Review: Wheels of Aurelia

Bravo, Santa Ragione and Brava, Lella! This driving sim/adventure hybrid’s a definite Game of the Year contender that will make those who “get” it want to crack open a few books and do some heavy reading and/or thinking.

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Platform: PC (also on Mac/Linux/PS4/Xbox One)
Developer: Santa Ragione
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Release Date: 9/20/2016
# of Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Site
Score: A (95%) BUY IT!

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Calling Santa Ragione’s outstanding Wheels of Aurelia a simple “driving simulation” is REALLY selling it short. This brilliantly conceived hybrid game is more of a mature “choose your own path conversation-based adventure that just so happens to take place in a almost constantly moving car” with 16 possible outcomes and more than that many ways to reach them. From the beautiful stylized simplicity of the art, the great soundtrack (buy it!) that captures the spirit of late 70’s Italian radio tracks, and the mature script that may rankle a few overly sensitive types while striking others as flat out fantastic and thought-provoking.


Save for the ride you choose, the game’s opening is exactly the same each time. In 1978, Lella and Olga, two young Italian ladies who met the previous evening at a disco, set out on a road trip to France on the Via Aurelia along the western coast of Italy. Along the way, the pair talk about life, pick up a hitchhiker or two (or none – it’s up to you) and based on the path both the conversation and car takes, the game reaches a conclusion in all of 15 minutes or so. 16 endings at 15 minutes each ends up at 4 hours total playtime IF you’re silly enough to think you’ll see every conversation and character variant possible. The combination of period-era history, frankly spoken dialogue and some VERY interesting hitchhikers make this very replayable as well as a great exercise in storytelling.

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TGS 2016: BERSERK + Musou Stars Make Up For An Ongoing Crappy Year


 

So. This week? LOUSY. I’m still trying to get my busted PlayStation 3 back from the jerk in Brooklyn who I sent it to for repair but neither did the work nor sent back the console, but can’t seem to get the legal wheels I set in motion to move faster after over four months. I finally went and bought my own new PS4 last week, but just found out it was shipped and allegedly arrived on the 12th, but was REFUSED, which is somewhat IMPOSSIBLE. I was here waiting for it all damn week and, hell, I don’t REFUSE any packages with my name on them. I suspect something fishy happened with the USPS driver and my purchase, as the standard procedure is to leave a slip in the mailbox if a recipient isn’t home. To me, REFUSED means someone figured out what was in the box and decided to give him or herself an early holiday gift at my expense.

I’ve contacted the seller to see if that return has indeed been returned and am waiting for a response. USPS is NO help at all, as all I got from them in an email saying the package was REFUSED and sent back, but I need to find out if it was received before proceeding further. If that PS4 is unaccounted for, I’ll be quite (well, even MORE) annoyed. Losing my old PS3 with ten years of save data is bad enough, considering I ended up having to replace that console with the same model, which wasn’t cheap. Losing $300 more on that new PS4 is going to make me want to kick something off the planet. Amusingly enough, I’d forgotten Tokyo Game Show is happening and Koei Tecmo gave my stressed out brain two games I really want to play… even though I currently have nothing to play them on.


 

Yeah, I hate people sometimes. Particularly the ones that cost me time and money on nonsense like this. FEH. Well… first world problems, I guess? Somebody have a good weekend out there, as I sure as hell won’t. I have NO idea with is up with me and tech and a few other things this year, but this song is now my life’s main title theme:

(Thanks, JORGE HITS OFFICIAL!)

Strike Vector EX: When Console Beats PC, Heads Explode

RageQuit Corporation blasts out a powerful killer PS4 “port” full of needed enhancements, but will it make enough noise to get the attention it deserves?

Usually (okay, most, if not all of the time), a console port of a PC game will be deemed inferior by those nose in the air die-hard PC-ONLY flag-wavers who deem the very idea of a game console and those who use them as something best swept under a rug. Me, I don’t play that crap. I do however, play what I like on anything I like and as long as it runs fine and I’m happy? Well, that’s fine and yep, I’m happy. It’s recently come to my attention that the newly enhanced PlayStation 4 version of the PC game Strike Vector adds content not found in the original and those additions make for a better game overall game experience.

BOOM.

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Yeah, I said it and other than the highly tweakable visuals and adjustable frame rate quality PC gaming offers, it’s actually true here. The PC version was/is an online-only MP focused shooter with transformable and player customized ships zipping around in some VERY solid dogfights spread across some very nicely designed maps. Unfortunately, it’s only been just over 2.5 years since it launched and the player base is very nearly dead. Strike Vector EX on PS4 ($14.99) adds a 15-mission solo campaign, AI bots for those needing to practice on opponents before hopping online, and a few other very welcome changes. Continue reading

Free Stuff Friday: Assault Suits Leynos on Steam, Anyone?

LEYNOS logo 1024x416Hokay, Ember still isn’t up and running on Steam yet, so I’m going to plan B, thanks to the fine folks at Rising Star Games! BOOM! ONE lucky person with a Steam account will win ONE absolutely FREE code for the the hard as heck Assault Suits Leynos. Post here and I’ll pick a winner tomorrow at noon!

Rules and such below the jump.

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Review: Laser Disco Defenders (Vita)

And I thought Assault Suits Leynos was tough. HA!

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Platform: PlayStation Vita (PSN)
Developer: Out of Bounds Games
Publisher: Excalibur Games
# of Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Official Site
Score: A (90%)

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Don’t let the cute art style and funky tunes fool you one bit, folks. Laser Disco Defenders is a tough cookie of a shooter that will test the skills and patience of the most hardcore gamers out there. Ten bucks is a bargain for a game that takes a while to complete and will keep the best coming back for more. That trailer makes it look like a simple “pew-pew-pew!” casual bit of fluff, but make no mistake – the game will eat your lunch before you make it to the first boss and it only gets tougher as you progress. At some point the more impatient out there will possibly want to jump up and down on their poor Vitas simply because stomping on both hands will only result with some nurse feeding them applesauce for a few weeks.

That said, I love this game quite a lot. Continue reading

VIRGINIA Is For Lovers (Of Offbeat Interactive Adventure Games)

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Virginia is a first person interactive drama. It is the story of a recently graduated FBI agent and her partner as they seek to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young boy.

 

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Coming September 22 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from developer Variable State and publisher 505 Games, VIRGINIA is a visually stylized, dialog-free modern noir mystery/adventure game that pays homage to surreal entertainment such as Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Fargo. There’s a great PC demo available now on Steam that leaves more questions swirling in the brain than it gives answers about what’s in store for players, but this is a good thing.

All I can say is it has something to do with a missing teenager, dreamlike transitions from place to place, a possible relationship between the two FBI agents working on the case together, and oh, yeah… a buffalo that pops up at the weirdest moments. Yeah. But it somehow works exceptionally well enough that I’d bet non-gaming mystery fans will want to sit next to someone playing as play brainiac buddy as things unfold.

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Okay, I’ll let you in on more precise details below the jump – I don’t want the suspense to kill you that much… Continue reading

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death Gallery

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Be careful what you wish for, especially when you wish for something saucy like “anime gals in a DUNGEON… with mecha!, Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa!” and you’re not very specific beyond that. *POOF* Your wish is Idea Factory International‘s command (*whipcrack!*) with the upcoming Vita game MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death, coming to PlayStation Vita September 13 (North America) and the 16th in Europe.

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IF, Compile Heart, and Makaiichibankan’s deviously deep dungeon crawler looks to captivate and challenge JRPG fans with its cute cast and no doubt challenging turn-based combat that should please those who liked similar gal-centric JRPGs or even mixed party titles. Here’s a gallery full of game trailers and screens to ogle along with some info about what to expect continuing right below the jump.

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SHINESS: The Lightning Kingdom Gallery

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French developer Enigami has been hard at work on its Action/RPG SHINESS: The Lightning Kingdom for about three years now and with publisher Focus Home Interactive set to bring the game to eager PC, PS4 and Xbox One owners later this year, it’s time to take a look at it in one big video and image gallery. Here’s the most recent gameplay trailer, or more precisely, a story trailer presented at Gamescom 2016:


 

More action abounds in this earlier gameplay trailer:


 

But, wait… there’s more! Continue reading

Axiom Verge Wii U: September 1 Is The Day It Comes “Home”

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Excellent. I’m literally buried in stuff to-day (one shelf of games fell over earlier!) but you all go and read THIS post by Tom Happ and then smile a lot if you haven’t seen or played Axiom Verge yet. Excellent. Back in a bit – I’m up to my nose hairs in work (and have a pile of games to get back up, to boot!)

-GW

Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom Gamescom 2016 Trailer: The Boy’s A Beast (Well, A Few Of Them)

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Well, wow. The Game Atelier has been busy and quiet for a bit, but there’s the reason why above. Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom is looking even more phenomenal and according to publisher FDG Entertainment, will be coming to PS4 and Xbox One first, followed by PC and possibly, a Nintendo console (according to NintendoLife). No speculation here on that latter point, but at least two versions of this one will be played here at DAF HQ.

-GW