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Found 751 results

  1. Zen Studios has been incredibly successful over the years with their licensed pinball adaptations, and next week they'll keep their streak going with a new two-pack based on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. One table will be based on the overall plot of the film, featuring the Resistance on the run from the First Order, Finn and Rose's side adventure to the casino world of Canto Bight, and the final showdown on Crait. The second table will focus on the other half of the movie -- namely, Rey's time on Ach-to with Luke Skywalker. You'll get to play through both tables in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi two-pack is released as DLC for Pinball FX3 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam as well as Mac, the App Store, and the Google Play Store on April 17. Check out the trailers for both tables below! Source: Press Release Will you be checking out the latest Star Wars-themed tables for Pinball FX3?
  2. 13AM Games' colorful platformer Runbow has been a modest hit for the indie developer over the past few years, releasing first on Wii U and then subsequently on other platforms. Now the Canadian indie team is ready to unveil its next game. Double Cross is an action-adventure game that puts players into the role of Zahra -- an agent of an interdimensional peace-keeping agency called R.I.F.T. (Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology) -- as she investigates an attack on the organization by an unknown assailant and must uncover their nefarious plans. One big aspect of the game will give players the ability to custom tailor their own play style by collecting Upgradium and using it to level up and unlock new R.I.F.T. gear. The game's adventure style investigation system also lets players tackle levels in the order they want. Double Cross is currently being planned for release on Nintendo Switch and Steam later this year. If you're going to PAX East, you'll be able to demo the game if you stop by publisher Grafitti Games' booth. Be sure to check out the game's initial trailer below. Source: 13AM Games Are you interested in checking out Double Cross?
  3. Dragon Quest fans, you can rest easy now. Square Enix has finally confirmed Dragon Quest XI's release date in the West; you'll finally get to play it in September. Of course, we had previously heard from Dragon Quest creator Yuji Hori that the game would be making its way westward in 2018 so this doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will purportedly have over 100 hours of content and will also offer changes not seen in the original Japanese release, such as an English voiceover track, a new mode called "Draconian Quest" (essentially a hard mode for more experienced players), overhauled menus and UI, a camera mode that allows players to take in views of the landscapes and character models, and a new dash function in addition to improved character movement and camera control. If you pre-order the game on the PlayStation store, you'll gain access to "The Legend Reborn" theme in addition to DLC items when the game launches. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will release on PlayStation 4 and Steam on September 4. You can check out some of the first footage of the Western version of the game below. Source: Press Release Are you excited for the release of Dragon Quest XI in the West?
  4. It's only February but this year is already off to a great start with game releases, and it's only going to get better this week as one of gaming's most classic RPGs gets a makeover -- Secret of Mana, that is. What is it? Originally releasing on Nintendo's SNES in 1993, Secret of Mana is the second entry in the Mana series (known as Seiken Densetsu in Japan), and the first to reach widespread acclaim. As an Action RPG, Secret of Mana was a sharp contrast to Square's more popular series, Final Fantasy. Instead of selecting and choosing your options in battle and then watching it play out, all of the action in Secret of Mana unfolded in real-time. Enemies bounced around the screen and lunged at your character while he (or she, depending on who your lead character was) brandished his sword to defend himself or dodge the attack. It was an approach not unlike the Legend of Zelda series, and one that was less common for its time. Why is it so beloved? It hits on almost everything any gamer wants out of a game. The visuals are bright, colorful, and appealing, and its sprite work and character design are among Square's most memorable from that time period. Its story -- about a boy who is unwittingly chosen to bear a legendary sword and then gets caught up in a war that decides the fate of the world -- has its share of great moments and twists and is generally evocative of the classic hero's journey. The streamlined battle system -- which made use of a circle of options that surrounded the character to select different options -- was fast-paced, fun, and intuitive. Last but not least, its soundtrack -- composed by Hiroki Kikuta -- is considered one of the best musical game scores to date. Also of note -- in the original SNES version, Secret of Mana was also one of the first big RPGs to let your friends play cooperatively with you. Traditionally, two players could control two of the game's characters as you played through the game, but if you had a special Multitap connected, up to three players could play together -- a revolutionary feat for an RPG at the time. What's new in this remake? Much like the recently released Shadow of the Colossus remake, Secret of Mana's visuals has been entirely redone, bringing the game into HD for the first time and using the same 3D engine that 2016's Adventures of Mana was built on. Also new to this version are added voice-overs, a newly arranged musical score, and upgraded gameplay improvements such as new Interlude Episodes that showcase new scenes between Randi and the various characters he encounters throughout the game. Where can I buy it, and what platforms is it coming out on? The game will be out digitally on PlayStation Network for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, as well as on Steam for PC users on February 15 for $39.99. However, if you want to buy a physical copy, boxed versions are being sold exclusively at Gamestop for all three platforms. Also, if you pre-order the game in either format (digitally or physically), you'll get access to special costumes for all three characters. Are you interested in buying the Secret of Mana remake?
  5. Ubisoft's Reflections studio has made quite a name for itself in recent years, from creating the critically-acclaimed Grow Home and its sequel, Grow Up, to being a support studio for larger Ubisoft games such as The Division, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Watch Dogs 2. Now they're releasing their third studio-developed game, called 'Atomega.' Though it's touted as an arena-based first-person shooter, this isn't your average, run of the mill, militaristic game. Atomega is pretty stylistically different from those games, as you control an abstract form that can collect mass and grow into increasingly powerful Exoforms as you battle it out with other players in 10-minute rounds. Check it out in the video below! Surprisingly, Atomega's release is imminent. Ubisoft has announced that the game will launch on September 19 exclusively on Steam. There's no word yet on whether the game will eventually be ported to consoles. Source: Ubisoft What are your thoughts on Atomega's announcement and imminent release?
  6. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Mages of Mystralia

    Developer: Borealys Games Publisher: Borealys Games Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Release Date(s): May 18th, 2017 (PC); August 22nd, 2017 (PS4) ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+ Official Website Note: This review is based on the PC version of the game I always appreciate when game developers try something new and different, opting to get creative with their craft rather than making their games carbon copies of other games. Perhaps the game has a really unique aesthetic that makes the game look like no other game out there. Or perhaps the game has a gameplay mechanic that hasn't been seen before. Developer Borealys Games is one developer whose action-adventure title Mages of Mystralia applies to the latter example. With a fresh new mechanic that allows for a unique and customizable magic-wielding adventure, Mages of Mystralia definitely has its charm, and a pleasantly colorful art style and beautiful soundtrack certainly help to emphasize that. But is that enough to make this game good? Or does Mages of Mystralia's flaws hurt it too much to make the game worth your time? What is Mages of Mystralia? Well, it's a game about mages, of course. To be more specific, the story involves a land (called Mystralia, funny enough) where mages, who once prospered, are now banned from society thanks to a mage-king from long ago who became mad with power and ...just plain ruined it for everyone. Gee, thanks a lot, dude. You play as Zia, a young woman who has recently awakened her arcane abilities. Unfortunately, in the process, her new yet uncontrolled abilities cause her house to burn down, her uncle perishing along with it. So yeah, she basically murdered her uncle by accident. Even though this game is fairly lighthearted, it definitely has its dark moments. After she flees from her village, she finds a fellow mage who introduces himself simply as Zia's mentor, since he decides to teach her the ways of the mage so she doesn't accidentally wreak havoc on Mystralia. After a transition involving Zia receiving a wand and a robe, the game finally kicks off. The story of Mages of Mystralia isn't really what I would consider a highlight, though. That's not to say it's terrible, in fact, I'd say it's fairly interesting, just that it's not really something you should look forward to since there's not a whole lot to it. But there are a couple of nice twists, even though they might be a bit predictable to some, and I enjoyed the development of Zia as a mage over the course of the game, so the story is still enjoyable. The real highlight of Mages of Mystralia is its gameplay. I've played games with customizable spells before, but none were quite like what this game has to offer. You basically have four main spell types - Immedi, Actus, Creo, and Ego. Seems simple enough, right? But then you have your runes, and that's where things get fun. You start with very few but gather much more as you do things like progress the story or solve various puzzles. And the more you have, the more you can put together with your four spells to create a plethora of different spells, from simple to chaotic. Want a spell that creates a clone of you that shoots fire out like a turret? Go ahead and make it. Want to shoot five fireballs that bounce off walls and shoot more fireballs upon impact with an enemy? You do you. Oh, and did I mention that you can change the element of any spell later on? Because you totally can. Which makes spell-crafting even deeper more fun. One thing that makes spell-crafting pleasantly challenging is this game's puzzles. There will be times when you have to create specific spells that will allow you to meet a given challenge, such as lighting several torches before a timer resets them. The best part about those particular puzzles is that they sometimes have multiple methods, some of which make the challenge a lot easier if you can conjure up the right spell. However, there's another type of puzzle that doesn't use your spells. With these, you basically move circles around a board until the arrows on them point to each other and the circles each light up. If I confused you just now, oh well. Just know that these are fun, too, if you like puzzles that make you feel smart afterward. Which I certainly do. Like with any game, it's hard not to find at least one gameplay flaw. Mages of Mystralia is no different. For one thing, I found that the controls could get in the way at times. For example, I fell off cliffs and into the water far too often because the controls didn't always get along with the camera angles in certain spots. Thankfully, you only lose a bit of health, but it still gets annoying. Maybe I just suck, but it seemed to me like an oversight that forces you to be extra careful to avoid pitfalls such as those. I also found it quite irritating when I got hit by an enemy, fell down, got back up and got hit again before I could even do anything. Seems like the whole invincibility frames thing could have been utilized a bit better. I noticed a few pretty bad glitches, too. Fortunately, they mostly helped me, like a couple of times when enemies fell through the floor and died or that time when my attack never dissipated and enemies kept getting hit by it. It should still get patched, of course. The game also has some sidequests, and while they are indeed a welcome addition, the lack of some sort of quest log makes it confusing to keep up with them. I also wish that the map was bigger (as in not just one overworld map of Mystralia but also maps of each individual area) and allowed you to mark it, or at least marked itself so you didn't have to constantly backtrack to find a single puzzle, item, or quest you couldn't get/pass before. These features are nice to have to keep you engaged, but could have been streamlined better. As far as looks go, Mages of Mystralia has a very charming art style. Rather than boasting high-end graphics, or even attempting something remotely close, Borealys Games chose a simpler, colorful aesthetic that is certainly pleasant to look at, which will actually help it age better in the long run. And it makes sense, considering this is an indie game, so it was a smart move to keep it simple instead of trying to be overly ambitious and making the game super ugly like some indie devs (and even some triple-A devs). Even with the simplistic graphical style, though, I did notice some lagging here and there. I'm not completely sure if it's the game's problem or mine, but my computer has run more graphics-heavy games without lag before, so I'm thinking Mages of Mystralia might have a framerate issue. I'll let you determine that yourself if you decide to purchase the game. It wasn't a game-breaker, but it was noticeable. Mages of Mystralia has a very pretty soundtrack as well. It's soothing to listen to while playing through the game, which is generally a plus with video game soundtracks. Beautifully written and beautifully orchestrated, composer Antoine Vachon did a splendid job composing a soundtrack that fits perfectly into the world of Mystralia. I can't think of much to say about the sound design, though, since there's really nothing noticeably bad about it. When characters talk, they make a vocal noise when a word bubble pops up, and it works fine. As do the spell-casting sounds, enemy sounds, various background sounds, and the voice acting heard in the beginning and ending cutscenes is pretty good. Maybe some players will notice something jarring, but everything worked just fine for me. All in all, Mages of Mystralia has a lot going for it, and I enjoyed my playthrough. Unfortunately, the game suffers a bit from somewhat flawed controls, a few glitches here and there, and lacks some features that make certain other features feel incomplete. But with its lighthearted yet occasionally dark story with some pretty good main character development, a delightfully creative and fun spell-crafting mechanic, a charming and pleasantly vibrant art style, and a beautiful soundtrack that fits the world perfectly, Mages of Mystralia is a good game that I recommend picking up. Pros + Lighthearted yet occasionally dark story with some pretty good main character development + Delightfully creative and fun spell-crafting mechanic + Charming, pleasantly vibrant art style + Beautiful soundtrack that fits the world perfectly Cons - Suffers a bit from somewhat flawed controls - Apparent glitches here and there - Lacks some features that make certain other features feel incomplete Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great A game that can easily be described as "The Legend of Zelda meets Harry Potter," Mages of Mystralia is a fun action-adventure game well worth your time thanks to its brilliant spell-crafting system alone, but also has vibrant visuals, a beautiful soundtrack, and enough other good qualities to push whatever shortcomings it may have off to the sidelines. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  7. Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code, a game with a name that sounds a bit on the random side, is a unique sort of fighting game. But is it any good? Or should you take a pass on this anime-style fighting game and just go back to playing Guilty Gear or BlazBlue? Travis Stywall has the verdict in his video review; check it out! Be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube so we have an excuse to keep making videos! And be sure to check out Travis' channel as well.
  8. Steam Greenlight launched nearly 5 years ago and hasn't been without its share of controversy ever since. What started as a slow drip of approving games by means of popular voting by the community in the beginning has become smaller developers' main chance at getting their games on the service. But today Valve has announced that they're pulling the plug on Steam Greenlight in order to make way for a different, more direct approach appropriately called "Steam Direct." This new path will require developers and publishers to submit a complete set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents -- similar to setting up a bank account, Steam says. Once that's all finished, developers will have to pay a recoupable application fee for each title that they want to distribute on the platform. Like the $100 fee for Steam Greenlight, Valve is doing this to "decrease the noise" in the submission pipeline. However, the new fee has not been decided yet. Valve mentioned that it might be anywhere from $100 to as high as $5,000. Needless to say, that fee range has not sit well with many indie developers since the announcement of Steam Direct was made -- including Vlambeer's Rami Ismail, who stated in a couple of tweets: "I've always disliked monetary barriers as 'quality assurance'. I insist money & quality aren't related. Some poor devs make amazing games, and some rich studios only release horrible copy-paste jobs." Valve is still gathering input from developers on the matter before making a final decision. In the meantime, expect to hear more about Steam Direct as we get closer to its release, which is targeted for sometime this Spring. Source: Steam Community What do you think of Valve's approach with Steam Direct taking Steam Greenlight's place?
  9. Arc System Works is traditionally known for their Guilty Gear and Blazeblue fighting franchises, though they've worked on other smaller games as well. But recently, the Japanese developer has been experimenting with publishing games that are a bit outside of what they do. Case in point -- they're publishing a cartographing sim called Neo Atlas 1469 from developer Artdink. Set in 15th century Europe, you'll command explorers as they set off to map the uncharted world at the time, discovering new trade routes, materials, and products along the way. The world will begin to take shape based on the information you approve -- some may return with tales of mythical creatures while others will be more mundane but valid. It's up to you to decide what to believe. In all, the game sounds intriguing. If you've played Atlus' Etrian Odyssey games, you'll have already gotten a taste of how addicting it can be to create your own maps, and with Neo Atlas 1469's sim elements added to the mix, it sounds like it could be one of the most unique games out thus far this year. Neo Atlas 1469 arrives on Steam on February 15 at a price point of $29.99, but will launch with a 10% discount for a limited time. Check out the trailer below. Source: Press Release Are you interested in checking out this game?
  10. 2017 seems set to see a renaissance of 3D platformers, with the likes of A Hat in Time, Super Mario Odyssey, and Poi (among others) all releasing over the course of the year. First up to release will be PolyKid's Poi, which had been in Early Access for a little over a year now. The game's plot focuses on two kids who are "on a grand adventure to unravel the mysteries of the Milky Way Globe." Overall, it looks pretty nifty. The inspiration derived from 3D Mario platformers is pretty apparent when you take a look at the trailer, and it's a great sign to see the game look and play a lot like it, yet with its own unique twists (taking pictures of animals and such, for example). You'll get a chance to explore the world of Poi yourself when it releases in full on Steam on February 1. Be sure to check out the trailer below! Are you looking forward to Poi?
  11. Maybe not technically a deal, but I saw this on CAG and figured I'd post it here too for anyone who doesn't frequent those forums - the first episode of Telltale's Batman series is currently free to download and play on Steam from now until November 7th! Just head over to the game's page here, scroll down a bit till you "Episode 1 - click here to download" with a big banner under it, click it and start installing the episode. I played it earlier and it convinced me to buy the season pass even though all the episodes aren't out, so check into it if you're on the fence!
  12. Harrison Lee

    Review: Valley

    Developer: Blue Isle Studios Publisher: Blue Isle Studios Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One Release Date: August 24, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PC version of the game I went into Valley relatively blind. I“d seen a trailer or two, but didn“t dig around too much. With a fairly boilerplate name, Valley is one of the most inconspicuous adventure titles of the year. That“s a shame, because it“s easily one of the best experiences I“ve had in quite some time. If you have any interest in supernatural sci-fi, world-building lore, evocative soundtracks, and Sonic the Hedgehog, stop reading and grab Valley right now. Still not convinced? Then read on about one of 2016“s early sleeper hits. Many have described Valley“s opening sequence as a walking simulator. That“s an apt description, but doesn“t hold true for very long. The protagonist (either male or female, depending on your preference) is searching the Rocky Mountains for a mystical artifact called the Lifeseed. The Lifeseed is said to contain untold power, one that could alter the fabric of reality if used. The protagonist, however, isn“t the first to have sought the artifact out. During World War II, the U.S. military attempted to harness the Lifeseed“s power, relying on L.E.A.F. suit-equipped “Pathfinders” to lead the charge. Before the player can get to the Lifeseed, he or she has to follow suit and strap on an abandoned L.E.A.F. suit. I mentioned Sonic the Hedgehog for a reason. The L.E.A.F. suit is the closest thing to replicating the immense feeling of speed that the Sonic series is known for. Using the mechanical exosuit, players can run down hills, make death-defying leaps, and shoot beams of life-restoring energy at dying creatures. Everything in Valley is tied to the suit, including the central narrative. Much of the plot occurs well before the player has arrived. Audio logs embedded in the suit pace the story along, drip-feeding story beats as the player moves throughout the titular valley. The narrative is fairly compelling, and I found myself decently enthralled by the conflict between several characters. Though all the people on the island are long-since deceased, the well-acted voice-overs make it feel as though their actions were recent. The L.E.A.F. suit also has a few extra features, including a grappling hook and magnetic boots. Some of these abilities won“t come into play until late in the game, which is something of a minor disappointment. The end-game platforming stages, including a few thrilling tunnel runs, are a genuine joy to bound around in. Numerous secrets are also littered throughout the environment, so it pays to take the less-trodden path if you want a few convenience upgrades for the suit. Journal entries provide additional backstory, coloring the lore of the forgotten valley. Death is one of Valley“s central themes, and the L.E.A.F. suit grants some truly unique characteristics. The first is a pseudo-immortality, whereby the suit transfers the user to alternate reality where they didn“t die should he or she meet an untimely end. While the suit allows for quick reality swaps, it comes at the cost of some form of life in the valley. Luckily, the player can replenish the valley“s health by shooting energy at dead trees and animals. If the suit“s energy is running low, just grab a few floating blue orbs or suck the life out of some other creatures. The messaging, clearly, is not so subtle. The second ability the L.E.A.F. suit provides is the ability to fight off monstrous spirits. These beasts will try to sap you of your energy, and battles become a small test of balancing energy consumed from shooting and energy lost from being hit. There“s even a boss battle later in the game, but the combat is never more than a distraction. It only serves to add variety to the relatively short experience. The platforming and story are clearly the central stars here. Valley is visually stunning, with gorgeous particle effects and level aesthetics rewarding your investment. The soundtrack is equally strong, standing alongside some of the best music composed in any genre. I“ve heard reports of some object-clipping and players getting stuck on level geometry, but I only encountered this once or twice. The only complaint I have is that checkpoints aren“t frequent enough. Valley can be completed in just a few hours, but having to restart entire areas over is a tad tedious if you need to temporarily quit the game. Unlike some titles, Valley has a very distinct beginning, middle, and conclusion. While the ending is somewhat dark, the narrative reaches a fitting finale that ties several loose ends. The plot isn“t overly complicated, but it“s nice to see the game pay attention to its own explanations of theoretical physics and the lore of the world. If, by chance, you pick Valley up, I would recommend passing on gathering all of the medallions. The in-game narrative tells you they“ll open up a secret temple, but the rewards are a bit underwhelming. There“s probably a metaphor for greed in there. Valley is an under-the-radar title that should be anything but. It“s a riveting action-adventure game, bolstered by a strong plot and rich soundtrack. If you have a few hours and a need for speed, surrender yourself to the Lifeseed and see what Valley has to offer. It“s existentialist and spiritual meanderings don“t always land, but it“s a fun ride all the same. Pros + The L.E.A.F. suit makes Sonic blush + Gorgeous visuals and an amazing soundtrack + Great plot and some neat lore Cons - Some lore is a bit underdeveloped - Inventory management feels unnecessary at times Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Valley is an under-the-radar title that should be anything but. It“s a riveting action-adventure game, bolstered by a strong plot and rich soundtrack. If you have a few hours and a need for speed, surrender yourself to the Lifeseed and see what Valley has to offer. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  13. https://techraptor.net/content/steam-score-will-no-longer-include-reviews-activated-product-keys Dunno if you guys had heard yet, but Steam is no longer including reviews activated by keys (which would include both review codes and keys that come from bundles and the like). This means that the only reviews for Steam games will now be by those who purchased the game directly on the Steam website or client. I guess this is to help crack down on unfair reviews and the like, but I'm not sure how I feel about this. Granted, I've never really given too much credence to Steam reviews, especially since most people seem to leave good reviews if the game plays all right. Like Gaiages once said, if a Steam game has negative reviews, it's usually because it's extremely buggy or doesn't play well; otherwise, most legit games (made from non-amateur developers) generally will get positive reviews if everything runs well, despite how the gameplay is. In any case, I'm not too affected by this since I never left reviews on Steam (or even looked at others'), but this should have an interesting effect on the scores in the future. What do you guys think? Is Valve going about this the wrong way? Or do you think they're making the right move by eliminating reviews from games activated by keys?
  14. We currently live in an age where Video Games have become a transcendent form of multimedia. From the days of Home Pong back in 1975 to the Playstation 4, Video Games have become integrated into the entertainment industry. The reason for this is because of the amount of creativity game designers have exhibited with their vast worlds and wonderful landscapes. But even more so, it is because of the stories being told by video games evolving beyond anything most motion pictures could ever tell. But if this is the case, why does it seem we like we are living in an era of remasters and re-releases? Allow me to digress for a moment by saying that there is nothing wrong with remasters and re-releases. A lot of the games that have recently received the Next Gen treatment look absolutely stunning in comparison to their original versions. Also, reliving the wonders of games like Shadow Complex (which recently received a remastered version) reminds you of just how amazing they were during your first play through. I would never knock the prospect of replaying so many stories and reliving memories from gaming's past via a new piece of hardware. Still, it seems as if these practices are becoming a creative crutch. Shadow Complex Remastered (Screenshot Courtesy of videogamer.com) Let's take a moment to look back to the seventh generation of gaming consoles. Original stories were vast ocean of possibilities despite if they were coming from new IPs or already existing ones. We saw the Master Chief end his campaign against the Covenant. We dove deep into the reaches of insanity by exploring the mind of Alan Wake. We became morally conflicted as we traveled across the galaxy in the universe of Mass Effect. There was so much originality oozing from game studios! Now, we are receiving an influx of remasters and stereotypical military shooters. After E3 2014, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Nintendo's mascot, Mario) spoke out about the mind-numbing amount of bloody shooters which dominated the press conferences that year. "To some, it might have seemed as though there wasn't a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry." Mario Creator, Shigeru Miyamoto (Courtesy of wiiudaily.com) Was Miyamoto correct? Is the lack of creativity attributed to creative immaturity? It is true that despite the home console market being eight generations in, video games is still a very young industry as a whole. But given some of the strong showings of 2015, one could argue that this couldn't possibly be the case. The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt, which received several Game of the Year awards, had one of the most compelling stories of this current console generation. Clearly, developers are capable of giving us new and engaging plots to sink our teeth into. So, what's stopping them? In an article from theguardian.com, Holly Nielson said something that rings true to the current state of the industry from my personal opinion. "Creativity begins with how we feel and how we see and present ourselves as people. This industry isn“t just dressing identically, it draws its inspiration from the same music, movies and books. This homogeneity leads to staid ideas." This begs me to ask the question, has the gaming industry stopped feeling as a whole? What happened to games which made you invoke a certain emotion? What happened to worlds and plots which prompted you to become emotionally invested in the characters? Has the industry stopped caring about the creative aspects of the industry? I don't think that's the case. I feel like this might be a horrible case of writer's block. Besides, there are plenty of games coming this year that will test the limits of the imagination. The gaming industry as a whole must, in lamens terms, get their sugar together. We are soon to enter the four year of the current console generation. It's time to give us the glorious worlds and plots that engulfed us during the previous generation. It can be done. They just need,..a little imagination.
  15. I was looking at my purchase history on Steam earlier and noticed that basically everything I've bought in the last several months has been discounted to some degree, which is no surprise - we all know Steam does constant deals, what with weeklong sales, daily deals, midweek, and weekenders. Then of course there's the numerous other sites that sell Steam keys, which of course have their own discounts and deals going on all the time too. And with so many games having launch discounts and going on sale regularly within months, you almost have to TRY to pay the MSRP for a Steam game. So with that in mind, I thought I'd ask - how often do you pay full price for Steam games? And I mean full full price, because even a paltry 10% off is still a discount. For me, it's almost never. As I said I was looking at my recent-ish purchase history, and the only ones I paid full price for were Tales of Zestiria and Mighty Switch Force! Hose it Down (which is like $3 anyway). Both of them were worth it I think (even if the Tales of Symphonia port I got for pre-ordering Zestiria was a disaster) though I still need to finish Zesty Tales, haha. Literally everything else I went through was discounted to some degree, even if it was just a little 10-20% launch discount. There have been several games I've jumped on at launch, but always found some way to get them cheaper, since it's really not that hard to find some kind of sale/coupon/whatever I can use on various sites. Anyway, how about you all? Remember any games you paid the full price for? Was it worth it, or did you regret it later?
  16. I consider myself a reasonable(ish) person, one who“s usually slow to anger unless I“m navigating THOSE FREAKING MEDUSA HEADS in Castlevania. Whenever a company makes a business decision I don“t agree with, I try to look at it objectively and think of the many reasons why it could be a good thing, and why they thought they should go ahead with their plans. Not this time though, as Microsoft has gone and made a baffling decision involving PC gaming that makes me want to throw an Xbox off a balcony into a pile of other broken Xboxes and possibly even switch to Linux while I“m at it. That decision was leaving Steam and Windows 7/8 users in the dust for their upcoming PC game releases. Someone get me a sledgehammer. Let“s start with a little background though – we all know and possibly love Steam, right? It“s a great service for buying digital PC games, since you can keep them all in one tidy library instead of having to remember where you bought what game if you need to retrieve a download link again. Sure, there are other services like Origin and GOG Galaxy, but the massive number of available games on Steam absolutely dwarfs the competition, from indies to AAA to everything in between, it“s almost all on Steam. Steam also has a large community that's usually willing to help resolve issues, so you don't have to wait for Valve to take your number. Isn“t it great to have such a wide variety of games new and old, and a thriving community supporting them, all in one easy place? Apparently Microsoft doesn“t think so, at least, not anymore. Sure, if you have a look right now, you“ll see some Microsoft Studios published games such as Mark of the Ninja and Ori and the Blind Forest. But those are the last ones you“re likely to see with Microsoft“s new outlook, as part of their supposed commitment to delivering the same quality Xbox games to PC gamers. Why is that? Because Microsoft, in all their infinite wisdom, has decided that you had better be using Windows 10 and Windows 10 ONLY if you wanna play their newest games on PC, because they“ll only be available on the Windows 10 Store. Got Windows 7 and wanna play Quantum Break on PC? Tough cookies, sonny, you“d better upgrade that operating system or get yourself an Xbox One. You didn't want this anyway, right? So what the hell are they thinking? Locking their PC games to Windows 10 is no different than locking a game to Xbox One specifically, because you still need a specific system just to play the game. They are taking the console-exclusive approach and applying it to what should be a “free system†of sorts, where any range of machines with varying operating systems and configurations have access to the same games. Who does this benefit besides Microsoft? Absolutely no one, that“s who. It gets their newest OS in more hands so they can make the numbers look good, and having the games exclusive to the Windows Store means more money for Microsoft and no sharing with the likes of Valve. If you“re waiting on me to try and find a way this helps the consumer, you“re gonna be waiting a while. It means not being able to shop around for a good price. It means only having one "official" source of support if something goes wrong. And if you already hate having to use Origin for EA games, it means splitting your PC library up across different services even more. It's not even so much that games aren't available on Steam, though that is annoying. It's that they can't be played if you don't have one specific operating system, despite how almost every developer and publisher besides Microsoft (remember Halo 2's Vista-only compatibility?) optimizes their games for various versions of Windows, and sometimes other OSes like Mac or Linux. Now, I“ll be fair and note that Windows 10 is technically free to upgrade to, and you can upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, so there“s no real reason you can“t actually play the games that will come to Windows 10 Store if you“d like. Therein lies another problem, though – not everyone wants this “upgrade.†Some people are just fine and happy using an older version of Windows, and see no real reason to switch, even with the promise of being able to play stuff like Killer Instinct or Gears of War Ultimate Edition. Oh, and another problem? Since Windows 10 was developed and released after most currently available games came out and stopped being supported, there are a handful of games with compatibility issues ranging from save files disappearing to DRM not working (which you might notice means you can“t even play the game) to sound issues and more. How is that an upgrade if you“re already an avid PC gamer? Notice how the light is on the outside of the window. You'll find only darkness within. I“m willing to admit I“ve always been biased against Microsoft, and this is just another in a long line of missteps that keeps me snuggled in the arms of Sony and Nintendo. It doesn“t help much that I“m quite comfortable using Windows 7 and have no desire to change it if I don“t have to. But I don“t think I“m alone when I say that this new approach to PC gaming is a huge step back from the tried and true method of, you know, distributing PC games across various digital stores and optimizing them for use on different operating systems. It“s a step that only goes one way – in Microsoft“s direction. In their sudden rush to bridge the gap between Xbox and PC gaming, they ended up making them basically the same thing. I suppose no amount of complaining is realistically going to change their new stance on PC gaming though, and that stance boils down to “get Windows 10 or get bent.†So anyway, there's my rant on how annoying it is that I won't be able to play Killer Instinct without an Xbox One or Windows 10. How do you feel about Microsoft's commitment to only releasing games on Windows 10? Maybe you don't care because you already upgraded to Win10, or maybe you don't care because you don't play PC games. Maybe you're just as annoyed as I am! Whatever the case, let me know how you feel in the comments!
  17. Hey everyone, I have some Steam keys to give away. Mostly from some VN bundles I bought. I don't feel like making a real contest for these (frankly their quality doesn't really support it), so I'm just giving them away. But, you must have the following: - An account here (duh) - Either a post in the New Members forum or 50 posts - An avatar (it takes like ten seconds, get over it) Anyway, here's what's on offer. My apologies if a few of the codes don't work, a couple of them are... old. So just ask for whichever ones you want! And please don't ask for more than two a day. Let others have a chance and all that. Samorost 2 Megabyte Punch Tokyo Hosto A Wild Catgirl Appears! Echo Tokyo: Intro Quantum Conscience Divine Slice of Life Beach Bounce Enjoy! Oh, btw... maybe if you grab one or two of the weirder ones, they might make for a good blog impressions piece. Just saying. ;p
  18. Hola one and all, Thought it would be a good idea for us Podunkers to put our heads together and recommend the best deals and/or great deals on overlooked games. I'll start off with a few- Undertale - $7.99 $9.99 (20% off) Probably the biggest hit indie sensation this year. If you haven't played it yet, you've got to try it. There's literally nothing else like it at the moment. Spelunky - $3.74 $14.99 (75% off) Tough as nails spelunking adventure game! Not much intro needed for this one; it's one of the most beloved indie games of the last few years or so. The Fall - $1.99 $10.99 (80% off) Puzzle-solving, action sidescroller game with a dark, sci-fi story and atmosphere. I haven't played it yet, but Giant Bomb and others have raved about it on Game of the Year podcasts from earlier years. Civilization V - $7.49 29.99 (75% off) Probably the definitive real-time strategy game of the last five years. Has overwhelmingly positive reviews on the site. I might add more to this as I find other stuff too. If you can, please help contribute to this thread with more recommendations!
  19. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins

    Developer: K Bros Games Publisher: K Bros Games Platform: PC and Mac (Steam) Release Date: October 28, 2015 ESRB: RP for Rating Pending Official Website In the realm of video games, the independent scene has opened the door to a countless number of developers who otherwise would probably not have gotten the chance to release their dream games. Sometimes the result is a masterfully-crafted, one-of-a-kind work of art, while other times you get quite the contrary. And then you get games that are somewhere in-between. Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins -- episode one of a four-episode game -- is somewhere in that gray area. Speaking of gray areas, the game itself has plenty of those. That's one thing you'll notice right away, and you'll love it. In fact, Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins has quite a few things to love about it. But as it's floating somewhere between a masterpiece and a pile of garbage, in a Limbo of sorts (the similarities with the game Limbo is purely a coincidence and had no bearing on what I wrote here), the game also has quite a few things to hate about it. So then, is it worth playing? Albert & Otto's plot is both darker than I expected and better than I expected. The game opens up with the sister of the protagonist -- the Albert of the game's moniker -- sitting outside their house with her beloved stuffed bunny Otto before a mysterious shadow comes by and whisks her away. And so Albert, armed with a gun for some reason, sets out to save her. Early on, you find Otto, alone, and take him along for the ride to help you on your journey. But throughout that journey, through letters picked up along the way with pictures drawn by none other than your sister, you start to learn that what's going on goes much deeper than a simple damsel-in-distress story. Much like Limbo, the story of this game is told very quietly. There's no text or voice that tells you what's going on, and yet it's not all that difficult to figure it out. You can piece together what really happened to your sister fairly easily (as much as episode one reveals, at least), and if you're perceptive enough, you can also tell that the game is set in pre-World War II Germany. Although, I kinda just told you, so I guess you don't have to be all that perceptive... Anyway, the dark nature of the plot and setting make the story of Albert & Otto quite compelling. And even though there are aspects of this game that will infuriate you to no end, you might find yourself too interested in the story to call it quits until the credits roll. I mentioned before that you'll love the grayness in the world of Albert & Otto. And while you may have a different taste in art styles, it's most certainly what I liked most about the game. Inspired by the early stop-motion works of Tim Burton, nearly the entire game is in black-and-white with a few exceptions, such as Otto himself being red -- reminiscent to the little girl wearing the red dress in the movie Schindler's List (which interestingly also takes place in Germany, only during World War II). The minimalist aesthetic adds a lot to the game's somewhat depressing tone, which all makes for a pleasantly atmospheric experience. The music in Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins also does a nice job in complimenting the plot and setting, lending itself well to the atmospheric nature of the game. It's nothing that really stands out as anything more than the game's background score, but it's a score that fits the experience nicely. Especially when you hear who I assume is your sister humming every so often, which I find to be beautifully eery. But not all is well with Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins. While the story is intriguing and the aesthetics beautiful, where the game falls short lies within its gameplay. Look, I'm up for a challenge and all that, but there's a difference between a well-crafted challenge and a cheap, unfair challenge that relies less on thought and skill and more on trial-and-error. I liked some of the puzzles, since the game does have some well-crafted, skill-based ones, but I found myself dying far too many times while attempting a lot of them. Mostly because quite a few puzzles give you very little time to think about the solution. Like with the two bosses in this particular episode. It's infuriating that you have to keep dying just to solve a puzzle. And in the case of the second boss, once you FINALLY beat him, a task made unnecessarily difficult thanks to the game forcing you to move almost impossibly fast, the game throws a bird at you that you can't see because it's off-screen until it attacks you and you can't hear because the end of the boss song is too loud. And it wouldn't be that big a deal if the checkpoint system was thought out more logically. There are simpler moments when checkpoints are very close together, but then when you need a checkpoint the most, you don't get one and have to restart way, way back if and when you die. It also doesn't help that there are some problems with the game's physics. Your ability to levitate objects gets extremely frustrating when the object you grab starts moving around wildly and it takes too much time to calm it down. It's not that bad during puzzles you can solve at your own pace, but it becomes a grave annoyance during the ones with very short time limits. There's also one aspect that I just found oddly sloppy from a development standpoint, where when you die and go back to the last checkpoint, you start moving again before the previous event is even over. I appreciate fast loading times, but at least give the world time to catch up with the player. With all of this game's downsides in terms of gameplay, though, I will give it kudos for one thing; there's an area where you have to use a burning sheep as a torch to see in the dark. Now THAT is awesome. I can't say I've done that in any other game before. Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins isn't a bad game, but it does have problems that unfortunately weigh it down, keeping it from being as great as it potentially could have been. The story is great, though, the game has a gorgeous art style, and the score compliments the game's atmospheric tone nicely, so it certainly has its upsides. It's just unfortunate that I didn't like this game as much as I was hoping to. Hopefully the problems are dealt with and episode two turns out better. As for episode one, I'd say if you have $5 to spare, it's a decent enough investment. If you like Limbo, then this game is worth trying. Pros: + Very deep and symbolic story, however quietly it is told + Gorgeous Tim Burton inspired art style + Beautiful score that compliments the atmospheric tone + USING A BURNING SHEEP AS A TORCH Cons: - Cheap, unfair challenges that rely too much on trial-and-error - Problems with the game's physics - Some sloppily-developed parts Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent With an intriguing story and a beautiful aesthetic, Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins has its upsides. Unfortunately, its downsides keep it from being as great as it potentially could have been. A downloadable code was supplied by the publisher for this review
  20. Last year, we were met with a Harvest Moon game that wasn“t actually part of the long-lived Bokujou Monogatari farming series. You see, XSEED is now publishing the Bokujou Monogatari games in North America. But because Natsume owns the rights to the Harvest Moon name, XSEED couldn“t title the recent Story of Seasons as such. Natsume decided to take advantage of the fact that they still had the Harvest Moon name, and so they delivered their own brand new creation called Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley for 3DS. This Minecraft-esque farming simulator paled in comparison to the Bokujou Monogatari series and was extremely repetitive and empty. It seems Natsume hasn“t given up hope, however. They“ve listened to fans“ criticism of The Lost Valley and are aiming to make a (hopefully) better game with Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories. Very eager to see how different this upcoming title from Natsume would be, I had the lucky opportunity to try Seeds of Memories out at E3. Natsume boasts that Seeds of Memories is “inspired by the old-school gameplay of the very first games.†If you couldn“t guess from that, yes, Seeds of Memories has a top-down 2D view like the older Harvest Moon games versus The Lost Valley“s completely 3D one. The graphics alone already show a definite improvement over those of The Lost Valley. While it“s not a complete throwback to the days of old with pixels and such, it“s still a nice 2D cartoony art style that suits the game. Unfortunately, Natsume“s demo for Seeds of Memories at E3 didn“t really go into gameplay such as taking care of crops or animals. All it had you do was go around the town and talk to villagers. “Wait, Leah. Did you say ”town“?†I most certainly did! If you played The Lost Valley, one of the first things you probably noticed was the lack of a town, which was one of the biggest factors in making the game feel terribly empty. Thankfully, Natsume realized how important such a thing was in these types of games and implemented one in Seeds of Memories. Seeds of Memories“ plot is pretty basic as far as Harvest Moon games go. Basically, you must “unlock the titular Seeds of Memories†by performing tasks such as giving a villager their favorite item or catching a giant fish. In a way, this premise sounds very much like collecting musical notes in Harvest Moon: Magical Melody for the GameCube. If you liked that particular Harvest Moon title, then Seeds of Memories might be right up your alley. Natsume hopes to release Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories sometime this winter for Wii U, Steam, iOS, and Android. While the demo that Natsume presented at E3 didn“t really show much to judge it properly, I am really hoping that Seeds of Memories is a lot better than The Lost Valley.
  21. Guess who's back with another Steam giveaway? Well, I guess you don't really have to guess since I'm the one making the post, but anyway, that's what I'm doing, so listen up if you want a chance to win one of two Steam games! I've got two Steam keys for a game from both Marvel and DC - one is Lego Marvel Superheroes, and the other is Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. If you fancy winning one of these games, you'll have to make a choice - Marvel or DC? That's right, to enter this contest, you'll have to prove your allegiance: If you want to win Lego Marvel Superheroes, tell me at least one thing that makes Marvel better than DC. If you want to win Scribblenauts, do the opposite - one reason DC is better than Marvel. You can only win one or the other, so choose wisely! IMPORTANT STUFF -The contest is for one (1) Steam key for Lego Marvel Superheroes and one (1) Steam key for Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. There will be two winners, one for each game. -The contest will run from the time of this post until 3:00 PM EST on Sunday, May 24. The winner will be announced shortly afterwards. -Everyone is eligible, staff included. -This contest isn't endorsed or anything by WB Games (or GamePodunk, for that matter), I just put them in the tags since it's relevant. And...I think that's it. So get those entries in, and good luck! We'll see you Sunday, same bat-time, same bat-channel, true believers!
  22. It might be hard to recall, but there was a time when a program by the name of Steam was detested by gamers. Alongside Valve“s release of Half-Life 2 was a new requirement that players needed Steam in order to access the title. However, the software barely had any functionality at all and was prone to crashing. This was in 2004. Today, invoking Steam“s name results in a very different opinion. Many gamers flock to Steam as their number one choice for purchasing digital PC games. In fact, there are many out there who go so far as to state they won“t buy a game until it has come to Steam. Yes, you can add your own game files to the program and launch through it, but that isn“t the same. There“s something to actually owning a game on Steam and increasing that collection amount. Of course, then there“s the much-loved Steam holiday sales which through copious deals around day after day, some of which price games at incredible discounts. Valve has had a very good last few years thanks to Steam. But it seems like it might soon begin to fall out of favor with its massive user base. A handful of policy changes have been rolling out over the past few years which are now becoming a large portion of the store. These include the Steam Greenlight and Early Access initiatives. Both seek to allow more titles onto the service without having to go through Valve“s slower and one at a time approach of the past. But shouldn“t more games being made available be purely positive? Yes, it is exciting that any game has the chance at Greenlight success. However, there are many issues with the program (that Valve itself acknowledges). As long as Greenlight stays as is, however, these issues will remain as sticking points. One of the biggest issues is the fact that it ends up being a popularity contest. Games that best know how to market themselves, have an existing fanbase, are able to bribe users, or happen to be from a popular genre (horror) always take the lead. Well, the point of Greenlight is to let the players choose, isn“t it? The main problem with that is the majority audience is simply unaware of what they“re voting for in droves. Sometimes it“s obvious, such as a well-known mobile game or indie success outside of Steam. Then there are other games that provide gorgeous screenshots or cool concepts that get voted up into being Greelit quickly. And then they come out and… it“s not pretty. Many Greenlight games are excellent and add a much needed facet of the Steam Store. However, there are other games that are absolutely broken or horrendous in other ways that make it through. Managing to fool players is rewarded and Steam isn“t able to say no. After all, they can“t exercise quality control as that goes against the rules of Greenlight. While this is a great positive for small games that otherwise would never get past Valve, but also lets in drivel. Without mentioning names, I have already wandered into many Steam Communities to see players distressed, annoyed, or rightly angry at developers for not fixing their clearly broken titles. There were some questionable games on Steam before, but at a lesser amount than there are now. Alongside this trend is the Early Access program. Steam devised it as a way to get currently in development games onto the store. By doing so, the developers may speak more directly with fans, gauging their desires as well as getting reports on glitches. At its core, it is a very helpful service for developers and a neat way for players to feel like they“re helping shape a product. What could go wrong? So far, very few games have made it out of Early Access so it“s hard to tell where this will lead, but right now there“s a lot of trouble. Some developers seem keen on squashing any criticism on their respective Steam Community, completely voiding the point of being on Early Access. Others have in the past asked for egregious amounts of money. There“s no guarantee that these games will even ever reach a finished state. As no one has outright stated they quit development, we can“t tell how Valve will or will not choose to reprimand them. Some games are progressing nicely, while others appear to have gone live at super early states and not gotten far since. On one hand, it is an exciting prospect that Steam will eventually be a very “open” storefront. However, thanks to many poor quality games arriving, users are becoming more cautious with their purchases. Getting burned by a purchase once might not deter a user, but after a few stinkers who knows? Steam“s audience is vast and has been built up by the promise of good games at (often) great prices. With an increasing amount of broken projects though it is aiming to hurt that image which took so long to build up. Will as many users purchase Steam titles because they simply like the synopsis, concept, or selected screenshots? It seems this will not be as frequent as it has been so far. Then again, what can be done about it? The concept of Steam being open to all developers is fantastic but proves to be much harder to manage in reality. We“ll have to see how everything continues to evolve. We“ll also have to see whether the current diehard Steam users will continue to lavish blind affection onto Valve. As a user, be sure to do your homework before buying any new games on Steam. For all the great new releases coming out, there are always going to be a handful that don“t deserve your money.
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