s briefing also contains a video from the trainers to greatly help motivate me to help keep going.

    Does sleep training work?

    Dream Lab by Owlet


    EASILY were grading my kids on the progress in the Dream Lab program, I’d provide them with an A-. They’re over the age of most babies who start sleep training so that they took quickly to a whole large amount of the techniques. And following a couple of days , they visited sleep faster, with less intervention from me, and stayed longer asleep. In addition they were better to put back again to sleep if they woke up in the center of the night time.

    However, easily were grading myself on what well I did so on this program, I’d get yourself a D at best. I can’t here lie, I did so not follow this program to the letter – and the Dream Lab coaches have become specific about how exactly important it really is to fully adhere to the recommendations. A few of the places where I failed were the Sleep Stealer suggestions. Honestly, I don’t genuinely have a good spot to isolate a kid who’s sleep training so my son stayed where he normally slept: in the crib by my bed, in exactly the same room as his sister.

    Of the 17 action items in the Sleep Stealer section, I ignored three. But I also didn’t follow all the step-by-step instructions for the Stay method either. To be able to sleep train with as few tears as you possibly can, the method demands me in which to stay the room as the babies cry and sign in using them intermittently – however, not to the touch them, rock them or elsewhere assist. I there failed. I adjusted the technique somewhat, in order that my check-ins included placing them on the backs within their cribs, providing them with a pacifier and tucking them in with a blanket (one more thing which is not allowed in the program).

    While this is not at all what I was supposed to do, I tried to keep my interactions to a minimum, and it worked generally. I also reverted to briefly holding them during the night when they woke up, before putting them back off. Again, this still worked usually and was an improvement from the nights where I spent hours walking across the room holding them. So far as I could tell, we’re still making progress – albeit more slowly than we may experienced we strictly honored the program.

    While the Dream Lab system is supposed to make certain that you’re as ready for the sleep training as your child is, with a lot of energy and time to dedicate to establishing a routine and sticking to the plan, I came across it difficult to be that precise with it. Not only because I have twins, but because I work a full-time job from your home, throughout a pandemic, in a fairly remote location. My days are pure chaos, and something like a Sunday afternoon drive or a migraine do a stellar job of derailing the sort of strict routine that Dream Lab requires.


    Dream Lab by Owlet baby sleeping in crib


    There are always a million different sleep coaching systems and YouTube videos and Instagram influencers who will offer advice on ways to get your child to sleep better. Having never tried a sleep training curriculum before, and having scant time and energy to do intensive research, I would be totally willing to pay the $100 entry fee to get some direction. It helped that the machine asks specific questions ensuring this program is tailored to my children’s needs.

    That said, I had several quibbles concerning the overall process. First, I wasn’t sure just how to proceed exactly considering that I’ve twins. There’s a section on the Help Center page about multiples, but it didn’t answer all of my questions and I didn’t really want to wait one or two days for a reply from the web form. For example, imagine if my son and daughter matched with different methods? I had other questions too: Does weaning from night time feeds include the 9pm one as well as the midnight? This is maybe the one time I really would have liked to see a chat box for more immediate replies.

    Also, on more than one occasion I wished that the program was available as part of Owlet’s existing app. Because it is only available as a web page, I had to catch through to my entries for every day’s activity – particularly on the weekend, when I open my computer rarely. I also had to refresh the page often since it had timed out, and on at least one occasion, I had to sign in again. It’s not the biggest issue, obviously, but given that Owlet’s other products can all be grouped in the app, it could have been nice to have this one there too.

    As to whether or not you should try Dream Lab’s sleep system, I’ll let you know that just like a large amount of coaching programs, you’re only going to get out of it what you devote. But I’m not disappointed by the experience, and I’m going to continue to use it with my twins because I’ve seen really excellent results. Having my children drift off easier, and stay longer asleep, has been really worth the price of the program already. I’m just going to adjust their time table to one that’s a bit more achievable for my house hold right now.

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