Capsule Reviews: It’s A Puzzlement!

Not every game needs to go for epic length status or terminally flashy visuals to be enjoyable. I tend to gravitate to puzzle games when I need a break from other genres  and there have been a few really cool ones this year. Here’s a quick look at a some of the ones I liked a lot:

 

solar flux switchSolar Flux (Nintendo Switch, $9.99): Firebrand Games’ great space-themed puzzler may look simple, but it riffs on classic arcade gameplay with homages to Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Puzzle Bobble, a bit of Star Castle and probably a few other titles my brain can’t recall in a really fun, challenging manner. While it’s at heart, a supremely soothing experience, the reliance on touchscreen-only controls combined with limited fuel and the need for precision movement of your very fragile ship means you’ll be getting a game that won’t easily be mastered in one sitting. Yes, the music is ear-pleasing and completely chill, but if you’re easily flustered by even the tiniest of mistakes, the gameplay can get pretty tense if you’re not able to tip-tap-steer your way out of trouble. Practice makes perfect, folks.

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That challenge ramps up geometrically during the 80 missions set across 4 galaxies, but nice looks and all, you’re not here to do any sightseeing. Getting the best times as things get complicated is somewhat tricky (but rewarding). So expect a few retries and perhaps a few times when you’re just putting the game down for a bit and coming back later if you lose that zen-like concentration. Don’t worry, though. Those assorted suns you need to recharge will be there when you return. All is good in this universe, just relax and it’ll be quite the thrill.

Score: A (90%)

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PSN Holiday Sale: Your Wallet Just Went Into Witness Protection

Feh. Santa clearly doesn’t exist in my mind because if he did, he’d have read my mind, checked his list twice and GOT ME ALL THE GAMES I WANTED THAT ARE NOW ON SALE ON PSN. Yeah, I’ve been good, too. Better, even. Heck, these aren’t even physical games so it’s not as if there wasn’t room on that sleigh, pal. *Sigh* Anyway, I’m going to go look at a few of this year’s games I can’t afford and go poke at the budget games section because there are a lot of cheaper indies I can afford. My wallet is hiding somewhere making those whimpering sounds (which makes it very easy to find, by the way), and my aching backlog is glaring at me with that “Don’t you DARE” stare, but I’m not listening (falalalalalalalalalalala!)

Hey, there’s no sin in pleasure, that’s for sure. My bills are paid up for the month anyway, so it’s not even close to landing in guilty pleasure territory (that, and this is a hobby that’s quite guilt-free when all is said and done).

-GW

 

Earth Defense Force 5: Out Now, So Don’t Bug Me!

EDF 5 logo

It’s boom time for those pesky giant bugs and angry-ass aliens, finally!

 

 

Well, there goes the neighborhood as well as any free time I was thinking of dreaming about. Playing an Earth Defense Force game is a total commitment process if you’re a longtime fan. I actually didn’t import the Japanese version because I wanted to go in totally cold (other than watching a few gameplay videos to see how it ran and if some of the trademark wonkiness was still there), so I’d say after all this time, I’m ready to be overwhelmed by this latest alien invasion from developer Sandlot.

While this one’s a PS4 exclusive, I’d gather a PC version is in the works as Sandlot did a PC port of the last EDF game. Granted, the online mode was rife with cheaters and some players teaming up with them ended up with corrupted save files thanks to hacked weapons and other stuff that made for a less than stellar experience. Hopefully, PC fans will get this at some point, but me? I’ll be perfectly happy posting YouTube videos or doing a bit of rare live streaming just to show off my skills (or lack of them, as I’m betting myself a dollar I’ll be REALLY rusty at least for a quarter of Normal mode.

Back in a bit – I need to get a few other things posted today, so it’ll be sooner than later.

-GW

Iceberg Interactive Sale: Some Cold Comfort For That Tight Wallet

If you’re looking to add an eclectic mix of PC games to your digital library, the fine folks at IndieGala have a nice deal for you in the form of an Iceberg Interactive sale. From some solid horror/mystery adventures, to action games and a classic 4X strategy series, there’s sure to be a few titles that catch your eye and get you to fishhook out that wallet.

OE_GK

NOT the John Wayne version, thankfully. I’d bet the real Khan would keel over laughing if he ever saw The Conqueror (before having some heads go rolling).

Also of note for you 4X fans is the new expansion to developer Shining Pixel’s deep and challenging Oriental Empires, which just so happens to be called Oriental Empires: Genghis. That expansion (also available on Steam) features a wealth of content that includes a new solo campaign as well as a load of other content:

OE Genghis

KHAAAAAAAAN!!! Before China was eating our lunch, they ate their own for quite some time. Yes, this game is somewhat educational.

Become Genghis Khan in a brand new story campaign
Play as other new factions in the ‘Time of the Mongols’ sandbox campaign
A new map that extends from China in the East across the vast steppes of Mongolia all the way to the Caspian Sea
Stunning new buildings
New roster of Mongol units
New units for the Turkish tribes and the Empire of Khwarazm
Many new resources, technologies and characters

While the base OE game isn’t on sale, it’s still a quite reasonable enough $29.99 which gets you a rather huge amount of content as well as a pretty decent historical strategy sim. If that screenshot below and the gameplay footage at the end of this post makes you yell out “Hex, Yeah!” well, my work here is done.

Oriental Empires Genghis Screenshot (5)

Now, then. I’ll pipe down and let you go and let your fingers do the walking on over to those links above. If you do buy something or a bunch of somethings, feel free to drop a comment below.

 

-GW

Fanatical’s Kingslayer Bundle: Instant Backlog, Must Haves Edition

Fanatical Kingslayer

Deal of the month? Try YEAR, if you want to never see daylight until next spring or summer…

Okay, thanks to a few more codes that rolled in, I’m buried up to the gills in reviews (blub, blub!). So while you’re waiting (tomorrow will be a fun day for some new and older games I’ve been zipping through at various paces), why not pretend to  be me by getting your own big-ass backlog? Fanatical’s really excellent Kingslayer Bundle offers up almost $190 of PC games (via Steam) for a measly FIVE BUCKS.

Yes, you read that right. If your PC meets the specs for even the pair of older Star Wars RPGs, those along offer upwards of 40 hours of play each. (and both Knights of the Old Republic games have multiple endings, so you may end up playing longer than that). The other games also come recommended (I liked The Age of Decadence, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, STYX: Shards of Darkness, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and what little I played of Oxenfree quite a lot). Metal Slug X is of course, pure arcade fun, as is The King of Fighters XIII. The only game I haven’t played thus far is The Sims 4, but I’ve never really neen much of a fan of that series (*shocking!*).

Anyway, this lot of ten games is only going to be available for a brief period, so jump on this deal if it floats your boat. It certainly won’t sink your wallet at all, that’s for sure.

-GW

Smoking Wallet Alert: A Few Black Friday Deals

Yes, it’s going to be total shopping frenzy for some of you out there in internet land and sure, you can go nuts looking for deals and getting elbows to the forehead at the local mall if you like. Me, I’m going to just sit comfortably at home and silently drop a few fine deals in your laps and let you deal with them as you see fit. Feel free to supplement those with other deals you find while poking around and you can pretty much sleepwalk through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, International Empty Wallet Day or whatever other day you want to whip out that credit, debit or gift card. If you’re into constant deals any time of the year, a handy app such as RetailMeNot will help out in tracking all sorts of deals whenever you’ve the urge.

playstation-4-marvels-spider-man-hdr

Does whatever a spider can? Hah! Spiders don’t make anywhere as much moolah as this game has this year, that’s for sure.

PlayStation Deals! Sony’s got a fantastic set of sales happening from now until November 26. Start here for some great deals on a new PS4 Spider-Man bundle, two different PSVR bundles (I’d go with the PSVR+ Moss/Astro Bot deal, but if you prefer Creed: Rise to Glory and Superhot VR, it’s your call) and Dual Shock 4 deals (get a few of those at that price). There’s also a Black Friday Sale on digital games and other downloadable content that should have some of you stocking up on a few titles at temporary bargain prices. Oh, and for those of you with PS Plus or those interested in renewing the service at $20 off the standard price, that $40 deal for a yearly sub is not to be missed.

playstation-vr-astro-bot-rescue-mission-and-moss-bundle-homepage-marqueek-desktop-02-ps4-us-02oct18

If you’re going to go all in with PSVR, go with two of the best titles VR titles on the system.

There are also Black Friday-related game deals on individual digital titles on PSN as well as plenty of in-store retail deals to check out, so feel free to poke around online or even pop into that nearby retailer if you’re so inclined.

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Path of Exile (Finally) PS4-Bound

POE PS4

 

Ever hold a secret in for so long that you forget about it until you find out it’s no longer a secret, yet you still clutch that secret in a death grip? Well, that’s me and this news item on Grinding Gear Games’ great Path of Exile popping up on PS4 before the end of the year.

Lovely trailer alert below:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/gZD8HWCDV2U

Earlier this year I’d gotten a hint of a whisper of a whiff it was on the way, but at some point after the ecently released Xbox One version and I filed that tease away until an actual confirmation was announced. Excellent. Now, all I need to to is figure out what game to drop off my MMO list. I really have less time to play online stuff and am supposed to dislike these types of games (allegedly). But I find myself interested in a few and will try them out for a spell. PoE is a free to play (NOT pay to win) game that I messed around a bit with on Steam and liked a lot but had to stop playing because I got busy trying to put a dent in my backlog. Anyway, it looks as If I’ll need to hop into this in December and see how well the PS4 handles the game.

Path of Exile Key Features Include:

Download and play for free, but never pay-to-win
A dark and deep action RPG
Unlimited character combinations with the game’s gigantic skill tree
Combine skill gems to create unique combat strategies
Explore a dark and gritty world rendered from a fixed 3D perspective
Explore randomly generated levels for nearly infinite replayability
Craft weapons, magic items and even end-game maps to become more powerful
Cooperate or compete with thousands of other Exiles in a persistent online world
Ascend online ladders in every game mode

Back in a bit. I was awake all last night concerned about voting, but did it early, came back and passed out for a few hours (oops). Going to put on some coffee and try to work while NOT watching any election coverage so I don’t keel over from the stress.

-GW

Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PC)

Mary Skelter Nightmares PC

GhostLight’s wonderful port of Mary Skelter: Nightmares brings the game to PC in a flawless translation of the Vita version and yes, it’s absolutely worth a buy.  Seeing and playing it on a larger screen reveals sharper enemy and background art, but you won’t be fiddling with anything other than resolution and window size settings if you really need to. In fact, the rather low system requirements makes this one of the more accessible modern dungeon crawlers out there. Even if you’re not into the anime art style and overall offbeat tone here, the game excels on the gameplay front in capturing the spirit of the classic Wizardry games.

MSN_01

Nope, this isn’t your Granny’s version of Snow White or any of the other gals from those old fairy tales. These girls can take care of themselves pretty well.

That’s not to say at all that the game is an entry level experience. There’s a decent enough difficulty curve and a combination of expansive maps, deadly traps and powerful bosses that will keep you on your toes. The main story involves a living tower-like dungeon called Jail looming over a city in Tokyo it has buried underground and the attempts of a squad of lovely anime ladies and one guy tasked with climbing that tower with intent on defeating the Marchen (monsters) and Nightmares (bosses) that inhabit it. The team’s main purpose is to enter the Jail’s oddball dungeons and defeat the Nightmares, which will grow the tower and allow it to reach the planet’s surface, allowing the citizens of the underground Liberated Zone their true freedom. There’s a bit more (well, a good deal more) to the story, but letting it unfold while playing is the best means of experiencing it.

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Torchlight Frontiers: An Eyebrow is Raised – Hopefully, a Banner Will Follow

This one came as a surprise because I thought the Torchlight games were dead and gone. But it seems Perfect World Entertainment, Arc, developer Ectra Inc. (which includes some of the team behind a few classic ARPGs including the Torchlight and Diablo games) are going to be dropping an all-new online centered experience in 2019. Here’s the promo trailer for Torchlight Frontiers (which isn’t gameplay, sadly):

(Thanks, Play Torchlight!)

Here’s the official word so far:

Introducing the next iteration of the award-winning Torchlight series: Torchlight Frontiers!

Set in the same beloved universe as Torchlight I and II, this shared-world action-RPG brings back many of the franchise’s signature features and mechanics that captured the hearts of ARPG fans around the world. Led by former Runic Games and Blizzard North co-founder, Max Schaefer, the team developing Torchlight Frontiers is comprised of veteran developers who were responsible for the games that defined the ARPG genre, including the original Diablo and Torchlight franchises.

Torchlight Frontiers combines the heart of the beloved Torchlight series with a shared, persistent and dynamically generated world. In true Torchlight style, players will team up with friends and devoted pets to hack and slash their way through a vibrant world, discover ancient ruins of lost civilizations and brave dungeons filled with riches and dangerous creatures. Additional details about Torchlight Frontiers will be revealed at a later date.

The good news is the pedigree along with Perfect World’s generally solid track record in the MMO scene. The shared, persistent world business means this will likely be an online only game with solo play as an option similar to what’s found in Neverwinter (a game I’m currently playing and enjoying). I’ll gather this will also be free to play with paid content, but we’ll see where that all goes. I like the art style in the trailer, although I’m hoping the game goes for a look closer to Torchlight II and/or won’t require a super-powerful PC to run. The console plans mean it should look similar across the board, which is a good thing in my book.

Torchlight Frontiers will be available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at some point in 2019, but we’ll need to definitely get some hands-on time with a build at some point to see what’s what. Fingers crossed (and yes, cross-platform play would be keen, Sony).

-GW

Earth Defense Force 5 US Trailer #1: A Bit of Wait Gain

(La la la, PlayStation!)

 

EDF_5 boxIt’s about time,  but there’s still no concrete release date for North America. To be fair, Sony has opened up pre-orders for the game’s standard digital and deluxe digital editions. But that 12/31/2018 release date is a bit questionable (games usually pop up on Tuesdays and I don’t think a New Year’s Day release date would be a thing). FYI, with no official launch date decided, pre-orders have to include a tentative date so potential buyers have a general idea of when a product will arrive as a download or at retail.  I hope this game rolls in before the end of the year, as it’s a bit crazy-cakes that a worldwide release wasn’t in the cards from day one.

That said, I’m also surprised I didn’t snap up the import version at this point, but that was a mix of finances not being where they needed to be and not wanting to go to the hassle of creating a Japanese PSN account to get DLC. Well, that and I thought the game would have been out already,  Ah well. I have plenty of games to wade through in the backlog, so at the end of the day, holding out for this one in English means I’m going to be going in totally cold and enjoying every minute.

EDF 5_04

-GW