Review: Dark Nights With Poe and Munroe (PS4)

They’re baaaaack. Full motion games developer D’avekki Studios has made the big leap to self-publishing with the digital release of Dark Nights With Poe and Munroe,($12.99) which is now available on the PS4, Xbox and soon, Switch. The game comprised of six episodic tales of a somewhat supernatural nature, with ghosts, a werewolf, a hungry painting demon, a bizarre love triangle and more. Although the game features a few toe-dips into light horror, it’s more of a creepy dark comedy where a bit of previous homework with Davekki’s earlier titles goes a long way in explaining some of the quirkier aspects found here.

Poe (Klemings Koehring) and Munro (Leah Cunard) first appeared in 2018’s great little gem The Shapeshifting Detective and they return in this standalone set where we get to know their characters a bit more, but yes, there’s even more mystery going on in the small village of August, which seems to be a magnet for offbeat supernatural occurrences. In “Frankie” the pair need to deal with a persistent stalker with surprising results. Let’s just say Poe has a way with a knife but we haven’t heard the last of Frankie in this game.

“In Bed with Poe and Monroe” is next, and it’s about a 24-hour radiothon where the two characters need to raise funds to keep the station afloat by staying in bed together (not THAT together) while broadcasting live. Well, it’s about so much more, as a sleepy Munro discovers a few times. Poe also makes a few discoveries that are equally revealing as a jealous ghost (Ayvianna Snow) appears to make his love life even more complicated. This episode has a few scenes like the first where shocks drop in and affect the outcomes of paths to wonderfully different results. More of this strangeness will come.

In Episode Three, “Green With Envy”, the pair are racing against time to find a kidnapped and drugged student (Warrick Simon) before his time runs out. Time is of the essence as the duo’s decisions in this chapter affect the ending and all depends on how you choose to investigate the case. There’s a pair of laugh out loud innuendo bits here when Munro visits guest house owner Violet (Aislinn De’Ath) and a little De’ath goes a long way when Munro misinterprets some simple queries before asking her own. Poe gets his way (sort of) with a pretty teacher (Ashleigh Cole) who may be a suspect, but who’s the mysterious Yvette who calls into the show to say she’s the kidnapper?

Episode Four, “Everybody Changes” brings a hypnotist into the studio, Madame Baratsky (Lara Lemon), who puts Munro into a trance where she relives a past life and tells a disturbing tale of murder. As mentioned above, playing that chapter made me go see the Doctor up close and personal (I bought the game last year on the PS4), an experience I highly recommend. In any event, this episode made me want some sort of Doctor Dekker followup, or at least the desire to replay that game again a few more times.

In Episode Five, “Many Happy Returns”, it’s the day before Munro’s birthday, there’s a full moon and a caller rings in to note he may have almost run over a werewolf. Guess where out two intrepid adventurers are headed? If you guessed “Why, to find out if that’s true, but not before a possible time traveler named Kaspar (Vincent Gould) calls, then shows up to the studio!” Well, you need to be in your own game, as you’re psychic. Like all the episodes, there’s a set-up of events and situations here that definitely hints at more. This give players a hint that the sleepy town of August is quite the nexus for bizarre happenings (like the sudden rock, paper, scissors game in this chapter).

Finally, Episode Six gets truly freaky with “It Started with a Wish” where we get a soul-eating canvas demon named Rose (Rachel Cowles) who lives inside a painting. She grants Poe a wish, which he has to pay for by having Munro hide nine capsules as prizes for ‘lucky’ listeners to find. Those capsules are supposed to have museum tickets inside, but (surprise!), they have a less pleasant gift awaiting. You’ll see. Poe’s wish has very huge consequences both he and Munro have to deal with and there’s a sort of David Lynch meets Night Gallery thing here when the characters have to deal with the results.

As noted, the game teases very much that there are many more August takes to be told, and I like that Poe and Munro’s relationship goes where it does in different ways depending on your choices. In terms of production, this one’s pretty solid. Without fancy effects makeup or gore, the game still conveys an eerie, scary vibe when it needs to, But it’s also funny, sexy and mature where it matters. Some may feel the vignette nature of the episodes might be better served as a single story arc. But I found that a game where time travel seems a quiet reality, dryads may actually exist and so many possible outcomes from charming to deadly are at one’s fingers that I’m all aboard for more. Recommended.

-GW

Review: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4)

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The Chaos Engine, or Circle of Life in action, if you will…

fall-guys-ultimate-knockout-boxartWell, this one’s a pleasant and goofy surprise. Sometimes the silliest and most simple games ideas just work and Mediatronic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout ($19.99 on Steam for PC, Free this month on PSN) reinforces this perfectly. The 60-person enter, one person wins element is pure battle royale insanity (a genre I usually avoid), it’s weaponless mix of puzzle, sporty and trap packed levels offer up some tough and hilarious navigational challenges and overall, it’s just about as good as it gets for a game of its type.

Sure, there are micro-transactions here, but they’re not at all necessary to jump in and start playing. You can get some cool cosmetics with currency earned from just playing the game, or you can pay real money for stuff if you’re in a hurry to look cooler as you fall or get knocked off assorted hazards multiple times. In other words, there are no performance-enhancing purchases here (so far and I hope there won’t be in the future). Besides, the developer and publisher need to make SOME money with this one, but it’s actually nice that PSN users at least get to more or less play free and not choose to pay… well, until they need some of the stupidly cute skins and outfits that pop up.

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It’s all fun and games, especially if someone gets cartoon hurt.

A constantly rotating set of 24 levels means you can’t predict what’s coming, but loads of dying and plenty of practice await. You just need to hope you can survive the chaos as it happens. Yes, there are some super-skilled players out there who can dive and dash through areas and as you play, some tasks get easier to plow through than others. But the lack of voice chat thankfully keeps one’s ears from burning off from what I’d imagine is some hefty amount of creative cursing taking place at some ignominious last second defeats. Although, yours truly actually screamed “Oh, Bugsnax!” at my TV after one terrible but funny loss because I’d exhausted every curse word I knew and that upcoming PS5 game’s name just popped into my head.

Then again, this is a game where you’ll watch someone winning a match and then lose it by accident when a platform vanishes suddenly, or they get beaned by a falling slice of parachuting fruit. Some players seemingly try to take out other players by lurking near an exit (grrrr!) and lunging at them or maybe hoping to be as threatening as a giant jellybean in a funky getup can. It’s all good though – sometimes you get the last laugh (well, until you lose in a future round) when the game decides to drop random survivors at the results screen to get the next stage kicking.

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Evan’s Remains: Logic Dictates This Will Be a Nifty Puzzle/Adventure

If you’re into some games that don’t rely on pure horsepower or an overdose of visual flashiness that shows off every graphical trick in the book, don’t let games like this get buried under big console announcements. Whitehorn Digital has what looks like a sleeper hit in Evan’s Remains, a game that’s also on PC, Xbox One, and Switch. I’m in the process of playing and so far, it’s quite a lovely experience with some stellar hand-drawn pixel art and a relaxing soundtrack. I won’t go into details about the story, as I’m not far along and there seems to be a few surprises I won’t spoil, but I’m truly enjoying the game so far. I’m going to shut up here and try to get more time in before the PS5 reveal, but yeah – go check this one out as soon as you can.

-GW

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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Boreal Tales: Bargain Indie Scares Up The Past

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With a game developer name like Snot Bubbles Productions, one would imagine the Vancouver-based team to have a first game straight out of the gate that’s going to be pretty darn interesting.  Or kind of damp and sticky, ewww.

Welcome to Boreal Tales, folks.

The game is out now and it’s a paltry $3.00 or Steam or itch.io and that makes it for me, an automatic purchase even though I was offered a free code to review. Small developers with a great looking game such as this need a boost with any sales they can get and I really like these offbeat games, so it’s on my BUY IT! list as we speak. Anyway, “What’s the game about?” you may be asking right about now. Well, I’ll duck quickly into show and tell mode here (quack, quack!):

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Review: Dark Nights with Poe and Munro (PC)

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There are no incorrect choices in this game, as you’ll discover.

In the fourth episode of six in D’avekki Studios rather excellent FMV (full motion video) game Dark Nights with Poe and Munro ($12.99), there’s a rather neat dark surprise in store for fans of their first FMV game, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker. I won’t fully reveal that surprise, but sharp-eyed fans will have grasped it already from a single screenshot. Let’s just say that I hadn’t yet visited the Doctor’s office and had it on my Steam wishlist for a bit until that episode in Dark Nights had my brain spin around in my head and my wallet flew into my hands from across the room – SOLD. I’ve only put about four hours onto the (maybe) deceased Doctor’s couch, but it’s definitely been worth the session fee.

Back to the newer game, which is a more TV-like prequel to events in The Shapeshifting Detective (one of the better FMV games we’ve played) featuring the radio host duo from that title. You get six very replayable chapters featuring John ‘Poe’ Pope (Klemens Koehring) and Ellis Munro (Leah Cunard), both superbly possessing their roles, coming off a bit like this decade’s Mulder and Scully, but with a struggling radio show and much more supernatural goings on. Their relationship is a lot more complex (all together now: “it’s complicated!”) and the game uses that as both backdrop and foreground material for their escapades. All six chapters delve into their radio relationship as well as what happens off-air, with multiple choices that can lead to some, shall we say innnnntersting outcomes. Or, Death certainly doesn’t take a holiday here in some episodes, is all I’ll say.

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Jet Lancer: Take To The Skies On Switch, PC

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“Snakes… Why’d it have to be snakes?”

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A pilot, a Captain and an engineer walk into a bar…

Today, ace pilot Ash Leguinn joins the ranks of the many other legendary arcade shooter ladies who fly and blast enemies out of the sky with the release of indie developer Code Wakers’ Jet Lancer on PC and Nintendo Switch ($14.99) published by Armor Games. Having put in some playtime with an earlier PC build and and after playing the Switch version for a spell, this writer can say it’s quite a challenging mix of acrobatic flight combat against waves of enemies and some pretty large and tough bosses.

Ash travels from mission to mission on a small aircraft carrier piloted by a Captain who doles out briefings as she accepts them. Others in need of aid from Ash’s skills will pop in with their own requests as the game progresses, and you’ll get a talking cat engineer named Lem early on to upgrade your ship, the LANCE, as well as that aircraft carrier it travels on. The boat is sea bound until you get an upgrade that allows it to move over land barriers and the map unlocks more missions and plot elements.

Here’s the game’s launch trailer:

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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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Book of Demons: A Fun Pain & Paper Game That Needs To Be Played

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Fire usually burns paper, so this big guy is in for a surprise… or maybe those three heroes are?

A few years ago, I got an email from Thing Trunk Studios about a game they were working on called Book of Demons, which at the time was still in progress as a PC title. I got to try it out in Early Access form and found it to be quite well done, an amusing, challenging and well-made take on Blizzard’s classic Diablo, but with a paper crafted pop-up book aesthetic. I really liked what I played, but was hoping it would eventually make its way to consoles.

Flash forward a few years and here it is courtesy the developer who have teamed up with publisher 505 Games:

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Dark Nights with Poe and Munro: A Date With Destinies Is On The Way

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It’s back to August, but in May…

They’re doing it again…

D’Avekki Studios (The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, The Shapeshifting Detective) has been up to it once again, making another smart, sharp, moody and mystery filled FMV game that’s bound to keep fans pleased as punch in these crazy times. Dark Nights With Poe and Munro is on the way to PC via Steam on May 19th, with a console release coming later. I’ve kept myself away from any info on the game as I did with The Shapeshifing Detective because going in totally blind works many wonders when exploring a game such as this. I still need to dive into that Doctor Dekker game, but my backlog is glowing at me from above (the stack of stuff to review here is rather imposing!)

As to what “this” is, read on below the jump and no, it’s not a time traveling game featuring Edgar Allan Poe teaming up with Caroline Munro (although, now that I think about it, that would be something else to see, wouldn’t it?).

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