Review: State of Mind (Xbox One)

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  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One, releases August 15th, 2018
  • Also playable on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & PC

Note: The review embargo for State of Mind is today, Monday August 13th 2018 however the developer, due to State of Mind’s focus on narrative and storytelling, has asked that we hold any video footage after the game’s introduction until the game releases on the 15th. This post will be updated with more video content on Wednesday.

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Out this Wednesday is the latest point-and-click adventure game State of Mind from German developer & publisher Daedalic Entertainment. Daedalic, since it’s creation in 2007, has been making a name for itself as a standout in the narrative adventure & point and click genre with highlights such as the Edna & Harvey series, The Pillars of the Earth and the tactical turn-based RPG series Blackguards. Read More

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:

Of the many questions Detroit: Become Human attempts to ask, the value of artificial life and how far you will go to protect it is perhaps the most poignant.

Repeatedly throughout the game, the player is put in the position to decide the fate of characters both human and android. Of course, as a game, all of these lives are artificial. The trick that Detroit — and, really, each of Quantic Dream’s games — tries to play is to make us sympathetic toward these characters. Are they really alive?

It’s a ruse that Detroit pulls off well enough to make the culmination of each main character’s story feel weighty. The final outcome of my personal Detroit story was sad, filled with ultimately needless sacrifice. Yet it was also hopeful, felt (mostly) earned, and felt consistent with my own versions of Connor, Markus and Kara.

Branching Paths

The branching paths of Detroit are intriguing and rather mind-blowing. By the end of the game, it became apparent that there were large chunks of story that I didn’t experience, largely due to choices I may have made earlier in the game.

A character that you save in an early chapter may show up later to help you in a confrontation; the decision of whether to attack or flee in hour three might have an impact on the ultimate fate of the Android “race” at the end. Your choices, successes and failures all have an impact on the story, even if it isn’t clear at the time.

At a base level, Detroit revolves around three player-controlled characters, and their actions during a pivotal five-day period in November 2038:

  • Connor is the latest and most-advanced Android model yet. As you’re introduced in a tense opening chapter, Connor was made to assist police in cases specifically involving deviant androids. He has a very black-and-white, follow-protocol attitude. It is his job to complete the mission, protecting humans along the way — unless that prevents him from completing the mission.
  • Kara is a maid android, bought to help clean the house and take care of all the household chores. As revealed in an earlier trailer, she is placed in the home of an abusive father and must decide whether to intervene in the situation. Will she break through her programming and become deviant?
  • Markus is the caretaker for a famous elderly painter, who encourages the android to think for himself. The painter, Carl, clearly cares for Markus and is forward-thinking in his views on technology. For his part, Markus loves his owner. While many androids in Detroit are stuck in abusive homes, Markus is actually in a good situation at the beginning of the game, and follows his owner’s orders explicitly.

After that common beginning, it is up to individual player choice as to how the characters change during the story. Does Connor stick to his mission at all costs, or will he develop empathy for his fellow androids? Will Kara rescue Alice? To what lengths will she go to protect the girl? How will Markus develop as a leader?

It’s ultimately up to the player. The great thing about Detroit — as opposed to your typical GTA or Uncharted — is that your character’s words and actions can more easily align. If you espouse a peaceful rhetoric vocally, your actions can follow that path even at a great cost. Want to be a violent revolutionary? The game adapts to that as well.

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Intertwining Narratives

The three androids’ stories are separate up until the moment they become inexplicably intertwined. This allows for constant variety as you progress through the game.

Connor’s story becomes a buddy-cop movie with his human partner, Hank, who hates androids. There’s a lot of predictable interaction between the two, but the bond that grew between them in my playthrough kept me investion. Detroit’s ongoing question about the value of an artificial life is asked repeatedly throughout Connor’s story, culminating in an emotional ending.

Kara and Alice are forever on the run throughout Detroit, trying to escape the city and live where they can be free. As a parent, I was drawn to protect Alice from the beginning, and my Kara went to great lengths to keep her from harm. A narrative choice revealed late in the game threatens to undermine their entire narrative. But, again, the arc asks the player how much they value the life of these polygonal characters.

Markus’ story is the largest in scope, and I believe he is truly the lead character in the game. His choices have a far broader impact than those of Connor and Kara. One theme of the game is the fight for acceptance of androids, and a desire to be treated more nicely by humans. Markus can decide to be pacifist, anarchist or somewhere in-between. One thing that becomes clear throughout is that the consequences of any choice are dire, but if Markus stays true to his character, he is determined to accomplish his goal.

Themes and shortcomings

Quantic Dream’s games control oddly. That is a common element that carries forward from Heavy Rain through Detroit. Though the controls now are more streamlined, there are still times that a controller interaction felt unnatural.

At best, these times pull me from the game briefly. At worst? I can’t make the game recognize the input in time and the action fails, leaving my characters with the lasting consequences of the game not recognizing that I jerked the controller to the left.

The performances in the game are awesome, and among the best in gaming. The actors show emotion. I am truly blown away by how far games have come in this area. Detroit becomes less of a “video game” and more of a piece of interactive fiction, bolstered by strong voice actors and animation.

Problems with the story exist. For one, the 2038 setting seems a little far-fetched. I know that technology is progressing at an alarming rate, but the idea that in just 20 years, two-thirds of our military will be comprised of humanoid androids? Or that they will occupy so many of our jobs, and be used so widespread by the wealthy and the poor? It’s an ultimately small nitpick, but still stands out.

A certain narrative choice in the Kara-Alice story also stuck with me a bit wrongly. I saw it coming, and didn’t like it as I felt the reveal largely devalued their relationship. Yet, I still felt attached to both characters and worked to keep Alice safe.

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Another nitpick relates to the androids as they become deviant. There’s a specific marking that identifies someone as an android, and that marking can relatively easily be hidden. But through to the end, many deviants just leave it alone. Why the heck wouldn’t every deviant remove the visual representation of their slavery?

This brings me to that word, slavery. The game purports to ask questions it deems important. There are clear references to racism and America’s history, but the moments come off merely as suggestions and general color to the world.

Androids ride in the back of the bus; the game evokes images both of Martin Luther King and of Michael Brown; the president is a celebrity, possibly compromised by her relationship to big business; there is a widening gap between rich and poor; technology dependency is ruining modern society; drug use is running rampant. These issues color the world, but largely go unexplored.

This is not exactly a complaint. A game should be judged based on what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Detroit is an accomplishment in player choice and adaptability. It’s a game about breaking the rules, and the consequences of those actions.

Sacrifice

Detroit made me question how I approach the sanctity of life in a video game. The characters repeatedly have to choose whether an android’s “life” is worth saving. And, later, is taking one life worth it if you’re saving hundreds?

It’s the same question asked in Avengers: Infinity War and many other pieces of entertainment. Would you sacrifice one life to save many?

There’s a moment about two-thirds of the way through the game where I, as Markus, am tasked with either leaving a fellow android to its fate or taking matters into my own hands and shooting it. If I let it live, it might be forced to reveal where the deviants are hiding, but it might also live. If I shoot it, then our secret is safe for a little while longer.

I pulled the trigger. One life traded for many. Still, I’ve never felt worse about pressing “R2” in a video game.

That is the trick of Detroit, and why it is one of my favorite games of the generation. Connor, Markus and Kara are alive. Their story is real. It has consequences. And I am responsible for those consequences.

Review: MX vs. ATV All Out

In my current quest to play just about any game with vehicles racing around tracks, I decided to pick up my first motocross game since Excitebike in MX vs. ATV All Out.

At its core, All Out is an arcade moto racing game with decent customization, intuitive gameplay and a decent track variety. The single-player “career” mode is extensive, but lacks some personality as it is basically just multiple collections of races — not entirely unlike Mario Kart. While I prefer more traditional sports game career modes — see F1 2017, NASCAR Heat 2 — the collection of series offered in All Out provides plenty of content and incentive to play the game.

At the beginning of the game, you’re placed on a low-level bike and given free reign over the compound area, as you can motor around an open world and complete tutorials on each of the race types. These types include outdoor Nationals, indoor Supercross and Arenacross inspired tracks, point-to-point Opencross tracks and freestyle trick events. The career mode is filled with collections of each of those types of races, building up to the most powerful vehicles.

As you can probably tell from its name, ATVs are also available in the game. All Out also includes UTVs, which control poorly in my view. While it’s nice to have options, I definitely prefer just riding the bikes as they offer more control.

Racing against the AI is fun and challenging. You can race as little as 3 laps, all the way up to 30, and the game also lets you practice and qualify for the races. However, qualification is largely pointless as it merely decides the starting position for the main race and has no cuts.

Ruts begin to develop on the track for longer races, which do seem to impact the driving even slightly. While driving is a bit grippier than you might expect for an off-road game, it feels right at home in this arcade racer.

All Out’s customization offers quite a bit of variety between color schemes, designs and the tuning of the vehicles. However, I was also disappointed that none of the vehicles in the game are real-world, licensed bikes and ATVs. Each vehicle type has a couple of variants that you can buy, marketed just as THQ or Rainbow, after the publisher and developer. While I’m not a bike nut, I still appreciate using authentic vehicles in games. The licensed bikes are being offered as paid DLC at $2.99 each, which is a shame and, frankly, a bit of a ripoff.

The overall presentation of the game can also seem a bit staid and same-y. Some of the tracks stick out, but many of them are indistinguishable from each other. The game’s graphics are fine, but aren’t even in the same league as Monster Energy Supercross, which was released about 6 weeks earlier.

The largest issue with the game at the time of launch has been its performance. I’ve been playing on the PS4 Pro, and it runs mostly fine. I do notice occasional pop-in, frame stutters and screen tearing, but it is nothing gamebreaking. However, players on the base PS4 and Xbox One systems have apparently not been so lucky. The game has bordered on unplayable on those systems, according to online reactions.

Additionally, I have tried racing online just a few times. In the one time I was able to find a match, I raced against just one other opponent. It was a darned good and competitive race, but it is worrying for the overall longevity of the game. Considering that one of the trophies is for winning an online race with 15 people in it, I can’t imagine that there will be any Platinum trophies earned.

Some of these issues are things that can be improved upon throughout the coming months, and the developers have already released a few patches for consoles.

MX vs. ATV All Out is far from a perfect game. But it is a fun game, and I hope it really gains an audience on console once it gets past early hiccups.

Review: The Long Reach

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The Long Reach Review Discussion from last week’s Nintendo Shack Podcast.

 

Monster Hunter World: Review in Transit

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It has been awhile since I dusted my keyboard off for something that wasn’t the OT or my special piece (listen to the podcast for more info). However, after a lot of conversation it just felt like it was time to pull up to the desk, grab a cup of coffee, and talk to you the amazing people who come to PSVG. Thank you so much for your time and I hope you find this fun and informative.

I had already pre-ordered the collectors edition of Monster Hunter World a few months ago. I was more or less excited for it I mean you know me, collectibles are kind of my thing! I was also lucky enough to get a two-fer! Dragon Ball Z Fighters also came out same day and I had pre-ordered the collectors of that.

The collectors edition was not up to my standards and was kind of upsetting just from the stand point of what I got but that is a topic for another story. So on launch day I opened up the box, put the game in, and began downloading. A few minutes later (thank you Spectrum and Xbox) I was in game running around searching for meaning.

25 hours later I am comfortable giving my initial impressions and a score that will change as I get farther in game. Lets dive into the Good, Bad, and the Ugly.

THE GOOD:

The things this game do well are numerous. Character customization is top tier and something I am still blown away. Being able to design your character but also your Palico is just fantastic but it goes even further. You can also design your player card in game and share it with people you come across in game. The level of detail this game goes into is just incredible and I find myself spending time at the hubs just looking at the menus and seeing what all I can do.

The story was a weakness for me in some areas, but what I do like is that it doesn’t try to be something its not. So far no crazy love story or journey of redemption. You are a hunter who is sent to hunt. Easy right. You meet some good characters, no great ones yet, but they are good and I find the whole story arc to be intriguing so far.

The game play is fluid which is huge for a game like this. Being able to attack the target you choice with the push of button, scroll between enemies quickly, and craft/scavenge to get new stronger gear is an excellent added incentive for these maps.

The Monsters are numerous and diverse. You can’t go into every fight the same or you will find them harder and harder to conquer. Paying attention to what gear you have and what its strengths and weaknesses are vs your current prey is huge.

No Map feels the same. They are diverse, unique, and numerous. I have had more fun getting lost on these levels trying to find certain craft able materials then I had in exploring the last three open world games I played.

 

THE BAD:

I feel like I may be in the small portion of gamers who feels this, but having a silent protagonist just drives me nuts. Give me dialogue options in game. The story is good, I just want to be able to take part in it by saying, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t do that?” or “I love you!” By giving my character who does almost all of the work the ability to say something, is huge to me.

The SOS system needs a way to track player skill. Not level mind you, skill. I have sent SOS in game where I am calling for help vs certain Monsters. Some of these people help me and we enjoy the gear. More often than not though, I have had people join me who die repeatedly and cost me the 30 min or more I have been fighting this monster and I have to restart the quest.

The Lore is hard to find. A kin to Destiny one, there is a huge back story to these games. I just need to be able to find it better instead of getting pieces here in cut scenes. I am a story fanatic and I just want more of it.

 

THE UGLY: (The raw feeling I have at the end)

This game changed once I was willing to put in the work. Learning different attacks, finding the best set of armor for my play style, and using my Palico to help me in battle. Using my attack lock became a must and I am so grateful that I had some great people to play with. This game is a community driven experience. I am sure you can play alone and find some joy in but there is nothing like tackling a huge monster together and the absolute euphoria after you capture or defeat them.

 

If you need some one to play with you can hit me up on Xbox at The CoachHulk and I would love to help you through the game. This is end of my initial impressions. More to come as I get farther into the game. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope even more to see you on the battlefield together. Thank you and have fun gamer.

PSVG Tyler Reviews: Wulverblade (PS4)

 

Greetings, fellow humanoids! Today I give you a look at the quality of the PS4 port of WulverBlade from Darkwind Media with a video review. Check it out below for the breakdown!

Codemasters game reviews: F1 2017 and DiRT 4 (PS4)

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I’m not breaking any ground by saying that 2017 has been an awesome year in gaming across the board. Whether you like shooters, “adventure” games, third-person action games, platformers, retro games, sports games or VR game, you are in luck with 2017. That brings me to racing games.

While racing or games have been around since basically the beginning of video games — 1974’s Gran Track 10 from Atari — my own experience with them has been far more limited. I’ve played my share of arcade “kart” racers, some of the futuristic racing games, and loved Mario Andretti Racing on Sega Genesis, but I’ve largely avoided the genre. I’m not a “car guy” and haven’t really followed the sport until now.

My desire for a good, proper racing game started to build after seeing the fun Xbox owners had with Forza Horizon 3 last year. As a PS4 owner, I’ve had my eye on Gran Turismo Sport since then. It’s the first racing game I jumped on this year, and while I really enjoy the driving and think the online is pristine, the overall game is missing a career mode focus I was yearning for (at least until the upcoming free DLC is added this month).

This leads me to Codemasters and their masterpieces in F1 2017 and DiRT 4 that released earlier this year. They have been a revelation both in my personal gaming habits and in my sport fandom.

F1 2017

The F1 cars handle like a dream. The act of driving them, even with just my DualShock 4, is plainly a lot of fun. The game features each of the 2017 Formula 1 cars, drivers and tracks, with an additional 12 classic cars from 1988 through 2010 for you to race with.

While the game has a variety of modes — time trials, single Grands Prix and Championship Mode — the meat of the game is in its career mode. This is where I fell in love with the game and the sport as a whole.

As a basic noob to the series, I appreciate the breadth of difficulty and length options available. The game has a sliding scale of 0-110 for computer driving difficulty, on top of a variety of driving assists that include traction control, a visible driving line, brake assist and more. This has been invaluable to me as I familiarize myself with the game. You can also race as few as 3 laps, or up to 100 percent of the actual Grand Prix’s lap time. Within the career, you can also decide how many practice sessions to include, and what kind of qualifying to include.

For my part, I started racing at just a 25 difficulty and 25% race length. That length is the shortest race that allows for pit stops, which is integral to the strategy of an actual Formula 1 race. I’m doing the full practice and qualifying weekend, as well, which gives me a chance to really get to know the track and try to improve my time.

The career mode is packed with strategy and an RPG-like progression system. For my part, I’ve signed on with the Haas racing team. As one of the lower end cars, the Haas has a lot of room to improve. Throughout the career, you decide how to develop your car and what areas to focus on. Haas has decent engine power, but a weak chassis and low downforce, so I’m focusing on those areas. From week to week, you also need to swap out engine parts and your gearbox, though you have a limited number of parts you can use before incurring a penalty.

During a race, your tire choice and pit stop timing plays a huge role in where you finish the race. Now heading into Mexico in my first career season, I’ve grown to really love all of the different moving parts in the game. I have increased the difficulty to 50, and seem to be getting results pretty much on-par with the real-life Haas drivers this season, which slightly more success — after all, fun is more important than strict realism. I love the way the game handles this sliding difficulty.

F1 2017 has my favorite single-player career mode in any sports game, ever. I’ve won two separate Grands Prix now, and am looking forward to, in a future season, becoming the first American F1 champion since Mario Andretti in 1978.

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DiRT 4

The first thing that hit me when I finally clicked on DiRT 4 is the killer soundtrack. The music is just bumping and puts me in the mood to drive fast cars through the countryside.

A recurring theme, I’ve never before played a Rally racing game, or watched Rally Racing of any kind. I bought in solely because I loved F1 and this one went on sale recently.

Driving a Rally race is a thrilling experience, and possibly even moreso than driving an F1 car at 200 miles per hour. The handling of the rally cars feels great, and the career mode is appropriately in-depth. I love buying my cars, tuning them and getting used to them as I go.

Aside from Rally mode, there are also Land Rush events, Rallycross and Historic Rally. The Land Rush and Rallycross events are much more traditional racing events, as you run in heats of 4, 6 or 8 cars to make it to the final championship event. The races are jam-packed, high speed and just plain fun.

The other big part of the game is the ability to “create” your own rally courses, run them and share them online. While the scenery doesn’t change a ton, this provides a ton of replayability to the game.

However, the further I get into DiRT 4, the more that procedural generation starts to gnaw at me. The scenery becomes a little too familiar — I feel like I’ve driven past the same log cabin dozens of times — and the roads just don’t feel like real roads. The cars are still a blast to drive, and I like getting to know each separate make and model.

I just wonder if the game would be better served by having actual rally courses — like WRC 7 — combined with the procedural generation model.

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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]

Madden 17: A Review, Reflection, and look to the future.

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13 days. What could you do in 13 days, friends? As a teacher who is wrapping up a summer of yard work, house projects, movies, and more I feel that in 13 days I could accomplish almost anything. But the 13 is not just an obscure number thrown out to get you thinking; instead, it is the amount of time I have put into Madden 17 on the Xbox One alone. I tend not to play online, except for the multiplayer achievements in the game, as I prefer the franchise mode. Here I get to build up a dynasty in the image I would want–a tough defense, a good running back, a team that limits turnovers, plays fast in all their phases (offense, defense, and special teams), and has the best defensive and offensive lines in the league. In my opinion, teams like this can’t lose.

This year was unlike any other year in Madden for me. My friend Dan and I have played ten seasons so far in this league. The Bears have won 9 Super Bowls, and the Jets have won 1. Our league started with four people–Dan, Brian, our very own Nathan Thomas, and myself. After a season, it expanded to 5 with the great Alex D. replacing Brian (who left under mysterious circumstances) and another friend, Cory. Cory and Alex stayed two seasons, and Alex through some great drafting handed my Bears one of the two losses I have had in 10 seasons in the NFC championship where he fell to Dan’s Jets in the Superbowl.

Below you will see a quick video of some of my favorite moments.

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For those of you who watched the video above, man that last second touchdown was one of my favorite games ever. For those of you who didn’t, you missed out and its only 2 minutes long.

I will go more into this franchise after the review portion, so if the franchise stuff is interesting to you, go ahead and skip to the heading labeled reflection.

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Review:

What makes a football game great? To this gamer, gameplay, customization, control, and modes all mix to create a great experience. Madden has grown from the early days of box-like players to looking completely real. (My father-in-law saw the TV screen when I was playing and asked what game I was watching.)  Players look different–thinner, taller, smaller, bigger. Speed is a premium, and the guys who have it can change the outcome of a game quickly. The game play has changed from my early days and here is what I LOVE and don’t love about Madden 17.

The Good:

  1. A mix of game modes for all players: want to have a 10-year franchise with some great friends? Check. Want to play by yourself in a franchise you control? Check. Want to play with a fantasy draft format? Want to play solo, online, or with friends with that fantasy team? Check! Every mode from online franchise to Draft champions and Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) are all improved on and offer new features to keep them fresh and fun.
  2. Gameplay is King. This is the best playing Madden game so far. The hit stick button, or stick, works well and is determined based on your player’s skills. For example, if you have a great tackler, he will bring the heat. If he’s not so good, you may miss… bad. Passing is the best I have seen, and the control you have as a quarterback is exceptional. Being able to read the coverage, adjust the route, and throw to the proper shoulder have made passing vastly improved from years past.
  3. O-line does their job! The most important part of an offense is the line. If they can get off their blocks, working together, to chip and climb to the backers, you should never get tackled for a loss if you are reading the defense properly.
  4. Defense swarms to the ball! I am so thankful for this. I love building a defense that plays fast and everyone pursues (my favorite skill to add XP too). This game is the best defensive improvement in Madden history (again so far) because I will see 5 Bears jerseys swarm to the ball. Ask Dan, it’s annoying to be on the receiving end.

The Bad:

  1. The fullback still chooses wrong on run plays. The TE’s and O-line being so improved I thought for sure that the fullback would be better. However, often on outside runs, he will not go to the nearest threat and instead climb to the second level leaving you one on with a defensive end or linebacker. This drives me nuts as the mechanic still seems like he should easily be able to take on that threat instead of leaving me out to dry.
  2. Madden Ultimate Team needs to have some form of carry over. I would be much more interested in this game mode if my two favorite players carried over from year to year. I don’t know how hard that mechanic would be, but I would be so down to keep my 99 Jay Cutler from 2015 and carry him with me till the end of time.

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The Reflection:

Ten seasons. I can honestly say this has been my favorite thing I have done in gaming and I got to compete in it with some great folks whom I hold in the utmost esteem. We have played countless games, set records, and had some fun trash talking each other here and there. My Bears became revered, and an almost Yankee-like hatred came towards them from the rest of the league.

Below are some screen shots of the awesome things we have done. Go ahead and look through them. I will have more at the end and will be diving into more of what made this so much fun for me overall a little later.

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Those are just a few of the records we have broken since we started this league. Now on year 10, as we wrap up week 17 with the Bears and Jets 16-0 respectively, I felt the need to write about how much fun this has been for me. Finding a group of gamers that love games the way I do is rare. Finding a group of gamers that enjoy playing Madden as much as I do is even rarer. Before I met Nathan, Dan, Ray, Brian, and Josh thanks to MTTG two years ago, I played games solo. I could have never imagined the added bonus this game has when played with friends. Being able to trade players between teams (thanks Dan for Leonard!), working on draft day deals, scouting out the best players, and occasionally swiping players off of each other’ practice squads has led to an experience I won’t soon forget.

There are three moments that are my favorites, and I wanted to share them with all of you great folks at PSVG.

  1. The turnover bowl. Around year six or seven of our league, Dan and I were playing in the Super Bowl, and for some reason, our offenses refused to score points. By halftime, it was a 7-0 Bears lead, but we had both thrown at least 6 INT’s combined. The game did not get better as we were close to 10+ TO for the game, and it was a narrow margin of victory for the Bears.
  2. Dan and my team met in the regular season, and I played awfully. I was making bad decisions, couldn’t get a read on his play calling, and I was losing by 10 with 3 minutes to go in the game. I was forced to kick a FG and then hope my defense could get me the ball back. It did, but with less than a minute on the clock. I got down the field and scored with seconds left on the clock. I then went for the win, 5 WR,s and I hit Zeke on a slant to score the two-point conversion going up 1. I kicked off and made a tackle for the win as time expired.
  3. Battling Gronk. As you can see in the pictures, Gronk and Nathan are doing work together. He might be the only player who touches the ball; in fact, on the Patriots as Lord Vader (Nate’s created coach), he gave the ball to the big man so much that he was setting record after record. Not to be out done, I decided one season to change my philosophy and went after the record myself. I was able to get the single game marks but fell short some of the season ones set by Gronk and Nash (a drafted QB for the Pats). The rivalry was fun and one that added an extra element to the game for me. Not just to win, but to win and chase these records I had never thought of chasing before.

These were great memories for me as a gamer, and I am so excited to see what Madden 18 brings. I am hoping for some cool features that they haven’t announced to pop up when I pick it up early and dive in (thanks, GOAT edition). With a story mode, draft champions, MUT, and of course Online Franchises to look forward to, I can’t wait to spend 13 more days of the year playing this game with friends. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the field this fall.

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Review: Serial Cleaner (PS4)

See the source image

Have you ever played Hotline Miami and thought, well this is just too messy and sloppy? You’d think he could be a bit neater while going on a mass murder spree? Perhaps instead, you’d rather be cleaning up in the aftermath? Well then, Serial Cleaner might be for you!

Serial Cleaner is a story-driven, fast-paced stealth/action game, characterised by a 1970s theme and aesthetics; with ahem pardon the pun, a killer soundtrack. The main character is tasked with cleaning up after the crime scenes by disposing of the bodies, cleaning up blood, and stealing murder weapons and other incriminating evidence for his employers.

Exploring, experimenting, and fast paced decision making are the key words here. Getting caught and questioned would put a black mark on the protagonist’s career and the environment is often crawling with itchy-fingered police officers accompanied by nosy bystanders. The game uses Real-World Data to modify game play according to the time of day in player’s location. So if you play in the daytime it’s sunny and at night you can operate under the shadows of darkness. In this game there are no fancy tools or skills your player has, you simply must run, hide and grab what you need without being spotted. If you do get caught however you instantly restart but the evidence, blood and bodies may have been moved.

This isn’t a game you can just blow through and rush; you must be patient and observe your surroundings, the patterns of the police patrols, and what you can manipulate in the environment to make your tasks easier. You can clearly see the police patrols line of sight as they walk around the stage making it easier for you to know where you can go without being spotted. One small factor I didn’t like (although ended up utilising frequently) was you can be in the process of being chased by police, jump into a box and hide and they instantly forget they saw you. The game would be much harder otherwise.

But if you are in the need for a fun little stealth romp with a decent level of difficulty, I think this is worth checking out. There is plenty of replay value as there are extra challenge stages where your cleaner is drunk, others won’t allow you to see the guards line of sight. If you are crafty enough and pick up some hidden film reels in the stages you can unlock some bonus levels based on some great movies like Star Wars, Alien, or even Taxi Driver.

Serial Cleaner 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.

Check out some of my gameplay from the earlier stages:

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.

 

Walking Dead A New Frontier Review: (with a spoiler free crust)

When I first heard I would not be playing as Clementine in the Walking Dead season 3, I found myself upset. I played as Lee begrudgingly. He was fine as a character but if he really had that little girls future at heart the whole issue in the city would have never happened and he and she would have been fine!

But after his sacrifice at the end of the season and then playing as Clem in what was a roller coaster of a season and experiences, I just fell in love with her as a character. She had grown before our eyes into a strong lead character who made you want to keep playing. She became my Link, a character who I had no idea what she was thinking despite our choices, and I had no idea if we were going to survive this horrible world.

That however, is why this installment wasn’t called Walking Dead season 3. Instead we really are traveling down a “New Frontier” in this game. New characters, new stories, but that same scary, fear filled world surrounding us.

So for me to say my disappoint was palpable, would be as big of an understatement as saying I only kinda like Madden. So I sadly pressed on and started to play the game. Enter our now character Javier.

As you begin the game you get the feeling Javier is spoiled. Dad’s favorite, running around trying to find himself after being kicked out of major league baseball, never home to help with his family. Why was this so important to me? Because it shows that this is not your normal person who is about to get his world flipped upside down.

Unlike the older games, where your “group” was made up of strangers  you choose to join up and work with, this game starts us with an actual family unit. You play the game as Javier who is traveling with his sister in law and his nephew and niece. You can see that surviving has been hard on them and they are tired. Living out of a van they end up stopping at a junk yard to scavenge for supplies and unknowingly leads them into a set of crazy situations as they are ambushed by raiders, split up, make new friends, and you are forced to save the lives of your family and new friends in the hardest of times.

Trying to stay as spoiler free as I can, I will tell you that this is one of my favorite Telltale games ever. What I like the most is that they got ride of the walking simulator and made the game more choice/action scene centered. I found myself making choices that mattered, choosing who to side with, who to trust, and responding at the particular moment in fun quick time events. There is some walking but not like the first two walking dead games where you can spend hours lost trying to solve those almost puzzles. Why this is a huge plus in my book, is that it lets you dive into this awesome story. Story is the thing that makes Telltale and few companies in my book do it as well as they do.

Another thing that I love about this game and the steps forward it has taken is in the replay-ability. In all the games I have played from telltale, I have never replayed the game on the same console the way I have this one. I have replayed all 5 episodes between 2 and 5 times. Not because I missed something, but because I wanted to see how the outcome would change. I will tell you, loved ones are saved and lost from choices made through out the game. Choose wisely.

The last thing that makes this game so great is timing. The timing and quick button play is smoother than its ever been. No forced moments, no arduous scenes were you are searching and searching for the right combination of things to look at. Just a great over all flow for the gameplay that made it easy to play over and over again. I haven’t rain into any delays or bugs and to reference I have been playing it on Xbox One (the Elite and S models). Some of you might think this is a restatement of my praise from earlier but this is a reference to game play. The controllers are better, timing, etc.

With a great overall story  and the ability to have replay ability and better mechanics, I really think this game is on its way to being one of the best telltale has made so far. Lets hope for more to come from Javier and family and our girl Clem. This gamer was left with all the feels and wanting more from this story line in the future. Here’s hoping E3 and Telltale hear my cry.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helped you want to play some video games.

Injustice 2 Review – PS4/Xbox One

Every now and then, a piece of entertainment sneaks up on you and surprises you in a good way. While it’s hard to argue that Injustice 2 has snuck up on anyone, I personally wasn’t expecting to jump into the game until the crew here at PSVG kept talking about their excitement for it. I’m typically terrible at fighting games, and my knowledge of superheroes basically starts and stops with movies and games — I’d never heard of Blue Beetle or Firestorm, or Gorilla Grodd, prior to this game.

Thanks to others here at PSVG, and my enjoyment of the first game’s story mode, I decided to give Injustice 2 a try. I was smitten from the beginning.

Story Mode

The first thing you will notice is just how good this game looks. The cutscenes are amazing, and the fighting animations are fluid and fun to watch.

The story jumps right in with the destruction of Krypton from Super Girl’s point of view. The timeline jumps forward to a post Injustice: Gods Among Us world as Bruce Wayne and other DC superheroes are still dealing with the fallout of Superman’s evil ways. The story told in Injustice 2 is filled with twists and fun reveals and is a fun romp, if a bit dark.

Throughout the campaign, you fight as your favorite DC heroes, as well as some lesser known ones I loved (Blue Beetle) or hated (Firestorm). The central conflict of Batman’s philosophy versus Superman’s in dealing with criminals plays out amidst an alien invasion from Braniac and his followers.

The pacing as the story builds up to its final climactic battles is tremendous, and I grew far more attached to Harley Quinn, Black Canary and The Flash than I’ve ever been. The main story also has some inherent replayability, as many fights can be fought with one of two characters, and there are two vastly different conclusions to the game depending on a decision you make in the last chapter.

Welcome to the Multiverse

As much as I enjoyed the story, the Multiverse is what has pushed Injustice 2 over the top for me. Through the multiverse mode, you are given various ladders of enemies to fight while upping your characters’ experience and unlocking new gear and shaders.

As part of the PSVG Guild on PS4 — find us by searching this ID: XQN38 — I am working toward something as a larger part of a group. While I am still terrible playing online against other real people who know what they are doing, I can contribute and work toward various goals thanks to the Multiverse and Guilds.

Injustice 2 has a similar loop that has also hooked me in games like Diablo 3, Destiny and Overwatch. Play game, unlock loot boxes (here called Mother Boxes), open them, equip items and repeat. I love how my version of the Flash can look different from someone else’s, and have slightly different stats. I currently have a purple Flash, a white Batman, a Red Black Adam and more.

Final Thoughts

Although it wasn’t on my radar even a few weeks ago, I’ve absolutely loved my time with Injustice 2. The game does feel overwhelming to a fighting-game noob, as I still find it tough to string combos together. And as good as the story is, I could see the ending coming from a mile away — though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The currency system is also somewhat confusing, and there is a definite feeling of being pushed for microtransactions.

But the game is just plain fun to play, and I look forward to continuing to play it in the coming months.

What the rest of the PSVG Team Thinks:

Nathan:

I would not consider myself a fighting game fan, but when I saw the first Injustice I decided I wanted to try it. I really enjoyed it, just because of the story and the smooth gameplay. When Injustice 2 was announced, I already had a bit of built in hype from the first.

I purchased the Ultimate Edition, which comes with instant character skin unlocks for Power Girl, John Stewart Green Lantern, and Reverse Flash, as well as 2 sets of exclusive “shaders”, and the upcoming slate of nine downloadable characters. Safe to say, I went all in on this game! My purchase feels justified, as I write this, I have played over 20 hours on the Xbox One version of the game.

The combat feels right, the moves are not too complicated, and it just looks spectacular! I would say that it serves novice and experienced fighting genre gamer fans, as it is easy to learn, but harder to master. The story is fantastic, paired with absolutely stunning visuals in the cut scenes make you want to progress past each fight to find out what happens next, and find out which character you know from the comics will make an appearance! In my opinion, the story in this game is better than the recent DC movies, and superior to the story of Captain America: Civil War.

In all, this game is a must play. I’d recommend at least seeking out the stitched together cut scenes of the first game so you can understand the story going in. Past the story mode, the multiverse mode offers great arcade-type challenges, as well as character endings for each fighter in the Battle Simulator. As you play, you also unlock “Mother Boxes” which give you random gear for your fighters that adds to the unique experience you have. This customization lets you fight unique versions of characters in the Multiverse, as they are randomly given appearances. It really keeps things fresh and interesting! PLAY THIS GAME!

 

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Kyle H.:

Fighting games are the genre I wish I could wreck house in, but I usually just get wrecked. Despite that, I like jumping into fighting games as the thrill of the one versus one combat is something difficult to replicate in other games. Injustice 2 capitalizes on this sensation and throws in just about everything and the kitchen sink to keep you engaged.

The campaign is surprisingly robust, you can join in evolving multiverse events, participate in a guild to take on challenges as a group, unlock unique gear to customize your favorite combatants, oh, and you can also do traditional online competitive battles against other (almost always better) players.

Tight controls, slick visuals, and unique additions to traditional fighting games make Injustice 2 an easy game to recommend, even if you are not deeply knowledgeable about the DC comic universe.

There are a few drawbacks: the multiple types of in-game currency, expensive DLC characters, and a plethora of different loot crates you can earn (or purchase) all point to a game that is looking to squeeze every cent it can get out of you. If you are patient, there will likely be a “Game of the Year” addition in a year or so with everything in it at a far more reasonable price. However, if you can handle the cost, or are free from the compulsion to have every piece of content for a game, Injustice 2 is a fighting game that will punch its way into your heart.

Kevin:

With a storyline so good that the DCEU should pay attention and get these guys to write their movies, this is the most fun I’ve had with a fighting game since Smash Bros. Great roster with more coming down the pipeline, no character seems to be overpowered, it’s all about balance and knowing your opponent. Very deep online and gear mechanics, lots to do and keeping you coming back for a long time.  Good for strategists and button-mashers alike, a must have for any fighting game fan or super hero fan for that matter. Now if we can just get them to use some of the CW stuff. 

Injustice 2 was purchased and reviewed by the authors on the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy..

 

What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4) Review

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I am not sure when it happened, but at some point, it seems “walking simulator” became a pejorative. As a result, you do not have to look far to find a message board or discussion about renaming the genre to something more representative of what happens in the game: First-Person Experience/Exploration, Interactive Story Adventure, First Person Narrative, and the list goes on and on. It’s accurate you do more than walk in these games, but I do not mind calling the walking simulators…because I tend to like the genre. I enjoyed Firewatch, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and because of my experience with The Unfinished Swan finding out the folks at Giant Sparrow were making a walking sim had me intrigued. That interest was paid back multiple times over.

What Remains of Edith Finch has you taking control of Edith as she heads to her childhood home in hopes of piecing together the mysterious history of her family. Each story about a family member presents itself as a stand-alone vignette and the gameplay in each is unique. These scenes vary from splendid to downright brilliant. From a story perspective, that is all I am telling you. As someone who is not typically bothered by spoilers, this is one experience where I believe the less you know, the better.

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If you have not enjoyed walking sims in the past, there is a chance you could get into this one. The world is beautiful and a joy to navigate. The story is told with both voice-over and the narrative being painted over parts of the world as you progress through the story. You spend the majority of the game exploring Edith’s childhood home, and it may be the single best realization of a home in a video game. The rooms overflow with memorabilia and knick-knacks appropriate to the family member. As the story unfolds you find references to specific things you have found elsewhere in the home.

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One aspect of What Remains of Edith Finch that may go overlooked, but should not, is the beautiful soundtrack. Created by Jeff Russo, who has done some excellent TV soundtracks (Fargo, Legion, The Night Of, and others) it is soaring and robust with a sense of mystery and intrigue and fits the game perfectly. A fun fact is that Jeff is an original member of the 90s band Tonic, and I would highly recommend his work there as well!

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When I sat down to play What Remains of Edith Finch I was hoping for a good experience based on the enjoyable time I had with The Unfinished Swan. What I did not expect was another game to enter into my running for my game of the year. While it is a brief experience (about 90 minutes to 2 hours, ideally done in one sitting), I have thought more about this game since I played it than I have most other games this year. In what has been a strong start to the year, What Remains of Edith Finch would be easy to overlook, but in doing so, you would be missing out on one of the best games of 2017.

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What Remains of Edith Finch is a reminder in a busy 2017 that some of the best games come from the smallest experiences.

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Akiba’s Beat Review – PS4

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NEET: Short for “Not in Employment, Education, or Training.”Typically considered to be underskilled shut-ins who live by themselves in humble yet comfortable apartments, NEETs are known to mooch off their parents’ good will to play video games and watch anime all day instead of looking for work.

Asahi Tachibana is a textbook NEET, living a lazy, cozy life in Akihabara, the infamous Tokyo suburb renowned for its proliferation of anime and video game merchandise, maid cafes, pop idols, and all other forms of counterculture indulgence. To him, every day is Sunday, and every Sunday is a fun day.

Little does he know, however, that every day is about to become Sunday for real! Caught in a temporal loop, where the day restarts as soon as it ends, Asahi is one of only a chosen few whose memories don’t reset with it. He and his merry band of time-displaced losers must now scour Akihabara for signs of “delusions” – people’s innermost fantasies made manifest, changing the cityscape and the behavior of its citizens alike. It is the duty of this ragtag team (whether they like it or not) to infiltrate and destroy these delusions, restoring the natural order of Akiba in the vain hope that each loop may be their last.

During the course of this increasingly improbable quest, Asahi and his companions will unravel a deep, twisted mystery that blurs the line between the physical world and that of mankind’s innermost desires. Can this band of misfits restore normalcy (or what passes for normalcy) to Akihabara? Or will they succumb to the will of the enigmatic pink-caped man, who seems to be the key to everything…?

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I initially agreed to take this assignment because I figured it’s been quite some time since I’ve dove into a good old JRPG, and well for better or for worse, I certainly got more than i bargained for with Akiba’s Beat. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of it all I will say the localization for this title was REALLY well done. I didn’t run into any of the poor translation we sometimes are exposed to in the world of JRPGs and the voice-acting is top notch anime style. I’m not a fan of anime at all so the voice acting to me seemed to be a little over the top and corny, BUT, I know that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be so I can at least appreciate that.

The art style too especially in the conversation screens are done in traditional anime style, and is very well done. The music holds up as well. Music changes as the mood and tone changes as well as your environment. Most of the music is techno, EDM, or JPOP so it fits the setting perfectly.

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The game overall though does seem a bit fractured. There are basically two styles of gameplay featured here: heavy story involvement where you walk around and converse with other characters and running small tasks here and there. This is where you get most (if not all) of your story from.Every character to encounter and engage with is fully voice acted as well which is a nice touch keeps you more engaged than just reading text box after text box.

Combat, my favorite part of this game, plays out like a strategic hack and slash. You can customize the rest of your party by selecting who the attack (closest, weakest, same as you), how often they use their special abilities and even their items. In this regard it did remind me a lot  like Kingdom Hearts.While it might seem easy, if you rush in without thinking or planning it’ll end really quick. When you hit a certain combo level you can activate your special attack modes which greatly multiply your damage and can make quick work of your foes.

 

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Now for all it’s got going for it, this game does have some shortcomings, and they did really bother me and effected my scoring when it comes down to it. This game has about 20 hours of action wrapped in an 80 hour cut scene. To give it the anime reference equivalent, it’s like watching a season of Dragonball Z, there is hours and hours of build up before anything actually happens. I attempted to stream some gameplay to post with this review and I had played for almost an hour before I was able to fight a single person/creature. As fun as I think the combat is, it was frustrating that I ened up button mashing and not even listening or reading the dialog while attempting to get to that point. Even with using said strategy it was still 45 min before getting to a fighting sequence.

Now maybe it’s because I haven’t had much exposure to these types of games lately, wanted to dive into Persona and such, but if this is the pattern these games take. I don’t think I will be diving back in anytime soon. If you are a big fan of Anime and can get behind the slow moving story then I think you would definitely enjoy this title. If you are not, I think this game is a hard pass for you.

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Review: Seasons After Fall

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It has been an amazing year for games in 2017 thus far, with huge releases such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Horizon Zero Dawn just to name a few. A large majority of these big releases have something in common, in that they all feature extensive storylines in a massively open world. While it may be a blast to explore the vastness of space or the impressive landscape of Hyrule, sometimes I need a game that gives me a smaller more focused experience. This is the exact reason I absolutely adored the time I spent with Seasons After Fall.

 

I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed the art style of Seasons After Fall. Exploring the beautiful lush forest setting felt like diving into a children’s book with hand-drawn illustrations. There have certainly been other 2D games that feature a hand-painted art style but the artists at Swing Swing Submarine certainly have a unique style of their own that looks great. Part of the charm of this art style is the way the game’s mechanics affect the visuals throughout the entire game. Instantly changing seasons is an important mechanic for gameplay reasons but it’s impressive to see the instant change in color palettes and weather effects as I traversed through the forest. I found myself changing seasons for no reason other than to check out what season looked best in each area.

Seasons After Fall is a 2D puzzle platformer, at least that is how I would define its genre but there is more to this game than that. The main mechanic is the ability to change seasons instantly which transforms the world around you. The different seasons affect puzzle components differently creating a system of transforming puzzles. On the surface, this system looks new but after a few hours of gameplay, I found the system to feel very familiar to past puzzle systems just with a different skin on it. The puzzle areas were fun to solve but there were just enough repeated puzzles to get frustrating.

 

I wasn’t expecting a deep story from Seasons After Fall and I was right to assume I would be getting a minimalist storyline. With that said, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with what story is in Seasons After Fall. Much like the art style itself, I found the story to feel like an illustrated short story. Reaching a point in the areas that triggered some story narration was always a delight and there was much more to the story than I expected in the beginning. Avoiding spoilers, I will just say that everything isn’t how it seems in the beginning of the game and expect some twists throughout a playthrough.

 

The most impressive part of Seasons After Fall is something that is often difficult to explain, the experience and flow of the game. As I traversed the different areas in the game I noticed a flow of gameplay that felt perfect. The fantastic live string quartet music came in at just the right moments, the narration was never interrupted by gameplay, and I rarely felt stuck in a dull area. The impressive music played a large part in this experience I had, I couldn’t help but feel excited as I reached a new area and the music gradually built up to an orchestrated symphony of string instruments.

 

If you’re looking for a break from the massive open worlds that have been flooding the new releases list lately then I would certainly suggest giving this enjoyable platformer a look. The art style alone isn’t enough to carry a new game into success which is why I was happy to find an interesting story with amazing music and fun puzzles within Seasons After Fall. Of course, the gorgeous hand-painted art style certainly helps the enjoyment to be had while playing Seasons After Fall.

Seasons After Fall was reviewed using an Ps4 code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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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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Robinson: The Journey (PS VR) Review

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Locomotion is one of the obstacles that might prevent VR from gaining mass appeal. In traditional games, we take for granted our characters are walking forward, turning smoothly, and looking a different direction than we are moving. In VR though, all of those things I just listed can make some people lose their lunch. Robinson: The Journey takes the brave step of letting your character “walk” forward. Turning is incremental, but most of your movement is a smooth motion, and it was something I felt immediately. I was not motion sick per se, but I just felt funny…almost stressed. Supposedly the more you play VR games, the more you get your VR “legs, ” and this feeling begins to subside. Unfortunately it never really waned during my playthrough of Robinson, but I still found plenty of things to like about it!

One criticism facing VR games is they cannot look as good as “traditional” games. Graphical concerns are especially valid on PS VR since it is hamstrung by the power of the console whereas Vive and Oculus can use beefy PCs to push higher visuals. Apparently, folks forgot to tell Crytek because Robinson is a beautiful game that helps to tell the story of Robin and his robot companion HIGS. The environment is lush, the animals and beasts you come across look and move as you would expect, and the human constructed aspects feel genuine. This game presents like a AAA title.

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From a gameplay perspective, Robinson feels almost like a first-person adventure game. The focus is on exploration and light puzzle solving. One mechanic pulled in from Crytek’s game The Climb is how you scale rock surfaces, ladders, etc. by looking at the surface you want to grab and using the appropriate shoulder button to reach for it. When it works well, it does create an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. When it is not functioning well, the frustration levels can be significant. When you combine this with the fact you must use the DualShock 4 (even though the item Robin carries in his hand looks like a Move controller) I often felt like I lacked a bit of precision. Finicky controls occasionally appeared in the puzzle solving as well.

The puzzles range from pretty straightforward to quite vague, but the difficulty in solving them typically comes from being able to manipulate objects in the way you want, or even knowing what you need to do. It was not uncommon for me to try to throw objects off cliffs in hopes the would respawn as that was easier than trying to reorient an object.  HIGS will occasionally provide some direction or assistance, as does your other companion, a young t-rex named Laika, but your wit and ingenuity will have to solve most problems. (On a side note, Laika contributed to my scariest moment in VR yet when I turned to call her, not realizing she was already behind me, and I was met with t-rex seemingly inches from my face. I jumped a bit in my seat.) One side task you perform throughout the game is scanning wildlife to document them. While conceptually it does not seem like it should be fun (the animals become filled with green and red dots, and you have to look at all the green while avoiding the red to scan them) I could not stop doing it.

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Navigating the environment in Robinson ranges from joyous to a challenge. The setting is beautiful, but since you walk and do not warp, you move very slowly. When I knew where to go, I did not mind this. If I was unsure of my destination, there were no map waypoints, and I was left to wander while I figured out where to go next. Granted, this did not happen often, but I never looked forward to it when it did. If you knew exactly where to go, this game would be a pretty quick experience (three to four hours I would guess), but my playthrough was fleshed out a bit by some wandering.

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Robinson: The Journey does some things well (graphics, environment, scanning of animals, environmental storytelling) but the actual act of playing the game can sometimes be frustrating. With a bit more refinement this could stand-out as one of the pillars of VR. As it sits, Robinson is another example of the excellent potential of VR.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_circle_counter admin_label=”Circle Counter” title=”Potential Personified” number=”68″ percent_sign=”off” background_layout=”light” bar_bg_color=”#001bed” /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] Robinson: The Journey was reviewed using a PS VR code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s  review policy on our disclaimer page here. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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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