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Found 751 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Game Bundle Roundup for Week of September 12th

    Well, we meet again. Will there ever be a week where less than ten bundles launch? It's doubtful! Sometimes it's fun to remember the days when Humble Bundle was the only name on the block... In any case, enough reminiscing, let's get on with the wonderfully massive list of deals available to PC players this week (or, at least since publishing last Friday's selection). Bundle Stars F.E.A.R. Bundle Price: $7.99 F.E.A.R. (Steam) F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point DLC F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate DLC F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Steam) F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn DLC F.E.A.R. 3 (Steam) Bundle Stars Hearts of Iron III Complete Bundle Price: $4.99 Hearts of Iron III (Steam) Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi (Steam) 18 pieces of DLC Flying Greenlight Bundle 2 Price: $1 Coated (Desura) Don't Move (Desura) One Snack Please (Desura) Startag (Desura) We Slay Monsters (Desura) WolfWars (Desura) Bonus game Green Man Gaming Sega Bundle Price: $3.96 Alpha Protocol (Steam) Binary Domain (Steam) Crazy Taxi (Steam) Viking: Battle for Asgard (Steam) Green Man Gaming Weekly Bundle Price: $4.97 Actua Soccer 3 (Steam) Cobi Treasure Deluxe (Steam) Crash Time 2 (Steam) Grotesque Tactics (Steam) Realms of the Haunting (Steam) Shelter (Steam) Tank Universal (Steam) Groupees Build a Greenlight 10 Price: Varies The Adventures of Chris Astraea (Desura) Crunch Time (Desura) Domestic Dog Luna Shattered Hearts - Episode 1 (Desura) Phoenix Force (Desura) SinaRun 2 Sometimes Star Traders 4X Empires (Desura) Bonus games Humble Indie Bundle 12 Price: $1 for Steam keys Gunpoint (Steam) Hammerwatch (Steam) SteamWorld Dig (Steam) Price: Beat the average Gone Home (Steam) Luftrausers (Steam) Papers, Please (Steam) Bonus games Price: $10 Prison Architect Humble Weekly Bundle Kalypso 2 Price: $1 (for Steam keys) Airline Tycoon 2 (Steam) Disciples III: Gold Edition (Steam) Grand Ages: Rome - Gold Edition (Steam) Imperium Romanum - Gold Edition (Steam) Price: Beat the average Patrician III (Steam) Patrician IV (Steam) Tank Operations: European Campaign (Steam) Price: $9 Omerta: City of Gangsters (Steam) Port Royale 3 (Steam) Indie Gala Every Monday Bundle Price: $ Eschalon: Book I (Steam) Eschalon: Book II (Steam) Five Nights at Freddy's (Steam) Me and the Apocalypse 2: Scraping (Desura) Memories of a Vagabond (Steam) Stonerid (Steam) Indie Gala The Grotesque Bundle Price: $2.99 Avencast: Rise of the Mage (Steam) Crash Time 2 (Steam) Greed: Black Border (Steam) Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes (Steam) Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons and Donuts (Steam) Post Apocalyptic Mayhem (Steam) Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood (Steam) Space Hack (Steam) Space Trader: Merchant Marine (Steam) Wasteland Angel (Steam) Kiss My Bundles The Darkness Bundle #4 Price: $2.19 Darkout (Steam) Grimind (Steam) Radical Roach (Steam) Super Killer Hornet Resurrection (Steam) Kiss My Bundles The Horror Bundle Price: $4.99 Age of Fear: The Undead King (Desura) Age of Fear 2 (Desura) Grimind (Steam) Litil Divil (Steam) Lucius (Steam) Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi (Steam) Realms of the Haunting (Steam) Soulbringer (Steam)
  2. Developer: Falcom Publisher: XSEED Platform: Steam Release Date: July 29, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen Ten years. That's how long it's taken for Trails in the Sky to come full circle. The title was first released on the PC in Japan in 2004, and following a PSP port in 2006, gamers in the West were able to experience the RPG for the first time (although it wasn't until 2011 that the game got localized). Now, in 2014, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has made it to Steam, and with it comes a number of small tweaks thanks to publisher XSEED. With this critically well-received title reaching a wider audience than ever before, is this RPG worth adding to your Steam library? The story of Trails in the Sky follows Estelle and Joshua Bright, as they finally become junior member of the Bracer Guild. The Bracers are sort of like a mercenary group with a lot of clout; they do not answer to any particular government or power, so their neutrality allows them to set up offices around the world. Bracers take on a variety of odd jobs, from finding lost cat to tracking down criminals, and can be considered an independent police force for the people. Anyway, the focus of this game, being the first in a trilogy, revolves around the two traveling the country of Liberl to work towards becoming senior Bracer members. As such, you'll end up traveling around the five large cities in the region and its surrounding areas, taking on requests from the townfolk and eventually uncovering a deeper plot that is affecting the country. The plot in itself isn't particularly mold breaking, and for most RPG veterans many aspects are going to be predictable and unsurprisingly. In addition, Trails in the Sky just loves to talk, even more so than the average role playing title. Cutscenes can last a long time, and in the earlier segments of the game, it can often be about nothing of importance, and can grate on a player's nerves if they have little patience for such exposition. However, in general the writing for the game is superb. The world of Trails of the Sky is an interesting one, full of unique lore and people, and a lot of that really shines through in the writing. Falcom manages to create both an interesting world to explore and learn about, and likeable characters that play off one another quite well. Even if the game does go a bit overboard with the narrative at times, it's rare that it will actually bore you. Another big part of Trails in the Sky are the sidequests. As a Bracer, it is your duty to help those in need, and the many, many side missions you can take on are the game's manifestation of this key foundation of the Bracer Guild. The sidequests in themselves are pretty much what you'd expect: Finding items, fighting monsters, and traveling to locations you probably wouldn't go to otherwise. The thing is, there's so many of them (and many with strict time limits before you fail) that the quests can really bog down the experience if you let it. More quests generally appear after each major game event, so it inadvertently break up the action by forcing you to go out of your way to accomplish more tasks. On top of that, the strict manner in which you get Bracer Points (which help you rank up and get cool items) make it so not only do you have to do every single sidequest to get to 1st Class, but also correctly respond to questions thrown at you. It's very easy to miss something along the way, which is really discouraging if you're a completionist. Thankfully, the sidequests are just that—sidequests—so you can effectively ignore all of them and still beat the game. That is... if you don't let yourself get underleveled. Battles in Trails in the Sky are a deeply strategic affair, and it's important to not only keep your levels up, but to also understand the Orbment systems that allow you to create powerful spells to help you against tough foes. When you enter a battle, your party members and the enemies are displayed on a grid. When a turn comes up, you can move your party members around, cast spells, or simple attack. Everyone has different ranges, strengths, and weaknesses based off their stats and weapons... and so do the enemies, so it's important to keep that all in mind when planning your next move. Since even normal enemies can hit hard, if you become lazy and start mashing the attack button you could end up with a party in serious danger. To help to level the playing field, there's the Orbment system. By unlocking slot on characters' orbments and filling them with septium of various elements (think of them like Final Fantasy VII's Materia, and you have the general idea), you'll be able to cast various spells. Different combinations of elements allow for various, more powerful spells. To throw a wrench in all this, though, it that most characters have slots that can only hold a certain element; it makes for some unique characteristics for each party member, but also can limit many of them from accessing high level magic unless it is of their element. While the Orbment system might end up being a little complicated, and is one of the few areas of the game that isn't really elaborated on, but other than that combat is both intense and satisfying. It can sometimes get a little tiresome to work through monsters from earlier areas, but it's worth it for the satisfying combat elsewhere in the game. Trails in the Sky is not a perfect title, but it is still a pretty great RPG. The title shines where it matters most—the story—and the battle system is deep enough to make you actually want to fight battles. The graphics can be a bit on the dull side (the game is ten years old after all), and the quests can completely overwhelm you if you let them, but underneath that somewhat rough exterior is a gem of an RPG. Pros: + Engaging characters and an interesting world make for a deep plot to work through + Battle system is fun and thoroughly engaging, making you think out every move Cons: - The game goes a little overboard with the side quests, and can easily overwhelm players - The cliffhanger ending makes the wait for Second Chapter really hard (I'm joking... a little) Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great If you're looking for an engaging JRPG on Steam, you needn't look any further than Trails in the Sky. Disclaimer: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Vertical Drop Heroes HD

    Developer: Nerdook Productions Publisher: Digerati Distribution Platform: PC - GOG, Steam Release Date: July 25, 2014 ESRB: N/A (E10+ suggested) Do you enjoy dying? In most games, the case would be "no" as dying is seen as a failure state—and annoying! In Vertical Drop Heroes HD, you're poised to die consistently and constantly. And somehow, this manages to be immensely enjoyable experience all the same. It's all thanks to its addictive dungeon-crawler/roguelike vibe that makes each death compel players to keep going. First, let“s go over a tiny bit of the game“s history. Vertical Drop Heroes first appeared as an online Flash game. Although fun, that version is years out of date and much smaller than the new release. Vertical Drop Heroes HD adds in new features, skills, abilities, and improved graphics. All in all, you could totally get a taste of the game online, but afterward you“ll just end up needing to buy this version anyhow. So what exactly is so good about it? At its core, this is a simple game with a tough but not insurmountable level of challenge. Players begin the game by selecting one of three characters to play as. Once selected, they can head off into a very tall dungeon/castle/forest thing. As the name implies, your heroes must descend to the depths of each stage. Along the way they come across a wide variety of monsters, treasure, and wooden crates! Okay, wooden crates shouldn“t be a highlight but they actually contain coins or potions so they“re pretty useful. At the bottom of each area you“ll find a boss and (hopefully) beat the snot out of them to exit. Or, you could just unlock the exit early and skip the fight entirely. Every hero in Vertical Drop Heroes HD has their own setup which will affect progressing through areas. Each is randomly created, meaning you have no control over their skills or equipment - but that“s part of the fun. Some heroes are equipped with weapons you“ll come to love while others seem annoying. For example, the pickaxe breaks through platforms with ease. If you“re not careful you“ll fall very quickly through the stage and possibly right onto spikes or clusters of monsters. Alongside weapons are traits and skills specific to each hero. Your skills have a limited use but these uses can be restored at the proper shrines. Skills vary from simple things like shooting out arrows to summoning dragons or even turning into a golem. There are a ton of great abilities but those aren“t all each character is capable of. They also have traits that confer additional advantages. One hero may have the ability to walk on fire without being hurt while another can unlock crates without nabbing a few keys first. Both form of skillsets are unlocked by buying them from merchants randomly dispersed about stages. When your hero perishes, all progress in the dungeon is lost. Well, kinda. Basically you still have to start from the very first level again (unless you pay for teleports back to higher levels) with a new character. However, all the purchases on skills you made during the run still apply for all future characters. Even gold still sticks around between deaths in case you want to enhance your health, attack, and other base stats at the entry zone. These features help make the game friendlier to players although you can definitely avoid certain upgrades to maintain a higher challenge if you“re into that. Visually, Vertical Drop Heroes HD seems similar to a smartphone game with its cutsey, chibi cartoon style. Even so, this game is definitely tough and pretty darn addictive. It's just a bit of a shame that the art style doesn't stand up (in my opinion) to other titles within the genre. The music is a tremendous high point and it was honestly surprising how good some of the tracks are. Unfortunately, there are only a few songs in the soundtrack! I was definitely hoping to hear even more while battling my way ever downward. Of course, there were a few issues that were encountered while playing. The main one is seemingly random bouts of lag that would crop up every once in a while. It was hard to discern what caused them, because the screen itself never seemed heavily cluttered. Still, at these moments the character and anything else around it would chug for a bit before finally getting back to normal speed again. Although the game never crashed for me, some players have also complained about this happening from time to time as well. Vertical Drop Heroes HD is an immensely fun vertically-scrolling dungeon crawler. The roguelike elements feel in many ways similar to Rogue Legacy but manage to come into their own, unique flavor. With runs that last on a few minutes each (until you become more skilled) it“s incredibly easy to play another round - and another. You know how it goes. Some games just manage to hook you, and that“s what Vertical Drop Heroes HD has accomplished with me. Definitely give it a look if you“re still hungry for something with roguelike flair! Pros: + Gameplay that“s easy enough to jump into but also challenging + Tons of skills, abilities, traits, and all that good stuff for tons of unique heroes + Fantastic soundtrack Cons: - Little ability to influence what a character“s ability set will be - Seeming random slowdown on a few random occasions - May have the propensity to crash Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Vertical Drop Heroes HD manages to both be a fair game and still scratch that roguelike itch. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
  4. In case you've not paid attention to Steam's ever-increasing library much, Early Access is a way to for developers to get their alpha/beta games on Steam. The intent is to basically "crowdsource" within Steam for continued funding as well as increase your pool of alpha/beta testers without necessarily having to hire them in house. My question is how do you feel about the service? Some people seem to detest it in principal, others via the action of some developers who have fretted or outright canceled projects within Early Access. Some think the idea is fine since you're never forced to buy an Early Access game unless you choose to. Do you think it is a good idea to have Early Access on Steam? Have you played Early Access games, and if so, which ones were they?
  5. Marcus Estrada

    Preview: Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly

    Over the years, I“ve tried a great deal of ways to make games. Of course, with my code-phobic mindset this led to many programs that focused primarily on graphical interfaces and “easy” game creation. The latest of these simplified game creators is Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly, currently on Early Access. Interestingly, the software has been positioned as a new way to make adventure games specifically. But does it really function as intended so far? I mucked around and found out how Adventurezator currently stands. For being in a very early stage, Adventurezator already has some things going for it. First off, it includes a handful of levels as an example of the kind of stuff you can create. This introduction both serves as a tutorial to the gameplay as well as possible inspiration for creators. The world is presented in a third person perspective and features 3D models. Your goal is to solve puzzles with the pig protagonist which consist of picking up and using items. Sounds pretty standard as far as point-and-click adventure games are concerned! One notable feature of item pickup and use is the way it“s implemented in this engine. Whenever there is an object, players can attempt to interact with it in a variety of ways. Some of these choices are context sensitive. Once it“s picked up the item is added to your inventory (which has an item cap, by the way). Using items also feels odd since they“re not completely context sensitive. For example, if you have a key you can“t just click “open door” and have the key work with it. Instead, you must click the key in inventory, click use, and then click the door to complete the expression. Although the mechanics make sense, they don“t feel especially smooth from a gameplay standpoint. After working through Pigasus Games“ stages, it“s time for you to create your own stuff! Adventurezator currently splits game creation into three separate sections: Actors, cutscenes, and levels. What are actors? These are the many characters set to inhabit your world. Actors can be NPCs, quest givers, or the main player. As of right now there is a very simple actor editor in place that doesn“t leave much room for player creativity. The best offered is a mask option where you cna place a photo file over an actor“s face. It“s amusing enough, but it would be great to see a model import option, or at least more freedom. Cutscene creation mode works somewhat like a video editor with a flipbook slant. Basically, you are given frames and can fill each one with a background, characters, text, and the like. Once done with one frame you add another and repeat the process. Frames, as well as the objects within them, can have time attached to them. For example, you can set text to fade in at a certain second or end the frame when needed. Again, the editor isn“t massive, but it offers a good deal more creativity than the actor one. In particular, creative types can input their own image files freely here. If that“s more work than desired, you can use Adventurezator“s built-in assets. What most people are probably wondering about is the level creation, as that feels the most “game development-like” of the three creation areas. You“re presented with a variety of menus which each contain a bunch of objects. Objects range from walls to flowers and all can be placed as you see fit. However, clicking on certain objects currently causes the game to freeze. There“s nothing worse than getting deep into creating a level and then losing it because you didn“t save before an unexpected crash. Save often! Hopefully freezing will be brought to a minimum with future updates. After a stage layout is designed you can add in characters as well as the quests that need to be performed to succeed. Unfortunately, you can“t share your stages easily as there“s no Workshop support just yet. Adventurezator may not be as easy as some people hope, but it is definitely one of the friendliest 3D game creation tools I“ve used so far. The foundation Pigasus Games has created is solid so now we need to see what they bring to the table next. Creators need to be granted even more freedom and be able to create. It would also help to see the engine get spruced up as it feels pretty rough right now. When all this comes to pass it will be the right time for curious creators to check out Adventurezator.
  6. Marcus Estrada

    Vertical Drop Heroes Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  7. Marcus Estrada

    Vertical Drop Heroes Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  8. Marcus Estrada

    Vertical Drop Heroes Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  9. Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OSX (PS Vita and iOS coming at a later date) Release Date: May 27, 2014 Rating: M for Mature Note: Some minor spoilers are discussed in this review Things are finally coming to a head for Bigby Wolf. In this penultimate chapter, the thread starts to unravel on what's finally going in Fabletown. Episode 3 left things in a desperate place, with our first taste of the real villain behind the scenes, and Episode 4 does a brilliant job of being the lead up to the eventual showdown. Looking back, Episode 2 may have lost some of the steam that was built up in the beginning, but Episode 3 managed to regain that and then some, and now Episode 4 is going full-steam ahead. What it manages to do with the story is pretty special indeed; so much so that this could very well be the best episode yet. It begins with Bigby recovering from his brutal encounter with Bloody Mary and the Tweedles, and thanks to the efforts of Dr. Swineheart, it looks as if Bigby will live. But if you thought the final moments of Episode 3 were pretty gruesome, there's a moment or two here that may have you wincing, especially as Bigby's broken left arm needs to be set. Interestingly enough, this scene also reintroduces us to Colin (the pig) and his plight, but his inclusion feels a little random and more as if the game wants you to tie up a minor loose thread from the first episode that was briefly touched on. In fact, there are a few threads that are wrapped up neatly (or messily, depending on your choices) in this episode. On the one hand, it's nice to see Telltale do due diligence on their part to make sure these weren't buried underneath the main story; but on the other hand, their conclusion feels a bit forced due to the their strange timing. On that same train of thought, this is the first episode where it's been fascinating to see how different relationships have evolved over the course of the season. Depending on the choices you've made, characters who were once friendly might be indifferent or hostile with you whereas the opposite may also be true with others, and it's the latter that makes the whole journey truly worthwhile to experience, in a sense. Episode 4 succeeds because it returns largely to what made the first episode so great; namely, that it balances the actual story with thematic undertones and general human feelings and emotion. There are a few moments throughout that especially drive this home. Bigby finally cuts to the heart of what's been eating Beauty and Beast since the outset, and, much like everyone else, they've had to deal with the same rotten life almost all Fables have been subjected to ever since being ousted from the Homelands. And while their plight might make them seem a little less sympathetic than, say, Mr. Toad and his son (who are under pressure to get glamours or be deported to the "Farm"), you can actually feel for their situation, going from riches to poverty, not to mention having to adjust to living an alien land. At the end of the day, these are people that have been dealt bad cards. It's an interesting reflection and commentary on real life where not everyone is able to get aid or assistance (from the government), despite being a good person. Episode 4 also does a brilliant job of unraveling the great mystery behind it all, or at least beginning to. You'll finally figure out what Crane's connection to all this is, and though the Crooked Man himself is largely not a part of the story this time, the episode does a brilliant job of teasing the lead-up to his introduction. One or two revelations are made about what's going on, and there are some relatively creepy undertones to it. I have a feeling that there are still some answered questions or things that will get expounded on in the finale, but this episode largely ties up some of the greater mysteries, presumably leaving the action and fallout for the grand finale. With Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing, The Wolf Among Us reaches a dramatic head. I won't spoil exactly what happens in the final moments, but I will say the moment they chose to end on is brilliant, and it's done with a decision. It's quite possibly the best ending to any episode (in any series) Telltale has worked on yet (outside of concluding episodes, of course), and it's obvious that they're learning and improving on how the story is told from a cinematic viewpoint. I'm immensely anticipating seeing how this will all play out in Episode 5, but in the meantime, In Sheep's Clothing sets up the all the pieces where they need to be and does it extremely well. It tells stories, and gives closure to certain ones. It expands on certain themes and makes you think. For what it's worth, it's been an extraordinary ride. The match has been struck, and the fuse is lit. Now we wait for the boom. Pros + Great, continuing escalation of the plot + Good character progression; delves deeper into several characters + Music really hits its dramatic stride here + Final moments are some of the best so far Cons - Some minor threads are tied up, but feel a little shooed-in Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Once again, The Wolf Among Us goes above and beyond to show that it has one of the best stories in any video game this year. Episode 4 is a fantastic set-up for what is bound to be an explosive finale. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  10. Shantae: Risky's Revenge originally released on DSiware nearly four years ago, and then on iOS in 2011, and now WayForward has announced that the game is officially coming to Steam with an all-new Director's Cut version next week. The Director's Cut will feature new additions such as a new mode called "Magic Mode" which gives Shantae a new costume that lessens magic consumption but also cuts defense in half, giving players a different kind of challenge. There's also a new map and warp system, achievements, Steam trading cards, and more. It's worth noting that the visuals seem to be the same as they were on DSiware and iOS but appear to be upscaled here; even still, the game looks great. In other Shantae news, two other new games in the series are slated for release later this year—Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which will release on 3DS; and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, which will be coming to every major platform except 3DS and OUYA. You can check out a trailer for Shantae Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut below. Source: Youtube Are you interested in checking out the Director's Cut version of Shantae: Risky's Revenge on Steam?
  11. Harrison Lee

    Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Developer: Machine Games Publisher: Bethesda Platforms: Steam, PS3/4, Xbox 360/One Release Date: May 20, 2014 Rating: M (for Mature) If you like shooting mutant robo-Nazis in the face, stabbing armor-plated mecha-dogs, dismembering evil scientists and infantry, battling hulking tripod robots, and having random moments of introspection on the horrors of war, Wolfenstein: The New Order is for you. It's like Quentin Tarantino decided Iron Sky wasn't cool enough and wanted to make a prequel set in the 1960's, except Germany wins WWII, steals a bunch of hoodoo-voodoo occult tech, and uses all of it to dominate the world. For perhaps the final time, it's up to BJ Blazkowicz to defeat General Deathshead and the Nazi menace once and for all. If you want entertaining ultra-violence with a good story and likable characters, you've come to the right place. The New Order picks up right around the end of the underplayed 2009 sequel. Blazkowicz attempts to infiltrate the lair of the Nazi mastermind Deathshead in an attempt to end the war. The assault goes horribly wrong and Blazkowicz is forced to make a terrible decision that will affect which exploration ability he takes with him. When the beefy all-American next wakes up, it's 14 years later in a Polish asylum and the Nazis are everywhere. The world's gone FUBAR and the last of the Kreisau Circle resistance is all that stands between the Nazis and total annihilation. Despite Blazkowicz's time off, a few returning cast members are still kicking and provide humorous, if nuanced, dialogue. Reuniting with Caroline Becker is both hilarious and depressing as her wit, but not her ability to walk, remains intact. The other Kreisau Circle members are equally well-written and voiced, even if one guy named Max is a little unnecessary (one reviewer called him the Hodor of Wolfenstein). Together with Blazkowicz, these resistance fighters must traverse a 15-hour or so campaign of destruction across Germany and elsewhere in the Nazi empire in an attempt to break Deathshead's stranglehold on the world. It's a surprisingly well-done story and filled with all sorts of character conversations that truly color Blazkowicz's experience. The plot may not be the most original but the terrifyingly beautiful environments Machine Games has composed certainly are. Every building, from towering Nazi labs to small checkpoints in the country-side, is lovingly crafted with utilitarian concrete. It may sound odd to say concrete is beautiful but Machine's attention to detail is incredible. The environments feel like a bizarre, sterilized art-deco movement caught between Nazi authoritarianism and the classic '60s high-rise architecture some will remember. Even interior environments reflect the pseudo-futuristic feel of The New Order's world; alien, yet familiar. It's a post-war planet that's embraced utilitarianism and Germanic nationalism to a fault. At the end of the day, The New Order wouldn't be worth it if the game wasn't fun to play. Luckily, Machine has you covered in blood-spattered spades. Blazkowicz can dual-wield almost any weapon, silently take down enemies with knives and pistols, and upgrade his entire arsenal. Rather than follow the aggravating two-weapon carry limit of modern shooters, Wolfenstein stows all of your equipment in a weapon wheel. You can also find new parts for your guns scattered throughout the levels, including silencers and beam-weapon upgrades. The shooting mechanics are as meaty as the main character and feel incredibly potent. A single bullet can split a Nazi's noggin open a la Tarantino. If an enemy is only wounded, he might roll over and continue to shoot at you. Toss a Tesla grenade at his feet and he'll never have to worry about the medical bills. Enemies aren't brilliant but will utilize flanking and cover maneuvers to keep you guessing. If you alert a Nazi commander, he'll continuously call in reinforcements until you blow him sky high. Stealth and balls-out approaches are equally rewarded with satisfying, explosive combat. Also, it feels completely okay to get spotted so you can blow holes in bad guys with a flechette shotgun. Seriously. Looking for multiplayer? Look elsewhere. The New Order knows where the goods are and that's the campaign. While I'm sure a ridiculous deathmatch or some classic MP game modes would be fun, nothing would truly add to what's already an immensely entertaining experience. Machine Games knew all of the right buttons and knobs to push for a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping ride without the need for extra human players. On the presentation side of things, you'd be hard-pressed to be disappointed with the bombastic explosions, detailed environments, ludicrous gore, and pitch-perfect soundwork. The idTech 5 engine does have some issues with pop-in, particularly on higher settings, but the game still looks great, especially when everything is breaking apart. Voice overs are also well-done, especially from some of the returning cast. The music is smashing, including those classic pop songs remixed with German vocals. It all combines to create the perfect atmosphere for killin' Nazis. As you can probably tell, I adored Wolfenstein: The New Order. It's the perfect summer blockbuster shooter with the added bonuses of a competent story, strong presentation, and brilliantly realized world. Aside from some minor pop-in issues and one or two unnecessarily added characters/scenes, The New Order shines because it's so stupidly entertaining. The game maintains an upbeat rhythm and almost never drops below a billion heartbeats per minute. If you're looking for a good time, look no further than Wolfenstein: The New Order. Pros: + The plot is actually well-written + Awesome campaign + Great gunplay and strong mechanics + Strong presentation values Cons: - A few minor glitches - No multiplayer will be an issue for some Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Wolfenstein: The New Order is a brilliant shooter that makes all the right moves. Fun, explosive, and well-written, it's a joyous game that wants you to blow up the whole Nazi-infested planet. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
  12. Harrison Lee

    Review: Always Sometimes Monsters

    Developer: Vagabond Dog Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform: Steam (PC) Release Date: May 21, 2014 Rating: None (M suggested) Have you ever had a low-wage, menial job? Experienced the pressures and quandaries that come from being impoverished? Severed connections with the people you love and come to regret it down the road? Always Sometimes Monsters asks those very same questions and attempts to discuss a wide range of social issues, from sexism and homophobia to corporate greed and morally-ambiguous choices. It brings numerous issues to the forefront but doesn't offer any real answers, either by choice or because no answers exist. At the end of your time with this flawed RPG, you might find there aren't any true explanations as to why we are Always Sometimes Monsters. The game opens with a rather crafty character selection system. You can choose who you are (including sex, orientation, etc.) by simply walking up to a room full of people at a party. You can also choose who your partner is, regardless of your chosen character. ASM provides remarkably subtle and well-implemented ways of forming your identity without resorting to labels and sliders. No matter who you choose to be, the game fast-forwards a year after you've failed at writing a book and left your partner. One day, a wedding invitation from your old flame shows up. Do you choose to go to the wedding and try to reclaim your lover, or move on with your new life miles away? ASM is an RPG without the combat or complex mechanics of most of its genre colleagues. The game is more of a vehicle for narrative delivery than it is for personal enjoyment. The graphics are crude and simple (RPG Maker is still kicking). There are no voice-overs, and the soundtrack tends to repeat a bit. This isn't a technical masterpiece by any stretch, but that's not the focus. Vagabond Dog is all about the story, and that's where ASM will find its true fans. Instead of offering fancy visuals or dynamic gameplay elements, choice is made central to ASM's branching narrative. While it isn't perfectly well-written, there are plenty of genuinely saddening, joyous, hilarious, and heartbreaking moments scattered throughout the game. Some moral choices have less clear consequences, occasionally linking events that make little sense for the purposes of manipulating your emotions. I wasn't pleased with these instances (there's a doctor and a car that screwed me over) but found them few and far between. Frustratingly, characters seem to come and go at will. My best friend, whom I met within the game's first few minutes, randomly disappeared until I found him in a hospitable hours later. It was a bit of a random moment and didn't endear me to the guy all that much.....because I really didn't know anything about him. The only bits ASM told me were that he was a heroin addict and musician. I would have liked a bit more characterization but it's not as big of a complaint as is the game's tendency to gloss over side characters. You'll meet weird people, some of who I'd love to hear the back-story on, that exist only for minor fetch quests. On the positive side, ASM's freedom of choice does serve to highlight the morally-grey world we live in. I chose to occasionally steal some cash if I found it lying on a table. I also opted to rig elections and engage in some shady dealings at my ad agency. Every employment I had seemed to offer numerous unethical practices, almost absurdly so. The only ones that skipped on the dark places were the menial tasks, like making burgers and loading supply trucks. Those jobs completely sucked, which is likely ASM's commentary on the employment environment. When I failed to make money from my jobs, I got kicked out of my apartment, went hungry, and couldn't afford simple things like coffee or a bus ticket. It's actually a fairly nuanced portrayal of being dead broke, especially resonant with me since I'm a college student. While I hope I never encounter the same situations my character went through, ASM makes it readily apparent that poverty is never far away. Perhaps a bit too easy, but that doesn't seem to be the game's point. In fact, I'm not entirely sure of what ASM's overall message is. I think my stance on the game and its subject matter is that it doesn't particularly relate to my experiences. I don't identify as a guy who's had to bear the brunt of racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. That makes it more of an examination of these issues as an outsider, but without the substantive conclusions I was hoping the game would offer. For those who really dig and empathize with the narrative struggles of the characters, this is likely an unmissable RPG that rewards patience and consideration. On the other hand, I believe almost anyone can relate to the over-riding theme of finding your own fulfillment. While I do think the job portrayals were a tad overkill, their inclusions still hit home that much of life's routines are nothing but wasteful exercises in futility. We must find our own creative outlets and freedoms of expression in order to truly find happiness. Or so the game seems to say. I suppose ASM is one of those things that you'll have to play in order to decide what it means to you. Is Always Sometimes Monsters worth the time and effort to endure its idiosyncrasies, flaws, narrative gaps, and menial jobs? If you crave a story that actually remains relevant in our sociopolitical environment, absolutely. If you're looking, however, for an RPG that's just a fun game, you'll likely want to stick to other titles. This is a discussion piece and an attempt to highlight the flaws in our society, though it doesn't always make distinct conclusions. Still, I'd advise you to give it a go and discover your own life-changing revelations. Pros: + Relatively deep, nuanced story + Open to discussion of numerous issues + Great character selector Cons: - Not a whole lot to do - Simplistic presentation Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Always Sometimes Monsters is a title that begs you to consider all of life's complex social issues, though it's up to you to decide what the narrative means. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using Steam code provided by the publisher.
  13. Jason Clement

    Review: Shovel Knight

    Developer: Yacht Club Games Publisher: Yacht Club Games Platform(s): Wii U, 3DS, PC (Steam) Release Date: June 26, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Playing Shovel Knight has been like a trip through memory lane. Imagine experiencing the best parts of some of the most classic NES platformer and action adventure games but combining them all into one game. That's essentially what newcomer Yacht Club Games accomplished here, and it's pretty incredible that they did it all so seamlessly in their very first game. Shovel Knight has all the makings of an authentic 8-bit experience, from the visuals to the mechanics and right down to its chiptune music, but don't be fooled; this might just be the best new property of 2014 thus far. Shovel Knight begins with the tale of the titular character and regales how he accomplished many great feats with his partner and love interest, the female Shield Knight, until one day, the two fell to the dark power of a cursed amulet in the Tower of Fate. Upon reawakening, Shovel Knight finds the tower sealed and Shield Knight missing. Falling into despair, our hero retires and secludes himself from the world, only for an enemy known as The Enchantress to rise in his absence, unseal the Tower of Fate, and conquer the land with her 8 knights of The Order of No Quarter. Upon hearing this, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to journey to the tower and stop The Enchantress as well as hopefully rescue Shield Knight. As mentioned at the outset, the game takes heavy inspiration from several classic NES games, and it definitely shows right off the bat. Each main level plays out similarly to the 2D side-scrolling levels from Mega Man games, sometimes with a miniboss in the middle and ending with a main boss, which is one of the eight knights of The Order of No Quarter. A bit of DuckTales is thrown into the mix with Shovel Knight's ability to pogo bounce off of most enemies he comes across with his shovel (though you won't be able to pogo jump on the ground itself). Also, Castlevania influence is shown through the use of different items, and inspiration from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link comes into play in the form of the game's combat (attacking with the shovel, especially with the downward thrust) as well as a couple of towns where you can explore and talk to people. These also serve as hubs where you can buy additional health, magic, shovel, and armor upgrades. Finally, the world map is very akin to the one in Super Mario Bros. 3, in which you traverse a set of different locations interlinked by lines. The levels tend to steer more towards traditional platforming (along with a bit of puzzle platforming) with a lesser emphasis on enemies, though you'll still come across plenty throughout (and again, the occasional miniboss). Furthermore, each level does a great job of bringing new, unique game mechanics and playing to their theme well. For example, you'll have to touch snow in the air for it to get it to drop and cover spike-filled areas in Polar Knight's level, ride on torpedoes in Treasure Knight's submarine-based level, or ride and manipulate the wind created from propeller in Propeller Man's stage. There are also a number of additional areas to explore on the world map where you can gather treasure, but you'll usually need a special item to proceed. What makes the game especially interesting are other small but memorable aspects and quirks that set it apart from other titles. Being a "Shovel" Knight, naturally you can use it to break apart blocks or even dig certain piles on the ground which will reveal treasure. Instead of losing lives, you lose a percentage of your gold, but you're given a chance to retrieve it at the exact area you lost it. Villagers all seem like they have something legitimately interesting or funny to say. There are even random, roving enemies you'll encounter on the map, some of which have their own stories that will play out in the form of a boss fight. Where Shovel Knight really shines, though, is in its boss fights (and optional ones as well). Each is similar to a Mega Man boss fight, but taken to the extreme. Most are fast-paced, over-the-top, flashy, and extremely imaginative; a few standouts include Mole Knight, Propellor Knight, Treasure Knight, and Tinker Knight (whose I won't spoil); all of which are pretty creative and have an amazing visual flair. It might seem like simply trying to hit them would make it boring, but the number of different attacks and complex patterns each has is pretty astounding and makes these fights moderately challenging. And at the end of one, Shovel Knight delivers the final blow in slow motion, adding a dramatic flair that makes you feel like a real hero. Aside from its charming 8-bit presentation, the game has a great sense of visual style. Just about all of the character design is extremely likeable, starting with Shovel Knight himself, who has a great look. All of the Order of No Quarter have quirky yet different and memorable designs themselves, recalling some of Mega Man's bosses of old and how many of them ended up really growing on the players. Even the background imagery and scenery is fantastic, with multiple layers being used and highly detailed, and dramatic effects that include areas that are partially black (to simulate darkness) that light up when lightning strikes. While not adhering strictly to the NES's technical limits, Yacht Club Games did a brilliant job of breaking the boundary when they needed to in order to really make the game sing while staying true to the vision of a new retro-style game. Adding further to the retro aesthetic is a brilliant soundtrack, and arguably one of the strongest of the year so far. Jake Kaufman lends his musical talents here as well as Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae, who contributes two of her own tracks. And much like his work on DuckTales Remastered and the Mighty Switch Force games, Kaufman manages to pull off an extremely catchy soundtrack reminiscent of the old Mega Man games along with a dash of inspiration from Castlevania. He made mention that the OST can even be played on an actual NES, giving further legitimacy to what Yacht Club Games was attempting to achieve. In the end, Shovel Knight is not a game that is necessarily innovative or industry-changing; everything that it does already exists to some degree in other games during the NES era. However, what makes it truly amazing is the fact that it combines the best aspects of those games and creates something truly special and thoroughly entertaining because of it. From its quirky character design to its Mega Man/DuckTales/Castlevania-inspired gameplay to its outstanding music, Shovel Knight hits nothing but high notes all the way to its conclusion. Pros + Great, charming plot + Good amount of content to play through + Incredible boss fights + Soundtrack is very catchy; easily one of the best of the year + 8-bit visuals and effects are a joy to behold Cons - Some levels feel a bit longer than they should be. Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Shovel Knight is a great new property by Yacht Club Games that plays like a retro game yet feels modern and fresh at the same time, and is easily one of the best games of 2014 so far. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  14. The newly renamed Choice Provisions (known previously as Gaijin Games, the developer behind last year's Bit Trip Presents...Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien) has released a trailer for their newest upcoming arcade-inspired title called Whoa Dave!. In the game, the premise is to destroy monsters, steal their change, and survive. As the trailer shows, this is easier said than done, as Whoa Dave! is fast, frantic, and pretty challenging. Choice Provisions has announced that the game is currently slated for release on 3DS, PS Vita, iOS, Android, Steam, and OUYA, with possibly more platforms to come later. They're also working on determining a release date, which could be as soon as this Summer, and mention that it will "definitely be out soon." In the meantime, be sure to check out the game's trailer below. Source: Totally Choice Are you interested in Whoa Dave!? Let us know below!
  15. Marcus Estrada

    Steam Summer Sale 2014 Officially Begins!

    It's that time of year again... The annual Steam Summer Sale is finally upon us! Hopefully you've prepared your wallets as a host of great sales will be cropping up daily on Valve's immensely popular storefront. Is there anything new about this year's sale? Yes, now everyone on Steam is added into teams randomly. Users can push their teams ahead by crafting badges from collecting the set of 10 Summer Adventure cards. Each day one group will be crowned winner. From that, 30 members of the winning group win 3 games off their wishlist each. Winners not a pat of the 30 member group still get 2 Summer Adventure cards. Anyone on a losing team who still contributed points that day gets 1 Summer Card for trying. Here's a look at what's available for the first round of Daily Deals: DayZ - $25.49 Dead Rising 3 - $37.49 Democracy 3 - $8.49 Divinity: Original Sin - $31.99 Don't Starve - $3.74 Far Cry 3 - $7.49 Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion - $7.99 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition - $3.99 XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $8.49 Of course, there are also Flash Sales, Community's Choice, and many other games available for sale beyond what's shown on the front page. Search around and see if the game's you've been hoping for have been deeply discounted!
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Transistor Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    Transistor Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  18. Marcus Estrada

    Transistor Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  19. Jason Clement

    Ibb & Obb Hops Onto Steam Today

    If you missed ibb & obb when it first released on PS3 (via PSN) last year, the game is now releasing on Steam today, and not only is it 20% off for the first week, but there are four different packs you can buy. Essentially, there are two single player packs, and two packs that come with two copies where you can share one with a friend. The two deluxe edition packs (single and double copies) also come with the game's soundtrack, with electronic tunes created by Kettel. For those who don't know the premise behind the game yet, ibb & obb is a puzzle platformer designed for co-op play and starring two little creatures who must work together to progress through a world where gravity goes up and down. Marcus and I reviewed the game when it initially came out and found it to be a pretty great experience; also, if you love electronic tunes, definitely consider getting the pack with the game's terrific soundtrack (which I still need to buy myself). You can check out the game's launch trailer below. Source: Press Release Will you be checking out ibb & obb on Steam?
  20. Harrison Lee

    Review: Goat Simulator

    Developer: Coffee Stain Publisher: Coffee Stain Platform: PC Release Date: April 1, 2014 Rating: N/A (T+ suggested) You've probably head the stories about it. You've even heard the legends and the myths. Since time immemorial (or whenever the YouTube videos surfaced), the world has been set ablaze with frenzy for Goat Simulator. What began as some sort of UE3 physics tech demo has been crafted into a perverse playground of pandemonium. Hoof firmly planted in cheek, Goat Simulator asks one question: Are you goat enough? Whatever you've heard about Goat Simulator, it's all true. There are scores of wacky secrets and hidden goats to uncover by rampaging around and blowing things up. For a game that's $10 and couldn't be more of a $10 game, there's a surprising amount of Easter eggs scattered around for you to unlock. My favorite is the Demon Goat after you've done a certain activity at a certain place. To tell you would spoil the hilarity but believe me, it's amazing. Especially when you get the Demon Goat and start hurtling through the air like a haywire missile. Wrecking stuff to earn combos and massive points is all there really is (and needs to be) to Goat Simulator. There are some collectible statues and cool locations on the game's one map but once you finish finding everything, you've seen just about all the game has to offer. Amazingly, a free map and new goats are in the works so don't cancel your imminent Steam order just yet. At $10, you're already getting a ridiculously comedic romp that's perfect for showing off to your friends. Oh, and local multiplayer is in the works. Just try and imagine that. Obviously this game is insanely buggy. While most other titles would be panned for glitches, Goat Simulator revels in them. They produce the weirdest and most amusing moments, like falling through the ground for no reason. The game also isn't a looker but I doubt you're playing this for fancy next-gen graphics. You're here for the comedy, and boy does it deliver. Goat Simulator revels in its own stupidity. If you enjoy slapstick comedy and absurdity to the extreme, this is absolutely a must-own. It's so terribly awful and hilarious that it's practically begging to be played through. The low price and upcoming content packs mean you really have no excuse not to goat this a try. It'll crash (for which there's an achievement) and there's virtually no depth to it, but Goat Simulator succeeds at what it set out to do. Plus, trading cards. What's not to like? I'd tell you more about the game but you need to experience it for yourself. Words don't do the insanity justice. If you've ever hated or feared goats, this ain't the game for you. Otherwise, click that buy button and prepare yourself for an experience unlike any other goat. Pros: + You play as a goat + It's $10 + Free content updates + It's buggy Cons: - It's buggy Now, perhaps you've scrolled down to find some sort of score on this here review. Since Goat Simulator is less a game and more an idiotic sandbox of bedevilment that I can't actually assign a score to, I'll let my words of wisdom above show you the way. The description above should help you to decide whether or not Goat Simulator is for you. If it's not sufficient, feel free to throw angry comments and/or goats at me. Goat Simulator is as stupid as it looks, but that's why it's brilliant. Experience it for yourself and let me know what you think! Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a digital copy that was purchased with the reviewer's own funds.
  21. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Platformines

    Developer: Magiko Games Publisher: Namco Bandai Games Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: March 28, 2014 ESRB: N/R (T suggested) Platforming is one of those genres that is just never going to die. Even when most big budget games pursue realism, guns, and cinematic presentations, there are always going to be fun new platformers on the scene. Case in point, Platformines has brought yet another 2D platforming game to PC. At first glance this might seem like a title to overlook, but nothing else in Steam“s marketplace plays quite like it. In Platformines, the overarching goal is to repair a spaceship. For whatever reason, all the tools you require are scattered across a massive map. You“ve got to go out and recover them one at a time, and do so by exploring a massive randomly-generated landscape. Because the game is crawling with enemies, you“ve also got to mow down everything in your path along the way. Areas closest to your base have wimpy enemies and they grow tougher the further you venture away from home. There are tons of guns to collect and buy along your journey and they come in four types: Pistol, machine gun, shotgun, and bazooka. Sometimes enemies will drop various weapons and so you“ll do well by always nabbing them. If the newly-acquired weapon has stats lower than your own they can always be sold to the shopkeeper. If, on the other hand, you“re in desperate need of an upgrade then she“ll sell you weapons (or character upgrades) instead. The player can upgrade their energy belt which is this game“s way of showing your health. Along your trek through windy caves, you“ll often come across glowing minerals. These can serve as either energy or as a way to make extra money from the shopkeeper. Using them as energy will restore health, although each type grants a specific amount back. The mechanic works well for most of the experience, although once you get near the end, even a fully-upgraded belt isn“t enough. With a need to collect goodies, there“s also the ability to upgrade backpack space. It isn“t as pressing an upgrade, though, as there are copious amounts of warp portals around so you can quickly pawn off items. Sometimes enemies drop masks, hats, and hair which all serve as temporary upgrades. One wig might offer an additional jump (you have five “double jumps” by default). Others increase reload time or power of specific gun types. Kicking butt is what Platformines is all about and it definitely succeeds at this goal. Once you“ve got a few good weapons and have a handle on the controls, you can tear up enemies along your path with ease. Of course, certain areas grow tougher, but they prove to be a worthy challenge. Only by the end does it feel like the game has cranked the difficulty up too high. It“s a shame because, up to that point, it felt like a very fun, challenging game rather than an unfairly challenging one. One unusual thing to note is that there are no boss encounters or otherwise really special enemies. Instead, you“ll see about a dozen or so types that reappear in different color combinations and weapon loadouts during the journey. Still, the enemies are varied nicely with humans as well as creepy cube monsters. Beyond collecting parts to repair your ship, there are also random treasure chests scattered all over the map. Grabbing these is something you“ll do most often while on the path of a necessary item. They have a bright hue that helps you pinpoint them when near, although there might be spikes and saws that require careful dodging to reach one. Although required items aren't typically as well guarded, just getting to them can be a pain. The sprawling caves do connect, but often only via specific paths which means sometimes you end up encountering dead ends for quite a while before finally getting on the right path. Despite these issues, Platformines is still a heck of a lot of fun. Over the course of playing it, I intended to play for only an hour at a time and ended up playing for multiple in one sitting. Theoretically, you could probably even beat it in a day if you had 7 hours to spare and your hands don“t cramp up. The vast majority of playtime is fun thanks to its gigantic environment and tons of collectable loot. Platformines is highly recommended for players who have an itch to explore alongside blasting enemies to bits. Pros: + Fast platforming meshes well with shooting gameplay + Simply enormous map just begging to be fully explored + Loads of loot to collect on your way Cons: - Unexpectedly intense difficulty spike near the end of the game - Not enough upgrades to keep pace with said increasing difficulty - Randomly generated caves lead to many dead ends Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Platformines excels at being both an enjoyable 2D platformer and shooter as long as you don“t mind a few hiccups along the way. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the developer.
  22. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Gala Greenlight Bundle Offers 8 Games

    The Indie Gala people have been slowly expanding their empire by running multiple bundles at once. The newest is a Steam Greenlight bundle which offers a handful of indie games. Some have already been greenlit while others still require upvotes. Here's all eight titles: Deep Eclipse Frederic Resurrection of Music The Girl & the Robot alpha Hunter's Trophy 2 America Inescapable Loot Hero Rush for Glory Sinister City Currently purchasers can redeem all of these titles on Desura. Of course, each developer has also promised that Steam keys will be coming. Hopefully that proves to be the case once the games launch. Finally, if you're reading this post early enough, all games can be had for $1. The price is set to increase in a few hours, though.
  23. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Daylight

    Developer: Zombie Studios Publisher: Zombie Studios, Atlus Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: April 29, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Horror games have been around for a great many years, but as of late, they“ve seen a huge resurgence. The basic trend has been to move away from the action-style horror of modern series and attempt to distill horror to its most basic elements. Zombie Studios“ Daylight was announced as fitting squarely in the refreshed survival horror genre. Horror is a very temperamental thing which places Daylight in a precarious situation because it offers little else. The storyline of Daylight is incredibly simple at the onset. All you know is that you“re a woman named Sarah with a smartphone trapped in a dark, abandoned building. There are flourishes that make it seem like a hospital, but also bars and cells that would be at home in a prison. With both haunted hospitals and prisons being excellent settings for horror tales, it seems like a perfect setting. Although initially you are completely unaware of anything, your phone constantly maps the area as it is explored, effectively limiting the fear of the “unknown” so you don“t get lost. Gameplay is incredibly simple and focuses on one pattern. Players must explore the stage for a required amount of notes, find a special item, and take that item to a glowing sigil somewhere else. If you can do that about five times in a row then the game will be over. Of course, it“s not that simple. Along the way you“ll come face to face with a resident spirit that is severely unhappy with your presence. Sometimes she“ll appear with a burst of flames around her, just to add insult to injury. Staring at her for too long strains Sarah“s mental fortitude - possibly leading to a game over. This is where another element of gameplay comes in, although it“s very slight. Although the player has no weapons in an obvious sense, she can utilize flares scattered about the hospital to repel the ghost. There are also caches of glowsticks to be found. Although these have no impact on the spirit, they are useful for lighting up incredibly dark hallways. Oh, and they also cast interactable objects with a strange glow. In cabinets and lockers you“ll tend to find more light sources, letters, or nothing at all. Sometimes the cabinets will wiggle at you which is apparently meant to be spooky. Actually, a whole lot of Daylight focuses on the act of scaring rather than actually being scary. No matter how tough someone is, a good jump scare will make them jolt no matter what. Jump scares are exactly what the game aims for, by making sure to have that ghost meander about the hospital, always ready to scream when you turn around. Then there are all the rather lacking scares that come from the environment (boxes falling, drawers opening and shutting themselves, etc). The game never does anything to draw you in and take out your mental defenses. Instead, it is content with just trying to “boo” its way to terrorize. This seems to be an unfortunate result of the game“s randomly-generated nature. In theory it sounds extremely cool to have a horror game that always changes stages up. The concept leads one to imagine incredibly creepy atmospheres that will never grow stale because they“re never the same. Daylight definitely has a good deal of variety per stage upon replay, but it still can“t manage to create tension. Instead, you may go an entire stage without ever seeing the ghost while other times she“ll keep popping up in a very short time span. In the latter case, even the most jumpy players will eventually become desensitized. Randomness also taints the progression of story along the way. Each stage requires the collection of a certain amount of notes but there are far more available than you actually need. The overabundance helps the player from getting stuck for too long. However, it means there is not one well-crafted storyline to experience. Instead, there are scatterings of story threads but none of them are all that interesting. Because of the excess of papers, this also means that many feel repetitive. The writing itself is alright, but storytelling was definitely harmed by having to accommodate for a wealth of very similar text. On PS4, the text is also often hard to read due to being small and written with iffy color choices. Then there are the little things that just make the atmosphere too ridiculous to take seriously. For one, the voice of a Vincent Price-esque man pipes up through Sarah“s smartphone from time to time, spouting fragments of wisdom. What he“s hinting at is always fairly transparent, although if you don“t catch it, the game makes sure to spell it out in the final five seconds. Then there is Sarah herself who states the obvious randomly. She is understandably frightened, but her cries of “this is too much!” over tiny events are taken as silly rather than inspiring empathy. For all that Daylight manages to get wrong, it“s not completely without merit. The atmosphere in and of itself can be creepy if you let yourself slowly meander through it and manage to have the ghost randomized such that she doesn“t continually pester you. The game is about as far from psychologically scarring you as it can get which places it more in the category of haunted houses. Haunted houses are fun because you know what you“re in for when visiting. The same holds true for this game. Go into Daylight with a mindset of getting jump scares left and right for about an hour and you won“t be disappointed. Pros: + Good game to play with scaredy cats + Randomized areas have a great deal of variation Cons: - Storytelling is impinged due to the randomness of note-finding - Prioritizes (mostly non-frightening) jump scares over all else - Very short experience that doesn“t demand repeated playthroughs Overall Score: 5 (out of 10) Average If you“re a fan of tame haunted houses and would like to recreate the experience at home then Daylight should suffice.
  24. Harrison Lee

    Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth

    Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Publisher: Ubisoft Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3 Release Date: March 4, 2014 Rating: M for Mature This review is based on the PC version of the game Whether or not South Park: The Stick of Truth is the game for you can be answered with this question—do you like the South Park TV show? If so, there's absolutely no reason for you not to pick up one of the most irreverent, crass, clever and humorously-written RPGs ever made. If not, then you should probably stop reading because this game takes South Park's signature mature humor to gross new heights; no holds are barred and Trey Stone and Matt Parker put it all out there, for better or worse. This is easily the best South Park game ever made and may very well be one of the best interpretations of a TV/movie franchise translated to the video game world. The Stick of Truth finds our motley band of kids attempting their own live-action role-playing game (LARP). The whole cast, from series leaders like Cartman to the more obscure folks like Mr. Hankey's kids, all make some sort of appearance throughout. Very few cameos are left out and a lot of the game's best moments come from surprise appearances and the hilarious quests they often bring. Players take on the role of the New Kid in town. He's essentially nameless, save for a nickname rank you'll have to discover for yourself. You can choose one of four classes for New Kid, ranging from the classic Warrior to the rather un-politically correct Jew. With a class name like the latter, you can guess how the rest of the game is going to play out. Gameplay is fairly straightforward; you navigate a faithfully re-created South Park as a 2D side-scrolling adventure. New Kid will normally travel with one companion of your choosing who'll provide the occasional quip or advice. There's a fast-travel system in place that unlocks more locations as you continue to explore. Most buildings can be entered (though some will have...interesting occupants) and will have various hidden items and quests available. Later on you'll also unlock an alien teleportation probe that allows you to reach previously unavailable spots. Battles are initiated by clicking and attacking enemies you come across or by walking up to them. Combat is turn-based, but with the addition of minor quick-time events similar to the Mario RPG games. Attacks are usually straight-forward and come with some fun animations. The best attacks are the one-off, single-use screen-clearers you can find by exploring South Park; the best of which is Mr. Slave's assault, but I won't go into detail on that as it has to be seen to be believed! Loot is also fairly stream-lined. You'll find or buy all manner of weapons, clothes, equipment and patches that add buffed effects. Some quests will require you to wear certain outfits, including the Goth clothes. It's an amusing nod to some of the unique characters you'll find and doesn't always feel like fetch quests. I seldom needed to buy gear as enemies often dropped better stuff for me to use. In Canada, you'll find even more equipment to use; you'll need to exchange American cash for the Canadian currencies. The quality of The Stick of Truth's quests is almost always stellar. Some battles can be on the aggravating side, but when you get to fight Al Gore as ManBearPig, it's hard to complain. Of course, the writing and cutscenes are especially well-done. In fact, whole game is basically one entire, 12-hour South Park episode. It matches the show's content and aesthetics so well as to be a near perfect interpretation of the source material. Not all of the game's segments are the most thrilling, though; Canada's portion coming to mind. While the trip up north is a fun tribute to old, turn-based sprite RPGs, there just isn't enough to do in Canada. That said, I'm still glad they included it because some of the dialogue is just as funny as the stuff you'll find back in South Park. It would also be nice if the super-attacks didn't have to be found each of the game's three days in order to use them but I'm just grousing at this point. As I've said before, The Stick of Truth is a near perfect translation of the South Park shows. The entire game looks exactly like the show and the attention to detail is astonishing. There are scores of Easter eggs for fans of the show, and South Park is never for want of comedic incidents. There are a few bugs that have likely been patched out, including rats not leaving certain pathways for you to advance or text not triggering properly. I did have one game-halting moment when performing an operation in a certain clinic (can't spoil it) as the game refused to register my button presses, though I finally managed to get around it and, ironically, encountered even more bugs right after. Not the most fun I've ever had, but the game was smooth sailing from there. The audio is also stellar, using the voice cast from the show. Its music is whimsical and perfectly suits the game's tone. Just like the audio and visuals, the writing is consistently excellent and somehow manages to make the game's jokes feel fresh and fun throughout the 12-hour playtime. It's not always perfect, and some of the jokes border on going well past boundaries, but then again, this is a South Park video game. Would you expect anything less? South Park: The Stick of Truth is incredibly accessible and offers a rollicking, hilarious, and shocking good time, and for around $40 (or under if you wait for a deal), you can experience one of my newest favorite games. While the combat isn't exactly deep and the humor can be a tad excessive at times, there are so many reasons to love a game created for the South Park fan. This is an adventure that knows no boundaries, either in taste or fun. Don't miss out! Pros: + Incredibly well-written and animated + Cameos are non-stop + Plays exactly like the show + Humorous plot and clever jokes + It's fan-service of the good kind Cons: - Humor can push a few boundaries - Older versions suffer from some bugs Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic South Park: The Stick of Truth is an offensively amusing good time, packed with content and a love for the show.
  25. 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?
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