Raiders of the Broken Planet Beta Hands-On

season1_big-2I’ll admit straight off that I’ve been a big geek for MercurySteam‘s games ever since I got a review copy of American McGee Presents: Scrapland way back in 2005. Their attention for detail grabbed my eye and I’ve followed each game they’re released always looking forwards to what the team can cook up. Currently, they’ve two big games out or on the way, Metroid: Samus Returns (Nintendo 3DS) and Raiders of the Broken Planet, currently in beta on PC, PS4 and Xbox One with a release date set for its first of  four campaigns September 22.

As I’d been slowly killing off my MMO/online gaming phase (not enough time, too many me-too game, no way to enjoy them offline), I initially planned to ignore this one until I found out it had a solo campaign mode as well as a unique “4 vs 1 counter-operative campaign” that lets you play both sides of the conflict if you so choose or team up with friends to tackle some challenging missions against really pesky AI opponents. While the beta had a few matchmaking issues online (hey, it happens!), the gameplay is quite fun and very challenging in terms of solo play.

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Monster Hunter Stories Hands-On: Sweet Spot Central

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MHS_3DSWell, Monster Hunter Stories will very likely be a big ol’ very well deserved smash hit for Nintendo, Capcom and developer Marvelous! when it lands at retail and on the eShop September 8, but it really needs to be on a more powerful system that would allow it to be even better visually.

Yeah, I said it – the well-aged 3DS hardware just can’t handle all the game wants to show off and that’s too bad in this day and age.  So you get NPC’s popping in, occasional frame rate drops, some nice-looking (but would be nicer looking on an HD system or handheld) cinemas and a few other issues. That said, the game is fun as heck and absolutely the most accessible Monster Hunter game to date.
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Granted, I’m someone who has a huge love/hate thing going with this franchise for over a decade. The character and enemy designs are great, but up until this turn-based installment, the combat has always been what left me annoyed. The funny thing is, MHS grabbing at the brass ring cash cow Pokemon has been for decades makes for a game that’s hard to dislike unless you’re not a fan at all of “Gotta catch ’em all!” styled play.

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Bevontule Update: Going Greenlight (With Some Help From You)

So, yep. Bevontule is still going strong as a work in progress and as you can see above, looking even better than before. Thanks to feedback on the multiple demo builds they’ve posted for about a year as well as a wealth of general improvements made over time, Multithreaded Games LLC (or the dynamic duo of Derek Bradley and Andy Fenton) is on target to make quite a memorable first game certain to garner a loyal fan base. Nitpick time! If you want to get really picky, calling it a “JRPG” is a *tiny* bit misleading. Both Derek and Andy hail from Portsmouth, Ohio here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Still, as the game does take some of its inspiration from a few classic turn-based strategy JRPGs, I’ll gracefully let them slide on that. The new typeface, even more polished visuals and what’s so far tighter gameplay makes this one a game to keep an eye on and hope it gets enough attention to get ported to consoles at some point.

(Cue Derek and Andy screaming in unison and calling up a local hit man to get me for wishing port work on them before the PC version of game is actually completed… Heh, sorry, guys!)

What’s clear about the outstanding visuals (that draw distance is amazing, isn’t it?) is the boys know how to make the Unity engine sing. Of course, the usual “Unity sucks!” naysayers will never be convinced, but I think Multithreaded isn’t listening to those know-littles (none of whom knows how to make a game, I’d wager). One of the more amusing things about the game going Greenlight is the comments section on the Greenlight page.  It would seem (in proper internet commentary fashion) that SOME so-called gamers don’t even know the game has not one, not two, not three, not four… but FIVE different demo builds to try out, all from different periods in development and all worth a play. You’d think someone would go as far as to post those links in something like a blog post so people can take the older builds for a spin, but noooooo… (heh).

Oh, that video above is me sneaking up on some hapless cranky Steam user on the way home to NOT play a game, but negatively comment on games they’ll never play because they’d rather be THAT guy stinking up an otherwise decent community with stinky s#!tposting galore. What happens next? Well… you’ve got those links above, correct? Go find out, you (all those builds are FREE, by the way!). Bevontule isn’t due until sometime in 2018, so you have PLENTY of time to see what’s what. That said, go vote it up on Greenlight while you’re waiting, please.

 

-GW

Switch-ing: With Reservations (And Some Ironing), Yes.

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Not surprisingly, actually getting out and about to lay eyes on and try out something for oneself is a hell of a lot better than sitting on one’s rump in front of a computing device babbling nonsense about what one thinks they know about something they haven’t touched yet. Be it food, books, movies, or in this case, Nintendo’s upcoming Switch game system, you really aren’t doing anything other than heavy guessing and heavier petting of your own negativity until you try the darn thing out.

Spending about three hours with the system and way too many games for one event revealed at its recent NYC showcase reveals it’s a solid bit of kit with a few big to little issues around things like software/peripheral pricing and a to be announced (imperfect) online service that sounds as if will need some major tweaking if it’s going to compete with the (less imperfect) services Sony and Microsoft offer for their game hardware.

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Let’s get the first point out of the way: that live press conference from Japan was somewhat awful if judged by western perspectives. The droning English narration, the greatness of Goichi Suda trying to work the room off-script and failing spectacularly as he revealed work not yet started on the return of Travis Touchdown, the too-sedate responses to every announcement – none of these made for good optics.

Couple that with too many YouTubers and a few games journalists putting out quickie bash pieces so quickly that by the time a bunch of post-conference trailers that weren’t shown dropped online, many complaints about the small software lineup were rendered invalid and worse, the short attention span theater antics didn’t take into consideration that early announcements change into more concrete plans that make better sense as launch windows open.

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But let’s talk games from this point onward until I get to the problem stuff I see that needs ironing out. Continue reading

Oh, Deer! In the Headlights, Sideways, Somewhat Allegorically

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Oh, Deer! is apt enough and more than fast enough for these testy times that I can recommend it even though I’ve yet to actually play it. Scoreless swerving past or through lines of poor digital deer is an odd metaphor for the daily careening many of us do while glued to a news source, real or “alternative facts” based, eyes wider than usual. While this may not seem all that deep, developer Necrosoft Games is proudly stating this is indeed a beta that will end up as a more fully polished product. Initially released as a 49-cent PlayStation Mobile game (I missed it on the Vita? Noooooo!), it got bumped up to subscription-only freebie beta build for Humble Monthly subscribers where it caught fire and careened into a game a lot of folks want to see get completed.

So, yeah. Get this if you’re cracking up or something. Amusingly priced at an apocalyptic $6.66, that entry fee also gets you whatever ends up being the final version of the game whenever the fine folks at Necrosoft get to completing it. Hey, the world may end before that happens or it may not. No matter what, you’ll be able to swerve past or slam sideways into all the deer you choose without guilt or incurring and insurance fee increases.

-GW

Gravity Cat: A Royal Wedding of Tech As Advertisment


 

Yep. Japan still has the coolest game promos. This one’s for Gravity Daze 2, aka Gravity Rush 2 here in the US, which is set to land on the PS4 on January 20. You don’t see TV ads this lengthy for games in North America at all outside of trade shows and media events. But I’d take a few of these fun promo clips any day over another garbage infomercial or medicine ad selling snake oil with deadly side effects followed by a legal ad asking if you’ve taken one of those drugs and suffered from side effects, ugh.

Anyway, the recent demo was great overall – check out my somewhat rushed play through below:


 

-GW

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Site Is A Breath of Fresh Air Today

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Yep. While the disappointment of the release slipping possibly into next summer is a bit annoying, the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild now has an official site chock full of too much info is a really good thing. Go poke around, please. Especially if you’re a big, cranky skeptic who didn’t get the chance to play the demo this past June and think an open world Zelda is somehow a bad idea despite the series being chock full of open world goodness from the very first entry.

-GW

Home Sweet Home Will Scare The Leftover Turkey Right Out of You

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Eeek. I made it about ten minutes into the demo for Thailand-based developer YGGGAME’s upcoming horror game Home Sweet Home before tapping out for the first time, too scared out of my skull to move another inch. Of course, I wisely (or not so wisely) went back and restarted, determined to push on through my nearly squeezing my poor mouse to death. Let’s just say you’re all very fortunate I’m not some YouTube streamer with a loyal or any following, as the assorted sounds I was making were often creepier than the demo, which is absolutely nightmarish and so far, very well done.

I’ll let the official site’s version of the story lull you into its spell here:

Tim’s life has drastically changed since his wife disappeared mysteriously. One night, after suffering from sorrow for a long time, he woke up in an unknown place instead of his house. While trying to escape from this place, he was hunted by a rancorous female spirit. Can he survive? Is this place actually his house? Does it relate to the disappearance of his wife? Some dark sinister secret is hidden inside this house, and it won’t be a place of happiness as it used to be any longer.

What actually happens in the demo is you wake up with a hangover in a messy, unfamiliar bedroom you don’t recall (was that your wife’s voice telling you to get up?) and when you open the door, the stack of furniture in front of it is the first fright because it’s unexpected and wait? Was someone trying to keep you IN that room? Fortunately, there’s a flashlight under the table you’re crawling under that comes in very handy. A walk through a few filthy hallways and rooms leads to a simple puzzle where you need to find a key to get out of a suddenly locked room… but after that, it’s a descent into almost peeing yourself.

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BEVONTULE Hands-On: Liminal Effort = Maximum Results

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So, what’s a BEVONTULE, you ask? Well, first of all… you’ve very likely pronounced it wrong, so let’s go get that sorted. It’s Bay-von-chu-lay, and you quick thinking speed reading link clickers already know it’s an in-progress Unity 3D engine tactical RPG by a very dedicated team of two Portsmouth, OH natives, Derek Bradley and Andy Fenton. The Unity-powered game has been in development for a while and the recent demo kept me quite busy for a few hours. “Wait, a few HOURS?” you ask? Yep. As no save system was implemented and the gameplay was pretty solid, I kept at it and kept my laptop humming away for about four hours or so.

Granted, the demo can be completed in less time if you’re good at leveling up properly and can survive a pretty nasty boss battle. But my play style leaned heavily on hoofing it all the way back to a village you might not discover when playing the demo unless you turn around and make a beeline for it before you venture too far into danger. The spot has a few shops, an inn to heal up at and some nice treasures to find that help the cross-map journey considerably. You’ll also be able to pick up and turn in a few item fetch quests that make hoofing it back to worthwhile. Finally, heading to town resets the enemies outside, which means you can choose to fight or flee from them.

Yep, more often then not I chose to fight. Hey, a guy’s gotta level up, right?

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Busload of Horror: Or, Way Too Many Scary Games This Month, Part 1

detention-6Ha. You should see my inbox and backlog. You’d scream. A lot. Especially at all the scary games that try to elbow each other in the eyeballs for attention. Some of these end up beign great, some not so great, a few even end up like broken dolls you want to keep because they have promise but need to be taken to the toymaker and fixed up a bit. Anyway, here are (well, three at a time in this series) some quick looks at a bunch of games I liked that you may want to try… if you’re brave enough.

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arb_mainA Room Beyond: Currently up to its second of five chapters (the first one is free), René Bühling‘s excellent, distinctly smart psychological horror game does its frights up right, using a superb, intentionally crude yet perfect and gorgeous “2.5D” pixelated visual style that actually amps up the chill factor considerably. The experience is pure classic adventure/exploration game with a Lovecraftian vibe creeping throughout its narrative, but combat against creatures is a necessary and well-implemented evil in the second chapter.

From the opening moments when your character wakes up trapped in a cave and makes his way down that winding hill to a foggy village with some very strange residents, there’s a sense of uneasy dread that something terrible not only will happen, but has happened. Your character is tied into all this somehow, of course. But despite his hardiness and good intentions to help out while trying to solve his own mystery, in a way he seems not quite prepared for what’s coming. In other words, I’m hooked in for the long haul.

The official site notes A Room Beyond is “A novel story of crime, mystery and life-philosophy is told in five episodes which finally reveal into a complete story line,” which sold me right away. You can try out the FREE demo on Steam (highly recommended), but if you’re already a big horror game fan, I say just pay the $6.99 for the current build and play this at night with the lights out and a pair of headphones on for best results.

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