Review: The Park (PC)

THE PARK bannerPlatform: PC
Developer/Publisher: Funcom
MSRP: $9.99
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B (80%)

Although it’s set in The Secret World universe, no previous experience with that MMO is needed to get a jolt or two from The Park, Funcom’s short psychological horror adventure that’s both a nice looking and eventually haunting game experience. It’s not without flaws that make parts a lot less immersive than they should have been and as an experiment in storytelling it relies on too much inner dialogue from the main character that makes her sound more like a writer working on a short story in her head more than a worried parent. That said, if you’re in the right mood on the right dark night, the game will eventually get its creepy points across and right under your skin.

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When her child, Callum, goes missing during a trip to a shuttered amusement park with his single mother, Lorraine, she heads into the gloomy, deserted venue in order to track him down. That’s the simplistic way of telling the story without spoiling much because the game experience is actually fairly short, clocking in at about two hours if you take your time and do as much as possible. As Lorraine makes her way around the park calling out her son’s name, she ends up making the rounds of the few rides and attractions while talking to herself (internally and externally), finding newspaper clippings and other notes that detail the park’s not so safe past history. Continue reading

THE PARK: Fear Rides The Fairway in Funcom’s New Horror Quickie

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A trip to the amusement park really goes off the rails in Funcom’s new short first-person psychological horror experience, THE PARK, now available for PC on digital platforms Steam, Humble Store, NVIDIA GeForce Now Store, Green Man Gaming, and GamersGate for $9.99, a 23% savings on the game’s $12.99 MSRP. If you’re like me and thinking “Hey, doesn’t Funcom only make big-budget MMO experiences these days?” Well, you’re not 100% wrong there. And you’re not 100% correct, either. Funcom wants you to know they’re not all about those expensive to produce and addictive online time-sinks these days:

“Thanks to similar games in the narrative space, such as ‘Gone Home’, ‘Dear Esther’ and ‘The Stanley Parable’, we are confident that there is a place in the gaming industry for shorter, intense experiences,” says Funcom creative director Joel Bylos. “Technically, it explores the limits of what is possible for a team to achieve with a small budget, short deadline and a strong focus.”

 

Aha. Well, short and horrific seem to be selling well these days, Funcom does have the talent to make it work and hey, at ten bucks… that’s less than a movie ticket and you don’t just get to sit there and get scared while choking on your popcorn. THE PARK seems like a game that while brief, is going to get people talking. Or in this era of social video site streaming, sitting down in front of their monitors watching someone play and freak out. Hmmmm. You can probably have someone feed you popcorn while you play this one. Just don’t be surprised at all if that a piece of that slimy “buttered” junk ends up shoved into a nostril at some point because Fatima peeled out of the room in fear an stuck that corn in the first orifice he or she could reach.

Sometimes, it’s best to experience certain types of horror alone. Or at least after you have your popcorn.

Heroes of a Broken Land Hands-On: No School Like The Old School (Again)…

Heroes_1The ONLY reason I didn’t slap down that fifteen bucks for Heroes of a Broken Land right away after I saw that trailer the other day was there was a demo to try out and I love demos. Needless to say, it got downloaded and played for a bit and yes indeed, the game is quite fantastic on a few levels. For starters, it looks and plays exactly like a hybrid of Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and one of those great Dreamforge RPGs with dashes of Wizardry and even a little Heroes of Might and Magic tossed into the pot for good measure. If all those names and titles baffle you and you’re looking at that trailer and thinking “But it’s so ugly!”, feel free to turn right around and point your body towards the door (a little more to the left… Okay!), then lean forward slightly so my foot lands in the right spot. *Boot!*

Everyone else, there’s a fresh kettle on and tea cups a plenty in the kitchen. Oh, and some cookies are on the counter… Continue reading

Heroes of a Broken Land: This Throwback RPG Is Quite A Keeper…

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Hey, Winged Pixel? You just made my too-snowy Tuesday a great deal more tolerable. Heroes of a Broken Land is a classic style role playing game with a lovely Dungeon Master/Eye of the Beholder/Wizardry vibe (and a few other classics), procedurally generated maps, a hex-based over world map just to get me tingly and even some simulation aspects as you restore fragmented landscapes to their original forms.

That demo is calling me even as we speak, so it’s off to download and give this one a try. The full version of the game is also available for a mere $14.99 from the Winged Pixel site, Desura, or Gamersgate and if it gets voted in through the Greenlight program, expect this to also land on Steam at some point. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some dungeons to delve into…

Review: Driftmoon

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driftmoon_boxshot2Platform: PC

Developer: Instant Kingdom (Ville/Anne Mönkkönen)

Publisher: Instant Kingdom

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: N/A

Official Site

Score: A (95%)

Do you own a decent cap or hat, dear reader? If you do, go get it now, put it on and tip that cap or hat in the general direction of Finland (Jyväskylä, to be a bit more precise). If you don’t have a good cap or hat, what’s wrong with you? It’s cold outside! Anyway, what’s with all the polite haberdashery tilting? Well, dear reader, it’s a hats off to Ville and Anne Mönkkönen for the seven years of work that went into one of the best games of this year. Driftmoon is an instant classic you’ll want to dive into and explore at your own pace just to experience great game design in action. Solid writing, great visuals and the excellent hybrid adventure/RPG/puzzle gameplay make a visit to Driftmoon well worth the price. As great as the game is, the included easy to use editor gives this one endless possibilities for users to craft their own potential classics…

Continue reading

DreamCatcher Reveals Arcania – Gothic 4 Demo Date + Pre-Order PC Version Discounts


Well alright – I've been waiting for news on a Gothic 4 demo and here it is. Two hour PC and Xbox 360 trial versions will launch on September 24 in advance of the game's October 12, 2010 release date. Between the incredible looking Arcania and a certain other European-style RPG (Two Worlds II), I'm going to be in RPG nirvana. The Gothic series has always been great for plenty of challenging open-world thrills and quests galore (and hell, I liked the original Two Worlds, warts and all).

Anyway, press release and links below – click away!

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