Torchlight Frontiers: An Eyebrow is Raised – Hopefully, a Banner Will Follow

This one came as a surprise because I thought the Torchlight games were dead and gone. But it seems Perfect World Entertainment, Arc, developer Ectra Inc. (which includes some of the team behind a few classic ARPGs including the Torchlight and Diablo games) are going to be dropping an all-new online centered experience in 2019. Here’s the promo trailer for Torchlight Frontiers (which isn’t gameplay, sadly):

(Thanks, Play Torchlight!)

Here’s the official word so far:

Introducing the next iteration of the award-winning Torchlight series: Torchlight Frontiers!

Set in the same beloved universe as Torchlight I and II, this shared-world action-RPG brings back many of the franchise’s signature features and mechanics that captured the hearts of ARPG fans around the world. Led by former Runic Games and Blizzard North co-founder, Max Schaefer, the team developing Torchlight Frontiers is comprised of veteran developers who were responsible for the games that defined the ARPG genre, including the original Diablo and Torchlight franchises.

Torchlight Frontiers combines the heart of the beloved Torchlight series with a shared, persistent and dynamically generated world. In true Torchlight style, players will team up with friends and devoted pets to hack and slash their way through a vibrant world, discover ancient ruins of lost civilizations and brave dungeons filled with riches and dangerous creatures. Additional details about Torchlight Frontiers will be revealed at a later date.

The good news is the pedigree along with Perfect World’s generally solid track record in the MMO scene. The shared, persistent world business means this will likely be an online only game with solo play as an option similar to what’s found in Neverwinter (a game I’m currently playing and enjoying). I’ll gather this will also be free to play with paid content, but we’ll see where that all goes. I like the art style in the trailer, although I’m hoping the game goes for a look closer to Torchlight II and/or won’t require a super-powerful PC to run. The console plans mean it should look similar across the board, which is a good thing in my book.

Torchlight Frontiers will be available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at some point in 2019, but we’ll need to definitely get some hands-on time with a build at some point to see what’s what. Fingers crossed (and yes, cross-platform play would be keen, Sony).

-GW

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Red Dead Redemption II Gameplay Trailer: The Wild Punch Lands in October

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I never do this because such speculation is inherently ridiculous especially when it comes to product that’s still not released, but I’ll take the risk and call Red Dead Redemption II my Game of the Year and it’ll be yours as well. Take a look:

 

(Thanks, Rockstar Games!)

 

Of course, as I’ve noted previously, it was clear as soon as the game was officially announced that Rockstar was going to be redefining the open world game once again, so it’s a bit redundant to be heaping praise when that bar was being raised was also one set in each of the large scale games they’ve created.  Anyway, I’ve got nothing left to say because this gameplay footage speaks very well enough for itself. Me? I’m going to watch this a few more times while trying to figure out a long list of excuses to not venture outside so I can spend way too much time playing this.

Worth buying a console over and pre-ordering? Absolutely, I say.

-GW

The Bard’s Tale Trilogy Returns as a Re-Remake Worth a Buy

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So, I’d been only lightly following inXile’s progress on The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep with the knowledge that the game was going to be quite impressive and when all of a sudden this trailer pops up in the inbox and waves at me. Well hello there, beautiful. Color me surprised and thrilled, ladies and germs:

 

(thanks, inXile!)

 

Nice. While it would have been great to get these in one download (or disc if it’s console bound), spreading the releases out over time means players can actually finish each game and have room left for part IV whenever it’s released. It’s always great to see Krome Studios hard at work (they’ve been one of my favorite developers since the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger days). Hmmm. Time to start carving out some spare time because it’s looking like Skara Brae might be a decent (albeit dangerous) vacation spot for a little while.

-GW

Review: Dead Cells (PS4)

Dead_Cells_PS4Bordeaux, France based developer Motion Twin’s absolutely superb Dead Cells ($24.99) is exactly the sort of game that belongs on a disc in a case with a manual you can whip out and peruse as you play. I’m tossing this out there because the game truly feels like one of those instant classics you want to come home from a long workday and unwind with. As in walking through your front door, kicking off your shoes, tossing your bag onto a chair and going through the whole ritual of opening a game case, popping that disc into your system (or game card if you’re a Switch owner) and settling in for a solid play session.  The game blends its influences marvelously and (as much as I despise the term) is indeed one of the finest “Metroidvania” style games to date. Actually, the developer calls it a “RogueVania” which is a bit better, but whatever – this one’s a must buy no matter what you prefer calling it.

(Thanks, PlayStation!)

In a nutshell, you’re playing a rather dead but reanimated (and excellently animated) immortal character who needs to survive a treacherous trip through a sprawling series of randomly laid out themed levels. Before you get all twisted out of shape thinking of games that get this randomization wrong, this is one case where the dev team nails it. When you die (and you will die early and often), the game sends you back to the beginning of the map you bought the farm on and upon restarting, you’ll notice the layout has changed but you’ll face off against the same enemies while retaining learned skills.  It’s a dash of what you’re expecting (Castlevania, Metroid, Demon’s Souls, assorted roguelikes and roguelites) with some nicely implemented dark comic touches that add some great humor to the game. No checkpoints means you’ll need to learn to survive by playing and replaying sections in order to die less (or not at all). But each death ends up meaningful for a few reasons you’ll eventually discover.

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INSOMNIA: The Ark: 8 Years in the Making Means a Lot of Sleepless Nights for RPG Fans

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From the inbox it came… and it looks pretty cool, I think:

 

(Thanks, INSOMNIA: The Ark!)

 

My current backlog is rather huge, but it looks as if I’ll need to carve out some quality time to check out Studio Mono’s INSOMNIA: The Ark, which is set for a September release on Steam.  According to its press release (continued below the jump… suspense!):

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Review: The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M)

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Get it from Amazon, or get it from the author himself with a some cool freebies (US buyers only on those), but just get it period if you’re an SNES fan.

Once again, I have the pleasure to plunge into another hefty, well-written tome by Brett Weiss and once again, it’s a must buy. Published by Schiffer Books, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)  is a solid 416 pages packed with Weiss’ personable personal reminiscences, recollections and remembrances (okay, they’re kind of the same thing, but I’m feeling a bit florid in my hyperbole today) on over 350 games for Nintendo’s stellar 16-bit console that, along with the Sega Genesis and other competitors, battled back and forth during the 1990’s for those hard-earned gamer dollars. Despite strong competition, until the Sony PlayStation’s dominance of the console space starting in 1994-95, the SNES ended up with a seven-year lifespan (the last officially licensed game was Frogger in 1998) and more than enough stellar titles to write a book about. Well, Weiss has written two SNES books (the second volume will be out at some point and I can’t wait to pore through that).

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There are also brief reviews from Weiss on the games he’s played along with other reviews and impressions ranging from short to lengthy and comedic to tragic from dozens of contributors that add interesting and sometimes multiple takes on certain key to not-so-key titles in the library.  I did a very short gargle-blab on one of my favorite games on the console, ALIEN³ that should have been longer in retrospect, but I think I wrote that close to the time (unbeknownst to me, surprise!)  I was about to be hospitalized for about a month, so I was a bit off my game.

A fine foreword by Bill Loguidice kicks off the book and there’s a nice page on the “console wars” that’s a miniature crash course in some of the frenzy of the era with game companies going all out to try and outdo each other with varying results. An interesting piece on emulation closes the volume with writer Alex McCumbers making the case for it in a clear and concise manner. But you’re buying this because you want to check out some titles you never knew existed, knew about but never saw (Hagane WAS available at retail – I got my copy at an Electronics Boutique thanks to the kid holding onto it putting it back and getting a cheaper used game instead) or just want to check out the assorted impressions Weiss rolls out in his amiable style. Recommended.

 

-GW

Review: WALDEN, a game (PS4)

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No, it’s not some new-age hipster ready-made, silly. Here’s where you start off the game. Now, get to getting those walls up before dark, buddy.

Walden, a game PS4Wait, what? Yes, there’s actually a game based on Henry David Thoreau’s autobiographical slice of life book and it’s pretty neat as well as quite educational on a few fronts. Developed by Tracy Fullerton and the USC Game Innovation Lab over a 10-year period, Walden, a game ($18.99, also on PC) rolls out events from Thoreau’s time spent up at Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts in a tiny cabin he built and maintained. It’s an “open world” game with plenty to see and do, but it’s also an initially timed experience where you need to attempt to accomplish as much as possible during each day. That means you can choose to follow the flow of suggestions the letters Henry receives during the game or simply go off and explore at your leisure, discovering experiences as you go.

Actually, doing a combination of both is very highly recommended as this will maximize the overall experience while filling in chapters from the book as well as other events that affected Thoreau’s life.  While the game has a few performance quirks, if you’re a person who likes “walking simulators” (a term I dislike, mind you) or “survival” games (ditto on the dislike thing) without worrying about zombies or other creatures chomping at your heels, this is going to be right up your alley. Granted, I’m going to gather that market is slim among most of today’s gamers. Nevertheless, I’d still highly recommend this if you want something truly different and amusingly enough, something to show off to your kids (if you have them) as an honest to goodness learning experience. Yes, there’s also a great teaching aid for the game, as it’s meant to be used in schools as part of curriculum in tandem with the book.

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Your humble shopkeeper in the game. Basically, he’s Tom Nook with even more vintage stock. Or: you’ll pay through the nose for those much-needed goods.

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Review: Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: Slaps and Beans

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“Once upon a time in the west…” er, wrong movie, but you know what I mean…

Slaps & Beans - coverYep, it’s here and it’s great. As a fan of old-school arcade beat ’em ups, Trinity Team’s excellent Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: Slaps and Beans ($19.99) does exactly what its meant to do and does it with a ton of love (and many slaps and beans). I’ll give those of you scratching your heads a second to look up some of the duo’s films (here you go) and admit that for some of you, they may not be your to your taste (which means you need to watch a few and become a convert to their brand of international slapstick).

The game is an absurd amount of fun as a solo or co-op experience with a wacky story line, mini-games galore and some really great music that’s worth buying on a disc if you’re a fan of what’s here. While it’s not a terribly long game, it’s one where you’ll replay it either alone or with a buddy because it’s packed with laughs and challenge on the harder difficulties. Personally, I don’t grasp at all people who only play an otherwise solid game one or two times and shelve it away, but such is the current state of gaming where hours seem to mean more than overall quality to some “gamers” out there. It makes me wonder how the deal with heavier entertainment like non-fiction books or serious documentaries. But I digress – here’s some gameplay to ogle from yours truly:

 

(Thanks, Me!)

 

I heard you laughing all the way across the internet with me. This is good. Continue reading