Review: ZARVOT (Nintendo Switch)

Zarvot Switch CubeTrying to nail down ZARVOT (A Game About Cubes, by the way) into a specific niche is, in an amusing way, a waste of time because it’s a perfect example of using a less by the book scholarly critical analysis and more of a “shut up and play it!” approach. While you can (and should) snap this up for the solid multiplayer modes, it’s worth the $19.99 alone for the brilliant Story mode and its blend of adventure and puzzle game elements, droll to laugh out loud humor and straight up surreal nature. It’s also a master class in game design as well as showing off the versatility of the Unity engine thanks to Sam Eng (@snowhydra), who put 4 years into making this great looking instant classic. Oh, and the soundtrack? yep, worth paying for as well.

In a nutshell, cube pals Mustard and Charcoal set out to put together the ultimate birthday present for their cube pal, Red, stuff goes wrong and needs to made right. There’s a lot of laser fire involved in this and saying anything more would ruin a hell of a lot of surprises. When you find yourself putting down a controller to either laugh at the absurdity of it all or pause to reflect on an emotional issue a character is facing (for cubes, insects and other assorted creatures, they’re quite… human, warts and all), you kind of get a better sense of game appreciation. I actually wish this were on a physical game card because it’s one of those keepers that might get lost in the well over 1200 games (and counting) filling up the eShop.

But I’m getting all scholarly and critical here, so let me stop that and dip into the fun stuff…

 

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The Horror of Too Many Scary Games (is a Good Thing to Have), Part 2

You’re either back for more… or you fell asleep reading that first part and just woke up in time for part two. Well, here you go, then. Some of today’s entries are coming out after October, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less frightening. Anyway, here are six more games to look forward to (unless you’re too freaked out to want to try some of the scarier ones, mua-ha-ha-haaaa!):

 

 
Home Sweet Home (PS4/PSVR/Xbox One) – If the trailer is any indication, this could be one of the downright scariest stealth/horror games of the year. I missed out on the PC version of this truly scary-looking Thai horror game from Bangkok-based indie dev Yggdrazil Group Co.,Ltd, but my pals at Mastiff Games seem voraciously intent on putting me under the couch with this upcoming PS4 and Xbox One port. The PS4 version will support VR as an option (I’ll take my scares flat, thank you much) and if you prefer your games on a disc, this one’s going to be a GameStop exclusive in addition to a standard digital download on PSN and Xbox Live. I may have to shell out for the disc version, as this one certainly looks scary enough to be a keeper. That and I want to have the option of maybe loaning that disc to a friend or two who hate horror games but are slowly coming around. Then again, I have the feeling that this might be one of those games that sends them back down the ladder to being too skittish to fire it up.

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Indies of Note (Part Two Billion!)

I can’t even begin to tell you how many small publishers contact me asking to check out their games in assorted forms of completion. No complaints at all on this as one thing I love is seeing how games come together. That said, I’m a wee bit backed up in codes thanks to all the medical stuff I’ve got going on, but I’ve been playing and compiling lists over the last few months on a few games you may want to take for a spin if you’ve a Steam or console account. Some of these are also on gog.com, gamejolt or itch.io, three of many other very awesome spots to get indie games you absolutely should check out even if you want to browse and be amazed at the variety on display. Actually, you can and should support indie games outright by at least playing demos where applicable and/or buying titles you like outright.

 

 

Mercenary Kings_PSMercenary Kings Reloaded Edition (PS4/PS3/Vita, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – Merry, merry, quite Contra-ry, what do we have here? A pretty damn awesome side-scrolling run ‘n gun from Montreal based independent game studio Tribute Games (Flinthook, Curses ‘N Chaos). Actually, it’s more like Metal Slug with a hefty crafting system and a more diverse cast of characters.

If you’ve played this previously, you’ll find the Reloaded edition adds a bunch of improvements that make this a great deal more accessible without lowering the difficulty. In addition to the stellar pixel art and animation, Tribute’s packed this one with tons of fun and challenge throughout, making a game that’s highly replayable and an excellent arcade experience that’s a must-buy no matter what you play it on. Now, if only Tribute would get Wizorb out on PS4, Vita and Switch, I’d be an even happier guy.

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Alien Outpost Final Trailer: That Invasion? It’s Coming Sooner Than You Think!


 

AlienOutpost_posterThanks to a too crazy month of stuff knocking me about, I’d almost forgotten that Alien Outpost was arriving in theaters and on VOD this Friday. IFC Midnight has been putting out a nicely varied mix of genre films for a while now and between this one, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (yes, I’ll have a review up for that awesome indie shortly) plus a few other flicks on the way, it’s clear that massive budgets and major stars aren’t at all required to make compelling entertainment.

The mix of “found footage” documentary and intense sci-fi action should appeal to you weekend warriors looking for a little cinematic diversion to spend a slice of time with. Back with a review and more shortly…

Alien Outpost: It’s Independent’s Day For This Sci-Fi Flick In January…

AlienOutpost_poster 

Gallery StillsJabbar Raisani’s upcoming Alien Outpost may not be doing anything new with the “evil space aliens invade Earth” storyline, but for an indie film, it sure has some nifty visual effects. Granted, the beefy alien “Heavies” almost look too videogame inspired, but the rest of the CGI work is fine enough to carry the illusion of all hell breaking loose on an Earth under-prepared  for such shenanigans. That said, it seems the story of Outpost 37 and its soldiers struggling to survive the alien threat will find an audience looking to cheer its high points and rally those troops during the low ones.

Will it be as fun to watch as Independence Day and its mix of dead seriousness and comedic elements were back in 1996? We shall see. But IFC Midnight is at least committed to bringing out these genre films on a regular basis that are usually worth a watch for genre fans looking for a fix. Check out the trailer, cast and plot description below:

 

ALIEN OUTPOST
In Select Theaters on January 30th, 2015

Two documentary cameramen embedded in an army unit in the most hostile place on earth, an outpost surrounded by the last remaining alien fighters (Heavies) of an invading attack force. The world may have forgotten about the Outposts, but the Heavies are planning the second invasion of Earth and the soldiers are the only ones who can stop it.

Cast: Adrian Paul, Rick Ravanello, Reiley McClendon, Douglas Tait, Joe Reegan & Matthew Holmes
Directed by: Jabbar Raisani
Written by: Blake Clifton, Jabbar Raisani
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi
Distributor: IFC Midnight