Flipping Death: The PSVG Review

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Welcome to Flatwood Peaks, a small whimsical town with a problem – Death is on vacation. Play as Penny and help trapped ghosts with your trusted scythe. Flip the entire world around to solve puzzles on both the living and the dead side and slowly uncover the mystery surrounding your own demise.
Key Gameplay Features
● Unique mix of adventure and platforming set in a twisted, rich and colorful world
● Flip the entire world with the press of a single button!
● Possess the living and use them to solve puzzles
● Innovative physics combined with an immersive story told over several different chapters
● Spiritual successor to our previous well-received game Stick it To The Man!

Check out our Review Done Quick Here:

Release date: ​August 7, 2018. Price: ​$19.99 / €19.99
Platforms: ​Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam (PC)
Languages: ​English, French, Italian, German and Spanish
Developer and publisher: ​Zoink Games

You can also watch Donnie’s stream of the first hour if you want further details:

Switch Review: The Lion’s Song

  • Developer: Mi’pu’mi Games
  • Publisher: Mi’pu’mi Games
  • Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch, released today July 10th, 2018
  • Also playable on: Google Play, Apple iOS, STEAM/PC

Final Verdict

I very much enjoyed my play through of The Lion’s Tale. At times the story is filled with moments that have impactful resonance and I think many players will find at least one or two themes they can latch onto. The artsy foundation melds well with the sound design, style, and storytelling to provide a mature, thought provoking experience.

80/100

 

Switch Review: Miles & Kilo

Jason has finished his review of Miles and Kilo, out now on Nintendo Switch. Looking for more information? Be sure to listen into this week’s Nintendo Shack episode with N64 Josh to hear more discussion for Miles and Kilo – Shack – N64 Josh

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Subsurface Circular [Switch] Review

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The game — really a visual novel with light puzzle-solving elements through text — was released recently on the Switch, after coming out last year on Steam. It’s a short story from Mike Bithell, the creator behind Thomas Was Alone and Volume.

Bithell is one of my favorite indie creators, and Subsurface Circular fits in well with his previous work, despite being a functionally different game. The story is immediately engaging, moves fast and doesn’t get bogged down by things that don’t matter.

The player’s bot — known as James in my playthrough, though there are other choices — is a detective that begins investigating an off-the-grid case proposed to him by a fellow traveller, who is sad because a friend has disappeared.

During the ride you come into contact with a robot nanny, priest, soldier and more, as the story fills in the gaps on just how robots are used in this future society. There are easter eggs for fans of Bithell’s prior work, as well as some other current pop culture references.

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The tale comes to a satisfying conclusion, with an interesting take on the future of artificial intelligence and its role in society.

My only detraction in the game is that the text would sometimes pause during the flow of conversation. While this makes sense in the narrative, it felt at times like the pauses were simply padding the length of this brief game.

Subsurface Circular comes with a couple extras, such as director commentary and artwork examples. The music, too, is unobtrusive but fits in the game world.

I wholeheartedly recommend Subsurface Circular to fans of Bithell’s previous games, as well as science fiction and visual novels. It’s wholly text-based, so may not appeal to some, but if you give it a shot, I think you’ll find a thoughtful story worth experiencing.

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Post Human W.A.R. [PC] Review

Humanity, as we know it, is dead. (In this game, I mean.)

Ponder on the thought for a second. Most of the time, when a game focuses on the brink of extinction, it usually places it before the event on a timeline. What do I know, though? Hypothetically I’m one of the piles of ashes being used to power some primate’s makeshift jetpack.

With the world now free of the stink that is human civilization, three groups of sentient,  intelligent lifeforms now stand ready to wrangle the reigns that are history in this turn-based strategy game. The first is our once enslaved industrial robots, once meant to clean our toilets and now are tasked with preserving the remnants of mankind. The other two gangs were once a single unit of radioactive, hesitantly written sci-fi creatures that survive by hosting and mind controlling the local fauna. Having dealt with humans before the whole everyone’s dead event, half of them, the Wraaks, want to wipe every trace of humans off the map. The other group, the Anthropologist (holy crap these names are off the fly of their seat), want to forget about the conflicts and instead try to adapt to the technology humans left behind.

In a shocking series of events, the three hate each other for one reason or another. It’s as if they want to allow three different races to have turn-based combat with each other, with no real advantage over each other!

To put it bluntly, someone at the production meeting hypothetically asked: “Oh hey, what if we took Star Craft’s themes, made it Planet of the Apes, and then chugged it through a Xcomm battle style with cel-shading?”

And so a silverback gorilla got it on with a dishwasher, they hit the baby with microwaves, taught it to shoot a bow, and then trained it how to efficiently execute their enemies with terrain conditions, destructible obtrusions, and movement distance in mind.

The strategy is decent, but having started with the tutorials, everything felt like a slog for even a rookie like me who needed to be whipped back into shape anyhow. The story introduction was too corny that even I couldn’t give it the appreciation it probably deserves, and I don’t like any of the races. Fighting with a cleaning robot that throws dishes at his foes, all the meanwhile spouting witty one-liners that didn’t make the cut in The Last Action Hero doesn’t appeal to me. Neither do the animals who want to sound like they’re either on crack or they heard too much of the voice acting in World of Warcraft: Mist of Pandaria. Yes, I am specifically quoting that expansion. Don’t ask me why, though, it hurts too much. Too much.

The point of a review is to be as objective as possible, however, and whether or not I like the folks I command to conquer does not mean it’s a bad game. In fact, I would go as far as to praise how smooth they planned the battle mechanics out, if not for the fact there’s no originality in the fighting. The animation was smooth and refined, and the music felt like it would the kind I would raise a glass to after a nightcap or two.

I think what really threw me off was that it immediately asked for me to sign into their login, not Steam’s. A Steam game I never heard of asking me to give them an email, username and password raised an eyebrow on my end. Granted, I can see that they want more direct access to the server they have going on, with matchmaking players on the fly and such. It asks a lot for so little though when you have no idea what to expect.

All in all, it looks like a fun game for a wide, niche audience that just doesn’t include me. It’s currently marked at $14.99 on the Steam store. Compared to a previously mentioned game similar to this that’s on sale right now for $20, well… it’s going to have a hard time making its mark at the moment. Even though they have what looks to be a promising three-part campaign and an expansive multiplayer matchmaker, they’ll need to appeal to the players straight off the get-go. Let’s hope Studio Chahut finds the community it needs and deserves.

 

Genetic Disaster [PC] Review

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So, here comes another little title in my lap. I can’t smell it; it’s digital, after all. Can’t taste it, so at least it has a leg up from those Switch cartridges. I felt it, however, and boy did I get my hands on it. My eyeballs touched the screen (which was a very unhealthy choice as it had dust on it) and my ears were met with a funky serenade of dungeon crawly music. That’s right, folks, I’m talking about Genetic Disaster.

Well, maybe you didn’t ask that, but I’m here to tell you why you should.

Team8 Studio’s the name, a fledgling indie developer crew from Lyon (I don’t know if they mean the region in France or if I should know of a major city elsewhere, but their website simply states that). It looks like this game is the notch in their belt, with their goal in mind the cooperation is the key to a fun and simple game. They’re not wrong, naturally (it helps too, considering that they know two people will buy it at least) as I am a huge proponent of group coop games. Terraria, Minecraft, Diablo… did I say Diablo? This game gives a healthy nod towards Blizzard’s titan dungeon crawler because this game is jammed pack with procedurally generated lairs.

If I were to slap some fancy gamer genre terms on it, I would call it a coop dungeon crawler roguelike. How’s that for some wordsmithing?

So the first time I play it, I immediately get hit with some Binding of Isaac vibes; pick a character with unique special powers, get thrown into the merciless bowels of some shady stone temple passage, with firearm based weaponry to choose from. It swiftly departs from there and treads into Diablo territory, as you can also swing up to three friends together and go bananas together. Dropped down an elevator to the first level of what I can only presume to be the decrepit entrance of a golem’s bootyhole (this is all metaphorical, mind you), they offer me a choice between a pistol and a mini uzi. I firmly believe that between the two, the uzi is meant for scared children who don’t know how to aim, so I grab the adult’s choice and head on up into the next room.

The next fifteen minutes was glorious, easy mode bullet hell ridden fun, as I’m scurrying about destroyable, industrial versions of barrels and crates and smoking robot enemies that want nothing more than to burn down your initial three hearts. With a realistic amount of ammo per clip, I would hysterically gun down some poor schmuck before quickly realizing I needed to reload and had to retreat before I became overrun. Limited ammo became an upfront concern, but defeated foes were dropping ammo and hearts by the handful, and I quickly became accustomed to the controller that instantly mapped all the buttons. Man, it felt good, even if I wasn’t paying attention to my health and died a warrior’s death.

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That was me, all by my lonesome, however. If the game was fun by itself, what about the multiplayer aspect? I couldn’t pass up the combination of both local and online multiplayer, even if I was playing the beta form of this game.

That’s where I turned to my PSVG partners Kevin and Amanda, and we tear up the underground streets.

I was not expecting this. I don’t know why I wouldn’t; it’s a freaking cooperative recommended game, for Pete’s sake. It was chaos. It was brutal. It was scary and beautiful in all of its glory. Having two people by my side unleashing massive waves of bullets in every which way was great, but that wasn’t the only thing I realized; there are “cycles”, where an ice cycle will drop damaging icicles that make traversing slippery, or friendly fire mode, where bullets were deadly to EVERYONE. It forced me to stay my weapon, a grenade launcher, because I knew I would murder my own team members if I used it.

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I personally had a freaking blast, and a few drinks and dedicated friends could turn this into a paradise multiplayer. I was turned off by the stark simplicity of it in actuality, but the peppered in puzzles and random rooms really bring this game to life and I can’t wait to not murder my teammates again. I’m also concerned as to how long the innovation and fun would be as the repetitive nature of the game lingers far ahead, but I also counterpoint that this is a game you can burn out after a week and feel refreshed playing it later on. Since this is only a slice of the game and I didn’t get the full scope, I cannot say my score is 100% accurate in the main scheme of things; I will say without hesitation, however, that if you have the bucks to burn and your friends do too, you’ll have a heck of a time.

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Round ‘Em Up! Slime Rancher [PC] Review

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Indie developer Monomi Park first opened its doors in 2014. They released Slime Rancher as an early access game in January 2016, with an official release on Steam on August 1, 2017. While I never played during the Early Access days, what I did play was some adventurous, gooey fun. Monomi Park’s first and currently only game is an exploratory platformer where you’re dropped on an alien planet from far away to become a farmer. Not just any farmer, though. Oh, no. You experience the farmer life collecting Dragon Quest-esque slimes of different species! Your average day consists of catching and feeding them, all the while harvesting their plorts. What is a plort you may ask? Good ole expensive slime poop. Classy way to put it, Monomi.

You start off as Beatrix LeBeau, freshly dropped off on a farm on another planet, with a single corral to contain your slimes and a handy tool called the VacPack. Your VacPack, Luigi’s shopvac given rancher form, can hold up to 4 different items by vacuuming up resources and slimes on the planet. With nothing but a few scribbles of instruction on how to move and collect  the local slippery wildlife, you’re swiftly abandoned by higher forces and left to build the cosmo ranch of your dreams. You’re on your own, kid!

The main goal of this game is to make some sweet moola. In the game, you collect plorts to turn in for money at the Plort Market. The Plort Market has a convenient spot next to your home where you just shoot some of those slime toots in and make your money, honey! With the money you make, you can purchase upgrades for your corrals, buy more corrals, start a garden to feed your slimes sweet fruits and veggies, and even get upgrades for yourself. When you first start exploring, you will be able to find notes from the previous rancher, Hobson. Hobson will leave notes all over the planet, lovely little treasure troves of advice about the secrets of the planet. Hobson also tells you the wistful story of him exploring the planet and his personal reasons for why he left it all behind.

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Slime Rancher has a very happy-go-lucky art style, with everything bubbly and beautiful. There are day and night cycles, but luckily you’re not required to sleep every night. The option is available to go home and crawl in bed until morning, but exploring doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, since there are some slimes that only come out at night.

As you make more money, you can unlock new pathways to areas with different types of slimes. There are 22 different slimes, though not all of them you can vacuum up. Some slimes will do damage to you, such as the pokey rock slimes, exploding boom slimes, and wild angry feral slimes. Each slime has a favorite food, and when fed their food of choice, produce double the plorts. CHA CHING!

The worst of all slimes, though, are the Tarr. Cue the lightning! You have the ability to combine slimes and make them all  big, squishy, and cute, allowing them to poop two different types of plorts. If you make a bad mix though, such as when when an already mixed slime eats a third type of plort, they turn into Tarr. The Tarr slimes will eat the other slimes and try to eat you! They will empty your corrals and wreak havoc, terrifying all of the other slimes into plorting themselves (not really, this isn’t a smart business plan). Luckily, Tarr slimes can be heard before seen. The music will change and the other slimes will cry out in despair when a Tarr appears. Tarrs have a weakness as well, though, and that’s good ole H2O. Eventually you can purchase a water tank upgrade to carry water with you as well as your items. Until you get the upgrade though, I find immense pleasure in vacuuming them to get stuck on the end of the VacPack and blasting those gooey demons to the ocean. SEA YA SUCKERS!

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This game is a little more than just making money through slime poop and blasting Tarrs out of existence, though. One hot example is the story of Hobson’s life on the ranch and the decisions he had to make, compared to the life you are living. As you progress through the game, you will receive mail from someone named Casey. Casey writes to you from Earth, is obviously a close friend and living the dream of rocking out with their music. As you progress in the game exploring new areas and collecting new slimes, Casey’s letters get much more in depth. Towards the end of the game, you get a final letter from Casey. This cues a cut scene and explains the relationship between Bea and Casey leading to what is technically the end of the game.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

After hearing the lovely music and watching all the names roll by the developers that worked on this wondrous game, you get yet another letter. Hobson sends a message that the adventure isn’t over yet! There are hidden vaults with untold treasures! I have yet to find these vaults, so I am not sure what are in them. In his letter he just explains that he stashed a small fortune in each of these vaults. Hopefully enough money to achieve the dreams of a little slime farmer!

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I overall enjoyed playing Slime Rancher. It has a very sparkly, heartwarming feel to it that relaxes you as you play. I was a little frustrated with the repetitive trips back and forth because of constantly full inventories, but maybe that was just because I was too lazy to collect the resources to create shortcut portals. Also, such portals do not become possible until later in the game, so it’s fair game to complain about the time spent traveling to and from the ranches.

The game plays really smoothly nor have I had a single issue with crashing or losing progress. If my game data were for some reason to disappear though, I can’t say I would be mad because I would thoroughly enjoy playing all over again.

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Review: Splasher [Switch Edition]

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Welcome back, ladies and germs! Being disgustingly sick all week has crippled my throat and lungs, leaving me high and dry on streaming and podcasting. As it turns out, however, my lucrative mind and fingers still function as intended and brings us to yet another TAKEALOOKSEE! With Jason giving us the deep cuts back in its PC release in February, indie developer Splashteam’s Splasher takes to the field on Switch consoles this time around!

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So, first impressions tossed right into the mix here, I got a chilling Sonic vibe from Splasher- and as I have said obnoxiously so, I have barely touched any Sonic games. I don’t know how to explain it; maybe this is what I picture a decent Sonic game to be like? To call it a Sega classic ripoff would be doing it injustice, however; this game is creative in getting your nameless, purple wigged in-need-of-a-haircut hero in getting from point A to B, with half a baker’s dozen (don’t think too hard on that) different side ventures to collect along each level.

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We’re talking about a goop shooting fanatic flying along a slime factory run by the “evil” Docteur who, since no one dares put a subtitle in this game and rather do animated comics, apparently is taking janitors like our hero and injecting them with happy juice and morphing them into blobs. Why is he doing this? I would be among the majority to think it’s for vicious, Geneva-convention banned human experimentation. However, this entire game is littered with these massive balls of spiky goop; am I to believe that the improperly spelled Docteur, whose Ph.D. is anyone’s guess beyond factory architecture, is doing the same experiment over and over with exact results?

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The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Someone said Albert Einstein but who the hell knows nowadays

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Let’s back it up a bit before I criticize our cigar wielding, hazmat-suited villain even further over here.

So our fella, who was once a minimum wage clean crew member, catches wind that Docteur is paying them crap wages.  Also, instead of offering a 401k retirement fund, he gives them a premature and somewhat painful looking death. Going rogue (because who just quits their job nowadays), the player is tasked with surveying through the factory and saving as many of their coworkers as they can. HR is apparently a bunch of butthole robots (I’m not crazy, this screams Sonic to me) that wants nothing more than to murder you. Talk about bad press if this gets out.

So based off the pretty little picture I painted for you, you imagine a jumping champion running around a green oozing fortress of twisting gears, blobs of death, and murder machines that make Sony’s customer support like a dream, right? Stop right there, my friends, because there’s a catch where the game’s namesake comes in. Behold, you have the power of Pure Michigan Water™ to start off with, slapping foes and ooze alike to their impending doom! Also, a poop ton of other slimes you can eventually splash anywhere you go. Starting off with the hydration station pack (I made that name up, credit goes to me and me alone), you will encounter machines just spitting away red and honey-colored slime onto the walls of this 2D platform, each offering a wild casting effect on the movement of your character.

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They start off with Knuckles colored-red goop, slowing standard movement on the floor but granting wall climbing and ceiling movement. Another, a highlight yellow slime this time, offers you a ridiculously high jump. So, if I were to best summarize how this game feels, I would summarize it as a Mega Man shooter with Sonic motions of flying around, wrapped in the color scheme of Splatoon. Collecting your coworkers as they spell out “SPLASH!” on your screen Donkey Kong Country style is also an invigorating sight without needing to do tedious tricks. It’s also a bit satisfying when you accidentally murder your co-worker as they plummet into a saw you were supposed to jump over. Whoops.

It’s fifteen American buckaroos over on the eShop. It’s mindless fun that offers platforming challenges that forces you to go back into thinking- usually after a horrifying death as I learned. The platforming paint/goo/slime/whatever it is can be frustrating as, for example, the bouncing material trajects whatever direction you may be moving (even if you’re leaning) and it launches you into the wilds, whether you wanted to go to your death or not. The music is a catchy techno theme, keeping you in tempo as you progress the vivaciously thrown platforms (some pop up last second just to keep you anxious). I also regret the lack of the “hold your ground and fire”, forcing you to move in the direction you’re shooting and often leaving you to choose between running from an enemy or risk falling off a platform.

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It’s very clear that the developers wanted this to be a fast-paced and smooth transitioning game, especially considering there’s a speedrun mechanic built into it. In fact, I would go to say that this game lives and dies behind the idea that it needs to be done as fast as theoretically possible, leaving the slow duff platformers like me to feel rushed when I just want to sit back and shoot something that resembles the past terrors of Human Resources.

Overall, it’s a good PC-to-Switch release that will have a welcoming audience by their side. It offers a decent challenge, amazing graphics, and contemporary methods of progression that will leave a positive taste in your slime filled mouth. I’m pretty sure it’s toxic, though, so don’t swallow it.

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Hob (PS4) Review

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Occasionally the art direction of a game is so striking, so inspired, and so beautiful one cannot help but be awed while playing. Hob, the newest adventure from Runic Games, embraces this notion and around every corner is a new canvas for the player to marvel. But does the rest of the game live up to the stunning art? Let’s dive in.

Hob is an action-adventure game that will feel familiar from the onset. If you have played any game starring a pointy-eared, floppy green cap protagonist, you will be able to grasp the fundamental aspects of navigation and combat. While it may be easy to dismiss much of what Hob does as wrote at first glance, there are a few interesting tweaks to the gameplay that become apparent the longer you play the game. For instance, the platforming/adventuring seems more inspired by games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider than it does Zelda. Daring jumps over deep crevices to platforms that seem just a bit too far away only to grab on and dangle at the last possible moment are the norm. Add in a grapple mechanic, the tell-tale reach out with a hand while climbing to direct players, and the occasional misdirected jump leading to instant death, and you have a game that nicely bridges that gap between the exploring of yore and what more modern games have brought to the table.

Combat is a smooth blend of sword swinging, robot arm punching, shield blocking, and dive rolling goodness. Enemies seem to either pose a significant threat (i.e., one or two hits and you will be respawning) or are a minor annoyance where a bit of button mashing will do them in. Occasionally you need to take enemy armor into account, but having a more robust middle-tier of enemies would have felt more balanced. Thankfully, even when upgrading your sword and abilities, the challenging enemies will still punish you if you are lackadaisical in your approach, so the game maintains some difficulty throughout the journey.

All of this exploring and combat is in the name of, I think, vanquishing a plague that is overtaking the world. I appreciate Hob going for the wordless narrative, but I am not sure I always fully grasped what was going on. I pretty much grasped what I needed to do, and I think I know why I needed to do it, and I think I understood what the end meant, but I am not entirely confident. The beauty of art, some would say, is what it means to the observer is what matters. While the creators have an intent and a story they are trying to tell, they cannot tell someone how to experience the work or what to feel as a result of the experience. From that perspective, I appreciate the story. However, the practical side of me just wants to know if I understood it all correctly.

The real star of Hob though is the world. Stunning art direction, a minimalist but beautiful soundtrack, and a map the opens up in dramatic ways caused me to want to explore every nook and cranny. The most significant achievement of this game is how seamlessly everything pieces together and how exhilarating it is to unlock new portions of the map. Massive chunks of land either rise from far below or come crashing down in a beautiful terraforming dance. I am still amazed at how wonderfully the map weaves together and how unlocking new portions felt uniquely rewarding. The game gently guides you on where to go, and once you arrived, the puzzles intuitively presented themselves. There are bushels of secret areas to discover, often hidden right under the player’s nose, that made me feel brilliant for finding them. This is a world I wanted to spend time in. Even after completing the game, I immediately jumped back in to see what new secrets I could uncover.

There is a joy to be found just being present in the world of Hob. Unfortunately, there is a flip side as well. The game crashed three times on my adventure, causing me to have to restart from the PS4 home screen. Thankfully, a forgiving auto-save and respawn system meant I never lost more than a minute or two of progress. Additionally, the framerate would chug if I was running across expansive parts of the map, more so if there were numerous enemies on screen. Finally, on a few occasions, I would fall or otherwise find myself stuck between objects in the game. While these technical issues pulled me a bit out of the game experience, my disappointment would wash away because of a desire to hop back in and experience more of the world.

Hob reminds me why new IPs and independent developers are crucial to gaming. The wordless narrative might be a challenge for some, and technical issues hold it back from its full potential. However, in the end, Runic Games has put together an extraordinary adventure in a stunning world that is easy to recommend.

 

Hellblade Review: Where Only In Helheim She Found Acceptance

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Hellblade is a tricky bag of thoughts and impressions. In today’s environment, mental health to many is a field of landmines, having scarcely been touched in the video game industry. There have been a few landmark titles, but Hellblade really raises the bar… or should I say down since our main Celtic heroine, Senua, needs to trek the decrepit waters of the Northmen to make her perilous passage into Helheim, the Norse equivalent of the underworld.

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At the beginning of the game, we take control of Senua as she drifts down what can only be described as the most intimidating river since the battle against The Sorrow in Metal Gear Solid 3. Corpses lie on stakes, rotting bodies lay hung from above, and all the meanwhile, over half a dozen voices are telling Senua to turn back, there’s no hope. Having been a victim of abuse, isolation, and mental illness all her life, her only cling to sanity was her long deceased mother, and her true love Dillion, who was sacrificed by the Norse and whose soul rests for eternal damnation in Helheim. Having lost everything to what she describes as her darkness, she spits at her cursed nature and refuses to accept the circumstances of her life, taking sword in hand and going to the bowels of the underworld and bringing back her lost love.

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Armed only with a single blade, stories from a man who managed to escape Helheim, Druth, and the multitudes of her own voices trying to both guide and hinder her, Senua enters the deathly realm of psychological horror and action-adventure where puzzles are aplenty, and battles come few. Although the majority of this game is a walking simulator, there are welcomed moments of vicious combat that involve perfect timing of dodges and parries against otherworldly and demonic creatures that serve Helya, the ruler of Helheim.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Screenshot_08.jpg” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″] The battle system is, to an extent, very simple. Everything you learn in your first fight is essentially all you get to the very bitter end. You gain an ability to slow time against the darkness to gain a temporary edge, but the fights usually are to keep everyone in sight and parry the heck out of whoever is closest. Being from the same line of titles like Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory takes a page out of Nariko’s sword swinging and gives a melee, a light swing, and a heavy assault as your only options of battle, with a few combos strewn between them. It does feel repetitive to do the same motions over time, but they counteract it with newer enemies with different fight styles, forcing you to adapt to fresher and more demanding motions. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″] The puzzles, at least in the very beginning, are very slow, with the occasional burst of frantic running and solving. One moment you’re passing through a desolate looking forest, and the next you need to retrace your steps while engulfed in a blazing inferno, sprinting on instinct alone as you try to narrowly escape death. Speaking of death, they try to tease a horrifying element in the very beginning of the game; cursed with rot on her right hand, should Senua die, the rot will slowly grow up her arm, and eventually her head. Should she die too much throughout the game, the rot will permanently kill her and you will lose your save file. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rsz_hand_rot.jpg” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/spoiler-alert-27401759.png” align=”center” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″]

Do not let this affect your decision to play; I’m spoiling you now. Spoilers ahoy!

This is a bluff.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″] I don’t know why they thought that this was a good idea to incorporate if they weren’t going to stick with it. Technically speaking, when you do “beat” the game, your save file is, in fact, deleted. Your story is over, is it not? It will not trigger prematurely as it would suggest, though, thanks to experts testing out the theory very extensively. I didn’t know this and all it did was make me angry for any time I died, my fault or no. If I can save you the frustration and stress of what is otherwise a great game, let me do that here for you now. Just ignore it. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/hellblade-darkness.jpg” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″]

Back to puzzles – It’s not like Tetris rocks on a wall or anything like that. The world serves to trick and frighten you, deter you with each step you take, but Senua must push on and see the truth. There were moments where they scared me so much that I almost quit playing entirely. I am easily frightened, but having played Dead Space, Resident Evil, Until Dawn, Alien: Isolation, Outlast; I know the feeling of fear and how to isolate myself from the object to feel in control. I could not do that here.

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There was a time where I was forced to traverse in near absolute darkness and nothing to follow but a glimmer of light and Dillion’s lost voice. There were also horrific blurs of monsters who I couldn’t fight sauntering in the shadows, grinding and screeching as I tried to sneak within grasping distances of them. All I could do to keep my wits is trust that the game would not hurt me, like accepting a roller coaster would not go off its tracks, and I pushed on. Add the fact that I had headphones on (which is a necessity, not a recommendation; absolutely, POSITIVELY put headphones in for the entirety of this game), I admitted later that I nearly peed myself in pure fear and adrenaline.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/MF0Y2tk.gif” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″] It was about seven, maybe eight hours of this. For the initial price of thirty buckaroos on PSN and on Steam, I was ecstatic that something this great came at such a cheap price. I almost felt dirty for paying so little; I would have paid at least fifty for it brand new if I had known what I was in for.  The game delivers an absolutely phenomenal chapter of love, struggle, and internal conflict, and I could not recommend it more. Do not let this game pass you by while you’re waiting for the heavy hitters to show up this fall and winter. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/hellbladenewtrailer_610.jpg” align=”center” _builder_version=”3.0.71″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Le Tour de France 2017 Review

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As you look around, men and women are cheering, the buildings are climbing the horizon in front of you, and you can spot the pace car ahead. Your breath is fading, your chest is pounding, and that jerk behind you who has been using you to draft behind for the last stage is making his move. As you rapidly pedal as fast as you can you feel your muscles screaming in unison with the ever growing crowds of fans. You arrive at a cross road. Go for the win and risk a blow out? Or play it safe for the points? The decision is up to you.

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Over the past few years the Le Tour De France franchise has become a staple in my household. As a lover for all sports games, I just always felt it necessary to purchase and play. This edition continues down the same path as the others in that it tries to recreate a series of races that are almost 3000 Kilometers in length and have over a few weeks–not an easy task for any game designer. This years installment offers some very user friendly additions in the mandatory first tutorial which was done well and easy to grasp for new gamers to the franchise, the ability to save progress mid race allowing for easy pick up and play, and adjustable difficulty at the start of the race.

 

The Good:

  1. Easy gauge for race stamina is set in two circles Blue (overall) and Red (burst or attack). Your blue gauge slowly decreases during the course of the race and acts as an all encompassing stamina gauge. As your rider goes through the various stages, it will decrease. To boost it up takes the proper use of an aerodynamic pose on the bike or slower pedaling pace. The Red or attack gauge is smaller and is used to push for a lead, going up a tough hill, etc and is replenished for simply pedaling below max speed.
  2. The level design is beautiful. Great open landscapes, beautiful horizons, fun little cities with fans cheering. These combine to help make a great overall look for the game.
  3. Physics. Hills are tough, declines are easy, taking a corner too fast leads to slowing down or falling down. I never once ran into a bug that hindered me racing the roads of Europe, and I am appreciative of that.
  4. User friendly bike controls allow for players who have never played, to dive in and be able to navigate fairly well.

 

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The Bad:

  1. Lack of customization. Every racer looked the same to me at the start of races. This lack of detail may not be the biggest deal as the bikes and outfits are very unique, but it really brought down the ownership for me as a racer. I wasn’t able to go, yeah that’s my guy! Lets do this. Instead I asked, “Is that me?” I would love to see a create a player option so you could play as yourself added to your favorite team or country.
  2. Team mechanics still a miss. The ability to interact with your team is something I have wanted improved in the Tour de France games. Its still a convoluted process that leads to more aggravation than anything. It’s not easily explained even in the tutorials and the overall lack of explanation of these details on why its important is something that must be addressed.
  3. Lack of modes. Though you have several races to choose from, not adding to the race styles is a huge miss for this game. Yes, it is a Tour de France game, but you can add some fun games that allow for the player to learn and practice skills outside of the tutorial.
  4. Broadcast hurts more than helps. The broadcaster makes a lot of comments during the race. Some are helpful, some are jibber jabber that you don’t understand because you aren’t a bike racing aficionado. This drove me nuts and actually made me turn off the volume more than once so I didn’t have to listen. It wasn’t that it was mixed poorly, its that I didn’t know what he was trying to tell me and it wasn’t presented in a way that helped me change the way I raced.

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Final Thoughts:

The team over at Cyanide Interactive has tried to undertake a huge passion project. Creating one of the biggest races (might be the biggest but my brain hurt even trying to consider doing the math between this and Nascar) is huge and they deserve a shout out for that. But with a race this big and their almost too-realistic interpretation of it, the races are long and very difficult to be competitive in even at the lower levels. The meters and refills come so sporadic that even drinking your boost (blue and red mini game in the game where you hold Y to drink/use it and it slowly replenishes) are too few and far between to help the gamer find footing in the uphill climb of a game.

What I would love to see in the future for this franchise is customization of the racers allowing the gamer to feel a part of the action and make a stronger connection to the team, adding more boosts (drinks) to help with stamina management, a user friendly team communication set up, and two game modes for each race; realistic and a sped up version to condense overall race time for gamers with less time to devote to the game.

Though, I did have some fun moments playing the game overall, there is a lot that needs to be fixed in this very niche game to make it more user friendly. This led to a lot of frustration on not being able to understand what the game was asking me as someone who isn’t a huge racing fan but instead wanted to jump into a sports game.

Thank you for your time and reading my review and let me know if you play Le Tour de France 2017 and your thoughts below.

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Review: No70: Eye of Basir (PC)

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In No70: Eye of Basir, a manor in disrepair holds the key to secrets long forgotten. Armed with nothing but the mysterious Eye of Basir, you’ll need to stare darkness in the face to avoid the terrors lurking in the shadows – solving intricate puzzles to save your brother and reveal lost childhood memories.

Brothers Aras and Erhan grew up together in their grandmother’s house. Through the years, the two noticed strange, paranormal events that defied logical explanation. Objects would frequently change places – and the brothers would sometimes feel something passing by their door.

It has been 20 years since their grandmother’s death. Erhan and Aras have followed separate paths: Erhan became a successful archaeologist – and Aras, a famous creative director. Erhan realizes something doesn’t feel right, so he returns to the old house in search of answers – and isn’t heard from again. Aras resolves to go looking for Erhan in House No. 70 – and what he encounters there far surpasses his darkest nightmares …

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I don’t think I’ve played anything horror or suspense related since last year when I played The Evil Within. So I was a little excited when the opportunity to play something creepy again. However, this is a VERY different game. Long ago during my high school and college days I played significantly more on the PC than I have until recently. I would often look for these types of adventure games like the 7th Guest and the 11th Hour among many others. This game is easily in the same vein as these with a significant graphical upgrade obviously.

Graphically the game does look pretty good but  I did have a few hang-ups as well, which temporarily froze the game for around 20-30 seconds before resuming. These made me a little nervous as the game even states at the beginning as you start that there are no save points, the game only saves as you complete each of the chapters. So if you are playing this game make sure you definitely have some time to dedicate to a session. Now with that being said they aren’t terribly long ranging from 30-45 min for me (add a little more if you think you may struggle with some of the puzzle elements) but even with my sporadic schedule I was able to complete the game play provided to me fairly easily.

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Recently I’ve gotten more into playing while wearing gaming headsets so I can fully appreciate soundtracks and environmental noises and the like, well in this case, it also scared the crap out of me a few times. The environment in this game is creepy to say the least as things creak, dogs park, footsteps stomp, and in some events stuff crashes or smashes around you unexpectedly. Now the jump scares in this game didn’t get me anywhere near as bad as the audio scares did so bravo to the sound team here. The voice overs are also very well done and add to the whole mystique of Eye of Basir.

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The gameplay is focused on exploration of the old house and use of the Basir (think fancy eyeglass that lets you see the paranormal) a pretty cool mechanic but however was a little underutilized for my tastes. There is some story telling in between scenes but most of the story is given to you in the forms of things you find and read throughout the game. So if you just blow through and don’t look around you will in fact miss a bunch of stuff that can make the game much more interesting.

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As I got closer to the end I felt my interest waning a little bit, the ending felt…incomplete I guess. However the developer has already stated there will be free DLC coming soon so I really hope it answers some questions I have left after completing the game. Because much like the TV show Lost I was left with a lot more questions than I had answers. I want to remain as spoiler free as possible here so I don’t turn anyone away here. If you are a fan of suspense and adventure games that might give you a case of the heebie jeebies I strongly encourage you to give this one a shot. The whole game takes probably a little over two hours to complete for the average gamer not reading any sort of walkthrough or such.

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No70: Eye of Basir 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.

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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.

What is Bioware’s ANTHEM?

“Follow us into the unknown.”- Anthem Official Twitter

            A blurry scene, powered by Frostbite. A worn-down wall, but was it once a fortress? A marketplace in a city or town. Is this a last refuge or a beachhead for future offensives and exploration?  An alien beast walks in the wild. A brutal storm ravages the surface with mysterious “T” shaped structures in the background. A metallic mask. Golden glowing eyes. An exo-suit opens. It’s empty. A shot of the full suit takes over the screen as the camera slowly retreats, its menacing glowing eyes capturing our attention. This is Anthem. This is Bioware’s new IP.

“Allies unite to explore what’s beyond…”

            For several months, we’ve known that the Bioware studio that worked on Mass Effect 3 was also working on a huge, massive project. However, not until the EA “EAplay” presentation this past weekend, did anyone have a clue to what this new IP entailed. Anthem was first teased at EAplay, followed on Sunday by a full gameplay demo at the Xbox 2017 E3 brief: wow, what a demo that was! Considering that this has been Bioware’s best kept secret for multiple years, the demo looked respectfully polished and complete. Sure, I am certain that between now and release date quite a few things may change; however, the gameplay felt solid. Staged, yes, but solid.

            The demo begins in a human marketplace, set in a town or city—we aren’t told where or if this is even Earth. A human, from a first-person angle, makes his/her way across the marketplace and is engaged by a man looking worried. A conversation ensues. Moments later, our protagonist enters her (she looks female) exo-suit, teams up with her ally in a “Titan” exo-suit, and launch into the Wilds, the unknowns beyond the City (I know—keep your cool Bungie fans). The following two minutes are a combination of exo-suits flying through a rainforest-looking landscape and engaging in several combat sequences. Anthem, more than any other game this past weekend, was meant to show the true power of the Xbox One X. Our protagonists team up with two other players that seamlessly “drop” into their game sequence and “party up” for the rest of the demo. We are teased with that looks like the entrance to a raid or other coop content. The demo concludes with our protagonist and her team or exo-pilots looking over a cliff and staring at what seems like a storm from beyond this world.  

“Enter the Wilds”

            Bioware, at this early stage, describes Anthem as a “shared-world action-RPG” in which you are your friends are “Freelancers,” those bold enough to leave behind civilization and enter the wild—the unknown. The game promises, and the demo depicts, loot—yes, loot. Content allows parties of up to four players to band together in cooperative (competitive?) content to enjoy with your friends. Your exo-suit is called a “Javelin,” and you can customize this bad-ass ride with the gear you earn and craft throughout the game. What is your mission? To delve into the forgotten and the unknown, battling beasts and marauders along the way, and to defeat the forces plotting to conquer humanity. I guess our protagonists are humans after all.

“Rise to Any Challenge”

            As a Halo and Destiny fan, the opportunity to jump into a super-suit, become a super-soldier, and kick butt is absolutely delicious to me. I can’t explain thoroughly how excited I am for Anthem, even though we have no clue what the final project or gameplay will look like.  Anthem looks sexy, in a way that Destiny 2 didn’t look sexy, or simply hasn’t yet. Anthem looks mature in a way that few games can embrace or truly depict. As I watched the gameplay, I couldn’t help but betray the Halo fan within me and ask myself: “what if Halo looked more like this?”

            Anthem promises to be an interesting ride for the gaming community, regardless of what the final product looks like. It captured our attention early this E3, and we are hungry for more. Is this Bioware’s new Mass Effect? Is this the new path forward? Is this EA’s answer to Activision? I surely don’t know. I am asking too many questions here. I am certain of this: sign me up for all the alphas, betas, and demos, because I am ready to enter the wild. Suit up Freelancers!

For more hype on everything video games, ANTHEM, and Xbox, following me, Q Herrera, at www.twitter.com/UnratedPodcast

Human: Fall Flat (PS4) Review

Physics-based puzzle games are a tough nut to crack. Make the game too hard and the player leaves the game frustrated, never to return to the thumb contorting nightmare they just experienced. Make the game too easy and the player leaves disappointed, thinking about the untapped potential of the game they just played. Human: Fall Flat attempts to balance this difficulty teeter-totter by keeping the mechanics simple (all you can do is grab things and jump) but increasing the complexity of the situation you need to apply the mechanics in. While there is the occasional stumble, Human: Fall Flat manages to stay on its feet to the end.

Jumping in, you take control of Bob, he is a builder, but I do not believe there is any relation to the other one. The first few levels are increasingly complex tutorials, but even as the difficulty grows, the answers are straight forward. Eventually, you get to the first “real” level and you are immediately challenged to put together everything you have learned to solve a more complex, and far less straightforward, combination of puzzles. These levels are where the game really shines. Though there seems to be an intended way to solve each stage, you do have significant freedom in how you approach each situation. There are areas to explore that have nothing to do with solving the puzzles to escape. On the other hand, if you are skillful in your approach and have mastered locomotion, you can skip entire parts of puzzles on your way to the exit.

When controlling Bob, you have only a few options of what you can do: grab things and jump. On the most basic level that is it. However, the possibilities are quite vast. Each arm is independently controlled with the right and left trigger. You will grab at wherever you are looking with the trigger you pull. So, you can look right and grab a lever, then look left and grab a separate lever, and then twist your body to move them each a different direction. Or, commonly, look up and jump to grab a ledge with both hands. Then use the sticks to pull yourself up and let go of the triggers once half of your body is up to stand-up. In trying to write this it is confusing, but I have included a video of it in action as it is quite intuitive once you learn it. Now, intuitive does not mean easy, or that it works the first time, but if you think something will work, it almost always will.

If you miss a jump, or drown, or do something else you are not supposed to, your body will fall back down onto the level crumpled in a heap back at the beginning of the puzzle. Though death happens often (at least to me) it was rarely frustrating, and thankfully the checkpoints are frequent enough that I never felt like I lost significant progress on my quest. Only one time was I repeatedly failing at a task when I was trying to do the “right” thing. Often what you need to attempt to do is easily teased out. Occasionally you have to try a couple of different techniques to make something work, but more often than not, if you fail numerous times at a task, you are likely approaching it wrong. Knowing this helped keep the game from getting frustrating and helped ensure I was regularly making progression toward the end of the level.

While puzzle games have been lookers in the past (The Witness and more recently Rime) the presentation here is not something to write home about. That is not to say the game looks bad, not even close, but there is a minimalism to the presentation that will not appeal to everyone. Additionally, the sparse soundtrack led me to do something I almost never do…listen to podcasts while playing. I felt a bit guilty about this the first time I did it, so when going back to the game, I tried to listen to the audio again. I just could not do it and went back to listening to podcasts.

One advantage Human: Fall Flat has over many puzzle games is a co-op mode that is likely more fun than playing alone. While I spent the majority of my time in single-player, I was able to partake in a bit of local co-op, and the emotions ranged from slightly irritated to uncontrollable delight. While the wonky physics can be humorous individually, they are significantly amplified when you have another person trying their darndest to help, but they make things considerably more complicated. If you are short on patience, this may not be a great mode, but I found myself having the most fun when I had a partner.

As a complete package, Human: Fall Flat delivers a simple concept in a way that was able to balance the frustration with the fun. It is not going to win awards for presentation, but if you can navigate an occasional control struggle, and you enjoy solving puzzles, there is enjoyment to be found. To amplify your fun, find a fellow builder to join in your adventure.

Human: Fall Flat was reviewed using a PS4 code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

A  fine entry into the physics-based puzzle genre, Human: Fall Flat will give you occasional control quirks but typically provides a fun experience.

 

Tango Fiesta: The Greatest Action Story Never Told

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Tango Fiesta is a sly top down twin stick shooter that places you in every single 80’s action flick all rolled into one. It’s greatest strength lies it’s absolutely absurd and hilarious story. If you are familiar with any of the action flicks of the 80’s then you will be right at home and chuckling away at the silly dialog and main character John Strong who looks Bruce Willis as John McClain in die Hard. John Strong is the greatest action hero you’ve never hear of. Has he defeated the Russians? Yup. Did he squash the Middle East? Been there done that. Save the planet from Aliens? You bet’cha. Tango Fiesta is his untold story.

Every level in Tango Fiesta is randomly generated, and is based off of some action movie. This greatly lends to its replay value. There are also multiple characters you can play as each with their own stats and attributes. Sadly no matter who you play with the game is still narrated by John Strong. It would have been nice to have multiple retelling of the same story from diff points of view.

Your load out consists of a main and secondary weapon as well as an explosive. The guns run the gamut of what you would expect from AK’s to Uzis to shotguns and you can purchase new ones over time with the loot you collect from the levels. You have the same options with the explosives which range form simple grenades to . As far as the twin stick mechanics go you don’t quite have a full 360 range of motion when shooting just up down left right and diagonals. So you do have to do some navigation work and line you shots up to be effective. Outside of that you do have your typical ammo packs health packs and you do have to reload which depending on the weapon determines how long the animation is. So combine all of that and you do get a bit more strategy than a standard twin stick space shooter for example. Lastly there are bosses each with their own ridiculous action movie villain name. The boss battles are nice in that you have the entirety of the level to play in complete with additional enemies, health packs and ammo to try and be the last man standing.

 

 

 

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Tango Fiesta is great addition to the twin stick shooter genre. It has a colorful story, fun characters, and is downright hilarious. Add to it the fact that you have multiple characters, you can play it in a single or 4 player setting, there are a ton of weapons to buy and every level is different every time. It’s fun its frantic and it’s hilarious. If you’ve got a weekend and are looking for something to just pick up and play this is a great entry for that.

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Coach Mo’s Thoughts

Tango Fiesta made me laugh out loud almost the entire time. The dialogue in game and  during the cut scenes is one of the best things Merge Games was able to do. It is a nod to all those 80’s action movies we loved to mock and imitate in our youth. It made me want to watch some old movies in the middle of playing to satisfy that nostalgia.

When you jump into the game and we move past the humor, the game play was good. Please don’t read that as me not liking it. It was good for being a twin stick shooter. However, in playing solo my first run through I was able to beat the first levels and boss fight in less than 10 minutes rescuing John’s girlfriend who was kidnapped by his old partner. I found that if you run through the level to the objective, dodging enemy fire, and then shoot the objective from a far then you are able to destroy the objectives with out alerting the near by enemies.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda Review

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Many times during the game, your character asks, “Why did you come to Andromeda?” That same question can be asked of the player of any game, “Why are you playing this game?”

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Mass Effect Andromeda is the fourth installment of the Mass Effect lineage, technically taking place a few hundred years after the events of Mass Effect 3, but the characters are unaware of anything past the beginning of Mass Effect 2, since that is about the time that they began their journey to Andromeda.

In the course of the game, you get to see the new galaxy through the eyes of Pathfinder Ryder, the human responsible for finding and taming a new home for the human race. You have a set of “Golden Worlds” that were selected from the hundreds of possible planets in Andromeda, which could support human life. Your mission starts out as you try to identify the best option of these “Golden Worlds” for the human race to begin anew, but you quickly discover that it is not going to be an easy task to do so.

As you discover new planets, you also discover new threats, possible friends or foes, species and others that wish to join you on your mission. To enable you to effectively explore these new, vast worlds, you receive command of your spaceship, the Tempest, and a planetary rover called the Nomad. For me, planetary exploration is a hallmark of the Mass Effect series, and this entry has some of the best exploration, whether it is going to clusters and exploring the planets on the Tempest, or driving the Nomad across various environments. Driving the Nomad is fantastic, and harkens back to the Mako (in a good way) from Mass Effect 1. The Nomad does not have any weaponry, but features an all-terrain mode that enables you to climb the highest mountains, a booster to move you quickly around, and thrusters that let you hover for a short time. All of this combines to make one of the best vehicles I have used in gaming!

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As with any Mass Effect game, there are branching decisions to be made that will shape and tailor your personal journey. At least twice, I encountered a choice that made me set the controller down and think about the possible outcomes, and how I wanted Andromeda to be shaped. You could make a choice that one of your crew absolutely do not like, but you know it would be better for Andromeda. Those kind of decisions can make it difficult to choose, and really, there sometimes are not “correct” choices, just the lesser of two evils. This made me really invest more in Ryder, my crew, and Andromeda as a whole.

As mentioned above, the crew of the Tempest is a motivating force behind some of your decisions. As you progress through the narrative, hear their back-stories, and go on missions with them, your crew feels like a family. I genuinely began to care about their stories, and as the crew grew together, I wanted to make sure I was a good leader for them. After a shaky start, my progression as their leader felt earned, not given. Most of your crew could accompany you on missions, as you can take two companions with you. Obviously, you would want to consider which companions would augment your selected abilities, and create a formidable team. On the other hand, if you do not really care about those tactics, grab your two favorites and listen to their conversations as you explore Andromeda, hear their reactions to your decisions, and even get their thoughts before you make those decisions.

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When you put all of these things together, you get the sum of what a Mass Effect game is, and it has been done well in Mass Effect Andromeda… for the most part. Quite a few flaws mar this otherwise gem of a game. Most noticeably, I encountered quite a few issues with graphics, textures, and lighting. During a conversation, I spoke to invisible characters (that were not making use of cloaking devices), characters with obstructed faces due to improper placement of light sources that would cast an unfortunate shadow, and I had to exit out of the game completely a few times because I was not able to select dialogue options to progress the game. I also have a number of missions or tasks that I cannot complete because of some bug in the mission. Achievements are also not popping for feats that I know I accomplished. It is quite frustrating to see these types of issues in this otherwise great game, but I am hoping that with patches, most of these issues could be fixed.

When you tire of exploring Andromeda with the crew of your Tempest, you can switch over to multiplayer and run Horde-type missions with up to three other players. Its wave based, and cycles through hacking, survival, and VIP type waves, leading up to the final extraction wave. The missions can prove to be intense, especially when trying to get a full team extraction!

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In all, this is a fun and engaging game. As of this writing, I have spent over 90 hours with the game, and have really enjoyed it! It is unfortunate that this game has the technical issues, because I would definitely score it higher if I experienced them with less frequency. The story is worthy of entry into the Mass Effect canon, while I personally don’t think it’s as good as the Shephard storyline, it’s still compelling in its own right.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below, or hit me up over on Twitter @VoicedByNathan!

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Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy episode One: Tangled Up in Blue: Quick Impression

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I am a huge Telltale fan. I feel that is something you should know from the start of this. I have played every game they’ve made on the Microsoft console side and have played almost all of them multiple times. I love the stories, the easy cheeves, the awesome characters and decisions, and the cheeves.

The only thing that seems to be the norm for me in the Telltale games is that I buy the physical copy almost exclusively unless there is some really great deal. I don’t replay these games on the same console. I beat the game, trade it back in, and just enjoy the memory of what happened.

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So on May 2nd I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy for my Xbox one and proceeded to play Episode one Tangled Up in Blue. Now this wasn’t the best episode one from Telltale (Minecraft Story Mode and Borderlands) but this was a strong start.

With as little to no spoilers as I can, you start the episode chasing after a huge marvel villain who is laying waste to the Nova corps. You and your team have to infiltrate and old Cree structure, find a way to stop him, and then deal with the aftermath.

What I enjoyed the most about this first episode was the fact that I played as every character in the main fight scene, giving it just this  awesome feeling of a blockbuster movie and the story doing a great job for fans of the franchise and newbies alike. If you had never seen the movie, read the comics, or been exposed to Star Lord and his crew, before the end of this episode you have a great idea of what makes each character tick and I found that to be done in a way that doesn’t drown you (i.e Telltale Batman, did you know his parents were dead?)

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Now I know what some of you are thinking, man this guy loves Telltale so he is probably just has blinders on to all the bugs. To that I will tell you what I tell my friends at PSVG, I have never once had an issue or bug in a Telltale game on my xbox one or 360. Not one. No frame drop, weird voice over issues, nothing. I have had issues playing them on my surface but this thing is old and not meant for gaming I don’t think. So my experience with Guardians episode one, was bug free.

 

Well that’s all for me fam, I hope you enjoyed this quick impressions and if you end up playing it, let me know. Would love to chat openly about this game and my very fun experience playing it.

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Toby: The Secret Mine Review

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Do you like the dark? Not the scary darkness in creepy movies. I would say more of that 2 am, walking around on the outskirts of a city type darkness. If you are picking up what I am saying then Toby: The Secret Mine might be the game for you. Toby TSM is a LImbo/Inside esk style of game with a dark art style and no vocal narrative. As I started to play the game I even tried to go left (first achievement you can get in Limbo) just out of curiosity on how similar these games may be. No cheeve sorry folks.

 

 

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As I dove into the game, I found it easier than I thought it would be at first. The “puzzles” in this platformer hybrid game were easy to solve and where I died and failed in games like Limbo and Inside once or twice in the opening scenes, I got through the first 6 levels quickly and without dying or really having to do much work. I did however miss some hidden friends (collectibles) due to not realizing how the game hides things inside the dark landscapes.

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Unlike the games I listed above (LImbo and Inside in case you forgot or were skimming and stopped here to read cause you like parentheses) Toby doesn’t tell a story through the landscape. Instead it is used against you, hiding collectables, danger, and shortcuts to your destination. At first I found this to be an annoyance but after more time in game, I found it to be an exciting piece of level design. LIke games before it, the game is hiding its true self from me to make it more menacing and difficult. Once you learn what to look for like moveable structures, hidden doors in weirdly placed buildings, and crackling noises that tell you the ground beneath you can be broken to reveal a hidden tunnel the game became easier to traffic on the higher levels.

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Top 5 on the Plus Side:

 

  1. Level design is very creative and makes you really search the levels even though they aren’t very big.
  2. Art style makes the game and its collectibles very enjoyable
  3. Short and fun experience
  4. Creative puzzles that are accessible to those who play few puzzle games and can still be fun for those who play a lot
  5. Doesn’t punish you for mistakes like some games do (Inside I am looking at you)

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Some things that need Improvement:

  1. Though my interpretation of the story was good, I’m not sure everyone out there has a creative, make your own side story as they go type of imagination. If you tend to be more literal in your experiences of games, maybe thing twice on this one.
  2. Sound design has some good moments, but in my opinion was lacking. There are some good moments, just would of loved to hear more from the levels based of the character and where he/she/it was standing.
  3. Collectible level tracking would have made the 1000 on this game so much more enjoyable. Though it isn’t a huge problem as the game does track the collectables in the top right corner in game, you don’t know which one you

 

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All in all this is a really fun experience to be had. I found myself thinking about playing when I was at school and would come home, jump into a level and get 10-15 minutes in before I would work on lesson plans or spend time with the family. Though the game is short, took maybe 1-2 hours to complete and on my second play through to cheeve hunt took me less than an hour.

 

This game has a unique art style, good level design, and innovative puzzles. If that sounds like something you would enjoy then I hope this review helps you decide to play Toby: The Secret Mine.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands – The Ultimate Review

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Q Herrera (LoboRican)

By the time that December, 2017, and the holidays roll around, we will look back and think of Ghost Recon Wildlands (from now on just “Wildlands”) as one of the most underrated, and possibly overlooked, video games of the year. 104 hours of gaming time logged in, I confidently state that amid other blockbuster releases, such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Zelda, Mass Effect Andromeda, Star Wars Battlefront II, and even a new Red Dead Redemption, Wildlands holds its own as one of the best-built MilSims (military simulators) ever developed. Its rocky vehicle controls, relatively limited customization options, and, at times, boring storyline are redeemed by some of the best combat mechanics and feedback found across all games. Additionally, while at unfortunate times buggy, Wildlands invites the gamer into a beautifully imitation of modern Bolivia’s mountains, jungles, valleys, and deserts, an experience expanded by excellent voice acting and “culture-telling” that is great alone, but best with friends.

COMBAT:     95 out of 100

Wildlands excels the most is in its beautifully crafted MilSim combat, honoring the legacy of past Ghost Recons and other Tom Clancy releases. Where moving with your squad of friends or AIs across vast Bolivia, Wildlands forces you, the player, to take a step back, do your proper reconnaissance, and decide how best to proceed. Even though some may interpret this process as “slow” or “disengaging,” it is one of the best depiction of MilSim gaming I’ve ever seen. As a former soldier, I’ve talked to other soldiers and veterans who have had the chance to play Wildlands…and they love it. Some military members who play the game love to turn off the HUD system and make the experience as realistic and unforgiving as possible. Even though I do love my HUD, forcing yourself to raise the difficulty level and plan an attack can be one of the most rewarding experiences Wildlands offers.

Beyond the “big picture” of combat, Wildlands absolutely nails down excellent weapon/shooting feedback. Unlike other games in which the shooting and movement combat falls flat, the MilSim set up of Wildlands forces you to stay on your toes. Whether you choose to blast through a gate with guns blazing, or decide to hold back and snipe your way to victory, Wildlands gives you the freedom to choose how you fight, knowing you will pay the price for your mistakes, and be rewarded for success.

The combat, squad, and movement experience is exponentially more fun and powerful with friends, and the highly active community I have encountered on Xbox Clubs offers a nonstop supply of gamers waiting to team up. Your AIs do I decent job, but are you willing to trust fellow human players to cover your six? We’ll see! Whether play with friends or strangers, Wildlands proved to be an exciting platform in which everyone needed to rely on everyone—no lone rangers here. However, having played most of the game solo, the game continues to be a great treat for those who choose to play on their own.

Beyond the basic shoot and move of your typical shooter, Wildlands offers the player with a menu of accessible Squad orders and directors for your AI or human companions. Additionally, as squad leader, you have access to a variety of useful “skills” that expand you tactical and strategic options: mortar fire, diversionary rebel forces, vehicle drop-off/pick-up, allied rebel forces fighting by your side, and auto-spotting of enemies, all upgradeable throughout the game.

VEHICLES:  75 out of 100

One of the game’s lowest points is vehicle control. It is truly a steep learning curve that is at times quite punishing. Time and time again, I have flown off a mountain after losing control of my truck or any other car. Was this a developer’s choice? Did they choose to make vehicles hard to control at times? Possibly, but even so it can be a frustrating experience in key and decisive points of your gameplay. Less than desirable vehicle controls are not a reason to forsake the Wildlands, but it can be an unfortunate reminder of what keeps the game from truly being great.

However, we can’t ignore that the developers created a sandbox in which every single vehicle you lay your eyes on is drivable. Wanna steal that helicopter? Do it. Want to drive that farm tractor into combat? Knock yourself out. Wanna crash that helicopter into a Cartel enemy convoy? I dare you to (did that 5 times last night). Where the game falls short in controls, it makes up in the highly rewarding access to vehicles and transportation throughout the map, honoring the success Ubisoft had with a similar system in Watchdogs 2.

CUSTOMIZATION:            85 out of 100

Wildlands offers the player two key areas of customizations: appearance and weapons. On the appearance side, Wildlands excels past many games, but I never quite got my Ghost (whom I named Rico), to fully look like me. At the end of the day, Wildlands comes with a few pre-set faces that can be edited to a controlled extent. This is due, in part, to the fact that you character shows up in most, if not all, of the cut scenes. Also, appearance customization comes with an impressive array of realistic and not-so-realistic combat apparel, which earned my respect as a former soldier. Let’s just say that Ubisoft’s military advisors knew what they were recommending.

Weapon modification, through the Gunsmith system is excellent. I could modify fifteen different parts of each weapon system, from scope to barrel, to magazine, to paint, to trigger, to underbarrel system, to butt stock, etc. Even though the difference between one scope and the next may not be dramatic, the ability to make your weapon your own is an element to applaud.

SETTING/ VOICE-ACTING/ ENVIRONMENT:           90 out of 100

The setting, voice-acting, and environment all go together because they collectively set a tone and mood for the game. Being Latino, I could fully appreciate the environment in a way that other players may not be able to. Listening to villagers and bad guys talk in perfect Spanish (yes, perfect Spanish) was incredibly cool. Finding documents and “legends” items throughout each province that expanded on the history and context of the land and people was fantastic, and a journey of discovery on its own.

I have already mentioned the beautiful environment which one gets to play on. Wildlands offers the play 21 (yes, twenty-one) different provinces in which to fight, explore, and liberate the land from the grips of the Santa Blanca cartel. Even though some regions do look alike (specially neighboring regions), I sincerely felt as if I was exploring a whole continent that transformed itself as I drove, walked, or flew around it. If there is one area where, as a gamer, I could see the passion of the game developers is in the beauty and detail that went into the recreating this chunk of our world.

Voice-acting is another area which I could fully appreciate. Bear with me: voice-acting into another language has been done in terrible ways. I have seen developers release games with horrible Spanish voice-acting. However, where Ubisoft truly deserves a ton of credit is in choosing to pay attention to this small but critical area of detail. The voice-acting in Wildlands is excellent. The Spanish is excellent. The military lingo/slang between the Ghosts is excellent. Even the real-world tension between the CIA and the US military operatives comes alive through the dialogue between characters. This is an area where this games deserves praise, in part, because so many studies take it for granted and fail to deliver on minimum expectations.

STORY:         80 out of 100

Sadly, one of the low points of the game is its story. I don’t think this is an area that should be spoiled for the reader who hasn’t played Wildlands, because the story is worth playing. It can be easy to criticize the game for the lack of cut scenes or super-concrete story-telling, but I’d argue that the true storytelling happens through your actions as you explore and fight through the Wildlands. Yes, story and plot can be delivered through structured scene-building, but Wildlands offers that storytelling in a different way. The game encourages you to analyze the terrain and come up with a plan for attack, climb up and mountain and then hike down, discover and explore new chunks of the world by smoothly transitioning from one part of the map to the other.

Is this one of the greatest stories told in games? No, but it is a realistic story. The writers of Wildlands researched Narco-Cartel culture, military culture, CIA culture, and Bolivian culture to give us a world that is ours to explore and have fun in. As a graduate student who researches these sort of topics, I believe there is much to learn from and appreciate from the story that Wildlands gives us the chance to be part of.

EMPOWERMENT:             95 out of 100

What is empowerment? To me, empowerment is one of the greatest elements in any game. Empowerment is the extent to which a video games allows us to experience elements which most of us can’t experience in life. Empowerment is the extent to which a game truly approximates being a true simulator. Ghost Recon Wildlands gets a 10/10 in empowerment because, as a Ghost, I truly feel like I have the power, capacity, and freedom to fight as a like. This game continues to be exciting because I continue to find new ways to fight enemies, new ways to win, and new ways to make mistakes. Empowerment is a gamechanger is delivering great gaming experiences, and few games have made me feel as empowered as Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Ghost Recon Wildlands        89 out of 10

Ghost Recon Wildlands is a rewarding experience for all gamers of all backgrounds and genres. Whether you are an explorer or a shooter, a lone ranger or one who prefers to play with friends, the Wildlands deserves to be played. If you have picked up this game and have played it, I hope you agree with my verdict. If you picked it up and haven’t gotten to it, it’s worth the investment! If you are still deciding between this game and many of the other blockbusters out, I’d encourage you to maybe wait for a discount and pick it up later. Welcome to the Wildlands: now choose how to fight!

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Ghost Recon Wildlands was purchased and reviewed by the author on a Xbox One S console. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Mr. Shifty Review – Switch

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic

I like to start my reviews with an intro that ties into the game and the feelings it gives me. Normally this is done with an analogy or merging the game with feelings/memories I have had. So when you read this next sentence, please understand that this took me hours of thought, careful deliberation, and rewrite after rewrite after rewrite.

 

This game is Chris Rock.

Take a second. Reread it, prep yourself.

This game, this hilarious game, is Chris Rock.

What do I mean by this? Well folks, when I dove into this game it was one of those moments when I was just salty. I cant remember what was wrong with me, but something was just bugging me like crazy and I was not in a great state of mind. I dove in to this game and in moments, found myself laughing and thinking. From one liners involving pop culture to jokes about you dying in game, this game deleivers a great sense of humor in an old school styled game. This is an RPG game with some Roguelike loving sprinkled on top. Why I say its Chris Rock, is because even though there is a fun little story in here, its best moments in my open are when it is making fun of pop culture through the dialogue and actions in the game (Chris Rock at his funniest as well).

The main game:

In the game you will pick three of the six available characters to start your quest (my favorite part due to the interactions that proceed from picking someone and not picking others). You then will begin one of the main quests, travel to dungeons with some random encounters, and fight your way through. What makes this game brilliant is that if you are successful you will return back to the town to resupply and pick your hero’s to begin a new quest. But if you die, that’s it. Game over. See you later, thanks for playing, have a nice day buddy buddy. This game is a one and done so you need to keep someone alive in your party at the end of the quests to keep the good times rolling.

I really dug the old school feel of the game, though I am not often into the Pixel-lated style of game art (guys do you see what I did there, do you?). But the style and humor tied in with a great soundtrack that doesn’t get annoying during game play thankfully. I could share more but with the story being a fairly repetitive game style (not in a bad way folks, most RPG’s follow the same ark) with similar quests and boss fights, I don’t want to ruin to much for the gamer.

After several hours, many deaths, and some awesome successes I left this game happier for having played it. Its one I would have missed had I not gotten the chance to play it for our wonderful Play Some Video Games family. So if you are looking for an old school art style RPG with a cute sound track, then this is your game. If those things make you go, what? Then I would dive deeper and watch some videos before you pull the trigger. I hope this review helped you out with out spoiling so much and sparked your interest in Pixel Heros: Byte and Magic.

HOMEBOUND Review (PC VR)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Old Time Hockey Review (PC)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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