Modus Operandi: Getting Games Out When They’re Good and Ready

While they’re not a household name yet (but they should be), publisher Modus Games has a number of current and upcoming titles that should please those looking for a bit of variety in their gaming lives. From the return of the Trine series to its side-scrolling origins to three new (or new-ish n one case) IP set to arrive on the scene between this year and 2020, all four games I saw at their press event in NYC were looking great and are well worth waiting for.

ary-logo-colorAry and the Secret of Seasons (in development, PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One)- My first stop was a game with an intro trailer had me laughing out loud for a few minutes because it hit my particularly oddball sense of humor right in the sweet spot. It turns out the game in question is actually a bit more serious in tone yet looking like quite a blast to play. Co-developed by eXiin and Fishing Cactus using the versatile Unity engine, the game intentionally recalls classic mascot character action games of the 90’s and early 2000’s with what’s looking like a strong emphasis on both story and gameplay.

While the demo wasn’t a hands-on one, watching Ary get put through her paces by eXiin’s Sébastien Le Touze kept me smiling constantly. Her season controlling powers allowed for some great puzzle-solving solutions as well as some thrilling combat moments and yes. those powers sure looked great in motion as they affected the environments around then in real time. The ability to change the weather in an area to rainy meant lightning zapping those pesky hyenas or ice hindering them briefly while Ary’s slingshot and sword skills knocked them for a few loops. Granted, the demo had all her powers unlocked at the start, but that was simply to show how versatile she’ll become as the adventure progresses.

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The aforementioned puzzles can be solved in a few creative ways such as creating a large bubble of water to hop into and swim up to a high spot in order to flip a switch, or temporarily freezing an object or obstacle in order to pass safely before you free it and let it take out some baddies. Combining season powers is also key to some areas and Le Touze certainly did a stellar job in showing off what Ary could do. While it’s not set to launch until 2020, it’s a sure bet to be on quite a few watch and want lists, mine included.  If and when eXiin can get a demo of some sort up for everything this will appear on, I’m betting the game will find quite a few more eager fans ready to explore its pretty game world.

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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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Capsule Reviews: Ratalaika Ravings (1 of 2)

I’m at that point in my gaming life where I’m really appreciating all the shorter indie games I get codes for simply because most of these titles are a blast to play and have a bit of replay value in cases where you’re hooked in and don’t mind having at it a few more times with a game you’ve enjoyed. Anyway, the fine folks at Ratalaika Games have been really great at dropping some fine budget titles that range from great to surprisingly good, so here are a few you may want to take for a spin:

metagal-squareboxart-01-ps4METAGAL ($4.99, PS4/PS Vita – Cross-Buy, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One): Or, MEGA MA’AM, if you like. Indie developer RETRORevolution’s cool little game is a nicely crafted mash note to Capcom’s classic hard as nails franchise, and while it’s not in the same class as as that long-running series, it makes a good enough impression that I’d love to see some sort of followup down the road.

The game has fun with its references and that titular character has a few amusing lines that keep the experience light and airy through the mildly to major challenges you’ll face. Character design and the overall artwork are stellar stuff, recalling the 16-bit MM titles, while level design is a bit of hit and miss. Well, you’ll be missing a few jumps here and there and taking hits thanks to faith-leaping and some enemy placement that assures you take those hits and like them (slap!), but that’s par for the course in the platforming game, folks.

As with a MM game, you can choose to play in a linear fashion or hop around, taking on the eight stages as you see fit. Sounds and music are also appropriately retro, so expect to get a grin going throughout this one every time you fire it up. I’ll gripe here about not being able to shoot up while climbing and the too easy to nab Trophies, but overall this one is a nicely priced budget gem that deserves a Buster Shot recommendation when all’s said and done.

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(sings) “What goes up, must come down…”

Score: C+ (75%)

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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

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain – 13 Days ‘Til The Worldwide Airdrop

This latest trailer for EDFIR is pretty goofball stuff, but definitely enjoy it for what it is. Of course, you can check out a more “serious” trailer and a nice set of screenshots on the PlayStation Store page (and pre-order the Standard or Ultimate digital edition of game if you like). Everything is shaping up to be the most epic entry in the long-running series to date and yes, that worldwide release insures EDF fans everywhere can play together or alone and not feel left out of the action.

Oh, for the record, I’m finally finishing up my Earth Defense Force 5 review (yeah, it took a while thanks to the ridiculous amount of content in the game, but that’s show biz, folks!) and should have it up over the weekend. Pop back in and see if it’s a total blast of a game more folks need to jump on (spoiler: it most certainly is).

-GW

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid Punches Way Onto Consoles, PC

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Eep. Just looking at this image had that original main theme song popping into my head. Where’s my Geritol?

Man, I Feel Really Old, Volume XVIII: Developer nWay, coming off its success with the mobile game Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is doing it up again for fans of the long-running series with an all-new game, Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid ($19.99, Standard Edition, $39.99, Digital Collector’s Edition), out now for PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch with a PS4 version dropping shortly. Take a look at the trailer and sure, go get the kids and gather around the screen if you like. I think if they’re fans, they’ll be quite pleased:

So, what’s in that download, you ask? Well, look below the jump and find out, I say.

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Outward: Out Now, Expect Toughness Ahead

Outward boxIf you think most modern RPG are either too easy or rely too much on guiding the player almost nearly everywhere, developer Nine Dots Studio and publisher Deep Silver have a game that will be right up your alley. OUTWARD places you in the shoes of a normal adventure-bound type who’s out to pay off a debt in a dangerous land where you’ll need to be wholly prepared for every single encounter.

This mixture of survival game, action RPG and adventure seems to be geared for co-op play either offline or with a friend online, but stubborn ol’ me will have at it solo at least until I locate a reliable friend who also has a copy of this so we can hop in and play together. I’m expecting the experience will make for a fun and hard as hell trip into the brave new world of Aurai (which looks quite lovely rendered in Unity), and if the trailer below is any indication, I also think the game will gather a pretty loyal fan base as word of mouth spreads.

We’re going to get in some play time with this one soon and report back a few impressions. When it comes to combat and general gameplay, I tend to be overly cautious when I play a new RPG as playing every one the same way tends to not work out at all. So I’ll try hard to not die (too much) as I learn the ropes. Back in bit with some wordier words on what’s looking like a completely challenging game.

-GW

 

Path of Exile Finally Arrives on PS4: Ethical F2P FTW

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It’s been a long road, but this will be a Path well worth traveling.

So, I’ve had Grinding Gear Games’ excellent free-to-play ARPG Path of Exile installed in my Steam account for a few years, but only put just over 11 hours into it before quitting cold. The reason for that was the game was so good that I really wanted to play it on a console and although I’d later discovered an Xbox One version was in the works, PS4 was and is my platform of choice (and yeah, I really couldn’t afford another new system). Finally, after a few delays (which weren’t at all disappointing to me because I knew the dev team would be adding in new content to keep the PS4 version up to date with the other versions), it’s here and yes, I’m in the process of downloading it.

PoE boxPoE’s more “ethical” approach to F2P means the game is yes, entirely free to play from the start to the endgame. Yes, additional storage space, cosmetic items that don’t affect gameplay and special character packs cost extra, but as far as I’ve seen and read, NOTHING makes the game a “pay to win” scheme.  Seven playable character classes and a skill tree that allows for an astounding amount of customization means any class you choose is going to be great once you grasp how deep your options are. As I’m a huge fan of isometric action/RPG games such as Diablo III, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, Victor Vran, and the like, there’s no doubt I’ll be playing PoE for quite some time.

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Ah, that comforting feel of the ol’ chase ‘n chop is still captivating stuff this old dude just loves.

Of course, that means ditching one of the other MMO’s I’ve been dinking around with, but that’s an easy choice to make when one is replacing a game that’s only OK with one that’s got much more of an immediate pull. Anyway, off to check on the status of that download and see how well this not quite new to me (but perhaps very new to you) game plays. I’m thinking it’ll be even better than I recall, so if you don’t hear from me after a while, don’t call out a search party, as I’ll likely be camping out at home, controller in hand.

-GW

 

 

Lost Ember: Making Mooneyes at This Great-Looking Game

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I’d been quietly following Mooneye Studios upcoming Lost Ember for a few years with the hope that the dev team would be taking their time to make an already gorgeous  game even more so. So this new trailer and actual launch date are making me really happy:

Lovely, isn’t it? Well, that July 19 release date for PC, PS4 and Xbox One is indeed a good thing, and with a Switch version also in the works, it’s safe to say about the only folks who might be a tad perturbed will be Mac and Linux die-hards who have to be a bit less grumpy unless their wants are taken care of. Anything is possible, so who knows what will happen in the future, I say. Go stick this one on your watch and wish lists, folks.

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A wolf whistle to the art team for such spectacular environments might not be a bad thing here.

– GW

Review: The Wizards – Enhanced Edition (PSVR)

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Yep, buy it.

BOOM. Carbon Studios has cooked up an absolutely incredible and fun VR experience in The Wizards: Enhanced Edition ($24.99), a game so immensely entertaining it’ll make you want to run out and buy a PS4 and PSVR setup just to play it. If you’ve already got that rig and are ready for the next instant classic… well, here you go.

Granted, there are a nice selection of other exceptional games for PSVR fans (Moss, Astro Bot, BattleZone and many more spring immediately to mind as must-owns). But as a huge fan of action/adventures with a fantasy setting (this isn’t quite a RPG despite having plenty of RPG inspired content), the game’s got that great “Just one more level!” pull to it that keeps you pushing forward with a rather huge grin on your headset-covered face. Well, an hour or so at a time if you’re not able to sit for long VR sessions and need to take breaks (I’m in that category, by the way).

As I haven’t played the PC version, going into the world of Meliora completely cold made for an even more thrilling time right out of the gate. Dual PS Move controllers in hands, the game does quite an excellent job at making you feel like a full on magic-slinging, monster mashing champ. While there’s likely going to be a bit of a learning curve for new players, for PSVR vets, the game excels at making you feel as if you’re in its solidly rendered environments with a level of immersion so great that even those glove-covered hands you’ll be casting and blasting with are pretty flawlessly animated. Once you learn how to time your spells and cast them properly, any initial frustrations will melt away (along with a few waves of weaker foes). Bosses are a challenge on a few fronts, but overall, this one’s a well-made chunk of entertainment. No new ground is broken here, but this comes recommended because it gets what it gets as right as can be every chance it gets.

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“You’ve got the touch… you’ve got the POWER!… ZZZAP!

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