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Marcus Estrada

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About Marcus Estrada

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  1. It might be hard to recall, but there was a time when a program by the name of Steam was detested by gamers. Alongside Valve’s release of Half-Life 2 was a new requirement that players needed Steam in order to access the title. However, the software barely had any functionality at all and was prone to crashing. This was in 2004. Today, invoking Steam’s name results in a very different opinion. Many gamers flock to Steam as their number one choice for purchasing digital PC games. In fact, there are many out there who go so far as to state they won’t buy a game until it has come to Steam. Yes, you can add your own game files to the program and launch through it, but that isn’t the same. There’s something to actually owning a game on Steam and increasing that collection amount. Of course, then there’s the much-loved Steam holiday sales which through copious deals around day after day, some of which price games at incredible discounts. Valve has had a very good last few years thanks to Steam. But it seems like it might soon begin to fall out of favor with its massive user base. A handful of policy changes have been rolling out over the past few years which are now becoming a large portion of the store. These include the Steam Greenlight and Early Access initiatives. Both seek to allow more titles onto the service without having to go through Valve’s slower and one at a time approach of the past. But shouldn’t more games being made available be purely positive? Yes, it is exciting that any game has the chance at Greenlight success. However, there are many issues with the program (that Valve itself acknowledges). As long as Greenlight stays as is, however, these issues will remain as sticking points. One of the biggest issues is the fact that it ends up being a popularity contest. Games that best know how to market themselves, have an existing fanbase, are able to bribe users, or happen to be from a popular genre (horror) always take the lead. Well, the point of Greenlight is to let the players choose, isn’t it? The main problem with that is the majority audience is simply unaware of what they’re voting for in droves. Sometimes it’s obvious, such as a well-known mobile game or indie success outside of Steam. Then there are other games that provide gorgeous screenshots or cool concepts that get voted up into being Greelit quickly. And then they come out and… it’s not pretty. Many Greenlight games are excellent and add a much needed facet of the Steam Store. However, there are other games that are absolutely broken or horrendous in other ways that make it through. Managing to fool players is rewarded and Steam isn’t able to say no. After all, they can’t exercise quality control as that goes against the rules of Greenlight. While this is a great positive for small games that otherwise would never get past Valve, but also lets in drivel. Without mentioning names, I have already wandered into many Steam Communities to see players distressed, annoyed, or rightly angry at developers for not fixing their clearly broken titles. There were some questionable games on Steam before, but at a lesser amount than there are now. Alongside this trend is the Early Access program. Steam devised it as a way to get currently in development games onto the store. By doing so, the developers may speak more directly with fans, gauging their desires as well as getting reports on glitches. At its core, it is a very helpful service for developers and a neat way for players to feel like they’re helping shape a product. What could go wrong? So far, very few games have made it out of Early Access so it’s hard to tell where this will lead, but right now there’s a lot of trouble. Some developers seem keen on squashing any criticism on their respective Steam Community, completely voiding the point of being on Early Access. Others have in the past asked for egregious amounts of money. There’s no guarantee that these games will even ever reach a finished state. As no one has outright stated they quit development, we can’t tell how Valve will or will not choose to reprimand them. Some games are progressing nicely, while others appear to have gone live at super early states and not gotten far since. On one hand, it is an exciting prospect that Steam will eventually be a very “open” storefront. However, thanks to many poor quality games arriving, users are becoming more cautious with their purchases. Getting burned by a purchase once might not deter a user, but after a few stinkers who knows? Steam’s audience is vast and has been built up by the promise of good games at (often) great prices. With an increasing amount of broken projects though it is aiming to hurt that image which took so long to build up. Will as many users purchase Steam titles because they simply like the synopsis, concept, or selected screenshots? It seems this will not be as frequent as it has been so far. Then again, what can be done about it? The concept of Steam being open to all developers is fantastic but proves to be much harder to manage in reality. We’ll have to see how everything continues to evolve. We’ll also have to see whether the current diehard Steam users will continue to lavish blind affection onto Valve. As a user, be sure to do your homework before buying any new games on Steam. For all the great new releases coming out, there are always going to be a handful that don’t deserve your money.
  2. Review: White Night

    Developer: OSome Studio Publisher: Activision Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One Release Date: March 3, 2015 ESRB: M for Mature As the phenomenon that is “indie games” continues to grow in the video game landscape it only makes sense that some big name companies have begun publishing more unique titles from small development teams. This March Activision of all people brought OSome Studio’s noir horror adventure White Night to PC as well as modern consoles. In the past, chances are this visually-arresting title would have not received such a wide reach. In any case, now that the game is out there, is it worth playing? Is there more than simply a gorgeous exterior? Well, before we get around to answering that question let’s first explore the basics of White Night. The start is compelling - you control a character who has just survived a car crash. With no knowledge of where you are, or even who you are, the player experiences the same sort of confusion as our protagonist. As he hobbles from the wreck, gameplay features are simply explained. You can look at objects, interact with some items, and listen to a bit of mumblings from the protagonist. There are also journal entries from multiple characters spread about liberally throughout to provide backstory. Point and click adventure gameplay permeates the entire experience. Yes, you actually move the character directly like in a Telltale game, but beyond that it’s a very slow, deliberate experience. There are puzzles to solve, items to manipulate, and loads of exposition. All of that is pretty typical, but you’ll also find action segments. After all, this is a modern horror game… Basically, ghosts permeate the manor you discover and are trapped within. If they spy you then they’ll float angrily toward you. Get touched by one and it’s game over! There are auto saves, as well as the ability to save your progress too (although that is tied to specific areas - literally sitting on couches - within the building). So, ghosts have the potential to be frustrating, but it could certainly be worse. Another classic, and a much maligned, horror trope is limited supply of important items. White Night’s necessary commodity comes in the form of matches. Of course it would be too convenient for this big old house to be brightly lit in the middle of the night! Matches light the way during a large percentage of exploration and run down after a while (or must be put out in order to operate two-handed items). You’ll find more scattered around, but careful exploration means you’ll likely run out more often than you’d like. Given the game’s stark black and white art style it’s nearly impossible to explore in pitch black locations otherwise. Then there’s the story which is forced upon players at every instance. It’s not all that interesting. Sure, it’s cool to see a period piece (set around the Great Depression) but the aspect doesn’t actually play into much. It feels more like window dressing when the core story could have easily be pushed into any timeframe. There are multiple endings, but the big reveal is pretty easy to guess beforehand. My biggest disappointment is with the writing which, at times, felt incredibly steeped in noir sensibilities. Yet, for every cool line there were multiple which sounded super odd. It’s almost as though two folks wrote the game (with no attempt to smooth them together for cohensions’ sake) or that an editor only looked over portions of text. Despite annoyances as far as matchsticks, ghosts, and story are concerned, there’s still one aspect of White Night that exceeds 150%: Visuals! The game looks awesome with its stark art and distinct camera angles. Some of the more extreme camera angles cause issues as far as depth perception are concerned but damn they look good! It would have been cool to see every single room given equal stylized care, but that might have resulted in a more confusing play experience. What we have with White Night is a game that is all style and some substance. Gameplay as far as puzzles are concerned works just fine. There just so happen to be some annoying aspects of classic horror games included. Sure, some can argue things like limited inventory, iffy control, and rote storytelling as integral to a truly classic horror experience, but modern games have shown new ways to achieve the same fearful effects. White Night deserves appreciation for the obvious effort put in, but five hours might be better spent with any number of excellent horror titles. Pros: + Lovingly stylized black and white noir atmosphere + Variety of puzzles to solve, most of which are logical + Large, creepy home to explore Cons: - Matches and saving system are more annoying than tension-raising - Cool camera sometimes leads to control issues - Ghosts are totally unfair at times Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent If White Night’s gameplay was as stunning as the visuals then this would have been a home run for horror fans. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher
  3. Review: Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure

    Developer: Nihon Falcom Publisher: Mastiff Platform: PC (Steam, GOG) Release Date: March 30, 2015 ESRB: E10+ Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is the kind of game that is easily thrown by the wayside. When it launched in the US on PSP in 2007, well, the existing interest in the platform wasn’t exactly booming. Many unique titles failed to make a splash and Gurumin was one of them. Now it’s being given a second chance via a digital PC release on Steam and GOG. I’ll admit to having never played the game on PSP, but now I wish I really had. As it turns out, the game is 100% classifiable as a “hidden gem” which is finally getting its much-deserved chance in the spotlight. So, what the heck is Gurumin? The game stars a young girl named Parin who has just moved in with her heavily-bearded grandfather. Unfortunately, this town is completely deprived of children! What the heck is Parin supposed to do with her time? Well, luckily for her she just so happens to discover that a group of monsters live right outside of town. Because adults cannot see them, she is totally free to goof around with her new buddies. This excitement is short-lived, though, when the monster village is decimated by other, crueler monsters known as Phantoms shortly after their meeting. Parin takes arms against them with an ancient monster weapon—a drill. From there, players must adventure through tons of levels to defeat Phantoms and collect items stolen from her monster buddies. Gameplay feels pretty standard with its 3D action-platforming style. After selecting an area from a world map, you enter into a level—drill in hand—and beat up basically anything in your path. Alongside Phantoms, this also includes rocks, pillars, and walls which tend to crumble under the drill’s power. Breaking stuff yields coins and sometimes even unveils secret items or areas. Basically, you want to cause as much damage as possible on every stage, but it’s not that hard to do. Phantoms start off pretty easy but after a while you’ll definitely want to upgrade weapons and items for an easier time. After the first few hours with Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure you’ll also settle into the basic pattern of gameplay. You’ll visit a level, complete it to collect an item at the end, bring the item to the monsters, and then see a new area unlock. Sometimes more puzzling elements are added in, but for the most part the same pattern repeats itself throughout much of the game. It’s not a bad thing, as the gameplay is enjoyable, just that it might feel a little too obvious at times. There are boss battles thrown in between as well as story segments which help keep things fresh. And really, it’s that storyline which turns the game from simply an enjoyable action-based time into something truly special. You see, despite (or because of) having played so many games over my lifetime, it’s rare to find one that feels endearing and honest. Gurumin provides a wonderfully adorable world with goofy monsters peppered throughout. All of Parin’s friends are unusual, such as a gigantic cat who has a deep voice and shy demeanor. Then there is a fellow who dances continuously for no apparent reason. Every single character is charming in their own strange ways and these quirks help the game stand out against its contemporaries. Even now, the humor still (mostly) hits as cutely irreverent. After hours of play there were just a few facets which caused caused annoyance. The biggest is the default camera’s problem following Parin in an intelligent fashion. Of course, you can manipulate it on your own to fix its issues. The controls display for PC keyboard users, but unfortunately don’t change if you swap to gamepad controls. Because control instructions sometimes focus on “mouse cursor” location, though, it becomes slightly confusing to figure out how exactly to pull a special move off via controller. In all, these complaints are minimal and pale in comparison to the pure joy of playing. It’s rare for a game to provide such a simple, wonderful experience like Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure. Many 3D games in general tend to age poorly, but this one still manages to be a highly enjoyable experience. Without the charming storyline and cast, it probably wouldn’t work so well, but their inclusion makes it stand out. If you missed out (like many of us did) on the PSP release back in the day, then make up for it by grabbing the PC release now. Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a wonderful title which deserves all the attention it can get. Pros: + Adorably weird cast of characters + Mostly simple, enjoyable action and platformer gameplay + Bright, cartoony world that is fun to explore Cons: - Default camera movement is iffy - Button prompts aren’t tailored for gamepad players Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic It's rare for a game to provide such an overwhelmingly charming experience as Gurumin. More players simply must give it a try! Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
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  5. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of March 27th

    Another week, another overwhelming batch of bundles, right? Wrong! This week proves perhaps the smallest sum of new bundles in a good long while. It's almost like the times before zillions of sites took Humble Bundle's initiative and ran with it. In any case, here's the selection of game bundles that launched this week. Bundle Stars All Stars Bundle Price: $2.99 Deponia (Steam) Magicka (Steam) Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword (Steam) Prime World: Defenders (Steam) S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (Steam) System Shock 2 (Steam) To the Moon (Steam) Tropico 4 Steam Special Edition (Steam) Groupees Be Mine 18 Price: $1 The Barbarian Fabula Mortis (Steam) Nicolas Eymerich The Inquisitor Book II: The Village Price: $4 Aaru's Awakening (Steam) The Forest of Doom (Steam) Relica Online RPG Run or Die (Steam) Groupees Who's Gaming Now?! The Drastik Measure Price: Varies A Family of Grave Diggers Call of Tomsk-7 (Desura) Chowderchu (Desura) Into the Dark: Ultimate Trash Edition (Steam) LowcoBall Soul Gambler: Dark Arts Edition (Steam) Volt (Steam) Warriors & Castles (Desura) Waste Walkers Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle 1st Anniversary Price: $2.99 Banzai Pecan: The Last Hope for the Young Century (Steam) Crimzon Clover World Ignition (Steam) Freedom Planet (Steam) Sword of Asumi (Steam) Train of Afterlife (Steam) Vanguard Princess + 2 DLC (Steam) Indie Royale The Venetian Bundle Price: $2.79 Camera Obscura (Steam, Desura) Chainsaw Warrior (Steam, Desura) Greyfox (Steam) InnerCube (Steam) Super Chain Crusher Horizon (Steam, Desura) Top Hat (Steam)
  6. Review: La-Mulana EX

    Developer: Pygmy Studio Publisher: Rising Star Games Platform: PS Vita (PSN) Release Date: March 3, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen It was nearly a decade ago when La-Mulana first launched on PC. Since then, 2D pixelated titles have really come into their own. No longer simply trips down memory lane, many games feature retro aesthetics along with compelling new twists on classic gameplay—or are much harder than ever before. In the span of time since La-Mulana’s arrival and now, trends have also pushed toward roguelike action experiences ala Spelunky and Rogue Legacy. On its face, this title may seem similar to both these properties (and in particular, Spelunky with its hat-wearing, whip-equipped explorer) but don’t be fooled! La-Mulana EX thrives on difficulty in some very different ways. The story of La-Mulana is simple, but effective. You are a wily explorer by the name of Lemeza Kosugi (an Indiana Jones-like) who sets out to explore the ruins named, well, "La-Mulana." Inside the ruins are many dangerous areas, monsters, traps, and tons of puzzles and secrets. Your task is to uncover a whole host of secrets by solving ancient puzzles, but doing so is much harder than it might first appear. Unlike so many games which would offer really flimsy puzzle concepts, this one tends to require careful thought (and action). Before you can even really get started exploring you need to stock up on supplies. This is just one example of its difficulty. Sure, the digital manual provides some strong tips as to what to do first, but in-game you’re basically free to wander about. Heck, you can encounter a massive boss in the first few minutes if you are super exploration-minded, but you’ll die trying to harm it! In a similar vein, you’ll accomplish very little without first buying a few choice items from shopkeepers. These allow you to read and translate ancient text scattered about the ruins. Read everything. Practically every bit of information you’ll come across offers hints ranging from fairly obvious to super obscure. A skillful puzzle-solving mind isn’t all one requires to succeed at La-Mulana EX. Lemeza must also be gracefully guided throughout his explorations to stay alive. See something that looks a bit off? Be careful as it’s almost certainly a trap. Try and get accustomed to the feel and duration of jumps as there’s minimal air control. This often leads to overshooting a platform and falling in some place you really don’t want to be. Of course, becoming skilled at butt-kicking via weapons is another needed skill. Become a well-rounded explorer and the experience will be a tad easier, but even so there’s all those puzzles to obsess over. Seriously though, don’t ignore the possibility of checking a guide as this title isn’t holding back in the least. High difficulty in a non-platforming/action gameplay component might turn off some potential players, unfortunately. There are some exclusive new features in La-Mulana EX to presumably entice existing fans to pick up the Vita version. This includes a Monster Bestiary which updates whenever you encounter a monster for the first time. It provides monster details as well as a bit of artwork. While cute, it’s not particularly game changing. The best tweaks are in regards to making the game slightly more accommodating to new players. Some puzzles have been modified and there’s a teensy bit more handholding to get players prepped. That’s all, though, so really it still doesn’t matter much where you go to get your La-Mulana fix. La-Mulana EX is not the first time the game has landed on a console, but it is the first time Sony platform owners can get a crack at it. For whatever reason, the game is currently exclusive to Vita, with no PS4 release in the works. But hey, the game is confirmed to play via PlayStation TV! My biggest gripe with the game is its tiny screen. The Vita has a lovely little widescreen view, but this title runs in 4:3 with borders on both sides. Lemeza’s already a small dude exploring vast locations and shrinking down the screen further makes it even more of a strain for players’ eyes. As such, it’s definitely suggested to play via PS TV if you’re fortunate enough to own one. At its core, La-Mulana EX is still the same ‘ol excellent game that launched back in 2005. However, the push to a mobile platform has done more harm than good by forcing folks to play via a miniscule window. As long as you can handle that, then you’ll have some heavy exploration and puzzle solving to look forward to. And seriously, don’t be afraid to check out guides or other resources every so often as this journey is fraught with peril. Pros: + Same core La-Mulana experience that fans originally fell in love with + Tons of terrific puzzles and traps to work through + A wide set of locations within the ruins to explore Cons: - Little pixelated player and enemies have been transformed into even tinier versions - Unexpectedly challenging for players expecting a more action-oriented platformer - Minimal additions don’t really call for an “EX” label Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good It's hard to deny the appeal of La-Mulana, but EX doesn't add much for existing fans and new players might feel their eyes tire out after playing for a while. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher
  7. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of March 20th

    Last week was a pretty lonesome one for bundle devotees - but apparently that was just a little lull. This week we've got multiple selections from Humble Bundle, Bundle Stars, and Indie Gala as well as the other typical sites. There are some new games in the mix as well, although some very common bundle titles are still being passed around. As usual, games that have my personal recommendation are highlighted in green. Feel free to suggest your own top titles in the comments, or let us know which you bought! Bundle Bandits Steam Bandits #3 Price: $2 Bionic Dues (Steam) Dungeons: Eye of the Draconus (Steam) Small Town Terrors: Pilgrim's Hook (Steam) Why So Evil (Steam) Bundle Stars Ship Simulator Extremes Bundle Price: $3.49 Ship Simulator Extremes (Steam) + Bunch of DLC Bundle Stars Hearts of Iron III Bundle Price: $4.99 Heart of Iron III (Steam) + Bunch of DLC Bundle Stars Victoria Complete Bundle Price: $4.99 Victoria Complete (Steam) Victoria 2 (Steam) + Bunch of DLC Bundle Stars The Zen Bundle Price: $2.49 Bientôt l'été (Steam) Danmaku Unlimited 2 (Steam) Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes (Steam) The Graveyard (Steam) Luxuria Superbia (Steam) Mountain (Steam) Over the Void (Steam) Particula (Steam) Pretentious Game (Steam) Sparkle 2 Evo (Steam) Daily Indie Game Desura Bundle 3 Price: $0.99 Atonement: Scourge of Time (Desura) DarkBase 01 (Desura) It's time to get out from the solar system (Desura) Led It Rain (Desura) Pester (Desura) Smash Cat (Desura) Groupees Build a Greenlight 21 Bundle Price: Varies Alpha Version.0 Broken Bots Cloud Knights (Desura) Descending Grave Prosperity: Redux - Part 1 (Desura) Hypt (Desura) Orbital Cargo S.O.R.S. StartBolita Humble PC & Android Bundle 12 Price: $1 The Inner World (Steam) Tetrobot and Co. (Steam) Titan Attacks! (Steam) VVVVVV (Steam) Price: Beat the average Costume Quest (Steam) Ironclad Tactics (Steam) Bonus games Price: $10 Shadowrun Returns (Steam) Humble Weekly Bundle Roguelikes 2 Price: $1 A Wizard's Lair (Steam) The Nightmare Cooperative (Steam) Vertical Drop Heroes HD (Steam) Price: Beat the average Delver (Steam) Road Not Taken (Steam) Price: $8 Heavy Bullets (Steam) Indie Ammo Box Fighting Season Bundle Price: $1 Battleplan: American Civil War (Steam) DarkEnd (Steam) Gunspell: Steam Edition (Steam) Z (Steam) Price: $5 Blackbay Asylum (Steam) iO (Steam) Space Farmers (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $3.49 Aveyond Gates of Night (Steam) Cold Contract (Steam) Darkstone (Steam) Deadly Sin 2 (Steam) Labyrinthine Dreams (Steam) Legend of Candlewind (Steam) Quest of Dungeons (Steam) Tomb of Tyrants (Steam) Indie Gala Hump Day Bundle Price: $1 Gun Monkeys (Steam) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0 (Steam) Tycoon City: New York (Steam) Price: $4.29 7th Legion (Steam) Ancient Planet (Steam) Cubicle Quest (Steam) Fatty Maze's Adventures (Steam) Garden Rescue (Steam) Odysseus Long Way Home (Steam) Sometimes (Steam) The UnderGarden (Steam) The World Named Fred (Steam) Indie Gala Spring Rush Bundle Price: $1 Deep Dungeons of Doom (Steam) The Joylancer: Legendary Motor Knight (Steam) Paranautical Activity (Steam) Price: $3.89 BlazeRush (Steam) Down to One (Steam) Last Knight: Rogue Rider Edition (Steam) Motorama (Steam) The Old City Leviathan (Steam) Surgeon Simulator 2013 (Steam) Indie Royale The Mixer 17 Bundle Price: $2.49 Air Guardians (Steam, Desura) The Blue Flamingo (Steam) Critical Mass (Steam, Desura) Lantern Forge (Steam, Desura) Memories of a Vagabond (Steam, Desura) Ocean City Racing (Steam, Desura) Party of Sin (Steam, Desura) Postmortem: One Must Die (Steam, Desura) Streets of Chaos (Steam, Desura) Zombie Solitaire (Steam)
  8. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of March 13th

    Happy Friday the 13th! Looking for some new games to play around with? Well, as with every week, if you're a PC gamer then you're totally in luck as many new bundles launched. As with last week, they're slowing a fair bit. Have bundles finally begun to wear out their welcome - or is this just an odd lull period? Heck, there's not even a Humble Weekly Bundle for the first time in weeks! Bundle Stars Crimson Bundle Price: $2.99 Antisquad (Steam) Blue Flamingo, The (Steam) Crimsonland (Steam) Frederic: Evil Strikes Back (Steam) Frederic: Resurrection of Music (Steam) Hero of the Kingdom (Steam) inMomentum (Steam) Urja (Steam) Violett (Steam) War in a Box: Paper Tanks (Steam) Bundle Stars F1 Race Stars Bundle Price: $4.99 F1 Race Stars + 13 DLC Groupees Kiss Bundle 5 Price: $1 Gold Rush! Classic (Steam) Gunspell - Steam Edition (Steam) Price: $3 Dark End (Steam) Fist of Jesus (Steam) Z (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $3.49 Air Guardians (Steam) Borealis (Steam) But to Paint a Universe (Steam) Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure (Steam) Monomino (Steam) One Night (Steam) Redux Dark Matters (Steam) Talisman Digital Edition (Steam) Indie Gala Friday Special Bundle Price: $1 Orc Attack (Steam) Streets of Chaos (Steam) Price: $2.99 HyperRogue (Steam) Leona's Tricky Adventures (Steam) Majestic Nights (Steam) Phoenix Force (Steam) Proxy Blade Zero (Steam) Pushcat (Steam) Samurai_jazz (Steam) Shelter (Steam) Ski-World Simulator (Steam) Snowcat Simulator (Steam) Indie Royale The Mixer 16 Bundle Price: $2.47 99 Levels to Hell (Steam, Desura) Cathmouth Island Episode 1 (Steam, Desura) Ensign-1 (Steam, Desura) FootLOL: Epic Fail League (Steam, Desura) Frayed Knights (Steam, Desura) Growing Pains (Steam) Mana Crusher (Steam, Desura) Pulstar (Steam, Desura) Residue (Steam, Desura) Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory (Steam)
  9. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of March 6th

    After an outrageously packed week for bundles this week brings us... surprisingly little. That's not a bad thing, though as it saves bundle devotees a bit of cash. Well, without further ado here's this week's minimal list with personal recommendations highlighted in green. Bundle Stars Killer Bundle 2.0 Price: $4.99 10 Years After (Steam) Blitzkrieg Anthology (Steam) Blitzkrieg 2 Anthology (Steam) Boid (Steam) Enemy Front (Steam) Hegemony Rome: The Rise of Caesar (Steam) Redline (Steam) Reprisal Universe (Steam) Samudai (Steam) Space Rangers HD: A War Apart (Steam) Daily Indie Game Super Bundle 22 Price: $1.49 1Quest (Steam) Chains (Steam) Platypus (Steam) Robowars (Steam) Speed Kills (Steam) Starion Tactics (Steam) Groupees Build a Greenlight Bundle 20 Price: Varies Adventures of Tree, The Commander Cool 2 Eron FleetCOMM: Arcade Edition (Desura) Indie Assault Lost Moon Mirrored Riddled Corpses Shutter Why So Evil 2: Dystopia Indie Gala The Big Time Bundle Price: $1 Bang Bang Racing (Steam) Who's That Flying?! (Steam) Price: $2.99 Anna Extended Edition (Steam) Ceville (Steam) Sine Mora (Steam) Price: $4.89 Crash Time 3 (Steam) Grand Ages Rome (Steam) + Expansion Pack Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $2.99 Depths of Peril (Steam) King Arthur's Gold (Steam) Master Reboot (Steam) Secrets of Raetikon (Steam) Solar Struggle (Steam) X-note (Steam) Humble Weekly Bundle Monochromatic Price: $1 The Bridge (Steam) Closure (Steam) Dominique Pamplemousse (Steam) Price: Beat the average Betrayer (Steam) NaissanceE (Steam) Oquonie Price: $10 Neverending Nightmares (Steam)
  10. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of February 27th

    Hungry for bundles? If you're reading this post then chances you are at least a little bit. Unlike last week's utter downpour of new game batches, this week we've got far fewer to tide folks over with. Of course, if you really think of it even 7 bundles is quite a ton of games up for offer for just a few dollars. If you see a title in the list with green font that means I'm personally suggesting it, but feel free to let others know about any other excellent games. Flying Bundle: Addicts Bundle Price: $4 Burning Cars (Steam) Countless Rooms of Death (Steam) Diehard Dungeon (Steam) Grim Legends: The Foresaken Bride Lilly Looking Through (Steam) Millennium - A New Hope (Steam) They Breathe (Steam) Time Mysteries: The Ancient Spectres (Steam) Time Mysteries: The Final Enigma (Steam) 2 bonus games Groupees Remute's Hipster Orgy Bundle Price: $1 Ball'n'Flag Battle Buggy Grounds The Labyrinth of Time (Steam) Little Walker Nobu: Fat Revenge! (Desura) Pitiri 1977 (Steam) Pluck (Desura) Slinki (Desura) Sumo Revise! Swordlord Humble Weekly Bundle Made in Japan Price: $1 Cherry Tree High Complete Pack (Steam) Fairy Bloom Freesia (Steam) Influent + Language Pack (Steam) Price: Beat the average Magical Battle Festa (Steam) Revolver 360 Re:Actor (Steam) The Tale of ALLTYNEX (Steam) Price: $10 Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming (Steam) Rime Berta (Steam) Indie Gala Dragon Rock Bundle Price: $1 Battlepaths (Steam) Muffin Knight (Steam) Scourge Outbreak Ambrosia Bundle (Steam) Price: $4.99 A Bird Story (Steam) BlazBlue Calamity Trigger (Steam) BloodRayne Betrayal (Steam) Double Dragon Neon (Steam) Karmaflow Act 1 (Steam) Silence of the Sleep (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $2.99 Catmouth Island (Steam) Crunch Time! (Steam) eXperience 112 (Steam) Hero of Many (Steam) Rex Rocket (Steam) Tiestru (Steam) Indie Royale The KISS Bundle Price: $2.77 Canyon Capers (Steam, Desura) Cobi Treasure Deluxe (Steam, Desura) Glacier 3: The Meltdown (Steam, Desura) Hostile Waters; Antaeus Rising (Steam, Desura) Hyper Fighters (Steam, Desura) Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi (Steam, Desura) Numbra Deluxe (Steam, Desura) Racer 8 (Steam) Radical Roach (Steam, Desura) The Tribloos 2 (Steam, Desura) Lazy Guys 'Late February' Bundle Price: $2.99 An Imp? A Fiend! (Desura) Atonement: Scourge of Time (Desura) Barter Empire (Desura) Global Conflicts: World Collection (Desura) HassleHeart (Desura) Koala Kids (Desura) Polyology (Desura) SheHe (Desura) Shin Samurai Jazz (Desura) Startag (Desura) Stoorm (Desura)
  11. Review: Dying Light

    Developer: Techland Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam) ESRB: M for Mature Release Date: January 27, 2014 Note: This review is based on the PS4 version of the game When Dead Island was about to launch in 2011 I was quite excited. It looked like the next zombie game which would differentiate itself from the pack. In the end, I ended up being severely let down by what turned out to be a capable but clunky experience. Fast forward a few years and now we have Dying Light. Although the name avoids painting it as a sequel to Dead Island, it feels so much like one. As sequels are meant to do, it improves on nearly every aspect of the existing zombie formula and manages to create something unique. Although it may not be a rousing success either, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Dying Light introduces us to the story of Kyle Crane, a sort of undercover agent who has gone to the fictional location of Harran in order to liberate some information. Unfortunately, right out of the gate he screws up and attracts the attention of survivors—and zombies. He’s saved by a band of survivors, which of course means he now owes them his life. It also happens to provide an “in” for him to gather intel and hopefully discover where the target resides. Of course, the story falls into a predictable pattern where Kyle isn’t sure where his allegiances lie, and it never quite transcends that samey storyline. Luckily, the game doesn’t live or die based on its storyline. Instead, most of the player’s focus will be continually pointed at gameplay itself. At zillions of points during your playthrough you must traverse Hassan in order to collect items, search an area, or talk to NPCs. This also happens to be a huge, sprawling landscape. Without a convenient method of fast travel (although a zipcord does help once unlocked) you’ve got to trust that Kyle’s arms and legs can get you from one side of the map to the other. He’s got some pretty great freerunning (or parkour) skills to make it through alive. This movement mechanic is handled surprisingly well. Although not all ledges can be climbed, if you see something that looks ripe for grabbing onto it’s usually possible. Instead of dealing with hordes of zombies on the street you can simply take to the roofs and push lone zombies off them. When a situation gets too hot there’s usually an option to sprint off and make your way to a safer location. At least, that’s true during the day. At night a special kind of zombie lurks and is best avoided until getting leveled up a fair bit. These creatures lurking in the darkness can kill you in one hit! Oh, and nighttime itself is also outrageously dark which lends itself to unexpected deaths for unprepared players. When you choose to engage in combat (or more likely, are forced to as part of a mission) things feel a bit too similar to Dead Island. Melee attacks are slow and deliberate, which lends itself to a more strategic sort of play—but that’s hard to do with zombies piling up from all directions. Although there are guns to be found, there aren’t many. The real killing blow in early stages of Dying Light is that weapons break quickly. You’ll have to scrounge about through drawers, enemy corpses, and locked chests to collect items to fix weapons a limited amount of times. Destructible weapons is usually an annoying design choice as proves to be the case here. There are some lovely aspects to be found while playing. The world is gorgeous (if slightly less pristine on PS4 compared to PC), there’s a ton of side missions, large variety of weapons to find or craft, and a well-oiled freerunning mechanic. However, these strides don’t fully overstep the shadow of Dead Island. Techland has still provided less than optimal combat and an average storyline. With that said, most of the time my experience with Dying Light was enjoyable. After shutting off the critical side of my brain and leveling up a bit, the game brings a satisfying zombie romp to current generation platforms. Pros: + Vast location full of freerunning promise + Tons of weapons to choose from + Multitude of ways to level up Kyle Cons: - Uninspiring, predictable story - Clunky fight mechanics - Slow progression from zero to hero Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Dying Light has tons of promise but Techland ended up falling back on existing design decisions rather than fully embracing change. Disclosure: This review is based on downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  12. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of February 20th

    Wow, it seems all the bundle makers conspired to launch a litany of new collections this week. There are 15 in all (16 if you count the latest StoryBundle, which is pretty neat). Usually the average isn't quite this high. So, with that said here's a handy list to look over all of them. As per usual, I'll be marking off the games I find particularly awesome in green. Feel free to share what you bought, what you think is a good deal, and such in the comments! Bundle Bandits Steam Bandits Bundle 2 Price: $2 Brink of Consciousness: Lonely Hearts Murders (Steam) Oniken (Steam) Space Legends; At the Edge of the Universe (Steam) Yury (Steam) Bundle Stars Puzzle Bundle Price: $2.49 Dungeon of Elements (Steam) IGT Slots Paradise Garden (Steam) Lexica (Steam) Millie (Steam) Puzzler World (Steam) Puzzler World 2 (Steam) ReignMaker (Steam) Bundle Stars Trinity Bundle Price: $2.49 Eradicator (Steam) iO (Steam) Legends of Aethereus (Steam) Nam (Steam) Pixel Boy and the Ever Expanding Dungeon (Steam) Revenge of the Titans (Steam) Sentinel (Steam) Shiny the Firefly (Steam) Stronghold 3 Gold (Steam) Terrian Saga: KR-17 (Steam) DailyIndieGame Desura Bundle 2 Price: $0.99 Chernobyl Underground (Desura) Combat Cats (Desura) Divided Nation (Desura) Great Story of a Mighty Hero, The (Desura) In Spaaace! (Desura) Slink! (Desura) DailyIndieGame Super Bundle 20 Price: $1.49 Avencast: Rise of the Mage (Steam) Biology Battle (Steam) Chains (Steam) Radical Roach (Steam) Tank Universal (Steam) Terra Incognita (Steam) Groupees Build a Greenlight 19 Bundle Price: Varies Dungeon Warfare East Tower Akio Go Home No Turning Back oO Stoorm (Desura) Super Elf Jump SuperLink Tompi Jones Unium Zombie Zoid Groupees Who's Gaming Now Spoiler Alert Bundle Price: Varies Astro Emporia Bit Shifter (Desura) Enemy Mind (Steam) Not the Robots (Steam) Pixel Puzzles: Japan (Steam) Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ (Steam) Spoiler Alert - Collector's Edition (Steam) Undead Shadows (Steam) Humble Square Enix Bundle 2 Price: $1 Hitman: Absolution (Steam) Hitman GO Supreme Commander 2 (Steam) Price: Beat the average Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut (Steam) Murdered; Soul Suspect (Steam) Thief (Steam) Bonus games Price: $15 Sleeping Dogs (Steam) Tomb Raider (Steam) Humble Weekly Bundle Co-Op 2 Price: $1 Hero Siege (Steam) ibb & obb - Best Friends Forever Double Pack (Steam) Shadow Puppeteer (Steam) Price: Beat the average Damned (Steam) Hammerwatch (Steam) Price: $10 Contagion (Steam) Forced (Steam) Indie Ammo Box Price: $1 Frozen Hearth (Steam) Metal Drift (Steam) Mr. Bree+ (Steam) Price: $4.50 Hero Siege (Steam) Retro/Grade (Steam) Tiny Troopers (Steam) Indie Gala Battle for Glory Bundle Price: $4.89 Battle Group 2 (Steam) Bridge Constructor Medieval (Steam) Commandos Behind Enemy Lines (Steam) Commandos Beyond the Call of Courage (Steam) Commandos 2 Men of Courage (Steam) Commandos 3 Destination Berlin (Steam) Deadly 30 (Steam) Imperial Glory (Steam) Onikira: Demon Killer (Steam) Praetorians (Steam) Skilltree Saga (Steam) Indie Gala Friday Bundle Price: $1 Cubot (Steam) Gentlemen! (Steam) Gravity Badgers (Steam) Syberia (Steam) Price: 2.99 Beyond Space (Steam) Blinding Dark (Steam) CreaVures (Steam) Kami (Steam) Point Perfect (Steam) Ship, The (Steam) Steel Storm Burning Retribution (Steam) Still Life (Steam) Syberia II (Steam) Unhack (Steam) Indie Royale The Debut 24 Bundle Price: $1.03 500 Years Act 1 (Desura) Alarameth TD (Desura) Atonement: Scourge of Time (Desura) Hare in the Hat (Desura) PING 1.5+ (Desura) Pixel Star (Desura) Red Goblin: Cursed Forest (Desura) Shutter (Desura) Witches, Heroes and Magic (Desura) Indie Royale The Mixer 15 Bundle Price: $2.41 Crystals of Time (Steam, Desura) Final Dusk (Steam, Desura) Micron (Steam, Desura) Obludia (Steam, Desura) Reversion - The Meeting 2nd Episode (Steam, Desura) Slaughtering Grounds, The (Steam, Desura) Three Dead Zed (Steam, Desura) White Noise Online (Steam) Why So Evil (Steam, Desura) Bonus game PlayInjector "Remember 2014" Bundle Price: $2.99 Bridge Constructor (Steam, Desura) Fibrillation (Desura) Pid (Steam) Plain Sight (Steam) Shi No Mori (Desura) Stoorm (Desura)
  13. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of February 13th

    Happy Valentine's Day, peeps! Whether or not you celebrate this odd little holiday, some bundle providers have made sure to utilize it as a theme for their releases this week. All told, there are some pretty great bundles this week thanks to it. In any case here's a list of all the new ones that launched. Games that I'd personally recommend are listed in green. Bundle Stars Insert Coin Bundle Price: $2.49 Avoid - Sensory Overload (Steam) BiT Evolution (Steam) DogFighter (Steam) Drive to Hell (Steam) Just Get Through (Steam) PixelJunk Eden (Steam) Retro/Grade (Steam) Super Lemonade Factory (Steam) Bundle Stars The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete Bundle Price: $9.99 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat (Steam) S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (Steam) S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (Steam) Daily Indie Game Super Bundle 19 Price: $1.49 CT Special Forces (Steam) Game Tycoon 1.5 (Steam) Nux (Steam) Pressured (Steam) Selknam Defense (Steam) Streets of Chaos (Steam) Groupees Retro Bundle 4 Price: $1 Mighty Retro Zero Rammheart Price: $3 Aveyond: Gates of Night (Steam) Earthworm Jim 1+2 (GOG) MacVenture Collection (Steam) Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon (Steam) Humble Weekly Bundle For Lovers (of Games) Price: $1 Analogue: A Hate Story (Steam) Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ (Steam) Long Live the Queen (Steam) Price: Beat the average Hate Plus (Steam) Roommates - Deluxe Edition (Steam) World End Economica Episode 1 (Steam) Price: $8 Hatoful Boyrfriend (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $2.19 Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode 1 (Steam) Moto Racer Collection (Steam) Rooks Keep (Steam) Starion Tactics (Steam) Trip (Steam) Indie Gala Heart Attack Bundle Price: $1 Bionic Heart (Steam) Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook (Steam) Heileen 1 (Steam) Heileen 2 (Steam) Price: $4.99 Always Remember Me Deluxe Edition (Steam) Bionic Heart 2 Deluxe Edition (Steam) Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook (Steam) Heileen 3 Deluxe Edition (Steam) Spirited Heart Deluxe Edition (Steam) Price: $9.99 Loren The Amazon Princess (Steam) Nicole - Otome version (Steam) Planet Stronghold Deluxe Edition (Steam) Indie Gala Times of War Bundle Price: $4.99 Men of War Assault Squad + DLC (Steam) Theatre of War (Steam) Theatre of War 2 + DLC (Steam) Thatre of War 3: Korea (Steam)
  14. Game Bundle Roundup for Week of February 6th

    After the amazing bundle blowout that was last week it didn't seem likely this week would be nearly as stunning. As it turns out, this hunch was right. It appears many bundlers are laying low at the moment to recharge for the next big blowout. In any case, here's all the bundles (best and worst) available right now. Bundle Stars Apocalypse Bundle Price: $4.99 Afterfall Reconquest: Episode 1 (Steam) AX:EL (Steam) bit Dungeon II (Steam) Claire (Steam) Evoland (Steam) Madballs in Babo: Invasion (Steam) Meridian: New World (Steam) The Nightmare Cooperative (Steam) Pineview Drive (Steam) Sideway New York (Steam) Verde Station (Steam) Bundle Stars The FPS Bulletproof Bundle Price: $3.49 Axis Game Factory's AGFPRO v 2 (Steam) Dead Effect (Steam) Dementium II HD (Steam) Fancy Skulls (Steam) Heavy Fire: Afghanistan (Steam) Necrovision Hardcore Edition (Steam) Parkan II (Steam) SickBrick (Steam) Ubersoldier II (Steam) Groupees The Space Bundle Price: $1 Mysterious Space Solar Struggle (Steam) Price: $3 Kinetic Void (Steam) UFO: Aftershock (Steam) Zigfrak (Steam) Humble Weekly Bundle Adventures! Price: $1 Broken Sword 1 & 2 (Steam) Detective Grimoire (Steam) The Whispered World Special Edition (Steam) Price: Beat the average Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller GOTY (Steam) The Detail Episode 1 (Steam) A Golden Wake (Steam) Price: $10 Broken Sword 5 (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $2.49 Akane the Kunoichi (Steam) Black Viper (Steam) Fabula Mortis (Steam) Fat Chicken (Steam) Shadows of War (Steam) Yury (Steam) Indie Royale The Fenlon Bundle Price: $3.71 Boot Hill Heroes (Steam, Desura) Draconian Wars (Steam, Desura) Life of Pixel (Steam, Desura) Stranded (Steam) Viktor (Steam) Star Wars Humble Bundle Price: $1 Star Wars: Dark Forces (Steam) Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (Steam) Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (Steam) Price: Beat the average Star Wars Battlefront II (Steam) Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (Steam) Star Wars Republic Commando (Steam) Bonus games Price: $12 Star Wars Empire At War: Gold Pack (Steam) Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition (Steam) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Steam)
  15. Review: Funk of Titans

    Developer: A Crowd of Monsters Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters Platform: Xbox One Release Date: January 9, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen When thinking about Greek mythology, a great many things come to mind: gods like Zeus and Apollo, titans, sirens, Medusa, and a whole host of other beings. One word that doesn’t typically come to mind is “funk.” Yet, developer A Crowd of Monsters created an oddball concoction of mythology and music with Funk of Titans. This platformer puts you in the role of Perseus, Zeus’s son, who must travel and defeat titans. They aren’t just any typical titans, though, and instead represent the musical genres pop, rap, and rock. Can you win and ensure funk always presides over the land? Sure, but you may tire of it before your work is done. Funk of Titans is a 2D platformer which appears inspired primarily by mobile game trends. Although there is a story, it is incredibly light and your main goal is simply to burn through around 40 levels. When you begin, the stages seem incredibly simplistic mechanics-wise. Some of that comes from the fact that it is an auto-scrolling runner of sorts. The main difference from other titles in that genre is that you can actually turn around if need be and run the other way and are given multiple chances at certain jumps if you miss the first time. This incredible simplicity is built upon as the game progresses. By the time you’re in the second world, though, most every feature is unlocked. By that point you’ll have to deal with moving platforms, flipping switches, wall climbing, and a few other bits. Oddly, enemies (which appear on every stage) are perhaps some of the kindest in any game. They never attack you or even pace back and forth. All they do is simply dance in place before you slice them to bits. In any case, the point is that the gameplay should not in any way be challenging. Yet it is. The problem with the game’s difficulty is that it is completely unearned in most instances. For one, there is a slight delay between pressing buttons via the controller and seeing them register in game. With everything feeling a bit slow, you can’t help but misjudge timing that seems so easy. Poor Perseus also only happens to have two hit points per level. On more than one occasion he was hit, only to be flung directly into some other dangerous obstacle immediately afterward. Simply adding in a brief period of invincibility would have helped to avoid cheap deaths such as these. Even though it might sound like a complete wash at this point, Funk of Titans still offers some high points. After a variety of samey stages, you finally get to experience different styles of worlds. Beyond that, they also open up in ways that allow for multiple playthrough routes. It actually becomes challenging to collect all 100 golden records in one stage due to expansive levels. There’s also a goofy Flappy Bird ripoff included for some reason, but it’s a fair refresher between courses. Finally, you’re able to customize Perseus with new hats/masks and weapons. Weapons are purely mechanisms to help 100% a stage, though. If you’re not aiming for completion, though, the game takes around 2 hours to finish. Players should expect some degree of funkiness while playing but even that is lacking. Some aspects, such as level and character design definitely fit in with the theme. In particular, boss titans are creative representations of modern pop stars. However, beyond that nice dash of visual polish there’s simply little else to hold the experience up. Stages are primarily repetitive and even the music is reused a tremendous amount. Speaking of which, it feels more like royalty free tracks than the incredibly funk tunes I was hoping for. All of these negatives weigh down what could have been a perfectly competent platformer and make Funk of Titans an unfortunate slog. Pros: + Fun graphics mix Greek mythology with musical themes + Multiple paths for many levels Cons: - Game slow to respond to controller input - Simplistic stages made unnecessarily challenging by problematic design and control - Lack of engaging soundtrack for a supposedly “funky” game Overall Score: 4 (out of 10) Below Average Funk of Titans looks like an odd, but amusing concept on paper. In reality it proves to be an imprecise (and oftentimes annoying) platformer with a lot of heart and little else. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
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