Review: Outward (PS4)

outward PS4 bxFor the record, I wanted to dislike Outward ($39.99) less than 15 minutes in after nearly dying during the tutorial thanks to an near-invincible enemy guard whose health never seemed to drop past a certain point and kept regenerating far too quickly to be reasonable. During my digital near-death experience, I ran away to recover, only to return and find he’d just *poof!* simply disappeared from the spot where he and the other guard I’d dispatched were placed. I recall my eyebrow arching up and letting out a “Great.” before resuming play with the hope things would go more upward before I got too far outward. Fortunately, they did (well, for the most part).

There were a few other issues with the game, such as items randomly vanishing from the bag I was carrying, my character or an enemy getting stuck in certain parts of the map when doing certain actions, and a few textures that could have used a bit more polish, among other things. I decided after a random death that had me unable to locate my bag when I resumed, to stop playing for a bit and move onto a few other games while I held out for a patches to correct these issues. That waiting turned out to be a good thing. Over the last few updates the game became much better and is now a solid recommend for those who want something fresh and furiously challenging. There are still a few pesky bits, but I’ll get to those later.

That said, prepare for a completely punishing game experience that combines fantasy RPG, survival game and simulation elements with a very welcome two player split screen mode and the option to play online with a friend or total stranger. In fact, preparation for every obstacle the game will throw your way is a huge part of surviving, to the point where you’ll be playing this with a keener eye to (at least) staying alive for as long as possible. Once you’re out in the open world of Aurai, your brain needs to go into invisible mommy mode before you get busy with that questing, so get ready to take *everything* under consideration. Do you have your traps prepared? Got enough clean water? What are you wearing for the weather? Did you pack your lunch? Clearly, this isn’t a game for those who don’t like to be reminded that rote carelessness other RPGs let you get away with won’t be rewarded by anything but an easier demise in this game.

Still, even after you get used to the preparation aspects, expect death to come calling regularly like early morning doorbell-ringing proselytizers cheerily chatting on about the end of the world the moment you poke your head outside. Oh wait – hold on a sec… someone’s at the door… What, so early in the day for this? Gyaaaaah.

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Warhammer Chaosbane Hands-On: Eko’s of the Past Bode Well for the Future

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I’d hate to be that guy who has to clean those stained glass windows every other day…

WC_cover PS4Way back in 2013, I recall going to a 505 Games press event to play Eko Software’s impressive How to Survive and noting to a PR rep that the developer needed to make an isometric RPG at some point because that game had all the makings of an instant classic despite the overdone zombie theme and copious survival elements. Two years and a new 505 press event later, I’m playing How to Survive 2 and noting to another rep that Eko really, really needed to do an iso RPG just to get it out of their system and how I’d love to see them do something original or even revive a more fantasy-themed game like a Champions of Norrath or some other similarly beefy (and long forgotten) IP.

Four years later and I’m playing through the closed beta version of Warhammer Chaosbane on my PS4 with a huge grin plastered on my face. Although it’s a beta, it’s a mighty fine one full of promise once the dev team adds and tweaks some elements.

In its current state, it’s certainly got some excellent visuals, gameplay that’s immediately fun and what’s looking to be a fairly lengthy campaign just based on looking at the overworld map in the second of two playable chapters. But a bit more polish in a few areas will help put this game into that rarefied air a certain few other isometric games are floating around in. One great thing about the beta is Eko’s willingness to take into account every bit of reasonable feedback from those who’ve pre-ordered the game and have sunk some time into the builds they’ve made available.

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Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain – 13 Days ‘Til The Worldwide Airdrop

This latest trailer for EDFIR is pretty goofball stuff, but definitely enjoy it for what it is. Of course, you can check out a more “serious” trailer and a nice set of screenshots on the PlayStation Store page (and pre-order the Standard or Ultimate digital edition of game if you like). Everything is shaping up to be the most epic entry in the long-running series to date and yes, that worldwide release insures EDF fans everywhere can play together or alone and not feel left out of the action.

Oh, for the record, I’m finally finishing up my Earth Defense Force 5 review (yeah, it took a while thanks to the ridiculous amount of content in the game, but that’s show biz, folks!) and should have it up over the weekend. Pop back in and see if it’s a total blast of a game more folks need to jump on (spoiler: it most certainly is).

-GW

Review: Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics (Nintendo Switch)

Cthulhu SwitchYeah, there’s a review hidden in here somewhere, but first, a lengthy foreword of sorts before the main event. I blame American International Pictures for my unapologetic appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, but I’ll also blame a particular English class teacher way back in my high school days who assigned the class to write a book report on anything they’d recently read and liked, no matter the medium.

We had to each bring our book of choice in so he could approve it and (eek) everyone had to go up to the front of the class and explain why we chose that particular read, which was mind you, quite a challenge for some of the more socially awkward students (*cough*, ahem!). Of course, one smart-ass decided to be funny and bring in Clifford, the Big Red Dog as his choice and was surprised as hell when his choice was approved… with the caveat that it had to be twice the length of the 500 words the other students were assigned as well as “the BEST damn book report on Clifford, ever!” (eek). So much for that dude trying to get off easy, right?

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Not quite what one thinks of when “Eldritch” is the subject, but it kind of works.

Me? I ended up picking Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space” from a collection of his works thanks to seeing the so-so 1965 film “Die, Monster, Die!” on TV a few times and later finding out via either Famous Monsters of Filmland , The Monster Times, or some other sci-fi/horror flick-related magazine that the film’s story was very loosely based on that well-aged 1927 short story.  I distinctly recall after struggling through my intro speech in front of the class, I ended up getting a note to see the teacher after class (Yipes!). But all he did was complement me on my “mature” selection and note that I’d maybe find out later in life that ol’ H.P. was a tad controversial for a few reasons I didn’t know at the time. Personally, I didn’t care because I wanted to explore the story in question more than I wanted to stumble over info later that would maybe make me not like what I’d read way back when I was in those formative years.

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Outward: Out Now, Expect Toughness Ahead

Outward boxIf you think most modern RPG are either too easy or rely too much on guiding the player almost nearly everywhere, developer Nine Dots Studio and publisher Deep Silver have a game that will be right up your alley. OUTWARD places you in the shoes of a normal adventure-bound type who’s out to pay off a debt in a dangerous land where you’ll need to be wholly prepared for every single encounter.

This mixture of survival game, action RPG and adventure seems to be geared for co-op play either offline or with a friend online, but stubborn ol’ me will have at it solo at least until I locate a reliable friend who also has a copy of this so we can hop in and play together. I’m expecting the experience will make for a fun and hard as hell trip into the brave new world of Aurai (which looks quite lovely rendered in Unity), and if the trailer below is any indication, I also think the game will gather a pretty loyal fan base as word of mouth spreads.

We’re going to get in some play time with this one soon and report back a few impressions. When it comes to combat and general gameplay, I tend to be overly cautious when I play a new RPG as playing every one the same way tends to not work out at all. So I’ll try hard to not die (too much) as I learn the ropes. Back in bit with some wordier words on what’s looking like a completely challenging game.

-GW

 

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Pre-Order Trailer Flips the Right Switch

switch-package-usAs noted previously, I’ve played Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on every platform save Xbox One and can’t wait to see how it translates to the Switch next month. If the frame rate is smooth and performance is solid in either docked or handheld modes, I can see this game becoming even more of a go-to action/RPG than even Capcom is anticipating.

That $29.99 price point is also definitely going to be a huge key to the game’s success, as you’re not only getting the original game’s content, but that lengthy and supremely challenging Dark Arisen expansion that features the deadly as hell Bitterblack Island that will haunt you with its incredible level of challenge (as in don’t make it your first stop once the game proper begins… or else.

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Better hope that spell gets cast before that Cyclops starts swingin’ that club, pal…

The hardest part for a DDDA veteran like me will be finding the time to play this one. I know I’ll go the Mystik Archer route for the first play because its way too much fun to send a volley of homing shots down a twisty corridor and hear the sounds of monsters expiring before they’re seen, but I may totally flip a coin and choose a different class, as all are fun to play and rewarding when all is said and done. I guess it’s time to get in some sort of shape so I can log a ton more hours across the lovely but oh-so deadly island of Gransys and those intricately detailed dungeons packed to the gills with assorted dangers. If you’ve got a Switch, go put this one on your wish list, I say.

-GW

Hell to Pay 1: Warhammer: Chaosbane Update

It’s Beta time for those of you who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane on PC and console, so those of you who’ve plunked down that deposit can dive right into the thick of things and let all hell break loose. That beta time only lasts until the 13th of March. so get busy betting busy on that, folks.

Set for launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 4th, 2019 for the Standard Edition and on May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions, the game looks to fuse Diablo-like action/RPG with the classic Warhammer setting and if that trailer is any indication, Bigben and developer EKO wll have a huge hit on their hands. It’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the still mighty Diablo III on consoles, but it’s safe to say that genre fans will be well served if all the pieces fall into place.

-GW

Review: Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds (Nintendo Switch)

spintires switchAs with the PC and other console versions, Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds ($39.99) on the Switch is a pretty outstanding technical achievement, although this latest version isn’t without a few caveats. Packing in all the original game’s content along with the American Wilds expansion, it’s pretty amazing to see this simulation arrive on Nintendo’s hybrid looking and playing so well. Granted, it’s running at half the frame rate of the PC version and you’ll likely enjoy docked mode more than handheld mode if you’re a total visual purist. But it’s still amazing to see the Switch pumping out everything the more powerful consoles can with mostly relative ease.

If you’re new to the game, expect a hefty challenge the simple and quick tutorial deftly dances around because the game is meant to hook you in and have you figure out what you can do at your own pace.  This isn’t some fast-paced arcade monster truck fest with power-ups or turbo boosts galore. Nope, it’s a methodically paced simulation that demands practice and patience galore, but despite the learning curve manages to be incredibly fun and rewarding when all is said and done.

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“Keep on truckin’, baby…. you got to keep on… truckin…”

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Gallery

Now, this looks pretty entertaining and yes, it’s really good to see this legendary series tip its weathered cap to the speedier gameplay found in the Diablo series. Don’t get me wrong, though. I so love the tactical approach to both the Warhammer board games and PC/console games as well as most of the pure action games that have popped up in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Warhammer: Chaosbane feeds that need for my isometric games loving side and if the gameplay videos are any indication, it’ll also be a game that spends some quality time in my play list and perhaps even rise to the top if all it promises works as planned.

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My brain says “SOLD!”, so this one’s added to the bucket list. Thank you, brain. Also, thank you EKO Studios and Bigben for making this a reality as the first ARPG in the franchise.

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Beamdog and Skybound To Bring D&D Classics to Consoles This Year

This somewhat astounding news popped up a few days back, but I’ve been a bit busy and just got around to picking my jaw up from the floor after it bounced under the bed. I really need to vacuum more under there, yuck. Say, did you know that Baldur’s Gate was in the works for the original PlayStation? Well, go peek at this for proof and get ready for a nicer thrill coming your way soon.

A little press release action is below the jump, but here’s a peek at the PC version trailer to one of those upcoming D&D classics for your perusal:

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