Review: Nun Massacre (PS4/PS5)

As I pressed the Purchase button to get my copy of Nun Massacre ($5.99), I said aloud to no one in particular “I don’t know why I do this to myself”, something I tend to do whenever I buy a horror-themed game. Yes, games like this have me talking to myself frequently (and somewhat nervously). Indie developer Puppet Combo has been making short PS1-style horror games for PC gamers since 2013 and they’ve finally gotten two of them on home consoles (Murder House is the other one). Basically, this is a short, frequently scary and always tense blend of exploration, stealth and puzzle action where you’re trapped in a rundown school with a knife-wielding nun trying (and at many times, succeeding) to violently do you in. There’s a story here told through notes you’ll find all over the place. But you’ll probably be too freaked out to read through all of them, what with that nun popping up at the most inopportune moments. Just keep telling yourself “It’s only a game, It’s only a game…”

Or: Force of Habit, I suppose.

The game got a recent update a few days ago and is now a “definitive” version which adds some new game modes, rooms and new killers to avoid. But you’ll have to survive one play though to unlock some of those options, which will be a pretty harrowing experience. There are video settings to adjust (VCR, PSX, Black and White), the game has a “Nun Tracking” mode that adds VCR like tracking “noise” to the game when the Nun is in the area (a must on your first play) and the game even comically warns you to play only once a day and play as your life depends on it, which is worthy of a chuckle. I mean how scary can this game be, right?

RIGHT??

Next to Nun in the horror genre, ha-ha (STABBY, STAB, STAB!)

Yeah, WRONG. In other words, you’ll be inventing new swear words every few seconds as the tension steadily ratchets up. This is totally old school with NO mid-game or auto save system to fall back on and few choices except running and attempting to hide from that nun, which means if when you die you start over from the beginning each time. While intensely frustrating, you end up recalling where items are located and can survive a few minutes longer before your certain doom. The Nun’s location can indeed be randomized if you want to put yourself into cardiac arrest even faster, so try not to do that on the first run. Oh, there are deadly traps here as well, such as the razor wire you’ll blunder into at one point, which is straight out of Suspira and yes, that Nun pops up while you’re stuck and gets quite stabby.

Amusingly enough, there’s a way to play this as “None” Massacre (my title) where you can explore the game’s room without a nun attack. But I was so wound up by the main game that I didn’t trust this mode to not freak me out somehow, even with jump scares shut off. Turns out I was right (you’ll see). The overall length of this may turn off some players, at it’ll take maybe 30-45 minutes to get through one time, if you move quickly, don’t panic (too much) and use the items you find in the right spots. That said, the game is meant to scare the living hell out of you and I can see some players being turned off by this plus some of the intentional flaws here. By the way, that sound effect when you encounter the nun is like every scream in every horror flick ever made heard all at once, but played by a factory full of alarm clocks. Yikes and turn it down on the options screen before you fire this up or you’ll wake a few dogs in the neighborhood.

It took about two and a half hours to finish on my first time through, and that was with some dumb luck more than skill on my part. Yes, another few plays is required here to unlock more secrets, but not for a while in my case. I’m starting to see nuns when I sleep and they’re not waving around wooden rulers either. Highly recommended, but not at all for the faint of heart. I’m working up the nerve to play again, but I just may attempt to survive Murder House first (maybe).

-GW

Review: Cosmic Top Secret (PS4)

this one’s something else…

Indie publisher nakana io’s latest, Cosmic Top Secret ($9.99, multiplatform) just might be one of the best surprises of 2021.Part historical document, part adventure with a detour into a bit of mystery, the game tells the gripping tale of Trine Laier, or “T” as she goes by in the game as she tries to uncover just what her parents did during the Cold War. Fascinating and supremely surreal, the game is compelling from start to finish and would even make a pretty good true spy film, intentionally goggle-eyed protagonist and all. But don’t take my word for it- take a look at this gameplay:

There are puzzles to solve, loads of clues to gather and enough intrigue here to keep your brain and fingers busy. T navigates the environments by transforming into a paper ball and rolling about. You’ll also need to master a bit of jumping,. which comes in handy when you get stuck and later on you can transform into a plane, which has it’s own uses you’ll discover. The game also had you collect all sorts of specific secrets T needs to unlock other secrets, all while trying her best to get her dad to tell her about the past. Have another trailer, folks:

The visual style is both striking and genius, especially the more humorous aspects found in the work. Early on, you’re told how to skip text using a very lengthy explanation on the Cold War. The game helps out here by cutting off the lengthy text with something like a “Blah, blah, you can find this stuff on the internet” quote. Dossiers and a few machines are used to break codes but a few of the puzzles and some of the trickier movement areas may stump players temporarily. T can also toss grenades and later smoke bombs to find certain secrets, but that can be a bit imprecise until you nail that task perfectly. Also, that sequence with the angry buzzard in one level can be irksome if you roll off the path and fall a few times. Progress is auto-saved at certain points, but you’ll want to manually save from time to time (just in case…). Th game can be completed in around eight hours or so and it’s time well spent because you’ll come away quite impressed at what you learned. I know I certainly was.

Yes, indeed it is!

The really cool thing here is you don’t need a pricey console to play this on as the game is also available on Google Play and the App Store, so you can enjoy this on your even more overpriced phone or tablet, ha and ha. As a exercise in storytelling, the game excels on a few fronts and the overall experience is one that will stick with you for a while. Highly recommended, of course.

-GW

Review: Demon’s Tier (PS4/Vita)

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Instructions for real life, as well.

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Nostalgic is the good word here.

The latest pairing from COWCAT and Diabolical Mind, Demon’s Tier+ ($9.99, buy it!) is an excellent example of a really good game that got much better with a slew of quality of life improvements. While the game follows a clear Gauntlet meets Diablo style of play, a strict time limit and intense difficulty combined with randomly generated levels make for quite the thrilling, replayable ride.

This isn’t a simple “one and done” trophy hunt at all. Rather, the game is an equal to Diabolical Minds’ other retro-inspired pixel-packed releases, Riddled Corpses EX and Xenon Valkyrie+, two other solo or  two player co-op team-ups worth a look. It almost feels like the developer has captured a trio of long lost late 80’s arcade machines in these three titles, all of which demand practice and patience to master, just like the old days.

Story:

Thosgar, a hated king attracted by demonic rituals, turned into a dark and diabolical being… destroying almost all of humanity and flooding the world with monsters. This story became a legend and peace returned to the land.

A thousand years later, a mysterious pit appears in a village after a huge earthquake where an evil aura emanates from…

Will you be the hero to save this world?

Don’t you hate it when that happens? Well, good. Grab your PS4 controller or Vita, and let’s send those demons back to where they came from, pronto.

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Pathfinder: Kingmaker on Consoles – Everything and The Kitchen Sink, Plus

((Thanks, Deep Silver!)

If you’re a PS$ or Xbox owner into deep and somewhat complex role-playing games with a bit of town building on the side, but haven’t yet tried Owlcat’s Pathfinder: Kingmaker in its PC form yet, well you’re in luck. Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is coming from publisher Deep Silver on August 18, 2020. Packing in all six DLC and a new optional turn-based mode that makes the game feel more like the tabletop version, this looks like it’ll keep some of us indoors even longer (which might be a good thing). PC players on STEAM and GOG will be getting that turn-based update as well as a free download in case they want to give the game’s real-time pause-based play a rest for a spell.

A bit of brief official news below the jump. Read on.

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Review: SEGA AGES Thunder Force AC (Switch)

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Memories, Golden Space Roast Edition…

1990’s Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis game, Thunder Force III was such a great and very challenging entry in the series that it got an enhanced arcade version in Japan called Thunder Force AC, which has now come back as the latest SEGA AGES release on Nintendo Switch ($7.99). It’s a game I used to play along with a ton of other space shooters on the Genesis as well as developer M2’s second enhanced port of a Thunder Force title (Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar) that’s a must-buy.

You get a flawless version of the game with the new ability to play with three other ships from other titles in the series (you’ll need to play a bit to get to three of them), and the game is another example on a fine example of M2 making a good game even more stellar on Nintendo’s platform. At the time it was released, the game was quite the spectacle with its parallax scrolling, some fancy warping effects, plus a few other neat visual tricks. Oh, and the music was (and is) perfection and thankfully, you get a music player function in this version.

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Crumbling World: Well, There Goes The Fantasy Neighborhood

It’s been out for a few days now (wait, what day IS it?), but I’m backlogged and brain-soaked here, so the news is late. Dume Arts’ intriguing looking Crumbling World is on Steam and itch.io and it’s on the (very) long list of games I need to give a shot. Take a gander at the trailer and description below while go I put on a pot of half coffee half chicory, please (yeah, I overslept again):

Set in a sinister, slowly decomposing land where humanity has been driven to corruption, aligning with dark forces for survival, players must traverse gorgeous diorama-like levels in an attempt to bring back the age of light – before the world literally crumbles away entirely beneath their feet.

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Boreal Tales: Bargain Indie Scares Up The Past

Boreal Tales title

With a game developer name like Snot Bubbles Productions, one would imagine the Vancouver-based team to have a first game straight out of the gate that’s going to be pretty darn interesting.  Or kind of damp and sticky, ewww.

Welcome to Boreal Tales, folks.

The game is out now and it’s a paltry $3.00 or Steam or itch.io and that makes it for me, an automatic purchase even though I was offered a free code to review. Small developers with a great looking game such as this need a boost with any sales they can get and I really like these offbeat games, so it’s on my BUY IT! list as we speak. Anyway, “What’s the game about?” you may be asking right about now. Well, I’ll duck quickly into show and tell mode here (quack, quack!):

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Dungeon of the Endless: Living Up To Its Name, Now On PS4 & Switch

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Sony is late in posting the game on PSN, so it’s Nintendo to the rescue. No worries, as the game should look the same across all systems,

Way back in 2014, I played and really enjoyed Amplitude Studios’ brilliant Dungeon of the Endless on PC, scoring it an A (95%) and going through it a few times, as it was yes, literally endless. I recall asking a PR person repping the title if it was ever coming to consoles and recall hearing it was coming to Xbox One at some point, which made me a touch sad that many PS4 and Nintendo only owners would miss this wonderfully tough hybrid of randomly generated dungeons, resource management and strategy. It was a game that felt fresh and was very well written, with plot and brief, sometimes humorous dialog shared by a number of diverse characters. Six years later, guess what’s on PS4 and Switch today and guess who got their freshly washed hands on a review code?

(Thanks, Playdigious!)

Amplitude, Sega and Playdigious have teamed up to bring the game to PlayStation 4 and Switch owners, and if the release is the same overall as the PC version, many hours will be spent getting that motley crew of survivors from a crashed spaceship through those randomly-generated challenging maps. Let me go download this and get to reporting back. I see there’s extra content included in the game, which makes that $15.99 price point very attractive indeed.

There’s also this:

(Thanks again, Playdigious!)

As usual, the PlayStation Store is late on posting a game until they want to, but Nintendo has it up and available to buy as we speak. If I had to guess, I’d say Sony will have it on their store maybe by 1pm or so. Don’t hold me to that, but it will launch today at some point on the store.

-GW

 

BRIGANDINE: The Legend of Runersia Hands-On: Reign of Thrones

(Thanks. HappinetGameChannel!)

If the recent Switch demo of Matrix Software and publisher Happinet’s BRIGANDINE: The Legend of Runersia is any indication, this is going to a near-perfect entry in the genre for turn-based strategy fans who want a game with a ton of replay value. As noted in my previous look at the game, the developer really knows what they’re doing here. Everything here soars from gorgeous painterly art style, the optional step by step tutorial, the clear typeface and pretty solid English localization. Since many of us are still in stay at home zones, a game like this may make the month of June fly by because it’s got that “just one more mission” thing going for it.

Every element comes together in a game that’s clearly a labor of love for its developer and a return to the scene for a title that’s both accessible and daunting in its overall scope. While the demo had an introduction to a single character’s story and three “seasons” worth of play, the final game will contain six different characters all intent on gaining control of the land of Runersia for their own motives as the other five nations do their best to put an end to these efforts.

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Review: SEGA AGES: G-LOC Air Battle

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That cornfield chase in the North By Northwest remake gets a little too action heavy…

sega-ages-g-loc-air-battle-switch-description-charI remember walking into an arcade back around 1990 or 1991 and seeing a new machine added to the site’s already impressive selection. It was a large sit-down G-LOC Air Battle cabinet that had a line of about 10 or so people waiting to play. That machine looked like a super-deformed airplane and had speakers on the seat that faced forward, which helped mostly shut out sounds from the arcade save for music and sounds inside the cabinet.

Most impressive was the movement, as the machine would tilt forward, backward, left, and right based on what the player was doing with their plane. The game also featured a red button that shut the movement off if one was feeling the need for speed and all those motions were getting too much to handle. Think of a LOT less painful to ride mechanical bull with a kill switch and you sort of get the idea. Personally, I never saw anyone hit that button, but it did make for a great and safe addition if it was needed.

I didn’t find out about the even more impressively insane R-360 rotating cabinet version until a few years later when a friend played one while on vacation and showed me a few photos taken by his girlfriend where he was upside down or sideways in the machine’s cockpit. She later told me that was the one of the funniest things she ever saw and heard, as he was yelling and screaming a stream of expletives as soon as the machine went spinning, despite the seat belts and safety harness holding him tightly inside and the attendant nearby who helped him secure himself. He denied that screaming part for years, by the way.

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