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Found 26 results

  1. Tomasz Wacławek, the creator of the stylish, turn-based Ronin, has released a new game that draws heavily on Dark Souls while using an open, inviting aesthetic. Immortal Planet places players in the shoes of an ancient warrior who emerges from cryosleep with no memories only to find an entire planet full of immortal sentinels. In order to escape this tomb world, players will have to make use of spells, special items, and carefully timed attacks. Survival depends on unearthing as many mysteries and secrets as possible. Wacławek describes Immortal Planet as “a love letter to Dark Souls” in that players will live, die, and repeat, but in a manner that's enjoyable. The main hook of this action RPG is the ability to see an enemy's stamina. Timing attacks when enemies lack stamina and are vulnerable is the key to succeeding in the frozen halls of Wacławek's world. Levels are designed with shortcuts and progression in mind, much like the Souls-Borne series, so players won't have to memorize entire areas by rote in order to make it through. Oh, and each area will feature a challenging boss that go through multiple transformations to truly test every player's mettle. Immortal Planet is available now on PC.
  2. Tomasz Wacławek, the creator of the stylish, turn-based Ronin, has released a new game that draws heavily on Dark Souls while using an open, inviting aesthetic. Immortal Planet places players in the shoes of an ancient warrior who emerges from cryosleep with no memories only to find an entire planet full of immortal sentinels. In order to escape this tomb world, players will have to make use of spells, special items, and carefully timed attacks. Survival depends on unearthing as many mysteries and secrets as possible. Wacławek describes Immortal Planet as “a love letter to Dark Souls” in that players will live, die, and repeat, but in a manner that's enjoyable. The main hook of this action RPG is the ability to see an enemy's stamina. Timing attacks when enemies lack stamina and are vulnerable is the key to succeeding in the frozen halls of Wacławek's world. Levels are designed with shortcuts and progression in mind, much like the Souls-Borne series, so players won't have to memorize entire areas by rote in order to make it through. Oh, and each area will feature a challenging boss that go through multiple transformations to truly test every player's mettle. Immortal Planet is available now on PC. View full article
  3. Bandai Namco teased Code Vein back in April with a slickly animated teaser that conveyed the general idea of their upcoming game, but didn't show much of the in-game visuals. From that initial teaser, it seemed like Bandai Namco was trying to create an IP under its control since FromSoftware has stated that they are moving on from the Dark Souls series following the release of The Ringed City DLC. The published found a great deal of success with its God Eater games and the subsequent anime and light novel adaptations, so there was some speculation that the company might try their hand at doing something similar with a Souls-like game in Code Vein. Now the first proper trailer ha arrived to reveal what the vampiric title looks like in action. Like many have speculated, Code Vein looks much like Bloodborne and the Souls series. The visual tone nails the bright, washed out look of Dark Souls, while the action seems to be more of the Bloodborne variety. Cryptic, heavy dialogue permeates the trailer, lending it a certain gravitas. The trailer very clearly shows that some kind of earth-shattering cataclysm has occurred, forever altering life on the planet. Cities are laced with jagged crystalline structures called the Thorns of Judgment. In the middle of the devastation caused by the sudden appearance of the Thorns, a remnant of civilization has survived. The final society, composed of powerful vampires called Revenants, has been dubbed Vein. Revenants exchange their memories for their great power. Vein's Revenant protectors must fight to satisfy their bloodlust and also to protect Vein from the Lost, shells of the world that once was now warped in the absence of their humanity. Players will be able to create their own characters in Project Vein, but don't worry about venturing into the ruins alone! Players can also enlist the aid of an AI companion (possible co-op opportunity?) from an in-game roster of helpers. These companions come with differing combat styles, stories, and can change the entire feel of encounters depending on which one is brought into the fray. Progressing in Code Vein means slaying enemies and then using their blood to empower attacks or weaken enemies. These blood veil enhancements can allow players to make use of various weapon abilities or charge destructive moves. Confirmed weapons so far consist of axes, spears, swords, bayonets, rifles, and claws. The anime influence of God Eater appears to be present, too. Some of the enemy designs and especially the human (erm, Revenant?) faces exhibit anime qualities. It's a little jarring with the other aspects of the presentation, but I'm eager to see more of it in action. More weirdness, please! Code Vein releases sometime in 2018.
  4. Bandai Namco teased Code Vein back in April with a slickly animated teaser that conveyed the general idea of their upcoming game, but didn't show much of the in-game visuals. From that initial teaser, it seemed like Bandai Namco was trying to create an IP under its control since FromSoftware has stated that they are moving on from the Dark Souls series following the release of The Ringed City DLC. The published found a great deal of success with its God Eater games and the subsequent anime and light novel adaptations, so there was some speculation that the company might try their hand at doing something similar with a Souls-like game in Code Vein. Now the first proper trailer ha arrived to reveal what the vampiric title looks like in action. Like many have speculated, Code Vein looks much like Bloodborne and the Souls series. The visual tone nails the bright, washed out look of Dark Souls, while the action seems to be more of the Bloodborne variety. Cryptic, heavy dialogue permeates the trailer, lending it a certain gravitas. The trailer very clearly shows that some kind of earth-shattering cataclysm has occurred, forever altering life on the planet. Cities are laced with jagged crystalline structures called the Thorns of Judgment. In the middle of the devastation caused by the sudden appearance of the Thorns, a remnant of civilization has survived. The final society, composed of powerful vampires called Revenants, has been dubbed Vein. Revenants exchange their memories for their great power. Vein's Revenant protectors must fight to satisfy their bloodlust and also to protect Vein from the Lost, shells of the world that once was now warped in the absence of their humanity. Players will be able to create their own characters in Project Vein, but don't worry about venturing into the ruins alone! Players can also enlist the aid of an AI companion (possible co-op opportunity?) from an in-game roster of helpers. These companions come with differing combat styles, stories, and can change the entire feel of encounters depending on which one is brought into the fray. Progressing in Code Vein means slaying enemies and then using their blood to empower attacks or weaken enemies. These blood veil enhancements can allow players to make use of various weapon abilities or charge destructive moves. Confirmed weapons so far consist of axes, spears, swords, bayonets, rifles, and claws. The anime influence of God Eater appears to be present, too. Some of the enemy designs and especially the human (erm, Revenant?) faces exhibit anime qualities. It's a little jarring with the other aspects of the presentation, but I'm eager to see more of it in action. More weirdness, please! Code Vein releases sometime in 2018. View full article
  5. Interesting dynamics and history are at play with Bandai Namco's creation of Project Vein. You see, Bandai Namco basically lucked into the gravy train that has been the Dark Souls series for the past five years. FromSoftware worked with Sony to publish the first Souls game, Demon's Souls. However, due to its initially lackluster sales performance Sony wasn't particularly interested in going through the trouble of bringing Demon's Souls to the wider world. Niche game publisher Atlus saw potential and stepped in to bring the game to North America where it became a cult classic. Unfortunately, sales still weren't huge and no publisher seemed overly eager to publish Demon's Souls for the European market. Even traditional FromSoftware partners like Tecmo Koei and Ubisoft turned their noses up when approached. That's when Bandai Namco stepped in to publish Demon's Souls in Europe, laying the groundwork for their future partnership with FromSoftware a year later. When it came time to release Dark Souls, FromSoftware self-published the game in Japan, but worked with Bandai Namco for a wider release in non-Japanese markets. That deal turned out to be huge for Bandai Namco. Dark Souls started printing money and Bandai Namco got a nice chunk of that profit. From was so satisfied with how Bandai Namco handled their end of the publishing deal that Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III were entirely published by Bandai Namco. However, FromSoftware is an independent developer. That meant they were free to have their games published by whatever company they chose. That freedom allowed them to work with Sony to publish Bloodborne, a new IP that similarly sold incredibly well - but it sold incredibly well for From and Sony, Bandai Namco could only watch from the sidelines. Project Vein looks very, very heavily inspired by Bloodborne. The promotional hashtag teased at the end of the trailer #PrepareToDine is even a slight variation on the original Dark Souls' catch phrase, "Prepare to die." I don't think that's a bad thing at all - some of the greatest works of art draw heavily from other works of art. However, I do think that at least some part of this Bandai Namco's decision to develop and self-publish Project Vein has to do with chasing after that sweet, sweet Bloodborne money - without having to rely on an independent developer like FromSoftware that could cut them out of future ventures. Not only that, but Bandai Namco would actually own the Project Vein IP if it became successful. They would be free to adapt it to other mediums, much like what they did with their God Eater franchise. Interestingly, the same team that developed God Eater has now been shifted over to work on Project Vein. If you look at God Eater, there is a franchise that spans several games, several light novels, an anime series, and a trading card game, all of which have done relatively well. If Project Vein proves to be even half as popular as Bloodborne, it could be similarly adapted and serialized. There's a lot of money on the line if Project Vein succeeds. Bandai Namco has tasted the success of Dark Souls and watched on as FromSoftware, the goose that was laying golden eggs for them, created another smashing success for Sony. A lot of this is speculation on my part, but Project Vein seems like Bandai Namco's attempt to cash in on the popularity of FromSoftware's mechanics and dark style. Here's hoping that this results in a great game that can live up to or surpass what inspired it and not a retaliatory cash grab.
  6. Interesting dynamics and history are at play with Bandai Namco's creation of Project Vein. You see, Bandai Namco basically lucked into the gravy train that has been the Dark Souls series for the past five years. FromSoftware worked with Sony to publish the first Souls game, Demon's Souls. However, due to its initially lackluster sales performance Sony wasn't particularly interested in going through the trouble of bringing Demon's Souls to the wider world. Niche game publisher Atlus saw potential and stepped in to bring the game to North America where it became a cult classic. Unfortunately, sales still weren't huge and no publisher seemed overly eager to publish Demon's Souls for the European market. Even traditional FromSoftware partners like Tecmo Koei and Ubisoft turned their noses up when approached. That's when Bandai Namco stepped in to publish Demon's Souls in Europe, laying the groundwork for their future partnership with FromSoftware a year later. When it came time to release Dark Souls, FromSoftware self-published the game in Japan, but worked with Bandai Namco for a wider release in non-Japanese markets. That deal turned out to be huge for Bandai Namco. Dark Souls started printing money and Bandai Namco got a nice chunk of that profit. From was so satisfied with how Bandai Namco handled their end of the publishing deal that Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III were entirely published by Bandai Namco. However, FromSoftware is an independent developer. That meant they were free to have their games published by whatever company they chose. That freedom allowed them to work with Sony to publish Bloodborne, a new IP that similarly sold incredibly well - but it sold incredibly well for From and Sony, Bandai Namco could only watch from the sidelines. Project Vein looks very, very heavily inspired by Bloodborne. The promotional hashtag teased at the end of the trailer #PrepareToDine is even a slight variation on the original Dark Souls' catch phrase, "Prepare to die." I don't think that's a bad thing at all - some of the greatest works of art draw heavily from other works of art. However, I do think that at least some part of this Bandai Namco's decision to develop and self-publish Project Vein has to do with chasing after that sweet, sweet Bloodborne money - without having to rely on an independent developer like FromSoftware that could cut them out of future ventures. Not only that, but Bandai Namco would actually own the Project Vein IP if it became successful. They would be free to adapt it to other mediums, much like what they did with their God Eater franchise. Interestingly, the same team that developed God Eater has now been shifted over to work on Project Vein. If you look at God Eater, there is a franchise that spans several games, several light novels, an anime series, and a trading card game, all of which have done relatively well. If Project Vein proves to be even half as popular as Bloodborne, it could be similarly adapted and serialized. There's a lot of money on the line if Project Vein succeeds. Bandai Namco has tasted the success of Dark Souls and watched on as FromSoftware, the goose that was laying golden eggs for them, created another smashing success for Sony. A lot of this is speculation on my part, but Project Vein seems like Bandai Namco's attempt to cash in on the popularity of FromSoftware's mechanics and dark style. Here's hoping that this results in a great game that can live up to or surpass what inspired it and not a retaliatory cash grab. View full article
  7. Review: Nioh

    The rocky road to Team Ninja’s release of Nioh meant that a lot of factors were working against the action RPG when it hit store shelves in February. It had originally been announced back in 2004 by Koei as a straight RPG adaptation of Oni, an unfinished script by famed Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa. Over the years, it was ripped apart and stitched back together by various development teams trying desperately to make it work. Nioh became a Dynasty Warriors-esque large-scale war game after the merger of Tecmo and Koei. The multiple development teams slowly scrapped almost all of the Akira Kurosawa’s story beats from the title. It wasn’t until Team Ninja fully took control of the project in 2012 that Nioh became recognizably similar to the game that released in 2017. Team Ninja had a very simple elevator pitch for their vision of Nioh: What if you combined a fanciful retelling of Japan’s Sengoku jidai with Dark Souls? Nioh weaves the heavily altered story of William Adams, a sailor for the Dutch East India Company who became the first Western samurai, a top advisor to Japan’s Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and became known as Miura Anjin. Those three facts are about all that remain in Nioh of the real William’s life story. Nioh takes the framework of William’s journey to Japan in the 1600s at the end of one hundred years of civil war and brings it into a more fanciful setting full of spirits and monsters. William begins his tale in England, where a mysterious figure named Edward Kelley imprisons his guardian spirit. The pursuit of this creepy sorcerer takes William to the shores of Japan where evil spirits and demons have run amok, feeding off the death caused by the war. William’s becomes embroiled in the war himself after finding that the sorcerer has allied himself with the enemies of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Soon the conflict threatens to spin out of control as the sorcerer wields ever more powerful magic granted by his consumption of guardian spirits and crystalized spirit stones called Amrita. William, however, has his own array of abilities to combat threats both magical and mundane. One of Nioh’s draws is the ability to play with a wide selection of fighting styles. Players can choose from katana, axe, dual wielding swords, spears, and kusarigama (a sickle with a weighted chain). Each weapon has its own unique style and move set that becomes even deeper with the addition of stances. Any given weapon has three separate stances, high, mid, and low. High stance has slower, more powerful attacks, middle has a good mix between power and agility, and low stance tends to have the fastest attack and dodge speeds. Each of these stances alters the move sets and combos of their given weapon in addition to their differing benefits. On top of that, Nioh allows players to put points into ninjutsu and onmyo to gain ninja and spellcasting abilities. The robust combat system presents a definite learning curve. Those just beginning Nioh will doubtlessly struggle with when to switch stances and the make use of the various abilities at their disposal. However, the true mechanic that every Nioh player will absolutely need to master comes down to one thing: Ki. In Dark Souls, players must manage a stamina gauge that depletes as various attacks are used. Nioh has a Ki meter that serves the same purpose. However, the key difference between the two systems is that timing a follow-up button press after a string of attacks restores some of the player’s lost Ki. This means that those with a good sense of timing and battle rhythm can make more attacks or dodges without becoming exhausted and vulnerable. Some abilities even give attack bonuses for players who can pull off this move. This technique becomes even more necessary when battling the demonic yokai spirits who can create areas that slow Ki regeneration unless the player can purify them with that well-timed button press. Nioh does a number of small, yet significant things when it comes to combat that make it feel like a fresh experience. Adding the active Ki system goes a long way toward creating more engaging combat, but so does extending the effectiveness of status impairments. Typically, status effects in games are more for the rank and file enemies. Nioh allows even the bosses to be affected by the likes of poison, fire, and paralysis. These can help give the winning edge in a particularly challenging boss fight or make an otherwise difficult enemy encounter manageable. Projectile weapons also go a long way toward breathing life into Nioh. Players can equip bows, matchlock rifles, or personal cannons to deal with enemies from afar. These weapons prove to be very effective and benefit from leveling stats that benefit your hand-to-hand combat abilities, so they continue to be effective into the late game. In fact, I was able to take down the final boss of Nioh with a shred of health from cover by making quick use of my fully loaded cannon to land critical headshots. Nioh slips up most when it comes to the level design. One of the things that worked in the favor of the Dark Souls series was the interconnected world that truly felt like a giant puzzle to be solved through exploration. Nioh has a much more linear structure governed by missions. Each mission is its own contained world that leads players toward a boss fight. The quality of these areas varies greatly. Some are perfectly serviceable, a few inch up into “good” territory, but many of them are only interesting on a visual level and only present straight-forward slogs from one combat encounter to another. The worst levels include areas where the player can easily slip off a ledge and fall to what feels like an incredibly cheap death. One boss fight in particular happens to encapsulate both the frustrating level and boss design. A decent slice into the game, the player is tasked with clearing out a flooded temple. Upon reaching the boss, the player becomes locked inside an arena floating on the water to do battle with a giant ooze monster. Except you can’t swim in Nioh, so a trip off the edge of the arena is an instant death. Just don’t fall off, right? Well, the boss is such a large creature, that targeting it means you can’t see anything behind you, so it becomes difficult to tell when you’re in danger of running off the edge. Okay, so don’t target the creature? Well, if you let your attention wander, you might miss the short wind up it does for a move that blasts half the arena with an insta-death energy beam. If you happen to be doing fine against this yokai hell-beast, it actually has two versions of its insta-death move. The first has a warning animation of about a second or two. The second has a split-second jiggle that’s easily missed in the heat of combat. Speaking of those bosses, they represent some of the most irritating encounters I’ve had in video games. Some are relatively easy to overcome while others will leave you dazed with how quickly they destroyed you. Many of the bosses present long, painful bouts of learning when to dodge, what moves will instantly kill you, and what you can or can’t block. On the other hand, a fair number of these encounters feel like truly climactic battles where the odds are stacked against you. Conclusion: When everything goes right in Nioh, it feels wonderfully fluid, responsive, and challenging. The combat shines brightly as something from which future games in the action RPG genre should draw inspiration. While Dark Souls mastered slow, methodical combat and Bloodborne rewarded fast, brutal aggression, Nioh requires players to be fast and precise in order to keep abreast of the chaotic action. However, that’s a delicate balance to maintain and sometimes bosses and level design don’t quite support that balancing act. The visual designs of monsters are routinely interesting to take in and discovering new creatures adds to the fun of progression. The loot system feels unnecessary and clutters up Nioh with useless items. There’s a very solid core to Nioh that deserves expansion. A little more inspiration from similar games (some kind of healing reward for aggression similar to Bloodborne might have been nice), while cutting any needless complications or unfair designs could go a long way toward taking any Nioh successor to even greater acclaim in the future. Nioh is now available for PlayStation 4
  8. Feature: Review: Nioh

    The rocky road to Team Ninja’s release of Nioh meant that a lot of factors were working against the action RPG when it hit store shelves in February. It had originally been announced back in 2004 by Koei as a straight RPG adaptation of Oni, an unfinished script by famed Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa. Over the years, it was ripped apart and stitched back together by various development teams trying desperately to make it work. Nioh became a Dynasty Warriors-esque large-scale war game after the merger of Tecmo and Koei. The multiple development teams slowly scrapped almost all of the Akira Kurosawa’s story beats from the title. It wasn’t until Team Ninja fully took control of the project in 2012 that Nioh became recognizably similar to the game that released in 2017. Team Ninja had a very simple elevator pitch for their vision of Nioh: What if you combined a fanciful retelling of Japan’s Sengoku jidai with Dark Souls? Nioh weaves the heavily altered story of William Adams, a sailor for the Dutch East India Company who became the first Western samurai, a top advisor to Japan’s Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and became known as Miura Anjin. Those three facts are about all that remain in Nioh of the real William’s life story. Nioh takes the framework of William’s journey to Japan in the 1600s at the end of one hundred years of civil war and brings it into a more fanciful setting full of spirits and monsters. William begins his tale in England, where a mysterious figure named Edward Kelley imprisons his guardian spirit. The pursuit of this creepy sorcerer takes William to the shores of Japan where evil spirits and demons have run amok, feeding off the death caused by the war. William’s becomes embroiled in the war himself after finding that the sorcerer has allied himself with the enemies of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Soon the conflict threatens to spin out of control as the sorcerer wields ever more powerful magic granted by his consumption of guardian spirits and crystalized spirit stones called Amrita. William, however, has his own array of abilities to combat threats both magical and mundane. One of Nioh’s draws is the ability to play with a wide selection of fighting styles. Players can choose from katana, axe, dual wielding swords, spears, and kusarigama (a sickle with a weighted chain). Each weapon has its own unique style and move set that becomes even deeper with the addition of stances. Any given weapon has three separate stances, high, mid, and low. High stance has slower, more powerful attacks, middle has a good mix between power and agility, and low stance tends to have the fastest attack and dodge speeds. Each of these stances alters the move sets and combos of their given weapon in addition to their differing benefits. On top of that, Nioh allows players to put points into ninjutsu and onmyo to gain ninja and spellcasting abilities. The robust combat system presents a definite learning curve. Those just beginning Nioh will doubtlessly struggle with when to switch stances and the make use of the various abilities at their disposal. However, the true mechanic that every Nioh player will absolutely need to master comes down to one thing: Ki. In Dark Souls, players must manage a stamina gauge that depletes as various attacks are used. Nioh has a Ki meter that serves the same purpose. However, the key difference between the two systems is that timing a follow-up button press after a string of attacks restores some of the player’s lost Ki. This means that those with a good sense of timing and battle rhythm can make more attacks or dodges without becoming exhausted and vulnerable. Some abilities even give attack bonuses for players who can pull off this move. This technique becomes even more necessary when battling the demonic yokai spirits who can create areas that slow Ki regeneration unless the player can purify them with that well-timed button press. Nioh does a number of small, yet significant things when it comes to combat that make it feel like a fresh experience. Adding the active Ki system goes a long way toward creating more engaging combat, but so does extending the effectiveness of status impairments. Typically, status effects in games are more for the rank and file enemies. Nioh allows even the bosses to be affected by the likes of poison, fire, and paralysis. These can help give the winning edge in a particularly challenging boss fight or make an otherwise difficult enemy encounter manageable. Projectile weapons also go a long way toward breathing life into Nioh. Players can equip bows, matchlock rifles, or personal cannons to deal with enemies from afar. These weapons prove to be very effective and benefit from leveling stats that benefit your hand-to-hand combat abilities, so they continue to be effective into the late game. In fact, I was able to take down the final boss of Nioh with a shred of health from cover by making quick use of my fully loaded cannon to land critical headshots. Nioh slips up most when it comes to the level design. One of the things that worked in the favor of the Dark Souls series was the interconnected world that truly felt like a giant puzzle to be solved through exploration. Nioh has a much more linear structure governed by missions. Each mission is its own contained world that leads players toward a boss fight. The quality of these areas varies greatly. Some are perfectly serviceable, a few inch up into “good” territory, but many of them are only interesting on a visual level and only present straight-forward slogs from one combat encounter to another. The worst levels include areas where the player can easily slip off a ledge and fall to what feels like an incredibly cheap death. One boss fight in particular happens to encapsulate both the frustrating level and boss design. A decent slice into the game, the player is tasked with clearing out a flooded temple. Upon reaching the boss, the player becomes locked inside an arena floating on the water to do battle with a giant ooze monster. Except you can’t swim in Nioh, so a trip off the edge of the arena is an instant death. Just don’t fall off, right? Well, the boss is such a large creature, that targeting it means you can’t see anything behind you, so it becomes difficult to tell when you’re in danger of running off the edge. Okay, so don’t target the creature? Well, if you let your attention wander, you might miss the short wind up it does for a move that blasts half the arena with an insta-death energy beam. If you happen to be doing fine against this yokai hell-beast, it actually has two versions of its insta-death move. The first has a warning animation of about a second or two. The second has a split-second jiggle that’s easily missed in the heat of combat. Speaking of those bosses, they represent some of the most irritating encounters I’ve had in video games. Some are relatively easy to overcome while others will leave you dazed with how quickly they destroyed you. Many of the bosses present long, painful bouts of learning when to dodge, what moves will instantly kill you, and what you can or can’t block. On the other hand, a fair number of these encounters feel like truly climactic battles where the odds are stacked against you. Conclusion: When everything goes right in Nioh, it feels wonderfully fluid, responsive, and challenging. The combat shines brightly as something from which future games in the action RPG genre should draw inspiration. While Dark Souls mastered slow, methodical combat and Bloodborne rewarded fast, brutal aggression, Nioh requires players to be fast and precise in order to keep abreast of the chaotic action. However, that’s a delicate balance to maintain and sometimes bosses and level design don’t quite support that balancing act. The visual designs of monsters are routinely interesting to take in and discovering new creatures adds to the fun of progression. The loot system feels unnecessary and clutters up Nioh with useless items. There’s a very solid core to Nioh that deserves expansion. A little more inspiration from similar games (some kind of healing reward for aggression similar to Bloodborne might have been nice), while cutting any needless complications or unfair designs could go a long way toward taking any Nioh successor to even greater acclaim in the future. Nioh is now available for PlayStation 4 View full article
  9. A new trailer has been revealed for Capcom's Deep Down, shedding more light on the mysterious ending of last year's teaser. Is... is Deep Down a game about playing as a person who is playing a video game? Maybe I'm misinterpreting the trailer, but regardless Capcom has certainly grabbed my interest.
  10. Review: Dark Souls II

    With Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, and now Dark Souls II, From Software has made providing gamers with challenging entertainment their overriding game design philosophy. The difficulty of Dark Souls II is both its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. For the uninitiated, Dark Souls II is an open-world action RPG. Players step into the shoes of some poor man or woman who has become afflicted with “The Curse” and has ended up in the kingdom of Drangleic. This is about as specific as the story seems willing to be, with the rest is a blur about a king, something about fire keepers, and giants. About three-fourths of the way through the game, the storyline inexplicably changes gears from trying to cure your character from The Curse to becoming the new king or queen of Drangleic. I was pretty confused when this happened, but being confused in Dark Souls II is the normal state of affairs. Also, I’d be lying if I said this game was about its story. The vague plot serves as an excuse to insert strange monsters and visuals. To its credit, Dark Souls II looks incredible. It retains the aura of faded glory, despair, and hopelessness of the first Dark Souls, but it isn’t afraid to access a brighter color palate. Sunsets on endless oceans, soaring mountain peaks, misty forest vales, these locations all have distinct color schemes and feel unique. By extension, Dark Souls II stands out visually more than its predecessor, whose graphical styles ranged from dim to dark. I can believe that people, insane though they may be, live in the kingdom of Drangleic, whereas the denizens of Lordran seemed entirely out of place. The creature designs range from traditional fantasy fare like giant spiders and dragons to monsters that would be right at home in a remake of John Carpenter’s The Thing. For example, one of the bosses is literally a giant pile of corpses fused together to form a disgusting mass of grasping arms and legs. It’s gross. The Souls series has constructed its identity around the idea that games should be hard, but fair; a game design concept that many console games in the 8-bit era of gaming strove to embody. Gameplay largely revolves around knowing when to block, dodge, heal, and attack. Most monster encounters consist of learning their timings and weaknesses. In the average Dark Souls II fight or boss battle, if you die, it is largely your own fault for being too slow to block or dodge. Dark Souls II mostly succeeds in walking the knife-thin line that separates a difficult game from a frustrating game, but it does have its fair share of insta-death moments. Random explosions, powerful monsters masquerading as treasure chests, one-hit-kill boss attacks, Dark Souls II has a number of cheap ways to die. At times, this game made me so mad I had to put it down for a couple hours so as not to pull my hair out in rage. What mitigates the feelings of frustration and will keep you coming back for more punishment is the sense of accomplishment after conquering a particularly hard section or boss. It also helps that Dark Souls II is fully aware of how difficult it is and is designed to lessen the impact of its own betrayals. Sure, there will be numerous times when you die unfairly, but the penalty for death is simply dropping your souls, the in-game currency used to level up and buy items. These souls can be reclaimed by going to where you died and recovering them. Once you know something will instantly kill you, it is usually easy to avoid. After killing enemies a certain number of times, they will disappear forever. This is probably to prevent people from farming up souls, which you obtain by slaying enemies, and to help players make it through overly frustrating portions of Drangleic. Another method of alleviating difficult sections of gameplay is by summoning other players to assist in combat. A player having trouble with a boss or a long stretch of enemies can use an item called a human effigy to restore their zombie-like form to its human state, allowing them to summon allies. Offline players are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to summoning, since they may only call upon the various denizens of Drangleic. These stalwart heroes are controlled by the AI and are not very smart. They’ll throw themselves at bosses with as much relish as Kobayashi at a hot dog eating contest and they won’t stop until they are dead. There is another problem with summoning, though, and that is finding the item that allows you to summon and be summoned. You see, the majority of the problems that I had with Dark Souls II stemmed from just how oblique and purposefully confusing the game can be at times. The player is never told that one of the most essential skills in the game is just talking to the NPCs repeatedly until they have nothing new to say. At one point in my playthrough, I had explored all available sections of Drangleic and was stuck. After several hours of aimless backtracking I found that I needed to talk with a specific shop keeper multiple times, a shop keeper I had no reason to talk to and whose merchandise I couldn’t use. Talking with that specific character opened up an entire half of the game. Talking with other seemingly unimportant characters multiple times is also what nets players access to certain items, like the items required to summon help for boss fights. On numerous occasions I picked up an item, read the description, and was still completely in the dark as to its purpose. Perhaps the greatest example of just how frustratingly obtuse Dark Souls II can be is found in the information it conveys to players regarding covenants. Covenants are essentially groups you can join that give you special powers or advantages. One of the earliest covenants players can encounter is The Way of the Blue which summons other players to your aid whenever your world is invaded by enemy players. This is by far the most useful covenant early on in the game. However, there is another covenant called the Company of Champions, which was the first covenant I happened to discover. Not really knowing anything about it, I joined. Dark Souls II game never explains what the Company of Champions does, so I played the game, remarking how incredibly difficult all the starting areas seemed to be. It wasn’t until I reached a boss fight half-way through that I began to suspect the purpose of the Company of Champions. It turns out that joining the Company of Champions amounts to ratcheting up the difficulty to eye-gougingly hard levels. I’m all for allowing players to discover things for themselves; that can be a beautiful and awesome thing if implemented correctly. However, a little more explanation would go a long way toward making Dark Souls II a more accessible and less frustrating experience. Conclusion: On the one hand, I admire Dark Souls II. It is a game that is what it is and doesn’t bother trying to explain itself except in the broadest possible sense. Players must rise to meet its challenge; it doesn’t stoop to accommodate anyone. On the other hand, there are many occasions when Dark Souls II intentionally obscures itself in order to give the illusion that it is more meaningful and complex that it is. Difficulty should stem from gameplay, not from intentionally confusing the player. I enjoyed Dark Souls II very much at first, but it eventually wore out its welcome. If you enjoyed the first game or if you love difficult games, you’ll probably also enjoy Dark Souls II. If you don’t have a lot of patience or persistence, you should probably steer clear, or at least until the price drops significantly during a Steam sale or something. Reviewed on Xbox 360
  11. What do you get when you lock the creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes in a room with a copy of Dark Souls and hallucinogenic mushrooms? Probably something that very much resembles Let It Die, a third-person action game about trying to reach the top of a tower with the help of Uncle Death, a grim reaper who rides a rocket skateboard. The quirky title appeared for free on the PlayStation a couple days ago and it's all kinds of strange. Players begin Let It Die with nothing but some snazzy underwear and the goal of fighting their way to the top of The Tower of Barbs. To do that, players must collect everything that isn't nailed down as they fight through crazy enemies and bosses, because those things might just help to not die. However, most players will die. A lot. Go in with that expectation because the game creators have put together a beginner's guide for those who find the game too frustrating. Fittingly, dying represents one of the main hooks of Let It Die. Every time a player succumbs to the dangers of the tower, their "death data" uploads to every other player's game and becomes an enemy in the tower for everyone playing. The free-to-play model of Let It Die focuses on death, too. When players die they can either start from zero experience with an entirely new character or fork over some cash to continue with their old character from where they died. this will probably prove to be a turn-off to many, but the core gameplay encourages players to embrace the loss and press on, much like Dark Souls. Let It Die is available now on PlayStation 4 and has Remote Play, so it can also be played on the PlayStation Vita. View full article
  12. What do you get when you lock the creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes in a room with a copy of Dark Souls and hallucinogenic mushrooms? Probably something that very much resembles Let It Die, a third-person action game about trying to reach the top of a tower with the help of Uncle Death, a grim reaper who rides a rocket skateboard. The quirky title appeared for free on the PlayStation a couple days ago and it's all kinds of strange. Players begin Let It Die with nothing but some snazzy underwear and the goal of fighting their way to the top of The Tower of Barbs. To do that, players must collect everything that isn't nailed down as they fight through crazy enemies and bosses, because those things might just help to not die. However, most players will die. A lot. Go in with that expectation because the game creators have put together a beginner's guide for those who find the game too frustrating. Fittingly, dying represents one of the main hooks of Let It Die. Every time a player succumbs to the dangers of the tower, their "death data" uploads to every other player's game and becomes an enemy in the tower for everyone playing. The free-to-play model of Let It Die focuses on death, too. When players die they can either start from zero experience with an entirely new character or fork over some cash to continue with their old character from where they died. this will probably prove to be a turn-off to many, but the core gameplay encourages players to embrace the loss and press on, much like Dark Souls. Let It Die is available now on PlayStation 4 and has Remote Play, so it can also be played on the PlayStation Vita.
  13. After Titan Comics' first Dark Souls comics series sold out not once, but twice (it is currently on its third printing), it was almost inevitable that Titan would release a new collection tied in with Dark Souls 3. Titled Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1, the anthology will feature the work of over six writers adding their own bits and pieces to the twisted, dying world of Dark Souls. Those writers include two returning writers George Mann (Doctor Who) and Alan Quah (Orphan Black) who will pen their tales alongside newcomers Dan Watters (Image Comics’ Limbo), Tauriq Moosa (The Guardian, Mary Sue), Damien Worm (The October Faction), Piotr Kowalski (The Dark Tower, Robocop) and more who haven't been announced yet. Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1 will come in several cover variations. Artistic talents from across the industry are lending their skills to illustrate the covers. These include: Alan Quah (Dark Souls), Tyler Crook (Harrow County), Robert Hack(Afterlife with Archie), Jana Heidersdorf and Nick Percival (Judge Dredd, Slaine). If you can't get enough Dark Souls, you don't have long to wait. Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1 will release on September 14. View full article
  14. After Titan Comics' first Dark Souls comics series sold out not once, but twice (it is currently on its third printing), it was almost inevitable that Titan would release a new collection tied in with Dark Souls 3. Titled Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1, the anthology will feature the work of over six writers adding their own bits and pieces to the twisted, dying world of Dark Souls. Those writers include two returning writers George Mann (Doctor Who) and Alan Quah (Orphan Black) who will pen their tales alongside newcomers Dan Watters (Image Comics’ Limbo), Tauriq Moosa (The Guardian, Mary Sue), Damien Worm (The October Faction), Piotr Kowalski (The Dark Tower, Robocop) and more who haven't been announced yet. Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1 will come in several cover variations. Artistic talents from across the industry are lending their skills to illustrate the covers. These include: Alan Quah (Dark Souls), Tyler Crook (Harrow County), Robert Hack(Afterlife with Archie), Jana Heidersdorf and Nick Percival (Judge Dredd, Slaine). If you can't get enough Dark Souls, you don't have long to wait. Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #1 will release on September 14.
  15. The dark, difficult samurai action-RPG, Nioh, has released a playable demo onto the PlayStation 4. Similar to the Dark Souls 3 alpha stress test, the Nioh demo has a relatively short lifespan and will be available for a little over a week. Publisher Koei Tecmo has also said that all players who complete the demo will receive The Mark of the Conqueror DLC when the full game launches. According to Koei Tecmo, The Mark of the Conqueror will not be available to those who don't complete the demo, though that could change. The demo occurs through two areas, Usuki and Dazaifu. Usuki is a destroyed, shambling fishing village and Dazaifu is a place completely overrun with demons. Three basic weapon types are available; katana, spear, and axe. Nioh is being developed by Team Ninja and will be released on PlayStation 4. No release date has been given as of yet.
  16. The dark, difficult samurai action-RPG, Nioh, has released a playable demo onto the PlayStation 4. Similar to the Dark Souls 3 alpha stress test, the Nioh demo has a relatively short lifespan and will be available for a little over a week. Publisher Koei Tecmo has also said that all players who complete the demo will receive The Mark of the Conqueror DLC when the full game launches. According to Koei Tecmo, The Mark of the Conqueror will not be available to those who don't complete the demo, though that could change. The demo occurs through two areas, Usuki and Dazaifu. Usuki is a destroyed, shambling fishing village and Dazaifu is a place completely overrun with demons. Three basic weapon types are available; katana, spear, and axe. Nioh is being developed by Team Ninja and will be released on PlayStation 4. No release date has been given as of yet. View full article
  17. This week we return to From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki to cover the beginnings of the Soul series. The 2009 release of Demon's Souls became the sleeper hit of the year, racking up awards for its gameplay innovations and solid, challenging mechanics. Despite a mixed to positive critical reception, Demon's Souls remained mostly overlooked until From Software's spiritual successor, Dark Souls. The popularity of Dark Souls had the effect of more than doubling Demon's Souls' sales. Can Demon's Souls stand on its own as one of the best games period or is it doomed to remain in the shadow of its sequel for all time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Demon's Souls 'Abandoned by God' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03238) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  18. This week we return to From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki to cover the beginnings of the Soul series. The 2009 release of Demon's Souls became the sleeper hit of the year, racking up awards for its gameplay innovations and solid, challenging mechanics. Despite a mixed to positive critical reception, Demon's Souls remained mostly overlooked until From Software's spiritual successor, Dark Souls. The popularity of Dark Souls had the effect of more than doubling Demon's Souls' sales. Can Demon's Souls stand on its own as one of the best games period or is it doomed to remain in the shadow of its sequel for all time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Demon's Souls 'Abandoned by God' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03238) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  19. Hey everyone! I'll be doing an Extra Life marathon tomorrow and would just like to let everyone know about it in case anyone would like to take part and/or support it. It will be an Extra Life 12 hour marathon on Saturday February 27 from 12P - 12A EST. It's going to be a giveaway marathon with a focus on the Souls series. I have 25 games to give away. I will be giving away 2 games every hour and finish the stream with a drawing for Dark Souls III. I will be streaming the rest of Demon's Souls (if I don't finish it up this week) and Dark Souls 1. The raffles will work like so: For every 2 dollars you donate, you will receive 1 ticket in the hourly draw. For every $5 dollars, you will get one ticket in the grand prize draw (DSIII). So a $12 donation will get you 6 tickets in hourly draw and 2 tickets in the grand prize draw.The game list is below, but the 2 games given away every hour will remain a secret until it's time to draw. I am also going to attempt to have a "wall of heroes" on the wall behind me. I'm going to try and put up large posters with the usernames of anyone who donates more than $20. I have the supplies, I just need to test it to make sure it will work with the lighting and camera. Any hosts or other support is greatly appreciated and, of course, feel free to stop by and take part (or just hang out ) in the festivities! Twitch Channel: twitch.tv/cakarst
  20. The Best Games Period returns with our second episode! This week join myself, Jeremy Brown, and Daniel Jones as we discuss the grim fantasy world of Dark Souls. Released by FromSoftware in 2011, Dark Souls ripped and roared across the gaming landscape to immense popularity and went on to shape games in development studios across the globe. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls, became on of the most influential figures in the game industry. What makes Dark Souls one of the best games period? Listen to the show and find out for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and (soon) iTunes. A YouTube version is also available; can we defeat the Taurus Demon before the end of the podcast? You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod The outro music this week: Dark Souls 'I Had a Name' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03101) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday. View full article
  21. The Best Games Period - Episode 2 - Dark Souls

    The Best Games Period returns with our second episode! This week join myself, Jeremy Brown, and Daniel Jones as we discuss the grim fantasy world of Dark Souls. Released by FromSoftware in 2011, Dark Souls ripped and roared across the gaming landscape to immense popularity and went on to shape games in development studios across the globe. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls, became on of the most influential figures in the game industry. What makes Dark Souls one of the best games period? Listen to the show and find out for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and (soon) iTunes. A YouTube version is also available; can we defeat the Taurus Demon before the end of the podcast? You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod The outro music this week: Dark Souls 'I Had a Name' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03101) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday.
  22. One of the break out moments of gaming last year was Twitch Plays Pokémon, a livestream of Pokémon Red that was controlled entirely via commands input by viewers into Twitch chat. It was... definitely a thing that happened. Below you'll find a brief overview of the weeks it took to beat Pokémon. But what happens when Twitch takes on a game that is a bit more complex? What if the game they chose to take on next took place in a 3D world and was heavily reliant on timing? It turns out there is a lot of running into walls and flailing. Twitch has decided to take on Dark Souls and after four days of continuous play they are still stuck in the game's opening level, the Undead Asylum. It has become a slow process of building a coordinated community that can handle a three dimensional game without succumbing to the trolling that so frequently plagues the Twitch Plays streams. To date, the greatest enemy hasn't been Dark Souls' first boss, but rather a pool that in the beginning area that players keep falling into. Some have despaired of ever getting past the pool: While others have begun to worship the pool as a deity, searching to eek out some meaning to the senseless cycle of two steps forward, one dodge roll back into a pool pit: Still others have tried to put a lighthearted spin on the situation while maintaining hope for the future: However, the collective hive mind that is Twitch Plays has accomplished some goals. They've made it through character creation, used their entire inventory of items (breaking some and destroying others), and actually made it to bonfire checkpoints. It remains to be seen if this is one game that Twitch can actually complete. Do you think that Twitch Plays can prevail? Or will this community-powered Let's Play go the way of Abby? View full article
  23. Can Twitch Play Dark Souls?

    One of the break out moments of gaming last year was Twitch Plays Pokémon, a livestream of Pokémon Red that was controlled entirely via commands input by viewers into Twitch chat. It was... definitely a thing that happened. Below you'll find a brief overview of the weeks it took to beat Pokémon. But what happens when Twitch takes on a game that is a bit more complex? What if the game they chose to take on next took place in a 3D world and was heavily reliant on timing? It turns out there is a lot of running into walls and flailing. Twitch has decided to take on Dark Souls and after four days of continuous play they are still stuck in the game's opening level, the Undead Asylum. It has become a slow process of building a coordinated community that can handle a three dimensional game without succumbing to the trolling that so frequently plagues the Twitch Plays streams. To date, the greatest enemy hasn't been Dark Souls' first boss, but rather a pool that in the beginning area that players keep falling into. Some have despaired of ever getting past the pool: While others have begun to worship the pool as a deity, searching to eek out some meaning to the senseless cycle of two steps forward, one dodge roll back into a pool pit: Still others have tried to put a lighthearted spin on the situation while maintaining hope for the future: However, the collective hive mind that is Twitch Plays has accomplished some goals. They've made it through character creation, used their entire inventory of items (breaking some and destroying others), and actually made it to bonfire checkpoints. It remains to be seen if this is one game that Twitch can actually complete. Do you think that Twitch Plays can prevail? Or will this community-powered Let's Play go the way of Abby?
  24. A new trailer has been revealed for Capcom's Deep Down, shedding more light on the mysterious ending of last year's teaser. Is... is Deep Down a game about playing as a person who is playing a video game? Maybe I'm misinterpreting the trailer, but regardless Capcom has certainly grabbed my interest. View full article