Neverwinter Nights Comes to Consoles (And Why You May Never Go Outside Again)

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If you only get one game this holiday… you’ll likely still be playing it a year later.

Oh, good gravy, I forgot this was coming out (and guess who’s really happy about that?)

Firmly camped in the “Now, this brings back memories” and “Well, there goes another 180 or so hours!” departments, I have the feeling the console version of Neverwinter Nights ($49.99, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) will be a Game of the Year contender simply for the sheer amount of content it delivers. The press release below the jump will get you grinning if you’re a fan who remembers spending too many hours in these worlds, but I bet a copper that a new generation of players will want to dive into this in single player and co-multiplayer modes.

New, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go move some time around and figure out when I’m going to play this and you need to go read a press release. For the record, I’ve been storing excess time in the closet, but it keeps disappearing, grrrrrr. Must be the monsters in there eating it, I think…

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Review: Bee Simulator (PS4)

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You’ll bee a busy bee and like it a lot here if the premise hooks you in.

Bee Simulator coverSneaking in its well-written and simple to grasp science and nature lessons in little bits over time (the loading screen and ever expanding journal are excellent), Vasrav Games Studio and publisher Bigben Interactive have a superb and beautiful game in Bee Simulator ($39.99). It’s not without its flaws, but it’s definitely a game worth a few plays in single and couch co-op modes. Come into this with an open mind and you’ll bee pleasantly surprised and even perhaps learn some important things in the process.

The main story is a bit of fluff where you’re a new honeybee who has to help save her hive’s tree from being chopped down, but here’s a game that gets more mileage out of its basic gameplay than its more basic plot when all is said and done. That loose flight control you’ll discover takes a bit of getting used to (you’ll likely bounce off and into many things at first), but it’s entirely doable once you practice (go watch a few real-life bees do their thing if you’re safely near any and it’s bee season). The attention to detail is phenomenal (well, despite the talking insects and a few other “game-y”elements) and enough to make me think a certain two Japanese developers could make their own insect-filled and far more explosive bug and ‘bot-based series a bit more impressive it they added more realistic giant bug nests to the levels. But I digress (EDF! EDF!)

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“Hi, those big horns are are meant for playing, right? Oh, they’re not horns, but you’ll play anyway? Cool!”

Back to the game at hand, it starts in and around a honey bee hive with a few tutorials that get you buzzing about and pulling off a few moves, learning to fly and boost, use a bee sight power that allows you to see and locate certain flowers and other items you’ll need to progress. If you’re not in the bee camp because you think they’re somehow awful or terrifying menaces to humanity (you’d be wrong on the honeybee front, at least), the tutorial drops enough info on you to get you curious and the main game will have you beeing so much of a helpful bee that you (and the kids, if you have them play) might bee-come bee cheerleaders each time you boot this up.  I think the bees would like that, by the way.

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Bee Simulator: The Buzz Says It’s A Honey Of A Game

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Bee all that you can, bee…

Bee_logoLife is sweet these days, at least on the gaming front. So, I’m playing Varsav Game Studios’ wonderful Bee Simulator on the PS4 and so far, having a blast with this indie. It’s NOT a “simulator” as in reality doesn’t come into play in the scientific manner, but it sure is a colorful and fun-filled game the entire family can enjoy. Bigben Games deserves kudos for seeing this one through and it definitely deserves to be seen and played as a neat little sleeper.

I’ll have more on this after playing it to completion, but for now, it’s a pretty good contender in terms of indie games that do some things a bit differently.  Go peek at the trailer below – I’m going to go play some more and get a review up soon.

-GW

Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris Gets A Wonderfully Depressing New Trailer

 

Geez. Take my time and money, already department, deluxe edition: Teamkill Media’s upcoming game, Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris makes Demon’s Souls classic and mighty downbeat intro seem as if it’s unicorns and rainbows, but with a bit more winning on the part of of the lead here. I like it for that. That said, it’s hard to get a gauge on enemy difficulty in the newer game, as some enemies seem to go down too fast. Then again, this is likely the developer wisely hiding the challenge level until the masses get their hands around a controller when the PC version is released on November 22 2019.

This almost looks too frightening to finish (and no, that fantastically dour music isn’t helping one bit). If that’s going to be the aural force that’s coming, the already mind-blowing visuals will have some stiff competition as far as what’s going to keep me freaked out the most. I can’t wait, but I also want to see how the console versions stack up (PS4 is my preferred way to play, thank you).  Oh, here’s the earlier E3 trailer (in case you haven’t seen it yet). Go wishlist this now… or it’s coming to get you.

-GW

Review: Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (PS4)

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There are a few ways to handle this…

Trine 4_covAbsolutely beautiful and back to its 2.5D roots (although I did like the last game, I seem to be in the minority, so I’ll shut up about it), Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince ($29.99) is a wonderful and wonder-filled visual treat. Solo play is excellent, but It’s also great to play with a few friends for the engaging co-op and unlimited modes, which become more of a blast when you get new players in on the fun who’ve never tried this series before yet manage to come up with some quirky and/or intelligent out of the box means to solve some of its puzzles. Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief are back and in an even more stunning to look at game packed with enough content outside the story to last a while. The main game has a pretty basic story, but there’s a good deal of replay value when you get a few friends and get to messing around.

Developer Frozenbyte’s choice to let players cook up their own solutions to puzzles is a genius move where the game never gets dull because there will be those moments when someone pulls of a nice move and discovers either through trial and error or just mucking around for fun how to proceed. In solo mode, the game is great stuff, as switching between its trio of characters and using their powers comes off easy. Well, battle sequences aside where some solo players may want to rely on switching to Pontius and his trusty sword and shield until because he’s usually best at dealing with those shadow beasts quickly. The other team members do fine here (and as you play through the game, all get some nifty skill upgrades), but for my tastes, I used Pontius whenever I could for combat.

Even though the game world is presented as a side-scrolling affair, developer Frozenbyte has lovingly packed so much rich detail here that some areas feel as it you can travel out of the boundaries and go off in the distance if you wanted to. The gorgeous fairy tale looks and excellent character animation help bring the game to life and it’s all family friendly stuff right down to a few exaggerated, oversize boss enemies which manage to be both somewhat comical and scary (well, not that scary). In the game, a young and somewhat reckless prince tries to learn some powerful magic outside his skill level and our heroic trio get reassembled as a team and have to go after him. Unfortunately for them, he’s actually got a few tricks up his fancy embroidered sleeves. Can you say dipping our three heroes’ minds to bring forth nightmares, folks?

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Games I Need to Play 2: Beamdog’s Classics Come to Consoles

 

Good gravy, Skybound and Beamdog, you’re going to kill me thanks to my withering away indoors with your ports of the two Baldur’s Gate games, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment games. One definitely can’t gripe about the cost, as each game and their expansions (plus new content that was missing in the PC versions) cram in more that enough play and replay value to justify the price ($49.99 each). Pretty much, each one may will take a few weeks or months to play and hell, you can’t say that about many games outside the genre that don’t require an online connection or double-dip you (or more) with fees and micro-transactions.

As I noted in my preview a few months ago, there goes my free time forever. Amusingly, I’ve not requested a review code yet because from experience, games like these games are professional time eaters (I’ve played them all before on PC years back), and well, as I sand, my free time (and hell, all of my work time) would necessitate a format change to an all-Beamdog, all the time blog. That, and yeah, I’ll likely support both companies with a purchase because I have the feeling some wags out there will feel these enhanced ports won’t be worth full price because of the dated looks and other biases against things like the length and maybe the mobile ports (which cost less, but the console versions have a number of changes that make then worth playing and then some).

(Thanks, Warner Bros.!)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out when I’ll play these and work on my time machine so I can play them. At least Neverwinter Nights isn’t out until December on consoles, so that gives me time to play the other games.

-GW

Review: AI: The Somniun Files (PS4)

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Get a clue, Date. Bet a cluuuuuuue.

AIBrilliant. Spike Chunsoft keeps it perfectly weird at all times with AI: The Somnium Files ($59.99), a visual novel/adventure that’s one of the best games of this type to date in terms of accessibility. Granted, it opens with a disturbing crime scene, but that gory mystery to solve (and a few others as the game goes on) becomes the starting point for Kaname Date’s adventures and every investigator needs a good mystery, right? Of course, Date soon realizes this case has ties to his past (you’ll see) and with some assistance from Aiba, his trusted partner who resides in his left eye socket (you’ll see), things get more or less cleared up (the AI’s have it, heh).

The victim, her husband, and whip-smart young daughter all have connections to Date and Date’s oddball (eyeball?) relationship with Aiba is part of the game’s pull. She’s necessary to solve a few puzzles both in the real world and the Sonmium dreamscapes you’ll dip into. Her real form is an oddly cute tiny cyclops bear thing, but in dreamscapes she takes on a more humanoid shape partly because she thinks Date’s tastes lean toward pretty women. His do, but Aiba’s form appearing outside of dreams is too distracting for him at certain points.

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Brainnnns. Expect to see a few odd dreams for Aiba to mess around in.

Gameplay combines a bit of thinking with plus trial and error in the timed Aiba segments, plus traditional point and click sections where Date investigates plot elements and clues. The latter are untimed sections where camera movement is confined to whichever location Date happens to be in while Aiba’s sections are limited to six minutes. Retrying Aiba’s more freeform portions can be done either from auto-saves, from certain spots by adding or subtracting time or by retrying if you get stuck on solutions and time expires.

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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: CRYSTAR (PS4)

Crystar PS4“Brilliantly depressing” is how I’d describe CRYSTAR ($59.99), Gemdrops Inc. and FURYU Corporation’s new Action/RPG published by Spike Chunsoft, but let’s not get too far ahead of things.

Rei Hatada and her little sister Mirai are pulled by a strange being into an odd dimension called Purgatory where violent creatures soon appear to attack the two. Rei manages to unleash a hidden power that gives her a powerful weapon and fancy costume, but she accidentally kills her kid sister during one battle. As she cries at losing her sibling, two oddly garbed female demon twins appear and make her an offer she can’t refuse. Become an Executor for the twins and kill enough demons in Purgatory in order to gather enough Idea (tears) to save Mirai’s soul before it descends too deep and gets reborn as a completely different person. You get one guess as to Rei’s decision.

Thus, the downward spiral begins in a game that will hit home hard for some players thanks to its assorted mostly gloomy thematic elements and a story that has a few surprises tucked into its narrative. Thankfully, while a tad (okay, very) downbeat at times, the game is gorgeous to look at. Illustrator RIUICHI’s work was lovingly translated into 3D characters by Character Designer & Modeling Lead ntny and the game also features an outstanding score from composer Sakuzyo that’s worth a listen.

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Wake up, time to cry. And you thought you had issues. Rei’s literally surrounded by her and her slain foes mental status, even during dungeon diving.

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Review: Solo: Islands of the Heart (PS4)

solo ps4Gotham Games new jam Solo: Islands of the Heart ($19.99) is an intriguing and lovely to look at mix of exploration and puzzle solving that just so happens to get you thinking about your love life from the past into whatever possibilities the future holds. While the prospect of ruminating over old romances as well as any potential future ones may seem a wee bit too personal to some, that’s one of the funnier things about the project if you think about it. Sure, you can take the questions too personally and maybe get uncomfortable about a few. That’s human nature at work. Or hell, you can just decide right off the bat to go full tilt and lie away (also human nature) just to see what sort of responses the game gives back.

As you make your way through the game, you’re tasked with solving simple to slightly more complex multi-part puzzles that involve a bit of box pushing with some flipping and rotating necessary to gain access to higher areas. There are also odd animals to meet and treat to certain foods, pet, or otherwise attend to. The game doesn’t explain a lot other than some basic steps needed to progress, but this works out well when you’re forced to think through a few steps that are keeping you from accessing a new part of the map. That said, there’s a very relaxing tone here that makes for a very chill experience when all is said and done. If you want to just take selfies or nice pics of the different islands, play a guitar and aimlessly wander about, that’s your call entirely. But dip a toe into the game proper, please. You’ll likely learn a few things or at least get a new outlook on a relationship you hadn’t considered. Or maybe have, but need a poke in the noggin to jog a good or bad memory.

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Ce n’est pas un pont, to get all Magritte on you.

Er, except the trailer kicks off with a rather useless rating for “Sexual Themes” when the game is about as or sexual as a box of laundry detergent. Well, unless boxes of laundry detergent is a turn on for you. Clearly, the ESRB needs to redefine its ratings descriptors. Perhaps something like “Mature Themes” would have been more applicable here. Of course, a penny says someone at the board would likely note that using the word “Mature” may lead some to think the game should be “M” rated or some such nonsense. Eh, go look at all the sexual in this trailer:

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