Review: That Dragon, Cancer (PC/Steam)

See the source image Seldom does a game come around so powerful that it leaves a long-lasting impact on the player. An experience so dramatic, that is forces those who played it to reflect on their own lives in the real world, outside of the game. That Dragon, Cancer is that game. That Dragon, Cancer is a two hour-ish click adventure game that you can play on PC via Steam or iOS device around $10. That Dragon, Cancer focuses more on narrative than it does gameplay, a trend that has led many titles being dubbed as walking simulators (some positively, others not so much). That Dragon, Cancer however is one walking simulator you should play. It's true, there is not much more to do in That Dragon, Cancer besides walking around and interacting (point & click) with objects. In the short time you’ll play the game you will encounter a curveball here and there that spices up the fun. Whether it is a kart race around a room, some interesting puzzles to crack or a side-scrolling retro platformer, there are parts in the game that add enough interaction to warrant That Dragon, Cancer classified as a video game and not just a visual novel.

Gameplay, however, is just the means used to convey an engrossing story which is the focus of That Dragon, Cancer and yes, I’m trying to remain vague as to spoil as little as possible. What I want to tell you is that the story is gripping, grueling, unsettling, warm, and overall paints a pragmatic and unidealistic portrait that conveys the love a parent has for a child. I can honestly say that That Dragon, Cancer is the hardest game I’ve ever had to play through. Not because the the game is difficult to play or understand mind you. As a father myself, the narrative is so harsh and down to earth, it brought me to tears. Not necessarily because the tone is grim, which it is through more than half of the game, but because very few times have any of my experiences struck a cord so close to home. I, as I’m sure many of you, have all been affected by this unbearable disease. What I love most about That Dragon, Cancer is that at no point did the game become a billboard soliciting support. We all have been inundated with the global outpouring to rally and fight for the cause at some point, which is very admirable. But I will at least admit that it's very daunting to keep up with.

That Dragon, Cancer aims to provide a window through gaming into what it's really like to deal with cancer on the home-front. In this case, a child named Joel, who isn’t a fictional character at all. Ryan & Amy Green (the designer and writer for the game) actually lived this experience with their real life son Joel who was diagnosed with cancer (atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors) when he was just 12 months old. Joel would struggle and fight his diagnosis until he was 4 years old, overcoming the original 4 month diagnosis. This is their story. An unabashed, tearful, but real look into your worst nightmare as a parent. The personal notes, letters, and dialog all meld together to convey the strength and endurance that proves the power of true, unfaltering love. The moment I realized my experience was related to someone’s real life, everything immediately became less video game, and more storytelling. At times, I felt like Ryan & Amy were telling me their story in person, like we were having a Skype session on my computer.

All Humans Safe - Nex Machina Review - PS4

The screen pulsates with pink neon lasers, flashes of light and gleaming skulls that chase after me, while I dash and dodge around, searching for humans and trying to stay alive. The latest title from Housemarque, Nex Machina is an amazing visual spectacle and the pinnacle of the twin-stick shooting genre, which the Finnish developer owns almost exclusively. (Graceful Explosion Machine on Switch notwithstanding.)

The pace is frenetic from the moment your hero hops off his motorcycle and into the fray of attacking robotic spiders. Each of the six worlds is broken down into stages where the goal is to simply clear out all of the alien robot enemies and “save all the humans.” Nex Machina does a great job teaching you its mechanics as the difficulty ramps up quickly.

The game’s four difficulty levels provide an extreme level of challenge. While I made it through on Rookie during my first playthrough, I still used a few continues. Each run gives the player up to 5 lives, after which you must use a continue. On Experienced, you get 99 continues, and on down to only 5 for Master level difficulty.

Even Experienced, just one up from Rookie, provides an even greater challenge. The trophy list encourages players to complete the game without dying or while rescuing every human — including the secret ones — finding secret exits, destroying specific types of aliens and more. Even though a single play of arcade mode can take as little as 45 minutes, Nex Machina rewards replaying the game as you refine your technique.

There’s also an Arena Mode which pits players in direct competition with other players as you strive for the highest score in a specific world.

I haven’t talked enough about how the game looks, or how the electronic soundtrack fits perfectly. I’d never heard of a voxel before Resogun, and Nex Machina makes the earlier game’s voxels look downright primitive. The environments are gorgeous and varied, and even amid mass chaos, it is clear where the player character is on on screen at all times.

Thus far, I’ve been able to complete Rookie Mode and make it to the final boss in Experienced. (Well, the final boss that counts for a trophy...not the Nex Machina boss at the end…). The game is supremely difficult and can feel downright punishing at times.

During a run, you will upgrade the power of your weapon and dash mechanic, as well as unlock powerful secondary weapons. All of these upgrades can be lost in a matter of seconds with even a brief lapse in concentration; and if you are facing a later boss with the default weapon, you might as well start the whole run over. At the same time, this sharp difficulty seems extremely fair. If you take your time with a level, learn where enemies spawn and power-ups are hidden, you can get through anything.

Nex Machina is the most fun I’ve had playing a game since I defeated Ganon in Breath of the Wild earlier this year. Full stop. It’s my second favorite game of the first half of the year, and my favorite game on the PS4 this year. In a year filled with amazing games — Horizon, Nioh, Nier, MLB The Show, The Golf Club 2 and many more — that’s saying a lot.

I want to improve my score in the Rookie difficulty; I’m driven to reach Nex Machina in Experienced, and I want to explore each of the difficulties. I want to discover all the secrets, save all the humans and beat Kyle’s high score. I won’t stop until I get there.

Mr. Shifty Review - Switch

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Mr. Shifty is a game with a lot of potential that, at launch at least, is rendered nearly unplayable by performance issues on the Nintendo Switch. In a game that is fully reliant on having quick reflexes, and where one errant move can erase minutes of progress, these issues are unacceptable.

During my playthrough, I died tens of times due to lag. The game slows to a stop when a weapon breaks; or when things explode; or when too many enemies are on screen. Mr. Shifty also crashed on me twice near the end of particularly difficult levels, causing much frustration as I had to trek through the levels again.

I didn’t play a single level that didn’t have some level of frame dropping, out of the 18 levels. On the craziest levels, I died nearly 50 times — not entirely due to lag, but at least partly.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/mr-shifty-beta-download.gif" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

And, yet: I pushed through. Mr. Shifty has a great gameplay loop, with a sort of remix on the excellent gameplay found in Hotline Miami.

In Mr. Shifty, the titular character is infiltrating a skyscraper with the goal of stealing Mega Plutonium from the building so that the evil mastermind on the top floor can’t use it for some nefarious plot to take over the world. Or something.

Mr. Shifty has a special power to warp around the level. With a simple button press, you can zip around through walls, doors or behind enemies. Shifty has a limited number of shifts that he can make at a time, with a lengthy reset if you use too many at once.

While enemies have guns ranging from pistols to machine guns, shotguns and dual-wielding pistols, Shifty can only use his fists and other melee-centric items he might find, in addition to a few weapons he can through. Other enemies include big brawlers and guys with bombs. Each level presents a different puzzle to get to the end. While setting a plan is important, improvisation is even more important, as your initial plan is likely to go awry.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/C.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

This improvisation is the key as to what I liked about Mr. Shifty, and why I couldn’t put the game down until I beat it, despite the performance issues. Punching enemies is relentlessly satisfying, and the bullet-time effect that comes into play after many successful attacks makes you feel like you’re Neo in The Matrix.

The story presented in Mr. Shifty is scant and forgettable. You’re a special agent of some sort trying to stop Generic Bad Guy from using Generic Bomb Matter Thing to take over the world. After beating the game, there is little incentive to revisit the levels, unless you want to beat them faster or in fewer deaths. However, as there is no online leaderboard or achievement system, the game doesn’t provide external motivation to replay it.

Finally, the last showdown with the boss is unsatisfying and anticlimactic. The final level leading up to it is immensely difficult, and I couldn’t help but feel let down by the final “fight.”

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PslLAK67vSM" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

As I said up top, Mr. Shifty is a really good game with solid mechanics and a lot of challenge. It’s got a lot of style, and the 3-to-5-hour playtime is plenty for the price point, even without much incentive to revisit it.

The biggest problem for the game is the current technical issues on the Switch. It’s bad enough that I think the game should not have been released until the issues were ironed out. The developer has stated that it is working on fixing the issues, but as of this review, the game is just in too rough a shape to recommend.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Score" number="45" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Mr. Shifty was purchased and reviewed by the author on a Nintendo Switch console. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Review: Sublevel Zero Redux

Greetings Koopalings! Donnie here from Play Some Video Games to review a new addition to consoles - Sublevel Zero Redux. I used this review opportunity to dust off the Xbox One in the office, but you can play Sublevel Zero Redux on your PlayStation 4 or a PC using the Steam client. I streamed the game three times using Beam on Xbox One, but so far have had difficulty downloading them to add to our YouTube page. When I get this ironed out, I'll add the Let's Plays to this review but thanks for those that tuned in to watch. Sublevel Zero Redux is a new first person shooter / procedurally generated roguelike from independent studio Sigtrap Games (@SIGTRAPgames).  The big sell with Sublevel Zero Redux is its six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) in which you're piloting a gunship both left, right, up, down, forward and back in three dimensional space. As with many roguelikes of recent memory (Don't Starve / Binding of Issac), Sublevel Zero Redux also features permadeath which means no lives & no saves. It's not a style of game I would recommend to all gamers, even I can't claim to be a fan of the genre, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the experience.

Presentation

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider color="#000000" show_divider="on" divider_style="solid" divider_position="top" divider_weight="1px" hide_on_mobile="on" admin_label="Divider" disabled="off"] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" admin_label="Text" use_border_color="off" border_style="solid" disabled="off"]

The game features a tron-like art style of neon glowing retro-bit blocks and warm colored environments. The use of color and contrast is very attractive. Its a modern take on classic game art and it is quite enjoyable even if simple.  Aiding the presentation are some sweet, sweet tunes. The music and sound effects definitely help to sell the the sci-fi setting. Weapons also fire with great visual and audio effects which continues to build an immersive experience. I definitely recommend pulling out some headphones so you never miss a beat.

Equally good as the audio & visual direction are the mechanics. Guiding a ship with six-degrees of freedom in 3D space isn't something often implemented in video games. The sheer amount of negative combinations that could result in a player trying to harness such movement has to be a nightmare for any developer. I'm happy to report that Sigtrap Games has largely pulled it off. Controlling your ship through the winding hallways and connected rooms is pleasant from the start. It wasn't until my 4th or 5th run with the game that I began to really settle into the groove, but once it clicked, it was very rewarding to zip in and out of doorways blasting away with mini-guns and rockets before switching to grenades while dodging on-coming attacks with a barrel roll. There were a few occassions where my ship turned it's axis when I didn't specifically want it to, but it never impeded my progress or adversely affected my playtime.

That's all to say, the game really impresses "for an indie game." I don't mean to sound derogatory at all, we all know independent studios have largely taken up the non-AAA video game scene. However, even with that said, there are very few indie games I've played that have this level of polish regarding performance. I didn't experience a single frame rate stutter, a crash, or any other technical issue worth reporting. Considering how ambitious the goal to deliver six-degrees of freedom is, Sigtrap Games deserves some major kudos for a job very well done.

Gameplay

The game begins with a small cinematic explaining that the universe is literally falling apart. Wormholes open randomly, swallowing galaxies, planets, ships, people.... you get the idea. You enter an ancient facility that is behind all of this chaos in an attempt to save the galaxy. Ultimately the story is a forgettable one and is probably the easiest stone to throw at Sublevel Zero Redux. The world is so well constructed, it feels like a missed opportunity not to have some dialog between characters or more cut-scenes in between levels. I could imagine some Firewatch like dialog from your gunship back to homebase or an operator really adding some depth to the adventure.

Death is permanent with this game and you're going to die at least a handful ,if not a couple dozen of times (at least I did). The maps are procedurally generated after each death which keeps the game feeling new every time. As you progress through each labyrinth, you encounter several floating robot combatants that move as you do and also fire projectiles for you to doge. It's pretty standard shooter stuff but it makes for an enjoyable loop due to the superb control you have over your ship. The hook here is Sublevel Zero is one of those 'Just One More' type of games. You'll never feel as if you were robbed from glory or that you weren't good enough. There's always a hint of... "I can do this, just one more go" with Sublevel Zero Redux that will bring you back beyond your first successful run.

To add just a little more flavor to the dish, you can upgrade and outfit your ship, as well as unlock new ones. As you progress though each sublevel, you'll acquire materials and weapons that you can use to equip and upgrade new weapons and hulls. You can equip two sets of primary and secondary weapons which you can quick swap in combat with the right and left bumpers. Honestly I found crafting mostly a random affair as I never truly knew if I was actually upgrading over my previous tools. I was largely just clicking menu options periodically as they became available as there's little in the way of guidance and instruction for this portion of the game. Additionally, the loot drops found in chests throughout campaign never seemed to really upgrade my ship in a tangible way.

Value

Sublevel Zero is unlike anything out there and there isn't a strong direct comparative for Sublevel Zero Redux on consoles. At best, this game compares to Forsaken on Nintendo 64 or the niche-popular PC game Decent from the 90s. I imagine many other reviews for Sublevel Zero Redux might mention that the game is short as some negative statement. While it is true that this game can be beaten fairly quickly (3.5 hours for me on my first day) it is a rogue-like and meant to be played through multiple times. This is where my biggest flaw with the game comes into focus. The loop began to grow stale on my third run through the game, which isn't the best criticism for a Roguelike. The game is fun to play but has very little motivation or purpose for completing the quest let alone completing it for a second, third, or multiple runs. There's little diversity in the environments making everything feel the same no matter how many different times you die and hit the reset button.

I'd offer that the amount of gameplay available coupled with the better than average music, style, and control justifies the Andrew Jackson ($20) out of your wallet.

Conclusion

Sublevel Zero Redux is the type of game that coined the phrase "for fans of the genre/series." I wish there was a lot more here from a plot perspective, even an occassional boss battle would have been a welcome addition to the formula. It's just unique enough that I'd recommend this game the next time you're in-between big releases and want to get into something new. It's a wonderful option available that won't require a 60 hour (or dollar) investment to enjoy.

Sublevel Zero Redux is a great example of why we have come to love independent studios. With Sublevel Zero Redux the Sigtrap team attempt to bring something fresh and new to the often "too-similar" first person shooter market and the experience is worth taking a flier on.

 

Sublevel Zero Redux was reviewed using an Xbox One code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

HOMEBOUND Review (PC VR)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] It seems to me that nothing good ever comes from being in outer space. Whether you’re on a ship or a space station, some bad stuff is going to go down at some point. It could be aliens blasting first and asking questions later, it could be asteroids just shredding your hull to pieces, or maybe you just forgot to bring extra fuel and now you’re stranded. No matter what the issue, space is like one big bad luck charm.

Things are no different in HOMEBOUND, a virtual reality title from Swedish studio Quixel. You fill the shoes (or space suit) of an astronaut on a space station orbiting Earth. An on-board AI guides you through a few tasks on the ship, familiarizing yourself with the controls and mechanics of the game. You’ve got two hands for grabbin’ and a flashlight for shinin’ and that’s it! After you complete a couple of mundane tasks things get real. An unknown object strikes the station! Before you know it you’re blasted out of the room and fighting to get back.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ss_20ed0a2683498b95d19ac703276df039bcd139d0.1920x1080.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="top" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Now, here’s where things got a little confusing for me. During my playthrough, I could hear the HAL like companion talking, but I couldn’t make out anything being said over the noise of the station going down. There are objectives to complete, even once all hell breaks loose, but they made no sense. I got back into the ship after being blasted into space and my objective was to find a book. Well screw that, I’m finding the escape pod! So that’s what I did. I got myself in the escape pod and left, and that was that. You are treated to a nauseating ride back to Earth and boom, end of game.

HOMEBOUND is a visual treat. The space station looks excellent, with lighting effects that make the area feel realistic. It looks like something NASA would have put together. The sound also helps sell the realism factor, when it’s not fighting over itself for your attention. Audio levels seem to be a bit of an issue, as well as audio cues that might play at the wrong time, depending on how much you explored the ship.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ss_6f5a9f8a478b0553f59ce20ad5d962d5131cdf77.1920x1080.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ss_1cde4f90e1ba9d4da7f3ba04b969332c3cfde605.1920x1080.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="right" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Moving around the ship takes some getting used to, however. Because you are in zero gravity, you can move up, down, strafe left and right, forward and backwards, and turn left and right. The way these movement controls are mapped to the controller make it a little confusing. I found myself blasting upwards when I meant to go forwards, or strafing instead of turning, and since you are using both sticks at the same time to get around, I found myself having to stop, reset, and move forward, then up, then turn, until I got my bearings again. It proved to be rather frustrating, and since you are in a hurry, it’s even more so. All that moving around, especially while turning, can lend to a bit of VR sickness, even for someone like me who doesn’t suffer from it as much as some people.

Overall, I’m baffled by HOMEBOUND. What seems like it could be an interesting experience turns out to just sort of be confusing. One minute you’re gathering floppy disks, and the next you are scrambling to survive. It all seems very disconnected as an experience, almost feeling more like a theme park ride than a space-faring mission, and since the space station is limited in scope and lacks character, I couldn’t find a reason to return to the game. HOMEBOUND displays some promise from a technical standpoint, but as little more than a tech demo, the value of the game is diminished significantly. With other space adventures to have on VR platforms, I can’t recommend HOMEBOUND to anyone but the most space-experience hungry of gamers.

HOMEBOUND is available now on Steam. HOMEBOUND was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" number="42" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_blurb admin_label="Blurb" title="TL;DR" url_new_window="off" use_icon="off" icon_color="#000000" use_circle="off" circle_color="#000000" use_circle_border="off" circle_border_color="#000000" icon_placement="top" animation="top" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_icon_font_size="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

HOMEBOUND is not much more than a space themed tech demo with little replayability, but it sure is pretty to look at!

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Old Time Hockey Review (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] A hockey game on the PC has been unheard of since the dark ages of 2009, when EA released their last NHL game for Windows computers. Since then, you either had to pony up for a console or cross your fingers and wait. Fast forward to 2017, where the puck shaped voids in our hearts are only growing larger as we wait for a hero to answer the call, and what do you know? An independent studio has decided enough was enough! It was time to pull the jersey over the heads of those “triple A” studio chumps and give ‘em what for! Ladies and gentleman, I give you Old Time Hockey!

Old Time Hockey is inspired both by classic NHL games like NHL ‘94, as well as hockey movies like Slapshot. The game brings back the glory days of the late 70’s, when helmets were optional (let’s be honest, no one wore them) and concussions were just excuses for wimps to get off the ice. With such inspiration, you might think that Old Time Hockey would be strictly arcade-like, with limited controls and game modes. Well, yes and no.

During a game you control all five skaters much like you would any hockey game, switching between whichever player will accomplish the task, whether that be hitting someone off the puck or ripping a slapper for the top shelf. The controls feel very comfortable, you can use the simple two-button approach or go for the advanced scheme. If you are familiar with the control scheme of EA’s NHL franchise, the advanced controls will feel right at home. Skating with the left thumbstick feels right, with the physics a little more on the heavy side and things like momentum and weight make an impact here, but you’re still able to skate accurately once you’ve had some experience.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/vlcsnap-2017-03-26-20h48m56s541.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

The same story applies for shooting with the right stick, although it was a little hard to get used to in the two button scheme. In either case, you can aim your wristers and slappers, making it feel as if you are actually getting scoring chances instead of just pushing a button and pelting the goalie until the game decides you can score now. No matter which control scheme you choose, there is a slight delay between button press and action on screen. This will most likely lead to double pressing buttons or just mashing the button until your player does what you want him to, often times too late for that sick pass or sweet scoring opportunity. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible, as far as I can tell, to set up one-timers. Personally I would recommend playing with the advanced controls, since some new options open up to you on both the defensive and offensive side of the ice. Poke checks, dumping the puck, and protecting the puck all require you to use advanced controls, and you can bet a bag of pucks the opposition will be using these moves against you. Speaking of opposition, let’s talk AI, starting with the opposing teams. Each team has a rating for offense, defense, and fighting, but as far as I can tell, these numbers don’t necissarily mean much out on the ice. When you play against the computer the other team will have no problem using poke checks, hooks and hits to get the puck from you, and the refs tend to fall on the side of “Let ‘em play!” but since this is the ‘70s era, it’s to be expected. It’s not odd to find only one or two penalties called per game, and some games will go by without even one! Just don’t lay the lumber on too much and you should be able to fend off the attempts for the puck.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/vlcsnap-2017-03-26-20h56m41s806.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

As for your own team, I did notice a few things that I personally would have liked to see out of my team. Since you can’t control things like aggressiveness on the forecheck or your team breakout from your zone, you’re playing with your team as opposed to leading it. However, sometimes this means pulling a player out of position to pick up the puck in front of your net, frantically switching players until you get the one closest to the puck, player position be damned, or trying to set up a 2 on 1 only to have your teammate come to a dead stop at the blue line. It can be frustrating at times, but you’ll end up adapting your strategies and learn when you can and can’t pull certain plays off after logging enough time with Old Time Hockey. In fact, you will have to if you want to unlock the advanced controls. More on that in a moment.

It wouldn’t be a sports game without game modes, but if you’re looking for a general manager’s mode or even a season mode, the closest you’ll get is story mode. Story mode sees you playing as the epicly bad Schuylkill (skool-kill) Hinto Brews, the game’s version of the Chiefs, as you pull the team out of the dregs of amatuer hour in the Bush Hockey League. Starting with a cool zero stars in each of the three stats for overall team performance, it’s your job to turn the ship around and start winning and improving the team. However, you won’t do this by making trades or running practice drills, instead, you’ll play games in the scheduled season and learn how to play Old Time Hockey with mandatory tutorial objectives spread across mutiple games. So in your first game you might learn the basics of hitting and shooting, then three games down the road you’ll learn about dumping the puck and hip-checks.

Until you complete the entire tutorial, you will not have access to the full repitoire of moves in exhibition mode. Thankfully, as you unlock moves you will be allowed to use them in story mode, which is nice considering your rivals will be using moves against you that you might not be able employ at the time. It’s an odd choice considering many people who will be turned on to this game will already understand the basics of these skills and, like me I’m sure, will be frustrated that you cannot use them from the very first puck drop. Other than story and exhibition modes, there’s not much else to see or do in Old Time Hockey. As of yet online multiplayer is absent, the only multiplayer being local exhibition mode with up to four players.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/vlcsnap-2017-03-26-20h47m05s134.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

The game looks and sounds unique, to put it nicely. Player models look about the quality of a Nintendo 64 game, albiet in HD. Jerseys are colorful though, and an outline effect over each player makes the action easily readible on screen. Fluid animation and a smooth 60 FPS also contribute to how clearly it’s all presented. The sound all works, skates cut the ice as you’d expect, shots ring off the crossbar, and players even yell at the refs, just like you’ll be doing when they don’t call a penalty! The music is licensed, and while I doubt you’ll be adding most of the songs to your playlist any time soon, there are a few that stand out. I’m just thanking the hockey gods that there doesn’t seem to be any generic, royalty-free stock music. You know what I’m talking about, the kind of stuff you hear on free mobile games. Old Time Hockey is presented in a package that actually conveys a sense of time (the 70’s) and gives you a bit more to bite off than “it’s a hockey game, press start to play hockey”.

When the final buzzer blares and the ice is cleared, Old Time Hockey is a good sports game, standing at the precipice of greatness and is extra special for those PC and Nintendo gamers, who’ve really got the high stick when it comes to hockey games on their favorite platform. It’s not without it’s faults, but with as much potential that exists here for future updates, such as adding features like a team creator, player creator, logo and jersey creator, online multiplayer, season mode, stuff like that, this game could really build a following, depending on how much support the game is given after release. It’s not beholden to the whims of the NHL or some large corporate entity that decides whether or not next year's iteration will be just another roster update. However, I can’t judge a game by what it could be, only by what it is today. The decision to lock the advanced controls is probably the biggest drawback I can think of right now.That said, Old Time Hockey is a good ol’ hockey game that bridges the gap between simulation and arcade sports title. It’s meant to be played for the fun of the game. I mean, it has a beer control mode so you can drink beer and play the game at the same time, for Gordie’s sake! If that’s not sports game innovation, I don’t know what is.

Old Time Hockey is available March 28th on Steam and Playstation 4 and is coming soon to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Old Time Hockey was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Final Score" number="81" percent_sign="on" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfj0EKoL37I&feature=youtu.be" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Flywrench Review - PS4

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Flywrench is a somewhat-abstract game that has players controlling a short, white dash through varied environments toward ever-more-difficult goals. Storywise, the game says you are a spaceship navigating through space and unlocking different gates as you journey from the outer-reaches of the solar system (Pluto) through to Earth.

Each level plays out as a frenetic puzzle in which you guide your white dash through and around different-colored obstacles — hold X to get through a red obstacle, square to go through green — as you try to get to the gate. A successful run through a level could take anywhere from a second to 30 seconds, though the most difficult levels will demand multiple tries.

Flywrench offers an “easy” mode that lets your ship bounce off the yellow barrier that outlines the levels. The normal mode makes you start over when you hit the wall. I played the “easy” mode and still found myself re-playing levels multiple times. This is a really tough game, though failing starts you almost instantly at the beginning of the level.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOnvJf7d-TA&t=133s"] [/et_pb_video][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

The art is minimal, and the music is entrancing. When I really got going in the game, I could just kind of zone out to the music and have a great experience. Levels are quick to get into with just a push of a button, and when you’re on a roll, you can really blast through.

As you progress through the game, each planet adds a new element that makes the game more difficult. Buy the end, you’re needing to manage flying with tumbling, pressing buttons for different amounts of times and even dealing with environmental obstacles like increased gravity. Flywrench is pure, unrelenting gameplay.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.flywrench.com/img/capture-fw-02.gif" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

My biggest problem with the game stems from the nagging feeling that I was lucky in completing many of the levels. Figuring out a level isn’t exactly taxing on the brain, as the solution is readily apparent once you understand the mechanics of the game. Your success depends purely on your ability to execute quickly. But many times, I found myself doing the same thing 15 times in a row, only to finally grasp the goal through what felt like luck. Thus, I didn’t receive the same feeling of accomplishment as I do in defeating a boss in a game like Bloodborne, or solving a puzzle like in The Witness. Without that sense of accomplishment, I just don’t have the desire to push through some of the more difficult levels.

At a budget price, Flywrench is worth playing if it sounds and looks like your kind of game. The soundtrack is great and the game is fast and mostly fun, even without the complete sense of accomplishment. The game is so fast sometimes, however, that I am not sure I can recommend it for gamers susceptible to seizures, as the transition between levels has somewhat of a strobing effect.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Score" number="78" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Flywrench was reviewed using a PSN code provided by the developer. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy and scoring descriptions on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Review: Splasher

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Horrifying experimentation. Death-defying leaps of faith. Buzzsaws of DEATH. These are the challenges that await you in “Splasher”, a new platformer available now on Steam from SplashTeam. The best way that I can describe this game is if Splatoon, Portal, and Super Meat Boy had some crazy love triangle baby….this would be the end result and it totally works. Get ready to test your precision, speed, and timing in this crazy run through Inkorp.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Story

The story for “Splasher” is minimal at best, but it merely gives you purpose and honestly, you don’t need anything else to enjoy this game. You take control of our young hero, a Splasher, who is part of the janitorial staff at Inkorp. Discovering that the evil, no...NEFARIOUS, factory boss Docteur is doing unspeakable things to your fellow Splashers, it’s up to you to stop him. Taking up arms with your splatter cannon, you are off to save the day.  Again, a simple setup that provides all you need to enjoy some platforming action.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/docteur.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/water-jump.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Gameplay

Now to the core of what “Splasher” has to offer, its gameplay. The splatter cannon grants our hero special abilities, reacting to the various ink found within Inkorp. The initial function, spraying water, allows you to wash the ink away from surfaces, think of F.L.U.D.D. in Mario Sunshine. It’s the basic ability and one which you will first utilize. Slowly the game introduces a red Stickink, which allows you stick to and walk along surfaces. Master this and soon you will come across Bouncink, a yellow substance that lets you ricochet great distances. This is what “Splasher” ask you to do, utilize these abilities to safely navigate each section while attempting to save your fellow Splashers scattered across each level. This may sound easy and heck, it was easy at first, but just like Meat Boy, the difficulty gets extreme.

Regardless, it was a blast soaring across each stage, dodging obstacles and getting myself killed over and over during the process. Even when repeatedly failing to reach the next checkpoint (yes, this game has a checkpoint system, you’ll need it) I had a smile on my face. Oddly enough, the best strategy was often to go as fast as possible to survive the next obstacle. You’ll definitely see the influence speedrunners had on this games development, heck, there are even specific modes tailored to this exact type of game. I would love to see this played at a future AGDQ event or something similar!

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUMaL4kN3pA" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

I should also add that the game controls great, very fluid and responsive. I never once could blame the controls or physics for an untimely death, simply human error. A must for a game of this style and calibre.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Graphics & Presentation

“Splasher” has a great hand-drawn look that harkens back to the days of flash games on Newgrounds, personally I loved it. The music is great and provides a pumping soundtrack to keep you going. The colours are vivid and the different ink styles really popped against the backdrop. It’s simple and honestly, that’s all you would want for a game of this focus.  Anything else would tend to muddy up the play space and make things harder on the actual player.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/train-lazer.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/acid-pit.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Each level is connected by an overworld section of Inkcorp that will have you back tracking and criss-crossing over your previous route. Honestly, I did not care for this setup. I wanted to get back into the action as quick as possible, right onto that next stage. Unfortunately, I would have to spend some time traveling to the opposite side of the staging area to locate the newly unlocked level.  The time attack or speed run modes likely remove this issue, but I did not spend any times specifically within those modes.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/spike-goo.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/laser-death.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Final Thoughts

“Splasher” is a fun game. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was treated to a great platforming challenge. While I would like to see a bit more variety in the level design, perhaps a few more “chase” sequences or maybe some sort of “boss encounter”, the constant taunting of that jerk Docteur kept me going. I definitely want to check out some of the pros speedrunning this title and I want you to give it a run as well.Splatter cannons up!

Look for it soon on Xbox and PS4!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_blurb admin_label="Blurb" url_new_window="off" use_icon="off" icon_color="#000000" use_circle="off" circle_color="#000000" use_circle_border="off" circle_border_color="#000000" icon_placement="top" animation="top" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_icon_font_size="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Quick Hits

+Gameplay             -Level Variety

+Controls           

+Challenge

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" number="85" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Splasher was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the developer. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Linelight Review - PS4

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Simplicity can be a be a beautiful thing. In the new puzzler Linelight from creator Brett Taylor, simplicity is absolutely the attraction.

In Linelight, which just released on PS4 this month and is also available on Steam, players control a short white dash that travels along a line collecting yellow stars. Along the way, you need to go through colored gates, collect keys and avoid the yellow and red dashes that can end your turn.

When you do get caught or stuck, a simple button press lets you start from where you left off with little time missed. The music is gorgeous and peaceful, while the screen contains only the puzzles — there is no user interface clogging the screen that distracts you from the experience. In some ways, the game’s aesthetic reminds me of Thomas Was Alone, except minus humorous narration of that indie darling.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="https://linelightgame.com/screens/gif_v0.4.2_01.gif" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

I’m going to make a confession: I am typically poor at puzzle games, and even some puzzles within action games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Linelight, however, does a superb job in teaching you the mechanics of the game. Each of the six chapters opens up with easy intro puzzles that teach players that chapter’s mechanic.

The puzzles build in complexity throughout the game, but the solution for each puzzle is always directly in front of you. Many times when I had difficulty during the game, all I needed to do was take a break. The solution usually presented itself by the time I restarted, and always gave me a sense of accomplishment.

As I write this review, I am currently stuck at a spot in the sixth and final world, but I am confident that I will get through it. Thus far, I have collected every star in each world. Many of the stars are necessary in order to progress, though not every star is. Additionally, there are many bonus stars to find, which has the potential to add to the longevity of the game.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="https://linelightgame.com/screens/gif_v0.4.2_03.gif" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

If there is one potential fault to Linelight, it would be the game’s longevity and replayability. The game is plenty long, taking anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes per world. Add in the bonus stars, and I could see Linelight providing five or more hours of rewarding gameplay. But once you complete the game — which does include a Platinum trophy — there will be little incentive to revisit.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Linelight and think it is a must-play for puzzle game fans. It is relaxing, rewarding and well worth your time.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Score" number="90" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzzO_wuBO4k&feature=youtu.be"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Linelight was reviewed using a PSN code provided by the developer. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy, as well as an explanation on our rating scale, on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Review: Bleed 2

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Do you remember waking up early on a Saturday morning? Your parents are still asleep, you stumble downstairs into the kitchen and make yourself a huge bowl of whatever sugar rush providing cereal you can find. Plunking down in front of your television set, the sand fading from your eyes, the vibrant lights of cartoon action and wacky sounds engross your attention. With each bite you fall further into the void of childhood bliss. This familiar childhood dimension is where Bleed 2 resides. Bleed 2 is a fast-paced, arcade action game that never lets up.  Developed by Bootdisk Revolution out of Toronto ON, it is a follow-up to the 2012 release Bleed. First off, I have to give props to Ian Campbell and the rest of the small team for pulling this off. I love to see what quality can truly be produced out of a labor of love, and it is very apparent based on the dev blogs and just playing this game that there is a personal interesting in its development. Why keep you waiting, it’s time for my tried and true patented PSVG review breakdown!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/12.png" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Story

The player assumes the control of young Wryn, the world’s greatest and apparently only remaining hero! You just had your latest video game session interrupted by space invaders bent on destroying the Earth! How dare they! Beyond this brief intro and some newsreel narration between each level, that’s all you get here. Honestly, you don’t need anything more. This game is not about the story, that’s merely a vessel to get you between each high-action and boss-butt-kicking sequence! Just jump in!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/6.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Gameplay

Bleed 2 features 7 level with over 25 boss fights to take on. This is what the game is all about, the actual gameplay. Wryn has a couple different abilities that you will really to master (I haven’t yet), in order to succeed at this game: shooting, reflect bullets, triple-air-dodge, and slow time. Be prepared to have a ton of enemy fire coming at you all at once and you must chain together these skills to not only survive, but to also get that high score. Reflectable shots are color coded and it was always easy for me to tell what I would be able to reflect and what I couldn’t. After an initial control swap, the game feels tight and responsive. Any deaths were due to my own error and I never felt like the controls were to blame. I ultimately felt most comfortable with mouse/keyboard as I really needed that extra aiming precision to feel confident. Gamepad controlled equally as well on PC, I just did not care for the twin-stick layout.

Deaths may occur frequently, but at least on normal difficulty, the player has unlimited continues and can jump right back into the action where they left off. The key to progression is accurate control input combined with pattern recognition. Two very key components of this genre. Bleed 2 succeeds in this area. In addition to the story mode, players can also tackle arcade AND there is even a co-op option, which as of this review going up, your author has not yet experienced. Arcade is essentially the same game as the story mode, however, you only have 1 life and can claw your way up the leaderboard. New to mix things up further? The game offers 4 difficulty modes that swap up set-pieces, enemy placement, and boss patterns! Very cool stuff.

Bleed2_Review_2

With that said, I’m not sure there if there enough here to keep players coming back for more. I was rewarded with unlockable characters and weapons after completing the story and with it only taking around 45 minutes to do so, there is opportunity to enjoy this game repeatedly, but will they do so? I think this will weigh differently on each individual player. I personally would like to improve my overall performance and would love to be able to put the game through its paces on a higher difficulty. Will that drive you as well?

Audio and Presentation

Bleed 2 has a kickass soundtrack! That’s all I need to say. Each level gave me an accurate level of hype thanks to the tunes rocking in the background. Just watch this announcement trailer and you will get a pretty good idea of what awaits you:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUloJK7nw7g[/embed] I’m very much reminded of classic flash games on Newgrounds when I play this game. Very gratifying, short bursts of action. The art style appears to be 16-bit pixels and I feel that it fits the game perfectly. There was no slowdown on screen and the game flowed nicely. The action ebbs and flows and Bleed 2 definitely does not take itself too seriously. Re-read my Saturday Morning Cartoon intro once more and all the pieces will fall into place.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/10.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/8.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Final Thoughts

Bleed 2 is very enjoyable experience. The blast of music, colors, and action totally make this game a great palette cleanser to enjoy it short bursts. While it may not have the hooks to keep your attention in the long run, what you will be able to experience in short the term makes up for it. This is a great improvement on the groundwork that was laid during Bleed and I look forward to what this dev creates next!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_blurb admin_label="Blurb" url_new_window="off" use_icon="off" icon_color="#000000" use_circle="off" circle_color="#000000" use_circle_border="off" circle_border_color="#000000" icon_placement="top" animation="top" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_icon_font_size="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Quick Hits

+Gameplay             -Replay Value

+Soundtrack           

+Presentation

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" number="84" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pCJQiptvo8"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Bleed 2 was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the developer. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Conan Exiles Impressions (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] I have a confession to make. I’m not that familiar with the Conan world. Yes, I’ve seen the movies at some point in my life, but I didn’t really ABSORB them. I probably should have but sometimes I can’t be bothered because of reasons. I’ve seen the comics, I know there are books, but Conan’s world is not something that I’ve ever been into. However, what I am into is video games. Someone had the idea to make a MMO Conan game, no not Age of Conan, I’m talking about Conan Exiles. Well, I thought it was an MMO game, but that’s not quite accurate. I played Conan Exiles for about an hour, you can watch that mess below. I’ve watched some of the developer streams based on the game, but I must have missed the most important one. More likely, I wasn’t paying attention when they made it clear that Conan Exiles is a survival MMO in the vein of Rust or maybe ARK: Survival Evolved?

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4licdCL_FI" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Gameplay begins about 13 minutes in.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

This is a very early access version of the game and it shows. I was hoping for some kind of guidance or path to follow, but you are plopped into the world and meant to carve your own path. Much like Rust you start with nothing but your man dong or lady lumps flapping in the harsh desert wind. Believe me when I tell you that there will be sand and it will get everywhere. Without any direction, I set forth in a random direction and saw what there was to see. It was a sight very familiar to my eyes, the landscape gave way to a desert oasis littered with player-built structures that were half decaying, left abandoned and broken in the baking sun.

 

I wanted to gain the respect of denizens of this server (much like Rust, you choose a server populated by around 50-80 players at one time) so I decided to check my crafting recipes to see if I could make some stuff! From what I saw, much of the recipes will rely on players teaming up to gather resources, because recipes at the moment require a lot of ingredients, like branches, wood, stone, and plant fiber. So if you are forever alone like me, you’ll be busy harvesting and not doing much of anything else.

 

In my hour playing the game, I experienced a ton of rubberbanding, I had to lower the graphics settings considerably to make it playable, and I was not able to connect to an official server at the time, so instead I played on the closest to me that was filled with players. During that time, I only ran into a couple of players, they didn’t respond to me and mostly just minded their busuiness. I realized later that, because of the lag, the voice chat wasn’t working that well, which explains why no one else responded. I did fight a couple of creatures, the combat system is very simple. First, you hack. Then you slash. Repeat. No special moves or anything at the moment.

 

Other than that, there’s not much to say at the moment. Conan Exiles is very much like any other survival game you have played, especially Rust. There’s not much story or lore in the game, quests, or anything else that I could find to do. Keep in mind this impressions article is coming from someone who played this alone and without much Conan knowledge, so your experience may be different. If you’re not into the survival genre, I’d say keep following news on Conan Exiles until the experience is a little more fleshed out, because for now, it feels like an empty sand box.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Wells Review (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] There was a time, mainly during the 80’s and 90’s, when all you had to worry about was running to the right of the screen and shooting anything that crossed your path. It worked for Contra. It worked for Gunstar Heroes. Heck, it worked so well for Mega Man that we needed about forty seven games and spin offs. Now, about thirty some years later, Wells, a game available on Steam and Xbox One, hopes to revive the formula of the “run and gun” one more time.

This game comes to us from Tower Up Studios, a Brazilian studio formed in 2014, and is indeed their first release on Steam. In Wells, you play as, well, Wells, the titular steampunk… um… automoton man? It’s not particularly clear what he is, but he is steampunk and he wears a hat and wields a gun and that’s all you need to know! Anyway, Wells is “a notorious smuggler from Percepolis, the city of the new century” and he wants to “get even with the clients that tried to murder.” Right, so that was taken verbatim from the game’s website.

Murder who? Why? While there are cutscenes in the game that try to explain what is happening, there is a very large disconnect between the storytelling and the player. These cutscenes do not convey any actual story besides showing that Wells is chasing after someone. Part of this issue is also due in some ways by a language barrier. The game is in English, however, you’ll notice there’s just something off about what little dialogue and exposition Wells contains. With the small amount of story elements to be translated, it’s hard to give them a pass on how poor a job has been done here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h55m11s236.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" alt="Did someone order the brown level?"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Does this look better in all brown?

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h59m03s100.png" alt="Or the grey level?" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Or all grey?

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

As a game that has taken inspiration like the aforementioned Gunstar Heroes, Contra and Mega Man, controls and design are everything. Wells controls well enough, if a little stiff. This is worsened by the choppy animation. Shooting with the mouse is accurate enough and moving around with the keyboard works fine. Oddly, I never tried using a controller and I don’t think I would want to. The enemy placement and level design make it difficult to imagine playing with a controller, since flicking back and forth from left, right, and above requires the type of reflex control afforded by a mouse. You also pick up four other guns besides your starting weapon, and each seems interesting, but there isn’t really any indication or reason for these weapons. They are just there. Here’s some guns! Don’t question it!

Enemy AI is fairly straightforward, and boss fights almost seem ripped from other games. There’s the airship ala Mario Bros 3, a large mechanical spider you might see in Gunstar Heroes, a giant robot you might have experienced in Contra: Hard Corps. It’s nice to go back to a formula where there are these monstrous bosses waiting for you at the end of the level, but it all seems so uninspired given the possibilities of the steampunk genre.  There are some moments that are challenging due to enemy placement, and it’s during these times you get a hint of that retro gaming difficulty that borders on unfairness. These moments require positional awareness, deft weapon switching, and accuracy, as well as an eye on your regenerating health bar. Level design is quirky, the game starts with the classic “run right” mechanic, but then starts to move into more of a “run right, now run back to the left, now zipline into the background and continue left, drop down and run right” type of design that seems nonsensical. The levels feel arbitrary set up, with no real reason for these winding paths. Feeding into this dizzying navigation are the graphics, which sometimes make it difficult to differentiate what you need to focus on from everything else.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h57m07s764.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" alt="It's Bowser's floating airship!"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Contrary to popular belief, this was not Bowser's famous airship.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Looking at Wells is a bit of an eyesore. It’s not so much what has been created that’s a problem; the design of Wells, and indeed the rest of the enemies and environments, translate well enough. However, the overall palette of the game, all browns and greys, combined with the extremely flat lighting, make for a look that seems very plain. This does a huge disservice to the game, where the success of this genre lies in it’s visual creativity and acuity to tell story through setting, ambience, and design. That might be one of my biggest issues with Wells, nothing here is memorable. Wells is just a steampunk man, the enemies are non-descript, and don’t seem to fit together, the city has no life or story to it. It all seems so empty and uninspired.

Speaking of uninspired, let’s spend a quick minute on audio. There’s not much to say, this was probably the most overlooked aspect of the game aside from story. The sound effects are weak, particularly with the guns. What few utterances Wells delivers are of extremely low quality and tell us nothing of the character. The music is largely forgettable, suffering from a lack of varied instrumentation. The exception being the Oil Platform stage, where mechanical ticks and clunks break up the monotony of cheap music production. Once again, completely uninspired.

Putting all of this together, Wells is a game that seems to have taken inspiration from games in the 90’s, but may have been shackled by those inspirations. The game lasts but two hours, which, for this type of game isn’t unheard of, but the price and quality for those two hours is severe. The threadbare story and overall design of Wells makes for a game that lacks any sort of character or lasting impression. For me, that is the real tragedy here. When playing Wells, I could sense the backbone of a decent game, there was some genuinely decent work put into it. Wells functions as the bare minimum of a “run and gun” shooter. Unfortunately, Wells suffers from an overall design issue that keeps the game from being memorable. I would be interested in the next release from Tower Up Studios, as there is a solid foundation to the game, but maybe next time the studio will release something a bit more polished. But for now, sitting at an overpriced $9.99 on the Steam store, it’s hard for me to recommend Wells.

Wells is available now on Steam. Wells was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Final Score" number="48" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Review: Alwa's Awakening

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] The sunlight cuts through your slumbering daze like a razor blade. Your surroundings are unfamiliar. How did you get here? Where are you supposed to go now? A stranger approaches with a request, no, a statement. You have much to do, so much to do… No! This isn’t the recovery of a wild Friday night, this is “Alwa’s Awakening”! It’s time to embark on a quest!

Alwa’s Awakening is a NES-inspired punch of nostalgia, very much cut from the same vein as 2014’s popular platformer, Shovel Knight. Players assume control of a young hero named Zoe, who was mysteriously sucked into the land of Alwa during a late night video game binge. Growing up gaming in the 80’s this game his all those familiar notes of my childhood, but will it do this with success?

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_3"][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AlwasAwakening_cover.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Story

AAlwasAwakeningReview_Zoes I briefly mentioned, Zoe finds herself inside the world of one of her video games.  Waking up in this strange land, she is greeted by an old woman who lays out the tragic tale.  Zoe is the chosen champion who must defeat the 4 protectors, light the eternal flame, and destroy the evil Vicar to restore peace to this land.

While it may be short and generic, this is the exact type of storyline games gave us back on the NES.  It provides a perfect backdrop and just enough detail to place the player into the game and motivate exploration through the many perils ahead.  There is also a nice little cutscene in the intro to further paint this story's picture. Just wait until you see the ending...

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AlwasAwakening01.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AlwasAwakening03.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Gameplay

Now it’s time to dig into where Alwa’s Awakening really shines, its gameplay.  This is a “Metroidvania” platformer through and through and it hits these notes perfectly.  Players are free to explore the game world in any direction they please, however, certain areas are only available after a necessary upgrade has been obtained. Zoe has been given a magic staff that provides a basic melee attack, but she is able to acquire 3 colored gems unlocking a block, bubble, and bolt abilities respectively. Theses skills unlock new areas but also highly factor into the precision platforming the player will need to perform in order to collect extra items and just progress through sections of the game.  

There is no tutorial world. There is no handholding. The game perfectly ramps up its difficult and teaches you everything you need to master simply by playing the game. I was chaining together spells and making short work of enemies at a pace that felt just right, and believe me, you will need it. I do have to say, I was surprised with final boss, there were definitely some harder fights along the way than what he provided em. Warp points are placed within each zone to provide a bit of fast travel and the game utilizes save point “shrines” to save your progress. Zoe can only receive damage 3 times before death in which you will find yourself respawning at the nearest save point. There is even a nifty death counter to just remind you of how awesome you are playing….

AlwasAwakeningReview_Map

Presentation

Alwa’s Awakening nails the NES era look and feel. The sprite graphics look great and the colors really pop. The chiptune soundtrack is excellent and there are 25 original tracks for you to enjoy. There really isn’t a whole that I need to elaborate on here. For me, the game just hits all the marks I would be looking for. It claims to be NES inspired and beyond a few technical improvements that the old hardware could not replicate, this game feels right at home in that 8 bit style. A great success by the small team at Elden Pixels.  Well done!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AlwasAwakening08.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AlwasAwakening10.png"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Final Thoughts

This game feels like a real gem. From the puzzles, to the difficulty, to the overall execution, I applaud as a success. Yes, there were definitely controller-throwing moments when I was in a frustrated fit of RAGE, BUT, that again perfectly goes with the era the developers were going back to. You are going to have stupid deaths, and you are going to have to repeat some sections a few too many times. That’s what these games made you do. I only wish that that the game could have been longer, but again, that would be out of place on the NES…  loved Alwa’s Awakening and I think you will too.  Alwa’s Awakening is available now on Steam for Windows and Mac and I highly encourage you to pick this up. I only hope that with success on PC we might see a few console ports in the future.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_blurb admin_label="Blurb" url_new_window="off" use_icon="off" icon_color="#000000" use_circle="off" circle_color="#000000" use_circle_border="off" circle_border_color="#000000" icon_placement="top" animation="top" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_icon_font_size="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Quick Hits

+Gameplay             -Length

+Soundtrack          

+Presentation

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" number="94" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/7BCfMWloeFU"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Need more Alwa’s Awakening?  Check out my “let’s play” videos over on our YouTube Channel.

Alwa’s Awakening was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the developer. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Maize Review (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Corn. I like it. I like popcorn, steamed corn, corn on the cob with salt and butter. I even like corn muffins! But one question you must ask yourself when playing Maize is this: “Do I like sentient corn?”. After my play through of Maize, I can definitively say that yes, I do like sentient corn. I might even love it.

Maize is a first person puzzle/adventure game that sees you, the player, waking up near a field of corn with no memory of anything before that very moment. How did I get here? Where is here? What were those weird, blurry cornstalk looking things shuffling off in the distance? These questions will all be answered in time, but only if you seek those answers.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161203142733_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161203140728_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="right" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

I think I may have began Maize in the perfect scenario in that I knew absolutely nothing about the game going in. I read the short description on the Steam store, I installed the game, and then I plopped right into it. Honestly, that might have been the best approach because the sweetest, butteriest corn on the cob that is Maize is the storytelling. It starts off slow, letting you get a bearing of your surroundings, giving you more questions than answers. But solve a few puzzles and before you know it you are falling down the rabbit hole. And that is a good comparison to make, because much like Alice in Wonderland, you feel like something just isn’t right about this environment and things just seem a bit odd. Everything from items you pick up to notes you read are coated in a layer of sometimes clever, sometimes corny humor. Finish Line Games really went the extra mile to instill a sense of personality to everything in the game, be it an English muffin or a note you picked up.

That’s all I shall divulge about the story, because chances are, if you are reading this review you most likely haven’t played the game, so instead let’s get into the nitty gritty about what makes this game tick. First of all, I mean just look at this game. I took way more screenshots than I should have of this thing, but everything just looks so scenic and pretty. From sweeping hills filled with cornstalks to strange rings jutting into the sky, everything looks interesting, and I’d often find myself ogling the environment. Accompanying the visuals is a soundtrack that, while not extremely varied, was an unexpected treat with it’s synthy goodness. Not to mention the one song… well I won’t mention it, you just have to play the game to find out.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161203140753_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="top" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Maize controls pretty much how you’d expect a first person exploration game to control. Which is fine by me, because you’ll be doing a lot of walking and exploring. In fact, you could say that, in part, this game is nearly a walking simulator. I did play with both keyboard and mouse as well as an Xbox One controller, and at the time of play the controller seemed to have a few missing features. Of course there are puzzles to be solved, but most are in no way challenging. Instead, they are there to amuse and entertain; to further the story and give the player something to do. Personally, I didn’t mind this one bit, I was having too much fun trying to figure out just what was going on with this crazy farm to worry about anything else. I was ready to be entertained and Maize delivered that entertainment.

 

It’s not all neat rows of cornstalks gently swaying in the breeze though, I did have a few issues with unstable framerates. The game looks great, almost like a water painting, but it comes at a cost. This would probably be my biggest complaint, it just didn’t play as smoothly as I wanted it to. However, since there’s no need for quick reaction times or anything, it didn’t affect the gameplay much, just my enjoyment. As I said before, the game isn’t difficult, but I think that is more by design than lack of ingenuity. Instead of getting frustrated with figuring out solutions to puzzles that would halt your progress, Maize offers you all the tools to put the solution together and move on with the story. Speaking of story, I loved it. However, it does run a bit short. Maybe a couple hours more could help ease the pain of dishing out twenty bucks for the game, but at least there isn’t any padding or empty content. I don’t think I’d want to play 10 hours of this type of game, so to me, Maize does not overstay it’s welcome.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161204200737_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161204202305_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="right" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Let me reiterate something: Maize is a game about telling a story. A lot of people complain that games aren’t original these days and to a certain extent I agree. That’s why I like Maize so much. It told me a story unlike any other I’ve heard. It presented me with characters that, while maybe not the most complex, were certainly personable and fun. Sure it’s an experience that doesn’t last particularly long, I clocked in at four hours by the time I reached the finish line, but I will tell you this, I thought those four hours were quality stuff, and I’ve had a lot less fun in that time frame with other games I’ve played. If you can appreciate Maize for what it is, a delightful story told through the medium of a video game, then you are in for a good time. Give it a go, I think you’ll be as delightfully surprised as I was.

Maize is available now on Steam. Maize was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" number="83" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000" /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour Review (Xbox One)

However, even though Duke Nukem 3D will forever remain one of the great shooters that gave us the modern shooter era, the game’s re-release assumes that this shooter formula will not just attract old fans, but be a competitive and re-playable for newer and modern gamers. Is that a good assumption?

Read More

Astervoid 2000 (PC/Steam)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] There are two words that rarely get tied together in the same sentence when related to gaming. Those two words are “couch” and “co-op”. In a time long past, it was simply known as “two-player mode”. With the advent of the internet and online gaming, we were no longer relegated to huddling around a small screen in the dark like some kind of primitive cave men. Enter Mad Capacity studios, a developer looking to blast a photon bomb sized hole into the notion that couch co-op games are dead with their title Astervoid 2000.

Astervoid 2000 takes inspiration from the arcade classic Asteroids, but in this indie arcade title, it’s not the asteroids you need to worry about as you pilot one of a handful of ships to choose from. The real threat are the other ships in your slice of space that are gunning to blow you into another dimension. And if that happens? Well, it’s game over man. Game over.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Astervoid-2000-Ship-Select.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Starting the game, you can choose from the survival single-player mode, or, if you actually have friends, you can play the versus mode. Yeah, it’s not so much co-op as it is shooting pew pew lasers at each other, but let’s not argue the semantics. Once you’ve done that, you choose a ship, a color, and away you go! In a game that focuses on 2D-space combat, it better run like silk, and Astervoid 2000 does not disappoint. Every move is smooth, aiming is tight, and other ship’s and obstacle’s movements are translated visually in a meaningful way. It’s not too difficult to keep up with the frantic action that appears on screen.

Piloting your chosen vessel you can move in 360 degrees, shoot in 360 degrees, do a sort of dodge boost, and charge your weapon for a more powerful shot. It might sound simple, but with that combination of moves it makes for a game about skill and hand-eye coordination. There are no special moves, no upgrading your ship, and nothing to unlock. You simply rely on your skills to get you through. Since I have no one to play with, I tried my luck against the AI. It’s fun for a few rounds, but got old quickly.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Astervoid-2000-BATTLE.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

During all the spacey goodness you might not have much time to check out the visuals on display in the game, but the presentation and graphics are great, recalling the 16-bit era of gaming. The ship designs are interesting to look at, with some classic looking ships and others that are a bit more fantastical, and as far as I could tell they all perform the same. The sound is also on par, especially the music, provided by LREVG. There is a soundtrack edition of the game available on Steam, and if this time of music is in your wheelhouse then it might be worth it to pay the extra to get said soundtrack.

But for how good Astervoid 2000 looks and sounds, I can’t help but feel like there was a missed opportunity to bring online multiplayer into the game. If you don’t have a group of people with which to play the game, then you are stuck playing against the AI, and that is rarely fun in any game. As much as I can appreciate the couch co-op mode in games that feature it, the mode serves little purpose to me 98% of the time.

Astervoid 2000 is a finely crafted game that has quite a bit of quality work put into it. It’s just a shame that it’s a game that is limited by what it has on offer. Without an online multiplayer aspect, it’s difficult for me to recommend the game without the caveat that it’s local only. I would like to see this game released on a console, where couch co-op is more typical, but I don’t know if that is in the works. Finally, at $9.99 on Steam, I think that might be stretching the limits on what I would pay for Astervoid 2000, it just feels more like a $4.99 game. In the end, this is a quality game, but without much content or replayability, that might make this game a derelict ship, floating alone in the vast blackness of space.

Astervoid 2000 is available now on Steam. Astervoid 2000 was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_number_counter admin_label="Number Counter" title="Score" number="83" percent_sign="off" counter_color="#000000" background_layout="light" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_number_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/Gh9SNHkFBWo"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Hide and Shriek - Impressions

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Now here is something interesting, friends, a 1v1 scare competition to see who can frighten the other player more, while also scoring the most points. I’m talking about Hide and Shriek, available now on the Steam store for the low, low price of $5.99. Initially, viewing screenshots and gameplay videos give you an idea of what the gameplay might be like, but it doesn’t really convey that there is more to this game than you might think at first glance.

Hide and Shriek tasks players to find color coded orbs (red or blue, depending on your randomly determined color), gaining points for cashing said orbs on your altar. The challenging part is that your altar moves from time to time, forcing you to move around the environment. Why does that matter? Well didn’t I mention? You’re invisible to each other! It may seem kind of confusing at first, but you cannot see your enemy and they cannot see you. However, interacting with doors and lockers or carrying orbs gives your opponent a clue as to your location. And once they find you? Look out, cause yer gonna get spooked!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/vlcsnap-2016-11-02-20h32m19s790.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Setting up the game and challenging another is as easy as hosting and inviting someone from your Steam list to play with you, so getting into the game is a snap. Once you start the game you’ll notice a “rune throw” before the festivities start. These are random runes you collect during your high scoring adventures to cast spells and set traps. This keeps the gameplay fresh and makes sure each game plays slightly different than the last. Speaking of keeping things fresh, delving into the menus reveals customization options, unlockables, and other treats to keep you playing past the straight-forward concept.

Utilizing the Unreal 4 engine, the game looks and sounds good. The high school hallway and accompanying rooms look spot on and are appropriately filled with random bits and bobs to make the world feel lived in, aside from the fact that you don’t see any other living being while playing! Sometimes the spells you cast don’t exactly have any panache to them, but for the most part everything is a delight to see play out.

 

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/nUeeDQozS9g" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

There’s not a lot to be upset about with Hide and Shriek, it’s price point accurately reflects what you can expect from this small but unique game. However, this is one game I think that would actually benefit from having VR implementation, since most of the gameplay simply revolves around exploring and picking up items. Either way, if you have a friend to play with, you could have a very fun and frightening time with Hide and Shriek.

Jason's Take:

I was very surprised by Hide and Shriek.  I went in expecting very little out of this game and actually had a lot of fun during our play sessions.  The invisibility factors adds a layer of tension and strategy to the game.  I definitely had some great reactions to the “shriek” moments, and yes I can even admit I was “scared” a couple of times.  As Lucas already mentioned, there is a nice little layer of unlocks/customization to keep you coming back. I did have a bit of a performance issue, with my game not wanting to transition back into the game lobby without some freezing and an apparent lag out.  Nothing horrible though.  Hide and Shriek is a fun little game to mix things and I definitely recommend giving it a shot with one of your friends.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Lithium: Inmate 39 Review

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Video game stories have grown up in the last few generations. Every year more developers are creating games with mature and dark themes that television and movie cinema have embraced for decades. It’s not the violence or graphic nature of these kind of stories that draws me in but the realistic representation of real world problems.

Lithium: Inmate 39 doesn’t shy away from the issue of mental health and in fact the game is based on that exact topic. I was excited to jump in and see what developer CanuArts had created after reading about their creative process during development. Lithium lets you control a lemur-like creature that represents the game narrator, a psychiatric patient in a mental health facility.

 

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Unfortunately, CanuArts may have been too ambitious with the gameplay and design of Lithium as I found it hard to look beyond the myriad of technical and design issues that hinder the potentially interesting story. I usually enjoy a good puzzle platformer whether it be 2D or 3D but Lithium manages to be frustrating at both aspects of the game.

Platformers require tight mechanics and smooth game play particularly in a 3D environment with puzzles. I found myself repeatedly dying not because I couldn’t solve the puzzle rather I never had good control over my character while running, crouching, or jumping through the levels. Several animations in the game are slow and cumbersome making it difficult to solve puzzles quickly when under pressure. Adding to my frustration is the fixed camera angle that the game defaults to anytime you load your most recent checkpoint. I would be shocked if the developers weren’t inspired by the original Resident Evil as the camera is very much the same except the fixed angle is not executed well in Lithium. I will note that the developers patched in settings to change the camera to a traditional rotating view but that setting resulted in game crashes when used in any small environment.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/lithium-4.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

I like indie games and I understand the limitations that small independent studios run into while developing new games. Lithium was never going to be a polished graphical powerhouse so I expected lower quality textures, less detail, and maybe even sparse environments. With that said, I still felt the look of Lithium felt low quality. Art direction could be greatly improved as well as enemy design, some enemies feel bland and un-interesting while others are encountered so often that any interesting design or visuals wore out their welcome too fast.

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_gallery admin_label="Gallery" gallery_ids="7302,7303,7304" fullwidth="on" show_title_and_caption="on" show_pagination="on" background_layout="light" auto="on" auto_speed="10000" hover_overlay_color="rgba(255,255,255,0.9)" caption_all_caps="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

CanuArts doesn’t knock it out of the park with their first game but Lithium does have some creative puzzles and an intriguing story. With over 200 puzzles spread throughout a series of chapters, many of them feel like obligatory obstacles between the few cleverly designed puzzles. Every chapter is bookmarked by an intricate battle against a monstrous creature. These boss battles are one of the highlights of my time spent with Lithium. Outsmarting some of these grotesque monsters involved using a series of mechanical traps, switches, and maneuvers. It’s frustrating that the well-designed areas of the game are limited to a handful of chapter endings.

The story of Lithium: Inmate 39 is minimal with the only narrative coming at the beginning of every chapter. What Lithium is lacking in a narrative story and dialog it makes up for with a good atmosphere and not so subtle documents found before the boss battles. Each chapter boss is the representation of an inmate that you can read about in said documents. I found the premise of Lithium to be intriguing but would have liked to see some more creative story telling.

Lithium: Inmate 39 could be a good indie title but it is hampered by camera issues, frustrating puzzle design, and a lack of overall polish. Despite the shortcomings of this horror/puzzler, there is something to enjoy about the premise and ambiance of Lithium. I can’t recommend purchasing this game but with a few well developed patches CanuArts could showcase some of Lithium’s good aspects and remove some miscellaneous issues.

Lithium: Inmate 39 was reviewed using an Playstation 4 code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG's  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_post_title admin_label="Post Title" title="on" meta="off" author="on" date="on" categories="on" comments="on" featured_image="off" featured_placement="below" parallax_effect="on" parallax_method="on" text_orientation="left" text_color="dark" text_background="off" text_bg_color="rgba(255,255,255,0.9)" module_bg_color="rgba(255,255,255,0)" title_all_caps="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_post_title][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Review Score" number="40" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Syndrome Review (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a simple man who enjoys simple pleasures. You need look no further that my personal tastes in entertainment. I like horror. I like sci-fi. I like it when horror and sci-fi are splashed together in a delicious cocktail of blood and that weird, glowing blue liquid everyone seems to drink in space. However, when it comes to video games, I need a little more. I need the atmosphere, the spooky, creepy, scary stuff. But I also need the gameplay, the systems, the fun.

I present you with Syndrome, a first-person horror/sci-fi game released on Steam, thrown into the mix with many other first-person horror games available on the platform. You play as Galen, a man who was cryogenically sleeping before all hell broke loose. Upon entering the game you wake from your deep freeze to discover that you have no idea what’s going on or why it’s happening.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20161020155009_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20161021141412_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="right" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Soon enough you are contacted by some folks via radio, and before you know it you are on a grand tour of the spaceship. “We need you to go to deck 4 and restore power in the engine room. However, the engine room requires a passkey to get inside. You can find the key in the security office. However, the path to the security office is blocked. You’ll need to take the vent in the supply closet that connects to the security office. However, you need a special tool in order to open the vent, which can be found inside the Human Resources office.” Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. It’s more piecemeal, one at a time directions, but after a while I was wishing I could sprint forever instead of having the usual endurance bar found in so many games now.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20161021140921_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

That type of formula has existed in video games for many years. Heck, Dead Space is guilty of similar issues of “go here and press that”. However, the difference with Syndrome is that much of the time it feels contrived and over thought. Do I really need to mess with ship stabilizers and ship clamps? Why am I doing this? Don’t we have bigger problems to solve, such as not dying?

Speaking of not dying, you are given weapons to ensure that you can at least try your best to survive. I picked up a wrench, a pistol, and even some SMG ammo during my play-through, but unfortunately no SMG. But I’m not sure it would have mattered, as the combat feels very stiff and unconvincing. Indeed, the only weapon that elicits a response from the baddies is the wrench, momentarily stumbling opponents when struck. The pistol had no stopping power at all and it was difficult to tell if I was even hitting my target due to the absence of any kind of visual feedback.

The monsters that infest the ship are indeed menacing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where flesh begins and metal stops! The designs are reminiscent of the type of creature you might see from a Clive Barker movie. But, for how intriguing they are to look at, the animation supporting the monsters leaves a lot to be desired. Watching the blind creature that can hear your every move chicken walk around isn’t unsettling, it’s just kind of goofy. And don’t get me started on the kill animation. The animation just doesn’t support the creatures in a way that makes them seem real or threatening.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20161021141854_1.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

It may seem like I’m just hammering Syndrome with negativity, but I think there is some meat on the bone, and I’ll get to that in a second. But first, I need to air one major grievance I had with the game. One issue so bad that I could no longer continue playing. Save points. You manually save your game at save points stashed around the ship. This lead to many situations where I would die, have to reload the save game, run back to where I died, figure out what I was supposed to do, die again, repeat. Sometimes it’s not very clear how to proceed, and if you forget to save… oh woe is you.

However, it’s not all bad in Syndrome. To a certain effect the sound work is pretty good. There’s a lot of ambient sound that delivers a spooky atmosphere, in conjunction with the music. Every so often I felt like there were certain sound effects that triggered randomly, sounding more like a staged haunted house than an infested ship, but overall the sound design is solid. The voice acting, for what it is, is also decent, although some performances are weak.

The visuals are top-notch, with lights beaming from the darkness, or fires casting dancing shadows on the cold, metal walls. The environments aren’t exactly thrilling to look at, (you’re gonna see a lot of crates), but what is there looks cohesive. I noticed some pop-in when travelling down long hallways, and it wouldn’t be so noticeable if you weren’t already looking for monsters to pop out from anywhere at all, but it is there. I would say the visuals and the sound work are the real strengths in Syndrome.

So what does it all come down to, I hear you ask. Well, for me, there is something here that could be interesting, especially to die-hard sci-fi horror fans. But at the end of the day Syndrome still feels like it could be an early-access game. There are just certain aspects to the game play that aren’t fun. I could overlook that if there was a story here that grabbed me or some characters I cared for. This is a game created by a small independent developer that has a heavy focus on video game engineering, and it shows. It looks good, it sounds good, and for the most part it plays fine. But at the core of Syndrome, much like the monsters in the game, it has a cold metal heart. (It’s undetermined if the monsters really have a cold metal heart, but I thought it sounded cool.)

Syndrome is available now on PC via Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and will be available on PS4 and Xbox One in early 2017.

Syndrome was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label="Circle Counter" title="Score" number="65" percent_sign="off" background_layout="light" bar_bg_color="#000000"] [/et_pb_circle_counter][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/gCtx97_rXG0"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Early Access Impressions - Endless Space 2 (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] “What do you know about a game called Endless Space 2?”

I turn around, an Amplitude Studios cap on my head, sipping tea from an Amplitude Studios coffee mug. With the other hand I quickly minimize my Steam client showing an embarrassingly large number of hours spent in-game.

“A bit.” I respond coolly, trying not to give up the ruse.

“Did you know it released today on Steam?”

I quickly close Chrome, wondering if his eyesight is exceptional or if he’s just reading my mind. “It came to my attention, yes.”

“What would you think about taking a look at the early access version and writing down some of your thoughts?”

Air hisses through my teeth—there, he said it: Early Access. The word that strikes fear into the heart of many a PC gamer.

That’s really the rub isn’t it? After nearly 4-5 years of miss-use by game developers, Early Access is a term that’s come to be feared. Nothing will make you dislike your most sought-after game than playing it in its Alpha stage. Early Access is something I try and sidestep like it’s my day job.

However, Amplitude Studios has a solid track record for doing Early Access right. They might not make the headlines alongside games like Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program, but they have done their part in pioneering Early Access as a cooperative platform between their fans and the games they create. So much so they have pretty much embraced the concept, re-branding most of their Studio’s website in their “Games2Gether” platform.

I agree to take a look. I was an Early Access supporter of Endless Legend, the fantasy follow-up to Amplitude Studio’s Endless Space and it was a positive experience from start to finish.

At this point I have to provide a disclaimer: I fancy myself a bit of an Amplitude Studios fan boy. I love the 4X genre as a whole, but I credit Endless Space with being one of the most recent 4X games that felt like it was trying to do something different than clone the Sid Meier’s Civilization series. By the time they released Endless Legend it felt like they were starting to find their stride. Ideas were refined, factions were becoming more asymmetric, and more was just happening around you as you played the game. There’s a lot of competition these days though.

Paradox Interactive’s Stellaris, Stardock’s Galactic Civilizations III, and NGD Studio’s Masters of Orion: Conquer the Stars are just a few games that have either dropped this year or are still actively releasing content. To top it off the much lauded and hyped Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 drops in just a few days' time. The 4X genre is a busy place—and for the first time in a long time (forever?) you could even argue the "Space 4X" genre is getting a bit crowded.

Holding the rank of Baron in the niche of Nerdom that is the expanding Space 4X genre, I've either played or watched streams on just about all of these games. I have a firm grasp on what makes each of the games unique and what they can offer that their competitors cannot.

If you don’t make it any further than this sentence let me give you the TLDR; Endless Space 2 is on point. Even in Early Access it’s something special—and if Space 4X is something at all that interests you, it’s going to deserve your time and money.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_gallery admin_label="Gallery" gallery_ids="6807,6806,6805,6803,6802,6801,6800,6799,6798,6843" fullwidth="on" show_title_and_caption="on" show_pagination="on" background_layout="light" auto="on" auto_speed="3500" hover_overlay_color="rgba(255,255,255,0.9)" caption_all_caps="off" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_gallery][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

We typically think of an “Alpha” release as being “Content complete, features forthcoming.” Alpha testing happens near the end of the development process when the product is nearly fully-usable. Amplitude’s Endless Space 2 is Alpha Stage but more akin to what we’d expect from some Beta releases.

The existing content isn’t indicative of what we’re going to get though. There is still plenty of other factions not yet added to the game and content currently “locked out” for this stage of Early Release. What’s in the early release is good though. Seriously. Galactic Civilizations III early release was a hot mess of half-realized content, incomplete features and serial crashing compared to Endless Space 2.

Had you sat me down in front of a PC and stripped away all former knowledge of release dates and allowed me to load up Endless Space 2—I might not have been able to tell you this game was in Early Release. A bit short on content, sure-- but I might have otherwise not suspected this game was Alpha stage. It has near-parity with the features of the original Endless Space packed alongside some political gameplay the original was lacking. It’s clear there’s strong inspiration from the political system mechanic used in Endless Legend at work here, and that's a good thing.

Currently there are 4 races to play: The Sophons and Cravers (returning races from Endless Space 1), along with the Lumeris and Vodyani. The Sophons are a science-loving faction with a more standard gameplay element most 4X gamers will be accustomed to already. Sophons excel in speedy research and a good mix of peace-loving and war-capable gameplay. Cravers fill the role of reckless military abandon—they must continue to move and consume as they strip worlds bare less they consume themselves. There is no politicking with Cravers as they have nothing to discuss. What is a peace treaty so someone who doesn't understand the concept?

The Lumeris revolve around trade, deals, and economic growth. Lumeris don’t build colony ships quite like most factions but buy-out planets wholesale. Outposts they establish on planets can then be sold to other empires to generate profits. They play like you would expect Star Trek’s Ferengi to be played when ported over into the universe of Endless Space. They share a similar spot with the “Roving Clans” from Endless Legend, though not close enough to really be the same.

Vodyani are perhaps the most asymmetric of all the factions yet announced. Instead of settling or colonizing a planet the Vodyani live in giant Arks, migrating whenever they want from one star system to another. In doing so their tech and playstyle is all about draining other factions to develop themselves. Improvements and construction follow the Ark as you move it between systems. Imagine a fervently religious and aggressive race of Quarians from Mass Effect and you start to scratch the surface of what the Vodyani are all about.

Suffice to say how you go about playing each faction is totally different from how you would play another. They all share much of the same tech tree (with some faction-specific techs sprinkled in) but you’re unlikely or completely unable to play the Vodyani as you would the Sophons, for example. There are playstyles and strategies intrinsic to each faction. You could do a peace-loving play-through of the Vodyani, but it’s a bit at odds with their abduct-you-baby’s-momma playstyle (and other factions don’t really tolerate that, let me tell you.)

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_video_slider admin_label="Video Slider" show_image_overlay="hide" show_arrows="on" show_thumbnails="on" controls_color="light"] [et_pb_video_slider_item admin_title="Endless Space 2 System Preview" src="https://youtu.be/EC7SC81Xymw" background_layout="dark" /][et_pb_video_slider_item admin_title="Endless Space 2 Combat Preview" src="https://youtu.be/9meRiHaov4M" background_layout="dark" /] [/et_pb_video_slider][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Endless Space 2 inherits the same quest/story system present in Endless Legend. Unfortunately the story or quest lines in my play through of Early Access all roughly equated to the same thing but skinned differently depending on the faction you were playing. Hopefully we’ll see some expansion of this before general release. Paradox's Stellaris is the gold standard of dynamic stories in the genre, and Amplitude Studios could take a lesson from that team when looking to expand future content. The expansions for Endless Legend saw robust use and expansion of in-game quests and story line, so we can only hope for more of the same to follow with Endless Space 2.

Ship customization is still around, and it's not changed drastically from the original Endless Space. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable mini-game on its own. The game is technically playable without too much ship customization, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t customizing a few different ship classes for your liking. Thankfully this is a intuitive exercise with a drag-drop interface to swap out starship modules. Star ship customization really is par for the course for any space-based 4X title, but Endless Space 2 does a good job of giving you just enough complexity you feel happy with the end result. Oftentimes titles cram in too much needless complexity which otherwise scares you off from the whole endeavor (Galactic Civilizations 3, I’m looking at you.)

If you’re still reading this then you must have pieced-together that I’m a pretty big fan of Endless Space 2. I’m actually a little annoyed that I have to spend precious time while my toddler is sleeping not playing the game. Ten plus hours have reinvigorated my anticipation of a full release. I’ve begun re-exploring content for Amplitude’s previous title Endless Legend in the meantime because I don’t want to spoil the fun (and polish) that I know the full release of Endless Space 2 will bring.

If you’re trigger shy on Early Release like me, this one is a safe buy. If you’re a Space 4X fan then you really owe it to yourself to try this game in early or full release.

If you want to talk more about Endless Space feel free to comment or reach out on my Twitter @wookieelozenges. If you want to know more about the details or shared universe behind Endless Space 2 or the Endless Universe, I'd encourage you to visit the Endless Space 2 Official Wiki. I'm looking forward to revisiting Endless Space 2 for a full review when the Early Access period concludes.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]