Review: Narcos: Rise of the Cartels (PS4)

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As long as the enemy doesn’t look up to read that word, he’ll be fine…

NARCOSIf you told me a game about a violent but long deceased Colombian drug lord could be a pretty well done turn-based strategy game in 2019, I’d have said that you were on something. I’m sure the late drug lord (in his previously bullet-free state) would also be smirking as well before setting you up for a nice tire necklace fitting for suggesting such a thing. Then again, publicity being what it is these days, he might be even crowdfunding his own game like this if he were still alive, now that I think about it. “¿Qué? Estás loco … pero eso me gusta.” or something like that (but with a lot more colorful and a lot less rusty use of the language).

So, here we have Narcos: Rise of the Cartels ($29.99), from Kuju Games and publisher Curve Digital, a game I knew I’d like as soon as I realized it was a much more polished version of the now forgotten Falling Skies: The Game, which itself borrows its best parts from the XCOM reboot from a few years ago. While it has that entry level thing going for it, the game checks a few boxes on its way to being a solid buy if you like the genre. The more gritty trash-filled and alien free realistically rendered maps help a lot here in delivering the goods, and while turn-based, the combat can often be tense, especially when surprise enemies appear and you’re outflanked.

Yes, the AI is sometimes careless, at least in that it has foes that may put themselves in harm’s way (I consider those cases where a you’d see a real life reckless thug [or reckless DEA agent on the flip side] let out a yell and bum rushes someone), but the game is quite addictive once you get the combat and tactical stuff down. For those who wanted a boring GTA clone, the game might be surprising to play with its M-rated language, blood. permadeath, and high body count, but it’s hard to guess other than to suggest those folks give this a try and see what happens.

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Review: A Knight’s Quest (PS4)

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“I’m a little Rusty at this!”

AKQ_PS4While it treads familiar ground, it does so with enough winking and nodding to classic action platform and open world games to be quite smile-worthy. Developer Sky9 and Curve Digital present A Knight’s Quest ($24.99) a fun and mostly very pretty looking homage to some greats, Fun as it is, it could use a patch to fix a few issues. That said, it’s quite exciting to see a game reach for the stars like this, but it’s also painful to see a few stumbles that keep it from 100% potential greatness. As noted above, a few fixes will make it the stellar experience it needs to be. Still, Curve Digital has a little sleeper on its hands that old-school platformer fans will find a lot to love.

As Rusty, a hero who’s a bit on the clumsy side, you start out the game finding a wooden sword and shield in a cave you’re exploring before all hell breaks loose a few minutes into things. This sequence shows off some thrilling platforming and a bit of combat as the cave is escaped, and high marks here for a nifty start to things. Plot-wise, it’s a “find the legendary heroes, gain elemental magic from each one than will help you in each area” thing you’d expect, but with a dose of lighthearted humor and Rusty riffing on what he can. The weird mix of styles to the game world (which mixes a sort of medieval fantasy setting with stuff like radios and chain link fences in areas that can’t be accessed right away) seems a bit odd, but it’s worth saying it works after seen enough times while exploring.

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Fire good! Uh, stop, drop, and roll dude.

Additionally, if you like collecting stuff, the game goes out of it’s way to get you to search for secrets in hidden places or heck, almost anywhere you happen to be. From hidden treasure caches to singing slugs to breakables of a few types, it offers quite a few secrets to discover. It all feels like a throwback to another time or a game that means to keep you as busy as possible for as long as you’re playing. An amusing thing here is the game references Sky9’s Flash adventure/RPG from a while back, so some jokes will go right over a few heads unless that game was played. I didn’t see a hidden version of that game here, but I wasn’t looking everywhere thanks to blazing through some later maps to get this post up. It’s too bad Sony considers the Vita a lost cause, as the game looks like it would be a fine diversion on the portable or even better, a bonus for console owners.

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A Knight’s Quest Trailer: This Looks Like Fun Stuff, Indeed

From Canadian developer Sky9 Games and publisher Curve Digital comes A Knight’s Quest which definitely wears its 1990’s platform/RPG influences somewhat proudly on its sleeves for all to see.  It’s coming soon to Epic Games store, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and has already arrived for Xbox One. Fun fact: the game seems derived and definitely different from the quest-filled 2D adventure game by the developer from a few years back.

Check out the PS4 trailer below and get set for its October 10th release on the platforms that don’t yet have it:

I just got a PS4 review code yesterday and an pretty pleased to report that so far, it’s quite good stuff. Familiar intentionally to some classics you may recall, but absolutely very fun stuff, indeed. You’ll have to wait a touch for the full review, but I’m really having a blast with this one. Who’d have thought a clumsy main character would be so fun to play as?

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-GW

NARCOS: Rise of The Cartels Trailers Have You Choosing Sides

I’m grinning a little too much because NARCOS: Rise of The Cartels isn’t the Grand Theft Auto V clone some expected from Curve Digital and developer Kuju Games. Nope, this one’s going the turn-based strategy route much like the XCOM series or the underappreciated Falling Skies: The Game from 2014. This is a good thing for me because I prefer to slow things down a tad these days and stuff that’s turn-based fits right up the alley here. Sure, it’s not the visual feast some expect, but this means it’ll be a perfect fit on consoles as well as PC. I’ll certainly be playing it to enjoy its merits and will have few issues unless the AI isn’t up to snuff.

Fans of this sort of game should keep an eye peeled, I say (or some drug lord will peel one for you, ow).

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-GW

Review: Beholder: Complete Edition (PS4)

Beholder_CE_PS4I’m not much of a good and nosy neighbor in real life, but in the past I’ve been the subject of scrutiny a few times by some pokey-snouted folks when I’ve either moved to or visited spots where they exist. A game like Beholder: Complete Edition normally wouldn’t even pop up on my to play radar, but here I sit typing out this review of a fairly solid yet depressing yet game experience. A mix of simulation, time management with a gloomy vibe straight out of Orwell’s 1984, the game may leave you with a jittery sense of unease because there seems to be no such thing here as a truly satisfying sense of closure.

Then again, when you’re forced by the state to spy on, harass and in some cases, have a tenant in the building you’re running bumped off, you kind of know you’re in for a weird time.

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