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Found 22 results

  1. Take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of the 8-bit era with Odallus: The Dark Call, an action-platformer coming to Nintendo Switch. Odallus: The Dark Call tells the story of Haggis, an aged hero who embarks on a quest to save his son and avenge the destruction of his village. Battling demons, cultists, and eldritch beings, Haggis presses onward to spare his son from becoming a dark sacrifice. Brazilian developer JoyMasher masterminded both Odallus: The Dark Call and Oniken, which will also be receiving a Switch port. The company specializes in retro game development, with Odallus covering the Metroidvania action subgenre and Oniken representing JoyMasher's take on the old-school Ninja Gaiden. They also have a game currently in development called Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Super Contra or Metal Slug. Odallus: The Dark Call initially released in 2015 for PC, receiving mostly positive reviews for its heartfelt send up of the Castlevania of old. It includes classic 8-bit cutscenes, a large world full of secrets, and clever gameplay twists that might trick even the most veteran of players. Now, the adventures of Haggis are coming to Nintendo Switch in February as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this spring. Odallus: The Dark Call features eight levels that can be explored for more secrets when players have acquired more abilities. Levels are populated by over fifty different enemy types and offer chances to face off against colossal bosses. Players who stick through to the end will spend, at a minimum, eight hours completing the game, only to find a veteran difficulty awaiting them for added replayability. When it launches, Odallus: The Dark Call will be available digitally. However, Eastasiasoft will be offering a limited run physical edition of the game. These physical copies will work on all systems worldwide, but may have some limitations on their online features. The following will be offered physically: Odallus: The Dark Call (PS4) Oniken + Odallus Collection (PS4/Switch) Oniken + Odallus Collection: Limited Edition (Switch) Odallus: The Dark Call releases for Nintendo Switch on February 8 and will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during spring of this year. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of the 8-bit era with Odallus: The Dark Call, an action-platformer coming to Nintendo Switch. Odallus: The Dark Call tells the story of Haggis, an aged hero who embarks on a quest to save his son and avenge the destruction of his village. Battling demons, cultists, and eldritch beings, Haggis presses onward to spare his son from becoming a dark sacrifice. Brazilian developer JoyMasher masterminded both Odallus: The Dark Call and Oniken, which will also be receiving a Switch port. The company specializes in retro game development, with Odallus covering the Metroidvania action subgenre and Oniken representing JoyMasher's take on the old-school Ninja Gaiden. They also have a game currently in development called Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Super Contra or Metal Slug. Odallus: The Dark Call initially released in 2015 for PC, receiving mostly positive reviews for its heartfelt send up of the Castlevania of old. It includes classic 8-bit cutscenes, a large world full of secrets, and clever gameplay twists that might trick even the most veteran of players. Now, the adventures of Haggis are coming to Nintendo Switch in February as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this spring. Odallus: The Dark Call features eight levels that can be explored for more secrets when players have acquired more abilities. Levels are populated by over fifty different enemy types and offer chances to face off against colossal bosses. Players who stick through to the end will spend, at a minimum, eight hours completing the game, only to find a veteran difficulty awaiting them for added replayability. When it launches, Odallus: The Dark Call will be available digitally. However, Eastasiasoft will be offering a limited run physical edition of the game. These physical copies will work on all systems worldwide, but may have some limitations on their online features. The following will be offered physically: Odallus: The Dark Call (PS4) Oniken + Odallus Collection (PS4/Switch) Oniken + Odallus Collection: Limited Edition (Switch) Odallus: The Dark Call releases for Nintendo Switch on February 8 and will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during spring of this year. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. If you're one of the group of gamers who gets giddy at the thought of incredible special editions of usually digital games, chances are you've heard of Limited Run Games. The publisher has made a name for itself resurrecting old classics for a second chance at dazzling the world. This year alone, the company put out physical editions of Cosmic Star Heroine, PixelJunk Monsters 2, and even the infamous Night Trap for Nintendo Switch. Now, they're turning their attention to E3. What exactly the company will have in store isn't exactly known at this point. They've never done an E3 press conference before, so they're a bit of a wild card. There has been some speculation that they will be announcing a series of Xbox One physical releases. Another possibility could be that they're branching out with an in-house studio to make brand new games to release under their label. A third idea I've seen floated around is that they could be announcing a partnership with another indie studio or a collective of companies to create more physical releases for games that have previously only been available digitally. You'll be able to tune into the livestreamed Limited Run Games E3 conference on June 11th at 3pm EDT. You will be able to find the stream on the official Limited Run Twitch channel. Keep in mind that the stream could overlap a bit with Ubisoft's press conference, so plan accordingly. As with every E3, we'll be keeping you up to date on all the latest news coming out of the press conferences as the unfold next week, so don't sweat it if you can't watch them all live.
  4. If you're one of the group of gamers who gets giddy at the thought of incredible special editions of usually digital games, chances are you've heard of Limited Run Games. The publisher has made a name for itself resurrecting old classics for a second chance at dazzling the world. This year alone, the company put out physical editions of Cosmic Star Heroine, PixelJunk Monsters 2, and even the infamous Night Trap for Nintendo Switch. Now, they're turning their attention to E3. What exactly the company will have in store isn't exactly known at this point. They've never done an E3 press conference before, so they're a bit of a wild card. There has been some speculation that they will be announcing a series of Xbox One physical releases. Another possibility could be that they're branching out with an in-house studio to make brand new games to release under their label. A third idea I've seen floated around is that they could be announcing a partnership with another indie studio or a collective of companies to create more physical releases for games that have previously only been available digitally. You'll be able to tune into the livestreamed Limited Run Games E3 conference on June 11th at 3pm EDT. You will be able to find the stream on the official Limited Run Twitch channel. Keep in mind that the stream could overlap a bit with Ubisoft's press conference, so plan accordingly. As with every E3, we'll be keeping you up to date on all the latest news coming out of the press conferences as the unfold next week, so don't sweat it if you can't watch them all live. View full article
  5. Earlier this year, Wizards of the Coast launched the most ambitious addition to Dungeons and Dragons in years. The prolific game company introduced D&D Beyond back in March as a beta for hardcore players of the traditional tabletop role-playing game. The beta period came to an end at the beginning of September, launching to a positive reception. I've had a chance to play around with the materials and systems the past few weeks, and Beyond might just be the most useful, mainstream tool a modern D&D role-playing group could use. D&D Beyond takes on all of the tasks previously reserved for bulky books and easily misplaced character sheets. The streamlined approach means that any player can access a roster of their created characters online while also having access to the basic rules and systems needed to run a game of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons for free. Players who want any of the content contained within adventure modules, expansions, and supplements can purchase those on the digital marketplace for use online in D&D Beyond. That might seem a bit standard, however D&D Beyond offers a really intriguing idea: A two tiered subscription model. Anyone can use Beyond for free, but they will be limited to six characters on their account, the occasional ad will appear, and homebrew content from others cannot be added to a given campaign. The Hero tier for $2.99 per month allows for unlimited characters, no ads, and allows for all homebrew content. Most interestingly, the Master tier for $5.99 per month brings in all of the access of lower tiers, but also allows Dungeon Masters to share all of the purchased content they have with everyone in up to three campaigns. You can feasibly join a D&D Beyond campaign, create a character, and immediately have access to everything your DM will be using in the upcoming adventure - for free. That means, in theory, that a group could pitch in to collectively buy a book apiece and have collective access to the entire 5th edition library. This feature has been one that fans of the staple pen and paper RPG have been awaiting for a long, long time. There are numerous online tools that players have used to help in character creation, organize player-created expansions, and keep track of campaigns. D&D Beyond puts all of those tools into one place and offers that aforementioned game sharing ability. Nathan Stewart, the senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, stated in the announcement for D&D Beyond's beta phase that, "D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends. These tools represent a way forward for D&D, and we’re excited to get them into the hands of players." The ideal experience of D&D Beyond resides on PC. Going to the website with a full keyboard makes finding what you need and adjusting numbers on a character sheet a cinch. Currently Wizards of the Coast plans to bring the service to a dedicated app for tablets and smart phones. In the meantime, players can use the mobile version of the D&D Beyond website, which offers most of the same functionality as the desktop website. Accessibility stands as the main downside of the mobile version. Often it can take a few clunky finger taps to navigate to the page you need. Weighed against the previous state of the game, where it could take someone several minutes of page turning through rule books and modules, the mobile site offers a vast improvement. The mobile app represents an opportunity for Wizards of the Coast and their development partners at Curse to refine the Beyond experience into a finely tuned collection of role-playing tools. As it stands, one of the main strengths of the Beyond platform is how easy and readily understandable it makes creating a character for even the most uninitiated. It automatically handles the heavy lifting of putting values and adding bonuses derived from the player's choice of creature and class for their character. The only hitch in the character creation process might be when it comes to figuring out starting equipment. That process seems to be complicated for beginners and possibly frustrating the first few times through for those more accustomed to pen and paper. However, there are options to create randomized characters or characters at level 1 that's properly geared for their class. Players who want to create new content in D&D Beyond are free to do so. Want to create a new spell, item, or monster? There are ways to do that and share them with your fellow adventurers. Those creations do have to adhere to some guidelines that prohibit the use of licensed content in homebrew additions. You can't make an item that gives out someone's personal information, contains hate speech in the description, or is very obviously from another IP like directly inserting The One Ring from Lord of the Rings. Wizards of the Coast also prohibits players from adding content that builds off of other races or creatures mentioned in the already established lore of their worlds. Overall, D&D Beyond might have a couple flaws or kinks in the system, but it's an incredibly solid foundation that Wizards of the Coast will most definitely be refining over the coming years. It's a great way to ensure players keep coming back to get hooked on new modules and expansions. Sure, you might have played through a whole campaign as a skilled human swordsman, but what would your adventures be like if you had created a Tortle barbarian? Beyond makes it easy to experiment with new characters and discover new adventures. Oh, and that Tortle race that can be used in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition? It was created as a supplement to the Tomb of Annihilation adventure to raise money for Extra Life! All proceeds from the sale of The Tortle Package go to Extra Life - so, if you're looking for a D&D one-shot to run on Game Day, think about grabbing a few friends, hopping on D&D Beyond, and crafting your own adventure in the isolated Snout of Omgar.
  6. Earlier this year, Wizards of the Coast launched the most ambitious addition to Dungeons and Dragons in years. The prolific game company introduced D&D Beyond back in March as a beta for hardcore players of the traditional tabletop role-playing game. The beta period came to an end at the beginning of September, launching to a positive reception. I've had a chance to play around with the materials and systems the past few weeks, and Beyond might just be the most useful, mainstream tool a modern D&D role-playing group could use. D&D Beyond takes on all of the tasks previously reserved for bulky books and easily misplaced character sheets. The streamlined approach means that any player can access a roster of their created characters online while also having access to the basic rules and systems needed to run a game of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons for free. Players who want any of the content contained within adventure modules, expansions, and supplements can purchase those on the digital marketplace for use online in D&D Beyond. That might seem a bit standard, however D&D Beyond offers a really intriguing idea: A two tiered subscription model. Anyone can use Beyond for free, but they will be limited to six characters on their account, the occasional ad will appear, and homebrew content from others cannot be added to a given campaign. The Hero tier for $2.99 per month allows for unlimited characters, no ads, and allows for all homebrew content. Most interestingly, the Master tier for $5.99 per month brings in all of the access of lower tiers, but also allows Dungeon Masters to share all of the purchased content they have with everyone in up to three campaigns. You can feasibly join a D&D Beyond campaign, create a character, and immediately have access to everything your DM will be using in the upcoming adventure - for free. That means, in theory, that a group could pitch in to collectively buy a book apiece and have collective access to the entire 5th edition library. This feature has been one that fans of the staple pen and paper RPG have been awaiting for a long, long time. There are numerous online tools that players have used to help in character creation, organize player-created expansions, and keep track of campaigns. D&D Beyond puts all of those tools into one place and offers that aforementioned game sharing ability. Nathan Stewart, the senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, stated in the announcement for D&D Beyond's beta phase that, "D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends. These tools represent a way forward for D&D, and we’re excited to get them into the hands of players." The ideal experience of D&D Beyond resides on PC. Going to the website with a full keyboard makes finding what you need and adjusting numbers on a character sheet a cinch. Currently Wizards of the Coast plans to bring the service to a dedicated app for tablets and smart phones. In the meantime, players can use the mobile version of the D&D Beyond website, which offers most of the same functionality as the desktop website. Accessibility stands as the main downside of the mobile version. Often it can take a few clunky finger taps to navigate to the page you need. Weighed against the previous state of the game, where it could take someone several minutes of page turning through rule books and modules, the mobile site offers a vast improvement. The mobile app represents an opportunity for Wizards of the Coast and their development partners at Curse to refine the Beyond experience into a finely tuned collection of role-playing tools. As it stands, one of the main strengths of the Beyond platform is how easy and readily understandable it makes creating a character for even the most uninitiated. It automatically handles the heavy lifting of putting values and adding bonuses derived from the player's choice of creature and class for their character. The only hitch in the character creation process might be when it comes to figuring out starting equipment. That process seems to be complicated for beginners and possibly frustrating the first few times through for those more accustomed to pen and paper. However, there are options to create randomized characters or characters at level 1 that's properly geared for their class. Players who want to create new content in D&D Beyond are free to do so. Want to create a new spell, item, or monster? There are ways to do that and share them with your fellow adventurers. Those creations do have to adhere to some guidelines that prohibit the use of licensed content in homebrew additions. You can't make an item that gives out someone's personal information, contains hate speech in the description, or is very obviously from another IP like directly inserting The One Ring from Lord of the Rings. Wizards of the Coast also prohibits players from adding content that builds off of other races or creatures mentioned in the already established lore of their worlds. Overall, D&D Beyond might have a couple flaws or kinks in the system, but it's an incredibly solid foundation that Wizards of the Coast will most definitely be refining over the coming years. It's a great way to ensure players keep coming back to get hooked on new modules and expansions. Sure, you might have played through a whole campaign as a skilled human swordsman, but what would your adventures be like if you had created a Tortle barbarian? Beyond makes it easy to experiment with new characters and discover new adventures. Oh, and that Tortle race that can be used in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition? It was created as a supplement to the Tomb of Annihilation adventure to raise money for Extra Life! All proceeds from the sale of The Tortle Package go to Extra Life - so, if you're looking for a D&D one-shot to run on Game Day, think about grabbing a few friends, hopping on D&D Beyond, and crafting your own adventure in the isolated Snout of Omgar. View full article
  7. The Jak and Daxter Collection released back in 2012. That collection remastered Naughty Dog's original PlayStation 2 trilogy in 720p and 60fps for the PlayStation 3. Now, fans of the action-adventure duo will be able to play Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II, Jak 3, and, as a new addition, Jak X: Combat Racing once again on the PlayStation 4.Instead of releasing as a physical or digital collection, gamers can now purchase each game individually via PSN. The series comes with a number of upgrades over previous releases. Each PS2 title will support 1080p upscaling at 60fps with trophy support. Jax X will have a new splitscreen mode, but support none of the online features. Shareplay and Remote Play will also be available. For those who haven't purchased the PS3 collection, the option to snag Jak and Daxter on PS4 is a pretty good deal. For those who already have the PS3 collection, the ability to grab just Jak X: Combat Racing eliminates needlessly having duplicates of games. No concrete release date has been revealed, though the updated PS2 classics are expected to release later this year.
  8. The Jak and Daxter Collection released back in 2012. That collection remastered Naughty Dog's original PlayStation 2 trilogy in 720p and 60fps for the PlayStation 3. Now, fans of the action-adventure duo will be able to play Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II, Jak 3, and, as a new addition, Jak X: Combat Racing once again on the PlayStation 4.Instead of releasing as a physical or digital collection, gamers can now purchase each game individually via PSN. The series comes with a number of upgrades over previous releases. Each PS2 title will support 1080p upscaling at 60fps with trophy support. Jax X will have a new splitscreen mode, but support none of the online features. Shareplay and Remote Play will also be available. For those who haven't purchased the PS3 collection, the option to snag Jak and Daxter on PS4 is a pretty good deal. For those who already have the PS3 collection, the ability to grab just Jak X: Combat Racing eliminates needlessly having duplicates of games. No concrete release date has been revealed, though the updated PS2 classics are expected to release later this year. View full article
  9. Outlast 2 may have been been delayed until 2017, but players can at least get their hands on a small bit of the game this month. Red Barrels, the developer behind the psychotic horror game Outlast and its upcoming sequel, has released a demo that provides the public with a free slice of gameplay from Outlast 2. The demo is available digitally via Steam (PC), Xbox Live (Xbox One), and PSN (PS4). However, it will only be available for a limited time. Red Barrels will be pulling the demo from digital storefronts on November 1, so download it before then if you want to scare yourself silly. We were pretty impressed with Outlast 2's E3 showing earlier this year, with writer Alissa Gould calling what she saw "terrifyingly fantastic." Though it is a shame the title won't be releasing this year, a horror demo around Halloween might just be the perfect consolation to help us - outlast - the delay.
  10. Outlast 2 may have been been delayed until 2017, but players can at least get their hands on a small bit of the game this month. Red Barrels, the developer behind the psychotic horror game Outlast and its upcoming sequel, has released a demo that provides the public with a free slice of gameplay from Outlast 2. The demo is available digitally via Steam (PC), Xbox Live (Xbox One), and PSN (PS4). However, it will only be available for a limited time. Red Barrels will be pulling the demo from digital storefronts on November 1, so download it before then if you want to scare yourself silly. We were pretty impressed with Outlast 2's E3 showing earlier this year, with writer Alissa Gould calling what she saw "terrifyingly fantastic." Though it is a shame the title won't be releasing this year, a horror demo around Halloween might just be the perfect consolation to help us - outlast - the delay. View full article
  11. What was old is new again. Nintendo has announced plans to release a miniature collector's edition Nintendo Entertainment System this holiday season. Set to launch on November 11, the NES Classic Edition is a compact machine for the digital age. The device retails for $60 and relies on a pre-installed digital library rather than cartridges. No more blowing into cart slots and praying to the deities of electronics. The NES Classic Edition comes packaged with 30 titles from the NES library, one NES Classic controller, an HDMI cable, and an AC adapter. If players want to experience retro co-op in the titles of the digital library, they will have to spend an additional $10 on a second NES Classic controller. “We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and COO. “The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers.” Each title included with the mini NES comes with the ability to suspend play and resume later without losing progress, a welcome feature for those who didn't grow up with the NES to be sure. The complete roster of titles included in the NES Classic Edition is listed below: Balloon Fight Bubble Bobble Castlevania Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Donkey Kong Donkey Kong Jr. Double Dragon II: The Revenge Dr. Mario Excitebike Final Fantasy Galaga™ Ghosts ’N Goblins Gradius Ice Climber Kid Icarus Kirby’s Adventure Mario Bros. Mega Man 2 Metroid Ninja Gaiden Pac-Man Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream StarTropics Super C Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros. 2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Tecmo Bowl The Legend of Zelda Zelda II: The Adventure of Link As a nice compatibility bonus, the NES Classic controller can be connected to the Wii Remote and used to play Virtual Console titles, too. Is the NES Classic Edition worth the price as a machine or a collectible? Is it enough to bring that nostalgia washing back? What do you think?
  12. What was old is new again. Nintendo has announced plans to release a miniature collector's edition Nintendo Entertainment System this holiday season. Set to launch on November 11, the NES Classic Edition is a compact machine for the digital age. The device retails for $60 and relies on a pre-installed digital library rather than cartridges. No more blowing into cart slots and praying to the deities of electronics. The NES Classic Edition comes packaged with 30 titles from the NES library, one NES Classic controller, an HDMI cable, and an AC adapter. If players want to experience retro co-op in the titles of the digital library, they will have to spend an additional $10 on a second NES Classic controller. “We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and COO. “The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers.” Each title included with the mini NES comes with the ability to suspend play and resume later without losing progress, a welcome feature for those who didn't grow up with the NES to be sure. The complete roster of titles included in the NES Classic Edition is listed below: Balloon Fight Bubble Bobble Castlevania Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Donkey Kong Donkey Kong Jr. Double Dragon II: The Revenge Dr. Mario Excitebike Final Fantasy Galaga™ Ghosts ’N Goblins Gradius Ice Climber Kid Icarus Kirby’s Adventure Mario Bros. Mega Man 2 Metroid Ninja Gaiden Pac-Man Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream StarTropics Super C Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros. 2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Tecmo Bowl The Legend of Zelda Zelda II: The Adventure of Link As a nice compatibility bonus, the NES Classic controller can be connected to the Wii Remote and used to play Virtual Console titles, too. Is the NES Classic Edition worth the price as a machine or a collectible? Is it enough to bring that nostalgia washing back? What do you think? View full article
  13. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Tharsis

    In one of the developer diaries, Zach Gage, the system designer at Choice Provisions, talks about the decision to make die rolls the foremost mechanic in Tharsis. In that particular video, Gage states that he wanted to make a game where, “the dice are the arbiter of [the player’s] life.” To Choice Provisions’ credit, Tharsis accomplishes exactly that. Tharsis puts players in control of the first manned mission to Mars. The astronauts under the player’s command were sent to investigate a mysterious signal coming from the Tharsis region of the red planet. However, mere weeks from their destination, the crew of the Iktomi meet disaster. Their vessel rockets through a field of micro-meteoroids, destroying their food supply and killing two crew members. The game tasks players to lead the surviving astronauts to Mars while facing down the dangers posed by the damage done to the ship and the dwindling scraps of food that remain on board. On top of that, every playthrough is randomized, leading to completely different experiences with every attempt to reach Tharsis. It’s a catchy premise and one which certainly caught my initial interest. However, the way in which Choice Provisions executed on that premise leaves something to be desired. Imagine you are playing slots at a casino. You are pulling the lever, watching the results mix around on the machine, sometimes winning, more often losing. Along comes the owner of the casino with an offer: You can participate in the grand slot game of the night! In order to win, you have to successfully combine the right slot results over the course of ten rounds. Each round, the required slot results change at random while the casino reduces the number of slot machines you can use. I have basically just described Tharsis. You see, Tharsis revolves entirely on digital dice rolls. Every round represents another week in space and each astronaut can move to one module of the spacecraft and make rolls to perform tasks, fix broken systems, or use special abilities. However, each week new problems arise that will cause more damage to the ship, the health of the astronauts, or the number of dice available to the crew. These disasters can be fixed with dice rolls added together to hit a target number. If the ship runs out of health, it explodes. If a crew member loses their last remaining point of health, they croak. On top of that, the crew loses one die for every action taken. Juggling health, dice, and the structural integrity of the ship is a delicate act of probability weighing. One false move could mean almost instant death for the entire mission. Tharsis shines best during that balancing act. Unfortunately, much like in the earlier comparison to a casino game, Tharsis is heavily weighted against the player. Two to three new events happen each round and all of them are bad. Any attempt to repair the resulting malfunctions carries with it the risk of to freezing certain dice results so they can’t be rerolled, completely taking certain rolls out of play, or damaging the crew member working on the fix. Combine these stresses with an ever decreasing dice pool for each astronaut (barring some exceptionally lucky rolls in the right areas) and the frustrations become clearer. Choice Provisions attempts to alleviate those frustrations via a mechanic with which players can save and spend die rolls for certain boosts like additional die or ship repairs. These boosts revolve in groups of three and are generated at random. Sometimes they can be immensely helpful and other times they merely represent the hollow hope of survival. If the dice situation becomes extremely bad, players can resort to cannibalism to keep surviving crew members alive and rolling large dice pools. I dearly wish Tharsis had any amount of character development. Who are these astronauts? Why should I care about them? It sucks when a crewman dies, but it sucks because I don’t get their dice anymore, not because I care about them in any other respect. Cannibalizing these people should be horrible, but it instead feels like a very mechanical decision done for dice with little to no thought about the digital humans stuck in that situation. Having characters we can care about would only serve to deepen our investment in the game and the sense of importance each dice roll possesses. On the aesthetic front, Tharsis consists mainly of the Iktomi, close ups of the crew in their helpfully colored space suits, and some animatics. While the animatics are visually engaging, the ship and crew appear bland in comparison. The audio in Tharsis is slim, but serviceable. When it plays, the music draws you into the desperate atmosphere of the doomed ship. Meanwhile the voice acting effectively conveys emotion and mounting intensity as the crew approaches their destination. The small budget shows, but it does what it needs to regarding the visuals and audio. Conclusion: I can’t shake the feeling that there is something really great in Tharsis despite the amount of frustration it gave me. Perhaps with additional ways for players to save their good fortune for the harsh events and poor rolls that inevitably occur along with general rebalancing could save this game. The potential exists for Tharsis to create a more engaging, exciting experience with an expanded array of random events and character development. The core concept of the dice being the arbiters of life and death is a good one, but maybe one or two bad rolls shouldn’t be a death sentence. Tharsis would be a great hit as a co-op tabletop experience in the same vein as Pandemic. I can see a group of friends really enjoying themselves while taking a morbid trip to Mars, casting lots to see who should be cannibalized to give the others a shot at successfully completing the doomed journey. However, as a video game it feels almost hopelessly stacked against the player, leading to a frustrating time with none of the distractions or house rules that a group of friends can provide. I can’t in good conscience recommend it at the price of $15. Tharsis is available now on PC and PlayStation 4 View full article
  14. Jack Gardner

    Review: Tharsis

    In one of the developer diaries, Zach Gage, the system designer at Choice Provisions, talks about the decision to make die rolls the foremost mechanic in Tharsis. In that particular video, Gage states that he wanted to make a game where, “the dice are the arbiter of [the player’s] life.” To Choice Provisions’ credit, Tharsis accomplishes exactly that. Tharsis puts players in control of the first manned mission to Mars. The astronauts under the player’s command were sent to investigate a mysterious signal coming from the Tharsis region of the red planet. However, mere weeks from their destination, the crew of the Iktomi meet disaster. Their vessel rockets through a field of micro-meteoroids, destroying their food supply and killing two crew members. The game tasks players to lead the surviving astronauts to Mars while facing down the dangers posed by the damage done to the ship and the dwindling scraps of food that remain on board. On top of that, every playthrough is randomized, leading to completely different experiences with every attempt to reach Tharsis. It’s a catchy premise and one which certainly caught my initial interest. However, the way in which Choice Provisions executed on that premise leaves something to be desired. Imagine you are playing slots at a casino. You are pulling the lever, watching the results mix around on the machine, sometimes winning, more often losing. Along comes the owner of the casino with an offer: You can participate in the grand slot game of the night! In order to win, you have to successfully combine the right slot results over the course of ten rounds. Each round, the required slot results change at random while the casino reduces the number of slot machines you can use. I have basically just described Tharsis. You see, Tharsis revolves entirely on digital dice rolls. Every round represents another week in space and each astronaut can move to one module of the spacecraft and make rolls to perform tasks, fix broken systems, or use special abilities. However, each week new problems arise that will cause more damage to the ship, the health of the astronauts, or the number of dice available to the crew. These disasters can be fixed with dice rolls added together to hit a target number. If the ship runs out of health, it explodes. If a crew member loses their last remaining point of health, they croak. On top of that, the crew loses one die for every action taken. Juggling health, dice, and the structural integrity of the ship is a delicate act of probability weighing. One false move could mean almost instant death for the entire mission. Tharsis shines best during that balancing act. Unfortunately, much like in the earlier comparison to a casino game, Tharsis is heavily weighted against the player. Two to three new events happen each round and all of them are bad. Any attempt to repair the resulting malfunctions carries with it the risk of to freezing certain dice results so they can’t be rerolled, completely taking certain rolls out of play, or damaging the crew member working on the fix. Combine these stresses with an ever decreasing dice pool for each astronaut (barring some exceptionally lucky rolls in the right areas) and the frustrations become clearer. Choice Provisions attempts to alleviate those frustrations via a mechanic with which players can save and spend die rolls for certain boosts like additional die or ship repairs. These boosts revolve in groups of three and are generated at random. Sometimes they can be immensely helpful and other times they merely represent the hollow hope of survival. If the dice situation becomes extremely bad, players can resort to cannibalism to keep surviving crew members alive and rolling large dice pools. I dearly wish Tharsis had any amount of character development. Who are these astronauts? Why should I care about them? It sucks when a crewman dies, but it sucks because I don’t get their dice anymore, not because I care about them in any other respect. Cannibalizing these people should be horrible, but it instead feels like a very mechanical decision done for dice with little to no thought about the digital humans stuck in that situation. Having characters we can care about would only serve to deepen our investment in the game and the sense of importance each dice roll possesses. On the aesthetic front, Tharsis consists mainly of the Iktomi, close ups of the crew in their helpfully colored space suits, and some animatics. While the animatics are visually engaging, the ship and crew appear bland in comparison. The audio in Tharsis is slim, but serviceable. When it plays, the music draws you into the desperate atmosphere of the doomed ship. Meanwhile the voice acting effectively conveys emotion and mounting intensity as the crew approaches their destination. The small budget shows, but it does what it needs to regarding the visuals and audio. Conclusion: I can’t shake the feeling that there is something really great in Tharsis despite the amount of frustration it gave me. Perhaps with additional ways for players to save their good fortune for the harsh events and poor rolls that inevitably occur along with general rebalancing could save this game. The potential exists for Tharsis to create a more engaging, exciting experience with an expanded array of random events and character development. The core concept of the dice being the arbiters of life and death is a good one, but maybe one or two bad rolls shouldn’t be a death sentence. Tharsis would be a great hit as a co-op tabletop experience in the same vein as Pandemic. I can see a group of friends really enjoying themselves while taking a morbid trip to Mars, casting lots to see who should be cannibalized to give the others a shot at successfully completing the doomed journey. However, as a video game it feels almost hopelessly stacked against the player, leading to a frustrating time with none of the distractions or house rules that a group of friends can provide. I can’t in good conscience recommend it at the price of $15. Tharsis is available now on PC and PlayStation 4
  15. Beginning January 1, 2015, Disney's Marvel will become the new steward for Star Wars in its comic form. Dark Horse Comics will lose their right to distribute their 24 year digital backlog meaning that those digital issues will disappear, possibly forever. The good news? Dark Horse is sending off their era of Star Wars by offering 50% off the entire collection. For $300, consumers can own the past 24 years of Dark Horse Star Wars, valued at a little over $2,700. This includes everything about Knights of the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, Dawn of the Jedi, Dark Empire, and more. Sure, the stories contained in Dark Horse Comic's combined 28,353 pages might not be canon anymore, but the stories are still great (Dark Empire is a must read) and the artwork remains gorgeous.
  16. Beginning January 1, 2015, Disney's Marvel will become the new steward for Star Wars in its comic form. Dark Horse Comics will lose their right to distribute their 24 year digital backlog meaning that those digital issues will disappear, possibly forever. The good news? Dark Horse is sending off their era of Star Wars by offering 50% off the entire collection. For $300, consumers can own the past 24 years of Dark Horse Star Wars, valued at a little over $2,700. This includes everything about Knights of the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, Dawn of the Jedi, Dark Empire, and more. Sure, the stories contained in Dark Horse Comic's combined 28,353 pages might not be canon anymore, but the stories are still great (Dark Empire is a must read) and the artwork remains gorgeous. View full article
  17. OnLive and Samsung have announced a new partnership today that will offer Samsung Galaxy Note 4 users three months of cloud gaming for free. What does that mean for Galaxy Note 4 owners? Users will be able to download the OnLive Android app from the Samsung Galaxy App store and stream full-fledged PC and console games to their Note 4 anywhere they have access to Wi-Fi or a 4G connection. The package will grant customers access to over 250 games via OnLive's PlayPack titles. “The addition of the OnLive app to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 makes high-end games available that normally can’t be played on an Android tablet. We’re excited to give Samsung customers a taste of cloud gaming with the gift of 3 free months of unlimited gaming,” said Mark Jung, OnLive's executive chairman. The OnLive subscription isn't limited to the Galaxy Note 4, either. Users can play on their new Galaxy Note 4 or use almost any other device including tablets, computers and HDTVs that would normally lack the processing power to run PC or console games. OnLive is also offering a seven day free trial of OnLive CloudLift, which allows users to access and play PC games that they already own be means of OnLive’s cloud-streaming technology. It is a pretty cool offer and if you're in the market for a new smartphone this is certainly worth looking into. View full article
  18. OnLive and Samsung have announced a new partnership today that will offer Samsung Galaxy Note 4 users three months of cloud gaming for free. What does that mean for Galaxy Note 4 owners? Users will be able to download the OnLive Android app from the Samsung Galaxy App store and stream full-fledged PC and console games to their Note 4 anywhere they have access to Wi-Fi or a 4G connection. The package will grant customers access to over 250 games via OnLive's PlayPack titles. “The addition of the OnLive app to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 makes high-end games available that normally can’t be played on an Android tablet. We’re excited to give Samsung customers a taste of cloud gaming with the gift of 3 free months of unlimited gaming,” said Mark Jung, OnLive's executive chairman. The OnLive subscription isn't limited to the Galaxy Note 4, either. Users can play on their new Galaxy Note 4 or use almost any other device including tablets, computers and HDTVs that would normally lack the processing power to run PC or console games. OnLive is also offering a seven day free trial of OnLive CloudLift, which allows users to access and play PC games that they already own be means of OnLive’s cloud-streaming technology. It is a pretty cool offer and if you're in the market for a new smartphone this is certainly worth looking into.
  19. Following a successfully funded Kickstarter and a subsequent launch as an Early Access title through services like Steam, Habitat will be coming to PlayStation 4 owners as a downloadable title. Habitat tasks players with creating a new home for the residents of Earth as they flee the untenable remains of our homeworld. The only remaining solution is to piece together bits and pieces of debris that now orbit the planet. Players will lead a team of engineers as they manage the population and environment of their growing space station. On top of the day to day management of the station, players will need to protect it in the event of an attack by using whatever means are at their disposal including: missiles, lasers, and particle accelerators. “Since development began on Habitat, it has always been our wish to bring our space survival simulation to as many platforms as technologically possible,” said Charles Cox, founder of 4gency. “We are incredibly excited to announce that Habitat will be launching on PlayStation 4 in 2015 and can’t wait to see how the creative PlayStation community reacts to Habitat’s gameplay mechanics.” There is no solid release date for Habitat: A Thousand Generations in Orbit, other than the entire year of 2015. If you are set on checking it out in an unfinished state, Early Access is currently available on PC through Steam, Amazon, Humble Store, GameFly, Gamer's Gate, Green Man Gaming and Nuuvem for $14.99. I don't know about you, but I am very interested to see the final version of Habitat. Any game that lets you strap rockets to the robotic head of the Statue of Liberty and fly around in space is definitely worthwhile in my book. View full article
  20. Following a successfully funded Kickstarter and a subsequent launch as an Early Access title through services like Steam, Habitat will be coming to PlayStation 4 owners as a downloadable title. Habitat tasks players with creating a new home for the residents of Earth as they flee the untenable remains of our homeworld. The only remaining solution is to piece together bits and pieces of debris that now orbit the planet. Players will lead a team of engineers as they manage the population and environment of their growing space station. On top of the day to day management of the station, players will need to protect it in the event of an attack by using whatever means are at their disposal including: missiles, lasers, and particle accelerators. “Since development began on Habitat, it has always been our wish to bring our space survival simulation to as many platforms as technologically possible,” said Charles Cox, founder of 4gency. “We are incredibly excited to announce that Habitat will be launching on PlayStation 4 in 2015 and can’t wait to see how the creative PlayStation community reacts to Habitat’s gameplay mechanics.” There is no solid release date for Habitat: A Thousand Generations in Orbit, other than the entire year of 2015. If you are set on checking it out in an unfinished state, Early Access is currently available on PC through Steam, Amazon, Humble Store, GameFly, Gamer's Gate, Green Man Gaming and Nuuvem for $14.99. I don't know about you, but I am very interested to see the final version of Habitat. Any game that lets you strap rockets to the robotic head of the Statue of Liberty and fly around in space is definitely worthwhile in my book.
  21. Between now and February 2nd, 3DS and 2DS owners can visit the Nintendo eShop and download the classic adventure (with a few new features) for free. The original 2003 Game Boy Advanced version of Four Swords came packaged with A Link to the Past, but could only be played with other people who also had the game and with the appropriate connection cables. In the 3DS/2DS update, the multiplayer options are still intact, each player will need a copy of the game and their own handheld, but gamers now have the option to play solo, switching between two different Links in order to solve puzzles. Additionally, a new area called the Realm of Memories has been added after players conquer Four Swords. The Realm of Memories will give gamers the opportunity to revisit parts of older titles. Now watch this trailer from Four Swords Anniversary's 2011 release with Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda.
  22. Between now and February 2nd, 3DS and 2DS owners can visit the Nintendo eShop and download the classic adventure (with a few new features) for free. The original 2003 Game Boy Advanced version of Four Swords came packaged with A Link to the Past, but could only be played with other people who also had the game and with the appropriate connection cables. In the 3DS/2DS update, the multiplayer options are still intact, each player will need a copy of the game and their own handheld, but gamers now have the option to play solo, switching between two different Links in order to solve puzzles. Additionally, a new area called the Realm of Memories has been added after players conquer Four Swords. The Realm of Memories will give gamers the opportunity to revisit parts of older titles. Now watch this trailer from Four Swords Anniversary's 2011 release with Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda. View full article
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