Review: AereA (PS4)


 
 

While it’s not as great as it should have been out of the gate, there’s still time to fix this sleeper up with a decent patch and make it an even better product.

Developer Triangle Studios’ AereA makes for an interesting blend of familiar elements that gamers willing to overlook its flaws should enjoy. Indie publisher Soedesco has released this as a marquee mid-priced ($39.99) retail and digital game and it’s clear they’re wanting it to be a sleeper hit for casual to veteran ARPG fans. Colorful visuals, fast-paced gameplay and a superb score (by Deon van Heerden) are all strong points. Unfortunately, game balance issues, a poor English localization, and the lack of any post-game content hurt the overall experience.

A sort of love child of Diablo, Wild Tangent’s Fate series and Runic’s original Torchlight, the Unity-powered visuals and emphasis on action are initially impressive. Additionally, the ability to play couch co-op with up to three other players is a nice touch (no online play is supported). However, the very straightforward story progression, a total lack of personality in its four mute heroes, and some technical/UI problems made me grimace more than grin through my 22+ hours with the game.

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Review: Perception (PS4)

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Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

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Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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Quick Takes: Some Good Games To Catch Up On (In A Year Of Too Many Great Ones), Part 1


 

Yep, the backlog has been officially backloggier thanks to stuff being stuff in the real world. But things are getting played bit by bit here despite incessantly annoying diversions. Hey, one needs something FUN to do between bouts of eyebrow lifts, sighing into adult beverages and trying not to trip over the assorted stacks of THINGS TO GET DONE lined carefully in strategic spots around the office. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that terrible, but I love to melodrama my issues a bit much. Anyway, here’s part one of a series of capsule reviews, or a brief rundown on things that have been tackled, games division.
 


 

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Extended Edition (PS4): If you’re a big Diablo III or other isometric ARPG fan and want another game of the chase and chop variety, a mere $20 will be well spent on NeoCore Games’ more amusing and in some areas, harder game. While it goes for a more Steampunk Victorian visual aesthetic and uses a good deal more in the way of humor in its storytelling, the quest and side-quest 1-2 punch holds things together quite nicely. Granted, you have fewer classes to play around with, but the skills system for your Van Helsing and his ghostly aide Katerina ends up being pretty complex with many passive skills that boost combat to some often grand destructive levels. There’s no defensive roll like the console versions of DIII, but you’ll get used to dealing with huge packs of foes by taking it slower and picking off smaller groups one by one.

The game is generally solid overall and features online co-op play (no split-screen here, sorry!), a very fun “tower defense” mode that pops up a few times as a diversion from the main plot, and about 30 or so hours of gameplay if you’re determined to get everywhere you can on one run. The ending is somewhat of a ‘To Be Continued’ deal, but having played the other parts on PC, it’s worth the wait for the sequel to hit PS4 at some point. In fact, as this is only the first of three chapters, it would be great to see the other two arrive on PSN as soon as humanly possible and perhaps later, the entire trilogy out on a disc via a small print publisher like Limited Run Games or SOEDESCO. As always, we shall see. But for the money there’s a load of great fun to be had and had again.
 


 

Mantis Burn Racing (PC/PS4/Xbox One): While it’s initially short on tracks and content compared to other arcade racers, the difficulty curve in developer VooFoo Studios racer makes the game supremely challenging right from the get-go. A blazing fast proprietary engine showcases gorgeous 60fps racing where the slightest mistake will leave you in back of the pack and eating the digital dust of your opponents blowing past you. Practice makes perfect, but expect the game to not let you breathe much against AI that gets better as you do. Against live players the competition is far fiercer with expert players constantly making short work of anyone popping online for the friendliest of matches. You’re going to get smoked like a country ham if you’re not ready for the tracks in this one for sure.

That said, once you get the handling and have matches where you’re in the zone and nail those tricky turns, not bashing into other cars and generally having a zen-like experience racking up wins, the game is so hard to put down that you may need an alarm set to remind you to do important stuff. I haven’t tried out the new Snowbound DLC yet, but if this video is any indication, this 100% FREE update is going to suck me in all over again to the point where I’ll need to get a dog or cat or some other pet to remind me with a paw to the face to get up and go for a stroll, play with or feed them. A service animal for gamers? Who knew!
 

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Earth Defense Forces 5 Presents: His and Her-strionics

 

Oh, these are hilarious. If you know someone who speaks Japanese, have them sit down and watch these crazy YouTube videos for Earth Defense Forces 5 and try to keep a straight face. Set for a summer 2017 launch exclusively on PS4, D3Publisher and busy developer Sandlot are making the biggest and most bizarre EDF game to date.If you don’t know anyone who speaks the language, the subtitled version of the first trailer is here.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the usual horde of giant ants and spiders are all in as they should be, but the skyscraper tall alien frogs and soldiers are a total freak-out that are going to make a tough game a heck of a lot tougher. I have questions for the dev team about this and many oher things, of course. But I prefer to just play the game and see how it turned out as that sort of time spent usually answers most questions in the most fun manner.

 

That said, the only truly pressing question I have as I write this is whether to import or wait for a localized version. I should hold off until a western publisher and date are revealed, but previous EDF games take so long to get localized that I may end up biting the bullet early. Hey, I need to practice for the actual invasion force coming soon and knowing the enemy is the best strategy, right? Right. I knew you’d see it my way.

-GW

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Imprint-X Hands-On: A-Hacking We Will Go In Morgondag’s Latest Trippy Indie


 

Vendela and Kim over at Morgondag have been busy getting their next game up on Steam and if you love quirky puzzle games, Imprint-X will be right up your alley. A few minutes spent with a build of this unique hacker clicker puzzler reveal it’s quite engaging in its wordless presentation that opens gameplay up to anyone. Actually, all you need to know is in the description on the game page:

A robotic virus is raging! Nano Bots called Wardens are enslaving people! You are one of the hacker clones, saving intellects by hacking into infected brains and defeating the mysterious Wardens; figuring out their correct button sequences.

 

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There’s both a smart simplicity and hefty challenge awaiting you puzzle masters as the game goes from simple switch clicking to more advanced patter memorization and faster clicking needed to ‘catch’ moving parts of some puzzles. As with Morgondag’s stellar, strange Rymd Resa, the visual style is clean yet beautifully stylized with an intriguing soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere. I’ve only sunk a solid half hour into this so far, but my brain is getting a workout already. As reviews are embargoed until the 26th anyway (the game’s release date), you’ll all have to hold your collective breath until then. Back in a bit.

-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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PSN Double Sale: Your Wallet Needed The Post-Turkey Day Exercise, Right?

psnbfGot a PS4, PS3, or Vita handy? Good. Click on that banner above or below (or both in separate tabs), do some self-gifting and thank me later for saving you a trip to the mall (or maul, given the usual antics on this crazy shopping day).

psnfsI think you can use only this one-time use code: D9NGJ7NF3L for an extra 10% off on Flash Sale buys, but see if it works if you combine purchases. You’re welcome, of course.

-GW

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Busload of Horror VI: The Neverending Gory…

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I’d be lying if I said this series wasn’t fun to do, so I’m going to do something even more fun and continue delivering a busload of horror or horror related games on a weekly or bi-weekly basis based on my workload. This particular series will close for now on a few scary-ish notes starting with one of the best (and hardest) games I’ve played all year which just so happens to win the “Most Improved Via Patching” crown. Okay, I don’t have a crown for that. But you know what I’m talking about.

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SLAIN: Back from Hell: Brutally savaged upon its initial release by critics and gamers (many of the latter who never played the game, but merely hopped on the flaming hate wagon because that what the Internet does to people who need to feel as if they’re part of a “thing”), SLAIN seemed destined to die on the vine before it got a fair shake. Thankfully, developer Wolfbrew Games (Andrew Gilmour) picked himself up, shook off the ashes and like Dr. Frankenstein after a few fresh pots of coffee, a ton of classic metal music and a few too many monster movies, set to reviving his baby and making it a better experience overall. Did he succeed? Take a look for yourself:


 

Yep. It’s not only back, it’s brilliant, visually rich and chock full of so many tweaks that it’s definitely worth buying even if you have to pay someone with better reflexes to finish it for you. The game isn’t easy at all, but it’s hard to stop playing thanks to the visuals dropping in something fantastic to look at in every stage. The old school stuff (knockback deaths, enemies spawning at the wrong time, many deathtraps, cheap bosses) may tick off casual gamers or those who never “got Gud” at classic 8 and 16-bit games something fierce. But for those who like it rough, Slain says “Welcome home, now go die!” and you’ll keep coming back for more. Oh, and it’s on PS4 and Xbox One, so you have no excuse not to play this if you own either console.

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Busload of Horror V: Off The Top Of My Head…

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Well, a day left before jury duty (BOO! but civic duty is important, folks! That said, who the hell schedules jury duty on friggin’ Halloween?!) and me getting busy doing a ton of other stuff not site related, I’m moving a bunch of stuff into November once this court-ship pulls back into port and I’m a free man again. Anyway, let me wrap this horror game thing up with a bunch of randomness you’ll want to check out. Starting with a new game that’s a hilarious must of you like to laugh more than scream:

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Slayaway Camp: Well, wow. Blue Wizard Digital just dropped one of the most fun and surprisingly funny puzzle games this year and yes, if you’re at all a horror fan, you either need to play it or haunt someone who has a Steam account until they buy it so you can watch them play. The game has you playing a number of different horror movie killers taking out teens in a series of increasingly tricky sliding puzzles. Complete an entire movie’s worth of scenes to unlock more in the game’s Video Store.

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Just check the video below for the gory truth about how awesome this is:

 

 

The blocky graphic style makes those kills go down easy, the music is straight up fantastic, the selection of playable baddies will get genre fans grinning, and there are some pretty sweet bonuses to unlock. Oh, and you NEED to check out the options screen just for the different visual tweaks, some of which make zero sense and parody more graphically intensive titles with way too many options. Clearly, Blue Wizard’s love for 80’s slasher flicks is making a ton of people more than happy, so why not join the happy crowd, I say? Hey, if you don’t… Skullface himself may come a-knockin’ at your door…

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Today’s Freak-Out, Courtesy of DreadOut

Seriously twisted and interactive to boot, this icky video from talented Indonesian developer Digital Happiness wants to mess with your day in a big way. This VR-enabled teaser for DreadEye almost makes me want to try a VR horror game, but I don’t want to be found dead on the couch with those damn goggles strapped to my head. That would be somewhat expensive and embarrassing, right? Right.

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Oh, by the way… DreadOut is on sale until November 1 for a mere $2.99. Get it, I say.