Review: Injection π23 ‘No name, no number’ (PS4)

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Kid: “Hey, mom What’s for lunch!” Mom: “Why, the corridors of the MIND, child…”

Injection PS4While it’s technically imperfect and a bit unpolished, Abramelin Games has a pretty frightening survival horror game for PS4 owners in Injection π23 ‘No name, no number’ ($9.99). That ten bucks gets you a pure passion project (made over the course of five years) in the form of a multimedia game experience featuring puzzles guaranteed to test your brain cells, unsettling monsters to avoid or fight (in that order) and plenty of horrific nightmare fuel imagery. It’s noted before you start to to wear headphones and play in the dark, but I opted out of the headphone use part after trying this for the first hour and needing to remove them because I was kind of freaking out a wee bit too much (the sound design is pretty damn intense).

You play as a rather troubled man living alone with his dog in Villanueva de Tapia (a village in Málaga, Spain). When his pet runs off, he’s seemingly struck by a truck while giving chase and regains consciousness only to find himself in a twisted variation of the village and yes, still needing to find that dog. In pure survival horror fashion, you get disturbing visuals, locked doors that require opening in one way or another, and as noted, the aforementioned monsters. You’ll also discover a mystery about missing townspeople, murders and torture rituals with a religious angle and more depravity. The mix of Unity engine assets, enhanced live action video clips and appropriately timed jump scares keep things tense throughout where when things do quiet down, there’s still the sense that something’s going to happen. Let’s just say Villanueva de Tapia’s tourism numbers will either rise or decline after this game gets more notice, although my take is it’ll increase if horror fans are curious enough to see how scary a spot it is in real life.

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A little walk in the woods to clear the head isn’t going to help much when you’re too scared to take another step.

Exploration will be the first key to your survival, as the game places all sorts of clues to what needs to be done but doesn’t highlight where you need to search. One of the great things the game does right off the bat is allow for four camera angles to choose from on the fly, similar to Riverhill Soft’s Doctor Hauzer and OverBlood games. This freedom lets you explore how you want from classic Resident Evil style, two different third-person mode and first-person, although you can expect that first-person mode to deliver those creep-tastically ugly monsters in your face as they try to eat your face off. Plan accordingly, but expect to do a bit of jumping in fear on occasion when you’re surprised.

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Review: Omega Labyrinth Life (Switch)

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Tagline time: Come for the boobs, stay for the rock hard dungeons! How does that grab you? Er, on second thought, don’t answer that.

Omega LLAs a longtime fan of turn-based rogue-like dungeon crawlers on consoles since 1990’s Dragon Crystal on the Sega Master System (which I still own), I knew Matrix Corporation’s sexy, supremely goofy and at times straight up hilarious Omega Labyrinth Life ($59.99) would be right up my alley. While I can heartily recommend the game to like-minded crawler fans, that Mature rating means puritan types and those easily rattled by sexual content and rampant fan service need not apply.  If you’re still interested and want to dive in head first to a new experience, you’re going to want to go on with an open mind to anime gals in saucy situations, a bit of gardening busywork in between dungeons and plenty of breast-related humor and optional mini-games definitely not for the kiddies.

Amusingly enough, the Switch version is content-wise, superior to the more censored PlayStation 4 version (which is still somewhat racy). There’s a plot here, but all you need to know is Hinata Akatsuki, new transfer student to Belles Fleurs Academy, finds herself in deep after she arrives and the school’s famed 100-year old flower garden  suddenly dies. Initially, the blame is laid on her shoulders, but she sets off into the dungeons that have appeared under the property to figure out what’s going on and to prove her innocence. Hinata won’t go it alone, though. The Academy’s most promising students plus a few tiny but large-boobed fairies all end up as her co-adventurers during the game and for a few dozen hours it’s quite a bouncy ride on a few fronts.

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It’s a good thing that gals here grow bigger boobs as they level up, as that allows some forward protection from slipping on hardwood floors. Allegedly.

For all the breast-themed stuff, rampant innuendo and bawdy humor galore, this is a pretty lightweight (but enjoyable) game on the story front. That said, the dungeons can be brutally hard after the initial tutorial maps. This is a great thing, as the random nature means every run past that point will deliver assorted challenges, monsters and items guaranteed to keep you on your toes. Leveling up increases your selected party members cup sizes (up to a Z-cup!), which go back to normal once a dungeon is cleared. Dying in a dungeon means you lose all your currently collected items unless you take out a bit of costly insurance on gear you’d like to re-buy once you’re above ground. There’s a wealth of stuff to discover and uncover (ahem), but we’ll put that ball in your court and let you have at it as you please.

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Review: Rise of Insanity (PS4)

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Oh, there’s a whole lot of wrong here and nope, Better Homes and Gardens isn’t making that phone call foe a feature, that’s for sure.

ROI_boxDespite an ending you can see coming a mile away and an English translation riddled with typos, Red Limb Studio has cooked up a pretty decent scare game with Rise of Insanity ($12.99). While it borrows heavily from a few sources (notably, Kubrick’s version of The Shining, bits of The Exorcist and Silent Hill), it’s got a few good unsettling moments and an overall creepy vibe that works well. That said, the game’s short play time works both for and against it in that you want to see and do more when things work, where on the other hand, horror game veterans who’ve seen it all may find the experience underwhelming if they go in with overly lofty expectations or expect some sort of “survival horror” experience with zombies, weapons and a huge body count.

Nope, this one’s another first-person “gather items and clues, read diary entries and such” deal (I despise the denigrating term “walking simulator”, by the way) where puzzles are fairly easy, the scary bits do exactly what they need to (provided you’re not too jaded) and unless you apply too much real-world logic to the experience, ends up being enjoyable at the end of the day. Well, “enjoyable” is a sort of suspect word for a game where your character can die from a few of the more frightening encounters, but I think you know what I mean.

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Someone forgot to bring a dime to have their fortune told, it seems…

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Remothered: Tormented Fathers Makes the Switch (A More Frightening Place)

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No weapons here, just lots of staying alive by your wits… or else. Oh, and the story’s killer, too.

The story unwinds around Rosemary Reed, a determined 35 year-old woman who arrives at the dilapidated Felton house to investigate on the disappearance of a little girl some years before. When the hosts realize the woman’s true intentions, a terrifying ordeal begins.

Thanks to a ridiculously large backlog, I finally got around to buying and playing a chunk of Darril Arts and Stormind Games’ quite intense Remothered: Tormented Fathers on the PS4 and yes indeed, it’s quite the scary slice of horror game genre fans need to play. Fortunately, Nintendo Switch owners will be finally getting the chance to dive into this modern classic thanks to collaboration with the Japanese publisher DICO Co. Ltd. Comparisons to the now defunct Human Entertainment’s brilliantly executed (heh) albeit dated-looking Clock Tower are interesting and inevitable, although, I’d say creator Chris Darril’s influences also include Italian horror flicks of the 70’s, a weapon-less Alone in the Dark and a few other things.

As with other Unreal Engine Switch ports, it’ll be really interesting to see how it turns out in terms of performance and visual fidelity when stacked up to the other console and PC versions. It’ll definitely be scary as hell as a game experience, so it’s got that going for it right out of the gate.

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That’s the release date, folks. Have your time carved out and play this in the dark with some decent headphones for maximum results.

Additionally, fans of the first game will want to keep an eye on the prequel/sequel, Remothered: Going Porcelain, which is currently set for a 2020 release on PC and consoles. So much fear… so little time, right?

-GW

Review: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning (PS4)

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

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CHARGE COMBO… er, hey? Does that come with fries, or just a large punch? I got jokes, man. Not good ones, but I got jokes…

ZZPS4“Gleefully Apocalyptic” or “Cheerfully Downbeat” may seem like damnable praise for a game, but Spike Chunsoft has made that a winning strategy in a number of its more popular titles such as the “Deathly Amusing” Danganronpa series or those “Wonderfully Grim” Zero Escape games. Veteran developer Lancarse’s Zanki Zero: Last Beginning ($59.99) is in some ways similar, but not 100% quite like those other games, though. It’s a “Non-stop Survival RPG” with a demanding set of gameplay requirements some new to this sort of thing may find a bit tricky to grasp, but it ends up pretty satisfying once you settle in and grow accustomed to what it requires from you. In English, you’ll dig this for what works well more than those who might not “get” it at all. Go try that lengthy PS4 demo out and make your move, I say.

You play as a team of eight survivors of a world-ending event who initially seem to think they’re in a bizarre reality show, but soon find out they’re clones with a 13-day lifespan forced to repeat the cycle of birth to death as they puzzle out the hows and whys of their existence. Their guides? A pair of cartoon show hosts living in a separate reality who pop up on an unplugged vintage televisions to give them missions that will expand or end their lives (or both) as they’re completed. Yes, you get 10XP if you realize there’s some nefariousness going on behind the scenes (or, under the skin, if you prefer). And yes, I thought David Lynch would make a fine directorial choice if there’s ever a live-action version of this one, but as usual… I digress.

 

 

As you can see from that trailer above, you can expect death to come calling frequently (a lot less so if you play on the new to the English version Easy mode). That said, dying here isn’t all bad, as what can kill you will in most cases will make your party members stronger as new resistances and even a bit of lifespan extending can be acquired based on how and when you buy the farm. Buy early, buy often, but try not to buy it too much as your lives are limited. There’s also that parasitic Clione the clones have to deal with – use their powers wisely, or pay the price with a somewhat spectacular death.

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The Dead Don’t Die: Jim Jarmusch Doing Zombies? Yummy.

Okay, the whole zombie genre is so played out to me that it would take something really quirky to get my yawny brain percolating in deciding to watch yet another entry in an already packed field. Well, thanks to the one and only Jim Jarmusch, here’s a zombie film I’d run out to see in a theater as well as snap up a disc at some point down the road:

Also, Iggy Pop as a zombie? Too damn funny (although Keith Richards would have been a more obvious choice), and the rest of the casting is inspired and diverse enough to make this a crowd pleasing gem for fans of everyone in this hopefully awesome flick. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see (and not pay a damn bit of attention to aggregate scores at all), but I’m prepared to go in cold and come out all warmed up about this one based on my appreciation towards Jarmusch’s previous work alone.

-GW

Zanki Zero, You’re My (New) Hero

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Keep an eyeball peeled for this one, folks.

While it’s not officially out until April 9th, I’ve been playing a review version of Spike Chunsoft’s new first-person “Non-stop Survival RPG” Zanki Zero: Last Beginning for a few days now and it’s pretty amazing on a few fronts. I’ll save most of that “How amazing is it?” stuff for my review, but I’ll gleefully urge you to go download the demo if you’re a PS4-owning JRPG fan who wants something a wee bit… different yet but quite familiar in its mature tone to Spike Chunsoft’s other quirky titles.

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One of the first people you’ll meet in the game. Expect total strangeness from this point onward.

That trailer below doesn’t even begin to convey the sheer wackiness and brilliance on display, but it sure makes for an interesting watch:

Oh, before you get all “Aw, man… I want to play this on my PC!”… the game will indeed, get a PC version on the same day as the PS4 game ships. Excellent.

Alrighty, then. My work here is done for now, but I’ll be back with a review next week. Expect strangeness.

-GW

Hell to Pay 3: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Launch Trailer

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Shadows may Die Twice, but I’ll die quite a lot more playing this and be totally happy with that.

Confession: I’m notably terrible at FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, but I keep playing them all because of my overall love for the developer’s work and generally very solid lineup since the King’s Field days and the fact that they make some really damn fine games that have been varied, fun to play and challenging. I fully expect to be even more terrible at their new game, Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice, set for a PC, PS4 and Xbox One release on March 22, 2019.

This trailer is, to put it mildly, absolutely magnificent:

Granted, it’s a given that Activision and From have a guaranteed evergreen hit here that’s a gorgeous reminder the dev cut its teeth on some superb single player experiences way back in the 32-bit era. But this game also makes me wish someone would nudge the developer to get to work on Otogi and Otogi 2 remakes or remasters, as those were two very well-made original Xbox titles that deserve a new life on current-gen hardware or hardware yet to come. We shall see, of course, but hey – if we’re also getting Metal Wolf Chaos XD this year from Devolver Digital, anything is somewhat possible in the future.Micro

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Hey, pal… got a light?

-GW

Review: Home Sweet Home (PS4)

home sweet home(Soothing TV announcer voice, circa 1978):Constipated? 9 out of 10 doctors* recommend Home Sweet Home ($29.99) for fast relief. Easy to apply vie handy and discrete PSN download or in a GameStop exclusive retail version, this not at all soothing horror adventure game works within minutes so you can get back to doing the things you love. Remember – for fast relief, Just say Home Sweet Home…

Yes, that’s right. Provided you’re not a too-jaded horror game player who’s seen it all, this one will scare the living crap out of you. Well, given that poop isn’t supposed to be alive when it’s making a hasty retreat, that may be a good thing.  Here’s a funny for you: back about two years ago, I played the demo for this on PC and wrote about it, but kind of forgot all that because, hey, life happens. However, as soon as the game installed and I hit that start button, a sense of déjà vu followed by creeping dread washed over me. Eep. Yeah, this was not going to go well for my heart, folks.

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Oooh, choices!  Do I go left, do I go right, or do I go hide under a blanket after I turn the game off because I’m too freaked out to continue? *Sigh* ONWARD, as I have a review to write!

 

Anyway, to me, this game is SCARY, plus tax. How scary? Well, If Kriss Kross will make you Jump, you’re guaranteed to jump at least five times as much here if you’re easily frightened. You’re unarmed, many rooms are tight, detritus filled death traps where doors open to brick walls or other surprises of the surreal nature and worst of all, you’re often searching for clues to puzzles as the game’s box cutter wielding scary lady and a few other creeps do their level best to make you wet yourself. There’s nothing like being all stealthy and avoiding instant death for a few tense minutes, slipping between rooms and gathering clues to progress, only to finally unlock a door and jump out of your seat when something… nasty pops into view. And there’s a hell of a lot of nasty in this game.

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Red Dead Redemption II Says: Go West, or Just Stay In (and Still Go West)

RDR II out now

To quote the the late, great Tom Petty: “The waiting is the hardest part…”

“People call me lazy. I’m not lazy. Just don’t like working. There’s a difference”
-Uncle, That Western Game

So yeah, this is funny. I woke up late and had to run out for an appointment, but I’d put in a request for a review code of That Western Game before I rushed out. I also put in a request for a game that wasn’t That Western Game as well, shut down the laptop and scooted along on my merry way. On the way to that appointment, I ran into four people I knew in one way or another who either asked why I wasn’t home playing That Western Game or noting the sole reason they were outside NOT playing That Western Game was because they were also waiting for it to download or install an update or they were stocking up on supplies for the weekend plus so they could play That Western Game totally undisturbed.

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