Review: ECHO (PS4)

ECHO_Keyart_Cube_LogoSneaking onto PC last month and out now on PS4, ECHO is one of the smartest games I’ve played this year. Developer Ultra Ultra has created an intentionally initially slow-burning hard sci-fi game that relies heavily on its innovative gameplay that’s bound to keep you on your toes. It’s also got spectacular visuals, brilliant sound design and a pair of excellent voice actors (Rose Leslie and Nick Boulton) bringing their characters to life in what’s basically one character talking to an AI interface as she tries to survive a gilded palace filled with replicas of herself trying to kill her. While it’s got its share of (primarily technical) flaws, it’s a worthy experience that shouldn’t be missed if you like your games to shake you up a bit early and often.

After a century in space asleep, a woman named En is awakened by her computer, London and informed that their ship has reached its destination. The pair has traveled all the way to a strange planet because En wants to bring back to life a friend whose remains are inside a cube-shaped device she wears on her back. The opening is a deliberately paced buildup as En lands on the planet and makes her way into The Palace, an endless ornately designed structure that’s the size of the entire planet. There’s a great deal of exposition during the game with much of of it establishing a backstory for En’s long journey as she explores her initially unlit surroundings. When she locates a spot to place that cube, The Palace reacts by coming to life and over time, producing many copies of En that eventually end up coming after her with murderous intent.

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Less Is More Or Less Better For Overall Overkill

I’ve been pretty quiet on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for a good reason. I’m ignoring the off-balance people with zero (or less) sense of actual history (not to mention actual videogame history) hating on Machine Games and publisher Bethesda Softworks (it’s all white noise to me, pun mostly intended) while also not poking around the internet for every bit of information because I like my games relatively unspoiled. One of the problems with modern game “journalism” is the need (that’s not needed) to ruin a game too early because some can’t not reveal spoilers or keep an embargo correctly.

Me, I want to go in ice cold with the windows open (brrrrr!) and be thrilled and surprised at what’s been cooked up. Nope, I’m not going to tell you that you should go out and grab yourself a copy of the game and a console or high-end PC to play this on (although you probably should if you have that disposable income and want to support the developer and publisher in this crazy year of too many solid games and not enough time to play them all). As always, it’s your move, folks.

-GW

Etrian Odyssey V: The Big Blowout Strikes

How “funny” is this? Yesterday I get my Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond The Myth review code (Thanks, Atlus!) and I’m giddy about that because it’s been a really good year for games and EO has been consistently awesome (although it needs to be on a more powerful system, in my opinion). Having put some quality time into the recent eShop demo meant I’d start off with a party pretty prepared for the challenge ahead (whee!). So, I fire up the game and play for a few hours until I need to recharge my 2DS, whip out the AC adapter, plug it in and about a minute into recharging… the adapter ups and dies on me. One word sprung to mind and yes, I have the WORST luck with technology of anyone I know.

(Sings) I’m Mister Tech Miser, I’m Mister Dumb… (now I need to write the rest of this at some point, but with my luck, the I’ll cut myself and bleed on the keyboard, which will summon a demon I can’t control or something) – back in a bit. It’s a good thing I have a few other games to review on systems that still work while I wait for my replacement charger to show up.

-GW

Review: Detention (PS4)

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Detention BlockWhile thematically similar to The Coma: Recut from Devespresso Games, Red Candle Games‘ excellent Detention ($12.99 on PSN) manages to add a more psychological as well as historical tone to its scary elements. Set in a 1960’s era Taiwan during the horrfic period of martial law known as The White Terror, the game works extremely well as a short but solid game experience that gets as much mileage from its frightening imagery as it does with its somewhat timely political allegory

This isn’t a “survival horror” game in the zombie-packed Resident Evil vein and while it has a more similar vibe to the early, more thoughtful (but weirder) Silent Hill games, there are no weapons to wield here or a need to stock up on healing items for your trip through this virtual hell-space. This one’s a pure side-scrolling horror adventure game where you’ll need to avoid or appease the freakish ghosts you’ll encounter as you try and escape from the nightmare that Greenwood High has become.

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Review: Raiden V: Director’s Cut (PS4)

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How great is UFO Interactive’s Raiden V: Director’s Cut? So great that I went and grabbed the previous installment on the PS3 (which just so happened to be part of this past weekend’s PSN Flash Sale and was $2.99 very well spent), slightly kicking myself (ow!) for missing it a few years back. I’d been cutting back on arcade shooters for a while, but something about this well-aged series has always drawn me to it. It’s probably because it brings back certain good memories, but it also helps that it’s been a consistently entertaining set of games despite some lesser console versions not being as fun.

This newest installment is more polished visually and aurally and thanks to its busy color palette and tons of explosions, it really looks and feels a hell of a lot busier to the eyes and reflexes. There’s so much going on that I found myself laughing out loud (to no one in particular, as usual). Skilled developer MOSS has reworked the traditional vertical arcade game screen so it’s packed with information to the point of distraction should your eyes float to the left or right of where the real action is. But you won’t let that happen, right?

Hey, the future of the planet is at stake, pal – eyes on the prize and all that.

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Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online – Time Eater For The Always Hungry

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I’m a bit behind in my Neptunia backlog, but I really do enjoy the games when I find time to play them. There’s a certain earnest goofiness to them that’s consistent and cute looks aside, there’s often a bit of profound wisdom mixed with the offbeat humor that sneaks into the writing and English localization that can be surprisingly refreshing for a JRPG. Anyway, here we go again, but with a few twists to the formula in Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (which is out NOW for PS4 and coming soon to PC).

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There’s a ton of stuff to cover in a game this big, but let’s just send you all right on over to the handy Newcomer’s Guide so you can see what you’re up against. Me, I’m just a busy bee here to post a gallery you get to peruse and maybe pick up the game at your earliest convenience. Also as usual, Idea Factory and Compile Heart are on the case and ever-busy developer Tamsoft is doing some of its best work on the visuals as you can see here and below the jump.

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The New Mutants Trailer: Freaks & Geeks, The Remix

As I’m ancient enough have been around during the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz run on The New Mutants (issues 18-31, 35-38), the upcoming film having a horror vibe (well, as seen in this trailer and you know how trailers are [if you know what’s good for you]) doesn’t surprise me at all. Bill’s groundbreaking artwork was at its best when things got seriously twisty and psychological and I do recall there was a definite like/hate thing going on among some comics fans of the period who wanted a more traditional art style. Me, I was all in from the first collaboration and stayed until a few issues after he left just to wrap up a few story points.

As usual, no big fat over-speculation here about the trailer other than to say (despite the rubbery membrane wall effect) it’s eye-catching (ow!) and has me intrigued enough to run it and yes, the casting looks quite like the characters I recall from way back when. Also as usual, the wait begins to see if the actual film is actually decent enough to drop ticket money on when it’s finally released or snapping up the inevitable Blu-Ray when that drops a few months later. We shall see, but signs are somewhat hopeful I’d say.

-GW

The Evil Within 2: Perfect For Your Fright-day the 13th

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Confession time, again: other than dabbling with a friend’s copy for about 20 minutes or so back when it was launched, I didn’t play the original The Evil Within. Between my ridiculous backlog and other busyness, I never got around to getting to that game and its assorted freakish frights. Well, here we are some time later and guess what? The Evil Within 2 didn’t wait for me to even think about playing the first game before it popped up to say “Hi!” and it looks as if I might need grab this at some point or it’ll come to get me. Help!

Of course, if I don’t get the game, no one will notice, right (he said, looking around and then checking all the closets and under furniture for something that might come get him at some point)?. And here I was, saving up my pennies for Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (which has “Timeliest Game of the Year!” flashing over it in bright neon lights for some reason). Oh, Bethesda, you keep it up with this stuff and I’ll need to start carving holes in my schedule like a pumpkin. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way (and neither should you).

-GW

8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One): The Throwback With Bounce Ability

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Adventure game fans of old will really appreciate this one, a triple threat of classics set to be re-released by Absolution Games in the form of 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One), coming October 31 to Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. No fancy updated visuals here (other than what looks like sharper cover art) for the three titles included.

So, what’s in that set, you’re asking? Well, let’s WALK up to the DOOR and take a PEEK inside:

The 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One) includes these classic games:

Shadowgate™: The wind whistles through the silent halls as you step through the stone threshold. You’ve just entered Shadowgate, a once shining castle, now an evil, dark moldering ruin. Swallow your fear and take up your torch. You are the ‘Seed of Prophecy’ and in your hands lies the fate of the world itself.

The Uninvited™: The last thing you remember was a figure appearing in the middle of the road and the sound of your sister’s screams over the screeching tires. When you come to, you discover two horrifying things: your sister is missing and the mansion that now looms before you seems to be calling your name…

Déjà Vu™: It’s 1942 and you wake up in a seedy bathroom with no idea how you got here or, for that matter, who you are. You grab a .38 hanging on the door, stumble up the stairs and find some stiff slumped over a desk with three bullet holes in him. You check your gun. Three bullets are missing. This is gonna be a bad day.

Yep, I can hear your brains all clicking into place now (well, those of you who recall playing these on PC or the NES back in the day). How about some screenshots to get you grinning? Okay, LOOK:

Pricing hasn’t been set yet, but I’m betting a few of you will be ignoring those Trick or Treaters just so you can camp out at home with the lights down low as you click away at solving and surviving the mysteries and assorted deathtraps that await. Well, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. While it won’t be a HIT with the kids ringing my doorbell, I’ll feel better knowing I’m not responsible for any cavities in the not to distant future.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: Children of the Corn

COTC_AV106Back in 1984, I didn’t see Children of the Corn because if I’m not mistaken, I believe I was “Stephen Kinged Out” by so many adaptations of his work popping up in theaters and not being all they could be. Amusingly enough, when this screener of the nicely restored 2K version popped up from Arrow Video in my mailbox, I’d actually been thinking about films made from King’s novels and short stories thanks to the recent arrival of IT into theaters.

I’d read a long time back that King wasn’t too fond of director Fritz Kiersch’s film partially thanks to the rewritten script by George Goldsmith altering and adding elements to King’s original short story. Let’s just say that the end result is a mixture of good intentions and lousy cost-cutting and leave it at that. Well, okay – that would mean this review would end at that last sentence, so I’ll elaborate if you care to read any further.

The best things about the film are the principal actors giving it their all, a few very effective shots and a nice reliance on “less is more” when it comes to onscreen violence. The worst things are some truly crummy visual effects that weren’t good back in 1984 (and really stink now), the abrupt ending that feels as if was added in post-production and the addition of two annoying kid characters (and a voice over narration) that give the film a sappy gloss that lessens the horror factor geometrically.

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