Super Neptunia RPG: Cool Canadians Bakin’ Up A Hot JRPG? Yep, Nep!

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Out on PC via Steam last week and coming to PS2 and Switch June 25 in North America (the 28th in EU territories), Super Neptunia RPG is coming from an interesting combination of forces. Japan’s Idea Factory and Compile Heart worked with Canada’s Artisan Studios to bring Nep fans an all-new game in the long-running series and the very first side-scrolling entry, to boot. As a fan of the series since the PS3 days, I’m quite intrigued by this one and the opening movie has sealed the deal that this *must* be played:

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Review: Riverbond (PS4)

Riverbond boxIn this era of big deal brutal difficulty in games where progress is sometimes measured in thrown controllers, assorted creative swearing and online rage posts (among other negative things) Canadian developer Cocucumber’s simpler, pure fun to play Riverbond ($24.99) is a rare bird indeed. In solo mode, it’s barely mildly tough at times, but the average player should have little trouble getting through its eight nicely-sized maps without blowing a fuse. In co-op, up to four players can have at it in front of the TV and have a total blast beating up enemies and bosses while packed together on the couch or sitting more comfortably on some other furniture. There’s no online mode here, so the game’s old school feel demands you play old school as well.

Which, by the way is a great thing especially if you’re into family friendly entertainment and love super-colorful voxel graphics with a bit of environmental destruction tossed into the mix. Oh, and lots of character skins including eight from a few very cool mostly indie-made games. For all the bloodless hacking, slashing and shooting going on, the game just exudes a completely… nice vibe that’s too charming to pass up. I think there’s also a polite Canadian thing going on (well, all of the Canadians I know are pretty polite), but whatever it is, I do like it quite a lot.

Here’s the tutorial, by the way:

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Riverbond: A Little Big E3 Surprise For You

Brand new games dropping as surprise releases during E3 isn’t anything new, but Cococucumber’s immediately charming Riverbond ($24.99, PS4/PC/Xbox One – OUT NOW!) made me smile a lot and post that trailer on Twitter with the words CUTE. and WANT because it just jumped right out and bit me on the knee with what looks like a really fun dungeon crawler with nifty voxel-based visuals, destuctible environments, and what sounds like a killer soundtrack. Oh, and it has Raz from Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2 in it as a character skin (along with a few other indie fan fave guest stars), so there’s that to consider. Guess who’s not at E3 this year (but still has a busy week ahead) and would just love to get his paws on this game? No, not that person over there (Hwy, put your hand down, pal!). ME.

Well a request has been put in and we shall see what happens.  This sure looks like a ton of fun, right? Back in a bit – Yeah, yeah, there’s a LOT of news coming out of LA about cool games, but I’m rolling stuff out as I see fit because my stress level is already bubbling up about other (non-game) things.

-GW

Gallery: Kings of Lorn – The Fall of Ebris

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Keep an eye on this one…

E3 isn’t for a few more days and while I won’t be attending this year, I’ve already found a game I’m dying to play. Wyoming-based TeamKill Media‘s “first-person dark-fantasy survival-horror” game Kings of Lorn – The Fall of Ebris is headed to PC. PS4, and Xbox One in September, and as soon as I saw those screenshots and more importantly, some gameplay footage and the E3 trailer, this jumped way up into Games to Watch status. If you’re ancient enough to recall FromSoftware’s classic King’s Field games, prepare to be floored as this new Kings will set your spines to shivering – take a look at a ton of screens and see for yourselves:

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Here’s the game’s E3 trailer in all its bleak Unreal-powered glory:

As far as gameplay goes, while this footage is from almost a year ago, if the final build sticks to some what’s here in terms of gameplay, there’s going to be a a nice level of accessibility that opens the game up to more players. That said, I’d also gather that difficulty will either be player chosen via options or something that allows for those with lower skill levels to at least hop in and learn the ropes early on and not fall prey to low level enemies turning them into kibble less than three minutes in.

As usual, we shall see how TeamKill tackles that important part of their game, but no matter which rouet they choose, this game looks depressingly grand and ambitions enough that I’ll be seeing it through to the very end. I’m absolutely not expecting a sunny finale at all, but a few shocks and surprises along the demons, dragons and other foes as the game progresses? Yeah, that’s going to make this a game that will get a prime spot in the play stack and a few replays while it’s there.

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-GW

 

 

Review: Warhammer Chaosbane – Magnus Edition (PS4)

WHC_PS4While not without its minor flaws (which can be patched in future updates), Warhammer Chaosbane ($59.99) is a solid and worthy ARPG genre fans should absolutely take for a spin. EKO Studios has cooked up a pretty addictive game that, once you’re hooked into it, delivers exactly what it intends and does it well enough that some if its issues can be overlooked thanks to the core gameplay, which works even better in co-op if you’ve a few friends to play with.

As a solo experience, it’s also quite entertaining, with a sort of Dungeons & Dragons Heroes vibe (as in longish levels and plenty of tough foes to vanquish when you go it alone). Okay, so it’s more or less a Warhammer version of the original Diablo, but this ends up being an excellent thing overall thanks to ten difficulty levels that mean you’ll never get to say this game is too easy if you’re at all serious. With the extra modes (Expedition, Boss Rush, Relic Hunt) and the developer planning more free and paid content in the future including at least one additional chapter expansion pack and a load of bonuses, this one’s going to be an evergreen game for ARPG fans who want more of what it delivers.

I noted Diablo over Diablo III because to me, EKO seems to have wisely went back to the grimmer version of Blizzard’s classic over the more colorful (yet still quite grim) third installment. Despite the repetition in layouts and static level art, there’s a gritty, nasty vibe in the first two chapters that feature either gloomy sewer maps or a ravaged village packed with kill-crazy demons of a few varieties. The third chapter’s outdoor map, a forest area full of deadly creatures, almost looks too clean, but the somewhat linear library maps with their menacing vibe more than make up for that flaw. That said, the fourth chapter knocks it out of the park with what I’ll describe as the world’s richest kid’s brand-spanking *new* dungeon play set, Deluxe Version. in other words, I love this map, folks:

Where the other maps tend to have a static look to them despite a few destructible barrels and such, Here you get a sort of Castle Grayskull maze dungeon on steroids with stone, shiny metal of a few types and gracefully writhing tentacles all vying for attention with the fiercest enemies in the game outside the main bosses. Although the game ends up reusing one re-lit familiar setting for that final push to the end boss, that final fight is set in a wildly ornate (albeit tiny) arena where you’ll need to be fast and determined to take down a pretty dangerous foe (Protip: don’t die!).

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Dying during a boss fight allows you to start from the beginning, which is a better alternative that quitting and replaying a map. Interestingly enough, on my first play, the game crashed during the last boss fight after I died twice, but when I fired up the game again, I was surprised that I was able to continue from the beginning of the battle with no penalty.  The hilarious thing was I did beat the boss on that last try with a measly 12 HP left. I thought I was a goner as the boss was about to lay down a hit, but it died and I nearly died myself from thinking I’d made it that far only to have to try again.

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Endgame Plans – Big News For Those Wanting More

I’m currently playing through the PS4 version of Warhammer: Chaosbane for review and yes indeed, developer EKO Studios and publisher Bigben Interactive have big plans for even more content for the upcoming ARPG in terms of free and paid additions. Check out the video above for the roadmap and go get your controllers warmed up for the game’s release date(s) of May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions (pre-purchasers get early access to the game) and June 4 for the Standard Edition.

-GW

Death Stranding Trailer: Lurking With Appreciation

So yeah, I’m not at all obsessing over Hideo Kojima’s new game project at all. Not because I’m not excited about Death Stranding (because I am). But it’s a very quiet excitement from me because I knew from the announcement a few years ago that this was going to something truly special from a few angles. From the stunning visuals to wherever the story will lead, as Kojima’s narratives tend to be entertainingly bizarre but purposefully so (past the offbeat touches some players will focus solely on). Nope, I’m just quietly avoiding news and speculation on everything so I can go in cold and play at my own pace, savoring every moment without relying on the internet to ruin my enjoyment.

Hell, I didn’t even watch that trailer above until I decided to run this post and even then, I just smiled that certain way I tend to when I see a project like this creeping towards its release date with that certain assurance that comes from a creative team that’s in sync on a project they have full control over. I can’t wait to play this, but ssssh… don’t tell Mr. Kojima I sad this. Shhhh!

-GW

Warhammer Chaosbane Story Trailer: Tales, Neatly Bundled, Please

Those who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane will be getting an early tasting when the game rolls out and beginning May 31st for PC and console pre-purchasers of the Magnus Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition, while others will need to hold out for the Standard Editions for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that will be available on June 4th, 2019. Those who played that beta will see that this story trailer slightly resembles the one each of the playable characters gets when their respective stories are started and this ties the overall experience together nicely, I’d say.

A week or so may not seem like a long time, but it sure is an eternity when you’re lurking in front of your mailbox for a physical copy or lurking around on a digital store for a pre-load to kick in. Go do something else if that’s your particular case, as the game won’t at all mind you getting distracted by stuff before it launches.

-GW

Review: Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)

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Well, that took a while, didn’t it?

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There guys are new and quite a pain in the butt to fight. You’ll see (and how!)…

For me, an Earth Defense Force game is a particularly tricky review because despite the many similarities in each entry, the series has actually evolved over 16 years (yes, evolved!) into a game where you can choose a single character and dive in deep to uncover their rather massive set of weapons as you play through the different difficulties. While on the surface, Earth Defense Force 5 is a thrilling yet simplistic chunk of game to sink into, there’s a nice level of complexity in regards to how to approach missions in either single player, co-op, or online modes that makes if a fresh experience through multiple replays.

For many players, the easy to use all-rounder Ranger will be their initial pick, but I strongly suggest using Wing Diver for her air superiority and ability to snag more pickups than any other class. Or, you can play as each hero in any order, learning their unique skills (the Fencer and Air Raider require a bit of patience to master) as you challenge those aliens out to overrun the planet for the umpteenth time. It’s your call, and with 110 missions to tackle (not including DLC content), this isn’t a short game by any means.

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Going in solo? Expect to learn a lot about how your chosen class plays and put it into practice, or you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also the first EDF game with a proper (albeit awkward) tutorial for all four classes. It’s unskippable on your first play with any character even if you’re an EDF veteran, but it’s nice to see developer Sandlot make the game a lot more welcoming to new EDF recruits. For those new players, I’d recommend playing through each character’s tutorial just to see which one fits your play style and mess with “farming” a few missions to increase your arsenal. Of course, you can swap between characters between missions if you like, or stick with one for the entire campaign. Couch co-op play is supported via split screen in case you have an extra controller and a pal willing to dive in and get some bug and ‘bot blasting on.

Here’s a look at the Wing Diver intro level (all the EDF 5 videos in this review save for the official trailer are of me playing and there are quite a lot more of them on my YouTube channel, if you’re interested).

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Review: Dark Quest II (PS4)

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Nostalgia alert: This one’s great stuff.

You’d best believe I uttered out loud (to no one in particular) “Wait, there’s a Dark Quest I out there somewhere?” as soon as that email I recently received about Dark Quest II ($14.99) landed in my inbox. I took a look at the brief trailer on YouTube and yes indeed, put in a code request because all sorts of nostalgic switches were flipping in my brain.  A few days of playing this later and I’m very pleased developer Brain Seal Ltd took the time to craft this hard to put down throwback of a keeper.

If you’ve been around the RPG block for any decent length of time, you know the drill: Evil sorcerer doing evil things socked away in his castle, a hero strolls up to the gates, yadda, yadda, yadda – you’re in deep dungeon doo-doo, make new allies along the way and it’s a fight to the finish against that mad magician and his kill-crazy minions. Granted, this game will be a hard sell to some stubborn ones out there who think console or PC RPGs started sometime in the 90’s or early 2000’s, or who’ve never played either classic Dungeons and Dragons, the old board game HeroQuest, or Hero Quest II: Legacy of Sorasil on the Amiga.  DQII wraps these three influences together, adds in some lovely artwork and ties everything together with an appropriately nifty audio experience that seals the deal.  The stripped-down to the basics gameplay here had me grinning through surviving encounters by a hair and even relishing a defeat or three just so I could retry a quest and try new strategies to win.

For players new to this particular style of game, you’ll need to be aware of a few things such as despite the isometric viewpoint this isn’t a “Diablo-style” chase ‘n chop nor any sort of action/RPG in that vein. Combat is turn-based and there’s an invisible sort of dice roll happening where you and your enemies will hit or miss attacks based on a few factors such as active or passive skills and potion use. You can take your time while playing this, as enemies will patiently wait for you to act and yes, this also means when you’re in a room packed full of them, you’ll likely be attacked one by one as their turns roll up.

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