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Found 12 results

  1. The early days of turn-of-the-millennium internet held a lot of weird, experimental treasures. In early 2003, one of those corners was born out of game designer Zack Johnson's hand-drawn stick figures and a week of fevered madness. It was meant to be more of a joke than a game, a small effort to get something, anything, done. A year later Johnson's slapdash, slapstick, slapsilly game, an online, browser-based RPG called Kingdom of Loathing, had captured the attention of a pre-YouTube internet and over 300,000 accounts had been created. If you think that perhaps those numbers were a mere flash in the pan, you'd be wrong as Kingdom of Loathing retained a strong 100,000 - 150,000 players as of 2008. Johnson and his small team at Asymmetric Publications pumped out regular updates to the game and to this day keep new jokes and content flowing into the Kingdom of Loathing. The game has always been free and boasts no ads, but players can donate $10 to support the game and receive an in-game item called a Mr. Accessory that acts as an item on its own or can be traded for other powerful items at the Mr. Store. Over the years Mr. items developed their own economy among the player-base that has actually been studied by economists. After working on Kingdom of Loathing for over a decade, the team released their second game, Word Realms. The unique PC RPG tasks players with wielding words a weapons by way of a Scrabble-meets-Boggle combat system. The 2013 release went over well for fans, but seemed to generate little buzz in the more mainstream gaming world. Now, the year is 2016 and a mysterious little teaser has popped up for West of Loathing, a comedy RPG set in the tumbleweed drenched West of the Loathing universe. West of Loathing has already been greenlit on Steam Greenlight and Asymmetric Publications boasts that the RPG will hold a lot of content for players. The branching narrative will take place in an expansive world filled with turn-based tactical combat. The devs describe it as "basically a stick-figure Skyrim with beans and big hats." Players can choose from one of three starting classes to do battle with goblins, skeletons, snakes, and ghost accountants: Cow Puncher, Beanslinger, or Snake Oiler. Though many players still call the multiplayer community around Kingdom of Loathing home, West of Loathing doesn't appear to be a replacement for the MMORPG. The upcoming RPG will be single-player and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. West of Loathing is slated for an early 2017 release on PC, Mac, and Linux.
  2. The early days of turn-of-the-millennium internet held a lot of weird, experimental treasures. In early 2003, one of those corners was born out of game designer Zack Johnson's hand-drawn stick figures and a week of fevered madness. It was meant to be more of a joke than a game, a small effort to get something, anything, done. A year later Johnson's slapdash, slapstick, slapsilly game, an online, browser-based RPG called Kingdom of Loathing, had captured the attention of a pre-YouTube internet and over 300,000 accounts had been created. If you think that perhaps those numbers were a mere flash in the pan, you'd be wrong as Kingdom of Loathing retained a strong 100,000 - 150,000 players as of 2008. Johnson and his small team at Asymmetric Publications pumped out regular updates to the game and to this day keep new jokes and content flowing into the Kingdom of Loathing. The game has always been free and boasts no ads, but players can donate $10 to support the game and receive an in-game item called a Mr. Accessory that acts as an item on its own or can be traded for other powerful items at the Mr. Store. Over the years Mr. items developed their own economy among the player-base that has actually been studied by economists. After working on Kingdom of Loathing for over a decade, the team released their second game, Word Realms. The unique PC RPG tasks players with wielding words a weapons by way of a Scrabble-meets-Boggle combat system. The 2013 release went over well for fans, but seemed to generate little buzz in the more mainstream gaming world. Now, the year is 2016 and a mysterious little teaser has popped up for West of Loathing, a comedy RPG set in the tumbleweed drenched West of the Loathing universe. West of Loathing has already been greenlit on Steam Greenlight and Asymmetric Publications boasts that the RPG will hold a lot of content for players. The branching narrative will take place in an expansive world filled with turn-based tactical combat. The devs describe it as "basically a stick-figure Skyrim with beans and big hats." Players can choose from one of three starting classes to do battle with goblins, skeletons, snakes, and ghost accountants: Cow Puncher, Beanslinger, or Snake Oiler. Though many players still call the multiplayer community around Kingdom of Loathing home, West of Loathing doesn't appear to be a replacement for the MMORPG. The upcoming RPG will be single-player and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. West of Loathing is slated for an early 2017 release on PC, Mac, and Linux. View full article
  3. Rockstar Games has been teasing an announcement related to their Read Dead series, leading to wild speculation over the past few days as to what the project might be. Today they confirmed that the game they're currently working on is Red Dead Redemption 2. Details are scarce for now, but Rockstar has already set up a site for the game with the above image and a release window for Fall 2017. A short description on the Red Dead Redemption 2 website reads: Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience. If you're excited to learn more about what a brand new online multiplayer experience might be or what kind of epic tale Read Dead Redemption 2 might weave, Rockstar will be launching a trailer on October 20 at 11am ET to give players a taste of the wild west the GTA developers have in store.
  4. Rockstar Games has been teasing an announcement related to their Read Dead series, leading to wild speculation over the past few days as to what the project might be. Today they confirmed that the game they're currently working on is Red Dead Redemption 2. Details are scarce for now, but Rockstar has already set up a site for the game with the above image and a release window for Fall 2017. A short description on the Red Dead Redemption 2 website reads: Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience. If you're excited to learn more about what a brand new online multiplayer experience might be or what kind of epic tale Read Dead Redemption 2 might weave, Rockstar will be launching a trailer on October 20 at 11am ET to give players a taste of the wild west the GTA developers have in store. View full article
  5. Rockstar Games tweeted out a plain red image yesterday bearing a slightly washed out version of their logo. The tease ignited a frenzy of speculation - were they hinting at a long rumored remaster of Red Dead Redemption? Maybe an overhaul of the classic Red Dead Revolver? Or perhaps something entirely new? Though no official answers have been released by Rockstar, the tease has caused many to re-evaluate a supposed leak from earlier this year that was reportedly the world map for Red Dead Redemption 2. That leak, appearing on NeoGAF and later confirmed by an anonymous source to Techradar, seemed to indicate the next Red Dead game would be a prequel to the highly acclaimed Red Dead Redemption. Keep in mind that Rockstar has never substantiated any of that and the leak could very possibly have been fabricated. Some gamers have claimed to crack Rockstar's website and confirmed that the name of the upcoming title will be Red Dead Retribution. Those claims ended up being a misleading hoax. The only additional piece of solid information about the Read Dead project comes from a second image that Rockstar tweeted out earlier today: The image displays an array of gunslingers against a classic Western sunset in Magnificent Seven-like posing. It suggests an ensemble cast of characters, in which case a game diving into the outlaw gang days of Red Dead Redemption's John Marston might not be totally out of the question. Of course, this is Rockstar - a company that strives to do new and better things, so perhaps they're aiming to take their Western franchise in an entirely new direction with a wholly different story and characters. However the details turn out, a new Red Dead title will be riding over the horizon sometime soon and that's worth some excitement.
  6. Rockstar Games tweeted out a plain red image yesterday bearing a slightly washed out version of their logo. The tease ignited a frenzy of speculation - were they hinting at a long rumored remaster of Red Dead Redemption? Maybe an overhaul of the classic Red Dead Revolver? Or perhaps something entirely new? Though no official answers have been released by Rockstar, the tease has caused many to re-evaluate a supposed leak from earlier this year that was reportedly the world map for Red Dead Redemption 2. That leak, appearing on NeoGAF and later confirmed by an anonymous source to Techradar, seemed to indicate the next Red Dead game would be a prequel to the highly acclaimed Red Dead Redemption. Keep in mind that Rockstar has never substantiated any of that and the leak could very possibly have been fabricated. Some gamers have claimed to crack Rockstar's website and confirmed that the name of the upcoming title will be Red Dead Retribution. Those claims ended up being a misleading hoax. The only additional piece of solid information about the Read Dead project comes from a second image that Rockstar tweeted out earlier today: The image displays an array of gunslingers against a classic Western sunset in Magnificent Seven-like posing. It suggests an ensemble cast of characters, in which case a game diving into the outlaw gang days of Red Dead Redemption's John Marston might not be totally out of the question. Of course, this is Rockstar - a company that strives to do new and better things, so perhaps they're aiming to take their Western franchise in an entirely new direction with a wholly different story and characters. However the details turn out, a new Red Dead title will be riding over the horizon sometime soon and that's worth some excitement. View full article
  7. This week the wild bunch reunites to dive into the wild, wild west for a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Rockstar Games' 2010 high noon classic Red Dead Redemption. The searchers make some surprising discoveries about whether the open range western should be considered one of the best games period or remain unforgiven. Look, I really like westerns, okay? 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. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. Since the latest couple of flags on our channel have been dropped expect some incoming uploads to the YouTube channel, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Mega Man 2 'The Quick and the Blue' by The Megas (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02090) - if you like it, check out the band's online store (http://www.themegas.com/store.html) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  8. This week the wild bunch reunites to dive into the wild, wild west for a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Rockstar Games' 2010 high noon classic Red Dead Redemption. The searchers make some surprising discoveries about whether the open range western should be considered one of the best games period or remain unforgiven. Look, I really like westerns, okay? 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. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. Since the latest couple of flags on our channel have been dropped expect some incoming uploads to the YouTube channel, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Mega Man 2 'The Quick and the Blue' by The Megas (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02090) - if you like it, check out the band's online store (http://www.themegas.com/store.html) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  9. From the forges of Kickstarter rises an RPG that embraces player choice. Undoubtedly Larian Studios finest work to date, Divinity: Original Sin is a throwback to the PC RPGs of old, albeit with a modern coat of paint. Larian’s latest title can stand proudly alongside the likes of Baldur’s Gate or the original Fallout. For my review of Divinity: Original Sin, I’m just going to relay the events that occurred within the first five hours of booting it up. One of the neat aspects of Original Sin is that you can play with strangers or friends in a two player co-op mode which you can switch into at any time. I grabbed a colleague of mine and we hopped into the world of Rivellon. We both created our own Source Hunters, intrepid individuals tasked with tracking down and destroying the corrupting power known as Source. After character creation, we were sent by the order of Source Hunters to the coastal town of Cyseal to investigate a high-profile murder suspected of involving Source. Unfortunately the coastal town happened to be under attack by orcs, so after a beautiful animated cutscene we were dropped off on the shoreline a short distance from Cyseal. On our way to conduct our investigation, we learn that Divinity: Original Sin has some of the most entertaining sneaking animations ever devised. As we neared the coastal city, we encountered two drunk guards who mistook us for orcs. Luckily we convinced them that we were too human to be orcs and that was that… or it would have if one of us had thought to ask them if we could cross their bridge. For our transgression onto the sacred planks of their bridge, we were thrust into unwilling combat which ended with two dead guards on the beach. Later we would backtrack to that location and discover that one of the guards that came to relieve them of duty was freaking out over their murder. Whoops! We, being cool and collected Source Hunters, proceeded into Cyseal as nonchalantly as possible. While there, we died repeatedly trying to steal supplies from the town guard. It turns out that while it is entirely possible to steal everything in sight or kill everyone in the game, it really isn’t advisable to do so. After learning our lesson the hard way, I discovered that my character could talk with animals, a skill which I proceeded to use to get my fortune told by a prescient cow. While I was chatting up the local fauna, my companion ran off to explore the city proper. From what he told me a few minutes later, he had discovered a talking skull that he then proceeded to irritate until it called the town guard and had him arrested. Luckily, there was a demon in the prison to whom he traded a point of constitution to teleport him out of jail. It was around this time that we discovered a gravestone that dared us to dig up the remains that were buried below. We happily obliged and in repayment we were incinerated in a blast of fire. Reloading, we continued our exploration, vaguely remembering that we had come to solve a murder. We ran about town, eagerly exploring any nooks and crannies we encountered. While my friend was on the other side of Cyseal chatting up a wizard who enjoyed being a cat, my Source Hunter barged into the local physician’s clinic where he helped the young assistant try to heal one of two sick men. Upon resolving the moral conundrum posed by limited healing supplies, my companion and I were whisked away to THE FREAKING END OF TIME. While we were there, I kid you not, we met a time traveling imp historian named Zixzax. This was such a bizarre and unexpected turn of events that the two of us laughed for a good three or four minutes. Is this starting to sound insane yet? Clearly, Original Sin’s greatest strength lies in the freedom it affords to players. Every mission and scenario can be solved multiple ways or bypassed entirely. During one quest where I was supposed to infiltrate an evil cult and had to solve their initiation puzzles, I got frustrated and just killed all of the evil cultists and took the amulet I needed to progress in the story from their leader’s corpse. On one sidequest to break a character out of prison, rather than go to the trouble of finding the key to the cell, I simply teleported said character out with magic. Original Sin rewards a player’s creativity. Pretty much any solution you can think of has the potential to work and it rarely feels unfair when a plan fails (i.e. failing to pickpocket a McGuffin off of a goblin shaman because your skill was too low and starting a nearly hopeless fight in the middle of a goblin war camp). While the aforementioned freedom is definitely the main draw of Divinity, it is a double-edged sword. The unwillingness to restrict or funnel players leads to multiple instances of directionless wandering. There were several times when I felt lost because I either missed a line of dialogue or the game was being coy about where to go. You won’t always feel the burden of a lack of direction, but when you do you’ll feel completely stumped. Luckily, the narrative of Divinity: Original Sin isn’t anything over which you should get excited. The murder the Source Hunters come to investigate ends up being a more complex mystery than they could have guessed and that larger affair escalates until the stakes really can’t get any higher. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It is a competently executed tale of swords and sorcery (or as Original Sin puts it “sourcery”). Basically, the entire undertaking feels like it would be right at home as a pre-made Dungeons and Dragons adventure. The character creator allows for a number of different backgrounds, beginning powers, and visual tweaks. The abilities you take in character creation only matter for the first few hours, until you begin to find new abilities and level your appropriate skills. One of my Source Hunters began as a lady raised by wolves and was only proficient with earth magic; she ended the game as a crossbow sharpshooter who could also summon earth elementals. The flexibility of leveling is important, because it is almost a guarantee that you’ll have to branch into skill sets outside of your beginning pool of abilities. I started the game with a character who knew Geomancy and another that was well versed in Pyrokinetics. Later we recruited an expert Hydrosophist (water mage) who dabbled in some Aerotheurgy (air magic) along with a lady who could wield a nasty battleaxe via her Man-at-Arms proficiency. That left Scoundrel, Witchcraft, and Expert Marksman skills untaken. Then there are all of the skills that affect things outside of what abilities you can use in combat. There are skills for each weapon type, four different defensive skills, as well as social, crafting, and thievery skills. Beyond the general freedom of Divinity, the turn-based combat system is what will keep your interest throughout your adventures in Rivellon. Most of the moves are what you would expect: lighting, fireballs, freezing pillars, poisoned darts, etc. However, the way these abilities interact with the environment is what makes combat feel truly unique. Sure, you can summon a pool of oil to slow a group of enemies, but you can also hit the oil with a fire spell and engulf your enemies in flames and blinding smoke. If you create a poisoned cloud around a group of enemies, fire will cause it to explode. Ice spells can create slippery ice slicks that trip up opponents. Clouds of mist, pools of water, or even copious amounts of blood can be electrified to stun careless foes. While a lot of fun to play around with, using these secondary effects to your advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The terrain effects reveal one of the major weaknesses of Divinity: Original Sin. Unlike other recent tactical, turn-based games *cough* XCOM *cough*, the camera is fixed to a few certain angles. This wouldn’t be a problem, except it can sometimes make it hard to see where the terrain effects are located behind smoke or gas clouds. This can lead you to make fatal error like sending one of your Source Hunters or their allies over an ice slick, rendering them prone for two or three rounds of battle. While this wasn’t a constant issue, it was still a big enough problem that I had to reload several times throughout my playthrough. There is also another reason why players should be wary of the camera: Hidden objects. Imagine that you are trying to finish a quest and have reached a dead end. You were pretty sure you went in the right direction, but you end up backtracking and trying to find where you went wrong. You do this for over an hour. Eventually, you discover that you had missed a tiny button that was concealed on a portion of wall that was barely visible from the best angle afforded to you by the camera. This happened to me multiple times. You can chalk it up to the design attempting to be more retro, but I just found it incredibly irritating. As for the co-op, it is very much serviceable and it is really fun to experience an adventure like this with a friend by your side. I wouldn’t recommend playing with random strangers, simply because of the absurd level of trolling that unknown players are capable of within your world. For example, important conversations periodically take place between the two Source Hunters, conversations that alter the course of Divinity’s events. The Source Hunters must decide on a course of action, either by naturally agreeing or by arguing. Arguments are settled by a digital game of rock, paper, scissors. Some of the decisions result in the killing off of important characters or how you’ll tackle the next segment of a quest. It is fine to disagree with a friend, but a stranger mucking around in your game world just isn’t as much fun. One final note is that while most of the technical bugs have been fixed with patches by now, there are still a few lingering issues. The one I encountered that all but crippled my game was during the final boss fight. Overall, Original Sin looks great. It is bright and colorful or drab and moody when it needs to be. My computer had no problems running it at max settings until the final boss. For some reason, there are tons of particle effects that are being blown around by some sort of world-shattering wind and it caused the fight to slow to a crawl. I was barely able to successfully give orders. Even dropping the settings to their lowest point didn’t help. I eventually got through the fight, but it was quite a slog. Just beware that there are a few issues that could cause crashes or severe slowdown. Conclusion: Overall, Divinity: Original Sin is a fantastic, wonderful, silly, funny, ridiculous adventure that goes on for a very, very, very long time. Just keep in mind that the camera is a fickle creature and that you should save after you succeed in doing pretty much anything. Other than that, don’t expect the story to reinvent the wheel. Grab a buddy who will stay by your side for the long haul and save the world in whatever way seems best. Divinity: Original Sin was reviewed on PC and is now available.
  10. From the forges of Kickstarter rises an RPG that embraces player choice. Undoubtedly Larian Studios finest work to date, Divinity: Original Sin is a throwback to the PC RPGs of old, albeit with a modern coat of paint. Larian’s latest title can stand proudly alongside the likes of Baldur’s Gate or the original Fallout. For my review of Divinity: Original Sin, I’m just going to relay the events that occurred within the first five hours of booting it up. One of the neat aspects of Original Sin is that you can play with strangers or friends in a two player co-op mode which you can switch into at any time. I grabbed a colleague of mine and we hopped into the world of Rivellon. We both created our own Source Hunters, intrepid individuals tasked with tracking down and destroying the corrupting power known as Source. After character creation, we were sent by the order of Source Hunters to the coastal town of Cyseal to investigate a high-profile murder suspected of involving Source. Unfortunately the coastal town happened to be under attack by orcs, so after a beautiful animated cutscene we were dropped off on the shoreline a short distance from Cyseal. On our way to conduct our investigation, we learn that Divinity: Original Sin has some of the most entertaining sneaking animations ever devised. As we neared the coastal city, we encountered two drunk guards who mistook us for orcs. Luckily we convinced them that we were too human to be orcs and that was that… or it would have if one of us had thought to ask them if we could cross their bridge. For our transgression onto the sacred planks of their bridge, we were thrust into unwilling combat which ended with two dead guards on the beach. Later we would backtrack to that location and discover that one of the guards that came to relieve them of duty was freaking out over their murder. Whoops! We, being cool and collected Source Hunters, proceeded into Cyseal as nonchalantly as possible. While there, we died repeatedly trying to steal supplies from the town guard. It turns out that while it is entirely possible to steal everything in sight or kill everyone in the game, it really isn’t advisable to do so. After learning our lesson the hard way, I discovered that my character could talk with animals, a skill which I proceeded to use to get my fortune told by a prescient cow. While I was chatting up the local fauna, my companion ran off to explore the city proper. From what he told me a few minutes later, he had discovered a talking skull that he then proceeded to irritate until it called the town guard and had him arrested. Luckily, there was a demon in the prison to whom he traded a point of constitution to teleport him out of jail. It was around this time that we discovered a gravestone that dared us to dig up the remains that were buried below. We happily obliged and in repayment we were incinerated in a blast of fire. Reloading, we continued our exploration, vaguely remembering that we had come to solve a murder. We ran about town, eagerly exploring any nooks and crannies we encountered. While my friend was on the other side of Cyseal chatting up a wizard who enjoyed being a cat, my Source Hunter barged into the local physician’s clinic where he helped the young assistant try to heal one of two sick men. Upon resolving the moral conundrum posed by limited healing supplies, my companion and I were whisked away to THE FREAKING END OF TIME. While we were there, I kid you not, we met a time traveling imp historian named Zixzax. This was such a bizarre and unexpected turn of events that the two of us laughed for a good three or four minutes. Is this starting to sound insane yet? Clearly, Original Sin’s greatest strength lies in the freedom it affords to players. Every mission and scenario can be solved multiple ways or bypassed entirely. During one quest where I was supposed to infiltrate an evil cult and had to solve their initiation puzzles, I got frustrated and just killed all of the evil cultists and took the amulet I needed to progress in the story from their leader’s corpse. On one sidequest to break a character out of prison, rather than go to the trouble of finding the key to the cell, I simply teleported said character out with magic. Original Sin rewards a player’s creativity. Pretty much any solution you can think of has the potential to work and it rarely feels unfair when a plan fails (i.e. failing to pickpocket a McGuffin off of a goblin shaman because your skill was too low and starting a nearly hopeless fight in the middle of a goblin war camp). While the aforementioned freedom is definitely the main draw of Divinity, it is a double-edged sword. The unwillingness to restrict or funnel players leads to multiple instances of directionless wandering. There were several times when I felt lost because I either missed a line of dialogue or the game was being coy about where to go. You won’t always feel the burden of a lack of direction, but when you do you’ll feel completely stumped. Luckily, the narrative of Divinity: Original Sin isn’t anything over which you should get excited. The murder the Source Hunters come to investigate ends up being a more complex mystery than they could have guessed and that larger affair escalates until the stakes really can’t get any higher. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It is a competently executed tale of swords and sorcery (or as Original Sin puts it “sourcery”). Basically, the entire undertaking feels like it would be right at home as a pre-made Dungeons and Dragons adventure. The character creator allows for a number of different backgrounds, beginning powers, and visual tweaks. The abilities you take in character creation only matter for the first few hours, until you begin to find new abilities and level your appropriate skills. One of my Source Hunters began as a lady raised by wolves and was only proficient with earth magic; she ended the game as a crossbow sharpshooter who could also summon earth elementals. The flexibility of leveling is important, because it is almost a guarantee that you’ll have to branch into skill sets outside of your beginning pool of abilities. I started the game with a character who knew Geomancy and another that was well versed in Pyrokinetics. Later we recruited an expert Hydrosophist (water mage) who dabbled in some Aerotheurgy (air magic) along with a lady who could wield a nasty battleaxe via her Man-at-Arms proficiency. That left Scoundrel, Witchcraft, and Expert Marksman skills untaken. Then there are all of the skills that affect things outside of what abilities you can use in combat. There are skills for each weapon type, four different defensive skills, as well as social, crafting, and thievery skills. Beyond the general freedom of Divinity, the turn-based combat system is what will keep your interest throughout your adventures in Rivellon. Most of the moves are what you would expect: lighting, fireballs, freezing pillars, poisoned darts, etc. However, the way these abilities interact with the environment is what makes combat feel truly unique. Sure, you can summon a pool of oil to slow a group of enemies, but you can also hit the oil with a fire spell and engulf your enemies in flames and blinding smoke. If you create a poisoned cloud around a group of enemies, fire will cause it to explode. Ice spells can create slippery ice slicks that trip up opponents. Clouds of mist, pools of water, or even copious amounts of blood can be electrified to stun careless foes. While a lot of fun to play around with, using these secondary effects to your advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The terrain effects reveal one of the major weaknesses of Divinity: Original Sin. Unlike other recent tactical, turn-based games *cough* XCOM *cough*, the camera is fixed to a few certain angles. This wouldn’t be a problem, except it can sometimes make it hard to see where the terrain effects are located behind smoke or gas clouds. This can lead you to make fatal error like sending one of your Source Hunters or their allies over an ice slick, rendering them prone for two or three rounds of battle. While this wasn’t a constant issue, it was still a big enough problem that I had to reload several times throughout my playthrough. There is also another reason why players should be wary of the camera: Hidden objects. Imagine that you are trying to finish a quest and have reached a dead end. You were pretty sure you went in the right direction, but you end up backtracking and trying to find where you went wrong. You do this for over an hour. Eventually, you discover that you had missed a tiny button that was concealed on a portion of wall that was barely visible from the best angle afforded to you by the camera. This happened to me multiple times. You can chalk it up to the design attempting to be more retro, but I just found it incredibly irritating. As for the co-op, it is very much serviceable and it is really fun to experience an adventure like this with a friend by your side. I wouldn’t recommend playing with random strangers, simply because of the absurd level of trolling that unknown players are capable of within your world. For example, important conversations periodically take place between the two Source Hunters, conversations that alter the course of Divinity’s events. The Source Hunters must decide on a course of action, either by naturally agreeing or by arguing. Arguments are settled by a digital game of rock, paper, scissors. Some of the decisions result in the killing off of important characters or how you’ll tackle the next segment of a quest. It is fine to disagree with a friend, but a stranger mucking around in your game world just isn’t as much fun. One final note is that while most of the technical bugs have been fixed with patches by now, there are still a few lingering issues. The one I encountered that all but crippled my game was during the final boss fight. Overall, Original Sin looks great. It is bright and colorful or drab and moody when it needs to be. My computer had no problems running it at max settings until the final boss. For some reason, there are tons of particle effects that are being blown around by some sort of world-shattering wind and it caused the fight to slow to a crawl. I was barely able to successfully give orders. Even dropping the settings to their lowest point didn’t help. I eventually got through the fight, but it was quite a slog. Just beware that there are a few issues that could cause crashes or severe slowdown. Conclusion: Overall, Divinity: Original Sin is a fantastic, wonderful, silly, funny, ridiculous adventure that goes on for a very, very, very long time. Just keep in mind that the camera is a fickle creature and that you should save after you succeed in doing pretty much anything. Other than that, don’t expect the story to reinvent the wheel. Grab a buddy who will stay by your side for the long haul and save the world in whatever way seems best. Divinity: Original Sin was reviewed on PC and is now available. View full article
  11. Picture yourself at ten years old. Imagine snuggling into bed at night and asking your parents to tell you that one story. They’d ask you which story you meant and you’d say as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “You know, the one with the clowns, the talking mountain, and the dragons. The one with Aurora!” Your parents would laugh and begin, “Once upon a time…” Through some feat of technical and artistic wizardry, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to breathe the imagination of a young child hearing their favorite fairytale bedtime story into every aspect of Child of Light. Child of Light tells the story of Aurora, a young princess who is whisked away into the magical land of Lemuria. She struggles to find a way to return home to her ailing father and free the various creatures and people of Lemuria from the oppression of the evil Queen of the Night. It isn’t a tale that’s pushing many boundaries or a story many will be unfamiliar with, but that’s part of the brilliance of Child of Light. It takes a familiar premise and executes it so well that it doesn’t matter that we’ve heard similar stories before. Part of what makes the entire package of Child of Light work so well are the characters. While on her journey, Aurora befriends a number of interesting companions like Finn, the fainthearted magician; Robert, the swashbuckling mouse; and Rubella, a talented vocalist/clown skilled in the ways of combat. The cast is diverse and Child of Light uses that diversity to its advantage, giving each character a memorable personality and at least one opportunity to prove their worth. For the most part, the story is constructed very well, but the moments leading up to the climactic ending feel a bit rushed and left me scratching my head regarding a few questions that were never addressed. Some people might also be put off by the fact that all the dialogue in the game is conveyed in verse rather than straight prose. Personally, I really enjoyed it, especially the jokes that make use of the format. At the very least it is trying something new and different. Of course, Child of Light entirely hinges upon its protagonist, Aurora. Beginning the game as a 10-year-old girl, Aurora’s character arc throughout her journey tackles issues like growing up, love, grief, and what it means to be brave. From the opening minutes, I was struck by how refreshing it was to see that the adventure throughout the mysterious Lemuria was undertaken by a courageous, kind, and intelligent female protagonist. Maybe that says something about the video game industry at large needing more awesome heroines or perhaps that is just where I am at in my personal life or possibly both. Regardless about what that says, I couldn’t help but think that when my niece is old enough to play video games we’ll be able to sit down together and play Child of Light. When we do, she’ll be able to point to Aurora as a role model both in video games and in larger world; and that’s something that is really important to me. I also think it is equally important that our young men have awesome female protagonists in their games. I had two of my nephews over for an evening recently and I showed them the classic Miyazaki film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Their response when Nausicaä was revealed as a princess? “She’s supposed to be a boy.” That’s not their fault, but so many of the stories both in our games and other media have implanted this idea that women aren’t capable of the same heroism as men and that’s malarkey. We need more games like Child of Light so that the messages we are sending to our children aren’t so slanted and exclusive. Incidentally, I sat those kids (3 and 5 years old, respectively) down and had a chat with them on that topic, hopefully that straightened things out. The previous paragraph may have given the impression that Child of Light is for children, which would be misleading because it’s really a game for all ages. There is a very wide spectrum of behaviors and strategies that will serve to progress through the world of Lemuria. Players can opt to simply go from point A to point B if they wish, but Child of Light rewards almost all deviations from the path for those willing to explore. Rewards come in the form of chests that contain HP, MP, and Revive potions, stat upgrades, or oculi, which can be used to augment a character’s attacks, defenses, or to have some other effect in combat. While I never ran out of any single item in my playthrough, there aren’t any ways to obtain more potions or revives other than by finding them in the environment. This could potentially be a problem for players less experienced in RPGs, but it isn’t a likely scenario considering how many of each item I had in my inventory by the end. Speaking of the combat, it is an amazingly fun system from which I hope Final Fantasy takes notes. All combatants are placed on an action bar and progress toward the end at different rates according to their speed stat. After passing into the “casting” portion of the action bar, any attack that hits either the player’s characters or the enemies will cancel their attack and knock them back along the action bar. You can use this to a tactical advantage to get enemies trapped in loops unable to make a move. Each new character recruited to Aurora’s side introduces new potential strategies on how to deal with the assorted baddies that plague Lemuria. However, don’t let the apparent depth of Child of Light’s combat dissuade you. While thinking tactically feels rewarding and certainly make progress easier, even brute force, unthinking attack commands will get you through most fights. In my time with Child of Light, I only saw the Game Over screen once and that was because I ran into spiked walls a few too many times while exploring. Overall, I think Child of Light would be an excellent game to introduce someone to RPGs or video games in general. Child of Light is a largely single-player experience, but it can be played co-op to a certain extent. The first character Aurora meets in Lemuria is a firefly named Igniculus. Igniculus can be controlled via a separate controller to pick up collectibles, open doors and chests, heal characters in battle, and slow an enemy’s progress on the action bar. Granted, whoever is controlling Igniculus is getting the short end of the stick, but it is still a way to experience Child of Light with someone else who might not otherwise be able to play. Visually, this game is so charming it hurts. Everything has a dreamy, watercolor painting look to it from the characters to the environments. It lends a beautiful ethereal quality to the entire production that makes Lemuria feel both foreign and familiar at the same time. I cannot stress this enough: Child of Light is a pleasure to look at. Half of the time I wanted to see what was next in the story and the other half of the time I wanted to see what new creatures and environments were around the next plot point. One tiny nitpick I have about the visual design is that the character model of Aurora is rendered in 3D rather than 2D like all the other assets. This is an intentional design decision, but for what purpose I’m not entirely sure. It could be to make it clear that Aurora is from a different world than that of the Lemurians, but I wish they had gone a different route because the 3D model sometimes stands out in a less than pleasing manner. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light" href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light">Child of Light by Cœur de pirate</a> The soundtrack was put together by Quebec singer-songwriter Cœur de pirate and it perfectly complements the visuals and story. This is the kind of soundtrack that is absolutely essential for an RPG. Songs that players have to listen to repeatedly are made interesting and complex so that each subsequent listening players can discover something new about the music. There are certain elements that repeat throughout each song that give the soundtrack a certain cohesion. For an example of a game that does this very poorly, watch the opening minutes of The Last Remnant and pay attention to the music when it switches over into its battle mode. In Child of Light, the battle music that you hear hundreds of times is always thrilling; each time it would begin playing I took it as a call to action inspiring to do my best in combat. In fact, many of the songs in Child of Light are calls to action, albeit in different ways. Some musical pieces demand heroism or beckon the player onward, while others call forth compassion and empathy. Each track contains elements of innocence and excitement tempered with a strain of melancholy and mystery. And that mystery is part of what pulled me into the world of Lemuria and why I am so enamored with what Ubisoft Montreal has created. Conclusion: I have no doubt that in time Child of Light will be remembered as a classic. Everything about it is so well executed and enchanting that I really can’t recommend this game enough. At $15, it is certainly a must play for anyone who likes RPGs or has ever been interested in seeing what RPGs are all about. Visually and musically elegant, Child of Light should be used as a textbook example of how to tell a simple, but effective story within a video game. Certainly it has some minor blemishes, but none of them are large enough to get hung up on. I hope to see more games like this in the future. Excellent job, everyone at Ubisoft Montreal! Child of Light was reviewed on PlayStation 4. It is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U.
  12. Picture yourself at ten years old. Imagine snuggling into bed at night and asking your parents to tell you that one story. They’d ask you which story you meant and you’d say as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “You know, the one with the clowns, the talking mountain, and the dragons. The one with Aurora!” Your parents would laugh and begin, “Once upon a time…” Through some feat of technical and artistic wizardry, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to breathe the imagination of a young child hearing their favorite fairytale bedtime story into every aspect of Child of Light. Child of Light tells the story of Aurora, a young princess who is whisked away into the magical land of Lemuria. She struggles to find a way to return home to her ailing father and free the various creatures and people of Lemuria from the oppression of the evil Queen of the Night. It isn’t a tale that’s pushing many boundaries or a story many will be unfamiliar with, but that’s part of the brilliance of Child of Light. It takes a familiar premise and executes it so well that it doesn’t matter that we’ve heard similar stories before. Part of what makes the entire package of Child of Light work so well are the characters. While on her journey, Aurora befriends a number of interesting companions like Finn, the fainthearted magician; Robert, the swashbuckling mouse; and Rubella, a talented vocalist/clown skilled in the ways of combat. The cast is diverse and Child of Light uses that diversity to its advantage, giving each character a memorable personality and at least one opportunity to prove their worth. For the most part, the story is constructed very well, but the moments leading up to the climactic ending feel a bit rushed and left me scratching my head regarding a few questions that were never addressed. Some people might also be put off by the fact that all the dialogue in the game is conveyed in verse rather than straight prose. Personally, I really enjoyed it, especially the jokes that make use of the format. At the very least it is trying something new and different. Of course, Child of Light entirely hinges upon its protagonist, Aurora. Beginning the game as a 10-year-old girl, Aurora’s character arc throughout her journey tackles issues like growing up, love, grief, and what it means to be brave. From the opening minutes, I was struck by how refreshing it was to see that the adventure throughout the mysterious Lemuria was undertaken by a courageous, kind, and intelligent female protagonist. Maybe that says something about the video game industry at large needing more awesome heroines or perhaps that is just where I am at in my personal life or possibly both. Regardless about what that says, I couldn’t help but think that when my niece is old enough to play video games we’ll be able to sit down together and play Child of Light. When we do, she’ll be able to point to Aurora as a role model both in video games and in larger world; and that’s something that is really important to me. I also think it is equally important that our young men have awesome female protagonists in their games. I had two of my nephews over for an evening recently and I showed them the classic Miyazaki film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Their response when Nausicaä was revealed as a princess? “She’s supposed to be a boy.” That’s not their fault, but so many of the stories both in our games and other media have implanted this idea that women aren’t capable of the same heroism as men and that’s malarkey. We need more games like Child of Light so that the messages we are sending to our children aren’t so slanted and exclusive. Incidentally, I sat those kids (3 and 5 years old, respectively) down and had a chat with them on that topic, hopefully that straightened things out. The previous paragraph may have given the impression that Child of Light is for children, which would be misleading because it’s really a game for all ages. There is a very wide spectrum of behaviors and strategies that will serve to progress through the world of Lemuria. Players can opt to simply go from point A to point B if they wish, but Child of Light rewards almost all deviations from the path for those willing to explore. Rewards come in the form of chests that contain HP, MP, and Revive potions, stat upgrades, or oculi, which can be used to augment a character’s attacks, defenses, or to have some other effect in combat. While I never ran out of any single item in my playthrough, there aren’t any ways to obtain more potions or revives other than by finding them in the environment. This could potentially be a problem for players less experienced in RPGs, but it isn’t a likely scenario considering how many of each item I had in my inventory by the end. Speaking of the combat, it is an amazingly fun system from which I hope Final Fantasy takes notes. All combatants are placed on an action bar and progress toward the end at different rates according to their speed stat. After passing into the “casting” portion of the action bar, any attack that hits either the player’s characters or the enemies will cancel their attack and knock them back along the action bar. You can use this to a tactical advantage to get enemies trapped in loops unable to make a move. Each new character recruited to Aurora’s side introduces new potential strategies on how to deal with the assorted baddies that plague Lemuria. However, don’t let the apparent depth of Child of Light’s combat dissuade you. While thinking tactically feels rewarding and certainly make progress easier, even brute force, unthinking attack commands will get you through most fights. In my time with Child of Light, I only saw the Game Over screen once and that was because I ran into spiked walls a few too many times while exploring. Overall, I think Child of Light would be an excellent game to introduce someone to RPGs or video games in general. Child of Light is a largely single-player experience, but it can be played co-op to a certain extent. The first character Aurora meets in Lemuria is a firefly named Igniculus. Igniculus can be controlled via a separate controller to pick up collectibles, open doors and chests, heal characters in battle, and slow an enemy’s progress on the action bar. Granted, whoever is controlling Igniculus is getting the short end of the stick, but it is still a way to experience Child of Light with someone else who might not otherwise be able to play. Visually, this game is so charming it hurts. Everything has a dreamy, watercolor painting look to it from the characters to the environments. It lends a beautiful ethereal quality to the entire production that makes Lemuria feel both foreign and familiar at the same time. I cannot stress this enough: Child of Light is a pleasure to look at. Half of the time I wanted to see what was next in the story and the other half of the time I wanted to see what new creatures and environments were around the next plot point. One tiny nitpick I have about the visual design is that the character model of Aurora is rendered in 3D rather than 2D like all the other assets. This is an intentional design decision, but for what purpose I’m not entirely sure. It could be to make it clear that Aurora is from a different world than that of the Lemurians, but I wish they had gone a different route because the 3D model sometimes stands out in a less than pleasing manner. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light" href="http://musique.coeurdepirate.com/album/child-of-light">Child of Light by Cœur de pirate</a> The soundtrack was put together by Quebec singer-songwriter Cœur de pirate and it perfectly complements the visuals and story. This is the kind of soundtrack that is absolutely essential for an RPG. Songs that players have to listen to repeatedly are made interesting and complex so that each subsequent listening players can discover something new about the music. There are certain elements that repeat throughout each song that give the soundtrack a certain cohesion. For an example of a game that does this very poorly, watch the opening minutes of The Last Remnant and pay attention to the music when it switches over into its battle mode. In Child of Light, the battle music that you hear hundreds of times is always thrilling; each time it would begin playing I took it as a call to action inspiring to do my best in combat. In fact, many of the songs in Child of Light are calls to action, albeit in different ways. Some musical pieces demand heroism or beckon the player onward, while others call forth compassion and empathy. Each track contains elements of innocence and excitement tempered with a strain of melancholy and mystery. And that mystery is part of what pulled me into the world of Lemuria and why I am so enamored with what Ubisoft Montreal has created. Conclusion: I have no doubt that in time Child of Light will be remembered as a classic. Everything about it is so well executed and enchanting that I really can’t recommend this game enough. At $15, it is certainly a must play for anyone who likes RPGs or has ever been interested in seeing what RPGs are all about. Visually and musically elegant, Child of Light should be used as a textbook example of how to tell a simple, but effective story within a video game. Certainly it has some minor blemishes, but none of them are large enough to get hung up on. I hope to see more games like this in the future. Excellent job, everyone at Ubisoft Montreal! Child of Light was reviewed on PlayStation 4. It is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. View full article
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