Review: Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds

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HAKU1_PackArtIf you or someone you love are suffering from FVN (Fear of Visual Novels), Idea Factory International has a great solution at an affordable price. Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds is a great introduction to otome games for Vita owners willing to try something different that’s well made and quite enjoyable.

Yes, longtime fans will recognize this as “only” an enhanced port of an older game they may have previously played. But they should also recognize the fact that every day someone might just want to try something out of their comfort zone they’ll probably like. Hey, an expanded fan base can be a good thing when all is said and done, right?

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No Man’s Sky Atlas Rises Update: That Final Frontier Just Got A Whole Lot Bigger


 

 
I’m one of those folks who totally ignored all the negativity spewed towards Hello Games and No Man’s Sky because I knew something so huge would require at least a year’s worth of patches and content updates. Although I finally broke down and bought a discounted new/sealed copy and installed it a while back, I really didn’t get to play more than about 4 hours before I got really sick and ended up in the hospital for a month back from mid-May to mid-June. Well, it looks as if I’ll need to dive back into outer space soon as the latest update, Atlas Rises, adds a wealth on new content and changes to the game, making it an even better product in the process. PSN users can grab the base game at 60% off ($23.99!) and the update should auto-download once you’re all paid up.

30 hours of new story content brings a new context, quest system and branching narrative to the game, there are mysterious portals to discover that allow interstellar travel, the trading, crafting and other elements have been improved and even space combat has been overhauled to be more challenging. There’s a lot going on here and while I’m dying to try it all out soon, I’m not even picking up that PS4 controller until I knock out a few items from my burgeoning backlog. Yeah, I know me, kids – once I get onto something this huge, I tend to park myself and go in for the long haul. I’m gathering the usual suspects will still be spouting bile about the game’s initial launch woes, but here’s a case where redemption of an evergreen is something worth cheering.

-GW
 

 

 

 

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Headed To PS4/Xbox One October 3rd


 

It’s about time Capcom ported over one of it’s biggest surprise sleepers from a few years back. I’m thinking the success of the PS version and all its tweaks plus a lot of fan bugging them helped compel this smart move. But hey, whatever. It looks as if the wait will be worth it. I’m gathering save data will NOT be transferable from any other versions of the game which means it’ll be a fresh start and all that exploration, fighting and leveling to do all over again. Yours truly won’t mind one bit as DD:DA is pretty compelling to dive into and has a lengthy campaign that doesn’t require playing with others to get your fill. I just need to find the time to sink into this gem, as I know my October is going to be packed with medical appointments (boo!). Then again, this seems like the perfect game to de-stress with for a while between visits to people poking and prodding at me and my assorted body fluids (yuck!).

-GW

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II PSN-Bound

 
Okay, it’s August 15 for you folks in the USA, but the game has dropped into the European PS Store already. As this PlayStation Blog post points out, a bunch of improvements and changes have been made over the PS original.

The Playstation 4 version of the game comes with a lot of new gameplay features, unique trophies, full DualShock 4 controller support and a completely reworked scenario mode and Tower Defense mini game. On PlayStation 4 Pro players are able to choose from three different settings: Better Performance (1920 x 1080 aiming @ 60fps), Balanced (2880 x 1620 aiming @ 50fps) and Better Quality (native 4K aiming @ 30fps).

– all of which sounds fine to me. Players of the first installment can (and should!) import their save file in order to take a more powerful Van Helsing into the second game, as the first big battle is indeed a tough one if you jump in under-prepared.

Even better, the game is only $14.99, making it a must for action ARPG fans looking for a budget-priced game that promises plenty of action for a fair price point.

-GW

Review: Valkyria Revolution (PS4)

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Valkyria Revolution PS4 (Custom)Well, veteran developer Media Vision gave it the old college try, but as a set in the past side story to the fan favorite Valkyria Chronicles series, Valkyria Revolution isn’t so thrilling as a game experience. Packed full of overlong exposition, mostly pretty visuals ruined by stiffly animated characters, and somewhat weak gameplay, this one manages to be somewhat lifeless despite trying very hard to appeal to longtime fans and players new to the series.

That said, the music is great, some of the timely political intrigue is interesting enough, as is the main storytelling device of a teacher and student discussing events that happened decades earlier. But the core gameplay never rises above mediocre thanks to somewhat loose controls and a “tactical” side that really doesn’t add much challenge. It’s not a “bad” game per se – it’s just one where you may feel too much time was spent on making a game packed with too much of some stuff and too little of everything else.

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Review: AereA (PS4)


 
 

While it’s not as great as it should have been out of the gate, there’s still time to fix this sleeper up with a decent patch and make it an even better product.

Developer Triangle Studios’ AereA makes for an interesting blend of familiar elements that gamers willing to overlook its flaws should enjoy. Indie publisher Soedesco has released this as a marquee mid-priced ($39.99) retail and digital game and it’s clear they’re wanting it to be a sleeper hit for casual to veteran ARPG fans. Colorful visuals, fast-paced gameplay and a superb score (by Deon van Heerden) are all strong points. Unfortunately, game balance issues, a poor English localization, and the lack of any post-game content hurt the overall experience.

A sort of love child of Diablo, Wild Tangent’s Fate series and Runic’s original Torchlight, the Unity-powered visuals and emphasis on action are initially impressive. Additionally, the ability to play couch co-op with up to three other players is a nice touch (no online play is supported). However, the very straightforward story progression, a total lack of personality in its four mute heroes, and some technical/UI problems made me grimace more than grin through my 22+ hours with the game.

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Review: Perception (PS4)

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Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

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Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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A Little Victor Vran Does A Body Good

 

VVOE_PS4As I’m still in recovery mode after my hospitalization, I’ll be brief with this review/recommendation. In short, Haemimont Games has done an absolutely spectacular job in bringing over its action/RPG Victor Vran to consoles and yes, you should pick this one up if you’re a like-minded chase & chop fanatic. The game’s enhanced content gets it re-titled Victor Vran: Overkill Edition with good reason.

Between the lengthy main quest to save the cursed city of Zagoravia, the randomly generated Fractured Worlds and quirky as hell Motörhead Through the Ages expansions, there’s a LOT of game here for a mere $40. And that doesn’t include the 2-player local co-op, 4-player online co-op, PvP mode or (optional) daily challenges that extend the fun for those who want to dive into a bit of competitive action.

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Neon Chrome Makes For Entertainment Outside The Game Space

 

This was amusing enough to have me typing a game-related post sooner than expected.  So, one game PS Plus users got this month for free was Neon Chrome, a top-down twin stick shooter/action RPG (I guess it’s a sort of rogue-like thanks to the random maps?) that has been around since 2016. PS Plus owners also get PS4 Pro support and a free cross-platform Vita version… unless they’ve downloaded the game demo at some point during the last year. Oops.

It seems that there’s a problem where the game demo won’t update even if you delete it and any save files. Oops. The only solutions are to contact PlayStation Customer Support (use the chat option for fastest results) who will hit you up with questions before hooking you up with a new code. It’s a reasonably fast process, so don’t let the average of 28 users in front of you be a deterrent. I thought I’d have enough time for a to boil water for cup of tea, but the doorbell rang and my number rolled up before the water had boiled.

Anyway, a nice guy named Caesar was on my case and did me up right. Considering I’m still in recovery mode (among other things, I’d had a stroke and a few seizures) and Sony has a tight two-minute per line of text time limit, we did alright with my chuggy typing and I got both versions of the game downloaded within about 25 minutes. Of course, I’m not even planning to play this game for the foreseeable future thanks to the rather HUGE backlog of games and movies I have. I’m going to try and kick out a short review this week for a recent arrival, but we’ll see how the therapy visits go this week.

-GW

 

Deadly Premonition: The Board Game Update (Surprise Swery Edition)

Well, oops. I was wrong. But that’s okay this time.

 


 

It turns out Swery does indeed have a hand in this particular pie after all. Excellent. So far, Deadly Premonition: The Board Game is still in production, so we’ll have to find out later if it’ll be partially crowdfunded or a fully-funded Rising Star Games project (EDIT: see below!). Either way, much of the game’s fan base is very likely going to be pleased while the rest will need to go make some friends in the real world as opposed to living vicariously through others online unless this board game gets some sort of digital treatment.

More updates to come as news lands in the inbox.

-GW

Well, ooh – news has landed in the inbox, so here’s an update: THE GAME IS NOW LIVE ON KICKSTARTER!  Three bucks gets you a Steam code for the bizarre horror/mystery action/adventure adventure Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut, while $30 gets you the board game and that Steam Key mentioned above. The game will come in Standard and Special Edition versions and yes, stretch goals are in the works should the game push way past its initial funding goals.

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Press release below the jump – the funding is already over the halfway point ($32K funded with a goal of $50K!)
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