Delays of Games: No Penalty, Just Breathing Room

Yes, it happens to the best of them, folks. While disappointing, game delays aren’t the end of the world other than setting one’s expectations for playing what one wants to back a bit. In almost every case, it’s a case where developers want more time to tighten things up and apply a final (well, pre-patch) coat of polish to products so they’re even better when they finally make it to market. This isn’t only a AAA thing, as you’ll see from these three examples.

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Red Dead Redemption II has slipped into October (10/26/2018), but I’m not at all concerned because it’s Rockstar Games we’re talking about here and they’ve very rarely steered gamers wrong when a product slides past an initial launch date (or second or third, for that matter!). Hell, if anything, the new date will keep a lot of people safe at home on Halloween and quire possibly all the way through the holiday season. I’m only half joking, by the way. I know I’ll be camped out in front of my TV until actual tumbleweeds roll past my bleary eyes.

 

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Blu-Ray Review: Scalpel

Scalpel BRJohn Grissmer’s 1977 film Scalpel is a pretty neat psychological thriller that also works as an entry level ‘light’ horror flick for those skittish types not quite ready for gore galore, but who won’t mind a tiny bit of depravity in the plot.  Arrow Video has not only put out a stellar restoration, they also got respected cinematographer Edward Lachman to supervise am equally gorgeous second transfer that’s been color corrected back to his original theatrical version.

While there are some flaws in the storytelling, it’s a solid enough film to recommend thanks to the no-nonsense performances and relatively brief 95-minute running time.  Having the choice to see both versions on a single disc along with some very nice bonus features makes this yet another Arrow you’ll want to add to your quiver.

When plastic surgeon Dr. Phillip Reynolds (Richard Lansing) encounters a badly beaten stripper with a completely ruined face, he comes up with a plan to reconstruct her to look exactly like his missing daughter (Judith Chapman) in order to claim the $5,000,000 inheritance denied him, but given to her by her grandfather.  He’s also got more disgusting designs on his mind, but you’ll have to see how that plays out.  After the young woman is out of surgery and healing up, Reynolds takes her out of the hospital and to his home, eventually telling her his plan and offering to split half the money with her.  After some weeks of coaching, the girl is ready for her close up with Reynolds’ extended family.  While their ploy succeeds to some extent, things get a wee bit complicated when Reynolds real daughter (also played by Chapman) shows up shortly thereafter. Oops, and yep, the plot thickens.

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The Thin Silence: Aware Adventuring PC Bound Soon


(courtesy Nkidu Games)

More proof games can do more than poke at one’s adrenaline deposits like a blind bear slapping at a hornet’s nest. Go put this on your STEAM watch/want lists after you peruse the press release below the jump. And yes, there are twitter pages for the game, developer, TwoPM and publisher Nkidu if you want to follow the game a bit more socially.

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Review: Where Are My Friends? (PS4)

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WAMF_PS4Don’t let the childlike look of its hand-drawn visuals fool you one bit. Where Are My Friends?  ($5.99) is going to absolutely break those gamers out there who take it for a spin expecting an easy Trophy hunt. Between the wordless storytelling that requires paying full attention when exploring the game’s point/click adventure segments, to some insane platforming sections, this one’s a hardcore challenge well disguised as a more light, family friendly affair. Actually, it may take an entire family to complete some of the fiercely tough sequences here, so get everyone together and maybe even the family pet can even give this a shot after everyone else fails.

My own reflexes aren’t as sharp these days, so at one point after discovering the somewhat challenging (okay, brutal) platforming sections, I actually made a phone call, packed up my PS4 and hoofed it over to a friend’s place so his 11-year old kid could do what I couldn’t. Let’s just say that kid earned his free pizza after that, but he also wanted me to note (and I quote): “This is one of the most crazy games I’ve ever played in my life, and I’m only 11!  You should pay me more next time!”  Hey, kid? There won’t be a next time (until the next time I get a game like this), and you didn’t get paid, per se (don’t child labor laws prevent that sort of thing?) . You’re a ringer, pal – you’re supposed to do your thing, do it well and zip it. Well, I didn’t say that, but I’m thinking he’s now thinking he’s getting pressed into service whenever I need some game-related help.

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Figment – Music to the Ears (and Eyes) Headed to Switch

Figment Switch

With all that’s going on these days, stressful times call for less stressful entertainment and thankfully, we have games such as Bedtime Digital Games’ multiple award-winning indie musical adventure Figment to help lighten the daily load somewhat significantly. The formerly PC/Mac/Linus-only game is headed to Nintendo Switch on May 31, 2018 with PS4 and Xbox one versions to follow. Check out that trailer below, won’t you?

 

 

Charming, right? For some reason, the art style reminds my well-aged brain of George Herriman‘s wildly imaginative Krazy Kat, so this one is going to get looked at with a smile if the gameplay is appropriately invigorating. Keep an eye peeled for this one on the eShop and later, PSN and Xbox Live. Or hey, if you have a PC or Mac that can run it, gog.com or Steam are whispering to you as we speak. Hmmm. I’d close this post with a “‘pleasant dreams”, but it’s 11:15am and I think it’s a wee bit too early for a nap.

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-GW

Review: Reverie (PS Vita)

 

With Reverie, New Zealand-based developer Rainbrite has cooked up a fantastic, fun and must-buy game for the supposedly ‘dead’ (but still defiantly breathing) PlayStation Vita. Everything here clicks from the Earthbound-inspired visuals to the gameplay that references The Legend of Zelda‘s puzzle, enemy and trapped-filled dungeons and overworld map. Adding to the perfection, you get an interesting take on the Māori myth Māui and the Giant Fish woven throughout the game that makes the adventure all the more interesting.

Sure, the main character is just a nondescript kid named Tai who just so happens to end up spending his summer vacation saving the tiny island he’s on visiting his grandparents from all sorts of evil during his stay. But Rainbrite has wisely made the kid quite the young man of action on his trip to this new Adventure Island. You’ll get a cricket bat, yo-yo, a sort of Nerf gun and other goodies as you take on the game’s six nicely-sized dungeons and a somewhat dangerous overworld packed with local wildlife out to gnaw or peck you to death. Spot-on controls help out here, but you’ll need to be constantly on your toes because some enemies (such as angry hopping statues) won’t react until you’re in whispering distance.

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Review: Tiny Metal (PS4)

 

Console owning fans of turn-based strategy games, specifically the late, lamented Advance Wars and similar military themed titles set in fictional scenarios really haven’t had too much to cheer about (well, other than still having the ability to go back and replay those older games whenever they like). PlayStation-only owners have a handful of games like this, but Area35’s very solid Tiny Metal ($24.99) is the coolest and closest thing to Intelligent Systems’ games you can get on the PS4. It takes inspiration from Nintendo’s series (which needs a new version one of these days) and adds a few nice gameplay twists to the formula that keep the battles past the early tutorial maps pretty engaging overall.

There’s a story here that basically pits an initially small force of troops and hired mercenaries against a powerful nation’s military after their president’s plane is shot down over enemy territory and the mission is to find out if he, along with a great military hero traveling with him are still alive. The game is set up so you’re going to get lengthy static manga cut scenes pre- and post-mission with the occasional mid-mission break when the story wants to nudge in some more dialog. There’s a lot of back and forth communicating here and everyone is suitably wrought to overwrought as they sell their lines in pretty melodramatic fashion. Interestingly enough, You can only select English for in-battle squad commentary – the cut scenes are all subtitled. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you (especially if you like your games in their native language as much as possible and don’t mind subtitles).

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Review: The Alliance Alive (Nintendo 3DS)

 

There’s something warm and familiar about Cattle Call’s new RPG, The Alliance Alive that really pulled me in from the beginning. While not flawless, the game has the look and feel of one of those multi-disc original PlayStation JRPGs and while not quite an “epic” experience, it’s solid enough and certainly packs in enough characters in its massive maps while hitting pretty much all the bullet points it needs to that make it an overall decently nostalgic 3DS game. I’m a big fan of much of Cattle Call’s work since the quirky PS2 sleeper Tsugunai: Atonement, so seeing the familiar color palette and simple but intriguing battle system also had me smiling throughout.

Still, it’s also a case where you sort of wish the game was on a system that was a bit to a good deal more powerful. It’s not at all hard to imagine the developer making a Switch (or heck, PS4 or even a Vita) game with higher resolution art and even more detailed characters and environments. On the 2DS or 3DS, the game’s animations and numerous cut scenes are excellently handled. However, the large overworld maps tend to be a bit bland, there’s a bit of background pop-in and if you have a poor sense of direction, it’s a bit too easy to get lost unless you choose the option to be guided to and from certain story-related areas.

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Review: Metropolis: Lux Obscura (PS4/Vita)

 

Hooooooo boy. If a mature game that successfully mashes up Sin City and Puzzle Quest seems as if it’ll be right up your dark, rainy alley, have I got something for you, pal. Sometimes You has ported Ktulhu Solutions’ previously PC-only (and very NSFW) game Metropolis: Lux Obscura over to consoles (it’s coming April 4) and if you’re in the mood for a totally lewd and somewhat amusing in terms of its wall to wall profanity game experience, go whip out that wallet and pony up that dough. Leave the kids out of this one, please, as it’s absolutely not for them. Unless, of course you want them quoting the racier lines from this at family gatherings or in places where someone might keel over in a dead faint from the ear-searing dialog.

While it’s a bit on the short side, you get four endings and the game excels at paying somewhat intentionally cheesy homage to Frank Miller’s graphic novels (although the art here is a lot less impressive) with that reliance on shock value profanity and a few topless and/or scantily clad females as well as some more salacious content that may make your eyes pop a few times before all is said and done. Amusingly enough, as raw as this game is, PC version owners can get a patch that turns that version into a er, how shall I put it… “somewhat Stormier” experience. And nope, you won’t see that patch coming at all to the PS4 or Vita (or Nintendo Switch, for that matter).

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Ni No Kuni II Demands Your Desire

 

Even with the up, down and sideways health issues happening, I’m still intent on diving into a bunch of games this spring. Right at the top of things to get to is Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, out NOW on the PS4 and PC. As a fan of developer Level-5’s games since the two Dark Cloud games, it’s been fantastic to see each new experience grow more and more polished. As you can see here and below, this game is absolutely packed with things to do including all-new kingdom building and RTS elements that seem very much like whole games in themselves.

While Studio Ghibli wasn’t part of the sequel, on board are former Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose and music composer Joe Hisaishi, both returning from the wonderful first game. Keeping that unique anime look and lovely sound is key to the experience and yep, this game nails it perfectly. In any event, get it digitally or get it physically (a walk to the game store counts as EXERCISE, folks!) – just get it and prepare to spend way too much time thinking about it when you’re not playing (well, that’s what I fully expect to happen to me given my past experience with Level-5’s other great RPGs).

-GW