VERTIGO As A Game Has My Head Spinning

So this one’s got me divided upstairs but here goes. Microids and veteran adventure game developer Pendulo Studios (Runaway, Yesterday Origins, Blacksad: Under the Skin…) are in the midst of making Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, which is set to launch at the end of the year on PC (Steam), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One consoles and Nintendo Switch. Here’s the first teaser trailer below. No actual gameplay footage is shown, so I take it the developer is taking the whole “master of suspense” thing to a whole new level, ha and ha:


While the plot is completely different, the game will, according to the developer stay close to its source material:

Of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s movie was a major inspiration source, whether it’s about the game’s themes, its narration, or even the visual techniques we used that clearly mirror Hitchcock’s recurrent cinematographic techniques” explains Josué Monchan, Narrative Designer at Pendulo Studios. “Vertigo is not our only frame of reference. For instance, the fact that therapy is at the core of the narrative echoes Spellbound, and some characters resemble protagonists from Rebecca, Psycho, and many more.”

As for the story, Writer Ed Miller came out unscathed from his car crash down into Brody Canyon, California. Even though no one was found inside the car wreckage, Ed insists that he was traveling with his wife and daughter. Traumatized by this event, he begins to suffer from severe vertigo. As he starts therapy, he will try to uncover what really happened on that tragic day.

Game features

  • An exclusive, original story about obsession, memory, manipulation and madness, freely inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo
  • Live a powerful narrative experience paying tribute to the visual and storytelling techniques of the thriller genre
  • Investigate through the vision of three characters: everyone has a different story to tell
  • Explore several timelines to cross-check the events and separate reality from deceptive memories

Prepare yourself for a disturbing investigation inside the human mind: the truth is sometimes worse than madness…

Of course, as a longtime Hitchcock Hitchcock fan, I want this to work on every level. So I’ll wait for the final version to ship and not get all Psycho or go into a Frenzy over what little info we have so far. Fingers crossed. -GW

Review: Ord. (PS4)

From ever-busy publisher Ratalaika games and indie developer Mujo Games comes Ord.($4.99), a minimalist adventure game that tells its short stories three words at a time. Split into five tales with a bit of replay value in each (Quest, Dimensions, World, Foul Things and Heist), the game will also have you brain filling in most of its visuals. It’s also part memory test in that there’s a Groundhog Day-like loop to overcome where choosing certain answers won’t advance the story, but instead, send you back to choose differently.

zzzzzzzz

That said, there are no “wrong” answers here. In fact, choosing every option will lead to some surprises and abrupt (sometimes fatal) endings. The minimalist thing in taken to extremes here on both the visual and aural fronts. Other than the title screen, visuals are just text on a black background with some stylistic touches like thunder, lightning, rain, a bit of fog and yes, you’ll want to have a drink in the tavern just to see the blurred result. For me, the sole flaw here in there’s no story tracker, so on a replay, you may get temporarily stuck (a notepad will come in handy here). Playing the game through once won’t take long and those trophies drop pretty quickly once you get rolling.

Overall, Ord. is a pretty decent and nicely experimental bit of fun. Ratalaika’s been on a roll lately with more hits than misses of late. So I’ll have to get to covering more on their interesting titles from it’s rather intriguing lineup shortly.

-GW

Review: Cosmic Top Secret (PS4)

this one’s something else…

Indie publisher nakana io’s latest, Cosmic Top Secret ($9.99, multiplatform) just might be one of the best surprises of 2021.Part historical document, part adventure with a detour into a bit of mystery, the game tells the gripping tale of Trine Laier, or “T” as she goes by in the game as she tries to uncover just what her parents did during the Cold War. Fascinating and supremely surreal, the game is compelling from start to finish and would even make a pretty good true spy film, intentionally goggle-eyed protagonist and all. But don’t take my word for it- take a look at this gameplay:

There are puzzles to solve, loads of clues to gather and enough intrigue here to keep your brain and fingers busy. T navigates the environments by transforming into a paper ball and rolling about. You’ll also need to master a bit of jumping,. which comes in handy when you get stuck and later on you can transform into a plane, which has it’s own uses you’ll discover. The game also had you collect all sorts of specific secrets T needs to unlock other secrets, all while trying her best to get her dad to tell her about the past. Have another trailer, folks:

The visual style is both striking and genius, especially the more humorous aspects found in the work. Early on, you’re told how to skip text using a very lengthy explanation on the Cold War. The game helps out here by cutting off the lengthy text with something like a “Blah, blah, you can find this stuff on the internet” quote. Dossiers and a few machines are used to break codes but a few of the puzzles and some of the trickier movement areas may stump players temporarily. T can also toss grenades and later smoke bombs to find certain secrets, but that can be a bit imprecise until you nail that task perfectly. Also, that sequence with the angry buzzard in one level can be irksome if you roll off the path and fall a few times. Progress is auto-saved at certain points, but you’ll want to manually save from time to time (just in case…). Th game can be completed in around eight hours or so and it’s time well spent because you’ll come away quite impressed at what you learned. I know I certainly was.

Yes, indeed it is!

The really cool thing here is you don’t need a pricey console to play this on as the game is also available on Google Play and the App Store, so you can enjoy this on your even more overpriced phone or tablet, ha and ha. As a exercise in storytelling, the game excels on a few fronts and the overall experience is one that will stick with you for a while. Highly recommended, of course.

-GW

Review: Demon’s Tier (PS4/Vita)

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Instructions for real life, as well.

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Nostalgic is the good word here.

The latest pairing from COWCAT and Diabolical Mind, Demon’s Tier+ ($9.99, buy it!) is an excellent example of a really good game that got much better with a slew of quality of life improvements. While the game follows a clear Gauntlet meets Diablo style of play, a strict time limit and intense difficulty combined with randomly generated levels make for quite the thrilling, replayable ride.

This isn’t a simple “one and done” trophy hunt at all. Rather, the game is an equal to Diabolical Minds’ other retro-inspired pixel-packed releases, Riddled Corpses EX and Xenon Valkyrie+, two other solo or  two player co-op team-ups worth a look. It almost feels like the developer has captured a trio of long lost late 80’s arcade machines in these three titles, all of which demand practice and patience to master, just like the old days.

Story:

Thosgar, a hated king attracted by demonic rituals, turned into a dark and diabolical being… destroying almost all of humanity and flooding the world with monsters. This story became a legend and peace returned to the land.

A thousand years later, a mysterious pit appears in a village after a huge earthquake where an evil aura emanates from…

Will you be the hero to save this world?

Don’t you hate it when that happens? Well, good. Grab your PS4 controller or Vita, and let’s send those demons back to where they came from, pronto.

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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

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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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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