Review: Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets (Switch)

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Yeah, and here’s Rule #1: NEVER take a job as an intern for a scientist collecting cute and deadly as hell animals to sell to the highest bidder.

lupo switchBefore you fire up BeautiFun’s challenging and amusingly droll puzzle/adventure Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets ($14.99), do yourself a big favor and let the game run a few minutes on the title screen without touching any buttons. Why? Well, you’ll get a really cool bit of fun narrative text that adds to the game’s plot, a really nice touch you’ll miss out on if you just start the game when prompted.That text actually changes when you go to continue a game, so make sure to see those bits as well when you pop back in after quitting for the day. This is the sort of thing I really like where you see that little bit of extra care that goes into some games which makes them overall a lot more enjoyable.

That same care went into the control options although in my opinion, using the Switch’s touch screen is going to be the best way to play this, followed by a Pro Controller or similar wireless or wired pad. Using the Joy-Cons (particularly ones that aren’t exactly new) is a bit of tricky business what with their tendency to sometimes drift up or down sporadically, which will mean certain death in a game where precision is key to survival. That’s not BeautiFun’s fault at all, mind you  they just had to cater to every possible control scheme and for the most part, it works. I ended up switching between touchscreen and my Ematic controllers and he touchscreen, settling for the tap and move option because it made for less dying overall.

So does the story here, by the way. That Professor Lupo is holding an illegal auction aboard his space station where a number of deadly aliens are up for bid for potential use as biological weapons when the ship is attacked by a justice-minded organization who want to shut him down but good. Unfortunately, your character, simply named “Intern” gets caught up in the chaos and yep, needs to escape over 100 levels of increasing difficulty courtesy of some very excellently designed puzzles. There’s actually a lot of plot under the hood here and it’s in interesting journey our too-generically named hero takes, to say the least. Most assuredly, that Intern will expire quite a lot (in a splash of G-rated green goo) as you seek to survive and discover a few truths. Interestingly enough, with a few tweaks to the plot (and  a bit of M-rated gore), this could be a ALIEN game or that Jurassic Park sequel I only caught part of on cable where deadly dinos were up for bid and things went south once those creatures were set free.

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“It followed me home, can I keep it?” Well, NO. It’ll eat your face off as soon as you go to sleep, pal.

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Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets Trailer: Ticks, and Flees

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Well, this sure looks like a ton of fuzzy/scaly/puzzle-y fun. Indie developer BeautiFun Games’ upcoming Professor Lupo and his Terrible Pets is set to land on Nintendo Switch and Steam July 11. There’s a free demo on both the eShop and Steam to try out and even better for Switch owners. pre-orders for that version are currently 15% off until the game’s release date. Here’s a trailer to ogle and maybe pet (be gentle!):

As the Professor’s personal Intern, players are set to deal with the ferocity of his collection of so-called horrible pets: deceiving alien creatures with a double nature, looking adorable while unbothered, but turning into hungry monsters when they sense their prey. When a series of catastrophes cause them to run amok across the Aurora Space Station, it’s every Intern for themselves.

Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is an adventure game with 100 levels that delivers clever puzzle gameplay mechanics, a heavy dose of humor in a suspenseful plot, and original art with traditional 2D animations. Embracing the Nintendo Switch philosophy, the game supports every configuration the console provides, including portable, tabletop and TV modes. Players can use the Joy-Cons, gamepads, and touch screen to play through the story however and wherever they want. On Steam, players can choose between point and click mode, keyboard controls or the Steam controller, which the game is fully compatible with.

Sounds like a plan for puzzle fans, I’d say. Since I happen to be one, I’ll take that review code I got for a spin and report back if my character survives the experience. That space rabies is no joke, I hear.

Back in a bit.

Review: Warhammer Chaosbane – Magnus Edition (PS4)

WHC_PS4While not without its minor flaws (which can be patched in future updates), Warhammer Chaosbane ($59.99) is a solid and worthy ARPG genre fans should absolutely take for a spin. EKO Studios has cooked up a pretty addictive game that, once you’re hooked into it, delivers exactly what it intends and does it well enough that some if its issues can be overlooked thanks to the core gameplay, which works even better in co-op if you’ve a few friends to play with.

As a solo experience, it’s also quite entertaining, with a sort of Dungeons & Dragons Heroes vibe (as in longish levels and plenty of tough foes to vanquish when you go it alone). Okay, so it’s more or less a Warhammer version of the original Diablo, but this ends up being an excellent thing overall thanks to ten difficulty levels that mean you’ll never get to say this game is too easy if you’re at all serious. With the extra modes (Expedition, Boss Rush, Relic Hunt) and the developer planning more free and paid content in the future including at least one additional chapter expansion pack and a load of bonuses, this one’s going to be an evergreen game for ARPG fans who want more of what it delivers.

I noted Diablo over Diablo III because to me, EKO seems to have wisely went back to the grimmer version of Blizzard’s classic over the more colorful (yet still quite grim) third installment. Despite the repetition in layouts and static level art, there’s a gritty, nasty vibe in the first two chapters that feature either gloomy sewer maps or a ravaged village packed with kill-crazy demons of a few varieties. The third chapter’s outdoor map, a forest area full of deadly creatures, almost looks too clean, but the somewhat linear library maps with their menacing vibe more than make up for that flaw. That said, the fourth chapter knocks it out of the park with what I’ll describe as the world’s richest kid’s brand-spanking *new* dungeon play set, Deluxe Version. in other words, I love this map, folks:

Where the other maps tend to have a static look to them despite a few destructible barrels and such, Here you get a sort of Castle Grayskull maze dungeon on steroids with stone, shiny metal of a few types and gracefully writhing tentacles all vying for attention with the fiercest enemies in the game outside the main bosses. Although the game ends up reusing one re-lit familiar setting for that final push to the end boss, that final fight is set in a wildly ornate (albeit tiny) arena where you’ll need to be fast and determined to take down a pretty dangerous foe (Protip: don’t die!).

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Dying during a boss fight allows you to start from the beginning, which is a better alternative that quitting and replaying a map. Interestingly enough, on my first play, the game crashed during the last boss fight after I died twice, but when I fired up the game again, I was surprised that I was able to continue from the beginning of the battle with no penalty.  The hilarious thing was I did beat the boss on that last try with a measly 12 HP left. I thought I was a goner as the boss was about to lay down a hit, but it died and I nearly died myself from thinking I’d made it that far only to have to try again.

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Endgame Plans – Big News For Those Wanting More

I’m currently playing through the PS4 version of Warhammer: Chaosbane for review and yes indeed, developer EKO Studios and publisher Bigben Interactive have big plans for even more content for the upcoming ARPG in terms of free and paid additions. Check out the video above for the roadmap and go get your controllers warmed up for the game’s release date(s) of May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions (pre-purchasers get early access to the game) and June 4 for the Standard Edition.

-GW

Warhammer Chaosbane Story Trailer: Tales, Neatly Bundled, Please

Those who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane will be getting an early tasting when the game rolls out and beginning May 31st for PC and console pre-purchasers of the Magnus Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition, while others will need to hold out for the Standard Editions for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that will be available on June 4th, 2019. Those who played that beta will see that this story trailer slightly resembles the one each of the playable characters gets when their respective stories are started and this ties the overall experience together nicely, I’d say.

A week or so may not seem like a long time, but it sure is an eternity when you’re lurking in front of your mailbox for a physical copy or lurking around on a digital store for a pre-load to kick in. Go do something else if that’s your particular case, as the game won’t at all mind you getting distracted by stuff before it launches.

-GW

Signs of the Sojourner Headed to PC in 2019

Los Angeles-based Indie developer Echodog Studios has an intriguing game on the way called Signs of the Sojourner that’s well worth a look. Here’s the first trailer:

There’s also a Discord channel up for those interested in taking a free alpha demo of the game for a spin. The concept is certainly quite compelling, as you’ll discover below. Card combat is out – card convo? In like Flint, folks:

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About Signs of the Sojourner

Signs of the Sojourner is a narrative deck-building game about relationships and communication. The ways in which you develop your deck, and thus your character, will determine how well you can communicate and connect with characters from different backgrounds and regions.

As your relationships grow, you’ll become involved in the lives and struggles of characters at home and abroad, all communicated via a unique card game experience.

Features

  • Navigate conversations via a card game

  • Your deck is your character

  • Meet dozens of characters in a variety of locations

  • Build your deck to develop relationships

  • Collect tasty foods to bring home to your shop

While it’s currently set for a PC release only at this point, I’m crossing my fingers this gets a console release at some point, as it’s a unique take on a sub-genre that’s popular and at the very least, adds some fresh ideas to a well-aged formula. We’ll see what’s what soon enough, as the game is set to launch later in 2019, but yes, do go sign up on that Discord page if you want to try out an in-progress version.

-GW

Warhammer Chaosbane Hands-On: Eko’s of the Past Bode Well for the Future

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I’d hate to be that guy who has to clean those stained glass windows every other day…

WC_cover PS4Way back in 2013, I recall going to a 505 Games press event to play Eko Software’s impressive How to Survive and noting to a PR rep that the developer needed to make an isometric RPG at some point because that game had all the makings of an instant classic despite the overdone zombie theme and copious survival elements. Two years and a new 505 press event later, I’m playing How to Survive 2 and noting to another rep that Eko really, really needed to do an iso RPG just to get it out of their system and how I’d love to see them do something original or even revive a more fantasy-themed game like a Champions of Norrath or some other similarly beefy (and long forgotten) IP.

Four years later and I’m playing through the closed beta version of Warhammer Chaosbane on my PS4 with a huge grin plastered on my face. Although it’s a beta, it’s a mighty fine one full of promise once the dev team adds and tweaks some elements.

In its current state, it’s certainly got some excellent visuals, gameplay that’s immediately fun and what’s looking to be a fairly lengthy campaign just based on looking at the overworld map in the second of two playable chapters. But a bit more polish in a few areas will help put this game into that rarefied air a certain few other isometric games are floating around in. One great thing about the beta is Eko’s willingness to take into account every bit of reasonable feedback from those who’ve pre-ordered the game and have sunk some time into the builds they’ve made available.

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There’s a Dreadful Bond Tech Demo. Go Take it For a Spin, Please

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With its Kickstarter in its final week, developer Clod Studio has released a gorgeously gloomy tech demo for Dario Argento’s Dreadful Bond which makes for an excellent look at the game’s environments as well as some impressive audio design in the form of a haunting piano tune and some appropriately unsettling sound effects. There’s no “action” here to speak of, but I’m betting some of you easily frightened types will feel more than a little creeped out by the strikingly realistic visuals and those assorted ambient sound effects that will have you stop moving your mouse around because it feels as if… well, as if something is watching your every move or worse, is lurking in the same space you are just over your shoulder.

 

 

Wait, that’s just me – I was hungry, poked around in your fridge and made myself a sandwich while I was waiting for you all to download that demo. Er, I hope you don’t mind? Anyway, I’m going to exit, stage left. Go check out that tech demo for Dreadful Bond and pledge towards its completion, I say. Also, you need a new loaf of bread and maybe some Colman’s English Mustard because that boring bright yellow stuff is kinda tame. Okay, Okay, I’m going!

-GW

Review: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning (PS4)

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

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CHARGE COMBO… er, hey? Does that come with fries, or just a large punch? I got jokes, man. Not good ones, but I got jokes…

ZZPS4“Gleefully Apocalyptic” or “Cheerfully Downbeat” may seem like damnable praise for a game, but Spike Chunsoft has made that a winning strategy in a number of its more popular titles such as the “Deathly Amusing” Danganronpa series or those “Wonderfully Grim” Zero Escape games. Veteran developer Lancarse’s Zanki Zero: Last Beginning ($59.99) is in some ways similar, but not 100% quite like those other games, though. It’s a “Non-stop Survival RPG” with a demanding set of gameplay requirements some new to this sort of thing may find a bit tricky to grasp, but it ends up pretty satisfying once you settle in and grow accustomed to what it requires from you. In English, you’ll dig this for what works well more than those who might not “get” it at all. Go try that lengthy PS4 demo out and make your move, I say.

You play as a team of eight survivors of a world-ending event who initially seem to think they’re in a bizarre reality show, but soon find out they’re clones with a 13-day lifespan forced to repeat the cycle of birth to death as they puzzle out the hows and whys of their existence. Their guides? A pair of cartoon show hosts living in a separate reality who pop up on an unplugged vintage televisions to give them missions that will expand or end their lives (or both) as they’re completed. Yes, you get 10XP if you realize there’s some nefariousness going on behind the scenes (or, under the skin, if you prefer). And yes, I thought David Lynch would make a fine directorial choice if there’s ever a live-action version of this one, but as usual… I digress.

 

 

As you can see from that trailer above, you can expect death to come calling frequently (a lot less so if you play on the new to the English version Easy mode). That said, dying here isn’t all bad, as what can kill you will in most cases will make your party members stronger as new resistances and even a bit of lifespan extending can be acquired based on how and when you buy the farm. Buy early, buy often, but try not to buy it too much as your lives are limited. There’s also that parasitic Clione the clones have to deal with – use their powers wisely, or pay the price with a somewhat spectacular death.

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Road Trip (Of Sorts)!

MODUSHey. Now, I’d normally be posting something as we speak, well, something more game-y or film-y, but I’m getting ready to go out (“Fresh air! Times Square!”) and take a look at some upcoming titles from the fine folks at Modus Games, who certainly have some nifty-looking titles to show off. There’s an embargo in place, so you won’t be able to read my impressions until the 10th, but I fully expect to have some rather nice things to say about what I’m going to be seeing. Wait, that’s quite game-related, so I did my good deed for the day, huh? See what happens when you let a realization sink in?

Speaking of seeing, I’ll be seeing you all later this evening, as I’ve a few reviews to get to posting and some potential whining about a movie trailer I didn’t much like. Back in a bit.

-GW