Soul Searching: Going Native (With Dragons on the Side)

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Make mine a double, please…

In the load of stuff I need to get to in this current crazy time, review code for a little game called Soul Searching popped up in the inbox a while back and you can say I’m intrigued by the project enough to move things around and play for a bit. I’ll get to the main story mode later in this post, but let’s talk minigames for a bit. There are seven ‘Short Stories’ as the game calls them, and they can be accessed from the menu and played in any order you like. but the game will run them consecutively if you start from the first one and complete each minigame.

Publisher nakana.io has released a few unique titles so far where its different developers’ personalities are on full display in each work, so there’s a lot going on in each game, from the art styles to the approaches to gameplay. Soul Searching is brim full of weirdness as the simple pixel-heavy art in the main game gives way to some rather intense slices of mind from its developer in minigames that feature assorted visual styles ranging from simple childlike scrawls to vector graphics and crude polygonal characters. In those brief segments, you almost get a sense that indie developer Kayabros (Talha Kaya) is working through some of life’s problems and you’re along for the ride for better or worse.

(Thanks, Nakana Games!)

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Review: Demon’s Tier (PS4/Vita)

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Instructions for real life, as well.

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Nostalgic is the good word here.

The latest pairing from COWCAT and Diabolical Mind, Demon’s Tier+ ($9.99, buy it!) is an excellent example of a really good game that got much better with a slew of quality of life improvements. While the game follows a clear Gauntlet meets Diablo style of play, a strict time limit and intense difficulty combined with randomly generated levels make for quite the thrilling, replayable ride.

This isn’t a simple “one and done” trophy hunt at all. Rather, the game is an equal to Diabolical Minds’ other retro-inspired pixel-packed releases, Riddled Corpses EX and Xenon Valkyrie+, two other solo or  two player co-op team-ups worth a look. It almost feels like the developer has captured a trio of long lost late 80’s arcade machines in these three titles, all of which demand practice and patience to master, just like the old days.

Story:

Thosgar, a hated king attracted by demonic rituals, turned into a dark and diabolical being… destroying almost all of humanity and flooding the world with monsters. This story became a legend and peace returned to the land.

A thousand years later, a mysterious pit appears in a village after a huge earthquake where an evil aura emanates from…

Will you be the hero to save this world?

Don’t you hate it when that happens? Well, good. Grab your PS4 controller or Vita, and let’s send those demons back to where they came from, pronto.

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Pathfinder: Kingmaker on Consoles – Everything and The Kitchen Sink, Plus

((Thanks, Deep Silver!)

If you’re a PS$ or Xbox owner into deep and somewhat complex role-playing games with a bit of town building on the side, but haven’t yet tried Owlcat’s Pathfinder: Kingmaker in its PC form yet, well you’re in luck. Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is coming from publisher Deep Silver on August 18, 2020. Packing in all six DLC and a new optional turn-based mode that makes the game feel more like the tabletop version, this looks like it’ll keep some of us indoors even longer (which might be a good thing). PC players on STEAM and GOG will be getting that turn-based update as well as a free download in case they want to give the game’s real-time pause-based play a rest for a spell.

A bit of brief official news below the jump. Read on.

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Presents of Mind

So, it was my birthday last month, but I don’t celebrate it these days like “normal” people do. I tend to just wake up and be thrilled to be breathing, move on and let a new year pass hopefully without any bad stuff occurring. Cake is optional these days (Hey, diet? You doing OK?). I also don’t do presents unless I get surprised with one, but this year, I decided to pick up a few things for myself with a bit of extra money I had left over. A little retail therapy, if you like. It’s been quite a year or few years, is all I’ll say about that. Anyway, here’s a small list of what I got myself:

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“I can stop anytime I want to…”

I wanted to cut back on the caffeine and someone suggested trying mixing chicory with coffee, so I went with Community’s 100% chicory, as I have a few large canisters of coffee here and I like experimenting when I get the chance to do so. Finding the correct mixture for my tastes was an interesting thing as well, but I did try a pot of pure chicory first but found it a bit too strong. Well, that was my fault, but it did remind me of some of my first attempts to make coffee some decades back where one person liked it and another had her eyeballs practically leave her skull. Let’s just say I got a lot better at the making coffee thing since then.

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Review: TT Isle of Man – Ride On the Edge 2 (Switch)

tt-isle-of-man-ride-on-the-edge-2-switch-description-charKT Racing has clearly put a Kylotonn of work into bringing TT Isle of Man – Ride On the Edge 2  ($59.99) to the Nintendo Switch and it’s truly an impressive effort on the hybrid console. The developer has recreated the recent PC and console experience perfectly in terms of complete content on the Switch with a few very obvious concessions to the lower-powered hardware. On Switch, there’s a tiny bit of texture draw-in plus some low resolution textures such as bike shadows, some of the signage, plus logos on your rider’s gear, which can all be a bit fuzzy in static shots. Despite these flaws and some long loading times, the game completely soars when in motion, particularly in docked mode. In handheld mode, the game is fine, but as a simulation that requires zen-like focus (there’s no in-race music for a reason!), every little detail needs to be seen at the best resolution available.

Where TT2 impresses constantly is in the excellent bike detail and its thrilling overall sense of speed thanks to excellent visual representation in the various camera modes and some tremendous sound design. The sheer intensity when you get to flying down a course and don’t go flying off your bike is nothing but a pure adrenaline rush, and the game will make you appreciate the art of the learning process. That said, it feels like a bit of understeer is in play on corners and you’ll crash a lot as a beginner and a great deal less (or not at all when you get better) as you get accustomed to the controls, which can by fully customized and come in a few styles from amateur to professional. Got a first or third party Switch compatible controller with a Rumble feature? DO please use that over the handheld’s Joy-Cons. The game goes from trickier to control and a bit too shaky to one where analog controls make things more manageable. The game is playable with Joy-Cons, mind you – it’s just more difficult if you stick to the standard control scheme and/or if you have the dreaded left Joy-Con drift issues some users have experienced with the handheld.

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HUNTDOWN: It’s Been A Long Time Coming, But It’s Been Worth The Wait

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Here comes trouble, and there goes your free time!

Way back in 2016, I saw a trailer for a wild little 2D game from an independent developer and I was pretty excited because it captured a few nostalgic vibes from both some older games and plenty of crazy action flicks:

(Thanks, Easy Trigger!)

Skip ahead to the next year, and the game went through some changes that made it look even better. I was able to sign up and test out an in-progress version on Steam, and it was pretty great even though some parts were in need of a little refining (as any work in progress would – a demo of a game is NOT a full game experience). Even with the parts that needed work, what was there was such a huge improvement that it was clearer this was going to be even more amazing when it was completed:

(Thanks, Coffee Stain!)

Now (well, tomorrow), the final game is ready for its closeup and wow, does it look too nuts or what? “Hold on to your butts!”, as the saying goes:

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State(s) of Emergency

 Ah, memories…

Since 2002, whenever I read or hear the words ‘State of Emergency’, my brain automatically triggers a little earworm of a title tune from the game of the same name released back then. It can’t be helped either, and goodness knows, I’ve tried hard not to get this song starting up in my head when those words come into eye or ear reach (I guess this video may trigger some out there? Or at least get them a case of earworms):

(Thanks, PAL!)

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Timely, I guess?

Back at that time, I worked in a small independent game shop here in NYC and that game was one we ran as a demo for a few weeks on and off.That attract mode is what, two minutes and nine seconds long? Imagine what that does to one if you’re watching that intro a few hours a day. Would anyone like a slice of baked earworm? It’s quite tasty and there’s more than enough to go around.

Rockstar Games (which was about a 10-15 minute walk away from the store) was coming off a rather massive 2001 with the release of DMA Designs’ popular and controversial multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto 3 and many gamers were expecting State of Emergency (and there goes that tune again in my head) to be the next big thing from the studio. It both was and wasn’t, but an explanation is in order here. By the way,  I liked the game overall, warts and all.

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Pathologic 2 Comes To PS4: The Only Time “Going Viral” Is A Good Thing

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Grim, the understatement of GIF explanations.

I still haven’t played Ice-Pick Lodge’s rather unsettling survival horror game Pathologic 2 other than a demo from a few years back, but I want to eventually. The first game was quite good, but woefully depressing as its three playable characters each with their own aims, tried to figure out the dealing with the deadly plague that had taken over a small town with only 12 days to find some sort of resolution. That the game initially came out in 2005 makes it suddenly timely in some respects, but if you’re going to go pick it up on PC, don’t expect to be much of a “feel good” experience.

The stylized visuals and very methodical gameplay featured a mechanic where quests disappeared once a day was complete, so fast work was required in some areas lest a character integral to the overall plot expire. The interesting thing was it seemed impossible to do everything that was tasked, so the replay value was in maximizing one’s efforts and trying the figure the most efficient means to work through problems that arose. The tensions that arose from doing certain tasks while the Sand Plague crept inexorably forward made the game compelling, especially when one didn’t use any walkthroughs and took each day as a challenging survival puzzle of sorts.

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INFINI: Pardonnez mon français, mais ce jeu est bizarre (et doit être joué!)

Barnaque_LOGO-Nouveau2017MiniWell, to be honest, my French is perfectly awful, but Montreal-based art team/development studio Barnaque has me completely intrigued with its new title, so It’s making me feel inspired enough to drag out the Google Translate language mangler thing. INFINI, set to release on PC for Steam and itch.io March 4, and on Switch a bit later this year. Here’s a video and screenshots along with a description of the game from the developers, David Martin and Émeric Morin:

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Langrisser I & II: Return Of The Kings

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Standard Edition, If you like…

When I heard Langrisser I & II were coming to PlayStation 4Switch and PC on March 10 courtesy of the fine folks at developer extreme and Chara-ani Corporation thanks to US publisher NISA, let’s just say that was a good day indeed.  I still own my originally purchased new copies of Warsong and the two Sega Mega Drive Langrisser imports (see below), and from playing the demo versions last night, it’s as if I went back in time and then forward, thanks to the game’s wise inclusion of old and new art styles.

Playing the new game bought back many old memories and we’re looking at a massive campaign, restored to its roots and many hours (and endings) to be discovered. I had to play the second game partially from some hefty notes and magazine clippings I got from a friend in Japan, but I know I missed a lot of story as the paths I got weren’t fully translated in the notes. So this time out, I’m preparing for this much bigger game now in English.

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