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Marcus Stewart

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  1. Daylight begins creeping through the blinds. Your eyes beg to be shut. Your butt aches. The lifeline of snack food has been exhausted. Monopoly night has claimed you and your friend’s collective souls, and now you’re wondering how to pull yourself out of its abyss. Unfortunately, your buddies still seem committed to seeing the game to its end (if you took hours to capture Boardwalk and Park Place you’d want to milk it too). You don’t want to be the party pooper. Never fear, though, for I’m here to offer some fool-proof tips for ending a Monopoly session in the least table-flipping way possible. Keep Getting Up Until People Get The Hint Whenever someone gets up during a board game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink, it can bring everything to a halt or, at the least, disengages everyone a little bit. Do this repeatedly, as in every couple of minutes, and people will get anxious. Throw in an obnoxious yawn or two while you’re at it. Eventually they’ll feel like stretching their legs, which then leads to the realization that the game has lasted the length of a Lord of the Rings marathon. It soon dawns on them that they promised their spouses at they’d return home at a reasonable hour, especially since they’re already on thin ice after their last all-night escapade. It only takes one person to vamoose for the rest of the party to crumble to pieces. Offer to Suspend the Game Intact for Another Session The group has invested too much time and fake money into this game to see it end without a winner no matter how fatigued they may be. Throw out that you’re tired, BUT you’ll be more than happy to leave the game in its place for a return session. It’s like suspending a video game except more inconvenient (for you). Still, doing so staves off the worst part of any board game: the clean-up. In reality, you’re likely good on Monopoly until the next, next Olympics, so play this card only as a Hail Mary compromise. Otherwise, prepare to spend the next week enjoying all of your meals on the floor if the group takes up the offer. Form Convoluted Alliances Savvy Monopoly players know that sometimes the only way to get ahead is to make deals along the way. Greatest hits include swapping a utility for that crucial missing railroad. Such agreements can annoy other players so dial this idea up to 11. Start by making a deal with Carrie to only charge half the fee for landing on each other’s properties. Then later strike an agreement with Derek to split the $200 Go reward if he’ll waive any fees on his turf. Unbeknownst to all of them, you’ve already arranged for Samantha, the banker, to have her regularly slip you money under the table in exchange for dinner and a movie. What does this George R.R. Martin-esque web of alliances accomplish? I’m not sure, but it’ll probably ruin the game due to the sheer chaos it would cause. Try Switching To A Video Game Video games are the natural predators to board games; the mongoose to its king cobra. Simply put, interactive entertainment is, arguably, more stimulating, takes up less table space, and always has all of its pieces in the box. Instead of merely suggesting Mario Kart or Jackbox, boldly fire up a game during a supposed bathroom break. When your friends wonder where you’ve disappeared to they’ll follow the siren call of digital merriment like a moth to a bright TV. This is another emergency option as it won’t actually get these people out of your house. But hey, it’s progress. Claim A Medical Emergency True story: in middle-school my friends and I were more or less abducted by a neighborhood gang over a now-humorous misunderstanding. They shuffled us back to their “crib” and made various threats until I came up with an ingenious solution. Harnessing my best fake tears, I pleaded with the hoodlums to let us go, claiming I needed to visit an ailing grandmother in the hospital who suffered from an ulcer (which was actually kind of true). To my surprise, the gang experienced genuine empathy and let us go. If such an excuse is good for diffusing potential gang violence, I’m fairly confident it can rescue you from this accursed board game. And that’s that! Now that you’ve escaped Monopoly’s black hole you’re now free to dive into the wealth of tabletop games! Enjoy the rest of the month! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  2. Daylight begins creeping through the blinds. Your eyes beg to be shut. Your butt aches. The lifeline of snack food has been exhausted. Monopoly night has claimed you and your friend’s collective souls, and now you’re wondering how to pull yourself out of its abyss. Unfortunately, your buddies still seem committed to seeing the game to its end (if you took hours to capture Boardwalk and Park Place you’d want to milk it too). You don’t want to be the party pooper. Never fear, though, for I’m here to offer some fool-proof tips for ending a Monopoly session in the least table-flipping way possible. Keep Getting Up Until People Get The Hint Whenever someone gets up during a board game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink, it can bring everything to a halt or, at the least, disengages everyone a little bit. Do this repeatedly, as in every couple of minutes, and people will get anxious. Throw in an obnoxious yawn or two while you’re at it. Eventually they’ll feel like stretching their legs, which then leads to the realization that the game has lasted the length of a Lord of the Rings marathon. It soon dawns on them that they promised their spouses at they’d return home at a reasonable hour, especially since they’re already on thin ice after their last all-night escapade. It only takes one person to vamoose for the rest of the party to crumble to pieces. Offer to Suspend the Game Intact for Another Session The group has invested too much time and fake money into this game to see it end without a winner no matter how fatigued they may be. Throw out that you’re tired, BUT you’ll be more than happy to leave the game in its place for a return session. It’s like suspending a video game except more inconvenient (for you). Still, doing so staves off the worst part of any board game: the clean-up. In reality, you’re likely good on Monopoly until the next, next Olympics, so play this card only as a Hail Mary compromise. Otherwise, prepare to spend the next week enjoying all of your meals on the floor if the group takes up the offer. Form Convoluted Alliances Savvy Monopoly players know that sometimes the only way to get ahead is to make deals along the way. Greatest hits include swapping a utility for that crucial missing railroad. Such agreements can annoy other players so dial this idea up to 11. Start by making a deal with Carrie to only charge half the fee for landing on each other’s properties. Then later strike an agreement with Derek to split the $200 Go reward if he’ll waive any fees on his turf. Unbeknownst to all of them, you’ve already arranged for Samantha, the banker, to have her regularly slip you money under the table in exchange for dinner and a movie. What does this George R.R. Martin-esque web of alliances accomplish? I’m not sure, but it’ll probably ruin the game due to the sheer chaos it would cause. Try Switching To A Video Game Video games are the natural predators to board games; the mongoose to its king cobra. Simply put, interactive entertainment is, arguably, more stimulating, takes up less table space, and always has all of its pieces in the box. Instead of merely suggesting Mario Kart or Jackbox, boldly fire up a game during a supposed bathroom break. When your friends wonder where you’ve disappeared to they’ll follow the siren call of digital merriment like a moth to a bright TV. This is another emergency option as it won’t actually get these people out of your house. But hey, it’s progress. Claim A Medical Emergency True story: in middle-school my friends and I were more or less abducted by a neighborhood gang over a now-humorous misunderstanding. They shuffled us back to their “crib” and made various threats until I came up with an ingenious solution. Harnessing my best fake tears, I pleaded with the hoodlums to let us go, claiming I needed to visit an ailing grandmother in the hospital who suffered from an ulcer (which was actually kind of true). To my surprise, the gang experienced genuine empathy and let us go. If such an excuse is good for diffusing potential gang violence, I’m fairly confident it can rescue you from this accursed board game. And that’s that! Now that you’ve escaped Monopoly’s black hole you’re now free to dive into the wealth of tabletop games! Enjoy the rest of the month! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  3. A middle finger usually conjures less than pleasant responses, but in Freedom Finger’s case, the infamous gesture stands for fun. This over-the-top take on the arcade shooter drops players into the cockpit of a spacecraft modeled after “The Bird” to battle foreign threats on behalf of the U.S. government. Freedom Finger comes from the minds of Executive Producer Jim Dirschberger, co-creator of the Nickelodeon series Sanjay and Craig, and his studio Wide Right Interactive. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: why a middle finger? Dirschberger says they chose it simply because it’s funny and, more importantly, recognizable and relatable. “There's no gesture or outline in the English language that probably reads better than a middle finger," he explains. "Everybody knows how they feel about it when they see one. So for me, not only having just that readability of a giant middle finger but the absurdity of the giant middle finger flying through space trying to save the human race, I just wanted to do something that was really absurd.” Freedom Finger takes cues from classic arcade-style shooters such as Gradius with players zapping obstacles from left to right. The ship, dubbed the Gamma Ray, fires rapid fire lasers from the tip of the offending digit. In a twist, players can also perform a melee punch to destroy targets or knock objects into enemies. Furthermore, the Gamma Ray can even grab a hold of enemy vessels to use their firepower as your own. Shooting and movement feel good, which is reassuring given that adversaries come at players in serpentine patterns and can unleash volleys of deadly projectiles. There’s also strategy in knowing when to fire from a distance and when to go in for a punch or capture. Levels take advantage of the unorthodox melee mechanics with designs rarely seen in the traditional shooter. One complicated area requires players to punch through blocks of sand to advance forward in an idea that feels more akin to a platformer. Another stage tasks players to hit switches in order to open gates and manipulate traps. They do a good job of breaking up the monotony of simply blasting oncoming foes, and Dirschberger promises a steady stream a level variety throughout the adventure. A melting pot of licensed music, ranging from punk to electronic to hip hop, plays a pivotal part in the experience. Wide Right designed trap patterns and overall level intensity to match the music tempos. Songs come courtesy of a roster of artists including Male Gaze, Aesop Rock, Red Fang, and many more. If the tunes didn’t add enough personality, the juvenile (in a good way) art direction certainly picks up the slack. The hand-drawn illustration and animations have an intentional, rough look to them–think a 2D version of David Jaffe’s Drawn to Death but more colorful and less disturbing. The aesthetic strongly evokes the vibe of early 90’s MTV, and Dirschberger even goes as far to describe it as a “crappier Cuphead.” “Cuphead is the AP art nerd. We're like the punk kid in the back of the class scribbling in a notebook.” says Dirschererger Wide Right has also invested a lot of time fine tuning Freedom Finger’s difficulty. Although on the surface it appears to follow the template of the typically tough-as-nails Bullet Hell genre, Dirschberger wants the experience to be approachable to everyone. The game features multiple accessibility options, like turning off collision damage and increasing overall health. Playing on an easier setting lets players enjoy the game in a more leisurely manner (at the cost of leaderboard progress). Freedom Finger ultimately emphasizes its zany story and writing more than anything, and the team at Wide Right wants to ensure that every player is able to soak it all in. Dirschberger once again refers to Cuphead as an example for the team’s direction: Cuphead's a great game that a lot of people didn't get to see the second half of because it's difficult, and that was a choice that those creators made. That's the experience they wanted you to have. I think we're just the opposite. I want people to be able to finish the game. I hate those dead end games where they sit in your Steam library for years and you're just like ‘I can't beat it’. I don't want that. Speaking of story, Freedom Finger’s irreverent, satirical writing feels like it’d fit in great as an Adult Swim show. A blowhard commander seems more concerned with patriotic grandstanding and calling for beers more often than Stone Cold Steve Austin than being a reasonable strategist. In one humorous scene, the commander implores the player to destroy a mysterious craft despite a mild-mannered mission control worker pleading that it’s, in fact, a Russian space station. Turns out he was right, and the Russian commander takes great exception to seeing his men needlessly slaughtered by a flying vulgarity. Freedom Finger is an unsurprisingly adult experience, though it features a censored option as well as humorous, cable TV style overdubs of swear words. A talented voice cast featuring the likes of Nolan North, John DiMaggio, and Sam Riegel bring the characters to life. Freedom Finger marks Dirschberger’s first foray into video games. A lifelong gamer, he states the itch to get into the game industry came after meeting indie devs at events like GDC and E3 and realizing the overlap between television production and game development: You got to have story, artwork, writing, quality assurance, editing, I mean those are all interchangeable between the two. The biggest difference is one is a locked down linear experience and one's interactive with programming. Those are not insignificant differences, but the majority of it was enough to get me started. I can animate, I can draw, I can do all this stuff. I should at least attempt it, and we haven't hit a problem that we haven't been able to overcome so I just kept going. After 2+ years of development work, Freedom Finger feels like the epitome of dumb fun. It’s goofy, it’s loud, it’s uncouth, but it’s also entertaining to play. As you might expect, the game has already turned heads. “It's been hilarious because when we were at PAX East the reactions of people that would stop by, they would either laugh and immediately want to play the game or they'd be totally disgusted and shake their heads like ‘what are you doing?’” chuckles Dirschberger. Gamers looking to put a middle finger to good use should keep an eye on Freedom Finger when it lands on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime this fall. One of the common misconceptions about Extra Life is that someone can only participate if they play video games. Not true! Extra Life supports and encourages all kinds of play. To that end, we have been supporting Tabletop Appreciation Weekend for the past few years. This year, the event takes place August 24-25th and will be a time for players to gather together and play board games for the kids. Learn more about Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  4. A middle finger usually conjures less than pleasant responses, but in Freedom Finger’s case, the infamous gesture stands for fun. This over-the-top take on the arcade shooter drops players into the cockpit of a spacecraft modeled after “The Bird” to battle foreign threats on behalf of the U.S. government. Freedom Finger comes from the minds of Executive Producer Jim Dirschberger, co-creator of the Nickelodeon series Sanjay and Craig, and his studio Wide Right Interactive. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: why a middle finger? Dirschberger says they chose it simply because it’s funny and, more importantly, recognizable and relatable. “There's no gesture or outline in the English language that probably reads better than a middle finger," he explains. "Everybody knows how they feel about it when they see one. So for me, not only having just that readability of a giant middle finger but the absurdity of the giant middle finger flying through space trying to save the human race, I just wanted to do something that was really absurd.” Freedom Finger takes cues from classic arcade-style shooters such as Gradius with players zapping obstacles from left to right. The ship, dubbed the Gamma Ray, fires rapid fire lasers from the tip of the offending digit. In a twist, players can also perform a melee punch to destroy targets or knock objects into enemies. Furthermore, the Gamma Ray can even grab a hold of enemy vessels to use their firepower as your own. Shooting and movement feel good, which is reassuring given that adversaries come at players in serpentine patterns and can unleash volleys of deadly projectiles. There’s also strategy in knowing when to fire from a distance and when to go in for a punch or capture. Levels take advantage of the unorthodox melee mechanics with designs rarely seen in the traditional shooter. One complicated area requires players to punch through blocks of sand to advance forward in an idea that feels more akin to a platformer. Another stage tasks players to hit switches in order to open gates and manipulate traps. They do a good job of breaking up the monotony of simply blasting oncoming foes, and Dirschberger promises a steady stream a level variety throughout the adventure. A melting pot of licensed music, ranging from punk to electronic to hip hop, plays a pivotal part in the experience. Wide Right designed trap patterns and overall level intensity to match the music tempos. Songs come courtesy of a roster of artists including Male Gaze, Aesop Rock, Red Fang, and many more. If the tunes didn’t add enough personality, the juvenile (in a good way) art direction certainly picks up the slack. The hand-drawn illustration and animations have an intentional, rough look to them–think a 2D version of David Jaffe’s Drawn to Death but more colorful and less disturbing. The aesthetic strongly evokes the vibe of early 90’s MTV, and Dirschberger even goes as far to describe it as a “crappier Cuphead.” “Cuphead is the AP art nerd. We're like the punk kid in the back of the class scribbling in a notebook.” says Dirschererger Wide Right has also invested a lot of time fine tuning Freedom Finger’s difficulty. Although on the surface it appears to follow the template of the typically tough-as-nails Bullet Hell genre, Dirschberger wants the experience to be approachable to everyone. The game features multiple accessibility options, like turning off collision damage and increasing overall health. Playing on an easier setting lets players enjoy the game in a more leisurely manner (at the cost of leaderboard progress). Freedom Finger ultimately emphasizes its zany story and writing more than anything, and the team at Wide Right wants to ensure that every player is able to soak it all in. Dirschberger once again refers to Cuphead as an example for the team’s direction: Cuphead's a great game that a lot of people didn't get to see the second half of because it's difficult, and that was a choice that those creators made. That's the experience they wanted you to have. I think we're just the opposite. I want people to be able to finish the game. I hate those dead end games where they sit in your Steam library for years and you're just like ‘I can't beat it’. I don't want that. Speaking of story, Freedom Finger’s irreverent, satirical writing feels like it’d fit in great as an Adult Swim show. A blowhard commander seems more concerned with patriotic grandstanding and calling for beers more often than Stone Cold Steve Austin than being a reasonable strategist. In one humorous scene, the commander implores the player to destroy a mysterious craft despite a mild-mannered mission control worker pleading that it’s, in fact, a Russian space station. Turns out he was right, and the Russian commander takes great exception to seeing his men needlessly slaughtered by a flying vulgarity. Freedom Finger is an unsurprisingly adult experience, though it features a censored option as well as humorous, cable TV style overdubs of swear words. A talented voice cast featuring the likes of Nolan North, John DiMaggio, and Sam Riegel bring the characters to life. Freedom Finger marks Dirschberger’s first foray into video games. A lifelong gamer, he states the itch to get into the game industry came after meeting indie devs at events like GDC and E3 and realizing the overlap between television production and game development: You got to have story, artwork, writing, quality assurance, editing, I mean those are all interchangeable between the two. The biggest difference is one is a locked down linear experience and one's interactive with programming. Those are not insignificant differences, but the majority of it was enough to get me started. I can animate, I can draw, I can do all this stuff. I should at least attempt it, and we haven't hit a problem that we haven't been able to overcome so I just kept going. After 2+ years of development work, Freedom Finger feels like the epitome of dumb fun. It’s goofy, it’s loud, it’s uncouth, but it’s also entertaining to play. As you might expect, the game has already turned heads. “It's been hilarious because when we were at PAX East the reactions of people that would stop by, they would either laugh and immediately want to play the game or they'd be totally disgusted and shake their heads like ‘what are you doing?’” chuckles Dirschberger. Gamers looking to put a middle finger to good use should keep an eye on Freedom Finger when it lands on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime this fall. One of the common misconceptions about Extra Life is that someone can only participate if they play video games. Not true! Extra Life supports and encourages all kinds of play. To that end, we have been supporting Tabletop Appreciation Weekend for the past few years. This year, the event takes place August 24-25th and will be a time for players to gather together and play board games for the kids. Learn more about Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  5. Take one glance at Terrorarium by Stitch Media, and it’s impossible not to think of Nintendo’s Pikmin. Both games share a similar premise with a lone traveler utilizing an armada of diminutive aliens to overcome obstacles. Terrorarium veers left, though, by encouraging the willful destruction of your cute companions as opposed to building their numbers. The result almost feels like a spoof of Shigeru Miyamoto’s lovable plant buddies that, with time, could become a respectable counterpart. Players control the Gardener, an elderly, and perhaps sadistic, woman in command of an army of tiny creatures called Moogu. These cute critters can be gathered together, told to wait, and lobbed at obstacles. Moogu come in a variety of types sporting unique abilities. Gassy Moogu, for example, can inflate themselves to allow the player to float. Spicy Moogu ignite flammable objects such as wood and plantlife. Two types of Moogu can be carried at a time, with additional types coming from eating the fruit of Moogu trees. While Pikmin values building items and growing an army, Terrorarium revels in the concept of self destruction. Stages usually require players to sacrifice Moogu, whether it be using them to trigger explosive vegetables or offering a set amount to the end-level tree. When Moogu die, the remaining horde use the corpses to spawn new Moogu. That means you’ll need to intentionally slaughter Moogu in order to get more of them. End-game messages reinforce this theme by teasingly asking the player how many Moogu died for their success or outright calling them monsters. Just because death is often the answer doesn’t mean you should completely throw caution to the wind. If Moogu multiply too much, their large numbers will overwhelm the player which leads to Game Over. A meter on top of the screen represents the maximum number of Moogu allowed per stage. Thus, Terrorium becomes a balancing act of skillfully growing and depleting Moogu supply. Stages present a series of environmental puzzles to overcome. Some obstacles can only be traversed by the Gardener or the Moogu. One stage featured two routes: one filled with water while the other was a spike pit. The Gardener can cross water but Moogu cannot. Conversely, spike pits are a no-go to players but a non-issue to Moogu. The solution came in having the Moogu wait on the edge of the spiked path while I crossed the water to the other side. I then beckoned the Moogu across the spikes to the end goal. Most of the introductory stages I played were similarly easy and decently entertaining. One of the more devious levels forced me to continually sacrifice Spicy Moogu by tossing them into a long series of spiked logs. Corpses piled up in a hurry, and since Moogu are attracted to corpses, I had to reach the end faster than the Moogu could reproduce. Terrorarium’s 20+ stages aren’t the most visually interesting (especially compared to Pikmin’s charming “little person in a giant world” theme), but players can build their own in the Maker Mode. The editor puts all of the game’s assets at player’s fingertips with levels being made from scratch or from three presets: Mountain, Dungeon, and Sprint. Mountain stages are designed to be tougher from the outset. Dungeon focuses on more complicated, puzzle-like layouts. Lastly, Sprint levels encourage speedy playthroughs. Creations can be uploaded to Steam Workshop where other homemade stages can be downloaded to play. The easy-to-use tools make slapping levels together a breeze, and players can instantly hop in them for quick test runs. Terrorarium taps into some of Pikmin’s magic but seems to differentiate itself enough to stand on its own. The premise has potential, so hopefully the later stages ratchet up the challenge and creativity. I’d also like to see additional types of Moogu added to the final game as there’s only a handful at the moment. Terrorarium is currently for sale in Steam Early Access with a release date to be announced at a later time. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. Take one glance at Terrorarium by Stitch Media, and it’s impossible not to think of Nintendo’s Pikmin. Both games share a similar premise with a lone traveler utilizing an armada of diminutive aliens to overcome obstacles. Terrorarium veers left, though, by encouraging the willful destruction of your cute companions as opposed to building their numbers. The result almost feels like a spoof of Shigeru Miyamoto’s lovable plant buddies that, with time, could become a respectable counterpart. Players control the Gardener, an elderly, and perhaps sadistic, woman in command of an army of tiny creatures called Moogu. These cute critters can be gathered together, told to wait, and lobbed at obstacles. Moogu come in a variety of types sporting unique abilities. Gassy Moogu, for example, can inflate themselves to allow the player to float. Spicy Moogu ignite flammable objects such as wood and plantlife. Two types of Moogu can be carried at a time, with additional types coming from eating the fruit of Moogu trees. While Pikmin values building items and growing an army, Terrorarium revels in the concept of self destruction. Stages usually require players to sacrifice Moogu, whether it be using them to trigger explosive vegetables or offering a set amount to the end-level tree. When Moogu die, the remaining horde use the corpses to spawn new Moogu. That means you’ll need to intentionally slaughter Moogu in order to get more of them. End-game messages reinforce this theme by teasingly asking the player how many Moogu died for their success or outright calling them monsters. Just because death is often the answer doesn’t mean you should completely throw caution to the wind. If Moogu multiply too much, their large numbers will overwhelm the player which leads to Game Over. A meter on top of the screen represents the maximum number of Moogu allowed per stage. Thus, Terrorium becomes a balancing act of skillfully growing and depleting Moogu supply. Stages present a series of environmental puzzles to overcome. Some obstacles can only be traversed by the Gardener or the Moogu. One stage featured two routes: one filled with water while the other was a spike pit. The Gardener can cross water but Moogu cannot. Conversely, spike pits are a no-go to players but a non-issue to Moogu. The solution came in having the Moogu wait on the edge of the spiked path while I crossed the water to the other side. I then beckoned the Moogu across the spikes to the end goal. Most of the introductory stages I played were similarly easy and decently entertaining. One of the more devious levels forced me to continually sacrifice Spicy Moogu by tossing them into a long series of spiked logs. Corpses piled up in a hurry, and since Moogu are attracted to corpses, I had to reach the end faster than the Moogu could reproduce. Terrorarium’s 20+ stages aren’t the most visually interesting (especially compared to Pikmin’s charming “little person in a giant world” theme), but players can build their own in the Maker Mode. The editor puts all of the game’s assets at player’s fingertips with levels being made from scratch or from three presets: Mountain, Dungeon, and Sprint. Mountain stages are designed to be tougher from the outset. Dungeon focuses on more complicated, puzzle-like layouts. Lastly, Sprint levels encourage speedy playthroughs. Creations can be uploaded to Steam Workshop where other homemade stages can be downloaded to play. The easy-to-use tools make slapping levels together a breeze, and players can instantly hop in them for quick test runs. Terrorarium taps into some of Pikmin’s magic but seems to differentiate itself enough to stand on its own. The premise has potential, so hopefully the later stages ratchet up the challenge and creativity. I’d also like to see additional types of Moogu added to the final game as there’s only a handful at the moment. Terrorarium is currently for sale in Steam Early Access with a release date to be announced at a later time. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. Creating a truly multiplayer shooter that differentiates itself feels nigh impossible given the sheer glut of games in the genre. Lemnis Gate (previously known as Convergence) by Canadian developer Ratloop Games may well pull it off. This inventive shooter combines elements of time travel and turn-based mechanics to create a truly fresh and mind-boggling take on a well-worn genre. Lemnis Gate’s core gameplay revolves around a difficult concept to explain so let’s start with the basics. The game is a hero-based first-person shooter that pits up to four opposing players against each other. Instead of controlling one individual character, each player commands an entire squad from a roster of 7 heroes (so far). Like similar games, Heroes sport specific traits and loadouts, such as one focused on laying down traps. Players win matches by completing their respective missions. In the bout I played against game director James Anderson, I needed to destroy one of three objectives. Anderson’s job was to protect them. Still with me? Good, because that’s where the simplicity ends. Like a tactical RPG, matches play out with each player taking turns to perform actions. Turns grants players 25 seconds to move anywhere and do anything on the map. Whatever you decide to do, every action is recorded and saved as a repeating loop that constantly replays itself every turn. I use my first turn to run down a hallway, enter a room containing the objective, and destroy it. That action will repeat itself in subsequent turns–unless something interferes with it. It’s Anderson’s turn next. After witnessing my move, he counters by taking a quicker route to the same hallway that my past self will soon arrive in. He lays a proximity mine. When my Hero enters that hallway he’s blown to bits. This means he never gets to destroy the objective as he had before. My previous outcome has been erased from time. If that sounds complicated it only gets crazier. Now that Anderson’s counter is in play I have two options for my second turn. I can either chase after one of the other objectives instead or try to neutralize his previous action. I choose the latter. I take a different route and locate Anderson’s character in route of setting his proximity mine. I gun him down before he reaches his planned destination. Events have once again been altered. Since my second loop interfered with Anderson’s first loop, that means MY first loop proceeds unimpeded. My first Hero destroys the objective as before. Loops will continue to stack like this as players try to outwit one another. Once all of the turns are expired, a match that took several minutes to set up plays out in 25 seconds in real-time. Loops collide and interfere with each other–a cool scene to watch unfold–and whoever successfully pulls off their mission wins. Like chess, Lemnis Gate is a game about planning multiple moves ahead by predicting/manipulating your opponent’s actions. As such, the game lends itself to a variety of strategies. One tactic Anderson regularly used against me was to stand in a doorway or corridor and unload fire. If I were to enter those areas, I’d be met with a barrage of bullets–a smart play for cutting off key areas. However, friendly fire is enabled so you have to keep your own moves in mind too, lest you fall prey to yourself. Anderson once bit the dust by crossing paths with a shotgun blast fired by his own time looped hero. This design also means players are essentially playing alongside multiple versions of themselves as teammates, something Ratloop refers to as “Auto Co-op”. Up to four players can enjoy Lemnis Gate on a single screen with one controller. There’s no split-screen whatsoever; players simply pass the gamepad between turns. This makes the game extremely accessible since you won’t have to worry about having enough controllers for everyone. Everything looked and played well, an impressive feat given that Lemnis Gate has only been in development for less than a year. Though I largely sucked at the game (playing against an experienced developer didn’t help either), I had a blast with Lemnis Gate. As a shooter it plays competently, but more than anything I was in awe at the level of strategy at play. Once I got my head around the concept I found myself thinking of new, better tactics I couldn’t wait to try out. Lemnis Gate is one of those games you have to play yourself to truly appreciate/understand. There’s no release window for now but 2020 would be the earliest launch period with PC and potentially consoles as target platforms. Until then, multiplayer shooters fan looking for a shake-up should definitely keep Lemnis Gate on their radars. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  8. Creating a truly multiplayer shooter that differentiates itself feels nigh impossible given the sheer glut of games in the genre. Lemnis Gate (previously known as Convergence) by Canadian developer Ratloop Games may well pull it off. This inventive shooter combines elements of time travel and turn-based mechanics to create a truly fresh and mind-boggling take on a well-worn genre. Lemnis Gate’s core gameplay revolves around a difficult concept to explain so let’s start with the basics. The game is a hero-based first-person shooter that pits up to four opposing players against each other. Instead of controlling one individual character, each player commands an entire squad from a roster of 7 heroes (so far). Like similar games, Heroes sport specific traits and loadouts, such as one focused on laying down traps. Players win matches by completing their respective missions. In the bout I played against game director James Anderson, I needed to destroy one of three objectives. Anderson’s job was to protect them. Still with me? Good, because that’s where the simplicity ends. Like a tactical RPG, matches play out with each player taking turns to perform actions. Turns grants players 25 seconds to move anywhere and do anything on the map. Whatever you decide to do, every action is recorded and saved as a repeating loop that constantly replays itself every turn. I use my first turn to run down a hallway, enter a room containing the objective, and destroy it. That action will repeat itself in subsequent turns–unless something interferes with it. It’s Anderson’s turn next. After witnessing my move, he counters by taking a quicker route to the same hallway that my past self will soon arrive in. He lays a proximity mine. When my Hero enters that hallway he’s blown to bits. This means he never gets to destroy the objective as he had before. My previous outcome has been erased from time. If that sounds complicated it only gets crazier. Now that Anderson’s counter is in play I have two options for my second turn. I can either chase after one of the other objectives instead or try to neutralize his previous action. I choose the latter. I take a different route and locate Anderson’s character in route of setting his proximity mine. I gun him down before he reaches his planned destination. Events have once again been altered. Since my second loop interfered with Anderson’s first loop, that means MY first loop proceeds unimpeded. My first Hero destroys the objective as before. Loops will continue to stack like this as players try to outwit one another. Once all of the turns are expired, a match that took several minutes to set up plays out in 25 seconds in real-time. Loops collide and interfere with each other–a cool scene to watch unfold–and whoever successfully pulls off their mission wins. Like chess, Lemnis Gate is a game about planning multiple moves ahead by predicting/manipulating your opponent’s actions. As such, the game lends itself to a variety of strategies. One tactic Anderson regularly used against me was to stand in a doorway or corridor and unload fire. If I were to enter those areas, I’d be met with a barrage of bullets–a smart play for cutting off key areas. However, friendly fire is enabled so you have to keep your own moves in mind too, lest you fall prey to yourself. Anderson once bit the dust by crossing paths with a shotgun blast fired by his own time looped hero. This design also means players are essentially playing alongside multiple versions of themselves as teammates, something Ratloop refers to as “Auto Co-op”. Up to four players can enjoy Lemnis Gate on a single screen with one controller. There’s no split-screen whatsoever; players simply pass the gamepad between turns. This makes the game extremely accessible since you won’t have to worry about having enough controllers for everyone. Everything looked and played well, an impressive feat given that Lemnis Gate has only been in development for less than a year. Though I largely sucked at the game (playing against an experienced developer didn’t help either), I had a blast with Lemnis Gate. As a shooter it plays competently, but more than anything I was in awe at the level of strategy at play. Once I got my head around the concept I found myself thinking of new, better tactics I couldn’t wait to try out. Lemnis Gate is one of those games you have to play yourself to truly appreciate/understand. There’s no release window for now but 2020 would be the earliest launch period with PC and potentially consoles as target platforms. Until then, multiplayer shooters fan looking for a shake-up should definitely keep Lemnis Gate on their radars. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  9. Those attending IndieCade’s booth during E3 probably heard the pitch for Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble loud and clear: “Tired of waiting for Nintendo to make a new Advance Wars? Check out Tiny Metal!” That battle cry from Area 35’s enthusiastic hype-man about sums up the project. Though I’ve never played Advance Wars, I love turn-based strategy and Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble feels like a respectable take on the genre. Full Metal Rumble is a sequel to 2017’s Tiny Metal and, like any good sequel, promises to be bigger and better than its predecessor. Like Advance Wars, players control armies made up of a variety of infantrymen, tanks, and assault vehicles, among others. Anyone familiar with the genre will pick up on the game mechanics immediately. Every turn, players push their units across a grid-shaped battlefield to complete objectives like wiping out enemies or capturing rogue headquarters. The map is largely hidden from view by a fog–or really blocks–of war that makes careful scouting a necessity. Players gradually reveal surroundings as they advance, meaning they must balance offense with a reactive defense until they’re within spitting distance of targets. Stepping onto a hidden tile occupied by a foe will cause said enemy to ambush the player. Units have four offensive options: Attack, Assault, Lock On, and Special. Attack does exactly what you’d expect. Assault deals less damage but pushes defending targets a tile away. Lock On allows multiple units concentrate fire on a single enemy, which can be useful against hardier foes. Specials are powerful abilities that appear periodically. An example would be a buff that increases the attack, defense, and movement of nearby allies. As units take down enemies they’ll Rank Up, becoming increasingly more powerful. Taking down foes isn’t the only job to focus on. Players generate coins each turn which are used to purchase more units. Capturing buildings becomes vital as owned structures will pump out additional units, resources, and currency. This eliminates the need to rely solely on the beginning factory, plus new recruits won’t have to trek from the start of the map. Individual units consume fuel and ammo, which are resupplied at friendly factory or city tiles. Keep that in mind as mismanagement of these tools could leave soldiers without the resources to defend themselves. Terrain matters as well. Some tiles, such as tundra, boost defense. Units hunkered in forested tiles are tougher to hit while mountainous tiles can’t be traversed at all. The campaign features 39 maps that weave with what Area 35 describes as a “twisting” and dramatic narrative. Three distinct characters share the spotlight. One searches for her lost brother, another hunts ancient, powerful artifacts, while the third pursues a mysterious adversary. A Skirmish mode lets players focus purely on the action across 77 maps of varying types and sizes. Those who want to test their strategic mettle against other would-be General Pattons can do so in a head-to-head online multiplayer mode. As a fan of the genre, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble didn’t surprise me, but it proved to be a competent and enjoyable experience. As I made my way across a winter-themed map I engaged with enemies while churning out reinforcements in the background. The game hits many of the genre’s sweet spots like the satisfaction of strategically leading an army against decently challenging opposition. Those looking for something to fill the long empty void left by Advance Wars can pick up Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble right now on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  10. Those attending IndieCade’s booth during E3 probably heard the pitch for Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble loud and clear: “Tired of waiting for Nintendo to make a new Advance Wars? Check out Tiny Metal!” That battle cry from Area 35’s enthusiastic hype-man about sums up the project. Though I’ve never played Advance Wars, I love turn-based strategy and Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble feels like a respectable take on the genre. Full Metal Rumble is a sequel to 2017’s Tiny Metal and, like any good sequel, promises to be bigger and better than its predecessor. Like Advance Wars, players control armies made up of a variety of infantrymen, tanks, and assault vehicles, among others. Anyone familiar with the genre will pick up on the game mechanics immediately. Every turn, players push their units across a grid-shaped battlefield to complete objectives like wiping out enemies or capturing rogue headquarters. The map is largely hidden from view by a fog–or really blocks–of war that makes careful scouting a necessity. Players gradually reveal surroundings as they advance, meaning they must balance offense with a reactive defense until they’re within spitting distance of targets. Stepping onto a hidden tile occupied by a foe will cause said enemy to ambush the player. Units have four offensive options: Attack, Assault, Lock On, and Special. Attack does exactly what you’d expect. Assault deals less damage but pushes defending targets a tile away. Lock On allows multiple units concentrate fire on a single enemy, which can be useful against hardier foes. Specials are powerful abilities that appear periodically. An example would be a buff that increases the attack, defense, and movement of nearby allies. As units take down enemies they’ll Rank Up, becoming increasingly more powerful. Taking down foes isn’t the only job to focus on. Players generate coins each turn which are used to purchase more units. Capturing buildings becomes vital as owned structures will pump out additional units, resources, and currency. This eliminates the need to rely solely on the beginning factory, plus new recruits won’t have to trek from the start of the map. Individual units consume fuel and ammo, which are resupplied at friendly factory or city tiles. Keep that in mind as mismanagement of these tools could leave soldiers without the resources to defend themselves. Terrain matters as well. Some tiles, such as tundra, boost defense. Units hunkered in forested tiles are tougher to hit while mountainous tiles can’t be traversed at all. The campaign features 39 maps that weave with what Area 35 describes as a “twisting” and dramatic narrative. Three distinct characters share the spotlight. One searches for her lost brother, another hunts ancient, powerful artifacts, while the third pursues a mysterious adversary. A Skirmish mode lets players focus purely on the action across 77 maps of varying types and sizes. Those who want to test their strategic mettle against other would-be General Pattons can do so in a head-to-head online multiplayer mode. As a fan of the genre, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble didn’t surprise me, but it proved to be a competent and enjoyable experience. As I made my way across a winter-themed map I engaged with enemies while churning out reinforcements in the background. The game hits many of the genre’s sweet spots like the satisfaction of strategically leading an army against decently challenging opposition. Those looking for something to fill the long empty void left by Advance Wars can pick up Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble right now on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  11. I don’t own a virtual reality headset and have little familiarity with the Sniper Elite series but Sniper Elite VR made me consider diving into both. The upcoming game, a collaboration between developers Rebellion and Just Add Water, uses the immersion of VR to enhance the already tense thrill of sharpshooting. This reinvention on the popular series is a standalone entry set in World War 2 era Sicily. Nazi forces, specifically German U-boats, occupy the Italian city. Players join up with the local resistance force to help drive them out. Story specifics are scarce, but author Tony Schumacher, known for his John Rosset series of war novels, lends his writing chops to the campaign. Rebellion boasts the adventure will take players across a variety of locales, from wartorn villages to airfields and bunkers. I spent a brief time with Sniper Elite VR at E3 where it had been officially unveiled. Rebellion had the game set up for PlayStation VR, though it’s also compatible with Oculus Rift and available through SteamVR and Viveport. On Sony’s headset, players can control the game using either PlayStation Move, PlayStation Aim, or the DualShock 4. The Aim became my weapon of choice; it’s gun-shaped form lends to the most authentic sniper experience. The demo began by dropping onto the rooftop of village warzone. Shots whizzed perilously towards by my head from an enemy on the ground which forced me to quickly grab a weapon to retaliate. As I brought the the Aim controller to up my eye the view transitioned into a sniper scope for realistic aiming. It’s an awesome mechanic that effectively sold the idea that I was holding an actual sniper rifle. I took the shot which then entered into Sniper Elite’s famous slow-motion x-ray kill cam, which has been rebuilt from scratch to suit VR. The bullet tore through his sternum, graphically displaying every shattered bone and ruptured organ as it exited his body. I dashed across makeshift bridges to other rooftops and took down foes hunkered in adjacent buildings and on the street. At one point a tank entered the fray and unleashed a barrage of cannonfire. The explosions looked and sounded great. The well-tuned controls impressed; I never had an issue with performing an action. Popping in and out of cover, physically dodging incoming fire, then peering into the scope and nailing a clean headshot felt unexpectedly thrilling. Movement and camera control can either be the standard smooth transition like in regular shooters or the staple VR teleport. I opted for the former and used the sticks to run and look around as normal. Though functional and familiar, that smoothness came at a price: a mild spell of motion sickness that forced me to wrap things up sooner than expected. Still, as I hobbled out of the demo room, I walked away pleased with what I played. Rebellion has done a lot of work to make VR a natural fit for Sniper Elite and it should be a unique treat for fans. Unfortunately, the game has no release window as of yet. We’ll have to wait and see when we can engage in this brutal and immersive fight for liberation. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  12. I don’t own a virtual reality headset and have little familiarity with the Sniper Elite series but Sniper Elite VR made me consider diving into both. The upcoming game, a collaboration between developers Rebellion and Just Add Water, uses the immersion of VR to enhance the already tense thrill of sharpshooting. This reinvention on the popular series is a standalone entry set in World War 2 era Sicily. Nazi forces, specifically German U-boats, occupy the Italian city. Players join up with the local resistance force to help drive them out. Story specifics are scarce, but author Tony Schumacher, known for his John Rosset series of war novels, lends his writing chops to the campaign. Rebellion boasts the adventure will take players across a variety of locales, from wartorn villages to airfields and bunkers. I spent a brief time with Sniper Elite VR at E3 where it had been officially unveiled. Rebellion had the game set up for PlayStation VR, though it’s also compatible with Oculus Rift and available through SteamVR and Viveport. On Sony’s headset, players can control the game using either PlayStation Move, PlayStation Aim, or the DualShock 4. The Aim became my weapon of choice; it’s gun-shaped form lends to the most authentic sniper experience. The demo began by dropping onto the rooftop of village warzone. Shots whizzed perilously towards by my head from an enemy on the ground which forced me to quickly grab a weapon to retaliate. As I brought the the Aim controller to up my eye the view transitioned into a sniper scope for realistic aiming. It’s an awesome mechanic that effectively sold the idea that I was holding an actual sniper rifle. I took the shot which then entered into Sniper Elite’s famous slow-motion x-ray kill cam, which has been rebuilt from scratch to suit VR. The bullet tore through his sternum, graphically displaying every shattered bone and ruptured organ as it exited his body. I dashed across makeshift bridges to other rooftops and took down foes hunkered in adjacent buildings and on the street. At one point a tank entered the fray and unleashed a barrage of cannonfire. The explosions looked and sounded great. The well-tuned controls impressed; I never had an issue with performing an action. Popping in and out of cover, physically dodging incoming fire, then peering into the scope and nailing a clean headshot felt unexpectedly thrilling. Movement and camera control can either be the standard smooth transition like in regular shooters or the staple VR teleport. I opted for the former and used the sticks to run and look around as normal. Though functional and familiar, that smoothness came at a price: a mild spell of motion sickness that forced me to wrap things up sooner than expected. Still, as I hobbled out of the demo room, I walked away pleased with what I played. Rebellion has done a lot of work to make VR a natural fit for Sniper Elite and it should be a unique treat for fans. Unfortunately, the game has no release window as of yet. We’ll have to wait and see when we can engage in this brutal and immersive fight for liberation. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  13. Jetpacks sit high among the list of awesome contraptions many of us will likely never use. Fortunately, Ascend is a virtual reality title that simulates that experience while adding a competitive wrinkle. Team Newspaper Hats’ upcoming game pits competing headset users against each other in clashes that combine aerial dogfights with Capture the Flag-style gameplay. At E3 2019, I strapped inside of an Oculus Rift to take to the skies in, quite literally, high-stakes combat. Ascend takes place on an abandoned, dystopian world where its remaining warriors engage in aerial contests in the name of glory. The demo features two characters: Mufid the Inventor and Gloriana the Highborne. The former wields plasma blasters while the latter uses twin holoswords. Ascend’s multiplayer supports up to three players so I imagine at last one more warrior will be added in the future. Since I have more experience using guns in VR than melee weapons, I opt for Mufid. The free-for-all mode Fracture stands as the centerpiece of Ascend. This contest tasks players with collecting objectives and then delivering them to the top of a tower at the map’s center. The first person to deliver them all wins. Objectives are represented by glowing orbs scattered across the area. Since VR still hasn’t been widely adopted, a multiplayer game runs the high risk of having a shallow user pool. Thankfully, Ascend supports cross-play across its three platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows MR. This should hopefully help bolster the player count. Flight is executed by Ascend’s Lean Motion System. Leaning your head forward allows players to soar in that direction. Designated buttons on the Oculus Touch controllers operate upward and downward propulsion. While it does emulate the sensation of a using a jetpack, I also couldn’t help but feel like I was piloting Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. As I load into the tutorial area the somewhat sensitive head-tracking takes adjusting. I repeatedly wiz headfirst into walls (the virtual kind, thankfully) until I figure out the right degree to lean in for smooth flight. Once I do, I’m able to zip around the world with relative ease and it feels great. Best and most importantly of all, I don’t feel a hint of motion sickness. Fracture begins and I immediately notice the in-game markers indicating the general locations of the objectives. I spot the first orb, collect it, and then race upwards towards the top of the tower. Just when I figure out how to correctly stick the landing in this zone, my opponent and demo partner discovers and eradicates me. If nothing else, the setback reminds me of my own offensive arsenal. In addition to shooting lasers Mufid has a neat special ability. Holding the controllers sideways charges her Bullet Hell technique. Upon release Mufid fires a spherical barrier that traps and ricochets any bullet fired inside of it. This is great for capturing foes and then tearing them to shreds with a single shot. After respawning I locate my opponent, now clutching an orb, racing to the tower. I see this as a great chance to try my special move. Miraculously, I catch her inside of the sphere on my first attempt and watch in glee as my follow up shot annihilates my adversary. I collect the now free orb, fly up to the tower unimpeded, and, after waiting for a timer to deplete, score the first point. I have my bearings by this point so I proceed to go on the offensive, relentlessly chasing and blasting my opponent before they can locate the last two objectives. Shooting feels good and it’s genuinely thrilling to take someone down. My aggressive strategy pays off; I capture the remaining two orbs with relative ease, giving me the 3-0 victory. Ascend plays well and definitely has its thrills, but I worry about its longevity. Fracture seems to be the only mode it has going for it thus far, and playing the same thing will eventually get old. Hopefully some more destinations will make their way into the game. But if jetpacks + sports + combat sounds like a winning formula, look for Ascend to launch on PC this summer. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  14. Jetpacks sit high among the list of awesome contraptions many of us will likely never use. Fortunately, Ascend is a virtual reality title that simulates that experience while adding a competitive wrinkle. Team Newspaper Hats’ upcoming game pits competing headset users against each other in clashes that combine aerial dogfights with Capture the Flag-style gameplay. At E3 2019, I strapped inside of an Oculus Rift to take to the skies in, quite literally, high-stakes combat. Ascend takes place on an abandoned, dystopian world where its remaining warriors engage in aerial contests in the name of glory. The demo features two characters: Mufid the Inventor and Gloriana the Highborne. The former wields plasma blasters while the latter uses twin holoswords. Ascend’s multiplayer supports up to three players so I imagine at last one more warrior will be added in the future. Since I have more experience using guns in VR than melee weapons, I opt for Mufid. The free-for-all mode Fracture stands as the centerpiece of Ascend. This contest tasks players with collecting objectives and then delivering them to the top of a tower at the map’s center. The first person to deliver them all wins. Objectives are represented by glowing orbs scattered across the area. Since VR still hasn’t been widely adopted, a multiplayer game runs the high risk of having a shallow user pool. Thankfully, Ascend supports cross-play across its three platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows MR. This should hopefully help bolster the player count. Flight is executed by Ascend’s Lean Motion System. Leaning your head forward allows players to soar in that direction. Designated buttons on the Oculus Touch controllers operate upward and downward propulsion. While it does emulate the sensation of a using a jetpack, I also couldn’t help but feel like I was piloting Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. As I load into the tutorial area the somewhat sensitive head-tracking takes adjusting. I repeatedly wiz headfirst into walls (the virtual kind, thankfully) until I figure out the right degree to lean in for smooth flight. Once I do, I’m able to zip around the world with relative ease and it feels great. Best and most importantly of all, I don’t feel a hint of motion sickness. Fracture begins and I immediately notice the in-game markers indicating the general locations of the objectives. I spot the first orb, collect it, and then race upwards towards the top of the tower. Just when I figure out how to correctly stick the landing in this zone, my opponent and demo partner discovers and eradicates me. If nothing else, the setback reminds me of my own offensive arsenal. In addition to shooting lasers Mufid has a neat special ability. Holding the controllers sideways charges her Bullet Hell technique. Upon release Mufid fires a spherical barrier that traps and ricochets any bullet fired inside of it. This is great for capturing foes and then tearing them to shreds with a single shot. After respawning I locate my opponent, now clutching an orb, racing to the tower. I see this as a great chance to try my special move. Miraculously, I catch her inside of the sphere on my first attempt and watch in glee as my follow up shot annihilates my adversary. I collect the now free orb, fly up to the tower unimpeded, and, after waiting for a timer to deplete, score the first point. I have my bearings by this point so I proceed to go on the offensive, relentlessly chasing and blasting my opponent before they can locate the last two objectives. Shooting feels good and it’s genuinely thrilling to take someone down. My aggressive strategy pays off; I capture the remaining two orbs with relative ease, giving me the 3-0 victory. Ascend plays well and definitely has its thrills, but I worry about its longevity. Fracture seems to be the only mode it has going for it thus far, and playing the same thing will eventually get old. Hopefully some more destinations will make their way into the game. But if jetpacks + sports + combat sounds like a winning formula, look for Ascend to launch on PC this summer. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  15. Infinite Children might be the strangest thing I’ve experienced in recent memory. This bizarre narrative adventure game tasks players with extending the life of Theo, an 8-year old child, with the assistance of a futuristic pharmaceutical company. The path to that goal involves talking space dragons, floating castles, abstract voids, among other oddities. Perhaps the only aspect weirder is Infinite Children’s unorthodox release; a launch I unexpectedly played a pivotal role in. The game, described as a science fiction audiobook, is the brainchild of designer Peter Brinson. While attempting to increase Theo’s life span, players go through a series of first-person narrative puzzles segments. Describing these levels as “dreamlike” feels like an understatement. You’ll travel down theater aisles floating in space, occupied by robe-wearing dragons making snarky comments. Other times you fly through cosmic tunnels filled with drifting doors and energy beams. Some segments are on-rails, others are controlled directly. Regardless, Infinite Children almost feels hallucinogenic in its trippiness. Though actions largely involve simply moving forward and looking around, determining what actually needs to be done to progress isn’t always clear. Some segments are straightforward such as leading an avatar of Theo down a straight path to a castle. Conversely, I traveled a spiral pathway littered with lock symbols that I wasn’t sure if I should collect or avoid. I didn’t know how I made most of my progress and usually shrugged and thought “sure, I guess” whenever the story advanced in a manner that felt correct. As the game progress Theo’s life quickly balloons to the point of being hundreds of years old. Audio recordings of an adult Theo, as well has his future daughter Mia, paint the multi-generational narrative with out-of-context anecdotes. Far as I can tell the story deals with Theo having to reconcile with possessing a youthful body and unnaturally long life span. Mia, meanwhile, discusses her strange upbringing, such as having a father who looks as young as her despite being many times older. I’m admittedly not the greatest at interpreting abstract storytelling, but I suspect a fascinating, perhaps somewhat contrived, tale lies underneath the copious layers of weird. Like Theo, Infinite Children as a whole spent most of its existence in a state of constant growth. Until recently it had a unique (and very meta) mechanic where the game’s overall length increased as players earned achievements. When Infinite Children first entered Steam in early May it lasted only a few minutes. Thanks to all of its players it clocked in over a half an hour by E3. This also meant that the story was unfinished; the longer the game got, the more the narrative revealed itself. Infinite Children needed 20,000 achievements to unlock the full game to the world. That’s where I came in. Before I began Infinite Children, Brinson informed me that the game was on the cusp of earning the final achievements necessary to unlock the full experience. Specifically, that I could be the one to do it. Though a cool feat, it wasn’t a goal I made a point to aim for. Sure enough, though, by the time I wrapped up my demo an elated Brinson informed me I earned the required achievements. Because of me, the world could now play Infinite Children in its entirety. Brinson commemorated the big milestone with a photo (posted below), providing the final, surreal cherry on top of an already wacky experience. Infinite Children is one strange bird. I’m not sure if I necessarily had fun with it more so than I felt perplexed and intrigued with everything I was witnessing. It felt like riding the world’s most confusing amusement park attraction.The design and storytelling feels hit and miss, and I wish certain spots had more clarity, but I definitely respect the experimentation. Plus, I can now say that I more or less helped launch a video game during E3. Anyone interested in giving Infinite Children a shot should be happy to know that the game is available for free on Steam. What it doesn’t ask for in price it demands in understanding, patience, and an open mind. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  16. Infinite Children might be the strangest thing I’ve experienced in recent memory. This bizarre narrative adventure game tasks players with extending the life of Theo, an 8-year old child, with the assistance of a futuristic pharmaceutical company. The path to that goal involves talking space dragons, floating castles, abstract voids, among other oddities. Perhaps the only aspect weirder is Infinite Children’s unorthodox release; a launch I unexpectedly played a pivotal role in. The game, described as a science fiction audiobook, is the brainchild of designer Peter Brinson. While attempting to increase Theo’s life span, players go through a series of first-person narrative puzzles segments. Describing these levels as “dreamlike” feels like an understatement. You’ll travel down theater aisles floating in space, occupied by robe-wearing dragons making snarky comments. Other times you fly through cosmic tunnels filled with drifting doors and energy beams. Some segments are on-rails, others are controlled directly. Regardless, Infinite Children almost feels hallucinogenic in its trippiness. Though actions largely involve simply moving forward and looking around, determining what actually needs to be done to progress isn’t always clear. Some segments are straightforward such as leading an avatar of Theo down a straight path to a castle. Conversely, I traveled a spiral pathway littered with lock symbols that I wasn’t sure if I should collect or avoid. I didn’t know how I made most of my progress and usually shrugged and thought “sure, I guess” whenever the story advanced in a manner that felt correct. As the game progress Theo’s life quickly balloons to the point of being hundreds of years old. Audio recordings of an adult Theo, as well has his future daughter Mia, paint the multi-generational narrative with out-of-context anecdotes. Far as I can tell the story deals with Theo having to reconcile with possessing a youthful body and unnaturally long life span. Mia, meanwhile, discusses her strange upbringing, such as having a father who looks as young as her despite being many times older. I’m admittedly not the greatest at interpreting abstract storytelling, but I suspect a fascinating, perhaps somewhat contrived, tale lies underneath the copious layers of weird. Like Theo, Infinite Children as a whole spent most of its existence in a state of constant growth. Until recently it had a unique (and very meta) mechanic where the game’s overall length increased as players earned achievements. When Infinite Children first entered Steam in early May it lasted only a few minutes. Thanks to all of its players it clocked in over a half an hour by E3. This also meant that the story was unfinished; the longer the game got, the more the narrative revealed itself. Infinite Children needed 20,000 achievements to unlock the full game to the world. That’s where I came in. Before I began Infinite Children, Brinson informed me that the game was on the cusp of earning the final achievements necessary to unlock the full experience. Specifically, that I could be the one to do it. Though a cool feat, it wasn’t a goal I made a point to aim for. Sure enough, though, by the time I wrapped up my demo an elated Brinson informed me I earned the required achievements. Because of me, the world could now play Infinite Children in its entirety. Brinson commemorated the big milestone with a photo (posted below), providing the final, surreal cherry on top of an already wacky experience. Infinite Children is one strange bird. I’m not sure if I necessarily had fun with it more so than I felt perplexed and intrigued with everything I was witnessing. It felt like riding the world’s most confusing amusement park attraction.The design and storytelling feels hit and miss, and I wish certain spots had more clarity, but I definitely respect the experimentation. Plus, I can now say that I more or less helped launch a video game during E3. Anyone interested in giving Infinite Children a shot should be happy to know that the game is available for free on Steam. What it doesn’t ask for in price it demands in understanding, patience, and an open mind. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  17. El Hijo quietly stood out during the PC Gamer Show for its attractive spaghetti western look and pacifist approach to stealth. Honig Studios’ upcoming title stars a six-year old boy whose mother leaves him at a monastery after bandits burned down their farm. However, the monks running his new home aren’t as altruistic as they appear. Upon discovering the truth the Boy launches a swift escape from his new home on a mission to find his mother. During E3, I got to try my hand at the game’s first five missions and walked away eager to see more. El Hijo is a top-down stealth game that eschews violence in favor of puzzle-solving and sneaking finesse. I evaded foes by hiding behind objects such as tables, slipped behind curtains, and climbed inside of pots. These tricks fooled most enemies, but I did come across more diligent foes that regularly searched these hiding spots. Lighting plays a big role as enemies can’t see the boy if he’s lurking in the shadows (unless they’re very close, of course). You can also manipulate enemy behavior by tossing rocks to cause a helpful distraction. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans but they work well. I did encounter some inventive solutions. At one point I tossed peppers into a simmering pot of stew. When a hungry monk took a sip, he went bailing for the nearest toilet and out of my way. Avoiding isolated monks shouldn’t be difficult for experienced stealth players. Things get hairier when two or more patrol together. Getting detected usually leads to capture since enemies run faster than the boy. The monks even pursued me down ladders and stairs when I assumed they’d give up and return to their assigned route. Trying to hide while discovered doesn’t work well either. El Hijo may seem like a relative breeze but failure can come swiftly, and I hit a couple of challenging roadblocks. One particularly tight area covered by three monks took multiple attempts before I figured out a viable path forward. All of my failures stemmed from my own sloppiness rather than poor design. On the technical side, I occasionally ran into a collision glitch where enemies grabbed me despite being well out of reach. Hopefully this issue can chalked up to being preview build hiccups that will be ironed out in the final release. The game’s 30 levels extend well beyond the starting monastery. I didn’t get to see it, but players will eventually explore the desert and make their way into a crime-infested town. El Hijo’s warm color palette and beautiful art direction have me excited to explore further. So far, El Hijo seems like an enjoyable and charming stealth game that could potentially introduce young-un’s to the genre. Nothing about its design floored me per se, but it plays well and hides a deceptive layer of challenge underneath its friendly looking facade. Plus it's always nice when these types of games allow players to get by without snapping any necks. Keep an eye out for this western when it rolls onto PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch later this year. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  18. El Hijo quietly stood out during the PC Gamer Show for its attractive spaghetti western look and pacifist approach to stealth. Honig Studios’ upcoming title stars a six-year old boy whose mother leaves him at a monastery after bandits burned down their farm. However, the monks running his new home aren’t as altruistic as they appear. Upon discovering the truth the Boy launches a swift escape from his new home on a mission to find his mother. During E3, I got to try my hand at the game’s first five missions and walked away eager to see more. El Hijo is a top-down stealth game that eschews violence in favor of puzzle-solving and sneaking finesse. I evaded foes by hiding behind objects such as tables, slipped behind curtains, and climbed inside of pots. These tricks fooled most enemies, but I did come across more diligent foes that regularly searched these hiding spots. Lighting plays a big role as enemies can’t see the boy if he’s lurking in the shadows (unless they’re very close, of course). You can also manipulate enemy behavior by tossing rocks to cause a helpful distraction. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans but they work well. I did encounter some inventive solutions. At one point I tossed peppers into a simmering pot of stew. When a hungry monk took a sip, he went bailing for the nearest toilet and out of my way. Avoiding isolated monks shouldn’t be difficult for experienced stealth players. Things get hairier when two or more patrol together. Getting detected usually leads to capture since enemies run faster than the boy. The monks even pursued me down ladders and stairs when I assumed they’d give up and return to their assigned route. Trying to hide while discovered doesn’t work well either. El Hijo may seem like a relative breeze but failure can come swiftly, and I hit a couple of challenging roadblocks. One particularly tight area covered by three monks took multiple attempts before I figured out a viable path forward. All of my failures stemmed from my own sloppiness rather than poor design. On the technical side, I occasionally ran into a collision glitch where enemies grabbed me despite being well out of reach. Hopefully this issue can chalked up to being preview build hiccups that will be ironed out in the final release. The game’s 30 levels extend well beyond the starting monastery. I didn’t get to see it, but players will eventually explore the desert and make their way into a crime-infested town. El Hijo’s warm color palette and beautiful art direction have me excited to explore further. So far, El Hijo seems like an enjoyable and charming stealth game that could potentially introduce young-un’s to the genre. Nothing about its design floored me per se, but it plays well and hides a deceptive layer of challenge underneath its friendly looking facade. Plus it's always nice when these types of games allow players to get by without snapping any necks. Keep an eye out for this western when it rolls onto PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch later this year. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  19. Rainbow Studios’ MX vs ATV series let players tear up dirt roads, but its upcoming Monster Jam Steel Titans invites them to destroy just about anything. The developer’s first foray into the wild world of Monster Jam aims to provide an authentic experience to diehard fans that’s also welcoming to curious newcomers. I recently sat in on a gameplay walkthrough and came away impressed with how flat-out fun the game looked despite not being a monster truck aficionado. What impressed me most, though, is that Steet Titans was created in a dev cycle that specifically banned employee crunch. This admirable feat in workplace management and ethics could help ignite the engine of a broader reform in game development. Monster Jam Steel Titans puts players behind the wheel of over 25 trucks both classic and contemporary. Well-known names include Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, and Max D, with additional vehicles slated to roll in post-launch. Players can tear it up in throughout 12 stadiums, 10 of which are based on real-life venues, and 6 arenas. The game wastes little time getting players into the action. As soon as Steel Titans begins, players are dropped into an open world called Monster Jam University. This free-roaming area presents a great place to explore, practice tricks, and uncover collectibles and other goodies. Monster Jam University isn’t a static zone either. It expands in scope and activities as players unlock new modes through the campaign. These modes includes a single-player campaign, 2-player split-screen, and more creative destinations like Timed Destruction. This particular mode tasks players with demolishing as many objects as possible within a limited time frame. Additionally, Monster Jam features four types of racing modes: Head-To-Head, Circuit, Rhythm, and Waypoint. Head-to-Head consists of traditional one-on-one races but others, like Circuit for example, features multiple competing cars. Such a thing wouldn’t be feasible in real-life Monster Jam but Steel Titans taps into Rainbow’s racing expertise to make it a reality. Those looking to get crazy can visit Stunt mode to try Freestyle and Two-wheel Skills destinations. The main menu can be accessed at any point so that players can switch from mode to mode quickly and easily. An attention to authenticity aims to capture the unique aspects of controlling a monster truck. Unlike regular vehicles, these behemoths function on four-wheel steering, meaning real drivers steer both axis individually. This increased control over the wheels allows them to perform the myriad of impressive stunts that fans adore. Monster Jam’s dual-stick set-up emulates this setup by assigning each axis to one of the sticks. With skilled finagling, players can manipulate their wheels to perform signature tricks such as crab walks, back flips, and power-outs. I watched the lead designer pull off neat tricks like spinning out from a downed position to get the truck upright. Tricks can also be comboed and chained together; the higher the chain, the greater the rewards. For those who require extra help, Monster Jam also offers a simplified single-stick mode that ties all of this action to one analog stick. The physics engine makes it so that stunt execution is based on actual vehicle handling as opposed to a following a physics script. Rainbow’s custom-built destruction technology allows players to smash through environmental and scene objects such as fences. Body panels fracture and break in a realistic manner as trucks take on damage. Terrain deforms too; tires can spin themselves into ditches and holes. I felt the inherent fun of the sport watching the game’s lead designer make death-defying jumps, perform cool tricks, and smash all manner of objects. I may not know monster trucks, but Steel Titans makes driving one look immensely entertaining. Monster Jam Steel Titans may be goofy fun, but it also acts as a counterargument to one of the most serious issues plaguing game development: crunch. For those unaware, crunch is a common practice of game studios where employees are asked/expected to put in excessive amounts of work time, including nights and weekends, to get a game out the door by its deadline. It’s a controversial practice due to the physical and mental burn out that often accompanies it. Thankfully, crunch has garnered increased attention in recent years due to a rising number of developers speaking out against it. Rainbow sits among these concerned voices and hopes to make a statement with Monster Jam Steel Titans, which was intentionally developed without any crunch whatsoever. Rainbow CEO Chris Gilbert credits the accomplishment to the studios’ willingness to ax crunch from the get-go and then planning with that mind. Gilbert hopes their example inspires other developers to make similar workflow adjustments. “We have the same responsibility to our colleagues and to the industry to do our production aspect of our job well as we do to our fans to actually execute the game experience itself.” says Gilbert. “Crunch isn’t just a bad idea on ethical terms but it also makes your games worse and makes it harder to plan how long they’re going to take.” Not only has eliminating crunch and setting more sensible milestones help Rainbow ship Monster Jam on time, but they claim that it’s a better game as a result. After all, it wasn’t created off the backs of overworked employees. The lead designer remarked that he hadn’t worked a Saturday or Sunday in “ well over a year”. Monster Jam Steel Titans looks like it could be a blast for enthusiasts or anyone that likes to see giant trucks smash things to bits. In the grand scheme of game design, it also serves as inspiring proof that projects can be completed without working developers to the bone. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait long to hop behind the wheel of their favorite truck. Monster Jam Steel Titans game launches today for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  20. Rainbow Studios’ MX vs ATV series let players tear up dirt roads, but its upcoming Monster Jam Steel Titans invites them to destroy just about anything. The developer’s first foray into the wild world of Monster Jam aims to provide an authentic experience to diehard fans that’s also welcoming to curious newcomers. I recently sat in on a gameplay walkthrough and came away impressed with how flat-out fun the game looked despite not being a monster truck aficionado. What impressed me most, though, is that Steet Titans was created in a dev cycle that specifically banned employee crunch. This admirable feat in workplace management and ethics could help ignite the engine of a broader reform in game development. Monster Jam Steel Titans puts players behind the wheel of over 25 trucks both classic and contemporary. Well-known names include Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, and Max D, with additional vehicles slated to roll in post-launch. Players can tear it up in throughout 12 stadiums, 10 of which are based on real-life venues, and 6 arenas. The game wastes little time getting players into the action. As soon as Steel Titans begins, players are dropped into an open world called Monster Jam University. This free-roaming area presents a great place to explore, practice tricks, and uncover collectibles and other goodies. Monster Jam University isn’t a static zone either. It expands in scope and activities as players unlock new modes through the campaign. These modes includes a single-player campaign, 2-player split-screen, and more creative destinations like Timed Destruction. This particular mode tasks players with demolishing as many objects as possible within a limited time frame. Additionally, Monster Jam features four types of racing modes: Head-To-Head, Circuit, Rhythm, and Waypoint. Head-to-Head consists of traditional one-on-one races but others, like Circuit for example, features multiple competing cars. Such a thing wouldn’t be feasible in real-life Monster Jam but Steel Titans taps into Rainbow’s racing expertise to make it a reality. Those looking to get crazy can visit Stunt mode to try Freestyle and Two-wheel Skills destinations. The main menu can be accessed at any point so that players can switch from mode to mode quickly and easily. An attention to authenticity aims to capture the unique aspects of controlling a monster truck. Unlike regular vehicles, these behemoths function on four-wheel steering, meaning real drivers steer both axis individually. This increased control over the wheels allows them to perform the myriad of impressive stunts that fans adore. Monster Jam’s dual-stick set-up emulates this setup by assigning each axis to one of the sticks. With skilled finagling, players can manipulate their wheels to perform signature tricks such as crab walks, back flips, and power-outs. I watched the lead designer pull off neat tricks like spinning out from a downed position to get the truck upright. Tricks can also be comboed and chained together; the higher the chain, the greater the rewards. For those who require extra help, Monster Jam also offers a simplified single-stick mode that ties all of this action to one analog stick. The physics engine makes it so that stunt execution is based on actual vehicle handling as opposed to a following a physics script. Rainbow’s custom-built destruction technology allows players to smash through environmental and scene objects such as fences. Body panels fracture and break in a realistic manner as trucks take on damage. Terrain deforms too; tires can spin themselves into ditches and holes. I felt the inherent fun of the sport watching the game’s lead designer make death-defying jumps, perform cool tricks, and smash all manner of objects. I may not know monster trucks, but Steel Titans makes driving one look immensely entertaining. Monster Jam Steel Titans may be goofy fun, but it also acts as a counterargument to one of the most serious issues plaguing game development: crunch. For those unaware, crunch is a common practice of game studios where employees are asked/expected to put in excessive amounts of work time, including nights and weekends, to get a game out the door by its deadline. It’s a controversial practice due to the physical and mental burn out that often accompanies it. Thankfully, crunch has garnered increased attention in recent years due to a rising number of developers speaking out against it. Rainbow sits among these concerned voices and hopes to make a statement with Monster Jam Steel Titans, which was intentionally developed without any crunch whatsoever. Rainbow CEO Chris Gilbert credits the accomplishment to the studios’ willingness to ax crunch from the get-go and then planning with that mind. Gilbert hopes their example inspires other developers to make similar workflow adjustments. “We have the same responsibility to our colleagues and to the industry to do our production aspect of our job well as we do to our fans to actually execute the game experience itself.” says Gilbert. “Crunch isn’t just a bad idea on ethical terms but it also makes your games worse and makes it harder to plan how long they’re going to take.” Not only has eliminating crunch and setting more sensible milestones help Rainbow ship Monster Jam on time, but they claim that it’s a better game as a result. After all, it wasn’t created off the backs of overworked employees. The lead designer remarked that he hadn’t worked a Saturday or Sunday in “ well over a year”. Monster Jam Steel Titans looks like it could be a blast for enthusiasts or anyone that likes to see giant trucks smash things to bits. In the grand scheme of game design, it also serves as inspiring proof that projects can be completed without working developers to the bone. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait long to hop behind the wheel of their favorite truck. Monster Jam Steel Titans game launches today for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  21. Fans of Diablo-esque dungeon crawlers should keep their eye on Killsquad. Dubbed a “hardcore” action RPG by developer Novarama, the game is set in the distant future where mega corporations control the galaxy. These entities maintain control by dispatching teams of bounty hunters, called Killsquads, to raid planets for resources. Killsquad pushes the action side of the genre to create an exciting and thus far enjoyable romp. Players take control of the bounty hunters either alone or in a group of up to four teammates. The demo featured four characters each with specialized classes: Rico, a healer, Neil, a hammer-wielding berserker, the swordswoman Cass , and the marksman outlaw Clint. Novarama promises more characters will come post-launch. Characters evolve by finding new weapons and gear along with additional abilities from an unlockable skill tree. I decided to go with Cass, and after customizing her outfit and color scheme to my liking, dropped into a mission with another human player. Our first objective: reach a checkpoint and defend it from enemy onslaught. Cass grows on me almost immediately. Her slick sword attacks and fast pace sing to the action fan in me. Cass also flaunts cool abilities like temporary invisibility and a shuriken that teleports her to the target it strikes. My partner chose Rico, dropping health packs to keep me in shape while holding foes at bay with a long range laser cannon. Waves of enemies attempt to stop our trek to the goal, but we mow them down in flashy, effects-heavy clashes.The bizarre baddies we took down included leaping, multi-legged rock monsters, swarms of bat-like creatures, and one foe that resembled Destiny’s Harpies. Some enemies even set traps like a pair of crisscrossing lasers. Though levels and assets are hand-crafted, they’re procedurally laid out with each playthrough. The same applies to enemy spawns. That means repeating missions won’t play out the same way in order to keep the action unpredictable. Environments themselves boast impressive detail and have a triple-A quality to them despite coming from an indie developer. After successfully defending our first objective, we are tasked with going up against the level’s boss. The towering adversary took our combined might as we battled it along with a small army of minions. Though it was a tough fight, the combination of hit-and-run tactics on my end with distant support from my partner eventually toppled the beast. I shared a victory high-five with my companion as the demo faded to black. My time with Killsquad was short but I’m pleasantly surprised by what I played. As I said before it has a big-budget look and feel that would surprise players to learn its made by an indie team. It taps into the cooperative fun of dungeon crawlers and I especially loved the increased emphasis on action. Killsquad doesn’t have a concrete release window but it’s slated to arrive sometime this summer. Right now Novarama is targeting PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. When I remarked about the game being a perfect fit for Switch a la Diablo III, the developer agreed but said they couldn’t promise anything on that front just yet. Fingers crossed that Killsquad eventually migrates to Nintendo’s hybrid console too. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  22. Fans of Diablo-esque dungeon crawlers should keep their eye on Killsquad. Dubbed a “hardcore” action RPG by developer Novarama, the game is set in the distant future where mega corporations control the galaxy. These entities maintain control by dispatching teams of bounty hunters, called Killsquads, to raid planets for resources. Killsquad pushes the action side of the genre to create an exciting and thus far enjoyable romp. Players take control of the bounty hunters either alone or in a group of up to four teammates. The demo featured four characters each with specialized classes: Rico, a healer, Neil, a hammer-wielding berserker, the swordswoman Cass , and the marksman outlaw Clint. Novarama promises more characters will come post-launch. Characters evolve by finding new weapons and gear along with additional abilities from an unlockable skill tree. I decided to go with Cass, and after customizing her outfit and color scheme to my liking, dropped into a mission with another human player. Our first objective: reach a checkpoint and defend it from enemy onslaught. Cass grows on me almost immediately. Her slick sword attacks and fast pace sing to the action fan in me. Cass also flaunts cool abilities like temporary invisibility and a shuriken that teleports her to the target it strikes. My partner chose Rico, dropping health packs to keep me in shape while holding foes at bay with a long range laser cannon. Waves of enemies attempt to stop our trek to the goal, but we mow them down in flashy, effects-heavy clashes.The bizarre baddies we took down included leaping, multi-legged rock monsters, swarms of bat-like creatures, and one foe that resembled Destiny’s Harpies. Some enemies even set traps like a pair of crisscrossing lasers. Though levels and assets are hand-crafted, they’re procedurally laid out with each playthrough. The same applies to enemy spawns. That means repeating missions won’t play out the same way in order to keep the action unpredictable. Environments themselves boast impressive detail and have a triple-A quality to them despite coming from an indie developer. After successfully defending our first objective, we are tasked with going up against the level’s boss. The towering adversary took our combined might as we battled it along with a small army of minions. Though it was a tough fight, the combination of hit-and-run tactics on my end with distant support from my partner eventually toppled the beast. I shared a victory high-five with my companion as the demo faded to black. My time with Killsquad was short but I’m pleasantly surprised by what I played. As I said before it has a big-budget look and feel that would surprise players to learn its made by an indie team. It taps into the cooperative fun of dungeon crawlers and I especially loved the increased emphasis on action. Killsquad doesn’t have a concrete release window but it’s slated to arrive sometime this summer. Right now Novarama is targeting PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. When I remarked about the game being a perfect fit for Switch a la Diablo III, the developer agreed but said they couldn’t promise anything on that front just yet. Fingers crossed that Killsquad eventually migrates to Nintendo’s hybrid console too. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  23. Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a long time coming–and that’s only talking about the four years since it was officially announced. Like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III before it, the game has acquired a near mythical status where it needs to be played to be believed. Thankfully, Square Enix gave fans the chance to do just that with a playable demo at its E3 booth. After getting my hands on it, I'm more eager than ever to take down Shinra one more time. The demo offers a slice of the game’s opening mission shown during Square's E3 briefing. Cloud and Barrett fight their way through the bowels of Shinra’s headquarters at the behest of eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE. First and foremost, I’m floored by how stunning everything looks. Cloud and Barrett have never looked better, and their in-game models trump their Advent Children renditions. Fluid animations, gorgeous effects, plus neat little touches, such as the myriad of scratches on Cloud’s Buster Sword, make Final Fantasy VII Remake a serious piece of eye-candy. Combat blends fast-paced action with traditional turn-based mechanics. Basic melee attacks are performed by mashing the square button. Despite looking and feeling good, these attacks don't do a ton of damage. Instead of chipping away at an enemy’s health, the melee’s primary focus is to whittle away at foes until they become staggered, which leaves them vulnerable for more powerful attacks. Such big-time moves include spells and, of course, Limit Breaks. Hitting X pauses combat to allow players to select commands in classic JRPG style. Executing these actions costs a portion of the classic Active Time Battle gauge. This meter continually refills itself, so having a solid battle strategy involves properly managing ATB usage and cooldown times between party members. Wailing away on the attack button, then stopping to manually select a Fire spell feels a bit disjointed at first. In a way it can feel like patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time. I eventually got used to it, though, and the ATB/command select gives the game a more classic feel than I expected which is good. Even better is that players can also hotkey commands to the shoulder buttons. This makes executing favorite moves, such as Cloud's Braver attack, a simple button press away. Hitting up and down on the d-pad seamlessly switches between characters. Some heroes sport abilities better suited for certain threats. Cloud's magic may reach some airborne enemies, but Barrett's gun arm is a far more reliable solution to that problem. While in control of one character, the rest of the party handles their business in the background, so there’s no need to micromanage everyone. It’s also cool to watch partners tear foes to shreds off in the distance. However, you can still pause the fight to issue specific commands to your teammates. I fight my way pass a few waves of goons until I arrive at the Scorpion Sentinel boss battle. This multi-legged machine is no joke, dishing out rocket barrages and a wide-reaching EMP blast. Again, the impressive fire and particle effects sell the chaotic and desperate vibe of the fight. The Scorpion’s relentless assault beats me into skillfully using the dodge and block maneuvers as I get my butt handed to me early on. Basic attacks do minimal damage against the hardy machine. Thankfully, enemies often sport weaknesses that can be exploited, and the Scorpion is vulnerable to electrical attacks. I switch to Barrett and dump as much lightning as the ATB gauge will allow, doing tons of damage. Once I finally stagger the machine, I unload with Cloud’s most powerful sword attacks. After a back and forth struggle the Scorpion Sentinel is, quite literally, on its last legs. All that’s left is to individually target its limbs to further disable it. I throw everything I have at these appendages until they shatter, grounding the machine for good. A final Limit Break reduces the Scorpion to a fiery heap and the demo concludes. I had a great time with this first look, and I’m more excited than ever to experience Cloud’s revamped adventure. So far the marriage of JRPG and action mechanics seems well-suited; I’m curious to see how it evolves with a full party of characters. Most importantly, the overall atmosphere and vibe of Final Fantasy VII felt intact even with the massive overhaul. I just hope the rest of the game can maintain that momentum. We won’t have to wait nearly as long to find out as initially expected. Final Fantasy VII Remake releases on March 3 for PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games View full article
  24. Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a long time coming–and that’s only talking about the four years since it was officially announced. Like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III before it, the game has acquired a near mythical status where it needs to be played to be believed. Thankfully, Square Enix gave fans the chance to do just that with a playable demo at its E3 booth. After getting my hands on it, I'm more eager than ever to take down Shinra one more time. The demo offers a slice of the game’s opening mission shown during Square's E3 briefing. Cloud and Barrett fight their way through the bowels of Shinra’s headquarters at the behest of eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE. First and foremost, I’m floored by how stunning everything looks. Cloud and Barrett have never looked better, and their in-game models trump their Advent Children renditions. Fluid animations, gorgeous effects, plus neat little touches, such as the myriad of scratches on Cloud’s Buster Sword, make Final Fantasy VII Remake a serious piece of eye-candy. Combat blends fast-paced action with traditional turn-based mechanics. Basic melee attacks are performed by mashing the square button. Despite looking and feeling good, these attacks don't do a ton of damage. Instead of chipping away at an enemy’s health, the melee’s primary focus is to whittle away at foes until they become staggered, which leaves them vulnerable for more powerful attacks. Such big-time moves include spells and, of course, Limit Breaks. Hitting X pauses combat to allow players to select commands in classic JRPG style. Executing these actions costs a portion of the classic Active Time Battle gauge. This meter continually refills itself, so having a solid battle strategy involves properly managing ATB usage and cooldown times between party members. Wailing away on the attack button, then stopping to manually select a Fire spell feels a bit disjointed at first. In a way it can feel like patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time. I eventually got used to it, though, and the ATB/command select gives the game a more classic feel than I expected which is good. Even better is that players can also hotkey commands to the shoulder buttons. This makes executing favorite moves, such as Cloud's Braver attack, a simple button press away. Hitting up and down on the d-pad seamlessly switches between characters. Some heroes sport abilities better suited for certain threats. Cloud's magic may reach some airborne enemies, but Barrett's gun arm is a far more reliable solution to that problem. While in control of one character, the rest of the party handles their business in the background, so there’s no need to micromanage everyone. It’s also cool to watch partners tear foes to shreds off in the distance. However, you can still pause the fight to issue specific commands to your teammates. I fight my way pass a few waves of goons until I arrive at the Scorpion Sentinel boss battle. This multi-legged machine is no joke, dishing out rocket barrages and a wide-reaching EMP blast. Again, the impressive fire and particle effects sell the chaotic and desperate vibe of the fight. The Scorpion’s relentless assault beats me into skillfully using the dodge and block maneuvers as I get my butt handed to me early on. Basic attacks do minimal damage against the hardy machine. Thankfully, enemies often sport weaknesses that can be exploited, and the Scorpion is vulnerable to electrical attacks. I switch to Barrett and dump as much lightning as the ATB gauge will allow, doing tons of damage. Once I finally stagger the machine, I unload with Cloud’s most powerful sword attacks. After a back and forth struggle the Scorpion Sentinel is, quite literally, on its last legs. All that’s left is to individually target its limbs to further disable it. I throw everything I have at these appendages until they shatter, grounding the machine for good. A final Limit Break reduces the Scorpion to a fiery heap and the demo concludes. I had a great time with this first look, and I’m more excited than ever to experience Cloud’s revamped adventure. So far the marriage of JRPG and action mechanics seems well-suited; I’m curious to see how it evolves with a full party of characters. Most importantly, the overall atmosphere and vibe of Final Fantasy VII felt intact even with the massive overhaul. I just hope the rest of the game can maintain that momentum. We won’t have to wait nearly as long to find out as initially expected. Final Fantasy VII Remake releases on March 3 for PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
  25. After coming to light last year via the teasiest of teasers, the new Battletoads game received its debut trailer during the 2019 Xbox E3 media briefing. Rash, Pimple, and Zit will bring their nostalgic flavor of beat em’ up fun exclusively to Microsoft’s console. Battletoads hasn’t had a proper sequel since Battletoads Arcade in 1994. That hasn’t stopped a dedicated sect of fans from keeping the dream alive (which includes pranking retail stores by requesting info on “the new Battletoads”). The possibility for a new game reignited in earnest 2013 when head of Xbox Phil Spencer expressed his affinity for the series and desire to see it return. In recent years, the Battletoads have made something of gradual comeback thanks to re-releases in Rare Replay as well as cameo appearances in Shovel Knight and Killer Instinct. 3-player couch co-op stands as perhaps the most exciting and important feature of the new Battletoads. Players punch, kick, and lick their way to victory against a myriad of foes and bosses. Battletoads sports a vibrant hand-drawn look that resembles a Saturday morning cartoon. Absurd, over-the-top animations accentuate the style–get ready for oversized fist and exaggerated, Looney Toons-esque mallet strikes. The most humorous/terrifying part of the trailer is the confirmation of a high-speed hoverbike segment. This tip of the hat to a similar and notoriously difficult segment in Battletoads for NES should hopefully result in far less headaches. Battletoads doesn’t have a release window though 2019 seems to be the assumed window. It will launch on Xbox One and arrive on Xbox Game Pass on day one. While there’s no confirmation of a PC release, one would have to assume given the arrival of Game Pass to the platform. How do you think Battletoads’ return is shaping up? Let us know in the comments! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games
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