Hungary-based Zen Studios, known for years worldwide for its solid Pinball FX series, is taking a little detour and it really looks as if you need to come along. The place they’re going may be temporarily sun-less, but it’s still quite stunning. Operencia: The Stolen Sun is out now on the Epic Games Store and Xbox One family of consoles and is coming on March 31, 2020 for Steam, GOG, PS4, and Switch and I’m betting it’ll be a welcome surprise to those who think the developer is all about recreating and enhancing some excellent classic to their own newer modern digital pinball tables.
Well, well… I guess I really need to play this game, too. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Chernobylite, a 3D scanned “science-fiction survival horror experience” from developer The Farm 51, who deserves some sort of award for exposing themselves to the probably still very irradiated location of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where some of the photo-realistic visuals and locations were derived from. I haven’t touched the Early Access build yet because I’m swamped with stuff to do and my backlog is somewhat long, but that sort of attention to detail makes me want to see what the heck this is all about from a few perspectives. If that trailer is doing its job on you, you can go pick up the Early Access version of the game either on Steam or gog.com.
I’ll shut up here and let you ogle more some screenshots and other media on the game’s official site, as I’m I’m the middle of a few reviews and today is extra busy for a Monday. This is also console bound at some point but as far as I can tell, it’s headed for PS4 and Xbox One only.
Hooooo, boy. Some people at Devolver Digital and very likely famed Japanese developer FromSoftware have quite the wry sense of humor. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is finally arriving for PS4, Xbox One, and PC (via gog.com and STEAM) for $24.99 on August 6, 2019 and I’ll let the more history-oriented types get the eye-pop on that date’s significance. Pre-orders are open now and each version has a nifty little bonus exclusive to them (which will frustrate some completist types, but so it goes).
Anyway, this remastered gem also seems to be a digital-only release, which is a shame for those who prefer physical over digital games. That said, although I still have my original modded Xbox as well as a Japanese Xbox and an import copy of the game, I’ll still be more than happy to jump on this updated version of the 2004 classic, which was (and still is) pretty outrageous as well as so intentionally jingoistic that some players who don’t get the humor on display may not get the joke. Then again, you can’t take at all seriously the premise of a mech-suited President of the United States of America taking on his rogue (and also mech-suited) Vice-President after a coup attempt leaves the country at war. Well a few places at war, actually.
Here’s the latest trailer:
While not without its minor flaws (which can be patched in future updates), Warhammer Chaosbane ($59.99) is a solid and worthy ARPG genre fans should absolutely take for a spin. EKO Studios has cooked up a pretty addictive game that, once you’re hooked into it, delivers exactly what it intends and does it well enough that some if its issues can be overlooked thanks to the core gameplay, which works even better in co-op if you’ve a few friends to play with.
As a solo experience, it’s also quite entertaining, with a sort of Dungeons & Dragons Heroes vibe (as in longish levels and plenty of tough foes to vanquish when you go it alone). Okay, so it’s more or less a Warhammer version of the original Diablo, but this ends up being an excellent thing overall thanks to ten difficulty levels that mean you’ll never get to say this game is too easy if you’re at all serious. With the extra modes (Expedition, Boss Rush, Relic Hunt) and the developer planning more free and paid content in the future including at least one additional chapter expansion pack and a load of bonuses, this one’s going to be an evergreen game for ARPG fans who want more of what it delivers.
I noted Diablo over Diablo III because to me, EKO seems to have wisely went back to the grimmer version of Blizzard’s classic over the more colorful (yet still quite grim) third installment. Despite the repetition in layouts and static level art, there’s a gritty, nasty vibe in the first two chapters that feature either gloomy sewer maps or a ravaged village packed with kill-crazy demons of a few varieties. The third chapter’s outdoor map, a forest area full of deadly creatures, almost looks too clean, but the somewhat linear library maps with their menacing vibe more than make up for that flaw. That said, the fourth chapter knocks it out of the park with what I’ll describe as the world’s richest kid’s brand-spanking *new* dungeon play set, Deluxe Version. in other words, I love this map, folks:
Where the other maps tend to have a static look to them despite a few destructible barrels and such, Here you get a sort of Castle Grayskull maze dungeon on steroids with stone, shiny metal of a few types and gracefully writhing tentacles all vying for attention with the fiercest enemies in the game outside the main bosses. Although the game ends up reusing one re-lit familiar setting for that final push to the end boss, that final fight is set in a wildly ornate (albeit tiny) arena where you’ll need to be fast and determined to take down a pretty dangerous foe (Protip: don’t die!).
Dying during a boss fight allows you to start from the beginning, which is a better alternative that quitting and replaying a map. Interestingly enough, on my first play, the game crashed during the last boss fight after I died twice, but when I fired up the game again, I was surprised that I was able to continue from the beginning of the battle with no penalty. The hilarious thing was I did beat the boss on that last try with a measly 12 HP left. I thought I was a goner as the boss was about to lay down a hit, but it died and I nearly died myself from thinking I’d made it that far only to have to try again.
I’m currently playing through the PS4 version of Warhammer: Chaosbane for review and yes indeed, developer EKO Studios and publisher Bigben Interactive have big plans for even more content for the upcoming ARPG in terms of free and paid additions. Check out the video above for the roadmap and go get your controllers warmed up for the game’s release date(s) of May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions (pre-purchasers get early access to the game) and June 4 for the Standard Edition.
Those who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane will be getting an early tasting when the game rolls out and beginning May 31st for PC and console pre-purchasers of the Magnus Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition, while others will need to hold out for the Standard Editions for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that will be available on June 4th, 2019. Those who played that beta will see that this story trailer slightly resembles the one each of the playable characters gets when their respective stories are started and this ties the overall experience together nicely, I’d say.
A week or so may not seem like a long time, but it sure is an eternity when you’re lurking in front of your mailbox for a physical copy or lurking around on a digital store for a pre-load to kick in. Go do something else if that’s your particular case, as the game won’t at all mind you getting distracted by stuff before it launches.
Way back in 2013, I recall going to a 505 Games press event to play Eko Software’s impressive How to Survive and noting to a PR rep that the developer needed to make an isometric RPG at some point because that game had all the makings of an instant classic despite the overdone zombie theme and copious survival elements. Two years and a new 505 press event later, I’m playing How to Survive 2 and noting to another rep that Eko really, really needed to do an iso RPG just to get it out of their system and how I’d love to see them do something original or even revive a more fantasy-themed game like a Champions of Norrath or some other similarly beefy (and long forgotten) IP.
Four years later and I’m playing through the closed beta version of Warhammer Chaosbane on my PS4 with a huge grin plastered on my face. Although it’s a beta, it’s a mighty fine one full of promise once the dev team adds and tweaks some elements.
In its current state, it’s certainly got some excellent visuals, gameplay that’s immediately fun and what’s looking to be a fairly lengthy campaign just based on looking at the overworld map in the second of two playable chapters. But a bit more polish in a few areas will help put this game into that rarefied air a certain few other isometric games are floating around in. One great thing about the beta is Eko’s willingness to take into account every bit of reasonable feedback from those who’ve pre-ordered the game and have sunk some time into the builds they’ve made available.
Excellent. After years of requests for a legitimate re-release, Blizzard and gog.com have teamed up to get the classic PC game Diablo out exclusively on the popular DRM-free digital platform for a measly $10. That tenner it costs gets you the original 1996 version as well as a separate build updated to run on Windows 7, 8, and 10 that includes “a host of bug fixes and high-resolution support via aspect ratio-correct upscaling”. While Mac and Linux versions are currently not available, I’d imagine someone clever will figure out a way to get those up and running for those fans who may want them. At this point, you won’t get that much-requested Hellfire expansion in this deal and I’d gather that will never be a thing to buy as that content wasn’t created by Blizzard
Blizzard and gog.com will also be getting both Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft 2 out as digital-only re-releases at some point in the near future. As for the still superb Diablo II? Well, there’s no news on an updated version at this time, but both can currently be purchased through Blizzard’s Battlenet online store. Personally, I’m hoping for this one to get the same treatment along with the Lord of Destruction expansion, as it’s pure hell trying to get them to run from the original discs without some mucking around with a bunch of config options. The last few times I played DII, I used the amazing Sven’s Glide Wrapper to make the game look better (as well as add a clock to the game screen so I could keep track of time, as DII is a total time-sink).
I still recall way back in 1996 when I walked into an Electronics Boutique to hunt down a few Sega Saturn games and saw a playable demo of Diablo with no one at the kiosk, stepping up to try the game and being floored by the dark tone and gloomy soundtrack. The game felt like a meaner, more complex version of Gauntlet that required a more methodical style of play and yep, I was hooked in. Even the less stellar PlayStation port was a thrill to play multiple times (and yes, I still have that here in the library). While Diablo II never got a console port, it sure would be very nice to see one appear for consoles in the not too distant future just so a bunch of us who want to check that off our wish lists can be giddy for a spell (even if there won’t be mods to mess with).
It’s Beta time for those of you who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane on PC and console, so those of you who’ve plunked down that deposit can dive right into the thick of things and let all hell break loose. That beta time only lasts until the 13th of March. so get busy betting busy on that, folks.
Set for launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 4th, 2019 for the Standard Edition and on May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions, the game looks to fuse Diablo-like action/RPG with the classic Warhammer setting and if that trailer is any indication, Bigben and developer EKO wll have a huge hit on their hands. It’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the still mighty Diablo III on consoles, but it’s safe to say that genre fans will be well served if all the pieces fall into place.
Now, this looks pretty entertaining and yes, it’s really good to see this legendary series tip its weathered cap to the speedier gameplay found in the Diablo series. Don’t get me wrong, though. I so love the tactical approach to both the Warhammer board games and PC/console games as well as most of the pure action games that have popped up in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Warhammer: Chaosbane feeds that need for my isometric games loving side and if the gameplay videos are any indication, it’ll also be a game that spends some quality time in my play list and perhaps even rise to the top if all it promises works as planned.
My brain says “SOLD!”, so this one’s added to the bucket list. Thank you, brain. Also, thank you EKO Studios and Bigben for making this a reality as the first ARPG in the franchise.