Project Root: OPQAM’s Retro Inspired Shmup Reverbs The Nostalgia Meter

Project Root shipComing up on the radar from publisher Reverb Triple XP is Project Root, an arcade-style space shooter with a nicely retro vibe and shiny modern visuals. Headed to PS4, Vita and Xbox One on April 28 after landing on Steam last year, the game packs in a few fixes over the original version as well as Cross-Buy for PS4 and Vita owners.

Developer OPQAM has added a great little twist to the usual side or vertical scrolling shmup by giving players a full 360 degrees of movement, allowing them to play levels as they see fit. If you know your game history fairly well, you’ll see that this free roaming style of shooter isn’t *new* by any means if you’re old enough to remember Thunder Force II on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (or Sharp X68000 PC if you’re REALLY old school*). The chance to preview the game via a work-in progress build popped up recently and yes, when opportunity knocks, an return call must be made… Continue reading

GTA V PC: Beyond The Almost Uncanny Valley of the Dolls


 

Oh the places you’ll go next week when Grand Theft Auto V finally hits PC. Well, those of you who have systems capable of running the game, that is. The two high-end system trailers that show off the main game and Online Heists multiplayer mode look spectacular enough to almost fool the eye. This should be the definitive version of the game, which means those who can play it will have some fine bragging rights and fun videos to post as they play through the game they’ve been waiting for for quite some time. As long as there are no crippling launch issues and day one patching woes, I’d gather there are going to be a great deal of happy campers spending all their free time with this one.

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Ember Update: N-Fusion’s Late Baby Gets Bigger and Better


 

EMBER logoYes, Ember was supposed to be out last fall, but as CEO and creative director Jeff Birns explained at 505 Games recent NYC event, the team at N-Fusion has been a bit busy making things even better. The game looked fantastic when I first saw it, but it’s even more gorgeously detailed and as noted in my previous article, the best-looking isometric RPG on any device. Many new areas have been added, older areas have gotten changes and parts that needed work have indeed been worked on. Ten years of work and a proprietary engine that won’t quit go a long way in realizing a dream, is all I’ll say about the art and vast, carefully detailed open world players will get to explore.

I’ll even go out on a limb to say it definitely gives some PC role-playing games of any era a run for their money. Apple clearly has an exclusive to be proud of (the Steam version will most likely be released at some point after the iOS version), but how do you market such an amazing game on a device where most of its games really haven’t been marketed to the masses like AAA console games are?

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Retro Sunday: The Maze of Galious

The Maze of GaliousSo, I’m soaking in La-Mulana EX on the Vita (or, it’s kicking my butt six ways ’til Sunday and today’s Sunday!) and I finally realized one game that was a huge influence on it is still out there and free for anyone to try. The Maze of Galious is an excellent fan-made remake of Konami’s 1987 MSX classic Knightmare II: The Maze of Galious.

Anyway, if you’re up to the challenge of a game made to test your skill while showing off some cool features implemented by the team who remade it, go grab this now and take it for a spin. You’ll get two playable characters, a HUGE map to explore in any order you wish and ten bosses to face off against. It’s “pay attention!” gaming at its finest, as while you can go anywhere you like, death awaits at the slightest mistake on your part. Have you got what it takes to get Popolon and Aphrodite to the end of their journey? I can very safely say that this game sure doesn’t think so because it tries its hardest to stop you from succeeding.

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Cults & Daggers: Rework That Old Time Religion to Your Advantage

Cults & Daggers Logo
 

 

Rod Humble PhotoUnless you’re the sort of person who’s been around gaming for a while, maybe follows a bit of industry news and happens to read game credits all the way to the end, you may not know who Rod Humble is. Hopefully you’ve clicked that link and did some fast reading, because through his new company, multimedia studio Chaphat he’s got a new game coming soon that’s going to most likely get a lot of people talking and hopefully playing solo or against each other in once they give it a try.

Cults & Daggers is “a sprawling and complex strategy game set in the Hellenistic era between the death of Buddha and the birth of Christ.” If that wasn’t intriguing enough, the press release continues: “As the Old Gods plot to destroy a planet they can no longer rule, players are tasked with creating their own religion to fight a secret war for the soul of the world.” Reading that made me think of a little Lovecraftian undercurrent at play. But as I still need to try out a demo, I’ll hold out on any over-speculation as to exactly where the game goes.

Cults and Daggers 1152015As your head is spinning around that heady description and the screenshot gallery below is piquing your curiosity, the power of “cripes” compels you to read on for more info. On one hand, Cults & Daggers is a turn-based strategy game that’s decidedly very old school in terms of presentation and gameplay modes. but this is exactly the sort of game that will appeal to a wide range of players young and old who like the challenge found here. As you can see, this isn’t a graphics card showpiece at all, but more of a designer’s dream project. The board game-like layout, simple menus, creative use of artwork and plenty of lovely fonts all show off a game you won’t mistake for something else on the market.

Cults and Daggers 1152015 (13)Granted, bringing up religion in almost any context that may be seen as “negative” by its more core followers is a tricky thing to do. That said, Cults & Daggers appeals to the imagination in a “What if?” and looks to spin its web around your curious side as it hooks you into its world. The best historical strategy games are those where you can hop in for hours immersed in the gameplay and this one looks like it’s going to be up there with the classics of the genre.

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Here’s what to expect in the final version of the game:

Features

  • Secretly manipulate the rise and fall of great cities throughout 400 years of history
  • Gain influence by building temples, performing sacrifices, preaching, recruiting noble families, etc.
  • Weaken opponents through blasphemy, assassination, robbery and subversion
  • Destroy evil places of power to thwart the Old Gods and earn grand rewards
  • Disciple skills include teaching, killing, hiding, performing spells & curses, preaching and more!
  • Carefully manage your religion’s Faith and Hope levels in order to gain power and influence
  • Spend Faith and Occult to cast spells, and bring curses and miracles to the world
  • Extensive Single player with procedurally generated disciples and city data
  • Multiplayer for up to 4 via Multiplayer Hot Seat and Play-By-E-Mail (PBEM)
  • Procedurally generated technology tree and adventure system
  • In-depth modeled spying system allows for deep subterfuge
  • Game includes free Cults & Daggers ambient music album

With all that in store for those who hop on the Cults & Daggers bandwagon, it’s clear that Humble and Chaphat want this game to be one of those “evergreen” titles that people can pick up and play for years without ever growing tired of it. The deep complexity and lack of flashy visuals will most likely keep this off of anything but home computers or laptops. On the other hand, who knows that will happen if this one takes off and gets a cult following (pun intended). As usual, we shall see.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Trailer: Die Learning to Die

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Coming to PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on April 7, 2015, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin will bring FromSoftware’s hard as hell-made nails game to those new consoles with a number of changes and improvements over the original release. For those rolling their eyes about the prospect of repurchasing the game just for spiffier visuals and every bit of DLC content included for free, fear not. Enemy placement throughout the game is vastly different and their AI has been dialed up even further.


 

Additionally, the number of enemy mobs has been increased, making the already challenging game much more so. All that and it seems that both offline and online players will have to now worry about a super-tough new foe that can invade their games with intent to do them in. Online fans looking for a fight will love the now 6-player PvP, although “love” is kind of a subjective term here. There’s nothing quite like being invaded mid-game by a bunch of people who you don’t know who may or may not be wanting to help you adventure.

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Finally, that subtitle refers to an all-new NPC who’s chock full of information and meeting up with him will no doubt lead to new areas and content in the game. As you can see here, the official Dark Souls II website has announced a new patch for current owners of the original game that adds a ton of new features and content that will prepare players for the April release of Scholar of the First Sin. The great thing about all this is this reworked version of Dark Souls II is not only geared for veteran players who’ve mastered the game, but new players who want to see what all the fuss is about.

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Yes, From has also added new NPC’s who can assist new players with the ins and outs of survival in such an unforgiving world. But don’t expect casual hand-holding or an assist if you bite off more that you can chew. The latter is what the assorted not so wee beasties are supposed to to and I’m betting plenty of players old and new will become meals off wheels when Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin arrives in about two months.

Goetia Hands-On: Spirit in the Material World Needs A Helping Hand

 

Haunting my inbox was an invite from Agnieszka Szostak to check out a brief demo of Goetia, a point and click mystery adventure game from French indie developer Sushee. The game is currently half funded on Kickstarter with about 21 days to go, a good sign for a game of this type. The demo clocks in at about an hour of play and shows off a game well worth keeping an eye on.

Goetia_Blacwood_Manor_Outside In the game, you’ll play as Abigail Blackwood,or more precisely, the ghost of Abigail Blackwood. She rises from her grave one gloomy evening and after realizing she’s no longer among the living, also discovers that there’s a mystery to be solved at her family’s seemingly abandoned manor nearby. While the demo takes place entirely in the mansion and it’s grounds, Sushee says the final build will have a lot more ground to cover.  The cool thing is, it’s entirely up to players as to how to proceed thanks to Abby’s ghostly, spherical form. As a ghost, she can travel through some walls and floors as well as interact with and manipulate objects in order to solve puzzles and progress through an even deeper mystery.

Goetia_Blacwood_Manor_Interior Some areas are blocked off by mysterious runes that require knowledge of how to dispel, so Abby will need to scour every nook and cranny for clues. The object manipulation is actually really cool, as it allow Abby to “be” an item for as long as you wish to float it around the screen. Solving some puzzles involves multiple steps of manipulation, but the interface only has three icon-based actions to deal with.

Abby can look, use or inhabit certain items and combining these skills (plus some careful reading of found documents) is key to success. The game is also reminiscent of the hugely popular “hidden object” genre that has far too many titles to count. Goetia requires a bit more grey matter activation, as there’s a nice layer of complexity to figuring some things out. Combine that with an open environment and you have the makings of an instant genre classic.

Goetia_Abbey_Ruins Visually, the game is quite lovely in a simple non-system hog manner reminiscent of classic side-scrolling PC point and click games from the 90’s. That said, the use of lighting and parallax scrolling are brilliantly implemented, giving the game a nice sense of realism. As Abby is just a sphere-shaped spirit, you’re not going to be seeing her girlish figure animating anything but the objects she possesses. So, if you’re looking at this for the potential of playing as a hidden statue, candlestick or other otherwise inanimate object, go on ahead and dive into that demo with relish.

If you’re still rocking a system that runs Windows XP, fear not. There’s a 32-bit demo you can play that’s exactly the same. This is a smart move by Sushee because believe it or not, plenty of people still use that well-aged OS. I’m also sure part of the target audience for a game like this skews older enough to not be spending rent money on keeping up with the latest gaming rig setups.

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All kidding aside, Goetia’s story is compelling in the manner it rolls out, enveloping you in a multi-layered mystery that so far, makes for a game worth funding and/or buying outright once it’s completed. Here’s what to expect in the final version:

  • A 2D world of Victorian mystery.
  • Over 90 rooms to explore.
  • Five vast and diverse areas to discover – Blackwood Manor is surrounded by ruins, woods, caves and an abandoned village.
  • A progressive-rock and ambient-inspired soundtrack.
  • Use your ability to walk through walls in order to reach secret rooms and areas.
  • Possess objects like a poltergeist to lift them, use them, combine them, make them float in the air, pile them up… well, you’re a ghost after all, behave like one!
  • Solve puzzles in more than one way by discovering hidden rooms and special features, such as new ghostly powers.
  • Delve into Blackwood’s story: 40 years have passed, and many things have changed since Abigail’s death.
  • Feel free to explore! You can travel through the world of Goetia however you like – and if you get stuck, simply backtrack and explore another area.

Goetia is set for an October release on PC and Mac. As for other platforms, let’s just say “who knows”, but the controls certainly make it seem like it’s going to be a very mobile-friendly port for those of you who prefer your games a bit more portable.

Little Orbit Wants Your Character In The New Adventure Time Game!

Adventure Time_CharactersAre you a BIG Adventure Time fan with an artistic bent? Well, Little Orbit wants you! Or more precisely, they want your artwork! The publisher is running a contest where one lucky winner will have his or her character design used in the next Adventure Time videogame coming to consoles and PC. When? Well, I dunno, but the contest only runs for a short time (as in NOW until February 17, 2015).

The rules are simple (and below the jump) and if you win, you’ll be able to brag all over the internet and deal with people trying to bash your dreams into powdered atoms because that’s what they do these days. Yeah, well… just avoid the deathtrap spiral that comes from commenting to every dope who wants to rain on your day and you’ll do fine. Contest info and links below the jump. Go do some finger-stretches or whatever it is artists do before drawing, read on and go win big!

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Brandish: The Dark Revenant – Whip Out That PSP One More Time!

Brandish TDR logoI was going to use the word “Brandish” twice in that title, but my brain is all fried up from today’s rather mind-boggling “finale” to the kitchen repair job that still has me reeling. They’re done… but NOT done. I give up! Well, not quite yet, but man… am I wiped out from all this nonsense.

Anyway, next week (January 13) sees Nihon Falcom’s remake of its classic Super Nintendo RPG Brandish land on PSN for the PSP and Vita rechristened as Brandish: The Dark Renevant. I need something nostalgic like this to keep me sane, so it looks as if it’s going in the queue. Xseed Games deserves props one more for keeping the PSP alive after all these years,but as noted, the game will also run perfectly on the Vita as well as PlayStation TV if you’ve committed some money to that newer device/service. $19.99 is the MSRP and the game promises some old school challenge just like the original (but harder!).

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As for what the game is all about, a peek below the jump should satisfy your curiosity… Continue reading

Review: Elegy for a Dead World

Elegy For A Dead World CAPlatform: PC/Mac/Linux

Developer: Dejobaan Games

Publisher: Dejobaan Games

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: N/A

Official Site

Score: A- (90%)

 

Whether or not you like to write, there’s an excellent chance that you love storytelling in one way or another. Dejobaan Games’ excellent Elegy for a Dead World is a game about writing that’s not just for writers and to some “gamers” out there, isn’t really a videogame in the traditional sense. There are no scores tallied, no bad guys to dispatch, and only three relatively small and short themed planets to explore. But it’s neither the journey nor the destination that’s the selling point here.

elegy_ks_gif The game encourages you to sit down, unhook your brain from its box and let your fingers do the talking as you write anything you wish. Yes, there are numerous writing prompts you can use and there’s great fun in pretending to speak in another voice as some of the prompts suggest. But for some players, the experience of free-styling their way through each world and sharing their stories with others will be the big draw… Continue reading