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Found 56 results

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice exists as a fundamentally different beast than what many players might expect from the developers who brought them Dark Souls and Bloodborne. FromSoftware manages to infuse the stealth-action game with a lot of the same trimmings and style as their previous action-RPGs, but take Sekiro in an almost entirely different direction. Diverging from their incredibly successful formula to try something new represented a substantial risk. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team pulled off the impossible and created an experience that will surely stick with players for years to come - provided they can adapt to Sekiro's punishing gameplay mechanics. Sekiro tells the story of an honorable (or perhaps dishonorable, depending on your choices) shinobi, a ninja in service to a young boy named Lord Kuro. Of course, a FromSoftware game these days needs an element of the mystic and Lord Kuro also happens to be the Divine Heir, someone blessed with blood that prevents him from ever dying. Of course, that blood makes him the target of every power-hungry figure who yearns for immortality. The lands of Ashina in feudal Japan find themselves overrun with hostile forces and Lord Kuro captured shortly after the game begins. Our titular hero, Sekiro, must use all of his cunning and swordsmanship to rescue his master and follow the Iron Code of the shinobi. In his quest to secure Lord Kuro and follow the boy's orders, Sekiro contends with far more than human adversaries. Ghosts, gods, demons, and creatures straight out of Japanese folklore rise to stop him and spread chaos throughout the land. Learning how to deal with all of these threats, both mundane and supernatural, as just one man armed with a sword and a handful of shinobi tools would be quite the challenge under a Dark Souls-like system of death. You will die. That's an inescapable fact about Sekiro. However, Lord Kuro gave his loyal shinobi the gift of his blood, bestowing the ability to resurrect from the point of death to give another chance at emerging victorious from battle. And what battles you will have to endure and survive. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice focuses on the back and forth of clashing swords. You won't be able to dodge roll around most attacks or play it safe. Instead the highly lethal combat encourages players to stand toe to toe with adversaries, timing blocks and counters to overcome enemies in a way that would feel right at home in the life or death struggles that play such an important role in Akira Kurosawa's films. In this way, combat becomes more of a dance, blades singing through the air as they strike against flesh and steel. Players who can pick up on the pattern of attacks, the pacing of the dance, will find that Sekiro takes on an almost rhythm game-like feel. Sekiro rewards players for timing blocks and dodges right by turning them into deflections or counters, moves that help open enemies up for attacks. This makes the ability to time moves properly incredibly important. It also often means that running around and avoiding attacks while waiting for an opening is just not enough to make much progress. In fact, most of the boss encounters early on are specifically designed to crush that approach to combat out of players. Clever use of shinobi tools, knowing when to disengage, and recognizing when the time has come to stand your ground and fight head-on all prove integral to standing in triumph over foes. Always remember that Sekiro was built with more verticality in mind than Dark Souls or Bloodborne, so keep an eye out for grappling locations, especially in boss fights. They could open the door for a quick escape or a devastating counterattack. Of course, mastering the basic combat only prepares players for the unexpected challenges that are to come. The world of Sekiro is one where a human with a sharp mind and skilled with a blade can fight on equal terms with gods and demons. The mechanics introduced in the early game apply when fighting colossal beasts and otherworldly threats, though adapting to those animations and rhythms can prove to be a true challenge. Contending with magic and restless undead might seem to put Sekiro on uneven footing, but as players progress, they can use skill points to unlock new combos and techniques to help them compete against even immortal adversaries. Beyond combat, Sekiro has much to offer in terms of narrative. For the past several games, FromSoftware has told stories heavy on lore and world-building without much of a focus on the main protagonist outside of the role they fill within that detailed world. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes a different approach, opting to have a named protagonist with clearly articulated wants and desires, and supporting characters who all relate to him. This, more than anything else, helps Sekiro to feel more grounded than any of Hidetaka Miyazaki's other projects over the last several years. The grounded experience is further reinforced by the fact that the setting is one in which humans not only survive but thrive. Some of the most interesting enemies and encounters aren't big in scope, just two highly competent humans fighting one another in a life or death struggle. Since the narrative frames those human struggles in a more intimate and personal way, the player gets pulled into that fight, too. It simply feels more "real." We are continually reminded throughout the game that dragons, gods, demons, and ghosts are all aberrations; creatures and creations that pervert the natural cycle of the world - or exist outside of it. That brings us to one of the more interesting elements of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Religion. Whereas Dark Souls had bonfires and Bloodborne had lanterns, Sekiro has carvings of Buddha. In fact, Buddha and Buddhist imagery appear numerous times throughout Sekiro and understanding Buddhist philosophy can deepen the understanding of the narrative. For example, a major part of the central conflict raging at the heart of most FromSoftware games has been that holding onto something that will inevitably be lost can only cause suffering; it cannot actually satisfy. In Dark Souls, that something is Gwyn's Age of Fire and the curse placed upon humanity to force them into continuing the cycle over and over again. In Sekiro, the human pursuit of immortality represents a complete abandonment of the natural cycle of death and reincarnation. Sekiro's ability to die and resurrect is shown as useful but also something that spreads disease and suffering onto others. Those who have allowed themselves to become infested with immortal worms become undying and monstrous. The mission to create a god who could bestow eternal life sacrifices untold numbers of children to form one imperfect idol. In Buddhist terms, the dissatisfaction that these characters feel with their impending deaths are part of what is known as dukkha, the suffering and unsatisfying nature of a temporary existence. The way that they deal with that, however, is to wander far in search of an escape, a way to make their temporary state permanent rather than to pursue the eight-fold path and exit the cycle of reincarnation. Sekiro depicts the folly of such a wrong-headed approach to dealing with dukkha and the pain that can be inflicted on others by such an attempt. What interests me the most about Sekiro's depiction of Buddhism comes down to how its included so boldly in the game itself. Not many games are willing to show anything more than a fictional religion for fear that it might alienate some of the consumer base. In Sekiro, however, players pray at Buddha statues to fast-travel, level up, and more. The imagery is carved into the environments. Characters talk about Buddha, too. In fact, one of the main characters can't seem to stop carving Buddhas. One of the most important items players collect over their time spent in Sekiro are Buddhist prayer beads. There are even several cutscenes depicting the earnest prayers of our protagonist. That's bold and fascinating. How often have you seen a Muslim in prayer in a video game? Or a Christian? I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a protagonist in a video game pray in relation to a religion that exists in the real world. Video games are art and religion seems to be one of those areas that video games haven't yet gone in-depth, so this could be a sign of things to come. Conclusion: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stands apart from the Soulsborne games. The highly lethal approach to combat seems suited for the mechanics and message the developers were going for. Encounters with enemies feel fair, with tight controls responding well to the rhythm of battle; even normal enemies sometimes achieve the satisfying back-and-forth trading of blows often reserved for mini-bosses. The world doesn't stop surprising right up until the end, especially if you aren't familiar with Japanese folklore. The main complaint about Sekiro's gameplay would be the functional but shoddy stealth system. A sequel seems almost inevitable at this point and further refinements to sneaking and related abilities would go a long way toward making it feel more robust. Perhaps sneaking through an enemy city and avoiding the non-violent civilians? Experiencing Sekiro's visuals feels like a treat for the eyes. The lighting and level design often lead to moments that feel cinematic and the day-night cycle that progresses as main story objectives are achieved lends each location a new experience when you begin backtracking looking for secrets (something you should definitely do). The music in Sekiro failed to live up to the standards of the visuals, but it doesn't actively detract from the game in any major way. It just doesn't stand out. However, the sound design almost completely makes up for the lackluster score. Blades clashing, otherworldly howls, the melancholy notes of ethereal instruments floating through the air, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice knows how to characterize its enemies and struggles by sound alone. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should absolutely be on your gaming wishlist if you have any love for FromSoftware titles or action games in general. It doesn't get much better than this. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was reviewed on PC and is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 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!
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice exists as a fundamentally different beast than what many players might expect from the developers who brought them Dark Souls and Bloodborne. FromSoftware manages to infuse the stealth-action game with a lot of the same trimmings and style as their previous action-RPGs, but take Sekiro in an almost entirely different direction. Diverging from their incredibly successful formula to try something new represented a substantial risk. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team pulled off the impossible and created an experience that will surely stick with players for years to come - provided they can adapt to Sekiro's punishing gameplay mechanics. Sekiro tells the story of an honorable (or perhaps dishonorable, depending on your choices) shinobi, a ninja in service to a young boy named Lord Kuro. Of course, a FromSoftware game these days needs an element of the mystic and Lord Kuro also happens to be the Divine Heir, someone blessed with blood that prevents him from ever dying. Of course, that blood makes him the target of every power-hungry figure who yearns for immortality. The lands of Ashina in feudal Japan find themselves overrun with hostile forces and Lord Kuro captured shortly after the game begins. Our titular hero, Sekiro, must use all of his cunning and swordsmanship to rescue his master and follow the Iron Code of the shinobi. In his quest to secure Lord Kuro and follow the boy's orders, Sekiro contends with far more than human adversaries. Ghosts, gods, demons, and creatures straight out of Japanese folklore rise to stop him and spread chaos throughout the land. Learning how to deal with all of these threats, both mundane and supernatural, as just one man armed with a sword and a handful of shinobi tools would be quite the challenge under a Dark Souls-like system of death. You will die. That's an inescapable fact about Sekiro. However, Lord Kuro gave his loyal shinobi the gift of his blood, bestowing the ability to resurrect from the point of death to give another chance at emerging victorious from battle. And what battles you will have to endure and survive. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice focuses on the back and forth of clashing swords. You won't be able to dodge roll around most attacks or play it safe. Instead the highly lethal combat encourages players to stand toe to toe with adversaries, timing blocks and counters to overcome enemies in a way that would feel right at home in the life or death struggles that play such an important role in Akira Kurosawa's films. In this way, combat becomes more of a dance, blades singing through the air as they strike against flesh and steel. Players who can pick up on the pattern of attacks, the pacing of the dance, will find that Sekiro takes on an almost rhythm game-like feel. Sekiro rewards players for timing blocks and dodges right by turning them into deflections or counters, moves that help open enemies up for attacks. This makes the ability to time moves properly incredibly important. It also often means that running around and avoiding attacks while waiting for an opening is just not enough to make much progress. In fact, most of the boss encounters early on are specifically designed to crush that approach to combat out of players. Clever use of shinobi tools, knowing when to disengage, and recognizing when the time has come to stand your ground and fight head-on all prove integral to standing in triumph over foes. Always remember that Sekiro was built with more verticality in mind than Dark Souls or Bloodborne, so keep an eye out for grappling locations, especially in boss fights. They could open the door for a quick escape or a devastating counterattack. Of course, mastering the basic combat only prepares players for the unexpected challenges that are to come. The world of Sekiro is one where a human with a sharp mind and skilled with a blade can fight on equal terms with gods and demons. The mechanics introduced in the early game apply when fighting colossal beasts and otherworldly threats, though adapting to those animations and rhythms can prove to be a true challenge. Contending with magic and restless undead might seem to put Sekiro on uneven footing, but as players progress, they can use skill points to unlock new combos and techniques to help them compete against even immortal adversaries. Beyond combat, Sekiro has much to offer in terms of narrative. For the past several games, FromSoftware has told stories heavy on lore and world-building without much of a focus on the main protagonist outside of the role they fill within that detailed world. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes a different approach, opting to have a named protagonist with clearly articulated wants and desires, and supporting characters who all relate to him. This, more than anything else, helps Sekiro to feel more grounded than any of Hidetaka Miyazaki's other projects over the last several years. The grounded experience is further reinforced by the fact that the setting is one in which humans not only survive but thrive. Some of the most interesting enemies and encounters aren't big in scope, just two highly competent humans fighting one another in a life or death struggle. Since the narrative frames those human struggles in a more intimate and personal way, the player gets pulled into that fight, too. It simply feels more "real." We are continually reminded throughout the game that dragons, gods, demons, and ghosts are all aberrations; creatures and creations that pervert the natural cycle of the world - or exist outside of it. That brings us to one of the more interesting elements of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Religion. Whereas Dark Souls had bonfires and Bloodborne had lanterns, Sekiro has carvings of Buddha. In fact, Buddha and Buddhist imagery appear numerous times throughout Sekiro and understanding Buddhist philosophy can deepen the understanding of the narrative. For example, a major part of the central conflict raging at the heart of most FromSoftware games has been that holding onto something that will inevitably be lost can only cause suffering; it cannot actually satisfy. In Dark Souls, that something is Gwyn's Age of Fire and the curse placed upon humanity to force them into continuing the cycle over and over again. In Sekiro, the human pursuit of immortality represents a complete abandonment of the natural cycle of death and reincarnation. Sekiro's ability to die and resurrect is shown as useful but also something that spreads disease and suffering onto others. Those who have allowed themselves to become infested with immortal worms become undying and monstrous. The mission to create a god who could bestow eternal life sacrifices untold numbers of children to form one imperfect idol. In Buddhist terms, the dissatisfaction that these characters feel with their impending deaths are part of what is known as dukkha, the suffering and unsatisfying nature of a temporary existence. The way that they deal with that, however, is to wander far in search of an escape, a way to make their temporary state permanent rather than to pursue the eight-fold path and exit the cycle of reincarnation. Sekiro depicts the folly of such a wrong-headed approach to dealing with dukkha and the pain that can be inflicted on others by such an attempt. What interests me the most about Sekiro's depiction of Buddhism comes down to how its included so boldly in the game itself. Not many games are willing to show anything more than a fictional religion for fear that it might alienate some of the consumer base. In Sekiro, however, players pray at Buddha statues to fast-travel, level up, and more. The imagery is carved into the environments. Characters talk about Buddha, too. In fact, one of the main characters can't seem to stop carving Buddhas. One of the most important items players collect over their time spent in Sekiro are Buddhist prayer beads. There are even several cutscenes depicting the earnest prayers of our protagonist. That's bold and fascinating. How often have you seen a Muslim in prayer in a video game? Or a Christian? I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a protagonist in a video game pray in relation to a religion that exists in the real world. Video games are art and religion seems to be one of those areas that video games haven't yet gone in-depth, so this could be a sign of things to come. Conclusion: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stands apart from the Soulsborne games. The highly lethal approach to combat seems suited for the mechanics and message the developers were going for. Encounters with enemies feel fair, with tight controls responding well to the rhythm of battle; even normal enemies sometimes achieve the satisfying back-and-forth trading of blows often reserved for mini-bosses. The world doesn't stop surprising right up until the end, especially if you aren't familiar with Japanese folklore. The main complaint about Sekiro's gameplay would be the functional but shoddy stealth system. A sequel seems almost inevitable at this point and further refinements to sneaking and related abilities would go a long way toward making it feel more robust. Perhaps sneaking through an enemy city and avoiding the non-violent civilians? Experiencing Sekiro's visuals feels like a treat for the eyes. The lighting and level design often lead to moments that feel cinematic and the day-night cycle that progresses as main story objectives are achieved lends each location a new experience when you begin backtracking looking for secrets (something you should definitely do). The music in Sekiro failed to live up to the standards of the visuals, but it doesn't actively detract from the game in any major way. It just doesn't stand out. However, the sound design almost completely makes up for the lackluster score. Blades clashing, otherworldly howls, the melancholy notes of ethereal instruments floating through the air, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice knows how to characterize its enemies and struggles by sound alone. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should absolutely be on your gaming wishlist if you have any love for FromSoftware titles or action games in general. It doesn't get much better than this. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was reviewed on PC and is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 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
  3. Bending the rules for the podcast a bit, this week we tackle A44's action-RPG Ashen. Released late last year, the Dark Souls-lite game takes players on a perilous journey through a world filled with monsters. With a disarming art style and tight controls, this indie came out of the shadows and surprised quite a few people. Could it be one of the best games period? To help us tackle that question, we brought on wonderful Noe Monsivais AKA Trobadour_XP on Twitter. The English teacher/streamer nominated Ashen to throw a bit more of a spotlight on what might be one of the most underappreciated indies from the past year. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 'While the Wind Fish Sleeps' by bGevko (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03868) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday 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
  4. Bending the rules for the podcast a bit, this week we tackle A44's action-RPG Ashen. Released late last year, the Dark Souls-lite game takes players on a perilous journey through a world filled with monsters. With a disarming art style and tight controls, this indie came out of the shadows and surprised quite a few people. Could it be one of the best games period? To help us tackle that question, we brought on wonderful Noe Monsivais AKA Trobadour_XP on Twitter. The English teacher/streamer nominated Ashen to throw a bit more of a spotlight on what might be one of the most underappreciated indies from the past year. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 'While the Wind Fish Sleeps' by bGevko (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03868) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday 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!
  5. A new 2.5D side-scrolling stealth action platformer from Ubisoft lands tomorrow. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China stars Shao Jun, which fans might already be familiar with from the 2011 animated short "Assassin's Creed: Embers." Shao Jun stands as the last remaining member of the Chinese Brootherhood. Now she returns to her homeland to restore the Assassins and exact her revenge against the people who stole her life. Two more titles are planned for the Chronicles series, India and Russia. More details coming on those in the near future. This has been a bit of a stealthy lead up to release, following the low-key announcement two weeks ago. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China will be available tomorrow, April 21, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 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. From humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project to becoming one of the biggest indie darlings of 2016, Hyper Light Drifter has quite the history of defying expectations. Gorgeous pixel art animations and vistas, dialogue-less storytelling, and a fantastic soundtrack by Disasterpeace came together to tell a gripping tale about a lone wanderer in a sci-fi apocalypse. While all of the pieces come together for a solid game, do they gel well enough to create something considered one of the best games of all-time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: A Link to the Past 'Chamber of the Goddess' by Disasterpeace (http://ocremix.org/album/33/25yearlegend-a-legend-of-zelda-indie-game-composer-tribute) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday 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!
  7. From humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project to becoming one of the biggest indie darlings of 2016, Hyper Light Drifter has quite the history of defying expectations. Gorgeous pixel art animations and vistas, dialogue-less storytelling, and a fantastic soundtrack by Disasterpeace came together to tell a gripping tale about a lone wanderer in a sci-fi apocalypse. While all of the pieces come together for a solid game, do they gel well enough to create something considered one of the best games of all-time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: A Link to the Past 'Chamber of the Goddess' by Disasterpeace (http://ocremix.org/album/33/25yearlegend-a-legend-of-zelda-indie-game-composer-tribute) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday 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
  8. State of Mind presents a vision of 2048 that feels equal parts neat and unsettling. Robots dominate society, acting as household servants and even make up a fully autonomous police force. Citizens have augmented reality implants that display basic information for every person they come into contact with. Virtual reality has evolved into fully immersive worlds that many people prefer to spend their entire lives within. Technology can be wonderful, but should it advance at the expense of our humanity? State of Mind presents meaningful transhumanistic questions, but the delivery leaves much to be desired. Daedalic Entertainment’s narrative adventure has much in common with Life is Strange in terms of its third-person design. The meat of the experience involves exploring compact hub areas and interacting with characters, with additional elements sprinkled on top. These include puzzle-solving, stealth sequences, and even light shooting segments. The plot centers on technophobic journalist Richard Nolan. His life gets flipped on its head when he’s involved in a near-fatal car accident. As he gradually picks up the pieces, he realizes his accident may have been anything but. Worse, his family has also gone missing. In his search for answers he uncovers a conspiracy revolving around a secret virtual world. Despite his reservations with tech, Nolan must cooperate with forces in both realities, including a digital copy of himself, to rescue his family and squash a grander scheme. Nolan’s overwhelming unlikability holds back the story in a big way. Granted, much of this is by design. He’s tangled in an affair despite being married with a kid. His paranoia, both tech-related and personal, causes him to regularly fly off the handle, often irrationally. Nolan’s glaring flaws play into one of the game’s themes: escapism. Many characters turn to the virtual world to escape real world pain or imperfection. Richard has every reason to do the same, but he detests the idea of an artificial existence. That’s fine, but Nolan’s sheer abrasiveness made it nigh impossible to get behind him as a sympathetic character–something State of Mind clearly tries to accomplish. Nolan and the most of the cast suffer from cheesy, wooden performances that often rob serious moments of their emotional weight. A character death, for instance, doesn’t hit nearly as hard because of the rough acting. The story periodically drops players into the shoes of other supporting characters. Some tales land better than others–the story of a robot gaining freewill feels uninspired. However, these scenarios do a solid job of providing backstory and tying together different plot threads. Experiencing the troubled life of Nolan’s mistress Lydia became my favorite tale. She has easily the most fascinating history as well as the most genuine performance. Even though it features player choice, State of Mind tells a largely linear plot. Most choices lead to minor changes in tone, like choosing to respond angrily or passively. The only decision of significance comes at the flat conclusion. Those hoping to see branching paths for everything they do will be disappointed, but I personally didn’t mind the more focused approach. What did bother me was how the hokey, somewhat pretentious writing got in the way of State of Mind’s otherwise intriguing themes of transhumanism. The game sometimes feels like it tries too hard to be profound and can get up its own butt with its philosophy. State of Mind clicks best when those themes simply prop up the relatable human drama; an estranged father attempting to rebuild his family, for example. Other scenes feel outright dumb. In one unintentionally hilarious moment, I met a character infiltrating the virtual world undercover. He reiterated his need for secrecy, then immediately denounced the beliefs of the society he’s supposed to blending in with by making a loud scene in public. Well-worn archetypes (e.g. the messiah with a god complex, the self-righteous hacktivist) could have been stronger if they were written with more subtly. They can be over-the-top to the point being cartoonish and are painfully one-dimensional. In terms of presentation, the sharp, polygonal art direction gives State of Mind a cool style. I especially love the slick camera framing that adds to the cinematic feel. Unfortunately, scenes that abruptly switch to the loading screen and occasionally wonky angles (such as from within a character model) mar the production values. State of Mind’s gameplay can be hit and miss, as well, but I admire its variety. More involved mechanics include using a drone to navigate a maze of ventilation shafts while avoiding rogue bots. Sifting through notes to find correlating intel offers cerebral fun akin to a classic adventure title. An interactive art exhibit allowed me to manipulate music and visual effects for no real purpose but was neat diversion nonetheless. Best of all, only a few mechanics repeat themselves. Recurring activities are simplistic but mostly inoffensive. For example, piecing together jumbled AR scenes like a virtual puzzle. Others, such as a hacking mini-game, feel too easy. Players must position the analog sticks in the right spot but exacts solutions worked repeatedly, sometimes even consecutively. Conclusion State of Mind presents interesting ideas wrapped around solid gameplay and a good look. However, the questionable writing and performances bring everything down. It has some bright spots, but State of Mind ultimately boils down to an ambitious yet average sci-fi thriller. 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!
  9. State of Mind presents a vision of 2048 that feels equal parts neat and unsettling. Robots dominate society, acting as household servants and even make up a fully autonomous police force. Citizens have augmented reality implants that display basic information for every person they come into contact with. Virtual reality has evolved into fully immersive worlds that many people prefer to spend their entire lives within. Technology can be wonderful, but should it advance at the expense of our humanity? State of Mind presents meaningful transhumanistic questions, but the delivery leaves much to be desired. Daedalic Entertainment’s narrative adventure has much in common with Life is Strange in terms of its third-person design. The meat of the experience involves exploring compact hub areas and interacting with characters, with additional elements sprinkled on top. These include puzzle-solving, stealth sequences, and even light shooting segments. The plot centers on technophobic journalist Richard Nolan. His life gets flipped on its head when he’s involved in a near-fatal car accident. As he gradually picks up the pieces, he realizes his accident may have been anything but. Worse, his family has also gone missing. In his search for answers he uncovers a conspiracy revolving around a secret virtual world. Despite his reservations with tech, Nolan must cooperate with forces in both realities, including a digital copy of himself, to rescue his family and squash a grander scheme. Nolan’s overwhelming unlikability holds back the story in a big way. Granted, much of this is by design. He’s tangled in an affair despite being married with a kid. His paranoia, both tech-related and personal, causes him to regularly fly off the handle, often irrationally. Nolan’s glaring flaws play into one of the game’s themes: escapism. Many characters turn to the virtual world to escape real world pain or imperfection. Richard has every reason to do the same, but he detests the idea of an artificial existence. That’s fine, but Nolan’s sheer abrasiveness made it nigh impossible to get behind him as a sympathetic character–something State of Mind clearly tries to accomplish. Nolan and the most of the cast suffer from cheesy, wooden performances that often rob serious moments of their emotional weight. A character death, for instance, doesn’t hit nearly as hard because of the rough acting. The story periodically drops players into the shoes of other supporting characters. Some tales land better than others–the story of a robot gaining freewill feels uninspired. However, these scenarios do a solid job of providing backstory and tying together different plot threads. Experiencing the troubled life of Nolan’s mistress Lydia became my favorite tale. She has easily the most fascinating history as well as the most genuine performance. Even though it features player choice, State of Mind tells a largely linear plot. Most choices lead to minor changes in tone, like choosing to respond angrily or passively. The only decision of significance comes at the flat conclusion. Those hoping to see branching paths for everything they do will be disappointed, but I personally didn’t mind the more focused approach. What did bother me was how the hokey, somewhat pretentious writing got in the way of State of Mind’s otherwise intriguing themes of transhumanism. The game sometimes feels like it tries too hard to be profound and can get up its own butt with its philosophy. State of Mind clicks best when those themes simply prop up the relatable human drama; an estranged father attempting to rebuild his family, for example. Other scenes feel outright dumb. In one unintentionally hilarious moment, I met a character infiltrating the virtual world undercover. He reiterated his need for secrecy, then immediately denounced the beliefs of the society he’s supposed to blending in with by making a loud scene in public. Well-worn archetypes (e.g. the messiah with a god complex, the self-righteous hacktivist) could have been stronger if they were written with more subtly. They can be over-the-top to the point being cartoonish and are painfully one-dimensional. In terms of presentation, the sharp, polygonal art direction gives State of Mind a cool style. I especially love the slick camera framing that adds to the cinematic feel. Unfortunately, scenes that abruptly switch to the loading screen and occasionally wonky angles (such as from within a character model) mar the production values. State of Mind’s gameplay can be hit and miss, as well, but I admire its variety. More involved mechanics include using a drone to navigate a maze of ventilation shafts while avoiding rogue bots. Sifting through notes to find correlating intel offers cerebral fun akin to a classic adventure title. An interactive art exhibit allowed me to manipulate music and visual effects for no real purpose but was neat diversion nonetheless. Best of all, only a few mechanics repeat themselves. Recurring activities are simplistic but mostly inoffensive. For example, piecing together jumbled AR scenes like a virtual puzzle. Others, such as a hacking mini-game, feel too easy. Players must position the analog sticks in the right spot but exacts solutions worked repeatedly, sometimes even consecutively. Conclusion State of Mind presents interesting ideas wrapped around solid gameplay and a good look. However, the questionable writing and performances bring everything down. It has some bright spots, but State of Mind ultimately boils down to an ambitious yet average sci-fi thriller. 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
  10. You might not remember much about Kursk, an adventure game announced two years ago. Jujubee, the studio developing it, has been largely silent about the project after the reveal generated a considerable amount of criticism for its focus on the tragic sinking of the titular submarine in 2000, which resulted in the loss of all 118 sailors. The studio responded to those criticizing Kursk with the following statement: We would like to clarify a few things about our upcoming game "KURSK", because we see that there are some concerns. We are fully aware that this tragedy was a very painful topic for the Russian society and we can assure you that the game will be made with all the respect. There are many movies and books about current, very often painful events and we feel that games are now also a form of art and that the time has come for our industry to talk about serious and real topics. "KURSK" will be a game for the mature audience that can appreciate a deep storyline and our main goal is to do it right, without offending anyone. We hope that the final game will put all concerns to rest and that players will realize how much bravery it takes to live and work on a submarine. Many critics remained unconvinced, however, which may explain why the studio has been silent for two years. But now they're back with more information on their secretive project. Their announcement dubs Kursk the first "adventure-documentary game" in the history of video games. The claim that Kursk will be the first game ever to focus on a historical event is inaccurate, but Jujubee does seem to be aiming for historical accuracy with some embellishments. The additional details about Kursk's storyline reveal that it focuses on a character who didn't exist. Kursk will put players into the shoes of a fictional spy tasked with obtaining information on the Shkval supercavitating torpedoes, real torpedoes that the governments of the world had taken a keen interest in around the time of the incident. Players will be able to explore the submarine, Moscow, and the town of Vidyayevo, all locations which played pivotal roles in the lead up to the tragedy. Jujubee has implemented a variety of mechanics throughout the game to help bolster its narrative and help it stand out from what it sees as more conventional, repetitive games. Kursk's expected length sits at about ten hours. Michał Stępień, CEO at Jujubee, expressed his belief that Kursk would be a complex, nuanced story that would leave people better educated about the event and honor those who lost their lives saying: We think that the time has come to tell true stories. It’s fascinating how much our industry has evolved over the last dozen or so years. Games are becoming more and more complex, they offer an incredible audiovisual experience and let us immerse ourselves in virtual reality, but we should expect something more from them. As developers, we realize how much time users spend with our products, but we often fail to remember the responsibility connected to it. We can make games something more than just exciting entertainment. Games can become a tool not unlike books or films. They can help us develop, educate us, broaden our horizons, and provoke discussions that go far beyond the world of video games. We believe that KURSK will be precisely that kind of creation. It’s a game that brings the Russian submarine crew’s tragic story to the fore while maintaining all the advantages of sandbox gameplay. We’d like players not only to feel an integral part of the world we’re creating, but also to be inspired by the facts of this fascinating, if not dramatic story. The game will look at the story of the Kursk in a very comprehensive way. We aim for realism and as much immersion as possible. The player will not only have the opportunity to feel like a member of a submarine crew, but they will also be able to influence the story through their choices, including moral ones. The decisions they make will have a significant impact on the ending of the game, and there’ll be several of them Following the release of Kursk later this year, Jujubee has announced two expansions for the game. The first will be titled Kengir and will detail the events of the Kengir labor camp uprising in 1954 and the escape of one of the prisoners held there. The choice of subject matter for the DLC shows that Jujubee will not be shying away from potentially touchy topics going forward. The second DLC brings VR support in 4K and beyond. Kursk has no set release date, but it will be releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2018.
  11. You might not remember much about Kursk, an adventure game announced two years ago. Jujubee, the studio developing it, has been largely silent about the project after the reveal generated a considerable amount of criticism for its focus on the tragic sinking of the titular submarine in 2000, which resulted in the loss of all 118 sailors. The studio responded to those criticizing Kursk with the following statement: We would like to clarify a few things about our upcoming game "KURSK", because we see that there are some concerns. We are fully aware that this tragedy was a very painful topic for the Russian society and we can assure you that the game will be made with all the respect. There are many movies and books about current, very often painful events and we feel that games are now also a form of art and that the time has come for our industry to talk about serious and real topics. "KURSK" will be a game for the mature audience that can appreciate a deep storyline and our main goal is to do it right, without offending anyone. We hope that the final game will put all concerns to rest and that players will realize how much bravery it takes to live and work on a submarine. Many critics remained unconvinced, however, which may explain why the studio has been silent for two years. But now they're back with more information on their secretive project. Their announcement dubs Kursk the first "adventure-documentary game" in the history of video games. The claim that Kursk will be the first game ever to focus on a historical event is inaccurate, but Jujubee does seem to be aiming for historical accuracy with some embellishments. The additional details about Kursk's storyline reveal that it focuses on a character who didn't exist. Kursk will put players into the shoes of a fictional spy tasked with obtaining information on the Shkval supercavitating torpedoes, real torpedoes that the governments of the world had taken a keen interest in around the time of the incident. Players will be able to explore the submarine, Moscow, and the town of Vidyayevo, all locations which played pivotal roles in the lead up to the tragedy. Jujubee has implemented a variety of mechanics throughout the game to help bolster its narrative and help it stand out from what it sees as more conventional, repetitive games. Kursk's expected length sits at about ten hours. Michał Stępień, CEO at Jujubee, expressed his belief that Kursk would be a complex, nuanced story that would leave people better educated about the event and honor those who lost their lives saying: We think that the time has come to tell true stories. It’s fascinating how much our industry has evolved over the last dozen or so years. Games are becoming more and more complex, they offer an incredible audiovisual experience and let us immerse ourselves in virtual reality, but we should expect something more from them. As developers, we realize how much time users spend with our products, but we often fail to remember the responsibility connected to it. We can make games something more than just exciting entertainment. Games can become a tool not unlike books or films. They can help us develop, educate us, broaden our horizons, and provoke discussions that go far beyond the world of video games. We believe that KURSK will be precisely that kind of creation. It’s a game that brings the Russian submarine crew’s tragic story to the fore while maintaining all the advantages of sandbox gameplay. We’d like players not only to feel an integral part of the world we’re creating, but also to be inspired by the facts of this fascinating, if not dramatic story. The game will look at the story of the Kursk in a very comprehensive way. We aim for realism and as much immersion as possible. The player will not only have the opportunity to feel like a member of a submarine crew, but they will also be able to influence the story through their choices, including moral ones. The decisions they make will have a significant impact on the ending of the game, and there’ll be several of them Following the release of Kursk later this year, Jujubee has announced two expansions for the game. The first will be titled Kengir and will detail the events of the Kengir labor camp uprising in 1954 and the escape of one of the prisoners held there. The choice of subject matter for the DLC shows that Jujubee will not be shying away from potentially touchy topics going forward. The second DLC brings VR support in 4K and beyond. Kursk has no set release date, but it will be releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2018. View full article
  12. Announced last year prior to its E3 debut, Extinction is a game about protecting humanity from the titular event at the hands of an army of gigantic, ravenous ogres known as the Ravenii. Players take on the role of Avil, an inhumanly dexterous magical swordsman known as a Sentinel who seems to be the only one capable of defeating the Ravenii. Using magic, cunning, and brute force, players will have to use the environment to gain the upper hand while dispatching the ogres and their minions. Now we finally know when Extinction will release. April 10, mark it on your calendars. Iron Galaxy and Mobus Games are hoping that fans of action games and Attack on Titan will spur Extinction to success. It will release as a full $60 game with a deluxe edition that includes a season pass for $70. Those who want a season pass at a later date will be looking at $15. There are also pre-order bonuses (because of course there are). Those who pre-order at Gamestop will receive two trials titled Last Legs and Heads, You Win. Best Buy offers the Short Fuse trial. PSN is offering the Double Trouble trial. Finally, Microsoft has the Brightsteel City trial. Get started on saving humanity on April 10 when Extinction launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  13. Announced last year prior to its E3 debut, Extinction is a game about protecting humanity from the titular event at the hands of an army of gigantic, ravenous ogres known as the Ravenii. Players take on the role of Avil, an inhumanly dexterous magical swordsman known as a Sentinel who seems to be the only one capable of defeating the Ravenii. Using magic, cunning, and brute force, players will have to use the environment to gain the upper hand while dispatching the ogres and their minions. Now we finally know when Extinction will release. April 10, mark it on your calendars. Iron Galaxy and Mobus Games are hoping that fans of action games and Attack on Titan will spur Extinction to success. It will release as a full $60 game with a deluxe edition that includes a season pass for $70. Those who want a season pass at a later date will be looking at $15. There are also pre-order bonuses (because of course there are). Those who pre-order at Gamestop will receive two trials titled Last Legs and Heads, You Win. Best Buy offers the Short Fuse trial. PSN is offering the Double Trouble trial. Finally, Microsoft has the Brightsteel City trial. Get started on saving humanity on April 10 when Extinction launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  14. Sega has had a long-running series of arcade titles in Japan that have players piloting mechs through tense battles. The series, titled Border Break, got its start in 2009 and will finally see a console release later this year as a free-to-play game with microtransactions involving in-game items. Unfortunately, for now it seems that Border Break will be limited to the Japanese market, but an English localization isn't out of the question. Border Break focuses on 10v10 mech battles across a variety of maps. Each mech can be customized for visual flair and new stats. There are four main weapon types for players to learn and specialize in: Assault (for a balance between mobility and firepower), Heavy Fire (for firepower), Raid (for pure firepower at a cost), and Support (for healing and light damage). Battles can be against the computer, casually against other players, or in ranked matches for honor and glory. How microtransactions will affect the game remain to be seen. Given that Border Break seems to offer a great deal of customization for individual mechs, it's not out of the question that certain parts or upgrades could be locked behind a paywall. It might also fall into the camp of cosmetic payments. For now, it's pretty exciting that Sega has decided on a console release. A story mode also makes its debut in the console release. Border Break will tell the tale of a young woman named Hati who desires revenge as she pilots her mech against, among others, Managar, a crack ace. The story details have been left somewhat vague, but we know that Hati will be assisted by a woman named Mikoto and that the cast will be quite expansive beyond those three. The cast will be filled out with characters created by a pool of popular Japanese illustrators. Overall, Border Break looks like a really interesting project that would be awesome to see come to the West, especially if the microtransactions prove to be unobtrusive. We can always use more mech action! Border Break will release sometime later this year. View full article
  15. Sega has had a long-running series of arcade titles in Japan that have players piloting mechs through tense battles. The series, titled Border Break, got its start in 2009 and will finally see a console release later this year as a free-to-play game with microtransactions involving in-game items. Unfortunately, for now it seems that Border Break will be limited to the Japanese market, but an English localization isn't out of the question. Border Break focuses on 10v10 mech battles across a variety of maps. Each mech can be customized for visual flair and new stats. There are four main weapon types for players to learn and specialize in: Assault (for a balance between mobility and firepower), Heavy Fire (for firepower), Raid (for pure firepower at a cost), and Support (for healing and light damage). Battles can be against the computer, casually against other players, or in ranked matches for honor and glory. How microtransactions will affect the game remain to be seen. Given that Border Break seems to offer a great deal of customization for individual mechs, it's not out of the question that certain parts or upgrades could be locked behind a paywall. It might also fall into the camp of cosmetic payments. For now, it's pretty exciting that Sega has decided on a console release. A story mode also makes its debut in the console release. Border Break will tell the tale of a young woman named Hati who desires revenge as she pilots her mech against, among others, Managar, a crack ace. The story details have been left somewhat vague, but we know that Hati will be assisted by a woman named Mikoto and that the cast will be quite expansive beyond those three. The cast will be filled out with characters created by a pool of popular Japanese illustrators. Overall, Border Break looks like a really interesting project that would be awesome to see come to the West, especially if the microtransactions prove to be unobtrusive. We can always use more mech action! Border Break will release sometime later this year.
  16. The Harbinger comes. In Omensight, players take on the role of a powerful martial entity that exists outside of time. In a final act of desperation to save their world, the denizens of Urralia have summoned the player, Harbinger, to alter the course of events that led to the planet's destruction. Armed with time manipulation powers and an array of sword abilities, players must judge the leaders of Urralia and discern how best to shape its future. Players will navigate the past of Urralia as seen by the characters who brought it to ruin, choosing whether to aid them or fight against them. By making those choices, Urralia might just have a second chance at life. “When we released Stories: The Path of Destinies in 2016, we were thrilled with the response to its narrative structure,” says Malik Boukhira, Spearhead Game's Creative Director on Omensight. “Players told us how they enjoyed manipulating time to collect all the different endings in the game. With Omensight, our new original title set in a fresh universe, we’re taking this idea one step further. What we like to call the ‘narrative puzzle’ will extend to a range of diverse characters in Omensight, and we can’t wait to see how players navigate the intricacies of these characters’ actions and reactions to solve the mystery of Urralia’s demise.” Omensight has an awful lot of talent flowing into it behind the scenes. Vocal talent from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and We Happy Few will help bring life into the fictional world Spearhead Games aims to forge. That fictional world and the narrative bringing everything together will be crafted by Nadim Boukhira (Stories: The Path of Destinies) and Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion) with creative input from Chris Avellone, the writer of Fallout: New Vegas, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and Prey (2017). PAX South this coming weekend will present an opportunity for players to get their hands on the first public build of Omensight that will highlight the overarching story and combat system.
  17. The Harbinger comes. In Omensight, players take on the role of a powerful martial entity that exists outside of time. In a final act of desperation to save their world, the denizens of Urralia have summoned the player, Harbinger, to alter the course of events that led to the planet's destruction. Armed with time manipulation powers and an array of sword abilities, players must judge the leaders of Urralia and discern how best to shape its future. Players will navigate the past of Urralia as seen by the characters who brought it to ruin, choosing whether to aid them or fight against them. By making those choices, Urralia might just have a second chance at life. “When we released Stories: The Path of Destinies in 2016, we were thrilled with the response to its narrative structure,” says Malik Boukhira, Spearhead Game's Creative Director on Omensight. “Players told us how they enjoyed manipulating time to collect all the different endings in the game. With Omensight, our new original title set in a fresh universe, we’re taking this idea one step further. What we like to call the ‘narrative puzzle’ will extend to a range of diverse characters in Omensight, and we can’t wait to see how players navigate the intricacies of these characters’ actions and reactions to solve the mystery of Urralia’s demise.” Omensight has an awful lot of talent flowing into it behind the scenes. Vocal talent from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and We Happy Few will help bring life into the fictional world Spearhead Games aims to forge. That fictional world and the narrative bringing everything together will be crafted by Nadim Boukhira (Stories: The Path of Destinies) and Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion) with creative input from Chris Avellone, the writer of Fallout: New Vegas, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and Prey (2017). PAX South this coming weekend will present an opportunity for players to get their hands on the first public build of Omensight that will highlight the overarching story and combat system. View full article
  18. Code Vein has been on our radar since its mysterious tease and subsequent reveal. If there were any doubts about the inspiration Bandai Namco took from From Software's Bloodborne, there can't be much more after seeing the latest trailer. "We fight, we drink blood, revive, and then fight some more. Our lives are pretty much one endless loop." This quote from the trailer refers to the vampyric apocalypse the main characters find themselves struggling against. However, it also sums up the mechanics of Code Vein, which thrusts players into the role of a newly turned vampire who must fight and drink blood in order to retain sanity in a world wrecked by a mysterious cataclysm. The quote could also be interpreted to mean a nod toward Bloodborne, a game that might also be summarized as, "fight, blood, revive, repeat." However, it seems apparent that Code Vein has taken pains to distance itself from those comparisons. While there's certainly some gothic inspiration in the art design, it's tuned down in favor of a more jagged, ruinous apocalypse. The characters also retain their anime-inspired designs, a feature that extends into the animated opening created by studio ufotable. Not only that, but the soundtrack as showcased in the trailers to date seems to be a mixture of operatic Final Fantasy and dark rock. The previous trailer offered up a sweepingly orchestrated score, which stands in stark contrast with the latest soundscape. The newest trailer features the opening theme of Code Vein, the track 'Underworld' by a band called Vamps. Code Vein is set to release sometime in 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and PC.
  19. Code Vein has been on our radar since its mysterious tease and subsequent reveal. If there were any doubts about the inspiration Bandai Namco took from From Software's Bloodborne, there can't be much more after seeing the latest trailer. "We fight, we drink blood, revive, and then fight some more. Our lives are pretty much one endless loop." This quote from the trailer refers to the vampyric apocalypse the main characters find themselves struggling against. However, it also sums up the mechanics of Code Vein, which thrusts players into the role of a newly turned vampire who must fight and drink blood in order to retain sanity in a world wrecked by a mysterious cataclysm. The quote could also be interpreted to mean a nod toward Bloodborne, a game that might also be summarized as, "fight, blood, revive, repeat." However, it seems apparent that Code Vein has taken pains to distance itself from those comparisons. While there's certainly some gothic inspiration in the art design, it's tuned down in favor of a more jagged, ruinous apocalypse. The characters also retain their anime-inspired designs, a feature that extends into the animated opening created by studio ufotable. Not only that, but the soundtrack as showcased in the trailers to date seems to be a mixture of operatic Final Fantasy and dark rock. The previous trailer offered up a sweepingly orchestrated score, which stands in stark contrast with the latest soundscape. The newest trailer features the opening theme of Code Vein, the track 'Underworld' by a band called Vamps. Code Vein is set to release sometime in 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and PC. View full article
  20. Part Devil May Cry, part Ninja Gaiden, part Final Fantasy XV, and part something new entirely, Lost Soul Aside has been on the indie radar since mid-2016 when a trailer surfaced showcasing its combat, world, and hints of its story. The original trailer has since been viewed over three million times, bringing a great deal of attention to solo indie game dev Yang Bing. The Shanghai-based developer set up a studio called Ultizero Games and crafted the entire thing (at least up until that point) solo, with relatively little input from others. A site was launched that offered more tantalizing glimpses of what Lost Soul Aside might hold for players, though not much in terms of what the game might actually be about. The only hint of the tale that the game hopes to tell reads as follows: The war ended ten years ago, the unknown monsters then appeared, Kazer accidently [sic] got combined with an ancient race Arena, Then they got on the journey to seek for the mysterious crystals with their own purposes. "This is not for saving the world, just for saving myself." Lost Soul Aside appears to be an open world action game starring a war veteran who has inadvertently become fused with a strange creature that gives him the ability to fly, project energy from his sword, and access to a wide variety of combos and attacks. The action feels very reminiscent of the combo systems seen in Devil May Cry and the modern incarnation of Ninja Gaiden, which Yang Bing has said served as a big point of inspiration. The art style and openness of the environments has garnered comparisons to Final Fantasy XV. The world itself spans across vast locations set on floating islands. Some locations are temperate fields full of flowers, others are parched deserts or ruined structures. Since the initial reveal, Lost Soul Aside has been relatively silent. Yang Bing kept his head down working steadily on Lost Soul Aside all the way up to PSX 2017. On the 9th, he released a short teaser for a demo that would appear at PSX. The trailer shows off a short gameplay segment that people at the show would be able to play, including a face-off against a massive creature with blue energy swords. There's still no release date or even platforms announced (though it is pretty safe to assume it will come to PC). However, the demo has people talking. Sources from the show have reported people lining up for a chance to play Lost Soul Aside and those who have had a chance to play say that it's a fun, responsive indie game well worth keeping an eye on. What do you think of Lost Soul Aside? View full article
  21. Part Devil May Cry, part Ninja Gaiden, part Final Fantasy XV, and part something new entirely, Lost Soul Aside has been on the indie radar since mid-2016 when a trailer surfaced showcasing its combat, world, and hints of its story. The original trailer has since been viewed over three million times, bringing a great deal of attention to solo indie game dev Yang Bing. The Shanghai-based developer set up a studio called Ultizero Games and crafted the entire thing (at least up until that point) solo, with relatively little input from others. A site was launched that offered more tantalizing glimpses of what Lost Soul Aside might hold for players, though not much in terms of what the game might actually be about. The only hint of the tale that the game hopes to tell reads as follows: The war ended ten years ago, the unknown monsters then appeared, Kazer accidently [sic] got combined with an ancient race Arena, Then they got on the journey to seek for the mysterious crystals with their own purposes. "This is not for saving the world, just for saving myself." Lost Soul Aside appears to be an open world action game starring a war veteran who has inadvertently become fused with a strange creature that gives him the ability to fly, project energy from his sword, and access to a wide variety of combos and attacks. The action feels very reminiscent of the combo systems seen in Devil May Cry and the modern incarnation of Ninja Gaiden, which Yang Bing has said served as a big point of inspiration. The art style and openness of the environments has garnered comparisons to Final Fantasy XV. The world itself spans across vast locations set on floating islands. Some locations are temperate fields full of flowers, others are parched deserts or ruined structures. Since the initial reveal, Lost Soul Aside has been relatively silent. Yang Bing kept his head down working steadily on Lost Soul Aside all the way up to PSX 2017. On the 9th, he released a short teaser for a demo that would appear at PSX. The trailer shows off a short gameplay segment that people at the show would be able to play, including a face-off against a massive creature with blue energy swords. There's still no release date or even platforms announced (though it is pretty safe to assume it will come to PC). However, the demo has people talking. Sources from the show have reported people lining up for a chance to play Lost Soul Aside and those who have had a chance to play say that it's a fun, responsive indie game well worth keeping an eye on. What do you think of Lost Soul Aside?
  22. I have some words for you: Motor. Cycle. Wheel. Saws. If a combination of those words caught your attention, keep an eye on the upcoming Steel Rats. The 2.5D action arcade title combines motorized combat with stunts to create retro-futuristic destruction gameplay. Motorcycles operate based on the physics of Steel Rats with customization options. Players will pilot their battle-hardened racer on sketchy streets, over near-future rooftops, and through grungy tunnels. You might be asking yourself at this point, "What exactly is a Street Rat?" The Street Rats are a punk biker gang who rule the streets of Coastal City. You might think that makes them a threat to law and order, but quite the contrary. The Street Rats are the last remaining line of defense for a city under constant siege by an oncoming army of junkbots bent on its destruction. Players can choose their own characters, unlock special moves and bikes, and fight across the near armaggeddon cityscape of their once sacred turf. The soundtrack of Steel Rats is being created by the Japanese rock trio The 5.6.7.8's who are known for their song "Woo Hoo" featured in Kill Bill: Volume 1. “Steel Rats is set in an atmospheric, stylized, retro-future version of 40s and 50s Americana,” says Jacek Gburczyk, art director on the project, “we’ve taken everything we love from America in that time period and mixed it up with our favorite parts of dieselpunk and steampunk influences to create something that has a wholly original feel and character.” A new CGI trailer released today conveys the essence of what developer Tate Multimedia envisions for their project. Steel Rats comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.
  23. I have some words for you: Motor. Cycle. Wheel. Saws. If a combination of those words caught your attention, keep an eye on the upcoming Steel Rats. The 2.5D action arcade title combines motorized combat with stunts to create retro-futuristic destruction gameplay. Motorcycles operate based on the physics of Steel Rats with customization options. Players will pilot their battle-hardened racer on sketchy streets, over near-future rooftops, and through grungy tunnels. You might be asking yourself at this point, "What exactly is a Street Rat?" The Street Rats are a punk biker gang who rule the streets of Coastal City. You might think that makes them a threat to law and order, but quite the contrary. The Street Rats are the last remaining line of defense for a city under constant siege by an oncoming army of junkbots bent on its destruction. Players can choose their own characters, unlock special moves and bikes, and fight across the near armaggeddon cityscape of their once sacred turf. The soundtrack of Steel Rats is being created by the Japanese rock trio The 5.6.7.8's who are known for their song "Woo Hoo" featured in Kill Bill: Volume 1. “Steel Rats is set in an atmospheric, stylized, retro-future version of 40s and 50s Americana,” says Jacek Gburczyk, art director on the project, “we’ve taken everything we love from America in that time period and mixed it up with our favorite parts of dieselpunk and steampunk influences to create something that has a wholly original feel and character.” A new CGI trailer released today conveys the essence of what developer Tate Multimedia envisions for their project. Steel Rats comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018. View full article
  24. Twin-stick shooters have been gaining more attention lately with a number of small releases like Full Mojo Rampage, Nex Machina, and Helldivers. The influx of indie titles has made the genre become more crowded in recent years. Solstice Chronicles: MIA aims to differentiate itself from the pack, but only comes up with concepts that have been done better elsewhere or half-baked ideas that barely function. Solstice Chronicles: MIA’s most glaring problem comes down to a severe lack of polish. It feels like an unfinished build of what might eventually have been an interesting game. Pretty much every kind of rough edge you can think of permeates the experience. Typos abound in the text prompts. Glitches rear their ugly heads at inopportune times, occasionally completely blocking all progress. It runs sluggishly. The story seems to be missing key parts that would help string it together; dialogue, transitions between scenes, etc. All of that simply leads to a frustrating, jagged mess, which could be forgiven if the gameplay itself was satisfying. Unfortunately, the lack of polish results in the complete disruption of any sense of pacing the various levels might potentially possess. Despite having a system that controls the spawn rate of alien enemies, there never seems to be consistency to it. Some levels begin mid swarm. Others go long stretches at the max alien spawn level without releasing much of anything. Often, the best solution to reach the end of a level is by ignoring enemies altogether and sprinting for the end, fighting only when the game boxes you into a corner to wait for an elevator or a door. During those hold your ground sequences, Solstice Chronicles: MIA manages to have a pulse of life. The developers sometimes provide various tactical defenses like turrets or barricades or napalm bombs, all of which can be placed strategically to help ward off oncoming waves of aliens. Due to the pacing of the game being completely off, you will not often have the breathing room necessary to place those pieces of equipment. Also, for some reason the game seems to think lights are a good defensive item? If you’re given a choice between an automated turret and a set of lights, why on earth would you pick the lights? Also, sometimes doors don’t open or get stuck, leaving you to battle monsters for eternity or until you turn the game off. The story, such as it is, functions. Players take on the role of a space marine left for dead at a remote outpost struggling to find his way back to civilization as a mutating plague infects a nearby colony. He encounters an autonomous drone with some attitude and the two make an uneasy alliance to get them back home and stop the virus. It’s a tired premise, but the dialogue occasionally manages to earn a chuckle. The whole thing ends on a somewhat baffling cliffhanger. We experience this story through a number of cutscenes that often unceremoniously dump the player into the next stage with little to no transition or set-up. As much as I don’t usually point fingers at the graphical quality of a game, Solstice Chronicles: MIA really needed more polish on that front. Most of the locations look or feel the same. If you’ve played a generic sci-fi action game before, you know what this looks like already. A climactic boss encounter occurs late in the game against a giant sand worm while the player clings to a moving train. This sand worm just clips through the surrounding terrain and the train itself. It’s not even uncommon to see similar graphical glitches in Solstice Chronicles, the worm just provides one of the most noteworthy examples. It took four hours to complete Solstice Chronicles: MIA. There are several difficulties, a survival mode, and the entire thing can be tackled with a friend, but only via local co-op. A truly dedicated player might be able to squeeze out twelve hours of gameplay, but most won't have any desire to stay within Solstice's world for that long. The game checks all the boxes of being a functional, if horribly messy, twin-stick shooter, but offers very little else. Some interesting ideas do appear within Solstice Chronicles: MIA. The main innovation takes the form of the drone. Players can use the drone to perform a number of different tasks to add variety during the hectic bullet shooting. The drone has the capability to scavenge, finding ammo, upgrades, and health while mid-combat, but it comes at the cost of attracting more enemies. As a counterbalance, the drone can taunt enemies, attracting more of them to the player's location while decreasing the overall spawn rate. It can also create a forcefield to give the player a bit of temporary breathing room. If things get a bit too overwhelming, players can have the drone detonate an AOE explosion that can be intense over a small area or cover a larger zone and do less damage. If, miraculously, Solstice Chronicles: MIA receives a sequel that has more time to be fully fleshed out, I’d love to see the drone’s unique functions expanded. Conclusion: When everything goes right and Solstice Chronicles: MIA manages to fire on all cylinders, there are glimmers of a much better game. that being said, I find it hard to recommend, especially at the full price of $20. If you’re really hurting for a local sci-fi co-op game, pick it up when it inevitably goes on sale. Similar games exist out there for lower prices and with more content, like the 2010 Valve title Alien Swarm, which offers a more refined experience, four player online co-op, and comes at the low cost of free. Steer clear of this one unless you truly can't get enough twin-stick shooting in your life. Solstice Chronicles: MIA was reviewed on PC and is now available. It has a release planned for PlayStation 4.
  25. Twin-stick shooters have been gaining more attention lately with a number of small releases like Full Mojo Rampage, Nex Machina, and Helldivers. The influx of indie titles has made the genre become more crowded in recent years. Solstice Chronicles: MIA aims to differentiate itself from the pack, but only comes up with concepts that have been done better elsewhere or half-baked ideas that barely function. Solstice Chronicles: MIA’s most glaring problem comes down to a severe lack of polish. It feels like an unfinished build of what might eventually have been an interesting game. Pretty much every kind of rough edge you can think of permeates the experience. Typos abound in the text prompts. Glitches rear their ugly heads at inopportune times, occasionally completely blocking all progress. It runs sluggishly. The story seems to be missing key parts that would help string it together; dialogue, transitions between scenes, etc. All of that simply leads to a frustrating, jagged mess, which could be forgiven if the gameplay itself was satisfying. Unfortunately, the lack of polish results in the complete disruption of any sense of pacing the various levels might potentially possess. Despite having a system that controls the spawn rate of alien enemies, there never seems to be consistency to it. Some levels begin mid swarm. Others go long stretches at the max alien spawn level without releasing much of anything. Often, the best solution to reach the end of a level is by ignoring enemies altogether and sprinting for the end, fighting only when the game boxes you into a corner to wait for an elevator or a door. During those hold your ground sequences, Solstice Chronicles: MIA manages to have a pulse of life. The developers sometimes provide various tactical defenses like turrets or barricades or napalm bombs, all of which can be placed strategically to help ward off oncoming waves of aliens. Due to the pacing of the game being completely off, you will not often have the breathing room necessary to place those pieces of equipment. Also, for some reason the game seems to think lights are a good defensive item? If you’re given a choice between an automated turret and a set of lights, why on earth would you pick the lights? Also, sometimes doors don’t open or get stuck, leaving you to battle monsters for eternity or until you turn the game off. The story, such as it is, functions. Players take on the role of a space marine left for dead at a remote outpost struggling to find his way back to civilization as a mutating plague infects a nearby colony. He encounters an autonomous drone with some attitude and the two make an uneasy alliance to get them back home and stop the virus. It’s a tired premise, but the dialogue occasionally manages to earn a chuckle. The whole thing ends on a somewhat baffling cliffhanger. We experience this story through a number of cutscenes that often unceremoniously dump the player into the next stage with little to no transition or set-up. As much as I don’t usually point fingers at the graphical quality of a game, Solstice Chronicles: MIA really needed more polish on that front. Most of the locations look or feel the same. If you’ve played a generic sci-fi action game before, you know what this looks like already. A climactic boss encounter occurs late in the game against a giant sand worm while the player clings to a moving train. This sand worm just clips through the surrounding terrain and the train itself. It’s not even uncommon to see similar graphical glitches in Solstice Chronicles, the worm just provides one of the most noteworthy examples. It took four hours to complete Solstice Chronicles: MIA. There are several difficulties, a survival mode, and the entire thing can be tackled with a friend, but only via local co-op. A truly dedicated player might be able to squeeze out twelve hours of gameplay, but most won't have any desire to stay within Solstice's world for that long. The game checks all the boxes of being a functional, if horribly messy, twin-stick shooter, but offers very little else. Some interesting ideas do appear within Solstice Chronicles: MIA. The main innovation takes the form of the drone. Players can use the drone to perform a number of different tasks to add variety during the hectic bullet shooting. The drone has the capability to scavenge, finding ammo, upgrades, and health while mid-combat, but it comes at the cost of attracting more enemies. As a counterbalance, the drone can taunt enemies, attracting more of them to the player's location while decreasing the overall spawn rate. It can also create a forcefield to give the player a bit of temporary breathing room. If things get a bit too overwhelming, players can have the drone detonate an AOE explosion that can be intense over a small area or cover a larger zone and do less damage. If, miraculously, Solstice Chronicles: MIA receives a sequel that has more time to be fully fleshed out, I’d love to see the drone’s unique functions expanded. Conclusion: When everything goes right and Solstice Chronicles: MIA manages to fire on all cylinders, there are glimmers of a much better game. that being said, I find it hard to recommend, especially at the full price of $20. If you’re really hurting for a local sci-fi co-op game, pick it up when it inevitably goes on sale. Similar games exist out there for lower prices and with more content, like the 2010 Valve title Alien Swarm, which offers a more refined experience, four player online co-op, and comes at the low cost of free. Steer clear of this one unless you truly can't get enough twin-stick shooting in your life. Solstice Chronicles: MIA was reviewed on PC and is now available. It has a release planned for PlayStation 4. View full article
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