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Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Review

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It is rare that a console-exclusive franchise broadens its scope and expands to other platforms. When it does happen though, it is a joyful inclusion, especially when it is something as delightful as a sequel to the highly acclaimed PlayStation 3 JRPG, Ni no Kuni, from Level 5.

Revenant Kingdom brought Microsoft Windows gamers to its Sony family, and continues the Studio Ghibli charm, albeit with a smaller level of collaboration with the universally-recognized anime studio. Regardless, ex-Ghibli employee Yoshiyuki Momose returned as character designer, with music composer Joe Hisaishi bringing the game’s lovely score to life, both legends in their own rights to Ghibli fanatics.

A Deposed King

Revenant Kingdom follows the story of a young king called Evan and his quest to construct himself a new throne and kingdom, the former which was violently taken from him, the successor one which you will provide a central role in establishing.

Evan is joined by the most unlikely of sidekicks, coming from the least likely location and position you would expect to see in a game about anthropomorphic cats, mice, and dogs. Along the way, your band of heroes will expand, as some very sweet yet capable individuals form a motley king’s guard.

Expanding on Greatness

Revenant Kingdom is a title which brings much in the way of added gameplay avenues to make the most out of, providing a highly varied and continually refreshing experience.

Beyond the usual hack and slash combat, which we have seen in plenty of other games, Ni no Kuni II provides the player with an epic ‘Skirmish’ mode. Here, players will lead Evan and his troops into the cartoony fray in a real-time strategic battle involving dozens of units, and a fair amount of tactical decision-making.

Actually raising your kingdom, however, takes place in a building platform quite similar to Level 5’s classic Dark Cloud on the PlayStation 2, and brings a tranquil and satisfying balance to vanquishing bad guys with swords and spells.

It is always awesome to see a game trying to hard to introduce novel elements to its mechanics, and one can see that the developers put much thought into the gameplay additions seen in Revenant Kingdom.

Dazzling Combat

That is not to say that the action in Ni no Kuni II ever becomes mundane. Traversing through the game’s wonderful host of beautifully painted and animated areas brings a comprehensively attractive and charming odyssey to the PC and PlayStation 4.

The actual battles themselves, while perhaps far too easy for more experienced RPG fanatics, emulate something close to The Witcher III with more allies on-screen, bringing a satisfying combination of swordplay and spell-weaving.

It’s a very vibrant and smooth visual experience, as technically streamlined as a Ghibli film, all manner of colorful monsters and shimmering effects exploding all about you as you lead your team of warriors against all manner of cute yet vicious monsters.

Infinite Intrigue

In order to make a successful RPG, you obviously need to cram it full of as many characters, monsters, dungeons, and storyline as possible. Keeping up with the latest masterpieces in the genre like Skyrim and The Witcher III is no small undertaking.

Revenant Kingdom succeeds in bringing a more peaceful and child-friendly RPG experience, that is loaded with its own flavor of magic. While not as dense in its lore or mechanics as the more hardcore dungeon-crawlers, the game is more than involving for anyone of any age.

One thing which I love to see in a game is a wide variety of monsters and other types of enemies to fight in a game, and love that Revenant Kingdom brings together some very colorful bands of creeps to smash to your heart’s content.

Conclusion

Even if you dislike the seeming lack of challenge there is in the game, you cannot deny its highly detailed appeal. It is indeed a bafflingly good-looking game, bringing the perfect blend of 3D and animation to make a pleasing aesthetic.

If a challenge is an absolute necessity for you, then Revenant Kingdom is not your cup of tea. If you do not mind a more relaxing pace, and enjoy the less violent kinds of RPGs, free of dismemberment and medieval raucousness, then this title is perfect for you.

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Blockchain

Top Blockchain Applications Making Waves in Commercial Real Estate

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Top Blockchain Applications Making Waves in Commercial Real Estate

The commercial real estate (CRE) industry is comprised of many different types of service providers, including property management, brokerage firms, banks, and other types of lenders. When a CRE transaction takes place, there are various operators involved, requiring extensive sharing of official property documents, and financial information which need to be validated. The requirements for validating all information across all parties slows down the speed of each transaction, which can take weeks and months to complete. Many CRE firms have turned to blockchain to speed up execution times, decrease error and increase transparency in each transaction.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain technology is a way to store and transfer information in an encrypted manner by distributing data instead of copying it in a central location. Blockchain does so through a cloud, peer-to-peer network that eliminates the need for a third party, which ultimately reduces transaction fees. A digital ledger is then created and updated with each financial transaction in blocks.

There are plenty of benefits to making transactions and transferring data using blockchain as the technology is not controlled by one central entity, such as a central bank. This means that breaching these blocks is extremely difficult, maintaining the sanctity and transparency of its transactions and data.

Blockchain is the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which offer speedy and low-cost ways of sending and receiving money.

Faster Transactions

One of the most exciting ways blockchain is disrupting the CRE world is in the form of smart contracts. The industry currently relies on an inefficient system of old-school verification of property ownership by conducting research to ensure the property belongs to the party who is selling it.

Blockchain can reduce the speed in which the chain of custody regarding CRE properties takes place as a property’s title would be stored on a public ledger. This would remove the need for another central repository, thus reducing transaction, state, city and legal costs. The same principle would apply for leases that would be recorded via blockchain.

More Transparent Deals

Blockchain can also ensure that real estates assets are more liquid and the terms of the agreement are fully understood by both sides as every piece of data regarding a property would be stored publicly. This includes data surrounding former owners, construction done on the property, past maintenance costs and records regarding former inspections.

Having all this information available would give the investor a more comprehensive idea of the property they are investing in. Blockchain essentially ensures that everyone is on the same page and both sides are fully aware of what they’re getting into as every piece of information is out there for anyone to access.

Digital Paper Trail

Another challenge with the CRE industry is the fact that public records can be outdated, unreliable or not available. Following a property’s paper trail can be time-consuming and frustrating as a lot of this information is lost due to poor organizational skills from industry workers and legacy systems that lose data when updated.

With blockchain, every piece of information on a property would be available in the same place rather than in multiple physical and digital domains. Blockchain would also help to eliminate the type of fraud that sometimes exists in the industry as deeds and titles can be counterfeited easily.

Buying Property With Cryptocurrencies

As previously mentioned, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that relies on blockchain to complete financial transactions online in a matter of seconds. Some investors and real estate firms have started adding Bitcoin to the industry, including Ivan Pacheco, who bought a two-bedroom condominium in Florida for $275,000 in Bitcoin.

In the residential space, you can buy a condo on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Bitcoin. Meanwhile, some apartments in New York City are allowing their tenants to pay for rent using Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies have been historically volatile and they’ve been on the decline since peaking in December 2017, but some investors believe that the future of real estate will be closely tied with Bitcoin and other digital coins.

Nevertheless, blockchain’s role in the CRE industry is becoming more prevalent each day. The technology’s potential to speed up transactions with smart contracts, its ability to add transparency to a deed or title and the fact that it dramatically decreases the chance for fraud suggest that more investors will flock towards firms that use blockchain for CRE transactions.

 

This article first appeared on RealAtom.

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Business

5 Tips to Help You Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

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Content is King

High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online. – Kristina Halvorson

The age-old adage: “Content is King” is more relevant in the global digital media marketing world that it has ever been before. Statistics generated by Newscred.com show the following:

  • 71% of consumers are turned away from a brand by direct sales pitches.
  • 40% of consumers prefer emails that are content-rich and not promotional.
  • 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising.
  • 2017 statistics show that 615 million mobile devices have installed adblocker technology.
  • 2017 statistics show that 84% of people expect brands to create content.

It should be noted at this juncture that we are talking about high-quality, informative, authoritative content. Publishing run-of-the-mill spun content is counterproductive and can harm your brand’s reputation as a leader in its field.

Finally, 2016 studies have shown that circa 75% of brand marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets to allocate a more significant slice of their overall marketing budgets to content strategy and content marketing.

Implementing a content strategy

From the figures mentioned above, we can see that designing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a vital part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. And it should not be avoided or downgraded to a very low priority. Therefore, here are five tips to help you with your content strategy:

Work with a reputable agency

It is vital to partner with a digital marketing agency that has years of experience writing high-quality, informative content. Additionally, it’s a good idea for this agency to keep up to date with the changes to Google’s ranking search engine algorithms to ensure that their clients’ brands continue to rank up in the top three to five brands on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Identify your brand’s target audience

Let us assume for this article that you own a business that designs and manufactures Merino wool jackets for the athleisure and casual outdoor market. It is vital to describe each persona-type that will be interested in purchasing this jacket. For example, someone that is interested in only wearing high fashion and is not interested in spending time outdoors hiking is probably not going to wear this jacket. Therefore, there will be very little ROI if you market your brand to this persona.

Identify the type of content that will add value to your brand

Different content types suit different brands. It depends both on the brand’s products and the target audience. Once again, if we look at our Merino wool jacket, we can see that the following content types are suitable:

  • Instagram and Pinterest posts with high-quality photos showing how the jacket can be worn.
  • Long-form articles that are related to the jacket and how to care for the jacket.
  • Informative emails that provide links to the long-form articles as well as links to new products.

Consistency is critical

Consistency is a cornerstone of all content marketing strategies. Regular content gets ranked higher on Google (or other search engines) because of its consistency. It does not matter what the time frame of each post is. What matters is that if the content strategy states that a guest blog post will be published three times a week, the brand marketer must stick to the plan. On the other hand, brands that do not post regular content do not keep on “reminding” Google that they are essential, and they add value to their target audience’s lives.

Content builds trust

High-authority, informative content builds trust. For example, let us go back to our Merino wool jackets. It is natural to assume that the brand’s target audience will ask what temperature can the jacket be worn at, whether the jacket is waterproof or not, how to wash the jacket, and how should the jacket be stored when not in use.

The best way to answer these valid questions is, not only to add this information (in bullet point form) to the jacket’s description but to write and publish an informative article on the value of a Merino wool jacket and how to care for it. As a result, the brand’s target audience will see the brand owners as knowledgeable. Additionally, they will assume that the brand cares about its customers.

Final words

This article does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to the mastery of content strategy. For more information, talk to Firecrab Digital Media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Business

The Purpose of Business Intelligence and Big Data in Enterprises

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Data Science

Enterprises collect an unprecedented volume of data about their consumers, sales, and products. In most scenarios, these rows of information move very fast, are too big, or they surpass the processing capacity of the existing technology applications in the organization. But with Big Data and Business Intelligence, enterprises get to enhance operations, their profit margins and also make quicker, more brilliant business decisions.

The retail market has been trading on its gut instinct for years. But now, they’re recognizing the importance of capturing data around their strategic business activities. The ability of businesses to back their decisions up with evidence of things that might work is essential.

BI and Big Data analytics have revolutionized a myriad of industries, with the retail sector being the biggest beneficiary. Big players like Walmart and Amazon leverage BI and Big data analytics to enhance their retail performance. However, these benefits aren’t limited to full-blown companies alone, medium and small businesses can also realize great value in integrating the systems into their operations.

The advantage that comes with the ability to process significant volumes of data is the main attraction of business intelligence and big data analytics.

Here’s how enterprises can turn BI and Big data into a business advantage.

Sales analysis

In retail business – supermarkets, department stores, and e-tailers – transaction histories and sales receipts can produce incredible volumes of data depending on the business size. These rows of information present a massive opportunity for business to analyze their sales. However, valuable insights are not based on volume alone.

Integrating a successful business intelligence solution can assist retail organizations to pull out essential information from a chunk of data, by addressing the question at hand. It gives definite answers to question like how much of a product is being sold and the type of client that’s buying the product as well as the store or outlet that sold the product, and the specific time.

These are critical answers that retail businesses need to improve their decision-making process. The trends in the data showcase the strengths, weakness, and opportunities for the company. For instance, one can know when they make the most sales and the time. This way, they ensure that that particular store has enough commodities to meet the demands. The data also points out areas that perform poorly, allowing the enterprises to make drastic decisions to rectify the problem and identify potential opportunities.

That said, the real value of BI or Big Data isn’t just based on the ability to address the questions on an individual basis; it comes with the ability to converge data from multiple systems and sources so that users can gain more insight from the available information.

Inventory analysis

Like never before, Big Data and Business Intelligence are helping to merge business systems in retail stores to enhance operational efficiency while providing higher profits. BI and big data allow operations managers to have a detailed summary of the operations, so they can eliminate any bottlenecks and enhance efficiency.

The access to real-time information also enables finance managers to take care of traditionally narrow margins of profit with greater context to make sure they enjoy maximum gains from investment into inventory.

And since all these processes happen on the cloud as opposed to the traditional books and hard drives, there’s a reduction in hardware and maintenance costs. Enterprises can also integrate cloud into the current systems with less expense.

Consumer analysis

Knowing who the most profitable consumers are is a crucial concept in retail business intelligence and Big Data. The sales analysis allows businesses to increase their profits margin by understanding who their most loyal consumers are and strategizing on ways to keep them on board. The realization also lets enterprises define a unique opportunity around insight creation.

Having access to real-time consumer demand pattern information allows enterprises to match their inventory to their orders accurately, which results in customer satisfaction.  Consumer analysis can also help predict seasonal spikes, trends, and depression. This way, retailers can always avail the right inventory levels to match their demands.

Besides, the cost incurred in finding and acquiring new clients is far much expensive than the cost of maintaining the existing ones. So it’s more realistic for retailers to pay attention to what the data is saying concerning these individuals.

Consumer analytics, as part of BI and Big Data, can be leveraged to create and maintain loyalty programs aimed at pleasing these customers. This plan is sure to increase the consumer retention rate and also result in more business through referral of happy and contended buyers.

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