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Found 37 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. I have always been a fan of horror movies. I grew up watching Hitchcock movies, then transitioned into slasher flicks – but I really loved the movies that were more about suspense than just pure gore. It wasn’t until recently that I started to play horror games, because titles have started relying more on immersive storytelling and less on jump scares. Digeratti has released The Coma : Recut, a new, updated version of the Korean horror game that falls into the former category. You play as Youngho, a high school student in the midst of final exams. After an all-night study session you accidentally over sleep and have to rush to make you finals. As you arrive you notice an ambulance loading up the body of a fellow student. Talking to a few friends, you discover that there was an accident overnight and the student mysteriously died. Since not even death can stop finals, you go to class and prepare for your tests. As you start to take your exam you realize the folly of staying up all night, and the lack of sleep catches up to you and you start to drift off. You awaken in a darkened classroom, alone. But something is off, more than just being left in the school after hours and nobody bothering to wake you. As you walk through the dimly lit halls you come across your favorite teacher, Ms. Song, but realize she means to do you serious bodily harm. You quickly run and hide so that you have a few moments to gather your wits and formulate a plan. What follows is kind of like a supernatural game of cat and mouse with Ms. Song in the halls and class rooms of Sehwa High. You must gather clues to unravel the mystery of the building, what is happening, and try to escape. Along the way you will run into Seho, a fellow classmate, and a mysterious girl wearing a school uniform that you don’t recognize. Each will offer you help, in their own way, to try and help you survive and escape. The graphics in the game are perfectly eerie. The darkened, construction riddled hallways are very creepy with the majority of their light coming from your flash light. Unfortunately, if you use your light too long it may draw some unwanted attention. Your footsteps echo through the empty halls and the faster you move the louder the get. Too bad the more noise you make, the easier it is for the killer to find you – noticing a pattern here? The Coma : Recut is out now on XB1, PS4, and Steam and you can drop it into your collection for about $15. It is a chilling game that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to uncover the facts, stay alive, and escape. 8/10
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. You spend the bulk of your time playing video games doing things that would land you a pretty hefty prison sentence. Speeding, robbing banks, fighting, and of course shooting enough rounds into your foes to kill them a dozen times over. Team 17 and Mouldy Toof Studios have decided to toss you back into the clink for your miscellaneous crimes in The Escapists 2. You may start out in a cell, but like the original Escapists, the goal is to regain your freedom in the shortest time possible. Tunnel, fly, chip through walls, cut through wires, or sneak out any way you can. Each prison – there are 10 total – has multiple escapes including ones that can only be accomplished with an accomplice. That’s right, this time you can bring along a partner in crime. Gameplay is very like the original game. You get tossed in prison and you must find a way out. You can gather supplies from inside the prison and craft them into useful tools for your escape. But, in order to craft items, you will have to spend some time in the library reading to increase your intelligence. If you are going to fight, you had better hit the gym to build your strength and stamina. One upgrade from the original is that in fights you no longer just smack your enemy, you can charge up your strikes to do more damage. A big addition to The Escapists 2 are mobile prisons. These are lock ups that you have a limited amount of time to escape from, and very specific escape routes. There is no routine to follow while transported, so you are free to focus on your escape. The main thing you must watch out for on these prisons is the guards. If they find you out of your cell, they will instantly chase you down and show you who is in charge. Multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to the game as well. You can play local or online co-op games, where you try to work together to escape. One nice feature is that you can have friends drop in and drop out as they want – they don’t have to play through an entire prison with you. The one disadvantage to this is that if you drop out, when you return to the prison you have lost all your hidden items and personal stats. If you are more of a lone wolf, you can play versus mode. In this mode you not only have to be the 1st to escape, but you have to deal with others trying to sabotage you at every step. The wide variety of prisons adds a lot of depth to the game play. You start at a simple prison and before you know it you are in a World War 2 prison camp, stuck on an oil rig, or even somewhere out of this world. The way you escape from one prison will be vastly different from the next. There are nods to some Great Escape movies tucked in as well. The developers wanted to make sure that you didn’t get lonely while you were serving your time, so they added a few YouTube stars into the mix as fellow cellmates. The Escapists 2 is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam. You can get the digital version on any of the platforms for $19.99. If you are looking for a physical copy, you can grab one of those for a little more. If you are a Nintendo Switch owner, don’t fear – the game is slated to come to your console soon. If you are a fan of the 1st game, scooping up this title is essential. If you have never played the title before, this is a great introduction to the series. 10/10
  11. Indie games run the gambit of genres and quality. They also vary between short forays and long adventures that will rival any AAA title out there. Borealys Games has recently released Mages of Mystralia, and it fits firmly in the adventure genre and is a very detailed, and fairly expansive title. You play the part of Zia, a young woman who one day discovers that she is a mage. This realization comes to her when she accidentally burns down her house. Since nobody really understands magic, you are instantly banished from your village to fend for yourself. It isn’t long before you meet another mage who introduces himself as your new mentor in the ways of magic. Thus, begins your journey into the world of magic and uncovering the mysteries of what is happening in the world around you. The heart of this adventure game is the magic spell system. You start out the game with 4 basic spells, but you will find runes that you can use to manipulate them to act in new ways. There is a simple flame spell which can be used to light fires, but add a move rune and it will become a projectile weapon. Next you can add a right rune so that your projectile hooks to the right after you release it, to attack enemies around corners. Then you slap on a duplicate rune, and you can now fire 3 fireballs at once. Finally, you can add a link rune so that once your fireball hits its target, it will trigger another spell, such as an explosion. You can set up each of these spells for different situations, but can only have 1 of each type active at a time. As you play through the adventure you will unlock new areas with the new spell iterations that you learn. These areas will hold and more powerful enemies for you to overcome. There will also be puzzles for you to try and solve. Many of these puzzles will unlock new wands for you to use, or a stash of beads that can be traded to permanently increase your health or mana. Like many adventures, the more powerful you become, the more items you can discover lurking in the corners of the map. Mages of Mystralia boasts a 2/3 top down view that excels in its depiction of evil. The area bosses tend to tower over Zia, showing just how much of an uphill fight she has on her hands. As you travel the land each location exudes its own character. Darkened crypts, sunny farm land, busy towns, and abandoned mines are all beautifully rendered. Each spell also takes on a life of its own, especially as you evolve them. The soundtrack of the game fits well with the scope of the adventure. Boss battles seemed even more intense as the music builds in the background. Mages of Mystralia is an adventure game that will keep you engaged from the very start. The game evokes memories of Legend of Zelda, but the magic system propels it to the next level. Grab it now on XB1, PS4, or Steam. The price tag is $19.99 which is more than reasonable when you look at the length and content of the game.
  12. There seems to be a booming market for survival horror games. Every week or so there is a new title popping up in this genre, but many seem to be poorly crafted stories that lean to heavily on the jump scare to create any suspense. Some games, like Knock Knock by Sometimes You and Ice-Pick Lodge LLC take the time to weave a creepy tale in a strange environment to raise the tension levels slowly until you are at the edge of your seat. You play as a young man who is a self-proclaimed “world-ologist”, as in someone who studies everything in the world. You live in a large house in the woods alone as you collect your data on the things around you. But you seem to be having some trouble sleeping, and something just doesn’t seem right in your house, and in the woods around you. Can you figure out what is amiss? Is it just your mind playing tricks on you? Delve into this strange and eerie world and unlock the answers for yourself. You start out by waking up at night and having a feeling that something is a bit off in your house. You must wander through the rooms, turning on lights to see if there is something out of place. Of course it would be too easy to just flip a switch to turn on the lights, so you have to hold down a button to either fix the lights or change the bulb. This takes a few seconds and will make you wonder what may be laying in the dark. If you stay in a room for a few moments, you may close your eyes and the room will return to normal. You must make it through the night till dawn breaks to complete the sequence. The game alternates between inside the house and exploring the woods. As you explore the forest surrounding your house you will be greeted with one of the most subtly creepy soundtracks a game has to offer. There is an orchestra of natural sounds – crickets, footsteps, wind, cracking branches and more. These are intermixed with supernatural moans and howls that will make you wonder if you are alone, or if someone is watching you. And for the record, if you have a cricket loose in your house KILL IT before you start playing this game, it will only freak you out more. The graphics lean more toward the cartoonish side, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it is for kids. The main character looks like a sleep deprived Chucky doll. As you wander into darkened rooms the small candle you carry casts ominous shadows on the wall. Gameplay can seem a bit repetitive at first – go into a room, fix light, go to next room, but you will quickly see that your house slowly grows and adds rooms as you progress. Also as you progress, you have to play hide and seek with the uninvited guests to your home. If you do happen to get spotted, you will only get set back a few hours, not to the start of the game. Knock Knock may not look like your typical horror survival game, but it will have you on the edge of your seat and looking over your shoulder. You can pick up a copy on XB1, PS4, PS Vita, and PC. 9/10
  13. One of the coolest things about gaming today is that you don't have to be into first person shooters or sports games to find something to play on home consoles. More casual games are being released so that everyone has a reason to game with a controller. Word games, puzzlers, visual novels, walking simulators, and point and click adventures are thriving. CowCat, a one-man studio, has released Demetrios - The Big Cynical Adventure, which is a mix between point and click and visual novel. Demetrios is a fun, strange, off beat little game that follows the exciting, mundane and often awkward adventures of Bjorn Thonen - antiques dealer. After a night of way too much alcohol you come home to try and just sleep it off, but you are awoken in the middle of the night by a strange phone call. You are warned of impending danger, but shrug it off as a practical joke and go back to sleep. Soon, there is a loud noise in your apartment that startles you out of your slumber. Being still mostly drunk, you decide the best course of action is to investigate - which ends about as well as you might expect. What follows is a wild ride to discover the secrets surrounding your recent purchase of a bird statue. Soon you are playing private eye, trying to date your cute neighbor Sandra, running for your life, run your business, and jetting off to exotic locales. All while trying to find hidden cookies. The developer must have a serious thing for baked treats, and a devilish sense of humor - because there are 3 cookies hidden in each scene, for a total of 114 in the game. Gameplay is very simple - explore each scene for items and information needed to advance the story and move to the next scene. Some puzzles will require that you travel between a few locations to get all the parts. One of the great things of this game is that you can zoom in and explore almost every detail of each scene. This means that you can see the time spent on each scene. On the flip slip it also means you can spend hours looking for details that have zero bearing on the story, except for the cookies. The cookies can be eaten for hints to either help you when you are struggling with puzzles or the story. The graphics are obviously that of a small studio, but that only adds to the charm of the title. The fact that they hid 3 cookies, very well, on each location shows their attention to detail. Books on shelves have snarky titles, and more. The dialogue is smart, funny, and hits the mark almost every time. When you start the game you can pick how much toilet humor you want, so you can go from downright raunchy to family friendly depending on who is playing. The game offers an interesting story, little penalty for dying (and some good laughs when you do ), and some interesting puzzles. There is a good balance between puzzle and story and you will rarely find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what your next move is. You can pick up the game and play for 10 minutes, or play through the campaign in one sitting. But rushing through this title would be a mistake as there are so many hidden gems throughout the cracks and corner to discover. Demetrios - The Big Cynical Adventure is out not on XB1, PS4, Steam, and Vita. You can add it to your collection for around $10. This is one of those titles that even non-casual gamers should check out for the blend of offbeat comedy, adventure, puzzles, and the vast array of death options. 9/10
  14. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to try to defeat an evil water stealing mastermind while piloting a steam punk bath tub? I mean, honestly, who hasn’t? Well you don’t have to wonder any longer because Chasing Carrots has released Pressure Overdrive where you can do just that. You play as Morgan, a young, carefree soul that lives on the edge of a lake. One morning as you go for your morning dip you realize that all the water is gone. You quickly notice signs for a new spa and understand what has happened. Your lake, and all the water in the surrounding area, has been syphoned off to create this luxury get away and it is up to you to fix things. So you decide to build a steam powered bath tub of doom straight out of Mad Max to liberate the wet stuff and foil the evil mastermind. To beat him you must traverse 30 different levels and beat 3 separate bosses. You can either do this solo, or with a friend in local co-op. No matter how you decide to play, there are 3 different skill levels to choose from. You can have multiple saves going at once, so you can try out different combinations to see what works, or just play with different friends. If the campaign isn’t your style you can always play Endless mode, where you battle wave after wave till you succumb to the enemy. One of the coolest things about this game is your bath tub. Because you are not going to bring an ordinary tub into battle, you are going to bring the big guns. As you destroy enemies you collect gold which can be used to upgrade your tub. Add a bigger gun, more armor, side grinders, rear electric bolts and more. Customize your ride to suit the way you play, but beware everything is steam powered, so if you run low on steam, you will slow down and your fire rate will drop. As you delve deeper into the spa you get a look at a wide variety of locations and enemies. The graphics are bright, colorful, and maintain their integrity as you are zipping through the levels. Each boss has an interesting design that will excite you when you see them and challenge you while you are battling them. You also get a rocking soundtrack to accompany you on your journey. Pressure Overdrive is out now. You can pick it up for XB1, PS4, or Steam. 8/10
  15. I have a confession to make, I am not the most graceful person in the world. In fact, about 15 years ago I shattered BOTH of my ankles chasing after the ice cream man. This little adventure ended with a plate and 6 screws in one ankle and a one of a kind story. So, I live out my dreams of flying high and leaping effortlessly through video games. But, if you ask anyone who has played a game with me that requires precious jumping – my dreams rarely come true. Recently, Grip Digital s.r.o. released DeadCore on Xbox One and PS4 and I got another shot at living out my dreams. DeadCore can best be described as a 1st person shooter, platformer, puzzler, speed runner. It is a mouth full to say, and a handful to play, but it is a wild ride. You have fallen endlessly through strong magnetic storms to awaken in a desolate world. You have no memory, and as you start to explore the world strange message start to appear around you. A huge tower appears out of the mist and you realize that you must climb it to find answers – you must reach the top. The game starts out simple enough, you learn the basics like walking and running. But, it would be too easy if you were running in the wide open spaces, so you are moving on thin platforms that are suspended in the air. Once you begin to get comfortable with the basics, jumps and double jumps thrown into the mix. Soon after you master the art of being a bunny, you are given a rifle to use. The rifle is not just for show. You will use the gun to open doors, disable traps, and eventually take out enemies. You have to be mindful of your aim because you have a limited number of shots. Another neat feature of the gun is that it tracks your time, so during speed runs you have that information right up front. This game is not for the faint of heart or those that are looking for a purely first person shooter experience. You will need some serious skills to get through this game and beat the time trials. That being said – everything in game is executed near flawlessly to make sure that you every chance to prove your worth. The graphics are spot on and the higher you climb on the tower the more dizzying the view gets as you look down into the abyss. One you complete the story aspect of the game you are not ready to hang up your shoes. You can tackle the whole thing over again in speed run mode. But this time you can mix things up and place the sections in the order that you want. This porovides you with almost unlimited variety and endless gameplay options. You can make you playlist as easy or as difficuly as you want. DeadCore is out now on XB1 and PS4. If you are looking for a game that will test you skills, or want to relive the glory days of speed running games where every second counts and precision is key – you need to add this title to you stack.
  16. For the last 4 years I have taken my vacation to Boston to go to Pax East – Penny Arcade Expo – an amazing video game show open to the public, featuring triple A titles and Indie titles alike. One of my favorite parts of Pax is getting to play all the Indie Games that are still in development, months and sometimes years before they are released. One of these games that I got to play this year was Unbox : Newbie’s Adventure from Merge Games LTD. Unbox : Newbie’s Adventure is a one of a kind physics platformer that transforms you into the newest member of the Global Postal Service. The GPS is made up of self-delivering packages, but unfortunately a group of evil boxes known as The Wild Cards have made it their mission to stop you. You must rescue trapped packages, collect rolls of golden tape, beat challenges, collect stamps and defeat world bosses. There is A LOT to do in this game, and the mechanics are very easy to learn. The left stick is used to control the direction of your box. To jump all you have to do is press the right trigger. You can also “unbox” by pressing the left trigger – this gives you an extra jump. You have 6 of these without having to grab any health crates. They come in handy when trying to cross great expanses of water or climb great heights. The campaign features 3 different worlds, each containing a different boss. There also 18 stamps, 200 Golden Tape Rolls, and trapped comrades to rescue. If that isn’t enough for you to do, there is also couch co-op modes. You and up to 3 friends can battle in 5 different game modes, or mix them up and play a tournament. Race, collect gold tape, have the most coins, battle with weapons, or capture the odd box. Each game mode offers a unique way to play with your friends and will provide hours of enjoyment. The graphics of the game are bright and colorful. All of the characters are well designed and some are really cute. For the record – my 14 year old son wants a Hop figure. The music is amazing. The first major area that you are in is an island and you are treated to a soundtrack straight out of the Caribbean. Steel drums transport you to the sunny beach. The next level takes place in the mountains, and the soundtrack takes you to the ski lodge nestled among those snow-covered peaks. Unbox hits many of the right chords for a platformer – lots of game play, solid controls, different and inventive story and of course fun. But it also has a few pitfalls. There are a few occasions when the camera angle can get in the way of platforming. You can control the camera with the right thumb stick, but twisting it can confuse the issue more. The other issue I found was the boss fights don’t always seem to go as scripted. You can quickly figure out how to defeat the boss, but out of nowhere the boss will get hurt some other way, and before you know it, you have won. This isn’t really a huge problem, but I felt a bit cheated not stomping him myself. Unbox : Newbie’s Adventure is available July 26th for XB1 and PS4. It is already available on PC if that is your platform of choice. If you own a Switch, don’t fret – the title is confirmed for sometime 2017.
  17. Iron Crypticle is one of the best Indie games of the year. At the core, the game is a top-down twin-stick rogue-like dungeon crawler with some RPG elements. It is up to 4 player local co-op, and you are a knight navigating rooms in the dungeon to recover the Princess along with the King’s treasures. The rooms for each level are random on each playthrough and with three difficulty levels, it brings a challenge to even the most worthy knight. Each basic room consists of two waves of monsters, which you need to defeat to proceed. The enemies drop food items, which increase your score, and the level of your knight, as well as weapons that you can use for a short duration. The more levels you have, the more HP you’ll have, and the more upgrades you can get on your four stats (Damage, Attack Speed, Movement Speed, and Weapon Duration). There are a few special rooms, but I will not spoil the fun and let you discover them on your own. There is an unlockable system, so as you play new types of weapons will drop, as well as one time use scrolls. One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with games that use a unlocking system like this is an early weapon is one of the best, and the new ones never have any usefulness. This leaves the player in a situation where the pool of items has become so large that they no longer get the good weapons. The developers at Confused Pelican and Tikipod have done a great job with this. All weapons are well balanced, there are weapons that attack at a long range, but do less damage, and close-range weapons that do a lot of damage. The only weapon I did not like was the grenade, as it is the only weapon that does not hit enemies right in front of you, but does massive damage at range. Art is done in a retro style and looks really good, there is a variety of enemies with different attacks and movement patterns, and the music is well done. There are boss fights at the end of each level of the dungeon and it is random which boss, and what version of the boss you get. There is also a New Game+ mode after completing the story once and an Endless mode for many more hours of gameplay. There is a Leaderboard to compete with your friends and others to try to get the highest scores. For such a simple concept, there is a lot to this game. I can tell that the developers took inspiration from the arcade classic Smash TV when designing this game, and they pulled it together perfectly. Iron Crypticle is a really fun game to play solo, and even more fun to play on the couch with your friends. This is a gem in the sea of Indie games.
  18. I have to admit something – I love bullet hell games, but I am not that good at them. Something about the total chaos and imminent death appeals to me. Even it it sends my frustration level through the roof. East Asia Soft has recently released Ghost Blade HD by 2Dream and HUCAST, which is a perfect example of this wild ride. There is no explanation of what the story is. Once you pick which ship you are using, you are tossed right into battle. You will shoot your way through the stage against various enemies until you reach the boss. Kick his metal butt, tally up your score and move one to the next level. If you die too many times, not to worry, you are given several continues, so you will a few extra chances. The game features 3 difficulty modes, and the way they execute them is kind of interesting. Game play is almost exactly the same in all modes. What I mean by this is that there are the same enemies and the same fire rate in all difficulties. The only thing that is different is which bullets actually kill you. This can be a bit confusing if you are playing at a lower level – because it may take a few tries to figure out what is lethal. Also as you go up in difficulty, the game will add a few extra stages. Besides the different difficulty levels, you are treated to a training mode, Score Attack mode, and multiplayer mode. Score Attack allows you to play through the 1st stage to get as high of a score as you can. The one difference is that you have unlimited lives – but you will have to try and do it with as few as possible to preserve your combo, and rack up the highest score. The graphics in the game are vibrant and really pop. You will be treated to a myriad of different enemies as well as profound bosses. Each boss will require you to alter you fighting style a bit, as charging them head on will only end with your ship in itty bitty pieces. Ghost Blade HD is now available on XB1 and PS4. You can add it to your collection for $9.99. This is a really good example of a bullet hell game, with lots of options. 9/10
  19. Many think that the genre of Walking Simulators is something new to gaming, but it has actually been around for decades. These no pressure games just let you explore without worry of death or dismemberment. Many are set in beautiful locales, so they are a feast for the senses. The newest entry into this category comes from Giant Sparrow and Annapurna Interactive under the name of What Remains of Edith Finch. What Remains of Edith Finch puts you in the shoes of, you guessed it, Edith Finch. A young 17-year-old girl who just lost her mom. Her mother left her the family home and a key to something in the house. The house has been abandoned for 6 years, but there are many stories trapped within its walls. So you travel to Orcas Island and begin to unravel your family history, and what has brought you to this place. The game begins with you on the ferry from the main land to your family home. You learn a bit about the Finch Family history as you stroll toward the house. As you progress, words will appear, hovering above the ground to help guide you along the correct path. The sights are truly something to behold. The house looms larger as you approach, and takes on a slightly whimsical feeling, instead of the ominous shadow it originally portrays. Once you enter the house, the story really grabs a hold of you. You learn about your family tree through vignettes about their life. During each story you take control of that family member as they narrate their plot. What sets this game apart from others is the way that each family member tells their story. Each life is represented with a different view, so the art style and music is tailored to that specific person. This helps to show the variety of personalities in the Finch family. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Whether you are strolling through the woods, exploring the old house, or just looking at the family photos that are scattered around the house – the level of detail shown will draw you deep into the story. You begin to feel for all the characters that you interact with – like they are part of your own family. The only real negative that I can find in the game is the length. You are immersed into the lives of this family for too short of a time. Even though you can play through the game in under 3 hours, the story is strong enough to hold up to multiple visits. What Remains of Edith Finch is out now on XB1, Playstation, and Steam. This experience elevates the walking simulator to true art, and should be in everyone’s collection. 10/10
  20. Occasionally, I see a game that looks really cool and I think “Hey that will be a fun game to review”, even if I am not 100% sure how the game will work. SUPERBEAT : XONiC by PM Studios, INC is the latest game to catch my eye and say play me. It is a rhythm game that utilizes the basic controller instead of a plastic guitar or a dance mat – and when I say it uses your controller, I mean it uses almost every button on there. You play the part of a DJ and it is up to you to add in key sounds to each song and keep the beat. As the notes come toward the screen, you have to try and match where it lands with the correct button, control stick or D-pad input. String enough notes together and you will be racking up the points with a huge combo. Miss a note and your combo drops to 0 and your score will suffer. When you first fire up the game you will go through a short tutorial that explains all the controls. Once completed, you will move on to the easiest of the difficulties 4 Trax. This denotes that the incoming notes can only land in 4 spots – 2 on each side. Once you complete that playlist you will unlock 6 Trax, then 6 Trax FX. 6 Trax adds another area on each side, and 6 Trax FX adds even more notes to hit. There is even a Freestyle mode if you want to just take it easy for a while. There are dozens of songs for you to play. And the music is really the star of this game. Songs bridge every genre that you can think of, but most seem to be Japanese artists, so don’t expect any Top 40 tunes on the play lists. One thing that I found a bit disappointing was that the beat you provide for the songs doesn’t seem to fit in well with the music. You start with a snare drum, but as you progress through the game you earn new key sounds like a dog barking and other odd tones. This tends to detract from the music. The graphics can be very mesmerizing. The backgrounds are psychedelic and will have you wondering if someone slipped something into your drink when you weren’t looking. You will delight in the varying waves of color that fill the screen behind the waves of notes that you have to grab. This is not a game for casual gamers. It takes some serious hand – eye co-ordination to get the high level combos needed for good rankings. While you can control the speed of the notes, juggling the controls and trying to hit notes that are flying at you on both sides of the screen. Luckily, the more you play the easier it gets, but the beginning frustration may turn some players off. SUPERBEAT : XONiC is out now on XB1 and will fill the void in your collection for rhythm games. You can add it to your games for $39.99. 6/10
  21. 10 Tons LTD is known for releasing quirky physics based puzzle games such as Tennis in the Face, Baseball Riot, and King Oddball. But their newest release, while a bit quirky, relies more on a vast vocabulary than a knowledge of angles and velocity. Spellspire is word game with RPG elements that will test your brain and your reflexes. You play the part of a wizard that must make their way up 100 floors of a tower, defeating progressively harder enemies as you go. To attack enemies, you must form words from the 10-letter pool you are given at the start of each floor. Words increase in damage the more letters you use. So, a 3-letter word inflicts the minimum amount while using all 10 letters will cause a devastating blow. This means that you will want to save the longer words for the more powerful enemies on the stage. Game play is simple – form words, attack monsters, clear the floor and earn gold. You can then use that gold to buy new gear and upgrade it in the shop. Robes, hats, wands as well as basic health and attack. These upgrades will help you defeat the more powerful enemies and the bosses that reside on each 10th floor. Wands can also be imbued with special abilities such as poison, ice, etc which will have different effects on enemies, so make sure to check out their weaknesses in the Monsterpedia. The health comes into play because if you don’t destroy a foe before the onscreen timer runs out, they will attack you. As straight forward as the game is, the controls on consoles can get in the way of themselves very easily. You use the right stick to move the cursor over the letter you want, then click on it with the A button. Once you have formed your word, you use the right trigger to attack. The word will flash if you have formed a usable word, so you don’t have to waste time worrying if you have input a bad word. There are also about 111,000 words in the dictionary – including many swear and slang words, so you have a lot of material to work with. But when you are rushing against the clock it is very easy to click the wrong tile. The game was originally a mobile title, and the tile selection was done with tapping the screen, so there would be less chance of mistakes. There is a fair amount of content in this game if you are into word games. Each time you play a floor, the letter pool is changed, so you get a new experience. Also, once you beat a floor it is changed to a challenge level. The monsters become faster and you must complete it while maintaining set criteria. If you complete the challenge you will earn a star. Clearing floors, as well as earning stars will unlock new equipment for you to buy in the store with the gold you have earned. The graphics are cartoony, which is fine for this type of game. The enemies are well varied and interesting to look at, even though you will be spending most of your time focusing on the lower right hand corner of the screen where the letter tiles are. The music is upbeat and fits well with the genre. Long gaming sessions may find you lowering the volume, but your brain will probably start to yell at you for missing easy 3-letter words first and you will want to take a break. No matter what platform you play on, you should be able to find Spellspire. You can grab it on iOS and Android for free – in app purchases may apply - so you can play on the go, or grab it on XB1, PS4, or Steam for $ 9.99. 7/10
  22. As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's I think I was exposed to some of the greatest movies and games that were ever released. The proof I have of that is that today Hollywood is remaking most of the films, and the game industry is paying homage to the games and the movies on a regular basis. The latest title to do this is Tango Fiesta by Spilt Milk Studio, a top down twin stick shooter that recalls the days of Smash TV and the co-op play of Gauntlet. The game is set in a world where the events of almost every 80's adventure movie actually happened to a man named John Strong, it is up to you to prevail against the forces of evil. Commando, Predator, Die Hard, Robo Cop, Running Man, and more are referenced. You even get to play as characters modeled after the heroes of those iconic flicks. There are 6 different characters to choose from as you start out your adventure. There are 2 seperate game modes to pick from Arcade and Story Mode, each playable with up to 4 players local co-op. The modes are basically thee same, Story takes you through the 5 worlds in order while Arcade mixes things up a bit. Each world consists of 3 different levels and a boss. In each of the levels you must complete a specific objective - either destroy some buildings, helicopters or shut down communications towers. The other main difference is that in Story mode you are able to pick a primary, secondary and throwable weapon - arcade you are limited to primary and throwable ( your secondary is automatically chosen for you ). The weapons locker in the game is a bit limited at the start of play, but as you play through the game you will unlock a more powerful arsenal. Using each hero, getting a specific number of kills, killing off bosses will all increase your fire power. But this increased popwer doesn't come cheap. Each new weapon will have to be purchased with gold that is recovered from enemies that are killed in game. With several weapons costing over $100k, and only getting $200 for most kills, there is a bit of grinding involved on getting some of the best guns. Game play is pretty straight forward. At the start of each level you are shown the objectives you need to clear before you are dropped into the level. It is then up to you if you want to just run to them, clear them out and move on, or spend time destroying lots of enemies that will keep re-spawning. For the most part you won't have to worry about health or ammunition, as you will see certain enemies with little flags above them saying that they will drop the different resources. But unfortunately they don't always drop what you need, or anything at all. This doesn't usually present a problem until the later worlds when you start to become swamped with enemies. Tango Fiesta can be played solo, but it is exponentially better the more friends you have playing with you. Not only does it make it easier to clear the higher worlds, but it is just a lot more fun slaying throngs of foes with your buddies. But bringing friends along for the ride will present a few problems as well. Friendly fire is on, so you have to make sure you knkow where you are shooting at all times. Not only that, but you all play on the same screen, so if someone falls behind, they will fall off the screen. This can be a bit disorienting for them, so you will have to make sure that everyone keeps up. And with some characters markedly slower than others, this can take a little extra team work. Unfortunately you will have to gather your friends in your game room to play because the title lacks online multiplayer support. No matter if you are looking for a game to play with your friends for a while, or something to pick up to relive the glory days of 80's action flicks, Tango Fiesta will scratch that itch. It is available now on XB1, PS4, and Steam. The title has a sticker price of $9.99. 7/10
  23. C I Games recently released the 3rd game in their Sniper Ghost Warrior series, aptly named Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Now before I get too deep into this review I have to lay a few cards on the table. The first is that I have not played either of the first two games in the series. The second is that I was taught to shoot by a Marine Corps Sniper who served in Vietnam, then rotated back to the states to become a Scout Sniper instructor. While I am not a complete expert on ballistics, I do know my way around a weapon. So with that out of the way - let's begin. The game begins with a prologue mission, which serves to set up some back story for our main character, John North and act as a basic tutorial. You are introduced to different types of movement, weapons, attacks, ammunition, and the equipment you have at your disposal. The mission centers on John and his brother Robert, another sniper, when they are sent on a classified mission to scout and clear an enemy base. But things don't always go as planned. Fast forward a bit and our story continues. John is now in Georgia - the country, not the state - and he is on assignment to help out the locals and destabalize the seperatists. This assignment takes on a lot of different roles. Your missions will vary from intellegence gathering, hostage rescue, termination of most wanted targets, and creating general chaos. The regions that you operate in also contain dozens of points of interest for you to explore. These points contain different smaller missions for you to complete. Some may require you to save civilians, some have you track down needed supplies, while others simply serve as fast travel points around the area. Regardless, they add some depth and more time that you can spend in the world. These side missions will also help you increase your skill, gather supplies so that you can craft resources and help you explore the landscapes. Most of your traveling is designed to be done in your car. Your exit your safe house, hop in your ride, drive to your mission, park and go through the objectives. Once complete, you exfiltrate the area, return to your vehicle and drive back to the safe house to get your next set of orders. Unfortunately, things tend to go pear shaped when you really don't want them too. Many times once you complete a mission and return to where you stashed your ride it has vanished. This means you are left to run back to a fast travel location or in some cases all the way back to your safehouse since you are not able to grab any of the other cars that are in the world. You can work straight through the story and be done with the game or take your time doing the optional side missions and hunting the most wanted targets as you like. This offers a bit of variety in the flow of the game. It will also allow you to travel between the different regions of the game, explore more, earn and find more of the weapons of the trade. One of the most crucial aspects of the game is the shooting mechanics. It is after all a sniping game. Most of the weapons you use you will have to take distance, elevation and wind speed into account prior to your shot. Only a few high powered / high tech sniper rifles are immune from these factors. You will also have to take enemy armor into your calculations. At 100 yards you may be able to get away with a headshot against an enemy wearing a helmet, but at 400 + yards that same shot will require armor piercing rounds to ensure a killshot. It is nice to see kinectics and ballistics taken into account. The other interesting aspect is that each round fired through a silenced weapon will degrade the attached silencer until it is destroyed. The only way to counter this is to repair it in between missions when you are at your safe house, or carry repair kits with you. The amount of noise you make can influence if the enemy hears you, but this seems to vary a lot. I have been crouched and had an enemy on the far side of an objective take notice of me and one that was less than half his distance to me pay no attention to me. I have also been able to run full speed up to enemies over 30-40 meters and they didn't bat an eye before I was able to "stealth" kill them. If you are spotted, you can usually go prone and simply vanish. If things do go sideways with your mission and a fire fight breaks out, if you are able to move your position, and don't return fire for a minute or so the AI figures you have bugged out and they continue their regular patrol patterns. Graphics in the game are really good. There is a good diversity of enemy types and they are rendered well. Environments are set up beautifully, and there are a few very interesting destinations used as set pieces. The slow motion kill shots are well done, but can get a bit repeatative if you are only going for head shots, and let's face it - we are all trying to pop them like ripe melons for the extra points. The music is upbeat, regional tunes that go well with the setting. The sound effects also help to enhance the game astetic whether it is the howling of the wind, or the howling of the wolves, you will begin to feel like a lone sniper on a mission where survival is solely up to your skills. As fun and interesting as this title is, it does suffer a few setbacks. The 1st is one that you will see right off. Really long load times when you start up the game - like start up the game and go make a sandwich long. These usually only happen at the start of each session, but they are very frustrating. Next, as I mentioned, there is a good chance your vechile will not be where you left it. Also multiple times as I played I encountered the same bug. I would shoot someone, the game would go into the slow motion kill shot and stop just before bullet impact and I was taken back to the moment right before I pulled the trigger. This means you have to re-adjust and try the same shot 3 to 4 times. You can also clear objectives, get an in game notification they are cleared and then get shot my a random enemy that has been re-spawned. The story is interesting, if not predictable, but will give you many hours of engaging gameplay. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is out now on XB1, PS4, PC, and Wii U. You can pick it up now with a season pass that includes extra content for $59.99. I reviewed the game on XB1. 7/10
  24. Last year GameStop announced that they were going to enter the game publishing arena. They were doing this through GameTrust - a PR firm that would help developers get their titles to market. The newest title to roll out under this label is Deformers, a game that was developed by Ready at Dawn. It is hard to put Deformers into a category, because the game contains 2 different genres. There is a soccer game ( Form Ball ), so it could be placed in sports - but it also has Death Match and Team Death Match modes, so it can also be added to action. For ease we will put it under the broader category of party games. In the game you play as a blob and will pick one of several skill sets. They will increase your speed, endurance, shooting skill, etc. Unfortunately there is very little diffence in preformance no matter which skill you pick. So it is down to the game mode you decide on. Form Ball is effectively soccer. You and your teammates try to outscore the other team by getting more goals. Youo can rush into the ball and "kick" it, or you can pick it up and carry it to the enemy goal. You can also just ignore the ball and take out your opponents to gain extra XP and make it a bit easier to score. Team Death Match and Death Match just remove the ball and place you on different maps where the only objective is to vanquish the enemy. They do add in special attacks that you can grab if you are quicker than your foe. As you complete games you level up, earn XP, earn coins and gain the ability to purchase new Deformers and accessories. These "upgrades" are purely cosmetic. You can buy new skins for your blob, but that will not improve their skills, the only thing that will do that is to play the game and improve your skills at the game. But you will have to deal will some frustrating hurdles along the way. When you start up the game for the first time, you are greeted with the game choices, there is no tutorial, no local multiplayer mode where you can learn the controls. You have to jump into an online game to even see how the game plays, let alone figure out the controls. The 2nd hurdle is finding an online game. The title gives you the choice of searching for a game of a specific type or just any Deformers game. Even searching for any game it can take 10 - 15 minutes to find a match depending on the day and time. Even then there may only be 1 or 2 other people in the lobby. I played on the XB1, so things may be different on other platforms. The graphics in Deformers are good. The arenas are well rendered and vary well between areas. If you play several games back to back you will probably end up playing the same map as there is not a large library. The skins for the blobs are cute and really make the game interesting. There is a wide variety of goofy animals to unlock, and accessories to add on to them. The graphics do take an odd turn if you play online splitscreen. The screen is split horizontally 50/50, but if you play 2 players, each screen takes up about 70% of the top or bottom of the screen (1st player top left, 2nd player bottom right) . This means that the screens overlap a little in the middle and there are black bars in opposite corners. It makes for a very awkward playing experience. The music goes well with the game, but doesn't stand out. Deformers is out now on XB1, PS4, and Steam. You can pick it up for $29.99. 5/10
  25. Artifex Mundi, the company that has been bringing their hidden object PC games to consoles, has released another one of their titles to the XB1. Lost Grimoires - Stolen Kingdom, is the latest of their catalogue to make the migration to the console world, and it is a title in a series that has not yet been seen there. The story starts out with you returning home after being away for many years. Your father disappeared, your mother passed away, and you were raised by a family friend, the kingdoms alchemist. He trained you as his apprentice for years so that one day you may take his place in helping out the kingdom. But once you return home you quickly realize that the kingdom is not the peaceful place it was when you left. The gameplay is similar to the previous titles from the developer. You must find objects in hidden object puzzles and complete mini games to advance the story. One thing that sets this title apart from others is your alchemy abilities. You will have to find objects and transmute them to create spells. To transmute items you will have to play a mini game where you place the elements in the proper position of a ring puzzle. But this game is lacking a few items that we have seen in previous titles. Stolen Kingdom features a main story that can be played in either casual or expert mode. Missing this time around is an epilogue. There is also no alternative to the hidden object puzzles. This cuts down on the variety and the re-play value. Since there is no change in the hidden object items or placement, when you play through on the higher difficulty, you can breeze through it fairly quickly. This means that you can get throughboth difficulties in under 4 hours. The graphics are beautiful. There are multiple locations that show you all different aspects of the kingdom from the simple town square to the opulent throne room. The music plays well with the scenery and helps to heighten the suspense where needed in the story. Lost Grimoires - Stolen Kingdom is out now on XB1 and has been available on PC for a while. You can pick it up on your prefered platform for $9.99. 7/10
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