Review: Nun Massacre (PS4/PS5)

As I pressed the Purchase button to get my copy of Nun Massacre ($5.99), I said aloud to no one in particular “I don’t know why I do this to myself”, something I tend to do whenever I buy a horror-themed game. Yes, games like this have me talking to myself frequently (and somewhat nervously). Indie developer Puppet Combo has been making short PS1-style horror games for PC gamers since 2013 and they’ve finally gotten two of them on home consoles (Murder House is the other one). Basically, this is a short, frequently scary and always tense blend of exploration, stealth and puzzle action where you’re trapped in a rundown school with a knife-wielding nun trying (and at many times, succeeding) to violently do you in. There’s a story here told through notes you’ll find all over the place. But you’ll probably be too freaked out to read through all of them, what with that nun popping up at the most inopportune moments. Just keep telling yourself “It’s only a game, It’s only a game…”

Or: Force of Habit, I suppose.

The game got a recent update a few days ago and is now a “definitive” version which adds some new game modes, rooms and new killers to avoid. But you’ll have to survive one play though to unlock some of those options, which will be a pretty harrowing experience. There are video settings to adjust (VCR, PSX, Black and White), the game has a “Nun Tracking” mode that adds VCR like tracking “noise” to the game when the Nun is in the area (a must on your first play) and the game even comically warns you to play only once a day and play as your life depends on it, which is worthy of a chuckle. I mean how scary can this game be, right?

RIGHT??

Next to Nun in the horror genre, ha-ha (STABBY, STAB, STAB!)

Yeah, WRONG. In other words, you’ll be inventing new swear words every few seconds as the tension steadily ratchets up. This is totally old school with NO mid-game or auto save system to fall back on and few choices except running and attempting to hide from that nun, which means if when you die you start over from the beginning each time. While intensely frustrating, you end up recalling where items are located and can survive a few minutes longer before your certain doom. The Nun’s location can indeed be randomized if you want to put yourself into cardiac arrest even faster, so try not to do that on the first run. Oh, there are deadly traps here as well, such as the razor wire you’ll blunder into at one point, which is straight out of Suspira and yes, that Nun pops up while you’re stuck and gets quite stabby.

Amusingly enough, there’s a way to play this as “None” Massacre (my title) where you can explore the game’s room without a nun attack. But I was so wound up by the main game that I didn’t trust this mode to not freak me out somehow, even with jump scares shut off. Turns out I was right (you’ll see). The overall length of this may turn off some players, at it’ll take maybe 30-45 minutes to get through one time, if you move quickly, don’t panic (too much) and use the items you find in the right spots. That said, the game is meant to scare the living hell out of you and I can see some players being turned off by this plus some of the intentional flaws here. By the way, that sound effect when you encounter the nun is like every scream in every horror flick ever made heard all at once, but played by a factory full of alarm clocks. Yikes and turn it down on the options screen before you fire this up or you’ll wake a few dogs in the neighborhood.

It took about two and a half hours to finish on my first time through, and that was with some dumb luck more than skill on my part. Yes, another few plays is required here to unlock more secrets, but not for a while in my case. I’m starting to see nuns when I sleep and they’re not waving around wooden rulers either. Highly recommended, but not at all for the faint of heart. I’m working up the nerve to play again, but I just may attempt to survive Murder House first (maybe).

-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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Presents of Mind II: Some Gifts Just Speak for Themselves

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Uh, would you like something to eat, game?

…And some gifts just sit right down on the nearest loveseat when they walk out of the box. Yikes. I saw this Death Stranding Collector’s Edition on sale at a local shop when I was poking around on ebay listing a few games I’m selling and yes, the price was right, so I bought one. The shop actually wasn’t the lowest priced one I saw, but Best Buy RAISED their crazy low price of $89.99 before I could buy it. I literally slept on the deal and thought about it, decided it was a go the next morning, but I was surprised to see them jack the price back up up to only $30 off the original 199.99 MSRP. Oh well. Adorama, you have my thanks for keeping your deal where even with tax, I made out all right and got free shipping in the process. Oh, and a LOT or air packing bags in the rather huge box, too.

I still need to find time to play this, but with a copy now on hand, it’ll happen sooner than later. Actually, I need to find a space for the box as it’s so huge, it takes up more room than I thought it would. At least Sony put the steelbook right on top so when the box in opened, it’s separate from the other goodies inside. Back in a bit – I need to go find out where I’m going to put this thing.

-GW

That PS5 Reveal Made Me Hungry

(Thanks. PlayStation!)

So yeah. The PS4 looks like an overstuffed fancy sandwich on Wonder Bread, there’s no way to get around it. Well, it also looks like it can hold the Eye of Sauron when it’s standing upright, or it looks like a building in a big city (Dubal, as a friend suggested). No price was revealed for either the disc-based or digital-only model, but the disc-based model I’m looking as as we speak also looks like it’s about three months pregnant and showing. Fortunately, it can lie on its side. where it looks like an over-baked pastry still three months pregnant:

PS5 on side

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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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Review: Guard Duty (PS4)

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Oh, this is the same game, alright…

guard duty PS4Ratalaika Games has been pretty much killing it lately in terms of quietly porting and publishing little indie games that sometimes pack in a few surprises despite the low budget price points. While there’s a core group of fans who snap up most of these games for fast trophies, once in a while there comes something that’s worth a second look because it taps the right vein in the right place and is more than a simple trophy hunt you can rush through in an hour or so. Welcome to Sick Chicken Studios’ Guard Duty ($9.99, Cross-Buy with PS Vita!), folks.

This is a fantastic albeit brief homage to old computer games from the mid-80’s and the 1990’s and absolutely nails that aesthetic to a T with perfect stylized pixel art and animation, some hilarious (and fully voiced) writing and solid point & click gameplay. There’s a plot that blends in medieval and futuristic elements really well, but I’ll not spoil that for you here as the story works best this way. After an intro that teases that medieval and future melding, we meet Tondbert, loyal Guard to the Castle of Wrinklewood. He’s having a bad day that started the night before as he was stupid drunk while on duty and let a odd stranger into the village, which has led to the Princess being kidnapped. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

(Thanks, PlayStation!)

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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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Review: Daymare 1998 (PS4)

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This is not the “Shall We Dance?” number from The King and I, by the way. Halp!!

DaymereWhile it’s not trying to completely reinvent the wheel (I mean, come on, look at the title!), a few very cool modern elements seep into Invader Studios’ and publisher Destructive Creations’ homage to Capcom’s much beloved Resident Evil series as well as genre films of the 90’s, Daymare 1998 ($39.99) that make it work despite the game sometimes working against the player. Assorted undead-like creeps, puzzles galore, and plenty of tense thrills are all here for those who like the survival horror genre, and while boss fights against too bullet-spongy enemies can be a pain, overall, I found the game quite nostalgic and appealing, warts and all.

First and foremost, some of the controls are needlessly complicated. There’s a basic walk (Left Analog) and light jog (L1) for its heroes, but running flat out requires stamina and pressing/holding two buttons and you can only sprint for a brief time before that stamina depletes. Reloading has what, three modes? Granted, there’s a neat touch of realism in the optional the need to load ammo into clips, then clips into guns. But it also adds a bit too much tension in areas with multiple monsters lurking and the need to switch weapons out in a fast way (there’s a human-like delay here and not a game-like rapid switch). Oddly, boss fights just cough up spare ammo clips for you because trying to search for empty clips and spare ammo during them would be too brutal.

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“Knock-Knock…” Uh, there’s no door, pal – just some room to RUN LIKE HELL.

The Dick Tracy-style system device worn on one wrist is nice looking and all, but can get a little too complicated if you don’t take time to check out all the things you can do with item combinations and get with the crafting. Being very methodical helps here, as well as realizing the game’s throwback nature means it’s going to feel a bit intentionally dated in some aspects, like the arcane save system (there’s no save anywhere feature). Well, if you hoard too much, there are also item boxes located in the darndest places that can force a bit of paranoid backtracking if you suddenly realize you might need space for something extra along your route or need to drop items but want to store them. Okay, perhaps that’s more my hoarding nature in games, but you know what I mean.

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Review: OVERPASS (PS4)

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Grandma needs to move to a place less hard to get to…

overpass ps4There are a couple of ways to play Zordix Racing’s super challenging and very (very) methodical off-road game OVERPASS ($59.99). You can go into all the tutorials and learn the ropes, failing and retrying as you go, then hit the Career Mode’s many racing events in a few ways, earning sponsors, a team to manage along with race-earned cash to repair rides and purchase plenty of gear and upgrades. You can just hop into Quick Race, Custom Race, or hotseat-based Multiplayer and play on an assortment of tracks with any ride, learning as you play. Or, you can just mix in all the game modes and get an extreme and extremely lengthy experience that’s part driving sim and part puzzle game where you’ll need to successfully navigate some deviously designed courses that will test your skills and patience.

The game could use some patching to fix a few bugs with the physics and free up camera control (holding R3 down to look around is a pain), but even still, a warning comes for casual players: it’s definitely not for everyone, especially those expecting something purely arcade-like. This definitely isn’t a Motorstorm or Baja: Edge of Control despite its announcer’s twangy voice and a bit of genetic soundtrack action. When you approach the game from a simulation aspect, it’s a lot more enjoyable, although as they say, your mileage may vary when all is said and done. There’s definitely a LOT of game here for that money, although the day one DLC might be a bit of a pesky bit of business for some players resistant to that sort of thing.

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“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

 

Of the two disciplines, the assorted buggies are the most fun to drive here, especially once you get a few upgrades and start fiddling with crafting the fastest and better handling rides. You’ll need to try and damage your rides as little as possible in Career, as repairs stack up and get costly, affecting performance to often great degrees if you don’t repair. Quads are a totally difficult thing to get used to throughout as you need to control the driver as much as the vehicle here, adjusting his or her body on the fly lest you go tumbling down a slope or over a steep hill. The unforgiving nature of the physics here means you’ll feel as if a stiff wind could send your driver flying off that ride, but they’ll fall off before the wind starts blowing anyway. This is clearly NOT a game about stunts and flashy moves and it doesn’t pretend to be. Add in the manual transmission options if you like, and parts of the game get really teeth-gnashing even when you get better at them.

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