Super Capsule Reviews: Are GO (Part 2)

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Well… try not to get hit (too much).

The ever long debate I see over indie games being “as good as” or “better than” AAA content is a bit silly because at the end of the day, both types of games are welcome and necessary for a few reasons some folks would figure out rather quickly if they kind of shut up and played stuff more than they do rolling around in the internet alley fighting about. Me, I just love seeing what a dev team (or single developer in some cases) can whip up because hell, playing a well-made game created with passion that can be seen on screen is a good way to get anyone who loves a wide range of visual and gameplay styles to go spend some of that hard-earned cash on some really fun titles like the ones below.

Xenon Valkyrie+ PS4Xenon Valkyrie+ (PS4/PS Vita Cross-Buy, $9.99): Fabrice Breton (dba COWCAT) has worked on some pretty hardcore pixel art game ports that provide a hefty amount of challenge for the money. Xenon Valkyrie, originally created by Daniel Fernandez Chavez and published by Diabolical Minds for PC, was improved and ported to consoles by Breton, is dripping with retro charm and packs in a mix of rogue-like, light role-playing, platforming, and fast-paced combat action that’s somewhat addictive even after multiple deaths. Part of the thrill comes from surviving the levels and their randomness, part comes from earning new gear as you go and using it to beat maps that seem impossible and impassable until you get that gear.

The cool thing here is you learn as you go what works and what doesn’t and runs will be, thanks to the randomness, a mix of small and large victories against enemies and the destructible maps. You’ll be using every skill and tool in a growing arsenal here, and the way each character plays will make some areas tricky to complete, but you’ll get better with skill and practice. There’s a lot of game here if it hooks you in and you don’t mind the learning process. As with the COWCAT ported game below, there’s some serious replay value here if you’re brave and willing.

Score: B (80%)

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Review: Remothered: Tortured Fathers (Switch)

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Rosemary needs a rear view mirror, good running shoes, and a portable air tank, too.

remothered switchWhile it’s been out a few months, I held off on my review of Remothered: Tortured Fathers on Nintendo’s console because it had some major issues and I decided to hold out for a patch, of which there have been two released. I’d initially played though the most of the unpatched version, but the game had some awful visual, gameplay and interface issues that made it quite a test of endurance, particularly in docked mode where visually, it was sub-par to the point of looking like an early PS2 port in some areas where detail took some major performance hits. It was still a scary as hell game experience, mind you. But things were definitely in need of fixing and nope, playing undocked didn’t help much either.

Fortunately, Darril Arts and Stormind Games got this some much-needed love on the patch front, as a number of visual and lighting improvements, UI tweaks, and more now make it a lot more palatable. There are still a few smaller issues, but the game is certainly now well worth your time if you’re re a fan of its uncompromising psychological horror. You play as Rosemary Reed, who’s investigating the mysterious disappearance of a young girl some years earlier. Initially, she makes her way into the gloomy Felton mansion, but after a brief time poking around, she’s kicked out when things aren’t as they seem on her front (no spoilers here, but watch the trailer). When she sneaks back inside, she continues her investigation and finds… well, let’s just say, a lot more horror that she’s anticipating, a whole lot more madness on display and plenty of “holy $#!+” surprises. Well, as if having a near naked, apron clad madman coming after her isn’t frightening and surprising enough.

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Review: Construction Simulator 2 US – Console Edition (Switch)

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It I could name my trucks here, I might go with Tonka, Tootsie, and Dinky…

cs2 switchI’d been sleeping on these assorted Simulator games for a while because they take quite a while to play, but thanks to a friend asking about them (he’s getting his kid a Switch and happens to be in the construction field). I finally took the plunge and can report that yes, hours will go by with a well-done sim like this. Astragon’s got a solid game in Construction Simulator 2 on Switch ($19.99), and while it’s a highly complex game that requires quite a bit of precision and patience to play, parents into this sort of game might find it educational if their kid is say, about 12 and wants to get into the business at some point in the future.

That said, the game is pretty daunting even for adults even though it has a wealth of tutorials and tips to get players up and starting a little (and soon to be rather large) construction business. You’ll need to constantly make sure whatever equipment you buy or rent is in the PRECISE position when operating on a job or errors will be made and learning where and the game covers so much ground (ha-ha) that you’ll be working up a real sweat from the level of difficulty as you learn a lot in the process. The game is no joke when it comes to the simulation elements, especially with all the settings up.

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You better know how to use that, pal…

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Review: Spaceland (Switch)

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Dang dry ice everywhere, hiding those aliens! Grrrr…

Spaceland SwitchTortuga Team and Ellada Games’ great little turn-based strategy game Spaceland ($14.99) wants you to play it a few times, so I’ve been very good in my obliging it. The game’s quick 15 minute or less levels (you can take longer if you need to) seem as if they’d be one and done affairs unless you’re trying to unlock all it has to offer. It’s at that point when you see they’re not. Yes, you’ll soon discover that your far too under-powered to do so in some cases and you’ll need to pop back in at some point with better gear and help when you get a few more members on your team (and when the game allows them into certain maps).

I haven’t yet played the fantasy/RPG themed turn-based strategy Braveland Trilogy games from the developer, so I can’t make comparisons other than to say those games were 2D and sprite-based where Spaceland goes for a clean polygon look and slicker animated style. There are also puzzle-like elements here where the game requires completing levels in as few turns as possible, something that takes a few attempts and yes, often missing bonuses in favor of fast and flawless runs. Oh, you’ll be back if you like what’s here, trust me.

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Review: Narcos: Rise of the Cartels (PS4)

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As long as the enemy doesn’t look up to read that word, he’ll be fine…

NARCOSIf you told me a game about a violent but long deceased Colombian drug lord could be a pretty well done turn-based strategy game in 2019, I’d have said that you were on something. I’m sure the late drug lord (in his previously bullet-free state) would also be smirking as well before setting you up for a nice tire necklace fitting for suggesting such a thing. Then again, publicity being what it is these days, he might be even crowdfunding his own game like this if he were still alive, now that I think about it. “¿Qué? Estás loco … pero eso me gusta.” or something like that (but with a lot more colorful and a lot less rusty use of the language).

So, here we have Narcos: Rise of the Cartels ($29.99), from Kuju Games and publisher Curve Digital, a game I knew I’d like as soon as I realized it was a much more polished version of the now forgotten Falling Skies: The Game, which itself borrows its best parts from the XCOM reboot from a few years ago. While it has that entry level thing going for it, the game checks a few boxes on its way to being a solid buy if you like the genre. The more gritty trash-filled and alien free realistically rendered maps help a lot here in delivering the goods, and while turn-based, the combat can often be tense, especially when surprise enemies appear and you’re outflanked.

Yes, the AI is sometimes careless, at least in that it has foes that may put themselves in harm’s way (I consider those cases where a you’d see a real life reckless thug [or reckless DEA agent on the flip side] let out a yell and bum rushes someone), but the game is quite addictive once you get the combat and tactical stuff down. For those who wanted a boring GTA clone, the game might be surprising to play with its M-rated language, blood. permadeath, and high body count, but it’s hard to guess other than to suggest those folks give this a try and see what happens.

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WRC 8 On Switch? Well, I’m Going to Need To Take It For A Spin, Then

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Time to make the Switch!

WRC_8 SwitchI’m so backlogged that I haven’t even gotten to requesting the PS4 version yet (oops!), but hearing that KT Racing and Bigben Interactive’s WRC 8 has come to Nintendo’s tiny powerhouse that could REALLY has me intrigued, especially with so many realistic racers and racers with licensed cars now popping up on the console. I remember when the Wii U got ONE licensed racer and how it was good enough, but too little, too late for that console. On the Switch, it’s as if they’re popping up like dandelions and mushrooms after a rainfall. This is good, for the most part, I say.

Now, I’m not expecting the game to look EXACTLY like the other versions, but I like the sport and have played and own too many rally games on older platforms to judge it as anything but how it plays at the end of the day (old, old article here if you want a read from too many years back). I definitely like that the Switch version is portable, so that’s a plus. If the game can capture the simulation aspect well, perfect visuals will be the last thing I’m going to consider.  The Switch version is out NOW. if you’d like to hop aboard for a test drive and are a like-minded fan. With 50 teams, 14 rallies and over 100 special stages in the 2019 season, I think I’ll be happy for a long time if all is well.

-GW

Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris Gets A Wonderfully Depressing New Trailer

 

Geez. Take my time and money, already department, deluxe edition: Teamkill Media’s upcoming game, Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris makes Demon’s Souls classic and mighty downbeat intro seem as if it’s unicorns and rainbows, but with a bit more winning on the part of of the lead here. I like it for that. That said, it’s hard to get a gauge on enemy difficulty in the newer game, as some enemies seem to go down too fast. Then again, this is likely the developer wisely hiding the challenge level until the masses get their hands around a controller when the PC version is released on November 22 2019.

This almost looks too frightening to finish (and no, that fantastically dour music isn’t helping one bit). If that’s going to be the aural force that’s coming, the already mind-blowing visuals will have some stiff competition as far as what’s going to keep me freaked out the most. I can’t wait, but I also want to see how the console versions stack up (PS4 is my preferred way to play, thank you).  Oh, here’s the earlier E3 trailer (in case you haven’t seen it yet). Go wishlist this now… or it’s coming to get you.

-GW

Games I Need to Play 3: The Beast Inside

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I’ll admit at first I thought it was a game about the wonderfully awful movie The Beast Within until I saw screenshots.

Well, what have we here? A photo-realistic horror themed mystery/adventure game that’s got a strange, sort of time travel thing going for it along with some amazing visuals and a lot of falling off stuff, for good measure. Oh, and it’s coming to PS4 and Xbox One at some point, which is good, as I hate upgrading my PC so frequently to play these games. Here’s a gallery and one of many trailers. You can see more on the Steam page where yes, you can buy the game and/or try the demo out.

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Developer Illusion Ray Studio and publisher Movie Games have quite the pair of fitting names, no? I’ve downloaded the demo, but haven’t gotten to try it yet thanks to a review backlog I’m sifting through, but this one will get some playtime soon, as it certainly had my attention as soon as I heard of it and looked it up. Here’s a look at a trailer (it’s all gameplay footage, too):

Alright, then. I guess I’ll get to that demo sooner or later (well, before the game hits consoles, at least).

-GW

Review: SEGA AGES Columns II: A Voyage Through Time (Switch)

Columns II artHoo boy, I’d forgotten how very hard the Columns series of games can be. But yes indeed, this port of Columns II: A Voyage Through Time ($7.99) from the SEGA AGES lineup comes highly recommended if you want a match-3 game that’s constantly entertaining while you get used to the ropes. Also included in this solid M2 port is a a Mega Drive/Genesis port of the original Columns, so you can get schooled by the AI in two games. The coolest thing about the sequel is M2 has wisely added a tabletop mode feature where the co-op play switches Player 2’s screen 180 degrees for face-to-face battles, quite a nice thing to see as an addition.

The game lures you in with some gorgeous art (a bit of lovely Mucha-like imagery for the senses is the first thing that greets you), but even at the easiest setting the game will beat you like an angry drummer or a polite Gene Krupa doing a rapid fire solo. Nevertheless, when the pace gets speedier you’ll be beaten like an egg here as you learn to play. This turns out to be a good thing, as the only means of seeing more here is by getting better. It’s funny that I’m using “git gud” for the second time this week, but like the last time, it fits the case. It’s a game that masters will appreciate, but those who haven’t the skills down will find themselves going to until (and past) the ending. Like it should be, coming back to the game that was giving you grief to one where you’re seeing how the AI responds to a better player doesn’t ever get old.

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Uh-oh, unless you can clear some gems out…

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Review: One Night Stand (PS4)

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“Back up for a sec. I did WHAT last night?”

ONS_boxShort and simple on the surface, Kinmoku and ever busy port-house and publisher Ratalaika Games present a nifty little surprise in the form of One Night Stand, ($4.99) a game practically guaranteed to tee some prudish or easily triggered folks off (such as those expecting the usual trophy hunt from the publisher. Oh, they’re here, but it they come with a bit of baggage some can’t or won’t handle). This one’s a “slice of life” game, a visual novel where the person you’re playing wakes up in bed with a girl he met the night before and has (well, it’s an option here, but who doesn’t like a mystery?) to put the pieces together as he attempts to find out a few things about her.

Yeah, yeah. “Ooh, cooties” and all that dopey nonsense some will chime like broken bells as they whine about this game being the end of the world or bottom of the barrel or whatever. But it’s actually a pretty decent experience overall if you free yourself from any prejudices you may have Like it or not, some people in the real world sleep with each other and they’re not married and pumping out children. You can say this game is a sort of representational reality in a way of some (DEFINITELY not all) of the effects.

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Yeah, Let me choose (carefully, now!)…

Granted, waking up next to a total stranger is quite a change of pace (and how!) from this publisher of budget games, but it’s a risk that pays off big in little ways. As noted, the game is short (about 10 to 15 minutes per outcome), but replaying the scenario you get will extend the story across a few branches and yes, get you those trophies you’re after. As I like to note in my reviews of these games, Trophies are the last thing I think about and games like this are excellent ways to shake thing up.

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