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Found 194 results

  1. I really adore the game 6180 Moon (even though I am just awful at it) for its tight platforming and clever puzzle mechanics. So imagine my delight to find that the developer behind 6180, Turtle Cream, had returned to E3 this year with a rough build of a new game with a new central mechanic that I have never seen before. Long Take is another game that is both clever and challenging. The premise is that instead of controlling the main character of the game, you are merely the camera man who is trying to make the hero look good. Here is where it gets interesting: Everything outside of your camera frame ceases to exist. All manner of hazards from rockets to lasers can be avoided by zooming the camera closer to the hero. However, the proximity of the zoom has to be weighed against how fast the hero is moving. If the platforming protagonist leaves the camera frame, you fail the level and start over again. This means you have to be careful if he decides to go back to collect the last few coins in the level or makes a dash for the exit. This leads to a number of creative puzzles that revolve around where you point the camera. Though I didn’t have an extended play session with Long Take, it shows a lot of promise for such an early iteration of the concept. I only had a couple gripes about what I have seen thus far. First, the player isn't given time to survey each level to formulate a strategy beforehand (only a brief glimpse of everything before automatically beginning), which leads to a number of frustrating and seemingly unavoidable trial and error deaths. Second, I encountered a bug where things off screen continued to fire despite not being visible, which is really debilitating to the core concept of the title. There were a few other minor annoyances along the lines of the second complaint, but I was assured that they were due to the early build and would be ironed out before release. Overall, color me intrigued and hopeful that Long Take will live up to the pedigree of 6180.
  2. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Child of Light

    Picture yourself at ten years old. Imagine snuggling into bed at night and asking your parents to tell you that one story. They’d ask you which story you meant and you’d say as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “You know, the one with the clowns, the talking mountain, and the dragons. The one with Aurora!” Your parents would laugh and begin, “Once upon a time…” Through some feat of technical and artistic wizardry, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to breathe the imagination of a young child hearing their favorite fairytale bedtime story into every aspect of Child of Light. Child of Light tells the story of Aurora, a young princess who is whisked away into the magical land of Lemuria. She struggles to find a way to return home to her ailing father and free the various creatures and people of Lemuria from the oppression of the evil Queen of the Night. It isn’t a tale that’s pushing many boundaries or a story many will be unfamiliar with, but that’s part of the brilliance of Child of Light. It takes a familiar premise and executes it so well that it doesn’t matter that we’ve heard similar stories before. Part of what makes the entire package of Child of Light work so well are the characters. While on her journey, Aurora befriends a number of interesting companions like Finn, the fainthearted magician; Robert, the swashbuckling mouse; and Rubella, a talented vocalist/clown skilled in the ways of combat. The cast is diverse and Child of Light uses that diversity to its advantage, giving each character a memorable personality and at least one opportunity to prove their worth. For the most part, the story is constructed very well, but the moments leading up to the climactic ending feel a bit rushed and left me scratching my head regarding a few questions that were never addressed. Some people might also be put off by the fact that all the dialogue in the game is conveyed in verse rather than straight prose. Personally, I really enjoyed it, especially the jokes that make use of the format. At the very least it is trying something new and different. Of course, Child of Light entirely hinges upon its protagonist, Aurora. Beginning the game as a 10-year-old girl, Aurora’s character arc throughout her journey tackles issues like growing up, love, grief, and what it means to be brave. From the opening minutes, I was struck by how refreshing it was to see that the adventure throughout the mysterious Lemuria was undertaken by a courageous, kind, and intelligent female protagonist. Maybe that says something about the video game industry at large needing more awesome heroines or perhaps that is just where I am at in my personal life or possibly both. Regardless about what that says, I couldn’t help but think that when my niece is old enough to play video games we’ll be able to sit down together and play Child of Light. When we do, she’ll be able to point to Aurora as a role model both in video games and in larger world; and that’s something that is really important to me. I also think it is equally important that our young men have awesome female protagonists in their games. I had two of my nephews over for an evening recently and I showed them the classic Miyazaki film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Their response when Nausicaä was revealed as a princess? “She’s supposed to be a boy.” That’s not their fault, but so many of the stories both in our games and other media have implanted this idea that women aren’t capable of the same heroism as men and that’s malarkey. We need more games like Child of Light so that the messages we are sending to our children aren’t so slanted and exclusive. Incidentally, I sat those kids (3 and 5 years old, respectively) down and had a chat with them on that topic, hopefully that straightened things out. The previous paragraph may have given the impression that Child of Light is for children, which would be misleading because it’s really a game for all ages. There is a very wide spectrum of behaviors and strategies that will serve to progress through the world of Lemuria. Players can opt to simply go from point A to point B if they wish, but Child of Light rewards almost all deviations from the path for those willing to explore. Rewards come in the form of chests that contain HP, MP, and Revive potions, stat upgrades, or oculi, which can be used to augment a character’s attacks, defenses, or to have some other effect in combat. While I never ran out of any single item in my playthrough, there aren’t any ways to obtain more potions or revives other than by finding them in the environment. This could potentially be a problem for players less experienced in RPGs, but it isn’t a likely scenario considering how many of each item I had in my inventory by the end. Speaking of the combat, it is an amazingly fun system from which I hope Final Fantasy takes notes. All combatants are placed on an action bar and progress toward the end at different rates according to their speed stat. After passing into the “casting” portion of the action bar, any attack that hits either the player’s characters or the enemies will cancel their attack and knock them back along the action bar. You can use this to a tactical advantage to get enemies trapped in loops unable to make a move. Each new character recruited to Aurora’s side introduces new potential strategies on how to deal with the assorted baddies that plague Lemuria. However, don’t let the apparent depth of Child of Light’s combat dissuade you. While thinking tactically feels rewarding and certainly make progress easier, even brute force, unthinking attack commands will get you through most fights. In my time with Child of Light, I only saw the Game Over screen once and that was because I ran into spiked walls a few too many times while exploring. Overall, I think Child of Light would be an excellent game to introduce someone to RPGs or video games in general. Child of Light is a largely single-player experience, but it can be played co-op to a certain extent. The first character Aurora meets in Lemuria is a firefly named Igniculus. Igniculus can be controlled via a separate controller to pick up collectibles, open doors and chests, heal characters in battle, and slow an enemy’s progress on the action bar. Granted, whoever is controlling Igniculus is getting the short end of the stick, but it is still a way to experience Child of Light with someone else who might not otherwise be able to play. Visually, this game is so charming it hurts. Everything has a dreamy, watercolor painting look to it from the characters to the environments. It lends a beautiful ethereal quality to the entire production that makes Lemuria feel both foreign and familiar at the same time. I cannot stress this enough: Child of Light is a pleasure to look at. Half of the time I wanted to see what was next in the story and the other half of the time I wanted to see what new creatures and environments were around the next plot point. One tiny nitpick I have about the visual design is that the character model of Aurora is rendered in 3D rather than 2D like all the other assets. This is an intentional design decision, but for what purpose I’m not entirely sure. It could be to make it clear that Aurora is from a different world than that of the Lemurians, but I wish they had gone a different route because the 3D model sometimes stands out in a less than pleasing manner. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light" href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light">Child of Light by Cœur de pirate</a> The soundtrack was put together by Quebec singer-songwriter Cœur de pirate and it perfectly complements the visuals and story. This is the kind of soundtrack that is absolutely essential for an RPG. Songs that players have to listen to repeatedly are made interesting and complex so that each subsequent listening players can discover something new about the music. There are certain elements that repeat throughout each song that give the soundtrack a certain cohesion. For an example of a game that does this very poorly, watch the opening minutes of The Last Remnant and pay attention to the music when it switches over into its battle mode. In Child of Light, the battle music that you hear hundreds of times is always thrilling; each time it would begin playing I took it as a call to action inspiring to do my best in combat. In fact, many of the songs in Child of Light are calls to action, albeit in different ways. Some musical pieces demand heroism or beckon the player onward, while others call forth compassion and empathy. Each track contains elements of innocence and excitement tempered with a strain of melancholy and mystery. And that mystery is part of what pulled me into the world of Lemuria and why I am so enamored with what Ubisoft Montreal has created. Conclusion: I have no doubt that in time Child of Light will be remembered as a classic. Everything about it is so well executed and enchanting that I really can’t recommend this game enough. At $15, it is certainly a must play for anyone who likes RPGs or has ever been interested in seeing what RPGs are all about. Visually and musically elegant, Child of Light should be used as a textbook example of how to tell a simple, but effective story within a video game. Certainly it has some minor blemishes, but none of them are large enough to get hung up on. I hope to see more games like this in the future. Excellent job, everyone at Ubisoft Montreal! Child of Light was reviewed on PlayStation 4. It is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. View full article
  3. Jack Gardner

    Review: Child of Light

    Picture yourself at ten years old. Imagine snuggling into bed at night and asking your parents to tell you that one story. They’d ask you which story you meant and you’d say as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “You know, the one with the clowns, the talking mountain, and the dragons. The one with Aurora!” Your parents would laugh and begin, “Once upon a time…” Through some feat of technical and artistic wizardry, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to breathe the imagination of a young child hearing their favorite fairytale bedtime story into every aspect of Child of Light. Child of Light tells the story of Aurora, a young princess who is whisked away into the magical land of Lemuria. She struggles to find a way to return home to her ailing father and free the various creatures and people of Lemuria from the oppression of the evil Queen of the Night. It isn’t a tale that’s pushing many boundaries or a story many will be unfamiliar with, but that’s part of the brilliance of Child of Light. It takes a familiar premise and executes it so well that it doesn’t matter that we’ve heard similar stories before. Part of what makes the entire package of Child of Light work so well are the characters. While on her journey, Aurora befriends a number of interesting companions like Finn, the fainthearted magician; Robert, the swashbuckling mouse; and Rubella, a talented vocalist/clown skilled in the ways of combat. The cast is diverse and Child of Light uses that diversity to its advantage, giving each character a memorable personality and at least one opportunity to prove their worth. For the most part, the story is constructed very well, but the moments leading up to the climactic ending feel a bit rushed and left me scratching my head regarding a few questions that were never addressed. Some people might also be put off by the fact that all the dialogue in the game is conveyed in verse rather than straight prose. Personally, I really enjoyed it, especially the jokes that make use of the format. At the very least it is trying something new and different. Of course, Child of Light entirely hinges upon its protagonist, Aurora. Beginning the game as a 10-year-old girl, Aurora’s character arc throughout her journey tackles issues like growing up, love, grief, and what it means to be brave. From the opening minutes, I was struck by how refreshing it was to see that the adventure throughout the mysterious Lemuria was undertaken by a courageous, kind, and intelligent female protagonist. Maybe that says something about the video game industry at large needing more awesome heroines or perhaps that is just where I am at in my personal life or possibly both. Regardless about what that says, I couldn’t help but think that when my niece is old enough to play video games we’ll be able to sit down together and play Child of Light. When we do, she’ll be able to point to Aurora as a role model both in video games and in larger world; and that’s something that is really important to me. I also think it is equally important that our young men have awesome female protagonists in their games. I had two of my nephews over for an evening recently and I showed them the classic Miyazaki film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Their response when Nausicaä was revealed as a princess? “She’s supposed to be a boy.” That’s not their fault, but so many of the stories both in our games and other media have implanted this idea that women aren’t capable of the same heroism as men and that’s malarkey. We need more games like Child of Light so that the messages we are sending to our children aren’t so slanted and exclusive. Incidentally, I sat those kids (3 and 5 years old, respectively) down and had a chat with them on that topic, hopefully that straightened things out. The previous paragraph may have given the impression that Child of Light is for children, which would be misleading because it’s really a game for all ages. There is a very wide spectrum of behaviors and strategies that will serve to progress through the world of Lemuria. Players can opt to simply go from point A to point B if they wish, but Child of Light rewards almost all deviations from the path for those willing to explore. Rewards come in the form of chests that contain HP, MP, and Revive potions, stat upgrades, or oculi, which can be used to augment a character’s attacks, defenses, or to have some other effect in combat. While I never ran out of any single item in my playthrough, there aren’t any ways to obtain more potions or revives other than by finding them in the environment. This could potentially be a problem for players less experienced in RPGs, but it isn’t a likely scenario considering how many of each item I had in my inventory by the end. Speaking of the combat, it is an amazingly fun system from which I hope Final Fantasy takes notes. All combatants are placed on an action bar and progress toward the end at different rates according to their speed stat. After passing into the “casting” portion of the action bar, any attack that hits either the player’s characters or the enemies will cancel their attack and knock them back along the action bar. You can use this to a tactical advantage to get enemies trapped in loops unable to make a move. Each new character recruited to Aurora’s side introduces new potential strategies on how to deal with the assorted baddies that plague Lemuria. However, don’t let the apparent depth of Child of Light’s combat dissuade you. While thinking tactically feels rewarding and certainly make progress easier, even brute force, unthinking attack commands will get you through most fights. In my time with Child of Light, I only saw the Game Over screen once and that was because I ran into spiked walls a few too many times while exploring. Overall, I think Child of Light would be an excellent game to introduce someone to RPGs or video games in general. Child of Light is a largely single-player experience, but it can be played co-op to a certain extent. The first character Aurora meets in Lemuria is a firefly named Igniculus. Igniculus can be controlled via a separate controller to pick up collectibles, open doors and chests, heal characters in battle, and slow an enemy’s progress on the action bar. Granted, whoever is controlling Igniculus is getting the short end of the stick, but it is still a way to experience Child of Light with someone else who might not otherwise be able to play. Visually, this game is so charming it hurts. Everything has a dreamy, watercolor painting look to it from the characters to the environments. It lends a beautiful ethereal quality to the entire production that makes Lemuria feel both foreign and familiar at the same time. I cannot stress this enough: Child of Light is a pleasure to look at. Half of the time I wanted to see what was next in the story and the other half of the time I wanted to see what new creatures and environments were around the next plot point. One tiny nitpick I have about the visual design is that the character model of Aurora is rendered in 3D rather than 2D like all the other assets. This is an intentional design decision, but for what purpose I’m not entirely sure. It could be to make it clear that Aurora is from a different world than that of the Lemurians, but I wish they had gone a different route because the 3D model sometimes stands out in a less than pleasing manner. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light" href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light">Child of Light by Cœur de pirate</a> The soundtrack was put together by Quebec singer-songwriter Cœur de pirate and it perfectly complements the visuals and story. This is the kind of soundtrack that is absolutely essential for an RPG. Songs that players have to listen to repeatedly are made interesting and complex so that each subsequent listening players can discover something new about the music. There are certain elements that repeat throughout each song that give the soundtrack a certain cohesion. For an example of a game that does this very poorly, watch the opening minutes of The Last Remnant and pay attention to the music when it switches over into its battle mode. In Child of Light, the battle music that you hear hundreds of times is always thrilling; each time it would begin playing I took it as a call to action inspiring to do my best in combat. In fact, many of the songs in Child of Light are calls to action, albeit in different ways. Some musical pieces demand heroism or beckon the player onward, while others call forth compassion and empathy. Each track contains elements of innocence and excitement tempered with a strain of melancholy and mystery. And that mystery is part of what pulled me into the world of Lemuria and why I am so enamored with what Ubisoft Montreal has created. Conclusion: I have no doubt that in time Child of Light will be remembered as a classic. Everything about it is so well executed and enchanting that I really can’t recommend this game enough. At $15, it is certainly a must play for anyone who likes RPGs or has ever been interested in seeing what RPGs are all about. Visually and musically elegant, Child of Light should be used as a textbook example of how to tell a simple, but effective story within a video game. Certainly it has some minor blemishes, but none of them are large enough to get hung up on. I hope to see more games like this in the future. Excellent job, everyone at Ubisoft Montreal! Child of Light was reviewed on PlayStation 4. It is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U.
  4. Famed throughout the world for his talents as an illustrator and character designer, Yoshitaka Amano partnered with Ubisoft to craft an artistic rendering inspired by the upcoming downloadable title, Child of Light. Yoshitaka Amano has quite the legacy in the video game industry. There is a reason you might have gotten a Final Fantasy vibe from the completed piece; Amano designed the iconic look of the franchise himself. From 1987-1994, Amano worked for Square as their main character, image, and graphic designer. He has also continued to create logos and promotional images for the series up until the present. Child of Light releases as a downloadable title on April 30 on Xbox Live, PSN, Wii U eShop, UPlay, and Steam. It features a unique melding of traditional turn-based RPG gameplay and western folklore visuals. Personally, this is one of my most anticipated smaller-scale titles for the coming year and I am excited to see Ubisoft going out of their way to show support for such a cool project. Keep your eye on this one, folks!
  5. Famed throughout the world for his talents as an illustrator and character designer, Yoshitaka Amano partnered with Ubisoft to craft an artistic rendering inspired by the upcoming downloadable title, Child of Light. Yoshitaka Amano has quite the legacy in the video game industry. There is a reason you might have gotten a Final Fantasy vibe from the completed piece; Amano designed the iconic look of the franchise himself. From 1987-1994, Amano worked for Square as their main character, image, and graphic designer. He has also continued to create logos and promotional images for the series up until the present. Child of Light releases as a downloadable title on April 30 on Xbox Live, PSN, Wii U eShop, UPlay, and Steam. It features a unique melding of traditional turn-based RPG gameplay and western folklore visuals. Personally, this is one of my most anticipated smaller-scale titles for the coming year and I am excited to see Ubisoft going out of their way to show support for such a cool project. Keep your eye on this one, folks! View full article
  6. Jack Gardner

    Unreal Engine 4 Available for Everyone

    Today, Epic Games announced that they would be instituting a much more reasonable pricing model for developers to license Unreal Engine 4. Previously developers would have to pay an arm and possibly a leg or two in order to access an Unreal Engine. Luckily, with the rising costs of game development becoming apparent to everyone, Epic Games decided to lower the entry cost for video game creators looking to start out with top notch software. Beginning today, developers may license Unreal Engine 4 for 5% of whatever money they make from their product as well as $19 per month per Unreal Engine 4 user. This is a huge boon for smaller indie devs that couldn't afford the high, flat cost of creating a game using Unreal Engine 3. What does this mean for gamers? We can look forward to more visually impressive from smaller studios who will be free to pursue their creative visions and more features in games from larger studios that don't have to spend quite as much time focusing on the visual aspects of their blockbusters. For any fledgling game developers out there, now seems to be a great time to get into the trenches and start cranking out games.
  7. Today, Epic Games announced that they would be instituting a much more reasonable pricing model for developers to license Unreal Engine 4. Previously developers would have to pay an arm and possibly a leg or two in order to access an Unreal Engine. Luckily, with the rising costs of game development becoming apparent to everyone, Epic Games decided to lower the entry cost for video game creators looking to start out with top notch software. Beginning today, developers may license Unreal Engine 4 for 5% of whatever money they make from their product as well as $19 per month per Unreal Engine 4 user. This is a huge boon for smaller indie devs that couldn't afford the high, flat cost of creating a game using Unreal Engine 3. What does this mean for gamers? We can look forward to more visually impressive from smaller studios who will be free to pursue their creative visions and more features in games from larger studios that don't have to spend quite as much time focusing on the visual aspects of their blockbusters. For any fledgling game developers out there, now seems to be a great time to get into the trenches and start cranking out games. View full article
  8. The five episode documentary series Super Game Jam is shooting to show people what its like to make a game in under 48 hours. Put together by Devolver Digital, the series will focus its attention on five teams of two people each as they attempt to create a game within 24 hours. Each episode of the docu-series will spotlight one of the teams, their struggles, and their journey to create the best game they can under intense time restraints. The average length of each episode will be around 30-40 minutes. This series will be a must see for those who want to better understand the game-making process. April - Episode 1 - Set in Utrecht, Netherland, the premier episode will feature Richard Boeser (Ibb and Obb) and Jan Willem Nijman (Ridiculous Fishing, LUFTRAUSERS). May - Episode 2 - Will be in Berlin, Germany featuring Christoffer Hedborg (Shelter, Pid) and Dominik Johann (Impetus, LAZA KNITEZ!!). June - Episode 3 - Features American game designers Adam Drucker (doseone, Samurai Gunn) and Sos Sosowski (McPixel, Doom Piano) in Oakland, California. July - Episode 4 - Devlolver will take viewers to Gothenburg, Sweden and showcase Martin Jonasson (Rymdkapsel) and Jonatan Söderström (Hotline Miami). August - Episode 5 - Takes place in England, where Tom Francis (Gunpoint) and Liselore Goedhart (Remembering, Nott Won’t Sleep) will create the final game of the documentary. Other than the months shown in the announcement trailer, no firm dates for these episodes has yet surfaced, but we'll let you know when they do. Also, it is important to note that these mini-documentaries will be releasing via Steam.
  9. The five episode documentary series Super Game Jam is shooting to show people what its like to make a game in under 48 hours. Put together by Devolver Digital, the series will focus its attention on five teams of two people each as they attempt to create a game within 24 hours. Each episode of the docu-series will spotlight one of the teams, their struggles, and their journey to create the best game they can under intense time restraints. The average length of each episode will be around 30-40 minutes. This series will be a must see for those who want to better understand the game-making process. April - Episode 1 - Set in Utrecht, Netherland, the premier episode will feature Richard Boeser (Ibb and Obb) and Jan Willem Nijman (Ridiculous Fishing, LUFTRAUSERS). May - Episode 2 - Will be in Berlin, Germany featuring Christoffer Hedborg (Shelter, Pid) and Dominik Johann (Impetus, LAZA KNITEZ!!). June - Episode 3 - Features American game designers Adam Drucker (doseone, Samurai Gunn) and Sos Sosowski (McPixel, Doom Piano) in Oakland, California. July - Episode 4 - Devlolver will take viewers to Gothenburg, Sweden and showcase Martin Jonasson (Rymdkapsel) and Jonatan Söderström (Hotline Miami). August - Episode 5 - Takes place in England, where Tom Francis (Gunpoint) and Liselore Goedhart (Remembering, Nott Won’t Sleep) will create the final game of the documentary. Other than the months shown in the announcement trailer, no firm dates for these episodes has yet surfaced, but we'll let you know when they do. Also, it is important to note that these mini-documentaries will be releasing via Steam. View full article
  10. Jack Gardner

    Hyper Light Drifter Deatiled

    Indie developer Heart Machine's foray into a world of pixels and adventure is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts. At fist glance, Hyper Light Drifter appears to be a pixelated, stylish take on the classic Zelda formula that's been a go-to template for game designers for decades. However, Heart Machine hopes to differentiate itself by implementing some of its own concepts, like a narrative expressed through visual design and an atmosphere conveyed by a canny soundtrack. From what we've seen of the development so far, Heart Machine seems to be on the right track. The approach to combat centers on the idea that the player should feel empowered when stepping onto the battlefield. Fighting should feel like it has weight with strong visual and audio cues resonating throughout a combat scenario. While conflicts should be fast, brutal affairs, Hyper Light Drifter is also attempting to satisfy its audience on a tactical level. There are many different enemy types that behave differently on the battlefield. Some adversaries will dodge or deflect attacks, others will attack en masse, and others will command legions of weaker creatures. In one of my favorite developer statements, Heart Machine had this to say regarding their game's emphasis on visual narrative, "We chose to recognize that gamers are smart." Hyper Light Drifter eschews text blocks, heavy handed exposition, and confusing UI in favor of a sleek, less-is-more approach. The idea is that the player should be immersed in the world and not be continually called out of it to consult maps and decipher their stats screen. Quests and dialogue will be conveyed in storyboard-like sequences that use color and music to effectively convey their meaning across language barriers. The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter is being handled by Disasterpeace, the artist behind the soundscapes of Fez and Runner2. The sound will work together with the visuals to create a mounting aura of anxiety as players venture deeper into the ravaged world of ancient technology better left forgotten. Hyper Light Drifter has come a long way from its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year. We can barely wait to get out hands on Heart Machine's creation and delve into the secrets of the future-past. Hyper Light Drifter is slated to release later this year on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U.
  11. Indie developer Heart Machine's foray into a world of pixels and adventure is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts. At fist glance, Hyper Light Drifter appears to be a pixelated, stylish take on the classic Zelda formula that's been a go-to template for game designers for decades. However, Heart Machine hopes to differentiate itself by implementing some of its own concepts, like a narrative expressed through visual design and an atmosphere conveyed by a canny soundtrack. From what we've seen of the development so far, Heart Machine seems to be on the right track. The approach to combat centers on the idea that the player should feel empowered when stepping onto the battlefield. Fighting should feel like it has weight with strong visual and audio cues resonating throughout a combat scenario. While conflicts should be fast, brutal affairs, Hyper Light Drifter is also attempting to satisfy its audience on a tactical level. There are many different enemy types that behave differently on the battlefield. Some adversaries will dodge or deflect attacks, others will attack en masse, and others will command legions of weaker creatures. In one of my favorite developer statements, Heart Machine had this to say regarding their game's emphasis on visual narrative, "We chose to recognize that gamers are smart." Hyper Light Drifter eschews text blocks, heavy handed exposition, and confusing UI in favor of a sleek, less-is-more approach. The idea is that the player should be immersed in the world and not be continually called out of it to consult maps and decipher their stats screen. Quests and dialogue will be conveyed in storyboard-like sequences that use color and music to effectively convey their meaning across language barriers. The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter is being handled by Disasterpeace, the artist behind the soundscapes of Fez and Runner2. The sound will work together with the visuals to create a mounting aura of anxiety as players venture deeper into the ravaged world of ancient technology better left forgotten. Hyper Light Drifter has come a long way from its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year. We can barely wait to get out hands on Heart Machine's creation and delve into the secrets of the future-past. Hyper Light Drifter is slated to release later this year on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U. View full article
  12. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Thoughts on Gone Home

    One of 2013’s critical indie darlings, Gone Home made a huge splash when it released. Critics praised it as a huge leap forward in interactive storytelling and for its non-violent content. Several notable publications such as Polygon, GamesRadar, and Giant Bomb gave the highest recommendations they can give and awarded the title perfect scores. Statements such as, “After completing the game, I sat in spellbound, smiling silence for nearly an hour,” from Danielle Riendeau at Polygon and Giancarlo Saldana’s acclaim in his GamesRadar review that, “Gone Home attempts to explore the boundaries of a game’s communicative potential and succeeds by giving us a story that satisfies our senses and touches our innermost being,” had me excited to play the title for myself. Unfortunately, my response to Gone Home fell far short of what others seemed to have enjoyed so thoroughly. I played Gone Home for about an hour from start to finish and walked away wishing I could have that hour back to do something different with my life. Gone Home places players in the shoes of Katie Greenbriar, a college student returning from travelling abroad in 1995. Katie arrives home, only to find that the house her family recently moved into is deserted, with her parents and sister nowhere to be found. As Katie, players navigate the house to discover what became of the Greenbriar family. Gameplay consists of wandering the house, looking at things, moving small objects, and occasionally interacting with buttons. The problems I had with Gone Home became apparent within the first ten minutes of wandering the massive Greenbriar residence. After I found the key to the front door, I entered the house and began looking at various knick-knacks on shelves and opening drawers obsessively, eventually stumbling across a hand-written note from Katie’s sister, Sam, whereupon I was rewarded with a voice-over narration by the talented Sarah Grayson. That’s when I realized that this was going to be the entire game. At first, I didn’t think there would be anything wrong with the lack of interesting gameplay. I had recently finished playing through The Stanley Parable, which has even less interactivity than Gone Home, and it was so brilliant it made my top 10 games of the generation list. However, as I made my way painstakingly through room after room, I rapidly lost my enthusiasm. Gone Home tries to immerse players in the role of Katie by setting movement at a certain realistic (i.e. slow) pace and adding little touches like a button that puts objects back in the place you found them. The Stanley Parable saddles players with extremely limiting controls to make points about game design, interactivity, and storytelling in the video game medium. The Stanley Parable’s gameplay serves to complement its story and can even serve as a point of commentary in its own right. Gone Home feels just the opposite. Its gameplay fails to add anything of importance to either its own story, which is the central focus of the game, or to the enjoyment I derived from it, which was nonexistent. Boring gameplay can be fine if there is a solid story to back it up. The original Mass Effect’s gameplay wasn’t anything to be excited about, but the story was compelling enough that I wanted to see it through to the end. Most of the praise people have lauded Gone Home with seems to center on it containing a narrative not traditionally associated with video games. Deviating from the norm in the video game industry is a bold move and one I wish more developers were willing to do. The problem is that simply having a non-traditional video game narrative doesn’t automatically make it worthwhile, especially if it is something we have experienced before in other mediums. The sole hook of Gone Home is to discover what became of the members of Katie’s family. With the exception of one red herring, it is fairly easy to figure out where the plot is going within the initial twenty minutes, and the destination isn’t terribly interesting. Without spoiling anything, the story boils down to a time-worn shtick that we’ve all heard a million times before across every form of media and has been better told elsewhere without the slow, monotonous gameplay. I don’t mean to imply that Gone Home isn’t well crafted. The voice-acting is particularly well done and deserves recognition for attempting to infuse some life into the game. Its environments have an astonishing attention to detail. Almost all text written on papers or books can be read if zoomed in and there are little secrets spread throughout the house for those who care to find them. The house’s architecture is impressively laid out and great care was taken into making the secrets it conceals believable. Little touches are scattered around the home that make it apparent that the game takes place in 1995. All of these aspects are testaments to how much care The Fullbright Company took to create the Greenbriar home. However, all of that work is wasted on someone like me. To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t care if I could read most of the text if I zoom in on documents and I also didn’t really care to spend hours combing through a digital house to learn more about Katie’s family, because I didn’t find any of them particularly interesting or compelling. The experience of playing Gone Home is, to paraphrase one of my colleagues, like taking the audio diaries scattered throughout BioShock and making them the center of your game, eliminating everything else. There are precious few distractions in Gone Home, none of which break up the tedium of walking around inside a house looking for things. Eventually, even minor annoyances like the sluggish pace at which Katie walks become frustrating because you just want to finish the game and be done. I could recreate the experience of playing Gone Home almost perfectly by losing my car keys and trying to remember where I put them, with none of the satisfaction or resolution that goes along with actually finding the dang things. Does Gone Home appeal to somebody? With over 500,000 copies sold, you bet your bootstraps it does. Was I in Gone Home’s target audience? Absolutely not. Now, where are my keys… View full article
  13. Jack Gardner

    Thoughts on Gone Home

    One of 2013’s critical indie darlings, Gone Home made a huge splash when it released. Critics praised it as a huge leap forward in interactive storytelling and for its non-violent content. Several notable publications such as Polygon, GamesRadar, and Giant Bomb gave the highest recommendations they can give and awarded the title perfect scores. Statements such as, “After completing the game, I sat in spellbound, smiling silence for nearly an hour,” from Danielle Riendeau at Polygon and Giancarlo Saldana’s acclaim in his GamesRadar review that, “Gone Home attempts to explore the boundaries of a game’s communicative potential and succeeds by giving us a story that satisfies our senses and touches our innermost being,” had me excited to play the title for myself. Unfortunately, my response to Gone Home fell far short of what others seemed to have enjoyed so thoroughly. I played Gone Home for about an hour from start to finish and walked away wishing I could have that hour back to do something different with my life. Gone Home places players in the shoes of Katie Greenbriar, a college student returning from travelling abroad in 1995. Katie arrives home, only to find that the house her family recently moved into is deserted, with her parents and sister nowhere to be found. As Katie, players navigate the house to discover what became of the Greenbriar family. Gameplay consists of wandering the house, looking at things, moving small objects, and occasionally interacting with buttons. The problems I had with Gone Home became apparent within the first ten minutes of wandering the massive Greenbriar residence. After I found the key to the front door, I entered the house and began looking at various knick-knacks on shelves and opening drawers obsessively, eventually stumbling across a hand-written note from Katie’s sister, Sam, whereupon I was rewarded with a voice-over narration by the talented Sarah Grayson. That’s when I realized that this was going to be the entire game. At first, I didn’t think there would be anything wrong with the lack of interesting gameplay. I had recently finished playing through The Stanley Parable, which has even less interactivity than Gone Home, and it was so brilliant it made my top 10 games of the generation list. However, as I made my way painstakingly through room after room, I rapidly lost my enthusiasm. Gone Home tries to immerse players in the role of Katie by setting movement at a certain realistic (i.e. slow) pace and adding little touches like a button that puts objects back in the place you found them. The Stanley Parable saddles players with extremely limiting controls to make points about game design, interactivity, and storytelling in the video game medium. The Stanley Parable’s gameplay serves to complement its story and can even serve as a point of commentary in its own right. Gone Home feels just the opposite. Its gameplay fails to add anything of importance to either its own story, which is the central focus of the game, or to the enjoyment I derived from it, which was nonexistent. Boring gameplay can be fine if there is a solid story to back it up. The original Mass Effect’s gameplay wasn’t anything to be excited about, but the story was compelling enough that I wanted to see it through to the end. Most of the praise people have lauded Gone Home with seems to center on it containing a narrative not traditionally associated with video games. Deviating from the norm in the video game industry is a bold move and one I wish more developers were willing to do. The problem is that simply having a non-traditional video game narrative doesn’t automatically make it worthwhile, especially if it is something we have experienced before in other mediums. The sole hook of Gone Home is to discover what became of the members of Katie’s family. With the exception of one red herring, it is fairly easy to figure out where the plot is going within the initial twenty minutes, and the destination isn’t terribly interesting. Without spoiling anything, the story boils down to a time-worn shtick that we’ve all heard a million times before across every form of media and has been better told elsewhere without the slow, monotonous gameplay. I don’t mean to imply that Gone Home isn’t well crafted. The voice-acting is particularly well done and deserves recognition for attempting to infuse some life into the game. Its environments have an astonishing attention to detail. Almost all text written on papers or books can be read if zoomed in and there are little secrets spread throughout the house for those who care to find them. The house’s architecture is impressively laid out and great care was taken into making the secrets it conceals believable. Little touches are scattered around the home that make it apparent that the game takes place in 1995. All of these aspects are testaments to how much care The Fullbright Company took to create the Greenbriar home. However, all of that work is wasted on someone like me. To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t care if I could read most of the text if I zoom in on documents and I also didn’t really care to spend hours combing through a digital house to learn more about Katie’s family, because I didn’t find any of them particularly interesting or compelling. The experience of playing Gone Home is, to paraphrase one of my colleagues, like taking the audio diaries scattered throughout BioShock and making them the center of your game, eliminating everything else. There are precious few distractions in Gone Home, none of which break up the tedium of walking around inside a house looking for things. Eventually, even minor annoyances like the sluggish pace at which Katie walks become frustrating because you just want to finish the game and be done. I could recreate the experience of playing Gone Home almost perfectly by losing my car keys and trying to remember where I put them, with none of the satisfaction or resolution that goes along with actually finding the dang things. Does Gone Home appeal to somebody? With over 500,000 copies sold, you bet your bootstraps it does. Was I in Gone Home’s target audience? Absolutely not. Now, where are my keys…
  14. Put together by Joe Kinglake and Bradley Smith, Remember the Fallen emerged during a game jam lasting merely 48 hours as a fully playable and effective game. The game jam in question was put on by TheWalkingDead.com, and asked participants to develop games with the theme of "all out war. Developers were given 48 hours to whip up a functional game from scratch. Finished games were then judged by Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead. Though there were numerous worthy entries (including one that pitted zombies against tigers), Remember the Fallen was declared the victor. TheWalkingDead.com did an excellent interview with them following their achievement, which you can read for yourself. After playing the game, it is not hard to see why Kirkman chose Remember the Fallen as the game jam champion. Players take on the role of someone who comes across a small village that has been reduced to rubble. Everything is destroyed except for the recent graves of five soldiers. As soft music plays, players traverse the ruins, picking roses to place at the graves of the fallen. The game takes only a few minutes to complete, but it is nonetheless effective at stirring up emotions. What does the future have in store for Remember the Fallen? Will it be left as is? Or will it be made into a full game? In either case, you should do yourself a favor and spend a couple minutes remembering the fallen. Remember the Fallen can be played here. View full article
  15. Put together by Joe Kinglake and Bradley Smith, Remember the Fallen emerged during a game jam lasting merely 48 hours as a fully playable and effective game. The game jam in question was put on by TheWalkingDead.com, and asked participants to develop games with the theme of "all out war. Developers were given 48 hours to whip up a functional game from scratch. Finished games were then judged by Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead. Though there were numerous worthy entries (including one that pitted zombies against tigers), Remember the Fallen was declared the victor. TheWalkingDead.com did an excellent interview with them following their achievement, which you can read for yourself. After playing the game, it is not hard to see why Kirkman chose Remember the Fallen as the game jam champion. Players take on the role of someone who comes across a small village that has been reduced to rubble. Everything is destroyed except for the recent graves of five soldiers. As soft music plays, players traverse the ruins, picking roses to place at the graves of the fallen. The game takes only a few minutes to complete, but it is nonetheless effective at stirring up emotions. What does the future have in store for Remember the Fallen? Will it be left as is? Or will it be made into a full game? In either case, you should do yourself a favor and spend a couple minutes remembering the fallen. Remember the Fallen can be played here.
  16. Well, it is that time again. Prepare to pay what you want for a selection of great games! What if I told you that there was a magical land where everything was perfect and you could pay what you wanted for anything your heart desired? Well, I'd be lying. However, a small sliver of that exists in the form of The Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of games for which people can pay as much as they want. Purchasers can then choose how much money goes to the developers, to Humble Indie Bundle, and to various other partners. If you pay more than the average, you unlock more games in your purchased bundle. Bundle number nine comes with the following: Trine 2: The Complete Story, Mark of the Ninja, Eets Munchies Beta, and Brütal Legend. Donate more than the current $4.41 average and you get FTL: Faster Than Light and Fez. Additionally, all games come DRM free and soundtracks are included. Juest head on over to humblebundle.com to get started. View full article
  17. Jack Gardner

    Humble Indie Bundle 9 Now Available

    Well, it is that time again. Prepare to pay what you want for a selection of great games! What if I told you that there was a magical land where everything was perfect and you could pay what you wanted for anything your heart desired? Well, I'd be lying. However, a small sliver of that exists in the form of The Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of games for which people can pay as much as they want. Purchasers can then choose how much money goes to the developers, to Humble Indie Bundle, and to various other partners. If you pay more than the average, you unlock more games in your purchased bundle. Bundle number nine comes with the following: Trine 2: The Complete Story, Mark of the Ninja, Eets Munchies Beta, and Brütal Legend. Donate more than the current $4.41 average and you get FTL: Faster Than Light and Fez. Additionally, all games come DRM free and soundtracks are included. Juest head on over to humblebundle.com to get started.
  18. As many people know, Jonathan Blow, the creator of the highly acclaimed indie game Braid, has been working on his next game called The Witness. However, details on the project are incredibly scarce. What many people do not know is that a while ago there was a call for people to submit art that could become a poster for The Witness. It turns out that the art poster was (very) briefly featured in this PS4 promotional spot at about 0:57. You can now download the hi-res image from their website. From there, Jonathan Blow says that, "If you like it, feel free to use it as a desktop image, or whatever!" I know think I know what will be going up on my walls sometime soon! View full article
  19. Jack Gardner

    Here Is an Awesome Poster for The Witness

    As many people know, Jonathan Blow, the creator of the highly acclaimed indie game Braid, has been working on his next game called The Witness. However, details on the project are incredibly scarce. What many people do not know is that a while ago there was a call for people to submit art that could become a poster for The Witness. It turns out that the art poster was (very) briefly featured in this PS4 promotional spot at about 0:57. You can now download the hi-res image from their website. From there, Jonathan Blow says that, "If you like it, feel free to use it as a desktop image, or whatever!" I know think I know what will be going up on my walls sometime soon!
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