Moons of Madness: It’s Not Made From Cheese, That’s for Sure

Funcom’s scary looking treat, Moons of Madness is out on PC for Halloween time (well, October 22nd, a week or so early), and there even a neat contest you can enter here with some frights to be had and awesome prizes to be won. But as good as it looks (and man, it looks really good), my poor backlog is telling me to wait for the console release in February 2020. It’s not that I don’t want to review it, mind you. In an effort to reduce my workload (and yep, stress level), I’ve decided to shift a few games to next year and while it’s a tough choice here, it’s also a good one at the end of the day, I think. I feel that a fresh review down the road gives a game like this a a nice boost if it’s one some console owners may have avoided because they haven’t a computer that can run it and might be keen on how it runs on their system of choice.

There’s also the chance that further optimization and any patches that a game needs will come to consoles that game a good-looking game such as this one even better (in terms of gameplay) as an overall experience. For the record, yes, I know the game might look less “perfect” as a console release. That said, the modern emphasis of graphics over gameplay with some makes no sense when a game manages to run fine and play well as a port (despite what one thinks about things like “perfect” resolution and the need to frequently tweak a PC to run things at optimum settings). “Blame the player AND the game”, as I heard an acquaintance say a few years back when a new PC game he’s bought was giving him grief when his driver-updated 3D card wasn’t capable to run a it without some figuring and fiddling.

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Review: Children of Morta (PS4)

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COM_cover“Outstanding” is the first word that springs to mind in Dead Mage and 11Bit Studios spectacular Children of Morta ($29.99), a game I didn’t want to stop playing. I dragged out the gameplay intentionally, clocking in about 25 hours in because between the lovely visuals, great action-packed gameplay, and often heart-tugging story here, I didn’t want to leave this gorgeous action/RPG’s world. Yes, it’s a slower paced story and some may think it’s heavy use of deliberately paced narrative and the narrator’s Bastion-like delivery slows the game down. But as someone who’s a reader of stories (and sometimes a teller of them when properly prompted) this didn’t bother me one bit. Besides, every game one plays need not be the same as another and the focus on family here is welcome for a change.

This is a game where sentiment is an important plot device, but the action is also well implemented and sometimes very challenging in a product that took five years to craft. Both the art and artistry on display are to be properly commended, so hats off to all involved in this. I got a digital code to review, but I’m surely and sorely tempted to buy this as a physical release just to have if it ever disappears from PSN for any reason. Yeah, I’d play this again even though it’s more or less a “one and done” game to some extent, but a great one worth checking out a few times for its randomly generated levels and some neat side missions (“Who’s a good puppy? You are!” is a hint I’ll give). I was thrilled by most of what’s here to definitely say I’d revisit it like a good novel because it works well as enough of a memorable visual and aural treat with a good story, to boot.

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Pixel perfection, plus the animation is always fantastic.

The Bergsons are a family that discovers a corrupting force has come to their land and fortunately, the spirit of adventure runs in the family. That we’re dealing with a tight-knit family where you can choose to play as a few classes is a fine touch and surprise, much better that the sometimes generic hero types (that too often have some form of amnesia) in RPGs. One fun thing here is the Bergsons have nicely normal names that seem dull, but I say that’s more the player than the game wanting to choose a “McHero” or original sounding name because they think it makes for a better experience. This game, for me works because no one person is the star – they’re all great and necessary characters here. Even the ones that seem a little strange in some areas (Lucy, I’m taking about you and that laughing of yours).

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Review: One Night Stand (PS4)

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“Back up for a sec. I did WHAT last night?”

ONS_boxShort and simple on the surface, Kinmoku and ever busy port-house and publisher Ratalaika Games present a nifty little surprise in the form of One Night Stand, ($4.99) a game practically guaranteed to tee some prudish or easily triggered folks off (such as those expecting the usual trophy hunt from the publisher. Oh, they’re here, but it they come with a bit of baggage some can’t or won’t handle). This one’s a “slice of life” game, a visual novel where the person you’re playing wakes up in bed with a girl he met the night before and has (well, it’s an option here, but who doesn’t like a mystery?) to put the pieces together as he attempts to find out a few things about her.

Yeah, yeah. “Ooh, cooties” and all that dopey nonsense some will chime like broken bells as they whine about this game being the end of the world or bottom of the barrel or whatever. But it’s actually a pretty decent experience overall if you free yourself from any prejudices you may have Like it or not, some people in the real world sleep with each other and they’re not married and pumping out children. You can say this game is a sort of representational reality in a way of some (DEFINITELY not all) of the effects.

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Yeah, Let me choose (carefully, now!)…

Granted, waking up next to a total stranger is quite a change of pace (and how!) from this publisher of budget games, but it’s a risk that pays off big in little ways. As noted, the game is short (about 10 to 15 minutes per outcome), but replaying the scenario you get will extend the story across a few branches and yes, get you those trophies you’re after. As I like to note in my reviews of these games, Trophies are the last thing I think about and games like this are excellent ways to shake thing up.

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Review: A Knight’s Quest (PS4)

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“I’m a little Rusty at this!”

AKQ_PS4While it treads familiar ground, it does so with enough winking and nodding to classic action platform and open world games to be quite smile-worthy. Developer Sky9 and Curve Digital present A Knight’s Quest ($24.99) a fun and mostly very pretty looking homage to some greats, Fun as it is, it could use a patch to fix a few issues. That said, it’s quite exciting to see a game reach for the stars like this, but it’s also painful to see a few stumbles that keep it from 100% potential greatness. As noted above, a few fixes will make it the stellar experience it needs to be. Still, Curve Digital has a little sleeper on its hands that old-school platformer fans will find a lot to love.

As Rusty, a hero who’s a bit on the clumsy side, you start out the game finding a wooden sword and shield in a cave you’re exploring before all hell breaks loose a few minutes into things. This sequence shows off some thrilling platforming and a bit of combat as the cave is escaped, and high marks here for a nifty start to things. Plot-wise, it’s a “find the legendary heroes, gain elemental magic from each one than will help you in each area” thing you’d expect, but with a dose of lighthearted humor and Rusty riffing on what he can. The weird mix of styles to the game world (which mixes a sort of medieval fantasy setting with stuff like radios and chain link fences in areas that can’t be accessed right away) seems a bit odd, but it’s worth saying it works after seen enough times while exploring.

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Fire good! Uh, stop, drop, and roll dude.

Additionally, if you like collecting stuff, the game goes out of it’s way to get you to search for secrets in hidden places or heck, almost anywhere you happen to be. From hidden treasure caches to singing slugs to breakables of a few types, it offers quite a few secrets to discover. It all feels like a throwback to another time or a game that means to keep you as busy as possible for as long as you’re playing. An amusing thing here is the game references Sky9’s Flash adventure/RPG from a while back, so some jokes will go right over a few heads unless that game was played. I didn’t see a hidden version of that game here, but I wasn’t looking everywhere thanks to blazing through some later maps to get this post up. It’s too bad Sony considers the Vita a lost cause, as the game looks like it would be a fine diversion on the portable or even better, a bonus for console owners.

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Review: Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning (PS4)

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Oh, for now, it does, Larry…

Scehming 1Disclaimer: Zombies as portrayed in the media aren’t a real thing at all and if you’ve been paying attention, apocalypses (other than the cosmic variety) are kinda man-made messes these days.

That said, in Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning ($4.99, also on Switch, Xbox One, and PC) some really hilarious and crude content awaits in this game where an old cartoon rabbit called Hank and his younger mutt friend Larry, scam fellow animals to do their supply runs in this really fun and short (because it’s presented episodically) game from the fine folks at Entertainment Forge, GrabTheGames, and Ratalaika Games. The funky cartoon style and limited animation recall something you’d see in an underground comic or during Cartoon Network’s better years, the script is pretty funny, and the game is memorable enough that you’re left wanting more (and more is on the way).

As the game begins, a (or The) zombie apocalypse has started, and buddies Hank and Larry have plans to hole up with Hank’s storage of a year’s worth of food plus some movies to get by (and yes, some drugs). Four months later (oops), they’re out of supplies, the power has been turned off (it’s actually one of the first things that happens) and Hank and Larry have to brave the outside world to get new supplies, starting with the wrecked shop across the street from them. Poor Larry is the first guinea pig, as Hank’s a bit slow (and he’s got the binoculars) and he survives, only to run into a drunken parrot and two easily pissed-off bulls who demand they give up some of their hard-gained loot.

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Review: Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (PS4)

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Oh, wait ’til you have at least a dozen or so of these big guys to deal with and a few dozen or so ants and other bugs ti deal with (yipes).

EDF_IR BoxWith a new developer, new game engine and new elements to its gameplay, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain ($59.99, $89.99 for the Ultimate Edition) ends up being kind of a reboot on one hand, but totally new and harder that the other games in the franchise on the other. This is a good thing, although a few elements could use some fixing up. Veteran Japanese developer Yuke’s decided to go with making the game tougher overall even on the easiest mode to the point it’s rough going to solo some missions unless you have very particular weapons or play with other live players in split-screen or online. While yes, you can tackle missions alone if you like, the mix of enemy types combined with less open maps and AI allies who seem to expire too quickly in some of the busier maps make for less mindless fun but more challenge at the end of the day.

It’s also a big game, with new character customization galore and the ability to play any character as any class, swapping out the new PA Gear at will between missions. Though not quite as mission varied or long as the Sandlot-developed games, it’s still a lot of game for the money and if you’re into that, it’s going to be money well spent. Granted, the mighty EDF 5 did suffer from a few repetitive missions and maps and the next to last boss fight dragged a bit because you needed to figure out how to beat that transforming spaceship boss as quickly as possible (and it took a while to do so the first time). A few tweaks here would help make a good game better, though. The appeal to western audiences ends up adding some elements to the game that it really didn’t need, and I’m saying this as someone who liked Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon because it shook things up back when it was released.

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A Knight’s Quest Trailer: This Looks Like Fun Stuff, Indeed

From Canadian developer Sky9 Games and publisher Curve Digital comes A Knight’s Quest which definitely wears its 1990’s platform/RPG influences somewhat proudly on its sleeves for all to see.  It’s coming soon to Epic Games store, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and has already arrived for Xbox One. Fun fact: the game seems derived and definitely different from the quest-filled 2D adventure game by the developer from a few years back.

Check out the PS4 trailer below and get set for its October 10th release on the platforms that don’t yet have it:

I just got a PS4 review code yesterday and an pretty pleased to report that so far, it’s quite good stuff. Familiar intentionally to some classics you may recall, but absolutely very fun stuff, indeed. You’ll have to wait a touch for the full review, but I’m really having a blast with this one. Who’d have thought a clumsy main character would be so fun to play as?

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-GW

Meanwhile, Back at Microïds HQ… (2 of 2)

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Okay, my poor wrists were acting up a bit yesterday, so I had to cut my Microïds article short in order to get a few other posts out before things got ugly. Here’s what else is upcoming from the publisher:

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Both classics have gotten separate releases already, but here’s a chance to nab a twofer starting on November 21, 2019.  As reported here, the collection features the originals and their modern remasters that capture the look and feel of their counterparts with updated visuals that aren’t far off from the source, yet add a nice coating of newness to the experience. By the way, the games aren’t sequels to each other. They did help pioneer a certain look and have similar themes, though.

New content and new features:

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  • For the first time, play the Director’s Cut version (2 exclusive cut scenes)
  • White or pink? Choose one of the two historic colors of Conrad’s T-shirt
  • Play any level you’ve completed during the adventure
  • Replay the cut scenes you’ve watched during the adventure
  • Jukebox: enjoy the game’s music on demand
  • Street Art Gallery: earn points during the adventure to unlock images
  • Graphics filter and Post-FX
  • Remastered music and sound effects
  • A brand new “Rewind” function which lasts for different lengths of time, depending on the difficulty level
  • Tutorials

These are worth a look because of the history behind them and yes, indeed, both are pretty hard as nail on the default settings until you get the timing down perfectly.

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A Few More From Microïds to Keep You Moving (1 of 2)

In addition to the Blacksad news I posted a few days back, it’s going to be a pretty busy time going forwards for Microïds, that’s for sure. Let’s see now:

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Roman Rumble ArtRoman Rumble in Las Vegum (Asterix & Obelix XXL2) has arrived on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for $29.99. This one’s a remastered sequel to a PS2 game from 2003 that first got a sequel three years later and now it lands on the consoles above sporting new visuals and a wealth of gameplay improvements over the 2006 version. New dev team Osome Studios has taken Etranges Libellules‘ work and powered it up to the next level.

I’m ancient enough to remember reading many of the old and brilliant Goscinny and Uderzo comics as a kid, so this one will be plenty of nostalgic fun and a game that’s going to be acceptable for gamers of all ages. Check out the game trailer below for what to expect (I’m cracking up because the game riffs on a number of pop culture elements here and there) Viva lost wages! This one should be fun for a few laughs. Check it out:

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Blacksad: Under the Skin Story Trailer: Or, I Need to Get Out More (Or Stay Inside and Read More)

Well, this looks pretty cool. I’d never heard of this game or comic character before, but as a fan of adventure games for a while, this looks really fun and noir-ish is right on up my alley and then some. Microids, Pendulo Studios & YS Interactive are the folks behind this, so I’m going to be doing some digging to see If a review code can be located. I think I have at least one PR contact at Microids, so that’s a good sign. If this one’s as good as it looks, being aboard the train will turn out to be a fine thing indeed. Especially for those of us who haven’t yet read the comic stories yet.

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Well. looky here, bonuses if you want them!

 

The game will be available in retail and digital formats in either standard or Limited Editions (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One and Switch) on November 19th, 2019.

-GW