Review: NeverEnd (PS Vita)

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Indie developer/publisher Sometimes You also ports and distributes some interestingly nostalgic budget indie games for PC and consoles that aren’t perfect, but provide a bit of fun and challenge at a decent price point. Developed by Duck Devs, NeverEnd is a decent, simple looking top-down rogue-like/lite 3D pixel single player dungeon crawler (say that three times fast!) that’s influenced a tiny bit by The Legend of Zelda (without the overworld sections) with a tricky combat system that relies not only on weapon usage, but blocking and avoiding enemy attacks. While controls seem initially very clunky and off-putting, once you get the game’s mechanics and can deal with permadeath, things get much better. Granted, the game probably won’t win a ton of industry awards come the end of the year, but for $2.99 you’re getting your money’s worth and then some.

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Review: The Solus Project (PS4)

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Survival/Crafting games are a dime a dozen these days (or cheaper if you poke around at PC game bundle sites, heh), but a game like Teotl Studios and Grip Games’ The Solus Project manages to rise above the digital ton of games that are less “survival” oriented and more about scampering around shooting at assorted organic life with food and water meters acting like gas and oil tanks in an arcade racing game.

What’s here is a also a fine sci-fi adventure game where the environment on planet Gliese-6143-C is possibly your worst enemy, but other things can also do you in if you’re careless in your roaming. Interestingly enough, the game later dips a toe (okay, its entire being) into horror elements and the unsettling sense of dread the early exploration brings turns into moments where you might be too freaked out to take another step. That the game slides through a few genres along the way ends up being a nice touch because it’s completely unexpected.

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Raiders of the Broken Planet Beta Hands-On

season1_big-2I’ll admit straight off that I’ve been a big geek for MercurySteam‘s games ever since I got a review copy of American McGee Presents: Scrapland way back in 2005. Their attention for detail grabbed my eye and I’ve followed each game they’re released always looking forwards to what the team can cook up. Currently, they’ve two big games out or on the way, Metroid: Samus Returns (Nintendo 3DS) and Raiders of the Broken Planet, currently in beta on PC, PS4 and Xbox One with a release date set for its first of  four campaigns September 22.

As I’d been slowly killing off my MMO/online gaming phase (not enough time, too many me-too game, no way to enjoy them offline), I initially planned to ignore this one until I found out it had a solo campaign mode as well as a unique “4 vs 1 counter-operative campaign” that lets you play both sides of the conflict if you so choose or team up with friends to tackle some challenging missions against really pesky AI opponents. While the beta had a few matchmaking issues online (hey, it happens!), the gameplay is quite fun and very challenging in terms of solo play.

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Review: MAIZE (PS4)

Maize_PS4As a big fan of offbeat games and bizarre humor, Finish Line Games’ first-person 2016 adventure MAIZE was one of those instant must-play titles based on the concept alone. Well okay, I didn’t get to it until it hit PS4 this past week, but it was worth the wait. Sentient (mostly) British-accented corn created by a pair of not right in the head scientists, a cranky Russian-accented talking teddy bear and a silent protagonist out to figure out what’s going on? What’s not to love?

Of course, if you’re going into this game expecting something action-heavy with bouncy platforming and happy tunes to hum along to as you’re bouncing, you’re in the wrong game and should leave immediately before Vladdy finds out. He’ll just call you mean names and not let up until you split. That, and all the corn will ignore you and run off for a nap while you sit there looking for a “Jump” button. Everyone else, listen to Miss Davis below as you line up, single file for what’s to come:

(Thanks, SentimentalSentient!)

That, by the way is both good (the game is a hoot) and not good (some technical issues), but we’ll discuss that below. Huddle!

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Review: Defenders of Ekron (PS4)

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Like your games of the semi-arcade space shooter variety with assorted adventure elements mixed in to shake things up? Want something that’s pretty cool but tough to play for a nice price? Well, step right up and snag a copy of Defenders of Ekron, currently available on PS4 and PC.

If you’re one of those gamers who won’t keep silent about some games being “too casual” these days, get ready for one that’s ready to get you jumping up and down on your controller if you’re that type of person. Well, PS4 controllers aren’t cheap, so maybe get one of these and keep it handy. Granted, the challenge is a welcome one overall if you’re willing to jump in and explore.

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Mixing single player twin stick “bullet hell” shooting with a top-down view, gear upgrades and a few different styles of play is what keeps the game fresh. Chilean developer In Vitro Games has cooked up a pretty cool sleeper that’s well worth the price point.  Somewhat like DOGOS and to some extent, the top-down levels in Thunder Force II, the ability to explore areas at will makes for a nice change of pace. Add in puzzle-themed missions, some great boss battles and a ton of other surprises and you get a game that’s pretty deep overall.

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Review: Perception (PS4)

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Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

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Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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Bevontule Update: Going Greenlight (With Some Help From You)

So, yep. Bevontule is still going strong as a work in progress and as you can see above, looking even better than before. Thanks to feedback on the multiple demo builds they’ve posted for about a year as well as a wealth of general improvements made over time, Multithreaded Games LLC (or the dynamic duo of Derek Bradley and Andy Fenton) is on target to make quite a memorable first game certain to garner a loyal fan base. Nitpick time! If you want to get really picky, calling it a “JRPG” is a *tiny* bit misleading. Both Derek and Andy hail from Portsmouth, Ohio here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Still, as the game does take some of its inspiration from a few classic turn-based strategy JRPGs, I’ll gracefully let them slide on that. The new typeface, even more polished visuals and what’s so far tighter gameplay makes this one a game to keep an eye on and hope it gets enough attention to get ported to consoles at some point.

(Cue Derek and Andy screaming in unison and calling up a local hit man to get me for wishing port work on them before the PC version of game is actually completed… Heh, sorry, guys!)

What’s clear about the outstanding visuals (that draw distance is amazing, isn’t it?) is the boys know how to make the Unity engine sing. Of course, the usual “Unity sucks!” naysayers will never be convinced, but I think Multithreaded isn’t listening to those know-littles (none of whom knows how to make a game, I’d wager). One of the more amusing things about the game going Greenlight is the comments section on the Greenlight page.  It would seem (in proper internet commentary fashion) that SOME so-called gamers don’t even know the game has not one, not two, not three, not four… but FIVE different demo builds to try out, all from different periods in development and all worth a play. You’d think someone would go as far as to post those links in something like a blog post so people can take the older builds for a spin, but noooooo… (heh).

Oh, that video above is me sneaking up on some hapless cranky Steam user on the way home to NOT play a game, but negatively comment on games they’ll never play because they’d rather be THAT guy stinking up an otherwise decent community with stinky s#!tposting galore. What happens next? Well… you’ve got those links above, correct? Go find out, you (all those builds are FREE, by the way!). Bevontule isn’t due until sometime in 2018, so you have PLENTY of time to see what’s what. That said, go vote it up on Greenlight while you’re waiting, please.

 

-GW

PC Review: Yooka-Laylee

While playing Yooka-Laylee,
the words, they kinda fail me
it all feels so nineteen-ninety nine.

That’s really not a bad thing
Fact: parts of it indeed sing
But others have me screaming half the time.

The camera’s got the jitters
This game’s not made for quitters
But still, it takes some patience to align.

The game world’s quite expansive
with infinite life chances
But tumbling off those ledges? Not sublime.

To give Playtonic their due
when stuff works well, it feels true
and older fans will find a lot of shine.

But games have come a long way
Those mascots, they’ve had their day
And newer work has fixed what was a “crime.”

The old school’s kinda backwards
One time it won most placards
But now, it’s seen more classical than prime.

The Ratchets, Slys, and others
Are the more modern druthers
So, is this vintage style worth your dime?

Provided you mind its quirks
You’ll find quite a few good perks
Collectibles galore? Tough to decline!

Those flaws, the dev can fix them
And make this game a true gem
bringing those bugs to heel as benign.

For Rare fans reminiscing
There’s fun here, but lots missing
But there’s no need to yell a lot or whine.

Whether pre-bought or now still sold
I’d say bad reviews will seem old
But only if the update redesigns!

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The Other 99 Returns: Killing Time Gets A Few Good Tweaks

 

It’s baaaaack… Thanks to input from its Early Access player base and critics, UK developer Burning Arrow has been hard at work fixing up its survival game The Other 99 with a number of big changes to the formula and a brand new opening that reveals a bit more about how your character ended up on that deadly island:

Corrections and improvements include :

– New Starting Area.

– Massively reworked Balancing.

– Better interaction for survival with the world (e.g. now you can drink water from rivers, etc..).

– Rework of the Survival Guide (Hunger & Thirst related).

– Overhauled the island with new props populating the environment.

– Rework of the combat.

Hmmm. It looks as if I’ll be diving back into this at some point soon, as those improvements were needed and publisher Deck 13 has been great at keeping me posted on these updates. My poor backlog is killing me, but this one is getting pushed up a few notches because it’s got some decent replay value going for it.

-GW

Oh, Deer! In the Headlights, Sideways, Somewhat Allegorically

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Oh, Deer! is apt enough and more than fast enough for these testy times that I can recommend it even though I’ve yet to actually play it. Scoreless swerving past or through lines of poor digital deer is an odd metaphor for the daily careening many of us do while glued to a news source, real or “alternative facts” based, eyes wider than usual. While this may not seem all that deep, developer Necrosoft Games is proudly stating this is indeed a beta that will end up as a more fully polished product. Initially released as a 49-cent PlayStation Mobile game (I missed it on the Vita? Noooooo!), it got bumped up to subscription-only freebie beta build for Humble Monthly subscribers where it caught fire and careened into a game a lot of folks want to see get completed.

So, yeah. Get this if you’re cracking up or something. Amusingly priced at an apocalyptic $6.66, that entry fee also gets you whatever ends up being the final version of the game whenever the fine folks at Necrosoft get to completing it. Hey, the world may end before that happens or it may not. No matter what, you’ll be able to swerve past or slam sideways into all the deer you choose without guilt or incurring and insurance fee increases.

-GW