Review: Dark Nights With Poe and Munroe (PS4)

They’re baaaaack. Full motion games developer D’avekki Studios has made the big leap to self-publishing with the digital release of Dark Nights With Poe and Munroe,($12.99) which is now available on the PS4, Xbox and soon, Switch. The game comprised of six episodic tales of a somewhat supernatural nature, with ghosts, a werewolf, a hungry painting demon, a bizarre love triangle and more. Although the game features a few toe-dips into light horror, it’s more of a creepy dark comedy where a bit of previous homework with Davekki’s earlier titles goes a long way in explaining some of the quirkier aspects found here.

Poe (Klemings Koehring) and Munro (Leah Cunard) first appeared in 2018’s great little gem The Shapeshifting Detective and they return in this standalone set where we get to know their characters a bit more, but yes, there’s even more mystery going on in the small village of August, which seems to be a magnet for offbeat supernatural occurrences. In “Frankie” the pair need to deal with a persistent stalker with surprising results. Let’s just say Poe has a way with a knife but we haven’t heard the last of Frankie in this game.

“In Bed with Poe and Monroe” is next, and it’s about a 24-hour radiothon where the two characters need to raise funds to keep the station afloat by staying in bed together (not THAT together) while broadcasting live. Well, it’s about so much more, as a sleepy Munro discovers a few times. Poe also makes a few discoveries that are equally revealing as a jealous ghost (Ayvianna Snow) appears to make his love life even more complicated. This episode has a few scenes like the first where shocks drop in and affect the outcomes of paths to wonderfully different results. More of this strangeness will come.

In Episode Three, “Green With Envy”, the pair are racing against time to find a kidnapped and drugged student (Warrick Simon) before his time runs out. Time is of the essence as the duo’s decisions in this chapter affect the ending and all depends on how you choose to investigate the case. There’s a pair of laugh out loud innuendo bits here when Munro visits guest house owner Violet (Aislinn De’Ath) and a little De’ath goes a long way when Munro misinterprets some simple queries before asking her own. Poe gets his way (sort of) with a pretty teacher (Ashleigh Cole) who may be a suspect, but who’s the mysterious Yvette who calls into the show to say she’s the kidnapper?

Episode Four, “Everybody Changes” brings a hypnotist into the studio, Madame Baratsky (Lara Lemon), who puts Munro into a trance where she relives a past life and tells a disturbing tale of murder. As mentioned above, playing that chapter made me go see the Doctor up close and personal (I bought the game last year on the PS4), an experience I highly recommend. In any event, this episode made me want some sort of Doctor Dekker followup, or at least the desire to replay that game again a few more times.

In Episode Five, “Many Happy Returns”, it’s the day before Munro’s birthday, there’s a full moon and a caller rings in to note he may have almost run over a werewolf. Guess where out two intrepid adventurers are headed? If you guessed “Why, to find out if that’s true, but not before a possible time traveler named Kaspar (Vincent Gould) calls, then shows up to the studio!” Well, you need to be in your own game, as you’re psychic. Like all the episodes, there’s a set-up of events and situations here that definitely hints at more. This give players a hint that the sleepy town of August is quite the nexus for bizarre happenings (like the sudden rock, paper, scissors game in this chapter).

Finally, Episode Six gets truly freaky with “It Started with a Wish” where we get a soul-eating canvas demon named Rose (Rachel Cowles) who lives inside a painting. She grants Poe a wish, which he has to pay for by having Munro hide nine capsules as prizes for ‘lucky’ listeners to find. Those capsules are supposed to have museum tickets inside, but (surprise!), they have a less pleasant gift awaiting. You’ll see. Poe’s wish has very huge consequences both he and Munro have to deal with and there’s a sort of David Lynch meets Night Gallery thing here when the characters have to deal with the results.

As noted, the game teases very much that there are many more August takes to be told, and I like that Poe and Munro’s relationship goes where it does in different ways depending on your choices. In terms of production, this one’s pretty solid. Without fancy effects makeup or gore, the game still conveys an eerie, scary vibe when it needs to, But it’s also funny, sexy and mature where it matters. Some may feel the vignette nature of the episodes might be better served as a single story arc. But I found that a game where time travel seems a quiet reality, dryads may actually exist and so many possible outcomes from charming to deadly are at one’s fingers that I’m all aboard for more. Recommended.

-GW

Review: SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 (Switch)

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Oh, sure, it looks super-cute… but this game is a MONSTER.

Switch_PuyoPuyo2_desc_char“Did you get the game yet? She asked. I told her yes, I’d gotten it. “Oh, good! This one you can play better!” the voice on the other end of the phone cheerily said, then let out an evil-sounding cackle. My eyes rolled in my skull like marbles on a freshly waxed floor and I laughed. Well, my dear friend was right to some extent, as I got further faster in SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 ($7.99) that I did in the first game thanks to a new ‘offset rule’ that makes for  slightly less stressful play, ‘Garbage Puyo’ drops be damned. The game also tosses in a few other new rules as well as a very handy and new rewind feature, and overall, feels more fun than the original.

A voice in the background on the other end warned “She just wants to play against you online and win!” and yes, I knew that as soon as I saw their phone number pop up on my home line. Man, if that husband of hers just learned to play and lose gracefully, I’d at least be able to not have to take these awful beatings every so often.

Er, I think that came out wrong, but let’s move on.

The last time we played a Puyo Puyo game, it was in person, she was sick (some allergies acting up) and still beat me like a rug (yes, people used to beat rugs and still do). This time out, now she was tanned, rested and ready and yours truly had no chance against Mrs. Skills Deluxe. Yes, I was beaten like a barrel of pickles, if one beat a barrel of pickles for some reason instead of shooting fish in a barrel (which has always been a bad idea as you’d get fishy water and/or pickle brine on your good shoes).  Oh well, but I’m still pretty good at Bejeweled 3, so I take solace in that. Continue reading

Back In The Chain, Gang

Thanks, Sestren NK!)

Well, I got sick for a bit last week and a few days, but it wasn’t the beer named illness and no, I drank no bleach as a response, as that’s pretty stupid and I’d be a dead person with a blog to still write for. It seemed to be an adjustment to some medication I’d been taking plus a touch of the return of some massive headaches (probably a side effect from the meds)I hadn’t had in years that laid me up. I think I made it outside once when a grocery store nearby opened to pick up some food to cook for myself, but otherwise, I’ve been holed up at the home office in recovery mode. Personally, I think everyone who can needs to know how to cook, as among other things, it’s a big money saver and hey, if all the delivery people end up working too many hours they may fall ill themselves and nope, you don’t want to have any of that special soup.

(Thanks, obviouslyFAKE2!)

Anyway, my inbox is SWAMPED. I have a bit of catching up to do with a bunch of games and films I’d either been playing or watching in bits when I can so this week will see a few posts on recent stuff and maybe some older content I’d been meaning to post, but getting better was my focus. Anyway, a few folks bought some games from the collection last week, so those will go out first (I have to brave a trip to the post office, as my printer died last night, so this will be an adventure IF the place is busy). Uh, wish me luck? I did make the choice to pick out some theme music for the trip there and back, though.

Well, let me get going. I did oversleep, so at least I’m well rested (ha-ha).

-GW

Weird Tales (and It’s All True)

Thanks, OOdie Smith!)

 

Amusingly enough, my last post seemed to cause some voodoo spirits* or whatever to affect my posting through Firefox, as I’m now writing this on Google Chrome after installing it because I can’t post or respond to posts using Firefox now. Weird, as it’s been an issue since last night when I was trying to post two reviews and respond to a few comments and I couldn’t. It was late and I was tired, so I did the usual human thing of going to bed without resolving the problem.

Of course, this didn’t work at all as a proper solution when I went to check early this morning to see what was up.

VOODOOOOOO!!**

I think I turned into Sir Ben Kingsley as Don Logan in Sexy Beast at this point, or I got up and had a cup of strong coffee, or both. But like a politician, I choose not to remember certain things as a matter of convenience. Oh, that video you clicked on was very NSFW (no, not in a sexy manner), but I may also have been (ALLEGEDLY), and Sir Ben is better at emoting, so there. Nyah.

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Review: Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (PC)

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“Adventure… the new fragrance by Cloven Hind…”

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Prepare to get schooled skulled if you’re not ready.

For a while, from the 1980’s into the 1990’s, it seemed that the original Wizardry series was destined to last forever. But by 2001 that wasn’t the case as developer of what would be the final game in the series, Sir-Tech Canada went down for the count after the mostly excellent but flawed foray into the fully polygon arena with Wizardry 8. The company still supported the game until they finally vanished in 2003, and was never able to do a proper followup before they left the scene. There have been quite a large amount of games since then that have taken many elements the series pioneered, polished up the visuals and are basically Wizardry games with different titles as the end of the day.

Other titles in the series had danced on the edge with polygonal environments but 8’s was the first with both characters and maps presented this way. In the US, the series was slowly being forgotten despite some excellent ports to the Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles, but in Japan, the series flourished on PC and consoles as a number of different developers tried their hands at making dozens of Wizardry games from console ports and original games to mobile and online-only titles with mostly good results. Which brings us to the game in question, which is quite good especially if you’re a fan of the classics. It’s got a few issues the keep it squarely in the past, but we’ll get to them below.

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Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Makes My Day (Or is it Months?)

wizardry PC

So, a Steam review code arrived about 20 or so minutes ago and I’m dying to play it, but I need to post a few articles before I get to the game as I won’t get to posting if I start playing first. Yes, even though I went through this one on the PS3, I’m more than happy to fire it up again after a few years away because it’s like the security blanket of games for me and I want to see if I can get through it with no walkthroughs in sight. Granted, the turn-based nature of the game means I don’t need to worry about failing because I’m old and slow these days, and I recall a lot of the floors here by heart.

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The traps, however? Hmmm… not so much, although the rather random nature of the encounters will make the game a perfect storm if I get overwhelmed. It feels good to revisit this again, so come back around for impressions at some point.

-GW

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls PC Is Right Around The Corner

Wizardry PC

Yes, I’m thrilled even though I played this on the PS3. Here’s the trailer (and yes. this will be played again on PC):

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is coming to Windows PC on January 15, 2020 via Steam and the Humble Store by Humble Bundle for $14.99, €14.99, and £12.99 with a 10% launch week discount! Go get it, I say.
-GW

Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Switch)

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You better have those banana grabbing skills down, folks.

SMB_SwitchSega, on a roll (Part I): Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD ($39.99) is a pretty fun time on the Switch, but you better have steady hands and steadier nerves if you want any chance of completing this game. Yes, the multiplayer is a ton of crazy fun here (that could have used a few more games) and that’s a reason some will jump all over this with a few friends. But this is a game where the solo play can be as hair-raising as it gets because it’s too easy to fail (and multiple times at that) some courses if you’re susceptible to anything from an itchy body part or any sort of issues with your controller.

If you’re new to this, it’s a game that will have you cracking up and pulling out hairs in equal measures. There’s a goofy plot here, but all you need to know is you’re a monkey in a big plastic ball and you need to roll, jump and quickly grab bananas as a clock is ticking down, fighting bosses a few times along the way.  You probably won’t be good at this initially, but practice makes perfect, as they say. Paradoxically, both Zen-like calm and lightning reflexes are absolutely necessary in this game where courses are tightly timed, bosses require super-quick pattern recognition and you need to play and replay stages to nab those bananas without falling off some deviously designed courses.

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“This is bananas, and bananas is good!”

Well, you do have to fall off some courses, but onto a lower part of a level, or to shave seconds off a course time, missing a few bunches of bananas in the process (until you figure out how to get them later in a different run). Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (yes, the folks behind the excellent Yakuza games as well as a few others) took the 2006 Wii-only game and have tweaked it into a multi-console game that’s quite good and yes, maddening when it needs to be. In addition to reworking the interface and adding online functionality, 40 of the Wii-specific mini-games are gone (well, 50 was overkill way back then and the Wii remote was a pain to use for some of them), cut down to a mere 10 that keep multiplayer games a faster-paced chunk of mayhem for up to four players.

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Review: The Tiny Bang Story (Switch)

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“Ma’am, could you tell me where you keep the puzzle pieces, please?”

Tiny BangWant a teased brain and some very pleasant and relaxing tunes to chill out to? Do you like puzzles and hidden object games? Well, here’s a game for you, then. Colibri Games’ The Tiny Bang Story ($9.99) finally comes to Switch and while it’s quite lovely to look at, some older gamers  (raises hand) might want to play it docked thanks to some very intricately detailed environments that make playing in portable mode a little tricky.

That’s not to say it’s unplayable undocked, mind you. This is a game where a larger TV screen not only shows off the great art to its fullest, some of the tiny details are harder to spot if you can’t see them (and there are a lot of tiny details here). I did make it through a hour or so through in portable mode before going docked and not looking back, but your own mileage may vary.

That and the onscreen pointer is super small, which helps seeing things, but also hinders things a bit because it’s so minuscule and you need to do a bit of hunting and pecking here. This is really the only “bad” thing about the game. Some of the search bits are yes, a lot of trial and error searching or tapping, but that’s par for the course in this sort of game. The puzzle portions are set up and balanced overall between those that make you think and a few where you might pull a few hairs figuring them out, but that’s also part of the deal you get with these games.

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Review: Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered (Switch)

Switch_RedFaction_boxIf you’re a Nintendo-only fan who missed out on Red Faction Guerilla in one of its previous competing console or PC incarnations, it’s finally arrived on the Switch in pretty solid form as Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered ($29.99)  If you’re also a huge fan of open world games packed with plenty of content and a ridiculous amount of destruction, you’ll be very pleased with this one despite a few technical hiccups.

Developer KAIKO has ported original developer Volition’s 2009 classic to Nintendo’s hybrid system with all the DLC and game modes intact and while things can get a wee bit iffy when the frame rate gets bumpy in the busiest moments, it’s an amazing port for what’s working perfectly right out of the gate. For starters, the game looks great despite the seemingly limited color palette. Characters are smoothly animated, there are some great visual flourishes and hell, even the rolling skies will make you stop and stare once in a while (well, provided you’re in a safe zone).  Hopping into your vehicle of choice or hoofing it to a destination whereupon you unleash all sorts of ordinance as you attempt to survive whatever the EDF troops throw back is just pure fun on a stick with the results being lots of leveled structures and a bunch less pesky pissed-off troops to deal with. The AI certainly puts up a decent fight, calling in support that can and will escalate things in a tearing hurry.

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“Damn, those alien bastards destroyed my ride!” Oops, wrong game.

The destruction, thanks to the Geo-Mod 2.0 engine, looks and feels darn near perfect as those assorted enemy bases and other structures crumble and tumble with a particular sense of weight that can be hazardous to your character’s health if he or she is too close to something exploding or collapsing. While both the Campaign and DLC content have stories to follow, you’re pretty much going to be rolling out with intent on doing as much damage to enemies and enemy buildings as you can while trying not to get space-dusted yourself. Even on the easiest difficulty it’s all too common here to barely survive some of the tougher missions. But persistence and perhaps a better loadout pay off big. As you get better at fending off the enemies, when you do buy the space farm, it’s likely going to be from going in too hot and not being prepared for EDF retaliation. Or: you may want to have an escape route planned or at least enough explosives to blast your way out of trouble when necessary.

(Thanks, EurogamerGermany!)

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