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  • Maize

      I have been playing games for over 3 decades and in that time I have seen puzzles games take many forms.  Computerized Rubiks cubes, Tetris, MYST, Lemmings, and even games like Portal.  But never in the thousands of titles I have played have I ever come across a game like Maize by Finish Line Games.

      Maize is a 1st person adventure puzzle game.  I know what you are thinking – that doesn’t sound that different, that sounds like MYST.  Well, MYST didn’t have sentient corn.  Now you are thinking “that has to be a serious typo” but my keyboard is working fine and I am actually taking my meds.  Corn that can walk, talk, and even help you figure out what you need to do next on your adventure.  Oh, and don’t forget your Russian, robotic, bear companion that is along for the ride.  Told you it was different.

      You wake up in a corn field with no idea how you got there or what you are supposed to be doing.  After a bit of exploring, you find a large door that requires 3 keys to enter.  A bit wandering reveals a farm house and starts you on your journey into the lab that lays behind the door.  In the lab you will start to uncover answers to some of your lingering questions like how did the corn get this way, what is their fate, can corn dance?  You will also learn the history of the lab and the two doctors, Ted and Bob, who ran its experiments. 

      To progress through the facility, you will have to solve a series of puzzles.  Most will require you to use objects that you have acquired from your surroundings.  But not everything you grab is useful.  There are 75 collectables that are stored in your folio that only count towards an achievement / trophy.  Each of these items has an interesting description, so they do bear a once over.  But there are at least that many with a purpose in the game.

      The graphics in Maize are spectacular.  No matter if you are exploring the secret underground lab or wandering through the large corn field you will want to take a moment to admire the amount of detail that was included.  Even the shadows on the induvial kernels of corn are almost mesmerizing.  The audio is great.  The voice acting is amazing.  Face it, when you have a Russian, robotic bear insulting you and sentient corn leading you through a game what can go wrong?

      Maize is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  It is a great puzzle game that will keep you in stitches.  There is also an achievement for completing the game in under 2 hours, so you can even speed run it if you have big enough cobs.  Personally I am hoping for a stuffed Vladdy.
    8/10

    Blood Bowl 2 : Legendary Edition

      I have never played any type of Warhammer game in my life.  This may seem like a comment out of left field, but it does actually have a place here.  The developers at Cyanide Studios have mashed together the characters and races from Warhammer and American football again with their release of Blood Bowl 2 : Legendary Edition.

      If you think this is just another football game, you are sorely mistaken.  Blood Bowl 2 is a turn based strategy game that is just masquerading as a football game.  But this twist separates it from the other games in the genre and adds new depth to the game.  The addition of other vampires, dwarves, elves and more also adds for more fun and twists to your basic sports title.

      Blood Bowl 2 offers many different ways to play the game.  There is a campaign, challenge mode, customizable leagues ( single and multiplayer ) , and friendly matches that can be played either online or locally.  Each game consists of 2 halves of 8 turns each, in which you can move each of your players – unless you happen to have a turnover.  And as I stated this is not your typical football game.  You can bribe the refs, hire a wizard to cast a spell to help your team or even hire a mercenary.

        All of the modes play fairly the same.  You must either score, or prevent the other team from scoring.  What sets this game apart is that each move is given a percentage of successful completion and will roll dice to give you an outcome for encounters.  Now, you are at the mercy of luck and the roll of the dice.  And the fans are not just there to watch the game.  If you get pushed out of bounds, the fans will pummel you senseless and toss the ball randomly onto the field.

      The Legendary Edition of the game includes the base title as well as all of the available races.  Goblins, Halflings, Treeman, Amazons, Vampires, Ogres, and more.  This edition allows you to grab all the content in one neat package.  You also get star players, a new stadium, and more interesting matches with All-Star Teams and Mixed Teams.
     
      The graphics in the game are great.  The plays are carried out through short videos.  Each tackle, touch down, and other important play has a stunning, bone jarring visual.  The sounds of the grid iron are there as well, but where the sounds really soar are in campaign mode.  Campaign Mode features a couple of sports casters explaining the story and providing color commentary.  This commentary will have you laughing out loud.

      Blood Bowl 2 : The Legendary Edition is out now on XB1, PS4 and PC and can be added to your collection for about $45.  This is a fun twist on the turn based strategy genre and sports games.
     
    7/10

    Don't Knock Twice

      There is a pretty long history of video games based on movies being pretty horrid.  All one has to do is look up E.T. for the 2600 and they will see the beginnings.  Games either have little to do with their celluloid partners, or they pale in comparison to all the hype.  Often they seem like they have been rushed to market just to add a few extra dollars to the studios pockets.  But every once in a while there is a game that holds its own.

      Don’t Knock Twice is a horror film in which a mother trying to re-connect with her daughter attracts the attention of a demonic witch.  The game follows a similar plot line to the film.  I must say that I have not seen the movie at this time, but the game does stand on its own merits, and doesn’t require any knowledge of the movie.

      You play as Jess, a woman that gave up her daughter at a young age, but it now trying to make amends.  You begin the game in a darkened room, lit only by the fire in the fire place.  Your cell phone rings and it is a text from your daughter, trying to figure out what is going on.  You must investigate your house to piece together what is going on, as well as your history with your daughter.  All the answers you seek can be found in your eerie home.

      Don’t Knock Twice does an amazing job at creating a very ominous atmosphere that you are stuck in.  The graphics are fairly realistic, and the only light comes from the candle you are carrying, or your cell phone screen.  There are a few scattered bolts of lightning that will also brighten your view, but they pass too quickly for you to really use their light.  The sound effects are next level creepy.  I grew up in an old Victorian house and spent hours wondering if the house was settling, the wind was blowing under the shutters, or if someone was walking across the creaky wide board wood floors.  All of those sounds are perfectly replicated and slid into the soundtrack.

      There are really only 2 draw backs to this title.  The first is the length of the game.  It will only take you about an hour or so to complete your 1st playthrough.  The game requires at least 2 playthroughs in order to grab all of the achievements.  But this brings up the 2nd short fall, once you have played through the game once, you know what is going to happen and the tension is all but lost.  There are enough little details to warrant 2 plays, but after that you can zip through the game too quick to be scared.

      Don’t Knock Twice is out now on XB1, PS4, PC and is even available on multiple VR platforms.  If you are a fan of horror / suspense games, this game is definitely worth a look see.  Ii would just recommend you leave the lights on.
     
    8/10

    Life is Strange: Before the Storm

    I will be the first to admit that I am not the typical person you would see playing Life is Strange. I had originally went into my Gamescom press briefing knowing that I wanted to write a review about Before the Storm, but didn’t have a deep personal interest to request a key and play it. My mind quickly changed when during the game-play presentation when I found myself wanting to ask non-editorial questions, laughing with the game dialogue, and wanting to explore beyond the purpose I was there for.

    The presenter made the point upfront and several times that their goal was to make the game about having meaningful relationships between the characters and not wash it out with non-contributing features. It quickly showed off just how in-depth some of these relationships were and how the numerous choices a player could make would contribute to different experiences. It was also pointed out that unlike the last game, there is now no rewind power. This means that the player is presented with choices that have a lasting and permanent effects on the character. For instance, if a player choose to get into some shady dealings, they may come back to haunt you later on.

    Personally, I enjoyed every minute of the game and will be playing the entire Life is Strange series after the next two chapters come out. I recommend to check this one out if you are even remotely interested in it!

     

    Eventide 2 : Sorcerer's Mirror

      If you have been following my reviews for a while you will have noticed that I have a fondness for hidden object / puzzle games.  These titles allow me to slow down, focus on all the minute details of gameplay and story.  They also remind me of the hours I would spend with those paper puzzle books before the release of the Atari.  Artifex Mundi is the leading publisher of hidden object games and they have just released another title from their catalog to the XB1.  Eventide 2 : Sorcerer’s Mirror continues to follow the adventures of botanist Mary as she explores the Slavic countryside.

      The game starts out with Mary rock climbing with her niece Jenny, and everything seems well.  But soon you encounter an evil sorcerer who kidnaps Jenny and plunges you into another adventure.  It is up to you to save your niece, discover the sorcerers plan, and save the country.  This is done by solving puzzle mini games, using magic potions, and uncovering the secrets of the past.

      Gameplay is very similar to other games from the publisher.  One new feature is a moral system.  Throughout the game there are a total of 5 choices that you must make that will affect how the game plays out.  The choices have a minimal effect on your playthrough, but you will have a few different conversations because of what you pick.  If you want to get all the achievements, you must playthrough at least twice, so you will get a chance to see how everything plays out.

      The title also includes a fair amount of inventory crafting.  This means that you will find a group of items and then need to assemble them in the inventory bar.  This brings a little more thought into the game as you must figure out what is needed to craft the different items.  The game also brings back collectables.  There are 2 separate types of collectables that you have to search out while playing – cards with Imps on them and gleaming mirrors.  While these are only required for achievements, it still adds a bit to the game play.  Don’t worry if you don’t  find them all on your 1st playthrough, when you play through again the items you have found will already be collected, so you just need to grab the few you missed.

      Graphics in the game are great as usual.  The areas you visit are beautifully rendered, and the hidden object puzzles are challenging.  The soundtrack helps create the tone for the game, be it a peaceful waterfall or sneaking around the sorcerer’s castle.  The music and sound effects help to immerse you into this world of magic, where things are not always as they seem.

      Eventide 2 : Sorcerer’s Mirror is out now for the Xbox One.  You can pick it up for around $10 or you can grab the bundle that includes both Eventide titles for $15.  If you are a casual gamer that is looking for an interesting story I would recommend this title for you.  There are some fun puzzles to solve and the game will keep you entertained for several hours.  And if you are an achievement hunter, this is a title for you as well.
     
    7/10
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  • Posts

    • Hey guys,  UK streamer here, Love what you're doing here; looked for an equivalent in the UK, but there's none so I figured OSD hell yeah.  Great to meet you all. Wake
    • Thanks for Joinin' us man! Hope to game with you some time!
    • Welcome! Come hang out with us in Discord dude! 
    • Hello ladies and gent,  My name is Ryan aka Doc I served 7 years as a hospital corpsman.  I spent the majority of those years with various units across 1st mar div.  After a few deployments I decided that it was time to separate and take advantage of the gi bill.  Now that I have a little extra time and a love for gaming I've started streaming, I play a little bit of everything but focus on arma 3, pubg, and fortnite.  I'm very active in the local vet community as well as team RWB, I'm looking forward to getting involved here and gaming with you all.  Let the shenanigans begin!
    • I live life with my head held high and as positive as possible. I love to stream games and push being friendly and interactive as possible all wile providing a positive environment for all friends to join. I served in the army for 7 years and 4 tours and now stream full time on twitch. Mad love to you all and happy grinding
    • Hello everyone, Names is keith, 33 year old veteran. I go by mizfitwolf on most consoles and my streaming channel. I served little over 11 years before I was medical discharged and retired after receiving injuries on my last tour of duty.  Have to say I struggled to find somewhere I could fit in and work or even do things to keep my sanity.  After long struggles both mental and physical finally came back to gaming as a way to cope.  Due to my disabilities gaming been my way of reconnecting with people, and so I found streaming, which became a great outlet and alot of fun which started a long and fun as a streamer and part of larger communities.  I came across this group after doing some work with another community and seeing the OSD group.  Im hoping to meet some of you around the community and getting to know you all, maybe even playing with some of you.
    • I've only seen videos from scrubs playing the new Beta for Destiny 2.  Need to get some feedback from fellow vets and see what the consensus is.  So anyone have any thoughts or opinions on the new game? Worth buying? Avoiding? Buying on sale a year from now?
    • Finding Your Next Mission! Our corporate sponsors and other business relationships make us keenly aware of the high demand for veterans in the marketplace. Our mission for the ACT program is to capitalize on the leadership, principles, and mission accomplishment mentality that every veteran possesses and help them translate that into continued success in the civilian sector. Our taxpayers have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into training these elite men and women and at HCC we provide the additional training, coaching, and mentoring to ensure that investment produces a tremendous return for the veteran, the employer, and our economy. A few things our veterans receive: ·         Training and counseling from HR Professionals and our corporate partners ·         Network development and assessment for career advancement ·         Targeted job search/resume techniques and potential employer research strategies ·         Social media guidance ·         Assessments and Strengths evaluation ·         Connections with vast HCC network of businesses and employers ·         Interview/elevator speech prep     This is a free, five day, in-house training at HCC’s Veteran Business Center located in Farmers Branch, Texas Apply online at http://www.hccvet.org/act-program/     Respectfully, William J. Miller Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. ACT/Fellows Program Manager (214) 431-3834 william.miller@hccvet.org
    • When selecting your time slot, what time zone is it based on?
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