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Found 154 results

  1. Take a journey with us back to the ye olden days of 2009 when the war between casual and hardcore gamers raged. While it would take many years for the conflict to settle to a low simmer, one game seemed to unite the two sides in harmony; a tower defense game with retro roots, a sunny disposition, and a quirky sense of humor. Plants vs. Zombies catapulted developer PopCap Games to indie stardom and became their fastest selling game to date, leveraging a position in the then-curated Steam store to appeal to the hardcore crowd and its inherent lightheartedness to bring in the more casually oriented gamers. Almost ten years later, should Plants vs. Zombies be 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: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'Fushigina Forest' by Laura Shigihara (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02329) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! 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!
  2. Take a journey with us back to the ye olden days of 2009 when the war between casual and hardcore gamers raged. While it would take many years for the conflict to settle to a low simmer, one game seemed to unite the two sides in harmony; a tower defense game with retro roots, a sunny disposition, and a quirky sense of humor. Plants vs. Zombies catapulted developer PopCap Games to indie stardom and became their fastest selling game to date, leveraging a position in the then-curated Steam store to appeal to the hardcore crowd and its inherent lightheartedness to bring in the more casually oriented gamers. Almost ten years later, should Plants vs. Zombies be 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: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'Fushigina Forest' by Laura Shigihara (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02329) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! 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
  3. Jack Gardner

    Super Cat Tales 2 Looks Fur-nomenal

    Neutronized might not be a huge name in the gaming industry, but they've been steadily working on quirky, interesting projects since 2010 from their Italy-based studio. In 2016, they released a cat-focused platformer called Super Cat Tales for iOS (or Super Cat Bros. on Android). Super Cat Tales drew heavily from the heyday of 90s platformers with many people drawing parallels between the mobile title and the high points of that generation like Super Mario World and Kirby's Dream Land 3. Professional reviews, like those from Touch Arcade, gave the game perfect scores with headlines like "Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow." Super Cat Tales was about Alex the cat on an adventure to reunite with his siblings. The sequel stars Alex and company taking on the evil Lord Iridium and his army of tin soldiers that have attacked Neko Land with a fleet of clockwork airships. The robotic forces of Lord Iridium seek a special metal hidden within the feline's planet and is rumored to be the power that holds the entire world together. Using the different powers and abilities of the various cats that join Alex in his fight, players must traverse the world and thwart Iridium's plans before the invasion destroys everything. Is it really any surprise that the bigger, richer sequel to a highly praised title would be even more impressive? The team at Neutronized have upped their game visually and the trailer really showcases that change. As players progress through an overworld filled with stages from various lands, they'll encounter a variety of new mechanics and situations. At one point, the trailer shows the grizzled cat Sergeant McMeow piloting a clockwork tank through a robotic factory. Overall, Super Cat Tales 2 just looks like a really good time, and you should keep an eye on it. Super Cat Tales 2 will release sometime in 2018 for iOS and Android.
  4. Neutronized might not be a huge name in the gaming industry, but they've been steadily working on quirky, interesting projects since 2010 from their Italy-based studio. In 2016, they released a cat-focused platformer called Super Cat Tales for iOS (or Super Cat Bros. on Android). Super Cat Tales drew heavily from the heyday of 90s platformers with many people drawing parallels between the mobile title and the high points of that generation like Super Mario World and Kirby's Dream Land 3. Professional reviews, like those from Touch Arcade, gave the game perfect scores with headlines like "Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow." Super Cat Tales was about Alex the cat on an adventure to reunite with his siblings. The sequel stars Alex and company taking on the evil Lord Iridium and his army of tin soldiers that have attacked Neko Land with a fleet of clockwork airships. The robotic forces of Lord Iridium seek a special metal hidden within the feline's planet and is rumored to be the power that holds the entire world together. Using the different powers and abilities of the various cats that join Alex in his fight, players must traverse the world and thwart Iridium's plans before the invasion destroys everything. Is it really any surprise that the bigger, richer sequel to a highly praised title would be even more impressive? The team at Neutronized have upped their game visually and the trailer really showcases that change. As players progress through an overworld filled with stages from various lands, they'll encounter a variety of new mechanics and situations. At one point, the trailer shows the grizzled cat Sergeant McMeow piloting a clockwork tank through a robotic factory. Overall, Super Cat Tales 2 just looks like a really good time, and you should keep an eye on it. Super Cat Tales 2 will release sometime in 2018 for iOS and Android. View full article
  5. Ninja Theory's epic descent into mythology and psychosis has made its way to Xbox One after having limited exclusivity on PlayStation 4. Players take on the role of the Pict warrior Senua as she journeys to a strange land filled with shadows, giants, and monsters to save the soul of a man named Dillon. It focuses on Senua's struggles with her curse, a chorus of voices that speak doubts and encouragement to her and sometimes directly to the player, too. Because of the game's heavy emphasis on Senua's curse, her struggles with psychosis and the social stigma associated with it, Ninja Theory worked heavily with mental health experts and facilities to better understand their hero. Through those learning experiences and encounters, the team was able to shape the game into something that resonated with many players. It also led the team to use the game as a platform to help dispel some of the stigma that still clings to mental health. To that end, Ninja Theory donated all profit from the sale of Hellblade on World Mental Health Day in 2017 to the organization Rethink Mental Illness. With the Xbox One release, Ninja Theory wants to continue that spirit of giving. If they can sell 50,000 copies of the game by April 18, they have pledged to donate $25,000 to Mental Health America. If they manage to hit 100,000 sales of Senua's Sacrifice, they will donate up to $50,000. So far, they've manage to sell roughly 12,000 copies. If you want a really unique game that tackles interesting subject matter in a thoughtful and mesmerizing way, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a great choice and could contribute to helping those who need mental healthcare. That's a pretty neat deal.
  6. Ninja Theory's epic descent into mythology and psychosis has made its way to Xbox One after having limited exclusivity on PlayStation 4. Players take on the role of the Pict warrior Senua as she journeys to a strange land filled with shadows, giants, and monsters to save the soul of a man named Dillon. It focuses on Senua's struggles with her curse, a chorus of voices that speak doubts and encouragement to her and sometimes directly to the player, too. Because of the game's heavy emphasis on Senua's curse, her struggles with psychosis and the social stigma associated with it, Ninja Theory worked heavily with mental health experts and facilities to better understand their hero. Through those learning experiences and encounters, the team was able to shape the game into something that resonated with many players. It also led the team to use the game as a platform to help dispel some of the stigma that still clings to mental health. To that end, Ninja Theory donated all profit from the sale of Hellblade on World Mental Health Day in 2017 to the organization Rethink Mental Illness. With the Xbox One release, Ninja Theory wants to continue that spirit of giving. If they can sell 50,000 copies of the game by April 18, they have pledged to donate $25,000 to Mental Health America. If they manage to hit 100,000 sales of Senua's Sacrifice, they will donate up to $50,000. So far, they've manage to sell roughly 12,000 copies. If you want a really unique game that tackles interesting subject matter in a thoughtful and mesmerizing way, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a great choice and could contribute to helping those who need mental healthcare. That's a pretty neat deal. View full article
  7. 3Mind Games might not be a developer many have heard of before now, but that could change in the near future. The studio has just announced their first game titled The Protagonist, a narrative-oriented RPG that offers turn-based tactics and divergent story paths in an original sci-fi universe. The team at 3Mind describes the gameplay as a mix between XCOM and Divinity: Original Sin. If that's not enough to get your attention, I don't know what will. The Protagonist stars a galactic special agent who operates under the codename ANGEL. The military force of Terra has come into conflict with the KL-T, a mysterious fleet of robotic ships and soldiers. On a mission to infiltrate and destroy a major space station claimed by the invading KL-T, ANGEL finds herself knocked unconscious and awakens in the space station's infirmary at the heart of the space station with no memory of what has happened. With the station in full lockdown and hostiles around every corner, players have to decide how to escape from the heart of this imposing enemy stronghold while piecing together what happened. Along the way, players can recruit allies who may or may not be loyal to ANGEL's mission. How you treat party members and other NPCs can either benefit you in the long run or hinder your progress or unlock new routes and opportunities. Those who aren't attentive during conversations could be in for some nasty surprises. The Protagonist uses a combat system called Martial Arts Combat System (MACS). This system allows players to customize their hand-to-hand combat abilities. The customization is intended to be so deep that players will be able to create new combos and then share them online with other players. 3Mind Games formed out of development veterans from major studios in the industry like EA and Ubisoft. They're hoping to capture the spirit of Mass Effect inside an indie game package that could roll over into a long-running series. The first trailer for The Protagonist shows ANGEL in action alongside her companion RADICAL, an explosives specialist. The Protagonist will release for PC sometime in 2019.
  8. 3Mind Games might not be a developer many have heard of before now, but that could change in the near future. The studio has just announced their first game titled The Protagonist, a narrative-oriented RPG that offers turn-based tactics and divergent story paths in an original sci-fi universe. The team at 3Mind describes the gameplay as a mix between XCOM and Divinity: Original Sin. If that's not enough to get your attention, I don't know what will. The Protagonist stars a galactic special agent who operates under the codename ANGEL. The military force of Terra has come into conflict with the KL-T, a mysterious fleet of robotic ships and soldiers. On a mission to infiltrate and destroy a major space station claimed by the invading KL-T, ANGEL finds herself knocked unconscious and awakens in the space station's infirmary at the heart of the space station with no memory of what has happened. With the station in full lockdown and hostiles around every corner, players have to decide how to escape from the heart of this imposing enemy stronghold while piecing together what happened. Along the way, players can recruit allies who may or may not be loyal to ANGEL's mission. How you treat party members and other NPCs can either benefit you in the long run or hinder your progress or unlock new routes and opportunities. Those who aren't attentive during conversations could be in for some nasty surprises. The Protagonist uses a combat system called Martial Arts Combat System (MACS). This system allows players to customize their hand-to-hand combat abilities. The customization is intended to be so deep that players will be able to create new combos and then share them online with other players. 3Mind Games formed out of development veterans from major studios in the industry like EA and Ubisoft. They're hoping to capture the spirit of Mass Effect inside an indie game package that could roll over into a long-running series. The first trailer for The Protagonist shows ANGEL in action alongside her companion RADICAL, an explosives specialist. The Protagonist will release for PC sometime in 2019. View full article
  9. You're on the run and every move counts. A shadow follows in your exact movements and pausing for too long to figure out a puzzle could prove deadly in the minimalist cat-and-mouse game Echoplex. Awarded Most Innovative Game and Best Art Direction at Lisboa Games Week IndieDome 2017, Echoplex offers players a set of 27 levels that weave their way through an FMV storyline full of mystery, intrigue, and horror. Since that showing last year, Output Games has revamped the user interface, added new puzzle mechanics, and tightened the gameplay. Echoplex puts players into the role of an engineer at the Clonochem Corporation manufacturing the strange and mysterious product Continuum. After calling a phone number he finds on a severed arm, he finds himself trapped in a simulation that continually loops and soon begins to fill with more versions of himself - until one of them begins to chase the original. That chase sits as the fundamental building block of Echoplex. Run over a switch that shuts a door? You might have to wait for the shadow following in your exact footsteps to trigger the switch again to move on. The founder and director at Output Games, Tyron van Vuuren had this to say about the unique FMV approach to storytelling: With Echoplex, we were looking for new ways to create a fully-realized world that carries emotional weight – something that only real actors can bring to a story. The game doesn’t come to a halt during cutscenes; instead, Echoplex allows players to get involved in the storytelling process – building their own interpretation of events as they piece things together. And although the cutscenes may look expensive, we had a very tight budget. Kudos to the visual effects team who worked hard to achieve those results. Echoplex is available beginning today for PC. View full article
  10. You're on the run and every move counts. A shadow follows in your exact movements and pausing for too long to figure out a puzzle could prove deadly in the minimalist cat-and-mouse game Echoplex. Awarded Most Innovative Game and Best Art Direction at Lisboa Games Week IndieDome 2017, Echoplex offers players a set of 27 levels that weave their way through an FMV storyline full of mystery, intrigue, and horror. Since that showing last year, Output Games has revamped the user interface, added new puzzle mechanics, and tightened the gameplay. Echoplex puts players into the role of an engineer at the Clonochem Corporation manufacturing the strange and mysterious product Continuum. After calling a phone number he finds on a severed arm, he finds himself trapped in a simulation that continually loops and soon begins to fill with more versions of himself - until one of them begins to chase the original. That chase sits as the fundamental building block of Echoplex. Run over a switch that shuts a door? You might have to wait for the shadow following in your exact footsteps to trigger the switch again to move on. The founder and director at Output Games, Tyron van Vuuren had this to say about the unique FMV approach to storytelling: With Echoplex, we were looking for new ways to create a fully-realized world that carries emotional weight – something that only real actors can bring to a story. The game doesn’t come to a halt during cutscenes; instead, Echoplex allows players to get involved in the storytelling process – building their own interpretation of events as they piece things together. And although the cutscenes may look expensive, we had a very tight budget. Kudos to the visual effects team who worked hard to achieve those results. Echoplex is available beginning today for PC.
  11. A Kickstarter that succeeded in 2015 will be paying off later this year when Shape of the World releases on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One - and now the Nintendo Switch, too. "I’m thrilled to officially announced that Shape of the World is coming to Nintendo Switch this year," said Hollow Tree Games' founder Stu Maxwell, "nobody on the team expected the game to look so nice on the Switch, we’re really happy with it… We can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks." Maxwell also works as a senior VFX artist at The Coalition, the studio behind Gears of War 4. Part first-person exploration and part surreal art piece, Shape of the World places players in a technicolor world filled with psychedelic flora and fauna. That world expands and grows as players progress through it. Waterfalls, mountains, mysterious monoliths, and more procedurally sprout from the surrounding terrain, making each foray into the world. Shape of the World is intended as a relaxing, stress-free experience. There won't be any enemies or challenges beyond the thrill of evergreen exploration. Players can interact with animals, plants, and the various ruins that dot the world to uncover its secrets. Hollow Tree Games has also included a soundtrack that follows progress through the procedurally generated world. Shape of the World will launch on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One in the next few months. View full article
  12. A Kickstarter that succeeded in 2015 will be paying off later this year when Shape of the World releases on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One - and now the Nintendo Switch, too. "I’m thrilled to officially announced that Shape of the World is coming to Nintendo Switch this year," said Hollow Tree Games' founder Stu Maxwell, "nobody on the team expected the game to look so nice on the Switch, we’re really happy with it… We can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks." Maxwell also works as a senior VFX artist at The Coalition, the studio behind Gears of War 4. Part first-person exploration and part surreal art piece, Shape of the World places players in a technicolor world filled with psychedelic flora and fauna. That world expands and grows as players progress through it. Waterfalls, mountains, mysterious monoliths, and more procedurally sprout from the surrounding terrain, making each foray into the world. Shape of the World is intended as a relaxing, stress-free experience. There won't be any enemies or challenges beyond the thrill of evergreen exploration. Players can interact with animals, plants, and the various ruins that dot the world to uncover its secrets. Hollow Tree Games has also included a soundtrack that follows progress through the procedurally generated world. Shape of the World will launch on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One in the next few months.
  13. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Into the Breach

    Subset Games really knows how to design a solid game. FTL: Faster Than Light demonstrated that the team possesses the chops to create a game capable of sucking people in for dozens of hours with engaging strategy that often asks players to make tough decisions. Those tough decisions, the kind upon which hang life or death, form the central thesis of Into the Breach. Into the Breach takes place in a far flung future where Earth has flooded, reducing its landmass down to a handful of islands and unleashing the Vek, a collection of horrific kaiju from deep underground. Humanity created fleets of giant robots capable of fighting the Vek to defend the last cities on the planet, but it doesn't seem to be enough. Overwhelmed and on the brink of total annihilation, one last, desperate plan was conceived: Send one experienced mech pilot back through time armed with the knowledge to prevent humanity's doom and win the war against the Vek. The scenario, penned by Chris Avellone, the creative mind behind Baldur's Gate and Fallout: New Vegas, sets the stage for the roguelike elements of Into the Breach. When players manage to defeat the Vek, they are able to send a pilot of their choice to another timeline to continue the fight. Death, on the other hand, results in the last pilot to die engaging an emergency jump to a different timeline. That pilot brings all of the skills and experience they have acquired to the new timeline, giving future playthroughs an edge over the previous ones. It's a helpful feature, as players will need every tactical advantage they can get to make it through Into the Breach. While the decision making in FTL largely centered around preparing for battle, Into the Breach puts almost every decision into the turn-based tactics battles themselves. Each conflict with the kaiju takes five rounds. After those five rounds, the towering monstrosities retreat back into the dark depths from which they came. Players have two basic things to do during those precious few turns: Keep their mechs alive and prevent the kaiju from damaging cities. If a mech's health drops to zero, the pilot dies permanently. If a building takes damage, the power grid takes damage, too. Players lose the entire timeline if the power grid drops to zero hit points. These simple goals quickly become complicated by bonus objectives and map conditions. Each mission can grant reputation, which can be spent on various upgrades after completing an island, or power to replenish and reinforce the power grid's health and defenses. This leads to the player approaching each mission as potentially game-ending. Sure, perhaps using a rocket punch to kill that kaiju might accomplish an objective for reputation or save a friendly mech, but it will likely also damage the power grid bringing the timeline that much closer to failure. However, maybe that loss is worth it if you can get enough reputation to later purchase more power for the grid or maybe complete a bonus objective that provides more power. Each mech in the three machine team possesses different abilities that often do more than just straight damage. These abilities can push enemies, pull them, create a defensive shield, launch barriers, distribute damage in unique patterns, and much, much more. This leads to a delicate balancing act in battle, where every tool at the player's disposal must be employed to move enemies into positions where their attacks miss or hit one another in an effort to minimize damage to the power grid. One aspect unique to Into the Breach is that enemies move and prepare attacks before the player's turn. The game presents all information to players upfront. All attacks hit and do full damage. This allows players to sit back and plan their moves carefully while knowing what the outcome of their actions will be. Of course, that can lead players to make mistakes; something that can lead to absolute disaster in the space of a single turn. Subset included the option to reset a turn once per battle to give players some degree of leniency. While the tactical elements of Into the Breach outshine the competition, it stumbles when it comes to narrative. FTL: Faster Than Light allowed players to name their crews and contained numerous side stories and scenarios that tickled the imagination. Those decisions invested like a much larger game. Subset Games' sophomore outing ditches much of that. This leads Into the Breach to feel more sterile and empty with a world where the stakes aren't terribly dramatic. The cast of characters is composed of a handful of pilots and the four administrators of the remaining pockets of humanity. The pilots mostly speak in reaction to what's happening in battle with one-liners, remarking about how the battle went, or to give a final word to the player as they die. The administrators give comments at the close of every mission. None of that feels intimate; by the time the credits roll, the player does not know any of the characters beyond what stats they can give a mech. That's a shame, because one could imagine a version of Into the Breach where pilots have downtime together between battles to interact with one another and the administrators to show character development outside of their statistics. Chris Avellone is a great writer, one that I think excels at that kind of interaction, so the dearth of narrative outside of the overall scenario baffles me. Perhaps miscellaneous content wound up being cut to reduce development time or it created too much of a barrier between the player and the pitch-perfect strategy of the battles. Whatever the reason, the loss of that storytelling aspect hurts. Returning composer Ben Prunty hits a high note with his work in Into the Breach. The music manages to convey mood and tone quite effectively, adding an ever escalating sense of urgency without becoming too overbearing. Prunty strikes a balance that allows players to focus and plan while also encouraging decision-making with an encouraging forward momentum. It's great stuff to listen to if you want to make progress on a task and avoid distractions. Conclusion: Into the Breach combines the colossal conflicts of Godzilla and Pacific Rim with the turn-based tactics of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. However, the unique spin on the formula that sets it apart from its gaming brethren put it in a class all its own. Instead of killing, the systems in the game have players employing tactics that create Rube Goldberg-like chain reactions to save the civilians of a doomed world. The satisfaction at achieving a flawless victory or pulling through to the end and successfully defeating the Vek cannot really be overstated. Into the Breach stands as a high point in strategy gaming that should be pulled out in game design classrooms for years to come. That being said, it's hard not to see the possibility for it to have been more. The lack of a compelling narrative beyond the minute-to-minute gameplay experience feels like a missed opportunity. Perhaps a future update or sequel could add something along those lines to bolster the perfect mechanics. If you have any regard for turn-based tactical games, Into the Breach is absolutely a must play game for you. Into the Breach is available now on PC. View full article
  14. Jack Gardner

    Review: Into the Breach

    Subset Games really knows how to design a solid game. FTL: Faster Than Light demonstrated that the team possesses the chops to create a game capable of sucking people in for dozens of hours with engaging strategy that often asks players to make tough decisions. Those tough decisions, the kind upon which hang life or death, form the central thesis of Into the Breach. Into the Breach takes place in a far flung future where Earth has flooded, reducing its landmass down to a handful of islands and unleashing the Vek, a collection of horrific kaiju from deep underground. Humanity created fleets of giant robots capable of fighting the Vek to defend the last cities on the planet, but it doesn't seem to be enough. Overwhelmed and on the brink of total annihilation, one last, desperate plan was conceived: Send one experienced mech pilot back through time armed with the knowledge to prevent humanity's doom and win the war against the Vek. The scenario, penned by Chris Avellone, the creative mind behind Baldur's Gate and Fallout: New Vegas, sets the stage for the roguelike elements of Into the Breach. When players manage to defeat the Vek, they are able to send a pilot of their choice to another timeline to continue the fight. Death, on the other hand, results in the last pilot to die engaging an emergency jump to a different timeline. That pilot brings all of the skills and experience they have acquired to the new timeline, giving future playthroughs an edge over the previous ones. It's a helpful feature, as players will need every tactical advantage they can get to make it through Into the Breach. While the decision making in FTL largely centered around preparing for battle, Into the Breach puts almost every decision into the turn-based tactics battles themselves. Each conflict with the kaiju takes five rounds. After those five rounds, the towering monstrosities retreat back into the dark depths from which they came. Players have two basic things to do during those precious few turns: Keep their mechs alive and prevent the kaiju from damaging cities. If a mech's health drops to zero, the pilot dies permanently. If a building takes damage, the power grid takes damage, too. Players lose the entire timeline if the power grid drops to zero hit points. These simple goals quickly become complicated by bonus objectives and map conditions. Each mission can grant reputation, which can be spent on various upgrades after completing an island, or power to replenish and reinforce the power grid's health and defenses. This leads to the player approaching each mission as potentially game-ending. Sure, perhaps using a rocket punch to kill that kaiju might accomplish an objective for reputation or save a friendly mech, but it will likely also damage the power grid bringing the timeline that much closer to failure. However, maybe that loss is worth it if you can get enough reputation to later purchase more power for the grid or maybe complete a bonus objective that provides more power. Each mech in the three machine team possesses different abilities that often do more than just straight damage. These abilities can push enemies, pull them, create a defensive shield, launch barriers, distribute damage in unique patterns, and much, much more. This leads to a delicate balancing act in battle, where every tool at the player's disposal must be employed to move enemies into positions where their attacks miss or hit one another in an effort to minimize damage to the power grid. One aspect unique to Into the Breach is that enemies move and prepare attacks before the player's turn. The game presents all information to players upfront. All attacks hit and do full damage. This allows players to sit back and plan their moves carefully while knowing what the outcome of their actions will be. Of course, that can lead players to make mistakes; something that can lead to absolute disaster in the space of a single turn. Subset included the option to reset a turn once per battle to give players some degree of leniency. While the tactical elements of Into the Breach outshine the competition, it stumbles when it comes to narrative. FTL: Faster Than Light allowed players to name their crews and contained numerous side stories and scenarios that tickled the imagination. Those decisions invested like a much larger game. Subset Games' sophomore outing ditches much of that. This leads Into the Breach to feel more sterile and empty with a world where the stakes aren't terribly dramatic. The cast of characters is composed of a handful of pilots and the four administrators of the remaining pockets of humanity. The pilots mostly speak in reaction to what's happening in battle with one-liners, remarking about how the battle went, or to give a final word to the player as they die. The administrators give comments at the close of every mission. None of that feels intimate; by the time the credits roll, the player does not know any of the characters beyond what stats they can give a mech. That's a shame, because one could imagine a version of Into the Breach where pilots have downtime together between battles to interact with one another and the administrators to show character development outside of their statistics. Chris Avellone is a great writer, one that I think excels at that kind of interaction, so the dearth of narrative outside of the overall scenario baffles me. Perhaps miscellaneous content wound up being cut to reduce development time or it created too much of a barrier between the player and the pitch-perfect strategy of the battles. Whatever the reason, the loss of that storytelling aspect hurts. Returning composer Ben Prunty hits a high note with his work in Into the Breach. The music manages to convey mood and tone quite effectively, adding an ever escalating sense of urgency without becoming too overbearing. Prunty strikes a balance that allows players to focus and plan while also encouraging decision-making with an encouraging forward momentum. It's great stuff to listen to if you want to make progress on a task and avoid distractions. Conclusion: Into the Breach combines the colossal conflicts of Godzilla and Pacific Rim with the turn-based tactics of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. However, the unique spin on the formula that sets it apart from its gaming brethren put it in a class all its own. Instead of killing, the systems in the game have players employing tactics that create Rube Goldberg-like chain reactions to save the civilians of a doomed world. The satisfaction at achieving a flawless victory or pulling through to the end and successfully defeating the Vek cannot really be overstated. Into the Breach stands as a high point in strategy gaming that should be pulled out in game design classrooms for years to come. That being said, it's hard not to see the possibility for it to have been more. The lack of a compelling narrative beyond the minute-to-minute gameplay experience feels like a missed opportunity. Perhaps a future update or sequel could add something along those lines to bolster the perfect mechanics. If you have any regard for turn-based tactical games, Into the Breach is absolutely a must play game for you. Into the Breach is available now on PC.
  15. If Dandara hasn't been on your indie game radar, it's time to fix that. Long Hat House has developed an action-packed, gravity-bending Metroidvania title that stars Dandara, a leaping heroine who awakens to battle an oppressive force subjugating her homeland. While Dandara can't walk from right to left, she can leap at lightning speed onto any surface and alter her trajectory with a projectile weapon. It's a really stylish, cool, and original mechanic that the rest of the game builds upon. It's a satisfyingly kinetic experience. Then Long Hat House put that foundation into a sprawling, mesmerizing Metroidvania world that offers players a new way to approach sidescrollers. On top of all of that, Dandara might be the most stylish game of 2018 so far. The design of Dandara is amazing with her iconic long scarf flapping behind her as she leaps around a world made up of truly impressive pieces of pixel art. The soundtrack emphasizes the energy of the game itself, offering a staccato pace that urges the player to use Dandara's speed to execute ever more elaborate maneuvers. Based in Brazil, Long Hat House drew on a great deal of their homeland to create Dandara. In fact, Dandara herself is based on a freedom fighter who lived in the mid-17th century who used martial arts and strategy to defend the fugitive slave community of Palmares from slavers and attempts to subjugate the region. This isn't a story I was familiar with at all until searching for more information on the game; it's really fantastic to learn more about the heroines and heroes in other places around the world. Long Hat House also used locations from around Belo Horizonte, their base of operations, as inspiration for in-game locales. That will explain the various pieces of Brazilian architecture found throughout Dandara. Dandara releases on February 6 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and mobile. View full article
  16. If Dandara hasn't been on your indie game radar, it's time to fix that. Long Hat House has developed an action-packed, gravity-bending Metroidvania title that stars Dandara, a leaping heroine who awakens to battle an oppressive force subjugating her homeland. While Dandara can't walk from right to left, she can leap at lightning speed onto any surface and alter her trajectory with a projectile weapon. It's a really stylish, cool, and original mechanic that the rest of the game builds upon. It's a satisfyingly kinetic experience. Then Long Hat House put that foundation into a sprawling, mesmerizing Metroidvania world that offers players a new way to approach sidescrollers. On top of all of that, Dandara might be the most stylish game of 2018 so far. The design of Dandara is amazing with her iconic long scarf flapping behind her as she leaps around a world made up of truly impressive pieces of pixel art. The soundtrack emphasizes the energy of the game itself, offering a staccato pace that urges the player to use Dandara's speed to execute ever more elaborate maneuvers. Based in Brazil, Long Hat House drew on a great deal of their homeland to create Dandara. In fact, Dandara herself is based on a freedom fighter who lived in the mid-17th century who used martial arts and strategy to defend the fugitive slave community of Palmares from slavers and attempts to subjugate the region. This isn't a story I was familiar with at all until searching for more information on the game; it's really fantastic to learn more about the heroines and heroes in other places around the world. Long Hat House also used locations from around Belo Horizonte, their base of operations, as inspiration for in-game locales. That will explain the various pieces of Brazilian architecture found throughout Dandara. Dandara releases on February 6 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and mobile.
  17. Space is a pretty dangerous place. One wrong button press, one miscalculated trajectory and you could find yourself floating home. Sleepless Clinic's Symmetry wants to explore that bone-chilling scenario. Players manage a crew of space scientists as they struggle to survive after a catastrophic crash-landing on a distant planet. The end goal of the game is to escape the planet and return home. However, that goal becomes increasingly difficult to achieve as characters begin to suffer the effects of their situation. Hunger will begin to plague the crew eventually. Mental trauma from the crash will slowly seep in. Tasks will need to be completed that these researchers were never trained to accomplish. Players will have to balance all of the needs of individuals against the needs of the group as a whole. All of this set on a remote world with a hostile atmosphere. And all of that isn't even taking into account the deadly supernatural terrors that exist on the planet. Symmetry releases on February 20 for PC. View full article
  18. Space is a pretty dangerous place. One wrong button press, one miscalculated trajectory and you could find yourself floating home. Sleepless Clinic's Symmetry wants to explore that bone-chilling scenario. Players manage a crew of space scientists as they struggle to survive after a catastrophic crash-landing on a distant planet. The end goal of the game is to escape the planet and return home. However, that goal becomes increasingly difficult to achieve as characters begin to suffer the effects of their situation. Hunger will begin to plague the crew eventually. Mental trauma from the crash will slowly seep in. Tasks will need to be completed that these researchers were never trained to accomplish. Players will have to balance all of the needs of individuals against the needs of the group as a whole. All of this set on a remote world with a hostile atmosphere. And all of that isn't even taking into account the deadly supernatural terrors that exist on the planet. Symmetry releases on February 20 for PC.
  19. The Onus Helm made its debut in a humble Kickstarter campaign that looks to secure $5,500 to finish development. The roguelike dungeon crawler stars an enigmatic character who awakens to find themselves in a mysterious, seemingly endless labyrinth with a burdensome, irremovable helmet placed on their head. To uncover the secrets of the helm and find freedom, players will have to navigate the dangers of the deadly maze and defeat the evils that have taken up residence in its ever shifting halls. The demo put out by developer B-Cubed Labs puts a full level on display. It takes the randomly generated room approach found in The Binding of Isaac and puts its own unique spin on the formula, something that could certainly intrigue fans in the retro-indie community. Players make their way through the dungeon room by room. Each room can hold enemies, secrets, items, or upgrades. Players will need to explore as much as possible to be prepared for the boss, a maniacal shadow that can summon floating swords. Each trip through the demo proves to be different. On one occasion, I was able to find a room in which an NPC played a flute on a tree stump. On another, I found a thief-like creature who gave me more insight into the surreal world of The Onus Helm where every character has been cursed with a similar helmet that they can't remove. Should you fall in battle, the next playthrough mixes up the dungeon, shifting the rooms in new and interesting ways. A small array of weapons can drastically how one approaches the enemies in-game. Players start out with a sword and an infinite ammo slingshot. However, there are many other treasures to be found or bought that can help the player survive. A larger sword upgrade can be obtained that makes melee combat much easier, a powerful bow with limited ammo or a boomerang can replace the slingshot, and bombs prove to be a necessity for both secrets and strategic combat. Potions, health upgrades, and other non-weapons can be uncovered, too. The look of B-Cubed Labs indie project is certainly arresting. Mixed with a more retro throwback aesthetic, a lot of influence from the original Legend of Zelda appears readily apparent. It manages to straddle the line between homage and novelty really well in a way that feels both familiar and different. The final version of The Onus Helm is planned to include simply more stuff than is in the demo. More rooms, enemies, items, weapons, NPCs, and bosses will offer a more fully rounded experience. The planned PC release will offer both keyboard and controller support and a built-in speedrun clock for those who feel the need for speed. The core game has been mostly finished so even if the Kickstarter fails The Onus Helm will likely see the light of day. The Kickstarter seems to be for funding additional assets and mechanics with stretch goals for even more stuff like more music, co-op, a console release, and a larger development team to add even more stuff into the roguelike generation system B-Cubed has set up. Overall, my impression of The Onus Helm was that it's a game worthy of time and attention. I hope it meets its goal in the next nine days and I encourage everyone to check out the Kickstarter and demo. It should release sometime later this year. View full article
  20. The Onus Helm made its debut in a humble Kickstarter campaign that looks to secure $5,500 to finish development. The roguelike dungeon crawler stars an enigmatic character who awakens to find themselves in a mysterious, seemingly endless labyrinth with a burdensome, irremovable helmet placed on their head. To uncover the secrets of the helm and find freedom, players will have to navigate the dangers of the deadly maze and defeat the evils that have taken up residence in its ever shifting halls. The demo put out by developer B-Cubed Labs puts a full level on display. It takes the randomly generated room approach found in The Binding of Isaac and puts its own unique spin on the formula, something that could certainly intrigue fans in the retro-indie community. Players make their way through the dungeon room by room. Each room can hold enemies, secrets, items, or upgrades. Players will need to explore as much as possible to be prepared for the boss, a maniacal shadow that can summon floating swords. Each trip through the demo proves to be different. On one occasion, I was able to find a room in which an NPC played a flute on a tree stump. On another, I found a thief-like creature who gave me more insight into the surreal world of The Onus Helm where every character has been cursed with a similar helmet that they can't remove. Should you fall in battle, the next playthrough mixes up the dungeon, shifting the rooms in new and interesting ways. A small array of weapons can drastically how one approaches the enemies in-game. Players start out with a sword and an infinite ammo slingshot. However, there are many other treasures to be found or bought that can help the player survive. A larger sword upgrade can be obtained that makes melee combat much easier, a powerful bow with limited ammo or a boomerang can replace the slingshot, and bombs prove to be a necessity for both secrets and strategic combat. Potions, health upgrades, and other non-weapons can be uncovered, too. The look of B-Cubed Labs indie project is certainly arresting. Mixed with a more retro throwback aesthetic, a lot of influence from the original Legend of Zelda appears readily apparent. It manages to straddle the line between homage and novelty really well in a way that feels both familiar and different. The final version of The Onus Helm is planned to include simply more stuff than is in the demo. More rooms, enemies, items, weapons, NPCs, and bosses will offer a more fully rounded experience. The planned PC release will offer both keyboard and controller support and a built-in speedrun clock for those who feel the need for speed. The core game has been mostly finished so even if the Kickstarter fails The Onus Helm will likely see the light of day. The Kickstarter seems to be for funding additional assets and mechanics with stretch goals for even more stuff like more music, co-op, a console release, and a larger development team to add even more stuff into the roguelike generation system B-Cubed has set up. Overall, my impression of The Onus Helm was that it's a game worthy of time and attention. I hope it meets its goal in the next nine days and I encourage everyone to check out the Kickstarter and demo. It should release sometime later this year.
  21. Stardew Valley's developer, Eric Barone, has long promised a multiplayer mode for the popular farming/life sim. Chucklefish, the game's publisher, pushed back the release to the nebulous time period of "early 2018" stating that the multiplayer functionality needed more polish. On Sunday, Barone gave an update on the status of co-op, tweeting a screenshot of four people playing Stardew Valley. When it does launch later this year, some features of the multiplayer addition have been confirmed. First, the update will not require players to create a new farm and existing saves will be open to co-op. Though the tweet references LAN gameplay, co-op will also be available via online play. Given that the LAN connection is currently functional, we might reasonably expect to see Stardew Valley co-op sooner rather than later. View full article
  22. Stardew Valley's developer, Eric Barone, has long promised a multiplayer mode for the popular farming/life sim. Chucklefish, the game's publisher, pushed back the release to the nebulous time period of "early 2018" stating that the multiplayer functionality needed more polish. On Sunday, Barone gave an update on the status of co-op, tweeting a screenshot of four people playing Stardew Valley. When it does launch later this year, some features of the multiplayer addition have been confirmed. First, the update will not require players to create a new farm and existing saves will be open to co-op. Though the tweet references LAN gameplay, co-op will also be available via online play. Given that the LAN connection is currently functional, we might reasonably expect to see Stardew Valley co-op sooner rather than later.
  23. Celeste Mountain looms over a tantalizing mystery, one that Madeline, our young protagonist, determines to uncover. Using Madeline's reservoir of stamina, players must navigate the treacherous terrain and dangers to discover new characters and locations. Mastering her mid-air dash will be crucial to making progress. For people who are more invested in the story than the challenging gameplay, developer Matt Makes Games has included an assist mode. Assist mode allows players to tweak difficulty to find the most enjoyable way to play through Celeste. Options range from slowing down time to pure invincibility. Celeste also caters to the hardcore gaming crowd with a unique challenge mode for the most skilled players called The B-Side Chapters. Nintendo will launch Celeste as a digital title for the Nintendo Switch on January 25. View full article
  24. Celeste Mountain looms over a tantalizing mystery, one that Madeline, our young protagonist, determines to uncover. Using Madeline's reservoir of stamina, players must navigate the treacherous terrain and dangers to discover new characters and locations. Mastering her mid-air dash will be crucial to making progress. For people who are more invested in the story than the challenging gameplay, developer Matt Makes Games has included an assist mode. Assist mode allows players to tweak difficulty to find the most enjoyable way to play through Celeste. Options range from slowing down time to pure invincibility. Celeste also caters to the hardcore gaming crowd with a unique challenge mode for the most skilled players called The B-Side Chapters. Nintendo will launch Celeste as a digital title for the Nintendo Switch on January 25.
  25. We've all lost someone along the way to the here and now. It's always tragic, always painful, and always hard to process. For Emery offers itself as a tribute to the people who are going through loss by presenting a story about searching for life after death. For Emery was developed by Sanud Games and bills itself as a point-and-click interactive novel inspired by the ancient Sumerian text the Epic of Gilgamesh. The story focuses on Germaine, a circus performer who refuses to accept the death of his friend and colleague Emery. On his quest, Germaine progresses through the five stages of grief to uncover the truth behind death itself. The game itself seems to come from a pretty personal place as the listing for the game concludes, "Isabelle, your classmates and loved ones still miss you. Linda Farkas, your inspiration bled beyond your fiery artform." Hopefully For Emery can help both developers and players find some measure of peace. So far the early access version of For Emery has only been released on Game Jolt for both PC and Mac. A free demo is available on both Game Jolt and itch.io that allows players to progress up to Act 1, Scene 2.
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