Modus Operandi: Getting Games Out When They’re Good and Ready

While they’re not a household name yet (but they should be), publisher Modus Games has a number of current and upcoming titles that should please those looking for a bit of variety in their gaming lives. From the return of the Trine series to its side-scrolling origins to three new (or new-ish n one case) IP set to arrive on the scene between this year and 2020, all four games I saw at their press event in NYC were looking great and are well worth waiting for.

ary-logo-colorAry and the Secret of Seasons (in development, PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One)- My first stop was a game with an intro trailer had me laughing out loud for a few minutes because it hit my particularly oddball sense of humor right in the sweet spot. It turns out the game in question is actually a bit more serious in tone yet looking like quite a blast to play. Co-developed by eXiin and Fishing Cactus using the versatile Unity engine, the game intentionally recalls classic mascot character action games of the 90’s and early 2000’s with what’s looking like a strong emphasis on both story and gameplay.

While the demo wasn’t a hands-on one, watching Ary get put through her paces by eXiin’s Sébastien Le Touze kept me smiling constantly. Her season controlling powers allowed for some great puzzle-solving solutions as well as some thrilling combat moments and yes. those powers sure looked great in motion as they affected the environments around then in real time. The ability to change the weather in an area to rainy meant lightning zapping those pesky hyenas or ice hindering them briefly while Ary’s slingshot and sword skills knocked them for a few loops. Granted, the demo had all her powers unlocked at the start, but that was simply to show how versatile she’ll become as the adventure progresses.

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The aforementioned puzzles can be solved in a few creative ways such as creating a large bubble of water to hop into and swim up to a high spot in order to flip a switch, or temporarily freezing an object or obstacle in order to pass safely before you free it and let it take out some baddies. Combining season powers is also key to some areas and Le Touze certainly did a stellar job in showing off what Ary could do. While it’s not set to launch until 2020, it’s a sure bet to be on quite a few watch and want lists, mine included.  If and when eXiin can get a demo of some sort up for everything this will appear on, I’m betting the game will find quite a few more eager fans ready to explore its pretty game world.

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Super Phantom Cat: Or, Meow-Rio World, Switch Bound

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Currently available on Steam, and in the App Store, Veewo’s colorful, super-cute Super Phantom Cat will make the big leap to Nintendo Switch around March 21. This retro-inspired platformer with is super-colorful visuals seems geared for more casual play, but this isn’t a bad thing at all given the more or less “Try and die!” fervor some of these old school themed games go for on a regular basis.

Now, there’s nothing really wrong with these more difficult experiences that hearken to those days when checkpoints and auto-saves weren’t a thing and you had to replay maps from the start each time you lost a life. On the flip side, both kids and adults who aren’t as fast on the jump buttons these days deserve games they don’t need a walkthrough for because they’re nigh on impossible to complete sans some sort of online assistance. Granted, there are indeed walkthroughs for this game out there, but I think most of you who want to can complete this gem of a game with no help at all. This is a good thing, I say.

-GW

What’s Cookin’?: (Almost) Everything in Moderation…


 

Yep, I’m still alive. My brain has been percolating a lot these past two weeks on stuff galore, so it’s been tough to focus on being too entertained. That said, I do like what Nintendo is up to on a few fronts despite me not even being interested in Super Mario Run because I don’t own an Apple device (yuk!), have zero plans to buy it on Android and even it it rears its cute run ‘n jump head on Switch, it’ll be a “meh!” as far as making a dent on my playlist. While a decent platformer gets played here and there by yours truly, I just don’t get that same thrill I used to back in the arcade to 32-bit era. A new Mario game gets the same sigh and pass as a AAA first-person shooter from me, Miyamoto magic or not.

Yeah, it’s cool and all, but I just can’t. The good here (it’s only ten bucks! – take THAT, $99.99 mobile game DLC!) is counterbalanced with the need for an always online connection to play. But given that ALL mobile games need to connect online at some point during play and Nintendo’s strict requirement is to prevent piracy and cheating, it comes off as a necessary evil more than a draconian law being laid down.

Well, to me at least.

On the other hand… The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Yep, sold. I’ve even gone and bought a few Amiibo to use in order to take advantage of the freebies that drop if you’re smart enough to have a few lying around. Hell, I was Amiibo-resistant until Hyrule Warriors revealed you can get five random gifts per day just by tapping figures on the Gamepad.

Anyway, let me close here for now and get back to cooking my actual dinner. My mind clears up a lot when I cook, so this post is a result of a meat sauce with ground turkey playing the part of beef. That’s going with some linguini that…(taste!) just turned al dente. Back in a bit, a trip to planet Nom awaits.

-GW

World of Darkness Wants You to Enjoy Some Earplay For Halloween

light-desktop-wwearplay-logo-ww-bgBefore horror books and movies, the spoken word was where it was at when you needed your spine chilled but good. The just announced partnership between Earplay and White Wolf Publishing to bring World of Darkness to iOS and Alexa enabled devices (such has Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot) sounds like a very cool interactive endeavor horror fiction fans may want to take a peek at and a listen to soon.

So, exactly what is this and why should you keep an ear peeled for it? Well, you have some reading to do, sir or madam. You like to read, right? Good. Here you go: Um, well… below the jump. Hey, I didn’t lie! Go look!

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Review: Ember

N-Fusion’s nostalgic, gorgeous love letter to classic CRPGs hits most of its notes perfectly and is one of the nicest surprises this year in terms of value for the money and how well the team has pulled off much of what it intended. 

Ember-752x430 Platform: PC (also on iOS)
Developer: N-Fusion Interactive
Publisher: 505 Games
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/9/2016
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: A (90%) BUY IT!

 

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Back in the earliest days, there was no sun and the world was dark. The heavens opened up and stars fell like beacons into the pitch black world, and they were known as “Embers”. Powerful and wise druids of a primordial race, “the Lightbringers,” roamed the land searching for this luminous matter. They performed a ritual of awakening to call the “Embers” out of their deep sleep. Suddenly the world became bright, and the veil of darkness was lifted. The Embers were the embodiment of magical flame, light, and life, but as word spread about the sheer power of the Embers, they came to be hunted and captured…and so the War for Ember began…

 

Given this site’s moniker I’m probably the last person who should be reviewing Ember, as I fell head over heels for the game after first seeing it just over two years ago at a 505 Games media event. Back then, it was an iOS exclusive and after spending time chatting with N-Fusion’s Jeff Birns and seeing the game in action, I was all set to drop my non-Apple stance and throw good money into taking the iPlunge. Fortunately, my brain started slapping itself in the face, which got me to ask if the game was coming to other platforms. Flash forward to the game hitting Steam first, followed by iOS a few days later and yours truly sinking a few dozen hours into the PC version, loving every nostalgic minute.

You play as a freshly revived Lightbringer, brought back to life after a lengthy period of interment in order to save a pretty troubled land called Domus from destruction. Yes, the game deliberately checks off a long list of CRPG tropes with slight amnesia, bantering siblings, a bad pirate gone good and others swirling through the plot. But this is exactly the sort of game that’s been made by a team who knows what it’s doing and it’s been done so well that everything’s more than acceptable once you get it. Or get over it, if you’re one of the wags who goes into every game expecting “innovation” from everything you touch. That said, the game works excellently as a casual to hardcore play because you get to control how easy to difficult your own experience will be.

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Get on the Good Wood, Get Your Tech Some TOAST

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TOAST logo greyIt’s hard to believe a mere ten people work at TOAST hand-making beautiful custom environmentally friendly wood cases and covers for everything from phones to tablets, laptops, game consoles and more, all reasonably priced.

The Portland, Oregon-based company uses sustainable wood and in addition to standard cases also does custom work where buyers submit their own artwork for one of the specific cases they manufacture and within 3-5 days (for single item orders) they turn out a lovely tech keeper/keepsake.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony and Microsoft haven’t bugged these folks to turn out a small amount of custom console cases for special occasions, but maybe they have and I’ve yet to hear about it. If not, someone needs to get on the ball over at Corporate and give he TOAST guys and gals a ring-up. It’s too bad the Wii U isn’t represented here, as Nintendo’s soon to be replaced console could use a bit of classy coverage journalists aren’t giving it (ha and ha). Still, if you’re a PS4 or Xbox One owner looking for a way to show off your consoles and want a finish that’s not only going to be unique even if you order the same one for multiple consoles (that’s the power of wood for you, folks!), it’ll make your gaming pals wanting their own freshly made TOAST, well there you go.

Aliens vs. Pinball: Ripley’s Back; She’s Got Balls Now

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AliensvsPinball_Logo_FDEZenAs a longtime fan of Zen Pinball 2’s creative digital tables, I’m always surprised when I see a new board that tops what I thought was their best work. This brief teaser for the upcoming Aliens vs. Pinball: Aliens Pinball made me grin way too much (in a good way) because it looks as if it’ll be a fun skill shot paradise for silver ball fanatics.

And yes, that art above, logo to the left and screenshots below reveal the other two tables in the pack. Alien Isolation was a terrifying game in its own right, but I’m betting the pinball version will be somewhat less scary (but still a blast to play) just because Zen makes its tables for a wider age range. As for that AvP table? It should be a lot better than the films (sorry, Fox!) if it avoids them entirely and is closer to what the old Dark Horse comics were.

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As usual, we shall see soon enough. Aliens vs. Pinball will be out April 26, 2016 (ALIEN Day!) for PS4, PS3, Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Steam, Windows 10, Mac, as well as in-app purchases for Zen Pinball and as a standalone app on iOS and Android devices.

Dungelot: Shattered Lands – A Cuter, Stabbier Minesweeper

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Dungelot 0Another of tinyBuild Games‘ upcoming titles is Dungelot: Shattered Lands from Red Winter, a two man studio based in Russia. Shattered Lands is their third game, but unlike the much maligned Dungelot 2 (which got lots of guff for its micro-transaction heavy gameplay), it’s available on iOS now and coming to Steam later this year as a single player game worth keeping an eye peeled for.

While I’m not a big Minesweeper fan in general, it’s the super cute art style and familiar rogue-like RPG aspects that have my interest piqued. Hey, who doesn’t like loot drops and increasing difficulty? Well, that and it’s got a rather large and unholy cow as a beefy boss that needs to be taken down:

dungelot-shattered-lands-gif Moo! Of course, that means that Cow from Hell above is udderly a female fiend (last time I checked, bulls are udderless), but hey – equality goes as good for evil as it does for good when all is said and done. If that sentence made no sense it’s because I’m still zonked out from the snowstorm we had two days ago. I could use some hot milk right about now, so that bovine behemoth-ess (MOO!) is looking mighty attractive about now.

But I digress. Go pick up the game if you have an iOs whatever to play it on or slap it on your Steam watchlist and go hide in a corner until it appears in that store at some point down the road. Here are some screens to ogle below while I nap through the rest of this post:

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Shadowgate on iOS: Castle of Doom Goes All Touchy-Feely

Shadowgate Dread Pumpkin 

Oh joy! Or should I say Zo-Joi! Shadowgate is now available on the iPad. $4.99 gets you this revamped classic that was a PC exclusive now on your tap and slide tablet of choice (well,if your tap and slide tablet of choice happens to be an iPad 3 or better). While not a “horror” game per se, exploring the gloomy deathtrap that is Castle Shadowgate can be a bit frightening at times. Hey, when you walk into a room filled with treasure and see that rather pissed off dragon eyeballing you, you’ll either get smart and get lost or get greedy and roasted up but good. Unless you have a certain item that can withstand a blast of fire or two. Yes, that was a free game tip.

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The beautiful artwork in this remake alone is worth the five bucks you’ll spend. Fortunately, Zojoi has made the new version of their 1987 classic every bit as devious and challenging as the original with even more to do and some super-challenging difficulty options for you adventure game masters out there. As if this wasn’t a good enough deal, Zojoi has also gone and made iOS versions of its four original MacVenture Series games. For $1.99 each you can play the classic Shadowgate, The Uninvited, Deju Vu and Deja Vu II.

And yes indeed, The Uninvited IS a horror game (and a good one at that):

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I shall leave you with the lovely lady in red above (that’s blood, by the way… YOUR blood!)- go get some yourself cheap classics today and have yourself an adventure (or four).

One More Bundle Is Calling Your Name

One More Bundle
 

Do you really need One More Bundle of indie games to dive into? Polish indie game studio One More Level certainly thinks so and for under two bucks (or more if you like), you can grab six digital game codes and dive into them at your leisure. The variety is certainly there, with a WWII flight sim, colorful puzzler, zombie mangling fun and even a strategy game set in the Call of Cthulhu universe. My own backlog is broken and screaming at me to not add another game to it, but I just may do so with this mix.

The offer expires September 29, 2015, so act fast, troops and don’t forget to tell a friend or three if you like what you’re playing. One More Level has a lot more in the works for their new platform and it’s always a good thing to get behind something like this early. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to flip a coin and see what’s next. Given that I got my coin from Two-Face and it’s unmarked, I have the feeling that my backlog is going to grow by six titles sooner than later.