Review: Moss (PSVR)

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Every tail, er TALE, has a beginning. This one’s a really good one provided you’ve got a PS4 and PSVR setup (or Oculus or Vive and a powerful PC.

Moss PSVRIt’s too bad Polyarc’s fantastic new PSVR game Moss ($29.99) is only playable on a PS4 using Sony’s virtual reality headset (or on PC with a pricier Oculus or Vive setup) because it’s pretty awesome and one of the best VR games on the console. Granted, the developer’s total commitment to making a solid VR experience is part of what makes the game so excellent. But I’m of the mind that really well-made games such as this may actually benefit from “flat” versions that, while missing the VR trickery, are just plain fun to play for those without a VR setup.

As great as any VR game is, one thing that needs to not be forgotten is not every gamer will be sold on the tech, can’t use it, or just wants to play good games without the financial burden of paying a few hundred extra bucks for the privilege. That said, if you’ve a PSVR in the house and want another excellent game to show off that just so happens to be family friendly fun, go grab this one and get ready for a fine storybook adventure that yes, can’t be done on the stock PS4.

The use of VR here is much more than a mere gimmick thanks to the developer going above and beyond the call in having the player multitask in mostly great ways. A cute mouse named Quill is the game’s heroine and your goal as the Reader is to help guide her along the way as she attempts to rescue her uncle. The game’s book-like structure is evident from the start as you flip pages to begin Quill’s tale. Puzzle elements come into play as Quill navigates the lovely environments with you helping her out by manipulating objects in the environments to help her reach new locations. Where this element soars over “flat” games is how wonderfully Polyarc has incorporated the VR experience so fully into things to the point of many smile-worthy moments as Quill’s tale unfolds. Yes, that means my non-VR version point above becomes a bit (okay, VERY) moot, but I’ll make a feeble attempt at a saving throw a bit below.

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Even if you hate mieces to pieces (and +10 if you got a chuckle from that joke), Moss will make your mouse-o-meter calm down. Quill’s quite the cutie pie, *squeak!*

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Moss Coming to PS4 as a Physical Edition in June

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Moss2DBlackNormally, if someone said “Hey! Look at that mouse!” I’d be up on a chair with a shoe ready to throw at the first thing that moved because I’d not want some rodent running up my pant leg followed by a ticked off cat like something out of a a Tom and Jerry cartoon. In the case of Polyarc’s lovely action/platform/puzzle game Moss, however, I’m all “D’awwww! SO CUTE!” and then some.

The critically acclaimed and formerly digital only PSN release is getting a retail version next month and it’s looking like one of those PS VR enabled games that’s going to be worth grabbing for your physical library.  Take a peek at the trailer below of Quill’s big virtual adventure and see for yourself, (squeak, squeak):

 

 

Yep, SOLD. June 12 is when this scampers into stores, so go do that pre-order thing or just pop on in to pick up your copy. Save the cheese, though. The person selling you the game might be lactose intolerant or might rather want a pricey Camembert and not the Velveeta chunk you were planning on bringing.

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-GW

Trailblazers – The Future Comes At You Fast on PC, PS4, & Xbox One

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Futuristic racers are starting to repopulate the gaming landscape once again as a welcome subgenre, but developer Supergonk’s Trailblazers has a few fun things going for it that may set it ahead of the pack. Take a little F-Zero, a dash of WipEout, a splash of Splatoon and shake well, then release onto PC, PS4 (May 8) and Xbox One (May 9). The game’s got a more colorful look all over the place (it’s nice to see some of these newer games not go the industrial drab route) and those rides rock a solid retro sci-fi design with appropriately quirky drivers to boot.

 

 

Painting the track as you blaze along allows your tide to gain a speed boost when you drive on your own color. Naturally, you can paint over your opponent’s color (and yes, they can paint over yours), but you’ll very likely be doing your best to win at all costs when you’ve got friends over elbowing each other in the ribs because your couch is too small. Family friendly seems the way this one’s going (a great thing) and the game is set to pack in 10 tracks set over 3 wolds, couch co-op play (split screen is in!) and yes, online modes are also on board.

 

 

While it indeed looks like Supergonk and Publisher Rising Star do indeed have a solid hit here, that’s actually up to you folks to hop in and take this one for a spin. Go on, kick those tires and do the test drive thing. You know you want to. Heck, I certainly want to zip around a funky, colorful race course laying down bright colors and hoping for a supreme booth that blasts me past the opposition to a clean finish. Or a not so clean one – a win is a win (as long as you’re not cheating, right?).

-GW

Review: de Blob (PS4)

de Blob PS4_NATalk about oddball (and pain-free) coincidences. I was doing a bit of rearranging of the game library and a my copy of de Blob for the Nintendo Wii fell on my head thanks to me moving one too many games at once. No, I wasn’t injured at all, thanks. However, I did think out loud something along the lines of “Now, this was a really fun game!” and maybe an hour after talking to myself, I get an email from one of THQ/Nordic’s psychic PR team that there’s an HD version of the game with a few enhancements headed to PS4. As the kids say “Who’da thunk it?” or something like that. Hey, I’m out of touch with the modern slang these days, so just keep quiet in the back there (hey, I heard you smirking!) and read the rest of this review.

Anyway, the game is a pretty cool 3D plarformer/puzzle/action game set in Chroma City, sapped of every color but a few shades of grey (less than 50, though) by the evil INKT Corporation. As de Blob, you’re part of a small resistance out to return things to glorious brilliance by laying paint on almost anything and everything you can. It’s a mash-up influences from Jet Set Radio and a few mascot platformers that works well despite some tricky jumping and camera issues. It’s also packing a pretty infectious dynamic score that cues you in to how well or poorly you’re doing, something more games could use (well, in my opinion, at least).

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Holiday Gift Guide 1: Let’s Get Physical!

It’s been quite interesting living in an all-too digital world and seeing how gifting has changed for many folks who go that route with nearly every purchase. Me? I like giving and receiving actual product for the most part unless it’s a case where the only way to get something is via a code voucher of some sort. That said, I feel kind of bad for kids raised in this era where some parents or other tech-savvy adults seem to hate on the very idea of handing a kid something nicely wrapped that’s NOT another gift card that devalues over time if not used up for a place they’ll never visit in person. So, in the interest of getting you out of the house and offline for oh, maybe an hour or two, I’m tossing a few suggestions your way (which are also available in digital form if you like).

Lego Worlds PS4_NALEGO Worlds (PC/PS4/Xbox One/Switch)- Ever-busy developer TT Games pulls out all the stops in this great sandbox game that’s packed with content and a ton of freedom once you get past the tutorial and early story missions. This is one of those great family games that’s so much fun to play you’ll want to sneak in some time alone once that kid is asleep.

On the other hand, you’d very likely want to play this with your kid or at least have a second controller handy as the game supports up to 2 players in either online or offline modes. Hours will zip by when this is on, but at least you won’t need to worry about stepping on loose LEGO pieces or having the family pet making them disappear after they smack part of what you’ve built under the sofa.

 

Crash Bandicoot PS4_NACrash Bandicoot N. Sane Game & Sock Bundle Pack (PS4)- Can’t decide on getting games or socks for the holidays? Got a relative who auto-buys you socks because he or she has zero clue about games? Why not get BOTH with this bundle of completely remastered PS1 classics that include the first three games in the series lovingly reworked by Vicarious Visions with tons of new HD specific features?

Between the redone visuals, the ability to play as Coco Bandicoot in all three games and a bunch of great stuff only those true masters of unlocking will get to see (yes, the games are as challenging as ever)l you get SOCKS you’ll probably actually wear at some point. But don’t try and stuff those stockings on the box with the game, as that would make for weird gift to receive and probably stretch out one of those socks in the process.

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Review: Pankapu (PS4)

Pankapu PS4Last year, the first chapter of Too Kind Games’ gorgeous, excellent and challenging platformer Pankapu made for a pretty captivating experience on PC and now it’s on PS4 as a complete game that’s equally beautiful and a must-play for genre fans. Bold, colorful visuals, blend with with solid, satisfying gameplay and an initially simple story that changes into more than the bedtime tale it starts out as.

Don’t let that stunning color palette and super-cute art here fool you one bit. This is a seriously tough game at times thanks to the dead-on jumping and combat skills you’ll need to succeed. Initially, you’ll play as a sword and shield-bearing warrior type, but Archer and Mage Aegis outfits eventually appear and add more combat variety as well as pros and cons. Swapping between all three Aegis types, often on the fly makes for some pretty fluid navigation when things go right. On the other hand, enemies and assorted traps can ruin a good run if you make too many mistakes. You will, trust me – Pankapu can be quite hard at times. I’m looking at you, Tokatanka (grrr!)

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PLANTERA: Weeding Out One Very Cool Clicker

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Let’s get this out of the way: I am NOT a big fan of clicker/tapper games, mobile-based or not. There’s a huge and happy market for them, sure. But my attention span tends to wander elsewhere once my brain realizes it’s been trapped into what amounts to Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolates on a too-fast moving assembly line. Yep, that’s hilarious to watch, but DOING it? Madness, on a cosmic horror scale. Ninth level of hell meets Sisyphus cloned by Caligula, but with roller skates, a greasy hill and square boulders. Nope, not for me.

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Of course, I then get a random code for VaragtP‘s super-cute endless clicker PLANTERA in my inbox and well… foo. Yeah, it got me sucked in for a while, grinning like a kid as soon as it started up until I forced myself to shut it down, STILL smiling. My reputation as a curmudgeon, shattered by a planting game? Great. grrr. Ah well, one more bias kicked in the teeth, right? For the record, I plant and grow peppers on a windowsill here, so yeah. The game had me at PLANTERA.

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Review: Pankapu (Episode One)

Too Kind Studios’ absolutely beautiful, absolutely fun platformer brings lovely visuals along with tried and true platforming is a game made for both classic to current run + jump action/adventure fans.

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In a way, Pankapu (only $4.99!) strongly echoes Michel Ancel’s wonderful Rayman, n a few key areas, but that’s a very good thing indeed. Both games have unique looking lead characters, fun, intuitive gameplay for all ages, and a dark thematic undertone that’s in direct opposite of the super-bright, stellar art direction that makes them so wondrous and eye-catching. The game presents itself as a bedtime storybook tale read by a father to his young son, which is a great way of making the fantastic seem real:

To help his child fall asleep, a father tells him the story of Pankapu, a tiny warrior created by Iketomi the God of dreams. His mission is to fight the hordes of Nightmares who are trying to invade his world. During his quest, he will meet many characters, such as Chii, a magical spider who will become his friend and guide him all along this great adventure in Omnia.

During this events, he will also be confronted with Gangreyn, a dark and viscous opponent who will challenge him to go see Yne’Ska, the Mother of Nightmares. Then, the tiny hero will decide to not just save his world but also to go in the center of the nightmares land, to restrain the problem at its source.

 

What follows is a mostly excellent mix of pure fun in some lush environments that’s going to be somewhat easy to old-school platform experts, but challenging for those players looking for a cool new world to bounce around in and discover.

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Review: Overcooked (PC)

“There’s gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight…”

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Platform: PC
Developer: Ghost Town Games Ltd.
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd.
Release Date: Aug 3, 2016
# of Players: 1-4
MSRP: $16.99
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Official Site
Score: A- (90%)
Overcooked_CharactersJust what the doctor chef ordered in this era of “social” videogaming being primarily online, Ghost Town Games’ brilliant, peppy Overcooked is also a great family-friendly breath of fresh air as well as a perfect party game for up to four players. The game is a fun hybrid of elements from the classic PS1 import Ore No Ryouri (or it’s Americanized “remake” Cook, Serve, Delicious!), with a dash of Diner Dash for good measure.

Everything clicks right off the bat with that humorous tutorial that teaches you the basics, to the charming, colorful and cute visual style, bouncy tunes and yes, that fast-paced gameplay. There’s a story about feeding an ultimate demon meals that will keep it from chomping the kingdom you’re in, but it’s just gravy on the tasty as heck cake here. The assorted kitchens you cook in under all sorts of hilariously hellish conditions and the rotating cast of chefs you’ll meet make this one a game that will make you laugh a lot even when things are collapsing on the cooking front.

Yep, things get pretty heated pretty quickly in this instant classic, folks…

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Review: ABZÛ

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Platform: PC (Steam) / Playstation 4 (PSN)

Developer: Giant Squid Studios

Publisher: 505 Games

# of Players: 1

MSRP: $19.99

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

ABZU logoWith so many indie games flooding the market these days worth checking out, a few of them have either dropped off my radar, are already on it but not out yet, or never landed there in the first place because keeping track of them all is a Herculean task with me as Sisyphus filling in for the duration. Giant Squid’s absolutely stunning ABZÛ fell into the first category partially thanks to me seeing who was behind it last year and thinking “Eh, it’s in good hands, so it doesn’t need me pushing it at all.”

Amusingly enough, that intentional ignorance worked out in my favor when I finally got to play the game last week when 505 Games bought it to NYC. I went in with no expectations other than thinking I’d get maybe an hour’s playtime in and enough impressions to write up a dandy hands-on post. A few hours later, I had to *force* myself to stop playing the game and make a graceful exit with my head filled with too many gorgeous images and a desire to see what the final two levels I’d left untouched held in store. Echoes of that Ecco the Dolphin on the Dreamcast and the underappreciated PS1 and PS3 Aquanaut’s Holiday games floated in my brain all the way back home, lasting until I got an email with review codes. Then, it was time to take a trip back under the sea and dream out loud again.

 

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An incredibly beautiful, masterfully crafted and about as great as it gets game experience, ABZÛ soars to some impressive visual and aural heights as it takes you to deep places you’d never thought you’d go outside watching a nature program. You can call it a “spiritual successor” to thatgamecompany’s Journey if you like, but the single player focus and grander sense of scale makes this even more personal. This ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the “See”‘ has to me, a more grounded and pure emotional impact because of its blend of realism and fantastic elements grab you right from the start as the game takes you on a thrilling yet paradoxically mostly relaxing ride that changes in tone a few times before it ends.

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As with Journey, it’s also a game that’s just great to watch someone play. Controls are simple, fluid and intuitive enough for anyone that can hold a controller (or use a keyboard and mouse on PC) can hop in and fully enjoy the entire game from start to finish. The replay value is also more than there as this is one of those games where you can hop into a map and actually have your character meditate serenely as assorted sea life does its circle of life thing all around you.

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