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    FTG Announces April Giveaway

    WELCOME!
     
    As you all know, we LOVE to give back to our amazing community that gives so much to us!
    Our FTG April Giveaway has officially begun! Our Giveaway winner will be chosen at random using the Gleam Giveaway program
    VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK TO ENTER: https://gleam.io/7LwMK/front-towards-gamer-april-giveaway
    This month we are giving away a game of your choice ($60 Value) and we wish you all the best of luck! 
    This giveaway will go from April 3rd - May 1st!
    Hint- Submitting a video of yourself via YouTube with the FTG Logo will give you the most chance of winning!

     

    Good luck to everyone! Be sure to stay tuned for more challenges, giveaways, and community events!
     
     
     

    Assassin's Creed: Origins

    I’ll start this review by saying that I’ve completed nearly all of the Assassin’s Creed games, and thoroughly enjoyed them all.  Assassin’s Creed: Origin breaks the mold from the traditional Assassin’s Creed game, while still holding true to the game series.  This game has a great story, stunning graphics, and gameplay that makes me think of games like The Witcher 3.

    With the setting in ancient Egypt, you play as Bayek of Siwa, with all the parkour moves you’d expect in an Assassin’s Creed.  One of the biggest changes right out of the gate is the use of quests instead of sequences for story progression; as well as a change to traditional Assassin's Creed combat to make a free following feel.  In past games, enemies would form a circle and attack one or two at a time.  Not anymore, don’t expect the Romans or wildlife to play nice.  
    Equipment choices include a variety of melee weapons, shields, and bows, each with different attacking speeds and styles, giving you the freedom to control how you approach a fight.  A new crafting system has been added to Origin, letting you collect and use ores and pelts, found in the world, to upgrade your damage, health, quiver size, and tool pouch.

    Graphically, the game is beyond beautiful.  The environments are stunning to look at, and when you synchronize, there is a sweeping camera shot of the area.  I will say, I’ve played this both on the Xbox One and Xbox One X, and it looks even better on the Xbox One X.  Interior environments are detailed and don’t feel like cookie-cutter buildings.  And that’s saying something for how many different areas there are to explore in this game.

    My only major criticism is Senu, Bayek’s eagle used for scouting locations and tagging enemies and objectives.  In the early part of the game, tagging enemies and finding treasures is a little annoying because of how precise you need to be with targeting things.  Thankfully, as you synchronize with more points, Senu’s scouting gets better and makes it easier to tag everything.

    If you enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series, this game will not disappoint you.  The story is wonderfully told, gameplay is fun and engaing, and there is a ton to explore.  And it looks like they plan on adding events for free (along with DLCs).  As of writing this review (11/12/2017) there is an Animus Glitch event happening for the next day or so.  I will not spoil anything about this, but it’s a lot of fun and something completely new to Assassin’s Creed.  More of these event are expected in the coming weeks.

    The Inner World - The Last Wind Monk

    Earlier this year Headup Games brought the Studio Fizbin game – The Inner World to consoles from PC.  This was done to prepare everyone for the release of the sequel – The Inner World : The Last Wind Monk.  The wait is over, the game is now out and it returns to Asposia and follows the adventures of the original characters.

      The Last Wind Monk picks up about 3 years after the events in the 1st game.  The world of Asposia is not as rosy as we might have wished.  Robert, the rightful King, is missing and Laura has been captured by Emil.  Emil is a Conroyalist that believes the flute noses summoned the Basylians, turned Conroy to stone, and are to blame for all the worlds woes.  He has made it his mission to round them all up and throw them into the wind fountain.

      This dark tone emanates through most of the game.  Citizens live in fear they will be discovered as flute noses while others blindly hunt them.  Robert almost wallows in self-doubt, due to his upbringing by Conroy, and this taints his normally cheerful demeanor.  Much of the fun and light heartedness of the 1st game is lost in the shadows of this new Dystopian World, but there are a few pillars of light to be found.

      As with the 1st title, this is a point and click adventure.  You will have to talk to everyone you meet to get the clues needed to solve the puzzles for each chapter.  It’s then up to you to collect the items needed, in some cases combine them, and complete the task at hand.  Just like the previous game, the puzzles range from fairly simple to running in circles frustrating.  There are a few puzzles that even when you get all the clues, you will be left guessing at the correct answers.  There is one, which I would almost classify as a mini game, called Knock Knock, that seems to rely more on luck than anything.

      The music in the game works very well to capture the mood of the scenes.  It easily transitions from the heavier story moments to some of the light-hearted moments.  The voice acting is good, but occasionally you will notice that Laura has an accent that comes and goes.  The graphics are just as crisp as inn the original.  It is nice to see that they have brought back many of the supporting characters from the original, and that the quality is just as good.

      The Inner World : The Last Wind Monk is out now on XB1, PS4, and Steam.  The puzzles are harder than the 1st installment, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The game is worth checking out – but I would recommend playing the 1st game so you can play through the entire story arc.
     
                                         9/10

    Abyss : The Wraiths of Eden

      Artifex Mundi has opened up its catalogue and has released another one of their point and click games to consoles.  Abyss : The Wraiths of Eden is a standalone adventure that is a nice intro to the genre if you have never played this type of game.

      You play as a woman looking for her husband, Robert, who disappeared scuba diving during a bad storm.  You decide to go looking for him, and discover an underwater city named Eden.  The city appears to be deserted, but was once a model of Utopian society.  Among the rubble there are signs that Robert has been there, but he is now being held by the Legates – an almost spectral figure that seems to enforce the rules in Eden.

      It’s up to you to solve the mysteries of Eden, find Robert, and rescue anyone that might still be alive in the underwater city.  This is done by searching the station, solving puzzles, and playing mini games.  The further you get into the station, the more will be revealed about the History of Eden, the people that lived there, and the creatures patrolling the streets.

      Game play is similar to most of the other games from the developer.  It is a standard point and click adventure.  There are hidden object games in which you will have to find important inventory objects that you will have to use throughout the game.  If you are not up to finding hidden objects, you can switch over to a domino game in which you will have to cover at least 1 of the 4 squares of the Eden logo for each of the objects.  There are also mini games for you to conquer.  These range from fairly easy to difficult.  With enough manipulation, even the more difficult puzzles will work themselves out.

      Graphics in the game are as exceptional as ever.  The artists excel at fine detail, especially in the hidden object scenes.  The soundtrack is good and adds to the creepy vibe of the title.  There are a few issues with the basic sound effects though.  One that really stands out is when you use a hand drill but the sound is for a power drill.  But this is a minor thing.

        Abyss : The Wraiths of Eden is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  It is a good addition to the collection – as it has a bit of everything in it.  Action, suspense, comedy, horror and drama.  This is also a good way to introduce casual gamers to console gaming. 
     
         8/10

    Slayaway Camp : Butchers Cut

      There are tons of puzzle games coming out for consoles.  Blue Wizard Digital created a mix of a puzzle game and ‘80’s slashers flick in Slayaway Camp – Butchers Cut.  Originally released on Steam, Digerati Distribution has brought it to XB1 and PS4.

      The object of the game is simple – kill all the innocent people then escape.  This is done by sliding around the board until you run into them.  You will have to use the walls and objects in the environment to block your movement, or else you might end up missing a victim.  As the levels progress you will also have environmental hazards to help you off your victims – holes, fires, electric fences.  But beware, these hazards can also kill you if you are not careful.  But sometimes you have to sidle up next to a victim to scare them into a better position so that you can complete the level.

      When you first start up the game you will get to choose between the PG and R rated versions of the game.  They both play the same, but they sport different music and the PG version has 0 blood, the victims are just knocked out, and the victims in the mini game are replaced with targets.  This means that the game can be played by any aged member of the family.  The game is divided into 13 “movies” each with at least 10 levels with over 200 total for the title.  Once you complete each movie it will unlock deleted scenes and NC-17 levels.  There is also a movie that is just a mini game that tests yours reflexes to see how many kills you can get in a row.  The more you kill, the more skull coins you can earn.

      Skull coins are used to unlock more gruesome kills, and can help you in case you get stuck.  If there is a level you are having trouble working out, you can buy a hint for 25 coins or a full video walkthrough for another 100 coins.  On some of the later levels you may have to watch the video a few times – but luckily you only have to pay once.  You can also use the coins to buy extra killers from the mystery box to complete your collection.

      The graphics in Slayaway Camp are a bit blocky, but work well with the game.  When you play you can pick between either a ¾ top down view, which will allow you to better see the victims and environment or a straight top down view.  Both work well, so it comes down to personal preference.  If you play with full gore, you won’t be disappointed, as blood splatters everywhere, and skulls roll when you slide back over them.  The soundtrack, especially in the R rated game play, is totally addictive.  Think ‘80’s hard rock that would have inhabited the slasher movies that the game parodies.

      Slayaway Camp : Butchers Cut is out now on XB1 and PS4.  You can get the original game on Steam or purchase a bundle with all the extra levels.  There is even a version you can grab for your phone if you want to try your hand at mobile homicide.
     
                                            9/10

    Decay - The Mare

    Anything can be transformed into a horror game, because if you think about it someone, somewhere is afraid of everything on the planet.  But you would be creating a niche game if you made one about arachibutyrophobia.  Let’s be honest, how many people would be scared by a game that focuses on the fear of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth?  Games with wider appeal would have to deal with more general fears, or something more relatable.  Shining Gate Software has hit on one of those in their latest release Decay – The Mare.

      You play as Sam, a young man that is trying to get his life back on track.  You have checked into a drug rehab facility, Reaching Dreams, to finally kick your addiction.  But, you wake up in the middle of your first night, and something is off.  Are you hallucinating?  Are you on a bad trip?  This this a bad dream?  Or have you stumbled into a real paranormal mystery?  No matter what, there is something strange going on. And the only way to get it to stop is to get to the bottom of it.

      The game is divided into 3 episodes, each one delving deeper into the story.  You will have to wander through facility solving puzzles to gain access to more parts of the building.  Your powers of observation and memory will be tested as you try to decrypt some of the more interesting conundrums.  All of the answers lie within the walls of Reaching Dreams, you may just have to take a few notes along the way.

      Decay – The Mare, gains most of it’s suspense from the dark environment and the uncertainty of what is going on.  It was released in 2015 on PC, so the graphics are a little dated, but the grainy look does work for the most part.  The only time it becomes an issue is when you have to find some of the in-game items.  There are a few instances where the colors tend to blend together and you only realize they are there when your cursor changes.  The soundtrack is subtle, macabre, and ominous.  If you have the ability to play while listening through headphones – I recommend it, as this will increase the scare factor 10 fold.

      Decay – The Mare is out now on XB1 and Steam.  You can add it to your collection for $9.99, which is less than the price of a horror flick, and will easily provide you with as many scares.
    8/10

    Zombie Party

     There have been a lot of twin stick shooters popping up recently.  Many follow the same formula, run around and shoot everything that moves.  Black Shell Media has released Zombie Party by Peach Pie Productions – a twin stick shooter that has a side scrolling mode, a pet sanctuary, and more enemies that aren’t zombies than are.

      Zombie Party is an RPG with rogue like elements in pure retro rampage form.  The game features 4 actual game modes for you to choose from – Adventure, Dungeon, Arcade and Death Match.  Adventure sees you facing wave after wave of enemies interspersed with bosses until you die.  Dungeon lets you explore an area, kill enemies and descend into the dungeon and kill the bosses.  Arcade is the side scroller which sets you against zombie hordes.  Death Match pits you against AI players or other local players to the end.  Actually, all the modes are better with friends – unfortunately, you can only play local multiplayer.

      One of the cool things about the title is the sheer amount of weaponry that you can find and use.  There is a wide range of melee weapons, firearms, grenades, bombs, runes, potions, and artifacts.  You can even find and rescue pets that will help you in your fight against your enemies.  Some will gather supplies for you while others will attack in your stead.

      The graphics are pure retro gold.  Enemy design is fun and playful.  Colors very depending on the area you are in, but are mostly bright.  Things light up even more when you start firing weapons like the rainbow gun.  The music is a chip tune concert for the heart.  You will find yourself tapping your feet as you lay out your foes.

      Zombie Party is out now on XB1 and Steam.  You can pick it up for $9.99 and get started slaying right away.  As much fun as it is to play solo, grab a friend or three, gather around the tv and just blast away.

    9/10

    JYDGE

      The longer you play games, the more titles you will see with sequels.  Direct, indirect, spiritual, in name only and otherwise.  10 tons LTD has released JYDGE, a top down, twin stick shooter that takes place in the same city from Neon Chrome.
     
      JYDGE sets you up as a cybernetic law man in the mega city of Edenberg.  It is up to you to wipe out the ever rampant crime problem.  Crime comes in all forms, and you will find multiple ways to deal with it.  Your only weapon, beside yourself that is, is your Gavel – a multiple fire mode gun, that is also customizable.

      The story consists of 4 acts, each with 5 missions.  Each mission has 3 medals that you can earn for completing a specific objective.  You need to earn these medals to unlock new missions and acts.  If you don’t unlock 3 medals in each mission don’t fear, there are 4 different difficulty levels, and each has it’s own set of objectives and medals.

      This is not a twin stick shooter where you can just go around firing arbitrarily.  Some missions require you to rescue hostages, so you have to be careful not to tag any civilians with stray bullets.  You get to customize your jydge and gavel, and some of these will actually help keep the general public a bit safer.  But others will blow up everything in your path, or just protect you from the destruction. 

      The game sports a similar color palette to Neon Chrome.  Dark streets with bright, vivid set pieces.  Enemies with neon hair that sticks out from the bleak avenues and rooms.  The wide range of colors becomes a feast for the eyes.  The soundtrack is filled with thumping beats that will carry you through all the difficulty levels, no matter if you are trying to be precise with your shots or just blowing up the block.

        JYDGE is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  You can add it to your collection for $14.99, but some platforms will have it on sale for the first week of release, so check it out.  If you are a fan on twin stick shooters or are looking for something that will challenge you to rethink the way you complete each level – 4 times.
     
    8/10

    Silicon Zeroes

    At heart, I’m a programmer.  I love to write code, I enjoy the challenge of trying to take many small actions and intertwine them to accomplish a larger goal.  That’s why when I heard about Silicon Zeroes, a new game by PleasingFungus Games, I just had to check it out.  This is a puzzle where you take simple modules and connect them together to perform more complex tasks.
    This game does a great job of easing you into the concepts.  The first few puzzles teach you have to use the basic modules, and then have you combine them into something you’ll use in future puzzles.  The first set of puzzles are not bad, the difficulty ramps up into the second set, and by the third set, I’m starting to pull my hair out trying to figure it out.
    There is a ‘story’ to each puzzle, as you are working for a company in the 1960s, trying to build a CPU.  The story isn’t really engaging, as it’s just a bit of text before and after the puzzles.  The charm of the game is in the challenging puzzles.  I don’t care for some of the parts restrictions that are imposed on the puzzles.  Certainly makes the puzzles a lot more difficult.
    This game is not for everyone.  If you like logic puzzles and doing trial and error testing to complete a task, you’ll find this game a good conceptualization of that.  If the idea of that gets your frustrated thinking about it, you may want to steer clear of this title.

    Maldita Castilla EX - Cursed Castile

    Maldita Castilla is a game created by Juan Antonio Becerra, also know as Locomalito, released in December 2012 for Windows.  Maldita Castilla EX is created by the same developer, but with two more chapters, some extra weapons, and enemies.  These games take inspiration from the arcade games from the 80s and other console classics like Super Ghosts and Goblins.  There is very little randomness in the game, enemies spawn in the same location each time, and bosses are all about learning the patterns.
    However, that does not make the game ‘easy’.  There is still plenty of challenge to the game in learning the spawns and patterns, and being able to execute your moves to defeat them.  There is no time limit to completing levels, but the estimated time for completing a speedrun of the game in under 40 minutes.  There are secrets and a hidden final chapter that can only be unlocked by finding Moura tears in the levels.
    The audio and visuals of the game nearly perfectly replicate the feel of an 80s arcade, including the scan lines.  It’s customizable, so you don’t have to play with the scan lines, but it’s a nice feature to include.  A lot of feelings of nostalgia were brought out by this game, and I’m very pleased with how well done the game is.
    For achievements, they are certainly going to keep me playing this game.  Many of the achievements are for finding the different secrets throughout the game, but the most challenging ones are to complete the game in under 40 minutes, and for finishing the game equipped with the fire sword, which is found in the third level, so you need to complete more than half the game without dying and losing the power-up.  This is not an easy 1,000 GS (or Platinum Trophy), but will feel very rewarding when you accomplish it.
    In summary, Maldita Castilla EX is a very well done game.  It’s a great play, and if you remember those days of the arcades and NES classics, this is sure to bring back fond memories.  It can be challenging and frustrating, but in the end I found it rewarding and I hope you do too.
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