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Found 8 results

  1. barrel

    Review: The Swapper

    Developer: Facepalm Games/Curve Studios Publisher: Facepalm Games Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U Release Date: November 6, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Every time I heard about The Swapper after it arrived on PC mid-2013 it was almost always met with unanimous praise. But, because of my general anti-PC gaming sentiment, I stubbornly managed to ignore those positive voices until more than a year after. By now the cult-classic The Swapper has made its way to various other platforms including the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and now finally the Wii U, and has left me with no more excuses to not play it. Was it finally worth abandoning my ignorance under a rock or would my consciousness have been better placed elsewhere? For something that shares the E rating, The Swapper somehow manages to feel very unsettling. It“s not unsettling because the game is necessarily scary, but because it has a real strong sense of isolation and foreboding. This is communicated in a lot of ways from intriguing journal entries, ambiguous messages placed throughout, and the in-game visuals. The Swapper does a great job at crafting a real sense of atmosphere and smartly, but gradually, introduces you to its world and nuances. This carries over to the gameplay as well in regards to the puzzle/platformer focused design. There are two primary mechanics to keep track of, those being the Swap and Clone mechanics. The first of these introduced is the Clone mechanic in which you are able to create up to four duplications of yourself, and the second allows you to Swap between which of these clones you want to directly control. Though neither of these mechanics are completely unique to video games individually, it is how they are cleverly handled together that makes them feel consistently fresh during the experience. The crux of the gameplay is centered around exploring a space station and implementing those key mechanics to progress. The general flow of this involves collecting specific orbs, which are obtained in what are essentially puzzle rooms, and reactivating parts of the facility with those same orbs in order to help escape. Having said that, it does feel much less straightforward in the midst of actually playing because of the ambiguity of the setting and its many branching areas. What I like the most about the game design in The Swapper is how it doesn“t deliberately tell you what to do. From exploring the space station to learning more about what is going on narratively to naturally allowing you to figure out puzzle solutions for yourself, it generally respects the player's own ability to progress forward. Almost every puzzle adds an extra layer of depth to the established mechanics and smartly inverts how you arrive to solutions, sometimes literally. Puzzles get surprisingly complex, but they also become that much more satisfying when they are complete because the player knows full well what they did in order to figure it out. Still, the game does lose a bit of steam near the end for both puzzle design and, arguably, narratively as well. Some of the later puzzles feel rather devious because their solutions can be undone very quickly. This can be rather annoying considering how much prep work is required, including precision Clone placement and quick Swap timing, so you may inadvertently have to start over and not really feel like you entirely figured out what you did wrong. Another wrinkle is the abrupt endings. I'm sure they can spur philosophical discussions among more enthusiastic fans, but by themselves it feels like they aim more for the initial shock of a twist than addressing prior intrigue that is built up. These are both minor in the grander picture of its generally quite satisfying and smart puzzle design, but it is disappointing that it slightly undermines what is built up prior to it. As with Wii U port tradition, the gamepad serves as a multi-use secondary screen. It can be used to view the map, unlocked story logs, and can also be the primary screen. It“s nothing complicated, but it generally works well and I found it neat for the story logs in particular. When using the gamepad as the primary screen you can have the touchscreen replace commands that require the shoulder buttons, like the Swap/Clone mechanics. I occasionally used the touchscreen for Clone placement, just because analog placement can be rather fidgety at times, but its touchscreen usage is pretty negligible otherwise just because of the gamepad's inherent lack of quick multi-touch responsiveness. The Swapper is a refreshing take on puzzle-focused gameplay. It respects the player's own ability to progress by weaving some truly complex, yet satisfying puzzles while crafting a really strong sense of atmosphere to accompany them. It may have its head in the wrong place near the end due to some minor pacing missteps, but everything prior to it does a great job of playing with expectations as a rewarding, if not a bit ominous, puzzle/platformer title. Pros: + Strong sense of atmosphere that is both very interesting and unsettling + Very clever uses of its puzzle mechanics + Game design is pretty seamless and allows the player to naturally learn its nuances Cons: - Some puzzle solutions get pretty devious later on - Not very long and endings feel abrupt Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great In many instances The Swapper exudes intricate, rewarding puzzle design and an immersive sense of atmosphere that certainly warrants the curiosity of puzzle fans Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher.
  2. 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:
  3. solid-alchemist

    Proteus Review

    Proteus (PS3) Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga Published by Curve Studios Released October 29, 2013 Review Written February 16, 2014 Originally Posted on Boss Dungeon Not really knowing what I was getting into, Proteus is one of the few games I picked up during my Playstation Network winter sale binge. Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga this artistic odyssey leaves the player, or viewer I should say, with more questions than answers. With a minimalistic art style sprinkled with a musical undercurrent, this journey makes you want to believe it has more to offer. When you first begin Proteus your character awakens in the middle of the ocean a mile away from an island. Your character is actually less of a character and more of a floating, disembodied eyeball but that is fairly irrelevant. As you move out of the waters and trek upon the nearby beaches, you gaze upon the beautiful, minimalistic art style. With every step you are given a snowballing melody that adds to the bewilderment. Musical tones spring for every movement, every creature, and every plant. Not really knowing what you stumbled into, you continue on seeking answers. I“m singing in the rain!!! Proteus creates this peaceful, relaxing experience of meandering while maintaining its ambiguity in order to grab your interest for at least one playthrough. The biggest draw of Proteus is its ability to appease your inner wanderlust in the same vein as games like TESV: Skyrim or Fallout 3. Although only resembling those games through the innate desire to roam freely, Proteus brings forth its beautiful textures and sounds to inspire exploration. With a changing time cycle, weather cycle, four seasons, and randomly generated islands it can be somewhat of a different experience for each player but by much. There is just something calming about seeing pixilated clouds glide towards your screen and slowly release a downpour of rain. Adding more upon that, the pixilated art style is very soft in its presence. I really enjoyed the first moments I spent watching trees rustle in the wind through blocky textures like some 16-bit dance. The skyline is also the most breathtaking element within Proteus as dawn and dusk flow while a rare falling star glimmers in the corner of your screen. The visuals are definitely a key point of the game along with the musical tones, as they both help develop the serene nature throughout your journey. The controls to Proteus are as minimalistic as the entire game“s structure as well. You only have the ability to move, look, sit, and save. The minimal controls are meant to help promote your wanderment but I felt it holds the player back by lacking interactive buttons and this comes off as one of the flaws within the game; your character doesn“t really interact with the environment you are viewing. Some animals will run away when you approach them, but that is the only reaction you gain from wandering the island besides the handful of moments that will leave you audibly saying, “Whoa.†Without feeling like I was truly interacting with the island or able to do anything other than walk, I felt less like I was playing a game and more like I was viewing a digital art gallery throughout my one hour playthrough. This is what you get to work with. Looking at Proteus after completing it, I“ve been trying to distinguish if it can even be categorized as a game. Sure it has some gaming elements and is fairly linear in getting to the end screen, but it lacks what you find normally within a game; an objective or at least a straightforward one. This was the most frustrating aspect for me as there“s no sense of direction, no instructions, and no true interaction with the world you traverse. What“s the point of playing if there is no goal to complete? Sure the game starts out interesting and somewhat fun while searching with reckless abandon, but that novelty wears off after completing an hour. Proteus doesn“t offer many reasons to really return to the island to replay another session. Yet digging deeper into the basis of this game I found one objective the creators had intended for the player. Albeit very basic, the goal of Proteus is to just explore and be free. Strangely the game achieves influencing the player to explore as many players will begin to do so without realizing it. Even with that realization I still think Proteus is more of an hour long visual-musical experience than a game; a digital art display. Bees!! Fact: treating a bee sting has more objectives than this game. Proteus starts you off lost and confused, searching with questions when there are no answers. From a distance it appears that it doesn“t have much to offer, yet a peaceful hour long experience is left available for those willing to take it. I took a blind leap into this game and personally don“t feel the experience obtained from Proteus is worth the money. I“d say pass on it unless it sounds like something that will artistically appeal to your inner wanderer. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist
  4. Marcus Estrada

    Proteus Coming to PS3 and Vita

    Proteus was released near the start of this year and quickly saw a lot of attention. The strangely beautiful game was applauded by some and annoyed others. All the same, the game has seen great success on PC thus far. Curve Studios posted on the PS Blog to let everyone know they'll be handling bringing the title to Sony platforms. Here is what PR and marketing manager Rob Clarke had to say about what will differentiate the Vita and PS3 versions from PC: "Here at Curve we“ve been working with Ed to make the PS Vita and PS3 versions even better than the original, and over the next few months we“re going to have more information on how we“re using the power of PS3 and PS Vita to bring the absolute best Proteus experience to you guys." Unfortunately that means we don't have any details about how this is meant to be the de facto version, but we should hear more soon. Curve Studios was at least able to share the news that Proteus will be a Cross Buy game.
  5. The PlayStation Blog has been bustling today with news. The latest update on the site comes from Curve Studios who announced Stealth Bastard coming to PS3 and Vita. The neat stealth/platformer game originally came to PC and will be seeing its Sony centered launch during Summer. However, the game will be seeing a slight change when it arrives. No, nothing gameplay-wise is being altered. The name of the game has been called "too rude!" and needs to be renamed. As such, the developers are now running a contest to see who can come up with the best new name for their game. If you can come up with something that evokes the same feeling but without such naughty word usage then enter here before April 14th. The winner will be credited with their naming and get a Vita system and copy of the game. Stealth Bastard will also be a Cross-Buy title for PS3 and Vita. Keep an eye out for more info (and its new name) in the future.
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