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  1. If you were a big fan of point-and-click adventure games in the 90's, chances are you're familiar with the name Tex Murphy. The series was notable for its dystopian, post-World War III San Francisco setting as well as its use of live-action cutscenes with different actors. Now the series is back after a 16 year hiatus with Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure, a brand new entry that has Tex Murphy returning along with a slew of characters portrayed by some famous faces, including June Lockhart, Larry Jones (the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), and Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame). The game also features five different endings, ensuring a good amount of replayability for those who are looking for value. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure is available for purchase now for PC on Steam, GOG.com, The Humble Store, and more. Source: Press Release Are you interested in checking out Tesla Effect?
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01

    Developer: Spicy Tails Publisher: Sekai Project Platform: PC (Steam) ESRB: Not rated (T suggested) Release Date: May 6, 2014 It seems that the acceptance of visual novels has grown a ton over the past few years. Before more game-like titles such as Phoenix Wright and 999 hit the scene, most Western players were either unaware of their existence or put off by the genre“s reputation. Now, Steam Greenlight regularly accepts visual novels such as WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01 to their storefront. How does this game stand out and is it the kind that newbies to the genre will want to pick up? Well, that all depends on what you expect out of visual novels. First, let“s go over what kind of visual novel this game is. It is a 100% story driven experience without any sort of gameplay elements wedged in. This is very typical of visual novels although most of the titles released here tend to have various puzzles or other features to make them more appealing to the audience. Unlike others in the genre, it also has no moments for the player to make a decision. Most of the time there is at least one choice to be made over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA but that“s not the case here. As such, you“re fully beholden to the story to provide an interesting experience. So what“s the story about? The focus is on a young man who has been living on his own for a few months after running away from home. Although it might not sound that unusual, the backstory helps enhance the storyline. You see, this all takes place on the moon after it has been colonized. People back on Earth immigrate to the moon for a new start just as it had once been the case for the United States. Still developing, the moon has areas of great prosperity but also areas where people struggle to make ends meet. Apparently, living on the moon is not a solution to humanity“s dependence on currency. However, our young runaway has been making money via stock trading, completely ignoring school or any other responsibilities in the process. Soon enough he finds himself in a bind and is saved by a woman named Lisa who takes him into her care. Because he doesn“t want to be sent home, he is christened with a new name—Hal. His hope is that staying with Lisa will be just a temporary stumble on his route to the lavish city. Things don“t turn out as expected, though, when Hal finds himself faced with Lisa“s other tenant Hagana. Hagana is about the same age, but the two are so opposed that arguments constantly flare up. Although Hagana could be at fault sometimes, it seems that most of the blame lies with Hal. For whatever reason, Hal is a truly unlikeable guy. As we play from his perspective, players are often subjected to his completely off-the-wall notions about women. It does eventually subside, but is fairly surprising to see such an unlikeable character at the helm. Yes, Hal has reasons for his constant temper and his uncontrollable greed. Yes, he also manages to do things that prove himself to have a tad bit of decency but he“s still a tough character to process. In a way that“s a bold move for any visual novel because it gambles on players being able to stick with it despite a despicable, unrelatable character at the forefront of WORLD END ECONOMiCA. Regardless of how you feel about the lead“s attitude problems, the storyline itself proves engaging. Hal“s determination to make millions off stock trading sounds like a flight of fancy for a teenager but it“s a neat ride all the same. Things get more interesting once he must enlist the aid of the person he“d hate to work with most. Of course, this is Hagana as she has a hidden talent that can aid him tremendously. From there, things really take off story-wise, although a tenuous romantic thread introduced later seems forced. The storyline is not steeped in economic theory (despite the name) but it does definitely have its fair share of investing “shop talk” which might bore some readers. It also paints an ethically ambiguous plot point as a really great thing which seems quite odd. Eventually Hal stops being as detestable as he was at the start, but it is a shame he couldn“t have shown a modicum of decency to begin with. In some ways, Lisa and Hagana prove the main reason to play ahead in the story because they“re much easier to take interest in. Provided you have an interest in stock trading (and maybe even mathematical theories) then WORLD END ECONOMiCA will prove an interesting, if sometimes difficult, read. Anyone who tuned out during economics class might not find it worth playing though. The hardest reasons to recommend the experience are simply because the main character is so unlikable and that it is purely a digital story with no player input. Still, there“s something interesting about being forced to deal with a character who is antithetical of typical visual novel leads. Hopefully those who purchase will find themselves wrapped up over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA“s 8 to 12 hour storyline. Pros: + Unique storyline compared to the average visual novel + Cool world and artwork Cons: - Contemptible lead character - Zero choices to be made by the player Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent WORLD END ECONOMiCA is a visual novel with a very unique story to tell for those who can bear the lead character.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Platformines Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Marcus Estrada

    Platformines Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    Platformines Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming

    Developer: OPUS Publisher: MarvelousAQL Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: April 4, 2014 ESRB: N/A (T suggested) Half Minute Hero was a game that came to PSP and quickly disappeared into obscurity in 2009. More recently, the upgraded Xbox 360 release graced Steam and a whole load of players got their first taste of the unusual JRPG. As such, MarvelousAQL published the sequel, Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming, exclusively on PC this month. Thanks to it, even more players are now being exposed to the unique title. Is this version the ideal starting off point for new players? Indeed, although existing fans will still find a lot enjoyable about this new romp as well. So, for the uninitiated, what“s Half Minute Hero all about? You assume the role of a young hero who is constantly opposed by evil lords. These monstrosities threaten to destroy everything - it only takes them 30 seconds to charge up their world-ending spell. Your task is to level up, equip strong items, and take down the enemy all before those 30 seconds are up. It sounds ridiculous and impossible until key gameplay aspects are revealed. The hero is not alone in his quest. At his side is the Time Goddess who is able to turn back time. By praying at a statue of her likeness (and paying an increasing fee) she will rest the 30 second timer. Her skills also make it so that leveling up is an incredibly expedient process. Unlike a traditional JRPG, you“ll see your level climb into double digits via only a minute of gameplay time. Once you“re strong enough to defeat a villainous foe, the game will alert you, making progression quite easy. Defeating enemies on the field also rewards the player with coins. Of course, if you intend to turn back the clock at all, you“ve got to collect enough to offer to the Time Goddess. If you want to outfit yourself with better gear then it“s also needed. It might seem like a pain but usually scrounging up enough money to buy every item and kill the boss is relatively easy to do. Overall, it seems like The Second Coming may be easier than the original game. With that said, the sequel takes care to inject interesting new missions to change up the standard “level up and destroy everything” directive. Those who played the previous incarnation will be sad to hear that there aren“t any extra gameplay modes beyond Hero. This means that you“ll continually be battling the clock in mostly the same fashion for mission after mission. Stages are changed up in ways that can force creative thinking, but the core mechanics themselves never change. If you try out the game and aren“t particularly enthused with it at the start then it“s likely the rest of the experience will be terribly dull to you. It“s a shame that Princess, Knight, or Evil Lord modes couldn“t make a comeback. The Second Coming is a surprisingly long game, with an amusing (if somewhat trite) storyline to go along with it. There is a fair amount of replayability too if you wish to hone your skills on past stages or purchase every item. Steam Workshop support is even included, which allows users to make their own quests for other players to download. As with many community-sourced endeavors, not every map is a winner but some are quite fun. Fans will be relieved to know that this game also retains its attractive pixel aesthetic. The bright, colorful graphics look cute. Enemies can also be a bit silly as you battle against snowmen, macaroni penguins, and other creatures. The writing fits in well with the silly visual aesthetic by harping on the Time Goddess“ obsession with money, a certain evil god“s love of everything beautiful, and other oddities. Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming is a fun, if exhausting, experience. Getting a reign on the whole 30 second thing can be challenging until you learn the ropes. Then, the game loves to throw surprisingly tough challenges just to keep players on their feet. The whole package is a great deal of fun and offers many hours of playtime. However, the biggest issue is that some people just don“t like the compartmentalized JRPG gameplay all that much. If it sounds fun to you then you“ll likely find Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming an enthralling experience in a matter of seconds. Pros: + Quirky, innovative gameplay style + Quests are kept fresh with differing strategies and goals + Tons of stages and reasons to replay Cons: - Lack of alternate gameplay modes - Frantic pace of game is quite tiring Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming is a gloriously quirky JRPG that must be played to be believed. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Trials Fusion

    Developer: RedLynx Publisher: Ubisoft Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Release Date: April 16, 2014 ESRB: E10+ The Trials series is one that almost always pleases fans. Since Trials HD launched in 2009, players have continuously craved more of the ridiculous motorcycle racing game. Slowly but surely RedLynx has brought out more entries, with the newest being Trials Fusion. This also marks the series“ first jump onto a new round of platforms. Does Trials Fusion succeed as a “next gen” game while still retaining the charm of previous entries? Yes, it does indeed. Regardless if you are a long-time fan or brand new player you“ll likely find the game is tremendously fun. Trials Fusion is a 2.5D physics-based racing game where players ride a variety of bikes through a great deal of stages. Each level is filled with precarious jumps, bumps, and other strange obstacles to overcome. Failure greets players often, but is usually hilarious thanks to the rider“s floppy disposition. The poor fellow looks like a ragdoll upon crashing into walls, getting exploded, and a host of other tragedies. Levels come in a collections grouped by difficulty and theme. For example, there are sections that are mountainous and filled with nature while others take place in futuristic cities. Thanks to the distinct nature of every stage, you likely won“t get bored despite the mostly simple controls. As the game is nearly a 2D experience, you can only increase or decrease bike speed as well as tilt it and the rider. Getting a hang of the controls isn“t too bad and means that players of many skill levels should be able to enjoy Trials Fusion. At least, things start out that way. As you climb the ranks it eventually becomes a far more difficult game. This is due to unlocking a couple motorcycles that require much more precision handling. The game also expects players to use more advanced tricks, such as bunny hopping and climbing up super steep inclines. All stages start out locked, but even accessing the hard ones requires playthroughs of all previous easy and medium difficulty stages. In that way, they“re at least hoping players will learn the ropes well enough. There is no real detriment to bailing a lot except when it comes to scores. At the end of a race you“re given a bronze, silver, or gold medal along with some prize money. Bronze is awarded for simply finishing the course while silver and gold can be harder to attain. They often ask for a minimum of failures as well as completion under a certain time. Medals also are used to unlock new racing areas. Unfortunately, getting bronze on every stage does not provide enough medals to unlock new sections, so you are required to increase in skill to experience the game completely. What is the money for? Players use in-game currency to purchase new clothing outfits for their rider. It“s fairly routine customization but some of the outfits are fun. For example, one outfit channels Evel Knievel and fits perfectly with the silliness of Trials Fusion. Clothes also unlock the more you play, meaning that just having loads of cash isn“t enough. Outfits impart no boosts or skills but are nice cosmetic bonuses. A neat new feature for the game is known as the FMX Tricks System. When in the air, players can now access a wide variety of tricks by moving the left and right thumbsticks. It“s a bit tough to get a hang of, but once you do, things really get fun. Now instead of simply doing flips, you can also string together various rider tricks and hopefully pull off the landing. A handful of stages require the player to match movements, while others simply ask for the highest trick score possible. In regards to the PS4 version, the game looks very fresh overall with interesting stage designs. It also escapes the curse many PSN games on PS4 have and actually manages to look better than a PS3 title. Graphics are bright and detailed; far more so than any Trials before. This does cause issues every once in a while as an incredibly bright sun blinds me to the track. On other times, the darkness of stage segments causes a similar problem. It“s one thing to bail due to making a mistake and another to mess up because you simply couldn“t see what was going on. Outside of a few hiccups, Trials Fusion is a great new entry for the franchise. It maintains that goofy fun and addictive quality it always possessed. This time around they“ve just amped it up further with more unique stages and a bit more freedom for the rider. PS4 gamers in need of something new should definitely pick it up and compete on the leaderboards. Fans also are in for a treat with this latest venture. Trials Fusion is an awesome motorcycle racing experience raring to eat up hours of your time. Pros: + Excellent bike controls + Stages are varied nicely with distinct features and backdrops + Tons of replayability via medal and scoring systems Cons: - Some distracting lighting leads to unfair crashes - Not many vehicles to choose from Overall Score: 9.0 (out of 10) Fantastic Trials Fusion hits a few bumps in the road but nothing that can stop it from being an incredibly fun racing game.
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Trials Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  9. Capybara Games' Below was one of the more intriguing indie titles announced for the Xbox One during Microsoft's E3 conference last year and we haven't gotten to hear too much about the game since then, but the good news is that the developer is out in full force at PAX East, showing off gameplay demos and such. A new teaser was also revealed for the game, and there's a nice little touch at the end, announcing an eventual Steam version for the game coming after its timed exclusivity with Microsoft is up. Early reception from those who have gotten to play the game has been promising so far, so hopefully it won't be too much longer before we hear a release date. You can check out the newest teaser below. Are you excited for Below?
  10. Marcus Estrada

    Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  11. Marcus Estrada

    Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  12. Marcus Estrada

    Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  13. Marcus Estrada

    Review: TowerFall Ascension

    Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc. Publisher: Matt Makes Games Inc. Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: March 11, 2014 ESRB: E10+ For the longest time it felt as if developers were slowly chipping away at the world of local multiplayer. It was honestly a bit frightening to see couch multiplayer suddenly being left out. Then, out of nowhere, a batch of games over the past year and 2014 have single-handedly brought back local play. TowerFall Ascension is one of these games, and definitely makes the point that local play is still tremendously fun. Of course, that requires the player to actually still be interested in local play after having grown accustomed to the online way of things. TowerFall Ascension is a very simple game. Whether you play alone or with buddies, the basics are still the same. You are an archer and are tasked with fighting off various enemies. Be it floating eyeballs, ghosts, other archers, or whatever else gets thrown at you, each can be decimated with a well-aimed arrow. Each 2D stage has its own tricks but you“ll have to spend some time with each to come up with your favorite strategies. For example, even though stages may have a gaping pit on the floor, falling through just ends up with you falling from the ceiling. It“s akin to warping from one side of the screen to the other in Pac-Man and proves very useful in tight spots. There“s obviously a lot of inspiration from retro games present here. It moves far beyond the pixel art aesthetic, as well. Characters have a limited amount of lives but they also have only a few bows in their quiver. However, unlike some classic titles, you can actually reclaim used bows by picking them off the ground - or enemy corpses. Of course, other archers can do the same regardless of who originally owned the arrows. Arrows come in a variety of forms thanks to power ups which include drill and bomb variations. Of course, this would all be for naught if the control was anything less than perfect. Despite its roots on a system with a noted problematic controller, TowerFall Ascension feels perfectly tuned for PS3 controllers. Characters move exactly as ordered, arrows shoot in mostly predictable arcs, and the experience is generally as frantic as it is exciting. Even death is fun as, upon respawning, the immediate radius around your character will explode (hopefully catching an enemy in its wake!). With all that said, there“s very little reason to go at the game alone unless you absolutely love tough, pixelated titles. Solo players will find a story and trial mode available to them but it all feels somewhat lonesome. There“s no doubt that the game was meant to be played with two or more people at once and you can“t help but feel left out. For those who are now used to online matches, well, you can“t do that here because it“s local multiplayer only. And no, there“s no intention to add in online play later. It“s weird, but the local-only standpoint has actually caused some anger. Many of us have gotten used to dictating online match times and enjoying games in that manner. If you have a small group of friends nearby who would still be willing to sit down on the same couch with you though then definitely get them in on this game. Since it“s fairly simple to control, you“ll soon find yourself locked in heated battles with buddies. Hopefully, it might even spur everyone to hang out more often for local games. Why doesn“t this game offer online play alongside local play? Without delving into the technical specifics, there“s a pretty simple reason behind it. TowerFall Ascension is a pretty fast game with precise controls and it takes place in a generally single-screen environment. Because every character is in close proximity, you will be very aware of their movements and how their bows should land. The subtle lag in online games is usually compensated for, but it would be readily apparent with such a small, quick game as this. If all lag could suddenly be abolished from games then there would be no reason to keep online out of the experience, but as it stands, it just wouldn“t work out well. Anyone who has access to both nearby friends and multiple PS4 controllers (or 360 controllers for PC) should buy TowerFall Ascension. There“s currently very little of worth in regards to multiplayer on the PS4 PSN market. Even if there were, the simple control scheme and enthusiastic matches between players make this game an easy choice. If, however, you are not interested in local multiplayer then this is much harder to recommend. The game ends up feeling very difficult and incredibly lonesome once you realize that it wants you to play with others. For that reason, solo players likely won“t find TowerFall Ascension as great a game as others make it out to be. Pros: + Simplistic gameplay proves immediately entertaining + Multiplayer matches captivate all players + Variety of power ups to shift the tide of battle Cons: - Solo gameplay modes cannot replicate the fun of multiplayer - Little done to keep non-multiplayer gamers engaged Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Fans of local multiplayer owe it to themselves to pick up TowerFall Ascension. Disclosure: This review is based on PS4 downloadable code provided by the publisher
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Master Reboot

    Developer: Wales Interactive Publisher: Wales Interactive Platform: PC (Steam), PS3 (PSN) Release Date: October 29, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen Master Reboot launched last year on PC but not that many people appeared to notice. For whatever reason, the intriguing title is one that many PC players have yet to play, even if they did purchase a copy. Now that the game is on PS3 it has another shot to draw gamer attention toward itself. But is this a game that actually deserves a second chance? Most definitely, although there are caveats to this statement. The storyline to Master Reboot is a bit hard to convey but that“s because the game itself keeps most of it under wraps to reveal as you play. However, the basic setup is that there is a company called Mysteri that has invented a new technology called the Soul Cloud. When people die, they can have their mind and memories digitized and stored in Mysteri“s servers. Once uploaded, loved ones can come and “visit” the digital version of their spouses, siblings, parents, and friends. It sounds pretty cool, right? Or maybe it sounds terrifying. In any case, players start the game as someone visiting the Soul Cloud although we aren“t sure as to why. Once inside it appears that things have gone wrong. Certain memory doors are inaccessible while others are. There also seems to be dangerous glitches interfering with the data. Your goal is to make it through various memories, thereby unlocking them all. It“s a bit harder than it sounds. Although some stages operate differently, the goal is usually to solve a handful of puzzles within any one memory. Puzzles range from figuring out how to collect a series of items, arranging objects in the proper way, and a few less obvious ones. Any player willing to put in some degree of effort will find puzzles solvable. This isn“t a classic adventure game with loopy logic, after all. Sometimes you must find the proper path through areas which can be a bit more annoying when you can“t figure out the “trick”. Exploring memories is the coolest part of the game because it leads you to gorgeous, creepy, and just plain interesting areas. For example, you“ll visit a school and playground, but also worrisome locations such as an abandoned amusement park. That“s just the start, though. Things often fly off the rails with far more unique and visually stunning areas. Uncovering new memories is always exciting as you never know what might be right around the corner. Much of the excitement to be had with traversing through memories is thanks to the excellent aesthetics. Yes, Master Reboot has a sort of retro polygonal look, but that works to its advantage. It doesn“t look like a PS1 or N64 game but instead uses polygons as a stylistic choice that lend to the strange world of the Soul Cloud. Chances are, you“ve never played a game that looks quite like this one before. Not every aspect of the game lives up to its fantastic visual design. For one, non-music audio sounds strangely poor at times. Sometimes sound effects also sound too loud or quiet. The audio being unbalanced seems quite odd and can take you out of the mood. There was also a good deal of screen tearing when playing on console which was not appreciated. In certain areas it was fine, but in others (such as a forested area at the very start) it became extreme. There also appear to be issues pertaining to this port exclusively that are due to the PS3 controller. For example, there is a segment early on where you must drive through traffic for a set amount of time without hitting any cars. It doesn“t sound too tough, and hopefully wouldn“t be when having fairly precise control on a keyboard. However, using the analog stick feels floaty and leads to one sideswiping cars far more often than should be the case. There are other times when using a controller feels like the wrong way to be playing. It“s not wrong for a developer to prefer one control scheme over another but it“s unfortunate more wasn“t done to aid the PS3 experience. Is Master Reboot playing? Most definitely. It has an incredibly unique premise and design that definitely deserves attention. However, getting the game on PS3 is not recommended as that“s obviously not the way it was meant to be played. Or, if it ever appears as an Instant Game Collection title you can test the waters there before eventually buying on Steam. In any case, Master Reboot was quite a surprising game and hopefully this recent port will give it some much-needed attention. Pros: + Excellent stylized visuals + Interesting storyline + Puzzles that are not made to confound players Cons: - PS3 controls are imprecise and finicky - Weird audio mix - Some screen tearing on more complex areas Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Although the PS3 port of Master Reboot leaves something to be desired it still manages to shine through with an excellent concept and artistic vision. Disclosure: This review is based on PS3 downloadable code of the game provided by the publisher.
  15. Marcus Estrada

    TowerFall Ascension Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  16. Marcus Estrada

    TowerFall Ascension Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    TowerFall Ascension Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  18. Marcus Estrada

    10 Reasons to Play 10 Second Ninja

    You may have noticed a little game by the name of 10 Second Ninja pop up on Steam recently. Playing as a ninja clad in blue, you must defeat the army of machines that serve Robot Hitler. Yes, that“s what this game is really about. If you“ve been on the fence about whether the $9.99 game is worth it then read our ten reasons that make it an excellent way burn copious hours of time. 1. Easy to understand gameplay When your time to play video games is limited, you generally want a game that is immediately playable without an encyclopedia of knowledge. 10 Second Ninja excels at this. All you have to do is demolish robot enemies on each stage before the time runs out. As the name so plainly states, you“ve got ten seconds in which to accomplish the goal! 2. Simple controls If a game is going to force you to complete a task in such a brief period of time it had better not throw complex controls at you. That“s exactly the case here. You can jump, slash with a sword, and throw shurikens as you run around each stage. And since it supports keyboard or controller you can play in your preferred way without issues. 3. If you want, you could beat it really quickly Well, the game is all about completing every stage in less than ten seconds, so this just logically follows. For someone like me who has little time to dedicate to any one game at a time, this is honestly a blessing. With that said, you are prevented from accessing new areas until you prove to be at least a semi-competent ninja. 4. Tough to master Each stage grades players based on how speedy their performance is from one to three stars. While it“s often not difficult to squeeze in just under ten seconds, getting much lower often seems impossible. Try a stage five, ten, or even twenty times and maybe you“ll finally get a coveted perfect score! 5. The difficulty is addicting You know how I just barely mentioned how 10 Second Ninja has the capacity to be short? Yeah, it does, but good luck keeping it from luring you in completely. Stages seem so simple that they beg for perfect scores. Of course, getting them can take hours a time (especially if you dare to try and perfect all forty stages). The exhilaration of finally completing a tough stage feels much better than it has any right to. 6. Gloat (or hide in shame) from friends also playing Every stage in the game is tracked so your stats can go up on the leaderboards. As more of your friends get the game, you will be able to mock their pitiful scores. Or, in my case, have friends laugh at my sloth-like skills. In any case, it can be a lot of fun trying to match a buddy“s score. 7. Irreverent narrative You know, even if there weren“t a story adorning 10 Second Ninja it would have still been a fun game. But when you consider how inane the plotline is (Robot Hitler and his robot army, really?!), it lends an extra something to the atmosphere. It is still a bit creepy to see swastikas emblazoned on the robot bodies, though. 8. Good practice for wannabe speedrunners Okay, so speedrunners tend to focus on specific games to work with, but this one might help get you situated in that mindset if you“re interested. It is built around speed and even allows players room to experiment with finding less obvious but more efficient paths to victory. That“s similar to how speedrunners seek new routes and glitches to cut down seconds of time. 9. Tremendous value for your money By looking at my prior comments you already know that the game doesn“t necessitate tons of playtime if you don“t want to put it in. However, those who already know they love to achieve perfect scores, kick butt on leaderboards, obtain all achievements, and the like will have 10 hours or more sunk into 10 Second Ninja before finally completing it. That works out to $1 per hour of gameplay, which seems very reasonable. 10. Seriously, I can“t stop playing it! At the time of this writing I have yet to finish 10 Second Ninja. I“m not particularly skilled at playing, even after retrying stages over 20 times. Despite this fact, there“s something about the pick-up-and-play gameplay combined with a requirement for speed that urges me to keep trying. And failing. And trying some more. It“s a vicious cycle and I adore it. So there you have it! 10 Second Ninja is a game about a little ninja who has to clear stages in under ten seconds. It“s difficult and silly but also a tremendous amount of fun. Give it a look and see if its diabolical inner workings get you hooked.
  19. Lone Survivor: The Director“s Cut (PS3) Developed by Superflat Games Published by Curve Studios Released September 24, 2013 Review Written March 22, 2014 Originally Posted on The Time Heist Blog Another game from my Christmas sale binge, Lone Survivor is another recent title that I pursued without knowing any prior information about the game. Created by Jasper Byrne of Superflat Games, Lone Survivor: The Director“s Cut is an atmospheric survival horror game reminiscent of the Silent Hill Series. Taking a different route visually, Lone Survivor is a 16-bit side-scroller that still manages to bring the fear. Though it may look like an odd SNES released twenty years too late, this indie title has much to offer once you leap into the rabbit hole. Throughout the six hour campaign, this indie title has little nuances that just grow on you the more you play it. Even though it doesn“t redefine the survival horror genre, Lone Survivor captures certain elements of popular survival horror games to lend an enjoyable experience. The first hour of the game is possibly the most intense as you don“t have any equipment except for a flashlight and a few pills. Adding that to roaming around a mysterious apartment complex without a sense of direction built my expectations as well as the foundation of how I would play the entire game; slowly walking and stealthing around to avoid all enemies. Although I say the first hour of the game felt the most intense, there is a level entirely within a basement that almost required me to bring a spare change of pants. Old age had caught up to Snake as he“d forgotten how to properly stealth. As mentioned, the game really relies on its eerie ambiance and without it Lone Survivor wouldn“t be nearly as enjoyable. Before even starting the game, the introductory screen dictates that a horrifyingly immersive experience is gained through following the game“s “ritualâ€. The “ritual†is more about the player“s mindset than the game“s adjustments, basically instructing the users to play in the dark with loud volume and away from distractions. I played using their instructed “ritual†and did feel a bit more immersed but this came at the price of feeling very paranoid at times. The sounds from within the game would often be a bit too ominous and any quick movements would instantly set off mental alarms. In a way the game“s “ritual†was very helpful in getting the correct mentality while playing and as the game is called Lone Survivor I“d imagine that mindset would be that of fear and paranoia. Touching more on the atmosphere of the game, the audio is very impressive. Clear sound effects and music help add to the game whether it being soft melodies while in safe havens, staticky undertones when enemies are near, and any sound effects for surfaces walked on or items used. Visually the game isn“t too bad either. By being 16-bit, Lone Survivor has the ability to play on nostalgia factor from those who love that art style or gaming era. Using mostly a dark selection of colors it really sets the tone that this world you“re playing in is in such a bleak, disturbing state. Yet, even in a gloomy world you have to strive for survival. That was the moment I realized I should have never left James Franco“s house. With such a bleak situation you come to learn that the character you play as is an unknown man who is just labeled as the Lone Survivor. Being one of the few characters still alive in the apartment complex, this man definitely has his own personal demons, and as you progress in the main story many of them come to light. Interestingly the more you play, the more he begins to delve into the insanity of his own situation and with such he progressively becomes more self-abhorrent as he pursues his goal for escape. In attempts to maintain your characters sanity you have to feed him and let him rest when he requests such or else his sanity fleets even more so. This feature within the game was interesting at first, but over time the main character started sounding more like a broken tamagachi, constantly complaining about needing food or sleep. But following suit with the theme of survivor horror, there“s always never enough food to satiate his ever-growing appetite. Give us your lunch money!!! The controls for the game are very simplistic in that you only move left and right and have a scatter of buttons to use specific items. There is also a quick-use wheel you can bring up to avoid diving into your inventory when very dire situations arise against the several enemy types within the game. Sometimes having the extra healing items or weapons still can“t save you from the stronger enemies. Though don“t fret if your character dies a good handful of times as the game can be a bit unforgiving in terms of difficulty the deeper you get into it. Lone Survivor is an interesting tale of a man“s attempt to escape reality and death. Almost like being lost in a corn maze, the more you attempt to understand what“s going on you become even more disoriented with no ability of reversing. The perplexing story becomes even more fragmented as there are a total of six endings to the game, and only two of them, I believe, reveal the truth about the game“s happenings. Although the game can often be very slow paced, the hunger to find answers really drove me to finish. With this all said, I would definitely recommend purchasing this game on Steam or PSN. It may not be overly scary as a survival horror game, but it does offer an interesting experience worth a playthrough or two. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist If you enjoyed this review and would like to check out some other opinion pieces, come on over to The Time Heist. Any critique's or recommendations are welcome! Editorial Note:
  20. I just stumbled upon this game today, and its two months from release with almost nobody talking about it. So, lets all take a look. Coming out on Steam with Oculus Rift support, The Forest is an open world survival horror game that lets you build houses, hunt and forage for food, set traps and probably a lot of other things I'm assuming. Just watch those trailers and tell me that doesn't look at least a little bit cool. Some of the trap animations seem a bit stiff and the fight sounds in the trailer don't sound all that great, but I'd be more than willing to look past that for an open world game like this.
  21. Harrison Lee

    Review: Insurgency

    Developer: New World Interactive Publisher: New World Interactive Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: January 22, 2014 ESRB: Not rated (M suggested) Modern warfare used to be the sexy theme in first-person shooters. Rarely portrayed prior to Call of Duty 4, games with combat against insurgents and present-day military forces were usually pipe dreams, confined to the likes of Battlefield 2 and the old Source mod Insurgency. After Call of Duty bucked the trend, the market became supersaturated with modern guns and grit. It was fun for a while until it became the annualized norm. Gamers grew tired of the endless cycle of shooting generic, stereotyped terrorists. So why would anyone want to make yet another modern warfare shooter in an overcrowded market? I asked myself the same question until I got my hands on newest iteration of Insurgency. It may very well be one of the best tactical shooters to come out in years. Insurgency's roots can be traced back to the free Source mod of the same name, introduced in the early 2000's. Insurgency back then was a revolution, featuring intense combat and a difficult learning curve that encouraged teamwork over guns-blazing. Striking a middle ground between Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six, the mod knew how to balance realistic combat with fun, competitive gameplay. All of that experience and knowledge has been brought to bear with the rebuilt, reborn Insurgency. The game is divided across a few different multiplayer styles. For those looking to engage in frequent firefights, check out the Sustained Combat modes. Looking for more team-based, objective-oriented gameplay? Tactical Operations has you covered. And if standing side by side with team-mates against AI insurgents gets your blood boiling, there's a co-op mode made just for you. Better yet, the AI can be deadlier than the human opponents you'll face. Insurgency has 7 distinct game modes across the 3 different categories, though each mode can share objectives from other modes. My personal favorites were Seek and Destroy (blow up enemy arms caches) and VIP Escort (protect/kill the VIP as/before they escape). Matches are tense, violent affairs that kill quickly and forgive little. Mistakes can end in the decimation of your whole team if your allies get careless. Clearing corners and always keeping an eye for movement is crucial to surviving the brutal world of Insurgency. A single bullet will often kill you, especially if the enemy has swapped out their loaded rounds. At the start of every match, you can choose the types of attachments you have, how much ammo you carry, the rounds you fire and more using a points system. The better the add-on, the more points and added weight it'll cost you. These things all matter and can quickly change the balance of combat if you find yourself overwhelmed by the enemy. Forgoing that 4X scope to snag an extra frag grenade might just save your life in a serious pinch. The only frustrating part about the expertly balanced loadout system is that you can't save setups. It can be a tad aggravating to keep buying and removing the same objects over and over again. It's a fairly minor complaint and one that could easily be addressed with a patch. Otherwise, the technicals are in great order. Visuals are relatively conservative, focusing on some great dust and particle effects rather than fancy textures (after all, it's the Source engine). The audio is stellar, witholding in-game music in favor of the soundtrack of bullets and explosions. Rifles crack and rounds whizz over your head to terrifying effect. It's all very gritty and intense. The selection of maps is somewhat limited as everything tends to blend together. My least favorite was Heights where I was often blown away by snipers, even when I thought I was safely in cover. Perhaps that's part of the appeal but I've never jived with it. The other locales are varied in range from wide open battles during the day in valleys to frantic night battles across market streets. You'll find a little bit of everything, whether it's sniper-friendly maps or CQC-oriented corridors. Your enjoyment of Insurgency will depend entirely on whether or not you're willing to slow down your pace, embrace teamwork and play tactically. This isn't the game for constant-action junkies or thrill-a-minute gamers. It rewards patience and planning, not trigger-happy rushers. You can certainly play it that way but it'll quickly end with a bullet to your head. Is Insurgency absolutely perfect? No, there are a few minor glitches and the loadout system is a tad annoying. Some levels also don't look great, especially with some shoddy ground textures. But if you're looking for an fun, rewarding tactical shooter, Insurgency is practically begging for your $15. It's bargain-priced and packs a fair bit of intense gaming, especially if you've been looking for a change of pace from Battlefield and Call of Duty. Dust off your BDUs and load up those rifles! It's time to go to work. Pros: + Lots of bang for your buck + Relatively varied game modes and maps + Nice change of PC from most shooters + Great audio and particle effects Cons: - A few minor glitches - Enemy AI skill varies wildly - Loadout system won't save Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great If you're tired of the endless modern shooters, Insurgency does just enough to make it fresh again, and at a bargain price.
  22. Marcus Estrada

    10 Second Ninja Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images