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

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

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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer – Rey of Hope? Maybe Nope?

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Yep, as Yoda would say, pretty good, it looks… but I won’t do any big speculation at all on this nifty trailer because it’s useless (at least as far as I see it). Trailers are made to missile guide viewers into overthinking stuff and too many fall into that trap and end up theorizing themselves into corners up until a movie lands in theaters. PROTIP: for a big, honkin’ tent pole film such as this, the less you flop around on the floor like Shemp about stuff you see (that very likely won’t be in the same order in the final cut or hell, not in the film at all) the more you’ll actually enjoy it.

Well, that’s MY personal train of thought about these trailers and it’s yet to fail me.

I guess I’ll confess (once again) that I’m not a “superfan” to the point that I’ll gargle out copious pages of notes based upon watching every second of a trailer every day for a week and end up being disappointed that my 1600 theories have all been proven wrong. On the other hand, I’m a “superfan” who wants to go in totally cold and get my fill based on NOT knowing or wanting to know any more than what I was teased with in that possibly not quite all true trailer. That poster is nice as well, but it’s kind of hard to mess up a Star Wars poster (much).

-GW

ECHO on PS4: To Die For (Over and Over Again)

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Well, any previous thoughts I had about the PS4 version of ECHO being “lesser” in visual quality from the PC version got a nice kick in the head with those lovely screenshots below arriving in my inbox. The console version drops on October 11 for a very reasonable $24.99 via PSN, but I’m betting collectors out there would snap this up as a limited edition physical version. Eh, we’ll see how this does, but friends I know who bought the PC version seem really pleased with their purchase.

“So, what’s the game about?” you ask? Well, I’ll let talented indie developer Ultra Ultra’s Game Director Martin Emborg tell you himself here.  Me, I’ve got bigger fish to poach. No, seriously – I’m poaching fish for dinner tonight and I just stopped to post this before I got to my cooking. Back in a bit.

-GW

Red Dead Redemption II Trailer II: Old West’s Newest Best Bet Yet

 

Ooh, look what I found! I’ll just leave this here:

 

RDRII_ps4There’s not too much to say other than Rockstar Games has got it all covered, no worries. I get a big hearty chuckle out of those sites that over-analyze every second of these reveals when all you really need to know is the all excuses you’ll be using to get off work so you can spend a week or more playing through as much of Red Dead Redemption II as humanly possible.

If you’re in school and begging for this as a gift, suck it up, kids – your pops will see this in the store and want it all for himself, so expect your system to be “temporarily confiscated” so you can “concentrate on your schoolwork” which really means Daddy-O will be playing cowboy on his own TV when he should be at work. Yee-haw!

That’s pretty much all I have to say, as a mere minute and twenty eight seconds is very hard to judge a game trailer by. Well, other than how fantastic it looks running on the PS4 hardware. Anyway, as I said earlier, Rockstar has got this. I’m not worried in the slightest. Nope, not at all.

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Spring 2018, huh? Well, I’ll just need to clear out a whole month or two of backlogged games in anticipation, then.

 

Liquid Sky: Vinegar Syndrome’s Big Blu Surprise

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Yes (and it’s about time). Throw out those blurry DVD and VHS rips, people. It’s high time for an upgrade after all these years as cult classic Liquid Sky is finally coming to Blu-Ray in remastered form. All you need to know is straight from the press release Vinegar Syndrome sent my way:

The flash preorder is scheduled for THIS THURSDAY September 28th at VinegarSyndrome.com. It will run for 24 hours, starting at 12:00 AM EST ’till 11:59 PM EST. There will be three different purchase options:
• LIQUID SKY
• LIQUID SKY + (2) Secret Black Friday Blu-rays
• Just the (2) Secret Blu-rays

We can’t reveal what the secret Blus are, but we can say that both are highly-requested direct-to-video horror films that were shot and finished on film and have never been available in film sourced editions. One is making its DVD and Blu debut and the other is making its Blu-ray debut, but no past editions of either have been film sourced.

LIQUID SKY comes to Blu-ray in a special limited edition package this Black Friday at VinegarSyndrome.com!

Slava Tsukerman’s new wave, sci-fi masterpiece, LIQUID SKY will be making its worldwide Blu-ray debut during our Black Friday sale (November 24th-27th), EXCLUSIVELY on VinegarSyndrome.com in a special limited edition package!

The release will feature an all new, director and cinematographer approved, 4k restoration from the original camera negative, along side loads of extra features, among them interviews with director Tsukerman, star Anne Carlisle, cinematographer Yuri Neyman, production designer Marina Levikova, among others. Plus never before seen outtakes and production stills, and more!

Womderful. I fully expect this to sell out and fast and I’m betting Vinegar Syndrome does as well. We shall see, of course.

-GW

ECHO: Death Becomes Her (Multiple Times)

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While ECHO is out now on PC, I’m really more interested in developer Ultra Ultra‘s upcoming PlayStation 4 version set to be released in October. Partially because I hate the constant upgrading of PC hardware and mostly because I’m really curious to see how the Unreal 4-powered game looks on Sony’s hardware.

Granted, looks aren’t everything in my book. Great gameplay is always going to be far more important than pretty visuals at the end of the day. But it seems the dev team here is striving for both and if that trailers above and screenshot gallery below are any indication, succeeding in their mission.

The game’s story also makes me want to dive in feet first, so I’m avoiding reading anything else about the game until I get to take it for a spin myself. That said, if everything falls into place with this one, En’s big, deadly adventure could be one of the better original IP this year

-GW

 

 

Arrow Video October Releases: A Yay For These Boos

My big-ass backlog has kept me from updating these Arrow release lists, but the next few months of Blu-Ray/DVD’s coming are looking really phenomenal. A few reviews of the October lineup are incoming here, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out what’s coming soon to empty out your wallet:

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Children Of The Corn (Blu-Ray, 9/26/2017):

From the mind of celebrated horror author Stephen King, the man behind such classic terror tales as The Shining, Carrie and It, comes one of his most chilling offerings yet – Children of the Corn.

A young couple on a road trip find themselves lost in the back roads of rural Nebraska, eventually winding up in the seemingly abandoned town of Gatlin. But the town is far from empty – as the pair soon discover, it’s inhabited by a twisted cult of murderous children thirsty for another blood sacrifice…

Adapted from King’s eponymous short story first published in 1977 and starring Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), Children of the Corn has gone on to spawn one of the most enduring horror franchises of all time.

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Features
– Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary with horror journalist Justin Beahm and Children of the Corn historian John Sullivan
– Audio commentary with director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains
– Harvesting Horror – retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Fritz Kiersch, John Franklin and Courtney Gains
– It Was the Eighties! – an interview with actress Linda Hamilton
– …And a Child Shall Lead Them – a brand new interview with actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin
– Field of Nightmares – a brand new interview with writer George Goldsmith
– Stephen King on a Shoestring – an interview with producer Donald P. Borchers
– Welcome to Gatlin: The Sights & Sounds of Children of the Corn – interviews with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias
– Return to Gatlin – a look back at the iconic filming locations in Iowa with host John Sullivan
– Cut From the Cornfield – an interview with actor Rich Kleinberg on the infamous “lost” Blue Man Scene
– Disciples Of the Crow – 1983 short film adaptation of Stephen King’s story
– Storyboard gallery
– Original theatrical trailer
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Sullivan and Lee Gambin

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